Everything you would expect from a car-racing movie: except for the cars.
Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are back together again but this time, are hiding out in Rio de Janerio after breaking out of prison. However, they still want to pull off that one, last heist before they head-out into the sunset forever. Problem is, they got one man standing in their way: a tough, and rough federal agent, played by Dwayne “Don’t Call Me Rock” Johnson. It’s everybody’s favorite group of illegal street-racers, versus the police in a knock-out brawl to the end to see who can get the money, who can pull off the job, and who can drive the fastest car.
When you go out to see a Fast and Furious movie, you know you have to expect loudness, cars going “vroooom!”, people skewing out terrible lines, and plenty of moments where men just stare each other down in a deeply sexual, but tense way. It’s what we come to know with this series and so far, it’s been okay considering every one of these movies seem to continue to kick ass at the box-office. Somehow though, they decided that maybe, just maybe, cars aren’t really what’s the most interesting thing for when you do an action movie. Thank the lord for that realization.
Director Justin Lin doesn’t do something that’s by any means ground-breaking, original, or life-changing with his direction, but what he does do is actually inject some energy and fun to a series that quite frankly, needed it in order to it to continue breaking records. In order to broaden up the audience of this flick, they steered (teehee) away more from the whole car-culture aspect of these movies, and made it more of an action/adventure type of movie full of guns, shooting, babes, and heists. In all honesty, it was a great decision because it really keeps the adrenaline going and allows there to be more exciting action scenes, rather than just having two guys go head-to-head in CGI cars.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any driving in this film, because there is, but there’s not a whole lot to the point of where you feel like the next time you hear a car turn on, you’re going to blow it up yourself. Lin adds just the right amount of car racing fun into this movie, while still allowing all of the craziness of the other action to follow in and quite frankly, kept my eyes on the screen the whole time. Do the scenes defy logic? Totally. Do they look as if they could never, ever happen in a real world we have a little thing called “gravity”? Of course. However, does that make it a whole lot more fun and entertaining to watch? Hell to the yeah! Lin seems like he knows what he’s doing with action scenes and it makes me feel a bit safer knowing he’s taking over the franchise now and not giving it to Ghetto-lover John Singleton. Honestly, why the hell did the guy do that movie?
Despite all of this insane amount of fun action that goes beyond just cars and racing, there’s still a part of this movie that drags and drags on pretty long, too. The opening scene starts things off perfectly and gets you pumped right up, and the ending does the same thing, but there’s a middle-act here that just doesn’t do much with itself other than feature a bunch of people talking about what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to do with it their heist. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t action every little bit here and there, but for the most part, it seems like they may have ran out of money or just edited out one big action sequence, and saved up all of their time for the last 20 minutes. Not to say that’s a terrible thing, but it did have me yawn every once and awhile, something I would not be expecting from a big movie that is in fact named after fast-ass cars.
But since this movie is from the same franchise that gave us Cole Hauser as an evil kingpin, you have to expect this film to not really be the intensely smart and witty script we’d want with something of the same nature like a Tarantino or Kevin Smith movie. However, you don’t also want it to be this bad. There’s cheap one-liners here that are unintentionally hilarious, characters who come out to say something stupid and meaningless to the plot or certain situation they are in, and melodrama that’s supposed to really enhance the tension and emotional-factor for this story, but just feels like a cheat to tack-on more time the audience has to spend with these characters. It just goes to show you that sometimes parents don’t need to get on their young kids’ cases about not having jobs, because they can always apply for a screen-writing job for these Fast and Furious movies. Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.
But where the fun and charm really lies within this flick is the fact it has the whole gang back (with the exception of Michelle Rodriguez, who is supposed to be dead!!!!), and they are all fun to watch. Vin Diesel does his usual stoic, scary-looking big guy act as Dom Toretto and can practically play the role in his sleep. Actually, sometimes it seems like he is doing just that but it doesn’t matter because the guy can still nail the same notes with this role, as he can with any other piece of shit script that gets tossed right at him. Paul Walker is also here making all of that cash money flow from his pockets by appearing in another one of these movies, when in all honesty: he does barely anything for them. The guy that stands in the background and always has to look serious just for the sake that his character is so damn stern and compelled by what is happening. If there is anything I have to give the guy, it’s the fact that he is quite the natural at it, almost as much as I am a natural at winning pong while I’m drunk. It happens, I forget about it the next day, and live my life. That’s about it in a nutshell.
Also, the side characters that you may, or may not, remember from those other flicks are here to just do their thang and have fun. It’s fine to watch them as they all fight with one another, give their own two cents on what the next best plan would be, and whether or not they should drive fast cars. It’s all stupid and unneeded, but hey; at least it’s fun to see old friendships reconvene, and new ones be formed right in front of your own very eyes. It’s sort of like my Sweet 16, without all of the Ke$ha and Katy Perry songs in the background. No, I was not the DJ, for the record.
Even though everybody’s pretty good with what they’re given, the one who really stands out the most is probably Dwayne Johnson as the angry, federal agent that just wants to take these racing-mofos down. As soon as Johnson pops up into the movie, you can tell the guy is ready to do some business and he gives that type of serious, tough-guy role that made him so popular in the first place with wrestling fans all-over-the-world. He’s dead-on serious with all of his lines, but it isn’t distracting in the least bit and somehow works to his, as well as the rest of the movie’s advantage by giving us a real dude that seems like he could actually take down each and every one of these illegal-racing bandits. Another side you could take on his performance, is that it’s pretty surprising how it shows us that maybe this guy isn’t going to be one of those crooked cops we always see in movies like this, and actually just does his job because it’s what he feels is right. Maybe I’m looking a bit too deep into this obvious character, but I know one thing that’s for sure: Johnson kicks some ass with this role and I look forward to seeing him take this role on longer and longer as this franchise goes into it’s 100th movie in the year 2099. Yes, it most likely will go on that long, as you can see by what’s coming out this Friday and what’s already being discussed. Everybody will be quite fast, and furious, even until the day they day. Even when cars are practically extinct for cool gizmos like this.
Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.
Consensus: Stupid, loud, and terribly-written, Fast Five is exactly what you would expect from a movie in this franchise, but it’s still fun, entertaining, filled with life, energy, and a bunch of charming performances that makes this the best offering of this whole franchise.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Mormons ruin everything! Except for Ryan Gosling. He is incapable of ruining anything.
The tale of Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney is a very strange one. She started out a simple, sweet girl who grew up on a farm, fell in love with her boy-toy in high school, then found him in England, kidnapped him, and forced him to have sex with her until he eventually got used to it all. Sound strange at all, yet? Well, what’s even stranger is how the UK press had a field-day with this and went crazy with this, well, crazy woman, making her a star and adding more head-space to her ego as it is. However, Joyce McKinney is not done with her 15 minutes of fame and comes back to the spotlight in some strange, unexpected ways.
If you’ve never, ever heard of Joyce McKinney, don’t worry, because by the end of this flick you will have all but enough of her. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, it’s just something you are going to be a witness to since this whole documentary isn’t just about the crazy shit she did for love with a Mormon named Kirk Anderson, but it’s about her as a person. Whether or not she’s crazy, is totally up to you, even though this movie and the events that occurred to her life after the movie was made, may have you make up your mind.
Errol Morris is one of the greatest documentarians of our time, so when he makes a movie about whatever the hell fascinates him, most likely, it’s going to fascinate the hell out of you as well. What once begins as a simple tale of a girl who falls in love with a dude, does whatever she can to keep that love, and how she gets in trouble for doing so, soon becomes more and more complicated as it’s more about this chick and how the British press went insane with her story. I don’t want to give away anything that might spark up some debates about spoilers, but what you are going to see with this movie and story is very odd and very surreal, but unlike Catfish and I’m Not There where it simply plays with the toys and mechanics of your mind as well as a documentary; it’s all real. A little too real, some may say, but it’s the facts of life that make it well worth living. Even if nuts like Joyce McKinney do roam about it.
However, what I say about McKinney is useless, because Morris never seems to ever be frowning-upon, or even judging her. He just lets her tell her story in a straight-forward way, with no frills or strings attached. Now, of course there is the idea that some of the shit she says may be a bit too cuckoo for Coco Puffs, but it’s just who she is. In a way, you learn to accept her story for what it is, and you learn to accept her as hard as it may be. But after awhile, you do start to feel sympathy for her story, what it is that she’s talking about, and just where the hell she has gone with her life. Sure, she may be a tad bit nutso, but at least she’s entertaining to watch and listen to, whether she’s talking about kissing Keith Moon or dressing-up as a nun to escape the press. Whatever the topic of choice may be, this chick loves talking about and holds a certain type of energy to it that’s almost contagious.
Hell, not almost, it is!
That’s what makes this documentary actually a fun one to watch, that isn’t heavy, doesn’t make you contemplate where the world has gone to these days, and doesn’t leave you with a dour-attitude towards life. It’s a bit weird, a bit of fun, a bit manic, and a bit happy, and coming from Morris (aka, the dude who’s known for getting a wrongfully-convicted man out of jail, mind you); it’s a nice surprise. Morris tackles the ideas of what it takes to be a celebrity, or somebody that is indeed considered “news-worthy”, but it doesn’t go any further than that. Can’t say I’m too disappointed with that fact, but at the same time, can’t say that it doesn’t show either.
There comes a point in this flick, once all is said and done, the wackiness is gone, and Joyce herself has all cooled down a bit, that the flick seems to sort of lose some steam and in a way, not know where the hell to go with itself. Morris seemed to get a little frantic at this stage of the movie because where he had, at once, had a whole story about a random chick who all of a sudden got big for kidnapping some dude, all of a sudden found itself at barely anything where nobody seemed to care about her, and nothing special was really happening in her life. And I’m not saying that her life isn’t special at all, but it’s that at a point, her life seems to lose the interest-factor that seemed to have been working for the movie so darn well the hour beforehand. I don’t know if Joyce McKinney’s story was all that worth a full, hour-and-twenty-minute documentary, but I do know that Morris finds himself in a bit of a sticky-situation where he’s so pleased and ecstatic about this material, but it begins to loosen-up after awhile.
That said, you can definitely see this movie to understand what a documentary can do if it takes something real, but also bizarre, and make it into a movie that plays out almost better than any fictional, Hollywood-produced movie. All flaws of the movie’s last half-hour or so, Morris obviously shows the love and joy he has with what a human-life can be all about, and isn’t afraid to show it for all of it’s craziness or originality. I can definitely say that Joyce McKinney is an original in the way that she took her fame, went with it, ended it, and then came back to it out of nowhere (in the strangest way, as well). Best aspect of it all too, is that it’s all REAL. Don’t get to see too much of that nowadays, now do you?
Consensus: Tabloid is nowhere near being Errol Morris’ best documentary, but there is still the unabashed feeling for fun, energy, weirdness, and originality that is present with this story, as well as the man’s direction of how he presents it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Not only do you stay the same age for the rest of your life, but you always stay sexy and gorgeous. Yay!
When Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is falsely accused of murder, he must figure out a way to bring down a system where time is money (no, literally) enabling the wealthy to live forever while the poor, like Will, have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through another day. Along with him, he takes Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of one of the wealthiest men alive, and they venture out to change the world, they once knew, and try to make it back to the way things once were before.
In today’s day and age, hearing the term “time is money” seems very relevant and places you in the world we live in where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and cash is getting harder and harder to acquire. It’s a mess of a world we live in and it’s another perfect opportunity for Andrew Niccol to capitalize on and make a great sci-fi future about, just like he did with Gattaca. However, comparing those two seems a bit mis-matched, as one plays out like an actual drama, where this is just guns, chases, women, sex, and money. Lots and lotsa money.
What I liked most about this flick was the set-up and premise from Niccol. He takes you into this future where everybody is practically living day-to-day, working their asses off just for another hour, and people don’t waste any time at all with what it is they do, so they just run just to keep up with time. It’s a pretty neat premise that Niccol shows and actually spends a butt-load of time developing it, showing us the perks, showing us the obvious cons, and also letting us know how people get by when they live in a world like this. It also looks gorgeous with some really lavish production designs and something about those cars that combine a futuristic look, with a 70′s grindhouse-car look and made them look so cool and retro, but something I’ve never seen before as well. Either way, this whole world that Niccol put me in was really cool but it only becomes a total shame when things started to change right in the middle, and not for the best, either.
The film changes it’s tempo from this dark, brooding drama about a messed-up future, to a slam-bang, action thriller where two Bonnie and Clyde-types are going around, shooting people, taking time, and trying to save their own time as well. You would think that with a good chunk of this film surrounding two people, running for their lives as their clock ticks and ticks away, there would be a lot more suspense and momentum to this flick, but I never felt it. The pace should have been more frantic, where you felt like these characters could have timed-out at any second and even though there were some parts where that feeling came over me (last 15 minutes were pretty damn tense), it sure as hell wasn’t enough especially when you take into consideration that the last hour is dedicated to it.
This film is also terribly silly, but not in a good way, either. There’s a lot of lame dialogue used here where characters use all of these dumb time puns and the usual corny, action bullshit where you have JT saying that he’s going “to take their time back”, and all that lame-o crap that we hear in every sci-fi, action film. But this time it’s different: because it’s all about time. Honestly, if I heard “cleaning one’s clock” ever used again when somebody said they were going to kill somebody, I was going to rip out all of the alarm clocks from my house, get a hammer, set them down, and smash every single one to pieces until I couldn’t hear a ticking noise! And yes, even the ones on the microwave and stove as well! Sounds dramatic, I know; but it gets so annoying after awhile. Just trust me on that and be ready to check-off every “time” pun you can find because I don’t think you’ll have any left by the time this is over. See what I did there? Okay, I’ll shut the hell up now.
But the idea of how these people actually lose and gain time was pretty silly as well, if not fully realized to its fullest. I’m not a big mofo when it comes to movies not making any sense or seeming illogical in terms of plot or character-development, but when a flick like this depends on it’s tools and methods, I have to expect a little something more in the plausibility department. Think about it: the only way to gain and lose time in this future is by touching arms together. That’s it. The way a person can save your life is by basically, taking your arm, saying how much time to give away, and holding it for about 5 seconds or so. That’s pretty much all there is to that idea and it would seem pretty easy to steal anybody’s time just by walking by somebody and taking their arms, regardless of if they want you to take their time or not. Maybe Niccol didn’t fully think this stuff through, just maybe.
If anything makes this film a lot better, it’s the action and the cast that this film has assembled. Since every character in this film has to look either 25 or younger, it seems like a very big stretch for this film to get people that look this age and I don’t think one person in this film was actually that age, but they all do fine jobs with it. Justin Timberlake is fine in one of his first starring roles, playing a very serious and heroic-like character as Will Salas. JT does his best with this material and even though a lot of the lines he’s given are terribly corny as hell (yes, I speak of the “time” puns), he still works through it and makes a realistic/sympathetic character that we can all stand behind easily. Amanda Seyfried begins, at first, by playing his damsel in distress that seems to just want to go home back to her rich mommy and daddy, and live the life she’s always wanted to, but that surprisingly changes when we soon start to see her and JT connect with each other, which is where her performance seems to get better. Their chemistry is very good together and I could actually buy them as love interests, as well as two bad-ass rebels that wanted to take down “the man”. It’s also surprising that I believed them as a couple because they rarely have any actual love scenes together, and even when they do, they are always rudely interrupted by the dickhead time-keeper; Mr. Cillian Murphy himself.
One of the more distracting aspects behind this flick is that 35-year old Cillian Murphy looks the oldest out of this whole cast, but other than that, is still pretty good as our “villain”, Raymond Leon. I use quotation marks around the word “villain” because the film never really seems to decide whether he’s a troubled, government worker that is just doing his job, or a guy that is truly a bad soul that just wants to make people’s lives miserable. That aspect of this character is never fully realized until the last couple minutes or so with him and it’s only because of how good Murphy is at playing him, that I can forgive the film for this mis-step. The actual villainous villain in this flick is played by Alex Pettyfer, and after seeing Magic Mike and loving him in that, I was really happy to see this kid here give a pretty good performance as a dude that goes around, killing people, and taking their times right before he does so. Such a baddie!
Consensus: The set-up and initial-pace from Andrew Niccol, has In Time start off with plenty of promise, but it soon falls down after about an hour or so, where the film goes from a thriller that features no real thrills, no real suspense, and a whole bunch of corny-dialogue that makes you feel like this film was supposed to be made way back in the 80′s, when these films made killings at the box-office. They still do now, but not as much as that lame decade.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Why the hell didn’t I watch this before Senior Prom?!?!?
Bill Cunningham is a guy that most of you probably don’t know, but should. The reason being: he has single-handedly, taken the fashion world by storm and made it his own play land of pleasures and desires. The guy’s been taking pictures of New York life from fashion, celebrities, parties, and social-happenings for over 5 decades now, and shows no signs of slowing down. Once again, you don’t know him, but you should and if you want to know him more, then here is his story.
I think I speak for most of the majority of young, adult males out there that don’t really care for fashion, and have never really bothered even glancing at the Fashion section of The New York Times. It’s not that I don’t have an open-mind to the world of fashion, because if my look of pajama bottoms and a alternative rock band T-shirt is any indication of my view, then you would most likely think that I have no sense of style at all. However, even though I may not give a single lick about whether or not I look desirable when I go out, cruising for some poontang at the clubs; I still care about what movies I watch and having an open-mind to whatever the hell comes my way. Being that this is a documentary about a guy that takes pictures for a living, and mostly all of them revolve around fashion, then you can automatically assume that I was not really caring whatsoever. Much like the clothes I actually present myself in.
However, about 10-minutes in, something weird started happening to me and my mood. I started getting happier, started finding myself more interest in this man’s life, and even weirder: I found myself caring about how these people looked in each and every single one of their get-ups. Mind you, I don’t care about fashion, but somehow, some way, this movie made me and also made me care for it’s subject like crazy. In fact, if there is a smart move that these filmmakers decided to make, it was very early on when they found out the subject for this documentary, and decided to hang-out with him for over 10 years. It may sound like one hell of a misery trip, especially if you’ve hung-out with your grand-mom and grand-pop for way too long, but that’s what makes this subject so damn compelling to watch. Here’s the thing about Bill Cunningham, he may take pictures, he may work for the Times, he may care too much about fashion, and he may surround himself around a bunch of artsy-fartsy people that bore me to death with their pretentiousness, but he isn’t what you’d expect.
The guy loves to take pictures because it’s his pleasure, and is more about quenching his thirst for photography, than taking any money he receives for doing them. The guy works for the Times, but like I said before, only works for them to have his fun, each and every single day just running-around town, taking pictures, fueling his desires, and just having a ball while doing so, without ever really collecting any sort of paycheck or rewards-balance. The guy does care about fashion, a little too much in some eyes, but he cares so much because he knows what looks good to him, may not always look good in other’s peoples minds and never, ever critiques people on what they look like, how they look it, and whether or not it is “in” or “out” (something I should probably take notice to). And lastly, the people that he surrounds himself with, may be the people he takes pictures of and occasionally hangs-out with, but to be honest: he doesn’t really have a close and meaningful relationship with them and always stays true to himself.
What separates Bill Cunningham from every other public-eye of the fashion world is that the guy knows what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and knows whats cool, but he keeps it to himself and never pushes his beliefs onto other people that don’t see it his way. He goes about his life just by himself, doing his own thing, and doing it all with a smile and nary an idea of ever slowing down. He’s the exact epitome of everything I would love to be in life, but the difference between me and him is that he was born right when the Great Depression started, and I was born roughly around the same time that grunge was really kicking-off (see the difference?). The guy is roughly around 83 by now, whereas I’m 19 and just sucking up life. The fact that I’m a movie critic and he’s a photographer that excels in fashion, and his story found a way to inspire me to go about life with more of a clearer and happier-view of life and work, is what makes this movie so damn marvelous.
You’re automatically in a good-mood when you’re around Bill, but he never ever seems to be faking all of the sunshine and rainbow-like days. He’s actually a very happy person and never seems to make an apology for the life that he’s lived. Yeah, so what if he doesn’t have any real close friends and yeah, so what if he doesn’t have his own bathroom and is surrounded by a bunch of files from every picture he’s ever taken? At least the guy is happy, satisfied with life, and ready for more that’s to come to him. Bill Cunningham was, and is probably one of the best subjects you could have for a documentary and if anything, that’s what makes this movie work like gangbusters. You love him and his never-changing view on life, and it automatically is thrown right onto you, the viewer. That’s what makes or breaks a documentary: whether or not the person watching can actually care about the subject by the time the movie is over. That aspect of a documentary is what makes this movie so special and definitely makes it the piece of work that’s meant to be seen, regardless of whether or not you care much about the fashion-world, or the fancy-schmanzty people that inhabit it.
I know I’ve been going on a constant-rant about the subject, more than the movie but that’s all there really is to praise when it comes to this movie. The filmmakers aren’t really doing anything flashy, new, or original with their subject of it’s presentation, they’re just letting the story tell itself out. Some aspects of the movie like where Bill Cunningham came from, what his personal life is like, and how he fell in love with the world of fashion are touched, but never attacked fully to have an effect on you, but that didn’t bother me as much because Bill is such a lovable guy to watch. If anything, Bill Cunningham is what makes this movie, and without him, there probably wouldn’t have been a movie. That may seem like a pretty obvious, if dumb statement, but it’s the truth and it’s what makes me want to pay more attention to what people wear, how they look, and if they’re hot or not, when I’m walking down the street. Just makes me smile thinking about it now.
Consensus: Bill Cunningham New York is not all that much about fashion as you may suspect. Yeah, they do talk a lot about what people wear, how it presents them as human-beings, and why we should give a fuck at all, but it’s more about the man, Bill Cunningham, and that’s what makes this movie work. We see him for everything that he is and forever will be, and that’s just a happy, and pleased man that never seems to get bored of his job or life for that matter.
9 / 10 = Full Price!!
Sadly, it’s more like the Stevie Wonder-version.
Corinne (Vera Farmiga) is a devout Christian that has a nice family, a nice husband (Joshua Leonard), and feels as if her life needs nothing more than just hope, happiness, and faith. However, time goes on, and Corinne starts to question her faith as examples of life’s darkest-moments come to be seen.
Seeing as this is a movie about people that believe in God and follow His word, you could expect a movie like this to be too goofy, too wild, and too annoying to take seriously. Think about the scene in Borat, where he goes to the Mass with all of the devout-Christians acting like a bunch of nuts, because that’s pretty much what I was expecting from this movie and the material within it. However, Vera Farmiga does something different that I haven’t ever seen in one of these movies before: she passes little to no judgement on these people that surround her.
This is Farmiga’s directorial-debut and even though she does hit the rocky-patches like most rookies do, she still has enough in the tank to make this movie work and keep us interested as this woman continues to question her faith and all that she believes in. In fact, the whole trip that she takes in her life, is more interesting than anything else that has to do with her and her faith and I think that’s a bold step on Farmiga’s part to focus more on a life of a person, rather than the religion they follow, and how heavily they do so. You are involved with this woman’s life, you see her for all that she is, all she wants to be, and all that she could be, but yet, she still struggles for it.
I like how Farmiga doesn’t just pop us into the story and expect us to get to know these people right away, but instead, she goes for the relatively, understandable punch and shows us Corinne’s life from the very beginning until now, so we have a clearer picture of her and her story. You’ll see why she follows her faith and why she believes in God so much and to be honest, it’s pretty believable. I don’t want to give away what it is that changes her whole stance on life, but what does happen to her and in her life, is pretty realistic and I can’t say that I wouldn’t blame her for turning over to another side, either.
But it’s not all about her faith and what she does, it’s just a story of her life and it’s told in a simple way that doesn’t go for the heavy-handed, dramatics of life, but the understated, relate-able situations we can sometimes go through. Farmiga may not be doing anything flashy or game-changing behind the camera, but it’s that utter sense of simplicity and telling a story like a normal person is what really took me by surprise. I wasn’t as surprised by how normal it was, but I was surprised just by how good it actually was, so there’s definitely a lot of credit for that. Just the fact that we get to see a story, about a female, and a female that’s strong and can hold her own opinions and beliefs to herself, makes me feel like there’s more out there for female actresses’ and directors. Good job, Vera! You’re one hell of a gal!
As for the religious material, it’s pretty 50/50 on whether or not you may be offended. Farmiga makes the smart decision on never, ever passing judgement on any of these people or what they follow, which definitely doesn’t seem like it will offend anybody, but then again, that’s coming from an Atheist. I don’t believe in God, so therefore, I didn’t feel like there was much more for me to be offended by as if believing in God is and was something you needed in your daily-life, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Maybe for some people, but not for me. That’s just like this movie, though, in how it may offend some, but didn’t offend me. I guess you have to take the whole “different strokes for different folks”-idea into debate and just let it slide. At least that’s how my simple ass looks at things.
Everything in this movie was kicking me in the right part of my ass to where I could really be interested and invested, but after awhile, it starts to lose steam after a final-act breakdown of epic proportions. After Corinne begins to change her ways and realize some more things about the life she can live, she meets an Irish dude that seems like such an obvious character, that he’s more or less just a convention of the plot to move it along. That, and well, the message of the movie is kind of skewered and I don’t know if that was her intent or not.
See, this whole movie’s point, to me at least, seemed as if it was going for the idea that faith can help those who want it, who need it, and who want to accept it into their lives, but for some, like life, it’s not always clear-cut and can change at any second. That’s the whole idea of this movie that I feel like I was beginning to endure and understand but then, out of nowhere, Farmiga changes it up on me and has me totally think otherwise, and not in the good way, either. I really can’t give too much away without spoiling all of this but it seems like the final point this movie seems to be making is that people do change, but not too much. There, I’ve said it and I’m done. Sorry if I said too much but it had to be understood.
Farmiga is fine behind the camera, but she’s even better in front of it and gives Corinne a very real, down-to-Earth appeal that’s easy to stand by and easy to understand. Farmiga feels like she was meant for this role of Corinne because as much as this gal may seem like she’s really in love with God and knows the Bible from start-to-finish, she takes you by surprise in showing you that it’s only a cliche, and not everybody is like that. Corinne seems a tad too complex for this story, since it does seem to go in one obvious direction the whole time, but Farmiga is always watchable, always beautiful, and always keeping this movie alive and on-fire, even when the story itself may hit a couple of puddles.
Farmiga’s also pretty good at choosing her cast and gives each and every person a time to shine. Joshua Leonard plays her hubby that make seem like a bit of a dip because he gets her knocked-up at such an early-age and only really gets married to her because of it, but after awhile, you realize that he loves her and just wants more from her, than she can even give. Dagmara Dominczyk plays Corinne’s fun and high-spirited best gal-pal and definitely brings a lot of energy to Corinne, as well as this movie, but is forced to take the sidelines for a tad bit after a plot-twist somewhere in the middle. Oh, and there’s also John Hawkes as Corinne’s daddy, who we don’t get to see much of but what we do get to see, is still very good and powerful, especially one birthday party scene that is willing to really catch you off-guard by it’s emotional-impact. These are just a few of the highlights, as everybody else is pretty fantastic.
Consensus: The last 30 minutes may change the movie’s whole outlook, but regardless, Higher Ground is still a very simple and subtle story, that’s done very well thanks to Farmiga’s acting, as well as her directing.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
These ARE the people we trust with OUR money?
The story takes place at an investment bank during a time span of about 24 hours during the early stages of the financial crisis as a financial analyst uncovers information that could destroy the firm. Tough decisions have to be made, pushing the lives of those involved to the brink of disaster.
In my honest opinion, this is the flick that the debacle Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps should have and tried to be. Which is an ever bigger shame for me considering Oliver Stone is one of my favorites and to see this young blood, writer/director J.C Chandor, practically make a better script, do a better-job behind the camera, bring-out more emotions, make a way, way better flick and take his spot, really makes me sad for one reason and one reason only: the times are changin’. However, it’s not something to really be all that sad about because trust me; after spending 2-hours with this movie, you’re going to be more than inspired to take all of your moolah out of the bank, and hide it in that secret vault behind that lame-ass painting G’Mom bought you last year. Don’t act like you have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m on to you people out there.
But I digress. For those of you out there who don’t know this already, Margin Call is the directorial debut of Chandor and it’s a real surprise because you would think with something this entertaining, smart, thrilling, and overall, good, that the guy has been directing for decades upon decades. As a director, the guy is all fine and dandy since he never really does anything flashy other than tell the story like it is, but where he really shines is the script. Chandor’s script is amazing not only because it shows you what may have happened to cause the Stock Market crash, but because he shows the Stock Market crash for all that it is, with all the tiny and intricate details, yet without letting anything go over our heads. Like many others reading this, I, myself am a regular, every-day citizen which means that any type of talk of the stock market, the dow, and yadda yadda, all sound like a foreign language to me. However, that’s why I’m glad Chandor decided to include all of that jargon here, but just enough for all of the little-known citizens to fully understand and get a feel of before he launched a full-out, attack of numbers, stocks, and the most important of all: money. Remember the word “money”, people, because it’s going to come-up in this story many, many times. I can assure you on that.
Instead of showing us a bunch of assholes that pretty much bankrupt this country for all that it’s worth, Chandor takes time with these characters and shows about each and every single one of them as human-beings, rather than people to be blamed for the mess they caused. Actually, everybody’s to be blamed here because they didn’t take notice as soon as they should have and Chandor shows that in many ways: some people feel guilt, others feel sad, others feel optimistic, and others, well, they just don’t give a shit because they already make $56 million a year and won’t really lose much after the whole crash is said and done, so why the hell should they give two hoots!??! It’s a very disturbing idea to think about and have sit in your head, but it’s also very true and realistic in it’s own way because while there are over thousands and thousands of people out there, struggling to make ends meet and support a family; these other people who are supposedly responsible for the whole shit-show, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the Benjamin shower. Why? Because they can and quite frankly, they don’t care.
That whole last paragraph may seem like a total tirade/rant and for those out there who came hear to read about Chandor’s direction, I apologize but it’s just the way the world works, and that’s the way that Chandor paints it. There are no heroes, there are no villains, and there sure as hell aren’t any underdogs here, either. They’re just straight-up human-beings that just so happen to get plenty of moolah, but also have plenty of decisions to make at their workplace. That’s why, instead of sitting around and sobbing about the worst that has yet to come (and trust me, it will come), they get-up out of their seats, do their job, and move on with their lives. That’s mainly the mind-frame of everybody else in today’s world and if not, then it sure as hell should be. Pretty sure I gathered a lot more from this film than I imagined, but none the less, it’s a great script that Chandor deserved the nomination he got for it.
My problems with this film lie in the fact that I feel like this film didn’t have much momentum going for itself. I mean think about it: we already know what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen, and how it may or may not be resolved. All we really have to do is watch everybody’s reaction and see what their view-points are. That’s not terrible thing to have in a movie like this where the central-problem of the movie is an actual, real-life happening that screwed many people over in today’s world, but it also just seems like it could have been a hell of a lot more tense, had it not already been known what was going to happen in the end. However, that’s why you have movie stars, and holy hell; what movie stars we have on-display here, all for show and tell.
Kevin Spacey is the center of this film as one of the more morally confused characters of the whole film. You can tell that he wants to stay true to his original vision of not selling off worthless stock, but as time goes on, you see this character start to fall back from this original idea as the “money” begins to comes into play and has to make-up and come to terms with the fact that he’s going to have to give into to being a coward, just so he can make a living and be fine in this dying economy. Spacey is always great in roles like this, but we barely see him get a chance to pull it off because he’s always too busy playing the evil, dick-headed roles that he seems to perfect so well. And even though, yeah, he’s good in them, it’s always nice to see him play a character that we root for rather than against, because he does the right thing and even if he doesn’t do it, at least he’s thinking it. It’s the thought and idea that counts and as shitty of an excuse as that may sound, then trust me; that’s more than I can say for any other character in this flick.
Zachary Quinto also stars in a very strong performance as the one guy who actually finds out about this problem in the formula and is left to solve any pieces of the puzzle that he can. Quinto isn’t somebody I have seen enough of in the past to actually give you my general opinion of what I think of him, but he’s very good here and it’s a real shame that he may not be able to get more roles after this, outside of Star Trek, because of the fact that (I may get shit for saying this but if you think about it: it is somewhat true) he’s gay. Once again, it’s a sad thing to say but it’s true because certain people just don’t want to see an openly gay men in a film, especially one where a character takes such a central focus as this. Yes, I know that it’s a very cynical way of thinking, but it’s the way people are and I hope that I’m wrong about Quinto because I would like to see him in more, other than just playing Spock. No matter how good he may be at it.
The real scene-stealer of this whole film is actually Paul Bettany, who plays one of the playboy bosses. Bettany has that perfect British wit down-pat here and shows that in every scene he has. However, it isn’t all fun and games with this dude, as he actually has a soul to let-loose and one that may not always seem the most morally-composed at times, but still understands how the world works and understands what’s going to happen to people, once the shit really hits the fan. Bettany deserves more roles like these and it shows that the guy can not only show the humorous-side of him that we see on-display in mostly all of his flicks, but also be able to balance it all out with a rare, dramatic-side as well. Jeremy Irons also pops in as the head-honcho, and does his usual, villainous shit where he comes into a scene, takes it over, brings out the inner-Scar within him, and just lets everybody know that he isn’t having anybody’s crap. In fact, the first scene where he’s introduced and allows us to see the real boss, play his cards and play them well, is one of the high-lights of the movie, not just because of the build-up, but because Irons owns these types of roles and absolutely delivers on everything we have come to know and expect from him.
Make no means about it: everybody in this cast is good and all get to show what they can do when they have the right piece of material, slap-dab in front of them. However, not everybody gets to join in on the fun quite as much as the ones I just mentioned earlier and in a way, as terrible as it may sound, seem like they are all just there to have a BIG-name on the poster. The useless roles for such stars as Demi Moore, Simon Baker, and Mary McDonnell all seem like they were created just for some more publicity, which isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re whole film is going to have them in it as much as the others, but they aren’t really around too much to really take their toll on you. Especially McDonnell, who literally shows up for 2 minutes, barely shows her face, and that’s it. Oh and even worse, it’s basically by the end of the movie, almost to the point of where we start to feel all trugged-along by this movie and all of their characters as it is. But hey, put her name up there next to Stanley Tucci and let’s see how many butts we can get in the seats. Apparently not a lot, but hey, it was worth the “money”-making shot. There’s that damn word again.
Consensus: While it lacks the tension due to the predictable turn of events that conspire, Margin Call is still an in-depth look into the lives of the people that made the ’08 crash possible and how, even though they may have screwed-up terribly, they are still human-beings none the less and made mistakes, that only you, myself, or the rest of the human-species would make.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
Ethan Hunt is back once again, and he’s freakin’ cooler than ever.
Tom Cruise stars once again as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who has to go undercover along with his team (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg) to clear his organization’s name after they are implicated in a global terrorist plot.
After a year or so of this movie, coming and going at the theaters, I still feel pretty guilty that I missed out on it. I missed out on it for many reasons, but the main, which one being that I just didn’t really care for the series all that much and didn’t even bother catching up with any of the other movies. As you all have probably been able to see, I’ve reviewed all three and rather enjoyed them all, but none stand anywhere near as close to this one. I’m still pissed I missed out! Damn you my broke ass from last year!
All of the M:I movies seem to have been all about the cool gadgets, the high-tech stuff, the crazy stunts, and the incredible amounts of punishment that Hunt was able to take. All of those factors, are still here, but they are given more class and pizzazz this time around that feels more like James Bond movie, rather than another, useless cash-grab for the audience. In a way, it is gunning for the wallets of moviegoers, but at the same time, it’s still offering us more than what we are used to seeing in action-thrillers of this caliber, and I think that’s all thanks to the one, and the only, Brad Bird.
After making animated-flicks like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Bird took his chances with live-action filmmaking and even though taking a popular-series like this seems awfully risky for a guy who’s never directed humans, up until now, he still over-comes the task of not only allowing us to have a bunch of fun with the material, but do it in a more sophisticated, smarter way that’s easier to believe and understand than most action movies. I know, it’s crazy to actually think a M:I movie would actually have us believe in some of it’s crazy stunts and action, but that’s what Bird does, and he does it oh, so freakin’ well here. But, what’s even crazier is how much fun Bird seems to be having, despite giving this flick a new look and feel that we haven’t ever seen before. Sorry J.J. Abrams, you tried, but the Bird will always fly higher.
There’s a couple of stunts and set-pieces that really mess with you and make you realize exactly why you love action movies so much in the first-place, that is, when they are done well and done the right way. The one scene that always sticks through my mind is when Hunt is climbing the walls of that Skyscraper, as if he was Spider-Man himself, and what’s so breath-taking about that sequence is not only how breathtaking it is to see on-screen in such a way that makes you wonder how somebody didn’t slip-off and plummet to their death, but more or less why you are so on the edge of your seat. I mean, think about it: we all know Hunt is going to survive this stunt, we all know he’s going to live, and yes, we all know that he’s going to end-up saving the day and doing all that cool, action-y stuff that we are used to seeing him do, but yet, we are still on-edge as in wondering if this guy is going to end up becoming a splat on the ground below. Seriously, the palms get sweaty, the hairs on your neck come-up, and the tensions get higher and higher, and it just continues on throughout each and almost every scene/sequence that Bird plays around with, and that’s what I missed so much with action movies, let alone, M:I movies.
The amount of effort that Bird puts into this movie and the material is outstanding and I can’t believe that this guy hasn’t done more live-action movies in his career. Hopefully, just hopefully, this will be the one flick that gets his name out-there for all of the major studios to finally take notice of and give a shot, because who knows what other animated directors are out there, just looking to get their notice for being able to direct actual people. Well, I guess we can all forget about Andrew Stanton for now, but hey! That was one time and one time only! Just choose wisely next time.
No matter how much people may hate or criticize his wild and crazy personal-life, when you get right down to it, Tom Cruise is still, and forever always will be a movie star and his fourth-outing here as Ethan Hunt, shows us once again why we all love him to begin with. Make no means about it, Cruise was born to play Ethan Hunt and no matter how lame or strange the past 3 movies have been in terms of plot, characterization, or action, Cruise has always prevailed in being the best of all and always being able to keep us happy and pleasant enough to watch him go around, kick-ass, and always bring out the best one-liners we can imagine in certain situations. Even the fact that Cruise does his own stunts is something to revel at, especially here, where it seems like it would be so much harder for a man who’s pushing 50 to do. However, like always, Cruise proves all of us nay-sayers wrong again and it just makes me hope and wish to see more of him in this role.
The rest of the crew that Hunt works with, all do great jobs as well, especially Jeremy Renner who, with this role and The Bourne Legacy, seems like the perfect guy to take over an action role, when the reigns need to be passed-down. Renner adds a lot of sensibility to this role and not only gets to flex some of his action-muscles every once and awhile, but his comedic-ones as well, and you know what? The guy’s pretty damn funny when you allow him to be. Just another reason why this guy is a total diamond in the rough when it comes to casting. Paula Patton’s role as Jane Carter may be a tad unbelievable mainly because she’s so young and brass that handing over a top-secret, professional-operation would seem almost too volatile to whoever assigned her, but yet, Patton prevails. Not only is the gal unbelievable sexy beyond belief, but she also gets a chance to kick some ass as well and show the boys a thing or two. Simon Pegg is always fun and nimble to watch as Benji, aka the comic-relief of the movie, but he’s not over-bearing and at least allows a lot of the tense scenes to just calm you down with his jokes. Overall, solid cast that actually gets to take-over the movie, more than Hunt ever does and that’s not so bad considering all of the characters are fun and interesting to watch.
My main gripe with this movie was that despite there actually being a villain, played by Michael Nyqvist, there’s no real-threat that ever seems to stand in the way of our lovable crew. After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s superb job in the last movie, it seems like it would be damn near *ahem* impossible to do anything as good as that, but at least give us the chance to have a villain that at least poses a threat to Hunt and everybody else. Instead, the guy is barely around and even when he does show-up, he doesn’t do shit and most of the time, just gets his ass-kicked. Where’s the real threat in that? It’s also even lamer that the show-down between the two never really occurs and even when it somehow does, it feels almost anti-climactic. Real, real bummer, especially since I can now say that Dougray Scott was probably a better villain than this chump. Does Jon Voight even count? Or Jean Reno for that matter?
Consensus: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the best in the series for many reasons, the main one being that it always keeps you excited, always allows you to have a good time, and never loses your interest for a second, and just goes to show you that Tom Cruise can still make any movie he wants, and have it be as successful or as entertaining as his last one. Long live, Tom. Fuck you, Katie!
Nobody in Iran seems to be happy.
The story focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple (Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi) who separate, and the conflicts that begin to arise when the husband hires a lower-class carer for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Right from the beginning of this movie you feel as if you know exactly what it’s going to be about and why. For instance, the first scene of this movie of is a discussion this couple has in front of the court over why they want to get divorced, what the stipulations are, and what’s to come of it in the meantime. You automatically think that this is going to be a simple story about two people, who were once in-love and once happy, now have all of a sudden decided to separate from one another and call it quits. That’s already a pretty interesting, if simple story, but that discussion of divorce, is the only type of it we actually get whereas the next 90 minutes are all about what happens to these two people once they decide to not live together. However, I feel as if I have told you too much as it is.
See, this one of those flicks where you can only tell so much, yet also, so little because you don’t want to give everything away about the story as it may just spoil every, tiny bit of info this movie will have planned and ready to surprise you once it all pops-out. You think it’s all about divorce, you think it’s all about this couple falling-apart, and you think it’s all about these two people never being able to be happy with one-another ever again, but you don’t know Jack about the story, and trust me, I didn’t either and that’s what’s so surprising about this flick. It takes you into places and areas you never thought you’d find yourself in with this flick, and what makes it even better is the fact that writer/director Asghar Farhadi knows how to make a compelling flick, almost by doing nothing behind-the-scenes.
Farhadi does a great-job behind-the-camera because he never, not for once, gets in the way of the story he’s trying to tell, nor does he get in the way of the actors way of portraying it. He just lets it all spill-out right in front of our own eyes and it’s a simple, yet smart-take on a story that could have been so annoying and so confusing, had Farhadi decided to stick his nose into too much. People will probably complain that this flick is way too talky and way too much about people fighting and arguing about who did what, how, and why, but that’s what makes it so damn interesting. The discussions these people have feel real and natural and as you sit-there wondering just what the hell really happened with the situation these characters find themselves stuck in, and just what’s to actually come of it. Farhadi has a natural-ear for dialogue and it’s nothing flashy, nothing witty, and not anything that’s going to make you feel like you’re watching the Iranian version of a Mamet-play, it’s just plain, simple, and raw to the point of where you feel like everything you hear and see is as real and believable as it can get. You don’t get to see that much in films nowadays, especially ones about domestic-disputes, even though, you’re sure to find that this flick is less about that theme and more about the others that surround Iran at it’s present-time in today’s day and age.
I’m really surprised that Farhadi was able to get the financial-backing for this flick and even get it released in Iran, mainly because it talks a lot of crap on Iran, it’s government, and just how it treats it’s citizens. Actually, I wouldn’t say that it does a whole bunch of shit-talking, but it does bring up a lot of controversial points about the way they run their government and it’s sure to make you think just why the hell people put-up with the crap they do over there. Obviously these are questions us Americans, in our beautiful, suburban homes ask everyday, but the film at least makes it reasonable enough to see why the people live there, and why others, simply want to get-out but just can’t whether it be political, domestic, or religious issues the government has with that person in-question. Once again, it’s pretty effed-up the way they live over there but then again, they may just be saying the same thing about us over here so I can’t really bad mouth them too much because in reality, they are human just like you or me.
Being human is also another point that this movie brings out very, very well throughout the whole 2 hour and 3 minute time-limit, and it’s an even-stronger point, due to the amazing cast that Farhadi has been able to assemble here. I, for one, have never really been a huge-watcher of Iranian cinema, but I can definitely say that everybody in this cast is great and it’s obvious that Farhadi knows exactly just who the hell he’s working with here, because everybody fits their roles perfectly, no matter how big or small. Leila Hatami is very strong and powerful as the main female in this flick, named Simin, and really gives us a character that’s worth holding onto and believing in, no matter how much it seems like she’s trying too hard. Not only does Hatami have an utter-sense of beauty to her that makes her stand-out in every scene she’s in, but her look on her face just features ounces of amounts of pain and sadness that lie behind her eyes and it’s not hard to feel the slightest-bit of sympathy for her, mainly because she just wants to be loved and help out the people around her that she does love in-return.
Peyman Maadi plays her estranged hubby, Nader, and does a great job with a character that could have really gone down the deuche-route, but still, makes it more interesting and sympathetic than I ever expected. Without giving too much away about this guy and what he does to cause this flick to go on and on for about 2 hours, he does an act of anger that is disputed throughout the whole flick, that leaves you wondering what really happened and how, but even better, is the questions you’ll be asking yourself about this guy in-general. He seems like he loves his daughter, his wife, and his father, but he can be so stubborn and shallow about the simplest-things that it makes you wonder about who he really is, and whether or not he’s a guy we should give a lick or two about, or just sit-back, be happy, and put a grin on our faces as he takes the noose. Seriously, this guy’s character is all-over-the-place, but in the good way as you don’t know whether or not he’s a guy you can like, care for, and actually trust, or just some dude you should want to see have his life be pulled-apart in front of his very-own eyes. Just like the rest of the film, you’ll be wondering more and more about what’s really going on underneath it all and I still don’t know how I feel about this guy or his motivations in-life. He definitely married the right woman though, that’s fo damn sho.
This film, for the longest-time, was doing such a magnificent job at keeping me alive, keeping me awake, keeping me interested, and best of all, keeping me into having the belief that everybody and everything, is exactly like real-life and could happen to you or me. However, that started to go-away once there was more to be developed about Sareh Bayat’s character here, what she does, how she does it, and why she does it and as mysterious or suspenseful as it may have been to some, it really bothered me because her character definitely isn’t the smartest out of the bunch and the flick doesn’t really show that for what it is, it sort of makes us try and feel sympathy for her, when in reality, I just couldn’t. I don’t want to get into the logistics as to why I just didn’t and couldn’t buy her character for all that she was, but whatever it was about her, she seemed to be a bit too dumb for the rest of the movie that built itself so well on believeability and understandings of the human mind and soul. Maybe I sounded a bit too hippie-ish right there, but you get my drift. I hope.
Consensus: A Separation may seem to repetitive and conversational for some people, but it’s just like any, ordinary thriller that you watch and waste your life on watching nowadays, except with subtitles, more thoughts about humans and why we act the way we do, and probably, hell, without a doubt, more suspense and twists that you rarely ever see coming.
Damn, Shakespeare is pretty hardcore if you think about it.
The original story revolves around the destiny of Gaius Marcius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes), a contemptuous Roman general who attempts to run for the Senate but fails. When his ensuing rage leads him to be banished from Rome, he must team up with his lifelong enemy, Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler), to seek revenge and attack the city with his army.
Now, I will admit it, I am not the biggest fan when it comes to Billy Shakespeare. In school, whenever I had to read one of his plays, I put all my heart and soul into it, trying to understand what the hell he was saying, why it was being said, and wondering why everybody didn’t just say shit like, “Hello, how are you doing?”, instead of, “Howeth now areth browneth?”. Obviously that is not something they say in any of Shakespeare’s plays, but you get my drift. Basically, it’s freakin’ confusing sometimes to fully read and understand what Shakespeare plays are all about and 9 times out of 10, I would always find myself Spark Noting the shit out of his stuff. Sorry Billy, you’re an inspiration to writers all over the planet, but I don’t know what half of this shit means.
So, that’s essentially why I was not looking forward to this flick because not only is this all based on one of Shakespeare’s last political plays, but everybody on-screen also speaks in the Old English dialect as well. After seeing Romeo & Juliet and practically despising it, I was ready to just turn it off and see what new episodes of Parks & Rec that they had on Netflix, but I decided to stay with it and you know what? Thank god for that, because this is exactly what I needed to understand and appreciate Shakespeare more, in a world where it almost seems like he’s treated as old-news, as evidenced by the homework that I used to do on him.
The reason why everything makes so much more sense here in a powerful way, is because we get to see anything and everything that Shakespeare is talking about. The script is basically line-for-line from Shakespeare, even though it’s oddly-adapted from John Logan, and because of that, we get to visualize everything that’s happening in this play, which allows Ralph Fiennes to run rampant as director and make every setting and every action, fit perfectly in with all of the dialogue. What really surprised me was the world that Fiennes created for this play, and how the grittiness and dirtiness of this setting, sort of fit in well with what Shakespeare was trying to say all those hundred years ago, and also, what’s sort of going on in our world nowadays.
In a world where uprisings in Egypt seem to happen all the time, a world where more people in America are beginning to join the Occupy movement, and a world where nobody seems to be happy with the job they have and fight back against the government, it’s surprising how universal and timeless this play comes off as despite being written in 1605. Civil unrest has, and probably always will be around no matter the country/region, and that’s what Coriolanus shows off perfectly. The world we live in may have a couple of changes here and there, but there will always be evil, there will always be revolts, and there will always be problems between the people and the government and the way that Fiennes lets all of this play-out in an understandable way, without ever getting rid of the original text is something very powerful in terms of previous Shakespeare film-adaptations.
Fiennes does a great job in allowing this story to tell itself off through amazing scenes where it’s just dialogue and nothing else. The misleading trailer pretty much screwed everybody over by promising a crazy-amount of action and blood in the same vein as The Hurt Locker, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. There is, however, about 15 minutes worth of action but the rest of hour and 45 minutes, is just people straight-up chatting/yelling/talking/spitting about at one another, and as boring as that may sound, it’s not because it captures your eyes and engages you right from the start. That’s the great element that Fiennes brings to this source material and even had me clinching my pillow at numerous times by how tense it got with certain scenes. Seriously, this film is no joke in terms of Shakespeare and capturing the heart and soul of it, and that’s something we have to applaud Fiennes for, as a director that is.
As an actor, though, Fiennes deserves more applause because the guy is absolutely compelling from start-to-finish in this role and it’s almost un-like anything we have ever seen him do before. Fiennes’ career has been mostly all about him playing these normal-guy roles, but somehow branching out of them every once and awhile and giving us some crazy, shithead role like the one he had in In Bruges. That same role, is pretty much the same exact thing we get here but it’s a lot scarier because of how the character of Coriolanus just stands over everybody else in the film. When Corionalus first shows up, the guy silences a crowd of angry rioters, but not just by yelling and threatening them, he simply comes out, uses a small-voice, and tells them that they are useless in the world that he lives in, and he steps on them and their demands. Something that’s said like that, should totally assure you two things: 1.) this guy is a total dick, and 2.) holy shit, I should be scared of him.
That’s the initial feeling you first get when you see him, but it starts to change-up a bit as you start to see more and more layers peel off from Coriolanus and we realize that he’s just another flawed character in life, just like your and I. He kicks ass in war and we applaud him for that, but we know for damn sure that he can’t run a country; he’s all about pride and love for his country, but sure as hell doesn’t love the people that inhabit it; and he’s a guy who’s all about vengeance and seeking revenge on the country that banished him, but yet, would still kill his family if they got in the way. Coriolanus is not a very cut-and-dry character that could be determined as a good guy, or bad guy, actually nobody in this film could even be considered one, but having him at the fore-front of it all makes for one compelling piece of a character-study, and shows us exactly why Fiennes is the scariest freakin’ man on Earth, whenever he’s yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs. Doesn’t matter what he’s screaming about or how he’s screaming, it’s just that the fact that he is screaming, is what gets us.
However, Coriolanus isn’t the most vicious S.O.B. in the film, despite what I may have you think. No, the one who really runs shit in this whole show is actually his mother Volumnia, played by the great Vanessa Redgrave, who absolutely steals every scene she is in. Redgrave is one of those actresses that I hear about all of the time, but never have really been given the chance to go out and see what she does best but I think may have to change that now because she is powerful as hell here. Every time this old gal steps into a scene, you automatically think it’s going to be another one of those goofy, old ladies that acts crazy because that’s all she can do, but in reality, with this character, you feel scared because you know she’s got something to talk about and she is not going to go away unheard from it, either. It’s a surprise that Redgrave didn’t get a nomination for Best Supporting Actress here, considering she took over the hard-job of scaring everybody’s pants off, despite being 75-years old. Damn can that woman act!
Another performance I was very surprised by was Brian Cox as Coriolanus’ chief advisor, Menenius, but not just because the guy is good (which he always is), but because the guy isn’t another villainous role for him to play. Say what you will about Cox and what he does as a villain, but the guy did need a new change of pace for him and I’m glad he got it here and took total advantage of it all. The other performance that really took me by surprise was Gerard Butler as Coriolanus’ arch-enemy, Tullus Aufilius. For the longest time, Butler has been showing up in shitty rom-com after shitty rom-com, and it left me wondering when the next time was going to be when we were actually going to see this guy be back to Leonidas-style bad-assery. Thankfully, Fiennes was thinking the same thing and decided to give him a very juicy role that not only shows this guy’s physical-intimidation he holds over people, but his way of speaking too. I can’t put my finger on it, but that Scottish accent just makes every single line of dialogue all the more compelling when it’s spoken out of Butler’s mouth and it’s great to see him get something like this. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to last very long at all.
The lamest one out of the whole cast that really surprised me was actually Jessica Chastain as Coriolanus’ wife, because for some odd reason, she just doesn’t seem to fit very well at all with the way everybody is speaking. That’s not to say that Chastain isn’t good here, because she damn well is, it’s just that comes off as the weakest-link in terms of making the Old English sound natural, and not as if you are on-stage trying to over-exaggerate the feelings going on throughout your whole system. Still though, she’s good with what she does and that cannot be taken away from her, even though it sounds like I sort of am taking it away from her. Oh well, I’m a dick.
My other complaint with this film that took me away from giving it a full 9/10, is that every time they would focus on a television discussion, it came off as corny and really unrealistic. I get that everybody’s supposed to be talking in the Old English-way, but whenever the news hosts would come on and start speaking in that tongue, it just bothered me and made me feel like I was almost watching a spoof of a Shakespeare adaptation. Then again, it’s another minor quibble from me and there’s plenty more I could go into detail about, but I’m not because I actually enjoyed this one more than I expected. That’s for damn sure.
Consensus: Coriolanus may have some wandering off as soon as they hear the Old English dialogue still kept in-tact, but for those who stay, will be open to a powerful, compelling, and hard-hitting character-study unlike any other Shakespeare adaptation ever that shows you not only can Shakespeare’s themes still be relevant today, but they sort of go along with what’s happening in our world and with our society.
This is exactly what a teenager’s life is like: confusing as hell.
Anna Paquin stars as a 17-year old girl named Lisa Cohen who has to deal with her regular life as a conflicted teenager as well as the moral, legal and sexual pitfalls of the adult world. She struggles with what is right and wrong after taking witnessing the seemingly accidental death of a woman and fighting the ever-building guilt resulting from her role in it.
Holy hell is it a total surprise that I actually got the chance to view this movie! This film has been basically sitting on the shelf for about 6 years now, all because of the fact that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan had an over 3–page script, that made the movie run for as long as 3 hours. Apparently, the studios didn’t like this idea he had and they made him try to shorten up the run-time to make it under 2 hours. Surprisingly, nobody got their way because the film got cut-down to a 150-minute time-limit (all thanks to the master of swift editing, Martin Scorsese) and despite a pretty big-name cast, the film was released in limited theaters, barely even seeing the light of day. Thankfully, that’s what DVD-viewing is all about baby.
So after going over the whole history of this movie for you in that last paragraph, you would think that a production this troubled goes two ways: either it’s a unknown masterpiece that only people who go out there and reach for it, will love until the day they die, or, it’s just a bunch donkey crap, that should have just stay shelved. Somehow, the film is somewhere in the middle and I don’t really know where I stand on this flick just yet, however, being the dedicated critic that I am, I’m going to give it my all just for you kind souls out there who actually give a crap what I have to say about this little indie.
There’s a lot to this film, maybe almost too much, but from what I was getting most of the times with this flick worked for me because of Lonergan’s superb writing. This is a very dramatic but heartfelt story about a young girl who’s coming to terms with the world she lives in and she’s starting to realize just what this world is really like, for all of the good and for all of the bad. Obviously this isn’t something new, daring, or original but Lonergan makes every scene, no matter how random or awkward, seem real and to be honest, a lot of these scenes and what he’s having these character say, did ring true to me.
I am not a young lady, never have been, and maybe never will, but I can definitely say that a lot of Lisa’s problems that she goes through here aren’t just what young ladies go through, but young adults in general. Everybody around you just annoys you, you want to get your point out there to the best of your ability, everybody is out to get you, and at the end of the day, you just want to be understood and listened to. This is how a teenager thinks and Lonergan gets us inside the mind of a teenager, by showing us your typical, everyday one that just so happens to be dealing with one of the most traumatic moments in her life so far. She’s confused, she’s guilty, she’s angry, she’s horny, she’s misunderstood, she’s scared, and she’s so many other things, but this is exactly how a young person is, especially when you live in a world like the one Lisa lives in where everybody seems to be just at your neck, no matter what it is you do or say. This provides some real, heart-breaking emotional context for a character that seems so based in her own reality, that you just don’t want to see her have her heart broken when she realizes one thing about the world: it’s not all sunshine and daisies. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there that you may have to be ready to fight off every once and awhile. Maybe that’s a little bit too much of my left-over teenage angst coming out, but it still seems true and reasonable considering the film I’m discussing here.
No matter how great most of that teenage angst stuff may be, the film still feels very stuffed together and I was sort of left wondering why they didn’t just take a risk and end up going with the 3-hour version instead. There is about 4 or 5 subplots here that could have been taken out, but instead, Lonergan leaves them in and has them pop-up at some of the most random parts throughout the flick, without us ever getting a chance to fully feel for them and get behind them. I get it, Lisa’s life is hectic and has a lot going on it, but did we really need those 5 scenes with her and her daddy (Kenneth Lonergan himself in a very greedy role) just talking about random ish? Or what about that little teacher-student “relationship” she may be trying to get with a hot and young male teacher, played Matt Damon? Oh, and let’s not forget about some of the random class-room scenes where Matthew Broderick actually gets mad over a kid totally schooling him in Shakespearean comprehension? There’s a lot of material that could have been easily cut-out here. Or, if they really wanted to, which they obviously didn’t, but if they did, they could have went with the 3-hour version that Lonergan proposed in the first place and we could have had a more coherent and understandable story that lays everything out for you all nice and even.
But even with this edited-down version that were given here, some of it almost feels like Lonergan’s coming on a little too strong with his numerous ideas and messages he’s trying to get across. There’s a lot of discussion about a post-9/11 New York that is very realistic, but also feels very random and pushy, as if Lonergan was trying to find a way to voice his own opinions about what’s happening to the area after that disastrous day, so thought the easiest way would to have kids yell and holler at each other about. Doesn’t feel right for this film, given the story itself, and I think Lonergan kind of loses his head a little bit with what he’s trying to say but after awhile, I just didn’t care and tried my hardest to get involved with this story, as crazy as it could be.
Seeing this movie now, in the year 2012, you have to wonder what a bummer it must have been for Anna Paquin to just see her high-rising, dramatic acting career, go almost to nowhere because honestly, this is a phenomenal performance, if not, the best I’ve seen from her, ever (still haven’t seen The Piano so bear with me for a little while). Lisa Cohen is not a very sympathetic character and she definitely is not a very emotionally-grounded character, and it’s one that Paquin plays up perfectly on almost all-sides. We see Lisa for all that she feels, all that she does, and all that she wants to do, and even though not all of her choices may be the most morally correct, they are still her choices and we have to accept them for what they are because she is a human nonetheless. Paquin was about 23 when this film was made, so it seems a little strange for her to be off playing 17-year olds, but she pulls it off perfectly and makes you believe that she really is this confused and bewildered young woman that just wants to do what she thinks is right, even if it may not have the best consequences for all involved. Yeah, I know that Paquin’s got it big now with her role on True Blood, but this film would have definitely made us think twice about her acting, whenever we saw her kill some dude by kissing him. Rogue reference, in case you didn’t catch on!
While you probably wouldn’t have been able to tell from my whole review, trailers, or poster, this film is much more about Lisa’s mom then it is about her, and I think with good reason. J. Smith-Cameron is somebody I haven’t ever really seen too much of in movies and with a performance she gives here as Lisa’s mom, I have to say I’m going to look for her more now because this gal knocks this performance right out of the park. Even though I do think that some of her scenes, just the ones where it’s her all by herself, could have been cut-out, she still gives us a sympathetic mother character that wants nothing more but to connect with her daughter like she feels like she should, but no matter how hard she tries, she still can’t seem to break the ice between them and get them together, connecting once again. It’s a sad thing to see in a film like this because you know this is how it is for almost all mothers having to deal with young adults in the house and Smith-Cameron plays it up just about as perfectly as Paquin does with her own character. They also fight like a real mother-daughter combo and that’s pretty damn impressive if you ask me.
Consensus: With a time-limit that sort of jams everything together in a very incoherent way, Margaret can sometimes feel like a film that can never make up its mind about what it wants to do or be about, but it’s also much like it’s lead character, Lisa, played to perfection from Anna Paquin. It’s a little-known flick that makes me want to see it again, just as long as I can get a hold of the 3-hour director’s cut. That’s if they actually have one for this movie.
Kevin Bacon can still dance. Don’t be fooled.
Slick and cool kid from Boston, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to a small town where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. However, Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) won’t stand for it and he lets Ren know about it, every step of the way.
For all of you loyal readers and followers of DTMMR, you all may be a bit shocked to find out that I have never seen the original, Kevin Bacon headliner in it’s entirety. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, including the awesome dancing-sequences that had me inspired for a day or so, but nothing more than just that really. However, apparently director Craig Brewer has seen it all, and loved it so much that it was the one movie to inspire him to make movies. That’s right: not Casablanca, not Citizen Kane, not even The Godfather, Footloose is the one movie that made this man inspired to make such flicks like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, and now, this remake of his old-school passion. It’s weird, I know, but hey, if you’re going to have a guy do a remake of a classic, have a guy that loves the hell out of the movie in the first-place do it. Then maybe, most remakes won’t suck nowadays.
The idea of featuring a town that actually “bans public dancing” seems a bit too 1984 the dog days of the 21st Century, but somehow Brewer has it make sense and seem a bit believable. This is a small, earnest town that all know each other, know whats going on, and have an idea of what’s best for the whole community. They aren’t some sort of small-commune that’s sheltered-off from the rest of the world because of their hard-earned beliefs of God, faith, and religion, even if those themes do hit-hard in where this story is coming from. Still, the idea of keeping the original premise in this updated remake isn’t as goofy, as well as a couple of other ideas as well, mainly because Brewer knows what does and does not work in today’s day and age.
Brewer, like his last two flicks before this, definitely knows how to work in a great deal of Southern-grit to his stories, no matter how wholesome or sweet they may be. For instance, the opening title-sequence where we see everybody’s shoes moving around, is a trick that was pulled-off in the original but updated in a more standard, gritty way that would be expected by kids of today’s generation, due to there being a crap-load of dirty, kegs, and beer being thrown-around as if somebody was throwing an old-school banger in the middle of the corn-fields. Oh, those were the golden days. Anywho, that’s not the only aspect of this flick that Brewer updates with his gritty look-and-feel, there’s a couple of other cool instances where we see how the world around us has changed to where these kids could easily want to rebel by dancing and sticking-up for themselves, but in the end, Footloose is about one thing and one thing only: cuttin’ loose and gettin’ foot loose.
No matter how much it may seem like Brewer is putting his own, personal stamp on this story, he still never forgets to remind us that this is a dancing-movie at it’s heart and core, and that’s all that mattered to me. Nowadays, dancing movies are usually recognized by two words: Step Up. But thankfully, Brewer shoves a little bit of his fist in the way of those movies and give us a great deal of fun and entertainment to watch, as all of these kids just shake their asses off like no other. The stunts, moves, and choreography are off-the-charts and as goofy as it may be to see a bunch of 18-year-old kids, dancing like Michael Jackson on crack at their high-school prom, you still can get past it and have a great-old time no matter what.
Also, to make matters even better, the soundtrack is awesome and definitely worth a listen. They start-off things so perfectly by keeping the old-school, Kenny Loggins track in the movie, and then start to dive-away from that and giving us a rawer, southern-bound edge to music, filled with the eclectic likes of David Banner, Quiet Riot, Zac Brown Band, and most surprising of all, and probably used the best: The White Stripes. Yeah, his days of giving Terrence Howard some key rap-tracks haven’t gone away in the slightest-bit, but Brewer still shows that he’s got a knack for putting in some cool-tracks, into scenes that you would not expect to gel so well with. Basically, when you put the combination of awesome music and awesome dancing together, you are bound to get some fun and entertainment, and if you do not for one second tap your toes to at least one second of this movie, you have no soul and need to get this soundtrack, ASAP.
As fun as this movie may be, there are a lot of goofy moments in this flick that seem so damn earnest and self-important with itself, that it’s just really hard to swing-by (see what I did there?). There are so many instances in this movie where I just had to roll my eyes by how silly things were, such as when Ariel, or lead-gal, feels the need to play chicken in front of train to show how much of a lost soul she truly is. That’s stupid, as well as all of the scenes with her deuchebag boyfriend named Chuck, who comes into disrupt things between Ren and Ariel’s hormones, and does exactly that, but yet, it’s annoying as hell. Whenever the guy shows-up, he’s just hammy, obvious, and way too violent for his own-good, almost to the point of where I felt like the guy made the story a bit too dark by some standards. Anytime he shows up, and this movie tries to get all serious and dramatic with me, I rolled my eyes, scoffed at it all, and pretty much didn’t care. But as soon as the dancing started-up and the music began to blast, then I just forgot about it all and had a fun-time. Isn’t that what dancing’s all about?
Casting this movie must have been a total bitch for Brewer, considering the guy has to fill in the shoes for so many iconic stars like Bacon, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and even Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others, but he does a nice-job in picking just the right names, for the right people, no matter how well-known or unknown they are. Kenny Wormald is a nice-fit for the rebellious and cool kid known as Ren McCormack and handles a lot of the dramatic-stuff, just about as good as his amazing dancing. His infamous infamous “freak out” dance scene seems a bit like parody at-first, but it just goes to show you just how talented this kid is at shaking his rump, and hey, I gotta give him credit for that because lord knows I’d never be able to achieve that. I just hope that Matt Damon or Ben Affleck didn’t catch a glimpse of this movie, or else they’d have a thing or two to teach Wormald about doing an official, Bawhstan accent.
As good as Wormald may be as Ren, the one who really impressed the hell out of me was Julianna Hough as Ariel, the preacher’s daughter. Her character is the most obvious and predictable out of everybody here, but the gal’s still very, very talented when it comes to dancing and being sexy, but she’s also very good in the dramatic scenes as well that makes a lot of her pain and anguish seem real and reasonable. Sadly, I don’t think the girl’s going to get many dramatically-acting offers any time soon, but it’s always good to know that there’s more to her than just a pretty face, a nice body, and a couple of sweet-ass dance moves.
Playing her old daddy O, is non-other than Dennis Quaid who is terrific as the preacher of the little town of Bomont, that not only wants what’s best for his little town, but for his daughter as well. Quaid is good in this role because as much as he may seem like a bit of a stiff that doesn’t budge on anything that concerns going against the sacred book of God, you can start to see a change in him by the end that’s as believable or moving as anything the guy’s done in the past couple of years. Seriously Dennis, you need to get back-out there, man, and show the world what they’re missing-out on. Everybody else is in this movie is interesting, entertaining, and likable, but the only one that really seemed to struggle is Andie MacDowell as Shaw’s wifey. To most of you, this may come as to no surprise whatsoever, but it’s a bit of a surprise to me considering that this chick has been acting for over 30 years by this point, and still has yet to churn-out a good performance. What the fuck, Andie?!?!?
Consensus: Some moments seem obvious, tacky, self-important, and earnest, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter all that much since Footloose is a fun and entertaining movie that shows some nice/believable character-development, as well as a love and passion for the original source material, courtesy of Craig Brewer.
If a mansion looks freaky, don’t enter it and make yourself at home.
This is the tale about a young girl (Bailee Madison) who moves in with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) and discovers they are sharing the house with devilish creatures, that can only attack you when the pitch-bright lights aren’t shining on them.
It seems like no matter what horror movie he produces, Guillermo del Toro’s name always seems to pop-up more than the actual stars in the movie. I mean it’s obvious that horror-aficionados love the hell out of this guy because of what he can do with any weird, creature design but does it really matter whether or not the guy produced the flick or not? I don’t, and this is flick is a prime example as to why I think that way.
Instead of making the smart decision and handing the directing duties to del Toro, the honors are given to a dude named Troy Nixey and believe it or not, for the first hour-and-a-half, the guy doesn’t do a bad job with what he’s given. Nixey does a nice job of not relying too much on showing his monster/ghost, but instead uses the darkness to keep our suspense up and to have us continue to wonder just what the hell is this thing that were dealing with here. This also sets up a pretty nice mood, where everything’s tense and creepy, and had me going for awhile. That is, until Nixey got the bright idea to show off his monsters about 30-minutes in, and then that’s when things went all downhill from there, folks.
Usually when flicks show us the monster right-away, it doesn’t bother me unless they’re scary and have a distinct look to them that deserves to be feared whenever they show-up. These ones here, are not those type of monsters. Without showing you exactly what they look like, I’m just going to say that they look like tiny, mouse rats that just got it on with a Gremlin, who just so happens to be the brother of Gollum’s more-deformed, little bro. It’s a very lengthy synopsis as to what these creatures look like, I know, but that’s the whole problem with this film is that they look absolutely as ridiculous as I made them out to be and totally takes you out of the film right away.
However, Nixey doesn’t even get that idea from the get-go, so instead, he just continues to pile and pile on more and more of these little creatures, in a way so that he can actually get us scared by them, but it doesn’t work and just made me laugh. Hell, it made me angry that these dumb-asses in this movie couldn’t just find it in their guts to pick up something and smash their fuckin’ bodies or do something. And also, what’s all that shit about them being sensitive to bright-lights, that nobody, absolutely nobody seems to use against them? This movie went from having me pretty creeped-out, to having me just angry with everything that was going on and most of that is because of the characters.
Notice how I ended that last paragraph by saying the “characters” and not the performances, because believe it or not, the performances are actually okay. I’ve never, ever been a big fan of Katie Holmes (one of the few similarities between me and Tom), but she’s actually fine here as the girlfriend that reaches-out to this girl early-on in the movie. Then, there’s Bailee Madison as that said girl and is okay too, but it’s obvious that she’s only there to be a bit weird and scream. And lastly, the one who I was very sad to see show-up in a pile of junk like this was Guy Pearce as the father, who just seems like he’s phoning it in beyond belief and that’s a real shame too, because Pearce is a great actor but just has never really been given the chance for the break-out role here in the U.S. If he thought this was going to do it, he was dead-wrong.
What irked me the most about the characters these three portray is that they are the standard, most obvious, most unoriginal characters to ever show up in a horror movie. It all starts off like nobody believes the little girl, who sees all of this weird shit; then weirder shit starts to happen; then they call up the psychiatrist; then one of the adults finally catch-on to what’s really happening; and then it’s almost too late and just about everybody dies. I’m not going to give away whether or not that last part actually occurs in this movie or not, but you pretty much get the gist of what I’m throwing around here. This is exactly the same type of crap you can expect from a horror movie, and it’s a shame because this is one that starts off with a whole lot of promise and even worse, it’s one that del Toro even signed-off on. I didn’t care a single-lick for any of these characters and I didn’t even care what these little ‘effers did to them either. It was a very blank feeling for me throughout this whole movie and just goes to show you that no matter how creepy or weird-looking your monster may be, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, show it in the first 30-minutes. That my friends, is what we call “jumping the shark”. And oh, does this movie do that all right.
Consensus: Even though it starts off promising with a creepy atmosphere, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark soon piles in to a cliche, predictable horror movie that we have all seen done before, but this time, with weirder-looking creatures/monsters that make you laugh more than squeal.
Yeah, don’t invite you’re real friends to you’re wedding. They’re assholes.
A childhood friend (Rebel Wilson) is getting married, and her three jealous friends (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan) are nothing but pissed about it. So, what better thing to do than party it up with beer, sex, and drugs? Woo-hoo!
When Bridesmaids came out last year, everybody was going around and hailing it as “The Hangover for gals”. In a way, it was sort of true since they did and said some dirty things that you wouldn’t normally see from a bunch of “ladies”, but at the heart of it all, there was a genuine and heartfelt look at the friendship that’s between two females. That made it a lot softer than people imagined so that’s why this film comes around, slaps them in the face, and gives the boys a little run for their money, and their coke as well.
Writer/director Leslye Headland based this off of her play (who the fuck would want to see a play about this?) and gives this whole premise a big deal of honesty that feels somewhat fresh. Rarely do we ever see in a film about three unlikable bitches, be so honest with itself as to why they hate everything around them and how they still don’t feel the need to change. It sort of gave me that Bad Santa vibe, that was mixed around a bit with Sex and the City, but even comparing these chicks to those prissy beotches would just be terribly wrong. Instead, these girls are the types that were the meanest, cruelest, and most evil girls you would have ever met in high school and still live in high school, and talk as if they were spreading the weekly gossip once again. These types of chicks don’t necessarily sound like the kind I want to spend an hour and 30 minutes with but somehow, Headland finds a way to make it a bit fun.
I don’t want to go far and say that I had an amazingly fun time with this flick but there is something entertaining about the big night before a wedding, going out, getting plastered, getting high, and hopefully by the end of the night, getting a little lucky. This film seems to have a bunch of fun with that aspect that we have seen done so, so many times before but it’s a bit darker and sinister here that seems to relish in the countless acts of debauchery. It makes me look forward to the night I may spend with my buds when they eventually get shipped off into the hell they call marriage, but hopefully it will be with a lot nicer people.
But as fun and entertaining as this film may be, the most surprising aspect that I found here was how little I actually laughed at everything. Watching somebody be messed up on coke and say stupid and uncomfortable things can be funny every once and awhile, but it seems like an old-trick done a thousand times to where it doesn’t even seem funny here. Even half of the mean and terrible shit these people say to each other isn’t as funny as it is just, well, whatever, they’re saying terrible and mean shit to each other so I don’t really care. Sometimes it’s funny, other times, it doesn’t matter. It’s just there and doesn’t do much for you.
Also, before I go any further I just want to point out the cheap trick that this film tried to pull by referencing Fast Times at Ridgemont High, not once, but twice in such a lame way! The first time they do it is almost like a homage to the whole infamous “Moving in Stereo” scene, and then the next one they actually talk about Damone and how much of a dick he was. First of all, it seemed cheap in the first place to have an homage but then to just actually go out there and reference the movie itself seems a little lame to begin with. Sorry if this doesn’t really seem like much of a problem to have with this flick but it came to me and I couldn’t let it go.
Back to these three characters though, because they never show us any reason to have sympathy or love for them but it doesn’t matter, because it seems like these actresses love playing that whole aspect up. Kirsten Dunst is a huge force to be reckoned with as Regan, as she shows that she can play up her bitchiness to her advantage, while also showing us a bit more about her character is in ways that we least expected; Lizzy Caplan can play the cynical bitch like nobody’s business, but there’s more to her character than meets the eye here and I think that’s where the most sympathy out of all of the characters go; and Isla Fisher has some of the best moments just being a total klutz on drugs and drunk, but now it’s sort of a cliche for her to play that type of character so it doesn’t seem like anything really new. Rebel Wilson has a nice screen presence as they’re friend who’s getting married, Becky, and does what she can with the limited screen-time she has, which is enough for me.
The problem with these characters isn’t that they are toothless and terrible to every one around them, it’s more that they are like this the whole way through and then they apparently have a change of heart by the end. All films like this one do the same-exact thing: show these characters doing mean things, showing that they never change, and then woolah, they all of a sudden love everybody by the end. The movie tries to convince us that these girls can all of a sudden end on a clean slate and act like everything they just did over the past hour, wasn’t something that mattered all that much and it comes off as fake and a bit too calculated for how these characters really are. I will say that Headland does show these chicks as being terrible at the start, and at the end, but the whole sympathetic route they take is not something that rang true.
Consensus: Bachelorette features a cast playing each of their roles perfectly and a fun atmosphere full of sex, drugs, and booze, but plays it too safe by the end with it’s sympathetic ending that seems a bit out of the norm after who and what we’ve been watching for the past hour.
And I thought Monster’s Ball was depressing.
This documentary examines the emotional aftermath of a huge triple murder in Texas, interviewing the two convicted killers (Michael Perry and Jason Burkett), as well as everybody that was either involved with this case, or knew the victims/killers.
The whole discussion about the death penalty is something that is very controversial, yet, is also very opinionated when it comes to certain situations. Some people believe that killers shouldn’t be allowed to live a life anymore, once they have already taken another. Others believe, that it doesn’t matter what that killer has done, he/she is still a person and deserves to live no matter what. This is a point that’s very interesting, one that I still don’t know which to side with, and also, one that’s probably more thought out than this film.
Werner Herzog is definitely a guy that seems fascinated in almost every single subject he touches on and the death penalty is no different. There are plenty of scenes where we get to see these heart-broken people, such as the killers, families of the dead, and a couple of other people that have to deal executions, talk about all of the problems they go through on a daily basis and just how they were/weren’t effected by these murders. Some of the interviews really do feel like they come straight from the heart and others, will take you by surprise by how weird they can get, but regardless, they take you by surprise by how far inside one person they can go sometimes and that’s all that counts. Notice how I said the word “some” in that last sentence.
As much as I think that Herzog definitely knows what he’s doing when it comes to documentaries, I feel like he inserts himself a bit too much and maybe loses track of things, such as is the case here. The documentary starts out with a priest talking about his experiences and thoughts about life and death and what it has done to him as a person, which is definitely the right way to start off this flick. Then it goes right to the convict on death row, Michael Perry, and is basically talking about the situation he’s in and how he feels about being closer and closer to hearing the bells toll. This made it seem like Herzog was actually on to something here and definitely made it seem like this was going to be a movie that was going to tackle the subject of capital punishment, with brute force and aggression, only the way that Herzog can. However, that’s not really what we get.
Where Herzog goes with this flick, definitely took me by surprise, but not in the good way mind you. Herzog then starts to show some of the police footage tapes of the crime scene with interviews from the cop that scoped it out, which is fine but then he starts to really go all-over-the-place. He starts to interview the families of both of the convicted killers/murdered, then goes on to a person that almost had a fight with one of the guys, and then goes on to a couple of other different people, such as a former guard for these executions. Some interviews are good, while as others, are pretty random but that’s not what bothered me the most about this flick.
What bothered me the most here was that Herzog just totally gets rid of these questions about the death penalty, which is one that plenty of people, would like to hear other views on too. Yet, most of the time is dedicated to people talking about how hands feel, how reading at such a young age made them feel (really freakin’ weird scene), and how this one chick got pregnant by her husband, without ever being able to touch him. Yes, it does go in some pretty strange places, which were very unnecessary, and it’s only like that because Herzog feels the need to put his own view-points in there and try to goof around a bit. The real question on everybody’s mind should have been; “Do these dudes deserve to live, or do they deserve to die?”. That should have been the million dollhair question that Herzog would beam at these people, but instead, he feels like he needs to push people to talk. A couple of scenes here show this, and it’s really annoying since these people’s viewpoints are interesting enough and when filming a documentary, especially a documentary on such a controversial subject, you should sort of let the stories speak for themselves. Then again, I didn’t film this so maybe it’s not my place to say how Herzog should, and should not film his documentaries.
The film wasn’t a total buzz-kill for me though, because I do think that some of these subjects do speak for themselves, even though they aren’t given that much time to show-up and speak their piece. These are people, that I hope I can never relate to, just because of how painfully sad their lives can be. All of the interviews with the daddy of Burkett, were very, very well-done, and that whole story about him having to spend Thanksgiving with his son behind bars, really added a lot more emotion to the flick. And it’s also pretty freakin’ scary to see somebody like Michael Perry basically just go up there and say that “he didn’t kill anybody”, when he is practically losing his life for that same act he is talking against. Problem is, the film touches on them a couple of times but never enough to give us the full picture here of what’s really going on in these dudes’ heads and you would think with a guy like Perry, who’s last interview could be right in front of your eyes, that we would see and hear a lot more from him. Sadly, it’s a Herzog show everybody, and that’s pretty much all we’re going to get.
Consensus: Into the Abyss definitely features moments that will shake you emotionally, but gets too bogged down by many other moments that are random and dedicated to other subjects, that aren’t as important or interesting as the main ones. Surprise to see a documentary that was pretty much as simple as they come, but I’m not really saying it’s a good thing. Thanks Herzog!
Ron Burgundy really does love Scotch.
The story revolves around Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell), a career salesman who gets fired, for falling off the wagon one last time. He returns home to discover his wife has left him, kicked him out of his own house and dumped all his possessions out on the front yard. Faced with his life imploding, Nick puts it all on the line – or more properly, on the lawn – reluctantly holding a yard sale that becomes a unique strategy for survival.
Anybody coming into this film expecting, yet another, yuckfest from Ferrell will probably be let-down right off the bat. However, if you’re going into this expecting another Stranger Than Fiction, you will probably get what you want, without the Emma Thompson narration.
This is a very impressive debut from Dan Rush because he initially takes a simple story of a guy, who is down-on-his luck and suffering from alcoholism, and gives it a fresh and lighter approach to make this story more interesting. I don’t want to go out there and say this is a comedy per se, but there are quite a bunch of humorous moments that work and bring a light feel to this film even when it steps into darker territory. This darker territory worked though because you actually feel for Nick and all of the problems that he’s going through, so when you see him getting the temptation of getting a drink, you can’t help but feel scared for the guy and hope that he doesn’t do what you think he’s about to do. Rush does a very good job at actually making us care for this character and his life, even though, deep down inside, he is a very sad and lonely man that can’t really be cured of his problems unless he cures himself.
Where the film really got me at was how Rush makes this story a lot more touching than I actually expected. The whole theme with this story is about how we are all lonely people in this world, and we somehow need to connect with others in order to feel less lonely. It’s a very real theme and one that works well for this movie’s subject matter, but what really had me going were some of the scenes that Rush puts in here that work and make you feel something. One scene in particular is when Nick goes to visit an old girlfriend, played by the stunning Laura Dern, and the whole scene is on for about 2 minutes but it’s the most touching and realistic scene of the whole flick that makes you realize; “maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel after all”. Really nice touch by Rush and also, especially by Dern.
The film does have its problems though, especially when it came to its metaphors. I knew exactly what the film was going for and what it was trying to say, but sometimes this flick does hit us over the head a little too much with what it’s trying to throw at us. Scenes like when Nick is walking past a Quick Mart and keeps on staring at it, wanting a beer, or when his old boss leaves him a drink in the bathroom of a place and he’s there, contemplating on whether or not to drink it. Some of those scenes were pretty obvious and bothered me but thankfully, they aren’t all there. Also, the pacing can be a little slow and actually reminded me a bit of The Descendants, where I felt like the film started up, then slowed down, then started up, then slowed down, and continued to do the same thing for the whole time-limit. A little bothersome but when you think about the whole product, it’s pretty minor.
Most people will probably realize that this isn’t Will Ferrell playing his usual “Frank the Tank” roles and may even consider this stunt casting, but it’s so much better than that. Ferrell has the charisma in his acting to give such a dark character, more likability than he has any right to be. The character he’s playing, Nick, can be very mean, very drunk, and very sad but Ferrell is able to bring a lot of humanity and heart out of this guy without ever over-doing it. In fact, the moments where his character is barely saying anything, are still powerful just because Ferrell is able to convey so many emotions just by sitting there and looking lonely. Very subtle and very strong performance from Mr. Burgundy.
The rest of the cast that surrounds him is also pretty damn good such as Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie’s son) playing a young kid that decides to help Nick with his Yard Sale/life; Rebecca Hall as a pregnant, but lonely, housewife who misses her hubby; and the always reliable, Michael Peña as Nick’s sponsor. It’s a small cast but a very effective one at that.
Consensus: People expecting another Will Ferrell laugh-out-loud comedy will probably be disappointed, but anyone who wants a sad, but inspirational story, featuring plenty of touching moments and good performances from the cast, will probably feel happy with the final product they have here with Everything Must Go.
Hans Landa vs. Edward Cullen: imagine if this was handled by Tarantino.
Taking place in the Depression Era veterinary medicine student Jacob (Robert Pattinson) joins a 2nd-rate travelling circus and falls for the star performer (Reese Witherspoon). Christoph Waltz plays her husband, August, a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic animal trainer who is as mean to his wife as he is to the circus creatures.
With all of this talk and hype about how director Francis Lawrence may take over the sequel for The Hunger Games, I thought what better way to know what you’re going to get yourself into than to check out his latest work. No, not I Am Legend, even though I wish it was.
I never read the best-seller that this is based off of (probably because it wasn’t written by Elmore Leonard) but I can definitely tell just by watching this flick, that it was probably one hell of a read with the story they have here. The story itself takes place in 1931, and it sort of feels like a film that could have been made around that time as well. This reminded me a lot of the old-Hollywood movies where there are little or no explosions, heavy violence, heavy cussin’, or CGI for that matter.
The cinematography, costumes, and set-designs also brought me back to the time of where things were harder to get and the people were a lot more sad than usual, but in the end, an honest works pay was still an honest works pay. It’s just a straight-up, old-fashioned, love story that almost played in the same reign as countless other flicks like The Notebook and Seabiscuit and rather than just telling another generic, love story that offers nothing new or original, we get something that is at least interesting to keep your eyes glued onto.
However, there were some obvious things that seemed to bother me especially when it came to the casting here. I really do want to like Robert Pattinson, I really do. I think beyond all of that Twilight shit he gets thrown onto him, somewhere lies a very talented actor that is ready to just branch-out at any second, but keeps on getting roles that just seem to put him in the same exact boat as he was back in 2008. Pattinson’s role here as Jacob (irony!) comes off more bland even though it’s obvious he is trying his damn near hardest. It’s not like watching this guy is brutal by any means, because he’s definitely a tolerable actor, it’s just that this role seemed like they needed a man but got more of a boy instead. Maybe in a couple of years down the line once he has a whole bunch of experience with some roles, Pattinson might be a forced to be reckoned with, but for now, I think he has to safely rely on Cosmopolis. For now, anyway.
Another piece of casting that didn’t quite work like I would have wanted it to was surprisingly Christoph Waltz as the angry circus-owner, August. I loved him as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, as did everybody else including the producers who pretty much give him the exact same role, but instead of killing jews, he was killing circus animals. This is a huge bummer considering that this guy doesn’t really disappear into this role at all and just gives a character that is a little bit too menacing for his own good. Yeah, he’s supposed to be a bad guy that looses his temper very quickly and easily, but this guy is so damn sinister and effed up in the head that I couldn’t buy him once as a guy that owned a circus with a bunch of fun-loving animals, or even buy him as a guy that wouldn’t kill every person that worked for him either. Waltz is good with this role, as you would expect, but this guy was just a little too mean for his own good and definitely took me out of his character’s believably more and more as the film went along.
Believe it or not, the cast member that actually finds a way of coming out clean throughout the whole flick is actually Reese Witherspoon as both of these dudes’ object of affection. She’s sexy, cute, and has a lot of charm to her that seems to work and make you realize why she is so damn irresistible and beautiful. Still, her chemistry with Pattinson is a bit lacking but I guess that’s another problem we have here with the casting.
Actually, the one performance that really t0ok me by hold was Hal Hollbrook here, who plays the older version of Jacob in the scenes where it’s just him talking to a fellow circus-worker. Obviously, you can’t compare 25-year old Pattinson to 86-year old Hollbrook when it comes to acting, but Hollbrook’s performance as a sweet, heart-broken old man comes off as one of the main reasons this guy is such a damn good actor and one that deserved a lot more screen-time here.
Consensus: Some of the casting and chemistry may be off, but Water for Elephants is still a flick that brings you back to the old-Hollywood days with a sweeping romance, some fine-looking scenery, and a romance that we can actually care for rather than just rolling our eyes at.
If only more schools had assistant principals like John C. Reilly working there, then school wouldn’t be such hell.
Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is a mountain of a young man. He’s about 15 and he wears his pajamas everywhere, including to school. When the school’s assistant principal (John C. Reilly) takes an interest in Terri’s life, he finally discovers that he has someone to talk to.
This premise sounds like one of those “adult and weird, outsider teen connect” movies that always end up saying the same thing while showing nothing different or new. However, director Azazel Jacobs seems like he’s above that formula and gave me one of the bigger surprises that I’ve seen recently.
Where this film works in, is it’s script that isn’t anything ground-breaking, but it still hits moments that are very true. The film shows that teens are awkward as hell when it comes to anything: sex, beer, talking to adults, doing chores, etc. This is the truth and being a teenager myself (young adult I prefer), I know that life can sometimes be a bit painful to sit with sometimes depending on the type of situation I get myself caught into. Life is pretty much this way for all teenagers and I think that this flick did a great job of showing that in ways that I haven’t really ever seen done in a high-school movie, let alone, a piece of indie work.
The film puts Terri in many awkward places and that’s where plenty of the comedy comes from, but it’s not all about giving that uncomfortable vibe of humor that people like Sacha Baron Cohen partake in so much, it actually has plenty of genuinely funny moments that may take you back to some of your own high-school experiences no matter how bad or good they may be. There are also other moments though, where this flick starts to show its heart, as weird as it may be, and that’s where the film started to win me over. All of these characters are likable and Jacobs spends enough time with them to give us a feel like we know them well enough and care about them as well. It’s also great that he doesn’t go down the same road of giving Terri some dramatic and emotional break-through to all of his classmates, the kid is still a bit of a weirdo but he is also a very sweet character deep down inside and that’s all that matter. Actually, that’s what this whole film is: sweet. And even though at first it may seem like just another weird and quirky indie movie, it will actually surprise you by how much it may or may not get to you. Give it a chance people! You won’t be disappointed!
As a whole though, some moments of this flick can get a little too weird for me and took me out of it as well. There’s a couple of the scenes in the beginning that seemed like it was just trying to be weird and quirky, just for the sake of being so which is never really a good sign for any indie flick. Also, by the end of the flick, we get this very long scene where Terri has two people over and even though it may be a bit a bizarre and humorous, it doesn’t seem very realistic. I don’t want to give anything away by saying what happens in this scene but some people get drunk a little too fast, and start acting like assholes, a little too fast as well. I mean I’m no expert on drinking, or even getting drunk, but I know that a couple of sips doesn’t get you completely zonked and doing idiotic stuff. Then again, I ain’t no light-weight!
I don’t know where they found this kid, but Jacob Wysocki is pretty damn good here as Terri. This is his first role and it’s a great role because the film basically is resting on his shoulders the whole time, but not once does Wysocki show signs of being a ill-prepared rookie. Instead, he struts his stuff like a professional and adds so much more dimension to this character than I could have ever imagined. Terri is a weird kid but he’s not terribly strange to the point of where we can’t bear to watch this sad sap anymore, instead he seems to be one of those pretty sullen kids that still knows enough about the world to make you realize that he is a good kid deep down inside. Terri may have problems, both at home and in school, but he also has a great big heart to him that Wysocki wears on his sleeve the whole during his performance here. Due to his physical nature (and I’m not even being a dick either), I don’t know how many more roles Wysocki will be offered in the future but I hope whatever it may be, that he chooses them right and gets to show us more of his acting skills.
However, as good as this kid may be, he’s definitely not the best performance from this whole flick. John C. Reilly is amazing here as Mr. Fitzgerald and probably gives a performance that should have at least been nominated for an Oscar. Just about every scene this guy has is perfect because he has a great blend of humor, drama, and insight with just about every scene that gives you this great warmth to his character every time he’s on screen. He’s a total goof ball because he tries his hardest to discipline these kids, but just can’t because he’s too much of a nice guy so instead, tries to help them all. The film also doesn’t try to show him off as this all-around perfect dude who’s right about everything, instead we see him as an actual human-being filled with more flaws and problems than any other regular teenager. He’s an understanding dude and all of the scenes between him and Terri don’t feel like the usual “parent vs. student” talk these movies usually go down, but instead come off as two friends who are just simply having chats about life and all of the issues they seem to both be having with it. They are both great together in every scene they have, but it’s mainly Reilly who owns these scenes by making me laugh but also realize that maybe not all of the staff at my school are as big of dicks as I may think they be.
Consensus: Terri may not be throughly consistent, but it’s a very sweet, kind-hearted, and believable little piece of indie work that shows what it’s like to be an awkward teen and also have to put up with the other problems that usually come from just being yourself. It may not start off so great at first, but it soon starts to grow on you much ado to John C. Reilly and Jacob Wysocki.
Thrillers need more techno beats.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a teenager raised and trained by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA operative, to become a highly skilled assassin. But when she’s sent on a deadly mission across Europe, Hanna takes to an English family and starts longing for a normal life. She must first solve the puzzle of her mysterious past, however.
The fact that this is directed by Joe Wright (‘Atonement’, ‘The Soloist’), definitely makes this film stand-out a lot more considering this guy isn’t really known for adrenaline-bumping action flicks. Still, it’s great to see a director who can actually get out of his comfort zone a bit and actually do a pretty good job with it.
What I liked about Wright’s direction was how much style this dude put into this flick. There are plenty of beautiful visual moments where it almost seems like you’re watching a rave party go down and how he just keeps the camera moving on the action is very tense and creates this sort of “nowhere to hide” atmosphere. It takes a lot for a director to take a total 180 from doing Jane Austen adaptations to doing action films, but he definitely shows a lot more promise when it comes to action than a lot of these other directors that have seeming to been doing it for over 10 to 20 years by now.
What always kept staying in my mind the whole time with this flick was the awesome action scenes and how Wright’s style really added a whole bunch more to them. In ‘Atonement’, Wright used this 7 and a half minute tracking shot and it was not only beautiful but also very unneeded especially for that flick. He does the same thing here with a couple of scenes but there was one that stuck in my mind and it felt right to the whole movie considering it actually keeps on continuing to build up more and more as the shot continues. There was this one shot where we see Hanna’s dad get off of a bus and end up at a subway station where he is met by 4 dudes who obviously want to beat his ass and the camera never leaves as we see him walking and then kicking ass. It was definitely one of the most memorable scenes from this flick and was a really good use of a tracking shot, and everybody knows how much of a sucker I am for those kinds of shots.
Let me also not forget to mention that the score/soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers is absolutely phenomenal and what I think separates this from many other thrillers. There’s always a constant dub beat in the background of this flick and it keeps on getting louder and louder and louder until you feel like you just entered a club full of teens all strung-out on ecstasy. I never really have been a fan of those guys much but when it comes to scoring an action flick, they do the job just about as perfect as Hanz Zimmer has been doing for the past couple of years.
The problem with this flick is that even though on the technical front, it’s astonishing, everything else seems to be pretty lame. The script isn’t anything special, nor is it anything worth recommending. Too many times did this film focus on Hanna and her little trip with this family where she got to see the world and encounter all of life’s problems on her own. Right from the beginning I knew they were going to go down this road so when it actually did happen it was kind of disappointing since it seemed like this flick was going to be a tad different from anything else that I’ve seen. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t really get attached to Hanna’s character considering she’s just one of those fish-out-of-water characters that obviously looks like she is a little Coo-Coo for Coco Puffs so it’s not like I could feel anything for her since she didn’t really have much to worry about because every person that walked into her, she practically killed right away.
Still, though, the biggest problem this flick hits with its end is that there is a little plot twist they decide to throw in here that was too obvious and the end with how Blanchett’s shoes come into play was a little too goofy. The film was just a bummer because it obviously drops the ball when it came to being a cool moment and it’s just a shame that Wright didn’t get a script that deserved him because he is probably the biggest star of this whole flick.
However, the cast is pretty good and I can’t really put the blame on them for anything whatsoever. Saoirse Ronan is pretty bad-ass as Hanna and seems like that sort of weird and freaky-looking kid that would be a secret cold-blooded killer, but then again watch in 10 years when I’m calling her the hottest chick on the planet; Eric Bana is pretty awesome as her daddy and is allowed to show off his action stuff; and Cate Blanchett is pretty much a total bitch as the evil and sinister Marissa. Good cast all around just not enough on the script side to give them the love that they deserve.
Consensus: Hanna is super stylized with a pumping score from The Chemical Brothers, and some very cool-looking action scenes courtesy of Joe Wright, however, the script fails to live up to the direction and just ends up being a little too boring and obvious to ignore after awhile.
Who says you don’t need another story about a drunk rich dude in the 21st century?
Irresponsible charmer Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) has always relied on two things to get by: his limitless fortune and the good sense of lifelong nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren) to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge – choosing between an arranged marriage that will ensure his lavish lifestyle or an uncertain future with the one thing money can’t buy, Naomi (Greta Gerwig), the only woman he has ever loved.
Having already seen the original and knowing that this flick was just another unnecessary remake used to boost up somebody else’s career, I can’t say that I was looking forward to this but more as curious. I was curious to see whether or not how bad this actually was and if, just if, it would make me hate everyone involved. Well, it didn’t really do either.
This film is definitely a little bit different from the original, in the way its story is shown. The original shows this drunken billionaire as a sad and messed up dude, but here, Arthur is shown as a charming and happy man-child which is the right approach I think this film took. The script has its fair share of problems in many departments but the comedy was pretty funny and there were a couple of zingers here and there that actually had me chuckling, which is something I was definitely not expecting in the least bit. About 1 in every 10 joke actually hits it mark, but that’s still better than 0 so I can’t say that I didn’t at least laugh a couple of times here.
The problem that this film hits is that it just feels too held-back from everything it could have possibly explored. What I mean by that is since the film is rated PG-13, you never get any real hard raunchy jokes and you don’t get anywhere near the close amount of debauchery as you got with the original. You see his drinking problem come up 2 times, you hear about how he apparently he has sex with all of these chicks even though you rarely see them, and we never get to see him go to any darker places than he was already in. The whole rating this film was given made it enough to appeal to just about everyone, but I still feel like they held-back a little bit too much.
Let me also not forget to mention that the problem with this flick lies within the fact that it starts to get very cheesy and predictable by the end, which lead me to eye-roll a couple of times. I mean I knew where this film was obviously going right from the start but sooner and sooner down the road with this flick, I realized that the laughs weren’t really here and even though the film did display a nice little amount of heart and emotion for its story, a lot of it just didn’t feel right and more of just cliche.
Your enjoyment of this film will probably be based on how much you actually enjoy watching Russell Brand for a whole 109 minutes. I like Brand and I think he’s always funny and this is no exception here. He spits-out jokes with rapid fire, almost never stopping, and just brings that great charm we all know and love him for. Brand seems like a different Arthur as opposed to Dudley Moore’s version and still is able to handle the expectations of this role very well. The problem that he runs into is that when it comes to him actually bringing some emotional and heart-gripping drama to the flick, he can’t really do it all that well. Brand comes off as more of a really soft dude whenever he tries to soften up his mood and it just does not feel right considering this guy the whole film is making references to Chinese little girls, Batman, and even the French in such a mean-spirited way.
As with the original, this one here really tried its hardest to have us relate to and care about Arthur, when he just seemed like too much of a dick to care about in the first place. I mean this guy is filthy rich, doesn’t have work a day in his life, and is about to marry Ben Affleck’s smoking-hot wife, and he’s complaining about how he’s not able to be with the one he truly loves. Come on, stop being a little bitch and just soak it up, or how about you actually get a job and stop being a little brat.
The supporting cast is also a lot of fun as well and damn near saves this flick. Helen Mirren is great as Hobson, and shows that she can be totally hilarious without barely ever cracking a smile. She’s sarcastic, realistic, but also very mean which is where I found most of the time she was on-screen to be some of the best moments. It was also really funny watching her try her hardest not to actually laugh at Brand doing all of his goofy stuff. Greta Gerwig gets her first main-stream role here as Naomi, and she’s very good but she seems too much of a type like that quirky, indie girl we see so much now of. Jennifer Garner is also fun to watch in this very unlikable role as Susan and she’s just totally crazy in a type of role we barely ever see her in ever.
Consensus: Arthur is a remake that is predictable, unnecessary in the first place, and doesn’t really do anything new here at all, but the cast makes this film enjoyable and funny enough to at least have a little fun for the time being. Still, who the hell needed an Arthur remake?!?
With this and ‘War Horse’, I’m getting pretty sick and tired of all these damn horses!
Former bicycle repairman, Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) made his fortune introducing the automobile to the American West and owned a small knobbly-kneed horse called Seabiscuit. Howard teamed up with a half-blind ex-boxing prize fighter, Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), who became the horse’s jockey and a former mustang breaker Wild West performer called The Lone Plainsman aka Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), who became the horse’s trainer.
Just by looking at this film you should know just what you are about to get right away. Yes, this is another sports film that is of course about the underdog, or in this case, the underhorse and there’s not much different here. Still, it’s a sports film that works none the less.
Director/writer Gary Ross doesn’t try to do anything new or even original with this material, other than just give us a nice story about “the little horse that could” and that’s not all that bad considering it’s a fun film. Everybody loves to see the long shot win so when you watch these characters and of course Seabiscuit himself try their hardest to do whatever it takes to win the next race, you can’t help but root for everybody involved because you know that it’s a true story and a great story at that.
Ross also doesn’t try to be subtle with this, which in most cases would bother the ever lovin’ hell out of me, but for some reason that wasn’t the case here. Ross constantly keeps knocking us over the heads with everything he’s trying to say and get across with this story: whatever mood these characters are feeling, the American public feels as well; Red and Seabiscuit are basically the same characters but in different life-forms; and Red long lives for a father that left him when he was a child which means you can start to see Charles father him. Ross does everything here to get these points and ideas across in the most obvious way possible but I think it added a lot of emotion to the story by making this more than just a flick about a horse that wins races, it’s more about how America felt during the Depression and how events such as a race-horse, gave hope to almost everyone who needed it the most.
The racing scenes I may add are very fun and filmed incredibly well to the point of where it looks like actual footage but there were problems with the fact that they just sound too unrealistic. I know this sounds like a weird complaint but being a person that has and still does play sports all of his life, the fact that you can have some a horse gallop behind you and it sounds like there is about 400 horses doing the same thing kind of bothers me. I get it, they want to capture the intensity of the whole feel and atmosphere of what it feels like to be out on that track but I highly doubt another jokey could hear anybody as perfect as they hear each other, while racing, and there is race going on itself. This isn’t just a problem with this film, it’s a problem with almost all sports film and the fact that the over-emphasizing of sounds hasn’t left that genre yet, still shows us that we still can’t have a realistic sports film that shows you what’s its really like to be out there in action.
Let’s also not forget to mention that this film is an astounding 2 ½ hours, where we don’t even get introduced to the h0rse until 45 minutes in. I kept watching the time and wondering just when I was going to see the horse itself, but I guess Ross was more focused on showing Peter Parker getting the crap kicked out of him playing a boxer. It also sucks that when the film actually ends, its very abrupt and we don’t really get a chance to see what happened to these characters. Usually these types of films end with a few words up on the screen but for some odd reason we were just left with the cold shoulder. Then again, I guess that’s why they call it ‘Wikipedia’.
The cast is also very impressive and carries this film through a lot. Tobey Maguire is a great fit for Red, this angry and frustrated type that seems a little weird at first but actually is a real human-being that actually has faith in this horse, which is just about contagious. Jeff Bridges is a whole lot of fun as Charles Howard who always seems to be so jolly and happy throughout the whole film, but when something bad happens, and oh does it ever, you really feel it coming right from his heart. This is one of those times where Bridges just looks like he’s taking advantage of a role that just suits his likability so damn well. Chris Cooper is also great as Tom Smith, a guy who seems like he cares about horses more than he does humans, but he sort of takes the back-burner to everybody else here and it’s a shame since his character was probably the richest when it came to being passionate. William H. Macy also has a fun little role as a radio announcer, Tick Tock McGlaughlin, and perfectly captures the sound, look, and act of a 1930′s radio broadcaster.
Consensus: Seabiscuit is a flick that is fun, entertaining, inspirational, and very well-acted by everybody involved, but it’s a little too long for my well-being and there are too many opportunities to really capitalize on the emotions here, that sort of just don’t work like you’d expect them to.