Mormons ruin everything! Except for Ryan Gosling. He is incapable of ruining anything.
The tale of Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney is a very strange one. She started out a simple, sweet girl who grew up on a farm, fell in love with her boy-toy in high school, then found him in England, kidnapped him, and forced him to have sex with her until he eventually got used to it all. Sound strange at all, yet? Well, what’s even stranger is how the UK press had a field-day with this and went crazy with this, well, crazy woman, making her a star and adding more head-space to her ego as it is. However, Joyce McKinney is not done with her 15 minutes of fame and comes back to the spotlight in some strange, unexpected ways.
If you’ve never, ever heard of Joyce McKinney, don’t worry, because by the end of this flick you will have all but enough of her. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, it’s just something you are going to be a witness to since this whole documentary isn’t just about the crazy shit she did for love with a Mormon named Kirk Anderson, but it’s about her as a person. Whether or not she’s crazy, is totally up to you, even though this movie and the events that occurred to her life after the movie was made, may have you make up your mind.
Errol Morris is one of the greatest documentarians of our time, so when he makes a movie about whatever the hell fascinates him, most likely, it’s going to fascinate the hell out of you as well. What once begins as a simple tale of a girl who falls in love with a dude, does whatever she can to keep that love, and how she gets in trouble for doing so, soon becomes more and more complicated as it’s more about this chick and how the British press went insane with her story. I don’t want to give away anything that might spark up some debates about spoilers, but what you are going to see with this movie and story is very odd and very surreal, but unlike Catfish and I’m Not There where it simply plays with the toys and mechanics of your mind as well as a documentary; it’s all real. A little too real, some may say, but it’s the facts of life that make it well worth living. Even if nuts like Joyce McKinney do roam about it.
However, what I say about McKinney is useless, because Morris never seems to ever be frowning-upon, or even judging her. He just lets her tell her story in a straight-forward way, with no frills or strings attached. Now, of course there is the idea that some of the shit she says may be a bit too cuckoo for Coco Puffs, but it’s just who she is. In a way, you learn to accept her story for what it is, and you learn to accept her as hard as it may be. But after awhile, you do start to feel sympathy for her story, what it is that she’s talking about, and just where the hell she has gone with her life. Sure, she may be a tad bit nutso, but at least she’s entertaining to watch and listen to, whether she’s talking about kissing Keith Moon or dressing-up as a nun to escape the press. Whatever the topic of choice may be, this chick loves talking about and holds a certain type of energy to it that’s almost contagious.
Hell, not almost, it is!
That’s what makes this documentary actually a fun one to watch, that isn’t heavy, doesn’t make you contemplate where the world has gone to these days, and doesn’t leave you with a dour-attitude towards life. It’s a bit weird, a bit of fun, a bit manic, and a bit happy, and coming from Morris (aka, the dude who’s known for getting a wrongfully-convicted man out of jail, mind you); it’s a nice surprise. Morris tackles the ideas of what it takes to be a celebrity, or somebody that is indeed considered “news-worthy”, but it doesn’t go any further than that. Can’t say I’m too disappointed with that fact, but at the same time, can’t say that it doesn’t show either.
There comes a point in this flick, once all is said and done, the wackiness is gone, and Joyce herself has all cooled down a bit, that the flick seems to sort of lose some steam and in a way, not know where the hell to go with itself. Morris seemed to get a little frantic at this stage of the movie because where he had, at once, had a whole story about a random chick who all of a sudden got big for kidnapping some dude, all of a sudden found itself at barely anything where nobody seemed to care about her, and nothing special was really happening in her life. And I’m not saying that her life isn’t special at all, but it’s that at a point, her life seems to lose the interest-factor that seemed to have been working for the movie so darn well the hour beforehand. I don’t know if Joyce McKinney’s story was all that worth a full, hour-and-twenty-minute documentary, but I do know that Morris finds himself in a bit of a sticky-situation where he’s so pleased and ecstatic about this material, but it begins to loosen-up after awhile.
That said, you can definitely see this movie to understand what a documentary can do if it takes something real, but also bizarre, and make it into a movie that plays out almost better than any fictional, Hollywood-produced movie. All flaws of the movie’s last half-hour or so, Morris obviously shows the love and joy he has with what a human-life can be all about, and isn’t afraid to show it for all of it’s craziness or originality. I can definitely say that Joyce McKinney is an original in the way that she took her fame, went with it, ended it, and then came back to it out of nowhere (in the strangest way, as well). Best aspect of it all too, is that it’s all REAL. Don’t get to see too much of that nowadays, now do you?
Consensus: Tabloid is nowhere near being Errol Morris’ best documentary, but there is still the unabashed feeling for fun, energy, weirdness, and originality that is present with this story, as well as the man’s direction of how he presents it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Henry and Dean Whipple (Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron) are a father-son duo that are trying to get along, while they are also trying to buy as much farm-land as possible. Henry is all about his job, making money, being with his wife (Kim Dickens), and also being able to lay-around with his gal on the side (Heather Graham). As for Dean: he’s all about racing, causing havoc, being with his gal-pal (Maika Monroe), and having the dream that he will one day become the next big, NASCAR racer. The two don’t get along and can’t really see eye-to-eye on what their lives have turned out to be, but once Henry runs into the possibility of losing the one thing he loves the most (his farm-land), the two come together in surprising ways. Sort of.
The movie’s title, At Any Price, may seem like the dullest in the world. It’s almost as if the creators had a finished-product, but didn’t know how to sell it to the big crowds, so they just decided something that seemed inspirational would work and get people interested. Not for me, which is why I was not expecting anything at all worth while from this flick and for the first hour or so: that’s exactly what I got. Then, something happens in the middle of it all, that not only changes your view on the movie as a whole, but also has the title make more sense than ever. Can’t say what it is, but it will hit you like a ton of bricks, as it did to me. Trust me.
Maybe I’m out-of-the-loop or something, but I’ve never seen director Ramin Bahrani at work. I hear great things about his movies, but just have never given any of them a chance for the sole reason that none of them have ever seemed to really interest me. However, that’s just me and as I can see from his past movies ratings on Rotten Tomatoes: the dude’s got a lovely-following. But as the movie began and the ground-work for the story was being laid; I had no idea why.
It’s not that the dude’s a dull director, actually: it’s the opposite. Bahrani finds a way to paint a portrait of this small town in Iowa that feels and looks as if it should be the little slice of Americanism that you can only get with these types of places, and that’s exactly what it seems like after awhile. He finds beauty in the most simple things, such as a father tending to the rows and rows of corn, or a mother fetching potatoes out from underneath the soil. It’s all there and it all makes you feel at home, but there’s more stuff going on here than meets the eye, and that’s the whole problem right there.
Bahrani takes the over-stuffing of useless characters and subplots, as a way of portraying conflicts among the central characters. Instead of having the character of Henry Whipple just be a guy that’s struggling maintaining a loving-relationship with his son; he’s got to be banging some chick on the side, or his one son (the favorite) didn’t come home when he was supposed to and is out, climbing up the mountains in Argentina, causing even more anger and pain for the man on the inside. But Henry isn’t the only one: Dean goes through the same motions too. Not only does Dean seem to be having daddy-issues; but he also is having problems with his racing-career, being a loyal boyfriend, and is leading a life of crime and hate.
Sounds like too much already for a hour and 45 minute movie? Well, that’s because it is.
If Bahrani left these two central-characters alone, have them face one dilemma each, and leave that be it; then everything would have been fine, dandy, and easier to take in. However, that’s not what Bahrani does and instead, adds more and more context to this story that doesn’t feel needed. Yes, some of it does round-out these characters to make them feel and seem more humane in the way they go about their days together and separated, but it also feels like unneeded melodrama that we could easily deal with if we came home from school and turned on the Lifetime channel. Also, not to mention the fact that the movie goes down some crazy-routes that not only will make you scoff, but just might have you wonder what the hell it is that you’re watching.
But it should be noted, once again, that the one crazy-route that they decide to go down is something I was not expecting in the least-bit, did not know what to make of it at first, and after awhile of thinking and contemplating what it meant to the whole story in a nutshell, I came to the conclusion that it made sense and made the movie a whole lot better as a whole. I’m so damn tempted to go down that dick-headed road and say what it is, but I just can’t. What this final-twist in the story brings to the front, is not just character’s relationships and what each one means to the other, but how they are in everything and anything together.
After all of the strange shit that Bahrani throws at us, he ends on a pretty heartwarming note that touches any person who’s ever been there for a family-member. Whether you noticed that your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, dog, cat, etc. is going through obvious problems or not; you’ve always been there for them when they needed a helping-hand the most. That’s the idea that this movie touches on and despite taking some odd side-streets to get to it’s destination; it still works. Not in the longest-time has there been a flick that I’ve seen, but relatively bored and unsurprised by it, and kick me in the ass, slap me in the face, and open my eyes out of nowhere and change my final-thoughts on the whole-product; what it meant and what message the director was trying to get across. Seriously, once the final-twist comes up: you are going to either run with it and continue to think about it, or throw it in the garbage, and forget about the rubbish you just witnessed. It’s your call. Mine was the former.
Probably the best and most memorable aspect of this whole movie, without a doubt is the fact that after all of these years of showing up in random, bloated CGI-fests like this one, or that one: Dennis Quaid finally gets a role that’s worth his time and effort. Quaid has been one of these actors (refuse to call him a “character actor”), that shows up for work, does what he has to do, and goes on with his day. Nothing more, nothing less. He barely leaves an impression on the viewer, but lets us know that he’s there, if it’s only soeley to collect a paycheck.
All of that better change now, especially after a performance like this as Henry Whipple.
What’s so great about Quaid here is that the dude never seems like he’s phoning it in. Henry Whipple, on-paper, doesn’t seem like a very-complicated character as he’s just a dude trying his hardest to make his son, his wife, and his wallet happy, and leaving it like that. However, Quaid finds a way to make this guy as complicated as ever, which was a total sight to see because with every new scene you get with Quaid on-screen, is another new scene where you find out more about Henry, and his character. You always feel for this guy whenever he’s doing something; whether it be trying to win the heart of his son back again by showing up to his racing matches, or trying to buy-off somebody’s land during a funeral. No matter what the situation may be that the dude finds himself in, you always feel for the dude and has you on-board with his character throughout the whole movie, even when he is fucking up. And trust me: he does. Quaid is amazing and I hope this gets him more and more quality roles in the future, as the dude deserves it. Screw, Meg Ryan! Team Quaid!
That’s not to say the others in this cast aren’t worth talking about, because they all do fine with their lettuce and carrots. It’s just that Quaid is the one with the real meat. Zac Efron is fine as Dean, the troubled-son who doesn’t want to take over the daddy’s business and wants to be a rebel by racing. Efron is fine in the role as he shows off his guns, his good-looks, and his attitude, but the character is thinly-written and feels like he’s trying to go for the same feel of a young-Brando or Dean. Doesn’t quite hit the same marks, but is good with what he’s called on to do.
Playing his mommy is Kim Dickens who knows what’s going down with these two when they are busy at work, and are out in their free-time, but she keeps it all to herself and is good at it. She’s very subtle, but still dramatic to make enough of a difference in the grander-scheme of things. Heather Graham is wasted here as the whore of the town, Meredith, as it seems like she can’t be a normal person without a dick in her or some form of her clothing taken-off. Lastly, to round of the troupe of women we have on display here is Maika Monroe as Dean’s girlfriend who not only likes him for what he is, but also likes his father because of the determined business man he shows to her, as well as everybody else around him. Monroe is a welcome newcomer because she feels like a young gal that’s confused and unknowing about what she wants to do with her life, but still full of love and life. Hopefully, just like with Quaid, this means we get to see more of her in the near-future.
Consensus: At Any Price is a strange movie, but not for the sake of it’s tone or direction. It’s one of those movies that starts off so dull, continues on with same feeling/pace, but ends up taking you by storm with a final-act surprise, giving us a wider-glimpse of these characters, who they are, and what they mean to one another.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
That’s why you gotta fly high, Marriott Inn-style, baby.
It all started on a very-rainy night with a woman getting run over by a limo-driver (John Cusack). After this, the man tries to save her life by bringing her to a motel in the middle of the desert, owned by an odd man named Larry (John Hawkes). There’s no such luck, until a cop (Ray Liotta) with a prisoner in his custody (Jake Busey), comes on by. There might be hope, but there somehow isn’t, considering the more and more people that show up, the more deaths there are. But here’s the kicker: nobody has a single-clue exactly as to who’s killing all of these people in the shadows. It could be anybody. Hell, it could even be YOU, the viewer!! AHHH!!
This movie is such an obvious rip-off of an Hitchcock movie, it’s not even funny. Everything from the strange-o characters, to the tense setting, to the mystery, and hell, even to the actual motel itself. It looks exactly like the one that Norman Bates rented out for anybody that strolled-along, almost to the point of where the actual sign itself continues to flicker on-and-off to portray just how shady the area actually is. Yes, it can get pretty obvious where the creators took their inspiration from, but the distractions go away once the story starts, and ultimately: where the fun really begins.
Going into this movie, thinking that you have a hot-head for detail and knowing what’s good when it comes to any movie, may just have take your high-hat off for this one because it’s a total puzzle in every stretch of the imagination. Every time a new character is brought to our attention, more of a mystery is presented to us, and just when we think we know exactly what this story is all about, where it’s going, and who’s going to end up being the slasher behind the closed-doors; the movie still toys with us and gives us something new to think about. There were countless times in this movie where even I thought I had it all figured-out, but somehow I was stooped, once again.
Movies like this where you can’t trust anyone, not even the director himself (in this case, James Mangold), always are a treat for me to watch because it’s very rare where I actually get to check out a movie that makes me second-guess myself, almost every step of the way. No matter what I thought was right, I was usually wrong. Even by the end once all of the pieces seemed to start to come together, once more, I was slapped in the face with a disapproving look. Not to say it was an insult or anything, but it was more of a slap to wake up, and look at the finer-details in order to see if I could really get on with this movie, and what it was trying to pull.
But most movies like this, with all of the twists and such, remind me of a young-at-heart relationship between two people. At first, all is good. You see where things could go, you get happy, and you start to appreciate everything that you have in front of you, even if you may be stepping-out of your comfort-zone a bit. Actually, maybe even a bit too much for yourself. However, suddenly things go awry and you realize that maybe not everything was as perfect as you once thought it was, and now it’s time for a slight-change. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to over-do everything, show the other person how much you care, and rather than gaining their love and support back, you gain other thoughts and feelings that you didn’t quite want in the first place. You know, the baddie one.
That’s how this movie felt to me. Once everything got ready and going, I was happy and ambitious. I expected the movie to keep me puzzled, glued-in to what was going on, and shock me, every time that it felt like it wanted to. However, things got a little crazy at a certain point that I eventually started to realize that maybe this movie was turning it’s wheels a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the movie for being fun, clever, and original in it’s own type of way, but after awhile, it only went on for so long and so far, that is, until I started to question whether or not this movie even believed in the twists it was throwing at the wall and seeing what stuck, and what sort of just surely, but slowly continued to slide-down the wall.
Then, on the other side of the stadium, I am a bit torn with this movie because I enjoyed myself, had fun, and continued to second-guess myself, even when I was sure that I was correct in my pretentious, critical-ways (hey, it comes with the job). So therefore, I guess it’s all just a judge of character. Whether or not you are able to take the numerous twists the movie begins to launch into the story, is all up to you. For yours truly, some of it worked and seemed smart, whereas some of it didn’t quite work so well and actually seemed goofy. Oh well, that’s just me. Make up your own minds, kids!
But no matter what crazy shit a movie tries to pull, you at least have to give it credit for getting a cast such as this assembled, and allow them to do whatever it is that they can do to make a movie as goofy as this work. Nobody is really playing very far and away from what we’ve seen them do before, but at least they own it and are game for this type of material. At least. John Cusack is good as the ring-leader of the group, who knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to pull it all off so no more people get killed. You see that he has a past where the guy used to be a cop, but suffered a problem that left him emotionally-strained and messed-up in the head, therefore, he left his duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, right? Keep on guessing.
Ray Liotta plays, as you could expect, a cop that has a huge chip on his shoulder with a dangerous criminal in his custody, and a bit of anger-issue. However, as obvious and conventional as this may sound (even for a character played by Liotta), Liotta makes him work because you constantly believe that there is more to this dude than he lets in, even if the character himself doesn’t seem to admit it. Liotta is always good at playing these types of roles, even if it sort of has become a trademark of his by now. That’s fine, though, because the guy seems like he would do the right thing if he had to, but does that mean he’s really a good guy? Keep on guessing.
The only one here who really seems to have a clear-enough conscience not be considered a prime-suspect in all of the killings, is a whore with a heart of gold played by Amanda Peet. I usually love Peet in everything she does, but she seemed a bit annoying here. It wasn’t Peet herself, as much as it was more of her character for having that loud, obnoxious Southern-accent that continued to ring in my ears, even when she wasn’t yelling at somebody for looking at her hot body. Yeah, blame us for this, Amanda!
But they aren’t the only ones in this movie, they’re just the main stars that may (or may not) attract the audience to the wider-show. There’s plenty more where that came from, and they are all great. Clea Duvall plays a young, just-recently married gal that’s having problems with her d-bag hubby; John C. McGinley’s character’s wife is the one who gets hit in the first place and is good at being awkward and twitchy, without reminding me of the legend of all this; John Hawkes is a fun-fit as the type of dude you’d expect to own a motel out in the middle of nowhere (meaning he’s a bit of a creep-o); and lastly, the lovely and equally-as-creepy Rebecca De Mornay is here as an aging, but still very uptight actress that believes she deserves more than she’s given. Art imitating life? Just maybe.
Consensus: Most of what Identity has to offer and whether or not you’ll be able to go along for the ride, is all up to you, the viewer. Twists and turns will occur, and it all depends on whether or not you are game for them. Me, I was quite game, but I will admit that there is some goofiness underneath the blankets of a story that seemed drench in mystery.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Come on Indy! Don’t get caught with your Willy!
Presumed Innocent is about anti-heroic lawyer Rozat “Rusty” Sabich (Harrison Ford), a Kindle County prosecutor and presumptive heir to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office currently occupied by Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy). When Rusty’s attractive colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi) turns up murdered, the evidence points to Rusty, despite his being married with children and the type of dude that would never, ever pull a deadly-stunt like that off. However, is there more going on than he thinks that may point fingers to others out there. Even the people he loves and works with? Only time will tell until everything is revealed.
Old-school mystery thrillers are always my favorite to watch, and for some odd reason, I always get the urge to watch them during the summer time. Don’t know why that’s always been a thing for me. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that every movie in the summer that’s released or viewed, are usually dumb as hell and require barely any thought, or maybe it’s just a thing I do. I don’t know, maybe it’s as simple as that. No further thinking required.
All of the credit for this film has to go to director Alan J. Pakula for bringing a very moody and tense atmosphere to this flick because it honestly gave me a feeling that I couldn’t trust anybody in this story. It’s a very interesting “whodunit” that keeps you guessing the whole time, even when you think you got it all under control. Usually when courtroom scenes show up, they usually spell-out more hints and clues that make the wider-picture seem so much more obvious, but here, Pakula really seemed to be pulling out the rug right from underneath us, and best of all: he seemed to be enjoying it. That’s what I like in my old-school, mystery-thrillers and watching this one was nowhere near being different.
But the most important aspect of this story that made it work was the courtroom scenes themselves, some of which; are very smart and well-written. There are plenty of courtroom drama’s out there like A Few Good Men and A Time to Kill that have great and snappy dialogue to get you riled up and excited, but it’s also dialogue that feels very “staged”, which, I guess is the point considering they’re movies and all but it gives you this feel that maybe these certain types of people wouldn’t talk like this, had they actually been put into situations like this. Here, a lot of the courtroom dialogue feels very realistic and everybody that either defends their own case, questioning someone, or objects, all seem like real people actually talking. I know this is a weird compliment to give this flick but it’s just a very rare thing to see a courtroom flick just shoot it straight, without trying to throw out any lines like “You can’t handle the truth!”. Even though, I do have to say that 20 years later, that whole scene/line is still pretty epic.
Problem is, after all of this build-up, all of this suspense, and all of this smart-ass questioning going on in the courtroom, the film still disappoints. BIG TIME. I don’t want to give anything away as to what happens in the end, or even what the end is all about but it features a huge twist on the story and not only makes you think differently about what you just saw but also, all of the characters themselves. This all sounds cool and nifty, but it’s very weird how they approach this ending by having an explanation told in a way that would remind you of a psychotic horror movie character. I knew by the way this story was, there was going to be a big twist in the end, but I didn’t know it was going to be handled in such a lame and anticlimactic way. I’m tempted to throw my whole life away and spill the beans, but I still want to keep my credibility. It’s stupid though. Enough said.
Even though Harrison Ford hasn’t had the best track-record in recent years (even though he was awesome in 42), you still got to give it to the guy because he’s able to pull off the action roles like Indiana Jones or Han Solo, but also able to breakaway from them and pull off some dramatic, regular-guy roles as well. Ford is great here as Rusty showing a lot of emotional strain just in the way he looks and way he sounds, but also distances himself away from the audience and makes you think twice about his character as to whether or not he’s involved with the murder he’s investigating. Actually, this was a pretty cool feature but there comes a point in the film where Rusty eventually does get accused of murdering this gal, and shows barely little or no emotions about it. I get it, the film is trying to make us question whether or not he’s involved with the actual murder, but it just didn’t come off as real considering the guys normal and somewhat happy life is in danger. Still, Ford can rock these roles out very well and he’s no different here.
The rest of the cast is full of a bunch of familiar faces that are sure to make you happy when they pop-up on screen. Raul Julia is a lot of fun to watch as Rusty’s lawyer, who always seems to have a trick up his sleeve and brings a lot of humor and charm to the courtroom scenes, even when they seem to get uber serious; Brian Dennehy is playing one of his usual nasty and corrupt characters here as Rusty’s morally compromised boss; and Greta Scacchi has a couple of good scenes as our murdered lady-friend, Carolyn Polhemus, and it’s pretty easy to see why so many dudes would fall for her, especially a guy like Ford. There’s also plenty of other people to see here too, but I won’t spoil them for you. Just check it out yourself and see how many faces you can make to names. Movies like this are fun like that. Most of the time at least.
Consensus: The tension, the mystery, the mood, the atmosphere, and the acting seemed to all come together for Presumed Innocent by one point to where it was really kicking ass in a way I wasn’t expecting, but because of it’s out-of-nowhere, nutty-twist at the end, major points had to be taken away. But the build-up is still awesome, so expect that.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
The only way you were getting rich in the 30′s was by robbing banks. So yeah, hate on these two for being young, smart, and prosperous.
Living in America during the Depression was hard. However, for Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty): it sure as hell wasn’t as long as they had their guns, their minds, and their love to fully round everything out. Together, the two pulled off a series of daring bank robberies and found their way to becoming two of the most notorious outlaws in American history. This is their sad, but true story.
Viewing these older movies and reviewing them is not an easy chore to complete, especially when they are considered “classics” like this one here. Usually, you have to take this movie how it is but you also feel pressured into making it sound like this movie is some end-all, be-all masterpiece, just because you saw people like Roger Ebert (R.I.P. my friend) say so. However, I’m not going to back down from a fight and I’m going to step over the line and say that THIS MOVIE IS……..good.
What makes this movie such a classic in terms of American cinema is because it was broke down some large-barriers back in the day. Due to the fact that it was filled with incredible amounts of violence, some sexual tension that was actually shown (somewhat), and some booty-showing, this movie had some people up in arms about what people should, and should not see in the movie theaters (oh, if only they could see us now). But that was back in 1967, when these sort of things being in a movie were almost unheard of, which is why you have to give Arthur Penn a lot of credit for taking that huge step and showing his material for what it was worth. The violence and killings here aren’t as graphic and disturbing as some of the stuff we see now, but the film still has plenty of it to make anybody’s grand-mom get a little scared.
One thing that at first bothered me, was that I felt like Penn was really just glamorizing everything that these two did. From the robberies, to the kidnappings, to the murders, and to everything else, it felt like I was watching Penn show us how cool it is to be like them, when in reality: he was just showing us the facts. A lot of the stuff you see in this film, is pretty much how it all happened and it’s not being shown in any hip or cool way, it’s just the way it was and how these two functioned back in the days. And whenever the shoot-out scenes do come up, they are very fun and you never know what’s going to happen next. That is, unless you haven’t been paying attention in history-class, ever.
But what really made me realize that this is no masterpiece, is that it’s just so damn dated with it’s writing. Right from the start, we get all of this corny talk between Bonnie and Clyde where they are constantly just acting like total dumb-asses with their Southern accents that make them sound like a really-bad extra from Deliverance. That was obviously annoying, and a lot of the delivery that Beatty and Dunaway used too, was annoying just because they seemed just a tad too spirited about all of this, almost to the point of where it was basically campy. I mean, what do I expect from a film that was made in the late 60′s, but I know what bothers me, and half of this dialogue is what did it for me.
Also, aside from the main 4 in this cast, everybody else sucks at acting. The kid who played C.W. Moss was really bad and made me laugh my ass off by how idiotic this character, and this actor was. For a prime example, there was the one scene where Bonnie and Clyde first meet him, and he just looks so damn awkward, stumbling around the set like a little fool. His character is pretty much one of those stereotypical country-bumpkins, that doesn’t know how to do anything else other than fix cars (because you know, that’s what all Southerners do). Hell, even the film wanted to take the high-road and go off and write him as he truly was in real life, then good, just get a better actor to play it so it isn’t so damn obvious that this kid blows major cock. There’s plenty of others here that excruciatingly bad as well and I think it’s just a strange mixture of bad acting and some bad lines that just makes everybody come off like they’re over-acting it a bit. But in some cases, they aren’t even acting at all, so it’s either one way or another. No reason for the Blondie reference, but just thought I’d throw it in there while it’s still fresh and clean in my head.
But other than these terrible supporting-performances, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway do some pretty kick-ass jobs with their titular roles and are easily the best things about this flick. They definitely have some great chemistry together and you can tell that the film is going to show them a lot together, but it surprisingly doesn’t. Instead, it gives them more time apart to develop on their own, but even when it does come back to them being with one another, it feels like it’s developing both of their characters and giving us two people that we can feel some essence of sympathy for and actually like. Beatty is this wild, high-strung dude that just wants to make his lady happy, and Dunaway is this sad and l0nely girl that is getting the worst case of homesickness, ever. Two very good performances as even when things for Bonnie and Clyde turn darker and they start doing more bad things, you still like them and I don’t know why that was. Either way, easily the best things about this flick even if there is some more to see.
Oh, and don’t forget to be on the look-out for a performance from Gene Hackman as Clyde’s big-bro. Having Gene Hackman in any movie is always a treat, but this one especially since he actually shows everybody how to act. God, I miss him.
Consensus: Probably more influential than it is perfection, Bonnie and Clyde suffers from a terribly-dated script, and bad performances from everybody else involved, other than the four main stars. Still, you can’t go wrong with a film that was willing to show us these two criminals in a sympathetic-light and be able to get away with it, surprisingly. Oh, and the final scene is pretty freakin’ awesome, too. But I bet you have all already seen it, haven’t you?
7 / 10 = Rental!!
If this was remade today, it would just be called Aliens in the Water, and probably would have made more than Avatar. Don’t believe me? Fine! Just you wait and see….
A nuclear sub crashes on the floor of the Atlantic, and the motley crew of an underwater station attached to an oil rig prepare to investigate just what the hell is occurring. Obviously, as you could expect, problems do mount: a hurricane rages above, a loony marine is on the loose, and captain Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) is forced to work with his estranged wife, Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Spousal-disputes aside, shit is still a little wacky under the sea.
What I like most about James Cameron is what he is able to do with any premise. Yeah, he may be a little nutty with his love of the Titanic and Avatar sequels, but the guy knows what can, and just might come out of a simple premise, if you give it the right amount of creativity and fun. Here, he takes what is essentially another boring and lame submarine movie, and somehow turns it into a tense and eerie sci-fi flick that gives you the sense of just how menacing the ocean can be. But the ocean is also a place that Cameron can still let it all hang loose in, no matter what the limitations may be, as you will see with this movie.
After I saw this flick, I did some research on it and found out that the majority of the film was actually filmed underwater in an abandoned nuclear reactor. That’s right: Cameron actually got his whole cast and crew, and made them go underwater to shoot this whole film. Sounds a bit risky when you take ego’s and all sorts of other personalities into consideration, which would also be another example of how crazy and inspired Cameron can be. However, he makes it work. He makes the ocean his own little personal playground where he’s able to do what he wants, when he wants and no studio can stop him because seriously, how are you going to say no to the dude who just did The Terminator and Aliens? Yeah, didn’t think so.
This film can be very fun at points but what I liked most about this film was how original Cameron could make it at points. In this flick, we get a cool look at some neat-o ideas that Cameron obviously has had rolling in his head for so long and finally got a chance to reveal to the public. Little details like the cool spacesuits that look like a mixture between the ones from Alien and actual spacesuits themselves, or the concept of having oxygen-infused water that you can just sip on, in order for you to reach superhuman lengths in the ocean, or how the aliens in this flick, aren’t actually mean or evil creatures, they’re nice and love to help out fellow humans. Not only do they look freakin’ cool, but they also show a lot of compassion, sort of like fellow human-beings. It’s a surprise that more people didn’t hop on the bandwagon after this and make more “alien friendly sci-fi movies”, because they could have really worked and turned-on a new generation to making sci-fi movies. Because just juggle this idea in your heads: are they really that mean and terrible?
As usual with all Cameron films, no matter when they were filmed, the visuals are absolutely outstanding. I knew that this film won the Oscar back in 1989 for Best Visual Effects, but that’s 1989 and that doesn’t really mean diddly-squat now. Surprisingly though, the visuals still hold-up today and every time the aliens would show up in the story, everything just started to look so much more beautiful and blue. Probably best combination to have out there: beautiful and blue. It’s something that Cameron works best with, obviously.
As is always the problems with other Jimmy Cameron films, the action and special effects may be rad and awesome, but the scripts always seem to suck, therefore: taking everything else down with them. This film is no exception to that convention, which meant that the eyes rolled pretty much after every single line these characters uttered out their mouths. Every piece of dialogue that tries to sound funny, hip, or cool, just comes off as terribly corny. And even whenever the film does try to get sentimental and show certain relationships between people in this submarine, it fails at bringing any emotions whatsoever. It all just felt so damn 80′s to me (no-brainer), to the point where I just wanted them to be able to do something cool and exciting, without them opening up their mouths. Sadly, they did and that’s when I started getting annoyed.
Probably the worst, and most memorable scene out of this whole flick has to be when a character, not giving away who, tries to revive another character by using CPR for over 10 minutes and then comes back to life, only after that same character yells “FIGHT!” to them. It was such a terribly corny scene and it made me laugh my ass off the whole way through because this film was so serious and even though Cameron knows how to direct: he sure as hell can’t write. Then again, I guess it doesn’t matter to him because the dude freakin’ takes showers in $100 bills everyday, without giving any damn whatsoever. Lucky son of a bitch. Practically stole my life over there.
It was surprising to see Ed Harris not only play a lead role in a movie, but also play a character that’s likable and considered a hero. Nonetheless, the guy’s still solid as Bud Brigman and makes it easy to root for him whenever he seems like he’s done for good. You need that in a hero, even if it never seems like he makes any drastic-decisions that could potentially harm the rest of his crew in anyway. He always seems to know what to do next, and it kind of got bothersome after awhile, since we pretty much knew that nothing could stand in this guy’s way. Not even a shark. Then again, highly doubt they would be able to do anything to a submarine. But I digress.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is fine as his ex-wife, Lindsey, but her character is so annoying and bitchy that I got to a point of where I wanted her to just get killed off somehow. And trust me, there were a couple of close calls for her character in this movie. Not close enough in my opinion, but that’s just me. Cameron-regular Michael Biehn is also here as the completely psycho head SEAL and it makes me wonder just where the hell this guy has been after all of these years. Dude needs to team-up with Cameron again for these countless Avatar sequels that were apparently getting, as it will probably get his career back on the high-rise. All of the performances that I’ve already mentioned, along with plenty of others, are good but the script tears them down to pieces after awhile, and makes it seem like everybody just got out of a stage-play for Shakespeare.
Consensus: The Abyss suffers from some terrible writing (that’s James Cameron for ya), but still has plenty of inspired ideas straight from Cameron’s goofy head, exciting scenes that seem to all take place underwater, and a bunch of beautiful visuals that still hold up today, even against Avatar. Actually, no: Avatar looks better. Lot better.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Is it wrong to say I was getting pretty hungry during this thing?
Back in the day, two girls who became morbidly-obese before they even reached high-school, decided to take it upon themselves to sue McDonald’s for making them “fat”. The court (as they usually do), threw the case out and said that they couldn’t prove anything, because they weren’t so certain that any of the fat or extra-weight they gained was from the actual food. That’s where Morgan Spurlock comes in to show them all who’s boss, by eating Mickey D’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, getting all of the menu items at least once, and always agreeing to have his meal “Super Sized”, but only if the cashier asks.
Way back when this flick was released, it was a pretty big deal for many reasons, but the main which being that it showed us all that fast-food restaurants are practically the devil’s that we always give into. Let’s face it, we have all had our fair-share of food from fast-food joints and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you realize that the crap you’re eating, is in fact bad for you, and shouldn’t be eaten excessively. But back in pre-Super Size Me days, people didn’t really think about this at all and just continued to eat-away at the Big Macs, the nuggets, the McGriddles, the McMuffin’s, and the worst of all, the extra large sodas.
However, this movie came around and really changed all of that and made us realize, “Woah. Chicken McNuggets aren’t just real, actual chickens they get from the farm?” Now, I’m pretty sure not everybody was as stupid as I may make them seem, but the truth is, people didn’t care or think about it as much as they do now. Vegans are all over-the-place (they’re annoying, but all over-the-place nonetheless), Whole Food Markets are popping-up everywhere, and slowly but surely, more and more places that do serve meat, show that they are at least taking care of the animals that they take the meat from, just to ensure that you don’t start tearing-up whenever you take a bite out of a cheeseburger, because you just destroyed Babe’s future. Yet, while at the same time, Mickey D’s is showing-off it’s new and improved menu-item; the one, the only, Fish McBites. Let’s face it, as much as we try our hardest to change the world by the way we live, eat, sleep, drink, and just be, the big corporations are going to stay the same by running business their way, and telling everybody else to hit the high way. It’s the way the world works, but getting a documentary like this really slaps you in the face and makes you realize it’s a sad reality we have to live with. But, it can get better. Which is what exactly happened after this movie, even if Mickey D’s doesn’t like to admit so.
Morgan Spurlock deserves a lot of kudos here, not just for changing certain elements of the fast-food industry as we know it, but by how much effort and dedication he put into making this work. If anything, the guy risked a pretty good job at having heart-disease, let alone, dropping over and having a straight-up heart attack. He knew this all from his doctor’s, who all told him to stop his ass before it gets more than just serious, but yet, still continued to trug along to not just prove his point, but to also give us something to look at. I may be in the minority here, but when Spurlock started paying-attention to the fast-food industry, the way it works, the way it makes it’s money, the way it manipulates, and the way kids are being thrown into this world where a Whopper is exactly what you want for din-din, rather than some soup mom-mom made.
There’s a lot to explore and discover with this journey that Spurlock takes, and the guy deserves all of the credit he seems to still be getting nowadays, just because he never lets-up with his experiment, nor does he ever give up on showing us what’s in-between the finer reading that we may not all be seeing. Some of the scientific-numbers that him and his doctors pull-out of their asses, did sort of come-off like a foreign language to me, but I guess in it’s context, it all meant that his health was failing and getting worse as he continued to pound-away on those wonderful sausage, egg, and pancake breakfasts that never get old. Sarcasm, indeed.
However, being older, wiser, and more knowledgeable of the world around me, who I am as a person, my needs, and my wants, I’ve come to realize that Spurlock feeds us a lot of shit, that may be more than just the food that he’s talking-out against. Be ready, people. This section of the review is about to get really, really rant-y. Here’s the problem that I ran into with this flick: I don’t necessarily agree with Spurlock’s assessment about how the fast-food companies are to be blamed. Granted, fast-food companies are generally considered detestable and in no way, shape, or form the right people you want to give all of your cash to, but they aren’t really the one’s to be blamed here. In fact, we, as human beings are more to be blamed.
For instance, the movie actually brings up the point fairly-early when it says how certain people should make up their own decisions, and shouldn’t feel the need to go about something, like food or whatever, if they have a choice. People have the choice to choose between eating at home, eating at a fancy, schmancy restaurant, or, eating at a fast-food joint. Seriously, the choice is all up to that person and whether or not they want to go with the extra-fatty food, or just chill out and take it easy on carbs. That’s all up to the person, but yet, we are still there pointing the finger at those people because they give us an option? Doesn’t seem right to me and it’s almost a child-ish way of thinking where we can’t make up our own minds and blame ourselves for how fat we got, so instead, stick it straight to the people, who made the product that got us fat.
If you don’t want a Big Mac, then don’t get one! But if you do want one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, then don’t come bitchin’ to me about how much you ate, how fat you got, and how Mickey D’s are a bunch of a-holes that don’t deserve to make the money that they do. In no way am I sticking up for the people from these corporations, but the way that Spurlock rests with his case and shows us that it’s okay to blame those fast-food places for the reason that we’ve all become big and fat; seems so immature to me. It’s almost like we take the whole responsibility idea, and totally throw it out the window because somebody is allowing us to buy a product that they made. Didn’t seem right to me and in the end, seemed a tad too liberal for yours truly.
Then again, all of this could just be me, my views, my opinions, and the ways that I see life, but do we really want to go about our days just doing stupid shit and blaming it on other people for our misfortunes? Like those kids from Colombine: they were some effed-up individuals that nobody decided to help, listen to, or be there for, but at the end of the day, it’s all because Marilyn Manson made some scary-ass tunes about how evil and wicked he is. Once again, not sticking up for Marilyn Manson at all, but it doesn’t seem fair when a guy is just doing something that he likes to do, and gets blamed for something, you know, because people don’t like him and some kids decided to shoot-up their school. Doesn’t seem right to me, and makes me feel like the society that I live in is filled with a bunch of babies that make their own mistakes, but still can’t take the full and utter responsibility.
Okay. End of rant. I promise.
Consensus: Back when it was first released in 2004, Super Size Me was and, in a way, still is an important documentary about how our world loves to eat, loves to be fat, and loves to blame other people for our problems, but the liberal-approach to that latter aspect ruined most aspects of the film for me, despite Spurlock being as dedicated to eating shit food than I’ll ever be.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
I’m telling you, us Irish guys know our women, and beer. Definitely more of the latter than the former.
Three Irish-Catholic brothers (Edward Burns, Mike McGlone, Jack Mulcahy) from Long Island, New York, all love the hell out of each other and would do anything for the other. However, they also have a lot of problems that they need to let out every once and awhile. Whether it be the wife at home giving them a hard time, the kids are getting up your ass, or you feel as if you’re getting too old for this shit anymore, they are always there. That’s what brothers are for and that’s what these ones do for one another. Why? Cause they Irish, they Catholic, and they are, above else: McMullens.
Is it me, or does it seem like Edward Burns deserves more roles? This flick pretty much put him on the map back in the day and all because it was pretty much his brain-child: he directed it, wrote it, funded it, produced it, advertised it, gave birth to it, and practically did everything else one person can do a for movie. Heck, I even think the guy played the bagpipes for the score? Probably didn’t, but it’s always a nice thought. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this is his baby and it’s a film that shows this guy has some real talent, so any problems here, are all put onto him. Thankfully, there’s not too much I can throw against his Boston-ass.
What I liked most about this flick was Burns’ writing and just how natural it felt. Take it for granted, this whole movie is dedicated to a bunch of dudes just sitting around, shooting the shit, talking about what’s on their minds, what’s on their weenies’ minds, and what they think about when the ladies aren’t around. That would definitely bore the hell out of some people, but not me. I actually enjoyed everything that these guys talked about and a lot of it came off as very true. I know I may sound like I’m jumping the gun here because I’m only 19 years of age (for now, ladies?) and I wouldn’t know a single thing about love, marriage, sex (I sort of do now, ladies?), or kids for that matter (I hope I don’t, ladies!!??!?!), but what I do know, is men (sounds a little strange, but you know what I mean). And what I know most about men is that they all talk like about their problems in this sort of way, and react to their problems just like they do in this flick as well. It all feels real and that’s one of the best things that this movie has to offer.
Other than knocking down a pretty solid screenplay, Burns also does a great job behind the camera even though he doesn’t do anything flashy. There’s this very grainy look that makes the film seem as if it’s filmed in documentary style and made me feel like I was there, with these guys while they go through all of this tough shit with their lives. But other than the look, nothing else Burns does here gets in the way of the story which is great. Oh wait, there was that annoying-ass Irish music score that came in almost every single 5 minutes that obviously was there because it went along with the theme of these guys being Irish and all, but did it really need to be here? Especially in a film like this. I don’t know, it just bothered me because it made me feel like I was watching Braveheart.
The only other annoying aspect of this flick was how sweetie-pie everything begins to get by the end of the movie. Before the last 30 minutes or so, these characters were hard-hitting, talking about all of this bad shit, and actually doing some bad shit while they were talking about it, but by the end: it all goes away. Then, once the paths have apparently been cleared, we get some cheesy scenes where everything end nicely, with a little cherry at the top. A bit too too nicely you may wonder? Damn skippy! But trust me, I’m not trying to give away any spoilers here or anything, but you’ll start to see it all once a certain-part in the end shows up. d
Bummer too, because everything Burns was doing here beforehand felt honest and real. It’s almost as if he was speaking for men all-over-the-globe (especially from New Yaaark, booo!), and to see him sort of cop out in the end and get all sentimental with us, seemed like a bit of a cheat. Kind of as if Burns was too afraid in going that extra-mile and really hitting us dudes where it hurts the most (you know where that is, ladies). Also, while I’m at it, why not bag on Burns some more? To top that all off, they played it all of with some crappy and depressing track from Sarah McLachlan. You know, that chick that makes you want to kill yourself for not saving an animal from the pound. Yeah, no reason for her to be in this kind of a flick, let alone, any flick for that matter. Please don’t find and kill me, SPCA. Please.
Aside from all of that though, Burns lifts himself up with a pretty good performance that definitely makes you wish you saw more of his character around, but then again, you got to give it to a guy who isn’t trying to just steal the spotlight in his own show. Instead, he gives it to two other dudes that play his brothers, Mike McGlone and Jack Mulcahy. Both of these guys are good here and it’s a real shame that, along with Burns, they haven’t really been doing much. Well, that is except for McGlone who I see from time-to-time in Geico commercials. That’s right, one second the guy is in a critically-acclaimed film that premiers at Sundance, and the next second he’s cuing up jokes for Elmer Fudd. Funny where your career will eventually take ya, that’s why I stay far away from Hollywood and relish ion the days of appearing in small, indies. Hopefully that stays and hopefully I start making money. Aww, fuck it! I’m going to Hollywood and moving out of my parent’s basement!
Consensus: With plenty of great insight to what really goes on inside dudes’ heads, Edward Burns makes his directorial debut, The Brothers McMullen, a very funny and realistic comedy that touches on some hard-hitting issues with life for the male-gender, it just doesn’t know how to resolve them in a realistic-way. Or maybe it was realistic, who knows.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Steroids will kill you. But also will guns, lies, sex, drugs, murder, and leading a whole life of crime.
Three dimwitted body-builders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) make a living teaching other people how to put their body’s into shape. But they’ve had enough of it and want more out of life like money, fame, and drugs. You know, the American Dream. They decide to reach for this goal by kidnapping and extorting money from a very rich and powerful man (Tony Shalhoub). It sort of works, but as time goes on and their ego’s and utter stupidity seem to get in the way of things, they lose their way to figuring out just how the hell to keep their heads up and out of jail.
Oh yeah, and it’s all based on a true story. Don’t believe me, then seriously; go check this out and come back. See what I mean? Real shit.
The fact that this is all apparently happened, was directed by Michael Bay, and considered to be a passion project of his, really has me scratching my head still, even to this very sceond where I’m typing. However, being the “esteemed” critic that I am, I knew I had to be open to seeing something that Bay actually had been wanting to do for awhile and I think I stand with everybody else when I say that it’s time we saw something new from this guy. At least, I think so anyway. I hope I’m not alone.
I knew something was “up” with this movie once it began. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t interesting or that I wasn’t wondering what this was all going to be about, it was that something didn’t feel right. The movie begins with Marky Mark doing sit-ups on a ceiling then sees a bunch of cop cars, yells out “fuck”, and begins to run away, all to a narration that’s supposed to be funny, but isn’t. That’s how the whole movie actually plays out, in fact. Most moments are supposed to be done for laughs in the way that we point and chuckle at these bumbling fools trying to pull off robbery, but it doesn’t work. Instead, it seems like the movie is trying too hard to be funny, and failing at it so miserably so. It gets better, but very slightly.
The problem with this movie isn’t that it isn’t really funny, because once the first hour comes and goes, it begins to find it’s funny-footing, but it’s just “off” in ways that’s hard to explain. This a true story, about people that did bad stuff, tried to get away with it, and came close to doing so as well, so why the hell should all of this shit be played-up for laughs? I get that Bay wanted to have a bit of a tongue-in-cheek approach with this story and get all goofy on us, but he’s not the type of director that can make the transitions from drama to comedy seamless. You notice when the movie is trying too hard to be funny and too hard to be serious, and it just ends up coming out like a weird mixture of eggs and chocolate. Never tried that combo before, but something tells me it doesn’t mix well.
That’s not to say that this movie isn’t entertaining to watch, because it is, it just doesn’t feel like anybody can make up their right minds as to what type of film they want to make. The screenwriters wanted a dramedy; Bay wanted a buddy comedy, with a bunch of grit; the actors wanted a loosey-goosey comedy; and Marky Mark just wants to show the ladies that he’s still got the looks. Everybody is playing at their own pace, with their own rules, and their own ways of getting shit done. It honestly isn’t as bad as I may make that sound; it really isn’t. It’s actually interesting to see, considering you never know where it’s going to go next, in terms of story and tone. And even though not all of it fits right in the way you’d expect, it’s still fun for that aspect alone.
Other than problems with tone and pace, Bay still seems to be having fun here and I was glad. When this movie wants to be wild and crazy; it’s a blast of fun. You never know where it’s going to go, where it’s going to end up, and what these crazy mofos are going to try next. Well, that is unless you don’t already know the story beforehand. If you do, then you’re sort of left out a bit of all of the fun, but not fully. If you like watching a movie, not having a darndest clue what the people involved are going to show you next; then this may be the trip for you. It has the humor; it has the action; it has the performances; and it has the fun-feel to it, but you still can never seem to get past the fact that almost everybody involved with this movie was on some sort of coke or something. More strange, than it is crazy, but still interesting to watch. I’m not sure if I’m selling this movie well at all, but don’t be worried because it is a good movie; just a very odd one at that.
But if you really want to see something insane: then, just watch these performances. Seriously, every cast member seems like they are either high off of their asses, or having the time of their lives. Sometimes, even both at the same time. Marky Mark is as fun and electric as he has ever been as Daniel Lugo, “the mastermind” (use that term very loosely) behind the whole wheeling and dealing operation. Wahlberg’s manic energy really plays well with this character because it allows him to be a nut-job, just about the whole time. He’s a guy that likes to poke fun at himself, even when he is doing curls for the girls with 50 lb.’s in each hand. It’s hard for a guy to be sexy, charming, and self-knowingly goofy at the same time, but Wahlberg pulls it off perfectly, as usual.
Then, there’s Dwayne Johnson as his fellow-partner, Paul Doyle. If anybody seems to be having any bit of fun in this movie: it’s The Rock (whoops!). Rocky has always been one of these guys that’s been wanting to break free for the longest time and it’s just so great to see him do it now, do it loud, and best of all: do it proud. Doyle’s character is a funny one because he’s constantly on either side of the fence. He’s a holy man that’s been sober for awhile and believes in the higher-power, yet, is all caught up in these deadly-shenanigans that he can’t make up his mind as to whether or not he wants to partake in it or not. But at other times, the character totally loses his idea of sensibility and is just balls to the walls from there on. That’s where Johnson really exceeds well, and kept me laughing my ass off, even when the movie didn’t seem to be working with any funny material whatsoever. Just watching him act like an ass and make fun of himself as well, was funny enough to give me joy and laughter. Sort of like Christmas Day, but instead of presents; it’s just some roided-out freak who likes to make goofy faces. Goofy faces that worked, so I guess I can’t talk too much shite.
Even though he isn’t advertised all that much as partaking in the crimes, Anthony Mackie is also here for the wild ride and is good for what he has to do to keep up with these two. Not only can he flex-up when need be, but he can also joke around about his look and style as well, which is always needed. However, it’s abundantly clear that he does not have as much material to work with, like Dwayne and Marky Mark do. That still doesn’t mean that he isn’t funny or entertaining to watch; because he is. It’s just that the guy’s jokes are more obvious and more about him being black than anything else. Hopefully, Captain America 2 will start getting him some finer-roles like he deserves.
Other actors that show up in this seem to be having fun, even if they are as nutso as you can get. Tony Shalhoub plays the mean and cruel rich guy that these body-builders decide to target and is good because he always stays funny, without ever drawing out the sympathy card. We don’t like his character and we don’t really care for him, which was sort of the point. That’s why it’s so fun to see Shalhoub just take a role like this, and revel in the unsympathetic-nature of it. Ed Harris also shows up as the detective that helps him out and is good, but it’s Ed Harris. What else is there left to say? But trust me, there’s plenty more where that came from and they are all just as wacky as the leads. And I also have to give credit to Michael Bay for giving Rebel Wilson a chance to be funny again, even if she lost all of my respect after last Sunday. Lord, I still feel the pain from that.
Consensus: Most of Pain & Gain is meant to be seen, just for the sake of bragging-rights and pure experience. But with that said, it is still fun for what you see with it’s random bits of comedy, drama, crime, and action, all rolled into one piece of wild popcorn fare. Also, it’s a Michael Bay film with no robots. So just be happy dammit!
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Well, at least he didn’t apologize for this movie.
General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris) feels as if he has been wronged by the country that he served for so damn long and decides to prove his dissatisfaction. How? Well, he rounds up a group of fellow troops who feel the same, get them into Alcatraz, take it over, hold hostages, threaten to use a bomb on the whole city of San Francisco, and keep a countdown of when the shit goes boom. There to save the day is explosions and chemicals expert Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), but he has a special guest with him, retired agent John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery). Mason is the only man who knows his way in and out of Alcatraz, and uses the government’s help to his advantage. Bastard.
We all know Michael Bay. Love him, hate him, adore him, disagree with him. No matter what, we all know a Michael Bay movie when we see one. Explosions, skinny-clad women, macho-posing, bad one-liners, and a whole shit load of action. Nothing more, nothing less. Good, now you know what you’re getting yourself into, let’s get this ride going.
Everybody considers this to be Bay’s best and even if that isn’t true (I’m still a fan of the first Transformers, don’t ask me why), I can still see why people have thought so, even up until today. It’s one of those movies that has such a solid premise, that it’s almost hard to live down the bad-assery. First of all, you got Alcatraz as the setting and any time you have your action and craziness occurring there; you can’t blow it. Secondly, the cast is pretty top-notch with a bunch of dudes that may not have been the biggest and the best box-office names at the time, but still showed you that they could beat some beef when they had to. And no, not that type either.
And lastly, and probably the most important: it’s just fun. It doesn’t matter how much detail I get into this flick, all that matters is that this movie is all the fun and excitement that it should be and that’s it. You got the usual car-chases, the explosions, the gun-battles, the bombs, and even a Mexican stand-off in case anybody thought that not everything was possible. In Bay’s world, anything is possible and he’ll show you too, just with enough craziness and nuttiness to go along on the side. If you can’t handle it, then you shouldn’t have even bothered giving it a look in the first place. You can say that about most directors, but Bay is the prime-example where you have to know if his name is attached or not. Sounds crazy, I know. But there are people out there that hate him THAT much. Poor guy. Just needs a hug. Maybe Megan Fox will lend a hand?
Does that mean it is anywhere near the type of film you want to see to tease your brain and make you think? Absolutely, positively not! Then again, with the name “Michael Bay” attached, you couldn’t and probably shouldn’t expect anything more. That said, this movie is pretty stupid and some situations did make me laugh, albeit the unintentional ones. One of the goofiest gags throughout this movie is how the countdowns always seem to change drastically. At one point, we are stuck watching as the movie reads “9 hours till detonation”. That’s fine. Seemed reasonable and it seemed like time did pass on. Then, out of nowhere, about five minutes later, the movie reads “52 minutes till detonation”. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! What the hell happened to the pass 8 hours and 8 minutes? Did they just suddenly go by as soon as the people closed their eyes? Once again, maybe I was thinking a bit more than the movie, but that’s just a personal, random nitpick from yours truly. Once again, don’t think too much of it. I didn’t, and I had a great time.
Most of that good time is courtesy of the fine sets of bad-asses that Bay was able to assemble in almost every role, short to large. Sean Connery has always been known as one of the biggest and best bad-asses of our generation, and he totally proves that as John Mason. Some will laugh their asses off once they initially see the ged-up Connery’s decking, but after awhile, you get by it all once he gets a shave, a shower, and ready for action. After this hits, then it’s all feet-to-the-floor with him and the charm never stops. Even when Connery isn’t beating the shite out of somebody, he’s always finding a way to burst-out some snappy line that either he made up himself, or it was written for him so beautifully. There’s this whole subplot about him and his daughter that’s touched on a tad bit much, but who cares! It’s Sean Connery, in a movie, playing a bad-ass. Pipe down and enjoy!
Then, on the other end of the spectrum: there’s Nic Cage. If any of you out there know and love Nic Cage, the way that I know and love Nic Cage, then this is going to be one hell of an entertainment-ride for you. What’s so funny about Cage here is that since his character is such a dweeb-a-tron that doesn’t really know how to move in hand-to-hand combat and is as nerdy as you can get, then that means Cage gets to play around with that aspect, the way we all know Nic Cage loves to do. It’s hilarious to see him act like a total and complete nut, and even though there isn’t much else underneath this guy other than the fact that he’s get a preggo girly-gal at home and a pretty suit car, we still love the hell out of the guy. Then again, if you aren’t a fan of Nic Cage; you’re most likely going to hate every second he speaks. Yep, it’s like THAT.
Last, but certainly not least is Ed Harris as the army general who calls this whole thing on and tries to go through with it. Harris is another actor that can be a nut when he chooses to be, and this role is no different. At first, you automatically think that he’s just an idiotic dick that has no real reasoning for doing the things he’s about to do, and you pretty much write him up as a unsympathetic dude right from the get-go. But, as time goes on and people start to piss him off more and more, you see a conscience come out of this guy and it’s believable. Well, at least as believable as you can get in a Michael Bay movie. But that’s still enough credit to Ed Harris who can almost do no wrong. That’s not just in my book, but a lot of others’ as well.
The rest of the cast is filled with a bunch of character actors that you have seen a hundred, million times before but just have never been able to match the name with the face. David Morse, Tony Todd, and Bokeem Woodbine play some of Harris’ fellow soldiers that help him out and do whatever they can to go through with their plan; whereas Michael Biehn and William Forsythe are among the ones that try their hardest to help out Connery and Cage. Whether or not it’s actually successful, I’ll leave to you. But, there’s plenty more where this came from and it’s always fun to play the old-fashioned, “name game” every once and awhile. Even if it is, once again: a Michael Bay movie. Okay, now I’m starting to get serious about that hug, dammit!
Consensus: Everything you’d want in a fast-paced, fun action film, is exactly in The Rock. You got guns, bullets, blood, cheese, bombs, explosives, corny one-liners, and a rare but fun Cage and Connery team-up, just to make sure you have as much enjoyment as you can, without having your brain intact.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
People get old. Even hippies.
Jim Grant (Robert Redford) is living the life that most men of his age should. He has a job, he has a kid, he has responsibility, and he seems to have no problems. That all turns inside-out once a fellow acquaintance of his (Susan Sarandon) turns herself over to the police for a crime she and others committed almost 30 years ago. Grant may or may not have been apart of it, but before he can even turn himself clean, young and reckless journalist (Shia LaBeouf) decides that it’s his time to shine and accidentally “outs” Grant as a former member of an underground movement that had something to do with the death of a bank-teller, those fateful 30 years ago.
This reminds me of one of those thrillers that should have been made, and probably would have made more sense in the 70′s. Due to the fact that a lot of this movie has to do with some hippie-talk, paranoia, and discussions of “the man”, it only seems right that a certain generation that had everything to do with those themes, would be the perfect time for a story like this to take place. However, that’s not where Redford decides to take it and instead, shows that everybody gets old, age-wise, but their beliefs still stay the same. That’s right, we’re most likely going to be stuck with hipsters for the rest of our lives. Hip, hip…..
Anyway, what I’m trying to get at with this movie is that it seems like the aging (and it’s showing) Robert Redford likes to direct movies and better yet; likes to direct movies about something political. Obviously Lions for Lambs was a crack-pot of ideas, thoughts, and themes that he loved to shout at everybody, as if they didn’t already think war killed people, but hey, that’s all fine and dandy once you get underneath it all. This movie is probably less concerned with politics, and more about actually being a thriller, that has a lot of people speaking in code, talking about the past, and running-away from the policia. In that aspect of the film: ehh, it’s okay. But to be honest, going into a movie like this, with the cast he has assembled (seriously, just look at it!!), and knowing that it’s coming from the grips of Redford, you can’t expect greatness. Just expect a good time that is a perfect time-killer, and leave it at that.
However, that’s not to say that all is forgiven in the end. Nope, there are still a bunch of problems with this flick and that’s the fact that most of this just is not all that interesting. There are about three story-lines going on here at once, with one being the most interesting, the other starting off strong and then running it’s course, and then the last one ending up on being “ridiculous”. The most interesting story-line of the whole movie is definitely LaBeouf’s journalist character as he leaves his conscience on the side, for the hopes that he will make it big and get his story on the front of the paper. This was not only the most interesting because of where it went (in and out of the newsroom), but because LaBeouf is so good in it.
I’ve always stood-up for LaBeouf in most movies that he’s done in the past and even though I will admit, the guy surely isn’t lovable and probably isn’t all that easy to work with, I still have to say that he’s very good when it comes to putting himself into a role, and making it work. This is that role where he totally surprised me and from what I read: others as well. LaBeouf is perfectly-cast because he uses that cocky, brash-attitude of his that we see used so many times whether it be actually in a movie or on the streets, and show how it can affect one person when they work and when they aren’t working. I’ll admit that the ending for this character felt a little bit half-hearted with it’s attempt to give him a heart and soul (journalists have none), but LaBeouf keeps his head above water and makes this his movie. But when the movie moves away from him, then it gets bad. Not too bad, but bad nonetheless.
Redford is still a good actor and has that wit and charm that makes him a likable guy to watch on-screen, but he’s pushing 76, which means the guy’s getting old. Also, that means that it’s getting a bit harder and harder to believe that a guy of his age and his build, could really last a whole flick where he’s out-running the cops, Bourne-style. Out-smart them? Sure, I could believe that. But running away from them every chance he gets? Eh, there’s only so much I can and will believe in. That whole aspect where he’s on the run starts off interesting, but loses steam as quickly as Redford does when he’s running those laps (heyyo!), but it’s not the worst story-line in the whole movie.
Out of the three, the worst story-line I’d have to say was the one where every single person that Redford’s character in this movie talked to, talked about the old days and never seemed to get a grip with reality and realize that they aren’t young, whippersnappers anymore. Every person that he reconnects with, either has grown-up, or totally stayed in the same motto of life where the man got them down and they did everything for a valuable reason. Whether or not Redford actually believes in this hippie bullshit is totally beyond me, but I can only hope not, considering it’s so preachy, so stupid, and just so annoying to hear, especially coming out of the mouths of such old folks. Not saying that old people don’t have these same opinions or beliefs or anything, just saying that it’s a bit hard to believe in.
Having a ensemble cast like this, however, may spice things up a bit to the point of where it’s not so bad to listen to these characters speak their “government speech” anymore. Peeps such as Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, and Sam Elliot show up to do their thang, but so do some ladies like Brit Marling, Anna Kendrick, and Julie Christie. Everybody in this movie is good with what they do, no doubt about it, and it’s not like they were needed for anything else other than a couple of scenes to do on the weekend, just to help out their old pal, Robbie (I hope that’s what his friends call him). For that matter, it’s fun and exciting to watch, especially since you know that there is always another welcome face, just right around the corner waiting to be spotted. Nice to know that Robbie also still has some pull with stars nowadays, as well.
Consensus: It may not always work, and is downright ridiculous at times, The Company You Keep is still an entertaining movie that has the well-acted ensemble to back it up, as well as a story that takes a couple of twists and turns you don’t really see coming, regardless of how how much you can or cannot take it in and believe it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Just don’t kill people. End of story.
Two British pals, Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley), meet-up and decided that they both need something to do, need some money, and need to get their hands a bit dirty because they can’t handle being away from guns, weapons, and violence for too long. They decide to take a couple off odd-jobs going around and killing certain people, but some of it gets skewered as time goes along. There’s certain complications and confusions that come to base and that’s when all hell breaks loose, for both their personal and professional lives.
It may be hard to say this without most of you already having done the task of seeing this by now, but if you haven’t seen the movie, just know this: know absolutely nothing about this movie going in. For the rest of this review, I’m going to try and be as damnably vague and strange as possible, but just remember that it’s all for you peeps out there. You should all be grateful you have a nice guy like me, writing the movie reviews that I do.
What makes this movie so different and so original in it’s way, is that it isn’t exactly what you expect it to be. Is it a thriller about two dudes going around a hacking-off people? Sort of. Is it a human-drama about two guys who have problems in their life, and need to get by them all, simply by taking hit-man jobs? Sort of. Is it a horror movie that has something weird under-lining everything else? Once again, I say sort of. It’s one of those movies that isn’t one thing, and instead, plays it’s wild-card and just goes all over the boat, but in a good way, mind you.
Writer/director Bean Wheatley seems like a very skilled dude in terms of how good he is at actually being able to make all of these changes and combinations of genre’s and moods. First of all, the mood throughout the whole film is consistent. And even dare I say it, probably the most consistent thing about it. You never know exactly what the fuck is going with these characters, their issues, and what exactly is bringing them to do the bad and terrible shit that they do decide to do, but you know it’s something eerie. You know there’s a bolt or two loose in one of their heads, and wondering when the next person is going to snap and let it all out, is what will really keep you on-edge.
But it’s not even just the characters that really get you freaked-out by how strange they can be; it’s just the whole story itself. As soon as you find out that something is awry with their plans and that these guys can’t get their blood-money right away, you automatically know that not everything is what it seems. Even the people that these characters meet and have conversations with on a daily-basis aren’t the type of people you think or believe in that you can trust. You know that there’s something “up” about them, and therefore, you’re further and further left in the dust of what’s actually going on, what these characters are thinking right now at the certain moment, and most importantly, what the hell is going to happen next.
The idea that you have no clue in your right mind of what’s going to happen next, how, when, and where, is the type of steam this movie continues to build-on. As that mysteries continues, you’re idea of suspense gets more and more hyped-up and once that ending comes, you have no idea what to make of the story you just saw. Once again, I’m going to go into this next part with as much vagueness as I can, but just be warned: I may set-off a couple of fire alarms. Just be ready.
By the time the ending hits, I honestly had no idea what the fuck just happened. I sat, I thought, I read the paper, I checked my e-mail, watch some YouTube videos, and then decided to write this review. I though to myself, “What the hell does all of this strange shit mean, and exactly why has it happened to these characters?” I continued to think and I just gave up and realized that it was just one way for Wheatley to mess with us even more. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t in any way, shape, or form, think what happens in the end is a pigment of one of these dude’s imaginations, but something didn’t feel right to yours truly.
Was it scary? Hell yeah! Was it shocking? You bet your ass! Will I ever forget it again? SADLY, no. The fact that the ending is freaky and fucks with your mind more than the rest of the film preceding it, is a credit to Wheatley’s direction and the way he is able to set everything up. However, something just didn’t touch me in the right way where I felt like this was the way the story needed to end. It’s a slightly-bit too over-the-top, too crazy, and a bit too ridiculous. There’s a couple of hints and clues as to why this ending would seem the least-bit plausible, but once I got thinking about it and actually realized what I just saw; the lines didn’t connect. By all means, give it a look yourself and come up with your own conclusions, but just don’t expect it to all make sense. Especially after the first time. Or even maybe after the second, and maybe the third. But after that, you may come up to your own ideas, and also may have to call a psychiatrist.
Thankfully, though, the characters are at least well-written and more than well-acted to make up for these slight, but noticeable hiccups in the story. Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley are both good as the two best-friends who hang out and kill people for money and sometimes fun, but it’s strange because their characters are so different in many ways. Maskell’s is a total fire-ball that needs to be acting violent in one way or another, and even though he obviously loves his wife and kid, he still can’t help to be mad and angry at them for one thing, and then another, and then another, and then another. Whereas Smiley’s character is all cool, calm, collective, and very funny in the way that he just goes about life with a smile on his face and without an ounce of worry in the world. Both of them do get into fights, and heck, even brawls every once in awhile as well, but they still love each other and at the center of all this insane and crazy shite going on; they are still there to talk, to hang-out, and appreciate each other’s company as much as they beat the shit out of each other, too.
Consensus: Kill List is one of those movies that is weird, strange, mysterious, and always chilling in the way it’s plot moves and how everything happens, but something doesn’t quite feel right by the end where all of a sudden shit goes crazy, without much reason or rhyme. Still jaw-dropping to watch, but you may be scratching your head a bit too much after it’s all said and done.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
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I miss the old days when the crowd used to cheer for the Jew-haters.
Porter (Mel Gibson) is one of those crooks that you don’t want to mess with because he’s smart, tough, quick-witted, and always a step-ahead of the baddies. But yet, somebody has still found a way to mess with him and even better: has taken $70,000 of his hard-earned cash away from him and left him for dead. However, whoever that was didn’t quite do a good job considering he’s still alive and wants revenge.
After seeing Parker a couple ways back, I never knew this but thecharacter that Jason Statham played, Parker, has been played many times before by some pretty famous faces. Faces like Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, and most recently (as recent the year 1999 can get), everybody’s favorite Jew-hater: Mel Gibson. That’s right, before it became common-practice to basically hate the guy with cold-blood, “Melodramatic Mel” was actually a movie-star, and a pretty good one at-that. Then again, you probably already know that since the guy just about kicks ass in anything he shows up in. This movie; is one of those instances.
The movie’s tag-line reads, “Get ready to root for the bad guy”, but somehow, the guy isn’t all that bad. He’s a crook; yes. But he isn’t the crook that kills innocent people, women, children, cats, dogs, parrots, nuns, priests, etc. So, basically, he’s just a good guy that just so happens to be on the wrong side of the tracks and even worse: just so happens to be Mel Gibson (aka, everybody’s favorite action hero). And by, “favorite action hero”, I mean way back in the 80′s to the early 00′s, you know, before “the stuff” started to happen?
Anywhoo, other than all of that hooplah that nobody cares about, the flick itself is pretty damn fun and had me feeling as if I was watching an old-school crime movie, told by one of the greats. Writer/director Brian Helgeland isn’t necessarily what I would call a “great”, but the guy does know a thing or two about throwing out a solid, crime story, sprucing it up with some fancy twists and turns here and there, and allowing the guns, fights, and explosions to take their wind and keep things moving when it may fall-asleep due to a lame subplot. But it doesn’t feel forced, it feels good for the story and natural and every time the movie would go through some sort of change where a character would reveal something, or a new and crucial plot-point would somehow make it’s way to surface, I felt on-board with it all, as if I was just apart of some cruel, but fun game Helgeland had in-mind the whole time. I make it sound more sick and twisted than it really is, but trust me: you’re more than likely to have fun with this.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to call this movie a “noir” of sorts as it has that cool, and slick look and feel to it, while giving it a visual-flair where everything is all grainy, as if the world these criminals live in, features people that are all color blind and can’t tell if that bottom light on the stop light is green or gray. This old feel, really made me feel like I was in for a treat, with a guy that knew the type of story he wanted to tell, how serious he wanted it to be, how goofy he wanted it to be, and what extremes he would go to ultimately have us never knowing what to expect next. Watching these crime-thrillers, you always want to never be in the clear about anything, and it’s just awesome when you finally get a movie like this to just allow you to sit down, relax, drop your brain for a bit, and also be ready to see a story goes places you didn’t expect. And even if you did expect the story to go into some places that it does, at least they do it in such a way that’s jokey-wokey, rather than all serious and unknowing. And even if they don’t do it that way: who the hell cares?!?!? It’s fun, exciting, and twisty, and just exactly what I like in my crime-thrillers. Especially from Mr. Mel Gibson himself.
Despite Porter not being all that much of an anti-hero as the promotional tools would probably have you think, Gibson is still pretty damn good at this character because he has the charm, he has the gruff look, but he has the acquired set of skills that always puts him ahead of the others around him, and never lets you lose the fact that this guy is always doing something for a reason. He’s a no-nonsense type of dude that may do something odd, strange, or typically out-of-the-ordinary, but don’t be fooled because it may just be another move that Porter has set-up for a trick in his sleeve. Gibson, before he was out yelling and howling at Jews and female cops, was actually a pretty cool and sly dude that people liked and cheered-on in movies and if you miss any ounce of that thrill, then definitely see this movie because it is Mel Gibson in full-effect here. For better, or for worse, depending on wherever the hell you stand. You can probably tell where I stand, and I’m staying there. Me, and Jodie Foster.
The rest of the cast is filled to the core with the likes of people you have all seen before and like, you just don’t know it yet. Maria Bello is always a great actress no matter what the material it is that she’s given and she’s good here as Porter’s love-interest, but feels a bit too much like a weak piece of service, the way her character and her plot brings down everything else. Granted, she does bring a nice level of action and excitement into the story when you least expect it, but all of the scenes with her and Gibson just had me taking a ticket to snoozeville, and hoping to come back to life before it was too late. Lucy Liu shows-up in one of her earliest roles as an S&M call girl that beats the shit out of guys, gets it right back, and does it all for the pleasure and money. It’s also very, very stereotypical but hey, I guess Lucy needed some way to get her foot in the door. There are others here, like Gregg Henry as the main chump who betrays Porter; David Paymer as a snarky, cab-driver that made me want to punch him square in nose (unintentionally and intentionally); and Kris Kristofferson as a big, bad mob boss that Porter ‘effs with by the end, and poses the biggest and most worthwhile threat of all. Everybody’s good and adds a little som som to the proceeds, but it’s Gibson’s show and he takes over. Big-time, bitches.
Consensus: Payback is a routine thriller that doesn’t have a whole bunch of new tricks to show on-display, but is always a blast to watch because of it’s twists, action, and utter coolness from the script, and Gibson himself.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
If being put to sleep has the ability to get me laid, then hey, where do I sign and let the loving take a hold?
Simon (James McAvoy) works at a fine art auction, but also has a huge gambling problem that only gets worse when he needs the money the most. That’s when Frank (Vincent Cassel) decides to take him under his wing, get him involved with an art heist, and have Simon pay-off all of the debts he has to owe. Problem is, Simon not only messes up the job by losing the painting, but can’t remember where he last put it because of a severe-blow to his head. In order to gain his memory back, they hire hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) in hopes that she will bring back ideas and hints he may had once remembered from before. However, things aren’t as easy with Elizabeth once she gets involved and realizes that there is more at stake than just a painting and whole bunch of moolah. As usual, emotions and feelings have to get involved.
Trance isn’t, and definitely won’t be, the last flick to cover the idea of making the human-mind a setting for a thriller, but it still shows you what you can do when you have an age-old premise, and throw some fun and style in there for good measure. It’s sort of like Inception, if Chris Nolan liked leather nights with his wife; or Eternal Sunshine, if Joel and Clementine liked robbing art museums; or even The Matrix, where instead of fighting off dudes in suits and sun-glasses, they just had sex, ALL THE TIME. Take those three flicks, put a little sexiness in there for good measure, and top it all off with the style from Danny Boyle, and you got yourself a pretty decent, little thriller. However, this is Danny Boyle we’re talking about here, which means: shouldn’t it be better than just “decent”? Yerp, that’s what I thought.
It cannot be denied that Boyle doesn’t love playing around with genres and even testing himself in some way or form. No matter what the type of story he tackles, Boyle always finds something new to show us that he can do and pull-off with ease, but never having us forget that it’s a Danny Boyle movie through-and-through. His style is just that definitive, and what I liked about his direction here is that he always has something interesting to show us on-screen, even if the story isn’t what I’m speaking of. Colors show up randomly; thumping music continues to build up and up and away; and scenes that you wouldn’t expect to be beautiful, surprisingly are in a very artful kind of way. But at the fore-front of this movie is a story that likes to mess with your mind and that is exactly what Boyle does, and has a hell of a time doing.
Since most of this movie is dedicated to us never wondering what’s real, what’s a dream, or what’s all of this dude’s imagination, we are sort of left in the dark with wondering what’s going to happen next or what certain scenes do or do not mean. For most films from some directors, this would kill the audience and easily lose them; but Boyle is different. The guy seems like he really understands just what it’s like to throw an audience off of their game, bring them back down to the ground, and then throw them back in the air one last time before he lets it all come back, and repeat the same cycle over again. Because we never know what is true or isn’t, we are just left to think for ourselves, but Boyle continues to throw clues, hints, red herrings, and slight-foreshadowings at us to make us feel like we have the big-picture in the grasp of our palms. But we don’t, and that’s what has Boyle so happy. He never seems to lose his essence of fun and continues to build up tension, suspense, and mystery as this flick gets deeper and deeper into this dude’s mind, as well as it’s story. However, that’s the exact problem with this movie: it’s story.
Where this film goes all wrong is that it begins to get more and more serious as it trudges along, which wouldn’t have bothered me, if I actually cared for anybody in this movie. But that’s what the problem is: I just didn’t. I don’t know if it was because I was more involved with the story, the dream sequences, or the idea that I’m going to be stooped at the end of it all or what, but something was not fitting so well with me and these characters, and I think most of that problem comes from Boyle’s direction. You know, the very same direction that I’ve been praising for about first 1/3′s of this review. I know, I’m inconsistent. Bite me.
I think where Boyle loses himself is the idea that he can toy with us, the audience, have us believe something, and then throw something else at us, making us not exactly sure what it means or what this is, in the consideration of the rest of the entire story. Boyle loves doing that, but when it actually comes down to apples and oranges, making us care for these characters and finding out what’s really at-stake here: the guy loses control. He focuses way too much on the plot, the twists, the turns, and the happenings, rather than the actual characters that inhabit it and keep it ticking. You never feel like these are people you can easily get behind and even though they do get a few scenes, here and there, to where you feel like you see them for what they are, Boyle then continues on with a scene that’s just crazy or intense, and thus, we are lost on any type of character-development whatsoever. Once again, this would have been A-okay with me, had he not gotten so damn serious, and decided to make this a thriller that was more about humans, feelings, and their emotions, rather than people fucking around with one another, where guns and violence is the only solution to finding and figuring out the problem. And yes, in a Boyle flick, the latter aspect is totally possible and could have as well happened here; but Boyle digs a bit too deep, gets lost, and tries to go back the same way he came, only to have us confused in the process. Still, can’t talk too much shit on this guy because he might as well be the very same guy keeping the glue in-place.
The characters may not be fully-fleshed, but the cast still tries to make us forget about this fault. James McAvoy is good as Simon, the dude who’s mind is continuously fucked-with and does a fine job at showing us how confused and screwed-over a person can be when they don’t know what’s real, and what isn’t, but it doesn’t cut any deeper than that. McAvoy feels like he should be a tad bit crazier in this role to where we never know if he’s going to jump off a bridge, cry himself to sleep by eating a tub of ice cream and watching re-runs of Days of our Lives, or go bat-shit crazy and start blowing-off every mofo’s head off in sight. His character should have been that unpredictable in nature and in action, but McAvoy keeps him too grounded, to where we almost feel like we can calculate his every move. Not a good sign, especially when you have a character that could have been toying with us, as much as the director was.
The only character in this movie who seems to be doing any toying-around with our minds, perceptions, and emotions is Rosario Dawson as hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb. Dawson is good here because she uses that sweet, calming voice of hers to great-effect where she eases the tension and makes us feel like we are in a special place, where good things happen to good people, and everybody walks around with smiles on their face. Her character could have easily been the most-developed one of the bunch, but she even suffers because her character never seems to be on the right track of what to do, how to do it, and is constantly messing with other people. She tells people certain things that aren’t true, makes them think other things, and when all is said and done; seems like she’s the one with the upper-hand, totally going against her zen-like feel we see in the first couple minutes of her introduction. No matter what changes or transformations her character goes through, Dawson is always good, but I wish her character seemed more in control of her emotions and actions, especially when that said character is one that takes care of other’s emotions and actions.
Surprisingly, the most-developed and most-sympathetic out of this whole cast is Vincent Cassel as Frank, the head kingpin that just wants his money, his respect, and his freakin’ painting. Cassel is usually good in the stuff that I see him in, but is usually one-note where he is always bad, he’s always villainous, and always has a mean-streak that never seems humane in the least bit. He’s good at playing it, but it gets old after awhile, which is why I thought it would have been the same thing around again, in this flick. Thankfully, Cassel is given more to work with where we see his character’s true feelings and emotions come out and get a full-feel for the dude, as he seems like he could just change his ways, if he gets what he wants. Yeah, sounds a bit snobby, but hey; the guy’s worked too hard, for too long to not get what he ventured-out for in the first place. Cassel’s character is good and his performance is believable. Hopefully, just hopefully, this is a sign that the guy can play people with a soul and not the type of dude that bashes people’s heads in. Totally justified, but damn man. Scaring the shit out of me over here.
Consensus: Nowhere near Boyle’s best flick, especially considering what it is that we’ve seen from him in the past decade or so, but Trance is still him at his most-entertaining and most-pleasant where he toys with a genre we see and feel like we see so much of nowadays, plays with it’s conventions, and always keeps us guessing until the final scene.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
All you need is a little hug and support from daddy, and you won’t start robbing banks.
Handsome Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt motorcyclist at the circus who returns to an upstate town where he meets up with a former fling of his (Eva Mendes), only to find that she has a baby of his. In need to support his child and soon-to-be family, Luke decides to start robbing banks and pulling off heists with a buddy of his (Ben Mendelsohn). After this, we see the cop who runs into a problem with Luke, Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), and how he deals with the corrupt cops in his jurisdiction, while also keeping his head afloat. And we also see two kids, Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen), meet up together in high school, develop a friendship, and realize that there may be more between them that they never thought was possible.
Not only is this movie hard to describe with it’s synopsis, but it’s also even harder than hell to review it. Why? Well, it’s one of those flicks that just so happens to be built on the idea of it’s twists, it’s turns, and it’s surprises, which therefore means, any type of spoiling of those said twists, turns, or surprises, would not only be a crime against me as a critic, but a crime against you as readers. Also, it’s pretty damn hard to review, because I still don’t know how or what I still feel about it all.
What made me think this flick was going to be close to the second-coming of Christ, was not just the kick-ass trailer or the wonderful reviews it’s been getting so far, but was because of it’s director: Derek Cianfrance. Many people know the dude from his directorial-debut, the perfect date movie, Blue Valentine, and know that the guy has a knack and flair for telling an effective, compelling story just by using characters, plot, details, and dialogue. That’s it, and it’s nothing more. That’s why when it came to him tackling a flick that was like a mixture of the Godfather and the Town, I had no problem with it all, mainly because the guy seems like he knows what he’s doing and seems like he’d do anything that’s far from being deemed “conventional” or “predictable”. Granted, we’ve only seen him do one movie so far, but if that’s the consensus the guy has to work on: it’s pretty damn solid, I”d have to say so for myself. Sadly, this movie doesn’t come close to hitting his last. Sadly indeed.
But without jumping down it’s neck about the bad, let’s get into the good that will most likely lead into the bad. Rather than jumping back-and-forth from story-to-story without ever making it clear as to what the hell’s going on or how are these peeps’ paths going to cross next, we get three stories, that are told in their own, separate formats, without barely any interruptions at all. The first story is about Luke and how he handles being a daddy, but also a bank robber at the same time. Not only is this the most exciting story out of the three, but it’s also the best. The main reason being because it’s filled with so much energy, entertainment, tension, suspense, and emotional heart, that it gets you ready for what you think you’re about to witness. You automatically think that this whole movie is going to play-out like this first story where we all get all the action and flair, but still some grounded-sense of reality and depth, but that’s not how it all plays out.
Instead of doing the smart thing and keeping up with this sense of intensity, Cianfrance takes the film down a notch and keeps it grounded in the sense that we are watching a movie, and a tad predictable one at that. After we switch gears over to Cross’s story, we start to see the movie delve more into the conventional-side of itself where we see police corruption, people with badges doing mean things, and worst of all, Ray Liotta playing a sincerely, despicable human-being. He’s good at it, but can’t we put Tommy Vercetti up to something else nowadays. How about a role as an inspirational father-figure that does sensible acts for the rest of society? Huh? Not buying it? Oh well, at least I tried.
Anyway, where this flick takes a turn for the worse is not just because it begins to get, dare I say it, generic, but because it seems so obvious. Without telling you exactly what happens or how, there are certain elements of the plot that seem to be so predictable, that it gets to the time of where I could literally pin-point exactly who knew who, how they knew them, and how they were going to tell each other how they knew one another. It got to be a bit of annoyance and seemed more like Cianfrance took the idea of conveniences between two characters, as a way to show us that there’s a twist coming up, or something that we don’t seem to expect, but yet; we do.
That’s not to say that the whole film is like this, because as a matter of fact, most of it is damn good I have to say. There are moments where I was literally on-the-edge-of-my-seat without any other thought or idea that would take me away from this movie, anywhere near my head, and it completely compelled me. And that’s not just the Gosling parts, that’s the whole movie and it surprised me with what Cianfrance was able to bring up next, and how. The guy doesn’t depend on his dialogue here as much as he did with his last flick, but the atmosphere and mood is still there to mess with you and because of that, I have to still give the guy kudos for always allowing us to set our sights on something worth watching here. Can’t say that about many film makers who churn-out a movie a year, but thankfully, I can say it about this dude.
The problem is, after two hours and thirty minutes (yes, that’s how long it is), I was still left with an idea in my head: what the hell was that all about? The ideas and themes of there being issues between a father and a son, how we all look out for one another, and how hard it is to stay true to yourself in a world of evil and hate, are abundantly clear and here, and hit us in the face as much as beers to an alcoholic, but never seem to be worth the wait for. Honestly, when all of these stories do finally get the chance to come together, make some sense, and have us make up our minds on what to think of, it feels like a bit of a waste, mostly because nobody really solves anything. Gosling’s story ends a bit too quickly for us to feel like his life’s problems are solved, Cooper’s goes on and on without any clear happiness in sight, and the final story seems like it was all made for us to see how tension still arises, even as the new generations come alive.
It made no sense to me as to why this flick was named the way it was. The Pines definitely serve some sort of metaphor for each of these characters and the way they go about their business, but it didn’t seem reasonable. Certain things are said, and are left unsaid, but they never felt right. As the film continued to go on and on, these characters begin to pull off acts and stunts that not only seem unreasonable, but almost stupid. I get that people can deal with grief and sadness in all sorts of ways, but there comes a point in this flick where it just doesn’t make sense any more and feels like instead of dealing with real human-beings that have feelings, emotions, and a sense of right and wrong, we are dealing with a bunch of wacked-out peeps that act solely on a gut-feeling of anger and violence, without rhyme or reason. There are people out there who live like this, but in a flick like this, it didn’t seem right and didn’t make sense when you take the whole ending into actual consideration. If none of this makes sense to you now, please, go and see this movie and realize that there is a message to what I’m saying, as confusing and as bum-fucked as I may sound.
Thankfully, the ones that hold this flick together is the more-than-able cast of heavy-hitters that do what they do best: be compelling, no matter who it is that they are playing. The person from this cast that I think of the most when I say that, is without a doubt Ryan Gosling as Handsome Luke. Gosling not only uses that innate-likeability to his favor here, but also shows us that he still has the able chance to still scare the sheets off of us, and never know whether we can root for him, or boo him. Gosling has what it takes to make this character work and makes him the most fascinating out of them all, mostly because he strives to be more than just a convention: he actually has a beating-heart that doesn’t always make the right decision every step of the way, but at least tries to make up for them.
Eva Mendes plays his sugar-bunny that’s good, in probably the most-dramatic and compelling role we have ever seen her play before. Not only does Mendes do a perfect job at being able to not look hot or sexy, as hard as that may be for her, she also never forgets to remind us that this is a troubled and lonely woman, that we never lose sympathy for. Ben Mendelsohn is also a butt-load of fun and joy to watch as his buddy, a former-robber who helps him out nowadays, but don’t be fooled: this guy has a mean-streak to him that shows in a despicable-way.
Bradley Cooper is great as Avery Cross, the cop with a heart. Cooper really does well at being the type of guy we can feel for and trust, even when he doesn’t seem to do the right thing, and makes you understand why the guy has such a hard problem to think for himself, or take matters into his own hands. He gets to be a bit of a self-righteous dick by the end of this thing, but no matter what, he always stayed true to his character, his motivations, and what he strives for in life. Rose Byrne plays his wife, that I wouldn’t say is still in dullsville here, but doesn’t seem to have much to do other be a chick that never stops complaining about how he’s a cop and always has the chance of dying on the job. You did marry him, didn’t you? So why the ‘eff you bitchin’ at him?!? Let a guy do his job and get that money, money!
Lastly, the performances from Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen as the two kids that meet-up in school, is good in the way that it paints an interesting portrait of what it’s like to meet someone, and not have any idea what to expect from them, but that’s about as much as I can tell you right there. Just know this, DeHaan is great and definitely uses that angst-fueled look to his advantage, and know that Cohen tries to do the same, but his character is too much of a dick for us to really care about him at all. Okay, I think you know enough by now. Time for me to shut up and just go the hell home.
Consensus: With a more-than-reliable cast, suspenseful mood, well-written characters, and interesting plot-changes, The Place Beyond the Pines never loses focus on it’s story or what it’s trying to convey about it’s character, but loses grip with reality and begins to get more and more theatrical and obvious as it goes along. No matter what, you will feel compelled by this, but it starts to shy-away sooner than later.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Kids can be brutal.
A group of misfit kids celebrate their youngest member (Rory Culkin)’s birthday, but are doing more than just letting the good times roll. Instead, they use the birthday as an excuse to mess with a bully (Josh Peck) and teach him a lesson or two about picking on kids who are younger and smaller than him. However, the kids don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into, especially when shite gets a bit too serious for their own good.
Throughout my high school days, I never really saw any bullying, ever. Yeah, of course I would see the occasional “booking” of a nerd going to math class, or a “taco” of another person’s book bag, but nothing too serious to the point of where I felt like some kid was going to get killed because of it. I said the same things and stated my ideas on the idea of bullying in that documentary, Bully, and all this time later, nothing still has changed. That’s why I’m glad I stayed away from being bullied or doing the bullying, just so I didn’t have the problem of seeing a kid go bat-shit like this.
First-time writer/director Jacob Aaron Estes does a magnificent job with this material, and makes a surprisingly moral tale out of a group of just 6 kids. Some of these kids are nice, some are kind hearted, some are bad, some are evil, and some are just plain evil. The film starts off like you’re going to see this bully finally get what’s coming to him, but in little time, you start to realize that this kid isn’t such a terrible person after all. In fact, he’s just as troubled as the dicks that put him up to this whole screwing with. But it’s not him that’s the only one that has problems, everybody else does too and if they don’t have problems, they at least have something that ticks away at them until the point of where they are absolutely losing their shit. This fascinated me because I thought that this flick was just going to be a mixture of Stand By Me and Bully (Larry Clark’s movie), but what I got instead, really tug at my brain and made me think a little bit.
It’s hard, actually, really too hard to make the “right” decision on what you would do if you were ever stuck in the same situation these kids get themselves caught in. Estes shows that these kids obviously can’t decipher between what is morally-correct and what is the best thing for them to do. I know that may sound similar, but trust me, when you’re a kid and you’re stuck in a situation like this one, they become two entirely, separate things. Yet, what also had me thinking about this film more was how Estes doesn’t really sympathize with any person in particular. Actually, everybody gets their own chance to show sympathy for their character and it’s very hard to choose who is the “right” person out of this situation. I know I’m being very vague about this “situation” but it’s really something you want to have no idea about going into.
My main complaint is that the second act is probably the most tense, if not the best part about this flick. Other than that, the other two acts (first and last) all pretty much suffer from being a tad too boring and predictable. The first act is obviously building up to what is essentially going to be our “party between the kids and the bully” so of course, the film takes its good old time, but maybe it was a little too good for it’s own self and that’s what bothered me. Then, the second act comes around and that’s when everything gets better and you really feel like this film has taken off of the ground. However, all of that goes to crap and then we get another slow/tedious-paced act that feels like Estes just wants to lolly-gag around with his film because he didn’t really know where to go after all of this.
It’s also a huge bummer considering everybody, myself included, pretty much guesses what happens to these kids on their little “party”, and that the only thing that’s really unpredictable is what they choose to do afterwards. You sort of know where it’s going to go after this all because there is only one way to go from here. It works as a thinking piece since it shows people doing the right things, and also doing the wrong things, but altogether doing something that only humans would do, especially in your right mind. But as a thriller; not really. Still don’t want to give it away even though I feel like I already have but it’s still pretty freakin’ easy to know just what the hell is going to happen, how, why, and when.
What I was really surprised about with this film was how good the performances were by this very young cast, most of which we’re under 20 around the time of filming. Rory Culkin plays the sweet and meek Sam, a kid who wants to get revenge on this bully but just can’t find any anger out of his heart to ever hurt another kid, let alone, a bully. Honestly, no matter how messed up and crazy those Culkin kids can be, they sure know how to act they’re asses off, even if they are only 8. Scott Mechlowicz was pretty damn awesome as the macho, slightly insecure dude named Marty and has that River Phoenix-thing going for him, which makes me surprised that he isn’t in more stuff as of late. The kid owns that bad-boy look here and even though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he’s a hunk, he’s got good looks that could definitely win over the ladies and make him a household name in some cheesy, Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Not saying that’s the right path to go down, but it wouldn’t hurt. Okay, yeah nevermind. Maybe it would. Don’t do that.
Actually, the best out of this cast would probably have to be Josh Peck as the bully, George. Right from the start of this flick, you feel sorry for this kid because you know that he’s not a bad kid, he just has some serious mental issues that he can’t help no matter how bad he tries to fit in with this group of kids. He actually tries so hard to the point of when he does feel rejected, he starts to lose his temper and finds that the only way of covering himself is by spouting out insults at the other people. Obviously no normal kid with a head on his shoulder would act like this, but George isn’t a normal kid and that’s what sad. This film shows that bullies, no matter how mean or cruel they can be, are still humans too and should be treated as such. Peck is great in this role and I definitely wasn’t thinking about Drake Bell when I watched this, which was something that totally shocked me since I loved that show. As a kid, of course….
Consensus: Mean Creek suffers from being deliberately slow and predictable in its first and last act, but regains its momentum through heartfelt performances from this young cast, superbly-written moral themes about the right thing to do, and is also a solid reminder by just how cruel and ruthless young kids can be to one another, no matter who the victim is.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Aren’t the people who work in admissions heartless, soulless creatures? Or at least the ones who denied me?
Tina Fey plays Portia Nathan, a Princeton University admissions officer who is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Paul Rudd). Portia also finds out that she may have a son that she doesn’t remember all too fondly for reasons unknown.
Anybody who has ever attended college or is planning to do so in the next year, probably already knows how grueling the admissions process is. You get your application, you say everything beautiful and amazing you have ever done with your life or the world, hand it in, and just hope and pray to the lord above that they decide to make you that one in a millionth person to get in. However, as most of us know, it isn’t that easy and usually, we get denied. So, who do we blame? Ourselves? Pshh! Nah! We blame those spineless, horrible people that work in the office, where they either deny you, approve you, or put you on the waiting list.
So, therefore, to know that these are the people that the rest of your days depend on, is one thing, but to dedicate a whole entire movie to those people, especially one that loves her job so much, just seems downright idiotic? Why the hell would we want to watch someone who denies and judges kids for a living as to whether or not they saved the world with their limited resources, for over 2 hours? Well, with Tina Fey playing that person, then I guess you could count me in as one of those people.
The movie starts out, not quite like I was expecting it to. See, I knew there was going to be comedy, I knew there was going to be romance, and I knew there was going to be dramatic, mommy-issues, just judging by the trailer alone, but the beginning really started things off on the right foot. It was fun, quick, and actually hilarious in the way that it makes fun of most kids that apply to schools like Princeton, or anywhere for that matter, and how they are solely judged right from the start, without ever getting a chance to plea their case. They make fun of this harsh reality by showing how shallow the people who work in admissions can be, but then again, not all of them are bad. Some are just more heartless than the others. You’ll find that anywhere you go, in any work place, really.
But aside from that fact, this movie really had me going from the beginning just because it seemed to take pride and joy in it’s premise, and milking it for all of what it was worth. The idea of having this admissions lady, that’s all stuck-up and a tad prudish, find her ways through the world by a bunch of farm boys and possible-son, doesn’t seem like a case for a comedic-classic. But this flick continues to make you laugh by just never stopping and always seeming natural. Nothing seems like they’re trying too hard here and I think that’s all thanks to the cast and crew that director Paul Weitz was able to assemble here.
Tina Fey, god bless her, is the real powerhouse of this whole movie that keeps it going on and on and on, until it can spin no mo. Fey, as we all know, can be and is, very hilarious in this movie because she plays it cool, calm, and sweet, but always stays true to herself in the way that we can tell that this Portia lady is a nice one, who just has the dilemma of being an admission-worker, that may also have a son. A lot of the scenes where it could have easily been written off as “goofy”, “stupid”, or “dumb”, Fey rises above the material and makes it worth your hard-earned doll hairs, if you decide to check this out in theaters when it comes by.
But what really surprised me about Fey the most here is how she was able to be funny and charming, but also very realistic in the way she handled herself through most of the dramatic scenes, which, for the most part, were the core scenes in making this movie work it’s magic and charm. Thankfully, with Fey on-board, the magic sizzles. There’s a couple of key scenes by the end where we really feel something for Fey, her character, and all that she’s been through, and to watch all of that culminate in a scene where she has to speak-out for her supposed-son during the admissions process, really touched me and almost had me feel like any mom would do the same. Fey really strikes a chord with this character, makes us feel for her, but also let us see who she really is and all that she feels. Thanks to Fey, this movie works way beyond then I expected it to, and that’s because the gal has a natural charm that cannot be denied whether she’s being goofy, laughing, sexy, or just downright serious. Either which way, she’s great at what she does and was a real pleasure to watch on-screen.
Even though his role isn’t as dramatically-rich as Fey’s, Paul Rudd still gets to show us all what he’s got as the simple, everyday man John Pressman. Rudd has that wit and charm that’s easy to make anybody smile and chuckle at, but there’s also more to this character than we see coming. He has a bit of a problem just staying in one area for his whole life and instead, can’t really make up his mind as to where he wants to go in life, or how. That would be fine and all if he was a 21 year old, recent-graduate of college, but the dude’s over 40, has a kid, has a job, has a house, and has a responsibility. This guy definitely should be taking it easy and realizing where his priorities really stand. Rudd’s great in this role, even if when he does go up-against Fey, she’s the one who really steals the show.
There’s a whole bunch of others in this cast that are great like Fey’s DIY-mom, played by the always hilarious Lily Tomlin, John’s adopted Ugandan son Nelson, played by Travaris Spears, and even the return of Wallace Shawn to the big-screen, as Portia’s boss at Princeton. Everybody in this heavily-stacked cast are great and do everything in their will-power to make these characters work, but by the end, something with this movie starts to change, with the tone, the direction, and the characters, and all of a sudden, everybody is revealing crap about themselves and having dilemmas that feel unnecessary Not to say that none of these characters are interesting or anything, but they all seem to have a problem in life, and talk about it at the most random situations possible. I get that there’s stuff that needs to get laid-out on the table for all to see, but it begins to happen to almost every character here, and really bothered me seeing as that the movie could have just stuck it straight with Fey and Rudd, and been done. But they bit off a bit more than they could chew, and it’s noticeable.
Consensus: You may be surprised, but Admission is a very surprising piece of entertainment that had me laughing, had me happy, had me smiling, had me fall in love with Tina Fey all over again, but also, had me a tad sad by the end, where I actually fell into tune with these characters, their problems, and how they get by in life. Was not expecting this one bit.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
I know men from the prehistoric age are “cavemen”, but what about the ladies. Cavewomen? Oh dear, this review is going to be awkward.
The Croods are a loving family that finally get their big chance to go on a road trip and see what else is out there in the world for them. But their problems fall-through when their cave is destroyed, leaving them with the idea of finding a new home and discovering what else is out there to offer them in this large, vast world of beauty, and sometimes, ugliness. Maybe I made it a bit more dramatic, but you get the drift.
Any movie that concerns a family being stuck in the Stone Age, cannot run away from the comparisons to the Flintstones. I mean, let’s be honest: we all love the show but can nothing ever come close to achieving the type of fun and hilarity it did? Anything at all? Well, it doesn’t seem to matter since the kids love purrty things flying at their little heads, cool-looking animals, spending all of mommy’s and daddy’s money, and seeing 3D movies, and isn’t that who this movie is made for? Exactly. So shut yo ass up all of haters.
With animated-flicks like these, you can’t go in and expecting a masterpiece like it seems Pixar delivers on, but you can go in and expecting and good time and that is what I had with this movie here. Kids love this type of stuff, but can the parents that sit along and watch? Of course, but most of this is all for the kiddies and they’ll eat it all up like they usually do with animated-pics like these. The movie looks beautiful because it’s filled with colors, crazy-looking creatures, and a bunch of exotic-locations that seem like they were done with the attention to detail in mind. The 3D is fine for what it is, but not something worth shelling out the money for, unless your kids just so happen to be really nagging you about it. In that case then, go for it and tell them to shut the hell up. Hopefully, they abide.
No matter what though, the movie always has a nice look to it, but also a feel to it as well. There isn’t anything here that will necessarily go over the kids heads, nor it will it seem to be deemed “inappropriate” by any on-looking parents. It’s jokes are purely based in physical humor where people get wacked over the heads with trees, rocks, and cliffs; it’s characters all love each other and do the right thing for one another; and the message is more than you’d expect from traditional, kiddie-fare. The movie shows kids that it isn’t so bad to want to experience the world for yourself in some ways, and to never be scared by what may be out there. It’s nothing new, groundbreaking, or interesting, considering the type of stool it’s delivered on, but it still brings a little more something to the table than you’d might expect it to, especially for the kids that may have newly-found wonders about the world. But no need to fear, parents, the kids are still going to want to hold and hug you, when it’s all said and done.
Still, I have no clue as to why the hell I’m writing this review as if I’m talking to actual parents that may want to take their kids to see this. They don’t read this blog and I’m sure of it! But if you do just so happen to read this, take your kid to see it and see how they feel. I was in a movie theater full of a bunch of youngsters that not only went, “Aaaah” every time something came off the screen, but left with their parents, hugging, crying, and kissing. That idea that a movie can still instill the hearts of love between family members made me happy to see, even if it came from a movie like this. Then again, isn’t that what the movies are made for? So we can all be happy, love one another, and realize a little bit more something to our lives then we realized were there before? Okay, maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on this so never mind. Just go see this and be happy, dammit!
Some may find it strange that they got a cast like this, to animate a movie that doesn’t seem to have anything else going for it other than a bunch of visuals that the kidddies may want to go see, but I have to give it to each and every one of them. Since the cast of speaking-characters is so small, so is the cast but at least they all do fine jobs at having us care for them, and understand their personalities as a whole, family-dynamic. Nic Cage may scare some people off, due to the fact that he hasn’t been very successful as of late, but don’t be fooled because he’s probably the best thing about this cast, voicing the father of the fam. Cage doesn’t have a powerful voice, but he has one that makes you feel like this guy is has nice-intentions, even if he gets a bit lost in his own ass at times. Also, the enjoyment of having Nic Cage voice this character is that the character himself, actually does some crazy and wild things that made me laugh, if only because of the faces and moves I expected Cage would have been making, when he recorded this. It’s funny, especially if you like Nic Cage when he’s being, well, Nic Cage.
The rest of the cast is fine, but nobody really as special as the one and only Cage-meister. Emma Stone seems to be having buckets of fun as the free-spirited, but curious teen of the fam; Clarke Duke is still nervous and twitchy as the dumb-headed bro; Cloris Leachman is nasty and a bit sparky as the aging, but never dying grandmother; Catherine Keener is pleasant as the almost, nonexistent mother of them all; and Ryan Reynolds seems to like being cool, swift, charming, and so damn dreamy, even if it is only his voice we can hear, and his body nowhere to be found. I’m still pretty sure the ladies won’t mind that.
Consensus: If you’re a person that likes to go to the movies alone to have a bit of fun, live in another world, and forget the misery you actually live in (yes, some of us do have that), then The Croods will be a fine fit for you, but mainly for the families, the kiddies, and the ones who need to please others. Non-sexually, that is.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Does staying at-home and going to community college count as the same experience?
Lena Dunham plays a Aura, a twentysomething gal who just broke-up with her boyf, lost her inspiration of what to do in life, and is now living with her artist mother and little sister. Aura is finding it hard to make sense of the world that she’s living in, mostly because she feels like she should be doing more with her life, and just isn’t. It’s a whole bunch of post-collegiate problems that nobody cares about, except for white people. We eat that shit up.
Here’s the type of flick I automatically expected to hate going in, but had the exact-opposite feeling afterwards. Here I was thinking that this was just another mumblecore movie where a bunch of people say and do quirky things, all for the fun and entertainment of people that love this type of stuff and why? Oh, because it’s an “indie movie” and their allowed to get away with all of that junk. This movie isn’t one of those that I rant against, and that’s all thanks to Lena Dunham, who, as you all know by now, is pretty much “The Shit”.
Dunham not only starred in this flick, but she directed and wrote it, and that self-reliance of knowing one’s self is what shines through the brightest here. The direction is nothing new, flashy, or original that won’t have you going crazy over night, but the screenplay is exactly that. Actually, I wouldn’t even say that the screenplay itself is anything new, flashy, or original, it’s just simple. But it’s so simple that it works and feels like real-life, where real people speak to one another, in a sometimes quirky-fashion, but still works because you believe in everything and everybody in the movie. You could totally tell that whatever the hell Dunham went through once she got out of college, is all packed into this screenplay for us all to see and hear, and that brutal honesty is what resonated with me the most because sometimes I feel like Aura, or Dunham for that matter.
Granted, I’m not necessarily in the same position as Aura is where she has a post-college life and is just trying to get her foot on the ground, but still, if you have ever felt lonely, sad, or just not able to make sense of the things around you, then this is most likely the type of film that you want to see because it will feel real and honest to you, almost as much as it did to me. Aura isn’t a walking-stereotype of the person that can’t seem to get her shit together, shut the hell up, and move on with her life, but just a person who thought she had it all, and got it snatched-away from her in a single second, without an idea of what the hell to do. I’m sure that I speak for most of us out there and say that yes, we have all felt like that at least during one point of our lives. If not, you gotta start living, man!
As much as I may make this movie seem like a total debbie-downer, that isn’t what Dunham’s all about. She’s about showing us the crazy-situations we roll through in life, and just how we can get by them just by being ourselves. You can not only tell that Dunham is her original-self through the script and direction, but through her performance as well. There’s this certain essence of just being plain, original, and nothing but the truth that feels more realistic than anything else in this movie, and made me wonder how much of it she was acting. Dunham obviously isn’t the hottest bean in the soup, but I don’t think she cares about that and neither should we. She absolutely gets by on just being herself and telling others to shove it, which is what I always love in my women, especially my leading-actresses. Dunham’s “no-charm” act is what probably what makes her so charming in the first-place and I can’t wait to see what she has to do next for film, whenever she gets a break from Girls.
The rest of the cast is filled with a bunch of no-names, but each and everyone are just like Dunham in the way that they feel emotionally-honest and true, almost to the point of where it doesn’t seem like they’re acting. The fact that Dunham cast her real-life mommy and sissy was really smart and builds up a sweet-chemistry between them all that fits within the context of the story, and shows you that even if you do get in fights with your fam and have disagreements, at least you can always go back to them because no matter what; they love you underneath it all. I know I would never be able to make a movie with anybody from my fam, but hey, good for Lena. Sure she makes them all proud. Once again, nothing flashy, new, or original, but they all nail their roles and show what it’s like to be young, a bit wild, a bit nasty, a bit grumpy, a bit free, but always dumb with the things they do or say. As I said before, I think I speak for everybody else out there when I say, we all know exactly what that means.
The only problem that I actually felt with Dunham’s movie is that I feel like it goes on and on and on for so long (an hour and 39 minutes, okay), but never really has much of a point. Maybe I missed the point when I was laughing my ass off at the humor that Dunham has, but the overall-message of this movie seemed to be lost as soon as that wacky and surprising third-act comes into play, and we realize it’s a bit more serious than we expected. However, even if it is serious, I still never really felt like I knew quite where Dunham was getting at with this story or what she was trying to say. Being with family is great? Being with family sucks? Love your parents even if they piss you off? Don’t have unprotected sex? I don’t know what, but the main message of this movie seemed to be skewered out of nowhere, and it didn’t really hit me as hard as the rest of the movie. That being said, it was still a pretty good movie that just so happened to have the unfortunate problem of not knowing what to say, mean, or end.
Consensus: Tiny Furniture is one of those loose, simple, sweet, and to the point movies where the story happens right in front of your eyes where people act like people, things are done, and words are exchanged, but at the end of the day: that’s just life, yo.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Family is weird.
India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is a young girl who suspects her mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) is up to some sheisty-dealings after he comes to live with her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) following the death of her father (Dermot Mulroney). But instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the main hype for this movie is surrounding the fact that this is South Korea’s Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), making his American feature-film debut and shows something to all of the other foreign directors that seemed to get thrown into the mix when they have to take crap material in the states. It seems to happen to every foreign-language director who makes a splash elsewhere, but Chan-wook is different. This is his film all the way through, and it’s usually for better, and for worse. Depending on the type of person you really are and what you like. Me, I’m still on the fence.
What makes this movie work is that it does have a very, very mysterious atmosphere and tone about it to where you have no idea what’s going, and exactly who’s behind all of these weird shenanigans that have been going on. From the get-go, it’s pretty obvious that not everything is as it seems to be, but that didn’t matter because it’s more deliberately-used, as Chan-wook allows his flick to build up more steam and tension as it goes along. For me, I always thought I knew where this story was going, how, and what they were going to reveal to me next, but that’s only because I’ve seen a shit-ton of movies. This movie actually surprised me when it was able to take leaps of death that I wasn’t in the least-bit expecting, and I have to give Chan-wook a bunch of credit for that, because it’s something that some of our finest, working-directors in America still don’t have the courage to pull-off just yet. Not saying that he’s better than anybody, just saying that the guy is able to show the brass balls he hides within. Or underneath his pants, physically too. Either way, the guy’s got guts.
Chan-wook also does a great job in keeping this flick so damn interesting, and not just by the story; but by the visuals. Every shot in this movie feels like it could be paused, taken-out, and displayed on a coffee table in some shop or some person’s house, and have everybody who picks it up, staring and gazing at it for day’s on end. Chan-wook not only gives this flick a plethora of beautiful colors to keep your eyes on-screen, but shows us some nice, visual-treats that he takes out of his goodie-bag. Certain scenes loom really cool, other scenes, just look very artsy-fartsy. But regardless of what you may deem them as, you still cannot deny that this flick is always interesting and always intriguing to watch, and if not for the story, then to see what Chan-wook can have our eyes feast on next. Trust me, you’ll see.
But something just didn’t feel all that right with this movie and I think I have my finger on what it was: it’s tone. See, this is one of those flicks where everything is dramatic, everything is eerie, and everything and everybody feel like they’re just being loopy, just for the sake to move the story along. Now, I know this type of story-telling does very, very well in the foreign countries, but in the states, it feels weird. For instance, there’s a bunch of staring and awkward-grinning between a bunch of characters that could be deemed as creepy and horrific in some, other countries because there’s a certain “art-essence” to it, but here, in the states, it just feels over-the-top.
In most cases, I was able to drop this idea from my head and just focus on the story and whether or not it I was interested, but other times it just felt like it tried too hard. Whether or not Chan-wook meant for that to happen, or that’s just his way of filming, is all beyond me. But watching this flick, you’ll almost feel like it’s parody at points, where people are just giving each other looks that the Dramatic Squirrel has been doing for a whole decade. Okay, you’re right. I’m sorry for putting this movie and that celebrity in the same sentence. He really is THAT COOL.
Where this film really counts, is in it’s cast who all do fine-as-hell jobs with all of the weird-shite that they are given. And yes, that does mean a lot for this movie. Mia Wasikowska always shows up in a whole bunch of movies that I actually get the privilege to see, and so far, she’s never done anything to really impress me. Sure, she’s cute and she has the promise to be the next, Amy Adams-type of gal, but so far, I haven’t seen anything from her that really had me calling till the cows came home. She’s always come off as sort of bland and dull, and never seems like she wants to liven-up the material and allows everybody else to do otherwise. Her performance as India marks the change in my perception of this gal. I’m sorry, Mia. You have my respects.
Wasikowska is awesome as India because she has to do a lot of strange brooding and stares to enhance her character and the type of mood she sends off to the others around her, but that’s something she’s very good at. She feels like a natural at just being weird outcast, but also the look and feel of a gal you do not want to fuck with, especially if she has a sharpened-pencil in her hand. A lot of the scenes where she is just standing there, silent, and not saying much, still compelled me, because I always felt like there was more to this character than she was letting on and what would you know it: I was right! Wasikowska definitely stole the show in this movie for me, and hopefully won’t let me down with whatever she’s got piled-up next.
Matthew Goode is also amazing as her strange-o uncle, Charlie, who has never been mentioned or seen, until now. Goode is good (teehee) at playing-up the whole suave look and easy charm that all of the characters in his movies display so well and it adds another level of weirdness to a character, that we already know we can’t trust. He’s not the type of guy you want on your side, but you start to realize that maybe, just maybe, he isn’t as bad as they make him out to be. Just a bit fucked-up in the head. Whether or not you are able to go along with that aspect with that character is totally up to you, but I like how Chan-wook showed me more to a character that wasn’t just all about being odd, but sexy at the same time. Ladies, get ready to double-bag the panties for this one. You’re gonna need ‘em for Mr. Goode. Aw yeah.
The biggest disappointment of this whole movie is probably watching Nicole Kidman play second-fiddle to not just these characters, but this story as well. Don’t get me wrong, Kidman is good as India’s mom and chews a bit of scenery when she gets the chance to, but there isn’t much else to her and sort of comes of like a total bimbo, in the grander scheme of things. You never get the full feel or essence that she was ever a nice lady beforehand, and you never get it after the movie, so why the hell do we need Kidman in the first-place? I’ll tell ya why: she’s a big name, she’s a good actress, and she may attract some people to see it where names like “Goode” and “Wasikowska” won’t. Sorry, peeps. But it’s the hard-to-honest truth. Same goes to Jacki Weaver. Why the hell was she even here?
Consensus: Certain parts work and others parts don’t, but no matter what, Stoker is at least a fun, interesting, and always-vibrant English-language debut from Park Chan-wook who shows us that he definitely has some of getting used-to with the way we handle business in the states, but still isn’t a person I have to worry about lowering my expectations for any time soon.
7 / 10 = Rental!!