Come on Indy! Don’t get caught with your Willy!
Presumed Innocent is about anti-heroic lawyer Rozat “Rusty” Sabich (Harrison Ford), a Kindle County prosecutor and presumptive heir to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office currently occupied by Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy). When Rusty’s attractive colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi) turns up murdered, the evidence points to Rusty, despite his being married with children and the type of dude that would never, ever pull a deadly-stunt like that off. However, is there more going on than he thinks that may point fingers to others out there. Even the people he loves and works with? Only time will tell until everything is revealed.
Old-school mystery thrillers are always my favorite to watch, and for some odd reason, I always get the urge to watch them during the summer time. Don’t know why that’s always been a thing for me. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that every movie in the summer that’s released or viewed, are usually dumb as hell and require barely any thought, or maybe it’s just a thing I do. I don’t know, maybe it’s as simple as that. No further thinking required.
All of the credit for this film has to go to director Alan J. Pakula for bringing a very moody and tense atmosphere to this flick because it honestly gave me a feeling that I couldn’t trust anybody in this story. It’s a very interesting “whodunit” that keeps you guessing the whole time, even when you think you got it all under control. Usually when courtroom scenes show up, they usually spell-out more hints and clues that make the wider-picture seem so much more obvious, but here, Pakula really seemed to be pulling out the rug right from underneath us, and best of all: he seemed to be enjoying it. That’s what I like in my old-school, mystery-thrillers and watching this one was nowhere near being different.
But the most important aspect of this story that made it work was the courtroom scenes themselves, some of which; are very smart and well-written. There are plenty of courtroom drama’s out there like A Few Good Men and A Time to Kill that have great and snappy dialogue to get you riled up and excited, but it’s also dialogue that feels very “staged”, which, I guess is the point considering they’re movies and all but it gives you this feel that maybe these certain types of people wouldn’t talk like this, had they actually been put into situations like this. Here, a lot of the courtroom dialogue feels very realistic and everybody that either defends their own case, questioning someone, or objects, all seem like real people actually talking. I know this is a weird compliment to give this flick but it’s just a very rare thing to see a courtroom flick just shoot it straight, without trying to throw out any lines like “You can’t handle the truth!”. Even though, I do have to say that 20 years later, that whole scene/line is still pretty epic.
Problem is, after all of this build-up, all of this suspense, and all of this smart-ass questioning going on in the courtroom, the film still disappoints. BIG TIME. I don’t want to give anything away as to what happens in the end, or even what the end is all about but it features a huge twist on the story and not only makes you think differently about what you just saw but also, all of the characters themselves. This all sounds cool and nifty, but it’s very weird how they approach this ending by having an explanation told in a way that would remind you of a psychotic horror movie character. I knew by the way this story was, there was going to be a big twist in the end, but I didn’t know it was going to be handled in such a lame and anticlimactic way. I’m tempted to throw my whole life away and spill the beans, but I still want to keep my credibility. It’s stupid though. Enough said.
Even though Harrison Ford hasn’t had the best track-record in recent years (even though he was awesome in 42), you still got to give it to the guy because he’s able to pull off the action roles like Indiana Jones or Han Solo, but also able to breakaway from them and pull off some dramatic, regular-guy roles as well. Ford is great here as Rusty showing a lot of emotional strain just in the way he looks and way he sounds, but also distances himself away from the audience and makes you think twice about his character as to whether or not he’s involved with the murder he’s investigating. Actually, this was a pretty cool feature but there comes a point in the film where Rusty eventually does get accused of murdering this gal, and shows barely little or no emotions about it. I get it, the film is trying to make us question whether or not he’s involved with the actual murder, but it just didn’t come off as real considering the guys normal and somewhat happy life is in danger. Still, Ford can rock these roles out very well and he’s no different here.
The rest of the cast is full of a bunch of familiar faces that are sure to make you happy when they pop-up on screen. Raul Julia is a lot of fun to watch as Rusty’s lawyer, who always seems to have a trick up his sleeve and brings a lot of humor and charm to the courtroom scenes, even when they seem to get uber serious; Brian Dennehy is playing one of his usual nasty and corrupt characters here as Rusty’s morally compromised boss; and Greta Scacchi has a couple of good scenes as our murdered lady-friend, Carolyn Polhemus, and it’s pretty easy to see why so many dudes would fall for her, especially a guy like Ford. There’s also plenty of other people to see here too, but I won’t spoil them for you. Just check it out yourself and see how many faces you can make to names. Movies like this are fun like that. Most of the time at least.
Consensus: The tension, the mystery, the mood, the atmosphere, and the acting seemed to all come together for Presumed Innocent by one point to where it was really kicking ass in a way I wasn’t expecting, but because of it’s out-of-nowhere, nutty-twist at the end, major points had to be taken away. But the build-up is still awesome, so expect that.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
I’m telling you, us Irish guys know our women, and beer. Definitely more of the latter than the former.
Three Irish-Catholic brothers (Edward Burns, Mike McGlone, Jack Mulcahy) from Long Island, New York, all love the hell out of each other and would do anything for the other. However, they also have a lot of problems that they need to let out every once and awhile. Whether it be the wife at home giving them a hard time, the kids are getting up your ass, or you feel as if you’re getting too old for this shit anymore, they are always there. That’s what brothers are for and that’s what these ones do for one another. Why? Cause they Irish, they Catholic, and they are, above else: McMullens.
Is it me, or does it seem like Edward Burns deserves more roles? This flick pretty much put him on the map back in the day and all because it was pretty much his brain-child: he directed it, wrote it, funded it, produced it, advertised it, gave birth to it, and practically did everything else one person can do a for movie. Heck, I even think the guy played the bagpipes for the score? Probably didn’t, but it’s always a nice thought. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this is his baby and it’s a film that shows this guy has some real talent, so any problems here, are all put onto him. Thankfully, there’s not too much I can throw against his Boston-ass.
What I liked most about this flick was Burns’ writing and just how natural it felt. Take it for granted, this whole movie is dedicated to a bunch of dudes just sitting around, shooting the shit, talking about what’s on their minds, what’s on their weenies’ minds, and what they think about when the ladies aren’t around. That would definitely bore the hell out of some people, but not me. I actually enjoyed everything that these guys talked about and a lot of it came off as very true. I know I may sound like I’m jumping the gun here because I’m only 19 years of age (for now, ladies?) and I wouldn’t know a single thing about love, marriage, sex (I sort of do now, ladies?), or kids for that matter (I hope I don’t, ladies!!??!?!), but what I do know, is men (sounds a little strange, but you know what I mean). And what I know most about men is that they all talk like about their problems in this sort of way, and react to their problems just like they do in this flick as well. It all feels real and that’s one of the best things that this movie has to offer.
Other than knocking down a pretty solid screenplay, Burns also does a great job behind the camera even though he doesn’t do anything flashy. There’s this very grainy look that makes the film seem as if it’s filmed in documentary style and made me feel like I was there, with these guys while they go through all of this tough shit with their lives. But other than the look, nothing else Burns does here gets in the way of the story which is great. Oh wait, there was that annoying-ass Irish music score that came in almost every single 5 minutes that obviously was there because it went along with the theme of these guys being Irish and all, but did it really need to be here? Especially in a film like this. I don’t know, it just bothered me because it made me feel like I was watching Braveheart.
The only other annoying aspect of this flick was how sweetie-pie everything begins to get by the end of the movie. Before the last 30 minutes or so, these characters were hard-hitting, talking about all of this bad shit, and actually doing some bad shit while they were talking about it, but by the end: it all goes away. Then, once the paths have apparently been cleared, we get some cheesy scenes where everything end nicely, with a little cherry at the top. A bit too too nicely you may wonder? Damn skippy! But trust me, I’m not trying to give away any spoilers here or anything, but you’ll start to see it all once a certain-part in the end shows up. d
Bummer too, because everything Burns was doing here beforehand felt honest and real. It’s almost as if he was speaking for men all-over-the-globe (especially from New Yaaark, booo!), and to see him sort of cop out in the end and get all sentimental with us, seemed like a bit of a cheat. Kind of as if Burns was too afraid in going that extra-mile and really hitting us dudes where it hurts the most (you know where that is, ladies). Also, while I’m at it, why not bag on Burns some more? To top that all off, they played it all of with some crappy and depressing track from Sarah McLachlan. You know, that chick that makes you want to kill yourself for not saving an animal from the pound. Yeah, no reason for her to be in this kind of a flick, let alone, any flick for that matter. Please don’t find and kill me, SPCA. Please.
Aside from all of that though, Burns lifts himself up with a pretty good performance that definitely makes you wish you saw more of his character around, but then again, you got to give it to a guy who isn’t trying to just steal the spotlight in his own show. Instead, he gives it to two other dudes that play his brothers, Mike McGlone and Jack Mulcahy. Both of these guys are good here and it’s a real shame that, along with Burns, they haven’t really been doing much. Well, that is except for McGlone who I see from time-to-time in Geico commercials. That’s right, one second the guy is in a critically-acclaimed film that premiers at Sundance, and the next second he’s cuing up jokes for Elmer Fudd. Funny where your career will eventually take ya, that’s why I stay far away from Hollywood and relish ion the days of appearing in small, indies. Hopefully that stays and hopefully I start making money. Aww, fuck it! I’m going to Hollywood and moving out of my parent’s basement!
Consensus: With plenty of great insight to what really goes on inside dudes’ heads, Edward Burns makes his directorial debut, The Brothers McMullen, a very funny and realistic comedy that touches on some hard-hitting issues with life for the male-gender, it just doesn’t know how to resolve them in a realistic-way. Or maybe it was realistic, who knows.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Well, at least he didn’t apologize for this movie.
General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris) feels as if he has been wronged by the country that he served for so damn long and decides to prove his dissatisfaction. How? Well, he rounds up a group of fellow troops who feel the same, get them into Alcatraz, take it over, hold hostages, threaten to use a bomb on the whole city of San Francisco, and keep a countdown of when the shit goes boom. There to save the day is explosions and chemicals expert Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), but he has a special guest with him, retired agent John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery). Mason is the only man who knows his way in and out of Alcatraz, and uses the government’s help to his advantage. Bastard.
We all know Michael Bay. Love him, hate him, adore him, disagree with him. No matter what, we all know a Michael Bay movie when we see one. Explosions, skinny-clad women, macho-posing, bad one-liners, and a whole shit load of action. Nothing more, nothing less. Good, now you know what you’re getting yourself into, let’s get this ride going.
Everybody considers this to be Bay’s best and even if that isn’t true (I’m still a fan of the first Transformers, don’t ask me why), I can still see why people have thought so, even up until today. It’s one of those movies that has such a solid premise, that it’s almost hard to live down the bad-assery. First of all, you got Alcatraz as the setting and any time you have your action and craziness occurring there; you can’t blow it. Secondly, the cast is pretty top-notch with a bunch of dudes that may not have been the biggest and the best box-office names at the time, but still showed you that they could beat some beef when they had to. And no, not that type either.
And lastly, and probably the most important: it’s just fun. It doesn’t matter how much detail I get into this flick, all that matters is that this movie is all the fun and excitement that it should be and that’s it. You got the usual car-chases, the explosions, the gun-battles, the bombs, and even a Mexican stand-off in case anybody thought that not everything was possible. In Bay’s world, anything is possible and he’ll show you too, just with enough craziness and nuttiness to go along on the side. If you can’t handle it, then you shouldn’t have even bothered giving it a look in the first place. You can say that about most directors, but Bay is the prime-example where you have to know if his name is attached or not. Sounds crazy, I know. But there are people out there that hate him THAT much. Poor guy. Just needs a hug. Maybe Megan Fox will lend a hand?
Does that mean it is anywhere near the type of film you want to see to tease your brain and make you think? Absolutely, positively not! Then again, with the name “Michael Bay” attached, you couldn’t and probably shouldn’t expect anything more. That said, this movie is pretty stupid and some situations did make me laugh, albeit the unintentional ones. One of the goofiest gags throughout this movie is how the countdowns always seem to change drastically. At one point, we are stuck watching as the movie reads “9 hours till detonation”. That’s fine. Seemed reasonable and it seemed like time did pass on. Then, out of nowhere, about five minutes later, the movie reads “52 minutes till detonation”. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! What the hell happened to the pass 8 hours and 8 minutes? Did they just suddenly go by as soon as the people closed their eyes? Once again, maybe I was thinking a bit more than the movie, but that’s just a personal, random nitpick from yours truly. Once again, don’t think too much of it. I didn’t, and I had a great time.
Most of that good time is courtesy of the fine sets of bad-asses that Bay was able to assemble in almost every role, short to large. Sean Connery has always been known as one of the biggest and best bad-asses of our generation, and he totally proves that as John Mason. Some will laugh their asses off once they initially see the ged-up Connery’s decking, but after awhile, you get by it all once he gets a shave, a shower, and ready for action. After this hits, then it’s all feet-to-the-floor with him and the charm never stops. Even when Connery isn’t beating the shite out of somebody, he’s always finding a way to burst-out some snappy line that either he made up himself, or it was written for him so beautifully. There’s this whole subplot about him and his daughter that’s touched on a tad bit much, but who cares! It’s Sean Connery, in a movie, playing a bad-ass. Pipe down and enjoy!
Then, on the other end of the spectrum: there’s Nic Cage. If any of you out there know and love Nic Cage, the way that I know and love Nic Cage, then this is going to be one hell of an entertainment-ride for you. What’s so funny about Cage here is that since his character is such a dweeb-a-tron that doesn’t really know how to move in hand-to-hand combat and is as nerdy as you can get, then that means Cage gets to play around with that aspect, the way we all know Nic Cage loves to do. It’s hilarious to see him act like a total and complete nut, and even though there isn’t much else underneath this guy other than the fact that he’s get a preggo girly-gal at home and a pretty suit car, we still love the hell out of the guy. Then again, if you aren’t a fan of Nic Cage; you’re most likely going to hate every second he speaks. Yep, it’s like THAT.
Last, but certainly not least is Ed Harris as the army general who calls this whole thing on and tries to go through with it. Harris is another actor that can be a nut when he chooses to be, and this role is no different. At first, you automatically think that he’s just an idiotic dick that has no real reasoning for doing the things he’s about to do, and you pretty much write him up as a unsympathetic dude right from the get-go. But, as time goes on and people start to piss him off more and more, you see a conscience come out of this guy and it’s believable. Well, at least as believable as you can get in a Michael Bay movie. But that’s still enough credit to Ed Harris who can almost do no wrong. That’s not just in my book, but a lot of others’ as well.
The rest of the cast is filled with a bunch of character actors that you have seen a hundred, million times before but just have never been able to match the name with the face. David Morse, Tony Todd, and Bokeem Woodbine play some of Harris’ fellow soldiers that help him out and do whatever they can to go through with their plan; whereas Michael Biehn and William Forsythe are among the ones that try their hardest to help out Connery and Cage. Whether or not it’s actually successful, I’ll leave to you. But, there’s plenty more where this came from and it’s always fun to play the old-fashioned, “name game” every once and awhile. Even if it is, once again: a Michael Bay movie. Okay, now I’m starting to get serious about that hug, dammit!
Consensus: Everything you’d want in a fast-paced, fun action film, is exactly in The Rock. You got guns, bullets, blood, cheese, bombs, explosives, corny one-liners, and a rare but fun Cage and Connery team-up, just to make sure you have as much enjoyment as you can, without having your brain intact.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
I miss the old days when the crowd used to cheer for the Jew-haters.
Porter (Mel Gibson) is one of those crooks that you don’t want to mess with because he’s smart, tough, quick-witted, and always a step-ahead of the baddies. But yet, somebody has still found a way to mess with him and even better: has taken $70,000 of his hard-earned cash away from him and left him for dead. However, whoever that was didn’t quite do a good job considering he’s still alive and wants revenge.
After seeing Parker a couple ways back, I never knew this but thecharacter that Jason Statham played, Parker, has been played many times before by some pretty famous faces. Faces like Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, and most recently (as recent the year 1999 can get), everybody’s favorite Jew-hater: Mel Gibson. That’s right, before it became common-practice to basically hate the guy with cold-blood, “Melodramatic Mel” was actually a movie-star, and a pretty good one at-that. Then again, you probably already know that since the guy just about kicks ass in anything he shows up in. This movie; is one of those instances.
The movie’s tag-line reads, “Get ready to root for the bad guy”, but somehow, the guy isn’t all that bad. He’s a crook; yes. But he isn’t the crook that kills innocent people, women, children, cats, dogs, parrots, nuns, priests, etc. So, basically, he’s just a good guy that just so happens to be on the wrong side of the tracks and even worse: just so happens to be Mel Gibson (aka, everybody’s favorite action hero). And by, “favorite action hero”, I mean way back in the 80′s to the early 00′s, you know, before “the stuff” started to happen?
Anywhoo, other than all of that hooplah that nobody cares about, the flick itself is pretty damn fun and had me feeling as if I was watching an old-school crime movie, told by one of the greats. Writer/director Brian Helgeland isn’t necessarily what I would call a “great”, but the guy does know a thing or two about throwing out a solid, crime story, sprucing it up with some fancy twists and turns here and there, and allowing the guns, fights, and explosions to take their wind and keep things moving when it may fall-asleep due to a lame subplot. But it doesn’t feel forced, it feels good for the story and natural and every time the movie would go through some sort of change where a character would reveal something, or a new and crucial plot-point would somehow make it’s way to surface, I felt on-board with it all, as if I was just apart of some cruel, but fun game Helgeland had in-mind the whole time. I make it sound more sick and twisted than it really is, but trust me: you’re more than likely to have fun with this.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to call this movie a “noir” of sorts as it has that cool, and slick look and feel to it, while giving it a visual-flair where everything is all grainy, as if the world these criminals live in, features people that are all color blind and can’t tell if that bottom light on the stop light is green or gray. This old feel, really made me feel like I was in for a treat, with a guy that knew the type of story he wanted to tell, how serious he wanted it to be, how goofy he wanted it to be, and what extremes he would go to ultimately have us never knowing what to expect next. Watching these crime-thrillers, you always want to never be in the clear about anything, and it’s just awesome when you finally get a movie like this to just allow you to sit down, relax, drop your brain for a bit, and also be ready to see a story goes places you didn’t expect. And even if you did expect the story to go into some places that it does, at least they do it in such a way that’s jokey-wokey, rather than all serious and unknowing. And even if they don’t do it that way: who the hell cares?!?!? It’s fun, exciting, and twisty, and just exactly what I like in my crime-thrillers. Especially from Mr. Mel Gibson himself.
Despite Porter not being all that much of an anti-hero as the promotional tools would probably have you think, Gibson is still pretty damn good at this character because he has the charm, he has the gruff look, but he has the acquired set of skills that always puts him ahead of the others around him, and never lets you lose the fact that this guy is always doing something for a reason. He’s a no-nonsense type of dude that may do something odd, strange, or typically out-of-the-ordinary, but don’t be fooled because it may just be another move that Porter has set-up for a trick in his sleeve. Gibson, before he was out yelling and howling at Jews and female cops, was actually a pretty cool and sly dude that people liked and cheered-on in movies and if you miss any ounce of that thrill, then definitely see this movie because it is Mel Gibson in full-effect here. For better, or for worse, depending on wherever the hell you stand. You can probably tell where I stand, and I’m staying there. Me, and Jodie Foster.
The rest of the cast is filled to the core with the likes of people you have all seen before and like, you just don’t know it yet. Maria Bello is always a great actress no matter what the material it is that she’s given and she’s good here as Porter’s love-interest, but feels a bit too much like a weak piece of service, the way her character and her plot brings down everything else. Granted, she does bring a nice level of action and excitement into the story when you least expect it, but all of the scenes with her and Gibson just had me taking a ticket to snoozeville, and hoping to come back to life before it was too late. Lucy Liu shows-up in one of her earliest roles as an S&M call girl that beats the shit out of guys, gets it right back, and does it all for the pleasure and money. It’s also very, very stereotypical but hey, I guess Lucy needed some way to get her foot in the door. There are others here, like Gregg Henry as the main chump who betrays Porter; David Paymer as a snarky, cab-driver that made me want to punch him square in nose (unintentionally and intentionally); and Kris Kristofferson as a big, bad mob boss that Porter ‘effs with by the end, and poses the biggest and most worthwhile threat of all. Everybody’s good and adds a little som som to the proceeds, but it’s Gibson’s show and he takes over. Big-time, bitches.
Consensus: Payback is a routine thriller that doesn’t have a whole bunch of new tricks to show on-display, but is always a blast to watch because of it’s twists, action, and utter coolness from the script, and Gibson himself.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Dinosaurs never have been, and never will be the same.
Two dinosaur experts, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler Laura Dern), are invited to test out a soon-to-be theme park from a millionaire named John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). Hammond has it all: he’s got the glitz, the glamour, the look, the style, and most surprisingly; he has dinosaurs. That’s right those things that you thought were exterminated almost 70 million years ago are in Hammond’s park, and are causing a ruckus like you’d expect. However, when that ruckus turns from playful to deadly in a matter of 24 hours, all hell breaks loose and it’s time for everybody to get their asses the hell of that damn island.
It’s been a long, long time since I made a return to this wonderful, but scary island but it was still a trip worth taking, even if it was in 3D this time around. Here’s the thing about the 3D since most peeps will want to know right off the bat: it’s nothing worth even talking about (even though that is exactly what I’m doing). The 3D is cool at times and definitely makes you feel as if you are a lot closer to the action than ever before, especially when it’s just jumping right out at you, but other than that; it’s nothing special that would really make me want to go out and see it, again and again. Even though I did see it in theaters, it was all because it was free, early in the a.m., and best of all, with my daddy waddy. Father-son bonding. Ain’t nothing else like it.
Aside from the 3D elements that are relatively lackluster at best, let me just get back with the movie and say that it’s still as fun and entertaining as much as it was all those years ago I watched it as a kid. I remember being scared of the big-ass dinos, I remember gripping my seat when those kids were running all-over-the-place in that kitchen, and I especially remember those freaky fuckers that used to spray poison/venom out of themselves, just as soon as they gave you the warning sign to “run the fuck away, now!”. Fond memories going into this movie and I was so happy to see none of them really tarnished, even if some glaring problems come in the way now that I’m a more sophisticated, and uppity-uppity film critic.
Some of the problems I seemed to have had with the script was not that it was lame or anything, it’s fine for what it is and what it tries to do, it’s just that when the initial plot where there is running, chasing, and panic all throughout the area, I felt like it could have been handled better, and written better without all of the plot inconveniences For instance, the character of John Hammond just seemed like an idiot for even bothering opening up this park, for one reason and one reason only: there’s not enough security. The fact that the dippy was even thinking of opening up this park, where dinosaurs can easily get out of their safe-spots, just by knocking down a couple of wires, seemed really idiotic to me and not something that a rich millionaire would even forget about. Then, it goes on about how he’s cloning these dinosaurs from other gene-pools and turning them all into female, even if that proves a problem for evolution within this park, along with the rising tensions. I get that the guy had a passion and inspiration to create this park and allow everybody to see it, but you got to think things through man before you go all nutso on us.
There’s other problems with the script in certain areas, but the fact of the matter is that this movie is still fun, still entertaining, and still freaky, despite being released almost 20 years ago. Shit, I was actually three months away from entering the world when this movie came out. I’m getting old, man. The movie holds up in many ways because it shows what Steven Spielberg can do when he has a vision and that includes having a ball with his material. Some of it is a tad serious, but rightfully so. It allows us to feel worried for these characters as they constantly try to run and hide from these dinos, without losing a leg, arm, shoulder, knee, or life. It’s pretty scary even after all of these years, but I like how Spielberg was able to transition it back-and-forth, between serious and fun. It’s not light entertainment by any stretch, but if you bring your kid to it, I highly doubt they’ll be scared for life. Granted, they may wet the bed every night and never, ever want to see a dinosaur again, but that’s just life my friend. Quite frankly, it’s your call if you want to take them to see it, not mine. So please, don’t sue me if the kid ends up in a nut-ward or a serial killer. Just saying.
Another factor of this movie that works and also shows how much fun Spielberg seemed to be having while filming was the ensemble-cast he was able to assemble and make ready for this “dinosaur on a rampage” flick. Might have been a hard-sell at the time, but somehow, the man was able to get a lot of heavy-hitters that are still doing great work, even to this day. Laura Dern and Sam Neill are good as the couple that loves dinosaur bones as much as they love each other, and are good at what they do, whether they be together or separate Dern is good at playing-up that tough, female-role where she can do almost as much dirty work, if not more than the boys in town; whereas Neill is good at playing-up his role as the type of dude who doesn’t like kids and doesn’t even want him, but yet, finds himself almost acting like a daddy when the shit hits the fan. Bedtime stories and all.
Samuel L. Jackson shows up and is good in his couple of scenes where he infamously utters the line, “Hold on to your butts.” A bit corny, but it’s classic because of Mr. Jackson. Or Samuel L. Whichever one that mofo desires. Despite the problems I had with his dumb-ass character, screen-vet Richard Attenborough was actually very good at giving us a glimpse into a man that has too much money, too much ambition, but not enough smarts to fully think things through. I felt bad for him, until I realized that he allowed his grand kids to show up for this wonderful weekend. I guess he won’t be invited to Christmas din-din any time soon. And lastly, need I not forget about the one, the only, Mr. Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, aka, the rock-star scientist who always lays low, always lays cool, and always has something hilarious or witty to say. It’s classic-Goldblum, whadda ya expect?!?
Consensus: Though the extra-dimension isn’t needed, Jurassic Park still holds up as one of the best, and most entertaining Spielberg flicks because he never seems to lose that fun-aspect that makes it such a ride (they actually have a pretty sucky one in Universal), and also the serious side to it all where you feel like anybody could die at any second, you just don’t know how to expect it coming. Trust me, not as gruesome as it sounds so show your kiddies and see what they have to say. Unless they get traumatized for the rest of their lives. Once again, don’t blame me for not listening to your inner-soul.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
When Guy (Frank Whaley), a recent film-school graduate with big ideas, takes a job as assistant to major studio executive Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey), he believes his ship has finally come in; little does he know it’s a slave ship, for his boss is indeed worse than a slave driver. But yet, he still puts up with it all thinking he has the dream job in the palm of his hands.
Anybody who has ever worked in a day in their life, probably know that bosses suck. There’s always a time and place where a boss will get on your nerves, piss you off, and just make you want to beat the shit out of them with no end in sight. However, that’s what bosses are there for and if you decide to break they teeth, just be ready for a pink slip and possible lawsuit some time soon. That’s why we hate bosses: they yell and scream at us, and we can’t do shit about it. That’s what I love about being un-employed. Yay for me.
Writer/director George Huang does a pretty impressive with this film, showing us the highs and lows of working in Hollywood, the people that can make it some of the worst days of your life, and just what it may do to all of your dreams of one day running rampant, happy, and free through Hollywood, making as much mooolah as you can. We all know that Hollywood is a vicious place to make money and work, but this film really hits that idea home hard and shows just what psychological effects it can have you. You probably won’t go full, Travis Bickle-psycho working in Hollywood, but it will definitely ‘eff with your mind and probably make you feel like you’re worse than you really are. It makes you wonder how much pain and agony like this Huang had to endure before making this movie. Poor guy, but at least he was able to get this one out there and show his former bosses over the years that he could kick-ass.
The film starts off very dark, showing us a hostage situation where Guy traps Buddy into his house, but then keeps on flashing-back to Guy’s early days of working with Buddy and finding out just how they go to this point. This is particularly interesting because the film seems to juggling two types of genres (dark comedy and psychological thriller) and making it work since everything here (including the comedy), is so damn bleak. Honestly, all of the shit that Guy has to go through is some really, painfully sad stuff that I barely even laughed at because I just felt so sorry for the guy. But even though I didn’t really laugh at this flick, it was still well-written by Huang and I thought the balance of dark comedy and psychological thriller worked well just because he never fully changed the pace and kept it one, long, sad adventure through the inner-day workings of Hollywood.
What didn’t work for me was that Guy isn’t really a character you can’t get behind, no matter how hard the film tries to make us feel for him. Yeah, it’s pretty easy to feel bad for a guy that gets shit on at work as much as he does but the guy (pun intended) never shows any backbone and is pretty much just an ordinary, stepping-stool for Buddy. I get that this is what Huang was trying to do, but it seemed like almost every scene with Buddy and Guy was just going to show Guy effin’ up and having Buddy insult him in a very witty, but terribly mean way (then again, when are insults ever nice?). This sort of formula of gets a tad old and repetitive after awhile and you just want Guy to stand up for himself, which he never does, that is until when we know and it’s a shame cause this could have been a whole lot more interesting if that idea was pursued more thoroughly.
Guy is also a pretty bland character no matter how hard Frank Whaley may have tried here as well. Whaley is a good actor, and even if he isn’t a mainstream name (his villain role in Vacancy is probably his biggest role, which really isn’t saying much), can still prove that he has the chops to pull-off any character but he seems a bit miscast here as well. Whaley is good when it comes to showing the bumbling, bright-eyed boy who comes into a new work office expecting to hit the big times, but when all of that starts to change and he gets a little crazy, Whaley doesn’t seem that powerful or freaky to make psycho work. I could believe that a guy like this would go so insane to capture and torture his boss, but Whaley just doesn’t have that strong of a delivery to make you believe so. Maybe it was also the character of Guy himself that didn’t feel all that fleshed-out for but either way, something was just missing here.
But where Whaley seems to fail, Spacey succeeds and flies with flying, fucking colors. Basically, anybody who has seen Horrible Bosses knows that Kevin Spacey can play one, bad motherfucker of a boss but even if you haven’t seen this movie; you still don’t even know. Spacey is so detestable as Buddy, that it’s almost likable. Spacey is perfect at playing this prick that almost everything that comes out his mouth, seems to fit his character so well and it just gets better and better as the insults start to get meaner and meaner. But it’s not all about being a terribly-mean asshole that makes Spacey’s performance work so well as it does, he actually shows a lot of compassion behind it all that works, mainly because of Spacey’s talents as an actor. Spacey gives us a reason as to why he is, the way he is and it makes sense but it also seems unfair, making his character a very hard one to feel compassion for even when he seems to be deep down inside, a very sad, angry, and lonely person that just preys on making the weaker ones feel inferior to him. He’s an asshole, but he’s an asshole that has depth and only Spacey can show that in as perfect of a way as this. Way, way better character that blows Guy right out of the water in terms of complexity.
Consensus: Swimming with Sharks is perfectly acted by Kevin Spacey, who is at the top of his game here as the detestable Buddy Ackerman, and features a lot of insight into how vicious of a place like Hollywood is to be working at, but it’s main character seems very ordinary. Hell, maybe almost too ordinary and takes away a lot of the promises that this material could have easily went with, had Huang decided to go down that path.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Randle McMurphy would have taught these ladies what being crazy was all about.
Set during the sixties, Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and sent to a renowned New England psychiatric hospital where she spent the next two years in a ward for teenage girls. There, she finds out more about herself through others, especially Lisa (Angelina Jolie), a charming sociopath who really messes with Susanna’s, as well as everybody else’s, minds.
Any movie that has ever been and ever will be made about psychiatric hospitals, will always be compared to the greatest of all-time: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. To some movies, this may not seem like a very fair-comparison but still it can’t be escaped as that film is not only the finest about psychiatric hospitals, but one of the finest films of all time. Period. That’s why it’s so damn hard for films like these to get past that detour, and be it’s own film. Sadly, the idea and thought of One Flew only made this flick all the more boring in hind-sight.
I’ve never read Susanna Kaysen’s autobiographical-take on her 18-month stay at the nut house, but from what I hear, people that loved that book absolutely loathed this movie and I can totally see why. From the first-shot, I expected this movie to be one of those downright depressing tales of a bunch of wacked-up people that can’t seem to get by in life no matter how hard they try to be normal, and that’s what sort of had me excited here. I thought I, dare I say it, was in-store for a female-version of One Flew, but somehow, just ended-up with a total chick-flick disguised as a One Flew-ripoff. Very, very disappointing.
After I got used to the tone and realized that maybe this movie was going to shine more light in the bottle then I expected, I decided to still give it a chance and see where my opinions and minds swayed. However, I soon find myself caring less and less about the material as it went along. Mainly most of the blame has to be put on director James Mangold who treats this material as if it was another soapy, melodramatic TV-movie-of-the-week that you’d probably catch right after school is letting-out and the kids are just getting on the buses.
With an R-rating, this film definitely has it’s fair shares of curses, nudity, drug-use, and some disturbing images to spice some things up, but you take away all of that, and then you just got a film that’s trying way, way too hard to inspire us to be the best in our lives and instead, ends up just being way too melodramatic and serious with itself. You don’t feel like you just watched something that will stay in your mind forever, nor have you change anything you already do throughout your day; it’s just there to be there. That’s just about it and that sucks because from what I hear, the source material is very, very rich in it’s context and what it has to say. Somehow, someway, Mangold lost his way.
Obviously a movie about a bunch of crazy girls (half of which have all tried to kill themselves) isn’t going to go down the dark comedy-route, but at least give me something that’s more than just a bunch of sad, lonely girls that can’t make sense of anything. Seriously, I’ve seen it all before, heard it all before, and 9 times out of 10, know that it’s an idea that’s been used a lot better before. Watching crazy girls cry, rant, rave, curse, yell, and be sad all the time, doesn’t give me much pleasure, nor does it really inspire me to move-on with my life and be the best that I can be. I don’t know what Kaysen’s original source-material’s point was about life and how you live it, but something tells me it got a bit skewered in the process of making this movie. Also, as inspiring as it may be to see a bunch of crazy girls change their lives around, wake up, and smell the cauliflower, it’s a theme/idea that isn’t anything new, refreshing, or powerful in the least-bit, especially when it’s done in such a dry way like this. It’s just boring to hear, boring to watch, and most of all, boring to wait for 2 hours, just so it will get to it’s damn point.
The only aspect of this movie that nearly saves the day is the performances from everybody involved, especially it’s two leads. Winona Ryder does a great-job at giving this Susanna girl some life, that may seem a bit phony at-first, but soon becomes more and more believable as the story rolls on and we see how she reacts to what life has thrown at her. Obviously Ryder isn’t the best actress out there, but the girl still can give a solid performance when she wants to and that’s exactly what she does here. However, I do think that this Susanna girl was a lot more complex and diverse in the book, which is why it’s sort of a shame to see how she rarely smiles, rarely makes people laugh, and rarely ever does anything we don’t expect from her. She’s sort of plain and dull, which is something that Ryder tries to distract us from, but in the end, sort of fails to do so. Yet, it isn’t her fault and it’s more of Mangold’s than anybody else’s, really.
The best out of this whole cast is obviously Angelina Jolie, who won an Oscar here for her role as the trouble-maker and fire-starter inmate known as Lisa. There’s always a certain spark and edge to Jolie that makes her light-up on-screen and here, she uses that to her advantage, but in a different way than we are used to seeing from her. Lisa is nasty, brutally honest, hurtful, but also very unapologetic in the way she handles herself, tells everybody how she feels, and goes about her day as if nobody else is around her. Lisa reminds me of a lot of girls I know (even guys, too) and definitely seems like a more complex person than Susanna is and that shows. Whenever she’s not around, the movie drags and drags and drags, until she finally shows-up once again to liven things up. If you feel as if Jolie isn’t a good actress and isn’t really worth-watching, other than wondering how she got her lips to be so freakin’ big in the first-place, then check out her role here and realize that the girl has a lot more going on for her than Ryder does, that’s for damn sure. Probably has a lot more money too, that she uses to buy her clothes with. Hayooo! Don’t worry, I’ll be here till Thursday!
Consensus: The cast makes up for some of the script’s misfortunes, but there’s way too many in Girl, Interrupted to turn your head-away from as it just ends up being another, melodramatic and soapy chick-flick about a bunch of gals that have problems, need to get over them, and simply can’t. Just watch for Jolie and some of Ryder, and be done with it.
3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!
Hey, cops can have girlfriends too.
Robert De Niro plays Wayne, a timid Chicago cop sarcastically nicknamed “Mad Dog.” He saves a gangster name Frank (Bill Murray)’s life and as payback, Frank “gives” Wayne his beautiful bartender Glory (Uma Thurman). However, when the two fall in love, then Wayne realizes he may have to fight-off Frank from his girl.
Let’s just put it like this: this is a weird-ass movie. From the beginning, you feel like you know how this one is going to play-out but as time goes on, and as the story progresses more and more, it changes up a whole lot and you never know where it’s going to go. That’s a lot of fun whenever you’re sitting-down and watching a movie and it’s that element of film-making that movies had nowadays but somehow, just don’t. Maybe Hollywood gets in the way, maybe stars get in the way, or hell, maybe movies are just running out of any original ideas that are worth showing on-screen. But either way, watching a movie and having no idea where it’s going to go from frame-to-frame is a hell of a lot of fun and it’s even better when you have a cast like this.
The movie’s casting may have it seem like a bit of a stunt where De Niro is playing the meek, sensitive-type that takes random pictures of life, whereas Bill Murray is playing the tough, unpredictable gangster that you don’t whether or not you should trust, or be totally scared-of. It seems like a total switcheroo and believe it or not, De Niro was actually offered the role of Frank, before he even knew about the role of Wayne, but he turned it down, just so he could show the world that he can in-fact, play a nice and sweet guy that doesn’t stomp on people’s heads. De Niro, in an obvious-effort to change the way his career was being viewed upon at during that time, took the role of this simple-minded, nice guy and does a great job with it, mainly because De Niro dials it back insanely.
Usually, when you see an actor/actress trying their hardest to play against-type, they usually go overboard with playing it cheap and subtle, you know, just so people don’t associate them with the other dozen similar roles that they have played in the past. In an effort to not be distracting, it actually ends-up becoming distracting and in full-effect, it’s a bit bothersome when you watch the performance and judge it as a whole. However, De Niro isn’t like that here as Wayne and really just seems to playing himself, but a more simpler, kinder-self of his and it shows that the guy can play these types of roles and make us care about him even more. Wayne is obviously a very small man, in a very, very big world and you kind of feel bad for him after awhile, mainly because you know that he’s going to get his heart ripped-out sooner or later and all you can do is just sit there and wait for it. I loved this small, tiny performance from De Niro and now that it seems like he’s getting his career back on-track with the Silver Linings Playbook, I can only hope to the Movie Gods, that he ends-up going back down this career-path and making some smart-choices. Or, he could just go back and do another Meet the Parents movie. His choice, not mine.
It should almost go without saying that Bill Murray is a freakin’ blast to watch in any movie he does, but that’s especially the case here as Frank, the sadistic and mean gangster that you just can’t help but love. This is a perfect piece of against-type casting not just because Murray has never played a role like this before, but mostly because he absolutely never lets you forget that he hasn’t and is at least having a bunch of fun with it, in the meantime. Murray never loses his sense of humor (Frank is a part-time gangster, part-time comedian) and always allows himself to be on the butt-end of a joke whenever it suits the script. Whenever he gets dangerous, it is actually pretty scary to watch because you never quite know what this guy is going to do next, but that’s the whole fun of watching Murray in this type of role, and just watching Murray in general. He’s always surprising us and always keeping us on-edge. That’s the beautiful thing about Bill Murray and I don’t think it will ever stop.
Uma Thurman does a nice-job as Glory, the gal that Frank hires to keep Wayne some company for a week, but when you put her next to these two actors, she sort of sticks out like a sore-thumb. I mean, that’s not saying that Thurman isn’t good, because she’s very good at playing this sympathetic, and vulnerable girl that just wants to do the right thing, but when you have two stars like Murray and De Niro absolutely knocking homers out of the park with all they can do, then it becomes pretty obvious who the script had in mind when it was first being-developed. It also probably doesn’t help that Glory’s story could have been developed a bit more to have us care more for her, along with Wayne, but in essence, we just end-up caring more for Wayne and a little bit for Glory.
However, that’s where the tone of this movie comes in and ultimately, it’s weirdness as well. What makes this movie so weird is that it continues to change it’s tone and pace every time a scene switches. One second you’ll have a police drama, next second you’ll have a black comedy, then the next second you’ll have a gangster flick, and then the next second, you’ll have a romance movie, and so on, and so forth. Basically, you can never pin-point exactly where the hell this movie is going to end-up, how, and when, but you don’t really care because it’s always fun, it’s always entertaining to watch, and it’s always making you laugh.
The only aspect of this movie that I don’t think was as strong as everything else, was in-fact, the romance between Wayne and Glory. See, we’re supposed to believe that these two random pieces of crap would, by sure chance, fall in-love over this one week together where they do nothing but hang-around, have awkward sit-downs while watching television, and even awkward trips to the bed (if you catch my drift). However, when they’re romance seems to face a bit of a problem with Frank wanting Glory back, you don’t really care all that much, mainly because the movie doesn’t really seem to have you believe that these two opposites, would indeed fall in-love and fight for it no matter what. There even comes a point where I felt like it was all a part of Wayne’s wild-imagination to be some sort of plot contrivance, but in reality, it wasn’t and the movie really was THIS serious about the actual love between the two. Other than a very realistic and honest sex scene the two have, Wayne and Glory’s romance never fully catches fire and the only reason why you want them to continue with one another, is just so Frank can come in and screw everything up for them and add even more enjoyment to our viewing. Hey, what can ya say? We all love Bill Murray!
Consensus: Mad Dog and Glory is as weird as they come, and if you can handle the non-stop changes in tone and pace, then this one will definitely be a treat for you, but even if you can’t handle that aspect, just sit-back and watch the amazing performances from Bill Murray and Robert De Niro who both play against-type, but quite perfectly, may I add.
Do con-men and women really look this dashing? If so, I’m not cut-out for the job.
Lilly Dillon (Huston) is a veteran con artist who begins to rethink her life when her son Roy (Cusack), a small-time grifter, suffers an almost-fatal injury when hit with a thrust from the blunt end of a baseball bat, right after a failed scam. However, she doesn’t realize that her boy has fixed himself up with a dame (Annette Bening) that may not seem to be all that she appears to be.
Calling this movie a “thriller” would not be doing it any justice, and I’m still contemplating on whether or not it’s the good type of justice, or the bad. Good, mainly because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool, but at the same time, bad, because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool. See, it’s not the type of film about cons that you’d expect. It’s not filled with a big-heist, it’s not filled with thrilling suspense and action to hold you over, and it’s not even really filled with that many twists or turns. Instead, it’s sort of like the day-time soap opera version of a movie about cons and that’s both good, and bad. It’s very love-hate with me here, and I think you’re about to find that out.
The problem I ran into with this flick was that I feel like it would be going-on in such a slow, tedious-pace that it almost felt deliberate. Most movies that have this slow pace, usually do it for the same reasons that this flick did it, but it works a lot better for them since it’s exactly how the story should be told and judges how effective it will be to the viewer. However, with a story/movie like this, the slower-pace doesn’t quite work as well as it might think and continued to piss me off, because every time the film felt like it was really getting somewhere and picking-up itself and all of the pieces it was leaving on the ground, it would just stop, take a moment to pause, and jog it’s way through.
It was like me in a 5k mile run. I start off so perfectly, then I realize I put too much energy into the first 5 minutes, then I decide to slow things down, almost to the point of where I begin to walk, then, I get some inspiration and energy in my step and begin to run again, and then so-on, and so-forth, all up-until I get to the finish-line and everybody treats me like I just cured cancer, even despite me coming in 2nd to last place. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes with me (I obviously always win those runs, obviously…), but that’s how I felt with this flick and I feel like director Stephen Frears was just toying with me on-purpose. In some ways that works and makes the flick seem less predictable as it strings along, but in other ways, it just feels cheap and sort of like the director wants to be like the characters and play a sick, cat-and-mouse game that some people may not be too happy with in the end when they find out what’s to come of it all.
However, I can’t hate on Frears too much because no matter how slow and languid the pace got, I was always interested in seeing what was going to happen next. The story definitely takes it’s fair-share of detours into the past and they are definitely what feature the most energy and fun of the whole flick, but whenever it focuses on these characters, what they’re doing now, how they’re getting their money, and who’s playing who, the film still stays fun, if not all that energetic as the flashback sequences. Seeing cons do their thing like no other is always a blast to see on-screen and rather than just having it be a flick that exposes trick-after-trick, we get more of a balanced look at how broken and dull some of these cons lives are, and how money cannot buy them happiness and instead, only buys them more trouble. You actually care for these characters and that’s only what raises the stakes even more when the unpredictable-factor of this story comes into play, and you feel like you have no idea where it’s going to go or how, you just know that somebody is playing somebody. Then again, when you think about life and all that is: aren’t we all?
Okay, away from the philosophical ramblings of a 19-year-old film critic, back to the movie at-hand here. Yeah, the Grifters. I think without this trio of leads that the flick features, it probably would have folded underneath it’s own weight but thankfully, this trio of leads are here and are here to give some magnificent performances that stick with you, long after the flick is over. Before ’90, John Cusack was mainly known for racing randomly in the streets and always knowing the right Peter Gabriel track to have the ladies swooning, but once the year 1990 actually hit and this flick came-around, people began to look at him differently and realize something about him: this guy’s all grown-up. Cusack never really got a chance to stretch his acting-skills back in those days, mainly because everybody thought he was made for just hooking-up with high-school girls and in a way, they may have been right, but Cusack proved them all wrong and showed that the guy could play a sly, evil son-of-a-bitch that was as slick as they come and didn’t know when to stop pulling-in jobs and ranking-up the dough. Cusack always seems like a believable character and that’s all because the guy never over-does his whole cool essence and look to his act and always seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody else in the flick, as well as the audience themselves, yet, we always like him and cheer for him as things begin to go South for his hormones and his job. I guess being a con is considered a job and if so, he definitely must have had to won “Employee of the Month”, at least once.
Anjelica Huston plays his mommy, who just so happens to be 14-years-older than him and shows you that the gal can, as usual, play a strong-willed and big-brained, female-lead like no other and as much as this may seem like a convention of hers by now, I still can’t hold that against her. Huston’s great with this role and you always wonder whether or not she is Roy’s mom, his lover, a past-fling, or simply, just some chick who’s trying to play a con on him and get his stash of cash. Like the rest of the characters in this trio, you never know what’s up with her and what her next move is going to be, but like typical, Huston-fashion, she always keeps you guessing and interested. Still, I was just waiting for that wig to come off. I could not believe how legitimate it truly was in terms of the story and setting.
The best out of this trio, and the one who really stands-out among the rest is probably Annette Bening as Myra, the fellow-squeeze of Roy. Bening, no offense to her or her looks, has never really been the type of actress that I could really declare “sexy”, “hot”, or even one that I would just have to take to bed, if I saw her in real-life (because they all would go to be with me, let’s face it), but here, she totally had me re-think that. Bening uses her flair for sexuality and nudity to her advantage and has her character come-off as a bit of a tramp, but a smart tramp at best, and a tramp that knows exactly what she’s doing, even if the others may not be able to catch onto it right just yet. Out of of the three, you’ll be wondering the most what side Bening’s is on and when you finally get your answer, you may be shocked, you may not be, but what you will be, is surprised by how much Bening uses the look and feel of sex-appeal to make a character that’s full of it, really, really work.
Consensus: Stephen Frears’ direction definitely makes you feel as if he is just playing with you, just in-order to be more like his subjects, but that’s why The Grifters does, and does not work in it’s own right. However, you can’t deny the charm and power that is within these three performances and it’s just wonderful to see them act each-and-every-single-one of their asses off, even if the pace seems to not be serving them the full-plate that they so rightfully deserves.
Exactly why I never ran for high school president. Well, that and because it’s just lame to begin with.
Election tells the story of Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a popular high school history and civics teacher in suburban Omaha, Nebraska, and one of his students, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), around the time of the school’s student body elections. When Tracy obtains a nomination for class president in the school election, McAllister believes she does not deserve the title, and tries his best to stop her from winning.
High school elections are probably the dumbest things I ever had to go through throughout my 4 years of high school because it’s the same old shit every single year. People promise to change the school, they promise to listen to what you, the student has to say, they promise to talk with the principal about certain changes to the school that will never, ever happen, and when that’s all said and done, it’s onto the next year, and the year after that, then after that, and then so on and so forth. As you can tell, I hate high school elections and this film reminded me exactly why.
Co-writer/director Alexander Payne takes what we usually expect from “teen comedies” and gives us something a hell of a lot smarter and dark than anybody would expect. Payne starts this flick off as if it was a normal, every day type of high school comedy with all of the goody-goodies, the hard-working teachers, the goofy jocks, and of course, the lesbian girl that nobody really likes or wants to be around. But when the actual elections come around in the film, that’s when things really start to get interesting and very mean-spirited, but in a good way.
At its core, this film is a biting satire about how teachers don’t really like the students and how students don’t really like the teachers. It’s pretty much one of those unsaid understandings that are always around in high school. Of course, there are those teachers that everybody loves and feel like they can go up to and talk about anything with, but mostly, the teachers themselves aren’t as fond of you as you aren’t of them. I’ve learned this throughout all of my 4 years of high school and have realized that the quicker I understand this, the better and that’s when things for me in my high school life started clicking. Then again, a lot of teachers started to dislike for my “deauchy” attitude towards them but it’s mainly because I just knew that there couldn’t be a friendship between me and them. Sounds strange, I know, but that’s how I have lived for so long and that’s how I may always live.
But enough about me, more about this flick that we got here. Payne’s writing for this film is awesome because not only is it funny in the way it satirizes high school as we know it, but also shows us a funny glimpse at how life should not be based on just high school. Sure, sometimes we’re stupid, sometimes we’re mean, sometimes we make dumb decisions that regret the next morning, and sometimes we deserved to be laughed at. But when it’s all said and done, it’s high school and in the end, we’ll be OK. Maybe that’s not the smartest message out there in today’s world, and I can probably bet you that there are about 10 other flicks just like this with the same theme, but Payne’s message hit well and felt like a well-deserved pay-off after all of the time he dedicated to these characters and all of their immoral acts.
My only complaint with this film would probably have to be that I never really laughed all that much, even as much as it wanted me to. Yeah, the satire bites and there is a lot here that’s very honest, if a little too honest, but I still never caught myself with a gut-busting laugh and I think that’s just because it’s too dark to laugh at some of the stuff here. Some character’s lives go into some pretty sad places and even though the film seems to be pointing the finger at them and showing us that “their misery = humor”, I still couldn’t find a way to laugh. I don’t know, maybe I love human beings too much to laugh at their misfortunes but not much here made me laugh like I expected to with a guy like Alexander Payne.
Casting Matthew Broderick in the lead role of Mr. McAllister is an obvious riff on his days as the iconic hookey player, Ferris Bueller, but Broderick brings more to this role and makes it more than just a one-joke character. Mr. McAllister is one of those teachers that thinks he can change every student who ever needs him and loves to be involved with his school in anyway that he can. However, Tracy Flick is a girl he can just not like (mainly because his buddy boned her) and because of this problem he has, his life spirals out of control and you can’t help but just feel bad for the guy. There are plenty of great scenes that actually made me laugh just because Broderick has that great comedic timing that has done him so well, even all of these years later, but there’s a certain amount of honesty to his character that makes you feel for him, even when he betrays his morals (or is it ethics?). Actually, that same honesty could probably be said about another character here as well: Tracy Flick.
Reese Witherspoon is absolute dyno-mite as Tracy Flick, everybody’s favorite (or not favorite) perky, goody goody two shoes that wants to do every single activity and be the face of the high school, just so she can have that it can make her look good for college. Flick seems a bit like an innocent character at first, but after awhile, we soon start to realize that she is anything but and once she starts to find out that she’s going to have to fight for her presidency, that’s when her character starts to get lean, mean, and crude, unlike any other character Reese has ever played before. Since Reese has devoted most of her time to lame, chick flick roles, it’s nice to get a reminder of just how awesome of an actress she can be and how powerful her skills no matter who the character is. Tracy Flick is definitely one of her more iconic roles and it’s one that reminded me of plenty of other girls I knew in high school that just bothered me to death. Yep, I’m still at that stage where I look back at all of the bad things in high school but that will probably change within the next year or so.
Chris Klein is pretty good as the dumb jock, Paul Metzler, who gets conned into running against Tracy for president. The problem with this character is that this guy is so goofy, so dumb, that it almost doesn’t seem like this guy is even a human character that we can root for, even if he is the nicest character out of everybody else here. Even as much as I liked Jessica Campbell as his little sister, Tammy, the film never gives her enough screen-time and the rest of the flick, she is sort of just forgotten about until a last-minute montage showing all of the characters and what they’ve been up to as of late.
Consensus: Election may not be as funny as it would like to think of itself as being, but the satire is biting and very honest with it’s three-dimensional characters that do bad things, but you still care for, mainly because of the great performances from the cast, mainly Reese Witherspoon in a role you have never seen her in before. That is, unless you have already seen this flick.
Who cares about family when you got a plate full of turkey right in-front of you?
Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) is a divorced, single-mom who just lost her job and now has to fly home for the traditional family Thanksgiving Dinner in Baltimore. Thing is, her parents (Charles Durning and Anne Bancroft) are a bit out-of-whack, her gay-brother (Robert Downey Jr.) likes to start a whole bunch of trouble, and her sister (Cynthia Stevenson) doesn’t like anything that anybody else does.
Ohhh, Thanksgiving. The family, the mashed potatoes, the turkey, the corn, the butter, the bread, and most of all, the fights. Yes, not matter how perfect your family may be, there are always fights to be had around this joyous time because let’s face it, any time you get a group of people together, to sit-around and eat dinner, there’s going to be some words thrown around and about and that’s just the way it works. Me, on the other hand, I eat, talk, watch football, and that’s it. If my family fights, then so be it because I know I’m not getting myself involved and I’m sure as hell not missing out on some turkey, that’s for damn sure. To be honest though, I think eating turkey was something that was more interesting to think about than watching this movie.
Jodie Foster went behind the camera for the 2nd time with this flick and you can sort of tell that she’s connecting with this topic through her own experiences with her, and her family, especially around Thanksgiving. Now maybe since Foster was such a big-name at such an early-age, maybe she didn’t really have nice, little, suburban-cooked meals of turkey with her ordinary-family of regular-day people, but you can definitely tell that she enjoys that aspect behind Thanksgiving because it shows a lot in this film, and there’s just a certain easy-going feel to it that makes it so pleasant of a watch. All holiday movies are cheery and happy-go-lucky, and this one is no different but it’s something about the family-dynamic that this movie nails so well that got me all cheerful.
All of the interactions these characters shared with one another, all felt real for about the first hour or so. I liked how everybody in this family, knew each other, had their own ways of communicating with one another, and didn’t hold-back when it came to expressing their real-feelings about something, whether it be each other or the world around them. That’s how a real family is and I liked watching everybody just talk and be themselves around one another, even if themselves was just a selfish, condescending piece-of-crap that you wouldn’t want to be around, let alone spend all of Thanksgiving Dinner with. I don’t know how many actual, normal Thanksgiving Dinners Foster has had in her life, but I can definitely tell that she enjoys the look and feel of a believable family-dynamic and how everybody gets that all families are wacky, dysfunctional, and always, I do repeat, always fight about something stupid or meaningful.
However, this whole realistic family-dynamic doesn’t go on forever. After the first hour of this movie, it seemed like Foster sort of lost what she was going for originally, and just decided to make this one, long soapy melodrama and sort of abandon all of the realistic, family-stuff that was going on before. I liked when the family was arguing and how they couldn’t decide on what to eat or not, but I didn’t give a single-crap about how the father remembers the good old days and how he could wish to go back in-time and do them all over again. I’m sorry, but it didn’t interest me and it seemed like Foster lost herself because instead of focusing on the whole family and what they’re all about, she focuses more on Claudia as time goes on and as good as interesting as she may be at-times, she’s never fully-developed.
You have to give Holly Hunter a lot of credit for really nailing her roles as Claudia. Claudia is a bit of nut-job that obviously has problems with her professional and personal life, and even though that is touched-on within the first 20 minutes or so, it never feels like we really care all that much to begin with. Then, the film starts to really focus on her and what’s going on with her life, and it makes no sense as to where all of this crap is coming from. I get it, she’s a bit sad, and she misses her daughter, but what does that have to do with her and her personality. I didn’t get what Foster was touching on with her and even though Hunter is very-good here, I still wish that her character was more fully-developed and wasn’t used so randomly.
Everybody else in the cast is pretty good, too, and to be honest, a lot more interesting than Claudia in-ways. Robert Downey Jr. seems like he’s having a ball as Claudia’s trouble-making brother, Tommy, and just uses that “talking-really-fast” shtick oh so well here as he does everywhere else. Him and Hunter have a nice chemistry that really does feel like they are brother and sister, and that they have always loved each other through thick-and-thin and just watching them together was great to see, especially since Downey was probably all coked-up out-of-his-mind while he was doing this. Anne Bancroft plays the mother, Adele, and is very, very good as we all know her as being and just nails the whole cooky, paranoid mother-role very-well. Hell, in a way, it even reminds me of what my mom may be in the near-future but I’m not banking on it. A super young-looking Dylan McDermott shows up here as Leo Fish, a friend of Tommy’s, and he’s okay but he seems way too comfortable with this family, way too quick. Literally, as soon as the guy stops in, he starts making wise-cracks to Claudia about how much of a hell the house has got to be and it’s obvious that he wants to get into her parents, because why else would he randomly be talking to her like that, but it didn’t seem believable. Instead, it just came off as a bit creepy and if he was a guy that one of my relatives brought over for dinner, I’d probably want him the hell out. Then again, it’s Dylan McDermott and I’d be pretty honored if the guy showed-up in my house in the first-place so never mind that noise that I’m spraying.
Consensus: Home for the Holidays has the look and feel of a cheery, good-spirited holiday movie, but also feels like it’s trying to go for a bit more and instead, bites off a little bit more than it can chew.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Gobble Gobble!
Oh, now I see where the attraction for Tom came first for Katie, after all.
This plot follows a new, super-cool agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he embarks on his mission to uncover the mole who has framed him for the murders of his entire IMF team. The answers that he comes up with aren’t that easy to find in the first-place, so he’s got to use his acquired set of skills to make all the magic happen.
After screwing myself over and not going out to see Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, I realized a huge mistake not only because I didn’t see the best-received mainstream movie of 2011, but because I haven’t seen a single-one of these Mission: Impossible movies. I don’t know what it was, the fact that I’m not incredibly huge on action-movies that feature spies that aren’t named James Bond, or I just wasn’t falling for the same crap of watching Cruise be a total bad-ass by kicking ass and punching-out some pretty neat-o one-liners for two hours. Either way, I didn’t see them and I feel like I needed to and I sort of see why I missed them in the first-place: they were exactly what I expected them to be.
A name you don’t usually hear associated with action-movies is Brian De Palma and it’s pretty cool to see such a talented guy, flex his directing-muscles and do something new, cool, and improved with the same old tired genre of action. In ways, De Palma gets to do just that, but in other ways, not really. What I liked about De Palma’s direction here is that most of these shots feel deserved and the way he frames certain scenes are more than you would expect from any other action movie of this multitude. Instead of just blasting us over the head constantly, with a bunch of action-scenes that feel the need to be loud, aggressive and full of CGI, we get small, calculated scenes that burst with tension, without ever really seeming like it’s trying too hard.
There was even that one memorable scene where Hunt gets lowered into the data bank room and can’t make a peep, or else all of the alarms will go off and his cover will be blown. Before hand, I heard a lot about this scene and heard that it was the most memorable of the whole movie, and that was no lie, because it’s the one scene where I really felt on-the-edge-of-my-seat, throughout the whole 2 hours. That’s not to say that the rest of the movie wasn’t thrilling, because it was, it’s just that this scene in particular stood out the most because it seemed like the most original and refreshing idea out of the whole-product. De Palma takes the idea of “not making a peep, or the cover is blown” so seriously, that the whole sequence is nearly played in silence, where all we hear is the sound of breathing and slight-movements coming from Hunt. It’s a real thrilling sequence that shows you that De Palma wasn’t going to let any big-time, Hollywood production get in the way of his uprising tension. Sadly, though, he does let them get in the way of everything else and that’s what sucked.
It’s obvious that De Palma didn’t have total and complete control over this movie and the way the final-product looked and played-out, because there seems to be a lot of problems that we usually get with the action genre, that I’m just tired of. First of all, the story makes no sense whatsoever and I’m glad that De Palma focuses more on that aspect of this movie, but if you’re going to do it, do it right and not to the point of where I’m scratching my head, wondering “who did what?” and “why it happened?” Too many questions for an action flick and it shows that maybe a twist or two in a movie works for pieces like Blow Out and Dressed to Kill, but not for a story about Ethan Hunt. In reality, he doesn’t need them, all he needs is his really cool, super-agent skills that make you feel as if you are not worthy to be in his presence.
It also gets worse when the last 10 minutes turn into nothing else, but the same old garbage-like action movies that we are so used to seeing, filled with intense CGI that feels dated even 16 years later, and an unbelievable action-sequence that I’m usually fine with from time-to-time, but here, not so much. In all honesty, I feel like all of the confusion that goes on throughout this movie and it’s direction is the fact that De Palma just doesn’t fit-in well with the Hollywood royalty, and it seems as if his script, his final-product, and his ideas for a new, and improved action movie, were all used in filming, but never fully thought-out once it came to the actual final-product itself. You can blame anybody you want for that: Hollywood for being so stingy and closed-minded; De Palma for being so gullible thinking that Hollywood was going to let him tinker around with a movie based off of a beloved TV show; or the bazillion writers, who felt the dire need to include action, comedy, espionage, suspense, human-drama, twists, turns, mystery, and a dash of romance all into a story that didn’t need to be anything other than, “CIA agent gets framed, finds out who it was, and kills him.” But to be honest, I think the real one to blame is non-other than Mr. Ethan Hunt himself, that’s right, ex-Mr. Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise.
See, even though Tom Cruise does a great job as Ethan Hunt and definitely makes us realize just how frickin’ swift and cool this guy really is, we never get a moment where he’s not around and I think that’s all because Cruise was the producer on this and basically was given, whatever he damn well pleased at the time. It’s not a bad thing to have Cruise in the fore-front of your movie because the guy can act, and the guy can do this action-role very well, but every single-shot of the entire movie! I mean I get it, man, you’re a really cool actor that’s a big-name to have attached, but give somebody else something to do, other than smell the back-burns of your flatulence.
Case in point, high-quality stars like Kristin Scott Thomas, Ving Rhames, Jean Reno (Leon), Vanessa Redgrave, and even freakin’ Emilio Estevez are all here, but put on the side-lines because Cruise felt the need to be on his own time, and service his own movie. They are all great stars that can put in some great work, if they are given that shot, but they never are because it seems like Cruise wants it all about him, him, him, and nobody else. Yeah, Jon Voight gets the biggest-role out of the whole supporting-cast, but even his character goes through a weird-ass transformation about half-way through and just adds to the whole confusion of the movie, it’s plot, and just how Voight can move so well when he’s practically dying? Oh well, answers that will probably never be answered and who’s fault is that? You Tommy, you. Katie, I hate to say it, you were right, honey. Good decision on your part.
Consensus: De Palma definitely tries his damn near-hardest to try and make Mission: Impossible different from all of the other action movies out there in “Conventional Land”, but can’t seem to really get his final-product away unscathed from Hollywood without a couple of edits, re-writes that just seem to clutter everything up, and a lead-performance from Cruise that is good, but also feels a bit over-bearing as his face basically pops-up in every shot.
It’s official, Martin Lawrence totally tried to copy The Bruce Campbell. Obviously, it didn’t work.
This begins where Evil Dead II left off, except once again retconning the fact that Ash killed the flying bird thing at the beginning. Instead, he is taken prisoner by English knights at war with a group of Scots. After Ash shows his skill and superiority when killing the “Deadite” used for executions, the film takes a very adventures turn. Ash tries to fling the Necronomicon, mistakenly chants the phrase wrong, and is soon against an army of the undead.
It’s sort of weird that I placed this in the Halloween Horror Movie Month-meme because this one really isn’t as much of a horror flick as much as it’s more of a comedy. However, it is part of the Evil Dead franchise, so I guess it belongs here in that sense and it also makes me feel great knowing that I have finally got done watching it all. And jeez, what a franchise, man.
Since this was made after Sam Raimi hit it pretty big with Darkman two years before, the budget here’s definitely a lot bigger than what he was used to working with, which basically meant he was able to do whatever the hell he wanted, how he wanted, and with as much moolah as he wanted. That’s a pretty smart-idea to pull-off because if you give Raimi enough money, he’ll definitely be able to make it work and that’s what he shows off here.
There’s a lot of fun to be had here with this movie: the comedy is more obvious now but still goofy and over-the-top, the monsters are a lot better-looking, but still odd; and the action is very polished, but still entertaining as hell to watch on-screen. It’s obvious that this movie is very different from the other ones because of what it has at it’s disposal, but that doesn’t really seem to get in the way of Raimi and what he wants to do with this movie, and that’s to pretty much just give us another wacky and wild ride, but this go-around, is placed in the middle ages, where there seems to be a lot more goofy crap happening.
Since this is a pretty up-front comedy, I think it’s pretty safe to say that on that level, it definitely works. Just watching Ash go around and say dumb shit to these characters, without them having a single-clue as to what he means is really, really funny. There’s a whole bunch of anachronistic humor here, but it never seems over-used and just continued to make me laugh and laugh a lot more. I mean, hey, the sight of a 1982 station-wagon standing side-by-side a knight and his horse is pretty damn funny once you take into a consideration the fact that none of these characters have any idea just what the hell that actually is. As I said before, not as much of a scary movie as it is funny, and that’s the real charm behind it all, is that it is funny and knows how to play around with itself.
However, when you look at it as a movie that came after the first two, it sort of pales in-comparison. Granted, this movie is still a strong add into the trilogy, but definitely seems a lot more careful with itself now, considering that there was more of an opportunity to be a mainstream hit, when we all know that Evil Dead is not for a large audience, because some love it and some get it. One of the biggest disappointments of this whole movie is the fact that there definitely doesn’t seem to be as much gore or blood this time around and a lot of the action and violence is shown, but never shown in an over-the-top way that made the first two so much fun. Actually, for a movie that’s rated-R, it’s a bit tame and seems like Raimi wasn’t allowed to do everything that he wanted, simply because of the big, studio-heads that were probably behind this movie.
It’s not that the love or the spirit isn’t here, because it definitely is, it just feels as if it could have been more of a successful stand-alone movie, rather than one that’s associated with the Evil Dead franchise because Ash is in it. But you know what? Ash is also probably the best thing about this movie and it’s all because of how freakin’ cool and king-like Bruce Campbell is, once again too, may I add. Even though it seems like a bit of a shaky-idea to have Ash out of the cabin, fighting demons and have him now in the middle ages, still fighting demons, it still provides a lot of opportunity for Campbell to really stretch out his comedic skills and show everybody what he’s got and needles to say, the results are far from disappointing.
It helps that the script he’s working off of is pretty solid, but Campbell still adds a lot of that goofy, campy charm to a movie that seemed like it really needed that to remind us of the old movies. A shitty line like “Give me some sugar, baby”, just wouldn’t sound right if it was placed in any other movie, with any other actor saying the line, but thankfully, this is an Evil Dead movie and it is Bruce Campbell who delivers that line. Seriously, if a lot of you out there don’t like the first two or don’t even understand the real charm and awesomeness of Campbell, then I urge you to see this movie and watch it for his performance alone. There’s just something about him and his comedic-timing that just puts him and Ash one step ahead of everybody else in this flick and it’s definitely one of the best elements of the whole movie. Guy had me howling from start-to-finish, but he still kicked-ass when the movie needed him to and you know, that’s all that really mattered to me.
Consensus: Army of Darkness is definitely the weakest entry of the whole Evil Dead franchise, but is still a fun movie in it’s own right mainly because of the charm and likability of it’s leading man: the man, the myth, the mother ‘effin legend, Mr. Bruce Campbell, everybody.
Life in a cubicle.
Overwhelmed by stress on the job, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) goes in for therapy and comes out with a life-changing career philosophy: work sucks. Eager to begin a new life of unemployment, he decides to spend more time with his sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) and less time at he office.
Everybody, at one time or another, has hated getting up early, getting stuck in traffic, and going to work where they stay from 9 to 5. It’s all so monotonous and pretty much anybody who has ever worked a day in their life can say that they can easily relate to a premise like this, and I can as well even though I’m not much of a big worker. Thank God for that!
Writer/director Mike Judge is a dude that can be very funny mainly because of how he is able to make a satire about regular, every-day life and this time chooses something we all know a lot about: work. The satire here is that this company, Initech, are pretty much a joke in and of themselves. For anybody that has ever worked a job, whether you were in a cubicle or not, you can still probably go “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about bitch!” when Peter starts to over-sleep and miss work or when him and his pals go out to destroy the officer copier. Regardless of what sort of jobs you have done in your life, shitty or non-shitty, it’s still something that everybody can relate to and laugh at.
A lot of this film is very, very quotable and funny without even really being lewd or raunchy. So many comedies in today’s world are pretty much based on how funny they can place the word “fuck” in thier lines, but here, it’s all about Judge’s writing and how he is pretty much able to make painful observations on life. Everything you would expect a job like this to be, it exactly that: hell. Very simple piece of comedy with a couple of running gags here and there, and a nice feel of satire to make you realize that work really does suck. Then that’s when you wake up and realize that yeah, it does suck but it’s what pays the bills so I’m gonna go anyway. Sucks to say but true.
Problem is with a lot of this flick is that as funny and biting as its satire may be, something happens to it in the middle where we lost a lot of what really had me going for the first couple of acts. When Peter was walking into work late and not really giving a shit about anything and telling his higher-ups that, I thought it was awesome because it’s something we would all love to do but have no balls to do so. However, there’s a middle patch where the flick starts to show Peter in a rut, where he may be getting put in jail and we see this film go into more of a farce rather than a satire. Sometimes, farces aren’t so bad but here, it was sort of a disappointment considering everything else was working so well.
That was a strange problem I had with the flick, as well as noticing that a lot of the laughs weren’t really coming up all that much, probably because they start to focus on the plot. The plot isn’t so terrible, but it starts to get really thin and rather than focusing on the stuff that mostly worked and made me laugh, like all of the office scenarios and incidents, they try to go with this semi-crime caper of a movie that doesn’t really keep you interested or laughing. However, you got to give a lot of love to Judge for actually pulling something off like this and being one of the first people to do it too.
Ron Livingston lives it up here as Peter and basically gives this guy the cool, laid-back persona where you know that if you were to see this guy on the street, you would give him a huge high-five just for being so cool; Gary Cole is pretty much awesome as everybody’s worst nightmare of a boss, Lumbergh; David Herman is funny as hell as Michael Bolton, no not that one but trust me, they do bring it up enough times here; Jennifer Aniston is great in a very young role from her as Peter’s lovey-dovey girlfriend, Joanna; and how could I ever forget the hilarious Stephen Root as Milton, aka a dude who should have been and should still be the spokesperson for Swingline staplers because honestly, imagine how much business that would do for them. It’s great to see a cast with a bunch of unknowns that can all do awesome in their own roles, but now they pretty much can’t escape the roles they all play here, with the exception of Aniston of course. May not be the worst thing in the world really, but then again, it would get old real quick if people were just coming up to you saying “Aren’t you that dude from Office Space?”.
Consensus: Office Space may not have the best plot out there, but it still a comedy that works mainly because of its satire of middle-class, blue-collar America with hilarious one-liners, and pitch-perfect observations from the master, Mike Judge. Definitely gets better if you have ever worked a job in your life too.
See, wrestlers are just like you and I, except with more muscles and brain damage.
It’s supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be real. Join Mick Foley, Terry Funk, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts for a no-holds barred look into the wild world of the professional wresting, with all of its secrets and truths uncovered.
I used to be a huge wrestling fan back in 2003 till around 2008. I swore that I would never stop watching it and always be a die-hard fan. However, things started to change for me when I got into high school and I realized there were cooler things out there like girls, beer, partying, and well, movies. Occasionally I’ll check it out here and there but it’s nothing too serious like the old days. Thankfully, this documentary reminded me just why I loved it so much in the first place.
Director Barry W. Blaustein definitely shows that he has an appreciation for wrestling and gives us a great glimpse behind what really goes down in the ring. I like how Blaustein gets up close and personal with what we see in the ring and how all of that is performed, written, and talked about in the first place. People that ever mention that “wrestling is fake” will definitely see this flick and think a little differently because it shows that yes, all of the matches are predicted before-hand, but all of the shots, slams, choke holds, etc., are all somewhat real and have pain to it. You see plenty of this when these guys come out of the ring to get stitched up and you realize that those are real flesh wounds, that actually do hurt.
I also liked how Blaustein was able to capture all of this footage, going from all of these different wrestlers and promotions. We see the big and bad WWF (which is basically WWE, for all you jabronis out there), which is practically ran like a business with Vince McMahon at the helm, telling people how he wants his shit done and everybody practically looking at him like a dick and crazy S.O.B. Then we go to a smaller, independent company named APW where the owner, Roland Alexander, is basically scamming all of these smaller-time wrestlers out of their money, in hopes of one day being a big-time WWF superstar. But it’s not over because then we go to a company that’s right in the middle, which will always be one of my favorites: ECW. We get to see how ECW is practically an insane wrestling promotion where just about anything and everything happens and where everybody treats each other like family, much ado to owner, Paul Heyman. It’s three great glimpses into the three main layers of professional wrestling and even though I wish they went a checked out WCW, I still have to give Blaustein some credit for actually getting in there, and showing us just how it all works differently depending where you are.
My problem I had with this documentary was that even though Blaustein said he was very much in love with wrestling, he did a pretty good job of showing just how effed up it can be. One of the more disturbing moments in the film is when they show Mick Foley, aka Mankind, getting hit over and over the head with a chair by The Rock right in front of his family, who are all practically balling their eyes out thinking that he’s dying in there. It’s a shocking scene but very disturbing in showing how certain loved ones look at all the pain and aggression that comes with pro wrestling and it seemed like something that would show the horrors rather than the positives.
Another example of how negative this film was towards the wrestling business was when we focus on a dude I vaguely remember named Droz. We follow Droz for a good 5 minutes as we see him meet and greet with Vince McMahon, get to know a little bit about what he’s going to do there, like be named “Puke”, and then get asked to barf into a trash can just for proof. This seemed not only very strange, but also something that could seem a little bit negative with how it shows Vince as being a demeaning ass in telling this one dude that he’s going to be named “Puke”. Both of these scenes seemed strange considering how much Blaustein had for the wrestling business because it definitely does it more harm than good.
The three subjects that Blaustein chose to focus this documentary on, were pretty good choices considering each one had interesting stories behind them. We follow Terry Funk as his family continues to beg him about retiring from the ring, when all he wants to do is give the fans one more match. Funk is a very respected wrestler and this flick shows him as a naturally likable dude that just loves wrestling and loves his fans. Nothing wrong with that my man. As I’ve mentioned before, the film also follows Mick Foley as we get to see more behind him than we usually see on TV and the guy is so awesome. He’s nice, smart, charming, likable, and a very dedicated father that would do anything to make his family happy. Big problem is, he just can’t say “no” to wrestling.
The biggest subject that this film follows is Jake “the Snake” Roberts, who seems like a very smart dude but deep down inside, has some very effed up problems. We see this guy talk all about his relationship with his estranged father, who actually raped his mother when she was 13, we see him talk about some jumbo mumbo shit while he’s high on crack, and we also see him try his damn near hardest to reconnect with his estranged daughter. It’s one of the sadder moments of the flick but also seemed very wrong when it came to showing Jake in such a negative light. Yeah, I know the guy is a huge fuck up but compared to the other two subjects here, the guy practically seems like the mentally challenged brother.
Consensus: Beyond the Mat is a relatively insightful and sometimes, provocative behind-the-scenes look as to what really goes on before and after the bell rings, but also seems very mean to its subject, even though the director himself states that he truly loves it.
‘The Truman Show’ chronicles the life of a man named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) who is initially unaware that he is living in a constructed reality television show, broadcast around the clock to billions of people across the globe. Truman becomes suspicious of his perceived reality and embarks on a quest to discover the truth about his life.
In today’s day and age where everybody is constantly on Twitter tweeting about what they had for din-din, on Facebook posting pictures of them and their bong sesh the night before, or on YouTube uploading videos on themselves singing R&B songs by Mariah Carey, it’s easy to see why you would sometimes feel like you’re life is all one big TV show. However, life isn’t that cool and unique after all.
High Concept movies are usually hit-and-miss and rarely ever do they hit as well as the concept here. Writer Andrew Niccol takes gives everything he can into this concept where Truman in his own little world, and where everything is one big show, one big block of advertising, and most of all, one big piece of reality TV. There’s obviously a lot of satire to be had here where Niccol brings up the point about how our nation, is a nation that is consumed by watching other people’s live and needing to know everything that goes on in his/her private lives. It’s definitely a theme that gets better and better as the years go on by considering we have so many things in today’s world that take more and more away from our privacy. But it’s not all about the obvious satire, and that’s where the real beauty of this film lies.
Director Peter Weir did a perfect job here as a director because he immerses us into this world where Truman lives. We see everything that goes on in his “fake” world, then to the people who make this world for him, and then to what’s going on behind closed doors and how they are all filming everything the way they are. It definitely seems like a concept that would be a little too far-fetched but somehow Weir was able to pack all of these things in here that gets you more and more involved with this story as if you are, hey, watching a life play out in front of your own eyes. That’s right people, I’m talking about something that sounds exactly reality TV. Oh em gee! As you see Truman start to peel away the layers of his life to realize that something eerie is going on, you start to root for him and can only hope that he eventually does find out that it’s all one big show, and that he was the main star. This plot may have never been able to work, had it taken place in real life, but the way he realizes everything, hint by hint, not only makes the film seem plausible but feel like it’s actually happening right then and there.
It’s a real surprise how a plot like this actually came together so damn well in the end, but I guess when you put two heads like Niccol and Weir together, miracles can happen.
My only problem with this flick was that I sort of felt like the ending was a bit too abrupt. All of this build-up is leading and leading up to the finale of where Truman finally finds out about the world outside of his own, but even when it does happen, it’s sort of a let-down. Actually, I don’t want to say that it’s a let-down because I think it was actually handled very well in fact, it was just that it all happens so quick and I would have liked to see more of what actually happened after the ending went down. I know I sound very vague but that’s because, believe it or not, I don’t really want to give too much away here.
Ever since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind came out, people really started to take notice that Jim Carrey could play a more serious role than we usually see, but this was the real film that let us know that this guy had more than just a bunch of goofy faces. Carrey is amazing as Burbank because he makes this character so damn likable and believable that it’s easy to see why someone would want to center a TV show around him in the first place. In front of everybody, he’s hamming it up to the neighbors and going through the same routines day-in and day-out, but behind the closed doors, he continues to lose his shit as he realizes that something is a little too freaky underneath it all and you really do want him to find out everything at once and just get the hell out of there. Carrey totally throws himself into this role showing a lot of dramatic range as an actor, but also showing the things that make him funny in the first place as a comedian and giving us a new look at someone that we thought would end up being his own biggest fan.
Even though I’m not as fond of her as everybody else seems to be, Laura Linney is pretty good as Truman’s wife and it makes me wonder just how much money would a lady take if they had to act like Carrey’s wife and sometimes, get it on with him? Yeesh. Ed Harris is also good as the show’s director, Christof, and gives off this God-like nature to him that makes it seem like he was the one who actually gave life to Truman after all. Also, be on the look out for a nice little side spot from Paul Giamatti. Damn, this guy was everywhere back in the 90′s!
Consensus: The Truman Show works as well today, as it did way back when in 1998 with it’s very realistic satire but also works because of an amazingly original premise that seems to get better and better as more and more is revealed, and also features some great performances from the cast, especially a very good and very different Jim Carrey.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you love this damn film.
The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.
Let me just say this, if you have not seen this film, stop reading and get out there to your local video store/Redbox/Netflix account/illegal movie download website and check this ditty out. Honestly, everybody loves it. Of course when people say that about anything, it usually means that it’s just their opinions and that about 2 people they know agree with them so they feel like hot shit but that’s not the case here at all. You could ask anyone their thoughts on this and I’ll bet they’ll all tell you the same thing: perfection.
The craziest thing about this flick is how this was writer/director Frank Darabont‘s first movie he ever made. That’s right people…..FIRST MOVIE HE EVER MADE! Darabont really deserves all the credit for this story and for this flick because he found a way to match all of Stephen King’s writing in such a perfect way that it made every line of dialogue, feel like a piece of art itself. When the film wants to be funny, it’s funny; when the film wants to be emotional, it’s emotional without ever being hokey; and whenever the film wants to find its own little sly ways of getting us more and more involved with this story, it does and never stops the whole time. All of the dialogue, if placed in a lesser hand, could have been written off as corny but Darabont and King work wonders together, and it’s no surprise that Darabont went after another King adaptation about 5 years later with The Green Mile. Oh yeah, and he’s the guy who also adapted The Walking Dead so that definitely earns some brownie points in my book.
I think what really makes me truly love this film the way that I do is that I have seen it about 5 times and not once does it ever get old. That’s the true sign of a good movie. Since you know everything that goes down in the end, you get the chance to look at everything once again and see all of the little hints and clues that this film throws at you, without you ever really knowing in the first place. It’s really cool how Darabont was able to throw these little things in there to have it all make sense in the end but still allows you to get something new out of the movie each and every time you watch it. The film is all about the human spirit and how we can all be free no matter where it is that we are at in our lives. These prisoners feel trapped but it’s all about how they can all break free from these walls without ever having to take a step over them. It’s a message that we have all seen done and talked about before, but for some reason, this film does it the best and really makes you want to just get out there and live like a free person anywhere you go.
At the center of this whole film though is the performances of everybody involved, especially those ones of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. These guys were already big names before this film came out but I think it’s definitely the best performances of their careers by far, and if you have ever seen any of their other work you know that this is a very bold statement to make in the first place. Robbins is very mysterious and strange as Andy, but he’s also a very likable character that makes it easy to see why all of these guys take such a liking to him in the first place. We also see Andy as a free soul that wants to do anything in his power to do right for everyone around him and gets even better and better once you start to see just how smarter he is than he lets on. It’s such a shame that he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar here because he really brings a whole lot to Andy. Morgan Freeman is also the perfect choice as Red. Red is our narrator for the whole movie and shows us a look at everything that’s going on with Andy from the outside-in and it just works because you feel a huge deal of warmth and comfort from this character that it really shows as one of Freeman’s signatures when it comes to him playing in any role. I heard that Darabont chose Freeman over such legends like Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford, and to be honest, I couldn’t see any of them playing the part as perfectly as Freeman does here.
What made this film work the way it does on me is the friendship these two create together. Red sees something in Andy that he never expected in the first place and from then on, we see two people who are both struggling for freedom in a place where all hope is lost, gain some sort of hope together. What I’m describing right now may sound a bit too much like a mixture between Brokeback Mountain and Cool Hand Luke, but it’s honestly the best aspect of this whole movie because you see this friendship blossom over time and you see how they each look out for one another in every single situation they have. By the end, everything they have together starts to come in full circle and that’s where I actually started to tear up a bit because this is where the film’s message comes around and it’s also where you notice that these two guys were meant to best buds and live free after all.
Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is just one of those perfect movies that seems to have it all: great writing, great direction, amazing performances, a message that is meant to inspire anybody who watches this, and so much more to it. Basically if you are reading the end of this review and have still not checked this one out, then get off your butts and do so. I promise you will not be let-down in the least bit.
10/10=Love and Cherish Forever!!
Maybe having so much money and being so snobby isn’t that bad after all.
Proletarian Fourierist Tom (Edward Clements) is immersed by chance in Manhattan’s upper-crust deb world. At first, he is against all of these late-night parties but soon starts to enjoy them as well as the people the surround him.
Writer/director Whit Stillman is a dude that I always hear about, but never actually get myself to see. I thought of him as more of a “Woody Allen, if Woody made teen movies”. Now I kind of feel like a dick for saying that in the first place.
What I liked most about Stillman’s script was just how damn entertaining it was to hear these people speak and talk about certain subjects I had no idea about. Subjects like Jane Austen, Luis Buñuel, public transportation, and the work that they do in school are all foreign subjects to me that have no meaning but the way Stillman puts in his own dry wit and sarcasm makes it all the more entertaining. That’s why I have to say that this is a very funny flick that doesn’t rely on some big punch-line to get you laughing. You have to pretty much listen in to what these people are talking about to eventually get the joke at hand. Sounds a little too complicated for a comedy about a bunch of rich people, hanging around, getting drunk, and spittin’ out their knowledge of suits, but it’s still something to listen to and I can totally see why this script got nominated for an Oscar after all.
Most of the comedy from this film comes from the way we see these rich yuppies hang around, and how pompous they can be but Stillman surprisingly takes a sympathetic look at them. Of course Stillman shows us that these people can be assholes who think they’re better than everybody because their daddies make more money in an hour than you do in a year, but it’s more about how these kids, no matter how rich, are just like us in many ways. There are plenty of scenes where these kids are drinkin’ and shootin’ the shit on God knows what, but there are also plenty of other scenes where these kids actually do things that normal teenagers would do such as playing strip poker, burning a piece of toilet paper with a lit cigarette for a dime to fall in, and telling fake and phony stories about another person just to ruin his/her reputation. Let’s not also forget to mention that these kids have a lot of wonders in their lives that they don’t have the answers for just yet and it’s that real insightful speak that Stillman gives us that is meaningful.
These kids may be rich, dress fancy, and get any kind of car they want come their birthday, but they also have dreams, questions about the world, and to still have the need to want to have a good old time, even if that does mean arguing about French socialism a lot more. This may not make you look at these yuppies types any differently than half of you reading this do now, but Stillman’s script still makes you realize that these teenagers are just like you and me, with heftier wallets.
My problem with this flick was that since the film was so low-budget, there will a couple of problems when it came to editing. Certain scenes seem to run on too long and give it this awkward silence and then the scene suddenly ends out of nowhere. It’s really strange and it happens a couple of times and almost made me laugh a couple of times unintentionally. I think some of that also has to go along with the fact that some of these actors aren’t that good and they seem to over-sell a lot of what they’re trying to say. Sounds like a weird complaint but I still can’t get past the fact that maybe Stillman had to check out the final product a bit more.
I think the main reason why his script worked so well too, was because he had a good, young cast to deliver it. Edward Clements is very good in the central role as Tom, and creates a sincere and very real character that is the perfect dude for us to see connect with this group because with anybody else, it would have surely been a bit more stranger. Carolyn Farina plays melancholy, shy type as Audrey, and gives a very cute performance that feels like a real girl who just wants to be liked by somebody even if she can never find that one special dude. The one performance that really had me laughing though was the one given by Christopher Eigeman, who plays the totally snarky and cocky Nick. Eigeman is great in this role because he has a lot of funny moments that are just dedicated to him being an ass. At first, he’s terribly unlikable but he ends up being the most memorable and likable character of the whole bunch when it’s all said and done. Like everybody else in this flick, I wonder where they have all went because I don’t notice these faces and it’s a surprise that this flick didn’t put them all on the map.
Consensus: Metropolitan pokes some fun at the rich and pompous yuppies we usually see in these kinds of social satires, but Whit Stillman is more about showing these characters as your normal, everyday teen that may have more money, but still thinks the same as your or I. Also, his script is great and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination that it got.
Finally Samuel L. has just had it with all of these white people effin’ him over.
Police choppers circle as swat marksmen target Danny Roman (Samuel L Jackson). he is holding the chief of the Internal Affairs Department at gunpoint. Roman’s world has been destroyed by false charges of murder and embezzlement. Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey), a negotiator from another precinct is brought in to mediate.
What we have here is a pretty generic, B-movie that wouldn’t want to be watched by anybody if it didn’t have the two stars it has in the lead roles. To be honest though, I can’t say that it’s a bad thing either.
Director F. Gary Gray does a pretty good job at keeping this flick moving with a nice essence of suspense and tension through the air. It reminded me a lot of a mixture between Man on a Ledge and Dog Day Afternoon, where I had no idea what was going to happen next with this negotiator and these hostages as well. Gray is good at keeping the action moving but it’s not just about big explosions, car chases, and guns going off in this flick, it’s more about the game of wits between the two negotiators. Since they are both professional negotiators, they both know all the tricks of the trade when it comes to talking a person out of doing something and it’s very interesting to see considering we never really see the tables turned around like this in a generic movie such as this one.
However, all of those games suddenly get lost by the half-way mark and then the script starts to lose itself a bit. Rather than being a flick about two professionals basically out-playing the other one, it ends up being another “whodunit” that we always see and in this case it’s nothing or exciting. It’s not hard to see where this film is going right from the start but it was such a disappointment considering I was having so much fun with these two dudes on-screen, but instead, Gray had to bring in the big-bangs and the boom-booms so I sort of have to blame him as well.
What also bothered me about this flick was that this script got really thin, really quick. I felt a lot for Danny, our main character, because the guy totally got effed over and how could you not want to cheer someone on when they’re up against a bunch of dirty cops? But the problem I had here was that he was the only character that was really fleshed out, and everybody else was just a bunch of corny types that we see in movies like this all time. The cops here are the usual “get the job done, at any cost” types, the hostages are the “we’re scared, but can also help you with this hostage situation you’re pulling off” type, and even the other negotiator himself is a type too. So many people here are types and even though I’m not always disappointed in every film that I see that shows characters as two-dimensional, here it bothered me because it seemed like they were starting off so well.
When it comes to two actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey though, you can’t go wrong. Samuel L. is awesome here as Danny and creates a likable and believable character that really could g0 to the ends of the earth to prove that he’s innocent after all this time. Jackson has a couple of scenes where he just lets loose on his anger, especially one where he messes with another negotiator who just doesn’t know what to do and it’s funny, but also very tense the whole way through which reminded me a lot of his “What” scene in Pulp Fiction. Spacey is also very good with his toneless readings here as Chris and gives him a certain edge that makes him a lot cooler than any of the other cops in this flick. Still though, I think that with Spacey you need to have more dimensions to him because his voice is so monotone and sinister, that he can give any likable character a darker edge to them as well. Then again, they didn’t go down this road and Spacey still did fine with it so I can’t complain that much.
Consensus: The Negotiator has tension and suspense to it, and also features strong performances from reliable leads like Jackson and Spacey, but it starts to lose itself about half-way through and gets more and more predictable until we end at a conclusion we thought we were going to have all along.
Black, white, orange, yellow, red, green, etc., their all the same thing.
Geeky teenager David (Tobey Maguire) and his popular twin sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon), get sucked into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV sitcom called “Pleasantville,” and find a world where everything is peachy keen all the time. But when Jennifer’s modern attitude disrupts Pleasantville’s peaceful but boring routine, she literally brings color into its life.
It’s hard to believe this but with The Hunger Games and Seabiscuit, I have now seen all of Gary Ross‘ films. Now I know that’s not saying much but with the three films he’s made, he’s very impressive and I hope he goes on and on to do more.
When I first was about to watch this film, I was expecting a nice satire on 1950s culture from the fashion to the TV and that’s what I got with plenty of laughs. The screenplay is very funny and there are plenty moments where I think Ross hit the nail right on the head with how he shows just all of the “too good to be true” moments and cliches that we usually see in old school television shows from the 50′s. I mean you got the temperature that always stays the same, the fact that these kids think they are so bad and dirty when they just hold each other’s hand, how every single kid on the b-ball team absolutely rocks and makes every single one of their shots, and just about everything else that made me laugh at just how much Ross makes jokes about. We all know that episodes of “I Love Lucy” are cheesy as hell now but back then, they seemed so cool and hip and it’s always fun to poke jokes at that especially since Ross isn’t doing it in a mean way either.
However, as much of a satire as it is, there is still more to this film than meets the eye. The whole film is one big insightful speech about how we should all stick up for ourselves and that things shouldn’t be as narrow-minded as they once were back in those days. If people didn’t like something back then, they just stuck by it because there was nothing else to do but honestly, who is that helping? You have to stick up for yourself and sometimes it’s not so wrong to change things up a bit rather than just doing the same old crap day after day. Ross brings a lot of this up and it’s also great to see how he is able to show contrasts between the 50′s and 90′s just through this one general theme.
What really struck me right away though was the way it looked. Ross uses black-and-white for the majority of the film but as the town starts to change, so do the colors. At first, we get little glimpses of red, or yellow, or pea green, but then the colors really start to pop-out at us and it mixes in well with the original black-and-white look it had in the first place. It’s pretty impressive how Ross was able to mesh these two art styles together but it’s also even more impressive how he made things such as a tree on fire, or a leaf falling, or even rain pouring down from the sky seem so much more beautiful than they actually. Well, that is Hollywood’s job to do (make simple things in everyday life seem so much more beautiful) but its add so much more to the film’s look and the story itself considering everything here is caused from the colors changing. It’s a very beautiful film and one that will probably make me look at everyday occurrences a lot differently now.
My problems with this flick though was that by the end, everything get’s a little too obvious. We know that this flick is making a statement about the 50′s lifestyle and how people just repressed their negative emotions towards their everyday life but Ross is aiming other places too. Ross draws a lot of comparisons to racism at that time as well and shows how the town doesn’t want anything to do with people who have color at all, and they even go so far as to call them all “coloreds”. It’s pretty obvious that Ross is trying to draw some ideas from this as well but it’s too in-your-face and can get very annoying at times. May seem like a dumb complaint but by the end, you’ll start to notice some preaching.
Tobey Maguire isn’t really playing anything new from his usual “lovable but geeky dude” role he plays but his performance as David is good because he’s able to seem like a real teenager that finally gets a chance to change a world that he though he never could be apart of in the first place; Joan Allen is also great as his TV mommy, that finds out about sex and then her whole life is changed which provides some of the better scenes of this film; Jeff Daniels is goofy but charming as the strange dude who works at the restaurant, Mr. Johnson, but when isn’t he playing anybody strange?; William H. Macy is good as David’s TV daddy and provides plenty of funny scenes when he tries his hardest to cope with the fact that his wife just won’t be around all that much after this sexual awakening in her; J.T. Walsh is good as the mayor, Bob Bob, playing his usual villainous character that we always see him in; and Reese Witherspoon isn’t in this as much as I would have liked even though she started this whole change in colors fiasco in the first place, but she’s still pretty good with what she does. It seems like with all of his films, Ross is able to assemble a great ensemble cast and give them all shots to strut their stuff, even if that person does include Paul Walker who probably gave his best performance ever here. You better be thankful for Gary, Paul.
Consensus: Some of it starts to get preachy by the end, but Gary Ross keeps Pleasantville just exactly that, pleasant, with great performances from the ensemble, funny satire, and themes about how we should all stick up for each other and change things up every once and awhile because going on in life so narr0w-minded, isn’t doing yourself or anyone else any good. Or at least that’s what I got from it.