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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Unknown (2011)

Main reason why Neeson should have just taken that Abraham Lincoln role.

Liam Neeson stars as a man who regains consciousness after an auto accident only to discover that another man is impersonating him, and that no one — not even his wife (January Jones) — recognizes his identity as the real Dr. Martin Harris. Finding himself with an unexpected ally (Diane Kruger), Harris struggles to solve the mystery and hang onto his own wits, while also being stalked by anonymous killers.

When you have a mixture of ‘Taken’ and ‘The Bourne Identity’ for a plot, Qui-Gon Jinn as the lead, and a whole bunch of Nazis as your villains, it seems very hard for a film like this to not be entertaining but there is only so much I can take.

The whole premise itself tries to be like a thriller that is meant for adults but could have even targeted at teenagers due to how silly it is. The whole first hour builds up on this premise and actually does a great job with it. I felt a lot of tension during this first hour as I didn’t quite know what was going to happen next nor did I know where this film was going to end up, which is always a nice recipe for a good popcorn thriller. However, things just started getting way out-of-hand real quick.

Probably one of the main problems with this flick was the fact that there was too much starting-and-stopping going on here where they would focus on the plot and build it, then they would add in a random car chase or one-on-one brawl to spice things up a little bit. This to me was OK the first 2 times they did it, but then they just kept on doing it the whole damn time and I honestly just couldn’t stay attached to this plot because right when I would, they would throw in an action sequence just so I wouldn’t have been bored even though I wasn’t in the first place.

Another department where this film doesn’t quite work is the fact that I knew where this plot was going because usually when you have one like this, that usually means that you’re going to get a lot of silliness that eventually leads to an utterly ridiculous plot twist. The plot twist itself wasn’t too bad and I actually think it kind of worked in a way but once it is revealed then everything starts to turn into the ridiculous action-thriller cliches that we are so used to seeing nowadays. It seems like director Jaume Collet-Sera just likes putting in plot twists that somehow work and make sense but then likes to knock them down with being predictable. He did it with ‘Orphan’ and I guess he hasn’t learned much.

Liam Neeson always tries his hardest with everything he ever appears in and his performance as Dr. Martin Harris, is no different. There are plenty of ridiculous and overboard things that he does but Neeson makes it seem believable just by being the way he is. Still, at age 59, doesn’t seem a little unbelievable that this guy could still be considered an action star that can do half of the things that he does in all of his films. Maybe it’s time for him to start trying for Oscars again.

The way the rest of the cast looks, makes this film seem like we were going to get a real treat but nobody really adds anything to this flick either. Diane Kruger plays a non-German for a film that is set entirely in Berlin, which is a big problem especially when her Bosnian accent isn’t very good as she struggles through a lot of her lines; January Jones is very bad as Elizabeth Harris and REALLY struggles through her lines; and Frank Langella and Bruno Ganz are the only two that actually show some real talent and give off one of the best scenes of the film, even though that’s not saying much in the first place.

Consensus: Liam Neeson is good as usual and there are some good moments that work, but Unknown is just another silly, predictable, and uninteresting thriller that doesn’t do much with its intriguing premise and feels like it’s trying to hard to be an action flick that still tries to rely on the plot for more thrills, but instead offers up barely any.

3/10=Rental!!

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Heavenly Creatures (1994)

The main reason why I refuse to travel to New Zealand.

Heavenly Creatures is true story of two teenage girls (Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey) from New Zealand who form a very strong friendship that changes both of their lives as they live through their own imaginations. However, things start to get strange when their friendship turns into obsession, which soon leads into murder.

The most disturbing aspect of this whole film is that this is an actual true story and while that is effed up in it’s own right, the chicks are still alive and well today, roaming the streets of only God knows where. Then again, this is a Peter Jackson film which means it’s always going to be strange.

The one thing about this film that sets it apart from other films of this nature is the direction and vision from Jackson himself. This is a pretty straight-forward story but the way Jackson tells it through extreme close-ups, awkward camera angles, constant zooming in-and-out, and not many regular shots, gives this flick a real different feel that I haven’t really seen before in a film that’s about two teenagers who go bat-shit crazy.

However, my problem with this whole direction is that everything here is practically going just about a mile a minute and I just wanted this film to slow down a bit. I get what Jackson was trying to do here, he wanted us to see the world through these girls’ own eyes and imaginations but after awhile it felt like Jackson just wanted us to know that it’s him directing so of course we need gigantic clay figures running rampant killing people. The best scenes for me here were when Jackson kind of just let the tension flow and come on in itself without Jackson ever getting in the way of that but for some reason, he just tried a little too hard and got in the way of what was going on.

The film also opens up with these girls covered in blood from head-to-toe screaming about a murder so right off the bat, I knew exactly what was going to happen by the end and for the whole time, I was just sitting there waiting for it to happen. If they didn’t show us this scene right from the get-go, I think I would have been more into this film like I had wished because it was only till after the flick that I actually checked out the actual case itself.

Even though I still bitch about all of these problems with the film I still found myself totally involved with the very disturbing story that this flick is all about. Seeing two girls go from being friends, to obsessive lover types, to stone-cold killers is downright frightening and the fact that everything here is true is what kept me really disturbed. Every film always shows the bright side to friendship and finding your bestie, but you hardly ever see the dark side of that and what it can do to not just everyone around you, but also yourself. The last 10 to 20 minutes are probably some of the most tense and disturbing I’ve seen ever since ‘Bully’ and I have to say that is something worth recommending.

The performances given by the two girls here are awesome and I think elevated this film completley. Melanie Lynskey is great as Pauline Parker and gave me that very angsty but dangerous teen-vibe the whole time. I still cannot look at her the same and actually be able to call her hot seeing this film. Kate Winslet gives a break-through performance here as Juliet Hulme and steals the show giving this incredible energy that keeps the film entertaining every time she is on-screen. It’s crazy to see where these two really got their starts and it’s also even more great that they sort of made me feel something for their characters, even if they are totally effed up in the head.

Consensus: Peter Jackson has way too much style here for me to actually be involved with this story, but regardless, Heavenly Creatures is a flick that is very disturbing, well-acted, and makes you feel as if you are in these girls’ heads as they go from normal to completley insane.

7/10=Rental!!

The Ring (2002)

This is the main reason why they stopped making VHS tapes.

A strange videotape makes it way around a circle of friends. Strangely, everyone who views the tape seems to die exactly one week afterward. After believing this to be a strange urban legend worthy of an article, cynical reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) watches the tape and shortly thereafter unsettling occurrences begin to happen to her. Is she slated to be the next victim of some kind of bizarre and seemingly supernatural force?

After seeing almost all of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ flicks, it’s very strange to see director Gore Verbinski doing a horror film that originated from Japanese. I also have to say that seeing this film for about the 7th time, it still remains quite freaky.

What works here so well is when it comes to the horror that this film has to deliver, it doesn’t feel cheap or something we’ve seen before. Verbinski is all about creating suspense rather than just throwing things right at you with the constant jump-scares just about horror flick has nowadays. You don’t know what’s going to happen next at most points and right when you think something is about to happen, Verbinski pulls the rug underneath you completely and every single time he does it, its something that works.

Another cool element about this flick is that it’s not only a horror flick but a mystery film as well. As the film moves on, we start to find out more about the story that lies behind the type and why all of the crazy shit that happens in it, happens in it and what it exactly means. Speaking about that tape, it’s freaky as hell and probably one of the freakiest things that I have ever really seen in a film in the past decade. If I woke up in the middle of the night and my TV had static on it, I would throw that damn thing out right away.

The problem with the story that is behind the whole video, is that it doesn’t really make much sense. It’s never explained why the mother does what she does to the daughter and why, and another thing I never understood is where the hell that the tapes of the girl in the psych-ward came from, if she was apparently dead. Still, without giving way too much away I just have to say that this film doesn’t hold up when it comes to its plot.

Another problem I had with this flick was that when you watch it for as many times as I have, it starts to lose it’s freshness. I won’t lie and say that barely any of the scares work, because I still got a little bit scared here and there by what I saw but to be honest, I couldn’t really get terrified when I knew everything that was going to happen. Also, why the hell would a mother leave a tape that if it is watched will result in a death sentence, around the house where her young son can watch it? Mommy of the year everybody!

Naomi Watts is fine as the slightly-bitchy but also very determined reporter, Rachel; Martin Henderson is a lot of fun to watch as her ex-boyfriend and investigative partner if you know what I mean, Noah; and let’s not also forget to mention the little cameo by Brian Cox who is always the man in no matter what he does. The one performance that seemed pretty blank was the one given by the kid who plays Aidan, David Dorfman. He seems more like a copy of the usual creepy little kid we see in every horror film and he just seems to be put in the film for that matter. But then again, he is just a kid so I guess I’m kind of a dick for beating this kid up.

Consensus: The Ring has its fair share of plot holes that don’t make sense, but Gore Verbinski creates suspense to the point of where you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and the mystery behind the whole story is pretty interesting as well. Don’t go see the sequel though. It blows.

6.5/10=Rental!!

My Predictions for the 2012 Oscars

It’s that time again everybody!

If you have checked the internet, let alone even turned on your computer within the past week or so, you’ve probably realized that there is a lot of these predictions and thoughts going down on the Oscars for this year. So for every year, I give my predictions on who I think is going to win, who should win, and who surprisingly could pull one off, if the Academy feels like really shocking the hell out of people. However knowing the Academy, that never happens. But enough of my talking, here’s what I think may go down:

BEST PICTURE:

Will Win: The Artist

Should Win: The Tree of Life

Dark Horse: War Horse (my attempt at humor)

BEST ACTRESS:

Will Win: Meryl Streep

Should Win: Viola Davis

Dark Horse: Michelle Williams

BEST ACTOR:

Will Win: George Clooney

Should Win: Brad Pitt

Dark Horse: Gary Oldman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Will Win: Christopher Plummer

Should Win: Christopher Plummer

Dark Horse: Max Von Seydow

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Will Win: Octavia Spencer

Should Win: Octavia Spencer

Dark Horse: Berenice Bejo

BEST ANIMATED FILM:

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT, BEST ANIMATED SHORT, BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE-ACTION):

I didn’t see any of these flicks they have nominated but hey, I hope somebody here wins.

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win: Hugo

Dark Horse: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win: The Tree of Life

Dark Horse: The Artist

BEST  COSTUME DESIGN:

Will Win: The Artist

Should Win: Anonymous

Dark Horse: Jane Eyre

BEST DIRECTOR:

Will Win: Martin Scorsese

Should Win: Terrence Malick

Dark Horse: Michel Hazanavicius

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

Will Win: Pina

Should Win: Hell and Back Again (the only documentary from this whole list that I actually saw)

Dark Horse: Undefeated

BEST MAKEUP:

Will Win: Albert Nobbs

Should Win: Albert Nobbs

Dark Horse: The Iron Lady

BEST EDITING:

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Dark Horse: The Artist

BEST FOREIGN FILM:

Will Win: A Separation

Should Win: A Separation

Dark Horse: Bullhead

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Will Win: The Artist

Should Win: The Artist

Dark Horse: Hugo

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

Will Win: “Man or Muppet”

Should Win: “Man or Muppet”

Dark Horse: The only other nominated song in this crap category

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win: Hugo

Dark Horse: Drive (wouldn’t that be awesome to hear as an Oscar winner?)

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win: Hugo

Dark Horse: Transfomers 3

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Dark Horse: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win: Moneyball

Dark Horse: The Descendants

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Will Win: Midnight in Paris

Should Win: Midnight in Paris

Dark Horse: Bridesmaids (come on, shitting in a sink would then be considered Oscar quality)

There ya have it folks. Once again, another year of film-watching, thus another year of staying up late and watching an Awards show that has no meaning but still has me finding the closest television possible just so I can catch a glimpse of it. It’s definitely a lot more predictable this year around, but hey, it’s all fun and games and there’s even some Billy Crystal to watch this year as well. I hope you liked my picks, and if not say something about it in the comments section so we can duke it out verbally. As always, have a great time watching the show and hopefully they don’t do that stupid dance routine for the Best Original Score category…

Peace!!

Broken Flowers (2005)

Come on Bill, cheer up. You’ll get that Oscar someday.

Don Johnston (with a T), played by Bill Murray, is a retired bachelor who finds a pink letter from an anonymous women saying that he has a son who is on the look-out for him. Don’s neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), somehow is able to get him to go out on the road and visit his past lady-friends and see who is his babies mama, and who isn’t.

Writer/director Jim Jarmusch has never been a guy I could fully get into as a filmmaker because too many of his films are just weird to be weird. However, this one is different from all of his others that I’ve seen and that’s a very good thing, especially when you have the effin’ man starring in your flick as well.

The film started off terribly slow with Julie Delpy just straight-up giving the low-down on why she is done with Don and it kind of lags for awhile after that as well which kind of bothered me. I wanted to know exactly where this film was trying to go and it seemed like Jarmusch just wanted to show all of these shots of Don being sad, bored, sleepy, and listening to some classical music all by himself in a very-dark room. The slowness in the beginning had me a little bit worried as to where this was going to go but then it started to finally pick up as soon as the story started to pick up.

I don’t know if anybody knows this by now but I have a total sweet-spot for road films. I don’t know what it is about them that just make me feel as if I’m on some sort of adventure with the character through everything and everywhere. The film started to pick up as soon as it started focusing on Don’s trip and then we started to see how Don inter-acted with all of his ex’s who, some changed, some haven’t. The writing is good because there are a lot of funny moments that are more dry than I expected and when it wants to focus on the total awkwardness that these meetings sometimes hold, really worked out perfectly.

My main problem with this film is that I wish the damn people would talk. Don is ultimately a very sad, slow, and quiet guy that doesn’t know what to talk to these chicks about other than try and snooze in the questions about whether or not they have kids, a type-writer, or pink paper. After awhile, the silence started to bother me because I know a lot of this material could have went a very long way given if the script wasn’t all about silences and awkward pauses in between conversations.

There were moments where I fell like this film hit the right note on being insightful. The film shows these women remembering him, and himself remembering them and there is always this slight thought going through both of their minds as to whether or not things could have been different given that they have stayed together. However, the contrived moments took away from this, as well as Jarmusch’s own weird way of putting his stamp on everything.

An example of Jarmusch just being weird to mess around with this story is when Don goes to his first house and a the daughter of the chick named Lolita lets him in to just chill. A couple of minutes later she comes right out to see him and is wearing absolutely nothing! Hey, I’m not complaining that I got to see Alexis Dziena nakey-wakey but to me, it just seemed way too weird to have in a film that seemed to really base itself on the real events that would happen with something like this. There were many more moments like this (well, not quite like this) but this was the one I kept coming back to.

Since Don Johnston is a very sad dude, the film relies solely on Bill Murray to play it subtle, which is something he can do perfectly. There is a lot of silence and pauses in this film, so that sort of takes away his way of improvising to the situations around him but it also gives him the perfect opportunity to create a very minimalistic character that I could still root for the whole film even though he didn’t have much to say. His character arc is pretty strong considering we don’t know much about this guy, but I felt like i really wanted to just because Murray can create so many emotions with just one look on his face. You can tell when he’s happy, sad, or just plain and simply hangin’ out being Bill Murray.

Jeffrey Wright almost takes the show away from Murray as his fun-loving neighbor, Winston. Wright is the total opposite to Johnston which makes him the best character in the whole flick. His performance is obviously a lot of fun and he brings a lot of life to the flick whenever he’s on-screen or talking on the phone to Johnston. It blows that he wasn’t in the flick some more because whenever he was gone, you could really feel the energy sort of come and go. All of Don’s ex-girlyfriends are all played perfectly by older actresses that somehow find a way to make every performance different for all of their slightly different female characters that show a lot of Don’s life somehow.

Consensus: Sometimes I felt like Jim Jarmusch just wanted to be weird for the hell of it, which sort of takes away from Broken Flowers, but Bill Murray’s subtle and understated performance breathes life into this main character and gives us an insightful, sometimes funny, and sometimes dramatic original story.

7/10=Rental!!

Wanderlust (2012)

I’ll go any place that has Jen Aniston getting naked. Any place…

The story centers on New York City couple George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) who are forced to relocate to Atlanta when George is downsized out of his job. Once there, the two stumble upon Elysium, a peculiar community populated by colorful characters who embrace a much simpler way of  life.

After checking out director David Wain‘s last flick, ‘Role Models’, and actually liking it quite a bit, I went into this one expecting the same type of laughs. Oh who am I kidding, I went into this ready to see some naked ladies. However, what I got was naked dudes and a so-so comedy. Not a very good combo.

As a comedy, this film works pretty well. All of the jokes here are very raunchy and dirty but also had me laughing quite a bit at times. Wain takes a whole bunch of risks and basically does anything in his will-power to make a joke connect, and it’s worth it because even though he doesn’t always hit the right spot, the moments where he does gets your mind off of the bad times. Besides, it’s always funny to see hippies being hippies in their own natural habitat but it’s also a lot funnier to see two, normal American people be brought into this new and cool life-style. It’s not really trying to be anything else and it’s also pretty surprising to see hippies get the kind of treatment in today’s world as they did way back when. Yes, hippies are still around people.

My problem with this flick is that the plot’s one-joke premise does get stretched on a little too long in my opinion. There is a lot of funny stuff here that works but then there were other times where Wain just seemed to throw any raunchy joke he had at us whether it was about poop, dicks, boobs, or anything else that came to his dirty little mind. This is definitely a lot more raunchier than Wain’s last flick and even though it may work when it comes to creating some good laughs, other times it just gives us that feeling that the jokes are starting to get stale and over-done.

The other problem with this plot is that it does get very uneven by the end, especially when it starts trying to show some of these hippies to be some evil mofos. Every comedy by about the last act starts to get mundane and use plot elements that we have seen done before and this one here, is really no different. We get all of the same predictable results we expect to get due to this premise being so damn simple and even though it may get pretty dry by the end, it still lifts itself back up somehow with a pretty funny epilogue. Basically, if you’re a comedy and you start to go soft, I’m always going to find my way to complain about it. I always do with the exception of probably ‘The Change-Up’ which was definitely a lot more raunchier than this flick by far.

What really worked here was the cast, that shows Wain bringing together all of his buddies as well as some other comedy favorites that you have probably seen before. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are great as George and Linda, because they not only feel like a real couple, but a pretty fun one at that even before they started their lives at this community. Aniston has really started to show herself winning back audiences with her raunchy comedy appearances and this one is no different. Aniston is funny, goofy, and shows that she has the comedic timing chops that aren’t just all about being that playful and witty girl we always see her do, she can also be pretty dirty. Still though, no boobage from her so once again, we have to all wait it out men. Rudd is also what really makes this film work because he is just so damn funny with every scene and ad-libs his ass off to great effect. Rudd has always been funny in every movie he performs in and he gives one great scene where he’s basically prepping himself for some sexy time and it’s much like that “Slapppa da basss” scene in ‘I Love You Man’, but it still had me laughing my ass of by the end and was by-far the most memorable scene of the whole flick. These two really do bring out the best in each other when it comes to acting together, and their chemistry just makes their relationship and everything else that they go through, feel real even though it may get a little cheesy by the end.

The rest of the supporting cast has a bunch of other great performances but only a couple that are worth noting. Justin Theroux is pretty wild, insane, and goofy as the community’s main-leader, Seth, and shows that he’s funny in a more visually and physical way as well; Alan Alda is playing another great role for him as the senile and old founder, Carvin; and Malin Akerman, Kathryn Hahn and Lauren Ambrose all have great little scenes considering they are all very hot as well as good when it comes to showing their comedic timing. Still, they don’t get naked. WTF!??! Plus, there are some many others in this cast that do great jobs but these were the ones that I found more worth of being noted.

Consensus: Wanderlust’s one-joke premise may stretch on for a little too long by the end, but the raunchy writing and hilarious cast give this film some very funny moments, which are definitely enough to make up for it’s more uneven ones.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011)

He’s still not one of my favorites, but for a ginger with a beautiful beard, he’s pretty damn funny.

When Conan O’Brien was let off of his stint on “The Tonight Show” instead of just chilling, relaxing, and being unemployed, he decided to take his show out on tour for 44 dates. However, Conan really starts to get to understand just how painfully brutal it can be to do shows night-after-night but still having to put on that smile for the fans.

Since I never stayed up too late past my bedtime (9:00. Don’t judge me. I like my sleep.) I wasn’t all that on Team Coco when things went south for Conan last year, however, my sympathy went out to him because in all honesty, who wants to really watch Jay Leno every single week-day night!?! However, this is one of those films where I can at least appreciate the dude for being something other than just another funny celebrity: a real human-being with emotions and feelings just like you and I.

Director Rodman Flender focuses both on his stage-show and the behind-the-scenes stuff that was going on as well and the whole time I felt like I was there with this whole crew and whatnot. The stage stuff is very funny but the back-stage stuff is even funnier because you get to see how all of these people inter-act with one another, and how Conan finds anyway he can to lighten up the mood.

The one problem that I had with this film is that I think it focused a little bit too much on the actual behind-the-scenes stuff and didn’t really let us see much of his actual live-show itself. I heard there was a lot of funny ish that went down on his live shows so when I realized that they were focusing so much on his backstage presence, I was a little bummed for the most part but I still enjoyed myself none the less.

A great element to this film is that it shows us just how excruciatingly tiring it can be to do a long-ass tour, even if it only is about 44 dates. There is a lot of fans that want autographs, pictures, tattoos, and every other thing that a person wants over their idol but somehow Conan is able to take this all in stride and give his fans everything that he wants. This guy is a class-act because he’s funny, witty, and somewhat of a comedic genius that knows how to bring a joke out of every situation, but as much as happiness and goofiness there is to him, he also has a real mean-streak and sad side to him.

I was surprised by the way this film actually portrayed him in a non-flattering way, considering it’s always the subject’s final word on what goes in and what doesn’t. Now take it for granted, the film is not a complete hack-job but at times we see Conan being completely too hard on his assistants/co-workers, taking jokes too far, and also not knowing when to take the spot-light off of himself for once, which is something that I was not expecting but still felt like it was needed considering that this allows us to see the real Conan O’Brien who is just a real dude who wants things done. I actually do wish there was more of the negative parts to his character brought up but then again, I still thought it was fascinating.

Conan O’Brien is a guy that has feelings and does whatever he can to make anybody around him happy, smiling, and laughing all at the same time no matter what. He’s a pretty stand-up dude that has anger within him but is still able to get over that and just be able to please others without it just being an act for the others around him. I have always enjoyed Conan O’Brien but was never fully in love with him, but after seeing this flick I have finally realized that he is a comedic genius that is funny, entertaining, and real. Which is what a good documentary should do.

Consensus: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is entertaining because it shows a lot what goes on back-stage and on-the-stage with plenty of funny moments, real showings of human emotions, and a lot of O’Brien just being himself which is a delight to see in the first place.

8/10=Matinee!!

Alpha Dog (2006)

Wiggers gone wild.

Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) controls the drugs on the well-manicured streets of his neighborhood. Where Johnny goes, the party, the girls and his loyal gang follow. When he’s double-crossed over missing deal money by raging hothead Jake (Ben Foster), Johnny and his gang impulsively kidnap Jake’s little brother, Zack (Anton Yelchin), holding him as a marker and heading to Palm Springs. With no parents in sight, they grow used to having the kid around, and Zack enjoys an illicit summer fantasy of drinking, girls and new experiences.

Writer/director Nick Cassavetes seems like he’s always trying to not be known as “the legendary directors son”, but it’s almost too hard to get by that. But with films like this, I have a feeling he can do it right.

The first hour of this film doesn’t really have anything going on other than show all of these asshole teenage kids, doing stupid and annoying teenage kid stuff. It was kind of annoying since we have all seen this done time and time before with no real originality here other than some kids drinking, smoking weed, and cursing up a storm like nobody’s business.

However, after the first hour the film starts to pick up and I think this is where Cassavetes really starts to show signs of a great director as well. Since this was based on a true story, the film is told as if it were a police investigation, watching this whole film as if it were looking for details, witnesses, and just the truth on what actually happened.

The script itself is kind of uneven but overall I found myself chilled with not knowing just what was going to happen next, and just how damn evil and dumb certain people can be. The whole time this film never loses sight of the people who it’s trying to portray. You get a real sense that these dumb-asses were so shallow in their mind-set that they could have easily just let him go back to his mommy and daddy, to then tell them he went off with a girl and got some pootang in the meantime. That plan would have worked but these asses instead let him hang around, get drunk, get high, get some ladies, and overall, just feel free to finally be away from that home of his. I was angry with these people and personally when a film can do that to me, it’s pretty good.

The only problem with this script is that for every chilling and good moment of emotion, there’s an almost unintentional funny moment that this film always seems to find. One of the highlights of this film and probably the best example of unintentional hilarity at it’s finest, is when Foster’s character goes into a party and absolutely beats the shit out of everyone around him, making him almost look like a ninja. The guy does a round-house kick to someones face, gets hit with a bottle then keeps going, and even knocks out a girl there or two. I mean this scene was awesome by how insane it was but it felt out-of-place for this film and was one of the various moments of unintentionally funny moments this film had.

This ensemble cast though, I must say does a pretty good job as well. Ben Foster is insane and crazy as Jake Mazursky, and owns just about every scene he has on screen, but it’s a shame that he has only about 4 or 5 scenes throughout this whole 2 hour film; Emile Hirsch is pretty good as our baby-faced villain, Johnny Truelove, who I actually truly hated; Shawn Hatosy is convincing as Truelove’s little sheep-dog, Elvis; Justin Timberlake gives a surprisingly good performance as Frankie; and Sharon Stone and Bruce Willis just basically are here to chew up scenery as they do so well.

Anton Yelchin is actually amazing in this role as Zack, who has this sort of too sweet voice that makes him seem a little fruity and geeky at first, but instead has you totally feeling so many emotions for him even by the end. Yelchin’s great in this role because honestly shows what a tied-up kid would do if he was able to live a little and just party all the time, without having to worry about parents, responsibility, or grades for that matter. I felt like I was watching an actual kid on-screen the whole time and as it goes on the film gets more and more disturbing.

Let, me also not forget that Olivia Wilde is in this too, showing off some pretty nice boooooobiesss too. And that’s always a watch in my book.

Consensus: Alpha Dog has some genuinely chilling and disturbing moments that are heightened by the whole ensemble cast that’s in this film, but too many times does this film get a little too laughable to take seriously and the characters just weren’t as likable except for two or three maybe.

7/10=Rental!!

My Left Foot (1989)

Christy Brown makes seem like a real lazy dude.

My Left Foot tells the true story of Irishman Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), who was born with cerebral palsy, only allowing him to only control only his left foot. The film follows Christy Brown over time where he soon becomes a writer, artist and builds strong relationships with his mother (Brenda Fricker) and the rest of his working-class family.

Director Jim Sheridan does something with this pretty generic story, and make it actually very interesting to watch as if we’ve never seen this type of plot ever done before. One of the main reasons being is the fact that it is not told like the regular Hollywood biopic where you get a whole bunch of cheesy montages, sentimental scenes, and moments that seem only made-for-film rather than sticking straight to the realistic approach. Sheridan is able to linger away from these conventions and I think that is why this film mainly works.

Even though the film does try to set itself apart from what we usually see, the film still has great moments of inspiration mainly because this man, Christy Brown is such an extraordinary human-being, even if he was a little hard to handle. How a person can create beautiful paintings, write a whole book, and still be able to play soccer by only using only his left foot is really something remarkable especially since the doctors told his parents at birth that he would be nothing but a vegetable.

The film not only shows him as an inspiration to everyone, but also a person that had many anger issues and was very smart even though he could be sometimes very hard to work with. Rarely will you ever really get a film, let alone biopic, that shows the person they are portraying in a relatively dark light. Christy Brown was a gifted human-being (although some may disagree) but he was also a person that did not appreciate a lot of the things and it’s not that it made him a bad person by any means, it’s just the fact that he was very hard to be friends with or even work with.

However, the film did have its fair share of problems. I felt like the score that was played throughout the background the whole entire film, not only took away from a lot of the more emotional scenes but also were annoying because they didn’t really do anything for the scenes themselves. There are some great moments of silence but to be honest, I wish the whole film could have been played with silence considering it would have made the film seem a lot more realistic, which is obviously what the film was trying to go for.

The last part also feels rushed and ends on a pretty weak note. There were a lot of aspects of Brown’s life that were sort of left out and other parts that were random. We randomly get short bits of Brown holding a paintbrush as well as typing away on his type-writer, but never anything else added on to those scenes. This may seem like a strange complaint but I just wish they at least took their time with showing Brown’s later-life, instead of just getting past all of this in a hurry so they could at least say that they tried to end the film on a solid and emotional note.

The real reason why this film works is because of the perfect performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown, who also won an Oscar for his performance. To say Day-Lewis is amazing, would be understatement, this is probably one of the best performances of a handicapped person in any film, and that is a long long list. Every chance he gets, Day-Lewis just brings out the raw emotion that seems to have always be built up in Christy Brown and takes what we usually see of mentally/physically handicapped person and make him seem more like a human-being that won’t stop doing whatever he wants to do against all odds. I honestly don’t think they could have gotten a better performance if they casted another person who actually had cerebral palsy. He is THAT good.

Brenda Fricker is also great as his mom and gives her performance a lot of depth and warmth that all mommy roles should have no matter what. Did I keep on thinking about the pigeon lady from ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ whenever I saw her? Yes, but it still didn’t mean her performance didn’t deserve the statue that she got.

Consensus: There were moments in this film that seemed a bit predictable, but thanks to Sheridan’s way of creating a realistic, precise, and inspirational story, mixed with the amazing performance from Day-Lewis, is what makes this film a must-see. In other words: I liked it.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

At Close Range (1986)

How mad at Daddy can you get to the point of where you want to kill him?

Reunited with his career criminal father (Christopher Walken) for the first time in years, tough teen Brad Whitewood Jr. (Sean Penn) thinks he’s found his ticket to an exciting life of crime, only to learn that his amoral father is more vicious than young Brad ever imagined.

The film started off as if it were adapted from one of those “young-adult” novels that shows alienated youth doing all of the things they think are cool and rebellious, which really had me feeling as if I was in store for something that would really annoy the hell out of me. Things don’t start to pick-up until Walken comes into play, then the film is all balls-to-the-walls.

Director James Foley does a great job with this real-life story that took place in my state of Pennsylvania (woot-woot!) and give a real beauty to it. There are some real magnificent shots here with the corn-rows looking so detailed that it actually made me hungry, the night shots feel like the moon is right over them, and almost lake, stream, or river reflects some sort of sun-light which gives this gorgeousness in how the film looks which preps us for all of the dirty crap that goes down in the last two acts of the film.

There is a lot of violence that goes down and a lot of disturbing things that happen, especially a rape scene that really had me cringing but none of it ever felt forced. I mean this is a true story so they have to get all of the facts right but all of the shootings, the killings, and non-stop murders felt realistic and needed to show the pure harshness that lied within this film’s subject matter. This was very controversial back in 1986, but the times have changed and there has been a lot worse we’ve seen but this film really packs on the violence and it works.

The film also has a nice central-story that develops as time goes on. The story is all about how this one kid, Brad, will stop at nothing to just be loved and gain the respect from his father, so by doing all of these criminal-like jobs he think that he will easily become daddy’s little boy. However, the dad never allows this and it shows the real sadness that Brad goes through not being able to fully live up to his father and even yet, still knows what’s right and what’s wrong. This story may seem a little bit sad and very depressing but Brad is a good character to begin with and I think as time goes on his story starts to become richer and richer.

The problem that lies within this story is where Foley is trying to take this story’s central theme. In the beginning of the flick, all of the kids are all about violence, guns, and crime but then they soon find out the hard way that it’s all fun and games until someone loses their head. The film itself basically strikes down against the use of guns/violence in society but then by the end when everything starts to get ultra violent and criminal, apparently the film is all about using guns for the murder of another person. I didn’t understand where this film was trying to go with it’s theme but to be brutally honest, it kind of lost me.

Another problem with this flick is the ending itself which seems to be totally and utterly ridiculous that somehow somewhere, it made me actually believe it could happen. *SPOILER ALERT* In the end of the flick, Brad and his girl Terry get shot up by these two gun-men and while Terry is basically dead right on impact,Terry is somehow still left alive, walking, and have enough energy to go in the shower and rinse off a bit. This seemed so idiotic to me that I could actually believe that something like this could actually happen, but when the film was over I was sort of left just knowing that it’s just a film, that is based on true events.

The real reason to see this film is the performances by these two power-houses. Sean Penn is great as Brad because he shows him the scary side to his character but also the morally-intact side that allows us to stand behind and root him on as he goes through all of these problems with his father and just life in general. Penn never lets loose of Brad once and plays all of the sadness and vulnerability so well that he seems like a real-life human being.

Christopher Walken is absolutely brilliant as Brad Sr., the cocky and evil criminal father. Walken takes over just about every scene he’s in, giving us this intimidating and restless figure of a person that you do not want to eff with. Walken is so good at playing likable that you don’t know whether or not to love this guy, or hate the very near-sight of him. Obviously Brad Sr.’s actions show how we should feel but its really Walken who shines through with this villain that just bleeds mean.

Consensus: The point of At Close Range may get lost in the very end of the film, but the story is engaging, the sights and shots look stunning, and the performances from Walken and Penn are what make worth your while, even though it can get extremely violent at times.

7/10=Rental!!

Little Children (2006)

A pedophile and a red-hot affair don’t really mix.

Two stay-at-home parents (Patrick Wilson and Kate Winslet) both end up striking affair after they both realize how bored they are with their own actual lives at home. Then another story happens where a convicted sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley) moves back into his house and is soon harassed by almost every person he sees.

This is the sophomore effort from writer/director Todd Field, who some will remember from the big-smash he made back in 2001 with ‘In the Bedroom’. Somehow, he took that similar story mixed it with some ‘American Beauty’ satire and divided it with a hint of ‘The Woodsman’, then he got this crazy flick.

The film starts off very strong with these two immature parents who obviously don’t know what to do with their lives except just nag each other and hope that all their depression and angst goes away. I dug this beginning because the film showed these characters in a very interesting light while also focusing on the fact that it’s telling us that these adults are just like kids in some ways, they both forget the responsibilities they have in the world and they go with their gut-feeling rather than just using their heads.

A lot of people complained about the whole narrator from PBS thing so much that when I heard it in this film, I couldn’t say that I was too bothered. Yeah, he does spell out everything a little too much but there are times when his narration actually makes a lot of this moments in this film a lot more entertaining then they have any right to be. It seems as if he is reading a children’s story to us, like one of those audio-tapes you would get for a book if you didn’t know how to read, and it really divides the line between what’s funny and what’s sad in this film. I found myself laughing at some of the things that the narrator was saying, while others, I didn’t know how to feel.

The main problem that lies within this film is that it is very very messy because it constantly shifts back-and-forth between these two stories and they shouldn’t be in the same film together either really. There would be moments where the film would just focus on the suburbanites and their affair for a very long period of time, and then randomly go to the peddy without any real reason other than to show this dude who has obvious problems. Both stories are pretty interesting in their own rights but together, they can’t really share the same screen considering that after awhile the “affair story” becomes the same thing over-and-over again whereas the “pedophile story” becomes a lot more interesting as the time goes on. I think I would have rather watched two different films of these stories rather than just one because it wouldn’t have been so messy.

I do think Field as a writer is very talented but there are times where I think he loses himself with trying to be too smart, which I know is a weird thing to say but just bare with me peeps.. There are moments here when Wilson and Winslet are getting it on and Winslet will constantly ask him, “Is she pretty?”, she meaning his wife. She doesn’t only just ask this once but also many other times during whoopie and this to me seemed very unbelievable as some chick would just constantly ask the dude who’s mounting her about his own wife. There are also plenty of other moments where this film doesn’t feel all that realistic but not worth mentioning.

Everything with this film is all pretty messy until the last act, where the film really loses itself with the shock-o-riffic ending that seems more put-on than anything. I don’t want to give anything away really but I think Field tried a little too hard to convey these certain types of emotions for these characters to the point of where this ending came up, and it probably looked good on paper, but when it came to actually filming it up on the screen, it seemed very dumb.

The cast is very good though despite all of these other problems with the film. Kate Winslet is great as the conflicted house-wife, Sarah, and Patrick Wilson has never been more charming or conflicted as Brad. Jennifer Connelly is good as Brad’s wife, Kathy, but I wish there was more of her that gave more of her side on things. Granted, we get a scene here and there but I really did feel like her character could have done a lot more for this film if they included her just a little bit more considering Connelly is such a good actress as well.

The best out of the bunch though is probably Jackie Earle Haley as the pedophile who plays up that man-child act so well that it’s almost too hard to hate this guy when he’s being such a dirt-ball. I mean yeah, he’s a dirty dude that I would never have over for dinner around my kids but he’s also a very troubled soul that wants nothing more but to be accepted once again and feels the need to fit in, mainly because his mommy says so. Haley is great here and just by looking at him, you get the sense that this is a sad and tormented soul.

Consensus: Little Children has some good elements, such as its good acting and very strong beginning, but then starts to fall apart with being too repetitive, too unbelievable, and just by having two different stories that don’t really mesh all that well in the same film.

5/10=Rental!!

Megamind (2010)

A big-blue testicle vs. Brad Pitt.

A big-brained and blue super-villain named Megamind (Will Ferrell) finally beats his big-time rival, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). He soon then faces an existential crisis of sorts after he finds out that having no superhero at all to stop him from evil-wrong doings, is actually pretty boring. So, he creates a new enemy (Jonah Hill) who seeks to destroy the world, forcing Megamind to play the hero role for once in his life.

After checking out ‘Despicable Me’ for the first time earlier this year, basically everybody started comparing that to this film, making me want to see it even more. So now that I’ve seen it, all yo guys can shut yo mouths!

What really works with this film is that it touches just about every single plot-line, cliche, and convention that comes with a superhero comic-book story. You got everything from the smart villain, to the goofy-looking costumes, and whole lot more other elements that are not left untouched and that’s where the real fun of this film comes from. The film sort of pokes fun at everything we know of these superhero stories and twist them around in their own cool and original ways to be their own story.

The film is funny, but not in the way that you would expect from an animated-flick rated PG, it’s actually pretty adult-like. The humor is pretty witty with a lot of in-jokes, pop cultural references, but even enough jokes for kids that they will understand and laugh at but not as much as the parents. I actually found myself laughing quite a bit with this flick because the whole idea was cool right from the beginning, but how the film itself just tops on that with constant references, originality, and adult-like humor is what really made it work.

There is also a lot to look at here because the flick is beautiful and gets even better when the action is there too. The colors are very bright and vibrant but how colors will come and go in the middle of one action sequence is pretty cool. The music here is also pretty fun with a lot of old-school classics from AC/DC, ELO, Guns N Roses, Michael Jackson, and whole lot more to give this film the extra kick of fun it has.

My problem with this film is that the story is sort of what we always see in any superhero film, but when the film itself starts to dive right into those conventions it’s a little bit more disappointing. This film practically makes fun of these conventions so much that when it starts to hit into them by the end, it kind of left me bummed. The laughs also started to come less and less which had me bummed even more.

Will Ferrell is a lot of fun as Megamind because his character is not just evil, but he’s also very sensitive and likable which this film really worked well on with that character; Tina Fey is smart, funny, feisty, and a little sexy as Roxanne Ritchi, aka Lois Lane; David Cross is also very funny as Minion, Megamind’s second-man/thing-in-command; and Brad Pitt is awesome as Metro Man, who is the perfect combination of Elvis, Jesus, and Superman all rolled up into one hunk.

Jonah Hill is also pretty fun as Tighten but the problem with this character is that he is almost exactly like Syndrome from ‘The Incredibles’. Think about it for a second: both used to be good guys, they were both twisted into being villains by the good guys, and they both go insane-o in the end. You don’t realize this right from the get-go but once you start to think about it because it’s all the same disappointing as the ending itself.

Consensus: It may lose some steam by the end but Megamind is still a whole lot of fun due to its humor that pokes fun at all of the conventions of the superhero genre, it’s voices that are obviously having a ball, and the constant energy that this film keeps throughout the whole flick.

7/10=Rental!!

This Means War (2012)

Maybe if these guys sang some Johnny Cash, they would have won her over easily.

The world’s deadliest CIA operatives (Tom Hardy and Chris Pine) are inseparable partners and best friends until they fall for the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). Having once helped bring down entire enemy nations, they are now employing their incomparable skills and an endless array of high-tech gadgetry against their greatest nemesis ever – each other.

From afar, this actually looks like a pretty fun flick with a clever premise, a ‘True Lies’ feel to it, and three reliable leading stars. However, it’s such a shame to see all of that go down the tubes when you have a crap director like McG. That’s right McG. The d-bag that single-handedly killed the ‘Terminator’ series.

The film begins with another shitty McG action sequence that is loud, stupid, unneeded, and cartoonish to the point of where I couldn’t believe anything going on and also to the point of where I couldn’t even tell either because McG felt the need to move the camera around constantly just to add more of a crazy feel to it. The action isn’t a constant in this flick but when it does happen, it looks poor. I know they spent a lot of moolah on this flick, but I have no idea as to why the hell they would considering none of it went to the budget.

To be honest, I think half of it went to the THREE writers they had for this flick and I’m definitely thinking that one of them still hasn’t graduated 5th grade yet. The film tries so hard to be funny within the first 15 minutes with all of the fart, sex, and dick jokes that never hit the mark at all. It also sucks because this film borrows from so many other flicks that after awhile it’s just too hard to imagine this flick as its own, original self, and more as a parody flick that takes all of these ideas from other movies and puts them into one for shits and gigs. The problem here is that they’re very serious.

The comedy was terrible here (except for one scene that has to do with paint-ball), which is a given, but it’s when the flick tried to be all serious and mushymushy is where it really made me ticked off. First off, doesn’t anybody think it’s a little weird that these dudes are basically sharing a girlfriend? These guys are best friends and decide to play a little game but I don’t know why anybody would ever want to get sloppy seconds, let alone, your own best friends’. I know that some people out there actually do put down bets on this sort of thing to see who can sleep with the chick first but they aren’t even doing that, they’re waiting to see who she loves first which is pretty cruel and sadistic. The sad part of this flick is that the film’s tone is really playful and acting like this whole thing is a fun time even though anybody who would want to try to bet who can get a girl to love them first, is pretty much a total dick-headed thing to do no matter who you are.

However, it’s not only the guys that are playing this little game, she’s testing it out too and even though I am against that, I still couldn’t believe the fact that this flick tried to get us to feel something for her when everything is revealed to her. This is a chick that chose to two-time, get caught up in both of them, cheat on them both, and basically act like they’re the one, and we are supposed to feel something for this damn chick?!? I don’t care if you want to have fun going out with two guys at once, but don’t start crying about it when it comes right back to get you because that’s when you know that karma is a bitch and frankly, you deserve it.

As for this obviously talented cast, they are pretty much all wasted on a script that has no idea what they’re doing, other than trying way too hard. Tom Hardy is a very strange pick for a lead rom-com role as the sensitive but muscled, Tuck, and this guy tries his hardest, he really does, but I couldn’t help but think that this sort of role just doesn’t fit him at all. I just felt like Hardy was sleep-walking through this role and even though he still has that charm we all know and love him for, I couldn’t help but think that this sort of sweet and relaxed role, just isn’t the kind for the dude who walked around naked for about an hour-and-a-half, kicking the shit out of everybody in his way in ‘Bronson’. Chris Pine is here as FDR (whoever wrote this, definitely was in history class when they were writing this) and does what he always does which is be sly, cool, and sexy enough for all of the woman to want him. He doesn’t do anything different, but it’s not all that bad in the first place either.

Reese Witherspoon is once again playing that ditzy and super-cute blond chick role that she’s been doing in rom-com land for the past decade and she still is alright here as Lauren Scott. Even though this is nothing new for Witherspoon and her chemistry with both is OK (her and Pine is probably better), I still feel like she deserves a meaty enough role for her because she has shown in the past that when she gets those sort of roles, she can do a superb job, but she just hasn’t really had them for the longest time so I guess we’ll have to put up with more of these shitty rom-coms from now on. Probably the best part of this flick was Chelsea Handler as her best friend, and she made me laugh the most with all of her constant jokes and one-liners. I definitely think with a smart script Handler could get her own leading role, but then again, that seems very far-fetched.

Consensus: Even though the leads try their hardest, This Means War fails in almost everything such as a bad direction from a dude nobody likes as it is, a script that feels like it was written in some 12-year old’s journal, and a premise that may be all fun and games when it first starts, has a very dark and mean feel to it deep down inside. Then again though, maybe I’m just a weirdo.

1.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Space Cowboys (2000)

Grumpy Old Astronauts.

When one of the satellites launched in the 1960s malfunctions, threatening the earth with disaster if it crashes, an astronaut in his sixties (Clint Eastwood) is asked to go up to fix it, as he’s the only one familiar enough with the old technology.  He agrees under one condition that three of his pilot buddies from the old days (Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner) who were overlooked by the astronaut training program get to come along for this one last flight.

Right from the beginning, this film already had problems showing with its terrible black-and-white opening prologue in which four young men all speak with these old actor’s voices, that are apparently so obvious. So as you can see, a man who is in a very peak physical condition sounds like a 70-year old who’s been dipping, chewing, and smoking his whole life. However, it got better after this.

Clint Eastwood does a good job here of keeping this film moving at a slow enough pace to have us actually see all of the obstacles you have to go through for such a high-profile mission like this one, and also enough time to have us build characters to where we can actually feel something for these dudes. It’s a relatively slow film, but coming from Eastwood, I’ve seen a lot worse.

Let me also not to forget about how beautiful and amazing the special effects look as well. Thinking that this is an Eastwood film, who is very old at this time and doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to go for a sci-fi film with great special effects, but somehow he ends up making this film look like these guys are actually in space after all. From the stars, to the moon, to the other planets, and even to the spaceship itself, everything looks real and beautiful and makes space this piece of art that you always imagine about but barely ever see in most films.

The problem with this film though is the fact that it’s script is pretty lame. Everything that happens here is all pretty cliche and you know exactly how its going to pan-out, even with the last act. Sometimes this doesn’t matter, as long as the film makes you enjoy yourself and take you away from the cliches, but here, too much of my enjoyment was centered on whether or not I could tell what was going to happen next and judging by the way this film was going, I knew exactly what was to happen. I couldn’t get into this film too much especially the last act where the whole film relies on the suspense element, even though we all know how it’s going to end anyway.

I also feel like the film never knew how to play with this silly plot. The twist of the premise here is that these guys are all old cooks, which could be a lot of fun in a not-so serious way, but the film can’t decide whether or not it wants to take this path or just play the plot straight. The gags were pretty funny but none of it ever seemed like it was genuine enough for the plot, and just used as a way to show us how cooky and goofy these old dudes actually were.

As for Eastwood the actor, he’s pretty good here as Frank Corvin; Tommy Lee Jones is also great at his usual miserable-like character, Hawk Hawkins (what a name); James Garner and Donald Sutherland are both very fun to watch as the other two old dudes as well. The performances aren’t bad and you can tell that they’re all having a lot of fun with these roles but Sutherland and Garner never really get that much attention when it comes to character development, which kind of bothered me. I would have liked to see all of these characters for who they are, so that when it came to a life-or-death situation, I could really root for them except just the two.

Consensus: Space Cowboys has some beautiful special effects, and a cast that looks like their obviously having a whole lot of fun, but there are moments where this film sort of just falls apart due to the predictable plot, and the way the film doesn’t know how to actually approach this plot.

5/10=Rental!!

Jackass: The Movie (2002)

Hey, they may be mentally challenged by now but they still are richer than you or I will ever be.

‘Jackass: The Movie’ is basically all of the stunts that these bunch of dickwads used to do on their show, except now they have a bigger budget, more exposure, and more freedom to do whatever the hell it is they want. Their pain is our enjoyment, and it is totally awesome.

Whenever I was little and would hang out with my sissy, she would always somehow have this on the tube and I could not help but watch. I always remember just watching these dudes do some incredibly crazy shit like throw a blue ball around a circle of dudes in their undies, trying to all hit their balls or beat the shit out of each other in a grocery store. Oh, the sweet sweet memories.

I can easily this stuff isn’t for everyone, especially the older and more sophisticated crowd, but sometimes you can’t go wrong with how these guys are. It’s funny when somebody gets hurt, on purpose or by accident, until that person is in a coma and not even breathing. Still though, watching a dude get hit it the nuts with a basketball is still pretty funny. Come on, who doesn’t appreciate a nice little nut-shot every once and awhile.

Everything they do here is all pretty funny and very disgusting but it’s a lot better because they are able to do more things, since it is a movie now. Since they don’t have the TV censors anymore, they can practically do anything they want like a dude stick a car up his bootie-hole, or put a muscle stimulator on their gooches. It’s dirty and gross but it’s incredibly hilarious to watch. But there are some other stunts where they guys are just walking around some place and effin’ with all of the people around them and they are probably the funniest things in the film.

My only down-fall with this film is that I have honestly seen this film about 20 times, on TV or actual movie, but it starts to get a little old after seeing it so many times. I watched this by myself after finding it somewhere in my DVD cabinet, but probably watching it with friends is a lot better then just sitting there watching this for the hundredth time. Don’t get me wrong, I always have fun watching this film or any of these dudes’ shenanigans, it just doesn’t really hold you over when you watched it more times than you can count.

I think what is the best part about this film is how much of a simple and genius idea it actually was. There’s no such thing as a script, no such thing as acting, and there’s nothing you can actually judge this film on other then whether or not it’s actually funny, which I can assure you it is. But the real “art” to ‘Jackass’, if there ever was one, is the fact that anybody could have went out there and punched themselves in the face or get run over a bike, however, these guys actually did that and made a movie, therefore, making tons and tons of money. These guys were sort of the first people to ever bring something like this to the movie theaters and it works incredibly well because it just shows you how the times are changing and people just like to see other people getting hurt. It was a million dollar idea and that’s why Bam, Johnny, Steve-O, Pontius, and all of the others are living in their huge mansions probably swimming in dolla’ billz. Lucky bastards.

Consensus: Jackass: The Movie is not for every one, but the people who it is for will always laugh their ass off at all of the stunts, no matter how crude, rude, sick, or disgusting they may be.

7/10=Rental!!

Fun Fact: The golf course that they destroy in this film is actually about 5 minutes away from me, and I went there about a month before these dudes came in and knocked it down. Assholes.

Safe House (2012)

Van Wilder ain’t got shit on me!

Denzel Washington plays the CIA’s most dangerous traitor, Tobin Frost, who stuns the intelligence community when he surfaces in South Africa. When the safe house to which he’s remanded is attacked by brutal mercenaries, a rookie (Ryan Reynolds) is forced to help him escape.

Heyoooo everybody! So I got this new review up and running but once again it’s not here, it’s on another website called “Philmalot!”. It’s a big movie site for all Philadelphia-area writers and it’s a site that I’m proud to say that I have started writing for even though there’s been plenty of them.

Anywhoo, go on over to the site and check my review out, show me some love by putting a little something something in the comments, and just go on over and check the rest of the site out because it’s pretty rad. Check out the link here:

http://philmalot.com/2012/02/14/film-review-safe-house/

Thanks everybody! Happy buy your woman something really expensive day!!

 

River’s Edge (1986)

Those damn Metal head stoners are always killing those girls for no reason.

A troubled high school slacker, Samson (Daniel Roebuck), kills his girlfriend for no particular reason and shows off her dead body to his friends Layne (Crispin Glover) and Matt (Keanu Reeves), whose reactions vary about whether to involve the police.

After watching ‘Bully’ a long long time ago, I realized that there were more stories like that one out there, and it soon started to make me realize something: Teens love to kill people.

Writer Neal Jimenez does a very good job at showing these kids as none other than complete alienated misfits, that don’t really have any effect from a murder of one of their own friends. You get the real idea that these kids have no idea what to do or even think after this shocking murder has just happened, and it seems like they also don’t even really care. This is a little shocking no matter how many years go by, but that can’t be said about the rest of the film.

Even though this film starts off very strong, it really starts to fall apart pretty easily. The plot goes into places that seem totally ridiculous because of actually focusing on this disturbing story at hand, we start to go into a pretty cheesy teen-romance, a 12 year-old (who is terribly annoying) looking for a gun, Crispin Glover running all-over-the-place talking like a mental patient, and Dennis Hopper talking about a blow-up sex-doll as if it has been his wife for the past 30 years. I’m all down for a little bit of creepiness here and there but the real story at hand, seemed so much more interesting than what any of these little annoying sub-plots or happenings even showed.

The gritty look of it has something to be admired, but many times I felt like the film could have been so much better with it’s real portrayal of these punk kids in a suburban town. These kids don’t give a damn at all, which was understood by about the 20-minute mark, but to have the whole film go on and not shed any light on the murder, why it happened, and what these kids are going to do to get by it, seemed pretty dumb to me. These kids are alienated from the rest of the world around them, I get it, but please show me something that can actually glue me into the story rather than just drag me along.

However, when I looked down on everything, I thought about the cast and that’s kind of when I eased up a bit since there are some real good performances here. Keanu Reeves plays his usual dumb-ass role here as Matt, but he does a great job with this character and gives a lot of his more emotional scenes, a believability that this character needed to actually work. Ione Sky is alright as Clarissa but I never understood why she’s so remarkable as a female character; Daniel Roebuck is a little weird as our killer for the hour and 39 minutes, John; and Dennis Hopper is great as Feck, this total nutty drug-dealer that holds on to a blow-up doll like I mentioned before, but the catch here is that he’s the good guy in this whole film.

The best performance from the whole cast is probably the one and only Crispin Glover as Layne, the total speed-freak that takes this whole film over with every scene he gets. Glover does a great job with this character because he’s doped out on his pills and weirdness that when it comes down to something real and dramatic like this murder, he doesn’t know what to do and panics every chance he has. Glover is perfect at creating this character that’s a little nutty, mean, raw, but also very emotionally attached to the world around him and was my favorite thing about this film.

Consensus: River’s Edge has some nice bleak touches on teenage society that may seem disturbing to most, but as the film transcends, it turns into this ludicrous, silly, and otherwise lame way of trying to get an interesting story out there that should have been more gripping. Check out ‘Bully’ instead.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Top 10 of 2011

Howdy everybody! Sorry that it took me forever to get this list up and running but for some reason, I just have been so lazy that I keep on forgetting. Anywho, 2011 was a pretty solid none the less and I saw so many damn films. Of course, some were better than others but if I have to give my final consensus on the year of 2011, I would have to say “nice”. Now, onto the list:

10. We Need to Talk About Kevin

A flick that’s very hard to watch at times and provided me with the scary fact that I could be sitting right next to a kid that’s like Kevin everyday in class, and just not know it. Also showed me that Tilda Swinton is a great actress and not just one-note.

9. Shame

Definitely one of the more controversial films of the year and with good reason. The sex scenes stay in your mind forever, Fassbender lets all hang-out (in more ways than one), and it also marks my first NC-17 viewing.

8. Super 8

My first 9/10 for the year and definitely one of the better Summer blockbusters I saw all year. Brought me back to the good old days and made me happy to say that I could definitely see a younger version of myself in the fat kid. He was awesome.

7. The Muppets

One of the better comedies of the year without ever being mean, insulting, or dirty in any way. Also made me realize how much I missed these guys and also that Chris Cooper can sure as hell rap.

6. Take Shelter

A film that took a premise that is pretty simple, and made it even more tense, mysterious, and a hell of a lot more realistic than I could ever imagine. I also hope that this makes Michael Shannon one step closer to being a house-hold name because he definitely gives one of the better performances of the year.

5. Bellflower

Really impressive debut that shows you can still make a great flick, even if you aren’t backed by any any major studio from Hollywood, which in turn, made me realize that maybe I could make my own flick with my buds but maybe not as effed up as this one.

4. I Saw the Devil

Tense from start to finish, awesome action sequences, and a story that just got better and better with every twist it threw in there. In short: Koreans are some effed up people.

3. Young Adult

Really surprised by how much I liked this because Mavis Gary was a total bitch but somehow Charlize Theron made me sympathize with her. It was also great to see that Diablo Cody could actually make a script without using lingo like “WTF” or other hip lingo.

2. The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick took forever to get this flick done and with good reason because it’s one of his best that brought me along with the emotional story and the beautiful images he always supplies. Still had no idea what were with those dinosaurs though.

1. 50/50

The one film that made me laugh, feel emotional, and tear up like a little girl during the last 10 minutes. Definitely my favorite flick of the year without a doubt and it’s a shame that this didn’t get a single Oscar but when I think about it, it doesn’t matter because everybody because these are also the same dudes who nominated ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ for Best Picture. Dumb asses.

Frost/Nixon (2008)

I would have definitely liked it more if they interviewed the Nixon from Futurama.

This is a period piece, that centers on little-known talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), who goes way out of his way to interview probably one of the most controversial and famous presidents of all-time, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). This is the story of how those interviews went.

I really didn’t know too much about the Frost/Nixon interviews other than the fact that they both were interviews between two dudes. Goes to show you how much I paid attention in history class after all. Surprisingly though, this is not a history lesson and more of a film about the two dudes who were in these famous series of interviews together.

Director Ron Howard really gives it his all with this film because of the way he makes these interviews seem less like actual interviews and more like a boxing match of words between two famous figures. Howard keeps the tension building up and up on these interviews and gives us enough character development to realize just how much both of these people need these interviews. One for fame, the other for forgiveness and setting the record straight.

Another great element to this film that makes it so damn watchable is that it’s script is very very good with a lot intelligence, wit, and small doses of humor to keep us laughing and entertained. It’s basically a “talking heads” film where you just watch a whole bunch of people talk without anything really happening, but it’s a very fun one that relies solely on the fact that it can keep people glued into what Frost is going to ask, and what Nixon is going answer with. I never actually saw the play that this is based off of but apparently everything is taken verbatim which makes the transition from stage to screen even better.

The problem with this film that keeps it away from being anything perfect or amazing like it could have easily been is that I feel like Howard could have really went out-of-bounds with this film. Granted, this is a very small film where there isn’t really a lot happening other than these two guys talking but I feel like there could have been more of how the nation felt about these interviews, and more about other characters that are just sort of there.

I also never understood why Howard have the actors who portrayed these actual people, come off and randomly narrate what was happening and why. I feel like the film is trying to give a sort of documentary feel when in reality it could have just stayed away from that or even used the real-life people itself. We all know who the actors are and who the real people are, so there’s no need to trying to show us otherwise.

Michael Sheen is a lot of fun to watch as David Frost because this guy is sometimes at the lowest points of his life, but no matter what keeps a big olde smile on his face. Sheen reminds me of that very cheeky, very corny, but always funny British guy that always seems to think he’s better than everybody, and usually is depending on who you are talking. However, this film really does belong to the one and only Frank Langella as Richard Nixon.

Even though he doesn’t look like Nixon, Langella probably does the best performance/impersonation of the man that any other actor has ever done in their whole lives. Yes, Anthony Hopkins has played Nixon too, Langella is THAT GOOD. You notice the physical differences within the first 5 minutes but then you totally got lost in this guy because he really just sells this whole conflicted, and tormented soul that knows what he did was wrong but he can’t get past it with everyone around him always breathing down his neck. There is some pretty wild stuff that Langella does as Nixon, such as losing his temper like a 7 year-old would do if his mommy didn’t buy him ice cream, but it’s totally easy to see why Langella got nominated for an Oscar and hopefully he keeps on getting better roles from now on.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t achieve greatness, Frost/Nixon is still a great flick with two great performances, a clever script, and a direction from Howard that keeps this film tense and on its toes.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Vow (2012)

First Ryan Gosling saves her, now Channing Tatum does. Lucky ass chick!

Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum star as Paige and Leo, a recently married couple whose lives are devastated by a tragic car accident. When Paige loses all memory of her relationship with her husband, Leo vows to do whatever it takes to make her fall in love with him all over again.

Ever since ‘The Notebook’ came out, studios have been gunning for that one flick that can make as many chicks and dudes (yes, admit it, guys) cry as that one did. Sadly, none of them have even came close. But I guess it took one-half of that film and a dude that can shake his ass off to come the closest to surpassing.

Director Michael Sucsy doesn’t really bring much new to this whole weepy and romantic drama genre that we all have seen done for the past 6 years, but it’s the writing and premise that makes it work. The premise is definitely something that seems like it was adapted right from a Nicholas Sparks novel, but it’s actually based on a true-story and it’s that genuine feel that made me believe in some of the more melodramatic moments. But then for all we know ‘Dear John’ and even ‘The Last Song’ could have been based on real stories, but then again, those films don’t quite have as much as this flick does.

The writers obviously aren’t doing too much to this premise to change it up and make it all of a sudden become something like a cross between ‘Memento’ and ’50 First Dates’ but it still has its cute moments that are always backed up by some funny ones as well. The film takes itself seriously but never too seriously to the point of where I wanted there to actually be some sort of fun here. There is a little playful and joking feel to it which made it a lot more easier to actually stay in this film and laugh every once and awhile, rather than cringe at all the cliches. And woahhhhh crap, did I mention the cliches!??!

The film is very predictable, corny, and cheesy which may sound kind of weird considering I just got done praising elements of it but there are still those eye-rolling moments that started taking over the flick. There was a pretty good amount of time where this film seemed to actually be working well for me but then when the started getting into the more weepier montages/moments than the film started to lose my interest. Then again, this is the sort of stuff that many, many ladies will swoon over and the guys will sort of just be left in the dust, but that’s usually expected with these types of films.

One of my biggest problems with this film was that with a premise like this, there could have been so many different themes and messages that this film could have explored on its own but instead, just talked about briefly and left up in the air. One of the most important themes of this film was how people change over time which is evident in how Paige first started off as this yuppie, rich-girl then changed to this hip, and funky fresh Chi-town gal. This was pretty cool to see in a film that showed a person in two different ways since this happens in real-life but instead of actually giving that topic any type of insight whatsoever, the flick just skates over it and leaves it hanging. Pretty disappointing but I guess I was just expecting a little bit too much from a Tatum-McAdams love flick.

Rachel McAdams is given a lot more of the showy things to do in this flick as Paige, but she does a good job with it all. She goes throughout the film all confused and whatnot, so when she starts to actually show two different sides of her, it seems believable but then again she is sort of playing the same character that she did in ‘The Notebook’, except she’s forgetting things at an earlier age. Since McAdams is basically trying to piece together her whole life, it’s up to Channing Tatum as Leo to pick the slack up and give a good enough performance to actually have us follow his character, which he does. Tatum does a good job at keeping this performance believable, subtle, and very relaxed to where he didn’t have to do anything all that emotional but even when he does, it seems realistic. Both of them also have a good chemistry which is another reason why this romance, as well as this flick works in more ways than I expected.

The supporting cast is also pretty good. Sam Neill is great at playing that sinister and smarmy character he usually plays as Paige’s daddy; Jessica Lange plays her mommy and doesn’t do much until this little, dramatic monologue where she lets her true emotions out and it’s a really good scene mainly because Lange is able to pull off scenes like this; and Scott Speedman is good as the ex-fiancé of Paige, but damn does he need to lay off the hair gel!

Consensus: The Vow features plenty of those predictable, cheesy, and utterly sappy moments that occur in these types of romance flicks but with a fun script, good performances, and some nice touches to the whole formula itself, there’s a lot more to keep your mind off of this stuff and just focus on the romance at-hand.

5/10=Rental!!

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