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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Good film, but to beat out Moulin Rogue! and Lord of the Rings for Best Picture, ehh, not so much.

John Forbes Nash Jr. (Russell Crowe) was a brilliant economist — when his mind was clear. But life changed forever with the revelation that he was schizophrenic, although his brilliance persisted amidst the anguish his mental illness caused for him and his wife (Jennifer Connelly).

The one thing that caught my eye of this film, was that it one Best Picture in 2001, when other great films such as Gosford Park, Lord of the Rings, In the Bedroom, and Moulin Rogue!, were all nominated. That is why some people hate the Oscars.

I can’t lie but this is a very good film, mostly cause of the direction from Ron Howard. It isn’t a biopic, its an original story mixed with some key elements of Nashs’ life. The way the film shows how he suffers from schizophrenia is neat in a way cause you sense a level of paranoia within yourself, and always wondering what is real or what isn’t real as did this film.

But not only did the film focus on the trauma he was having from this disease, the film also shows how his friends, and his family are all effected by it, and that’s where I think this film works the best at. Because you see how people interact with him before and after the schizophrenia, and you sense a total change by it. The film doesn’t go for the flim-famming of the illness, instead gets right inside this guys head.

However, these are the reasons why I think its a good film but not great. The chemistry between him and the character Jennifer Connelly played as his wife was non-existent, which I cannot buy: A woman would not stand by so selflessly with a paranoid schizophrenic without a deep rooted love and commitment to that love. The climax also features nothing new added to the story, and comes off as just anti-climactic, why?, I don’t even know myself. Finally, the film is focused largely around John Nash’s beautiful mind, and his remarkable accomplishments (which eventually won him the Nobel Prize), but the film does little to attempt to explore the ideas that John Nash developed, and that is perhaps the films biggest short-coming.

I do believe that the performances from Crowe and Connelly are good despite the story’s problem to make it any better. Crowe plays this character with such realism, and doesn’t depict him as being a total nut ball or anything, like we normally see, but instead he plays this character with his signature simplicity, and becomes John Nash. Also, Connelly does a very good job as well, and the scenes she has with Crowe, actually come off as almost better. I just wish she did more roles like this instead of movies like Dark Water.

Consensus: A Beautiful Mind is a good film, but not Best Picture good. Though it has great performances, and great direction from Howard, that balances the illness, and the family Nash was with.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

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Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

Ehh, sometimes period pieces aren’t the best.

Life hands Nicholas Nickleby (Charlie Hunnam) a difficult hand when his father dies and Nicholas, his sister and his mother, now penniless, are forced to seek help from his twisted Uncle Ralph (Christopher Plummer), who only wants to tear the family apart. Nathan Lane and Jim Broadbent also star.

The film is a drama at heart, but has little comedic undertones, which I for the most part, enjoyed. The comedy comes into work when the film is just looking grim, and at many times I’m glad they did this because the dark tone at points bothered me.

I mean its a light film, and its not offensive in any way, its just not entertaining enough. I mean it did move at a very slow-pace and at times things wouldn’t even happen that had to do with the story, it was just talking. There were a couple of scenes that actually grabbed my attention, but soon lost it after they started talking about God knows what.

I did like how the story developed over time. I thought it was a interesting story, that didn’t have huge twists, but it did have the nice fun feel. Its basically a fall-rise story, about this one person, but then we see that its about others, who in my opinion were more interesting than Nickleby himself.

In all honesty, I thought that Hunnam as Nickleby wasn’t very good to say the least. If anything I just thought he was cheesy, and could have been replaced by a far better actor. He is structured as this one-note character only showing little emotion, and usually that emotion is anger, and I couldn’t help but laugh all the times when he would make grand speeches, and try to be all scary his face would just light up, and it was too hard to take this guy seriosuly one bit. I did, however, like the ensemble supporting cast. Plummer plays a very evil man, and does it very well, without being a cliched villain, and by the end you sense some great tragedy with him, while Lane as usual is funny and nobody can stop him. Jamie Bell is also in this and you find yourself throughout the whole movie, cheering him on and hopefully overcome what is happening to him.

Consensus: Nicholas Nickleby has a nice supporting cast and a splendid story with good touches, but the at-time non interesting story moves at a slow-pace, and I couldn’t find any truth in liking Hunnam as Nickleby.

5/10=Rentall!!!

Absolute Power (1997)

What if I saw Obama getting bust too, I think I would be acting a little like Clint.

Cat burglar Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood) finds himself in the president’s doghouse when he spies the chief executive (Gene Hackman) trysting with a trophy wife. When their rough romancing turns lethal, efforts to cover up the scandalous situation spiral violently out of control. Now, Luther must survive a desperate pursuit from the back streets of the nation’s capital to the halls of power.

I can’t lie when I say this, but Eastwood is one of the better actor turned directors, in the history of film. I mean he does make a film almost every year, but still he makes films that are entertaining enough, to where you aren’t bored with his films. This one here is no different.

While Absolute Power isn’t a particularly great thriller, it still was rather entertaining in a quiet sort of way. Maybe that was the problem, Eastwood’s little thriller about political abuse was more about Eastwood’s relationship with his estranged daughter, played professionally by Laura Linney, than about anything really exciting or original. If the film was just about the reconciliation of father and daughter, it might have worked more for me.

Also, the fact of a standing president being almost directly involved with a murder of a well known wife of the philanthropist that put him in office, all feels a little implausible and Eastwood just could not quite make it plausible.

The emotional stuff worked so well here it was hard to see it get tonned down, by the kind of unbelievable plot. It moves slow and at times, the film doesn’t quite focus on the main plot at hand, but overall the film sort of still works. I mean the things that really work, as I mentioned before, is that the film has a lot of good screen time dedicated to its characters. I thought it was cool to see how all these different people interacted with each other, and the believable dialogue that followed their conversations. The suspense does build up to the end, even though there is a pretty shallow ending.

Eastwood’s role here is still one of the highlights of the movie, cause he isn’t what you would expect from good ole’ Clint. He isn’t a grumpy-gilled, old man, instead he is very smart, and still has a lot of things in his life that he wishes he would have changed, and you can see that in his performance. The others in the cast are good to like Ed Harris playing his usual bad-ass self, and Laura Linney surprisingly bringing a lot of emotion to her character that I wasn’t expecting, but the big disappointment in this movie was Gene Hackman. I reviewed Welcome to Mooseport awhile back, and that film had Hackman playing the president, but it was a good performance, and it seemed like he had a lot of fun with it. Here, his screen-time was taken down, and his performance was too one-note. We only saw this president that was an asshole, and why would we ever want him nominated in the first place.

Consensus: Though it isn’t Eastwood’s best mostly due to its unbelievable story, Absolute Power still has great moments of emotion, suspense that works, and good performances, despite a disappointing Hackman performance.

6/10=Rental!!!!

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996)

Don’t watch this movie if you need relationship advice, actually don’t watch it at all.

Big-time player and club promoter Darnell (Martin Lawrence) does a double-take when a sophisticated beauty named Brandi (Lynn Whitfield) catches his eye at the club. But as he tries to win her over, the prize is far from what he expected. When Darnell decides he’d rather be with an old friend (Regina King), Brandi won’t take the hint — she’s ready to get even.

Being a Martin Lawrence comedy, I was expecting side-splitting, rolling on the floor laughter, but in the end it didn’t even get a giggle out of me. I tried to like this movie, but I couldn’t. It’s just a dry and humorless comedy.

Now Lawrence directs, writes, and produces this film and shows that sometimes, this is the reason why actros should stay on-screen instead of behind it. Somewhere in this film, is an actually interesting premise about how this one playboy deserves this Fatal Attraction treatment because of the way he treats women, but is narrowed down by stupid supporting casts spots, and unneccessary sex jokes.

I mean in all honesty I didn’t know if this film was supposed to be so funny, cause the film doesn’t have any good jokes here, and by the end of the film it actually starts to turn into a serious thing. I mean this man is almost killed, how is that funny?

I mean I’ll give Lawrence the shadow of the doubt because he does give the usual funny, charm that he always does so well in all of his films. But his hamming it up for the camera seems unwanted since the film can’t even take that humorously, too. Lynn Whitfield’s role in the movie as a woman who goes berserk after being treated like dirt is excellent, I actually believed her.

Consensus: There in no thin line here when it comes to witty dialogue, and funny jokes, since there is none of that in this boring, supposed comedy.

1/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

If you meet a guy named this, stay the hell away!

Charming sociopath Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) maneuvers his way into the lush life of a young heir (Jude Law) vacationing in Italy in this increasingly creepy thriller from Anthony Minghella (The English Patient), based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith.

The film at first sight, doesn’t seem like it could be what it becomes. It’s nice, sound, and also charming with plenty elements of little comedy here and there, but soon turns into something like no other.

Probably in the first hour, the film’s deciding factor already occurs. However, instead of ending on a note like they could have the film continues and gets more into the mind of this very interesting man, Mr. Tom Ripley. The one element I liked of this film was that it was all shot in mostly his point-of-view. We see everything his way, and we get a sense early of who this quiet, awkward man actually is.

I have to praise the writing and direction credit from Anthony Minghella. He uses such a great way of film-making by building up the suspense as the film goes on. There are slight moments of creepiness, but never too out-of-hand until the third and last act.  You feel like everything in this film is just going to explode, but using slight Hitchcock pointers of suspense, we are left on the edge of our seat because of the unpredictable of the film and its characters. We see the reason as to why this Tom Ripley wants to be somebody else, and why it is his dream and infatuation, of being another person. I especially liked how by the end of the film, Ripley had to come up with things off the top of his head to get him out of certain situations, which dug him deeper and deeper into more and more chaos among the people he knew. Also, I shouldn’t forget to mention the setting, in Italy. The places the film are set in make the film look better, cause of the bright colors you get this sense of good and love, but the story contradicts this beautiful, loving place, with horror.

I will say that this film did have a couple of flaws that did bother me a bit. I feel like when Jude Law’s character, Dickie, left the film by the end of the second act, the latter part isn’t the same. I was still entertained don’t get me wrong here, I just wasn’t as taken back by the characters relationship as I was with the first two acts. Also, the character of Meredith (Cate Blanchett), and her obsession with Ripley, seemed a bit too unbelievable and underused to a point where the last confrontation was awkward and meaningless. And I can’t recommend this for everyone cause it certainly it certainly isn’t a film you and your family, or bunch of friends can enjoy.

Matt Damon is great and equally as creepy in this film, and proves at an early age he can turn in great performances. Damon, is scary, but also tragic, cause he is a kid that would rather be somebody else and famous for it, than just a random nobody. He makes a total transition half-way through the movie, from awkward quite kid, to charming, talkative two guys, and its all believable. The best performance in the film that is actually the highlight, is Jude Law, because he is so funny, charming, and energetic that when he leaves the film mid-way through we miss his presence and what him back on. Also, Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Seymour Hoffman appear and make some good supporting jobs here too.

Consensus: It’s not for everyone, but The Talented Mr. Ripley, has wonderful performances from the cast, a creepy atmosphere that climbs every minute, and a wonderful job of writing and directing from Minghella.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)

I don’t even think I could do what he’s thinking.

When easy-on-the-eyes Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett) is dumped by his girlfriend, he swears off all sex for Lent, which lasts 40 days and 40 nights. But his abstinence is tested when he meets beautiful and sexy Erica Sutton (Shannyn Sossamon). Feeling like he’s doomed if he doesn’t stick to his plan, he struggles to resist the girl of his dreams.

I remember seeing this when I was back in like 6th grade, and I thought to myself “WOW, this so funny, and dirty its one of my favorites”. I thought about that same thing with Saving Silverman, except that one holds up more with me today.

The film isn’t bad and the laughs are delivered up to the point that Matt is raped by his ex-girlfriend. A point which is quickly glossed over and played off as humorous by the film. From then on it is hard to have anything but contempt for this film, the actors who contributed, or anyone else involved. Were the roles reversed and woman raped the outcry would have been tremendous. As it is, there is barely a peep.

There was so much with this premise that could have been hilarious and taken you right out of your seat. Instead, they go for the over-sexed jokes. I liked where they were going about this sex in the meaning of life, but the film takes that meaningful idea down, with sex jokes that are too over played.

I think Josh Hartnett is OK in this film, and although he does got the charm the film promises, I just didn’t see him being anything more than just a wild, and crazy sex addict. I wanted to like him more, but the transition his character went through was as much as low-level, to highly new nice dude. The most interesting people and performances from the cast was his co-workers who had a pool on him, and I found some of their scenes to be funny, if way too random.

Consensus: 40 Days and 40 Nights has an interesting premise with some nice thoughts about sex, but are taken down by too much sex jokes that don’t work or just so grotesque, and a lead character that barely transforms his personality.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

The Sixth Sense (1999)

A movie that everyone knows the ending too.

When young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) inexplicably starts seeing dead people, he lands in the care of child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who is determined to uncover the truth behind Cole’s remarkable paranormal abilities.

The film is known for being M. Night Shyamalan’s breakthrough film. I mean it contains all his creepy atmosphere tricks, unexplained events, and out-of-this world twist ending. And the one thing that really pisses me off about this movie, and its legacy in today’s world is that it is only remembered for its twist ending. Because there is so much more to this movie than just an ending.

Shyamalan’s style and ambition is what makes this movie so great. He combines the essence of creepy psychological thriller, with some supernatural horror to create a atmosphere of unknowing and just overall creepiness. The film doesn’t use any CGI/special effects hocus pocus tricks, instead shows these ghosts in real life form. The cinematography is great, because of the way it moves around from one place to another, without losing sight of the action. Things come by unexplained but they catch your eye for a second, just so you don’t take your eye off the screen.

The writing is superb because its not only a ghost story, in the style of an old Hollywood picture but also it touches on some great character moments between all these people. By the end of the film, there are actually some resolutions these people have with each other and it actually may bring a tear to your eye every once and awhile, I know it almost did for me. Oh, and how can I not mention the ending? Yes, it is one of the greatest endings, if not greatest twist endings to any film, but if you haven’t seen it now, check it out!

The score is minimal, almost a little too underplayed. It works well in the first section but when it comes to the shocks it becomes any generic strings scrape from a slasher movie. This, however, shifts back as the shocks subside to something more touching. The music hits the perfect note during a scene where Cole’s mother stands in front of a set of pictures which show him with ectoplasmic entities beside him everywhere he goes. It is apparent that these are ghosts. But it almost feels more than ghosts, something about the music and image reminds me of the speech about god always being by us.

Bruce Willis is great in this very quiet, subtle role mostly because his acting style is so straight-forward and seems actually realistic when he’s talking normal, and not breaking out crazy action one-liners. Haley Joel Osment gives one of the best performances from a youg kid because in most films with a young actor, the film just calls for a couple of good reactions hots to show terror on his face. When instead with this film, he has realistically talk to Willis, and the scenes with them two are some of the best on-screen. Also, it would be wrong not to mention Toni Colletta who plays Osmen’ts mom, lalso has great moments where she shows the right emotion at especially the right time.

Consensus: The Sixth Sense features all the wonderful trademarks in M. Night Shyamalan’s films, especially his great writing, effective use of camera and feeling, and powerful performances from the cast, with also a crazy twist ending.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!!!!

Fearless (1993)

I would become a bit fearless too if I was Jeff Bridges, now that his ass finally won that Oscar.

San Francisco architect Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) miraculously survives a plane crash and emerges a changed man. When Max’s bizarre behavior alienates his wife (Isabella Rossellini) and son, airline psychiatrist Bill Perlman (John Turturro) puts Max in touch with guilt-ridden fellow crash survivor Carla Rodrigo (Rosie Perez), who lost her 2-year-old in the disaster. Working together, can Max and Carla find their way back to emotional equilibrium?

I couldn’t believe how much praise this film has gotten for its portrayal of life and death. I mean this person thinks that he can not at all be harmed or killed in any way, so he just does stupid stuff to see if he can die. I honestly felt like that is such a stupid way to try to show how life shouldn’t be taken for granted.

A bunch of self absorbed a-holes. Oh I had a life changing experience and no one can understand me now. I’m special, blah, blah, blah. What a bunch of crap. Just watching this made me furious at how stupid and self-important people can be.

I did like how this film portrayed the plane crash scenes. They seemed so real where people are in such terror and panic, that they also try to restore calmness and order. Some of the scenes are shot so well, that it was hard to hate the scenes, but still there wasn’t enough of it.

I’ll give it to Bridges who does give a good performance here, its just that I don’t believe its one of his best, mostly due to the fact, that his character is such a d-bag. I feel like if his character changed for the better after the crash we would have been able to cheer for him more and more and like him, but I just kept disliking him more as the film went on. Rosie Perez surprisingly is great here, and doesn’t play that female character that is just used for a romantic love story, instead used for actual insight on a hurt female soul.

Consensus: Fearless boasts good performances, but is way too self-centered with its unlikable main character, and writing is used for trying to be spiritual, but instead comes off as stupid.

2.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!!

Brothers (2009)

I sware if my brother ever did this, his ass would be grass.

When severely traumatized Capt. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) returns home alive from a military mission in Afghanistan after he was presumed dead, he learns that his brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), has gotten dangerously close to his grieving wife, Grace (Natalie Portman), and his kids.

The one thing to note about this film is that the trailer is totally misleading. You think the movie is just about this soldier that dies, and the soldiers brother and his wife have a so-called “affair”, then he comes back and all hell breaks loose. Well that is kind of it, but its also more about the post-dramatic stress war has on some people.

The film is a character study of these three peeps, directed by Jim Sheridan, who has directed Daniel Day-Lewis films, My Left Foot, and The Boxer, while also randomly directing 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. He directs this film with little indie motives, but focuses the film more on the relationship all these people have with each other. I feel like the film got a little too depressing at points, which also added to the very slow pace, that at times felt excruciating. Though, when Maguire comes back from supposed “death” the scenes with him are so uncomfortable and tense that it adds a lot to the film.

The writing in this movie is so-so, mostly because of the way it was structured. I feel like the film started becoming over dramatic almost every scene after another. Also, it happens too fast. We never really get to see these two brothers to actually interact with one another to get a full sense of their relationship and who they are to each other. When Maguire comes back and accuses them of cheating on one another, not once does any of them say “No. We did not have sex”. Instead, they just choose to sit back and let him go crazy, even while he’s wielding around a gun.

The saving grace of this film has to go out to the performances from the cast. I think Gyllenhaal did a good job here, cause he wasn’t trying to be one of those ultimately charming performances that you don’t believe, but instead he plays a character that you can actually believe with still enough charm. Natalie Portman was disappointing as Grace, and I think she just looks way too much like a baby sitter, than a grieving, war soldier mom. She looked too good, and her emotions just didn’t seem genuine enough. The best thing about this movie is mostly because of Tobey Maguire. I mean he has been type casted as Peter Parker for so long, its actually refreshing to see him let out his skills, and let me tell you one thing, he does. When he leaves for war, he is as sweet as Peter Parker, but when he comes back, he is as sweet as Peter Parker when he had that black stuff all over him, and a lot skinnier. He is amazing, riveting, and overall believable, causing one of the biggest freak-outs in all of cinema history.

Consensus: Brothers has a terrific performance from Maguire and a riveting story at points, but doesn’t convey enough of emotions it could have, an unreliable trailer, and a direction that at times felt inspired, and also messy.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

I don’t care what you people say, I FREAKIN’ LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!

Satine (Nicole Kidman), the star of the Moulin Rouge and the city’s most famous courtesan, is caught between the love of a young writer and another man’s obsession. Christian (Ewan McGregor) is a writer who finds himself plunged into this decadent world where anything goes – except falling in love.

When it comes to some of the greatest musicals of all-time, I think this would have a nice spot on my list.

I love this movie just because of how it is, without being anything else. Director Baz Luhrmann is the real star of this movie because he doesn’t follow all these other musicals that are known. He uses licensed songs such as “Like A Virgin”, “Heroes”, and “Your Song”. The film isn’t afraid to be silly when it needs to but its not all the fun that gets this film really at me, its more about the true story of love. The film is so original with everything it does, because it doesn’t play by the same rules all other musicals do, it basically is laying down the ground that this is what film should be: fun. It has a plot from 1400s operas, look from 1950s broadway productions, and it has a visual style from current music videos.

The film obviously takes some notes from Romeo & Juliet (Luhrmann directed that back in 1996), because this is also about forbidden love, but is also about the joys and also the tragic heart-breaks that love can effect you with.

I have to mostly credit the way this film looks cause this world that they live in, is very unrealistic, but it seems all too much fun. I actually wanted to go there and live in this place as this film was going on. The set designs look so lavish, with all the beautiful colors and costumes coming right at you, bringing this whole world of fun, love, and heart break to glorious life.

The songs are what makes this film great, because as I mentioned before, its licensed songs. The songs that they choose for these particular moments in the film, work so well, and actually seem like they could be real songs that these people were actually singing. They combine a lot of different variety of music, like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Roxanne” but most of it all works so well here.

The performances from this whole cast are just stunning, cause not only is it their real acting that’s good, but all of them can basically sing. McGregor plays his lead character with so much charm, but yet so much unknowings about love, and thats why it makes him a great protagonist to cheer for. The real show here is Kidman who is just a total knock-out with her performance. She plays this character with so much beauty, charisma, and also tragedy without once hamming it up for the camera. The way the two interact with each other on-screen seems so real and genuine that its hard not to want these two together in the end. If anything the only problem I had with this film was that its main villain played by Richard Roxburgh seemed too cartoonish at points, and I couldn’t take him seriously as a bad guy.

Consensus: Moulin Rouge! is a musical that is fun, energetic, and so original with an inspired direction from Luhrmann, beautiful performances from McGregor and Kidman, and great look, feel, and sound that its hard not to love this film and hail it as one f the all-time best.

10/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Reversal of Fortune (1990)

Those damn Germans, always causing trouble.

The enigmatic Claus von Bülow (Jeremy Irons) stands accused of putting his wife, Sunny (Glenn Close), into a perpetual coma with an insulin overdose. Claus hires hard-charging attorney Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver), who scrambles to defend his client — with help from some impassioned Harvard law students — while Sunny narrates flashbacks that shed light on the events that lead to her condition.

The whole film has a plot line that seems it should almost be a tragic drama. However, it combines that weird element of satire and docudrama. I mean its a weird combination, that at some points doesn’t quite work out the best in ways, but still is entertaining.

The praise of this film goes to Director Barbet Schroeder who makes this film a lot of different things, but mostly all just effective. He has this story told with so many flashbacks, and doesn’t leave out a detail that we feel as most that we are the lawyers in this film as well. The movie remains all ambiguous about what actually happened to Sunny, but we still get this feeling as to nothing is right.

I also enjoyed how many courtroom dramas that we know, like A Time To Kill and Primal Fear, all end up in the big courtroom scene, where as this is more about what goes on outside of the courtroom. We see all of the prepping, investigating, and questioning that goes into these cases, and it actually surprises me onto how much the lawyers themselves create so many stories, just to find out the truth.

However, I did have many multiple problems with this film. These “cutesy” students with their quips and their basketball and their sitting crossed-legged on coffee tables were annoying. Even Silver/Dershowitz was irritating with his persistent agonizing and flittering. Also, throughout this film the speed actually sped up, and I was more taken into this film. Then surprisingly, it got slower, and slower, without any real pace at all.

I have to give the most praise to Jeremy Irons, who actually did deserve that Oscar he was given. Although, I think Costner still gave almost a better performance with his material, Irons plays this character with such simplicity and realism, that its actually hard to tell on whether or not he actually did it. You want to hate this guy, cause of the way of his lifestyle, but yet he is so charming and cool that you actually want to be like him in a way. I think a nomination for Best Supporting Actress should have been given to Close, cause with the very few scenes she gets she actually brings out a lot of emotion, that actually has us caring for her character.

Consensus: Though its pace is all over the place and story is bit off setting, this strange film does well with its direction from Schroeder, wonderful writing, and most of all powerful performances from Irons and Close.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Training Day (2001)

Just when you thought Denzel couldn’t get any crazier.

Staying on the right side of the law will be more challenging than anything rookie cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) has ever faced — especially since Hoyt’s partner (Denzel Washington) for the next 24 hours is meaner than L.A.’s meanest streets.

To call this film completley out of hand would be an under statement. Basically these two cops do more shit in a day then some cops have done in their entire careers. Such as: drug busts, beat up rapists, steal drug money, oh and of course, gettin high. I mean if the point of this film is to go over the top, then that’s fine, cause it does seem like that’s what it wants to do. I just feel like there are points when the film tries so hard to be serious, the most troubling part about it is taking it as a dark comedy.

I have to give some props to director Antoine Fuqua, who surprisingly gives a lot of energy into this film so it can be what it is. I mean his signature grittiness works so well in this film mostly because it feels like this place is corrupt and terrible to live in, or even be around.

Most of the reason this film worked out so well was because of its main star, and that is none other than the craziest mothafucka in the whole land, Denzel Washington. Denzel plays against the usual heroic role he always plays, and instead goes with the out-of-control, sleazy, but at the same time riveting, and completley likable Alonzo Harris. I mean to say this is good would be giving him no credit, cause there are just parts in this film that would not work if it wasn’t for his amazing signature charm that he uses so well. With this Oscar-winning performance Denzel basically shows why he is one of the best actors in showbiz today. Also, it would be a crime (no pun intended) to not mention Ethan Hawke, who is very wispy-wispy with his character, but still is not one-note. You can see he wants to do the right thing, but just doesn’t know how to against this crazy cop.

I felt like the script could have been a lot better especially towards the end. The whole film was a crime thriller, where the ending started to turn into something else. The dialogue through the whole movie is witty, fresh, and also realistic, but doesn’t convey any real emotion into what these people are feeling. The ending also ruined it for me, mostly because what could have been effective and great, turns out to be a complete bummer.

Consensus: Training Day has a completley out-of-hand story with a bad ending, but features a great direction from Fuqua, and terrific performances from Hawke and most of Denzel, who proves why he is the man.

8/10=Matinee!!!!

Leaves of Grass (2010)

Edward Norton finally returns, and has it been too long!

Edward Norton does double duty in this quirky tale about a respected Ivy League professor who’s lured back to Oklahoma to help his equally brilliant twin brother — who grows the world’s finest hydroponic marijuana — best a big-time pot pusher (Richard Dreyfuss).

I have wanted to see this film for a long time now mostly cause of the reason I love Norton. But in all honesty, that’s not the only reason to see this movie.

The film has a look right from the start of The Coen Brothers. It starts out very funny with little bits and wist of humor that work, but all of a sudden turn into some really dark material, also highly violent in ways too. The film was written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, who co stars in the film as one of Brady’s friends, and writes this film as if he just took a class from the Coens, mostly due to both of his stages of writing (comedy, and drama) working both effectively.

Most of the praise for this film has to go out to Edward Norton who basically shows the main reason why he is put in films today. He is so good at playing these two brothers, and is especially great at playing the kooky one mostly cause he has never done anything like that ever before. He is given a real chance to shine, and takes advantage of it real well. Also, the little romance between him and Keri Russell is very interesting, because their chemistry is also something good to watch as well.

The only complaints I had was that I felt like their was too much stereotypes of these Southerners. I feel like the film could have been way smarter than just showing the southerners as the redneck, weed-smoking, beer drinking, fools that we always see in film. Also, the ending does feel a bit too contrived and could have been used way better, than trying to connect to its beginning, although it does seem to come a bit full circle.

Consensus: Leaves of Grass isn’t for everyone, with its surprising violence that comes into play, but features a great screenplay from Blake Nelson, and gives a wonderful dual performance from Norton.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)

I was a disappointment to see no naked guns at all.

When the incredibly thick Officer Frank Drevin (Leslie Nielsen) seeks the ruthless killer of his partner (O.J. Simpson), he stumbles and pratfalls on a plot to off Queen Elizabeth. Priscilla Presley plays his equally dim love interest with the same hilarious dumb luck.

The film is from the same fellows who brought us the hilarious Airplane!, and Top Secret!, two of my favorites. And this time around is poking fun at the James Bond films.

I can’t really make a serious review of this movie, since basically the film itself is a joke. I mean the plot is a meaningless reason just to feature numerous amounts of slight gags, and and slapstick, and it all works.

The writing in this film is top-notched mostly because it never stops being funny. I mean there are slight gags that come at you, that you actually miss upon first view. Then you see it again and you notice its hilarious. I can say that you have to have a mind of a 5th grader to really laugh out loud at this material, but for the 89 minutes I felt completely like a 5th grader and I didn’t mind at all.

The only problem I had with this film was that it wasn’t as funny as the two other that I already mentioned. Top Secret! is probably one of my favorites from this crew, mostly because it always funny, every moment of the way. With this one the jokes are funny, but there are some dry spots where I think the comedy could have been a lot better.

Leslie Nielsen embodies this dead-pan character that is sometimes so stupid its hard to believe that he can actually get himself out of some of the situations that he does. He delivers the jokes as it was his actual real-self with all the jokes, and everything else to it.

Consensus: The Naked Gun isn’t as good as Airplane! or Top Secret!, but is still hilarious, with all of its chock full of gags and slapstick you can’t help but to laugh.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!!

In the Cut (2003)

Sometimes sex is so crazy.

Frannie (Meg Ryan) is a New York writing professor entwined in an erotic affair with a police detective (Mark Ruffalo) who’s investigating the murder of a young woman in Frannie’s neighborhood. But soon Frannie begins to suspect her lover’s involvement in the crime.

Most of this film gets a lot of attention for its first unveiling of Meg Ryan being nude, when really that’s not all that’s in this film.

This is directed by Jane Campion who is most known for The Piano, and can direct highly charged stuff like this. The complaint is that when it comes to directing the mystery and the slasher killings the film doesn’t quite all add up. I think by the last act the film starts to collapse with the mystery showcases, and came out as obvious when the ending happened.

Other than the murder mystery almost everything else works so well. The whole style of this film is just extravagant and beautiful to look at. There are a couple of sex scenes, that actually look better just because of the way the film shows it to be. Its more than just a sexual experience its more of an provocative love obsession that this character actually goes through.

Meg Ryan is also the main reason to see the film cause she is not just playing against the lovable sweet heart, we always know her as, but instead she plays this woman who becomes obsessed with sex. And the thing about this performance too is that she actually is quite convincing as this good girl gone bad, and surprisingly turns out an Oscar-nominating performance in my opinion. Mark Ruffalo plays against type here and also shows that he is an actor playing a person were not so sure of is what we see, but is still all the same way compelling. The scenes with Ryan and Jennifer Jason Leigh seem so real and actually convincing that it made the film outside of the murder mystery even better to watch. Also with Ryan and Ruffalo, you can see there actually is a lot of love between these two.

Consensus: In the Cut fails at being a thriller, but has great style from the forceful direction of Jane Campion, and powerful performances that all play against type, mostly Ruffalo and Ryan.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Broken Arrow (1996)

Well, lets just say that this wasn’t such a good pair.

When rogue stealth-fighter pilot Vic Deakins (John Travolta) deliberately drops off the radar while on maneuvers, the Air Force ends up with two stolen nuclear warheads — and Deakins’s co-pilot, Riley Hale (Christian Slater), is the military’s only hope for getting them back. Traversing the deserted canyons of Utah, Hale teams with park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis) to put Deakins back in his box. But can they pull it off?

Much of teh film actually starts out promising. There is enough fun, excitement, and cheesy lines to take up enough of my mind. However, the plot quickly degenerates into an “Indiana Jones” series of stunts and death defying escapes and near misses.

The film goes on way too long. I feel like the way the film turned out to be was just one long special effect after another. I mean the film is fun for a little while, but it just moves on to a point where its almost just every single action film that you have ever seen before, except a lot more explosions.

With a respectable premise, I expected a lot more of this movie. Either a real thriller or a Bond-like joy ride. But it’s neither. I’m usually willing to suspend disbelief and let a few inconsistencies go by, but this starts out bad and gets worse. Park ranger sees military plane crash, finds pilot, pulls gun on pilot. Yeah, right. Bad guys escape, military can only field one helicopter to chase. Sure. Sure dumb.

Travolta does try his hardest to place this sinister bad guy, but the thing is that it really doesn’t work, mostly cause he’s too much of a nice guy. I mean to see him have a lot of charm, which he does, is good, but to just call him a villain cause he does bad stuff to people, doesn’t make him anymore bad than you or me. Slater, ehhhh, I don’t know what he was doing here. I think he was just phoning the whole performance mostly because he just wanted the big paycheck, which sadly, he would get.

Consensus: Broken Arrow starts out with a promising premise, but soon delves into totally unrealistic material, much too long of a film with bad action sequences, and cheesy performances from Slater and Travolta.

1/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)

In honor of Saints Patrick’s day, its time for everybody’s favorite murdering Irish brothers.

Skillfully framed by an unknown enemy for the murder of a priest, wanted vigilante MacManus brothers Murphy (Norman Reedus) and Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) must come out of hiding on a sheep farm in Ireland to fight for justice in Boston. Joining them in writer-director Troy Duffy’s long-awaited sequel is Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.).

For basically every human that has seen The Boondock Saints, almost everyone has said its great. Why? It just is, and honestly it is too hard to explain. But can it live up?

The thing with the original Boondock Saints is that it had a certain style that was a mixture between Quentin Tarantino with the witty dialogue and jokes, while also containing the great blow-em-up action sequences from the likes of John Woo. However, all that charm seems to relies more on the latter part. I will say some of the jokes in this movie will have you laughing, cause it certainly did to me, but the first one had a more sneakier approach to its jokes and wit, while this one seems more obvious with its jokes. It just didn’t seemed like a lot of the sex jokes they had fit real well, if at all.

However, the film did have some good elements to the film. Unlike the first, this film actually realizes that its not anything other than a B-grade action film, and not trying to bring up some hidden messages about crime and murder. Also, the action is insane. There is so much more blowing up, shooting, and just an overall driving force that you always look forward to seeing.

But does the film live up to its predecessor? I can’t quite say I actually can. I’m glad that the original director Troy Duffy came back to do this film as well, I just don’t think his mind was in the right place here. He had a certain style in the first one that was so intriguing that it was hard not to enjoy, but I think he was trying to hard to get some mainstream buzz with this one, it just didn’t feel like it had the heart like the first. However, I will say that I think his writing is in the right place with the balancing of comedy and action.

The performances here are like the first one, as in OK. Flanery and Reedus are a lot more experienced with their abilities this time around and actually bring out a lot more into their characters than the first time around. If there is one character in here that left me scratching my head, its Julie Benz as FBI Agent Eunice Bloom. (Replacing Willem Dafoe) Sporting red hair, high heels, and one of the fakest Southern accents in film history, she’s one of the most over-the-top characters ever. That’s a lot to say considering Willem Dafoe was a gay FBI agent who likes to dance to opera music in crime scenes. Benz also recreates the crime scenes like Willem Dafoe but in one instance, she’s in a cowgirl outfit dancing around like she’s a stripper. It made me realize how much I actually missed Dafoe. The Saints’ sidekick, Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.), is one of the funniest characters of the year and the film lights up every time he’s on screen.

I mean if you didn’t like the first one, you definably won’t even be able to bear this one. However, there is an ending in this one that makes one of those endings like “to be continued….” and I hope they go in that direction, cause I’m ready. Here’s to another!!

Consensus: Not as much charm and style like the first, but enough action, humor, and spirit to be a very well-deserved sequel for all of the Boondock Saints lovers out there.

8/10=Matinee!!!!!!

Paranoid Park (2008)

A film that had me going paranoid.

Late one night in a Portland skate park, 16-year-old Alex (Gabe Nevins) accidentally kills a security guard and chooses to keep it a secret. But guilt begins to take its toll on his relationships with his friend Macy (Lauren McKinney), his girlfriend (Taylor Momsen) and eventually his sanity.

Gus Van Sant has directed mainstream films like Good Will Hunting, and Finding Forrster, and has found some success with that. Now he focuses on the really indie films.

This film has a lot of Van Sants trademarks. The stylized scenes, grittiness, minimal dialogue, non-actors, and of course the coming-0f-age films that always are the main theme in his films. Paranoid Park isn’t any different there is a lot of style and ofr the most part it adds a lot of effect of what the character himself is feeling, but there is just too much. There is just too much of this extra long crap that just adds on to it, being a bit too boring. The feeling of being alone does connect, but way too many times is there just one slow-mo scene of him taking a shower or staring into space. The film actually had a right amount of material for probably 50 minutes, but the extra material just seemed padded on.

I also felt like Van Sant uses the same kind of story I have seen time and time again, about how these reckless kids, do nothing but trouble, and none of their parents are involved what so ever. But I also, have to credit his direction because I feel like the film gets enough of that tragic emotion mostly from him. He has enough of that dreadful music and scenes, to keep us at a loss like the main character I just wish he didn’t make it so slow. The slow-pace after awhile will tired you to death and although at times it feels needed, overall it just adds on more strain.

The acting here is OK to say the least, since half of them are non-professionals, and auditioned from Myspace. The lead Gabe Nevins does good with this material because there isn’t a lot to give him other than some pretty raw scenes, and he handles them pretty nicely. The other people in this film are just dull and play out a lot like the typical stereotypes of teens that you always see.

Consensus: Though with the right direction and mood, Paranoid Park succeeds at a technical level, but is overall dull and gloomy, with too much style for one little movie, that could have been better.

5/10=Rental!!!!

The Last Detail (1974)

Ehh, kind of disapointing

Officers Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and Mulhall (Otis Young) must escort a young sailor (Randy Quaid) to a New England military prison, where the 18-year-old is about to serve eight years for a trivial offense. Determined to cram all the living they can into one lost weekend, the boys booze, brawl and fornicate their way to their ultimate destination.

The film has a simple premise and with the direction from Hal Ashby how could you not have a winner here. Well………

First of all, the film starts out very slow, and with an occasional fast jumps in between the story, never fully gets off the ground. I mean it would have been fine that it was slow, if the characters were more developed, but they weren’t. I felt like it was just a movie where you watch a bunch of guys hang out but never change.

That is where the film takes its one problem cause the ending happens, and then your just left with this feeling, of “OK then, where’s One Flew?”. In ways that statement is terrible, but also in ways it can be true. I just think the fact that the ending is a little depressing, even though there is a little Nicholson freak-out, it never fully gets you touched enough.

But the movie had its good things especially with the combination of the direction from Ashby, and the screenplay written by Robert Towne. I mean the film wasn’t as funny as I was expecting it to be, but there are some good funny moments, and the dialogue does feel real and it does reflect well on life, and how these guys look at theirs. Ashby also directs this the way you would want it, three dudes + one trip = bro fest. I mean it was cool to hang out with these guys cause it did look like they had some good times, and some incredibly depressing times.

The main reason to see this film is the performances from the trio of leads. Nicholson, as usual, is very good cause not only does he show that charm he had early in his career, but also the crazy attitude of a ruthless S.O.B. Also, Quaid is really good here as the most effective character in the film, who you really feel bad for, cause he is such a stupid kid, but at the same time, hes unpredictable. Also, it was good to see Otis Young at work, playing that black man with soul, what he’s best at.

Consensus: The Last Detail is kind of disappointment because of the way it treats its characters and the surprisingly sad moments, but has a fun direction mixed with great screenplay, and very good performances, mostly from Jackie.

6.5/10=Rental!!!

Dances with Wolves (1990)

They usually call me this on Saturday nights, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Wounded Civil War soldier John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) tries to commit suicide — and becomes a hero instead. As a reward, he’s assigned to his dream post, a remote junction on the Western frontier, and soon makes unlikely friends with the local Sioux tribe.

Basically this film has always been on mind, and for the reason because it beat out Goodfellas for the 1990 Best picture Oscar. However, I can’t say that it wasn’t a close fight.

While watching this film I found myself entranced with emotions I always feel when watching movies, utter beauty and emotional. The film is not just an Epic Western of this mans survival and communication with the Natives, but also has a great message about the relation between two different cultures, as in the white man and the Native.

The film is not only starring Costner but it is his directorial debut, and what a debut it is. Costner knows exactly how to film this movie with all his knowledge of this tribe the film is less and less stereotypical. In films we usually see the Natives talking like “how” and thats all they say, but Costner basically makes half of the film is in the Lakota language, and is all subtitled. He take a lot of drastic and daring steps here to make this film amazing and I can say that he succeeds. The film treats its subject with generosity and makes these Indians seem more than what we see from any other movie of this subject.

The film also has some of the best looking territory ever as well. There are images and sights in this film that are just great. This setting of 1860s rural South is just beautiful because of the way its filmed, and the most simplist of scenes, look even better cause of the setting. Also, the little things such as the score is just so enchanting that the emotions that come out of this music makes you feel it even more.

The film does have its problems though, that can be pointed out. It is a Western but doesn’t add anything new to the genre other than the fact it is just features less action and gun fights. Also, the film categorizes the broadly villainous Union soldier characters, which in my mind wasn’t very original. And in a film that seemed so touching about who’s right and who’s wrong.

The acting here is what makes this film utterly phenomenal. Costner anchors this film, and when for the most part its only him on-screen he is so believable and so great to watch that I couldn’t see anybody else playing this role. Almost everybody in this film gives a great performance but the side performances from two special ones are the best and anchor the film. Mary McDonnell plays the only other white person in the tribe, and hasn’t spoken English in about 15 years, and is forced to speak it again. She handles it like reality, because she doesn’t get right back in the mode to speaking it, and still stutters, and doesn’t understand the language fully, and has some great touching scenes with Costner. Graham Greene who plays the Sioux chief is even better and has some great scenes with him and Costner, where he is actually highlighting the screen every time hes on it.

I feel bad for Dances with Wolves because honestly now that I look at it, it doesn’t get its rep. it should. Yeah, it beat out Goodfellas but you have to look at it, they are two completely different movies and this one in all honesty, had a lot more of an emotional connection to it. Also, two other films that I have reviewed (Avatar, The Last Samurai), all have basically stolen this idea of guy changes cultures and becomes entranced with it. Honestly, they were good films but now that I see, the story really doesn’t relie on originality, mostly on who can do a better similar story to Dances with Wolves without being too close.

Consensus: Dances with Wolves has its fair faults, but ultimately is anchored by the great performances, inspired and authentic directing debut from Costner, and featuring themes that add on to a story of how beautiful and touching two different cultures can be.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!!

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