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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

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The Limits of Control (2009)

Hiring a guy who doesn’t talk at all to kill somebody, actually seems like a pretty wise business-decision.

A lone man (Isaach de Bankolé) sets out to do a job he has been hired to do. Though it’s not exactly clear what this job is, he knows that the only way to get it done without any screw-ups is to have no sex, drugs, booze or even fun. Yes, pretty much the life of this lone man is to just sit around at a cafe, have two espressos (in separate cups, mind you) and wait around for something to happen. Somehow, it does, but without him or any of us watching at home, knowing. A woman who fantasizes about Hitchock’s movies (Tilda Swinton) comes around; a guy who discusses the meaning of the word “Bohemian” (John Hurt); and a random, Hispanic man (Gael García Bernal) gives him a guitar. It doesn’t make any sense, but apparently it’s supposed to lead us to the one rich, powerful man we’ve been waiting for this whole time (Bill Murray).

Listen, I know I’m not the biggest Jim Jarmusch fan out there. So I’m not going to try and sit here and act as if I am totally and utterly surprised that this movie turned-out to be just one, two-hour-long film about practically nothing. I kid you not, there is literally nothing to hold onto here. And in a way, I sort of get it.

I get that Jarmusch is trying to make the perfect, quintessential “anti-thriller”. For instance, early on in the movie, our hired-killer is told that “everything is subjective”, meaning that just about every decision or choice he makes, is totally up to him. However, I read that as a way of Jarmusch trying to tell us that yes, as boring and repetitious as this movie may be, it is up to us to look further into it and make up our own minds about what he’s trying to do. He’s not going to flat-out tell us, straight-up what message or mood he’s trying to convey.

There Paz de la Huerta goes again with no clothes on!

There that Paz de la Huerta goes again with no clothes on!

Which, as a movie-goer that appreciates a bit more of a thinking-process involved with the entertainment of watching movies, is something I have to respect. It’s very so rare to where I get to watch a film of where everything is practically left open to my interpretation. Not those thousands and thousands of others across the globe that are yelling about it and discussing it all over message boards (if they even have such a thing for Jim Jarmusch movies), but me. Me and myself alone!

However, I will admit, that even on some occasions, a little hand-holding could do me some good and this was one of those instances where I needed more than just hand-holding – I needed a freakin’ grab of the head, letting me know just of where the hell this was going! Seriously.

I mean, for the first 20 minutes of this thing, I stayed interested. I knew it was going to keep on moving with the same downtrodden, slow-as-molasses pace, so I should have just stayed happy with it, but that’s not all that happens. Rather than actually having this movie go on for so long, as slow as it does, we never get any characterization of anybody we are introduced to whatsoever. Heck, I don’t even think we get a single person’s name! Just “person with blonde wig”, or “Mexican dude”. That’s pretty much it and it frustrated the hell out of me after awhile because I never got a single clue as to who these people were that kept on popping in and out, why they mattered and if I needed to know anything about them whatsoever to further enhance the plot.

And mostly, these characters that just randomly show up here and there, are meant to be random and slightly idiosyncratic. I get that was the point and because of that being so, some of the performances are actually pretty entertaining; John Hurt, in particular, as the kind of spirited, energetic guy a movie like this needs to keep viewers awake. However, the point was thrown out the window once one of the characters plays a bit of a bigger part later in the movie, where we’re supposed to have a certain feeling towards them and whatever bad stuff is happening to them. Instead of giving the movie that pleasure of having them feel like they’ve really done a number on me, I had no idea what the hell was going, so I was more puzzled than anything.

Eventually though, that confused feeling turned into just downright anger with this movie. After awhile, I stopped caring about anything, or anybody for that matter. The only scene that actually had me awake by the later-part was when we’re suddenly placed into a dance club where people are making out, dancing, singing, drinking, and having a good time, while the lone man we’re stuck with, just stares on and has a weird, somewhat creepy smirk on his face. The only two reasons why this scene comes to my mind in particular is because it woke me the hell up, and also, because LCD Soundsystem is the band playing in the background during this scene.

Get the Hitchcock thing now?

Get the Hitchcock thing now? Yeah, me neither.

So yeah, anytime James Murphy is in a movie, without actually being in the movie, not only is it made a bit better, but also keeps my eyes open, if only for ten minutes longer.

Sadly though, James Murphy, believe it or not, was not enough to save this movie. Most of the problems with this movie you could chalk up to Jim Jarmusch and his reliance on just being as vague as humanly possible, and I don’t think you’d be at all wrong in doing that. Usually his sense of an offbeat style works so well for him and the characters he’s building, but here, it really seemed to work against him. Didn’t work for him, the movie, his cast or even most of whom saw this movie. But then again, I guess a 44% ain’t all that bad!

WAIT, WHAT?!?!? 44%!??!? FOR THIS HUNK OF CRAP!?!?!

Consensus: Though it’s easy to understand what Jim Jarmusch is trying to do with the Limits of Control‘s relaxed pace, it never builds to anything, except for maybe total confusion as to who everybody is, why they matter and why we’re even watching this two-hour slog in the first place.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Ek! The pretentiousness!

The pretentiousness! Ek!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Think of a duel between Don Corleone and Samurai Jack, with the Wu-Tang Clan blasting somewhere in the background. Yeah, pretty weird.

Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) is a quiet, lonely hitman, living in the modern world. Nothing really all that strange about that right? Well, he is a hitman that adheres to the code of the samurai; meaning he doesn’t use technology, has total respect for those who employs him and can only be contacted by carrier pigeon. As odd as this may seem, it somehow has been working for him for the longest time, all until he finds himself in a huge pickle once the mob that hired him to do the job, decide that he botched it up and want him dead. However, Ghost don’t play that shit and they’re going to most likely find that out.

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Jim Jarmusch. The guy seems like he has his own certain style that pretty much leans only towards his audience and kind of says, “‘eff off” to those who aren’t as fond of it, or not nearly as hip as those who do like and appreciate his work. I think I’m a bit part of the latter, which is why I wasn’t really looking forward to watching his mash-up of a gangster and samurai film. Seems a bit of a strange mixture to put together in the first place, and having Jarmusch being the one to combine the two, only made it seem the more odd.

However, it seems like without Jarmusch, this material couldn’t have even worked any other way.

Don't you just hate it when that happens?!?

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?!?

What I liked about this flick and Jarmusch’s direction is that the guy settles things down pretty quickly, and allows us to feel the nature and essence of this story. It’s a pretty standard story of a hired-job-gone-wrong and the people having to pay for it, but the way Jarmusch focuses more on the characters, the style behind the characters, and the setting that surrounds them is something that makes this a tad different than many other crime movies of this nature. There’s a laid-back feel to this movie that doesn’t really kick-start up once the action does; it sort of just moves around. But it’s never boring because of that. Instead, it gave me a clearer-view of whom I was working with here and got me ready for the grisly violence that actually came to be a bit of a shock for me.

Though Jarmusch is, in essence, a very stylish-director, the violence he portrays in this movie doesn’t really have all that much style to it. There’s a lot of guns being touted-around like candy; gun being fired; blood squibs flying; limbs being torn-apart; and more than enough people getting offed in some pretty reckless ways. It’s all standard crime-thriller stuff that we’ve seen a hundred times before, but Jarmusch does something neat with it that makes it work moreso for him and his legion of fans.

That mainly has to do with how Jarmusch is able to incorporate humor and a bit of dark comedy to each scene that features somebody getting shot-up. It almost reminded me a bit of a Coen Brothers movie where somebody’s head could be practically on the ground, and they’d still find a way to make a chuckle or two about it. That’s how Jarmusch is with the violence and material here and even though he isn’t as subtle or surprising with it as the Coens, he still has something to show and provides us with plenty of violence to cure any crime-movie lover’s needs. Still, it’s a movie about a samurai who lives in the current-world, so why the hell didn’t Ghost Dog at least draw the sword every once and awhile on some unlucky piece of Italiano shit? Seriously, I mean we see him practicing with it and laying by it, but it’s barely ever used.

Oh well, the guy could definitely kill me in a heartbeat so I won’t go on any longer.

Even though this isn’t as weird and quirky as most Jarmusch films are, you still can’t help but feel like this guy really carries the film back. For instance, all of the samurai babble that would literally come in every six minutes was okay for the first two or three times it was done, because it made sense to the story and to our main character. But after awhile, when they dived themselves into about 15 sayings that nobody cared about, then I got annoyed. And it wasn’t even that I didn’t try to care about them and pay attention, because trust me, I did but after awhile, I just started to realize that they had nothing to do with the story and was just one way of Jarmusch trying to get us inside of the head of this character that I feel like we connected with already. There’s a whole bunch of other liberties that Jarmusch takes with this movie and even though they didn’t all piss me off, they still made me feel like it was just another case of Jarmusch trying too hard.

Also, I get that everybody loves this soundtrack because it featured all of RZA’s work before he went-off and did the score for Kill Bill, but it is literally the same noise over-and-over again. Every time there’s a sequence of Ghost Dog walking down the street, driving down the street, or just looking plain and simply cool, the film starts to play this over-bearing track of RZA rapping over a bunch of bells and weird drum-beats. Just like the “samurai babble” I alluded to earlier, once or twice is good but after it gets into the double-digits, then I have a bit of a problem. Mixing mobster and samurai movies, to the beat of rap music is a pretty nifty-idea, I just wish there was more rap involved to where I felt like it really made a difference to the story and not just used as a gimmick to show how whack those old, Italian mobsters are because they can’t connect with the modern-world.

From one true samurai, to another.

From one true samurai, to another.

Despite all this, the highlight of this movie for me was probably watching Forest Whitaker (and his lazy eye) just kick total-ass as Ghost Dog. Whitaker is the type of actor that’s all about presence and having a look to him that can scare the hell out of you. That’s what he does here as Ghost Dog, but the guy isn’t one, big walking cliche of the silent stranger who does his dirty work and gets on with his life like a bit of a scarred-weirdo; he’s actually pretty down-to-earth and you like him for that. Yeah, he’s a bit weird because he talks to pigeons half of the movie, but then again, you would too if all you did was kill people, send people messages by birds, and never want anybody to know who you are.

Actually, I think I’d just get a dog instead, but that’s just me.

Anyway, Whitaker is awesome as Ghost Dog and makes you feel like you can stand fully-behind this guy to do the right thing and hopefully, just hopefully, just come out on-top at the end. Watching him kill all of these old, out-of-date mobsters was hilarious because they just fumbled around like a bunch of worthless goons and watching them get taken down by a dude who seemed to be in a whole, different time-zone than they were, really made this a bit more enjoying to watch. Sounds quite morbid, I know, but it’s the simple pleasures like that, which make movies like this a lot better in my mind.

I’m a sicko, I know. It’s what I live with on a day-to-day basis.

Consensus: There’s a couple of instances in which Jim Jarmusch allow his goofiness to get too in the way of Ghost Dog‘s story, but nonetheless, it’s still a neat mixture of everything that mobster movies do so well, along what samurai movies as well.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Beautiful New York: Where African-American samurais run free on roof-tops.

Beautiful New Jersey: Where African-American samurais run free on roof-tops.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Dead Man (1995)

Less dames, more drugs. The way Westerns should be.

William Blake (Johnny Depp) is a small-time accountant who was promised a job in the town of Machine, so he decided to leave his simple life in Cleveland to go out and get it. Problem is, when he arrives, it’s too late, so he decides to spend the rest of his night with drinking, some sex and murder. Wait, what?!? Yes, believe it or not, this little, scared man William Blake actually shoots another man (Gabriel Byrne), who also happens to be the son of a very wealthy business-owner (Robert Mitchum), who then, as a result hires three hitman to find Blake and kill him. Though William Blake has no idea where he is going while on the run, he receives assistance from a local Native American by the name of Nobody (Gary Farmer), who keeps on confusing him with the poet William Blake and doesn’t ever seem to want to stop speaking in metaphors or what have you. It’s never made clear exactly where Nobody is taking William Blake, but along the way, they meet a whole bunch of crazy characters. Some are good, and some are just downright bad. So bad that William Blake may have to break-out of his shell and start shooting people up once again, like he’s being advertised as often doing.

Jim Jarmusch is clearly a guy whose style is for his certain type of audience. Doesn’t mean it can’t necessarily work for those who are considered to be “outsiders”, but that does mean it may be a bit harder for those people to actually understand his movies for what they are, be able to discuss them at hip wine-tasting parties, and, believe it or not, actually “like” them.

If anybody has ever taken public transportation anywhere, they'll know that times truly have not changed a single bit.

If anybody has ever taken public transportation anywhere in the 21st Century, they’ll know that times truly have not changed a single bit.

Yes, believe it or not, such a thing does exist where you watch a movie and come to like it, even if it some of those out there don’t necessarily feel your same feelings. Which, as much as I hate to say it, is exactly what happened with me and this movie; I know that plenty of people love, adore and hold it as a “classic”, but for me, I just couldn’t hop aboard that train. Though I admire Jarmusch for having a vision that doesn’t glamorize the western like so many movies we see do, I’m still confused to hell as to just exactly what this movie means, or even if everything I saw happen, did in fact happen.

And while that feeling usually sits well with me while watching certain movies, I felt like this one sort of skates by on that idea, rather than developing beyond it. Sure, you can throw me all sorts of narrative-curveballs to confuse the heck out of me just for the sake of doing so, but once it seems like a person is just doing so in order to jazz the whole piece up a bit more, then it doesn’t wholly work for me like it should. That’s just me though, and when it comes to the disagreement between me and this movie, I can’t help but hold a grudge against it.

But where Jarmusch’s vision does work is in, like I said before, the way he paints a pretty strange and bizarre portrait of the old-school West. Sure, there’s what we usually see in any Western – hookers, gun-slingers, booze, saloons, Native Americans, cowboys and beans, but they’re all shown in a way that’s a lot more muggy than what we usually see. That mostly has to do with the black-and-white font Jarmusch uses, but most of it also has to do with the fact that this movie dives into some pretty strange places that may definitely surprise someone seeing this for the first time.

Certain characters will be killed-off in such a care-free, nonchalant way, that it almost seems like Jarmusch is just making it up as he goes along; which is a bit jarring at first, but still totally works for the movie. It’s almost like watching a real life Western play-out in front of your own two very eyes, where people get shot, people die and they’re forgotten about just like that. Maybe it’s too realistic? I wouldn’t say that, but it’s definitely a change-of-pace for someone who was brought-up on all the great Spaghetti Westerns of the world.

Represent, yo.

But then again, like I said before, for every neat, relatively normal sequence Jarmusch introduces, there’s a strange, off-kilter one that follows it and it doesn’t always work. Instead, it feels like he got a bit bored and decided to throw some neat, little style-points in there for good measure. But rather than enhancing the story, it only makes it seem like he was high while filming.

Once again, maybe that’s just whatever my weird mind-frame makes up as it goes along, but it’s my thoughts nonetheless.

At the center of all this craziness (believe it or not), is Johnny Depp as William Blake, in what is a pretty low-key, surprisingly normal performance from a guy whose made a whole career out of doing the exact opposite. Maybe moreso now, than before, but still, watching Johnny Depp play a normal, human being is a bit refreshing, because it makes it still seem like he hasn’t totally lost his mind and is always waiting to make us see him in a new, refreshing light. That is, whenever he stays the hell away from Tim Burton.

That actress laying next to Johnny is Mili Avital; she is nine years younger than he is. As we all know, he's way past that age-difference.

That actress laying next to Johnny is Mili Avital; she is nine years younger than he is. As we all know, he’s way past that age-difference now.

Anyway, what’s so cool about the character of William Blake is that he starts-off so dorky and simple, that when he starts to turn the other cheek and take matters into his own hands, it’s pretty believable because he doesn’t do it in a jarring way. He sort of just changes one subtlety about him, and that’s about it. He just continues on being William Blake; except instead of being a scared, little accountant from Cleveland, he’s a sly, skillful gunslinger from the town of Machine (and no, I am not making that up). I guess you’d never consider Johnny Depp to be “bad-ass”, but there’s something about his performance as William Blake that makes it seem like maybe you could.

There’s plenty more in this cast where Depp comes from, and each and every face is as lovely to see as the last. Gary Farmer steals the show as Nobody, the Native American that comes to save the day for William Blake and kind of, sort of, maybe becomes his best-friend along the way, despite not really connecting with him all that much; Michael Wincott plays a hitman who doesn’t know when to shut his trap, yet, is still entertaining to listen to; Iggy Pop, Jared Harris and Billy Bob Thornton show up as a bunch of dudes that want to bang J-Depp; and Alfred Molina gets a lovable, but small bit as a salesman that isn’t all he appears to be. The familiar faces run deeper than those that I’ve just mentioned, but don’t worry, they’re all fine. Even as weird as it may be to see Gabriel Byrne for all of five seconds.

Consensus: While it’s definitely for those who adore every single, little thing about Jim Jarmusch’s directorial-style, Dead Man still works as a different kind of a Western you don’t usually see portrayed in the movies, where everybody is still getting shot and killed for money, but it’s a lot more depressing and acid-induced.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Sad to say, this isn't the only time J-Depp tried to look like a Native American.

Sad to say, this isn’t the only time J-Depp tried to look like a Native American.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

The Hunting Party (2007)

They always say “journalism is a dying form”, so if there’s some extra-cash involved, then by all means do what you can.

During the 1990′s, big time, war-reporter Simon Hunt (Richard Gere) and cameraman Duck (Terrence Howard) went all around the world, gaining footage and covering stories in war-torn countries. They hot, big and making all of the big bucks, but after a public-meltdown on live television, the two parted ways. Duck ended-up making a name for himself moreso by becoming a producer of sorts; whereas Hunt practically vanished into thin air, barely to ever be heard from again. One day, however, while Duck and a new assistant of his (Jesse Eisenberg) are out in Bosnia covering the war, Hunt suddenly shows up, telling them that he has a plan to kidnap the infamous war criminal known as “the Fox”. The reason being? Well, one reason is to get a big story and put Hunt’s name back in the mainstream-line of news-reporting; but another reason is also to get a lot of money from those who want “the Fox”. And honestly, they’re task wouldn’t seem so hard in the first place if this was a man who was as easy to find as a cow in a grass-field, but nope. He’s protected by hundreds and hundreds of his own cronies, who are just waiting for some dudes to come snooping around in business that clearly isn’t theirs.

At the end of the Hunting Party, there’s a credits-sequence in which director Richard Shepard makes it totally clear exactly what it is that he’s trying to say with this story. He makes a mention of how the U.S. government is, “apparently still looking for Bin Laden”. He puts an extra-emphasis on the word “apparently”, giving us the impression that the CIA really isn’t paying attention to a matter such as this, and instead, wasting their good old time on cases like who stole cousin Mikey’s five dollar-bill or something of that nature. But whatever it is that the CIA is actually looking at, doesn’t matter; what does matter is that they aren’t totally searching for Bin Laden, and more or less just sitting on their asses, telling everyone else it’s their “main priority”.

Ah, the 80's. I think.

Ah, the 80′s. I think.

Well, the movie’s a bit dated in that regard. Which, I can’t really hold against the film to begin with, but this way of ending the whole show gave me a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Which, yes, is strange, because if anybody out there knows me, they’ll know I’m nowhere near being the biggest advocate for the well-being of the U.S. government and everything it is that they tell me as a member of society. However, the fact still remains that we caught Bin Laden, therefore, making whatever snobby statement Shepard is trying to make at the end of this movie, practically null and void.

But by this happening, it makes me feel like the past 100-minutes I had just spent with this movie, this story and these characters, almost useless, considering it was actually about something else entirely. See, I don’t want to give too much away about the end to this movie and how everything turns out, but much rather than being a thriller, with some dark comedy placed in throughout, it ends up being one, near-two-hour preach from the creators about how the U.S. government isn’t really doing their jobs and we should all pay attention to what’s really going on behind the scenes and everything else that we’re told.

Sure, it’s nothing new we haven’t heard before, but here, it felt pretty cheap for Shepard to bring this up totally out-of-the-blue by the end. Not because it didn’t fit right with the story he was actually telling, but because the story itself was actually an intriguing one to begin with, and to just stop us, open up our eyes and tell us that it’s all about something else entirely different, makes it seem like this movie doesn’t ever need to be seen in the first place, nor does this story itself even need to be told.

So, in essence, this is a movie that doesn’t need to be seen. Like, at all.

Not for the good performances from the finely-assembled cast; not for most of the humor that actually made me laugh; and not even for the sometimes, rather-tense plot.

Nope, it should all be seen for the point that Richard Shepard is trying to bring home by the tail-end.

Which is totally strange considering something like this hasn’t happened to me in awhile – where I, at first was really digging a movie, only to have that totally change because of something that happened right at the very end of the movie that rubbed me the wrong. I honestly can’t remember the last time that that happened, which probably goes to show you how truly rare it is, but such a controversy happened here, with my feelings regarding this movie and whether or not I should recommend it to those out there who give a damn about what I think is “good”, and what “isn’t so good”.

Now bust a move!

Now bust a move!

So, with that said: Do I think this movie is worth seeing? I want to say yes; I really do. But, at the same time, I want to say no. The reason I want to say “yes”, is because there actually is a very interesting story at the center of all this, especially if you’re a journalist, or at least aspiring to be one. It’s cool to see a movie that actually somewhat glamorizes the life of a journalist; the money, the hotel rooms, the women, the booze, the money, the breaking-stories, the feeling of doing something right for the world you live in. But also, by the same token, it still goes to show you the type of lengths journalists will go to in order to ensure themselves that they have a story in the first place, even if getting the certain bits and pieces of information for that said story, may result in some very serious, very drastic consequences that could put one’s life at risk. That’s something you don’t too often see a movie show about the lives and careers of journalists, and I’m glad that this movie decided to show that side. Maybe that’s just my personal feelings, but that’s just what I like to see.

But, the reason why I say “no”, mostly has to do with everything I stated up-top: There’s really no point to this story other than to make a point. A point which, mind you, isn’t wholly based on fact. Sure, the U.S. government took quite some time in finding Bin Laden, but the fact remains: We found him, where he was living, he’s dead. End of story. Is there some stuff out there we’re not being told about this case on purpose? Of course there is! How could there not be? However, the fact remains is that we found him, he is gone from our planet and there shouldn’t be any more grumbles about that. I swear to you, I’m not one for standing straight-up for the U.S. government, but in these cases, I feel like I may need to get on my soapbox a bit as well.

So suck on that, Richard Shepard!

Consensus: Taken into context with what we know now, the Hunting Party doesn’t wholly stand in total and absolute truth, which ruins the rest of what this movie has to offer in terms of story, performances and overall entertainment-value.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Must be a local KFC around here somewhere."

“Must be a local KFC around here somewhere.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Enemy (2014)

So does that mean Maggie has a look-alike?

Anthony St. Claire (Jake Gyllenhaal) lives a simple, quiet life in Canada. He teaches history at the local college; has a girlfriend (Melanie Laurent) that he drinks with and bangs just about every night; and he doesn’t really seem to have much problems in his life, except for the fact that he’s sort of just moping around and not caring about much of anything at all. One day, however, a colleague of his recommends a movie to him in which, all of a sudden, he notices somebody in the movie who looks exactly like him. Automatically, this drives Anthony to figure out just who the hell this person is, and why it is that they look so similar to begin with. Anthony soon discovers that this man is in fact Adam Bell, a two-bit, actor with a pregnant wife (Sarah Gadon) who doesn’t like it when Anthony starts calling the house and wanting to arrange a meet between the two. Eventually though, Adam realizes that he can possibly use Anthony’s resemblance, as an advantage of sorts, in which the two could pass as one another, without anybody noticing a single difference, except for the fact that one’s a bit of a loser, and the other is an ambitious, lively-fella. Or, so we think.

There’s clearly a lot more to this story than what’s just presented up-top. For instance, you’d think that this is just a simple tale of a man who realizes he has a doppelganger, that he decides to scope-out and try to build a relationship of sorts with, that suddenly goes out-of-whack. But nope. That’s how it seems to play-out, at first, but eventually, things get to be a little haywire.

How haywire may you ask?

Leather jacket = cool.

Leather jacket = cool.

Well, Isabella Rossellini, one of film’s most recognizable faces working today, shows up for no less than three minutes on screen and just leaves, never to be seen from again.

However, that’s just the beginning of the strangeness within this movie, because once you realize that there’s more clues than you can shake a stick at here, it’s going to get very complicated to digest. Which is why, despite my enjoyment of it, I can’t say that it’s for everybody. Heck, I can’t even say fully, or wholeheartedly, that it’s for me either. What I can say is that if you like a nice mystery that doesn’t always clue you in on everything it’s trying to do or reveal, then go for this one.

But, if you’re like some ladies and gents out there that I know of, then don’t even bother with it. Not only will it make your mind hurt, and twist, and pull, and do all sorts of terrible, unhealthy things that you won’t like, it will make you want to re-watch it again, and again, and again, and again, only until you finally feel justified in saying you know exactly what happens, for what reasons, to whom, and exactly why. And even then, I can’t assure you that you’ll fully understand it.

So yeah, I may be setting this one up in a pretty big way, but I think it deserves to be. Going into this, I sort of expected a natural-thriller that would give me itty, bitty clues along the way as to what I’m supposed to think and why, but this isn’t that type of movie. You can tell that director Denis Villeneuve is clearly trying to set-up a story in which everything and everybody you see, may not be what it is you’re seeing. Is it all taking place inside of this one guy’s mind? Or, is this all actually happening the way it is presented to us, which could only mean that there are two Donnie Darko’s now gracing this fine world?

The answers never come in a clean way, and I’m not even sure if they come at all, but the movie kept me guessing and trying to connect the dots as much as I possibly could, which is you need with a good thriller. Doesn’t matter if the thriller has barely any shoot-outs or chases through dark and narrow streets; what does matter is that it at least keeps me wondering, waiting and intrigued in the characters, as well as the mysteries surrounding them. And that’s a thriller needs to do – not just for me, but for anyone who wants a little suspense and confusion thrown their way.

The only aspect of this film that I will talk-out against is that I couldn’t help but think that by the end, I didn’t get to know a single person at all. Granted, that may have been what Villeneuve set-out to do all of this time, in a way to only confuse me further, but I did wish that there was somebody I could really get behind or even feel the slightest amount of sorrow or pity for, seeing as how this world they’re in doesn’t always treat them with the best intentions. Sarah Gadon’s character comes sort of close to that kind of sympathetic-figure a movie like this needs, but even when I got to thinking about her character more and more, I felt like the only reason why I did even care for her was because she was pregnant and her husband was a bit of a dick towards her. That’s pretty much it. It didn’t seem to matter if the story on a good note, or bad one, because either way, the gal would have continued to live her life and be fine. Except now, she’d probably have the baby or something. Hell, I don’t even know if she was actually pregnant!

Damn this movie!

No leather jacket = not cool.

No leather jacket = not cool.

Anyway, besides Gadon, Jake Gyllenhaal’s one character in this movie, Anthony, comes to a close second as being the only guy I could even care about, which more or less has to do with the fact that Gyllenhaal is so damn good here at playing both characters here. Granted, it’s not all that hard to play two, different versions of a character in one movie, because when you think about it, all you really have to do is play both sides with totally opposite personalities, or rely on the make-up team to help out in making sure the audience know which character is which. Here, however, Gyllenhaal has a harder-task on his plate where he has to seemingly play two characters who are, essentially, relatively similar. Not just in the way they look like fraternal twins, but by how one character is only a tad more high-strung than the other, but not by all that much.

At first, it seemed like a really hard job for Gyllenhaal to pull-off, but somehow, he does so well with it, that I didn’t even get confused for a single bit as to whom it was that he was playing. And he does so in subtle ways; a twitch of his eye, a tone in his voice, the way he carries himself from one end of a room to another, it all felt so distinctive to whichever character he was supposed to be portraying. Yes, a little more depth into both of these characters would have made this performance so much better than just “Gyllenhaal pulling an Adaptation-like role”, but man, I have to say that this guy seems to keep on impressing me, more and more each time I see him.

Don’t ever give up, Jakie-poo. Keep on acting your rump off, and don’t let these nasty T-Swift rumors get you down. She’s a crazy chick anyway. Ammiright?

Consensus: Will most likely not make a lick of sense after the first couple or so viewings, but regardless, Enemy is still an interesting thriller that doesn’t always answer its questions in an easy manner, but does allow Jake Gyllenhaal to act very well in these dual roles of his.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Dude, who are you?" "I'm you!" "Who?" "YOU!!"

Not-so cool guy: “Dude, who are you?”
Cool guy: “I’m you!”
Not-so cool guy: “Who?”
Cool guy: “YOU!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

The Raid 2 (2014)

Man, I need to work-out more.

Taking place nearly right after the first one started, Rama (Iko Uwais) finds out that not only is his brother dead, but that he has no other choice but to be apart of this small, covert group of secret-agents that specialize in finding the crooked-cops and expose them for what they are. However, it all comes for a price, in which Rama has to now go undercover to work his way up-the-ladder where he’ll assist a head mobster’s son while he is in jail (Arifin Putra), in hopes that it will not only get Rama’s face and name known, but also give him a closer chance at finding his brother’s killer, who may almost be connected to the guys that Rama is trying to get in with. All sorts of twists and turns occur, which leaves Rama away from his family for more than two years, beaten-up, battered, and bruised, but with a new job where he is going to be the main enforcer of this heavy-duty gang, where he’ll still be undercover, taping and reporting everything that happens. Although, it does get hard for Rama to be able to differentiate how he feels, from what is the tru…aw, who am I kidding! They fight! A LOT. End. Of. Story.

The first Raid had a lot going for itself in the way that it was sort of this little movie that came completely out of nowhere and stunned just about every person who had seen it. there. It also helped too, that those said people who did see it and were blown away, couldn’t stop telling everyone around them about it; therefore, making the movie more and more famous by the whisper in hip, happenin’ coffee shops and dinner-parties. And while it took me quite some time to actually get a chance to see it, I had nothing else to do or say, except to just agree with everybody. I’m usually not one for conformity, but when it came to my feelings for that movie, I couldn’t help but join the crowd and move along.

"Hadouken!"

“Hadouken!”

Now, the problem here is this: Now that the cat is out of the bag with this movie, how will the sequels fair-off? Will they continue to keep to the same pattern in which there is barely any story at all, but plenty of kicking, punching, ripping and all sorts of fun, bloody violence like in the first movie? Or, will it go the familiar-route of most sequels and just be bigger, longer, wider, more bloated and just too much havoc and chaos going on to really give a crap about whatsoever?

Well, here’s the good thing about the Raid 2 – while it may follow the later-route in which it is bigger, longer, and more bloated, the action is never, ever too much for one person to handle. Actually, that’s a lie; it totally is. However, I mean that in a good sense because it’s exactly what you could expect from the creators behind this having more money to toy around with, but with so much more creativity and excitement thrown into the mix. Because even with the running-time being every bit of the two-and-a-half-hours that it is, for more than an hour of that, people get ripped-up, broken-down, destroyed, injured, killed, decapitated, and all sorts of messed-up, but it’s never, ever boring to watch.

In fact, that’s the key to making this movie work – always surprising the hell out of its audience. Hell, you’d think that by the year 2014, us moviegoers had seen it all with the Michael Bay’s and the Tarantino’s of the world, but once a gal walks through a subway car with two claw-hammers in her hands, then you know you haven’t. The first one had a bit of a problem with that, in the way most of the action-sequences did seem to repeat themselves just a tad bit, but here, there’s no problem with that whatsoever. It keeps on, keeping on and for that, it’s a fun time that you have to be apart of. I don’t care how squeamish you may or can be when it comes to the sight of somebody’s throat getting sliced-open, because this is the action-movie you need to see.

Not any of that Need for Speed or Sabotage crap. Or even whatever the hell it is that Michael Bay does, but as we all know, I don’t have much room to stand-in when it comes to the argument of whether or not his movies are in fact “good”.

So yeah, I’ll just let that one slide.

But like I was saying about this movie, it’s pretty awesome despite it’s nearly over two-and-a-half-hour run-time, which made me wonder why it had to be as such. It’s not to say that the story is bad by anything, in fact, it’s a pretty detailed one that kept me guessing for quite some time, even while the action wasn’t around and pumping up my blood-stream. There’s plenty of back-stabs, turns, twists and people committing acts of vengeance that made it seem like an old-school, Japanese-gangster movie, in which you never have any perfect idea as to who is on whose side, and for what reasons, until they’ve just shot somebody who you thought was their most trusted-confidante, in the back of the head, in total cold blood.

Now, could the story have been cut-down to size to ensure that this film wouldn’t feel long? Aw, hell yeah! In fact, if this movie was possibly a lean and mean two-hours, I feel like this would have been even better for me as is. However, the problem is that it does drag and once that final showdown comes around, there still was a small feeling that this movie had more than over-stayed its welcome. Once again, it was still fun and exciting to watch, but after about two-hours, I did begin to feel the five-hour energy-drink run its course.

In case you couldn't tell, you don't want to mess with them.

In case you couldn’t tell, you don’t want to mess with them.

Then again though, like I’ve been mentioning many a times throughout this whole review, none of that really got in the way of my enjoyment with this movie, especially once people started fighting as if they thought every fighting-sequence from the first was for a bunch of amateurs. I can’t really emphasize that idea enough, without even getting myself into a bit of a repetitive-jumble, but it’s the whole truth and nothing but. This movie is awesome and you’ll more than likely get excited just by somebody looking at another person in a way that makes it seem like they’re about to go at it right away. And once they do, it’s a better time than what most of you will have watching an action film this whole summer.

Well, until this soon-to-be-declared-masterpiece makes its way around.

Can’t help it, people. I guess I’m just too much of a Michael Bay fanboy.

Consensus: While it may be a lot longer, wider and packed with more subplots than the first, the Raid 2 has just about everything you’d expect to see with all sorts of fun, creative and exciting action-sequences that not only keep you glued to everything that is happening, but makes you long for the days of when one actually used to feel the pain occurring in whatever scene is on the screen. Then again, maybe that’s just me.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Final round. Fight!

Final round. Fight!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Transcendence (2014)

Well of course Johnny Depp thinks he’s God!

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) and his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) both believe in technology being used as a resource to help the planet, rather than continuing to destroy it. Evelyn believes in preserving the environment; whereas Will never necessarily disagrees with her, but cares more about making technology the prime, supreme force in the world. Their other science-buddy Max (Paul Bettany) doesn’t really know what to think, but then again, he doesn’t have much time to once Will is shot with a lethal injection of radiation by a bunch of rebels looking to take him down. He has only about a month to live, and that’s all Evelyn and Max need to transport all of Will’s mind into a computer hard-drive, where they could still talk to and interact with him, as if he was really there; except for, you know, the fact that he’s inside of a computer. While Max doesn’t like what he initially sees with this new programming software Will is in, Evelyn doesn’t care too much and decides to keep Will alive and happy through this computer, where he, all of a sudden, has the world, literally at his finger-tips. This is also, incidentally, around the time when Will decides that it’s time to take the world into his own hands, where he has the ability to repair and posses anyone, giving them hope and invincibility at the same time. Sound like somebody else we all know of?

Yeah, as you can tell, the religious-tones of this movie aren’t at all subtle; then again, nothing of this movie is, or what it’s trying to say is. Throughout the whole two-hours of this movie, you can almost hear director Wally Pfister yelling at the top of his lungs, “Too much technology can ruin one’s mind!!’ It’s a point that he makes abundantly clear in the first 20 minutes, and decides, “Aww, what the heck! I’m already there, so I might as well”, and hammers this point into our heads for the next hour-and-40-minutes. In all honesty, all of this preaching and ranting wouldn’t have been so bad had the movie been able to actually keep its the audience’s pulse, as well as its own, up and moving.

"He has how many years to live? Two? That means like only three-and-a-half Pirates sequels!"

“He has how many years to live? Two? That means like only three-and-a-half Pirates sequels!”

But nope. For some odd reason, Wally Pfister (making his directorial-debut after years and years as an amazing cinematographer) thinks that it’s best to harp on these ideas he has, and totally forgets that this isn’t a college class where kids are supposed to be falling asleep in the back of the room, or inconspicuously playing Candy Crunch on their “notebooks”; this is a movie, for Christsakes! Better yet, it’s a two-hour, sci-fi thriller blockbuster, that has huge names like “Johnny Depp”, “Morgan Freeman”, and, ehrm, “Kate Mara”. She’s a big name now, right? House of Cards anybody? Oh wait! Cillian Murphy is in this and he’s a pretty big name from wherever he’s from. So that counts, right?

Anyway, you get the point! This is a big-budget, sci-fi thriller that is supposed to deal with the big questions one must have about day-to-day society, the technology that runs so rampant around in it, and whether or not we should let that said technology get the best of ourselves and make us forget exactly who it is we are, what we were put on this world to do in the first place, and why, as a species, it is that we matter. There’s no problem with dealings with those questions and trying to find the best, most suitable-answers possible, but there’s a better, more efficient-way to do so than what is presented here.

And it’s not like I’m some sort of caffeine-junkie that can’t wait two more weeks until the summer blockbusters start coming around every damn weekend and needs his action now, now, NOW; but it’s more that I just needed an extra “oomph” to the material that was presented here. That said extra “oomph”, rarely came around. Even when it did, it was near the tail-end, which was also a bit too late and only had me assume that Pfister realized he had to add some sort of action in there, so he decided to have guns shot, people murdered, cars flipped-over and streets exploding from the ground-up. Yeah, it sort of comes out of nowhere, and while it may be damn pretty to look at, it almost amounts to nothing. Just a bunch of smart people, talking about smart things, and trying to be smart, while also a bit bad-ass as well.

Note this, Hollywood: You can’t be a total smarty-pants, and also be a bad-ass as well. Sure, it works for our beloved superheroes, but they aren’t real people. They’re just a bunch of freaks. The same could be said for our modern-day, ordinary, regular-people scientists that roam the Earth, however, THEY ARE real people, which makes it all the harder to see them pistol-whip a baddie, while simultaneously be spewing out coded, scientific-numbers and such.

I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work. Not for real-life, human beings that is. They’re just too, real. Man.

Also, something else to mention about this movie isn’t the fact that this movie doesn’t make much sense, but how it never really seems to stop at a certain-point and realize that this is in fact the point they want to leave its audience with. For instance, the character of Dr. Will Caster comes off a bit like a normal, everyday science-geek. He loves technology, he loves playing around with internet-connections and he even loves playing old-school, vinyl! Yup, so you know he’s a bit of a weirdo! Anyway, with Will, who seem to starts out unlike any other character we’ve seen Johnny Depp in the past decade or so (in other words, “normal”), once he gets shot and is transported into that trusty old computer of his, things start to get a little shaky for this character, as well as this movie. Depp is fine here, but I can’t help but feel like he couldn’t show up to all of the filming for this movie, so just got on his Webcam and decided to act from there. That’s sort of what the role calls on him to do, but it feels like a waste of someone who has finally found some time in his hectic schedule of partying with Tim Burton.

Seriously, those two need to stay apart for a long, long time.

Only cool guys put their hands in their pockets when they're delivering scientific exposition.

Only cool guys put their hands in their pockets when they’re delivering scientific exposition.

Anyway, with with Will, firstly, it seems like he becomes a total, longing-for-the-almighty-power nut-job, all because he “thinks it’s the right thing to do”. Sure, I could see why somebody would want to create a God-like figure, let alone, use themselves as the subject, but after awhile, this movie makes you think at which point did anybody decide that letting Jack Sparrow-speaking Siri start healing people with infinite powers, and taking over their souls was a smart idea? Apparently half-way through, Evelyn just stops caring and is like, “Yeah, whateva. He’s my hubby and I love him for what he is. Even if he is just a computer that can’t touch, feel or bang me. Yup, that’s him alrighty.”

I know I’m making light of this, but this movie’s plot truly is careless. Not much of it makes sense, and the movie never realizes whether or not it wants to condemn technology for being, well, technology, or wish that everybody would take a chill-pill and go back to the old days of smoking on peace pipes and playing Pong for hours-on-end. The movie is somewhere caught right up in the middle, leaving not only its audience with too much info jiggling around in our minds, but never, ever too sure whether or not the movie itself ever knew what it wanted to say. Instead, we’re just left to get in our cars, go to our homes and sit in front of our lap-tops for the rest of the night.

Ah, technology. What a beautiful thing to waste. Or not waste.

Eh, whatever.

Consensus: Filled with more ideas than it can probably handle, Transcendence may get by on its ambitions, but never seems to take-off in terms of its plot, its tone, or even its feelings regarding what it is that it’s speaking out against, or for. I’m still not sure.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

What happens after too much partying with Hunter S.

What happens after too much partying with Hunter S.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Cuban Fury (2014)

Sorry, C-Tates, but the Brits may have this one.

Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) used to be a huge-lover of dancing. One in particular – salsa dancing. He and his sister (Olivia Colman) were dance partners, who were coached by a dance legend (Ian McShane), and were destined for great and wonderful things in the world of dancing. However, at around age 13, Bruce lost all interest when he was beaten-up by a bunch of bullies who consider him a bit of a “wuss” for wanting to wear tight-clothing, prissy-shoes and dance his fanny off. Right away, this took Bruce away from the idea of dancing, and more towards the idea of just being an average Joe. Fast forward many years later, and well, that’s exactly what he is – he’s single, works a dead-end, 9-to-5 job, has a co-worker he can’t stand (Chris O’Dowd), and hangs with a bunch of buddies who only talk about girls they think are hot, despite them all being married and with kids. However, one shine of light walks into his life with a new boss of his (Rashida Jones), who, believe it or not, actually has an interest in salsa dancing herself. This is when Bruce decides that it’s time to go back to his old ways and start moving and grooving his rump, all in hopes to win the girl of his dreams. The only problem is that it’s been quite awhile since he’s stepped foot on a dance-floor, which not only means he’s a bit rusty, but also out-of-shape. Way, WAY out-of-shape, to be exact.

Eyes ahead, buddy!

Eyes ahead, buddy!

We’ve all seen Nick Frost before, usually as the lovable, goofy side-kick that is there to serve the story, but isn’t necessarily the one our main focus-point is on. Which, for most people, including Frost himself, is fine. There are just some actors and actresses out there who are better served as supporting-players that are there for rare delights, rather than being the center of attention, where they are more than likely going to be spoiled after about an-hour-and-a-half of just them.

But, seeing as how Frost has been in the game for quite some time, it makes sense that now he would get the chance to be the star of his own show, and what a unique show it is to see him apart of. Never thought I’d imagine him dancing, nor did I imagine him playing the straight-man, but here he is: Not only doing a lot of salsa dancing, but barely ever cracking a joke that doesn’t fall flat on its face like it is supposed to. It’s strange to see anybody whom we often proclaim as being “the goof-ball”, not be as such, but Frost, believe it or not, does well with it.

Then again, he isn’t given too much else to do other than just be charming, while also being a normal-person, but he handles it all fine. Heck, even the dancing, which, from what I hear, is mostly him, is impressive as well. Definitely didn’t seem like an easy-feet, given the fact that he is, strictly speaking, not in the best shape for being a salsa dancing, but that clearly didn’t get in the way of being apart of this movie. He’s happy he’s starring in it and the feeling is mutual.

Overall, it’s a pretty happy movie.

That’s why it’s hard to come down on a movie like this for being so conventional and obvious. You can tell every note that’s going to hit, from a mile away and there are almost no surprises. Maybe even worse, is that it’s not really all that funny. There’s many jokes made at the fact that dancing is sort of, kind of, maybe not for straight-dudes who are in touch with their masculinity and the ladies they bring to their bed every night, and by now, they all seem a bit tired. Even the character of Bejan, an ultra-feminine fellow dancer, played charmingly by Keyvan Novak, seems like the kind of “gay best-friend”-type you’d get in a rom-com. The only difference of him being here is that he just so happens to be the gay-friend of another male, but that’s just about it. Nothing else is really be out-of-the-ordinary, or even shocking for that matter.

Popped-collar? What a dick.

Popped-collar? Total dick.

Instead, where this movie’s strong-suit really lies in, is the fact that it’s cast is having a fun time. In fact, the one I’d say whom is having the most fun out of all is Chris O’Dowd as Bruce’s co-worker who is an absolute and total dick. It’s actually the role we don’t see O’Dowd too often play, but believe it or not, he’s actually quite great in it and it’s nice to see him shake things up a bit. Maybe he’s a bit too over-the-top with the nasty and cruel things he says to a person, almost to the point of where you don’t even believe that he’s never gotten socked in the face recently by anyone, but I feel like that’s more of just how far O’Dowd may have been willing to go with his improvisations. Also, I can’t rain too much on his parade, considering that he’s the second cast-member in this movie that was actually able to draw some laughs out of me.

That other person who made me laugh a whole heck of a lot was Ian McShane, who I honestly feel like they just called-in at the last second, and he decided to show up whenever he felt like it. Whatever the reason was, it doesn’t matter, because he’s always funny and always stealing the show; just like you’d imagine every Ian McShane performance being written as.

I would hate to even forget to mention Rashida Jones’ love-interest character, or even Olivia Colman as Bruce’s likable, spirited sister, but the fact is this: They are just fine. Jones seems like she may be able to break-out of that Ann Perkins-mode she’s created for herself, but this may not be the movie to do so; and as for Colman, well, she gives some levity to a role that could have easily been written-off as “the sister of the main character who is there to shed some advice on his life, even though she may not have it all figured-out like she says” type of role. Yeah, it’s a long description, but you know what I’m talking about.

Consensus: Not as crackling with humor as much as it should be, Cuban Fury gets by on the utter-charm and likability of its cast, because everything else is pretty standard, even by comedy’s standards.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"No Simon or Edgar around, it's finally my time to shine."

“No Simon or Edgar around, it’s finally my time to shine.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Fargo (1996)

Can’t ever get enough of hearing the term, “You betcha!”

A car salesman (William H. Macy) is in a tight pinch for money and needs it as quick as humanly possible. His solution? Hire two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife for ransom, so that he can get the money from his very wealthy father-in-law and split it with the two criminals. Everything seems to be fine for the three and going according to plan, until people show up dead due to some tragic consequences. That brings pregnant police officer, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), to the scene where she ends up figuring out just what is shaking all around her sweet, little town of Fargo.

Before I go on any further and lose more and more friends, family, fans, and confidantes than I already know I will, I just want to state this right away: I liked this movie. I can’t argue against the Coens’ artistry as writers, or as directors; the film is always entertaining, no matter how many times I actually do view it (fourth or fifth by now). That being said: It is a tad overrated.

Yup, I know. Bring on the boos.

It’s okay though. It’s exactly what I expect by now, seeing as I’ve had this opinion for as long as I can remember. And it isn’t because I enjoy going against the societal-norm because it makes me look strong, hip, and cool; it’s more just that this movie has never really charmed me as much as it has done so to everyone else.

Hey woMAN, nice shot.

Hey woMAN, nice shot.

That said, there are some little pleasures to be found in this nearly hour-and-a-half movie that still surprise me to this day. First of all, it’s the relaxed-tone of this movie that really does it some justice, as the Coens seem to throw us little, itty, bitty details every once and awhile. Just by the way in which a character looks, or does, or says something, gives you the slightest hint about what we’re supposed to think about that character, and this small town of Fargo, with its sometimes quirky, residents.

In fact, this is probably where the Coens win the most brownie-points from me, as it shows that these guys clearly love these characters they’ve created, and rarely ever pass judgement on them. Sure, they’re a bit ditsy and sheltered from the rest of the world, but they’re still happy with that. It doesn’t make them bad or good people – it just makes them people, who also just so happen to live in a place that’s very far from what some consider the “idealistic landscape to live in”. However, that’s just some people and their opinions, man.

Even two despicable human beings like the characters played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare would easily be the most evil, unlikable fellows in the whole movie, and yet, there’s something about them that still keeps us away from hating them. Maybe moreso in the case of Buscemi’s character, as he seems like a guy who just gets his job done, does what he has to do, acquire his money and live a simple, carefree life like he’d done before, but even with Stormare’s character, there is still something about his quiet-demeanor that draws us to him. That’s probably what also drew the Coens to him so much in the first place, but it works more for us, as we are the ones who have to make up our own minds about these characters, and whether or not we choose to sympathize with any of them.

William H. Macy’s character is clearly the one who we find the hardest time caring for, but even his little quirks make us like him, if only for the faintest of reasons. As for Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson, well, we love her for being just about the opposite of these previously mentioned guys: She’s a simple, lovely and delightful lady that expects the best out of humanity, and only wants to bring happiness to the world. That set-in-stone idea that she has about the world around her gets tarnished a whole lot once she realizes that there’s some actual ugliness out there, and yes, it’s found its way into her own, safe little world that she’s made for herself. It’s hard not to feel sorry for her when she sees everything wrong and terrible about what this world can offer, but that’s what also makes it her so damn human in the first place, despite her small quirks here and there. It’s easy to see why McDormand won an Oscar for this role, as she steals the show just about every time, which was not an easy-feet, considering the talent she had stacked-up against her.

And of course, I could even say that the whole mystery itself still surprises me every once and awhile, all because certain plot-points make a bit more sense now, than they ever did before. That may be less of an attribute to this movie, and more to the caffeine I drank before watching this, but it’s something to still note regardless. The Coens love their characters and what makes them who they are, but they also still love themselves a little twists, a little turns, and better yet, a little bit of blood to be shed, all in the name of some cold, hard crime. These are the guys I’m comfortable with seeing make movies for the rest of my natural-born life, but more importantly, I would love to see them continue with the thriller-genre, and seeing how many times they can put their own creative-spin on it.

But now, here comes the time in my review where I lose all of your love and adoration, and get down to the simple fact, which is: Yes, I think Fargo is a bit overrated.

First and foremost, my problem with this movie isn’t that I’ve seen it so many times that I know everything that happened right from the get-go; in fact, that’s terribly false. There’s plenty of movies I’ve seen many more times than I can probably count, that still remain my “favorites”, even if I know every twist and turn that’s coming around the bend, all because I’ve seen said movie more than a couple of handful of times. But that’s not the point – the point is that with Fargo, I feel like every twist and turn is suitable into what gets a rush out of the viewer so much when watching it, and it just doesn’t hold-up on repeat-viewings, like so many movies I re-watch do.

Doesn't know if the wife he wanted kidnapped is dead or alive. Oh, the everyday  man's crisis.

Doesn’t know if the wife he wanted kidnapped is dead or alive. Oh, the everyday man’s crisis.

There’s small, little tidbits that are worth noting that made me smile because I didn’t notice them once before, but after awhile, I started to realize that there was maybe something a bit too odd when it came to the plot’s-structure. I love me some Steve Park, but his role/subplot Mike Yanagita, an old-friend of Marge’s, could have easily been written-out and the movie would have not suffered one bit. Sure, it’s another instance of the Coen’s making weird characters that they love, but it doesn’t do much for the movie except take us away from the actual crime on our hands; the same crime that Marge herself is investigating.

And I get it, I really do – the Coens like to do this sort of thing where they all sorts of different strands of plot that they are able to weave together somehow, through someway, but I just didn’t feel like it worked so well here. At the end of the day, when the people who deserved to be gone, were gone; the crime has been solved; justice has been served; and some life-lessons have been thrown around, I wondered: What was the point? Maybe this is just a personal problem I have with this movie, but once that anti-climactic ending came around, I had a hard time feeling wholly satisfied. Instead, I just ended my fourth or fifth-viewing of Fargo as I’ve done with any other viewing done before: It’s good, but that’s pretty much it.

Sorry, friends, family and whomever else may actually care. I truly am. Please take me back. Please!

 Consensus: Though the Coen’s clearly have a love for their characters, their story and all of the twists they throw into the plot, Fargo still doesn’t do much for me as a movie that has me thinking for days-on-end.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Smart idea, except for the fact that ALL OF THE SNOW LOOKS THE SAME.

Smart idea, except for the fact that ALL OF THE SNOW LOOKS THE SAME.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Joe (2014)

In need of a father-figure in your life? Look no further than this guy. But with more facial-hair.

15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan) is living a hard life in the deep and dirty South. Not only is his dad (Gary Poulter) a drunk, but he’s a mean, nasty, and cruel one, too. Any money that Gary ever makes from working his butt off, or any reward he gets whatsoever, always gets taken away from him and/or has him get roughed-up a bit as well. Joe (Nicolas Cage) realizes this and he’s about tired of seeing it. That’s when he decides to step into Gary’s life when he notices that the kid has some promise for this world and makes it his mission to make him a man of sorts. The only problem is that Joe’s troubled-past with the law, criminals, booze, hookers and smoking continue to come back and bite him in the ass. And somehow, that checkered-past of Joe’s, ends up finding its way into Gary’s life, where neither one of them know if they are going to live or die. All they do know is that they got a friendship together, and they’re going to stick together, regardless of what havoc may be coming their way.

Nic fuckin’ Cage, man. That’s all I have to say.

If none of you know this by now, then let me just regurgitate everything I’ve been saying for the past couple of years or so – I’ve never given up hope on Nic Cage. Never, ever. Yes, he makes shitty movies; yes, most of the time it seems like he’s just doing everything for the movie; and yes, he over-acts more times than he often should. But you know what? Deep down inside, underneath all of the confusing career-decisions he’s made in the, oh, I don’t know, say decade or so, I knew that he was doing it all for a reason.

Kid better hope that's not Nic's ride. Cause if so, he'd better run.

Kid better hope that’s not Nic’s ride. Cause if so, he’d better run.

Some of those decisions were probably made to get him some extra cash on the side, and as a result, therefore allowing him to do smaller, more-challenging roles that we don’t get to see him do too often. And as the titled-character Joe, we get to see everything Nic Cage that any adoring, dedicated fan would want to see: Some real, grounded acting.

See, with Nic Cage, it’s hard to figure out what kind of role you’re going to get from him – either A): you get a totally bonkers role in which he yells, screams, hoots, hollers and never dials it down under eleven the whole time, or B): you get a bit of the nuttiness, but in a more sensible, human-like way. We’ve seen more of the first part one too many times, but that latter one does show its face every once and a blue moon, and when it does, it’s a sight to see. Such is the case here with Joe; a role that Nic Cage may have not been born to play, but a role that I’m glad to see him play and pull-off so perfectly.

With the character of Joe, or at least, the way he is written, he’s made out to be the traditional, misfit father-figure a little boy from a broken-home would look up to. He may not be the most perfect human being in the history of humanity, but he at least knows what is right, what is wrong, and how he can make those lives around him a lot better. His relationship with Gary could have easily been an uncomfortable one to see play-out, but somehow, Cage plays Joe so damn well, that it always seems like Joe just wants to be Gary’s friend. Nothing more than just a simple pat on the back and a beer in his hand. So yeah, they’re unconventional buddies, but they are believable as such.

But before I go on any further and start making this a tribute of sorts to Nic Cage, I think I should throw some credit towards Tye Sheridan who, with a handful of roles in the past four years, has really shocked the hell out of me. He’s only 17-years-of-age right now, but with what I’ve seen from him so far, I see a real bright, and inspired future ahead of his. The role he has here, may not be all that different from the one he had in last year’s Mud, but the kid is so good at playing-up that “angry-youth” aspect of his characters, that it almost doesn’t. Also, whenever he’s on the same screen with the almighty Nic Cage, he never gets the show stolen from him. He handles his own quite well, much like what he did with Matthew McConaughey last year, and shows us that any and all kid actors have a lot to live up to now that he’s around.

However, he won’t be a kid for too long, which I hope only means that he’ll get better and better roles coming around his way. Or, the worse could happen and he could end-up like this guy.

Please don’t, Tye Sheridan. You have too much good going for you right now to just screw it all up.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, that’s right: Nic Cage. Like I was saying before, this is the type of role that seems tailor-made for what Cage does so well; he’s able to be a sympathetic character, that knows the difference between right and wrong, but by the same token, isn’t always thinking correctly and usually lets his anger get the best of him. With Joe, Cage gets plenty of chances to show the rage that’s practically brewing from inside of him the whole time, and it’s tense as freakin’ hell. You can tell by just looking in his eyes when he’s going to lose his cool and you automatically feel bad for whomever it is that’s about to feel his wrath, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Most of the time, they do, but there is that slight chance in which Joe is just going all nutso on someone, just because he’s been having a bad day or something.

But, like I’ve been alluding to this whole time, there’s a deep, understanding human-conscience to this guy, and you see that play-out many times during his few scenes with Gary. In fact, one of the problems I had with this movie was that a lot of it seemed to get so far away from Joe and Gary’s friendship, that I sort of wanted them to go back more times than they actually did. Not just because I wanted to see more of Nic Cage acting his ass-off (deep down, I really did), but because that’s the heart of this movie that kept it going, even when everything was as black as the coffee I had this morning.

Probably just got done eating a rabid wolverine or something.

Probably just got done eating a rabid wolverine or human. Who knows. He’s Nic Cage.

However, that’s neither here, nor there; what matters is what fuels this movie, and that’s the fact that David Gordon Green never really allows for it to get to dark to where it’s off-putting. It’s never really pleasant either (with the exception of a few scenes, which, oddly enough, are between Gary and Joe), but I wasn’t really expecting much else from this movie. Green is sort of now back in good-graces with the movie world as it seems to be that he is, once again, doing more smaller-scale, lower-budget indie-flicks, and it’s exciting to see. More important is that while he does have that visual-style that was so prevalent in his earlier-flicks, he doesn’t allow for that to take over his movie; there is still a story here, and it rarely ever seemed to lose my interest.

And I have to say, it’s pretty interesting to see such wild cards like Nic Cage and David Gordon Green getting together and making a movie. It totally worked to their advantage, clearly, but it’s just interesting to see what happens when two talented people are able to come together on something, understand one another, and work their rumps off. Obviously, for me, this is Green’s best flick since, say, I don’t know, All the Real Girls; but as for Mr. Cage, hmm, well, I’d have to say, it’s probably his best “real” performance since Adaptation. Which, incidentally was a little over a decade ago. Not saying that there hasn’t been some fine pleasures in between (surely this moment in his career will never leave my memory-banks), but it hasn’t been too pretty either. Here’s to hoping that Nic’s got some more promising-material coming up the pipeline.

However, by the looks of things, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Shit.

Consensus: Surely not the sort of pick-me-up if you’re a fan of some of Nic Cage’s, or David Gordon Green’s more mainstream flicks, but if you’re willing to let it take its toll on you, you’ll find Joe to be an emotional, gripping drama that you want to see all talents involved do more of.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

In most circumstances, I'd be scared of the kid with the gun, but under this circumstance, it's the guy without the gun.

In most circumstances, I’d be scared of the kid with the gun, but under this circumstance, it’s the guy without it that I’m scared of.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Rio 2 (2014)

You’re the last of your species! Now, stay indoors and shut up!

Now that both Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) have fallen-in love and even started their own family, it’s about time the cracks within the relationship show. Jewel is still that fun, adventurous-type, like she believes every blue macaw bird should; whereas Blu is still sort of like a human, equipped with making pancakes, using a GPS to navigate from place-to-place and even allowing his kids to use technology. Adding more tension is when they both find out about another breed of blue macaw’s that are apparently somewhere out there in the middle of the Amazon. Seeing as this may be their time to find others just like them and hopefully get some excitement in their lives, Blu and Jewel, along with their three children, decide to take a trip out to there, where they stumble upon all sorts of birds that are just like them. Heck, one of them even just so happens to be Jewel’s father (Andy Garcia), whom she thought was long gone by now. So yeah, it’s a nice place where all blue macaws live in perfect harmony with one another, except for when a certain entrepreneur decides that it’s time to start making more paper, and cutting down all of the trees in the Amazon, threatening everything that these birds have made their sanctuary.

As most of you may, or may not have seen, I was actually very surprised by the original Rio. Not only was it a fun movie that made me sort of feel like a kid again, but it didn’t really need to do much to surprise or even shock me. It was just exactly what it was – an animated movie made for the whole family. Sometimes, those types of movies can be utterly cheesy and only work for those little ones who don’t know any better, but other times, they can actually work for everyone who decides to take some time out of their day and give it a try. That’s what the first Rio was. Its sequel though?

He reads and performs Shakespeare. So no, honey, he doesn't want you.

He reads and performs Shakespeare. So no, honey, he doesn’t want you.

Meh. Not so much.

Actually, not at all.

See, with the case of Rio 2, as is the case with any major-motion sequel, everything that worked so well in the first movie, is now re-amped with more of everything. Here, we get more vibrant colors popping out at us; more subplots that don’t need to inserted into here at all; more characters added in; and just more, more, more! And usually this is done to really keep us interested in what is going, while to simultaneously keep track of which characters, are doing what things, for what reasons, but here, you almost never get the sense that anything is happening.

While I may have written the plot-synopsis up top as being a simple story of Blu and Jewel going on an adventure to the inner-levels of the Amazon for a happenin’, joyous good time, there’s actually plenty, PLENTY more where that came from. Remember those birds that were voiced by will.i.am and Jamie Foxx that were always singing, being hip and saying sassy stuff? Well, yeah, they’re here again, and apparently, they’re looking for cast members for their latest production they’re going to put on for Carnivale. That’s all fine and dandy. Not like it’s going to make, or break the movie. In fact, you need a subplot like this to bring some much-needed comedic-relief to this flick.

However, like I alluded to before, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Blu’s human-owner, voiced by Leslie Mann, is with her scientist hubby, voiced by Rodrigo Santoro, and they are running all throughout the Amazon as well; Jemaine Clement’s villainous-character is back around and looking for vengeance for what Blu did to him all those years ago, but this time, has an admirer constantly behind him; Jewel runs into an old friend of hers that may, or may not actually be interested in her; and oh yeah, before I forget to mention it, there’s also sort of a subplot about one of Blu’s daughters wanting to break out her shell and get involved with everything, without getting too involved to where it isn’t deemed “cool” anymore.

So yeah, as you can tell just by reading that, all of those subplots are a bit too much for any film, let alone a kids movie that runs about an-hour-and-a-half, give or take. It’s too much for any kid to keep track of, but better yet, it’s too much for a movie that wants to be so playful and simple. It just takes all of the fun out of what could have been something exactly like the first, except maybe a bit better. That doesn’t happen though, and while it may not all be terrible (the song-and-dance-numbers are just about the only elements working for this movie), it still made me want to watch the first one all over again, just to get the memory of this dull movie out of my mind.

"Aw hay, hay, hay!"

“Aw hay, hay, hay!”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that god-awful, but you get the point. Could have been a good, escapist time if it stuck to its cards, but it didn’t. So therefore, it was just “meh”.

Meh, meh, meh.

As for the voice-cast that’s all returning, nobody is really outstanding; then again, nobody else is really all that bad either. They are just seemingly doing what they did in the first movie, and that’s it. The only one who is still slightly amusing to listen to is Clement’s Nigel, who is still funny when he’s vindictive and angry, but also has plenty of moments where we see his character as being more than just a “villain”. It was interesting to see that happen in a movie that seemed to be so distracted by everything else going on, that they’d actually allow for some neat character-development to actually happen. See, it’s just the little things that make a movie slightly better than what they should be. If only that transitioned well into the rest of the movie, then I would probably be singing a different tune. Not that I can remember any of the songs from this movie in the first case.

Consensus: With too much going in every spectrum of it, Rio 2 ends up being a jumble of many different strands of story, yet, barely any of them ever excite or intrigue one bit.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

That's what true love looks like. Minus all of the disdain and hatred that they hold for one another brewing beneath.

That’s what true love looks like. Minus all of the disdain and hatred that they hold for one another brewing beneath.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Oculus (2014)

Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Tell me, do these jeans make my butt look big?

When Kaylie and Tim Russell (Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites) were both very young, they saw their father (Rory Cochrane) shoot their mother (Katee Sackhoff) in cold blood. The case gets thrown out as a standard case of murder in the first-degree, however, the kids think differently. See, they think it’s all because of some strange, ancient mirror they had ever since they moved on, which ironically enough is exactly once all of the weird, creepy stuff started to happen to this family in the first place. Nobody believes these two, seemingly crazed-kids, so the government sends Kaylie away to an orphanage, where she’ll most likely be made fun-of her life and taught to be independent; whereas Tim becomes a bit of a nut-case, and is sent to a mental-institution, where he is studied and tested, while he’s also trying to come to grips with what it is that he really saw: Was it a dream-like sequence to get their minds away from the grim reality of this grisly murder, or is this mirror actually possessed by some sort of demon. Neither of the two really know for sure, which is why, 10-12 years later, the two reunite at their childhood home where the murder occurred and play their own little game of Ghost Hunters. Except, it’s just them, and the mirror that’s been haunting their lives for the past decade or so.

Trust me honey, there's nothing wrong reflection. Nothing. At. All.

Trust me honey, there’s nothing wrong reflection. Nothing. At. All.

While it may seem like every horror movie that comes out nowadays, may be an exact carbon-copy of the last (a statement which does hold some truth), there are those very surprising exceptions that take the horror-genre, and sort of spin it on its ears. These types of movies don’t really commit such an act by coming up with a new, inventive way to tell their story, but instead, realize that what makes and breaks horror movies nowadays, is whether or not they can be entertaining. Sure, everybody can be pissing their pants by showing them every jump-scare in the book, but is that really fun to watch? Expecting a scare to happen, so that when it does happen, you jump a little bit less than you would have, had you not known anything about any horror movie, ever made?

Personally, I think where most horror movies really make their gravy is in just how much fun they can have with toying and teasing with the audience’s expectations; and in Oculus, there’s plenty of that. However, it’s not the type of toying and teasing you’d expect from a movie like the Cabin in the Woods, where it’s clearly obvious that the creators behind it think that are a lot smarter than average the movie-goer. It’s more like the kind of toying and teasing you do with a dog when you’re playing fetch with it – you take it this way, that way, and all of a sudden, you surprise them and have them absolutely excited.

Bad analogy, I know, but it’s all I got in the tank right now.

Though this is his first-outing behind the camera in a big-screen feature, Mike Flanagan shows that he has the chops to do a bit more new, and exciting things with the horror-genre. Not only does he bring us into his story with interesting, somewhat sympathetic characters, but he never allows for this story to get too over-blown or insane. Actually, that’s a lie. He totally does. In fact, that’s probably my biggest problem with this movie is that when all is said and done, and that abrupt-as-hell ending hits you, it comes too quick. But even worse, it doesn’t exactly make much sense.

But see, this is where I start to get a bit jumbled-up in my own words now. Because the aspect where this movie really works, is in the way it is able to just keep on messing with us, having us look at one thing, while surprising us with a completely other, different thing. Which, yes, is fine and all, but after awhile, some of it does start to make you scratch your head and wonder just what the hell is going, or how did that happen. Not going to give too much away, but I’ll put it like this, that mirror likes to do a lot of tricking, without ever treating, so be ready for that.

However though, like I said before, that whole aspect of not knowing what’s going on, is sort of what works so well for it in the end. This is a horror film in the sense that we get scares, ghosts, blood, teeth pulled-out, murder, screaming, people with freaky, glowish-eyes, and all that other jazz, but it’s also a lot more like a thriller as well. Mainly because instead of making this an all-out gore-fest where people in the crowd go “yuck!” and “ew!”, while covering their eyes and simultaneously throwing up their dinner, Flanagan keeps his sights on building up suspense to where you feel like anything could happen with this story, at just about any second. And I don’t mean that because it’s a fun movie, I mean that literally, because it gets confusing-as-hell.

Horror convention #208

Horror convention #208

But I don’t want to harp on that too much, because the fact of the matter is this: It’s a fun horror movie. That’s all you really need. Sure, the performances from the cast are good; Karen Gillan in particular that seems like she’s never heard of comedy a single day in her life and delivers every line in a straight-forward manner, which actually works and makes us look at her as a bit of a cook-ball, which is what this movie definitely wanted to have going for it. However though, this is less about them and more about the show. The show that keeps on going, regardless of how nonsensical it gets. Which, granted, is about ten minutes into it, but really, are horror movies really the type of movies you want to be realistic about?

Yeah, didn’t think so. Just enjoy and shut up!

Consensus: While Oculus doesn’t set out to try and re-invent the horror-wheel, it still does a fine job at building tension, characters and a twisty story to exciting proportions, even if you may not be coming out of it totally convinced you know everything that happened.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Wait? We're supposed to be playing twins?"

“Wait? We’re supposed to be playing twins?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Draft Day (2014)

You thought on-the-field was tough? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, ya pansy soccer fan!

Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) has it pretty rough for a man of his age and stature. He’s the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, a team that hasn’t been all that successful in quite some time; his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) may possibly be pregnant; and to add insult to injury, the most important day in all of sports history, next to the Super Bowl of course, is coming up: Draft day. Oh yes, the NFL draft. Where dreams are both shattered and made, sometimes, even occurring at the same time. For Sonny though, his main problem isn’t just dealing with his boss (Frank Langella), the head coach (Denis Leary), or even the main-prospect he’s looking into (Chadwick Boseman), the main problem he’s having is getting the deal he wants, while also making sure that everyone around him is happy with his dealings at the end of the day. Not just him, or his co-workers, but the franchise as a whole. Which, if you know a thing or two about any sport whatsoever, is a lot easier said, then actually done.

I’d probably say that the biggest worry somebody will have when going into this movie is whether or not they know enough about the NFL, the draft, how it all works, and why it all matters. To put it simple, it’s like this: College ball-players get a chance to be drafted onto any NFL team that is actually in the draft, which also leaves these teams’ managers, scouters, whatever, to start making all sorts of deals and promises that they can’t clearly keep. But basically, what you have is a bunch of guys who bicker at one another, doing whatever they can to make sure the team they represent gets the best player, or, even more important, the better deal.

Aww! Look at K-Cost and J-Garn just being all adorable and whatnot over there. Those names have caught-on by now, right?

Aww! Look at K-Cost and J-Garn just being all adorable and whatnot over there. Those names have caught-on by now, right?

So, if you know all of that going into the movie, you have nothing at all to worry about. All you have to do now is just sit back and watch, because for the next two-hours, you’ll be treated to a bunch of grown-ups arguing, wheeling, dealing, yelling and do whatever the hell they can to make sure that they aren’t getting screwed-over in any way. The idea for the premise to revolve around that may seem pretty boring, which is why director Ivan Reitman throws in so many different strands of plot, but somehow, it actually works.

I’m not a huge football-fanatic, but I had my time where Sunday was dedicated to sitting in front of the TV, with chips, soda and my dad by my side. And that was before you all got spoiled with your RedZone, so don’t even give me any lip! Anyway, one of the events that got me more jazzed-up than the Superbowl, was actually the NFL Draft. Reason being is that for so damn long, about a year ahead in advance, there are so many predictions about how it is all exactly going to go down, in what particular fashion, that I couldn’t help but want to just wait and see what went down, and see if all of the predictions were absolutely right, or just a bunch of sports-writers getting too wild and crazy for their pay-grade.

That same feeling I had way back when, translated into my feelings with this movie, as I really did have no clue where this story was going to go, in terms of who Sonny was going to sign, who he was going to lose, if he was going to be fired, and whether or not everybody involved with the organizations would get what it is that they initially wanted. Not only did that keep me watching and interested, but it made everything else that was happening to Sonny, easier to get past, as poorly-written as most of it was. See, this is the type of movie where having Sonny deal with the problems that usually run rampant in a manager’s head come draft-time, isn’t enough. Instead, we need to have all these sorts of different subplots where Sonny is mean to interns; may possibly be a daddy; doesn’t pay his child-support; isn’t pleasing his mommy as much as he should; and so on and so forth.

While all of that may create more stuff to be happening during this movie, barely any of it feels worth our time. More often than not, it just feels like filler for a movie that could have easily been a lean, mean, hour-and-a-half indie in the same vein as Margin Call or Glengarry Glen Ross. Actually, there are times when this movie does feel very “Mamet-y” in the way the dialogue moves most of the plot, and how so many grown-up men love just being dirty and not always being honest when in circling-around a deal. Those moments of this movie not only rang true for me, but genuinely had me entertained. Sometimes, the conversations these guys have are funny; they’re sometimes insightful; and hell, even sometimes, they’re a bit emotional. But they always add something more to this story, which is where I feel like mostly everything else here doesn’t.

I have a better time believing Skeletor as a Browns fan, than an actual guy who wants "peace".

I have a better time believing Skeletor as a Browns fan, than an actual guy who wants “peace”.

Most of what does work here can definitely be attributed to the fact that Reitman allows for these scenes of just straight-up dialogue, flow and roll as they please. However though, most of that definitely has to be attributed to the well-stacked ensemble Reitman was somehow able to assemble here, particularly Kevin Costner. I’m glad to see K-Cost back in the mainstream, however, 3 Days to Kill was not that type of movie I wanted him doing. It was fine and all (and the same could be said for him), however, that movie had more problems than it needed to have. Here though, Costner is actually given some good material worthy of his talents where he gets plenty to do. He gets a chance to be mean and a bit vindictive; funny when he’s using that comedic-timing of his that is almost nonexistent, but he somehow is always able to get by with; a bit romantic when he has some painlessly-cheesy scenes with Jennifer Garner; and even has a couple of moments as Sonny where he drops the facade of the hardcore, take-no-prisoners businessman, and just lets us see a heart and soul to this guy. The movie could have easily gone in a different direction with this character and had him come-off as flat as a football field itself (hayyoh!), but it doesn’t. It keeps its focus on him, who he is as a person, the type of person he wants to be, and how he gets by in the world.

Like I said though, K-Cost is just the beginning of the familiar-faces in this movie. There’s plenty more where he came from and they are all pretty damn fine. The previously mentioned Garner is alright as Sonny’s co-worker/lover/possible-baby-momma, who has to be a bit cute, a bit feisty, and a bit ballsy to make us believe that she could easily hang around a guy’s sport like football, all of which, Garner does a nice job with. She’s not annoying, let’s just put it that way.

Others include Denis Leary as the Cleveland Browns football coach that barely ever sees eye-to-eye with Sonny, yet, does have plenty of ground to stand on and make us see why; Ellen Burstyn is charming and lovely as Sonny’s mommy, who is clearly still grieving over the death of her husband, Sonny’s dad that he can’t seem to get out of the shadow of; Chadwick Boseman shows us why he is on the verge of near super-stardom right now with his role as a possible NFL-prospect Sonny looks into an awful lot; and Frank Langella, as you could imagine, plays the owner of the Cleveland Browns like the rich and powerful d-bag you’d expect him to play. There’s plenty more where that came from, but you may just have to wait around and see just who exactly does show their bright and smiling faces.

Consensus: May tack-on a bit more than it needs to, but when it comes to the actual process of drafting possible, football-prospects, Draft Day is entertaining, funny and heartwarming, which is thanks to both a charming script and cast, most notably Kevin Costner carrying the whole ship on his back.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Sort of like me at parties where I don't like anybody there. Actually, just parties.

Sort of like me at parties where I don’t like anybody there. Actually, just parties in general.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Sitter (2011)

I think I’d hire “skinny Jonah Hill”, over “fat Jonah Hill” as my baby-sitter. Just more trust-worthy for some reason.

Noah (Jonah Hill) is practically the last person you want watching your kids. He’s mean, rude, brass and doesn’t really care about those around him. He’s just selfish and makes everybody around him feel like crap. But this time, he may have met his match when he is called on to babysit three of his next-door neighbors for a whole bunch of money. Sounds easy and simple, right? Well, not exactly, especially not when you have a bunch of sneaky, manipulative kids such as these ones here.

I hate to ask it, but what the fuck, David Gordon Green?!?!

I mean, yeah, I know he isn’t reading this now so who the hell cares, but seriously, this is a travesty for someone to go from creating this, to then creating such an abomination as this!

Were they both done by the same person? Or, did one just put his name on one, and decide to have somebody else take over the job and use Green’s name anyway, because of some “pull” he may have with the studios? I honestly have no clue. And to be truly honest, I shouldn’t be caring as much as I do right now. It just ain’t worth it! It just ain’t!

I know my little tirade up there may make it seem like I’m in love with everything Gordon Green has ever done and even agree to the fact that he’s been touted as “the next Terence Malick,” but believe it or not, I’m actually far from being that type of person. Out of all of his flicks, I probably liked Pineapple Express the best and that’s coming from me in a sober state-of-mind as well. Everything else except for All the Real Girls, is pretty so-so for me, but all that aside, this is pretty terrible, even by his standards.

Devil in sheep's clothing.

Devil in sheep’s clothing.

Where Gordon Green misses the mark on this flick is that it just isn’t funny. Some bits and pieces here are raunchy fun, but other times, it just feels like they’re being lazy and trying too hard to shock us into thinking, “Oh dear, it has kids peeing, pooping and blowing up stuff, so it has to be shocking!” I didn’t give a shit whether kids were apart of the raunchy comedy or not, they weren’t making me laugh and the same goes for the “jokes” that Green felt the need to throw every damn time he felt bored, or whatever.

And to add on top of that crappy humor, the sympathy-route this movie takes just slows everything down and comes off as terribly shoehorned in. These kids apparently all needed their own dimensions so whenever the film starts running out of ideas, they just throw the kids in there and try and make us feel bad for them, in a way that almost comes out of nowhere. There’s no real message here, no real nothing, but instead it just feels like a lazy attempt at Green trying to make us feel something for anybody in this movie when the fact of the matter is: We just don’t.

Those poor kids.

Now, I can’t go on and on about this flick and say that I didn’t laugh here and there, because I did. It’s not a god-awful terrible movie that’s unwatchable, but it’s definitely something that never seems to get off the ground. The whole idea behind Hill taking all of these kids out one night in a haze of debauchery and craziness, sounds like it should be an absolute blast from start-to-finish, but it never really goes there. Instead, it just gives us a raunchy laugh or two, show us something going wrong, and maybe even allowing there to be time for these characters to break-down and shed some of their tears, as if that wasn’t contrived enough for them already. It continues at this pace throughout the whole movie, but it’s never fun, it’s never exciting, and it’s not extremely long. Which is weird considering that the movie itself only clocked-in at 81 minutes. However, they also happened to be the longest 81-minutes of my entire life.

Well, except for that one time where me and an ex of mine had to wait for her parents to leave the house for the night so we could do a little lovin’ upstairs, but that’s besides the point!

The only real saving grace to this whole flick has to be Jonah Hill, in one of his last, “truly-fat” roles. Hill, no matter what type of junk he’s given, always does a great job with the humor and that is no exception here. He plays that “lovable loser with a heart” act like no other and makes this film better with his dead-pan delivery. Other times, it seems like he over-does it a bit with the constant words of wisdom he tries to give to these kids, but that’s more or less the script’s fault than Hill’s really.

Still, how could you have a problem with that face. The guy's so cool and he just knows it!

Still, how could you have a problem with that face. The guy’s so cool and he just knows it!

Poor Jonah Hill. Oh well, at least he’s made up for his misfortunes since this.

Other than Jonah Hill, the other one who shows up in this flick a little too much is Sam Rockwell who really disappointed me here considering just how much I love him in, well, just about anything else he does. Rockwell plays the angry, strange drug-dealer that wants his $10,000 from Hill and practically goes all-over-the-place looking for it while trying to keep a hold on them as “best-friends”. This whole idea for Rockwell sounds rich and like a nice way for him to do some goofier-stuff that we haven’t quite seen from him as of late, but yet, that doesn’t happen. Instead, he’s just obnoxious, loud, and annoying to the point of where you don’t want to see him at all anymore. It’s a shame, too, because this guy has perfect comedic-timing and can make any line sound witty, but he just doesn’t here. I think that’s more of the fact that the script just blows and doesn’t do anything to help him, or anybody else in this flick.

Poor Sam Rockwell. Oh well, at least he’s continued to do everything he’s done since the beginning-of-time: Being the coolest mofo ever known to man!

Consensus: The only thing keeping the Sitter alive at all, is Jonah Hill, and even his character gets pretty annoying and unfunny, right from the very start. Much like the rest of the movie, really.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

R.I.P. to the sort of, kind of, maybe, good old days of looking morbidly-obese but still relying on your comedic-timing to get you by. Damn comedy!

R.I.P. to the sort of, kind of, maybe, good old days of looking morbidly-obese but still relying on your comedic-timing to get you by. Damn Hollywood and their judgmental ways!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

George Washington (2000)

Who hasn’t chopped down a cherry tree in order to prove that they couldn’t tell a lie? Wasn’t true? Oh, whatever!

A group of young kids ranging from the ages of 9 to 13, all live in a small, terribly depressed rural community in North Carolina. Most of these kids’ days are spent running around and causing all sorts of havoc in trailer-parks, garages, abandoned buildings, swimming pools, and practically anywhere else in this place that they can find and have some peace and quiet with. And for the most part, they aren’t really doing anything bad or terribly immoral; they’re just acting like kids. They hit, make fun of, and play around with one another, but mostly all of them are friends, which is why they continue to hang around each other, just about each and everyday. Then again, there’s not much else to do in this tiny-town, so they might as well, right? Well, things get shaken-up a bit for this group of kids when a tragedy accidentally happens to one of the kids, leaving most of them in shock and without even the faintest idea of what to do next. One kid in particular, George (Donald Holden), sees this as a way for him to break out of his shell and become what he’s always wanted to be: a hero. Eat your heart out, Bowie.

Before he started smoking all sorts of weed with Judd Apatow’s crew, writer/director David Gordon Green was in fact a young, small-time film maker just trying to get his name and his vision out there for the world to see. And finally, after years and years of short films in his native Texas, he got a chance to, at 25 years of age, to show everybody his debut, his vision. What’s surprising the most about this movie, and the fact I pointed out about Green being 25 around the time of this being made, is how it feels like it could have easily done by a much older, much more skilled-professional. Not just in the way the movie looks, sounds, feels, and moves, but of the themes it deals with.

Directing traffic? What a hero!

Directing traffic? What a hero!

Sure, the movie disguises itself as dealing with kids, in the same vein as something like Stand By Me, but this is very far from that type of movie. Kids do talk like kids and mess around with one another, but most of them are just trying to grow-up and grasp whatever it is that life has thrown at them. Doesn’t matter if it’s something they are imagining in their heads to block-out the harsh realities of what their lives have turned-out to be; or even if what it is that they’re imagining is real and they don’t know what to do with it. Either way, these kids are growing up in front of our faces and trying to get a firm grip on their lives from when they were just small tikes and had no idea what was up with the world, to now, where all of a sudden, everything is happening so quickly and so unexpectedly.

Watching these kids talk, goof around, run around, cause mischief, talk to girls, get upset, have all sorts of feelings, and just basically be kids, made me feel like a kid again. Which I don’t think is what Green wasn’t trying to do; it’s clear from the fore-front that he’s going for as much of a gritty, realistic display as much as he can possibly do. Most of it works, but some of it really does back-fire on him, especially in terms of how terrible some of the improvisation from these young kids can be.

And no, I am not trying to rag on these kids who were clearly inexperienced and literally working in their first, and for some, possibly last movie ever, but it’s up to Green when using these kids, to know if they can handle improv or not. The fact of the matter is simple: They can’t. Though most of these kids do try and seem real, mainly whenever they’re given free reign to go on and on about girls, sometimes they stumble and seem like they’re not really going anywhere with what they’re saying. Even worse is the fact that some of what it seems like Green has written for these kids to say and try to emote with, doesn’t make them always seem like kids. They’re basically a bunch of a 9-to-13-year-olds going through existential crisis, but not much of it rings true.

Once again, that’s not to hate on the kids in the roles, as much as it’s Green’s fault for not taking notice to this problem and coming up with a way to fix it. But, to be honest, there’s a few more problems going on here for Green than I would like to speak-out against, but hell, so be it!

The movie is downright beautiful in the way it’s camera is positioned in certain scenes, how well the narration from this 13-year-old girl is, and how the new-agey soundtrack makes me feel as if I was meditating. Together, all elements fit perfectly and made me feel like I was in a museum, gazing at all of the art-work that was on display. However, rather than having some annoying, nuisance-of-a-tour-director constantly in my ear, nagging on and on about “HOW SIGNIFICANCE THIS PAINTING IS WHEN COMPARED TO MODERN-DAY CULTURE”, I had the sound of somebody who was just speaking to us as if she just met us and we were asking her to try and tell us a story. Any story, it didn’t matter. I loved that feel with this movie, and it’s so easy to see why Green was the talk-of-the-town when he first came around, getting all sorts of Malick-comparisons and what have you.

Please don't light a match, please don't light a match...

Please don’t light a match, please don’t light a match…

But, as lovely as all of those details are when looking at this film, I couldn’t help but feel like barely any of it connected with me. With the exception of the tragedy itself (which I won’t dare to spoil), the only time I really felt like this movie’s story gripped me emotionally was whenever Paul Schneider showed his young, blissful face around. Most of that has to do with just how much I actually like Schneider as an actor, but most of it also has to do with the fact that his character is the only one who seems like she would ever pay attention to. Because, quite frankly, except for our hero-of-the-half-hour, George, Green never really focuses on anybody else; and if he does, he doesn’t do it enough to where we feel any plight for them, or the shitty situations they are sometimes thrown in to.

Honestly, I’m all fine with Green flowing by his own set-of-rules and not really bothering with much of a plot-driven narrative, but too much of this feels spontaneous; almost to the point of where it takes away from what could have been a very emotional story, with an impact left on its viewers for days. Instead, some of it just comes off like an experiment of certain moods, feelings and ideas, that never come together fully as a cohesive-structure. It’s just different strands of interesting routes, and that’s about it. Obviously Green would go on with his career to shape some of those problems out, but if I had saw this back when it first came out, I may have not been as happy, or doe-eyed as it seems like every critic on the face of the planet was. Then again though, that was the year 2000, which was also the time before David Gordon Green showed his love for a Minotaur’s Dick.

That was no typo.

Consensus: For somebody who was as young and promising as David Gordon Green was back when it was first released, George Washington works as a huge set of ideas, that work in their own, small circles, but never fully come together as well as they should to leave any sort of emotional-impact.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Frog wasn't in the budget. Green borrowed that from his buddy and has yet to give it back. Hollywood, right?

Frog wasn’t in the budget. Green borrowed that from his buddy and has yet to give it back. Hollywood, right?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Dave (1993)

Luckily Barack doesn’t have too many impersonators out there. OR SO WE KNOW OF!!!

Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) is a simple, small-town man that wears big-rimmed glasses, rides his bike to and fro work, and also run a temp service that isn’t quite as big on making a whole lot of money, as much as it is just all about getting people jobs and having them make money. Oh yeah, and he also has an uncanny resemblance to the 44th president of the United States, William Harrison Mitchell. That eventually comes to work out for him in the future when he’s called upon to be an impersonator for the President in public appearances, just to avoid any problems whatsoever. However, it just so happens that on that same night, the President happens to suffer a stroke while banging his secretary, which leaves all of his right-hand-men stumbling without any idea of what to do. Allow the country to run wild with the sudden-death of their president? And by doing so, do they leak any dirty secrets about what he did during his time as presidency, minus the whole “cheating-on-his-wife” thing? Well, the simple answer is “no”. Instead, they all decide to let Kovic take over the position as acting-President, but only until the actual President himself wakes up and is ready to get back to doing his job. But what if he doesn’t seem to wake up? Even worse, what if the President’s wife (Sigourney Weaver) finds out that this man placed in her husband’s position, actually isn’t her husband?

Yes, there’s so much drama going on here that only a politician during the 90′s would know all about. Ammiright?!?!?

Honestly, would anybody have a problem with him being President?

Honestly, would anybody have a problem with him being President?

Anyway, so yeah, this movie always gets talked-about when you discuss the subgenre of “political comedies” and it’s easy to see why. Not only is the first of its kind during the Clinton-administration, but it’s one of the very rare political-satires that doesn’t really destroy any sort of political-agenda that was being thrown around during that time. Instead, it sticks to whatever “people get jobs and we all stay happy forever and ever” idea it has about politics. Sure, the fact of the matter is that that would never, ever happen in real life, but sure, when you’re watching a movie, let alone a comedy, you don’t really need reality to come in and hit you in the face. All you need is some nice, pure escapism in the finest form and that’s exactly what Dave is, with some snappy jokes thrown in for good measure.

That’s not to say that the movie is at all “dated”, it’s just that some of the humor probably doesn’t hit me nearly as hard, or as effectively as it probably did for those back in the early-90′s. It’s not that I don’t know a thing or two about politics, it’s just that most of this film seems to be playing it so damn safe most of the time, that it’s really hard to find much of anything to really laugh at in the first place. Sure, there are plenty of quips made here that may, or may not catch you off-guard, but they are hardly surprising, nor are they really slap-happy hilarious.

However, where I think most of the film focuses its strengths on is just the overall pleasant, carefree pace that Ivan Reitman sets, which carries the movie through some very sketchy-waters. For instance, there’s the sequence in which the President and the First Lady head-off to a homeless shelter in which they just stand there, say hi to people they wouldn’t bear to be around, had their not been cameras around, and basically just muck it up for the press surrounding them with all of the cameras flashing and recording their every step. We always see this in politics, and it could have easily been seen as a snotty thing for a the President and his wife to do here, however, Reitman handles it with care and always makes it seem like this Dave guy does genuinely mean well, even if he doesn’t know a lick or two about actual politics itself. Especially not how to run a country.

I mean, sheesh! We should have all been happy with Bush Jr. just by looking at this guy! You know?

Too far? Okay, anyway, back to the movie itself.

What you could also attribute most of Dave’s charm to is the performance from the always lovable Kevin Kline, doing another one of his sweet, happy-guy acts. My only complaint about Dave, and well, practically every other character with the meager exception of one in particular, is that we never really get an impression for who these people were before this movie. Yeah, we get the idea that Dave was always a nice, peaceful soul that tried to make those around him happier in life, just by solely giving them what they want, but why is he like that? Better yet, why is it that he’s alone in his life, despite being what some clearly see as “the nicest guy on the face of the planet”. Nobody says that about him in the movie, or even to his face, but it’s pretty much implied with just how much Dave is able to make everyone around him smile, cheerful and just overall, feel better about themselves and their lives.

Or, even him?

Or, even him?

Sort of like how I was, until I started drinking. Then, it was all downhill from there.

Anyway, like I was saying about Dave, I wish I got to know more about him. I guess that was the point of not getting to know who he really is as a person, considering he has to practically impersonate another the whole movie, but just more detail would have gone a long way for him, Regardless though, Kline works well with Dave, giving us a guy we can all stand behind and love, even if he is just being the type of guy who doesn’t ask for much in the first place, and doesn’t want much in return. He’s just that type of cool guy, and that’s mostly how I’d like to imagine Kline is in real life.

Same goes for Sigourney Weaver in terms of her character, although her character doesn’t clearly go so far as “wife who hasn’t the dong in awhile”. Hey, it’s not like Weaver can’t play that role-up to perfection, but I think we’d be able to give her just a bit more to work with. If only a bit, that is. We also get treated some amusing, side roles from the likes of Kevin Dunn, Ving Rhames, Charles Grodin, Laura Linney, Ben Kingsley as that one character I said has some of his past told to us, in a way that isn’t at all manipulative, and a despicable-as-hell, but-clearly-loving-it Frank Langella as what we pretty much expect him to play, “the baddie”. Once again, you can tell that they definitely elevate the material to being a bit more than what it is, which is all we really needed in the first place.

Consensus: Though Dave doesn’t really bite with its satire as much it should, that still doesn’t take it away from being a mildly funny, tame and rather pleasant comedy that’s big on likable characters, rather than laughs. Either way, something here is bound to be liked.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Or, hell, maybe even her?!?!? Too soon? Yeah, you're right.

Or, hell, maybe even her?!?!? Too soon? Yeah, you’re right.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Rio (2011)

Sort of like City of God, but with birds.

After being found stranded on the side of the road, domesticated bird Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is taken in by a simple, closed-off-from-the-rest-of-the-world gal from Minnesota, Linda (Leslie Mann). Together, the two create a lovely bond that’s stronger than what some humans have together, which is why they are almost never apart or leave one another’s site. However, one day, that idea looks to be challenged once ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) finds Blu and tells Linda that he needs Blu to mate and continue his species on with another bird of his, due to the fact that Blu is the last of his kind alive. Though they are both hesitant, they decide it’s for the best, even if where they end-up at is very, VERY far from Minnesota – it’s Rio de Janeiro! The party never stops, there is always excitement in the air and just about anything is bound to happen. Well, except for Blu and this supposed-mate of his, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), getting together because, let’s just say that they’re a little bit of polar-opposites. Which yes, is bad, but what’s even worse is that they get kidnapped by a local animal-smuggler looking to make a quick-buck and shipping these birds off to America, where they’ll either be some fancy person’s dinner, or sent to spend the rest of their lives in either this place, or that place. So yup, Blu and Jewel must find a way to get free, which may only be able to happen with some of the native’s help.

I have no clue as to why, but for some reason, when this movie first came out around this time three years ago, I didn’t really care to see it. Wasn’t that I don’t like animated-movies and have no soul or something, it was just that it didn’t seem like the type of movie that needed to be rushed-out to in order to see, nor did I have any of my 25 kids like I do now. So in reality, what was the point? Go to an animated-movie all by your lonesome and be that creep in the corner? Hell no! Even if I do that now, three years ago was a different time, and I sure as hell was in a different place than I am in now.

Pearl and I have a way better relationship. She's my bulldog by the way.

Pearl and I have a way better relationship. She’s my bulldog by the way.

Mentally and physically.

But anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that the story seemed so conventional that I just didn’t think I needed to even bother to see it. And, to be honest, now actually having seen this movie, I can’t say my original assumptions were all that incorrect in the first place. The story started-off like I expected it to where this little bird got kidnapped and found a new home with a delightful, peaceful keeper, and then after that, practically every note that this film hit, has been hit a million, gazillion times before. Nothing really new, nothing really inventive. Just straight-laced, ordinary kiddie-fare that the parents get dragged into seeing, just so that they can feel as if they did something right for their kids, so that when they grow up, they don’t hate their guts and blame all of their problems on them.

Hate to break it to you parents, but either way, it’s going to happen! All kids hit that stage. Trust me. It’s not pretty, but it happens. So buy as many movie tickets as you want, because you’re not ever going to get off the hook! Hate to sound terrible and mean, but it’s the truth, Ruth!

Anyway, I realize that I am getting further and further away from the movie itself, but there’s sort of a reason: I’m in a good mood. No, not because I actually just gone done finishing Rio and I can finally move on with my life, but because it was such a pleasant surprise. See, even though the movie hit every single note, exactly like I expected it to, it never bored me. In fact, I’d say that it seemed to always have me smiling; whether it been so because of the vivid and bright colors on full-display, the witty, lovable personalities that this movie created for us to latch onto, or because at the center of the story, with rather adult-themes like crime, smuggling, and sex, there was a sweet message to be found that can do well for both the younglings, as well as the old-heads.

What this story is really about, even if I may be reaching a whole heck of a lot, is it’s telling us to never be afraid to get out there in our lives, do something we wouldn’t normally do and not over-think something to the point of near-insanity. Just let life take you as it goes, without trying to calculate every move it is that you make next. Sure, it’s good for a person to know the difference between what’s “right”, what’s “wrong”, and what’s “acceptable”, but it’s also good for a person to not hold themselves back because of some sort of fear they may actually have, or think that they have. This isn’t just a message that works well for kids, but one that also works well for the parents of these kids, which will hopefully have them feel a tad better about themselves and all of the decisions that they made.

Like I said, I’m stretching here, but there’s something endearing at the core of this movie and it deserves to be noted, because not too many animated-movies can pull that off, without stumbling on their own feet, or being not-so-subtle.

"Sheeeeeeit".

“Awhhhhhhh sheeeeeeit”.

As for the actual movie itself, like I alluded to before, it’s a fun time no matter who you are. Director Carlos Saldanha clearly seems to not only have an eye for imagination, but also a knack for keeping the excitement in the air up, even when you know exactly where everything’s going to end-up and how. It’s all so clear and predictable, but that doesn’t really matter when you have a setting as wild and crazy as Rio; the same type of setting that Saldanha uses to perfection. Also to be noted, there’s plenty of slap-stick humor for the kids, like when a group of birds face-off in a playful brawl against a group of monkeys, or like whenever Tracy Morgan’s bulldog character comes out to shake-up his goofy rump and drool everywhere; but there’s also plenty of witty humor that most of the adults may get. Although, if you’re cool, hip and happening parent like I would love to think I’ll be (even though I’ll probably start taking up drinking as a hobby once my newborn comes out and ruins my peaceful, calm life), you’ll laugh at just about anything and everything this movie does.

And with the voice-cast, everybody is fine as everybody seems perfectly-suited for their own respective characters, as zany and wild as some of them may be. Jesse Eisenberg is good as the dorky Blu, as you could suspect knowing that Jesse Eisenberg is playing anybody; Anne Hathaway is charming, and gives you the impression that she’s just so pleased with herself while talking into the microphone doing this; Jamie Foxx and will.I.am. play, what are essentially, the goofy, black sidekicks who come around, teach Blu how to make on the ladies, sing most of the songs and just basically crack jokes as if they were two old geezers sitting-off on the side of the road, just commenting on every person they see walk by, whether they like them or not; Jemaine Clement is great as the villain bird that’s always getting the upper-hand; and George Lopez does a great job at being both the voice-of-reason, as well as the father-figure as Toucan. Yup, everybody’s fine and adds just a little bit more spice to a movie that clearly doesn’t need much more to be satisfying.

Consensus: Can definitely be seen as predictable, but Rio can also be seen as a pleasing, fun, exciting and beautiful-looking movie that makes just about anybody who watches it, happy. Especially if they aren’t expecting much going into it, like yours truly.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Moral of the story: Don't be such a wuss, go flying!

Moral of the story: Don’t be such a wuss, go flying!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Mistaken for Strangers (2014)

Little brothers, right?

Indie rock band the National have been recording, touring and rocking the meager-sized, hidden ballrooms of the world for the past 14 or so years. Most of the cool kids who listen to them, love and adore the hell out of them, and usually credit lead-singer/song-writer Matt Berninger for making them feel that way. What’s strange though, is that while the rest of the band is made-up of two-sets of brothers, Matt is the only lone wolf of the group. However, he does have a brother; the kind of brother he’s a little hesitant to even speak about. And when you meet him, you’ll sort of see why. His name Tom – he’s over-thirty, a bit of a bum, he doesn’t really care for indie music at all, listens to heavy-metal Christmas tunes from the lead-singer of Judas Priest, paints strange-looking portraits of dismembered limbs, and occasionally, makes movies. But the problem with Tom isn’t that he isn’t a talented guy, it’s just that he is constantly living in the shadow of his much more famous, more successful, older-brother. But older bro Matt sees some potential in little bro Tom, so he decides that it would be best for him to come along for the tour that the National is embarking on, where he can highlight the band, be a roadie and not try to fuck everything up. That’s definitely easier said then done, but Tom refuses to give up on this documentary, even when it seems like all of the signs are telling him to do so.

A generally misguided preconception many make about rock-docs (or for lack of a better term, “rockumentaries”) is that in order for one to enjoy them, one must know and already be a fan of the band/artist/talentless-hack, that the documentary is in fact about. In some cases, this is true (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster), but in other cases, not really, especially when the band is about as unknown or as bizarre as the band you and your buds tried to “break big” with while practicing in your parent’s garage from 2:30-4:15, before either of them came back and found out that you were playing the devil’s music (A Band Called Death).

Resemblance? Eh, facial-hair I guess.

Resemblance? Eh, facial-hair I guess.

However, with Mistaken for Strangers, you don’t have to do either to enjoy it. Sure, it may help if you know one song by the National, or at least know that they’re part of that early-21st Century, infusion cool, indie bands from NYC that were so prevalent when everybody started turning on N’SYNC and Britney Spears. Either way, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you know how it feels to have a family member in your life that you care about, love and wish the best for. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, parrot, ancestor you feel these emotions for; all that matters is that you have these emotions for someone in your life.

If you don’t and you’re just a lonely, angry and anti-social human being who is incapable of having any feelings whatsoever, then I’m sorry, but you may not like this movie. However, if you aren’t that type of person, then you’re going to come pretty close to loving it. Kind of like I did, although, oddly enough, in an act of my inner-fan coming out, I would have liked an actual documentary on the National themselves. But hey, you can’t always get what you want, right?

By the way, that’s not a National song. That’s the Rolling Stones, for any of ya’ll that need some music-knowledge out there, yo!

Anyway, where this documentary really struck a chord with me is in how much it had me thinking about the relationship my little bro and I have, and how it sort of connected to the one of Matt and Tom Berninger’s. No, neither I, nor my brother front a popular, alt-rock-ish band, but we do have problems with living up to the expectations that our parents had made for both of us. During the early years of my life, due to my height, weight, size and affinity for eating an unhealthy amount of cheese-steaks, I was expected to be a rough, tough and masculine football player, much like my dad was. No, they didn’t expect me to become a pro and become the white version of Lawrence Taylor, coke-snorting off of hookers and all, but they wanted me to try my hardest and really work at this dream they had set-out for me, which I did my best to achieve and not let them down.

As for my little bro, they expected him to be the white version of Usain Bolt, minus the hormone-injections. When he was younger, he was fast as hell man, and he was pretty ruthless son-of-a-bitch too, that never stopped breaking his back for whatever it was that he wanted. In a way, he’s sort of still like that to this day, even if all he does is lift for hours-on-end, flexing and lip-syncing to Rick Ross simultaneously.

Anyway, where I’m trying to go with this is that, as you could expect, one of these dreams were not fully achieved. In case you need any more further clearance on who that person was, it was me. Yes, believe it or not, in my spare-time away from DTMMR, I am not sacking QB’s, intercepting passes, or partying like it’s the XFL all over again; I’m sort of the guy most of you probably perceive me as being, an entertainment-junkie that loves to write, read, listen to music, and on occasion, go outside and get a nice farmer’s tan. As for my little bro, he sort of went the same path; he stopped running, and instead, focused more on his studies, his abs-of-steel and how many creative-ways he could tell my parents to “fuck off”.

Oh, what it was once like to be young, rebellious, and full of all sorts of angst.

Though neither him nor myself really talk about it much, there is some feeling that the other sibling has a little bit more to live up to than the other. I would like to be fit as much as him, whereas he would definitely like to be a little bit more into what’s going on with the world, in terms of music, movies, celebrities, or what have you. We don’t resent each other because of that, we just know that there’s some competition and tension there. Then again, that’s just how brothers are; it’s not a bad thing, or a good thing, it’s just a thing. As plain and simple as day.

That’s why when I saw Tom and Matt’s relationship – how the older one clearly believes in the promise the younger one holds – I couldn’t help but feel some sort of connection. Not to say that I believe, one day, my little brother will become somebody who sits on his ass and reads movie news each and every day of his life, but I do believe there’s ways in which we can both help each other and live up to whatever set of ideals we have for one another. It’s a weird, and a bit hard to spell-out here, but that’s only because it’s a thing us O’Neill brothers have. Sorry if you ain’t with it.

But in the case of Tom and Matt, you can see that they both love each other. Even though Matt is definitely all cooped-up with his band, his wife, his kid and his career, he still has time to encourage Tom and doesn’t act like he isn’t even there. In fact, throughout most of the movie, we actually hear and see Matt sticking up for his little brother, even when that said little brother is in actually being a fuck-up, getting blitzed when he’s not supposed to and putting his camera in too many’s people’s faces. Hell, they even share the same hotel rooms throughout most of the duration of the tour! If that doesn’t scream “brotherly love”, I don’t know what will!

Umbrella in the middle of Prospect Park. So indie.

Umbrella in the middle of Prospect Park. So indie.

Okay, maybe the city of Philadelphia, but that’s besides the point.

Both of them, Matt and Tom, are generally likable guys. Matt is as pretentious as I expected him to be just by listening to his music, but he never comes-off like a “dick”, which I think was very important into how this documentary is viewed. And as for Tom, well, he’s a bit of a goofball. Actually, correction, he’s a total and complete goofball. However, he’s a total and complete goofball, that is endearing and the type of guy we can get behind, even when he seems to just be stupid, for no apparent reason, other than to just be stupid.

Actually, one of my main problems with this movie is that seeing as how he directed and made this movie his own-self, I can’t help but feel like he was putting a show on a bit. Not just for his brother and the rest of the band, but for the movie itself. He asks dumb questions to other members of the band, that always seem to revolve around his big brother Matt, and even when some of them do have the heart to answer the poor numskull’s questions, he cuts them-off and instead, says his peace. I felt like a bit too much of that wasn’t sincere and it was just his own way of messing around with the movie, and putting his own stamp on it. Which, yes, makes sense since this is his movie, his documentary, which also happens to be about him and his brother, but sometimes a little bit too much of it can only go on for so long.

Eventually though, Matt and Tom’s relationship comes more and more into play as we see them come together and try their hardest to connect to one another, even if they are a bit different in terms of personality and general-tastes. However, they are blood brothers. And what usually comes with blood is love, devotion, care and the idea that no matter how many times you two may fight and get disappointed with one another, you’re still family and you gots to stick together. If that doesn’t strike a chord, I don’t know what will, you lonely, angry and anti-social human being.

Consensus: Being a fan of the National as is, doesn’t affect whether or not you like Mistaken for Strangers, an effective, and relatively emotional documentary that touches on the strong bond that is between family members, particularly brothers.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

I think we can all relate to having to bail-out a family member in the middle of a swarming crowd.

I think we can all relate to having to bail-out a family member in the middle of a swarming crowd.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Nymphomaniac: Volume II (2014)

Sex isn’t the root to all evil. It just matters who you’re having it with.

When we last left-off with Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her life’s story, she was younger, happily-in-love with Jerome (Shia Labeouf), but had a problem: She couldn’t be fully sexually-satisfied. Most of that problem had to do with the fact that she was pregnant, but that’s also because she longed for something more. After all, she is a self-described Nymphomaniac, and Nymphomaniac’s need all the pleasure and sex they can get. Even if that does mean getting late-night spanks from a random stranger (Jamie Bell); going to see a sex-therapist (Katie Ashfield) to “get help”; and start working as a debt-collector for a brutal man known as L (Willem Dafoe). Eventually though, all of this screwing around, comes back to bite her in the rear-end, which also leads us to the present-day in which she is telling Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) everything that he needs to know about her. He’s still using every chance he can to bring up random facts about fishing, religion, family and art, but he may even have a little something to share with Joe as well. Maybe something that will make her seem in a different light?

Volume I of Lars von Trier’s two-parter surprised the hell out of me. Not because it wasn’t as disgusting or vile as I originally thought of it as being upon first hearing the term, “Four-hour sex-epic from the guy who made Antichrist“, but because it did a lot of stuff that we don’t see von Trier often do in his movies. For one, it was pretty funny. Many of times, I caught myself laughing at the pure-randomness of this material, like Christian Slater using a British-accent, or Joe ejaculating while watching her father lie-naked and die right in front of her eyes; however, I feel like that’s what von Trier wanted me to do. He was intentionally messing around with me, the viewer, and for that, I appreciated him, as well as the movie, a whole lot more.

Nothing like a good old Oreo sandwich.

Nothing like a good old Oreo sandwich.

Also, von Trier never seemed to be judging Joe for any of the dirty, immoral things she was doing with her body. She was having all sorts of sex with anybody she could find, yet, she was using it to her advantage. Rather than painting her as a total and complete slut, who doesn’t deserve the time of day, let alone, our warm, cozy bed, we get to see a woman, being a woman, who also happens to have plenty of needs. We never hate her, nor do we like her – we just see her for what she is. Von Trier was smart in using that method of story-telling and character-development to his advantage, which is why that first part had me expecting all sorts of greatness for this.

Sadly, no such thing happens.

The reason why I mentioned the whole hilarious, and non-judgmental-aspect of the first film, is because all of those elements that made the first one such a fine-watch, are pretty much gone here. Acts of hilarious randomness are replaced with dark, twisted confusion; whereas the idea of not judging our character, is replaced with a view on this character that is the least bit flattering. Now, of course it’s von Trier’s movie and he can wish to do whatever the hell it is he wants, with whomever he wants, but I feel like the transition from something so fun, light and exciting like the first-part, to something so dark, angry, mean and nasty like this part, would have been a lot more cohesive, had this film been shown in its original, straight, four-hour run-time. Had that been the format chosen, there wouldn’t have been such a tonal-difference between either parts, and how von Trier decides to switch gears up.

That doesn’t make this movie bad at all, it’s just disappointing is all. Where in Volume I, I thought I saw a quick, humorous-side to von Trier that I had never, ever known was there before; here, we get something that’s going back to the Lars von Trier we all know, and sometimes loathe: Evil, cruel and mean. He still pays close-attention to his characters, the situations they are thrown into, and how they react to them, but it’s not nearly as entertaining or interesting as the first movie. It just seems like von Trier ran-out of some ideas here and there, so instead of keeping with the frothy-pace of the first movie, he just decided to throw more and more crazy acts at us, in a way to both shock us and have us trying to make sense of what we’re seeing.

Problem is, that barely ever happens. It’s just Lars von Trier, being Lars von Trier. And I guess I just wanted more growth. May be a problem only I had, but it’s still a problem that continued to bug me, again and again.

"Yes, the glove DOES matter."

“Yes, the glove DOES matter.”

All that said, I can’t take away from what’s really working here, which is the ensemble von Trier packs a bit more from the first. Stacy Martin may have stolen the show in the first-installment, but this time, we finally get to see a lot more of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s portrayal of Joe, and needless to say, it’s another compelling performance from an actress that always seems to put in great work. Especially when she’s working with von Trier. Gainsbourg has a lot of crazy stuff to do here, such as getting whipped, brutally beaten, ripping her clothes off and having to kiss other woman. And while that may not sound like much of a range at all when all it is you’re doing is going through motions, Gainsbourg is still believable during every part. The only thing really holding her character back is that we begin to care less and less for her character, her journey and where it is she’s going with her life, because of the way von Trier’s light portrays here as. Shame too, because Gainsbourg is a solid actress who is clearly not afraid of stepping out of her comfort-zone; even if that does entail showing her bum.

Like Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård returns as the heartfelt, sensitive man who is always eager to see and hear where Joe’s story goes next, sometimes a little TOO eager. We get more shading to his character than ever before here, but, like with the character of Joe in this movie, von Trier’s starts to paint a portrait of this man isn’t as sympathetic as it was in the first place. That’s about as much as I’ll say about that, but it surprised me. Then, I got to thinking about it, and then it didn’t. Because, hell, this is a Lars von Trier movie, what do you expect to happen!??! Roses, happiness, peace and love to be spotted in every frame?!?!

Consensus: The drastic change in tone and character-development for Nymphomaniac: Volume II, may be surprising when compared to the first-part, however, it’s a surprise that we’ve seen von Trier use way too many times before and by now, it seems like the man may have to find new, and improved ways to tell his stories. More like Volume I was.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

To move forward in one's life, they must burn every car. I know that's not really a saying, but in this case, it can be.

To move forward in one’s life, they must burn every car. I know that’s not really a saying, but in this case, it can be.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

What’s Your Number? (2011)

Oh women and all of the sex they have! I mean honestly, who’d be keeping track after #20?

Ally (Anna Faris) is a little over-thirty and has come to that crossroads in her life: Should she start trying to get married? Well, since her little sis (Ari Graynor) is, Ally thinks it’s about time to get on top of that. The only problem is that she just broke-up from her latest boyfriend (Zachary Quinto), which leads her to her next objective: The last twenty men she’s either had a relationship with or “been with” in any sort of, kind of, maybe serious-manner whatsoever. While she’s off looking for “the one”, she’s getting help from a studly neighbor (Chris Evans) who can’t help but feel like it is his duty as a neighbor, but also as a dude to help this one, very-attractive gal, find her special someone, while he stands-off to the sides, bangs all sorts of ladies, plays guitar, takes his shirt off and tries to eat ice cream with her.

When you watch any rom-com that has ever been made, you expect to have all of the same conventions you’ve seen before. It’s sort of what you get when you approach the genre. However, it’s up to the movie itself to be able to deviate from that formula and those conventions enough times to where you don’t really care how conventional the romance at the center may be; as long as it’s believable and entertaining to watch, then who really cares about predictability, you know? Which is sort of why I didn’t expect to hate this whole thing, but man, this is every bit of conventional.

Oh, just bang already!

Oh, just bang already!

I really do mean that, too.

For example, in the first scene of this movie, Faris’ character gets up out of bed from her lover, puts her make-up on to look pretty, gobbles-up some toothpaste and gets right back in bed right before he wakes up, just so he can see her and her beautiful-self when he wakes up in the a.m. This scene would have been a pretty smart and funny one, had it not already been used in a rom-com that came out literally four months before it, in Bridesmaids! So yeah, as you can tell, this was not an easy start to a rom-com I wanted to like but I thought, “Hey, it’s just one scene. How bad could it really be?”. “Well”, I answered myself, “pretty bad, you dumb shit”.

What really flounders here is the fact that this premise is actually somewhat promising. This is a pretty neat idea of a gal going back to see what all of her ex-lovers made her out to be and how they are now. It’s almost like a female version of High Fidelity without all of the rock & roll references, or anything interesting or fun resembling that movie at all. Instead, every opportunity this film has at all to even be funny, just comes off as very annoying, predictable and downright stupid. And you can tell when this movie is trying to be “funny”, or even better, “risque”, by having a certain character like Faris’ or Blythe Danner’s say something like “shit”, or “ass”, or “fuck”, or what have you. Either way, wasn’t funny, crude, or shocking to hear at all. Just added more annoyance to me and my brain.

Another one of the main problems is that we never really give a crap about Ally Darling, or her quest to find that special-lover who can give her the ideal-life all women think they need. In all honesty, I think we should, as a society, all be way past the idea of making a woman conform to some standard set-of-rules where she has to be whisked away to a man before she’s a certain age, just so that she can have kids, start a family, give mommy and daddy those grand-kids, along with that $500,000 wedding recital, and not really worry about what happens to the marriage after all is said and done. Divorce, or stay together, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as the middle-of-the-road, career-woman gets married and has some unprotected sex to some Randy, then sure, it’s all fine.

Personally, I think this is all wrong, but it seems like time and time again, we see these kinds of movies where women are constantly getting the idea of marriage shoved down their throats. If they don’t feel like it’s the right time, then it really isn’t! Leave her be! That’s why I couldn’t help but not at all care for Ally Darling, where she went, or even who she met. However, I do realize that that may be more of a problem I have with the “message” of the material, rather than the actual character itself. But either way, it sucks all around! No way of getting around that!

The "false-hair" gag. Never gets old.

The “false-hair” gag. Never gets old.

However, if there is any saving-grace to be found at all in this piece of wreckage someone had the audacity to call a “film”, it’s both our lead-performers. Anna Faris still has that great comedic-timing that’s as every bit as wacky and zany as you would expect from her days as Cindy in the Scary Movie franchise, but it’s wasted in every single scene here. Maybe had the script been tuned up a bit more to make her character more appealing than just a sad sack of a chick that can’t get laid by someone she loves, then I wouldn’t have minded so much but she’s just annoying sometimes by how much she complains. She’s still funny at times, but all the other times, she made me want to punch her, or, for safer choices, a wall. Something needed to be punched. I know that much. Then there’s Chris Evans, who is as every bit of charming and cool as a dude would expect from him, and every bit of hot and dreamy as a girl would expect. The guy has some real charisma that still has not been used properly, outside of Steve Rodgers.

Together, these two have great chemistry and is easily the one thing holding this film together. All of the scenes they have feel natural, fun, and realistic to where it doesn’t matter if they’re doing the usual corny and predictable shit that these rom-coms stuff down our throats, they seem like they really like each other and have a great time together. It’s obvious that these two are perfect for each other, and it’s even more obvious that they should have been in a whole other film that could have really made a killing with them in the two romantic leads as a goofy couple. That would have been fun to see, but mainly because of how terrible this film is and how much money it didn’t make, I highly doubt we will ever get that now.

Great! Any sign of light at the end of the tunnel can be practically gotten rid of for the rest of eternity now!

Consensus: Faris and Evans are entertaining to watch whenever they are together, but their chemistry deserves a way, WAY better movie than whatever the hell What’s Your Number? sets out to do and actually ends-up being.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

Bet you donuts-to-dollars he's playing "Jessie's Girl" or some corny bull-squat like that. As for me, my girl better like the Clash and be pleased with it.

Bet you donuts-to-dollars he’s playing “Jessie’s Girl” or some corny bull-squat like that. As for me, my girl better like the Clash and be pleased with it.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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