Dragged Across Concrete (a movie blurt)

The story is driven by main characters making decision that lead you to throw out the notion of good guys vs. bad guys. Two detectives, played by Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, are caught on a cellphone video arresting a drug dealer. The act of the arrest is perceived as overly aggressive by the media. As a result, they are suspended without pay for several weeks. Their unexpected furlough compounds financial concerns for Mel Gibson’s character who is forced to reconsider moving his wife — who has multiple sclerosis — and a daughter, who is being bullied – away from their rough neighborhood. His questionable plan to make ends meet somehow intersects with a smart, recently released neighborhood felon. He wants to begin living a straight life but is pulled back into crime. That’s because he is faced with having to take care of his mother, who has taken up hooking to subsist, and a wheelchair-bound younger brother, whose dream is to someday go to college and become a videogame creator.  As may be expected with any S. Craig Zahler film with such a graphic title, the movie is gritty and intense, leaving viewers to gasp just when they thought they could sit back and eat popcorn.

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How to be a Latin Lover (a movie blurt)

This isn’t an instructional video. It’s a comedy about an aging boy toy named Maximo, played by Mexican actor and comedian, Eugenio Derbez, who is tossed out by his much older sugar mama for a much younger man.  Although Maximo has a friend, another aging trophy boy played by Rob Lowe and who lives with his own sugar mama in a mansion, the friend can’t put him up there because every room is a make-out place at any given moment. Maximo then seeks out his younger sister, played by Salma Hayek, whom he hasn’t contacted for years. She is a widow and single mom of a 10-year-old boy. Maximo’s attempt to use his somewhat antiquated notion of sexy skills to educate his impressionable nephew and charm a replacement wealthy dowager played by Raquel Welch is hilarious. The party scene with Maximo in the swimming pool is alone worth the price of admission.  Get your sexy on and learn how to move those hips. Other stars joining this funny ensemble cast include Kristen Bell and Linda Lavin.

Logan Lucky (a movie blurt)

This is a heist movie directed by Steve Soderbergh, who also directed the well-known Ocean Trilogy heist films (Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen). Although there’s a formula to this genre, the characters, their situation, and the sprinklings of comedy are ingredients that make each one different. Set in West Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina, this story is about two down-on-their-luck brothers played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver. Channing decides to plan a robbery soon after he is let go from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway because his limp from an old football injury is considered a liability at work. They bring in their hairdresser sister to help. To round out their crew, they recruit an imprisoned explosive expert, Joe Bang, played by Daniel Craig, whose British accent is replaced by a good ‘ole boy twang. As a condition of Joe Bang joining the group, he asks to have his two hilarious hillbilly brothers join the heist team. The film is enjoyable to watch as we see how the colorful characters plot, ply, and plow through such a convoluted, but clever undertaking. Although there are underlying tones of injustice within our society—think haves vs. have-nots mixed in with a bit of Robin Hood–there is nothing preachy about the movie. Just grab a box of popcorn and watch the story unfold amidst the rural settings and classic American stock car action.

Jackie (a movie blurt)

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, aka “Jackie,”has always fascinated me. She’s enigmatic.  This recent film portrays the young widow’s perspective following the assassination of her husband on Nov. 22, 1963. The contrast of the shocking violence that unfolded against Jackie’s quiet demeanor reinforces the feeling of how painful it must be to endure such an unbelievable and unfair fate. For example, the charismatic and popular President John F. Kennedy’s brain matter splattered over Jackie’s lap is just one of the harrowing images showed in the film. The film’s focus on Jackie’s private moments in the first few days following the assassination gives us a new understanding that there was more behind her character than just a stylishly dressed woman, who appears stoic on TV. Natalie Portman plays Jackie’s character admirably, revealing the former first lady’s strength, intelligence, grace, and appreciation for history.

The Hollars (a movie blurt)

A movie about a family with dreams that somehow didn’t take off as they wished. John Krasinski directed this movie, as well as starred in it as a son who returns from New York to his Midwestern home due to a family illness. While visiting with his parents and brother, we soon learn about the family strains bubbling beneath the surface, not too different from many families experiencing hurt and feelings of inadequacy. Krasinski’s character himself is also wrestling with disappointment. He doesn’t quite know how he feels about his relationship with his live-in girlfriend, played by Anna Kendrick. She’s pregnant and ready to give birth at any time. In the midst of this angst comes the eventual realization of self-worth, gratitude and stronger family bonds. Overall, the movie is heartwarming and well-acted with a surprise twist in the end. Other stars include Charlie Day, Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale, and Sharlto Copley.

The Yellow Handkerchief (a movie blurt)

At once a mystery and a love story, this road trip movie shows how three unlikely people come together to eventually trust and help one another in more ways than one. The three travelers are played by William Hurt, a newly released, middle-aged ex-convict; Kristen Stewart, a lonely young woman with insight beyond her years; and Eddie Redmayne, an awkward but earnest young man wanting to see more of the country in his big old American car. Together they travel the backroads of the southern bayou, unloading their emotional baggage and gradually finding hope. Prepare for a tear or two at the end.

Urge (a movie blurt)

A horror thriller movie with an interesting twist to it. The movie title is the name of a designer drug that makes the user feel uninhibited. The catch is this “ideal” drug can only be taken one time ever, or there are consequences. The man with everything buys this drug for himself and his friends to rewind for the weekend. But, you guessed it, the spoiled brats just don’t know the meaning of self-control. Pierce Brosnan stars as the Man, who introduces this dangerous pharmaceutical.