Just don’t kill people. End of story.
Two British pals, Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley), meet-up and decided that they both need something to do, need some money, and need to get their hands a bit dirty because they can’t handle being away from guns, weapons, and violence for too long. They decide to take a couple off odd-jobs going around and killing certain people, but some of it gets skewered as time goes along. There’s certain complications and confusions that come to base and that’s when all hell breaks loose, for both their personal and professional lives.
It may be hard to say this without most of you already having done the task of seeing this by now, but if you haven’t seen the movie, just know this: know absolutely nothing about this movie going in. For the rest of this review, I’m going to try and be as damnably vague and strange as possible, but just remember that it’s all for you peeps out there. You should all be grateful you have a nice guy like me, writing the movie reviews that I do.
What makes this movie so different and so original in it’s way, is that it isn’t exactly what you expect it to be. Is it a thriller about two dudes going around a hacking-off people? Sort of. Is it a human-drama about two guys who have problems in their life, and need to get by them all, simply by taking hit-man jobs? Sort of. Is it a horror movie that has something weird under-lining everything else? Once again, I say sort of. It’s one of those movies that isn’t one thing, and instead, plays it’s wild-card and just goes all over the boat, but in a good way, mind you.
Writer/director Bean Wheatley seems like a very skilled dude in terms of how good he is at actually being able to make all of these changes and combinations of genre’s and moods. First of all, the mood throughout the whole film is consistent. And even dare I say it, probably the most consistent thing about it. You never know exactly what the fuck is going with these characters, their issues, and what exactly is bringing them to do the bad and terrible shit that they do decide to do, but you know it’s something eerie. You know there’s a bolt or two loose in one of their heads, and wondering when the next person is going to snap and let it all out, is what will really keep you on-edge.
But it’s not even just the characters that really get you freaked-out by how strange they can be; it’s just the whole story itself. As soon as you find out that something is awry with their plans and that these guys can’t get their blood-money right away, you automatically know that not everything is what it seems. Even the people that these characters meet and have conversations with on a daily-basis aren’t the type of people you think or believe in that you can trust. You know that there’s something “up” about them, and therefore, you’re further and further left in the dust of what’s actually going on, what these characters are thinking right now at the certain moment, and most importantly, what the hell is going to happen next.
The idea that you have no clue in your right mind of what’s going to happen next, how, when, and where, is the type of steam this movie continues to build-on. As that mysteries continues, you’re idea of suspense gets more and more hyped-up and once that ending comes, you have no idea what to make of the story you just saw. Once again, I’m going to go into this next part with as much vagueness as I can, but just be warned: I may set-off a couple of fire alarms. Just be ready.
By the time the ending hits, I honestly had no idea what the fuck just happened. I sat, I thought, I read the paper, I checked my e-mail, watch some YouTube videos, and then decided to write this review. I though to myself, “What the hell does all of this strange shit mean, and exactly why has it happened to these characters?” I continued to think and I just gave up and realized that it was just one way for Wheatley to mess with us even more. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t in any way, shape, or form, think what happens in the end is a pigment of one of these dude’s imaginations, but something didn’t feel right to yours truly.
Was it scary? Hell yeah! Was it shocking? You bet your ass! Will I ever forget it again? SADLY, no. The fact that the ending is freaky and fucks with your mind more than the rest of the film preceding it, is a credit to Wheatley’s direction and the way he is able to set everything up. However, something just didn’t touch me in the right way where I felt like this was the way the story needed to end. It’s a slightly-bit too over-the-top, too crazy, and a bit too ridiculous. There’s a couple of hints and clues as to why this ending would seem the least-bit plausible, but once I got thinking about it and actually realized what I just saw; the lines didn’t connect. By all means, give it a look yourself and come up with your own conclusions, but just don’t expect it to all make sense. Especially after the first time. Or even maybe after the second, and maybe the third. But after that, you may come up to your own ideas, and also may have to call a psychiatrist.
Thankfully, though, the characters are at least well-written and more than well-acted to make up for these slight, but noticeable hiccups in the story. Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley are both good as the two best-friends who hang out and kill people for money and sometimes fun, but it’s strange because their characters are so different in many ways. Maskell’s is a total fire-ball that needs to be acting violent in one way or another, and even though he obviously loves his wife and kid, he still can’t help to be mad and angry at them for one thing, and then another, and then another, and then another. Whereas Smiley’s character is all cool, calm, collective, and very funny in the way that he just goes about life with a smile on his face and without an ounce of worry in the world. Both of them do get into fights, and heck, even brawls every once in awhile as well, but they still love each other and at the center of all this insane and crazy shite going on; they are still there to talk, to hang-out, and appreciate each other’s company as much as they beat the shit out of each other, too.
Consensus: Kill List is one of those movies that is weird, strange, mysterious, and always chilling in the way it’s plot moves and how everything happens, but something doesn’t quite feel right by the end where all of a sudden shit goes crazy, without much reason or rhyme. Still jaw-dropping to watch, but you may be scratching your head a bit too much after it’s all said and done.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
If you guys could also check out the extra page I have up top, that would be extra cool beans. Thanks!
Makes me ponder if all of those Jim Morrison death-tales are true. Hitchin’ a ride to France! See ya soon.
Rodriguez is an artist’s name none of you common-folk may know (hell, I don’t even know), but if you go to South Africa, they’ll tell you everything about him. However, everything except where he is, who he is, and just if he’s alive or not. This is a documentary where we not only talk about his past, where he came from, what he did, and why he has remained so obscure over the years, but whether or not this guy is able to be found or not. Just watch and see the results for yourself.
I’m a huge music fan, but I never, ever knew who the hell Rodriguez was. Before I started crying, opening-up my Spotify account, and start listening to all of that person’s albums, from beginning-to-end to know what all of the fuss was about, I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t alone considering he sold about six copies of his first album in America. However, on the other side of the planet in South Africa, that’s a totally different story. Not only is the man referred to as a legend there, but the guy was banned from regular radio-play as his promiscuous lyrics were apparently too much for the South African-government that was also going through Apartheid as well. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the simple fact that the guy made millions and millions off of this record, but yet, has no idea of it whatsoever. That’s where this story really kicks in and we get to discover just where this man is, who he is, and why he walked away from it all.
Right off the bat, you can really tell that these filmmakers not only respect their subject, but idolize him as well. So much is made about him before they even get to the tracking-shite, as we hear about famed-stories of him playing music, getting noticed, recording, doing concerts, supposedly killing himself and getting away from it all. This is all interesting as it made me feel as if I was really hearing about one guy in particular, or just some legend that everybody loved and made some pretty awesome music (song is still in my head). After awhile, I did realize that this was just one person in particular that these peeps were all talking about, but the ride didn’t just end there.
The next part of this documentary was tracking the guy and it put me on a real roller-coaster not knowing if they were ever going to find him and if they were, what type of mental state would he be in. It was cool to see all of these interviews where certain people would talk about where they think he is, why they think it, and how others can search for him themselves, which interested me because they find him just through looking at one of his lyrics where he actually mentions an area in Detroit. Now, I never thought that they would go this far, but apparently they really wanted to and thought it was worth it all! Can’t say I argue with it all that much after seeing the movie, but still, something is still lingering in my mind about it.
Okay now, before I jump into all of the wrong and terrible stuff about this movie, let me just keep on going with the goodies. The subject of Rodriguez because not only is he one of those obscure artists that has his own following, but because as time continues on and the adventure builds up and up, we get to understand learn more about this dude and what is so significant about him and his life of music. We hear so many people throw air up the dude’s ass, but we never fully understand it or hear it for that matter. Then, we go to South Africa where we see this guy’s legend take ahold and give hope to a bunch of people that needed it. It was cool to see that music could still keep people alive and well, even in the days of the Apartheid.
Just the whole idea that there was this one musical-icon that so many people loved and cherished, would all of a sudden, get up, and decide to leave it one day and never be found really surprises the hell out of me. It seems that in today’s day and age that staying completely out of the lime-light and being able to get away with it, is almost a ludicrous-idea, but the man was able to get away with it and from what I think now; probably still is. Just so cool to see where this movie goes, how it goes to where it does, and where it ends up. However, that’s the problem: where it ends up.
Everything that leads up to the initial meet-up with Rodriguez is awesome because the director and producers seem to love the hell out of Rodriguez so much, that they want to treat his real-life story with tender, love, care, and respect without offending him or anyone in the process. However, that’s the exact problem: they care TOO much about the guy. Once they finally get a chance to speak with Rodriguez, see what he’s been up to, and find out why he left the music world in the first place, the interview is so worthless and dry that I honestly had no idea if I was watching warm-ups or the actual interview itself.
For instance, once Rodriguez is told that he was a huge star in South Africa and how he feels about that, he just simply replies, “Uhmmm…well…I…uhmm…don’t know what to say to that.” Okay, that’s fine, it’s what he wants to say but that is all apparently fine with these creator’s heads. They think that’s a suitable answer and it will suffice. For any person who has ever watched a good documentary, you always know that the key to a good documentary about an interesting subject is being able to get all answers out of that person as much as possible. This interview here seemed to be all about heavy-petting and high-fiving all of the way.
Hey, I’m glad that these guys finally got to meet their hero and had a chance to chat about the dude’s life, but don’t hype it up for me so much to the point of where I’m getting the willies in my chair as to whether or not this guy’s going to be getting gnawed-on by some rottweilers or if he’s going to be same old hippie he once was before. It’s nice to know that the guy is still pleasant and happy in his latter-days, but it seems like there should have just been more with the interview with the man and more about him in general. Instead, most is just left on the cutting-room floor where we may be able to see it one day in the DVD-extras. Maybe. I don’t know if I’m going to go that serious looking for this.
Consensus: Searching for Sugar Man has exactly all of the right ingredients for a great documentary: interesting subject, mystery, suspense, and great look, feel, and sound. But it’s also missing the mist important ingredient of all that would have made it a “great” documentary, instead of just a “good” one: the hard-hitting questions we all wanted to hear answered, for better or worse.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
I love my brother, but I’d kick his ass in a game of pool.
Two middle-aged brothers who always are at-odds with one another and continue to find ways to challenge each other in anything, relive their childhood with an immature competition to see who is the better athlete. However, the oldest-brother, Jeremy (Steve Zissis), has a bit of a problem since his wife is all against the idea of him running around like a crazy man, so he and his bro, Mark (Mark Kelly), decide to hide it from her and try their hardest to continue the games.
The idea of having two people, set-up against one another, in a full-out fledged-competition, in a total battle of the wits and strengths, definitely makes it seem like the type of movie that not just any person wants to see. No, when two people go against one another, no matter what the competition may be, most of the time it’s the dude’s that want to see it, while the ladies just stay home, drink their wine, and shoot the shit about soap-operas or whatever the hell it is they talk about behind us dudes’ backs. Either way, this is the type of movie that just spells out, “E-P-I-C”, not just by checking out it’s premise, but as well as it’s title. However, if there was one aspect of this movie that should have changed my mind right away, it was the fact that this was a production of Duplass brothers, and if you know these guys: they aren’t all about delivering stories on epic-proportions.
For the Duplass bros., this story is more about the brotherhood and thoughts of the middle-aged man, rather than any type of one-up man-ship that this story may have you think from the start. However, knowing what the Duplass’ do and do best, you can’t hate this flick for getting down to the nitty-gritty of a story and characters like this. The Duplass’ are all about no frills, no mills movie-making and even though it does get a tad annoying to see the shaky-cam constantly zoom-in-and-out to create that realistic look and feel as if we are really there, it still does make you believe you are watching a true story in front of your eyes, no matter how goofy these guys seem to be.
But trust me, these guys aren’t that goofy. Yeah, they like to challenge each other to anything they can; they like to bust one another’s balls; and they definitely don’t seem like the type of bros. that would just bond and shoot the shit about life, especially after one just beat the other in arm-wrestling competition. These factors of who and how they are, is exactly what makes them seem and feel like actual brothers who are not only growing-up, but growing-apart from one another and soon start to realize that maybe their time is up when it comes to being young, cool, lean, and mean again. That’s especially obvious for Jeremy, but Mark as well and the way that the Duplass’ handle this material with care by never allowing it to just turn into a one-joke premise, really surprised the hell out of me. I didn’t like Jeff, Who Lives at Home and I didn’t particularly care for Cyrus, but hey, I’m always down to be surprised by two dudes that know how to make movies, and realistic, every-day ones at that.
As the movie continues, you do start to feel more and more for these characters and understand why they battle each other in almost everything they do, but there does come a point in the story that I feel like the movie loses a great-bit of steam, and just decides to do the same thing, over and over again. For instance, they bring-up the fact that the oldest-bro can’t be doing all of this work and exercise because it may cause him some stress, so that by the end of the movie, the guy is a total nut-job and a freakin’ beast when it comes to being apart of the competitions and being at home, with his wife and kid. I get that the movie was trying to show us how this yuppie-like, middle-aged tool needed some sort of freedom from everyday life and just the right opportunity to release the beast, but it didn’t feel necessary to me and worst of all, just seemed like the Duplass’ were over-reacting.
Even worse, I feel like the movie was trying to have us side with the wife of Jeremy, when in reality: the chick was sort of a bitch. I get that the wife wanted her hubby to not be the total freak-out man that she expected him to be and to at least take it easy but come on! He’s with his bro, he’s having fun, he’s losing some weight, he’s getting the exercise, he’s gaining some self-confidence, and even better, his son is starting to think he’s cool again, so what the hell is so wrong with a guy having a little competition with his brother?!?? Okay, maybe it’s not a “little competition”, but the fact of the matter still lies; it wasn’t really doing much harm to anybody, except for her idea and plans of treating him to a nice b-day and that pretty much being it, before he went back to his life of normality and boredom. Sorry wifey, in this instance, the husband is the one who rules and needs to make himself happy.
That’s not to say that the gal who plays her, Jennifer Lafleur, doesn’t do a nice-job with her role; because she actually does a very nice-job at making us feel some ounce of sympathy for her, even if it does feel a bit needy and selfish. She’s like the rest of the cast, though, in by the fact that as good as she is, she’s nothing flashy, amazing, or powerful to say the least, she’s just fine and does what the script needs her to do. I could say the same, damn thing about Steve Zissis, Mark Kelly, and even Reid Williams, who plays the son that just wants his dad to stop being so ultra-lame, and starting being ultra-cool again. Don’t we all, though? The only person who I haven’t mentioned and with good reason, is Julie Vorus who plays the mother of the two boys. It’s not that she’s a bad actress or anything, it’s more or less that he role and writing demands her to just sit-there, be a cooky grand-mom, try to settle the peace between the two, and yet, still seem like a total air-head of the group. In all honesty, I could have done without grand-mom, but then again: I don’t think this story could have so it makes sense as to why she was there to do her own thing.
Consensus: Most people (guys mainly) will probably be bummed-out as hell to see that The Do-Deca-Pentathlon features more self-loathing and middle-aged people problems than any type of competition or one-on-one battles than you may expect, but if you want to see a flick that’s about family, being brothers, living life, and coming to terms with who you are, then this may be your flavor-savor for you. If not, just check-out the entire series of Kenny vs. Spenny. That will most likely have you feeling more-accomplished than this one.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Anybody wanna split a case?
Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) are a happy, and young married-couple that like to let the good times roll, enjoy the night-life, and drink non-stop. It’s all fun and games for them, that is until Kate goes too far and decides it’s time for her to cut it all out and get her life back on-track. She does, but with most sobriety tests; there’s always perks somewhere to be found and that’s the problem Kate and her hub, will most likely run into.
Movies about addiction are nothing new, and 9 times out of 10, that is usually the case. Flight took everybody by-storm because every person that saw it, thought it was a realistic and disturbing look at alcohol addiction. Those people weren’t necessarily wrong, but they weren’t necessarily right either. Rather than getting into a debate about this and that movie, I’ll just state that this movie is a more-realistic look at addiction, the steps it takes to come out of it, and how the people around you influence you the most. In Flight, all we cared about was whether or not Denzel was going use the mini-bar or not. Once again, not bad, but not as humanizing as this movie is.
What I liked so much about this flick, is the way that writer/director James Ponsoldt approaches this topic, this story, and these characters, and he never really frowns upon them or makes judgement. You can tell that this dude, whether or not be him or somebody close to him that he might have known, might have gone through the same exact problem of addiction, and it shines through this movie because nobody ever seems to get the terrible-look that most movies make the mistake of. Of course there are a couple of characters that show-up here and there, and are just as sneaky and dirty as you’d expect, but they aren’t caricatures that are all about sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, and brew, they just like to have a good time, even if that means they end-up sleeping on a couch in the middle of the street.
Ponsoldt seems like he has a clear head on his shoulders when it comes to showing us what it’s like to go through a problem like addiction, moving on in the world, and trying your damn near hardest to get through it. Like this flick presents, it’s not that easy and usually, it’s like freakin’ hell, but the movie never seems to glamorize the life that these people have made for themselves. They get drunk, they get stupid, they get wild, and they forget about it the next day, and go through the same cycle. It’s just the way of life for some people, and that frank, but honest look at the reality of the situation, is what really resonated with me. I’m not saying that it made me think twice the next time I go to my buddies’ dorms and decide to throw back a couple of Natty’s, but hey, at least it gave me the view on what it’s like to be a person that has a problem such as this, and what it’s really like to get through it all.
But I can’t continue to go on and on and on about this movie without mentioning the person that really makes this movie fly: Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Winstead has shown-up in a bunch of movies, done her thing, but never really lighted the screen-on-fire. Sure, she was pretty awesome in Scott Pilgrim, but if that’s the only claim-to-fame for her to have, it isn’t anything showwy for her. That’s where this role for her comes through and shows us that yes, she can act. Winstead is amazing as Kate because she never loses her own self of living throughout the whole movie, no matter how much she is at the bottom of the bottle. She does get insane-o drunk sometimes, and always goes too far, but you always feel for her because you know she is a nice person and would never, ever do anything to hurt a fly. That’s why when things start to change for her and she starts to think twice about drinking all of the time, we really feel for her and we really stand-behind her, no matter how hard it is to stick with the sobriety. There are a couple of scenes where I thought her drunken-act was a bit much, but she still nailed it in making us worry for a person, that we knew didn’t deserve this type of a problem, but then again; who does? Kate could be you, could be me, could be your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, your dog, your cat, your pigeon, anyone. That’s the whole point of this movie, or at least what I thought it was, and that’s where Winstead really shines through the most.
Aaron Paul plays her hubby that’s always drunk and always acting like an ass, but he still has a nice presence to him where you feel like he is a nice guy, really does love his wife, and wants what’s best for the both of them, but just can’t put down the bottle. Once again, Charlie is probably like anybody we know, but he still has those problems and the marriage between these two, as troubled and as problematic as it may be, still touched me in a way I sure as hell didn’t expect, especially when that ending came around. Woo-wee!
The rest of the cast is pretty damn good too, even if a bit strange. Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) plays Kate’s co-worker and is great at playing it short, sweet, and subtle, even if I do think that a couple moment she lets loose just a bit too much. What I mean by that is that the guy is funny, we all know that, and when they give him the chance to be funny, it seems a bit misplaced. That being said, Offerman is still good and gives me fine hope that he may have the chance to do more than just Parks & Rec. Maybe. His real-life wife, Megan Mullaly plays the principal of the school that Kate works at, and is a lot better when it comes to pulling-off the dramatic and comedic sides of her skills, but even sometimes she feels a bit misplaced. If the movie decided to take a full-on comedic-approach, with dramatic splishes and splashes, then they would have fit right in. But this is not one of those movies and it doesn’t work quite well as I would have liked. The only person in this supporting-cast that seems to nail the tone down real well is Octavia Spencer as Kate’s sponsor, and does a perfect job at nailing that hard-look at being sober, but what pleasure and happiness it can bring to a person.
Consensus: It may not all add-up, but Smashed is a surprisingly dark, but realistic-look at addiction and shows that this can be anybody in the world, but just so happens to be a young, promising young woman named Kate, played perfectly by Winstead.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
Everybody, everybody, everybody!
It’s that time of the year again that we’ve all been waiting for. A whole year has been prepping for this and it’s finally come! The 2013 Oscars!
Since the Ceremony is tonight (let’s hope Seth MacFarlane doesn’t pull a James and Anne), here are my predictions on what could possibly happen, and a tiny-bit of my own thoughts because let’s face it: nobody is ever fully-pleased with the Academy Awards! That’s just the way the world works, people, but hey, enough of me, let’s get on with the predictions, shall we?
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Django Unchained
Dark Horse: Lincoln
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should Win: Jessica Chastain
Dark Horse: Emmanuelle Riva
Will Win: Daniel-Day Lewis
Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix
Dark Horse: Denzel Washington (nobody will ever beat DDL)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones
Should Win: Christoph Waltz
Dark Horse: Philip Seymour Hoffman
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Will Win: Anne Hathaway
Should Win: Anne Hathaway
Dark Horse: Amy Adams (like she’s gonna win)
BEST ANIMATED FILM:
Will Win: Wreck-it Ralph
Should Win: Wreck-it Ralph
Dark Horse: Brave
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT, BEST ANIMATED SHORT, BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE-ACTION):
I never had a chance to see any of these flicks. But I’m sure they are fine pieces of short-cinema, and hope somebody wins here.
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
Dark Horse: Lincoln
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Will Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Les Miserables
Dark Horse: Anna Karenina
Will Win: Steven Spielberg
Should Win: Ang Lee
Dark Horse: David O. Russell
Will Win: Searching for Sugar Man
Should Win: The Invisible War
Dark Horse: How to Survive a Plague
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:
Will Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Should Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Dark Horse: Les Miserables
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Dark Horse: Lincoln
BEST FOREIGN FILM:
Will Win: Amour
Should Win: Amour
Dark Horse: No
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Will Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Lincoln
Dark Horse: Life of Pi
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
Will Win: “Skyfall”
Should Win: “Skyfall”
Dark Horse: ”Everybody Needs a Best Friend” (the guy’s hosting, so why the hell not?!?)
BEST SOUND EDITING:
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
Dark Horse: Django Unchained
BEST SOUND MIXING:
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
Dark Horse: Skyfall
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
Dark Horse: Marvel’s The Avengers (would be pretty awesome)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Will Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Silver Linings Playbook
Dark Horse: Argo
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Will Win: Django Unchained
Should Win: Django Unchained
Dark Horse: Moonrise Kingdom
So, there ya have it, folks! Another year down, another year for the Oscar’s. Enjoy and have fun! Let’s hope that Big Ben pulls it out big in the end.
Is sleep-talking considered bad?
Matt Pandamiglio (Mike Birbiglia), is at a crossroads in his life. He works as a bartender at the Comedy Club and rarely ever gets the shot to tune his voice, he has a sleeping-disorder that causes him to move around at night in a daze of sleep, and can’t commit to his girl-friend of 8 years (Lauren Ambrose). Things begin to change for Matt, however, and he soon finds himself on the road, doing gigs, making money, finding new friends, and finding peace with his life. However, not everything’s so good between him and his girl and once that idea of getting married pops-up, life isn’t so grand and peaceful for dear old Matt anymore.
Mike Birbiglia is a pretty damn funny comedian. The guy has timing, the guy’s honest, the guy knows when and how to make fun of himself, and best of all: he feels like the average, everyday guy, like you or me could get up on stage and start saying the shit he says and get an equal-amount of laughter and applause. It’s what works for him so well and has kept him going on and and on for all of these days and that’s why I thought a flick where he tells his own story, his own way, and with him starring in it, that I was in for a sure treat. However, I think it’s time for me and Mike to stick to stand-up. Only for a little bit, though.
No matter what type of tone or genre this movie is mixing around with, Birbiglia always keeps it funny. The dream sequences are hilarious because they allow him to really unleash his wild side and get utterly, and terribly ridiculous with the whole thang, but that’s not the best-part of this movie or it’s comedy-aspect. What makes this movie so funny is how Birbiglia is able to not only poke jokes at the goofballs around him that seem like walking-caricatures of Birbiglia’s own mind, but also poke jokes at himself. That’s what I’ve always loved about the dude’s stand-up and it was so great to see him take that one-step further in this movie and let loose on himself, even he’s visibly at his lowest.
But that doesn’t matter, because yes, he is a comedian and he’s supposed to be funny. So yeah, good for him for being funny, aka, doing the job he’s supposed to do. Despite being funny, Birbiglia is able to bring-out something within this material that I didn’t think was at all possible: drama. The whole movie plays-out like a shaggy dog comedy, where it’s this guy trying to work his way up the comedy-ladder, make people laugh, get gigs, get money, find meaning in life, but in a funny way, but in the back of it’s mind, there’s always this downright serious and heartbreaking drama at the center-fold. The whole plot with Birbiglia and his girlfriend of 8 years who seem to obviously love each other and seem to obviously know everything about one another, but still can’t find a way to get married, really sets this flick up for some terribly honest and compelling material. Material that I didn’t think this movie had the balls of juggling with, and in a way: I was right.
Before I jump into what this movie messed-up on, I just want to say that with the obvious intentions and motivations in Birbiglia’s mind, I thought that he achieved something that wasn’t possible: getting more than just comedy, out of a story of a comic. He makes it more than just a story about living your dream and making something out of yourself, but making it about how you need to have direction, no matter how old or young you are. You need to really wake up, smell the cauliflower, and realize that your shit needs to get together, way before you even hit the ripe-age of 40, or more. It may come off as a shock to hear this from a 19-year-old d-bag who has yet to get his life on track (except for this fancy blog), but it’s what I garnered out of this story and what I think Birbiglia hit very well. If the guy can do anything, it’s that he can bring more emotion and depth out of a comedy than most comedy-directors working today. No, not you Judd Apatow. You’re fine right where you are, bud.
Now, where I think Birbiglia messes up on is the love-story between him and his girlfriend. I will say that the movie takes a different-approach to this relationship than most rom-coms do, but that’s not saying much considering how lazy it seems to get sometimes. For example, whenever you feel like the movie is going to focus on how hard it is for Matt to not see his girl, to be on the road non-stop, and not know what to do when they’re supposed to get freakin’ married, it just focuses in on another, wacky, and wild dream-sequence that may be funny and may have happened, but only slows down the momentum of the actual story at-hand. I give credit to Birbiglia for at least including this story at all, whereas other directors would have probably poo-pooed it and had it played-out like a lame, blind date, but I wish there was just more effort on this dude’s part. I mean, it is HIS story, told from HIMSELF, so why not give it a little more feeling and a little more attachment, rather than just showing people how insane you can make dream-sequences? Sorry, Mike. Didn’t mean to get all mad, but come on!
That’s what also brings me onto my next point: his actual girlfriend in the movie. Lauren Ambrose, god bless her soul, is a revelation in this movie because she is smart, sassy, understanding, honest, and very loving in the way that all gal-pals should be around this time, but the movie doesn’t give her enough credit. It’s so damn obvious that she’s the right pick for him because she’s always cool with him, always down to Earth, and always able to be there and help him when he needs it the most, so why the hell wouldn’t you want to pick that? I get that maybe it has something to do a little bit with the fact that the cat may be hitting his mid-life crisis and may not know what to do with his life right about now, so therefore adding on the factor of marriage would only cause more confusion, but for a simple-minded dude like myself, I would think that the right and best pick would be right there for me: choose her. You can do all the stand-up, you can make all the jokes you want, but this is the girl you should be with and I never understood why there was any problem’s there in the first-place. Once again, it’s probably one of those things I don’t seem to get because I haven’t lived life like him or haven’t gotten to that age, but I have made mistakes and I have been confused in life, so I definitely feel like I have some sort of leg to stand on here. And if I don’t, I don’t care because I know that I would be more than happy to have Lauren Ambrose as my girl, any day of the week baby.
Despite all of my thrashing and trashing of his movie and what is essentially, his life-story in an-hour-and-25-minute movie, I still have to say that Mike Birbiglia kept me going with this movie and his presence is one of the more-welcoming ones I have seen in recent-time, especially committed by a comedian. Like his stand-up, Birbiglia is always funny and able to poke fun at himself and his life’s misfortunes. However, the guy gets a chance to act here and show what he’s feeling at these exact-moments, and his over-the-top narration keeps us in the mind of the guy and has us hear and believe all of the thoughts that are racing through it. Birbiglia is a simple guy that likes to keep things down on home-ground, but when it comes to this movie and he has to go for the deeper-meaning in life and in love: he’s more than up-to-the-challenge and that shows a lot of balls for any may, especially a comedian. Hope to see you soon, Mike.
Consensus: Mike Birbiglia’s honesty and brutal-depictions of real-life happenings keep Sleepwalk With Me grounded in-reality, even when it goes crazy with his dreams, but feels like it loses itself when it comes to making a simple, comedic-story more important than it truly has to be, and that’s more about the romantic-aspect than the actual means and themes of this story. Give me 10 more years, and maybe I’ll have a different view on this one, but for now, I’m sticking with it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
All of this, just for a $50,000 painting. Come on now!
Aksel Hennie plays Roger Brown a guy who seemingly has it all. He’s got the job, the house, the money, the wife, the girl on-the-side, the lavish life-style, and the love for stealing ancient paintings. One day, he finds out that one of his job prospects is in possession of a valuable painting and sets out to steal it. He gets it, but in a way, gets more than just a painting and finds himself in way over his head.
By now, most of you who kill brain-cells by coming to my site everyday, reading what I have to say about a certain movie, and seeing what I think at the end of the post, usually know by now what it is that I like when it comes to my movies. I like good, original stories that don’t really have to change the world we live in, but can at least entertain me, grip me, and keep me wondering just what is going to happen next. It’s very rare hat I usually get a movie that does all of this in one-sitting but that’s why the Norwegian’s were put on this planet: to keep my movie-spirit all alive and well. Thank you so very, very much!
With this movie, I was expecting nothing more than a botched-heist, that turns into a run-and-chase with cops, robbers, and guns going every which way, and ending in a finale that would culminate in all of the different sides coming together for one, large, blood-bath. What I didn’t expect, was to get something more along the lines of “unconventional, original, and totally mind-bending”. Those aren’t direct quotes from anything or anyone, they’re just from my mind and the element of surprise is what really took me over in this flick. What seemed to start off so simple and plain, ended-up being something that I haven’t seen from a crime movie of this nature in the longest-time in the way of how it plays with your mind, toys with you, and set you up for something that you rightfully do believe is going to happen, when out of nowhere, the film pulls the rug right from underneath you without you expecting it at all.
Heck, with a movie that seems to build itself on so many goddamn twists, you automatically think you’d be able to pin-point when and where the next plot-turn is going to rear it’s ugly head, but the movie even messes around with you on that idea. Even when you think you know what the flick is up to, it totally fools you into thinking another way and that goes to show you how much fun you can have with a film that has balls, isn’t afraid to show them to you, and maybe if you’re lucky, play around with them too. Disgusting analogy, I know. However, it’s the only one I could think of that showed this flicks determination to take no prisoners and to never, not for one second be thought of as “obvious and predictable”. I looked through all of the reviews for this one and haven’t seen those words used once, but if there are people out there who think this movie is that, well, then I hope you left school already, because you’re way too cool for it. Yeah, another bad one. I know.
However, the movie isn’t all about showing you what type of twists it can pull next, it actually has a personality going for it; albeit, a very schizophrenic one to say the least. For instance, some moments make you feel like your watching a fast, quick-witted crime-movie that has a sense of style and humor that is hiding below the surface; then, it all of a sudden changes up into a relationship-drama about this guy and his woman trying to have a baby and save their marriage; then it gets even weirder by dropping on on some gross-out comedy that really seemed to come out of nowhere; and somehow, some way, ends-up veering into a crime-flick of everybody’s standards, but one that still has a dark sense of what it’s making fun of and why. It’s a very weird flick that can’t make up it’s mind on what it sets out to be and where it’s going to end-up, but it does it in such an exciting and fun way, that you never feel like the flick veers out into just straight-up strange material that doesn’t work. It all makes sense, it all feels right for the mood, and it makes the movie all of the more exciting.
But, as always, being a movie that’s always about it’s crazy and wild twists that seem like they just get pulled out of people’s asses at-times, the movie’s charm doesn’t always work and seem believable. Without diving too much into what goes down and making this a spoiler-ific post instead of an actual review, I’m just going to say that there are a couple of times where it seems a bit absurd that certain people survive certain happenings, and certain occurrences do seem a bit coincidental. I mean, yeah, coincidences do happen in real-life and it’s a huge surprise to us when they actually do occur, but in a movie like this, it seems more like a contrivance, rather than an actual, realistic-way to move the plot on and continue with it’s adventure. Still, if you can drop-down a lot of your ideas of believe-ability and natural-physics, than you may be able to take it all in without the grain of salt. Then again, I can’t promise anything.
I also think a lot of that believe-ability comes into question when you think about the main character in this whole movie: Roger Brown. It’s not that Brown isn’t a believable character that you would actually expect to get tangled up in this web full of lies, murder, crime, and sex, it’s just that the way everything happens to him makes it seem like he’s the character of a video-game that we just so happen to have a cheat-code to every life-opportunity there is in the game. It’s like we continued to never want to give-up and die, and decided to pull an all-nighter, just as long as we had the cheat codes to continue to move on with the game, and not our lives.
I can’t talk too much ish though, because Brown is actually a pretty good character, all thanks to the performance of Aksel Hennie, a guy I have never seen before but I hear is the shit from where he’s from. The guy’s got plenty going for him as an actor, but when it comes to the look: he’s deadly. He has these wide, buggy-eyes that are reminiscent of Steve Buscemi, but has the vulnerability and insecurity that makes you feel like you’re watching a high-schooler who just got a sexy car because of his daddy. The guy’s got two conflicting-sides going for him, but he allows them to come together in a nice, neat package that makes sense when you take into consideration all of the insane, and hardcore shit he does and has to go through, throughout the next 2-hours. Hennie was a great choice for this role and I hope to see more of him and not just in Norwegian films, but hopefully ones from the state as well as I think he could quite possibly have a career over here if he gets the chance to pursue it.
The man that I’m sure everybody knows in this movie, is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who everybody may know from Game of Thrones, and is pretty damn bad-ass in this movie. Not only does the guy have a sexy and cunning-look that’s reminiscent of some of the best villains in movie-history, but he’s also a pretty darn tense guy to be around and makes every one of his scenes work, even though he doesn’t take over the whole movie like you’d expect. He doesn’t show up much, but when he does, he commands the screen and let you know that he runs the show, whether or not you see him in the front of the screen at all-times.
Consensus: For those of you who don’t prefer extra butter with your popcorn, may find Headhunters to be a tad cartoonish with where it goes, but if you love movies not having an ounce of clue where they might take you next, and love being fooled with at every step-of-the-way, then prepare to have a total blast with this flick.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!
Never trust robots, until they make you steak dinners. Then, it’s okay.
Set somewhere in the near, but not too distant future, Frank (Frank Langella) is an aging jewel thief whose son (James Marsden) buys him a domestic robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) mainly because he cannot take care of him being about 10-hours away. Even though he’s very resistant at first with the robot, Frank warms up when and realizes he can use it to restart his career as a cat burglar.
Everybody seems to like to make jokes about what could possibly happen, but the idea of having robots practically take over most human’s positions in the world, doesn’t seem all that far-fetched after seeing a movie like this. I mean, think about it: if some human is tired and bored of doing what they do, why not just get a computer/robot that’s programmed to do the same work, with more inspiration, and probably with better results as well? It’s definitely something that most people can poo-poo to the side and say it’s just crazy talk, but I’m serious, if we don’t look out, sooner or later, the robots will be taking over the world. First it’s the jobs, then it’s the wife and kids, then it’s the president, and then it’s the world from there. Okay, maybe not that crazy and drastic, but just you wait you non-believers. Just you wait.
But those simple ideas and thoughts aren’t really the gist of this movie and maybe that’s why I liked it so much. It’s a sci-fi film that does include robots, but isn’t all about shit blowing-up, intergalactic battles, and possible end of the world talk. It’s just a realistic and honest, human film that just so happens to involve a talking robot that does and says whatever it’s programmed to do. Think of it as I, Robot without all of the guns, bombs, fights, explosions, kick-ass score, and a constantly-yelling Will Smith.
This film isn’t all about showing robots taking over the positions and roles that most humans fill; it’s actually about a sweet, tender story of a man getting old and trying to still connect with the world he once knew. Through the robot, Frank is able to relive his glory days as a cat burglar and feels the type of rush and sensation that he hasn’t felt in years, and most of all: hasn’t been able to feel them with anybody else. See, Frank is a crook and was never really able to live that up with his kids or his wife, so it was always just him riding solo and committing crimes. Not the worst way to conduct business, but a bit of a lonely-experience if you think about it. That’s why it’s nice to see him and the robot talk with one-another about life, what they’re doing, and all of the sweet, fond memories that Frank had from his golden-days and it’s as sad as it is sweet.
Getting old is a pretty damn big part of life and it’s something that we can never avoid. Yet, at the same time, it’s something that we can all help by caring for the other’s that need it the most and that’s exactly what this flick shows. You see a friendship between this robot and Frank actually start-up and you see how the other one cares for the other and it’s very surprising how many depths there are to this friendship, as well as how nice they treat it, rather than making it some old-school joke about a cook treating some robot like a human-being. Hell, the movie itself even tries to remind Frank that the robot is not human and as painfully honest as that was to see on-screen, it still made me sad to think that there are just some people out there who probably cannot tell the difference by what is real and what isn’t, and for them, it all comes down to emotions. It’s a thoughtful-idea that the movie plants into your head, and it’s one that the movie still treats with respect and care, sort of like it’s protagonist.
However, the idea’s of getting old and going through dementia aren’t that subtle to see, especially by the last-act when everything begins to get obvious and heavy-handed. We get that the movie wanted us to know that Frank is going through a hard-time with life in trying to remember what he had for dinner 2 days ago, but it gets to a point of where it just seems like the flick is making it TOO obvious. It’s nice how they treat the idea, overall, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it all, you realize that they could have played it a bit safer and just kept on doing what they did in the first-place. May seem like a bit of a dumb negative to hold against the flick, but it’s something I noticed and didn’t swing too well with me.
The one element of this movie that did swing very, very well with me was Frank Langella as, well, Frank. Langella has this lovable and endearing look and feel to him that makes it easy for us to fall-behind the guy’s back and just wish for the best, but what really makes this performance work is how much you believe in this guy in what he’s going through. He doesn’t forget stuff like how to tie his shoes or turn the television on, but simple things like what his kids are up to in the world or where his favorite restaurant is, really stood-out to me and the way that Langella handles that character’s real-life dilemma with such believe-ability, really worked for me. Langella, in my mind, can almost do no wrong, and here, he gets to show me exactly why it is that I think that and why the guy can still take over a movie, even if he’s not playing one of our most famous president’s of all-time.
The one that really took me by surprise here was Peter Sarsgaard, who literally doesn’t do anything else in this movie other than voice the robot, but he does it so well that it is totally worth being mentioned. Sarsgaard has this voice that is instantly recognizable, by the way it’s so sinister, yet so compelling in the way that he can make little phrases or words sound so devious, yet have so much more meaning that it’s insane. The guy’s always a creep-o in the movies that I see him in, but since he only has to voice the robot, he seems more humane and kinder with the way he uses his words to convey emotion and feeling. Which is weird, because he’s voicing a robot that apparently has neither emotion nor feeling. It’s a great job by Sarsgaard who shows that just by having strong vocal-chords, you can still make the most-compelling character out of the whole movie.
James Marsden and Liv Tyler play Frank’s kids and they’re both pretty good, especially because they get to show how much they love their daddy and will do anything for him, yet still have their own lives to look after as well. I liked how the movie didn’t just make them a bunch of sneaky, lying pieces-of-shits that were ungrateful for everything that dear old daddy did for them, but I still would have liked to see a little bit more to their characters and their history with Frank. Susan Sarandon is here as Frank’s love-interest, and does a pretty nice job with what she’s given, but is just here to serve the plot and serve Frank’s moral dilemma. She’s okay with what she has to do, but it also feels like a bit of a waste for such a beautiful and powerful talent.
Consensus: Even if you might not suspect it to be more than just a movie about a guy and a robot becoming friends, you still will be surprised to know that Robot & Frank features plenty of depth and emotions about the fact that people get old, that it sucks, and that it’s up to us to care for those ones who need our help the most. It’s also a sweet, little story about a guy and robot becoming friends, as well.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
I know, I know, I know! This list is way past-due, but it took me so long to rile-up every movie that I watched in 2012, count-down the top 10, and see exactly which ones did it the most for me. I’ve finally been able to get them altogether now, and needless to say: what a freakin’ year, man! 2012 was one of the finer-years of movie-going that I have ever had the pleasure of being apart of and definitely re-affirmed my love for the art of film and the joy of going out to theaters, getting some popcorn, a nice soda, plopping my rotund-butt in the seat, and just allowing the film to take me by surprise. Some movies were greater than others, but nonetheless, it goes without saying that 2012 was a great year for movie-lovers out there and let’s just hope that 2013, kicks as much ass.
Now, on with the list:
A movie that totally bombed-out at the box-office, but didn’t deserve to. It’s like an old-school thriller where the director was more concerned with building-up tension through classy-conversations about life, crime, drugs, guns, money, and most importantly: politics. The political-message was a tad overbearing at times and did take away from the final-product, but when you have a cast chock full of stars like Pitt, Gandolfini (who I think deserved an Oscar nomination), Liotta, Jenkins, McNairy, and Mendelsohn, then you can never, ever go wrong, no matter what type of ideas you may be throwing my way.
Not as masterful (see what I did there?) as PT Anderson’s past flicks, but still pretty mind-boggling and enticing in it’s own right. Anderson always knows how to make any shot a work of beauty; Johnny Greenwood always knows how to make any type of object sound like a piece of music with tense and methodical rhythm and Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, always know how to give-off great performances, no matter what the material may be. Whether or not it’s about Scientology and all of it’s crazy, mumbo-jumbo, is entirely up to you. Just be ready to be totally and completely surprised by what you see Anderson swing at you.
Maybe the fact that I just got out of high-school is why I was so taken-away by this movie, but nonetheless: I still loved the hell out of this one. It reminded me of my old days where I would just slum around in the hall-ways, go to class and hope I got a good grade on that test I probably cheated on, walk with my friends to class, gossip about the new couples, see what’s going to happen on-weekends, and just get absolutely trashed in somebody’s basement. Yeah, you know, the finer things in life and if that sounds like a bore to you, then trust me: get ready to be surprised by this movie’s charm. It had me crying by the end, and I’m sure it will have you doing the same, as well.
Being from Philadelphia and currently residing in the Delaware County area; this movie totally resonated with me for many reasons that may seem obvious by that last statement, but still hit me harder than I expected. It’s funny, witty, and very, very quick at-times, but in the center of all the craziness and madness that ensues and surrounds it, is a relatively sweet, and understandable romance between two nut-balls that you cheer for from beginning-to-end. If this doesn’t have you smile at least once, then I think you might just have to trade in your old soul, for a new one.
Although I merely forgot about once the Dark Knight Rises came around town, the Avengers was still the movie that promised everything from about 4-years of build-up, and I still craved more. It’s fun, hilarious, action-packed, beautiful to look-at, well-acted, and filled with all of your favorite superheros that you have spent countless movies just watching, hoping that one day they would all get together for one, glorious cream-fest of nerdiness. Thankfully, that time came and it was freakin’ awesome.
Musicals usually aren’t my flavor-savors, unless they are done right. However: this is what it looks like when a musical is done right. The performances are beautiful and the style in which Tom Hooper allowed his stars to sing, naturally and live, gave the movie a more realistic, if theatrical feeling. I teared-up many-a-times, and already have the soundtrack on my Ipod. But if anybody asks you about that, please: do not tell them the truth. I’m still trying my hardest to hold onto to some sort of my macho-man exterior.
One of the more controversial flicks of the year, but all of that hubbabaloo aside: this movie is freakin’ awesome! Bigelow’s direction takes it’s time with it’s story, where it wants to go, it’s characters, and it’s history, and always allows there to be tension in even the slightest-bit of scenes. Everybody complains about it being too talky, too long, and too much about a bunch of people without any, actual character development, but in all honesty: who gives a shit? It’s a powerful flick that encapsulates an entire decade into a near-3-hours, and leaves you with a sequence where we all know the outcome to, but yet, still takes you for a ride regardless.
One of those documentaries that does everything right in it’s precision, it’s ideas, and it’s delivery, but still left me wanting more. That’s not a bad thing, either, as this flick goes through all of the motions of presenting it’s subject, and giving us a total hammering of why it’s so messed-up and how freakin’ stupid the legal system can be, especially when it comes to the Army. The review I posted was more of a rant, with some critiquing here and there, but regardless of what you may take away from my words, know this: what this movie speaks about and approaches, is still happening and it’s an absolute nightmare to think about. Will there ever be an end? Who the hell knows! But what I do know is that this documentary was a total eye-opener and really had me angry, upset, sad, pissed-off, and determined to do something about what’s wrong with the world we live in.
In the past 7 years, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has taken what we have come to know and expect with the superhero genre, and absolutely spin it on it’s side. That being said, we all knew this time would eventually come and no matter how many tears were shed (mine included), it was all time for us to say bye-bye to Master Wayne, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and all of our other favorite Batman characters we have come to know and love throughout the years. But still, what a way to go out! Even though some will say that it wasn’t as good as it’s predecessor, I think it absolutely accomplished that promise, if not more. It’s just about as epic as you’re going to get with a movie, let alone a superhero movie, and as the final scene rolled-in and the trilogy was about to be over, tears came streaming down my face as we saw Batman ride-away, one last time. One of the more memorable, movie-going experiences I had last year and was definitely numero uno for the longest time, that was until I saw….
Quentin Tarantino has, and will forever be a favorite of mine and his latest, is probably one of his best (if that even means anything, anymore). The look, the feel, the characters, the dialogue, and the story is all original, but the real joy and delight of this movie was watching the cast just absolutely have a freakin’ ball with each, and every one of their roles. Jamie Foxx does a great job as the titular-named Django, where he turns the charm, on-and-off whenever the plot needs him to, and definitely never shines away from being the main character. Christoph Waltz is adorably witty and hilarious as the sympathetic yet brutal bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz, and shows that there is more to him than just playing an angry Jew-hunter. Samuel L. Jackson plays Stephen and comes-off like the total and complete Uncle Tom-like character we see in all of those old comics and cartoons, but in the end: turns-out to be more of a smart and menacing character that does not deserved to be fucked with and shows Jackson at his loudest, his craziest, and also, his most sinister. And last, but sure as hell not least, is Leonardo DiCaprio as the evil, but charming-as-hell slave owner; Calvin Candie. DiCaprio gives great performances, year-after-year, yet never seems to really get the type of recognition he deserves. Hell, some could ague that maybe his performance here hasn’t gotten him that type of recognition either (mainly because he was terrible snubbed at the Oscar’s this year), but still: the guy is amazing here and is in top-form, unlike anything we have ever seen him do before. He’s funny, bad-ass, cool, slick, smart, but also very, very scary in the way he can just change his look and person in a matter of seconds and the way that DiCaprio toys with your mind, is just another way to show you that Tarantino knows the type of people he chooses for his roles and what makes them so damn fit for his writing-style. Controversy aside, this was my favorite and most enjoyable flick of 2012 and one that I ventured-out to see not once, not twice, not even three times, but four times! And yet, I still have not had enough.
Hope you all liked what you saw, and let me know what you think about the list! As always, stay cool, peeps.
P.S. That’s not a new slogan I’m trying-out, it’s just what came to me first. Unless you want it to be a new slogan of mine, then we could definitely see that happen more and more from now on. Either way, let me know!
Sing it loud and sing it proud, just don’t have a heart attack.
Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, and Billy Connolly are retired opera singers who annually put on a concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday, however the arrival of Jean (Maggie Smith) disrupts the equilibrium.
With the release of this flick and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2012 was the year for the oldies to go out to the movies, and have just as much fun as all us little pieces of craps did with our major blockbusters and swirling epics. However, seeing both movies now, I’ve come to realize that maybe the best way to treat our elders with respect, would be to give them better movies. I mean, after all, they deserve the best of the best, don’t they?
Movies like these, where the old-fellers take center-stage and act in all of their senior-glory just bother the hell out of me. It’s not that I don’t have love or respect for my elders, but it seems like all of these movies treat the subjects all of the same, and Dustin Hoffman is no different. This is Hoffman’s directorial debut and at age 75, the guy may seem a bit late to the game and it sort of shows. I’m glad that the guy took the back-seat in this movie and allowed his story to practically, tell-itself, but this to me felt like it just moved at the same, exact-pace that it’s subjects were: slow and tiring.
There’s nothing wrong with a movie that’s all about taking it’s darndest time to get it’s footing and tell it’s story, but this one just moved at such a slow-pace, I was actually falling asleep. Yeah, maybe the fact that it was a 10 a.m. screening and the fact that I had roughly around 5-hours of sleep may have nailed it in for me, but none the less, there was just nothing here in this movie that really kept me going. It’s just a bunch of old people, acting old, being old, and all being played to the tune of “cute”. I get that these older-peeps are a tad goofy in their later-days, but does every damn action they make or word that comes out of their mouth have to be so damn cute and practically played for laughs!!?!? I mean, hell, I’m 19-years-of-age and I can tell you, in all honesty, that half of the shit I say in life is as funny, if not more humorous than what any of these geezers have to say, but since I’m not older and losing my touch with reality, it just doesn’t quite hit the same marks as it does for them.
Not only does that fact pertain to this movie, but in real-life as well and it bothered me that the first-hour or so of this movie was just played for laughs, and rarely ever was there a serious sub-plot to come around. Actually, the film did seem like it was working on some sort of sub-plot where the old-folks home was running into a bit of problems of folding under, but they were scrapped as soon as Smith’s character rears her ugly head on in-here, and was a bit of a bummer. The idea of having a sub-plot where a bunch of old folks have to battle-it-out for their living-space to stay alive and well, may not be the newest or coolest thing on the street, but it probably would have added ten-times more interest to the whole movie. Or at least, more interest than Hoffman’s direction seemed to have.
Maybe getting on Hoffman’s case all this much is giving him a bad-rap because even though the guy doesn’t do anything revolutionary with this material, he still doesn’t do anything bad with it, either. It just feels like it could have been directed by anybody, myself included. I don’t know if that’s a hit on Hoffman’s direction or not, but if there was more of an effort on the dude’s part, I feel like this material would have been elevated a great deal and probably wouldn’t have been so boring. Maybe “boring” is a bit of a brutal word, and you could easily state that this just isn’t the type of material that was meant for my young, unappreciative mind, but still: I know what I like and I know what I appreciate with movies, and this movie just did not have that “it factor” to really keep me alive and well. I could easily make a joke about that relating to this movie, but I think I’ve bashed this movie a bit too much as it is.
If there is any type of silver lining located in this movie in any place, anywhere at all; it’s the marvelous cast that Hoffman has on-display here for our-eyes-only. Billy Connolly is a wild old man who constantly finds himself flirting with the fellow nurses, and even going so far as to ask the gardeners if they have any weed stashed-on them. If anybody in this flick has the right comedic-bone in the right part of their body, it’s Connolly as the guy continued to have me laugh, even if his character was a bit of a cliche to have in a movie like this. The old guy that still lives by his boner, is always a joy to watch in any movie, and Connolly actually makes the most out of it, especially with a script that seems to be relying on that aspect the most, just for comedy’s sake.
Tom Courtenay was great as the old man that still finds a way to keep in-touch with not just reality, but the current-society as well and finds many ways to obsess over both opera and hip-hop. Courtenay has a bit of an obvious character here, as well, but he’s very good at playing that type of older-man that’s more knowing of the world around him, what it is, what has passed him by, and how it is all changing, right in-front of his own eyes. He’s great in this role and easily the most likeable character of the whole bunch, especially when Maggie Smith comes into the story to wreck shit up in the old-folks home, as well as his insides.
Smith is, once again, playing that older, crankier-version of herself that is a fine-fit for an actress of her stature, but after awhile, it does get a tad old. That’s why it’s so great to see her as an actress when she turns the other cheek, and becomes a nicer-gal, even if the mean-streak is still there. I have to say, she didn’t have me laughing at her quite as much as I did in Hotel, but she still kept me happy with what she was doing on-screen and much like the rest of the cast here, had the script come alive. Pauline Collins is also a bunch of fun to watch as the more zanier lady of the home, and does whatever she can to get a laugh out of us, even if it just played-up because of her cuteness. However, in her case, I was willing to make an exception, mostly because she is a little bit of a cute, old lady. Nothing like my grams, though!
Consensus: The royal cast makes Quartet better as it trugs along, but it’s still slow, tired, dull, and pretty damn boring, especially if you’re a young d-bag like me that just wants life to move at a fast, quick pace where the party don’t stop, until everybody is passed-out. In this case, “passed-out”, usually means one thing: death.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Girl hipsters that look like 14-year-old boys, never a good sign for the married-man.
Olivia Thirlby stars as Martine, a New York City artist who stays with a local family (Rosemarie DeWitt and John Krasinski) in Los Angeles while working on her art film. But her arrival in this seemingly idyllic family soon begins to unravel suppressed impulses in everyone and forces them to confront their own fears and desires.
I honestly don’t mind a good infidelity movie here and there, especially when they have a top-notch cast and promise like this. However, in order for me to like that infidelity movie, I have to buy into the infidelity that is actually occurring and even though there is definitely a lot of screwing around, a lot of wondering whether or not the other person knows about the screwing around, and a lot awkward conversations between one another because of them wondering whether or not the other person knows about the screwing around, I still did not really buy into it all. I bought into the fact that John Krasinski could be a humbled and horny husband, though. If that accounts for anything.
Right from the beginning, you can tell this is an indie-movie, through and through. You got the shaggy-looking people, staring-off into space; you have the unusual jobs for certain human-beings; you have the long scenes that are filled with no dialogue, but instead some moody music from an indie band only 3 people know about; and you also have a shit-ton of symbolism, coming through other layers of the story. So basically, any idea that this movie is going to be like Fatal Attraction; you’re wrong. It’s more or less like indie-version Fatal Attraction; had Michael Douglas and Glenn Close just boned every once and awhile and never actually spoke to each other. That probably would have solved a lot of things in that movie and definitely steered-clear of any rabbits to be hurt, but I digress.
That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of the stuff you’d expect from movies where people are cheating on each other, because there definitely is, it just feels so under-cooked that by the time the movie’s over, you’re left with, “That’s it?”. I’m not going to go into the logistics of this movie, what happens, and practically spoil the whole damn movie for you but when you see how much immoral-boning actually happens here, you’re going to be surprised that there’s even a story in the first-place. You just never feel those sparks of fire, burning up inside the plot and these characters’ minds, and instead, you just feel the need inside of you to just get some sort of “oh shit” moment to really lift things up from being a bit of a bore.
Mostly where the lack of sparks come from, is the fact that we never really feel like we understand what the attraction between some of these people are. Martine obviously has this way to her that gets guys all wood’d-up in the pants and the wives’ eyes glued to their men, but we never fully understand why she does the things she does and why the guys who get involved with her, actually do. Yeah, she’s got a cool look to her that reminds me of when I was 10 and definitely dresses all hip and cool, considering she’s the New Yorker in L.A., but there’s nothing to understand. She’s hot, I guess? I never understood that and maybe that’s how most affairs begin: the idea of having a new spice of life to happen to you, without any rhyme or reason as to why that certain someone or something was picked. If that was the case, the movie could have brought that out more. More for me to understand and more just to keep me interested.
Even though it’s hardly ever boring, the film just never feels like it has a clear destination in place and even worse, no route or alternate ways to take. It’s just sort of free balling as it goes along and that’s all fine and dandy when you have a movie that wants to be all-over-the-place and unpredictable, but that IS NOT this film. You sort of see where it’s going and when, you just don’t know why and I don’t think the film did, either. You just never really get a clear-look at these characters, what keeps them going on throughout the day, and what gets them to tick. Instead, you just see them do their jobs, get horned-up on-occasion, and have all types of awkward conversations with one another. The dialogue is good but when these characters aren’t speaking, then that’s when things go South for this flick and it definitely disappointed me because I was expecting big things from this movie.
Honestly, the reason i was expecting such big things from this movie is because it features not one, not two, but THREE stars that have been really working their ways up the ladder of sorts, in terms of dramatic-acting and earning some r.e.s.p.e.c.t. This seems to be John Krasinski’s first, real and raw dramatic-role for him and the guy handles it very, very well. The Krasinski look and charm is still there, but now we have a more ruffled and worn-out type of dude that just so happens to want a little excitement in his life. I will say one thing about this guy, even though he definitely gets away with banging around for a tad bit, he definitely isn’t very bright when it comes to keeping it a secret and there were plenty of times where I just wanted to slap him and be like, “Wake up bro! The bitch knows!”. Regardless of his character’s somewhat stupidity, Krasinski is still a solid actor and it’s nice to finally see him not play Jim Halpert.
Another reason for Krasinski’s character’s stupidity, isn’t just by the way how he not-so subtlety hides it away, but the fact that he’s cheating on his wife, played by the ever-gorgeous Rosemarie DeWitt. I’ve really been drooling over DeWitt as of late and everything that she does and even though she is very good here, it’s not a very showy role for her. She does get a couple of key-scenes where you see her really come into her own, but it only occurs once during the beginning and twice during the end. Other than those three instances, we don’t see much more of Rosemarie. Shame, too, because she’s such a joy to watch on-screen. I was also surprised to see Dylan McDermott play such a d-bag as her ex-hubby who only shows up for one scene, but was one scene where I was very interested and though McDermott did an awesome job with such a small, meaningless role.
Olivia Thirlby has really been working her way up the food-chain ever since her days of paling around with Juno, but Thirlby has come into her own now and is actually pretty good that way. As I’ve already stated about her character, I never really understood what was so breath-taking or amazing about her that stopped every man from what they were doing at that point in time, but Thirlby still handles it all well and has us believe in her. She’s not likable but she’s not a unlikable, neither. She’s just somewhere in the middle and I think that’s a true testament to Thirlby for giving this one-dimensional character some heart and emotions, even if half of them are just moaning and groaning, if you know what I mean?
Consensus: DeWitt, Krasinski, and Thirlby all raise Nobody Walks‘ relatively-mediocre material up a notch more than expected, but it is still a bit of a disappointment how very little emotional fireworks actually went-off.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Does this count as Sunday Mass?
Flik (Jules Brown) is 13-year-old, spoiled-brat who is forced to live with his grand-daddy (Clarke Peters) for a whole Summer. However, Flik isn’t doing exactly what he dreamed of this Summer when he’s with his Grandfather Enoch, who just so happens to be a pastor and trying to get Flik back in the eyes of God.
After giving us two, relatitvely-solid mainstream movies (Inside Man, Miracle at St. Anna), Spike Lee finally returns to his roots, in more ways than one. Firstly, he’s going back to indie-filmmaking which he seems to have abandoned for the longest time, and secondly, he’s back to filming in his native Brooklyn, where it just so happens that Mookie is still delivering pizza’s for Sal. However, cool your jets while you still can, people, because even though Mookie is in this flick and shows-up for about 3 minutes, this is nowhere near a Do the Right Thing sequel, or even a Do the Right Thing-caliber movie. Heck, it’s not even a Spike Lee-caliber movie, if we’re not including She Hate Me.
In the past, Lee has been attacked for being too self-indulgent with his material and not knowing how to separate style from substance, and in the past, I have stood-up for him and said, “nay”, to those attackers but here, he makes me look like a fool. The usual trademarks that we see with a Lee flick are here, however, there’s no driving-narrative to really help it out. Instead, there’s just a bunch of scenes where kids are being kids, and a crap-load of sermons about God. And for all of you people out there who were pissed about Michael Parks’ over-long sermon in Red State, don’t worry, it’s even worse here as I would say about 30 minutes of this flick is probably dedicated to these preaches about everything from God, technology, being black, being poor, being white, Obama, and so on and so forth.
As usual, the points that Lee bring are up are reasonable and very smart, considering that this is a guy who has a big brain and a very big mouth, but they aren’t done well-enough here to be considered in your mind. Instead, all of the smart views, points, general ideas Lee has in his head and tries to get out on-screen for all of us to see and get into our minds, just fall-flat on the ground as if somewhere after the 4-year hiatus from filmmaking Lee has taken, he lost his sense of telling an important issue, with an important story. In ways, this doesn’t really feel like a Lee flick because it’s almost as if the guy just lost his skill and if that is the case, then damn. It’s disappointing to see a filmmaker of these heights just get so high up there, in terms of knowing what he’s doing, how to do it, and master his craft, to just fall-apart right in front of our eyes. You can talk as much shite on Tarantino as much as you’d like to, Spike, but the fact is: he’s making better films than yo ass.
The film runs a very long 130 minutes (that actually feels twice as long) and for about the hour-and-45-minutes, I was bored stiff-less. However, the last 20 minutes or so of the flick came-around and automatically, I found myself alive and interested in what Lee was bringing to the table. Without giving too much away, there’s a curve-ball that Lee throws at us that shows us more about Enoch than we originally thought and really livens up the story and gives us a new-perspective on all that we see. Yeah, it could be viewed at as a cheap-way for Lee to make a conventional-story, seem less conventional and more thought-provoking, but at the same time, it didn’t matter to me because it kept my interest, almost all the way until the ending, and then everything fell apart once again. But hey, those 20 minutes still kept me watching and that’s a hell of a lot more than I can say about the rest of the flick.
Everything in this flick may suffer, big-time, but the only person who really gives it his all and actually comes out on-top is Clarke Peters as Da Good Bishop Enoch. There is a lot about this character that could be terribly annoying and terribly one-sided, as he spends almost half-of-the-film just constantly yelling and preaching to people about how they need to get “the big man” in their lives, but Peters shows more effort than that. Peters makes this guy seem very nice, very comforting, and like a relatively normal guy that just so happens to be so high-strung on the G-O-D, that is is a rather off-putting, to say the least. Still, once this twist by the end is actually shown to us and comes into our minds, Peters handles the material very-well and gives us a glimpse at a real man, with real problems, and real, deep, dark secrets that can come out at any time. Peters is definitely the flame that keeps this fire moving and without this dude, doing his own thing, the flick would have definitely been a lot worse and painful to watch.
The reason I say that, is because when the flick isn’t focusing on Peters and all of his sermons, it’s about the forming of love between the two kids in this movie, played by youngsters Toni Lysaith and Jlues Brown. Now, as much as I hate to get on kids’ case about how they can’t and handle the material that’s thrown at them, I still can’t get past the fact that in this movie, where half of the film/story revolves around them, Lee actually gave the “okay” on some of these final-cuts, because being a director that knows how to direct actors and give some of the best performances of their careers, this is almost an embarrassment Seriously, these kids are drop-dead terrible and the stuff they say to each other not only doesn’t feel genuine, but seems like Lee has lost his touch and should have just stuck with Nate Parker and the gang of Bloods that he lead. To be honest, and I hate to say this, but his performance, his character, and his gang, would have probably been a lot more of an interesting story to focus on, and probably a better-road for Lee to go down considering the guy is one of the best at writing stories for them. However, when it comes to kids, I think he’s got to stay away, as dirty as that may sound.
Consensus: It’s great to see Spike Lee finally back in-front of and behind-the-camera, but Red Hook Summer is not the type of flick that I was imagining all that glee coming from. It’s long, poorly-scripted, boring, and to be honest, only good and worth a recommendation for the last 20 minutes where a phenomenal performance from Clarke Peters, gets better and better by each scene.
Would have been better, had it been based on the Nintendo games.
Ward, a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother, a college drop-out named Jack (Zac Efron) investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row, named Hillary (John Cusack). However, the only reason they are doing so is because the gal that wants Hillary out, a sexxed-up, piece of work named Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), just so happens to be the apple of Jack’s eyes.
I’ve been hearing a lot of crazy shit about this film and to be honest: it’s all deserved. Everybody knows Lee Daniels because he pulled-off Precious about 4 years ago and it showed him as the type of director that can get a story, no matter how gritty or despicable, and be able to make it in the least-bit inspirational for people. However, it wasn’t his first rodeo, as that honor (and I guess, dishonor) goes to a little, fucked-up movie called Shadowboxer. If you’ve never heard of it, please, don’t go watch it because it’s just an insane piece of work to watch and it will have you question whether or not you’ve just watched two films, from the same director. And if you have heard or have actually seen it, then buckle up, because that exactly the same type of crazy shit you’re going to get here.
As much as Daniels’ debut may have blew huge gonads, this flick is actually more controlled than that one and that’s probably because it’s just wild, without making any excuses for being so. There’s definitely that type of grungy, exploitative look and feel to the movie that has you feel as if you are in the dirty South, around the 60′s when racial-issues were up to the forefront and everybody was just sweating their asses off. If anything Daniels does do right in this flick, it’s at least nail the look and feel of the period that he has it placed-in, but everything else, well, it is sort of all-over-the-place.
Being “all-over-the-place” isn’t really all that much of bad thing if you can do it, and get away with it. The problem isn’t that Daniels can’t do it, because he sure as hell makes sure that everybody knows he can in every, damn second of this movie, but it’s more that he can’t get away with it. He can show two people making each other cum without ever touching one another and just simulating dirty things to one another, but it sticks out like a sore-thumb to everything else, and he can’t get away with it; he can show a girl peeing on a guy because he got stung by a bunch of jelly-fish, but it’s just odd and seems like it was only done for shock-factor, and he also can’t get away with it; and lastly, he can try and bring some issues up about the whole Civil Rights-movement, but when you compare it to the last sequences I just mentioned, it seems uneven, and once again, he can’t get away with it. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar (who apparently wanted to take this material at one time), or even Robert Rodriguez for that matter, could take this material, do whatever the hell they wanted to with it, and at least make all of the crazy shit and melodramatic stuff gel well enough together, that you almost don’t notice it, but Daniels isn’t one of those directors. He’s just a regular-director that seems like he’s trying his damn near hardest to have us all forget about the over-weight girl story he pulled-off 4 years ago, and try to distract us with insane amounts of sex, whether it actually happen on-screen or just be insinuated. Either way, there’s a bunch of sex that seems to come out nowhere at times.
Is all of this wackiness and cookiness fun? In a way, yes it is and honestly, as much as I may be ragging on the film right here, I am more or less just hating on Daniels. Not to say that the guy doesn’t know how to make a story move, because he definitely does, but it focuses way too much on the personal lives of these characters and not in an exciting or electric way either, it’s just a boring, way-too-dramatic way that comes off as trying too hard. We never really care for these characters, the case they continue to push to the side, or what their relationships are with each other and how that affects one another, and I guess that was the point. Daniels is just giving us a bunch of dirty people that we can either care to like or not. Whether or not we actually do, doesn’t matter, because as long as Daniels is just allowing us to see how insane he can be, then he’s the one with the real joy in the end. That kind of ticks me off now that I think about it, because there was definitely a crap-ton of promise with this flick and premise, it’s just a shame that it had to fall so far from ever achieving that said promise.
The only promise that this flick ever does hit head-on, is the ensemble cast and what they are able to do with each of their roles, no matter how wacky or unbelievable they may be. Zac Efron is the sort-of voice of reason throughout this whole flick and is definitely growing-up right in front of our own eyes, but if you think about it, it is sort of a dull role for the guy but nowhere near as dull as the role Robert Pattinson had in Cosmopolis. Still, Efron makes this character work and his performance shows-off a kid that definitely wants to be treated like an adult, yet, still has the tendencies of a kid that just doesn’t yet know what to do with his life or who to spend the rest of it with. Sort of how Efron is now, just without being peed-on. Then again, I still have no idea what him and Vanessa Hudgens did in their spare-time.
Playing his big bro, Matthew McConaughey is good as the slick and sly reporter that can not only charm his way into getting whatever the hell he wants, but also has a bit of problems brewing underneath that he’s pretty good at hiding. This is a nice role for McConaughey and it’s one that he can practically play while sleeping, but after a year where tore the roof down as force to be reckoned with in flicks like Killer Joe and Magic Mike, this one definitely ranks the lowest-of-the-low for him. Not to say it’s bad, but it’s not to say that it’s anything special, either. John Cusack is playing really, really against-type here as the psychotic and nutty Hillary, and shows that Cusack can probably do more than any of us ever expected from him. He’s strange, he’s weird, but he’s also very sinister and I like how Cusack totally just swan-dived right into the role, totally leaving all shades and memories behind of Peter Gabriel tapes in his pathway. Not to say that this is a special performance that makes us think of Cusack in a different way now, but it’s definitely a role that shows the guy can do more than just be that old dude from the 80′s we all remember relating to when our dates walked-out on us at prom. Yeah, that he is no more.
The one who really steals the spotlight from the rest of these dudes is Nicole Kidman, as the starlet fire fox, Charlotte. Kidman hasn’t been this sexy or bad-ass since the days of Eyes Wide Shut and To Die For, but here, she totally steals all the glory and attention, and has all of the fun out of everybody here. She just relishes in the fact that she can be sexy, be a little dirty, but also be a little bit sympathetic as well and once things start to go South for her and this story, she’s the only one you really give a single hoot about, especially since she’s the only one that has the most believable convictions out of the whole story (she just wants love). Kidman is probably getting the most recognition and praise for her work here and rightfully so, because the gal just looks freakin’ hot and steams up every scene she’s in, whether she’s trying to seduce people and act sexy, or not. Either way, Kidman definitely had my attention in almost every scene and I’m glad so, too, because she deserved it.
Consensus: You may have a boat-load of fun with The Paperboy if you’re looking for some weird shit to happen, non-stop without any rhyme or reason as to why exactly, but if not, then you may just be bored and annoyed by how uneven everything is, despite Daniels trying his hardest to make us think or see otherwise. You strike-out this time, my friend!
Apparently the English had it way worse than the rest of Thailand. Apparently.
Based on a real story, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as the parents of three sons as they are all caught in the aftermath of the humongous tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004. They get split-up, with the oldest-boy (Tom Holland) and his mother on one side, whereas the father and the younger-boys are on the other. However, among all of the pain, destruction, and disaster both sides set out to find one another and do, simply, THE IMPOSSIBLE. Come on, you had to know that was coming up.
The 2004 Tsunami is a disaster that is still fresh and clear in many people’s minds and in ways, still has people feeling the effects, even after all of these years. That’s why making a flick about this monster-Tsuanmi would still seem a little too soon for some, but it’s a lot more tastefully done than the advertising would have you think. To be honest, it’s probably a better use of the Tsunami than that piece of crapola Hereafter was. Hey, if you’re going to cash-in on a real-life disaster, do it the right way, not the Clint Eastwood way. And that’s why director J.A Bayona is suited so well for this material because not only does he handle the subject and topic with a real sense of class and decency, but he also shows it in the way that makes me feel as if I was right then and there while it was happening.
After seeing a whole Summer chock-full of the world being blown-up and countless other areas being turned to shit, I was very, very surprised to see that the very best use of any type of destruction for a movie in 2012 (no, not that Roland Emmerich piece of shite) came from a movie that uses only 10 minutes or so of it, and then it’s practically gone. We only get 10 minutes or so until the actual Tsunami comes and concurs, and it’s just one of those moments that occurred this year where I was grounded to the floor from start-to-finish. The reason that is, is mainly because everything I saw seemed so real with the waves coming in at a very realistic look and pace, and the scariest use of water I have seen in quite some time. You seriously feel as if you are right there with these people as they get hit by the Tsunami and I have to give Bayona a crap-ton of credit for putting me on the edge of my seat and having me feel like I was in for a wild ride of drama, sadness, destruction, and family-matters. I got all of them, but sadly, not the way I wanted.
After the Tsunami hits and we get to see the shitty situations these characters have found themselves in, everything, slowly but surely, starts to fall-apart. Maybe that isn’t the right thing to say because I was very involved with these characters, this real-life disaster, and the aftermath of it all, but then it almost seems to lose it’s focus. The story that we become first accustomed to is with Watts and Holland as he has to practically be the parent in this situation, because she can barely even walk and practically falling apart. This story-line was interesting as hell because you rarely get to see the kid parenting the parent in movies, unless it’s some teenage daughter teaching her dad all of the cool lingo that the Y-Generation, cool kids use. We see how a parent can put themselves below a child, be tended to, and how a child can actually do that while being successful, and yet, still be a child. It was interesting to see and I could tell that if this was how the whole film was going to play-out, then I was probably going to need to borrow the extra bag of Kleenex’s from the person next to me.
However, I soon forgot about a very key, important-factor to this flick: there’s a whole other side to the family! When McGregor shows up with the two, younger boys, then the flick becomes a bit conventional and melodramatic, almost to the point of where it’s off-putting. With Watts and Holland, it was rich, raw, and gritty, almost to the point of where you were cringing because somebody needed to throw water and soap on them, but when you get McGregor and his story of looking for his family, it takes everything down to something that feels as if it would be from a Lifetime movie or something. The eternal conflict that McGregor has to go through, is that he has to choose on whether or not to abandon his own children, to look for his wife and other child, and that’s it. He has to find them and if he doesn’t, chances are, they’ll be dead. I get that it’s a very real and true depiction of events that probably occurred to a plethora of families around this time, but still, it doesn’t make it the least-bit intriguing or surprising to watch, especially when all that I’m watching is a guy, walking around with a piece of paper in his head and asking people certain names. Yeah, should have just stayed with Watts. She probably would have gotten naked more, too.
The fact that this is a real depiction of something that real people had to go through, just makes this final-product a bit more distasteful in it’s own way. For instance, I find it relatively strange that the flick’s real-life story, concerns a family that was Mexican. Here, they are English and even worse, the rest of the film acts like it was hardest on them the most. Over a million people died that fateful day and some families are still reeling from the effects of that, so to sit-there and make a movie about a little, mighty family of mates that went searching for one another, does seem a bit rude to the rest of the people out there who died and were sometimes under the same circumstance as this very same family. I do have to come and realize that yes, this is a Hollywood production and yes, this is a real-life story about a real-life family, not the real-life event that actually occurred, but still, if I were one of the families who suffered from this Tsunami and saw this movie, I’d be a little ticked-off, quite frankly.
Even though the actual, real-life family this story is based-off of is in fact, Mexican, the English cast that actually does take over this story still make it worth the while to watch and are easily the best elements to this flick. Naomi Watts is getting all sorts of hollers and praise for her role here as Maria, the wife/mother who can’t fend for herself due to a terrible disability, and it’s well-deserved hollers and praise, in my mind. Watts is always knocking roles like this out of the park, each and every single year, but here, she sort of shows the vulnerable-side to her character that can’t be the leader and owner anymore, and instead, has to sit on the back burner and try to stay alive, while her son cares and tends for her. Maybe it’s not as traumatizing of a performance as the one she gave in 21 Grams, but it’s still the cleaner, more mainstream-version of that same performance.
Ewan McGregor is an actor that has been very so-so over the last decade or so, but I think he’s gotten his career back on-track and is a great actor to watch, especially when he’s in such an act of desperation as his character is here. McGregor definitely still has the lovable sensibility to him that not only makes you feel like he’s a great father that loves his family for what they are, but will ultimately, end-up doing the right thing for every one in the end. There’s a scene with McGregor on the phone and without giving too much away and spoiling it for all of you cats out there, it’s probably his most powerful piece of acting he’s given ever since the days of Moulin Rogue. Maybe to some, that’s not saying much, but to me, it means the whole world. Good job, Ewan! Now stay away from the new Star Wars movies!
As compelling as McGregor and Watts are (and trust me, they are something to watch and behold here), the one who really stands-out the most is probably Tom Holland as the oldest-son. The kid starts off as a bit of a brat that can’t help but being a piece of crap to his parents and to his brothers, but has to change all that up once everything goes from bad, to worse, to absolutely dreadful. Not many kid actors working today could pull-off that transition from spoiled-brat, to powerful, adult-like child, but Holland does it and does it so perfectly that you really believe in whatever this kid does next. He’s a wonderfully kind specimen the way he cares for his mother and looks out for her, especially when she needs him the most, but is even kinder when it comes to helping others out in looking for their families, friends, and loved ones. Holland may, or may not slide-by with an Oscar nomination this year but if he does get one, I will not be mad in the least-bit because he’s never annoying, and he’s always real. Or at least that’s what it felt like.
Consensus: Focusing on one, English-family throughout this terrible disaster that occurred in 2004, does seem a bit insensitive to the ones who were effected the most by it, but The Impossible still provides plenty of rich, character-moments that are made even better by the cast and crew that make this flick, one step above your typical, soapy-drama.
Glad we all died this year!
With the Mayan calendar ending in 2012, a large group of people must deal with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers.
Director Roland Emmerich stated that this was going to be his last “disaster flick” and since he already did ones like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, you can tell he needed to go out with a total bang. So you know what that means: more people dying, more destruction, more shit blowing-up, more corny one-liners, and more special effects to eat-up, and shit-out like an all-you-can-eat, Chinese buffet.
Everything I just described up there may make this seem like another piss-poor attempt at trying to just throw a bunch of dollhairs at the screen, in hopes that it will actually make most of it back, and then some, but it actually makes this film a lot of fun because Emmerich knows he isn’t trying to make some piece of “art”. It’s not one of those flicks that makes you think twice about the world we live in, what could happen, how it could happen, and nor is he trying to make a film that’s going to make a run for Best Picture. He’s just trying to make a movie where the Earth, the beautiful world we all love and live in, goes, “BOOM! CRASH! BANG! SPLAT!”, and everybody else suffers because of it. It’s pretty fun, and sometimes exciting to see what Emmerich puts into this type of destruction and the special effects look pretty good, for the most part. Other times, they look like something that came straight out of GTA: Apocalypse but you have to give this movie the benefit of the doubt: showing the world blow up in every which way possible, is a pretty hard thing to pull off. And it’s definitely something that Emmerich shows total joy and glee in doing-so.
Still, whenever the destruction wasn’t going down, this film tried it’s hardest to give us some melodrama that just didn’t work and made me laugh more than anything else. The screenplay is obviously terrible and of course, we get all the same old melodramatic speeches and corny-ass catch-phrases that show up here but what bothered me more about this writing was that it was way too predictable for my taste. The whole story about Cusack saving his family from every line of death imaginable is all good and fun to watch, but there’s so many coincidences here, that I wondered just how this guy didn’t break a leg, a hand, an wrist, a shoulder, a tibia, a collar-bone, or any type of bone in his body, for that matter. Hell, the guy actually drives a limo through a volcanic eruption and he barely even gets a scratch on his cheek, let alone, a scratch on the fine set of wheels he’s been trucking around this hell-whole full of destruction. I don’t want it to seem like I wanted to see the guy perish in the first earthquake, but I thought him, as well as plenty others, just got by without anything really bad happening to them whatsoever and it was a little too unrealistic and too obvious for me to really just let slide-by and act as if it’s not really happening in-front of my eyes. I know, I’m hating on a Roland Emmerich film for not being realistic, but I just couldn’t get my head past it.
Watching places like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Yellowstone National Park get blown up into tiny little pieces and get sucked into the ocean is pretty cool to watch, but I could only imagine how a person would feel had they actually lived there. There was no mention or scenes showing Philadelphia being destroyed, but I would think that if they had, I would feel pretty sad about it because that’s my home and just the thought of everything around me, anything I ever knew, and every person I ever met, being killed instantly would put me in a total bummer of a mood. It also started to hurt me once Emmerich started showing all of Vatican City being thrashed up and made me think: why would you want to kill the Pope in a movie like this? I get it, it’s realistic that him and plenty of other holy people would die in catastrophic events like this, but really!?! Of all people to show being killed in the Apocalypse you’re going to show the Pope and all of his followers? Did you even need to show that, or could it just have been implied? Just bad taste, that’s all and a bit too extreme for a popcorn flick.
Also, why the hell did this film need to go on for 2 hours and 40 minutes. I like disaster movies, but not when they can take up about 3 hours of my life and have me practically wasting my day, wondering just what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of it. And if that was the case, I would just watch a double feature of Emmerich’s last two disaster flicks and find more enjoyment out of them both than this junk. It actually got to a point of where I started dozing off by the end when this film decided to go all The Poseidon Adventure on us and it just goes to show you, that once you run-out of ideas about destroying the whole world, just go back, and try stealing from other movies, because nobody’s going to notice. They’re already wasting their times to see your dumb-ass movie, so screw em! Not my thoughts, they’re Emmerich’s and the other Hollywood producers who help him put-out this crap.
The film has a pretty huge cast that works fine with what they are given, but are pretty much wasted on such a shit script like this one here. John Cusack is pretty freakin’ awesome as our central hero, Jackson Curtis, mainly because he doesn’t over-do it one bit. He doesn’t take this role too serious, nor does he ever really freak-out whenever it seems like he and his family are going to perish just like the 95% rest of the world already has. He plays it cool and still has that great comedic timing that we all know and love him for, back from his Peter Gabriel listening days. And also, it’s about freakin’ time that we gave more, heroic-roles like these to Cusack because the dude’s got that, every-day-kind-of-guy look to him, that makes you want to stand-up, pat him on the back, and just cheer him on until he can’t go on no more. Thanks Roland Emmerich! Even if the rest of your movie sucks, at least you have Cusack the shot he so rightfully deserves!
Danny Glover plays the President (as you would assume) and does a pretty good job bringing out some emotions in a guy that I feel like I would blame all of this bad shit on in the first place (don’t know why, but I would probably just be mad); Woody Harrelson has a nice cameo as Charlie Frost, the bearded and dirty hippy that knows all about the end of the world and loves spreading it all out on the airwaves; Chiwetel Ejiofor is fine as the scientist with a heart, Adrian Helmsley, but he also seems a little too good for this ass-like material; Oliver Platt plays his usual “dickhead” role as top government official, Carl Anheuser, and just oozes the corruption; and Amanda Peet and Thandie Newton just stand there and look scared the whole time. Pretty fine bit of casting as everybody here have proven in other flicks, that they are some heavy-hitters. However, when Roland Emmerich gets ahold of them, they have nothing to do other than ham it up like it’s nobody’s business. That’s exactly what they do here and although it may have made their banking-accounts a bit more filled, it made me a bit more ashamed to see them all stoop this low. Oh well, each and every one of them have done something better since then, so I can’t complain too much.
Consensus: 2012 may remind you how much the end of the world is going to suck with its constant explosions, endless use of special effects, and cheesy-ass writing, but also isn’t as thrilling as you would expect from the dude who did Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. And yes, despite them not either of them being, written-down masterpieces, this one still should have been as fun as them.
But honestly, what if I don’t have any money for lunch?
This is the story about kids, parents, and families, from all different walks of life, that all have to deal with the terrible issue that is very prominent, still, in today’s and age: bullying. Some kids still go through with it, some kids try to stop it, and others, failed and in-return, took their own lives instead.
You can’t hate a film for having nice intentions and most of all, you can’t hate a film for bringing a very important topic/subject to the screen that we’ve never really seen before. It’s sad and utterly disappointing to still think that in the 21st Century, we still have to deal with kids being bullied, parents not talking to their kids, teachers not helping-out, and kids getting so fed-up with it all, that they just decide to take their own lives. It’s very sad to know that bullying, an idea that has almost become so goofy now, is still alive and well in today’s schools, shows no end in sight, and is even worse now, mainly due to the fact of technology. Yup, it’s a sad, sad world we live in, and it’s even sadder that this flick couldn’t be the one to change the game.
The whole controversy about this flick coming-out a couple of months ago, was the fact that it only featured about 6 uses of the word “fuck” and was going to receive an R-rating. That’s pretty damn stupid, but then again, it’s the MPAA, they’re ancient, they’re prudes, and they don’t like the Weinsteins very much, so I’m not surprised. However, rather than making this a review about how the MPAA sucks and that this movie didn’t deserve to be hit with the R-rating, I’m just going to shy away and go back to what really matters: the movie itself.
For me, I have never really had to deal with bullying, mainly because I was always 6″-feet-tall, and never really had a problem with people that I didn’t already throw right back in their face. In return, I never bullied anyone, either, because quite frankly, it just wasn’t right, especially to the people who didn’t deserve it. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t at least notice some bullying throughout my days of schooling and what I did see, I didn’t like. Did I ever do anything about it? Not really, mostly because it never got to the point of where I felt like somebody was going to pull a desperate act of violence that would be harmful to the two and say what you will about that stance: it always ended up being exactly what I thought. But that doesn’t mean that bullying still isn’t happening around the world and what’s even worse, is how it’s not being stopped.
Director Lee Hirsch, has said that he was bullied when he was a kid and made this flick for all of those kids that have been bullied, and in a way, he’s given those poor-souls something to chew-on and open their eyes, even if just for a bit. What Hirsch captures on-camera, whether it is staged or not, is very disturbing and brutal, especially by the fact that how it goes on-and-on-and-on. Don’t get me wrong, this is not one of those flicks that just shows a bunch of kids getting thrown into lockers, getting on the bad end of swirlee, and coming home with their undies all stretched-out, but what we do see, definitely catches your eye and sort of has you in-disgust. It’s emotional and very eye-opening in the way that Hirsch captures all of this on-camera and never pans away. It definitely makes you feel more for the people this act of bullying is happen to, as if you didn’t already have sympathy for them before the movie even started.
People will say the same old cliche, “boys will be boys”, and as true as that may be, boys do not act like little assholes like this, get away with it, and act like it never happened again. They continue with their daily-lives and act like this forever, until they finally realize that they wasted their whole life on just being a little piece of crap towards other, weaker kids and it’s a very, very sad idea that I had going-on throughout my head the whole time. However, as these ideas were going through my head, I realized something: my ideas were probably a lot smarter than the ones this movie had going around.
Where I think Hirsch drops the ball is how he shows these kids being bullied and being tortured to the point of no return, then shows the people who try to stop it by telling other people to be nice and kind towards other. That’s a nice stance to take on with life, but when it comes to bullying: it isn’t. Think about it, if a kid who was being bullied just took it all of the time, didn’t say anything to his parents, and went-on about his day with no rhyme or reason as to why he’s being picked-on in the first-place, do you really think that kid is going to just solve it all and have all of that bullying go away, by simply being nice? Hell, no! I know that may come off as a bit insensitive and I am by no means, saying that taking acts of violence into your own hands is the way to go-about problems like bullying, but standing there, being nice, and keeping a smile on your face, will never, ever do the trick. That is unless, the smile you have on your face scares the shit out of the kids around you, then you won’t have to worry about no bullying whatsoever. Just a simple solution, I guess.
That idea of solving this problem doesn’t really seem fit to what’s really going on, out-there in the real-world but that’s not the only problem with the solution that Hirsch seems to draw-out from his paws. Hirsch’s biggest problem seems that he never really points the finger all that much at the people that are really responsible for this happening. Yes, we do get a couple of scenes where the teachers/principals act like a bunch of dumb-asses that act as if there is no such thing as bullying going on around their schools, but it’s not enough. It’s nice that we get to see the people that are hurt, understand why they are, and hopefully, think of a way to cure their pain, but the people that are responsible for all of that pain and anguish, should also be brought-up to the forefront, to the point of where we see clearly, why it is that bullying continues in the school-system.
That’s what also brings me onto my next point, in how the movie is in-fact called Bully, but yet, the subjects themselves that this movie takes it’s title from, are rarely ever documented. We never get to see the side from a bully here, why they do the things they do, where the problem stems from, and exactly how they can stop it and I get it, no kid is going to want to come-up to a film-crew and say that he/she is a bully, but Hirsch could have easily went-out there, found a person that used to be a bully, and see exactly what it was that made that person, tick the way that they did. Seeing the point-of-view of the kids who actually get bullied is still very emotional and disturbing in it’s own right, but showing the other-side and what they go through, would have definitely made this flick seem like it had more of a clearer, moral-compass that wasn’t just about getting rid of bullies. In a way, getting rid of bullies is the right solution to this problem, but in another way, it’s also too simple to be the right thing to do. To put an end to bullying, we have to understand the person who’s causing all of this pain, see exactly why they do it, and what the solution to all of their actions could be. We never get any of that with this flick and as much as I would have liked to see more sides pointed-at and shown in the spotlight, it never happens.
Consensus: Bully is an important-flick that should definitely be shown to kids of all ages, but an important-flick, definitely doesn’t make a good one, especially when you have one that’s as one-sided as this one.
The Ultimate Battle: Salesman vs. Farmers. Let’s get’s it on!
Matt Damon plays a salesman for a major natural gas company (so stow the “propane and propane accessories” quote) who descends upon a small town to tap into it’s natural resources, but finds himself having a bunch of problems with the locals, especially by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski).
The topic of “fracking” is an act that has been brewing-around for quite some time and even though there have been some documentaries that talk about it, here and there, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood got their filthy, dirty paws on it and made a motion-picture, cinema-trip out of it. However, I don’t know how “Hollywood” Gus Van Sant is now, but hey, he made Good Will Hunting and that counts, right?
In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “fracking”, don’t worry, the film will let you know, every, single 5-minutes, too. It obviously seems like an action that makes people happy and filled their wallets/bank accounts, filled to the brim with moolah, but also, destroys the environment around us and makes those pot-smoking, peace-loving hippies all uppity, uppity. However, knowing this before-hand won’t do you any good and to be honest, neither will this flick because all of it just really seems to hit you over-the-head until you can’t take no more. Matt Damon is obviously a very political guy that likes to have his thoughts and opinions heard for the whole world, but maybe his script that he co-wrote with John Krasinski and Dave Eggers was a bit too much for him, or anybody else to really muster.
Instead of making this movie just one, big “message movie” that likes to talk a lot about what it’s declaring, Damon and his co-writers try their hardest to make us feel like there’s another story here worth watching and feeling something-for, even though we are all being preached-at from the highest choir. That highest choir, just so happens to be A-list actors and producers that may know a thing or two about how to make a good flick, but don’t know a thing or two about how to make one that can coincide with the point/message you’re trying to get across. It becomes over-bearing and by the third time that Damon’s character states, “I’m not a bad guy”, you start to think otherwise because who would really go on and on this long about a topic and a solution that could have been figured-out in a 5-slide Power Point production.
However, a 5-slide Power Point production is probably how long, in-fact, maybe even less, this flick could have been predicted in. Right from the beginning, we know how it’s going to start, how it’s going to coast-on through it’s story, and sadly, how it’s all going to end and what revelations are going to be made by that time. Yeah, there are some nice twists and turns that Damon and co. throws at us for good-measure, and mainly in hope to keep our eyes awake and our minds attentive to what’s going on, on-screen, but doesn’t do much good other than seem obvious. The message is obvious and so is the plot and that’s why I’m so surprised that Damon even co-wrote an intelligent script like Good Will Hunting because all of that fun, all of that flair, and all of that emotional-truth that was stuck underneath that whole flick, is barely even seen here at all. In my honest to god’s opinion, it’s all because Big Ben wasn’t around, and instead, is off doing his own thang and making a name for himself. Take notes, Matt. Start directing movies and see how current and cool you can stay.
I will say one-thing about Matt Damon here with this movie, that even though his script may not work to the best of his, or the film’s ability in keeping us interested the whole-way through, Damon’s performance definitely does and the guy once again shows why he is the most dependable actor, working today. Damon’s character, Steve Butler, may have an obvious-route he’s going to drive-on about half-way through, but Damon still keeps you on-edge, wondering when it may actually happen and whether or not we are going to be able to believe it or not. In a way, we do believe it, and that’s mainly thanks to Damon’s top-notch skills as an actor, while in other ways, we don’t just because it’s so conventional, but you can’t go wrong with Damon and the guy knows how to write some great lines, even if the only great lines are for himself, and him only. That damn Matt Damon! He’s always so stingy!
Playing his enemy, of sorts, is John Krasinski as an ecologist that challenges all of Butler’s way of living and making a business. Krasinski rarely ever plays dark roles like these and it’s great to see him really work with that aspect of his acting, while also making sure to keep his comedic-abilities in-tact, as well. I wish that Krasinski was given more than to just fuck around with Damon, in a way that makes it seem like he stole his girlfriend after Junior Prom, but with what he’s given (that he practically gave himself, if you think about it) and what he’s able to do, Krasinski does a very nice-job at it, and I really hope the guy continues to take darker, more-dramatic roles like these because even though that face may always be smiling and shiny, there’s still some darkness that’s waiting to just latch-out from underneath.
Frances McDormand plays Damon’s cohort that seems to be non-other than McDormand doing what she does best: the cool, older gal that still knows what it’s like to be hip, with it, and always one-step ahead of the dudes around her, no matter what it is she may be dealing with. Maybe that was a bit too much of a lengthy-synopsis of what type of characters she usually plays, but it’s the truth most of the time, and it’s the truth here and it’s still fine and dandy with me, because the girl is good with the act. She doesn’t seem to have much more going for her other than the fact that she may just be the brains behind the whole operation when it comes to what it is that they do for a living and how they make their business, but McDormand makes the most of it and in a way, would have liked to see a whole movie dedicated to her, where she was going around and dealing with this personal and professional-crisis, rather than seeing dudes like Matt Damon go through with it. Boo the men! Yay the ladies! That’s how I look at it here.
McDormand isn’t the only gal that gets to show the boys a thing or two when it comes to acting, nope, that honor also goes to Rosemarie DeWitt as the wild child of this small, rural town in Pennsylvania, who also just so happens to be the hottest, single-teacher in the whole world. Not just PA, the whole damn world! DeWitt has been on my “crush list” as of late, and she’s great here, especially in her scenes with Damon who just goes to prove the fact that the dude can make any great chemistry, with anything, as long as it has tits and a vagina. Seriously, they are great together and if it wasn’t for the whole fracking-issue popping-up every 5-minutes, I would have probably enjoyed their scenes together a whole lot more.
The rest of the cast is pretty fine, even if it is a shame to see how little they are used here. Hal Hollbrook is great as the knowing, elder farmer of this small-town that knows what fracking’s all about, why it’s not good, and why he doesn’t like it. Rather than making Hollbrook the annoying and obvious voice-of-reason throughout this whole movie and have us dreading his presence, Hollbrook actually comes-off as a sweet and tender, old-man that has come to terms with the way the world used to be and what it is eventually, going to turn-out to be. It’s sort of sad since how this hits so close to reality and what better person to deliver this reality-check than non-other than Mr. Hollbrook himself. Seriously, when the hell is this guy getting that Oscar!?! Lucas Black and Scoot McNairy show-up here as well, as the resident rednecks of the small town and as good as they may be, are still a bit over-the-top in the way that they are type-casted as a bunch of dumb idiots that work on a farm and don’t give a crap about anything else other than the big olde bucks. I’m sure that some of this is true, but it doesn’t need to be seen to try and get a point across even more. Come on Matt! Come on John! You should know better! You get your caviar and champagne from natural food stores!
Consensus: The topic of discussion in Promised Land is definitely an important one and what Damon, Krasinski, and Eggers get-across about it is an important-one, but it constantly hammers you over-the-head with it, that you begin to lose a care for what they say and an even bigger loss of care over the predictable story, and what direction it goes in.
Boys will be boys. Especially, the ones that have tons of sex and never shower. Yeah, those ones, too.
In 1947, Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) is a young writer whose life is shaken and ultimately redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a free-spirited, fearless, fast-talking Westerner and his girl, Marylou (Kristen Stewart). They travel the world and meet-and-greet with numerous people, while also, exchanging in bodily-fluids along the way.
Having already gone through 4 years of high school and even dating a girl for over a year who actually read and loved it, I’m still surprised that I haven’t read Jack Kerouac’s landmark novel that defined a generation. From what I hear and see of other people who have actually read the book, it’s a life-changer and will definitely have you looking at everything around, in a slightly-different, if not more, rambunctiousness way. I don’t know if that makes me unqualified to watch a movie such as this, but after seeing it, I’ve come to realize that maybe it would have just been better to leave the book where it was in the first-place: on the top-shelf of some low-rent, book-store, for some young bohemian to pick-up and obsess over next.
Director Walter Salles definitely knows the type of material he’s adapting here, and by doing-so, has made this one, gorgeous treat from start-to-finish. Since the flick takes place over a couple of years, in many, many different parts of world, you definitely get a full feel of what the outside world looks, especially through the eyes of such youngsters as these. Salles knows how to make any scene beautiful and seem as if he read the book, had an idea for how he wanted it to look, and just went for it all, and in that aspect, he succeeds. If anything, this movie is a treat for the eyes, and sometimes, the ears because of the classic, jazz-tracks scattered throughout.
However, that’s where the problem of this flick lies. It definitely has the same sounds, the rhythms, and the look of a movie that would be adapting it’s source material from Kerouac, but in the end, just doesn’t have the feeling. Maybe I’m a bit biased to be talking about the feeling of the novel vs. the feeling of the movie, since I have not read the novel, but knowing what it does to people, their minds, and how much of a game-changer it was, I think I have the right idea in my head to fully understand that this is not the flick that will be changing anybody’s minds, lives, or central-thoughts for the longest time. Hell, even after 2 weeks or so, you might just forget about it.
Actually, that’s a bit too harsh for this flick because although it does definitely have it’s bad, it definitely does still have it’s good, even if the bad does out-weigh the good. For instance, Salles’ direction takes a great-aim at the beautiful landscapes that surrounded these characters and the journey they went on, but when it comes to making a point about the world we used to live-in, and the way these characters get through: well, it drops the ball. You see, the movie starts-off very quick and fast-paced, then dials-down, then goes back-up, then dials-down, and so on, and so forth, until you feel like Salles is just toying around with your interest-meter and whenever he feels like he’s losing you, he’ll just throw a sex scene in there or two. Yes, back in those days, young and free people had loads and loads of sex, but this flick almost makes it seem like a safe haven for when people were just bored, and by “people”, I mean the characters in the movie, and the audience that sits-back and actually watches this.
In a way, you almost feel like Salles is just sort of going through the motions as a director, because even though he knows how to make a film pretty damn purrty, he doesn’t know where to start and end his story, on as high of a note as Kerouac apparently did. It’s not really boring, per se, as if it’s almost just a dull piece of filmmaking that never really lifts off the ground, unless it’s characters actually are, and even at that point, it still seems like a bit of a cop-out. Regardless of if you’re a fan of the material or not, you’re going to be a tad disappointed with the small-amount of emotions this movie makes you feel, if any at all. Once again, did not read the novel, but that’s what I heard it did to those who read it.
The only, real interesting-aspect of this flick was the actual cast-members themselves. Sam Riley impressed the hell out of me as Ian Curtis in Control, but seems oddly-dry, almost to the point of where he’s just a bummer of a dude to watch. He’s boring, talks in a very New York-like accent with a couple uses of lingo here and there, and just doesn’t really have much to bring to the story, other than the fact that he’s there to take notes and eventually make the book of the story we are all seeing right in-front-of-our-own-eyes. I was really disappointed by this dude, but I was very, very surprised by Garret Hedlund as Dean Moriarty.
Hedlund, in everything that I’ve seen him in, has not really been the actor you can rely on to save your movie from total damnation as he’s sort of come-off as very bland throughout the years, but here, he totally makes you re-think that with a performance that’s fearless, fun, wild, sexy, but also, very humane in it’s portrayal of a dude that just can’t slow down the brakes and sort of has that back-fire on him. Moriarty isn’t a type of character you can really feel sympathy for because all he does is cheat on his wife (that’s bearing his two children), have random bits of sex with people’s he’s just met, get high all of the time, and not really do much else nice for the others around him. He’s not necessarily a dick, as much as he’s just a dude that seems like he’s living a bit too much in the crazy world, rather than the real world. Yeah, I know, the real world sounds boring but after awhile, this guy begins to realize that maybe he should have just chilled-out every once and awhile and if not that, then at least made sure you don’t have any responsibilities waiting for you, around the corner. Hedlund really brings the energy and fun to this movie and I just continued to keep on waiting for this guy’s presence to show, back-up on-screen for me to see.
Kristen Stewart plays his gal-pal, Marylou, and what seems to be another piece of stunt-casting, actually turns-out well for the movie, her character, and Stewart as well. Stewart is good here as Marylou because she gets to do more than just mope around and touch her hair, she actually has a wild and free soul to her that makes you feel as if she’s just like Moriarty, except a bit more innocent. Amd yes, for all of you guys that have been wanting to first their eyes on her whole-self since the days of Panic Room, she does indulge in some sweet, and spice sex-scenes where she does get naked and do a bunch of other, wild things, but it’s all right with the context of her character and her performance, as well. Hopefully, K-Stew can keep this going but who the hell knows where her career might go, post-Twilight.
Consensus: The trio of leads save On the Road from just being another shallow and dull attempt at trying to adapt one of the greatest novels of all-time that made people think and see the world differently, whereas here, with this movie, you’re only going to see K-Stew differently when she has her clothes on in movies now. Hey, that’s all I could really garner up from this one.
Thank you Tom Hooper! It’s been awhile since we’ve had a musical that’s made us want to slit our wrists.
The film is set against the backdrop of sociopolitical upheaval in 19th century France and revolves mostly around Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a escaped convict who spent time in prison after stealing some bread to feed his sister. He is on-the-run from a vengeful officer named Javert (Russell Crowe), but in the meantime, changes his ways, finds a woman named Fantine (Anne Hathaway), and eventually, goes out to look for her daughter named Cosette.
I’m not going to lie to you, I am not the biggest musical-lover out there but if I have to sit-down, watch one, and at least enjoy myself, chances are, I’m going to enjoy myself. That’s why I was a bit skeptical of this flick, not just because I haven’t ever seen the musical this is based-off of, but because it seemed like the type of musicals I’ve grown to despise. Everybody’s crying, everybody’s moping, and everybody’s so self-indulgent, almost to the point of where it’s just one, long cry-fest that is more likely to have you want to jump-off a bridge, rather than get in the Holiday Cheer. For some people, jumping off of a bridge is getting in the Holiday Cheer, but for me, it isn’t and that’s why I was a bit worried of what I got myself into on Christmas night. Thankfully, I stayed very, very far away from the Ben Franklin bridge and instead, stayed home and cried myself to sleep. Oh, the holidays.
Right off the bat, you should know that if you don’t like musicals where every single-line of dialogue is spoken through song, then this will definitely not be your bag, baby. Because if you hate that about certain musicals and get bum-rushed into seeing this, you are going to be one, pissed-off monkey for the next two-and-a-half hours, and most likely, going to just switch your plans and see Django Unchained. No problem with that whatsoever, but if you’re bag is in-fact a musical where everybody speaks in octaves, then you are going to go fuckin’ bananas over this, especially if you are already a fan of the source-material in the first-place. Tom Hooper was, obviously, and that’s why this is not your typical, run-of-the-mill musical. It’s got style to it, and that’s what so different.
What I mean by the “style” that Hooper apparently uses here, is that instead of going for the grand-scale, epic-feel of this material and showing us how huge this world is, with all of these large, sweeping song-notes that take you from one end of the Earth, to the other, he keeps it small, secluded, and very emotional. We get a lot of close-up shots on these people as they sing and we feel as if we are right there, not only to feel what it is that they are singing and emoting about, but to also have us placed-in this world that is dark, cruel, and very, very *cough* miserable. Hooper does get the look-and-feel of this movie and never for a single-second has us believe that we are watching a play on the big-screen, or even a musical for that matter, it actually feels natural to the story and how it’s trying to make you feel.
Not for a single-second did I think that I was going to cry during this movie, and don’t worry all of my fellow dude readers out there, trust me, I can assure you that I did not cry, but I sure as hell teared-up a whole lot more than I ever expected. Seriously, we all know about the “I Dreamed a Dream” number that Hathaway sings, executes-perfectly, and makes us all pull out the boxes of Kleenex, but there were so many more moments that just hit me where it hurt the most and not only did it surprise that the one time actually happened, but surprised me even more that it continued to occur. Everybody’s singing loud, proud, and right there for us to see clearly, and because of that, you really feel hit with the raw emotions that this story brings-out in it’s meaning, and how you can actually receive it. So many equal moments of pure beauty and sadness just really get to you and once you see the actual people sing them, on-camera, live, and for all of us to hear and see, you’ll know that it’s not because you have a soft-heart for a bunch of rambunctious college kids facing-off against the system, but because the musical-numbers have a feeling of power that you so rarely see in musicals nowadays. You feel as if every musical-number is meant to be apart of this story, is general to those characters and what they’re feeling, and exactly what it means for the rest of the movie.
Actually, that’s probably where my only problem for this flick actually came-from: when they weren’t singing. About 95% of this flick is full-on, singing, but the rest of 5%, obviously isn’t and really seems out-of-place, especially when people seem to hit breaks that don’t feel necessary to it’s story, or it’s believeability. Honestly, had the movie been 100% pure song, dance, and emotional breakdowns, I would have no problem, but whenever these people got the right ideas to just talk out of nowhere, and then continue to sing as if the actual, spoken-words never happened, then it seemed a bit too strange. However, then numbers like “One Day More”, “On My Own”, and “Stars” came-up, and all of my problems went away with the soothing and wondrous voices of this cast, and all that the brought to the table.
I think it should be noted right-away, that this isn’t your typical musical, mainly because what you see and hear on-film, is pretty much what stars gave-out. They don’t lip-sync, they don’t read from some script and have it gelled in with their mouth-movements, and they sure as hell did not take the easy way out and just record it in a studio, but instead, just did it, all in front of the camera, with an ear-piece in that played the background music. In ways, this works for the songs and the performers because you get a natural feel you wouldn’t normally get with any, other musical, but in other ways, it doesn’t because not everybody is exactly on-cue with the music that surrounds them. You understand the lyrics more, now that you actually get to see the live-wire lyrics come-out through the mouths and emotions of these characters and believe in everything they feel, no matter how bitter or joyous it may be. However, it’s more good ways then bad, so if anything, I have to give Hooper more credit for being even-more ballsy with his artistic and subdued direction of a musical that could have gone totally out the window into Annoyance-ville. There isn’t a real place called Annoyance-ville, but if there was, that’s where most musicals would be found.
As for the performers themselves, just about each and every-one here is as perfect as they come with the music they’re supposed to sing, the looks they’re supposed to be giving, and the feelings that go through characters like these. Hugh Jackman finally gets to show the world what he can do as an actor and performer, into one, amazing performance as Jean Valjean. Jackman, as we all know, can sing his heart out to the highest mountains and can definitely act, but the combination of both, in such a raw-feeling and way, is what really makes him stand-out among the rest, even when he takes the back burner a bit later-on in the flick. Jackman nails all of the song-notes he has to hit perfectly, but when it comes to being a guy that we feel a real, utter sympathy and love for, then Jackman succeeds even more and it’s one of his finest performances, mostly because it shows us that when you give him good material that he can work with, he will, and work with it to the best of his ability. The best of his ability is this performance here as Jean Valjean, and thank the singing gods for that!
A lot of people have been trashing the hell out of Russell Crowe as Javert, and how his singing-voice just really does not fit with the character, nor the rest of the flick, but I have to be honest: I sort of feel bad for the guy. Believe it or not, Crowe is not as much of a random-choice for this role as some may have you think otherwise, because he’s actually apart of a rock band called Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt and apparently, does a nice job with the material for them. However, that’s a rock band-like voice that’s used, not an Opera-like, musical voice that’s meant to capture the hearts and souls of millions across the globe. Okay, maybe that was a little too drastic of a point to make, but what I’m mainly getting at is that if you don’t have a powerful enough voice to handle this material and make it work when you play the menacing and evil character, Javert, then you may have a bit of problems coming down the pipelines. Okay, maybe more than “a bit”, but you catch my drift.
Does Crowe deserve the panning that he’s getting for his role in this movie? Yes and no. Yes, because he is the weakest-link out of the whole cast and shows just what happens when you cast a in a role, mostly because he’s a big-name, and no, because he isn’t terrible to watch. Maybe since I have never once heard the actual-play done itself and don’t know how Javert is supposed to sound, but I thought that Crowe did the best that he could with a role that definitely needed some great and powerful moments of song to be handled with grace and care, and that is exactly what Crowe did, except it wasn’t what everybody out there in the world wanted. You’re never going to please everybody with every little thing you do, so don’t worry Russell, you won me over and I’m glad to say that you weren’t all that bad of a choice to begin with. However, they could have seriously gotten somebody else, I hate to say it.
Of course the buzz that has been surrounding the hell out of this film is Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine, and the heartbreaking, show-stopping rendition she gives of “I Dreamed a Dream”, and all of that buzz is deserved because holy hell, did she make me tear-up. Hathaway’s character of Fantine isn’t around for a terribly-long time, but for how long she is alive and well on-screen, you see a real, true, and harrowed woman that does all that she can to make ends meet, but yet, still finds herself taking off her nickers just for a quick buck here and there. It’s heartbreaking and sad to watch and Hathaway makes you believe in this pain and strife that her character goes through, and when she breaks into that song, try your hardest to control-yourself because trust me: you won’t succeed. Hathaway is the one you really remember when you leave the theater and I don’t even know why we have to wait 2 more months for the announcement, just give her the damn Oscar! The gal deserves it, if not just for this perfect-performance, but for all of the other perfect-performances she’s given over the years. Not looking at you, Bride Wars.
Another gal in this cast who gives a whopper of a performance, in terms of acting and singing, is Samantha Barks as Éponine. If you don’t know recognize the name or don’t even know who the hell she is and why she’s even here in a star-studded get-together like this: don’t worry, you don’t need to because she will have you remembering her name, long after the credits roll. Granted, she obviously was going to knock the singing out of the park because she was cast in the musical a couple of years ago, but still, the woman is terrific in all that she does here and the two songs that she’s given to perform, are equally as heartbreaking and powerful as Hathaway brings to the table. She’s got a great look, a great style, and most importantly, a great voice and I wish to see a whole lot more of in the future.
The cast gets even better, though, with Eddie Redmayne as Marius, who surprised the hell out of me because after seeing him in My Week with Marilyn and countless other flicks, I thought he was nothing more than just another pretty face, but here, he shows me he’s more. He can hit the notes he’s supposed to hit, and he hits them with a great deal of charm and wit that makes you like the guy right from the start, even if you think his face is a bit goofy at times. However, that’s just a tiny nit-pick of mine, so don’t mind me and my asshole-like self. Some will probably be bummed to see that there isn’t a real, huge-part for Amanda Seyfried here as the older Cosette, but don’t worry, she still gets to show-off those pipes of hers (not those pipes you pervs) and doesn’t, not for one-second, get out-matched by anybody else in this cast.
Consensus: If you don’t like musicals before, then chances are, you are going to hate the ever-loving piss out of Les Misérables but if you do like musicals, then you are going to love just about every-second of this as each and every song is filled with bright emotion, power, drama, and simplicity, that’s very hard to capture in any type of musical, especially one this much of a grander, epic-scale.
I need to travel with Jewish family members more, problem is: I don’t have any!
An inventor (Seth Rogen) invites his mother (Barbra Streisand) on a cross-country trip as he tries to sell his new product to all the big-company chains, while also trying to reunite her with a long, lost love.
After appearing in both of the lame-o, Meet the Parents sequels, Babs is back and bitchier than ever! As you could expect from a woman of her class, there was a lot of turmoil on the set where she wouldn’t work anywhere that was 20 miles away from her house and even wouldn’t allow any scene to be shot, unless she had the right amount of make-up and shining-lights on her. I don’t know how Seth Rogen responded, he probably just nervously-chuckled his way through it all, but either way, it’s pretty great to see Babs back on the big-screen and it sort of has you realize that you know what? I missed the hell out of this gal, no matter how annoying she can be at times. I put an extra-strain on the term, “at times”.
The idea of a cross-country road-trip with an overbearing, embarrassing mother is pretty damn relateable and in ways, that’s where the magic of this flick surprisingly works. Hopefully, all of you have been able to have and interact with a mother, or at least, a motherly-figure, and realize how painful and annoying it can be to constantly be around them as they think that they always right, always think that they know what’s best for their child, and try whatever they can do to just make your life better, even though it just continues to add-on more annoyance. Not all momma’s are like this but basically, you get the gist of it all: mothers have love and warmth in their hearts, but they also can be a bit over-bearing at times and what better person to play the over-bearing, annoying mother than Babs herself??
I think having Barbra in this role as the mother, would have been a risky-move, mainly cause it would have just turned-on to be a caricature in and of itself, but Streisand makes her more than just that. Surprisingly, Striesand gives Joyce a lot more credit than the actual-script does and shows that this lady, although protective and annoying, does love her son, does feel as if she knows what’s best for him, and really just wants to have a great-time with her life, because it almost seems like that’s been missing as of late. This role of Joyce could have really gone as unbearable and annoying to watch, but somehow, in her own, crazy-way, Streisand makes her fun and heartfelt to watch and see the different layers of her character that come pouring-out, especially when you least expect it to.
Seth Rogen may seem like a bit of an odd-choice to play her kiddie, Andy, but actually does a nice-job with it, even though the guy really is toning-it-down a whole lot here. And I mean, A WHOLE LOT. You get the nervous chuckle, you get the awkward looks in his eyes, and you get the random banters and fits of rage, but nothing all that funny or hilarious to actually come out of his mouth and as much as it may work for this dorky, uptight character, it doesn’t quite work for Rogen, as you can sort of tell that he really wants to join-in the fun with Babs and let loose as well. Still, Rogen is good and gives Andy more depth and heart than we expect, even though it feels more like a step-back for Rogen, even despite co-starring with the one and only, Barbra Streisand.
Together, they make a nice, mother-son couple, and actually make a lot of the more obvious and conventional scenes between them work. Actually, the surprisingly work, mainly because the film is surprisingly, not what you expect it to be. From the trailers and advertisements, you automatically think that this is going to be another, wacky and goofy, road-trip comedy where the overprotective mother, constantly embarrasses and does stupid things to make her son go even crazier in his head. In a way, that sort of happens here, but in another way, it’s more dramatic and heartfelt this go-around. You’ll be surprised by how nice this flick can make you feel and even if you aren’t laughing your ass to death, you still find yourself a bit happy and pleased with a mother-son relationship, where they both obviously love one another and want nothing more than to make the other person’s life a little bit more pleasant whenever they aren’t around. It’s a nice sentiment to see on the big-screen, regardless of if you are close with your mother or not.
However, you can’t hide from the fact that this flick is as obvious and conventional as they come. Every single turn you expect for a film like this to take, it does take, and it just continues to go on, and on, and on, and on, until you finally just give-up, accept the way things are going to be, and decide to give-in to all of the cheeky, melodrama they begin to shove down your throat. Most of it is eye-rolling and most of it is cliche beyond belief, and for any viewer out there that demands more and more with your road-trip flicks starring two Jewish family members, then you may not appreciate this flick. However, if you are looking for that, then you may have a solid time. I use the term, “may”, very loosely so if you don’t like it, you don’t love it, or you don’t even come back in a happy-mood, wanting to give your big mommy a big, old hug and smooch on the cheek, don’t come to my house with fire and pitch forks because I did actually say: you “may” like it. You heard it from me, folks, give it a try if you’d like but I can say you “may” have fun. Once again, “may”.
Consensus: This is as obvious, as predictable, and as ham-fisted as they come with movies about mother-son bonding, but The Guilt Trip still isn’t a terrible-watch because of the fine chemistry between both Rogen and Streisand, ans the heartfelt emotions about a love between a mother and a son that feels more real, than actually manipulative. You may be a bit surprised by this one, trust me. Shit, there’s that “may” word again!