God, I wish I was as cool as these guys. I seriously do.
Dapper Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is a man of action. Less than 24 hours into his parole from a New Jersey penitentiary, the wry, charismatic thief is already rolling out his next plan. Following three rules – don’t hurt anybody, don’t steal from anyone who doesn’t deserve it and play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose – Danny orchestrates the most sophisticated, elaborate casino heist in history. This is where the fun begins in Ocean’s eyes, and you know what? His eyes do not deceive him a single-bit.
Heist flicks are and have always been a favorite of mine, and to feature a cast with the likes of Clooney, Damon, Cheadle, Pitt, Mac, Reiner, and even Affleck (Casey, that is), you know I was even more excited because it seemed like the perfect-opportunity for a bunch of guys to just pal-around, have a good time, and pull-off some neat-o heists. However, just to make sure that this isn’t one, long bro-sesh from start-to-finish, we got Steven Soderbergh at the helm to keep everything under control and honestly, what better man to do that then the guy who has made one of the greatest heist/crime flicks of all-time, Out of Sight? Well, you could probably argue Tarantino or Scorsese, or plenty of others, but if you were to really get down to the nitty-gritty of it, I think you would be pretty damn fine with having Soderbergh behind it all, because I definitely was.
Having a guy like Steven Soderbergh doing your film means one thing and one thing only: it’s going to have a crap-load of style. And that’s not really a bad thing at all, because with a generic and relatively conventional story like this, you need that to add more pizzazz and spice to the whole-product, even though it’s obviously apparent that’s what Soderbergh is relying on the most. However, it didn’t get in the way of material and you can’t help but just love the fact that Soderbergh gives the flick a more-polished look than you are used to seeing with heists, but also realize that it makes the setting it takes place-in, all the more beautiful and smoother in it’s own, coolio way. Soderbergh is the man of being cool, looking cool, and filming cool, and he was definitely the perfect-choice for material like this.
There’s also a great-deal of fun and entertainment that Soderbergh brings to this flick and it’s not just all about the style, either, it’s more about the actual heist itself, and keeping you constantly wondering, guessing, and figuring-out how it’s all going to play-out in your mind and on-screen. Soderbergh definitely does a little-job of trickery here and there with this heist and the twists and turns it takes, but that just adds more to the overall enjoyment of what we all see and it’s perfect since everything until then, was all just one, big lead-up to what was going to go down. We see bits and pieces of how this heist is going to go down, but not enough, so that when the heist does go through and we see everything that goes-down, we’re not only surprised, but pretty gripped to our seat, as you don’t really know how it’s going to turn-out for this cats in the end. Sooderbergh has as much fun with this as his cast does, but by doing-so, he allows us to just revel in his enjoyment in making the material and it’s no surprise that the guy came-back for 2 more of these flicks. However, more on them later as the reviews keep on coming, so just you wait DTMMR readers/follows out there!
Topping-off this cake of coolness, with a sweet, little cherry on-top is the cast that is filled to the brim with the coolest mofo’s on the planet, and some, you have yet to even know are cool just yet. George Clooney is the brains behind the whole operation as Danny Ocean and is cool, lean, and suave, exactly as we know and love him to be. Clooney sort of takes the background in this flick and allows the rest of his cast to show-off and do their thing, but whenever he gets a chance to show why he’s so cool, he does it with perfection. Damn that George Clooney. Playing the “other” brains behind the operation is Brad Pitt as Rusty Ryan, a dude that knows it all, can walk the walk, and talk the talk. Pitt’s good at playing cool and smart, we all know him for that, and we all love him for that. ‘Nuff said about that. Matt Damon is the new-blood of the gang and does a great-job at playing up that cocky-rookie look to him, while also being able to put-up, when shut-up time is right there, in front of his face. Not the most memorable performance from Damon but the guy sure as hell can act and make any role, seem like the perfect-fit for him.
Playing the opposite-side of these fast-cats is Andy Garcia, aka, the guy who owns the casino that they are robbing, Terry Benedict. Garcia is a tough-guy that you really feel like can’t be out-smarted, no matter who the person/people doing the out-smarting are. Garcia’s got a lot of intimidating-looks in those eyes and you never quite know if he’s going to pull-off the win in the end, or just give it to Ocean’s dudes. Once again, it’s a tense-ride to the finish that you never quite know where it’s going to end-up or how, for that matter. Julia Roberts is fine as Benedict’s gal/Ocean’s ex-gal, but does her usual, “I’m-Julia-Roberts-And-My-Shit-Don’t-Stink” act that some love her for, some hate her for, and some are just tired and bored of her for playing so much. Me, I linger somewhere around the latter and as juicy and spicy as the scenes with Clooney may be, her character is still Julia Roberts, playing Julia Roberts.
Everybody else in this cast is pretty damn fine as you’ll see a crap-load of familiar faces pop-up, do their thing, and be done with it and continue onto the road. Seriously, everybody is good except for Don Cheadle as Basher, who is supposed to be channeling this wry, British-accent that goes in-and-out like a you know what, and is even more distracting to this character, because every time he’s talking, it just sounds like Don Cheadle trying hard to sound British. And yes, Cheadle does have a very distinctive voice that is easy to point-out as to when it’s real, when it’s being fake, and when it’s trying to be British. Oh well, I guess this cat needed to have one bad performance to throw in there for his whole filmography. Bastard.
As fun and exciting as this flick may be, you really do just end the film, happy as a fly, and continue on with your day as if nothing happened. In a way, that’s not such a terrible thing to have in life, considering it’s a happy-thought, but in other ways, it’s a bit of a disappointment considering the cast and crew that was on-display here. Yes, it’s fun, exciting, and entertaining for the 2 hours it’s alive and well on the big-screen, but other than that, you don’t have much else to really hold you over or make you think of anything afterwards either. I don’t know, maybe I was just expecting a bit too much more than I was given, but I definitely feel like there should have been more for me to seize-onto at the end, no matter how conventional or obvious it was trying to be.
Consensus: Ocean’s Eleven is no game-changer in terms of heist movies, but is still entertaining, fun, exciting, well-acted, and just really, really cool, almost to the point of where you feel cool for watching it but you soon realize, that you’re just a poor college student who drives a 2005 Scion, and has about $20 in your wallet as you speak. Yeah, I’m speaking from my point-of-view, but if only I wasn’t. If only dreams really could come true, after all.
No matter how grand or wonderful your life is, you still end up shitting your pants. Message of the day, everyone.
Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) was born on the Day the Great War (WWI) ended. That was supposed to be lucky day to be born on but this was an unlucky case because Button was born old, week and dyeing. Benjamin is now living his life in reverse and dealing with the hard ships that have to occur with such an unfortunate circumstance as this.
Watching this movie almost 5 years after I originally saw it really has me thinking, “Did I really just love this movie because I wasn’t that cinematically-inclined yet? Or, was it just that I loved this movie because it was a good movie?”. Those thoughts go through my head, each and every single time I even bother watching/reviewing a flick that I saw so long ago, way before I even thought about this website. Some of them turn-out to be the great story that I once remembered them as being, and others, well, thanks to my knowledge of what’s right and what’s wrong with a movie, make me realize that I had plenty of years to grab a hold of my movie-knowing mind. Somehow, this movie, is somewhere right in the middle and I have yet to make-up my mind. Oh well, hopefully I will by the end of this loooooooooong review.
The reason why I put such a strain on the word, “long”, was because that is exactly what this flick is and to be honest: it doesn’t have to be. This is adapted from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and for a bunch of source-material that probably equaled up to about 10-to-15 minutes full of reading-time, you would think that a simple story wouldn’t need to be told in over 3-hours. The story of a man that ages backwards and has all of these experiences in life, meets all of these people, and has a love that lasts generation-after-generation, does seem like it needs to be told in it’s own, epic-way, but this is a bit too much of a push. However, as long as this flick may be, you still can’t forget that this is a beautiful tale of growing old, falling in love, and above all, living life to the fullest. Yeah, it’s corny, but what makes it so strange is that the message is brought-out by David Fincher. Yes, THAT David Fincher.
It is quite surreal to see a story that’s so much about the human-spirit and always turning lemons into lemonade, directed by the guy who’s brought us some of the sickest stories in the past decade or so, but that’s what makes it so unique as well. Fincher has never, ever came close to touching material like this and at times, you’ll just think that it’s an attempt for him to make some cash and make a passion-project of sorts for himself, but you’ll begin to notice, there are still a whole bunch of Fincher’s trademarks. Everybody and anybody who has ever seen this movie always says the same damn thing, “It’s like Forrest Gump, but the guy’s older”. To be fair, that is a very true and realistic observation, one that I can’t contend with, mainly because the same writer of that flick (Eric Roth), is the same writer here but what makes the tales so different, is how one is all about sunshine and light at the end of the tunnels, this movie is more about how life starts and ends the same way: you start out as nothing, and in the end, you are still nothing. Anybody that has ever known you, will be the only ones and it’s a matter of whether or not you made an impact on their life is what really counts.
It’s a really depressing idea, especially when you put it side-by-side with something like, “Life is like a box of chocolates”, but it’s also more realistic and that’s why I applaud Fincher here, not just for stepping-out of his comfort-zone, but for being able to step-out and make the best type of movie he can. The story spans over generations and as long and dragging as it may be, it is always entertaining to see the type of stuff this man goes through, what he learns from certain experiences, and how it makes him a full and total human-being. Yes, there is always that known-factor that the guy is going to die at the end, but then again, isn’t that how life actually plays-out? Thanks, David Fincher! You’re always the type of guy I can depend on to remind me that life is great and all, but in the end, we just float away into the air. Happy hugs all-around!
Where I still feel like this flick hits a problem in, is that it does begin to run-out of steam by about the third-to-last-act and I think that’s mainly because Fincher, as well as all of us, knows what has to be done, what has to be said, and what needs to come of this story. We all anticipate the time to when Benjamin eventually starts to get so young and so tiny, that he can’t remember anything that has happened in his life and is just continuing to shrink-up into this little guy, that is eventually going to die any day now. It’s so sad to watch and as much of as an emotional-impact it may have on you because you’ve gotten so used to this character and all his stories, it is slightly redundant and almost feels like Fincher really needs to shoot somebody or decapitate somebody, you know, just to spice things up. I can totally tell that Fincher was running a little wild on the inside, but at least he made it interesting and entertaining for us, in the meantime.
What probably distracts people the most from this story, is how much time and effort was put in to the make-up and special-effects for these characters and their surroundings. Since Benjamin is aging backwards, we get to see him when he’s old as hell and looks like a turd on the side of the road, to the point of where he looks like Pitt from Meet Joe Black. It’s mesmerizing to just stare-at, not just because they make Pitt look as handsome as ever and Blanchett as sexy and glorious as she’s ever been, but because it’s almost seamless and never seems like a gimmick. Movies like these that simply just depend on changing-up a person’s look or style through neat-o special-effects, usually kills a movie and features no substance, but thankfully, the movie features both the neat-0 special-effects that help make us believe more in this story, as well as having a story that is worth believing in and actually getting involved with. Still, it’s great to see Pitt and Blanchett back in their younger, golden days, even if it all by a computer. Damn you technology!
Speaking of the Blanchett and Pitt, both make Daisy and Benjamin a lovely couple that is worth staying-for, no matter how uncommon the relationship they have may actually be. Blanchett is a joy to watch as Daisy, especially when she goes through her younger days as a free-willing, energetic dancer in her prime from NYC, and we get to see that charm and beauty come out of Blanchett’s acting-prowess that can sometimes go away when she takes crap scripts. I was a bit surprised to see that she didn’t get a nomination for her work here, but hey, I guess the Academy felt like they had to give the nomination to Taraji P. Henson, the caretaker of the old person’s home who finds Benjamin and takes of him, up until he’s an old, but yet, young-looking man. Henson is so charming and fun to watch in this movie that it’s a real shame she hasn’t been able to do anything that’s really worth buzzing-about. The girl’s got spark to her, and that shows through every scene she has.
Brad Pitt, though, is the real star of the show and milks this Benjamin Button’s simpleness almost to the point of where it doesn’t seem like he can go any longer, but however, he can. Pitt is great as Benjamin Button because he’s so kind, so simple, so polite, so regular, and so bright-sided about the world he lives in, that’s it almost way too easy to mark him as another caricature that ends-up taking some happiness out of his disability, but it’s not, and that’s all because Pitt won’t allow it. The guy doesn’t show many emotions throughout the whole flick (and that was the intention), but it feels real and honest, mostly because Pitt and Fincher, together, have painted a portrait of a guy that loves life and all those who inhabit it. Pit’s great to watch and the chemistry and love he has with Blanchett in this movie, never for a second, felt unrealistic or schmaltzy. It was as every bit as epic and heartfelt as I once remembered, and that will always stick in my mind when I think of this flick.
Consensus: Adapting a short story into a near-3-hour movie, is a bit of a stretch, especially when you have a flick that spans over decades-upon-decades, but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is still a beautiful, endearing, and heartfelt story that looks at life through the eyes of a person who has a very strange one, despite him being played by the ultra-handsome, and ultra-powerful Brad Pitt.
Roberta Flack is so ironic.
Brad Pitt stars as mob hitman Jackie Cogan, who is hired to hunt down three low-level criminals (Ben Mendelshon and Scoot McNairy) who robbed a mob-protected poker game, that just so happened to be run by a top mob-boss (Ray Liotta).
I think it’s pretty clear by now that this is not the typical, shoot ‘em up action-thriller everybody, as well as the trailers/posters/TV ads have all been making it out to be. It’s a thriller, that uses the suspense and actual thrilling-element of this movie in talks, discussions, and most importantly, it’s pacing. If you go into this movie expecting that, you’re going to have a hell of a time, but if you don’t, you’re going to find yourself dozing off quite a few times and wondering just when the hell somebody’s going to get their head blown-off. Trust me, it happens but you got to have some patience. Actually, quoting a Guns N Roses song would have probably been a bit better, but hey, that’s just me.
Another justice I think you would be doing this movie before-hand, is seeing writer/director’s Andrew Dominik‘s last-movie that came out a couple of years back called The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, because with that movie, you’re expecting a whole bunch of show-downs, people getting lassoed by bandits, people drinking whiskey, hookers flinging themselves around beds like pillows, and many, many trips to the local saloons. However, like this one, that movie depended more on it’s conversations between characters to really build things up and get to that point of where you actually get to see heads blown-off and feel like you just witnessed something totally, and completely awesome. Once again, you’ve got to have patience and see Dominik’s last-movie to really understand just what the hell to expect. I did both, and I feel great.
What makes this movie so entertaining is that right from the start, you know that it’s going to be full of tension and suspense but how the film goes about it is something that really caught me by surprise. Instead of going right for it, starting off with the heist and getting-on with the simple plot at-hand, we get back story we get character development, and we actually get time to know what type of people/atmosphere we’re dealing with, and whether or not it’s exactly what we expected in the first-place. Hell, if you think this movie is going to be your typical, gangster shoot ‘em up-like thriller, then you’re going to be dumbfounded once you actually realize that it’s already been 25 minutes into the movie, and we have yet to actually see the lead-character of the show.
And speaking of that lead-character of the show, Brad Pitt does an amazing job as the ruthless and toothless hitman known as Jackie Cogan. What makes Pitt so damn great and compelling in these types of roles that he chooses that are like Cogan, is that he looks and feels like this guy who just goes out there, wants whatever type of bloodshed he can get for money, and take it anyway he can, but at the same time, still be the smartest guy in the room that knows more than you may think. Because of this aspect to his character, we are always on-edge watching Pitt in every single scene he’s given because you know he has composure, you know he can play it cool, and you know that he’s not a slouch when it comes to getting the job done the right way, but you also never quite know just when the hell the switch is going to flip, and he’s going to take over anything and everything that stands in his way. Pitt is great with these types of roles and watching him play a character that was one-step ahead of everybody else around him, was just as fun to watch him, as much as it was for him to actually portray it.
Make no means though, because this is still Dominik’s movie and he still never lets you forget about it. His last movie felt like he was trying a bit too hard to go for that Malick look and feel, but here, the only type of style that I think he comes close to is the one of Stanley Kubrick, and that’s just me reaching for the stars. There’s no real style that this guy portrays and even though he may not have his own yet to where I can look at a frame or two and declare, “That, my friends, is an Andrew Dominik picture”, there is still something about this guy and the way he paces his movie’s and their stories to where he can do real-damage.
But then again, there were also these times where I felt like the guy was trying a bit too hard to be like his main character Cogan: one-step ahead of everybody else. In a way, that’s not a bad thing because it keeps us, the viewer on our toes as to what to expect next, but it also makes this movie seem like it’s biting-off more than it could possibly chew. For instance, the whole political-message is very bothersome and wasn’t as heavy-hitting as I thought, except until the very-end and everybody’s starting to spout-out some form of political exposition about how the world works, how our economy does what it does best (ruin lives, sorry too political), and how people are able to make a living (ruin lives, once again, too political). I get it, the story here of Cogan having to come in and take care of a mistake that the mob made is the mob’s own-form of capitalism, but that doesn’t mean in every single, freakin’ scene of the movie where there is a radio/TV present, that we have to hear the voices or see the faces of Obama, McCain, or George Bush. It doesn’t get that annoying, until you actually focus on it and realize that maybe Dominik should have just stayed with all of the conversations, by building-up a message and great deal of suspense, up until we get the bloody-violence, in that way and then we would have had a more clearer, understandable thriller that’s nothing but.
Then, when you actually do think about the bloody-violence, then you can’t think of anything else except for how freakin’ awesome it is. Just like in Jesse James, the violence doesn’t take over the whole story and make you feel as if you’re watching an action-epic of the highest-order, but only shows-up in short spurts in the most violent, most disturbing, and most realistic-way possible. A couple of scenes that come to my mind is one that concerns a slow-mo, build-up of a hit conducted by Cogan, and another scene where Ray Liotta gets his ass beat to a bloody pulp. The reason why it sticks-out so clear in my mind is because it’s not like what you expect from a movie like this: the guy yells, screams, and pleads for his life just like you or I would, and what’s so shocking and disturbing about this, is that the guy is a mobster-like character that shouldn’t feel pain, be scared, or even cry like a little girl. It’s bloody, ultra-violent, and very realistic in the way it portrays the pain felt for one character, and the pain we the audience feel when we watch a guy get the ever loving shit kicked-out of him. Gawd, I miss that feeling.
Speaking of Ray Liotta, this is probably the best piece of work he has done in the past-decade (that’s if we’re including Tommy Vercetti) and just goes to show you that the guy may be a mean-old, nasty mobster-dude that doesn’t take shit from anybody, but also is pretty human, too once you think about it. However, everybody else is pretty damn good too, to where you almost feel like the show can’t be his, or anybody else’s for that matter. Richard Jenkins shows up as the corporate handler who is hired to meet and talk “business” with Jackie, and does a great-job playing the ultimate square, but also a guy you sort of feel for since he is totally out of his element in terms of what there is for him to do, how, and why. Scott McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn play the two crooks that get a bit too hot-headed after the whole robbery and are both very different in their portrayals, but also seem like the two, perfect guys to come together on something like this that could really seem to go either way. Especially Mendelsohn who with this, Animal Kingdom, and The Dark Knight Rises, is playing the corrupted, evil-as-hell characters that we all see and hate in these types of movies, but yet, can’t keep our eyes off of, either.
The one that really steals the show out of the whole cast and may, just MAY, have a slight-bit chance of getting himself nominated for an Oscar this year is James Gandolfini as the old mobster that Cogan brings back to help him out on the dilemma he has at-hand. From the first-shot, you think that this is going to be Gandolfini playing, surprise, once again another Tony Soprano-like mobster, but this is the farthest thing from it. Yeah, he’s still ruthless, mean, and nasty as hell, but he also has a bit of a drinking-problem that escalates into us seeing underneath a convention we already know about in so many similar movies like this: the mobster. Like Liotta, Gandolfini’s portrayal of a mobster is subtle with his angry-emotions, but not so subtle with his sad ones, neither, and this is what culminates into the two best scenes of the whole movie and makes you feel like Gandolfini really needs to come back and bring-out quality performances like these, once again. Hell, I wouldn’t have even minded watching a whole movie where it’s just him and Pitt, shooting the shit about life, money, and crime, the way two old mobsters like to do it, and with the the two scenes of that I got here, I was happy.
Consensus: Going into this movie and expecting exactly what you see in the ads for this movie (countless shootings, crime, and cool walking scenes), then you’re going to be terribly disappointed with what the final-product of Killing Them Softly truly is: a slow-burning, tension-filled thriller that relies more on the performances, than the actual-violence that takes place itself, no matter how bloody or gruesome it is to watch.
If only Clint Eastwood was Jesse James, then I think the story would have been different.
As the charismatic and unpredictable Jesse James (Brad Pitt) plans his next great robbery, he wages war on his enemies, who are trying to collect the reward money – and the glory – riding on his capture. However, his plans are all interrupted once he becomes entangled in a friendship with his admirer Robert Ford (Casey Affleck).
It’s very bold to have the climax of your film in the title, no matter how true it is, but I was still so surprised to see that James does in-fact actually die in the end. Maybe, just maybe I didn’t pay enough attention in history class, but for some reason, I didn’t believe that he was going to get killed at the end. Oh, I guess that was a spoiler.
This was the second flick from Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik and it’s pretty obvious where he gets his inspiration of movie-making from, and that is Mr. Terrence Malick. Honestly, if I had no idea who the director was before-hand, I would have easily gone with Malick because every single little detail about this film is so perfect and beautiful that you really can’t take your eyes off of it one bit and I know that’s said about a lot of films but that is really meant here. Dominik focuses the camera on these long, sweeping shots of beautiful farmland where it almost feels like you’re there in the 1880′s with Jesse James and Robert Ford. Every shot is handled carefully, with just the right amount light and color added to it, to get you involved with the stark wilderness that these characters surround themselves with. There is just so much to look at here that you almost forget to pay attention to the story that’s at-hand, which is a total bummer, because this story can really grab you if you give it the attention that it deserves.
What I liked about Dominik, was that aside from his beautiful art direction, he was able to make a genuinely tense and unpredictable story out of a fact-based history lesson, and always being able to surprise us. Not everything about this story that Dominik tells us is true and he probably takes some liberties here and there, I definitely know that, but everything before the actual “assassination” itself, kept me on the edge of my seat and I like how Dominik was able to do that with his deliberate slow pacing. Yeah, this film is one hell of a slow-burner for sure, but it works as it develops each and every character in this story more and more, and also keeps you guessing just when the hell Jesse James is going to show-up, or better yet, when the hell he is going to get killed. May sound like a complaint but it’s not, mainly because Dominik is able to take his time with the story.
Anybody expecting a Sergio Leone-type Western, where it’s just constant gun-battles, witty one-lines, and a whole bunch of spaghetti style art thrown at the wall here, are really going to be in for a big surprise with this film, but have no fear, it still does have enough violence to hold anyone over. Actually, whenever the violence did rarely show-up on the screen, it felt deserved and made sense to the story but also felt realistic in a way that these people are actually dying from real-life bullets and whatnot. I don’t want to dive any farther into the violence and murders that go down in this flick, but I just want to say that they feel realistic and are handled well without being over-exploitative of it’s dark, violent side.
If there was a certain aspect to this flick that seemed to have bothered me the most here, was that it was over 2 hours and 40 minutes and it didn’t need to be that way. See, the first and last act are all dedicated to just James and Ford being around one another but in between all of that is a whole bunch of other characters that were apart of James’ gang that don’t really seem all that needed for this story to work, but are left in there just to add some character development. Usually, I would give some points to any director who can do this and do it as well as Dominik is able to do here, but it takes away from the story and really had me annoyed since those scenes with Ford and James can get so damn tense. Most of the characters were interesting enough to hold my interest, but I just sort of wanted to get down to the real business at-hand here.
Brad Pitt as Jesse James is a perfect bit of casting because Pitt is able to play up all of the sides of him that he has as the iconic figure. Every time James shows up in the story, whether or not to start some trouble or “go on a walk”, it’s always tense and unpredictable to the point of where you don’t know what this character is going to do next. From everything I heard and read about, James was one violent son of a bitch and one that couldn’t be contained because of his wits and determination for violence when needed. This is an idea that Pitt plays up perfectly, giving us a very iconic figure to begin with but also show something else that lies deep down inside of him. We get to see a lot of scenes where James lays out all of his emotions and how painful he feels with the life that he’s living and it’s not only an easy way to get us to care about him even though he’s killed over 17 people in his life, but also a great way to show some insight into an iconic figure that so many people feel like they know.
Pitt’s great, but Casey Affleck is just about as perfect playing opposite of him, as Robert Ford. Affleck plays the little boy-version of Jesse James, as he is constantly made fun of by his family and treated like he doesn’t know shit about shooting guns and robbing banks/trains. Eventually, this guy starts to show more emotions rather than this very shy and awkward young kid that just wants to be “one of the guys”, and the way Affleck plays it all up works perfectly for this very easy, yet hard to sympathize with character.
You also begin to realize that Ford is a character that seems like he tries so hard to want to be like James, that in the end, even when he has done all of the dirty work he could do to get rid of him, he still can’t reach the type of fame that his predecessor once, and still has. It’s a sad idea that makes you think more about Ford and realize just how strong of an actor Affleck is. This character is complex and Affleck shows that and when it’s just him on-screen, he’s amazing but when it’s just him and James messing around with one another, then it just gets even better. Surprised that this Ford dude didn’t end up killing everybody in sight by how much he got picked on. Poor Affleck. At least you got the Oscar nomination over Pitt. Suck on that Jesse!
As for the rest of the star-studded cast, they’re all pretty good too even though a lot of their roles/characters are featured more than they needed to be. Jeremy Renner is vicious and unforgiving as Wood Hite, the cousin to Jesse James; Paul Schneider is awesome as the womanizing crook that every lady seems to fall for; Sam Rockwell has a lot of fun as Ford’s big bro, Charley, but also shows a dark side to him as well by the end; and Sam Shepard is pretty freakin’ awesome as Frank James, and does an outstanding job with the short amount of time he actually gets on-screen. The ladies in this flick are sort of put on the back-burner but both Mary-Louise Parker and Zooey Deschanel do splendid jobs with their roles, even though I felt like they could have had more input into this story. Then again, I just wanted to see a mono-e-mono battle between Ford and James.
Consensus: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford may run on very, very long but features some of the most beautiful images caught on film with its detailed direction from Andrew Dominik, insightful story about these larger-than-life iconic figures, and a bunch of superb performances from everybody involved, especially Casey Affleck in a way you have never seen him before.
Don’t eff with the comic book nerds.
The film tells the story of a novice prostitute Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) and the adventure with her lover, comic book store clerk Clarence Worley (Christian Slater). When Clarence kills Alabama’s pimp (Gary Oldman), the newlyweds ride off into the sunset — with $5 million worth of cocaine in a suitcase and the police and the mob on their trail.
Since director Tony Scott is in such a slump nowadays, I honestly think he should just go back to having Tarantino write his scripts because he gave him two of the best films of his career. Aside from ‘Crimson Tide’, this is the other one.
The real selling point of this flick is that it’s written by Tarantino himself, and as everybody already knows, this guy is a freakin’ original genius. Tarantino is able to take any situation and make it go from normal to completley insane in about a matter of 5 seconds and it will give you this bad-ass feeling that you could not expect. The story is a pretty familiar but there are people getting killed at every second that you wouldn’t expect, twists and turns, random pop-culture references that somehow fit into the story, and just a whole bunch of other cool moments in this flick that make it ten times more the awesome thrill ride that it is known as today.
My complaint with this script is that even though it is by Tarantino, this is definitely not his best work by any means. Yes, he does get to use all of his trade-marks like funny one-liners, pop-culture references, and tense stand-offs but for some reason it’s not as edgy as you would expect. There was just something that felt like it should have really hit me harder and stuck with me more but instead it just ended up entertaining me and left me with a pretty happy mood. I don’t think Tarantino had full control over his story and that’s why the story may come off as a little more lame than his usual stuff, but it still at least works in a rather medium way.
Director Tony Scott also adds a bunch of fun to this flick by giving it this straight-forward, energetic thrill ride that isn’t filmed with that annoying shaky-came he can’t ever seem to get his hands off of nowadays. Scott is a good director when he’s got good source material, which he definitely has here, and even though it’s not drenched in style like you would expect from him, it still has a fast-paced to it that keeps the story going and the bullets flying.
However, what really had me going for this flick was its whole ensemble cast that is filled with just about every star from the early 90′s. Christian Slater is pretty good as Clarence, a guy that may seem a little strange but after awhile you start to believe and actually hope he comes out of all of this shit alive. Patricia Arquette is also a lot of fun to watch as Alabama, and you can totally feel like this one girl could actually fall in love with this type of dude. Their romance is something you actually care about because we spend enough time to see them together, and to see them be happy with one another so that when they go on this road trip and their lives are in danger, we care not only about them but their relationship as well. Sounds pretty sappy, I know, but it’s something that surprisingly worked here.
The rest of the cast is freakin’ great too, considering that just about every big star this flick had to show is in here for about 5-10 minutes each but totally kick-ass for the time they have. Dennis Hopper is great here as Clarence’s dad, in a non-psychotic role; Val Kilmer is here as “The King” but is still funny and cool, considering we barely see him; Gary Oldman is hilarious and menacing as Drexl, the white boy pimp with dreadlocks; Brad Pitt is also here as our pot-smoking friend, Floyd, and probably one of the best performances of his career, and I am willing to go toe-to-toe with whoever thinks otherwise; and Christopher Walken shows up for about 7 minutes but gives the film’s best scene where its just him and Hopper talking shit to one another and once again, it’s always Walken who steals the show at the end of the day and I can’t say that I expected anything else. Aside from these peeps I already mentioned there are plenty of other familiar faces here such as Samuel L. Jackson, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, and Bronson Pinchot among others. Basically, it’s one of the better casts for a flick that I’ve seen and they all do excellent jobs with what they are given.
Consensus: It may not be Tarantino’s best script ever written, but it still has a great energy to it, with crazy performances from the ensemble cast, and some really kick-ass moments that make this film a fun watch if not as good as you would expect from these Scott and Tarantino working together.
A big-blue testicle vs. Brad Pitt.
A big-brained and blue super-villain named Megamind (Will Ferrell) finally beats his big-time rival, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). He soon then faces an existential crisis of sorts after he finds out that having no superhero at all to stop him from evil-wrong doings, is actually pretty boring. So, he creates a new enemy (Jonah Hill) who seeks to destroy the world, forcing Megamind to play the hero role for once in his life.
After checking out ‘Despicable Me’ for the first time earlier this year, basically everybody started comparing that to this film, making me want to see it even more. So now that I’ve seen it, all yo guys can shut yo mouths!
What really works with this film is that it touches just about every single plot-line, cliche, and convention that comes with a superhero comic-book story. You got everything from the smart villain, to the goofy-looking costumes, and whole lot more other elements that are not left untouched and that’s where the real fun of this film comes from. The film sort of pokes fun at everything we know of these superhero stories and twist them around in their own cool and original ways to be their own story.
The film is funny, but not in the way that you would expect from an animated-flick rated PG, it’s actually pretty adult-like. The humor is pretty witty with a lot of in-jokes, pop cultural references, but even enough jokes for kids that they will understand and laugh at but not as much as the parents. I actually found myself laughing quite a bit with this flick because the whole idea was cool right from the beginning, but how the film itself just tops on that with constant references, originality, and adult-like humor is what really made it work.
There is also a lot to look at here because the flick is beautiful and gets even better when the action is there too. The colors are very bright and vibrant but how colors will come and go in the middle of one action sequence is pretty cool. The music here is also pretty fun with a lot of old-school classics from AC/DC, ELO, Guns N Roses, Michael Jackson, and whole lot more to give this film the extra kick of fun it has.
My problem with this film is that the story is sort of what we always see in any superhero film, but when the film itself starts to dive right into those conventions it’s a little bit more disappointing. This film practically makes fun of these conventions so much that when it starts to hit into them by the end, it kind of left me bummed. The laughs also started to come less and less which had me bummed even more.
Will Ferrell is a lot of fun as Megamind because his character is not just evil, but he’s also very sensitive and likable which this film really worked well on with that character; Tina Fey is smart, funny, feisty, and a little sexy as Roxanne Ritchi, aka Lois Lane; David Cross is also very funny as Minion, Megamind’s second-man/thing-in-command; and Brad Pitt is awesome as Metro Man, who is the perfect combination of Elvis, Jesus, and Superman all rolled up into one hunk.
Jonah Hill is also pretty fun as Tighten but the problem with this character is that he is almost exactly like Syndrome from ‘The Incredibles’. Think about it for a second: both used to be good guys, they were both twisted into being villains by the good guys, and they both go insane-o in the end. You don’t realize this right from the get-go but once you start to think about it because it’s all the same disappointing as the ending itself.
Consensus: It may lose some steam by the end but Megamind is still a whole lot of fun due to its humor that pokes fun at all of the conventions of the superhero genre, it’s voices that are obviously having a ball, and the constant energy that this film keeps throughout the whole flick.
Beats me what this is even about, but damn does it look pretty!
Growing up in the Midwest with two brothers, Jack has always been torn between his mother (Jessica Chastain)’s guidance to approach everything he encounters with an open heart and his father (Brad Pitt)’s advice to look after his own interests. Now, Jack (played in an older age by Sean Penn) must find a way to regain purpose and perspective.
That synopsis there is sort of what I think this flick is about because within the first 240 minutes we get the creation of the universe, jelly fishes swimming all over the ocean, and dinosaurs. Yes, you heard me right, I said dinosaurs but after that then it gets normal.
Going into this flick, knowing that it was Terrence Malick not only directing but writing as well, I was going in expecting two things: 1. a good story and 2. beautiful visuals. For numero uno, I kind of got that but for number two, I definitely got that.
After seeing only two films from Malick so far (‘The Thin Red Line’, ‘The New World’) I knew that this was going to be just another one of his flicks that just wreaks in beauty with just about every shot, and he did not let me down. Every single shot here is just another piece of beauty that gets added to the collection of all of his other flicks and even with the smallest amount of light in one shot, you can still feel like you haven’t seen the sun like this quite before. The thing with a lot of these shots though, is that you seen realize that Malick is deliberately taking certain shots to put us all in the mind of Jack as a young boy and we see what he sees, feels what he feels, and at least try to understand what he’s trying to understand. It also helps that Malick shot on some of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen in quite some time and I honestly want to know just where he found caves that look like the ones he was filming here. No matter what though, Malick is perfect when it comes to creating beautiful visuals for a flick and even when it comes to him getting towards using CGI, it almost looks perfectly real. Hell, a lot more real than most of these big-budget action block-busters that come out every year. That’s a true testament to the directing style of Terrence Malick.
When it comes to the story, well, let’s just say things are a little bit weird. As I’ve already mentioned before, the first 40 minutes are totally confusing as we see this present-day story that goes back to the past, and then goes all the way back to the creation of the universe filled with all sorts of random life-forms. It was a little confusing at first but still stunning to watch none the less however when the actual story about this young boy and his family came in, that’s when the film really did wonders.
The whole story about this little kid and how he sees the world through two different life-styles actually made me not only feel a lot for his story but my own as well. Take it for granted though, I wasn’t born in the 50′s and my parents are both kind of the same in terms of parenting, which isn’t a bad thing in any way because come on, they let me watch R-rated movies when I wasn’t even legally allowed to. Just the way that all of these kids go about their days kicking the can down the street, chasing their mom around the house with a lizard, breaking windows to be deemed “cool” by others, and so so many other things that remind me of myself when I was a lot younger and didn’t have much to do in my life other than go outside and play with my buds. It was great to see a film just tell a story about kid growing up through the kid himself with all of his angst, curiosity, confusion, anger, but most of all, happiness.
Where I think this film hits its biggest problem is that I think its structure could have definitely been used a lot more simpler than Malick actually gave us. I have to give props to Malick for this structure because after awhile, you start to fit the pieces of the puzzle together and everything starts to make sense, but I think if he had started from the creation of the universe thing to the childhood of Jack to the adulthood of Jack, it probably would have made a lot more sense and come off as more enjoyable that way. There is also a bunch of talk about God and faith that didn’t really do much for me and may seem a bit too far-fetched when it comes to connecting two different stories together, but it didn’t really bother me all that much considering I was just watching beauty right in front of my eyes.
Even though the film sort of treats the characters as second-nature here, the performances are all still pretty good. Brad Pitt is a fine fit as Jack’s tense and strict but loving father that truly shows how Pitt can command any scene even if the guy he’s playing is a bit of a dick, but from what I hear, all fathers in the 50′s were apparently like this. Jessica Chastain is a joy to watch as the fun-loving, sweet, and tender soul that is Jack’s mom, and also a lot of love to Hunter McCracken who is just about perfect in this film as young Jack, considering how much he has to go through and none of it ever seems fake or put-on. Hopefully this kid has a lot of work in the near future. The weakest part of this cast as well as this flick is probably Sean Penn as older Jack who isn’t really given much to do in the first place other than walk around, mope, and wear a very nice suit barely even muttering a word.
Consensus: Though it’s not for everybody, The Tree of Life is a beautiful and gorgeous flick done by Terrence Malick who not only gives us wonderful visuals to gaze at, but also a story to follow and relate to (not talking about the dinosaurs) and performances to watch and admire (minus Sean Penn).
Pitt being Pitt, Morgan being Morgan, Spacey being Spacey, and Fincher being Fincher. Hell yeah.
Two homicide detectives are on a desperate hunt for a serial killer whose crimes are based on the “seven deadly sins”. The seasoned Det. Sommerset (Morgan Freeman) researches each sin in an effort to get inside the killer’s mind, while his novice partner, Mills (Brad Pitt), scoffs at his efforts to unravel the case.
David Fincher is a total mad-man and I think he has only gotten better as the years have gone on, but it’s great to see where it all started.
This film is straight-up messed up however, it is also a very smartly written one to say the least which is a lot of thanks to writer Andrew Kevin Walker, who did a lot of junk before and after this film but somehow got thing clickin’ at the right time and place. The film shows the characters always one step behind the killer so we’re constantly left wondering how is this damn guy so freakin’ smart and we don’t quite know what he’ll do next. It fully keeps you on the edge of your seat, until the grand finale comes up and then were left with, “Wow”.
However, it’s not the smarty-pants that the killer has is what’s so good about this screenplay, it’s the fact that it is actually horror/thriller film that has something to say. The killer’s motives really stuck into my head because he is only doing this to people that are not innocent, but more as to people who deserve it because of the hurt and pain they push onto others so subtly. This film will mess with how you view the world and most of all will take you inside of the mind of the serial killer it’s showing, which is unlike any thriller I have ever seen before. What the killer says is still in my mind and will stick with yours probably too.
The real reason this film works though is Fincher’s direction, that is almost nothing short of brilliant. His use of lighting still works in any film, and especially here because he knows how to make any place, no matter where it may be, and just make it the most dirty, grimy, and disturbing place you have ever seen on film. The thing is though, that he’s making Chicago look like this shit-hole where it doesn’t stop raining for a whole week. All of Fincher’s visual flairs add to the depressed and dark setting of this film and just about every sequence is thrilling just by the way he keeps the tension and mystery going.
Oh and let’s not forget the opening title sequence to the remix of the song “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Like that damn song didn’t already have me creeped out. Thanks Finch.
I also liked the fact that we never actually got to see any of the killing’s happen, and more of just the aftermath of these grisly murders. There’s a lot to be shocked by after seeing this film, and although I have seen this about 4 times now, I have to say that I still get a little grossed out by what I see. Others may like this, may despise it and this is one of those films where it’s just “not for everybody”. That can be said for a lot of Fincher films except for maybe his last two that came out, but with The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, I think he’s back on-track for grossing people out again.
The cast is also nothing short of magnificent either. Brad Pitt is great as the young, cocky, and headstrong cop David Mills who wants to get the bad-guy at any way possible, and Morgan Freeman is even better as William Somerset, the laid-back, seasoned cop who plays the voice of reason every time Mills gets a little loose with it. They’re contrast of old school vs. new school is amazing to see on-screen and they work together so well having me actually believing them as a real-life detective team. The real shining star of this whole film is probably Kevin Spacey, who you will probably be stuck remembering long after the final credit reels off the screen. I can’t say much else about this role, but this is easily the best performance from the whole film by just how much he gets into not only the character’s heads, but also the audiences head as well.
Consensus: Although it may not be for everybody, Seven is still one of Fincher’s best with a tension-filled atmosphere, brilliant script, superb writing, and a grand finale that will be sure to stay in your mind way long after the film is over.
At least we now know where Fantasy Leagues came from.
This is about the true story Billy Beane, a former jock turned general manager who uses unconventional methods to bring the best players to the Oakland A’s, a major league baseball team struggling against financial hardship.
I watch baseball from time to time and being from Philadelphia, I have been apart of a couple of heart-breaks before, but I’m sure as hell glad we weren’t this bad. But I do wish Charlie Manual looked like Brad.
Director Bennett Miller takes the average and cliched sports movies, and turns it into something that actually does something not many have been able to do: makes whatever sport their talking about, entertaining to watch for those who don’t know anything about it.
Miller has many moments of inspired direction with just focusing on how the team is built up with lots and lots of talking, with barely any of the actual game of baseball being played. I mean you of course get the usual sports montages and inspirational moments, but the film is more about the numbers and how to run a successful baseball team with such a slight budget. You also get the feeling that Billy Beane and his team actually changed the way we look at players and baseball, but they don’t try to hit you over the head with that point too much which I was very glad for.
The talking in this film is what also kept me entertained because I never actually knew just how Beane’s way of team-building changed the way we look at sports nowadays. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin both wrote this script and you can tell that they had a lot of fun with this because there are some great moments of hilarity but also plenty of insight and human emotion into these character’s lives that we actually do start to care for. Sorkin brings that constant hammering of words back-and-forth in the script and works here the most, especially when the film is just flying numbers that we have no idea about, right at us.
My problem with this film is that as much as the emotional aspect for this film may have worked, at the same time it kind of took away from the film too. The film shows Billy Beane and how he deals with all of this failure with his baseball team as well as his failure to live up to his expectations as an actual baseball player. This part of the story worked but the film didn’t focus on just that, they also brought in his daughter that really is in the film for about 3 scenes but the film tries so hard to make it seem like she has such an impact on the story that it really seems forced. They try to make Billy’s family “issues” (if there are any) more important than the actual team itself and even that song his daughter writes for him seems something that no 12-year old ever would write. I’m talking about you too Justin Beiber!
The film also tends to run on too long which sometimes isn’t as much of a problem if the film keeps you going, but the pace itself keeps stopping and going to the point of when I didn’t know when it was going to end, nor did I have a feeling they were going to choose a good ending. It’s about a 2 hour and 12 minute movie, which for some is way too long and especially too long for the people around me as everybody I looked at seemed to be moving around a lot after about the 2 hour mark.
I came to see this film for one reason and one main reason only and that was Brad Pitt, who plays A’s manager, Billy Beane. This is a great performance from Pitt as usual because he really gets to challenge the depth of his acting skills with this character. It’s so easy to sympathize with this guy because he seems like such a nice and cool dude who’s caught in a total rutt and wants nothing more to actually win some games and keep this franchise alive. Just by looking at his face, I already felt the emotions that he was feeling and that’s what Pitt does best here. He also gets to show a lot of that great charm that he always has in any film and whether he’s just talking to player, spouting out numbers, or walking around always so cool like he always does, Pitt just shows that he can hit every chord with the audience that needs to be hit with one character.
Jonah Hill is also great in this very tied-down role as Peter Brand, our numbers man. Hill (who was fat still) brings a lot of funny moments to the film and actually makes you believe him as this total number-nerd that builds this great friendship with Beane. Hill and Pitt are probably the most unlikely buddies in any film, but they make it work every chance they get and their scenes just really had me involved almost every time. It’s cool that two totally different actors like Hill and Pitt can actually come together for one film and make it seem believable, rather than just something that Hollywood executives needed for money. Philip Seymour Hoffman gets the top-billing for this film as well but he’s rarely in this but plays the best to his advantage as Art Howe, Beane’s biggest problem when it comes to staff.
Consensus: Moneyball doesn’t fully hit it out of the park (cliche, I know) but does however give us a great look at a system in baseball that changed the game forever, as well as being well-acted, funny, and still touching somewhere in between all the numbers.
A message to men everywhere: treat your women well, otherwise, they’ll go on a crime spree.
Fed up with her boyfriend, live-wire Arkansas waitress Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) persuades her friend Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis), a naïve housewife burdened with a negligent, sexist husband, to hit the road with her for a simple weekend of freedom. But after accidentally killing a man, the two friends wind up outlaws blazing a cathartic trail across America.
It’s funny to see that the director of macho-dude hits such as Gladiator, Black Hawk down, and American Gangster, Ridley Scott, can make a film about two chicks on the run and it still be pretty cool.
The best thing that Scott does here with this direction is bring a lot of fun energy here. The plot is contrived, but the things that actually happen on this trip are pretty fun, and at times unbelievable but somehow Scott makes it all work with his heavy-hand of style. Scott keeps the action going at a nice pace and still allows time for these two characters to talk and actually be developed which is the least we could say for many other road movies.
The writing is also pretty good too with a lot of funny little moments of wit but also a great deal of reality that this film shows too. You may think it will hit the conventions of your ordinary road movie right off the bat, but it stays different and fresh somehow mainly because it’s script knows how to even out both comedy, drama, and some really fun action. Instead of these two ladies just roaming around the place, going crazy, and shooting people, we actually get some real poignant moments where these two just need an escape from their real shit-hole lives, and are just so happy to branch out of there boring days of just doing work, making dinner, and practically doing nothing new all day. This film showed that it wasn’t just the guys who could have all the crazy action fun, the girls could play just as harder also, which is also something very revolutionary about this film as well.
However, as inspirational and fun as it may be, some of it still feels a bit dated. There were moments where I listened to what these chicks said, and just thought to myself: “why are they saying that?”. Then, I actually realized that this film just wanted these two girls to say something naughty, or rough to be cool. Also, not every guy in the world just pops an automatic boner as soon as they see two women. I mean I understand that there are freaks out there, but this film really showed that almost every guy is a sex-freak that wants anything they can get right away.
My other problem with this film is probably the last 15 to 20 minutes, which would also include the ending. The whole time this film sort of fought against the convention of your ordinary action/road movie, but then somehow all the crazy car chases, and guns blowing up came out of nowhere, and thus, we had ourselves the same old action/road movie.
The ending was also very controversial at the time, but for me, I liked it. I thought it summed the whole 128 minutes I just watched pretty well, but the problem with the ending is the final shot. The final shot which many know, but I still won’t give away, should have been left on the screen longer than it was on. Scott faded to the happy-go-lucky montage/end credits way too quick for the audience to actually sink in what we just saw and then it’s impact is almost forgotten and lost. I know this may seem crazy to be pissed off about, but when I saw that ending I noticed some real problem with that.
These two gals also probably give their best performances to date. Susan Sarandon is awesome as the tough-as-nails, but also determined, Louise Sawyer and shows that she has that look that will make any man shriek once they see it. Geena Davis is also very good as the ditzy, but also very kind-hearted, Thelma Dickinson. Both of these great actresses work so well together and their chemistry builds up even more and more as the film goes on to the point of where you believe these two as friends. Not a moment with these two felt false and that’s what these two greats bring to the screen.
Let’s not also forget this was the first introduction into the hunk that they call, Brad Pitt as the sly and mysterious drifter, J.D. He has great scenes here as well and shows that he really was bound for greatness after all. The only thing he would have to do was take his shirt off, and he had no problem with that here.
Consensus: Thelma & Louise is guided by a great direction from Ridley Scott who has an even better script that knows how to balance out comedy, drama, and action very well with two great performances from David and Sarandon. However, by the end, the film starts to fall into convention and the last shot of the film feels too rushed off the screen, and therefore loses the whole impact that I felt I was going to have from this film.
While researching a book on serial killings, writer Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) and his girlfriend, Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes), travel cross-country to the murder sites and unwittingly stumble upon strangers who know the subject firsthand. A pair of hitchhikers (Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis) offer to share expenses for the trip, but Kessler doesn’t realize just how close he is to his subject — even as bodies pile up behind them.
Watching early Brad Pitt is pretty cool because I got to see just how he was still the man, even when he was doing B-thrillers, like this one here.
This film starts off very well with you already knowing that these two “hicks” are basically murderers and as the awkward moments go on and on, you start to feel a great deal of tension throughout this film. I liked how the film worked up its suspense and kept me going the whole time just waiting and waiting for something really bad to happen.
The film also has something smart to say about violence and when you write about it as well. It’s one thing when you write about murder and what happens, but it’s a totally different other thing to actually be stuck in that situation where you are stuck with a killer and may actually have to resort to killing, yourself.
However, my main problem with this film is when that really bad thing actually happens and once again just like every other thriller, turns into another Straw Dogs situation where the straight-laced, sort of nerdy guy is pushed against his boundaries and becomes an animal himself. This was just a cheap way to end a very smart story and even after that is all over, the ending still kind of blew. We never really actually learn anything in this film, nor does any of the characters themselves. I thought this was a very cheap way to end the film since it just seemed like almost a waste of exercise in suspense.
The real saving grace this film has is it’s amazing cast, most importantly, Brad Pitt. Pitt plays a very crucial role here as Early Grayce because we know this guy is a killer and a little loose in the head, but we never fully know what he’s going to do next because we feel that he may actually turn good after all. Still, Pitt is very creepy and evil in this role and knocked down his comparisons to a new Robert Redford that he was getting so much at this time.
Juliette Lewis is also very good as Adele Corners and has a lot very strange and at times, sad scenes that she pulls off very well. David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes are also very good as these yuppies that are totally out of their comfort zone with these two, and each one plays it off so well, especially Forbes who gets more and more freaked out as the film goes on and it’s just great to see how many emotions she can show within her character.
Consensus: There’s plenty of suspense here, and a very good cast, but soon turns into your typical, and predictable revenge thriller that may have a lot to say but by the end, can’t tell you what you’ve learned or even what the characters themselves have learned either.
Talk about keepin’ it in the family. Woo-hoo!
The rugged Ludlow clan — father William (Anthony Hopkins) and brothers Alfred (Aidan Quinn), Tristan (Brad Pitt) and Samuel (Henry Thomas) — splinters when Sam goes off to fight in World War I despite his father’s opposition. To protect Sam, his siblings follow suit. But their efforts fall short, and tragedy ensues. Upon returning home, Alfred and Tristan face a new battle when both fall for Sam’s beautiful fiancée (Julia Ormond).
Looking at this film from a far, you can already tell that you’re going to get some schmaltzy stuff here. However, it isn’t as bad as people would have you expect it to be.
The main problem with this film and it’s story is that it is a little too hokey for some viewers. It feels like an epic film but then starts to turn into some deep levels of melodrama that just don’t work if you’re say, a dude. Some of the stuff they have here from the cheesy score, to the hot guys (not including Anthony Hopkins, although I think he is very sexy), and to the romantic love triangle will probably all appeal more to women looking to lay down and watch a nice little story while their having their Ben and Jerrys.
Although it does get a little too cheesy at times, this film still kept my interest because I actually did like this story and where it went. The story starts off pretty average, and then goes into places that I didn’t quite expect it to, but I’m glad it did because it kept the story alive, even if it doesn’t strike an emotional cord. The cinematography is also beautiful and some of the images here almost remind me ones reminiscent of a Terrence Malick picture. Nothing like the beautiful farmlands.
The cast is what really brought this film together and with good reason. Brad Pitt is amazing as the blue-eyed, crazy kid, Tristan. He’s sort of that one boy in the family who gets in all the trouble, causes most of the trouble he gets into, and at the end of the day, you still love more and more. Pitt carries this film from start to finish and there are scenes here that would seem hammy if it were another actor in the role, but I have to say that Pitt does a great job here and has you love Tristan right from the get-go. Anthony Hopkins is good as their father William, and brings that great father-like figure that still works 7 years later in films like Thor. Aiden Quinn probably has the toughest role because he has to make a bad guy, seem actually likable and pulls it off for the most part. Nothing really special, just a good performance from a good actor, it’s just a shame that Pitt totally blows him out of the water. Julia Ormond is great in this role as the romantically troubled, Susannah, who’s character is kind of a hoe, going to all of the brothers, but somehow Ormond allows us to stand behind her character and only hope for the best as the story goes on.
Consensus: Though it gets into some pretty hammy situations, and the story may not be as emotionally involving as it likes to think, Legends of the Fall is a beautifully-filmed, and well-acted love triangle, that will hold your interest even despite how cheesy it might get.
Screw actual history! This is the kind of stuff I want to be taught in history class!
A Jewish cinema owner (Mélanie Laurent) in occupied Paris is forced to host a Nazi movie premiere, where a radical group of American Jewish soldiers called the Basterds, led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), plans to roll out a score-settling scheme. The face-off is about to go down — that’s if Col. Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter” (Christoph Waltz, in an Oscar-winning role) doesn’t get in the way.
I watched, and reviewed this last year but something just came back inside of me that I had the total need to see this. It also still lives up to the first time.
One of my favorites of all-time, writer/director Quentin Tarantino is an absolute genius with his work here. Whether it’s on the keyboard, or behind the camera, this crazy son-of-a-bitch knows how to make great movies, and this no different. Now if there’s one thing I know that this film will do, and that’s cause a lot of high school history teachers heart-attacks over the historical inaccuracies here. The way that this film was so historically inaccurate was actually pretty inspiring and awesome to see actually come out on screen, because I’m sort of sick and tired of seeing the Oscar-bait WWII/Holocaust films that Hollywood turns out every year, and I feel like Tarantino is just sticking his middle finger out to that whole machine.
Honestly though, who cares about those inaccuracies because this movie is down-right amazing. The script is just near-perfect with the usual twists and turns you would expect, the film references are there but not so annoying this go-around, and you are constantly on the edge of your seat being entertained, and also wondering what’s just going to happen next. There are many scenes here where I had no idea what was just going to occur next, and the suspense keeps on building up, and up until the final conclusion which is usually just so crazy. Also, let’s not forget that there is plenty of awesome, bloody violence here but nothing that Tarantino fans, have already come to enjoy and understand.
My only problem with this film is that it does drag on too long for some scenes. A lot of this signature talkiness that I have come to know and love from Tarantino, happens and works here, but there are just times where I felt myself wondering just why the hell are they keeping this going for so long. If you also look at the title too, it says Inglorious Basterds. These guys are probably the best parts of the film, but aren’t in it as much since there are about 3 other subplots. However, I still enjoyed these subplots and loved each and every time these Basterds were on screen.
Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine was a freakin’ riot here! He does this cracker-jack shtick that masterfully brings out his comedic charm for this character, and brings out all the well-deserved laughs in between the violence and suspense. In the end, he plays Tarantino’s cartoon character brilliantly, and that’s all we ask for. The whole film was promoted on Pitt, but the real center-piece here is Christoph Waltz in the Oscar-winning role as German S.S. Colonel Hans Landa. I honestly don’t know how this guy could be so good at playing someone so evil? He is probably one of the best good bad guys ever on film, and I know it’s hard to understand but it’s one of those things you have to see to believe. His character is just one of those evil, smart, witty, and manipulative villains that you want to hate so much, but can’t help but commend him for actually being so smart and actually amusing. Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna is also amazing in this role, and really brings out some powerful emotions within her character just by using her facial expressions and it works so well with her character. There is a huge cast here that are also very good such as Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Daniel Brühl, Diane Kruger, Til Schweiger, B.J. Novak, and also a surprisingly very good little cameo from Mike Myers. This guy needs to come back it’s been too long.
Consensus: Though some viewers will be thrown off by a lot of the talking, Quentin Tarantino still has that masterful mind to have viewers thoroughly enjoyed by his amazing script, non-stop suspense, and great acting from the cast that looks like their all just having a great time.
Now I know more about history.
In 1193 B.C., the love-struck Prince Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) kidnaps legendary beauty Helen (Diane Kruger) from her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, setting the two nations on a fast-and-sure collision course for war and bloodshed. The Greeks, including Achilles (Brad Pitt), marshal their entire armada, sail to Troy and begin a decade-long siege. Eric Bana plays Hector, the leader of the Trojan forces, and Sean Bean is the wily Ulysses.
I’m not a huge reader of old Greek mythology, but I know my way around it. However, due to this film, I may want to give them all a second reading.
This film is really great to look at, and you do have a fun time. The set pieces and costumes are extremely beautiful, and you almost feel as if you are in ancient Greece watching all these battles go on. The battle sequences are awesome. If you love watching bows fly in the sky, and swords be thrown around like frisbees, then this is definitely the film for you cause the violence here is down-right bangin’.
The problem with this film is that when all the action is not going on, there really isn’t much else to this film to keep you entertained for long. I thought that the script was pretty lame, and there are a lot of lines that seem cheesy and cliche.
You also can’t really connect to these characters cause the film is more about the events happening, and less about the actual people involved. The film doesn’t really give you an idea as to who the bad, and the guys are, and it’s not that you can make up that assumption for yourself, the film doesn’t really let you in to figure that out. So by the ending, I didn’t feel any real connection to these characters, and their fates were kind of not as important to me. These actual historical figures seem more of action hero cliches rather than actual people, and that’s the problem cause you could have actually rooted behind some of these people if the film just let you. But you are never really given that chance.
The acting for me here was pretty good. Brad Pitt is oddly in this film, and it seems kind of strange, but I think this was his days before Angelina, so it’s kind of understandable that his career didn’t really pick up just yet. He’s good as Achillies and actually brings a charm to his character that I wasn’t expecting him to do with such a cheesy script, but that just proves his skills as an actor. I also liked Eric Bana as well, and thought that his performance as Hector, brought a lot of emotion to the film that it needed. Orlando Bloom was kind of a downer for me, cause his performance isn’t that good, and his character is even worse. I don’t know what he was trying to do here, but being compelling surely wasn’t one of them. Diane Kruger is alright in this film as well as Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Peter O’Toole, and the always reliable Brian Cox.
Consensus: It’s beautiful to look at, and the action is exciting, but the film’s bad script, keeps Troy away from the emotional resonance that could have actually helped the film be more than just a standard action movie.
A weird title, for a weird movie.
In the year 2035, convict James Cole (Bruce Willis) volunteers reluctantly to be sent back in time by scientists to discover the origin of a deadly virus that wiped out nearly all of the earth’s population decades earlier. But when Cole is sent mistakenly to 1990 instead of 1996, he’s arrested and locked up in a mental hospital, where he meets a psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe) and the son (Brad Pitt) of a famous virus expert (Christopher Plummer).
The film is directed by Terry Gilliam who is basically known for making these kooky, mind-bending sci-fi thrillers. It may be a bit different from his others, but features the same craziness you would expect.
There are many good elements to this film. First of all the tone of this movie is very dark and cold. Almost everything that has to do with this world is just terrible, and uninterruptedly horrific. You get a real sense of how the world feels at this time before this huge apocalypse, but even the good things that happen, feel dark themselves. The poignant moments that happen by the end of the film are actually touching, and a lot more effective than you would imagine from this depressing future.
As usual with all Gilliam films, the film looks really cool. The set pieces of his future is different and a lot more zanier. Also, the setting of low-life Philadelphia(my hometown thank you very much) is gritty and unpleasant just like you would imagine the world to be on its last couple of days alive.
The problem I had with this film was that I don’t think Gilliam got all of his ideas out. The themes of being your own enemy, and lost inside a world of madness, didn’t come out too well, mostly because all this seemed knocked down by its jumbled plot and crazy set pieces. Many times throughout this film I was confused of what was actually going on and why this happened for a reason. Also my main question is if scientists have found time travel why can’t they find a cure on their own? It’s just a thought, take it or leave it.
Willis is very good in this role but is a lot more toned down then you would expect him to be in such a role, and although its not his best, it is still a very good one. But the real star here is Pitt who takes this mentally crazy guy, and brings him into the film unexpectedly with plenty of humor within his character. He’s funny, crazy, and overall very realistic in his portrayal of total nut-jobs. Also, Stowe and Willis do have a lot of good chemistry in their scenes and all feels real.
Consensus: 12 Monkeys’ plot is jumbled around with many themes getting over-ridden, but features a dark, but also effective look at the future, with wonderful set pieces, and great performances from its cast.
How exciting is fly-fishing after all?
Two fly-fishing brothers, straitlaced scholar Norman (Craig Sheffer) and trouble-finding gambler Paul (Brad Pitt), struggle to mollify their Presbyterian preacher father’s (Tom Skerritt) lofty moral — and fishing — standards. Director Robert Redford’s nostalgic meditation about the fierce bonds that unite and divide families is set in Montana in the early 1900s.
A River Runs Through It is one of those great books that is just so hard to make a film of. One reason because how can you make a film about how fly-fishing is the moral theme for this family over the decades.
But mostly for the effort I have to give the props to Redford as director, because mostly he makes this film have a lot of heart in places that you wouldn’t expect. He captures the heart and nature of the relationship that these two brothers have from childhood up to their adult years and it truly is something to see. The way he shoots the film is really beautiful and keeps you astonished by the images in this film.
The major problem I had with this film is that it was extremley slow and uninteresting at times. With a couple of exceptions, the film never really held my attention for a long period of time mostly cause nothing much really happens except for them talking and fly-fishing which after the 1 hour mark kind of gets annoying.
I liked the screenplay because it was written very poeticaly, but to say the least i kind of knew the whole time where it was going. I think by the end of the film it started to dive into areas that were abandoning its earlier themes, which were mostly all about being a parent and raising a nice family.
The one better thing about this film is its performances from its two young leads. Sheffer and Pitt both seem like brothers that have grown old together and in every scene capture an essence of growing up and struggling with adulthood. Mostly, Pitt makes his charcater a lot more likable with his signature energy and makes his character the most watched.
Consensus: A River Runs Thrugh It is written and shot inteligently by Redford, but doesn’t have enough going on to fully keep your interest, but still a nice film.
After watching this I needed to watch every episode of The Teletubies.
When an American couple (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) vacationing in Morocco fall victim to a random act of violence, a series of events unfolds across four countries that demonstrates both the necessity and impossibility of human communication. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu artfully weaves together three seemingly disparate stories in this Oscar nominee for Best Picture and Golden Globe winner for Best Drama.
Now right away I should let you know, if you want to watch this film be ready. The next two hours and twenty-two minutes of your life will be totally depressed, as I felt after watching this film.
The film is four stories that are all weaved together in one or another, and each feature a huge disaster among the characters. To say one story is better or more interesting than the other is simple unfair. Each story in their own features a strong enough effect on your soul and will make you think about the world we live in.
This is not an easy film to watch as each story is told through different languages so we get a sense of realism. Probably what I liked most about this film is that there are no bad guys and good guys, these people are normal everyday human beings such as you and myself. They are not judged on their morality as much as on fate and circumstance. This element of fate and circumstance really impacted me, as knowing one thing devastating thing can happen now matter how good or bad you are in life.
The cinematography is just so beautiful. Some of the images in this film are just so mesmerizing, that I couldn’t stop just to wonder how such beautiful images got put into this film. There are a couple scenes where this shows, but there is one where the Japanese girl is in a club and you get this total feeling that you are in it with all the strobe lights, and the atmosphere its just so great looking.
The only problem I had with this film was not so much of a problem with the film but more of with me. The film was just so damn depressing!! I mean there was little or no humor involved whatsoever, and almost in every story everything bad that could happen, just happened and it just became so bad for me.
None of these stories would be as powerful as they were without its great acting from the cast. Brad Pitt does a great job here and plays one of his earlier stronger roles, along with Cate Blanchett who is his servery injured wife. But the best out of the performances was the Japanese girl played by Rinko Kikuchi who makes this film even more tragic as a young girl who just wants to have sex to get rid of her own pain and anguish, and she plays it so very well.
Consensus: Babel is a very depressing film, but is has a wonderful message, with great writing and directing, along with realistic writing, and a powerful film even when the credits are done rolling.
Finally, I get to see these two work together!!
After seeing British soldiers gun down his father as a child, Frankie McGuire (Brad Pitt) joins the Irish Republican Army, determined to avenge his father’s death, and sails to America to buy weapons from an underground arms dealer. Going by the alias of Rory Devaney, Frankie moves into the home of cop Tom O’Meara (Harrison Ford), who, when he learns of Rory’s agenda, must choose between his sympathy for a troubled man and his desire for justice.
The film is directed by Alan J. Pakula, and with his other films like The Pelican Brief and Presumed Innocent, you can pretty much tell he loves creating these type of political-violent thrillers. With this one though, I don’t think it was one of his strongest.
The beginning shows how Pitts father is gunned down in front of him. But what is never explained is why he was gunned down in the first place. So instead of further elaborating on this, the film takes a flash-forward to Pitt as an adult. This bothered me cause I never really understood why this happened at all.
But how could you make a movie about the violence in Northern Ireland, and never ever even bring up the words Catholic and Protestant, or even for that matter British? Honestly, if you are going to have a film about this subject then there must be some at least reasoning of what religion is which and why they are fighting.
The one thing that saves this film is its performances from its leaders. Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt, both play two superb characters that at first you don’t really know or care about yet. But, by the end you start to really be able to relate to these characters and you start to like them as it goes along. Pitt, if you can get past his really funny Irish accent, actually has a scene or two where shows his abilities as an actor early in his career. They both have good chemistry from start to finish and that is what makes me like this film a lot more than the other ones.
The ending for this film is what is really bad though. I felt like with this ending they wrote it over 4,000 times, and just ended with this final play because they had nothing else better.
Consensus: The Devil’s Own has powerful performances from Pitt and Ford, but feels a lot more jumbled together, and isn’t too clear about certain parts of the story, if just leaving some out.