Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Lopez’

Jennifer Lopoez, Lucy Paez

“THE MOTHER” My rating: C- (Netflix)

115 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“The Mother,” the latest example of gals-with-guns cinema, starts out preposterous and in no time at all has worked its way into full-bore absurdist “Roadrunner” mode…the big difference being that a “Roadrunner” cartoon has a sense of humor. 

Here’s a film about international criminals, a former army sniper and the FBI written by three scribes (Misha Green, Andrea Berloff and Peter Craig) who offer no indication that any of them has ever met an international criminal, an army sniper or a federal agent.  

Basically “The Mother” is a mess of plot points and attitude copied from other movies (Schwarzenegger’s “Commando” appears to have been a major influence) and held together — barely — by Jennifer Lopez’ seriously strained charisma.  

Lopez plays the title character, whose name we never do get.  She’s an Afghan vet with three dozen sniper kills, and as the film begins she’s being debriefed in a safe house by a couple of FBI agents. Seems our girl has spent several years as the consort/muscle of a couple of international arms dealers (Joseph Fiennes, Gael Garcia Bernal), and now she’s decided to turn them in.

Oh, yeah, there’s a catch…she’s preggers, presumably by one of her criminal cohorts. But the bad guys are on to her and she barely survives a massacre at the safe house, undergoes an emergency caesarean, turns her newborn daughter over to an FBI agent (Omari Hardwick) for placement in a good home, and moves to an isolated  cabin in Alaska where she can kill a variety of critters and stay off her criminal colleagues’ radar.

Short story long, she’s called back into the fray when her daughter, now 12 years old, is kidnapped by the evil ones.  She’s able to rescue the girl in a bloody shootout, but now the two are on the run.  She can’t take the girl, Zoe (Lucy Paez), back to her Midwestern home (Ohio, we’re told, though in this alternate universe Ohio has mountains); their  only hope is to hide out in the snowy north until the danger passes.

Zoe suspects that her nameless protector is her birth mother, which doesn’t stop her from behaving like your typical suburban tween, throwing temper tantrums and pouting. 

Before the dust settles The Mother will have wiped out a small army of mercenaries. 

Despite the obviously wretched dialogue, the production was able to attract some serious talent, not just Fiennes and Bernal but also Oscar nominee (for “Sound of Metal”) Paul Raci and multiple Emmy winner Edie Falco.

But what’s really depressing is the name behind the camera. “The Mother” was directed by Niki Caro, whose earliest efforts (“Whale Rider,” “North Country”) suggested a major talent in humanist cinema. “The Mother” is technically polished, but hasn’t a shred of the emotional truth of those early landmarks.

| Robert W. Butler

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Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez

“HUSTLERS” My rating: C+

109 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Hustlers” arrives on a wave of fest-generated hype: It’s one of the year’s best!!!  Jennifer Lopez is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination!!!

Uh, sorry, but I don’t see it.

Writer/director Lorene Scafaria’s film is ambitious, certainly, telling the fact-based story of a group of exotic dancers who in the decade after the big market meltdown reacted to economic challenges by luring, drugging and ripping off wealthy men, sometimes for as much as $50,000 a pop.

It offers a charismatic and glamorous turn from Lopez, who is compellingly watchable as the nurturing (until she isn’t) pole dancer/housemother of this group of female marauders. Even more of a revelation is Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) as the new girl at the strip joint through whose eyes we witness it all.

But despite its welcome depiction of mutually supportive sisterhood, Scafaria’s film becomes bogged down in sticky moral entanglements.  Even more problematic, this is an emotionally chilly yarn exhibiting little warmth or open compassion for its characters.

Given that the few men depicted here are unsalvageable swine and the ladies are equally predatory…who are we supposed to root for?

The story begins in 2006 with Destiny (Wu) struggling to get into the swing of things at a noisy, dark, raunchy NYC exotic dancing club.  She’s quickly taken under the wing of Ramona (Lopez), who gives her an impressive tutorial of pole moves (I particularly liked “the table”) and coaches her in the art of squeezing money out of arrogant Wall Street sphincters.

But in the wake of the big crash the high rollers aren’t rolling much.  Ramona cooks up a special drug cocktail — it makes its victims gleefully happy while erasing their short-term memories — and with Destiny and a small crew of out-of-work dancers targets and rips off moneyed fat cats.


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Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez

Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez

“LILA & EVE”  My rating: C+ (Opens July 17 at the Cinetopia)

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Lila & Eve” starts strong by depicting the downward spiral of Lila (Viola Davis), the divorced mother of two boys whose college-bound son is gunned down in a random act of street violence.

It becomes a revenge yarn when Lila meets up with another bereaved mom, Eve (Jennifer Lopez), who goads her to take violent action against the thugs who put her through all this misery.

It’s like a feminist “Death Wish.”

Before it’s over, “Lila & Eve” has morphed into something right out of M. Night Shyamalan territory (not that the film’s big reveal will surprise anyone — I saw it coming practically from square one).

Given that Davis is one of our best actresses — and that Lopez isn’t bad in the right role — “Lila and Eve” does have some strong moments.


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Oh, Pig the cat, and Trig in their flying car

“HOME”  My rating: B-

94 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Now and then voice talent can provide the make-or-break factor in an animated feature.

It’s hard to imagine “Aladdin” or “Finding Nemo” without the vocal contributions of Robin Williams and Ellen DeGeneres. Jim Parsons provides a similar service in “Home.”

Parsons, a multiple Emmy winner for playing a scientific genius/social idiot on TV’s “The Big Bang Theory,” provides the voice of Oh, an alien creature who has come to Earth along with about a million of his fellow Boovs.

The Boovs are a species of six-legged creatures with trashcan bodies, frog-like faces, prehensile ears and a chameleonic ability to change their skin coloring to fit their emotions (red for angry, blue for sad, yellow for fear…).

Though they overnight seize our world — banishing the human population to camps in the Australian Outback that are part suburban subdivision, part carnival midway — the Boovs aren’t particularly scary. They don’t kill or physically harm the dispossessed humans. They’re like a herd of shy pre-schoolers.

Except for Oh, who in comparison to his brethren is a radical rugged individualist.  Aggressively garrulous and outgoing, he irritates his reticent comrades, who dread his friendly incursions into their personal space.  He’s a well-meaning boor upsetting an otherwise sedate environment. (more…)

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