18th Dec2016

War Dogs (DVD)

by timbaros

war_dogs_290932The true story of two young men who sold weapons to the U.S. government, and got too greedy

How did two twentysomethings get into the business of selling arms to the U.S. government? ‘War Dogs’ tells this story.

Based on the Rolling Stone article ‘Arms and the Dudes’ by Guy Lawson, Miles Teller and Jonas Hill play David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli. Packouz is a massage therapist, constantly being sexually harassed by his very wealthy male clients. He also sells expensive high quality bed sheets to old age homes but he’s told they don’t want to buy them because it would be like wrapping a lizard in very nice bedsheets. But when he runs into long lost friend Diveroli at a funeral, his life takes a dramatic turn. Living with his girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas) in a cramped flat, Packouz takes up the opportunity to work at Diveroli’s company – AEY Inc. to make more money. It’s a company Diveroli set up to sell weapons to the U.S. government, with silent partner dry cleaner owner Ralph Slutzky (Kevin Pollack). AEY is initially tasked with obtaining beretta guns for a general in the thick of the Iraq war. When the italian-made guns can’t be transported directly into Iraq, it’s up to the Packouz and Diveroli to drive the truck to Iraq via Jordan, and that’s exactly what they do, risking their lives for a $2.8 million payoff. They then discover that the U.S. government has what seems like billions of dollars to give out to companies just like theirs in order to procure weapons, and all bids listed on a government website.
With a lot of cash now in hand, and with fabulous new properties they’ve bought (plus a new baby girl for Packouz and Iz), AEY decides to expand their business. They head to Las Vegas for Vegas X, a comicon-like convention with grenades and not comics. This is where they meet Henry Girard (a very good and subdued Bradley Cooper), who puts them in contact with the Albanian government to help them obtain ammunition to arm the Afghan military (money which the U.S. Government will pay. Their $300 million bid is amazingly accepted by the military generals but they tell them that their bid was $50 million less than the lowest bid. The men carry out the order, not realizing until too late that the ammunition the Albanian authorities are selling them are actually Chinese, which they re-brand and re-package (illegal). Diveroli’s greed and his and Packouz’s crumbling relationship gets the best of them, and it all comes down to not if they will be caught, but when.

While ‘War Dogs’ is a very good film, reminiscent of a Martin Scorcese movie, though not all of what you see in this film actually happened. In the beginning we’re told that ‘War Dogs’ is ‘based on a true story,’ so several events in the film didn’t actually take place (driving the truck from Jordan to Iraq.) Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover) and produced by Phillips and Cooper, ‘War Dogs’ succeeds, however, in the performances of both of it’s leads (though neither one of them look in their 20’s and Hill is quite chunkier than usual), and the film’s script is clever and witty. ‘War Dogs’ also has an excellent movie soundtrack, with songs by The Who, Pink Floyd and House of Pain, carrying the spirit of a 1990’s Scorcese gangster film. If ‘War Dogs’ were a fictionalized film, then it would’ve been fine the way it is. But there’s no reason why the filmmakers couldn’t have just stuck to the real version of events of these two very young arms dealer – it would’ve made for a more compelling and very realistic tale.

01st Mar2016

Exposed (Film)

by timbaros

Keanu Reeves stars as a New York City detective out to investigate the death of his partner in the new film ‘Exposed.’

Reeves is Detective Scotty Galban who discovers that his former (and dead) police partner Detective Joel Cullen (Danny Hoch) was not the clean cop he was supposed to be. Cullen was a sodomist, a rapist, and in cahoots with several criminals in town. And Galban’s boss, Lieutenant Elway (Christopher McDonald) prefers not to have Cullen’s death investigated. You see, he was found in a subway station, with a stab wound in his back, and left for dead. Elway wants to close the murder investigation for the sake of Cullen’s wife Janine (Mira Sorvino) and his children for they stand to lose his pension if Galban continues the investigation and uncovers Cullen’s dirty doings. But Galban, of course, has demons of his own. His wife has died and his young son lives in Florida, for reasons not explained in the film. Meanwhile, Latina Isabel de la Cruz (Ana de Armas) might have been witness to the killing. She’s a young woman on her own mysterious journey. Her husband is in Iraq, and while she lives with his family, she’s seeing white ghosts appear out of nowhere. They are paranormal visions they might unlock some sort of secret in her life. Meanwhile her fiance’s younger brother Rocky (Gabe Vargas) is hanging around with the wrong crowd, led by Big Daddy Kane who is simply known around the hood as Black. And while Galban continues to investigate his partner’s murder against the wishes of the lieutenant, Isabel is on her own journey, while at the same time helping out a local girl who’s being abused, it’s a journey that takes her into a world that is strange and confusing, just like this movie.

‘Exposed’ has nothing to expose. It’s a title that doesn’t have anything to do with the movie. The film’s original title was going to be ‘Daughter of God,’ but it was recut after it’s distributor Lionsgate bought it to make it more of a cop thriller than a dark sadistic film. It’s original producer and director, Gee Malik Linton, had his name removed from the film’s credits (but is credited as a writer), so the the non-existant Declan Dale is credited as director. Lionsgate looks like they have tried to salvage something from their original purchase by chopping up Linton’s original unfinished film, but it’s a right confusing mess. What we have are two stories trying to merge into one movie, with Isabel’s storyline more compelling than Galban’s. It’s got some good ideas going, with some great acting by some of the cast (but not Reeves), but at its best it’s a gripping thriller but a bit convoluted and confusing.

Signature Entertainment Presents ‘Exposed’ at Cinemas and On Demand 26th February 2016