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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: February 2010

Cliffhanger (1993)

My fear of heights would never give me this job.

A year after losing his friend in a tragic 4,000-foot fall, former ranger Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner, Hal (Michael Rooker), are called to return to the same peak to rescue a group of stranded climbers, only to learn the climbers are actually thieving hijackers.

As usual with any of the Stallone action vehicle’s there is no story here, other than this guy saves people off cliffs and ends up in some drug bust, and a bunch of bad people looking for all this money. It’s not a very original story to say the least, but it does have some good to it.

The film is all about the special effects and stunts that go down in this movie. The scenes with Stallone about 200 feet in the air dangling from just a wire are jaw-dropping, and will leave you on the edge of your seat. Also, not to forget the scenery of this ice cold mountain and how almost every time you have to watch your step or you just may fall many feet to your death.

The action is fun and exciting I’ll give it that and is one of the better action flicks from Stallone. There is a lot of nice action, that’s surprisingly bloody and in your face many of the times, especially these slow-mo shots of people getting killed are very nice to look at and also very disturbing.

Stallone tries to play more of a sensitive, human character but most of his dialogue is of the dirt-kicking, “Nobody understands me” elementary school variety. Similarly, Sly presents himself as more of an everyman who isn’t invulnerable – so he gets the shit kicked out of him way more than you’d expect for Stallone. But then he has these moments of almost superhuman feats, like when he sleds down a mountain on some dude’s BODY, hangs out under icy water without a shirt on, and impales a bad guy on a friggin’ stalactite! Well needless to say John Lithgow is not a very believable villain, and many times throughout the film I found myself laughing every time he talked cause I just couldn’t take him seriously as this sinister cold-blooded killer.

Consensus: Not yout typical horrible Stallone action flick, Cliffhanger has some jaw-dropping visuals mixed with exciting action, but still has its writing flaws and a not so relivable villain, but still a nice popcorn flick.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

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Blue Streak (1999)

Martin Lawrence once again playing a cop, no literally.

Jewel thief Miles Logan (Martin Lawrence) returns to his hiding place after a jail stint — only to find that his booty is buried under a newly constructed Los Angeles police station. Logan poses as a cop to get the loot, but his rookie partner (Luke Wilson) could prove to be a huge liability.

The movie needless to say is a big blatant rip-off of the Eddie Murphy buddy cop action films of the 80’s like 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop, but to say the least isn’t a terrible rip-off. This movie really surprised me. I expected another unintellectual juvenile comedy. It wasn’t like that at all.

I understand that this genre is familiar but Director Les Mayfield puts a new spin on it with a lot of funny moments. The film not only reminded me a lot of those Eddie Murphy comedies, but also a lot about Lethal Weapon. Usually I don’t like it when random chases come into the fold but the film does have a good blend of its action and very funny comedy.

Now the one main reason to see this film is really all Martin Lawrence, who is just basically hilarious every scene. Basically this film gives him every chance to let out all the energy inside of him, because not only is he playing a fake cop, but also a person who still is a crook, and he does it real well, and provides all of the humor in the film.

The thing with this film is that it doesn’t feel legit. I feel like as the plot went along so did the film and although it isn’t as bad as you would imagine some points the film just seems made up. There are moments of genuine comedy in this film obviously, but then there are parts where the comedy totally misses, and misses quite badly too. Probably because the only funny one is Lawrence and when he isn’t delivering the lines its pretty lame.

Consensus: Blue Streak is a familiar movie with some spots that don’t hit the mark, but ultimately lets Martin Lawrence be Martin Lawrence with enough comedy and enough action to keep you satisfied.

7/10=Rental!!

Fish Tank (2010)

Teenage angst at its worst.

The life of hot-tempered teen outcast Mia (Katie Jarvis) takes an unexpected turn when her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), brings home a handsome and mysterious boyfriend named Connor (Michael Fassbender), who pledges to bring sweeping positive changes to the household.

The movie starts out as all good and happy-go-lucky (kind of), but then starts to turn into some dark material, which will really set you off.

For me this is one of those films for a long time I have been wanting to see. I love those rebellious outsider films and when I heard of this and its praise I knew I just had to see it. It is very angst, and will turn some viewers away mostly cause of its gritty look, but has a lot more to it.

The movie is really about these two’s relationship – and how Mia learns, the hard way, quite a bit about life, and, how to get out of her self-imposed living Hell. It’s sort of a rites of passage or coming of age type story. The story is pretty straightforward, and you can see some events coming, but then there are other times when things get tense and you don’t know how things will turn out.

The one problem I had with this film was that there were times in this film where it could have just really totally made some cinema gold with their scenes but however, they just go for the indie role. And when i mean the indie role I mean the ambiguous way of thinking. By the end, there were times where I though they are really going to make this work, and then it doesn’t and just cuts to another scene so suddenly. Another problem was that the main twist to the end of the story was pretty obvious, I knew how, when, and where it was coming, it was just how effected I was going to be, and I really wasn’t.

This is Kate Jarvis’ first film role and its surprise cause she her performance is so real, raw, and vulnerable its going to be a huge surprise if she doesn’t get bigger roles like this anymore. Fassbender is very good here as Connor, who rides a thin line between encouraging her and flirting with her, and most of the time he’s on screen will make you feel safe, sometimes. The film really does get under the skin of this girl, so not only is it about her but people as well.

Consensus: Fish Tank doesn’t achieve dramatic greatness, but with enough strong metaphors about life, a moving coming-of-age story, and powerful performances from Jarvis and Fassbender, it does get pretty high up there.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Apocalypse Now (1979)

One of those trippy war films.

Francis Ford Coppola’s epic adapts Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to the Vietnam War, where special operations Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) must travel deep into the Cambodian jungle to locate and kill the mysterious — and insane — Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

The one thing right away you will notice about this film is that it is not your typical war film. And that is a good thing, but also a bad thing.

The best part of the film is just the amazing visuals that inhabit this movie from start to finish. The vibrant colors that Ford Coppola use, especially at the end, all convey a sort of emotion that nothing is right and you are in hell where there is no way out.

The film is a lot more trippier because its also about the haunting fear of the war. I liked this part and yet I thought it was pretty much goofy. One reason was because I feel like there were times where the film could have succeeded with being a natural war film with nice war scenes, but instead gets into this weird world by the end of the film that we really have no idea about and its kind of freaky, but also unrealistic.

I have to give most of the credit to director Ford Coppola who basically directs this film with sure power and makes sure no detail is left out. The way he lights his scenes, and makes them look is beautiful, but just the overall setting especially the one helicopter sequence which really shows some great film making. Ford Coppola gives you this sense of madness that is going around at this time, to a point where you feel as your going mad with these soldiers as well.

The young cast is awesome here with recognizable faces, but not so much of recognizable performances. Sheen is the fore-front of this film and brings out a lot of craziness with his character, but doesn’t get too nuts and stays sane most of the time. It was funny to see all these performances from all the actors so young like Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, and a great Robert Duvall. But the best here that will leave a mark on you at the end of the film is the always great Marlon Brando. The whole movie is basically all about him waiting to be seen and the one scene when him and Sheen finally meet is just shot so perfectly, and after that Brando has a short monologue which is just so perfectly delivered gave him so much more gratitude by the end.

Consensus: Apocalypse Now is not your typical war film, but has a fearless direction from Ford Coppola, who gives us these beautiful colors on-screen, a haunting setting, and brings out great performances from its young cast.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Poetic Justice (1993)

Ehh I think Singleton should just stick with his hood films.

Pop superstar Janet Jackson makes her big-screen debut in this sensitive urban drama. Justice (Jackson) sacrifices her dream of attending college and becomes a cosmetologist after her boyfriend gets brutally murdered in South Central Los Angeles. To cope with her loss, Justice turns to writing poetry. Maya Angelou, who shows up in a small role, penned the verse for director John Singleton’s absorbing film, which costars rapper Tupac Shakur.

Poetic Justice is John Singleton’s follow-up to Boyz N The Hood, and the second in his “hood trilogy”. It isn’t his best work but has its own little positives.

The film isn’t as crazy and wild as Boyz, its a lot more quiet and simple than that. It doesn’t focus so much on the violence that these characters face, it’s just about the roles that men and women face when they are with each other. The film lacks the fire of Boyz but shows a different side of Singleton, an idealistic and dreamier side.

Singleton with all of his projects, shows that he has huge ideas he just needs to get them out on screen. In Boyz, he poses the idea of how boys can get along with boys, now its if young men and women can get a long. It makes me think that if this relationship between Shakur and Jackson can’t work out then there is no hope, and that’s the best part of the film.

The one thing I didn’t like the most about this film was that it was a lot more slower than Boyz. There were parts in this film that just felt tiresome and boring. There were scenes without Jackson and Shakur and didn’t convey many emotions and left me uninterested. I felt that the writing was good, but there were too many times where I was calling what was going to happen next, and when it happens it didn’t quite work in a film like this.

The best part of this film is the stellar performances from the two leads. Jackson throws out all the glitter of Hollywood and actually gives a strong convincing performance as a woman who is scared of relationships, and doesn’t want another problem in her life like before. The best in this movie is Shakur, who shall rest in peace, gives a great performance here and makes me miss him even more, because he surely was a talent to see.

Consensus: Poetic Justice isn’t as energetic and effective as Boyz In The Hood, and surely doesn’t play out as well, but features some very bright ideas from Singleton, and an even better performance from Shakur and Jackson.

6.5/10=Rental!!!

A River Runs Through It (1992)

How exciting is fly-fishing after all?

Two fly-fishing brothers, straitlaced scholar Norman (Craig Sheffer) and trouble-finding gambler Paul (Brad Pitt), struggle to mollify their Presbyterian preacher father’s (Tom Skerritt) lofty moral — and fishing — standards. Director Robert Redford’s nostalgic meditation about the fierce bonds that unite and divide families is set in Montana in the early 1900s.

A River Runs Through It is one of those great books that is just so hard to make a film of. One reason because how can you make a film about how fly-fishing is the moral theme for this family over the decades.

But mostly for the effort I have to give the props to Redford as director, because mostly he makes this film have a lot of heart in places that you wouldn’t expect. He captures the heart and nature of the relationship that these two brothers have from childhood up to their adult years and it truly is something to see. The way he shoots the film is really beautiful and keeps you astonished by the images in this film.

The major problem I had with this film is that it was extremley slow and uninteresting at times. With a couple of exceptions, the film never really held my attention for a long period of time mostly cause nothing much really happens except for them talking and fly-fishing which after the 1 hour mark kind of gets annoying.

I liked the screenplay because it was written very poeticaly, but to say the least i kind of knew the whole time where it was going. I think by the end of the film it started to dive into areas that were abandoning its earlier themes, which were mostly all about being a  parent and raising a nice family.

The one better thing about this film is its performances from its two young leads. Sheffer and Pitt both seem like brothers that have grown old together and in every scene capture an essence of growing up and struggling with adulthood. Mostly, Pitt makes his charcater a lot more likable with his signature energy and makes his character the most watched.

Consensus: A River Runs Thrugh It is written and shot inteligently by Redford, but doesn’t have enough going on to fully keep your interest, but still a nice film.

5/10=Rental!!!

The Replacement Killers (1998)

So much action, so little time.

Hit man John Lee (Chow Yun-Fat) refuses an assignment to kill a police officer’s 7-year-old son — defiance that doesn’t sit well with his Chinatown drug lord boss, Mr. Wei (Kenneth Tsang). Wei hires “replacement killers” to finish the job and take care of Lee, and the hit man’s only chance to escape is with a new passport from forger Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino). But Wei is hot on their bloody trail in director Antoine Fuqua’s actioner.

This film tries too hard to blend these two different styles together: fast-paced action of John Woo, and the visualizing style of MTV and Hollywood. I liked some of the visuals in the film but I think they relied more on that then the rest of the film.

The writing is at-the-most very cheesy and terribly written. The scenes where Yun-Fat and Sorvino are talking just wreak with utter distaste in how real people actually talk. The story sort of starts to lose itself after the 1 hour minute mark so they just decide to add in the crazy gun sequences.

Now don’t get me wrong I did like the action and gun sequences here, even though they caused so much havoc and distortion, that you yourself were bound just to get lost in the mess. I have seen plenty of other Hong Kong shoot em up films and to be honest this is a lukewarm attempt to restate that. Mostly, cause the action isn’t as gory and in your face as plenty of other Honk Kong films of this nature. But despite that I found these scenes to actually kind of be the stronghold of the film.

When it comes to acting let’s just say that Yun-Fat isn’t the best. He doesn’t have much lines but when he does, sort of delivers them in such a terrible way your wondering if hes starting to learn English. Sorvino tries with this script, and brings some humor to the picture, but can’t quite hit the right note. I think the reason for this was just to put a big action Foreign star with some sassy sidekick and make a movie out of it, honestly.

Consensus: The Replacement Killers isn’t boring and has a style, but is a bad blend of Honk Kong Cinema and the MTV visuals, bad acting with even worse writing, and ultimately a lukewarm attempt at capturing the essence of those Honk Kong films.

3.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!

Gattaca (1997)

One of those sci-fi thrillers that actually mean something in today’s world.

With one eye on his lifelong dream of working in outer space, a genetically flawed but determined “In-Valid” (Ethan Hawke) hires a DNA broker (Tony Shalhoub) to help him obtain more desirable genetic material from a paralyzed man (Jude Law). In the process, he meets and falls in love with a beautiful “Valid” (Uma Thurman) with a heart defect.

One of the things about this film that may throw a lot of people at first sight, is that it does have an odd premise, and weird future of the world. But I can tell you one thing, do not let that spoil you, its something completely different.

I’m always against these odd sci-fi films cause quite frankly I feel like their all the same formula. But Gattaca here is an exception cause it poses the same question about idenities but in a slightly less harmful way. We get the story front up about this person and what he wants to do, and we see his whole story through his eyes and we get the sense of this person’s tragic life.

I liked the film most importantly for its message that it shows very well. It shows what our world is fast becoming and the lack of privacy we will have roughly 20 years from now. I like this movie however, because of the point it gets across so well: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It shows us that even with all the up-and-coming technology, intelligence and security improvements, one who is strong enough willed can still “beat the system”. I think the tag line for this movie says it all “There’s no gene for the human spirit”.

I think the film would have worked better as just a character study drama than the little thriller pieces it added on. Randomly by the end we had these slight bolts of tension that I don’t think quite worked, mostly cause the whole film was just based on watching these characters. Also, the film does get a bit slow in points, mostly just about them talking all this futuristic junk, but this did kind of break down my attention span.

The most engaging part of this movie here is the strong characters, along with the performances that inhabit them. Ethan Hawke does good job as playing our main protagonist, who in every way beats the system and tries to achieve his ultimate goal, and that comes out very well in this performance. The real shining star in the film is a younger Jude Law, who adds a lot of pizazz to his flat character, and makes him a lot more interesting that you want to see more of him. The only thing I wondered about him was if science was so intelligent why couldn’t he walk and still in a wheelchair? Just a question.

Consensus: With obvious little plot holes, Gattaca does a superb job at creating engaging and interesting characters that make this sci-fi trip a lot more believable, with a future that we may not be able to overcome, mostly due to the direction we are heading.

8/10=Matinee!!!

The Last Samurai (2003)

Ruined all hopes for a Samurai Jack movie.

Tom Cruise stars as Nathan Algren — an American hired to instruct the Japanese army in the ways of modern warfare — in this lush epic set in the 1870s, which finds Algren learning to respect the samurai and the honorable principles that rule them. Pressed to destroy the samurai’s way of life in the name of modernization and open trade, Algren decides to become an ultimate warrior(with Ken Watanabe) himself and to fight for their right to exist.

The film is marketed as being the Tom Cruise epic vehicle that shares a lot of similarities to Dances With Wolves. The story may seem the same, but the game has sort of changed.

The most satisfying thing about this film is its high production values it used. This is a triumph in products and costume design as you feel like you actually are in Japan during this time period. I mean how everybody looks, they aren’t just people dressed up, you actually feel like these are real people and you are apart of their village as much as they are.

The one thing that kind of made the film was that it wasn’t a one-note action pick like a lof epics accidental hit. The scenes where Cruise is learning the ways and lifestyles that these people take with honor in all their choices was really interesting. Now, granted the epic action scenes, especially the last 20 minutes, are always exciting and very well choreographed.

I did have a couple of problems with this film though. I feel like the message the film was trying so hard to bring out failed, mostly due to all the blood shed it brought out along the way. Stories like this are always interesting to follow; a man haunted by his past and loathed by his comrades gets his chance at redemption by adapting another culture’s beliefs and lifestyle. You know the ending; an epic battle but the he somehow is the last man left standing. The problem with this one is that it seemed as though the writers were so afraid to cut out the jargon that bogged the story down, but that’s Hollywood for ya.

I think that Tom Cruise, for as much as shit as he gets, is till one of the best actors working today, but doesn’t quite convey any different emotions I first had about him here. He does a good job, but I still see Tom Cruise in a samurai outfit, and not any real emotional character. The real stand-out here is Ken Watanabe who takes this image that we have of this typical old, wise samurai and turns it on his head and makes him a lot more human with more emotions.

Consensus: The Last Samurai has high production values that show with its great look and awesome action scenes, but doesn’t use and original story and still has problems convincing me that Tom Cruise is this samurai.

8/10=Matinee!!!!

Rosewood (1997)

Proof that John Singleton can do other stuff than just gang films.

The film stars Ving Rhames who travels to the town of Rosewood, Florida, United States, and becomes a witness to the 1923 Rosewood massacre. The supporting cast includes Don Cheadle as Sylvester, a non-fictional character who also became witness to the atrocities, and Jon Voight, as a white store owner who inhabits a village near Rosewood. The three characters become entangled in a desperate attempt to save whomever they can from the rage of the racist whites of Rosewood.

Now when everybody thinks of John Singleton they always say one movie: Boyz N The Hood. Well, he makes one similar to that, but different setting and different time period.

African American History Month so I’m reviewing this film. This is another movie that makes me want to go out and beats up white people. This movie shows the violences that was displays by jealous people. And it uses a whole bunch of vicious violence, and murder to further the point that all these people wanted to do was kill black people.

The problem I had with this film is that it wasn’t powerful enough. We saw these black people and cheered them on hopefully to get away from the bad white people but we never get to know these black people other than their scared and were supposed to cheer them on. We never see them doing good deeds neither do we get any insight into what their lives are really like. The screenplay was written-well but I still found it to be cliched with lines when it came towards the end and actually getting to the heart of the story.

During some of the parts of the film I wondered, as did the film, how this was all going to turn out. Times, it felt like a straight-up race drama, but then it lingered on the lines of typical action epic. Towards the end of the film this surely showed with the pace up-tempo and violence that was right in your face.

The best thing of this film is its strong performances from the cast. I liked Voight as the only good white guy in the film and found him to be the one everybody else liked the most. But the film really is given to Rhames who brings out a strong performance as the main hero in this film, although he does not have those typical traits, and is fighting for something more, his race. I wish there was more of Don Cheadle in the film as he sort of disappears out of nowhere, and I had a problem with Michael Rooker who was sometimes a good cop, then turned into a bad cop, even though it seemed like he had enough sense to end this massacre.

Consensus: Singleton directs this film with his signature simplicity and strong enough performances to keep it alive, but doesn’t know whether to be a action flick or epic drama, and doesn’t quite have the strongest screenplay.

6/10=Rental!!!

11:14 (2003)

The same old techinique that gets better every time.

Even though they’re strangers, Buzzy (Academy Award winner Hilary Swank), Mark (Colin Hanks), Cheri (Rachel Leigh Cook), Jack (Henry Thomas) and Eddie (Ben Foster) will become part of each other’s lives — even if it kills them — in this innovative drama composed of five seemingly random story lines that intersect at precisely 11:14 p.m.

Though the technique of telling a non-linear story is as old as film itself, for the past few years it has been all the rage in the indie world with varying degrees of success.

Right from the beginning you will probably notice how unusual this film is. So many little things pop in and out that have no meaning whatsoever, but later on in the movie if you just wait you will notice there is a lot of explaining to these certain situations. The twists and turns keep it interesting enough to keep your eyes on the screen.

The film has some great writing that is a nice blending of dark comedy and thrilling dramatic aspects. I feel like sometimes the film tried too hard to be a dark comedy but didn’t quite hit the mark mostly because of the situation but overall a nice blend.

I felt too much like the film was a gimmick. Honestly, I couldn’t take the film as a serious piece of work cause there are moments when things just happen and doesn’t seem very believable. I thought having all these crazy events happen at exactly 11:14 just gave it a catchy title and really nothing else.

The acting is surprisingly effective from this small ensemble cast. Out of the whole cast I was mostly surprised by Swank who actually adds a lot of emotional depth to her character in one little scene. Swayze as usual woos me away with his great performance and makes me miss him even more.

Consensus: Though it has some non-serious plot holes, 11:14 benefits from an interesting story, witty writing, and enough twists and turns to keep your interest, even though it feels a bit too much like a gimmick.

7/10=Rental!!

Heat (1995)

A long ass movie that didn’t need to be an long ass movie.

De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a professional burglar who is a calm and methodical introvert, while Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, veteran LAPD homicide detective whose explosive temper and devotion to his job causes him to neglect those closest to him.

For a long time now I have been just craving the time and effort to watch this film, now that I have seen it, I can finally stop wondering if it is great or not.

I have to give director Michael Mann credit here because he takes the old story about two people stuck in their lives, and puts in a different seat, and fresher approach. The film had some great and exciting action scenes in it with plenty of the crazy shootouts that we all know and love Mann for.

I enjoyed how well the script moved along with such a long movie. This film goes into great detail about how a score is taken down and how law enforcement track their prey. The action is there and plenty of times but the film gives their characters and story enough time to talk and be a three-dimensional character. The screenplay is written so witty, truly, and also very compelling.

The complaint I had with this film was that it was 171 minutes, when it should have been about 150 minutes or less. There are a lot of powerful scenes that keep your interest as the film goes on, but there are sometimes where nothing at all except for talking happens. I did enjoy a lot of the talking but the rest was very lack luster and didn’t quite enjoy me as much. The film had a couple of scenes where it just lagged on completely cause there really was nothing else going on. In my opinion, Mann should have at least cutted out 45 minutes of this film and left the better scenes in there.

Now the main reason for this film to be seen is cause its De Niro and Pacino’s first-time on-screen together, even though its only for about 10 minutes. I liked how all the scenes they were given were not just to play off of each other but more of to play themselves and give their own look at the character. The one scene where they finally meet is just a great scene that almost every film buff should watch if they want to see greatness.

Consensus: Though a lot of it should have been cut out, Heat still packs those 171 minutes with a well-written script, exciting action, and most of all 2 great performances from De Niro and Pacino.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Notorious (2009)

After seeing this movie I have just realized something, Biggie was a ladies man!

Based on the story of Christopher Wallace, better known as Notorious B.I.G. (played by Jamal Woolard), this insightful biopic chronicles the gangsta rapper’s troubled life as a drug dealer, his artistic success and his unresolved murder at age 24. The film also delves into his close friendship with Sean Combs (Derek Luke) and the famous feud with hip-hop rival Tupac Shakur (Anthony Mackie). Angela Bassett portrays Biggie’s mother.

The film is your obvious generic rise-and-fall story that you would expect. Starts out from a rough background, makes it big, then tragically falls. That is the same formula used for all these biopics, and although that is used here again, it isn’t as bad as you would expect.

It was a great experience with this film cause I have like that 90’s gangster rap, but more importantly, Biggie. So to see his story played out was a huge treat for me, and the one thing I liked is how you get to see the reason and inspiration of why somebody would want to be apart of this life style. The direction from George Tillman Jr. has to be praised because everything right from the location the the outfits everything is shot in detail, and so I felt like I was with Biggie as this was happening in the 90’s.

I didn’t feel very attached to Biggie Smalls so I didn’t cry when he died. The movie didn’t give me any insight into Biggie’s character. The film doesn’t quite get past his big huge character and just shows us what we see in footage and archives, never anything else. There were moments in this film that felt a bit too dramatized and were put in for dramatic effect. A lot of the stuff with Lil’ Kim didn’t seem very realistic and just more outrageous to make the film like that. The time limit also made this film seem like a long trip that could have been cut-down with all its talking and into more of exciting concert footage.

The best thing here is unknown actor Jamal Woolard. This film basically lets Woolard be Biggie anyway he wants to be Biggie, and he really does shine as him. He captures the essence and character of Biggie 0n and off the mic, which I found even better when he was singing. The supporting cast with Mackie, Luke, and Bassett all have their scenes where they show off their talents, but I feel like Mackie didn’t have much time to show more of his talents off cause I know he can.

Consensus: With its obvious generic rise-and-fall formula, Notorious steps away from the obvious biopic cliches, and gives us great performances and a slick directing job Tillman Jr.

6.5/10=Rental!!!

Shutter Island (2010)

Basically Scorsese can do it all!

Director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio re-team for this taut adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel about Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), a U.S. marshal who searches for an escaped psychiatric patient on a mysterious remote island in the wake of a hurricane.

For any person who has loved all of Scorsese fast-talking, slickly directed, mobster films, well don’t look here at all for that type of movie. This is not your usual Goodfellas or The Departed, look more to Kubrick, and basically Scorsese makes a run for it.

The trailers will have you think that this movie is a straight-up horror fest, when really it isn’t. A lot of the elements from Christopher Nolan films are all here with these mind-bending psychological elements, and Scorsese does not let up once. He uses some great set pieces such as this deserted island where you feel almost nothing is explained, and a very claustrophobic place to be. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat cause throughout the whole movie things will pop up every once and awhile, and you will have no idea what’s going on but you can’t take your eyes off it.

Shutter Island is pretty confusing until the finale (basically from Why are you all wet, baby? to the end). Its pieced together slowly and is a combination of Teddy’s memories, hallucinations, and whats actually occurring in reality. The way it unfolds is kind of like trying to solve a Rubix Cube. It takes time and a little bit of effort, but is well worth it in the end. Shutter Island is a film that makes you think. Remember that going in.

The one problem I had with the film is that there were a lot of dream sequences that were just meant to bend your mind, and I think a lot of these went on for a bit too long. The graphic detail didn’t bother me but these dream sequences didn’t seem to mean very much other than just being utterly creepy and different.

Leo as usual is great here and plays this character Teddy with such great authenticity and realism, its so easy to cheer him on. But the supporting cast of Mark Ruffalo, Jackie Earle Haley, and mostly Ben Kingsley give great side performances where you don’t know if these people are real or fake and they do a great job at not giving too much away in their performances.

Consensus: Not one of Scorsese’s best but certainly is his most different piece of work, that is pieced together so well, with great performances from the cast, and mostly a fearless direction from Scorsese, who doesn’t shy away once from his grim material.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

In the Bedroom (2001)

Hopefully my parents don’t grow old like this!

Set in a tranquil town on the Maine coast, this character-driven drama tells the story of a couple (Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson) whose teenage son (Nick Stahl) is involved in a love affair with a single mother (Marisa Tomei). When the relationship comes to a sudden and tragic end, the boy’s parents must face their worst nightmare and embark on a dark and dangerous psychological journey.

In the Bedroom is a film that challenges viewers to understand these characters. I liked how the film didn’t focus too much on the event, and more on how these characters are effected emotionally and physically. Director Todd Field understands how to make an emotionally and powerful film without just showing the audince what they want to see.

The reason why this film mostly works is because its incredibly written screenplay, that is so tragic and true to the point, that its hard not to be taken away. It shows how grief and denial of one’s life can eventually lead everyone to turn on each other and gain that huge sense of paranoia that happens in such an event like this one.

The problem I had with this film was that I felt like it was way too slow at points, as well as the editing. The film does keep your attention mostly due to the great screenplay but stalls at plenty of times, that don’t seem meaningful at all. There were scenes that should have been cut out, mostly due to the fact that they didn’t really have anything to do with the story and more for the dramatic effect.

Utterly, the best thing about this film is its performances from the cast. Nick Stahl is fascinating, and although I wish she was on more but did fine anyway, Marisa Tomei. But this film is more anchored by the performances from Wilkinson and Spacek. They both show a great and realistic look at two older people who are stuck living with a tragedy and can’t seem to get away from the fact that they may have messed up. The way they use this screenplay is something of a miracle by how real all these scenes are and the way these two just make these scenes is even better.

Lastly, the biggest problem with this film is that I felt like the revenge ending didn’t seem like it was in the right movie. It acted more as a suspense-thriller ending that crawled out of some Perry Mason episode. I mean it wasn’t the worst but the way it ended wasn’t very meaningful and less insightful than I actually thought it was going to be with such a powerful film like this one.

Consensus: Though it needs better editing and a different ending, In the Bedroom features a well-written script, anchored by wonderful performances from its great cast.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Matrix (1999)

Reason why I don’t take pills, or trust guys that wear sunglasses indoors.

In this complex story that aspires to mythology, a computer hacker (Keanu Reeves) searches for the truth behind the mysterious force known as the Matrix. He finds his answer with a group of strangers led by the charismatic Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).

This movie is someting of a sci-fi classic. It features so many great special effects that look so unreal at points that you don’t even know how they did it, even until this day. The Wachowski Brothers really make something extraordinary here by blending all these different kinds of gneres together. There is all this cyber-punk stuff going down, mixed with Bruce Lee kung-fu action fighting, and a little bit of noir mixed with a scene of spaghetti western here.

The way that the special effects are used are so beautiful in the way they look. Wachowski Brothers pretty much just use about anything from models, to cuts, to name well they used it and all of basically works here. I mean they took almost every 20th century sc-fi material they could get and just make such a run for it, its wonderful.

The Wachowski Brothers make a very good attempt at saying something that we have seen many times before, but never like this. That is if reality is just something we are living in our minds and if so how do we run away from the dream to make it real. I give them major props for trying to say something here but it’s kind of a let-down with its story and pay-off. That’s why sometimes I felt the script could have been so much better than what it actually was, because so many bad lines are thrown out, I just had to laugh at times.

The action scenes in this are highly exceptional and were probably the best parts of the film. The fight scenes are filmed in such a way with stunts that happen so out there that even though there hard to believe there still very awesome. Wachowski Brothers film the scenes by using all these different cuts and showing the action as it happens rather than just having one scene and go back and forth to another.

Say what you will about Keanu and how much of a terrible actor he is, but he was born to play Neo. He is so cheesy with his confused act and ultra-cheesy one liners that its hard not to see him as The Chosen One, cause he handles it so well. Laurence Fishburne here is great as Morpheus as the one leader who never loses his patience and mind no matter how much crap is going down. Hugo Weaving gives a very sinister performance here as Agent Smith who is engagingly odd, and plays one of the best and most unusual villains of all-time.

Consensus: The Matrix has all the great things a sc-fi film needs with beautiful cinematography, awesome and exciting action, and good performances from the cast, even if the screenplay does seem a bit of a let down.

9/10=Full Price!!!

Spanking The Monkey (1995)

There are so many names for masturbation, and this is probably the best.

Susan Aibelli (Alberta Watson), a married, lonely woman, suffers a leg injury at home just as her husband is about to leave on his job as a travelling salesman and her son, Raymond (Jeremy Davies), is about to leave for the summer on a medical internship. Her son is forced to stay at home to take care of her as his father is gone.

This film is directed by David O. Russell who is known for Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, and shows us with his debut that he can still make very dark comedic films, though I can see how this was his first.

The film starts out with a lot of promise, right from the beginning. We get some good laughs here and there with a pretty believable character and story. The only problem is that out of nowhere the film turns into a nutty very unbelievable story.

I had plenty of problems with this film that kind of made this experience too hard to enjoy. First of all the main character is a guy we start out by having absolutely no idea of who he is. And by the way it looks I didn’t want to know, because he acted like such a nerdy dick throughout the whole movie. Also, his mom looked nothing like the age had her out to be. And every time they were on screen together, I couldn’t believe them two as a mother and son; probably more as a flirtatious couple, I know it was very weird as was this movie.

The film is disturbing at points and will actually make you cringe at the site of it cause there is an event that happens and the way it does is surely a sight to see, that’s if you can bear to actually watch.

Now I will say one thing about the film and that is Russell knows how to write a very catchy and witty film as he does with this. The film has rich dialogue that is darkly funny while on the other hand is dramatically serious, while still maintaining the right taste of humor.

The performances are also what did it for me. Jeremy Davies who you have probably seen before gives a good performance as this low-life, who really has no life and goes through some very tough transitions as an actor. Alberta Watson does an ok job as the mom but I still found her to be a bit contrived when it came to her being her.

Consensus: Spanking The Monkey has impressive performances and rich dialogue, but has so much promise and fails mostly due to its plot that gets turned into total craziness and disbelief.

5/10=Rental!!!!

Enemy of the State (1998)

Would this actually be happening in real life? Just putting it out there.

Hotshot Washington lawyer Robert Dean (Will Smith) becomes a victim of high-tech identity theft when a hacker slips an incriminating video into his pocket. Soon, a rogue National Security agent (Jon Voight) sets out to recover the tape — and destroy Dean.

If you love Tony Scott films that are just break-neck thrillers with no actual story, then this is a keeper. But if your like many others that think their mindless then this is not for you.

The one great thing about this film that actually helps it out is its crazy action. The scenes are filmed in such a rowdy but controlled way that everything that’s going on is fun and hectic but your actually understanding what is happening, which makes it more exciting.

I liked many of the high-tech stuff that was actually involved with its story and how it all seems believable. The atmosphere is created because he can’t escape the government and while watching it, you have a feeling you can’t either. Having a lot of these sateleitte dishes and cameras used made all the action, and the story a lot more interesting in how it all panned out.

The problem with the film is that its script is not very top-notch. There were plenty of times where the film could have really struck a nice cord with its talk, but doesn’t quite hit the mark with its scenes. Also, many of parts in this film were basically lifted scenes from The Conversation, also with Gene Hackman. I have only seen a little bit of that film I could already tell that the film had some big similarities to Enemy of the State.

The one saving grace as you would expect, is Will Smith. At times, he is so funny and cocky that its so easy to root for him, and to hope he comes out on top. The supporters who play the government do real well at what they do mostly comedians like Seth Green, Jack Black, and Jamie Kennedy, who all seem a bit miscast, but actually have some pretty good lines, even though we should hate them.

Consensus: Enemy of the State lacks in originality and a good script, but features a lot fun and exciting action, mostly lead by a charismatic performance from Smith.

7/10=Rental!!!!

Platoon (1986)

The Vietnam War really did make people go fucking crazy!

Helmed by Oliver Stone, this searing autobiographical drama chronicles the Vietnam experiences of naïve volunteer soldier Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), whose view of the conflict starts to change after witnessing murder and rape at the hands of his compatriots.

One of the first key claims of this film is that it is one of the first fictionalized story to tell the most true story about the war. Now Stone who dropped out of college to volunteer for the army, puts his own experiences into one hell of a film.

The reason why Platoon is so significant and great is because its one of the first to show the moral ambiguity that the average day soldier faced daily. You see how all these soldiers, full of pride, are trying to overcome the enemy as well as the others in their squad. It was great to see how all these soldiers talked with one another, and it kind of felt like a school in how you got to see all these characters interact with one another in such a small environment. Most of this is due to the great writing as usual from Stone.

Not only does Stone write this film wonderfully but he also does an outstanding job as director, thus proving why he is one of my favorites. The scenes that Stone choreographs are shot with such beauty and unpredictability that we don’t have a clue of who’s going to die, much like war in real life where you don’t know whats going to happen next. There is also one scene where we see a Vietnamese village get tortured and the way it is shown is so nerve-racking and disturbing that you can’t take your eyes off the screen at all. The film also showed a lot of the other stuff that soldiers had along with rapping of women, drug use, and of course fragging of other soldiers.

The one problem I had with this film isn’t such a problem the movie has, as much as its more of my problem. I mean all these things that Platoon has done with its characters and story, is something I’ have seen from plenty of other war films such as Saving Private Ryan, and Full Metal Jacket. Now I liked a lot of the battle scenes and how they were shot, but I still feel like none of them were as quite as match for Saving Private Ryan’s honestly.

Platoon has probably one of the best characters that I have seen in a war film to date. Mostly all of these characters in one way or another are likable, because you can relate to exactly what they do in situations cause you would do the same thing. Sheen probably gives one of his best performances in his career, cause they aren’t really many, and I actually get past his character from Tow and a Half Men and take him for what he is in this movie and not something totally humorous. The best performances from this film probably come from Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger, who both play two different sides of the war, Good & Bad. Berenger plays this hard-ass dick head cop that seems to always get everyone’s side, and Dafoe in his greatest role yet plays the total opposite as a smart, tough, and all around likable guy who you cheer for in every situation, mostly due to the way he handles his character especially when the most powerful scenes come on.

Consensus: Platoon is a powerful and effective film that shows the American Soldier fighting in The Vietnam War for what they are, backed by incredible performances from Berenger, Sheen, and mostly Dafoe, and because Stone has a wondeful knack for writing and directing especially when it comes to creating an emotion.

9.5/10=Full Price!!!

The Craft (1996)

God what a bunch of bitches, not witches.

Robin Tunney stars in this supernatural thriller as Sarah Bailey, a Catholic school newcomer who falls in with a clique of teen witches(Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Skeet Ulrich) who wield their powers against all who dare to cross them — be they teachers, rivals or meddlesome parents.

So basically this is a movie that shows a group of weirdo outsider chicks that deal with witchcraft and start messing with each other. Yeah, basically the whole plot right there.

All of the obvious and cliched ideas from every other high school film from the 90’s is here. The jock, weirdos, house parties, and of course the pretty girl. Sometimes I felt like I was just watching a really bad version of Clueless.

The film starts out a bit promising with some good dark comedy, but then transcends into some terrible writing and directing from Andrew Fleming. The movie has a lot of cheap and stale lines that make no sense and at times are just way too stupid to comprehend. The story by the end of the last act can’t even think of anything else to do so they just add in utterly stupid special effects. The scenes where their all chanting were actually kind of depressing because they were unhappy girls doing bad things, nothing fun there at all, and add on the horrible special effects just downright excruciating at times.

The only good thing in this film would have to be the performance from Fairuza Balk who is actually very creepy as the main witch person girl, or whatever you want to call her. She has plenty of scenes where she’s chanting and she just is very creepy and very believable as this demented chick. The other actresses aren’t really given anything else to work with other than state-of-the-art usual stereotypes that all these bad high-school films have.

Consensus: The Craft has an fresh performance from Balk, but the film can’t keep up with her due to the horrible amount of special effects, lackluster story, and no fun whatsoever with its writing.

2/10=SomeOleBullShit!!!!!!!

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