Now, all who’s left to find is that damn Star Wars Kid.
Although it was originally intended as an inside joke among co-workers, a video of a Winnebago salesman yelling, screaming, and cursing during a shooting for his new commercial spread across the globe like wild-fire. First, it was on VHS tape, then went straight to YouTube, and finally, the whole world. All of this notorious fame earned Jack Rebney the title of “The Angriest Man in the World”. The documentary explores the story of the clip’s origin and how, two decades later, it affects the man who never even knew it existed.
Before I get into this review, you got to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you have never, ever seen the “Winnebago Man” video, ever, then get your ass on over to Youtube, check it out, laugh your ass off, and get back over here.
Okay, solid stuff. Now that you know what all of the fuss is about, I can finally delve deeper into what this documentary really explores.
To be brutally honest, I thought that video was pretty funny back in the day. You know, because it’s all about a simple guy, who’s probably been having the worst day of his life, screams, curses, swats at flies, tries to figure out what the hell the word “accountrement” means, and just yells at every single person who dares walk into his wrath. That stuff was hilarious when I was in 5th grade, when it first came out, but now I’ll just watch it, laugh from time-to-time and that’s just about it. However, this director Ben Steinbauer, really found this stuff not only to be funny, but almost life-changing in a way and it’s surprising to see a guy get over-taken with so much joy and inspiration, by a guy who just drops F-bombs the whole video. But I have to give it to this guy, because he really goes all out in trying to find this Jack Rebney, and even if I wasn’t totally on-board with finding this guy; I have to say that it was a pretty interesting ride in and of itself.
That’s actually where the whole charm of this movie comes into play: through Jack Rebney himself. This is one of those behind-the-scenes, insider-looks at a guy that everybody knows, loves, laughs at, and wants to meet, but hasn’t been seen ever since this video first came on the Y-tube. It’s interesting to see where this guy went, how he looks at the world, what he thinks of the term “internet celebrity”, and also see if this guy really is THAT pissed off all of the damn time. And it’s surprising to see, but yes, this guy really is as miserable in real life as we see him in that video. He’s cranky, he’s old, he’s pissed off at everybody around him for no good reason, but he’s not all that bad of a dude.
I was pretty interested in seeing what was going on with this guy behind those closed doors, but it wasn’t like I was asking for a documentary about this. Then again, what I got to see of Rebney was pretty cool because this guy is somehow able to be a total old fart, with all of his curses and insults, but still be able to be loved by over 50 Y-tube lovers in a room and probably more all over the world. What’s even crazier is that Rebney doesn’t change his personality once and it’s a surprise to see a guy that can be such a miserable git at some points, still have the love and adoration from millions and millions of people all over the globe. Not everything Rebney says is funny, that’s for sure, but when he is pissed off for no reason, it makes you chuckle here and there. Plus, by the end, when you actually see him confront his “internet celebrity” status, it’s actually pretty interesting to see since the guy has pretty much locked himself away from the world for the past 30 years. Wasn’t really begging to see where this guy went with his life and how he was doing, but it’s pretty cool to see what actually does happen to a normal dude that just so happened to be in the right mood, at the right time, at the right place, and in front of the right camera.
However, once you get past Rebney, you start to realize that there isn’t really anything else to this flick other than seeing what happened to one of the first V-list celebrities. Granted, it’s pretty cool to see where Rebney is mentally and physically in life, but we never get to know much about him other than he used to be a writer for CBS and left on his own terms. That stuff actually was interesting, but the film never dives deep into that probably cause this director seemed like he was too afraid to go for the hard and heavy line-of-questioning. He sort of just lets Rebney rant and rave throughout the whole film, which is fine because that’s who he is, but I kind of wanted to know what makes this guy tick (pretty much everything), and just more about him in general. Maybe there was TOO much love and adoration on Steinbauer’s part. Just maybe.
Also, I couldn’t help but think that this documentary is a bit mean-spirited in some of its own ways. Think about it for a second: you’re alone, happy in your life of solitude, free to do whatever you want, have the world all to yourself, have your own little doggy to keep you company, own rifles for protection, and just no real bother from the outside world. Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well, it was for Rebney, who seemed pretty effin’ glad to be living the way he was. That is until Mr. Director had to bring his simple-minded ass up there and bother the poor, old guy. I get that this kid wants to meet “his inspiration for life” and will stop at nothing to do so, but really; think about what that guy wants. I highly doubt Rebney wanted anybody bothering him in his peaceful life, and it’s kind of rude when you think about how this director just walks himself into poor Rebney’s life, without Rebney able to stick up for himself and tell him to beat it. Poor Jack Rebney. I just hope that he’s feeling free and relaxing on his own terms now. Just hope he stays the eff away from that little punk, Ben Steinbauer!
Consensus: Winnebago Man is the type of documentary that’s interesting because of what the human-mind wants to, and must know in order to feel some sort of relief after laughing at this poor, old guy after all of these years. However, it doesn’t seem to go any further other than the fact that dude’s just a slightly-senile, cranky person that wants to be left alone, and probably should have been for the sake of his own health.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
I think big brother Ben may be a whole lot nicer now.
Sheriff Deputy Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) has a bunch of problems. Woman problems. Law enforcement problems. An ever-growing pile of murder victims in his West Texas jurisdiction. However, he gets so caught-up with one of his victims, that it throws him a curve to the point of where he’s getting closer and closer to being found out. It’s only a matter of time until he loses total control.
Serial killer movies are hard to do. Sometimes, they can be lovable right from the start (American Psycho). While other times, they can totally miss their mark and be something you’d much rather not waste your time in watching (Mr. Brooks). This falls somewhere in between.
This is a film directed by Michael Winterbottom, a guy who seems all over the place when it comes to his films with comedic picks like 24 Hour Party People, to soft-core porno flicks like 9 Songs, and then to dark drama’s like A Might Heart. Basically, this guy has no real genre and that’s pretty neat. He doesn’t have any real sense of distinctive style or look, but he brings a lot of zealous-energy to everything he chooses, it’s almost too hard to talk bad about anything that he does. But that’s also why I liked this movie because he brings something atmospheric and moody to it all. He definitely has the perfect feel for the dark, hot American West because he shows it in such a noir style that really pulls you in from the start. There is a story to be told here, but this is more all about one dark, sinister trip into the mind of a psycho where everything starts off bad, goes to worse, gets better, and then just gets even more worse than before. Great job from Winterbottom, as he definitely makes up for the movie’s big faults.
Those big faults I’m talking about, lie within the story here. The story actually starts off pretty strong because you feel like you know where it’s going to go and build-up from there, but the problem is that the story isn’t as interesting as you may have mapped it out in your head. Some parts are cool and interesting once we see inside the mind of our closet killer, but whenever that doesn’t happen, the film focuses on how Lou tries to hide away from all of the accusations that are being thrown at him and curiosities he can smell off of everybody he’s around. This isn’t nearly as interesting as the stuff that goes on inside of his head and instead of being thrilling and unpredictable, the actual mystery tale is just there to provide a story for our lead.
Now, to my real problem with this film. In case you haven’t already heard about this flick: this flick is really, really fucked up. Without getting into any spoiler area, two disturbing acts of violence happen to two main characters here and the one thing that really got me here was that the camera never once pans away from it. In today’s world of movie violence, most stuff doesn’t phase me or even get to me because 9 times out of 10; it’s usually just shock value, done for the sake of shock value. That’s never worked on me and probably never will but the violence here feels real and needed to enhance the story, as if it almost pertains to the story and the way this guy feels and thinks. However, I think that’s my biggest problem with this flick.
I can’t really say that I hold anything against this film for showing me some violence that was disturbing, but I can say that it definitely made me think differently about it all because those were the only things left in my mind about this film. It’s some hard stuff to swallow, and as good as the rest of the film may be, I couldn’t help but keep on bringing my mind back to those violent scenes. It’s not like it doesn’t fix well with everything else, it just stuck in my mind more than all else happening. Still, have to give Winterbottom the benefit of the doubt for not panning away once during these scenes and making us actually see the brutality of these grim scenes. On the other hand, I think it also got to me after awhile and may have been more memorable than the actual flick itself. Good for some movies; not good for this.
Actually, he second most memorable aspect of this flick would probably have to go to Casey Affleck and his amazing performance as Lou Ford. It’s obvious, right from the start, that Lou has some pretty fucked up ideas in his head but somehow, Affleck is able to make that sexy and interesting through it all. Affleck doesn’t really look like the kind of dude you could put in the role of a closeted maniac, but I think that’s why he works so well here because he’s able to be subtle about his emotions and feelings throughout the movie, but also totally show how vicious he can be when he has to turn on the “crazy meter”. Affleck has never been that actor that people have been feeling the total and complete need to see in movies, but here, he demands your undivided attention and devotion, even when his character is just sitting there, thinking of who to hack-up next. Lou Ford is a great character to watch and makes the film a whole lot better, mainly because of Affleck’s kick-ass performance. He surely has come a long way since being “Big Ben’s little bro”.
Also, I was surprised to see Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson in some pretty down-and-dirty roles that I usually wouldn’t see myself watching them in. But what was even more of a surprise was how good they actually were. They both play Ford’s main ladies and each show a different side to his love, and both work very well. Been awhile since the last time I’ve seen them actually do something worth recommending so I have to give them some love and kudos right here and now. Oh, and there’s a pretty gnarly Bill Pullman cameo here as well. Can’t ever forget about that dude.
Consensus: With a dark and grimly style to make everything moodier and strong performances from the cast, mainly a terrifying Affleck, The Killer Inside Me feels like it has all the right ingredients for a dark and sinister trip in the head of a maniac, but it’s over-shadowed by two appalling scenes of violence and the story doesn’t really grab you, unless its focusing on Affleck’s character.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Never thought I’d say this, but I needed Madea.
Being a woman can be hard, but being an African American woman living in New York City, can be even worse. We get a glimpse at nine different stories as we see them through the eyes of women who need love, feel love, feel pain, need pain, and just want to be accepted in a world that’s tearing them down. If you’re a member of the KKK, you may not want to see this, because it’s all black, ALL THE TIME, with little to no white in sight. But then again, you’d expect that coming from Tyler Perry.
No matter how much you may hate his Madea movies, or the fact that he hasn’t contributed any type of positive aspect to the world we live in, you still have to give Tyler Perry credit for keeping the black spirit alive and well, especially in today’s day and age where it almost seems like it can be made a mockery of sometimes. That’s why it seemed like a very, very ambitious step for Perry to take, and go on about adapting the 1975 play that apparently ever black women, man, or child lauded, even till this day. Ambitious is exactly what it was for Mr. Perry, and it was the ambition, the skill, or anything else for that matter, that he could handle. That’s right, folks. This here is a train wreck.
I’ve never seen the original-play, but I can already tell that it was made for the stage, and meant to stay there as well. Whatever the hell that Perry added to the mix of this movie, does not work a single bit and comes off like the guy’s trying too hard to get his point across, without surprising us or even being subtle about it. Literally, characters will be talking about their problems, and then start breaking-out into long, 5 minute metaphorical speeches about how they can’t handle being a woman, and letting the men take them down. Maybe for people that actually go through these types of problems on a day-to-day basis can relate and in a way, can have this material touch them, but even for a person like that, I don’t think this is going to work since it all seems so unbelievable.
The dialogue can be okay at times, especially when they are discussing real-life problems that all women go through everyday, not just black women, but it doesn’t get any deeper than that. It all plays out as if it was a daytime soap opera that you caught your mom or your secretly gay brother watching, and what’s even worse about that is that Perry never seems to get the hint to tone things down a notch. Nope, instead, he continues to have everybody scream, holler, yell, piss, moan, and practically beat the shit out of one another, only to show that they are angry as hell, and ain’t gonna take it anymore. Once again, maybe to some this may work and really connect with them, but I highly doubt it since Perry seems way out-of-his-league here, and that’s really saying a lot.
If anything, I have to give kudos to Perry for at least trying and being able to show us the side of black women that most of us need to see, but it actually begins to feel like the type of movie that I talked about earlier, in the way that it almost does more harm than good for the people it’s supposed to reach out towards. For instance, almost every women in this movie has a yelling scene where they can’t control their emotions, and just feel the need to let loose on one another for whatever reason they may have. That’s fine and all, but EVERYBODY at least has one or two of those scenes, and it doesn’t depict them as real-life people, it depicts them as a bunch of annoying women you can’t stand to be around, let alone be married to.
I can’t lie though, some sad shit actually does happen to most of these ladies, and I can’t say that I don’t blame them for being the least bit upset about what happens, but it gets to a point of where it’s almost as contrived as the dawnest day, where everything bad, happens for a reason. There’s always a problem with one of these women, and they always, no matter what, seem to bring it out on the others around them. Yeah, some of them are dealt a bad card and have people that treat them like crap, but the fact that they can never seem to hold their emotions and just love the one’s they’re with, doesn’t humanize them in the least bit, it just makes them seem shallow. You don’t really care for much of these women, although you do share their sympathies because like you, they are human, they have feelings, and they do have problems. However, they are problems that don’t feel genuine and coming from Tyler Perry: that’s saying a fuck load.
The only area this film comes even close to succeeding in are the performances, but once again: that’s not saying much. The problem with most of these performances, is that some are actually VERY GOOD, whereas others, are just TERRIBLY BAD. One of the performances from the first-category that I thought was worth mentioning was Janet Jackson as the upper-class wife, who owns and runs a fashion magazine, but also has problems running and owning her hubby who’s up to no good (as usual). Jackson has never really struck me as the type of gal that can act, but she does very, very well here showing us that she can be a total bitch, but also allow us to sympathize with her as well. It’s not easy, but by the end, you definitely feel like you got the full round-about of who this character is, and what she stands for in life. Other’s that do knock-out jobs with their roles are Loretta Devine as a woman who can’t seem to get control of her already-married boy-toy; Michael Ealy who does over-do it sometimes, but still keeps it grounded in-reality as one of the hubby’s that’s a bit out of control (sarcasm intended for the term “a bit”); and Phylicia Rashad as Gilda, the wise, black women who knows it all, and always love to tell others about everything she knows, even if they don’t want to hear it.
Then, we get to the second category, and that’s when things really start to run off the trail. One of the worst performances in this movie, and one that I’ve seen in awhile, is Whoopi Goldberg as the religious mother of two girls, that seems to love her religion and everything she stands for, but is wacko beyond belief. Goldberg is an Oscar winner, but none of that ever shows in this movie, because she is absolutely, freakin’ crazy, and not in the good way either. She’s always screaming about Jesus, the righteous way of living, and how to see the Lord through your eyes, but is always going about it by yelling at people, and sometimes hitting them. It would have been fine if she at least toned it down a bit, but Goldberg goes full wack-job on us and it’s as hilarious to watch, as it is compelling. After all of these years of sitting her boothang on that couch from the View, I think Whoopi got a bit rusty. And if that’s the case, then just stay the hell away from movies.
Others in the cast aren’t as bad as Whoopi, but they aren’t good either. Thandie Newton comes into a close-second by almost out-acting Whoopie, and the funny thing is that Newton is playing Whoopi’s daughter, that always has a man in her bed, and can never be real with anybody. Newton is usually a solid actress in whatever shit-pile she is in, but here, she over-does it, almost to the point of where she seems like a caricature of that ghetto, slut-gal that most women frown-upon. In fact, this is probably the only character that never learns a single thing throughout the whole damn movie, and instead, just seems like she’s going to continue to whore-around, fuck whoever she wants to fuck, and maybe, just maybe, end up with a little person in the pit of her stomach, along with a beautiful-case of AIDS. Also, shame on this movie for giving a talented and beautiful actress like Kerry Washington, nothing else to do but piss and moan about how she can’t have a baby. Seriously, just go to the freakin’ orphanage, pick up a Indonesian baby, and put a smile on. Brangelina did it, and look at them.
Consensus: Tyler Perry deserves a small-amount of kudos for trying to really break out of his shell, and go for the gut when it came to adapting a classic-play like For Colored Girls, but deserves no credit for the job that he actually pulled-off. It’s laughable, stupid, shallow, does nothing for the group of people it’s speaking for, and even worse, makes you feel like all of these talented-actresses that took this material, were a little too busy to take any roles in Precious, so instead, decided to go with a shit-ass script and movie like this. Shame on all of you, especially you, Mr. Perry.
1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!
Does staying at-home and going to community college count as the same experience?
Lena Dunham plays a Aura, a twentysomething gal who just broke-up with her boyf, lost her inspiration of what to do in life, and is now living with her artist mother and little sister. Aura is finding it hard to make sense of the world that she’s living in, mostly because she feels like she should be doing more with her life, and just isn’t. It’s a whole bunch of post-collegiate problems that nobody cares about, except for white people. We eat that shit up.
Here’s the type of flick I automatically expected to hate going in, but had the exact-opposite feeling afterwards. Here I was thinking that this was just another mumblecore movie where a bunch of people say and do quirky things, all for the fun and entertainment of people that love this type of stuff and why? Oh, because it’s an “indie movie” and their allowed to get away with all of that junk. This movie isn’t one of those that I rant against, and that’s all thanks to Lena Dunham, who, as you all know by now, is pretty much “The Shit”.
Dunham not only starred in this flick, but she directed and wrote it, and that self-reliance of knowing one’s self is what shines through the brightest here. The direction is nothing new, flashy, or original that won’t have you going crazy over night, but the screenplay is exactly that. Actually, I wouldn’t even say that the screenplay itself is anything new, flashy, or original, it’s just simple. But it’s so simple that it works and feels like real-life, where real people speak to one another, in a sometimes quirky-fashion, but still works because you believe in everything and everybody in the movie. You could totally tell that whatever the hell Dunham went through once she got out of college, is all packed into this screenplay for us all to see and hear, and that brutal honesty is what resonated with me the most because sometimes I feel like Aura, or Dunham for that matter.
Granted, I’m not necessarily in the same position as Aura is where she has a post-college life and is just trying to get her foot on the ground, but still, if you have ever felt lonely, sad, or just not able to make sense of the things around you, then this is most likely the type of film that you want to see because it will feel real and honest to you, almost as much as it did to me. Aura isn’t a walking-stereotype of the person that can’t seem to get her shit together, shut the hell up, and move on with her life, but just a person who thought she had it all, and got it snatched-away from her in a single second, without an idea of what the hell to do. I’m sure that I speak for most of us out there and say that yes, we have all felt like that at least during one point of our lives. If not, you gotta start living, man!
As much as I may make this movie seem like a total debbie-downer, that isn’t what Dunham’s all about. She’s about showing us the crazy-situations we roll through in life, and just how we can get by them just by being ourselves. You can not only tell that Dunham is her original-self through the script and direction, but through her performance as well. There’s this certain essence of just being plain, original, and nothing but the truth that feels more realistic than anything else in this movie, and made me wonder how much of it she was acting. Dunham obviously isn’t the hottest bean in the soup, but I don’t think she cares about that and neither should we. She absolutely gets by on just being herself and telling others to shove it, which is what I always love in my women, especially my leading-actresses. Dunham’s “no-charm” act is what probably what makes her so charming in the first-place and I can’t wait to see what she has to do next for film, whenever she gets a break from Girls.
The rest of the cast is filled with a bunch of no-names, but each and everyone are just like Dunham in the way that they feel emotionally-honest and true, almost to the point of where it doesn’t seem like they’re acting. The fact that Dunham cast her real-life mommy and sissy was really smart and builds up a sweet-chemistry between them all that fits within the context of the story, and shows you that even if you do get in fights with your fam and have disagreements, at least you can always go back to them because no matter what; they love you underneath it all. I know I would never be able to make a movie with anybody from my fam, but hey, good for Lena. Sure she makes them all proud. Once again, nothing flashy, new, or original, but they all nail their roles and show what it’s like to be young, a bit wild, a bit nasty, a bit grumpy, a bit free, but always dumb with the things they do or say. As I said before, I think I speak for everybody else out there when I say, we all know exactly what that means.
The only problem that I actually felt with Dunham’s movie is that I feel like it goes on and on and on for so long (an hour and 39 minutes, okay), but never really has much of a point. Maybe I missed the point when I was laughing my ass off at the humor that Dunham has, but the overall-message of this movie seemed to be lost as soon as that wacky and surprising third-act comes into play, and we realize it’s a bit more serious than we expected. However, even if it is serious, I still never really felt like I knew quite where Dunham was getting at with this story or what she was trying to say. Being with family is great? Being with family sucks? Love your parents even if they piss you off? Don’t have unprotected sex? I don’t know what, but the main message of this movie seemed to be skewered out of nowhere, and it didn’t really hit me as hard as the rest of the movie. That being said, it was still a pretty good movie that just so happened to have the unfortunate problem of not knowing what to say, mean, or end.
Consensus: Tiny Furniture is one of those loose, simple, sweet, and to the point movies where the story happens right in front of your eyes where people act like people, things are done, and words are exchanged, but at the end of the day: that’s just life, yo.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Lil’ Jon should have at least scored the soundtrack, if anything.
For years, townsfolk have been terrified of the backwoods recluse known as Felix Bush (Robert Duvall). Then, one day, Felix rides to town with a shotgun and a wad of cash, saying he wants to buy a funeral. It’s not your usual funeral for the dead Felix wants. On the contrary, he wants a “living funeral,” in which anyone who ever had heard a story about him will come to tell it, while he takes it all in.
Simple movies are never that bad, and when you have an idea about a dude planning a living-funeral, it makes a simple movie seem pretty cool, yet still simple. Director Aaron Schneider definitely knows the type of material he’s working with as he sets the mood, sets the pace, sets the characters, and sets the ideas of what we come to expect with movies like these, but in the end, they are all simple and for some, that may not be so bad, but for me, it is. Well, sort of.
See, as much as I liked this flick and felt like it delivered on what it was going for, I also feel like a lot of what could have really hit me hard here, just didn’t. For instance, the script is pretty weak whereas not only does it seem like these people do the usual, “talk-like-a-bunch-of-goofy-Southerners”-speak, but they also try too hard to make people laugh and none of it ever feels like actual humor. I mean, yeah, watching a hermit who lives out in the middle of the woods, invite a dude from the town in for a nice pot of rabbit can be a tad humorous but it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t seen before and I think that’s what the deal is with this whole film.
We never get to see anything new or awesome that we haven’t already seen done before, and even worse, the flick doesn’t really bring much to the table to distract you, anyway. The scenery definitely looks good and has you feel as if you are in the South during this time-period, but that’s pretty much it. You can have a movie that looks all nice and dandy, but if you don’t have anything else to make up for it, then I just lose interest. However, thanks to a cast like this, I was paying attention enough times to relatively-enjoy myself. Not fully or totally, but relatively and I think that’s better than not enjoying myself.
Bill Murray is always a blast to watch in anything he does and his performance as the greedy, funeral parlor-owner is no different. His contemporary way-of-speaking definitely seemed a bit distracting for the first five-minutes of him on-screen, but as time went on, I just let it slide and love every-singe-bit of Murray’s performance and some may be surprised to know that he’s not the most hilarious dude in the movie. Murray does have the occasional zinger here and there for good sport, but he actually has an interesting dramatic arch that forms a dynamic between him and Duvall and it continues to go on through the whole movie. I don’t want to say that I loved the hell out of Murray, but I can say that the guy was a good character and showed that he can always balance out sleazy, humorous and likable, all at the same time.
Playing his lackey-of-sorts is Lucas Black, who is obviously still trying to have everybody forget his days in Sling Blade, but no need to worry, because the guy’s actually a solid actor as a grown-up. Granted, when he is side-by-side with heavyweights like Duvall and Murray, he definitely seems like the weak-link, but when he’s doing his own thing and that’s just about it: he’s good with it. I definitely would like to see this guy step-away from the dirty South and try his best with any other accent but for the most part, he’s fine with his own native tongue and I don’t think playing a Bawstan gangster would be the next best thing for him. Although, it’d be fun to see him try at it.
Sissy Spacek plays Duvall’s former-fling and as she gets older, seems to not only get more beautiful, but also even better as an actress. Seriously, I thought she was just going to be one of those females that showed-up and bitched about her life and why it never amounted to everything she wanted, but the gal actually has a nice arch to her as well, and it’s great to see the scenes with her and Duvall cause you can tell that there’s something powerfully and genuinely felt between the two, but you just don’t know what. Spacek never seems to age and as time goes on, she still knows how to deliver and that’s so great to see from a living legend like herself.
Then, of course, there is the one, the only, the Grizzly Adams-look alike himself: Robert Duvall. Duvall is such a classic actor, that roles like these where all he has to do is grunt, say weird things, and be his typical-self, he makes it so good that it almost seems like he’s not acting. After awhile, you start to forget that it’s Duvall and take him in as this strange, weird old man, and yet, you are never scared of him. You feel like he’s a good guy at his core and that whatever he did, no matter how disturbing or brutal it may have been, that he’s still a nice guy that deserves to have people around him. No matter what type of character Duvall goes for, he’s always good at it, and always knows how to make us give two shits about the guy, even if he may be a bit mysterious in his own ways.
However, once you get to thinking about the whole mystery of this flick and what it actually ends up being, then you start to feel a bit disappointed. Without spoiling the last twenty-minutes of the movie, Duvall finally gets a chance to break the ice and tell everybody what he’s been hiding-0ut for, for so long and the kind of effect that it has had on his life. Throughout the whole movie, I was ready to see what it was as each and every single little clue, came-up to the forefront and had me guessing a bit more. It gave what could be considered this simple, character-study a nice deal of mystery and suspense to it that had me playing-along for awhile, that is, until the actual “reveal” came out and ended on a total whimper.
It’s not the fact that what Duvall ends-up telling us is what’s a bummer, it’s that you just don’t really care and see how a guy could leave the rest of civilization for a thing like that. I guess when you take guilt and memory into consideration, then yeah, it could definitely eat you up inside, but leaving the people you know and may possibly love, to go out into the far woods, break logs, eat animal stew, walk around with a shotgun, hunt, and chase little kids off your property, doesn’t seem all that reasonable. It sort of made me feel like the flick had the central idea and premise, it had the characters, and it had the setting, but the most important factor of them all, the ultimate reveal, was something that they just didn’t have and felt like they just made it up as they went along. And if they did have it on, way before filming began, then when it actually came to filming this movie, they didn’t have a firm enough grasp to really make us care enough or feel like we are glad we spent so much time of our lives with these characters and with this story.
Consensus: Benefiting from a strong-as-hell cast, Get Low definitely has moments that keep you watching, despite the slow pace, but doesn’t have the best script in the world and that shows, especially when you take into consideration the final twist that gives you the feeling that this flick sort of lost itself, as it tugged along.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Almost 30 years later, and I still don’t get what the hell they’re talking about.
Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of the famous Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), responds to a message from his long-lost father and is transported into a virtual reality called the Grid, where Sam and the algorithm Quorra (Olivia Wilde) try to stop the malevolent program CLU (a younger Bridges in CGI-form) from invading the human world. However, times have changed for dear old Kevin Flynn and he’s not exactly what he used to be, so it’s up to Sam to save the day.
After checking out the first TRON and not seeing it as anything more than just a pretty film that’s easy on the eyes (if you take the time-period into consideration), but still, very hollow once you get underneath it all, I was actually looking forward to this one. The reason being is just because it’s been almost 30 years since the original, so therefore it seems like they would have a new hold on the visuals, the story, the acting, the writing, and just about everything else that didn’t work in the original. Somehow, that idea didn’t get around to anybody working on this movie, except maybe the people working on the soundtrack. Yeah, giving Daft Punk a call was a bit different.
If you haven’t seen the original, you may want to do that now before you even bother reading the rest of this review or even seeing this movie because going into this one blind and having no idea what to expect will probably leave you in the dust. Not only does the flick barely touch on anything that happened in the first movie, but it’s story (or lack thereof) is mainly for the people who saw and could at least understand some portion of the original’s. Basically, see the first one and THEN, check this one out. You’ll be happy I gave you that piece of advice, but then again, you maybe be unhappy that I gave you that piece of advice because not only did you have to sit-through one TRON movie, but two! My condolences, people. My condolences.
Actually, all of this pre-game shit-talking may not be deserved because to be honest: I actually enjoyed myself with a good-portion of this flick. Heck, if I was to put it head-to-head with the first; I’d probably have to go with this one pulling out the close victory. Close-call, but still a victory none the less. With that being said, it doesn’t mean that the same problems I had with the first movie aren’t here, it’s just that there is more to distract me this time around. Thankfully, that distraction lies in the form of Joseph Krosinski’s visual-direction. In the 30 years ever since the first one came out and shook-up the world of movies and video-games as we knew it, technology sure as hell had changed and improved in ways that we wouldn’t have ever been able to swallow back in those days. This means that the movie actually takes advantage of that fact, the same way the original did, except with more CGI, more 3-D, and more IMAX.
Obviously, the first one for it’s time, was revolutionary and visionary with what it could do back in the dog days of Summer in ’82, but now, in the 21st Century; there’s so much more than we ever imagined. The world of the Grid looks more beautiful and breath-taking than it ever did before and you really feel as if you are swept into this virtual-reality world with the same shit from the first movie like electronic cars, frisbees, and weapons, but this time; with more pizzazz and style added to the mix. I really felt like Krosinski had a total understanding of what the look and feel of this world would be like, and he doesn’t drop the ball on it once. Especially in one scene that takes place inside this wild and crazy night-club that had me feel like I was watching a whole, different movie. Also, the scene works because that’s really when Daft Punk’s score begins to kick-in and if it wasn’t for them and their pounding, electronic-beats in the background in that scene, as well as for the rest of the movie, there probably wouldn’t have been the same amount of electronic-energy involved that just got your senses alive and pumping.
Thanks to Krosinski, you feel as if you are there in this virtual-world where everything is on such a higher-platform than it ever was before and the guy absolutely revels in it. You can tell that he really did grow-up with the original movie, and shows that he loves this world just as much as any other nerd, who probably watched it back in the day, and fell in love with it just the same. However, the difference between Krosinski is that he has a camera and about $170 million to work with, whereas the nerds are just left there, making $10 an hour, eating Doritos off their chests as they sit-back, and watch as a fellow-nerd lives out their shared-dream to the fullest. In a way, that can all be viewed as a humble experience, but it still goes to show you that if you have inspiration and a vision that you want to get-out there for the rest of the world to see, don’t hold yourself back from showing yourself. Get the hell out there and make it happen! Fuck yeah!
Anywho, I think I may have gotten a bit too carried away with what I was trying to say because yes: even though Krosinski knows exactly what he’s trying to do behind-the-camera and with the visuals, he still hits the same dead-end that the original hit way too many times: the script. For all of you who probably guessed it, then yes, the script is pretty terrible and without getting into the whole gist of this thing and finding myself in a circle of total and complete convoluted craziness, I’m just going to state that this plot practically makes no sense, even to a person that has seen the original no less than a week ago. There are some interesting ideas here, but nothing all that special that the Matrix didn’t already cover, about 11 years earlier. Which means watching it now, just seems like a bit of a re-tread of something that was done and said, a hell of a lot better before. God, you gotta love the 90′s.
As you could probably suspect, the dialogue is pretty shitty but you don’t come to a movie like this for winning-dialogue and understandings of the world we surround ourselves with; you come to these movies for fun and fun only, and that’s what element this script is missing out on: fun. What made the original a relative joy to watch was that no matter how corny, no matter how dated, and no matter how lame the rest of the script was (and trust me, it did get unbearable at-points), the film still always had this breath of fresh air that knew it wasn’t taking itself so seriously and always allowed there to be room for play-time. However, this movie, this story, and this script, only allows little to no room for play-time and really brings down the whole mood of the film. Terrible shame too, because it could have really saved a lot of the shaky-material this movie had on-display.
Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be a bit of a dumb movie that’s strictly for fans of the original and people that like extra butter on their popcorn, but is this really the BEST material they had to offer? I mean, you can live-off the fanboys money for only so long, all up until the point where the fanboys begin to realize something is wrong, dead-wrong with the way things are structured in a movie, especially a movie that’s living in a cult-name like TRON. Even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call the final-product a total cash-grab for that said audience; it still feels like a lame and disappointing attempt at trying to re-create the fire that was once there. The fire that also never really caught my eye in the first-place but then again, it’s a different type of movie for a different type of person. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
The one thing they did improve on, if only a tad bit, from the original is that the characters at least have more to them than I originally expected. Jeff Bridges returns as Kevin Flynn in two forms: the goodie and the baddie. The goodie-form of him show the Zen-like fashion where he’s more of The Dude, than the precursor to Neo. This especially works for the aging-Bridges who always seems to be the most reasonable and coolest guy in the room, no matter what type of role he’s playing in any movie he appears in. However, the baddie-form of this character is where things really start to get topsy-turvy for Bridges because it isn’t exactly that it’s Bridges actually playing the character and giving a realistic-performance, it’s more that the computer is taking over and giving us another one of those terribly-creepy, Robert Zemeckis-like motion-capture performances that not only have us scared, but totally take us away from the movie.
Flynn’s baddie-version of himself was supposed to be intimidating and threatening in the way that he could control almost everything and everything, due to the set of skills and prowess he had from the computer codes Flynn gave him. However, when you give the guy the motion-capture treatment like this, he doesn’t look the least-bit scary. The only form of scary, is that he’ll probably just give the kiddies nightmares, that’s if you even bring them to see this. Don’t know why you would, but you never know: nerds have done far worse. However, instead, you’re too busy laughing your ass off by how dull his eyes look and how stupid it seems to be whenever he opens his mouth. They did nail some aspects of Bridges when he was a younger lad, but it’s still not enough to be less distracting than a form of CGI in say, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That was not only used to enhance the story, but done very, very well. Here, it just looks dumb and takes you totally out of the movie and character, even if Bridges does try his hardest to make this character, in both forms, work. I mean, I’ll give a lot of credit to Bridges for actually allowing a movie to take a younger-version of himself and plant it in a movie where he shows-up quite frequently, but still, for the movie’s sake, it’s a bold-move that doesn’t work.
Garrett Hedlund plays his son, in what seems to be the type of role that could make him a star and send his name up into the highest-rankings (sort of like Chris Pine in Star Trek), however, he’s just not really talented enough to allow that to actually happen. Hedlund definitely looks the part of a young, wild, and brass go-getter dude that knows his shit don’t stank, but there was just something that felt off in his delivery and sent his character into a daze of dullness. You sort of forget that he’s even around and if it wasn’t for the plot needing him to do cool, flashy action-moves (mainly because Bridges sure as hell can’t do them anymore), then he would have not served any purpose to this story whatsoever. Okay, maybe that’s a bit drastic to say but you get my drift: the guy blows here.
Olivia Wilde is the one who really saves this cast, and in a way, the movie as well. She plays Quorra, the ass-kicking femme fatale of the group and is not only a gorgeous soul to just gaze at, but also has some nice dramatic-chops to her that she shows in full-display here. Something tells me the script didn’t really ask for much with a character of her liking, but Wilde doesn’t ever seem to settle for conventionality and actually brings the cake to the screen, whereas her co-star Hedlund, seems to really fall-apart. Not only does she have the looks, but she has the brains as well. My type of woman.
Also in the cast, is Michael Sheen who seems to be having a freakin’ blast as Castor, aka, the sci-fi version of David Bowie that only gets about 10-minutes or so of screen-time, but lights it up the way he always likes to. He’s apart of that crazy, club-scene I was alluding to earlier and is one of the main reasons why it’s so electric and fun in the first-place. Still, it’s a total downer that the guy doesn’t show-up more as I feel like the film could have totally used his type of contribution here. I also have no idea why Cillian Murphy was here and decided to show-up for 5-seconds of screen-time, but hey, I guess it’s just another job to put down on his resume, so good for that guy.
Consensus: The promise for a TRON sequel may lie somewhere in-between the loads of amounts of CGI in TRON: Legacy, but it somehow falls by the same waist-side the first one did. That’s all due to lack of character-development, a story that makes little to no sense, and a feeling of joyful fun that’s about the action, adventure, excitement, and playing the deadliest-game of Frisbee, rather than incomprehensible exposition that doesn’t add anything to the final-product, other than snores from the audience. Even the nerds!
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Rich people can be sad too.
Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) are living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves them jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers.
As everybody in the world knows, October 2008 was the time where we all found ourselves in an economic-crisis and yes, even though it is a bit hypocritical from a 19-year-old, who at the time, was 15 and lived with his parents, had no job, had no responsibilities and no bills to pay other than my money for lunch, I can still say that it was a sucky time for everybody and in a way, still is. Everybody was affected by it, not just the common-man, but everybody!
I start off with this middle-minded rant mainly because this is one of the biggest problems with this movie that we have here: who it focuses on. Having a story about a regular, average-Joe who loses his job out of nowhere and finds himself really struggling isn’t a story that hasn’t been done before, but would have probably been more engrossing than watching a bunch of millionaires go from everything, to nothing in a matter of a couple of weeks. Of course, the fact of the matter is that this did happen in real-life and it wasn’t just a certain group of people that were affected by the corporate downsizing, and that’s why this movie feels like it should hit harder, mainly because it’s so timeless and easy to connect with, but it just isn’t.
Watching all of these guys be pissed-off by the fact that they don’t have the money to pay for their golf clubs or their Porsches really just seemed stupid and something I didn’t really care about. It gets even worse when some of these guys still feel like they can’t tell their wives, or the people around them that they lost their job. Yeah, I get that losing your job is sort of like losing an ounce of your pride, but there comes a point where you got to nut-up, shut-up, and get moving on with your life in order to make that moolah fall from the skies. Sitting around, pissing and moaning about it, and not even telling your wife why you don’t have the money for the mortgage, isn’t going to solve shite.
But to back away from a topic and theme I guess I don’t know much about since I’m not necessarily the hardest working-man out there in the world, let me go back to something I do know a lick about: movies. The whole idea of watching these rich people be sad by the fact that they can’t spend 500 dollars on dinners any longer, definitely didn’t work for me but I was able to get past it and at least try my hardest to look at the brighter-things in this movie, which didn’t seem to come to me right away. The problem I think I had with this movie stems from what and how writer/director John Wells tries to tell his story. He tries to show us that maybe, just maybe by going back to an old-school America is the only way we’re going to live and survive in this world, but he he shows us in the most obvious and predictable way that’s enough to make the people on the employment-line just scoff at.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that this economic crisis was a very, very depressing time for all men and women of America, but Wells shows how sad and depressing it is in the most conventional ways possible. For instance, Chris Cooper’s character is probably the best example of what I mean because when his character gets fired, he doesn’t just go home, act as if nothing happened whatsoever and go out there and try to make another living with his life, no, he sits at the bar all-day, gets hammered, throws rocks at the old, corporate-building he used to work-at, and tries to act like he still works there by slugging-around the same briefcase. Same example can sort of go for Tommy Lee Jones who finds himself banging-around with the same chick that fired him, and choosing her over his dearly, old-wife, mainly because he’s just depressed. I get it, they’re sad and when you’re sad, you do dumb stuff. Get on with it!
The only light and shiny material actually in this flick, is actually the performances from the characters that try their hardest to make everything work and in a way, succeed in doing-so. “In a way”, however. Ben Affleck has the main-spotlight here as Bobby and definitely seems fit for the job of a guy who loses it all, tries to avoid it by acting like nothing has happened, only to get slapped in the face with reality and realize that he has to do a whole bunch of crap he didn’t want to do when he was rich. His character isn’t all sympathetic to begin-with, considering that he continues to blow-off the idea of saving money and not robbing the bank, but Affleck works through it and does what he can with this role. His wife, played by the always magnificent Rosemarie DeWitt, is always supportive, but at the same time, also never seems to notice how much of a dick he’s being and as hard as she can be on him for not accepting reality, she seems very lenient in terms of actually telling him what’s up in the world. I get it, they’re husband and wife and they forgive each other over everything, but she doesn’t seem all that strong and loving at all, so why the hell should be that way when the guy’s acting like a dick? Ehh, I don’t get it.
Tommy Lee Jones is doing his usual, crotchety old-man shtick that never seems to run dry, even if his character even seems to get tired of it about half-way through and begins to get all soft and weak in the knees. Tommy Lee is a great actor so this weakly-written role doesn’t do as much harm to him as it does to others, but it’s still obvious that there should be more meat for us to chew-on with this character and his emotions. Chris Cooper has the most sympathetic character out of the bunch, but like I mentioned before, seems a bit too obvious in terms of where his story goes and why. Like Jones, Cooper is a great actor so it’s not that glaring, but still, he should be given more material that’s suited for his great, acting-self.
Maria Bello is always good with what she does and is fine here as the chick that goes around firing people, and instead, more or less comes-off like a person doing her job, rather than a monster out to get people’s hearts, souls, and above all, their bank accounts. Kevin Cotsner also shows up as the blue-collared, American worker that makes a living off of hanging up dry wall every day of the week and it’s definitely a fun performance that Costner has a blast playing, even though that New England-accent seems to be way too heavy, especially in the seems with Affleck. How the hell do you have a movie that takes place in the state of Massachusetts that stars Ben Affleck, and not have him doing a Bawhstan accent? Seriously, the guy’s made for it and if you don’t believe me, watch The Town and Good Will Hunting, aka, two movies that will probably inspire you more than this.
Consensus: The premise and themes are as timeless as they may come, but when it comes to delivering on those important ideas and thoughts, the Company Men doesn’t seem to succeed with a bunch of great actors, working in thinly-scripted roles that seem to be placed-in the right category of “Conventional”.
Save me, Maximus!
Life seems perfect for John Brennan (Russell Crowe) until his wife, Laura (Elizabeth Banks), is arrested for a gruesome murder she says she didn’t commit. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison.
It may seem a bit strange that director Paul Haggis would return to the director’s chair after two character-driven flicks like Crash and In the Valley of Elah, to do something very action-oriented in a way that would remind me a bit of the Bourne movies. Total change-of pace if you ask me, but a pretty intriguing one, none the less. However, this is also the guy who wrote Casino Royale and I think he should have kept it that way and try not to stretch out his action skills anymore teaming up with this dude, because he said he was an “Oscar-winner”.
What I liked about Haggis’ direction here is that he does have a good combination of character-driven drama and a suspense-thriller for a combination that sort of evens each-side out. We first start this flick off by focusing on Crowe, how he’s struggling with being a single father, having a wife put in jail wrongly, and it basically just sets up a lot of sadness for his character and the situation he so sadly found himself so involved with. But underneath all of that, there’s also a very interesting prison-escape drama that shows how Crowe goes around, checking for all of the clues on how to get his wife out successfully without any problems whatsoever, and it’s so interesting and well-done, that it actually made you wonder just how the hell this guy was going to pull it all off in the end, if at all. Prison-escape movies are always fun to watch, but it was really cool to see that aspect, used on the outside, from a guy who’s trying to break somebody out, and not really being able to tell how smoothly everything will go. Definitely a good combo for Haggis, but sadly, it all ends up losing it’s way about half-way through. Oh well, at least it was intruiging for the longest-time.
Mainly the problem with this flick is that it can be very hard to buy at times, especially the main bond between Crowe and Banks. As soon as we step into the movie, we see Banks and Crowe at dinner together, then in no less than 5 minutes later she gets hauled out by cops and that’s pretty much all of the love we get see come from them. That’s right, only 5 minutes of them actually being loving and happy together and we’re supposed to buy the fact that Crowe would go the ends of the Earth to save his wife from prison. Who knows, maybe they had one of the most beautiful marriages that any person has ever seen, but with the very limited-amount of time they have together on-screen, I found it very hard to actually believe Crowe would do what he ends up trying to do for her.
However, that’s not the only part of this movie I didn’t buy. The whole film revolves around Crowe and whether or not he can pull off such a plan as the one he has mapped out on his wall (so original) but I couldn’t really believe much of that either. The film does show him doing certain things to gain pieces of information that ultimately help him out with this plan and gaining more information, but it was never fully-developed to the point of where I understood how he could make it all happen to begin with and even worse, only showed-up every once and awhile. In fact, the whole escape itself by the end was really just based on coincidences that Crowe just so happened to find himself running into by sure luck. Crowe’s character had so much time to think everything through and to get everything right, but by the end, everything just happens in a very messy way and like almost every obstacle he got through was just another piece of perfect-timing, that was just a bit too perfect for my taste, really.
Now I say all of this crap but I did have a certain bit of fun with the very fast-pace this film was going through. As implausible and coincidental things may get for this plot, Haggis kicked up the volume and the speed of this movie and kept it going perfectly where I actually felt like I was on the edge of my seat for a good time. That’s why I can’t go too far into how much this film didn’t make sense to me, because I like prison-escape movies and seeing the sensitive-edge Haggis brought to it, kept me interested. However, a lot of that is lost on some very obvious twists this film goes through.
Russell Crowe is one of the best-working actors today and can make almost any character he plays, work. His performance as John Brennan may be the only exception to that statement. My problem I had with this character wasn’t necessarily Crowe’s performance itself, but it was more or less the essence and nature of the character he was playing here. Brennan is such a meek, awkward, and shy dude that it really seemed “out of his element” and unbelievable whenever he would just decide to g0 around and start doing crazy shit just, in order to help his wife escape from jail. I can understand what a man does and thinks when he’s pushed to the edge, but I never saw that for Crowe and that’s a surprise because this is a guy who’s known for beating the shit out of people in many other films as well as real-life (telephone-throwing joke right there). This performance really surprised me and I think with other actors it would have worked, but when you get a tough-ass like Crowe, ehhh not so much.
One performance that really took me by surprise was Elizabeth Banks as his wife. Banks is always one of those very cute, very funny, and very sexy ladies that pop-up in these raunchy-comedies, but she shows she has a lot of dramatic depth here and makes her character seem a lot more believable than Crowe. Hopefully she continues to get more and more dramatic roles that fit her, and no, I do not mean Man on a Ledge. Liam Neeson is also here as a former prison escapee that helps out Crowe and is easily one of the best and most memorable parts of this flick even though it only lasts for 4 minutes. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is here as the only model, single mom in Pittsburgh. Wilde is a random character to have for this movie and what made it even worse and just added to the implausibility of this movie, was the fact that Olivia Wilde, was playing a single-mom! What the hell! If this is what single moms look like in Pittsburgh, get me my 2005 Scion right now! I’ll be there soon, ladies! Just you wait.
Consensus: The Next Three Days starts off pretty-strong with a great combination action, mystery, suspense and character-drama, but the script really starts to lose itself about half-way through with all of its implausibilities, strange coincidences, and unbelievable character relations, especially the ones between Crowe and Banks, who was supposed to be the core-relationship for us to really connect to this movie and actually give a damn.
Apparently the sun never comes out in this alternate history, either.
Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them. It ain’t pretty, trust me.
I have never read the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and to be honest, that may have been a good decision on my-part, since I didn’t really know what was happening and also the fact that I had no idea what type of mood it was going to put me in, because damn man, it’s a total downer. No, I mean it. It is a REAL downer.
However, let’s not talk about all of that sadness that goes on here, let’s focus on the finer things with this flick (and in life) considering I’m not ready to walk into traffic just yet. It was really cool to see director Mark Romanek back after all an 8-year hiatus from movies and take a subject matter like this because he fits it’s feel and style very well. This whole film, from start to finish, is absolutely stunning and beautiful to look at. The whole look has this very dry sense of color the whole time, but it also ended up giving some of the most beautiful images of this movie such as onne image that stands out the most in my mind is the shot of a beach and a little old tugboat was lying on its side in the sand, with the orange sunlight just barely shining over it. That’s one-shot from this film that really stayed with me and made me understand just the type of world I was placed-in with this flick. It’s a dark piece of material we have here, but with Romanek on-board, beauty still finds it’s way of climbing back into the story and presenting itself the whole way through.
I also felt that the mood that Romanek set for this film was just the right way to approach this material to begin with. I don’t want to get into too much about what goes on in this flick and how it all happens, but the fate these kids are left to live are pretty damn sad to begin with and Romanek doesn’t try to gloss that up with any unnecessary humor or themes about the joys of life. No siree, instead he makes this a flick about how we as humans, are supposed to live out our lives and be happy even though it may not always go that exact-way we want it to be. Then again, I highly doubt that that is what the central message of this flick is all about, but it’s what I could get underneath all of the sadness that Mr. Romanek used so well.
The problem was that there was also a bad-side to that depressing mood as well. This flick is so based on being a total debbie-downer, that even the parts where the flick tries to bring some little moments of being happy, they don’t really do much because you know that no matter what happens, the violin score will just come right back on and thus bring on back the sadness that we thought we escaped. There’s no problem with a film being sad the whole time, especially if that’s what it’s mood is conveying straight from the start, but it’s a real problem is when it seems like that’s the only thing that the film has any time to focus on and rather than just giving us something to smile and at least be happy about for the meantime, we are instead treated to total and utter depression. I guess I don’t quite get it since I didn’t read the original source material but I seriously could have only imagined how bad that must have been.
What really brought me into this flick though was the performances here by this young and attractive cast that have all proved themselves in their own respective bouts, but come together here and do a nice-job with some dull-ass characters. Carey Mulligan is great as Kathy H., and once again shows that she has the emotional chops and presence to pull off any character and have you know she is always around. The new Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield, is also nice to watch as Tommy and feels like a real kid who just doesn’t know how to act around girls, or anybody for that matter. Then again, he also got jipped out of being the co-founder of the largest social network of all-time so that may add a bit of insult to injury as well. (teehee, Facebook jokes rule) The real stand-out here may be Keira Knightley though, who is very one-dimensional as the bitchy and manipulative chick, Ruth, but is very good at it unlike anyway we have seen her before. However, her character does end up starting to change and show some real humanity by the end of the flick and was probably the only character I could actually feel something for once everything was said and done. Which brings me on to my last and final problem with this flick.
I get that these characters are here for a reason that I won’t say, but something just felt off about them to the point of where I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel for any of them. Since there was so much depth to the sadness of this whole plot, the characters themselves are sort of just left on the side and are there for you to care about if you want to or not. The film can be a little stuffy, but it barely let me feel anything for them and then when their fate is finally said to them, it was weird how I didn’t feel any emotional connection. Now it would be hard to say that I could ever relate to anything that any of these characters have been and are going through but I still think as a film, there should have been more emotions centered at the characters rather than just their surroundings. Maybe I was supposed to feel this emptiness or maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel anything for them, maybe it was just for the whole situation itself. Maybe. I don’t know really.
Consensus: If you are in happy mood and want to keep that going, then don’t check out Never Let Me Go, because it is sad, empty (in many ways), and doesn’t have any real moments of shining suns in the sky, but it is also beautiful to look at, a very moody piece that can really put you into its setting, and features a fine young cast that does a great job with all that their given.
Don’t worry, it gets stranger.
This film is about a husband and wife who keep their children imprisoned on their property into adulthood. However, things start to go arise once an outsider pops into their house and throw some knowledge on the kids that they never had before.
Sounds pretty weird already but trust me, it gets a whole lot worse baby. Greeks are definitely a lot more freaky then I ever expected.
I don’t know where to begin with this review only to say that I wasn’t expecting what I got here. Yes, the premise sounds weird and seems like something that could be played out to an inspirational tale showing how people should live free and not be taken back by barriers. Nah uh, not this movie. Instead, this is one freak show of a movie that starts off strange and continues to get that way, except that it’s also very watchable at the same time too if you can get past a lot of things that usually upset the regular-viewer.
Even though it’s a big movie that can only be told with one statement (WTF?!?), the film actually has a whole lot of moments that had me laugh, which is a very big surprise. The whole film is one big satire of what a normal families conventions are and just how this very weird family, decides to take all of that and live their own, effed-up way. Since these kids are so sheltered away from the rest of the outside world, they don’t really know what the real terms for certain words are because the parents feel like they want to fuck them up more in the head, then they already are. For example, one of the kids asks what the word “pussy” means and the mother says a bright light, or another example is like when they ask what the word “zombie” means and they tell them its a tiny, yellow flower. Stuff like that made me laugh and caught me off guard especially when one of the girls actually asks for the “telephone” at the dinner table, and she gets a salt shaker instead. Clever, but also could have been a lot funnier if it wasn’t in something that was so damn disturbing.
As the story does progress, and the weirder it gets, you actually start to see this film pick up some more steam and get a lot more tension to it then you actually expected in the first place. You start to feel a lot for this kids, considering they have no idea what the hell is going on outside in the real world and it’s actually pretty sad after awhile. But then things start to change for these kids and they start to get more wiser and realize more things about the world and it just made me root them on more and hate those damn parents of theirs. Then again, those parents were also my biggest problemo with the flick as well.
I can understood some parents wanting to keep their kids away from the horrors of the outer-world, so they cut down on TV time, keep them away from sweets, and watch the type of gang they’re hanging out with. However, I could never understand a family going so far as to keep their own children, locked up in their own place where they can’t do anything but compete with each other, play games that tests each other’s ability to do certain things, read up on fake information, and never know anything about what’s going on out in the world. But then these parents will argue and say that they shouldn’t see the world because of how bad it is, but do they really think they’re making it any better?
Rather than just listening to me ramble on and on about how dumb of an idea this is for a parent to actually use on their own kids, I’ll just get to where my main point of anger was towards. I didn’t like the parents here, mostly the dad, because I felt like they were so stubborn, so controlling, and so unbelievably harsh with all of his rules that it never made any sense as to why he would even do something like this in the first place. The kids barely ever question it so therefore, the point is never brought up but still, some sort of understanding as to how and why somebody would want to do this would be awesome for me to hear. Instead, the film just focuses on these kids and as compelling as that may be, I still wanted the father to get the shit kicked out of him and just when I thought he was going to, the film pulled one out from underneath me and made me wish for me. Maybe it’s a good thing that I hated this guy so much because I was supposed to but either way, I just wanted something more. Sounds vague, I know, but there was just some sort of missing piece here to the whole big puzzle.
I can’t really go very far and talk about these performances, mainly because they are all pretty good and their names may be a little too hard for me to pronounce. They all do great jobs, considering some of the situations they are placed in and since it’s all so serious with this premise, they are all great at deadpan. So great, that it’s actually terrifying at points. Good job Greeks!
Consensus: Dogtooth is one of those flicks that you can’t sit down, watch, and enjoy. Instead it’s one that messes with your mind, disturbs you, and makes you feel anger towards some of these characters, but then again, that’s sort of the point so good job on their behalf. Some will love it and some will definitely be freaked out by it.
You thought illegal aliens were bad, what about actual aliens?!?
Six years ago a NASA space probe crashed to earth with a shipload of alien stowaways on board – in the time since, a massive section of the Mexico-US boarder has been fenced off and is now quarantined as an ‘infected zone’. Photojournalist Andrew (Scoot McNairy) is keen to get pictures of the creatures, but when he’s tasked with getting his boss’s daughter (Whitney Able) back to the US, a one-day trip turns into a surprising journey.
I have to give a lot of credit to director Gareth Edwards, who practically made this film for only $500,000 dollars and does a pretty damn good job with it. Actually, it’s probably a lot better than half of the big, studio flicks that come out every month and have about 20 times the budget and still can’t deliver. Take that Hollywood!
A huge problem with this flick that people may have here is that the title and premise has you thinking that you’re going to get plenty of alien action, filled with space ships, ray guns, universal translators, and all of that other crazy alien shit we see but that isn’t the case we have here. In fact, it’s more of an “Adults Only” sci-fi flick (not in that type of way you pervs) and is a lot more character-driven than you would expect, which was a nice touch here. It was sort of like we were joining these two peeps on the road trip from hell taking place in a future that isn’t as destructive as you would think with a whole bunch of aliens constantly running around, instead, it just looks like a wasteland that is still itching for order and control without Edwards ever shoving it in our face that something catastrophic happened here.
Edwards also did a great job of shooting on location, using actual locals that he would find off the streets for the parts, and add in the CGI later. It gave the film this real authenticity where it seems like everything is actually happening right in front of our eyes, and even though we all know it’s not real and this will probably never ever happen, it still feels like a snapshot of what our world could come to in the near future. I mean the whole film is one big metaphor for illegal immigration, so it sort of does make sense after all. Basically, give this Edwards guy a whole bunch of moolah and let him do whatever the hell he wants to do with it because the guy can deliver a lot more than certain directors out there like Roland Emmerich. However, I did like Anonymous, so I can’t knock on the guy too much.
For some odd reason though, as much as I liked and can give a lot of credit to Edwards for his low-budget film-making, I couldn’t help but feel that it took a lot away from the story as well. The obstacles that Edwards puts in here, weren’t enough to actually leave a mark on me, and yes, I did crave a lot more action than this film delivered with. I know, I know I should be shamed about this but I wanted more alien action and shenanigans because it would have really kept more of my interest when the film started to just really linger on and on with these two peeps walking, talking, and sometimes, running. Definitely don’t go into this expecting an Independence Day-like alien flick or else you’ll be left more pissed off than piss happy.
I also may seem like sort of a dick for talking ish about this other element of the flick, but I just have to go with it. I don’t know what it was here that bothered me but almost every time a CG helicopter came up in the flick, whether it was just roaming around or not, I was taken out of this film more and more. They seemed to pop-up in the sky almost every 15 minutes and looked so incredibly fake, whereas everything else was pretty realistic looking and fit well with the rest of the area. I don’t know what it was about these copters but they just seemed so goofy for this type of a serious story.
Because I bought most of the world that Edwards put us in, I actually bought a lot of the characters and feared for their safety as well. Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able are two people that I have never seen before in my life, but both do pretty good jobs of playing these two accidental tourists, Andrew and Samantha. McNairy is good in this a-hole role where he started to peel away his emotions, layer by layer, whereas Whitney, was also very good playing the vulnerable and scared girl role as well. Both had great chemistry together, which they should have because they’re a freakin’ married couple, and both should added a lot more to their scenes, where it’s just the two of them talking basically, a lot more than I expected. No other notable names, other than these two and that’s pretty much all we need.
Consensus: Though it’s not what every sci-fi movie aficionado would like, Monsters is still an impressive debut flick from Gareth Edwards who gives a very original movie with great chemistry between the leads, a story that you care for, and some impressive, low-budget special effects. Hope to see this guy more often!
Finally, they got tired of the retirement home and decided to fight back.
Hot off their latest mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his ragtag team of mercenaries are pulled right back in the game when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) presents them with a new assignment. It should be easy—to travel to Albania and retrieve a briefcase carrying a blueprint of a plutonium mine. The villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), isn’t exactly quaking in his boots, but he probably should be. There is exactly no chance whatsoever Barney will allow him to escape with his life.
I know I’m going to catch a lot of hot water for this but I actually liked the first Expendables. I thought it had awesome action, an ensemble cast of action stars that I missed seeing on the big-screen, and provided me with enough laughs to even everything else out. Yeah, the story may have been terribly lame and the action wasn’t non-stop, but at least it was fun and that’s more than I can say about plenty other Summer, action blockbusters that came out in 2010. Thankfully, with more back-up and some new faces, this sequel does a whole lot better and keeps everything moving in just the right way.
Since being writer, director, producer, and the main star of the original one proved to be too much for him, Stallone decided to take it easy on this one and allow Simon West to take over the director duties and what a great decision that was! Going into this film, I wanted action, action, action, and well, more action, and that is exactly what I got from West’s direction. In the first 10 minutes of this flick, we get a huge, loud, and explosive set piece that shows the guys running around, shooting and killing people while dropping corny one-liners for fun and to be honest, it got me in the mood for what I was about to get for the rest of the movie. It was also a surprise to see a lot of wide shots used for the action as well as some nifty editing tricks to where we could actually the action as it happened.
There is a story to be had here, but in all honesty, who gives a shit about that when you got these guys! There’s a whole lot of mayhem to be seen here and everybody here takes total and complete advantage of that and makes this flick seem like it was a lot more deserved in the action department, than the first one. I wanted loud, insane, crazy, and intense action and for the most part, West delivered on that and sort of gave me the old-school action movie feeling I wanted with the first one but instead, only got here once he put his magical touch on it. It also helps that these guys seem like they’re all having the times of their lives making this movie, and you can’t help but feel the same exact thing and join in on the festivities. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I got and for that, I am very thankful.
However, as fun and action-packed as this movie may have been, there were still some quibbles I had with it in that department. All of the action seemed to happen with just guns and explosives. We do actually get a couple of fist-fights here and there, but it seemed like they cheated out on that mainly because the guys are getting a little too old to be flying around, simulating beating the crap out of one another. I guess after Stallone broke his neck during filming in the first one, they decided to settle down on that aspect, but it still worked none the less despite all of my bitching.
You also can’t help but laugh unintentionally at this film at times, too. There is a story here so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much but where it was going, how it was going, and why it was going there all seemed a bit cheap for my tastes and it gets very sentimental at one part, for which I didn’t even really care about. Let me just say this without spoiling anything, a character gets killed off in the beginning and it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t make a difference one bit. It sort of just happens and we don’t care which is kind of a bummer considering these are characters and performers we should love and care about, especially when their lives may be in one degree of danger. That rarely happens in action movies like these but let’s just forget about those conventions and try to suspend reality for a bit.
The ensemble for the first flick was great, but this one, well, it’s even better where we finally get to see some of the most iconic and popular action stars in one, big, action orgy. It’s a pretty neat thing to see, especially when they are all at the top of their game as well. Sylvester Stallone does a great job as the core of the film, and still looks fit and clean to the point of where you could imagine him not only having the brains, but also the guns (both kinds of guns) to kick anybody’s ass; Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, and it’s probably the best type of role he can play out there and that’s all that matters to me; Dolph Lundgren was hilarious and steals probably half of the scenes he’s in just being the normal, goofy, Swedish dude we all know and sometimes love him for; Nan Yu brings some estrogen to the mix and does a fine job of holding her own when it comes to kicking ass and taking names; Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all back for what seem to be extended cameos, but still get the chance to mow down some mothaeffa’s and sprinkle out some awesome one-liners that show them exactly why they were so requested for this movie; and let’s not forget about Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said about that.
Everybody else that I didn’t mention is pretty much in the background but still does their own thing, which is good, but the real star of this whole cast is probably the ultimate return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a major, action blockbuster. It’s been awhile since Van Damme has been in anything this big before and it’s a great return-t0-form for this dude because he still does all of the same awesome shit that we loved him for before. He’s still got the signature kicks in him, still oozes the charisma that makes him such a watchable presence in the first place, still is in great shape, and still can play somebody that we hate so damn much, but yet, we can’t get enough of. In my opinion, Van Damme stole the show for me and I hope that this gets his name out there once again and brings him back to the major, Hollywood blockbusters he at one point owned every time.
Consensus: While it doesn’t win any points in its character development, emotional story, or incredibly original writing, The Expendables 2 wins mucho points in providing plenty of kick-ass action, a look at some of the greatest action stars in the biz, and a fun time at the movie theaters that gives us one last bang for the Summer. Sucks to say it, but it’s just about over people and what a way to go out.
Makes playing with dolls look cool when you’re over 40 look cool again.
This film follows Mark Hogancamp, a man who was beaten near to death and left with brain damage that left him incapable of remembering almost anything about his life, but who started healing himself by building an miniature elaborate WWII-era city in his backyard and photographing stories with it’s action figure residents.
For most of you out there reading this right now, you’re all probably thinking just what the hell have I decided to review. I mean a documentary about a grown-ass man playing with his dolls for 83 minutes? Sounds like a very strange choice to watch but thanks to Netflix saying that I had 5 days to watch it, I couldn’t have been more surprised by the choice that I made.
When you think about dolls, all you think about is little girls playing around with their Barbies and having them do some crazy, messed-up shit with Ken. Maybe I’m all alone on that one but you get the drift. Anywho, you never ever think about dolls as ever being considered something as grand and beautiful as “art” but that’s exactly what this film shows. Hogencamp creates this world of all of these dolls and we see their “lives” played out right in front of our eyes through the pictures he takes and the explanation of what’s happening in these pictures and why. It all sounds very uninteresting and more like something that you tried to do and failed at when you were about 7, but it works here because the pictures Hogancamp takes are so perfect. These dolls seem like actual people in these pictures that almost feel like they have real-life emotions. It sounds like I’m going crazy and totally over-talking all of the pictures that this guy takes but they are honestly unlike anything else you have ever seen before, especially with these dolls.
Even though the title of this movie is named after the little town that Hogancamp creates, it’s more about how this guy learns how to process his experiences through this little dolls. This guy has obviously been through a lot and with the stuff he can actually remember, he tries to channel them through these dolls because that’s the only way he can. He can’t talk about it because he doesn’t remember and he sure as hell can’t draw a picture or write song about it, all he can do is channel his emotions through his dolls and show how he feels about everything. I don’t want to go so far as to say that this is some high-class inspirational shit right here, but I will say that it did make me want to go and try to do something like this myself and create my own little stories that I have wrapped up in my head.
The only thing about this movie that I think they dropped the ball on was telling me more about what Hogancamp was like before he got half beat-up to death and what exactly happened. To be honest we do get to hear a lot about what Hogancamp had to experience before he got brain damage, but we never really find out what the guy really was like other than a drunk. Was he a normal dude? Was he a crazed maniac that only got crazier after he got beat up? Or was he just the dude we see in front of us now, just with a huge loss of memory in his head now? I don’t know who or what he was before he got beat up and I kind of wish that the film actually talked a bit about that more.
Despite that problem though, I have to say that Mark Hogancamp is a perfect subject for this type of story. The guy is a totally likable and endearing dude that is humble, nice to everyone he sees and meets, always trying to keep a smile on his face even when it seems like he’s going to freak out, and has a great deal of honesty to him that makes you feel like you can trust this guy with everything he’s telling you about his life and what’s going through his head. Mark Hogancamp is one of those characters that wouldn’t be as believable, had he been written as a character, but since he’s an actual person it’s even more of a surprise to see someone who’s so happy and up-front with his life, rather than trying to make us feel sorry for him. The guy doesn’t even consider the stuff he does as “art”, and treats it more as an escape for him to get past the fact that he can’t live the life that he was going to do. It’s a sad story but with a guy like Mark Hogancamp in the center of it all, there’s a bright of cheeriness to it that makes it work.
Consensus: Even though it is a very strange story to begin with, Marwencol is still a very up-lifting and well-done documentary, due to the fact that you have a subject such as Mark Hogancamp telling the story the way it is and taking you into his own little world, where only his experiences with life are told. Go get your G.I. Joe’s and start playing, people!
That’s why I take the stairs.
Five strangers in Philadelphia begin their day with the most commonplace of routines. They walk into an office tower and enter an elevator. As they convene into this single place, they are forced to share a confined space with strangers. They’ll only be together for a few moments. But what appears to be a random occurrence is anything but coincidental when the car becomes stuck. Fate has come calling.
Being a flick that’s from the crazy-mind of M. Night Shyamalan, you have to go in expecting creepiness, monsters, and a fun little twist at the end. And even though the guy hasn’t had a film worth worshiping in say about 10 years, he still somehow makes this film better.
Directed by John Erick Dowdle, the film has a very simple premise where you don’t quite know what’s going to happen next and you wait patiently as you climb towards the climax of the flick. Dowdle does a relatively good job at keeping this mystery and suspense going on throughout the whole film considering there is a lot of weird things that happen for no reason, other than the fact that there just may be Devil’s play at-hand.
As the whole plot unfolds we get to discover more and more about these characters backgrounds and realize that just about everybody we are watching here, are just a bunch of shady people. We also get to see how each one responds with the stress they feel of being all cooped up in this small-space and all of these crazy things happening. The real fun of the film was this factor considering we never know who just may be the Devil in disguise and when I thought I had it all figured out as to who it was by the end, M. Night pulled the rug right from underneath my feet and gives me a little twist that I was not expecting in the least bit. That damn M. Night. He can still make shitty films but somehow trick me.
Where this film really fails is in its way of showing the Devil off with its constant religious talk. We get all of these types of different versions of how the Devil is shown off in this flick: as a cartoon version we usually see in Hollywood, as one that goes around killing people non-stop until there’s no blood left anymore, and as one that is usually talked about in myths around a camp-fire. This annoyed me considering that the film didn’t know how to show off the Devil in one certain way so they tried with all of these other ways and then try to supply some religious ideas on us.
The film tries its hardest to go deeper with these moral and religious ways but in the end, just comes off as hokey and very forced upon the audience. The story frequently goes over towards this Latin security guard that is obviously very religious heavy because he has a cross around his neck, and constantly talks about the Devil and all of his ways. There were actually a lot of scenes showing him doing these things and they came off as dumb considering nobody in their right minds would act the way he does towards a real-life situation like this. Then again, this is a film and an M. Night Shyamalan film at that so I guess it can’t be that realistic.
The cast was also a bit of a bummer as well considering everybody here is one-dimensional except for Chris Messina as Detective Bowden. Messina is pretty good in this role and I can say easily seems like the voice-of-reason throughout this whole film. Even though his story arch doesn’t quite work to make me feel too much for his character, I thought Messina still handled this role very well and made it seem like he was a real person rather than just another “cop with a problem” cliche. Other than him though, everybody else is pretty unmemorable even though I like how the film didn’t really cast any big names, which gave me the feel as if these actually were real people.
Consensus: Devil has a simple but cool premise with a lot of cheap thrills, chills, and a nice little twist at the end but too many times does it try and get religious, which may feel necessary considering the subject matter but also feels incredibly cheesy and unrealistic.
A big-blue testicle vs. Brad Pitt.
A big-brained and blue super-villain named Megamind (Will Ferrell) finally beats his big-time rival, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). He soon then faces an existential crisis of sorts after he finds out that having no superhero at all to stop him from evil-wrong doings, is actually pretty boring. So, he creates a new enemy (Jonah Hill) who seeks to destroy the world, forcing Megamind to play the hero role for once in his life.
After checking out ‘Despicable Me’ for the first time earlier this year, basically everybody started comparing that to this film, making me want to see it even more. So now that I’ve seen it, all yo guys can shut yo mouths!
What really works with this film is that it touches just about every single plot-line, cliche, and convention that comes with a superhero comic-book story. You got everything from the smart villain, to the goofy-looking costumes, and whole lot more other elements that are not left untouched and that’s where the real fun of this film comes from. The film sort of pokes fun at everything we know of these superhero stories and twist them around in their own cool and original ways to be their own story.
The film is funny, but not in the way that you would expect from an animated-flick rated PG, it’s actually pretty adult-like. The humor is pretty witty with a lot of in-jokes, pop cultural references, but even enough jokes for kids that they will understand and laugh at but not as much as the parents. I actually found myself laughing quite a bit with this flick because the whole idea was cool right from the beginning, but how the film itself just tops on that with constant references, originality, and adult-like humor is what really made it work.
There is also a lot to look at here because the flick is beautiful and gets even better when the action is there too. The colors are very bright and vibrant but how colors will come and go in the middle of one action sequence is pretty cool. The music here is also pretty fun with a lot of old-school classics from AC/DC, ELO, Guns N Roses, Michael Jackson, and whole lot more to give this film the extra kick of fun it has.
My problem with this film is that the story is sort of what we always see in any superhero film, but when the film itself starts to dive right into those conventions it’s a little bit more disappointing. This film practically makes fun of these conventions so much that when it starts to hit into them by the end, it kind of left me bummed. The laughs also started to come less and less which had me bummed even more.
Will Ferrell is a lot of fun as Megamind because his character is not just evil, but he’s also very sensitive and likable which this film really worked well on with that character; Tina Fey is smart, funny, feisty, and a little sexy as Roxanne Ritchi, aka Lois Lane; David Cross is also very funny as Minion, Megamind’s second-man/thing-in-command; and Brad Pitt is awesome as Metro Man, who is the perfect combination of Elvis, Jesus, and Superman all rolled up into one hunk.
Jonah Hill is also pretty fun as Tighten but the problem with this character is that he is almost exactly like Syndrome from ‘The Incredibles’. Think about it for a second: both used to be good guys, they were both twisted into being villains by the good guys, and they both go insane-o in the end. You don’t realize this right from the get-go but once you start to think about it because it’s all the same disappointing as the ending itself.
Consensus: It may lose some steam by the end but Megamind is still a whole lot of fun due to its humor that pokes fun at all of the conventions of the superhero genre, it’s voices that are obviously having a ball, and the constant energy that this film keeps throughout the whole flick.
Cheesy titles don’t always make cheesy movies.
Being a teenager is too much for 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist), who shocks his parents (Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan) by checking himself into a mental health clinic for a little R & R. But when the youth ward is unexpectedly closed, he’s forced to live among the adult patients.
Being a teenager can be a bitch, hell, I should know because even though I’am the big 18, that still means I have lots of more problems to come along with me in life. All teenagers have gone through that time in life where you all of a sudden get very sad, depressed, and almost start changing into a whole different person. This actually happened to me and in order to get my sadness out of me, I made what you now may know as, Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews. Yes, sadness created this happy-go-lucky review site.
The tag-team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (‘Half Nelson, ‘Sugar‘) capture what it is to be sad and almost feel like you are the only one who feels like this. They also have a great deal of funny moments that really kept me laughing and get past more of the fluffy moments that actually happen. There is drama here as well but it’s not particularly over-dramatic which was good, but in a way, a little bit of a problem that I had with this film.
The film made me feel for the characters and get attached to the story but there were too many moments where I felt like this film fell into the fun-loving idea of these little teenagers being teenagers, and stepped away from the sadness that happens with depression and suicide. There were times where it got a little dark, but never to the point of where it felt compelling or believable enough. I guess that Boden and Fleck were afraid to get too dark and depressive when they have all of these funny moments but I still would have liked to see more.
Another part of this film I never understood was why exactly were these crazy people and suicidal people in the same exact ward together? I realize I may be nit-picking just a bit but I don’t think that totally insane people would be together with these angsty kids that are on the suicide watch or anything. I also never understood why all of these kids brought Craig stuff from the outside world but the stuff was never checked and how anybody could bring anything they wanted to bring. I mean if a kid really wanted to off himself, he could have easily just called up his best bud to bring him his gun. It would be as easy that.
The cast is fun and probably what always makes this film fun to watch. Keir Gilchrist is pretty good as the nervous, sort of sad, and pretty awkward Craig that always seems to know how his potential but for some reason can’t get by it. Gilchrist is good at making this character likable even though we never understand fully as to why he’s so sad, but it’s easy to actually stand behind the kid. Emma Roberts is also good as his little romantic interest, a girl named Noelle, who even though we never understand why she’s in there, we just know that she is cool and always lets Craig be himself, when it seems like he never will. They create a good chemistry together but they weren’t in this film together as much as I was expecting.
The best part of this whole cast was actually Zach Galifianakis as Bobby. Zach is so good here because he shows a lot of the usual goofy and eccentric comedy that has made him so known, but he’s not as hyper and crazy as he usually is, which probably makes him a lot easier to stand as a character. Bobby also has a very dark side to him which is what Zach shows a lot of promise in basically having you really get behind his character, and believe that this guy could be so funny, yet so sad deep down inside.
Consensus: It’s Kind of a Funny Story is pretty funny, entertaining, and features a lot of heart as well, but it almost feels like it’s a little too scared to step into some very dark spots where I think it would have really worked a whole lot more if the directors and writers went that extra mile.
Now I’m betting ‘Call of Duty’ doesn’t look like so much fun to all of these teenagers.
Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, teamed with photographer Tim Hetherington and spent a year embedded with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan, chronicling the hard work, fear and brotherhood that come with repelling a deadly enemy.
Anybody that watches a film about the war goes for a strong story, emotional wallop, cool action, and just pure entertainment. But when happens when you can get all of that in a war film that is not just real but something, this up close and personal.
Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger goes right inside of this terrible war zone where all of these guys’ lives are put at stake just about every second of every day. No matter how good of a film ‘The Hurt Locker’ or ‘Saving Private Ryan’ may be, they still don’t measure anywhere near the truth and this is what that film holds that is greater than any other war flick. Just about anything and everything that the soldiers do, the cameras are right there to capture it and it’s a real testament to how daring Hetherington and Junger were while making this film because there are some situations where they are not only put at risk of death, but they miss some pretty close bullets as well.
Another aspect of this flick that sort of seemed weird at first was how it sort of seems all-over-the-place. One scene we could be watching these guys talking about how they feel in an interview booth, the next scene they’re crying about one of their buddies just dead right in front of them, and then another scene pops up where they could be eating some din-din, messing with the cook’s titties and squeezing them. It may seem a little jumpy at times but there is still a whole lot of realism that puts you inside the lives of the soldiers that have to go through with this shit almost every day for a year and even longer.
Also, bonus points on not actually showing any of the dead peoples’ bodies or actual death footage because that would have probably just made it more like a snuff film and less of an actual documentary on these guys.
For most people, including myself, this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing being on the front-lines. However, what really got me was that there was just a constant feeling of dread that we could be listing to this guy talk about his loving family, and then the next moment, bullets are flying everywhere and he’s just about dead. The fact that these guys could still sleep knowing that they could be dead at any second really made me wonder just how the hell could they get any sleepy time whatsoever or even go back to the ‘burbs and get on with regular life. It’s like that scene in ‘The Hurt Locker’ where Jeremy Renner is in grocery shopping and he feels like a total alien to everything around him because he’s so used to the adrenaline rush of the war. It’s like that scene however when it comes to who portrays that better, it obviously has to go to this flick.
This film could have easily gone for straight-on politics but instead it’s all about the soldiers who fight for our country everyday, and it really was something else. Throughout the film, we get to know these guys for who they are, how they view death and life, and when they actually start talking about what they have experienced to fight for the country that they love, the sympathy will definitely start to swoon on in. These are real people, just like you and me and it’s really scary considering how much shit these guys have to go through but still at the end of the day be able to crack a smile and a joke. It’s gut-wrenching to watch these guys talk about their buddies that they lost in the field and what’s even worse is just how they are all able to do it with a smile, as if they fully haven’t realized that they just lost another friend, another human-being. Nobody in the whole world could ever relate or know what these guys actually go through, except maybe a vet, but even then, it was still devastating to watch.
In a world where the war is treated as if it was just an excuse for people to blow the heads off a whole bunch of Pakistanis, it was simply refreshing to get a gritty, realistic, and up-close look at the real horror that comes with being in the war. People have these unrealistic views of the war because of the trigger-happy generation we live in, but ‘Restrepo’ is not only a film that takes that whole view away from the general population, it would probably make people re-think. In a world where it seems like the Army is at every door-step trying to get more and more recruits for them, it was great to almost see a flick that shows you what comes with that and what may happen to you, if you decide to join. It’s definitely not the type of propaganda that the U.S. Army tries to go for but it didn’t need that at all. This is not a film you should see, it’s a film that you NEED to see, if you haven’t already done so.
R.I.P. Tim Hetherington
Who doesn’t love their mommy?
John C. Reilly plays a divorced man who thinks he’s found just the right woman (Marisa Tomei) to help him recover and move on. Unfortunately, the woman’s son, played by Jonah Hill, has no interest in allowing another man into their lives — a stance he proceeds to demonstrate in a variety of obnoxious ways.
I had no interest in this film when it first came out since its done by Jay and Mark Duplass, aka the guys who started this whole “mumble core” movement, so therefore I had no real interest. Then of course HBO had to come on by and I couldn’t help myself.
The Duplass Brothers do a pretty good job with this film because they know how to balance out humor, heart, and romance together all well. There are funny moments in this film but there more about being all cringe-inducing and awkward, which didn’t bother me because it made it all feel realistic. I mean when a kid says “don’t fuck my mom” at the first din-din, that’s just a little weird, especially if you keep calling your mom by her fist name.
The problem I had with this film was that I did feel like I was going to throw-up by how much the Duplass Brothers’ moved their camera around all over the place. It constantly zooms in and out, and even gets out-of-focus at times too and feels like it’s trying too hard to be realistic and just be a straight-up indie film with it’s hand-held camera. I felt like I was watching Tony Scott going indie for a second, until I realized that this film is about a guy and his girl’s son having a feud, not a train–on-the-run or any high concept like that.
Another problem I had with this film was that I felt like a little bit of it meanders right in the middle for no reason and kind of loses focus with its weird pace. The film is constantly building and building until Cyrus is gone for about 15 minutes, and they we focus on this relationship and it just feels a tad off. I don’t know what it was but the middle part of this film just seemed oddly misplaced and could have done better.
I don’t know if this film really had a script by any chance, because it more or less just feels like The Duplass Brothers just got the whole cast together, told them where the film was going to go, and they just let everybody do their own thang, which I think worked. There are a lot of moments in this film that just had me laughing by how goofy and weird this plot could get and honestly I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was some crazy incest angle in it here either. The film isn’t afraid to express its weirdness, which is something you don’t see in many films nowadays, especially with big-names like this one. It’s weird but not too weird for anybody just to watch and enjoy.
John C. Reilly is great as the perfectly named, John, because he plays this sweet, tormented, and overall likable dude so well that he doesn’t seem like he’s doing the same ridiculous act over again, it’s more or less just him being the nicest guy you could ever see in a film. Jonah Hill is the freakin’ man as Cyrus, because he’s playing a lot more of a subtle role than we’re usually used to him playing but I have to say that it was great to see him play silent and weird, and still be very funny. Both are great together because they create this little feud that starts off small with a pair of John’s shoes getting taken but then spills out into them just about beating each other. Just the scenes of them two staring at each other and practically try to win over the same woman’s heart, definitely had me laughing and entertained by these two.
As for the ladies here, Marisa Tomei is very good as Molly. Tomei has been in the game for awhile and it never feels like she’s doing the same role all the time and she plays Molly with that certain type of broken, but accessible beauty character very well to the point of where you believe that her character could really feel this much for her son and her boy-toy. Catherine Keener isn’t really doing much as John’s ex-wife, Jamie but she’s fine with what she’s given. I kind of thought how weird it was that John and Jamie were still good pals even though she left him or something and I don’t know I feel like once you’re done, it’s done. No best friends thing.
Consensus: Cyrus suffers from some annoying indie problems, but it features a simple story with heart, awkward humor, and performances from the whole cast that feel genuine and perfectly picked for each of their characters.
People staring into space doesn’t do anything. Unless it’s Bill Murray.
‘Somewhere’ follows Johnny Marco, a newly famous actor, as he recuperates from a minor injury at the Chateau Marmont, a well-known Hollywood retreat. Despite money, fame and professional success, Marco is trapped in an existential crisis and feels little emotion during his daily life. When his ex-wife suffers an unexplained breakdown and goes away, she leaves Cleo, their 11-year-old daughter, with him.
Writer/director Sofia Coppola knows an awful lot about having a very famous daddy and barely being able to see him, which is sort of the reason why this is an even bigger disappointment then I imagined.
Coppola does here what she’s done in practically all of her films but instead it feels like a cheap rip-off this time. She tries to, once again, shed a light on the whole art of “celebrity” and give us a glimpse into the life of a celebrity that I can’t really say that I felt connected to this let alone feeling like I was going to have much interest anyway. For this flick I wanted something new and instead I kind of felt a little bit cheated considering that Coppola does know what she’s doing behind the camera, it’s just the fact that she doesn’t know how to do a film where she isn’t focusing on a very rich and famous person being put through a whole bunch of depression.
Once again too, Coppola feels the need to give us these long, boring shots of barely anything happening such as Dorff just sitting in his room smoking and drinking beer, then another goes to him watching two twins pole-dancing to the Foo Fighters, and then to watching his daughter do some really cool ice skating routine. All of these shots come and go but stay for a very long time without any real emotion to what the story actually is.
There were times though where I felt like Coppola did a pretty good job with what she was trying to convey, especially when it came to this father-daughter relationship. These two obviously don’t have any real connection with each other but when they are both forced to be together, you realize that they both have fun together and treat each other nicely, which is what Dorff’s character needs considering all of the crazy shit that happens to him when his daughter isn’t around. There were a couple of scenes where I think Coppola hit the right note with trying to convey an emotion with this story but too many times did it sort of get lost in moments of random silence, and scenes where it just went on and on for no apparent reason.
Coppola also knows how to make a beautiful film here as well. Even though she is essentially poking a bit of fun at the whole “celebrity” high-life in LA, she still knows how to make this film look very vivid with colors that just pop-out and a surprising amount of cool cinematography. The hipster band Phoenix also provided the score for this film but they are barely ever even in it, which kind of disappointed me considering I think they would have made some cool background music for a lot of the scenes.
Stephen Dorff got his big “come-back” with this flick playing Johnny Marco because the guy has always had talent, he’s just never been in the right film to show it off. Dorff’s character is not a very likable guy. He takes advantage of everything he has practically been given, parties to the point of where he breaks his own arm, and has very little to offer his daughter when she comes around but somehow I liked this guy. I just had a feeling that he was a good guy and wanted to just make his daughter happy with him, even though he is not very skilled at doing so. Dorff is great with this performance because even though he barely says anything, you can see the sadness on his face the whole film and he just has this look to him that makes you want to empathize with him, even though you know he does all of this dumb shit.
Elle Fanning is even more impressive as the daughter Cleo because she plays up that “too wise for her age” role very well here to where everything she says seems very natural, rather than just being too cutesy or annoying. Her and Dorff have very good chemistry together and you can tell that through it, that these two love each other but don’t know how to inter-act and it’s really sad to watch but at the same time nice to watch, because they find ways to connect through some funky things such as Guitar Hero, playing ping-pong, or eating some delicious gelatos. It was also pretty awesome to seem some nice little cameos from the likes of Chris Pontius, Benicio Del Toro, and Michelle Monaghan.
Consensus: Somewhere has two great performances from Dorff and Fanning and features a nice little father-daughter story at the heart, but Sofia Coppola doesn’t do much here that she hasn’t done in all of her other flicks and packs way too many shots and scenes that don’t add anything to the real story.
Children are creepy and not just ones from Sweden either.
When 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) befriends his mysterious next-door neighbor, Abby (Chloe Moretz), the two outcasts form a tight-knit bond that gives Owen the courage to stand up to school bullies. But he slowly begins to suspect his new friend has a secret.
After checking out the original Swedish classic, ‘Let the Right One In‘, I got all of these people just saying I need to check this out and what not and I have to say that having director Matt Reeves (‘Cloverfield‘) didn’t really spark too much of my interest but it doesn’t do much to make me hate it anyway.
The one thing I have to say that Reeves does and he does it well is that he doesn’t try to eff around with the original, and instead gives us everything we practically saw in that one but with his own little slight takes on everything as well. Reeves creates a lot of tension within this film that got my blood really tingling and also isn’t afraid to let loose on the blood and gore when it came to the actual “action” of this film. It’s a good thing he made this flick R and didn’t try to go for a lame-o PG-13 rating, which he could have easily used as a cash grab.
The highlight of this whole film was probably my favorite car wreck I think I have ever seen in a film for a long time. Reeves keeps the camera in the back of a car, while it’s toppling over and it was a really cool thing to see because I almost felt like I was watching a video of someone on a roller-coaster, but instead I had Blue Oyster Cult playing in the background. Now adding a little bit of Blue Oyster ain’t so bad either and that scene just totally rocks.
The problem with this flick is that a lot of this is also Americanized which means instead of being a very subtle teen-horror romance there’s a lot of loud noises, driving score, and some unneeded special effects that look so bad. There is a score playing in just about every scene, just so we know that something crazy is about to go down and it was getting pretty annoying considering that it was only used to build-up tension, which it sort of did, just not as an effective way as the original did. The scares here were also pretty cheap because I constantly felt a lot of the annoying jump-scares, people jumping out of darkness, and silence-to-loudness kind of scares happen just about every time and I was less and less scared by it every time it tried to creep me out.
A lot of the scenes here that worked in the Swedish film, don’t really work all that well here because of the terrible CGI and special effects this film showed up on the screen. To put it kindly, they look cheap, and almost like they came off of a really crappy PS2 game that was around when the console first started coming out. Anytime Abby ran up a tree, attacked someone, or turned into her evil werewolf-like self, it all looked pretty crummy and although the Swedish version had its fair share of bad effects, this one had too much of them and therefore lessened my impact of the film originally.
However, as much as I may talk shit on this film I still do have to say that the story still works here even if it doesn’t feel as original as it did the first time around. The story of these two falling for each other and basically creating their own little world together, still feels genuine and beautiful without ever feeling like it was forced or taken directly from another film (which it was, but still it somehow worked).
I think the real reason why this story works so well again is because of the amazing leads they have in these roles. Kodi Smit-McPhee is very good as the silent, and sad type as Owen, and Chloe Moretz does an even better job as Abby. These two work great together and right from the beginning you can feel their chemistry just popping right off of the screen and you start to feel this little innocent and sweet love they build together. Basically, if you need a great chemistry between two young actors, just cast kids with some funky first names (Chloe and Kodi, come on!).
Richard Jenkins has about 15 lines of dialogue the whole film but is very good as the strong and silent dude who’s looking over Abby. The guy has a lot more development as a character this time and it also helps that Jenkins is just a perfect actor for the role as well. Elias Koteas is also very good as the cop who’s investigating all of these little strange murders that keep happening around town. Both aren’t really the high-lights of the story but they still show why they deserve these roles.
Consensus: Let Me In may not be as great as the Swedish classic, but it still features great performances from the cast, a surprisingly good direction from Matt Reeves, and just a great idea of not trying to mess around with the original too much but still standing on its own terms.