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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Matthew McConaughey

We Are Marshall (2006)

Nothing like a good ole fashioned game of pig skin to bring the small-town back together! That, and some random hick.

During a dark, windy and stormy night on November 14th, 1970, a flight carrying 37 members the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, as well as the coach and other personnel, suddenly crashed and killed everybody on-board. The small town that the Thundering Herd represented, not only lost most of their football team, but friends, families, neighbors, doctors, dentists and, plainly put, people that they knew and cared for. This obviously leaves the town absolutely devastated and in total shock, meaning that the football-program itself will have to be shut-down for quite some time. That is, all until a couple of players who were on the injured-reserve decide that they want their team back and irk Marshall’s president (David Strathairn), to not just find more players and more money for the team, but an actual coach that believes in them. Enter Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey), the smooth, fast-talking and charming-type that’s practically able to get whatever it is that he wants, whenever he wants, due to his cool ways. However, finding players, getting together a stacked-team and being able to live up to the legacy that the original team had before they tragically passed, is a lot easier said, then actually done. But with the help of former assistant-coach Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), Lengyel may have a shot at making his dreams, as well as the rest of the town’s, dreams come true.

Quick! Whose tie is more retro?!?!?

Quick! Whose tie is more retro?!?!?

When you see a sports drama, that’s “based on a true story”, you already know what to expect. Stirring, inspiring pep-talks; people rooting and hollering for their home-team; a lot of grown-men crying and getting upset; and finally, the one, big game that settles the score on everything. We’ve all seen it before and done a million times, but is there such a problem when that formula isn’t played with too much, but at least given some sort of subtle-nuances to make the whole thing seem slightly different? I actually don’t know and personally, that’s probably not the question I should be asking for something as simple as this.

Basically, this is, yet again, another sports movie in which we have a bunch of people looking for inspiration anywhere they can turn to, but in this case, it just so happens to be the football-field. Never understood why so many sports movies feel the need to teach us all about life through sports, as if that is the only segue into learning everything, about anything that has to do with. Sure, maybe people who watch sports love it and feel as if they are apart of something, but for those select few who can actually play sports and excel at it, feel as if they are apart of something more, leaving those other, unworthy human beings out of the equation.

Anyway, I am ranting.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s tired formula, the sports drama is, but there are the occasional moments when a movie gets it just about right to where it isn’t offensive to those who don’t play sports, but nice enough to those who do and have barley anything else to live for. But in this movie’s case, it’s battling more than just being about the sport of football. See, instead, this movie is actually dealing with some bigger themes –  themes like forgiveness, guilt, moving on, depression, death, love and realizing that you can’t take anything, or anyone, for granted on this Earth, because you never know when they’re going to leave you. Yes, this movie definitely has a lot to talk about and discuss, but with McG at the helm, it’s less emotional, and more ham-handed.

McG obviously comes from the huge institution of film where the main curriculum taught is “tell, don’t show”. Doesn’t make him all that bad of an action-director, because when you want to see people beat each other up, cars chase one another, or things explode, you want to see that sort of stuff happen on-screen and not be at all implied! However, when you have an emotional-story such as this, a very true one, mind you, where subtlety is key to make us feel for everything and everyone involved with this story, you need that type of director to give us those moments that we could only get, due to the human-condition. The way a character acts, reacts or just is, is what makes this movie’s succeed in being able to tell us everything we need to know about a certain character and how exactly they are feeling.

McG, for all of his slam-bang, action-thrilling ways, sure as hell doesn’t have those types of skills in his repertoire, so instead, he just allows the actual scenes of football being played to take over and take us by storm. And for the most part, they do work as they look nice, making you feel as if you are watching people from the 70’s, play football in said decade, while also allowing you suspend your disbelief for the shortest second of time, even if you already do know what happens in the end, to these characters, to this football-team, and to everything else that surrounds it. That aspect of the movie, McG gets right, but whenever he’s called on to give us a strong, dramatic-scene filled to the core with believable, heartfelt emotion, the dude sort of drops the ball. Not because he doesn’t care for the situation most of the people were put into, but because he doesn’t really know what to do with these moments. He just wants people to get up, cheer on their home-team and hope that they forget about their own, actual lives for a short moment-in-time.

Once again, nothing wrong with that, but when you have something of a true story that’s as ripe with emotion such as this, you can’t help but feel disappointed that they couldn’t get more of a capable-director to work on this.

"Power to the people that be!"

Power to the people that be!” What? Too early for that?

Dude should have just stuck with the explosions.

Rather than being able to do it himself and give us the emotionally raw and brutal feelings we need for a story like this to fully grip us and really speak volumes, McG mainly depends on the cast for this, mainly one Matthew McConaughey. I’m so happy to see that McConaughey is back in good-graces with just about every film-nerd out there nowadays, because not only has the dude been putting in great work in some god-awful stuff over the years, but he’s also been trying his hardest to at least show the world that there’s more to him than just good looks and nice, toned-body. The dude can act, and as Jack Lengyel, he gets plenty of chances to do so, mostly whenever he’s just trying to charm a person in their boots and make them see his optimistic, sunny-side-up view of everything that’s occurring. Most of what McConaughey has to work with isn’t perfect, but the dude keeps on bringing energy to the movie whenever possible and makes the movie a bit better. It’s not the most perfect performance that we’ve seen from him (especially not within the past decade), but it’s one that showed us that if you gave him a movie to lead, he could still do so. Good old boy charm and all.

The rest of the cast is pretty good, too, although it does make me sad to see that Matthew Fox maybe couldn’t have gotten the lead role in this. Sure, he may not have as much wit or as much light-heartedness as McConaughey does, but the dude is still a very solid actor and gets to show us many times here, why that is. Same goes for Anthony Mackie, playing one of the players who was originally on the injured-reserve during the crash, and gives us the most compelling, if only, memorable scene of the whole movie. Don’t necessarily want to spoil it, but when you see it, you’ll be happy to see that the dude is making good use of his many skills as an thespian. Others that are also good are David Strathairn as the stuck-up, nerdy president of Marshall who doesn’t want to give up on the program, but realizes that there is a dilemma with bringing it back, while also trying to honor those who have fatally-fallen. And Ian McShane, despite those evil, deadly eyes of his, doesn’t get quite nearly as much to do as everybody else does, and it’s a damn shame because he’s always a presence to make notice of, no matter what garbage the dude does. And he’s done plenty of that in his long career.

Consensus: Though We Are Marshall tries hard, it can’t quite get past all of the numerous conventions and clichés that the sports genre has set-in-stone for ages, and will continue to do so, even if the true stories themselves that the movies are based on, actually have emotional-resonance to them.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT!!"

“ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll and a whole lot of money. Oh my!

Meet Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio): He’s a womanizer, a drug-addict, a go-getter, a hard partier, and most of all, a full-fledged billionaire, and this is his story. We follow Jordan through his early days as a licensed stock broker on Wall Street, where he learns of the ins and the outs from a seasoned-pro (Matthew McConaughey), but eventually, finds himself out of a job and inspiration for life once the stock market crashes. From there, Jordan finds another job in which he’s still working the stocks, however now, he’s found a way to rip people off, and benefit from the extra cash money he has flowing in by the weeks, and then by the days, and then it’s by the hours, and sooner or later, it’s by the minutes of each hour, of each and every single day. So basically, Belfort discovers a way on how to keep on getting richer, and best of all, how to keep on partying and living life until you can’t no more. Sooner than later, though, the FBI starts snooping around and that’s when Jordan begins to find himself backed into a corner that he may not be able to get out of, or one that he may be able to, but will have to take those nearest and dearest down in the process.

Most of you can probably tell by now, but I’ll say it anyway: This movie is a freakin’ blast. Yes, it does clock-in at 179 minutes (that’s near-three hours for those of you counting at home), and yes, it features countless acts of debauchery in which drugs are consumed, women and their body parts are fondled, Big Bens are thrown high up in the air and the “f word” is used more times than it ought to be, but if you can stick through all of this and keep the blood pumping, you’re going to find yourself having one of the best times at the movie theaters.

Was it all politically correct to call it "midget tossing" back in the late-80's/early-90's?

Was it politically correct to call it “midget tossing” back in the late-80’s/early-90’s?

Just exactly like I did, and here’s why.

It’s not easy to make a film about a bunch of stockbrokers that are knowingly ripping people off, in hopes of gaining a heftier wallet and more gifts to bring to the parties, in which we don’t actually hate them and instead, actually rather loathe them, but with all of the movies he’s made in the past (including this), Martin Scorsese has proved himself to be more than up to the task, and then some. Scorsese is approximately 71-years-of-age, but this movie does not show an old man working inside of his comfort-zone, nor one who seems like he can just get as much enjoyment from the spoils of this movie, as much as his subjects in his movie are. Nope, instead, Scorsese continues to find more and more ways in which he can try something new, or, for lack of a better term, never slow down.

When I said that this was a movie that clocked-in at nearly-three hours, most of you probably ran for the hills and never looked back; but what I didn’t say was that it was a near-three hour movie that never, not for a single second, slows down. Sure, there are some moments where we see Scorsese let go of his style and just let his ensemble do the speaking for him, but it’s all Scorsese, all of the time, and it never lost its sense of energy that made it such a blast to watch for its first five minutes of being on screen, let alone it’s 2-hours-and-59-minutes. And needless to say, some of it could have definitely been chopped-down and even taken-out, but with what Scorsese himself has here, it’s pure dynamite by how quick, fun and energetic everything is, without taking a brief moment for silence or to catch your breath.

In other words, if you can’t handle a near-three hour movie that never cools its brakes, you may want to look elsewhere, because once Marty and the rest of his gang get this bus going, they aren’t stopping and it makes you feel like Scorsese himself may never, ever quit making movies. And I would have no problem with that whatsoever, because if he shows us, so late in the game, that he can still hang with the best of them, get moving when he needs to, and also be able to keep his blood-pressure at a reasonably healthy rate, then we don’t need anybody else other than him. If he’s going to keep on branching out and trying new things, then who needs someone that could be, “The Next Martin Scorsese”. It would surely be nice to get someone else who can master the art of the multiple over-head narrations, or the constant zooming-in camera movements, but as for right now, at this moment in time, I’m fine with Marty Scorsese sticking around for however long he damn well pleases to. I just hope that he continues to make movies as exciting, entertaining and hilarious as this.

But everything that I’m saying about Marty, and how he seems to still be open to new and cool things to play around with, could be said for his cinematic muse, Leonardo DiCaprio. Anybody who has ever followed my blog and knows my history, knows that I am a huge and adoring fan of Leo, and he did not disappoint me a single second here. Heck, in fact, I’d say that he surprised the hell out of me here, showing that it is possible for somebody who’s nearing-40, and who has already shown his talents as an actor, to still shock us by letting us know that he’s capable of doing more than just yelling, emoting and being upset; in fact, just like he proved with his Oscar-worthy performance last year in Django Unchained, he can actually be quite funny and steal the scene from some of the most charming, and spirited screen-presences out there.

Women, AMMIRIGHT?

Women, AMMIRIGHT?

Not only does Leo get show his lighter-side with Belfort, in terms of making wise-cracks and just being the lovable, handsome devil that knows what to say, and when to say it, he also gets to branch-out a bit and pull-off some really impressive scenes where it’s just him, and him alone. There’s the one scene that everybody seems to be talking about in which Leo begins to feel the side effects of decade-old Quaaludes, and begins to fall limp in every part of his body; almost to the point of where he’s practically dragging himself and crawling to his car. It’s the scene that everybody seems to be talking about, and with good reason: It’s funny, it never ends (in a good way), it’s probably the quietest scene in the whole movie, it’s bizarre and the best of all, it shows us that even somebody like Leo DiCap, the same guy who has been taking serious-role-after-serious-role for a good chunk of his career, can handle something like “physical comedy”, and pull it off with perfection. There’s even a couple more scenes where he’s getting the rest of his stockbrokers all locked, cocked and loaded for whatever it is he wants them to do, whether it be getting richer or throwing down a sweet-ass party, and he absolutely owns each and every one of them, showing us, once again, that if you give him character, you give him a drive, you give him a capable director and you put a camera in front of his face, he’s going to make some magic happen and absolutely over-power everybody else around him.

That’s why, when you look at an ensemble as wide and as fun as this, you really do have to give a whole bunch of credit to somebody like Leo for never letting this movie loose, because his shoulders are the ones in which this flick solely rests its fate on. While everybody here is charming, fun, crazy and anything else but boring, he’s the guy who keeps the train on its tracks, making us realize that these were in fact, real people, who screwed over real people, just like you or me. Though Scorsese may never seem to go any further than “look at all these rich guys and all the debauchery acts they’re committing”, the movie is still a powerful indictment on the fact that these were guys who messed our economy over, and we’re the ones who had to pay for it. It sucks big time, and even though this movie has a good time getting itself away from that fact, we’re still the ones who have to suck it up and move on with our lives, while they are the ones who get to live freely and still be able to do what they want.

Sucks, I know, but it’s all in the name of a good time, right?

Anyway, needless to say, I’ll be pulling for Leo to land his Oscar this year, as I do every year, but let’s face it: He’ll be lucky enough to nab a nomination. Which blows, because he’s so electrifying here, you’ll wonder what else he’s got in-store for us and whether it will be back to his old ways of playing the same old,”troubled and tortured smart guy role”, or if he’ll continue to surprise us and show that he’s got more in his tank than what we know of? I don’t know what side he’ll most likely lean towards, but what I can is that Leo will definitely keep on being one of the best working today, and one that proves to me, as well as to everybody else, time and time again, that nobody can steal the spotlight away from him. Nobody!

Yeah, I’m a bit of a Leo DiCap fan boy. Deal with it.

"Hey, Judd? Seth? Yeah, I've moved on to bigger, and more critically-acclaimed things. Sorry, guys."

“Hey, Judd? Seth? Yeah, I’ve moved on to bigger, and more respected things. Sorry, guys.”

Like I was saying before though, Leo may own this movie, but he isn’t the only that’s actually “good” in it. Jonah Hill is a laugh-out-loud riot as the equally as demented and sick buddy of Jordan’s, Donnie, who starts to show some pretty dark shades to his character as time goes on; Matthew McConaughey appears in about two or three scenes early on in the movie and is a whole box of fun, even giving us some insight into the person that Jordan himself aspires to be, and most likely, will be once he gets his paychecks in order and balance; Rob Reiner is a welcome-presence to see back on the screen, this time, playing Jordan’s dad who handles all of the money, and doesn’t like to ask questions about where it comes from and what it’s for, but still somehow can’t get away from being just a little curious; Jean Dujardin shows up as a Swedish bank-owner that Jordan doesn’t particularly like, but does business with to keep the feds off of his ass; and speaking of those feds, Kyle Chandler plays the FBI Agent whose leading the whole sting-operation against Belfort and his trusty band of misfits, and somehow forms a nice rivalry between the two, despite only having about two scenes together where they actually do match wits.

Oh, and last but not least, Margot Robbie is as perfectly-suited for this Scorsese flick, as much as she’s easy-on-the-eyes, because while she does definitely get full-on naked at various times, she never feels like an object that’s an easy stepping-stool. She can hang with the big boys and she proves that she won’t be taken advantage of, even when it’s clearly obvious that all Jordan wants her for is a nice fuck and a gal to watch over the rest of his family, as well as his empire, just in case he just so happens to be gone for a short while. She’s what every man in the world wants: Smart, brass, good-looking, and a fire-breather in bed, but also the same type of girl that won’t put up with your shit, no matter what. In other words, each and every one of my ex’s. Damn them all!

Consensus: Running on a near-three hour time-limit may take some viewers away from spending time with the Wolf of Wall Street, and the excessive amount of drugs, sex, crime and violence that it depicts, but those who are willing to, will find themselves rewarded with not only one of the most entertaining flicks of the year, but also one of the most impressive that shows us that neither Leonardo DiCaprio, nor Martin Scorsese are down for the count and might just have a few more hits left in them.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Cheers indeed, Leo. Cheers indeed.

Cheers indeed, Leo. Cheers indeed.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Guess Advil and getting your recommended nine hours doesn’t cure everything.

The true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a hard-partying rodeo-man that doesn’t take a single ounce of his life for granted, that is, until his life is about to be cut-short after he receives news of contracting the HIV virus. Woodroof is the type of good ole’ Southern boy that likes to party hide, with all sorts of women, drugs and booze, which is why he responds so violently and angrily thinking that only homosexuals contract the virus. Basically, he thinks it’s a mistake, until he realizes that his body is only deteriorating by the day, which is when he ultimately wakes up, smells the cauliflower and realizes that he has a life that’s worth living, and he will do whatever he has in his might to keep it going. Especially even if that means he has to get involved with illegal drug-trading with the rest of the gay community through local cross-dresser Rayon (Jared Leto). Especially then, even if he is a total homophobe that wants nothing to do with men, or their penises. He just wants to make some easy cash and just keep on living, man.

There have been plenty of movies in the past that have touched upon the HIV virus and for that, we have Philadelphia to thank. Now, I know that Philadelphia sure as hell wasn’t the first flick ever to discuss the HIV virus with such bluntness, but it was the first mainstream movie to do so, all in order to get people’s attention and wake them up to the real problems that people were facing on a daily-basis, the same type of problems that you may or may not have heard on the six o’clock news. That’s why it is only fitting that 20 years later, the HIV virus still continues to get the movie’s it deserves to have people look up, take notice of what’s happening and try to band together and find a cure, dammit!

Hey! Remember me from Ghosts of Girlfriend's Past? Yeah, neither does anybody else.

“Hey! Remember me from Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past? Yeah, neither does anybody else.”

What surprised me the most about this movie was, aside from the fact that it is awfully emotional when it wants to be, is how much of a light-hearted approach it takes to a very serious subject, yet, it isn’t out-of-place or in bad-taste at all, because the subject that this movie is basically all about, was that type of person: Fun, exciting, jumpy and always in a rush to get whatever he needed to get done, done. The movie gives us its story, gives us a reason why it all matters, why we should care and basically lets it all breeze-by right quick, where we see how this underground drug-trading may have been illegal as illegal can be, but yet, benefited those who needed it the most.

In a way, despite Woodroof being a very homophobic man that wants nothing to do with the gay community whatsoever, starts helping out that same community and becomes something of a savior to them. Granted, he still wants his money right up-front, and if he doesn’t get the known-amount, it’s your ass to the curb, but you can still feel like this guy wants to do right for the world and for people who need it the most, even if he is a bit of a prick that’s in it just for the money and to keep himself alive. So yeah, he’s not the most sensitive guy out there in the world, but the movie still has you on his side right away and begins to build up this whole “him vs. the rest of the world” argument that the flick takes a little too one-sided, but still utilizes effectively in getting you inside the minds of so many people that were. and probably still are, having the same exact thoughts as to why they weren’t getting the treatment they oh so desired, and if they were, why wasn’t it legally FDA approved?

Basically, what it all comes down to is that people want to make money, and that’s that. Or, at least that’s what I got from this movie which was a bit of a lame-ass way of telling both sides and giving them their story. I get it, the movie is more on the side of Woodroof who literally did all that he could for the same community he all but banished, but there could have been a bit more juggling in terms of view-points and sympathy. For instance, the strangest aspect behind this movie is that the only openly-gay actor in the whole movie (from what I know of) is Denis O’Hare who, believe it or not, plays the most detestable character in the whole movie as the main doctor who doesn’t really care much about Woodroof’s drug, only that it takes away his patients that he wants using his approved-drug, AZT, the same type of drug that also happens to be doing more harm, than actual good for those said patients.

What’s odd about O’Hare’s character is that you’d feel like since this man himself is part of the same community that his character is against, that you’d get more dimensions to him than just meets the eyes. But nope. Instead, he’s just a schmuck who is all about the money, getting the rewards benefits at the end of every year and doesn’t give a lick what actually benefits his patients. He’s not alone in those regards as the DEA agents who continuously crack down and grow suspicious of Woodroof’s “business” he is attending to, also seem like a bunch of cold, heartless a-holes that don’t give two shits about whether or not these homosexuals he’s helping actually live or die, they just want to prove that the law, no matter what, always prevails. Except for Steve Zahn’s character, but then again, he’s Steve Zahn. What? Did you actually expect him to play an unlikable dude? Come on!

Since the antagonists are such ever loving douchebags, this gives the protagonists plenty of leg-room to show their likable features which, in essence, also allows the actors themselves to strut their stuff and give some of the best performances any of them have had in a long, long, long while. The main person who is getting the most attention out of everything else that has to do with this flick is Matthew McConaughey, and for so many justifiable reasons. For starters, the cat lost close to 50 pounds here to give us the impression that yes, this man is dying; yes, his skin is all wrinkly; and yes, his clothes barely fit him. Not only does this add a huge sense of realism to his performance, so much so in a way that it’s uncomfortable to watch him much like Christian Bale was in the Machinist, but also makes you feel like the guy is literally dying right in front of our eyes, just as each and every day goes by.

Someone give him a burger already.

Someone give him a burger already.

McConaughey’s boyish charm comes into play many of times, giving Woodroof a playful, fun feel that works well for him when he practically becomes a small-time drug kingpin, but also gives us a man that feels like, despite all of his cracks and screws being shown to us on countless occasions, is all doing this for the right reasons. Like I said before, he’s not perfect, but he does eventually grow into becoming an receptive, nice, kind and generous man that knows when business becomes more than just business, and humanity begins to take over. Of course, this transition from bastard-to-good-guy never, not even for a second, rings false, because McConaughey always shows him as the type of hardened-soul that wants to keep on living on, just as for long as he can, with as many pleasures as he can, without having sex and infecting others around him. Plenty of buzz has been made about McConaughey here, and it’s all deserved because not only is this his most-demanding performance yet, but it’s also probably his richest, giving us the type of lovable, enthusiastic character we love seeing him play, and giving him a darker side that shows layers, upon layers, upon layers, just as his life-watch continues to keep on tick, tick, tickin’ away.

However, plenty of buzz is also being made about Jared Leto’s huge transformation as well, playing Rayon, the local crossdresser Woodroof starts business up with, and that’s definitely deserved too. And that’s a huge surprise coming from a person like me, especially considering that with every new album or song his shitastic band 30 Seconds to Mars releases, I continue to grow less and less fonder of him, not just as an artist, but as a person. Thankfully though, Leto comes back from shadows and gives us a performance that’s not only captivating in the way that he shows this Rayon character as being a saddened, rendered soul, but one that’s still strong and will find a way to end this epidemic, along with the homophobic Woodroof. Together, they form a nice bond that isn’t like buddy-buddy, but more that it’s business-partner relationship, that has some ties in friendship, but nothing too much that crosses boundaries; the way that Woodroof clearly likes it. I would not be the least bit surprised if Leto gets a nomination for his work here, not only because of what he does with his character, but how, now two, totally opposite times, he has done a full-on transformation, embodying his character’s soul anyway he can.

Let’s just hope this means that he’ll stick with movies from now on in, and keep away from making anymore crappy music. And no, I will not even throw a link in there. I refuse to.

Also, Jennifer Garner’s here trying to earn some street-cred playing a nurse that not only joins the cause that Woodroof is fighting for, but works as something as conduit that gets him bits and pieces of information in order to help him continue what it is that he’s doing to save these people. Garner is good, but in all honesty, her role is stretched-out a little further than it needs to be; and the only reason it feels like that is because it’s Jennifer Garner in that role, and not somebody like say, my sister, Siobhan, or my dog, Pearl. Either one of them, no attention whatsoever. What’s wrong the movie-business these days, dammit?!?!

Consensus: There may be a lot of emotional-baggage that it certainly can’t handle, but nonetheless, Dallas Buyers Club is still a heartfelt, poignant and somewhat inspiring take on a little-known, but very important story about Ron Woodroof, played to perfection by an Oscar-worthy, and nearly-starving Matthew McConaughey.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Out-method the other on the count of three. 1.....2....go!!"

“Out-method the other on the count of three. 1…..2….go!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Amistad (1997)

Jack Sparrow definitely had something to do with this as well. I know it for a fact.

I think it’s safe to say that anybody who has ever took history in the 5th grade or below knows this story, but if not, here’s the gist of it all: Newly-captured African slaves somehow broke free and revolted against their owners aboard a ship called La Amistad. They eventually got brought into the states where they were tried for their wrong-doings, but thanks to their leader, Cinqué (Djimon Hounsou), they are able to have a voice and get a fair trial. Or at least they sure hope so, or else it’s back to the poop-deck for them!

Steven Spielberg is considered one of the greatest directors of all time, and that’s usually something I can never argue against No matter how schmaltzy and disappointing some of his pieces of work can be, you can still count on the fact that every once and a blue moon, he’ll come back in full force and shut our negative mouths up. The guy’s got a knack for doing that and he can do it especially well when he’s telling a true story of those who have suffered the most. Whether he’s focusing on the Jews, the horses, or the living robots from the future, the guy knows how to take one person’s side, show how wronged they are by the rest of society, and let them have their time to shine. Add African slaves onto that list, just not to the tippy-top.

What makes this material so hard-hitting and inspirational in the way that it plays out is the fact that it’s all real, and yes, even though some parts here and there may be fabricated for theatrical-purposes, the main idea of it all stays the same. These were real people who had to go through a real rough time to get their freedom, try to hold onto it for as long as they could, have it taken away from them, and (SPOILER, I guess) then, given right back to them with a full introduction of hope and happiness still in their hearts. It sounds like a sappy story, and the way that Spielberg has it all play out, it certainly can be, but the fact that this a true story, true case, and true. real-life people that went through it all, really touched me more than I expected. And I don’t mean in the Sandusky way, either.

"Why can't anybody understand me? I can speak English too, it's just that nobody's asked me."

“Why can’t anybody understand me? I can speak English too, it’s just that nobody’s asked me. Fuckin’ white people.”

However, this isn’t the type of Spielberg flick where you get all sunshines, rainbows, and a bunch of over-dramatic music-cues; there’s some real smug ugliness to this movie that will catch you by surprise. First of all, the beginning of the flick is quite gruesome where Spielberg shows us, in full-detail, jusr how the Amistad raid occurred, and how the owners of these slaves were killed. It’s a pretty disturbing way to start off with and when it was over, I was slightly relieved because I felt like Spielberg backed away from that dirty stuff and got back on with the emotional-core of the story.

Oh, but how wrong I was.

Somewhere, about half-way through the movie, we get to see what it was like for all of the slaves to be aboard the Amistad, before the raid even occurred, and I have to say, it’s 10-times worse than the opening. You see how all of these people were treated, how they were tortured, put to non-stop work, fed, clothed (if at all), put to sleep, and in many ways, killed. It’s some real, gods-to-honest disturbing stuff that still stays put in my head. Still, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to Spielberg because it never feels like he’s exploiting any of it in the least bit. He’s just showing us how it was to be aboard that slave ship, which means we get a lot of blood, nudity, and grittiness, almost to the point of where you feel dirty just for watching. Some people will rag on Spielberg for usually crapping-out from going all of the way with his nasty-material, but for those naysayers: Watch the beginning and middle-half of this movie and then come back to me saying the same thing.

That whole sequence actually helps the movie out in many ways, but mainly because it has you understand these slaves even more than ever before. Not only does it give them inspiration to take charge with their lives, but it also gives them the right amount of hope and clarity they should have in their lives, and makes us root for them even more. I also like how they weren’t all just portrayed as a bunch of wild, gibberish-speaking black folks; they actually had personalities, they actually had words, they actually had meanings, and in some ways, had more ideas than most of the white people they encounter throughout this whole flick. Spielberg definitely showed his balls with this movie, but when it came back to getting with the story and showing us all how we love to root for the underdog in any story, regardless of if it’s true or not, he’s always solid in my book.

But to be fair, Spielberg isn’t always the most grateful man when it comes to humanizing his stories and doesn’t always let everybody get the same treatment as the Amistad slaves he’s portraying. I get that he wanted us to fully feel the internal-strife that these African slaves were going through, and so by doing so, really put the hammer down on some of those opposed to it, but didn’t feel right to me. It felt like, to me, that Spielberg was a little too quick in his movements to start pointing the fingers at other people for being racist, bigoted, and all about making money, when that was just how the times were. To me, it felt like Spielberg could have taken his hand back and realized that it’s not right to point, no matter how wrong or immoral you thought a certain set of persons or people were. Didn’t your mother ever teach you anything, Steven?!?

And as always with most of Spielberg’s flicks, the guy is always able to assemble a highly-qualified cast of characters and lets everybody do their thang, no matter how showwy or subtle it may be. Rarely does anybody ever go for the latter, but at least they keep it entertaining. Even though he has practically faded into obscurity now for no apparent reason, I was surprised to remember just how much of a powerhouse Djimon Hounsou was. What worked so much for him was that he had these eyes and this physical-prowess to him that showed you so much more than he could probably say or put into words. That’s especially true in this movie, because his character cannot speak English at all, but still gets the chance to show everybody around him what he’s feeling by expressions on his face, the tone in his speech, and the look in his eyes, no matter how cold or inspired they may be. The guy has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, and I was sure as shit surprised to find out that this wasn’t one of them. Still, the guy needs to come back and win something, because he’s a great actor and could also snap my neck with the twitch of his leg. No doubt about that.

Even Djimon is surprised by how over-the-top Anthony is.

Even Djimon is surprised by how over-the-top Anthony is.

The one who did get the Oscar nomination for this movie was Anthony Hopkins, playing former President John Quincy Adams, and does what he does best: Command the screen every chance he gets. Watching Hopkins just take this script, chew it up, swallow it, and spit it out, making himself a new one, was so exciting and entertaining to watch that it was no wonder why he was nominated for this. He shows up every once and awhile throughout the whole movie, but there’s this whole sequence at the end where he just tells it like it is when it comes to politics, living in the U.S., being a human-being, and just doing the right thing, that was compelling the whole time, even if it did seem like Hopkins may have went on some tangents a bit. Still, it’s Anthony Hopkins and the guy always give it a 110% so if anything, there’s always something to see.

Matthew McConaughey plays the lawyer that stands beside the African slaves in the first place and is very, very good, but it almost feels like his role from A Time to Kill, but dashed with some 19th Century apparel, and a goofy, Southern accent to boot. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, because the guy was pretty damn solid in both flicks, but it does show you that maybe more originality could have gone into choosing the right people for these roles. Then again, McConaughey’s career seems to have gotten a bit of a resurgence as of late, so I guess it doesn’t matter what happened to him 16 years ago.

The one out of this whole cast that I was really bummed to see play such a bland and mediocre role was Morgan Freeman as Theodore Joadson. He’s an Uncle Tom of sorts, but a man of color nonetheless, which makes it a great role for Freeman to just roam free with everything he has. However, he doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Freeman does what he can with this role, but it seems like one of those roles that was made for a small amount of time and only there to be the token black guy on the opposite end of the fence. A dull role that Freeman tries to save, but just can’t help but fall underneath the rest of the cast and story. There’s many more in this cast, as well, but as you can tell, I’ve pretty much exhausted myself talking about these four already, so just know that there’s plenty, plenty more.

Consensus: Steven Spielberg is the king of being schmaltzy and manipulative when it comes to his movies, and Amistad is no exception to the rule, but it still proves to be an inspirational, and very true tale of fighting for what you believe in and doing what we were put on this Earth to do in the first place. Corny, yes, but still gets you in the fighting spirit nonetheless.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Quick! Which one of these things does not look like the others?

Quick! Which one of these things does not look like the others?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Mud (2013)

His name is Mud.

Matthew McConaughey is Mud, a fugitive drifter hiding on a small island in the Mississippi River. He’s on the run and living peacefully all by his lonesome, that is until he is found out by two, young boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland). They don’t cause him much trouble as they seem to be more lost in wonder about this dude and eventually assist him in evading capture and reuniting with his beloved girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon).

So far, for writer/director Jeff Nichols; life has been pretty good. Not only did his first flick (Shotgun Stories) have “the artsie crowd” jumping in their tight jeans, but his second one (Take Shelter) got his name out to a bigger audience that one more over, just by the sure-fire of Michael Shannon being the man. But we all know that when something is too good to be true, it usually is and that’s what I felt like going into this movie. It wasn’t that I doubted Nichols’ skills as a writer or director, it just seemed like such an obvious and predictable story where boys will be boys, and we’ll leave it at that. That’s what I thought, but what I got was so different.

Sorry for ever doubting ya in the first place, Jeffrey.

Movies that feature kids at the fore-front really have to win me over with more than just showing them being funny and insightful by cursing. They have to give me something more, and that’s exactly what this flick did. Instead of reaching for the conventions, and giving me a story that I’ve seen done a hundred times over, Nichols takes that story, and loosens-up it’s hinges a bit. It sort of like Nichols knew the type of genre-movie he was making, and decided to give it a little taste of his own. Not as dirty as I may make it sound, but it sure is fun and entertaining to watch.

"Howdy ya'll!"

“Howdy ya’ll!”

Fun and entertaining in the way that the movie starts off quick and continues to go that way as well. There are moments when the flick decides to get real heavy on us and teach us some lessens, but not anything that really hit us in the face like a fish. Nichols keeps every character and their moments grounded in reality where we see these people who for the types of people they are. Each one, in one way or another, has a relationship with somebody else that you’d never knew about before, but the film brings up and shows you how that developed over time. It’s so interesting to see what you can do with character-development, just through simple and lean conversations. Some of it’s dramatic, some of it’s subtle, and some of it’s obvious, but most of all: it was interesting to see and made me care more for each of these characters as the stakes got higher and the tension began to build.

And once that tension does blow off, it does it in a way that isn’t everything you’d expect from a movie like this. Without jumping down the throats of all of you fine people with spoilers out the wahzoo, I’ll just keep it real simple in the way that the flick does end with some shooting and whatnot, but not like you’d expect. It happens for a reason and not just because Nichols got bored and needed to light up some fire works. Once again, it’s another way of showing how certain people use violence to their advantage and don’t seem to care about the after-effects. Just what needs to happen, and how it can be pulled off. Now, where have I heard that before!?!?

But it is meant to be said that by the end of the movie, things did start to get a tad bit conventional. Almost too much, dare I say it. It isn’t that I didn’t hate the flick for ending the way it did, but going to where I could sort of tell everything that was going to happen, and for what sole reason it was as well. Nichols did everything right leading up to the end, but the actual end itself is a tad of a bummer, for the sake that you know where it’s going to go. Again, I don’t wholly mind when a film goes that way, but it did sort of feel like a cheat, coming from Mr. Jeff Nichols here. He had me going though. He really did.

Though, I can’t be too hard on Nichols, because the guy has assembled a fine cast of characters here and that is definitely meant to be praised more than discouraged. Matthew McConaughey has been on a role as of late, and it doesn’t seem to show any chances of slowing down, by any means. His role as Mud is great for him to play because he gets the chance to, once again, tool around with the idea that we don’t know everything about this guy, what he’s done in his past, why he’s doing it, and if everything he’s saying is all truthful or a tall-tale. The whole time I kept wondering what was up with this guy, and by the end: I still didn’t quite know. But that’s the whole beauty about McConaughey’s performance in how he is able to mess with us, even long after the movie. We get general ideas about the guy where we see he’s a slick, cool, and kind fellow that does things for the people he loves, but a bit too harshly? Maybe? The answers to those questions are left for you and you alone to decide. Get going!

"Please tell me you brought the fucking weed?!?!?"

“Please tell me you brought the fucking weed?!?!?”

Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland play the two boys that find Mud on the island, and remind me of two kids that were picked right out of a Stephen King novel. They curse, spit, swallow, and cause havoc like all kids usually do, but there’s more of a sweetness to them that makes you want to hang out with them, as well as wish the best for them through this wild adventure. Especially Sheridan, who won me over two years ago in The Tree of Life and showed me some real promise as the next, young actor to watch. The kid’s story-line may be a bit too packed for it’s own good, but the kid kept his head above water and that’s more than enough I can say about certain kid actors out there.

After her most recent 15 minutes of fame in the slammer, Reese Witherspoon finds a way to re-group herself from driving and puts her rump down in the acting chair, like she should because she’s good at it when she isn’t choosing shit scripts. That’s a very rare thing for her, but let’s just soak up the moment now, shall we? What’s good about Witherspoon here is that she uses her beauty to her advantage in the way that she never gives you everything you need to know about her, only what you think you need to know. She walks a very fine-line in being both easy to trust, but also a tad mysterious in her ways, and it’s a fine-line that Reese can walk (at least when she’s sober that is!!). I’m really glad that Reese picked up a role like this because it reminded me why the gal was so lovely and so talented in the first place. I mean, hello! She does have an Oscar!

Nichols’ buddy from his past two movies, Michael Shannon is here as an uncle of one of the youngsters and is good, even if he isn’t in it all that much. Actually, the role is so small that it seems like he just showed up for one day of filming, cleared-out his schedule, and went right back to being Zod and reading sorority sister letters. The one who really steals the spot-light away from them all is Sam Shepard who shows them that he is still the bad-ass he once was, even after all of these years. Nice to know that guy’s still around and can do shit and do it right.

Consensus: Mud takes a slight-detour into convention by the end, but it’s a trip that’s worth taking regardless because of the amazing performances, the heartfelt script, and characters that are worth watching because you care for them and feel as if you know them.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Does "staying in character" excuse drinking and driving?

Does “staying in character” excuse drinking and driving?

The Paperboy (2012)

Would have been better, had it been based on the Nintendo games.

Ward, a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother, a college drop-out named Jack (Zac Efron) investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row, named Hillary (John Cusack). However, the only reason they are doing so is because the gal that wants Hillary out, a sexxed-up, piece of work named Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), just so happens to be the apple of Jack’s eyes.

I’ve been hearing a lot of crazy shit about this film and to be honest: it’s all deserved. Everybody knows Lee Daniels because he pulled-off Precious about 4 years ago and it showed him as the type of director that can get a story, no matter how gritty or despicable, and be able to make it in the least-bit inspirational for people. However, it wasn’t his first rodeo, as that honor (and I guess, dishonor) goes to a little, fucked-up movie called Shadowboxer. If you’ve never heard of it, please, don’t go watch it because it’s just an insane piece of work to watch and it will have you question whether or not you’ve just watched two films, from the same director. And if you have heard or have actually seen it, then buckle up, because that exactly the same type of crazy shit you’re going to get here.

As much as Daniels’ debut may have blew huge gonads, this flick is actually more controlled than that one and that’s probably because it’s just wild, without making any excuses for being so. There’s definitely that type of grungy, exploitative look and feel to the movie that has you feel as if you are in the dirty South, around the 60’s when racial-issues were up to the forefront and everybody was just sweating their asses off. If anything Daniels does do right in this flick, it’s at least nail the look and feel of the period that he has it placed-in, but everything else, well, it is sort of all-over-the-place.

Being “all-over-the-place” isn’t really all that much of bad thing if you can do it, and get away with it. The problem isn’t that Daniels can’t do it, because he sure as hell makes sure that everybody knows he can in every, damn second of this movie, but it’s more that he can’t get away with it. He can show two people making each other cum without ever touching one another and just simulating dirty things to one another, but it sticks out like a sore-thumb to everything else, and he can’t get away with it; he can show a girl peeing on a guy because he got stung by a bunch of jelly-fish, but it’s just odd and seems like it was only done for shock-factor, and he also can’t get away with it; and lastly, he can try and bring some issues up about the whole Civil Rights-movement, but when you compare it to the last sequences I just mentioned, it seems uneven, and once again, he can’t get away with it. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar (who apparently wanted to take this material at one time), or even Robert Rodriguez  for that matter, could take this material, do whatever the hell they wanted to with it, and at least make all of the crazy shit and melodramatic stuff gel well enough together, that you almost don’t notice it, but Daniels isn’t one of those directors. He’s just a regular-director that seems like he’s trying his damn near hardest to have us all forget about the over-weight girl story he pulled-off 4 years ago, and try to distract us with insane amounts of sex, whether it actually happen on-screen or just be insinuated. Either way, there’s a bunch of sex that seems to come out nowhere at times.

Look what you've been missing out on, Tom!

Look what you’ve been missing out on, Tom!

Is all of this wackiness and cookiness fun? In a way, yes it is and honestly, as much as I may be ragging on the film right here, I am more or less just hating on Daniels. Not to say that the guy doesn’t know how to make a story move, because he definitely does, but it focuses way too much on the personal lives of these characters and not in an exciting or electric way either, it’s just a boring, way-too-dramatic way that comes off as trying too hard. We never really care for these characters, the case they continue to push to the side, or what their relationships are with each other and how that affects one another, and I guess that was the point. Daniels is just giving us a bunch of dirty people that we can either care to like or not. Whether or not we actually do, doesn’t matter, because as long as Daniels is just allowing us to see how insane he can be, then he’s the one with the real joy in the end. That kind of ticks me off now that I think about it, because there was definitely a crap-ton of promise with this flick and premise, it’s just a shame that it had to fall so far from ever achieving that said promise.

The only promise that this flick ever does hit head-on, is the ensemble cast and what they are able to do with each of their roles, no matter how wacky or unbelievable they may be. Zac Efron is the sort-of voice of reason throughout this whole flick and is definitely growing-up right in front of our own eyes, but if you think about it, it is sort of a dull role for the guy but nowhere near as dull as the role Robert Pattinson had in Cosmopolis. Still, Efron makes this character work and his performance shows-off a kid that definitely wants to be treated like an adult, yet, still has the tendencies of a kid that just doesn’t yet know what to do with his life or who to spend the rest of it with. Sort of how Efron is now, just without being peed-on. Then again, I still have no idea what him and Vanessa Hudgens did in their spare-time.

Playing his big bro, Matthew McConaughey is good as the slick and sly reporter that can not only charm his way into getting whatever the hell he wants, but also has a bit of problems brewing underneath that he’s pretty good at hiding. This is a nice role for McConaughey and it’s one that he can practically play while sleeping, but after a year where tore the roof down as force to be reckoned with in flicks like Killer Joe and Magic Mike, this one definitely ranks the lowest-of-the-low for him. Not to say it’s bad, but it’s not to say that it’s anything special, either. John Cusack is playing really, really against-type here as the psychotic and nutty Hillary, and shows that Cusack can probably do more than any of us ever expected from him. He’s strange, he’s weird, but he’s also very sinister and I like how Cusack totally just swan-dived right into the role, totally leaving all shades and memories behind of Peter Gabriel tapes in his pathway. Not to say that this is a special performance that makes us think of Cusack in a different way now, but it’s definitely a role that shows the guy can do more than just be that old dude from the 80’s we all remember relating to when our dates walked-out on us at prom. Yeah, that he is no more.

Better get used to that look, because that's all you're going to see him look half of the damn movie!

Better get used to that look, because that’s all you’re going to see him look half of the damn movie!

The one who really steals the spotlight from the rest of these dudes is Nicole Kidman, as the starlet fire fox, Charlotte. Kidman hasn’t been this sexy or bad-ass since the days of Eyes Wide Shut and To Die For, but here, she totally steals all the glory and attention, and has all of the fun out of everybody here. She just relishes in the fact that she can be sexy, be a little dirty, but also be a little bit sympathetic as well and once things start to go South for her and this story, she’s the only one you really give a single hoot about, especially since she’s the only one that has the most believable convictions out of the whole story (she just wants love). Kidman is probably getting the most recognition and praise for her work here and rightfully so, because the gal just looks freakin’ hot and steams up every scene she’s in, whether she’s trying to seduce people and act sexy, or not. Either way, Kidman definitely had my attention in almost every scene and I’m glad so, too, because she deserved it.

Consensus: You may have a boat-load of fun with The Paperboy if you’re looking for some weird shit to happen, non-stop without any rhyme or reason as to why exactly, but if not, then you may just be bored and annoyed by how uneven everything is, despite Daniels trying his hardest to make us think or see otherwise. You strike-out this time, my friend!

6/10=Rental!!

"I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd....."

“I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd…..”

Bernie (2012)

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r_vwbnik3aU/T8UeJ1eyuDI/AAAAAAAADIU/H7rdcUfxfiQ/s1600/bernie-poster-500x740.jpgGod loves everyone. Even murderers of 81-year-old grannies. Yes, even them.

Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is a well-liked, somewhat effeminate, small town assistant-funeral director from rural eastern Texas who first befriended and some years later murder a wealthy but highly-disliked widow named Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacClaine). It sound simple and understandable, however, Bernie is probably the most loved man in town and some people find it really all that hard that he killed a woman in such cold blood. This is where Texas State’s Attorney Danny Buck (Michael McConaughey) comes in to set the record straight, once and for all.

That synopsis sounds like a pretty straight-forward, understandable thriller, but what makes it so different from others is the fact that it is all real, all took place, and pretty much, all features the real-life people involved. I mean with a compelling story like this, you could have easily wrote it down as a documentary, or television special that features candid interviews with people who knew the subjects, people who are interested by what’s happening, and the actual subjects, themselves. It would have been a pretty interesting documentary that I probably would have checked-out some time down the road, but writer/director Richard Linklater takes it one-step further by not only going along with the whole documentary look-and-feel, but also making it a very, glitzy dramatization of it as well, offering us both sides of the coin and to see what may, or may not have actually happened.

Being that this is half-documentary, half-dramatizations, there’s a lot more to interest the hell out of you and make you feel as if everything you are seeing, is in-fact, exactly how it went done. The reason for that being, is the fact that Linklater offers a whole bunch of candid interviews with these townspeople who either heard of the subjects, met them once in life, had them over for Thanksgiving dinner, played ball with them, had their funeral-service by them, or just plain and simply knew them for all that they were. This aspect of the movie is so cool to see since every person they get to actually talk in this movie, are pretty funny to listen to and use colloquialisms as if Linklater was standing there with a $5 bill, holding it in-front of their noses, waiting till they use some witty-line in order to gain the moolah. They’re all very funny, very entertaining to watch, but most of all, very insightful as you feel like you’re getting the real story from real people that know what type of shit they’re talking about.

However, the other aspect of this movie, the dramatizations, aren’t that shabby either as they are just as interesting as the actual-interviews themselves. Without these dramatizations, the movie would have been pretty damn depressing if you ask me, but they keep the story going to where you understand the characters, understand the setting, and understand exactly what we’re getting ourselves into with the situation and it actually offers up some funky ideas about life, being human, and the way the people work, that I really wasn’t expecting for it to hit.

For instance, most of you probably already know by now that Bernie does in-fact end-up killing this old lady because he’s practically tortured by her and all that she makes him do, without any real kindness involved whatsoever. Even though he does eventually get pinched for it and confesses to the crime, people still feel as if he shouldn’t be put away, despite being a known, cold-blooded killer. Yes, Bernie killed this old lady, Marjorie, but you also can’t seem to blame him all that much either. Yeah, the guy may have want a bit overboard by killing some old lady no matter how mean she was to him and as well all know, killing never solves anything, but he’s not a bad guy, doesn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body, and most importantly, doesn’t even seem like he has any rhyme or reason to ever, ever kill again. He’s a just simple guy that ‘effed-up big-time and for all I’m concerned, I actually feel like the guy deserved a second-chance, even though other cases like these ones I would have probably shooed away instantly. You start to think what’s justifiable and what’s not, and it’s just pretty interesting to see how this film makes you think, a lot more than you expected to and it’s something that Linklater does best whenever he’s telling a story, whether it be real or fictional.

Where I think Linklater runs into a big-problem with this story is, is the fact that we can never really take it too seriously, to the point of where we feel an emotional-connection to the story. The only really serious bone in this movie, comes-out probably twice and both actually concern Bernie himself, coming to terms with the fact that he’s doing something terribly, terribly wrong. Murder is a subject in a movie that has been done to a very dark, comedic-effect before, but it just feels off here and you can never really take anything this movie deals with, as seriously as most of the real-life people in this movie actually do. It’s never funny, but it’s always interesting, and as great as that was to see on-screen, I still wished there was more of an understandable and reasonable approach to a story that could have meant more.

But the person who really makes up for all of those problems in terms of tone and pacing, is the one, the only, everybody’s most-hated actor, Jack Black. Yes, Jack Black does in-fact star in this movie as Bernie Tiede and even though most of you now probably saw the poster, read the synopsis and saw that J.B’s name was attached to it, you most likely already wrote it off as a piece of crap that doesn’t need to be seen, especially since the guy will probably sing and dance like a buffoon. In case you were wondering, yes, Black does sing, he does dance, and he does do everything else that you know and (mostly) hate him for, but it’s a lot different this time around with Bernie. See, since Bernie is such a nice, calm, and peaceful fellow, Black plays-up the whole “wholesome” angle to this guy that made the real-life person so beloved and cared-for in the first place. He acts like the nicest guy in the room, and 9 times out of 10, usually is. You can’t help but fall in love with this Bernie guy, almost as much and almost as quick as the actual townspeople themselves, and most of that is all thanks to Black and how even though he doesn’t change a single-lick about his act, appearance  or demeanor, still is fun to watch and keeps the story moving just when you think it may, just may run out of steam.

Just like Black here, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine both play, real-life people and although they don’t steal the show quite like Black, they still do alright jobs with what they’re given. McConaughey is fun to watch as the show-boating, hammy district attorney that just wants more recognition to his name, rather than actual pride and respect; and Shirley MacLaine is alright as the mean, old, and nasty granny that is Marjorie, but isn’t someone we really care about, think about, or remember once she’s all gone from the story. As for the actual-townspeople themselves, most of them play them actual selves in the dramatizations, but also some actors and actresses play in their roles as well and it’s sort of annoying because it makes you question just how much of this is really as legitimate as it may propose. The interviews with the real-life people were good, but once I started to find-out that more and more of these interviews were scripted with actors in the roles, I was a bit skeptical as to what I was just forced-down my throat and whether or not it was the truth, or just plain and simple, liberties that all filmmakers take with any story to spice it up. I’m feeling a bit of the latter part, myself.

Consensus: Being based on an actual, cooky story is what helps Bernie in being a compelling and interesting take on a story none of us had ever, ever heard about before, yet, you still never really know what exactly happened and if it was all for real, or just a bunch of scenes added for dramatic-effect. Hmmm, only few and few people actually know that and I’m mostly looking at you, Linklater.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Killer Joe (2012)

Never in my life have I wanted KFC more.

The story centers on a brother (Emile Hirsch) and sister (Juno Temple) combo who plot the death of their mother for the insurance money and hire “Killer Joe” Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) , a cop and contract killer to do the deed.

After hearing about all of the crazy controversy about this movie and it’s NC-17 rating, I knew I had to just check it out and see what all of the damn fuss is about. Yeah, it sounds strange that I would only want to go and see a flick based on it’s rating but come on, doesn’t it feel cool just going into an NC-17 movie, knowing that there’s going to be some dirty stuff that only you’re allowed to see. Actually when I word it like that, it sounds creepy. Never mind then.

76-year old legendary director William Friedkin shows that he still has the style and look to pull off any story, even the insanely-violent ones. Apparently this film was adapted from a stage-play (which is weird because I don’t necessarily think there is any audience out there that’s willing to see this type of material on stage) but Friedkin seems like he can do a lot more with it, than just making it a bunch of talking heads scenes. And even when there is talking heads scenes, they are suspenseful and very entertaining, with a whole bunch of dark comedy that will surely make you laugh, even at times that you don’t think you should.

The balance of dark humor and trashy violence is one of the key elements to Friedkin’s flick and he shows that he can make us laugh one second, but look away the next at how gruesome some of this material can get. The violence in this flick doesn’t happen all of the time, but when it does, it looks disgusting, ruthless, and so brutal to the point of where you can almost feel it. I won’t lie to you, I looked away from time-to-time, but not long enough to miss what Friedkin was showing us up on the screen: some straight-up, trailer-trash beatings. Great to see that Friedkin still has the touch that people have always seen him have back in his old days and it sort of gives hope to a lot of those older directors out there now who seem to be slowing down and getting softer in their old age. But not this guy, no sirree.

But as good as Friedkin may be behind-the-camera, the story somehow falters because everybody here, is just about as unlikable and distasteful as the next. Usually, when you have these types of stories where everybody is a baddie and you don’t know who to fall back on, there’s at least one character who at least seems likable more than them all, which there is here with Killer Joe himself, but whenever he isn’t around, you don’t really care much about anything or anybody else. These characters just go from doing one bad thing to another and it only gets worse and worse as the story goes on, which ultimately means that we start to care less and less for them and when their lives are in danger, we don’t really seem to care. I guess that’s the whole point of this film, but it didn’t do much for me.

Another problem that I seemed to have with this flick is that no matter how good it was with it’s intense dialogue and performances, it still felt a lot like a stage-play. A lot of the action that happens here, just takes place in a trailer-park home where it centered around two people just talking about God knows what. These conversations that these people have work well and distract us a bit from what seems overly-stagey, but when it comes right down to it, it still feels like a stage-play adapted to the big-screen with barely any changes here except for the actors and actresses.

However, where the story falters, the performances take over and keep your eyes on-screen the whole time. Emile Hirsch turns in another great lead performance here as Chris. Hirsch is one of those young, underrated actors that I think deserves more credit for taking challenging roles like these, rather than going down the teen idol path he could have easily gone for back when he did Speed Racer. Yeah, the movie sucked but girls were swooning all-over-the-place. His character bothered me, though, because it almost felt like this guy was getting too corrupt and dumb for his own good, and where it almost seemed like a cliché. Thankfully, the other characters distracted me enough from this problem but I still noticed it, none the less.

He is joined by Juno Temple, who plays his sister, Dottie, in one of those sweet, little innocent girl roles that doesn’t feel manipulative and we actually care for her character the most out of everybody else. She’s definitely the easiest character out of the bunch to feel some sympathy for and she feels more human than everybody else, if a tad contrived with all of her good-girl aspirations. Playing their parents are Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon, and both show that they have that off-kilter type of humor down-pat, but Gershon definitely feels like she’s stretching her acting talents a bit too far for her own good. However, her first appearance in this movie will probably have most people forgetting about her “acting talents” in the first place.

Still, as good as everybody is here, they don’t stand a chance against Matthew McConaughey‘s incredible performance as Killer Joe, a role that he seemed born to play. It seems like ever since The Lincoln Lawyer came out last year, McConaughey has been doing more and more roles that show the type of talents he has as an actor, rather than a guy who goes around, chasing babes like Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson, amongst others. There are amazingly hot and sexy ladies, but it doesn’t help his career out and I think he was starting to realize that, and that’s why he’s totally changing it all up this year. He was great as Dallas in Magic Mike, showing that he could steal just about every single damn scene he was in there, and he does the same thing here with this film but it’s a way different character from Dallas. Joe is a stone-cold killer that just looks like one of those menacing, mysterious dudes you do not ever want to mess with, ever.

However, this guy isn’t just a scary-ass dude the whole way through, McConaughey still brings out a lot of his charm and good looks to make this character seem like your everyday, good old Southern boy that you could see strolling through the streets with his cowboy hat and horse. But as time goes on, we start to see something more twisted and sinister inside of his mind in what could be some of the most tense last 20 minutes to any other film I have seen this whole year. Basically, McConaughey has totally re-invented himself by taking all of these different and darker roles which show the type of skill he has as an actor and it’s something I can’t wait to see more of. Let’s just hope he stays away from those damn rom-coms.

Consensus: Though the story may falter, Killer Joe still features a top-notch cast (especially a stand-out McConaughey), a tense and wild direction from Friedkin, and a great balance of dark humor and shocking violence/sex.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Magic Mike (2012)

I think it’s time to reconsider my career options.

Veteran stripper Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) teaches a novice (Alex Pettyfer) about the occupation while seeking a lifestyle outside the world of stripping with the help of his protégé’s sister (Cody Horn). They work at the club Xquisite, which is owned by the former stripper Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).

I have to admit it, a “male stripper movie” is not necessarily aimed towards my demographic. Young, straight, sexy *cough cough*, male that prefers the men around him to keep their clothes on. But “male stripper movie” directed by Steven Soderbergh is right up my alley.

Yes, the same Steven Soderbergh that is known for such flicks like Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven, Out of Sight, and Contagion, amongst others, is now doing a flick where it focuses on the life-style where dudes take their clothes off, get half-naked, dance around, get dollar bills thrown at them, and give lamp-dances to some lucky ladies in the audience. Really frickin’ strange that Soderbergh somehow found cinematic inspiration in that idea but he pulls it off here, somewhere, somehow.

What I liked most about this flick is that it has the perfect style of a Soderbergh flick. The camera has a very distinct look to it where the night-life is full of exotic and wild colors coming from every end of the area, whereas the regular, everyday life is full of this grayish look that makes everything seem like the sun hasn’t come out for days and is just trapped behind this huge-ass cloud that won’t move. There’s also a couple of other cool camera tricks here as well where Soderbergh does a couple of neat static shots that make you feel like you’re right there. Come to think of it, other than the stripping scenes, he barely moves the camera at all and that’s what was really cool about Soderbergh is how he just allowed the story to do the talking itself and just kept his camera right there. Crazy how directors can put their own little stamps on anything they do and make it work, just as long as they aren’t getting in the way of anything.

However, this isn’t a film that’s all about Soderbergh’s verité style, it’s about the men and their clothes getting ripped off in front of hundreds and hundreds of horny women and that’s exactly what this film delivers! Woo-hoo! The first time we get a full show of what goes on with the actual show itself, is probably some of the most fun I’ve had at the movie theater in so damn long. Really, I never would have ever in my right mind thought that I would be having so much fun watching a bunch of dudes rip their clothes off, but I couldn’t help but feel the same excitement that every single one of the ladies around me felt as well. Now of course my excitement was a different kind of one compared to theirs, but whenever these guys came out and started dancing and doing their thing, a certain type of energy just came-out of this film and it was almost infectious.

I don’t know what got over me, or my good buddy Paulie that I saw this with (also young, straight, sexy, and a male), but every time these guys went out on-stage, a smile just went right on my face and I just enjoyed the hell out of myself. It also helped that the crowd I was with loved the sight of half-naked dudes running rampant all-over-the-stage as well so it created this vibe that made me feel like I was actually at a male strip-club with them, just watching the show. These scenes aren’t taking so seriously either and I caught myself laughing hysterically at what I was seeing with all of these shows. And when you have a director like Soderbergh, that’s something surprising because he could have easily made all of these specific scenes just come off as some of the most depressing things to ever grace the screen, but he lets it all roll and have a good time as if he was the club promoter himself. Who knows, maybe that’s what he does in his spare time. Actually, that would make him the busiest man in Hollywood considering he makes about 3 movies each year, so no, never mind about that claim.

But underneath all of the glitz and the glamour of this life that is shown, there is also a story that grounds it all out. Yes, the film does have a story that’s somewhat dramatic but it’s handled well and focuses on Mike as he tries to help this kid out with making it big and also try to do what he wants to do and get out of the stripping business. All sounds very cliched and predictable, which it does get after awhile, but the film handles this story with such emotional honesty that it’s hard not to fall for it and believe everything it’s throwing at you. Believe it or not, this story does actually get dark but not too dark, to the point of no return. It gets just dark enough to where it can eventually lift itself back-up with another lap-dance or two. Hey, can’t go wrong with that.

If there was one big problem I had with this flick that kept me away from giving it a 9, it was that the story does get very predictable by the end and doesn’t really tell us anything new we haven’t already seen from flicks that are just like this. A theme like having too much, too soon is shown in countless other flicks like Saturday Night Fever, Boogie Nights, Goodfellas, and even a lesser-known one, Middle Men, and it’s shown here with the same exact precision, and same exact results. Tried to be a cautionary tale, but in the end, it didn’t matter whether or not we got the message, we just wanted to have fun, which is exactly what we had.

2012 will probably go down in the books as the best year of Channing Tatum‘s life. Honestly, this guy has been kickin’ ass this whole year with Haywire (another film by Soderbergh), The Vow (I know I’m the minority on that one), 21 Jump Street, what was supposed to be G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and now this. This is basically Tatum’s story because it was based off of his experiences and what better person to play the lead, then the person who knows it best. Tatum is great in this role as Magic Mike because he plays up every single emotion we have ever seen him play, ever. He’s funny, he’s sad, he’s inspired, he’s horny, he’s drunk, he’s high, he’s mad, he’s happy, and most of all, he knows how to freakin’ dance. Holy shit man! I know that this kid could dance from his days in Step Up, but he really lets it all-out here and shows that he can not only back his good-looks up with some acting chops, but also some nice dance moves that will absolutely knock your socks off once you see what he pulls off. Seriously, I got frickin’ jealous. And that never happens because I know I’m in such a better shape than that chump will ever be in.

Playing his kinda-sorta love-interest, Cody Horn is alright here but she’s a little stiff with her line delivery as it seems like she doesn’t know what to say next to all of the shit Tatum says and actually does. Her character was also one of those stand-offish types of people that didn’t approve of something that one person did, so they continue to lecture them and try to show their disapproval for all that they do. Lame! Playing her little bro in this movie, Alex Pettyfer shows some real skill as an actor with a role that will hopefully get his name out there more than it did last year with bombs like I Am Number Four and Beastly. Sheesh!

But the one cast member that I couldn’t stop thinking about when this whole movie was over, was in fact, Matthew McConaughey playing the sleazy club owner, Dallas. Here’s the thing with McConaughey: he’s talented, has great comic delivery, looks great, and knows how to act whenever a flick needs him to. The problem is, he always gets himself stuck in the same, old rom-com roles that do nothing for him other than make him look like an utter fool. Thankfully, he’s back in full-action with his role here and shows that he can do it all. He totally plays up that party-boy act we all know and love him for, but there’s also something very dark deep-down inside of all of it, a darkness that actually gets shown more and more as the film progresses. This is great to see McConaughey go through with this character because whenever he’s funny and having a good time, he made me laugh my ass off, but whenever he got mad and you could tell his character meant business, I got scared shitless, wondering just what the hell he was going to do next. That’s how great this role is for him and he plays it up all so perfectly. So perfectly, that he may even come by with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor come around February of 2013. But that’s a stretch, I know.

Oh, and for all of you wrestling fans out there, Kevin Nash is also up in this bitch playing a huge male-stripper that goes by the name of Tarzan. Have no idea why the hell he’s in this, but at least he’s getting some line of work.

Consensus: Even though the story may get predictable by the end, Magic Mike is still a flick that has fun with its premise and fills it with sleaze, humor, raunch, glitz, glamour, great performances from the cast, and plenty of memorable stripping sequences that will surely have you inspired to go out there and try and work that pole like no other. Then again, maybe not.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

This film really did make California look like a crap hole.

Tasked with defending rich lothario Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe), who’s been charged with assault, lawyer Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) finds himself and his family in danger when he deduces the truth behind this and former cases he’s worked on.

This is based off the 2005 crime best-seller, that I still have not read, but after seeing this, I don’t really think I need to read it.

There’s not nothing new here that we haven’t seen before. The plot plays out like you would expect a courtroom drama to play out, and almost everything that happens seems like it came from some other film of this nature. However, that’s not always a bad thing.

Director Brad Furman keeps this film going at a slick and quick pace. He keeps us interested in this plot because he films this so tightly, that we actually do start to wonder, what exactly is going to happen next. The screenplay written by John Romano goes well with Furman’s direction, because a lot of the twists and turns that this story takes here, actually seem believable and not put on. I love old-style courtroom thrillers, and this brought me back to the good old days of when you could just sit back, and watch a crime be solved right in front of  your eyes.

My main complaint with this film is that I didn’t like how this was shot. Furman uses a very dirty look that was trying to show California in a crap way, but instead just seemed dumb and intentional to show how much of a crap hole it can look like. It looks gritty for the sake of looking gritty and this just seemed put-on.

I think Mick Haller is the perfect role for Matthew McConaughey, and he actually pulls it off real well. It’s been awhile since McConaughey has actually head-lined a “good” film, probably because he’s been too busy with those shitty romantic comedies, but this role was a good reminder as to why he doesn’t always have to do them. He’s smug and cocky but at the same time, determined to get his job done in any way possible. McConaughey does a wonderful and believable job as Haller, and has me hoping he’ll continue to take roles like this in the future. The rest of the supporting cast is awesome. Ryan Phillipe is very evil and vindictive as Louis Roulet, who as time goes on, becomes a very, very bad kid. Marisa Tomei also pops up and does a good job as Maggie, and let’s not forget William H. Macy who is always a sight to see, and is not different here as Frank. The rest of this great cast is filled with the likes of John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, Josh Lucas, and Frances Fisher.

Consensus: The Lincoln Lawyer doesn’t offer anything new to the courtroom thriller genre, but a well-paced story, with interesting mystery, and great acting from the cast, keep this somewhat predictable film, entertaining enough.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Its funny, even the 4th time around.

This combat film send-up from director-star Ben Stiller tracks a group of actors who are forced to become real-life soldiers when they’re abandoned in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The all-star cast includes Robert Downey Jr. (in an Oscar-nominated role), Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Nick Nolte, with an unrecognizable (and Golden Globe–nominated) Tom Cruise playing a crude movie mogul.

For the most part, I have seen this film about 4 times, and almost every time I laugh more. When I first saw this, I didn’t quite get the satire the film was using, however, knowing more and more about the movie biz I understood everything that this movie was saying.

The script I have to say is very well-written with some of the best satire in a long time. The jokes here are centered towards anybody, because the films finds its ways to make fun of anyone and everyone: blacks, whites, homosexuals, mentally-challenged, drug addicts, and of course celebrities. All of these jokes are in bad taste, but almost every single gag works. Some people don’t understand the jokes because its jokes are more Hollywood based, so it will go over some people’s heads, but once you understand the joke, their actually very funny and smart.

However, I will say that some of the jokes were pretty stupid, and it seems like they were trying their hardest to get a lot of really funny jokes out there, and it just looked like they were trying too hard. Don’t get me wrong they were funny, but sometimes, it seemed like it was just itching for the laughs.

The cast is the main reason why this film works. Each star gets credit, cause they take the bait, by letting themselves be made fun of. Ben Stiller is the typical down-grading action star, Jack Black is the drug-addicted, fat comedy man, Brandon T. Jackson is playing the rapper-turned-actor, who can’ stop drinking booty sweat, and Jay Baruchel, is…well….the guy who’s just there. Each character makes fun of someone, and its easy to see who, but others will just go over your head.

The two best worth mentioning are obviously the only two that were nominated for awards. Robert Downey Jr., sometimes didn’t make any sense when he talked, but he is hilarious when I did understand him. He has the greatest lines of the whole movie, and brings nothing other than his A game, and makes everything funny. Tom Cruise, is also funny as hell. He brings a lot of random funny as hell moments, with his random out-bursts, and spoof of real-life agents.

Consensus: Tropic Thunder sometimes tries too hard to bring laughs, with some easily offensive ones, but is other than that, a hilarious spoof, that is boosted even more by the great performances.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)

Hopefully, none of my ex-girlfriends will come back to tell me how to live my life.

When he attends his younger brother’s wedding, playboy Connor (Matthew McConaughey) is troubled to discover that the ghosts of his many girlfriends have come to give him a piece of their mind and teach him a thing or two about true love. As the apparitions visit him, he rediscovers old feelings for the first love of his life(Jennifer Garner).

Now, my good buddies at Spill.com gave this film a Full Pricee!!!!, even some going as far as to call it one of the best of the year. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you guys that this movie, well it sucks.

This is an obvious riff off of the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, but where that has charm this does not. The one huge problem with this film is that it uses all of the obvious wedding, and romantic comedy cliches any film took. Like the wedding cake falls to the ground, oh haven’t seen that one before. Or, how about the cheesy slapstick that happens when a guy drives all the way through snow crashing and hitting trees about 10 times, without an amount of injury, yeah the originality is so here.

The movie does have a couple of good laughs which does save it from being the worst film I’ve ever seen so I’ll give it that. But other than that, it offers nothing new to the romantic comedy genre. The movie basically degrades woman and how each and every one is just a slut looking to do anything just to get laid, and I was appalled by how much of this actual stereotype took over the film as it went along.

The chemistry between Garner and McConaughey is down right terrible. I didn’t sense any real love between these two and if anything, just found it to be a silly excuse for a nice romantic love interest. Now respectively, there are good performances from the cast. McConaughey is funny, although I don’t think he’s the best comedic choice for this movie, but he does an OK job. Garner is OK, I just thought her character was so highly intellectual, that I couldn’t believe why she would want to be with this asshole after all. Michael Douglas shows up and gives a funny supporting performance as the man who leads McConaughey to his snarling ways, and brings the more heart and comedy to the film. I loved Emma Stone in this film, cause she is dressed up so 80s and dirty, that its even more funny when she brings out some of the cheesiest lines, but makes them funny.

Consensus: Taking a rip-off the Charles Dickens novel, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, has some comedy and good performances, but overall lacks the charm, chemistry between the two leads, and originality that all romantic comedies need.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

Dazed and Confused (1993)

God, I wish I partied in the 70s.

Director Richard Linklater takes an autobiographical look at some Texas teens (including Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey) on their last day of school in 1976, centering on student Randall Floyd (Jason London), who moves easily among stoners, jocks and geeks. Floyd is a star athlete, but he also likes smoking weed, which presents a conundrum when his football coach demands he sign a “no drugs” pledge.

The film is basically set around a bunch of high school kids, on the last day of school, just partying, smoking weed, and getting drunk. All sounds stupid, but somehow its not at all.

Linklater is probably one of the best writers in the business we have today. He makes all these different types of characters, seem more than the image their given. This movie feels exactly like high school, and just by the way these kids talk. You sense the realism within the characters when they talk about anything from drugs, women, cars, etc. You see how everybody interacts with each other and who’s cool with who. Not only does he capture the essence of the spirit within these kids but also the sense of boredom in their small town.

The film captures so much spirit and life its hard not to be jealous. You feel the world that these kids live in, and you actually want to be there. They have so much fun so little time, but in real life they still have problems. That is what brought out the humanity in this film and when it actually becomes realistic by how sad these kids are running their lives. You felt like you were with these kids the whole time this partying was going down, and you kind of wish you were with them. The rocking soundtrack consisting of wonderful 70s rock classics just make this film even better and add such a fun taste to the film, as if it wasn’t already.

I felt like the hazing idea of seniors beating on freshmen was a little too over-played to the point of where it was just boring. I mean I could only believe in this story of seniors doing this for so long until it became a bore for me, and then I actually wondered: are these guys bored too?

The whole cast is so great, and so young that you can just spot up-and-coming stars with these performances. Jason London brings a lot of humanity to his character, also with Adam Goldberg the nerd that has heart. But the two best and probably funniest in this film for me was definably the two great stoner characters. Rory Cochrane as Ron Slater is very funny, and I can see where James Franco got his character from Pineapple Express from now. But honestly he is no match for the greatest of all-time, get ready for it, Matthew McConaughey. That’s right people McConaughey is simply the funniest part in this film, with so many great lines, you just want to jump in the screen and just stand right next to him and taste the coolness. He is such a great character that Linklater creates, that I have to give him as one of my favorite of all-time, yeah I just went there. There are also funny little young performances from Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey, and of course a funny young performance from Ben Affleck.

Consensus: Dazed and Confused is a 24-hour period tale that is filled with such rich dialogue, a great rockin soundtrack, and wonderful characters and performances that you don’t want this party to stop.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

A Time to Kill (1996)

Samuel L. Jackson doing more upstaging than ever.

When two white men brutally rape a young black girl in a small Mississippi town, the child’s vengeful father (Samuel L. Jackson) fears their acquittal and takes the law into his own hands. But as his trial date approaches, all hell breaks loose. Aided by lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) and his spunky legal assistant (Sandra Bullock), the father fights to stay out of prison and salve his daughter’s terrible memories.

A Time To Kill introduces some obvious material and introduces characters we have all seen before. But instead the movie has the way of taking the ordinary and spinning these characters into a very believable story and characters.

Much of the story seems like a typical courtroom drama but doesn’t fall too short for the courtroom cliches. The screenplay is very witty and smart and does fully capture the essence and the feel of John Grisham’s novel. I also did enjoy how I could feel the tension that lied in between the town, between the KKK and the African Americans. It felt real and with almost every scene there was something always new to reignite this feud and it added more of a feel.

The performances turn this film around for the best. Matthew McConaughey, plays probably one his best roles that have could’ve been laughable, but is very believable with his utterly strong but sane performance. Samuel L. Jackson upstages everyone in this film and plays a different person. He’s not the tough S.O.B you knew him in all his others, he’s actually kind and does feel regret towards his actions and were able to feel his emotion coming through his performance.

By the end of the film though it started to feel like this film was a little too cornball. Matthew’s speech by the end of the film felt too forced and very obvious along with the end result which feels like it was not very believable.

The story is a theme on the great separation between whites and blacks, and I felt like this was brought out very well if it weren’t for some of the clan scenes. I did like their feud I just didn’t feel it was too needed to create a huge feud and the extra violence was put in just to be put in.

Consensus: The strong and convincing performances, along with a clever script make this film good but at times falls for the obvious cliches all courtroom dramas have.

7/10=Rentall!!!

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