At the end of the day, boys will be boys.
Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) were three childhood friends who lost touch over the years, all because of an incident that happened to one of them. All these years later, Jimmy’s daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum), is found dead in the park, and it’s up to Sean to find out who killed her, why, who, what, where, and when, but somehow, Dave seems like the most prime-suspect out of them all. Whether or not he did it, is left up to these three to figure out.
Movies that try to deal both with a human-story and a mystery, never fully come together and seem to work all that well. However, Clint Eastwood seems like the type of dude who’s been in enough movies to realize that anytime you can add on real, honest human emotions; then anything can work. He also seems to know that if you can get an amazing cast, that is more than capable of delivering on every, single spectrum; then anything can, and most likely will, work. Clint knows the game he’s getting himself involved with and although he’s been racking it up in the age-department, the guy shows us he still knows what’s up with a good story.
What works so well with this flick is that in almost every aspect, something is always working. For starters, the mystery behind this flick is one that actually works, and one that keeps you glued to wondering just what the hell is going to be revealed, and possibly said, next. Most of these movies that try to add mystery to a human-story, never really seem to work and instead come off like a lame excuse to distract the audience who wants a fast-paced, exciting story, but this isn’t one of those flicks. We are never really told what happened to Katie in the beginning, other than the fact that she was murdered, by the park, and somebody called it in. After that, everything we hear, see, or try to grip and understand, are all news to us and it feels like we are learning everything, just as soon as each and every other character in this movie as well. Love a fine mystery-tale, especially when it’s done well and not for cheap-kicks.
Then, you get to the human-element of this whole story, which is really the anchor to it all and has everything come together like a fine string, between two Dixie cups. Every character in this movie, for no matter how long or how little you may see them pop-up on-screen, you still feel like as if you know them for all that they are, all that they were, and all that they ever will be. Sure, some are more pleasant to think about than others, but you still can’t help but be intrigued by the way that these characters interact with one another, and just how they find ways to connect around the a murder-case like this.
The most interesting character-relationships in this movie, were definitely the three boys we see at the beginning: Sean, Jimmy, and Dave (remember those names). At the beginning, we see how they were childhood pals, until something very disturbing and dramatic happened to one of them, and separates them all, while changing the course of their lives forever and ever. After we see this change in their childhoods, we then fast-forward to them being adults, moving on with their lives, and making ends meet, but still never, ever forgetting about that fateful day that impacted all of them, not just that one person. Throughout the rest of the flick, they always go back-and-forth about that moment in their lives, and they realize that it changed who they were, forever, but never really come to terms with how or why. They know that one person was actually hurt and had to pay the piper, but in the end, they were all hurt that day and never seemed to forget about it, nor heal from that pain. It’s interesting that they all see each other in one-on-one’s, but never show up altogether. It’s as if the movie wants you to see how separated they are, not just from each other, but the rest of the world around them. Maybe that’s just a bunch of babble from yours truly, but it’s something that I felt, and something that I saw and continue to think about even while writing all of this jibber-jab.
But trust me, not everything in this movie is as clear as I may make it out to be (or not). The movie has characters that you don’t know whether or not to trust, like, dislike, or even care for, but you still remained enticed by everything that you see them as. Eastwood also has an interest in each of these character’s lives and personality-traits, and shows how each of them react to certain situations differently. Some are cool, and some are nervous bumb-fucks. Some are suave, and some jittery-jatters. Some know all the right things to say, and others do as well, they just don’t know how to say it. You see all of these characters act and respond to the same situations, the same questions, and the same happenings, but yet; they are all different in their own ways, and watching that was just about perfect. It was even better to watch, if not just for the actual characters themselves, but the performances that were there to back them up.
When you have a story that’s so rich, so deep, and so compelling as this, with characters that are on equal-measure, it’s necessary to have a cast that can handle this, and that’s exactly what all of these heavy-hitters are ready to do, and do it in style. Sort of. Back when this flick first came out, everybody ranted and raved about Sean Penn and his performance as Jimmy Markum, but it’s rants and raves that were meant to be. Not only does Penn give one of the greatest freak-outs of all-time (second to this, of course), but he also gives us a deeply-layered, and beautiful glimpse inside the world of a man that’s trying to be right, trying to be good, and trying to be well-mannered, but just can’t because of his natural-tendencies. Markum is not a nice guy and is definitely not the type of guy you’d be easy and able to trust when it came down to getting business done the right way, but he’s trying and you can see that in every single scene that Penn shows up in. Most of the time, he’s a grieving father that’s just taken down, notch-by-notch, because of the fact that his baby girl is dead, but he continues to get back up, fight, and search for the truth. The ways he goes about it, the answers that he finds, and how he responds to those said answers, are not always the most “just” ways of going about your bizz, but Penn always remains stoic, compelling, believeable, and understandable in the way he never loses hope, even if death is staring him right in the face. It’s not as corny as I may make it sound. Trust me on that.
Tim Robbins comes very close to stealing Penn’s spotlight as Dave, an old-time friend of Jimmy’s, who also just so happens to be married to his wife’s cousin. Don’t know what that would make them in terms of family, but I guess they’re related, right? Okay, whatever. Anyway, Robbins is amazing as Dave, not just because Robbins knows how to play crazy like anybody’s business, but he really plays it up without going overboard in the sense that he’s way too insane to be considered the type of guy you’d want to marry, have, and raise a family with. He seems like an honestly-nice dude, that just so happens to have a pretty fucked-up past that gets in the way of his present-day happenings. That never makes him a bad person, but just the type of person you never know whether or not to trust, and what it is about him that’s so shady. Whatever it is, that mystery and that dark-shade of him, always stays there between us and that character, and it not only works in the movie’s favor, but Robbins’ as well. Both him and Penn received Oscars for these roles, and in my opinion: were both well-deserved. Then again, I think I share that same opinion with many, many others out there in the movie-reviewing world.
Marcia Gay Harden plays Dave’s wife, Celeste, who knows about Dave and what he did the night Katie was murdered, but doesn’t know how to accept the fact that maybe her hubby was the killer out of all of this. Harden is great with this role and this character because it gives us a sense that this woman loves her husband to death, but still doesn’t know if she can trust him in all of this, and finds herself in a dilemma between choosing between love, family, or being fair. She’s always nervous, she’s always twitchy, and she’s always scared, and some may call her performance one-sided for that, but Harden handles it perfectly, and never lost my interest.
Kevin Bacon seems like he got the shortest-stack of the bunch with a character that isn’t as interesting and sure as hell isn’t as memorable as these two, but still proves that he’s the man when it comes to owning roles like these, no matter how procedural they may be. It also doesn’t help that his character’s wife just so happened to have left him, with their baby, calls him almost all of the time, and never speaks. She just sits there, with the phone to her ear, in silence as the guy rambles on about nearly nothing. Still, Bacon is great through all of this, it’s just obvious that Eastwood wasn’t as concerned with this character as much as he was with the first two. Laurence Fishburne plays Sean’s fellow-detective who’s also investigating the case and is great with what he does, but is only there to give some slappy, side-comments and show how he isn’t as biased as Sean may be. Then again, Fishburne is always worth watching, especially in roles where he’s playing himself better than anybody else.
Even though the cast, the direction, the writing, the themes, and the mystery behind this whole movie, worked for me and had me loving just about every second of this, there is always a glaring-problem that never ceases to leave my mind when I think of this: the ending, or should I say: the final 10 minutes. Without spoiling all of the shite that goes down in the final-act, we leave with a dark, but reasonable conclusion that effs with our minds, our hearts, and our eyes, especially with everything we just saw for the past two hours. However, the movie doesn’t end there, just when it should have. Nope, instead, the movie felt the need to add on an epilogue where we not only get one, whole scene dedicated to Laura Linney’s characters, Jimmy’s wife, acting as Lady Macbeth-type character, but also feed us an ending that sort of contradicts the whole movie.
For instance, the movie plays around with the themes of people staying true their ways, their morals, and their nature, but somewhere, those themes get lost in a strange conundrum of characters not acting like themselves. It’s so hard to go into all of this without giving each and every thing away, but for the people who feel like they know what I’m talking about, you may be able to understand that some people realize some things about others, that they didn’t know before or has just become news to them, but yet, they choose to do nothing about it and go about their lives as if nothing happened. That would have been fine for one or two characters in this movie, but for the one that it does high-light, it seemed wrong, too theatrical, and a tad stupid, as if Eastwood really wanted us to feel like nobody was meant to be trusted, nor were they meant to be liked in any way, form, or shape. It’s not a happy-ending, per se, but it’s the type of ending that may piss you off because everything up until that point, was going swell, but had to end right there. Damn you, Clint. Why’d you have to go and ruin a good thing?
Consensus: The ending doesn’t make sense in the grander scheme of things, but everything else in Mystic River leading up to that, is still near-perfect with it’s powerful acting, realistic themes about life, and interesting character-traits and relationships that never always seem to add more heart and depth to this mystery, rather than just finding out who the baddie is.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!
FDR was the perfect family man. Just don’t let him stay alone with your oldest daughter.
The story takes place over a weekend in 1939 where a little-known and rather peculiar affair FDR (Bill Murray) had with his cousin Margaret ‘Daisy’ Stuckley (Laura Linney) took place, as well as a visit from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at their upstate New York cottage.
Without Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who knows what the hell type of state our country would have been left in. Not only did he get us through one of the worst times to ever be alive and live in America (The Great Depression), but he also got us through a Second World War. Basically, when it comes right down to it, the man is an inspiration to all Americans, let alone, human-beings out there and it only seems suitable that the guy be part 2, of 2012′s “president-gets-a-movie-year”. However, I wish it wasn’t this movie.
Taking the same approach that Lincoln did, as instead of focusing on the president’s whole life and adventures, they take a little snap-shot of his life and whereas that movie seemed to be focused on a more-important aspect of Honest Abe’s life, this story takes place around a time of FDR’s that should seem important and should seem interesting, but simply, is not. Director Roger Michell definitely seems like he wants to have fun with this story and make it seem like we really are there for the weekend, just as much as the King and Queen are, but we never really get that true-essence of fun, mainly because of who the story is focused on and why.
Instead of making this an important story about FDR and King George VI became buddies, in order for England and America to unite and fight WWII together, the story is more about how FDR got his rocks off with his 5th cousin. That’s all juicy and sensational and definitely provides an interesting-take on a romantic-comedy plot-line, but is just boring and after the first 10 minutes where FDR and Daisy share an intimate moment in a field together (which is one of the biggest “WHAT THE FUCK?!??!” moments of the year) it all goes downhill from there and never brings us back-up to date with anything that’s going on or what’s going to happen. Seriously, after that scene, you’re not going to know what to think and keep on wondering as to whether or not you should laugh, leave, or just laugh, in the unintentional way. Your pick, I guess.
Underneath this semi-romantic story, actually lies a deep and understood one about the uniting of these two nations and they definitely provide some of the best scenes of the whole frickin’ movie. There’s a sweet, subtle scene between King George VI and FDR where they both chill out, share a couple of after-hour martinis, and just shoot the shit on being a ruler, being the hot-shot on campus, and most of all, just life in general. Since the story/movie is apparently supposed to be told through Daisy’s eyes, it’s a tad strange that we get a look at this private moment between the two, knowing that it could have never been seen through her eyes, but regardless, it’s still a nice, heartfelt scene that shows that maybe this movie can do more than just try it’s hardest at giving us a weird-romance to care about.
However, it falls right back into it’s formula that it tried so hard to leave in the first-place and just really bummed me out since there is promise for a strong story here, but no Michell just wanted to keep on throwing soapy melodrama at us, as if we care for this relationship in the least-bit. Anytime Daisy gets upset over the fact that FDR is doing things that takes his eyes and attention away from her, she slips into a rage-fueled break down that makes her seem so childish, and just makes the movie seem all the more dramatic than it needed to be. It wouldn’t have sucked so much if we gave a crap, but the fact of the matter is, we just don’t and I would have much rather seen the film about FDR and the King and Queen getting along, rather than him and his cousin, well *ahem* getting along.
What also makes Daisy the weakest and most annoying-aspect of this movie is the fact that Laura Linney seems terribly miscast as her, simply because the gal is a bit too old. No offense against Linney, but she’s almost 50 and she’s playing a person that has the emotions and love-swindles of a 7-year-old girl who finds her first-crush in the playground out in the school yard. Linney does what she can with this mediocre role, but it isn’t enough to save her character from being really, really strange, not just by how she reacts to FDR’s womanizing-ways, but also to how she falls in love with the guy in the first-place. Other than the infamous field scene, there really isn’t all that much between the two that would really have me feel the love and in the end, just ends-up less and less believable as the story goes on. Yes, I know it’s a real-life account that is straight-from the personal diaries of Daisy, but there has to be some sort of dramatic-license taken here. There’s just gotta be!
The most interesting aspect of this whole movie, and probably the best as well, is the fact that it has Bill Murray playing non-other than Mr. FDR himself, and it’s a move that not only seems like a stretch, but also pretty risky, right? Well, in a way, it is a pretty risky maneuver trying to have one of the most famous comedians of all-time, play one of the most iconic president of all-time with little or no make-up used, but it’s a risky maneuver that Murray does very-well of getting past, mainly because the guy just has the most lovable screen-presence of any comedian/actor working today. Not only does Murray capture the undeniable fun and charm that was behind FDR and all his ways, but he also captures the presence of a dude that could never stand, yet was the happiest and tallest one at a party, mainly because of his happy-go-lucky personality towards everything. Sometimes when I was watching him, it really seemed like it was Bill Murray playing Bill Murray, rather than it being Bill Murray playing FDR, but I could mainly get past the fact and just enjoy the hell out of Murray and all that he did, and could do as FDR. It’s just a shame that DDL had to come-out and play Honest Abe in the same-year as Murray playing FDR, because the guy would have gotten some real Oscar-talk.
Possibly the biggest-stretch of this whole movie that wasn’t even apparent to me until I started watching was how this movie featured both the same King and Queen, that were portrayed by Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter so famously about 2 years ago with The King’s Speech. It would almost seem like blasphemy to try and feature another movie with the same real-life figures, and not have them be played by Firth and Carter, but surprisingly, Samuel West and Olivia Coleman take over those roles pretty-well and are most likely the most interesting-aspects of this movie. West does a nice-job with the stammer and doesn’t go into a full-on Firth-impersonation, and Coleman allows herself to be a little weird, but reasonable as the Queen, but when then are together, it’s just so fun and electric to watch that you really feel like you’re watching a married-couple that knows each other so, so very well. However, it probably would have been way more epic to see Firth and Carter, come over from that movie into this and give a little two cents of their own. Now that, my friends, is an Oscar-caliber movie. And probably a lot better than The King’s Speech, if you don’t mind me saying so myself.
Consensus: With so much promise in the air, it’s a total bummer to admit that Hyde Park on Hudson fails to bring-out any type of importance out of it’s somewhat, historically-important story, and instead, decides to just focus on how much FDR liked his stamp collection, martinis, and most of all, some nice booty here and there, especially the ones that weren’t his wives. Yeah, that’s exactly how we all want to remember one of our finest presidents of all-time.
‘The Truman Show’ chronicles the life of a man named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) who is initially unaware that he is living in a constructed reality television show, broadcast around the clock to billions of people across the globe. Truman becomes suspicious of his perceived reality and embarks on a quest to discover the truth about his life.
In today’s day and age where everybody is constantly on Twitter tweeting about what they had for din-din, on Facebook posting pictures of them and their bong sesh the night before, or on YouTube uploading videos on themselves singing R&B songs by Mariah Carey, it’s easy to see why you would sometimes feel like you’re life is all one big TV show. However, life isn’t that cool and unique after all.
High Concept movies are usually hit-and-miss and rarely ever do they hit as well as the concept here. Writer Andrew Niccol takes gives everything he can into this concept where Truman in his own little world, and where everything is one big show, one big block of advertising, and most of all, one big piece of reality TV. There’s obviously a lot of satire to be had here where Niccol brings up the point about how our nation, is a nation that is consumed by watching other people’s live and needing to know everything that goes on in his/her private lives. It’s definitely a theme that gets better and better as the years go on by considering we have so many things in today’s world that take more and more away from our privacy. But it’s not all about the obvious satire, and that’s where the real beauty of this film lies.
Director Peter Weir did a perfect job here as a director because he immerses us into this world where Truman lives. We see everything that goes on in his “fake” world, then to the people who make this world for him, and then to what’s going on behind closed doors and how they are all filming everything the way they are. It definitely seems like a concept that would be a little too far-fetched but somehow Weir was able to pack all of these things in here that gets you more and more involved with this story as if you are, hey, watching a life play out in front of your own eyes. That’s right people, I’m talking about something that sounds exactly reality TV. Oh em gee! As you see Truman start to peel away the layers of his life to realize that something eerie is going on, you start to root for him and can only hope that he eventually does find out that it’s all one big show, and that he was the main star. This plot may have never been able to work, had it taken place in real life, but the way he realizes everything, hint by hint, not only makes the film seem plausible but feel like it’s actually happening right then and there.
It’s a real surprise how a plot like this actually came together so damn well in the end, but I guess when you put two heads like Niccol and Weir together, miracles can happen.
My only problem with this flick was that I sort of felt like the ending was a bit too abrupt. All of this build-up is leading and leading up to the finale of where Truman finally finds out about the world outside of his own, but even when it does happen, it’s sort of a let-down. Actually, I don’t want to say that it’s a let-down because I think it was actually handled very well in fact, it was just that it all happens so quick and I would have liked to see more of what actually happened after the ending went down. I know I sound very vague but that’s because, believe it or not, I don’t really want to give too much away here.
Ever since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind came out, people really started to take notice that Jim Carrey could play a more serious role than we usually see, but this was the real film that let us know that this guy had more than just a bunch of goofy faces. Carrey is amazing as Burbank because he makes this character so damn likable and believable that it’s easy to see why someone would want to center a TV show around him in the first place. In front of everybody, he’s hamming it up to the neighbors and going through the same routines day-in and day-out, but behind the closed doors, he continues to lose his shit as he realizes that something is a little too freaky underneath it all and you really do want him to find out everything at once and just get the hell out of there. Carrey totally throws himself into this role showing a lot of dramatic range as an actor, but also showing the things that make him funny in the first place as a comedian and giving us a new look at someone that we thought would end up being his own biggest fan.
Even though I’m not as fond of her as everybody else seems to be, Laura Linney is pretty good as Truman’s wife and it makes me wonder just how much money would a lady take if they had to act like Carrey’s wife and sometimes, get it on with him? Yeesh. Ed Harris is also good as the show’s director, Christof, and gives off this God-like nature to him that makes it seem like he was the one who actually gave life to Truman after all. Also, be on the look out for a nice little side spot from Paul Giamatti. Damn, this guy was everywhere back in the 90′s!
Consensus: The Truman Show works as well today, as it did way back when in 1998 with it’s very realistic satire but also works because of an amazingly original premise that seems to get better and better as more and more is revealed, and also features some great performances from the cast, especially a very good and very different Jim Carrey.
You can always depend on your doped up brother to bring some shock to your life.
The return of wild brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo), is an unwelcome surprise to Sammy (Laura Linney), a young mother who is starting to cheat on her fiancé, Bob (Jon Tenney), with her boss, Brian (Matthew Broderick).
Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is a dude I hear so much about considering he has only done two films in the last decade. Still though, I’m surprised that he isn’t a bigger name, especially after doing something like this.
What I like about his script is how it is a very honest script that shows what real relations between family is like. Every human emotion here doesn’t feel contrived or like they just rehearsed it, everybody reacts to each other the way that they normally would in real-life and it’s that kind of human honesty is what made me react to this flick the most. These are sad people, with sad lives, but they are all trying to get through it with one another and even if it may not work out to the best of their imaginations, they still somehow find ways to make good with what they have. This is a script that has some very smart moments with its drama and its emotions but its also very funny at certain points that you wouldn’t expect right away.
I also liked how Lonergan didn’t try to make us feel more for these characters than we already did by throwing us a bunch of sappy and cheesy moments that all emotional films like this try to snake us into. Since the film also shows the relationship between a long lost bro-bro and sis-sis, you would expect that there would be plenty of key scenes about their past and what happened so that the viewer would know more, however, the film doesn’t show this at all with the exception of the beginning, and it works. It’s quite impressive when films like this can do that because it lets us think about what happened through how they are now and it doesn’t try to spell anything out for us.
Lonergan is very good and skilled as a writer, no doubt about that but as a director, it seems like he may need a little working with. There is a lot of shots in this flick that shows these characters either just sitting, sleeping, watching TV, driving, or just randomly doing something that doesn’t pertain to the story and is just there because Lonergan wants to show us how unhappy these characters really can be. Some of these scenes seem very random and un-needed and one in particular with Broderick’s wife, seemed to go on a little too long for my liking. May sound like a weird complaint but there a couple of random scenes like this that didn’t really need to be here in the first place. As good as the script may be too, everything still plays out the same way you would expect a drama like this to. It’s not as terribly disappointing as I may make it sound but it was still something I noticed right off the bat.
Laura Linney isn’t an actress that I usually like, because I thinks she plays the same character in almost any flick that she does but she’s very good here as Sammy. Sammy is one of those confused but very strong-willed women that just wants to do the right thing no matter what, but always seems to be dragged down by all of these mean people around her. Linney plays this character well because she shows what it’s like to be a woman who’s been through so much and just can’t seem to get a grasp on things but it’s not a one-note performance. Linney takes this character and give her a charming likability that is easy to relate to and understand right off the bat and I’m glad that she was nominated for an Oscar here.
Mark Ruffalo was also amazing in his role as her brother, Terry. Terry is one of those characters who has a lot of obvious problems but always tries to do the right thing no matter what. Problem is, he’s taken down by other people, just like his own sister. Ruffalo plays this role perfectly with just enough anger and heart to give us a full-rounded character that may be a little rough around the edges, but still is a good person no matter what he may mess up with. The scenes with him and Linney are all great and they feel like the an actual brother and sister that haven’t seen each other in so very long. Matthew Broderick is also good as Brian, Sammy’s boss, and he actually has a couple of funny scenes that work here even though his character may be a tad strange. Still, good performances all around here.
Consensus: Though some moments may not work, You Can Count on Me works mainly because of the great script from Lonergan that feels honest, insightful, and emotionally here, as well as the great performances from the whole cast.
Two people who have English degrees don’t seem to make the best couples.
Set in Brooklyn in 1986, this film captures with extraordinary immediacy the inner workings of the Berkmans. Bernard (Jeff Daniels), a once successful novelist and Joan (Laura Linney), have given up on their marriage, leaving their two sons Walt (Jesse Eisenberg), 16, and Frank (Owen Kline), 12, to grapple with what has become of the family.
When I think of films that have to do with divorce, I think of the classics like ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ or ‘War of the Roses’, to name a few. However, never in my right mind would I thought that a film by the same dude who brought me ‘Greenberg’ would be added to that list as well.
Writer/director Noah Baumbach is a guy who’s films I can never really get into but with his script here, he shows some real talent that deserves to be heard. His script is filled with a bunch of humor, sarcasm, and witty puns that actually take your mind off the fact that this flick is essentially about a family falling apart right in front of our eyes. It’s strange to be laughing at something like this but the way Baumbach is able to make every single situation in this flick, come out almost funnier than the last is what truly is what makes him such an inspired writer in the first place.
The script also has a bit of a sweet side to it, which at first, is a little too hard to see since everybody is mean and nasty, but by the end of the flick you can really start to see it come out. The film has characters that aren’t very likable but by the end, they start to understand their short-comings for what they are and that’s where the film made a difference for me. I actually started to care what was happening between the members of this family just through how they show their pain and anguish over this divorce and it works because you somehow get attached to these characters. None of these moments are ever shown in an obvious or melodramatic way either, which is always one step above the normal Hollywood comedies we get almost every weekend.
The one fall-back that I did have with this flick was that Baumbach seemed like he just felt the need to be a little strange and weird with this flick and it doesn’t work. The whole idea that the one kid, Walt, is playing ‘Hey You’ by Pink Floyd an calling it his own without his parents or many other people not knowing that it’s actually by them seemed a little far-fetched for me since it is a pretty big song, and I don’t know, Pink Floyd is a pretty big band. Then again, I guess these sophisticated types just stayed at home and listened to opera all day.
Another example about the weirdness of this script is the whole sub-plot about Frank and his angst. First of all, he’s drinking beer just about every night and he constantly jizzes in his hand and wipes it all over random stuff in school. OK, I get it, the kid is having a hard time but does he really need to wipe his semen everywhere in order to show how upset and confused he is. This seemed like something for a whole different movie and this was just a little too weird and strange to actually ring true at all.
Where the film excels perfectly act though, is the performances given by all four of these performers. Jeff Daniels is great as the snobby, know-it-all, Bernard. The guy thinks he’s right even when he’s terribly wrong and it’s just funny to watch him go about his day and say things that obviously make him seem like a total pompous asshole. Daniels is great in this role and easily can make us laugh but he’s also still likable in a way and he’s a pretty cool guy, even though he can be kind of a dick. Laura Linney is also pretty good as Joan. It’s a really hard character for her to play, considering she has to make an extremely unlikable character, likable in some way but she pulls it off and makes her character seem like a real person rather than just another one of those confused woman that want sympathy all the time.
Jesse Eisenberg is great in this role as Walt, playing the usual fast-talking nerd he plays in every flick but he still seems like a young kid, as he actually was when this film was filming. Much of the film actually revolves around him and just to watch him take his father’s advice all the time and practically hate his mom as well, seemed very realistic and made Walt an easily relate-able character since I would have probably acted the same way as well. Owen Kline, son of Kevin Kline, is also very good as Frank and it’s a real wonder as to why this kid hasn’t done much more with his acting since he gives a very realistic performance as a young kid, even if his story does get a little too wild. The one scene-stealer in this whole film though is William Baldwin as the total goon, Ivan, a guy who made me laugh just about every time just by calling everybody around him “my brother”. Alec probably could have pulled it off better though.
Consensus: Even though some moments don’t really ring true, The Squid and the Whale still features great writing that mixes drama and comedy perfectly, with realistic performances from everybody involved that add so much more to these almost unlikable characters.
Who loves Christmas? Almost every single British star apparently does.
I would give this huge plot synopsis but there really is so much here. Basically, everything in a nutshell, a lot of British folks fall in love with one another and Christmas starts to approach, which as everybody knows, means they all have to basically let their hearts out and tell the truth.
When I say there is a lot of stories in this flick, I mean there are a lot but I think director Richard Curtis does a fine job of handling all of these stories at once. He knows how to structure all of these stories together so well that they don’t seem too overwhelming to take in or repetitive for that sake. He doesn’t drop the ball as much as I would have expected him to but when it comes to handling dozens and dozens of love stories in just one flick that runs at 129 minutes, let’s just say that he’s no Robert Altman folk.
Where I think this flick gets messed up on is the fact there are way too many stories in this film and rather than just singling out every tiny story that it had, I’ll just tell you that there are some good bits and other bad ones. Some stories were obviously better than others, however, there were some that seemed unneeded because even though they were all comedies at heart, they also had a lot of downer dramatic elements to them as well.
There were also many moments with this film that seemed so cheesy and schmaltzy that I wanted to punch somebody in the face as soon as I heard another British bloke say, “I love you” to a chick they’ve known for only 2 days. The whole story with Liam Neeson and his step-son is really creepy and the whole fact that he’s telling his son to go and get it like a man, seemed a tad strange to me and almost like the film was trying way too hard to be cute.
The last of my problems with this flick is that it is very uneven. The abundance of stories would have been a little bit more enjoyable if they actually had some evening out with all of the stories but the problem here is that some stories go on for awhile and then you never see the other ones again, until you’ve almost forgotten about them completely. The whole Keira Knightley love-angle seemed very minor in this flick and although that one flash-card scene was cool, the film only has about 3 scenes of this little “romance” brewing up. Too many times I would wonder just where a certain story would have gone, and then when it came up I practically almost forgot about it.
Still, even though I’m ragging on this flick a whole hell of a lot, it still won me over. Despite some of schmaltzy moments there is a lot of heart-warming stuff going on here and each little story in their own right, is original and interesting. Take it for granted, there are some lame ones and others that plain and simply don’t belong because they either take up space or aren’t as interesting when it comes to having you smile when the supposed “love” is supposed to be going on. But not only are there a whole bunch of moments that had me tummy feel are warm and cuddly, there were also plenty of laughs to come along with this flick and even though they start to decrease by the end, I still felt myself happy.
The reason this film also works is because of the huge ensemble cast that Curtis has brought together. Everybody here does a great job with the ones who stand-out such as Hugh Grant as the prime minister, Colin Firth as a writer, Bill Nighy as an aging rock star, and Emma Thompson as a wife that is getting played with. Everybody here was great to watch and it was just awesome how everybody got to play around with their roles for a little bit, even if they weren’t really doing anything ground-breaking. Let’s not to forget that Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead is up in herrre and the always lovely Mr. Bean. People should get the notion that you should put Atkinson in every single British film. The damn guy is always funny!
Consensus: Love Actually is very uneven, and has stories that are better than others, but Richard Curtis still handles every story well here with heart-warming and comedic moments that are heightened even more by the charming cast.
Does this even argue anything about the death penalty?
When Texas professor David Gale (Kevin Spacey), an advocate for the elimination of the death penalty, is falsely accused and convicted of the rape and murder of another activist (Laura Linney), he ends up on the state’s notorious death row himself. In a series of flashbacks, Gale tells his story to a young reporter (Kate Winslet) who’s visiting him on death row, leaving her to sort out his guilt or innocence.
The whole film I was expecting it to be another argument on the death penalty, and how it is just soo wrong. However, it just turns out to be an interesting jig-saw puzzle that you can’t steer away from.
The first two thirds of this film are quite riveting, mostly because the plots twists and turns, all come at you right away, without you even knowing. By the end the films twists really do seem to be implausible, and actually kind of stupid, but it was first two thirds that really had me going in the first place.
The cinematography is very ho-hum and certain editing techniques used to link scenes in the present to scenes in the past, where the camera spirals over words like: innocence, love, guilt, hate, are pretentious as hell. These montages are also so grossly out of place that they seem as if they were clipped from an episode of NYPD Blue.
The performances given here by Spacey and Winslet, is what in the end really won me over here. Kevin Spacey gives one of his best performances here, cause the whole film is basically given to him, to act his ass off, and well, he does just that and even more. Kate Winslet, is good as this mean, kind of bitchy reporter, but does give some good emotional scenes, although it may seem she is trying too hard. I wish these two had more scenes together to show that they could build up a great chemistry on screen. But just way too many flashbacks prohibit this.
Consensus: Although it’s plot and message seems so out-of-place by the end, The Life of David Gale, has at least two strong performances from Spacey and Winslet, as well as an interesting first two thirds of a film.
What if I saw Obama getting bust too, I think I would be acting a little like Clint.
Cat burglar Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood) finds himself in the president’s doghouse when he spies the chief executive (Gene Hackman) trysting with a trophy wife. When their rough romancing turns lethal, efforts to cover up the scandalous situation spiral violently out of control. Now, Luther must survive a desperate pursuit from the back streets of the nation’s capital to the halls of power.
I can’t lie when I say this, but Eastwood is one of the better actor turned directors, in the history of film. I mean he does make a film almost every year, but still he makes films that are entertaining enough, to where you aren’t bored with his films. This one here is no different.
While Absolute Power isn’t a particularly great thriller, it still was rather entertaining in a quiet sort of way. Maybe that was the problem, Eastwood’s little thriller about political abuse was more about Eastwood’s relationship with his estranged daughter, played professionally by Laura Linney, than about anything really exciting or original. If the film was just about the reconciliation of father and daughter, it might have worked more for me.
Also, the fact of a standing president being almost directly involved with a murder of a well known wife of the philanthropist that put him in office, all feels a little implausible and Eastwood just could not quite make it plausible.
The emotional stuff worked so well here it was hard to see it get tonned down, by the kind of unbelievable plot. It moves slow and at times, the film doesn’t quite focus on the main plot at hand, but overall the film sort of still works. I mean the things that really work, as I mentioned before, is that the film has a lot of good screen time dedicated to its characters. I thought it was cool to see how all these different people interacted with each other, and the believable dialogue that followed their conversations. The suspense does build up to the end, even though there is a pretty shallow ending.
Eastwood’s role here is still one of the highlights of the movie, cause he isn’t what you would expect from good ole’ Clint. He isn’t a grumpy-gilled, old man, instead he is very smart, and still has a lot of things in his life that he wishes he would have changed, and you can see that in his performance. The others in the cast are good to like Ed Harris playing his usual bad-ass self, and Laura Linney surprisingly bringing a lot of emotion to her character that I wasn’t expecting, but the big disappointment in this movie was Gene Hackman. I reviewed Welcome to Mooseport awhile back, and that film had Hackman playing the president, but it was a good performance, and it seemed like he had a lot of fun with it. Here, his screen-time was taken down, and his performance was too one-note. We only saw this president that was an asshole, and why would we ever want him nominated in the first place.
Consensus: Though it isn’t Eastwood’s best mostly due to its unbelievable story, Absolute Power still has great moments of emotion, suspense that works, and good performances, despite a disappointing Hackman performance.
Thee boys reunite over a lost childhood, in both ways.
Tragedy reunites childhood friends Sean (Kevin Bacon), Dave (Tim Robbins) and Jimmy (Sean Penn) when they’re linked together in the Boston-based murder investigation of Jimmy’s teenage daughter. But while detective Sean works the case, Jimmy launches his own quest for the truth.
Mystic River is Clint Eastwood’s 24th directorial effort and it is one of his best. This is an extremely well-crafted and powerful film that shows us the real feelings of a childhood lost. Mystic River is based off of the novel from Brian Hegeland which works both as a taut thriller and a important character study.
After seeing all, the critical acclaim this film has gotten I will say that I was expecting to be taken away with one of the greatest films I have ever seen. But to be truly honest I wasn’t. Much of the story is great but there are some plot holes that I just didn’t believe such as the plot concerning Sean and his wife how she always calls but doesn’t say a word. Also Tim Robbins’ character as a young boy was molested, and throughout the whole movie he just acts like a nutcase, and throughout the whole time I was thinking, how did this guy have a smoking hot wife and a kid.
I liked how the film shows how these three men’s lives were changed when the incident with Tim Robbins occurred. The film isn’t a fast-paced thriller, but features elements that everything mysterious and wrong all lurk in the air.
Its a tremendously powerful film about the American tragedy that features characters that I did actually believe. I felt like the setting they were in was very true and actually was a character in the movie itself, and how each character reacts with one another felt true as well.
The performances are what really captivated me in this film however. The whole star-studded cast does a great job and all the performances jell together really well when their all on screen at once. Sean Penn gives one of the best performances of his career, and shows that he can take your typical average working American and switch him into something more than just that. There is a scene where he finds out his daughter has been killed and it is amazing to see his reaction, that scene though so early in the film kept me standing in my one spot. Tim Robbins does a great job as well despite his character being a little nutty, but he plays him real well.
The problem with this film that ultimately killed it for me was the ending. I don’t want to give anything big away but the ending was total junk. I felt that by the end of the film it was supporting murder, and vigilante justice, and didn’t make any sense or create a feeling of anything was right in this film.
Consensus: With some upsetting plot holes, Mystic River is well-acted, suspenseful, and full of great emotional power that shows a great portrait of real characters in real situations.
Through all of these years I have watched and loved Edward Norton movies. Then I wonder where was his start? Now I found out, its in a courtroom drama starring my all-time favorite (sarcasm), Richard Gere.
Primal Fear is a 1996 motion picture which tells a story of a defense attorney (Richard Gere) who defends an altar boy (Edward Norton) charged with the murder of a Catholic archbishop. On the other side of the courtroom defending the archbishop is Gere’s ex-girlfriend, played by Laura Linney.
The film does not take full part inside of the courtroom, most of the time its either outside on the streets or in Norton’s cell. For this film to be truly great and effective I would’ve preferred their to be time inside of the courtroom and have more of the drama stems from inside there. But only about a total of 40 min. from the film is inside the courtroom, and the rest is filmed outside, which I think kills all the suspense and drama this film could’ve really built on.
Richard Gere ,who in case you all know I strongly dislike with a passion, actually does try his hardest to give a grade A performance. Though his character is so egotistical and arrogant its hard to root for him as this case goes on. Though Edward Norton, one of my favorites, does a phenomenal job at portraying Aaron Stampler. You can feel the emotion for this poor character and have a sort of sympathy for him as his case goes along. Laura Linney in her own right does a very respectable job as the one lawyer who fights hard for justice, as they all do.
However, I thought the script was too cliche written and featured many predictable happenings. With a better screenplay and better direction this film could’ve been a total courtroom classic. But in all fairness it’s not, and without an incredible performance by Norton and a crazy twist ending this film would’ve fallen under the waist side.