Khan or not, it’s still STAR TREK!!! So, shut up!!
The crew of the Enterprise is back! But this time, they are under the guidance of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Whether or not that’s a good thing, people believe in him and will go about his every word. However, his leadership is put to the test when the Fleet is wiped out by a mysterious enemy (Benedict Cumberbatch). Kirk and his crew don’t back down and instead, lead a manhunt to capture “a one man weapon of mass destruction”.
4 years ago, J.J. Abrams did something that no person in their right mind thought was possible: he made Star Trek cool. Yep, that’s exactly right: the dude who brought us Felicity, brought us the most-accessible, and by far, most entertaining Star Trek movie of the whole franchise. I know I may be making some mortal-enemies with that last statement there, but let the record state that I am not a big Trekkie, have watched the show on numerous occasions and have seen about three or four films (at least what I can recall anyway). So yeah, I’m not the biggest Trekkie out there in the world, so yeah, maybe my opinion doesn’t matter in terms of what’s the best and what isn’t of the whole franchise, but do you know who’s opinion does matter? The regular, movie-going audience that got hooked with the last one, and can’t wait to see what this one has got going on, that’s who!
And I think it’s quite safe to say that they are going to have a great time with the latest check-up. Or, at least I hope, because I sure as hell know I did.
The odd aspect behind this whole movie it’s that Abrams doesn’t go balls-to-the-walls with changing anything up here. Instead, we get sort of the same formula for the first one, except a bit of a darker tone. However, I don’t want to really say it’s darker just because the stakes of human-life are a bit higher, but I definitely want to say it’s more “emotional” than the first one, which was more happy-go-lucky in the way that it didn’t want to bother people too much. Basically, this movie is just like the first, but do not take that as insult whatsoever, because I loved that about this movie.
Abrams knows the type of movie he wants to make, and he knows that he’s got to have a little bit of everything for everyone. Yes, even those damn Trekkies get their shout-outs every once and awhile too, and it’s not just the obvious ones neither. There’s a shit-ton of action, some romance, a lot of humor, some sexiness, some drama, and a bunch of scenes that actually may scare you, just by how unexpected they are. But no matter where Abrams takes this movie, it always remains fun in the type of way that you almost feel like you can’t keep up with this movie. It’s sort of like when you’re running, and your friends show up next to you in their hot-ass ride and challenge you to a playful, but somewhat-serious running vs. driving race, and you continue to run your heart out, even though you know at the bottom of your slowly-dying heart you don’t have what it takes to beat the car, let alone even come close to catching up with it. You know what I mean? Kind of? Well, that’s what this flick reminded me of: running-up against my friend’s hot-ass ride.
Don’t get me wrong, neither, because that is nowhere near being a bad thing, especially during the beginning of what seems to be an already-promising Summer. Abrams always gives us something new to view, whether it be some beautiful visuals or something popping-out us in 3D, it doesn’t matter, because it’s always thrilling. In some cases, you could almost say that this movie has too much action, but to that, I’d probably say, “ehh.” The reason I’d say that is because you wouldn’t be wrong with that statement whatsoever, however, I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind their action done when it’s always electric, entertaining, tense, and can keep me as glued to the screen as I was here.
Seriously, even though I know everything’s going to be cool with each and every one of these characters, and whether or not they’re fates will be decided in a gloomy-way by the end, I was still on-the-edge-of-my-seat, just wondering what was going to happen next, to whom, and how the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise was going to feel after all of the tears have been dropped. Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but it was what I was feeling, while I sat all crumbled-up with my large-ass soda and popcorn. I was feeling comfy, cozy, and all easy inside, and then this movie came on and had to ruin everything for a simple man like myself. However, that’s not a negative either. I had fun with this movie, no matter what Abrams decided to throw at the screen and see what stuck, and it just goes to show you that this guy really does have the mastery and the craft to voice a new generation of Star Wars fans for many, many years to come.
Still though: what’s going to happen to his Star Trek franchise? Who knows? Only time will tell on that one, my friends.
Just like the first movie, this Star Trek entry may have the explosions, the cool-gadgets, the Klingons, and the fireworks to catch your pretty, little eyes, but in reality: it’s all about the characters and which ones mean the most to each other. Just in case you were questioning whether Spock and Kirk made up, hugged, and got over their differences, no need to worry; because they haven’t. Yup, they still bicker, argue, and trade quips against one another about choosing logicality-over-impulse and it’s as enthralling to watch as it was in the first movie. It never gets old, despite them having a fight about five or six times here, and you always wait to see what layer of this character is going to peeled-off next, so that the other can capitalize on the vulnerability of the other and show their strength. It’s not all serious though, it’s played for fun and games, but there’s something still really strong between these two that obviously keeps them on the same ground, united, and, well, “friends.” Believe it or not, these two are friends, and this movie shows that many-upon-many of times, all of which, are as compelling and heartwarming as the last. No, Kirk and Spock do not start making-out, but if they did, the reaction would have been filled with more claps than boos.
The two cats playing those iconic characters, respectively, Chris Pine and Zachary Qunto, are still amazing at what they do and show that they have fully grown into these characters with much ease and skill. Pine is as brass as he can get as Kirk, but still shows some ounces of humanity every once and awhile that has us feel like the kid is learning as time goes on, and the stakes continue to get higher for him, and his crew. Quinto is also great as Spock, showing just how smart and thought-provoking he can be with what he says, what he stands for, and what he stands against. Quinto has pretty much mastered the hell out of this role by now, and it’s no surprise that once things start getting a little hectic for Spock in the end, Quinto owns it and makes us feel like Spock will, and forever always be: a bad-ass. I mean, after all, I do own this t-shirt, so I think I know when the guy’s bad-ass and when he’s not. Rarely ever is he the latter.
As for the others along for the adventure, not all of them get as much screen-time as they did with the first movie, but still show each of the acquired-skills and how they all come into play with this story, at least once or twice just to remind us that they are there. Zoe Saldana is good as Uhura, as her and Spock’s relationship is once again, tested to see if they really are worth sticking around and getting all hyped-up over, or if they should just focus their attention on space, and shit like that. A bit obvious for a story like this to go down that route, but both stars handle it like professionals and easily make it a relationship worth caring about, even when danger stares both of them in the eyes, even without a blink. And yes, we all know that Alice Eve’s Carol will eventually play a bigger-role in the franchise sooner or later, but for right now, she’s just here for this and this alone. She’s good when she is called on to do something, but that’s very rare when she isn’t just posing in some misogynistic movie-scene. Not a huge feminist by any stretch of the meaning, but I do know when unneeded is exactly that, and that scene was. At least she’s hot, though.
Even though they don’t get as much adoration and love like they did in the first one, everybody else seems to get their one moment in the sun, and milk it for as long as they can. Simon Pegg is a bigger-part in this story, than he was in the last, and has a great time with the role, but isn’t his usual jokey-wokey self. Yes, Pegg’s definitely funny as Scotty, but the guy helps out a bit more with these plans that makes him less of a fool, and more a smarty-pants, that does smarty-things. Karl Urban is a laugh-out-loud riot as Bones, and shows why his comedic-timing is a thing to behold, even in the darkest of situations. I guess it’s still nice to see when the guy isn’t judging drug-addled crooks, the dude’s still got time to patch everyone up. John Cho gets to have his moment to play in the sun and sand as Sulu, but is mainly there to steer the ship when it needs that ripe-steering, and Anton Yelich is barely even here as Chekov, but I think that’s on-purpose for the whole fact that not many people really care for the dude. Chekov, I mean, not Yelchin. Although, I wouldn’t be too sure that the Trekkies don’t have it out for that guy either. Those mofo’s are crazy.
Most of the hooplah surrounding this movie isn’t about whether it’s good or not, or even better than the first; it’s mainly been all around if the main villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, will in fact be Khan or not. Without diving into any more about this character that may land me in some hot lava, I just want to say that the man is great with this role as he always seems to be one step ahead of everybody else on the Enterprise, and does whatever the hell he can to keep his name, his pride, and his destination clear in sight. The guy’s got some real scary eyes that demand your attention, and it works. You never quite feel like this dude’s going to get away with anything he plans, which in it’s own right, doesn’t make all that much sense to begin with, but you don’t care. All you know about this dude is that he’s a baddie, doing baddie things, and not so much as leaving a post-it for saying “sorry.” Yeah, I know, right? What a total dick!
Has to be Khan, right? I don’t know. I’ll leave that one to you, my friends.
Consensus: Regardless as to whether or not it fully fits in line with the die-hard Trekkies or not, Star Trek Into Darkness is one hell of a ride that’s jam-packed with thrills, emotion, humor, beautiful special-effects, and a feeling that this franchise can, and just might go anywhere and it will always be awesome. Let’s just hope that J-squared doesn’t get too wild ‘n out with Star Wars.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
These penguins were definitely putting on a show. There’s no way they could be this cute.
The film depicts the yearly journey of the emperor penguins of Antarctica. In autumn, all the penguins of breeding age (five years old and over) leave the ocean, their normal habitat, to walk inland to their ancestral breeding grounds. There, the penguins participate in a courtship that, if successful, results in the hatching of a chick. For the chick to survive, both parents must make multiple arduous journeys between the ocean and the breeding grounds over the ensuing months.
Is it me, or are penguins not the most freakin’ adorable animals on the planet?!? Whenever I went to the zoo, I always loved watching them do their own thang, whatever it was, but I never imagined that I would feel this much for them. Yes, I know sound very unMAN-like, but there’s a soft-side to me as well and animals are the ones who always get me to express it the most (ladies?). That said, the rest of this review may make some of you laugh at and lose all respect for me. If that’s the case: then so be it! I love those furry, little things and no one’s going to tell me otherwise!
Co-creators of this flick, Luc Jacquet and Michel Fessler, deserve some huge love for all of the footage they were able to capture here considering the type of problems they had to go through. If it was below freezing for the penguins, chances are: it was freezing for them. Then, therefore, whenever anything bad happened to these penguins, they just had to sit there and let it all go down because that’s the way nature is. If it was me seeing a little penguin being ready to get chewed-up by some hawk, I would step right in there and do what mommy should have been doing, but maybe that’s why this movie wasn’t given to me. What I’m trying to say here is that these two dudes definitely went through a lot to get all of they needed to get and in the end: it all payed off for them.
What really took me along with this flick was some of the natural images and sights these guys are able to catch. And no, I’m not just talking about the sky (even though it did look pretty)! I’m talking about the scenes that would show us just how these penguins really are. We see plenty of beautiful scenes where the penguins find their mates, have intercourse, get the egg, watch as the egg grows older until finally, the egg has hatched and then a new penguin is born. It’s great to see scenes like this that shows us that penguins can be so happy and live beautiful lives, just like us. The simple things in life are what get us the most, and it’s very smiley-inducing to see our furry-friends get so worked up as well. However, it’s not always smiles and happiness with these little guys and girls. Life does throw you some sadness in there as well.
Even though I mentioned all of these beautiful things we see happen with most of these penguins, I somehow forgot to mention the fact that in between each and every single little event, danger seems to show itself at every stop and the mother and father are barely ever together with their baby, because each one is always out getting food. This is some real sad stuff but it gets worse once we actually start to see some of these little guys die and have their lives put into danger. There was this one scene where a hawk comes into attack one of the little penguins, and the whole time I was so scared for them and just wanted somebody to beat the shit out of that hawk. Then again, that’s the way nature is and I’m glad that I didn’t have to get involved with this flick, or else nothing would have been accomplished. There is also another very memorable scene where we see a mother mourning the death of her little baby and soon get jealous, and try to take another one. This scene made me well-up like a girl who just got stiffed before prom as it really made me feel like these penguins have to go through so much, just to produce an egg and keep it living. But as much depressing stuff as there may be, the film never loses that beauty to it. Some scenes will just make you smile from the joy of watching nature like this, work itself out right in front of you. Shit. I seriously got to start watching Discovery Channel more.
If there was any problem that I had with the direction of this film was that it was a little too obvious what these guys were trying to say about these penguins. I get it: they are just like us! Except for the sole-fact that they can’t run and also don’t go to the market for the food to support their family. That’s why putting all of the obvious-remarks into a film like this seems so cheap and obvious. Note to all of these documentaries out there: stop comparing humans to certain animal species. We are all alike, now let’s just cut the crap already!
I bet pretty much all of the people went into this film, not giving two shits about penguins, but walked out caring for them, loving them, and knowing everything from start to finish about them. And there is only one man to thank for that all: Morgan muthafuckin’ Freeman. Honestly, who else would be a better fit to narrate a story about a bunch of penguins that sometimes stay in one place, while other times, they move around. Freeman’s voice, is sort of like the voice from God, and he has this slight calmness to him that makes you feel like he actually knows a lot about these penguins and actually cares for them. Obviously, a lot of his stuff was written so it wasn’t just him who thought of it all on the spot to tell how he really felt, but I still couldn’t get past the fact by how relaxing Freeman could make this movie just by using his signature voice. I’m still trying to figure out what to call “his voice”. How about “Morgan Freeman’s voice”? Yup, sounds about good to me.
Consensus: March of the Penguins not only makes you feel happy to live in a world where penguins still can roam the Earth all happy and whatnot, but just make you happy to be alive in a world that is Earth, where the most-fascinating creatures live and around somewhere. You just have to find them yourself. Or watch documentaries like this that do the ground-work. Your choice.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
Farming has never looked so pretty, except for when you have to shovel cow manure. Then, that’s when things start to look shitty (pun intended).
During the early 20th century when every person is just trying their hardest to make ends meet and keep that dough rollin’, two poor lovers, Bill and Abby (Richard Gere and Brooke Adams), travel to the Texas Panhandle to harvest crops for a wealthy farmer (Sam Shepard). Because is a little bad boy, he encourages Abby to falsely-marry the farmer, for the sole reason that the dude is dying and you know what that means: bring on the riches! The plan starts to unravel for all three as real, hurtful emotions come in and people can’t control what they do, nor what they say.
In case you didn’t know, this is writer/director Terrence Malick’s second flick and it features all of his trademarks that film-goers love (and sometimes hate): beautiful visuals, over-the-head narration, sometimes incoherent story-line, and characters that you spend a lot of time just watching and waiting for them to do something. These are all good things if you love Malick and what he’s able to do with a camera. However, if you’re one of those notorious haters (and there are plenty of them); then this will most likely be a total bore-fest from beginning-to-end. For somebody that loves what Malick is usually able to do behind-the-camera; it was an amazing watch. Then again, I know there are others.
No matter what I do with the rest of this review, I know that I still have to start it all off just by mentioning one of my favorite aspects of this flick: the visuals. It pretty much goes without saying that a Malick film just oozes beauty, but this film really does considering how much time and effort it seems like he really put into these carefully-handled shots. Many of the scenes that Malick filmed, seemed as if he filmed them during the “golden hour”, which gives every single shot a big shade of gold and makes you feel like you’re actually watching these characters work their asses off in one long-ass piece of farmland. Speaking of the farmland, almost every shot in this flick has the long, sweeping farmland just laying in the background, which makes everything else surrounding it it just so damn beautiful to look at that I caught myself not even paying attention to what was going on right in front of me with these characters and this story. Instead, I just kept diverting all of my attention to the plowed land. I’m no Farmer John, but I do love a beautiful landscape, when I see one.
I don’t know what the hell goes through Malick’s head when he’s thinking about filming these types of images, but what I bet is that he just looks up and says “Hurry up! Get my camera because it’s time to film some works of beauty!” Either that, or he’s got Mother Nature on speed-dial. Regardless of what his style of filmmaking is, the guy deserves to be called an artist in every which way. Granted, he does make movies, but he makes one that are as beautiful as you’re ever going to in a artsy-fartsy museum This is real-life, actual videos of the world around us and it will make any person, including myself, happy to know that natural-beauty still does exist out there. Not this, or this, or hell, not even this; but THIS. Okay, maybe that last one was pushing it, but you get my drift.
But even when he does try to make everything gel with the story, it still comes off as the weakest part of the whole flick. I don’t know what it is about most of Malick’s films, but his stories always end up starting out weak, then get better but with this flick it sort of just started off as mediocre and kept that same pace throughout. The love triangle did have its jumps and humps here and there, but it seemed like Malick was more concerned with the visuals and how purrty everything looked. It’s not really as terrible as it might be for some directors that don’t have as much ambition or beautiful-imagery on-display as Malick, but you can totally tell what his strong-suit is and isn’t. The story did end up surprising me by the end and I like how Malick didn’t try to reach for any big, Biblical metaphor that just makes the whole hour and 30 minutes seem like one, big allegory for the world we live in. People do bad things, they screw up, they ask for forgiveness, and then they start all over again. That’s the way people work and sometimes, how the world works. Leave it at that, and show me pretty things.
As many of you loyal readers probably know by now, Richard Gere is not one of my favs (even though he does represent my homeland of Philadelphia, PA) but he’s actually pretty decent here. Once again, Gere brings out that rebellious side within him to give his character some depth and also mess around with what he thinks is right and what is wrong. Nothing too amazing to write home about, but it’s still a performance that didn’t make me cringe every time he popped up on-screen, which is what plenty of his other performances have done to me in the past. Sam Shepard is also here and is good as the rich, and slowly dying farmer that you can’t help but feel bad for considering that this guy is being scammed so easily and he doesn’t even know it. Nice to see Shepard play a likable guy for once, too. Brook Adams plays Gere’s lover, Abby, and gives off a good performance even though I wish her character had more to her rather than just standing there, smiling and looking pretty. Then again, those aren’t bad to have in the first place.
Actually, the stand-out in this flick in terms of the cast, has to be Linda Manz as the factory worker’s little sister, aptly named Linda. Her performance as the little girl is pretty solid but it’s her fly-on-the-wall narration that really kept me going with this story and if it wasn’t for her, I probably would have not known just what the hell was going on. Every little line of dialogue that she speaks to the audience feels genuine, almost if she wasn’t even handed a script and Malick just told her “to talk about what you see, other than utter beauty.” Malick is always able to draw some amazing performances from his cast-members and his way with Linda is no different, which is why I think that the narration really saves the day at the end of it.
Consensus: Days of Heaven may not feature the most intriguing or compelling story that needs to be seen, but still looks like an actual painting brought to life, courtesy of the art-master himself, Terrence Malick. It also gives you a sense of what type of setting you’re in, people you’re around, and what each of them have on their minds. Also, got to give it to Malick for giving me a Richard Gere performance that didn’t bother me up to high heavens. Yay!! (There was a pun in that last sentence but I’m not even going to bother).
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
Dinosaurs never have been, and never will be the same.
Two dinosaur experts, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler Laura Dern), are invited to test out a soon-to-be theme park from a millionaire named John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). Hammond has it all: he’s got the glitz, the glamour, the look, the style, and most surprisingly; he has dinosaurs. That’s right those things that you thought were exterminated almost 70 million years ago are in Hammond’s park, and are causing a ruckus like you’d expect. However, when that ruckus turns from playful to deadly in a matter of 24 hours, all hell breaks loose and it’s time for everybody to get their asses the hell of that damn island.
It’s been a long, long time since I made a return to this wonderful, but scary island but it was still a trip worth taking, even if it was in 3D this time around. Here’s the thing about the 3D since most peeps will want to know right off the bat: it’s nothing worth even talking about (even though that is exactly what I’m doing). The 3D is cool at times and definitely makes you feel as if you are a lot closer to the action than ever before, especially when it’s just jumping right out at you, but other than that; it’s nothing special that would really make me want to go out and see it, again and again. Even though I did see it in theaters, it was all because it was free, early in the a.m., and best of all, with my daddy waddy. Father-son bonding. Ain’t nothing else like it.
Aside from the 3D elements that are relatively lackluster at best, let me just get back with the movie and say that it’s still as fun and entertaining as much as it was all those years ago I watched it as a kid. I remember being scared of the big-ass dinos, I remember gripping my seat when those kids were running all-over-the-place in that kitchen, and I especially remember those freaky fuckers that used to spray poison/venom out of themselves, just as soon as they gave you the warning sign to “run the fuck away, now!”. Fond memories going into this movie and I was so happy to see none of them really tarnished, even if some glaring problems come in the way now that I’m a more sophisticated, and uppity-uppity film critic.
Some of the problems I seemed to have had with the script was not that it was lame or anything, it’s fine for what it is and what it tries to do, it’s just that when the initial plot where there is running, chasing, and panic all throughout the area, I felt like it could have been handled better, and written better without all of the plot inconveniences For instance, the character of John Hammond just seemed like an idiot for even bothering opening up this park, for one reason and one reason only: there’s not enough security. The fact that the dippy was even thinking of opening up this park, where dinosaurs can easily get out of their safe-spots, just by knocking down a couple of wires, seemed really idiotic to me and not something that a rich millionaire would even forget about. Then, it goes on about how he’s cloning these dinosaurs from other gene-pools and turning them all into female, even if that proves a problem for evolution within this park, along with the rising tensions. I get that the guy had a passion and inspiration to create this park and allow everybody to see it, but you got to think things through man before you go all nutso on us.
There’s other problems with the script in certain areas, but the fact of the matter is that this movie is still fun, still entertaining, and still freaky, despite being released almost 20 years ago. Shit, I was actually three months away from entering the world when this movie came out. I’m getting old, man. The movie holds up in many ways because it shows what Steven Spielberg can do when he has a vision and that includes having a ball with his material. Some of it is a tad serious, but rightfully so. It allows us to feel worried for these characters as they constantly try to run and hide from these dinos, without losing a leg, arm, shoulder, knee, or life. It’s pretty scary even after all of these years, but I like how Spielberg was able to transition it back-and-forth, between serious and fun. It’s not light entertainment by any stretch, but if you bring your kid to it, I highly doubt they’ll be scared for life. Granted, they may wet the bed every night and never, ever want to see a dinosaur again, but that’s just life my friend. Quite frankly, it’s your call if you want to take them to see it, not mine. So please, don’t sue me if the kid ends up in a nut-ward or a serial killer. Just saying.
Another factor of this movie that works and also shows how much fun Spielberg seemed to be having while filming was the ensemble-cast he was able to assemble and make ready for this “dinosaur on a rampage” flick. Might have been a hard-sell at the time, but somehow, the man was able to get a lot of heavy-hitters that are still doing great work, even to this day. Laura Dern and Sam Neill are good as the couple that loves dinosaur bones as much as they love each other, and are good at what they do, whether they be together or separate Dern is good at playing-up that tough, female-role where she can do almost as much dirty work, if not more than the boys in town; whereas Neill is good at playing-up his role as the type of dude who doesn’t like kids and doesn’t even want him, but yet, finds himself almost acting like a daddy when the shit hits the fan. Bedtime stories and all.
Samuel L. Jackson shows up and is good in his couple of scenes where he infamously utters the line, “Hold on to your butts.” A bit corny, but it’s classic because of Mr. Jackson. Or Samuel L. Whichever one that mofo desires. Despite the problems I had with his dumb-ass character, screen-vet Richard Attenborough was actually very good at giving us a glimpse into a man that has too much money, too much ambition, but not enough smarts to fully think things through. I felt bad for him, until I realized that he allowed his grand kids to show up for this wonderful weekend. I guess he won’t be invited to Christmas din-din any time soon. And lastly, need I not forget about the one, the only, Mr. Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, aka, the rock-star scientist who always lays low, always lays cool, and always has something hilarious or witty to say. It’s classic-Goldblum, whadda ya expect?!?
Consensus: Though the extra-dimension isn’t needed, Jurassic Park still holds up as one of the best, and most entertaining Spielberg flicks because he never seems to lose that fun-aspect that makes it such a ride (they actually have a pretty sucky one in Universal), and also the serious side to it all where you feel like anybody could die at any second, you just don’t know how to expect it coming. Trust me, not as gruesome as it sounds so show your kiddies and see what they have to say. Unless they get traumatized for the rest of their lives. Once again, don’t blame me for not listening to your inner-soul.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
Never be able to watch Planet of the Apes the same way ever again. The original, by the way. Not Tim Burton’s crap-on-a-silver-platter.
After the Columbine Massacres occurred in 1999, the world as we knew it was all in a wrestle because of the whole idea that the two kids were able to get guns, get bullets, and get all the materials that they needed, with little to no problems whatsoever. Heck, they aren’t even half of the problem. Basically, everybody’s allowed to get a gun in certain states and all it requires is a couple of papers to be signed, a slight exam, and that’s it. You got your gun, you got your bullets, and best of all, you got your tool to fuel your madness, if you’re that type of person. Michael Moore takes a look at this issue, and like always: the insights are never sweet.
No matter what you may think about his political-views, the way he goes on walks, or how he makes the simple, joyous moment in the history of every film maker’s life, a walking-preach of what he thinks is wrong with the Bush administration, the guy is still one hell of a film maker and you cannot deny that. This movie is the prime example of what the guy is able to do and it never, ever ceases to amaze me. No matter how many damn times I get the privilege to see it. And that is always an honor as a movie lover, as a movie critic, and as a person, in general.
The whole gun-control issue in America is a very big one, but that isn’t what’s all discussed here. In fact, Moore goes on other topics such as fear, the media, violence, racism, corporate associations, K-Mart, musicians, war, money, hypocrisy, and so many other topics that I can’t even remember, but best of all, he goes for the jugular on all of them. I’ve heard so many things about Moore being a guy that does not take any prisoners when it comes to presenting something in front of our eyes and it’s no different here at all. I don’t even know where to begin with this review so let me just get down to the simple basics, baby.
This film doesn’t always give us the cut & dry solutions to certain happenings like the Columbine Massacre or 9/11, but it provides us with enough evidence, real-life conversations/interviews, and discussions as to why it is happening and what is behind all of it. I never, ever thought I could feel so much for documentary’s topic like gun-control and what’s really going on underneath the silver linings, but Moore made me think and feel something different. He isn’t out there to just bullshit us and give us what he thinks are the right solutions to these problems; he pretty much tells us and gives us valuable examples, statements, and reasons to back it all up. Moore talks with a bunch of people on a lot subjects and some of which, may have you totally surprised by how they are portrayed here.
Dick Clark just is a total asshole when Moore tries to talk to him about one of his prime restaurants and honestly made me wonder why the dude was even bothered with in the first-place. Seriously, you may not like Michael Moore or want to talk to him, but you do not have to be this much of a dick to get your point-across! Charlton Heston starts off his interview with Moore, being all “pro-rifle this, pro-rifle that”, but once Moore really gets to him and tells him what’s up, Heston starts to run away like a little baby because he’s so flustered in his argument. I don’t want to get into spoiler-territory with what this dude says or how he acts, but it will surprise the hell out of you and have you think a lot differently about the dude that our grand-parents never stop talking about.
Marilyn Manson may seem like the oddest-choice for this documentary, in terms of his music or what he brings to the table, but actually brings out one of the best points of the whole film. He tells us what he feels like to be blamed for the Columbine Massacre, and what he would have done to stop those kids from even thinking of doing such a thing. It sort of humanizes the guy in a way, that I didn’t think was capable of remotely happening. And finally, there is Matt Stone who also shows up and gives a bit of insight into the town of where he lived in, and how it’s considered one of the nicest places to be, despite it’s violent up-rising. It’s nothing special, but to hear it from a guy like this, still made me happy. There are plenty of other interviews here with other random, but significant people (such as a dude who “supposedly” committed an Oklahoma bombing and seems like one dude you do not want to be giving any type of lethal weapons to) and they all provide the best amount of information and insight into the world we live in as well as the documentary itself.
But what I liked the most about this movie isn’t that it’s a documentary all about Moore spouting-out facts left-and-right at us, it’s actually pretty entertaining to watch and follow along with, if you have the stomach for these kinds of things. I was surprised by how much I laughed during this flick, but by the same token, surprised by how much I was also very disturbed by. For the funny moments in this flick, there’s a nice animated-segment that play’s in the same breath as South Park that’s obscene, but true in the way that are history has wrapped it’s strange head. But then, you get to the very sad and disturbing stuff we are shown, as we actually get a couple of montages where we see people actually killing others with plenty of guns, military-footage of the war, and a whole scene where we see the Columbine Massacre happen, from the surveillance-video in the cafeteria. You’ll be glued in from start-to-finish with everything that Moore talks about, brings up, and states, but it isn’t boring in anyway and would have me howling at one point, but totally have my breath taken away (not in a Berlin-way) by some compellingly powerful stuff that Moore would show us as well. Whenever you can make somebody laugh one second, and then have them almost close to tears the next second, that’s usually a good sign of being a great director. Not good, not okay, but great.
Where this film bothered me at was how much it talks about and where it goes. I know that in this review, I stated that I liked how Moore went from topic-to-topic to give us a clear and broad understanding of what he’s talking about, but I didn’t like how it was so jumpy with it all. I get it, all of these acts of violence and anger are somehow connected to each other through some sort of statistic, but can you stop jumping around every five minutes? Please?!?!
I know that this is one of Moore’s most known flicks (hell, it won him an Oscar for Christ’s sakes!) but it’s one that should be watched by everybody I think. There is so much anger, so much hatred, so much violence, and so much fear in our country that it’s almost too hard to handle sometimes. You see in the news all of the time, about how a black man robs a corner market, or how some woman was robbed by some hoodlum in the projects, or just how some act of violence was committed, in someplace, at some time, but we never see anything else other than that. Everybody sees the bad stuff in the world, but are there any other times where good happens in this world? Or do we just have to wait until a 6-year old goes off by shooting, and killing a fellow 6-year old until we have to realize that maybe some things need to change, and need to change now. I have never really given two shits about the whole “gun-control” issue we have had in America for quite some time, but it’s one that I look at in a more intelligent-way now thanks to Mr. Moore and I can assure you that the next time I go out to a shooting range, I’m making sure the gun stays away from everybody else except for me, myself, and I.
Consensus: Michael Moore may go all-over-the-place with his topic at points, but Bowling for Columbine is still one hell of a documentary that is entertaining with it’s constant shifts from humor to drama, powerful facts and statistic it backs up with for its idea, and an unrelenting idea of how America, is a country that is based on fear, violence, and guns. May be a hard pill to swallow, but your eyes will be opened afterwards.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
Why the hell didn’t I watch this before Senior Prom?!?!?
Bill Cunningham is a guy that most of you probably don’t know, but should. The reason being: he has single-handedly, taken the fashion world by storm and made it his own play land of pleasures and desires. The guy’s been taking pictures of New York life from fashion, celebrities, parties, and social-happenings for over 5 decades now, and shows no signs of slowing down. Once again, you don’t know him, but you should and if you want to know him more, then here is his story.
I think I speak for most of the majority of young, adult males out there that don’t really care for fashion, and have never really bothered even glancing at the Fashion section of The New York Times. It’s not that I don’t have an open-mind to the world of fashion, because if my look of pajama bottoms and a alternative rock band T-shirt is any indication of my view, then you would most likely think that I have no sense of style at all. However, even though I may not give a single lick about whether or not I look desirable when I go out, cruising for some poontang at the clubs; I still care about what movies I watch and having an open-mind to whatever the hell comes my way. Being that this is a documentary about a guy that takes pictures for a living, and mostly all of them revolve around fashion, then you can automatically assume that I was not really caring whatsoever. Much like the clothes I actually present myself in.
However, about 10-minutes in, something weird started happening to me and my mood. I started getting happier, started finding myself more interest in this man’s life, and even weirder: I found myself caring about how these people looked in each and every single one of their get-ups. Mind you, I don’t care about fashion, but somehow, some way, this movie made me and also made me care for it’s subject like crazy. In fact, if there is a smart move that these filmmakers decided to make, it was very early on when they found out the subject for this documentary, and decided to hang-out with him for over 10 years. It may sound like one hell of a misery trip, especially if you’ve hung-out with your grand-mom and grand-pop for way too long, but that’s what makes this subject so damn compelling to watch. Here’s the thing about Bill Cunningham, he may take pictures, he may work for the Times, he may care too much about fashion, and he may surround himself around a bunch of artsy-fartsy people that bore me to death with their pretentiousness, but he isn’t what you’d expect.
The guy loves to take pictures because it’s his pleasure, and is more about quenching his thirst for photography, than taking any money he receives for doing them. The guy works for the Times, but like I said before, only works for them to have his fun, each and every single day just running-around town, taking pictures, fueling his desires, and just having a ball while doing so, without ever really collecting any sort of paycheck or rewards-balance. The guy does care about fashion, a little too much in some eyes, but he cares so much because he knows what looks good to him, may not always look good in other’s peoples minds and never, ever critiques people on what they look like, how they look it, and whether or not it is “in” or “out” (something I should probably take notice to). And lastly, the people that he surrounds himself with, may be the people he takes pictures of and occasionally hangs-out with, but to be honest: he doesn’t really have a close and meaningful relationship with them and always stays true to himself.
What separates Bill Cunningham from every other public-eye of the fashion world is that the guy knows what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and knows whats cool, but he keeps it to himself and never pushes his beliefs onto other people that don’t see it his way. He goes about his life just by himself, doing his own thing, and doing it all with a smile and nary an idea of ever slowing down. He’s the exact epitome of everything I would love to be in life, but the difference between me and him is that he was born right when the Great Depression started, and I was born roughly around the same time that grunge was really kicking-off (see the difference?). The guy is roughly around 83 by now, whereas I’m 19 and just sucking up life. The fact that I’m a movie critic and he’s a photographer that excels in fashion, and his story found a way to inspire me to go about life with more of a clearer and happier-view of life and work, is what makes this movie so damn marvelous.
You’re automatically in a good-mood when you’re around Bill, but he never ever seems to be faking all of the sunshine and rainbow-like days. He’s actually a very happy person and never seems to make an apology for the life that he’s lived. Yeah, so what if he doesn’t have any real close friends and yeah, so what if he doesn’t have his own bathroom and is surrounded by a bunch of files from every picture he’s ever taken? At least the guy is happy, satisfied with life, and ready for more that’s to come to him. Bill Cunningham was, and is probably one of the best subjects you could have for a documentary and if anything, that’s what makes this movie work like gangbusters. You love him and his never-changing view on life, and it automatically is thrown right onto you, the viewer. That’s what makes or breaks a documentary: whether or not the person watching can actually care about the subject by the time the movie is over. That aspect of a documentary is what makes this movie so special and definitely makes it the piece of work that’s meant to be seen, regardless of whether or not you care much about the fashion-world, or the fancy-schmanzty people that inhabit it.
I know I’ve been going on a constant-rant about the subject, more than the movie but that’s all there really is to praise when it comes to this movie. The filmmakers aren’t really doing anything flashy, new, or original with their subject of it’s presentation, they’re just letting the story tell itself out. Some aspects of the movie like where Bill Cunningham came from, what his personal life is like, and how he fell in love with the world of fashion are touched, but never attacked fully to have an effect on you, but that didn’t bother me as much because Bill is such a lovable guy to watch. If anything, Bill Cunningham is what makes this movie, and without him, there probably wouldn’t have been a movie. That may seem like a pretty obvious, if dumb statement, but it’s the truth and it’s what makes me want to pay more attention to what people wear, how they look, and if they’re hot or not, when I’m walking down the street. Just makes me smile thinking about it now.
Consensus: Bill Cunningham New York is not all that much about fashion as you may suspect. Yeah, they do talk a lot about what people wear, how it presents them as human-beings, and why we should give a fuck at all, but it’s more about the man, Bill Cunningham, and that’s what makes this movie work. We see him for everything that he is and forever will be, and that’s just a happy, and pleased man that never seems to get bored of his job or life for that matter.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
I’m sure Hogan really does know what’s best.
Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, an aging professional wrestler who continues to wrestle matches in an attempt to cling on to his 1980′s heyday despite his failing health, while also trying to mend his relationship with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and find romance with a stripper (Marisa Tomei).
Some of you may not know this (and if you do, mucho brownie points go out to you), but back in the day, I used to be a hardcore wrestling fan. Yeah, I knew it was fake. Yeah, I knew that the two guys dressed-up in speedos that were beating the shit out of each other didn’t really hate each other outside of the ring. And yeah, I knew it was a bit childish for a kid that was in 8th grade, but you know what? I watched it and loved it all for the same reasons I watch and love movies so much: entertainment-value. That’s what’s so fun about wrestling that you don’t need to have a brain, a PHD, or even a job to enjoy wrestling, you can just watch it and have a good time. Seriously, if you don’t watch a single match of professional wrestling, then you my friend, are totally lying to yourself.
However, as much as I may patronize the other people out there who don’t feel the same as I do when it comes to half-naked men rolling around and beating each other up, I still feel the same about this movie as any other professional wrestling fan in saying that I love this movie, not just because it shows some legitimacy and real-danger to a piece of entertainment that has been the butt of every joke since the 80′s, but because it shows us what wrestlers are when they aren’t in the ring: real people. Maybe that’s nothing new we haven’t already heard from countless other stories of the same-nature, but what I think makes this approach so different and timeless, is the fact that director Darren Aronofsky makes us feel as if we are there, along for this depressing, dark, and tormented ride.
This is probably the most normal piece of material that Aronofsky has ever touched and to be honest, you would not be able to tell from watching this that this was the same guy who made a movie where people get sped-up high for an hour and 40 minutes. There’s nothing flashy that Aronofsky pulls off here with the camera but what he does do with the camera, is actually make us feel as if we are there, in a sort of documentary-style way. The camera literally follows Randy wherever he goes and it’s sort of like a TV news crew just found the guy, decided to put the camera on him, and just let real life roll for the guy. It gives us a very candid, fly-on-the-wall look at this story and makes us feel as if everything we see, hear, feel is as natural as it can get. That’s not just from Aronofsky’s end of the spectrum, that’s from everybody else involved, especially you know who.
In case you couldn’t tell by the “you know who” I was just referencing in that last sentence, I was talking about Mickey Rourke in his perfect-performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. It’s obvious that Randy is based-off of the likes of such wrestling-stars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Ultimate Warrior, and so many other famous-faces of the squared-circle from the 80′s, but don’t let that get to you, because Rourke makes Randy his own piece of originality and thank heavens for that. Seriously, I think Mickey is in every single shot of this movie and in some movies, to some people, that would probably be torture that you would have actually had to pay to see for 2 hours, but instead with this movie and this performance, it’s the total-opposite. You will never want to take your eyes off of Mickey and all of the subtle nuances he pulls-off with his facial-expressions. You can tell that there is a battered and beaten soul underneath all of the tanned skin, blonde hair, and chiseled-up, but aging muscles, and you never forget that you’re watching Randy, even if Mickey totally takes over the whole-movie.
As sad as this character may be, Mickey brings out so much fun, excitement, and joy within this guy that you just can’t help but feel like you too would want to share a beer and play Nintendo with him as well. You can tell that a lot of the scenes here are totally ad-libbed from Mickey and it just gives this movie more of a natural feel, as if Mickey decided to walk into the shoot everyday, do his part, but also have a lot of fun with the rest of the cast as well. As I said before, you are never going to want to take your eyes off of Rourke here because he always has something to show you, always has something to surprise you with, and best of all, always has something to make you fell more and more for this guy, no matter how much he screws-up.
There is so much about this character that just screams, “PREDICTABLE, PREDICTABLE, PREDICTABLE!”, but Mickey is above that and makes this guy feel like he has more of a heart than you could ever expect from a low-life like him. Every chance that Randy gets to make life happy for himself and the others around him, he finds his own way of just screwing it up and rather than being pissed at this guy and losing all hope in him, you’re still pissed at him but feel as if he can change, and feel like he just deserves a break. That’s the work of magic from Rourke, because he is able to give us a character that is so selfish, so idiotic sometimes, and so burnt-out without ever admitting it, but yet, still have us love the guy to death and feel as if we are cheering him on, just as much as his wrestling fans are. It’s one of the best performances I have ever seen and it’s one that Rourke was freakin’ robbed of and without Mickey, this film just would have not succeeded. Yeah, if they went with Nic Cage like they had originally-planned, things would have been a hell of a lot different come Oscar-time.
Another character that is basically Randy “The Ram” but with tits and more naked than he is throughout the whole movie, is Marisa Tomei as Cassidy. Tomei is playing the usual, “hooker with the heart of gold” role, but knowing Tomei and what she can do with any role you throw at her, she changes it up and makes her feel more raw than you’d ever expect from this gal. Cassidy is a lonely, sad, and aging piece of work, just like Randy, but still feels the need to push the ones away from her that still may make a difference in her life. Watching her and Randy interact with one-another, shoot the shit, and pretty much start to connect with each other more than they have with anybody else, is a thing of beauty and I think all of that is mainly because of the chemistry between the two. Evan Rachel Wood is good as Randy’s estranged daughter, Stephanie and even if she may be the weakest-link out of the three, that still doesn’t mean jack shit because she is still so good, providing us with great insight into a character that wanted to be loved and held, just as much as Randy does now.
These three performances are mainly who tie this film together with it’s neat and nice little bow at the end, but I’m telling you, this flick will take you down a dark, sad road you may feel very affected by. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not totally depressing and in-fact, will actually have you laughing a good, couple of times throughout. However, when the film wants to make you feel any type of emotion that has to do with sad, heartfelt, or touching, it hits the spot right away. You can say that’s because of Rourke, you could say that’s because of Tomei, and you could that’s because of Aronofsky, but I say it’s every single piece of this puzzle is what makes it so damn near-perfect, and yes, after 4 years and seeing it just about 5 times, I still cried my eyes-out like a big freakin’ baby and you know what? That’s alright with me, because once Monday Night hits, I’m watching RAW baby!
Consensus: Whether or not you’re a fan of professional wrestling, won’t matter because The Wrestler is about more than just a bunch of guys fake-fighting in a trampoline/ring. It’s a perfectly-acted, somber-look at the life of a broken and depressed old-man that is starting to come to terms with where his life is going, why it’s headed there, and what he can do to make right again. It’s an emotional-trip that still hits me where it hurts all of these years later.
Thank you Tom Hooper! It’s been awhile since we’ve had a musical that’s made us want to slit our wrists.
The film is set against the backdrop of sociopolitical upheaval in 19th century France and revolves mostly around Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a escaped convict who spent time in prison after stealing some bread to feed his sister. He is on-the-run from a vengeful officer named Javert (Russell Crowe), but in the meantime, changes his ways, finds a woman named Fantine (Anne Hathaway), and eventually, goes out to look for her daughter named Cosette.
I’m not going to lie to you, I am not the biggest musical-lover out there but if I have to sit-down, watch one, and at least enjoy myself, chances are, I’m going to enjoy myself. That’s why I was a bit skeptical of this flick, not just because I haven’t ever seen the musical this is based-off of, but because it seemed like the type of musicals I’ve grown to despise. Everybody’s crying, everybody’s moping, and everybody’s so self-indulgent, almost to the point of where it’s just one, long cry-fest that is more likely to have you want to jump-off a bridge, rather than get in the Holiday Cheer. For some people, jumping off of a bridge is getting in the Holiday Cheer, but for me, it isn’t and that’s why I was a bit worried of what I got myself into on Christmas night. Thankfully, I stayed very, very far away from the Ben Franklin bridge and instead, stayed home and cried myself to sleep. Oh, the holidays.
Right off the bat, you should know that if you don’t like musicals where every single-line of dialogue is spoken through song, then this will definitely not be your bag, baby. Because if you hate that about certain musicals and get bum-rushed into seeing this, you are going to be one, pissed-off monkey for the next two-and-a-half hours, and most likely, going to just switch your plans and see Django Unchained. No problem with that whatsoever, but if you’re bag is in-fact a musical where everybody speaks in octaves, then you are going to go fuckin’ bananas over this, especially if you are already a fan of the source-material in the first-place. Tom Hooper was, obviously, and that’s why this is not your typical, run-of-the-mill musical. It’s got style to it, and that’s what so different.
What I mean by the “style” that Hooper apparently uses here, is that instead of going for the grand-scale, epic-feel of this material and showing us how huge this world is, with all of these large, sweeping song-notes that take you from one end of the Earth, to the other, he keeps it small, secluded, and very emotional. We get a lot of close-up shots on these people as they sing and we feel as if we are right there, not only to feel what it is that they are singing and emoting about, but to also have us placed-in this world that is dark, cruel, and very, very *cough* miserable. Hooper does get the look-and-feel of this movie and never for a single-second has us believe that we are watching a play on the big-screen, or even a musical for that matter, it actually feels natural to the story and how it’s trying to make you feel.
Not for a single-second did I think that I was going to cry during this movie, and don’t worry all of my fellow dude readers out there, trust me, I can assure you that I did not cry, but I sure as hell teared-up a whole lot more than I ever expected. Seriously, we all know about the “I Dreamed a Dream” number that Hathaway sings, executes-perfectly, and makes us all pull out the boxes of Kleenex, but there were so many more moments that just hit me where it hurt the most and not only did it surprise that the one time actually happened, but surprised me even more that it continued to occur. Everybody’s singing loud, proud, and right there for us to see clearly, and because of that, you really feel hit with the raw emotions that this story brings-out in it’s meaning, and how you can actually receive it. So many equal moments of pure beauty and sadness just really get to you and once you see the actual people sing them, on-camera, live, and for all of us to hear and see, you’ll know that it’s not because you have a soft-heart for a bunch of rambunctious college kids facing-off against the system, but because the musical-numbers have a feeling of power that you so rarely see in musicals nowadays. You feel as if every musical-number is meant to be apart of this story, is general to those characters and what they’re feeling, and exactly what it means for the rest of the movie.
Actually, that’s probably where my only problem for this flick actually came-from: when they weren’t singing. About 95% of this flick is full-on, singing, but the rest of 5%, obviously isn’t and really seems out-of-place, especially when people seem to hit breaks that don’t feel necessary to it’s story, or it’s believeability. Honestly, had the movie been 100% pure song, dance, and emotional breakdowns, I would have no problem, but whenever these people got the right ideas to just talk out of nowhere, and then continue to sing as if the actual, spoken-words never happened, then it seemed a bit too strange. However, then numbers like “One Day More”, “On My Own”, and “Stars” came-up, and all of my problems went away with the soothing and wondrous voices of this cast, and all that the brought to the table.
I think it should be noted right-away, that this isn’t your typical musical, mainly because what you see and hear on-film, is pretty much what stars gave-out. They don’t lip-sync, they don’t read from some script and have it gelled in with their mouth-movements, and they sure as hell did not take the easy way out and just record it in a studio, but instead, just did it, all in front of the camera, with an ear-piece in that played the background music. In ways, this works for the songs and the performers because you get a natural feel you wouldn’t normally get with any, other musical, but in other ways, it doesn’t because not everybody is exactly on-cue with the music that surrounds them. You understand the lyrics more, now that you actually get to see the live-wire lyrics come-out through the mouths and emotions of these characters and believe in everything they feel, no matter how bitter or joyous it may be. However, it’s more good ways then bad, so if anything, I have to give Hooper more credit for being even-more ballsy with his artistic and subdued direction of a musical that could have gone totally out the window into Annoyance-ville. There isn’t a real place called Annoyance-ville, but if there was, that’s where most musicals would be found.
As for the performers themselves, just about each and every-one here is as perfect as they come with the music they’re supposed to sing, the looks they’re supposed to be giving, and the feelings that go through characters like these. Hugh Jackman finally gets to show the world what he can do as an actor and performer, into one, amazing performance as Jean Valjean. Jackman, as we all know, can sing his heart out to the highest mountains and can definitely act, but the combination of both, in such a raw-feeling and way, is what really makes him stand-out among the rest, even when he takes the back burner a bit later-on in the flick. Jackman nails all of the song-notes he has to hit perfectly, but when it comes to being a guy that we feel a real, utter sympathy and love for, then Jackman succeeds even more and it’s one of his finest performances, mostly because it shows us that when you give him good material that he can work with, he will, and work with it to the best of his ability. The best of his ability is this performance here as Jean Valjean, and thank the singing gods for that!
A lot of people have been trashing the hell out of Russell Crowe as Javert, and how his singing-voice just really does not fit with the character, nor the rest of the flick, but I have to be honest: I sort of feel bad for the guy. Believe it or not, Crowe is not as much of a random-choice for this role as some may have you think otherwise, because he’s actually apart of a rock band called Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt and apparently, does a nice job with the material for them. However, that’s a rock band-like voice that’s used, not an Opera-like, musical voice that’s meant to capture the hearts and souls of millions across the globe. Okay, maybe that was a little too drastic of a point to make, but what I’m mainly getting at is that if you don’t have a powerful enough voice to handle this material and make it work when you play the menacing and evil character, Javert, then you may have a bit of problems coming down the pipelines. Okay, maybe more than “a bit”, but you catch my drift.
Does Crowe deserve the panning that he’s getting for his role in this movie? Yes and no. Yes, because he is the weakest-link out of the whole cast and shows just what happens when you cast a in a role, mostly because he’s a big-name, and no, because he isn’t terrible to watch. Maybe since I have never once heard the actual-play done itself and don’t know how Javert is supposed to sound, but I thought that Crowe did the best that he could with a role that definitely needed some great and powerful moments of song to be handled with grace and care, and that is exactly what Crowe did, except it wasn’t what everybody out there in the world wanted. You’re never going to please everybody with every little thing you do, so don’t worry Russell, you won me over and I’m glad to say that you weren’t all that bad of a choice to begin with. However, they could have seriously gotten somebody else, I hate to say it.
Of course the buzz that has been surrounding the hell out of this film is Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine, and the heartbreaking, show-stopping rendition she gives of “I Dreamed a Dream”, and all of that buzz is deserved because holy hell, did she make me tear-up. Hathaway’s character of Fantine isn’t around for a terribly-long time, but for how long she is alive and well on-screen, you see a real, true, and harrowed woman that does all that she can to make ends meet, but yet, still finds herself taking off her nickers just for a quick buck here and there. It’s heartbreaking and sad to watch and Hathaway makes you believe in this pain and strife that her character goes through, and when she breaks into that song, try your hardest to control-yourself because trust me: you won’t succeed. Hathaway is the one you really remember when you leave the theater and I don’t even know why we have to wait 2 more months for the announcement, just give her the damn Oscar! The gal deserves it, if not just for this perfect-performance, but for all of the other perfect-performances she’s given over the years. Not looking at you, Bride Wars.
Another gal in this cast who gives a whopper of a performance, in terms of acting and singing, is Samantha Barks as Éponine. If you don’t know recognize the name or don’t even know who the hell she is and why she’s even here in a star-studded get-together like this: don’t worry, you don’t need to because she will have you remembering her name, long after the credits roll. Granted, she obviously was going to knock the singing out of the park because she was cast in the musical a couple of years ago, but still, the woman is terrific in all that she does here and the two songs that she’s given to perform, are equally as heartbreaking and powerful as Hathaway brings to the table. She’s got a great look, a great style, and most importantly, a great voice and I wish to see a whole lot more of in the future.
The cast gets even better, though, with Eddie Redmayne as Marius, who surprised the hell out of me because after seeing him in My Week with Marilyn and countless other flicks, I thought he was nothing more than just another pretty face, but here, he shows me he’s more. He can hit the notes he’s supposed to hit, and he hits them with a great deal of charm and wit that makes you like the guy right from the start, even if you think his face is a bit goofy at times. However, that’s just a tiny nit-pick of mine, so don’t mind me and my asshole-like self. Some will probably be bummed to see that there isn’t a real, huge-part for Amanda Seyfried here as the older Cosette, but don’t worry, she still gets to show-off those pipes of hers (not those pipes you pervs) and doesn’t, not for one-second, get out-matched by anybody else in this cast.
Consensus: If you don’t like musicals before, then chances are, you are going to hate the ever-loving piss out of Les Misérables but if you do like musicals, then you are going to love just about every-second of this as each and every song is filled with bright emotion, power, drama, and simplicity, that’s very hard to capture in any type of musical, especially one this much of a grander, epic-scale.
Jamie Foxx stars as the titular character named Django, who is an escaped slave who teams up with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Let’s just get it all out in the open and out of the way for everybody to see and understand before I jump any further into this review: this was my most anticipated flick of the year. Obviously, I’m not much different from others out there in the movie-world, and it’s probably no shock to any of you out there who know that Quentin Tarantino is one, if not my favorite writers/directors working today. This has been a passion-project of his since day 1 and it only seems right that after knocking-out homers left-and-right over the past 20 years, that he finally get to do, what he does best: showing us a little piece of his sick, but original mind.
Everything you see in this flick is exactly what you would expect from a Tarantino flick: crazy characters, wacky dialogue, oodles of violence, ironic use of pop-music, homages to classic flicks that only he and about 5 others actually “get”, and a huge deal of suspense, that almost seems to come out of nowhere. These are the staples of Tarantino’s flicks and as much as they have came-out to be nothing short of expected by now, that still is in no way, shape or form an insult or negative about Tarantino and this movie, because it’s still freakin’ awesome and probably the most original flick I’ve seen all year.
The topic of racism is what really stands in the front of the line with this movie and even though the flick basically takes place during 1858, in the South where slavery runs high and mighty amongst rich, white men, the topic is never used to be thoughtful, or even used as a metaphor for the world we are in now. It’s basically used as another tool for Tarantino to show loads and loads of gruesome/graphic violence and actually give it meaning, rather than throw it at the screen and hoping that it will make sense in the grander scheme of things. Nope, Tarantino’s not all about that and anybody who complained about Inglorious Basterds not being the action-packed, gore-ride they were expecting from QT, then he will definitely shut you up with this one because every piece of violence here, is bloody, gory, and ever so stylized, as we can always expect from Tarantino. Sometimes it’s almost too vicious to watch but hey, that’s not a bad thing considering this is coming from a movie who’s director had 15-minutes of a movie dedicated to a chick hacking-up people, all-over-the-place, with a samurai sword, of all weapons to choose.
The violence in this movie definitely stands-out among the rest of what Tarantino uses here, but the script is even better and is classic-Tarantino, at it’s finest. As usual, we get a lot of the witty, catchy-banter between characters that seems almost too energetic to be true, but Tarantino really works himself hard as a writer, especially with this movie, because he actually goes somewhere we never really expected him to in the first-place: comedy. Yeah, it may seem like a bit of a head scratcher that I would talk about how much comedy Tarantino uses and how it surprised the hell out of me because with the flicks that he’s done over the years, it would seem like he’s been doing comedy forever. To be honest, Tarantino has always had a knack for incorporating a great-deal of humor into his scripts, but not as obvious and not as important as it is used here. There are so many scenes here that just had me laughing, not just because Tarantino is doing something that only I, as a movie-geek, actually get, but more or less because he is actually trying to make me laugh and it worked so, so very well.
However, as much as he may put the emphasis on comedy this time-around, Tarantino still never forgets to switch things up and make it more dark and serious, and the tonal-changes are swift, unnoticeable, and always deserved. You know once Tarantino gets into his “serious mode”, then all of the violence and, in a way, more comedy actually comes about since this is the type of material that Tarantino strives for and always seems to have a blast with. Certain scenes would really catch me off-guard because here I would be expecting it to be a scene where a couple of people are sittin’ around, shootin’ the shit, and basically being a bunch of goof balls, but then would all of a sudden change into this very dark and tense scene, where all hell is about to break-loose and anybody you actually care about in this movie, could be gone as quick as you can say the word, “dead”. Seriously, just that snap of a finger, and all of a sudden a scene does a total 180 where we don’t even know what to expect. That sure unpredictability is exactly what I come to expect from Tarantino and it’s put to good-use here, so many damn times that I was literally sweating with tension at-times. The idea of not knowing where a film is going to land next, is always my favorite-aspect of a movie and here, it’s only better because it’s Tarantino and this guy always seems to have a blast with just fucking around with the audience, their minds, and their moods. That damn Tarantino! He’s always so snarky.
Even if Tarantino seems to be having a ball with this movie, he’s not having the most fun. Actually, that utter sense of joy and pleasure goes right to the ensemble cast, who are all amazing, well-picked, and having the time of their lives just doing what they do best: act their asses off. When I first heard about Jamie Foxx’s casting as Django, I thought it was a tad unoriginal, and just another-way for Foxx to go around, acting all cool and jive, while wearing a cowboy hat. You know, in an ironic-way. I wasn’t really-looking forward to seeing him play this role, but you know what? Foxx kicks-ass in it and it’s a huge wonder as to why I ever doubted the dude in the first-place. Foxx isn’t as front-and-center with this story as you may think, but whenever he does get the time to shine and do his own thing, he owns it, and doesn’t even have to say anything. Sometimes the emotions on his face tell it all and as easy it is to make us feel something for a slave that wants to be free and get his wife back, it’s even easier to make us feel something for a character that we know can fight his own battles and not ask for sympathy. Django, in terms of the actual-character, is the perfect, Spaghetti Western cowboy, because he’s soft-spoken, cool, but always has something witty to say on his mind. And Foxx owns that role to a T.
In the past 3 years, ever since Basterds hit the theaters and made Christoph Waltz a bona-fide star, it seems like Hollywood has never been able to capitalize on the guy’s real talents as a serious and dramatic actor. However, Tarantino knows how to use the guy best and shows that with every-line of dialogue that comes out of this man’s mouth. Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz, the nicer-version of Hans Landa, but still is just as sadistic and smart. What makes Schultz such a great character is that the guy is always one-step ahead of everybody else around him. He always knows to act in every situation, he always knows the right things to say, he always knows how to keep his cool, when shit starts to get heavy, but the most-important factor of his character out of all, is that he always knows how to kill anybody that stands in his way. He’s a violent bastard that seems like the type of guy you want to be bounty hunters with, but as time goes on and he starts to have heavier obstacles thrown in his way, Schultz starts to fold under pressure and show how sometimes, Django is better-suited for certain situations. It’s a great dynamic the two characters have, and it’s heightened even more, mainly because of the pitch-perfect chemistry between the two that always seems to feature the best lines in the whole movie.
I was mainly looking forward to this movie for many, many reasons, but I think the most, out of all, surprisingly, was the fact that this was Leonardo DiCaprio’s first, main-role as a villain in lord only knows how long, here as Calvin Candie. I’ve always been a huge fan of Leo and all that he’s been able to do in the past decade or so, but even I will admit, his act seemed to get a little stiff by the 10th time he played a confused, and troubled victim of something bad being played against him. It was the same-old routine in almost every movie he seemed to sign-up for and even though the guy did awesome with that routine, it started to become glaringly old, and a role as a campy, over-the-top slave owner, in a QT film, sounded like the perfect-way to spice things up in the dude’s career. And damn, was I ever so happy that I was right about that sweet, soothing sound.
DiCaprio is, well, how should I put it? Perfect in a role like this. Calvin Candie is cunning, funny, campy, and very, very sly in his way of handling himself through every situation he’s put into but you can always tell that there’s something darker lying beneath the surface and the way DiCaprio handles all of that, is probably the best-acting he’s done in awhile. DiCaprio doesn’t just explode with anger, rage, and energy whenever the camera’s on him. No, he just lets it sit there, watching him, letting us know his character, all that he is, all that he does, and all that he can be, if he has to turn the other-cheek and be an evil asshole like we all expect him to be. Eventually, Candie does turn into that evil asshole we expected to see from him right-away, but DiCaprio is so good and so masterful at portraying it, that you really cannot take your eyes off of him. No matter how hard anybody else around him actually tries, DiCaprio is the one that steals the spotlight in every scene he has, and it’s just perfect to watch, especially coming from a guy who’s been wanting a role like this for Leo, for the longest-time. When he loses his shit, he loses it in the most-hardcore way of all and demands your attention, rather than simply asking for it, in the kind-way, Candie likes to fool people with. I really don’t think I can hit the head on the nail as much as I have already, but I’m just going to leave my whole two, orgasm paragraphs on Leo by saying this: that motherfucker deserves the Oscar this year. I’m done, I’ve said it, and yet, I still feel like I haven’t said enough! Aaaaahhhh! Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect. End. Of. Story.
Now that that is over with, let me move onto everybody else that deserves a bit of a shine from the spotlight as well. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be another-one in this cast that’s having a ball as the head house slave Stephen, a total Uncle Tom from head-to-toe in terms of appearance, and mental-state also. From the first-shot of the guy, Samuel L. is almost unrecognizable as Stephen, but as time goes on, you get it in your head that it is Samuel L., doing his funny-as-hell, loud yelling and screaming that we always expect from the guy and it’s just so great to watch, especially since it seems like Samuel L. in his comfort-zone. I don’t know if the guy ever left to begin-with, but watching him just have a blast with a role and take over the screen like he does, is always a joy to watch in my book.
Kerry Washington was a bit of a disappointment to watch as Django’s baby girl, Broomhilda Von Shaft (trust me, see the movie and you’ll understand), not just because she isn’t featured in the movie a lot, but mainly because she doesn’t have as much of a screen-presence as everybody else in this flick seems to have. And that’s especially weird to have coming out of my fingertips, considering this is a QT movie and the guy always has kick-ass, female characters to show off. Don’t get me wrong, Washington is still good with her role but doesn’t really get much to do other than cry, yell, and looked terrified the whole-time. There’s so many more faces and stars in this cast that are worth mentioning and bringing to your attention but seriously, just go see the movie for yourself and realize that Tarantino is not only perfect when it comes to writing and directing, but also casting. The guy’s just got it all and all of these rumors of a possible, early-retirement has me scared shitless. Oh well, let’s just hope he keeps on churning out movies until he can’t no mo.
Consensus: Some trimming of the fat needed to be done here and there with Django Unchained, but for a movie that is 2 hours and 40 minutes and is never, for a second, ever boring or uninteresting, I have to say that’s pretty damn a-okay with me, especially if it’s a Tarantino movie, where fun, violence, comedy, cheekiness, homages, and pop-culture references all come together, in one beautiful, original blender of ideas.
Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy it and enjoy the presents you may or may not get from Santa!
Osama’s dead! Now it’s time for Hollywood to take advantage!
The film is a chronicle of the decade-long hunt for the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following the September 11 attacks, and his ultimate-death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011.
Unless you have been living under a cave for the past years (sort of like Osama himself), then you’ll probably already know how this story ends. People get on the look-out for Osama, find some tip-offs, locate his living quarters, send a search and destroy team, and basically, destroy him and everybody else that was practically in there.
After a decade of anger, frustration, sadness, paranoia, and a great deal of questions left unanswered, we, as a country, finally got what we wanted ever since those fateful hours of 9/11: we killed the son-of-a-bitch that was to be blamed for all of it. If you like to look at humanity in the eyes that every person made in God’s eyes are equal and judged the same, but if you look at it from another pair of eyes, you’ll start to realize that this was a piece of shit that deserved to die, deserved to be stuck in-hiding half of his life, and better yet, deserved to be killed the way he was. In my opinions, no matter how brutal or vicious, I feel like the guy got-off a bit easy with a couple of shots to the dome (apparently) and no torture whatsoever, when this is also the same guy that killed over 3,000 innocent people in just one day. Yeah, in case you couldn’t tell by now, I’m rooting for America on this one and I usually don’t get all this “hurrah! hurrah!”, over being a patriot of my country, but there’s just something about the idea of finding the person that was responsible for so many deaths and broken hearts in one day, killing him, and showing him, as well as his followers, what the ‘eff is up with the good, olde U.S. of A. I hate to sound all lame-ass and cliche, but damn, was I proud to be an American after seeing this movie.
This also really surprised the hell out of me as well, mainly because I wasn’t expecting feelings like this to pop-up, after expecting this to be Kathryn Bigelow’s big, follow-up to The Hurt Locker, a war movie in which, it seemed like the theme was very much against the war, rather than creating a love-letter to those who fight for our safety and freedom, day-in and day-out. It’s not like Bigelow went full-throttle at the army’s throats and showed them how much of dirty and despicable bastards they can truly-be, but instead, showed them more as a bunch of people that have problems, just like you or me. It was a nice movie, a nice war movie, and a very nice movie with a smart message to-boot, but that’s not the film I’m reviewing here.
The movie I am reviewing instead is this one, Zero Dark Thirty. Up until a couple of days ago where I heard this movie has been destroying film festival award shows, I wasn’t really all that amped-up to see this flick. Yeah, we all know the story about Bin Laden, we all know the cook gets shot, and yes, we all know that people did a lot to figure-out just where, how, and when this guy hid for so long. It was an obvious story that just seemed like it was going to be the more modern, war-version take on a “based on factual events” story like Argo. However, slowly but surely, this movie really started to creep-up and find it’s way into my mind and have me very, very excited to see what was going to go down and after awhile, I got to thinking: I didn’t really know all that much about the whole Bin Laden-killing as it was.
Yeah, I knew how it began and how it ended, which is pretty much enough for some people, but being the type of guy that likes reasons, explanations, and understandings to most of the stories that I find-out to actually be true, I knew there was more than meets-the-eyes and that is exactly what you can expect from this movie. Right from the start, you know you are in for a thrill-ride that is full of suspense, espionage, exposition, clues, hints, interrogations, arguments, conversations, torture, and best of all, action. This movie basically has it all and even though the first 20 minutes seems to go a bit over-the-top with the whole “torture” idea, it soon builds into something that doesn’t need to have things exploding or people being shot to keep you interested and riveted; it just uses conversations, and wonderful conversations at-that.
Seeing how this whole investigation got from Point A, to Point B, is pretty damn interesting, but what’s even more interesting is how much feels like it’s on the line in this flick. When these characters are out searching for Bin Laden, where’s he hiding, and who the hell helped him with terrorist attacks, we feel as if we are there searching with them as well, with just enough terror and suspense as you could imagine. I knew how this was going to turn-out and if you are the biggest-idiot on the face of the Earth and don’t know by now, well then, you do too. It’s a real-life investigation that just so happened to turn-out successful but getting to that point where everybody is happy, jolly, and feeling victorious, is a real, fucking ride that will take you all-over-the-place in terms of emotions and thoughts. Actually, maybe saying it will fuck with your mind is the wrong-impression to give you, but if you like a thriller where you have no idea what’s going to happen next and like to have your palms sweaty for about 95% of the actual-movie, then this is the type of thriller for you that will stick with you just as much as it did to me.
And as for the rest of that 5%, well, I sort of left that out, mostly because it seems like more of this flick is about getting the facts straight and telling it like it is, which was all fine and dandy with me for the most part, especially because all of it seemed to be pretty legitimate. As with most of these movies that take on an actual, real-life investigation that had to deal with the U.S. government, there’s always a lot of speculation as to what is real, what is dramatized, and what is fake. For the most-part, after all of the controversies this flick has seem to be dealing with as of-late, I can easily state that most of what you will see and hear here, is in-fact told in the way it went-down. Of course not every scene was filled with as much witty-lines and moments of humor that this movie’s scripts throws in there to great-effect, but the ideas, the hints, the clues, the thoughts, and the actions, all seem to be very reasonable and I never really found myself scratching my head as to how the hell somebody could pull something-off like this, no matter how much leverage she may have had. However, it’s less of a history-lesson and more of a thriller that shows you what went-down, how it went-down, and what exactly was going through the minds of the people behind all of the actions. Some good, some bad, some are just not worth giving a fuck about but at the end of the day, Osama was killed and everybody was happy and joyful together. Yippie-Kay-Yay!
Featuring a cast that doesn’t really have any real, blockbuster names to attract an audience to a flick that already seems like it may have a bit of a struggle with making moolah around this time of the year, definitely seems like a risk that Bigelow is willing to take, and a risk I want to watch her take, more and more now, especially after what I saw what she could do with an amazing cast like this. After having what is essentially the greatest year of her freakin’ life so-far (other than that one, beautiful summer where she went to camp and become a woman for the first-time, I don’t know, just guessing that it’s what all girls have memories of), Chastain builds on top of that with a stellar-performance that is probably the best she has given so far, mainly because her character goes through so many changes throughout the whole flick, but yet, they all feel real.
When we first see Chastain as Maya, we see her as soft-spoken, scared, and a bit of wimpy-like girl that can’t handle the sight of so much blood and torture that she sees within the first 20 minutes, but after awhile, she gets used to it and realizes that maybe, just maybe, she, as well as the rest of the CIA, needs to get their shit together and find this summbitch who caused all of this trouble in the first-place. Chastain is strong-as-hell in this role and you can totally tell that as time continues to go-on for her and for this mission, that the look on her face and her eyes, begin to change and get more and more disrupted by the anger and frustration that sort of domes come with the job of being a very-skilled member of the CIA and handling a mission like locating, and taking-out a top-terrorist. Every look she gives another character in this movie feels deserved and she is such a strong female-character that you are able to stand-by, trust, and feel like she is literally a nice human-being that only wants what’s right for her, her own well-being, and her own country that she fights for day on a daily-basis. No surprise whatsoever that this gal is getting so much damn Oscar buzz for this and if she does win (which she just might), I will have no objection or angry-tirade whatsoever. Hell, after all that she did last year, the woman deserves it. But please, somebody just give her my number!
Her co-star from this year’s earlier-release, Lawless, Jason Clarke has the next best role as another member of the CIA, but yet, has a way different job than her. See, Clarke’s character is a guy that has to deal with the torturing and question of their Iranian prisoners and as hard as it may be to watch some of the actual torture that does go-down in the flick (mainly within the first 20 minutes, just to let you know how crazy, wild and disturbing this movie is going to be), it’s even harder to watch a character like this have to suffer from doing something that literally makes him a miserable human-being. Clarke is a guy I never really payed attention-to in the past, mainly because I never thought he really needed to shine in the spotlight, he’s just always been there, but here, every chance the guy gets, he absolutely nails it in showing us how a character that does something so vicious and violent for a living, can actually still stay sane and normal in the outside world around him. If it wasn’t for all of the buzz that has already been surrounding every-other aspect of this damn movie, then I would definitely have to say that Clarke would be up for an Oscar nom., but as for right now, I think I may just have to wait and keep my, Minnesota Fats-like fingers crossed.
Even though Clarke and Chastain may be the real stands-out of the flick, you know, the ones you really remember when all is said and done, they sure as hell aren’t the only ones that give solid performances worth-mentioning. Mark Strong shows up in a couple of scenes, and absolutely hits the high-rising emotions in this flick, and hits them hard, especially with an introduction-scene that is one of the best he has ever done in his entire career. Trust me, just ask the fellas I saw this movie with. They’ll probably tell you I couldn’t stop quoting his damn scene and with good reason: it’s memorable, important, and best of all, perfect. And no, for all of you people out there wondering: Mark Strong does not play Osama Bin Laden, regardless of what his past-decisions for characters may have you think otherwise. Kyle Chandler seems to be having a lot of fun playing, once again, another member of the CIA that seems to always have the right, witty answers to every solution, but yet, still can’t keep an eye on his own shit and even get the chance to cover his own-ass. Chandler’s been doing some real splendid work as of late, and I think this flick is only going to prove that point a whole lot more. James Gandolfini also shows-up in a scene or two as the main, higher-up of the CIA that always has to give final-word to the president and even though it’s not a glamorous-role for the guy, it’s not one that shows how much of a fat-slob he has become, either. He’s just a normal dude, with a very demanding job.
However, these three are the only three I could really think-of off the top of my head and say exactly why I liked them so much here, because everybody else, I kid you not, is as great as they should be. Every tiny, little-role that Bigelow needs filled-up, she fills it up with a great actor/actress that gives their all and might into scene that sometimes doesn’t mean a shit in the long-run, but after it’s over, you are still left remembering it because of how well-acted it truly was. The only bad apple out of this whole cast that really seems like he may have been trying a bit too hard was Chris Pratt as the main, Navy Seal that goes into Bin Laden’s cave. I love Pratt to death and I think he is an absolute riot as Andy Dwyer, but seriously, you can’t go from a character that’s all about being a man-child, who is dumb, big, and slow, in terms of understanding the things around him, and go right to a character that practically slimes his way around and about Bin Laden’s head-quarters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pratt and he’s not even that bad here, but he just seems like he should be off, doing something more comedic that would use him well.
Despite all of this big and bad jibberoo about why the movie works and how, I can only imagine the real question on your mind: what about the whole Bin Laden-shooting? Well, without giving too much away or even letting you know of what fully goes down, I’m just going to state that Bigelow handles it in the most understandable, most respectful, and most perfect way that makes you realize how far everybody has come to this point and in a way, what is to come of us next, not only as a country lead by an army, but as humans living in the country as well. Bigelow handles this last-sequence where all of the Navy Seals find their-ways to Bin Laden as if we are actually there, right next to them, as they make all of the tough shots and calls, and it’s probably the most exciting and suspenseful, piece of 30 minutes at the theaters I have spent in a very, very long-time. And mind you, I am talking about the whole Bin Laden-shooting. Something that I actually have prior knowledge to knowing that it did actually happen!
Yup, it surprised the hell out of me too, but if there is anything that surprised the hell out of me, is how happy and proud I was to be in a country where most humans have the rights to do whatever they want, however they want it, and mainly because we all are humans, no matter what eyes you look through. Now, I’m not saying that it’s right for people to do anything they want, whenever they want because they’re humans (last Frdiay’s shootings come to mind), but for people that can choose between right-and-wrong, and are given a set of ideas as to what is right for the world and everybody else living in it, it’s a beautiful country we live in and it’s one that makes me happy, just knowing that I am being protected by people who are days and days away from me, but yet, still continue to keep me safe at-night, while I sit here, half-naked, drink a Mountain Dew, and talk about a movie that’s all about them. Yes, thank you all for saving my life day-after-day, please don’t stop either, because I really like not having to look over my shoulder every five seconds.
Consensus: Some historical facts and inaccuracies may always be up for discussion here in Zero Dark Thirty, but what cannot be up for discussion is how entertaining, enlightening, smart, provocative, well-acted, and perfectly-performed this flick truly is and I really do see it winning a crap-load of Oscars, come February of 2013.
Finally, 9 hours of my life can finally be put to rest.
As Sauron’s dark army surround the citadel of Minas Tirith and hope wanes for all of Middle-earth, Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin), and Gollum (Andy Serkis) continue their journey towards Mount Doom in order to destroy the Ring of Power.
After two movies that have already racked-up to being over than 3 hours each, it seems almost granted that the final-conclusion of this spectacular trilogy would end with a 3-hour and 21-minute time-limit. That’s right, ALMOST 3-AND-A-HALF HOURS! But what separates this long-ass time-limit from the last two, is the fact that you barely notice it one-bit, despite it being the longest of the three. Just goes to show you that long movies, aren’t always that bad to sit-through.
I think first things first to get this review going would be to give major kudos to director Peter Jackson who, like with the last two, does a magnificent job at showing us this beautiful world of Middle Earth, in all of it’s darkness, weirdness, and overall beauty. The sets, designs, make-up, costumes, art direction, and everything else, just look perfect and with this last movie, you needed that keen-eye for attention to detail that Jackson has to make a movie like this work, and it totally does. Obviously a lot more of this movie is dependent on special-effects and CGI, whereas the last two had it, but not a huge-amount, but it’s not distracting from the real beauty that lies underneath this movie and from what I hear, a lot of this was filmed naturally, which impressed me as hell since it seemed like some of these sets would have taken years to be built, and each movie came-out a year-apart from one another. That’s dedication to detail right there, folks, and it’s no surprise that that same dedication won Jackson almost every art and set-design Oscar that year, and rightfully so.
However, Peter Jackson didn’t just win a bunch of secondary-awards for his work here on this movie, he also won Best Director and that’s not just because of his strong look and detail into this world he obviously loves, but mainly because the guy has the spirit and passion inside of him that makes this flick work, right about from the start. The reason I say “right about from the start”, is because the film obviously has a bit of a problem in the beginning, because it seems like it’s trying to find it’s footing in how it wants to start things-out. We get a couple of awkward cuts to Frodo and Sam being slightly homosexual with one another, to a pretty un-epic shot of Legolas, Aragorn, Gandalf, and Gimli, all slowly riding-down the grassy lands with their horses, but after that, it picks up it’s speed and momentum, and I was willing to forgive Jackson for all of this because it just continues to get better and better.
Once this movie picks up and knows exactly where it wants to go, it’s the freakin’ most epic, most entertaining, and most emotional-ride you will ever take in a movie. The movie cuts between the two stories of Frodo & Sam’s journey to Mount Doom and the defense of Gondor and Minas Tirith, and whereas the weaving in-and-out of stories took a lot of momentum out of the direction the last time-around, it works so perfectly because both stories have a great deal of built-up tension and emotions that run high in about every frame of this flick. Watching Sam and Frodo make their way to destroying the ring will keep you on the edge of your seat as they constantly continue to find hardships getting to their destination, and the Battle of Peleanor Fields is the other story that seems to be the centerpiece of this movie, and had my heart racing just as much as Sam and Frodo’s journey, even though they were both polar-opposites in terms of pacing and development.
In the Two Towers, the Battle at Helm’s Deep was an absolute joy to see play-out on screen because it built-up the intensity, the emotion, the action, and most of all, the fun in having two, opposing sides go head-to-head and watching as they are both equally-matched, and equally-as-smart as the other. It was probably the highlight of that whole movie, even if there was a lot more to cheer-on about, but the battle that takes place here in this flick (the Battle of Peleanor Fields), makes it look like a bunch of kiddies messing around in the playground. Jackson totally ups the ante with his direction by providing so much action, blood, and sometimes, gore to have us really involved, but also adds a great deal of heart and emotion to have us fully-invested enough, to the point of where our hearts are racing every time it seems like somebody is going to be the nest one to bite the dust. Seriously, I’ve seen this movie about 2 or 3 times before, but I was still gripping my sheets, wondering who was going to be next and it sent me shivers up my spine whenever I heard a loud, scary enemy come-through again and provide another threat to all of our heroes and favorite characters. Seriously, if you don’t feel any type of emotional-connection to these characters as they all become one-step closer to death in a span of 1 hour, then you my friend, are just as soulless and as dark as the enemies they are facing. Crappy metaphor, I know, but you get the point.
However, that key-battle in the center of this movie is only one of the main reasons why this movie works as well as it does and why Jackson got the Oscar in the first-place. There is so much going on-here that it would definitely be very easy to see how somebody would feel as if it’s too much at one-time, but Jackson evens it all-out so nicely so that we see everything that happens, why it happens, and gives us a bit of time to understand it all. Not many movies that have a certain-type of audience feel the need to do that because they feel as if it’s strictly for the fanboys to understand, and everybody else to ‘eff off, but not Jackson. No, he’s a different type of lad and I’m happy that he decided to take his time with this movie and lay everything-out on the ground for us all to get as soon as the story started to pick-up because when it gets going, it never stops and that’s when you find yourself having the best time of your life with this movie.
Another key-element to this movie that Jackson wisely allows, is that every character that we have gotten to know or see over the past 2 films, finally all get their own chance to shine, rather than having it be the Frodo and Gandalf show 24/7, which also means, all of the performances are fully-realized and some of the best of the whole trilogy. Viggo Mortensen kicks ass once again as Aragorn, and shows that he is not one prince to be messed-with, especially when it comes to somebody coming in between him, his buddies, and most of all, his gal that he is so far-away from. I may make Aragorn sound like a bit of a pussy with that description, but trust me, he’s not in the least-bit. Ian McKellen is awesome as Gandalf and shows how wise and warm he is, not only as a ruler, but as a character, as well; Orlando Bloom is good as Legolas, and shows us why the guy kicks just as much as Aragorn does; and John Rhys-Davies doesn’t quite get enough moments to steal the spotlight from everybody else like he did in the 2nd-movie, but he still has a lot of fun here as Gimli. Anybody I didn’t mention, don’t worry, they all did good, especially those little, fuckin’ hobbits.
In the past 2 movies, it seems as if Sam and Frodo are the only ones to really get the attention from Jackson in terms of character-development and actually meaning something in the whole grand scheme of things, but now, Jackson allows the other two as well to show what they’re made of. Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan are each great as Pippin and Merry, respectively, and show that they aren’t just about of immature jokers, they can actually put-up and shut-up when they need to and actually help move this story along, even if they are without their tree buddies that I missed very, very deeply. These two get a lot to do, but Frodo and Sam aren’t left-out of the equation, either, and their story is by-far the one I really connected to since it’s all about the limits of friendship and how far one will go to really help the other one out and hopefully, save their lives in the process. Elijah Wood has been a bit tweedy as Frodo in the past 2 movies, but really excels here and gives Frodo a bit of a mean-streak that actually has you fearful for Same, as well as Gollum. Wood has never been the star actor of our generation, but here, he shows us that he can act no matter how much he gives-off that softy-smile that really rang the wrong bells for me. Seriously, I thought the revelation at the end was going to be Frodo was in-love with Sam after all of this time, I swear it.
As good as Elijah Wood may be, Sean Astin is the one who really steals this show as Samewise Gamgee, and you know what? It’s about damn time this guy finally got his rocks off in these movies, because not only is Samwise as strong of a character as anybody else in this whole damn series, but Astin is also a great-actor too, and one that I feel like never really gets to show himself for all that he is because people still see him as Rudy. Samewise is such an awesome character to watch on-screen not just because he lays down the law for Frodo and tells him all of the obvious stuff about the ring, Gollum, and the evils that come-from both of them, but because you feel like this guy would do anything, I do repeat, ANYTHING, to save his friend’s lives, no matter how hard or impossible it seemed to be. Astin plays this up so perfectly and to watch him come-alive as an actor through Same, is a freakin’ revelation since this guy rarely ever gets the chance to and it’s sort of a shame that this guy never got an Oscar nomination for his work here because he’s understated, believable, strong-willed, and most of all, the emotional anchor that holds this movie down from being a “Nerd’s Only” love-fest.
If there is any reason why this movie deserves the high-rating I’m giving it, it’s mainly because it’s one of those rare-occasions where I’m reminded of why I love watching epic movies such as this: they take me out of the real-world I’m in, and place me into another no matter how unbelievable or fantasy-like it actually may be. After those first, 15-minutes that Jackson seems to struggle with are over, things only go uphill from there and show you exactly why you invested half-of-your-day to see the first 2 movies in the first-place. You love the characters, you love the mythology, you love the setting, you love the battles, and most importantly, you just love what Jackson does with this movie and how he never seems to disappoint any loyal fan of the original source material, or regular, moviegoer that just wants to be transported into a different world. He delivers on both ends of the spectrum and trust me, by the end of this movie, if you loved the first two, you will most likely shed a tear once you see your beloved trilogy come to a sweeping, but beautiful ending that couldn’t have been better, even if Jackson put a freakin’ cherry on top of it. Go out there and see The Hobbit this weekend, people! Lord knows I will be, regardless of if I want to or not. Trust me, I do.
Consensus: Despite being the longest out of the three (clocking in at 3 hours and 12 minutes, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King still delivers on every end of the spectrum that fans, and moviegoers alike expect from these movies: beautiful sets and designs, fully-realized characters, dazzling action, an emotional story from start-to-finish, and especially with this one, a beautiful send-off to a trilogy we will most likely never, ever forget about, no matter how many prequels Hollywood and Peter Jackson want to churn out of their money-making asses.
Sorry children of mine, no Army Duty for you.
When somebody goes off to war, you know that they won’t be safe, but that unsafe-element of thinking is usually when they are on the battlefield, where danger lurks at every second. However, little do you know, that most of the danger usually takes place around the actual barracks, hide-outs, safe-zones, and camps themselves, mainly because of one terrible thing, and one thing only: rape.
Shit, I seriously have no clue where to start this review. I’m going to come right out and say it but I have no experience whatsoever in terms of what this film is really talking about. I’ve never enlisted into the army, I’ve never been raped, I’ve never been a woman, I’ve never really been in close contact with somebody that has been raped, and most of all, I have not known a person that has raped another. So, basically, this whole review to some may seem like it’s just coming from the finger-tips of a guy who has never once lived a day in any of the subjects that they are talking about shoes’ and has no idea what the hell he’s talking about. In a way, you may be correct, but in other way, I think you are dead, dead wrong, for one reason, and one reason only: I have the only experience needed, I’m human.
See, being human is one element that makes us what we are. Deciding what is right and what is wrong and how we can make not only ourselves better, but the others around us as well. You can live life, go on and on and on with the motions, do nothing for nobody, and end your life right then and there, but going out there, making a difference in someone’s life, showing them that you care, showing them that you listen, showing them that you know, and basically, just showing them that they matter. That’s what life is all about and it doesn’t matter if you have ever been in-combat, have ever killed somebody, have ever been surrounded by 99% dudes and then seeing one type-of female out of the blue, and it sure as hell doesn’t even matter if you have never, ever even been a victim or know somebody that has been a victim of rape. It all comes down to knowing what’s right, what’s wrong, and what we can do, as human-beings, to make our world a better, safer place for everyone in it.
I know all of this philosophical, “life and love rules” mumbo-jumbo may have a bunch of you surprised as hell to see what it is that I’m pulling here, but seriously, this movie made me feel something that I haven’t felt in the longest time when I watched a movie: anger. Seriously, every 4-minutes of this film that went-by, I just felt my hands gripping-up, my blood start to boil, my brows start to raise, and my mouth let out a huge, “WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?”, and it was all meant to happen because of what director Kirby Dick puts on-display here.
Before I go any further, I have absolutely, positively no problems with the US Military. Despite all of the piss-stains that come-out in this review and the documentary itself that may make it seem otherwise, the US Military is still one of the finest in the whole, wide world. Over the years, I’ve come to know people that have been in-service, or are going to be and I have no problems with that whatsoever. Never for me, but hey, if it’s for another person, good for them and you know what? I actually applaud you, because those are some of the bravest steps in life to take. Going to fight for your country, never knowing when you’ll make it back, how you will, or even if you will. For me, that’s some traumatizing shit but to the men and women of this country, who don’t give a diddly-squat about it, can go-out there, serve, and fight for our country, then more love and respect towards you. Seriously, it’s something I will applaud you for until the day I die.
However, this idea of a person going off to war, fighting for our country, doing what is right, and coming home raped more than once is something that really makes me want to punch someone, something, or just whoever the hell is responsible for all of this. You have to look at it like this, we live in a society where if you are raped, commit a rape, or hear of a rape; you call the cops, they settle the whole thing, get down to the nitty-gritty of it all, find out who’s responsible, go to the nearest-ends of the Earth to find that person, and eventually, have justice be served. That’s the way our country roles, that’s the way our society roles, that’s way our world roles, and hell, that’s how our human-consciences role. That’s why it’s so unbelievable to me that still, after years and years and years of women fighting in the service, we still have to deal with shit like rape.
But it’s not just dealing with the rape itself, it’s the idea that we still have to talk about it, still have to try and fight for it to end, and worst of all, actually have to tell these dim-witted a-holes that, “Rape is bad. Bring a buddy. Ask her when she’s sober…”. Seriously, shit like this is still talked about, let alone actually argued between two opposing-sides. Telling people that rape is not allowed, not only in the Army, but in the world should seem like a no-brainer in and of itself, but somehow, women (and sometimes men) still find themselves raped after serving our country.
The rape-act itself is god-awful, but what’s even worse, what’s even more appalling, and what’s even more distasteful is the fact that these power-hungry dick-heads behind the desks that have the highest-order in all of the Army, sit-back, hear the cases, ignore it, and basically act as if nothing had ever happened. Rape is bad, but acting like it never happened in the first-place, pushing it to the side so some people don’t get in trouble, and making sure that that person who got raped and reported it, doesn’t get any help whatsoever, whether it be medical, physical, or mental, is just downright disgusting. These people, go out there, to serve our country for more or less than 10 years and the one thing they can come back to and be promised of is that they’ll have their V-Card stolen from some horny Army Sergeant with a boner! You gotta be kidding me and what makes it even worse, is that there are over, and this is just a guesstimated number, over 20,000 assaults, and not even half of them, have had the assailants jailed, punished, or disciplined in any which way. It’s almost as if nothing had happened in the first-place; it’s almost like this terrible act of violence is allowed because you have a couple of medals on your arms; and it’s almost like it doesn’t matter, mainly because you’re a dude, that has a dick, that serves in the army, and has a high-chance of showing all of the corrupt bastards of the army for what they really are. Once again, I will say it, I have no problem with the men and women that serve this country, but with something like this running around rampantly, you can’t help but to point some fingers and get a little heated.
But, if none of this talking/ranting/raving will do anything, than what the hell will? Well, going out-there, realizing what’s right, what’s wrong, and making the lives for the people around you is one-way to start. The subjects that Dick follows here, I highly doubt I will ever meet in my life, or hell, even know that I’m meeting, if I walk into them on the street, but that’s not the point. These subjects, could literally be you, me, our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sister, our aunts, our uncles, anybody. Rape can happen to anybody, at any second and it can especially happen if they’re serving in the army. Hopefully, just hopefully people will realize we need to put a stop to all of this hate, pain, anger, and turmoil, and just get back to doing things the way we used to, but what the hell was that way in the first-place? It’s the 21st Century and problems such as rape are still prevalent in the army. When it will it stop? Who’s going to stop it? When? Where? How? And most importantly, who’s going to get punished for this all? There are so, so, so many questions left unanswered here and rightfully so, because they aren’t, and may never be answered. All we can hope on is that people see what’s in-front of them, know what is right, what is wrong, and continue to make the world a better, safer place for those around us.
Now, despite all of my rambling and raving about the human-psyche and what we all have stored in our minds, let me just tell you that this is probably going to be my favorite, if not, the best documentary of the year and a shoe-in for an Oscar. Highly doubt it matters if the movie wins an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Moon Man, or even a Grammy, because the subject-material is still as current as YouTube’s Video of the Day, and it may never go. That’s why I have to give a lot of love and respect to Dick for having the balls to make this movie, and even more love and respect to the people who actually participated in this, giving their thoughts, opinions, and experiences, no matter how painful they may have been.
I don’t think I ever found myself on the verge of tears, but this is some emotionally-heavy stuff to watch and you really feel for everybody involved, since nobody, absolutely nobody was asking for this to happen, regardless of what those high-ranking officials may say otherwise. To be honest, watching this movie ever again will never be an option for me because I think once, is quite enough and really did a number on me, my mind, and my whole thought-process as of right now since I’m so heated and angry at everything I just spent-on listening to and hearing for the past hour and 37 minutes. This is one of those documentaries that you have to, I repeat, HAVE TO be in the right-mood to watch and be gripped by, because it will really take you down a dark and heavy-road, that you cannot turn-off of.
However, if you do give this one a try and you have the right mood, mindset, and overall, thoughts going-on throughout your head, you will be completely riveted from start-to-finish. By the end, you’ll feel worn-down, tired, upset, angry, dirty, and overall, have a clearer-understanding of what’s going on out there in the world we live in, and the military that protects us. I could go on and on and on about how the military has really screwed the pooch on this one, but I don’t think I need to. I think a movie like this is important and powerful enough to be chosen as further-evidence as to why, and that’s something I haven’t said about a film, let alone, a documentary in the longest, longest-time. See it, and have your eyes opened. But never, ever watch it again.
I may be a noob because I don’t know a Orc from a Uruk-Hai, but as long as we got elves, wizards, dwarves, monster-creatures, and trees all duking it out in one flick, I’m fine with not knowing.
Taking place literally 3 days after where the first one left-off, we follow three stories of our favorite characters and see how they all are separated, but go-out on their own quests as well. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue their journey towards Mordor to destroy the One Ring, meeting and joined by Gollum (choreographed by Andy Serkis), the ring’s former owner. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) come to the war-torn nation of Rohan and are reunited with the resurrected Gandalf (Ian McKellen), before fighting at the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) escape capture, meet Treebeard the Ent, and help to plan an attack on Isengard.
That’s a pretty lengthy-premise, hell, probably the longest one I have ever done, and hell, this is a pretty lengthy-movie. But even though it may clock-in at 2 hours and 59 minutes, just missing that day-changer by a measly minute, you still can’t help but have a great-old time watching all of your favorite fantasy characters, battle it out like nobody’s business. Oh, and let’s not forget the walking trees, too. Can’t forget about them.
Once again, as you could probably expect from the guy, Peter Jackson does a great-job at nailing each and every single, little detail of this setting down to it’s core. Everything just looks perfect the way it is and those swooping shots that seem to take over the film, do nothing else but put you in the mind-set that yes, you are in Middle-Earth and it’s time to get ready for a place that is filled with mystical-beings and happenings, but also a place that’s filled with a lot of darkness and war, as well.
Believe it or not, from a reader’s stand-point, this is the most controversial movie-adaptation of the three because apparently Jackson took some liberties of his own in changing up the story-structure, events, and even the characters as well. Obviously any person who has ever read these books and is expecting the exact, same thing on-screen are going to be a little pissed to see some things shook-up a bit, but I don’t think Jackson could have told this story any other way. What I mean by that, is that since there are three stories going-on at the same time, you sort of have to tell them all just like that, rather than telling one-story, being done with it, and moving onto the next without any transition to other stories. It can be done, but it wouldn’t have worked for this movie and that’s why I’m really glad Jackson kept all of these three stories to continue to go-on at the same time, without a break, or stop, or anything. It’s just got a beautiful flow to it and that’s because Jackson knows the story from head-to-toe and wants to show everybody his love and appreciation for it, even if he has to stick to his movie-rules and piss a couple of people off by doing-so. Hey, you can’t please everybody out there, Pete, but you sure as hell pleased the hell out of me.
I think where this film works so well compared to the first-one is the sort of tone and approach it takes to the story. You can definitely tell that this story is starting to get more and more tense as it develops and you can tell that there’s more of a drastic-feeling to every scene, where you don’t quite know what’s going to happen next, who you’re going to have to say bye to, and just how far the story will progress in-time. You have a bigger, emotional-connection to everybody here and it’s not just about who’s going to get killed-off next, it’s about who are you going to miss when it’s all said and done. There is definitely a lot that’s worth standing-by and awaiting the next surprise, but it’s not all about surprises, twists, or turns with this story, it’s about the feeling of the world you’re placed into and whether or not you’re going to be able to stay-long and watch as all of your favorite characters risk their lives 24/7.
That’s why the infamous battle at Helm’s Depp is considered one of the best battle-sequences of the past-decade, there’s so much emotion, turmoil, and intensity going on behind it, that you can’t stop feeling like you are involved with it as much as the actual-characters themselves. Anybody that talks about this movie, always talks about this huge-spectacle of a battle and as they should, because it is absolutely awesome to be entertained by, and absolutely gripping to watch. You never know what’s going to happen next with this scene and you feel like anything could happen, and usually does actually happen. It’s filmed-beautifully, as well as you could expect, and just goes to show you that Jackson had an inspiration for how he wanted this battle to look and feel like and holy damn, if it wasn’t for this whole-sequence, I don’t know how much of this film I would have actually loved.
However, I shouldn’t really talk like the battle at Helm’s Deep is the only thing worth watching here, because it isn’t. Each and every other story that they throw at us is as epic, dramatic, and gripping as the one that comes before it, the only problem is that when it gets in the way of the battle-sequence, it slows things down a bit. I liked the story of Sam and Frodo continuing their quest with the Ring, and the two hobbits with the walking trees, but whenever they showed-up, it was usually to break-up the action that was happening during the battle and it felt a bit cheap, as it just took away from all of the excitement and intensity that we were feeling beforehand. I mean, yeah, these stories needed to be told and needed to be spliced-in with the main-one, but still, you can’t help but feel like they just dedicated a good solid 45 minutes to the battle at Helm’s Deep, and be done with it, rather than just jumping back-and-forth and breaking some of the fun.
That same person who you heard talking about this movie and mentioning the battle at Helm’s Deep, would also probably mention that this is the flick that first introduced the CG-driven powerhouse of Gollum, played by Andy Serkis. See, what most people at the time didn’t know was that Serkis donned the blue-suit for this role and encapsulated all of his movements, flow, and feelings all into this character to give him a realistic-look and feel. Instead, everybody else thought that it was just another case of the computers taking over the magic of Hollywood, and just using a bunch of special-effects that may look beautiful, but are still special-effects none the less. That’s what’s so amazing about Serkis as Gollum here, is that he just brings all of this feeling to a character and makes it seem very unbelievable how he was able to pull it all off so well. I also can’t forget to mention that Gollum looks as real as you’re going to get and it’s a work of art to watch and just gaze at. Yeah, technology is better now, but at the time, it was beyond art. It was a freakin’ masterpiece.
Ian McKellen was the anchor of the first movie, but is rarely here as Gandolf, even though he still kicks as much ass here in this movie, as we expected from him in that movie. Instead, that anchor is given-away to Viggo Mortensen who absolutely nails it as Aragorn. Viggo just has this look and feel to him that has you wonder what he’s going to do next, but yet, at the same time, still has you feel like you’re in safe-hands whenever he’s around. That’s why it was pretty freakin’ awesome to see him take over ship here a lot of times and just let everybody know that he’s the boss, he’s the man you don’t want to mess with, and most of all, he’s the man that’s going to slay all of these weird-looking, freaky creatures. Just goes to show you that Viggo really can scare anybody, whether he’s playing a Russian-mobster, playing Sigmund Freud, an ex-gangster-turned-family-man. Yeah, that last sentence pretty much puts Viggo Mortensen’s career into a nutshell.
Consensus: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the second-installment that hits, and hits hard with enough emotions, action, and characters running through, that you feel like you have a full grip and feel of this story, what’s happening in it, and what’s to come of it in it’s grand, epic finale. Return of the King, here I come!
Man, I’m glad to be from Philadelphia.
Bradley Cooper stars as a sad sack loser named Pat trying to get back on his feet after suffering a mental breakdown. When he meets a mysterious girl named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) with problems of her own, an unexpected bond begins to form between them.
As many of you out there may know, I’m a proud Philadelphian through and through, and to see and hear about a big-budget, Hollywood rom-com be filmed around my parks was surely something that had me interested. I mean honestly, it’s been awhile since the City of Brotherly Love has had a good movie come from it’s native-land in a long, long time and that’s why I was a bit skeptical of just how well this one would do, despite it’s somewhat generic premise. Then, a miracle started to occur right in front of my eyes, as the reviews started to tricked in and I realized: this movie could be the next Rocky, in terms of representing Philly and making all of those who live there, proud to be apart of a city that deserves all the love and praise (in some ways). Then, lastly, another miracle came my way and made me realize something: I LOVED THIS MOVIE.
Yes, I just used the “L word” and with good reason, because this film is exactly what I wanted in a rom-com/character-drama. Director David O. Russell steps out of the boxing ring, and into the streets of Prospect Park (holla!), which may definitely seem a bit odd at first considering this is a character-drama that focuses on people who have problems and don’t really do much about it except talking, and not just go into the ring and beat the shit out of each other, but in a way, you can almost tell that the guy is as ever comfortable as he has ever been with material like this. See, earlier in the review, I stated that this was a “big-budget, Hollywood rom-com”, but I was wrong. Dead-wrong. Actually, it’s more of a very indie-like, rom-com that down-plays everything that we have come to know and expect from any movie of this unoriginal genre, and thank O. Russell for that because that’s the real charm behind this movie.
Right from the first-shot of this movie, I couldn’t help but be swarmed in by all of the fun, humor, and wittiness of this setting and script and as soon as more and more characters became introduced to the story, I knew that I was only getting started on this wild-ride. Every piece of dialogue between these characters is always fun, always interesting, and always something that feels realistic and believable, especially when you actually consider the characters. The real risk O. Russell takes with this movie and these characters, is that he introduces us to people that aren’t exactly the most likable or lovable people we would want to watch a movie about, let alone spend 2 hours with, but somehow, the script makes you forget all about that and you really see something underneath all of the humor, goofiness, and weirdness of these characters, you actually see a heart to it all.
What I loved so much about this flick is how it takes a look at love, through the eyes of a heart-broken man, that has literally been pistol-whipped by love, and can’t figure out just how to go back to the life he once had and make right with everybody he knew, so instead, he just goes back to his old ways and tries to convince everybody that he is the same dude he was 8 months ago when he was shipped-away to crazy town. However, sooner or later, as predictable as it may sound, this guy eventually has to come to terms with what is true and what is not, and eventually that takes a toll on his life and what he thinks he should do with it. This idea of picking yourself back-up from a broken-heart and broken-life, by doing whatever you can to make yourself better each day-by-day is an idea that really resonated with me, as I can definitely say that there have been many times throughout my life where I’ve realized I can be happy in my life if I just allow myself to be better as each day goes by.
However, as corny and gooey as I may make this sound, this film is definitely not all about that. This love that is eventually carried-out, is not something we are used to seeing in movies and what’s even weirder is what the script brings into the fore-front of this love and what gets in the way of it. To be short, without giving too much away, the film combines crazy people, dancing, and the Philadelphia Eagles all into one movie and shows you that as weird of a combination that may be, you give it some real heart and depth, than anything can freakin’ work. I loved this film for showing me, once again, that making your life better is certainly on you but can also be used by allowing yourself to help others and have others help you. It’s a beautiful message that may seem as conventional as they may come, but this film carries it out in a way that isn’t and makes you re-think about where your life/love-life may be heading, and how you can make everything around you, well, better. I know, I know, I’m corny as can be but seriously, this film will make you feel like there is nothing wrong with you, or the world you surround yourself with.
I also think that most of the feelings I have for this movie mainly come from the “romance” between the two lead characters: Pat and Tiffany. First of all, Pat and Tiffany are not necessarily a romantic-couple, even though they may show signs of it. In their own, strange ways, they are both a bit crazy and off-kilter from the rest of the world, but the feelings they share about the things around them has them connect on a way that makes you believe in them as people that could definitely meet and be friends, but also be together, fall in love, and make themselves, and everyone else around them better as well. The whole movie is pretty strange in the directions it goes towards, and that’s mainly thanks to these two and it’s just great to see a rom-com about a couple that doesn’t necessarily fall in love right on impact, and can’t really show each other the type of love-signs we have come to expect from generic characters in these types of movie. Pat and Tiffany is the perfect, anti-rom-com couple that makes it all the more disappointing that once things do get a bit conventional and soapy by the end, it’s a bit too hard to believe or be satisfied with. However, it’s not to the point of where I felt like the whole movie was ruined for me. Just a tad bit of it was. Just a tad bit, mind you.
Despite that itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, little problem, these characters are still great to watch together, especially considering the cast that’s behind them all. Bradley Cooper probably gives his finest performance yet as Pat, by showing that he can let-loose with his manic-energy that definitely shows he still has that pitch-perfect comedic-timing, but also shows a bit of a darker side to him as well. For Cooper, lately, there hasn’t really been a film that’s showed him off a true, dramatic-force to be reckoned with and it’s more that his comedy-skills have been used a hell of a lot better, and showed-off more than I expected. However, his role as Pat allows him to break free from that mold, give us a character that is a bit off his rocker, isn’t always the nice guy when it comes to certain situations and choices that he makes, but also, always allow us to feel some sort of sympathy for the dude as well. Cooper gives off what could possibly be his closest shot to an Oscar nomination this year, and you know what, I think the guy deserves that at least because he nails this role to a “T” here and it’s just great to see him finally break-out and combine what he does best: comedy and drama.
I was a bit skeptical of Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany, because the character is definitely supposed to be a lot older than Lawrence’s 22-years of age and would seem a bit weird considering that Cooper is 37, but surprise, surprise, Lawrence makes this work like no other. What’s so beautiful about Lawrence here is not only is she able to really have us believe in this gal that could be so weird and cooky, but also have us believe that she is as old and damaged as she is. Tiffany is not the easiest character to really get right from the start as you can tell that she has some problems that may need more fixing than just a simple dance-competition, but Lawrence is so natural with this gal that you can’t help but want to reach your hand out to her, even when Pat doesn’t seem to be. Lawrence is everything you would want her to be in this role and yet, it’s something that we have never seen from her before. She’s vulnerable, but never asking for sympathy; she’s sad, but never mopey; she’s smart, but never condescending; she’s weird, but never to the point of where she’s considered “crazy”; and she’s good-looking, but never to the point of where you wouldn’t believe her is as this older, sadder-woman that comes to terms with the life she lives and where it’s going. Basically, in a nutshell, Lawrence is perfect for this role and if she doesn’t at least get a nomination for her role here, then I’m really going to be ticked off. Seriously, this girl has tons and tons of amount of promise going for her and I’ve already forgotten about House at the End of the Street. Even though, I can’t believe how I remembered that title.
As much as this is Cooper and Lawrence’s show, everybody else on the side still gets their own chances to shine and jeez, am I ever so glad for that, because their just as good too. Thank you so much David O. Russell, for giving us a meaty-role for Robert De Niro that shows us why everybody loved the guy so much in the first-place. De Niro plays Cooper’s OCD-like father that can’t seem to ever miss an Eagles game, and is absolutely terrific in a role that shows how much one man can love a son, but also want the best for him and try to give him advice on how to make his life better. It’s a role that shows De Niro at his finest, that we haven’t seen from him in a long-time and as much as he may down-play it, he still lets loose a bit and still makes us laugh our asses off whenever he does the signature crunched-up face. Man, you gotta love De Niro!
As for his wife, played by Jacki Weaver, she’s great as well and shows us a lighter-side to her acting-skills, by giving her character a delightful smile that only wants what’s right for her boy and her family. Oh, and I forgot to thank David O. Russell for something! Thank you so much for bringing back Chris Tucker to a mainstream movie that isn’t co-starring Jackie Chan and reminding us why the guy is so damn funny in the first-place. Yeah, Tucker may have lost his signature, high-pitch voice that mostly everybody hated (even though I loved) and has definitely packed on a couple of pounds for good measure as well, but still shows us that he has that great comedic-timing that makes me wonder why the hell he isn’t in more stuff. Does his character matter all that much to the plot? Hell no, actually, if you got rid of him, nothing in this movie would ever change one-bit but it’s Chris Tucker, man! The guy’s hilarious and I want to see more of him.
Consensus: With a heart as big as the state of Philadelphia (not terribly big, but still big none the less), a message that hits the heart, characters that interest the hell out of you right from the start, and a script that balances quirky, comedy, drama, and romance altogether, Silver Linings Playbook is exactly the type of feel-good movie you want to see this Winter-break, especially if you have ever longed for someone to tell you that your life is worth it and is something that’s meant to be made better not just by others around you, but yourself, as well. Definitely go out there, and go see it. Especially, if you’re from Philly. Then again, I feel like that’s obvious enough already.
I have to take a trip to Kazakhstan at least once in my life.
Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) travels from his primitive home in Kazakhstan to the USA to make a documentary. On his cross-country road-trip, Borat meets real people in real situations.
I’ll never, ever forget the first time I checked out this flick way back when it first came out and laughed my ass off by almost everything that was going on here. Take it for granted, I saw this when it first came out and I was probably around 12, so of course everything is a lot funnier then, but I checked up on it again to see if I was wrong but what I got was that it only gets funnier, as you get older.
The funniest aspect of this whole flick is that you can’t script stuff like this. Yeah, it’s another mockumentary but it’s all real except for everything Borat is talking about and that actually makes it funnier to see how these people react to this guy. I was really surprised by how producers were able to get all of the people they did for this movie, because some of them look like some real assholes, while others just look like they are terribly uncomfortable being around this dude. Although I think I would be too if I was near a guy that kept trying to kiss me and trying to ask me about my sister, and if she has sex with lots of men or not. May not sound that funny on paper, but when you play it all out to real people, who have no exact idea as to what the hell is really going on, then it’s comedy gold.
However, I don’t think I’ve explained just how funny this damn movie is! Everything here, pretty much from start to finish is absolutely hilarious because it never stops with the uncomfortable situations, the politically incorrect jokes, and the people they actually grab from the streets to do this movie. It’s a very offensive flick, that makes so many harsh jokes towards every type of person from America (Jewish, Pentecostals, African Americans, Gays, Feminists, New Yorkers, Southerners and college students, to name a few) but it never seems like overkill. Instead, it just gets funnier and funnier with each and every situation these guys pull off and just when you think they won’t do it, trust me, they do it alright. If you don’t laugh at this movie, then the joke is on you and you don’t deserve to watch something like this. Me, on the other hand, had to actually hold my side because of how hard I was laughing. This is my 3rd viewing too people!
What’s probably funnier than all of the offensive jokes and uncomfortable situations here, is that all of the actual people they get to interview, tell you something about the America that we live in. America is a place that I’m glad to have been born and raised in, but I can definitely say that there is flaws to the people of our society, which is probably with all other societies in the world as well. We see people that are racists that tell Borat what type of guns are the best to kill Jews with, we see a car dealer tell him what’s the best “pussy magnet”, we see some dude from a rodeo say how Borat should change his look so he doesn’t look like “a Muslim, who would more than likely have a bomb strapped to his chest”, and we see a bunch of college kids say how all women should be slaves and bow down to what they have to say. It’s some real effed up shit we get to hear and see here, but it’s all true and that’s what is probably the most jaw-dropping thing about this flick. Some of this may actually have you think about our society and realize just how dumb we are such as whenever we see two gay guys making out, we frown upon it, but cheer on George Bush and the Army to go off and kill every single person in Iraq. Hey, I’m not saying I’m supporting or going against anything that the U.S. is going for but this film brings up a lot more questions about our society than you would expect from a dude that runs around asking ladies for “sexy time”. Comedy that makes you think, haven’t heard of that in awhile.
My only complaint about this flick is that as hard as I did laugh, after watching this one for a third time, I also didn’t laugh as much upon this viewing as I knew what was coming, and what wasn’t. The whole idea of shock value is to not expect what’s going to come up next, and I did here, but I still laughed a lot so I can’t really fault the film for that at all. Maybe if I was 12 again, I would have given this a 10/10. Maybe, just maybe.
The whole subject about this flick, is that it’s pretty anti-Semantic in how Borat despises Jews and wants to get away from them as fast as he can. However, Sacha Baron Cohen is not a racist at all, in fact, he is actually a practicing Jew. This really surprised me when I first saw it because it made me realize that this guy was in on the joke the whole time and I think because of his involvement, it wasn’t banned in every single area of the world, but also makes this character Borat, one of the funniest and most endearing racists ever caught on film.
Whenever people see Baron Cohen now, people think of him as this goofy, somewhat larger-than-life character who always plays these insane characters and never snaps out of them. The character Borat, wasn’t the first to show this, but it’s one that showed that he is a comedic genius. No matter what Cohen does in this movie, whether it be hanging out with a bunch of black people in the ghetto, taking a shit in front of Trump’s Towers, or even getting drunk with a bunch of college kids, he never drops character and always stays in character. Cohen does so many embarrassing things, most of which, he puts himself in, but the whole time you can’t help but wonder how a guy can go throughout a movie like this, and just keep on making it seem like he is really thinking this. Cohen definitely has a pair of brass balls and I wish that he continued to do more mockumentary stuff like this and Bruno, but I guess fame was too much for him and his characters. Poor guy, at least The Dictator was fine and dandy.
Consensus: Borat is not only a comedy that absolutely delivers the laughs with an offensive/mean streak unlike any other flick I have ever seen, but also shows you a side of America that will sometimes make you gasp by just how shocklingly cruel and small-minded can be and think. It’s a comedy that makes you think, while still bust your gut. Sounds like a winner to me!
You just had to go back to that cabin, didn’t you?
Basically, Dead By Dawn retcons the fact that Ash went with four other college students to the fact that he only went with his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler). It recaps the events of the first film, up until the point where the spirit attacks Ash, which basically means that it’s another night trapped with the horrifying demons of the Necronomicon.
After checking out The Evil Dead for Halloween Horror Movie Month last year, I knew I had to end this year’s one on a bang. And if you have seen this movie, you know exactly what type of bang I’m talking about. In-joke, bitches. In-joke.
If you think seeing this movie as being a part of my little meme for this month means that it’s scary, I will assure you: it’s far from that. Yeah, there is a couple of jump-scares here and there that catch you off-guard in the way most horror movies do, but this is more of a campy, over-the-top horror movie, with slight, comedic undertones, and that’s probably what makes this film so much damn fun in the first-place. Like with the first-movie, director Sam Raimi shows that he loves making these kinds of movies, regardless as to how much money or material is at his disposal. The guy just has a ball with everything that he owns here, and it shows, but in a good-way. So, for any movie-geek out there who thinks that making all of your wildest dreams come true of being a big-time film-maker are lost because you don’t know the difference between a 16 mm and a 70 mm, then have no fear and just take a note out of this guy’s book. Hell, he’s making this crap and no less than 15 years later he was already making a big-budget, Spider-Man movie. Just goes to show you what a bunch of fun and love can do and where it can get you in Hollywood.
Despite being a sequel to a relatively scary movie, Evil Dead 2 pulls no punches in making itself as goofy as can be. You got laughing furniture, prosthetic chainsaws, tree monsters, an evil book of the dead, and plenty of other crazy and goofy stuff that just so happens to show up in this movie, but it all works because it is never, not for once, taken in the least-bit seriously. Everything here is practically a joke and every scene that happens, is just as outrageous and crazy as the last one but who cares? It’s not about scaring the pants off of film-goers, it’s more about showing the audience that you can have a kick-ass time just watching a movie that does not pull any punches with itself, or it’s material.
And when I mean that this film “does not pull any punches”, I mean that it does not linger away from showing you some disgusting, freakishly-weird looking things up on-screen and as dated as they may be, they still are inventive and original, in their own, sick way. There’s plenty of blood and goo that just pops-out of nowhere sometimes so if you’re squeamish, remember, you have been warned to bring your brown paper bag with ‘ya. Then again, why the hell would you be going to see this movie in the first-place if you don’t like blood or gore. It’s called Evil Dead for chrissakes, and better yet, it’s the sequel. More evil, more dead, more blood, and more guts to be seen. That’s how I like my horror movies and that’s why I had a ball with this one.
I know, I know that this whole review has been all about me practically making love to this movie and telling you how much fun I had but when I say that, I really mean it. Yes, it can be perceived as corny-as-hell in most-spots but that shit doesn’t really matter when you have a cast and crew that sort of knows it and is doing it on-purpose. It’s so rare that you can come by a film that just knows what it is, plays around with itself, and makes no apologies for itself either. Trust me, rather than being scared shit-less until your own pants, literally fall-off from so much feces (sorry for the graphic image), you’ll most likely lose them from all of the piss that comes out when you laugh so hard. Seriously, lines like “Groovy” and “Swallow this”, just had me howling in my seat not only because they were corny, but just because they fit the whole tone of the movie and seemed like it served it’s purpose when it was all said and over with. You’re not going to get a more over-the-top and wild movie than this, and that’s a fact, Jack.
And you know who else serves his mother ‘effin purpose? Fuckin’ Bruce Campbell, that’s who! I remember seeing Campbell play Ash in the first movie, and remembering that this guy definitely seemed like he had a mean-streak in him and should totally let-loose against these demonic pieces of shit if he knew what’s best for him. Thankfully, by the end of that movie, he got that memo after all and gets that one right from the start here and it’s freakin’ awesome to see. The guy does a total 180 and starts kicking ass, taking names, saying cheesy-lines, saving dames, and doing everything else, other than chewing bubble gum (that was a They Live reference in case you peeps didn’t know). Campbell is the big reason why so many people love this movie, and exactly why I do too because no matter how many times the guy gets his ass kicked, he always comes back for more and that’s refreshing to see in a horror-genre that’s now plagued by high-school pussies that are more concerned with their virginity than their lives. That’s why we need another character like Ash in today’s day and age to smack some sense into these little pieces of crap. Actually, if there is a complaint I had with this movie was that when Ash does eventually meet-up with other people in this movie, they are annoying, despicable, and do every single, stupid thing that you would normally expect from horror-movie conventions and stock-characters. However, Ash was still there to save the day in the end and that’s all I cared about. Thank the lord for Bruce Campbell!
Consensus: I went back-and-forth on whether or not I should have given this movie an 8.5 or 9, and I just realized that the whole-time, I continued to smile and smile throughout and it’s exactly what I wanted in a horror flick. Pure fun, pure campiness, and pure, over-the-top, goofiness that never steps into serious-territory.
When in doubt, make ‘em fast.
28 days later after a rage-virus has swept the area and turned every infected person into crazy zombies, bicycle courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakes from a coma in the deserted intensive care unit of a London hospital. He soon meets up with a fellow survivor, Selena (Naomia Harris), and both embark on a journey to get themselves the hell out of London, and also, be able to get themselves out alive.
I’ll never, ever forget the first time that I saw this movie. I was probably in 8th grade, and it was late at-night (on a school-night of course), and I stumbled upon the beginning of this flick on FX and thought to myself, “It’s 10 o’clock. Should I watch this movie for the next 3 hours and be extremely tired tomorrow, or should I go to sleep, catch it another time, and get my 9 hours of perfect sleep? Hmmm….” Thankfully, I went with the first option and to be honest, it didn’t matter how late it was because my ass wasn’t getting any sleep at all that night after watching this. Seriously, that movie kept me up all night and at one-point, I was afraid to even go to the bathroom because it was a dark hallway, and I thought I heard noises. Little did I know that it was just my dog, but still, you couldn’t have told me that at that time and place because I was so wrapped-up in what I just saw that my mind wasn’t taking anything else in.
This whole dumb story about me and my first-viewing with this flick may come off as random and unneeded, but in my case, it totally is. See, I rarely ever get scared by horror films because I for one, know that they aren’t ever grounded in-reality. Iconic horror characters like Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, and etc., don’t scare me because I know they aren’t real and most likely, never will be real. But, what really scared me about this movie was how it didn’t have those elements, instead, everything felt, looked, acted, and played-out, as if it was all real and could actually happen in a world like ours. Yes, I know it all sounds pretty freakin’ goofy that I would assume a zombie apocalypse would ever run rampant in our world and go out like this, but seriously, just think about it: they don’t even have to be zombies, they can just be a bunch of infected human-beings that have no control over anything in their minds. Seriously, it could happen and if it doesn’t, I will be glad to be proven wrong, but that is why this movie scared the utter bajeebers out of me 5 years ago when I first saw it, and that’s why it still does now.
Most of the credit for scaring the hell out of me has to go to Danny Boyle and what he does with this material. Instead of making this your typical zombie-movie where all we see is a bunch of people shooting blood and guts, we get an actual story-based type of approach that not only fits the characters in it, but also the mood that Boyle has set for us as well. Right from the beginning with those iconic shots of a deserted London, we know that we are placed in a post-apocalyptic world that is sad, depressing, and as dark as you’re ever going to get with any other film of this nature, and the way Boyle sets it off is exactly how he allows it to all play-out.
Of course we all know what a post-apocalyptic world looks like: no people, no civilization, no order, and in some cases, no nothing, but there’s something so realistic-feeling about this world that Boyle paints that has me still frightened to this day. See, it seems like this could happen any day, any place, at any time, and it doesn’t matter where it begins or where it ends because it’s going to sweep the globe as soon as possible. That’s the way you mostly have it with any type of zombie/virus movie, but this one is different because it feels like a real-threat. These people can run, they can hide, and they can do whatever they want, but one of these days, they may not be so lucky and end-up biting the dust sooner than they may think. This urgent sense of danger and doom surrounds this flick in every single shot, and it never goes away, which is why I’m still clinging to my pillow as we speak.
None of this would ever feel so realistic and dangerous if it wasn’t for Boyle, and this guy sure as hell doesn’t lose that idea in his head. See, the best thing about Boyle is that he isn’t just a type of director that shoots the scenes, gets good performances from the cast, and calls it a day. Nope, this guy is all about everything else in-between all of that and it shows so perfectly here. The digital-camera brings an extra grainy-look to the flick that puts us inside of this cold and dark world that never seems to have a bright day; the music comes in at times at makes you feel happy, then makes you feel sad, and then makes you feel like your about to go crazy by how tense everything is (I’m talking about you, tunnel scene); and the color-schemes that Boyle chooses for each and every scene bring out a certain amount of beauty to each scene, as dark and hideous as it may be (the red dresses during the last-act just freakin’ popped-out at me). Basically, when it comes right down to it, Boyle is a guy that looks at everything in a flick, makes it better, and gives it his own little stylistic touches that in some ways, may come off as too “artsy”, but in other ways, it comes off as fan freakin’ tastic.
But, let’s not forget people, this is not your typical zombie story that we have all seen a hundred times before-hand, because believe it or not, there’s actually a story here that talks about something more than you might expect from a movie about a bunch of ragged-up killers on the loose. The film talks about how it sometimes takes a devastating act like an apocalypse or a break-down in society to show you who evil human-beings can be. This point is never really hammered-through to you until the last 45 minutes when the story takes a dramatic turn, but you get an essence of that the whole time throughout and you also feel like the only way most people can get through such terrible events like this, is by love and friendship with the people around you. That’s why the “romance” here works, because it’s shoe-horned in and quick for a reason, people need each other in the world no matter what. There’s also a juicy little piece of context in here about how we, as people, have been killing each other for years and years and years, but now have to actually go-forth with that in a society where that’s the only-option. It’s a fairly obvious point you can pretty much gather right from the first scene or two, but it’s still one worth mentioning because it goes beyond what you normally expect in a movie about zombies.
Jeez, I feel like I’ve gone on way too long about this movie but the fact is, after seeing it over 8 times now, I still can’t get enough of it and look at each and every scene as if it was just another piece of art that Boyle chose in his mind and was somehow able to paint it all out onto film. The sturdy story that takes over the first hour or so, does change-up drastically by the last hour and becomes more of an action/thriller type of movie but even that still works, even if it is a bit conventional. Still, though, I realized there was a lot more to this plot than just blood, guts, and violence, and in a way, all of that shit that does go down in the end sort of justifies it’s point and by what it’s trying to say. Trust me, the plot-conventions and cliches are more than you think they are, and that’s the whole beauty and uniqueness of this movie.
Boyle also did something very daring and smart with this movie and chose people for the roles, that were the normal people you’d see in movies like these, let alone in movies in general. I mean now, these people are pretty big-stars, but before this, they looked like nothing else except for just real people, that were stuck in a real world, and tried their hardest to find happiness in it. Cillian Murphy does a great job with his role as Jim because the guy starts out as such a wimp, and dumb-ass that seems to be a bit way too in over his head with the world he has yet to get a grasp hold onto, but after awhile, builds up enough courage and steam of his own to actually have you believe that this guy can really stick up for himself and survive in this world. The transformation Jim goes through isn’t touched-upon enough, in my book, but is still shown in a believable and understandable way, thanks to both Boyle and Murphy themselves.
Rounding out the rest of the cast is a nice line-up that all do perfect jobs with the limited-material that they’re given. Naomie Harris plays Selena as a bad-ass that would kill you in seconds if she had to, but also shows there’s a lot vulnerability to her as well that makes her seem more well-rounded as a human-being rather than just a straight-up, vicious beotch; Brendan Gleeson is a delight to watch as Frank, the loving father that always seems to look on the bright-side to any situation and kept me smiling the whole time he was on-screen; Megan Burns wasn’t so good as the daughter, but I think she was supposed to underplay this role a bit so I can’t be too hard on her; and last, but certainly not least, is Christopher Eccleston as Major West, a guy who comes off as a knight in shining armor right from the start, but starts to slowly change your mind about him and you never, ever know what this guy is going to do next. I like that with characters and I think Eccleston handles that well and shows to be more of a human-being, rather than just showing off as a villainous d-bag.
Consensus: Maybe, just maybe, I’m in the minority with this one but 28 Days Later is one of my favorite horror films of all-time. The world that Boyle paints is as devastating and frightening as it gets; the characters are more well-rounded and developed than the script actually gives them credit for; the scares and chills get to you by the utter feel of realism that shoots-out in every frame of this picture; and the message about who we are as humans and what we’ll do to live-on in life is as heartbreaking and brutally honest as it can get. Definitely go out there and see it, not just to be scared, but also to be a bit enlightened as well.
9.5/10=Full Effin’ Price!!
Oh, high-school. Those were the freakin’ piss-poor days of teenage angst.
This adaptation stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, an introverted and unpopular teenager who has to come to terms with the suicide of his best friend, falls in with a crowd of outsiders (Ezra Miller and Emma Watson), and is now falling in love for the first time. You know, the usual kids stuff.
High-school. Everybody knows what it’s all about and everybody has memories of it, whether they be good ones or bad ones. For me, being fresh out of high-school, I feel the same exact way where there were days that I loved, and others I just wanted to be over with and move on. High-school is not the only thing you can relate that to, but it’s definitely one of the first times in life where we actually start to feel this, understand this, and eventually, use this tool in our lives to move on and be bigger, possibly more mature adults. Thankfully, this movie made me never, ever want to grow-up.
The trailers, advertisements, and even poster for this film have made it out to be one of your ordinary, run-of-the-mill teenage dramas where we look at how kids eventually grow-up and live their lives. Yawn! Seen it all before and that’s why this film didn’t really intrigue me at first, no matter how much hype was surrounding the book. The one element to this film that did intrigue me a bit was how the actual writer of that book, Stephen Chbosky, not only wrote the screenplay for this adaptation, but also directed it as well. This is a very rare occurrence to hear about in Hollywood since those high-class executives don’t really feel comfortable giving off a big-budget flick to a director they have never worked with before, nor a director that has ever directed anything else before this. However, I don’t think anybody else could have ever directed this. I seriously don’t.
The reason I say this is because Chbosky not only knows everything about this story that he created, but he also feels everything that these characters feel. Every scene here has been done in plenty of other high-school movies before. For instance, the first couple days of high-school where a kid sits all by himself at lunch and can’t connect with anyone; meeting your first friend; going to your first party; getting high for the first time; getting drunk for the first time; and even falling in love for the first-time. All of this, and plenty more conventions of the high-school drama that we usually see, are shown here, but they feel different this time, and by different I mean in a very understandable and powerful way.
Chbosky feels what these characters feel when they get hurt, they get happy, and when they get confused, and every single scene he shows this, never feels tacked-on, manipulative, or cheesy. It all feels real and done with pure and rich emotion to the point of where you can actually relate to these characters a lot on so many topics that get very, very dark at times. But when it does get dark at times, it never loses you because you feel invested in these characters and all of their surroundings and you almost feel like you’re a part of the Wallflowers, more than Charlie is. It can get depressing, but not in a bad way because when it does have fun with itself, it really does have fun and it’s almost like you’re taking a road down memory lane and remembering all of the fun and dumb stuff you did back when you were in high-school. I remember all of the stuff that I did, and I thank this film for letting me actually smile about it all again.
The whole 90′s setting is done well because it uses all of the popular and hip music of that time, but still never exactly tells us when the story takes place giving it that idea that no matter what generation you’re from, or where you grew-up in, teenage angst has always been around and been the same case for all of the people that have had to go through it. That’s one of the main points of the story, but it’s not the only one. The film mainly touches on the feeling of being accepted and actually feeling like you belong somewhere. In this world, sometimes, you can get very, very lonely and almost feel as if you don’t really have much to go about in life anymore and are just going to be stuck in this on-going world of sameness and monotony. To be honest, I feel like that a lot at times and it hits me hard but even in my deepest and darkest times, I still feel accepted by the people around and me and have this idea that I do matter in the world. This film really does hammer that idea down to it’s core and in all honesty, had me in tears by the end of it all once I realized that this wasn’t just one kids story that not a single person could relate to, this is everyone’s story and it’s one story that I think will be beneficial for all of those younglings out there in the world who need to feel accepted and that they do matter in life.
Now that I’ve gone on a huge rant about high-school and the feelings it makes you feel, let me go back to the movie and tell you exactly why this story is as emotionally-involving as any other one I have seen this year: the cast. When I first saw that Logan Lerman was going to be the lead in this, my expectations pretty much plummeted since the kid seems to annoy me in almost everything he does and playing an awkward teen wasn’t going to do much for me, either. However, I stand corrected and say that it’s one of the finest, young performances I have seen this year and in quite some time. The reason I state this is because Lerman has a lot to do. The kid has to be a bit awkward, a bit nerdy, a bit weird, a bit horny, a bit angsty, and above all, a bit of a likable character. Thankfully, the kid nails every single one of those emotions and makes this Charlie character, such a lovely person to stand behind and feel for, especially when we get behind his back-story. Charlie is a nerd, but he’s a lovable nerd that has this type of innocence to him that is easy to root for and only hope for the best, and the trip he takes us through his freshman year of high-school is one of the best class-trips I have ever taken, and that’s all because of Lerman. He’s come a long, long way since being dumb-ass Percy Jackson.
The other one in that cast that everybody has been wondering about was Emma Watson and whether or not she was going to be able to get rid of the whole Hermione Granger act that she has come to be worldly-known for by now. Thankfully, just like Lerman, she does a great job with this character and makes us realize just why there is so much to love about her in the first-place. My only complaint with this film would probably have to be her and that American-accent that seems to come-in and out sometimes, but she’s so damn charming here that it’s very easy to get by and just love her character as much as our little friend Charlie does. I look forward to seeing more from this gal in the future and hopefully seeing her go-on and do bigger stuff than Rupert Grint or Daniel Radcliffe may do. Sorry guys, you just don’t got it like Emma.
And last, but certainly not least, Ezra Miller plays the crazy, fun, and gay kid that Charlie first befriends, Patrick. After seeing Miller play a pretty effed-up kid in We Need to Talk About Kevin, I was so happy to see him absolutely steal each and every single scene he was in because of that delivery he has. I don’t know what it is about his delivery or what, but whenever he’s given a line that’s either funny or sarcastic, he just owns it and totally comes off as the funniest guy in the room. But it’s not all fun and games with his character, he’s actually got a very dark-element to him that really makes you feel for him and understand just why he feels the way he does in life, despite being a gay young teen. Miller finally shows us the emotional side to his acting ability that we’ve all been waiting to see for so long and makes me feel like this kid is going to be a huge break-out star after this and probably the most successful out of three young stars in this movie. Sorry Logan and Emma, you two are great, but Ezra kicks ass.
Since this is mainly a movie about kids and everything they go through, it seems a bit unneeded for adult characters but each one does a great job with the limited material they’re given. Some stars show-up for only a minute, while others show-up for 6 minutes, but regardless of how much they actually show-up, they all do what they’re needed and that’s to give good performances. Much of this love goes out to Paul Rudd as Bill, Charlie’s ridiculously cool English teacher that made me really jealous that I never had him in my high-school life. And I mean Paul Rudd, not the actual cool teacher himself. God, that would be so damn cool.
Consensus: In case you haven’t been able to tell from my highly-detailed review, I loved almost everything about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s emotionally heartfelt, poignant, entertaining, funny, dark, insightful, sad, well-acted, great to listen to, and always had me watching and loving these characters for what they were, and not for what they needed to be. Definitely see it, especially if you’re just another little guy starting out in high-school. This one here, may change your life.
Move over Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise officially has a new arch-enemy.
A charismatic intellectual named Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) launches a religious organization following World War II. A drifter named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes his right-hand man, but as the faith begins to gain a fervent following, the drifter finds himself questioning the belief system and his mentor.
Whether you’re a Scientologist and have been waiting to protest outside of every movie theater across the nation, have been waiting to see the return of “normal” Joaquin Phoenix, or have been waiting to see what writer/director P.T. Anderson has kept himself busy with over the past 5 years, chances are, you’ve been pretty amped for this flick, as well as I have been. I mean hell, I reviewed two movies, from the same director, for the past two days! I rarely do that, and I was definitely willing to make an exception for this guy just because he once again, proves that he is one of the best directors we have working in America today. Without a doubt.
One thing that could be said about this tale (but not taken away from, however) is that a lot of it plays out in the same vein as There Will Be Blood. Don’t believe me? Okay, well think about this: instead of oil, you have religion; instead of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, you have religion-starter Lancaster Dodd; instead of the loose-cannon Eli, you have the loose-cannon Freddie; and instead of the relationship between Daniel and Eli being at the fore-front, you have the relationship between Freddie and Lancaster. The only difference here is that Freddie and Lancaster actually seem to get along with one another, rather than drinking each other’s milkshakes. But I digress.
Whatever way you want to look at this film, you cannot deny the artful skill and compelling nature that lies behind every frame of this movie that Anderson beautifully constructs. From a technical standpoint, this film honestly could not be any better as certain scenes will just have you forgetting about what’s going on screen by how beautiful and wonderful they look. Anderson captures the look and feel of the 50′s as if he actually took a DeLorean back to those days, along with his film crew, and just started filming right on the spot. The long landscape shots that Anderson captures are even more beautiful and breathtaking as the ones he took in There Will Be Blood and I highly suggest you see it in the 70MM way it was meant to be seen in. I would like to complain and say that it was almost distracting how wonderful this film looked sometimes because it really does take your eyes off the action at-hand, but I can’t diss art and that’s exactly what Anderson has painted here.
Then of course, you got the score from Johnny Greenwood that uses the same exact trifling with sounds as he used in There Will Be Blood, but this time almost plays out a bit differently as Anderson gets back into the grand scheme of things by allowing pop-music to ironically poke it’s head into some key scenes that will probably fit any type of emotion Anderson was going for in the first place. No, there’s no Sister Christian or Aimee Mann songs to jam out too, but still some nice quality tunes that shows Anderson is the perfect guy for when it comes to meshing music with scenes.
One of the biggest buzzes surrounding this flick is whether or not this is Anderson’s take on the early days of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. There are a whole bunch of similarities between “The Cause” and Scientology, but Anderson never seems like he feels the need to go so far and just openly describes what it is and that was a pretty brave step coming from Anderson as he could have taken as many cheap-shots as he wanted to with this subject material. However, this does give him plenty of room and opportunity to talk about religion and whether or not this “Cause” is actually good for any of the people that follow it. You can tell that these people love being able to believe in something that makes them feel like they live in a beautiful and wondrous world, but at the bottom of it all though is the fact that some of this may just be all based on a bunch of lies. But still, even though this seems like an area that Anderson can get into and almost badger the hell out of, he smartly doesn’t and allow the viewers to make up their own interpretations about whether or not this religion is the right one to follow. Once again, another brave move by Anderson and shows you why he is in fact, one of the smartest-working writers and directors on the planet. That’s right, ON THE PLANET.
But as much as this film may seem to be about this underground religion and all of the effects it has on its people, this film is really all about the relationship between the two main characters: Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd. Both are very, very different from one another as one is the leader of a smooth-talking, happy-all-the-time “religion”, and the other one is just a drifter who can never seem to control his anger, or his drinking for that matter. This contrast between the two characters is probably one of the most interesting and entertaining aspects of this whole flick because we see them both work wonders for each other in ways that we thought weren’t even imaginable from the first meeting the two. They actually care for each other and both want what’s best for them, even if they don’t fully make it work every single time they try. One scene that comes to my mind the best when I think of the relationship between the two is when Dodd actually tells the cops to not hurt Freddie, even after he continues to beat the ever loving crap out of them all. It’s one of the most memorable scenes in the whole film not because it’s a turning-point for the whole direction in where the story was headed, but because it shows you the depths of the relationship these two have together.
What I think makes the relationship between them both the most memorable, is the fact that they are played so brilliantly by its two leads: Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was so damn happy to see Joaquin back in full-on acting mode because it’s performances like these that make me realize the type of talent this guy has that shouldn’t be wasted on a faux-rap career. Phoenix is mesmerizing as Freddie Quell because he brings all of that vent-up frustration and strangeness that he had with his “character” in I’m Still Here, and let’s that play-out in a way that’s as memorable as it is compelling. You can tell that this guy is going to flip any chance he gets the chance to and it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t have the best conscience out there, either. However, there are a couple of key scenes that show Freddie in a very sympathetic light that may have you understand why this guy is always so off his rocker. He comes off as a fully-realized character that has plenty of sides to him and you honestly can’t take your eyes off of. This performance is nowhere near the type of actor’s play-day performance Daniel Day-Lewis had with Plainview, but it’s still something that’s worth loving and remembering come Oscar time.
Then, you got Hoffman playing the type of Plainview-like character as Lancaster Dodd, a character that couldn’t have honestly been played by anybody else except for Hoffman. Hoffman does a great job with Dodd because he plays the character, like a guy that has so much charisma, so much heart, and so much warmth to him that it makes you realize why everybody feels so close to him that they could follow him and every word he speaks out. He’s almost reminiscent of Orson Welles in a way of how he’s all tight-lipped with his speeches and rarely ever loses his cool, but when he does, it’s one of the more memorable scenes since we see this character slowly start to unravel right in front of our eyes. It’s not like this character is treated like an evil piece of crap that nobody should care for, but is instead shown off to be a guy that believes in his own way of life and wants to spread that across to everybody else. Yeah, that could be viewed at as a bad thing but the film never quite portrays it as that and it’s another brave step Anderson was not only able to take with this story, but this character that Hoffman has also fully-realized in his own charismatic way.
Some may be surprised to see that Amy Adams doesn’t have a bigger role here as Dodd’s wife, Peggy, but does a nice job giving her character a very dark turn that I wasn’t expecting in the least bit. Still, out of the other two, she sort of comes off as the weakest-link and could have used a bigger and better role to be more substantial to everything that’s going on and the plot itself. Everybody else is good here too, and I like how Anderson made every character in this cast worth something and have their own moment, even if it may only be for a second or two.
So, here I am, going on and on and on about this flick and how amazing it is and you are probably sitting there wondering, “Oh em gee! Is he going to give it the prized 10/10 I haven’t seen in God knows how long??!?!”. Well, no. Sorry to burst your bubble everyone but this film did still have some problems in its own right and it’s that I think the emotional connection for this film was a bit more off this time around, probably due to the fact that the story is always weaving around and whatnot. With Daniel Plainview, it was easier to follow this character and know him for all that he was because it mostly just about him doing his own, evil thing, but here, the story goes back-and-forth between Freddie and Lancaster so much that it was a bit hard to build-up the tears when that ending came around. Also, there was this really strange scene that had to do with Amy Adams, Hoffman, and a bathroom that is still fresh in my mind because it made no sense and seems to be a bit misplaced in a film that seemed to really go for it all, in terms of being sane and keeping itself in reality. Still though, minor quibbles if you ask me.
Consensus: The Master could easily be a title that director P.T. Anderson is giving himself, because that is exactly what this guy is. Everything from the visuals, to the landscapes, to the score, to the performances, to the fully-developed story, to the religion movement; all are done with the masterful craft of Anderson and is sure to be one of the films to watch out for, come Oscar season.
Billy Madison finally grew up, and got really, really awkward.
Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), who owns a failing company, becomes obsessed with collecting pudding coupons that offer frequent flyer miles. When he learns that a woman (Emily Watson) he met by chance and can’t stop thinking about has left for vacation in Hawaii, he uses his coupons to buy a trip and find her.
Everybody who has ever seen any of P.T. Anderson‘s flicks know two things about him: 1. he likes his films very, very long, and 2. he can make anything work. Even though he kind of disregards #1, he gets #2 down perfectly.
I have probably seen this flick about 4 times and just about every time it gets better and better with each viewing. So many people complain about how it’s not as funny as it should be and how it’s just a weird movie, which it’s supposed to be…maybe. Anderson is a director amongst directors. He essentially takes a very odd story, about an odd man, and brings it into some pretty strange places that include a phone-sex operator, frequent flyer miles, pudding, a piano, and a bed & mattress owner. Yeah, if that sounds pretty strange don’t worry, because it is and I wouldn’t have had it any other way with this one. Anderson knows that this film is goofy but he never lets loose of his direction and as much as he allows all of this weird stuff to happen, he still gives a lot of time to this romance at the core of it all and that’s what really brought me over.
The romance is so sweet and innocence that when you have all of this crazy ish, with people yelling and cussin’ at each other, it sort of makes you want to beat everybody else up that tries to get in the way of it. You can definitely feel a lot of love coming from this little thing these two have going on here but there are so many other emotions going on through here as well, that it’s almost too hard to be fixated on one. People that say this film isn’t funny really need to see this flick again because it’s all of the small, subtle things are what makes it funny. The perfect example is when one of Barry’s employees ask him why he’s wearing a suit to work, and Barry tells him, “I don’t know, I just wanted to get dressed up for work”. Makes no sense, but who cares. However, the next day Barry is at work, you see that same employee wearing a suit with a tie and it just made me laugh my ass off. Maybe that’s not a perfect example as to how and why this flick is so damn funny in it’s little way, but it’s certain things like that for you to pick up on that make movies like this so damn special.
As great as this story may be though, you still can’t forget about this flick without forgetting to mention Anderson’s incredible vision, that makes everything just look like it came from a painting. Seriously, I know a lot of people say that about certain movies in certain reviews, but I mean that here: sometimes this film looks like a painting. There’s a lot of wonderful color art sequences that come around every once and awhile that are astonishing to check out, but the way Anderson gives the camera this very dark look gives this film a distinct look that I haven’t seen before. I really can’t put my fingers on what it is but the way this camera looks with a hint of darkness to bring down all of the color, gives this film a tone. I think I’m just speaking a whole bunch of jibber-jabber, but it’s a beautiful film the whole time, especially a couple of great romantic sequences that get you right into the feeling that you’re in love with these two people as well.
If I had any c0mplaints here, it was that I think that Barry’s sisters were a little too mean for me to believe. I understand that there are sisters and brothers of certain people out there that are very mean but I also can’t understand some relatives like these ones, treating another relative in such a terrible, and bratty way, especially when they know that the person has some emotional problems. It seemed like a lot of it was to go along with the ridiculous plot but it just felt like it was trying way too hard to get me inside of Barry’s head and feel the pain he feels because in all honesty, the character of Barry Egan is an amazing one as it is.
I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again: Barry Egan is Adam Sandler‘s best performance ever. There! I said it people! Sandler pulls out everything within him to make this character work and it’s the one performance that’s made us all realize that this guy can do drama, and make some of the weirdest characters work, no matter how painfully awkward they are. Barry Egan is such a strong character as it is because the dude is a nice, but lonely dude who just wants to be appreciated and treated nicely by the people around him. However, his sisters are all terrible bitches to him, he can’t seem to get a date with any girl, and he’s getting effed over by these phone-sex line people that just want all of his money. This guy has a lot of sympathy already going for him but Sandler takes him up a couple of notches. Sandler shows us a very subtle side to his acting but also shows that he can still make you still crack up, even if he isn’t doing any goofy faces or noises. Instead, the guy just relies on his very dry and awkward sense of comedy that shows a character that really can’t fit it anywhere he goes and you just can’t stop rooting for him the whole flick. It also gets better when Egan starts to show signs of a real bad-ass but I’ll leave it at that, because it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed. I don’t know if this last paragraph does Sandler’s performance any justice but all I can say is that it’s a memorable performance and the best Sandler has, and maybe will ever do.
Emily Watson wasn’t really given all that much to do here as Lena Leonard, but she pulls off being cute, charming, nice, sweet, and convincing very well and it’s easy to see why she would fall in love with such a wacko like Barry Egan. Let me also not forget to mention that the chemistry her and Sandler have is actually pretty good, if you can believe that. I also can’t forget to mention this flick without talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of the dickheads that eff with Egan from the phone-sex line and a lot of his scenes are just perfect, especially by the end. Oh and Luiz Guzman is here. Can’t forget about him.
Consensus: Though it’s not for everyone, Punch-Drunk Love is one of the best romantic films of all-time with a strange story that gets stranger and stranger as it goes along, a vision from Anderson that shows he can make any style of film-making work with any story, and a couple of great performances from the cast, especially Adam Sandler who has never been better. Ever.