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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Naomi Watts

Birdman (2014)

Val Kilmer, here’s your future, bud.

At one point in his career, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) was on top of the movie-world. Not only was he selling movie tickets out the wahzoo by playing a superhero character by the name of “Birdman”, but his popularity was at its highest-peak where it wasn’t that fans knew exactly who he was and loved him, but because he was respected amongst his peers as well. However, that role for Riggan was quite some time ago and now, in the present-day, things aren’t going so fine for poor old Riggan. For starters, he’s washed-up and senses his popularity is waning so quickly that he could be considered practically nonexistent. He plans on changing this, though, by producing, directing and even starring in a stage-adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. He’s got the cast in line and while there’s the occasional hiccup here and there, Riggan is feeling confident enough that this show will not only be a smash hit, but bring him back to the world wide hemisphere of pop-culture where everybody will know and adore him, just like they did before. Problem is, aside from the fact that the show runs into quite a few problems, is that Riggan has a voice inside of his head that not only pushes him to do certain things, but even bends the differences between fiction and reality.

Consider Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, which is its full-title), the perfect Alejandro González Iñárritu film, for people who aren’t fans of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s work. Because see, while the impression is with all of Iñárritu’s films so far is that they are dark, depressing, and downright ugly in its depiction of human being’s lives, there’s something fairly different about Birdman. I mean, yeah, sure, it’s a meta-comedy that sometimes jumps right over that hoop into satire, making it a huge leap in terms of versatility for Iñárritu, but there’s still that sad feeling we get here with our main character, and the situation he’s thrown himself into here.

However, rather than making us ache from his pain and suffering, Iñárritu focuses most of his attention on just letting the movie itself run loose, without ever trying to hit us over the head with some random melodrama; he just lets his movie glide right along, at a perfect-pace. And considering that this movie is shot in a way to make it like one, long tracking-shot (courtesy of cinematography genius Emmanuel Lubezki), it’s a wonderful combo, albeit a very surprising one.

Batman vs. the Hulk? Fuck yeah!

Batman vs. the Hulk? My money’s definitely not on the character once played by Eric Bana.

Because yes, if anybody out there has ever seen either Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful, or all of them (like yours truly), then they’ll know Iñárritu is all about showing us that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and that, well, life can pretty much suck for everybody. But though I like most of his movies, I myself am even glad to see this change-of-pace for Iñárritu; not because it shows that he can do more than just make me want to leap off of a bridge, but because the guy’s got a perfect tendency here to just let his movie go on its own tangents, seeming as if it could practically fall apart at any moment.

Which, for a movie that’s about a Broadway play being produced and the people involved with it, seems perfectly fitting. It not only puts you on-edge practically the whole time, but gets you up, moving around, and constantly paying attention to what is happening, what is being said, and what a certain character is doing, and to whom. Which, yeah, I know, sounds incredibly obvious, but there’s something fun and vibrant about this movie that just keeps you awake here, even when it seems to go off into these strange places that I don’t even know if Iñárritu himself could fully describe in perfect, full-on detail.

You sort of just have to go with it and see where it takes you – which is a perfect summation of the whole experience I had while watching Birdman.

But even while Birdman is an exciting and rather fun movie, there’s also a couple of moments splashed throughout here where the hip b-bop score is turned off, the camera settles down (although, to be fair, it is constantly moving no matter what is going on), and Iñárritu allows us to focus in on these characters, their relationships to one another, and exactly what they should mean to us. Cause, trust me, this goes a long way for a movie as brutal and as a painstakingly honest as this.

Yes, earlier I alluded to the fact that Iñárritu has made Birdman as a comedy of sorts, but sometimes, it’s so harsh and on-point about who it’s poking its finger at, it’s almost like a horror movie. Everything and everyone from the actors to directors, assistants to lawyers, Hollywood to the stage, the Baby Boomer Generation to the current Generation Y, and hell, even from the fans to the critics – no one here is safe from the sharp-edge knife that Birdman is waving around. Which is, of course, hard to stomach at times, but incredibly hilarious that it feels like maybe Iñárritu has almost too much knowledge on the subject matters at hand and really has a grind to ax. But nonetheless, it’s a constantly hilarious that has more to say then just, “Yeah, people who act are usually pretentious dicks”. Instead, it’s more like “Yeah, people who act are usually pretentious dicks, but hey, they’re people, too.”

So yeah, it’s not all that mean.

Regardless though, where Birdman the movie really excels at, like I was getting to talk about early before is whenever Iñárritu just lets his cast do the talking for him. Sure, Iñárritu employs a directorial-style that’s, literally, all-over-the-place and constantly moving, but when he settles everything down to a low-volume and allows for his story to really tell itself, then it makes the whole experience of watching this movie all the more enjoyable, if incredibly emotional as well.

But still, if you look at the cast, there’s still some hilarity to be had; most especially with the character of Riggan Thomson. The reason being is because, well, think about this: Riggan Thomson is an aging, washed-up actor who hasn’t had a role to keep him relevant since the days of him playing a superhero-ish character back in the good old days. So yeah, it would seem pretty perfect to cast somebody like Michael Keaton in the role because, well, that’s practically his story. Which is to say that, yes, this is total stunt-casting at its most painfully obvious. But it’s stunt-casting that actually works.

This is mostly due to the fact that the role of Riggan Thomson is a rich one that finds Keaton (a favorite of mine ever since the early days of my childhood), showing all of the shades in his acting-ability; the guy can be funny, mean, nice, determined, sad, and most of all, angry as hell. It’s the kind of comeback role that so many older actors wish they had come their way, which makes it all the more of a joy to see Keaton relish in it and actually make us care for this Riggan Thomson guy, even if he is sort of distasteful dick at times. Because yeah, he treats his ex-wife and daughter like shit sometimes, but at the end of the day, you feel bad for him because he’s put so much work into making this play work that you sort of want him to succeed, while also learning a major life-lesson to hopefully turn things around for himself, as well as those who actually care about him.

I sincerely do hope that Keaton gets a nomination for his work here. Not just because it will put his name back on the map like it deserves to be, but because it’s a role that literally goes in all sorts of different directions, yet, never rings a false note.

How I imagine Emma Stone greets the day every morning. Except probably with that damn Brit next to her.

How I imagine Emma Stone greets the day every morning. Except probably with that damn Brit next to her.

And trust me, this could have been a big problem for everybody in the movie, had nobody been able to adapt well to Iñárritu’s style; because it’s all filmed in one shot (or at least, edited in a way to make it appear so), the camera is constantly on them, watching their every move, whether it be a physical one or a mental one. That’s to say that everybody here feels perfect for their roles and makes it seem like they actually are having real-life conversations with one another, giving us more of the impression that we are right there with them, along for the ride that is this play being made.

Another actor who gets away with stealing this movie a bit for his bit of stunt-casting too, is Edward Norton as the pretentious, Marlon Brando-ish thespian, Mike Shiner. Anybody who has ever worked with Norton, the person, will tell you that the guy’s a handful, which is why I found it incredibly fitting that he’d play the same kind of person that’s like that both on, and off the stage. Shiner’s a smug a-hole and is definitely all about himself, which allows for Norton to really just take the piss out of his image and play all of this up. But, like with Keaton’s Riggan Thomson, whenever there’s time for us to see more in Shiner than what’s originally presented to us, the movie makes sure to do this in an understandable way, with Norton’s dramatic-abilities coming into full play.

Most of these scenes come from when he’s around Emma Stone’s character, Sam, the ex-junkie daughter of Riggan. Stone’s charming here, as usual, but she’s got more of an edge to her here that makes it seem like she’s more than just about being sassy, she’s downright pissed-off and willing to let everybody know it. This side to her is exciting and it makes me wish she’d just step away from making movies with Spidey, and testing out her obviously capable abilities as one of today’s best-working actresses. And trust me, there’s plenty more where she came from – Zach Galifianakis is hilarious as Riggan’s co-producer that’s all about making sure the show does in fact go on, while also fearing that he may be out of job if this all goes South; Naomi Watts gets a rare chance to be funny playing an actress who wants to make it big with her first appearance on Broadway; Amy Ryan has a few sweet scenes as Riggan’s ex-wife; Andrea Riseborough deliciously plays Riggan’s co-star who he may, or may not be, having a child with; and Lindsay Duncan plays the New York Times critic that Riggan despises the hell out of, yet, wants nothing more than to impress the shorts off of, if only so that she can give him a good review and not have to worry about people dismissing his play.

Don’t have to worry about that here, Riggan. You’ve got me sold, man.

Consensus: Loose, wild, perfectly-acted, and altogether, fun, Birdman is a hilarious satire that takes a bite out of everybody involved with the entertainment-business, while also not forgetting about those said people and remembering that they all have feelings, too.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Fly away, Mikey. There's a better career ahead of ya. I promise.

Fly away, Mikey. There’s a better career ahead of ya. I promise.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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St. Vincent (2014)

Are we calling Bill Murray a saint? I think so.

Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray) isn’t the type of guy you want to be around when he’s in a bad mood; or generally, any mood. He’s a hard-drinking, gambling, and womanizing scuzz-bucket that’s hardly nice to anyone he’s around and likes it that way. It keeps him further away from being annoyed by people and just makes his life a whole lot simpler. However, that all changes once a mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), move next door. Because they’re all by themselves, the mommy has to constantly work long and hard, which leaves the son alone and without anyone to watch over him. This is where Vincent gets roped into being the baby-sitter of sorts, but only because he’s getting paid $11 an hour, mind you! But even though Vincent’s crass and teaches Oliver the ways of the world that his mother wouldn’t be too happy with, Oliver still sees some goodness in Vinny and wants to keep on hanging around him, even if there seem to be problems in Vincent’s personal-life just constantly tallying-up.

By now, the legend of Bill Murray is a great one. He’s the kind of out-spoken guy in Hollywood that has a few friends, as well as many enemies, but still finds himself charming the hell out of everyone. Not to mention the fact that whenever he shows up at a random house-party, the internet practically breaks wide open, showing us just how cool and down-to-Earth somebody of Murray’s star-status actually is.

Out of the way, kid!

Out of the way, kid!

Another alleged claim that adds more appeal to Murray’s legend is the fact that he supposedly doesn’t have an agent. Meaning, if there’s anybody out there who wants to work with Murray in any way whatsoever, they have to get a hold of a special phone-number of his, where they can leave their number for him to get back to them on. Now, of course some of this may not be all true, but it sort of shows; Murray is known to be quite the selective actor and is practically the only movie star who can get away with doing whatever he wants to, with whomever he wants to. Not because he’s Bill Murray, but because the dude’s a solid worker and has shown on more than a few occasions that he’s not just hilarious, but emotionally-involving, whenever the material needs him to be so.

I say all of this, because it’s a real surprise how bad St. Vincent can sometimes be.

Sure, not all of it is bad and mostly, Murray’s not to blame for it, but here’s my question: How can somebody who is as selective and, well, usually consistent in what he chooses like Murray is, get drawn to something as conventional as this? Is it the fact that it’s a coming-of-ager that has Bill Murray being his usual dick-head-ish self one second, and then lovable the next? Or, is it simply that these are the only right offers that Bill Murray gets nowadays?

Whatever the answer may be, it doesn’t totally matter because the fact is that this movie is definitely a mess. Although, it’s not a terrible mess. Most of this is because the cast, especially Murray, seem like they’re really giving it their all here. Even if they don’t fully end up working for the film as a whole, at least they added something. Like, for instance, take Naomi Watts as the pregnant stripper/hooker Vincent constantly hangs around/bangs – the role is terribly-written, not funny, and makes Watts herself, a highly respectable actress in her own right, have to use this wretched Russian-accent that isn’t the least bit believable. However though, while it may not work, you still have to give it to Watts for trying, even if it doesn’t fully work out all that well in the end.

Which is kind of weird, considering that we have Chris O’Dowd here playing Oliver’s priest/school teacher who isn’t really hiding his Irish-accent and is, instead, sort of just rolling with it and finds a way to make us laugh and totally believe in the fact that he would be in this school, and in this story. And heck, even the same could be said about Melissa McCarthy, because while this is a role for her in a comedy, she isn’t necessarily always doing something funny. But even when she does, it doesn’t consist of her knocking things over or randomly flipping people off; she’s subtle and restrained in the way she allows for her comedy to fly and hit us, and it works. More importantly though, it shows us that Hollywood needs to get their shit together and realize that McCarthy has a real talent that isn’t just in her slap-stick, but in just finding ways to make any situation she falls into funny.

And no, I do not mean the practical “fall”, either.

But, at the end of the day, this movie is really all about Bill Murray as our title-character and what’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? Yes, Murray’s fine, funny, dead-pan, and smart, even when you least expect his character to have such features. Yet, there’s a feeling here that had this movie been better, or, had this character been written less about, that Murray would have a real winner on his hands here. Not just with the movie itself, but this character.

"Sorry, youngster. Adults at talk here discussing the possibility of a female-led Ghostbusters reboot that Hollywood may not ever produce because we can't have good things."

“Sorry, youngster. Adults at talk here discussing the possibility of a female-led Ghostbusters reboot that Hollywood may not ever produce because we can’t have good things.”

Because yes, while Vincent is Murray’s typical a-hole character that he loves to play and can practically do in his sleep, the script gets in the way too many times in trying to get us to like Vincent more. Vincent, the character, being nice to this kid was enough for me to gain my sympathy, but then they felt the need to throw in the whole angle with his wife being in a nursing-home that really just felt manipulative and way too sentimental. But then, I was proven wrong, when the story itself goes on longer than it totally needed to and continuously forces Vincent’s personal problems down our throats, especially once Terrence Howard’s bookie character shows up and makes nefarious promises.

It all gets so very conventional, corny, and overly sentimental that, by the end, I just thought to myself, “Why couldn’t they just let the story tell itself?” Better yet, why couldn’t they just shed off about an half-hour of this, let Bill Murray and all the actors do their things, tell a simple story, and leave it at that? “But it doesn’t make for an emotionally-powerful story, man”, one might say to me, or, “Dude, like it’s all dramatic and stuff, bro”, another may preach. Well, I understand that but sometimes, all a story needs to do in order to pack that wallop every writer hopes to deliver on is to just be simple and see how it impacts those watching.

That’s all this movie needed to be and do, but instead, it took away from the legend that is Bill Murray.

Damn them.

Consensus: The cast, especially Bill Murray in his full-on form as the title character, all do fine with what they’re given, but St. Vincent feels the constant need to over-complicate its story and add on more layers than it needs to, while also ending up being overly sappy and sentimental.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

It's hard to be king.

It’s hard to be king.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Grudge (2004)

Do all Japanese boys sound like cats?

An American nurse (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is living and working in Tokyo and somehow gets exposed to a mystery virus. What makes the virus so mysterious is that it’s one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim, but with a black, shadow-y figure there to see you before you die. Basically, it’s just weird.

Everybody knows the story of the Grudge by now: American girl tries to help out old lady, old lady sees something, mystical figure pops-up with a Howe-weird, cat noise, and all hell breaks loose. That’s the age old story that every teenage girl, and dude who was trying to take them out for a good scare so they could cuddle-up with them when they got frightened, saw.

But here’s the aspect of the story that they don’t know: It actually kind of sucks.

With that being said, the movie can be a tad scary, if only because of where it’s set. The fact that the creators of this remake decided to keep the story in its original native land and only change up certain aspects of the story so that they could throw in Americans people would be easier to connect with and whatnot, was actually a smart idea because it gives you an unsettling feeling. Nothing against Japan or its inhabitants, but there is just something eerie and strange about a bunch of Japanese people staring at you from a far, far distance and giving you that feeling that they either don’t like you, are silently judging you, or want to eat you and your family for din-din. Not saying this thought comes to mind every time a Japanese person stares at me, but in this, it kind of is.

Feast your eyes on what life after Buffy looks like.

Feast your eyes on what life after Buffy looks like.

However, when you get right down to it, that’s all the movie really has to offer. There are a couple of neat-o scares and chills to be had (that “after-work” scene was pretty damn tense), but everything else just feels like formula. The one film that this reminded me a lot of and probably for better, than worse, was the Ring. That movie, for all of it’s faults if you can find them, was creepy and something that made me feel a little bit tense when I would have to think about the next time turning off a static-y television-set. This movie, feels like a carbon-copy of it without any back-story worth mentioning, scares that don’t really get you at the right place and the right time, or any type of character that screams, hoots, and hollers like Naomi Watts could.

But then again, you have to beg the question, Can anybody? The answer to that is, I don’t think so. Heck, that’s why we have Naomi Watts in the first place.

Yes, little Japanese kids yelling in high-pitched, cat noises can be a little disorienting when you hear it the first two or three times, but after that, it’s just on-replay and never seems to end. Every time somebody would walk into the house, there would be movement upstairs, some sort of cracks and sizzles in the distance, a slight yelp from a ghost, the person would then pursue it, only to see a little boy, and have that little boy yell at them out of nowhere in that loud-ass voice I talked about earlier. It happens many ‘a times and maybe it could work on the types of people that are really, reelin’ in their chairs, scared to the high heavens, but on a person who doesn’t scared all that easily (yeah, I’m the shit) by material like this and knows what to expect next, then it doesn’t do anything nor does it serve any purpose. It’s boring, tedious, and goes to show you that the director may have decided to film all of this movie on his Lazy Sunday schedule, where everybody, including him, is still working with a hangover from the wild night before. Yeah, we all know those days and judging by the effort given by everybody in this cast and crew, I think they do as well.

Even though the characters aren’t here for anything else other than to just serve something resembling a story and serve the scares to come up, the performers do their best with what they’re given, even though it seems like a waste on this kind of material. Sarah Michelle Gellar is fine as the American nurse that gets all caught-up in this hubbubaloo that nobody needs to get involved with, not even Freddie Prinze Jr.’s wife, and she shows that disdain and annoyance on her face. But, she can also display the scared and shocked face well, too, and does that every chance she gets the opportunity to.

Honestly, just leave her. The "monster" isn't going to do shit anyway.

Honestly, just leave her. The “monster” isn’t going to do anything anyway.

Two very, very talented character actors pop up here as the kids of the crazy mother that sees things, William Mapother and Clea DuVall, and both are okay and definitely elevate this material to more than it aspires to be, but even I felt like taking them by the arm and being like, “Seriously? This is the type of crap you want to put on your resume to show that you have box-office appeal?”. Hey, good for them if it adds a couple of more bang to their buck, but for me, it just disappoints more than ever because I know they can do well with good material, but good material, this is not. The only hope I had for this movie was that they had the one, the mighty Bill Pullman here as some dude that randomly kills himself in the beginning and get’s a back-story later on, but it’s so goofy and so random, that it’s really just humorous. Pullman’s good and can do no wrong in my eyes, but even I felt like he was slumming this one down, big time.

Probably should have just stayed President of the United States and never even bothered stepping on Japanese soil.

Consensus: The Grudge isn’t quite the horror masterpiece it’s been made out to be by some, and instead, feels like a lazy retread of things we seen done many, many times before, and more effectively as well.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Yeah, I know I'm cool."

“Yeah, I know I’m cool.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Fair Game (2010)

Does anybody in the CIA ever smile? Better yet, do anything pleasant whatsoever?

Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) live a relatively comfy-life together in Washington with their two kids. She works for the CIA and is currently in the middle of an important mission that would allow for her to receive info on possible terrorists’, whereas he’s a former United States diplomat who takes pride in making sure that he gets his point across in any way possible, regardless of how unpopular it may be amongst the post-9/11 society. But their lives change in a drastic way when Plame allows for her husband to get sent on a mission to Niger, where he would inspect certain yellowcake uranium to see if it was being made for the construction of nuclear weapons. Wilson does not think so and lets his voice be known, however, his strong-willed opinion is practically ignored when the President of the United States himself decides to go after Africa anyway. This drives Wilson into a bout of late-night madness where he writes an op-ed for the New York Times, uncovering what it is that he saw and he believed. The White House catches wind of this and to say the least, they are not happy. Therefore, they decide to take matters into their own hands and drop their almighty power and weight on Wilson, as well as Plame, even going so far as to uncover her as an “CIA Agent”. That’s something that should never be unveiled to the public, but when you’re the United States government, you can practically do whatever you damn well please.

Though most of those may think otherwise, I do keep up modern-day politics and all sorts of happenings. But even for me, I had no clue of this story about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, and I can bet you donuts to dollars that not many others do either. Which is definitely an element you have to take into consideration while making a movie about it, whether it be a documentary or full-on narrative-flick: It must be as interesting and feel just as important as the film-makers behind the camera think so.

She blends in real nice.

She blends in real nice.

Here, director Doug Liman clearly feels a passion and an anger with this injustice done to Plame and Wilson, and because he feels it’s important, that feelings brought out onto us. However, it isn’t done so in a needy, obvious way that has Liman practically grabbing you by the head and saying, “Pay attention to how important this is!” Many movies of the same nature can and will do that, but thankfully, Liman doesn’t fall for that trick and instead, allows us to follow through the story in the easiest way possible that not only makes it understandable to any regular citizen, but also to anybody who has heard a bit about this story, but didn’t know all the nitty, gritty details of it.

And in making sure we follow along with the story and actually give a hoot about it, Liman focuses most of his attention on the core of this story: Plame and Wilson themselves.

See, it’s easy for a movie like this to get all sorts out-of-whack when there’s as much CIA-talk/espionage/back-stabbing/bullshit that goes on here, and while that does distract from the main reason why this movie’s worth seeing in the first place, it’s not terribly distracting. We still get an idea and feel for who these two people were before all of this havoc came into their lives, and just exactly why it did in the first place.

It would have been real easy for us to hold plenty of judgement against Joe Wilson for speaking his mind and landing his whole family in hot water, when he was assuredly guided to do otherwise, but the movie makes it seem like he needed to. Joe Wilson was the type of man who didn’t want to stand by all of these wrong-doings occurring around him and he sure as hell wasn’t going to stand by while it happened to him and those that he loved. It should be noted that Sean Penn is great as Joe Wilson, although there is one key problem with this casting and that’s because Joe Wilson himself does seem a lot like Sean Penn, the guy in real life. Especially towards the end, when Liman decides to hell with subtlety and starts really preaching to the choir, and gives us many scenes where it’s just Penn ranting, yelling and raving about how we all, as a society, should stand up for what we believe in and not get knocked down by the power of the metaphorical “man”.

"So I said to her, "FuckyoufuckingbitchI'llkillyou." Funny, right?"

“So I said to her, “FuckyoufuckingbitchI’llkillyou.” Funny, right?”

There’s nothing wrong with these scenes or what it is that they are trying to get across, per se, it’s just hard to separate a character Sean Penn is playing, from the person Sean Penn is in real life. Heck, there’s also another scene in which Wilson himself comes pretty close to beating the shit out of a reporter/paparazzi! Art imitating life? Maybe, maybe not. But what I do know is that Sean Penn was a wonderful choice for the part of Joe Wilson, for better or worse.

That’s not to say Naomi Watts is chopped-liver as Valerie Plame either, it’s just that she gives the type of performance we expect to see from Naomi Watts: Strong-willed and emotional, yet, still keeps a lid of silence on all of it. Watts is always great and it’s no surprise that she and Penn have a very comfortable, relaxed chemistry together, considering that they starred together in two movies before this. Together, they build a couple that has an understanding between what’s expected of a married-couple with kids, as well as what is expected to ensure the safety of them and their said kids. They’re the quintessential couple, except that this time, they’re practically facing off against the whole United States government. And while Liman realizes that this is a challenge for them (hard to believe, I know), he still realizes that when everything in life seems to be working against you, the ones you can always fall back on are your loved ones.

Even if they just so happen to be Sean Penn.

Consensus: Fair Game clogs itself up a bit way too much with unneeded subplots, but the arch of the story, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, is done well and effectively, to where we stand behind them with every decision they make, regardless of how risky it may or may not be.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

 

"Honey, can you do me a favor and shut your mouth? Maybe just for a few minutes?"

“Honey, can you do me a favor and shut your mouth? Maybe just for a few minutes?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

The Painted Veil (2006)

Women just never give the man the lovin’ they deserve. Tsk tsk.

Rich, spoiled, and bored English gal Kitty (Naomi Watts) thinks she’s met the man that will sweep her off of her feet, or at least, sweep her away from her mother, in the form of Dr. Walter Fane (Edward Norton). The two are clearly opposites and don’t seem to have much in common with one another, except for the fact that they want to be married and get away from their past lives. However, Kitty soon starts to get bored of Walter, and finds herself gravitating more towards his confidante, Dr. Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber), in which the two participate in a sordid affair of sorts. Walter isn’t dumb though and knows what’s going on when he isn’t around, so he makes Kitty a deal: Come with him to a cholera-infested village in China, or, get a divorce from him and see if her lover will want to get married too. Seeing as how Charlie doesn’t want to leave his own wife, Kitty has no other choice but to go with Walter where they both taste the dirt and do what they can to make time past, and maybe, just possibly even fall in love with one another. You know, like they originally thought that they did. But this time, for real.

What’s interesting about this movie, isn’t by the way it looks or sounds, it’s more about what it is. In one way, it’s a love story about a married-couple, but at the same time, it’s not a love story about a married-couple. These two may be married, but they sure as hell don’t love one another, and it was intriguing to see that play out, in a period-piece during the 20’s no less.

"Girl? Whatchu say?"

“Girl? Whatchu say?”

However, as interesting as that may have been, it didn’t really do wonders for me while I was watching it. See, even though I’m a young lad that’s chock full of hormones and energy, I truly don’t mind a slow-burner; in fact, sometimes, I more than welcome it. There’s nothing better to me than a movie in which all of the cards are laid-out on the table, shown to me in a comprehensible way, and made so that I can get a hold of everything I’m being told and just exactly what it is that I’m seeing. That’s usually what works so well about slow movies such as these, however, in order to make them fully work, there has to be something deep, hard, and meaningful burning deep down inside, and I just could not find that here.

Well, for the most part, I could at least decipher everything that was going on here, because not everything’s subtle. These two not-so lovebirds make it very clear to one another on many occasions that they do not love the other, and I have to say, everytime that happened, I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s played with the utmost sincerity, as if we’re supposed to be utterly shocked by these two characters not only fighting, but wanting nothing to do with the other. Also not to mention, the fact that it’s hard to feel any sympathy for either of these characters.

First of all, this Walter Crane guy is a bit of a geek – that’s pretty evident early on. Not only is he practicing in the medical-field, but he lets Kitty know, early on, that he’s a “bit clumsy”. Yeah, we get that. So, when they share one day together of doing Lord only knows what, he professes to her that he loves her, wants to get married, and needs an answer ASAP. Personally, I feel like maybe one or two dates is a bit too soon, but I guess if you feel it, then you feel it, and in the case of Walter Crane, it was instantly.

I guess I was supposed to feel sympathy for this nerdy guy because it’s clear that he doesn’t have a way with women (despite looking like Edward Norton whose dated gals like her and her) and maybe doesn’t have the best track-record, but it’s hard to care for him when he finds out that maybe he isn’t her type and then forces her to come on this life-changing trip of his. It’s clear he’s upset and confused, but still, come on, man, who was the one that practically threw it on her to get married. He even says at one point, “I knew why you married me in the first place”, or something along those lines. Then what the fuck!

It’s as if you brought a grizzly bear into your home and gave it honey. Then, moments later, you find out it still wants to claw the shit out of you, chomp your head off, and you still being like, “But hey! I brought you into my house and fed you!” Most bears are just wired that way, they can’t be fixed or helped in any way to think differently, so for you to bring it into your home, with your resources, and treat it your certain and expect the same in return, is just a bit dumb; bears are just wired differently. Maybe that’s a dumb metaphor, but I think its slightly understandable: It’s hard to feel bad for someone who gets a bunch of problems brought onto them, when anybody could have seen it coming from a mile away.

Now that I’m done with Crane, it’s time for Ms. Kitty who, despite being the cheater of the two, I actually felt a little bit more sympathy towards, if only because she didn’t try to be anything that she wasn’t. Sure, she was a total brat that only wanted to get out of her boring house and her annoying mom, but at least when her and Walt have their arguments, she doesn’t try to hide the fact that she was somebody else he didn’t already know about. Yes, I get that she is the one who decided to take the sanctity of marriage and shove it right down the sinkhole, but at least she wasn’t imposing upon anybody that she was anything else. If she was my wife, I’d be pretty pissed too, but that’s only because my wife would be somebody I know I’d feel safe and comfortable with loving and marrying; unlike how this Walter guy was with his wifey-poo.

God, what an idiot.

"Ah. Love that smell of cholera in the morning."

“Ah. Love that smell of cholera in the morning.”

Anyway, while neither character really put me in their sympathy-corners, I must say, the performances from Norton and Watts are, as expected, pretty good. Norton, despite his character being such a dunce, actually gives this Walt guy a real compassionate heart which, for what it’s worth, makes him seem like a genuinely nice guy who actually goes out of his own way to save these people all dying of cholera. He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to, and you can feel his compassion through Norton’s performance; it’s just such a shame that he wasn’t as compassionate or as smart when it came to choosing his women.

As for Naomi Watts, she gets to do a lot of pouting and staring, but she does very well with it. Though she’s the one character we’re supposed to clearly not like the most out of the two, Watts still makes us believe that there is some room for change in her personality and when that does happen, it seems understandable and barely ever tacked-on. It may be a bit corny in the way that it is presented to us, but that’s not any of Watts’ fault. Hell, it hardly ever is in her case.

Together, the two fix themselves together a nice chemistry that makes you feel like they truly do detest the absolute guts out of the other when they’re fighting; falling head-over-heels for one another when they are, well, you get it; and just happy to be in each other’s company. The movie never really throws any of this on us – it’s more about what these performers can do with the characters and material given to them, and you can hardly ever ask for a better pair than Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. All their character’s problems aside, they do what they can and most of the time, it’s good. Not great, but good enough to be seen.

Consensus: Though the Painted Veil includes the hard task of making its audience like, sympathize and understand its two relatively unlikable characters, it mostly gets by because Norton and Watts are so good at doing what it is they do: Act.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Shit. Did you remember to lock the side-door?"

Shit. Did you remember to lock the side-door?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

Just live life, don’t think too much and shut up! There, just saved you a near-two hours!

Environmental activist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) is the type of guy you just have to feel bad for. He’s the type that means well, but nothing ever seems to be working out well for him to the point of where he could just finally relax for a little bit. But nope, that is not the case, especially since he’s practically getting screwed over by a major corporation called Huckabees, mainly the head of P.R., Brad Stand (Jude Law). Brad practically promised Albert that he would save a huge part of land so that they could plant all sorts of trees and beautiful things, however, Brad doesn’t care about that and just wants his money, so he plans on just planting a huge shopping-mall instead, with Huckabees dead in the center of it all. Albert’s pissed about that, but he’s also worried about these strange run-ins he continues to have with this tall, African American man, that he automatically thinks are more than just sheer coincidences, they might just give meaning to his whole life in the past, present and the future. That’s where “Existential Detectives” Vivian and Bernard (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) come in and try to help him figure it all out, but since Albert’s a bit of a spastic nutcase, not everything goes as smoothly as planned.

Let”s just start things off on the right foot here: The movie is a mess, but it’s an intriguing mess, much like life is. There’s the hook, now on with the rest of this review.

They aren't supposed to be doing that, right? So therefore, it just HAS to be funny!

They aren’t supposed to be doing that, right? So therefore, it just HAS to be funny!

David O. Russell may be a very talented film maker and from what we’ve seen in these past couple of years, he’s really shown himself to be something of a man who can handle anything big or large. Sure, he’s had his freak outs many, many times before, but he’s made it clear that if you give him a huge cast, with a relatively simple, yet complex story, he can work wonders. However, when the story seems to be more than just simple and way more than just complex, then it becomes painfully clear that he can’t really hold his own and has to rely on his usually well-chosen casts. Which, once again, isn’t all that bad to begin with since everybody he gets to be apart of his ensembles are all great and do magnificent in his flicks, it’s just that there needs to be more substance to these stars doing shop, and regardless of what you may think with this material, there is no substance here. Please, do not be fooled.

See, while people will probably go out there and say, “this movie speaks volumes because of the types of questions it asks us about our current-existence, the lives we live and the world we live in”, is all a bunch of bologna. The movie seems so damn pleased with itself that it’s more than just your traditional, quirky comedy; instead, it’s asking bigger questions, that have to deal with bigger issues most people don’t get to thinking about on a day-to-day basis. There’s nothing wrong with thinking outside of the box either, it just has to be done right. Almost in the way in which Charlie Kaufman writes his movies: Strange, quirky and off-kilter, yet wholly insightful, emotional and more than meets the eyes.

David O. Russell, as much as it may surprise some, is no Charlie Kaufman and doesn’t have the ability to make this movie more than just a series of pretentious, heavy-thinking discussions about our existence on this planet. Those are the types of questions that usually come popping right up when a bunch of pals are saddled-around the campfire, smoking on the peace pipe, and that’s probably exactly where they should stay, especially if O. Russell’s going to be discussing them. I feel bad for getting on his case so much, because while there are some funny bits and pieces here, they mainly all stem from the fact that what’s happening on screen to cause these small pieces of laughter, is just because they’re pure random. Plain and simple. They don’t really work well towards the story or the type of message the movie is trying to get across (which is painfully clear, or not, who knows, who cares), and just seem like a bunch of crazy ideas O. Russell had rocking around in his mind and decided to go for the gull with here. Sometimes it works and amounts to nothing, sometimes it doesn’t and it just makes you feel bad for everybody involved.

Especially the cast. This poor, poor cast.

Better yet, I should just say poor Jason Schwartzman, because while I usually find him hilarious and entertaining to watch in whatever the hell it is that he pops up in, I couldn’t help but see him as annoying here. He always seemed to bitch and complain about everything in his life, never seemed like an actual character, with dimensions or emotions and seemed like the perfect type of guy that O. Russell could use as the straight-man for all of these over-the-top and crazy performances to play off of. And in that general aspect, the man gets what he wants, however, some of them fall short.

They're all jealous, Mark. Don't listen to 'em.

They’re all jealous, Mark. Don’t listen to ‘em.

Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman come close to, but keep their heads afloat playing the two Existential Detectives, who basically just serve as Albert’s self-conscious; letting him know what’s right, what’s wrong, what does it all mean and how he can move on in his life, the right way. Together, they form a fiery and fun chemistry, but their roles do begin to get a bit repetitive, as they seemed to be saying the same things, over and over again, just with different phrasing and mannerisms. Jude Law also gets the bad-end of the straw as the sleazy Brad Stand, though he definitely relishes in the moment of playing somebody that would be as mean and detestable as a man of his looks golly-good looks would be. Naomi Watts seems to really be loving her time as Tom’s girlfriend, the scantily-clad model for Huckabees, and gets most of the laughs from her side of the spectrum. Worked wonders for her role, especially once her character goes through her own existential crisis and as you could expect, some hilarity ensues.

The only time actual hilarity within this movie does ensue, is whenever Mark Wahlberg shows up to steal the spotlight as Tommy, the oddball firefighter who drives everywhere in his bike, has something against petroleum, likes to start fistfights anywhere he goes, with whomever he sees and just seems to want to get his point across, by any means imaginable. Yeah, he seems like he’d be the most grating character on display here, but Wahlberg somehow gets him by on sheer charisma and willingness to make himself seem dumb. It’s very rare where you’d get a very good-looking guy like Wahlberg, who’d actually be willing to participate in something as strange as this, playing an even stranger character than we’d ever seen him play before, and trudge all trudge all the way to the finish line with it, while making us laugh all along the way. Wahlberg’s obviously shown his love for comedy in the past couple of years, but this was when he showed the world that he was more than just a nice set of guns, a catchy-as-hell song and a wonderful way of saying hello to mothers, he could actually entertain you and steal the show from heavyweights like Hoffman, Tomlin and yes, even Isabelle Huppert! Not even going to acknowledge the shock in that statement, I’ll let you take that one for me.

Consensus: There may be some moments of actual comedy to be found in I Heart Huckabees, but most of them are scattered across a slap-shot script, full of pretentious ideas and performances from a very talented cast that don’t add up to much, even while they’d probably work wonders in a way better, less preachy movie.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Not even the sight of Shania could save the day.

Not even the sight of Shania could save the day.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

Sunlight Jr. (2013)

The true-story of people who call a Motel 6 “their home”.

Melissa and Richie (Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon) are old slackers just trying to get by in a world that’s moving a little too quick for them, and an economy that seems to be getting worse and worse. Melissa works at a gas-station/convenience store called Sunlight Jr., where she is constantly getting harassed by her dirt ball of a boss. But as crappy as that may sound, at least she’s the one with the job; on the other hand, Richie, due to the fact that he’s confined to a wheel-chair for reasons unknown, gets by drinking, going to the bar, fixing old VHS’s, trying to sell them and collect unemployment benefits for as long as he can. It’s not the ideal life for these two, however, it’s the only life that they can possibly have right now, so they stick with what they got. But once Melissa gets preggo, then things for this couple begin to get even more difficult by the days, especially since none of them can really control their emotions or their habits.

In case you couldn’t tell just by that synopsis right there, this one’s a pretty depressing and down-trodden thing to watch and get through, but somehow, it’s a movie that matters. Doesn’t make it perfect, or even worth watching, but if you’re in the right mood, at the right time, with the right ideas of knowing what to expect, then you got to give it a go. Here, let me explain some more.

In case you couldn't tell, they're sad.

In case you couldn’t tell, they’re sad.

What I liked so much about writer/director Laurie Collyer’s approach is that she never really finds herself jumping into over-the-top, melodramatic territory with this material, even though it definitely begs for that to happen. Every moment something bad or suddenly disastrous occurs to this couple, rather than showing us how heart-broken they must feel at that point in time, the movie takes the higher-road and shows that they have to move on, as quick as possible. The movie never settles on the fact that they’re poor, a little dumb and have the odds stacked highly against them, but rather, shows us that they know what’s going on in their lives and are trying their best to get past it. And if they can’t get past it, then they will sure as hell survive in it; that’s as much as they can do, and that’s all that they’re going to die.

However though, it wouldn’t be safe to call them “sympathetic” in the least bit, because they do make some bone-headed decisions. For instance, one scene here occurs about mid-way through where Melissa is told by her boss to not have her boyfriend behind the counter, counting the money and doing the job all for her. Two scenes later, that’s exactly what he’s doing, and why? Oh, well, it was all because she was tired, was in need of a nap and her boyfriend decided to step up to the plate and be a sweetheart. And by “be a sweetheart”, I mean, he risked her getting her beauty-sleep over having her job, making minimum-wage and being able to pay for his bum-self.

So yeah, it’s not like you feel totally sorry for these characters because while that scene was just one instance of their sheer stupidity at times, there are plenty more where that came from. But then again, they make some idiotic decisions that any human on this Earth would make, especially ones who probably make more than just $7.25-50-an-hour. They’re human-beings, they act silly sometimes, they don’t always use their heads and rather act on impulse. That’s how we all are, their only problem is that they have a mortgage to pay that they can’t keep up with and even worse, they got themselves a little baby on the way. Just adds insult to injury, doesn’t it?

Anyway, that’s why this movie works as well as it does and should at least be seen; because while it does have some very dark, deep and depressing moments that wouldn’t be the nice pick-me-up you need after you just get laid-off from your cashier job at Mickey D’s, there is still some honest-to-god realism and hope thrown in there for good measure, and it works. It doesn’t just show you that you have to stick up for yourself and say whatever’s on your mind in order to get what you want and demand that respect; in fact, I’d say it’s about the opposite. It’s a movie about people who know when to take shit, how to dish it back out and when worse comes to worse, and their lives on the line, how to just keep their mouths shut and keep on a movin’. Don’t have anybody fool you, but THAT, my friends, is “the American way”.

Just realizing that their lives are totally and completely fucked from here on in.

Just coming to the realization that their lives are totally and completely fucked from here on in.

Hate to break it to ya, folks. But that’s the only way you’re going to get by in the world. And if you don’t think so, then just get a blog. Look what good it’s done me!

As down-trodden as this may all sound, the one aspect really keeping it alive and healthy are the performances from Dillon and Watts who, once again, show that if you give them a script worthy-enough of their talents, then they’re going to give you their all. And then some more. Dillon seems like he’s having a fun time being a charming loser, and gets a few scenes that seem more like he just said “screw it” to the script, and absolutely free-balled it. Makes me wish we saw more of him, as he’s a guy whom I still feel doesn’t quite get the credit he deserves. As for Watts, she does pretty damn good also as Melissa, showing us a gal that’s really got the odds stuck up against her, and yet, will continue to fight to survive for as long as she can possibly stomach. After stinkers like Movie 43, Adore and that oh-so-terrible Diana, it’s nice to see Watts acting her hiney off again, and actually getting more out of it, than what she just puts in. Keep it up, girlie, and stay the hell away from biopics and comedy! Please.

Consensus: Don’t depend on Sunlight Jr. to get you happy and hopeful for the future, however, do expect it to be a nice slap-in-the-face for facing reality, realizing what one must and wants to do, and noticing how they are totally two different things altogether. Then again, that’s life. That’s what all the people say.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Oh yeah! And he's in this, too! But he doesn't have a cross-bow with him, so boo!

Oh yeah! And he’s in this, too! But he doesn’t have a cross-bow with him, so boo!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Diana (2013)

Prince Charles looks like ten times more of a pimp now than ever before.

Shortly after her divorce from Prince Charles, the media begin a storm on the personal life of Princess Diana (Naomi Watts) in hopes that they’ll be able to calculate and catch the next big possible thing Diana has going on in her life. However, despite all of the hustle and bustle from what seems to be never-ending on the outside, on the inside, where all the action really happens, Diana stays sound, quiet and thoughtful as she catches the eye of a surgeon (Naveen Andrews). Though this surgeon doesn’t quite care for celebrity-gossip or any of that rubbish that Di always finds herself being the talk-of-the-town through, he does realize that there’s something more to Di than what he sees on telly, and he’s going to find it, even if that means having to wad through hundreds and hundreds of paparazzo and practically saying “adios” to his personal life being kept, well, personal. Then again, did he not know this beforehand when he decided to tap that sweet rump of Diana’s? I mean, come on, man! She’s the Princess for lord’s sake!

In case you haven’t read a single review of this in the past couple of months, or even heard of it, this movie’s been getting a big old thrashing. And to me, that’s a huge disappointment because yes, even though it’d seem nearly impossible to make a biopic about Princess Di without at least offending someone in one way or another, they still could have gone a little unconventional, while also using a really good, really inspiring true-story to fall back on. I’ve never been a huge follower of Di did when she was alive, and/or what her impact on the world is still being felt even today, but I do know that there was a better movie meant to be made here, it just wasn’t made.

Seems like Di's been hanging out a bit too much with those mobster's wives.

She had to whack one of the Goodfella‘s wives for that helmet.

It comes down to being that simple, really.

The problem with this movie is that it’s almost way too simple and sweet for its own good. Granted, I didn’t want to see a biopic that really got on Di’s ass for screwing around a whole slew of guys after she and Charles called it quits, and I sure as hell didn’t want one that took that d-bag’s side in terms of who was the better of the two in that break-up, but then again, I didn’t want to see something as conventional, and as sentimental as what we have here. The movie starts off giving us the traditional story of what we know about Diana, and through mere-speculation most of the time, doesn’t jump away from that type of story telling. It gives us all the details and bits of info that we already know about Di’s life and doesn’t really bring much of anything new or different to her legend. Just shows her being an ordinary gal, in a world that she couldn’t stop but to help.

And Di is totally deserving of her own movie, but a far better would have been perfect for me. It gives you the facts, it gives you some of her most famous and notable moments and it even gives you a shot of those devilish kids of hers, but it never digs any deeper, or even seems like it’s interested in even doing so. Mostly, all this movie is concerned with is telling us the story of Di as the media knew her, while also clearing up her name as well. Remember all those steamy, sexy and scandalous pictures that were taken of her on a yacht with some hunk-of-flesh? Oh, well they were all set-up just so, in the dumbest way possible, Diana could mess around with the over-bearing paparazzi. But in essence, she only made it worse, which, in another essence, eventually led to the cause of her death.

So, if there are any lessons to be learned, it’s that you just don’t give the paparazzi any more room for comfort than they already deserve. Sorry all of you Diana lovers. It’s the truth that hurts the most.

Where the real disappointment of this movie comes in is through its two stars, both of whom actually seem like they’re bleeding from head-to-toe trying to make this material pop-off of the screen and into our laps, but to no avail whatsoever. Naomi Watts is possibly one of the best working actress we have in the biz today, and if there’s anybody in this world that I feel more comfortable with playing the role of the iconic Princess Diana, it’s definitely her. However, as good and as talented as Watts is, she looks nothing like Diana whatsoever, and it just takes you out of the movie everytime she shows up.

In another movie, they'd be the match-made-in-heaven. Or just London.

In another movie, they’d be the match-made-in-heaven. Or just London.

Sure, the movie tries their hardest to give you the impression that this really IS Diana herself on the big screen (that wig looks like it was bought from Halloween Adventure, and it only gets more comical to look at when she puts on another one), but never once are you going to forget that this is Naomi Watts playing Princess Diana, as well as she honestly can. Because with a script like this, you can only try you’re hardest. That’s what Watts does and she makes the movie better as a result, but nothing too spectacular to where she saves the movie. Poor gal. At least she goes home to Liev Schreiber at night. At least she has that.

Though Naveen Andrews isn’t as big of a name, or as noticeable as Watts is, he’s still alright as Dr. Hasnat Khan, the surgeon that catches Di’s lingering eyes. Andrews does what he can, much like Watts does, but where he shows weakness more so in is that he just doesn’t seem like the type of guy Diana, at this time and point in her life, would actually fall for. Yes, I know that this man is real and that Di did in fact go out with him, but there was just something so cheesy and awfully nerdy about this guy that made him seem too square to be going out with royalty like Diana, let alone be noticed by her. Once again, I know it’s a true story, but the facts to me didn’t really connect with the story itself, nor the chemistry between these two, or should I just say, lack thereof? Yeah, I’m leaving it at that.

Consensus: Probably one of the most boring, conventional and safe biopics you’ll ever see, Diana tries time and time again to make this story interesting, but even with the best efforts of Watts and Andrews, no sparks are to be found nor are any actual insight into the iconic woman herself.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

The constant head-bobs just weren't cutting it for me anymore.

The constant head-bobs just weren’t cutting it for me anymore. Sorry, Naom (it’ll catch on, just you wait).

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Adore (2013)

Knowing my friends and their moms, why can’t either of them be this open to experimentation?

Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have been besties ever since they were children. They grew up together, got married and had families together, and are not banging each other’s son together. Wait, what?!?! You heard me, right: They are banging one another’s son, and what’s the strangest thing behind it all is that they like it, and don’t want to put at end to it. Roz’s relationship with Ian (Xavier Samuel) gives her a way to escape the problems she’s having with her hubby (Ben Mendelsohn); whereas Lil’s relationship with Tom (James Frecheville) is mostly spurred-on by the fact that Roz is in one with her son, so why not her, right? Anyway, the two seem to enjoy nailing these younger dudes, but what happens when the idea of them moving on and getting acquainted with women more their age, becomes a reality?

You could only imagine how a premise like this would settle in with any real person, mother or not. It’s pretty weird to think that one second, your best-friend’s mom is cooking you sandwiches for lunch, and then the next second, she’s cooking you sandwiches for your post-sex lunch. Pretty weird idea, don’t you think? Well, what may be construed as “weird” in the eyes of normal folk like, say, you or me, may not be in other people’s eyes and believe it or not: I could totally see something as outlandish as this actually happening in real-life. Hell, it could practically be happening right from underneath my nose for all I know!

"So it's cool, right? Not weird at all if you start locking arms with my son, and mine with yours?"

“So it’s cool, right? Not weird at all if you start locking arms with my son, and mine with yours?”

With that said, the movie takes the daring, but bold choice in showing these characters and their situations as real human-beings, that not only have a reasoning for mom-swapping, but also do not judge the other for doing so either. They’re all fine and dandy with the idea that they’ll be having dinner like a normal bunch of friends and family, and then be spankin’ the hell out one another right after. Pretty weird, I know, but the movie never judges these characters for partaking in such actions either, and I have to give it credit for that, if nothing else.

We see them, for them, and, in terms of our main female characters, paints them in a way that shows them as sexually-dominating, getting what they want, how they want it. Usually in movies like this, the shoes are on the other-foot, with the male getting whatever type of sexual-satisfaction he wants, whenever he says so; but here, it’s a bit different and I liked seeing a movie approach a story in that light. It may have not been able to work any other way (except maybe if you showed it from the guy’s perspectives, and had the movie written and directed by Neil Labute) and I’m glad they rolled down the avenue, making it more appealing to all MILFS world-wide.

And hell, if that gets their rumps in the seats, then count me in! Can’t lie, but I wouldn’t mind myself an older woman here and there, knowing what I’m saying? Probably not, but so be it! I know what I like, people! Leave me be!

But despite the brave approach the movie takes to its story, somehow, someway, none of it ever seems to come flying off the screen. You’d think that with this much sexual-tension lying underneath each and every frame of this movie, that you’d probably need about four fans and bottles of water around you just to make sure you stay cool and alive for the rest of the movie, but it surprisingly never reaches that point. There are signs that it may go that way, but after the first scene where the act of sex has already been initiated, it all sort of gets repetitive after that, showing how these four characters all entangle themselves in affairs, and don’t really seem to care for much else, except for maybe time away so they can bang each other some more.

You know, weird stuff like that.

The film does make you wonder though, and it brings up this question more than often: What are these young dudes and older women going to do with their sexual-lives together when the idea of moving-on, meeting new people, and exploring life shows up? Well, probably sit down, cry, and pout like it’s no tomorrow, because that’s exactly what these characters seem to do and it didn’t really make much sense either; and it should have, however, the film didn’t bother to spend much time developing these characters further than just that they like having sex, and best of all, with each other. More time spent on who these characters are, the way they function when they aren’t spreading themselves across the sheets and what they think about doing for the rest of their lives. would have done a sexualized-story like this wonders, but it somehow doesn’t get off the ground or make much sense.

Or, "The MILF-slayers" as they like to go by in some circles.

Or, “The MILF-slayers” as they like to go by in some circles.

For instance, take the two characters of the young guys. Both are chiseled, sexxed-up, in-shape, ready-to-go, and able to get any woman all hot and ready upon first-glance, so why the hell are they settling for these older ladies, who also happen to be each other’s mommies? Never made much sense, mainly because they aren’t weird dudes. They definitely are young and use their dicks more as tools than as meaningful parts of their body, used for creation and years of love, but it never hit me why they would get so far as to bang these gals, and then stick with them for so long. Never made much sense, and as much as Frecheville and Samuel do try with their roles, they aren’t anything more than just a bunch of pretty faces, slapped on to some sexy bodies. Hey, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty dam impressed with what they had packing.

As for the two older ladies that they’re banging, Naomi Watts and Robin Wright, both seem to like this material and put their hearts into it, but the movie doesn’t really do them any favors either. Even though the movie is on their side and shows that they have wants and needs too, it never feels like it gives them much credit for being the great actresses they are. They don’t develop that much, and in ways, get really strange at times, almost to the point of where it really creeped me out. It is creepy to see them all hang out like a normal family that goes to dinner, chats, and hangs out together, but it was even creepier to see them try to step out into the real world, and act like there isn’t anything more going on between them all. Now that, my friends, is strange as can be.

Consensus: The premise for Adore is odd and will definitely shock most normal, run-of-the-mill humans out there, but it does take a respectable-stance on its material, and doesn’t pass judgment on these characters, as thinly-written as they may be.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

The future looked so bright for these friends, and then puberty hit.

The future looked so bright for these close friends, and then puberty hit.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Movie 43 (2013)

Not all celebrities are prudes. Only the ones with Oscars are.

The central story is about how a deranged writer (Dennis Quaid) forces a studio executive (Greg Kinnear) to make his movie. But before any moves actually take place on it, we get to see what the actual-product is as the writer reads it out to us and the executive. Basically, it’s just one dude’s shitty idea, all for us to see and cringe at. Yay!

Sketch-comedies never seem to work, that is, unless you just so happen to be drunk, horny, wild, and ready for a good-time. However, I don’t think it will matter if you’re any of those things: you may never, ever enjoy this movie. Okay, maybe if you’re 12-years-old, and love to hear the word “balls” in almost every sentence  then yes, you might just have a freakin’ ball with this thing. But if you are above that age-limit in anyway, shape, or form, this is going to be one cringe-inducing trip for you. Whether you like it or not. I’m going to guess your most likely to side with the latter.

Any movie can tell a ball, poop, or fart joke like it’s nobody’s business, but it’s all how you do it and literally; this film just cannot do it in the right way where you laugh, chuckle, or even get that they just made the joke. Almost every single skit in this movie has at least one use of the word “ball” or “shit” and it gets annoying, probably around the time the first skit kicks-in and you realize that you’re going to be tormented to the core of your stomach, with non-stop raunch jokes that do nothing. Apparently, everybody who ever worked on this movie, all thought that the idea of somebody having a certain bodily-fluid sprayed all-over-their-face was downright, hilarious and it’s a huge-shocker that it never dawned on any of these people that maybe, just maybe, the type of material that they are working with, just isn’t funny enough to suit a 6-to-7-minute sketch, let alone a whole movie full of ‘em.

"Today's lesson is, "How to NOT choose shitty movies like this".

“Today’s lesson is, “How to NOT choose shitty movies like this”.

And also, the idea of having a movie so chock-full of sketches where big-named stars just demean themselves to the lowest, common denominator, almost seems so old-school, it’s not even worth it paying the money to go out and seeing. I mean, you can probably go onto Funny or Die, College Humor, Cracked, or even YouTube for that matter, find big-celebrities, doing some crazy shite for laughs, and actually having there be; ACTUAL LAUGHS. Here, in this movie where it’s just one, long presentation of a bunch, you get probably one-or-two laughs and that is literally all because the jokes that they use in the film that are actually funny, were already used 100-times before in all of the trailers/commercials we have either seen or heard, 100 times before. Going out to see this movie is already a crime, but actually going out to pay for it, is like a freakin’ cardinal sin. Especially when you know that more-quality humor is laying right there for you, at your fingertips.

Even if the delivery is god-awful, at least some of the placement is okay. For instance, some skits actually seem to have some promise like the one where Robin (Justin Long) actually stands up for himself and gets involved with a Superhero speed-dating event, where other, actual superheroes show-up to mingle and hopefully, get laid. This idea seems like it’s planned to be a butt-load of fun, especially if that idea came from Joss Whedon, but sadly, it comes from the makers of this shit-pile and before you could say the word, “kryptonite”, the sketch has already lost itself in saying the word “bush” or “shit”, one way too many times. I mean, when you got Wonder Woman and Batman talking to each other about how they fucked and it never amounted to anything but Batman running-away and never calling again, you would expect non-stop hilarity, right? But nope, instead it’s all about having Robin still be played-out as the softer, gayer-one of the two and if you didn’t think that joke was over-played by now, trust me, just wait for the rest of the movie.

However, without the promise of an interesting-idea, most skits just fall from grace, right from the very start. The skit where Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott both find and capture a leprechaun (played by Gerard Butler, in CGI-form), in hopes to get some gold, starts off pretty bad. Apparently the director, Brett Ratner (in case you haven’t been surprised yet), thought that the idea of having a leprechaun spew-out a bunch of dirty words was funny enough to last a whole sketch, especially one where it seemed like it’s main actors would actually sparkle in. Sadly, they just don’t do anything for the sketch, or the movie itself and the way it all ends is so dark and savage-like, that it really left me with a bad-taste in my mouth, which is very shocking since the rest of the film just couldn’t. I want to spoil the ending of that sketch for you so you understand what I’m blabbering all about, but sadly, I am a critic and I have morals, people. But still, don’t see this movie because I won’t spoil it for you.

"No, I'M in this movie?!?!"

“No, I’M in this movie?!?!”

The idea of having all of these different stars being packed into one movie where all they do is completely raunchy and dirty shit (sometimes literally), may make them seem cool and on-the-edge, but in reality: it’s just a poor-decision. I guess it’s really strange to see heavyweights like Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman in a skit about a dude with balls on his neck, or a skit with Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts playing parents of a home-schooled kid that give him the full, high-school experience with sex, drugs, abuse and all, but it’s even stranger to see peeps like them actually stoop themselves so low as to actually make this material work. I don’t know if they knew this right from the initial script-read, but this is terrible-material they are working with here so instead of giving it their all and actually going to town with whatever energy or sense of purpose they can muster-up to make this work, they seem almost as if they forcing it out, almost like a kidney stone (and yes, it is THAT painful to watch). Nobody here really out-shines the other and probably the only person that really made me laugh and surprised the hell out of me from this whole cast was Will Sasso, who shows-up, does his thing, reminds us that he is still alive, and actually made me laugh. I was terribly and utterly surprised, but he was the real spectacle to see for me. Everybody else can suck my nut because I hated this shit, and I hated watching them try to act in it!

Consensus: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let the star-studded cast fool you, Movie 43 is one hell of a bombshell that begins on a lame-note and ends on an even-worse one that makes you feel like you’ve just been hit over-the-head with somebody’s foreign parts, and not in the fun, or pleasureful way, either. It’s the type of way that disturbs you and scars you for life. That is, until you see an equally as bad movie and that’s, going to be very hard to come by for some time I think.

1 / 10 = Crapola!!

Poor Gerard Butler. This is probably his worst movie to-date.

Poor Gerard Butler. This is probably his worst movie to-date.

The Impossible (2012)

Apparently the English had it way worse than the rest of Thailand. Apparently.

Based on a real story, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as the parents of three sons as they are all caught in the aftermath of the humongous tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004. They get split-up, with the oldest-boy (Tom Holland) and his mother on one side, whereas the father and the younger-boys are on the other. However, among all of the pain, destruction, and disaster  both sides set out to find one another and do, simply, THE IMPOSSIBLE. Come on, you had to know that was coming up.

The 2004 Tsunami is a disaster that is still fresh and clear in many people’s minds and in ways, still has people feeling the effects, even after all of these years. That’s why making a flick about this monster-Tsuanmi would still seem a little too soon for some, but it’s a lot more tastefully done than the advertising would have you think. To be honest, it’s probably a better use of the Tsunami than that piece of crapola Hereafter was. Hey, if you’re going to cash-in on a real-life disaster, do it the right way, not the Clint Eastwood way. And that’s why director J.A Bayona is suited so well for this material because not only does he handle the subject and topic with a real sense of class and decency, but he also shows it in the way that makes me feel as if I was right then and there while it was happening.

After seeing a whole Summer chock-full of the world being blown-up and countless other areas being turned to shit, I was very, very surprised to see that the very best use of any type of destruction for a movie in 2012 (no, not that Roland Emmerich piece of shite) came from a movie that uses only 10 minutes or so of it, and then it’s practically gone. We only get 10 minutes or so until the actual Tsunami comes and concurs, and it’s just one of those moments that occurred this year where I was grounded to the floor from start-to-finish. The reason that is, is mainly because everything I saw seemed so real with the waves coming in at a very realistic look and pace, and the scariest use of water I have seen in quite some time. You seriously feel as if you are right there with these people as they get hit by the Tsunami and I have to give Bayona a crap-ton of credit for putting me on the edge of my seat and having me feel like I was in for a wild ride of drama, sadness, destruction, and family-matters. I got all of them, but sadly, not the way I wanted.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

After the Tsunami hits and we get to see the shitty situations these characters have found themselves in, everything, slowly but surely, starts to fall-apart. Maybe that isn’t the right thing to say because I was very involved with these characters, this real-life disaster, and the aftermath of it all, but then it almost seems to lose it’s focus. The story that we become first accustomed to is with Watts and Holland as he has to practically be the parent in this situation, because she can barely even walk and practically falling apart. This story-line was interesting as hell because you rarely get to see the kid parenting the parent in movies, unless it’s some teenage daughter teaching her dad all of the cool lingo that the Y-Generation, cool kids use. We see how a parent can put themselves below a child, be tended to, and how a child can actually do that while being successful, and yet, still be a child. It was interesting to see and I could tell that if this was how the whole film was going to play-out, then I was probably going to need to borrow the extra bag of Kleenex’s from the person next to me.

However, I soon forgot about a very key, important-factor to this flick: there’s a whole other side to the family! When McGregor shows up with the two, younger boys, then the flick becomes a bit conventional and melodramatic, almost to the point of where it’s off-putting. With Watts and Holland, it was rich, raw, and gritty, almost to the point of where you were cringing because somebody needed to throw water and soap on them, but when you get McGregor and his story of looking for his family, it takes everything down to something that feels as if it would be from a Lifetime movie or something. The eternal conflict that McGregor has to go through, is that he has to choose on whether or not to abandon his own children, to look for his wife and other child, and that’s it. He has to find them and if he doesn’t, chances are, they’ll be dead. I get that it’s a very real and true depiction of events that probably occurred to a plethora of families around this time, but still, it doesn’t make it the least-bit intriguing or surprising to watch, especially when all that I’m watching is a guy, walking around with a piece of paper in his head and asking people certain names. Yeah, should have just stayed with Watts. She probably would have gotten naked more, too.

The fact that this is a real depiction of something that real people had to go through, just makes this final-product a bit more distasteful in it’s own way. For instance, I find it relatively strange that the flick’s real-life story, concerns a family that was Mexican. Here, they are English and even worse, the rest of the film acts like it was hardest on them the most. Over a million people died that fateful day and some families are still reeling from the effects of that, so to sit-there and make a movie about a little, mighty family of mates that went searching for one another, does seem a bit rude to the rest of the people out there who died and were sometimes under the same circumstance as this very same family. I do have to come and realize that yes, this is a Hollywood production and yes, this is a real-life story about a real-life family, not the real-life event that actually occurred, but still, if I were one of the families who suffered from this Tsunami and saw this movie, I’d be a little ticked-off, quite frankly.

"You think I'm bad, you should see Anakin."

“You think I’m bad, you should see Anakin.”

Even though the actual, real-life family this story is based-off of is in fact, Mexican, the English cast that actually does take over this story still make it worth the while to watch and are easily the best elements to this flick. Naomi Watts is getting all sorts of hollers and praise for her role here as Maria, the wife/mother who can’t fend for herself due to a terrible disability, and it’s well-deserved hollers and praise, in my mind. Watts is always knocking roles like this out of the park, each and every single year, but here, she sort of shows the vulnerable-side to her character that can’t be the leader and owner anymore, and instead, has to sit on the back burner and try to stay alive, while her son cares and tends for her. Maybe it’s not as traumatizing of a performance as the one she gave in 21 Grams, but it’s still the cleaner, more mainstream-version of that same performance.

Ewan McGregor is an actor that has been very so-so over the last decade or so, but I think he’s gotten his career back on-track and is a great actor to watch, especially when he’s in such an act of desperation as his character is here. McGregor definitely still has the lovable sensibility to him that not only makes you feel like he’s a great father that loves his family for what they are, but will ultimately, end-up doing the right thing for every one in the end. There’s a scene with McGregor on the phone and without giving too much away and spoiling it for all of you cats out there, it’s probably his most powerful piece of acting he’s given ever since the days of Moulin Rogue. Maybe to some, that’s not saying much, but to me, it means the whole world. Good job, Ewan! Now stay away from the new Star Wars movies!

As compelling as McGregor and Watts are (and trust me, they are something to watch and behold here), the one who really stands-out the most is probably Tom Holland as the oldest-son. The kid starts off as a bit of a brat that can’t help but being a piece of crap to his parents and to his brothers, but has to change all that up once everything goes from bad, to worse, to absolutely dreadful. Not many kid actors working today could pull-off that transition from spoiled-brat, to powerful, adult-like child, but Holland does it and does it so perfectly that you really believe in whatever this kid does next. He’s a wonderfully kind specimen the way he cares for his mother and looks out for her, especially when she needs him the most, but is even kinder when it comes to helping others out in looking for their families, friends, and loved ones. Holland may, or may not slide-by with an Oscar nomination this year but if he does get one, I will not be mad in the least-bit because he’s never annoying, and he’s always real. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

Consensus: Focusing on one, English-family throughout this terrible disaster that occurred in 2004, does seem a bit insensitive to the ones who were effected the most by it, but The Impossible still provides plenty of rich, character-moments that are made even better by the cast and crew that make this flick, one step above your typical, soapy-drama.

7/10=Rental!!

Don't let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.

Don’t let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.

Eastern Promises (2007)

Does Russia ever want tourists to visit them?

The film follows and centres on the story of a London hospital’s midwife Ana (Naomi Watts) who witnessed the death of a young girl in giving birth on Christmas Eve and decided to search for her family and identity. The search leads her into the core of dangers of the underground sex-trafficking business operated by the London’s Russian crime community headed by Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen).

I’ve been covering David Cronenberg flicks pretty frequently now and I’m glad to say that I think I’m starting to understand him a lot more now. Actually, no I’m not. Just bring on the blood dammit!

After A History of Violence came out and sort of took the world by storm, Cronenberg was looking for his next big crime film that would do the same and he pretty much does the same thing here, except everybody is Russian. What I liked about Cronenberg’s direction here is that he allows the story to tell itself and rather than spelling everything out for us, simply gives us a back-story to all that is going on and what could possibly happen with all of these gritty sons-of-bitches. This means that there is enough time for all of the tension to build up, so when Cronenberg does unleash his killing spree for all of us to see, it really feels deserved.

There aren’t many of the scenes where Cronenberg just lets loose with his violence, but when it does happen, shit gets very crazy and gory. I can’t remember the last time that I actually saw a film with so many slit throats but instead of becoming repetitive and a boring way to off somebody, Cronenberg pretty much adds as much ketchup as he can to make it seem like every single blood cell this guy has, is coming right out of his throat. Sorry for all of the bloody detail but it’s something that sticks with you after you see this kind of flick, as well as a scene where a dude gets his eye-ball stabbed. It’s all fun and games with Cronenberg, with plenty of blood and murder to go around.

However, the one violent scene that I heard everybody talking about when this first came out, was actually the big-ass brawl in the bathhouse. Basically, the scene consists of Viggo facing off against two Russian thugs but the catch here, is that Viggo’s completely naked. And when I mean naked, I mean NAKED. You see everything that this dude’s got packing and as daring as it may have been from Viggo, it’s still a huge distraction from the whole scene itself. The choreography is pretty bad-ass and the violence itself is filmed well, with Cronenberg standing off to the side and not trying to add any flash or flair to it all, but it’s sort of distracting when you got Viggo on top of a dude beating the shit out of him and all you can keep staring at is his balls on the dude’s chest. Yes, it’s a pretty daring and different kind of action scene, but it”s also one that really could have been saved had Viggo decided to put some shorts on. Hell, he didn’t even really need shorts, he could have gone with something like spandex or just some sort of leg wear that would have gotten my eye-balls away from his…well..you know where I’m going with this.

Aside from the infamous scene that he took apart of, Viggo Mortensen is actually pretty damn good in this role as Nikolai and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination he got that year. Viggo is always one of those actors who just always seems like a bad-ass in just about everything he’s in, and he gets to show all of that here as a Russian gangster, except one of the rare ones that actually has a conscience. He’s rough, tough, and a dude that you wouldn’t fuck with but if you really feel like you could, you could probably even trust him as well. Great performance from Viggo and another extra kudos to him for going out and baring it all. Lord only knows I sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to pull that off.

Naomi Watts‘ performance here as Anna is fine but her story starts to really fall in the background by about the second act, and it’s such a shame because Watts seems pretty much one-note the whole time. I mean this is a chick who can make distressed and scared look perfect, but that’s all she is pretty much given here and as much as I loved seeing Viggo be cool as hell, I would have liked to see. more from Watts and her story as well. Playing two of Viggo’s crime buddies are Armin Mueller-Stahl and Vincent Cassel, and as good as they are, their fake Russian accents seemed a little forced and really took me away from the authenticity of the flick. I know I sound like a brat with that last statement but honestly, if Cronenberg was having such a problem with being able to get these guys to do legit, Russian accents, they should have just freakin’ called up Dolph Lundgren. End of story people!

Consensus: Eastern Promises definitely delivers on some solid acting from Viggo Mortensen, and a solid direction from David Cronenberg, but it also lacks in a story that can really draw you in and the last act or so, really starts to fizzle out.

7/10=Rental!!

21 Grams (2003)

I don’t know what these people are selling, but I sure as hell don’t want 21 grams of it. Teeehee

’21 Grams’ interweaves several plot lines, around the consequences of a tragic automobile accident. Sean Penn plays a critically ill academic mathematician, Naomi Watts plays a grief-stricken mother, and Benicio del Toro plays a born-again Christian ex-convict whose faith is sorely tested in the aftermath of the accident.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu is a director I’m sort of mixed with even though I have already seen three of his four films already, including this one. Still, seems like a good enough director but at the same time, very much into making everything look absolutely filthy.

When it comes to the technical sides of things, Iñárritu knows what to do. The film looks very dirty, grainy, and makes it almost seem as if everybody in the film needs a bath but it works and gives this film a sort of ugly feeling where nothing good will come and happen to these characters. The film also has some very razor-sharp editing that cuts away at some very good moments but mind you, this is not a very fast-paced film by any means, it is a long slow-burner that keeps you watching even when you think your out.

When it comes to the emotional side of things though, Iñárritu also seems like he knows what he’s doing. The film is very dark, sad, and very depressing but there is still a lot we can feel for these characters because each of them all had or still have something terrible eating at them from the inside. Iñárritu keeps all three of these characters’ motives tucked inside of them and it’s actually up to us what we think they will do next and whether or not they are actually good people. At times, it can be hard to feel anything for these types of characters but by the end, you really start to feel their pain and anguish, which is something that almost draws you closer to them.

The problem with all of this is, everything here is told in a non-linear way where it constantly jumps back-and-forth between past, present, and the future. This of course, has its negatives as well as its positives. The positives about this is that this way of approaching the story sort of gives it that feel of a jigsaw puzzle where one second we see two people happy, then the next second we see one of them getting shot, and it all feels confusing at first but after awhile you start to get used to it and connect all of the pieces anyway. I like these types of films that use this different kind of approach and it was pretty neat to see it used here but then again, it did have its negatives that were a little too big.

First of all, I think the whole idea of having this film’s narrative jump around from one scene to another was just because Iñárritu he wanted to spice up the premise that could have easily been a straightforward melodrama. If it was a film that just told its stories in the order that it happened, it would have still been easily as good as the final product here and I think that Iñárritu just did this because he knew that he needed to do something new and cool with this material to make it stand-out. Secondly, this point basically goes along with my first point in saying that it’s pretty pointless after all but then again, it did keep me a little bit more interested than I expected so I can’t talk total ish. However, my last problem was probably the biggest of all and took me away from the film as a whole.

I already stated that I could actually feel something for these characters because of all this bad stuff they had happen to them, but what really took me away from really getting inside of them and understanding how they felt was this narrative structure. The problem with this structure and this story was that the flick requires us to feel something for these characters by seeing all of these things that occur over a different time-and-place every 5 seconds, which doesn’t really allow them to build any real character arc because of the fact that one second they could be happy as hell, then the next second they could be crying like a little beotch, and then the next second they could be getting it in with their significant other. By the end of the first hour, the flick starts to get more linear but it can’t really do much for the fact that this flick jumped around a little bit too much and did damage not only to its characters, but also the audience watching it as well.

What took my mind away from this though was the amazing performances by everybody involved. Sean Penn plays Paul Rivers, playing the quiet and sophisticated type that we don’t usually see him play, but he does a great job here and is amazing at showing vulnerability with any of his characters no matter who they may be. Benicio Del Toro is amazing as Jack Jordan, the one dude who has an inner fight with God. With any other actor, this conviction from this sort of character would have been too hoky and too annoying but Del Toro makes it seem believable and shows what it’s like for the other person who causes the pain to someone else. Del Toro lets it all out with this performance and even when he seems like he’s going to do something terribly wrong and evil, you start to think otherwise once you realize that his character is actually a good guy after all.

Probably the one performance that shines throughout this whole flick is Naomi Watts as Cristina Peck. This performance is nothing short of amazing because Watts is able to show us a character that is practically falling apart right in front of our eyes, and it seems real and believable. Watts is asked to do a lot with her character here such as go through all of these different emotions over the course of 2 hours and it shows her exceptional range and vulnerability as an actress. Watts really tears out her soul for this whole flick but you can’t help but to feel something for her considering her whole life is practically turned to shit and it’s just great to see an actress in top-form like never before.

Consensus: 21 Grams features powerful performances, a dirty and grainy look, and a story that conveys plenty of emotions but the structure is also a problem for this flick because it not only takes away from the character arch of these people but also just feels pointless and put in here for no other reason other than to spice things up.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Ring (2002)

This is the main reason why they stopped making VHS tapes.

A strange videotape makes it way around a circle of friends. Strangely, everyone who views the tape seems to die exactly one week afterward. After believing this to be a strange urban legend worthy of an article, cynical reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) watches the tape and shortly thereafter unsettling occurrences begin to happen to her. Is she slated to be the next victim of some kind of bizarre and seemingly supernatural force?

After seeing almost all of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ flicks, it’s very strange to see director Gore Verbinski doing a horror film that originated from Japanese. I also have to say that seeing this film for about the 7th time, it still remains quite freaky.

What works here so well is when it comes to the horror that this film has to deliver, it doesn’t feel cheap or something we’ve seen before. Verbinski is all about creating suspense rather than just throwing things right at you with the constant jump-scares just about horror flick has nowadays. You don’t know what’s going to happen next at most points and right when you think something is about to happen, Verbinski pulls the rug underneath you completely and every single time he does it, its something that works.

Another cool element about this flick is that it’s not only a horror flick but a mystery film as well. As the film moves on, we start to find out more about the story that lies behind the type and why all of the crazy shit that happens in it, happens in it and what it exactly means. Speaking about that tape, it’s freaky as hell and probably one of the freakiest things that I have ever really seen in a film in the past decade. If I woke up in the middle of the night and my TV had static on it, I would throw that damn thing out right away.

The problem with the story that is behind the whole video, is that it doesn’t really make much sense. It’s never explained why the mother does what she does to the daughter and why, and another thing I never understood is where the hell that the tapes of the girl in the psych-ward came from, if she was apparently dead. Still, without giving way too much away I just have to say that this film doesn’t hold up when it comes to its plot.

Another problem I had with this flick was that when you watch it for as many times as I have, it starts to lose it’s freshness. I won’t lie and say that barely any of the scares work, because I still got a little bit scared here and there by what I saw but to be honest, I couldn’t really get terrified when I knew everything that was going to happen. Also, why the hell would a mother leave a tape that if it is watched will result in a death sentence, around the house where her young son can watch it? Mommy of the year everybody!

Naomi Watts is fine as the slightly-bitchy but also very determined reporter, Rachel; Martin Henderson is a lot of fun to watch as her ex-boyfriend and investigative partner if you know what I mean, Noah; and let’s not also forget to mention the little cameo by Brian Cox who is always the man in no matter what he does. The one performance that seemed pretty blank was the one given by the kid who plays Aidan, David Dorfman. He seems more like a copy of the usual creepy little kid we see in every horror film and he just seems to be put in the film for that matter. But then again, he is just a kid so I guess I’m kind of a dick for beating this kid up.

Consensus: The Ring has its fair share of plot holes that don’t make sense, but Gore Verbinski creates suspense to the point of where you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and the mystery behind the whole story is pretty interesting as well. Don’t go see the sequel though. It blows.

6.5/10=Rental!!

We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004)

How oblivious can people be?!?!

Two married couples (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern, Peter Krause and Naomi Watts) who have been close friends for years find that dynamic irrevocably changed when two of them (Ruffalo and Watts) have an affair. Things get even more complicated when their spouses find out and have an affair of their own.

Director John Curran, who directed Stone, seems like he does the same thing with both films. He has great stars in their roles, interesting enough premise, and shows early promise, but then he soon loses it all. Here, he doesn’t quite lose everything but still too much than I expected.

Right from the get-go you know this film is just going to be confrontational, tense, and a tad awkward by how these two married couples inter-act with each other, and to be honest, it gets almost worse in a way. There are times when the arguments here seem so realistic and honest that it’s at a point where I wondered if the writing team behind this all just cheated on their wives at one point and had these actual conversations.

The film also does a good job at not taking sides. We get to see everybody’s view-point on all this “screwing around” and each one seems pretty reasonable. It was also a very detailed look into how each spouse treats each other differently, which can be both good and bad, but usually the later. It was kind of sad to see these people actually not care about these infidelities until it’s almost too late and the damage has already just about been done. It’s sad to see this but at the same time, very good to see because it’s believable and a film like this, definitely needed that.

However, Curran starts to get a little too carried away here and this is where I think the film falls apart. He has these random little moments of silence and odd imagery that is supposed to create some sort of background into these people’s lives and show the impact of this infidelity it has on these couples. To me, this seemed really annoying because I didn’t know what Curran was trying to get across and I wish they actually focused more on the scenes of these people having realistic arguments, which may seem a little odd for me to say but it would have worked if they had more.

There were also moments here where the film I think had times where it just dragged on and on with nothing really exciting happening. The film just feels like it moves along a steady pace with nothing really happening other than these couples being awkward with each other, and not really saying anything else other than how they don’t want to get caught or anything of that cheating nature. I also realized that there is barely any humor whatsoever in this film, and some people say you have to look closer for it. However, I looked as hard as I could, I found nothing humorous here.

The cast is the real benefit of this whole film and I have to say they did a splendid job of casting as well. Mark Ruffalo is great as Jack because the whole film he just carries this look of sadness, anger, and confusion through the look of his eyes the whole movie and gives us a lot of depth for his character. Laura Dern is also great in this role as Jack’s wife, Terry, because I never knew exactly what she was going to do next and I think that is always something you need when you’re playing the always upset wife of a dude who’s sleeping around; Naomi Watts is also good as Edith because the whole time she seems very remorseful about her actions, but just can’t stop and shows a huge deal of sadness to her character as well; and the weak link in this cast is actually Peter Krause as Hank but not because it’s badly-acted, it’s just because Hank is such a one note character the whole time and never shows any real emotions other than just being cool I guess.

Consensus: The script shows brutal honesty, powerful characters, and some sad moments of a broken-marriage, but We Don’t Live Here Anymore suffers from moments that just seem too far-fetched and others that don’t entertain as much as they do just depress the viewer.

6/10=Rental!!

J. Edgar (2011)

Even wearing his mom’s clothes, Leo is still the man.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this riveting biopic as J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime FBI director as notorious for his overzealous methods of law enforcement as for the rumors regarding his cross-dressing and close relationship with protégé Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).

J. Edgar Hoover is a dude I know about and it’s cool to finally see someone bring all of his crazy myths and legends up on film. The problem is that I wish it was as good of a film as I was imagining.

Director Clint Eastwood knows how to direct an emotional and compelling story, and he brings that to this film here with a great deal of moments where it shows J. Edgar not as a genius, but more of in an negative light, which is something you barely ever see in biopics. He’s a very sad dude that has terrible problems of paranoia, controlling everything, and trying to get all of the attention for himself. It’s hard to imagine a film that would basically talk ish on its subject but to be honest, this guy was a nut-case if a smart one at that.

Another element to this film that everybody was buzzing about before it came out was how apparently they would be talking about J. Edgar’s sexuality. The film does not exploit this by any means and I think handles it very delicately because it has a lot of the subtle touches that the film is trying to show and probably the best and more emotional scenes of this film actually have something to do with that gay-love angle. It’s finally great to see a big Hollywood film with a lot of talent in it, so able to actually show homosexuality without hating or making fun of it.

The problem with this film is that even though there are moments where this film clicks, other times it just plain and simply misses. One of the problems with the film is that it’s story is told through a very-old Hoover talking to numerous ghost writers, telling his side of the story to almost everything in his life, and this isn’t the most original idea but it’s not such a bad one either. However, sometimes they would go back-and-forth between the past and present time, which not only became annoying but also a major take-away from the film considering that the story jumps around so much, we can never fully get ourselves into one without going to the other one. I think if they told this film from Hoover being young and then watching him as time progresses, then the story would have been a lot better.

Another major problem is that I feel writer Dustin Lance Black emphasized so well on the whole homosexual-angle that when it came to telling the story of Hoover, he kind of lost his way by trying to go for too much without any connection. The film almost feels like a “Best of J. Edgar Hoover” series where we see all of the famous cases that he was apart of, all the controversies, and all the rumors, but we never actually know how the film wants us to feel about all of this and just exactly what this film is trying to say. I felt a little bit dragged on especially by how slow the story was and I think that it gets very jumbled with the actual story of Hoover, except for his fancy of women’s clothing.

My last problem with this film is the fact that it is about 2 hours and 17 minutes long which in some cases, isn’t so bad, but here I felt like I was dying a slow-and-somewhat painful death. The film has about 5 endings and I couldn’t help but look at my cell-phone every 30 seconds to check what time it is and to see when this film was actually going to end. I wouldn’t have had such a problem with the time-limit if the film didn’t lag along at a snail’s-pace and over-stayed its welcome by at least 20 minutes.

It’s a real shame though that this film couldn’t have done any better with critics, because it really could have done Leonardo DiCaprio‘s amazing performance as the man himself, some justice. At first, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get past the thick-accent and the obvious make-up, but somehow DiCaprio makes this very troubled person, an almost larger-than-life persona who totally sinks into this character and after awhile I stopped seeing him as Jack Dawson and more of Hoover. He won’t win, but I’d like to see him at least get an Oscar nomination for this.

Armie Hammer is also exceptionally well as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s right-hand man. Hammer has a great look to him where he always seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody he is with and throughout the whole film he uses that to his advantage. The scenes these two share together are great and you can really feel the chemistry and almost sexual tension between them both build-up as the film goes on. Their scenes together were the best mostly because they were believable, and handled in such a way that it didn’t seem shoehorned but more of natural when you have two guys who are with each other all the time, with some very dark secrets.

Oh, I lied, I had one more problem with this film as well. The make-up looks exceptionally well on Leo because he really seems like how old-man Hoover would look like, but Hammer is a different story. The guy’s make-up design looks more like a burn victim mixed with Eric Stoltz from ‘Mask’. It’s very weird to see and Hammer’s performance as older Tolson isn’t any better considering he does these random twitches and jitters that apparently every old man that Armie Hammer has ever seen does.

Consensus: The film has its fair share of flaws: it’s story goes from one place to another, it’s too long, and the make-up is exceptionally bad. However, J. Edgar features great performances from the cast, especially a compelling DiCaprio, as well as a certain love angle that feels right with this material and makes this seem more emotionally connected, when other times it seemed distant.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Dream House (2011)

A guy who doesn’t know who he is. Original.

Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, a successful businessman who forsakes New York City for the rural pleasures of New England, only to discover that the tranquil abode he’s moved into was the scene of an as-yet-unsolved multiple homicide. Drawn reluctantly into the mystery surrounding the tragic events, Will and his wife (Rachel Weisz) soon begin finding plenty of reasons to worry about their own safety.

For the last three months I’ve been going to the movies, the trailer for this has been everywhere and let’s just say that if you have seen it too, you know this film already.

See the problem with the trailer is that it shows everything that we weren’t supposed to know already. It shows us the major “plot-twist”, what’s going to happen, and why so when these moments of strangeness pop-up, we don’t feel confused by it as more as we know why it’s there because of the trailer. Many times the film had a creepy atmosphere and maybe could have actually worked better if it weren’t for this dumb trailer that shows all that happens, and takes almost every sort of momentum this film had going for itself.

Another part of the problem with this film too is that the direction from Jim Sheridan and screenplay from writer David Loucka. The direction from Sheridan (who seems like he needs to pay somebody back with all of the crap he’s done in the past 6 years) doesn’t really bring anything new to this material with a slow-pace that seems like it really wants to go somewhere, but never fully does. Sheridan also seems very lazy with certain explanations of things that are supposed to make sense by the end of the film, but have no logic in what it’s trying to show. Sheridan really doesn’t know what he’s doing here with this film and the whole time, I kind of felt like this could have been directed by anybody and I would have not even cared. But then again, I guess that’s why this guy didn’t even want his name attached to the film in the first place anyway.

The generic screenplay from Loucka just makes everything worse too. The film begins with the usual noises, shadows, and creepy things in the woods, which is only the first hour of the film. Then we go into this totally amateurish last act where we get all of the explanations that made no sense in the first place, flashbacks that were as obvious as Craig’s British accent, and some really laughable effects that seemed like they were just tacked on when the film was in post-production. Loucka doesn’t bring anything new to this material, and it just blows even worse with the “direction” from Sheridan.

There’s only a couple of positives to this film which don’t run very far in the first place. I thought the plot was at least a little bit interesting when it first started off. Although I knew what was going to happen thanks to that son-of-a-bitch trailer, I was still a tad interested with this premise and felt like it could not be as bad as I originally thought it was. However, I was wrong. Another positive to this film was the cast, which was OK to say the least.

Daniel Craig is likable and very believable as Will Atenton, and brings a lot of charm to the more predictable and silly lines that this film has its characters spout out; Rachel Weisz is good in this role because she’s both fragile and beautiful, which works in her advantage; and Naomi Watts doesn’t really have any reason to be here, other than the fact that she’s the chick who lives across the street.

I don’t really think that this is a terrible film, and not the worst of 2011 already (trust me, I still need to see Bucky Larson and Jack & Jill). The problem is that as time goes on, trailers for more and more movies start to give major plot points and twists away without really caring about the people who want to be surprised when they see it. This is a biggest problem here because I feel like I would have been a bit interested by all of the mystery that surrounded this film, but I didn’t care because I knew what was going to happen thanks to the marketing. Bastards.

Consensus: Dream House has a good premise, but is just terribly slow, predictable, and featured a trailer that gave away all of the major plot twists that took any type of mystery or suspense away from the film and makes director Jim Sheridan, look more and more like a slacker as his films keep coming out.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

A film that is basically about God knows what.

Writer-director David Lynch weaves another mysteriously complex tale in this story about an amnesiac woman (Laura Herring) who’s left stranded on Mulholland Drive and gets taken in by a young newcomer (Naomi Watts) who’s moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams. The two women gradually start to put the pieces of a troubling puzzle together, but the puzzle unravels a dark, sinister plot — as well as unexpected passions.

For me I think David Lynch is an OK director, if your favorite things are watching random shit happen for some odd reason. I liked Blue Velvet, and his most normal Wild at Heart, but this one even as crazy and nutty as it is, still is great.

The one thing I mostly have to praise is the direction from that crazy boy himself, David Lynch. Although, the whole film is basically up to interpretation, you can still sense a great deal of mature writing and directing when it comes to this job. Lynch, makes his usual wacko, surrealist, psychological films, but this time in the form of a Hollywood noir, and somehow, its works.Despite, being all confused entirely by the end of the film, I still somehow enjoyed it mostly cause of the fact that Lynch does create these great details and themes about imagination, and stardom, while plotting them in this helpless place of despair, combined with great elements of total suspense.

But yet, I also kind of have to fight against Lynch for this film. Lynch, does toy with us, the viewer, a lot during this film. Right when we think we have the story’s plain and simple plot in our minds, and understand it all, Lynch pulls the carpet right from underneath us all, and we are just being plucked away, one after another. In ways, I have to give Lynch the credit for at least, testing this idea out, but yet it kind of pissed me off, that the whole film was pretty much up to interpretation, meaning what’s the point of the film in the first place.

The visuals in this film will blow you away, because you got all these crazy colors flyin at you sometimes and you feel as if your trippin’ mad balls, when you realize your inside of the Lynch maze. There is also some natural beauty to this film, cause it showers the darker side of Hollywood, and some scenes are nightmarish material.

I loved how Naomi Watts, was basically, in other words, amazing. Her character goes in a total transformation, from this happy go-lucky chick in the beginning, to this evil, dark, bitchy character by the end of the film, but oh, wait I gave too much away, I’m done. Laura Elena Harring, is very good too, because she fits that look and feel of an old 1950s actress, and all she has to do is stand there and look pretty, cause she does that very well. I found her story to be the best thing about this film, because through this we sympathize with her character and the problem with her life.

There is also a nice side performance from Justin Theroux as the very arrogant director, who doesn’t take no for answer when it comes to his film, and its pretty obvious what the message is behind that character. Oh yeah, and Billy Ray Cyrus is in here too. Nothing like a good ole’ cameo from Achy Breaky Heart boy.

Consensus: It doesn’t do much to make sense, but Mulholland Dr. is one of those wacko films from David Lynch, that just is so strange, incoherent, and crazy, but yet so imaginative, well-acted, and intelligently structured, that it works.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Funny Games (2008)

One of the most polarizing films that I have ever seen, that doesn’t show anything.

Anna (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) are enjoying a vacation with their son when two sadistic young men (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) break into their cabin and hold the family hostage. The psychotic duo plays twisted games with their prisoners, forcing them to comply to stay alive.

This film is a remake from the same director Michael Haneke, who made the first one. With this remake he has changed the language to English, and all American actors, but its the same shot-for-shot film.

The fact that the film is the way it is makes it really creepy and suspenseful. you never really at all see the mutilation and action instead sometimes you just hear it, or walk in upon the aftermath of it. The film is directed so finely because it takes a lot for a viewer to get into this film. There are long takes, and camera angles that will actually piss the viewer off, and a slow-pace that only adds more and more to the suspense.

Many times in this film I was just on the edge of my seat, because how these nut jobs torture this family psychologically, and physically makes you hope for this family to get out alive. There is no score music at all so it basically is telling you what you should think of these scenes. The writing is top-notched because it brings up some interesting themes about how the media uses violence to its advantage. With the use of very minimal shown violence Haneke shows that he knows what he is trying to say. Movies like Saw, adn Hostel show violence like its no big deal, but with this there is none cause for these two it isn’t a big deal.

The film is also highly brilliant in its way of delivering its story. The film is almost a self-parody because there are just plenty of times where the film is telling you what its going to do next, and the thing is that, it works. You think what should happen, is going to happen and it doesn’t cause you don’t know what these kids are doing. Not only are they messing with this famil’ys mind, but also yours. The film breaks the fourth wall on countless occasions and gives you this sense of reality and fiction, and you don’t know what their going to do even though tell you what they are going to do. In case, your all confused this is all good stuff.

The one problem I had with this film was that by the end something happens, and I don’t want to say it to give it away, but I think it was incredibly stupid. It sort of took my mind off the power that this film had within me, but I didn’t destroy my thoughts on the film, I just felt it was stupid.

The acting right here is what sets the bar for this film. Roth and Watts are very believable as the couple in dread, and many times you can just see them boiling up and ready to explode from all of this torture. But the really great performances come from Pitt and Corbet, who are freaking creepy every time their on-screen. Pitt is the creepiest and has the strongest performance cause he actually shows that you can be crazy and relentless, without giving too much energy away in a performance.

Consensus: Funny Games pushes boundaries against the conventional thriller and violence in media, with stunning performances, terrific writing, and so much suspense mixed with the creative direction from Haneke.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

Stay (2005)

I don’t think you could stay in any bit of sanity after watching this.

When a psychologist’s (Ewan McGregor) suicidal client starts making bizarre predictions that, to everyone’s mounting consternation, begin to come true. Now, the shrink must race against the clock to save everything he loves before it disappears forever.

The film has a very intriguing psychological twist which I do enjoy from a lot of films. Vanilla Sky and The Sixth Sense are great films that I love to think about in films, but this one doesn’t do it that right.

To start off with something good if you want to see this film do it for the visuals. They are stunning, and create a mood with the film, as the camera shifts everyone once in awhile as something just doesn’t seem right. The color green in this film is shown throughout the whole movie and is really cool to see the color put in all ways different ways throughout the film.

However, as stunning as the visuals were, I just felt like they were put in for no good reason. I felt as if they were put in at times just to be put in and be over the top and try and have us confused about a story that is already confusing as it is.

The film tries a little too hard to be good, creepy fun, but about half way through the film I found myself so uninterested with this story and these characters that I almost just fell asleep. I think that the story wouldn’t have been too confusing if the film wasn’t giving out a lot of misguided clues that didn’t really fit well with the story.

Director Marc Foster shows his true talents of not knowing how to make an effective script at all. The film’s lines in this film are so cheesy and cliched that I couldn’t help myself to laugh by how dumb these lines were being put in.

Though the screenplay is pretty crappy, Stay actually has some good acting. Ewan McGregor is very effective and shows that he can keep a story together even if he does have cheesy lines, and Naomi Watts, as much as she was barely in does a very acceptable job playing his once suicidal girlfriend. Though, Ryan Gosling I think gives the knockout performance as he is very taunting but very believable that this guy is so good at playing with this guy’s mind that you actually start to like him out of all the characters.

The ending is so worthless. The payoff is so weak that after watching this film I felt that this whole movie of 1 hour and 39 minutes was just a total waste of time and in the end pointless.

Consensus: Though visually dazzling and some credible acting, Stay suffers from a bad screenplay, worthless payoff, and ultimately a film you will lose interest for halfway through.

3/10=SomeOleBullSShittt!!!!

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