Sunday, January 19, 2014

All This Entertainment For Less Than The Cost Of A Restaurant Entree

I love movies.

I'll watch anything with Mark Wahlberg, Jason Bateman, Denzel Washington, Ryan Gosling, Matt Damon, any of the Afflecks, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, John Cusack, Melissa McCarthy (although I did not like Bridesmaids), Sandra Bullock or George Clooney (although I hated Gravity), my boyfriend Channing Tatum (with him, it has zero to do with acting)....gosh, there are so many actors I like, it's hard to choose.

But choose we did, from the RedBox around the corner.  We wore that thing out.  We've watched more movies this visit home than usual.  Here's the short list, with the RedBox synopsis for each flick.  I've put two stars (**) next to the ones I recommend.

** The Reluctant Fundamentalist:  Lahore, 2011. At an outdoor cafĂ©, a Pakistani man named Changez tells American journalist Bobby about his experiences in the United States. Roll back ten years, and we find Changez, fresh from Princeton, seeking fortune and glory on Wall Street. The American Dream seems well within his grasp, complete with a smart and gorgeous artist girlfriend, Erica. But when the Twin Towers are attacked, a cultural divide slowly begins to crack open between Changez and Erica. Changez's dream soon begins to slip into nightmare: profiled, wrongfully arrested, strip-searched and interrogated, he is transformed from a well-educated, upwardly mobile businessman to a scapegoat and perceived enemy. And with time, he begins to hear the call of his own homeland.

Dark Skies:  Daniel and Lacey, a young couple living in the suburbs, witness a series of disturbing events and their tranquil home life quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the family is the target of some horrific force, Daniel and Lacey must take matters into their own hands before it tears their family apart..

Only God Forgives:  Ten years after killing a man and going on the run, Julian now manages a boxing club in Bangkok, which in reality is a front for his drug operation. When Julian's brother kills a prostitute, a mysterious and unbalanced policeman arranges to have him killed in revenge by the girl's father. This prompts Julian's mother to come to Bangkok. The powerful head of a criminal organization, she's come to retrieve her son's body and to instruct Julian to find his killers and create chaos in the process.

The Power of Few:  During one afternoon in New Orleans: A desperate teenager assaults a store clerk to get medicine for his ailing baby brother. Two undercover agents come into conflict with the rules of torture while taking down a terrorist ring. To feed himself, a delusional homeless man steals a gun from a cop and sells it to the wrong guy. And while delivering a package, a courier rescues a man on the run and becomes the target of a ruthless gang. All are unknowingly connected to a smuggling operation, and they are to cross paths on that day.

Oblivion:  Jack Harper is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack's mission is nearly complete. Living in and patrolling the skies from thousands of feet above, he is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.

Stuck In Love:  Three years past his divorce, veteran novelist Bill Borgens cannot stop obsessing over, let alone spying on, his ex-wife Erica, who ignominiously left him for another man. Even as his neighbor-with-benefits, Tricia, tries to push him back into the dating pool, he remains blind to anyone else's charms. Meanwhile, his fiercely independent collegiate daughter Samantha is publishing her first novel while recoiling at the very thought of first love with a diehard romantic; and his teen son Rusty is trying to find his voice, both as a fantasy writer and as the unexpected boyfriend of a dream girl with very real problems. As each of these situations mounts into a tangled trio of romantic holiday crises, it brings the Borgens to surprising revelations about how endings become beginnings.

Peeples:  Sparks fly when Wade Walker crashes the preppy Peeples annual reunion in the Hamptons to ask for their precious daughter Grace's hand in marriage. Wade might be a fish-out-of-water among this seemingly perfect East Coast clan, but he's not about to let himself flounder. Instead, in a wild weekend of fun, dysfunction and hilarious surprises, Wade is about to discover there's room for all kinds of Peeples in this family, no matter their differences.

** Disconnect:  The need for human connection is told through interweaving stories: A hard-working lawyer is attached to his cell phone, but can't find the time to communicate with his family. An estranged couple uses the Internet as a way to escape from their lifeless marriage. A widowed former police officer struggles to raise a son who is cyber-bullying a classmate. An ambitious journalist learns of a teen performing on an adult-only site and sees this as a career-making story.

Redemption:  After his traumatic tour of duty in Afghanistan, ex-Special Forces soldier Joey returns to London to face another kind of war: life on the streets as a damaged, homeless veteran. Trying to start over, Joey takes another man's identity and seeks the aid of a young nun who works at an inner-city parish. When his training as a soldier leads him into work in London's criminal underworld, Joey offers his profits to those who need it most in order to maintain his integrity. But when he learns that his girlfriend has been murdered by a kingpin, he risks all he has for revenge, choosing a path that will either destroy him or be his last hope at redemption.

**  The Frozen Ground:  Based on a true story that follows Alaskan State Trooper Jack Halcombe as he sets out to end the murderous rampage of Robert Hansen, a serial killer who has gone unnoticed for 13 years. As the bodies of street girls start to pile up in Anchorage, fear strikes a chord with the public. Risking his life, Halcombe goes on a personal manhunt to find the killer before the next body surfaces. When a seventeen-year-old escapee reveals key information about the case, Halcombe is finally on the trail of the killer. But will he catch him in time to save the next victim?

**  The East:  Former FBI agent Sarah Moss is starting a new career at Hiller Brood, an elite private intelligence firm that ruthlessly protects the interests of its A-list corporate clientele. Handpicked for a plum assignment by the company's head honcho Sharon, Sarah goes deep undercover to infiltrate The East, an elusive anarchist collective seeking revenge against major corporations guilty of covering up criminal activity. Determined, highly-trained and resourceful, Sarah soon ingratiates herself with the group, overcoming their initial suspicions and joining them on their next action or "jam." But living closely with the intensely committed members of The East, Sarah finds herself torn between her two worlds as she starts to connect with anarchist Benji and the rest of the collective, and awakens to the moral contradictions of her personal life.

**  The Factory:  Detective Mike Fletcher and his partner patrol the streets of Buffalo, NY, on the trail of a madman who targets prostitutes. But when his own daughter disappears, Fletcher throws the rules out the window as he stalks the killer.

**  Prisoners:  Keller Dover is facing every parent's worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter Anna and her young friend Joy are missing, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki arrests its driver, Alex Jones, but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?

Mud:  Two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios-he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn't long until Mud's visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.

The Colony:  As an endless winter engulfs Earth, humans struggle to survive in remote underground outposts. When Colony 7 receives a distress call from a nearby settlement, Sam and Briggs race through the snow on a dangerous rescue mission. What they find at the desolate base could mean mankind's salvation-or its total annihilation. Terrifying discoveries will unfold that will change the rules of survival forever

Fruitvale Station:  Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother, whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina and a better father to Tatiana, their beautiful four-year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day. Oscar's life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area - and the entire nation - to its very core.

**  Identity Thief:  Unlimited funds have allowed Diana to live it up on the outskirts of Orlando. There's only one glitch: she's financing her shopping sprees with an ID stolen from Sandy Patterson, an accounts rep who lives halfway across the U.S. With only one week to hunt down the con artist before his world implodes, the real Sandy Patterson is forced to extreme measures to clear his name. He hits the road to confront the woman with an all-access pass to his life and coerce her into making the 2,000 mile road trip back to Colorado to set things right.

Thanks For Sharing:  On the surface, over-achieving environmental consultant Adam, long-married small-business owner Mike, and wisecracking emergency-room doctor Neil, have little in common. But all are in different stages of dealing with addiction. Confident and successful in his career, Adam is afraid to allow love back into his life, even if that means losing a chance to start over with the beautiful and accomplished Phoebe. Mike's efforts to control his wife and son as tightly as he does are tearing his family apart. And Neil is still deeply in denial when befriended by Dede, who has just begun to take her own small steps back to health. As they navigate the rocky shores of recovery, the three men become a family that encourages, infuriates and applauds each other on the journey toward a new life.

We're The Millers:  David Burke is a small-time pot dealer whose clientele includes chefs and soccer moms, but no kids-after all, he has his scruples. So what could go wrong? Plenty. Preferring to keep a low profile for obvious reasons, he learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished when he tries to help out some local teens and winds up getting jumped by a trio of gutter punks. Stealing his stash and his cash, they leave him in major debt to his supplier, Brad. In order to wipe the slate clean-and maintain a clean bill of health-David must now become a big-time drug smuggler by bringing Brad's latest shipment in from Mexico. Twisting the arms of his neighbors, cynical stripper Rose and wannabe customer Kenny, and the tatted-and-pierced streetwise teen Casey, he devises a foolproof plan. One fake wife, two pretend kids and a huge, shiny RV later, the "Millers" are headed south of the border for a Fourth of July weekend that is sure to end with a bang.

Elysium: In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine, man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet's crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium - but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens' luxurious lifestyle. The only man with the chance to bring equality to these worlds is Max, an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission - one that pits him against Elysium's Secretary Delacourt and her hard-line forces - but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.  

2 Guns:  For the past 12 months, DEA agent Bobby Trench and U.S. naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman have been reluctantly attached at the hip. Working undercover as members of a narcotics syndicate, each man distrusts his partner as much as the criminals they have both been tasked to take down. When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel and recover millions goes haywire, Trench and Stigman are suddenly disavowed by their superiors. Now that everyone wants them in jail or in the ground, the only one each can count on is the other. Unfortunately for their pursuers, when good guys spend years pretending to be bad, they pick up a few tricks along the way.

Getaway:  Former race car driver Brent Magna is pitted against the clock. Desperately trying to save the life of his kidnapped wife, Brent commandeers a custom Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake, taking it and its unwitting owner on a high-speed race against time, at the command of the mysterious villain holding his wife hostage.

**  The Heat:  Uptight and straight-laced, FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn is a methodical investigator with a reputation for excellence--and hyper-arrogance. Shannon Mullins, one of Boston P.D.'s "finest," is foul-mouthed and has a very short fuse, and uses her gut instinct and street smarts to catch the most elusive criminals. Neither has ever had a partner, or a friend for that matter. When these two wildly incompatible law officers join forces to bring down a ruthless drug lord, they become the last thing anyone expected: buddies.

White House Down:  Washington D.C. policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job of being a Secret Service agent and protecting President James Sawyer. Not wanting to disappoint his young daughter with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, and they are there when the complex is overtaken by a paramilitary group. Now the nation's government is falling into chaos, time is running out and it's up to Cale to save the president, his daughter and the country.

Red 2:  Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his motley team of elite operatives for a worldwide hunt to track down a missing portable nuclear device. In order to succeed, they'll need to survive relentless assassins, ruthless terrorists and power-crazed government officials, who all want to get their hands on the next-generation weapon. The mission takes Frank and his team to Paris, London and Moscow. They are outgunned, outnumbered and have only their wits, old-school skills and each other to rely on as they try to save the world-and stay alive.

**  The Internship:  Billy and Nick are salesmen whose careers have been demolished by the digital world. Trying to prove their relevance, they talk their way into coveted internships at Google, along with a team of bright, ambitious college students. But gaining entrance to this utopia is only half the battle. Now they must compete with a group of the nation's most elite, tech-savvy geniuses to prove that necessity really is the mother of re-invention.

Ain't Them Bodies Saints:  After a long crime spree, passionate young outlaws and lovers Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie are caught in a shootout in the Texas hills and apprehended. When pregnant Ruth wounds one of the lawmen, Bob takes the blame and is sent to prison. Four years later he escapes and goes looking for Ruth and the daughter he has never met.

**  Paranoia:  The two most powerful tech billionaires in the world are bitter rivals with a complicated past who will stop at nothing to destroy each other. A young superstar, seduced by unlimited wealth and power falls between them, and becomes trapped in the middle of the twists and turns of their life-and-death game of corporate espionage. By the time he realizes his life is in danger, he is in far too deep and knows far too much for them to let him walk away.

**  Adore:  Two women cross the boundaries of friendship when they each have affairs with the others son.

Open Road:  Angie, a young Brazilian on the run from her past, finds an unexpected connection with an aging drifter, a handsome cop and his sympathetic sister. As she learns to care for her new friends, Angie finds herself torn between the freedom of her nomadic life and the joy of becoming part of a community that truly cares about her.

Parker:  Parker is a professional thief who refuses either to steal from people who can't afford the loss or hurt those who are innocent. On his latest heist, his crew double-crosses him, stealing his cash and then leaving him for dead. Parker sets out to get his revenge, tracking them down in Palm Beach where they are planning a heist to end all heists. Parker takes on a disguise and a savvy partner, Leslie. Together they come up with a plan to foil the heist and get away without a hitch.

The Numbers Station:  After his latest mission goes horribly wrong, veteran CIA black ops agent Emerson Kent is given one last chance to prove he still has what it takes to do his job. His new assignment: guarding Katherine, a code operator at a top-secret, remote CIA "Numbers Station" where encrypted messages are sent and received. When an elite team of heavily armed assailants lays siege to the station, Emerson and Katherine suddenly find themselves in a life-or-death struggle against an unknown enemy. With the station compromised and innocent lives at stake, they must stop the deadly plot before it's too late.

The Purge:  In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual, 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity-including murder-becomes legal. The police can't be called. Hospitals suspend help. It's one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. When an intruder breaks into James Sandin's gated community during the yearly lockdown, a sequence of events begins that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife Mary, and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.

**  Girl Most Likely: Imogene is a failed New York playwright awkwardly navigating the transition from Next Big Thing to Last Year's News. After both her career and relationship hit the skids, she's forced to make the humiliating move back home to New Jersey with her eccentric mother and younger brother. Adding further insult to injury, there's a strange man sleeping in her old bedroom and an even stranger man sleeping in her mother's bed. Through it all, Imogene eventually realizes that as part of her rebuilding process she must finally come to love and accept both her family and her Jersey roots if she's ever going to be stable enough to get the hell away from them.

As Cool As I Am:  James Marsden and Claire Danes star as parents of a teenage girl who is not only frustrated with the fact that her parents refuse to "grow up," but also wants more for herself and dreams of a bigger life.

Let's just say that it's a good thing some of these movies cost less than a pack of gum.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Ten Things I Hate About Flying

2012: Teeth Or Another European Vacation? Ooooh, It’s A Real Toss Up.
2011: Not So Wacky After All
2010: Spreading The Word
2009: He Had A Dream. Tomorrow We See It Come True.
2008: Who Do You Know?
2007: South Beach Blue
2006: Jawl Spake Anglesh??
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!  

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