Even without guns and cars, I’d still be pretty freakin’ scared to go toe-to-toe with a gangster from the 1800′s. Especially, if they were in-character the whole time.
Taking place in New York City around the 19th Century, the son of a gang leader named Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) comes back to his hometown in order to avenge his father’s death. He plans to do this by killing the leader of the Natives, a simple and kind fellow named Bill Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis). By the way, the “simple and kind” statement, was bullshit. The guys fuckin’ crazy.
Apparently, this was a “dream project” for director Martin Scorsese for about 5 or 6 years that took longer than he expected to actually get made. Like all dream projects we have in our minds, we joggle them around forever, and actually crash-down to reality and realize, “oh shit, this is going to take longer than I ever wanted to”. Yeah, even directors feel that way and yes, even Marty Scorsese apparently too. It was reported to cost over 100 million dollhairs, took months and months to build actual sets of the film, needed to go through tons of editing, and was released in December of 2002, a year later than it originally had planned. Usually when this kind of crap happens, this usually shows trouble with the overall film quality, regardless of who the actual director is. Thankfully, Marty is unlike any other and that’s all that matters.
What I liked most about this flick is how Marty tackles the same exact style of gangsters, crooks, and bastards in the 1880′s, the same way he would with the ones of the 1900′s. There’s a very fast-paced essence and feel to the whole film that keeps you on-edge as to what’s going to happen next, what characters are going to be finito by the end, and when this final-battle between the two opposing sides is actually going to occur. Now, does it look and feel like an actual Scorsese flick? Not really, but that’s what’s so interesting about the guy. He’s able to change-up certain trademarks he has about himself and give a new story, a whole different type of look and feel you wouldn’t quite expect from him. It does get pretty damn violent at times, so there’s the obvious trademark for ya, but regardless of how many trademarks are shown in here, it’s still pretty damn entertaining to watch even if you have seen it over 5 times and can calculate everything now, like yours truly.
However, as many times as I have sat-down and watched this 2-and-a-half-hour-movie and been entertained by it, I still can’t deny that there lies a whole butt-load of problems brewing beneath the surface. First of all, one of the biggest hints that this film was going to have trouble with itself was the fact that it has three writers working on it (Jay Cocks, Steve Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan). Usually, that spells out trouble and that’s exactly what we get here as this film tackles a bit more than it can get away with. In fact, it actually seems like these writers were all given different subjects to write about, understand, and bring back to Marty so they could make one, big, and long epic about life in NYC in the 1800′s. That idea, in case you were confused by what I was saying, does not work here as it’s too many ideas, with too little of a pay-off.
The whole idea is about gangs that hide out and cause havoc in New York, which makes a compelling and entertaining watch on it’s own, but then, once you add all of those other ingredients in, it get’s a bit over-stuffed to the point of where you have no freakin’ clue what this movie is trying to talk about or even convey. Is is about a young dude getting revenge on the guy who murdered his dad? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about a possible “romance” between this young dude and untrustworthy gal? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about the history of New York in the 1800′s? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about the war and how everybody had to take part in it? Yes, well, sort of. Or, is this flick all about how politics usually came into play with the gangs and how they all acted around one another? Once again, yes, well, sort of. As you can tell, this film touches on too many subjects, adds in too many subplots, and juggles too many ideas, which shouldn’t have been such a huge problem, given the time-limit offered to the script, but somehow it just does not work altogether and seems jumbled around like the best bits of an musician’s career. However, these “best bits”, aren’t really the best. They’re slightly mediocre to say the least.
Probably the most compelling story of all should have been the whole revenge tale with this young dude going after the man that killed his father when he was a child and he vowed at nothing to stop him from succeeding at that. However, that whole story seems a bit half-baked considering we barely get to see the young dude with his father as a kid; barely get to see how all of this has an effect on him as an slightly older dude and constantly being in that man’s presence; and barely get any tension except for the last 20 minutes where everything really comes into play. And heck, even that final stand-off doesn’t really count, for reasons I can’t state.
Speaking of the ending, some people freakin’ despise it and count it as one of the worst of all-time (and once you see it, you’ll know why), but I actually thought it was a pretty clever way to allow it to tie into history and give it more of an importance in terms of how we view New York City now, and how it really was. Yeah, it wasn’t the best way that a genius like Scorsese could come-up with and yeah, it may have dropped the ball on some fun and excitement, but it still was pretty neat to see how everything was going to be tied around in a nice little bow at the end. It comes off as a nice reminder that NYC has history and is a beautiful place to live, which was an idea that some people may have brushed-off to the sides during the lean days of ’02.
Despite all of this bad talk, I still had a lot more fun with this flick because of the performances from an impressive ensemble that Marty always has a knack for casting well. Leonardo DiCaprio proves he is able to take on a stronger, more dramatic role as a young kid going through a bit of a crisis and makes Amsterdam a believable, and compelling character to watch. It’s also better since the guy is easy to get behind and can practically kick anybody’s ass, but doesn’t get too in-over-his-head like most characters of this same-exact convention usually do. The kid may not always have a huge ounce of charm to his look and personality, but it’s Leo, and the guy is always great to watch on-screen and you can’t help but root for Amsterdam as things start to go from better-to-worse, sooner than later. Then, there’s Cameron Diaz, who I am not a very big fan of but is serviceable in a role that could have easily gone to any other actress and still been as good or entertaining. That’s not really a good thing or bad thing, it’s just that her character doesn’t offer much to really intrigue you and Diaz doesn’t help us with that much, either.
But despite these two, the one who really steals the show is none other than the man, the myth, the effin’ crazy man who stayed in-character the whole time during the making of this flick: Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill Cutting, or as my dad likes him to be referred to as, Bill the Butcher. Cutting is a very fun character to watch and the fact that he’s played by Daniel Day just makes him all the more compelling to keep your eye on as every chance he gets, he proves to you why this guy can never be trusted and why so many damn people in the city fear him for the things he can do. Cutting is a bit caricaturish, but Daniel Day makes sure it doesn’t get too over-the-top and strangely, keeps the guy human and believable in his own, sadistic way. There’s the one memorable scene that really touched me where he’s talking to Amsterdam about the only man that was worth remembering that he killed (Amsterdam’s father) and it gives us a wonderful look-see into a man that does some pretty terrible and evil things, but still feels something for the people he kills, even if they are his biggest enemies. Daniel Day is electrifying in this role and makes it all the more fun to watch, but sadly, he is probably the only interesting character of the bunch, and he’s the freakin’ bad-guy you’re supposed to despise!
Consensus: Gangs of New York struggles with way too many ideas, themes, and a bunch of plot-points that never come fully-realized, but has a very entertaining feel and vibe to it, that places you in this setting of New York City during the 1800′s, and features compelling performances from everybody involved, including the magnetic Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill Cutting/the Butcher.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
God, I wish I was as cool as these guys. I seriously do.
Dapper Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is a man of action. Less than 24 hours into his parole from a New Jersey penitentiary, the wry, charismatic thief is already rolling out his next plan. Following three rules – don’t hurt anybody, don’t steal from anyone who doesn’t deserve it and play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose – Danny orchestrates the most sophisticated, elaborate casino heist in history. This is where the fun begins in Ocean’s eyes, and you know what? His eyes do not deceive him a single-bit.
Heist flicks are and have always been a favorite of mine, and to feature a cast with the likes of Clooney, Damon, Cheadle, Pitt, Mac, Reiner, and even Affleck (Casey, that is), you know I was even more excited because it seemed like the perfect-opportunity for a bunch of guys to just pal-around, have a good time, and pull-off some neat-o heists. However, just to make sure that this isn’t one, long bro-sesh from start-to-finish, we got Steven Soderbergh at the helm to keep everything under control and honestly, what better man to do that then the guy who has made one of the greatest heist/crime flicks of all-time, Out of Sight? Well, you could probably argue Tarantino or Scorsese, or plenty of others, but if you were to really get down to the nitty-gritty of it, I think you would be pretty damn fine with having Soderbergh behind it all, because I definitely was.
Having a guy like Steven Soderbergh doing your film means one thing and one thing only: it’s going to have a crap-load of style. And that’s not really a bad thing at all, because with a generic and relatively conventional story like this, you need that to add more pizzazz and spice to the whole-product, even though it’s obviously apparent that’s what Soderbergh is relying on the most. However, it didn’t get in the way of material and you can’t help but just love the fact that Soderbergh gives the flick a more-polished look than you are used to seeing with heists, but also realize that it makes the setting it takes place-in, all the more beautiful and smoother in it’s own, coolio way. Soderbergh is the man of being cool, looking cool, and filming cool, and he was definitely the perfect-choice for material like this.
There’s also a great-deal of fun and entertainment that Soderbergh brings to this flick and it’s not just all about the style, either, it’s more about the actual heist itself, and keeping you constantly wondering, guessing, and figuring-out how it’s all going to play-out in your mind and on-screen. Soderbergh definitely does a little-job of trickery here and there with this heist and the twists and turns it takes, but that just adds more to the overall enjoyment of what we all see and it’s perfect since everything until then, was all just one, big lead-up to what was going to go down. We see bits and pieces of how this heist is going to go down, but not enough, so that when the heist does go through and we see everything that goes-down, we’re not only surprised, but pretty gripped to our seat, as you don’t really know how it’s going to turn-out for this cats in the end. Sooderbergh has as much fun with this as his cast does, but by doing-so, he allows us to just revel in his enjoyment in making the material and it’s no surprise that the guy came-back for 2 more of these flicks. However, more on them later as the reviews keep on coming, so just you wait DTMMR readers/follows out there!
Topping-off this cake of coolness, with a sweet, little cherry on-top is the cast that is filled to the brim with the coolest mofo’s on the planet, and some, you have yet to even know are cool just yet. George Clooney is the brains behind the whole operation as Danny Ocean and is cool, lean, and suave, exactly as we know and love him to be. Clooney sort of takes the background in this flick and allows the rest of his cast to show-off and do their thing, but whenever he gets a chance to show why he’s so cool, he does it with perfection. Damn that George Clooney. Playing the “other” brains behind the operation is Brad Pitt as Rusty Ryan, a dude that knows it all, can walk the walk, and talk the talk. Pitt’s good at playing cool and smart, we all know him for that, and we all love him for that. ‘Nuff said about that. Matt Damon is the new-blood of the gang and does a great-job at playing up that cocky-rookie look to him, while also being able to put-up, when shut-up time is right there, in front of his face. Not the most memorable performance from Damon but the guy sure as hell can act and make any role, seem like the perfect-fit for him.
Playing the opposite-side of these fast-cats is Andy Garcia, aka, the guy who owns the casino that they are robbing, Terry Benedict. Garcia is a tough-guy that you really feel like can’t be out-smarted, no matter who the person/people doing the out-smarting are. Garcia’s got a lot of intimidating-looks in those eyes and you never quite know if he’s going to pull-off the win in the end, or just give it to Ocean’s dudes. Once again, it’s a tense-ride to the finish that you never quite know where it’s going to end-up or how, for that matter. Julia Roberts is fine as Benedict’s gal/Ocean’s ex-gal, but does her usual, “I’m-Julia-Roberts-And-My-Shit-Don’t-Stink” act that some love her for, some hate her for, and some are just tired and bored of her for playing so much. Me, I linger somewhere around the latter and as juicy and spicy as the scenes with Clooney may be, her character is still Julia Roberts, playing Julia Roberts.
Everybody else in this cast is pretty damn fine as you’ll see a crap-load of familiar faces pop-up, do their thing, and be done with it and continue onto the road. Seriously, everybody is good except for Don Cheadle as Basher, who is supposed to be channeling this wry, British-accent that goes in-and-out like a you know what, and is even more distracting to this character, because every time he’s talking, it just sounds like Don Cheadle trying hard to sound British. And yes, Cheadle does have a very distinctive voice that is easy to point-out as to when it’s real, when it’s being fake, and when it’s trying to be British. Oh well, I guess this cat needed to have one bad performance to throw in there for his whole filmography. Bastard.
As fun and exciting as this flick may be, you really do just end the film, happy as a fly, and continue on with your day as if nothing happened. In a way, that’s not such a terrible thing to have in life, considering it’s a happy-thought, but in other ways, it’s a bit of a disappointment considering the cast and crew that was on-display here. Yes, it’s fun, exciting, and entertaining for the 2 hours it’s alive and well on the big-screen, but other than that, you don’t have much else to really hold you over or make you think of anything afterwards either. I don’t know, maybe I was just expecting a bit too much more than I was given, but I definitely feel like there should have been more for me to seize-onto at the end, no matter how conventional or obvious it was trying to be.
Consensus: Ocean’s Eleven is no game-changer in terms of heist movies, but is still entertaining, fun, exciting, well-acted, and just really, really cool, almost to the point of where you feel cool for watching it but you soon realize, that you’re just a poor college student who drives a 2005 Scion, and has about $20 in your wallet as you speak. Yeah, I’m speaking from my point-of-view, but if only I wasn’t. If only dreams really could come true, after all.
Do con-men and women really look this dashing? If so, I’m not cut-out for the job.
Lilly Dillon (Huston) is a veteran con artist who begins to rethink her life when her son Roy (Cusack), a small-time grifter, suffers an almost-fatal injury when hit with a thrust from the blunt end of a baseball bat, right after a failed scam. However, she doesn’t realize that her boy has fixed himself up with a dame (Annette Bening) that may not seem to be all that she appears to be.
Calling this movie a “thriller” would not be doing it any justice, and I’m still contemplating on whether or not it’s the good type of justice, or the bad. Good, mainly because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool, but at the same time, bad, because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool. See, it’s not the type of film about cons that you’d expect. It’s not filled with a big-heist, it’s not filled with thrilling suspense and action to hold you over, and it’s not even really filled with that many twists or turns. Instead, it’s sort of like the day-time soap opera version of a movie about cons and that’s both good, and bad. It’s very love-hate with me here, and I think you’re about to find that out.
The problem I ran into with this flick was that I feel like it would be going-on in such a slow, tedious-pace that it almost felt deliberate. Most movies that have this slow pace, usually do it for the same reasons that this flick did it, but it works a lot better for them since it’s exactly how the story should be told and judges how effective it will be to the viewer. However, with a story/movie like this, the slower-pace doesn’t quite work as well as it might think and continued to piss me off, because every time the film felt like it was really getting somewhere and picking-up itself and all of the pieces it was leaving on the ground, it would just stop, take a moment to pause, and jog it’s way through.
It was like me in a 5k mile run. I start off so perfectly, then I realize I put too much energy into the first 5 minutes, then I decide to slow things down, almost to the point of where I begin to walk, then, I get some inspiration and energy in my step and begin to run again, and then so-on, and so-forth, all up-until I get to the finish-line and everybody treats me like I just cured cancer, even despite me coming in 2nd to last place. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes with me (I obviously always win those runs, obviously…), but that’s how I felt with this flick and I feel like director Stephen Frears was just toying with me on-purpose. In some ways that works and makes the flick seem less predictable as it strings along, but in other ways, it just feels cheap and sort of like the director wants to be like the characters and play a sick, cat-and-mouse game that some people may not be too happy with in the end when they find out what’s to come of it all.
However, I can’t hate on Frears too much because no matter how slow and languid the pace got, I was always interested in seeing what was going to happen next. The story definitely takes it’s fair-share of detours into the past and they are definitely what feature the most energy and fun of the whole flick, but whenever it focuses on these characters, what they’re doing now, how they’re getting their money, and who’s playing who, the film still stays fun, if not all that energetic as the flashback sequences. Seeing cons do their thing like no other is always a blast to see on-screen and rather than just having it be a flick that exposes trick-after-trick, we get more of a balanced look at how broken and dull some of these cons lives are, and how money cannot buy them happiness and instead, only buys them more trouble. You actually care for these characters and that’s only what raises the stakes even more when the unpredictable-factor of this story comes into play, and you feel like you have no idea where it’s going to go or how, you just know that somebody is playing somebody. Then again, when you think about life and all that is: aren’t we all?
Okay, away from the philosophical ramblings of a 19-year-old film critic, back to the movie at-hand here. Yeah, the Grifters. I think without this trio of leads that the flick features, it probably would have folded underneath it’s own weight but thankfully, this trio of leads are here and are here to give some magnificent performances that stick with you, long after the flick is over. Before ’90, John Cusack was mainly known for racing randomly in the streets and always knowing the right Peter Gabriel track to have the ladies swooning, but once the year 1990 actually hit and this flick came-around, people began to look at him differently and realize something about him: this guy’s all grown-up. Cusack never really got a chance to stretch his acting-skills back in those days, mainly because everybody thought he was made for just hooking-up with high-school girls and in a way, they may have been right, but Cusack proved them all wrong and showed that the guy could play a sly, evil son-of-a-bitch that was as slick as they come and didn’t know when to stop pulling-in jobs and ranking-up the dough. Cusack always seems like a believable character and that’s all because the guy never over-does his whole cool essence and look to his act and always seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody else in the flick, as well as the audience themselves, yet, we always like him and cheer for him as things begin to go South for his hormones and his job. I guess being a con is considered a job and if so, he definitely must have had to won “Employee of the Month”, at least once.
Anjelica Huston plays his mommy, who just so happens to be 14-years-older than him and shows you that the gal can, as usual, play a strong-willed and big-brained, female-lead like no other and as much as this may seem like a convention of hers by now, I still can’t hold that against her. Huston’s great with this role and you always wonder whether or not she is Roy’s mom, his lover, a past-fling, or simply, just some chick who’s trying to play a con on him and get his stash of cash. Like the rest of the characters in this trio, you never know what’s up with her and what her next move is going to be, but like typical, Huston-fashion, she always keeps you guessing and interested. Still, I was just waiting for that wig to come off. I could not believe how legitimate it truly was in terms of the story and setting.
The best out of this trio, and the one who really stands-out among the rest is probably Annette Bening as Myra, the fellow-squeeze of Roy. Bening, no offense to her or her looks, has never really been the type of actress that I could really declare “sexy”, “hot”, or even one that I would just have to take to bed, if I saw her in real-life (because they all would go to be with me, let’s face it), but here, she totally had me re-think that. Bening uses her flair for sexuality and nudity to her advantage and has her character come-off as a bit of a tramp, but a smart tramp at best, and a tramp that knows exactly what she’s doing, even if the others may not be able to catch onto it right just yet. Out of of the three, you’ll be wondering the most what side Bening’s is on and when you finally get your answer, you may be shocked, you may not be, but what you will be, is surprised by how much Bening uses the look and feel of sex-appeal to make a character that’s full of it, really, really work.
Consensus: Stephen Frears’ direction definitely makes you feel as if he is just playing with you, just in-order to be more like his subjects, but that’s why The Grifters does, and does not work in it’s own right. However, you can’t deny the charm and power that is within these three performances and it’s just wonderful to see them act each-and-every-single-one of their asses off, even if the pace seems to not be serving them the full-plate that they so rightfully deserves.
This is exactly what a teenager’s life is like: confusing as hell.
Anna Paquin stars as a 17-year old girl named Lisa Cohen who has to deal with her regular life as a conflicted teenager as well as the moral, legal and sexual pitfalls of the adult world. She struggles with what is right and wrong after taking witnessing the seemingly accidental death of a woman and fighting the ever-building guilt resulting from her role in it.
Holy hell is it a total surprise that I actually got the chance to view this movie! This film has been basically sitting on the shelf for about 6 years now, all because of the fact that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan had an over 3–page script, that made the movie run for as long as 3 hours. Apparently, the studios didn’t like this idea he had and they made him try to shorten up the run-time to make it under 2 hours. Surprisingly, nobody got their way because the film got cut-down to a 150-minute time-limit (all thanks to the master of swift editing, Martin Scorsese) and despite a pretty big-name cast, the film was released in limited theaters, barely even seeing the light of day. Thankfully, that’s what DVD-viewing is all about baby.
So after going over the whole history of this movie for you in that last paragraph, you would think that a production this troubled goes two ways: either it’s a unknown masterpiece that only people who go out there and reach for it, will love until the day they die, or, it’s just a bunch donkey crap, that should have just stay shelved. Somehow, the film is somewhere in the middle and I don’t really know where I stand on this flick just yet, however, being the dedicated critic that I am, I’m going to give it my all just for you kind souls out there who actually give a crap what I have to say about this little indie.
There’s a lot to this film, maybe almost too much, but from what I was getting most of the times with this flick worked for me because of Lonergan’s superb writing. This is a very dramatic but heartfelt story about a young girl who’s coming to terms with the world she lives in and she’s starting to realize just what this world is really like, for all of the good and for all of the bad. Obviously this isn’t something new, daring, or original but Lonergan makes every scene, no matter how random or awkward, seem real and to be honest, a lot of these scenes and what he’s having these character say, did ring true to me.
I am not a young lady, never have been, and maybe never will, but I can definitely say that a lot of Lisa’s problems that she goes through here aren’t just what young ladies go through, but young adults in general. Everybody around you just annoys you, you want to get your point out there to the best of your ability, everybody is out to get you, and at the end of the day, you just want to be understood and listened to. This is how a teenager thinks and Lonergan gets us inside the mind of a teenager, by showing us your typical, everyday one that just so happens to be dealing with one of the most traumatic moments in her life so far. She’s confused, she’s guilty, she’s angry, she’s horny, she’s misunderstood, she’s scared, and she’s so many other things, but this is exactly how a young person is, especially when you live in a world like the one Lisa lives in where everybody seems to be just at your neck, no matter what it is you do or say. This provides some real, heart-breaking emotional context for a character that seems so based in her own reality, that you just don’t want to see her have her heart broken when she realizes one thing about the world: it’s not all sunshine and daisies. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there that you may have to be ready to fight off every once and awhile. Maybe that’s a little bit too much of my left-over teenage angst coming out, but it still seems true and reasonable considering the film I’m discussing here.
No matter how great most of that teenage angst stuff may be, the film still feels very stuffed together and I was sort of left wondering why they didn’t just take a risk and end up going with the 3-hour version instead. There is about 4 or 5 subplots here that could have been taken out, but instead, Lonergan leaves them in and has them pop-up at some of the most random parts throughout the flick, without us ever getting a chance to fully feel for them and get behind them. I get it, Lisa’s life is hectic and has a lot going on it, but did we really need those 5 scenes with her and her daddy (Kenneth Lonergan himself in a very greedy role) just talking about random ish? Or what about that little teacher-student “relationship” she may be trying to get with a hot and young male teacher, played Matt Damon? Oh, and let’s not forget about some of the random class-room scenes where Matthew Broderick actually gets mad over a kid totally schooling him in Shakespearean comprehension? There’s a lot of material that could have been easily cut-out here. Or, if they really wanted to, which they obviously didn’t, but if they did, they could have went with the 3-hour version that Lonergan proposed in the first place and we could have had a more coherent and understandable story that lays everything out for you all nice and even.
But even with this edited-down version that were given here, some of it almost feels like Lonergan’s coming on a little too strong with his numerous ideas and messages he’s trying to get across. There’s a lot of discussion about a post-9/11 New York that is very realistic, but also feels very random and pushy, as if Lonergan was trying to find a way to voice his own opinions about what’s happening to the area after that disastrous day, so thought the easiest way would to have kids yell and holler at each other about. Doesn’t feel right for this film, given the story itself, and I think Lonergan kind of loses his head a little bit with what he’s trying to say but after awhile, I just didn’t care and tried my hardest to get involved with this story, as crazy as it could be.
Seeing this movie now, in the year 2012, you have to wonder what a bummer it must have been for Anna Paquin to just see her high-rising, dramatic acting career, go almost to nowhere because honestly, this is a phenomenal performance, if not, the best I’ve seen from her, ever (still haven’t seen The Piano so bear with me for a little while). Lisa Cohen is not a very sympathetic character and she definitely is not a very emotionally-grounded character, and it’s one that Paquin plays up perfectly on almost all-sides. We see Lisa for all that she feels, all that she does, and all that she wants to do, and even though not all of her choices may be the most morally correct, they are still her choices and we have to accept them for what they are because she is a human nonetheless. Paquin was about 23 when this film was made, so it seems a little strange for her to be off playing 17-year olds, but she pulls it off perfectly and makes you believe that she really is this confused and bewildered young woman that just wants to do what she thinks is right, even if it may not have the best consequences for all involved. Yeah, I know that Paquin’s got it big now with her role on True Blood, but this film would have definitely made us think twice about her acting, whenever we saw her kill some dude by kissing him. Rogue reference, in case you didn’t catch on!
While you probably wouldn’t have been able to tell from my whole review, trailers, or poster, this film is much more about Lisa’s mom then it is about her, and I think with good reason. J. Smith-Cameron is somebody I haven’t ever really seen too much of in movies and with a performance she gives here as Lisa’s mom, I have to say I’m going to look for her more now because this gal knocks this performance right out of the park. Even though I do think that some of her scenes, just the ones where it’s her all by herself, could have been cut-out, she still gives us a sympathetic mother character that wants nothing more but to connect with her daughter like she feels like she should, but no matter how hard she tries, she still can’t seem to break the ice between them and get them together, connecting once again. It’s a sad thing to see in a film like this because you know this is how it is for almost all mothers having to deal with young adults in the house and Smith-Cameron plays it up just about as perfectly as Paquin does with her own character. They also fight like a real mother-daughter combo and that’s pretty damn impressive if you ask me.
Consensus: With a time-limit that sort of jams everything together in a very incoherent way, Margaret can sometimes feel like a film that can never make up its mind about what it wants to do or be about, but it’s also much like it’s lead character, Lisa, played to perfection from Anna Paquin. It’s a little-known flick that makes me want to see it again, just as long as I can get a hold of the 3-hour director’s cut. That’s if they actually have one for this movie.
Think of it as Cast Away, with instead of Wilson, there’s a shit-load of CGI.
This is the story an Indian boy named Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) from Pondicherry who survives 227 days after a shipwreck, while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. However, like any 227-day trip with a Bengal tiger, it doesn’t go so smoothly.
An adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel was definitely one that needed to wait-out it’s time. It was called unfilmable for many reasons, but one of the main ones being the fact that the story mainly-revolves around a boy, stuck in a boat with a tiger. The only way you could have ever shot this movie with an actual-tiger still in-play, would be to have it utterly and completely stoned, and I think instead of eating the actor, the tiger would just go for the nearest Cheetos bag. So, obviously filming it conventionally was already-out before anybody could put it in, but what about the art and magic that is cinema? Can all of the money in the world ($10 million to be exact) make a CGI-tiger, look as real as the ones you see eating zebras alive on the Discovery Channel?
The answer to that is with an upstanding yes! Director Ang Lee once again shows that he is able to find beauty in any story he feels the need to tell, and he finds it here in the best-way with some of the most-realistic, beautiful special-effects I have seen in quite some time. With well-established directors like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese both trying their aims at 3-D and doing a relatively nice-job in their efforts, it is so great to see a director that has never messed with this technology before, and just really give-it-his-all and give us a mesmerizing picture from start-to-finish.
And when I mean “start-to-finish”, I mean exactly that. Everything not only looks as realistic as you can get in terms of the animals involved, but the constant-colors that just pop-out of each and every scene really kept me looking the whole-time. You think by watching the trailer that you saw all you needed to see in terms of how gorgeous and stunning this film looks, but trust me, you haven’t. Certain things that you didn’t even think were possible to do with CGI-animation, let alone 3D, is done here and will take you by-storm by just how much effort and energy Lee puts into this new-found love of telling a story. I honestly cannot tell you enough: go see this movie in 3D and realize that maybe it’s the directors like Lee, Scorsese, and Spielberg who should be throwing out 3D movies instead of chumps like Timur Bekmambetov and Scott Speer. In case you couldn’t tell, Speer directed Step Up Revolution (trust me, I have no idea why I saw it either) and Timur directed the OTHER Honest Abe movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Keep on giving 3D to legendary directors that know how to work this kind of stuff, and keep it away from guys who literally are only doing it to “up” their box-office sales. And 9 times out of 10, it doesn’t even help.
But in case you haven’t been able to notice already, I’ve only been mentioning the 3D and visuals of this movie and that’s mainly because the story kind of loses itself, as well as this movie. Watching the trailers, seeing the previews on TV, and even looking at that poster up-above, will already have you know that this is about a boy and a tiger lost at-sea, but little do you know that that whole-factor doesn’t play, until about 30 minutes in and we have to deal with an introduction to this kid’s life that is unexpected and a bit annoying. I think my problem with it was that it constantly went back-and-forth between this person’s child-hood, to the present-day of when he’s talking with this reporter and after awhile, it made me wonder just when the hell the damn ship was going to sink and we could get some straight-up, survival-guide facts at-play.
After that glorious and beautiful-looking crash (gives the infamous one in Flight a run for it’s moolah) ends up happening, the story then kick-starts into what I wanted and for the most-part, it works. I really liked where Lee went with this story, how he told it in a way that didn’t seem to bore the hell out of everybody watching because of it just being a kid and a tiger treading along hopelessly at-sea, and most of all, how he didn’t find himself going back-and-forth between the past and present like he was doing in the beginning. Just let a story tell itself and you’ll be perfectly fine and that’s where the real charm and beauty in Lee’s direction plays-out. Sadly, it doesn’t last forever and the story just finds it’s way back into screwing everything up, once-again.
The problem this movie runs into by the end, without giving anything away, is that it’s ending is a bit too long, too explanatory, and mainly, not needed at all. I don’t want to get into the logistics of this ending and what happens, but it’s the same exact one they took from the book that I apparently heard about, and even though staying close to the source material is something that more directors should take from Lee, they should also take away the fact that sometimes things that play-out well in a book, don’t necessarily play-out very well on-screen. It’s novel-adapting 101: make sure the audience picks-up, what you’re throwing down, just as long as you don’t lose the audience of the book’s near-and-dear faithfuls, but also don’t lose the movie-crowd, as well. I won’t say that the ending and honor to the original source-material lost me, but I will say that it definitely killed any hopes I had of feeling emotionally-connected to this story at all. Sorry Lee, you had me crying over two gay cowboys but when it comes to a boy and a tiger, ehhh, not so much.
New-comer Suraj Sharma does a really great-job with his lead-role as Piscine Patel, and what’s more notable about this performance is how it’s his first-role ever, he had no prior acting-experience, and he was practically all by himself throughout the whole movie, in terms of acting and communicating with others. Yes, in the movie, there is a tiger there that looks just about as real as you can get, but you have to remember, that it is not a real tiger and that this Sharma kid is practically talking to the thin-air or an imaginary object. It’s sort of like how Mark Wahlberg talked to a tennis ball in-place of Ted, in well, Ted, and how he made it so damn realistic, and that’s pretty much what this Sharma kid does. He’s a believable kid that has us believe in him right from the start, he’s a kid that definitely has us feel like he can pull it out in the end, and he’s also one that seems to have a chip on his shoulder, where he knows that it’s probably not right to try and hang-out, kick-back, and try and smoke a couple of doobies with this tiger, because this thing does not play nice.
Even though it is fairly a one-man show, the movie does have some nice supporting roles, as well. Irrfan Khan is very, very good as the older Pi and shows how he has changed into a stronger, but more enthused man about life and by the end, once we learn that there is more to this character, more to him, and more to what’s on-display here, then that’s when he gets good even if the story sort of loses him in the shuffle. Rafe Spall plays the writer that interviews Pi about this miraculous story and it’s a really, really blank role that would have really benefited well if it was originally-given to Tobey Maguire. Yeah, he would have been way too familiar for this role and pretty much take us out of the story, but at least it would have been a lot more entertaining watching Peter Parker get all awkward with some guy about how he saw some of the sickest shit out there at-sea, rather than watching the guy who once-played a fake-Shakespeare. And besides, if you’re not going to put Maguire in the movie because he’s too recognizable, then don’t put Gérard Depardieu in there, either. Everybody knows who that fat slob from French is, and I highly doubt it’s going to bother-us anymore.
Consensus: With outstanding visuals that are probably some of the most realistic I have ever seen put onto screen, as well as some of the beautiful as well, Life of Pi is definitely a spectacle that’s worth venturing out to see in 3D, however, be ready for the visuals to eventually play second-fiddle to a story that isn’t all that strong to begin-with, gets a bit better, and then fizzles out with no emotional-connection whatsoever. Still, deserves to be seen.
Join Team Edward. You’ll get all coke, sex, and parties you want.
Set during a 24-hour period, Cosmopolis stars Robert Pattinson as Eric Packer, a 28-year-old newlywed billionaire who manages to lose both his fortune and bride in the span of one short day. He starts by doing one bad thing and keeps going on to the next; and you know what happens in the end? Nobody cares because he’s a little rich piece of shit.
This was a film I really wanted to like. It really was. Writer/director David Cronenberg hasn’t always been one of my favorites per se, but he’s got this unique vision when it comes to making his movies: his own ways, and I could at least respect that about him. That is, until now.
When I think about this film and what really pissed me off throughout it, I think about Cronenberg and how he easily could have made this one, crazy, effed-up wild-ride from start-to-finish. Problem is, it’s just as much the trailers’ fault as it is his. All of the teasers and trailers have been promoting this Cronenberg’s big return-t0-horror film, where R-Pat is going around, shooting guns, doing drugs, being a total a-hole, and effin’ ladies in the limo. But it’s not that at all! Instead, it’s just him going around and talking to people about absolutely nothing! Actually, I shouldn’t say that because they do actually have some conversations about the state of the world and where it’s going, but never did I feel compelled, never was I on-the-edge guessing what was going to happen next, and never was I thinking to myself, “Oh shit! All hell is about to break loose up in this bitch!”. Nope — instead I just kept dozing off and wondering when the hell it was finally going to fade to black.
That’s what really bothered me about this film: the non-stop talking. All these characters do is talk, talk, talk and that would have been fine had the script been a bit more Quentin Tarantino-, Aaron Sorkin-, or even Martin Scorsese-esque. But Cronenberg doesn’t add anything new or engaging to this script to fully keep me involved when everybody is just blubbering on about God knows what. It’s just way too dull and pretentious to keep me even somewhat intrigued. It makes me wonder if Don DeLillo’s novel was one of those situations where it looked good on paper, but when it came to be being brought-up on film, just didn’t fit. And since that’s what it seems here, it’s a real bummer because a lot of the material seems thought-provoking and very relevant if you think about how a lot of it is about the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer while encasing riots everywhere they go. Could have been so much more interesting if there was just something here to keep it going and alive.
One of the most intriguing aspects about this film that caught my eye way before I even saw a trailer for it, was the fact that Robert Pattinson was in the leading role as numb billionaire, Eric Parker. I’ll give Pattinson some slack, the kid definitely seems like he can act and actually has some skill to him, but he keeps on getting bogged down by shitty movie, after shitty movie and I thought that this was going to be his one light at the end of the tunnel. How wrong I was.
See, what Pattinson does here is exactly what he’s been accused of before: being way too dull. Eric Parker seems like one of those great characters that just wreaks of sleaze, where he doesn’t give a shit what happens to him, when it happens to him, and how, he just wants to live up his life with sex, booze, and money. That’s your typical rich dick-head that can sometimes make or break a movie depending on who’s playing them; I think it goes without saying that he breaks the hell out of this movie, in a bad way of course. I get that Parker was supposed to be a numb character that didn’t feel any sort of excitement until society has finally started crackling down into ashes, but Pattinson’s performance doesn’t bring anything else but that and by the end, it starts to feel one-note. So one-note, that even when his character starts to seem like he’s actually gaining some sort of edge towards the end, you can’t really feel it because he’s got the same type of delivery with each and every line. It was almost like Cronenberg told him to go out there and act like you’re in a zombie movie, but to be the zombie that can talk. Seriously, he’s that lifeless, which, in a way, could be the point, but it still didn’t work for me. I think this will stand as the moment where I realized that Pattinson may not have any talent at all, and is just that piece of brooding little shit that all of the dudes hate, and the girls love. Maybe that’s why K-Stew is getting so bored of him now. Heyyoh!
What’s even worse about his performance, is that when anybody else from this ensemble shows up on-screen, you barely even pay attention to him as everybody here gives it there all. The problem here is the same one that I had with Pattinson: so damn dull and lifeless. Each and every performance seems like they are just another annoying character that barely has any emotions whatsoever, and almost every supporting performance doesn’t last for more than 8 minutes on-screen. So really what you have here is a dull Robert Pattinson, running around the streets of New York (obviously filmed in Toronto), meeting up with even duller people, and at the end of it all, you’re supposed to look at the world we live in and realize something that CNN has been telling us for the past year: the economy is going way, way down-hill. Thanks Cronenberg! I really needed to wake-up and smell the cauliflower on that one!
Consensus: Cosmopolis may be a very thought-provoking and smart thing to read on-paper, but being adapted into a feature film just doesn’t cut it because of the dull performances from everybody involved, the uninteresting direction that Cronenberg goes for and succeeds in, sadly, and the ideas and insight into the world we live in that seem very current, but just don’t bring anything new to what we have already heard before.
Ken Jennings and Alex Trebek were secretly in cahoots this whole time.
This is the true story of Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), who rocketed to national fame as a repeat winner on the TV quiz show “Twenty-One.” In the late 1950s, prime-time game shows were a cultural phenomenon. But the American public didn’t realize it was being hoodwinked … until persevering congressional investigator Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) unmasked the corruption behind the show’s glittering façade.
I never fully knew anything about these cases that took place back in the 50′s but I was somehow always interested in them. However when my interest is compared to the interest of Robert Redford, I don’t even stand anywhere close.
Redford is a great actor but also a great director and he shows that well here with showing true passion that he feels for this subject material. Every little fine detail that Redford can get, he puts right up there on screen and you can feel that he not only feels strongly about what is happening here but what is also being told through these historic events.
We as people do not look at the way we make our own choices. Most of the time we look at the rewards we get from making that choice, or what happens to us after wards, or just anything that has to do with something positive coming out of the choice, but we never look at the moral side of it. Is what I am doing right, not just for me but for another person as well? There were many moments where this film brought this up and by the end of the flick a lot of it really starts to show up but not in a very over-powering way. It’s somehow a subtle message that this film shows very well without throwing it right into our faces.
Screenwriter Paul Attanasio is the real reason why this film works so well because he does a lot of great stuff with this subject matter and keeps it going and going. There is a lot of the constant talking back-and-forth between two characters with plenty of intelligence, wit, and sharpness to what everybody is saying and made this film so entertaining in the first place. It’s weird to even say that I was actually tense in many occasions and I could tell that Attanasio had a lot to do here as a screen-writer, but does a superb job at handling it all.
The problem that I had with this screenplay was that I felt it felt too much like historical fiction, which I knew that it was going for in the first place, but for some odd reason took me out of the film a bit. The film uses real characters in some real situations but then there are other times where the situations these characters find themselves into seem a bit too fake to even be considered real. Yes, I do wish these actual real-life people had these type of conversations but it was almost too hard to believe that anyone would ever talk like they were reading an Aaron Sorkin script.
Something that Redford should really receive big-time credit for was getting this whole ensemble cast together and have them all do perfect jobs. John Turturro is fun to watch as the crazy and a bit loopy former-champ, Herb Stompel, and actually provides a very zany character that is also very sad; Ralph Fiennes is just about perfect as Charles Van Doren who is so cool, so charming, and so smart that it almost is a total shocker that he ends up being a bad dude after all, and no that was not a spoiler because they basically show you within the first 20 to 30 minutes; and Paul Scofield is terrific as his father, Mark Van Doren, and makes it abundantly clear why he was the only actor from this whole cast to get nominated for an Oscar. To be honest though, how could they have picked from this huge cast of A-list actors that all have reputations to do great.
The one performance I felt that was the weakest of all was the one given by Rob Morrow as Dick Goodwin. This guy is essentially our main protagonist who goes through this whole discovery and gives us his little insight on everything, which was supposed to have us root for him but it made me just want to see more of Fiennes instead. The problem with Morrow is that this Jewish-like Brooklyn accent he does throughout the whole film seems a little too flat and almost like he just went to a baseball game in New York and came back doing impersonations of the Yankee fans for his buds. Another reason why it was a big problem because without me really being able to believe or even stand seeing Morrow up on screen, I couldn’t get behind him fully and that sort of created an empty center.
Consensus: Robert Redford may lose some moments in script-writing with Quiz Show but other than it’s amazing with pitch-perfect performances from the whole cast (except for maybe Morrow), a nice deal of subject material goes a long way, and just a great message about morals and why they should come in the way of almost every decision we ever make in our lives, even if it does concern a game-show. That Robert Redford, not only is he handsome as hell, he can write and direct like a legend.
Boston accents always create a good movie.
While an undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) curries favor with the mob kingpin (Jack Nicholson), a career criminal (Matt Damon) rises through the police ranks. But both sides soon discover there’s a mole among them.
Martin Scorsese is a man among men. He always knows the perfect way to tell a story, and show it with his only little trade-marks. And even though this is based pretty closely to a Hong Kong film, it is still no exception.
Scorsese does a great job of keeping our attentions. This story gets a little crazy at points, but Scorsese handles it so well that we can’t help but to keep our eyes on the screen. That’s probably the best thing that Scorsese does, he can have anyone watch his film no matter how long, or sometimes ridiculous it may be. He has the perfect knack for capturing intense suspense and that constant moving back, and as well as the perfect tone for a gangster movie in the 21st century. There’s now cell-phones, texting, and internet, but not much has changed when it comes to gangsters, and Scorsese doesn’t lose his flavor.
I think my favorite element of this movie was the script. Judging from this plot, you would think that this is totally a super cereal gangster drama, however, it’s got plenty of comedy to have you laughing the whole way through. I actually caught myself laughing at plenty of these one-liners and probably because they happen out of nowhere, and when the films trying to be the most serious it can be. There is also a lot of interesting double-crossing, and morality themes here as well that totally seal the deal on this package.
The acting for the most part is actually pretty good here. Leonardo DiCaprio, as always does a great job with William Costigan Jr., keeping this film together with his signature toughness, with a tint of likability, that has us cheering him on the whole movie. Matt Damon is also good as Colin Sullivan, and is always good but he plays kind of a bad guy here and his decisions aren’t always the best, and you kind of start to hate him at points. Never thought I would start to hate him, but Matt sure can do it. Jack Nicholson plays mob boss, Frank Costello. He does a good job, but he doesn’t perfect the job which kind of had me a little bit disappointed, because with this role he could have totally been sweeping the Oscars. The problem is that he does a bit too much of ad-libbing, and over-acting, so we kind of get a little annoyed of his character and want him to do something a little bit more new, and cool. But he is still the man so don’t get me wrong. Mark Wahlberg got an Oscar nomination for his performance as Sergeant Dignam, and I’m glad he did because he really knocks his role out of the park. His character wasn’t even in the original film, so he had to basically make this character from scratch, and does a perfect job bringing so much comedy to this film, that he’s the character at the end of the film you probably remember the most. Vera Farmiga is also here and plays Damon’s love interest, Madolyn, and this is one of her earlier roles, and shows that she can hang with the big boys. There are others in this cast that are amazing such as Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winstone, and randomly everybody’s favorite black man, Anthony Anderson.
This film is very very close to being perfect but its big problem comes in its last 15 minutes. I think the whole film had so much steam in its story that when the end actually had to come around, it didn’t quite know where to go so it just sort of lingered around. The film spends a great deal developing these characters so perfectly and well, that it was just a shame that Scorsese let them practically fly out the window by the end. I wish the ending was better, but I still can’t lie it was suitable, just could have been better.
Consensus: A fearless direction from Scorsese, perfect screenplay, and great acting makes The Departed a crime/mob classic for the ages. The ending may have not been the best way to go out for this film, but the whole film keeps your attention, and that is something that makes this a near-perfect film.
Martin Scorsese, doing period pieces??
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Newland Archer, a well-bred New Yorker engaged to an appropriate match: cultured May Welland (Winona Ryder). But when her alluring cousin, Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), comes along, Archer puts society’s mores to the test.
Martin Scorsese is most known for directing all the violent gangster epics, and places this film in New York, but in the 1870s, where the violence isn’t physical, its psychological.
Scorsese’s direction is what really wins this film over, because unlike many other period pieces, this does not get very boring. The film isn’t lightning quick fast like Goodfellas, or Mean Streets, but it still has that fairly mild pacing that keeps our eyes glued to the screen. There is also plenty of great things to look at, with many vibrant colors coming into one scene, and then another, showing this world as if it were a rainbow, with so many dirty little secrets inside, not to quote the All American Rejects. Scorsese shows that with this film he can not just make films about people getting whacked, but more poignant stories about love and tranquility.
But really no film would be anything without a great script, and that is surprisingly what this film has. There are a lot of stereotypes that period pieces have, about everybody in the film being all goody goody rich S.O.B’s, but that’s what Scorsese knocks down, and shows differently. His script is very well-written showing how all these people hide behind their lies, and act as if nothing is wrong, and what if somebody was to go against that? Would it be wrong to do, or would it be just the right thing? The film hits the nail on the head, right when it comes to this forbidden love and actually showing these two people as human beings, who have a need for love in their life, rather than just money, and being spoiled. We really get a sense and feel for this love triangle, and you don’t get that much nowadays. We always get car chases, gun battles, and over-the-top fist fights, but never this much pain, and feeling it.
The main problem I had with this film was although its still a nice departure from Scorsese’s gangster flicks, it still doesn’t seem like this is the kind of movie he wants to make. I think what he was trying to do was take a departure from his recent violent films, and try something a little different and see where it goes from there. When you watch Goodfellas you can tell there is a lot of inspiration going on behind the camera, right here, ehh not so much. Don’t get me wrong the film is good, its just that in ways, it could have been better with a different director, who isn’t used to all this blood and gore.
Daniel Day-Lewis as usual is very good here and gives off a performance that not many know, because of the second time Scorsese and him collaborated on was in 2002 with Gangs of New York.
What happens when you do too many period pieces.
He is not only effective, just because of the emotion he shows, but also the fact that his character does a total change in the middle of the movie, and you can believe it. Pfeiffer is very powerful in her performance showing a huge great deal of star-quality, with her wise/old character, but proves that age doesn’t mean a thing, when you can show emotion like her. Day-Lewis and her show a lot of good chemistry, especially when their both not trying to caught together. Ryder is also surprisingly very good here, and its actually a real shocker. The screenplay has her character out to be a one-note sucker for Day-Lewis’ character, but instead she brings plenty of believable emotion into the character, and makes her a better character with that emotion she gives off.
Consensus: Though Scorsese’s heart is not behind this material such as others like Goodfellas or Mean Streets, The Age of Innocence is still a nice departure from those gangster flicks, with a pitch-perfect screenplay, lush visuals, and great performances from the cast.
One of Scorsese’s best, and most underrated.
Martin Scorsese draws on Nicholas Pileggi’s book about Las Vegas in the 1970s and ’80s as inspiration for his tale contrasting the city’s glamorous exterior with its sordid interior fueled by excess — and the mob. Against this backdrop, the story chronicles the rise and fall of a casino owner with mob connections (Robert De Niro), his friend and Mafia underboss (Joe Pesci) and an ex-prostitute with expensive taste and a driving will (Sharon Stone).
Upon a first viewing, you would think of it as a companion piece to Goodfellas, mostly cause its about the mob, and De Niro and Pesci are mobsters in both.
The thing with Scorsese and this film is that he is one of those directors that has a vision, and just goes for it whether or not people like it. The film is fast, featuring the over-the-top narration that could almost be viewed as a docudrama. It moves on so quick and fast that its so hard not to lose track of the time, because what you think has been 20 minutes into the movie, is just the first 10. The film is written in such a way, that most of it is given to characters, and getting inside the business of the mob, so you know exactly how everything is handled in this business. You feel like you’re sitting across the table from an ex-casino manager as he tells stories and random facts about how things in Vegas really were.
The problem with this film, and it was kind of a problem for me just a bit, was that the film didn’t break too much grounds. It does a little bit what Goodfellas did 5 years earlier. You have the excessive violence, realistic screenplay, look inside the mob, and even narration from its main character, that all Goodfellas has. I don’t think with this film that Scorsese brought out any new points to make about the mob cause he did already make them earlier, and that is what causes this film to get barely any recognition.
The acting in here is what makes this film, the best. De Niro plays the character we all love him as, he goes through so many emotions as this guy that we can see how realistic his character really is. Pesci is also great playing the hard-boiled little guy that we all love and know him for. The scenes with them two are just great, cause you can see the chemistry these two have, and how good they are is just one sight to see the most. Sharon Stone also give the knockout performance in this movie bringing a lot of heart, but by the end more havoc, and she goes through this whole transformation as a character, and it seems believable rather than just made for story purposes.
Consensus: Casino doesn’t break any new grounds mostly due to Goodfellas, but is still a fast-paced information mobster flick, with a terrific direction from Scorsese, and memorable performances by the trio of leads.
Basically Scorsese can do it all!
Director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio re-team for this taut adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel about Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), a U.S. marshal who searches for an escaped psychiatric patient on a mysterious remote island in the wake of a hurricane.
For any person who has loved all of Scorsese fast-talking, slickly directed, mobster films, well don’t look here at all for that type of movie. This is not your usual Goodfellas or The Departed, look more to Kubrick, and basically Scorsese makes a run for it.
The trailers will have you think that this movie is a straight-up horror fest, when really it isn’t. A lot of the elements from Christopher Nolan films are all here with these mind-bending psychological elements, and Scorsese does not let up once. He uses some great set pieces such as this deserted island where you feel almost nothing is explained, and a very claustrophobic place to be. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat cause throughout the whole movie things will pop up every once and awhile, and you will have no idea what’s going on but you can’t take your eyes off it.
Shutter Island is pretty confusing until the finale (basically from Why are you all wet, baby? to the end). Its pieced together slowly and is a combination of Teddy’s memories, hallucinations, and whats actually occurring in reality. The way it unfolds is kind of like trying to solve a Rubix Cube. It takes time and a little bit of effort, but is well worth it in the end. Shutter Island is a film that makes you think. Remember that going in.
The one problem I had with the film is that there were a lot of dream sequences that were just meant to bend your mind, and I think a lot of these went on for a bit too long. The graphic detail didn’t bother me but these dream sequences didn’t seem to mean very much other than just being utterly creepy and different.
Leo as usual is great here and plays this character Teddy with such great authenticity and realism, its so easy to cheer him on. But the supporting cast of Mark Ruffalo, Jackie Earle Haley, and mostly Ben Kingsley give great side performances where you don’t know if these people are real or fake and they do a great job at not giving too much away in their performances.
Consensus: Not one of Scorsese’s best but certainly is his most different piece of work, that is pieced together so well, with great performances from the cast, and mostly a fearless direction from Scorsese, who doesn’t shy away once from his grim material.
De Niro can get so god-damn creepy sometimes.
Martin Scorsese crafts a gripping vision of urban decay and insanity in which mentally unstable Vietnam vet Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) drives a cab through the sleaziest streets of gentrified New York City and befriends a child hooker (Jodie Foster).
This is honestly a film that everybody kept telling me I should see but never got a chance to. Now that I have finally had the chance to actually see this, they will finally shut up.
There is this constant paranoia that the character Bickle goes through, and there are plenty of moments where you can see it. The music adds a lot to the mood and feeling of how Bickle is, and gives you this feeling that just nothing is right with this person, and the world he lives in. Throughout the first part of the movie, it plays the same piece of music over and over again (to reflect the repetitiveness of Travis’s life, maybe?), but the music gets more unsettling as movie progresses.
I liked how the gritty look actually got me involved with the setting. The film is set in the early 70s in New York, filled with drugs, crime, prostitutes, and most of all maniacs such as Bickle. It has brilliant shots of Bickle driving around in his taxi cab with some even more beautiful shots of a gritty, but realistic New York at the time.
The one problem I had with the film was that the film has about two plots. The one about him trying to assassinate the president candidate, and the one about him trying to save Foster from a life of damnation. I think that the one with Foster was a lot more stronger than the assassination one, and although it comes later in the film, the Foster story should have been the only plot other than the other one.
Robert De Niro’s portrayal of this Travis Bickle is damn-near spotless; when the character looks like crap after many sleepless nights, Rob looks like he actually feels the same way. He looks like, in real life, he’s going through the same things that Travis is going through in the movie. Also, Jodie Foster is also very good, and shows that an early age she could still knock it out of the park.
The ending is not confusing but as much as it is debatable. I didn’t understand what the ending was supposed to mean if anything, but I guess it’s just one of those endings that are just up to debate.
Consensus: Taxi Driver is a very dark film backed by an incredibly disturbing performance from De Niro, and a fearless direction from Scorsese, but focuses too much on one plot when the strongest plot comes by the end.
Celebrities: sometimes we love them, sometimes we hate them, but mostly we’re obsessed with them.
Director Martin Scorsese hits a satirical bulls-eye in this black comedy that explores the absurd lengths to which nebbish Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) will go to land a spot on the TV talk show of his idol, Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Pupkin believes that one appearance on Langford’s show will be his ticket to stardom, so he kidnaps his idol and sets into motion a chain of events you have to see to believe!
The film has a comedy look in the title and in the poster but if anything it’s a lot more of a serious look into the world of being a fan.
The film shows Pupkin as a very strange, obsessive guy who will never take no for an answer. The one thing I liked in this film was that it gives you this strange claustrophobic feeling within this guy’s head. You see how he lives and goes off on talking about celebrities, and it actually makes you think about some of the biggest fans in the world, are sometimes the creepiest.
The way the film is structured is to show us to what stardom can do to you. Our desire to become so famous is so strong, and so intense that it makes us delusional, and think of things that are in the real world and what are not.
De Niro does gives probably one of his most bizarre performances of his career, and shows that he can be so uncomfortable, and strange that it can actually start to have an effect on us. Jerry Lewis gives a good performance here as the celebrity that has so much anger to hide that when it comes out, he goes really really insane.
The ending is what kind of ruined it for me in a way. I think that the ending could have been a bit more clear to its approach to its subject material and actually had me a bit confused. Was this reality or fiction?
Consensus: An unexplained ending, but The King Of Comedy has two equally-matched performances, very dark look into the world of obsession, and a hidden gem from Scorsese.
Scorsese doing what Scorsese does best.
Charlie (Harvey Keitel) deals with the pressures of working his way up the ranks of a local mob, while coping with his family’s disapproval of his epileptic girlfriend (Amy Robinson). Meanwhile, his small-time gambler friend, Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), threatens to ruin Charlie’s reputation with debts to a loan shark.
So this is the third film by Scorsese, and once again he is takling the subject of mobsters in New York. This is probably his first as you can see when watching it.
The film is highly original and features a lot of Scorsese’s trademarks that would show in plenty of his later films. First of all the screenplay is so well-written and real. The way it is written as if this was real-life, the characters are serious when they want to be, even funnier when they want to be, and a lot of just all seems real and believable.
The soundtrack is great it is filled with some amazing and eclectic music ranging from orchestra, to jazz, and then to like old pop. The songs layer out all of the scenes and add a lot more style and excitement into that one particular scene.
I also liked the setting and how it basically felt like a character itself. If you want a film to see what Little Italy looked like in 1973, here it is. It is filmed with such a gritty look, that makes this film seem so real and a lot more nasty and cruel than what it tries to give us.
The only problem I had with this film was the way it was filmed. I thought that Scorsese tried to go back and forth in between scenes way too many times, to where I was kind of confused. They never really give us a chance to soak the story in, and I felt rushed to learn everything about this film and its characters right away or I was going to be lost.
The ending also felt a little too rushed and didn’t really serve any true meaning or message. It felt rushed and a little too quick for and ending.
Harvey Keitel shows off some great leading man strength in one of his earlier films here. But the best in the film is De Niro who gives this look at a guy who’s so cocky, and so dastardly, that you wanted to cheer him on, despite he was such a dick.
Consensus: Mean Streets is highly original with great acting, a wild soundtrack, and a beautiful setting, but feels a bit too rushed and not all that there with its message.
Proof that you don’t fuck with Robert De Niro!
Raging Bull stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, a middleweight boxer whose sadomasochistic rage, sexual jealousy, and animalistic appetite exceeded the boundaries of the prizefight ring, and destroyed his relationship with his wife and family. Also featured in the film are Joe Pesci as Joey, La Motta’s well intentioned brother and manager who tries to help Jake battle his inner demons, and Cathy Moriarty as his abused teen-aged wife.
So when it comes to boxing films, none can ever top my favorite, and probably everybody else’s, Rocky. That film is one of the timeless classics that the whole family can watch and recite for years and years to come. However, when watching this boxing classic take the family away.
Raging Bull is the best sports film of all-time, close to one of the greatest but you know me I can’t go that far yet. I mean there are so many reasons why it’s just great but I just don’t know how to put it all out.
This is a film that is way different from many other sports films. We never get a look at La Motta’s childhood, we just see him when he becomes a star, and then to where it starts to die out. This is great cause we get a sense that this guy was always like this and really was never happy.
The whole film is beautifully filmed in black-and-white, and to be truly honest it couldn’t have worked any other way. The fighting scenes are what is mostly perfect about the look, cause they are shot in such unrelenting and graphic detail that I really did fully get an idea of exactly what boxing is all about. This whole film looks so realistic that I actually felt like I was in the 40′s with La Motta at the time all this was going down.
One of the main reasons why this film is so great is because of De Niro. Obviously, La Motta is a real person, but De Niro takes this real person and turns into what I may say one of the best characters ever captured on film. His performance is so wonderful that at the end I totally forgot that this was De Niro, and felt like I was just watching La Motta himself. His temper is short and there are plenty of scenes where he just loses it, and you, the viewer, are even scared just watching this man. But one of the better reasons why he is so great, is cause the character himself is so unsympathetic. Now this is what I love to see in movies that is played real well here. Here we have a guy who just doesn’t give a shit about what he does: he cheats on his wife plenty of times, beats the crap out of anyone he wants to, basically just doesn’t care what other people have to say about him cause he knows they will get destroyed by him, and at the end of the day he will say “FUCK YOU!”. This is the kind of character that I want to see in any film, De Niro plays this character with such anger and aggression, that I’m not just scared of this man, but I also have to just say he is one of the greatest tragic hero’s in any film still to this day. Also, the supporting cast with Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty who do their very best jobs just to at least handle this crazy S.O.B.
But surely this film wouldn’t even be amazing without one of the greatest, Martin Scorsese. You can just tell with every single scene he is just swinging for the bleachers and is trying so hard to make this film as effective as still is today. He shows us the little spaces in between the high points, but mostly its a film about a life and the end of it, and what is left to say. I was just right away destroyed by the film even as it started, with those beautiful and glorious opening credits, don’t tell me that doesn’t just deserve a 10/10 itself. Honestly, I will never watch another Scorsese film without thinking of this and to be truly honest, nothing that he does in the future will ever, and I mean ever come close to this beautiful piece of work.
Consensus: Without a doubt one of Scorsese’s best films of all-time, that shows a life that is filled with violence and anger, that is often too hard to watch. De Niro plays his greatest role ever as La Motta the unsympathetic hero, and puts so much depth into this performance, that I really felt like I knew who this man truly was.
Picking up women from a bar isn’t the best thing to do after all.
Peter Loew (Nicolas Cage) is a sleazy literary agent who prowls the bars looking for action. One night he hooks up with Rachel (Jennifer Beals), who, in the course of their evening together, bites him on the neck. The next morning, when Peter is feeling out of sorts, he decides that a vampire bit him. The next step: Buy a real set of fangs, of course …even though most people don’t believe he’s a vampire.
The movie was written by Joseph Minion, who also wrote one of my underrated favorites After Hours. I could tell this was written by him due to its obvious similarities: yuppie acting unnatural, lower side of New York, and a very eerie feeling in the air.
The film starts out pretty slow but soon after Cage gets bit starts to pick up speed as you his transition into full craziness. This film is credited as a comedy/horror film but the only horror that comes out of this film is actually pretty unintentional. Most of the laughs come every once in awhile but soon then some of it is very dark.
The film is backed by an incredible performance from Nicolas Cage who is unhinged, hilarious, and all the way energetic. I could just feel the anger and frustration coming from this character the whole way through the movie. Forget Nicolas Cage from all those other movies this one is surely one that you have never seen from him, as he gives one of the craziest performances in his career and what I think fully started out his career.
The problem I had with this film was that this movie is actually pretty vicious. When rape and two murders happen it’s not really funny let alone something to be funny. The movie is pretty disgusting featuring many sex scenes, nudity, and a lot of really detailed blood which really made me feel weary. Also Cage does do a great job, but the character he is playing is not very likable and it’s kind of hard for us to feel pity for a character that was basically a dick throughout.
I did enjoy some parts of the film though. I did like how the color red was presented and shown through each scene in one way or another. Also I enjoy the low-life look of New York and showing how messed up it is.
Consensus: Vampire’s Kiss is pretty gruesome and not hilarious, but backed by an unhinged performance from Nic Cage will sure provide laughs.
The movie that started the love fest between Scorsese and Leo.
The film centers on Hughes’ life from the late 1920s to 1947, during which time he gained success as a film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Scorsese, one of the best of all directors, has made an enormously entertaining movie about one of the most fascinating American lives but also the saddest. The production here is incredibly ambitious, Scorsese creates early Hollywood movies, stars, and the real-life airplanes. Its also very interesting to see the different types of film stock and colors he uses to reflect various periods in which the movie takes place in. This is a traditional rise and fall story that could’ve gone too many wrong ways but simply stays in the right direction.
The best thing of this movie has to be the great performances from Blanchett and DiCaprio. When playing these real-life figures sometimes actors try to go overboard with trying to act too much like the person their portraying, but these two don’t. Leo does a strongly effective job at playing Howard Hughes and creates this sympathetic character that we feel the need to like, because of all his time put into his film making and planes. Blanchett does the best job because it looks like she is just having a lot of fun, and totally captures the energy that many knew Katherine Hepburn had. The full energy of the film comes from these two performances and what makes the film fully effective and real.
Though the film was boasted with some great direction I thought that the special effects were pretty brassy and could’ve been better, especially when it came to some of the flight scenes. The film itself is 169 minutes and for about 120 I was really entertained but then there were just some really dry spots that didn’t keep me glued to the screen like many others from Scorsese.
The film may not be Scorsese’s best work but it unquestionably a very creative piece of moviemaking.
Do not watch this movie on an empty stomach. I assure you, you will be very hungry.
Drama of a half-Irish, half-Sicilian Brooklyn boy initiated into a neighborhood mob in his youth, and the struggles he encounters with the gang through the next 25 years.
I first saw this movie about 2 years ago and didn’t think much about it, until now I have just been amazed by this film.
This is surely one of the great films from the gangster film genre. Director Matin Scorsese fully shows this unromantic view on the gangsters lifestyle. He shows what the gangsters do is steal, kill, and don’t associate with many others outside of the circle, which in all shows how these character interact with one-another. The best thing about Scorsese is that he takes these theatrics looks and make moral stands. What Scorsese is mostly showing and telling that these people are scum, and this is so crushing in a beautiful and artful way.
The little things in this film are great as well. Such as the ending parts where Liotta’s character soon becomes high on drugs and its filmed in a completely different way and style than earlier before. More great things about this film is also the scenes where its just that single camera shot and you follow all around a party that these mob characters have and you meet all the people and you look at all the colorful personality’s but you soon realize their all the same. The narration from Liotta is great and I like how it shows how he is sort of an outsider and it shows his insight on the world that he lives in with these gangsters. Another cool feature is how through this film we see how they evolve over the years and how different they look.
The best part of this film are the performances by all. To be truly honest there isn’t one single bad performance in this film. Joe Pesci totally steals the show with his energetic and lovable personality, but shows that the easiest things can tick him off. The most under looked performance is from Lorraine Braco who plays the wife of Liotta who is very important and shows how even wives who stay at home and spend the money from the husbands are still effected of the mob life as well. Probably one of the first mob movies with a female being a part of the mafia and is not just a supporting act.
This movie did cause a couple of problems for me. I wish there was more of De Niro’s character cause he proved he can act but he wasn’t such a big name character in this movie and I would’ve liked to see more of him. Also, Paul Sorvino’s character should’ve been shown more and shown in a way that would’ve been more effective way and show his relationship with Liotta and the rest but we only get little snippets of him and it would been more effective to show him. Also though this movie through and through is great it still does not have a very effective ending at all. I think in a film like this with so many twist and turns that a better ending would’ve showed up in this movie but it didn’t.
Everything about this movie is just fantastic:acting, music, dialouge, camera work, and especially the directing. Though with a little bit of character involvement errors and a not so fantastic ending, I still believe this movie is a great American classic for all to see.