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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

I never really imagined Sherlock Holmes as this type of dude.

Robert Downey Jr. stars as the legendary London sleuth Sherlock Holmes, joined by Jude Law as dear Dr. Watson, in this Guy Ritchie reinvention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s oft-adapted detective series. Based on a comic book by producer Lionel Wigram, the story follows Holmes and Watson as they face off against the villainous Blackwood (Mark Strong). Rachel McAdams co-stars as quick-witted beauty Irene Adler.

So as soon as I found out that this film was going to be directed by one of my favorite’s, I was interested and curious at the same time. Why would this guy get stuck with this type of material, and would it work?

To answer the question, it’s a sort of yes and kind of no. Guy Ritchie’s pacing is quick and he does make the film a lot more fun that what I was expecting. There is a lot of action sequences that are nice, violent, and fun to watch. If the film just focused on his detective ways, it wouldn’t have been as exciting as seeing a kick-ass detective, breaking people’s jaws into two places. The way that the action works its way into the film doesn’t at all slow it down once.

The editing in the film is top notch as well. In between present moments of time are a plethora of moments involving Holmes recapping and analyzing how he should proceed in his actions. These scenes are beautifully executed and very well timed, allowing the viewers to really get inside of Holmes’ head more effectively than any bit of dialogue ever could. Although slow moving at first, the story builds to a climax that brings all questions full circle and opens up room for a sequel by introducing an element that any Holmes fan will notice was absent in throughout most of the film. I won’t spoil it here but, needless to say, I curiously await how well it shall be done in the sequel, should it come to fruition.

Now when I mean no, is that Ritchie’s style of story-telling does get a bit in the way. I felt that some stuff was put in the movie, just for comedic relief, and not necessarily for the story. I was kind of confused on how the case was actually getting solved by all the action, and at points I was even confused what were the results of the case.

Other of Ritchie’s trade marks, however work very well. The screenplay is rich with this sarcastic wit and humor that works very well throughout the whole movie. Some action scenes and others with the mystery involved were better with its light tone added with the humor. Also, the way Ritchie uses his way of telling these little clues work well, as you find out peace by peace the story.

Another problem I had with the film was the absence of any sense of color and the setting. I mean yeah the setting was good-looking, but it was just very grimy and very depressing. The story can be colorful at points, but there was never really any great blend of rich colors to stylize the movie more.

Probably the best element of the film is the acting by its two leads. Downey Jr. is great as the sarcastic and colorful Sherlock, and although sometimes the guy can be so goofy that we love him as a wonderful lead. But the duo of him and Jude Law is what makes it the best. Every time these two are on-screen it just feels like two comedians who have known each others their whole lives, and just continually riff on each other again and again. McAdams didn’t seem that strong in this film, and plenty of the lines she had just seemed very forced.

Consensus: Though Ritchie’s style doesn’t quite fit the original material, Sherlock Holmes is a fast-paced, action mystery, that has funny dialogue that gets even better with its performances from the leads.

8/10=Matinee!!

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Diner (1982)

One of the best places to hang out no matter how old you get is always going to be, the diner.

Set in 1959 Baltimore, writer-director Barry Levinson’s debut film focuses on a group of pals on the brink of adulthood who find solace at the local diner. The late-night banter between groom-to-be Eddie (Steve Guttenberg), best man Billy (Tim Daly), womanizer Boogie (Mickey Rourke), music addict Shrevie (Daniel Stern) and quirky Modell (Paul Reiser) ranges from girls to growing up and getting old. Ellen Barkin and Kevin Bacon also appear.

This movie defines nostalgia…and who doesn’t think about the past…past friendships and experiences…mostly with a smile. It brings you back to a good old time that you used to have with your buddies always discussing topics about life.

This film is not necessarily a coming-of-age film as much as it is a period piece about these friends and their lives. There is one attitude that goes around this film that isn’t very talked about is the fear of women. There are these movies that show these macho guys going around drinking beer, driving motorcycles, and always having a good time. However, in Diner this attitude is a lot more perceptive, these guys are afraid of women and they see them as an undiscovered country as seen by many scenes in this film.

The writing from Barry Levinson in this film is just superb. He really does show he has a knack for hilarious but at the same true realistic dialogue. Many lines in this film are funny, that also go along with the scenes and make the scenes a lot more better, than you would expect.

One of the most extraordinary things that the film does is that we feel like we know these characters our whole lives. Levinson directs the film in a way so that everybody involved in this film gets a chance to show who they are and their personalities. Its one of those films that I actually felt like I understood who these people were, when the film was over.

The one problem I had with this film was that some scenes were very memorable but their weren’t just enough of those memorable scenes. I think the one problem is that the film does lag at points to where it gets borderline boring, but not enough to totally throw my attention away.

The acting by this very young cast is what makes it even better. Out of the whole cast Mickey Rourke is the best I can name. He is a total womanizer having no feelings for the chicks in general, just their bodies, but by the end of the film he makes a great transition to where you see him as a sympathetic heartfelt guy, and I think as charming as he is in this performance, he does one of the best jobs.

Consensus: Diner does lag at points, but has wonderful dialogue, charming performances, and realistic attitudes about life that bring you back to great times in your life that you remember the most and cherish.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Falling Down (1993)

Michael Douglas can be one crazy son of a bitch!

Bill Foster (Michael Douglas) is having a very bad day: He’s been fired from his job, gets stuck in a traffic jam and is forced to walk through the sizzling L.A. streets. As the obstacles mount and his temper frays, Foster begins lashing out at society’s injustices. Joel Schumacher’s feature also stars Robert Duvall as an overzealous cop who gets wind of Foster’s near-psychotic rampage and sets out to bring him down.

Many people will confuse Falling Down with a typical “revenge” movie, similar to the popular Death Wish series and other vigilante movies. This is a huge mistake, as Falling Down has a much darker, uncomfortable feel than Charles Bronson taking out his neighborhood.

The film isn’t all just about Douglas going around killing people, as more as it is about the case to get him. I still think they could have dove more into the person of who Douglas plays instead of this white suburban guy fed up with the economy.

Some parts of this movie are genuinely funny. The script isn’t all that rich with wit and detail, but when it wants to bring out some humor it actually does quite well, which could actually categorize it as a dark comedy.

The cliches are a little out there in this film as well. You, as usual, have the cop that’s on his last day of the job and the mad man he is trying to catch. Both parts of the story don’t really quite jell together as well since Douglas’ scenes are funny and exciting, while Duvall’s scenes are boring and dull. I just wish more and more time was devoted to Douglas since he did seem like the center piece of the story.

Douglas does give one of his most unusual performances of his career in this. He’s crazy, pissed off, and most of all very tragic. This guy has thrown his whole life away, and some times when you see him its really actually sad of how pathetic and delusional he actually is, which makes him a better character than some people give him, and Douglas plays him so well.

Consensus: Falling Down is darkly funny, very well-acted by Douglas, and not your usual vigilante film, but has many cliches, and not enough screen time devoted to Douglas.

6/10=Rental!!

Obsessed (2009)

I know they say once you go black you can’t go back, but goddamn!

Derek Charles (Idris Elba) seems to have it all — including the perfect job and the perfect wife (Beyoncé Knowles). But his charmed life takes on an ugly tarnish when sexy office worker Lisa Sheridan (Ali Larter) sets out to seduce and destroy him. Now, it’s much more than a dangerous liaison; it’s a full-blown occupational hazard.

If you have already seen the trailer, there is no need to waste your time with this film, you have already seen the whole movie.

Basically if you haven’t already known before, but basically this is a modern-riff on Fatal Attraction. Yes, the same plot, and mostly the same crazy shit that always seem to inhabit these types of films. There is really nothing knew here that it adds, other than one chick is black and the other is white.

To be truly honest, I actually wanted something bad for this guy to happen. He doesn’t sleep with the chick but it never gets interesting because he never does do anything wrong. It just seems like this guy was Beyonce’s little bitch, and he never gets into any trouble whatsoever, therefore my interest level was done with.

The film totally changed by the end as well. It went from this Fatal Attraction esque thriller, from switching gears to this horror/action type of last act. This was so dumb, but to be honest my attention for this film left me so it didn’t quite matter after all.

Larters performance is laughably over the top. She is just way too crazy to be sexy. Sure she’s hot, but she comes off as so desperate and psychotic from day one that she never manages to be tempting. And after all she is just some crazy bitch. If she never manages to make the man in the equation go astray, what power does she really have. An impotent villain makes for a pointless hero. Bottom line is that you have to seriously suspend disbelief if she is to seem even somewhat menacing. Shes nothing that couldn’t be controlled with a good crack to the mouth, and her and Knowles together are even worse. Its a veritable bad act off.

There are only two good things I’ll give this props for. 1. Idris Elba, god bless his heart, actually does give a very belivable and likable performance here, and 2. I can’t lie that action scene with Beyonce kicking ass is pretty nice no lie, and will surley get the crowd going.

Consensus: Obsessed is a total riff of Fatal Attraction, that never gets interesting due to its obvious cliches, bad acting by the villain, and mostly just overall a dumb story to be re-told.

2/10=SomeOleBullShittt!!!!!

Matchstick Men (2003)

Being a con man, actually looks like a lot of fun.`

When Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage), a professional con man struggling with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, meets the daughter (Alison Lohman) he never knew he had, he inadvertently jeopardizes his tightly organized and artificially controlled life. Sam Rockwell plays Cage’s partner and protégé, with Melora Walters co-starring as Waller’s ex-wife.

So one of my favorite directors Ridley Scott, does this breezy dark comedy, focusing on con men, and their lifestyles something that I had no idea about in the first place.

Compared to many other companion pieces of the last 30 years this is one of the most enchanting. You just love seeing this father and daughter tag-team together. There are many scenes with them that are just totally bittersweet, and actually bring a lot of heart to the film.

The script crosses the crime plot and the emotional plots at the perfect moments. There’s a well made scene where Roy’s daughter begs him to teach her a con. They go to a Laundromat and con a woman into thinking she’s won the lottery. And like a good father Roy forces her to give the money back.

If there is a problem it’s the “Usual Suspects” style ending. I have nothing against playing a trick on the audience but as I put the pieces of the story together I found the final twist to be completely implausible and contrived. I don’t want to spoil it. I’ll just say that It’s one of those situations that could have never worked if one character picked up the phone and called another character.

Nic Cage gives one of his best performances in years with this film. I love how he just chooses to play these weird and zany characters, and make a great run with it. He masters all the ticks with the OCD character that he’s playing, and actually feels real. The chemistry between him and Lohman actually does feel genuine, and most of the scenes just add to the films appeal.

The conclusion left me a little depressed and disillusioned, but I think that poignant feeling at the end is just what they were shooting for. It can seem a bit corny, but almost works a bit here as a master-piece.

Consensus: Matchstick Men has a heart-warming story about family, great character studies that go to the very edge, and a great performance from Cage, even if the ending is a bit far off.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Arthur (1981)

If only all drunk people acted like this guy.

Charming but incessantly intoxicated multimillionaire Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) stands on the brink of an arranged marriage to properly pedigreed heiress Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry), but his heart belongs to a working-class filcher (Liza Minnelli). When his family threatens to cut off Arthur’s inheritance if he doesn’t marry Susan, he asks loyal squire Hobson (John Gielgud) to lend a hand.

From the first moment that you hear Dudley Moore’s infectious laugh over the opening credits and theme song, you know that you’re in for a wonderful ride.

This film is most certainly a light comedy, but it carries enough weight in the development of the storyline and content that it feels substantial and moving as well. Many of the elements of comedy work so well here, that I could not just stop laughing at parts.

The one best thing about this film is that the main character Arthur, is such a spoiled playboy that he just uses his money like it falls out of his ass. But with the characterization of him, we love this guy even though he is such a snob at points.

There is probably only one bad thing I had with this film that came up a lot and it was that many of the scenes where they we’re focusing on the romantic side of the film, it was way too dull. The screenplay is hilarious when it comes to comedy, but when it tries to act serious and romantic, it comes off as way too corny and just dumb.

After watching the preview for Arthur, I expected a straight-up comedy. But then I felt the storyline was taking somewhat of a dramatic turn, and I thought it would turn out to be one of those movies that make you think it’s a comedy but end up being a drama.

Dudley Moore is probably one of the funniest drunks of all-time in this film. He is so funny, belting out hilarious one-liners like its his job, and he is one of the main reasons why this film actually works. The late great John Gielgud, gives out one of the best performances in the movie, as he turns out to be the most unusual but full of jokes butler.

Consensus: Arthur has some lame dialogue when it focuses on its romantic/dramatic side, but features hilarious jokes, and great performances from Moore and Gielgud.

8/10=Matinee!!!

The Blind Side (2009)

Looking fine, Sandra Bullock!

Over sized African American Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), the teen son of a murdered father and a crack-addicted mother, is homeless at age 16. Taken in by an affluent Memphis couple, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean (Tim McGraw), Michael embarks on a remarkable rise to play for the NFL. Based on Michael Lewis’s bestseller, this inspirational sports tale also stars Kathy Bates as Michael’s persistent tutor, Miss Sue.

The plot is from a book of a guy I have never heard of. I don’t think that’s a huge problem, but every once and awhile I like to know what I’m going into.

The one thing I didn’t like about this film was that it wasn’t so much about Oher, but more of Leigh Anne. Now I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t like this, but I felt like the main person and reason of this story was just side lined, and cut down to a bunch of reaction shots, and occasionally filled with minimal dialogue.

The cliches are a out there, but I will give the film some props for at least avoiding them, and focusing on the bigger issues at hand. Director John Lee Hancock, gives us a great off-beat look at a sports drama, that actually turns out to be a lot better than expected.

The film was inspirational in its message of how this guy who came from nothing, and makes a name for him self. Almost all of the elements from any great family film are in this film, and will make you feel better about yourself, and make you second thought your assumptions of others. I really liked how they weren’t trying to push the huge matter of racism in this film, which in ways it looked as if it was going to go that way.

Another part of this film that really had me confused was a part in the film where Bullock says, “he’s changing my life.” And to be honest I didn’t see her change once. Not like there was any problem with her character in the first place, we just never see a transition of her life, when this big black kind kid comes into her life.

Sandra Bullock gives one of the greatest performances of her career in this movie. I have a feeling the Oscars will give her a nom., because she is funny, honest, and most of all believable and you don’t find that much in football films nowadays. Quinton Aaron who plays Oher actually does an OK job here even though the film puts him out as a big buffoon, and gives him very small dialogue.

Consensus: The Blind Side is a story that you have seen many times before, but is an inspirational tale filled with comedy, tear jerking scenes, and backed by an Oscar worthy performance from Bullock.

6/10=Rental!!!

Revolver (2005)

Guy Ritchie aka The Bloke who heard voices.

Jason Statham plays Jake, a gangster and ace gambler recently released from prison. Determined to hustle the crime boss (Ray Liotta) who killed his sister-in-law, Jake deliberately humiliates the kingpin in a private game. But when the mobster calls for Jake’s head, a mysterious duo steps in to save his skin.

This is Ritchie’s third attempt at the gangster franchise that he seemed so soon, to get rid of. I wish it just wasn’t this film he came back to.

First of all, the film’s plot is really just crazy. A lot of things happen for no reason what so ever, and when they happen your just left with the sideways head turn. I tried to keep up with the story but I just kept getting confused again and again, until I just gave up on the story completely.

I spent most of the 104 minutes recalling where i saw a scene from in a previous film, or who each character reminded me of from something else. An examination of the ego and its internal and external influences on who we are (or who we think we are), perceptions of self, others and the world around us: BRILLIANT idea packaged all wrong.

Oh yeah, and there is some good action as you would expect from Ritchie, but to be truly honest there isn’t enough to save this film, and it just all seems so pointless after all.

The film is so different from his countless others as well. The catchy and witty dialogue from his others, are nowhere to be found in this film. The lines are serious and at times very confusing, of what tone the film wants to take. I couldn’t handle this as I was expecting something funny, but instead got this serious side of Ritchie that I never wanted to see.

Statham does a good job as the cocky lead role, and so does Liotta as the egotistical bad guy, who seems to turn orange every minute the film goes by. But nobody really stands out in this film, and that’s what I hated cause every film has colorful characters from Ritchie, but these people are just the obvious cliched good guys and bad guys in any film like this.

Consensus: Revolver is action-packed with some good performances, but it’s plot is confusing, barely any of the Ritchie’s trademarks, mixed with an even more confusing and just overall silly psychological twist.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!!

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

God, I even wanted to throw that momma from the train!

When struggling mystery writer Owen (Danny DeVito) realizes that he and his teacher, Larry (Billy Crystal), are both slowly going crazy thanks to the women in their lives, he gets a great idea: He’ll kill Larry’s devious ex-wife if Larry offs Owen’s domineering, overbearing mother. Expect classic black comedy after Owen fulfills his end of the bargain — and Larry’s stuck without an alibi!

The film takes inspiration from the Hitchcock classic film Strangers On A Train, where the perfect murder is where 2 complete strangers exchange murder victims.

The film acts like a black comedy, but isn’t all that dark at points. Yeah, it talks about murder and death, which is a dark subject, but many of the other things that happen or joked about aren’t very dark.

With this film you would expect to have been hilarious, when really its only slightly funny. Some jokes seem forced, and some are just too obvious and not very funny after all. It doesn’t have that hilarious satirical look, and feel you would expect from a film of this nature.

Instead, we get a lot of these little whimsical tales, which I thought were the best parts of the film. DeVito does a great job at directing showing himself as this pathetic young kid, who still cannot seem to get any respect from his mama. At times, the film played as it was more cute than it was more dark.

The cast does an OK job as playing their respective parts. Crystal, who I admire, is all around the place screamin, yelling, and just going insane over nothing and doesn’t make any sense in this performance. DeVito does a great job at playing this child-like man who you actually do feel pity for. But the best here is Anne Ramsey who plays Momma. She is so ruthless, and cranky that it is actually where a lot of the comedic element for this film comes from.

Consensus: DeVito’s directorial debut is impressive with some funny moments and OK performances from the cast, but doesn’t have enough humor, and has Crystal acting as a madman for no reason.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

Nine (2009)

Saw this with one of the worst crowds of my life.

Movie director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is in the throes of a midlife crisis, struggling to finish his film while juggling relationships with wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz), muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), producer Lilli (Judi Dench) and his mother (Sophia Loren). Rob Marshall (Chicago) helms this musical based on the Broadway smash; Stacy Ferguson and Kate Hudson co-star.

Personally, I don’t really like musicals. I mean sometimes I will watch them and I find some of the music numbers very fun and exciting, and this one to be truly honest fit that description in some ways.

I hated Chicago so much! So when I heard Marshall was coming out with another musical, I really just wanted to avoid this like a plague. But, I got a chance to see it, and suprisingly it came out better than I expected. Most of this film is part realistic, part fantasy, and you can really tell when this happens.

In the beginning, the film was very slow, and the music barely was lifted off its feat. And this pattern would happen every once and again, which really threw me off. Sometimes, I got fed up with the slow pace, and decided to give up, but then an amazing musical number would come out, and sweep me off my feat.

I will say one thing about the music in this film, is that it surely is entertaining. Every time a song comes on you just feel this total bolt of energy go through the whole theater. I did find myself close dancing in my seats, and after the song I couldn’t stop just singing its catchy chorus’.

The film does have a very good and dazzling look. The lighting for the performances, bring out so many moods of how these characters feel, is just what makes the look and feeling perfect. Plenty of the settings of Italy look real well, and you feel like this place can become a character of itself too.

Daniel Day-Lewis as usual, does give a good performance here, but has this character that always seems to mess his life up until the very end, and has no problems with it, so i didn’t find him very likable. The rest of the cast does good as well, Penélope Cruz despite her amazingly gorgeous looks, does really give a solid and heart-broken performance here as the mistress.

Consensus: Nine has a great cast, great look, and some very exciting musical numbers, but at times feels distant, and gets way too slow at so many points.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Risky Business (1983)

Young Tom Cruise was such a little devil.

With his parents on vacation, high schooler Joel (Tom Cruise) — abetted by a prostitute named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) — turns opportunity into disaster as he transforms the family home into a brothel, sees a Porsche end up in Lake Michigan and watches his Princeton dreams fade.

Risky Business was one of the first serious teen comedies, in the 80s. To be truly honest I don’t think it was funny that much.

The premise makes the film out to be hilarious, when really you will probably get a slight chuckle here and there. There are a lot of scenes that would be hilarious, but this very weird score music by Tangerine Dream sort of ruins the comedy element to the film.

There are some parts of this film that were very good. Probably the first half was the best as it really did suck me in, then the second half started to drag very bad. A lot of jokes were just being forced, with a lot of those raunchy sex wit that really didn’t work at all.

The last part of the film is what’s very funny, and sort of takes over the film. The whole film shows a great look at teen angst, and its side effects. This one kid has never been with a woman before, and when he finally does, he has no idea what to do with her, knowing that she is a prostitute, still takes her in as a girlfriend of his.

The one thing about this film is that it never served any real danger in the plot. This young suburban kid from Chicago is basically messing in the world of prostitution, but the worst thing the killer pimp could do was steal all his furniture. It’s kind of like “OK your going to steal the furniture and nothing else, what the hell!”.

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of good things here. The soundtrack at times was a bit weird and electronic grew on me, and got better as it went along. Also, the cinematography was very good, it was very detailed and specific with its wild look.

Tom Cruise is very good here in one of his first very good roles. He plays this yuppie kid, who was always sheltered and finally gets to do something fun, but doesn’t know what to do, and he plays it so well. De Mornay and him build this very good chemistry that comes out well on screen.

Consensus: Risky Business doesn’t have all the laughs you would expect, and some obvious fictionalism, but features some true examinations of teenage angst, backed by a good young performance from Cruise.

7/10=Rentall!!!!!

State of Grace (1990)

Irish vs. Italians, nothing like it better.

Terry Noonan (Sean Penn), an Irish-American undercover cop working the Hell’s Kitchen beat, returns to his old neighborhood under the guise of reconnecting with friends Frankie and Jackie Flannery (Ed Harris and Gary Oldman), now leaders of an Irish mob family. Noonan’s actually been assigned to infiltrate the family and take them down — a task made all the harder when he renews his childhood romance with Kathleen Flannery (Robin Wright).

State Of Grace is a mobster flick that came out in 1990, along with other big-time Gangster flicks Godfather: Part III, Goodfellas, and Miller’ Crossing. This film never really stepped out in the light because of these others, but it is probably what makes it the most underrated.

The films look and appeal is just what makes it great. This look of Hell’s Kitchen in 1990, is just perfect, and it feels like a character itself, with all these thugs and bad guys inhabiting it.

The story is what is really rich however. You have Penn who grew up with all these guys, and he has so much loyalty to all of them, but he has to take them down but is torn between the loyalty of family, and his old lover. The film does show this and how at times Penn can’t even stand seeing all his friends go down, and him being put up to blame for it.

The writing is a bit of a bummer though. It isn’t as catchy, and as realistic as plenty of other mob films, and I felt like they were just saying this stuff to sound like mobsters. The difference between this film and Goodfellas, is that Goodfellas takes a straight-forward look at the life of gangsters with its very realistic dialogue, and this takes a sort of romantic look at the life of gangsters and just wants to sound like one.

In the end of the film, something really got me confused. I can’t really say anything to give too much away, but there is a huge shoot-out, in the number of gunshots that conveniently miss people, especially since these are all supposed to be tough, gun-savvy mobsters.

This acting here from the cast is very top-notched. Penn delivers another young, and strong performance as a man torn apart. But the best here is Gary Oldman, as Jackie. At first his look with the wrinkled down hair, I was expecting another one of those cheesy, gritty performances, when really what I got was one of the most heart-felt performances from anyone in the entire film. You really do understand this character for what he is, and not something he just looks to be like I did in the beginning. Ed Harris does that big bad guy look way too much in this film, and I really didn’t feel his anger come out in the performance.

Consensus: State Of Grace is a superbly acted mobster film with some great shots of New York, and an interesting story, just a lot more flawed than one of the best of 1990, Goodfellas.

8/10=Matinee!!!!!!

Avatar (2009)

One of the best ways to spend my Christmas day!!

The story is that Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, is a paraplegic who goes to a world known as Pandora. Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) tells Jake that if he can get everyone on Pandora to evacuate so that they can get a substance known as unobtanium, he will get Jake some new legs. So Jake uses an Avatar of himself to gain the native’s trust and hopefully get them to evacuate. But after living amongst them, Jake feels a bond with the people and decides to fight back against the colonel in an epic battle.

James Cameron has been going around talking a whole bunch of shit of how great this is, and you have never seen anything like this at all. Now that I look at it, damn he wasn’t kidding.

If you are going to see this movie, definitely give it a try in IMAX in 3D. There really isn’t any other way to see this, and if you choose to you won’t be in this world they call Avatar. This is a technical breakthrough for all the world of technology. At first I felt like I was going to be annoyed by the 3D, but I soon found myself so fascinated with the way the film looked, that it simply went over my head. Cameron really does have a knack for these beautiful visuals, the effects are even better once you see the way this whole world looks, with its creatures, plants, and overall look of it is just fascinating.

The story has a lot of similarities to Star Wars, but really doesn’t match up to it very much. The story is all way too similar, but the way it is done keeps you hooked on from the beginning. The action will keep you on your feet, as it mixes in with the beautiful visuals you are taken away by how you are excited but also taken away by its beautiful visuals.

The film has an original story, not one of those action block busters that are based on a comic book series or another film. And it creates this world where immersed in it visual, so you almost forget that its unreal and you start caring for the characters, and the whole story.The script is kind of corny and obvious, but I soon just totally forgot about that and cared for more of the story and characters.

Worthington gives a very effective performance here as Jake, and you cheer him on as the main protagonist, and just want him to win it all. The others in the film do great with this motion capture element such as Zoë Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang, all do great in each of their respective parts. I mean as creepy as the creatures look, you actually feel like these are real people, and care more for them, then some of the other humans in this film.

If there was one problem in this almost unproblematic film, was that its central message became a pain. The real central message behind this whole film was that it was about how we are causing global warming, and by doing so we are killing ourselves. Now the first time I got it, but after that about forty times they kept bringing it up and up again, to where I was just saying “OK, I get it!”.

Consensus: Avatar has beautifully enchanting visuals, very effective performances, and an exciting if done before story, that has us forgetting about the real world we live in, with such a beautiful way.

9/10=Full Priceee!!!!!!

Intermission (2004)

Great way to spend some Christmas joy!

This collection of 11 comic stories set in Dublin stems from one single circumstance: how the breakup of one couple’s relationship can have unexpected repercussions on the lives of the people around them. One of those people is Lehiff (Colin Farrell), a thief trying to set his life straight by pulling off one last heist before retiring. Too bad dogged detective John Lynch (Colin Meaney) will stop at nothing to bring Lehiff to justice.

Now this film is a big slap in the face to conventional story telling. All these stories are weaved together and at times one acts like a whimsical romance, then the next scene is involving somebody getting punched in the face or shot.

Director Jon Crowley has a very good way of keeping this film on the level of pure entertainment. He develops a good way to follow some hard and gritty action, with some funny laughs. The film goes from one story to another in a very quick way so you are interested yourself in a lot of what’s going on. It reminded me a lot of a Pulp Fiction mixed in with some of Guy Ritchie’s films, if it was Irish.

I developed a lot of love for these characters even though they are all a bunch of low-life slime bags. We feel like we know all these people, and although they are really terrible people we start to actually like them for who they are and what they do.

The writing is very rich in this film. It is written as a amazingly dark comedy, but a lot of the times they didn’t even seem that dark. A lot of them were typical state of the art jokes, that if you understood you would laugh your ass off at. I almost felt bad for still laughing cause something terrible would happen, and I would still be laughing from before.

If there is one problem I had with this film, it was that in the middle of the story there is a kidnapping story which really wasn’t funny nor was it all that compelling. So this was the only bad thing although it did have some good consequences.

The whole cast is very good but if I had to choose one it would probably be Colin Farrell who does the best job in my opinion. He plays the bad guy that we all know him for, but he does it really well in this film, while still maintaining a sense of humor. Cillian Muprhy is also quite good here as the younger and confused guy.

Consensus: Intermission is a quick, funny, and exciting ensemble piece, with funny as hell moments, and great actors in the roles.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Merry Christmass to all of you!!!! I may be a bit slow on the reviews for a bit of time, but I need to do some catching up. But I want to wish all of you a safe and healthy Christmas. Thank you for always checking up on my reviews, and here’s, well, close to a new beginning.

Mixed Nuts (1994)

What a messed up title for a non-porno.

Steve Martin stars as Philip, who runs a suicide-prevention hotline staffed by tetchy Mrs. Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) and lovesick Catherine (Rita Wilson). After getting an eviction order on Christmas Eve, the counselors think they’ve hit bottom — till they cross paths with an array of wackos, including a psycho St. Nick (Anthony LaPaglia).

So watching this movie did get me a little in the holiday spirit, because I thought that “wow although my family is crazy as well, at least nobody is dead”. Thats the message I got from this one.

So the director from Sleepless in Seattle, Nora Ephron does this film, and not once shows that she can at all direct. This whole story is just trying so hard to be so dark, and so bleak, but yet so funny at the same time. Not once does it work.

The jokes are just piled on, and on, and on to the point of where your just saying to yourself “what the hell??!!!”. The lame jokes that were at times offensive started to really become just a total annoyance for me.

So many great stars are in this film, and are just so misused. Steve Martin is not very funny here, if at all, and Madeline Kahn’s whole role is just basically screaming in an elevator. Juliette Lewis is in this film and gets terribly annoying in this film, not like any of her others. Liev Schreiber was probably the only one that really made me laugh, considered it was just one big gay joke after another.

Consensus: Mixed Nuts has a horrible title, horrible dialogue, and just a horrible way to use the A-list cast they have. Also, a horrible way to spend my holiday.

1/10=SomeOleBullShiiTTtttt!!!!

Elf (2003)

It’s always being played on USA, you had to know this one was going to come.

When young Buddy falls into Santa’s gift sack on Christmas Eve and is inadvertently transported back to the North Pole, he’s raised as a toy-making elf by Santa’s helpers. After growing up to be a misfit who never quite fits in, the outsized elf (Will Ferrell) decides to go to Manhattan and find his real dad(James Caan).

I have probably seen this about 300 times. First time ever I actually went to the movies when this first came out and I really liked it, and as I got older nothing really changed I still liked every time the same way.

This film is not such a laugh out loud comedy as there are a lot of grins involved. Director and writer Jon Favreau really does handle this film with the comedy you wouldn’t expect from a Will Ferrell movie. It’s basically for all ages: kids, teenagers, adults, and maybe even some senior citizens.

Will Ferrell gives a very charming and hilarious performance here, as you would expect him just to be hamming it up the whole time, but I think this is the one film that really did start him to become comedy’s leading man in Hollywood today. James Caan is such an odd choice for this film considering all the other stuff he’s been in, but really does fit in with this film suprisingly.

The only thing that I have noticed that the problem with this film is that it does at points start to lag a bit in parts. Especially at the end where they start to discuss about Santa being all real, and this all felt a little to out of place, but in the end it really didn’t matter.

I can’t really say that this film is the most amazing piece of work ever, but it is one of the modern Christmas Classics. I have a feeling now in about 10-20 years people will be watching this film, the same way people watch A Christmas Story around this time. That’s just my assumption, but you never know it could happen.

Consensus: Elf has a timeless message with a charming performance from Ferrell that really does make this film shine even more, and become a modern Christmas Classic.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

How can William Hurt be gay, its not true!!!

Jailed for immoral behavior, flamboyant homosexual Luis Molina (William Hurt) passes the time by detailing scenes of his favorite romantic movie to fellow inmate Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia), a hard-edged political activist. Slowly, the two forge a bond based on mutual understanding and respect.

Kiss Of The Spider combines about three elements: the odd couple, political activist, and feminine homosexual. Sounds like a film that really can go wrong, but how it doesn’t it whats best to see.

The one thing about this film that makes it a lot more culturally significant is that Brokeback Mountain always gets the credit for breaking ground with gay people, when really people have forgotten totally about this film.

The one great thing about Kiss Of The Spider Woman is that it really doesn’t dive into the prison aspect of the film. Yeah their locked up and we all know that but it doesn’t go over almost every time that these guys are in jail and showing how horrible it can be.

The film focuses more on the relationship between these two prisoners. They are both prisoners of society in way or another and you see this through their own actions, and minds. We understand what these characters have done before, and how they got to jail which brings up a lot about the government and a society where we can’t be free enough.

There was one problem that I really did have with this film, and its that it felt a bit too much like a play. All the scenes with Hurt cavorting around, dreaming about this movie he loved, came as very show booty for me, and acted more as a playwright.

William Hurt did receive an Oscar for this, and now I can see why. He really does create this character that at a time in America, not many people understood Gay people for what they were. But Hurt gives us this heart felt and real look at a homosexual with such huge feelings of grief and desire, and it really is a splendid performance. Raul Julia does even better as well, playing the straight-forward prisoner who never wants to let his gaurd down, but gradually starts to let more and more of himself come out in this performance.

Consensus: Kiss Of The Spider Woman may seem too much like a play, but has great lead performances, a heart-felt message, and a good look at homosexuals in a world that wasn’t accepting it.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

The Messenger (2008)

The Messenger? More like The Meh-senger. Okay, now that I’ve fulfilled my quota of one bad pun per blog post, I can get on with this review.

Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant who has returned home from Iraq, is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Montgomery is partnered with Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), to give notice to the families of fallen soldiers. The Sergeant is drawn to Olivia Pitterson (Samantha Morton), whom he has delivered the news of her husband’s death.

There isn’t really much that goes with this film, other than Morton and Foster’s relationship. It just basically a tale of two dudes who go from house to house telling these families that their loved one has tragically been killed in action.

The film has a lot of dark and upsetting subjects, but is handled with such care, and not as exploited as you would think. Not only is this a tale of these two and their friendship that grows over time, but about the grief that these two have after war, and what it does to their lives personally after the war.

The little sub plot between Foster and Morton does not seem needed one bit. I understand the message the film was trying to go out with in this, but it wasn’t as rich or complicated as the relationship between Foster and Harrelson.

The best thing about the film would have to be its main characters and the performances. Ben Foster is this young and cocky former soldier who is still having reoccurring trauma from previous war and really does show how powerful he actually can be as an actor. But the best is Woody Harrelson, who shows that he can be one of the funniest guys in some of the darkest material, but change emotions so quickly and still have you believe in the guy. Their friendship over time changes into something that is just simply about business, and then to something close and more beautiful. I don’t mean for it to sound gay or anything, but at the beginning you feel like you know these characters, and then by the end you have a total feeling of who they are, and why they act like this.

I think that some stuff in this film is dark, but the film never really got dark enough for me. The families reactions were dark, but I never sensed any feeling of to how these two guys felt about doing their jobs, maybe for a scene or two.

Consensus: The Messenger may not be the darkest and well-directed war film, but features emotionally strong scenes, backed by great characterization and performances by Foster and Harrelson.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Darkman (1990)

Liam Neeson is not a scientist, that’s how you know that this film is messed up.

In director Sam Raimi’s moody, intense thriller, brilliant scientist Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is almost killed by gangsters in a massive explosion. Unstable and disfigured, Peyton becomes Darkman, an impossibly strong, tormented antihero. Able to spend only moments in the sunlight, Darkman begins a quest to rekindle his love with his girlfriend (Frances McDormand), who he’s held at a distance, and to take vengeance on his enemies.

The funny thing about Darkman is that it looks like a comic book movie (Batman, Dick Tracy), though it features an original screenplay. It has all the elements of one of those origin episodes that the comic book fans love to collect, and how they discover how that superhero turned out to be that way and why.

One thing that you soon may notice about Darkman that it acts and looks like a horror film, when really its a natural tale based on revenge. A lot of elements are thrown together to make this wild fest filled with blend of comic book action, sets, and characters, pitch black humor, and sci-fi/horror violence. I wasn’t expecting anything different from a Raimi film, but what this is still a nice and well-worked blend.

There are a lot of original things that go on in this film. Sometimes the action is really cool to look at, and there are a lot of other scenes where Darkman uses some of his smart tricks to fool others thinking he is still dead.

The one problem I had with this film was that Darkman the character was not very compelling. He obviously has a reason for killing all these people, but compared to other super heroes such as Batman and Superman, he doesn’t have much of a personality and we can’t really connect to him as an audience.

Occasionally the film does get a bit silly with its very cheap one-liners, and cliche script. But the villains didn’t seem so bad either. They just seemed like people that were part of the mob nothing really different, and I think anybody, super powers or no super powers could have easily killed them.

Liam Neeson does try his hardest with the character but isn’t given much to play with. He does have little scenes where he goes into rage and it seems believable just not memorable, and falls by the waist side of this character.

Consensus: Darkman is well-directed, and at times a very fun picture, but isn’t too memorable, that features an uninteresting superhero, and gang of villains.

6/10=Rental!!!

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