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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Hot Shots! (1991)

Remember how Charlie Sheen was in a dramatic war movie, Platoon? Yeah, me either.

Ace pilot Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is obsessed with living down his father’s disastrous reputation and winning beautiful psychiatrist Ramada from professional and romantic rival Kent (Cary Elwes) — all while trying to carry out a vital military mission.

I loved all of the spoof films that come from Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker. Aiplane!, Top Secret!, and Naked Gun are all great movies that right off the bat make you cry from laughing.

However, I barely found that same feeling here. The jokes are good I will admit. You can still tell that these writers know how to make a good gag, and run along with it for the whole remainder of the film. The film does a good job of parodying very famous and dramatic films like Dances with Wolves, and Top Gun.

However, I wish there was more of that parodying of the really serious films cause it worked very well in Top Secret! most importantly, when it basically dismantled all WWII movies. I feel like there was more time for witty writing, and better spoofs overall when it came to making jokes.

Acting was, well, were they really acting? It was great seeing Charlie Sheen in his sort of dead-pan character ways, which really makes his character fly real well with this type of material. Cary Ewles is also very funny doing a little riff on Val Kilmer’s character from Top Gun. The most random laughs I found in this movie came mostly from Lloyd Bridges, who is so random with his comments, but yet, they are so stupid, it makes it even more funny to watch him. I started to get happy as soon as I saw Jon Cryer, bringing me back to some great episodes of Two and a Half Men with him and Sheen.

Consensus: Hot Shots! may not be as funny as other spoof films of this nature, but sure as hell is witty, quick with its deliverance, and acted finely.

7/10=Rental!!!

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Set It Off (1996)

Four crazy ass black woman, that guys don’t have just all the fun robbing places.

Sick of being victims of circumstance and fighting a system that keeps them from realizing their dreams, four black women from the Los Angeles projects opt to knock over a bank. Emboldened after pulling off the heist, they continue their crime spree. But the sticky-fingered quartet (played by Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise) is unaware that a fixated police detective (John C. McGinley) has them in his sights.

There are certain types of films that show a love between a group of friends that love each other so much that they would do anything for the other. For these four chicks, that anything, is robbing banks in order to get rich. Oh, I wish I had friends like these.

The film shows a great deal of how these four friends all equally inhabit struggle, and hardships in their personal and work lives. Whether the d-bag boss is just up your ass all the time, or you feel like you might be getting played by some Harvard grad, they each all have hardships. We see this very well, and early on in the film, we understand the characters enough for us to like them even when they start shooting up mofos.

However, I just had a huge problem actually believing they could pull off as many jobs as they did. These four worked together so sloppy, by the way their technique went, and how the first place they robbed wasn’t even the place they were going to go for. Everybody is so disorganized when it comes to pulling of the heist itself, they make Thunderbolt and Lightfoot shake their heads in disgust.

I liked how director F. Gary Gray made a lot of the action sequences fun and smart, reminding me a lot of the old-school action flicks, but I just feel like he didn’t know what to make this film. In the beginning the film looked like it was a big social statement on how African American women are treated in society. But when they start doing the heist jobs it turns into a typical action flick. I didn’t know what Gary Gray wanted to do, hell I don’t even think he knew what he wanted to do, all I know is that it could have been formatted a lot better. But the guy does look pretty chill, so i can’t talk that much ish on him.

Other than those two slight problems, the performances from these four ladies are superb. Jada Pinkett Smith, does a great job in this film in what you could call the “tragic hero”, and brings out that charm we all know and love her for, but also the unrelentless hate in her soul. Vivica A. Fox, is her usual high-spirited diva, while Kimberly Elise is just being the sheltered little nice girl. But the best here is that lovable little fire herself, I present to you, Miss Queen Latifah. I have to give a lot of props to Latifah for this performance because she goes all out with her lesbo-loving character. Back in 1996, it was unheard of a musician-turned-actor, actually doing a good job. But Latifah broke down that wall and showed that she isn’t anything other than just a bunch of hits, she’s a great and independent woman, who can go all out with her performance, and still be 100% likable.

Consensus: Though the film gets lost in its message, and believable happenings, Set it Off works so well when it comes to showing great action sequences, and working a story of four friends that actually seem like it, mostly due to their performances.

6.5/10=Rental!!

O (2001)

Whoever thought that Jungle Fever could get this violent.

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s “Othello” that takes place in an exclusive boarding school where Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) is the star basketball player and sole black student. Odin’s beautiful girlfriend, Desi (Julia Stiles), adores him, and his coach (Martin Sheen) loves him like a son. But jealousy drives the coach’s real son, Hugo (Josh Hartnett), into an elaborate and deadly scheme to knock Odin off his exalted perch.

The film was completed in 1999 but was shelved and moved to a different studio, mostly because of the Columbine High School massacre.

A month ago I reviewed the film Leaves of Grass, and loved it from almost start to finish. I though the writing was witty, directed very well, and overall acted superbly. That film was written and directed by the same guy here, crazy man Tim Blake Nelson. He didn’t write this film, and it really is a damn shame, cause I think that is what could have really benefited the film.

There are many things that go wrong with this script. For example, Desi’s roommate is tricked by Hartnett to trick her, and as she sees the damage caused by her actions she just stands there looking like a total idiot. And also when the characters experience 180 degree personality changes and start packing guns, snorting coke, and talking murder, it just gets plain ridiculous.

The film however does do a good job, of actually bringing out a good point of teen violence, in a time of where its starting to escalate. The film has its shares of ups and downs when it comes to the script, but it is true in nature and soul to the original source material, and that’s why it works. Nelson does an excellent job directing, adding a heavy dose of visual symbolism that in other hands may have come off as intruding or flashy but here largely maintains an ambiguity that allows plenty of room for interpretation on the part of the viewer.

The acting here is very good which is the reason the film is saved. Josh Hartnett is very convincing as this jealous, sneaky, asshole that tries all of his ways into getting the fame that he thinks he so rightfully deserves. Mekhi Phifer is the real treat in this film, and provides some great scenes when his character starts to show more emotion and anger, and by the end his performance is just perfect. It sucks that this guy is only remembered for being in Dawn of the Dead, and playing the DJ dude in 8 Mile, he really does have talent that needs to be appreciated. Him and Julia Stiles together feels genuine.

Fun Fact: This is Julia Stiles’ second film playing a love interest of a black dude (the other one was Save the Last Dance).

The last 10 minutes of the film is really the main reason to see the film as it works with the film so well. Its effective and powerful.

Consensus: The script takes the film and turns into something completley unbelievable, but features a good direction from Blake Nelson that remains loyal to the original material, and good performances from the cast.

5/10=Rental!!!

The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

Larry Flynt vs. Hugh Hefner. Who is the better porno seller.

Notorious pornographer Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson) carries his free-speech campaign from lowly strip clubs to the U.S. Supreme Court in this film about censorship and the sex industry from director Milos Forman. Blending details of the Hustler publisher’s legal battles with scenes from his personal life, the film also examines Flynt’s relationships with his lawyer (Edward Norton) and drug-addicted wife (Courtney Love).

Milos Forman, damn man, you got balls. And I’m not talking about normal-man balls, I mean huge badonka badonka balls. He really directs this film into total controversy, but for a good reason. The fact that Forman isn’t afraid to shy away from showing a lot of boobs, and some vagina, means that this guy is pretty brave. I mean even in today’s world of film, we always are never allowed to show vagina, but somehow he made it possible, and to do it about 20 times.

But it’s not just the fact that he’s able to show a lot of T & A for 130 minutes, no he’s able to also blend this well-written screenplay, with the film itself so perfectly. The writing touches on great ideas about freedom of speech, and the main message that comes out so well here in this film is that, “if the constitution will defend a sleazy asshole like this dude, the why wouldn’t defend people like us?’

The film has a deal of comedy in it, but i just wished there was more of that in this film. Too much of the film acted too seriously for its own good, and was just a little awkward when it tried to be funny. For example, there is a scene in court where, the judge is played by real-life Larry Flynt (as you can see they sexxed him up a lot adding Woody to the main role), and the scene stops for about 10 seconds just to focus on him, and it looked like they were trying to make the scene funnier with that addition, but just came off as being odd.

Woody Harrelson as Larry Flynt was a perfect choice, because Woody is alway’s playing those sleazy, dirt-bag characters so freakin’ well, and he adds a huge deal of character to Flynt, by putting more energy and comedy into this guy’s appearance. The surprising good performance here is Courtney Love. Yes, that Courtney Love. Her character goes through so many transitions, and every time Love makes it seem believable. It’s crazy how some coked-up broad can get her character right, when some can’t even do it right. Although, I think in this movie she was basically playing herself, but hey, that’s just me. Oh and theirs a young Edward Norton here too, funny how he’s playing a lawyer, the same year he would win a Golden Globe for playing a victim in Primal Fear.

Consensus: The People vs. Larry Flynt raises some good questions about censorship and freedom of speech, which are backed up by incredible performances, but never fully go the extra mile to become a fully developed film.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Manic (2003)

If everyone from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, were teenagers.

Teenager Lyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is committed to the juvenile ward of a mental institution after brutally beating another boy. There, he encounters a pack of equally lost souls, including a girl who hurts herself (Zooey Deschanel), a 12-year-old child molester (Cody Lightning) and a bipolar teen planning an escape (Michael Bacall). Don Cheadle stars as the resident psychiatrist who works tirelessly to break through to his charges and give them hope.

Where this film is no where near as close to the Milos Forman classic, it still does have a great look and insight into the world of depression, and the people that try to help it.

Going into the film you have to be ready for a whirlwind storm of total unhappiness, something I did not do. I still wish there was a bit more light touches added to the film rather than just, all these suicidal tendencies running all over the place. I also think that first-time director, Jordan Melamed, gets too caught on focus with the shaky cam feature, and I found this aspect for some of the scenes to be a distraction, cause it was just all over the place.

Other than those two problems, this film does give great insight into depression. You see how these characters tell their stories about heart break, and tragedy. Almost every story, as depressing as the other, ultimately touches you, cause in all honesty if you have ever known somebody that is facing depression, or any type of mental illness, you can understand the pain that these kids are feeling.

One of my friends saw this movie, and was like, “this isn’t how real people act”. When in reality, this is totally how people act when they are under depression. I mean, the truth of this story is that, all these characters from the cutter, to the molester, and to the kid with anger management issues, not all of them find solutions in life, it’s more about helping to climb that mountain and achieve greatness.

Don Cheadle basically devours the screen every time he gets it with his superb acting. Everytime this guy is on-screen, you can feel his frustration, but also a sense of relief whenever he is around, and you can trust him with your life. It was cool to see Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star together again as love interests, because of my love for (500) Days of Summer. They both have a great sense of rawness within their characters, and each give off great performances to support the film.

Consensus: Manic may have obvious flaws, especially with the camera that will probably make you puke, but features great performances, to back up a wonderful screenplay about the reality of depression, and the harsh things to come of it.

8/10=Matinee!!!!

Colors (1988)

Time has not treated this movie well.

Veteran cop Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) has nothing but contempt for his new partner, fiery rookie Danny McGavin (Sean Penn). But he comes to appreciate Danny as they patrol the mean streets of East Los Angeles, where a gang war between the Crips and Bloods is escalating.

The film is directed by Dennis Hopper, yes, that Dennis Hopper. Even though he is an actor directing a cop film, he still doesn’t hit the right note when it comes to the writing. For me, I felt like it was way too corny and just annoying listening to these guys cry on about their lives and how they want it to change, yaddda yaddda yaddda, just beat up the bad guys.

I liked Hopper’s direction, because we get to understand how these gang members, communicate, make deals, and well, kick some ass. But, I feel like every story from thhe members were the same thing. They were all highly cliched, talking in this sort of crazy jive talk, and never given anything different other than these one-note assholes.

Probably the best thing in this movie has to be the performances from Penn and Duvall. Watching these two on-screen was a real treat, because both equally showed off their great acting skills, equally. Penn is as usual doing his yelling, like he does in almost every movie. Duvall is totally bad-ass in this film, showing a side of him we never rarely see, while not forgetting to lay the occasionally whoop down on some of them bitch ass gang members. The two interact like a married couple, and I think that’s the real art of the film, is when these two are together.

Consensus: Colors has an inspired direction from Hopper, and great acting from Penn and Duvall, but just can’t get by its terrible script, and formulaic ways.

5/10=Rental!!!

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Like Snakes on a Plane, what you see is what you get.

Fueled by energy drinks, vodka and nostalgia for their younger, wilder days, a group of aging best friends (John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke) travel back in time to 1987, where they get the chance to relive the best year of their lives. And their time machine? Well, it’s a hot tub.

When you watch this film, you must remove any part of your brain that has any type of reality, or sense, and you can enjoy this film. The reason why I enjoyed it.

I never thought I would say this but a film with a title like Hot Tub Time Machine, is actually pretty smart. Crazy I know, but it works in many ways. The more you recognize things like MTV, Ronald Reagan, the brick-sized cell phones, the Kanye glasses, Crispin Glover’s casting, leg warmers, and the references and homages to movies like “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, “Red Dawn”, and “The Terminator”, the more you’ll laugh your ass off. There’s even a “Rambo” poster hanging around somewhere. But, the thing is that it’s not all filled with 80s jokes, but there is a LOT of them.

The film is not afraid to pull the type of punches it has. This is RAUNCHY to a new level, without a doubt, and for some it may get way too dirty, but for me, ehh its whatever. Some jokes were mostly hit-or-miss but I laughed enough over, just chuckling. You will soon realize that this movie is sef-aware that its joke, but you never quite find yourself crying on the floor. But I have got to say one thing, this is exactly what comedy needs in today’s world: dirty, raunchy, irrelevant, fun.

The film is a riff on the whole 80s movie genre, and having John Cusack in the lead role, gave it that push it was looking for. However, I just found him to be boring, and always depressing. His character took a lot away from the story at hand, and the scenes with him just drag on. Craig Robinson, as usual, is hilarious, because mostly everything he does, he plays the same crazy black guy, that just belts out hilarious lines. Rob Corddry and Clark Duke, play the same characters they always do in almost every movie, but it works well here, blending nuttiness, with reality.

The cameos from this film are obviously alive, and alright. Chevy Chase is not funny at all, as this random-ass repair man, and could have been used as an extra, and would have been even better. It was also funny to see William Zabka playing his usual ully type roles he always plays. But the best here is Crispin Glover, as the bell boy, who is a running gag, but works so well. Nice homage to the Back to the Future days.

Consensus: Don’t expect any sense or reality from this film, but Hot Tub Time Machine works cause of its non-stop laughs, that border along terrible raunch, and funny satire.

7/10=Rental!!

You Kill Me (2007)

One weakness to a hit-man: alcohol.

After alcoholic hit man Frank (Ben Kingsley) botches an assignment, he leaves the Polish mob family he works for to clean up the mess and relocates to San Francisco, where he dries out, gets a job at a mortuary and falls in love with Laurel (Téa Leoni). But when a rival gang threatens the family, he returns to take care of business — with Laurel in tow.

For normal films, we always see the life and premise of a hit-man, as a very sad and depressing one, where he does nothing other than just kill people without any discontent. With this film, we get a totally new fresh take on that familiar piece, and it works a lot better.

The one problem with this film is that I wasn’t expecting so much as to what I got. I was looking for a nice dark comedy, on the world of the mob and hit men, but the film starts to dive into a romantic comedy type. I mean, the film centers on this love between Kingsley and Leoni, that by the end when the little mobster story-line comes in, its sort of random since they always kept focusing on their love.

But, for the 90 minutes or so, the film kept me entertained throughout. The comedy works very well, mostly cause it doesn’t poke too many jokes at this man’s alcoholism, or the fact that he kills people, instead it focuses more on the strange parts of life, that somehow always come to you faster, than you expect.

The film mostly works due to those performances from the cast. Kingsley is great with this dead-pan character, that almost at times, doesn’t even seem human, but that what makes him great. I mean this dude is going from Gandhi to killer mobster dude, how can he not be a little discombobulated. Téa Leoni gives one of those great performances, with her dude voice, gives one of the best performances of her career, showing enough charm and to actually make you believe she could fall in love with this dude. The supporting cast is good:

Luke Wilson, sporting some great lines, as a gay man, that are defiantly better than those commercials.

Philip Baker Hall, playing the same guy from Hard Eight, but still in his usual, old/wise man act.

Dennis Farina, playing the same guy he always does from any mob-related film, ever.

and last but not least……………………….

Bill Pullman, being a random deuche that is sort of just in the movie, well, for the sake of being in the movie. God this guy was in every movie: Casper, A League of Their Own, hell, he was even the president in Independence Day! Poor guy, need to see him back!

Consensus: You Kill Me does get a little lost, but is an enjoyable 90 minute film, with great performances from all of the cast, and a witty screenplay.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Tape (2001)

3 friends meet to what becomes the most awkward conversation ever.

After 10 years apart, three friends (Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Uma Thurman) reunite in a motel room to play out the unresolved drama of their final high school days. As layers of denial are peeled away, each character is provoked into revealing his or her true nature and motivation.

Tape is based on a play, that is filmed on a real digital camera, giving it that authentic feel, and shot in real-time. I liked these two ideas that director Richard Linklater does because it feels thought the 86 minutes your watching this film, your right there with them.

The film is written so well, as it feels as though its actually real-life. The dialogue after awhile, gets really harsh and terribly true, to a point of where it almost feels like your watching a documentary before your very own eyes. I liked the screenplay so much, cause it shows how people can obtain something differently, and how after 10 years of one little incident not much has changed. The film builds, and builds, and builds right up to the point of where you think what’s going to happen, doesn’t happen, and your overall, terribly shocked.

I had a problem with the film by the way it ended, and that was how not everything added up like it could have. I was sort of let down, by what actually happened to these three 10 years ago, and I think through watching this whole film, I sort of deserved to know the real answer.

I loved how the film was just a great way to show that these three actors, can sure as hell, act. Ethan Hawke is such a dick in this movie, that you want to kill him, but in some ways, he is very funny and you actually kind of enjoy him. Robert Sean Leonard is also very good here, showing a great deal of consent for his actions as the movie moves along, giving off a very believable performance.  The most memorable performance here in this film has to be Uma Thurman, her transitions from flippy manipulation, to steering honesty represents some of the best of her versicle career.

Consensus: Tape doesn’t deliver what you want, but features a realistic, well-written dialogue, that in ways is terribly true, and backed up by the three strong performances.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!!!

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Hey, it got me dancing!

Director John Badham’s musical ushered in the disco craze with the character of 19-year-old Tony Manero (John Travolta). By day, Tony’s a paint store clerk, but at night he’s a polyester-clad stallion who rules the dance floor of a Brooklyn nightspot with his partner, Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney).

First, to start off I have got to praise the film for making me basically want to dance all the time. The whole defines the look, way, and feel of 1970s New York, during the great days of when disco was alive and kickin’. I felt like I was totally in this world mostly because of the wonderful dancing and soundtrack.

The Bee Gee’s look like a bunch of huge pot heads, that you wouldn’t be expecting belting out hits like “Stayin’ Alive“, or “More Than a Woman” for that matter. But their music fits so well with this movie, and the dance scenes that are in this just are exciting and fun every time it goes down. You feel the fun, and the craziness that occured in these 1970s clubs, and you kind of wish you were there.

But other than this disco nightlife, and dancing, its all considered second to real life. However, I just wish this person’s life wasn’t so out-of-hand. Some of the stuff in this movie gets a little wild, like a chick getting raped like twice, drunk guys dancing on a bridge, and some random graphic violence. For me, I understood what the film’s ideas were, but I just wasn’t totally convinced, that this is how crazy life outside of the night clubs can be.

The main reason the film works is none other than one of the greatest leading men of all-time, Mister John Travolta. Nowadays, Travolta gets a bad-rep because he does crappy films like, Old Dogs, or Wild Hogs, but back in his hay-day, people, he had it going on. Travolta makes this character easily likable with his signature charm and charisma that got him so far in his career. Also, there were no stunt doubles used for the dancing scenes, so everything nutty and crazy you see Travolta doing on that dance floor, its him! Trust me, he’s got moves! He’s not the brightest tool in the shed, but due to his self-confidence the ladies want him, and the guys want to be him (points to myself). Karen Lynn Gorney was also good, but her voice was a little mannish, and she didn’t quite look the part since she does look a lot older, but hey, she can dance it out as well.

The main reason to see this film is the wonderful dance scene these two have, its just what and how perfect film can be.

Consensus: Though its plot gets a little crazy outside of the dancing and night-clubbing, Saturday Night Fever is a classic that features a wonderful look at the disco era, complete with a jamming soundtrack, awesome dance moves, and an iconic performance from the man they call, Travolta.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

A film that is basically about God knows what.

Writer-director David Lynch weaves another mysteriously complex tale in this story about an amnesiac woman (Laura Herring) who’s left stranded on Mulholland Drive and gets taken in by a young newcomer (Naomi Watts) who’s moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams. The two women gradually start to put the pieces of a troubling puzzle together, but the puzzle unravels a dark, sinister plot — as well as unexpected passions.

For me I think David Lynch is an OK director, if your favorite things are watching random shit happen for some odd reason. I liked Blue Velvet, and his most normal Wild at Heart, but this one even as crazy and nutty as it is, still is great.

The one thing I mostly have to praise is the direction from that crazy boy himself, David Lynch. Although, the whole film is basically up to interpretation, you can still sense a great deal of mature writing and directing when it comes to this job. Lynch, makes his usual wacko, surrealist, psychological films, but this time in the form of a Hollywood noir, and somehow, its works.Despite, being all confused entirely by the end of the film, I still somehow enjoyed it mostly cause of the fact that Lynch does create these great details and themes about imagination, and stardom, while plotting them in this helpless place of despair, combined with great elements of total suspense.

But yet, I also kind of have to fight against Lynch for this film. Lynch, does toy with us, the viewer, a lot during this film. Right when we think we have the story’s plain and simple plot in our minds, and understand it all, Lynch pulls the carpet right from underneath us all, and we are just being plucked away, one after another. In ways, I have to give Lynch the credit for at least, testing this idea out, but yet it kind of pissed me off, that the whole film was pretty much up to interpretation, meaning what’s the point of the film in the first place.

The visuals in this film will blow you away, because you got all these crazy colors flyin at you sometimes and you feel as if your trippin’ mad balls, when you realize your inside of the Lynch maze. There is also some natural beauty to this film, cause it showers the darker side of Hollywood, and some scenes are nightmarish material.

I loved how Naomi Watts, was basically, in other words, amazing. Her character goes in a total transformation, from this happy go-lucky chick in the beginning, to this evil, dark, bitchy character by the end of the film, but oh, wait I gave too much away, I’m done. Laura Elena Harring, is very good too, because she fits that look and feel of an old 1950s actress, and all she has to do is stand there and look pretty, cause she does that very well. I found her story to be the best thing about this film, because through this we sympathize with her character and the problem with her life.

There is also a nice side performance from Justin Theroux as the very arrogant director, who doesn’t take no for answer when it comes to his film, and its pretty obvious what the message is behind that character. Oh yeah, and Billy Ray Cyrus is in here too. Nothing like a good ole’ cameo from Achy Breaky Heart boy.

Consensus: It doesn’t do much to make sense, but Mulholland Dr. is one of those wacko films from David Lynch, that just is so strange, incoherent, and crazy, but yet so imaginative, well-acted, and intelligently structured, that it works.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Nothing like watching a great classic, on a crappy Sunday.

Nominated for seven Oscars, this legal thriller profiles the attempts of country lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart) to exonerate Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), who’s charged with a local barkeep’s murder but claims the victim raped his wife (Lee Remick). Employing a temporary insanity defense, Biegler tries to outmaneuver slick celebrity prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott) but discovers there’s more to the case than meets the eye.

You know sometimes, when you watch old films, from like 50’s and 60’s, and they are so dated, that they are actually boring. Well, this for me, was not that kind of film.

Never in film has it quite been done so well, that a film can have such a great message about the world we live in, that stands the test of time. In the nature of another great courtroom classic from a similar time period, To Kill a Mockingbird. Both of these films touch on the matter that we as humans in our society have motives that are both mixed and dubious, and therefore our uncertainty is that we don’t know what the world is like.

I love courtroom dramas, and I really have no idea why. I don’t want to be a lawyer or anything like that, they have just always interested me in a weird way. And this one here is surely one of the best of all-time. The film moves and is shot in real-time, with a time limit of 2 hours and 40 minutes that does not once feel over-played one bit. Director Otto Preminger keeps this film at a nice pace for all of us to understand, and easily not get bored at. The film’s first 1 and 30 minutes are dedicated to the gathering of evidence, which is used effectively, cause you get to see all the steps a lawyer must make in order to make sure he has taken the right case. Also, the black-and-white is for some reason so special here, cause it does add a lot to the moral effect, to where nothing at all seems right.

The film’s screenplay is also very noticeable cause it is one of the very first few films to test the boundaries, of the movie ratings. The film makes a lot of frank references to sex and rape, which back in 1959, was definably a no-no. However, this film tests those ears, and gets its point across, with some of the most intelligent dialogue I have ever heard in my life. It’s funny, visceral, thought-provoking, and overall brilliant, of how such a film can create such dialogue that can be seen as something in today’s world. In the screenplay, there are no good-guys and there are no bad-guys, just like real-life, we are chosen by our decisions.

How is it that a film, can have so many great performances packed all into one film?? James Stewart leads the crew with his usual “lovable loser” look, but still defines class, and how it was presented in the late 1950’s. He’s funny, powerful, and overall believable, making this one of the more very believable people I have seen in recent films. George C. Scott shows up latter in the film, but adds some more of his cocky attitude to the film to show us more why we should just forget that he played Patton. Also, the one performance that really stands out in my mind especially, is the one given by Lee Remick, who plays this tease so perfect, so sexy, and so believable, that you can see how looks and talent can go hand-in-hand in most cases, as well as when you got a chick that in today’s world that can be viewed as very good-looking.

Consensus: How can a film be thought-provoking, realistic, well-acted, beautifully written, heavily stylized by black-and-white, and stand the test of time even though it was filmed in the 50’s? Well that’s why Anatomy of a Murder is a classic for all to see, whether you like courtroom dramas or not, there’s always a message that is in today’s world.

10/10=Full Pricee!!!

My Top Ten Movie Facts!

So there has been this big bunch of tagging going around for this Top Ten Movie Facts thingy, and I have been tagged once (thank you Aiden). If you ever wanted to know anything I haven’t already told you guys about my secret movie life, so well, here goes nothing.

#10

I actually consider (500) Days of Summer to be the best film of the decade, and call bull crap on the Oscars for not   even nominating this beautiful piece of work for one Oscar. Then they wonder why people don’t watch them anymore.

#9

I’m 17 years old, and the first R-rated movie I was able to get into without showing any I.D whatsoever, was Bruno, and because it was in the summer and I let my beard grow out, and I literally looked like a 30 year old man. Here’s some proof:

That’s me on the left. Either 17 or 30 upon first viewing?? You be the judge

#8

I have actually met Woody Harrelson in my life, the sad thing was I was 8 at the time, and my parents got the picture with him. Yes, I have been up countless nights, over the day that could have been the greatest day ever! Oh and apparently he was stoned when we met him. No shocker there!

#7

I have a real, passionate hatred for Richard Gere. He just always struck me as this dude that thought he was such a charmer that he does these roles that are so annoying and gay, he will never be allowed back in the Man-Law. Hell, I don’t even blame Diane Lane for leaving him in Unfaithful, I would have done the same thing if I was married, and had one kid with this dude.

#6

The one movie I actually peed myself laughing so hard at was the movie, White Chicks. Everyone, I know the movie kind of blew, but that one part, yeah, you know that one part. I just couldn’t stop laughing at, and well you know the expression, “when you gotta go, you gotta go”. Terry Crews = The Effin Man!!

#5

People actually wonder where I watch all my movies, and I don’t have a huge collection of movies, really, nor do I barely go out to the movies. I watch all my movies either instantly on Netflix (great stuff), Youtube (just type in a movie + part 1), and then some other sites, that I’m told not to mention. Yeah, I’m just that bad-ass!

#4

I honestly don’t get that scared easily by horror movies, but the real first movie that terrified me then, and still does is 28 Days Later. I consider it one of the best horror movies of all-time, and whenever it’s on, I cannot look away, even though I never go to sleep that night. Here’s to many sleepless nights Danny Boyle!

#3

I’am actually one of the very few people that enjoyed every single Star Wars film, from Episode I to Episode VI. The III will always be my favorite of the “new” trilogy, but when people are smack-talking on the them, I’am easily offended, and will fight to the death for them. I got yo back George, you my boy!

#2

I’am not a little bitch when it comes to watching movies and dropping a little tear, but I have only done that on-occasion for some movies: American History X (that ending gets me almost every time), Up (you weren’t human unless you cried at that film), and last but not least, the most guilty of all guilty pleasures, Hardball. I know its random and stupid, but don’t tell me that at least once you didn’t cry at that G-Baby scene. Keanu Reeves, I don’t care what they say about you, you will always have a special place in my heart.

#1

The one film that will always stand the test of time for me, Saving Private Ryan. Whenever it’s on, I stop right what I’m doing, and watch the whole thing from wherever it has just begun. What is so great about this film that it actually had such an impact on me? Well, it was one of the first movies I actually watched, focused on story, characters, acting, themes, setting, direction, everything. It was one of the first movies that I realized utter beauty that could be shown in cinema, and it is one of the first movies to actually influence me into reviewing movies for what they are.

So, there, we have it everyone! Those are my 10 facts about my life when it comes to movies, that I surprisingly took a long time to think about. I hope all of you found this amusing as much as I did righting back to all the memories, good and bad, and adding slight touches of humor too my life of films.

Oh, and here’s some people that I must tag to do this ish as well.

Marc from Marc’s Movie Blog, and Frank from Pompous Film Snob.

Hit it up boys!

Date Night (2010)

I hope my dates never turn out to be this way.

Who knew simple dinner reservations under a different name could turn one New Jersey couple’s date night so terribly upside-down? Claire (Tina Fey) and Phil (Steve Carell) Foster leave their kids with the sitter (Leighton Meester) and head out for a night on the town — as the Tripplehorns. Shawn Levy (Just Married, Night at the Museum) directs this action-comedy; Mark Wahlberg and James Franco co-star.

The plot itself, takes after many other one-night extravaganza films like After Hours, and American Graffiti, but the one thing I can say about this movie is that I laughed, oh I laughed a lot.

I think everybody knows the main reason as to why I laughed so much, and that’s those two people on the right: Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Both are hilarious and very believable as a couple that hasn’t been this wild in so very very long, just like I haven’t laughed in so very very long. I like it when Carell is in roles like this, where he’s not some eccentric off-beat character, but instead he’s a real guy that you can connect to even though he is totally silly. Fey as usual is also hilarious, but taking away that crappy ass woman from Baby Momma, and spicing her up a whole bunch into someone that’s actually hilarious and believable. Their chemistry is just perfect, and each of them feed off each other, with plenty of ad-libs for the ride.

Along the way there are also funny little cameos from plenty of who’s who in Hollywood. Plenty of jokes are centered at Common, and how could you not, just looking at that guy act is a joke. James Franco doing his usual zany character bit from Pineapple Express. While Mark Wahlberg: dead-panned, sexified, and fantastic are the only three ways I can describe this man. Oh yeah, and there’s also a random ass cameo from of course, the Italian mobster stereotype, Ray Liotta. Gotta love that guy, its been 20 years since Goodfellas, and he still can’t get past the Henry Hill role.

The problem with the film is that we have seen this kind of film before. I also feel like the PG-13 rating could have brought the film a lot more up, but rather than being terribly raunchy, the film goes for the teen/adult appeal.

Consensus: Though its plot is familiar, Date Night blends a great deal of action with hilarious humor, that wouldn’t have been the same if it were not for Fey, Carell, and countless others in cameo roles.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Very Young Girls (2008)

Pimps are assholes, except for 50 Cent, whos the only good P.I.M.P

David Schisgall’s startling documentary captures the heartbreaking stories of underage girls — many as young as 13 — who’ve been forced into prostitution in New York, exposing how pimps use isolation, violence and drugs to keep girls dependent. Many of the girls interviewed take part in GEMS, a shelter and mentoring program founded by activist Rachel Lloyd — once a prostitute herself — that helps them transition out of “the life.”

So my friend Joe says I should watch thi cause one night he was checking it out and he basically said it was good ish. Well, that’s why they call it opinions people.

When it comes to documentaries of this nature, I usually look towards the more shocking things that work. However, shocking doesn’t usually mean you have a good documentary unless you actually got some engaging material, something that this film did not have.

The fact of the matter is, that i understand it was hard for these girls to go away from the life that they taken advantage from for so long, but these chicks were stupid. The GEMS was giving them a free house, free job, free food, free everything, and what do they do, go and run away with the asshole pimps that got them into this situation in the first place.

There were certain parts of this I actually liked. I thought the footage of the actual pimps were very disturbing an worked in a way for the film, but I also felt like not much of it was put into the film.

Consensus: Think of Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver, and you got a documentary on that lifestyle, but less engaging material, with people you can’t really care about.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!

Duplicity (2009)

Seeing these two in Closer, almost ruined the movie for me.

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen co-star in this curveball-throwing thriller as a pair of romantically involved corporate operatives who are entangled in a bitter rivalry between two mammoth pharmaceutical companies. Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson convincingly round out the heavyweight cast as warring big pharma CEOs in this intriguing espionage effort from writer-director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton).

The best way to describe Duplicity, is picture a romantic comedy written and directed by the same guy who made Michael Clayton, and that’s pretty much what it feels like.

The film itself is structured as a film where the viewers themselves have to constantly ask themselves, what is going on? Tony Gilroy, shows effectively shows us flashbacks of these two and their past escapades and having us wonder who’s playing who in this situation.

But not only is that a positive about the film, its also a negative cause Gilroy’s script features way too many twist and turns for the films own good. Its a film that puts its finger on your shoulder, and tells you to keep up. the only problem with that is there is so many crossing, double-crossing, triple-crossing, and so on and so forth crossing, the film starts to get lost, as do us the viewers. It kept on pulling the rug from underneath that just gave up on trying to get up. Also, its hard to actually care too much about espionage corporates with soap companies.

Now take it for granted there are still some good stuff in this film. The screenplay gets a little jumbled when it comes to the story, but its still has some funny witty lines, and shows that Gilroy can actually make funny things. i think the most appeal of this film comes when its just Owen and Roberts because their love story is written so well, it becomes the best thing of the movie.

So basically the one question I was asking this whole movie was, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN JULIA ROBERTS??!??! She has to stop having all these kids and get back into films, cause she is just great in this film. The best thing about her performance too is that, she is a woman now, and that comes out pretty clearly in her performance. Its obvious you can tell that she more vulnerable, and more strong when it comes to her free personality. Clive Owen is playing a slick hustler type like he usually does, but at the same time hes a little bit off kilter, which makes something a little bit more uneven about him and that shows some more promise for future comedies to come, cause it gives him that comic appeal. When these two are on the screen together, its something great to see, and makes all the other stuff going on, seem worthless. I was pretty bummed out how two of the best in our industry, Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti were pushed down to about nothings, with Giamatti getting more screen time. I thought if they were given more screen time, they could have shown a lot more in this film, but they were basically given 10 minutes each on the screen.

Consensus: Duplicity has that romantic comedy appeal with a espionage thriller twist, backed by incredible chemistry from Roberts and Owen, but features way too many twists and turns for the audience to actually keep up with.

6.5/10=Rental!!!!

The Yards (2000)

Who ever thought the life owning rail road tracks was this dangerous?

Fresh out of the joint, Queens native Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) tries to get himself on the right track in the rail yards with help from his shady Uncle Frank (James Caan), the head of a business that repairs New York City’s subway trains. In short order, Leo learns to grease politicians’ palms and to sabotage competitors to win fat government contracts. But Leo ends up as the scapegoat when things go awry during a late-night raid on a rival.

The Yards is directed by James Gray, same dude that did the very depressing and emotional, Two Lovers. And the one reason why I like this film, and why I liked that film, was because the film is less about using the fun of guns and violence, instead its more about the characters and how all of them are effected by smuggling and illegal happenings in the company.

Gray had a very same situation, like this plot, happen to his family, and you can tell by his inspired direction. Many scenes are filmed with a certain style, such as one scene where there is complete silence and you on the edge of your seat, as to what is going to happen. The writing is pretty good from Gray, because many of these characters show emotion that you wouldn’t have thought of. Also, the way its shot, is very dramatic, dark, gloomy, and overall effective, because it sets a tone for the movie and showing how bad this city really is.

However, I had many, and I do mean, many problems with this film. First, there is a lot of talking, some of it amusing, and some of it just plain old boring. I mean the film has little short bursts of action, but there are usually just scenes of these people talking, and it wasn’t very entertaining to say the least. Secondly, the film has a whole bunch of plot holes which are very evident in this film, such as the fact that Marky Mark is going to put all this evidence against his uncle, considering he’s been working for him, , like about 2 days. Also, when did a transit training job become a such a job that is so deadly people are dying over it left and right as if it were the mafia. Lastly, James Cann character was totally one-note the whole time. Never did we see him actually care for some one in his family, or love them, no he just cared about his business and order people to die.

Though the main great thing about this movie is the acting of its A-list cast. Mark Wahlberg is very good here as you would expect him, and shows a lot of potential in the future with this very young performance. But the real star of the show was Joaquin Phoenix, who dives really well into his character showing off a really cool and chill guy that you want to be around, but yet a tragic character all the same. The scenes that him and Charlize Theron have together are very good, and you can feel the love and passion between these two on-screen.

Consensus: The Yards benefits from good performances, dazzling cinematography, and an inspired writing and direction from Gray, but has way too many plot holes that are pretty obvious, and is shown at a snail slow pace that will surely put some to sleep.

6/10=Rental!!!

Amadeus (1984)

“Mozart” didn’t sound pretentious enough.

Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), a mediocre composer whose churlish young rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), wins immortality with his musical genius. Not happy to see his talent eclipsed, Salieri dons a disguise and deviously plots revenge, obsessed with muffling Mozart’s maddening laughter.

This is renowned as one of the greatest of all-time, winning 8 Oscars including Best Actor and Picture. To be truly honest I can’t fight against that too much.

The one thing that is really great about this film, is that going in you expect to be seeing another typical state-of-the art biopic on one of the greatest composers of all-time, where everything is happy-go-lucky, and the protagonist is such a good guy yudda yudda yudda, the end. But here with this film it isn’t so much of a biopic as it is a period piece on the music that these two composers made and feuded against each other with. The interesting themes of jealousy, mediocrity, and fame are all put to play in this film, and the messages that this film brings out from a story back in the 18th century, still rings well in today’s world. That is the most significant thing about this film cause anybody that has had a taste of mediocrity, can connect to the anger of how you feel, and especially when it comes to the idea of fame, because anyone that has ever felt rushed before, and so criticized because one person didn’t like your work, you can understand why Mozart and Salieri both are pissed.

Director Milos Forman totally lights up the film with everything he’s got in his production values. The film looks so extravagant placed in 18th century Venice, especially the scenes within the opera. I have to tel you that those scenes added more color, and beauty to the overall product of the film. Shall I also not forget the costumes, because these people look exactly like they are taken out of a 18th century painting, and just because they look so true to the real thing, the film almost seems like the costumes are a joke by how ridiculous these people look. Also, many of the scenes are long and in real-time, which add such a better feel, than being a highly eccentric film that goes from one scene to another, in such a crazy fashion. If you like Orchestra/Opera music, than you are going to love this film’s score, as I did, because almost every song seems to connect to the emotional power of this movie.

There was one down-side to this film that gives it a lower rating than a 10/10 of which it was working on, but the film is placed in 18th Century Venice, with an Italian dude named Antonio, and an Austrian dude named Wolfgang, why are they all speaking in English? Like in all honesty, I liked the film and this may seem as a minor complaint, but I couldn’t see the film as being too serious when everybody was speaking English, and when you got the Austrian dude, played by the very American Tom Hulce.

Needless to say, the one major thing that really attracted me to the film was that F. Murray Abraham, and Tom Hulce were both nominated for Best Actor Oscar, with Abraham coming out on top. To say the least, the performances from both are so great, that I think it should have been the first tie in Oscar history. The thing is with these performances though is that their so different, in their own great ways. Hulce plays Mozart with so much humor, so much complexity, that when this character is actually acting like a deuche, we still sympathize with him. But Abraham, is so scary, so devious, and so angry, that it is almost too rule to the human emotions. This guy is smiling and shaking hands one minute, the next minute he is breaking and yelling in a rage, due to all the guilt he has. Both performances are equally as good as the other, but they are just so different to compare, but that’s what makes this film so great.

Consensus: Amadeus is a character-driven biography, on one of the greatest minds in art, and the man that wanted his fame the most. It is filled with enough great settings, pieces, very very realistic writing, and most of all terrific performances from both leads, that this film is a joy in all of film.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

Moon (2009)

After a year or so, I’d just quit my job if I had to do this for a whole 3 years.

As he nears the end of a lonely three-year stint on the moon base Sarang, astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) begins to hear and see strange things. It’s not long before Sam suspects that his employer — the conglomerate LUNAR — has other plans for him. Featuring Kevin Spacey as the voice of a robot, Gerty, this sci-fi thriller also stars Matt Berry and Kaya Scodelario.

The film has the look of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and feels like that sci-fi in the air, gone wrong kind of movie. But this one will surely stand the test of time.

The best thing about this movie, and probably the only person you’ll see in it is Sam Rockwell. I never really liked this guy at first, cause in all honesty, I thought he was kind of a snobby guy, in real life, as we see him in the movies, but he delivers this character, also named Sam, so well. But its not just cause he’s compelling with the scenes of just him that work, no its when he is talking to another character that happens to be himself, and he plays it real well, cause both characters are entirely different. One is subtle and laid back, while the other is nutty and all over the place.

But this film is not just Sam Rockwell’s film cause it is a slam-dunk directorial debut from Duncan Jones, aka son of David Bowie. I think that Jones does a good job at being very minimalist, and not try to overcome the story with camera work, he’s kind of just letting the story tell itself, which was impressive cause that’s all what sci-fi films nowadays relie too much on. I know they didn’t film it on the moon, but it sure as heel looks like they did. I mean its pretty amazing what Duncan Jones was able to do with such a small budget of 5 million hot g’s, and create this place that looks exactly like the moon, while some film-makers can’t even get it with a $150 million or more budget. But he doesn’t use CGI, shame on you, no he uses all this kind of magic using small-scale models and actual sets. Its just so beautiful and enchanting, just like real space looks like.

However, the film much like 2001, still seems to get dull and very slow at points. I mean there were times where the film kept my interest forever, mostly until the end, but the moments in between of the story were a little how should I say, “ehh?”. Things should have went a little faster, because I didn’t feel that I was in the zone of the film while it was going on. Also, I liked Spacey as Gerty, the robot, but still, it is a big rip-off of Hal from 2001.

Consensus: Boasted by a completely compelling performance from Rockwell, and an impressive debut from Duncan Jones, Moon succeeds in bringing the creepiness, and overall beauty that is sci-fi films.

8.5/10=Rental!!

Mallrats (1995)

I wish crap like this was going down in my mall, or I’d be there everyday of my life.

Young, suburban every men Brodie (Jason Lee) and T.S. (Jeremy London) lose their girlfriends on the same day, so they take to the mall in search of solace in writer-director Kevin Smith’s (Clerks) comical look at love and loss between the escalators. Ben Affleck co-stars as a smarmy clothing store manager, while rabble-rousing regulars Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) are the icing on the cake in this offbeat treat.

This film was one of those cult followed films that I saw as a kid, understood a little bit of it, and laughed, without knowing what I was laughing about. We don that a lot as kids? But watching it now I laughed a little bit more, but not too much.

Obviously the first thing to credit in this film is the writing from writer-director Kevin Smith, who is also playing Silent Bob. He uses that inventiveness when it comes to quotable and witty dialogue, that came right from Clerks. I mean “critics” hated this film because it goes over-the-edge at times, when it actually does, but there are still a lot of little funny jokes about the media such as comic books, and surprisingly true tales about love and what we do when its gone. The writing here is definably not as quotable than Clerks, but certainly is something to laugh about once the thought of the movie comes to mind.

Also, another thing the film has going for it, which Clerks did so well, was that you were there in this shopping mall, and it is a really kick-ass time. You feel like your with these guys as they roam around the mall, looking and talking about random shit, or Jay & Silent Bob trying to get their masterful trick of destroying the TV show set to finally work, and as they run away from the cops. Your glad your with them on this ride, and for some reason, you just wish that you were there with them in real life, instead of watching this happen through a screen. :'(

The one thing I will say negatively about this film is that what “critics” complained about the film is true, the bigger the budget, the worser the movie. I think that Smith was given lots of money to do this film since he was so successful with Clerks, and he just did all the shenanigans that he always wanted to do in his movies, and I just felt was obvious, and too stupid, even for this movie. I also felt that at times, the film does for some reason get randomly dirty, and why? Hell, I don’t even know, but that’s just Smith’s trademark, even though it may be off-putting sometimes.

The cast here is exceptional. Jason Lee as Brodie gives a very funny and iconic performance, because his character is hilarious, and Lee just has that comedic timing that works so well in a film like this. Jeremy London as T.S. is also the man, showing even though he’s serious throughout the whole movie, he’s still a cool cat too. But the random little side performances are even better too: Ben Affleck is funny in his deauchy kind of way, Shannen Doherty is a funny bitch what else is new, and of course Jay and Silent Bob steal the show. Oh and must I not forget the funny Stan Lee cameo, that guy has so much humor its not even funny! (yeah that was bad, I’ll stop there)

Consensus: Though its not Smiths best, and surely doesn’t measure up to Clerks, Smith’s sophomore debut Mallrats is still a funny, if too edgy comedy, with insightful nuggets about love and comics, and good performances from the cast.

7/10=Rental!!!

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