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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Nicole Kidman

Cold Mountain (2003)

I thought the South was supposed to be a warm place full of happy, positive thinkers?

Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) and her father (Donald Sutherland) move from their riches, and into a slightly slummy, lower-grade town in North Carolina and fit in very well, especially Ada who has the fortune of being stunningly gorgeous and able to catch the weary-eye of any man. However, one man in particular is the one she only cares about, and his name is Inman (Jude Law). What separates Inman from all the rest of the other slack-jaw, testosterone-fueled scuzzy-buckets around him is that he’s a sweet, soft and gentle man. The two hit it off quite well, but not as much as they would have probably liked to since less than a couple of weeks later, Inman is drafted into the Civil War, however, he doesn’t leave without giving Ada a nice smooch, and letting her know that “he’ll be back for her”. She stays there waiting for him, expecting the war to be over in a couple of weeks, but they eventually turn into years and Ada loses all hope that Inman’s coming back, let alone, alive. But Ida won’t have to fear any longer since Inman escapes the war, and makes his way back to her. Only real problem in his way: Rusty, law-enforcement imprisoning and executing war-refugees.

First of all, I know it’s hard to get past the fact that many, upon many famous non-American actors and actresses are sporting a Southern drawl and all that, but trust me, it’s not all that hard to get by once you just pay attention to the story, the visuals, and pretty much everything else that’s going on around these people when they speak, no matter how fake it may sound. And hell, it isn’t even that bad to be honest, however, there is a price you have to pay when you have Jude Law and Nicole Kidman in the lead roles of a Civil War movie, but the price isn’t that much that late, great director Anthony Minghella obviously couldn’t handle.

"Say whaaaaaaa?"

“Say whaaaaaaa?”

Minghella, as most know, had a fine eye for beauty and detail when it came to the way his movies looked, and this movie was no exception to the fact. You can tell that a lot of this was shot on-location, rather than placing a bunch of over-clothed, over-priced sets and actors in some rural town that nobody had ever heard of, and it works well in the movie’s favor, no matter where its story goes. It makes you feel as if you are right there with this story, just as it’s happening, wherever it may wound-up at. More of that could be said Inman’s story, as he’s the only one who really does any “moving around”, whereas Ada just sort of hangs out on her own, at her own ranch no-less; which also creates a bit of problems for the movie, in terms of pacing.

You see, since both stories that we have here are occurring practically simultaneously, it’s hard for us to not get more involved with one story over the other. As interesting as Ada’s story of her coming into her own and being her own gal may have been on-paper, it comes off as rather cliche and sometimes hokey on-screen, only livened up by deadly, violent acts of violence, that we see more than a few times happen in Inman’s story. Not saying that Ada’s story needed more blood, guts, and shootings to keep up the pace with Inman’s, because when it does come, it hits hard, it just feels like we were missing a part of the pie that would have made that story something we were cheerful to see getting more attention. Now, as for Inman’s story, well, that’s where the movie really works its wonders.

It’s obvious that, despite all of his good-intentions, Minghella cares more Inman’s story than he does with Ada’s, which is fine because his story is filled with so much excitement, drama, adventure, and intrigue, that it’s a wonder why Minghella didn’t just make this all about Inman, and only showed Kidman at the end. Probably wouldn’t have worked as well, but maybe some trimming would have? Anyway, what I liked so much about Inman’s story isn’t that he goes around the world, encounters a new person each and every day, changes their lives just as much as they change his, and all of a sudden, he has a prettier outlook on life than he originally had before; nope, it’s actually the opposite. Inman goes into the war as the soft, sensitive-type that feels like he would much rather be sitting underneath a tree, jotting down a few lines of poetry that flash right into his head, rather than being the type of guy to put a bullet between the eyes of a fellow human. He’s just not functioned that way, however, he’s drafted into the war, which means he obviously has to be complete his duty as a common-day citizen, turning him into something of a savage beast that knows his ways of violence and the limitations he has bestowed upon them, and he doesn’t like it a single bit. Because don’t forget: He’s not a killer, he’s a lover, dammit!

And that’s exactly what makes initial escape and adventure so much more sympathetic and worth watching.

In fact, we somewhat applaud him for having the cojones to actually get up and leave the war when he has the right chance to, because he knows that this war is for shit, he’s seen all the ugliness about it, and he wants nothing more than to go back to his squeeze and be back in beautiful play-place he calls “North Carolina”. It’s a long and hard trip that experiences many pitfalls along the way, but he’s able to go through it all, just by the sheer shred of hope in his mind. Because of this, we want him to succeed and we care about every person he meets, regardless of if he changes their outlook on life or not. He’s just a man, going about his way, trying his damn near hardest to get back to his woman in one piece, and hopefully live the rest of his life in eternal happiness and love. Now tell me: What’s not romantic about that?!?!?

"Thank y'er darlin' fer dis tasty bevereeeerge. Southern enough?"

“Thank y’er darlin’ fer dis tasty bevereeeerge. Southern enough?”

Well, one thing that isn’t so romantic about their relationship is that the two don’t really feature much of a chemistry together. But I don’t know if that’s a hit against them, as much as it is against Minghella, considering they spend about 15 minutes of screen-time together, and are suddenly separated. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman do great work when it’s their own, respective stories where they just have to tell their story for the way it is, but you can just tell that there isn’t much glue holding them together as a couple that makes it worth fighting and daring to die for. Law gives Inman a quiet, but powerful presence that’s easy to root for, whereas Ada’s more or less going through the conventional, riches-to-rags-to-riches story that we see most movies churn out like butter. That said, both are good, despite not being able to generate any fireworks when it comes to their “love”.

However, the smart decision Minghella made with this movie was not to just have pretty, beautiful, and talented faces in the leads, but to also have them in every other character ever seen in this movie. This is one of the largest ensembles I have ever seen for a movie, but that isn’t used just to distract you from some of the story’s more problematic segues. Everybody’s great with however much screen-time they’re given, no matter how minor or large, but there are a couple of stand-outs that really left an impression on me, long after the movie was over.

Obviously Renée Zellweger was great in this movie (obviously, she won an Oscar) and really gets Ada’s story fun and interesting; Natalie Portman shows up as a widow of a Civil War soldier and shows Inman enough compassion, but also asks that he give her some in return, and then some more; Philip Seymour Hoffman has so much fun as the dirty, raunchy preacher-man that Inman runs into and stays with for most of his trip, and shows you why it’s so great to see this guy anywhere he shows up; and even Ray Winstone is somehow able to get rid of his Cockney accent and give us a nice performance as the sheriff from Inman’s town that is not only a very determined dude when it comes to nabbing these traitors, but doing what he has to do for punishment purposes. He’s a bit of a sick bastard, but Winstone gives him a nice ounce of humanity that makes it easy enough to see the world from his side. But like I said, there’s plenty more famous peeps where that came from, and it’s fun to watch, while also intriguing because everybody’s great.

Consensus: One story may be more interesting than the other in Cold Mountain, but nonetheless, they both come together to make a heart-breaking, upsetting, but also, very compelling tale of what it means to adventure for what you want, by any means possible. Corny? Yes, but it’s handled much better than I may make it sound.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Guess Jane eventually got her gun.

Guess Jane eventually got her gun. #FilmReferenceKindofSortof

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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The Railway Man (2014)

He’s been working on the railroad, all the goddamn day.

Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) meets Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a train and the two automatically strike-up a conversation, therefore creating a connection as well. And rightfully so, because they seem to have a lot in common – despite his love of trains, they are both soft-spoken, reserved, and shy, but expect to be happy with that one other, special person, that is if that person ever comes around. They think they’ve both found that special person in one another, so they automatically decide it’s time to get hitched and start their lives together. Which is all fine and dandy at first, but once Eric begins to have panic-attacks and freak the ‘eff out over something he’s imagining in his head, then it all gets a bit sketchy. Still, Patti loves Eric enough to stick with him and figure out just what’s up with him. Through his buddy Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), she finds out that Eric was once a young, dashing soldier in the British military during WWII when Japan made them surrender and took them into their prisoner-of-war camps. In this camp, Eric experienced all sorts of hell and torture that he doesn’t wish to talk about, but may get the chance to confront them head on when he hears that one of his captors (Hiroyuki Sanada ) is still alive and at the spot where he was treated like dung all those years back.

My problem with this movie right off the bat began when I realized that everything was going and moving a bit too fast for me, as well as for itself. See, we hardly get any introduction into Eric Lomax, other than he’s a smart, rather nerdy-chap that sort of, kind of, maybe, has a way with the ladies, as long as the ladies enjoy his constant blabbering about trains and railways. Nor do we get much of anything to Patti, despite her being played by Nicole Kidman and more than deserving of some development before we are thrown right into things. But nope, we see them get placed on the same train together, somewhat hit it off, and then, all of a sudden, they’re happy, frolicking on beaches, kissing, making-love and married – all in the span of a five-minute montage.

Love at first train flight.

Love at first train flight.

That felt a little too quick to me, but then, it gets a bit worse. See, once we are introduced to Eric in the present-day and his life he has with Patti, then things switch around to the days of when he was in the army; more specifically, the event in which his whole squad practically got captured and taken in as hostages. This, I kid you not, occurs quicker than Eric and Patti getting married, and made me feel as if I maybe started a bit too late and missed a reel or two. Because surely, no movie would just toss us into a whole bunch of action we don’t really have any reason for seeing in the first place, right?

Well, nope. In the case of the Railway Man, the first half-hour is very hard to get through. Not because it is slow or taking its good old time (which it does in many cases throughout the whole film), but because we never get any understanding of any of these characters. We just notice that they’re sort of sad, distraught and trying to make best with what they can. That’s a trait all humans have, but what else did they have?!? Not much else really, and that’s why I was wondering if I was going to give a single hoot about this trip Eric was going to take, why it mattered and just exactly what kind of person he was before he got married and started having crazy hallucinations.

Thankfully though, I got that, and then some.

I guess I should go into the idea of how most of this story is fact, but that shouldn’t get in the way with how you view it. In fact, I’m not even going to place a link to the actual details of the true story, because I don’t think it needs to be read beforehand. Because what works so well with this movie is the fact in how it continues to build its story through flashbacks and the present-time it presents, yet, never feels like a gimmick. In fact, it’s one of the very few movies I’ve seen in quite some time, where the flashbacks didn’t get in the way of what was really going on and mattered; they served the story, and all of the emotional-notes it was supposed to hit.

Sure, it’s a story of forgiveness and it is no doubt that most of this story may have been a bit fabricated to get away from the really, REALLY brutal and grim details of what went on in those camps, but the movie never seems like it’s pulling away many punches either. It focuses on this Eric guy, what he went through in the war, and how it has made him the person he was back when he was alive. It’s actually very sad to watch, considering we know that there are plenty of others just like Eric out there, right now, that we can’t really seem to do much for except just pat on the back, hug, talk to and let know that everything is going to be alright, even if they’re going to be stuck with those nightmares for the rest of their natural-born lives.

It’s a sad reality, but it’s one that will never stop to be true. Regardless of what you’re feelings of the war may be.

Not the sort of dreams I have, but hey, that's just me we're talking about here!

Not the sort of dreams I have, but hey, that’s just me we’re talking about here!

And as usual, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman are both great with what they do here as Eric and Patti Lomax. Moreso of Firth because he has plenty of screen-time to himself, although I feel like his character went through so many characteristic-changes over the course of a whole, three-to-four-hour conversation that he was suffering from something more than just PTSD, and more like being bipolar, but maybe that was how he was in real life. I didn’t know and honestly, I didn’t care too much about it because Firth is so good here and it made me happy to see him getting another meaty role that’s worthy of his talents.

Kidman, however, doesn’t really have much to do except look upset, smile occasionally, and be on the verge of tears just about everytime Eric is acting up. It’s nice to see Kidman and Firth get a chance to work together, but it’s a bit of a shame that this has to be the movie, where they don’t spend too much time together that doesn’t consist of them shutting the other one out, or not talking at all. Sometimes, it’s a bit frustrating because you know there could be so much more emotional fireworks had there been maybe one or two more scenes of them just talking, but I guess those parts of the script just got written out.

However, as good as Kidman and Firth are, the one who really steals the show is Jeremy Irvine, who plays the younger-version of Firth’s Eric. The only time I’ve seen Irvine in something else was War Horse, and while I may not see all that much range within his acting-prowess from those two movies, I can still see that this guy has plenty of promise. For starters, it looks like he really got into this role as a brutalized, tortured soldier that is in a whole other game than he expected to be and it makes us all feel sympathy for him. Especially when he’s getting water-boarded and yet, still decides to stick with his story. Don’t know about you, but that takes some damn courage.

Not saying that it’s ever happened to me, but man, does that just look terrible or what!

Consensus: Takes awhile to get adjusted to, but once the Railway Man gets the wheels turning, the story hits the emotional notes it’s supposed to, which is mostly thanks to both Jeremy Irvine and Colin Firth’s great performances.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Thomas the Tank Engine my rump!"

“Thomas the Tank Engine my rump!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider, ComingSoon.net

Dogville (2003)

Always keep a lookout on those small villages.

One night in the sleepy, quiet town of Dogville, Tom (Paul Bettany), the self-appointed town spokesman, hears a gun-shot, followed by a woman arriving in his town a couple seconds later. Her name is Grace (Nicole Kidman) and she’s on the run from her mobster daddy (James Caan). Whatever the reason may be, Tom does not worry about and hides her just in the nick of time. Now that Grace is hiding out in this small town, she’s going to have to hold her own in order to stay away from the authorities, as well as not piss off any of the town-folks themselves. Grace tries to do whatever she can and at first, everything seems pitch perfect for her to be there. But once Grace starts messing up a bit and the authorities continue to breath more and more down the town’s neck, well, then the peeps themselves start to get a little wacky and wild with Grace’s presence being known and felt, and it’s Grace who ends up on the bad end of things.

The whole gimmick behind this whole film is that it all, with the exception of maybe one scene, takes place in this small town. However, the small town of Dogville isn’t what you’d expect it to be or look like. In a way to make the flick look like a stage play on screen, or to also cut down on production-costs, writer/director Lars von Trier designs the set where you can see everything, without any walls, doors, or blockades separating us from these characters and denying us the access of seeing all that they do. On top of that, the flick is also filmed with a digital-camera, which made it seem more like I could have filmed the same thing with me and my buddies. So yeah, it’s a bit hard to get used to for about the first ten or so minutes, but mind you, this is a near-three-hour flick, so take into consideration that for at least ten minutes, you may be a tad bit uncomfortable with what’s going on.

A window?!??!? First rule of von Trier-ism broken already!?!??

A window?!??!? First rule of von Trier-ism broken already!?!??

Then again though, this is a Lars von Trier film, so for those whole near-three hours, you might be uncomfortable the whole way through. And trust me, you shouldn’t be ashamed to feel so because it’s what the dude excels in the most, but here, something feels different about it all. First of all, I loved how von Trier set this story up in a way to make us feel as if we are right there in the middle of this town, right from when Grace pops herself in, to the end where the town has been practically turned inside out. It works because as the hysteria and panic within this community begins to swell-up and lose all of control, we feel the same emotions as well and it becomes a hard film to get through on many levels. One of those levels being that von Trier never strays away from showing us some dirty, messed-up stuff that he’s been planning in his head for quite some time. But like I said, something feels different about it all this time.

See, rather than feeling exploitative and provocative, just for the sake of being so, there’s a point to von Trier’s madness: To convey fear. The movie jingles on that idea every once and awhile, until the final ten minutes rolls up and takes it to the extreme, but it works because it’s so very true. Coming from a human being as well, it’s very hard to admit because this flick is inexplicably making fun of how humans react to a little bit of change, in a way that makes them go mad or insane. We, as a society, all feel the need to continue to go on with our days, the same way as if they were the way before. However, once a little diversity in that day comes around to shake things up a bit, then we lose our grips of what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

I would totally like to go into a little more detail and explore why I have came to this conclusion that I have, but only going on further would spoil the movie and have you expect the unexpected, which is not what this flick is all about and surprisingly, may take the fun out of it all. I can’t say that the flick is “fun” per se, but it’s a challenging piece of work that asks you to reflect on your own minds, your own ways and your own style of living, but also asks that you take note of the next time you feel fear. How do you respond to it? Do you act irrationally? Do you keep your place in check and not lose sight of what’s really meant to be fearful of? Or, do you do nothing? The flick goes more and more in-depth with this idea than it should, but I have to say that for once, watching a von Trier movie and seeing all of the ugly stuff that he pulls out of his rump and having it all make sense and cohesive to what he’s trying to get across, I was satisfied. I was emotionally torn-up, but I was also satisfied with what von Trier brought to the forefront, to make us take a look at. It may not be something we want to even acknowledge is present in our lives, but it’s always there. Von Trier knows this; I know this; hell, everybody knows this!

You can’t escape it, because fear will always be there. No matter what.

There’s probably more themes to shake a stick at here, but this is neither the time, nor the place for me to do so. Maybe when I’m in my superficial, artsy-fartsy film class next semester, but as for right now: I have a movie to review, and performances to praise. Main one being the one from Nicole Kidman as Grace, a name that sticks so perfectly with her act and the final conclusion this flick comes to meet. Kidman’s always been a knock-out actress, there’s no questioning it. She’s always been able to take a role, however crazy or simple it may be, do whatever she wants with it, and always give us a performance that knocks all of her other ones out of the park. However, I wouldn’t have been surprised if people were a little skeptical about whether or not Kidman would be able to handle von Trier’s style or treatment of his characters, especially the female one.

"And so kids, that's what the ending to Antichrist means. Or so I think."

“And so kids, that’s what the ending to Antichrist means. Or so I think.”

However, all those skeptics can kiss Kidman’s firm-behind because she does an amazing job as Grace, giving us a performance that’s more physical than emotional. And no, that’s not me being a dirty boy. Kidman has those expressive, beautiful eyes that are able to convey any sort of emotion – whether it be sadness, forgiveness, regret, vulnerability, love, or happiness, give her an emotion to express, and she’ll do it ten times better than you’d ever expect her to do. She’s just an amazing actress, and despite her character being a bit too repetitive and weak-minded, Kidman pulls through and gives us a three-dimensional character that we care about, not just because of all this bad stuff happening to her, but because she’s the only one with a bright head on her shoulders.

Everybody else here seems to be a bit too crazy for their own good, with the exception of Paul Bettany as Thomas Edison, the philosopher and free-mind thinker of the small community that takes a liking to Grace right off the bat. Bettany’s always been a quality actor and even though I feel like his Southern-accent was a little suspect, the guy still gives us a good character that seems like he has all of the right intentions one person could want or need; he just doesn’t know what to do with them or how to show them in a way that could be suitable for both Grace and the rest of the community. Sometimes, both aspects don’t ever seem to come together, but you have hope that he’ll do the right thing no matter what, even if he does get a pushed-up against a wall many more times than one.

The rest of the heavy-stacked cast is very good too, even if nobody shines brighter than the other. They all do wonderful jobs, but it’s Kidman’s and von Trier’s show for the taking, and they won’t let you forget about it, either. Not even when the credits show up, which are some of the darkest, but hilarious credits I have ever seen scrolling in my life. Seriously, try to watch them without cracking at least a chuckle or two by the irony. The end.

Consensus: As with most of von Trier’s movies, Dogville is most likely going to be a hard pill to swallow for some, but once you get by all of the dark sexuality and titillation of the material, you’ll find yourself surprisingly compelled and interested in what von Trier has to say, whenever he gets to that breaking-point.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No wonder why everybody's so cranky and mean: No toilets!!

No wonder why everybody’s so cranky and mean! There’s no toilets!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

Waiting nine years for a sequel to Anchorman?!?! Kind of a big deal!!

After he and his fellow wife/news anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) run into a rough patch that causes a separation between the two, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is left with nothing to gain, nor anything to lose. He’s practically hanging himself, just as an ambitious businessman (Dylan Baker) comes to him with a proposal: Get the old gang back together, and help him start up a 24/7 news-station. At first, the idea seems quite preposterous, but seeing as how Ron is out of a job and needs to gain some confidence back into his ego and his wonderful ‘stache, he decides to get out there, and ramble up Champ (David Koechner), Brian (Paul Rudd) and of course, sweet Brick (Steve Carell). Together, the four decide that they’re going to take the news world by storm, however, they have just one, big problemo: They’re on at 2-5 a.m. Yeah, not exactly the ideal position for these seasoned-pros, but they get on with it and realize that telling the news is exactly what they loved doing in the first place, even if not everything they discuss is in fact “news”.

As you all most likely saw and scratched your heads about, I did and still do to this day, love the hell out of Anchorman. It’s dumb, random, nonsensical and completely, utterly idiotic in terms of where it goes, why and how its plot is structured. However, that’s why I love it and laugh my ass off at it each and every time I catch it. Doesn’t matter where or when, all that matters is that when I see it, I laugh my heinie off and have as great of a time during that moment, then I did when I first witnessed it all of those years ago.

Yerp, it's the 80's alright.

Yerp, it’s the 80’s alright.

However though, as much as I looked forward to the idea of a sequel to my beloved comedy-classic, something didn’t sit too well with me after all of this time. First of all, it’s literally been nine years since the first flick came out, which means that this is a sequel happening nine years later. I’m sure that the original will stand the test of time and the memory of it will continue to transcend from decade-to-decade (I sound crazy, I know), but that just feels odd that it would take THAT long for a big-budget, mainstream sequel to come out, especially since everybody involved with the first movie, are even bigger stars than they were before (with the exception of Koechner, sorry Champ). So why the long wait, guys? Better yet, was it even worth it?

The answer to that last question is sort of, and the answer to the first is “I don’t know”. Why? Because I’m not in the business of Hollywood so I don’t know why it took so long to get this sequel off the grounds, but that’s another discussion for another day, another topic and quite frankly, a whole ‘nother blog out there.

Like I was saying though, most sequels to successful comedies fail at many things, the main one being that it tries to do exactly what the first one did, with all the same jokes, gags and insider pieces of info that got the fans so on-board in the first place, but that’s surprisingly not what happens here. Yeah, there are a couple of times when Ron utters his famous line “stay classy”, or familiar faces from the first one show up to let us know that they’re still getting a pay-cut from all this, but it’s never like “Hey, Whore Island? Ammiright!?!?” Instead, the whole movie just focuses on letting these guy do what they did best in the first movie, as well as subsequent offerings they’ve completed since then: Just be funny, have a ball and give us something to laugh at.

In that case, the movie’s pretty damn funny. Random stuff happens, is said and even alluded to, and you don’t know why it’s happening or where it even came from, but you expected that already, so you learn to just roll with the punches and see what else these guys can bring out of their funny-repertoire. Not all the punches hit the funny-bone as well as they did in the first, and there definitely are more than a few ad-libbed parts that don’t really go anywhere and felt like they could have been cut and thrown right into the blooper reel section of the DVD release, but taken on as a whole, it was a funny comedy that made me laugh.

Then again though, I’m running into constant problems with this because the first movie is my baby and, as much as it pains me to say, this movie just doesn’t meet those qualities. More than a couple of times, I found myself holding my gut as I was yucking it up, but never to the point of the first movie, nor did it feel like anything that happened here was ever going to be as quotable as, I don’t know, say “I’m in a glass case of emotions”, or even, “Cannonball!”. Nope, instead we get a bunch of ramblings that lead on to some pretty funny, wacky and wild stuff that we expect from everybody involved, yet, never feels like it’s hitting that sheer level of “odd-genius” that the first movie hit. Maybe I’m being unreasonable and maybe I’m being a bit harsh on this movie, but the first one will always have a close place to my heart and if something is going to connect itself to that story, and try and reinvigorate the same magic as that charmer did, then I’m going to be looking a bit harder and closer than ever before. Doesn’t mean I didn’t like the flick, it just doesn’t hold up to the standards of the first one.

But, once again, let’s not split hairs here, people: If you want a good time at the movies, to bust-out laughing and be surprised along the way, then see this flick. It’s nothing special like the first movie but for what it’s worth, it’s a fun time at the movies, guaranteed by yours truly.

And thanks to the returning-cast, the movie’s funnier and more entertaining than ever. Chalk most of that up to, as I stated in my review for the first one, to none other than Mr. Ron Burgundy himself, Will Ferrell. We all know that Will Ferrell is hilarious and will practically throw himself out there on a silver-platter if that means getting at least something of a chuckle, but man, he goes for it here and it pays off big time. There’s one scene that’s been spoiled in the trailers, but is actually quite hilarious when you see it all play out and it’s when he’s at the dinner-table of his “black” girlfriend’s family home. It’s racist for sure, but it will certainly get a hell of a lot of laughs, especially since Ferrell just goes for it and never looks back. He’s the type of comedic-actor all aspiring entertainers should want to be, and he proves that to us time, and time again.

Okay, okay! The only reason I'm giving up his is because it literally occurs in the first two minutes. I kid you not! Check me out on that!

Okay, okay! The only reason I’m giving up his is because it literally occurs in the first two minutes. Just be happy I didn’t include another famous, more talented black rapper who shows up in this movie…..

But when I start talking about the rest of the newsteam, I start to get a little upset. The reason being that although Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and even David Koechner all get their moments to shine and bathe in the spot-light of fun and happiness, some actually feel misused. Koechner’s there, is funny and does his thing, so I hate to say that he doesn’t count, but he truly doesn’t. The two who I’m really talking about here are Carell and Rudd; with the former getting a hell of a lot more attention than he did in the first movie, and especially a lot more over the latter, which is strange considering that they both seem pretty worthy of more than enough screen-time, but nope, apparently Adam McKay saw differently. The thing with more of this focus on Brick, and his love-angle he has with Kristen Wiig’s character, is that the novelty of him saying really ridiculous and out-of-left-field things is lost. Much more now, we just hear him say, or do something completely and utterly crazy, just because it was such a winner in the first movie, so why not up the ante a bit, eh? It didn’t feel right to me and it was an easier pill to swallow because Carell, like Ferrell, goes for the whole slice with this, but it gets over-played at times and seems like the only card the movie can handle.

Also, I feel like I’m of the opinion that any time away from Brian Fantana, is time wasted. Am I right, people? Come on!

And while I’m sure all of you probably no who shows up here, to say the least, each and every familiar face that you see in this movie, is a face worth noting. Can’t get into specifics one bit, but they’re all fun, all exciting to see and a bit shocking, considering there are some pretty serious faces that, oddly enough, actually agreed to show up in the sequel to Anchorman. Maybe it’s cult following isn’t just a bunch of single and lonely dudes? Maybe others out there have noticed the charm of Ron Burgundy and the rest of the news-team and decided they wanted a piece of the pie, too? Or maybe, just maybe, they’re doing Will Ferrell and co. a favor. Yeah, you know what? I think that’s it. Oh well.

Consensus: May not fully bring back the strange, idiotic charm of the first movie, but Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is still a laugh-out-loud comedy from a bunch of people who clearly know what they are doing here, and don’t shy away from breaking their backs for a laugh or two. It just seems desperate after awhile, that’s all.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Still jumping. But this time, pulled-out backs are huge consequences.

Still jumping. But this time, pulled-out backs are huge consequences.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Australia (2008)

Apparently, Steve Irwin’s death wasn’t the worst moment in Australia’s history. Too soon?

Northern Australia during the breakout of WWII was a bit of a mess, but at the center of all the craziness, pain, anger, and agony, there were two people (Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman), who came from two opposite sides, to somehow meet together in the middle and find a love that was greater than any other force in the entire world. She, Lady Sarah Ashley, was a richy-rich, stuck-up lady from England who came overseas to help her husband out with his cattle-business, whereas he, Drover, was just a man who just took the cattle, and helped them across the acres so he got his money and went on his way. In the middle of them both, there is a small, Aboriginal child by the name of Nullah (Brandon Walters).

Baz Luhrmann is sort of like a poor man’s version of Terrence Malick. All skills aside, the guy makes a film every once and awhile, hypes it up forever, and they usually meet all of the hype. Over a career that spans 30 years, the man has only made four movies (five, if you include The Great Gatsby coming out this Friday), and each of them have been pretty good. However, whatever your tastes-buds are, you can’t lie about the fact that the guy loves the material he puts on screen, and always give it his 110% full devotion and time. Hence why his films take awhile to come out. However, maybe the guy went a little too far this time. Just a bit, I’d say.

It’s obvious that before the idea of this movie even came about, Luhrmann watched and studied the old-school MGM movies of the 30’s, 40’s, and early 50’s. Why is it obvious? Well, if you take away the beautiful visuals, the color, the action, the blood, the murder, and some other disturbing images that would have been pretty taboo back in the day, then you have your typical, feel-good epic that would have been made back in the day with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, and probably took the whole world by storm. However, those were simpler and more modest times, nowadays, our more-current viewers don’t really have the steam and time for all of the melodramatic moments that Luhrmann seems to embrace, but not really think through.

The Australian-version of Run Lola Run: Run Tall-ass White Girl Run.

The Australian-version of Run Lola Run: Run Tall-Ass White Girl Run.

For instance, there are plenty of scenes in this movie where everything is so happy-wappy, so joyful with glee, and so damn smiley, that it’s near-laughable. That’s not to say that the actors involved with these moments don’t try their hardest to get past the obvious-corniness of the material, but they can’t help but fall prey either. It’s almost inescapable with corn-ballish material such as this. But then some weird things would start to happen with this movie, and I found myself getting more and more lost out of nowhere.

The idea that this flick tackles two subjects, both gripping in their own ways, at the same time really makes it seem a tad uneven, as well as up-and-down with it’s transition. On one end of the arena, we have the love story between Jackman and Kidman, which is probably the best element of this whole flick. Both are great workers in their own right, but the way they’re characters were playing-off of one another at first, had me worried that it was going to be too light and rompy to be taken seriously. But somehow, they made it work because they legitimately do seem like they have sexual-chemistry that can’t wait to get you all hot, sweaty, and ready for the lovin’ to take ahold. If I was Keith Urban, I’d be a little ready to put the fist-a-cuffs up next time I saw Wolverine. Then again, I’m not Keith Urban. Which altogether means that I’m not a million dollar-selling, country artist that is married to Nicole Kidman. Nope, I’m Dan O’Neill, who blogs and watches movie. Wow. Life sucks.

Anyway, those two whether they are together or not, make this movie work and keep it moving at a pace that draws your attention in, but it didn’t seem to draw Luhrmann’s attention all that much, considering he’s more concerned with the other aspect of the movie it wants to cover: the Aborigines. The Aborigines were a very important part of Australia’s history, which makes total sense as to why Luhrmann would make them a key-focus in this story of times that are changing, and the love story in-between it all, but it doesn’t fit well as it seems to not be Luhrmann’s strong-suit.

The strong-suit that I’m talking about is how the man can’t seem to really get his point across, without being as obvious as an albino, dressed in all white, playing hide-n-go seek. Yeah, that obvious. Scenes where they are merely showing the types of racism the Aborigines would face are somewhat disturbing, but also don’t fit well in the context of this movie when you have a bunch of people palling-around with one another and believing in the spirits from up-above. Obviously Luhrmann does not like the treatment that the Aborigines faced during this period, but he doesn’t show his feelings in a strong-enough way to really impact you and instead; sort of makes you wish that he didn’t try to explore it anymore than he already did. Shame too, because it’s a piece of Australian-history that is one of the most important, and should never be forgotten. However, you can’t help but want to forget about it, especially when it’s getting in the way of the sexy-time between Jackman and Kidman.

Hypothermia rules!!!

Hypothermia rules!!!

Seriously, they were about to make me faint!

But this review would not at all be complete if I didn’t talk about Luhrmann’s inspired-attention to detail, that never ceases to amaze me, no matter how melodramatic the material may be. Every scene in this movie feels as if Luhrmann not only paid close attention to it, but wouldn’t go asleep for days until he nailed exactly what he wanted to see. Sure, some of the scenes seem choppy due to lame-o special-effects and green-screens galore, however, it’s still something to see and marvel at, considering you know the type of film maker Luhrmann is. I disliked the hell out of his rendition of Romeo & Juliet, but the man always gave me something to go googely-eyes at, which made the movie slightly-better. That’s the same exact formula here, except there’s more to this story than just an age-old love story that we’ve heard, countless-upon-countless of times. This is a story that does have a heart, does have a vision, and does have inspiration, it just gets lost somewhere in the muddle of it all. Thankfully, Baz keeps his head above it, and keeps us watching. How the man does it: I will never know.

Consensus: Modest and old-fashioned to a fault, Australia may not be the type of movie you watch time and time again due to the unevenness of the material, and cloying-parts of the story that seem to pokes it’s ugly head out every so often, but is one of those movies you watch to enjoy, marvel at with the flair for visual and colors, and get ready to sweat, especially once you see Jackman and Kidman lock bodies, and prepare to make love. Oh yeah, baby.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Strike a pose. Make it look sexy. Now why can't it be that easy for me?!?!?

“Yup. We know you’re going to whack it to this picture when you get home.”

Margot at the Wedding (2007)

Don’t ever invite the one person that may stop the marriage, to your actual wedding.

A mother named Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her son named Claude (Zane Pais) live together and are constantly angry at the things around them. They go to visit a relative (Jennifer Jason Leigh) over the weekend, for that person’s wedding but the problem is that the soon-to-be husband (Jack Black) of that husband, isn’t exactly Mr. Charming. But in Margot’s eyes: almost no one is.

Writer/director Noah Baumbach doesn’t seem like the right kind of guy for me. His films are filled with characters that are so damn unlikable, that you would much rather shoot them than be in the same family as them, and the dialogue has that natural feel to it, but also gets very weird and quirky for no reason at all. He always seems to base his movies in reality, but a type of reality that is pessimistic, miserable, and downright uneven. Maybe that’s how life is, but for me; it doesn’t seem so. That’s why Baumbach never seems to deliver the goods and this flick is no different.

The biggest problem I hit with this flick was that barely anybody here drew me in, nor did they even have me compelled by what they were going to do next with their lives. Quite frankly, I couldn’t give a shit about them. Sounds harsh but the film is just dedicated to each one of these characters either constantly fighting with one another, acting strange just for the sake of it, saying how they really feel at random and sometimes, unnecessary moments, and getting into arguments where it gets so heated, they’re about to kill each other the next second. I mean I know family can be a bitch at times, but never as bad as they are displayed here. Almost every single scene that goes by, nobody ever seems to enjoy each other’s company and it never changes. Whether or not Baumbach meant for us to share the same misery these characters were feeling, is totally beyond me.

Only sign of happiness throughout this whole hour and a half.

Only sign of happiness throughout this whole hour and a half.

I mean, I get it. Not everybody in the world we live in is going to be as sweet as pumpkin pie but this film takes that a little too far to where it’s just an annoyance. Watching people practically beat the ever, loving shit out of the other in a verbal, and sometimes physical war. What makes it even worse is that this film is one hell of a sloppy piece-of-work because Baumbach never seems to be able to make a cohesive story here, and resorts to just snipping together random, short shots of these characters either reacting with each other, or just standing there looking mad/angry/sad. It’s cool what Baumbach can handle his characters without ever having any real plot to work with, but he doesn’t succeed at that here and I think it’s mainly because he trusted too much in his writing to win everybody over. Qurkiness can only go so far, and it went a bit far for our man, Noah, here.

This was even more of a shame to see in this flick is because of the movie that came before this, The Squid and the Whale. It’s probably my favorite Baumbach flick and shows that the guy can handle quirkiness, but also throw in some real, honest emotions to-spare where we feel for the characters involved, no matter how self-centered or despicable they may be. It seems as if Baumbach tried to do some of that here, but it doesn’t have as much steam as that indie-gem had. The characters from that movie were pretty damn unlikeable, but at least they had some sort of sympathetic side to them, deep-down inside. You had to look far for it, but when you found it all out, it worked wonders for the flick and it seemed like Baumbach tried to do the same thing here, just without any likeable-traits whatsoever. I can’t lie, there were some parts of this film that had me interested and made me laugh, but they were also very few and far my dear. Very few and far.

Yeah, not buying it.

Yeah, not buying it.

Even though the characters and story-line sort of blow, the cast still owns and show exactly why they deserve roles like these, no matter how detestable they can be. Nicole Kidman is great as the confused, bitchy, and often terrible mother that can’t seem to get her head around whatever it is that she wants in life. Kidman has always been a powerhouse in every performance she’s given, but she’s allowed to play a more mean character than we usually see from her and I think she handles it well. Since every scene consists of her bitching everybody-out that’s around her at that time, it’s not very hard to see exactly why a gal like this would own at playing such a evil mother. Yes, she even bitches out her own son. Damn woman!

Jennifer Jason Leigh always has had a knack for coming off as very sunny, bright-eyed, and likable and her role as Pauline really worked for her in that aspect. The fact that she’s so happy with life and her sister is such a huge bitch, really seemed strange to me, but then again, I guess that’s what happens in life. Life can take you down different paths of life, and I guess that’s what this flick was trying to show us with these two sissies that just so happen to be blood-related, but yet have completely, different out-looks on life. Still don’t know how a hot momma like Leigh ended-up with Jack Black, but hey, that’s what movies are made for, right? Speaking of the one and the only, Jack Black, he’s actually very good as Malcolm, Pauline’s soon-to-be-husband and brings a lot of that comedic-timing to this movie (that is so rightfully needed) and also has some nice dramatic touches as well. Malcolm is probably the most realistic and chill character of the whole film, and it’s never fully explained why the hell Margot hated him so much to begin with. He was the only guy in this film that made me want to continue watching and actually give it more of a shot than it deserved. Never thought I’d say this about any movie, but Jack Black was the best part of it. God, now that I think about it: this movie really must have sucked.

Consensus: Noah Baumbach at least deserves some sort of credit for making a story for Margot at the Wedding, solely out of random snippets of character emotions and happenings, but that’s not much when you consider how loathsome and mean these characters can be, without any sense of love or kindness in their hearts.

3 / 10 = Indie Crapola!!

Staring into space, and judging the atmosphere. What a bitch.

Staring into space, and judging the atmosphere. What a bitch.

Stoker (2013)

Family is weird.

India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is a young girl who suspects her mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) is up to some sheisty-dealings after he comes to live with her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) following the death of her father (Dermot Mulroney). But instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the main hype for this movie is surrounding the fact that this is South Korea’s Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), making his American feature-film debut and shows something to all of the other foreign directors that seemed to get thrown into the mix when they have to take crap material in the states. It seems to happen to every foreign-language director who makes a splash elsewhere, but Chan-wook is different. This is his film all the way through, and it’s usually for better, and for worse. Depending on the type of person you really are and what you like. Me, I’m still on the fence.

What makes this movie work is that it does have a very, very mysterious atmosphere and tone about it to where you have no idea what’s going, and exactly who’s behind all of these weird shenanigans that have been going on. From the get-go, it’s pretty obvious that not everything is as it seems to be, but that didn’t matter because it’s more deliberately-used, as Chan-wook allows his flick to build up more steam and tension as it goes along. For me, I always thought I knew where this story was going, how, and what they were going to reveal to me next, but that’s only because I’ve seen a shit-ton of movies. This movie actually surprised me when it was able to take leaps of death that I wasn’t in the least-bit expecting, and I have to give Chan-wook a bunch of credit for that, because it’s something that some of our finest, working-directors in America still don’t have the courage to pull-off just yet. Not saying that he’s better than anybody, just saying that the guy is able to show the brass balls he hides within. Or underneath his pants, physically too. Either way, the guy’s got guts.

"Ladies, I'm ready to fuck. Sort of."

“Ladies, I’m ready to fuck. Sort of.”

Chan-wook also does a great job in keeping this flick so damn interesting, and not just by the story; but by the visuals. Every shot in this movie feels like it could be paused, taken-out, and displayed on a coffee table in some shop or some person’s house, and have everybody who picks it up, staring and gazing at it for day’s on end. Chan-wook not only gives this flick a plethora of beautiful colors to keep your eyes on-screen, but shows us some nice, visual-treats that he takes out of his goodie-bag. Certain scenes loom really cool, other scenes, just look very artsy-fartsy. But regardless of what you may deem them as, you still cannot deny that this flick is always interesting and always intriguing to watch, and if not for the story, then to see what Chan-wook can have our eyes feast on next. Trust me, you’ll see.

But something just didn’t feel all that right with this movie and I think I have my finger on what it was: it’s tone. See, this is one of those flicks where everything is dramatic, everything is eerie, and everything and everybody feel like they’re just being loopy, just for the sake to move the story along. Now, I know this type of story-telling does very, very well in the foreign countries, but in the states, it feels weird. For instance, there’s a bunch of staring and awkward-grinning between a bunch of characters that could be deemed as creepy and horrific in some, other countries because there’s a certain “art-essence” to it, but here, in the states, it just feels over-the-top.

In most cases, I was able to drop this idea from my head and just focus on the story and whether or not it I was interested, but other times it just felt like it tried too hard. Whether or not Chan-wook meant for that to happen, or that’s just his way of filming, is all beyond me. But watching this flick, you’ll almost feel like it’s parody at points, where people are just giving each other looks that the Dramatic Squirrel has been doing for a whole decade. Okay, you’re right. I’m sorry for putting this movie and that celebrity in the same sentence. He really is THAT COOL.

Where this film really counts, is in it’s cast who all do fine-as-hell jobs with all of the weird-shite that they are given. And yes, that does mean a lot for this movie. Mia Wasikowska always shows up in a whole bunch of movies that I actually get the privilege to see, and so far, she’s never done anything to really impress me. Sure, she’s cute and she has the promise to be the next, Amy Adams-type of gal, but so far, I haven’t seen anything from her that really had me calling till the cows came home. She’s always come off as sort of bland and dull, and never seems like she wants to liven-up the material and allows everybody else to do otherwise. Her performance as India marks the change in my perception of this gal. I’m sorry, Mia. You have my respects.

"I spy, with my little eye, a copy of Burton's Alice in Wonderland."

“I spy, with my little eye, a copy of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.”

Wasikowska is awesome as India because she has to do a lot of strange brooding and stares to enhance her character and the type of mood she sends off to the others around her, but that’s something she’s very good at. She feels like a natural at just being weird outcast, but also the look and feel of a gal you do not want to fuck with, especially if she has a sharpened-pencil in her hand. A lot of the scenes where she is just standing there, silent, and not saying much, still compelled me, because I always felt like there was more to this character than she was letting on and what would you know it: I was right! Wasikowska definitely stole the show in this movie for me, and hopefully won’t let me down with whatever she’s got piled-up next.

Matthew Goode is also amazing as her strange-o uncle, Charlie, who has never been mentioned or seen, until now. Goode is good (teehee) at playing-up the whole suave look and easy charm that all of the characters in his movies display so well and it adds another level of weirdness to a character, that we already know we can’t trust. He’s not the type of guy you want on your side, but you start to realize that maybe, just maybe, he isn’t as bad as they make him out to be. Just a bit fucked-up in the head. Whether or not you are able to go along with that aspect with that character is totally up to you, but I like how Chan-wook showed me more to a character that wasn’t just all about being odd, but sexy at the same time. Ladies, get ready to double-bag the panties for this one. You’re gonna need ‘em for Mr. Goode. Aw yeah.

The biggest disappointment of this whole movie is probably watching Nicole Kidman play second-fiddle to not just these characters, but this story as well. Don’t get me wrong, Kidman is good as India’s mom and chews a bit of scenery when she gets the chance to, but there isn’t much else to her and sort of comes of like a total bimbo, in the grander scheme of things. You never get the full feel or essence that she was ever a nice lady beforehand, and you never get it after the movie, so why the hell do we need Kidman in the first-place? I’ll tell ya why: she’s a big name, she’s a good actress, and she may attract some people to see it where names like “Goode” and “Wasikowska” won’t. Sorry, peeps. But it’s the hard-to-honest truth. Same goes to Jacki Weaver. Why the hell was she even here?

Consensus: Certain parts work and others parts don’t, but no matter what, Stoker is at least a fun, interesting, and always-vibrant English-language debut from Park Chan-wook who shows us that he definitely has some of getting used-to with the way we handle business in the states, but still isn’t a person I have to worry about lowering my expectations for any time soon.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Dramatic Squirrel ain't got shit on me."

“Dramatic Squirrel ain’t got shit on me.”

The Others (2001)

Somebody, anybody, just please! Let there be light!

On the secluded isle of Jersey in the final days of World War II, a young woman waits for her beloved husband to return from the front. Grace (Nicole Kidman) has been raising her two young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), alone in a beautiful, cavernous, Victorian mansion, the one place she believes them to be safe. But they are not safe, or at least, not anymore.

I remember being a little tike and seeing all sorts of trailers and ads for this on TV, and being absolutely scared to death by everything I saw, and mainly, I’m talking about that “I am your daughter” scene that had everybody’s interest from day-one. Basically, it was a movie that was bound to scare the shit out of people and that’s why, even as a little guy, I really wanted to see it and possibly wet my Spider-Man undies (I was so cool back then, not much has changed actually). However, after all of these years of searching, looking around, and waiting for the right time to actually sit-down and enjoy this spook-fest for all that it is, I have to say: I’m pretty damn disappointed at the fact that my Spider-Man undies were not soiled at all, not even once. Oh, and I was disappointed that the movie sort of blew.

And these weird-ass housekeepers said, "Let there be light!" I know, I did this joke twice. It's late.

And these weird-ass housekeepers said, “Let there be light!” I know, I did this joke twice. It’s late.

The film definitely starts off very promising and offers you a different-view and look at what we are usually used to seeing with haunted-house flicks. We get a lot of spooky, atmospheric stuff that makes you feel like you have no idea what’s going on, what’s in the other room, and just what the hell is making all of that noise, and that works exceptionally well here, because director Alejandro Amenábar, definitely seems like the type of guy that’s tired of all of these CGI-fueled, horror-trips. He wants to go back to being old-school where what you did not see, was the scariest thing of all and it continued to work for about, I would say, 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, however, things start to go really, really downhill from there.

Even though it’s apparent Amenábar doesn’t want this movie to be like all of the other haunted-house flicks that it so takes inspiration from, it ends-up being that, albeit, a very dull and boring one. We’ve seen and heard it all before: the floors creaking, the doors mysteriously closing, the spooky children, the weird elders, the lurking darkness, the sound of a piano being played with nobody there, and etc. All of these elements were being used as far as House on Haunted Hill and still, about 40 years later, not much has changed as they are still not scary or freaky, no matter how much of a big-budget you may or may not have. There were so many moments in this flick where I felt like I should have been scared, I should have been freaked-out, and I should have been floored to my seat, but really, I was just bored and as it all came-and-went along, I started to just continue to make more-and-more fun of this movie with my buddy. I get that it’s the type of flick that really scares the shit out of people if you don’t know what to expect next, but I did, and so did my bud, and it just became a bore.

And I hate to say it, but what added insult to injury was the non-stop repetitive motion that this flick seemed to go through. It seemed like every time Kidman’s character was pissed about the shades being opened, she would yell at her house keepers, who would then try to help-out the children, who would continuously bicker and banter with one another about “the ghosts” that they see, and then, get into a loud shouting match, that would ultimately start the whole cycle back-up again. Everybody’s always yelling, everybody’s always fighting, and everybody’s always looking spooky or looking spooked, and it just became tiring and annoying to see that this flick had nothing really cool to throw at us. There were a couple of cool moments where I really felt like Amenábar had a sense of style and detail that he wanted to kick our asses with, but somehow, it just ended-up kicking our asses out of the seats we were in, and into the bathroom as we downed 5 Coca-Cola’s in a row, just to stay-awake for the whole thing, and that was a pretty good choice on our parts, because trust me, the ending is something that you want to stay around for.

Hell, it’s the best part of the whole movie and sure to change your left-over thoughts and opinions about the whole movie. I don’t want to go into anymore detail about this twist and the ending, but it’s very smart, very thought-provoking, and very intelligent with how it constructs itself and the whole flick, in and of itself. However, I still just wish that the rest of the flick was like that and at least tried to keep me wondering and guessing, almost as much as this twist did. Trust me, it’s good enough to make me want to give this thang a positive-rating and that is really, really saying something.

If only she had gotten that date to prom.

If only she had gotten that date to prom.

Maybe I’m not giving enough credit to Nicole Kidman cause despite her seeming like she is way-above the material she is given here, she actually brings a lot to the table and makes her character seem more than just an angry, bitch-of-a-mother that can’t seem to keep her kiddies away from the sunlight. Kidman does all that she can with a script that doesn’t really seem to know what to do with her talents, other than have her running-around, yelling, and looking terrified, but you know what? Kidman milks it all for what it is and in-return, made this movie a tad bit more enjoyable and entertaining than I expected after the first 10-minutes of realizing that this chick was not a happy-camper, and sure as hell not one I would want as my mommy. That’s fo damn sho. Although, maybe a girlfriend instead would be nice? Definitely would.

The two that play her kids, Alakina Mann and James Bentley, are fine and aren’t as unbearable to watch as kid actors because they know what to do, how to do it, and still look creepy and innocent at the same time, while doing it. It’s a pretty rare-achievement to see in kiddie-roles, especially the kid actors/actresses themselves. Also, Christopher Eccleston shows up in this flick and as good as that bloke may be in everything else in the world that he has done, he’s pretty lame here and brings nothing to the table other than more agony and boredom for a bunch of stiffs like me and my pal. However, we come very close to seeing Kidman naked in a scene that he’s in, so that at least counts for something, right?

Consensus: An intriguing plot-twist and fine performance from Kidman save The Others from being just another lame, boring, dull, and obvious haunted-house, horror-flick that’s all about what spooks in the night and lurks in the shadow. However, it definitely is, despite trying to hide it with a couple of neat, style-points here and there. Neat, but worthless on lame-o material such as this.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

I think they're Tom's.

Those kids have gotta be Tom’s. If not, Keith’s? Highly doubting that one.

The Paperboy (2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6/10=Rental!!

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

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

Panic Room (2002)

Home Alone 4: The Revenge

This thriller centers on a divorcée (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) who are caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with three burglars (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam) in their New York City brownstone, retreating to the vault-like safety of their aptly named panic room. As the intruders try to breach the room’s security, the embattled duo must stay one step ahead.

Out of all of David Fincher‘s films, this one is considered his weakest (that’s if you’re not including Aliens 3). However, this one isn’t so bad, considering it’s his most Hollywood-friendly film to date.

What Fincher does best here is make this pretty simple plot, and make it something that leaves you on the edge of your seat, the whole time. The dark style that Fincher uses works well for this film because it takes down the idea that your house is a beautiful little place, that no intruders can ever get into, and thinking about somebody breaking into our place is just unsettling to think about.

Fincher takes his dear old and sweet time with this pace which makes all of the suspense a lot more taut, and keeps you guessing even though you have a feeling you know what’s going to happen next. There’s a couple of cool camera-tricks that Fincher uses to fully get us knowing that we are in this one little house, with these people, and basically trapped with no way out. It’s crazy because Fincher really tools with our mind in all the right ways, and makes this film more than just your simple, average hostage-thriller.

The main problem with this film is not in Fincher’s directing as much as it is in the story itself. I liked the whole plot and thought it was simple enough to be thrilling but I did find myself guessing just what was going to happen next, and woolah, it did. The problem here is that three bad guys here just so happen to be a bunch of misfits that are pretty much psychopathic, or inexperienced with the exclusion of one person, who is pretty easy to figure out right away. In a way, I knew who was going to die, and who wasn’t (or in this case, who can’t) and what was going to happen in the end. However, I was still in suspense the whole time really.

From what I heard, Fincher was going to cast Nicole Kidman in the lead role but then she messed up her knee or something so she was put as a cameo here, and I have to say that I’m glad that they chose who they chose. Jodie Foster is really good in this role because she starts off all nerdy, and actually sad, but then turns into this vengeful, stop-at-nothing, crazy ladies who wants nothing but to get out of this situation alive. Foster is very good at driving all these emotions from her character just from her facial expressions, and although she almost rarely smiles in this film, she still is a delight to watch. Kristen Stewart does a good job in a very early role, and will probably stop any Twi-hard fans from having any boners over her after watching this. Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam are all good as the bad dudes, and each contribute great performances for three guys that you wouldn’t expect to actually be written well at all. Pretty small cast, for a relatively small film, but overall good job from the whole cast involved.

Consensus: Panic Room may suffer from it’s script, but David Fincher creates suspenseful tension and makes this simple plot, better than just your average-thriller.

8/10=Matinee!!

Oscar Predictions and Thoughts for 2011

So as everyone among the film community know, it is Oscar time babyyyyy!!! So that means get ready for some of the biggest upsets, wins, and probably tearful moments of the year. It was a great year in the film, and this is what has all come down to it people. The big night, and here are my predictions, I hope I do well.

Best Animated Feature: Will Win: Toy Story 3 Should Win: Toy Story 3 Wild Card: How To Train Your Dragon

Best Documentary Feature: Will Win: Restrepo Should Win: Restrepo Wild Card: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Best Foreign Language Film: Will Win: In a Better World Should Win: Dogtooth Wild Card: Biutiful

Best Documentary Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short: Will Win: Can’t say I care too much

Best Editing: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Black Swan

Best Cinematography: Will Win: True Grit Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Visual Effects: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Alice in Wonderland

Best Sound Editing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Unstoppable

Best Sound Mixing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Social Network

Best Art Direction: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Costume Design: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Alice in Wonderland Wild Card: True Grit

Best Makeup: Will Win: The Wolfman Should Win: The Way Back

Best Original Score: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Inception

Best Original Song: Will Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Should Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Wild Card: I See The Light (Tangled)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: 127 Hours

Best Original Screenplay: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Will Win: Hailee Steinfeld Should Win: Melissa Leo Wild Card: Amy Adams

Best Supporting Actor: Will Win: Christian Bale Should Win: Christian Bale Wild Card: Geoffrey Rush

Best Actor: Will Win: Colin Firth Should Win: Jesse Eisenberg Wild Card: James Franco

Best Actress: Will Win: Natalie Portman Should Win: Natalie Portman Wild Card: Annette Bening

Best Director: Will Win: David Fincher Should Win: David Fincher Wild Card: Tom Hooper

Best Picture: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Toy Story 3

I must say that this is a pretty solid year for the Oscar’s this year. All the nominees look just about right the only problem is how will the picks turn out? This year, everything seems like it’s coming down to Old School (The King’s Speech) vs. New School (The Social Network). The past couple of years The Academy (I hate that word) has been looking more towards hip, new films to win it’s Oscar Best Picture. Films such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, and American Beauty have all been unconventional new films that have seen their taste of Best Picture gold. But there has also been countless period piece wins for films such as Gladiator, Shakespeare In Love, and The English Patient. Also, many other major award shows have already presented the Best Picture win to The King’s Speech which is really chasing up people’s noses, as many other award shows have been choosing The Social Network as theirs. In my opinion, I liked Inception more than both of them, and yeah it’s nominated, but in all honesty it has no chance of winning. When it comes down to it I think that The Social Network should win, because it is an age-defining film, that went from being known as “The Facebook Movie” to being known as the top contender for every Oscar it’s nominated for. I hope that The Academy goes for the new school, because if they had The King’s Speech win, everyone would feel robbed really.

As for Best Actor, I think that Firth deserves to win for all his years dedicate to films, but Eisenberg fully deserves it. I think what the Academy is doing more and more now, is honoring actors & actresses not for just a certain performance they had, but their careers and saying that it’s their time. I don’t mind seeing stars like Jeff Bridges, Kate Winslet, or Colin Firth win an Oscar, because of the career they have but I’d rather see the “best performance of the year award” go to the BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.

When it comes to the Best Actress category, it seems like Natalie Portman is the sole winner for here, as she has won almost every single Best Actress nomination at every award show. However, there is once again that little idea that it’s Annette Bening’s “time” to win, as she has been nominated twice, and still has not won yet even though her career has been going on for so long. I want Portman to win, and most likely she will, but I still have a feeling that The Academy may pull something out of their pockets and surprise us all with a Bening win.

I’m very disappointed that my main man Christopher Nolan was not nominated for Best Director this year. He was snubbed for The Dark Knight, and now he’s being snubbed again, and it just pisses me off knowing that certain directors that do such a good job with daring material, don’t get the credit they deserve. I think if Nolan was nominated, he should have won, but I know it’s The Oscars, and not everything works out the right way.

This year had great films, and I’m glad to see that the Oscars have turned out to be this way. I loved 2010 as a year, and the films made it awesome. Here’s to 2011, and let’s just hope that the Oscars are awesome.

Thanks everybody for always reading, and keep on checking!!

Rabbit Hole (2010)

I honestly don’t think I can make any silly pun with this movie.

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) grapple with the realities of life eight months after the death of their 4-year-old son, Danny. Even with Becca’s well-meaning mother (Dianne Wiest) offering comfort and weekly group therapy always available, the couple go about their own secret ways of coping.

The film is directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who has had two efforts in the past (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus). Those two are completely different from this, and that’s why I like it so much more.

The screenplay is what really works here so well. There is a lot of true and honest insight into the world of grief, and suffering which all rings true. I’m not a parent, but I still know what it’s like to have grief over something, and this film portrays that so well. You don’t blame yourself, but you more or less, blame the people that are trying to help you, and you just can’t help it. By watching this film, you see how hard it is to be normal again after something so devastating has just happened to you.

Cameron Mitchell is a fine choice for this film because although he doesn’t do much with this story that we aren’t expecting, he does let it speak for itself, and give us some emotionally raw scenes. This is some of the most upsetting, and sad material I have seen in a film in quite some time, but somehow he lifts it up into something a little more brighter, and has us know who these people are inside and out.

The only problem with this film is that there are moments in this movie, where you sort of can’t really stand sitting through all this pain. It’s almost like the film Revolutionary Road, where the material you have to work with is just so sad, that it’s hard to actually enjoy yourself. The whole film is not like that, but there are moments in the film where I was sort of sad myself.

Nicole Kidman is absolutely terrific in this film. She captures the raw emotion that goes through a grieving mother, as she tries so hard to stay strong, and look positive, but deep down inside she’s hurting more than ever. Her performance is amazing and I’m so glad that she got an Oscar nomination for this, because she does deserve it. Aaron Eckhart is also very good here, and I think should have gotten some sort of nomination, because he is also another great element as well. He tries to keep his cool about it too, but I can’t help but shed a tear when he starts to talk about his son, and when he gets pissed I have to tell you, it was scary. These two work well together as a married couple who I don’t think once shared a kiss throughout the whole movie. We are constantly playing in our heads who’s acting bad about this all, but it goes back and forth so you can never really tell and I liked that. Dianne Wiest is terrific as always, giving off more heart in this film, but I can’t say I didn’t expect it. Sandra Oh is also a delight to have her also.

Consensus: The subject material may not always be the most happy material, but Rabbit Hole benefits from a terrific cast that delivers so well on this raw and honest story about the loss of a child.

9/10=Full Price!!

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Hot damn Stanley, you really do love showing boobies.

Director Stanley Kubrick’s final film dishes up a chillingly distant examination of carnal desire and obsession ignited by an argument over fidelity between Dr. Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) and his wife (Nicole Kidman), which sends the physician reeling into the Manhattan night. He soon finds himself in a surreal succession of sexually charged encounters, capped off by a clandestine visit to an upper-crust orgy.

Writer/Producer/Director Stanley Kubrick is a genius. The films he has made in his life, are so insane, but yet so perfect in so many ways. This was sadly his last, and he went out with a bang.

The star of this film is Kubrick himself. His direction is practically flawless. From the lighting, to the camera angles, to the music, to the tone, almost everything feels perfect. This is a very dark, and disturbing movie, and Kubrick builds up the suspense with every second he gets. Some will complain saying how it’s so long, and un-interesting. But for me that wasn’t the case at all, I was more glued in as the film kept trudging along, as slow as it did. There are some really, really tense scenes, and as usual, Kubrick keeps that suspense going through almost every scene has here. The scenes with the cult, are probably the freakiest things I have seen on film in quite some time. The music, the costumes, the lighting, and the overall mood just pulls you in, and you can’t get out so eventually you just fall victim to what is the mind of Stanley Kubrick.

Throughout the film, you feel as if your almost in a dream. You have your reality, your bad dreams, your good dreams, and dreams that almost feel like real life. The whole film plays out like this, and you feel like your walking through a dream-like state with this film. But mainly, the film speaks louder on the study of the human psyche, and how our mind reacts to sex. We feel as if sex itself, is something we need, and we obsess over it. However, as we start to keep searching for more sex, we start to fall into more crimes, and lies, and then our life is practically made up and full of shameful things. This film touches on a lot of ideas about the mind, right when it comes to sex, but the film does pretty well in my opinion of sorting it all out in a reasonable, but psychological way.

My main strife with this film is that I do feel that towards the end there should have been more time devoted to one certain element to this film, and when it comes up, you can tell right away. It was also really disappointing to see some of Kubrick’s main sex scenes, undoubtedly censored. I mean I’m not a perve or anything, but this was the same guy about 30 years ago who showed me rape along to the tune of Singin’ In The Rain, or “heressssss Johnnny”. And to see his material, as sexual as it was, to be censored like it was, sort of took away from the film as a whole I think. When it comes to artistic ability, Stanley Kubrick was all about it showing that he will put whatever he wants on that screen, despite the MPAA, but for this last outing he gave in, and had his ish censored. Poor guy, wish it didn’t have to be like that.

Tom Cruise does a good job as he practically loses himself in this material, and is admirably subtle as he drowns in the film’s indulgences. Nicole Kidman is also very good even though not a lot of the film has her in it, the scenes with her are perfect, and shows that she really can act even with small amount of time given to her on screen. These two were married at the time when this film was completed, and released, and then not soon after they divorced. I guess this type of material really started to mess with their heads, and they couldn’t tell what was reality anymore. But they both have good chemistry in this, and not only is this a film that marks the end of an era, but also a film that marks the end of a marriage that started so bright, and ended so tragically. I guess all good things have to come to an end.

Consensus: Though it may be Kubrick’s last outing as director, Eyes Wide Shut still has some of his best direction, with key performances from Cruise and Kidman, and thought-provoking study on the sexual mind, but it’s just sad cause this was his last film, and with anybody, it’s always sad to see the last great work, of a great artist.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

I don’t care what you people say, I FREAKIN’ LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!

Satine (Nicole Kidman), the star of the Moulin Rouge and the city’s most famous courtesan, is caught between the love of a young writer and another man’s obsession. Christian (Ewan McGregor) is a writer who finds himself plunged into this decadent world where anything goes – except falling in love.

When it comes to some of the greatest musicals of all-time, I think this would have a nice spot on my list.

I love this movie just because of how it is, without being anything else. Director Baz Luhrmann is the real star of this movie because he doesn’t follow all these other musicals that are known. He uses licensed songs such as “Like A Virgin”, “Heroes”, and “Your Song”. The film isn’t afraid to be silly when it needs to but its not all the fun that gets this film really at me, its more about the true story of love. The film is so original with everything it does, because it doesn’t play by the same rules all other musicals do, it basically is laying down the ground that this is what film should be: fun. It has a plot from 1400s operas, look from 1950s broadway productions, and it has a visual style from current music videos.

The film obviously takes some notes from Romeo & Juliet (Luhrmann directed that back in 1996), because this is also about forbidden love, but is also about the joys and also the tragic heart-breaks that love can effect you with.

I have to mostly credit the way this film looks cause this world that they live in, is very unrealistic, but it seems all too much fun. I actually wanted to go there and live in this place as this film was going on. The set designs look so lavish, with all the beautiful colors and costumes coming right at you, bringing this whole world of fun, love, and heart break to glorious life.

The songs are what makes this film great, because as I mentioned before, its licensed songs. The songs that they choose for these particular moments in the film, work so well, and actually seem like they could be real songs that these people were actually singing. They combine a lot of different variety of music, like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Roxanne” but most of it all works so well here.

The performances from this whole cast are just stunning, cause not only is it their real acting that’s good, but all of them can basically sing. McGregor plays his lead character with so much charm, but yet so much unknowings about love, and thats why it makes him a great protagonist to cheer for. The real show here is Kidman who is just a total knock-out with her performance. She plays this character with so much beauty, charisma, and also tragedy without once hamming it up for the camera. The way the two interact with each other on-screen seems so real and genuine that its hard not to want these two together in the end. If anything the only problem I had with this film was that its main villain played by Richard Roxburgh seemed too cartoonish at points, and I couldn’t take him seriously as a bad guy.

Consensus: Moulin Rouge! is a musical that is fun, energetic, and so original with an inspired direction from Luhrmann, beautiful performances from McGregor and Kidman, and great look, feel, and sound that its hard not to love this film and hail it as one f the all-time best.

10/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Far and Away (1992)

Oh, Irish accents never get old.

In Ron Howard’s epic drama, two 19th century Irish immigrants make the journey to the United States together, but for very different reasons. Joseph Donelly (Tom Cruise) is a poor farmer who’s lost everything, while Shannon Christie (Nicole Kidman) is chafing against her privileged but stifling upbringing. Looking for land as they make their way west, they also find love as they endure a series of hardships that strengthens their relationship.

Seeing all the reviewers for this film it was all basically cut in half of some liking it, and some hating it. For me I’m on the first side.

It really is stunning to look at. Many of the set pieces look like the turn of the century right in front of your eyes. I felt like I was there with these people while it was going on. I’am not usually a very big fan of period pieces mostly cause the look isn’t captured very well, but it all looks so real and genuine.There is a final scene at the end that takes place in the Land Run of 1893, and is shot so well with so much detail that it gives you the feeling of being in all that havoc.

I did have some problems with this film still however. The unrelenting Irish stereotypes got annoying, because as usual they just showed them drinking and fighting forget about anything else. I felt like the film could have definitely been better written cause most of the lines are really cheesy, and at the same time not very believable.  The movie is really cornball with its obvious cliche story and is highly predictable.

But most of the praise for this film has to go to Ron Howard who makes this 2 hour and 19 minute adventure seem a lot quicker than the run-time given. He makes sure scenes don’t go over the limit to the point of where they become an annoyance, and stages many scenes, like as I said before, with so much energy and realism that you actually feel like your there.

Tom Cruise as usual is very good here, although he is sporting the fake Irish accent. I kind of felt the same way towards him in this film as I did in The Last Samurai because I can’t quite get past that its Tom Cruise, because he has so much of that star-power, but still nonetheless does a great job anyway. But the real treat here is Kidman mostly because she plays these characters that could be so goofy, but does it with such strength and realism that you actually believe her characters.

Consensus: Far and Away has its obvious cliches and isn’t very believable, but is wonderful to look at, mostly from the fearless direction of Ron Howard, and two great performances from Cruise and Kidman.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Nine (2009)

Saw this with one of the worst crowds of my life.

Movie director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is in the throes of a midlife crisis, struggling to finish his film while juggling relationships with wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz), muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), producer Lilli (Judi Dench) and his mother (Sophia Loren). Rob Marshall (Chicago) helms this musical based on the Broadway smash; Stacy Ferguson and Kate Hudson co-star.

Personally, I don’t really like musicals. I mean sometimes I will watch them and I find some of the music numbers very fun and exciting, and this one to be truly honest fit that description in some ways.

I hated Chicago so much! So when I heard Marshall was coming out with another musical, I really just wanted to avoid this like a plague. But, I got a chance to see it, and suprisingly it came out better than I expected. Most of this film is part realistic, part fantasy, and you can really tell when this happens.

In the beginning, the film was very slow, and the music barely was lifted off its feat. And this pattern would happen every once and again, which really threw me off. Sometimes, I got fed up with the slow pace, and decided to give up, but then an amazing musical number would come out, and sweep me off my feat.

I will say one thing about the music in this film, is that it surely is entertaining. Every time a song comes on you just feel this total bolt of energy go through the whole theater. I did find myself close dancing in my seats, and after the song I couldn’t stop just singing its catchy chorus’.

The film does have a very good and dazzling look. The lighting for the performances, bring out so many moods of how these characters feel, is just what makes the look and feeling perfect. Plenty of the settings of Italy look real well, and you feel like this place can become a character of itself too.

Daniel Day-Lewis as usual, does give a good performance here, but has this character that always seems to mess his life up until the very end, and has no problems with it, so i didn’t find him very likable. The rest of the cast does good as well, Penélope Cruz despite her amazingly gorgeous looks, does really give a solid and heart-broken performance here as the mistress.

Consensus: Nine has a great cast, great look, and some very exciting musical numbers, but at times feels distant, and gets way too slow at so many points.

8/10=Matinee!!!

To Die For (1995)

Usually I don’t like Gus Van Sant, but he is starting to grow on me.

Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) has always harbored one dream: being on TV. She’s dead-set on making that dream come true, but there’s one hitch: her husband (Matt Dillon), who just wants her to stay at home. So, Suzanne puts in motion a plan to get him out of the way — for good. Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as the love-struck teenager Suzanne recruits to help execute her sinister plot — and her spouse.

So needless to say, this is probably one of the best Dark comedies ever made. It really does have every element that is so bleak and upsetting, and is then shadowed away with this great element of comedy.

But the film isn’t as much as a dark comedy as it is a satire on how people can get so overcome with this emotion of being famous and gaining stardom, that we almost forget what are real lives are all about. It is so dark and so satirical, that at points it comes out being so mean, and this is a good thing.

The screenplay written by Buck Henry really does contain some of the funniest but also terribly true pop culture references. Its writing is so intentionally funny that at points I couldn’t help but just to laugh at the jokes, that I totally forgot how dark this material really was after all.

Director Gus Van Sant uses a clever method of working backwards: The key characters in the story are interviewed, following a shocking local event, with flashbacks of the incidents as the interviewee’s recall them. At first I thought this technique was distracting, but I soon embraced it. He honestly cannot stop but make one terrific visual after another, with sometimes colors so bright they are actually scary, as scary as Suzanne the main character.

The film had a bit of problems with what it wanted to be though. It looked like it was going to act as dark comedy, media satire or clear-cut thriller. I didn’t know what its intentions were to be which is why I kind of had a hard time understanding what to expect.

Nicole Kidman knocks this performance right out of the park. She is sexy, scary, aggressive, and so devious, but you can’t but to just love this character that she does. This is her best performance of all-time and I was actually shocked by how good she really was. The supporting cast is good as well most notably Joaquin Phoenix, who is so young but still so great as a this young kid still being taken advantage of. The only problem I had with this film was that I wanted to see a bit more of how Matt Dillon acted and how he and his wife did interact with each other, we never really got that other than just a couple of scenes.

Consensus: To Die For is darkly hilarious and satirically-true, and is backed with an amazing performance from Kidman, which ends in being one of Van Sant’s best.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

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