Bodhi is swimming in his grave right about now.
The movie centers on the real life relationship between the late surfing phenom Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) and his legendary mentor Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) as they embark on a quest to surf five-story tall waves known as “Mavericks”.
As far as surfing moves go, 1) there hasn’t been many, and 2), the best of them all is probably Point Break. Say what you will in the comments and talk about how Point Break isn’t really a surfing movie, as much as it is a crime-thriller with the surfing element but seriously, try and not associate surfing with that movie when you think of it. If you’re not sure about that statement, well then be sure about this statement: you sure as hell won’t associate THIS movie with surfing, I can promise ya that.
Coming from director Curtis Hanson (aka, the guy who directed most of it, only to be replaced with two weeks left of shooting due to health issues), you’d expect something very inspirational, full of energy, and able to hit you in the heart and make you weep like a little bitch. The reason I say this is because the guy’s given us many great flicks like L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, and the one I think this one compares to the most, 8 Mile. No matter what you may say about that last film I mentioned, it’s inspirational, has a good story, and had a nice lead character, something that this movie seemed like it could have been but just ended up dropping the ball on big-time.
It’s obvious that the promise of the tale of surfing legend Jay Moriarty was there, but it just never comes full-circle and seems like a long, dull drag until you’ve had enough with these damn kids, surfing, and the ocean. Maybe the fact that I’m not part of the surf culture is the reason that I don’t get what’s so special about this kid, but there was just nothing here to really grab me and have me involved one-bit with this story. The surfing scenes were sometimes cool to look-at, but that’s about it, and I was surprised that there was barely any type of energy thrown into this flick at all. The only times I really felt like this film was moving at a solid-pace was when they would throw some nice-ass 90′s tune in for easy-listening, and even they felt a little misplaced since half of the scenes consisted of guys paddling out into the sea. It’s a pretty boring experience that definitely does not give you the rush or energy that goes into surfing, or the surf culture itself. Seriously man, this movie needed Bodhi, and big-time, too.
Aside from the cheap surfing scenes, the story here is pretty uninvolving and just comes off like a normal, day-of-the-week TV special. The main story of Moriarty could be pretty inspirational and exciting, but they never show the kid as a human-being and make him out to be this sunny-eyed kid, with beautiful, blond hair, beautiful aspirations for life, and not a single problem going on for him. Hell, I think the only problem the kid had was a note from his father that he didn’t read for 5 years or so and if that was his only problem, jeesh, he should have considered himself one, lucky mother ‘effer. Now, I never knew the real Moriarty and I’ve never read anything on him, to know if he was a bad kid or not, but there had to be at least a little something wrong with him. Maybe he liked little boys? Maybe he robbed banks in his down-time? Maybe he had a secret fetish for feet? Who knows?!?!? All I do know is, that he definitely was not the latter-day saint this movie had portrayed him as and it just got to bother me after awhile.
The main part of the reason why I was so annoyed by this kid was mainly because of Jonny Weston‘s cardboard performance as him. I’ve never seen Weston before, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to have a bright-future ahead of him with a body and good-looks like that, but he cannot act for crap and this movie just proves that. The kid is painfully bland, rarely ever shows any type of emotions, and is not easy to connect with, just because he’s the same-old, underdog we have seen time, and time again. Except, this time, he has no problems in life and can still get by the fact that this big wave he wants to take, may be the last one he ever takes, ever. And when I mean “ever”, I mean that his life will be over. That’s why it will be his last one.
Even though this is Jay’s story, Gerard Butler somehow gets top-billing over him as the guy’s mentor, Frosty Hesson and is fine, but also dull, even though it’s not as painful to watch as it was for Weston. There’s something about Butler that makes it seem like he has a crap-load of charm to throw-out all over us from the screen, but never gets the chance to because he gets put in crap like this, The Ugly Truth, and that one coming-up, Playing for Keeps. Butler does what he can here with a role that’s thinly-written, but all of the subplots that come along with his character just weighs everything down (if that was even possible), and never really felt fully-developed for me, either. And seriously dude, drop the fuckin’ Scottish accent. You’re a gnarly, surfing-dude from Santa Cruz and you sound like William Wallace.
Perhaps the most interesting character of the whole cast was the gal who played his wifey, Abigail Spencer, who seems like she has a lot of problems with his love and dedication to surfing, and not his love and dedication to their kids. She’s got a nice role and does what she can with it, but once again, she never feels fully-developed and her story ends up getting little or no focus. And since we’re talking about a mommy that’s in this film, let me just get right down to talking about Elisabeth Shue and what the hell her career has been bringing her nowadays. Shue is a beautiful woman, who is still pushing a surprising 49-years of age, and definitely has great talent that could still get some Oscar-looks, but yet, she still finds herself as the beaten, battered, and dysfunctional, single-mommy in films like Mysterious Skin, House at the End of the Street, and Piranha 3-D. Seriously, there is so much more to this gal than Hollywood is giving her credit for and I think it’s time for her to go back and see what she can do as an older, more accomplished hooker now. Leaving Las Vegas 2 anyone?
Consensus: Though the surf culture will probably eat this movie up from start-to-finish (if they can remember it), Chasing Mavericks is still not a film that’s worth seeing by others because of it’s thinly-written characters, lack of energy, and nothing to really grab-on to and take ahold of you. It’s just there, and that’s pretty much it.
Haaahaaa! Katniss still lives with her mommy!
Jennifer Lawrence plays a young woman (Lawrence) who moves with her mother (Elizabeth Shue) to their dream house in a rural community only to discover that the house next door was the location of a grizzly murder years before. A daughter killed her parents in their beds, and disappeared – leaving only a brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), as the sole survivor.
Why oh why did I see this freakin’ movie?!? Oh wait, I know why. I see it for all of you, and for all of you to know that yes, I still do watch current movies, as shitty as they may be. And I do mean that: AS SHITTY AS THEY MAY BE.
Right from the start of this flick, I knew it was going to be shit. For some odd reason, director Mark Tonderai felt the need to add a whole bunch of weird/colorful effects onto some of these scenes where he’s almost yelling at us; “Hey, this is the part where you’re suppose to feel scared!”. Problem is, we don’t feel scared and the frenetic movements just didn’t do a single lick for me and made it look like I was watching a music-video. Seriously, one of these scenes takes place at a party where kids are drinking and doing kiddish-like things (total debauchery), and it’s weird because the camera does these nifty, little tricks with itself where it slows-up, then rewinds, and continues to keep-on going. This probably makes absolutely no sense to the readers who didn’t see this (and I urge you not to), but in other words: it seems like it came straight from an American Pie-music video. Yeah, pretty lame.
Even though Tonderai tries, he still cannot seem to get at all past the terrible script that seems a bit confused on what it actually sets out to be. What I mean about that is that the film is advertised as one, creepy, horror movie where the creepy neighbor somehow finds his way of doing some weird shit, to this new, innocent girl. Obviously that’s all predictable stuff, which is exactly what this flick is, but it’s worse because the film really isn’t a horror movie at all. Instead of the first 4 minutes and last 20 minutes, everything else is dedicated to this fluffy love story of a blossoming relationship between said creepy neighbor and new, innocent girl. I’m not a horror-lover, but if I went out to see this flick and realized that this was the shit I was getting, I would be flippin’ furious to see that half of the movie is just showing these two ladies (mother and daughter), try to get jumped already, even if they haven’t been in the town for no longer than 2 weeks.
Then, when the actual horror stuff comes in, it’s nothing new, exciting, or original for that matter. Hell, that could be said for this whole film, in general. There is absolutely no surprises whatsoever that come out of this story and it even borrows from other movies. Think of the creepy kid as a young, blonder version of Norman Bates, and think of the cave that Wild Bill put his victims in and that’s pretty much the same type of villain you’re working with here. However, as bad-ass and crazy as the mixture of Norman Bates and Wild Bill may sound, it does not play-out like that one-bit and everything this kid goes through is exactly what you would expect from a cheap, horror thriller, without any horror, or any thrilling moments whatsoever. Heck, even those jump-scares felt cheap and they usually work on me no matter what the horror film may be.
Speaking of the kid, poor Max Thieriot. I know that this kid doesn’t have the best track-record out there but at least he looks good, is versatile, and can make the best out of any shit that gets thrown at him. The problem is, this kid Ryan just seems like a total one-note weirdo that rubbed me the wrong way, the first time he showed his blue eyes on-screen. There’s a couple of neat-o twists with this character and how Thieriot plays him, but nothing too special to where you think, “Wowwwwww. That is something I have never seen done before, ever.” Didn’t think that once with this character, and come to think of it, didn’t think that once with this whole film.
The only reason why this film is getting a wide-release at all, and sadly, was numero uno at the box-office was all because of Jennifer Lawrence and the breakout star quality she has with her for now. Apparently, she did this film before Winter’s Bone and when that came out and garnered her an Oscar nomination, then of course they knew they had to try and get this film a release date, but then it got even better. X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games both came out and catapulted her to total stardom and this is where the powers that be knew they had an opportunity on their hand, so why the eff not try and bring this out to the public, even if it does seem like straight-to-DVD shitola.
I can’t rag on Lawrence too much here since it’s obvious that this girl doesn’t want anything to do with this flick and knew she didn’t even want to when she was filming the film in general. She has the same emotion on her face the whole movie and when she starts to get scared and scream, it seems forced as if the director held out a twenty dollar bill and told her to scream. I don’t know what sick fuck would even think about that, let alone a movie director, but hey, she could have been desperate at that time and needed more added to her salary. Even poor (and possibly is since she’s doing this shit) Elisabeth Shue in this shit as her mommy, and makes me sad whenever I think about the fact that this woman has actually been nominated for an Oscar, and dammit, she should have won. It’s a sad, sad thought when you think about how her co-star in that movie, Nicolas Cage, is having a bigger and better career then she is.
Consensus: House at the End of the Street (aka, HATES, for all of your tweeters out there) is exactly what you would expect from a horror movie with a lame-ass title like this: no surprises, no scares, no fun, no nothing.
Face it, old people bone.
Many years of marriage have left Kay (Meryl Streep) wanting to spice things up and reconnect with her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones). When she hears of a famed relationship guru (Steve Carell) in the town of Great Hope Springs, she must persuade her skeptical husband to get on a plane for an intense week of marriage and sex therapy.
Judging by the first couple of trailers I saw, I was expecting another zany, Streep comedy, where she plays an older gal trying to relive her older days by doing what it is that she wants, when it comes to being between the sheets. In that regard, it reminded me a lot of It’s Complicated, which is a film I laughed at, but still thought was your average, rom-com that nobody thought twice about. That is not necessarily the case here, and that’s what really, really took me by surprise.
Despite being advertised as this totally zany comedy, the film isn’t filled to the core with that. Yeah, there is a couple of funny light moments that really work and made me crack up (one scene in particular where Steep tries oral sex on Jones in a movie theater, which probably gave a lot of people in the theater with me a lot of ideas), but it’s more about the dark, sad truths that come behind relationships and marriages, regardless of how long you have been together.
People, as a whole, grow old. And it doesn’t matter what you try to do with your life to never grow old, but that’s eventually what happens and you can see that especially with this couple of Kay and Arnold. Not only did these two grow old, but they also just grew apart from one another, becoming more of room-mates than actual life-mates. Arnold wakes up everyday, eats the same breakfast combo (one slice of bacon and two eggs, remember that), kisses his wife on the cheek before going to work, comes home from work every night, eats dinner with his wife, goes to watch the Golf channel, falls asleep (typical), and gets awoken by Kay to go up-stairs to his own room, where only he sleeps. This is how his day is every day and it never changes, and it all occurs with barely any talk between him and his wife. What the hell happened between them? Why won’t he just love her? Why doesn’t he talk to her? Why? Why? Why!?!?
Much to my surprise, I was very intrigued by this couple within the first 10 minutes and I kept sitting there to myself wondering just what was up with this obviously, once-loving couple. Director David Frankel is actually more intrigued than anybody else watching this and through the series of non-stop therapy sessions, we see what happened to them, how it all started, who’s to mainly be blamed, and just why they are the way with each other now. The smartest thing that Frankel does other than just let all of these play out, is that he doesn’t take anybody’s side in this relationship. Nope, it’s actually both of their faults for the reasons as to why they aren’t as in love as they once were. I don’t want to give away as to how and why they all of sudden changed things up in their relationship, but what you may find and hear about here are some very honest truths about the way couples begin to act, especially when they have been together as long as 31 years together. Yeesh!
Though, as surprisingly heavy as this film may be, there was still a whole bunch of unneeded rom-com elements that I didn’t feel were really needed. After about the third, awkward sexual scene these two have, I was pretty much getting annoyed by how it seemed like the only way that Frankel could get comedy for this material is by placing a whole bunch of stupid, jokey-jokey sex scenes that didn’t seem to really add much to the film and the ideas, other than show us how old people can’t really be dirty and sexual. Another rom-com formula that also seemed to bother me was the types of songs Frankel used here. A lot of them are a bit too-on-the-nose with certain sad and sappy songs playing whenever either one of them don’t feel loved, and so on and so forth. Basically, the fact that this is a rom-com kind of ruins it but I guess it wasn’t all that terrible to totally destroy the final-product.
But I guess when you have the actors that you have in this film, it doesn’t matter what type of material you have, because it works anyway. Meryl Streep is of course, great as Kay, but this performance is a lot different from what we’ve been seeing from her as of late. There’s a lot more subtlety going on here with her act that really stands-out as we can tell that this girl just wants to be loved and just wants her old relationship back as most people would feel if they started to get in a relationship like the one she’s in. Kay is a character that doesn’t get too up-front with her husband because she’s a bit afraid to ruin any type of chance of intimacy that they may or may not have, and it also shows the effect that this dull relationship may have on her self-esteem and feelings. Streep is great in this role and she gives us a female character that is not only as strong as the male, but also gives us a lot of insight into how our woman feel if we don’t show them the bedroom from time-to-time. Am I right men?
As good as Streep was (and trust me, she was good), I was more involved with Tommy Lee Jones as Arnold and actually found him to be the best thing in this whole flick. Jones starts out as the usual grumpy, stand-offish old man that doesn’t really want anything to do with anybody or anything, he just wants to go about his day the same way he’s been going about it for the last 20 or 30 years. But as time moves on in this flick, we start to see a lot of those walls come down and we see a very lonely and self-conscious guy that doesn’t know what to do with his wife, other than just be a husband and not much else. There’s a lot of moments where Jones nails a lot of the comedic moments, but his emotional moments where we see the character for all that he is, is what really took me by surprise and has me hoping that he decides to take more roles like these in the near-future because isn’t it just a total treat to see this guy shed a tear every once and awhile?
Steve Carrell plays the therapist that somewhat helps this couple out and as successfully deadpan as he can be, truth is, he doesn’t really have that much to do in this film other than to ask these two questions and try to “connect” with them emotionally. Carrell isn’t really ever in this film all by himself and it seems like sort of a waste of a very good actor that shows he can do great things with his roles, even if he isn’t playing his usual, funny-side that we see so very often. It’s not necessarily that this is a criticism of the movie, it’s more that I wish they used him more or if they didn’t want to do that, then they should have just got somebody else that wasn’t such a big-name to do this role in-place of him.
Consensus: Though it follows the same-old, rom-com formula most people hate (and surprisingly love), Hope Springs still succeeds with great performances from Jones and Streep and at showing us the dark and sad truths behind older relationships that can sometimes be healed just by a little communication and most of all, love. Yes, that “L word” always finds itself back.
This is the kind of horror I’m talking about. Fish that bite you to death.
When an earthquake tears open the bottom of Lake Havasu, schools of carnivorous piranhas are released from their underwater lair, and the lake turns into a bloody, frenzied death trap for unwitting water-goers.
This is one of those rare films that I really do wish I saw in 3-D and as well as in a packed theater, rather than an average sized screen TV with my two buds, because I would have been having the time of my life with this crap.
A lot of recent horror films don’t usually live up to their crazy premises and tries to pretend that the audience cares about plot or characters, but this one knows exactly what kind of shit-storm of craziness this is. Director Alexandre Aja doesn’t try to make any of this seem serious at all, which he shouldn’t because the whole time I was watching this, I just couldn’t believe anything that was actually happening, which is a good thing.
It also seemed like Aja was gunning for the heavy R-rating here and practically giving almost every guy who saw this film a woody. There are boobies just about everywhere, and when I mean everywhere, I mean, EVERYWHERE!!! Whether a chick is getting sliced in half, making out under the water, dancing, para sailing, or hell, just even standing there, the ladies always have to be naked. Trust me, this is no complaint but I mean this is practically soft-core porn at one point and if this film was aiming to make any guy watch this, horny as a priest, then it succeeded.
The boobies though aren’t even the most notable part of this movie, the gore is almost even worse. The whole film Aja is never really actually taking this film seriously, as he shouldn’t, but when it comes to these gruesome an gory deaths this film has, he does not back down with getting a little messy. You got these little fishies chewing people up all-over-the-place, with the exception of about 3 people, who actually die because of other random things that happen but the action is awesome and the constant use of blood and gore works so well, especially for the big “attack” scene that is still in my mind.
Although the film was fun, there were still some parts that bothered me. I didn’t like how slow it started off, and how it barely even led up to anything until the 30-minute mark when the film was already half-way over. I wouldn’t have minded this as much if one of the cheesy, and annoying stories didn’t constantly pop-up. The little romantic story between Steven R McQueen and Jessica Szohr is so remotely bad and poorly-acted, I couldn’t help but dread almost every time these two were on-screen together. It also didn’t make matters better when the film itself practically revolves around this which bothered me so much.
Another problem with this film is that despite it being pretty intentionally funny, I never actually find myself laughing at anything that was happen, as I do wish I could have. I mean the kills were cool to watch because all of the assholes that were being killed, were the tools you see on MTV during Spring Break every year, but nothing really had me laughing at it, except for maybe a couple of lines that I still don’t know if it was meant to be a joke or not.
The acting from this ensemble list of randoms is actually pretty good. Elizabeth Shue brings some straight-forward acting to her character as Sheriff Julie Forester; Ving Rhames is a bad-ass muthatrucka as Lieutenant Bishop Welleger; Christopher Lloyd is practically playing Doc Brown as Mr. Goodman; Richard Dreyfuss pops up for about 5 minutes for the beginning of the film to show us that this is practically a mini-sized remake/homage to Jaws; Adam Scott seems like he’s in a whole different other film; and Jerry O’Connell is so annoying as Derrick Jones, but he makes the best out of it and that’s some good stuff. The whole rest of the cast are basically filled with chicks that were just there to show their tits, which I have no real problem with in the first place.
Consensus: It could have been funnier and paced, however, Piranha 3-D made me realize that gore, blood, boobs, fish, and MTV tools all work out together well, no matter how campy the material may actually get.
Makes even more a reason as to why I should go to Vegas. Hookers are everywhere!
Nicolas Cage stars as a suicidal alcoholic who has ended his personal and professional life to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. While there, he forms a relationship with a hardened prostitute, played by Elisabeth Shue.
When it comes to depressing films, this one takes the cake. However, depressing isn’t so bad when it comes to this film.
Director Mike Figgis did a near-perfect job here with telling this story in a straight way, with still adding enough style of his own to it without being too artsy fartsy with it. Figgis uses a super 16 mm film instead of a 35 mm film and it works so well because it shows the sleazy underground of Las Vegas and the scenes he films on the streets of Vegas just loom so perfect with all the beautiful colors everywhere and the whole area surrounding the story.
The one real attribute to this film that works so well is the story itself which will make more people involved than they’d like to think. The story is real simple and it shows how these were before they met each other, their problems with life, and how they live their lives, then when they meet it is really a beautiful thing. Figgis works against the usual cliches of a romance story and shows two troubled lives coming together and forming a very troubled but loving romance that isn’t about changing one another, it’s more about how they need each other’s companionship. It’s the dark side of love, but in a way, it’s love and still beautiful.
Many people will actually complain about how it’s also very dark and depressing but I still actually found it a bit up-beat and compelling to the point of where I cared what happened to these two people. The film pulls no punches away when it comes to showing alcoholism for what it is, sex, and a lot of violence that gets very gruesome and actually pretty disturbing as well but I still felt involved with this story and just how beautiful and unusual this romance really was.
My only problem with this film is that the plot doesn’t really go anywhere. This didn’t bother me in this film as much as it would have in another one, because I had more distractions here to keep me away from the non-moving plot, but I still was a little annoyed that this plot didn’t really do much except linger around their love. But what a love it truly is.
I have always stood behind Nicolas Cage in everything that he does and it’s just amazing to be able to watch him in his only Oscar-winning performance, and what a performance it truly is. Cage is perfect as Ben Sanderson, the unapologetic drunk that is hammered throughout the whole film but you still feel something for this guy. Ben is a sad character but at the same time he has this endearing sweetness about him that you can sort of actually stand behind and wish for everything wrong with him, to eventually get better. Cage plays Ben so well because he channels all the craziness that this character has and all of the sadness that lies behind all of the drinking he does day-after-day. A great performance from a great actor and I’m so glad that he got the Oscar for this.
Elisabeth Shue is also amazing here as Sera, the whore with a heart of gold, and as cliche as that sounds, I can assure you it’s not at all. Shue seems so natural in this film because she is very sexy and bad when she needs to be but she has that sadness to her character as well that shows she needs somebody in her life, as much as he does as well.
Their chemistry is perfect together and how they are with each other is something that’s almost in a way a bit heart-breaking because you know how great of a couple they could be, they just have so many problems in their lives. These two seem so natural and comfortable with one another that I believed just about everything that happened to them.
Consensus: The plot may not go anywhere, but Leaving Las Vegas is a perfectly performed, and well-directed romance that shows two very messed up people, who need each other more than anything but will never change each other and that’s what a beautiful love story is all about.
Sometimes Woody Allen can be such a trip.
Self-absorbed novelist Harry Block (Woody Allen) sees his literary chickens come home to roost after he pens a roman à clef that offends, enrages and alienates everyone in his orbit. The film’s sterling cast also includes Elisabeth Shue as Harry’s ex-girlfriend, Kirstie Alley as his former spouse, Bob Balaban as his best pal and Judy Davis as the erstwhile sister-in-law who wants to murder Harry.
The central plot features Block driving to a university from which he was once thrown out, in order to receive an honorary degree. Three passengers accompany him on the journey: a prostitute, a friend, and his son, whom he has kidnapped from his divorced wife. However, there are many flashbacks, segments taken from Block’s writing, and interactions with his own fictional characters. The random cuts between fact and fiction may confuse some but once you understand the characters who are real and fake, then you’ll get the story.
A lot of this is taken from Woody Allen’s own life as sort of an autobiographical take, and I must say this is probably one of his most challenging, tragic, and mature work to date. This film still has his great writing that is witty and packed with many of his smart ideas about his own personal life and overall everything else in the world. There is a lot of dirty talk which I was very surprised about coming from an Allen film, and I think he hits the mark on how he uses his art to connect.
The jokes I had a huge problem with though, and its that it isn’t the smart way Woody Allen uses his jokes. Its too much about the stereotypes of Jewish people, and black people that kind of got old by the third act. Also, the joke of how Robin Williams was always out of focus was funny at first then they used the joke probably about 14 more times to the point where it became an annoyance.
The best thing about this film is its leading performance from the always great Woody Allen who basically takes this lead role, and make it into a real-life person. He captures the confusion, and depression of his characters life, and always seem real. Except that his character is such a dick and has messed his life up so much that its kind of hard to root for him and enjoy him when he’s on-screen. The film has a lot of good side performances but nothing memorable, except for probably the Billy Crystal who uses a lot of ad-lib between him and Allen, and is a great thing to see.
Consensus: Woody Allen doesn’t make his best work with Deconstructing Harry, but surely one his most mature work. Too many jokes seem out-of-place, and over-used, but with enough smart writing and a good central performance from Allen, its a pretty difficult enjoyable trip.