Who cares about family when you got a plate full of turkey right in-front of you?
Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) is a divorced, single-mom who just lost her job and now has to fly home for the traditional family Thanksgiving Dinner in Baltimore. Thing is, her parents (Charles Durning and Anne Bancroft) are a bit out-of-whack, her gay-brother (Robert Downey Jr.) likes to start a whole bunch of trouble, and her sister (Cynthia Stevenson) doesn’t like anything that anybody else does.
Ohhh, Thanksgiving. The family, the mashed potatoes, the turkey, the corn, the butter, the bread, and most of all, the fights. Yes, not matter how perfect your family may be, there are always fights to be had around this joyous time because let’s face it, any time you get a group of people together, to sit-around and eat dinner, there’s going to be some words thrown around and about and that’s just the way it works. Me, on the other hand, I eat, talk, watch football, and that’s it. If my family fights, then so be it because I know I’m not getting myself involved and I’m sure as hell not missing out on some turkey, that’s for damn sure. To be honest though, I think eating turkey was something that was more interesting to think about than watching this movie.
Jodie Foster went behind the camera for the 2nd time with this flick and you can sort of tell that she’s connecting with this topic through her own experiences with her, and her family, especially around Thanksgiving. Now maybe since Foster was such a big-name at such an early-age, maybe she didn’t really have nice, little, suburban-cooked meals of turkey with her ordinary-family of regular-day people, but you can definitely tell that she enjoys that aspect behind Thanksgiving because it shows a lot in this film, and there’s just a certain easy-going feel to it that makes it so pleasant of a watch. All holiday movies are cheery and happy-go-lucky, and this one is no different but it’s something about the family-dynamic that this movie nails so well that got me all cheerful.
All of the interactions these characters shared with one another, all felt real for about the first hour or so. I liked how everybody in this family, knew each other, had their own ways of communicating with one another, and didn’t hold-back when it came to expressing their real-feelings about something, whether it be each other or the world around them. That’s how a real family is and I liked watching everybody just talk and be themselves around one another, even if themselves was just a selfish, condescending piece-of-crap that you wouldn’t want to be around, let alone spend all of Thanksgiving Dinner with. I don’t know how many actual, normal Thanksgiving Dinners Foster has had in her life, but I can definitely tell that she enjoys the look and feel of a believable family-dynamic and how everybody gets that all families are wacky, dysfunctional, and always, I do repeat, always fight about something stupid or meaningful.
However, this whole realistic family-dynamic doesn’t go on forever. After the first hour of this movie, it seemed like Foster sort of lost what she was going for originally, and just decided to make this one, long soapy melodrama and sort of abandon all of the realistic, family-stuff that was going on before. I liked when the family was arguing and how they couldn’t decide on what to eat or not, but I didn’t give a single-crap about how the father remembers the good old days and how he could wish to go back in-time and do them all over again. I’m sorry, but it didn’t interest me and it seemed like Foster lost herself because instead of focusing on the whole family and what they’re all about, she focuses more on Claudia as time goes on and as good as interesting as she may be at-times, she’s never fully-developed.
You have to give Holly Hunter a lot of credit for really nailing her roles as Claudia. Claudia is a bit of nut-job that obviously has problems with her professional and personal life, and even though that is touched-on within the first 20 minutes or so, it never feels like we really care all that much to begin with. Then, the film starts to really focus on her and what’s going on with her life, and it makes no sense as to where all of this crap is coming from. I get it, she’s a bit sad, and she misses her daughter, but what does that have to do with her and her personality. I didn’t get what Foster was touching on with her and even though Hunter is very-good here, I still wish that her character was more fully-developed and wasn’t used so randomly.
Everybody else in the cast is pretty good, too, and to be honest, a lot more interesting than Claudia in-ways. Robert Downey Jr. seems like he’s having a ball as Claudia’s trouble-making brother, Tommy, and just uses that “talking-really-fast” shtick oh so well here as he does everywhere else. Him and Hunter have a nice chemistry that really does feel like they are brother and sister, and that they have always loved each other through thick-and-thin and just watching them together was great to see, especially since Downey was probably all coked-up out-of-his-mind while he was doing this. Anne Bancroft plays the mother, Adele, and is very, very good as we all know her as being and just nails the whole cooky, paranoid mother-role very-well. Hell, in a way, it even reminds me of what my mom may be in the near-future but I’m not banking on it. A super young-looking Dylan McDermott shows up here as Leo Fish, a friend of Tommy’s, and he’s okay but he seems way too comfortable with this family, way too quick. Literally, as soon as the guy stops in, he starts making wise-cracks to Claudia about how much of a hell the house has got to be and it’s obvious that he wants to get into her parents, because why else would he randomly be talking to her like that, but it didn’t seem believable. Instead, it just came off as a bit creepy and if he was a guy that one of my relatives brought over for dinner, I’d probably want him the hell out. Then again, it’s Dylan McDermott and I’d be pretty honored if the guy showed-up in my house in the first-place so never mind that noise that I’m spraying.
Consensus: Home for the Holidays has the look and feel of a cheery, good-spirited holiday movie, but also feels like it’s trying to go for a bit more and instead, bites off a little bit more than it can chew.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Gobble Gobble!
Sorry guys, no vampires this time around.
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as the sixteenth President of the United States of America, also known as Abraham Lincoln, and paints a portrait of him during the tumultuous final months of his life, during which he fights to abolish slavery by putting forth an amendment in the House of Representatives.
For over a decade now, we have all been waiting for Steven Spielberg to deliver on his promise of an actual, Abraham Lincoln biopic and for awhile there, it was going to happen. Actually, at one-point, Liam Neeson was supposed to star as Honest Abe but Neeson himself even declared he was “too old” for the role, even though Daniel Day is five years younger than him, but hey, if Oskar Schindler says no, Oskar Schindler means no. Thankfully though, after all of this time, Spielberg delivers on his promise and gives us a movie that isn’t quite the epic biopic we were all expecting out there. Hell, it’s the farthest thing from actually.
Instead of going for the full-scale, sweeping epic idea that he has gone with on such pictures like War Horse, Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler’s List, Spielberg takes a step-back and decides to play it down a little bit and make it a more intimate, focused piece of work that doesn’t focus on Lincoln’s whole life, but the last couple months of his life where he had to put up with all of these problems, that it’s a real wonder how the guy didn’t just die of a heart-attack right then and there. In a way, a part of me wishes that Spielberg went all-out here and tackle Abe through his life, but seeing him in the latter years of his life does seem like a better fit for Spielberg to play it safe, and not get way too in over his head, like he has been known to get in recent-years. However, that’s not to say that Spielberg still doesn’t have what it takes to deliver some the top-notch directing moments we all know and love him for.
I think what really intrigued me the most about this flick was how it shows just how hard it was, and probably still is, to get a bill passed and all of the twists and turns that come along with that mission. Abe had to talk to a lot of people, had to plan out a lot of ideas in his head, had to win over a crap-load of people, and most of all, had to still keep it in his mind to do the right thing. It’s a very hard, especially in today’s day and age of politics, to not only do the right thing but also keep with that idea in your head and never mess-up on that. Abe never gets dirty with where he gets with his mission to abolish slavery, and it’s really fresh to see considering this is a guy that America still reveres to this day.
We get a great glimpse at a guy, we can only read about in bore-fest books and Spielberg, for the most part, delivers on that spectrum. The story is as simple as they come, yet, Spielberg never loses sight of what he really wants to show and what he really wants to convey and we get that perfectly. It’s a slow-burn of a movie, but Spielberg keeps it surprisingly entertaining with a couple of nice touches here and there where we feel like we are placed in the same exact setting that the movie’s portraying, and also feel like we’re on the edge-of-our-seat, wondering just how the hell this bill is going to get passed. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know that the bill gets passed and whatnot, but the film still kept me wishing and hoping that it would, considering there is so much anger and aggression against it, that’s a huge wonder how it didn’t continued to get denied until this very day.
However, I still can’t lie to you and tell you that I loved this movie, because I really didn’t. The problem I had with this movie was that it would go on for so long (it clocks in at 150 minutes, if that tells you anything already) with just talking, arguing, and political-jargon being used, that I actually felt myself dozing off a couple of times and wondering when they were going to get a move on with this story. Playing it subdued and intimate was a nice approach that Spielberg decided to use, but when your whole film is about a bunch of people just talking about a bill that we all know gets passed at the end of it all, well, it can be a bit repetitive, as well as, dare I say it, boring.
Another problem I had with this movie was that I wasn’t as emotionally-invested as I feel so many other people were with this movie. Ever since this movie came out, I’ve been seeing reviews from people that are just talking about how much they couldn’t handle their emotions during this film and just had to let out all of the tears. My question is, how the hell are all of these people crying at a movie that’s about a story we all know, a history-figure we all think we know, and features a screenplay, where everybody talks and hollers at each other in this sophisticated, political language that is rarely ever muttered in today’s day and age (thank god for that, too)? Seriously, I would get it if we all watched Lincoln from the start of his life, to the end of it but something just did not connect with me and have the water-works moving at the end. Instead, I felt like I knew the man more than I ever did before and I think that’s all I needed, really, a history lesson, not a life-changing experience.
However, I don’t blame these people for getting emotional, either, because when you have Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead, it’s hard not to tear-up. As always, Daniel Day is perfect in a lead role that shows him off to be one of the finest actors we have working today but it’s not the type of role you’d expect from the guy. With roles like Bill Cutting and Daniel Plainview being some of his most famous in recent time, it’s a refresher to see him go back to his old-ways and play soft, gentle, and kind fellow that means no harm to anyone around him, but just wants to do what he thinks is right for the country and what feels right in his heart. He’s obviously a nice guy that you can tell has some real charm to him that wins everybody over that he meets, as well as a knack for story-telling that are some of the funniest, if not thought-provoking pieces of tales that I have ever heard. How many times did Honest Abe break out of regular-conversation just to tell a story about a man and his farm? I don’t know and I don’t care. All I do know is that they were lovely stories to hear, mainly because it was Daniel Day who was delivering them in his sweet, gentle voice that doesn’t even seem recognizable in the least bit.
Daniel day lights up the screen every time he pops-up on it and delivers one of the finest performances of the year, and really does have you sympathize and feel something for a man we rarely know about how he was in life. We read about it in books, but it’s all up in the air as to what or who this guy really was in real-life, but I think Daniel Day’s portrayal is the most accurate depiction we can all go along with and agree on. If Daniel day doesn’t get a nomination this year, hell will freeze over, but then again, I think it’s a pretty sure thing that no matter what the movie the guy signs up to do, he’s going to get an Oscar-nomination regardless and you know what? I have no problem with that because this guy is an actor’s actor, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. That was a pretty obvious statement though, because everybody looks forward to what the guy does next, it’s all just a matter of how long will it take this time around.
Even though Daniel Day is perfect in this lead role, he almost gets the spotlight taken away from him from an actor that could also be considered “an actor’s actor”. Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens in a way that we all know and love Jones for playing his roles. He’s cranky, he’s old, he’s witty, and most of all, he’s a bastard that you do not want to go toe-to-toe with when it comes to an argument. As Stevens, Jones allows this fact to be even more truer than we already know it to be and really gives us a glimpse at a man that may even want this bill passed more than Lincoln himself, and there’s an amazing, final scene with him that shows us why. Jones is on-fire in this role and I really do think that he’s a sure-thing for an Oscar nomination this year and I do not disagree with that one-bit because the guy is always spectacular, he’s just been wasting too much of his time as Agent K to really allow us to see what is so spectacular about him in the first-place.
Playing Lincoln’s wife, Sally Fields probably gives one of her best performances I’ve seen from her in the longest time. Fields plays Mary Todd Lincoln the same exact way you’d expect her to play her, she’s weird, she’s paranoid, she’s always angry, but yet, she’s always supportive of what Abe does and to see that play out in this film is a thing of beauty, considering her and Daniel Day have great husband-wife chemistry between the two. As opposed to Jones and Lewis, I don’t think Fields is a sure-shot for an Oscar nomination this year, but hey, if she does end up getting one I will not be pissed in the least bit. The gal is great with all that she’s given and it’s finally time that somebody’s given her a role to chew down on.
This whole movie is filled with a supporting cast that will probably shock you by how many names it really does have and to be honest, there’s a bit of a problem with that. See, there are so many damn people in this movie that even though they are all so good with each and every one of their own, respective roles, it becomes a bit of a waste to see such good talent in roles that sometimes don’t show-up on-screen for any longer than 5 minutes. Having a huge, supporting cast is great if you want to make sure every character is well-done, and every performance is good but after awhile, it sort of starts to tick you off once you realize that half of these people can do some quality work in their own flicks, they just aren’t given the chance all that much. Still, it’s great to see such big names show up in a production together and show how much people still want to work with Spielberg.
Consensus: Lincoln may take some people by surprise to how it plays-out, but if you can handle a bunch of talking, then it will definitely keep you watching from beginning-to-end with a spectacular lead performance from Daniel Day, and a message about doing the right thing, no matter who gets in the way that is still relevant today, especially in the world of politics.
This guy can diffuse bombs. What can you do, Jason?
Everything that happened to Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), is pretty much all lost now and brought back onto to this new CIA agent, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). He just so happens to be on the run, and everybody at Treadstone is going wild all over again because of this. Typical.
Many people have been dreading this film ever since the day that Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass both said, “no”, to doing another Bourne flick, let alone, another sequel when they ended it off so well with The Bourne Ultimatum. And as much as I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to this like as much as everybody else on the planet, I still got to give it to this franchise and say that it still has some steam left, even if it’s without the constant “crack-cam”. You heard it here first, people.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (who worked on the early Bourne films) shows that he wasn’t really going for the same-old formula that somehow worked it’s magic, for three movies, but seem to be a little too tired for a fourth one. Instead, this guy gives us a pretty tense ride that may have you almost forget about Bourne, about half-way through (even though Gilroy brings him up about every 10 minutes, just by flashing his pictorial up on-screen). I will say that it does take it’s good-old time to get started up, but once the adrenaline starts picking-up, and the blood starts to flow, this film doesn’t seem to really want to stop, which I don’t think I ever wanted it to.
Since there is no “crack-cam” in this film, that means we can actually tell what’s going down in the action sequences, whether it be hand-to-hand brawls, knife-fights, guns-a-blasing battles, or the simple car-chase, you can actually see everything that’s going on and I have to say that’s a bit of a big-step up for this franchise, since it seemed like Greengrass used that a bit too much with the last entry. Did I miss some of the elements where we were practically on Damon’s tail as he was flying through ceilings and windows? Yes, but it wasn’t like I was in the corner sobbing over this, because I actually found myself to be having a lot of fun with what Gilroy did with this story and this action. Gilroy is a very talented film-maker and I would have never thought he’d be able to make such an exciting action-picture, let alone, a Bourne one.
But as fun and exciting as Gilroy made this film, there was still a lot of the conventions that we got from those Bourne films that came before this, and I thought since Gilroy seemed to be one-step ahead of the crowd that we wouldn’t get the same shit. Sadly, we did. Franka Potente-like damsel in distress? Check. Lots of undercover CIA dudes yelling at computer-screens? Check. Par-cor on buildings? Check. And my least favorite: top assassin out to kill target? Major check. I don’t know what it is about that last one convention that bothers me so much but it seems like it’s the one that they use in all of these flicks and think that it’s going to make us think differently about the fate of them or their target, but it never changes.
My next real beef with this film is how abruptly it ends, which bothered me more than anything else in this movie because I was having a real ball here. What I liked most about the last 30 minutes of this movie is how it just continued to build-up, and up, and up, until it finally just left me with one big-ass car chase through the streets of Manilla that is sure worth the price of admission alone. It also didn’t occur to me that this was actually, the last 30 minutes of the entire movie because once the story actually seems like it’s getting somewhere with itself, seems like it’s going to get better, and seems like Gilroy is really going to be pulling out all of the stops, that freakin’ song by Moby just kicks in and then we get the credits rolling. I honestly thought that this film would have gone on longer, and even though it’s the longest of the whole franchise with a time-limit of 135 minutes, it didn’t feel like that at all. In fact, it just whizzed right on by, which is not necessarily as much of a negative, as it is a positive, but I think about 20 more minutes would have made things a tad bit better for my taste. Then again, it’s just my taste and I’m a dick-head so don’t listen to me.
One element to this film that has people the most curious is how it will do without the presence of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. The answer to that is, pretty fine, especially when you have Jeremy Renner playing a bad-ass character, that’s a bit different from Bourne in more ways than I expected. Right from the first couple of scenes, we see that this Aaron Cross guy is actually a bit more content with his line of work that he does, unlike Bourne, and actually remembers his past, unlike Bourne, as well. But he also has a lot of personality where we see him act a bit more talkative and jokey towards other people he meets and encounters, and it gives you a sense that this is a real guy, that is just caught-up in all of the wrong shit but he has no one else to blame but himself. This role is perfect for Renner because he not only gets to show-off, once again, how much of a tough-ass guy he can be, but also show that he can make any generic action-hero, seem a bit more complex just by adding a likable personality onto him. Renner was a great choice for Cross, and I actually look forward to seeing what he can do with this character in the near-future, if they ever give him that chance, that is.
Rachel Weisz is also perfect for the role of the scientist that Cross comes around to sweep her away from danger, Dr. Marta Shearing. Weisz is such a lovable actress that it makes it a lot easier to buy this very generic character that seems to be a staple in these types of thrillers, but the difference here is that this girl actually seems like she has real-feelings and the feelings she may, or may not have for Cross come out perfectly in their chemistry that I would like to see worked on in the future installments. Then again, it all depends my people. Edward Norton is fine as the main dude that is orchestrating this whole hunt for Cross because he does what he can with a guy that seems so two-dimensional, but it’s almost like I expected him to just lash-out at everyone, every chance he got. Maybe it’s just that I think Norton deserves better roles, in better movies sometimes, but I think he could have been used a lot better here and should have gotten just more than one scene to show his true colors. Also, was it me or did anybody else feel terribly distracted when Norton and Stacy Keach were in the same scene? I kept on getting flash-backs to Vineyard just kicking the shit out of Cameron Alexander and I think that’s what Norton’s character here would have benefited from in all honesty. If only Hollywood allowed to polish more scripts.
Consensus: The Bourne Legacy features fine performances from this ensemble, plenty of action that will excite, and offers us a new franchise that will hopefully meet up with it’s old one that came before it, but it’s also very similar to that old one and that déjà vu feeling may be a bit too much for some viewers, as it sort of was for me.
How hard can it be just to tell this guy who he is?
In the new chapter of this espionage series, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) will hunt down his past in order to find a future. He must travel from Moscow, Paris, Madrid and London to Tangier and New York City as he continues his quest to find the real Jason Bourne – all the while trying to outmaneuver the scores of cops, federal officers and Interpol agents with him in their cross-hairs.
As you all have probably already read on here before, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy were two good action flicks, that did what they did well, and kept me entertained while it was going on. However, they weren’t really anything worth writing home about and I don’t know what it was about them, but they just fly away in comparison to this one. Oh wait, I do know why. This one’s freakin’ awesome!
Director Paul Greengrass brought a new type of style to Supremacy, but didn’t seem like he fully used it to his advantage. Here, that’s a totally different story as it seems this guy took about 5 sniffs of cocaine and washed it all down with 3 Red Bulls, just to get in the same intensity-mode here as Jason Bourne. The last two films have been action-packed and very tense, but this one ups the anty and gives us a nail-biter almost from start to finish. The pacing that Greengrass gives this film is one that never really slows up, one that never lingers, and it’s always one that keeps the adrenaline moving, even if the story itself is just focusing on two peeps just talking about CIA shit and life. It’s a real wonder why most other action films don’t try and use the same type of fast-pace as this one does here, because you really feel like you’re in the mind of Jason Bourne, as he’s running away from these people and as he is getting closer and closer to finding out who he really is. Just a total thrill-ride that never lets loose, which is something I always love with my action-thrillers.
As for Greengrass’s hand-held camera style, it works very well with the material by how frantic it makes all of the action scenes seem. Usually, whenever this type of style comes into an action film, it takes away from the action and instead of making people feel the craziness of the action, they just feel a headache coming on. However, Greengrass has this style down very well and uses it to his advantage not only to give this film a crazy look, but also give the story more and more layers of tension that feel worth it, especially since it seems like this story is coming down to the nitty-gritty of finding out what the hell is going on with this guy.
The problem with this non-stop hand-held camera shit is that the film seems to use it the whole time, even if it is just two people talking. I get that Greengrass is just trying to keep the tension up-and-up by having his camera move all-over-the-place, but when you have a scene of just two people staring at each other in silence, 9 times out of 10, you don’t really need the camera panning in and out of their faces as if we were watching a low-budget documentary. Surprised that I didn’t hate this style of film-making here, but I still found something else to complain about it also.
Another problem I seemed to have had with this flick was that the formula, is somewhat the same and even though that isn’t so bad and noticeable this time around, you can still see certain aspects that just seem lazy. One of these instances is with the hit man that are always assigned to kill Bourne. In each and every single one of these flicks, there’s always that one hit man, who is always the best at what he does it seems and makes it look like he can kill anybody he’s ever assigned to. We get that here with 2 characters this time and it just bothered me because it always seemed like that, in the past, whenever they use it, it just came off to end the same exact way it did before.
For the third time once again, Matt Damon absolutely positively kicks total ass as Jason Bourne. Bourne is one kick-ass character, we all know that, but this time we get to see him actually be a lot smarter with the situations he plans out and of course, we get to see plenty of times where it’s just him taking names and coming one step closer and closer to the truth. In the acting department here, Damon isn’t anything particularly special, but he doesn’t have to be when he kicks this much ass. Bourne is sort of like our 21st-century superhero that just so happens to be a real person, just so happens to have no superpowers, just so happens to be an amnesiac, and just so happens to be able to beat the ever lovin’ tar out of anyone who steps up to him. It’s a great character and it’s a shame that this new one coming out doesn’t feature him for a go-around, one last time. Then again, Damon can get bored of roles pretty quickly.
The others in the cast are solid, too, with a couple of new-comers here and there. Joan Allen returns as Pam Landy but isn’t as much of a sinister bitch this time around and actually shows that she has a heart that cares about Jason Bourne a bit. It’s surprising to see this character actually have a heart and have this much depth considering I was expecting her to just be that ruthless, CIA hoe that everybody wanted Jason Bourne to just bitch-slap the shit out of. David Strathairn is new to this film as Noah Vosen, another CIA member that basically takes the spot of Landy and comes off as a ruthless son of a bitch that doesn’t want to take any prisoners when it comes to finding Bourne. Also, Julia Stiles is also back here as well, and she’s pretty good and makes her character have a lot more emotional depth than you would expected from her in the past two flicks. Shame we don’t see Stiles too much nowadays because this gal can do very well when she has the right script. Be on the look-out for a nice, extended cameo from Albert Finney, as well. That guy is always bad-ass. Even when he happens to be dying in films like Big Fish.
Consensus: Being the best out of the trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum features plenty of memorable action scenes, a direction that just gives this film a whole new level of intense, and a story that continues to get better and better as more secrets begin to come out and we eventually figure out the truth behind Jason Bourne and who the hell he really is.
How mad at Daddy can you get to the point of where you want to kill him?
Reunited with his career criminal father (Christopher Walken) for the first time in years, tough teen Brad Whitewood Jr. (Sean Penn) thinks he’s found his ticket to an exciting life of crime, only to learn that his amoral father is more vicious than young Brad ever imagined.
The film started off as if it were adapted from one of those “young-adult” novels that shows alienated youth doing all of the things they think are cool and rebellious, which really had me feeling as if I was in store for something that would really annoy the hell out of me. Things don’t start to pick-up until Walken comes into play, then the film is all balls-to-the-walls.
Director James Foley does a great job with this real-life story that took place in my state of Pennsylvania (woot-woot!) and give a real beauty to it. There are some real magnificent shots here with the corn-rows looking so detailed that it actually made me hungry, the night shots feel like the moon is right over them, and almost lake, stream, or river reflects some sort of sun-light which gives this gorgeousness in how the film looks which preps us for all of the dirty crap that goes down in the last two acts of the film.
There is a lot of violence that goes down and a lot of disturbing things that happen, especially a rape scene that really had me cringing but none of it ever felt forced. I mean this is a true story so they have to get all of the facts right but all of the shootings, the killings, and non-stop murders felt realistic and needed to show the pure harshness that lied within this film’s subject matter. This was very controversial back in 1986, but the times have changed and there has been a lot worse we’ve seen but this film really packs on the violence and it works.
The film also has a nice central-story that develops as time goes on. The story is all about how this one kid, Brad, will stop at nothing to just be loved and gain the respect from his father, so by doing all of these criminal-like jobs he think that he will easily become daddy’s little boy. However, the dad never allows this and it shows the real sadness that Brad goes through not being able to fully live up to his father and even yet, still knows what’s right and what’s wrong. This story may seem a little bit sad and very depressing but Brad is a good character to begin with and I think as time goes on his story starts to become richer and richer.
The problem that lies within this story is where Foley is trying to take this story’s central theme. In the beginning of the flick, all of the kids are all about violence, guns, and crime but then they soon find out the hard way that it’s all fun and games until someone loses their head. The film itself basically strikes down against the use of guns/violence in society but then by the end when everything starts to get ultra violent and criminal, apparently the film is all about using guns for the murder of another person. I didn’t understand where this film was trying to go with it’s theme but to be brutally honest, it kind of lost me.
Another problem with this flick is the ending itself which seems to be totally and utterly ridiculous that somehow somewhere, it made me actually believe it could happen. *SPOILER ALERT* In the end of the flick, Brad and his girl Terry get shot up by these two gun-men and while Terry is basically dead right on impact,Terry is somehow still left alive, walking, and have enough energy to go in the shower and rinse off a bit. This seemed so idiotic to me that I could actually believe that something like this could actually happen, but when the film was over I was sort of left just knowing that it’s just a film, that is based on true events.
The real reason to see this film is the performances by these two power-houses. Sean Penn is great as Brad because he shows him the scary side to his character but also the morally-intact side that allows us to stand behind and root him on as he goes through all of these problems with his father and just life in general. Penn never lets loose of Brad once and plays all of the sadness and vulnerability so well that he seems like a real-life human being.
Christopher Walken is absolutely brilliant as Brad Sr., the cocky and evil criminal father. Walken takes over just about every scene he’s in, giving us this intimidating and restless figure of a person that you do not want to eff with. Walken is so good at playing likable that you don’t know whether or not to love this guy, or hate the very near-sight of him. Obviously Brad Sr.’s actions show how we should feel but its really Walken who shines through with this villain that just bleeds mean.
Consensus: The point of At Close Range may get lost in the very end of the film, but the story is engaging, the sights and shots look stunning, and the performances from Walken and Penn are what make worth your while, even though it can get extremely violent at times.
Not as amazing as everybody says it is, but still awesome.
In 1950s Los Angeles, three wildly different cops (Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey) form an uneasy alliance to ferret out deep-seated police corruption. But some people will do anything to land their faces in the pages of trashy Hollywood tabloids such as Hush-Hush magazine.
This is one of those films that almost every film geek has as one of their all-time favorites. I wouldn’t really put it in mine but I will say I had a great time.
The best thing about this film is it’s overall feel is just very cool and slick. The story is your typical detective story that you would see in any neo-noir film, but there are little twists and turns that really keep you involved with it. But this is also a great “whodunit” as well because you have to pay attention real well to the story as it moves along because all the little clues, double-crosses, and twists come when you least expect it too. The whole time you’re constantly wondering just what’s going to happen next, and the script really adds to that suspense level well.
Curtis Hanson does a great job here as director because he takes this pretty enjoyable script, and makes it even better on-screen. This is a great detective story, but also a very fun one because it just looks beautiful, with the 1950′s look and the action is great too. You have a lot of great shoot-outs here, to add to the mystery appeal of this film, and the pace is very taut and gives enough detail to the story so we’re not totally lost.
However, my only problem with this film is that something just didn’t fully glue me in like I was expecting it too. Something was just not there and I don’t know if it was the script that kind of left me hanging, or the direction that was just a little too taut for me, I don’t know what it was but I just couldn’t get fully involved with this story, even though I liked the angle on police corruption. Not much really has changed in the past 50 years, and that is a real damn shame.
The ensemble cast is what really had me going with this film. The best thing about this cast is that they do so well with characters that are so fully fleshed out, that they could have had about dozens of spin-offs of each and every one of these cool characters. Kevin Spacey is great as Jack Vincennes and plays that cool, but slick cop so well. Guy Pearce is very good as Ed Exley because he starts out as this smiley-faced, bright-eyed rookie who just wants to do the right thing and make sure justice is served. However, he starts to get a little more vicious as he soon starts to realize all the corruption within the force, and he does a believable transition too. This was probably the first introduction of Russell Crowe to the world, and with good reason because he’s awesome as brutish, brawling and self-righteous police “Bud” White. Crowe is great at playing those big and bad characters who have a lot more to them then meet’s the eyes. Kim Basinger won an Oscar for her role as Lynn Bracke, which is OK, but she didn’t do an amazing job here, just pretty good. Danny DeVito is perfect as the slimy and snarky gossip magazine writer Sid Hudgeons, James Cromwell is ever so evil and corrupt as Dudley Smith, and David Strathairn is only in a couple scenes as Pierce Patchett but does a good job as well.
Consensus: Though there was something that just didn’t compel me as much, L.A. Confidential is still a well-directed, perfectly scripted, and fun detective story, that keeps you guessing with it’s smart story and will just entertain any popcorn-friendly watcher.
Its like Funny Games, on the river.
What was already a turbulent family vacation turns deadly when a fugitive (Kevin Bacon) and his crew kidnap river rafting guide Gail (Meryl Streep), her husband Tom (David Strathairn) and their son in this thriller from Curtis Hanson. As they steer toward a series of dangerous rapids, the criminals force Gail to abandon Tom, who immediately embarks on a courageous mission to save his family.
So the film starts out as any typical hostage film. People meet, its all nice and fun, then shit gets crazy. The one thing that most of these suspense thrillers, is a deal of suspense. However, this had one scene of that, and then after that one scene, was totally lost. The film’s writing is not so good, and where it could have most definably succeeded in being witty, and suspenseful, the film goes for the predictable mark.
I mean the film is PG-13, so I don’t think that much grizzly killing would be going on, but at least excite me with something rather than these people getting held hostage, and going down a river. Like in all honesty, find something to spice up the story!
The film does work in some ways though. I liked how the setting of the film looked. This forest actually almost has a life of its own, because the film tries to make it seem like all these people are totally secluded from the world outside, and the film does that very well, by showing the good and the bad of the forest.
Another reason the film works is also because of the performances, mostly Streep and Bacon. Streep plays her role of a former river guide turned wife and mother, so well and so believable that I actually did stand behind her a lot of the times, cause she was smart, tough, and overall believable. Bacon also is very good here starting off as this ridiculously creepy, inappropriate dude, and then totally switches the other gear when he is scary and sadistic, actually making me hate him. Which in film, is a good thing.
Consensus: Though its good to look at and well acted, The River Wild suffers from an incredibly predictable, and badly written screenplay, that has so many stupid scenes, it all just seems pretty dumb.
What a different kind of plot, sike!
Committed to a mental hospital after her mother’s tragic death, grieving teenager Anna (Emily Browning) discovers upon her release that her father (David Strathairn) plans to marry his deceased wife’s former nurse (Elizabeth Banks), a woman who might not have the best intentions. But foreboding warnings from her mother’s ghost only cement Anna’s suspicions.
So basically this is one of the 5,000 Japanese horror remakes that just take over Hollywood nowadays, and to be truly honest compared to some others, its not terrible just not that good either.
For the adaptation nearly all the complexity of the original has been stripped out. The play is more linear and the pace, though remaining necessarily slow, has been adjusted for the American audience. I hate to think that to make the wonderful original screenplay saleable in the USA it had to be “dumbed down.”
I felt like their were a lot of nice twists and turns that did keep this film a little bit on the interesting level. Some twists, especially the one at the end, was actually suprising, and others just seemed highly implausible and just put in to add another little twist to the story.
I feel like the horror element to this film wasn’t as bad as I was expecting but it didn’t quite hit the mark as I was expecting. There were a lot of the usual jumps and scares that you would suspect out of this movie, and I felt like the film actually had a lot going for it, and when it proceeded just to show us these on-and-off again little jumps, I felt a bit dissapointed.
The film’s acting is actually pretty good. Browning gives a very nice effective lead performance here as the young girl who is so confused in life and doesn’t know what she wants, proceeds to make life better for her. The huge problem with the film I had was the casting of Elizabeth Banks as the crazy nurse. Not only can you not take her seriously, but many of the times you feel like the lines she delivers are horrible, and very contrived.
I think the film’s rating since it is PG-13 ruined this film. One reason because I felt like the film could have been a lot more bloody and gory compared to its predecessor, and instead just stays within the boundries of safe and easy PG-13 territory.
Consensus: The Uninvited actually has some nice twists and turns to keep you interested and a nice lead performance, but is brought down by its contrived PG-13 rating, and the jumps and scares that end up plaguing the film.