So I recommend you buy or rent this one and remember...

If you are venturing out for dinner tonight, don't be shy about sending your compliments to the chef (or cook at Denny's), it may just keep him alive!

Bon appetite! 

If you have grown up in, or longed to be in, that cacooned microcosm where family interaction is at the heart of life's existence, especially when it's marinated in eccentricity and ethnicity (Irish-Polish-Jewish-Russian-Italian-whatever), in this case of the pure Greek variety, with the kind of relatives that challenge, cheer, hug, annoy, cajole, taunt and pressure you, but most of all offer their unconditional love, you will get a kick out of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2." OPA!

​   Screenwriter and starring actress of this middle class feta farce, Nia Vardalos, knows of what she speaks, or writes, carrying around the baggage of ancestry of a bigger than life Greek 'King' family herself. 

​   The kind where relatives ooze out if the woodwork at the worst possible moments, as well as at the best.

"Mother's Day" is a somewhat light hearted look at life's heart-burn inducing relationships that come

​that come to a head for three friends, and their mothers, right around their hallowed Mother's day celebration.

     Here's the synopsis: Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) thinks she's happily divorced, and possibly getting the goo-goo eye from her ex (Timothy Olyphant),  until she finds out the truth of her ex-husband's real happiness; he has found the 'one' and eloped with the way-way-younger beauty who is also getting annoyingly close to Sandy's two boys.  And Sandy is not quite ready to share all her men.

​   Two Sisters, Jesse (Kate Hudson)and Gabi (Sara Chalke) are stunned by a surprise visit from their redneck parents (fun acting veterans Robert Pine and Margo Martindale)who go bonkers, literally, when they find out Jesse is married to an Indian doctor and their grandson has skin the color of hazelnut shells, while Gabi is married to another woman. Let's just say the politically incorrect wisecracks abound at this family reunion.

​   Kristin ( Britt Robertson) is enjoying life as a new mother but feeling pressured by her ultra-loveable stand up comic boyfriend to get married.  But she has decided she will not be ready to tie the knot until she cleans the slate with her real mother who gave her up for adoption as a baby, or in other words in her mind, threw her away.

​     That secret mom- Miranda (Julia Roberts), a home shopping Diva, gets the surprise of her life when Kristen shows up on her doorstep- or home Shopping network set- in order to get her life in order and take her vows with a clearer self image to  comedian boyfriend (Jack Whitehall- a real English comedian) and father of her child (whose such a cool guy he makes the baby part of his stand-up stage act).

​     The other side of this quadrangle is Bradley ( Sudeikis), father of two, trying his darndest to be the best and both parents for his two girls since their mom passed away a year earlier.  However, his idea of  mother's Day is pretending it doesn't exist at all.

    Facing the memories are just to painful.

​    What I like about this film is no one takes themselves too seriously.  In the end everyone gets the monkey off their backs, justs makes amends, and gets on with life.  A " hey let's all meet halfway and turn lemons into lemonade " attitude that makes the angst they were going through seem a bit overdone.

What do you do when you're middle-aged, considered washed up after having made it achingly close to the pinnacle of your career, left wondering what the hell happened to your life?  ​​

​   You either pack it in, or say screw-it-all, I'll give it one more try, sink or swim...fight or die.

​   Sounds like the theme of a new boxing drama , but the only opponents coming out swinging from their corners in "Burnt" are Gourmet Chefs!

​    Synopsis:   After Chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) destroys his two-star career in Paris by indulging in drugs and food world diva behavior, so he decides to clean up his act, do a self-imposed penance of shucking a thousand oysters at a rinky-dink New Orleans dive.  Satisfied he's wiped the slate clean, he struts his hot chef stuff back to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can help him gain the three Michelin stars he craves.

​   Don't let this synopsis fool you, this film has as much heart as Rocky 1 thru 5 combined! Fantastic!

​   Maybe it's just the vibrant emotion Bradley Cooper emotes on screen, he had me rooting for 'Chef Adam' from the get-go, as well as that of his co-star Sienna Miller playing the under-appreciated sous-chef Helene ( a standout performance, this should make her a star) he pulls into his corner at the elegant London restaurant.



              MOTHER'S DAY

​    Directed by: Garry Marshall

Starring: Jennifer Aniston   Kate Hudson

​Julia Roberts   Britt Robertson


Starring:  Bradley Cooper  Sienna Miller  Daniel Bruhl

                     Director:  John Wells

​                 Screenplay:  Stephen Knight

If 80% of the schtick works, and you get some laugh out loud moments, you've got a feel good comedy.

That's "MY Big Fat Greek Wedding2"

​   For sure this film will make you want to invite all your relatives to come over for a BIG family dinner, and then most likely you'll be really relieved when they've gone.  But for some reason it will feel like the axis of the world is somehow centered  (or tilted) just right again.

​   Bravo performances: vavoom Gia Carides, cheeky Andrea Martin, brazen bubala Lainie Kazan, crusty Michael Constantine, edgy Louis Mandylor, loveable Joey Fatone, and endearing teenager Alex Wilff.

​   Did they actually need a Director?

​   My only qualm; Can non-ethnic country club in-laws really be that stiff?

Remember life is messy.  You'd better laugh at it or your doomed.

​   The interpretation of Michael Lewis's brilliant witty book, "The Big Short" (he's also the multiple best-selling author of "Moneyball" and "The Blind Side" among others), was shaped by Director Adam McKay, whose goofy comedy credits include the "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights" so you get an idea of the style he imprinted on it, and screenwriter Charles Randolph, who actually does hail from Saturday Night Live.

​   In the end though, I must admit, I think I'll have to watch it again.  Maybe that's what raises a film to cult status.  Though in this case it may be just among money managers, who'll have a bit of fun holding up a mirror to their own or maybe just to keep fresh the warning; That there's always a chance that trafficking in overly creative financial instruments accompanied with believing one's own lies can put one in a the living hell of a horror film akin to the 'Money Eating Blob.'

​   Though I suspect Hollywood fell into the same trap when it garnered this film with a string of award nominations including Best Motion Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing, Best Comedy...toot toot toot.

​*** My advice is to stick with the perpetual horserace of the Stockmarket, it's safer, unless you pick a horse that drops dead in bankcruptcy.

​After pacing through a tortured two hours of watching this movie, I became reluctant to write a review.  Honestly I thought this thing is so bad....on the order of an overacted Saturday Night Live sketch...I just have to watch it again.

​To repeat a mark Twain quote from the film," It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

​   It felt like the actors were clumsily trying to act like stupid people when in fact, once I dug deeper into the New York Times best-selling book the film was based on, they were actually portraying Wallstreet denizons who weren't stupid, just antisocial neurotic dysfunctional misfits bordering on geniuses in the financial numbers game; one haunted by growing up with a glass eye that awkwardly fell out on all the wrong occasions, is there ever a right one? (Christian Bale), an ex-big-money banker who thought the apocalypse was coming at any moment so he'd better start growing vegetables in some remote part of California so that his family could survive it(Brad Pitt), two very frazzled 20 something guys who had no one but themselves investing in their 'Corndog Fund' vying for a place at the big boys table while living in their mother's basement on the verge of a nervous breakdown - contemplating going on lithium at her request, and another hotwired tortured soul (Steve Carell) who thought the worst of everyone and everything and never shut up about it.

​   In their wacked out world of growing money, where the line between finance and gambling was razor thin, or non-existent, they decided to take on the big banks by betting big on a sub-prime mortgage meltdown with credit default swaps, since their crystal balls were forecasting a gigantic default on a scale of mass proportions.

   They were the handful of Wallstreeters running around yelling fire , while the whole of the mortgage lenders were partying in Vegas. 

​   In fact the subject matter and frenetic emotionally jarring pacing and cutting of this film is enough to give one heart palpitations, if you actually understand what's going.

​   Especially when you realize those traders swimming around in the murky waters of the bundled sub-prime mortgage Bonds and CDO's didn't even understand what they were trading.  to make it clear; It was actually the riskiest debt of ordinary Americans that was sliced and diced and bundled and re-bundled like a Christmas fruitcake everyone graciously passes around , with a new bow, until the relatives start getting botulism and then someone dies.  indeed that financial fruitcake made the financial system so sick it teetered on the real brink of Code-Blue in 2008.

Daniel Bruhl is wonderfully classy, in a chic European way, playing Tony, the restaurant owner hotelier blackmailed into taking a chance on Chef Adam, while striking a blow for himself in the crazy competitive world of epicurean restauranteurs.


I've worked in one of those boiler room gourmet kitchens, under an ex-Four seasons Chef, exiled to a small restaurant in the New Emgland boonies, where one brown spot on a lettuce leaf put on a plate is considered a failing near punishable by Hari-Kari, or so it seemed in the heat of the moment.  One of the many untold dramas that unfolded every night amongst the steam and Haddock Almondine.  I took many incoming missiles among them, " you chop vegetables like a ****in housewife!, and had to put up with being playfully pronged with the Chef's searing fork in my backside while trying to garnish a chocolate mousse.

Director John Wells and screenwriter Stephen knight got this one right.

Perfect cinematography and cutting supported it all.

For the passionate portrayal of chef Adam in his pursuit of the coveted three Michelin

​Stars, "Burnt" should receive five stars from the film critic community.

​(I only question why gourmet food plates have to look like a minimalist abstract painting.  Give me a hearty Rembrandt leg of lamb.)

           THE BIG SHORT

Starring: Steve Carell  Brad Pitt  Christian Bale

​                  Director: Adam McKay

​              Screenwriter:  Charles Randolph

     My Big fat Greek Wedding 2

               Director:  Kirk Jones

                      Writer:  Nia Vardalos 

​Starring:  Nia Vardalos   John Corbett  Elena Kampouris

   Michael Constantine  Lainie Kazan  Andrea Martin

"JOY" is an off-beat dark comedy about a suppressed youngish woman, whose wacko family and totally dysfunctional life gives her lemons, but somehow she manages to turn that sour rotten fruit into some fine lemonade, or more accurately a handy self-wringing mop that ends up making her a fortune and a mogul of the Home Shopping Network.

​   Synopsis: As a child Joy had a knack for creating things, like a dog collar she invented with a safety release she thought could make millions, but her oddball family got behind her.

​   Decades later, despite being broke, working as an airline ticket agent to support that dysfunctional family, including: her mother Terry who spends all day in bed watching soap operas, her ex-husband loser Tony an aspiring Latino Tom Jones wannabe living in the basement, their two children, her father Rudy the owner of a failing car garage who too ends up living in the basement, and a maniacal half-sister Peggy, she decides it's time to give in to the creator in her soul and bets everything on one of her inventions, a twist on a common household item.  She battles every step of the way until she finally succeeds, big time!

​   Sort of sounds easy...but this woman is a working disaster.  near the end of the movie I thought by the way she was strutting down the street in dark glasses with a vigilante smirk , she might just have snapped enough to shoot every thief and bastard trying to take advantage of her.

   But her business skills rise above all that.

​   Looks like Director and Writer David Russell (American Hustle) cast this one by "rounding up the usual suspects," from his preferred gang of actors.

   Robert De Niro (Rudy) succeeds once again playing the eccentric crazed 'father knows best type' who you wouldn't put past taxidermy-ing the family pets in the basement, then once you catch him he gives the classic De Niro squint and tight lipped NY street look, uttering, "What. You talkin' to me? Now fluffy will be with us forever."

​   Edgar Ramirez (Tony) who plays the ex-husband failure oozes with a kind of Latin loser charm.

   Diane Ladd as the loving Grandmother, the matriarch, gives this thing heart.

​   Virginia Madsen is scary delusional in an endearing way.

​   The classical beauty Issabella Rossellini cements her talents as an ageless character actor, much in the vein of her mother, carrying off the sophisticated straight-man lines to De Niro's low rent eccentricities with great aplomb.

​   And last but not least Jennifer Lawrence carries the show as the trodden down adorable modern heroine whom you think is going to, and deserves to, loose it all at any moment , who in the end wins the ultimate  prize of the audience's hearts.

​   You Go Girl!

   The fact that the original "My Big fat Greek Wedding," again created at Nia Vardalos' hand, was a hit stage play before it became a blockbuster movie says a lot, warts and all -'OPA' humor resonates.  Okay sometimes it's over the top, predictable, kind of cheesy, but hey, that sounds like your family right?

​   While the first version had that wonderful butterflies in the stomach romance ( ah with the soothing adorable John Corbett), the synopsis of the sequel offers a natural story progression; Toula has aged, her marriage has aged, and her daughter ( a skittish ruminating notable Elena Kampouris) has aged into a frustrated -I want to be my own person 17 year old. 

   Add in the real life pressures of handling her wild and crazy in your face Portokalos family -living next door, while keeping her marriage alive, while raising that teenage daughter who looks embarrassed to be alive, while standing on the abyss of letting her go, and wondering what the focus of a middle-aged woman's life will be, and this one is just as volatile, charming and funny as the earlier chapters.

​    And of course, a Portokalos family secret brings everyone back together for the big finale; an even bigger 'GREEKER' Wedding.


​Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence + Robert De Niro + ​ Edgar Ramirez +       

                   Virginia Madsen + Isabella Rossellini +

                 Bradley Cooper +  Diane Ladd = WINNER

   But then who would have thought the 'Gold of maples', American real estate assets, would ever ever go down like they did.

   Sure there could be a few bad apples that didn't pay their mortgages, but not close to 50%.

​   And who could blame those poor folks when an army of even badder apples, unscrupulous agents, were pushing adjustable ballooning interest rates on unsuspecting people; like a Mexican strawberry picker who was given a variable rate mortgage on a $750,000 house when he couldn't afford an ice tea at McDonalds, or hoards of strippers who were holding mortgages on up to five houses at a time because they were told they could refinance them to pay for them as their value increased.

​   In actuality those mortgage pushers were more morons than crooks.  The real crooks aplenty were much higher up, among the boys at AIG, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs etc. 

​   Even the sheriff in town Moody's Rating Agency was in cahoots with the outlaws.  their rubber stamped AAA credit rating farce was the spark plug that kept the lie going.

​   And while the grandest players walked away with millions, the American people were left with the doctor's bill for the mess thanks to the Government bailout and 'too big to fail' legislation. 

​   What's even scarier is the monster disease is being mutated  at this very moment in some 'dark pools' of the financial markets.