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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 (2009)

Glad we all died this year!

With the Mayan calendar ending in 2012, a large group of people must deal with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers.

Director Roland Emmerich stated that this was going to be his last “disaster flick” and since he already did ones like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, you can tell he needed to go out with a total bang. So you know what that means: more people dying, more destruction, more shit blowing-up, more corny one-liners, and more special effects to eat-up, and shit-out like an all-you-can-eat, Chinese buffet.

Everything I just described up there may make this seem like another piss-poor attempt at trying to just throw a bunch of dollhairs at the screen, in hopes that it will actually make most of it back, and then some, but it actually makes this film a lot of fun because Emmerich knows he isn’t trying to make some piece of “art”. It’s not one of those flicks that makes you think twice about the world we live in, what could happen, how it could happen, and nor is he trying to make a film that’s going to make a run for Best Picture. He’s just trying to make a movie where the Earth, the beautiful world we all love and live in, goes, “BOOM! CRASH! BANG! SPLAT!”, and everybody else suffers because of it. It’s pretty fun, and sometimes exciting to see what Emmerich puts into this type of destruction and the special effects look pretty good, for the most part. Other times, they look like something that came straight out of GTA: Apocalypse but you have to give this movie the benefit of the doubt: showing the world blow up in every which way possible, is a pretty hard thing to pull off. And it’s definitely something that Emmerich shows total joy and glee in doing-so.

Actual, real-life footage taken from the Weather Channel.

Actual, real-life footage taken from the Weather Channel. Seriously, just ask Rolan Emmerich.

Still, whenever the destruction wasn’t going down, this film tried it’s hardest to give us some melodrama that just didn’t work and made me laugh more than anything else. The screenplay is obviously terrible and of course, we get all the same old melodramatic speeches and corny-ass catch-phrases that show up here but what bothered me more about this writing was that it was way too predictable for my taste. The whole story about Cusack saving his family from every line of death imaginable is all good and fun to watch, but there’s so many coincidences here, that I wondered just how this guy didn’t break a leg, a hand, an wrist, a shoulder, a tibia, a collar-bone, or any type of bone in his body, for that matter. Hell, the guy actually drives a limo through a volcanic eruption and he barely even gets a scratch on his cheek, let alone, a scratch on the fine set of wheels he’s been trucking around this hell-whole full of destruction. I don’t want it to seem like I wanted to see the guy perish in the first earthquake, but I thought him, as well as plenty others, just got by without anything really bad happening to them whatsoever and it was a little too unrealistic and too obvious for me to really just let slide-by and act as if it’s not really happening in-front of my eyes. I know, I’m hating on a Roland Emmerich film for not being realistic, but I just couldn’t get my head past it.

Watching places like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Yellowstone National Park get blown up into tiny little pieces and get sucked into the ocean is pretty cool to watch, but I could only imagine how a person would feel had they actually lived there. There was no mention or scenes showing Philadelphia being destroyed, but I would think that if they had, I would feel pretty sad about it because that’s my home and just the thought of everything around me, anything I ever knew, and every person I ever met, being killed instantly would put me in a total bummer of a mood. It also started to hurt me once Emmerich started showing all of Vatican City being thrashed up and made me think: why would you want to kill the Pope in a movie like this? I get it, it’s realistic that him and plenty of other holy people would die in catastrophic events like this, but really!?! Of all people to show being killed in the Apocalypse  you’re going to show the Pope and all of his followers? Did you even need to show that, or could it just have been implied? Just bad taste, that’s all and a bit too extreme for a popcorn flick.

"I'm getting way too old for this Apocalypse shit."

“I’m getting way too old for this Apocalypse shit.”

Also, why the hell did this film need to go on for 2 hours and 40 minutes. I like disaster movies, but not when they can take up about 3 hours of my life and have me practically wasting my day, wondering just what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of it. And if that was the case, I would just watch a double feature of Emmerich’s last two disaster flicks and find more enjoyment out of them both than this junk. It actually got to a point of where I started dozing off by the end when this film decided to go all The Poseidon Adventure on us and it just goes to show you, that once you run-out of ideas about destroying the whole world, just go back, and try stealing from other movies, because nobody’s going to notice. They’re already wasting their times to see your dumb-ass movie, so screw em! Not my thoughts, they’re Emmerich’s and the other Hollywood producers who help him put-out this crap.

The film has a pretty huge cast that works fine with what they are given, but are pretty much wasted on such a shit script like this one here. John Cusack is pretty freakin’ awesome as our central hero, Jackson Curtis, mainly because he doesn’t over-do it one bit. He doesn’t take this role too serious, nor does he ever really freak-out whenever it seems like he and his family are going to perish just like the 95% rest of the world already has. He plays it cool and still has that great comedic timing that we all know and love him for, back from his Peter Gabriel listening days. And also, it’s about freakin’ time that we gave more, heroic-roles like these to Cusack because the dude’s got that, every-day-kind-of-guy look to him, that makes you want to stand-up, pat him on the back, and just cheer him on until he can’t go on no more. Thanks Roland Emmerich! Even if the rest of your movie sucks, at least you have Cusack the shot he so rightfully deserves!

Danny Glover plays the President (as you would assume) and does a pretty good job bringing out some emotions in a guy that I feel like I would blame all of this bad shit on in the first place (don’t know why, but I would probably just be mad); Woody Harrelson has a nice cameo as Charlie Frost, the bearded and dirty hippy that knows all about the end of the world and loves spreading it all out on the airwaves; Chiwetel Ejiofor is fine as the scientist with a heart, Adrian Helmsley, but he also seems a little too good for this ass-like material; Oliver Platt plays his usual “dickhead” role as top government official, Carl Anheuser, and just oozes the corruption; and Amanda Peet and Thandie Newton just stand there and look scared the whole time. Pretty fine bit of casting as everybody here have proven in other flicks, that they are some heavy-hitters. However, when Roland Emmerich gets ahold of them, they have nothing to do other than ham it up like it’s nobody’s business. That’s exactly what they do here and although it may have made their banking-accounts a bit more filled, it made me a bit more ashamed to see them all stoop this low. Oh well, each and every one of them have done something better since then, so I can’t complain too much.

Consensus: 2012 may remind you how much the end of the world is going to suck with its constant explosions, endless use of special effects, and cheesy-ass writing, but also isn’t as thrilling as you would expect from the dude who did Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. And yes, despite them not either of them being, written-down masterpieces, this one still should have been as fun as them.

3/10=Garbage!! 

Yup, the only two black people left on Earth are THIS good-looking.

Yup, the only two black people left on Earth are THIS good-looking.

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Bully (2012)

But honestly, what if I don’t have any money for lunch?

This is the story about kids, parents, and families, from all different walks of life, that all have to deal with the terrible issue that is very prominent, still, in today’s and age: bullying. Some kids still go through with it, some kids try to stop it, and others, failed and in-return, took their own lives instead.

You can’t hate a film for having nice intentions and most of all, you can’t hate a film for bringing a very important topic/subject to the screen that we’ve never really seen before. It’s sad and utterly disappointing to still think that in the 21st Century, we still have to deal with kids being bullied, parents not talking to their kids, teachers not helping-out, and kids getting so fed-up with it all, that they just decide to take their own lives. It’s very sad to know that bullying, an idea that has almost become so goofy now, is still alive and well in today’s schools, shows no end in sight, and is even worse now, mainly due to the fact of technology. Yup, it’s a sad, sad world we live in, and it’s even sadder that this flick couldn’t be the one to change the game.

The whole controversy about this flick coming-out a couple of months ago, was the fact that it only featured about 6 uses of the word “fuck” and was going to receive an R-rating. That’s pretty damn stupid, but then again, it’s the MPAA, they’re ancient, they’re prudes, and they don’t like the Weinsteins very much, so I’m not surprised. However, rather than making this a review about how the MPAA sucks and that this movie didn’t deserve to be hit with the R-rating, I’m just going to shy away and go back to what really matters: the movie itself.

I honestly would not want to mess with this kid.

I honestly would not want to mess with this kid.

For me, I have never really had to deal with bullying, mainly because I was always 6″-feet-tall, and never really had a problem with people that I didn’t already throw right back in their face. In return, I never bullied anyone, either, because quite frankly, it just wasn’t right, especially to the people who didn’t deserve it. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t at least notice some bullying throughout my days of schooling and what I did see, I didn’t like. Did I ever do anything about it? Not really, mostly because it never got to the point of where I felt like somebody was going to pull a desperate act of violence that would be harmful to the two and say what you will about that stance: it always ended up being exactly what I thought. But that doesn’t mean that bullying still isn’t happening around the world and what’s even worse, is how it’s not being stopped.

Director Lee Hirsch, has said that he was bullied when he was a kid and made this flick for all of those kids that have been bullied, and in a way, he’s given those poor-souls something to chew-on and open their eyes, even if just for a bit. What Hirsch captures on-camera, whether it is staged or not, is very disturbing and brutal, especially by the fact that how it goes on-and-on-and-on. Don’t get me wrong, this is not one of those flicks that just shows a bunch of kids getting thrown into lockers, getting on the bad end of swirlee, and coming home with their undies all stretched-out, but what we do see, definitely catches your eye and sort of has you in-disgust. It’s emotional and very eye-opening in the way that Hirsch captures all of this on-camera and never pans away. It definitely makes you feel more for the people this act of bullying is happen to, as if you didn’t already have sympathy for them before the movie even started.

People will say the same old cliche, “boys will be boys”, and as true as that may be, boys do not act like little assholes like this, get away with it, and act like it never happened again. They continue with their daily-lives and act like this forever, until they finally realize that they wasted their whole life on just being a little piece of crap towards other, weaker kids and it’s a very, very sad idea that I had going-on throughout my head the whole time. However, as these ideas were going through my head, I realized something: my ideas were probably a lot smarter than the ones this movie had going around.

Where I think Hirsch drops the ball is how he shows these kids being bullied and being tortured to the point of no return, then shows the people who try to stop it by telling other people to be nice and kind towards other. That’s a nice stance to take on with life, but when it comes to bullying: it isn’t. Think about it, if a kid who was being bullied just took it all of the time, didn’t say anything to his parents, and went-on about his day with no rhyme or reason as to why he’s being picked-on in the first-place, do you really think that kid is going to just solve it all and have all of that bullying go away, by simply being nice? Hell, no! I know that may come off as a bit insensitive and I am by no means, saying that taking acts of violence into your own hands is the way to go-about problems like bullying, but standing there, being nice, and keeping a smile on your face, will never, ever do the trick. That is unless, the smile you have on your face scares the shit out of the kids around you, then you won’t have to worry about no bullying whatsoever. Just a simple solution, I guess.

The stiff-arm! Blame the NFL for bullying, too!

The stiff-arm! Blame the NFL for bullying, too!

That idea of solving this problem doesn’t really seem fit to what’s really going on, out-there in the real-world but that’s not the only problem with the solution that Hirsch seems to draw-out from his paws. Hirsch’s biggest problem seems that he never really points the finger all that much at the people that are really responsible for this happening. Yes, we do get a couple of scenes where the teachers/principals act like a bunch of dumb-asses that act as if there is no such thing as bullying going on around their schools, but it’s not enough. It’s nice that we get to see the people that are hurt, understand why they are, and hopefully, think of a way to cure their pain, but the people that are responsible for all of that pain and anguish, should also be brought-up to the forefront, to the point of where we see clearly, why it is that bullying continues in the school-system.

That’s what also brings me onto my next point, in how the movie is in-fact called Bully, but yet, the subjects themselves that this movie takes it’s title from, are rarely ever documented. We never get to see the side from a bully here, why they do the things they do, where the problem stems from, and exactly how they can stop it and I get it, no kid is going to want to come-up to a film-crew and say that he/she is a bully, but Hirsch could have easily went-out there, found a person that used to be a bully, and see exactly what it was that made that person, tick the way that they did. Seeing the point-of-view of the kids who actually get bullied is still very emotional and disturbing in it’s own right, but showing the other-side and what they go through, would have definitely made this flick seem like it had more of a clearer, moral-compass that wasn’t just about getting rid of bullies. In a way, getting rid of bullies is the right solution to this problem, but in another way, it’s also too simple to be the right thing to do. To put an end to bullying, we have to understand the person who’s causing all of this pain, see exactly why they do it, and what the solution to all of their actions could be. We never get any of that with this flick and as much as I would have liked to see more sides pointed-at and shown in the spotlight, it never happens.

Consensus: Bully is an important-flick that should definitely be shown to kids of all ages, but an important-flick, definitely doesn’t make a good one, especially when you have one that’s as one-sided as this one.

6/10=Rental!!

Do zombies count as bullies?

Do zombies count as bullies?

Promised Land (2012)

The Ultimate Battle: Salesman vs. Farmers. Let’s get’s it on!

Matt Damon plays a salesman for a major natural gas company (so stow the “propane and propane accessories” quote) who descends upon a small town to tap into it’s natural resources, but finds himself having a bunch of problems with the locals, especially by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski).

The topic of “fracking” is an act that has been brewing-around for quite some time and even though there have been some documentaries that talk about it, here and there, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood got their filthy, dirty paws on it and made a motion-picture, cinema-trip out of it. However, I don’t know how “Hollywood” Gus Van Sant is now, but hey, he made Good Will Hunting and that counts, right?

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “fracking”, don’t worry, the film will let you know, every, single 5-minutes, too. It obviously seems like an action that makes people happy and filled their wallets/bank accounts, filled to the brim with moolah, but also, destroys the environment around us and makes those pot-smoking, peace-loving hippies all uppity, uppity. However, knowing this before-hand won’t do you any good and to be honest, neither will this flick because all of it just really seems to hit you over-the-head until you can’t take no more. Matt Damon is obviously a very political guy that likes to have his thoughts and opinions heard for the whole world, but maybe his script that he co-wrote with John Krasinski and Dave Eggers was a bit too much for him, or anybody else to really muster.

Sorry Democrats, Matt Damon is not running for President during the 2016 election.

Sorry Democrats, Matt Damon is not running for President during the 2016 election.

Instead of making this movie just one, big “message movie” that likes to talk a lot about what it’s declaring, Damon and his co-writers try their hardest to make us feel like there’s another story here worth watching and feeling something-for, even though we are all being preached-at from the highest choir. That highest choir, just so happens to be A-list actors and producers that may know a thing or two about how to make a good flick, but don’t know a thing or two about how to make one that can coincide with the point/message you’re trying to get across. It becomes over-bearing and by the third time that Damon’s character states, “I’m not a bad guy”, you start to think otherwise because who would really go on and on this long about a topic and a solution that could have been figured-out in a 5-slide Power Point production.

However, a 5-slide Power Point production is probably how long, in-fact, maybe even less, this flick could have been predicted in. Right from the beginning, we know how it’s going to start, how it’s going to coast-on through it’s story, and sadly, how it’s all going to end and what revelations are going to be made by that time. Yeah, there are some nice twists and turns that Damon and co. throws at us for good-measure, and mainly in hope to keep our eyes awake and our minds attentive to what’s going on, on-screen, but doesn’t do much good other than seem obvious. The message is obvious and so is the plot and that’s why I’m so surprised that Damon even co-wrote an intelligent script like Good Will Hunting because all of that fun, all of that flair, and all of that emotional-truth that was stuck underneath that whole flick, is barely even seen here at all. In my honest to god’s opinion, it’s all because Big Ben wasn’t around, and instead, is off doing his own thang and making a name for himself. Take notes, Matt. Start directing movies and see how current and cool you can stay.

"Since the Office is coming to an end, Joel thought you would like to read this. You better accept or Matt's getting the job instead."

“Since the Office is coming to an end, Joel thought you would like to read this. You better accept or Matt’s getting the job instead.”

I will say one-thing about Matt Damon here with this movie, that even though his script may not work to the best of his, or the film’s ability in keeping us interested the whole-way through, Damon’s performance definitely does and the guy once again shows why he is the most dependable actor, working today. Damon’s character, Steve Butler, may have an obvious-route he’s going to drive-on about half-way through, but Damon still keeps you on-edge, wondering when it may actually happen and whether or not we are going to be able to believe it or not. In a way, we do believe it, and that’s mainly thanks to Damon’s top-notch skills as an actor, while in other ways, we don’t just because it’s so conventional, but you can’t go wrong with Damon and the guy knows how to write some great lines, even if the only great lines are for himself, and him only. That damn Matt Damon! He’s always so stingy!

Playing his enemy, of sorts, is John Krasinski as an ecologist that challenges all of Butler’s way of living and making a business. Krasinski rarely ever plays dark roles like these and it’s great to see him really work with that aspect of his acting, while also making sure to keep his comedic-abilities in-tact, as well. I wish that Krasinski was given more than to just fuck around with Damon, in a way that makes it seem like he stole his girlfriend after Junior Prom, but with what he’s given (that he practically gave himself, if you think about it) and what he’s able to do, Krasinski does a very nice-job at it, and I really hope the guy continues to take darker, more-dramatic roles like these because even though that face may always be smiling and shiny, there’s still some darkness that’s waiting to just latch-out from underneath.

Frances McDormand plays Damon’s cohort that seems to be non-other than McDormand doing what she does best: the cool, older gal that still knows what it’s like to be hip, with it, and always one-step ahead of the dudes around her, no matter what it is she may be dealing with. Maybe that was a bit too much of a lengthy-synopsis of what type of characters she usually plays, but it’s the truth most of the time, and it’s the truth here and it’s still fine and dandy with me, because the girl is good with the act. She doesn’t seem to have much more going for her other than the fact that she may just be the brains behind the whole operation when it comes to what it is that they do for a living and how they make their business, but McDormand makes the most of it and in a way, would have liked to see a whole movie dedicated to her, where she was going around and dealing with this personal and professional-crisis, rather than seeing dudes like Matt Damon go through with it. Boo the men! Yay the ladies! That’s how I look at it here.

He's looking-out at the land that he's going to drill into soon, and all he sees is a reflection of himself. Ohhh, the obvious metaphors!

He’s looking-out at the land that he’s going to drill into soon, and all he sees is a reflection of himself. Ohhh, the obvious metaphors!

McDormand isn’t the only gal that gets to show the boys a thing or two when it comes to acting, nope, that honor also goes to Rosemarie DeWitt as the wild child of this small, rural town in Pennsylvania, who also just so happens to be the hottest, single-teacher in the whole world. Not just PA, the whole damn world! DeWitt has been on my “crush list” as of late, and she’s great here, especially in her scenes with Damon who just goes to prove the fact that the dude can make any great chemistry, with anything, as long as it has tits and a vagina. Seriously, they are great together and if it wasn’t for the whole fracking-issue popping-up every 5-minutes, I would have probably enjoyed their scenes together a whole lot more.

The rest of the cast is pretty fine, even if it is a shame to see how little they are used here. Hal Hollbrook is great as the knowing, elder farmer of this small-town that knows what fracking’s all about, why it’s not good, and why he doesn’t like it. Rather than making Hollbrook the annoying and obvious voice-of-reason throughout this whole movie and have us dreading his presence, Hollbrook actually comes-off as a sweet and tender, old-man that has come to terms with the way the world used to be and what it is eventually, going to turn-out to be. It’s sort of sad since how this hits so close to reality and what better person to deliver this reality-check than non-other than Mr. Hollbrook himself. Seriously, when the hell is this guy getting that Oscar!?! Lucas Black and Scoot McNairy show-up here as well, as the resident rednecks of the small town and as good as they may be, are still a bit over-the-top in the way that they are type-casted as a bunch of dumb idiots that work on a farm and don’t give a crap about anything else other than the big olde bucks. I’m sure that some of this is true, but it doesn’t need to be seen to try and get a point across even more. Come on Matt! Come on John! You should know better! You get your caviar and champagne from natural food stores!

Consensus: The topic of discussion in Promised Land is definitely an important one and what Damon, Krasinski, and Eggers get-across about it is an important-one, but it constantly hammers you over-the-head with it, that you begin to lose a care for what they say and an even bigger loss of care over the predictable story, and what direction it goes in.

6/10=Rental!!

I seriously just wanted to just include this picture because of how stoned everybody to the right looks and how everybody to the left are just left clueless and happy.

I seriously just wanted to include this picture because of how stoned everybody to the right looks and how everybody to the left are just left clueless and happy.

On the Road (2012)

Boys will be boys. Especially, the ones that have tons of sex and never shower. Yeah, those ones, too.

In 1947, Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) is a young writer whose life is shaken and ultimately redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a free-spirited, fearless, fast-talking Westerner and his girl, Marylou (Kristen Stewart). They travel the world and meet-and-greet with numerous people, while also, exchanging in bodily-fluids along the way.

Having already gone through 4 years of high school and even dating a girl for over a year who actually read and loved it, I’m still surprised that I haven’t read Jack Kerouac’s landmark novel that defined a generation. From what I hear and see of other people who have actually read the book, it’s a life-changer and will definitely have you looking at everything around, in a slightly-different, if not more, rambunctiousness way. I don’t know if that makes me unqualified to watch a movie such as this, but after seeing it, I’ve come to realize that maybe it would have just been better to leave the book where it was in the first-place: on the top-shelf of some low-rent, book-store, for some young bohemian to pick-up and obsess over next.

Director Walter Salles definitely knows the type of material he’s adapting here, and by doing-so, has made this one, gorgeous treat from start-to-finish. Since the flick takes place over a couple of years, in many, many different parts of world, you definitely get a full feel of what the outside world looks, especially through the eyes of such youngsters as these. Salles knows how to make any scene beautiful and seem as if he read the book, had an idea for how he wanted it to look, and just went for it all, and in that aspect, he succeeds. If anything, this movie is a treat for the eyes, and sometimes, the ears because of the classic, jazz-tracks scattered throughout.

"Hey, we're just two, good-looking guys, looking for a good time. What's so wrong with that? I mean, other than the fact that we're really, REALLY close?"

“Hey, we’re just two, good-looking guys, looking for a good time. What’s so wrong with that? I mean, other than the fact that we’re really, REALLY close?”

However, that’s where the problem of this flick lies. It definitely has the same sounds, the rhythms, and the look of a movie that would be adapting it’s source material from Kerouac, but in the end, just doesn’t have the feeling. Maybe I’m a bit biased to be talking about the feeling of the novel vs. the feeling of the movie, since I have not read the novel, but knowing what it does to people, their minds, and how much of a game-changer it was, I think I have the right idea in my head to fully understand that this is not the flick that will be changing anybody’s minds, lives, or central-thoughts for the longest time. Hell, even after 2 weeks or so, you might just forget about it.

Actually, that’s a bit too harsh for this flick because although it does definitely have it’s bad, it definitely does still have it’s good, even if the bad does out-weigh the good. For instance, Salles’ direction takes a great-aim at the beautiful landscapes that surrounded these characters and the journey they went on, but when it comes to making a point about the world we used to live-in, and the way these characters get through: well, it drops the ball. You see, the movie starts-off very quick and fast-paced, then dials-down, then goes back-up, then dials-down, and so on, and so forth, until you feel like Salles is just toying around with your interest-meter and whenever he feels like he’s losing you, he’ll just throw a sex scene in there or two. Yes, back in those days, young and free people had loads and loads of sex, but this flick almost makes it seem like a safe haven for when people were just bored, and by “people”, I mean the characters in the movie, and the audience that sits-back and actually watches this.

In a way, you almost feel like Salles is just sort of going through the motions as a director, because even though he knows how to make a film pretty damn purrty, he doesn’t know where to start and end his story, on as high of a note as Kerouac apparently did. It’s not really boring, per se, as if it’s almost just a dull piece of filmmaking that never really lifts off the ground, unless it’s characters actually are, and even at that point, it still seems like a bit of a cop-out. Regardless of if you’re a fan of the material or not, you’re going to be a tad disappointed with the small-amount of emotions this movie makes you feel, if any at all. Once again, did not read the novel, but that’s what I heard it did to those who read it.

Without R-Pats, Bella or Rupert in her life anymore, K-Stew can finally do what she's always want to do: dance!

Without R-Pats, Bella or Rupert in her life anymore, K-Stew can finally do what she’s always want to do: dance!

The only, real interesting-aspect of this flick was the actual cast-members themselves. Sam Riley impressed the hell out of me as Ian Curtis in Control, but seems oddly-dry, almost to the point of where he’s just a bummer of a dude to watch. He’s boring, talks in a very New York-like accent with a couple uses of lingo here and there, and just doesn’t really have much to bring to the story, other than the fact that he’s there to take notes and eventually make the book of the story we are all seeing right in-front-of-our-own-eyes. I was really disappointed by this dude, but I was very, very surprised by Garret Hedlund as Dean Moriarty.

Hedlund, in everything that I’ve seen him in, has not really been the actor you can rely on to save your movie from total damnation as he’s sort of come-off as very bland throughout the years, but here, he totally makes you re-think that with a performance that’s fearless, fun, wild, sexy, but also, very humane in it’s portrayal of a dude that just can’t slow down the brakes and sort of has that back-fire on him. Moriarty isn’t a type of character you can really feel sympathy for because all he does is cheat on his wife (that’s bearing his two children), have random bits of sex with people’s he’s just met, get high all of the time, and not really do much else nice for the others around him. He’s not necessarily a dick, as much as he’s just a dude that seems like he’s living a bit too much in the crazy world, rather than the real world. Yeah, I know, the real world sounds boring but after awhile, this guy begins to realize that maybe he should have just chilled-out every once and awhile and if not that, then at least made sure you don’t have any responsibilities waiting for you, around the corner. Hedlund really brings the energy and fun to this movie and I just continued to keep on waiting for this guy’s presence to show, back-up on-screen for me to see.

We only get a naked K-Stew this time around, rather than a naked K-Dunst. Boo!

We only get a naked K-Stew this time around, rather than a naked K-Dunst. Boo!

Kristen Stewart plays his gal-pal, Marylou, and what seems to be another piece of stunt-casting, actually turns-out well for the movie, her character, and Stewart as well. Stewart is good here as Marylou because she gets to do more than just mope around and touch her hair, she actually has a wild and free soul to her that makes you feel as if she’s just like Moriarty, except a bit more innocent. Amd yes, for all of you guys that have been wanting to first their eyes on her whole-self since the days of Panic Room, she does indulge in some sweet, and spice sex-scenes where she does get naked and do a bunch of other, wild things, but it’s all right with the context of her character and her performance, as well. Hopefully, K-Stew can keep this going but who the hell knows where her career might go, post-Twilight.

Consensus: The trio of leads save On the Road from just being another shallow and dull attempt at trying to adapt one of the greatest novels of all-time that made people think and see the world differently, whereas here, with this movie, you’re only going to see K-Stew differently when she has her clothes on in movies now. Hey, that’s all I could really garner up from this one.

6/10=Rental!!

Still trying to master the art of smoking cigarettes while writing.

Still trying to master the art of smoking cigarettes while writing.

Les Misérables (2012)

Thank you Tom Hooper! It’s been awhile since we’ve had a musical that’s made us want to slit our wrists.

The film is set against the backdrop of sociopolitical upheaval in 19th century France and revolves mostly around Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a escaped convict who spent time in prison after stealing some bread to feed his sister. He is on-the-run from a vengeful officer named Javert (Russell Crowe), but in the meantime, changes his ways, finds a woman named Fantine (Anne Hathaway), and eventually, goes out to look for her daughter named Cosette.

I’m not going to lie to you, I am not the biggest musical-lover out there but if I have to sit-down, watch one, and at least enjoy myself, chances are, I’m going to enjoy myself. That’s why I was a bit skeptical of this flick, not just because I haven’t ever seen the musical this is based-off of, but because it seemed like the type of musicals I’ve grown to despise. Everybody’s crying, everybody’s moping, and everybody’s so self-indulgent, almost to the point of where it’s just one, long cry-fest that is more likely to have you want to jump-off a bridge, rather than get in the Holiday Cheer. For some people, jumping off of a bridge is getting in the Holiday Cheer, but for me, it isn’t and that’s why I was a bit worried of what I got myself into on Christmas night. Thankfully, I stayed very, very far away from the Ben Franklin bridge and instead, stayed home and cried myself to sleep. Oh, the holidays.

Right off the bat, you should know that if you don’t like musicals where every single-line of dialogue is spoken through song, then this will definitely not be your bag, baby. Because if you hate that about certain musicals and get bum-rushed into seeing this, you are going to be one, pissed-off monkey for the next two-and-a-half hours, and most likely, going to just switch your plans and see Django Unchained. No problem with that whatsoever, but if you’re bag is in-fact a musical where everybody speaks in octaves, then you are going to go fuckin’ bananas over this, especially if you are already a fan of the source-material in the first-place. Tom Hooper was, obviously, and that’s why this is not your typical, run-of-the-mill musical. It’s got style to it, and that’s what so different.

Don't worry, just because he's singing in this, doesn't mean Russell can't still kill a couple of mofos. Just look behind him, if you don't believe me.

Don’t worry, just because he’s singing in this, doesn’t mean Russell can’t still kill a couple of mofos. Just look behind him, if you don’t believe me.

What I mean by the “style” that Hooper apparently uses here, is that instead of going for the grand-scale, epic-feel of this material and showing us how huge this world is, with all of these large, sweeping song-notes that take you from one end of the Earth, to the other, he keeps it small, secluded, and very emotional. We get a lot of close-up shots on these people as they sing and we feel as if we are right there, not only to feel what it is that they are singing and emoting about, but to also have us placed-in this world that is dark, cruel, and very, very *cough* miserable. Hooper does get the look-and-feel of this movie and never for a single-second has us believe that we are watching a play on the big-screen, or even a musical for that matter, it actually feels natural to the story and how it’s trying to make you feel.

Not for a single-second did I think that I was going to cry during this movie, and don’t worry all of my fellow dude readers out there, trust me, I can assure you that I did not cry, but I sure as hell teared-up a whole lot more than I ever expected. Seriously, we all know about the “I Dreamed a Dream” number that Hathaway sings, executes-perfectly, and makes us all pull out the boxes of Kleenex, but there were so many more moments that just hit me where it hurt the most and not only did it surprise that the one time actually happened, but surprised me even more that it continued to occur. Everybody’s singing loud, proud, and right there for us to see clearly, and because of that, you really feel hit with the raw emotions that this story brings-out in it’s meaning, and how you can actually receive it. So many equal moments of pure beauty and sadness just really get to you and once you see the actual people sing them, on-camera, live, and for all of us to hear and see, you’ll know that it’s not because you have a soft-heart for a bunch of rambunctious college kids facing-off against the system, but because the musical-numbers have a feeling of power that you so rarely see in musicals nowadays. You feel as if every musical-number is meant to be apart of this story, is general to those characters and what they’re feeling, and exactly what it means for the rest of the movie.

Actually, that’s probably where my only problem for this flick actually came-from: when they weren’t singing. About 95% of this flick is full-on, singing, but the rest of 5%, obviously isn’t and really seems out-of-place, especially when people seem to hit breaks that don’t feel necessary to it’s story, or it’s believeability. Honestly, had the movie been 100% pure song, dance, and emotional breakdowns, I would have no problem, but whenever these people got the right ideas to just talk out of nowhere, and then continue to sing as if the actual, spoken-words never happened, then it seemed a bit too strange. However, then numbers like “One Day More”, “On My Own”, and “Stars” came-up, and all of my problems went away with the soothing and wondrous voices of this cast, and all that the brought to the table.

After X-Men Origins, Logan really fell on some hard times.

After Origins, Logan really fell on some hard times.

I think it should be noted right-away, that this isn’t your typical musical, mainly because what you see and hear on-film, is pretty much what stars gave-out. They don’t lip-sync, they don’t read from some script and have it gelled in with their mouth-movements, and they sure as hell did not take the easy way out and just record it in a studio, but instead, just did it, all in front of the camera, with an ear-piece in that played the background music. In ways, this works for the songs and the performers because you get a natural feel you wouldn’t normally get with any, other musical, but in other ways, it doesn’t because not everybody is exactly on-cue with the music that surrounds them. You understand the lyrics more, now that you actually get to see the live-wire lyrics come-out through the mouths and emotions of these characters and believe in everything they feel, no matter how bitter or joyous it may be. However, it’s more good ways then bad, so if anything, I have to give Hooper more credit for being even-more ballsy with his artistic and subdued direction of a musical that could have gone totally out the window into Annoyance-ville. There isn’t a real place called Annoyance-ville, but if there was, that’s where most musicals would be found.

As for the performers themselves, just about each and every-one here is as perfect as they come with the music they’re supposed to sing, the looks they’re supposed to be giving, and the feelings that go through characters like these. Hugh Jackman finally gets to show the world what he can do as an actor and performer, into one, amazing performance as Jean Valjean. Jackman, as we all know, can sing his heart out to the highest mountains and can definitely act, but the combination of both, in such a raw-feeling and way, is what really makes him stand-out among the rest, even when he takes the back burner a bit later-on in the flick. Jackman nails all of the song-notes he has to hit perfectly, but when it comes to being a guy that we feel a real, utter sympathy and love for, then Jackman succeeds even more and it’s one of his finest performances, mostly because it shows us that when you give him good material that he can work with, he will, and work with it to the best of his ability. The best of his ability is this performance here as Jean Valjean, and thank the singing gods for that!

Don't lie, you'd still tap that.

Don’t lie, you’d still tap that.

A lot of people have been trashing the hell out of Russell Crowe as Javert, and how his singing-voice just really does not fit with the character, nor the rest of the flick, but I have to be honest: I sort of feel bad for the guy. Believe it or not, Crowe is not as much of a random-choice for this role as some may have you think otherwise, because he’s actually apart of a rock band called Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt and apparently, does a nice job with the material for them. However, that’s a rock band-like voice that’s used, not an Opera-like, musical voice that’s meant to capture the hearts and souls of millions across the globe. Okay, maybe that was a little too drastic of a point to make, but what I’m mainly getting at is that if you don’t have a powerful enough voice to handle this material and make it work when you play the menacing and evil character, Javert, then you may have a bit of problems coming down the pipelines. Okay, maybe more than “a bit”, but you catch my drift.

Does Crowe deserve the panning that he’s getting for his role in this movie? Yes and no. Yes, because he is the weakest-link out of the whole cast and shows just what happens when you cast a in a role, mostly because he’s a big-name, and no, because he isn’t terrible to watch. Maybe since I have never once heard the actual-play done itself and don’t know how Javert is supposed to sound, but I thought that Crowe did the best that he could with a role that definitely needed some great and powerful moments of song to be handled with grace and care, and that is exactly what Crowe did, except it wasn’t what everybody out there in the world wanted. You’re never going to please everybody with every little thing you do, so don’t worry Russell, you won me over and I’m glad to say that you weren’t all that bad of a choice to begin with. However, they could have seriously gotten somebody else, I hate to say it.

Hopefully, come January 10th, that not will read: "Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actress". Hopefully...

Hopefully, come January 10th, that not will read: “Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actress”. Hopefully…

Of course the buzz that has been surrounding the hell out of this film is Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine, and the heartbreaking, show-stopping rendition she gives of “I Dreamed a Dream”, and all of that buzz is deserved because holy hell, did she make me tear-up. Hathaway’s character of Fantine isn’t around for a terribly-long time, but for how long she is alive and well on-screen, you see a real, true, and harrowed woman that does all that she can to make ends meet, but yet, still finds herself taking off her nickers just for a quick buck here and there. It’s heartbreaking and sad to watch and Hathaway makes you believe in this pain and strife that her character goes through, and when she breaks into that song, try your hardest to control-yourself because trust me: you won’t succeed. Hathaway is the one you really remember when you leave the theater and I don’t even know why we have to wait 2 more months for the announcement, just give her the damn Oscar! The gal deserves it, if not just for this perfect-performance, but for all of the other perfect-performances she’s given over the years. Not looking at you, Bride Wars.

Another gal in this cast who gives a whopper of a performance, in terms of acting and singing, is Samantha Barks as Éponine. If you don’t know recognize the name or don’t even know who the hell she is and why she’s even here in a star-studded get-together like this: don’t worry, you don’t need to because she will have you remembering her name, long after the credits roll. Granted, she obviously was going to knock the singing out of the park because she was cast in the musical a couple of years ago, but still, the woman is terrific in all that she does here and the two songs that she’s given to perform, are equally as heartbreaking and powerful as Hathaway brings to the table. She’s got a great look, a great style, and most importantly, a great voice and I wish to see a whole lot more of in the future.

The cast gets even better, though, with Eddie Redmayne as Marius, who surprised the hell out of me because after seeing him in My Week with Marilyn and countless other flicks, I thought he was nothing more than just another pretty face, but here, he shows me he’s more. He can hit the notes he’s supposed to hit, and he hits them with a great deal of charm and wit that makes you like the guy right from the start, even if you think his face is a bit goofy at times. However, that’s just a tiny nit-pick of mine, so don’t mind me and my asshole-like self. Some will probably be bummed to see that there isn’t a real, huge-part for Amanda Seyfried here as the older Cosette, but don’t worry, she still gets to show-off those pipes of hers (not those pipes you pervs) and doesn’t, not for one-second, get out-matched by anybody else in this cast.

Consensus: If you don’t like musicals before, then chances are, you are going to hate the ever-loving piss out of Les Misérables but if you do like musicals, then you are going to love just about every-second of this as each and every song is filled with bright emotion, power, drama, and simplicity, that’s very hard to capture in any type of musical, especially one this much of a grander, epic-scale.

9/10=Full Price!!

Somewhere, Tim Burton just got the best idea for a new movie.

Somewhere, Tim Burton just got the best idea for his next flick.

The Guilt Trip (2012)

I need to travel with Jewish family members more, problem is: I don’t have any!

An inventor (Seth Rogen) invites his mother (Barbra Streisand) on a cross-country trip as he tries to sell his new product to all the big-company chains, while also trying to reunite her with a long, lost love.

After appearing in both of the lame-o, Meet the Parents sequels, Babs is back and bitchier than ever! As you could expect from a woman of her class, there was a lot of turmoil on the set where she wouldn’t work anywhere that was 20 miles away from her house and even wouldn’t allow any scene to be shot, unless she had the right amount of make-up and shining-lights on her. I don’t know how Seth Rogen responded, he probably just nervously-chuckled his way through it all, but either way, it’s pretty great to see Babs back on the big-screen and it sort of has you realize that you know what? I missed the hell out of this gal, no matter how annoying she can be at times. I put an extra-strain on the term, “at times”.

The idea of a cross-country road-trip with an overbearing, embarrassing mother is pretty damn relateable and in ways, that’s where the magic of this flick surprisingly works. Hopefully, all of you have been able to have and interact with a mother, or at least, a motherly-figure, and realize how painful and annoying it can be to constantly be around them as they think that they always right, always think that they know what’s best for their child, and try whatever they can do to just make your life better, even though it just continues to add-on more annoyance. Not all momma’s are like this but basically, you get the gist of it all: mothers have love and warmth in their hearts, but they also can be a bit over-bearing at times and what better person to play the over-bearing, annoying mother than Babs herself??

"Yeah, that's right. That is Barbra Streisand. Betta recognize."

“Yeah, that’s right. That is Barbra Streisand. Betta recognize.”

I think having Barbra in this role as the mother, would have been a risky-move, mainly cause it would have just turned-on to be a caricature in and of itself, but Streisand makes her more than just that. Surprisingly, Striesand gives Joyce a lot more credit than the actual-script does and shows that this lady, although protective and annoying, does love her son, does feel as if she knows what’s best for him, and really just wants to have a great-time with her life, because it almost seems like that’s been missing as of late. This role of Joyce could have really gone as unbearable and annoying to watch, but somehow, in her own, crazy-way, Streisand makes her fun and heartfelt to watch and see the different layers of her character that come pouring-out, especially when you least expect it to.

Seth Rogen may seem like a bit of an odd-choice to play her kiddie, Andy, but actually does a nice-job with it, even though the guy really is toning-it-down a whole lot here. And I mean, A WHOLE LOT. You get the nervous chuckle, you get the awkward looks in his eyes, and you get the random banters and fits of rage, but nothing all that funny or hilarious to actually come out of his mouth and as much as it may work for this dorky, uptight character, it doesn’t quite work for Rogen, as you can sort of tell that he really wants to join-in the fun with Babs and let loose as well. Still, Rogen is good and gives Andy more depth and heart than we expect, even though it feels more like a step-back for Rogen, even despite co-starring with the one and only, Barbra Streisand.

He smoked so much weed on this set. You can just tell.

He smoked so much weed on this set. You can just tell.

Together, they make a nice, mother-son couple, and actually make a lot of the more obvious and conventional scenes between them work. Actually, the surprisingly work, mainly because the film is surprisingly, not what you expect it to be. From the trailers and advertisements, you automatically think that this is going to be another, wacky and goofy, road-trip comedy where the overprotective mother, constantly embarrasses and does stupid things to make her son go even crazier in his head. In a way, that sort of happens here, but in another way, it’s more dramatic and heartfelt this go-around. You’ll be surprised by how nice this flick can make you feel and even if you aren’t laughing your ass to death, you still find yourself a bit happy and pleased with a mother-son relationship, where they both obviously love one another and want nothing more than to make the other person’s life a little bit more pleasant whenever they aren’t around. It’s a nice sentiment to see on the big-screen, regardless of if you are close with your mother or not.

However, you can’t hide from the fact that this flick is as obvious and conventional as they come. Every single turn you expect for a film like this to take, it does take, and it just continues to go on, and on, and on, and on, until you finally just give-up, accept the way things are going to be, and decide to give-in to all of the cheeky, melodrama they begin to shove down your throat. Most of it is eye-rolling and most of it is cliche beyond belief, and for any viewer out there that demands more and more with your road-trip flicks starring two Jewish family members, then you may not appreciate this flick. However, if you are looking for that, then you may have a solid time. I use the term, “may”, very loosely so if you don’t like it, you don’t love it, or you don’t even come back in a happy-mood, wanting to give your big mommy a big, old hug and smooch on the cheek, don’t come to my house with fire and pitch forks because I did actually say: you “may” like it. You heard it from me, folks, give it a try if you’d like but I can say you “may” have fun. Once again, “may”.

Consensus: This is as obvious, as predictable, and as ham-fisted as they come with movies about mother-son bonding, but The Guilt Trip still isn’t a terrible-watch because of the fine chemistry between both Rogen and Streisand, ans the heartfelt emotions about a love between a mother and a son that feels more real, than actually manipulative. You may be a bit surprised by this one, trust me. Shit, there’s that “may” word again!

6.5/10=Rental!!

I seriously never thought that I would see these two together. Ever.

I seriously never thought that I would see these two together. Ever.

Django Unchained (2012)

DjangoUnchainedPosterNo way the dirty South could have been this dirty. Could it have been?

Jamie Foxx stars as the titular character named Django, who is an escaped slave who teams up with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Let’s just get it all out in the open and out of the way for everybody to see and understand before I jump any further into this review: this was my most anticipated flick of the year. Obviously, I’m not much different from others out there in the movie-world, and it’s probably no shock to any of you out there who know that Quentin Tarantino is one, if not my favorite writers/directors working today. This has been a passion-project of his since day 1 and it only seems right that after knocking-out homers left-and-right over the past 20 years, that he finally get to do, what he does best: showing us a little piece of his sick, but original mind.

Everything you see in this flick is exactly what you would expect from a Tarantino flick: crazy characters, wacky dialogue, oodles of violence, ironic use of pop-music, homages to classic flicks that only he and about 5 others actually “get”, and a huge deal of suspense, that almost seems to come out of nowhere. These are the staples of Tarantino’s flicks and as much as they have came-out to be nothing short of expected by now, that still is in no way, shape or form an insult or negative about Tarantino and this movie, because it’s still freakin’ awesome and probably the most original flick I’ve seen all year.

The topic of racism is what really stands in the front of the line with this movie and even though the flick basically takes place during 1858, in the South where slavery runs high and mighty amongst rich, white men, the topic is never used to be thoughtful, or even used as a metaphor for the world we are in now. It’s basically used as another tool for Tarantino to show loads and loads of gruesome/graphic violence and actually give it meaning, rather than throw it at the screen and hoping that it will make sense in the grander scheme of things. Nope, Tarantino’s not all about that and anybody who complained about Inglorious Basterds not being the action-packed, gore-ride they were expecting from QT, then he will definitely shut you up with this one because every piece of violence here, is bloody, gory, and ever so stylized, as we can always expect from Tarantino. Sometimes it’s almost too vicious to watch but hey, that’s not a bad thing considering this is coming from a movie who’s director had 15-minutes of a movie dedicated to a chick hacking-up people, all-over-the-place, with a samurai sword, of all weapons to choose.

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858....

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858….

The violence in this movie definitely stands-out among the rest of what Tarantino uses here, but the script is even better and is classic-Tarantino, at it’s finest. As usual, we get a lot of the witty, catchy-banter between characters that seems almost too energetic to be true, but Tarantino really works himself hard as a writer, especially with this movie, because he actually goes somewhere we never really expected him to in the first-place: comedy. Yeah, it may seem like a bit of a head scratcher that I would talk about how much comedy Tarantino uses and how it surprised the hell out of me because with the flicks that he’s done over the years, it would seem like he’s been doing comedy forever. To be honest, Tarantino has always had a knack for incorporating a great-deal of humor into his scripts, but not as obvious and not as important as it is used here. There are so many scenes here that just had me laughing, not just because Tarantino is doing something that only I, as a movie-geek, actually get, but more or less because he is actually trying to make me laugh and it worked so, so very well.

However, as much as he may put the emphasis on comedy this time-around, Tarantino still never forgets to switch things up and make it more dark and serious, and the tonal-changes are swift, unnoticeable, and always deserved. You know once Tarantino gets into his “serious mode”, then all of the violence and, in a way, more comedy actually comes about since this is the type of material that Tarantino strives for and always seems to have a blast with. Certain scenes would really catch me off-guard because here I would be expecting it to be a scene where a couple of people are sittin’ around, shootin’ the shit, and basically being a bunch of goof balls, but then would all of a sudden change into this very dark and tense scene, where all hell is about to break-loose and anybody you actually care about in this movie, could be gone as quick as you can say the word, “dead”. Seriously, just that snap of a finger, and all of a sudden a scene does a total 180 where we don’t even know what to expect. That sure unpredictability is exactly what I come to expect from Tarantino and it’s put to good-use here, so many damn times that I was literally sweating with tension at-times. The idea of not knowing where a film is going to land next, is always my favorite-aspect of a movie and here, it’s only better because it’s Tarantino and this guy always seems to have a blast with just fucking around with the audience, their minds, and their moods. That damn Tarantino! He’s always so snarky.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, btw.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, by the way.

Even if Tarantino seems to be having a ball with this movie, he’s not having the most fun. Actually, that utter sense of joy and pleasure goes right to the ensemble cast, who are all amazing, well-picked, and having the time of their lives just doing what they do best: act their asses off. When I first heard about Jamie Foxx’s casting as Django, I thought it was a tad unoriginal, and just another-way for Foxx to go around, acting all cool and jive, while wearing a cowboy hat. You know, in an ironic-way. I wasn’t really-looking forward to seeing him play this role, but you know what? Foxx kicks-ass in it and it’s a huge wonder as to why I ever doubted the dude in the first-place. Foxx isn’t as front-and-center with this story as you may think, but whenever he does get the time to shine and do his own thing, he owns it, and doesn’t even have to say anything. Sometimes the emotions on his face tell it all and as easy it is to make us feel something for a slave that wants to be free and get his wife back, it’s even easier to make us feel something for a character that we know can fight his own battles and not ask for sympathy. Django, in terms of the actual-character, is the perfect, Spaghetti Western cowboy, because he’s soft-spoken, cool, but always has something witty to say on his mind. And Foxx owns that role to a T.

In the past 3 years, ever since Basterds hit the theaters and made Christoph Waltz a bona-fide star, it seems like Hollywood has never been able to capitalize on the guy’s real talents as a serious and dramatic actor. However, Tarantino knows how to use the guy best and shows that with every-line of dialogue that comes out of this man’s mouth. Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz, the nicer-version of Hans Landa, but still is just as sadistic and smart. What makes Schultz such a great character is that the guy is always one-step ahead of everybody else around him. He always knows to act in every situation, he always knows the right things to say, he always knows how to keep his cool, when shit starts to get heavy, but the most-important factor of his character out of all, is that he always knows how to kill anybody that stands in his way. He’s a violent bastard that seems like the type of guy you want to be bounty hunters with, but as time goes on and he starts to have heavier obstacles thrown in his way, Schultz starts to fold under pressure and show how sometimes, Django is better-suited for certain situations. It’s a great dynamic the two characters have, and it’s heightened even more, mainly because of the pitch-perfect chemistry between the two that always seems to feature the best lines in the whole movie.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

I was mainly looking forward to this movie for many, many reasons, but I think the most, out of all, surprisingly, was the fact that this was Leonardo DiCaprio’s first, main-role as a villain in lord only knows how long, here as Calvin Candie. I’ve always been a huge fan of Leo and all that he’s been able to do in the past decade or so, but even I will admit, his act seemed to get a little stiff by the 10th time he played a confused, and troubled victim of something bad being played against him. It was the same-old routine in almost every movie he seemed to sign-up for and even though the guy did awesome with that routine, it started to become glaringly old, and a role as a campy, over-the-top slave owner, in a QT film, sounded like the perfect-way to spice things up in the dude’s career. And damn, was I ever so happy that I was right about that sweet, soothing sound.

DiCaprio is, well, how should I put it? Perfect in a role like this. Calvin Candie is cunning, funny, campy, and very, very sly in his way of handling himself through every situation he’s put into but you can always tell that there’s something darker lying beneath the surface and the way DiCaprio handles all of that, is probably the best-acting he’s done in awhile. DiCaprio doesn’t just explode with anger, rage, and energy whenever the camera’s on him. No, he just lets it sit there, watching him, letting us know his character, all that he is, all that he does, and all that he can be, if he has to turn the other-cheek and be an evil asshole like we all expect him to be. Eventually, Candie does turn into that evil asshole we expected to see from him right-away, but DiCaprio is so good and so masterful at portraying it, that you really cannot take your eyes off of him. No matter how hard anybody else around him actually tries, DiCaprio is the one that steals the spotlight in every scene he has, and it’s just perfect to watch, especially coming from a guy who’s been wanting a role like this for Leo, for the longest-time. When he loses his shit, he loses it in the most-hardcore way of all and demands your attention, rather than simply asking for it, in the kind-way, Candie likes to fool people with. I really don’t think I can hit the head on the nail as much as I have already, but I’m just going to leave my whole two, orgasm paragraphs on Leo by saying this: that motherfucker deserves the Oscar this year. I’m done, I’ve said it, and yet, I still feel like I haven’t said enough! Aaaaahhhh! Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect. End. Of. Story.

"Listen, bitch!! I'm Samuel L. Jackson, and I'm just loud! Get used to it!"

“Listen, bitch!! I’m Samuel L. Jackson, and I’m just loud! Get used to it!”

Now that that is over with, let me move onto everybody else that deserves a bit of a shine from the spotlight as well. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be another-one in this cast that’s having a ball as the head house slave Stephen, a total Uncle Tom from head-to-toe in terms of appearance, and mental-state also. From the first-shot of the guy, Samuel L. is almost unrecognizable as Stephen, but as time goes on, you get it in your head that it is Samuel L., doing his funny-as-hell, loud yelling and screaming that we always expect from the guy and it’s just so great to watch, especially since it seems like Samuel L. in his comfort-zone. I don’t know if the guy ever left to begin-with, but watching him just have a blast with a role and take over the screen like he does, is always a joy to watch in my book.

Kerry Washington was a bit of a disappointment to watch as Django’s baby girl, Broomhilda Von Shaft (trust me, see the movie and you’ll understand), not just because she isn’t featured in the movie a lot, but mainly because she doesn’t have as much of a screen-presence as everybody else in this flick seems to have. And that’s especially weird to have coming out of my fingertips, considering this is a QT movie and the guy always has kick-ass, female characters to show off. Don’t get me wrong, Washington is still good with her role but doesn’t really get much to do other than cry, yell, and looked terrified the whole-time. There’s so many more faces and stars in this cast that are worth mentioning and bringing to your attention but seriously, just go see the movie for yourself and realize that Tarantino is not only perfect when it comes to writing and directing, but also casting. The guy’s just got it all and all of these rumors of a possible, early-retirement has me scared shitless. Oh well, let’s just hope he keeps on churning out movies until he can’t no mo.

Consensus: Some trimming of the fat needed to be done here and there with Django Unchained, but for a movie that is 2 hours and 40 minutes and is never, for a second, ever boring or uninteresting, I have to say that’s pretty damn a-okay with me, especially if it’s a Tarantino movie, where fun, violence, comedy, cheekiness, homages, and pop-culture references all come together, in one beautiful, original blender of ideas.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy it and enjoy the presents you may or may not get from Santa!

The Queen of Versailles (2012)

Rich people can be broke, too.

The film depicts the lives of Jackie and David Siegel, who are the owners of Westgate Resorts, and their family as they build the largest and most expensive single-family house in the United States, but while going through the economic crisis our country has been going-through ever since September of 2008.

Yup, whether or not you can believe it yourself: everybody was affected by the financial-crisis that occurred over 4 years ago. And by everybody, I mean: EVERYBODY. Upper-class, middle-class, lower-class, don’t-care-too-much-to-be-considered-a-class, etc., they all had problems when the stock market plummeted and whenever we see this terrible effect documented, it’s always usually on the lower-class side because, let’s be honest, we all love to cry and care for people that already have it as bad as it is before more worse things begin to happen. That’s just the fact of life and that’s why it was really different to see the view come from a family that’s been rich all of their lives, have never had to worry about money ever, and have always lived happily ever after, mainly through money. The main name of the game is money, and throughout the next hour and 40 minutes you sit-back and watch it, you’re going to see it pop-up a whole lot.

10 more trips to the doctor for Botox, and she'll end up looking like one of those statues.

10 more trips to the doctor for Botox, and she’ll end up looking like one of those statues.

It would seem almost ludicrous to have a documentary about a bunch of rich people that all of a sudden have to deal with the fact that instead of making billions a year, they’ll only be making millions. In all honesty, hell, I even thought it was a ludicrous idea considering almost each and every single person in today’s day and age, are just trying to live-by on whatever the hell they can, while these peeps sit-up in their mansions, drink their champagne, eat their caviar, smoke their Cuban cigars, and waste their money away on an excess of clothes, parties, toys, and anything else you would lose your hair over, had you bought over 40 quantities of it. At times, just watching these people complain about how hard it is for them to accept the fact that they may have to cut-down on only buying 20 presents each for their kids, to only buying 15, pissed me off but at the same time, sort of made me feel a bit sad for them in the long-run.

I remember when I first saw the trailer for this flick, I didn’t really expect it to be all that much other than a wacky, wild-take on how a rich family gets affected by the financial-crisis and has to cut-back on buying a crap-load of useless junk. It didn’t seem too serious and that’s why, when the flick started, I sort of had my mind wrapped-around seeing a comedy-documentary that talked about a real topic, but added some real humor and light moments to keep everything moving and happy-wappy. However, as much as I may have gotten the fun, lighthearted moments, I still got plenty of the sad moments in-return, and by the end, you start to see the movie’s tone changing from more serious and more drastic as it seems like these people’s lives are falling-apart, buck-by-buck, right in front of our own eyes.

At first, you don’t really care that this financial crisis is going to effect them because you actually feel a bit of envy for them by how comfortable and happy they are with their wealth, but that all changes once you start to see the real-aspects of what makes them human pop-out of nowhere. They find it hard to adjust to the tightening-up of money-spending and start to realize that they may just have to get rid of all of the luxuries they have had over the years, in-order to keep the things that are necessary to living a life like theirs (maids, cars, clothes, food, money, etc.). Being a member of the middle-class and being a person that has lived-through the past 4 years, I can easily say that I sort of connected to what these people were going-through, not just because they got sad when they had to give something away they didn’t want to, but because they began to accept the world for what it was going to be around them. They weren’t going to live high-up, fancy lives anymore, they were going to have to work for their happiness, work to keep their lives profitable, and work to keep all of the luxuries around them, however many of them are actually left with them. Watching these people go through a really tough and understandable problem of saving money and getting caught in a tight-budget, really resonated with me and it helped that the flick never glosses over that fact, just to make sure things don’t get too depressing or sad because trust me, they do. But to be honest, it’s not uneven in the least-bit. Sometimes, that’s just how life plays-out.

What made it harder to really care, is the fact that you take into consideration the subjects behind this whole story, and how much they can sort of piss you off by how idiotic they act. I know that not all people are cheap bastards like yours truly, but there’s come a point where enough is enough and even though not all people grow-up with that fact of life, they still have a button in their brain that should still be able to be switched-on-and-off. However, I really don’t think that that button was ever placed in Jackie Siegel’s brain, and to be honest, that’s sort of why I stopped caring for her after awhile. When we are first introduced to her, we obviously know that she’s a gold digger that wanted this older man’s money and luxuries, but yet, she still tries her hardest to have us think otherwise.

Hey, if they really get caught in a bind for money, she could always start-up a milk farm. God, I am hilarious!

That baby’s life must have been awesome until now.

The film, on the other-hand, doesn’t really try to mainly just because Jackie’s actions make it seem so obvious: the gal loves this man’s money, and not him. When they find themselves in this tight, financial-bind and they realize that they have to cut-back on all of their expenses and spending, Jackie hears it but allows it go in one ear, and right out the other. She shows this fact by going to Wal-Mart spending over 4 car-loads of Christmas gifts for her kids, and even goes so far as to buy her kid a bike that is too small for him in the first-place, and even in the same scene, we see their garage that is chock-full of a group of bikes that would probably make Lance Armstrong crap his pants. It shows you that this Jackie-gal is just a material girl, living in a material world but can’t accept it, and for that fact, I sort of didn’t sympathize with her as much as I sympathized with her poor, old hubby.

I was already a bit creeped-out by the 30-year age-difference between the two, but I was able to let that all slide, just so I could focus on who the real human-beings were. Most of the attention for this movie was focused on Jackie and how much of a dumb-ass she is when it comes to not spending moolah and accepting that fact, but I think the most-interesting person out of the two is her hubby, David. Granted, the guy is your stereotypical, owner-of-a-big-budget-company-dude that has the big bucks, has the sexy lady with the big honkers, has the big house, has the big buildings he owns, and most of all, has the big ego that he boasts on and on about, especially when it comes to the fact that he’s changed so many people’s lives, for better or worse. As much of a fact as that may be, it still shouldn’t be said, especially when you make it seem like you’ve given birth to these people and are the only reason they are happy. What about their wives? Their husbands? Their kids? Their bed? I’m guessing you paid for all of that too, you self-righteous dick?

Looks like a house I used to own, and then I woke up.

Looks like a pad I used to own, and then I woke up.

From the get-go, as you could probably tell with that last statement, I was definitely signing myself-up for the “David Siegel fan club”, but after awhile, once all the smiles, all the money, and all of the paychecks go away, you start to see a real human-being underneath the billion dollar man that owns one of the nicest hotels I think I have ever laid eyes on in my life. He gets very disgruntled, very angry, very pissy, and but actually, very realistic with the way he thinks and as much as he may bring everybody else’s happy meters down, he still has the biggest brains in the family and just goes to show you that he knows what’s the right thing to do to save money, be happy, and get by this frustrating time for him, and all of America. He’s not the nicest guy in the world, and hell, not even the nicest guy in this whole movie, but he’s definitely more believable and understandable as a person that knows when to say enough, is enough, even if his sugar-gal wife, Jackie, can’t even come close to uttering that 6-letter word.

Consensus: The Queen of Versailles may start of all happy-go-lucky, goofy, and very lighthearted in how it looks at these rich people’s extravagant and luxurious lives, but soon gets very dark, very sad, and very drastic into where it turns to show you how everybody in today’s day and age is struggling to make ends meet, even the rich people that live on the highest mountain, themselves.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Viagra used to do the trick for him, but now, she just has to sit on his lap and he's a goner.

Viagra used to do the trick for him, but now, she just has to sit on his lap and he’s a wild man.

Also, when you all get the chance, check out a double-header review of Jack Reacher I did with my buddy Nick! Shoot us a comment and let us know what you think. Thanks!

This is 40 (2012)

21 more years, and this is most likely going to be my story. Yay!

This film continues to follow the lives of middle-aged married couple, Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann), as they face the challenges of their lives and also turning forty. They both are dealing with turning forty and each of their jobs and children Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow) also adds stress to their relationship.

Knocked Up is one of, if not, my favorite Judd Apatow movie so-far. It’s not only of the more realistic depictions of a real-life, modern-day relationship between two people and the problems they go through, but also is one of his funnest outings thus far, mainly just because it never stops being hilarious, even when it’s being serious. That’s why I was really looking forward to seeing Pete and Debbie come back to the big-screen, mainly because every scene they had in that movie, they totally stole it away from Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, no matter how hard those two tried to not let it go down that way. Still, even mentioning those two characters from that movie, would probably be selling this flick the wrong way because it is the farthest thing from being romantic. It’s marriage, bitch, and it’s pretty much misery.

If the casting-choices didn’t already make it clear enough to you, this flick seems to be the most autobiographical of Apatow’s whole career and rightfully so, because the topic of marriage and getting older, can be played for laughs but should also be played for all that it is. Maybe I don’t have much room to talk because I am only 19, I am not married (if you don’t want to count that one week in Vegas), and do not have any kids (not that I know of yet), but seeing people that I do know who are married and who are quickly-approaching this mid-life crisis in their lives, I can easily say that I have a general idea of how much it pains certain people, and that’s why this film really stuck with me. Hell, saying the term, “really stuck with me”, in a Judd Apatow movie, of all movies, really surprised the hell out of me and that’s what works so damn well with this flick.

Megan Fox is totally battling-it-out with Rosamund Pike for...well...you know the award.

Megan Fox is totally battling-it-out with Rosamund Pike for…well…you know the award.

As usual, Apatow’s humor never ceases to amaze me as the guy knows how to write witty-dialogue that teeters on raunchy, but yet, is still hilarious. I found myself laughing a whole bunch with this movie because Apatow knows the stars that he’s writing this material for, and he knows their timing and what fits them the best, that’s why every-line of dialogue that these people shoot out of their mouths, feels perfect and for that, is even funnier. Knowing that this is a Judd Apatow movie, you should come to know that there are a shit-load of pop-culture references that some will get and some won’t, but either way, you’re going to laugh and realize that Apatow is on a roll as a funny man, the guy never stops and always keeps us laughing like a bunch of wild hyenas. I felt bad for some of the people sitting next to me in the theater, because to be honest, I laughed at almost everything and quite loudly, too, whereas they just sat there, moped, and probably got freaked-out by how much I thought was actually in the least bit humorous.

But as funny as Apatow’s movie may be, the drama surprisingly hits, and it’s hard. Since it seems like Apatow, as well as many other members of the cast are going through the exact same dilemma’s that he’s going through, it’s only right that the guy give’s his own two-cents on the way he thinks marriages are, how they play-out, what makes them successful what doesn’t, and ultimately, the trick to raising a family and keeping everybody happy in their own, little nook. Being married to Leslie Mann for almost 15 years now, I would have to say that I trust Apatow’s opinions and views a bit more than any others, and the guy shows that as loving and beautiful it may be to have that love and comfort of your own family and home, it can also be a bit of a bitch.

Back in 2007, Pete and Debbie were happy, a bit wild, a bit fun, but also nagging at each other a lot, too. Now in the year 2012, not much has changed but now they have a lot more on their plate in terms of responsibilities, money, food, services, cars, kids, parents, and ultimately, the future. You can totally tell that Apatow feels that a lot of these subjects/elements are touched-upon when you’re in a marriage and seeing how Debbie and Pete react to the stress of them all, is not only very repetitive and constant, but also realistic.

For instance, whenever Pete and Debbie get into a fight, they always get made at each other, piss and moan around one another, barely talk to each other, but in the end, make-up and enjoy their company while they still can. However, it begins to happen again, and again, and again, and they just continue to go through the same cycle and as annoying as you may think that is, it’s sort of the reality of the situation. Not all problems are going to be fixed, not everything is going to be peachy-keen, not everybody is going to happy all of the freakin’ time, and worst of all, not everything is going to be alright. But it’s not about looking at the dark side of things and letting it get in the way of what could be a whole bunch of sunshine and rainbows with the people you love, but looking at how you can make things better, no matter how shitty or miserable life may be at that exact place, or time.

What here does not fit?

What here does not fit?

That idea really touched me because I don’t feel like you have to be married or in a relationship to understand that, you just have to live life and realize that things will get better, if you just trust, trust, and trust the other one your with. This stuck with me and probably will continue to do so, and I think this is why it’s Apatow’s most touching and mature piece of work, because the guy seems like he’s fully beginning to grow-up now and understand the responsibilities that have been thrown onto him. Actually, maybe I wouldn’t say he’s a big grown-up now, but he’s getting there and I think that’s a lot to see and understand, especially when you’re dealing with a subject like marriage, that gets so sensationalized in movies nowadays, when in reality: it sort of sucks.

But no matter how much Apatow may begin to grow-older and wiser when it comes to making movies and making real, honest truths of life, he still has those occasional problems that can only come to a director that has way too much to say, in such a span of time. That may sound like a strange-statement considering that this flick is over 2 hours and 14 minutes long, but trust me, it’s over-stuffed. Apatow touches on so much here and it feels like he had enough material to last him to 2 more sequels of these same characters, but instead, takes the easier-road for himself, and jam-packs it all into one flick where some aspects of the story get fully-realized, and others just sit there and pop-up whenever Apatow pleases.

In a way, I guess that’s sort of going along with what Apatow is trying to get across and how he leaves his final-point, but getting your final-point across by any means necessary, still doesn’t make a flick that I want to spend awhile with, especially when it seems to go onto tangents that last over 5 minutes-longer than it should be. Right now, at this point in-time, I can’t really say what I feel like Apatow should have cut-out, and put more of in, but there was definitely a whole lot of trimming that needed to be done and no matter how much everything on-screen seemed to entertain me, intrigue me, and even make me laugh, I still felt like about 10 to 15 minutes could have been shaved-off and I use those numbers, just so Apatow could have still been left with his usual, 2-hour long comedies that he so rightfully holds close to his heart and trademark. Don’t worry, Judd. I still like you and I still feel like you have the right to keeping up your own reputation as being the only comedic-director left alive, that’s willing to work with 2-hour long scripts. You, and James L. Brooks, but we all know how that guy has turned-out.

Another reason why this movie is so obviously Apatow’s own, autobiographical-take on marriage and growing-up, is because it features his whole-family as leads, with the exception of himself. Paul Rudd takes over, what is essentially the role of Apatow’s life and persona, and to be truly honest, who better? Seriously, if I wanted a movie done about my life, my times, and my mid-life crisis, I would probably want Paul Rudd playing the character of me, regardless of how much he doesn’t look like me. Looks and personas aside, Rudd is still perfect as Pete because the guy is still so hip, still so cool, and yet, still so conflicted from the first movie, that he really never seemed to change, other than the fact that there is more pressure on him to be a daddy and to be the man of the house, aka, the man they can all depend on. This is Rudd’s most dramatic piece of work in quite some time and he handles it with ease, giving us a lot of the goofy, funny-side of his character, but also the more serious-side that keeps to himself whenever anger comes to him, and just begins to build and build up inside of himself, until he just can’t take it anymore and bursts out with rage. It’s a fully-realized character, and a fully-realized performance from Rudd that shows exactly why he is the most likable, leading-man working today. And trust me, you cannot dispute that.

"So, where has your career gone as of late?"

“So, where has your career gone as of late?”

Playing his wife, is Leslie Mann who is absolutely terrific as Debbie, showing that the gal still has some control issues over what she wants done with her husband and her marriage, but at the same time, is still one lovely gal to watch on-screen. Mann is one of the finer, comedic-actresses working today because she knows how to balance-out the crazy-side of her comedic-acting, with her down-to-earth, realistic-aspect of her dramatic-acting, and make it all seem believable. Watching her and Rudd is perfect because they both play-off of each other as husband-and-wife in such a perfect way, for better or worse. When they fight, it feels real. When they make-up and love one another, it feels real. And whenever they just sit-there, don’t talk, and realize that the other is not really happy with what’s going on at that moment, it feels real. I honestly don’t think that anybody else could have played these two characters and as funny and hilarious as Rudd and Mann may be whenever they are together, just clowning-around, they still painfully real and honest, which is why it becomes so clear that these two people, really are, Pete and Debbie.

This idea also extends to the real-life daughters of Mann and Apatow, Maude and Iris, who both play Charlotte and Sadie here, and are still getting better and better as time goes on. It’s crazy to think about it, but they are essentially growing-up, right in front of our own eyes and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, mainly because of these girls are so talented and great at what they do, that it seems more like a wise-decision, rather than a self-righteous one, that Apatow would actually cast his-own kids in a movie, as the children of their own, real-life mother. It’s a bit too surreal, but after awhile, you start to forget about it and realize that talent just runs in the Apatow-genes. I wish I was one.

The whole ensemble works perfectly-well too, and everybody, and I do mean, EVERYBODY, gets their own-chance to shine and make you laugh. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow play the fathers of both Pete and Debbier, respectively, and play them fine with all of their flaws and positives. Brooks’ positives is that he a nice guy and knows the family for all that they are, but his negatives are that he’s a mooch and continues to try and get more money from a family, that really seems to need it more than him, in a way; whereas Lithgow’s negatives are a lot wider, seeing that the guy left Debbie when she was young, really didn’t want much to do with her, and never seems to connect, but later on, we begin to find-out more about that fact and it’s very-touching to see, coming from Lithgow, a guy who really seems to be falling-off the radar as of late. Also, Megan Fox is hilarious here, playing another sexxed-up version of herself, where she is in on the joke, playing everything-up to the point of where you don’t really know if she’s acting or not, and is just perfect with all that she does. I really do hope to see more of her in the future, as well as her body. Hot damn!

Consensus: Though (like the review I just wrote), This is 40 is a bit lengthy and could have been chopped-up at times, but is always funny, always entertaining, and always feels realistic and honest in the way it portrays aging, marriage, and holding a family together, especially in today’s day and age, where it’s harder and a lot more stressful to do.

8/10=Matinee!!

That's a sign of a man marking his territory.

That’s a sign of a man marking his territory. Watch your back, Paul!

Rust and Bone (2012)

You never could trust Shamu, now could you?

The story itself centers on a penniless man down-on-his-luck (Matthias Schoenaerts) and his fateful encounter with a beautiful young woman (Marion Cotillard) who ends up losing her legs in a horrific accident at a marine park.

Going into this movie, knowing it’s from the French and knowing it’s about a complex relationship between two human-beings, will have you think many happy and lovely things. However, the words “lovely” and happy” do not fit with this film at all and is instead, every bit of sad, depressing, and dark as there is to be seen. Being a movie that’s sad, depressing, and dark doesn’t necessarily make a film that I want to watch on a Lazy Sunday when my thoughts are already upsetting as it is, but it still does make a flick that I want to see when I’m in the right-mood for it, right?

Well, watching a depressing movie when you’re sort of feeling down in the dumps, isn’t always the best-option, but in my case, I thought it was and I was actually pretty wrong. I went into this flick expecting to be sad, especially after I had such a shitty night as it was (didn’t get lucky, not at all), and I ended-up coming up pretty happy. Did I get to see some of Ms. Cotillard in all of her finest glory? Yes, but that’s not the point, the point is that the flick definitely won’t bring your hopes-up, but it will have you look at things around you in a more clearer, happier-way, than maybe before you hadn’t before. It’s not like watching a movie about two people’s lives that are pretty sad as it is, won’t make you feel better about yours, but watching a movie that pokes at the idea of making yourself happy by realizing that it’s not so bad out-there and that you can always make things better for yourself, in terms of situations or surroundings, definitely resonates with me, especially, after a crappy night. I’m sorry that I keep going back to it, but it’s the truth: my night blew and this flick made it a bit better, so what else can I say?

Why the hell is Marion Cotillard in a club and no guy is at least TRYING to dance with her?!?!?

Why the hell is Marion Cotillard in a club and no guy is at least TRYING to dance with her?!?!? If only it was a club in America.

Director of A Prophet, Jacques Audiard brings a very down-beat sense of style that shows the utter horrors of life that some of these people descend to, but also the beauty of it as well that may have you looking at the glass half-full by the end of this. For instance, there’s a big-contrast between two of the very-different worlds out there when you take into consideration what these characters actually do for a living and how they make it that way. Schoenaerts’ character part-takes in a life where all he does is fight and fuck, and that’s the way he lives it, despite being a pretty shitty father and almost never knowing how to actually handle the nonsensical-acts that his 5-year-old son does. The scenes with this guy are pretty brutal, especially since all of his fights feel real and are as bloody as you are going to see any, other UFC fight for the rest of the year. Probably doesn’t help that we have less than 2 weeks left of the year of 2012, but still, if you need a quick-fix of bloody-fights, check-out the scenes from this movie and your need will probably be cured. Just don’t watch the rest of the movie, or you just may have the need for jumping off of a bridge.

Whereas Schoenaerts’ character’s life is filled with utter sense of grit and ugliness, Cotillard’s is filled with happiness and light, even if she seems to be the one who has it worse. She finds it really easy to look on the bright-side of things, really quickly after her incident happens and you see how she comes to terms that she’ll never get her legs back, she’ll never be able to swim with the Killer Whales again, and she’ll never be able to walk again on her own, two feet. This is a beautiful-aspect of the flick that rarely comes out, but when it does, it hits you hard and very well, and doesn’t feel cheap in the least-bit. What’s even more surprising is that the two most touching scenes of the whole movie is one that’s played in absolute silence, and another one that’s played to the track of Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it isn’t and it’s a real surprise that at the end of the flick, this is the one track that may be stuck in your head long-after. Next time I hear that track, I’m going to be thinking some weird, weird things, man.

And if we were to be talking about what really makes this flick work as well as it does, it is in-fact, Marion Cotillard’s character and the performance she gives for her. Cotillard, as we all know, is a beautiful woman that has the look and grace of an old-school, leading-lady that took the men by storm, and the audiences rushing to the cinema’s to see them. However, all that beauty and grace is rarely ever showed here and instead, is used to cover-up the fact that this character is pretty damn drab to look-at. Definitely not the type of Cotillard we all know and love to stare-at (Am I right, men?), but she uses that to her advantage and gives-off a performance that says so much, without saying anything at all. Just a look of her face tells you exactly what’s going through her mind, at that case in-point and there’s a couple of scenes that really have you feel this girl’s pain, sadness, but also, her out-look on life and how positive it gets over time. Cotillard is getting a lot of looks and praise for this performance, and as she should, mainly because it’s the first time I have ever heard her speak in her native-tongue, and also, because she’s not afraid to get down and dirty with her characters, no matter how damn gorgeous she is.

Can totally see the resemblance.

Can totally see the resemblance.

Also, special nods go-out to whoever did the CGI on her legs and made it seem like she really did lose them. Honestly, I kept-on staring at them in every scene she was in, just to see if I could spot a mishap or fake-spot in the film, but I just couldn’t find it. We can get a legless Marion Cotillard right, but we still have yet to master the art of motion-capture performances and not having every character with the dullest pair of eyes?!? Step up your game, Hollywood, the French are finally picking-up for a change.

Even though Cotillard definitely steals the show in this one, Matthias Schoenaerts doesn’t do such a bad-job for himself, neither, but definitely comes-off like the weakest-link out of the two, mainly because his character is so lame and unlikable. I get that there are people out-there in the world who shouldn’t be parents, shouldn’t have responsibilities, and shouldn’t be trusted as a nice, knowing human-being, but this guy is just downright idiotic. Throughout the whole 2 hours (and it’s a pretty long 2 hours, may I add), the guy never seems to do anything right or nice for anybody around him, except for maybe giving Cotillard the D, whenever she wants it and whenever he feels like it giving it to her. And seriously, that’s debatable because there even comes a point where he just seems to be playing with her heart and emotions, and how dare ye do that to one Marion Cotillard?!?

He’s not a nice guy, he definitely stands up-there pretty high in the ballot for “Worst Daddy Ever”, he takes happiness in beating the shit out of guys, he doesn’t like doggies (what is wrong with this man?!?), he definitely has an anger problem, and the only type of pleasure or good-deed he does for people to make them feel better about themselves, is when he’s banging chicks and I think that’s just about it. I feel bad for Schoenaerts because underneath this dry and distasteful character, there lies a pretty solid performance that’s more fully-realized than the arch for this guy, but it never comes-out and just feels more like the type of movie that shows-off the gal for being the stronger and smarter-one of the two, not the muscle-bound freakazoid known as the male species.

"Check Marion later. Beat the shit out of the guy who did this to her beautiful face first." That should always be the plan right away.

“Check Marion later. Beat the shit out of the guy who did this to her beautiful face first.” That should always be the plan right away.

The relationship between the two that begins, is what really kept me watching the flick but whenever the focused away from it, or got off-track and decided to throw in a bunch of manipulative moments where it would toy with both character’s emotions and decisions, then the flick began to lose me and my interest. Their relationship seems to be strictly about sex and making the other person happy, with little to no repercussions involved whatsoever. It’s a nice change-of-pace to see that in a flick and to see that handled so seriously, because as we all know, Hollywood hasn’t been able to do that for the longest-time (*cough* Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached *cough*) but it all starts to fizzle-out and become exactly the type of item Hollywood loves to shove down our throats. The relationship between these two works because it feels believable and understandable no matter how fucked up their lives may be, but by the end, it all becomes conventional, obvious, and a tad dull and starts to feel like the French-version of a Nicholas Sparks novel that just so happens to have Killer Whales, sex, nudity, violence, and lots of skinny-dipping. Sounds like the type of book I want to read before a screening, not something I want to see, watch, and wait-around for for over 2 hours, waiting for it to get to the point.

Consensus: Cotillard’s performance and what she does with an ultra-complex character is really why you should see Rust & Bone, but if you decide to go and see it for more, you may or not be disappointed by the lack of any, actual emotional-attachment this flick may have to you and your life, or the fact that the flick starts off so damn promising, only to fade into what we should expect from Hollywood’s sappy, Nicholas Sparks-adaptations. Except this time, it’s got subtitles. Yay! Not only is there sappiness involved, but reading as well!

7/10=Rental!!

Hey, I don't blame him for fighting over Marion, either. Oh, that's not what they're fighting over....

Hey, I don’t blame him for fighting over Marion, either. Oh, they’re just fighting over money?…..

Also, while you’re at it, check out a podcast I did with a couple of fellow bloggers of mine where we talk straight-up movie ish, especially in terms that it’s Christmas time! Yay! Go on over to http://asyouwatch.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/episode-xvii-sunshine-2007/ and let me know what you think! Thanks!

Jack Reacher (2012)

Somebody had to go and piss Tom off. Katie, I’m looking at you.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a former Army officer who investigates the killing of five people, murdered by a mysterious sniper for seemingly no reason. But when the suspect is finally nabbed, he remains silent and only says “Get Jack Reacher for me.” Nothing is what it seems and Reacher soon finds himself in the middle of a complex cover-up conspiracy.

After what just occurred in our world on last Friday, I have to say that the first 30 minutes or so of this movie were pretty cringe-worthy. Without giving too much away, there’s a couple of grisly/disturbing killings that happen and reactions to them, that feel like they may hit a bit too close to home. When the Aurora shootings happened back in the Summer, I never really felt like any of the material in the Dark Knight Rises was too hard to watch, but here, I really found myself disturbed and saddened. That’s a terrible thing to feel whenever you go to the movies and try to escape whatever else is happening out there in the real world, but it’s even more terrible to even have to think that still, in the year 2012, something like a shooting would still happen and effect us in our everyday lives. I didn’t really talk much about the shootings and the whole controversy surrounding it, mainly because I knew it was going to be made more about gun-control than the actual killings themselves, but regardless, I still feel for all of those victims and that’s why for the first 30 minutes, this movie was skating on some pretty thin-ice for me, and probably for the rest of the audience. However, once I was able to get out of real-life, and transported into the life of this movie, it all went away and I was finally able to have a damn ball with this freakin’ movie.

"Step out of the car, and strike a pose". That's the way you look sexy, Tom Cruise-style. 50 years and running, baby.

“Step out of the car, and strike a pose”. That’s the way you look sexy, Tom Cruise-style. 50 years and running, baby.

How amazing is it that we are allowed to have two awesome, old-school thrillers come out in less than a month away from one another. Although this flick isn’t spouting the cool, retro-vibe of the 70’s thrillers like Killing Them Softly was, there is still an old look and feel to this movie that had me feeling like I was watching a thriller where people beat the piss out of each other with the usual stuff like weapons, guns, and their own bodies. That’s what I want to see more from thrillers in today’s day and age and it’s so cool that Cruise got director Christopher McQuarrie to hop-on top of this material, because as strange of a choice as he may be (the guy hasn’t directed a flick in over 12 years), he still brings the fun and enjoyment-level to a thriller that could have been plain, simple, and boring.

I will admit, this movie can be pretty stupid and for every moment where you are absolutely “wow’d” by what happens, there’s always a moment of pure-silliness just waiting to sneak right up and catch you off-guard. This definitely isn’t one of those flicks that you watch, keep your brain in, and put your thinking cap on top and look at the logical explanations of what could really happen in the real-world, had this story actually taken place in it, and instead, it’s more like one of those films where you just come to have a good time, see a lot of cool action, and feel on-the-edge-of-your-seat for a good duration of the run-time (with the subtraction of those shaky, first 30 minutes…or so). I know I may bag on a lot of flicks for being just a mindless exercises in fun and action, but this is one of those mindless exercises that’s done the right way. There’s no style that gets in the way of everything that’s happening on-screen, there’s no lame dialogue or characters that are just there to keep the action/plot moving along, and there sure as hell is no sign, whatsoever, of a “Michael Bay explosion”. Yes, thank the High Heavens of Cinema for that.

McQuarrie may not have too much to show, in terms of style or distinct look and feel, but there are still plenty of pleasures to be had in terms of where this story goes, and how original it can be, at times. There’s a car-chase that kept me on-edge the whole time and even though it was obvious that it would never, ever occur in real-life, real-time, or even in the streets of Pittsburgh, it still was a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and one of the better car chases I have seen in quite some time. If there’s been a better one this year, please do let me know because the only one I can recall that was as fun and thrilling as the one here, was the one in the Dark Knight. Anywho, McQuarrie doesn’t bring anything new or original to the table that we haven’t already seen done a hundred times before, but it’s still fun because of how simple it is, yet still, offering us little twists and turns here to really spice the whole story up. Some twists work better than others, but for the most-part, they were fun as hell to have thrown at me. And yes, I am still talking about the twists and turns of the story, not Tom Cruise’s rockin’ six-pack that he probably donned for 5 minutes in his one, shirtless scene.

Oh yeah, and I think "they" deserve a nomination for "Best Distraction in Every Scene She Shows Up".

Oh yeah, and I think “they” deserve a nomination for “Best Distraction in Every Scene She Shows Up”.

Speaking of Cruise, a lot of people were pissing off their hats because they felt like Cruise wasn’t the right pick for a character that was about 6″5, whereas Cruise is roughly around 5″7. Seems like a pretty big difference in terms of keeping with the characters look, feel, and style, but it actually works in making Reacher more of a bad-ass and more unpredictable with what the hell he will do next. Cruise fits this role like a glove because he has all of the charm, all of the wit, all of the smarts, and all of the bad-assery to make a tough-as-nails character like this to work, and never have him come off as annoying or plainly unbelievable. Some scenes seem like Reacher really *ahem* reaches for the sky and defeats the purpose of gravity, but it was okay because Cruise seemed like he was having so much fun with the role, that you just can’t hate on him for it. Maybe the power of Scientology was on Cruise’s side this time again, because he seemed perfect for this role and I don’t think there was anybody else I could have thought of replacing him. Actually, maybe there is but as of right now, I don’t really care about it too much to think that hard and in-depth about it. Fact is, Cruise is great and be happy to see him kicking-ass once again.

Rosamund Pike plays the sassy, but smart defense lawyer that helps him out with the info and details of what’s really going on and has a cool, but believable piece of chemistry with him, almost to where I could really see them working together on cases in real-life. Pike is fun to watch and even though she may be a tad goofy when she tries for the whole comedy-routine, she still does a nice-job of not being lame and thankfully, not being another damsel-in-distress that needs help from Reacher, every step of the way. Even though her goofiness is saved by a strong-arch her character features, I can’t say the same about Werner Herzog in a very unusual, but inspired role as the main villain behind this whole case, known as “The Zec”. Herzog seems like he’s a perfect fit for this role and this character, had it been in an extremely campy, B-movie where he was allowed to be weird, strange, and terribly stupid in the ways he acted. But here, he just seems out-of-place and way too cartoonish for a movie that seems so set in reality, despite having a couple of scenes that defy it. Thankfully, one of his henchmen that’s played by Jai Courtney, takes over things and proves to be more of an intimidating force behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-scenes as well. Suddenly, I’m not all that worried about a new Die Hard movie and having this kid play John McClane’s son.

He's just pissed because he wasn't the one asking the questions for this movie.

He’s just pissed because he wasn’t the one asking the questions for this movie.

Adding some class to this strange bit of a characters, is non other than the likes of Robert Duvall playing a goofy, old man that has a knack for a sniper and made me realize how much I miss this damn guy showing-up in movies, Richard Jenkins as Pike’s daddy that may be on either side-of-the-fence, and David Oyelowo, as a cop that always seems to be at the right-place, at the right-time. Overall, a fine cast that definitely milks this script for all it’s worth, but it’s the action and Cruise who steal the show on this outing.

Consensus: Jack Reacher may be too goofy, too silly, and too stupid for some of the more “demanding” viewers to get through their into their heads and accept, but as for the rest of the of us who like silly, goofy, and stupid movies, then it will definitely entertain, but in a more old-school, 70’s-classic thriller-way that seems to be very reoccurring with most of our thrillers nowadays. Thank the High Heavens of Cinema for that!

8/10=Matinee!!

Yeah, they're pretty shocked too that I didn't make another Katie Holmes-reference. But Tom, on the other hand, well, he knows better. Ain't that right you sly son of a bitch?

Yeah, they’re pretty shocked too that I didn’t make another Katie Holmes-reference. But Tom, on the other hand, well, he knows better. Ain’t that right you sly son of a bitch?

Liberal Arts (2012)

Once I’m past 30, man, my life is going to suck.

Jesse (Josh Radnor), a 35-year-old college admissions officer from New York City who loves literature and language, returns to his alma mater in Ohio to attend a retirement ceremony for a beloved professor (Richard Jenkins). While there he meets nineteen-year-old girl named Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), whose love of literature thrills him. They become pen pals, among other things and realize more about their life than anything ever before.

I’m not going to sit-here and lie to all of you, because quite frankly, that’s just not how I roll my dice and I never intend on doing. So, by saying that I’m just going to state that when it comes to movies about trying to hold onto your youth and staying cool, I can’t really find much to relate to. I mean I’m 19 years old, I still go to college, I still take classes, I still drive my own car, and sadly, I still live under my parents roof. So that’s why when it comes to a story about an older-dude, trying to go back to his glory days and see what he can do with a much-younger gal, not only am I bit horrified (age-gaps in relationships bother me, I don’t know why), but I also find it hard to be able to reach out and say, “Hey, I know where you’re coming from, man.” Obviously, I’m probably not the only one who feels like this but it was just something that kept-on going throughout my head as I was watching this and what made it even weirder, was the fact that I actually liked the film for that reason. Very strange thing for me, indeed.

"Alright, well, your sisters are 3 years older than you so that's not so bad, right?"

“Alright, well, your twin-sisters are 3 years older than you so that’s not so bad, right?”

This is the sophomore-effort from writer/director Josh Radnor and I have to be frank with you, I don’t really like the guy. That’s not to say that I don’t think he has talent or isn’t funny, but I was just never a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother, and even when I did actually stop-by to check-out an episode or two, he never really came off as funny to me. He tried a bit too hard it seemed and it was almost like that TV show was going to be his only claim-to-fame. However, it seems like I am terribly wrong with that idea because the guy actually has a great talent behind-the-screen and even though I didn’t check out the guy’s first movie, I still think it’s easy to say that I look forward to seeing what this guy can do.

One of the main points about this whole flick is how people, men especially (trust me), try to play both sides of the fence when it comes to mentor-teacher relationships. They try to be hip, with it, and cool, like all of the youngsters out there, but at the same time, they can’t help themselves to throw a little bit of wisdom down there for short measure and still feel like they deserve the equality and respect because they are older and apparently, know more. I’m not saying all older-people are like this, but it’s obvious that this is how most of them feel and that’s why this movie is intriguing  because it walks a fine-line between being all about being young, once again, but at the same time, also shows you that you sort of have to embrace the fact that you’re getting older, and your glory days are sort of behind you now. It’s a very true-statement to humans and the way of life, and the way that Radnor goes about it in this flick really surprised the hell out of me, mainly because it seems believable.

Before any of you out-there begin to write this movie off as a piece of garbage because it shows a relationship between two people that are 16-years-apart from one another, don’t worry, because Radnor sort of shows how it as well. What I mean by that is that Radnor understands that this “sort of” relationship between these two people is a bit ridiculous in terms of the age-gap, but also makes it seem pretty reasonable because they actually share a lot in-common and it makes you wonder if Radnor is ever going to take that plunge into her bed, or just her brain. There is some-bit of suspense to that, but while you’re waiting, you can also just sit-back and realize that these two don’t just have to be boyf and girlf, they can actually be very, very good-friends that can help each other in the world and how to make it better for themselves. It’s a nice relationship, that is treated more as a friendship and shows you that sometimes, a man and a woman can have more of a connection between each other by sharing thoughts and ideas, rather than fluids. If, you get what I’m saying.

You know how we can tell he's having a mid-life crisis? Facial hair.

You know how we can tell he’s having a mid-life crisis? Facial hair.

Radnor’s ideas are very well thought-out and very pleasant to see play-out, in terms of his easy-going direction, but the film as a whole, just doesn’t seem to stick with you, quite as much as the scenes between Radnor and Olsen. A lot of the scenes where it’s just Radnor talking to other people about life, growing-up, and reading literature, feel like they came right from his brain and obviously from a guy that knows what he’s talking, but is also trying to sound a lot like Woody Allen but less realistic in how people actually speak. Some people here work in montages and speak as if they’ve been waiting to say these witty lines for days on end and as entertaining and funny as it may be to hear in a movie like this, it sort of comes off as a bit unrealistic. People who love literature and read about a book-a-day, would definitely have open discussions about the meanings and themes behind certain pieces of it, but still, would they really get right down to it by quoting random lines and it’s significance and meaning to actual-life as a whole? Maybe they would, I guess it all depends on the type of person you’re talking about, but here, it doesn’t really quite work and shows you that maybe Radnor has some areas he needs to work on.

However, the most believable aspect behind this whole movie is actually the friendship between Olsen and Radnor, and I think that’s mainly because their chemistry is so perfect. Olsen works perfectly as Zibby, because she has this look and act to her that seems wise beyond her years, whereas Radnor has this boyish charm to him that makes him seem like a guy that’s tired with getting old and just wants to live it up a bit. Watching them work together is great and really has you thinking about how much you can’t blame the guy for being so attracted to her in the first-place and may just have to go for the relationship, despite the 16-year age-difference between the two. Yeah, I’m a big believer in that those types of relationships just creep me out and rarely ever work but for this one, I was able to let my guard down just a tad bit and that’s why I enjoyed this film, as well as the relationship a lot more.

"To bone, or not to bone?", is the real question at-hand in this scene.

“To bone, or not to bone?”, is the real question at-hand in this scene.

Playing the aging-professor of Radnor’s is Richard Jenkins, who, once-again, gives a fabulous performance that shows the guy being the coolest and hippest old dude out there. Some of the scenes with Jenkins really struck a chord with me, since it’s obvious to see how and why somebody would get so caught-up in teaching other people all you know and it just shows you the type of skill and talent Jenkins has as an actor. Allison Janney is alright as the stand-offish professor of Radnor’s who shows up every once and awhile, and acts like a total bitch and as good as she is at playing it, it’s a bit annoying considering it’s an act she does quite-well and a bit too often for my liking. The most surprising one out of this whole cast is probably Zac Efron as the hippie who shows up on campus whenever Radnor is around, and they just chill-out, talk, and trade some soul-secrets with one another. Efron’s very good in a small-role like this and it has me happier to know that not only can this guy dance and sing, but he can also act and make his presence one that you’re happy be around. Hopefully it continues on-and-on for him, as I’ve always had hope in him, no matter how much The Lucky One still stays in my mind.

Consensus: Though it’s ideas and themes about growing-up and trying to stay cool don’t stick with you as much as they intend-to, Liberal Arts still proves that Josh Radnor is not only just a likable guy in-front of the screen, but knows how to write and direct a movie that shows him for what he used to be, wants to be, and gives us a feeling like we will soon be hitting the same mid-life crisis this guy seems to just be hitting, as of right now. Poor guy.

7/10=Rental!!

I think this is the rare instance where I say that Allison Janney is the hottest one out of the four.

I think this is the rare instance where I say that Allison Janney is the hottest one out of the four. If only Olsen lost the preppy, school-boy look.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Osama’s dead! Now it’s time for Hollywood to take advantage!

The film is a chronicle of the decade-long hunt for the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following the September 11 attacks, and his ultimate-death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011.

Unless you have been living under a cave for the past years (sort of like Osama himself), then you’ll probably already know how this story ends. People get on the look-out for Osama, find some tip-offs, locate his living quarters, send a search and destroy team, and basically, destroy him and everybody else that was practically in there.

After a decade of anger, frustration, sadness, paranoia, and a great deal of questions left unanswered, we, as a country, finally got what we wanted ever since those fateful hours of 9/11: we killed the son-of-a-bitch that was to be blamed for all of it. If you like to look at humanity in the eyes that every person made in God’s eyes are equal and judged the same, but if you look at it from another pair of eyes, you’ll start to realize that this was a piece of shit that deserved to die, deserved to be stuck in-hiding half of his life, and better yet, deserved to be killed the way he was. In my opinions, no matter how brutal or vicious, I feel like the guy got-off a bit easy with a couple of shots to the dome (apparently) and no torture whatsoever, when this is also the same guy that killed over 3,000 innocent people in just one day. Yeah, in case you couldn’t tell by now, I’m rooting for America on this one and I usually don’t get all this “hurrah! hurrah!”, over being a patriot of my country, but there’s just something about the idea of finding the person that was responsible for so many deaths and broken hearts in one day, killing him, and showing him, as well as his followers, what the ‘eff is up with the good, olde U.S. of A. I hate to sound all lame-ass and cliche, but damn, was I proud to be an American after seeing this movie.

No, I did not just spoil the movie's ending with this image.

No, I did not just spoil the movie’s ending with this image.

This also really surprised the hell out of me as well, mainly because I wasn’t expecting feelings like this to pop-up, after expecting this to be Kathryn Bigelow’s big, follow-up to The Hurt Locker, a war movie in which, it seemed like the theme was very much against the war, rather than creating a love-letter to those who fight for our safety and freedom, day-in and day-out. It’s not like Bigelow went full-throttle at the army’s throats and showed them how much of dirty and despicable bastards they can truly-be, but instead, showed them more as a bunch of people that have problems, just like you or me. It was a nice movie, a nice war movie, and a very nice movie with a smart message to-boot, but that’s not the film I’m reviewing here.

The movie I am reviewing instead is this one, Zero Dark Thirty. Up until a couple of days ago where I heard this movie has been destroying film festival award shows, I wasn’t really all that amped-up to see this flick. Yeah, we all know the story about Bin Laden, we all know the cook gets shot, and yes, we all know that people did a lot to figure-out just where, how, and when this guy hid for so long. It was an obvious story that just seemed like it was going to be the more modern, war-version take on a “based on factual events” story like Argo. However, slowly but surely, this movie really started to creep-up and find it’s way into my mind and have me very, very excited to see what was going to go down and after awhile, I got to thinking: I didn’t really know all that much about the whole Bin Laden-killing as it was.

Yeah, I knew how it began and how it ended, which is pretty much enough for some people, but being the type of guy that likes reasons, explanations, and understandings to most of the stories that I find-out to actually be true, I knew there was more than meets-the-eyes and that is exactly what you can expect from this movie. Right from the start, you know you are in for a thrill-ride that is full of suspense, espionage, exposition, clues, hints, interrogations, arguments, conversations, torture, and best of all, action. This movie basically has it all and even though the first 20 minutes seems to go a bit over-the-top with the whole “torture” idea, it soon builds into something that doesn’t need to have things exploding or people being shot to keep you interested and riveted; it just uses conversations, and wonderful conversations at-that.

Seeing how this whole investigation got from Point A, to Point B, is pretty damn interesting, but what’s even more interesting is how much feels like it’s on the line in this flick. When these characters are out searching for Bin Laden, where’s he hiding, and who the hell helped him with terrorist attacks, we feel as if we are there searching with them as well, with just enough terror and suspense as you could imagine. I knew how this was going to turn-out and if you are the biggest-idiot on the face of the Earth and don’t know by now, well then, you do too. It’s a real-life investigation that just so happened to turn-out successful  but getting to that point where everybody is happy, jolly, and feeling victorious, is a real, fucking ride that will take you all-over-the-place in terms of emotions and thoughts. Actually, maybe saying it will fuck with your mind is the wrong-impression to give you, but if you like a thriller where you have no idea what’s going to happen next and like to have your palms sweaty for about 95% of the actual-movie, then this is the type of thriller for you that will stick with you just as much as it did to me.

Even though she could order a team of highly-trained professionals to come and kill me in a matter of seconds with no traces whatsoever, I'd still try my hardest for her heart.

Even though she could order a team of highly-trained professionals to come and kill me in a matter of seconds with no traces whatsoever, I’d still try my hardest for her heart.

And as for the rest of that 5%, well, I sort of left that out, mostly because it seems like more of this flick is about getting the facts straight and telling it like it is, which was all fine and dandy with me for the most part, especially because all of it seemed to be pretty legitimate. As with most of these movies that take on an actual, real-life investigation that had to deal with the U.S. government, there’s always a lot of speculation as to what is real, what is dramatized, and what is fake. For the most-part, after all of the controversies this flick has seem to be dealing with as of-late, I can easily state that most of what you will see and hear here, is in-fact told in the way it went-down. Of course not every scene was filled with as much witty-lines and moments of humor that this movie’s scripts throws in there to great-effect, but the ideas, the hints, the clues, the thoughts, and the actions, all seem to be very reasonable and I never really found myself scratching my head as to how the hell somebody could pull something-off like this, no matter how much leverage she may have had. However, it’s less of a history-lesson and more of a thriller that shows you what went-down, how it went-down, and what exactly was going through the minds of the people behind all of the actions. Some good, some bad, some are just not worth giving a fuck about but at the end of the day, Osama was killed and everybody was happy and joyful together. Yippie-Kay-Yay!

Featuring a cast that doesn’t really have any real, blockbuster names to attract an audience to a flick that already seems like it may have a bit of a struggle with making moolah around this time of the year, definitely seems like a risk that Bigelow is willing to take, and a risk I want to watch her take, more and more now, especially after what I saw what she could do with an amazing cast like this. After having what is essentially the greatest year of her freakin’ life so-far (other than that one, beautiful summer where she went to camp and become a woman for the first-time, I don’t know, just guessing that it’s what all girls have memories of), Chastain builds on top of that with a stellar-performance that is probably the best she has given so far, mainly because her character goes through so many changes throughout the whole flick, but yet, they all feel real.

Ahhhh, beautiful Pakistan.

Ahhhh, beautiful Pakistan.

When we first see Chastain as Maya, we see her as soft-spoken, scared, and a bit of wimpy-like girl that can’t handle the sight of so much blood and torture that she sees within the first 20 minutes, but after awhile, she gets used to it and realizes that maybe, just maybe, she, as well as the rest of the CIA, needs to get their shit together and find this summbitch who caused all of this trouble in the first-place. Chastain is strong-as-hell in this role and you can totally tell that as time continues to go-on for her and for this mission, that the look on her face and her eyes, begin to change and get more and more disrupted by the anger and frustration that sort of domes come with the job of being a very-skilled member of the CIA and handling a mission like locating, and taking-out a top-terrorist. Every look she gives another character in this movie feels deserved and she is such a strong female-character that you are able to stand-by, trust, and feel like she is literally a nice human-being that only wants what’s right for her, her own well-being, and her own country that she fights for day on a daily-basis. No surprise whatsoever that this gal is getting so much damn Oscar buzz for this and if she does win (which she just might), I will have no objection or angry-tirade whatsoever. Hell, after all that she did last year, the woman deserves it. But please, somebody just give her my number!

Her co-star from this year’s earlier-release, Lawless, Jason Clarke has the next best role as another member of the CIA, but yet, has a way different job than her. See, Clarke’s character is a guy that has to deal with the torturing and question of their Iranian prisoners and as hard as it may be to watch some of the actual torture that does go-down in the flick (mainly within the first 20 minutes, just to let you know how crazy, wild and disturbing this movie is going to be), it’s even harder to watch a character like this have to suffer from doing something that literally makes him a miserable human-being. Clarke is a guy I never really payed attention-to in the past, mainly because I never thought he really needed to shine in the spotlight, he’s just always been there, but here, every chance the guy gets, he absolutely nails it in showing us how a character that does something so vicious and violent for a living, can actually still stay sane and normal in the outside world around him. If it wasn’t for all of the buzz that has already been surrounding every-other aspect of this damn movie, then I would definitely have to say that Clarke would be up for an Oscar nom., but as for right now, I think I may just have to wait and keep my, Minnesota Fats-like fingers crossed.

"Seriously, since you're night-vision doesn't work, you brought a candle?"

“Seriously, since you’re night-vision doesn’t work, you brought a candle instead? Do you not know what we are here to do!?!?”

Even though Clarke and Chastain may be the real stands-out of the flick, you know, the ones you really remember when all is said and done, they sure as hell aren’t the only ones that give solid performances worth-mentioning. Mark Strong shows up in a couple of scenes, and absolutely hits the high-rising emotions in this flick, and hits them hard, especially with an introduction-scene that is one of the best he has ever done in his entire career. Trust me, just ask the fellas I saw this movie with. They’ll probably tell you I couldn’t stop quoting his damn scene and with good reason: it’s memorable, important, and best of all, perfect. And no, for all of you people out there wondering: Mark Strong does not play Osama Bin Laden, regardless of what his past-decisions for characters may have you think otherwise. Kyle Chandler seems to be having a lot of fun playing, once again, another member of the CIA that seems to always have the right, witty answers to every solution, but yet, still can’t keep an eye on his own shit and even get the chance to cover his own-ass. Chandler’s been doing some real splendid work as of late, and I think this flick is only going to prove that point a whole lot more. James Gandolfini also shows-up in a scene or two as the main, higher-up of the CIA that always has to give final-word to the president and even though it’s not a glamorous-role for the guy, it’s not one that shows how much of a fat-slob he has become, either. He’s just a normal dude, with a very demanding job.

However, these three are the only three I could really think-of off the top of my head and say exactly why I liked them so much here, because everybody else, I kid you not, is as great as they should be. Every tiny, little-role that Bigelow needs filled-up, she fills it up with a great actor/actress that gives their all and might into scene that sometimes doesn’t mean a shit in the long-run, but after it’s over, you are still left remembering it because of how well-acted it truly was. The only bad apple out of this whole cast that really seems like he may have been trying a bit too hard was Chris Pratt as the main, Navy Seal that goes into Bin Laden’s cave. I love Pratt to death and I think he is an absolute riot as Andy Dwyer, but seriously, you can’t go from a character that’s all about being a man-child, who is dumb, big, and slow, in terms of understanding the things around him, and go right to a character that practically slimes his way around and about Bin Laden’s head-quarters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pratt and he’s not even that bad here, but he just seems like he should be off, doing something more comedic that would use him well.

Despite all of this big and bad jibberoo about why the movie works and how, I can only imagine the real question on your mind: what about the whole Bin Laden-shooting? Well, without giving too much away or even letting you know of what fully goes down, I’m just going to state that Bigelow handles it in the most understandable, most respectful, and most perfect way that makes you realize how far everybody has come to this point and in a way, what is to come of us next, not only as a country lead by an army, but as humans living in the country as well. Bigelow handles this last-sequence where all of the Navy Seals find their-ways to Bin Laden as if we are actually there, right next to them, as they make all of the tough shots and calls, and it’s probably the most exciting and suspenseful, piece of 30 minutes at the theaters I have spent in a very, very long-time. And mind you, I am talking about the whole Bin Laden-shooting. Something that I actually have prior knowledge to knowing that it did actually happen!

"What by the term, "Casual Friday", do you not understand?"

“What by the term, “Casual Friday”, do you not understand?”

Yup, it surprised the hell out of me too, but if there is anything that surprised the hell out of me, is how happy and proud I was to be in a country where most humans have the rights to do whatever they want, however they want it, and mainly because we all are humans, no matter what eyes you look through. Now, I’m not saying that it’s right for people to do anything they want, whenever they want because they’re humans (last Frdiay’s shootings come to mind), but for people that can choose between right-and-wrong, and are given a set of ideas as to what is right for the world and everybody else living in it, it’s a beautiful country we live in and it’s one that makes me happy, just knowing that I am being protected by people who are days and days away from me, but yet, still continue to keep me safe at-night, while I sit here, half-naked, drink a Mountain Dew, and talk about a movie that’s all about them. Yes, thank you all for saving my life day-after-day, please don’t stop either, because I really like not having to look over my shoulder every five seconds.

Consensus: Some historical facts and inaccuracies may always be up for discussion here in Zero Dark Thirty, but what cannot be up for discussion is how entertaining, enlightening, smart, provocative, well-acted, and perfectly-performed this flick truly is and I really do see it winning a crap-load of Oscars, come February of 2013.

9/10=Full Price!!

Looks like the perfect cover for a video-game version of the movie.

Looks like the perfect cover for a video-game version of the movie.

Near Dark (1987)

The 80’s weren’t cool, but vampires were. That’s more than I can say about this decade.

A young man named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) lives in a small midwestern town and becomes involved with a family of nomadic American vampires. Since he’s along for the ride, Caleb has to learn to love, kill, and also stay alive as a vampire.

Whenever you hear people bring-up director Kathryn Bigelow’s name, they usually associate it with The Hurt Locker and the next, Afghan-War-setting movie coming-out, Zero Dark Thirty. Yes, the gal has been keeping her self busy lately and definitely has been impressing everybody out there with what she can do but little do people actually know, is that she’s actually made a crap-load of films, way, way before she even got nominated for an Oscar. Some people probably don’t know this, but Bigelow actually took a chance at making a vampire flick, and it’s something I wish she did today to make us forget about all the Bella’s, Jacob’s, and Edward’s. Although, it doesn’t really matter anyway because they’re gone baby! Woo-hoo!

Taking elements of a western, vampire, road, and horror movie and putting them altogether in one movie, makes it seem a bit like a bad idea but somehow, Bigelow makes it work. Her keen-eye for the beautiful scenery of the American Southwest is definitely something that makes this feel a bit Western-y, but then you add in all of the creepy, horror-elements of these vampires, the things they do to survive, and how they don’t give a shit who or what it is that they kill. I don’t want to sell this film like a scary movie, because it really is not, but what it does work on is tension and being as gruesome to watch as it can possibly be.

"If you think we look bad, you should see what the other guy looks like. Especially his neck."

“If you think we look bad, you should see what the other guy looks like. Especially his neck.”

Bigelow has definitely nailed-down the true essence of how to build suspense in one film, but also in certain-scenes as well and there’s a scene here that seems like the first-instance of it. There’s this really cool scene where the whole family goes into this bar, with the intentions of drinking some people’s blood, and realizing that they have a somewhat packed-house, so all they do is basically have a great time with it, kill people left-and-right, terrorize the shit out of the place, and have a smile on their faces the whole time. It’s probably the best scene in the whole movie, and one that kept me tense the whole time because I never knew what was going to happen next, how, or who was going to be possibly killed-off next. To say that this flick is a horror movie would not be categorizing it in the right way, it’s more of a thriller, that just so happens to have vampires doing normal, vampire-like things like biting people, causing havoc, and sucking people’s blood. You know? The finer things in life when you’re a vampire.

However, this one scene may be the best of the whole film, but also just so happens to be the killer of it as well (pun intended, I guess). See, the problem that I had with this flick that so many other people probably didn’t really pay-attention to because they like fun more than me, is that the movie doesn’t really feel like it has any real-spark driving the film along at steady, understandable-pace. For instance, the movie starts off pretty boring as we watch these two love-birds try and see who can get lucky by the end of the night, only to have the whole vampire twisteroo pop-up, and send things into a weird-spin that should feel like the film’s going to pick-up, but it somehow doesn’t.

"It's a blood-patch. What? It hasn't yet caught-on to humans?"

“It’s called a blood-patch. What? It hasn’t caught-on to human culture, yet?”

With the exception of a couple of scenes, especially the one in the bar that I just mentioned, everything else in this flick is pretty dull to the romance that never shows any signs of actual chemistry, let alone any “love” being involved whatsoever; to the corny, synth score from Tangerine Dream that just so happens to be in here for one reason and one reason only: it’s the 80’s and synths are apparently cool; to the explanation of how you can overcome this vampire disease, that made me think the creators of Daybreakers actually worked with some scientists; and finally, to the family full of nuts that I didn’t quite care about, mainly because they don’t ever seem to share any pure-moments of bonding because all they ever do together is kill, suck, and move. I would have loved this movie like every other fanboy out there in the world, but the film just lacked any sort of emotional, or compelling-drive to honestly reel me in as much as it wanted to.

Since it is the 80’s, you know that we have to have a crazy-ass performance from Bill Paxton, and that’s exactly what he delivers here as Severen. Paxton can play crazy, like no otha motha, and he shows that so well here and even steals a couple of the scenes he’s been given permission to take. Yeah, Paxton may be over-the-top, campy, and hamming-it-up like nobody’s business, but at least the guy was fun to watch and kept my attention off of the relatively lame and dull story, that just never seemed to catch-up with this guys energy.

The only instance of this kid's career being "on fire."

The only instance of this kid’s career being “on fire.”

Playing the leader of the group of vampires, is Lance Henriksen that really does have a sinister act and persona to him that makes you shiver, quiver, and feel a bit scared whenever he’s around. The guy’s got a presence that makes me wonder why he isn’t in more stuff, just absolutely scaring the shit out of more and more people, and trust me, with a voice like that, a guy can do damage to some people’s pants. The lovebirds that get stuck in the middle of all of this craziness and horror are played by Jenny Wright and Adrian Pesdar, and as much as they try their hardest to make us feel their love and cook something-up, nothing ever gets hot and heavy between one another and it just seems like another forced romance that’s supposed to move the plot along, despite us not believing in a single-lick of it. I can’t also forget to mention the annoying piece of shit kid-actor known as Joshua John Miller, who I mainly remember annoying the crap out of me in River’s Edge, and you know what? Not much changes here, either, as I still wanted to beat the shit non-stop out of this kid and just hope and pray nobody cares about his movie-career. I highly doubt anybody would care anyway, but still, I just couldn’t help my evil-thoughts at times during this movie.

Consensus: In a day and age where vampires are star-crossed lovers that are torn-apart due to sappy stories that we don’t care about, Near Dark is a fresh change-of-pace for the vampire movie-genre where they were taken more seriously, showed more gore, and most of all, allowed themselves to do the dirty deeds they were invented to do in the first-place: suck blood out of random people’s necks. It’s not perfect, but it’s nice to watch if you want to get over the whole Twilight-craze being over and done with….for now.

7/10=Rental!!

Was that seriously the only light source they had in that area?

Was that seriously the only light source they had in the area?

Playing for Keeps (2012)

All the single, hot-to-trot mothers can never keep those hormones in-tact whenever that Scottish accent comes through. Oh, roar!

A former professional soccer player (Gerard Butler) with a weak past tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team, only to find himself unable to resist when in scoring position with his players’ restless and gorgeous moms.

Alright, before all of you get your torches and brooms and come right to my door-step and try to burn the witch that has apparently taken over my movie-viewing control, let me just tell you that the decision to not only watch, but review this movie, was all mine. Yes, nobody other me, myself, and I chose to watch and review Playing for Keeps and because of that, I have come to terms with myself and just realized one thing: I am a fucking idiot. Yes, I am a lot happier now that I’ve realized that about myself. Thanks Gerard Butler!

"Hahaha but seriously! How many how more of these lame-ass rom-coms do I have to do?"

“Hahaha but seriously! How many how more of these lame-ass rom-coms do I have to do?”

I have no idea where to begin with this piece of shit other than to just focus on the director, Gabriele Muccino, and just what the hell was going-on throughout his mind during filming. This movie tries to be one-step above the rom-com genre by infusing the thrill and fun of the sport of soccer into it, but really, it’s just the same old shite we have all seen before. Dad tries to pick himself back-up from nothing, does a very good job at doing so for quite awhile, finds himself in a dilemma, finds himself back into nothing, and then, low and behold, he’s back on-top and everybody is happy, running around in fields of daisies and rainbows. Okay, maybe I just gave away the whole movie there and maybe, just maybe, that isn’t exactly what happens but seriously, if you get pissed about how the whole movie was just spoiled in one sentence and you had no idea what was going to happen, then you, my friend, should not even read my site anymore, let alone watch movies.

This movie, is as obvious, predictable, and conventional as they come, but it’s even worse because it’s so damn dull. There’s nothing new here, there’s nothing fun to really watch here, and worst of all, there’s just nothing to stick-around and watch. You watch these characters just do their thang, act like you’d expect them to, and to have absolutely no effect on you, your life, or your thoughts whatsoever. It’s almost like you’ve never seen this movie and coming from a guy who actually did waste his precious time and life seeing it: you’re probably better off that way. In case you couldn’t tell by now, this movie fucking blows and if you want to see more as to why that is, continue to read-on but if you get the point and want to just get on with your life, then leave this site and come back tomorrow when I have another review of another movie coming up. Trust me, I won’t be offended, I’ll actually commend you for doing-so.

Ever since the new millennium hit, they had absolutely nothing to clap about. So, why the hell are they?!?

Ever since the new millennium hit, they had absolutely nothing to clap about. So, why the hell are they?!?

The biggest question-mark going-on in my mind throughout this whole flick was: who’s wife did Gerard Butler fuck? Honestly, Butler must have done something terribly inhumane to some higher-up in Hollywood, because it seems like they just place him in these movies, regardless of what it is, tell him what to do, tell him to use no emotion whatsoever, and just act like you don’t really care if you’re there or not, just accept the check and be done with it. I don’t know if he cut a deal with somebody where he has to do shitty-movie-after-shitty-movie to lose the price on his head, but whatever it may be, the guy’s got it bad and what’s even worse, is that he does nothing to help this movie out in the least bit.

Butler is as dull and boring as they come and the whole time I wondered just what the hell made him so much more different from any other male-lead in these rom-coms that come-out once a week? Is it the facial hair? Is it the sexy build that has somehow decreased year-after-year since 300? Or simply, is it the Scottish accent that seems to get every gal’s panties to fly-off into the mist? I think it’s the latter and that’s a shame too, because after seeing a movie like Coriolanus and realizing that this guy kicks total ass when he gets the chance to do so, just makes this movie, his role, and his performance all the more terrible and disappointing to watch. Come on, Hollywood! Give Gerard Butler another chance! I’m sure the guy is sorry for whatever the hell he did.

What’s even worse about this flick is the rest of the impressive cast that this movie has going for it, and how equally dull they all are. Jessica Biel plays Butler’s ex gal-pal that he has a kiddie with and as hot and sexy as she is here, she is also nothing more than just a piece of cardboard here with some dialogue she has to spring-out of her. Biel, just give up on acting and do porn or something and make yourself useful. Make us all happier and stop trying to take your career seriously because honestly, nobody does. Not even, dare I say it, Justin does.

"Remember me! I was in the Descendants last year! Please hire me again!"

“Remember me! I was in the Descendants last year! Please hire me again!”

As by-the-numbers Biel is, it isn’t much of a surprise since the girl blows in just about everything but actresses like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer, and Uma Thurman!!?!?!? Aww, hell no! In the past decade, these girls have all given some of their best performances in their whole-careers and it’s such a damn shame to see them do a pile of shite like this, try their hardest, but in the end, just come-off as a bunch of obvious, walking cliches of a bunch of women that couldn’t keep their clothes on whenever some sexy, built Scottish man came strolling through their neck of the woods. It makes me very, very sad to see them all do this type of crap and what’s even worse, is that Dennis Quaid is here as well, and I don’t think I need to say anything more about that. Okay, I’m going to go and cry now.

Consensus: Playing for Keeps may have one redeeming factor to it: it’s fun to watch and make fun of if you’re reviewer like yours truly. However, if you aren’t, then you’ll probably find yourself cringing, upset, pissed-off, confused, and just plain and simply, bored with everything that occurs on-screen and wonder just when exactly you can begin to move on with your life and act as if you have never, ever seen this piece of shit. I already have, and I’m about to finish my last sentence of this review, right….about…..now! Yes!

1/10=Crapola!!

In case you wanted to actually know, those are their REAL heads, attached to their REAL necks. Convinced yet?

In case you wanted to actually know, those are their REAL heads, attached to their REAL necks. Convinced yet?

Coriolanus (2011)

Damn, Shakespeare is pretty hardcore if you think about it.

The original story revolves around the destiny of Gaius Marcius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes), a contemptuous Roman general who attempts to run for the Senate but fails. When his ensuing rage leads him to be banished from Rome, he must team up with his lifelong enemy, Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler), to seek revenge and attack the city with his army.

Now, I will admit it, I am not the biggest fan when it comes to Billy Shakespeare. In school, whenever I had to read one of his plays, I put all my heart and soul into it, trying to understand what the hell he was saying, why it was being said, and wondering why everybody didn’t just say shit like, “Hello, how are you doing?”, instead of, “Howeth now areth browneth?”. Obviously that is not something they say in any of Shakespeare’s plays, but you get my drift. Basically, it’s freakin’ confusing sometimes to fully read and understand what Shakespeare plays are all about and 9 times out of 10, I would always find myself Spark Noting the shit out of his stuff. Sorry Billy, you’re an inspiration to writers all over the planet, but I don’t know what half of this shit means.

He's got the only chair in existence, apparently.

He’s got the only chair in existence, apparently.

So, that’s essentially why I was not looking forward to this flick because not only is this all based on one of Shakespeare’s last political plays, but everybody on-screen also speaks in the Old English dialect as well. After seeing Romeo & Juliet and practically despising it, I was ready to just turn it off and see what new episodes of Parks & Rec that they had on Netflix, but I decided to stay with it and you know what? Thank god for that, because this is exactly what I needed to understand and appreciate Shakespeare more, in a world where it almost seems like he’s treated as old-news, as evidenced by the homework that I used to do on him.

The reason why everything makes so much more sense here in a powerful way, is because we get to see anything and everything that Shakespeare is talking about. The script is basically line-for-line from Shakespeare, even though it’s oddly-adapted from John Logan, and because of that, we get to visualize everything that’s happening in this play, which allows Ralph Fiennes to run rampant as director and make every setting and every action, fit perfectly in with all of the dialogue. What really surprised me was the world that Fiennes created for this play, and how the grittiness and dirtiness of this setting, sort of fit in well with what Shakespeare was trying to say all those hundred years ago, and also, what’s sort of going on in our world nowadays.

In a world where uprisings in Egypt seem to happen all the time, a world where more people in America are beginning to join the Occupy movement, and a world where nobody seems to be happy with the job they have and fight back against the government, it’s surprising how universal and timeless this play comes off as despite being written in 1605. Civil unrest has, and probably always will be around no matter the country/region, and that’s what Coriolanus shows off perfectly. The world we live in may have a couple of changes here and there, but there will always be evil, there will always be revolts, and there will always be problems between the people and the government and the way that Fiennes lets all of this play-out in an understandable way, without ever getting rid of the original text is something very powerful in terms of previous Shakespeare film-adaptations.

"Bad Coriolanus, bad!"

“Bad Coriolanus, bad!”

Fiennes does a great job in allowing this story to tell itself off through amazing scenes where it’s just dialogue and nothing else. The misleading trailer pretty much screwed everybody over by promising a crazy-amount of action and blood in the same vein as The Hurt Locker, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. There is, however, about 15 minutes worth of action but the rest of hour and 45 minutes, is just people straight-up chatting/yelling/talking/spitting about at one another, and as boring as that may sound, it’s not because it captures your eyes and engages you right from the start. That’s the great element that Fiennes brings to this source material and even had me clinching my pillow at numerous times by how tense it got with certain scenes. Seriously, this film is no joke in terms of Shakespeare and capturing the heart and soul of it, and that’s something we have to applaud Fiennes for, as a director that is.

As an actor, though, Fiennes deserves more applause because the guy is absolutely compelling from start-to-finish in this role and it’s almost un-like anything we have ever seen him do before. Fiennes’ career has been mostly all about him playing these normal-guy roles, but somehow branching out of them every once and awhile and giving us some crazy, shithead role like the one he had in In Bruges. That same role, is pretty much the same exact thing we get here but it’s a lot scarier because of how the character of Coriolanus just stands over everybody else in the film. When Corionalus first shows up, the guy silences a crowd of angry rioters, but not just by yelling and threatening them, he simply comes out, uses a small-voice, and tells them that they are useless in the world that he lives in, and he steps on them and their demands. Something that’s said like that, should totally assure you two things: 1.) this guy is a total dick, and 2.) holy shit, I should be scared of him.

That’s the initial feeling you first get when you see him, but it starts to change-up a bit as you start to see more and more layers peel off from Coriolanus and we realize that he’s just another flawed character in life, just like your and I. He kicks ass in war and we applaud him for that, but we know for damn sure that he can’t run a country; he’s all about pride and love for his country, but sure as hell doesn’t love the people that inhabit it; and he’s a guy who’s all about vengeance and seeking revenge on the country that banished him, but yet, would still kill his family if they got in the way. Coriolanus is not a very cut-and-dry character that could be determined as a good guy, or bad guy, actually nobody in this film could even be considered one, but having him at the fore-front of it all makes for one compelling piece of a character-study, and shows us exactly why Fiennes is the scariest freakin’ man on Earth, whenever he’s yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs. Doesn’t matter what he’s screaming about or how he’s screaming, it’s just that the fact that he is screaming, is what gets us.

Who says you can't be dangerous, but also look drop-dead sexy while doing so?

Who says you can’t be dangerous, but also look drop-dead sexy while doing so?

However, Coriolanus isn’t the most vicious S.O.B. in the film, despite what I may have you think. No, the one who really runs shit in this whole show is actually his mother Volumnia, played by the great Vanessa Redgrave, who absolutely steals every scene she is in. Redgrave is one of those actresses that I hear about all of the time, but never have really been given the chance to go out and see what she does best but I think may have to change that now because she is powerful as hell here. Every time this old gal steps into a scene, you automatically think it’s going to be another one of those goofy, old ladies that acts crazy because that’s all she can do, but in reality, with this character, you feel scared because you know she’s got something to talk about and she is not going to go away unheard from it, either. It’s a surprise that Redgrave didn’t get a nomination for Best Supporting Actress here, considering she took over the hard-job of scaring everybody’s pants off, despite being 75-years old. Damn can that woman act!

Another performance I was very surprised by was Brian Cox as Coriolanus’ chief advisor, Menenius, but not just because the guy is good (which he always is), but because the guy isn’t another villainous role for him to play. Say what you will about Cox and what he does as a villain, but the guy did need a new change of pace for him and I’m glad he got it here and took total advantage of it all. The other performance that really took me by surprise was Gerard Butler as Coriolanus’ arch-enemy, Tullus Aufilius. For the longest time, Butler has been showing up in shitty rom-com after shitty rom-com, and it left me wondering when the next time was going to be when we were actually going to see this guy be back to Leonidas-style bad-assery. Thankfully, Fiennes was thinking the same thing and decided to give him a very juicy role that not only shows this guy’s physical-intimidation he holds over people, but his way of speaking too. I can’t put my finger on it, but that Scottish accent just makes every single line of dialogue all the more compelling when it’s spoken out of Butler’s mouth and it’s great to see him get something like this. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to last very long at all.

The lamest one out of the whole cast that really surprised me was actually Jessica Chastain as Coriolanus’ wife, because for some odd reason, she just doesn’t seem to fit very well at all with the way everybody is speaking. That’s not to say that Chastain isn’t good here, because she damn well is, it’s just that comes off as the weakest-link in terms of making the Old English sound natural, and not as if you are on-stage trying to over-exaggerate the feelings going on throughout your whole system. Still though, she’s good with what she does and that cannot be taken away from her, even though it sounds like I sort of am taking it away from her. Oh well, I’m a dick.

My other complaint with this film that took me away from giving it a full 9/10, is that every time they would focus on a television discussion, it came off as corny and really unrealistic. I get that everybody’s supposed to be talking in the Old English-way, but whenever the news hosts would come on and start speaking in that tongue, it just bothered me and made me feel like I was almost watching a spoof of a Shakespeare adaptation. Then again, it’s another minor quibble from me and there’s plenty more I could go into detail about, but I’m not because I actually enjoyed this one more than I expected. That’s for damn sure.

Consensus: Coriolanus may have some wandering off as soon as they hear the Old English dialogue still kept in-tact, but for those who stay, will be open to a powerful, compelling, and hard-hitting character-study unlike any other Shakespeare adaptation ever that shows you not only can Shakespeare’s themes still be relevant today, but they sort of go along with what’s happening in our world and with our society.

8/10=Matinee!!

Some happy politicians right there. Just another day at the office for them.

Some happy politicians right there. Just another day at the office for them.

Margaret (2011)

This is exactly what a teenager’s life is like: confusing as hell.

Anna Paquin stars as a 17-year old girl named Lisa Cohen who has to deal with her regular life as a conflicted teenager as well as the moral, legal and sexual pitfalls of the adult world. She struggles with what is right and wrong after taking witnessing the seemingly accidental death of a woman and fighting the ever-building guilt resulting from her role in it.

Holy hell is it a total surprise that I actually got the chance to view this movie! This film has been basically sitting on the shelf for about 6 years now, all because of the fact that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan had an over 3–page script, that made the movie run for as long as 3 hours. Apparently, the studios didn’t like this idea he had and they made him try to shorten up the run-time to make it under 2 hours. Surprisingly, nobody got their way because the film got cut-down to a 150-minute time-limit (all thanks to the master of swift editing, Martin Scorsese) and despite a pretty big-name cast, the film was released in limited theaters, barely even seeing the light of day. Thankfully, that’s what DVD-viewing is all about baby.

"Was somebody that pissed that I didn't show-up in the new Bourne movie, that they had to go-off and spit in my food? Typical NYC diners."

“Was somebody that pissed that I didn’t show-up in the new Bourne movie, that they had to go-off and spit in my food? Typical NYC diners.”

So after going over the whole history of this movie for you in that last paragraph, you would think that a production this troubled goes two ways: either it’s a unknown masterpiece that only people who go out there and reach for it, will love until the day they die, or, it’s just a bunch donkey crap, that should have just stay shelved. Somehow, the film is somewhere in the middle and I don’t really know where I stand on this flick just yet, however, being the dedicated critic that I am, I’m going to give it my all just for you kind souls out there who actually give a crap what I have to say about this little indie.

There’s a lot to this film, maybe almost too much, but from what I was getting most of the times with this flick worked for me because of Lonergan’s superb writing. This is a very dramatic but heartfelt story about a young girl who’s coming to terms with the world she lives in and she’s starting to realize just what this world is really like, for all of the good and for all of the bad. Obviously this isn’t something new, daring, or original but Lonergan makes every scene, no matter how random or awkward, seem real and to be honest, a lot of these scenes and what he’s having these character say, did ring true to me.

I am not a young lady, never have been, and maybe never will, but I can definitely say that a lot of Lisa’s problems that she goes through here aren’t just what young ladies go through, but young adults in general. Everybody around you just annoys you, you want to get your point out there to the best of your ability, everybody is out to get you, and at the end of the day, you just want to be understood and listened to. This is how a teenager thinks and Lonergan gets us inside the mind of a teenager, by showing us your typical, everyday one that just so happens to be dealing with one of the most traumatic moments in her life so far. She’s confused, she’s guilty, she’s angry, she’s horny, she’s misunderstood, she’s scared, and she’s so many other things, but this is exactly how a young person is, especially when you live in a world like the one Lisa lives in where everybody seems to be just at your neck, no matter what it is you do or say. This provides some real, heart-breaking emotional context for a character that seems so based in her own reality, that you just don’t want to see her have her heart broken when she realizes one thing about the world: it’s not all sunshine and daisies. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there that you may have to be ready to fight off every once and awhile. Maybe that’s a little bit too much of my left-over teenage angst coming out, but it still seems true and reasonable considering the film I’m discussing here.

"I told you, I have no idea where Logan went!"

“I told you, I have no idea where Logan went!”

No matter how great most of that teenage angst stuff may be, the film still feels very stuffed together and I was sort of left wondering why they didn’t just take a risk and end up going with the 3-hour version instead. There is about 4 or 5 subplots here that could have been taken out, but instead, Lonergan leaves them in and has them pop-up at some of the most random parts throughout the flick, without us ever getting a chance to fully feel for them and get behind them. I get it, Lisa’s life is hectic and has a lot going on it, but did we really need those 5 scenes with her and her daddy (Kenneth Lonergan himself in a very greedy role) just talking about random ish? Or what about that little teacher-student “relationship” she may be trying to get with a hot and young male teacher, played Matt Damon? Oh, and let’s not forget about some of the random class-room scenes where Matthew Broderick actually gets mad over a kid totally schooling him in Shakespearean comprehension? There’s a lot of material that could have been easily cut-out here. Or, if they really wanted to, which they obviously didn’t, but if they did, they could have went with the 3-hour version that Lonergan proposed in the first place and we could have had a more coherent and understandable story that lays everything out for you all nice and even.

But even with this edited-down version that were given here, some of it almost feels like Lonergan’s coming on a little too strong with his numerous ideas and messages he’s trying to get across. There’s a lot of discussion about a post-9/11 New York that is very realistic, but also feels very random and pushy, as if Lonergan was trying to find a way to voice his own opinions about what’s happening to the area after that disastrous day, so thought the easiest way would to have kids yell and holler at each other about. Doesn’t feel right for this film, given the story itself, and I think Lonergan kind of loses his head a little bit with what he’s trying to say but after awhile, I just didn’t care and tried my hardest to get involved with this story, as crazy as it could be.

I wish all NYC bus drivers looked this cool, and especially wore a cowboy hat.

I wish all NYC bus drivers looked this cool. Especially with that cowboy hat.

Seeing this movie now, in the year 2012, you have to wonder what a bummer it must have been for Anna Paquin to just see her high-rising, dramatic acting career, go almost to nowhere because honestly, this is a phenomenal performance, if not, the best I’ve seen from her, ever (still haven’t seen The Piano so bear with me for a little while). Lisa Cohen is not a very sympathetic character and she definitely is not a very emotionally-grounded character, and it’s one that Paquin plays up perfectly on almost all-sides. We see Lisa for all that she feels, all that she does, and all that she wants to do, and even though not all of her choices may be the most morally correct, they are still her choices and we have to accept them for what they are because she is a human nonetheless. Paquin was about 23 when this film was made, so it seems a little strange for her to be off playing 17-year olds, but she pulls it off perfectly and makes you believe that she really is this confused and bewildered young woman that just wants to do what she thinks is right, even if it may not have the best consequences for all involved. Yeah, I know that Paquin’s got it big now with her role on True Blood, but this film would have definitely made us think twice about her acting, whenever we saw her kill some dude by kissing him. Rogue reference, in case you didn’t catch on!

While you probably wouldn’t have been able to tell from my whole review, trailers, or poster, this film is much more about Lisa’s mom then it is about her, and I think with good reason. J. Smith-Cameron is somebody I haven’t ever really seen too much of in movies and with a performance she gives here as Lisa’s mom, I have to say I’m going to look for her more now because this gal knocks this performance right out of the park. Even though I do think that some of her scenes, just the ones where it’s her all by herself, could have been cut-out, she still gives us a sympathetic mother character that wants nothing more but to connect with her daughter like she feels like she should, but no matter how hard she tries, she still can’t seem to break the ice between them and get them together, connecting once again. It’s a sad thing to see in a film like this because you know this is how it is for almost all mothers having to deal with young adults in the house and Smith-Cameron plays it up just about as perfectly as Paquin does with her own character. They also fight like a real mother-daughter combo and that’s pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

Consensus: With a time-limit that sort of jams everything together in a very incoherent way, Margaret can sometimes feel like a film that can never make up its mind about what it wants to do or be about, but it’s also much like it’s lead character, Lisa, played to perfection from Anna Paquin. It’s a little-known flick that makes me want to see it again, just as long as I can get a hold of the 3-hour director’s cut. That’s if they actually have one for this movie.

7/10=Rental!!

"Walking through the streets of New York and nobody has yet to ask for me an autograph? Now I'm really scared."

“Walking through the streets of New York and nobody has yet to ask for me an autograph? Now I’m really scared.”

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

A trip back to Middle Earth, means a trip that takes about 3 hours out of my day.

This is the begging tale of the journey of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who embarks on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago lost to the dragon Smaug. Oh, and a band of dwarfs that accompany him as well. Can’t forget about those little fellas.

It’s a real shame that the only real hype surrounding this movie, is not just because it’s Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth in less than a decade, but mainly because of the 48 frames-per-second. Yes, in case some of you people out there don’t know, don’t care, or even know what to expect (I was sort of in the latter’s boat), 48fps is double the normal rate and makes it pretty damn obvious right from the start of this movie that everything is going to look a lot clearer, but sadly, a little too fast.

For me, this first ever experience of actually seeing a 48fps movie wasn’t as traumatizing as it has been to many others who have seen this movie, but it is quite distracting. Sometimes you forget about it, get used to it, and accept the fact that things are going to look a lot weirder then expected, but then it becomes obvious once again, especially a character is moving in a very, very fast-pace that almost makes it seem like Jackson shot this film, while on hefty-amounts nose candy. Once you get used to it, you sort of are able to enjoy the whole movie but it never goes away and I guess it was my fault for being curious and actually giving it a shot in the first-place. They always say, “curiosity killed the cat”, and even though I didn’t get killed by this movie, my idea of 48fps definitely did, and I will probably never see another movie like this ever again. Sorry Peter, you’re experiment didn’t work so well with me this time-around. I’ll stick to normal 3D for now.

"What do you mean I have to choose between this and X-Men? Again!??!?"

“What do you mean I have to choose between this and X-Men? Again!??!?”

However, as much as I may talk shite on the whole 48fps-element to this movie, it makes the movie look a whole lot more beautiful, if a bit fake in some-spots. Everything looks so detailed, clear, and as good as the details looked in the past movies. Obviously, since Jackson has better technology and probably a hell of a lot more money to work with, he uses a crap-load of CGI that is impressive at some-points, but when you put in a film that is using 48fps, it doesn’t always work and makes scenes look as if they were filmed in-front of a green screen. Which in reality, they probably were, but you don’t want to have that going through your mind when you’re watching a movie about wizards, dwarves, trolls, and other mystical creatures. You want to feel as if you are there, rather than feeling like we’re watching a bunch of guys act in a studio, where biscuits and gravy are probably on a big-ass table in front of them. I wasn’t always picturing this idea in my head, but it popped-up quite a lot, more than I actually wanted it to.

Aside from the fact that the 48fps is more than just a controversial idea that Jackson had on his mind and actually went-through with, the film is still pretty good, even if you know everything that’s going to happen to these characters in the near-future. You know, because Jackson made the sequels to this book less than a decade ago. However, Jackson still seems to have a lot of fun returning back to the place that made him such a household name in the first-place and it’s great to see a lot of that fun and passion jump right-off from the screen, and onto us as we just sit there and have a good-time.

There isn’t an epic feeling to this story and in-fact, it actually starts off just as Fellowship of the Ring did. There’s a crap-load of back-story, exposition, and characters coming in and out of nowhere, and it takes awhile to get used to (as expected), but once the actual journey that these characters begin on starts, it becomes more and more entertaining as it goes along and it’s just great to see Jackson back in his comfort-zone and not trying to make teenie-boppers cry their little, fragile hearts over a young girl that gets raped and murdered. I’m talking about Lovely Bones in case you couldn’t tell, and I think that movie is just one, perfect-sign as to how Jackson maybe felt like he was a bit too big for his britches. Middle Earth is where he works best at, where he has the most fun, and best of all, is where he belongs in terms of making movies and entertaining stories.

It seems like everybody was inspired by Katniss. Even dwarves.

It seems like everybody was inspired by Katniss. Even dwarves.

However, when you compare it to what Jackson has done in the past, especially with Middle Earth, this film itself, really fails to generate the type of sparks and emotional fireplugs that those flicks had. It was cool to see a lot of these older-characters come into this story and make their impressions quickly and easily, but the other characters that they introduce, don’t seem to be as memorable or as lovable as those ones we look forward to see return-to-the-screen once again.

A perfect example of this statement would be the twelve dwarves that are key to this story and as entertaining and fun as they may be to watch on-screen, they don’t really come-off as memorable. They all seem sort of the same, with the exception of one, and they don’t really have us invested in them, quite as much as we had for characters of the same nature like Gimli or Legolas. They’re just there for comedic-relief and to have the kiddies out there in the world who want to see this, laugh a bit, just to get past all of the darker-stuff and it seems like a real waste of time. I wanted to get to know them more and understand how all of their personalities were different. Who was the smartest one? The ugliest one? The best fighter? The worst? Seriously, they all just seemed like clones of one another, as they all ate, drank, and slept huge and huge amounts, with nobody really being different. Just like my feelings with these dwarves, I wish there was more to this flick and despite it already being a prequel to films we have all already seen and loved to death by now, Jackson can only try to make us forget about them. Notice how I said the word, “try”, mind you.

Too much baggage for one guy to carry on his shoulders.

Too much baggage for one guy to carry on his shoulders.

Martin Freeman was a pretty nice-choice to play a younger Bilbo, mainly because when we had an actor like Elijah Wood, doing satisfactory work as our main hero of the story, it wasn’t anything special but it was at least nice to finally get an actor that can actually ACT, and do some nice-work in terms of doing all of this goofy, Middle Earth stuff. Freeman is fun to watch as Bilbo and definitely hams it up in terms of playing-up the whole slapstick-side of his character and being there to provide us with a bunch of humor and heart, especially to a character who comes-off as sort of a dick in the latter-stages of his life. Some may say that Freeman is trying a bit too hard to be funny and over-the-top, and to that, I would have to say some of it is true, but at least he’s entertaining and kept me interested the whole-way. In terms of the rest of the trilogy lying on the shoulders of Freeman, I think we’re in good-support.

There are many returning-players to this flick, from the other ones, and even though they don’t all have as much screen-time as the new bloods, it’s still great to see them all back and alive again, especially Ian McKellen as Gandalf. McKellen seems to be having an absolute blast returning to play Gandalf the Great, once again, and for me, as a big fan of Gandalf, it was an even-bigger piece of enjoyment since this is an actor that seemed born to play this role and have us on his side the whole-way through. McKellen isn’t doing anything new, special, or even refreshing when it comes to playing Gandalf, but that was A-okay with me, because he is always the most memorable out of anybody that surrounds him.

Also, it was another real sight for sore eyes (literally) to see Gollum for on the big-screen once again and even though he doesn’t take over the film like he has in the past, his presence is still well-deserved not just because it’s Serkis kicking total ass again, but mainly because Gollum himself looks so realistic and perfect in the animation. Hey, the 48fps may be a huge-bummer, but at least the special-effects are great and that’s all that matters, especially when you’re sitting there and over-analyzing Gollum’s look to depth. I don’t think I saw a single pixel in his look. Impressive as hell.

Consensus: Though Jackson does tread in familiar-territory that we all know what to expect and get out of an experience like his return to Middle Earth, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is still fun and entertaining to watch, even if the whole idea of being filmed in 48fps can get a bit tiresome over time. After awhile, you do begin to get used to it but in my opinion, to avoid any distractions to the human-eye whatsoever, just give this baby a whirl in 3D, or regular 2D, especially if you want to save some moolah.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Next season's cast of Whisker Wars. It's gonna be a close one.

Next season’s cast of Whisker Wars. It’s gonna be a close one.

Friends With Money (2006)

Those Sex and the City bitches ain’t got nothing on these high-class, L.A. housewives. They may have more money, though.

Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack and Catherine Keener star as a quartet of west coast, life-long friends who have achieved a level of comfort in their lives and have now settled into a life of designer clothes, charity events, and caring for the men (and offspring) in their lives. But as they approach ‘a certain age,’ unsettling things are starting to throw their comfortable lives off balance.

Having a bunch of spoiled, rich women in one movie talk about their non-stop problems with life, money, relationships, and being happy is not my cup of tea, nor is it many other guys’, either. This is strictly for the women out there in the world and whether or not you’re broke, got a crap-load of moolah, or are somewhere in between, you will probably be able to relate a lot more to this flick than us, asshole-like men. By no means is it a “chick flick”, but it’s still a movie that pertains to women, and women only, and the only thing that may interest the dudes here is any possibility of seeing some nudity. Other than a slutty-maid outfit that Jen wears about half-way through, there’s nothing else so flee away, men! Flee!

It may seem weird that I’m talking about this movie, being a movie that’s strictly for women to enjoy, relate to, and understand more than the typical, average dude, whereas I just watched and am now reviewing it, and I’m a dude. I know, it’s weird but I was interested to see this because I wanted to think there was more to this than just a bunch of women, very-wealthy women, I may add, moping around and acting like they can’t buy $200 pair of boots to turn that frown upside down. Yeah, they are humans just like you or me but watching these gals just complain about nothing other than the fact that their money can’t buy them happiness, did nothing for me and had no effect on my money-saving skills. That’s right, people, I’m still cheap and this movie couldn’t make me re-think otherwise.

Sorry men that are being forced to see this, this scene is the only action you're going to get for the whole night.

Sorry men that are being forced to see this, this scene is the only action you’re going to get for the whole night.

Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh on this movie, because in all honesty, it is very well-written from writer/director Nicole Holofcener and definitely made me laugh a couple of times, but those times were very few and far between. Other than that, Holofcener just throws at us a bunch of moments where these gals cry over spilled milk and problems with their man, that never seem to go away since the man, according to half of these stories, “is the reason for all problems in a relationship”. Now excuse me! I don’t mean to stick-up for the whole male-race or anything and say that we’re not all bad, because trust me, we are, but that doesn’t mean that the women don’t cause some of the problems in the relationship as well. I don’t know, this flick seemed to be pointing the finger at the wrong-person and in all honesty, there probably didn’t even need to be a finger pointed either. It could have just showed both sides of the coin and how they both cause problems, but no, it was mainly the women who got the love and showmanship, not the dudes.

However, the film isn’t all that bad and if you are looking for a movie that’s all about it’s characters and what they say, then this definitely may be your right up your alley. It wasn’t excruciating or boring to watch, it was just relatively dull and it felt like there could have been more to these characters, more to their stories, and most of all, more to the meaning of what the hell this story is trying to get across with it’s message. I get it, as you get older, you begin to get more cranky with the world and the people that surround you in it, but do we really need to watch a bunch of rich gals have that problem? I don’t really think so and even if we do, in today’s day and age, it doesn’t really spell-out all that well for people who are dying trying to make ends meet, and you got a couple of women that can’t get over the fact that their coffee hasn’t been brought-out to them in 2 minutes. Ladies, there are not only starving people in China, but they are starving people that are probably living right-by the dumpster of the restaurant you’re in so calm the hell down!

The only real saving-grace to this whole movie is probably the cast, that does all that they can to make this movie and script work. Jennifer Aniston isn’t as quirky, or overly annoying as she usually is with most of the roles she takes, and does a nice-job at the center of this whole movie as Olivia. Aniston definitely does a nice-job of combining both dramatic and comedic-elements of her sets of skills to make this character work, but in the end, she sort of falls a little flat mainly because her character is such a bum, almost to the point of where it’s unbelievable. It’s understood that a character that has no direction in life can get very easily side-tracked by dumb stuff like boning dudes you don’t really care about, or smoking way, way too much weed for your own good, but there comes a point where it’s enough to pick yourself-up and say, “I need to move-on with my life”. Aniston’s character, Olivia, never really does that and once again, even if there are people out-there that can relate to her character and the walks of life that she goes through, then good for you, but for me, it just annoyed me.

"We really need to get Oscars."

“We really need to get Oscars.”

Joan Cusack is fine as the comfortably-settled trust fund baby, and does what she can with a role that doesn’t really stretch-out her gills as an actress, but still feels like a waste of a really good talent. Her story, basically serves little to no purpose as to why it’s even included in the movie, let alone, made a big deal in chunks. Cusack and her hubby, played by Greg Germann, are probably the happiest-couple of the whole flick and for that, I feel like they just didn’t belong. Shame, too, because Germann and Cusack seem like they would have made an awesome, older-couple in any other movie.

Catherine Keener is fine as the television writer who can’t seem to get along with her husband for more than 5 minutes, and does what she always does: provides some funny sarcasm, that only hits you when you expect it. Keener is the only character here who really goes through any type of real or huge transformation that’s worth seeing, and she handles it with grace and care. I didn’t care much about her story-line, mainly because it was so obvious of where it was going to go with itself, but she interested me and therefore, I cared about her character more. Why the hell isn’t she in more movies? Seriously?

She's holding the next generation of the Coen's. Handle with care.

She’s holding the next generation of the Coen’s. Better handle with care.

Last, but certainly not least if Frances McDormand as the oldest-gal of the whole-group, Jane, and definitely steals the show from everybody else. McDormand is a blast to watch because she’s cranky, angry, and always has something to say without any type of filter whatsoever. McDormand is an actress we usually just see as the wise-cracking lady that you do not want to go toe-to-toe with in a battle of wits, and that’s probably the best part of her character, considering it’s what makes her problems and actions so much more believable than everybody else’s. Some will say it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t already seen from her, but hey, that’s fine with me as long as she continues to make me laugh and entertain me.

Consensus: The cast is what really saves Friends With Money from being another annoying, self-important piece of writing that would have been a lot better as a novel, rather than an actual, full-length feature-flick that has a very, very limited-audience of who can connect to.

5/10=Rental!!

Now we know who to blame for this movie ever being released! Damn you, AMC!

Now we know who’s to blame for this movie ever being released! Damn you, AMC!

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Come on Ethan, I thought you didn’t need women.

Super-spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired from active duty to train new IMF agents and start a life as a married man with his new squeeze (Michelle Monaghan). But he is called back into action to confront the toughest villain he’s ever faced, named Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an international weapons and information provider with no remorse and no conscience.

If you have seen the first two Mission: Impossible movies, liked them, had a good time with them, and didn’t get bored watching Cruise play cool, then chances are, you are going to like this one, have a good time with it, and not bother one-bit that Cruise is playing cool, once again. Actually, I could just use that one-sentence to sum-up my whole review and be done with it, but since I am a critic and I just spent 2 hours of my life watching this thing, I’m going to take away 5-7 minutes away from your life, just so you can read what I have to say. It’s a sort of domino effect, but trust me, you don’t really have to read this. I’m probably just going to go on and on about Katie Holmes and how right she was. Seriously, take a drink every time I mention her name. The review will be a lot better.

Anywhoo, after highly-stylish directors like Brian De Palma and John Woo took over the last two installments, J.J. Abrams comes up on-board and gives his first-shot at directing a full-length, feature movie. Before this, Abrams was known for creating Alias, Lost, Felicity, and other popular TV-shows that people loved and fan-boys went oogle over, which makes this movie all the more interesting to watch now, considering this is also the same guy that went on and brought Trekkies back to life almost three years ago. It’s great to see a director that obviously loves these old-school action movies, but yet, doesn’t forget to throw some of the newer-stuff in as well to fully get us going and have us feel like we’ve gotten the best of both worlds.

"Felicity's graduated, bitch."

“Felicity’s graduated, bitch.”

Thankfully, that is exactly what Abrams brings to the table here and right from the first-sequence where Hunt and his gal get tied-up and interrogated, you know you are in for a real, real action-treat. Actually, after that scene, the movie doesn’t really ever seem to slow down. We get a bunch of non-stop, tense action-sequences that seem to pull out something new each and every time, and a couple of twists and turns that are sure to have you wondering what’s going to happen next, but in the good way that actually makes sense and not confusing like the first-one. Basically, it was a great choice to bring Abrams along for the ride on this one and it’s obvious that the guy knows how to stage a tense, suspenseful action-scene that will have you gripping your seat, even if you do know how it’s going to end. That’s the sign of a good action director, actually, let alone, director none the less.

However, if you do not like these movies chances are, you’re not going to like this even more. It’s not as stupid as the others, that’s for damn sure, but it definitely feels like a plot-line that wasn’t really thought-out well enough for an action movie of this caliber. For instance, it’s never really brought to my attention what was so bad about this Davian guy in the first-place. Yeah, he’s got weapons and materials of mass-destruction, but I never really saw any of that put to test nor did I really see him actually go to work on any of that whatsoever. I just heard that the guy was bad, realized he was a bit of a dick, and I guess, just assumed that he wasn’t a guy that plays on the good-side. There’s a whole bunch of other problems with this plot that didn’t seem to really make all that much sense to me but in the end, I soon realized that it didn’t matter a lick and all that did matter was watching Ethan Hunt be as cool, as he might as well can be.

Faster than a speeding bullet coming from an Chopper, he's Ethan Hunt dammit.

When you have Scientology on your-side, you can out-run anything. Even speeding bullets.

Once again, Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt like he always does: cool, swift, witty, sneaky, and most of all, smart. Cruise plays this role like no other, has no intentions on leaving, and you know what? I don’t really mind it all that much, either. Yeah, the dude’s getting old and a bit funny-looking in terms of botox but the guy still can play this role in his sleep and have us love him, no matter what crazy shit he does or says in his personal life. At the time of the release of this movie, I know that was a bit hard to get by but to me, it doesn’t make much of a difference now and never really did.

The rest of the cast is pretty solid too, but the one I was really impressed by most of all was Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian, the main-villain that Hunt is forced to mess with. What makes Davian so different from the others, is the fact that the guy holds no remorse for the things he’s done or is about to do, and plain and simply looks at you in the face, tells you he’s going to put a bullet through it, and says so with no emotion or expressions whatsoever. You really feel like this guy will hold you up on his promise when he’s going to get right down to business and kill you, and that’s why this guy was so freaky to watch and most of all, actually seemed like a legitimate threat to Hunt after all. I will say that his character doesn’t meet the smartest demise of all, but before all of that, Hoffman is electric, fun, and very sinister to watch, in a way that makes me wish he played more villainous-type roles. In a way, I guess he does but oh well, doesn’t matter because the guy can act.

I thought I said no girls, Ethan!

I thought I said no girls, Ethan!

The only one in this cast who really stuck-out like a sore-thumb and seemed to bring everything down was Michelle Monaghan as Hunt’s new lady-friend, Julia. I don’t know if it was Monaghan’s acting, her writing, or just the shoddy-development for her character, but I didn’t give a crap that she was there, why she was there, or what really even was going to happen to her in the end. Abrams tries very hard to throw at us that Hunt is not only doing this mission for the safety of country, but the safety of his heart as well and as appealing and relateable as that may be for some audience-members watching, I for one, didn’t really buy it and give a single-crap whatsoever. If you want to know why, just go on back to my M:I-2 review and you’ll see why I don’t think Hunt should play around with gals. That is it.

Consensus: Mission: Impossible III is probably the best of the whole series because of it’s electric-direction from Abrams, tense action-sequences that never seem to end, and fun-loving spirit for both old, and new action-movies of the world and makes you feel like this is a series that will never run out of a steam, just as long as they stay fresh with new-directors coming on-board and keep Cruise in-line. Oh yeah, by the way, Katie Holmes. Drink up, people!

8/10=Matinee!!

"Employ me again, Tom. Please?

“Employ me again, Tom. Please?

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