I miss the old days when the crowd used to cheer for the Jew-haters.
Porter (Mel Gibson) is one of those crooks that you don’t want to mess with because he’s smart, tough, quick-witted, and always a step-ahead of the baddies. But yet, somebody has still found a way to mess with him and even better: has taken $70,000 of his hard-earned cash away from him and left him for dead. However, whoever that was didn’t quite do a good job considering he’s still alive and wants revenge.
After seeing Parker a couple ways back, I never knew this but thecharacter that Jason Statham played, Parker, has been played many times before by some pretty famous faces. Faces like Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, and most recently (as recent the year 1999 can get), everybody’s favorite Jew-hater: Mel Gibson. That’s right, before it became common-practice to basically hate the guy with cold-blood, “Melodramatic Mel” was actually a movie-star, and a pretty good one at-that. Then again, you probably already know that since the guy just about kicks ass in anything he shows up in. This movie; is one of those instances.
The movie’s tag-line reads, “Get ready to root for the bad guy”, but somehow, the guy isn’t all that bad. He’s a crook; yes. But he isn’t the crook that kills innocent people, women, children, cats, dogs, parrots, nuns, priests, etc. So, basically, he’s just a good guy that just so happens to be on the wrong side of the tracks and even worse: just so happens to be Mel Gibson (aka, everybody’s favorite action hero). And by, “favorite action hero”, I mean way back in the 80′s to the early 00′s, you know, before “the stuff” started to happen?
Anywhoo, other than all of that hooplah that nobody cares about, the flick itself is pretty damn fun and had me feeling as if I was watching an old-school crime movie, told by one of the greats. Writer/director Brian Helgeland isn’t necessarily what I would call a “great”, but the guy does know a thing or two about throwing out a solid, crime story, sprucing it up with some fancy twists and turns here and there, and allowing the guns, fights, and explosions to take their wind and keep things moving when it may fall-asleep due to a lame subplot. But it doesn’t feel forced, it feels good for the story and natural and every time the movie would go through some sort of change where a character would reveal something, or a new and crucial plot-point would somehow make it’s way to surface, I felt on-board with it all, as if I was just apart of some cruel, but fun game Helgeland had in-mind the whole time. I make it sound more sick and twisted than it really is, but trust me: you’re more than likely to have fun with this.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to call this movie a “noir” of sorts as it has that cool, and slick look and feel to it, while giving it a visual-flair where everything is all grainy, as if the world these criminals live in, features people that are all color blind and can’t tell if that bottom light on the stop light is green or gray. This old feel, really made me feel like I was in for a treat, with a guy that knew the type of story he wanted to tell, how serious he wanted it to be, how goofy he wanted it to be, and what extremes he would go to ultimately have us never knowing what to expect next. Watching these crime-thrillers, you always want to never be in the clear about anything, and it’s just awesome when you finally get a movie like this to just allow you to sit down, relax, drop your brain for a bit, and also be ready to see a story goes places you didn’t expect. And even if you did expect the story to go into some places that it does, at least they do it in such a way that’s jokey-wokey, rather than all serious and unknowing. And even if they don’t do it that way: who the hell cares?!?!? It’s fun, exciting, and twisty, and just exactly what I like in my crime-thrillers. Especially from Mr. Mel Gibson himself.
Despite Porter not being all that much of an anti-hero as the promotional tools would probably have you think, Gibson is still pretty damn good at this character because he has the charm, he has the gruff look, but he has the acquired set of skills that always puts him ahead of the others around him, and never lets you lose the fact that this guy is always doing something for a reason. He’s a no-nonsense type of dude that may do something odd, strange, or typically out-of-the-ordinary, but don’t be fooled because it may just be another move that Porter has set-up for a trick in his sleeve. Gibson, before he was out yelling and howling at Jews and female cops, was actually a pretty cool and sly dude that people liked and cheered-on in movies and if you miss any ounce of that thrill, then definitely see this movie because it is Mel Gibson in full-effect here. For better, or for worse, depending on wherever the hell you stand. You can probably tell where I stand, and I’m staying there. Me, and Jodie Foster.
The rest of the cast is filled to the core with the likes of people you have all seen before and like, you just don’t know it yet. Maria Bello is always a great actress no matter what the material it is that she’s given and she’s good here as Porter’s love-interest, but feels a bit too much like a weak piece of service, the way her character and her plot brings down everything else. Granted, she does bring a nice level of action and excitement into the story when you least expect it, but all of the scenes with her and Gibson just had me taking a ticket to snoozeville, and hoping to come back to life before it was too late. Lucy Liu shows-up in one of her earliest roles as an S&M call girl that beats the shit out of guys, gets it right back, and does it all for the pleasure and money. It’s also very, very stereotypical but hey, I guess Lucy needed some way to get her foot in the door. There are others here, like Gregg Henry as the main chump who betrays Porter; David Paymer as a snarky, cab-driver that made me want to punch him square in nose (unintentionally and intentionally); and Kris Kristofferson as a big, bad mob boss that Porter ‘effs with by the end, and poses the biggest and most worthwhile threat of all. Everybody’s good and adds a little som som to the proceeds, but it’s Gibson’s show and he takes over. Big-time, bitches.
Consensus: Payback is a routine thriller that doesn’t have a whole bunch of new tricks to show on-display, but is always a blast to watch because of it’s twists, action, and utter coolness from the script, and Gibson himself.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Randle McMurphy would have taught these ladies what being crazy was all about.
Set during the sixties, Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and sent to a renowned New England psychiatric hospital where she spent the next two years in a ward for teenage girls. There, she finds out more about herself through others, especially Lisa (Angelina Jolie), a charming sociopath who really messes with Susanna’s, as well as everybody else’s, minds.
Any movie that has ever been and ever will be made about psychiatric hospitals, will always be compared to the greatest of all-time: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. To some movies, this may not seem like a very fair-comparison but still it can’t be escaped as that film is not only the finest about psychiatric hospitals, but one of the finest films of all time. Period. That’s why it’s so damn hard for films like these to get past that detour, and be it’s own film. Sadly, the idea and thought of One Flew only made this flick all the more boring in hind-sight.
I’ve never read Susanna Kaysen’s autobiographical-take on her 18-month stay at the nut house, but from what I hear, people that loved that book absolutely loathed this movie and I can totally see why. From the first-shot, I expected this movie to be one of those downright depressing tales of a bunch of wacked-up people that can’t seem to get by in life no matter how hard they try to be normal, and that’s what sort of had me excited here. I thought I, dare I say it, was in-store for a female-version of One Flew, but somehow, just ended-up with a total chick-flick disguised as a One Flew-ripoff. Very, very disappointing.
After I got used to the tone and realized that maybe this movie was going to shine more light in the bottle then I expected, I decided to still give it a chance and see where my opinions and minds swayed. However, I soon find myself caring less and less about the material as it went along. Mainly most of the blame has to be put on director James Mangold who treats this material as if it was another soapy, melodramatic TV-movie-of-the-week that you’d probably catch right after school is letting-out and the kids are just getting on the buses.
With an R-rating, this film definitely has it’s fair shares of curses, nudity, drug-use, and some disturbing images to spice some things up, but you take away all of that, and then you just got a film that’s trying way, way too hard to inspire us to be the best in our lives and instead, ends up just being way too melodramatic and serious with itself. You don’t feel like you just watched something that will stay in your mind forever, nor have you change anything you already do throughout your day; it’s just there to be there. That’s just about it and that sucks because from what I hear, the source material is very, very rich in it’s context and what it has to say. Somehow, someway, Mangold lost his way.
Obviously a movie about a bunch of crazy girls (half of which have all tried to kill themselves) isn’t going to go down the dark comedy-route, but at least give me something that’s more than just a bunch of sad, lonely girls that can’t make sense of anything. Seriously, I’ve seen it all before, heard it all before, and 9 times out of 10, know that it’s an idea that’s been used a lot better before. Watching crazy girls cry, rant, rave, curse, yell, and be sad all the time, doesn’t give me much pleasure, nor does it really inspire me to move-on with my life and be the best that I can be. I don’t know what Kaysen’s original source-material’s point was about life and how you live it, but something tells me it got a bit skewered in the process of making this movie. Also, as inspiring as it may be to see a bunch of crazy girls change their lives around, wake up, and smell the cauliflower, it’s a theme/idea that isn’t anything new, refreshing, or powerful in the least-bit, especially when it’s done in such a dry way like this. It’s just boring to hear, boring to watch, and most of all, boring to wait for 2 hours, just so it will get to it’s damn point.
The only aspect of this movie that nearly saves the day is the performances from everybody involved, especially it’s two leads. Winona Ryder does a great-job at giving this Susanna girl some life, that may seem a bit phony at-first, but soon becomes more and more believable as the story rolls on and we see how she reacts to what life has thrown at her. Obviously Ryder isn’t the best actress out there, but the girl still can give a solid performance when she wants to and that’s exactly what she does here. However, I do think that this Susanna girl was a lot more complex and diverse in the book, which is why it’s sort of a shame to see how she rarely smiles, rarely makes people laugh, and rarely ever does anything we don’t expect from her. She’s sort of plain and dull, which is something that Ryder tries to distract us from, but in the end, sort of fails to do so. Yet, it isn’t her fault and it’s more of Mangold’s than anybody else’s, really.
The best out of this whole cast is obviously Angelina Jolie, who won an Oscar here for her role as the trouble-maker and fire-starter inmate known as Lisa. There’s always a certain spark and edge to Jolie that makes her light-up on-screen and here, she uses that to her advantage, but in a different way than we are used to seeing from her. Lisa is nasty, brutally honest, hurtful, but also very unapologetic in the way she handles herself, tells everybody how she feels, and goes about her day as if nobody else is around her. Lisa reminds me of a lot of girls I know (even guys, too) and definitely seems like a more complex person than Susanna is and that shows. Whenever she’s not around, the movie drags and drags and drags, until she finally shows-up once again to liven things up. If you feel as if Jolie isn’t a good actress and isn’t really worth-watching, other than wondering how she got her lips to be so freakin’ big in the first-place, then check out her role here and realize that the girl has a lot more going on for her than Ryder does, that’s for damn sure. Probably has a lot more money too, that she uses to buy her clothes with. Hayooo! Don’t worry, I’ll be here till Thursday!
Consensus: The cast makes up for some of the script’s misfortunes, but there’s way too many in Girl, Interrupted to turn your head-away from as it just ends up being another, melodramatic and soapy chick-flick about a bunch of gals that have problems, need to get over them, and simply can’t. Just watch for Jolie and some of Ryder, and be done with it.
3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!
Exactly why I never ran for high school president. Well, that and because it’s just lame to begin with.
Election tells the story of Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a popular high school history and civics teacher in suburban Omaha, Nebraska, and one of his students, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), around the time of the school’s student body elections. When Tracy obtains a nomination for class president in the school election, McAllister believes she does not deserve the title, and tries his best to stop her from winning.
High school elections are probably the dumbest things I ever had to go through throughout my 4 years of high school because it’s the same old shit every single year. People promise to change the school, they promise to listen to what you, the student has to say, they promise to talk with the principal about certain changes to the school that will never, ever happen, and when that’s all said and done, it’s onto the next year, and the year after that, then after that, and then so on and so forth. As you can tell, I hate high school elections and this film reminded me exactly why.
Co-writer/director Alexander Payne takes what we usually expect from “teen comedies” and gives us something a hell of a lot smarter and dark than anybody would expect. Payne starts this flick off as if it was a normal, every day type of high school comedy with all of the goody-goodies, the hard-working teachers, the goofy jocks, and of course, the lesbian girl that nobody really likes or wants to be around. But when the actual elections come around in the film, that’s when things really start to get interesting and very mean-spirited, but in a good way.
At its core, this film is a biting satire about how teachers don’t really like the students and how students don’t really like the teachers. It’s pretty much one of those unsaid understandings that are always around in high school. Of course, there are those teachers that everybody loves and feel like they can go up to and talk about anything with, but mostly, the teachers themselves aren’t as fond of you as you aren’t of them. I’ve learned this throughout all of my 4 years of high school and have realized that the quicker I understand this, the better and that’s when things for me in my high school life started clicking. Then again, a lot of teachers started to dislike for my “deauchy” attitude towards them but it’s mainly because I just knew that there couldn’t be a friendship between me and them. Sounds strange, I know, but that’s how I have lived for so long and that’s how I may always live.
But enough about me, more about this flick that we got here. Payne’s writing for this film is awesome because not only is it funny in the way it satirizes high school as we know it, but also shows us a funny glimpse at how life should not be based on just high school. Sure, sometimes we’re stupid, sometimes we’re mean, sometimes we make dumb decisions that regret the next morning, and sometimes we deserved to be laughed at. But when it’s all said and done, it’s high school and in the end, we’ll be OK. Maybe that’s not the smartest message out there in today’s world, and I can probably bet you that there are about 10 other flicks just like this with the same theme, but Payne’s message hit well and felt like a well-deserved pay-off after all of the time he dedicated to these characters and all of their immoral acts.
My only complaint with this film would probably have to be that I never really laughed all that much, even as much as it wanted me to. Yeah, the satire bites and there is a lot here that’s very honest, if a little too honest, but I still never caught myself with a gut-busting laugh and I think that’s just because it’s too dark to laugh at some of the stuff here. Some character’s lives go into some pretty sad places and even though the film seems to be pointing the finger at them and showing us that “their misery = humor”, I still couldn’t find a way to laugh. I don’t know, maybe I love human beings too much to laugh at their misfortunes but not much here made me laugh like I expected to with a guy like Alexander Payne.
Casting Matthew Broderick in the lead role of Mr. McAllister is an obvious riff on his days as the iconic hookey player, Ferris Bueller, but Broderick brings more to this role and makes it more than just a one-joke character. Mr. McAllister is one of those teachers that thinks he can change every student who ever needs him and loves to be involved with his school in anyway that he can. However, Tracy Flick is a girl he can just not like (mainly because his buddy boned her) and because of this problem he has, his life spirals out of control and you can’t help but just feel bad for the guy. There are plenty of great scenes that actually made me laugh just because Broderick has that great comedic timing that has done him so well, even all of these years later, but there’s a certain amount of honesty to his character that makes you feel for him, even when he betrays his morals (or is it ethics?). Actually, that same honesty could probably be said about another character here as well: Tracy Flick.
Reese Witherspoon is absolute dyno-mite as Tracy Flick, everybody’s favorite (or not favorite) perky, goody goody two shoes that wants to do every single activity and be the face of the high school, just so she can have that it can make her look good for college. Flick seems a bit like an innocent character at first, but after awhile, we soon start to realize that she is anything but and once she starts to find out that she’s going to have to fight for her presidency, that’s when her character starts to get lean, mean, and crude, unlike any other character Reese has ever played before. Since Reese has devoted most of her time to lame, chick flick roles, it’s nice to get a reminder of just how awesome of an actress she can be and how powerful her skills no matter who the character is. Tracy Flick is definitely one of her more iconic roles and it’s one that reminded me of plenty of other girls I knew in high school that just bothered me to death. Yep, I’m still at that stage where I look back at all of the bad things in high school but that will probably change within the next year or so.
Chris Klein is pretty good as the dumb jock, Paul Metzler, who gets conned into running against Tracy for president. The problem with this character is that this guy is so goofy, so dumb, that it almost doesn’t seem like this guy is even a human character that we can root for, even if he is the nicest character out of everybody else here. Even as much as I liked Jessica Campbell as his little sister, Tammy, the film never gives her enough screen-time and the rest of the flick, she is sort of just forgotten about until a last-minute montage showing all of the characters and what they’ve been up to as of late.
Consensus: Election may not be as funny as it would like to think of itself as being, but the satire is biting and very honest with it’s three-dimensional characters that do bad things, but you still care for, mainly because of the great performances from the cast, mainly Reese Witherspoon in a role you have never seen her in before. That is, unless you have already seen this flick.
Life in a cubicle.
Overwhelmed by stress on the job, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) goes in for therapy and comes out with a life-changing career philosophy: work sucks. Eager to begin a new life of unemployment, he decides to spend more time with his sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) and less time at he office.
Everybody, at one time or another, has hated getting up early, getting stuck in traffic, and going to work where they stay from 9 to 5. It’s all so monotonous and pretty much anybody who has ever worked a day in their life can say that they can easily relate to a premise like this, and I can as well even though I’m not much of a big worker. Thank God for that!
Writer/director Mike Judge is a dude that can be very funny mainly because of how he is able to make a satire about regular, every-day life and this time chooses something we all know a lot about: work. The satire here is that this company, Initech, are pretty much a joke in and of themselves. For anybody that has ever worked a job, whether you were in a cubicle or not, you can still probably go “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about bitch!” when Peter starts to over-sleep and miss work or when him and his pals go out to destroy the officer copier. Regardless of what sort of jobs you have done in your life, shitty or non-shitty, it’s still something that everybody can relate to and laugh at.
A lot of this film is very, very quotable and funny without even really being lewd or raunchy. So many comedies in today’s world are pretty much based on how funny they can place the word “fuck” in thier lines, but here, it’s all about Judge’s writing and how he is pretty much able to make painful observations on life. Everything you would expect a job like this to be, it exactly that: hell. Very simple piece of comedy with a couple of running gags here and there, and a nice feel of satire to make you realize that work really does suck. Then that’s when you wake up and realize that yeah, it does suck but it’s what pays the bills so I’m gonna go anyway. Sucks to say but true.
Problem is with a lot of this flick is that as funny and biting as its satire may be, something happens to it in the middle where we lost a lot of what really had me going for the first couple of acts. When Peter was walking into work late and not really giving a shit about anything and telling his higher-ups that, I thought it was awesome because it’s something we would all love to do but have no balls to do so. However, there’s a middle patch where the flick starts to show Peter in a rut, where he may be getting put in jail and we see this film go into more of a farce rather than a satire. Sometimes, farces aren’t so bad but here, it was sort of a disappointment considering everything else was working so well.
That was a strange problem I had with the flick, as well as noticing that a lot of the laughs weren’t really coming up all that much, probably because they start to focus on the plot. The plot isn’t so terrible, but it starts to get really thin and rather than focusing on the stuff that mostly worked and made me laugh, like all of the office scenarios and incidents, they try to go with this semi-crime caper of a movie that doesn’t really keep you interested or laughing. However, you got to give a lot of love to Judge for actually pulling something off like this and being one of the first people to do it too.
Ron Livingston lives it up here as Peter and basically gives this guy the cool, laid-back persona where you know that if you were to see this guy on the street, you would give him a huge high-five just for being so cool; Gary Cole is pretty much awesome as everybody’s worst nightmare of a boss, Lumbergh; David Herman is funny as hell as Michael Bolton, no not that one but trust me, they do bring it up enough times here; Jennifer Aniston is great in a very young role from her as Peter’s lovey-dovey girlfriend, Joanna; and how could I ever forget the hilarious Stephen Root as Milton, aka a dude who should have been and should still be the spokesperson for Swingline staplers because honestly, imagine how much business that would do for them. It’s great to see a cast with a bunch of unknowns that can all do awesome in their own roles, but now they pretty much can’t escape the roles they all play here, with the exception of Aniston of course. May not be the worst thing in the world really, but then again, it would get old real quick if people were just coming up to you saying “Aren’t you that dude from Office Space?”.
Consensus: Office Space may not have the best plot out there, but it still a comedy that works mainly because of its satire of middle-class, blue-collar America with hilarious one-liners, and pitch-perfect observations from the master, Mike Judge. Definitely gets better if you have ever worked a job in your life too.
See, wrestlers are just like you and I, except with more muscles and brain damage.
It’s supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be real. Join Mick Foley, Terry Funk, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts for a no-holds barred look into the wild world of the professional wresting, with all of its secrets and truths uncovered.
I used to be a huge wrestling fan back in 2003 till around 2008. I swore that I would never stop watching it and always be a die-hard fan. However, things started to change for me when I got into high school and I realized there were cooler things out there like girls, beer, partying, and well, movies. Occasionally I’ll check it out here and there but it’s nothing too serious like the old days. Thankfully, this documentary reminded me just why I loved it so much in the first place.
Director Barry W. Blaustein definitely shows that he has an appreciation for wrestling and gives us a great glimpse behind what really goes down in the ring. I like how Blaustein gets up close and personal with what we see in the ring and how all of that is performed, written, and talked about in the first place. People that ever mention that “wrestling is fake” will definitely see this flick and think a little differently because it shows that yes, all of the matches are predicted before-hand, but all of the shots, slams, choke holds, etc., are all somewhat real and have pain to it. You see plenty of this when these guys come out of the ring to get stitched up and you realize that those are real flesh wounds, that actually do hurt.
I also liked how Blaustein was able to capture all of this footage, going from all of these different wrestlers and promotions. We see the big and bad WWF (which is basically WWE, for all you jabronis out there), which is practically ran like a business with Vince McMahon at the helm, telling people how he wants his shit done and everybody practically looking at him like a dick and crazy S.O.B. Then we go to a smaller, independent company named APW where the owner, Roland Alexander, is basically scamming all of these smaller-time wrestlers out of their money, in hopes of one day being a big-time WWF superstar. But it’s not over because then we go to a company that’s right in the middle, which will always be one of my favorites: ECW. We get to see how ECW is practically an insane wrestling promotion where just about anything and everything happens and where everybody treats each other like family, much ado to owner, Paul Heyman. It’s three great glimpses into the three main layers of professional wrestling and even though I wish they went a checked out WCW, I still have to give Blaustein some credit for actually getting in there, and showing us just how it all works differently depending where you are.
My problem I had with this documentary was that even though Blaustein said he was very much in love with wrestling, he did a pretty good job of showing just how effed up it can be. One of the more disturbing moments in the film is when they show Mick Foley, aka Mankind, getting hit over and over the head with a chair by The Rock right in front of his family, who are all practically balling their eyes out thinking that he’s dying in there. It’s a shocking scene but very disturbing in showing how certain loved ones look at all the pain and aggression that comes with pro wrestling and it seemed like something that would show the horrors rather than the positives.
Another example of how negative this film was towards the wrestling business was when we focus on a dude I vaguely remember named Droz. We follow Droz for a good 5 minutes as we see him meet and greet with Vince McMahon, get to know a little bit about what he’s going to do there, like be named “Puke”, and then get asked to barf into a trash can just for proof. This seemed not only very strange, but also something that could seem a little bit negative with how it shows Vince as being a demeaning ass in telling this one dude that he’s going to be named “Puke”. Both of these scenes seemed strange considering how much Blaustein had for the wrestling business because it definitely does it more harm than good.
The three subjects that Blaustein chose to focus this documentary on, were pretty good choices considering each one had interesting stories behind them. We follow Terry Funk as his family continues to beg him about retiring from the ring, when all he wants to do is give the fans one more match. Funk is a very respected wrestler and this flick shows him as a naturally likable dude that just loves wrestling and loves his fans. Nothing wrong with that my man. As I’ve mentioned before, the film also follows Mick Foley as we get to see more behind him than we usually see on TV and the guy is so awesome. He’s nice, smart, charming, likable, and a very dedicated father that would do anything to make his family happy. Big problem is, he just can’t say “no” to wrestling.
The biggest subject that this film follows is Jake “the Snake” Roberts, who seems like a very smart dude but deep down inside, has some very effed up problems. We see this guy talk all about his relationship with his estranged father, who actually raped his mother when she was 13, we see him talk about some jumbo mumbo shit while he’s high on crack, and we also see him try his damn near hardest to reconnect with his estranged daughter. It’s one of the sadder moments of the flick but also seemed very wrong when it came to showing Jake in such a negative light. Yeah, I know the guy is a huge fuck up but compared to the other two subjects here, the guy practically seems like the mentally challenged brother.
Consensus: Beyond the Mat is a relatively insightful and sometimes, provocative behind-the-scenes look as to what really goes on before and after the bell rings, but also seems very mean to its subject, even though the director himself states that he truly loves it.
Those travel-book store owners are always getting the hotties.
When shy Portobello Road bookshop owner William Thacker (Hugh Grant) accidentally spills fruit juice over browsing Hollywood star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), it’s the start of a tentative, faltering, on/off relationship.
Basically, this is just a premise that is based on pure fantasy where the average, middle-class dude ends up nailing the hottest celebrity of the century. However, some of those fantasies only last for one night of sexual passion, this movie lasts until these two end up falling in love and that may be taking it a bit overboard.
I can’t say that this film isn’t funny because there were plenty of moments where I found myself having some pretty big laugh-out-loud moments that made me realize that I surprisingly do understand British wit after all. Writer Richard Curtis is a dude every person with a funny accent knows and with good reason, because he’s a damn funny writer. Plenty of scenes here don’t even seem like they should belong in here and are more or less used just to get some laughs, but they are used well and made me enjoy this flick even more than I expected. Richard Curtis is definitely a guy I need to check out more of because he is able to somehow always make me laugh no matter what the film may be.
The problem this film hits is that it’s whole romantic drama aspect of it is very weak mainly because the main relationship just never felt like anything as genuine or as special that this film was trying to throw at us. It’s one of those diamond in the rough stories but after awhile, it goes on to get more and more serious and indulged in this romance that doesn’t have much love backing it up in the first place. Why does this chick decide to give this one random dude a chance? Why does she care so much? What’s attracting these two to each other so much that they can’t be away from one another? All of these questions never get answers because we barely ever get any glimpses into why these two feel the way for each other other than the fact that she’s hot, rich, and famous and he’s just something new and different for her. Then again, I don’t even think they bring that up about him so that’s just all me saying that.
It wouldn’t have been as bad if the film didn’t really hammer us over the head by the end with all of these corny and predictable love monologues that seem to go on way too long. Oh, speaking of going on for too long, did I forget to mention that this flick is also 123 minutes?!? That’s right people, 123 minutes of a predictable romance between a celebrity and a regular dude. I don’t know why so many rom-com’s feel the need to just make their films longer and longer as the years go by because I can barely stomach an 80-minute rom-com, let alone one that’s over 2 hours.
The real saving grace for this flick that did win me over was this cast. It’s strange that Julia Roberts took this role as Anna Scott because she is basically portraying herself. Scott is famous, good-looking, talented, and very much in the press with just about everything she does and Roberts is exactly the same person. However, Roberts is very good in this role as Scott and tries her hardest to give her some dimension but the script doesn’t focus on her all that much except for the fact that she is famous and wants a dude in her life that isn’t in the same social class as her. Hugh Grant really saved this flick for me because he’s so funny with all of his quirks and wit that made me laugh just about every time he used one of them and actually had me enjoy this character William, actually, maybe a lot more than Scott. Their chemistry is pretty good together and even though the flick never really develops their relationship and show exactly why it is that they love each other so very much, you can still depend on their work together to show you the reasons why. The rest of the cast is also very funny especially Rhys Ifans who plays Grant’s house-mate, Spike, and is a disgusting and vile person but he’s also damn funny and a delight to watch on-screen every time.
Consensus: Notting Hill has an underdeveloped romance that gets very predictable by the end, but the chemistry and performances from Grant and Roberts both save this film and make it an enjoyable rom-com. But then again, aren’t they all?!? Maybe not.
*Spoiler Alert*: not all of them are quite the virgins that the title makes you think. Teeehee
This is the story about a group of teenage boys who delve into the mysteries of womanhood through their discovery of a personal diary belonging to the beautiful Lisbon sisters. The five girls, Cecilia (Hanna R Hall), Lux (Kirsten Dunst), Bonnie (Chelsea Swain), Mary (AJ Cook) and Therese (Leslie Hayman), are aged 13 to 17 respectively. Through the diary the boys start to learn about the girl’s lives, coming to hold the girl’s collective memories and experiences as their own.
Writer/director Sofia Coppola is just one of those directors that has her own type of style, and it’s either you love it or you absolutely loathe it. Somehow I found myself in the middle but this flick definitely makes me think more of her in a good way.
This premise isn’t a very happy and light one, but Coppola gives it this stylish and compelling treatment that is sure to win anybody over right away even as grim as the material may be. Copp0la perfectly matches the look and feel of the 70′s with all of the tacky designs, poofed up hair, and rockin’ soundtrack, but there’s just something that Coppola brings here that makes it worth noting more than just a fine looking period piece. Some shots in this flick are beautiful to look at, with Coppola bringing plenty of real-looking hand-held camera footage that gives it this realistic look, but there are also some shots that are not just beautiful but also devastating. There’s a lot of color in this flick but also a lot of darkness and even though the story may take place in a sunny part of Detroit, I couldn’t still help but be placed inside this dark, sheltered, and cooped up world that these girls also had to live in as well.
Coppola also shines when it comes to creating a compelling story that shows 70′s suburbia for what it was for some families, and the effects it would have on the children. The film’s subject material is very disturbing (I mean suicide is never a fun subject to talk about) but it’s not like Coppola depends on that to have us feel something for these characters. We sense that there will be dread coming on its way soon but we can’t help but get lost in these girls’ stories and just how they are constantly being strangled by their parents control, just so they can be safe from the cruel and outside world. I liked how we see an outside view telling us about this story because it doesn’t give us every single little detail about these girls’ lives, but just the right amount to where we are actually able to connect parts of the puzzle together and understand what really made these girls tick after all.
Where the film really shined for me was how it accurately showed the way two opposite sexed teenagers react with one another. Being a young adult like myself, my awkward teenage years are pretty much behind me but I can remember those days when it was so hard for me to actually talk to girls because all that I could keep on thinking about was how big their boobs are. Yes, if you were a teenage boy, you always thought like this no matter what girl you were talking to and this film shows that incredibly well here. I loved when this film focused on these girls and their reactions to other people, especially boys, and it also made many moments that through me off guard by how darkly funny they were. It’s about suicide, but it’s also quite funny. Good job Sofia!
Where this film really lost me was about the last act when the film really starts to stumble and I think lose some steam. The main story-line that has to do with the high-school hunk and Lux, was probably the highlight of the movie for me, so when that seems to go bye bye, the film also seemed to say the same thing to creativity as well. Instead of actually making a compelling ending, Sofia depends more on making everything look cool that seems more like her attempt to get past the fact that she can’t come up with an ending that will truly hit us where it hurts. The motives of these girls also come up a little too late for us to ever really believe in it in the first place, and when they show this random-ass party where all of these rich people are partying with gas-masks seems exploitative and unneeded. I think if they ended the film a little earlier it would have had a better effect overall, but it was just a shame that the last act seemed to just drag.
What really got me into the authenticity of this flick was the fact that almost everybody that’s cast here, were all pretty damn close to the ages of the characters they were playing. This is a huge cast, that features some familiar faces we have seen before but there is only a couple that really stand-out for me. Kirsten Dunst is amazing here as Lux, the sexy and bad girl of the family and just about every scene she has feels real and how a teenage girl would act, if she was given a chance to just break-out. Josh Hartnett is also great in the role as the high-school hunk, Trip, and he was such a delight every time he popped up on-screen that I honestly wish they had more of him but then again, the amount that he did actually have felt right. James Woods and Kathleen Turner are also great in these roles as the mommy and daddy and even though their characters may not be as fully fleshed-out as I would have liked to have seen, they still were very restrained which is a huge surprise from both of them.
Consensus: The Virgin Suicides may start to disappoint once it comes to its final act, but Sofia Coppola’s debut still features a stylish direction that adds so much more to this compelling story than just your usual teenager story, as well as the great ensemble cast that feels real and authentic as if you are watching real people on-screen.
Main reasons as to why I’m letting my senior year go out with a bang!
A group of four horny high school buddies decide to make a pact in which they all plan to lose their virginities before the high school prom. In their valiant quest for getting their collective rocks off, the boys get into all kinds of trouble and wildly unpredictable hilarity ensues.
Since the reunion of this famous high school film series is coming up some time soon, I thought what better way to take a trip down memory lane and make me realize how much I’m going to miss my days as a high schooler.
One of the main reasons why ‘American Pie’ is considered the classic that it is today is because it’s a teen sex comedy flick that doesn’t have us forget that and makes no apologies for it either. I mean this is one of those high school comedies where there is just so much raunch, gross-out visual gags, and obvious sex jokes that for the biggest stickler to dirty stuff will probably piss away this flick, but for the horned-up, sex-crazed teenager like myself and plenty of other ones out there too, I loved it. The jokes are dirty, yes, but they are also hilarious and with every situation that seemed to get even funnier and grosser just as the film went on where it felt like these guys could pull anything out of their ass, and they probably would too. It’s definitely one of those raunchy comedies that are for a certain audience, but if you are that audience, you will have an absolute ball. Hell, try to guess what the title is actually about! I can tell you it’s not named after that Don McLean song.
Probably what’s so much better about this flick apart from it’s gross-out comedy stuff is the fact that it does a pretty realistic job at capturing just what it’s like to be in high school. The essence is here in every scene such as when you feel peer-pressured into doing such things as sex with a major babe or taking a couple of brewskies, and even those moments with the other high school classmate that are just awkward beyond belief but at the time you’re not really thinking and you don’t care either way. Being in high school myself right now (as you could have probably already assumed), this one hit close to home with me because I could identify with everything that these characters were going through and it just felt honest, real, but also totally hilarious in just how everything played out and the film never loses that funny edge to it.
But you don’t even need to be in high school at the present time to fully enjoy it, all you have to do is remember all of the people that made up your best (and sometimes worst) moments of high school and also the other little people in between like the skanks, or the jocks, or the weirdos, or even the parents that always seem to be up your ass trying to pep you up about sex and tell you what’s right and what isn’t. It’s all so true and the way that first-time director Paul Weitz was able to show this makes it even better considering it brought back the high school teen sex comedy back from the grave that it was in for so damn long.
Another great aspect of this film is that its characters aren’t terribly unlikable pieces of shit that you wouldn’t want to even sit next to in class, let alone spend a whole hour and 36 minutes with, they are actually sweet characters that you care for and want to be around more and more. Jason Biggs is perhaps the most impressive here as Jim because he totally just lets himself loose, degrading himself on countless occasions just to do anything for a quick laugh and it always had me laughing my ass off. He’s also incredibly nerdy which gave me that type of idea that he’s like what Woody Allen would be like in a comedy like ‘Porky’s‘. His dad, played by the always funny Eugene Levy, is also hilarious and the father-son duo they got going on here works because it feels so real in a very funny way.
Everybody else in the cast is great too and every character is just worth mentioning because they all add something to the film that makes it what it is known as today. Chris Klein is perfect as the sensitive jock, Oz; Eddie Kaye Thomas is funny as the sophiscated and high-standard type known as Finch; Thomas Ian Nicholas is good as the inspired virgin, Kevin; Alyson Hannigan is so damn cute and charming as the band weenie, Michelle, and easily brings out the best moments in the flick; Natasha Lyonne is hip and cool as the chick who knows everything about anything, Jessica; Mena Survari is nice as the sweet choir singer, Heather; and Tara Reid is just fine as Vicky. Oh yeah let’s not forget to mention that the biggest high light of this flick is probably every time Seann William Scott shows up as Steve Stifler, but you know what? There’s nothing else that needs to be said about just how amazing of a character this dude is and how great Scott is at playing him considering he plays the same character just about in every movie now.
Also, can’t forget to mention Shannon Elizabeth either but I think we all know why I can’t forget. Rawrrrrr!
Consensus: American Pie may not be for the more older/sophisticated types but who it is for, works in every single way from it’s acting, to its gross-out gags, humor, atmosphere, embarrassing reality of what it’s like to be in high school, and also will probably bring you back to thinking about the days of you and your pals in the day and all of the people who made it what it was.
Who wants to go on a camping trip now?
Brash student filmmakers Heather (Heather Donahue), Josh (Joshua Leonard) and Mike (Michael Williams) march into the woods near Burkittsville, Md., to make a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch, who’s credited with a string of heinous murders dating back 200 years. But the trio loses their way and soon find themselves surrounded by a malignant terror.
This is some brilliant marketing right here. Back in 1999 when this film was first being talked about, the filmmakers used the internet and word-of-mouth to actually make people think this was actually real. Although it wasn’t real, it’s still scary as anything.
The one real great thing about this film is from a technical stand-point its amazing. The use of camera-work is used so well because although it may be a little bit nauseating, especially when it’s moving all-over-the-place, you still feel like you’re right there with these three people, lost in the woods and trying desperately to find your way out. There is also no actual soundtrack, so the only real sounds are the sounds you would actually hear in the woods, which makes the scares equally as scary because everything here is all about noise. You hear the rustle of the trees, or the sounds of rocks hitting each other, and automatically the hair on your neck sticks right up.
Let’s also not forget to mention that this film is terrifying, without even showing anything. There is no violence, no blood, and no boogy man, or at least no boogy man that we actually see. This is what scared the most out of me because all the action that is happening, is happening off-screen and although we see nothing, our imagination is still running wild, which proves that sometimes what your mind makes up is even scarier than what you actually see. There was such a small budget here, or lack there of, but I still got more scared here by nothing, whereas many other Hollywood horror films do nothing to me. This just shows that showing nothing, can still work.
My only problem with this whole film is a little one, but still kind of took me away from the film. In the beginning of the film, Heather is talking about these books she read up on called “Surviving in the Woods”, but if she really read up on it, she would have known to just follow the way the water in the creek is going and eventually you would find land or something. This kind of took me away from the film since this seemed pretty reasonable, but then again, I still was involved with everything that was going on.
The acting from these three basically unknown actors is what makes this film work even more. Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams all do terrific jobs in their own parts because they all feel real. In a film that needed realistic acting, these three give that because all the scenes where they are talking, or walking, or just being scared shit less all seem real. Even though it may not be a “real story”, you still can’t help but admire how these three take their roles, and make it seem completely realistic.
Consensus: It may not be a true story, like the film suggests, but the scares here work because you see nothing, there is no big-budget special effects, and its all about feeling and atmosphere, which makes it all feel so realistic, and equally as terrifying.
If this was the true story of the Bible, I would love to go to Church every Sunday.
Fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), a gnarly demon (Jason Lee) and a half-baked apostle (Chris Rock) walk among America’s cynics and innocents and duke it out for humankind’s fate. A modern-day battle against evil takes place in suburban New Jersey, after an abortion clinic worker (Linda Fiorentino) gets a higher calling from two clueless prophets (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).
Writer and director Kevin Smith is one of my favorites and always seems to have something to talk about, except for maybe Cop Out. This one isn’t as amazing as people say, but it’s pretty balsy altogether.
Smith took on a lot of risks here talking about God, religion, apostles, Catholics, abortion, as well as plenty others and he does a relatively good job at talking about all of these themes in a funny way, without insulting anybody which I was not expecting. In a comical and thought provoking way, Kevin Smith was trying to present the idea that most of the masses are sheep when it comes to religion…that they are going through the motions and consider themselves religious because they do what they are supposed to do: go to church, confession, tithe, etc.
The film is still very funny because you still have a lot of the juvenile humor Smith is known for, and the satire of cosmic errors work well also, but this just didn’t keep me laughing like his other pictures have. I had a lot of chuckles here and there, but with his other films, I was laughing my ass off right away and even if the plot was a little bit weak, the comedy was still there to keep me entertained. The plot here is a very smartly thought-out one but it soon starts to drag on and it becomes less and less fresh and more of just a reason to have a lot of conversations about faith. Also, the ending is pretty weak because then it starts to get very strange and actually serious which kind of struck me as odd considering you have Jay & Silent Bob there the whole time. I don’t know it just seems to me that it could have been a lot funnier than what I was given.
The huge ensemble cast is what really brought the laughs out though. I loved watching Matt Damon and Ben Affleck play off of each-other the whole time as Bartleby and Loki. Linda Florentino is OK here as Bethany, but I don’t think really did well with her lines and kind of looks like she’s sleeping through the whole film. I don’t know what it was about her, but her performance just annoyed me. Salma Hayek is funny and sexy as Serendipity; Jason Lee does a good job as the evil Azrael; Alan Rickman is the one guy who brought out the most laughs as Metatron, the voice of God; and Chris Rock was a riot as Rufus, the 13th Apostle. Also, let’s not forget Jay & Silent Bob who are always hilarious with everything they do. Lastly, George Carlin as Cardinal Ignatius Glick is a classic bit of casting.
Consensus: Dogma has it’s fair share of laughs and provocative themes about faith and religion, which Kevin Smith takes on so boldly, but isn’t as funny or nearly as entertaining as his other pictures, just clever in it’s own little way.
Not your average, sympathetic war film.
George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube star as a group of American soldiers stationed in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War. When the three arguably wise men find a map they believe will take them to a huge cache of stolen Kuwaiti gold hidden near their base, they embark on a secret mission that’s destined to change everything.
The Gulf War just seems like a war that was basically a total joke. It only lasted for about a year, if not even that, and barely anybody got killed in it. So it was pretty cool to see a fun take on a war, that didn’t seem even energetic at all.
David O. Russell is a crazy mofo, but is a really great director. The one strength that Russell uses here is that he blends drama, action, and a little hint of comedy altogether but it doesn’t once get annoying like most films that blend genres do. The fact that this isn’t like any other war film is not the real reason it’s great it’s because of what this film does and actually talks about. Russell does some pretty innovative stuff here with his direction, whether it’s using a slow-mo shot to show the bullets hitting a person, or a moving image of the sky, or even an awesome image of showing what sepsis wound looks like. Russell is a very gritty director and he uses this to his ability, to bring out the real dirt and mud that was The Gulf War.
The real strength of this film is located within it’s script that Russell did himself as well. The real reason why this script works so well is because the drama is here and ways heavy on the story, there are still many moments of actual dark comedy that will probably have you laughing and wondering just exactly why you laughed here. The story starts off really quick and comedic with the sounds of The Beach Boys in the air, but soon changes into a very dark, haunting, and disturbing take on the war. You start to really get behind this story because the satire is there, and the political commentary which comments on the U.S.A’s involvement with foreign affairs will ring true and actually have you very angry as to where this story starts to take you. But this is also an action film and there’s plenty of enough thrills and spills to hold over any adrenaline junkie, but it’s more a political critique than an action/war film.
My only problem with this film is that sometimes I do feel like Russell get’s a little out-of-hand with the artistic side of his directing. I’m not going to lie, he does some pretty cool stuff here with everything he shows, but there are many times that I feel like he just gets a little too over his head with this artsy-fartsy crap he does. Also, by the end of the film it does get a little preachy, but I have to say this didn’t totally bother me, I just noticed it right away.
George Clooney and David O. Russell got in a huge brawl on-set during the filming of this film, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t turn in a good performance himself. Clooney basically plays the George Clooney he plays in every film but it always work because he has that cool vibe that always helps his character’s and is just totally sweet and smooth. He is all of that and a little more here as Archie Gates. Mark Wahlberg is amazing here as Troy Barlow because his character is a very human person that just wants to do what is right, and never wants to just kill anyone to kill anyone. Ice Cube is also great as the black grunt, Chief Elgin, and it’s kind of sad to watch this, knowing that this is his last film that actually showed that he any street cred left. Damn TBS! Spike Jonze is also very funny and good as the dumb hick, Conrad Vig, and it’s a very rare performance because now that Jonze has found his niche as a director, we may never see him in front of the screen again. This is a pretty strange head-lining cast but they all do real well with this very challenging material that gives them the opportunity to show their dramatic depths as actors, as well as their comedic timing too and they pull it off. The rest of the cast is very good as well with the likes of Jamie Kennedy, Judy Greer, and Mykelti Williamson aka Bubba.
Consensus: Though it gets a little preachy by the end, David O Russell’s Three Kings is still a smart and innovative blend of action, drama, war, and comedy that shows The Gulf War for the crap that it was and how we can all learn from our mistakes.
3 hours and 8 minutes that I was fully glued on to.
Through chance, human action, past history and divine intervention, an eclectic cast of characters (including Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and more) weaves and warps through each other’s lives on a random San Fernando Valley day, building to an unforgettable climax.
This is that one film that almost every critic loves, either because everybody loves the director, or just loves it because it is awesome. I cannot agree anymore with both reasons.
PT Anderson is an amazing director and can almost do no wrong. Here, he takes a page out of Robert Altman‘s book and takes all these stories, with a long running time, and makes each and every one interesting as anything. You would think with all these characters and stories, that you would get lost in between them all, but somehow Anderson creates tension and space within these stories so it’s all easy to follow along with. I still don’t know how Anderson got all of these stories to be so interesting but the dedication he gives to every story, ultimately keeps our minds on every single one.
The script is what really kept me involved because it must have been really hard to actually have all of this mean something in the end, and Anderson does that so well. There’s a lot of themes and points about happiness, forgiveness, and the overall meaning of life. Sometimes the feelings and emotion we have kept all up in inside, need to be let out, and in order for us to be happy we need to let these emotions be free and gain a better understanding of ourselves and the others around us. I loved what PT Anderson does with this script, because he makes it seem like everything is going to play out in the end through chance, but instead he totally pulls the rug out from underneath us and gives us something new and inventive that really works. Each and every story is filled with great dialogue that shows some funny as well as brutally emotional scenes, that will have you understand, that their are people out there like this, and that we all have problems and need love.
Also, when it comes to soundtracking emotional score music, whoever thought that Aimee Mann would be such a good choice? She brings so much to the table here, and actually brings out one of the most memorable scenes of the whole entire film.
A lot of people will talk about how the events that happen in this film are absurd, but I liked that part about it. However, my main problem with this film is that there are too many biblical references and ideas here that just seem to sort of take away from the story as a whole. Lines are actually said that reference the bible, and faith explanations, and this all seemed a little hoaky for me and just showed that maybe PT Anderson really did try too hard to get this film to be about something more than what it really was all about.
This is probably one of the best ensemble casts of all-time, because each and everyone adds so much more to their own story that it’s spell-binding. John C. Reilly is endearing as well as lovable as the nerdy cop Officer Jim Kurring, who brings so much likability to this role, that by the end of the film when you start to see where his character is going, you can’t help but love him. Melora Walters plays the girl he ends up going after, Rose Gator, who has some huge emotional problems but not once did I feel like Dillon was over-acting at all. William H. Macy’s story as Donnie Smith may not have been as interesting, but Macy brings out so much within this character that I couldn’t help but stayed glued to it. Philip Baker Hall is amazing as game show host Jimmy Gator, and gives it his all almost every single scene and just had me attached to his story every time it was on screen. Jason Robards in his last role ever as Earl Partridge, gives one of the perfect good-byes to cinema ever, and gives us more insight into this guy’s life through this whole film, even though he is just in his bed the whole entire film. Philip Seymour Hoffman is always amazing in what he does, and his performance as Phil is no different although he brings so much more to his character than you would expect. Somehow this guy makes crying all the time, really good. Jeremy Blackman gives an amazing youngling performance as the real heart of this film, Stanley, and it’s such a shame that he doesn’t do much anymore, because he does an amazing job here and gives me my most memorable character of the whole film. Julianne Moore plays crazy bitch Linda Partridge so well that I actually did start to believe that any second this chick would just snap and kill anybody who said the next wrong thing to her.
However, the best performance of this whole cast had to be that crazy, scientologist freak that is Tom Cruise. Cruise was perfectly cast as Frank Mackey, because the guy is such an asshole, and so cocky that it works well with Cruise’s own public image, but it also got to show that Cruise really can give off a performance even if he is self-parodying himself. Almost every single chance this guy gets, he absolutely demands your attention and you can help but give it to him, especially when his character’s true emotions come out, and then you see Cruise for what he is. An amazingly dedicated actor. This is one of Cruise’s best performances and that one perfect casting job, that shows a celebrity as more than just a pretty face on the cover of People magazine.
Consensus: Magnolia may suffer from being too pretentious, but Anderson does a creative and original job with his script and direction that it almost takes our minds away from the pitch-perfect performances here given by the amazing ensemble.
Football is a lot more messed up than I thought.
Master director Oliver Stone crafted this look at the gritty world of professional football, capturing the trials and tribulations of the fictional Miami Sharks, a team beset by unnecessary roughness on and off the field. Stone’s brilliant ensemble cast includes Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Dennis Quaid in a full-blown assault on the senses, portraying every tackle, pass — and torn ligament — in vivid detail.
I like, and I play football. I think it’s tough, fun, and overall vicious sport that if your good at, well then be ready for the big bucks. However, sports in today’s world isn’t always the happiest place to be. Oliver Stone knows what I’m talking about.
As usual with an Oliver Stone film, this is packed and packed with a lot of information, and stories that all seem to occupy the 2 hour and 43 minute time limit. This film is very long, and I must say that if you do not want to sit by a movie for a very long time, where you may not like many of the characters, you may not want to check this film out.
There are a lot of interesting parts every once and awhile, and Stone does a great job of filming it all. The football scenes are perfect by the way they portray every hit, every cheer, every sack, and every single little piece of pain that is involved within a game of football. He also uses his crazy camera-work, that moves from story to story, and the use of loud, percussive music and rap feel like life itself and it keeps us involved with this film as well as the big game itself.
I just wish that there were more parts to this film that seemed like they were needed. I feel like Stone was putting some of these random parts in to create more compelling stories that would have us attached to all of these characters, and it just kind of got tire-some. There seemed to be more random parts then there were actually parts that were needed in this film, but I will give Stone credit for at least adding all these other elements to this film to get the full spectrum, and at least make it something easy to follow. The script isn’t so bad either, it’s just all over the place, but it is entertaining cause it shows the world we live in where the game has changed from being prideful to more commercial.
Al Pacino is perfect and exactly what his character requires: a hard-arsed, old school coach with more honor than commercial savvy. He loves the game he discovered 30 years ago and cannot face the prostitute that it has become. Dennis Quaid is great as the faded glory of the old game: tattered, bruised, bleeding and down but not quite out. Together they quantify everything that is good about sport. Cameron Diaz is surprisingly good as Al’s polar opposite: young, fiscal and dynamic. She has inherited a job she doesn’t want but cannot quit. She sees football as a game of commerce, not endeavor. She is supported by an amazing Jamie Foxx, the tough, brash youngster given a shot at the top position and grabbing it for all he’s worth. Together they quantify everything that is real about sport in the USA. I liked how the film showed how these two opposing sides faced off against each other, even though their all on the same side. It’s old school vs. new school, and you get to decide who wins in the end. There are others in this huge ensemble cast that are worth noting such as LL Cool J, James Woods, Matthew Modine, John C. McGinley, Aaron Eckhart, Lawrence Taylor, and the man himself, Jim Brown.
Consensus: Oliver Stone’s “football movie” is a bit messy and some parts don’t seem like they belong at all, but Stone’s direction that captures the perfect feel of the game, and the perfect performances of the cast make this a film that any football fan can and probably will enjoy. It will just take about 2½ hours out of your day to watch it.
Robert being funny and Billy being serious. Now there’s a turn out for the books.
When Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) needs help dealing with his role in the “family,” unlucky shrink Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) is given just days to resolve Vitti’s emotional crisis and turn him into a happy, well-adjusted gangster.
I love good old mobster movies, especially mobster comedies. But the sad thing is that there hasn’t been many actual good ones, but this one is different. Cause it is actually good.
The screenplay of this film is it’s real strong point. There is a lot of spoofing of mobster films, as well as mobs in general, and it all works so well, because it really does have you laughing. There are several one-liners here that I’m still somehow quoting, and that’s the great thing about this film. How I can still quote it with a smile on my face, is always good.
My only problem with this film is that it isn’t breaking much ground here. Yeah, it’s trying to spoof the mafia itself, but it never actually gets anywhere different than just a spoof. I was expecting a little bit more heart with this screenplay, but what I got I still didn’t have a problem with.
Robert De Niro plays the wiseguy we all know and love him as, and here he is nothing short of hilarious. He plays this wiseguy so well, that a lot of his scenes just seem so genuine. De Niro has always been acting like this, but it never has gotten old, and he still does a knock out job with this material, as he always should. Billy Crystal is also very good basically playing Woody Allen, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s serious, but at the same time goofy, and adds a lot of realism to this role that brings a lot to the film. These two have perfect chemistry and when their on-screen together, you can tell that their actually buddies off the screen, because they get along so well. Let’s not forget to mention Lisa Kudrow as Crystal’s wife, and Chazz Palminteri, as well as Joe Viterelli as some of the other mafia wiseguys.
Consensus: It’s nothing incredibly new, but the laughs are rich, and the great performances from the comedic cast, makes this all a very enjoyable treat.
Hot damn Stanley, you really do love showing boobies.
Director Stanley Kubrick’s final film dishes up a chillingly distant examination of carnal desire and obsession ignited by an argument over fidelity between Dr. Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) and his wife (Nicole Kidman), which sends the physician reeling into the Manhattan night. He soon finds himself in a surreal succession of sexually charged encounters, capped off by a clandestine visit to an upper-crust orgy.
Writer/Producer/Director Stanley Kubrick is a genius. The films he has made in his life, are so insane, but yet so perfect in so many ways. This was sadly his last, and he went out with a bang.
The star of this film is Kubrick himself. His direction is practically flawless. From the lighting, to the camera angles, to the music, to the tone, almost everything feels perfect. This is a very dark, and disturbing movie, and Kubrick builds up the suspense with every second he gets. Some will complain saying how it’s so long, and un-interesting. But for me that wasn’t the case at all, I was more glued in as the film kept trudging along, as slow as it did. There are some really, really tense scenes, and as usual, Kubrick keeps that suspense going through almost every scene has here. The scenes with the cult, are probably the freakiest things I have seen on film in quite some time. The music, the costumes, the lighting, and the overall mood just pulls you in, and you can’t get out so eventually you just fall victim to what is the mind of Stanley Kubrick.
Throughout the film, you feel as if your almost in a dream. You have your reality, your bad dreams, your good dreams, and dreams that almost feel like real life. The whole film plays out like this, and you feel like your walking through a dream-like state with this film. But mainly, the film speaks louder on the study of the human psyche, and how our mind reacts to sex. We feel as if sex itself, is something we need, and we obsess over it. However, as we start to keep searching for more sex, we start to fall into more crimes, and lies, and then our life is practically made up and full of shameful things. This film touches on a lot of ideas about the mind, right when it comes to sex, but the film does pretty well in my opinion of sorting it all out in a reasonable, but psychological way.
My main strife with this film is that I do feel that towards the end there should have been more time devoted to one certain element to this film, and when it comes up, you can tell right away. It was also really disappointing to see some of Kubrick’s main sex scenes, undoubtedly censored. I mean I’m not a perve or anything, but this was the same guy about 30 years ago who showed me rape along to the tune of Singin’ In The Rain, or “heressssss Johnnny”. And to see his material, as sexual as it was, to be censored like it was, sort of took away from the film as a whole I think. When it comes to artistic ability, Stanley Kubrick was all about it showing that he will put whatever he wants on that screen, despite the MPAA, but for this last outing he gave in, and had his ish censored. Poor guy, wish it didn’t have to be like that.
Tom Cruise does a good job as he practically loses himself in this material, and is admirably subtle as he drowns in the film’s indulgences. Nicole Kidman is also very good even though not a lot of the film has her in it, the scenes with her are perfect, and shows that she really can act even with small amount of time given to her on screen. These two were married at the time when this film was completed, and released, and then not soon after they divorced. I guess this type of material really started to mess with their heads, and they couldn’t tell what was reality anymore. But they both have good chemistry in this, and not only is this a film that marks the end of an era, but also a film that marks the end of a marriage that started so bright, and ended so tragically. I guess all good things have to come to an end.
Consensus: Though it may be Kubrick’s last outing as director, Eyes Wide Shut still has some of his best direction, with key performances from Cruise and Kidman, and thought-provoking study on the sexual mind, but it’s just sad cause this was his last film, and with anybody, it’s always sad to see the last great work, of a great artist.
Not so bad for a film that nobody really knows.
Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood) is on the brink of ruining his marriage and journalism career with his alcoholism and womanizing when he’s assigned to write a human-interest story about a death-row inmate (Isaiah Washington) — and learns the conviction was built on shaky evidence. Now, with 12 hours left until the execution, Everett embarks on a quest to save a man he’s convinced is innocent. James Woods and Denis Leary co-star.
Director Clint Eastwood has always been known to make some very good films, but also, some real stinkers. But he can also make some very average films, and this is one of them.
I liked how this film’s plot was pretty simple, and it was just strictly what it said it was in the plot. There is somewhat a sense of suspense in the air, but the real film works as a study of character. This film has many emotional scenes that surprisingly actually work, giving you a real sense of who these people are, and mostly, they all feel real.
The problem with this film is that there isn’t a lot of suspense in this film, which I think what it was going for. I could already tell where this film was going right from the 30 minute mark, but that didn’t disappoint me as much as I was expecting, since I did have an enjoyable time. I also didn’t like how the film was going for this slow, character piece the whole film, and then out of nowhere turns into a race-against-the-clock action drama.
Clint Eastwood once again, proves he is the shit, no matter what film he is in. His character is actually surprisingly flawed. He’s selfish, a liar, petty, and a venal womanizer. However, he doesn’t piss you off with all these bad factors to the point to where you can’t stand behind him, it’s Clint Eastwood, he’s always the man no matter what he does. Isaiah Washington once again proves he is such an underrated act. He has so many emotional scenes, and his character is trapped in this cell, all because of being wrongly accused, and he hits it home with that. Denis Leary is here, basically playing Denis Leary, which isn’t bad. James Woods is awesome in this bringing a lot of comedy to the film, and the scenes he has with Eastwood, are just spot-on perfect.
Consensus: Predictable, and uneven, True Crime works less of a thriller, and more of a character study, backed by strong performances from the cast.
Good thing I was born in 1993, and didn’t live in New York.
During the sweltering summer of 1977, the notorious killer Son of Sam set New York City on fire, and a chance encounter with the homicidal maniac sends the life of a philandering Bronx hairdresser named Vinny (John Leguizamo) spinning out of control. As the authorities hunt the killer, Vinny’s life unravels amid a haze of suspicion, drugs and promiscuity. Mira Sorvino and Adrien Brody also star in this tense crime drama from director Spike Lee.
Spike Lee has always been one of my favorites no matter what he’s directing really. He is very smart, innovative, and thought-provoking, but not without entertaining. Here, he does almost all of that.
There is a lot of stuff going on in this film, and for the most part Lee handles it all pretty well. It’s just that some parts feel like they shouldn’t have even been put in, and you can tell where the film drags. The editing seems like it could have been better, because the tone goes up and down, as well as the story.
However, Lee always steps up to the plate. He perfectly captures the fear and paranoia that was going through the mind of many New Yorkers during the Summer of Sam. He uses a lot of intense visuals, as well as some incredible set pieces, to really show you how everything back in those days, were so tense. The soundtrack also gives us more of a feel that we are in the 70s, and there are a couple of cool little musical montages to 2 songs from The Who, and it really is amazing. It’s always nice to see Lee branch out and do something different, while still making it fresh and enjoyable.
The problem with this film is that it is that for some viewers this may be too much. There is a lot of ugliness within this film that will take some people by surprise, and leave others in total disgust. I didn’t mind it at all really, but the many sex scenes, drugs, and violence will actually be hard for others to watch. For 142 minutes, I think some people will find themselves switching the channels about 30 minutes into it.
The acting is superb, especially from John Leguizamo. His sex-addicted, Catholic-guilt-ridden, married, adulterous, drug-taking, smoking, swearing, messed-up is out of control. Cool. Adrien Brody‘s sexually-confused, swinging, punk, radical, liberated, drug-taking, smoking, swearing, messed-up, Brit wannabe is more subtle, but equally as out of it. They both have great scenes when their together, and you can feel the real chemistry between these two, as we follow their two different lives. Mira Sorvino is beautiful, but also amazing as Leguizamo’s wife, and shows that she doesn’t need to be that goody-goody we all know her for, she can be equally as sexy, and tear down the house. Jennifer Esposito doesn’t do much anymore, and it’s actually a shame because she’s very good here, and it makes me miss her a whole lot more.
Consensus: At times, it’s a muddled mess, at other times brilliantly entertaining. Spike Lee handles this material with plenty of ugliness, but also with great visuals, and amazing performances from the cast.
Baltimore doesn’t really seem all that fun of a place after all.
“No Jews, dogs or coloreds,” reads the sign outside a public swimming pool in 1954 Baltimore. High school freshman Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster) and friends find themselves confronted with anti-Semitism, racism and coming of age in a fast-changing world.
I like a lot of Barry Levinson’s films. I had a great time with Diner, Rain Man, and You Don’t Know Jack, among others. He’s always able to bring that sentimental feeling, as well as humor together, to show true stories in his life, that he lived with.
That’s the one thing about this film that really had me watching, was that it had a nice deal of humor as well as a nice deal of true drama. The film is about breaking boundaries, and going further then what you were expected of. It’s also about a great deal of race and ethnic problems going around.
The only problem was that the story never fully compelled me. I always felt there was so much more in this film rather than 3 stories about stepping over boundaries. I liked the story of Ben Foster, and the African American girl, cause it was so nicely played, and not just in an exploitation way, but handled with care. The other stories were so-so with me. The story with Joe Mantegna and his burlesque club, I thought was a total bore, and the sub-plot with him and Orland Jones that happens, was very quite random, and had no state of believability at all. But I did enjoy the story of Adrien Brody, being the heart-breaking romantic, who tries so hard to find this one chick he loved.
The performances are good. I loved Ben Foster here, I thought he had so much energy, and resilience on screen, that it’s no surprise now he’s doing great in films now. Adrien Brody is always good, and is a charmer in this film, that you fall behind and you cheer him on. Joe Mantegna story line was too boring for me to actually watch his performance up close, but he was good in the end scenes. Orlando Jones pops in this film half-way through, and they try to make him a scary character, but he’s just too funny, and colorful (no pun intended), that it was hard to take him seriously at all.
Consensus: It has a nice script, as well as some good performances from the cast, but Liberty Heights doesn’t succeed fully with being something stronger than it should have been.
Do not trust Asian chicks, sometimes you get one like this!
Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) has lived as a widower for too long and decides it’s time to marry again. But how will he find a wife? When a friend suggests he hold a fake audition to pick the right woman, he takes him up on it — only to realize that his choice may be a better actress than he bargained for.
The film starts off really slow. We get to know this dude, as he is coping with being alone for the rest of his life, and you can tell shits going to get out of whack, mostly cause of the ironic feel to all of it. However, I never really thought shit would get this out of whack.
It has a slow pace, but for the most part, it works. It builds up suspense, for the scenes when we see that she has totally lost it. Many scenes are filmed with no score, and creates this state of unsettlement within the story, and although the subject material is dark, it doesn’t get too dark until the end. It not only works as a suspense thriller, but also as a psychological thriller, where we are taken back by what actually is going on.
As many of you have heard, this is an extremly up-setting film. The violence in this film is gruesome, disgusting, but at the same time, made in an extraordinary. I couldn’t turn my head away, cause the violence doesn’t feel exploited, it is shot with no score, and all of the sound is concentrated on the shock of the violence, and the terror that is being shown.
Director Miike explores themes about the role of women in male-dominated Asian society, with the women taking their revenge in a jarring sequence that plays like a kick to the gut. The tone of the film shifts seismically between beginning and end, and Miike handles it seamlessly, moving from quiet, contemplative scenes to psychologically and graphically violent imagery. And although I was glad we fully understand why this chick, Eihi Shiina, was well told throughout the film, however, there are times when I feel like Ryo Ishibashi’s character was shown in a d-bag way. He is trying to pick up chicks using a fake film audition, I didn’t really see the coolness in that, so why would I want to cheer for this guy, let alone think of him as a protagonist. Also, the film is quite slow, and doesn’t quite speed up until basically an hour and thirty five minutes into it.
Consensus: Audition uses suspense, and psychological aspects well enough to convey senses of emotions, but is way too long for, especially when it all leads up to the final 15 minutes, and doesn’t seem that well thought out.
If you meet a guy named this, stay the hell away!
Charming sociopath Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) maneuvers his way into the lush life of a young heir (Jude Law) vacationing in Italy in this increasingly creepy thriller from Anthony Minghella (The English Patient), based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith.
The film at first sight, doesn’t seem like it could be what it becomes. It’s nice, sound, and also charming with plenty elements of little comedy here and there, but soon turns into something like no other.
Probably in the first hour, the film’s deciding factor already occurs. However, instead of ending on a note like they could have the film continues and gets more into the mind of this very interesting man, Mr. Tom Ripley. The one element I liked of this film was that it was all shot in mostly his point-of-view. We see everything his way, and we get a sense early of who this quiet, awkward man actually is.
I have to praise the writing and direction credit from Anthony Minghella. He uses such a great way of film-making by building up the suspense as the film goes on. There are slight moments of creepiness, but never too out-of-hand until the third and last act. You feel like everything in this film is just going to explode, but using slight Hitchcock pointers of suspense, we are left on the edge of our seat because of the unpredictable of the film and its characters. We see the reason as to why this Tom Ripley wants to be somebody else, and why it is his dream and infatuation, of being another person. I especially liked how by the end of the film, Ripley had to come up with things off the top of his head to get him out of certain situations, which dug him deeper and deeper into more and more chaos among the people he knew. Also, I shouldn’t forget to mention the setting, in Italy. The places the film are set in make the film look better, cause of the bright colors you get this sense of good and love, but the story contradicts this beautiful, loving place, with horror.
I will say that this film did have a couple of flaws that did bother me a bit. I feel like when Jude Law’s character, Dickie, left the film by the end of the second act, the latter part isn’t the same. I was still entertained don’t get me wrong here, I just wasn’t as taken back by the characters relationship as I was with the first two acts. Also, the character of Meredith (Cate Blanchett), and her obsession with Ripley, seemed a bit too unbelievable and underused to a point where the last confrontation was awkward and meaningless. And I can’t recommend this for everyone cause it certainly it certainly isn’t a film you and your family, or bunch of friends can enjoy.
Matt Damon is great and equally as creepy in this film, and proves at an early age he can turn in great performances. Damon, is scary, but also tragic, cause he is a kid that would rather be somebody else and famous for it, than just a random nobody. He makes a total transition half-way through the movie, from awkward quite kid, to charming, talkative two guys, and its all believable. The best performance in the film that is actually the highlight, is Jude Law, because he is so funny, charming, and energetic that when he leaves the film mid-way through we miss his presence and what him back on. Also, Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Seymour Hoffman appear and make some good supporting jobs here too.
Consensus: It’s not for everyone, but The Talented Mr. Ripley, has wonderful performances from the cast, a creepy atmosphere that climbs every minute, and a wonderful job of writing and directing from Minghella.