Mormons ruin everything! Except for Ryan Gosling. He is incapable of ruining anything.
The tale of Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney is a very strange one. She started out a simple, sweet girl who grew up on a farm, fell in love with her boy-toy in high school, then found him in England, kidnapped him, and forced him to have sex with her until he eventually got used to it all. Sound strange at all, yet? Well, what’s even stranger is how the UK press had a field-day with this and went crazy with this, well, crazy woman, making her a star and adding more head-space to her ego as it is. However, Joyce McKinney is not done with her 15 minutes of fame and comes back to the spotlight in some strange, unexpected ways.
If you’ve never, ever heard of Joyce McKinney, don’t worry, because by the end of this flick you will have all but enough of her. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, it’s just something you are going to be a witness to since this whole documentary isn’t just about the crazy shit she did for love with a Mormon named Kirk Anderson, but it’s about her as a person. Whether or not she’s crazy, is totally up to you, even though this movie and the events that occurred to her life after the movie was made, may have you make up your mind.
Errol Morris is one of the greatest documentarians of our time, so when he makes a movie about whatever the hell fascinates him, most likely, it’s going to fascinate the hell out of you as well. What once begins as a simple tale of a girl who falls in love with a dude, does whatever she can to keep that love, and how she gets in trouble for doing so, soon becomes more and more complicated as it’s more about this chick and how the British press went insane with her story. I don’t want to give away anything that might spark up some debates about spoilers, but what you are going to see with this movie and story is very odd and very surreal, but unlike Catfish and I’m Not There where it simply plays with the toys and mechanics of your mind as well as a documentary; it’s all real. A little too real, some may say, but it’s the facts of life that make it well worth living. Even if nuts like Joyce McKinney do roam about it.
However, what I say about McKinney is useless, because Morris never seems to ever be frowning-upon, or even judging her. He just lets her tell her story in a straight-forward way, with no frills or strings attached. Now, of course there is the idea that some of the shit she says may be a bit too cuckoo for Coco Puffs, but it’s just who she is. In a way, you learn to accept her story for what it is, and you learn to accept her as hard as it may be. But after awhile, you do start to feel sympathy for her story, what it is that she’s talking about, and just where the hell she has gone with her life. Sure, she may be a tad bit nutso, but at least she’s entertaining to watch and listen to, whether she’s talking about kissing Keith Moon or dressing-up as a nun to escape the press. Whatever the topic of choice may be, this chick loves talking about and holds a certain type of energy to it that’s almost contagious.
Hell, not almost, it is!
That’s what makes this documentary actually a fun one to watch, that isn’t heavy, doesn’t make you contemplate where the world has gone to these days, and doesn’t leave you with a dour-attitude towards life. It’s a bit weird, a bit of fun, a bit manic, and a bit happy, and coming from Morris (aka, the dude who’s known for getting a wrongfully-convicted man out of jail, mind you); it’s a nice surprise. Morris tackles the ideas of what it takes to be a celebrity, or somebody that is indeed considered “news-worthy”, but it doesn’t go any further than that. Can’t say I’m too disappointed with that fact, but at the same time, can’t say that it doesn’t show either.
There comes a point in this flick, once all is said and done, the wackiness is gone, and Joyce herself has all cooled down a bit, that the flick seems to sort of lose some steam and in a way, not know where the hell to go with itself. Morris seemed to get a little frantic at this stage of the movie because where he had, at once, had a whole story about a random chick who all of a sudden got big for kidnapping some dude, all of a sudden found itself at barely anything where nobody seemed to care about her, and nothing special was really happening in her life. And I’m not saying that her life isn’t special at all, but it’s that at a point, her life seems to lose the interest-factor that seemed to have been working for the movie so darn well the hour beforehand. I don’t know if Joyce McKinney’s story was all that worth a full, hour-and-twenty-minute documentary, but I do know that Morris finds himself in a bit of a sticky-situation where he’s so pleased and ecstatic about this material, but it begins to loosen-up after awhile.
That said, you can definitely see this movie to understand what a documentary can do if it takes something real, but also bizarre, and make it into a movie that plays out almost better than any fictional, Hollywood-produced movie. All flaws of the movie’s last half-hour or so, Morris obviously shows the love and joy he has with what a human-life can be all about, and isn’t afraid to show it for all of it’s craziness or originality. I can definitely say that Joyce McKinney is an original in the way that she took her fame, went with it, ended it, and then came back to it out of nowhere (in the strangest way, as well). Best aspect of it all too, is that it’s all REAL. Don’t get to see too much of that nowadays, now do you?
Consensus: Tabloid is nowhere near being Errol Morris’ best documentary, but there is still the unabashed feeling for fun, energy, weirdness, and originality that is present with this story, as well as the man’s direction of how he presents it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Henry and Dean Whipple (Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron) are a father-son duo that are trying to get along, while they are also trying to buy as much farm-land as possible. Henry is all about his job, making money, being with his wife (Kim Dickens), and also being able to lay-around with his gal on the side (Heather Graham). As for Dean: he’s all about racing, causing havoc, being with his gal-pal (Maika Monroe), and having the dream that he will one day become the next big, NASCAR racer. The two don’t get along and can’t really see eye-to-eye on what their lives have turned out to be, but once Henry runs into the possibility of losing the one thing he loves the most (his farm-land), the two come together in surprising ways. Sort of.
The movie’s title, At Any Price, may seem like the dullest in the world. It’s almost as if the creators had a finished-product, but didn’t know how to sell it to the big crowds, so they just decided something that seemed inspirational would work and get people interested. Not for me, which is why I was not expecting anything at all worth while from this flick and for the first hour or so: that’s exactly what I got. Then, something happens in the middle of it all, that not only changes your view on the movie as a whole, but also has the title make more sense than ever. Can’t say what it is, but it will hit you like a ton of bricks, as it did to me. Trust me.
Maybe I’m out-of-the-loop or something, but I’ve never seen director Ramin Bahrani at work. I hear great things about his movies, but just have never given any of them a chance for the sole reason that none of them have ever seemed to really interest me. However, that’s just me and as I can see from his past movies ratings on Rotten Tomatoes: the dude’s got a lovely-following. But as the movie began and the ground-work for the story was being laid; I had no idea why.
It’s not that the dude’s a dull director, actually: it’s the opposite. Bahrani finds a way to paint a portrait of this small town in Iowa that feels and looks as if it should be the little slice of Americanism that you can only get with these types of places, and that’s exactly what it seems like after awhile. He finds beauty in the most simple things, such as a father tending to the rows and rows of corn, or a mother fetching potatoes out from underneath the soil. It’s all there and it all makes you feel at home, but there’s more stuff going on here than meets the eye, and that’s the whole problem right there.
Bahrani takes the over-stuffing of useless characters and subplots, as a way of portraying conflicts among the central characters. Instead of having the character of Henry Whipple just be a guy that’s struggling maintaining a loving-relationship with his son; he’s got to be banging some chick on the side, or his one son (the favorite) didn’t come home when he was supposed to and is out, climbing up the mountains in Argentina, causing even more anger and pain for the man on the inside. But Henry isn’t the only one: Dean goes through the same motions too. Not only does Dean seem to be having daddy-issues; but he also is having problems with his racing-career, being a loyal boyfriend, and is leading a life of crime and hate.
Sounds like too much already for a hour and 45 minute movie? Well, that’s because it is.
If Bahrani left these two central-characters alone, have them face one dilemma each, and leave that be it; then everything would have been fine, dandy, and easier to take in. However, that’s not what Bahrani does and instead, adds more and more context to this story that doesn’t feel needed. Yes, some of it does round-out these characters to make them feel and seem more humane in the way they go about their days together and separated, but it also feels like unneeded melodrama that we could easily deal with if we came home from school and turned on the Lifetime channel. Also, not to mention the fact that the movie goes down some crazy-routes that not only will make you scoff, but just might have you wonder what the hell it is that you’re watching.
But it should be noted, once again, that the one crazy-route that they decide to go down is something I was not expecting in the least-bit, did not know what to make of it at first, and after awhile of thinking and contemplating what it meant to the whole story in a nutshell, I came to the conclusion that it made sense and made the movie a whole lot better as a whole. I’m so damn tempted to go down that dick-headed road and say what it is, but I just can’t. What this final-twist in the story brings to the front, is not just character’s relationships and what each one means to the other, but how they are in everything and anything together.
After all of the strange shit that Bahrani throws at us, he ends on a pretty heartwarming note that touches any person who’s ever been there for a family-member. Whether you noticed that your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, dog, cat, etc. is going through obvious problems or not; you’ve always been there for them when they needed a helping-hand the most. That’s the idea that this movie touches on and despite taking some odd side-streets to get to it’s destination; it still works. Not in the longest-time has there been a flick that I’ve seen, but relatively bored and unsurprised by it, and kick me in the ass, slap me in the face, and open my eyes out of nowhere and change my final-thoughts on the whole-product; what it meant and what message the director was trying to get across. Seriously, once the final-twist comes up: you are going to either run with it and continue to think about it, or throw it in the garbage, and forget about the rubbish you just witnessed. It’s your call. Mine was the former.
Probably the best and most memorable aspect of this whole movie, without a doubt is the fact that after all of these years of showing up in random, bloated CGI-fests like this one, or that one: Dennis Quaid finally gets a role that’s worth his time and effort. Quaid has been one of these actors (refuse to call him a “character actor”), that shows up for work, does what he has to do, and goes on with his day. Nothing more, nothing less. He barely leaves an impression on the viewer, but lets us know that he’s there, if it’s only soeley to collect a paycheck.
All of that better change now, especially after a performance like this as Henry Whipple.
What’s so great about Quaid here is that the dude never seems like he’s phoning it in. Henry Whipple, on-paper, doesn’t seem like a very-complicated character as he’s just a dude trying his hardest to make his son, his wife, and his wallet happy, and leaving it like that. However, Quaid finds a way to make this guy as complicated as ever, which was a total sight to see because with every new scene you get with Quaid on-screen, is another new scene where you find out more about Henry, and his character. You always feel for this guy whenever he’s doing something; whether it be trying to win the heart of his son back again by showing up to his racing matches, or trying to buy-off somebody’s land during a funeral. No matter what the situation may be that the dude finds himself in, you always feel for the dude and has you on-board with his character throughout the whole movie, even when he is fucking up. And trust me: he does. Quaid is amazing and I hope this gets him more and more quality roles in the future, as the dude deserves it. Screw, Meg Ryan! Team Quaid!
That’s not to say the others in this cast aren’t worth talking about, because they all do fine with their lettuce and carrots. It’s just that Quaid is the one with the real meat. Zac Efron is fine as Dean, the troubled-son who doesn’t want to take over the daddy’s business and wants to be a rebel by racing. Efron is fine in the role as he shows off his guns, his good-looks, and his attitude, but the character is thinly-written and feels like he’s trying to go for the same feel of a young-Brando or Dean. Doesn’t quite hit the same marks, but is good with what he’s called on to do.
Playing his mommy is Kim Dickens who knows what’s going down with these two when they are busy at work, and are out in their free-time, but she keeps it all to herself and is good at it. She’s very subtle, but still dramatic to make enough of a difference in the grander-scheme of things. Heather Graham is wasted here as the whore of the town, Meredith, as it seems like she can’t be a normal person without a dick in her or some form of her clothing taken-off. Lastly, to round of the troupe of women we have on display here is Maika Monroe as Dean’s girlfriend who not only likes him for what he is, but also likes his father because of the determined business man he shows to her, as well as everybody else around him. Monroe is a welcome newcomer because she feels like a young gal that’s confused and unknowing about what she wants to do with her life, but still full of love and life. Hopefully, just like with Quaid, this means we get to see more of her in the near-future.
Consensus: At Any Price is a strange movie, but not for the sake of it’s tone or direction. It’s one of those movies that starts off so dull, continues on with same feeling/pace, but ends up taking you by storm with a final-act surprise, giving us a wider-glimpse of these characters, who they are, and what they mean to one another.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Khan or not, it’s still STAR TREK!!! So, shut up!!
The crew of the Enterprise is back! But this time, they are under the guidance of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Whether or not that’s a good thing, people believe in him and will go about his every word. However, his leadership is put to the test when the Fleet is wiped out by a mysterious enemy (Benedict Cumberbatch). Kirk and his crew don’t back down and instead, lead a manhunt to capture “a one man weapon of mass destruction”.
4 years ago, J.J. Abrams did something that no person in their right mind thought was possible: he made Star Trek cool. Yep, that’s exactly right: the dude who brought us Felicity, brought us the most-accessible, and by far, most entertaining Star Trek movie of the whole franchise. I know I may be making some mortal-enemies with that last statement there, but let the record state that I am not a big Trekkie, have watched the show on numerous occasions and have seen about three or four films (at least what I can recall anyway). So yeah, I’m not the biggest Trekkie out there in the world, so yeah, maybe my opinion doesn’t matter in terms of what’s the best and what isn’t of the whole franchise, but do you know who’s opinion does matter? The regular, movie-going audience that got hooked with the last one, and can’t wait to see what this one has got going on, that’s who!
And I think it’s quite safe to say that they are going to have a great time with the latest check-up. Or, at least I hope, because I sure as hell know I did.
The odd aspect behind this whole movie it’s that Abrams doesn’t go balls-to-the-walls with changing anything up here. Instead, we get sort of the same formula for the first one, except a bit of a darker tone. However, I don’t want to really say it’s darker just because the stakes of human-life are a bit higher, but I definitely want to say it’s more “emotional” than the first one, which was more happy-go-lucky in the way that it didn’t want to bother people too much. Basically, this movie is just like the first, but do not take that as insult whatsoever, because I loved that about this movie.
Abrams knows the type of movie he wants to make, and he knows that he’s got to have a little bit of everything for everyone. Yes, even those damn Trekkies get their shout-outs every once and awhile too, and it’s not just the obvious ones neither. There’s a shit-ton of action, some romance, a lot of humor, some sexiness, some drama, and a bunch of scenes that actually may scare you, just by how unexpected they are. But no matter where Abrams takes this movie, it always remains fun in the type of way that you almost feel like you can’t keep up with this movie. It’s sort of like when you’re running, and your friends show up next to you in their hot-ass ride and challenge you to a playful, but somewhat-serious running vs. driving race, and you continue to run your heart out, even though you know at the bottom of your slowly-dying heart you don’t have what it takes to beat the car, let alone even come close to catching up with it. You know what I mean? Kind of? Well, that’s what this flick reminded me of: running-up against my friend’s hot-ass ride.
Don’t get me wrong, neither, because that is nowhere near being a bad thing, especially during the beginning of what seems to be an already-promising Summer. Abrams always gives us something new to view, whether it be some beautiful visuals or something popping-out us in 3D, it doesn’t matter, because it’s always thrilling. In some cases, you could almost say that this movie has too much action, but to that, I’d probably say, “ehh.” The reason I’d say that is because you wouldn’t be wrong with that statement whatsoever, however, I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind their action done when it’s always electric, entertaining, tense, and can keep me as glued to the screen as I was here.
Seriously, even though I know everything’s going to be cool with each and every one of these characters, and whether or not they’re fates will be decided in a gloomy-way by the end, I was still on-the-edge-of-my-seat, just wondering what was going to happen next, to whom, and how the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise was going to feel after all of the tears have been dropped. Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but it was what I was feeling, while I sat all crumbled-up with my large-ass soda and popcorn. I was feeling comfy, cozy, and all easy inside, and then this movie came on and had to ruin everything for a simple man like myself. However, that’s not a negative either. I had fun with this movie, no matter what Abrams decided to throw at the screen and see what stuck, and it just goes to show you that this guy really does have the mastery and the craft to voice a new generation of Star Wars fans for many, many years to come.
Still though: what’s going to happen to his Star Trek franchise? Who knows? Only time will tell on that one, my friends.
Just like the first movie, this Star Trek entry may have the explosions, the cool-gadgets, the Klingons, and the fireworks to catch your pretty, little eyes, but in reality: it’s all about the characters and which ones mean the most to each other. Just in case you were questioning whether Spock and Kirk made up, hugged, and got over their differences, no need to worry; because they haven’t. Yup, they still bicker, argue, and trade quips against one another about choosing logicality-over-impulse and it’s as enthralling to watch as it was in the first movie. It never gets old, despite them having a fight about five or six times here, and you always wait to see what layer of this character is going to peeled-off next, so that the other can capitalize on the vulnerability of the other and show their strength. It’s not all serious though, it’s played for fun and games, but there’s something still really strong between these two that obviously keeps them on the same ground, united, and, well, “friends.” Believe it or not, these two are friends, and this movie shows that many-upon-many of times, all of which, are as compelling and heartwarming as the last. No, Kirk and Spock do not start making-out, but if they did, the reaction would have been filled with more claps than boos.
The two cats playing those iconic characters, respectively, Chris Pine and Zachary Qunto, are still amazing at what they do and show that they have fully grown into these characters with much ease and skill. Pine is as brass as he can get as Kirk, but still shows some ounces of humanity every once and awhile that has us feel like the kid is learning as time goes on, and the stakes continue to get higher for him, and his crew. Quinto is also great as Spock, showing just how smart and thought-provoking he can be with what he says, what he stands for, and what he stands against. Quinto has pretty much mastered the hell out of this role by now, and it’s no surprise that once things start getting a little hectic for Spock in the end, Quinto owns it and makes us feel like Spock will, and forever always be: a bad-ass. I mean, after all, I do own this t-shirt, so I think I know when the guy’s bad-ass and when he’s not. Rarely ever is he the latter.
As for the others along for the adventure, not all of them get as much screen-time as they did with the first movie, but still show each of the acquired-skills and how they all come into play with this story, at least once or twice just to remind us that they are there. Zoe Saldana is good as Uhura, as her and Spock’s relationship is once again, tested to see if they really are worth sticking around and getting all hyped-up over, or if they should just focus their attention on space, and shit like that. A bit obvious for a story like this to go down that route, but both stars handle it like professionals and easily make it a relationship worth caring about, even when danger stares both of them in the eyes, even without a blink. And yes, we all know that Alice Eve’s Carol will eventually play a bigger-role in the franchise sooner or later, but for right now, she’s just here for this and this alone. She’s good when she is called on to do something, but that’s very rare when she isn’t just posing in some misogynistic movie-scene. Not a huge feminist by any stretch of the meaning, but I do know when unneeded is exactly that, and that scene was. At least she’s hot, though.
Even though they don’t get as much adoration and love like they did in the first one, everybody else seems to get their one moment in the sun, and milk it for as long as they can. Simon Pegg is a bigger-part in this story, than he was in the last, and has a great time with the role, but isn’t his usual jokey-wokey self. Yes, Pegg’s definitely funny as Scotty, but the guy helps out a bit more with these plans that makes him less of a fool, and more a smarty-pants, that does smarty-things. Karl Urban is a laugh-out-loud riot as Bones, and shows why his comedic-timing is a thing to behold, even in the darkest of situations. I guess it’s still nice to see when the guy isn’t judging drug-addled crooks, the dude’s still got time to patch everyone up. John Cho gets to have his moment to play in the sun and sand as Sulu, but is mainly there to steer the ship when it needs that ripe-steering, and Anton Yelich is barely even here as Chekov, but I think that’s on-purpose for the whole fact that not many people really care for the dude. Chekov, I mean, not Yelchin. Although, I wouldn’t be too sure that the Trekkies don’t have it out for that guy either. Those mofo’s are crazy.
Most of the hooplah surrounding this movie isn’t about whether it’s good or not, or even better than the first; it’s mainly been all around if the main villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, will in fact be Khan or not. Without diving into any more about this character that may land me in some hot lava, I just want to say that the man is great with this role as he always seems to be one step ahead of everybody else on the Enterprise, and does whatever the hell he can to keep his name, his pride, and his destination clear in sight. The guy’s got some real scary eyes that demand your attention, and it works. You never quite feel like this dude’s going to get away with anything he plans, which in it’s own right, doesn’t make all that much sense to begin with, but you don’t care. All you know about this dude is that he’s a baddie, doing baddie things, and not so much as leaving a post-it for saying “sorry.” Yeah, I know, right? What a total dick!
Has to be Khan, right? I don’t know. I’ll leave that one to you, my friends.
Consensus: Regardless as to whether or not it fully fits in line with the die-hard Trekkies or not, Star Trek Into Darkness is one hell of a ride that’s jam-packed with thrills, emotion, humor, beautiful special-effects, and a feeling that this franchise can, and just might go anywhere and it will always be awesome. Let’s just hope that J-squared doesn’t get too wild ‘n out with Star Wars.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
Now, all who’s left to find is that damn Star Wars Kid.
Although it was originally intended as an inside joke among co-workers, a video of a Winnebago salesman yelling, screaming, and cursing during a shooting for his new commercial spread across the globe like wild-fire. First, it was on VHS tape, then went straight to YouTube, and finally, the whole world. All of this notorious fame earned Jack Rebney the title of “The Angriest Man in the World”. The documentary explores the story of the clip’s origin and how, two decades later, it affects the man who never even knew it existed.
Before I get into this review, you got to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you have never, ever seen the “Winnebago Man” video, ever, then get your ass on over to Youtube, check it out, laugh your ass off, and get back over here.
Okay, solid stuff. Now that you know what all of the fuss is about, I can finally delve deeper into what this documentary really explores.
To be brutally honest, I thought that video was pretty funny back in the day. You know, because it’s all about a simple guy, who’s probably been having the worst day of his life, screams, curses, swats at flies, tries to figure out what the hell the word “accountrement” means, and just yells at every single person who dares walk into his wrath. That stuff was hilarious when I was in 5th grade, when it first came out, but now I’ll just watch it, laugh from time-to-time and that’s just about it. However, this director Ben Steinbauer, really found this stuff not only to be funny, but almost life-changing in a way and it’s surprising to see a guy get over-taken with so much joy and inspiration, by a guy who just drops F-bombs the whole video. But I have to give it to this guy, because he really goes all out in trying to find this Jack Rebney, and even if I wasn’t totally on-board with finding this guy; I have to say that it was a pretty interesting ride in and of itself.
That’s actually where the whole charm of this movie comes into play: through Jack Rebney himself. This is one of those behind-the-scenes, insider-looks at a guy that everybody knows, loves, laughs at, and wants to meet, but hasn’t been seen ever since this video first came on the Y-tube. It’s interesting to see where this guy went, how he looks at the world, what he thinks of the term “internet celebrity”, and also see if this guy really is THAT pissed off all of the damn time. And it’s surprising to see, but yes, this guy really is as miserable in real life as we see him in that video. He’s cranky, he’s old, he’s pissed off at everybody around him for no good reason, but he’s not all that bad of a dude.
I was pretty interested in seeing what was going on with this guy behind those closed doors, but it wasn’t like I was asking for a documentary about this. Then again, what I got to see of Rebney was pretty cool because this guy is somehow able to be a total old fart, with all of his curses and insults, but still be able to be loved by over 50 Y-tube lovers in a room and probably more all over the world. What’s even crazier is that Rebney doesn’t change his personality once and it’s a surprise to see a guy that can be such a miserable git at some points, still have the love and adoration from millions and millions of people all over the globe. Not everything Rebney says is funny, that’s for sure, but when he is pissed off for no reason, it makes you chuckle here and there. Plus, by the end, when you actually see him confront his “internet celebrity” status, it’s actually pretty interesting to see since the guy has pretty much locked himself away from the world for the past 30 years. Wasn’t really begging to see where this guy went with his life and how he was doing, but it’s pretty cool to see what actually does happen to a normal dude that just so happened to be in the right mood, at the right time, at the right place, and in front of the right camera.
However, once you get past Rebney, you start to realize that there isn’t really anything else to this flick other than seeing what happened to one of the first V-list celebrities. Granted, it’s pretty cool to see where Rebney is mentally and physically in life, but we never get to know much about him other than he used to be a writer for CBS and left on his own terms. That stuff actually was interesting, but the film never dives deep into that probably cause this director seemed like he was too afraid to go for the hard and heavy line-of-questioning. He sort of just lets Rebney rant and rave throughout the whole film, which is fine because that’s who he is, but I kind of wanted to know what makes this guy tick (pretty much everything), and just more about him in general. Maybe there was TOO much love and adoration on Steinbauer’s part. Just maybe.
Also, I couldn’t help but think that this documentary is a bit mean-spirited in some of its own ways. Think about it for a second: you’re alone, happy in your life of solitude, free to do whatever you want, have the world all to yourself, have your own little doggy to keep you company, own rifles for protection, and just no real bother from the outside world. Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well, it was for Rebney, who seemed pretty effin’ glad to be living the way he was. That is until Mr. Director had to bring his simple-minded ass up there and bother the poor, old guy. I get that this kid wants to meet “his inspiration for life” and will stop at nothing to do so, but really; think about what that guy wants. I highly doubt Rebney wanted anybody bothering him in his peaceful life, and it’s kind of rude when you think about how this director just walks himself into poor Rebney’s life, without Rebney able to stick up for himself and tell him to beat it. Poor Jack Rebney. I just hope that he’s feeling free and relaxing on his own terms now. Just hope he stays the eff away from that little punk, Ben Steinbauer!
Consensus: Winnebago Man is the type of documentary that’s interesting because of what the human-mind wants to, and must know in order to feel some sort of relief after laughing at this poor, old guy after all of these years. However, it doesn’t seem to go any further other than the fact that dude’s just a slightly-senile, cranky person that wants to be left alone, and probably should have been for the sake of his own health.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
In today’s economy: anything is possible. Yes, even an alien-invasion.
The Barrett family is the stereotypical, 21st Century, suburban-living family that is struggling to make any ends meet. Lacy (Keri Russell) is a Realtor trying to sell a whole slew of houses; Daniel (Josh Hamilton) continues to look for a job as he was laid-off from his old one; Jesse (Dakota Goyo) is a teenager at that awkward age where girls, weed, and porn become front-and-center in the mind; and the youngest son, Sam (Kadan Rockett), is just a little tike that’s weird, but hey, who isn’t when they are 5? All of the problems that they seem to face with money, keeping the house, and having any type of credibility to their names whatsoever is put on the back-burner, once they realize that they may be under a the storm of an invasion from aliens. No, not the metaphorical aliens, but REAL ALIENS.
Dark Skies was one of those movies that nobody seemed to care about when it originally came out, not even the production company that released it did, because they didn’t even bother screening it for critics. And if they did screen it, they told all critics and publications to hold their reviews until the evening of Friday, once the movie already came out. Strange, right? Yeah, sort of is, but isn’t strange because they probably felt like they had a stinker and wanted people to stay away from talking bad shit on it. However, it seemed like such bad press for a movie that wasn’t all that terrible to begin with. Just shitty-marketing. That’s all.
In ways, I can see why the studio would want to hide this movie away from the mainstream audience, but at the same time; I just can’t because it seems like this movie is a tad bit different from what we are used to seeing with horror movies. Well, recent horror movies that is. Rather than just giving us some plot-lines for these characters, who they are, and what situation they are in, the movie takes a surprising turn and actually focuses more on them, with all of the spooky-shit showing up as the side-dish. Characters and relationships are front-and-center in this movie, and for the most part: it worked for me.
It worked for me because I felt myself rooting this family on, even when it seemed like they had every single odd stacked up against them. Yeah, they may be facing-off against aliens and may have little to no control over what happens to them, but at least they are going to fight their way against them. Watching as this family fell through hard times with their house, their jobs, and their money-saving, as well as the alien shit, was enough to make me care about them and this movie. It’s only until the latter-parts where we start to focus more on the “alien shit” is when things seem to get a tad bit out-of-hand.
Not too much, but a tad bit.
See, where this movie goes wrong is when it decides to focus in on the horror-aspect of the movie, but go a bit over-board as well. I don’t mind a horror movie trying to give me little BOO scares here and there, but this movie seemed to do too many of them, in such a short-span of time, when everything else that was sedated and laid-back seemed to work better. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t trying to scare us, it just didn’t work because it felt out-of-place with all else that was happening.
Even the aliens themselves are really corny to see. Granted, we don’t get too many glimpses of them, as they are pushed more to the background at times, but when they do show up; they made me laugh a couple of times just by how cheap they looked. I get it, the movie probably didn’t have the craziest budget to make these aliens look like the second-coming of those blue things from Avatar, but at least give me something better that doesn’t look like it was made for one of those programs that you could view on the History or SyFy channel, that talks about UFO sightings and whatnot. Even when the aliens didn’t show up, the movie still made me unintentionally laugh, just because it seems like the movie took melodramatic moments as clues and hints as to why everything’s happening. After about the 4th or 5th strange happening to this family, I just about had it and wish they went on, but nope; they just had to continue to pile on the happenings.
And not that type of happening either. Thank the high heavens for that.
But at the center of the movie, underneath all of the coating of sci-fi, aliens, and scares, the cast is what keeps this movie moving. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are good as a sympathetic married-couple, because they actually feel like one. They love, they fight, they argue, they bicker, they sleep together at night, they care for their children, they pay their mortgage (sort of), and they always stick together no matter what. Seeing them together felt realistic and worth watching, whereas most films of the same vein, probably would have made one of them have a huge secret that he/she didn’t decide to tell the other, and just a whole bunch of other spousal-disputes would occur. Thankfully, the movie keeps those aspects of the relationship, just like the characters, grounded to where it isn’t an over-abundance. It’s just right in the middle.
Dakota Goyo is good as the teen of the family that’s going through some problems of his own, the most important one of all: girl problems. Goyo is fine in this role because he feels like the type of awkward kid you’d meet on the street, and tell to just smile and be happy because he’s never going to have it again (ever), but all of his subplots did weigh-down the film. However, that’s just because they had to show him at “that age” where everything’s weird and doesn’t seem to make sense. Whatever. Just shut up and smile, kid.
The main cast is good, but why on Earth did the movie decide to waste the talents of J.K. Simmons. As we all know, the guy is amazing in just about everything that he does, which is why I was pretty damn upset when I saw him get a relatively-crappy role as some conspiracy-nut who shows up, talks to this family, and tells them what we all know. Really, that’s all his character was here for: to tell us that these aliens are bad and are going to do whatever it is that they can to take away one of their family members. That’s it. Nothing special about this role, and one that could have probably been played by you, me, or my dog laying right next to me. What a waste, man. What a waste.
Consensus: It’s the typical haunted-house flick, mixed with some aliens, that features clichés and melodramatic moments that feel as unneeded as a Keri Russell nude scene (but seriously, when the hell are we going to get that?!?!?), but Dark Skies still does well with making us care for it’s core characters, and at least have us waiting for something good to happen. It sort of does, and sort of doesn’t, but at least it’s not a total waste of your time.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Sort of like if Mickey and Mallory went on a road-trip. Well, a different one anyway.
Two lovebirds, Chris and Tina (Steve Oram and Alicia Lowe), decide that it’s time to get away for a little and have some fun. Chris then plans out this whole trip for the two to take, hopefully have fun on, and explore the country-side. Oh, and they might also do some killing as well. Just in case the moment ever arises.
Director Ben Wheatley is starting to become a voice to be heard in the world of movies. Kill List was a shock of a movie that never ceased it’s turning wheels, and still has me wondering about it, even until this very same day. It’s just that type of movie that messes with your mind, long after you’ve seen it, which is why you should definitely go out, find it, and watch it if you haven’t done so already. That said, this movie had a lot of promise by the way this is Wheatley’s second film and shows that the guy loves blending human-relationships, comedy, and horror, altogether in one, neat package. But what you may not notice until checking out the credits, this isn’t written by Wheatley and is instead done by it’s two leading stars. First mistake right there.
Even though Wheatley took some risky and strange steps with Kill List, you still have to give the guy credit for at least going down the roads that he did, and not making any apologies for it. It was always interesting to see where he could go next with his story, and what genre he was going to mess around with when he felt like it. This movie just felt like the same genre, the same joke, the same happenings, the whole way through. There’s nothing really crazy going on here other than the fact that these two lovers are out on their own, little trip of sight-seeing and killing random people. Funny for maybe the first or second time, but after that: it becomes a bore.
However, Oram and Lowe don’t really seem to get the nods right off the bat. They decide to keep on hammering and hammering away with the same joke that these two, ordinary people would actually spend a whole trip going from place-to-place, killing people whenever they saw fit. It gets old, real quick, and feels like the movie is at a lost for ideas. If anything, the movie did make me laugh with it’s monstrous uses of irony, and finding new and original ways to use it here and there, but even that got to be repetitive as well. Nothing new seems to happen, other than what person they are going to kill next and even then you can pin-point how, who, what, where, and when.
Not good for any movie, let alone one of the horror/black comedy-genre.
Honestly, I wish I could go on and on about this movie and say how obvious it got to a certain-point where I just wanted somebody to slap me with a fish and get it over with already, but I’m sort of at a lost for words. Wheatley still shows his love and compassion for making things terribly-uneasy with the audience, whether it’s watching a person be killed, or the thought of someone being killed. But then that idea starts to get skewered as you begin to see these characters taking out all of their rage and frustration out on people who seem to sort of deserve it. Not saying any person deserves to die for saying or doing something that may not be the nicest-gesture in the whole, entire world, but if Wheatley really wanted to ruffle some feathers, he would have gone for the jugular and given us victims that were the least-bit sympathetic. Everybody here just seem like mean people that had it coming to them some time soon. Not my thoughts. Apparently it’s the movies. Just by the looks of it.
Then, of course, there’s the two leading-peoples themselves: Steve Oram and Alicia Lowe. Since this is THEIR script, aka, their bread and butter, it only feels right that they make it work to the best of each of their abilities, which it does. Oram is funny as Chris, the sort of dude that seems all cool, calm, and relatively-charming on the outside, but very deep, dark, and sinister on the in. The dude never seems like a bad-enough guy to really go full-throttle with all of these murderous-acts of violence, but at least he has fun with it. Low also has fun with her role as Tina, for the sole-sake that she’s just a nut, and is marveling it. She gets to do some pretty strange-o stuff, and pulls it off well, even when it seems like this girl is too nutty to be taken seriously. But then again, you never know what is real, and what isn’t real with this movie. Wheatley leaves it all up to the viewer and I appreciated that aspect, just not the whole film.
Together, Oram and Lowe are good as it seems as if they’ve been best-buddies/eff-buddies for a long time now, as the chemistry between them is natural. They’re weird, odd, and very scary in the ways that they could do anything they wanted, whenever they wanted, but I wanted more from these characters. For the most part, I never felt like I knew any of them, other than the fact that they just liked to act weird and kill people. That was basically it. It never seems like the movie itself was ever keen on taking them seriously enough, to ever give them any real personalities, with real feelings, real emotions, and real ideas in their heads. I know killing people is a real idea, but I didn’t feel like I was watching real people, thinking about a real idea. They seemed more like they were destined for the big-screen. No surprise that that’s exactly where they ended-up.
Consensus: Wheatley still shows his attention to detail, but working on a script that wasn’t made by him, makes Sightseers feel like a bit of a disappointment considering it’s the same, old joke; again and again with new spins on it every once and awhile, but not enough to fully have me in a daze of fun and disbelief.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
The classic tale of love, lust, living the life, and throwing a great party in the 20′s, all to the sweet and soulful tunes of Jay-Z.
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is an aspiring artist who searches for inspiration and passion when he decides to leave the Midwest and travel to New York City, where all of the hustle and bustle is a-foot. Nick finds himself there, looking for his own taste of the American Dream, but also lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Jay just so also happens to be across the bay from Nick’s cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), who’s with her d-bag-of-a-hubby husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Nick soon finds himself drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, deceits, passions, ways of having fun, and most of all: their secrets.
Believe it or not, The Great Gatsby was one of the very-few books that I have actually had the pleasure of sitting down, taking time out of my day for, and read to the final page. It was a hard piece of literature to get through, but thankfully, I had the bragging-rights and all to say that I was able to conquer it, as well as being able to say I knew what the “big surprise” actually was. Can’t say that about many books (mainly because I haven’t read many), but it still had me wondering just what could be made of with this material, if it were ever made for the screen one more time.
And Baz Luhrmann was definitely not the first choice I had in mind.
Actually, that last statement is starting off on the wrong-foot because I can’t say anything bad against Luhrmann’s direction, or what it is that he tries to do with this material. If anything, the guy tries his damn-near hardest to get past the fact that this is just dry material, made for the sake of reminding everybody how freakin’ awesome the Roaring Twenties actually were. Despite the gimmicky 3D aspect behind this movie (trust me, not even worth the watch in that extra-dimension), the movie does look very purrty and once again, you can tell that Luhrmann really put his heart and feel into making this movie look like it exactly reads out. Loud, lavish parties filled with extraneous amounts of glitz, color, glamour, and loads, and loads of champagne. Being able to match the look I had in my head of what the setting actually looked-like after reading the book, I realized that Luhrmann had a bigger-imagination than even myself was graced with, which makes the movie all the more visually-outstanding.
However, pretty colors, pretty things, and pretty people can only go so far. And in Luhrmann’s case: it’s sad to see. You can jump-start this material with as much exuberance and energy as your little heart desires, but if you can’t get to the heart of the story and feel what it was like to live in this period, then you have all but lost me. That’s exactly what I felt like when I watched Luhrmann try whatever it was that he could to make it seem as if he had actually read the novel, and/or still remembered it to this day. Instead, it just seems like he SparkNote’d the hell out of this thing, went through the motions, and stamp his own trademarks here and there. You know, just for show.
But it’s one of those shows that’s obvious and it lost me about half-way through, once I realized that this movie didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Granted, I wasn’t on-the-edge-of-my-seat considering I knew how the material would play out, and what characters would be doing what in certain situations, but I was still interested in seeing what Luhrmann could pull-off to surprise the hell out of me. Sadly, nothing really seemed to make me fall back in my chair and wonder how he pulled it all off. Everything seems so cut-and-dry with character’s emotions and dilemmas; the “big reveals” are nowhere near being subtle, as they were in the novel; and everybody else here, feels as if they just got out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, but have a fancy-schmancy accent. Okay, maybe the characters aren’t that bad, but they are pretty damn dull. A real shame too, because the cast working with these characters really seem to know what they’re doing, it’s just that the direction isn’t there to help them succeed.
Tobey Maguire plays our narrator for the whole, 2 hours: Nick Carraway. Maguire is alright in a role that doesn’t ask for much, and doesn’t get much back in-return. It’s just Tobey, being Tobey, and whether or not he’s acting like this, or this; you don’t really give a shit what else he’s doing. All you want him to do is not be distracting by how geeky he is, and he wasn’t. Good job, Tobes! New-comer Elizabeth Debicki actually walks away clean with this movie, as she’s the only one who really feels as if she would have been the gal to beat around this period of time, and reminds me of the older-days of Hollywood, where the dames seemed to run rampant all throughout the town. Sort of reminded me of a younger-Kristin Scott Thomas, minus the French and nudity. Pretty bummed out by the latter aspect. Damn you, Baz! Couldn’t “up” the rating to at least a soft R? Bastard.
As Nick’s cuzzy, Daisy, Carey Mulligan looks exactly like the character I imagined in my head when I read it all those years ago, but seems slightly-dull in the way she prances around character-to-character, throughout the whole story. The only thing she wants in this whole movie is to just live a peaceful, happy life, but yet; she’s still stuck with the bastard that continues to cheat on her, right in front of her nose. And to make matters worse, she then decides to mess around herself. Pretty smart girl if I don’t say so myself. Playing that philanderer of a hubby, Tom Buchanan, is Joel Edgerton who seems to take a whole box of delight chewing the scenery with his thin-mustache, but it goes nowhere. Instead, it seems like the guy never has anything good to say, morally-right to do, or even brings any happiness around him. He’s just a miserable, sad-sack of a dude that lacks no moral-understanding of what’s going down. In the novel, there was more to him than just a dude looking to get revenge. But, once again, Baz didn’t seem to get that part of the novel. All he saw as an opportunity to get a bunch of people to beat around the bush with one another about who’s sleeping with who. Gets old, real fast.
Thankfully, the only one who saves these characters and this movie is the man himself: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. Right from that definitive-shot where we first meet him, Leo seems to be having the time of his life as Gatsby. He’s living the life of a billionaire that looks handsome, wears lavish-colors, likes beautiful things, and always holds hospitality at his upper-most important factor of being a person. He’s everything, any person in their right mind would ever want to be, except there’s more to this dude than you may think. Leo is great at playing the cool, charmer of a man that Gatsby shows-off to everybody around him, but is even better when it comes to peeling-away the layers of who the hell this guy just might be, and whether or not he can be trusted. You never know with this guy, and Leo is very good at keeping us guessing as to when he’s going to just lose his shit, and at what velocity he’ll lose it at. If it wasn’t for Leo, this movie would have fallen down the drain, but with him: it survives by a hair. A relatively longer-than-usual hair, but it’s still ready to be cut-off at any second.
Consensus: Baz Luhrmann knows what it takes to make The Great Gasby‘s fourth, and hopefully, final big-screen adaptation as beautiful and eye-appealing as ever, but all of the effort he puts into the look of it, doesn’t translate well into the drama, the message, the characters, or the overall-feel that the novel originally had. Yup, somehow Jack White songs just didn’t cover what it meant to be a flapper during the 20′s.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
At least he’s on the wagon now.
After the wild events that took place in New York with Gods of Thunders and worm-holes and such, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has found himself in a bit of a crisis. Not only is he constantly reminded of what occurred, but he can’t seem to get any sleep and continually works on his hobby: building and building shit. It doesn’t matter what it is or what it could do, the fact is that he’s building shit, losing sleep, losing the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and losing what it means to be a superhero. However, an evil terrorist by the name of Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), might just change that feeling in the pit of his stomach and have him realize what it was about him that made him Iron Man in the first place.
Since the Avengers came, saw, and conquered the world last Summer, it seemed only right that Marvel would unleash it’s brand-new bag and go back to where it all started: Iron Man, or if you really want to be legit about it: Tony Stark. Without the first movie coming out in 2008 and taking over like it did, who knows just what the hell Marvel might have done not just with their fellow, other superheros, but in general as well. But from what we’ve all seen and what we do know is that Tony Stark is the go-to guy for when you need a compelling movie, and Iron Man is a pretty bad-ass superhero, even if he doesn’t have a big hammer. I still think that’s one of the all-time best weapons in superhero history. By far.
The first piece of curiosity that sprang through my mind when I initially heard of this movie happening, was the choice of Shane Black as director and co-writer. If you don’t know who this cat is, I suggest you go and find Kiss Kiss Bang Bang somewhere on DVD and check that out because it is a gem of a movie and it’s all because of Black. The guy’s also written Lethal Weapon, but in my eyes: his directorial-debut ranks supreme against all others because it’s funny, exciting, and filled to the brim with plot that may seem like over-kill, but keeps you guessing until the end. And just as promising as that may sound for a guy who’s about to tackle Iron Man, it still seemed strange considering that not only was this his second movie to date, but also that his first one had barely any CGI whatsoever, or action for that matter. Most of it was just shooting, guns, bullets, a car-crash, and fake blood. That was it. So, how the hell did Marvel trust this guy with their biggest money-maker to date?
Well, whatever it was that the big guys at M found in him, sure as hell worked because Black does a superb job as both director, and co-writer. Not only is his humor present throughout the whole flick, but the guy also finds a way to throw in some neat and nice little twists here and there to spice things up. One plot-twist that I won’t give up unless you want to e-mail me about it (CMrok93@yahoo.com), really divided this movie into two, different ways. Some will definitely go along with it and think that it was a nice-departure from what we are used to seeing with typical, superhero movies, whereas others may be a bit pissed and wished that they exactly got that typical, superhero movie they had grown so accustomed to. I still haven’t been able to rack my brain around whether or not I liked it all that much, but I will say that in Black’s case, it sure as hell was risky, something different, and not exactly what I was expecting. So, yeah, maybe you could put me in that earlier-group of peeps, but at the same time, don’t, because I’m still not sure.
Just give me some damn time, man!
But what really worked for Black and what mainly surprised the hell out of me is how well he handles all of the action, CGI, and 3D (basically, the big-budget). Black knows exactly what the fans want to see when they see a superhero movie about Iron Man and that’s what the dude gives to ‘em. Some may actually be surprised to see that not all of this action features the actual superhero, Iron Man, but features more of Stark doing all of the ass-kicking himself, but it’s still fun and exciting to see, especially when you add a darker-element of story-telling on top of it all, which is what Black has done surely well. Of course the humor is always there to keep people laughing and giggling, but the stakes feel higher with this one and it’s no surprise that some may actually be scared as to who’s going to get off’d next, who might not make it for Iron Man 4 (although Paltrow spilled the beans on that enchilada), and who’s going to come out victorious and with a little bit of something to brag about. It’s fun to watch a movie that knows how to keep the energy rolling without a real break in the pace, but it’s even better when you feel like the seconds you see a person on screen for, could just might as well be their last. Black keeps this going for quite some time, that is, until the last-half shows up and sort of ruins things.
For the most part, about an hour and a half in, I was on-board with this movie and I easily felt like I was working on a 9-9.5 here, but something happened. No, not the twist I was talking about earlier, but the final showdown that we all know is going to eventually come. Something, I don’t know what it was, just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel as epic as the rest of the movie did and it sure as hell didn’t do much to really knock me out of my chair with it’s originality; something I was seeing from Black’s side of the room, more and more. Don’t get me mistaken, I still had a ball with this final-act and just about lost my hearing by how many clangs, booms, and bangs I continued to hear (that’s a good thing, by the way), but something didn’t make it feel like the movie was tied-up with a pretty, little bow at the end like all of the other superhero movies have lately. Even Iron Man 2 somehow decided to do that, and as we all know: that was nowhere near greatness.
However, I can’t put anything against this cast because as usual: they are all phenomenal, even the newbies too. But I’ll get to them later, let me stick with the man of the 2 hours, the man with the power, and the man who practically has it all: Robert Downey Jr. Everybody and their mothers (the coolio ones who didn’t give up on him when he got busted all of those years ago) know that Downey was made for this role and he continues to show us why with his egotistical act, look, and feel. Yet, there’s something more to this guy that makes him actually feel like a hero worth rooting for. Stark does make some stupey mistakes and gets caught-up in situations that he could have easily gotten himself out of if he just thought more, but he’s human, dammit! That’s what we do. And even if we don’t have a mansion, a billion dollar corporation, or a suit made of iron that can kick ass and speak like Paul Bettany, we still feel like this guy would do the right thing, if he was given a chance to make the decision as to what that exactly is. Downey is funny as usual, and probably a lot better with the script considering that he practically vouched for Black to get this job, but it’s his human-aspect within that makes this character tick, rock, and kick….some ass. See what I did there? Yeah, I’m all out of being witty for the night.
Even if it seems like nobody in their right minds is willing to let all of the hate for Gwyneth Paltrow go, just for a little bit of time over 2 hours, at least the girl still shows us that she can act and be charming as hell. I don’t hate Paltrow like everybody else seems to, and that’s why I really liked her as Pepper Potts because it not only felt like her character really loved Tony and wanted him to be all fine and dandy once things were over with, but that she could also stick up for herself in the chance arose itself. Pepper isn’t the type of character that you could classify as a “damsel in distress” and that’s the route that Black turns away from and gives her more a chance to knock some people out, if she needs to. During this movie, she definitely does need to and that’s exactly what she does. Keep on going, Mrs. Coldplay!
Don Cheadle is here once again as Col. Rhodes (still thought Terrence Howard was better, but hey, that’s just me, baby) and does fine with what he’s given. Cheadle doesn’t have a huge role here but gets more to do than just pick up Tony’s scraps and make us feel like he’s more of a bad-ass too. Although, I will say that he does get to show us what makes him all bad-ass still. Oh, and before I forget about it all: Rebecca Hall is here as an old-fling of Tony’s and is good, even if her beauty and charm does seem a bit wasted on a character that is essentially around just to show how much of a chauvinistic a-hole Tony basically was back in the darker days before he fell in love with Pep. Still, the girl is mighty fine!
Now is the part where we go onto the baddies and this is where things begin to get a little dicey for me and you. See, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce both play some evil a-holes that definitely are not the breed you want to mess with, let alone see Tony mess with, but there’s more to them than just that and I can’t give away too much without sounding annoyingly-vague, or just giving it all up. Both do what they need to do as the baddies, especially Kingsley who actually terrified me at one point, but there are more layers to them and once you see what’s really going on with these cats, you might just be a bit surprised. I sure as hell was and once again: I still don’t know what to make of it. What I can say though, is that the movie does not, for a second, stray-away from giving these two guys plenty of scenery to chew on and that’s where all of the fun comes from. Because if you think about it: that’s all you need in a good villain, right?
Consensus: Starts off perfectly with a funny script, electric set-pieces, and a cast that never backs down from a script they can’t grapple, but Iron Man 3 ends more on a whimper, than on a bang. Which would have been all right and perfect with the world, had we not already see the Avengers and know what there is to expect with the Marvel Universe.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!
P.S. Stay for the credits. Even though you probably already knew that, didn’t you?
If you live in Salem, most likely weird shit will begin to happen.
Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a vulnerable radio DJ that spends her time working, keeping busy, and staying off the sauce. Everything is fine for her until she receives some weird recording from this band called “The Lords”, and begins to feel nauseous and strange every time she hears it. So does a local historian (Bruce Davidson), who not only tries to find Heidi and tell her of the danger that may await her, but also try to figure out just who these “Lords” really are. He lives in Salem, where this is all happening, so it might just have something to do with the past? Oh no!
Rob Zombie is a weird dude, but he does seem to love the horror genre. In a day and age where almost everybody seems to be giving up on it, there’s Zombie right there, to breath some everlasting love and light into it, even if it doesn’t always work for the dude. However, after he finally ditched the whole Halloween re-boot series (thank the high heavens), it seems like the guy has a chance to make a movie that comes from his mind, his soul, and his fingertips. That’s sort of the big problem there.
It isn’t that Zombie’s ambitions aren’t worth recommending, it’s just that they don’t work. Rather than chasing down a story where a bunch of people kill, sweat, and do dirty shit, all to the tuneage of Southern-rock, Zombie keeps his pace slow and melodic in a way, giving us a chance to focus more on characters, rather than the nutty stuff that’s about to happen to them. That’s why the first 30 minutes of this flick really worked for me; it was all character-development. Granted, it wasn’t anything memorable or special that I haven’t seen done a hundred times before in movies (especially horror ones), but it showed that Zombie could chill out when he felt the need be and could actually tell a story without diving into overly-dramatic theatrics.
Even when Zombie does dive into these said “overly-dramatic theatrics”, they surprisingly do work and feel freaky. Not scary, but freaky in the way that the inner-Catholic in me was a bit shocked by how purely-evil a movie could be and act. Not sure if Zombie actually does worship the devil in his spare-time, but if so: I wouldn’t be all that surprised with all of the devil-loving in this movie. Like I said about the first 30 minutes up top, not only does the character-development work, but so does the freaky stuff. After this though, things get a bit shaky. Actually, who am I kidding!?! They get really, freakin’ shaky.
One of Zombie’s biggest problems is that he does well when he wants to be funny, he just doesn’t transition well into full-out horror. Instead, most of the creepy shit like a baby being licked by witches, evil dead babies doing stuff (I honestly have no idea what the hell they were doing), and witches chanting and praising in the name of Satan, don’t really seem scary, as much as they just seem goofy. It seemed like Zombie was trying to harken back to the good old days of horror, by throwing in elements of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but instead, got something that reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut. Not exactly the type of movie I like to be thinking about when I putting up my “Top 10 for Horror Movies”, but that’s where this movie seems to go towards and it’s a wonder just what the image of where this story could go, actually was in Zombie’s head.
Was he trying to say anything about drug-addiction? Because as far-fetched as that may seem, there is plenty of references to that. For instance, Heidi is a former drug-addict trying to get over her old sensibilities and develop new, improved ones, yet, still finds her way of coming back to them. And that’s all thanks to that vinyl-record she listens to from that weird band, which may be another metaphor for the drugs in her life; past, present, and future. As the recording continues to play more and more, her old life of drugs and partying comes back, and it’s only a matter of time until it spirals out of control and her old friends need to come back into her life and help her. Maybe, just maybe am I diving into this a bit too much? Damn straight I probably am! But still, at least I’m trying to give some amount of credit to Zombie, because it doesn’t seem like any of this material (his, as a matter of fact) goes any further than Satan, dead babies, and witches. Oh, and some rock ‘n roll as well. Some.
If there was anything in this movie that was worth remembering or really blowing me away, it was Sheri Moon’s performance as Heidi. In the past, I’ve never really been too fond of Moon’s acting, as I felt like Zombie has always had the chance to just shoe-horn her in, anyway that he could, but here, she feels as if she belongs. She isn’t her to just get nakey (although she does and it’s awesome); she isn’t her to just act all weird and crazy (quite the contrary, actually); and she isn’t here just to allow her hubby, Zombie, to throw whatever it is he can at her. She’s actually here to act and acting is what she does well by giving Heidi the right amount of charm and sympathy, that makes us care for her more and more as the flick continues to enroll into some odd shite. Moon is obviously down for whatever comes her way, but the human-aspect of her character is probably what worked best for me, and it was interesting to see where her character went, how she got there, and when she was ever going to get out of it. By the way, I’m talking about her drug-addiction. In case you couldn’t tell.
Moon keeps the movie somewhat grounded in a real-sense of reality, whereas everybody else seems to just be losing their essence of cool. Bruce Davison was a big, old welcome-back as the scholar that’s interested in Heidi’s past and record she just received and shows why the guy has this likable sense of dignity to him, that never really waters down over time. It’s been awhile sine I’ve seen this dude do anything, let alone, anything good, so it was a nice, blast-from-the-past to have. Horror-queens Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn, all play the three witches as they ham it up furiously where they bitch, gnaw, and cackle their way through any scene they show up. Does it always work? Not really. More or less of it seems to be them trying really hard to be like the old days, but it’s entertaining enough to watch them try and remember what it used to be like, when they were young, fun, and blissful. And there’s probably a hundred-more cameos, side performances, and such by a bunch of other peoples that I forgot to mention but once you see them, you’ll recognize them.
Consensus: Zombie may have a clear-eye for ambition with The Lords of Salem, and while some of it does work and freak you out a bit, some of it may also have you laughing as if any of this is supposed to be taken seriously, or with a grain of salt. It’s neither: it’s REALLY serious.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Now I know why I’m single, but steady. Ladies?
Alejandro Griffin (Ben Barnes) and Missy O’Connor (Amanda Seyfried) are getting married. There seems to be no problem with two, young lovers wanting to get hitched, except for the fact that Alejandro’s family is anything but functional. His dad (Robert De Niro) and mom (Diane Keaton) have been divorced for over 20 years, while he lives with (Susan Sarandon); his sister (Katherine Heigl) pukes at the sight of kids; and his bro (Topher Grace) has yet to settle down and lose that V-card of his. Oh, and if that didn’t suck already, his “real mom” is flying up for the wedding but is extremely catholic so Alejandro has to make sure that his real mom and dad act as if they are still married. Hilarious hi-jinx ensue, as you could imagine.
Since it is ripely considered “wedding season”, it’s more than obvious that Hollywood would take advantage of this time and start popping-out all of the wacky and nutty wedding movies, that were meant for those older-peeps who don’t care much for weddings, or those single peeps who are lonely and in need of some reassurance that they will find that special someone and have a beautiful like this one day. Maybe. I’m in the latter and I still feel no reassurance. Nor do I really need it. I’m flying solo forever, baby!
Going into this movie, I knew it was going to be terrible but here’s the thing about me: I like weddings, I like movies about weddings, and I like to watch a dysfunctional family act like asses around one another. I don’t know what it is about me but the idea of being around a bunch of family members that are as fucked-up as mine, really puts a smile to my face and a pen in my hand so that I can finally get to writing that note for Santa’s wish-list of a better life (it will happen one day). But this movie just isn’t what I wanted. Not at all.
As usual, movies like these try so damn hard to be funny, that they almost sprain themselves on the way down. This is one of those movies, but it isn’t as painful as I may make it sound. Granted, it is a pretty bad movie that isn’t really funny and totally has problems with it’s editing (more on that ish later), but it can be pleasureful if you are really, really lonely. And I mean: REALLY LONELY. Like, not a single member of your family is alive to remember your face or who you are. You may have an Uncle, Aunt, or Grandfather that may be going a tad crazy and lose sight of whether or not you’re the grandson or the dog, and that counts. But seriously, this movie is meant for those people who can’t enjoy and celebrate a wedding with friends or family. The only way you can is by watching actors and actresses (aka, really good-looking people), act as if they are all family, love each other, but also love to fight even more. Yep, THAT LONELY.
Sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s not. That’s usually either hit-or-miss depending on the type of person. But what no person can deny is that this movie is terribly-filmed and edited. Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but I remember this flick was supposed to come out around some time last year, because the trailer hit, and so did the poster, but no release date. But considering it was so early, everybody assumed it was going to come out in 2012. Whether or not it’s all true, doesn’t matter because this flick has definitely caught some fire and wind in the editing-room. Woo-wee!
The problem with this movie and it’s editing is that it feels as if somebody didn’t quite know what movie they wanted to make. So, instead of keeping the comedy and drama elements splish-splashed together for evenness, they just go straight for the comedy, all in a row, without any drama or anything. I wouldn’t have minded that so much if it was funny; but it wasn’t. By the end, the problems start to become even more apparent once people start revealing stuff that would change one person’s life in a heartbeat, but somehow has no effect whatsoever on that person. I don’t want to drop down to spoiler-territory, but it’s really random, stupid, and odd how kosher this flick seems to be with certain things like adoption and not knowing who your real parents are. Not saying adoption is weird, but something about this movie makes it seem weird. Oh, who the hell! Just watch it if you want to see what I mean!
If there is any saving grace to this movie, anywhere at all: it’s the cast. After turning out an Oscar-nominated role in Silver Linings Playbook, you’d automatically assume that it meant Bobby De Niro was with a new agent and back in full-force. But I was so, so, so, so, so wrong. De Niro isn’t bad here, it’s just that his character of being a womanizing-perv doesn’t quite work for the guy as well as it might have about a decade ago. Now, it’s just over-played, stupid, and a bit creepy considering all this dude wants to do is bang someone or something. Diane Keaton plays his estranged ex-wife, and is fine for what she needs to do but is simply phoning it in as if she just wants the lovin’ from Warren Beatty or Woody Allen back. No matter who she chooses to have back, she’s going to get some lovin’.
As for the kiddies, they are all fine, but feel as if they are just phoning it in like most supporting-acts in rom-coms do. Topher Grace is still trying to make us forget about Eric Forman and it’s still not working; Katherine Heigl is still trying to make us forget that she bitched-out Judd Apatow (aka, her best role EVER), and once again, it’s still not working; Amanda Seyfried has barely any scenes to herself, but when she does, it’s just blank the whole time; and Ben Barnes is charming and does what he can with that Spanish-tongue of his, but still can’t over-come the fact that he’s just there, stuck in the middle of all of this havoc. Poor guy. Get a new manager.
The only peeps in this cast who really seem ready to play are Robin Williams and Susan Sarandon. Williams seems like he’s having fun playing the same role he basically played in that god-awful movie where he played a priest where two younglings were getting married. Not going to call it by it’s name, and just leave it at that. Susan Sarandon is probably the best out of the bunch because of the way she plays her character, and the way they make her character. Since Bebe, the character she plays, swung-around with De Niro when he was still married to Keaton, you would think that she’d be perceived as a bottomless whore that can’t get a man her own, so she goes for one that’s already got dibs called on. You would think, but the movie actually makes a smart-decision in not taking that low road and giving her more to be sympathetic about and show us why she isn’t such a bad lady. In ways, she was even a better mommy than Keaton’s character was. But that’s bad because the Catholic Church thinks divorce is evil and breaths fire and brimstone. Okay, I’m done attacking anything right now. Let’s just get this thing over with.
Consensus: For anybody who wants to get away from their porno-infested computer screens for an hour or two, The Big Wedding may be the right fit for them, but for the other people that are married, in a relationship, or just don’t really care to waste their time in general; then it won’t fit. At all.
3 / 10 = Crapola!!
Matthew McConaughey is Mud, a fugitive drifter hiding on a small island in the Mississippi River. He’s on the run and living peacefully all by his lonesome, that is until he is found out by two, young boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland). They don’t cause him much trouble as they seem to be more lost in wonder about this dude and eventually assist him in evading capture and reuniting with his beloved girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon).
So far, for writer/director Jeff Nichols; life has been pretty good. Not only did his first flick (Shotgun Stories) have “the artsie crowd” jumping in their tight jeans, but his second one (Take Shelter) got his name out to a bigger audience that one more over, just by the sure-fire of Michael Shannon being the man. But we all know that when something is too good to be true, it usually is and that’s what I felt like going into this movie. It wasn’t that I doubted Nichols’ skills as a writer or director, it just seemed like such an obvious and predictable story where boys will be boys, and we’ll leave it at that. That’s what I thought, but what I got was so different.
Sorry for ever doubting ya in the first place, Jeffrey.
Movies that feature kids at the fore-front really have to win me over with more than just showing them being funny and insightful by cursing. They have to give me something more, and that’s exactly what this flick did. Instead of reaching for the conventions, and giving me a story that I’ve seen done a hundred times over, Nichols takes that story, and loosens-up it’s hinges a bit. It sort of like Nichols knew the type of genre-movie he was making, and decided to give it a little taste of his own. Not as dirty as I may make it sound, but it sure is fun and entertaining to watch.
Fun and entertaining in the way that the movie starts off quick and continues to go that way as well. There are moments when the flick decides to get real heavy on us and teach us some lessens, but not anything that really hit us in the face like a fish. Nichols keeps every character and their moments grounded in reality where we see these people who for the types of people they are. Each one, in one way or another, has a relationship with somebody else that you’d never knew about before, but the film brings up and shows you how that developed over time. It’s so interesting to see what you can do with character-development, just through simple and lean conversations. Some of it’s dramatic, some of it’s subtle, and some of it’s obvious, but most of all: it was interesting to see and made me care more for each of these characters as the stakes got higher and the tension began to build.
And once that tension does blow off, it does it in a way that isn’t everything you’d expect from a movie like this. Without jumping down the throats of all of you fine people with spoilers out the wahzoo, I’ll just keep it real simple in the way that the flick does end with some shooting and whatnot, but not like you’d expect. It happens for a reason and not just because Nichols got bored and needed to light up some fire works. Once again, it’s another way of showing how certain people use violence to their advantage and don’t seem to care about the after-effects. Just what needs to happen, and how it can be pulled off. Now, where have I heard that before!?!?
But it is meant to be said that by the end of the movie, things did start to get a tad bit conventional. Almost too much, dare I say it. It isn’t that I didn’t hate the flick for ending the way it did, but going to where I could sort of tell everything that was going to happen, and for what sole reason it was as well. Nichols did everything right leading up to the end, but the actual end itself is a tad of a bummer, for the sake that you know where it’s going to go. Again, I don’t wholly mind when a film goes that way, but it did sort of feel like a cheat, coming from Mr. Jeff Nichols here. He had me going though. He really did.
Though, I can’t be too hard on Nichols, because the guy has assembled a fine cast of characters here and that is definitely meant to be praised more than discouraged. Matthew McConaughey has been on a role as of late, and it doesn’t seem to show any chances of slowing down, by any means. His role as Mud is great for him to play because he gets the chance to, once again, tool around with the idea that we don’t know everything about this guy, what he’s done in his past, why he’s doing it, and if everything he’s saying is all truthful or a tall-tale. The whole time I kept wondering what was up with this guy, and by the end: I still didn’t quite know. But that’s the whole beauty about McConaughey’s performance in how he is able to mess with us, even long after the movie. We get general ideas about the guy where we see he’s a slick, cool, and kind fellow that does things for the people he loves, but a bit too harshly? Maybe? The answers to those questions are left for you and you alone to decide. Get going!
Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland play the two boys that find Mud on the island, and remind me of two kids that were picked right out of a Stephen King novel. They curse, spit, swallow, and cause havoc like all kids usually do, but there’s more of a sweetness to them that makes you want to hang out with them, as well as wish the best for them through this wild adventure. Especially Sheridan, who won me over two years ago in The Tree of Life and showed me some real promise as the next, young actor to watch. The kid’s story-line may be a bit too packed for it’s own good, but the kid kept his head above water and that’s more than enough I can say about certain kid actors out there.
After her most recent 15 minutes of fame in the slammer, Reese Witherspoon finds a way to re-group herself from driving and puts her rump down in the acting chair, like she should because she’s good at it when she isn’t choosing shit scripts. That’s a very rare thing for her, but let’s just soak up the moment now, shall we? What’s good about Witherspoon here is that she uses her beauty to her advantage in the way that she never gives you everything you need to know about her, only what you think you need to know. She walks a very fine-line in being both easy to trust, but also a tad mysterious in her ways, and it’s a fine-line that Reese can walk (at least when she’s sober that is!!). I’m really glad that Reese picked up a role like this because it reminded me why the gal was so lovely and so talented in the first place. I mean, hello! She does have an Oscar!
Nichols’ buddy from his past two movies, Michael Shannon is here as an uncle of one of the youngsters and is good, even if he isn’t in it all that much. Actually, the role is so small that it seems like he just showed up for one day of filming, cleared-out his schedule, and went right back to being Zod and reading sorority sister letters. The one who really steals the spot-light away from them all is Sam Shepard who shows them that he is still the bad-ass he once was, even after all of these years. Nice to know that guy’s still around and can do shit and do it right.
Consensus: Mud takes a slight-detour into convention by the end, but it’s a trip that’s worth taking regardless because of the amazing performances, the heartfelt script, and characters that are worth watching because you care for them and feel as if you know them.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
Steroids will kill you. But also will guns, lies, sex, drugs, murder, and leading a whole life of crime.
Three dimwitted body-builders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) make a living teaching other people how to put their body’s into shape. But they’ve had enough of it and want more out of life like money, fame, and drugs. You know, the American Dream. They decide to reach for this goal by kidnapping and extorting money from a very rich and powerful man (Tony Shalhoub). It sort of works, but as time goes on and their ego’s and utter stupidity seem to get in the way of things, they lose their way to figuring out just how the hell to keep their heads up and out of jail.
Oh yeah, and it’s all based on a true story. Don’t believe me, then seriously; go check this out and come back. See what I mean? Real shit.
The fact that this is all apparently happened, was directed by Michael Bay, and considered to be a passion project of his, really has me scratching my head still, even to this very sceond where I’m typing. However, being the “esteemed” critic that I am, I knew I had to be open to seeing something that Bay actually had been wanting to do for awhile and I think I stand with everybody else when I say that it’s time we saw something new from this guy. At least, I think so anyway. I hope I’m not alone.
I knew something was “up” with this movie once it began. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t interesting or that I wasn’t wondering what this was all going to be about, it was that something didn’t feel right. The movie begins with Marky Mark doing sit-ups on a ceiling then sees a bunch of cop cars, yells out “fuck”, and begins to run away, all to a narration that’s supposed to be funny, but isn’t. That’s how the whole movie actually plays out, in fact. Most moments are supposed to be done for laughs in the way that we point and chuckle at these bumbling fools trying to pull off robbery, but it doesn’t work. Instead, it seems like the movie is trying too hard to be funny, and failing at it so miserably so. It gets better, but very slightly.
The problem with this movie isn’t that it isn’t really funny, because once the first hour comes and goes, it begins to find it’s funny-footing, but it’s just “off” in ways that’s hard to explain. This a true story, about people that did bad stuff, tried to get away with it, and came close to doing so as well, so why the hell should all of this shit be played-up for laughs? I get that Bay wanted to have a bit of a tongue-in-cheek approach with this story and get all goofy on us, but he’s not the type of director that can make the transitions from drama to comedy seamless. You notice when the movie is trying too hard to be funny and too hard to be serious, and it just ends up coming out like a weird mixture of eggs and chocolate. Never tried that combo before, but something tells me it doesn’t mix well.
That’s not to say that this movie isn’t entertaining to watch, because it is, it just doesn’t feel like anybody can make up their right minds as to what type of film they want to make. The screenwriters wanted a dramedy; Bay wanted a buddy comedy, with a bunch of grit; the actors wanted a loosey-goosey comedy; and Marky Mark just wants to show the ladies that he’s still got the looks. Everybody is playing at their own pace, with their own rules, and their own ways of getting shit done. It honestly isn’t as bad as I may make that sound; it really isn’t. It’s actually interesting to see, considering you never know where it’s going to go next, in terms of story and tone. And even though not all of it fits right in the way you’d expect, it’s still fun for that aspect alone.
Other than problems with tone and pace, Bay still seems to be having fun here and I was glad. When this movie wants to be wild and crazy; it’s a blast of fun. You never know where it’s going to go, where it’s going to end up, and what these crazy mofos are going to try next. Well, that is unless you don’t already know the story beforehand. If you do, then you’re sort of left out a bit of all of the fun, but not fully. If you like watching a movie, not having a darndest clue what the people involved are going to show you next; then this may be the trip for you. It has the humor; it has the action; it has the performances; and it has the fun-feel to it, but you still can never seem to get past the fact that almost everybody involved with this movie was on some sort of coke or something. More strange, than it is crazy, but still interesting to watch. I’m not sure if I’m selling this movie well at all, but don’t be worried because it is a good movie; just a very odd one at that.
But if you really want to see something insane: then, just watch these performances. Seriously, every cast member seems like they are either high off of their asses, or having the time of their lives. Sometimes, even both at the same time. Marky Mark is as fun and electric as he has ever been as Daniel Lugo, “the mastermind” (use that term very loosely) behind the whole wheeling and dealing operation. Wahlberg’s manic energy really plays well with this character because it allows him to be a nut-job, just about the whole time. He’s a guy that likes to poke fun at himself, even when he is doing curls for the girls with 50 lb.’s in each hand. It’s hard for a guy to be sexy, charming, and self-knowingly goofy at the same time, but Wahlberg pulls it off perfectly, as usual.
Then, there’s Dwayne Johnson as his fellow-partner, Paul Doyle. If anybody seems to be having any bit of fun in this movie: it’s The Rock (whoops!). Rocky has always been one of these guys that’s been wanting to break free for the longest time and it’s just so great to see him do it now, do it loud, and best of all: do it proud. Doyle’s character is a funny one because he’s constantly on either side of the fence. He’s a holy man that’s been sober for awhile and believes in the higher-power, yet, is all caught up in these deadly-shenanigans that he can’t make up his mind as to whether or not he wants to partake in it or not. But at other times, the character totally loses his idea of sensibility and is just balls to the walls from there on. That’s where Johnson really exceeds well, and kept me laughing my ass off, even when the movie didn’t seem to be working with any funny material whatsoever. Just watching him act like an ass and make fun of himself as well, was funny enough to give me joy and laughter. Sort of like Christmas Day, but instead of presents; it’s just some roided-out freak who likes to make goofy faces. Goofy faces that worked, so I guess I can’t talk too much shite.
Even though he isn’t advertised all that much as partaking in the crimes, Anthony Mackie is also here for the wild ride and is good for what he has to do to keep up with these two. Not only can he flex-up when need be, but he can also joke around about his look and style as well, which is always needed. However, it’s abundantly clear that he does not have as much material to work with, like Dwayne and Marky Mark do. That still doesn’t mean that he isn’t funny or entertaining to watch; because he is. It’s just that the guy’s jokes are more obvious and more about him being black than anything else. Hopefully, Captain America 2 will start getting him some finer-roles like he deserves.
Other actors that show up in this seem to be having fun, even if they are as nutso as you can get. Tony Shalhoub plays the mean and cruel rich guy that these body-builders decide to target and is good because he always stays funny, without ever drawing out the sympathy card. We don’t like his character and we don’t really care for him, which was sort of the point. That’s why it’s so fun to see Shalhoub just take a role like this, and revel in the unsympathetic-nature of it. Ed Harris also shows up as the detective that helps him out and is good, but it’s Ed Harris. What else is there left to say? But trust me, there’s plenty more where that came from and they are all just as wacky as the leads. And I also have to give credit to Michael Bay for giving Rebel Wilson a chance to be funny again, even if she lost all of my respect after last Sunday. Lord, I still feel the pain from that.
Consensus: Most of Pain & Gain is meant to be seen, just for the sake of bragging-rights and pure experience. But with that said, it is still fun for what you see with it’s random bits of comedy, drama, crime, and action, all rolled into one piece of wild popcorn fare. Also, it’s a Michael Bay film with no robots. So just be happy dammit!
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Nice to know that Big Ben can still have the ladies come crawling to him.
Neil (Ben Affleck) travels to France and meets with a woman named Marina (Olga Kurylenko). They instantly connect, fall in love, and plan what their future may just look like, if they decide to take the next step. They actually do decide to take said next step and finds out that it’s a bit harder than they thought, so therefore, Marina moves back to France. This leaves Neil all alone, until he meets up with an old sweetheart of his (Rahcel McAdams) and relives the young lust he once had. However, Marina’s not gone like Neil suspects. Oh, and Javier Bardem is a priest that’s begging to lose his faith, slowly but surely. Can’t forget about that charming Spaniard.
Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a total and complete devotee to the Church of Malick, I still stand by the fact that I am a fan of his movies, and consider them (as most people), some of the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen in my life. Granted, I don’t go to museums all that often, but with a career that spans over 30 years and only consists of six movies; the guy’s made a name for himself and a name I get very hyped-up for, whenever I see in print. Because let’s think about it: a newly-released Terrence Malick movie isn’t just a regular, everyday movie-going experience that you can catch at your own leisure, it’s a freakin’ event! This rarely ever happens and it’s time to just let it all soak in, and enjoy until he decides to take another twenty-year break. Don’t you dare, Terry. Don’t you even.
No matter what may be going on here with the story (and trust me, I’ll get on top of that in a jiffy), the visuals are always as gorgeous and jaw-dropping as you can get. I love how Malick starts the film off with the beauty and aura of France, and then ends it all in the rusty and fucked-up place that is known as, Oklahoma. Malick is still able to draw natural beauty from these landscapes and give Oklahoma some key opportunities for post cards, but the way that he is able to convey the emotion of a dying land that seems to be dissolving beneath everybody’s feet, and combine that with the story itself really took me for a surprise. It may sound crazy because I know Malick can do stuff like this and totally slap me silly, but he really found a way to make this flick always worth watching, no matter what other type of junk was going on here. So, needless to say, this is a movie that deserves to be seen on the big-screen if not at the movies, then just a big-screen in your house. Either way, see it with a large-lens, volume-up, and the lights dimmed-down. Let the Malick-spell come over ya.
Now, despite all of my oogling and boogling about the beauty of this film, this is one of the key instances where Malick goes on a little too far with his view. I’ve always noticed when Malick has gotten a bit too into his own shit in recent time, but it’s never gotten to me so bad because of everything else that’s been able to distract me. However, there isn’t all that much to distract me other than beautiful visuals, and to be honest: that damn aspect can only go so far! Eventually, my simple-mind is going to need a compelling story, with interesting characters, and smart messages about the world we live in or something along those lines. I can tell that Malick knows what a simple-mind wants and at least tries to make some of that magic happen, but doesn’t go deep enough. Let me explain….
The problem with this movie is that the story doesn’t do much to bring us in. Yes, it’s an easy story about two people who fall in love, decide that they want to be together, but then realize that there’s more at stake than just love: there’s life! But an easy story don’t mean jack shit, unless you have a way of making us connect to the story and the characters that inhabit. That’s the biggest problem Malick runs into here. Seeing as this is Malick’s movie, and everybody plays by his rules and his ways, everybody in the movie seems to sort of be second-nature to what the man can show just by using a camera. Once again, all fine and all considering the visuals are as naturally-beautiful as they come, but they only go so far.
The characters don’t get enough attention payed to them, but even when they do; they don’t seem to really use it well. That’s no insult against the talented-actors either, that’s just a problem with the script. The movie paints these characters as walking caricatures of what it should be like for people to be in love, to be sad, to feel conflicted, to feel angry, and so on and so forth. It doesn’t really seem to get any deeper than that, and even though there are a couple of key scenes that may change your opinion on what I just said; they don’t do much for the final-product.
The subplot with Javier Bardem as the Spanish priest that’s losing his faith is the one instance where you might change your mind for the sole reason that it has no reason to be here. I mean yes, Bardem is great in it and definitely makes all of his screen-time worth it, mostly because it’s all dedicated to him just walking around, looking sad, and chatting around with random peeps (most of which seem to be non-actors), but he serves no purpose to the story. Everything here is about the love and the feelings that go with it, and then he shows up to start babbling on about God and keeping your faith and whatnot, and it seems random. That, and also just another excuse for Malick to throw in another one of his “God references” that he loves to use so very, very much.
After awhile, all of the same stuff that we have seen done one hundred times before in Malick’s other flicks, and also within the first ten minutes of this movie, becomes an annoyance. It’s still beautiful to gaze at, but the story goes into places that don’t seem reasonable or even worth the watch. We see a bunch of people just mope-around, look as if they are sad about something, or in heavy-thought, a little bit too much. Instead of emotion so damn much, I just wish that one of these characters would actually stand and speak-up for once. But instead, they just all stood there, touching their faces and arms, as the sun rose behind them. That right there, is a scene that’s repeated many, many times throughout this movie so if that’s not your type of thing: good luck. For me, it wasn’t total hatred, but it didn’t make me happy either. I’m just a simple dude, man!
The fact that most of this movie is all in narration, means that it takes away from the actors on-screen. Well, all of them except for one gal. That’s right, Olga Kurylenko is surprisingly the best out of this whole cast. Her character, Marina, is annoying as she’s always craving and needing attention, whenever she’s not prancing and dancing around like five year old, but her performance is exceptional. Kurylenko really captures that fully-free spirit that this character needed to have to work and rather than making her just one, Manic Pixie Dream cliche after another, she keeps it going and gives us depth, heart, and emotion to her. Kurylenko has never really done much to surprise the hell out of me in the past (not much of a track-record to begin with), but she really showed me some promise here and let’s hope that it continues to go on and on, until Malick decides to cast her again.
The other two in this cast, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, really are just here for window-dressing. For the latter, that doesn’t matter since her character and subplot seems so superfluous it’s almost hilarious. But, as for the former, that’s a bit ridiculous considering that the movie is supposed to revolve around him and whatever the hell he does with his weenie. Affleck has about five or six lines where he actually gets to sit-up and speak for himself, but it’s not enough considering we don’t give a shit for the guy and we never find out why the hell him and Marina are having such a problem being together. Of course Marina wants to venture out into the world, but what the hell is bugging him so much? It’s rarely ever explained and by the end of it; I just didn’t really see the use in them being together, so much so that I just wished a plot-twist would come around the corner and Bardem and Kurylenko would be boning out of nowhere. Hey, Malick has never been one for conventionality so I wouldn’t throw that idea totally out the window.
Consensus: Terrence Malick always has a knack for capturing the natural and inner beauty of this land that we call Earth, which is surely evident in To the Wonder the whole run-time, but can only do so much to satisfy one’s needs when a weak story, irrational characters, and random transitions between characters and character’s stories, begin to plague what could have been a very emotional and compelling experience, courtesy of the master of filming grass.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
People get old. Even hippies.
Jim Grant (Robert Redford) is living the life that most men of his age should. He has a job, he has a kid, he has responsibility, and he seems to have no problems. That all turns inside-out once a fellow acquaintance of his (Susan Sarandon) turns herself over to the police for a crime she and others committed almost 30 years ago. Grant may or may not have been apart of it, but before he can even turn himself clean, young and reckless journalist (Shia LaBeouf) decides that it’s his time to shine and accidentally “outs” Grant as a former member of an underground movement that had something to do with the death of a bank-teller, those fateful 30 years ago.
This reminds me of one of those thrillers that should have been made, and probably would have made more sense in the 70′s. Due to the fact that a lot of this movie has to do with some hippie-talk, paranoia, and discussions of “the man”, it only seems right that a certain generation that had everything to do with those themes, would be the perfect time for a story like this to take place. However, that’s not where Redford decides to take it and instead, shows that everybody gets old, age-wise, but their beliefs still stay the same. That’s right, we’re most likely going to be stuck with hipsters for the rest of our lives. Hip, hip…..
Anyway, what I’m trying to get at with this movie is that it seems like the aging (and it’s showing) Robert Redford likes to direct movies and better yet; likes to direct movies about something political. Obviously Lions for Lambs was a crack-pot of ideas, thoughts, and themes that he loved to shout at everybody, as if they didn’t already think war killed people, but hey, that’s all fine and dandy once you get underneath it all. This movie is probably less concerned with politics, and more about actually being a thriller, that has a lot of people speaking in code, talking about the past, and running-away from the policia. In that aspect of the film: ehh, it’s okay. But to be honest, going into a movie like this, with the cast he has assembled (seriously, just look at it!!), and knowing that it’s coming from the grips of Redford, you can’t expect greatness. Just expect a good time that is a perfect time-killer, and leave it at that.
However, that’s not to say that all is forgiven in the end. Nope, there are still a bunch of problems with this flick and that’s the fact that most of this just is not all that interesting. There are about three story-lines going on here at once, with one being the most interesting, the other starting off strong and then running it’s course, and then the last one ending up on being “ridiculous”. The most interesting story-line of the whole movie is definitely LaBeouf’s journalist character as he leaves his conscience on the side, for the hopes that he will make it big and get his story on the front of the paper. This was not only the most interesting because of where it went (in and out of the newsroom), but because LaBeouf is so good in it.
I’ve always stood-up for LaBeouf in most movies that he’s done in the past and even though I will admit, the guy surely isn’t lovable and probably isn’t all that easy to work with, I still have to say that he’s very good when it comes to putting himself into a role, and making it work. This is that role where he totally surprised me and from what I read: others as well. LaBeouf is perfectly-cast because he uses that cocky, brash-attitude of his that we see used so many times whether it be actually in a movie or on the streets, and show how it can affect one person when they work and when they aren’t working. I’ll admit that the ending for this character felt a little bit half-hearted with it’s attempt to give him a heart and soul (journalists have none), but LaBeouf keeps his head above water and makes this his movie. But when the movie moves away from him, then it gets bad. Not too bad, but bad nonetheless.
Redford is still a good actor and has that wit and charm that makes him a likable guy to watch on-screen, but he’s pushing 76, which means the guy’s getting old. Also, that means that it’s getting a bit harder and harder to believe that a guy of his age and his build, could really last a whole flick where he’s out-running the cops, Bourne-style. Out-smart them? Sure, I could believe that. But running away from them every chance he gets? Eh, there’s only so much I can and will believe in. That whole aspect where he’s on the run starts off interesting, but loses steam as quickly as Redford does when he’s running those laps (heyyo!), but it’s not the worst story-line in the whole movie.
Out of the three, the worst story-line I’d have to say was the one where every single person that Redford’s character in this movie talked to, talked about the old days and never seemed to get a grip with reality and realize that they aren’t young, whippersnappers anymore. Every person that he reconnects with, either has grown-up, or totally stayed in the same motto of life where the man got them down and they did everything for a valuable reason. Whether or not Redford actually believes in this hippie bullshit is totally beyond me, but I can only hope not, considering it’s so preachy, so stupid, and just so annoying to hear, especially coming out of the mouths of such old folks. Not saying that old people don’t have these same opinions or beliefs or anything, just saying that it’s a bit hard to believe in.
Having a ensemble cast like this, however, may spice things up a bit to the point of where it’s not so bad to listen to these characters speak their “government speech” anymore. Peeps such as Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, and Sam Elliot show up to do their thang, but so do some ladies like Brit Marling, Anna Kendrick, and Julie Christie. Everybody in this movie is good with what they do, no doubt about it, and it’s not like they were needed for anything else other than a couple of scenes to do on the weekend, just to help out their old pal, Robbie (I hope that’s what his friends call him). For that matter, it’s fun and exciting to watch, especially since you know that there is always another welcome face, just right around the corner waiting to be spotted. Nice to know that Robbie also still has some pull with stars nowadays, as well.
Consensus: It may not always work, and is downright ridiculous at times, The Company You Keep is still an entertaining movie that has the well-acted ensemble to back it up, as well as a story that takes a couple of twists and turns you don’t really see coming, regardless of how how much you can or cannot take it in and believe it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Tom Cruise may not be able to dunk a basketball, but he can save the world, right?
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a lone soldier who lives in the clouds above a post-apocalyptic Earth after a war made the surface uninhabitable. He lives a steady life where all he does is repair drones, in hopes that they will stop any hostile aliens from taking over and destroying the world that Harper now knows and has come to terms with. But things take a turn for the worse once he encounters a crashed space pod with a mysterious woman survivor (Olga Kurylenko), who makes him question everything he knows.
You can’t help but feel pity for most of the sci-fi movies that come out nowadays. It seems as if they aren’t taking something from a piece of sci-fi literature that they read as a big-glassed, tike, they are taking something from another form of media, whether it be intentional or unintentional. That’s what makes so many sci-fi movies hard to follow along with and get wrapped up into because nine times out of ten: it’s been done before. That was my exact problem with Oblivion: been there, done that, 1,ooo times over.
The fact that this movie isn’t anything to scream about in the writing-department is in no way a hit against director Joseph Kosinski. If anything, it’s Kosinski who saves this movie with his inspired-vision and dedication to making every single scene pop-out at you, as if you’ve never seen anything like it, although you have. That’s where this film gets you, but that’s where Kosinski keeps his feet moving and at a steady-pace too. While the film looks beautiful and never seems to look at all fake (IMAX is pretty glorious), the story’s beginning is what really got me because it wasn’t what I was expecting from seeing the trailers, advertisements, and even the numerous posters.
Rather than making this a movie about Tom Cruise, going around, and shooting the hell out of aliens/unknowns that inhabit his dying-land, it’s more about the pace and the mood. It sets you into this cold, dark world where everything is beginning to die down and sooner than you know it; the Earth will be nothing more but it’s own worst enemy. By that, I mean that it will eventually dissolve into nothing. That’s the sad, but true reality that these two characters, Jack and Victoria, are left with and to see them come to terms with that made me feel as if I was watching a different movie than I was promised. Yes, there is Tom Cruise; there is CGI; there are robots; and yes, there are some weird creatures on Earth, but is this a drama I see? I thought so. That is, until I realized that I spoke a little too soon.
The first instance I knew where this movie had a problem was when it’s first batch of twists and turns came, and I had no idea what to think of them except for, “unoriginal.” That’s all it seemed like and without delving into spoiler-territory, the places this movie goes with it’s plot shenanigans don’t really add to anything, except more and more predictability. Once Jack gets to see these warrior humans, he finds out more about himself, his species, and what he was put on this Earth to really do, but none of it seems to make any sense, yet, have us care in the least bit.
I mean, I could go on and on about how none of this plot really seemed to make a lick of sense, but I don’t care too much about that. The story made fine enough sense to where I wasn’t scratching my head too much and to where I wasn’t looking around to see if anybody else was, neither. It was fine the way it was, but I just didn’t have any feeling with it at all. And that word, “feeling”, is exactly what this flick was building on. It tried to go into spots where we were supposed to feel compelled and hit back in our seats, but those moments never came. The movie just sort of went through the motions, gave us sci-fi movie convention after convention, and went on it’s way, like we expected it to from the trailers, advertisements, and posters.
See, the beginning really screwed the rest of this movie up because it makes you feel like you’re in for a somber-look at a dystopian future. But once it gets going, the movie dives into more action-y elements that are fun to watch, but feature no human-connection involved. When I see an action scene go down, I want to feel raw and terrifying emotion as if I was right there, cheering these characters on for fighting the good fight and hoping that they come out alive. However, that movie didn’t have that. It had alright-looking action scenes, but with nothing underneath it. All flair, but no substance. And that would have been fine, if the flair really kept itself going but after awhile; I stopped caring and just wanted more with my story. Now is that too much to ask?
But no matter how shitty the script can be (and definitely is), you got to give some credit to Tom Cruise for at least taking a step by deciding to take this material and make it his. Love him, or hate him, Cruise is a bonafide movie star, and an action one, at that. Cruise is good here as Jack because he gives him a lot of charm and likability that makes us feel like he’s one of those guys that knows it all, what to do, and how to do it, yet, is also just like us in where he doesn’t believe everything around him is really happening, and has the nice-enough soul to realize what’s right and what’s wrong. Of course the guy hits some holes on the way, but Cruise keeps him grounded in reality, where a film doesn’t seem to want that.
Playing the two gal pals of his this time around are Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko, who are both good with what they are asked on to do, but nothing more than that. Some scenes where they have to be more than the “romantic love-interest” are fine, but they aren’t called on to do many of those scenes, so it’s rather useless, really. What was really useless in a movie like this is not only having Morgan Freeman in a supporting role, but even going so far as to advertise him like he’s a big part of your movie, when in reality: the dude only gets about 15 minutes or so of screen-time. Yes, THAT Morgan Freeman! Don’t let me fool you into thinking Morgan isn’t good with what he’s called on to do here, because he is; but it just feels like a waste of a big name, for a role that serves no real purpose other than to be the bearer of good news (or bad, depending on the type of person you are). The rest of the cast isn’t really all that filled with many people, but that doesn’t matter because this isn’t the type of film that’s too concerned with that. They just want to show you shiny, futuristic thingy-majigs, blow up and blow other shit up in the process. Then again, it is a sci-fi movie so what else could you expect? But seriously, don’t answer that. Or else we’ll have another four paragraphs to go.
Consensus: Kosinski’s direction is beautiful and always a sight to gaze at, but the rest of Oblivion can’t sustain his look, and drops beneath his feet with a weak screenplay, no emotional connection to anything that’s happening, and a bucket-list of cliches and conventions I think I speak for everyone when I say; we are tired of seeing used, over and over again in sci-fi flicks.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Just don’t kill people. End of story.
Two British pals, Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley), meet-up and decided that they both need something to do, need some money, and need to get their hands a bit dirty because they can’t handle being away from guns, weapons, and violence for too long. They decide to take a couple off odd-jobs going around and killing certain people, but some of it gets skewered as time goes along. There’s certain complications and confusions that come to base and that’s when all hell breaks loose, for both their personal and professional lives.
It may be hard to say this without most of you already having done the task of seeing this by now, but if you haven’t seen the movie, just know this: know absolutely nothing about this movie going in. For the rest of this review, I’m going to try and be as damnably vague and strange as possible, but just remember that it’s all for you peeps out there. You should all be grateful you have a nice guy like me, writing the movie reviews that I do.
What makes this movie so different and so original in it’s way, is that it isn’t exactly what you expect it to be. Is it a thriller about two dudes going around a hacking-off people? Sort of. Is it a human-drama about two guys who have problems in their life, and need to get by them all, simply by taking hit-man jobs? Sort of. Is it a horror movie that has something weird under-lining everything else? Once again, I say sort of. It’s one of those movies that isn’t one thing, and instead, plays it’s wild-card and just goes all over the boat, but in a good way, mind you.
Writer/director Bean Wheatley seems like a very skilled dude in terms of how good he is at actually being able to make all of these changes and combinations of genre’s and moods. First of all, the mood throughout the whole film is consistent. And even dare I say it, probably the most consistent thing about it. You never know exactly what the fuck is going with these characters, their issues, and what exactly is bringing them to do the bad and terrible shit that they do decide to do, but you know it’s something eerie. You know there’s a bolt or two loose in one of their heads, and wondering when the next person is going to snap and let it all out, is what will really keep you on-edge.
But it’s not even just the characters that really get you freaked-out by how strange they can be; it’s just the whole story itself. As soon as you find out that something is awry with their plans and that these guys can’t get their blood-money right away, you automatically know that not everything is what it seems. Even the people that these characters meet and have conversations with on a daily-basis aren’t the type of people you think or believe in that you can trust. You know that there’s something “up” about them, and therefore, you’re further and further left in the dust of what’s actually going on, what these characters are thinking right now at the certain moment, and most importantly, what the hell is going to happen next.
The idea that you have no clue in your right mind of what’s going to happen next, how, when, and where, is the type of steam this movie continues to build-on. As that mysteries continues, you’re idea of suspense gets more and more hyped-up and once that ending comes, you have no idea what to make of the story you just saw. Once again, I’m going to go into this next part with as much vagueness as I can, but just be warned: I may set-off a couple of fire alarms. Just be ready.
By the time the ending hits, I honestly had no idea what the fuck just happened. I sat, I thought, I read the paper, I checked my e-mail, watch some YouTube videos, and then decided to write this review. I though to myself, “What the hell does all of this strange shit mean, and exactly why has it happened to these characters?” I continued to think and I just gave up and realized that it was just one way for Wheatley to mess with us even more. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t in any way, shape, or form, think what happens in the end is a pigment of one of these dude’s imaginations, but something didn’t feel right to yours truly.
Was it scary? Hell yeah! Was it shocking? You bet your ass! Will I ever forget it again? SADLY, no. The fact that the ending is freaky and fucks with your mind more than the rest of the film preceding it, is a credit to Wheatley’s direction and the way he is able to set everything up. However, something just didn’t touch me in the right way where I felt like this was the way the story needed to end. It’s a slightly-bit too over-the-top, too crazy, and a bit too ridiculous. There’s a couple of hints and clues as to why this ending would seem the least-bit plausible, but once I got thinking about it and actually realized what I just saw; the lines didn’t connect. By all means, give it a look yourself and come up with your own conclusions, but just don’t expect it to all make sense. Especially after the first time. Or even maybe after the second, and maybe the third. But after that, you may come up to your own ideas, and also may have to call a psychiatrist.
Thankfully, though, the characters are at least well-written and more than well-acted to make up for these slight, but noticeable hiccups in the story. Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley are both good as the two best-friends who hang out and kill people for money and sometimes fun, but it’s strange because their characters are so different in many ways. Maskell’s is a total fire-ball that needs to be acting violent in one way or another, and even though he obviously loves his wife and kid, he still can’t help to be mad and angry at them for one thing, and then another, and then another, and then another. Whereas Smiley’s character is all cool, calm, collective, and very funny in the way that he just goes about life with a smile on his face and without an ounce of worry in the world. Both of them do get into fights, and heck, even brawls every once in awhile as well, but they still love each other and at the center of all this insane and crazy shite going on; they are still there to talk, to hang-out, and appreciate each other’s company as much as they beat the shit out of each other, too.
Consensus: Kill List is one of those movies that is weird, strange, mysterious, and always chilling in the way it’s plot moves and how everything happens, but something doesn’t quite feel right by the end where all of a sudden shit goes crazy, without much reason or rhyme. Still jaw-dropping to watch, but you may be scratching your head a bit too much after it’s all said and done.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
If you guys could also check out the extra page I have up top, that would be extra cool beans. Thanks!
I think big brother Ben may be a whole lot nicer now.
Sheriff Deputy Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) has a bunch of problems. Woman problems. Law enforcement problems. An ever-growing pile of murder victims in his West Texas jurisdiction. However, he gets so caught-up with one of his victims, that it throws him a curve to the point of where he’s getting closer and closer to being found out. It’s only a matter of time until he loses total control.
Serial killer movies are hard to do. Sometimes, they can be lovable right from the start (American Psycho). While other times, they can totally miss their mark and be something you’d much rather not waste your time in watching (Mr. Brooks). This falls somewhere in between.
This is a film directed by Michael Winterbottom, a guy who seems all over the place when it comes to his films with comedic picks like 24 Hour Party People, to soft-core porno flicks like 9 Songs, and then to dark drama’s like A Might Heart. Basically, this guy has no real genre and that’s pretty neat. He doesn’t have any real sense of distinctive style or look, but he brings a lot of zealous-energy to everything he chooses, it’s almost too hard to talk bad about anything that he does. But that’s also why I liked this movie because he brings something atmospheric and moody to it all. He definitely has the perfect feel for the dark, hot American West because he shows it in such a noir style that really pulls you in from the start. There is a story to be told here, but this is more all about one dark, sinister trip into the mind of a psycho where everything starts off bad, goes to worse, gets better, and then just gets even more worse than before. Great job from Winterbottom, as he definitely makes up for the movie’s big faults.
Those big faults I’m talking about, lie within the story here. The story actually starts off pretty strong because you feel like you know where it’s going to go and build-up from there, but the problem is that the story isn’t as interesting as you may have mapped it out in your head. Some parts are cool and interesting once we see inside the mind of our closet killer, but whenever that doesn’t happen, the film focuses on how Lou tries to hide away from all of the accusations that are being thrown at him and curiosities he can smell off of everybody he’s around. This isn’t nearly as interesting as the stuff that goes on inside of his head and instead of being thrilling and unpredictable, the actual mystery tale is just there to provide a story for our lead.
Now, to my real problem with this film. In case you haven’t already heard about this flick: this flick is really, really fucked up. Without getting into any spoiler area, two disturbing acts of violence happen to two main characters here and the one thing that really got me here was that the camera never once pans away from it. In today’s world of movie violence, most stuff doesn’t phase me or even get to me because 9 times out of 10; it’s usually just shock value, done for the sake of shock value. That’s never worked on me and probably never will but the violence here feels real and needed to enhance the story, as if it almost pertains to the story and the way this guy feels and thinks. However, I think that’s my biggest problem with this flick.
I can’t really say that I hold anything against this film for showing me some violence that was disturbing, but I can say that it definitely made me think differently about it all because those were the only things left in my mind about this film. It’s some hard stuff to swallow, and as good as the rest of the film may be, I couldn’t help but keep on bringing my mind back to those violent scenes. It’s not like it doesn’t fix well with everything else, it just stuck in my mind more than all else happening. Still, have to give Winterbottom the benefit of the doubt for not panning away once during these scenes and making us actually see the brutality of these grim scenes. On the other hand, I think it also got to me after awhile and may have been more memorable than the actual flick itself. Good for some movies; not good for this.
Actually, he second most memorable aspect of this flick would probably have to go to Casey Affleck and his amazing performance as Lou Ford. It’s obvious, right from the start, that Lou has some pretty fucked up ideas in his head but somehow, Affleck is able to make that sexy and interesting through it all. Affleck doesn’t really look like the kind of dude you could put in the role of a closeted maniac, but I think that’s why he works so well here because he’s able to be subtle about his emotions and feelings throughout the movie, but also totally show how vicious he can be when he has to turn on the “crazy meter”. Affleck has never been that actor that people have been feeling the total and complete need to see in movies, but here, he demands your undivided attention and devotion, even when his character is just sitting there, thinking of who to hack-up next. Lou Ford is a great character to watch and makes the film a whole lot better, mainly because of Affleck’s kick-ass performance. He surely has come a long way since being “Big Ben’s little bro”.
Also, I was surprised to see Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson in some pretty down-and-dirty roles that I usually wouldn’t see myself watching them in. But what was even more of a surprise was how good they actually were. They both play Ford’s main ladies and each show a different side to his love, and both work very well. Been awhile since the last time I’ve seen them actually do something worth recommending so I have to give them some love and kudos right here and now. Oh, and there’s a pretty gnarly Bill Pullman cameo here as well. Can’t ever forget about that dude.
Consensus: With a dark and grimly style to make everything moodier and strong performances from the cast, mainly a terrifying Affleck, The Killer Inside Me feels like it has all the right ingredients for a dark and sinister trip in the head of a maniac, but it’s over-shadowed by two appalling scenes of violence and the story doesn’t really grab you, unless its focusing on Affleck’s character.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Makes me ponder if all of those Jim Morrison death-tales are true. Hitchin’ a ride to France! See ya soon.
Rodriguez is an artist’s name none of you common-folk may know (hell, I don’t even know), but if you go to South Africa, they’ll tell you everything about him. However, everything except where he is, who he is, and just if he’s alive or not. This is a documentary where we not only talk about his past, where he came from, what he did, and why he has remained so obscure over the years, but whether or not this guy is able to be found or not. Just watch and see the results for yourself.
I’m a huge music fan, but I never, ever knew who the hell Rodriguez was. Before I started crying, opening-up my Spotify account, and start listening to all of that person’s albums, from beginning-to-end to know what all of the fuss was about, I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t alone considering he sold about six copies of his first album in America. However, on the other side of the planet in South Africa, that’s a totally different story. Not only is the man referred to as a legend there, but the guy was banned from regular radio-play as his promiscuous lyrics were apparently too much for the South African-government that was also going through Apartheid as well. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the simple fact that the guy made millions and millions off of this record, but yet, has no idea of it whatsoever. That’s where this story really kicks in and we get to discover just where this man is, who he is, and why he walked away from it all.
Right off the bat, you can really tell that these filmmakers not only respect their subject, but idolize him as well. So much is made about him before they even get to the tracking-shite, as we hear about famed-stories of him playing music, getting noticed, recording, doing concerts, supposedly killing himself and getting away from it all. This is all interesting as it made me feel as if I was really hearing about one guy in particular, or just some legend that everybody loved and made some pretty awesome music (song is still in my head). After awhile, I did realize that this was just one person in particular that these peeps were all talking about, but the ride didn’t just end there.
The next part of this documentary was tracking the guy and it put me on a real roller-coaster not knowing if they were ever going to find him and if they were, what type of mental state would he be in. It was cool to see all of these interviews where certain people would talk about where they think he is, why they think it, and how others can search for him themselves, which interested me because they find him just through looking at one of his lyrics where he actually mentions an area in Detroit. Now, I never thought that they would go this far, but apparently they really wanted to and thought it was worth it all! Can’t say I argue with it all that much after seeing the movie, but still, something is still lingering in my mind about it.
Okay now, before I jump into all of the wrong and terrible stuff about this movie, let me just keep on going with the goodies. The subject of Rodriguez because not only is he one of those obscure artists that has his own following, but because as time continues on and the adventure builds up and up, we get to understand learn more about this dude and what is so significant about him and his life of music. We hear so many people throw air up the dude’s ass, but we never fully understand it or hear it for that matter. Then, we go to South Africa where we see this guy’s legend take ahold and give hope to a bunch of people that needed it. It was cool to see that music could still keep people alive and well, even in the days of the Apartheid.
Just the whole idea that there was this one musical-icon that so many people loved and cherished, would all of a sudden, get up, and decide to leave it one day and never be found really surprises the hell out of me. It seems that in today’s day and age that staying completely out of the lime-light and being able to get away with it, is almost a ludicrous-idea, but the man was able to get away with it and from what I think now; probably still is. Just so cool to see where this movie goes, how it goes to where it does, and where it ends up. However, that’s the problem: where it ends up.
Everything that leads up to the initial meet-up with Rodriguez is awesome because the director and producers seem to love the hell out of Rodriguez so much, that they want to treat his real-life story with tender, love, care, and respect without offending him or anyone in the process. However, that’s the exact problem: they care TOO much about the guy. Once they finally get a chance to speak with Rodriguez, see what he’s been up to, and find out why he left the music world in the first place, the interview is so worthless and dry that I honestly had no idea if I was watching warm-ups or the actual interview itself.
For instance, once Rodriguez is told that he was a huge star in South Africa and how he feels about that, he just simply replies, “Uhmmm…well…I…uhmm…don’t know what to say to that.” Okay, that’s fine, it’s what he wants to say but that is all apparently fine with these creator’s heads. They think that’s a suitable answer and it will suffice. For any person who has ever watched a good documentary, you always know that the key to a good documentary about an interesting subject is being able to get all answers out of that person as much as possible. This interview here seemed to be all about heavy-petting and high-fiving all of the way.
Hey, I’m glad that these guys finally got to meet their hero and had a chance to chat about the dude’s life, but don’t hype it up for me so much to the point of where I’m getting the willies in my chair as to whether or not this guy’s going to be getting gnawed-on by some rottweilers or if he’s going to be same old hippie he once was before. It’s nice to know that the guy is still pleasant and happy in his latter-days, but it seems like there should have just been more with the interview with the man and more about him in general. Instead, most is just left on the cutting-room floor where we may be able to see it one day in the DVD-extras. Maybe. I don’t know if I’m going to go that serious looking for this.
Consensus: Searching for Sugar Man has exactly all of the right ingredients for a great documentary: interesting subject, mystery, suspense, and great look, feel, and sound. But it’s also missing the mist important ingredient of all that would have made it a “great” documentary, instead of just a “good” one: the hard-hitting questions we all wanted to hear answered, for better or worse.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
Thanks to Jackie, white men all around the world can now make excuses for missing their shot at the big-time.
Whenever you see a professional sports team on the television, most of the players are African Americans. Yeah, some whites here and there, but mainly African Americans, but it never, ever used to be like that. However, thankfully, one man had to knock that barrier down and that one man’s name was Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). Without him, we wouldn’t have blacks and whites playing aside each other in such sports as basketball, football, baseball, and so on and so forth, but it was harder than expected. That’s why Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) comes in to make sure that Jackie is above the people who criticize him and not stooping to their racist ways. Cause when in doubt: one must always listen to the guidance of Han Solo. Always.
Jackie Robinson’s story is an amazing and inspiring, but best of all; it’s all true. For so long now, we hear stories of these famous legends that have seemingly changed the world we live in, and yet, we always hear some stories about them whether they be a bit of a scandal or negative in anyway. That’s why it’s so nice and somewhat refreshing to get a story on a person that stayed true to himself on, and off the field. Not saying that Robinson was a saint-like person 24/7, but given what we know about him through books, interviews, and videos; the man was a wonderful that broke down color barriers for us all.
It’s such a wonderful person and story, that it’s honestly a real wonder to myself as to why it’s taken Hollywood so long to jump on this man’s story, and give him the biopic treatment. I mean, there was some B-movie in where he starred as himself, but from what I know so far: no movie has been made about Jackie’s life. That’s where writer/director Brian Helgeland comes and changes that all up. Not like Jackie changed the world of sports, but you see what I mean.
What I liked most about Helgeland’s approach was that the guy focuses on Jackie, his life, and the way he plays baseball, but doesn’t allow it to get too corny to the point of where it’s almost insincere. Most sports movies that have to do with a figure in a certain sport that changed the way it was played or viewed as, usually get their image skewered in a way that makes them look as if they were the second-coming of Christ, with little to no flaws, and an incapability of saying/doing the wrong thing. However, this movie does not paint Jackie as that. From all that we know, the guy was a great person but he had problems coming to terms with the way the world treated him; he was constantly freaking out when people booed the hell out of him for being black; and he never got to share those heartfelt-experiences with his teammates, like they all did with one another. Nope, the guy was sort of a loner and seemed to be really upset by the way the world was looking at him, but he never really let it get to him fully.
That’s why I thought it was great to see this movie not just paint him as a person, but a kind and believable one at that. A lot of reviewers have been getting on this movie for not going any deeper into the psyche of Jackie Robinson and not exploring what really made him human, but I think that’s not the point of this movie. Granted, I would have liked to see some more development of Jackie, his home life with his gal-pal, and his troubled-times on the road, but those are all minor nit-picks in the grander scheme of things. The way that the movie handled Jackie’s story was a respectable one, but also a very honest one in where it shows us what this man had to go through in order to break down those barriers, and in the end: makes you see his legend even more.
So, with all of that said: is it an inspirational movie? Maybe the movie isn’t as inspirational as the true-life story is, but yeah, it still works. You feel for Jackie whenever he gets knocked-down and continues to get back up for more where you see him struggle by not being able to say a lick to anybody around him. For that alone, you really get behind the man but once he starts rackin’ up the points for his team and he really begins to turn on the skills; then it just gets better. After all of this, it becomes not only an entertaining baseball movie that has a great time with all of the hits, the runs, and the steals (in baseball terms at least), but a movie that takes it’s subject seriously and doesn’t feel the need to drop a bunch of gooey-tasting syrup down our throats. Some moments are like, but not all. And for that, I have to give Helgeland a crap-load of kudos for telling the story the way it was meant to be told, and not getting lost in the mix of conventionality. That could have easily happened, too. But thank the movie heavens that it didn’t.
Another smart-decision that Helgeland made as director was by actually casting an unrecognizable person as Jackie Robinson. And an even smarter-decision on his part, was getting a guy that actually pull the roll off perfectly. Chadwick Boseman is the name, ladies and gentleman, and it’s a name you should remember for awhile because he’s so great here, that it’s hard to imagine anybody else playing this role, without anybody in the crowd being able to get past the fact that it’s somebody we all recognize and can put our finger on immediately. Nope, not Boseman and what a find this guy truly was. Not only does he have the skills to make it seem like Jackie was a really nice guy at heart, but also have the chops to show us how much it really did take him to hold-back and not go all nutso on every a-hole around him. Just the look in his eyes would get me, and that’s the sign of a talented-actor at work. Maybe I’m selling him a bit too much here, but for me, I feel as if this guy’s going to get more and more roles as time goes on. And if not, oh well. Then he’ll just have to join the line of “promising, young black actors that never quite made it”. Right behind Rob Brown, of course.
Then, you go right-off the field and into the manager’s office where you find Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, in the type of role that you’d never, ever expect him to play, but he pulls off stunningly. Seriously, I thought that this was going to be one of those roles where an aging-star takes to stretch out his skills, but instead comes off like he’s trying too hard to make it seem like you don’t notice him, when we all do but that’s not this performance at all. If anything, this is probably Ford’s best role in a decade (yes, even better than this), because it finally seems like the guy is having the time of his life for once in awhile. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Ford actually take a role such as this, and just make it his own, but not without hiding himself underneath the character to where we can’t get past the fact that it’s “Indy in a bunch of make-up and a fat-suit”. Instead, we see Branch Rickey in his duck-like cackle, his huge eyebrows, and his business-like way of negotiating things. His story may seem a bit “dickish” considering his character is all about getting a black player on the team for money, but after awhile, we see more about this person that may surprise you. Not just because this person actually seems to have a heart and soul, but because it’s so surprising to see that Ford can still pull-off dramatic scenes that make you come close to crying. I didn’t shed a tear at all throughout this movie, but I came pretty damn close at one point and that’s all thanks to Ford.
The rest of the cast is pretty damn good too, even if they don’t have as much screen-time as Boseman and Ford. Lucas Black is great as Pee Wee Reese, one of the only Dodgers players that seemed to have a soul; Christopher Meloni seems like a perfect-fit as the strong, but understandable GM, Leo Durocher; John C. McGinley is awesome to see on the big-screen once again playing the Dodgers’ play-by-play commentator Red Barber, nailing every line and wit the man had to offer; and also be on the look-out for a relatively nice supporting performance from Ryan Merriman as Dixie Walker, one of the last players on the Dodgers who couldn’t get used to Jackie’s stay on the team. Name not ringing a bell, okay then, see if you recognize this. Oh, how time flies by.
Consensus: 42 isn’t the definitive-movie about Jackie Robinson’s life on, and off the field, but it’s still supported well by a perfectly-casted group of stars, a script that shows us the harsh realities of the man’s life, while also the bright spots of it as well, and also throw some inspiration at us. Not a home run by any means, but at least a ground rule double.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
If being put to sleep has the ability to get me laid, then hey, where do I sign and let the loving take a hold?
Simon (James McAvoy) works at a fine art auction, but also has a huge gambling problem that only gets worse when he needs the money the most. That’s when Frank (Vincent Cassel) decides to take him under his wing, get him involved with an art heist, and have Simon pay-off all of the debts he has to owe. Problem is, Simon not only messes up the job by losing the painting, but can’t remember where he last put it because of a severe-blow to his head. In order to gain his memory back, they hire hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) in hopes that she will bring back ideas and hints he may had once remembered from before. However, things aren’t as easy with Elizabeth once she gets involved and realizes that there is more at stake than just a painting and whole bunch of moolah. As usual, emotions and feelings have to get involved.
Trance isn’t, and definitely won’t be, the last flick to cover the idea of making the human-mind a setting for a thriller, but it still shows you what you can do when you have an age-old premise, and throw some fun and style in there for good measure. It’s sort of like Inception, if Chris Nolan liked leather nights with his wife; or Eternal Sunshine, if Joel and Clementine liked robbing art museums; or even The Matrix, where instead of fighting off dudes in suits and sun-glasses, they just had sex, ALL THE TIME. Take those three flicks, put a little sexiness in there for good measure, and top it all off with the style from Danny Boyle, and you got yourself a pretty decent, little thriller. However, this is Danny Boyle we’re talking about here, which means: shouldn’t it be better than just “decent”? Yerp, that’s what I thought.
It cannot be denied that Boyle doesn’t love playing around with genres and even testing himself in some way or form. No matter what the type of story he tackles, Boyle always finds something new to show us that he can do and pull-off with ease, but never having us forget that it’s a Danny Boyle movie through-and-through. His style is just that definitive, and what I liked about his direction here is that he always has something interesting to show us on-screen, even if the story isn’t what I’m speaking of. Colors show up randomly; thumping music continues to build up and up and away; and scenes that you wouldn’t expect to be beautiful, surprisingly are in a very artful kind of way. But at the fore-front of this movie is a story that likes to mess with your mind and that is exactly what Boyle does, and has a hell of a time doing.
Since most of this movie is dedicated to us never wondering what’s real, what’s a dream, or what’s all of this dude’s imagination, we are sort of left in the dark with wondering what’s going to happen next or what certain scenes do or do not mean. For most films from some directors, this would kill the audience and easily lose them; but Boyle is different. The guy seems like he really understands just what it’s like to throw an audience off of their game, bring them back down to the ground, and then throw them back in the air one last time before he lets it all come back, and repeat the same cycle over again. Because we never know what is true or isn’t, we are just left to think for ourselves, but Boyle continues to throw clues, hints, red herrings, and slight-foreshadowings at us to make us feel like we have the big-picture in the grasp of our palms. But we don’t, and that’s what has Boyle so happy. He never seems to lose his essence of fun and continues to build up tension, suspense, and mystery as this flick gets deeper and deeper into this dude’s mind, as well as it’s story. However, that’s the exact problem with this movie: it’s story.
Where this film goes all wrong is that it begins to get more and more serious as it trudges along, which wouldn’t have bothered me, if I actually cared for anybody in this movie. But that’s what the problem is: I just didn’t. I don’t know if it was because I was more involved with the story, the dream sequences, or the idea that I’m going to be stooped at the end of it all or what, but something was not fitting so well with me and these characters, and I think most of that problem comes from Boyle’s direction. You know, the very same direction that I’ve been praising for about first 1/3′s of this review. I know, I’m inconsistent. Bite me.
I think where Boyle loses himself is the idea that he can toy with us, the audience, have us believe something, and then throw something else at us, making us not exactly sure what it means or what this is, in the consideration of the rest of the entire story. Boyle loves doing that, but when it actually comes down to apples and oranges, making us care for these characters and finding out what’s really at-stake here: the guy loses control. He focuses way too much on the plot, the twists, the turns, and the happenings, rather than the actual characters that inhabit it and keep it ticking. You never feel like these are people you can easily get behind and even though they do get a few scenes, here and there, to where you feel like you see them for what they are, Boyle then continues on with a scene that’s just crazy or intense, and thus, we are lost on any type of character-development whatsoever. Once again, this would have been A-okay with me, had he not gotten so damn serious, and decided to make this a thriller that was more about humans, feelings, and their emotions, rather than people fucking around with one another, where guns and violence is the only solution to finding and figuring out the problem. And yes, in a Boyle flick, the latter aspect is totally possible and could have as well happened here; but Boyle digs a bit too deep, gets lost, and tries to go back the same way he came, only to have us confused in the process. Still, can’t talk too much shit on this guy because he might as well be the very same guy keeping the glue in-place.
The characters may not be fully-fleshed, but the cast still tries to make us forget about this fault. James McAvoy is good as Simon, the dude who’s mind is continuously fucked-with and does a fine job at showing us how confused and screwed-over a person can be when they don’t know what’s real, and what isn’t, but it doesn’t cut any deeper than that. McAvoy feels like he should be a tad bit crazier in this role to where we never know if he’s going to jump off a bridge, cry himself to sleep by eating a tub of ice cream and watching re-runs of Days of our Lives, or go bat-shit crazy and start blowing-off every mofo’s head off in sight. His character should have been that unpredictable in nature and in action, but McAvoy keeps him too grounded, to where we almost feel like we can calculate his every move. Not a good sign, especially when you have a character that could have been toying with us, as much as the director was.
The only character in this movie who seems to be doing any toying-around with our minds, perceptions, and emotions is Rosario Dawson as hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb. Dawson is good here because she uses that sweet, calming voice of hers to great-effect where she eases the tension and makes us feel like we are in a special place, where good things happen to good people, and everybody walks around with smiles on their face. Her character could have easily been the most-developed one of the bunch, but she even suffers because her character never seems to be on the right track of what to do, how to do it, and is constantly messing with other people. She tells people certain things that aren’t true, makes them think other things, and when all is said and done; seems like she’s the one with the upper-hand, totally going against her zen-like feel we see in the first couple minutes of her introduction. No matter what changes or transformations her character goes through, Dawson is always good, but I wish her character seemed more in control of her emotions and actions, especially when that said character is one that takes care of other’s emotions and actions.
Surprisingly, the most-developed and most-sympathetic out of this whole cast is Vincent Cassel as Frank, the head kingpin that just wants his money, his respect, and his freakin’ painting. Cassel is usually good in the stuff that I see him in, but is usually one-note where he is always bad, he’s always villainous, and always has a mean-streak that never seems humane in the least bit. He’s good at playing it, but it gets old after awhile, which is why I thought it would have been the same thing around again, in this flick. Thankfully, Cassel is given more to work with where we see his character’s true feelings and emotions come out and get a full-feel for the dude, as he seems like he could just change his ways, if he gets what he wants. Yeah, sounds a bit snobby, but hey; the guy’s worked too hard, for too long to not get what he ventured-out for in the first place. Cassel’s character is good and his performance is believable. Hopefully, just hopefully, this is a sign that the guy can play people with a soul and not the type of dude that bashes people’s heads in. Totally justified, but damn man. Scaring the shit out of me over here.
Consensus: Nowhere near Boyle’s best flick, especially considering what it is that we’ve seen from him in the past decade or so, but Trance is still him at his most-entertaining and most-pleasant where he toys with a genre we see and feel like we see so much of nowadays, plays with it’s conventions, and always keeps us guessing until the final scene.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!