Honestly, after seeing Training Day, I will never be able to trust a cop.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as two Los Angeles police officers as they patrol the city’s meanest streets of south central Los Angeles. One day, however, they stumble upon a discover that makes them two-wanted men, that puts both of their careers and lives at stake.
Writer/director David Ayer has taken his stabs at the police-force with his past two efforts (Harsh Times, Street Kings) but now, seems like he’s making up for all of that with a flick that could almost come off as a police-recruitment video in a way. Sounds crazy, especially since cops aren’t as handsome as the two leading-men here, but if one dude who’s thinking about what to do for his life, stumbles upon this, the police-force will be able to say they have another in uniform.
But as preachy and heavy-handed as I make that sound, that is not something Ayer is all about with this flick. In fact, as hard as it may try to win points over with the police-crowd out there, the film is still more about the characters, rather than exactly about what they do. This is the study of two guys, who love each other, love their work, and most importantly, love doing what they’re sent out there to do, and that’s to save people’s lives whenever they get a call. This may sound hokey and uninteresting but Ayers actually brings a lot of depth to the story, that at times, may surprise you by how far it goes with itself. You feel for these characters and their surroundings and every time they get a call about something bad going down on the radio, you automatically get worried and you fear for these guys because you have become so attached to them over the whole course of the movie.
Building up an emotional-level for these characters is something that Ayer does very well, but when he’s building that up, he’s also building up a great deal of suspense that caught me by surprise. Granted, people going into this film will probably be a bit disappointed by how there isn’t as much action as the trailers may suggest, but with a story like this, it doesn’t really matter because everything else that’s going on is so strong. However, when they do focus on the action of the movie, it’s exciting, thrilling, and very unpredictable as you have no clue what’s going to happen to these guys or when they’re going bite the bullet. This is definitely what kept me on-the-edge-of-my-seat and had me into this story when all of this other crap would seem to almost take me out of it.
The crap that I’m talking about, is when it seems like Ayer feels the need to constantly weave-in and out of the “found-footage” aspect of this movie. I will say one thing about this movie going in, I was not looking really forward to it because of this aspect and I’m glad that it wasn’t like this the whole time but seriously: either do it the whole time, or don’t do it at all! Even when they do abandon this format, the camera is constantly shaking and breaking all-over-the-place and it made me feel like I was still watching a found-footage movie, except with the camera actually being stuck in a blender. This bothered the hell out of me and I wish Ayer just stuck it straight to the original format of filming a movie, because he had strong enough material to make it work in the first-place.
Then, of course, there’s the typical cop-movie conventions that always seem to plague movies like this. Of course, we got the burnt-out cop, the rookie cop, and the usual crooks that seem like they come right out of another movie. That statement, right there is not a good thing because even though those two other conventions are here, at least they seem grounded in-reality, as opposed to these cartoonish bad-guys that had me laughing my ass off every time they showed-up. First of all, I thought it was dumb how they actually had them film their own murders and crimes, which seemed to come out of nowhere and in this film for no other reason than to just go along with the format they already established in the first-frames. Then, of course, they seem to come out of nowhere in certain scenes where they seem so pissed off about these two cops going from house-to-house and finding out about all of these murders and drugs. It seemed really random for these two cops to eventually get tracked-down by this gang considering there are large-portions where these gangs aren’t even shown, let alone discussed. Seriously, does every gang-member say “fuck” every 2 seconds in their sentences? Especially those Latino ones?
Despite these bitty problems, the real reason why this film works so damn well is because of the work given by it’s two leads: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. These guys, from start-to-finish, display a pitch-perfect chemistry that is probably one of the best I have seen in quite some time. Granted, not many buddy-cop movies actually have their whole story revolve around the two cops, and actually show them inter-acting with one another on a daily-basis, but this film shows that and accomplishes at showing us how close these guys are. It’s not just the film that does this, though, Jake and Michael both do perfect jobs just messing around with each other, teaching each other life lessons, and even working really hard together on some life-or-death situations. Also, it needs to be added that these guys don’t really have a bad-bone in their body either, but also have a lot of problems in their lives to where you believe them not just as movie cops, but as real cops in general. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here but you really do believe in these guys, and it makes every conversation they have together is as interesting and entertaining as the one that came before it. I would be terribly surprised if I found out that these guys weren’t best buddies in real-life because there’s just something between these two that really does seem like it went on, and off-screen for them. Please, no Brokeback Mountain jokes there, either.
Consensus: Even though End of Watch suffers when it feels the need to stay within the conventions of your usual cop-drama, it still benefits from the amazing chemistry between the two leads, that make these characters more interesting, more entertaining to watch, and two people that we want to see live on at the end of the story.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you love this damn film.
The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.
Let me just say this, if you have not seen this film, stop reading and get out there to your local video store/Redbox/Netflix account/illegal movie download website and check this ditty out. Honestly, everybody loves it. Of course when people say that about anything, it usually means that it’s just their opinions and that about 2 people they know agree with them so they feel like hot shit but that’s not the case here at all. You could ask anyone their thoughts on this and I’ll bet they’ll all tell you the same thing: perfection.
The craziest thing about this flick is how this was writer/director Frank Darabont‘s first movie he ever made. That’s right people…..FIRST MOVIE HE EVER MADE! Darabont really deserves all the credit for this story and for this flick because he found a way to match all of Stephen King’s writing in such a perfect way that it made every line of dialogue, feel like a piece of art itself. When the film wants to be funny, it’s funny; when the film wants to be emotional, it’s emotional without ever being hokey; and whenever the film wants to find its own little sly ways of getting us more and more involved with this story, it does and never stops the whole time. All of the dialogue, if placed in a lesser hand, could have been written off as corny but Darabont and King work wonders together, and it’s no surprise that Darabont went after another King adaptation about 5 years later with The Green Mile. Oh yeah, and he’s the guy who also adapted The Walking Dead so that definitely earns some brownie points in my book.
I think what really makes me truly love this film the way that I do is that I have seen it about 5 times and not once does it ever get old. That’s the true sign of a good movie. Since you know everything that goes down in the end, you get the chance to look at everything once again and see all of the little hints and clues that this film throws at you, without you ever really knowing in the first place. It’s really cool how Darabont was able to throw these little things in there to have it all make sense in the end but still allows you to get something new out of the movie each and every time you watch it. The film is all about the human spirit and how we can all be free no matter where it is that we are at in our lives. These prisoners feel trapped but it’s all about how they can all break free from these walls without ever having to take a step over them. It’s a message that we have all seen done and talked about before, but for some reason, this film does it the best and really makes you want to just get out there and live like a free person anywhere you go.
At the center of this whole film though is the performances of everybody involved, especially those ones of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. These guys were already big names before this film came out but I think it’s definitely the best performances of their careers by far, and if you have ever seen any of their other work you know that this is a very bold statement to make in the first place. Robbins is very mysterious and strange as Andy, but he’s also a very likable character that makes it easy to see why all of these guys take such a liking to him in the first place. We also see Andy as a free soul that wants to do anything in his power to do right for everyone around him and gets even better and better once you start to see just how smarter he is than he lets on. It’s such a shame that he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar here because he really brings a whole lot to Andy. Morgan Freeman is also the perfect choice as Red. Red is our narrator for the whole movie and shows us a look at everything that’s going on with Andy from the outside-in and it just works because you feel a huge deal of warmth and comfort from this character that it really shows as one of Freeman’s signatures when it comes to him playing in any role. I heard that Darabont chose Freeman over such legends like Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford, and to be honest, I couldn’t see any of them playing the part as perfectly as Freeman does here.
What made this film work the way it does on me is the friendship these two create together. Red sees something in Andy that he never expected in the first place and from then on, we see two people who are both struggling for freedom in a place where all hope is lost, gain some sort of hope together. What I’m describing right now may sound a bit too much like a mixture between Brokeback Mountain and Cool Hand Luke, but it’s honestly the best aspect of this whole movie because you see this friendship blossom over time and you see how they each look out for one another in every single situation they have. By the end, everything they have together starts to come in full circle and that’s where I actually started to tear up a bit because this is where the film’s message comes around and it’s also where you notice that these two guys were meant to best buds and live free after all.
Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is just one of those perfect movies that seems to have it all: great writing, great direction, amazing performances, a message that is meant to inspire anybody who watches this, and so much more to it. Basically if you are reading the end of this review and have still not checked this one out, then get off your butts and do so. I promise you will not be let-down in the least bit.
10/10=Love and Cherish Forever!!
Don’t be racist, especially in L.A.
A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are also lovers. A black television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple… They all live in Los Angeles. And in the next 36 hours, they will all collide…
So the one thing about this movie that always seems to get people crazy (myself included) is that this was the Best Picture winner over the near-masterpiece that is ‘Brokeback Mountain’, and while I can’t say that I think otherwise now, I can still say that i think that this one doesn’t deserve all the bashing it seems to get.
To start off with this flick, I have to say that the general idea of having all of these stories center around racism is pretty nifty and it works mainly because of Paul Haggis‘ script. Haggis did a great job at showing us all of these different perspectives on other peoples’ race and gives us plenty of stories where we realize just how hard it is to be anything in this world, especially when race comes into the picture. I think I’ve mentioned race about 3 times already in this review but it’s as if it was just another character in this movie, but it just didn’t speak. It’s everywhere these characters look, around everything they do, and basically impacts all of their everyday activities and it’s only gotten worse and worse as the years have gone by. It’s a harsh reality but it’s a very true reality and I have to give it to Haggis for at least going out there and showing all of this because it’s something everybody needs to hear and understand. There’s plenty of other themes and messages here about life, people, and the world we live in, not just racism, but it’s definitely one of the themes that I could understand and connect with the most.
The problem that Haggis ran into with this script was that it sometimes dives into soap opera-ish and that’s where it sort of began to lose me. Some moments in this film rang true for me, while others just felt too cinematically cheesy that they could only happen in a movie, which is what movies are all about but this film does try its hardest to seem like its real. Take for instance, the scene with Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate, without giving too much away I just want to say that they both are driving in a car and within 1 minute of the ride, they are already fighting and arguing about something, which is trying to show how a black person and white person can’t really get along. Then it ends in a very bizarre and shocking way but it came off more as unbelievable to me because it seemed like Haggis was trying too hard to try and show us how messed up relations between two different races are. Nice try Paul, but life doesn’t always play out like that.
However, for every “made for movies” scene, there was an equally compelling and powerful scene waiting to just come right up and snatch us. Haggis has a couple of scenes as director where he unleashes these very heavy scenes full of his score and they work because as over-powering as it may be, it still keeps your eyes glued on the screen as you can feel the emotion pouring out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the fact is that when it works here, it works superbly.
Where this film really works is the ensemble cast that Haggis was able to assemble here and all do perfect jobs with their sometimes unlikable characters. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, and Matt Dillon are all given characters that you can’t really like just because they don’t do the right thing about 95% of the whole flick, but yet they are very compelling, especially Dillon. Matt Dillon is perfect here as the racist cop, which is sort of a cliche in and of itself but he somehow transcends above that formula and makes this a character that it seems like only he could play. He’s unlikable, pompous, and racist but by the end we start to see the human side of him and it actually feels very real and that’s where I think his performance hit its highest note. Once we start to realize that he’s actually a good actor too, is also when his performance got better. Still don’t know why this guy hasn’t been able to get more like this recently. Then again, there was ‘Takers’ but I think that only counts as a good movie for me.
Consensus: Crash is a very hard flick to talk about because it’s well-written, features some great points about the world we live in, especially when it comes to race, and is acted greatly by everybody involved, but way too many scenes also feel like they were just made for a movie experience and the more the film seemed to ring false, the more it seemed to lose points for me. Good film? Yes. Good enough to win Best Picture over Ang Lee’s near-masterpiece? Nope, sorry.
He’s angry….and boring.
Researcher Dr. Bruce Banner’s (Eric Bana) failed experiments cause him to mutate into a powerful and savage green-skinned hulk when he loses control of his emotions. And the only person who seems to stand by him is his girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), proving that love is indeed blind. Nick Nolte co-stars as Banner’s father.
Director Ang Lee is a very strange director for this type of material. I mean this is the same dude that made Sense & Sensibility, The Ice Storm, and Brokeback Mountain so adding this to his list is strange but also disappointing.
I have to say that that Lee does do something new with the superhero film here and that is bring a lot more emotional depth to a film that would just seem like constant smashing everywhere. The film focuses a lot more on the actual characters, story, and happenings which is something new and actually cool for a superhero film because we never see that really and Lee somehow makes it interesting.
The problem with Lee’s ambition is that at a staggering time-limit of 138 minutes, a lot of this does feel kind of boring. Not much really does happen except for a lot of these people just talking about what’s going on and a little bit about the mysteries of their lives. The action does come every once in a blue moon but not enough for a film that is all about a big green dude who goes around and smashes things.
The script is also kind of lame because instead of actually trying to create any sense of real tension with this story, it just focuses on Banner and his father’s relationship, or how he still can’t remember what happened to his parents when he was young. The humor is gone within the first 10 minutes so therefore were stuck with just a bunch of serious people, doing their very own serious face and overall just being dull.
However, despite the problems with the script and story the constant visual fest of this film is what had me liking it more. Lee makes this film look like a comic book on the screen with the use of light colors, split-screen to portray about 3 different things happening at once, and The Hulk itself. I loved how the green just stood out amongst the area around him and when the action actually does happen it looks really cool and is actually exciting because even though Lee may not be able to keep this film exciting through its over two hour time limit, the action still provides some fun here.
The acting itself was pretty good and brought me into the film more as well. Eric Bana as Bruce Banner is good and plays that torn, all messed up dude that doesn’t know exactly who are where he came from very well even when he starts to get angry. Jennifer Connelly is practically doing the same exact “stand by your crazy scientist lover” performance that she won an Oscar for in A Beautiful Mind but that’s not so bad; Sam Elliot is a total dick with his snarling and teeth grinning performance that looks like he came right out of the comic book itself; Josh Lucas is a dick as well here as Glenn Talbot, but isn’t in this film as much; and Nick Nolte plays Banner’s father, David (Get it, David Banner) and looks like he just came right out of that disastrous mug-shot but is still pretty good with that craziness he always uses so well.
Consensus: Director Ang Lee strives for ambition here with some dramatic depth to the story, good performances from the cast, and a beautiful, comic-book look to the film, but overall there’s too much talking and most of it just feels plain boring with not enough cool action sequences which makes me question how didn’t Lee know why Lee tried to aim for a Greek tragedy?
I don’t care how much hate I get from this, but I did like “the gay cowboy movie”.
While working together near Wyoming’s Brokeback Mountain in 1963, sheepherders Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) begin an increasingly passionate affair. But keeping their relationship a secret from their wives (Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams) proves agonizing and all-consuming.
This film back in the day caused a huge uproar for showing these two A-list male actors, in a very Hollywood-like movie, and shows them being in gay love. Now, I see what all the fuss is about, and it’s literally about nothing.
The best thing here is the direction of this film. Ang Lee, who is also gay, does so well here of keeping this film sweet, and to the point. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat this with all your typical romantic drama cliches, instead focuses on the relationship these two have with each other, as well as them own selves. I have to applaud this film for showing gay love, in such a beautiful and meaningful way to the point of where I almost forgot I was watching two guys in love on screen. We see these guys as two humans and rather than two dudes. They all have the same emotions as you and me, feel the same way, and talk the same way, they just may prefer something different sexually.
You really do become involved with this story as you feel the same emotions that these guys are going through as your watching this film. There are certain scenes in this film that you feel like Lee is going to pull and you really do want him too, and he does oh so well. You feel the heartbreak that is within these characters, because they can’t be happy, and have what they want even though their in love. That right there is just terribly heartbreaking, the rest of the film is almost even more painful.
I still have no idea why this cause such a huge roar among the media. I mean, well, I know why cause it’s basically two dudes in love, but what’s the difference really? The film isn’t at all exploiting gay love, it’s showing love for what it is, and that love here, just so happens to be between two dudes. God forbid, that not every romantic film of the year, have Jack and Rose. It just pisses me off that beautiful films like this already get criticized because of it’s subject material, rather than the art itself.
When I saw The Dark Knight, I knew I missed Heath Ledger. But now, I REALLY REALLY miss him. He is breath-taking in this film, bringing out all the anger, confusion, and most of all, passion within his character. He plays that soft, quiet type so well here, that when he does get a little rowdy you don’t forget about it, and it sticks in your mind. Perfect performance here, wish he was still around to give more like these. Jake Gyllenhaal is also amazing playing Jack Twist, who is also passionate, but also wears his heart on his sleeves. He gives a heart-felt performance too and there are plenty of scenes that really do ask for his acting chops, and he sure does deliver. This film did really bank on the idea of their chemistry, cause without that, would this even work? The chemistry is basically perfect and feels like real life. I could imagine how hard it was for these two very mainly actors, have to kiss and be intimate with one another, and make it all feel real. It all feels real, and almost every scene they have together you just stop, and sit there in amazement. Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams both do well in their roles equally, but their more of second-nature to this film, and aren’t given so much, even though they are great.
Must I also not forget about that ending. Talk about a tear-jerker.
Consensus: It may get bad looks cause it portrays two dudes in love, but Brokeback Mountain is the farthest thing from outlandish. It features an amazing direction from Lee, perfect performances, and tells a beautiful tale of love, heart-break, confusion, and overall, life.
I’m getting annoyed of these sappy romantic period pieces.
Jane Austen’s classic tale of 19th-century etiquette and ethics chronicles the troubles and triumphs of the marriage-minded Dashwood sisters — sensible oldest sibling Elinor (Emma Thompson) and her romantic younger sister, Marianne (Kate Winslet). While Marianne deftly charms two suitors (Alan Rickman and Greg Wise), Elinor must weather a circuitous courtship with an aspiring clergyman (Hugh Grant) of considerable reserve.
The film is directed by Ang Lee, who has won of the craziest resumes ever. He goes from this, to The Hulk, to Brokeback Mountain, then to Taking Woodstock. I have to praise his direction here cause he isn’t familiar with this material, and tries his hardest to make it entertaining and fun to watch. However, he fails at doing so.
The one problem with this film is that it tries its hardest to be emotional, when its just boring. I will admit there are some funny moments in the film, but by the end of the film their all all thrown away. It got sappy, then sappier, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any sappier, well it does so, by getting even more sappier.
I think the main reason I didn’t like this film cause period pieces like this, unless interesting, just aren’t my cup of tea. I mean I enjoyed looking at the costumes and settings and thought that was well-done, but it just all seemed one emotion for me, sad. There are happy moments but they just feel put on to bring out some joy when in reality there is none cause I’m still watching this movie. I can see why so many others like it, but I just can’t put myself on that list.
The acting here is good, but most of the time I was brought down by the script so I payed less and less attention to the acting. Emma Thompson is as good as she is beautiful in this film, showing once again, she can play the strong female character like no other. But the best in this film has to be Kate Winslet, who shows so much promise with her performance, that you can see why she was nominated for an Oscar 4 times before actually winning the big one.
Consensus: Though it looks good, with some credible acting, Sense and Sensibility is not a very entertaining film, mostly due to its bleak screenplay, as well as its uninteresting twists it tries to put on its viewers.
How can William Hurt be gay, its not true!!!
Jailed for immoral behavior, flamboyant homosexual Luis Molina (William Hurt) passes the time by detailing scenes of his favorite romantic movie to fellow inmate Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia), a hard-edged political activist. Slowly, the two forge a bond based on mutual understanding and respect.
Kiss Of The Spider combines about three elements: the odd couple, political activist, and feminine homosexual. Sounds like a film that really can go wrong, but how it doesn’t it whats best to see.
The one thing about this film that makes it a lot more culturally significant is that Brokeback Mountain always gets the credit for breaking ground with gay people, when really people have forgotten totally about this film.
The one great thing about Kiss Of The Spider Woman is that it really doesn’t dive into the prison aspect of the film. Yeah their locked up and we all know that but it doesn’t go over almost every time that these guys are in jail and showing how horrible it can be.
The film focuses more on the relationship between these two prisoners. They are both prisoners of society in way or another and you see this through their own actions, and minds. We understand what these characters have done before, and how they got to jail which brings up a lot about the government and a society where we can’t be free enough.
There was one problem that I really did have with this film, and its that it felt a bit too much like a play. All the scenes with Hurt cavorting around, dreaming about this movie he loved, came as very show booty for me, and acted more as a playwright.
William Hurt did receive an Oscar for this, and now I can see why. He really does create this character that at a time in America, not many people understood Gay people for what they were. But Hurt gives us this heart felt and real look at a homosexual with such huge feelings of grief and desire, and it really is a splendid performance. Raul Julia does even better as well, playing the straight-forward prisoner who never wants to let his gaurd down, but gradually starts to let more and more of himself come out in this performance.
Consensus: Kiss Of The Spider Woman may seem too much like a play, but has great lead performances, a heart-felt message, and a good look at homosexuals in a world that wasn’t accepting it.