Is it wrong to say I was getting pretty hungry during this thing?
Back in the day, two girls who became morbidly-obese before they even reached high-school, decided to take it upon themselves to sue McDonald’s for making them “fat”. The court (as they usually do), threw the case out and said that they couldn’t prove anything, because they weren’t so certain that any of the fat or extra-weight they gained was from the actual food. That’s where Morgan Spurlock comes in to show them all who’s boss, by eating Mickey D’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, getting all of the menu items at least once, and always agreeing to have his meal “Super Sized”, but only if the cashier asks.
Way back when this flick was released, it was a pretty big deal for many reasons, but the main which being that it showed us all that fast-food restaurants are practically the devil’s that we always give into. Let’s face it, we have all had our fair-share of food from fast-food joints and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you realize that the crap you’re eating, is in fact bad for you, and shouldn’t be eaten excessively. But back in pre-Super Size Me days, people didn’t really think about this at all and just continued to eat-away at the Big Macs, the nuggets, the McGriddles, the McMuffin’s, and the worst of all, the extra large sodas.
However, this movie came around and really changed all of that and made us realize, “Woah. Chicken McNuggets aren’t just real, actual chickens they get from the farm?” Now, I’m pretty sure not everybody was as stupid as I may make them seem, but the truth is, people didn’t care or think about it as much as they do now. Vegans are all over-the-place (they’re annoying, but all over-the-place nonetheless), Whole Food Markets are popping-up everywhere, and slowly but surely, more and more places that do serve meat, show that they are at least taking care of the animals that they take the meat from, just to ensure that you don’t start tearing-up whenever you take a bite out of a cheeseburger, because you just destroyed Babe’s future. Yet, while at the same time, Mickey D’s is showing-off it’s new and improved menu-item; the one, the only, Fish McBites. Let’s face it, as much as we try our hardest to change the world by the way we live, eat, sleep, drink, and just be, the big corporations are going to stay the same by running business their way, and telling everybody else to hit the high way. It’s the way the world works, but getting a documentary like this really slaps you in the face and makes you realize it’s a sad reality we have to live with. But, it can get better. Which is what exactly happened after this movie, even if Mickey D’s doesn’t like to admit so.
Morgan Spurlock deserves a lot of kudos here, not just for changing certain elements of the fast-food industry as we know it, but by how much effort and dedication he put into making this work. If anything, the guy risked a pretty good job at having heart-disease, let alone, dropping over and having a straight-up heart attack. He knew this all from his doctor’s, who all told him to stop his ass before it gets more than just serious, but yet, still continued to trug along to not just prove his point, but to also give us something to look at. I may be in the minority here, but when Spurlock started paying-attention to the fast-food industry, the way it works, the way it makes it’s money, the way it manipulates, and the way kids are being thrown into this world where a Whopper is exactly what you want for din-din, rather than some soup mom-mom made.
There’s a lot to explore and discover with this journey that Spurlock takes, and the guy deserves all of the credit he seems to still be getting nowadays, just because he never lets-up with his experiment, nor does he ever give up on showing us what’s in-between the finer reading that we may not all be seeing. Some of the scientific-numbers that him and his doctors pull-out of their asses, did sort of come-off like a foreign language to me, but I guess in it’s context, it all meant that his health was failing and getting worse as he continued to pound-away on those wonderful sausage, egg, and pancake breakfasts that never get old. Sarcasm, indeed.
However, being older, wiser, and more knowledgeable of the world around me, who I am as a person, my needs, and my wants, I’ve come to realize that Spurlock feeds us a lot of shit, that may be more than just the food that he’s talking-out against. Be ready, people. This section of the review is about to get really, really rant-y. Here’s the problem that I ran into with this flick: I don’t necessarily agree with Spurlock’s assessment about how the fast-food companies are to be blamed. Granted, fast-food companies are generally considered detestable and in no way, shape, or form the right people you want to give all of your cash to, but they aren’t really the one’s to be blamed here. In fact, we, as human beings are more to be blamed.
For instance, the movie actually brings up the point fairly-early when it says how certain people should make up their own decisions, and shouldn’t feel the need to go about something, like food or whatever, if they have a choice. People have the choice to choose between eating at home, eating at a fancy, schmancy restaurant, or, eating at a fast-food joint. Seriously, the choice is all up to that person and whether or not they want to go with the extra-fatty food, or just chill out and take it easy on carbs. That’s all up to the person, but yet, we are still there pointing the finger at those people because they give us an option? Doesn’t seem right to me and it’s almost a child-ish way of thinking where we can’t make up our own minds and blame ourselves for how fat we got, so instead, stick it straight to the people, who made the product that got us fat.
If you don’t want a Big Mac, then don’t get one! But if you do want one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, then don’t come bitchin’ to me about how much you ate, how fat you got, and how Mickey D’s are a bunch of a-holes that don’t deserve to make the money that they do. In no way am I sticking up for the people from these corporations, but the way that Spurlock rests with his case and shows us that it’s okay to blame those fast-food places for the reason that we’ve all become big and fat; seems so immature to me. It’s almost like we take the whole responsibility idea, and totally throw it out the window because somebody is allowing us to buy a product that they made. Didn’t seem right to me and in the end, seemed a tad too liberal for yours truly.
Then again, all of this could just be me, my views, my opinions, and the ways that I see life, but do we really want to go about our days just doing stupid shit and blaming it on other people for our misfortunes? Like those kids from Colombine: they were some effed-up individuals that nobody decided to help, listen to, or be there for, but at the end of the day, it’s all because Marilyn Manson made some scary-ass tunes about how evil and wicked he is. Once again, not sticking up for Marilyn Manson at all, but it doesn’t seem fair when a guy is just doing something that he likes to do, and gets blamed for something, you know, because people don’t like him and some kids decided to shoot-up their school. Doesn’t seem right to me, and makes me feel like the society that I live in is filled with a bunch of babies that make their own mistakes, but still can’t take the full and utter responsibility.
Okay. End of rant. I promise.
Consensus: Back when it was first released in 2004, Super Size Me was and, in a way, still is an important documentary about how our world loves to eat, loves to be fat, and loves to blame other people for our problems, but the liberal-approach to that latter aspect ruined most aspects of the film for me, despite Spurlock being as dedicated to eating shit food than I’ll ever be.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Rocky Balboa’s only real competition: a woman!
In the wake of a painful estrangement from his daughter, boxing trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) has been unwilling to let himself get close to anyone for a very long time. That all changes when Maggie Fitzgerald walks into his gym, but also walks into his life. Maggie wants to box, but Frankie ain’t about teaching girls to box since it’s considered a joke around the league and his buds that have respected him forever. However, Frankie sees something in her and realizes that maybe there’s more than just a woman underneath it all; there may even be a true fighter. And I’m not just talking about in the ring either, folks.
You have to really give it to Mr. Clint Eastwood; the guy just never stops. Most 82 year olds out there, wake up at 7 a.m., have a nice piece of toast for breakfast, watch golf, sit on the porch, read the paper, talk about the good old days with whoever’s present (sometimes nobody), watch the news, go to sleep at 9, and do the same thing all over again the next day after that and so on and so forth. However, that’s not how Eastwood rolls, nor is it how he likes to spend his latter-years, and even though the guy has had some stinkers in the past, you still have to see that this guy has some real talent left in him and he shows no signs of stopping.
What I liked most about Eastwood’s direction here is that he takes your ordinary story about a trailer-trash girl who has high hopes of one day being the next big thing for boxing, and turns that cliché into something heartfelt and real. No matter what form of advertisement you saw of this film, everybody had it being planned-out as the “female Rocky“, but that really couldn’t be any further from the truth. You feel like all of these character’s motivations are understood, realistic, and best off all, believable to where you can hold everything closer to heart. It’s also a sure thing of beauty to see the relationship between Frankie and Maggie build over time, almost to where he becomes a father-figure for her and she becomes a daughter-figure for him. It all sounds so predictable, mushy, and ham-fisted but it’s surprisingly not, which is mostly because of how much of this rings true to not only these characters minds, but also their souls. You can tell that each and every character starts to wear their hearts on the sleeve by the end, and for that: I think I decided to join along in the heart-wearing festivities.
I haven’t gotten choked-up at a film in quite some time, so by the end, when I started to tear up just a bit, not only did it make me feel good but it also made me realize how great of a director Eastwood can be if he just plays it light and assured. So many films from Eastwood, especially lately, have all been about him trying too hard to get in the way of the story and because of that, he makes some big mistakes in the process. Some of which, actually cause him to lose control of his whole movie, then that’s where he leaves his actors to pick up the pieces. That is different here as you can tell that Eastwood is not all about getting pigeonholed into another genre flick; instead, he’s more about telling the story from his heart and that’s evident through this compelling, but always-subtle direction.
Even though this film did work for me so well in so many ways, there were other problems I had with this flick that made me take away from my final grade. One of the main elements of this film that bothered me was Maggie’s, trailer-trash family that was so one-dimensional that every time they were on-screen, I couldn’t help but laugh, which was something I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to do in the first place. I get it, they’re a bad bunch of siblings that only care for themselves rather than the down-and-out daughter that’s doing everything she can for them, but every time they showed up (which was usually the most emotional scenes out of the whole film) I couldn’t help but think that the only way to get rid of these stereotypical characters in a good way was to have Eastwood take out a .44 Magnum and blow ‘em all away. Obviously, he didn’t feel like doing that this time around but it would have been the best solution to getting rid of these characters and their annoying ways of speaking and acting. Seriously, what a bunch of grateful asses.
Another big element of this film that I couldn’t take in for certain was the champion boxer Maggie ends up facing. Not only is this chick as one-dimensional as Maggie’s familia, but she is also unbelievably ruthless and cruel, to the point of where I don’t really think she would even be allowed to fight in the ring again, let alone, hold the crown for a big bout. Both of these elements may not mean much now, but in hindsight, when they are placed in some real, dramatic scenes, you can’t help but feel like you’re being cheated just a teeny, weeny bit. Hey, I didn’t say Clint was always perfect.
Speaking of Clint Eastwood, this guy is pretty stellar (no surprise there) as the notoriously cranky boxing trainer, Frankie Dunn. Eastwood starts the role off with his usual grumpy, old fart character that we usually see him pull-off so well, but by the end, he starts to reveal some dramatic-layers within his acting that I didn’t even know really existed and even though I did, I still haven’t had the privilege to see them in awhile. Of course, we’ve all seen Eastwood pull out some of his dramatic chops every once and awhile, but not as much as we see here and it’s something of total beauty to see because you feel for his old man, mostly cause you know that this guy is a good man. He’s an old fart that yells, cranks, and pisses on everybody, but he’s still a person none the less and should be treated as one for that. Throughout the whole movie, you can tell that he is trying to forgive himself for all of the time he has spent away from his daughter and more on in the ring, but you realize that Maggie is the one last hope of forgiveness for him and for that, you root him on as much as you do for Maggie.
And as for Maggie, the gal that’s playing her, Hilary Swank, gives yet again, another top-notch performance of hers as the trailer-trash boxer, but this time; with more layers to a character that could have easily been deemed as “conventional”, “obvious”, and “not worth spending more than 2 hours of your time with”. Maggie is a character that annoyed me at first, considering she seemed like she was just too damn happy and optimistic to be in the boxing atmosphere, to be training, to be getting into shape, and to be trying to make a living off of punching the hell out of people in the face, therefore, made her too much for me at first. But then I thought to myself: who cares!?!? Give me more! Well, that’s what I got and I have to give a lot of credit to Swank for pulling this role off perfectly because not only do we see her for the bad-ass that she can be whenever she’s in the ring, but we also see her as a very sad, lonely, and hopeless little girl that just can’t make right with her family, or her life. Pretty sad stuff, but Swank makes it hopeful with her performance and it was a good choice for Best Actress that year.
Oh, and in case I forgot to mention already, but Morgan Freeman is here as Eddie, the washed-up boxer who works/lives at Frankie’s gym. Freeman narrates this movie, and of course, it’s as classy and stylish as ever, but his voice is only used to enhance the story-telling, his performance is a whole, ‘nother thing completely Freeman is always a solid actor and always gives it his all no matter what the shit-pile may be, but his performance as Eddie is as rich and emotionally-powerful as it’s gotten for him, recently at least. Eddie is a bit of a smarty-pants that may not have the best past for a human-being, ever, but he still is somebody that you love and feel for just because you know that underneath it all, this guy is hurting from the life that he could have had in the ring and for some reason; just never did. Freeman has this one, special scene where he talks about his last match and it’s not only a great scene, but one of the best in Freeman’s career. Underneath all of that narrating he does, it’s still nice to see him pull his acting-chops out every once and awhile and amaze us, as we all know he can do. These three are amazing and keep this film grounded in emotional honesty, and brilliance.
Consensus: This may look like your normal, predictable sports drama that we have all come to know, see, and sometimes love/hate from this genre, but Million Dollar Baby is different than that category most movies get sucked into. With a steady and sturdy direction from Eastwood, characters to care for, emotional-truths behind people we want to hear speak, and a trio of solid performances, it’s better than those types of movies and one that you won’t soon forget, long after you’ve seen it for all that it is.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!
Of course now I feel bad for not paying a single-lick of attention in Science class.
Two scientists/best friends Aaron and Abe (Shane Carruth and David Sullivan) are always in their garage’s playing around and trying to create new machines that will benefit the rest of the world, and make them rich one day. However, when they decide to play around a little too much, somewhere, the realization of a time machine being built to perfection comes through to the both of them; but what should they do? Should they take advantage of it and allow all of their wildest dreams to come true? Or, should they just leave it be for the better good of themselves and mankind? You can probably which decision they choose to make. Damn sci-fi nerds.
I’m going to admit this now, before any of you decide to jump down my neck for the rest of this review: I am an idiot, that much is clear to me now than it has ever been to me in my entire-life. Going into this movie, I expected to be challenged, I expected to be pay attention, I expected to be screwed-with, and I expected to think for myself in ways I haven’t been able to pull-off since Inception (aka, a long, long time ago), but still, I found myself totally and utterly confused, way before it even was half-way through. Once it hits the thirty-minute mark, I thought, “Oh, well now I’m starting to get the hang of things and where this plot is going. Hopefully they keep on going down this route.” If there was ever a more perfect example of wishful thinking, I would really like to see it shown to me. Seriously, this movie fucked me over.
Now, that I got that out of the way, I just want to let you all know that no matter what type of shizz I may be saying about this movie from here on, don’t be fooled into thinking I hated this movie. In fact, I think I respected it more than I even liked it, which is really saying something because that almost never, ever happens. Some may be quick to call this “pretentious” and “pompous”, but I just can’t bring myself to utter those words. I can think of other words like “smart”, “imaginative”, and “detailed”, but that didn’t mean it added anything to my overall movie-watching experience.
Here’s the thing with this movie, the plot absolutely lost me about half-way through, almost to the point of where (I felt like giving up. I seriously did. I had my Wii mote handy and ready to change to see what else I had on my Netflix queue, but thankfully, I stayed true to my movie critic ways and kept on watching. But as much as I may have been totally mind-fucked by all of this, I still have to give writer/director/producer/magic man Shane Carruth all of the credit for stepping from out of nowhere, and giving me a sci-fi film that seemed actually possible. Not saying that any form of sci-fi can actually, and might just happen, but the way this dude presents the way these two guys build a time machine (without ever using that word), how they would take advantage of it, and just what sort of ways would they be able to maneuver themselves around it , was smart and something I did not think could happen with a movie like this. Once again, another instance where I felt like a total idiot since I can’t believe I ever doubted this guy, or his movie.
Also, the guy’s a pretty young director and it shows because the movie looks cheap, it looks gritty, and it looks like it was made from shit you’d sell on Craigslist, but that’s not an insult in the least bit. I actually liked that look to the movie, as it made me feel like I was watching a real story, with real characters, and some real fucked-up crazy shit going on that’s almost too hard for me to even think of as of right now. From an aspiring film maker perspective: the guy has talent and knew how to save money, the right way, in order for him to get this movie made, which seems to be on nickels and dimes. For that aspect alone, I give the guy mucho credit. But this is where the bad part begins. Be ready, because here we go.
The problem that I had with this movie is that I did not seem to get a single, fucking thing going on at all here. I get that these guys created a time machine, tried to find ways to manipulate it’s usage into making them filthy, stinkin’ rich, and eventually started to lose sight of their friendship and the life they once lived, but everything else in between, like a couple of plot twists and turns, just never came to me. I get that the movie isn’t trying to be like all of those lame, predictable sci-fi flicks that spells everything out for you and puts your mind at ease so they can tell you all that’s happening, but seriously; I needed my hand held here. I felt like I needed somebody to hold my hand, walk me through the street, and get me home on time, but instead, I just wanted to know what the fuck was going on.
Now, would I go so far as to say that this movie wasn’t made for me? Yes and no. The reason I say yes is because it’s heavy on it’s sci-fi jargon, in a way that’s almost comprehensible for a person who used to spend third-period Bio wondering what movie he was going to watch later that night. Also, the movie never gave me a second to let everything settle in, breathe, and catch myself up-to-place with all of the happenings and dialogue that seemed to come charging at me, almost a mile-a-minute. I felt totally winded, and that was at the 20-minute mark. I still had less than an hour to go, and I was scared-shitless of what may have happened to me next.
However, from the other deck of cards, I’d have to say no for one reason and one reason only: I usually love movies like this. Even though I see a crap-ton of popcorn fare (more than my little, fragile heart may be able handle), I still do appreciate the little, indie movies that allow you to think more than you would with something you could see at any local AMC theater. No matter what that movie may be, I always like to watch them, think for a bit, and come up with my own conclusions at the end. Sometimes they do lose me at points, but I am usually able to get myself back up and moving along with the pace, the story, and the characters that inhabit it.
But this is just one of those movies that made me re-think that idea of myself. It wasn’t that I realized I’m not able to think anymore, and whenever I do, I need somebody to write-out a freakin’ guide book on what everything means. No, in fact it was more that I realized that I have to look out for movies like these and be ready for them, even when I least expect them to come and slash me in the jugular. Did I hate this flick? No, not at all. But there is something that I could tell after viewing it and coming up with my own thoughts: a re-watch is definitely in the future and the re-review for that will definitely be up. As for right now, however, I’m sticking with this and just know that as much as this flick may have not been for me or my mood during the time that I viewed this (I was tired as hell from working-out, ALL. DAMN. DAY.), it still doesn’t mean it’s not worth your own trip to ride-along with, just as long as this cake you don’t mind taking a piece out of. If not, good luck my fellow friends. Good luck, indeed.
Consensus: Primer is a smart, hip-looking, and stylish sci-fi flick that could actually make a lot of sense in the grander scheme of things, but left me in the dark; WAY TOO MUCH. I get that the film wanted to lose it’s audience and see if we could keep up, but as for yours truly, I just wasn’t up the game just yet. Give me another year or so, then I might just be. But until then, I’m staying right where I am.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Would it be safe to say that the Stations of the Cross was one of the first horror-stories ever told?
If you have never went to school in your life, took a religious course, or still consider yourself an “atheist” (word has totally lost it’s meaning by now, this is the story of Jesus (Jim Caviezel)’ last 12 hours of life. Not only was he betrayed by one of his most beloved followers (that damn Judas), but was also wrongfully-accused, put to death, and forced to be executed in front of everybody that couldn’t get enough bloodshed and gore for a day’s work. But, don’t feel so bad for Jesus, because he’s doing this for all of us, the decisions we make, the sins that we commit, and overall: for our lives.
This may be a surprise for some of you to hear (or see), but this movie caused quite the stir back in the early days of 2004 and with good reason. Not only is it one of the most famous and iconic stories of our day and age, but it’s one that so many people know by now, as well as the what, the who, the where, and the how. However, not everybody gets down to the nitty gritty details of just what sort of pain and agony our dear Jesus had to go through, just so us assholes on Earth could get away with having sex before marriage and robbing that liquor store last week. Don’t play dumb. You know exactly who it is that I’m talking about here.
That’s where Mel Gibson shows up, though, and makes us see this story for all that it was, without leaving any certain type of details that may (and definitely did) make Catholics, Jews, Priests, and the Vatican more pissed off than little Jimmy opening his mouth out about how Father McCarthy gave him extra sips of wine in the back of the Church. Then, of course, when you do re-enact a story like this, with all of the blood, the gore, and violence, you have to expect all of those “sacred people” to be up in arms and consider it a sacrilege, all because Jesus actually got his ass beat, before dying a very painful, agonizing death. Just to let you know, The Church; this shit actually did happen, so what the hell is so wrong with some dude showing it in all of it’s fame and glory.?!?!? Probably not the best choice of words, but you get my drift.
Anyway, aside from all of my religious beliefs (I have none, I think they are all just used as a conversation-stater for boring people), the movie still paints a portrait of Jesus and the Stations of the Cross, and not in the happiest-way either. However, that’s the point of the story and for that, I have to give Mel Gibson mucho credit for not backing down and allowing people to take away his image of what happened to Jesus during his last twelve hours. Everything we see, hear, and feel, is not pretty, but then again; what the hell do you really think Jesus went through when he was just doing this all for us and the sins we would definitely commit!?? Did you think they just handed him the cross and a fork-lift to get up on top of that hill, glue him to it, and just let him sit up there for a little while?!? Hell to the no!
What they did do was savagely beat the shit out of him, whip him until he was just about bones on the ground, and never let up, even when he couldn’t physically carry the cross no more. That is definitely not the type of gruesome story we get to hear when our religious-grandparents force us to go to Church, but that’s the story we all know and rarely ever see. That is until, Mel Gibson has a little something to say and absolutely holds no frills, or strings attached. He tells it as if the story most likely happened in real life, and never lets up when it seems like the violence is becoming too much for people. Even though the guy is a fucking nut behind-the-scenes and sometimes in front of, you have to give crazy Mel credit for having a vision in his head, sticking to it, and not allowing any person to stop him from showing it or skewer with it any way at all. In a way, I guess you could say he’s a lot like Jesus where he had a vision and a belief, and never let anybody stop him from telling it or showing it to the people around him.
Too much? Yeah, I kinda thought so. Anyway, moving on……
Although I can give credit where credit is due for Mr. Mel and having the balls to go forward with this story, I can’t give him credit for giving me a movie I want to see ever again. I mean that too: NEVER, EVER AGAIN! It wasn’t just that the blood, the violence, the gore, the torture, and the whipping became too much for me, because actually, by the 4th time actually seeing this, I think I’ve become more numb than ever before. But it wasn’t that, it was just that after all of this time the story still did nothing for me. It isn’t because I’m an atheist (I guess I am. I don’t know, and I don’t care, really), and it isn’t because I haven’t gone to Church in almost a year and counting, and it sure as hell isn’t because I usually cheated on every single one of religion tests they threw in front of me (loved sitting next to Lauren Baker 4th-8th grade), but it was just because the story and Gibson’s approach doesn’t offer us anything new, original, or thoughtful that we haven’t already heard or seen before.
We know exactly what happens in this story, and therefore, we expect to not get any surprises and in return; there aren’t any. The only type of surprises there could have been with this story was what Mel had to say about it, and we never get that. Instead, we just see Jesus get tortured, beaten within an inch of his life, his mommy crying, his followers act like pussies and back-stabbers, and at the end of the day, dying in total agony, discomfort, and excruciating pain. And oh, by the way, it’s all for 2 hours and 6 minutes which wouldn’t seem that bad if the movie continued to move along, but it doesn’t. It just keeps on getting slow, melodramatic, and a bit too obvious for it’s own good. I don’t know whether or not this is how the original story was framed (highly doubt it was), but something, somewhere, within Gibson’s direction was just not cooking well and just made this flick seem like it had to be seen, to be believed. That’s all fine and dandy, but don’t promise me boobs, when all I get is legs. That’s all I have to say about that.
As for the actors and actresses of this movie, they all do fine but most of their jobs are hard to pull-off considering all that they have to do is speak in a dead language, emote really hard, and pull off some nasty emotions. Overall, they all do fine but I can’t really say that anyone in particular is a revelation considering it’s mostly ordinary the same stuff around. Jim Caviezel is good as Jesus Christ because he is able to look as if he was near-beaten to death, pull it off without over-acting too much, and just seeming like a Saint-like creature, sort of like Jesus. This guy’s a good actor in most of the stuff he does, which is a shame because he will always and forever be remembered as “the guy who played Jesus in that one movie directed by that anti-Semite, Mel Gibson”. It’s a sad reality, but it’s the truth. Poor guy. And I’m talking about Jim, not that dick head named Mel.
Consensus: Passion of the Christ is the story we all know from the heart, feel the agony of, and in ways, learn something new from each and every time we hear it, but not this time. Nope, Mel Gibson has a the credit for at least achieving his vision and not backing down, but when it comes to giving us a movie that is worth watching for the whole sake of being enjoyed, learning something from, or being emotionally-driven; he does not succeed. Maybe that last aspect may work, all depending on how Holy that person is, but for yours truly: it didn’t much for me at all.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Who said Africans don’t have their own Schindler’s List?
The movie is about Paul Ruseabagina (Don Cheadle), a man who works at his hotel during the violent war between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda. When the war goes out of control and innocent people are starting to get killed one by one, Paul risks everything to save his family and the many refugees on his hotel.
If I was a resident of Africa, I would be pretty pissed with Hollywood because it seems as if every time they always have a movie that portrays that area, it’s filled with chaos, genocide, murder, and dead-bodies left in the street. Seriously, does Africa have anything else to offer than a bunch of mobile slaughterhouses? I don’t think Hollywood has caught-on to that idea yet that maybe Africa isn’t as shitty as it once was, but damn, does it make some good-drama. I’m thinking from a Hollywood producer view-point, not my own.
With a movie about genocide and featuring plenty of innocents getting hacked-off by machetes on a daily basis, you would think that this flick would be all sorts of gruesome but surprisingly, director Terry George keeps things relatively civil and very PG-13. Yeah, I do think that the PG-13 rating sort of got over-stepped a couple of times but you know what? I’m not part of the MPAA and I don’t care either way, because George does a nice-job on not only focusing on the horrors of this 1994 massacre in a disturbing, but still respectable way, but also focusing on what made those people who lived through it all want to continue life some more.
I’m not one for these sappy, melodramatic, inspirational true-tales of a guy who fought against-the-odds and one because no matter how much of a twist you may put on it, it’s still the same old song and dance. You can have a good-guy seem like he’s never going to make it out alive, stack all of the odds against him, and in the opponent’s favor, but no matter what, the good-guy always wins, good overcomes evil, and the human-spirit always prevails. That’s why I was really surprised by how emotionally-connected I felt to this story, despite me knowing pretty much how it was going to end, where, when, and how.
George plays things very subtle on his direction, and instead, allows the story to tell itself in a way that makes you realize that this is as inspirational it they come, in terms of true-life stories. This man, Paul, literally had no chance of living whatsoever and even though he pretty much knew that from day uno, once things started to get a little shaky in home hood, but he never stopped giving-up hope, he never stopped to protect those around him, and surprisingly, he actually accepted the fact that he would most likely die no matter what the outcome of all of this strife and internal conflict would be. That’s very respectable and brave of a man to have, and you will be very, very inspired by this man after you see all that he had to do, all of the strings that he pulled, and all of the promises he had to make, just to ensure the safety of himself, his family, and everybody else around him. Knowing me, I would have probably would have bitched-out and totally just gave-up all hope and have them cut me like ham out on my front-lawn, but watching a man like this, seeing everything that he would do to keep his people alive, and knowing that it was all a true-story with some liberties taken here and there, I felt very inspired and sure with myself. Then, I turned-off the movie and came back down to reality and realized: well, I’m still a pussy.
What makes this man so special, so memorable, and so brave, is mainly because of the tour de force performance from Don Cheadle, in his first, leading-role, if you can believe it. See, before 2004, Cheadle was not the household name that he is today and was only really known as a character actor that showed-up in random stuff, acted like the tough, sly black-guy, and that was basically it. He was good at it, don’t get me wrong, but there’s always something more to him and that’s what he shows-off here so perfectly as Paul Ruseabagina. There are so many scenes where you can just feel this man really starting to lose all hope and faith in humanity, but still, somehow is able to keep it together for his family, everybody around him, and mostly, himself. A couple of moments in this flick we just see him break-down into full and utter tears (that tie scene was amazing), and it has an effect on us because this is a guy we feel as if we can trust more than anybody else that he’s hiding in that hotel. I’ve got to give it to Cheadle, the guy handled the African-accent perfectly and even though some of his lines may have been a bit cheesy, he still works through it and has us believe in this man for all that he is. I loved Cheadle here and it’s a real shame that the guy hasn’t been given more opportunities like this to just act his off, because we all know he can. And if not, just watch this damn movie and you’ll come back a hella surprised.
But see, the problem with Cheadle being so powerful, being so memorable, and basically, being the only element to this movie that could have the waterworks moving for me, is that he’s probably the best thing this movie has going for it, in terms of acting. His wife, played by Sophie Okonedo is good and definitely shows that there is a lot more to her than just a damsel in distress that needs her hubby with her every step of the way, but everybody else seems painfully dull and just plain and simply obvious.
Nick Nolte is always an actor that I can count-on to give a solid performance but here, the guy’s character just blows, showed-up every once and awhile, delivered some piss-poor news, went-away, came back again, and it was the same thing over and over again. Nolte can handle these types of roles like nobody’s business, but his material is just too dull and boring for him to really shine above it all. Then of course, there’s another crazy-man by the name of Joaquin Phoenix in this who doesn’t have a huge-role, but it is honestly a role that could have been taken-out of the final-cut, and it wouldn’t have made a lick of a difference either way if he was in the movie or not. I should never have to say that about Phoenix and no matter how much of you out-there think (and pretty much know) that the guy’s crazy, you still can’t deny he’s a great actor that takes great-care of every role he’s given.
However, I haven’t even gotten to the actual, African-troops that are as evil, despicable, and distasteful as you can get. In every single one of these movies, the generals are always the same: big, bad, mean, corrupt, and always smoking a cigar to show how relaxed and rich they are. It’s a cliche that shows-up in all of these movies and it’s one that shows-up here way too many times, and is just obvious that it’s not working in this flick, especially when Cheadle’s playing across-of them. Each general acts as if they can’t wait to get their hands on their machete so they can just cut somebody up to little, bitty pieces and even if they were all like that, it still doesn’t mean I want to see it, over and over again. Cheadle as Paul is great, but everybody else, well, they just feel like cardboard cut-outs of characters that were supposed to be there and have real thoughts, real hearts, and real feelings but in the end, I got nothing from any of them.
Consensus: You’ll be quick to dismiss it as “obvious, conventional, and cliche”, and in a way, you may be correct, but Hotel Rwanda doesn’t let that get in the way of a true-tale of the hope, courage, and honesty of one man named Paul Ruseabagina, played oh so perfectly by Don Cheadle, in his best role ever. Yes, I did say, EVER.
And we all thought that sharks were the ones to not be trusted when it came to going scuba-diving.
Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) need a holiday together. They aren’t really doing much with one another, can’t get frisky, and seem like two busy-bodies that just need to relax for a little awhile. That’s when they decide to go scuba-diving on a Sunday during their vacation, and are somehow left behind by the crew they came with. Pretty nice way to relax and love one another again if you ask me.
The idea of being lost in a huge sea, without anybody out there coming to get you is a pretty freaky thought as it is, but imagine if that was actually something that happened. Apparently, it has and that’s what this movie is based off of and as sucky as that whole situation may be, it doesn’t really generate a fun flick to watch. That is, unless your idea of fun is watching two, helpless human-beings stay stranded in the ocean, with the fear of being eaten alive by sharks clear in their mind, then you may have a ball for this movie and may want to also check yourself into a psychiatric facility as soon as possible. Hey, I’m just saying.
Probably the scariest element of this whole movie has to be the fact that it shows you these two people, lost at sea, all by themselves (except for the lurking sharks), and rarely ever cuts away from them. So, basically, the sense of danger and doom is just looming in the background and makes you pretty freaked-out once you start to feel like a shark’s going to come-up and bite one of these people’s legs off at any second. It’s as terrifying of an experience to watch, as much as it’s one that definitely provides a great deal of tension and that is exactly what we get here.
Writer/director Chris Kentis definitely allows this low-budget approach to take over the film and just give us a low-key look at something that’s not only terrifying, but could happen to anyone if they aren’t careful enough to watch. I mean, getting lost at sea by a bunch of divers you’re grouped up with seems highly unlikely (especially after a movie like this that high-lights that terrible happening), but there is still that shred of an idea that it could possibly happen and that’s what’s so freaky about this material. Kentis taps into that idea and lets his tension run wild, but not as wild as I was expecting, mainly because it comes around for only a couple of minutes throughout the whole film.
As for those other minutes that seem to make up the rest of the flick? Well, they are pretty much dedicated to two, a-holes that seem to fight, complain, bitch, and fight some more about the situation they’re in, without ever seeming to come together and show they’re love at all. I get that the film wanted to create this claustrophobic atmosphere by focusing on this couple and their dynamic throughout this whole, freak-situation but there still wasn’t much for me that felt like it was worth holding onto for them. They rarely ever shared an agreement on anything, they rarely ever showed any signs of affection or love, and they don’t even seem to get along with one another. So, pretty much, it’s almost like they’re together just because they can and that’s not what love’s all about in my book, especially when you’re lost at sea and you have no one else to be with.
It also adds insult to injury by the fact that the two people that play the characters (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis), aren’t very good at improvising, or spouting-out scripted-lines, either. Actually, I can’t be too harsh on them because they do at least try with a script that seems more concerned with the sharks than the actual humans themselves, but they don’t really add anything all that much either. There’s one scene in the beginning of the movie that shows that they are running through some problems as a couple, but that’s pretty much it. Then, they’re stuck in the water together, with sharks at their toes, and practically up each other’s asses about everything they’re doing right, and what they’re doing wrong. Hey, if you need couple counseling, just go out in the middle of the ocean and see if you can’t patch things up sooner or later. If one of you dies, then you definitely know that they weren’t the right one for you. That’s the message I got by the end of this movie and it’s probably not the one that Kentis had written-out for me in the first-place, but then again, what the hell was his message after all? Don’t get lost at sea? Sharks are bad? Professionals that you pay a lot of money can fuck up too? Don’t trust everybody who allows you to go diving into the sea? Hell, I putting too much thought into this movie, who the hell cares?!?
Consensus: Open Water definitely features some great moments of pure tension that are sure to have you freaked the hell out, but doesn’t have characters you care about or root for, and just seems more concerned with it’s sharks than the actual human-beings in the film itself. Then again, I can’t really say that I blame the film all for that. These two were freakin’ jack-asses.
What if the one that got away still stayed hot and you looked really creepy?
Nine years after spending a night together in Vienna, Jesse Wallace (Ethan Hawke) is reunited with Celine (Julie Delpy) while on a book signing tour in Paris. There’s an obvious attraction still between the two but Jesse only has a short amount of time until his plane leaves which means that their meeting may be brief.
Before Sunrise was just about a near-perfect film for me. It had all the ingredients you could ever need for a great romance and I honestly do believe it’s one of the greatest romantic films of all-time, and that really is saying something. So for there to be a sequel to see what happened between the couple that graced that flick, made me anticipate just what the hell happened. Thankfully, I was not let down.
The whole film is about 80 minutes of these two people walking around Paris, talking, going into a coffee shop, then going onto a boat, and then talking some more but the film is never boring. Every single word that these characters let out had me on edge the whole time and I never felt bored by these two talking because even though they talk about generally nothing again, they still do talk about something, if that even makes sense.
What really works with this screenplay is that co-writer/director Richard Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy all came together on this script which gives it this realistic and almost heart-breaking truth to it all. In the first flick you see how these two have this sort of fantasy look at love and the world but now that they are older, everything is a lot more sad and angry around them. These two see the world in a different way like when it comes to relationships and they soon realize that the word “love” isn’t exactly what they thought it meant considering you had to worry about all of the non-nonsensical crap that comes along with it. It’s sad but at the same time realistic because you see how two people grow up and realize that the world isn’t what they once thought it was but still keep a grasp onto what made them happy in the first place. This also leads me into another idea that the film brings up: memory.
The conversation these two have constantly bringing up the miraculous one day they had together and most of the memories they have are very clear and feel as if it was just yesterday. These two are always reminded of that one day that they shared together not just through the way they speak to each other but also through their lives as both constantly could not escape or forget that faithful day that made them realize they really have something special together. The film is basically infused with the idea that as long as you and the other person are alive, the memory will never ever go away and no matter how much you try to run away from that fact it will always come right back to you.
Without Linklater behind the director’s chair though, I don’t think that this film would have even felt the same. Linklater is perfect at just letting the story and characters speak for themselves but that still allows him to do some cool tricks such as these long tracking shots that last almost 10 minutes every time. I love tracking shots and it’s just so great how Linklater can use them to create a certain amount of tension of realistic feel even if it’s just by focusing on one shot the entire time. Also, even though our minds are on the two characters the whole film, Linklater still allows for some beautiful imagery of Paris come into play and give us this view of the lovely place we knew in the first flick.
Where the real brilliance of this film lies is within the performances of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, who feel real together. Even though these two never worked again after the first until this flick, their chemistry is still there if not better because as I have said before, they are a lot older now and a lot more sad and angry emotions come out of each other. Right from the get-go, their chemistry feels natural and everything they say all seem improvised even though that is not the case. They are playful with each other and you know that there is just something special between them even if they don’t want to come clear with it themselves and watching them just exchange little glances at one another giving each other little smirks, made me feel like there was more sex in this film than there was in Shame. Both of them start to break-down in front of one another where they both not only show regret but also anger towards the whole situation of how they could have been together, but just missed out somehow. These two are just perfect together and I think the fact that Linklater allowed them to shed some personal issues into their script as well. Delpy was on the rise as an actress, finding roles that she liked and being happy with them, while Hawke was sort of going through a lot of personal problems with his wife at the time, Uma Thurman, and a lot of that shows through by the way his character talks in this flick as well. It’s great to see two stars working together not only on-screen, but on the script as well and shed some real human emotions that come from their own lives as well.
Consensus: Before Sunset is just as great as the first one with a perfect chemistry between Delpy and Hawke, a screenplay that feels natural and realistic, and the real human emotion of watching these two meet up after all of this time. Hopefully, there’s one last one to close out the series but in the mean-time let’s just get ready for Still Dazed and Confused: the 20 year reunion.
Never leave a spy alive, especially if that spy happens to be Will Hunting.
This sequel re-enters the shadowy world of expert assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who continues to find himself plagued by splintered nightmares from his former life. Except this time, he has a bigger threat in CIA agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen).
I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you liked The Bourne Identity, you’re liking this one. As simple as that.
Director Paul Greengrass does a great job here with this material because instead of doing exactly what Doug Liman did with the first flick, he molds it himself. The first one without a houbt had action but focused way too much on its plot, which in turn took away from the little action there was. So what Greengrass does is just match the plot development it but tops it off with more action. And when I mean action, I mean action, baby! Yeah!
Greengrass films more than a few of the action scenes with his infamous “shaky cam” method, but it didn’t bother me as much here as I thought it would have; actually, it tweaked the film in just the right way. All of the fights that go down here feel like they were filmed by a drunken sports fan who just wanted to see some mono-e-mono brawls and happened to fumble in the right places for his camera. Maybe that doesn’t sound (look) so awesome right now but it really makes you feel like you’re there watching Bourne layeth the Smackedowneth on all of these CIA agents’ candy-asses. You can feel the action no matter how far away from the screen you are. The frenetic editing Greengrass did here may not be for everybody, especially the ones that were huge fans of the original, but most will appreciate the gritty vibe he brings to the film and if nothing else how good he is at filming a car chase.
This film isn’t all about its action though, because a lot of it actually is dedicated to its plot which keeps on moving and moving the plot along. If you saw the original, you will probably know everything that’s going on here in the first place, so therefore when all of these mysteries start to be brought up, solved, and twisted around like a curly fry, you can’t help but feel like you don’t know what’s going to go down next. So many things are being brought up here but somehow, it all works itself out and doesn’t become over-bearing.
However, as interesting as the story may have gotten to become, it was still pretty predictable in the end which bothered me. Yes, I know that this is all used for entertainment values and anybody going into these types of films expecting anything else but just pure, adrenaline-junkie action is a total dumb-ass, but I couldn’t get past the fact that almost every action sequence would pretty much end in Jason Bourne coming out on top no matter what the odds stacked against him were. Maybe the fact that I also know that there’s another sequel to this one is what had me thinking this too. Actually, that’s exactly what it is. Damn, I just wish I saw this when it first came out!
Other parts of this film I didn’t like was when the film tried to get a little sentimental with some subplot about Boune’s first “job”. I don’t mind an action/thriller flick trying to be more than just that but the film tries to edge Bourne out more by giving him this plot to show that he really is a human and humans make mistakes. It comes up just about every 30 minutes when something strange goes down and when it’s all over, you feel like they totally dropped the ball on it. I don’t want to say how this whole subplot eventually plays out, bu the scene it ended with seemed to have left me a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Don’t know what it was but definitely didn’t feel too right.
Matt Damon once again proves himself to be a good action star, and an even better action star as Jason Bourne. He is able to handle this “plain-looking” guy style but also be able to come off as a ruthless bad-ass whenever it comes down to him taking on other spies and the CIA. Bourne is also a bit more interesting this time around because we see him go from a defensive position to an offensive one, which allows us to root him on some more as he battles these CIA punks. Go get ‘em Bourne!
Damon is also backed up by a pretty solid cast. Joan Allen is pretty awesome as Pamela Landy because she’s a strong character that doesn’t have to use her muscles to prove her ruthlessness, instead, she uses her brain and that’s a real tough brain to go against. Let’s also not forget to mention that she’s very sexy and a chick I wouldn’t mind going up against myself, if you know what I mean..? Rawr! If you have ever seen Brian Cox play a bad guy before, (which is almost every flick with the exception of Super Troopers) then his performance here as Ward Abbott will just be another example as to know what this dude is capable of and Karl Ubran gets some pretty bad-ass scenes where it’s just him looking all tough and ready to fight Bourne. Yet, none of them ever really stand a chance.
Consensus: Though it misses a couple of beats here and there, The Bourne Supremacy is still a solid action flick because it keeps the adrenaline moving at such a solid pace, that you rarely ever forget what you’re watching and you get more and more involved with the story as it goes along.
Selling ecstasy is the ideal way to become James Bond.
Sleek, well dressed and polite, XXXX (Daniel Craig) looks like any other businessman. Now he’s looking at retiring while he’s still young enough to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. He reckons a couple of days should see him clear of the business. That’s the plan, anyway.
It seems like any British gangster flick that has come out within the past 15 years, all have to be compared to Guy Ritchie films. Ritchie did sort of bring this whole “goofy gangster” type of movie to the public, so it makes sense. But what happens when one of his buddies try to out-do him? Ehh, nothing much.
Instead of relying on off-the-wall humor or a slick style, director Matthew Vaughn, creates a story that is pretty interesting right off from the start and stays that way for awhile. Vaughn brings a whole bunch of plot twists that are sure to mess with you for awhile and he gives us this gritty and mildly bleak look at these characters and the lives they live. I don’t want to say that Vaughn has a pretty distinctive style, because I don’t think he has any set style here whatsoever, but I will say that he knows how to make a regular gangster film look pretty damn depressing just by setting it in certain places that you wouldn’t expect them to be at. I can definitely see why this guy went on to do Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, because he can definitely keep the momentum going no matter what it is that he’s doing.
The plot starts off pretty well and keeps a certain momentum to it that had me into it and watching, but then my interest started to stray away once the plot started digging deeper and deeper. With this story, characters are constantly flying in-and-out with barely any introduction at all and it’s never made clear to us as to what their presence serves to this plot at all. I tried my hardest to remember all of their names right away but as time went on, I found myself almost keeping a tally on my hand as to who was who and who was doing what to whom. It’s a very confusing plot that starts to get a bit more confusing.
Let’s also not forget to add that the characters have some very deep accents where you may only be able to catch about two to three words they say in each of their sentences. I can’t really blame this problem on the film and the actors considering they were born with this accent, but then again, it just adds more annoyance to your head when you’re trying to freakin’ map out everything that’s going on. I know a lot of this sounds like I wish that they dumbed this film down for me but I have to be honest when I say that the accents, countless characters, and plot twists messed me up at times if not for a whole 30-minute period. Then again, I got right back into it by the last act when it starts to become a lot more of a story about all these sort of bad muthtruckas just getting ready to kill one another.
People all say that this is the role that made Daniel Craig the next James Bond and I can definitely see it because this guy is pretty damn good. Craig makes this character (who goes unnamed the whole film on purpose) a very easy one to follow because he’s likable, very sleek and cool, but also is a bit vulnerable and finds himself in a lot of situations that you wouldn’t expect a certain “know-it-all-character” to find himself in. He’s just a good actor and if this was the role that got him his Bond gig, then so be it because he may be the best thing about this film.
It was also pretty cool to see Sienna Miller show up here as nothing more than a hot and sexy lady for Craig’s eyes but I sort of do wish that there was more of her and her character because they could have had a bit of a striking little romance go on here. Also, you may notice a little young performance here from a man known as Tom Hardy playing one of Craig’s lackies, and now that I think about it, I wonder who would win in a fight: Bane or James Bond? Now that would be pretty cool.
Consensus: Layer Cake has a great performance from Daniel Craig and an inspired direction from Vaughn, but it also suffers from being a bit too over-stuffed when it comes to its plot with too many characters, too many twists, and way too many accents that made it harder to understand just what the hell everybody was talking about.
Why isn’t there blood spewing out of these people?!? Better yet, why isn’t there that many people getting hacked off?!?
After having killed the first two on her death list, The Bride (Uma Thurman) continues in her journey of vengeance to hunt down and kill the remaining victims, Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), Budd (Michael Madsen) and ultimately, Bill (David Carradine).
Basically in a nut-shell, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 kicked ass and I was so hyped up to see this one after that. However, if you go into this one expecting that one all over again, check again bitches. Hell, I wish I actually checked again.
Without a doubt, you have to see the first one before seeing this because it will make you understand the story so much better and even the little things that popped up in the first one, will still somehow find their way back into this one so just be ready for that. What sets this film apart from the first flick though is that it’s not an insane, fast-paced action flick with people getting chopped up by samurai swords everywhere. Instead, this is a lot more of a character/plot-driven flick that depends a lot on Quentin Tarantino’s writing to create a mood and a certain amount of suspense. This guy is perfect for that and he does a great job with that here because the scenes of dialogue may go on longer than you may expect at first, they still feel relevant to the story and it’s just so damn hard to be bored of a Tarantino flick, especially when somebody in one of his films are talking.
Another element that separates this flick from the first is that there isn’t many homages to a lot of what Tarantino loves as much as there was in the last one. I liked how he was able to incorporate everything he knew, saw, and loved about movies and could put them all up into one flick but barely any of that is here, which sort of relies on him to use his also perfect directing skills. Tarantino doesn’t disappoint and there are of course some funny little nods to the kung-fu movies and spaghetti westerns but I was kind of disappointed by the lack of homages and tributes from Tarantino’s fan boy self.
The main complaint that I had mostly with this flick was that I honestly was just totally bummed by how much action there wasn’t, which may sound dumb but they honestly feel like two different movies, which I know they are, but I was just let down totally. I was expecting crazy action left-and-right like the first but what I got was just a bunch of slow and tense conversations which did work but I honestly couldn’t go from one to the other in such a different style. It may sound like a bit of a dumb complaint but I just was expecting something a hell of a lot more insane, which I think is to expected coming from Tarantino.
Don’t get me wrong though peeps, there is action here and when it does go down, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome. There’s also plenty of times where Tarantino plays with our natural fears such as being buried alive, being bitten by a snake, getting our eyeballs taken out, getting shot with a dart, and plenty of other crazy and effed up shit that will make you squirm but also feel cool about because Tarantino does it in such a creative way that it’s hard not to feel a little smile on your face about. That damn Tarantino always gets me right when I think I’m lost.
The acting is definitely a lot better this time around since we get to see these characters a lot more than we did in the first. Uma Thurman is great once again as “The Bride”, but this time she gets to show a lot more to her character rather than just slashing Japanese effers up. There’s a lot of emotions she has to show here such as anger, terror, happiness, sadness, and enterprisingly even love. Thurman does a perfect job with this role here where she actually feels like a real human with emotions even though she could kick my ass in any second.
As for the other two villains in this flick, they are pretty fine too. Michael Madsen plays Budd, Bill’s washed up brother, and brings that charming evilness to his character that he always seems to do so well and his scenes are all pretty good. Daryl Hannah is pretty bizarre again as Elle Driver, and gets to use a lot of her key bitchiness to her aide this time because her character is just a chick that you want dead right away but she always seems to be one step ahead.
Oh shit, I almost forgot to mention the man villain of them all, Bill himself. David Carradine is great as Bill because he is everything that a great villain needs: he’s charming, funny, likable, creepy, and always scary with every scene he has. There’s just this certain atmosphere Carradine brings out every time he is on-screen like I felt like this guy would just snap crazy in one second and wouldn’t give a single shit who he killed. It also helps that he has some of the best lines in this flick as well and the one that always sit in my mind at the end is the one he makes about Superman. I won’t spoil it here but it’s pretty smart and may actually think a little bit, which is definitely a total surprise considering it’s a Tarantino flick where it doesn’t matter what themes or morals he may be throwing out there, it’s still a flick about bad people doing bad things. Get used to it peeps.
Consensus: Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is not exactly like the first installment but that’s not all of a bad thing: there’s plenty of action, well-written scenes of tension done by the master himself, and it’s definitely a great way to close off this two-parter even though I don’t think Quentin is all that done here.
Now I thought Amanda Bynes was a pretty good looking Jesus freak, but damn was I ever so wrong!
Good girl Mary (Jena Malone) can’t believe it when she gets pregnant by her newly-gay boyfriend. She also can’t believe the actions of her popular, relentlessly devout best friend, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), who’s looking after her wheelchair-bound brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), attempting to convert adamantly Jewish Cassandra (Eva Amurri), and trying to snag cute newcomer Patrick (Patrick Fugit), a hip skateboarding missionary.
You would think that a film about a born-again Christian getting knocked up would be comedy writing itself. But writer/director Brian Dannelly is more about getting in touch with the big issues with religion and the results are fairly successful. Hell actually, a lot better considering Mandy Moore is in one of the leading roles.
What I liked most about Dannelly’s script here is that he goes for some big punches by poking a lot of jokes at fundamentalism, faith, and the people that believe so fanatically in it but he does it in a way that doesn’t offend anyone really. It’s much like ‘Dogma’ in the way that its just showing religion/faith for what it is and even though it may poke a couple of jokes at how crazy and energized up these certain people can be that are behind it, he never really bashes them. The humor is very funny in a satirical way where we see how everybody in this high school is all about the big G.O.D., but at the same time, they aren’t necessarily being the best people that they think God wants them to be. Then again though, that’s the point of the flick.
We can’t always live up to God’s expectations as to whether or not we are doing the right thing in his eyes just about 24/7. It’s definitely a lot harder to ask that out of teenagers more than adults considering we have so much evil and bad things around us that seems so easy to just do what we think is fun or the right thing for us to do. Still though, we can still be happy and be loved by God even if we may mess up every once and awhile because honestly, who’s perfect in today’s world. Donald Trump? Barack Obama? Oprah Winfrey? Don’t worry I’m not a huge believer in faith but I can definitely say that certain people are a lot pushier with it than they have any right to be in the first place.
The film isn’t just a satire about faith and the people it, it’s also a sweet, little coming-of-age story that I thought had some nice touches here and there. Dannelly gives this film a little relaxed feel to it where everybody lives close to one another in this suburban town of Maryland, and they all have different things going on in their lives except for one thing, The Holy Spirit. I liked this because it was a good coming-of-age teen comedy that didn’t try to do anything new with itself but at the same time didn’t try to be another one of those lame-o high school flicks that get old by the 20-minute mark.
My problem that I had with this flick was that as funny and as biting as it sometimes was, the last act really disappoints. I like the fact that Dannelly didn’t try to bash any religion or the people behind it but at the same time, he makes enough jokes at them throughout the whole flick and then tries to say that he’s sorry by giving everybody a nice reconciliation. This seemed a little too neat for my liking considering how biting this film and its satire could be and it just seemed like Dannelly took the easy way out rather than just trying to go for anything edgy or different for that matter. The film’s last act is also filled with just about barely any humor whatsoever, but then again, I don’t really think they were trying to go with that either. It’s just a shame though that a film can be mocking a subject at one point and then by the end, just teeter out and try to ask for its forgiveness for making jokes in the first place.
As for this nice, young cast, they all do pretty good jobs as well. Jena Malone is a perfect fit for Mary because her face shows that she is both naive about what she should do with her future but also determined to do the right thing, which makes it so much easier to like her character right from the start; Mandy Moore is a blast to watch as Hilary Faye because she’s just one of those pretentious, goodie-goodie, rich, pretty, and self-centered chicks that you just want to see get knocked out and told who’s boss but she’s also very funny by how serious she is and it’s just a surprise as well that Moore gives a good performance considering she does do a lot of crap; Macaulay Culkin and Eva Amurri probably have the best scenes together in this flick and it’s a real surprise why none of their careers never really lift off after this; and Patrick Fugit is nice to watch as Patrick, a kid that knows all of the right things to say but just can’t get the girl that he wants. However, if it came down to a choice between Mandy Moore and Jena Malone, I’m sorry but I would have to say Moore. Actually, it’s not that hard of a decision in the first place.
Consensus: Saved! features a lot of funny satire that has a sweet coming-of-age story behind it that works, but by the end it starts to teeter back and ends a little too cleanly. Young cast that makes it definitely worth watching more though.
Don’t eff with a chick that dresses like Bruce Lee. Especially if shes waving around a sword.
The Bride (Uma Thurman) was once part of a group of world-class female assassins until her employer, Bill (David Carradine), and other members of the group turn against her and have her shot. Five years later, she awakens from her coma. She heads off around the world seeking revenge with plans to kill each person involved, saving Bill for the grand finale.
Take it from Quentin Tarantino to take what is essentially a simple, and pretty standard revenge story and give it the style that harks back to the good old days of 70′s kung-fu action movies, spiced up with many other random styles that Quentin just feels like throwing in there.
What I loved most about this flick was how the fighting, action, and blood were filled with so much energy and were better than half of the shit I’ve seen in the past 10 years, that I wanted more of it. Right from the beginning we get a nice little fight between The Bride and her second target on her list and it seems goofy because of all of the swooshing you hear when they move, but it’s so vicious and so brutal that it’s hard to laugh especially when these chicks are very close to just gutting the other person out. It’s a very minor scene but it’s one that starts the film off on the right foot and the action just keeps getting better by getting more vicious, more violent, and a hell of a lot more bloody. The blood is insane in this flick and it may be a bit ridiculous how Tarantino just makes every single kill have blood shoot out from these people, but it still gives this film this cool and deadly look that could only be achieved with an R-rating. Actually, it’s more of a very hard R-rating, one that only Tarantino can get because he’s the freakin’ man.
As we always get with Tarantino flicks, there are plenty of homages and influences seen here and they all work perfectly. The whole film is basically one big kung-fu movie that reminded me of the days when I would just sit home and watch all of these Bruce Lee flicks where he would be either taking on 50 dudes at once (no homo), or he would be getting kicked in the chest by one of Lew Alcindor’s big feet. I can definitely tell that Tarantino did the same thing when he was a little kiddy and his inspiration just runs throughout this whole flick with a giddy and original feel to it. However, it’s not just kung-fu movies that this flick seems to be harking back to, you get a bunch of blaxploitation homages, spaghetti western moments where the score is just over-powering, a random ass anime scene that may seem weird but is just as brutal as the rest of the flick, and even a little bit of nods to his own previous work such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I don’t know how he does it but Tarantino is the master at taking everything he knows and loves about movies, and putting them all into one crazy and madly original flick.
There was only problem I had with this flick and it was one semi-cheap scene where we see Bill in the classic villain mold which is a bit unnecessary. I don’t really think I’m giving too much away talking about this scene but it shows one of Bill’s associates, Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), sneaking into The Bride’s hospital room about ready to poison her while she’s sleeping. However, at the last second Bill calls it all off, saying that she “deserves better than that”. I thought that this was kind of a cheat way just for the story to continue and to show the reason why The Bride continued to live on and basically cause havoc to everybody on the planet. Also, wouldn’t a real assassin know how ruthless she is? So why wouldn’t he just off her right then and there? Regardless though, it’s only one scene but it still was at least the only negative I could come up with.
Uma Thurman is the perfect choice as The Bride because she just fits that deadly and sexy look so well. Uma is tall, sexy, blond, sweet, great to look at, but she can also be very scary and look like she’ll be hugging you one second like a sweetheart and then chopping your head off the next like the vicious killer she actually is. It also helps that her story is very easy to get behind because the chick was practically left for dead by all of these people and who wouldn’t want to get some good old revenge? Tarantino knows how to make great characters for leading ladies and it’s definitely one of the rare occasions where I actually found myself scared of a female character in quite some time.
The film really only focuses on two villains here (Vivica A. Fox and Lucy Liu) and they are both very good at playing these evil roles, especially Liu who I think had her best performance ever in this flick. She plays O-Ren Ishii and is one of those samurai sword waving villains that you always see in the kung-fu movies and seem cheesy as hell but never do you take them as seriously as you take this chick. Liu plays this character very well because she’s very quiet a lot of the times and more or less let’s her killing do the speaking for her. It’s a shame that Liu hasn’t really gotten the right roles after this but I guess that’s what usually happens to you when your biggest blockbuster hit was Charlie’s Angels.
Consensus: Kill Bill: Volume 1 shows Tarantino in top-form with a style that is bloody, violent, vicious, and shows every single one of his influences in a way that not only shows what he loves but also creates a wholly original flick on its own. Definitely can’t wait to see Volume 2.
Actors always fall for clerks from a place called Piggly Wiggly. They always do.
Actor Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel) just wanted to promote his new movie when he agreed to go on a date with a fan as a stunt. When he ends up falling in love with the winner — Rosalie (Kate Bosworth), a grocery store clerk at a small-town Piggly Wiggly — all bets are off. But Rosalie’s co-worker and best pal, Pete (Topher Grace), won’t let her go without a fight. Who will win Rosalie’s affections — the actor or the boy next door?
Rom-coms can be really annoying sometimes, but there are usually other times when they make 90 minutes of formula seem not so bad after all. This one is sort of like them.
The one thing that this film has going for itself is that it is pretty funny and charming thanks to script by Victor Levin. There’s some funny moments here and there that surprisingly worked even though I think they were placed in the wrong film, and the great use it had for its character seem very well-done as well because all seemed very fleshed out.
However, the problem with this film that I had other than the formula, was that a lot of it just feels way too cheesy and not so believable. I never understood what about this girl touched Tad Hamilton so much to the point of where he wanted to just leave Hollywood after all and be with her. I mean they have a date that seems nice and cute, but they don’t really talk about much that would seem totally mind-boggling for a famous actor and nothing stands out for her either. She’s just plain, good-looking, and somebody he did not sleep with on a first-date and maybe that’s why he wants her so much.
The plot cliches didn’t really bother me that much until the last 30 minutes where I think this film really starts to become a big eye-roller. There’s a lot of sappy and cliche speeches that these characters give to one another, and the music that takes over it almost every time is over-bearing and just adds to the whole corniness of this film.
I also think that this film was trying to aim this for such a younger audience then it seemed like they had because a lot of the kids don’t talk like kids and seem like they’re still in high-school, even though they’re old enough to drink? I didn’t understand this and I think the film was marketed towards the wrong peeps which is why it didn’t do so well at the box-office.
The cast of this film is what kept me watching in the end, and really added a lot more fun to the film. Kate Bosworth is very good as this pretty and cute girl that seems likable enough for two completely different guys to love, but there was nothing about her that really stood-out amongst any other female in other rom-coms. Josh Duhamel is also very cool and charming as Tad Hamilton, this actor who come’s at a cross-roads in his life, but I just never really understood why he wanted to let everything go because of this chick. Topher Grace is probably the funniest part of this whole film as Pete because he’s essentially playing Eric Forman but his constant nerdy banter and remarks made me laugh every time.
Consensus: Though Win A Date With Tad Hamilton! has some funny and charming moments, thanks to its script and good cast, there isn’t much else that stands out other than a not very believable premise happening and some terribly sappy moments by the end of the film.
Also everybody, whenever you get a chance go on over to http://thefocusedfilmographer.com/2012/01/17/its-time-to-vote-tuesday-83-the-red-web-awards/ and vote for The Red Web Awards. I contributed so make sure to vote for some of my picks as well. Thanks!
How oblivious can people be?!?!
Two married couples (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern, Peter Krause and Naomi Watts) who have been close friends for years find that dynamic irrevocably changed when two of them (Ruffalo and Watts) have an affair. Things get even more complicated when their spouses find out and have an affair of their own.
Director John Curran, who directed Stone, seems like he does the same thing with both films. He has great stars in their roles, interesting enough premise, and shows early promise, but then he soon loses it all. Here, he doesn’t quite lose everything but still too much than I expected.
Right from the get-go you know this film is just going to be confrontational, tense, and a tad awkward by how these two married couples inter-act with each other, and to be honest, it gets almost worse in a way. There are times when the arguments here seem so realistic and honest that it’s at a point where I wondered if the writing team behind this all just cheated on their wives at one point and had these actual conversations.
The film also does a good job at not taking sides. We get to see everybody’s view-point on all this “screwing around” and each one seems pretty reasonable. It was also a very detailed look into how each spouse treats each other differently, which can be both good and bad, but usually the later. It was kind of sad to see these people actually not care about these infidelities until it’s almost too late and the damage has already just about been done. It’s sad to see this but at the same time, very good to see because it’s believable and a film like this, definitely needed that.
However, Curran starts to get a little too carried away here and this is where I think the film falls apart. He has these random little moments of silence and odd imagery that is supposed to create some sort of background into these people’s lives and show the impact of this infidelity it has on these couples. To me, this seemed really annoying because I didn’t know what Curran was trying to get across and I wish they actually focused more on the scenes of these people having realistic arguments, which may seem a little odd for me to say but it would have worked if they had more.
There were also moments here where the film I think had times where it just dragged on and on with nothing really exciting happening. The film just feels like it moves along a steady pace with nothing really happening other than these couples being awkward with each other, and not really saying anything else other than how they don’t want to get caught or anything of that cheating nature. I also realized that there is barely any humor whatsoever in this film, and some people say you have to look closer for it. However, I looked as hard as I could, I found nothing humorous here.
The cast is the real benefit of this whole film and I have to say they did a splendid job of casting as well. Mark Ruffalo is great as Jack because the whole film he just carries this look of sadness, anger, and confusion through the look of his eyes the whole movie and gives us a lot of depth for his character. Laura Dern is also great in this role as Jack’s wife, Terry, because I never knew exactly what she was going to do next and I think that is always something you need when you’re playing the always upset wife of a dude who’s sleeping around; Naomi Watts is also good as Edith because the whole time she seems very remorseful about her actions, but just can’t stop and shows a huge deal of sadness to her character as well; and the weak link in this cast is actually Peter Krause as Hank but not because it’s badly-acted, it’s just because Hank is such a one note character the whole time and never shows any real emotions other than just being cool I guess.
Consensus: The script shows brutal honesty, powerful characters, and some sad moments of a broken-marriage, but We Don’t Live Here Anymore suffers from moments that just seem too far-fetched and others that don’t entertain as much as they do just depress the viewer.
Maybe there are some chicks that I wanted out of my memory, maybe….
After learning that his mercurial ex-girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), has undergone an experimental medical process to purge all memories of him, mild-mannered Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) opts for the same procedure. But during the operation, he decides he doesn’t want to lose what’s left of their relationship and tries to conceal her image in his memory cells.
The script here is done by Charlie Kaufman, who has done scripts for films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, so already you know this is going to be some crazy shit. And crazy shit, is exactly what you get here.
The one thing about this script that separates itself from other romantic comedies is that this is painfully honest at times. The sci-fi premise is used as a metaphor as to whether or not we would be better off eliminating that heartbreak from our lives. The fact is that we need heartbreak to learn from it and make sure not to make the same mistake again, and thus it makes us the person we are today. This script really does show love in a beautiful yet painful way because this love that Joel and Clementine has, isn’t a pretty one. This love/relationship isn’t one of those instant love-at-first-sight kind of deals, it’s more that for almost every single great memory of Joel and Clementine there is an equally painful one, one that I wouldn’t want, but not every single relationship a person has, is going to always be happy-go-lucky. This script is just so beautiful and breathtakingly honest because it shows that people change over time, and no matter how much you have your mind want to believe that truly do hate that other person, your heart will never forget that one person. I know it may sound cheesy and a little schmaltzy, but the way the film tells this fact, is just beautiful.
Let’s not also forget that another reason as to why this film works, director Michel Gondry. I don’t know how Gondry took a look at this script and came up with this piece of beauty, but I have to say he absolutely makes every single scene here, his own. Since this takes place in the mind, and as we all know, a lot of crazy things happen inside of our minds, Gondry has the opportunity to let some real trippy stuff happen on screen. The visuals are amazing and are amazing without hardly any use of CG special effects. There’s a lot of beautiful lighting tricks, setting movements, and just overall breath-taking scenes that take us inside of the mind, and give us this wonderful fantasy that life really is something you can’t imagine.
The cast here is also something to praise. Jim Carrey gets rid of his goofy faces, and give us a spot-on performance as the quiet, sweet, and endearing Joel. Carrey owns this performance because he has you believe that somebody this serious could actually have the type of relationship he has with Clementine, and go through all the things he does to keep her in his mind forever. Kate Winslet is almost even better as the eccentric and quirky Clementine, who actually carries her character into being more than just that zany chick, that is almost too hard to believe. Winslet is hilariously likable in this role, but at the same time believable, and wins the crowd over almost throughout the whole film. The rest of the cast in this film is good with the likes of Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, and the always reliable, Tom Wilkinson.
Consensus: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is twisty and trippy, but beautifully filmed, with a brutally honest script that shows heartbreak as something in life we always need, no matter how painful, or rewarding. Perfect film all around for anyone who wants to get inside a mind, and possibly get inside their own. I wish I could say more about this film and it’s utter greatness, it’s just one of those things you have to see to believe.
Happy Friday everyone!
I still think Jamie Foxx should have won the Oscar for Booty Call.
Jamie Foxx stars as rhythm and blues legend Ray Charles, who lost his eyesight after contracting glaucoma at age 6. Despite a hardscrabble upbringing in Albany, Ga. and repeated struggles with racism, romantic letdowns — and his own heroin abuse — Charles went on to become a world-famous pianist and performer.
Now to be honest I have never been a real listener of Ray Charles, but I won’t lie when I say that by the end of this film I didn’t want just blast out “What I’d Say” right away.
This is a great rock biopic because it shows us the man behind the music without ever leaving a single story out, good and bad. I got to see this man for everything that he was and everything that he wasn’t. (Apologies for the cliché.)
He was a music genius that blended all sorts of music such as country, R&B, soul, blues, and even gospel music. But he was also a heroin junkie for the longest time and missed out on plenty of opportunities with his wife and kids, as well as not being able to keep it in the pants on the road. You don’t get too many biopics that are as frank as this one and I have to say good job to director Taylor Hackford for that.
To go along with the story which works so well in the first place too, is the actual music that is performed many upon many times in this film and just makes you want to dance. Hits like Unchain My Heart, What I’d Say, I Got a Woman, Georgia On My Mind, Hit the Road Jack, and much more are played and just had me so enjoyed by what I was hearing and seeing. Your feet will tap, your fingers will snap, and your head will nod. It’s almost surprising that this dude didn’t invent rap while he was at it.
However, my problem with this film is that it does try to cover too much ground and goes on for way too long. This film is almost 2 hours and 33 minutes, which to me, kind of felt like a stretch considering that we were already an hour in the film and we didn’t even get to the part where he got signed to the really big label (ABC) just yet. I mean everything else held me over, but with two-and-a-half hour time limit, there could have been some cutting down here and there.
Let me also not forget just how abrupt the film actually ended because although I liked how it finally went out and everything, I just felt like it went on so long, covering all this ground, and then to just finally end so abruptly, with leaving plenty of questions unanswered, really made me mad because I knew there was a better way they could have ended it. Not to say that I would be a good director with this material, but I could have made it worked a bit better than Hackford had it.
The real show to see here though, is none other than Jamie Foxx as the man of the two hours and 30 minutes I already talked about, Ray Charles. Before production began, Ray auditioned Jamie, jamming for two hours on the piano and was so happy that he stood up, hugged himself and said, “He’s the one… he can do it.” And boy was Ray not wrong one bit. Foxx just seems so happy to play Charles and fully finds himself within this almost larger-than-life figure. Foxx keeps the energy going throughout almost every scene he has and when he’s actually playing those songs, it seems so real and you feel as if you’re not just watching Jamie Foxx do an impersonation of Ray Charles, you’re actually watching Ray Charles himself. Glad to see this guy actually win the Oscar, he deserved it! The rest of the cast is pretty good too with names like Terrence Howard, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, and Regina King.
Consensus: Though it goes on too long and has its deals of flaws, Ray is a fun and exciting take on a musical legend, that isn’t made out to be some sort of God, and more of a real person with real problems, that is played just so perfectly by Jamie Foxx. If you like music, you will like this!
Even though I’m not a wine drinker (under-age, holla!) I must say that I really did wanna have some by the end of this.
Pinot noir lover Miles (Paul Giamatti) convinces his soon-to-be-married friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) to enjoy his last days of bachelorhood in style. But the pair end up choosing women (Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen) over wine.
What we have here is something that writer/director Alexander Payne is great at: creating human characters, and putting in them in funny but realistic situations. Not the man’s best, but still great stuff.
Payne writes this film really well because he puts a lot of humor into his plot and characters. There’s a lot to be said here about a guy that can use wine-tasting as a romantic dramedy premise, and not make it seem goofy at all. It’s about how these two best-friends, that are totally opposite and were college freshman roommates, are going through a mid-life crises, and honestly don’t have any idea what to do with themselves. There’s a lot of great one-liners, and great scenes as well, but the real heart of the film is the fact that it all has a purpose. You can’t give up on life, or love for that matter, no matter how much it gets you down. If that means having a whole bunch of pinot noir to drink your all your pains away, then so be it, but just understand that life isn’t such a sad place after all.
My only problem with this film is not so much the film itself, it’s just that I don’t quite think I know that much about what this film was targeting for. I’m only 18 and haven’t really had my mid-life crisis just yet, or not that I know of, and I can’t really say that this film spoke louder than words to me, like it did to many others. Once again, I thought that the writing was great, but once again, not really for me since I’m still quite a youngling.
The best element to this whole film is that it is a character study and I loved characters, and the actors that portray them. Paul Giamatti is perfectly cast as Miles, the neurotic social misfit that he always plays so well. He’s dark, depressing, and always gloomy about something, but he isn’t an annoyance, and Giamatti plays him so well he because he makes him likable and all the same believable. When this guy is talking to you about wine, you believe it, and you feel like you know that this guy knows what he’s talking about and it’s just all so natural. At times, he may seem like kind of a deuche, but if you look at it like this, he’s the only one that has any bit of sense here, the only problem is that he just doesn’t know how to put a smile on. I must say that I thought that Jack the character was kind of a dick, but Thomas Haden Church plays him so well, that I almost forget about all the terrible stuff he does. He’s a liar, cheater, and asshole, but at the same time he’s the perfect example of The Man. He is just that dude that is so hunky, and such a tool, that by the end of the night he always ends up going home with a chick, no matter what promises he made, or what he even said for that matter. Haden Church brings out some of the best lines here, and really does do a great job with showing how such a dickhead of a character, can be likable if you have enough charm and wit. Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh are great as the two supporting ladies, and their scenes with these two dudes feel realistic, and believable even though they are kind of hotter than both. Not that I’m judging or anything……..
Consensus: This is aimed at a certain audience, but you can’t resist Sideways’ the terrific performances from the cast, especially the funny, insightful, and often touching screenplay that will either having you crave some merlot, taking a trip to California, or just going through life with a smile.
Now I know more about history.
In 1193 B.C., the love-struck Prince Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) kidnaps legendary beauty Helen (Diane Kruger) from her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, setting the two nations on a fast-and-sure collision course for war and bloodshed. The Greeks, including Achilles (Brad Pitt), marshal their entire armada, sail to Troy and begin a decade-long siege. Eric Bana plays Hector, the leader of the Trojan forces, and Sean Bean is the wily Ulysses.
I’m not a huge reader of old Greek mythology, but I know my way around it. However, due to this film, I may want to give them all a second reading.
This film is really great to look at, and you do have a fun time. The set pieces and costumes are extremely beautiful, and you almost feel as if you are in ancient Greece watching all these battles go on. The battle sequences are awesome. If you love watching bows fly in the sky, and swords be thrown around like frisbees, then this is definitely the film for you cause the violence here is down-right bangin’.
The problem with this film is that when all the action is not going on, there really isn’t much else to this film to keep you entertained for long. I thought that the script was pretty lame, and there are a lot of lines that seem cheesy and cliche.
You also can’t really connect to these characters cause the film is more about the events happening, and less about the actual people involved. The film doesn’t really give you an idea as to who the bad, and the guys are, and it’s not that you can make up that assumption for yourself, the film doesn’t really let you in to figure that out. So by the ending, I didn’t feel any real connection to these characters, and their fates were kind of not as important to me. These actual historical figures seem more of action hero cliches rather than actual people, and that’s the problem cause you could have actually rooted behind some of these people if the film just let you. But you are never really given that chance.
The acting for me here was pretty good. Brad Pitt is oddly in this film, and it seems kind of strange, but I think this was his days before Angelina, so it’s kind of understandable that his career didn’t really pick up just yet. He’s good as Achillies and actually brings a charm to his character that I wasn’t expecting him to do with such a cheesy script, but that just proves his skills as an actor. I also liked Eric Bana as well, and thought that his performance as Hector, brought a lot of emotion to the film that it needed. Orlando Bloom was kind of a downer for me, cause his performance isn’t that good, and his character is even worse. I don’t know what he was trying to do here, but being compelling surely wasn’t one of them. Diane Kruger is alright in this film as well as Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Peter O’Toole, and the always reliable Brian Cox.
Consensus: It’s beautiful to look at, and the action is exciting, but the film’s bad script, keeps Troy away from the emotional resonance that could have actually helped the film be more than just a standard action movie.
If my boss was honestly Eric, I would probably end up quitting right away.
An ad salesman, Dan (Dennis Quaid), must take a junior position after a corporate shakedown. Worse, he now reports to a much younger boss, Carter (Topher Grace), a business school grad who espouses a sales approach branded Synergy that’s at odds with Dan’s old-school style. Although they don’t see eye to eye, the two must get along, a mandate made more difficult when Carter becomes smitten with Dan’s daughter (Scarlett Johansson).
This is a very unusual film to say the least. In some respects it’s a buddy movie. In others, it’s a romantic comedy. In still others, it’s a drama about the work-place. This was all my problem with the film, cause I don’t think it quite knew what it wanted to be. There’s a lot of romance in here, as well as sad moments of people being “let go”, or these two dudes hating on each other. I thought the film’s constant changing between these ideas annoyed me, cause it never really came out coherent enough.
However the tone is what in the end, won me over. There is just a certain type of charm to this script, because it’s not trying too hard to be likable, it just is. There is a real sense of comedy within this film that works, and brings a lot of smiles to the faces of those watching, but the whole film is just so well-handled that it’s hard not to like this film.
Not only is there a great deal of comedy, but the film also touches on such themes very well like the corporate culture, marriage, people losing their jobs, and a relationship between a father and daughter. They all are touched on so well, and although the film isn’t trying to have you crying in your seats, you can’t help but to have that warm feeling inside.
Dennis Quaid is great in this lead role as Dan, who does what he always does best, and plays the strong man that doesn’t take no for an answer. But he starts to realize that his career may be fading away, and accepts this fact, and we support him as the film goes on. Topher Grace is good at playing Carter, and really does hold his weight in this film much to my surprise. The scenes with him and Quaid work well, cause you can feel a genuine chemistry somewhere underneath all those weird, and awkward looks. Also, let’s not forget to mention Scarlett Johansson who does a good job supporting job as Alex, Dan’s daughter. She’s get a lot of ish talked on her for not being a good actress, but I think she’s very good here and doesn’t try to do anything crazy at all.
Consensus: It’s change of story may bother some, but the overall charming and likable tone, will appeal to others, as well as its great performances from the cast.
Whoever thought New Jersey was so depressing??
Having just weaned himself off antidepressants, Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff, who also directs) returns to his New Jersey hometown after a decade away to attend his mother’s funeral and slowly begins to see his life in a new light. In the process, he confronts his psychologist father (Ian Holm) and forges a connection with a new friend (Natalie Portman).
Garden State is one of those films, that all 20 somethings in today’s world have always quoted and loved. Hell even my best friend’s sister, danced with her husband, at her wedding, to a song from this movie. I never understood all of the freakin’ hype until now.
Zach Braff does a great job in his debut directing/writing job. There is a lot of insight in here about how wonderful, and grand life is, but yet, it’s so short, that you shouldn’t take it for granted, and live out every second of it. Many films I know, have this same message, but the way Braff shows it, and doesn’t over play it, that it stays fresh, and it actually hits you, especially by the end.
The film kind of annoyed me a bit with its quirky stuff, but at times I didn’t mind it. I did actually laugh at a lot of this, and made me realize that all of this may be how real people actually can be. There is a great sense of alienation that Braff feels with these people around him, and we feel that, not just through his character, but from the direction he puts the film in. I liked the soundtrack, and a lot of it fits in with the film and it’s moments so well.
Probably the best thing about Garden State and why it’s going to live on forever, is these characters that Braff creates. Yeah, their crazy, and yeah, their not all that believable. But, their lovable, and you can’t shy away from the fact that they entertain the hell out of you. Largeman is in Garden State for a couple of days, and it’s great to be on this ride with him, because the characters are fun, quirky, and overall, just downright hilarious. Zach Braff does a great job of making his character the biggest loner in the beginning of the film, and then having him totally change, and become this fun, free-loving dude. Braff goes way past his Scrubs days with this one. Natalie Portman plays one of the best characters she’s ever played since Closer, and that’s saying a lot. Her portrayal as a slightly neurotic, compulsive liar who’s wackiness becomes very disarming (not an easy task), is worthy of high praise, mostly because her and Braff are fun to watch on screen, and their chemistry doesn’t feel forced or anything, it’s genuine fondness of one another’s personalities. Ian Holm is also good here, as the father that still holds a lot against Braff, and he has a good scene. Peter Sarsgaard is as usual, good, and brings a lot to his character, as the grave-digger, who we always wonder if he should be trusted or not. Also, be on the look out for a random cameo from Method Man. Always great to see him in random ish.
Basically, Garden State is a great film for anybody who likes feel-good romantic dramedies. That hit the core of the heart the right way. It makes you think about life, as well as makes you laugh about it, and just possibly have you thinking differently about it.