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The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

“The Girl on the Train” is based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel of the same name and is adapted for the screen by Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary) and directed by actor/director Tate Taylor who directed “The Help” and “Get on Up”.  There’s plenty of talent there alone to entice you to the theatre this weekend but I’ll give you a few more good reasons to catch this somewhat complicated whodunnit; Emily Blunt, who is simply brilliant in her role, Haley Bennett and Justin Theroux.  The story starts with introducing you to a girl on a train, Rachel (Blunt), more woman than girl in years but girl in behavior, as she tells you of the houses she passes each day and her curiosity as to what the lives are like within them.  She begins to more or less obsess over one particular couple in love, Megan (Bennett) and Scott (Evans), who reside in a house she wished she lived.  He is the sexy husband she desires to have and she is the beautiful young woman with whom she longed to be.  Soon, we learn that she had once lived two doors down in a lovely home that is still occupied by her ex-husband, Tom (Theroux), his wife, Anna (Ferguson), and their baby.  What led to her divorce may be what now leads her to occupy her mind with such things as what goes on in what she considers to be a more perfect life than hers; alcohol, her personal demon.  She drinks heavily, on the train and off, and is paranoid,often blacks out and sees things that may or may not be actually happening, because of her drinking problem. 

The story has a purposely, sometimes agonizingly, slow reveal, using flashbacks to catch you up on what gets Rachel to this point in life.  It also uses this trick to show the direction her life now leads as well as solidly placed scenes to throw you off the scent as to where the chiller is taking you.  It’s leading up to a moment when she gets off the train, wanting to take action on a situation she sees happen and getting involved in something she shouldn’t be.  Her plight gets more and more involved and she gets deeper and deeper into something she now cannot escape.

Some of the dialogue can be trite and a bit stuffy at times but overall, the mystery she becomes entangled in is one of the best I’ve seen since the fantastic, “Gone Girl” from 2014. Not wanting to reveal much more about the story I will add that Blunt is most likely looking at a best actress nomination.  She plays her character with passion and despair and motivates you to go on this journey with her and you’re more than happy to hitch your wagon to it.  Wilson and Taylor have given three woman the opportunity to excel and they more than do.  Theroux, as well as the rest of the supporting cast, also stand out bringing this thriller to life for what will be one of your favorite complex stories of the year.

Bridget Jones's Baby

Bridget Jones’s Baby

I’ll admit I was skeptical.  ‘Our favorite “singleton” having a baby?!’  With television programs, this is usually the “jump the shark” moment.  Have studios learned nothing from that?  How could this be good for a film that centers on our “Bridge” and her love affairs?!

Back in 2001, I met Bridget Jones in “Bridget Jones Diary” and have seen the film a dozen times or more since.  If I happen by while someone’s watching; I’ll watch, too.  If it’s on cable, I can’t resist and will stop flipping and complete the film.  I loved Oscar® winner Renée Zellweger’s performance and her commitment to authenticity with the character that she took on.  She was willing to gain a lot of weight, which for a woman in Hollywood is an extremely risky move, she looked “mousey” and her hair was generally a complete mess the entire time she was on screen.  No matter.  The success of the film proved that with a sound tale to tell, good actors and ability to provide realistic, more importantly, relatablestorylines, anything is achievable. 

Risk to her health was not taken this time as Zellweger once again plays Bridget Jones, oddball and overall crazy person.  She remained her svelte self and even though her character is pregnant this time around she preferred padding to real weight gain, letting the make-up department get her to where she needed to be.

What “Bridget Jones Baby” mostly gives is why you loved it in the first place and that is mostly what you’d hope… Bridget.  In fact, it felt a lot like the first one without being unoriginal.  Needless to say, there’s a fight between two men and you picking sides is once again at the heart of things. 

Humor is throughout the plot, aimed straight at Jones and her choices.  She has two nights with two different men and now, not knowing who the father of the baby is, she’s trying desperately to find out the answer to this predicament she’s in… without letting them know what she’s up to.  Her prenatal doctor is played by Emma Thompson and she couldn’t have been more delightful.

For the most part, the secondary characters are a joy and add surprisingly detailed elements to what could have been a disaster.  What made it work was its ability to remain a Bridget Jones film.  It was as reliable as Bridget herself, yet at the end, it introduced her reason to be a little self indulgent and close her diary for good for it’s time to put someone, other than her lovers, in the forefront of her life.  There are a few moments that are very touching, even scenes from the first film that will have you realizing how many years have gone by. 

So, which man will get her heart, Mark or Jack?  You’ll have to watch and see.  Will it be the one you want her to end up with?  You’ll have to return and answer that for me yourself.  So, if you liked the first movie, you’ll like this one.  Aside from a few silly scenes, I have to recommend you check this out for a good laugh; it’s enjoyable and amusing.

Masterminds movie poster

Masterminds

“Masterminds” is a comedy based on the true story of one of the largest bank heists in America… and one of the most simplistic minds there is.  Galifianakis plays David Ghantt who would do anything for the woman of his dreams.  Galifianakis would do anything for a role, going as far as “sharting” in a pool for this one.  Okay!  I couldn’t help myself.  I laughed at that.  Sometimes the really stupid funny makes me giggle and this is about as stupid as they come. 

Based in North Carolina, Hess uses every southern stereotype he could find from wood paneling on all the walls to a high-rise double-wide trailer to the hicks in them but the worst is the extra nauseatingly thick accent Galifianakis uses.  It gets old very fast but there’s something about his comedy in this movie that you can’t help but find amusing and enjoy.  I’d guess it’s his chemistry with director Jared Hess of “Nacho Libre” and “Napoleon Dynamite” that works to create a blissfully ignorant hayseed who is somehow still smart enough to pull of a 17 million dollar heist for the woman he loves, Kelly (Wiig), who is not his fiancé, might I add.  His fiancé is Jandice and portrayed by McKinnon who does white trash brilliantly and the only way to describe her character is “weird”.  McKinnon is always good at weird but this Jandice character goes way beyond the norm.  Wiig, executes the love interest in the film and is, for the most part, playing straight for a change.  There are a few laughs from her but it seems oddly fitting that she is the balance to all of the crazy going on; you expect insane from her in a film like this but when she delivers compassion and caring for someone getting taken advantage of, the story seems more real.

Kelly gets David to help her and her pals steal the money and behind his back they have planned on David to also be the fall guy.  Steve Chambers (Wilson) is running the show and after David steals the money from Loomis, Fargo & Co., which becomes the second largest cash robbery in U.S. history, even appearing on shows like “America’s Most Wanted” because of it, he sends David to Mexico with a small allowance until things cool down and they “meet up with him later.” While they are living the good life, he’s in Mexico waiting for his girl.  So, perhaps the David in the film isn’t so far removed from reality.  However, feeling the pain of being the patsy, perhaps an exaggerated film of bringing them all to justice was his best revenge.

The sight gags in “Masterminds” are great.  The characters are grotesquely over-the-top and you’ll laugh but to dig deeper into what you’re seeing, the structure isn’t there and doesn’t hold up.  It feels as if you’re clicking on Youtube, looking for the funny clips and all the while not as entertained in-between the clicks. However, the costume changes and bizarre you get from Galifianakis and then the relationship that develops between him and the man sent to kill him, Mike McKinney (Sudeikis), makes this absurd film one to take a peek at.  It has that “Napoleon Dynamite” feel to it and I wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up momentum with people watching this more than once to take it all in again and to perhaps take another look at the characters to figure out who may have taken the still missing two million dollars.  Now you’re interested.  By the way, stay at the end for some extra fun stuff.