About 20 years later and hell, I could make this movie off of my Mac.
A hip and cool computer programmer named Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer during a computer game. This is also where he interacts with various programs in his attempt to get back out but also make the computer program “nice and civilized” again.
Watching and reviewing old-school movies like this are so hard because you always have to take them with the grain salt, especially ones from the 80′s. You have to always expect the material to be cheesy, you have to always expect it to be dated, and you always have to expect it to not be as up-to-date with the times as you may be used. This movie is even harder to review, mostly due to the fact that nerds from all over the globe hail this as their wake-up call in life, and consider it one of the sci-fi greats, along up there with Star Wars and 2001. Sorry geek fan boys, not quite up there with those classics.
No matter what it is you may hear about this flick, whether it be good or bad, you always hear that this is just one of those flicks that changed the way computers affected a movie. For instance, back in the days before the summer ’82, computers and film didn’t really need each other, except if it was for a fully-animated movie that needed help moving the pictures and graphics along. Then comes along this movie and soon you start to see actual-people, perform in front of a live-stage that’s just filled to the core with special-effects and even though it may not look as beautiful and awe-inspiring as it may have then, it still really takes you awhile to realize, “Damn, this had to really fuck people’s minds when they saw it”.
Seeing an all-out, special-effects extravaganza like Avatar and remembering your first reactions after seeing that can only give you an idea of what people thought about after seeing this movie way back when, and it’s really impressive. Director Steve Lisberger definitely seemed like he had a real hunch in his back with everything he wanted to do, how he wanted to do it, and how he wanted it look in the final-cut, and for the most part; the guy succeeds big time. In the day and age we live in nowadays, films like these only get filled with more flashy-effects and added-on with an extra-dimension, but to see something as simple but cool as this, really brings you back to the days and gets you in the nostalgia-feeling, even if you were never born when it first came-out. Hell, this is my first-time seeing this flick and yet, I still feel the breeze of nostalgia hit me from the early-80′s. Ahh, those were the days…..I think.
Anyway, the special-effects aren’t as dated as I may make it think, they are actually pretty cool to view. I used to be a huge gamer, but recently have fallen off the wagon and found myself playing video-games around once or twice a year. To some of you out there who have hemmorhoids from all-nighters on XBOX live; you may be surprised. However, to some of you that are full-time critics that just love movies; this may not surprise you. Still, watching this made me feel like I was playing a video-game and a really fun, and retro-one at that. Some of the effects may not look as cool as you’d think, but there are still some scenes full of plenty of eye-candy and glamour to feast your eyes upon and whether or not you are a gamer; it doesn’t matter because you’ll still be able to appreciate what’s up on-screen and how Lisberger and his crew were able to create it. It’s very, very impressive, but sadly, this is just one of those cases where it’s all style and beauty, but no substance.
First of all, I had no idea what the hell was up with this story. In the beginning of the movie, I really tried to understand what the hell all of this “computer and technology talk” was all supposed to mean and as soon as I felt like it was translated to me, the film throws me for a loop and not only adds more confusing bits of language to the mix, but brings a piece of tension I never understood. I never fully got why Flynn was in this world and better yet, how, where, when, and how he was supposed to get out of it. To be brutally honest, I don’t think Lisberger cared about any of those details, either, because he seems a lot more concerned with the frequent scenes of running, chasing, brawling, and in what seems to be the most awesome game of dead-or-alive Frisbee. These scenes are all cool to see play-out with the type of visuals Lisberger has on-display, but seriously: what the hell does it all add up to?
Even worse, the film has little to no tension. Other than the cool game of Frisbee I just mentioned in that last paragraph, I never really found myself tense, on-the-edge-of-my-seat, or particularly revved-up with what was going on in the movie. Honestly, I was just watching and waiting for something other than the visuals, to take me by storm and make me feel as if I was really in the mode of playing a video-game. Instead, this ends-up being the lamest video-game ever and it’s even worse when the melodrama rears it’s ugly head in and makes everything seem so corny and dated, aka, exactly what I have come to expect from a sci-fi movie of the early 80′s.
And I know some of you out there may get a tad pissed-off at me and state that this is a movie that’s more about it’s look and feel, rather than the dialogue, but seriously: what sort of defense is that? But even if you weren’t on the film’s side of it’s “style-over-substance”-argument, you still have to admit that it doesn’t matter if a flick has a lame-o script, just as long as it has enough fun and entertainment to take my mind off the crappiness. However, this flick is not one of those and as much action there may have been in the first hour or so, it all starts to go away, in a slowly but surely manner, and rarely ever gain back the excitement it once has. No matter what negatives I may have to speak about this flick, it is still great to look at, but that’s not enough to take my mind off a shit-script of Lucas-proportions.
However, when you have a shit-script, you usually have shit-actors and in a way, that’s sort of the case here. Jeff Bridges plays Flynn and is a bunch of fun as the wacky and wild dude that gets sucked into his own world he enjoys to play around with, and brings a lot of excitement to a flick that seems like it really needs it at certain-points. Bridges is always fun to watch and it’s no surprise that the guy brings a much-needed levity to a script that couldn’t be concerned with it either way. The problem with Bridges being so much fun, though, is that he is probably the best one and everybody else sort of falls by the waist-side, and badly too, may I add.
Even though he’s more or less the secondary-character in this story, Bruce Boxleitner plays Tron and is fine with his material, even though you never understand what is so damn special about this guy in the first-place. You sort of feel like Bridges should have been the only guy in the video-game world after all, and even better, should have been named Tron. I don’t know how much of that would have changed and screwed-up the story, but it probably would have made a lot more sense than just featuring two characters that could be the lead-character but yet, continue to battle-it-out for the top-spot. And not in the fun way, either. It’s more confusing and annoying than that. Cindy Morgan is Yori and, rightfully so, probably plays the most robotic member of the cast as she obviously just seems to be going through the motions of acting, without a care in the world. Maybe it worked back then when people weren’t paying attention to her acting or line-reading, but now, it’s more obvious and distracting than the elephant in the room. And finally, all the movie needed was one hell of an evil S.O.B. to take this movie and make something better, but somehow, some way, David Warner isn’t up to the challenge as Stark and just feels like less and less of a threat as time goes on. Yep, I think that the Dude is the only one who prevails in this cast but then again: are you the least-bit surprised?
Consensus: No doubt that the visuals and look of TRON are as beautiful and as polished as they once were, way back when in 1982, but it just doesn’t take special-effects to make a good film. Sometimes, you need other elements like strong acting, believable dialogue, excitement, fun, joy, action, and glee to make a good film, which is where I think this movie dropped the ball on. Okay, bring on the hate-mail nerds.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Ah’nuld is back, and yes, still old.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a aging sheriff of a peaceful border town who is called upon to take on a drug kingpin who escaped from FBI custody and is trying to cross the border into Mexico. Once again, it’s Arnold’s time to save the town, as well as the day.
Since he’s not the Governator of Kellyfornia anymore, is done banging house maids (so far as we know), isn’t bangin’ Maria Shriver (as far as we know), and has basically nothing else to do with his spare time and money, Ah’nuld is back and better than ever! Okay, maybe he’s not better than ever but dammit, he is back, in full action-mode, and shows us all what we’ve been missing out on for the past couple of years. Hey, you had to know this was coming once his role in Expendables 2 got bigger, you just had to.
And speaking of Arnie, at 65, the guy can still kick some ass, even if it is a tad goofier now than we ever remember. Yeah, he may have had a lost a step or two in his action-feet, and especially in his acting-chords, but as being an old, bad-ass that takes no prisoners when it comes to the law: Arnie is still at the top of his game. It’s been way too long since the last time we’ve seen Arnie handle a shotgun, tackle some thug, and chew-down one-liners like it’s his job (it sort of is), and this is the type of roles that reminds us why we love the guy so much in the first-place and don’t give a shit who, or what he bangs. Just as long as one of those bangs just so happen to be coming from a double-barrel shotgun, than it’s all fine and dandy with me. May not be fine with his kids or Maria, but hey, for an action-movie lover and Arnie-lover, it’s a-okay in my book.
But it’s not just Arnie’s show, as much as it is the rest of the cast’s as well, as they all get a chance to shine and have fun with dialogue that may be a bit below their pay-grade, but still shows all of the fun and joy each person can have. Johnny Knoxville has been getting top-billing for this movie (alongside Arnie, of course), but the guy is probably in it for no less than 15 minutes, but still does his usual thing: act like a dumb-ass and win our hearts over. The guy’s been doing that act for over a decade, whether it be scripted or unscripted, and that is no different here when he’s along the Terminator. Luis Guzman is a bundle of joy as the cranky deputy; Jamie Alexander is feisty and hot as the only police-woman of the county; and Rodrigo Santoro does what he can as the ex-star football-player-turned-total-bum, which is saying more than he could offer in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Yes, I know I liked that movie, but still, his acting blew in it.
All are fine playing Arnie’s helpers/side-kicks but it’s really weird to see Forest Whitaker in a role of this standard. It’s not that he’s bad in the role, actually, he livens it up pretty well, it’s just that the material and role feel like they were written for a whole other movie, and a whole different place. Think of it as a role from Inside Man, stuck inside the setting of The Expendables. It just doesn’t gel well, no matter how much drama and class Whitaker tries to add. Poor guy. I bet he’s just waiting for the day that Denzel gets sick with the flu.
As for the opposite-side of the spectrum, things sort of get shaky. Yes, watching Peter Stormare chew-up the scenery with his Southern-growl and heavy-thick accent is fun, but it’s cartoonish and as over-the-top as you can get, especially with a performance from Stormare himself. And yes: that is saying something. However, he fares a lot better than our main baddie; a professional-driver-turned-bad-guy “played” by Eduardo Noriega. The reason I put the quotation-marks around the word, “played”, is because not only is this performance terrible, but the character just opposes no threat whatsoever to anybody around him. Yeah, so what if the guy knows how to turn-off all of the lights in his car at night, and so what if he can swerve around three SWAT vehicles on an open road. The guy still seems like a bit of a bitch and when he’s going against Ah’nuld, you just cannot wait for him to get his ass beaten, just so you don’t have to see him act, say, or try his hardest to be cool, but sinister. Then again, maybe that’s the point.
Anyway, who the hell cares about the cast in this situation?!? This movie is all about high-octane thrills, chills, jumps, rumps, and laughs; all of which are here, on full-display. Making his American-debut with this flick is Korean director Kim Jee-Woon, who has made some pretty impressive flicks in the past, but shows he is able to make relatively-mediocre material, a lot better just with a couple of modern-day spices here and there. Typical action-sequences like a chase through corn fields, or a shoot-out through the street, would have been handled in such a dull, conventional way that it wouldn’t have mattered if Ah’nuld was kicking ass and taking names, because it would have been boring. However, Jee-Woon gives us something new and stylish to take and breath in, and it’s great to see what can happen to obvious-material like an action-thriller starring Arnie, when you bring in foreign-prospects that are just waiting to hit the big time in the States. Hopefully, this means that we are going to see more of Jee-Woon, not only the action-genre, but in American movies in general.
However, as much as this movie may strive to be something new, refreshing, and an improvement on the conventional action-genre; the fact remains that it just isn’t. It is stupid, it is loud, it is obvious, and it is very, very much like Arnie’s past movies and as much as that may be a turn-on to some people who have been wanting a bit of old-school flavor to their action-movies, some still do not feel the same way. If this is the type of stuff you like, then yes, by all means, go out, buy a ticket, get some popcorn, slap-on some butter, get a large soda (diet or non-diet, your choice), take a seat, sit-back, relax, and just have a good time with all that’s to be seen on-screen. However, if this is not the type of stuff you like or would put in your Netflix queue, then just don’t even bother because it would be a waste of your precious time and money. Then again, just by seeing the names “Schwarzenegger” and “Knoxville” head-lining the same poster, I could already assume that you’d be able to decipher whether or not this is your type of movie, long before you even made a trip out to your local theater.
Consensus: The Last Stand isn’t necessarily re-inventing the wheel when it comes to the genre of action movies, but still offers more than plenty of fun, excitement, action, and lovable quips, courtesy of everybody’s favorite Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Welcome back, Arnie. Glad to see you’re with us and still can’t speak a lick of understandable-English.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
The most violent game of Cops and Robbers I’ve ever seen played.
Sean Penn plays mob king Mickey Cohen, a ruthless gangster who runs the entire city of Los Angeles, including the cops and politicians under his control. Determined to bring him down is a small, secret task-force spearheaded by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling).
After the Aurora shootings occurred over last Summer, I was pretty bummed to see that this flick would be pushed-back, due to the fact that it actually featured a movie theater shooting itself. It looked like a nice mixture between L.A. Confidential and The Untouchables, with just a dash of present-day, digital-era filmmaking, and to top that, it boosted a pretty solid cast. However, it doesn’t matter when I saw this flick, all that matters is that I did see it and it’s nothing special. Yep, now I’m sort of glad it waited til now.
It’s pretty strange to see that director Ruben Fleischer would actually take this material, considering it’s not really something he has done in the past. This is the same guy who brought us Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less, which are both movies that feature a crap-ton of action and humor, but yet, never made me feel like I was watching the work of a guy that could be the next De Palma or Lumet. I was right. It’s not that Fleischer doesn’t hold his own when it comes to the action, because he definitely does and make it as bloody as can be, it’s more or less that there’s nothing else more to it. It’s pretty cool to see a bunch of crooks get their asses beat to a bloody pulp and watch all of the new, sadistic ways it can happen, but after awhile, it just seems like that is all this flick has going for itself.
Hell, even at one-point during the movie, somebody actually begs the question, “why?. Why is this violence happening?” Well, the answer to that is simple: Hollywood and making money, baby! I never expected this flick to ever bring-up a point that I was thinking the whole time, and that’s that these police officers are doing just as much dirty work as these crooks are doing, but yet, are being applauded and praised for it, all because they have a gun and a badge. It definitely brings up a great question as to why should they be allowed and who’s right and who’s wrong. However, those points are a little too smart for a movie like this where people get their heads drilled in and eaten by dogs. Both of which, actually happen, and all due to the excitement and glee of it’s audience.
But, that excitement and glee, isn’t all that bad when it’s done right. Yeah, Fleischer really does drop the ball on providing more of a moral important/emphasis on all of the violence and ass-kicking, but for the most part, he keeps things alive and well with just enough action to have us cured for whenever this story feels the need to take a nap, here and there. You get the blood, you get the guns, you get the punches, and you get the explosions. What else could ya ask for? And if there is something else could you ask for, why the hell would you? Seriously, it’s the dead of Winter and if this is the best we are going to get, then hey, I’ll get a piece of popcorn, soda, my nice jammies, sit-down, relax, and freakin’ revel in it. You can’t ask for much else, so you might as well just enjoy it.
If there was a big disappointment with this movie, it’s the fact that the cast is so stacked and so filled to the brim with A-listers that are usually hitters, more than missers, that it’s really disappointing to see them work with a lame-o script like this. Josh Brolin is the leader of the Gangster Squad, and of the movie, if you think about it, and does a serviceable job as a pretty tough-guy that can do his work, wants to do what is right, but yet, go back home to his lovely wife and be the husband that she wants. Brolin is always a likable presence to watch on-screen and even though I felt like this character could have had more done to him to make us feel like we really know him from the inside and out, it’s still a lot more development than anybody else in this damn movie.
Well, him and Ryan Gosling, of course. Gosling is great as the sly, but charming cop that doesn’t even originally plan to be apart of this gang, but actually does and thank the high heavens for that, because the guy not only makes the gang better, but the movie in-return. Gosling just has this look to him that not only makes him the coolest guy in the room, but also the nicest guy, too, and you feel as if no matter what crazy shite gets thrown his way, he will still always end-up doing the right thing. The little “romance” he has with Emma Stone feels like it could have really sparked, like it did so well in Crazy, Stupid, Love, but just doesn’t. Instead, most of their scenes are them just having melodramatic-argument-after-melodramatic-argument, almost to the point of where it doesn’t matter as to whether or not they stay together, because it won’t be for long.
The reason they do argue so much, is because Stone’s character is with Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn in his most entertaining-role in the longest-time. When this movie was originally supposed to come out, I thought that it would give Penn a nice Oscar-push for Supporting Actor since he was playing a person so evil, so malicious, and so bad, that he could have easily gotten a nomination. However, since his flick doesn’t even come close to qualifying and now that I’ve seen it, I can say that he doesn’t even come close, but that’s still not a bad thing. This isn’t as much of an Oscar-caliber performance, as much as it is just a fun performance that seemed like Penn wanted to do for the longest-time, just so he could get away from the heavier stuff in his career. Is it perfect? No, not really, because the guy is still over-the-top and cartoonish, but at least he is always entertaining to watch and that was more than I could really say about him, when he was impersonating another famous figure; Robert Smith. Yeah, I guess people want to forget about that movie now.
The rest of the cast has a bunch of big names that have all been amazing in the past, and hell, maybe even the past year, but yet, aren’t given all that much to do. Nick Nolte is absolutely wasted as the head of the L.A. police department and shows up for about 10 minutes, tells Brolin what to do, and sounds like he’s still looking for that lung after all of these years. He’s alright, but damn, is it a weak role for an actor that always gives 110%, with everything he’s given. The rest of the Gangster Squad features the likes of Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, and Robert Patrick, all of which do their best with what they can but in the end, sort of feel like they should have been given a lot more to do. Especially Mackie, of all people, who really feels like he should have been a big star by now, he just hasn’t found the right juices to get it flowing.
Consensus: Though it is nothing more than a movie about bad guys and good guys facing-off, against one another, Gangster Squad is still a bunch of fun that has a retro-vibe and feel, even if it feels like it should be more with the load of talent it has in-front of and behind the camera.
Would have been better, had it been based on the Nintendo games.
Ward, a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother, a college drop-out named Jack (Zac Efron) investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row, named Hillary (John Cusack). However, the only reason they are doing so is because the gal that wants Hillary out, a sexxed-up, piece of work named Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), just so happens to be the apple of Jack’s eyes.
I’ve been hearing a lot of crazy shit about this film and to be honest: it’s all deserved. Everybody knows Lee Daniels because he pulled-off Precious about 4 years ago and it showed him as the type of director that can get a story, no matter how gritty or despicable, and be able to make it in the least-bit inspirational for people. However, it wasn’t his first rodeo, as that honor (and I guess, dishonor) goes to a little, fucked-up movie called Shadowboxer. If you’ve never heard of it, please, don’t go watch it because it’s just an insane piece of work to watch and it will have you question whether or not you’ve just watched two films, from the same director. And if you have heard or have actually seen it, then buckle up, because that exactly the same type of crazy shit you’re going to get here.
As much as Daniels’ debut may have blew huge gonads, this flick is actually more controlled than that one and that’s probably because it’s just wild, without making any excuses for being so. There’s definitely that type of grungy, exploitative look and feel to the movie that has you feel as if you are in the dirty South, around the 60′s when racial-issues were up to the forefront and everybody was just sweating their asses off. If anything Daniels does do right in this flick, it’s at least nail the look and feel of the period that he has it placed-in, but everything else, well, it is sort of all-over-the-place.
Being “all-over-the-place” isn’t really all that much of bad thing if you can do it, and get away with it. The problem isn’t that Daniels can’t do it, because he sure as hell makes sure that everybody knows he can in every, damn second of this movie, but it’s more that he can’t get away with it. He can show two people making each other cum without ever touching one another and just simulating dirty things to one another, but it sticks out like a sore-thumb to everything else, and he can’t get away with it; he can show a girl peeing on a guy because he got stung by a bunch of jelly-fish, but it’s just odd and seems like it was only done for shock-factor, and he also can’t get away with it; and lastly, he can try and bring some issues up about the whole Civil Rights-movement, but when you compare it to the last sequences I just mentioned, it seems uneven, and once again, he can’t get away with it. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar (who apparently wanted to take this material at one time), or even Robert Rodriguez for that matter, could take this material, do whatever the hell they wanted to with it, and at least make all of the crazy shit and melodramatic stuff gel well enough together, that you almost don’t notice it, but Daniels isn’t one of those directors. He’s just a regular-director that seems like he’s trying his damn near hardest to have us all forget about the over-weight girl story he pulled-off 4 years ago, and try to distract us with insane amounts of sex, whether it actually happen on-screen or just be insinuated. Either way, there’s a bunch of sex that seems to come out nowhere at times.
Is all of this wackiness and cookiness fun? In a way, yes it is and honestly, as much as I may be ragging on the film right here, I am more or less just hating on Daniels. Not to say that the guy doesn’t know how to make a story move, because he definitely does, but it focuses way too much on the personal lives of these characters and not in an exciting or electric way either, it’s just a boring, way-too-dramatic way that comes off as trying too hard. We never really care for these characters, the case they continue to push to the side, or what their relationships are with each other and how that affects one another, and I guess that was the point. Daniels is just giving us a bunch of dirty people that we can either care to like or not. Whether or not we actually do, doesn’t matter, because as long as Daniels is just allowing us to see how insane he can be, then he’s the one with the real joy in the end. That kind of ticks me off now that I think about it, because there was definitely a crap-ton of promise with this flick and premise, it’s just a shame that it had to fall so far from ever achieving that said promise.
The only promise that this flick ever does hit head-on, is the ensemble cast and what they are able to do with each of their roles, no matter how wacky or unbelievable they may be. Zac Efron is the sort-of voice of reason throughout this whole flick and is definitely growing-up right in front of our own eyes, but if you think about it, it is sort of a dull role for the guy but nowhere near as dull as the role Robert Pattinson had in Cosmopolis. Still, Efron makes this character work and his performance shows-off a kid that definitely wants to be treated like an adult, yet, still has the tendencies of a kid that just doesn’t yet know what to do with his life or who to spend the rest of it with. Sort of how Efron is now, just without being peed-on. Then again, I still have no idea what him and Vanessa Hudgens did in their spare-time.
Playing his big bro, Matthew McConaughey is good as the slick and sly reporter that can not only charm his way into getting whatever the hell he wants, but also has a bit of problems brewing underneath that he’s pretty good at hiding. This is a nice role for McConaughey and it’s one that he can practically play while sleeping, but after a year where tore the roof down as force to be reckoned with in flicks like Killer Joe and Magic Mike, this one definitely ranks the lowest-of-the-low for him. Not to say it’s bad, but it’s not to say that it’s anything special, either. John Cusack is playing really, really against-type here as the psychotic and nutty Hillary, and shows that Cusack can probably do more than any of us ever expected from him. He’s strange, he’s weird, but he’s also very sinister and I like how Cusack totally just swan-dived right into the role, totally leaving all shades and memories behind of Peter Gabriel tapes in his pathway. Not to say that this is a special performance that makes us think of Cusack in a different way now, but it’s definitely a role that shows the guy can do more than just be that old dude from the 80′s we all remember relating to when our dates walked-out on us at prom. Yeah, that he is no more.
The one who really steals the spotlight from the rest of these dudes is Nicole Kidman, as the starlet fire fox, Charlotte. Kidman hasn’t been this sexy or bad-ass since the days of Eyes Wide Shut and To Die For, but here, she totally steals all the glory and attention, and has all of the fun out of everybody here. She just relishes in the fact that she can be sexy, be a little dirty, but also be a little bit sympathetic as well and once things start to go South for her and this story, she’s the only one you really give a single hoot about, especially since she’s the only one that has the most believable convictions out of the whole story (she just wants love). Kidman is probably getting the most recognition and praise for her work here and rightfully so, because the gal just looks freakin’ hot and steams up every scene she’s in, whether she’s trying to seduce people and act sexy, or not. Either way, Kidman definitely had my attention in almost every scene and I’m glad so, too, because she deserved it.
Consensus: You may have a boat-load of fun with The Paperboy if you’re looking for some weird shit to happen, non-stop without any rhyme or reason as to why exactly, but if not, then you may just be bored and annoyed by how uneven everything is, despite Daniels trying his hardest to make us think or see otherwise. You strike-out this time, my friend!
But honestly, what if I don’t have any money for lunch?
This is the story about kids, parents, and families, from all different walks of life, that all have to deal with the terrible issue that is very prominent, still, in today’s and age: bullying. Some kids still go through with it, some kids try to stop it, and others, failed and in-return, took their own lives instead.
You can’t hate a film for having nice intentions and most of all, you can’t hate a film for bringing a very important topic/subject to the screen that we’ve never really seen before. It’s sad and utterly disappointing to still think that in the 21st Century, we still have to deal with kids being bullied, parents not talking to their kids, teachers not helping-out, and kids getting so fed-up with it all, that they just decide to take their own lives. It’s very sad to know that bullying, an idea that has almost become so goofy now, is still alive and well in today’s schools, shows no end in sight, and is even worse now, mainly due to the fact of technology. Yup, it’s a sad, sad world we live in, and it’s even sadder that this flick couldn’t be the one to change the game.
The whole controversy about this flick coming-out a couple of months ago, was the fact that it only featured about 6 uses of the word “fuck” and was going to receive an R-rating. That’s pretty damn stupid, but then again, it’s the MPAA, they’re ancient, they’re prudes, and they don’t like the Weinsteins very much, so I’m not surprised. However, rather than making this a review about how the MPAA sucks and that this movie didn’t deserve to be hit with the R-rating, I’m just going to shy away and go back to what really matters: the movie itself.
For me, I have never really had to deal with bullying, mainly because I was always 6″-feet-tall, and never really had a problem with people that I didn’t already throw right back in their face. In return, I never bullied anyone, either, because quite frankly, it just wasn’t right, especially to the people who didn’t deserve it. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t at least notice some bullying throughout my days of schooling and what I did see, I didn’t like. Did I ever do anything about it? Not really, mostly because it never got to the point of where I felt like somebody was going to pull a desperate act of violence that would be harmful to the two and say what you will about that stance: it always ended up being exactly what I thought. But that doesn’t mean that bullying still isn’t happening around the world and what’s even worse, is how it’s not being stopped.
Director Lee Hirsch, has said that he was bullied when he was a kid and made this flick for all of those kids that have been bullied, and in a way, he’s given those poor-souls something to chew-on and open their eyes, even if just for a bit. What Hirsch captures on-camera, whether it is staged or not, is very disturbing and brutal, especially by the fact that how it goes on-and-on-and-on. Don’t get me wrong, this is not one of those flicks that just shows a bunch of kids getting thrown into lockers, getting on the bad end of swirlee, and coming home with their undies all stretched-out, but what we do see, definitely catches your eye and sort of has you in-disgust. It’s emotional and very eye-opening in the way that Hirsch captures all of this on-camera and never pans away. It definitely makes you feel more for the people this act of bullying is happen to, as if you didn’t already have sympathy for them before the movie even started.
People will say the same old cliche, “boys will be boys”, and as true as that may be, boys do not act like little assholes like this, get away with it, and act like it never happened again. They continue with their daily-lives and act like this forever, until they finally realize that they wasted their whole life on just being a little piece of crap towards other, weaker kids and it’s a very, very sad idea that I had going-on throughout my head the whole time. However, as these ideas were going through my head, I realized something: my ideas were probably a lot smarter than the ones this movie had going around.
Where I think Hirsch drops the ball is how he shows these kids being bullied and being tortured to the point of no return, then shows the people who try to stop it by telling other people to be nice and kind towards other. That’s a nice stance to take on with life, but when it comes to bullying: it isn’t. Think about it, if a kid who was being bullied just took it all of the time, didn’t say anything to his parents, and went-on about his day with no rhyme or reason as to why he’s being picked-on in the first-place, do you really think that kid is going to just solve it all and have all of that bullying go away, by simply being nice? Hell, no! I know that may come off as a bit insensitive and I am by no means, saying that taking acts of violence into your own hands is the way to go-about problems like bullying, but standing there, being nice, and keeping a smile on your face, will never, ever do the trick. That is unless, the smile you have on your face scares the shit out of the kids around you, then you won’t have to worry about no bullying whatsoever. Just a simple solution, I guess.
That idea of solving this problem doesn’t really seem fit to what’s really going on, out-there in the real-world but that’s not the only problem with the solution that Hirsch seems to draw-out from his paws. Hirsch’s biggest problem seems that he never really points the finger all that much at the people that are really responsible for this happening. Yes, we do get a couple of scenes where the teachers/principals act like a bunch of dumb-asses that act as if there is no such thing as bullying going on around their schools, but it’s not enough. It’s nice that we get to see the people that are hurt, understand why they are, and hopefully, think of a way to cure their pain, but the people that are responsible for all of that pain and anguish, should also be brought-up to the forefront, to the point of where we see clearly, why it is that bullying continues in the school-system.
That’s what also brings me onto my next point, in how the movie is in-fact called Bully, but yet, the subjects themselves that this movie takes it’s title from, are rarely ever documented. We never get to see the side from a bully here, why they do the things they do, where the problem stems from, and exactly how they can stop it and I get it, no kid is going to want to come-up to a film-crew and say that he/she is a bully, but Hirsch could have easily went-out there, found a person that used to be a bully, and see exactly what it was that made that person, tick the way that they did. Seeing the point-of-view of the kids who actually get bullied is still very emotional and disturbing in it’s own right, but showing the other-side and what they go through, would have definitely made this flick seem like it had more of a clearer, moral-compass that wasn’t just about getting rid of bullies. In a way, getting rid of bullies is the right solution to this problem, but in another way, it’s also too simple to be the right thing to do. To put an end to bullying, we have to understand the person who’s causing all of this pain, see exactly why they do it, and what the solution to all of their actions could be. We never get any of that with this flick and as much as I would have liked to see more sides pointed-at and shown in the spotlight, it never happens.
Consensus: Bully is an important-flick that should definitely be shown to kids of all ages, but an important-flick, definitely doesn’t make a good one, especially when you have one that’s as one-sided as this one.
The Ultimate Battle: Salesman vs. Farmers. Let’s get’s it on!
Matt Damon plays a salesman for a major natural gas company (so stow the “propane and propane accessories” quote) who descends upon a small town to tap into it’s natural resources, but finds himself having a bunch of problems with the locals, especially by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski).
The topic of “fracking” is an act that has been brewing-around for quite some time and even though there have been some documentaries that talk about it, here and there, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood got their filthy, dirty paws on it and made a motion-picture, cinema-trip out of it. However, I don’t know how “Hollywood” Gus Van Sant is now, but hey, he made Good Will Hunting and that counts, right?
In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “fracking”, don’t worry, the film will let you know, every, single 5-minutes, too. It obviously seems like an action that makes people happy and filled their wallets/bank accounts, filled to the brim with moolah, but also, destroys the environment around us and makes those pot-smoking, peace-loving hippies all uppity, uppity. However, knowing this before-hand won’t do you any good and to be honest, neither will this flick because all of it just really seems to hit you over-the-head until you can’t take no more. Matt Damon is obviously a very political guy that likes to have his thoughts and opinions heard for the whole world, but maybe his script that he co-wrote with John Krasinski and Dave Eggers was a bit too much for him, or anybody else to really muster.
Instead of making this movie just one, big “message movie” that likes to talk a lot about what it’s declaring, Damon and his co-writers try their hardest to make us feel like there’s another story here worth watching and feeling something-for, even though we are all being preached-at from the highest choir. That highest choir, just so happens to be A-list actors and producers that may know a thing or two about how to make a good flick, but don’t know a thing or two about how to make one that can coincide with the point/message you’re trying to get across. It becomes over-bearing and by the third time that Damon’s character states, “I’m not a bad guy”, you start to think otherwise because who would really go on and on this long about a topic and a solution that could have been figured-out in a 5-slide Power Point production.
However, a 5-slide Power Point production is probably how long, in-fact, maybe even less, this flick could have been predicted in. Right from the beginning, we know how it’s going to start, how it’s going to coast-on through it’s story, and sadly, how it’s all going to end and what revelations are going to be made by that time. Yeah, there are some nice twists and turns that Damon and co. throws at us for good-measure, and mainly in hope to keep our eyes awake and our minds attentive to what’s going on, on-screen, but doesn’t do much good other than seem obvious. The message is obvious and so is the plot and that’s why I’m so surprised that Damon even co-wrote an intelligent script like Good Will Hunting because all of that fun, all of that flair, and all of that emotional-truth that was stuck underneath that whole flick, is barely even seen here at all. In my honest to god’s opinion, it’s all because Big Ben wasn’t around, and instead, is off doing his own thang and making a name for himself. Take notes, Matt. Start directing movies and see how current and cool you can stay.
I will say one-thing about Matt Damon here with this movie, that even though his script may not work to the best of his, or the film’s ability in keeping us interested the whole-way through, Damon’s performance definitely does and the guy once again shows why he is the most dependable actor, working today. Damon’s character, Steve Butler, may have an obvious-route he’s going to drive-on about half-way through, but Damon still keeps you on-edge, wondering when it may actually happen and whether or not we are going to be able to believe it or not. In a way, we do believe it, and that’s mainly thanks to Damon’s top-notch skills as an actor, while in other ways, we don’t just because it’s so conventional, but you can’t go wrong with Damon and the guy knows how to write some great lines, even if the only great lines are for himself, and him only. That damn Matt Damon! He’s always so stingy!
Playing his enemy, of sorts, is John Krasinski as an ecologist that challenges all of Butler’s way of living and making a business. Krasinski rarely ever plays dark roles like these and it’s great to see him really work with that aspect of his acting, while also making sure to keep his comedic-abilities in-tact, as well. I wish that Krasinski was given more than to just fuck around with Damon, in a way that makes it seem like he stole his girlfriend after Junior Prom, but with what he’s given (that he practically gave himself, if you think about it) and what he’s able to do, Krasinski does a very nice-job at it, and I really hope the guy continues to take darker, more-dramatic roles like these because even though that face may always be smiling and shiny, there’s still some darkness that’s waiting to just latch-out from underneath.
Frances McDormand plays Damon’s cohort that seems to be non-other than McDormand doing what she does best: the cool, older gal that still knows what it’s like to be hip, with it, and always one-step ahead of the dudes around her, no matter what it is she may be dealing with. Maybe that was a bit too much of a lengthy-synopsis of what type of characters she usually plays, but it’s the truth most of the time, and it’s the truth here and it’s still fine and dandy with me, because the girl is good with the act. She doesn’t seem to have much more going for her other than the fact that she may just be the brains behind the whole operation when it comes to what it is that they do for a living and how they make their business, but McDormand makes the most of it and in a way, would have liked to see a whole movie dedicated to her, where she was going around and dealing with this personal and professional-crisis, rather than seeing dudes like Matt Damon go through with it. Boo the men! Yay the ladies! That’s how I look at it here.
McDormand isn’t the only gal that gets to show the boys a thing or two when it comes to acting, nope, that honor also goes to Rosemarie DeWitt as the wild child of this small, rural town in Pennsylvania, who also just so happens to be the hottest, single-teacher in the whole world. Not just PA, the whole damn world! DeWitt has been on my “crush list” as of late, and she’s great here, especially in her scenes with Damon who just goes to prove the fact that the dude can make any great chemistry, with anything, as long as it has tits and a vagina. Seriously, they are great together and if it wasn’t for the whole fracking-issue popping-up every 5-minutes, I would have probably enjoyed their scenes together a whole lot more.
The rest of the cast is pretty fine, even if it is a shame to see how little they are used here. Hal Hollbrook is great as the knowing, elder farmer of this small-town that knows what fracking’s all about, why it’s not good, and why he doesn’t like it. Rather than making Hollbrook the annoying and obvious voice-of-reason throughout this whole movie and have us dreading his presence, Hollbrook actually comes-off as a sweet and tender, old-man that has come to terms with the way the world used to be and what it is eventually, going to turn-out to be. It’s sort of sad since how this hits so close to reality and what better person to deliver this reality-check than non-other than Mr. Hollbrook himself. Seriously, when the hell is this guy getting that Oscar!?! Lucas Black and Scoot McNairy show-up here as well, as the resident rednecks of the small town and as good as they may be, are still a bit over-the-top in the way that they are type-casted as a bunch of dumb idiots that work on a farm and don’t give a crap about anything else other than the big olde bucks. I’m sure that some of this is true, but it doesn’t need to be seen to try and get a point across even more. Come on Matt! Come on John! You should know better! You get your caviar and champagne from natural food stores!
Consensus: The topic of discussion in Promised Land is definitely an important one and what Damon, Krasinski, and Eggers get-across about it is an important-one, but it constantly hammers you over-the-head with it, that you begin to lose a care for what they say and an even bigger loss of care over the predictable story, and what direction it goes in.
Boys will be boys. Especially, the ones that have tons of sex and never shower. Yeah, those ones, too.
In 1947, Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) is a young writer whose life is shaken and ultimately redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a free-spirited, fearless, fast-talking Westerner and his girl, Marylou (Kristen Stewart). They travel the world and meet-and-greet with numerous people, while also, exchanging in bodily-fluids along the way.
Having already gone through 4 years of high school and even dating a girl for over a year who actually read and loved it, I’m still surprised that I haven’t read Jack Kerouac’s landmark novel that defined a generation. From what I hear and see of other people who have actually read the book, it’s a life-changer and will definitely have you looking at everything around, in a slightly-different, if not more, rambunctiousness way. I don’t know if that makes me unqualified to watch a movie such as this, but after seeing it, I’ve come to realize that maybe it would have just been better to leave the book where it was in the first-place: on the top-shelf of some low-rent, book-store, for some young bohemian to pick-up and obsess over next.
Director Walter Salles definitely knows the type of material he’s adapting here, and by doing-so, has made this one, gorgeous treat from start-to-finish. Since the flick takes place over a couple of years, in many, many different parts of world, you definitely get a full feel of what the outside world looks, especially through the eyes of such youngsters as these. Salles knows how to make any scene beautiful and seem as if he read the book, had an idea for how he wanted it to look, and just went for it all, and in that aspect, he succeeds. If anything, this movie is a treat for the eyes, and sometimes, the ears because of the classic, jazz-tracks scattered throughout.
However, that’s where the problem of this flick lies. It definitely has the same sounds, the rhythms, and the look of a movie that would be adapting it’s source material from Kerouac, but in the end, just doesn’t have the feeling. Maybe I’m a bit biased to be talking about the feeling of the novel vs. the feeling of the movie, since I have not read the novel, but knowing what it does to people, their minds, and how much of a game-changer it was, I think I have the right idea in my head to fully understand that this is not the flick that will be changing anybody’s minds, lives, or central-thoughts for the longest time. Hell, even after 2 weeks or so, you might just forget about it.
Actually, that’s a bit too harsh for this flick because although it does definitely have it’s bad, it definitely does still have it’s good, even if the bad does out-weigh the good. For instance, Salles’ direction takes a great-aim at the beautiful landscapes that surrounded these characters and the journey they went on, but when it comes to making a point about the world we used to live-in, and the way these characters get through: well, it drops the ball. You see, the movie starts-off very quick and fast-paced, then dials-down, then goes back-up, then dials-down, and so on, and so forth, until you feel like Salles is just toying around with your interest-meter and whenever he feels like he’s losing you, he’ll just throw a sex scene in there or two. Yes, back in those days, young and free people had loads and loads of sex, but this flick almost makes it seem like a safe haven for when people were just bored, and by “people”, I mean the characters in the movie, and the audience that sits-back and actually watches this.
In a way, you almost feel like Salles is just sort of going through the motions as a director, because even though he knows how to make a film pretty damn purrty, he doesn’t know where to start and end his story, on as high of a note as Kerouac apparently did. It’s not really boring, per se, as if it’s almost just a dull piece of filmmaking that never really lifts off the ground, unless it’s characters actually are, and even at that point, it still seems like a bit of a cop-out. Regardless of if you’re a fan of the material or not, you’re going to be a tad disappointed with the small-amount of emotions this movie makes you feel, if any at all. Once again, did not read the novel, but that’s what I heard it did to those who read it.
The only, real interesting-aspect of this flick was the actual cast-members themselves. Sam Riley impressed the hell out of me as Ian Curtis in Control, but seems oddly-dry, almost to the point of where he’s just a bummer of a dude to watch. He’s boring, talks in a very New York-like accent with a couple uses of lingo here and there, and just doesn’t really have much to bring to the story, other than the fact that he’s there to take notes and eventually make the book of the story we are all seeing right in-front-of-our-own-eyes. I was really disappointed by this dude, but I was very, very surprised by Garret Hedlund as Dean Moriarty.
Hedlund, in everything that I’ve seen him in, has not really been the actor you can rely on to save your movie from total damnation as he’s sort of come-off as very bland throughout the years, but here, he totally makes you re-think that with a performance that’s fearless, fun, wild, sexy, but also, very humane in it’s portrayal of a dude that just can’t slow down the brakes and sort of has that back-fire on him. Moriarty isn’t a type of character you can really feel sympathy for because all he does is cheat on his wife (that’s bearing his two children), have random bits of sex with people’s he’s just met, get high all of the time, and not really do much else nice for the others around him. He’s not necessarily a dick, as much as he’s just a dude that seems like he’s living a bit too much in the crazy world, rather than the real world. Yeah, I know, the real world sounds boring but after awhile, this guy begins to realize that maybe he should have just chilled-out every once and awhile and if not that, then at least made sure you don’t have any responsibilities waiting for you, around the corner. Hedlund really brings the energy and fun to this movie and I just continued to keep on waiting for this guy’s presence to show, back-up on-screen for me to see.
Kristen Stewart plays his gal-pal, Marylou, and what seems to be another piece of stunt-casting, actually turns-out well for the movie, her character, and Stewart as well. Stewart is good here as Marylou because she gets to do more than just mope around and touch her hair, she actually has a wild and free soul to her that makes you feel as if she’s just like Moriarty, except a bit more innocent. Amd yes, for all of you guys that have been wanting to first their eyes on her whole-self since the days of Panic Room, she does indulge in some sweet, and spice sex-scenes where she does get naked and do a bunch of other, wild things, but it’s all right with the context of her character and her performance, as well. Hopefully, K-Stew can keep this going but who the hell knows where her career might go, post-Twilight.
Consensus: The trio of leads save On the Road from just being another shallow and dull attempt at trying to adapt one of the greatest novels of all-time that made people think and see the world differently, whereas here, with this movie, you’re only going to see K-Stew differently when she has her clothes on in movies now. Hey, that’s all I could really garner up from this one.
I need to travel with Jewish family members more, problem is: I don’t have any!
An inventor (Seth Rogen) invites his mother (Barbra Streisand) on a cross-country trip as he tries to sell his new product to all the big-company chains, while also trying to reunite her with a long, lost love.
After appearing in both of the lame-o, Meet the Parents sequels, Babs is back and bitchier than ever! As you could expect from a woman of her class, there was a lot of turmoil on the set where she wouldn’t work anywhere that was 20 miles away from her house and even wouldn’t allow any scene to be shot, unless she had the right amount of make-up and shining-lights on her. I don’t know how Seth Rogen responded, he probably just nervously-chuckled his way through it all, but either way, it’s pretty great to see Babs back on the big-screen and it sort of has you realize that you know what? I missed the hell out of this gal, no matter how annoying she can be at times. I put an extra-strain on the term, “at times”.
The idea of a cross-country road-trip with an overbearing, embarrassing mother is pretty damn relateable and in ways, that’s where the magic of this flick surprisingly works. Hopefully, all of you have been able to have and interact with a mother, or at least, a motherly-figure, and realize how painful and annoying it can be to constantly be around them as they think that they always right, always think that they know what’s best for their child, and try whatever they can do to just make your life better, even though it just continues to add-on more annoyance. Not all momma’s are like this but basically, you get the gist of it all: mothers have love and warmth in their hearts, but they also can be a bit over-bearing at times and what better person to play the over-bearing, annoying mother than Babs herself??
I think having Barbra in this role as the mother, would have been a risky-move, mainly cause it would have just turned-on to be a caricature in and of itself, but Streisand makes her more than just that. Surprisingly, Striesand gives Joyce a lot more credit than the actual-script does and shows that this lady, although protective and annoying, does love her son, does feel as if she knows what’s best for him, and really just wants to have a great-time with her life, because it almost seems like that’s been missing as of late. This role of Joyce could have really gone as unbearable and annoying to watch, but somehow, in her own, crazy-way, Streisand makes her fun and heartfelt to watch and see the different layers of her character that come pouring-out, especially when you least expect it to.
Seth Rogen may seem like a bit of an odd-choice to play her kiddie, Andy, but actually does a nice-job with it, even though the guy really is toning-it-down a whole lot here. And I mean, A WHOLE LOT. You get the nervous chuckle, you get the awkward looks in his eyes, and you get the random banters and fits of rage, but nothing all that funny or hilarious to actually come out of his mouth and as much as it may work for this dorky, uptight character, it doesn’t quite work for Rogen, as you can sort of tell that he really wants to join-in the fun with Babs and let loose as well. Still, Rogen is good and gives Andy more depth and heart than we expect, even though it feels more like a step-back for Rogen, even despite co-starring with the one and only, Barbra Streisand.
Together, they make a nice, mother-son couple, and actually make a lot of the more obvious and conventional scenes between them work. Actually, the surprisingly work, mainly because the film is surprisingly, not what you expect it to be. From the trailers and advertisements, you automatically think that this is going to be another, wacky and goofy, road-trip comedy where the overprotective mother, constantly embarrasses and does stupid things to make her son go even crazier in his head. In a way, that sort of happens here, but in another way, it’s more dramatic and heartfelt this go-around. You’ll be surprised by how nice this flick can make you feel and even if you aren’t laughing your ass to death, you still find yourself a bit happy and pleased with a mother-son relationship, where they both obviously love one another and want nothing more than to make the other person’s life a little bit more pleasant whenever they aren’t around. It’s a nice sentiment to see on the big-screen, regardless of if you are close with your mother or not.
However, you can’t hide from the fact that this flick is as obvious and conventional as they come. Every single turn you expect for a film like this to take, it does take, and it just continues to go on, and on, and on, and on, until you finally just give-up, accept the way things are going to be, and decide to give-in to all of the cheeky, melodrama they begin to shove down your throat. Most of it is eye-rolling and most of it is cliche beyond belief, and for any viewer out there that demands more and more with your road-trip flicks starring two Jewish family members, then you may not appreciate this flick. However, if you are looking for that, then you may have a solid time. I use the term, “may”, very loosely so if you don’t like it, you don’t love it, or you don’t even come back in a happy-mood, wanting to give your big mommy a big, old hug and smooch on the cheek, don’t come to my house with fire and pitch forks because I did actually say: you “may” like it. You heard it from me, folks, give it a try if you’d like but I can say you “may” have fun. Once again, “may”.
Consensus: This is as obvious, as predictable, and as ham-fisted as they come with movies about mother-son bonding, but The Guilt Trip still isn’t a terrible-watch because of the fine chemistry between both Rogen and Streisand, ans the heartfelt emotions about a love between a mother and a son that feels more real, than actually manipulative. You may be a bit surprised by this one, trust me. Shit, there’s that “may” word again!
Kevin Bacon can still dance. Don’t be fooled.
Slick and cool kid from Boston, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to a small town where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. However, Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) won’t stand for it and he lets Ren know about it, every step of the way.
For all of you loyal readers and followers of DTMMR, you all may be a bit shocked to find out that I have never seen the original, Kevin Bacon headliner in it’s entirety. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, including the awesome dancing-sequences that had me inspired for a day or so, but nothing more than just that really. However, apparently director Craig Brewer has seen it all, and loved it so much that it was the one movie to inspire him to make movies. That’s right: not Casablanca, not Citizen Kane, not even The Godfather, Footloose is the one movie that made this man inspired to make such flicks like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, and now, this remake of his old-school passion. It’s weird, I know, but hey, if you’re going to have a guy do a remake of a classic, have a guy that loves the hell out of the movie in the first-place do it. Then maybe, most remakes won’t suck nowadays.
The idea of featuring a town that actually “bans public dancing” seems a bit too 1984 the dog days of the 21st Century, but somehow Brewer has it make sense and seem a bit believable. This is a small, earnest town that all know each other, know whats going on, and have an idea of what’s best for the whole community. They aren’t some sort of small-commune that’s sheltered-off from the rest of the world because of their hard-earned beliefs of God, faith, and religion, even if those themes do hit-hard in where this story is coming from. Still, the idea of keeping the original premise in this updated remake isn’t as goofy, as well as a couple of other ideas as well, mainly because Brewer knows what does and does not work in today’s day and age.
Brewer, like his last two flicks before this, definitely knows how to work in a great deal of Southern-grit to his stories, no matter how wholesome or sweet they may be. For instance, the opening title-sequence where we see everybody’s shoes moving around, is a trick that was pulled-off in the original but updated in a more standard, gritty way that would be expected by kids of today’s generation, due to there being a crap-load of dirty, kegs, and beer being thrown-around as if somebody was throwing an old-school banger in the middle of the corn-fields. Oh, those were the golden days. Anywho, that’s not the only aspect of this flick that Brewer updates with his gritty look-and-feel, there’s a couple of other cool instances where we see how the world around us has changed to where these kids could easily want to rebel by dancing and sticking-up for themselves, but in the end, Footloose is about one thing and one thing only: cuttin’ loose and gettin’ foot loose.
No matter how much it may seem like Brewer is putting his own, personal stamp on this story, he still never forgets to remind us that this is a dancing-movie at it’s heart and core, and that’s all that mattered to me. Nowadays, dancing movies are usually recognized by two words: Step Up. But thankfully, Brewer shoves a little bit of his fist in the way of those movies and give us a great deal of fun and entertainment to watch, as all of these kids just shake their asses off like no other. The stunts, moves, and choreography are off-the-charts and as goofy as it may be to see a bunch of 18-year-old kids, dancing like Michael Jackson on crack at their high-school prom, you still can get past it and have a great-old time no matter what.
Also, to make matters even better, the soundtrack is awesome and definitely worth a listen. They start-off things so perfectly by keeping the old-school, Kenny Loggins track in the movie, and then start to dive-away from that and giving us a rawer, southern-bound edge to music, filled with the eclectic likes of David Banner, Quiet Riot, Zac Brown Band, and most surprising of all, and probably used the best: The White Stripes. Yeah, his days of giving Terrence Howard some key rap-tracks haven’t gone away in the slightest-bit, but Brewer still shows that he’s got a knack for putting in some cool-tracks, into scenes that you would not expect to gel so well with. Basically, when you put the combination of awesome music and awesome dancing together, you are bound to get some fun and entertainment, and if you do not for one second tap your toes to at least one second of this movie, you have no soul and need to get this soundtrack, ASAP.
As fun as this movie may be, there are a lot of goofy moments in this flick that seem so damn earnest and self-important with itself, that it’s just really hard to swing-by (see what I did there?). There are so many instances in this movie where I just had to roll my eyes by how silly things were, such as when Ariel, or lead-gal, feels the need to play chicken in front of train to show how much of a lost soul she truly is. That’s stupid, as well as all of the scenes with her deuchebag boyfriend named Chuck, who comes into disrupt things between Ren and Ariel’s hormones, and does exactly that, but yet, it’s annoying as hell. Whenever the guy shows-up, he’s just hammy, obvious, and way too violent for his own-good, almost to the point of where I felt like the guy made the story a bit too dark by some standards. Anytime he shows up, and this movie tries to get all serious and dramatic with me, I rolled my eyes, scoffed at it all, and pretty much didn’t care. But as soon as the dancing started-up and the music began to blast, then I just forgot about it all and had a fun-time. Isn’t that what dancing’s all about?
Casting this movie must have been a total bitch for Brewer, considering the guy has to fill in the shoes for so many iconic stars like Bacon, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and even Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others, but he does a nice-job in picking just the right names, for the right people, no matter how well-known or unknown they are. Kenny Wormald is a nice-fit for the rebellious and cool kid known as Ren McCormack and handles a lot of the dramatic-stuff, just about as good as his amazing dancing. His infamous infamous “freak out” dance scene seems a bit like parody at-first, but it just goes to show you just how talented this kid is at shaking his rump, and hey, I gotta give him credit for that because lord knows I’d never be able to achieve that. I just hope that Matt Damon or Ben Affleck didn’t catch a glimpse of this movie, or else they’d have a thing or two to teach Wormald about doing an official, Bawhstan accent.
As good as Wormald may be as Ren, the one who really impressed the hell out of me was Julianna Hough as Ariel, the preacher’s daughter. Her character is the most obvious and predictable out of everybody here, but the gal’s still very, very talented when it comes to dancing and being sexy, but she’s also very good in the dramatic scenes as well that makes a lot of her pain and anguish seem real and reasonable. Sadly, I don’t think the girl’s going to get many dramatically-acting offers any time soon, but it’s always good to know that there’s more to her than just a pretty face, a nice body, and a couple of sweet-ass dance moves.
Playing her old daddy O, is non-other than Dennis Quaid who is terrific as the preacher of the little town of Bomont, that not only wants what’s best for his little town, but for his daughter as well. Quaid is good in this role because as much as he may seem like a bit of a stiff that doesn’t budge on anything that concerns going against the sacred book of God, you can start to see a change in him by the end that’s as believable or moving as anything the guy’s done in the past couple of years. Seriously Dennis, you need to get back-out there, man, and show the world what they’re missing-out on. Everybody else is in this movie is interesting, entertaining, and likable, but the only one that really seemed to struggle is Andie MacDowell as Shaw’s wifey. To most of you, this may come as to no surprise whatsoever, but it’s a bit of a surprise to me considering that this chick has been acting for over 30 years by this point, and still has yet to churn-out a good performance. What the fuck, Andie?!?!?
Consensus: Some moments seem obvious, tacky, self-important, and earnest, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter all that much since Footloose is a fun and entertaining movie that shows some nice/believable character-development, as well as a love and passion for the original source material, courtesy of Craig Brewer.
French people are weird. Big woop!
From dawn to after nightfall, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man… He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part…but where are the cameras?
I’ve been hearing a hell of a lot of noise about this crazy French-flick through the grapevine and for the most part: I had no idea what the hell to expect. I heard it was weird, I heard it was strange, I heard it didn’t make sense, I heard it demanded repeated-viewings, I heard people didn’t get it, and I heard people (mainly critics) had a freakin’ hard-on over it, but most of all, I heard it was a movie that needed to be seen. Thankfully, I found it somewhere, checked it out, and still have no idea what the hell to even think about this in the end. Well, then again, maybe that’s the point after all?
Writer/director Leos Carax definitely has his own way of making a movie, and he sticks very, very clear to that style/image. Right from the beginning, I felt like I was watching a David Lynch movie with all of the weird and surreal images, that sometimes lingered right on ambiguous and I really wondered what the hell I was caught with here. However, the film went on and that’s when things started to pick-up and become more and more fun, not just for me though, for Carax as well.
I’m not too sure what the main plot of this movie is, but without giving too much away, we practically just watch a guy run-around France, dress-up in different costumes, and do some oddly crazy shit that you may have to wipe your eyes a few times to believe what it is that you are actually seeing. Watching this main character just do a bunch of strange-shit, without any rhyme or reason would have been terribly annoying, and just another time for me to rant and rave about how much I didn’t get anything that happened, but that didn’t seem to really impact my overall feeling of the movie here and that’s mainly because of Carax and his style of filmmaking, as weird as it may be.
Being nutty and completely random seems like the name of the game for Carax and I stand by the dude because he knows how to have a good-time with material that seems to lose anybody within the first 5 minutes of it being on-screen. For instance, watching a guy dress-up as a whole bunch of people, sometimes going around kidnapping, killing, or treating people, seems like an confused piece of boredom, but it surprisingly isn’t for the longest-time. Carax just throws whatever the hell it is that he can get to stick-up on the wall and the stuff that does stick, for the most part, worked and had me feeling like I was apart of a good-time and it didn’t matter where it went with itself, either. Sometimes you get a gangster movie, sometimes you get a melodrama, sometimes you get a comedy, and sometimes, oddly enough, you get a musical. I’m telling you, you will have no idea what to expect from this movie and once you get used to the fact that Carax is just going to do his own thang, and doesn’t give a hoot on whether or not you like it, then the better time you may have.
However, when I do say the word “may”, I really do mean that you may or may not like it because it’s not for everyone, and I’m still trying to guess on whether or not which group I was particularly apart of. The reason I say that is because about half-way through this flick, things start to shake-up and get a bit weird, but not in the good-weird either. See, with the first 45 minutes or so, I was catching what Carax was throwing at me, because everything was quick, fast, weird, and pretty humorous for the most part. But, after those first 45 minutes, things start to change and get slow, soapy, weird, and pretty, pretty serious, and almost to the point of where I had no idea where they were going with it.
For instance, I’m all fine and dandy with a movie that’s willing to just be crazy and not make an apology for it, or it’s weird story, but you got to give me a reasoning for everything that I’m seeing, or else you’re really going to start to lose me, and lose me quick. That’s the problem with this movie, Carax forgets the three main-points you need to have to a script to really make us care and why: the ”who”, the “why”, and the “what”. Honestly, I had no idea what this Oscar-guy was doing, why he was doing it, or for the most-part, who the hell all of these random characters were that just seemed to pop-up out of nowhere, give their 10 cents away, and never be seen, or heard from again.
And usually I can get rid of these plot problems in terms of reasoning, just because of the fun feel and look of the movie, but this movie really does lose that fun, infectious-feel to it that made me feel so along for the ride in the first-place. It seems as if Carax decided to slow everything down, get a bit serious, and ultimately, try to make things more dramatic with a character we knew nothing about, have no background on him whatsoever, and just have no idea hos motivations or ideas in his head are. Maybe I was thinking a bit too much about this guy, what Carax was going to do with him, and where the story was going to take him, but I do think that the viewer (myself included) deserves more of an understanding of what they’re watching, and not robbed of that idea in their heads, just because the director feels the need to be so cool, creative, and, well, dare I say it, relatively pretentious. Yeah, I’m going to get a lot of heat for that last one, but hey, bring it on, hardcore critics!
If there is any reason as to why this character, Oscar, even works is because of the guy who’s playing him: Denis Lavant. Lavant has not been a dude I’ve seen much of in anything really, but he absolutely blasted me away with everything he pulled-off here with all of the costumes, clothes, and different appearances that seemed to take-on a life of it’s own sometimes. When Cloud Atlas came-out, everybody was boasting about how much stars like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant all had to really stretch their acting abilities out just to keep-up with all of the make-up, costumes, and different character variations, well to be honest, none of them have got shit on Lavant, because this guy blows them all out of the water by totally convincing us he’s every single one of these different characters, dedicates himself to that character, and never for once seems like he’s faking. There’s a couple of really weird and crazy stuff this guy has to go through with, but you know, Lavant makes it all seem way too easy and the guy is one talented mofo, that I hope to see a lot more of in the future.
The rest of the cast is pretty good, but much like a similar-movie that came out this year and featured a shit-load of scenes with a guy in the back of a limo (Cosmopolis), they don’t really have much to do, except stand there for Lavant and watch as he takes over each and every scene. The most familiar faces out of the whole bunch of supporters, is probably Eva Mendes, who barely even speaks in her whole role as a sexy model that Oscar kidnaps, and a still, stunningly beautiful Kylie Minogue who shows-up, let’s us all know that she’s still alive and well, and still reminding us that she can sure as hell still sing. God, I still wonder where that gal must be nowadays!
Consensus: Even though it’s not for everybody (and still may not even be for me), Holy Motors is still a flick that plays by it’s own set of rules, makes no apologies for it, and even asks you to come-along for the ride. It’s not a wholly-satisfying ride, but still one that will have you entertained, intrigued, and just wondering what the hell is going to happen next.
Apparently Cruise can do it all. Yes, even kung-fu.
American and British IMF teams join forces on the hunt to find a stolen virus. However, one by one the members on the teams start ending up dead. Can Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) find out who this assassin is and stop their deadly plans? From the crowded streets of Madrid to the busy harbour of Sydney, the chase is on.
With the first Mission: Impossible movie, I liked it because it was fun but felt like it was a huge disappointment considering that it seemed like the director, Brian De Palma, wasn’t really able to go full-throttle with his direction, and had to ease-in to what Hollywood wanted. Well, if Hollywood has it’s ways, they usually get rid of those types of people and bring in others. John Woo, you’re up next, buddy. Good luck!
Actually, if I was to compare both De Palma and Woo to one another, which is stupid but for the sake of a juicy-review, I would probably have to say De Palma is the better director by-far. However, if I had to compare the two to who is a better-suit for this type of material, I’d have to go with Woo. The guy is known as the go-to-guy when it comes to directing action movies and even if that honor has sort of been passed-down to others over the years, you still can’t deny or forget when this guy was always the person you’d want to direct a loud, stupid, but fun action-movie. That’s why Woo actually makes this film a bit better, however, it doesn’t start-off like that at-first, no sireee.
Where I was really losing my interest with this movie was the first 45 minutes or so, when nothing seemed to be happening. Yeah, the plot was moving-along and setting the grounds for what we would have to know, in order to understand everything more clearly, but it was all so damn boring. People were talking, melodrama was thrown at us, and worst of all, Ethan Hunt was sort of acting like a total-pussy. Like I get it, the guy has fallen for this chick and wants to be with her but can’t because of this high-profile mission, but there is no need to spend literally, 15 minutes on that whole idea. Ethan Hunt is way too cool for that, and doesn’t need his D getting bogged down by some, little sweet who’s off boning another guy. Now, it’s not really her choice but still, stop crying, do your job, and maybe, just maybe in the end, you can have some sweet-old celebration sex for the good of it all. Hey, that’s how I look at things, baby.
I will say, that after those excruciatingly boring, first 45 minutes, the movie does pick-up a little and that’s where I think Woo’s fun-direction really starts to kick-in. What makes this movie so much fun is the fact that Woo knows the type of material he’s working with, and makes no excuses for making it as idiotic and dumb as you can get with an action movie. A lot of stunts and sequences will have you scoffing your asses off at the implausibility of all that’s going on, but to be honest, that’s whats to be expected of these movies by now and it’s just so much fun to watch because Woo adds in his own, little trinkets of style in there every once and awhile. You get a lot of slo-mo, you get a lot of explosions, you get a lot of kung-fu, and most of all, you get a lot of random pigeons flying around certain scenes for more of a dramatic-effect. It’s pretty neat how Woo is able to make a Mission: Impossible movie, but still, not without putting his own stamp on the movie and showing everybody that it’s his own work, and if you don’t like it, then don’t go and give him or Cruise your money. Trust me, everybody did anyway.
And speaking of Tom Cruise, the guy still owns it as Ethan Hunt, which is something that probably comes to nobody’s surprise whatsoever. Hunt is cool, swift, and smart here, and even though I didn’t like the fact of how much time they spent on him and his heart going through a lot of pain, I still couldn’t help but think that the guy was going to pull-it-all together in the end, and come out on-top at the end of the day. Still, Ethan Hunt doesn’t need women, so stay the hell away, gals.
The gal who I keep on ranting and raving about is played by Thandie Newton, and even though she isn’t anything all that special to watch and fall in love with on-screen, she’s still okay and whatnot. I wish that the film made her more of a sly bad-ass in her own right and focused on that element of her character, but too much of that time was just spent-on her being all sad and acting like the damsel in distress that Hunt didn’t need around to get in the way of his shit. Once again, Ethan Hunt doesn’t need women.
What Ethan Hunt does need, however, is a pretty kick-ass villain and that is what he does not get here with Dougray Scott. To be honest, I’ve never seen this guy in anything else before, but I don’t really look forward to seeing that stuff either because the guy’s pretty lame here. I don’t know if it was the crappy-writing, the evil-plan he had in his head (basically, it’s just a bad-guy that has a deadly-virus he’s going to unleash on the rest of humanity, because you know, bad-guys hate everything), or his acting plain and simple, but something was not gelling well with this character at all and I just wanted Hunt to kill him as soon as possible. Actually, maybe that’s a good thing to feel for a villain, but then again, I still feel like some of that hate should be directed towards the actor and what he’s able to do with that role and that is something that Scott didn’t seem like he was all that capable of. Oh well, Ethan Hunt still kicked his ass.
Consensus: Even though it’s just a tad better than it’s predecessor, Mission: Impossible 2 is still stupid, loud, and occasionally boring, but still features some slick style-points from Woo, and the always welcome, return-to-form for Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, once again proving that this guy can kick anybody’s ass. Katie Holmes’ next hubby, you best look-out mofo.
Save me, Maximus!
Life seems perfect for John Brennan (Russell Crowe) until his wife, Laura (Elizabeth Banks), is arrested for a gruesome murder she says she didn’t commit. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison.
It may seem a bit strange that director Paul Haggis would return to the director’s chair after two character-driven flicks like Crash and In the Valley of Elah, to do something very action-oriented in a way that would remind me a bit of the Bourne movies. Total change-of pace if you ask me, but a pretty intriguing one, none the less. However, this is also the guy who wrote Casino Royale and I think he should have kept it that way and try not to stretch out his action skills anymore teaming up with this dude, because he said he was an “Oscar-winner”.
What I liked about Haggis’ direction here is that he does have a good combination of character-driven drama and a suspense-thriller for a combination that sort of evens each-side out. We first start this flick off by focusing on Crowe, how he’s struggling with being a single father, having a wife put in jail wrongly, and it basically just sets up a lot of sadness for his character and the situation he so sadly found himself so involved with. But underneath all of that, there’s also a very interesting prison-escape drama that shows how Crowe goes around, checking for all of the clues on how to get his wife out successfully without any problems whatsoever, and it’s so interesting and well-done, that it actually made you wonder just how the hell this guy was going to pull it all off in the end, if at all. Prison-escape movies are always fun to watch, but it was really cool to see that aspect, used on the outside, from a guy who’s trying to break somebody out, and not really being able to tell how smoothly everything will go. Definitely a good combo for Haggis, but sadly, it all ends up losing it’s way about half-way through. Oh well, at least it was intruiging for the longest-time.
Mainly the problem with this flick is that it can be very hard to buy at times, especially the main bond between Crowe and Banks. As soon as we step into the movie, we see Banks and Crowe at dinner together, then in no less than 5 minutes later she gets hauled out by cops and that’s pretty much all of the love we get see come from them. That’s right, only 5 minutes of them actually being loving and happy together and we’re supposed to buy the fact that Crowe would go the ends of the Earth to save his wife from prison. Who knows, maybe they had one of the most beautiful marriages that any person has ever seen, but with the very limited-amount of time they have together on-screen, I found it very hard to actually believe Crowe would do what he ends up trying to do for her.
However, that’s not the only part of this movie I didn’t buy. The whole film revolves around Crowe and whether or not he can pull off such a plan as the one he has mapped out on his wall (so original) but I couldn’t really believe much of that either. The film does show him doing certain things to gain pieces of information that ultimately help him out with this plan and gaining more information, but it was never fully-developed to the point of where I understood how he could make it all happen to begin with and even worse, only showed-up every once and awhile. In fact, the whole escape itself by the end was really just based on coincidences that Crowe just so happened to find himself running into by sure luck. Crowe’s character had so much time to think everything through and to get everything right, but by the end, everything just happens in a very messy way and like almost every obstacle he got through was just another piece of perfect-timing, that was just a bit too perfect for my taste, really.
Now I say all of this crap but I did have a certain bit of fun with the very fast-pace this film was going through. As implausible and coincidental things may get for this plot, Haggis kicked up the volume and the speed of this movie and kept it going perfectly where I actually felt like I was on the edge of my seat for a good time. That’s why I can’t go too far into how much this film didn’t make sense to me, because I like prison-escape movies and seeing the sensitive-edge Haggis brought to it, kept me interested. However, a lot of that is lost on some very obvious twists this film goes through.
Russell Crowe is one of the best-working actors today and can make almost any character he plays, work. His performance as John Brennan may be the only exception to that statement. My problem I had with this character wasn’t necessarily Crowe’s performance itself, but it was more or less the essence and nature of the character he was playing here. Brennan is such a meek, awkward, and shy dude that it really seemed “out of his element” and unbelievable whenever he would just decide to g0 around and start doing crazy shit just, in order to help his wife escape from jail. I can understand what a man does and thinks when he’s pushed to the edge, but I never saw that for Crowe and that’s a surprise because this is a guy who’s known for beating the shit out of people in many other films as well as real-life (telephone-throwing joke right there). This performance really surprised me and I think with other actors it would have worked, but when you get a tough-ass like Crowe, ehhh not so much.
One performance that really took me by surprise was Elizabeth Banks as his wife. Banks is always one of those very cute, very funny, and very sexy ladies that pop-up in these raunchy-comedies, but she shows she has a lot of dramatic depth here and makes her character seem a lot more believable than Crowe. Hopefully she continues to get more and more dramatic roles that fit her, and no, I do not mean Man on a Ledge. Liam Neeson is also here as a former prison escapee that helps out Crowe and is easily one of the best and most memorable parts of this flick even though it only lasts for 4 minutes. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is here as the only model, single mom in Pittsburgh. Wilde is a random character to have for this movie and what made it even worse and just added to the implausibility of this movie, was the fact that Olivia Wilde, was playing a single-mom! What the hell! If this is what single moms look like in Pittsburgh, get me my 2005 Scion right now! I’ll be there soon, ladies! Just you wait.
Consensus: The Next Three Days starts off pretty-strong with a great combination action, mystery, suspense and character-drama, but the script really starts to lose itself about half-way through with all of its implausibilities, strange coincidences, and unbelievable character relations, especially the ones between Crowe and Banks, who was supposed to be the core-relationship for us to really connect to this movie and actually give a damn.
Who cares about family when you got a plate full of turkey right in-front of you?
Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) is a divorced, single-mom who just lost her job and now has to fly home for the traditional family Thanksgiving Dinner in Baltimore. Thing is, her parents (Charles Durning and Anne Bancroft) are a bit out-of-whack, her gay-brother (Robert Downey Jr.) likes to start a whole bunch of trouble, and her sister (Cynthia Stevenson) doesn’t like anything that anybody else does.
Ohhh, Thanksgiving. The family, the mashed potatoes, the turkey, the corn, the butter, the bread, and most of all, the fights. Yes, not matter how perfect your family may be, there are always fights to be had around this joyous time because let’s face it, any time you get a group of people together, to sit-around and eat dinner, there’s going to be some words thrown around and about and that’s just the way it works. Me, on the other hand, I eat, talk, watch football, and that’s it. If my family fights, then so be it because I know I’m not getting myself involved and I’m sure as hell not missing out on some turkey, that’s for damn sure. To be honest though, I think eating turkey was something that was more interesting to think about than watching this movie.
Jodie Foster went behind the camera for the 2nd time with this flick and you can sort of tell that she’s connecting with this topic through her own experiences with her, and her family, especially around Thanksgiving. Now maybe since Foster was such a big-name at such an early-age, maybe she didn’t really have nice, little, suburban-cooked meals of turkey with her ordinary-family of regular-day people, but you can definitely tell that she enjoys that aspect behind Thanksgiving because it shows a lot in this film, and there’s just a certain easy-going feel to it that makes it so pleasant of a watch. All holiday movies are cheery and happy-go-lucky, and this one is no different but it’s something about the family-dynamic that this movie nails so well that got me all cheerful.
All of the interactions these characters shared with one another, all felt real for about the first hour or so. I liked how everybody in this family, knew each other, had their own ways of communicating with one another, and didn’t hold-back when it came to expressing their real-feelings about something, whether it be each other or the world around them. That’s how a real family is and I liked watching everybody just talk and be themselves around one another, even if themselves was just a selfish, condescending piece-of-crap that you wouldn’t want to be around, let alone spend all of Thanksgiving Dinner with. I don’t know how many actual, normal Thanksgiving Dinners Foster has had in her life, but I can definitely tell that she enjoys the look and feel of a believable family-dynamic and how everybody gets that all families are wacky, dysfunctional, and always, I do repeat, always fight about something stupid or meaningful.
However, this whole realistic family-dynamic doesn’t go on forever. After the first hour of this movie, it seemed like Foster sort of lost what she was going for originally, and just decided to make this one, long soapy melodrama and sort of abandon all of the realistic, family-stuff that was going on before. I liked when the family was arguing and how they couldn’t decide on what to eat or not, but I didn’t give a single-crap about how the father remembers the good old days and how he could wish to go back in-time and do them all over again. I’m sorry, but it didn’t interest me and it seemed like Foster lost herself because instead of focusing on the whole family and what they’re all about, she focuses more on Claudia as time goes on and as good as interesting as she may be at-times, she’s never fully-developed.
You have to give Holly Hunter a lot of credit for really nailing her roles as Claudia. Claudia is a bit of nut-job that obviously has problems with her professional and personal life, and even though that is touched-on within the first 20 minutes or so, it never feels like we really care all that much to begin with. Then, the film starts to really focus on her and what’s going on with her life, and it makes no sense as to where all of this crap is coming from. I get it, she’s a bit sad, and she misses her daughter, but what does that have to do with her and her personality. I didn’t get what Foster was touching on with her and even though Hunter is very-good here, I still wish that her character was more fully-developed and wasn’t used so randomly.
Everybody else in the cast is pretty good, too, and to be honest, a lot more interesting than Claudia in-ways. Robert Downey Jr. seems like he’s having a ball as Claudia’s trouble-making brother, Tommy, and just uses that “talking-really-fast” shtick oh so well here as he does everywhere else. Him and Hunter have a nice chemistry that really does feel like they are brother and sister, and that they have always loved each other through thick-and-thin and just watching them together was great to see, especially since Downey was probably all coked-up out-of-his-mind while he was doing this. Anne Bancroft plays the mother, Adele, and is very, very good as we all know her as being and just nails the whole cooky, paranoid mother-role very-well. Hell, in a way, it even reminds me of what my mom may be in the near-future but I’m not banking on it. A super young-looking Dylan McDermott shows up here as Leo Fish, a friend of Tommy’s, and he’s okay but he seems way too comfortable with this family, way too quick. Literally, as soon as the guy stops in, he starts making wise-cracks to Claudia about how much of a hell the house has got to be and it’s obvious that he wants to get into her parents, because why else would he randomly be talking to her like that, but it didn’t seem believable. Instead, it just came off as a bit creepy and if he was a guy that one of my relatives brought over for dinner, I’d probably want him the hell out. Then again, it’s Dylan McDermott and I’d be pretty honored if the guy showed-up in my house in the first-place so never mind that noise that I’m spraying.
Consensus: Home for the Holidays has the look and feel of a cheery, good-spirited holiday movie, but also feels like it’s trying to go for a bit more and instead, bites off a little bit more than it can chew.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Gobble Gobble!
Oh, now I see where the attraction for Tom came first for Katie, after all.
This plot follows a new, super-cool agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he embarks on his mission to uncover the mole who has framed him for the murders of his entire IMF team. The answers that he comes up with aren’t that easy to find in the first-place, so he’s got to use his acquired set of skills to make all the magic happen.
After screwing myself over and not going out to see Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, I realized a huge mistake not only because I didn’t see the best-received mainstream movie of 2011, but because I haven’t seen a single-one of these Mission: Impossible movies. I don’t know what it was, the fact that I’m not incredibly huge on action-movies that feature spies that aren’t named James Bond, or I just wasn’t falling for the same crap of watching Cruise be a total bad-ass by kicking ass and punching-out some pretty neat-o one-liners for two hours. Either way, I didn’t see them and I feel like I needed to and I sort of see why I missed them in the first-place: they were exactly what I expected them to be.
A name you don’t usually hear associated with action-movies is Brian De Palma and it’s pretty cool to see such a talented guy, flex his directing-muscles and do something new, cool, and improved with the same old tired genre of action. In ways, De Palma gets to do just that, but in other ways, not really. What I liked about De Palma’s direction here is that most of these shots feel deserved and the way he frames certain scenes are more than you would expect from any other action movie of this multitude. Instead of just blasting us over the head constantly, with a bunch of action-scenes that feel the need to be loud, aggressive and full of CGI, we get small, calculated scenes that burst with tension, without ever really seeming like it’s trying too hard.
There was even that one memorable scene where Hunt gets lowered into the data bank room and can’t make a peep, or else all of the alarms will go off and his cover will be blown. Before hand, I heard a lot about this scene and heard that it was the most memorable of the whole movie, and that was no lie, because it’s the one scene where I really felt on-the-edge-of-my-seat, throughout the whole 2 hours. That’s not to say that the rest of the movie wasn’t thrilling, because it was, it’s just that this scene in particular stood out the most because it seemed like the most original and refreshing idea out of the whole-product. De Palma takes the idea of “not making a peep, or the cover is blown” so seriously, that the whole sequence is nearly played in silence, where all we hear is the sound of breathing and slight-movements coming from Hunt. It’s a real thrilling sequence that shows you that De Palma wasn’t going to let any big-time, Hollywood production get in the way of his uprising tension. Sadly, though, he does let them get in the way of everything else and that’s what sucked.
It’s obvious that De Palma didn’t have total and complete control over this movie and the way the final-product looked and played-out, because there seems to be a lot of problems that we usually get with the action genre, that I’m just tired of. First of all, the story makes no sense whatsoever and I’m glad that De Palma focuses more on that aspect of this movie, but if you’re going to do it, do it right and not to the point of where I’m scratching my head, wondering “who did what?” and “why it happened?” Too many questions for an action flick and it shows that maybe a twist or two in a movie works for pieces like Blow Out and Dressed to Kill, but not for a story about Ethan Hunt. In reality, he doesn’t need them, all he needs is his really cool, super-agent skills that make you feel as if you are not worthy to be in his presence.
It also gets worse when the last 10 minutes turn into nothing else, but the same old garbage-like action movies that we are so used to seeing, filled with intense CGI that feels dated even 16 years later, and an unbelievable action-sequence that I’m usually fine with from time-to-time, but here, not so much. In all honesty, I feel like all of the confusion that goes on throughout this movie and it’s direction is the fact that De Palma just doesn’t fit-in well with the Hollywood royalty, and it seems as if his script, his final-product, and his ideas for a new, and improved action movie, were all used in filming, but never fully thought-out once it came to the actual final-product itself. You can blame anybody you want for that: Hollywood for being so stingy and closed-minded; De Palma for being so gullible thinking that Hollywood was going to let him tinker around with a movie based off of a beloved TV show; or the bazillion writers, who felt the dire need to include action, comedy, espionage, suspense, human-drama, twists, turns, mystery, and a dash of romance all into a story that didn’t need to be anything other than, “CIA agent gets framed, finds out who it was, and kills him.” But to be honest, I think the real one to blame is non-other than Mr. Ethan Hunt himself, that’s right, ex-Mr. Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise.
See, even though Tom Cruise does a great job as Ethan Hunt and definitely makes us realize just how frickin’ swift and cool this guy really is, we never get a moment where he’s not around and I think that’s all because Cruise was the producer on this and basically was given, whatever he damn well pleased at the time. It’s not a bad thing to have Cruise in the fore-front of your movie because the guy can act, and the guy can do this action-role very well, but every single-shot of the entire movie! I mean I get it, man, you’re a really cool actor that’s a big-name to have attached, but give somebody else something to do, other than smell the back-burns of your flatulence.
Case in point, high-quality stars like Kristin Scott Thomas, Ving Rhames, Jean Reno (Leon), Vanessa Redgrave, and even freakin’ Emilio Estevez are all here, but put on the side-lines because Cruise felt the need to be on his own time, and service his own movie. They are all great stars that can put in some great work, if they are given that shot, but they never are because it seems like Cruise wants it all about him, him, him, and nobody else. Yeah, Jon Voight gets the biggest-role out of the whole supporting-cast, but even his character goes through a weird-ass transformation about half-way through and just adds to the whole confusion of the movie, it’s plot, and just how Voight can move so well when he’s practically dying? Oh well, answers that will probably never be answered and who’s fault is that? You Tommy, you. Katie, I hate to say it, you were right, honey. Good decision on your part.
Consensus: De Palma definitely tries his damn near-hardest to try and make Mission: Impossible different from all of the other action movies out there in “Conventional Land”, but can’t seem to really get his final-product away unscathed from Hollywood without a couple of edits, re-writes that just seem to clutter everything up, and a lead-performance from Cruise that is good, but also feels a bit over-bearing as his face basically pops-up in every shot.
Think of this as one, big act of revenge courtesy of Sienna Miller.
The story centers around Anna (Keira Knightley) – a Russian wife and aristocrat who visits her brother in Moscow after his wife accuses him of adultery. While mediating between the two, Anna finds herself romantically drawn to the affluent bachelor Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson) and the two begin a tumultuous and passionate affair that will challenge the rigid social structures they live under and bring Anna to the depths of despair and isolation.
I don’t think I’m in the minority at all when I say that I don’t enjoy watching period-pieces, especially one that’s done by Joe Wright. Yes, even though the guy has made some pretty impressive movies of the year and always has something flashy and beautiful to show-us, I still can’t help but feel like the guy should be spreading his wings more and going for action-thrillers like Hanna, rather than going back to the period-pieces that made him so famous in the first-place. However, maybe a period-piece by Joe Wright is all I really needed to have me less-hateful of them in the first-place. Then again, maybe not. It’s probably just that period-pieces are way too boring for my fast-paced, 19-year old soul.
Even though this may come off like a normal period-piece that’s no different from any other one that has came-out in the past-decade or so, Wright brings us something new, something fresh, and something that’s worth taking a second-look. See, what’s so unique about what Wright does with this material in the first-place is that he stages the film as if it was all a play. Characters, situations, and events may change, but the setting rarely ever does and rather than just filming all-over-the-globe and having places look like 19th century Russia, Wright keeps it condensed into one, theater-room that brings a new level of art to it, but will also confuse the hell out of you, as it did to me.
For the first 20 minutes or so, I kept wondering to myself why everybody was acting and dressed differently, but still in the same-spot as they were before. Of course, as time went-on, I started to realize that this obviously wasn’t the case and it was just a stylish way of Wright trying to get our minds off of the fact that this is yet, another period-piece, with soapy melodrama to spare, but hey, I gotta give the guy some kudos. If it wasn’t for Wright directing this flick with his sharp-eye for color and design, then I don’t think this film would have held my interest as well as it did. That, and also the fact that Wright keeps this story moving at a pretty quick-pace that doesn’t seem slow-down for anything in this movie, which I liked it because it was a fresh-approach to a period-piece that I feel like I needed to fully be entertained by.
Sadly, this quick-pace doesn’t stick and after about the first hour or so, the story starts to really take a toll on you with it’s snail-like pace that rarely goes anywhere with itself. Like most period-pieces and the stories that inhabit them, this story’s tale of love, lust, and passion during a frowned-upon fling doesn’t generate anything new or exciting that we haven’t ever seen before and even though it’s like that throughout the whole-movie, it didn’t really seem to bother me because of the distraction Wright had on my mind. However, once that distraction was lifted, I felt like I could see all of the problems with this story and how it seemed to linger-on as if it had somewhere to go with itself, but needed a good shove here and there to actually do it.
Thankfully, Wright does give the story that occasional shove every once and awhile, but it’s not enough and the latter-half of this flick just really started to bore me away, like I usually expect from period-pieces of this nature. The story isn’t anything new, but I was expecting a different-look at the theme of adultery and finding the real you through it, however, none of those sparks ever seem to be lit. Instead, we get a bunch of scenes where Knightley just runs around, cries, throws temper-tantrums, gets jealous really easily, and has a bunch of panic-attacks that could have almost had her back to the psych-ward that she was in last year with A Dangerous Method. Actually, come to think of it, that would have been a lot more entertaining to watch then just Knightley acting all bi-polar because she needs her bones to get jumped. Crazy Knightley for the sake of being crazy = good. Crazy Knightley for the sake of just banging a gong and getting it on = not good. That’s as much of a surprise as to me as it must be to you, I know but it’s the truth.
Even though her character was one that I started to care less-and-less about as the flick went-on, Keira Knightley is still great as Anna Karenina and shows us why she deserves roles like these. Knightley has always been this actress that I’ve liked and saw a lot of promise in, yet, she never really seems to break out of that crap-mold that she always finds herself in with flicks like The Jacket and Domino. However, it seems like whenever she has to put on some old-school, pieces of cloth for a role, she’s always on top of her game and nails it just about every time. I think she’s an actress that deserves more credit because of the way she can handle weird roles like Karenina, and make her the least-bit likable and surprising with where her motivations go and don’t go.
Playing the eye of her affection, is Aaron Taylor-Johnson who seems to really be crankin’ it up as of late with all of these strange-roles he’s been taking as of late. Kick-Ass was obviously the one flick that had us all notice him, but then he takes something as wacky and weird as his role in Savages, and now this! The guy definitely likes to expand himself and see what he can do and he does that very-well here as Count Vronsky. Vronsky was a pretty-interesting character right from the start because he’s very sly and very mysterious, but he never lets his guard-down long enough for somebody to capitalize on it. That is, only until Karenina does and then all of the interest I had with him was just lost as he and her both seem to go through a pretty obvious, pit-fall in their relationship and as much as I would have like to sympathize with both of them, I just didn’t.
The guy who I did actually sympathize with here, was in fact, Jude Law as Karenina’s much-older hubby, Alexei Karenin. What surprised me the most about Law and his performance here as Alexei was that he doesn’t play the type of “jealous husband who’s being cheated-on” role like we are so used to seeing in movies of this nature. Law actually down-plays himself very well and only allows his emotions and feelings to come through his facial expressions and actions, rather than words. Law is definitely the most interesting out of the bunch and really made me feel sorry for him because even though some of it his fault for being such a dull, and boring dude, I couldn’t help but feel like the guy wanted nothing else other than to be loved and not cheated-on like he is by Anna. I would have said look for Law to be nominated for an Oscar by the beginning of next year, but due to this film’s already, mediocre-performance, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we won’t have to look at all. Shame too, because I think Law’s been due an Oscar for quite some time now.
Consensus: Joe Wright definitely adds an extra-level of style and beauty to an otherwise, ordinary and empty period-piece, but Anna Karenina still fails to deliver on the emotional fire-works that it’s premise seemed to promise, as well as interesting characters that we actually care about and have sympathy for as they go-on, with all of this lust and adultery.
I guess back in 1967, black-and-white milkshakes where wiped-off menu’s everywhere, as well?
This film tells the story of a liberal couple (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn), he a publisher and she an art gallery owner, whose value system is challenged when their only daughter (Katharine Houghton) announces one day her intention to marry a famous black surgeon (Sidney Poitier). Obviously you know that all racist hell breaks loose! Well…sort of…
In today’s day and age, no matter where you may be in the world or what you’re views on the subject are, but interracial dating is still an act that people frown upon. However, back in 1967, it was pretty much illegal, without ever really being considered a law in the first-place. It was just a mutual understanding that blacks and whites weren’t supposed to be together in a romantic sort of way, even though it still happened behind the curtains. It just goes to show you that time does change, which is a good thing for society and the world we live in, but sadly, is not a good thing for this movie.
Director Stanley Kramer surprisingly starts this film out as a comedy which, much to my surprise, actually worked and had me interested into where the hell this story could, and might just go with itself. There were plenty moments that had me chuckling here and there, which really took me by surprise considering how ready I was for some straight-up drama and even though the topic may ask for that, it still came off as the opposite and had me wondering just what the hell Kramer’s intentions were with this story and what he planned to do with it in the first-place. However, as film continues to go on and on and bring in some more subjects to the story, it begins to get a bit more serious and sadly, that’s where all of the problems for this flick begin.
The problem with most films from the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, etc., is that everything that seemed so cool and relevant then, are all lame and out-dated now. Obviously this is no surprise to any film-geek in the 21st century (points to self) who notices a huge change in the times, but this film really had me thinking about that problem the whole damn time and it just got in the way of everything. The dialogue does surprisingly have its moments, but also features plenty of other moments that are totally cheesy, over-dramatic, and very eye-rolling, almost to the point of where you wonder whether or not a certain line was supposed to be taken seriously, or these writers just thought it was time to have every character break-down and say the dumbest crap imaginable.
However, the point of this movie is what really invigorated me in the first-place and the real question is does this film bring up a lot about race and interracial relationships? In a way, yes is does, but is also done in such a way that it brings up all of these facts and problems with that point this movie is making, however, ends on it in such a terribly weird way that makes it seem like this film was aiming for something else other than the topic of racism. The film is basically telling us that it doesn’t matter what color, race, or social background two people come from, as long as they feel and have love for each other then that’s all that matters. That’s a nice theme and central message to have and think about as you go on throughout your whole day and life, but also seems terribly, terribly hokey and tame considering this issue that were dealing with here and how it was so damn taboo back in those days to even talk about, let alone, have a whole film discussing it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wanted this subject to be hit harder rather than touched and backed away from as if a little kid was at the petting zoo. Makes no sense? Yeah, I know, but just bare with me on that and realize that I was a scared kid at the zoo whenever my parents took me.
Though to be honest, I wouldn’t have had such a problem with this theme if it was handled at least a bit better in a more realistic and believable. Instead, the film goes with sentimental and light-approach that almost comes off as self-parody. The issue of interracial dating is an important one, and one that was really controversial back in the day, so it really made me disappointed in seeing just how soft of a obvious-treatment it was given here, without ever really allowing itself to break through the cracks and give us all something to think about that wasn’t just something that Hollywood was shoving down our throats. But it’s not all about interracial relationships, actually, some of it just talks about how the times are changing and how the younger generation is starting to gain more and more control over the older generation of people, an issue that goes on and on and on no matter what decade or generation it is. Once again, another important issue to bring up, but once again, the film handles it poorly. It got so bad during one scene where Tracy accidentally hits some young, black kids car and gets yelled at by him for being a dumb, old, senile man, which was a scene that had me laughing my ass off, even though the look on Tracy’s face was serious, as well as the kids’ as well. It’s one of those memorable scenes that you remember, strictly for all of the wrong reasons.
What does make this film a lot better and very watchable are the performances here given by the trio of leads. In what would be his last role ever, Spencer Tracy gives a heart-breaking performance that truly makes this film memorable. Throughout the whole film, Tracy’s character is constantly struggling with himself and his morals because he doesn’t know whether or not to say yes, or to say no to his daughter going off and getting hitched to this black man, that seems very charming and nice, but also worries him about their possible-future together. This problem is very understandable, and it’s also one that Tracy shows off perfectly with a great amount of sympathy and realism that seemed to lack from the rest of the film that surrounded him. Tracy has, and forever always will be a legend of acting and his performance here as the struggling father remains one of the finer performances from his later career, which makes it even more of a shock that the guy died only about 2 weeks later. Real shocker, but also a true testament to what a great actor he truly was and one that is still missed to this day.
Katharine Hepburn plays his elegant wife, Christina, and also gives another great performance, just like you’d expect from Miss Hepburn. She starts off as kind of a bitchy-type that you see in most of these “rom-coms” where it’s all about meeting the disapproving familia, but after awhile, you start to realize that this is real lady who only wants the best and whats safe for her daughter, but just can’t seem to get that idea off onto her hubby, who just so happens to be black. Hepburn has some really memorable moments here, especially when she fires a chick that works for her out of the blue and shows just why she was one of the greatest actresses to ever grace the screen. Once again, like Tracy, another actress that is still truly missed to this day and with her performance here, shows why you can do wonders with a mediocre script.
Let’s also not forget to mention the always terrific, Sidney Poitier as Dr. John Wade Prentice, in what is another role where he plays the calm, sophisticated, and charming black man that’s trying to win the approval of the common white-folk. Poitier is strong and perfect in a role that seems like he was fit to play, but there was one flaw to him that I didn’t seem to understand, and really took me away from his character’s believeability and motivations. I mean this black guy is essentially Mr. Perfect: he’s handsome, a renowned pro in his area of study, kind, respectful, and above all, a gentleman. Now why the hell would Tracy have such a problem with a kind of guy like that going out with his daughter? I get it, the guy is black but within the first 10 minutes of meeting the guy, he has to realize that he’s not that different from anybody that’s white. He’s just a simple, nice, and kind-hearted young man that just so happens to have the hots and wants to marry your daughter. Now what so bad about that, other than him being married to a white-girl in the 60′s? I may make it seem a lot less serious than it really was, but after awhile, these people should realize that the guy isn’t such a bad cat after all, and should at least be given a shot before they kick him to the curb.
In case you haven’t been able to notice, I mentioned that the trio of leads in this flick all do magnificent jobs, but I left out the other gal that just so happens to in this film as well, Katharine Houghton as the young-lady, that just so happens to have a case of jungle fever. The reason I chose not to include this chick with the three thespians up-top, is because she’s pretty bad and struggles through all of her dialogue, making her the main-reason why this film is as over-the-top as it comes out to be at certain points. I don’t know what the hell this chick does with her life now, but sad to say, I hope she didn’t show-up in any other flicks and ruin them, or hopefully, she got better at acting and decided to take a low-key approach. Either way, haven’t heard anything from the gal after this and I think the same could be said about Poitier and Hepburn, as well. Tracy doesn’t count, cause, well, you know, he died. Sorry, too soon?
Consensus: What was once a landmark film for discussing a controversial subject back in its day, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is now, in the year 2012, a very dated and tame film that doesn’t bring anything new to the subject of interracial dating, even though it does do a nice job of show off some very fine performances from the cast, especially Hepburn and Tracy, who is superb in his last role, ever.
It would have totally been better if the rest of Wu-Tang was here. Even you, ODB. Even you.
In feudal China, small village’s blacksmith (RZA) is forced by radical tribal factions to create elaborate tools of destruction. When the clans’ brewing war boils over, the stranger channels an ancient energy to transform himself into a human weapon. As he fights alongside iconic heroes and against soulless villains, one man must harness this power to become savior of his adopted people.
With Wu-Tang Clan madman RZA directing, co-writing with Eli Roth, and having Quentin Tarantino produce, The Man With the Iron Fists definitely seemed like something in my backyard. I love the old, kung-fu movies that RZA obviously loves and pay homages to here, and the story itself just seemed like the perfect fit for a mixture of those oldies, with the new, gore-tastic days of today. Sadly, all of that hype and promise lead to it being just another passion-project, that never goes it’s full-distance.
Apparently during post-production of this movie, RZA threw a huge fit because he had to cut-down a 4 and-a-half hour movie, to an hour and-a-half. To be honest, I don’t blame the guy because that is a butt-load of footage and seems like the type of job I wouldn’t want being told to do, especially if it was my own movie. However, I think that’s the problem this film hits in the first-place: it’s WAY too cut-down. What I mean by this is that certain characters will just show-up for 5 minutes, and apparently have some sort of significance to the plot, without us ever realizing it. It almost seems like there were all of these back-stories meant for these types of characters, but weren’t there for the final-cut, so instead, we get a bunch of characters that don’t really do anything for the plot other than just show-up, speak their lines, and get killed.
That element of this movie, and the fact that the story is pretty confusing is the reason as to why the cutting of this film hurts the final-product. Throughout the first hour or so, it’s never made clear as to who the villains are, who the heroes are, and just who the hell this story is going to be focused on. The Man With the Iron Fists himself, doesn’t really get much of a spot-light until the last 30 minutes or so to where he all of a sudden means a lot to the premise because of something bad that happens to him. I mean, there was an idea of who the bad guys were because of who they killed, how they did it, and what their intentions were, but after awhile, it just became a bit confusing and made me wonder just who was important to this story and who wasn’t. Once again, there was probably plenty of footage developing these characters and their story-lines a lot more, but sadly, didn’t make the final-cut and are just kind of left lost on the cutting-room floor. Poor scenes, maybe there’s a director’s cut in the future. Maybe.
Where the story fails, however, is where the action of this movie prevails and definitely made this a lot of an easier ride as it went through. Even though the whole story is filled with little bits and pieces of action here and there, the final 30 minutes is where all of it really comes into play and tears down the house and shows RZA’s true eye for fun and entertainment. The kung-fu is goofy with a lot of wire-work used to the point of where it almost seems like self-parody; the music is a mixture of hip-hop and some score music, even though it’s not entirely like the same soundtrack RZA used for Kill Bill, and gives every scene a pretty cool, retro feel while still keeping it current; and the gore/blood is pretty awesome and shows that there was a huge Roth inspiration going-on throughout this flick the whole time. All three of these factors is why I enjoyed the last 30 minutes of this flick because instead of focusing on a crappy and confusing plot, with crappy and confusing characters, we get what we came for: bloody, crazy, and fun action without any logical-reasoning as to why all of these people are flying in the air other than the fact that they are in a kung-fu movie.
Even though these action scenes are the only times the movie really comes to life, the cast does do their best to try and help-out, but end up getting over-shadowed. Lucy Liu is having the same type of fun with this role, as she had with the one in Kill Bill, and that’s all fine and dandy until you realize that the gal isn’t really trying anything new, other than working with a lesser-script, and no offense bud, but lesser-director as well. The only one who seems to be having the most fun, and brings that out onto the audience is Russell Crowe as an English mercenary, Jack Knife (gedd it?!?). Crowe is such a weird-pick for this role, but seems like the perfect-fit once you see him because he knows what movie he’s in, what role he’s playing, and what’s expected of him to make it work. Even though Crowe kicked plenty of ass in Gladiator, it still doesn’t make him any type of martial-artist master, but still shows that he can be as sinister and dangerous as he was in that classic. Yeah, it’s only been 12 years and I’m already calling that one a classic.
As a director, RZA may not be the unstoppable force to be reckoned with, but at least he still tries to maintain that credit as an actor. Sadly, his role is mainly just him keeping that one, signature, sullen-look we all know and love him for but sadly, doesn’t allow us to really stand-behind automatically, despite him being our main hero that we’re supposed to cheer for. Thankfully, though, RZA knows this and doesn’t take the center spot-light, which is pretty respectable in my opinion. Also, it was pretty neat to see former-WWE wrestler Dave Bautista show-up somewhere again as a bad-ass that can’t be stopped. I miss the hell out of that guy and it’s nice to see him doing movies now, even though a guy who turns to bricks and only has about 12 lines of dialogue isn’t the ideal role out there for a pro-wrestler. But hey, how many movies has John Cena showed-up in this year? Exactly.
Consensus: If it weren’t for the final 30 minutes of this movie where everything finally comes to head and is fun, exciting, and bloody just like we expected, The Man With the Iron Fists would have definitely been a huge-disappointment because of it’s lack of distinctive-style, sense of plot, or sense of characters. Instead, it just comes off as a minor-disappointment.
Should have just stayed in the box, Ryan.
Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy and Hope Davis appear in multiple roles which combine into three intertwining stories: A popular TV actor is under house arrest in “The Prisoner”; a TV producer struggles to launch a new series in “Reality Television”; and a video-game designer seeks help for his stranded family in “Knowing.”
I never really knew much about this flick other than that it’s been sitting on my Netflix queue for quite some time and that it wasn’t half bad since it had a 3 1/2 star rating. Thankfully, Netflix didn’t let me down. Or, well, not that I think just yet. Still questioning whether or not this thing really had me all ecstatic in the first-place.
Writer/director John August definitely started this flick off on the right foot with his first part, called “The Prisoner”. What I liked about this was that it was pretty funny, a little goofy, but also very strange how there was some weird ghost-like vision going on throughout this whole part and it made me wonder what I got myself into. There was a lot of questions that I kept on asking myself but then as soon as I thought the answer was coming up, Part 2 and 3 came around, then I got totally confused out of my ass.
It seemed like August definitely had a vision and clear-cut idea of what he wanted to do with all of these three intertwining stories, but for some odd reason, they seemed like they were all lost half-way through the second part. There are so many ideas being brought up, so many questions being asked, and so many different subplots coming from out of nowhere, that after awhile it became tiresome for me to handle it all in and try to understand just what August was throwing at me. The dude definitely had some bright ideas here but they all seemed to get jumbled up with whatever else came to his mind at the time of his filming.
And as confusing as the flick got, the ending left me with barely anything to feel. The last 10 minutes start to get very sappy and almost too serious because the whole film had this serio-comedy thing going on for the first two parts, then it suddenly just drops it for dramatic sake and it was a real let-down since August was doing pretty damn well with the comedy aspects here. It also bothered me that the everything was explained at the end, but I never really understood that either. The number 9′s significance to this story is explained but it seemed somewhat random and a lame excuse just to have some significance to the story. And the whole main twist at the end just seemed like a good idea on paper, but once it was played out on the big-screen, it comes off as way too pretentious and artsy for my liking. I didn’t really know what August was trying to do with these twists and the explanations to this story, but I definitely didn’t feel moved or inspired in any way shape or form.
However, with all of that said about the confusing twists and dumb-ass explanations, I still was very intrigued and entertained by this flick mainly because of August’s structure. The first two stories were very well-done and I mostly liked the second one because it put a cool spin on the whole “reality TV show” look and showed just how ugly and mean the entertainment business can be. Yeah, does it seem a little too random for something like this? Of course, but August’s writing kept me intrigued in wondering what was happening next. Also, sometimes if you pay close attention, you can sometimes catch little hints here and there about what’s really going on as other characters start to utter certain types of dialogue that has already been used in the film before and it was pretty cool to pick that up and see what August could do with this story. Shame that it ended up where it did, but it still had me entertained and that’s all that really matters.
One of the major hypes around this film was about whether or not Ryan Reynolds could carry a whole film all by his lonesome-self. Thankfully, he does just that. Reynolds is so damn good with all three of his roles he has in this flick and shows his range that goes almost all-over-the-place in terms of emotions. Still, I always bought what character Reynolds was playing and it made me realize that he does have some real talent, he just needs to get the right type of roles. Hope Davis was also very good in her roles and I don’t ever really remember her being as sexy before, as she is in this flick, and Melissa McCarthy (aka big chick from Bridesmaids) is also great here and brings a lot of humor and heart to each one of her characters, one of which, is actually herself. All three are great and play each of their roles very well, but in the end, it’s more about August’s style and what he can do with this wacky and wild story and it gets in the way of some rich performances from a pretty narrow, but interesting cast. Oh well, at least McCarthy’s been nominated for an Oscar already. I guess she’s beat these two to the punch.
Consensus: The Nines shows that Ryan Reynolds is definitely able to carry a film on his own, and definitely had me more interested in it’s crazy story than I originally thought I was going to be, but it gets way too confusing in a way that seems almost intentional from writer/director John August. However, I was never bored and maybe that’s a positive.
And we all thought that sharks were the ones to not be trusted when it came to going scuba-diving.
Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) need a holiday together. They aren’t really doing much with one another, can’t get frisky, and seem like two busy-bodies that just need to relax for a little awhile. That’s when they decide to go scuba-diving on a Sunday during their vacation, and are somehow left behind by the crew they came with. Pretty nice way to relax and love one another again if you ask me.
The idea of being lost in a huge sea, without anybody out there coming to get you is a pretty freaky thought as it is, but imagine if that was actually something that happened. Apparently, it has and that’s what this movie is based off of and as sucky as that whole situation may be, it doesn’t really generate a fun flick to watch. That is, unless your idea of fun is watching two, helpless human-beings stay stranded in the ocean, with the fear of being eaten alive by sharks clear in their mind, then you may have a ball for this movie and may want to also check yourself into a psychiatric facility as soon as possible. Hey, I’m just saying.
Probably the scariest element of this whole movie has to be the fact that it shows you these two people, lost at sea, all by themselves (except for the lurking sharks), and rarely ever cuts away from them. So, basically, the sense of danger and doom is just looming in the background and makes you pretty freaked-out once you start to feel like a shark’s going to come-up and bite one of these people’s legs off at any second. It’s as terrifying of an experience to watch, as much as it’s one that definitely provides a great deal of tension and that is exactly what we get here.
Writer/director Chris Kentis definitely allows this low-budget approach to take over the film and just give us a low-key look at something that’s not only terrifying, but could happen to anyone if they aren’t careful enough to watch. I mean, getting lost at sea by a bunch of divers you’re grouped up with seems highly unlikely (especially after a movie like this that high-lights that terrible happening), but there is still that shred of an idea that it could possibly happen and that’s what’s so freaky about this material. Kentis taps into that idea and lets his tension run wild, but not as wild as I was expecting, mainly because it comes around for only a couple of minutes throughout the whole film.
As for those other minutes that seem to make up the rest of the flick? Well, they are pretty much dedicated to two, a-holes that seem to fight, complain, bitch, and fight some more about the situation they’re in, without ever seeming to come together and show they’re love at all. I get that the film wanted to create this claustrophobic atmosphere by focusing on this couple and their dynamic throughout this whole, freak-situation but there still wasn’t much for me that felt like it was worth holding onto for them. They rarely ever shared an agreement on anything, they rarely ever showed any signs of affection or love, and they don’t even seem to get along with one another. So, pretty much, it’s almost like they’re together just because they can and that’s not what love’s all about in my book, especially when you’re lost at sea and you have no one else to be with.
It also adds insult to injury by the fact that the two people that play the characters (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis), aren’t very good at improvising, or spouting-out scripted-lines, either. Actually, I can’t be too harsh on them because they do at least try with a script that seems more concerned with the sharks than the actual humans themselves, but they don’t really add anything all that much either. There’s one scene in the beginning of the movie that shows that they are running through some problems as a couple, but that’s pretty much it. Then, they’re stuck in the water together, with sharks at their toes, and practically up each other’s asses about everything they’re doing right, and what they’re doing wrong. Hey, if you need couple counseling, just go out in the middle of the ocean and see if you can’t patch things up sooner or later. If one of you dies, then you definitely know that they weren’t the right one for you. That’s the message I got by the end of this movie and it’s probably not the one that Kentis had written-out for me in the first-place, but then again, what the hell was his message after all? Don’t get lost at sea? Sharks are bad? Professionals that you pay a lot of money can fuck up too? Don’t trust everybody who allows you to go diving into the sea? Hell, I putting too much thought into this movie, who the hell cares?!?
Consensus: Open Water definitely features some great moments of pure tension that are sure to have you freaked the hell out, but doesn’t have characters you care about or root for, and just seems more concerned with it’s sharks than the actual human-beings in the film itself. Then again, I can’t really say that I blame the film all for that. These two were freakin’ jack-asses.
I don’t think as many people would have gotten on Michael Vick’s case if he had zombies fighting each other.
Set in the 1950′s, the story takes place years after a radiation cloud took over the Earth and allowed the dead to walk again (aka zombies). But a company named Zomcom has finally made it able to allow zombies to not only be servants and do all of your chores, but also be your friends in ways, too. Little Timmy Robinson (K’Sun Ray), has finally found a friend to confide in named Fido (Billy Connolly), problem is, he’s a zombie that actually threatens mankind, something my dog has yet to do.
Take a Leave it to Beaver episode, give him the dog Lassie, have it directed by George A. Romero, and this is what you may come up with. Sadly, for all of you Zombie-genre lovers out there, it’s just not quite as awesome as one would expect. But having a zombie as a pet would make for a great show-and-tell.
Basically, this is a one-joke premise but writer/director Andrew Currie milks it for all that he’s got. The whole joke behind this film is that zombies walk around as normal citizens doing normal citizen-like activities such as taking out the trash, delivering milk door-to-door, grilling some burgers on the grill during a BBQ, and even providing some twisted and sick-minded people some lovin’ at night as well. It’s an original way of telling a zombie satire and for the most part, Currie makes it work because he always plays off of these 50′s-like caricatures that have been done so many times in plenty other films, but this time just provide more humor due to the twist. I laughed a good amount during this film, which really took me by surprise since it seemed too obvious, but there were some nice touches that Currie gave this film for that ultra-retro 50′s look and feel.
But as good as funny as this may be, there’s always something here that’s left to be desired. They milk this premise just enough to make me laugh and enjoy myself, but they never go the full distance to where I was surprised at the turns they took with this story. You can tell where this story is going to go from start-to-finish, how, and why exactly it is and that was a total bummer considering this could have been a nice blend of humor that mixes itself up nice with a horror movie as well. In fact, that horror element was barely there at all because any time it seemed like the film was going to go for a full-out, zombie scare-fest, it sort of just cut it out as quick as possible and made it seem like Currie played it a bit too safe.
I wasn’t expecting to be totally scared out of my mind with this material, but to me, zombies are some of the scariest mothereffers even when it comes to horror (even if they are the oldest trick used in the book). So when a film comes around with zombies in it, regardless of how they’re used, I’m expecting to be a little scared at the fact that they’re running rampant, eating people, and spreading their virus. The problem here, is that I didn’t feel any tension whatsoever and I was barely even scared by the fact that these zombies could start to eat up this whole entire, little town of Willard (teehee).
Also, for all of you gore-loving son of a bitches out there, there’s enough of that here to satisfy your dirty needs, but even that feels a bit tamed. Yeah, there’s a couple of chewed-up limbs here and there, but nothing where I literally wanted to throw-up. I never feel like that with that when I watch horror movies, but I would always like to. That’s a real shame too, since this film is rated-R and I don’t really think that Currie would have had anything to worry about, had he gone on a bit farther with the gore-pushing.
The performances by everybody in this film was the real strong-point and I think one of the elements that entertained me the most. Carrie-Anne Moss is great as the subdued mom that starts to come out of her shell a bit and become a cool mommy, once things start to get a little twisty with her hormones. No trust me, it doesn’t go in the direction with her character that you may think but it would have been a lot more cool and twisted had it done so. Dylan Baker plays her a-hole husband, and he’s great as well playing a daddy that doesn’t seem to know how to even do the right thing for his son and can’t stop complaining about the fact that his daddy almost ate him once. Billy Connolly was also great as Fido, in a more subdued role where he has to use a lot of growling and facial expressions to really convey what his character’s intentions, even if he is just a damn zombie. That actually makes it a bit harder for him, but he still pulls it off very well. K’Sun Ray was fine as little Timmy Robinson, and doesn’t really seem to be one of those little, annoying child-actors that we usually get in movies like these. Oh yeah, and Tim Blake Nelson is here as one of those twisted and sick-minded people I mentioned earlier. That guy is always a blast to watch.
Consensus: The cast, comedy, and original premise make Fido a lot more entertaining, but it never goes the full distance to be flat-out gory, sick, twisted, or even scary for that matter, and that’s one of the most disappointing factors of this could-have-been comedy-horror classic.