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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

The Guard (2011)

Why can’t more cops be this cool?

An unorthodox Irish policeman named Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. As you could imagine, things don’t gel so well between the two as one’s kind of a dirty, lazy drunk that likes to sit around on his romp while everybody else solves crime, whereas the other one wants to get on the case right away, no frills attached. Not to mention that there’s a bit of a race problem between the two, seeing as how Irish, when they get drunk, well, tend to say some stuff that aren’t always nice.

While I was watching this movie, something really strange happened to me. While watching this movie and found a lot of similarities between this and In Bruges because right from the start, it’s pretty obvious. You get a bunch of lovely accents, Brendan Gleeson acting like a charming fool, dark situations, blood, violence, and they’re all done for laughs.

Another strange happening that occurred to me was the other day before I saw this movie, I was actually checking out the drug-induced trip that was Spun, and thought to myself, “Wow, this director seems like he’s making a music-video. I wonder if he was one of those before this movie? Hmm?” Sure enough, it turned out that the director of that one was, and better yet, that the writer/director of this movie, not only was trying to make a movie like In Bruges, but was also the freakin’ brother of that same writer/director! Goes to show you what I know and it made me feel like I was on-top of the world of with my movie knowledge, that will probably all get thrown-back in my face once I go to the next local Quizzo and fail miserably at the “Movie Round”.

Ladies, eat your hearts out. Or, I guess in this case, drink 'em out.

Ladies, eat your hearts out. Or, I guess in this case, drink ‘em out.

Yeah, that’s reality for me, folks, and it’s not something I, nor my parents are too fond of being true.

Damn. What a disappointment I am.

Anyway, similarities aside, the writer/director of THIS movie, John Michael McDonagh still does a great job in his own right and starts us off perfectly with what we’re to expect from the rest of his movie. There’s definitely a very goofy side to this movie that isn’t afraid to show itself, poke a little fun at the whole buddy-cop aspect, and also make a lot of the more serious cliches of a crime movie, seem totally stupid and ridiculous. Like his brother, John Michael seems to be playing around a bit with the conventions we are all so used to seeing from movies of this nature and it kept me on edge wondering where he was going to go next with this story, and what exactly he was going to throw at me next. While making me laugh, I presumed.

That’s why this film’s humor, is so rich in the way it’s delivered. We’ve all seen dark comedy used in crime movies, especially from the likes of Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, and countless others, but this movie really uses the dark comedy aspect to its strength and doesn’t seem forced in the least bit. Rather than giving us an act of violence and trying to make it all light by adding a cheeky line in there, John Michael still uses the same exact formula, but instead, makes it feel deserved and pretty goddamn funny if you ask me. I liked this film’s sense of humor, and it mostly just all felt very Irish to me as everybody is mean, cruel, and pretty damn depressed. That is, until they get a couple of Guinness’ in your systems, and then they’re a bunch of partyin’, happenin’, drunken fools.

Like true and tried Irishmen.

Where I think John Michael screws up a bit with this movie and the tone he’s going for is whenever he decides to get a tad bit more serious on us, and sadly, it doesn’t work. Most writers/directors are able to make the transition from goofy, lighthearted comedy, to straight-up, serious drama, but I don’t think he is one of them. For instance, any time the movie focused on Boyle and the meetings he would have with his, equally-as-cheeky mother who was slowly dying, the film got very dry, very serious, and very boring for me to actually keep my interest. Some people can make this transition work, but if you can’t, it’s just all the more glaring in the end as we never really catch on to any of the actual drama John Michael has in store for us. Instead, we just want the guy to keep on throwing more and more comedy at the wall, without worrying who it does, and doesn’t offend.

You have to ask yourself: Does he play the villain?

You have to ask yourself: Does he play the villain?

However, when it comes right down to it, I cannot, for a second go wrong with an all around solid performance from Mr. Brendan Gleeson himself, who is just a whole bunch of fun to watch as Sgt. Gerry Boyle. Gleeson has always been a guy that’s known for his dramatic-power in big-budget dramas where he usually plays a supporting character, but when it comes to comedies, he’s just as good, if not better just because of this undeniable amount of likability to him that shines through every scene he has here. Right from the start, you know that this cop isn’t going to be your usual, heavy-duty copper that takes everything so seriously. He’s more of a reasonable dude that doesn’t take everything so damn seriously, likes to make sarcastic jokes, and most of all, just likes to have a wee bit of fun for the hell of it. Now why couldn’t someone like him pull me over on the Freeway, Thanksgiving Eve?

Bastards.

And while it does seem weird to see Don Cheadle, of all people, in a very Irish-flick, the point is sort of in that description; he’s meant to be out-of-place and therefore, we draw jokes at him. It’s also a joke that hardly gets old, which mostly has to do with the fact that Cheadle and Gleeson work so well together, they seem like two guys you could really see connect together, given under circumstances of course. But watching as they build some sort of a friendship/connection, is interesting enough and gives more substance to a movie that could have been a down-and-out comedy, with bits and pieces of violence and action sprinkled in.

Consensus: Though the tone can be a bit all-over-the-place at times, the Guard still works because of its goofy sense of humor that, never gets annoying, nor takes away from giving us a lovely chemistry between the unlikely pair that is Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

A black guy and an Irish dude walk into a bar, and they drink. That's it.

A black guy and an Irish dude walk into a bar, and they drink…… That’s it.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Big Bad Wolves (2014)

Torture is so meaningless. Just get the killing over and done with!

Three different stories and characters come clashing together after a child is abducted, raped and brutally murdered. You know, happy stuff. On one hand, we have policeman Miki (Lior Ashkenazi) who is determined enough that he believes he found the main suspect in this case, although it’s clear that his police-chief doesn’t want him causing too much commotion; the other hand, we have the suspect in question, Dror (Rotem Keinan), a high school teacher that has a bit of a troubled-life with his own wife and kids, but still maintains the position that he didn’t do it, nor has any idea what anybody is accusing him of; and lastly, on the other hand, we have the father of the abducted, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), who knows what he wants to do as soon as he finds out who may be the main culprit in this grisly crime: Find him, kidnap him, torture him, get him to talk and once it’s all said and done with, kill him. Sounds like a good plan, and heck, it gets even better once Gidi and Miki decide to join forces on beating the truth out of Dror, but one thing leads to another and, well, let’s just say not everything goes as planned.

As you can probably tell from just reading that plot-line, that things aren’t so pretty with this. There’s a lot of torture, there’s a lot of blood, there’s a lot of tension and there’s also a lot of yelling. Which makes total sense as to why major nut-ball himself, Quentin Tarantino, would state this as being his favorite film of 2013, only to have it paraded around on each and every one of this movie’s advertisements. But where most of Tarantino’s violent-fests seem to have some sort of a point to all of the havoc and mayhem being caused, for some reason, Israeli writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado don’t really seem to be able to find that.

High school teacher with a troubled marriage = main suspect in any child-abduction case.

High school teacher with a troubled marriage = automatic suspect in any child-abduction case.

Instead, they seem a little too concerned with being able to balance out the comedy, the heart (or what’s there of it) and the queasy violence, in a way that doesn’t seem too tonally-jarring when it goes from one end to another. Which is fine, considering that both seem talented enough to pull it off and have it be entertaining, as well as unpredictable, for the longest time. Because truly, it is hard to show some guy getting his chest burnt, only to then follow it up with a joke about how it makes the man feel as if he wants to eat meat again. It’s a bit odd, but it actually works and had me enjoying myself for quite some time.

Not just because I felt like this was going to be one wild ride I’d truly never forget, but because I felt like it was going somewhere big, as if it was trying to teach us something new about the art, or idea of torture, and how it doesn’t really do much except add-on more excruciating pain than already necessary. And yeah, I guess the movie makes that point maybe once, or hell, maybe even twice, but not enough times, or in enough smart ways to make me feel like that was the first goal in the creator’s minds. Instead, it more so feels as if they just want to give us all the blood, violence, gore, torture and humor that they can throw at us, while making us feel like we’re going somewhere with all of this.

Which, once again, isn’t such a bad thing since the movie does it well at times, but it’s just not something that’s substantial enough to have me feel as if I’ll watch this over and over again, just to look for the small, complex subtleties that I missed-out on in the first-viewing.

You know, like a Quentin Tarantino flick. Then again, that’s a different discussion, for a different day, folks.

Where this film really succeeds, is when it focuses solely on the interactions these three characters have with one another. Whether they’re alone or all in the same room together, I was always interested in seeing what sort of dynamic the directors/writers could make with these two, somewhat different dudes, and how, in ways that they don’t even know of, they’re alike. But, like most of what else that has to do with this movie, it doesn’t go that deep – rather, it just focuses on these guys playing games on the other, whether it be mental, physical or a good old game of Twister.

Okay, the colored-dot sheet never comes out, but you know it’d be so much more interesting if it had.

"I'm here for the funeral. Yours, to be exact!!"

“I’m here for the funeral. Yours, to be exact!!”

For instance, the most interesting character of this movie I thought was Gidi, played very well by Tzahi Grad, who I would have liked to see a movie dedicated to him, actually made. What works so well for this character of Gidi is that even though he is committing all of these reprehensible, immoral acts of torture (then again, what torture isn’t considered either “reprehensible” or “immoral”?), you can tell it comes from a really passionate spot in his heart. We all know that he loves his daughter to death and only wants to know where her body is, just in order to get some sort of closure. It’s sad to watch for what seems to be such a strong-willed, manly-man, but thus fate have it, looks can be deceiving. Because, deep down inside, behind all of the male-posturing, the constant-threats directed towards others and questionable choices he makes throughout these two-hours, therein lies a pretty sweet, tender guy that wants his daughter back and can’t get her back, but will try his hardest to get the closest thing to that. Grad is great in the role, but it’s the writing of Gidi that makes him so suitable as a protagonist. Or antagonist. It all depends on whatever stance you take on any war happening either now, or in the past.

However, I didn’t mean to focus mostly on Gidi in the last paragraph, just to show that the other two characters in this blow, because that just isn’t true. In fact, they are both fine and performed well by Lior Ashkenazi and Rotem Keinan, it’s just that they clearly weren’t given as much in the writer’s department as Gidi was. Which, once again, is fine, it just shows when you think about who the most intriguing character is, which one is the easiest to stand behind, who is the most shady and mysterious and who is the most bland of them all. I won’t spoil which one is which, that’s up to you to find out, but the results may, or may not shock you. Who knows, right?

Consensus: Though Big Bad Wolves may try to be a bit more than just a tongue-in-cheek approach to torture-porn, it doesn’t quite get there, and instead, can’t help but have us feel the pain, have a laugh or two and just enjoy whatever entertainment we’re given, minus any sort of substance.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

I guess this is where it gets fun.

I guess this is where it gets fun?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Four Rooms (1995)

People will do anything for a tip.

It’s the first day on the job for Ted the bellhop (Tim Roth), and from what it seems like, it won’t be a very pleasant one. Early on, he gets told the ins, the outs, the what to do’s, and the what not to do’s on the job by an aging, supposed retiring bellman that gives him an idea of what he should expect taking people’s luggage up to their room, answering their phone calls and the most important of all, waiting on them for a tip. So with this all out of the way, Ted gets ready for one of the biggest and most hectic nights of the year, New Year’s Eve. And what do you know it? Ted’s night ends up being an eventful one, albeit one that he finds his life threatened on more than a few occasions. But it’s all in the good name of a sizable tip, right?

Like with most anthology films, the idea here seems smart and somewhat nifty: Get at least four low-key, up-and-coming indie film-makers, give them a budget and give them free reign to basically just strut their stuff for no less than 20 minutes each, slap the Miramax logo on it, and release it to the mass-audience. Seemed like a really promising idea that could have worked wonders for all of the film-makers involved, but somehow, it more or less just ended up killing two promising careers, while just injuring two others.

Take a wild guess as to whose career’s were killed, and which ones were just injured for a short while. Not that hard I guess, but let me just tell you through my usual-way of reviewing anthology films; taking it one-by-one, segment-by-segment. Shall we?

Random twitching example #2.

Random twitching example #2.

1. The Missing Ingredient – This is the one that starts it all off, and that’s not a good thing at all. In short, this segment is easily the worst. It made me feel like I made a huge mistake actually even bothering with this movie. Director Allison Anders gives us a cool idea in which a coven of witches who need male sperm to complete their ritual and just so happened to choose Ted as he comes stumbling on in. While the ground-work was there for this to be not just hilarious, but all sorts of weird and cooky, in a fun-way, Anders doesn’t even bother going anywhere with this. Sure, for horny dudes, there is plenty of hot boobage to be seen, but for anybody who wants a little bit of craziness mixed with their covens, will be most likely disappointed as Anders seemed to really drop the ball with this, and not know what’s considered “funny”, and what’s considered “boring.” Easily the worst out of the four, but it’s not like the next one is a peach neither.

2. The Wrong Man – Things seem to get a bit better with this segment, however, not by much. Director Alexandre Rockwell keeps things small and subdued, but not anywhere near being considered “sweet”, as this whole segment just meanders endlessly, without ever really moving outside of the actual hotel room it’s placed in. The whole story is in which a married-couple (Jennifer Beals and David Proval) basically plays this little sex-game where he pretends that she’s been screwing around him and picks out whatever poor fellow just so happens to stroll through that door, interrogate him, wave a gun in front of his face, take his pills, and basically, just scare the shorts off of him. There are moments in this segment where the wheels seemed to be turning and there seemed to be some moments of promise, but once the segment is all said and done with, I couldn’t help but feel like it went on a bit long. Especially once Beals’ character just started yelling out any term for the word “penis” she could think of right away. Sure, it made me laugh (probably my first one), but it was only because it was a random moment of creative spontaneity that the first segment didn’t seem to have.

Thankfully though, it does get better from here and begins to feel like something worth watching, rather than the first two awful-pieces.

3. The Misbehavers – Antonio Banderas plays a tough and sinister father-of-two that wants to take his wife on a night out on the town, in hopes of getting laid and therefore, igniting the spark in their marriage that probably sizzled-out once kids came along and screwed everything up. But, knowing that these same kids can’t come out with them, he decides to intimidate Ted intoi watching over them, and making sure that they “don’t misbehave”. It seems easy, and with the price for this little mission being $500, it seems even easier. However, with these two kids, nothing is quite as easy as it seems and eventually, the room itself starts to smell and once that happens, all hell breaks loose. So yeah, the plot-line for this segment is dumb, but with Robert Rodriguez behind-the-wheel, it’s anything but. Actually, that’s not true. It is still dumb, but in a “fun” way in which one can only associate with Rodriguez and his style of film-making. It starts off simple and small, but as time goes on, and Rodriguez really gets the brain working, you can see just how much havoc he can throw on top of the other and once all is said and done and we get the final-line of this segment, you know that, if anything, the whole movie was it at least worth it for just this whole time-span of 15-20 minutes. It doesn’t even matter if the last segment blows, all we know is that this is the segment people should be wanting to see and talk about.

When you do have a movie in which "the chick from Say Anything" gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something "to watch".

When you do have a movie in which “the chick from Say Anything” gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something “to watch”.

But of course, the last segment is done by none other than Quentin Tarantino himself and, as we all know, the guy has a bit of a thing for stealing the spotlight of movies, and his segment here is no different.

4. The Man from Hollywood – The plot-line is simple: Ted stumbles upon a bunch of fast-cat, Hollywood big-shots (Bruce Willis being among them), who con him into doing something for a hefty price, as idiotic as the act may be. Oh, and there’s a bet involved somehow, someway. Basically, being that this is a Tarantino-segment, you can expect a lot of witty lines that involved pop-culture, violence, sex and a bunch of other talk that doesn’t sound like it’s coming from actual human-beings who grace us with their presence on the same planet we call Earth. That said, considering the rest of the film that came before this, it’s a blast to watch, keeps you interested, laughing, a bit tense and overall, entertained as if Tarantino was the one they really were leaning on for this to work and that’s exactly what they got. In hindsight, it’s not the best thing that Tarantino has ever done or touched (especially when also speaking of his acting), but when you place his segment against the three others, his definitely comes out on-top and a reason to see this whole film. Although you do have to get through two shitty segments, and one pretty good one.

And through all of these segments, there’s none other than Tim Roth himself acting his ass off through them, which is not a good thing. For some odd reason or another, Roth is given the order to carry-out this overly-used, spastic-twitch of his that carries on throughout most of his segments in which he stammers and bumbles more than Hugh Grant on a bad day. It gets old real quick and just becomes random, as if there was no other reason to make this character interesting than to just have him do and say all of these odd things. Roth tries, but he can’t help but suffer due to doing whatever it was that he was told. However, when he’s told to dial it down a notch and just let the segments for speak themselves, is usually when he’s at his most watchable, as well as the same could be said for the movie itself. And mostly, this occurs during the last two segments. Strange how things work themselves out, right?

Consensus: If you counter in the fact that only two of the four segments in Four Rooms work, then I guess you could consider this “watchable” in the least bit. But, then again, if you want to save yourself some precious time, effort and/or money, then just watch the last two segments somewhere on YouTube. I’m sure you’ll be able to find them somewhere.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Talk about a party I'd like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don't do anything I wouldn't do! Woo hoo!

Talk about a party I’d like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! Woo hoo!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

The Faculty (1998)

Don’t we all think our teachers are body-snatching aliens?

A geek (Elijah Wood) finds a small mollusk on a football field. He thinks it’s a new discovery until the school’s teachers start behaving very Children Of The Corn ish and become obsessed with the element of water. This is where many of the teenagers band together, all cliques aside and find out just what the hell is up with their teachers, why they’re acting so funny, and just hope that they don’t become like one of them. Because let’s face it: No high school kid wants to be a teacher, and if they do, they don’t want to be like THEIR high school teacher.

If you look up the term “slasher movie” in the 90’s dictionary, you’ll probably find a picture and a short bio of writer Kevin Williamson, who basically re-invented the horror movie franchise back in then with both Scream and Scream 2, among others. Then, if you look up “movie genius” in the same dictionary, you’ll probably see a picture and a short bio of Quentin Tarantino, but a synonym would probably be Robert Rodriguez. Putting them together for one, big horror movie seems like a pretty awesome idea full of wacky, zany fun and originality, right?

Only due to a supposed alien-invasion are they even considering being around one another.

Only due to a supposed alien-invasion are they even considering being around one another.

Well, it saddens to me say this, but disappointment ensues. But how?

In case you haven’t been able to tell, this is a lot like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers mixed with the kid from The Breakfast Club. It may not sound like the coolest idea ever, but Williamson and Rodriguez at least do a good job of making it entertaining with a couple of actual thrilling moments. This follows the same formula of your usual horror movie with the constant jumps and scares that we have come to know (and sometimes love) with the genre, and they work pretty effectively here. You can’t go into this expecting anything you haven’t ever really seen before, nor can you really expect something that breaks down the whole horror movie conventions, because not only has Williamson done that many times before, but he’s practically perfected it by now that it’s become somewhat predictable. You just got to go into this expecting an exciting and sometimes, funny ride that comes from two geniuses like Williamson and Rodriguez.

However, that’s the exact problem with this flick: Most have come to expect more from these two talents just because of what they have been able to do in the past, and to see them collaborate on a feature that’s anything but awesome, is really sad. With Williamson, we get some moments where these kids talk in a very self-referential about how they know that aliens exist, why they exist, and what they can do just to stop them; as well as a lot of references to other sci-fi flicks out there like Men in Black, E.T., and even The Invasion of the Body Snatchers itself, but it sort of comes off as a cheap rip-off because it’s so damn obvious that Williamson is basing this plot off of those flicks, so he thinks by referencing them in his own movie will give it some sort of gratitude and make it seem like less of a rip-off. So instead, it comes off just exactly like that and it’s sort of one of the golden rules where it doesn’t matter if you reference the film or not, if you are ripping it off, plain and simply, you are ripping it off! Bam!

As for Rodriguez, seeing what he can do with an ordinary story and take it in all of these different twists and turns, it’s pretty disappointing when he gives us a flick that’s not only pretty predictable from start to finish, but one that seems like it could have been directed by anybody. There’s no turtles, no Antonio Banderas, no Mexicano music playing somewhere in the background, and no vampires getting their heads blown off by George Clooney. Nope, instead it just seems like one of those typical horror movies that seems like it could have gone somewhere magical with this premise, but goes exactly to where you would expect it to go, which, given the talent that’s involved behind-the-camera, is a bit of a bummer.

Gosh, teachers!! You're so annoyingly weird!!

Gosh, teachers!! You’re so annoyingly weird!!

What makes this movie a little more appealing is the young cast, and deciphering who has had the biggest star out of all of them is now. And to be honest, I can’t really say since everybody seems like they’re on the somewhat same page. Elijah Wood is here as the typical geek that obviously knows something is up with all of the teachers and faculty at his school, and plays up that whole nerdy act with him very well. However, how many times have we seen this guy do that act before? Yeah, so it does kind of get old after awhile, no matter how early in his career it was. Josh Hartnett, being the stud that he is, plays the slacker who gets held-back, sells drugs and quite possibly gets it on with his very hot teacher. Hartnett’s good for this role and it’s a real wonder why he doesn’t do more with his career, although I feel like the novelty of a young, hot, charming dude has sort of worn-off and been thrown over to Channing Tatum.

Shawn Hatosy plays the jock that just wants to be known for being smart, and he’s pretty good at it. It’s a shame that he hasn’t really been showing up in much, except for Alpha Dog, where he played a total dick, but in a good way. Jordana Brewster plays the bitchy, high school newspaper-editor that seems to always be on everybody’s case about lord knows what, but she’s fine with it and I think she still deserves more hits at drama because I think this gal can really make it work, if given the chance. There’s a whole bunch of other peeps in this cast that’s worth talking about, but really, I don’t want to be here forever so just check the film out yourself and see all of these familiar faces who may, or may not be, showing their faces around anymore.

Consensus: Though it can be a lot of fun with some goofy references to other horror flicks that inspires it, The Faculty never fully comes through on its own as an original or different kind of horror thriller, and more as a carbon-copy of the movies it can’t help but crack jokes at and about.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay, well I don't think he counts as anything.

Okay, well I don’t think he counts as anything.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Desperado (1995)

Once you accept the money, then it’s time to sell your soul and join the mainstream.

Taking place after the first one with a new cast but relatively same story, a gun-toting mariachi (Antonio Banderas) travels to a Mexican town in search for the man who killed his lover and shot his right-hand, the same hand he used to be able to make sweet, sweet music with. After the mariachi shakes things up in town, the local drug lord (Joaquim de Almeida) wants him dead and, if at all possible, brought to him so that he can be the one to do the righteous act of slaying. And so, the rivalry between the two heats up with the drug lord getting more and more paranoid, and our mariachi gets more and more cornered by all sorts of crooks, yet, is also able to find solace in the loving and caring arms of a gal who runs the local library (Salma Hayek). However, there’s something about this chicky that strikes the mariachi as strange. Could it be that she is in-debt to this local drug lord, or maybe, just maybe, is it that they share something a little more personal than just strictly doing business?

After he hit the big bucks and fame with his shoestring budget debut, El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez found himself prime and ready for big-budget, Hollywood filmmaking where not only would he be able to call the shots anyway he would want, but with anybody he wanted to. But as we all know, once some little nobody all of a sudden makes it big and gets his hands on whatever he wants, then things sort of go downhill from there. And to add insult to injury, we all know that simply “remaking” your first movie, with a bigger budget and cast on-display, is an even more drastic move on anybody’s part, especially Rodriguez’s.

Where the hell's the turtle?

I guess Rodriguez was just “too big” for the turtle anymore.

I guess you can’t blame Rodriguez too much for wanting to play it safe and practically do what he did no less than 3 years before, because even though his name was out there for the whole world to take notice to, the guy was still only 27 years old. And for a guy that young to be making movies this big, it has to be a pretty overwhelming feeling. I couldn’t imagine it, but who the hell am I, right? However, fear doesn’t excuse laziness, and that’s exactly the type of problem Rodriguez runs into with this movie.

It isn’t that the movie’s necessarily boring because it goes over everything that happened in El Mariachi, it’s more because Rodriguez doesn’t know how to give his story more substance in order for us to care. Instead, he just gives us piss-poor character-development that doesn’t do much for the actors in terms of what they have to work with, and also gives us too many scenes where people are doing more talking, than actual shooting, killing, or anything violent of a sort. Which is fine, as long as you can hold somebody’s interest with actual interesting, entertaining dialogue, which is not what Rodriguez gives this movie or the characters. Most of them seem to just ramble on and never go anywhere, except only to move the plot from one gun-battle sequence, to the next.

But then again, those gun-battle sequences I’m talking about, are pretty damn fun and flashy when they happen, and probably shows Rodriguez’s most inspired pieces of filmmaking to-date. So many wild and wacky stunts that defy human or scientific logic; so much blood that you could practically fill a pool with; and better yet, an unpredictable feel to each and every scene where you feel as if any character you see, could practically be offed at any given second. For instance, without giving too much away, a couple of characters who are introduced for a good and solid 2 minutes, suddenly bite the dust out of nowhere, which keeps you on-edge and ready to see what happens next with this plot, and the characters that inhabit it. This is where the fun of the movie really lies, and it’s what we have all come to know and love about Rodriguez, even if most of his films seem to only consist of these scenes, if done in a more over-the-top, balls-crazy way. But even then, they’re still fun and exciting to watch, and bring out the best in him. Hence why I can’t wait to see Machete Kills.

Hey, at least there's no Australian-accent.

Hey, at least there’s no Australian accent present.

And as much as I may get on Rodriguez’s case for taking the easy way out and doing nothing more than “remaking” his first movie, I have to give the guy credit because he found a suitable-enough cast to do it with and keep me interested by. Antonio Banderas was such a perfect choice to replace Carlos Gallardo (who still shows up as a fellow mariachi and band member to Banderas’ character) because he’s able to give us more substance to a character that feels like it needed none, yet, we’re still okay with seeing. Banderas has the look of an action-hero, that’s as tough, nasty, and vengeful as you can get, but also displays a certain heart and sweetness to him that gives you the idea that yes, this dude is not some cabron you want to mess with, but does have a heart when you get right down to the core of him. And the fact that Banderas did all of his own insane stunts, gives this movie even more of a feel of sincerity, despite it still being outrageously crazy and off-kilter at times. However, it also proves that Banderas is the hunk of a Mexican man-meat that almost any lady faints over. They just have to make sure that Mrs. Melanie Banderas isn’t around, or else catfights will most likely ensue.

The rest of the cast is good, even if they don’t get the chance to sink their tooth into their respective roles quite as much, or as well as Banderas does. Joaquim de Almeida plays Bucho, the drug lord who wants this mariachi dead, and displays a ruthless killer you don’t want to mess up a deal with. He and Banderas create a nice rivalry full of suspense and thrills, despite only sharing the same screen for no less than 5 minutes, and even then, it’s still pretty damn intense! Salma Hayek is fine as the gal that the mariachi takes a liking to, and vice versa, even if she doesn’t get much to do. Also, who the hell is going to believe that Salma Hayek not only reads books every single day, but also owns and continues to keep a library up and running? Sorry, just seems unbelievable to me. And there are quite a bit of nice cameos to be seen here, especially ones from people you’d know to see in a Rodriguez movie. Fellow pals like Steve Buscemi, crazy Quentin Tarantino, Danny Trejo, and even Cheech Marin all show up, and do okay jobs with what they have to do; which still isn’t much, but it’s enough to make us happy to see their shiny faces. Okay, maybe not Trejo’s, but you get my drift.

Consensus: Exactly what you’d expect a big-budget, longer, and more attractive remake of El Mariachi to be like, except only that Desperado doesn’t feature anything much more interesting to watch other than a couple of fun action scenes, and alright performances from the cast.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Cool girls can walk away from explosions, too! Don't you forget!

Cool girls can walk away from explosions, too! Don’t you forget!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Death Proof (2007)

Never trust a dude that can rev it up to over 150, and still collect retirement checks.

Kurt Russell stars as a Hollywood stuntman named Stuntman Mike. He’s cool, lean, mean, drives a sexy, muscle car, looks as fly as can be, and is also very quick to the point. Whenever he walks into a joint, he’s the coolest mofo there, if not the most mysterious as well. However, what most people don’t know about him is that he’s a raging sociopath that goes out of his way to kill beautiful, innocent women on the road with his sexy, muscle car and is finding more and more victims of his to prey on. But not all of the ladies he is on the hunt for are going to stand down from a fight.

That plot synopsis up above may make this movie seem like a pretty straight-forward, slasher flick that doesn’t really deserve the light of day, let alone the light of a movie theater. However, what may change your mind as quick as possible is the fact that it’s written and directed by none other than Mr. Crazy Genius himself: Quentin Tarantino. And if you know Tarantino like I do, you know that nothing he does is ever straight-forward. Thank the Movie Gods for that!

All of those 70’s exploitation flicks that had to do with fast guns, faster cars, and even faster women, are the perfect examples of what Tarantino’s trying to do here. And yes, obviously that style is going to be over-the-top and a bit dated in spots, but it’s Tarantino, and when the guy wants to make a movie, in whichever way possible, you can’t help but come along for the ride too and just share his same sense of joy and pleasure. Since this is Tarantino’s attempt at trying to recapture, or for lack of a better word, “recreate” the same style as those before him, he uses a lot of the trademarks where the camera has little rips and tears throughout, making you feel as if you are sent right back into to the golden years, into those little, rinky-dink theaters that used to carry these unapologetically dumb movies around in order to find it’s audience. After awhile though, it starts to feel like a gimmick, which is why you can sort of tell that Tarantino gets bored with it as well as he changes things up around the second, and in my opinion, a lot more interesting second-half.

"Wanna go for a ride, TO HELL!!!!"

“Wanna go for a ride? The destination being HELL!!!”

However, before we even get to that second-half of the movie, we get to see Tarantino work his magic in a slow, melodic movement that sets the pace for the rest of the movie. Instead of popping out with guns ‘a blazin’ and blood shootin’ out of everywhere, Tarantino begins this film in a quiet, almost relaxed pace where we get to see these female characters talk one another, just like normal females would actually talk to each other. Now, I’m not sure that all girls out there in real-world talk as interestingly and witty as Tarantino makes them out to be here, but they still have conversations about the same topics as most women do like men, sex, food, and partyin’ it up. But Tarantino scripts it all in a way that you want to hear these gals talk it up and it almost doesn’t matter that it goes on for about 30 minutes at a time with barely little to no action to be seen. It’s very interesting and fun to hear them just speak about whatever the topic of discussion is, and somehow, makes us care for them a wee bit more especially when shit hits the fan.

And do trust me on that: Shit does in fact hit the fan here.

Although Tarantino’s dialogue doesn’t seem to miss a single beat with any of these characters, the action is what really takes the second-half and makes it the adrenaline-fueled experience I was expecting to see, but didn’t quite get until it totally blind-sided me out of nowhere. What I loved so much about the action bits here, is that they all felt really old-school, but in a way that wasn’t forced or trying too hard, but in a way that felt natural. The cars in this movie look great and make you really want to go out there and try your hand at a couple of 70’s-era muscle cars yourself. Then again though, they wouldn’t be of any use whatsoever if it wasn’t for the awesome car-chases that take over this flick, especially in the last half-hour. And when I mean the last half-hour, I mean: THE LAST HALF-HOUR.

What separates the car-chases in this movie, from the ones that we usually see in big-budget, action galore-fests, is that they feel necessary to the plot and these characters. Every character in this movie talks about their love and fondness of cars and how they love to get wild when they’re in and driving them, so that when they get on the roads and start going 90 mph down the freeway, you feel like it’s believable, as if they really do enjoy driving in these cars, at these very high speeds. And even the car-chases themselves get you going at a high-speed where you really feel like these are real people, driving real cars, on real roads, and actually have the fear of death in their minds while they’re at it. These scenes reminded me a lot of the one in Bullitt, where it just felt like it was actually happening, without any add-ons like unbelievable CGI or anything of that crappy nature. It gave me fear for these characters in the pit of my stomach, but even worse, it made me scared for myself the next time I get myself behind the wheel because I know that staying below 80, would be a little too hard.

But, even though this film kept me entertained, alive, and well for the most part, there was still something that I felt was missing from the product as a whole. I don’t really know what it was about this movie that just didn’t “get me” as much as all of Tarantino’s other flicks do, but it’s almost like the feeling wasn’t here as much as there is when he does something like Kill Bill or Inglorious Basterds, aka two passion-projects of his that he lets you never forget about, not even in a single-frame. Here, you can tell that he has some feeling and interest for what he’s displaying on-screen, but the passion and love just isn’t all there that much. Almost feels like he went through the motions in what he thought was cool, but didn’t want to get too carried away as he probably is saving them for a later film idea that he has brewing around in his crazy-ass head. Still love the guy, though. I always have to give him that.

THE FEET!! THE FEET!!

THE FEET!! THE FEET!!

Even though some of the feeling for this whole film may not be around, you can still tell that the cast has that feeling, and all do great jobs with what they’re given. This is probably the first time that Kurt Russell has ever went out there and been a straight-up baddie, but since he is a baddie in a Tarantino flick, he’s obviously not going be your typical, scenery-chewing a-hole where you can tell what he’s going to do, every second of the way. See, Russell plays around with this role a lot as he’s very mysterious, strange, creepy, charming, but also, a bit of a bitch when it comes right down to it and by the end, you’ll start to see that more and more. It’s an awesome performance from Russell that shows that the guy can still knock-out iconic pieces of work, no matter how old he gets.

All of the gals in this movie are great, but the one that really took me by surprise would have to stunt-woman Zoe Bell, playing, well, stunt-woman Zoe Bell. If you’ve never seen Bell in anything else before, don’t be ashamed, because you shouldn’t. The girl has never really been in front of the screen to where you can see her face and has been doing stunts for quite awhile, but here is where that all changed a bit. Here, Tarantino gives her more than she expected with a role that displays an endearing sense of charm and likability to her that works and makes me think about all of the other stunt-men and women out there that have to constantly be in films where they aren’t shown doing anything, other than pulling-off some pretty sick stunts. Maybe they like that, but then again, maybe some of them out there have some real, effin’ charm that needs to be seen, in order to be believed.

Consensus: Death Proof is certainly not anywhere near being Tarantino’s best, but still features plenty of his trademarks that make it a great flick and never seem to get old, even if the film itself is trying to set that example with the grungy, 70’s-look that can get a bit gimmicky and unnecessary at times. That said, it’s way better than Planet Terror.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

And Dom Toretto thinks he's all that and a bag of chips.

And Dom Toretto thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips.

To check out my buddy Brandon’s review of the other part of Grindhouse, Planet Terror, go on over to http://bkstareviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/planet-terror-movie-review.html and let him know what you think! You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Planet Terror (2007)

Muscle cars > zombie apocalypse.

Not all small towns get along, but especially this one that seems to be located somewhere in the heart of Texas. And just to make matters worse, they’re thrown up against the wall and supposed to fight off a ward of zombies after an odd, toxic biochemical is released onto them. Why? They don’t quite know yet, except for maybe the government may be involved. However, they can’t, and they won’t worry too much about it because they have bigger fish to fry. Or should I just say: Bigger “zombies” to fry? Yeah, it’s corny, but that’s what I’m going for!

The idea of having a chick having an M4 carbine assault-rifle for a leg is probably one of the dumber one’s out there, even as cool as it may sound. That is, unless, you’re a character in a Robert Rodriguez movie, then it makes it perfect sense because you’re just another part of his crazy, insane puzzle that never seems to end inside that guy’s head. And that’s not a complaint at all. I like what Rodriguez brings to the table, whether it be weird, straight-laced, or something new he’s trying out. However, when he’s supposed to be back in his “original form” and is going up against non other than Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself; he can’t help but feel tame in comparison.

Its just what happens when you go toe-to-toe with an even bigger nut, if that’s even imaginable.

"Walking Dead who?"

Walking Dead who?”

But, despite whoever you put Rodriguez up against in a movie, no matter what: The guy always knows how to have fun with his stories and direction, and it is no different here. It’s obvious that this is a mesh between the George A. Romero zombie-flicks, and the eerie, horror movies from John Carpenter, but it seems like Rodriguez is doing more than just an homage, and actually expanding on his own story, with his own quirks and trademarks thrown in there for a great deal as well. The guy lets loose on what we all know and love about him; people get shot-up to oblivion, body-parts come flying out of nowhere, corny-lines are exchanged, and distorted colors seem to make everything on-display trippier. Basically, everything you expect to see from a “Robert Rodriguez zombie flick” happens and is seen here. For that reason, it’s very fun and will keep your eyes alive on the screen for quite some time, even when it seems like Rodriguez is maybe going a little too “nutso” with his own material. Then again, he’s a film maker and he’s allowed to, so who the hell am I to judge?

But what I think ruins Rodriguez and his flick as a whole, is that when it’s stacked-up to Tarantino’s Death Proof, it really pales in comparison. Now, in a way, Death Proof and Planet Terror are both different from one another. Death Proof is a bit serious with its subtle-approach and as a result, feels very down-played, whereas Planet Terror goes absolutely gung-ho with it’s story and never loses it’s pace; Proof is very dialogue-heavy, with lines that are as witty as you’re going to get, whereas Terror has some of the cheesiest lines you’re ever going to hear, but it’s on-purpose; Proof is more about the tension, dialogue, and characters, whereas Terror is all about the action, blood, and violence. See, as much as the two stories may have in common with one another, you can’t help but notice how different they are as well. Whether or not that was deliberate on both of these guy’s parts is totally left up in the air, but I think that’s where this flick hits a hard-place. Or at least Rodriguez does, anyway.

Maybe because I’m speaking from my own point-of-view, my problems with this flick may be a bit biased, but when it comes right down to it: Tarantino is just more talented than Rodriguez in the long-run. Some may call that a no-brainer and some may not, but what I do know is that I feel like Tarantino has a lot more resilience when it comes to the movies that he wants to do and why, where as Rodriguez is a little too random and sporadic. Also, Tarantino has never done a Spy Kids movie so maybe that’s where the sake of the argument lies as well. But I digress.

So yes, both sort of have the same styles in how they let their movies play-out and even tell their own stories as well, but in the end, Tarantino just has something more to him that’s attention-grabbing and as interesting, as anything that Rodriguez has ever really done. Now, I’m not saying that anything Rodriguez has done in his career isn’t good by any means necessary, but Tarantino just has something about him and his movies that make you want to go out there, start writing on a piece of paper, and start making your own movies. In a way, Rodriguez’s films can do that as well, but Tarantino is the automatically first guy I think about when it comes to inspirations/favorite directors.

Fairly uncomfortable I'd suppose, considering he "assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg" situation.

Fairly uncomfortable I’d suppose, considering he “assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg” situation.

Aside from that whole “Rodriguez vs. Tarantino” rant, the reason why Planet Terror just isn’t as good as I would have liked for it to have been was because it’s stacked-up against something that Tarantino did, and that movie’s name is Death Proof. Granted, Proof was no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it kept me alive, intrigued, and best of all, entertained the whole time; whereas with this flick, I felt myself, as well as itself, just meander along and didn’t really offer me anything new that I haven’t already seen done 100 times before in other, and sometimes, “better” zombie movies. That’s not to say that this flick isn’t any fun at all, because trust me: It is. Its just is a time-burner for the sake of being a time-burner and there’s nothing else to it other than that. Kind of disappointing when you think how this is by the same guy who did From Dusk Till Dawn, among many others, but I guess that’s what happens when you go up against a guy who’s won Best Original Screenplay more than once.

Where this film does feel a lot like a Tarantino movie, is in it’s characters that are goofy, wild, and fun as hell to watch. Rose McGowan fits perfectly as Cherry, the ex-stripper/wanna-be comedienne, because of her physical presence (her early strip-scene is one of the hottest openings I’ve seen in a long, long time), and her comedic-timing is actually pretty good which makes the whole idea of her being a “stand-up comedienne” seem pretty convincing. Freddy Rodríguez is alright as Wray, Cherry’s bad-boy, and does what he can but comes off as a bit of a stiff dude, without any real presence on-screen. Most of that screen-presence is used very well by steadied-pros like Michael Biehn, Josh Brolin, and even a short, but lovable cameo from Bruce Willis. A pretty stacked-cast and everybody kicks it pretty hard here, but its a real surprise to me that the only one who really comes out on-top is Kurt Russell. And hell, that guys from a whole other movie!

Consensus: Robert Rodriguez injects Planet Terror with his signature style of goofy, over-the-top, wild fun that we all like to see in all of his movies, but can’t really stand-up against Tarantino’s far better, more interesting piece of work known as Death Proof. Sorry Robert. Quentin’s just more of a crazier son of a bitch than you are when it comes right down to it.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Don't worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds."

“Don’t worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds.”

To check out my buddy Brandon’s review of the other part of Grindhouse, Death Proof, go on over to http://bkstareviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/death-proof-movie-review.html and let him know what you think! You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

Next time, make sure you spare some change.

Believe it or not, the flick is actually about a homeless man (Rutger Hauer) who hops aboard a train into a city that was once called “Hope City”, but has suddenly turned into a place that they have been now calling, “Scum City”. And scummy, is exactly what it is. People are killing one another, public terror seems to be an on-going feeling throughout the community, and it is all ran by a powerful kingpin named Drake (Brian Downey). The hobo finds himself thrown into all of this madness and violence and decided that he’s had about enough, especially once he’s set his sights on a single-barrel shotgun in a pawn store during a hold-up once all of this vigilante killing begins.

Much to my surprise, after thinking that this flick was non-other than a shitty-attempt at trying to be like the sloppy, “grindhouse” movies that Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino strive so hard to go for every now and then, I actually found out that the director of this flick, Jacob Eisener, won a contest where his trailer would be attached to Grindhouse back in ’07. I’m assuming that the buzz for it was positive because here we had it, almost 4 years later and instead of being a less-than two-minute trailer, we had a movie that was less than a-half-an-hour. Like the movie it was attached to; a neat idea, just bad execution.

"Screw you Wal-Mart employee! I found it first!

“Screw you Wal-Mart employee! I found it first!

And when I say the word “bad”, I don’t mean it in the way that it’s actually going for, I mean in a way that the movie can’t really be enjoyed all that much because it seems to try so damn hard. Listen, I get it: the movie obviously wants to pay homage to those old-school, shit-fests of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s by being deliberately bad and cheap-looking, but all of the time and effort into making that happen, can only go so far. Eventually, it just seems like that’s all Eisener has going for himself and the movie he’s directing. The dude definitely has a vision that’s as grimy and raunchy as they come, but just topping all of that off with random spurs of violence, rape, gore, and mass-killings, only makes it seem like a waste of a smart sense of style.

That’s where the real shame in this movie actually comes; from the fact that Eisener seems like an inspired-choice for this type of movie, but just can’t get it fully together. The look of the movie is odd, but in a good way. Certain colors are distorted to give you the grainy feel of those oldies, but also to place you in a world that’s almost too barbaric to be considered reality. It’s as if once the hobo got on that train and got off of it, he landed in a world inside of his own head where violence, havoc, panic, and crime occurred almost every wee-bit second of the day. It’s a pretty strange atmosphere that Eisener sets up, as well as one that works in a freaky type of way; it just can’t sustain a whole movie, no matter how short or tepid it may be.

Once the killings do occur and blood and gore spills everywhere, the film has some fun with itself and allowed me to join in on it as well. There’s nothing like watching an old man, with a shotgun, going around and killing people that seem to deserve it the most. Films like Super and Kick-Ass, that are somewhat similar to this, are perfect examples of a movie that has it’s fair-share of gory, unabashed violence, but isn’t afraid to go one step further and talk about what it is that it’s portraying on-screen, and why, in a way, it’s the wrong thing to be watching. For some viewers, they may seem arrogant, but for me, it’s a smart move on the parts of the writers, a smart move that the writers nor Eisener seemed to even bother with here. And honestly, not every movie that has blood-soaked moments of pure, vigilante violence needs to do itself justice and have a point, but the way it was portrayed here, in a negative light, it almost felt like we were going to get that one key moment where we finally got a chance to hear and see “what the story was really all about”, but nope, it never happened.

Instead, Eisener and his gang seem more involved and inspired with giving us bits and pieces of violence that literally have us feeling as if we just got hit with the red paint, almost as much as the actors/actresses in the actual movie. Maybe fun for a Saturday night-viewing with a bunch of your drunken-pals, but for somebody who was just lounging out on the couch on a Monday afternoon, it does seem like a bit of a disappointment.

Happens to me all of the time.

Happens to me all of the time.

But somehow, someway, that’s where Rutger Hauer came in and saved the day with his oddly-subtle performance as the Hobo. Hauer isn’t doing anything ground-breaking or original with his role that we haven’t seen done before, especially by him, but at least he gives us more than what it seems like the script is asking for. That scene in the hospital where’s talking to all of the newborns is surprisingly compelling, even as missed-place it may be, being in a movie about a hobo who runs around, wielding a shotgun in hand and killing people. Actually, that’s pretty much all of Hauer’s performance, as it feels like he’s doing a lot better than the script needs for him to do, but being the pro that he is, he knows what’s up and gives it his all. Besides, when’s the last time you saw a flick titled “Starring Rutger Hauer”? Exactly.

And then of course, everybody else in this flick is completely bonkers; aka, exactly what the script is calling on them to do, which means they are neither good nor bad, just here. Brian Downey is crazy as Drake, the head honcho who runs the town and knows what goes into it and comes out of it; the latter of which is mostly made through his disposal. He’s having the most fun out of everybody, as well as Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman, who both play his sons that want to be just like him and commit just as much violence and crime as he does, except they do it to show who’s the better of the two. By the end of the day, nobody is really better than the other, although I was happy to see that Allen from Small Soldiers had a career that didn’t consist of talking to action figures that sounded like Richard Nixon. Poor guy. His career went all downhill after the Gorgonites left.

Consensus: Though it delivers on most of the insanely cheesy, B-movie gore, thrills, chills and splatter-moments that it promised right from the first trailer, Hobo With a Shotgun gets old after a long while and it’s all because the movie seems like a carbon-copy of what Rodriguez and Tarantino have been doing for years, but have pulled off more effortlessly.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"They just had to fuck up now?!?!"

“They just had to fuck up now?!?!”

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Just eat cakes! Who cares if she said it or not!

If you were the one who fell asleep during “the French portion” of World History Class, don’t worry; this movie has you covered. Kirsten Dunst plays the Archduchess of Austria and soon-to-be Queen of France from her beginning days where her and her husband, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) struggle to bang and get pregnant, to the latter where she had a whole country demanding her head. Funny how time changes, isn’t it?

Even though I know the song about her, and I know the (untrue) statement she apparently made, I still know a lot about Marie Antoinette; who she was, what she did, and all of the other background shizz about her. No, it’s not that I’m some weird dude who enjoys looking up historical figures, it’s mainly because the class I’m taking now for college, just got done covering her, France at the time, and the aftermath. So, yeah, basically: I know my shit.

Apparently, by the looks of it, Sofia Coppola doesn’t. There were plenty of times in this flick where I wanted to slap her, or slap something by all of the historical inaccuracies here, solely for the fact that it probably would have helped the film. I get that Coppola couldn’t be any less concerned with the nitty-bitty details of M-A’s life, but when you have a movie that’s focusing on making her a sympathetic/real person; you need to have all of those details in there and not simply make random shit up. I don’t mind when a movie does that just for shits and gigs, but it didn’t feel right here. It felt like Coppola tried to do whatever she could to keep this movie fun, entertaining, and interesting, but even taking liberties with the story didn’t seem to help either. Something else was going on here that I still need to put my finger on.

Ehh, I've seen bigger and more lush!

Ehh, I’ve seen bigger and more lush!

Coppola has that certain style to her directing and writing that works wonders, and other times; totally misses the mark. Here’s one of the latter-instances. Coppola is a gifted-filmmaker in the way that she is able to tell a story and an emotion, not just through having the characters say something, but by giving us a visual or a single-shot that convey whatever it is that she wants to convey. She’s one of the very-rare filmmakers that can do that now, and actually get away with it without being labeled as “pretentious”, “snobby”, or “an artsy-farsty mofo”. However, it doesn’t aid in her in anyway here, and makes the story seem duller instead.

For instance, there are plenty of scenes where it seems as if Coppola didn’t really seem to worry too much about the story, and decided to focus on what made the movie look pretty. It works, that’s for sure, but it does seem like over-kill and a bit of a waste, considering that this is a 2 hour film, that’s primarily dedicated to shots of Dunst playing in the grass and looking happy. Once again, doesn’t matter if you want to pull off a good shot once or twice, but when it starts to take over the rest of the movie and get rid of the substance, then it gets dull. Very, very dull.

But I can’t talk too much crap on Coppola and her visuals, because she does a hell of a great job with them. Not only is this movie beautiful from head-to-toe, but it’s also very impressive by all that it was able to capture on film. Apparently Coppola was actually able to film in and out of the actual Versailles, which is an opportunity that Coppola does not take for granted, considering she makes us feel as if we really are with all of these high-class, royal S.O.B’s, and watching them as they party, drink, smoke, have sex, fondle, and play games as if they were at a P. Diddy party.

Oh, and they are all doing it to the sweet tunes of whatever the hell Coppola had on her iPod at the time of filming. In the beginning of the flick, we get a bits and pieces of actual, alternative-rock songs playing somewhere in the background, but for the most part; Coppola keeps it cool with the anachronisms. Then, out of nowhere, Coppola seems to have had enough with 18th Century ways, and decides to unleash what she’s got ringing in her ears, and it’s all thanks to that Bow Wow Wow song that you’ve heard a million times (and done better by this guy, by the way). After this track comes seemingly out of nowhere, then Coppola goes ball to the walls with any punk rock/alt. rock song in the history of man that she can find, and it works more than it doesn’t, because it actually glues you into the party-atmosphere that these snobs seem to be reveling in. Goes to show you that Tarantino and Luhrmann aren’t alone when it comes to using songs randomly, but perfectly to fit a tone.

The fact that Coppola was able to make this story more centered towards M-A, what she went through, how she got through it, and all of the problems she had to overcome, worked in most areas, but didn’t in others. The areas that it did work in were all thanks to Kirsten Dunst as M-A because she gives not only a great performance that shows her being young, nimble, wild, and free to do whatever she wants and (sort of) get away with it, but it’s also a very subtle one in the way that she’s able to convey so many feelings this lady must have been going through in real-life. The fact that M-A was so young when she got married, was forced to get pregnant, and basically thrown on the throne as queen is something that makes you think about how she got over all of it, but also makes you feel for her a bit, the same way you would want someone to feel for you, had you been thrown into the same situation. This part of the character is where Dunst works best in and once the movie decides to drop the champagne, the cakes, and the sex-games, then that’s when Dunst decides to take herself a bit seriously and you see a young girl who has seemingly come into her own. However, as we all know: it was too little, too late for her.

"Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year."

“Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year.”

In a role that seemed more like an in-joke, rather than anything worth even taking seriously, Jason Schwartzman does fine with what he has to do as Louis XVI, but the movie isn’t all that bothered with him or his character. The whole first-half of the movie is practically dedicated to him just being a pansy, not being able to make love to his wife, and knocking her up. Once that’s all said and done with, then the guy is shown as a pansy who can’t keep his wife satisfied and basically allows for her to stay at these parties where she (presumably) bangs other dudes. Don’t know how much of that is actually true, but from what I’m able to gather: Louis XVI was a bit of a wimp.

The rest of the cast is fine and seem like they had a great time going on the set for a little play-date they liked to call dress-up. Rip Torn plays the philandering king to perfection because he’s grimy as you could imagine; Asia Argento loves scumming it up as the whore that the king is philandering with; Judy Davis does her usual, weird-face thingy that we all know her for; and Steve Coogan is here as well, but not really doing anything funny. When you have “The Coogs” in a movie, I don’t care what it is: you have to make him do or say something in the least-bit funny. Without any of that, what’s the point of even having him around in the first-place? Just for show? Baloney!

Consensus: Coppola’s style and vision slows the feel and pace of Marie Antoinette down, especially when it doesn’t need to, but at least it’s still left to be seen with it’s beautiful look, desired-attention to the finer-details (talking about the set-pieces, not the actual story), and fine performance from Dunst in the lead role, that showed that she was maturing more and more by the roles she began to take.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"One day, you're going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, just like your mother was."

“One day, you’re going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, who wasted all of her country’s money on lavish parties to satisfy your boredom.”

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…..”

Django Unchained (2012)

DjangoUnchainedPosterNo way the dirty South could have been this dirty. Could it have been?

Jamie Foxx stars as the titular character named Django, who is an escaped slave who teams up with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Let’s just get it all out in the open and out of the way for everybody to see and understand before I jump any further into this review: this was my most anticipated flick of the year. Obviously, I’m not much different from others out there in the movie-world, and it’s probably no shock to any of you out there who know that Quentin Tarantino is one, if not my favorite writers/directors working today. This has been a passion-project of his since day 1 and it only seems right that after knocking-out homers left-and-right over the past 20 years, that he finally get to do, what he does best: showing us a little piece of his sick, but original mind.

Everything you see in this flick is exactly what you would expect from a Tarantino flick: crazy characters, wacky dialogue, oodles of violence, ironic use of pop-music, homages to classic flicks that only he and about 5 others actually “get”, and a huge deal of suspense, that almost seems to come out of nowhere. These are the staples of Tarantino’s flicks and as much as they have came-out to be nothing short of expected by now, that still is in no way, shape or form an insult or negative about Tarantino and this movie, because it’s still freakin’ awesome and probably the most original flick I’ve seen all year.

The topic of racism is what really stands in the front of the line with this movie and even though the flick basically takes place during 1858, in the South where slavery runs high and mighty amongst rich, white men, the topic is never used to be thoughtful, or even used as a metaphor for the world we are in now. It’s basically used as another tool for Tarantino to show loads and loads of gruesome/graphic violence and actually give it meaning, rather than throw it at the screen and hoping that it will make sense in the grander scheme of things. Nope, Tarantino’s not all about that and anybody who complained about Inglorious Basterds not being the action-packed, gore-ride they were expecting from QT, then he will definitely shut you up with this one because every piece of violence here, is bloody, gory, and ever so stylized, as we can always expect from Tarantino. Sometimes it’s almost too vicious to watch but hey, that’s not a bad thing considering this is coming from a movie who’s director had 15-minutes of a movie dedicated to a chick hacking-up people, all-over-the-place, with a samurai sword, of all weapons to choose.

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858....

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858….

The violence in this movie definitely stands-out among the rest of what Tarantino uses here, but the script is even better and is classic-Tarantino, at it’s finest. As usual, we get a lot of the witty, catchy-banter between characters that seems almost too energetic to be true, but Tarantino really works himself hard as a writer, especially with this movie, because he actually goes somewhere we never really expected him to in the first-place: comedy. Yeah, it may seem like a bit of a head scratcher that I would talk about how much comedy Tarantino uses and how it surprised the hell out of me because with the flicks that he’s done over the years, it would seem like he’s been doing comedy forever. To be honest, Tarantino has always had a knack for incorporating a great-deal of humor into his scripts, but not as obvious and not as important as it is used here. There are so many scenes here that just had me laughing, not just because Tarantino is doing something that only I, as a movie-geek, actually get, but more or less because he is actually trying to make me laugh and it worked so, so very well.

However, as much as he may put the emphasis on comedy this time-around, Tarantino still never forgets to switch things up and make it more dark and serious, and the tonal-changes are swift, unnoticeable, and always deserved. You know once Tarantino gets into his “serious mode”, then all of the violence and, in a way, more comedy actually comes about since this is the type of material that Tarantino strives for and always seems to have a blast with. Certain scenes would really catch me off-guard because here I would be expecting it to be a scene where a couple of people are sittin’ around, shootin’ the shit, and basically being a bunch of goof balls, but then would all of a sudden change into this very dark and tense scene, where all hell is about to break-loose and anybody you actually care about in this movie, could be gone as quick as you can say the word, “dead”. Seriously, just that snap of a finger, and all of a sudden a scene does a total 180 where we don’t even know what to expect. That sure unpredictability is exactly what I come to expect from Tarantino and it’s put to good-use here, so many damn times that I was literally sweating with tension at-times. The idea of not knowing where a film is going to land next, is always my favorite-aspect of a movie and here, it’s only better because it’s Tarantino and this guy always seems to have a blast with just fucking around with the audience, their minds, and their moods. That damn Tarantino! He’s always so snarky.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, btw.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, by the way.

Even if Tarantino seems to be having a ball with this movie, he’s not having the most fun. Actually, that utter sense of joy and pleasure goes right to the ensemble cast, who are all amazing, well-picked, and having the time of their lives just doing what they do best: act their asses off. When I first heard about Jamie Foxx’s casting as Django, I thought it was a tad unoriginal, and just another-way for Foxx to go around, acting all cool and jive, while wearing a cowboy hat. You know, in an ironic-way. I wasn’t really-looking forward to seeing him play this role, but you know what? Foxx kicks-ass in it and it’s a huge wonder as to why I ever doubted the dude in the first-place. Foxx isn’t as front-and-center with this story as you may think, but whenever he does get the time to shine and do his own thing, he owns it, and doesn’t even have to say anything. Sometimes the emotions on his face tell it all and as easy it is to make us feel something for a slave that wants to be free and get his wife back, it’s even easier to make us feel something for a character that we know can fight his own battles and not ask for sympathy. Django, in terms of the actual-character, is the perfect, Spaghetti Western cowboy, because he’s soft-spoken, cool, but always has something witty to say on his mind. And Foxx owns that role to a T.

In the past 3 years, ever since Basterds hit the theaters and made Christoph Waltz a bona-fide star, it seems like Hollywood has never been able to capitalize on the guy’s real talents as a serious and dramatic actor. However, Tarantino knows how to use the guy best and shows that with every-line of dialogue that comes out of this man’s mouth. Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz, the nicer-version of Hans Landa, but still is just as sadistic and smart. What makes Schultz such a great character is that the guy is always one-step ahead of everybody else around him. He always knows to act in every situation, he always knows the right things to say, he always knows how to keep his cool, when shit starts to get heavy, but the most-important factor of his character out of all, is that he always knows how to kill anybody that stands in his way. He’s a violent bastard that seems like the type of guy you want to be bounty hunters with, but as time goes on and he starts to have heavier obstacles thrown in his way, Schultz starts to fold under pressure and show how sometimes, Django is better-suited for certain situations. It’s a great dynamic the two characters have, and it’s heightened even more, mainly because of the pitch-perfect chemistry between the two that always seems to feature the best lines in the whole movie.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

I was mainly looking forward to this movie for many, many reasons, but I think the most, out of all, surprisingly, was the fact that this was Leonardo DiCaprio’s first, main-role as a villain in lord only knows how long, here as Calvin Candie. I’ve always been a huge fan of Leo and all that he’s been able to do in the past decade or so, but even I will admit, his act seemed to get a little stiff by the 10th time he played a confused, and troubled victim of something bad being played against him. It was the same-old routine in almost every movie he seemed to sign-up for and even though the guy did awesome with that routine, it started to become glaringly old, and a role as a campy, over-the-top slave owner, in a QT film, sounded like the perfect-way to spice things up in the dude’s career. And damn, was I ever so happy that I was right about that sweet, soothing sound.

DiCaprio is, well, how should I put it? Perfect in a role like this. Calvin Candie is cunning, funny, campy, and very, very sly in his way of handling himself through every situation he’s put into but you can always tell that there’s something darker lying beneath the surface and the way DiCaprio handles all of that, is probably the best-acting he’s done in awhile. DiCaprio doesn’t just explode with anger, rage, and energy whenever the camera’s on him. No, he just lets it sit there, watching him, letting us know his character, all that he is, all that he does, and all that he can be, if he has to turn the other-cheek and be an evil asshole like we all expect him to be. Eventually, Candie does turn into that evil asshole we expected to see from him right-away, but DiCaprio is so good and so masterful at portraying it, that you really cannot take your eyes off of him. No matter how hard anybody else around him actually tries, DiCaprio is the one that steals the spotlight in every scene he has, and it’s just perfect to watch, especially coming from a guy who’s been wanting a role like this for Leo, for the longest-time. When he loses his shit, he loses it in the most-hardcore way of all and demands your attention, rather than simply asking for it, in the kind-way, Candie likes to fool people with. I really don’t think I can hit the head on the nail as much as I have already, but I’m just going to leave my whole two, orgasm paragraphs on Leo by saying this: that motherfucker deserves the Oscar this year. I’m done, I’ve said it, and yet, I still feel like I haven’t said enough! Aaaaahhhh! Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect. End. Of. Story.

"Listen, bitch!! I'm Samuel L. Jackson, and I'm just loud! Get used to it!"

“Listen, bitch!! I’m Samuel L. Jackson, and I’m just loud! Get used to it!”

Now that that is over with, let me move onto everybody else that deserves a bit of a shine from the spotlight as well. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be another-one in this cast that’s having a ball as the head house slave Stephen, a total Uncle Tom from head-to-toe in terms of appearance, and mental-state also. From the first-shot of the guy, Samuel L. is almost unrecognizable as Stephen, but as time goes on, you get it in your head that it is Samuel L., doing his funny-as-hell, loud yelling and screaming that we always expect from the guy and it’s just so great to watch, especially since it seems like Samuel L. in his comfort-zone. I don’t know if the guy ever left to begin-with, but watching him just have a blast with a role and take over the screen like he does, is always a joy to watch in my book.

Kerry Washington was a bit of a disappointment to watch as Django’s baby girl, Broomhilda Von Shaft (trust me, see the movie and you’ll understand), not just because she isn’t featured in the movie a lot, but mainly because she doesn’t have as much of a screen-presence as everybody else in this flick seems to have. And that’s especially weird to have coming out of my fingertips, considering this is a QT movie and the guy always has kick-ass, female characters to show off. Don’t get me wrong, Washington is still good with her role but doesn’t really get much to do other than cry, yell, and looked terrified the whole-time. There’s so many more faces and stars in this cast that are worth mentioning and bringing to your attention but seriously, just go see the movie for yourself and realize that Tarantino is not only perfect when it comes to writing and directing, but also casting. The guy’s just got it all and all of these rumors of a possible, early-retirement has me scared shitless. Oh well, let’s just hope he keeps on churning out movies until he can’t no mo.

Consensus: Some trimming of the fat needed to be done here and there with Django Unchained, but for a movie that is 2 hours and 40 minutes and is never, for a second, ever boring or uninteresting, I have to say that’s pretty damn a-okay with me, especially if it’s a Tarantino movie, where fun, violence, comedy, cheekiness, homages, and pop-culture references all come together, in one beautiful, original blender of ideas.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy it and enjoy the presents you may or may not get from Santa!

The Man With the Iron Fists (2012)

It would have totally been better if the rest of Wu-Tang was here. Even you, ODB. Even you.

In feudal China, small village’s blacksmith (RZA) is forced by radical tribal factions to create elaborate tools of destruction. When the clans’ brewing war boils over, the stranger channels an ancient energy to transform himself into a human weapon. As he fights alongside iconic heroes and against soulless villains, one man must harness this power to become savior of his adopted people.

With Wu-Tang Clan madman RZA directing, co-writing with Eli Roth, and having Quentin Tarantino produce, The Man With the Iron Fists definitely seemed like something in my backyard. I love the old, kung-fu movies that RZA obviously loves and pay homages to here, and the story itself just seemed like the perfect fit for a mixture of those oldies, with the new, gore-tastic days of today. Sadly, all of that hype and promise lead to it being just another passion-project, that never goes it’s full-distance.

Apparently during post-production of this movie, RZA threw a huge fit because he had to cut-down a 4 and-a-half hour movie, to an hour and-a-half. To be honest, I don’t blame the guy because that is a butt-load of footage and seems like the type of job I wouldn’t want being told to do, especially if it was my own movie. However, I think that’s the problem this film hits in the first-place: it’s WAY too cut-down. What I mean by this is that certain characters will just show-up for 5 minutes, and apparently have some sort of significance to the plot, without us ever realizing it. It almost seems like there were all of these back-stories meant for these types of characters, but weren’t there for the final-cut, so instead, we get a bunch of characters that don’t really do anything for the plot other than just show-up, speak their lines, and get killed.

That element of this movie, and the fact that the story is pretty confusing is the reason as to why the cutting of this film hurts the final-product. Throughout the first hour or so, it’s never made clear as to who the villains are, who the heroes are, and just who the hell this story is going to be focused on. The Man With the Iron Fists himself, doesn’t really get much of a spot-light until the last 30 minutes or so to where he all of a sudden means a lot to the premise because of something bad that happens to him. I mean, there was an idea of who the bad guys were because of who they killed, how they did it, and what their intentions were, but after awhile, it just became a bit confusing and made me wonder just who was important to this story and who wasn’t. Once again, there was probably plenty of footage developing these characters and their story-lines a lot more, but sadly, didn’t make the final-cut and are just kind of left lost on the cutting-room floor. Poor scenes, maybe there’s a director’s cut in the future. Maybe.

Where the story fails, however, is where the action of this movie prevails and definitely made this a lot of an easier ride as it went through. Even though the whole story is filled with little bits and pieces of action here and there, the final 30 minutes is where all of it really comes into play and tears down the house and shows RZA’s true eye for fun and entertainment. The kung-fu is goofy with a lot of wire-work used to the point of where it almost seems like self-parody; the music is a mixture of hip-hop and some score music, even though it’s not entirely like the same soundtrack RZA used for Kill Bill, and gives every scene a pretty cool, retro feel while still keeping it current; and the gore/blood is pretty awesome and shows that there was a huge Roth inspiration going-on throughout this flick the whole time. All three of these factors is why I enjoyed the last 30 minutes of this flick because instead of focusing on a crappy and confusing plot, with crappy and confusing characters, we get what we came for: bloody, crazy, and fun action without any logical-reasoning as to why all of these people are flying in the air other than the fact that they are in a kung-fu movie.

Even though these action scenes are the only times the movie really comes to life, the cast does do their best to try and help-out, but end up getting over-shadowed. Lucy Liu is having the same type of fun with this role, as she had with the one in Kill Bill, and that’s all fine and dandy until you realize that the gal isn’t really trying anything new, other than working with a lesser-script, and no offense bud, but lesser-director as well. The only one who seems to be having the most fun, and brings that out onto the audience is Russell Crowe as an English mercenary, Jack Knife (gedd it?!?). Crowe is such a weird-pick for this role, but seems like the perfect-fit once you see him because he knows what movie he’s in, what role he’s playing, and what’s expected of him to make it work. Even though Crowe kicked plenty of ass in Gladiator, it still doesn’t make him any type of martial-artist master, but still shows that he can be as sinister and dangerous as he was in that classic. Yeah, it’s only been 12 years and I’m already calling that one a classic.

As a director, RZA may not be the unstoppable force to be reckoned with, but at least he still tries to maintain that credit as an actor. Sadly, his role is mainly just him keeping that one, signature, sullen-look we all know and love him for but sadly, doesn’t allow us to really stand-behind automatically, despite him being our main hero that we’re supposed to cheer for. Thankfully, though, RZA knows this and doesn’t take the center spot-light, which is pretty respectable in my opinion. Also, it was pretty neat to see former-WWE wrestler Dave Bautista show-up somewhere again as a bad-ass that can’t be stopped. I miss the hell out of that guy and it’s nice to see him doing movies now, even though a guy who turns to bricks and only has about 12 lines of dialogue isn’t the ideal role out there for a pro-wrestler. But hey, how many movies has John Cena showed-up in this year? Exactly.

Consensus: If it weren’t for the final 30 minutes of this movie where everything finally comes to head and is fun, exciting, and bloody just like we expected, The Man With the Iron Fists would have definitely been a huge-disappointment because of it’s lack of distinctive-style, sense of plot, or sense of characters. Instead, it just comes off as a minor-disappointment.

6/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Descent (2005)

As if cave-diving couldn’t get any freakier.

In a remote mountain range, six girlfriends meet for their yearly adventure, a caving trip into the arteries of the earth. The group makes their way through the remote cave system, enjoying the hazardous but beautiful surroundings. However, they end-up trapped after a break in the cave and somehow find their problems with a bunch of humanoid-like creatures that have come to eat them alive.

I don’t know about any of you out there, but cave-diving is definitely not one of the main things I feel like I need to do in my life before I die. That’s mainly because it’s terribly claustrophobic and the idea that I could get stuck down there without anybody ever really being able to save me is just all the more frightening and gives me more of a reason not to do it. However, I can now add weird-looking, albino creatures to that list of reasons as well.

That whole fear of claustrophobia is what writer/director Neil Marshall taps into very well and what kept me so damn interested from start-to-finish. Actually, the first 45 minutes or so is just all about these gals crawling down small-ass caves and barely making it out is what kept me watching and wondering just when shit is finally going to blow-off. Thankfully, once shit does start to blow-off, it blows-off in a way that doesn’t feel cheap or unnecessary whatsoever, and that’s the way I like my horror movies, man.

I’m just going to go right out and say it, but this movie surprised the hell out of me. Before I saw it, I knew it was going to be good but what really got me the most was how the transition from cave-diving spectacle, to full-on escape/action-flick felt realistic and just kept me involved so much more. Maybe calling it an escape/action-flick isn’t doing the whole “horror-element” of this film any justice, mainly because I feel like that was the weakest part of the movie. Some of the scares here are effective and come out of nowhere at times, but other times, feel calculated as if you know Marshall was going to get us with a boo-scare eventually because I mean honestly, is he going to go that against the typical, North American-view of horror movies? That’s not really a rip on Marshall, necessarily, because a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do in some cases, but it definitely seemed like something was clicking for me enough on that end to really hit me hard.

What did hit me hard was when Marshall decides to kick his story into high-gear and allow us to sit on-the-edge-of-our-seats wondering just what the hell is going to happen next, as we await each and every one of these girls’ impending dooms. That’s a terrible thing to say about characters in a horror movie, but here, you just feel like nothing is going to go right for them but that’s where this movie surprises you: these beotches fight back and actually kick some ass. This is where the movie becomes very unpredictable as not everyone here feels like a damsel-in-distress who needs to be saved from her knight in shining armor. They can all stick up for themselves and give these weird-looking S.O.B’s a run for their money in terms of killing bitches one-by-one.

And god, did all of this action and craziness just look so bloody, beautiful. Since a lot of this film is shown through night-lights and flash-lights that the girls bring around with them, there’s very few chances for Marshall to really get artsy at all with this look and feel for the movie, but he somehow finds a way to, in a very horror-ish kind of way. I don’t want to go right out there and state that this is a gory film, because it really isn’t, but still does use gore when it’s needed and really stays in your head, long after it’s over. You don’t see too many colors, but when they do show-up, they are usually in red and green and both colors have a distinct-look that makes this film a hell of a lot more creepier than it already was before. Even when the blood and gore does somehow find it’s way into the movie, it feels deserved and never for once feels like Marshall’s way of just throwing ketchup around, just for the sake of doing so. No, he’s no Eli Roth and I don’t know if that’s a good thing, or bad thing. I think I’m starting to go with the 1st thought. Sorry Eli, you can always depend on Tarantino to keep your relevant.

And where Roth follows the usual conventions of horror-movies, Marshall necessarily does not, in terms of the cast that he picks. It may come off as a big surprise to most people seeing this movie, but this full female-cast actually worked in Marshall’s favor because it not only provides a larger-sense of danger and unpredictability for these gals, but also allows us to get to know them before we go off and see them shipped-away to cannibals. The whole cast is pretty damn good, with Shauna Macdonald doing the best job here as Sarah, a woman who’s kid and husband died a year before she goes out cave-diving. What I liked so much about Macdonald here is that the girl really seemed like she was going to annoy the shit out of me the whole way, but suddenly, grasps a change of heart and decides to fuck-up everything that stands in her way and it’s great to watch as she goes through this transformation, and even better because you know it’s all done by a female, not a masculine piece of crap like a male.

However, everything was going fine and dandy for me in this straight-forward horror flick, that was until, Marshall decided to pull a High Tension-twist ending on me and ruined half of my experience. Without giving too much away, I’m just going to go right out and state that the whole twist to the movie makes it feel a bit cheap and as if Marshall had that bright idea go off in his head that made him think that twist-endings really spice the whole story up once it’s all said and done. It doesn’t really give us our traditional, Hollywood ending we’re all so happy and used to seeing, but it’s not that element of the ending that bothers me, it’s just the fact that it doesn’t seem needed and could have just ended in a way that didn’t need any more interpretation whatsoever. This is horror people, not a Kubrick film.

Consensus: High Tension fully functions as a tense, edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride that is unrelenting in the violence and gore it shows, doesn’t show, and keeps you waiting for, even if the pay-off may not be what you would want the most from a film of this nature.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

See, this would have never happened if more people had cats!

Colin Farrell stars as a struggling screenwriter named Marty, who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu.

Even though I heard a lot of hype surrounding it way back in 2008, In Bruges still surprised the hell out of me. Not only was it hilarious and violent (the way I like my mobster-like movies), but also surprisingly touching considering the characters were just a bunch of cold-blooded hit-men when you think about it. That was easily one of my favorite movies of that year and that is why I was looking forward so much to seeing what writer/director Martin McDonagh could do next. Thankfully, it’s the same type of stuff around again but this time, with dogs. Even better.

What I liked most about McDonagh’s script and what he does with this story, is he pulls no punches, and makes no apologies for where he goes with it. Right from that memorable first scene, we already know what we are getting ourselves involved with: a slightly off-kilter, type of movie that will kill when it needs to. That’s how I like my crime movies and this one is no different, but there’s more of a darker-edge to it that really works, especially in the comedy-aspect of this movie. There are a couple of jokes here and there that will really fly by people (as it did to me), but what always hit me hard was when McDonagh would have his characters practically dissect what it is that we usually see in movies that are in the same vein as this one, or In Bruges for that matter.

This is made possible because of the fact that Farrell’s character is a movie screen-writer, working on a script while all of this crazy shit is happening, which allows McDonagh to not only go balls-out in the fantasy sequences, but give his own two-cents on what it’s like to make a crime movie that has so many obvious conventions that it’s almost too hard to stray away from. Not only do I love it when movies take certain cheap-shots at movies themselves, but I love when they do it and it’s hilarious, which is exactly what this movie and it’s something I don’t think I’ve stressed enough about this movie. The humor is as dark as you can get, but a lot of other humor bits are intentional and they still work no matter where they are placed in this story. Trust me, you won’t get every single line of funny dialogue, but with the ones you do get, you’ll still be happy and laughing your ass off.

However, as you could expect, it’s not all that sunshine and games with McDonagh and his story as it does get very gruesome at points and may even take you by surprise to the limits it goes. That’s right, characters that you don’t expect to get killed off, do in-fact, get killed off and as heartbreaking and unexpected as it may be sometimes, it still furthers the story on and makes you realize that this is a writer/director that takes no prisoners. This not only adds an extra-level of suspense onto the film, but a whole other layer of heart and emotion to these characters as you feel like any scene with them, could quite literally be their last. It’s something that McDonagh pulls off perfectly and reminded me that this is the type of writer/director we need more of for the crime-genre.

Another thing that more crime-movies should definitely have is an ensemble that we can literally not stop watching. This is exactly what Seven Psychopaths has, and then some. Colin Farrell, once again, stars and plays one of the more cowardly guys in the film, but is the straight-man here, more than anything else as Marty (teehee, gedd it?). Farrell is not only great at playing the straight-man, but also lets a couple of his own weird laughs come through as well and it’s great to once again see this guy stretch his comedy-strength, but also still be able to show that he has what it takes to make an endearing character that we still care for in the end. The only difference between this character, and the one he played in In Bruges, is that we sort of cared for that one more since he seemed so much more innocent, even though he was a hit-man and this guy is a screenplay writer. Actually, that could almost be said about the movie as well, because even though I liked all of these characters and seeing what they did with this material, I wasn’t as emotionally-invested with them here, as I was with the three in McDonagh’s last flick. Maybe it was the size of the ensemble, maybe it was the different sub-plots, or maybe it was just something that made me want to be more entertained and laugh, rather than cry my eyes out. Either way, In Bruges was better in that aspect.

The two cast-members everybody will probably be talking about the most coming out of this film are none other than Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, the two infamous dog-nappers who start this whole shit-storm in the first-place. Rockwell is one of these actors who comes close to stealing the show in every movie he does, but somehow, just hasn’t gotten that big-break he so rightfully deserves just yet, but I don’t think he has to wait any longer. His character as Bill is a pretty wacky and wild one that seems like he came straight-out of a Tarantino movie, but has more than meets the eye with him. You think that Bill is just a total psycho that does stupid things because he has nothing else better to do, but you realize there’s a reason for doing all of the stuff he does and as twisted as it may be (and trust me, it is), in a way, it’s a bit sweet as well. Rockwell is great at playing both sides of this character and I really, really, really do hope this catapults his career to even higher-lengths than he could have ever imagined. Seriously, the guy deserves it and I could totally see him winning an Oscar sooner or later.

Then, of course, we got the always awesome and delightful Christopher Walken doing his best, well, you know, “Christopher Walken”. As unoriginal and lazy as that idea may come off as, it isn’t in the least-bit because Walken is having an absolute ball with his role here as Hans and it reminds you why this guy is such an icon in the first-place. All of the lines that Walken’s given, he nails in that deliberate-delivery of his that’s always great, and all of the emotions he has to emphasize with this character, works but not just because he’s an old-cook, but because he’s a sweet, endearing, old man that seems like he could still kick anybody’s ass, if he’s pushed to that point. Basically, it’s Christopher Walken, playing Christopher Walken and what’s better than that? Nothing at all.

Rounding out the rest of the cast is Woody Harrelson as the crazed mob-boss who goes looking for his doggy like any other pet-lover. Harrelson is a very diverse actor in the way that he is able to have us love him when he’s being the typical, cool guy we all know and love him for, but is also able to have us despise the hell out of him when he’s playing an absolute d-bag that can’t be trusted. Harrelson plays with both sides of the quarter here where he shows us his sinister side, but also allows us to see his charming side whenever he’s actually around his doggy or has to think of it being taken away from. It’s a great role for him but in all honesty, I would have loved it even more if they gave it to Mickey Rourke like they originally planned as it would have been downright hilarious with that nut in the role. Playing another nut-case in this film is Tom Waits, who shows up with a bunny and tells his side of being a psycho killer. Waits is here, essentially, as an extended cameo but it’s still fun to see him show-up and do something really random and weird. That’s how we love to see the guy and that’s how we always want to see him.

The other two in this leading-cast are the two gals (Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko) and they were the two ones I was the most disappointed by when it was all said and done. They aren’t really given much to work with, other than a bunch of one-dimensional lines that don’t do anything for their characters, other than make us wish that they’d just be gone and allow this to be a strictly-sausage party, but it was also lame how McDonagh didn’t really give them much to play around with in the first-place. Seriously, it seems like Cornish and Kurylenko could have had some of their own fun in-between all of the dudes just fartin’ around, so why not give them something, Martin?

Consensus: Seven Psychopaths will take most viewers by surprise by how dark and sinister it can get, but most viewers will also find themselves having a ball with the excellent script, spirited ensemble, and a story that’s not only hilarious, but unpredictable in the way you have no idea where the hell it’s going to g0.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Cosmopolis (2012)

Join Team Edward. You’ll get all coke, sex, and parties you want.

Set during a 24-hour period, Cosmopolis stars Robert Pattinson as Eric Packer, a 28-year-old newlywed billionaire who manages to lose both his fortune and bride in the span of one short day. He starts by doing one bad thing and keeps going on to the next;  and you know what happens in the end? Nobody cares because he’s a little rich piece of shit.

This was a film I really wanted to like. It really was. Writer/director David Cronenberg hasn’t always been one of my favorites per se, but he’s got this unique vision when it comes to making his movies: his own ways, and I could at least respect that about him. That is, until now.

When I think about this film and what really pissed me off throughout it, I think about Cronenberg and how he easily could have made this one, crazy, effed-up wild-ride from start-to-finish. Problem is, it’s just as much the trailers’ fault as it is his. All of the teasers and trailers have been promoting this Cronenberg’s big return-t0-horror film, where R-Pat is going around, shooting guns, doing drugs, being a total a-hole, and effin’ ladies in the limo. But it’s not that at all! Instead, it’s just him going around and talking to people about absolutely nothing! Actually, I shouldn’t say that because they do actually have some conversations about the state of the world and where it’s going, but never did I feel compelled, never was I on-the-edge guessing what was going to happen next, and never was I thinking to myself, “Oh shit! All hell is about to break loose up in this bitch!”. Nope — instead I just kept dozing off and wondering when the hell it was finally going to fade to black.

That’s what really bothered me about this film: the non-stop talking. All these characters do is talk, talk, talk and that would have been fine had the script been a bit more Quentin Tarantino-, Aaron Sorkin-, or even Martin Scorsese-esque. But Cronenberg doesn’t add anything new or engaging to this script to fully keep me involved when everybody is just blubbering on about God knows what. It’s just way too dull and pretentious to keep me even somewhat intrigued. It makes me wonder if Don DeLillo’s novel was one of those situations where it looked good on paper, but when it came to be being brought-up on film, just didn’t fit. And since that’s what it seems here, it’s a real bummer because a lot of the material seems thought-provoking and very relevant if you think about how a lot of it is about the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer while encasing riots everywhere they go. Could have been so much more interesting if there was just something here to keep it going and alive.

One of the most intriguing aspects about this film that caught my eye way before I even saw a trailer for it, was the fact that Robert Pattinson was in the leading role as numb billionaire, Eric Parker. I’ll give Pattinson some slack, the kid definitely seems like he can act and actually has some skill to him, but he keeps on getting bogged down by shitty movie, after shitty movie and I thought that this was going to be his one light at the end of the tunnel. How wrong I was.

See, what Pattinson does here is exactly what he’s been accused of before: being way too dull. Eric Parker seems like one of those great characters that just wreaks of sleaze, where he doesn’t give a shit what happens to him, when it happens to him, and how, he just wants to live up his life with sex, booze, and money. That’s your typical rich dick-head that can sometimes make or break a movie depending on who’s playing them; I think it goes without saying that he breaks the hell out of this movie, in a bad way of course. I get that Parker was supposed to be a numb character that didn’t feel any sort of excitement until society has finally started crackling down into ashes, but Pattinson’s performance doesn’t bring anything else but that and by the end, it starts to feel one-note. So one-note, that even when his character starts to seem like he’s actually gaining some sort of edge towards the end, you can’t really feel it because he’s got the same type of delivery with each and every line. It was almost like Cronenberg told him to go out there and act like you’re in a zombie movie, but to be the zombie that can talk. Seriously, he’s that lifeless, which, in a way, could be the point, but it still didn’t work for me. I think this will stand as the moment where I realized that Pattinson may not have any talent at all, and is just that piece of brooding little shit that all of the dudes hate, and the girls love. Maybe that’s why K-Stew is getting so bored of him now. Heyyoh!

What’s even worse about his performance, is that when anybody else from this ensemble shows up on-screen, you barely even pay attention to him as everybody here gives it there all. The problem here is the same one that I had with Pattinson: so damn dull and lifeless. Each and every performance seems like they are just another annoying character that barely has any emotions whatsoever, and almost every supporting performance doesn’t last for more than 8 minutes on-screen. So really what you have here is a dull Robert Pattinson, running around the streets of New York (obviously filmed in Toronto), meeting up with even duller people, and at the end of it all, you’re supposed to look at the world we live in and realize something that CNN has been telling us for the past year: the economy is going way, way down-hill. Thanks Cronenberg! I really needed to wake-up and smell the cauliflower on that one!

Consensus: Cosmopolis may be a very thought-provoking and smart thing to read on-paper, but being adapted into a feature film just doesn’t cut it because of the dull performances from everybody involved, the uninteresting direction that Cronenberg goes for and succeeds in, sadly, and the ideas and insight into the world we live in that seem very current, but just don’t bring anything new to what we have already heard before.

2/10=Crapola!!

Water for Elephants (2011)

Hans Landa vs. Edward Cullen: imagine if this was handled by Tarantino.

Taking place in the Depression Era veterinary medicine student Jacob (Robert Pattinson) joins a 2nd-rate travelling circus and falls for the star performer (Reese Witherspoon). Christoph Waltz plays her husband, August, a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic animal trainer who is as mean to his wife as he is to the circus creatures.

With all of this talk and hype about how director Francis Lawrence may take over the sequel for The Hunger Games, I thought what better way to know what you’re going to get yourself into than to check out his latest work. No, not I Am Legend, even though I wish it was.

I never read the best-seller that this is based off of (probably because it wasn’t written by Elmore Leonard) but I can definitely tell just by watching this flick, that it was probably one hell of a read with the story they have here. The story itself takes place in 1931, and it sort of feels like a film that could have been made around that time as well. This reminded me a lot of the old-Hollywood movies where there are little or no explosions, heavy violence, heavy cussin’, or CGI for that matter.

The cinematography, costumes, and set-designs also brought me back to the time of where things were harder to get and the people were a lot more sad than usual, but in the end, an honest works pay was still an honest works pay. It’s just a straight-up, old-fashioned, love story that almost played in the same reign as countless other flicks like The Notebook and Seabiscuit and rather than just telling another generic, love story that offers nothing new or original, we get something that is at least interesting to keep your eyes glued onto.

However, there were some obvious things that seemed to bother me especially when it came to the casting here. I really do want to like Robert Pattinson, I really do. I think beyond all of that Twilight shit he gets thrown onto him, somewhere lies a very talented actor that is ready to just branch-out at any second, but keeps on getting roles that just seem to put him in the same exact boat as he was back in 2008. Pattinson’s role here as Jacob (irony!) comes off more bland even though it’s obvious he is trying his damn near hardest. It’s not like watching this guy is brutal by any means, because he’s definitely a tolerable actor, it’s just that this role seemed like they needed a man but got more of a boy instead. Maybe in a couple of years down the line once he has a whole bunch of experience with some roles, Pattinson might be a forced to be reckoned with, but for now, I think he has to safely rely on Cosmopolis. For now, anyway.

Another piece of casting that didn’t quite work like I would have wanted it to was surprisingly Christoph Waltz as the angry circus-owner, August. I loved him as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, as did everybody else including the producers who pretty much give him the exact same role, but instead of killing jews, he was killing circus animals. This is a huge bummer considering that this guy doesn’t really disappear into this role at all and just gives a character that is a little bit too menacing for his own good. Yeah, he’s supposed to be a bad guy that looses his temper very quickly and easily, but this guy is so damn sinister and effed up in the head that I couldn’t buy him once as a guy that owned a circus with a bunch of fun-loving animals, or even buy him as a guy that wouldn’t kill every person that worked for him either. Waltz is good with this role, as you would expect, but this guy was just a little too mean for his own good and definitely took me out of his character’s believably more and more as the film went along.

Believe it or not, the cast member that actually finds a way of coming out clean throughout the whole flick is actually Reese Witherspoon as both of these dudes’ object of affection. She’s sexy, cute, and has a lot of charm to her that seems to work and make you realize why she is so damn irresistible and beautiful. Still, her chemistry with Pattinson is a bit lacking but I guess that’s another problem we have here with the casting.

Actually, the one performance that really t0ok me by hold was Hal Hollbrook here, who plays the older version of Jacob in the scenes where it’s just him talking to a fellow circus-worker. Obviously, you can’t compare 25-year old Pattinson to 86-year old Hollbrook when it comes to acting, but Hollbrook’s performance as a sweet, heart-broken old man comes off as one of the main reasons this guy is such a damn good actor and one that deserved a lot more screen-time here.

Consensus: Some of the casting and chemistry may be off, but Water for Elephants is still a flick that brings you back to the old-Hollywood days with a sweeping romance, some fine-looking scenery, and a romance that we can actually care for rather than just rolling our eyes at.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

Why isn’t there blood spewing out of these people?!? Better yet, why isn’t there that many people getting hacked off?!?

After having killed the first two on her death list, The Bride (Uma Thurman) continues in her journey of vengeance to hunt down and kill the remaining victims, Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), Budd (Michael Madsen) and ultimately, Bill (David Carradine).

Basically in a nut-shell, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 kicked ass and I was so hyped up to see this one after that. However, if you go into this one expecting that one all over again, check again bitches. Hell, I wish I actually checked again.

Without a doubt, you have to see the first one before seeing this because it will make you understand the story so much better and even the little things that popped up in the first one, will still somehow find their way back into this one so just be ready for that. What sets this film apart from the first flick though is that it’s not an insane, fast-paced action flick with people getting chopped up by samurai swords everywhere. Instead, this is a lot more of a character/plot-driven flick that depends a lot on Quentin Tarantino’s writing to create a mood and a certain amount of suspense. This guy is perfect for that and he does a great job with that here because the scenes of dialogue may go on longer than you may expect at first, they still feel relevant to the story and it’s just so damn hard to be bored of a Tarantino flick, especially when somebody in one of his films are talking.

Another element that separates this flick from the first is that there isn’t many homages to a lot of what Tarantino loves as much as there was in the last one. I liked how he was able to incorporate everything he knew, saw, and loved about movies and could put them all up into one flick but barely any of that is here, which sort of relies on him to use his also perfect directing skills. Tarantino doesn’t disappoint and there are of course some funny little nods to the kung-fu movies and spaghetti westerns but I was kind of disappointed by the lack of homages and tributes from Tarantino’s fan boy self.

The main complaint that I had mostly with this flick was that I honestly was just totally bummed by how much action there wasn’t, which may sound dumb but they honestly feel like two different movies, which I know they are, but I was just let down totally. I was expecting crazy action left-and-right like the first but what I got was just a bunch of slow and tense conversations which did work but I honestly couldn’t go from one to the other in such a different style. It may sound like a bit of a dumb complaint but I just was expecting something a hell of a lot more insane, which I think is to expected coming from Tarantino.

Don’t get me wrong though peeps, there is action here and when it does go down, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome. There’s also plenty of times where Tarantino plays with our natural fears such as being buried alive, being bitten by a snake, getting our eyeballs taken out, getting shot with a dart, and plenty of other crazy and effed up shit that will make you squirm but also feel cool about because Tarantino does it in such a creative way that it’s hard not to feel a little smile on your face about. That damn Tarantino always gets me right when I think I’m lost.

The acting is definitely a lot better this time around since we get to see these characters a lot more than we did in the first. Uma Thurman is great once again as “The Bride”, but this time she gets to show a lot more to her character rather than just slashing Japanese effers up. There’s a lot of emotions she has to show here such as anger, terror, happiness, sadness, and enterprisingly even love. Thurman does a perfect job with this role here where she actually feels like a real human with emotions even though she could kick my ass in any second.

As for the other two villains in this flick, they are pretty fine too. Michael Madsen plays Budd, Bill’s washed up brother, and brings that charming evilness to his character that he always seems to do so well and his scenes are all pretty good. Daryl Hannah is pretty bizarre again as Elle Driver, and gets to use a lot of her key bitchiness to her aide this time because her character is just a chick that you want dead right away but she always seems to be one step ahead.

Oh shit, I almost forgot to mention the man villain of them all, Bill himself. David Carradine is great as Bill because he is everything that a great villain needs: he’s charming, funny, likable, creepy, and always scary with every scene he has. There’s just this certain atmosphere Carradine brings out every time he is on-screen like I felt like this guy would just snap crazy in one second and wouldn’t give a single shit who he killed. It also helps that he has some of the best lines in this flick as well and the one that always sit in my mind at the end is the one he makes about Superman. I won’t spoil it here but it’s pretty smart and may actually think a little bit, which is definitely a total surprise considering it’s a Tarantino flick where it doesn’t matter what themes or morals he may be throwing out there, it’s still a flick about bad people doing bad things. Get used to it peeps.

Consensus: Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is not exactly like the first installment but that’s not all of a bad thing: there’s plenty of action, well-written scenes of tension done by the master himself, and it’s definitely a great way to close off this two-parter even though I don’t think Quentin is all that done here.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

Don’t eff with a chick that dresses like Bruce Lee. Especially if shes waving around a sword.

The Bride (Uma Thurman) was once part of a group of world-class female assassins until her employer, Bill (David Carradine), and other members of the group turn against her and have her shot. Five years later, she awakens from her coma. She heads off around the world seeking revenge with plans to kill each person involved, saving Bill for the grand finale.

Take it from Quentin Tarantino to take what is essentially a simple, and pretty standard revenge story and give it the style that harks back to the good old days of 70’s kung-fu action movies, spiced up with many other random styles that Quentin just feels like throwing in there.

What I loved most about this flick was how the fighting, action, and blood were filled with so much energy and were better than half of the shit I’ve seen in the past 10 years, that I wanted more of it. Right from the beginning we get a nice little fight between The Bride and her second target on her list and it seems goofy because of all of the swooshing you hear when they move, but it’s so vicious and so brutal that it’s hard to laugh especially when these chicks are very close to just gutting the other person out. It’s a very minor scene but it’s one that starts the film off on the right foot and the action just keeps getting better by getting more vicious, more violent, and a hell of a lot more bloody. The blood is insane in this flick and it may be a bit ridiculous how Tarantino just makes every single kill have blood shoot out from these people, but it still gives this film this cool and deadly look that could only be achieved with an R-rating. Actually, it’s more of a very hard R-rating, one that only Tarantino can get because he’s the freakin’ man.

As we always get with Tarantino flicks, there are plenty of homages and influences seen here and they all work perfectly. The whole film is basically one big kung-fu movie that reminded me of the days when I would just sit home and watch all of these Bruce Lee flicks where he would be either taking on 50 dudes at once (no homo), or he would be getting kicked in the chest by one of Lew Alcindor’s big feet. I can definitely tell that Tarantino did the same thing when he was a little kiddy and his inspiration just runs throughout this whole flick with a giddy and original feel to it. However, it’s not just kung-fu movies that this flick seems to be harking back to, you get a bunch of blaxploitation homages, spaghetti western moments where the score is just over-powering, a random ass anime scene that may seem weird but is just as brutal as the rest of the flick, and even a little bit of nods to his own previous work such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I don’t know how he does it but Tarantino is the master at taking everything he knows and loves about movies, and putting them all into one crazy and madly original flick.

There was only problem I had with this flick and it was one semi-cheap scene where we see Bill in the classic villain mold which is a bit unnecessary. I don’t really think I’m giving too much away talking about this scene but it shows one of Bill’s associates, Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), sneaking into The Bride’s hospital room about ready to poison her while she’s sleeping. However, at the last second Bill calls it all off, saying that she “deserves better than that”. I thought that this was kind of a cheat way just for the story to continue and to show the reason why The Bride continued to live on and basically cause havoc to everybody on the planet. Also, wouldn’t a real assassin know how ruthless she is? So why wouldn’t he just off her right then and there? Regardless though, it’s only one scene but it still was at least the only negative I could come up with.

Uma Thurman is the perfect choice as The Bride because she just fits that deadly and sexy look so well. Uma is tall, sexy, blond, sweet, great to look at, but she can also be very scary and look like she’ll be hugging you one second like a sweetheart and then chopping your head off the next like the vicious killer she actually is. It also helps that her story is very easy to get behind because the chick was practically left for dead by all of these people and who wouldn’t want to get some good old revenge? Tarantino knows how to make great characters for leading ladies and it’s definitely one of the rare occasions where I actually found myself scared of a female character in quite some time.

The film really only focuses on two villains here (Vivica A. Fox and Lucy Liu) and they are both very good at playing these evil roles, especially Liu who I think had her best performance ever in this flick. She plays O-Ren Ishii and is one of those samurai sword waving villains that you always see in the kung-fu movies and seem cheesy as hell but never do you take them as seriously as you take this chick. Liu plays this character very well because she’s very quiet a lot of the times and more or less let’s her killing do the speaking for her. It’s a shame that Liu hasn’t really gotten the right roles after this but I guess that’s what usually happens to you when your biggest blockbuster hit was Charlie’s Angels.

Consensus: Kill Bill: Volume 1 shows Tarantino in top-form with a style that is bloody, violent, vicious, and shows every single one of his influences in a way that not only shows what he loves but also creates a wholly original flick on its own. Definitely can’t wait to see Volume 2.

9/10=Full Price!!

True Romance (1993)

Don’t eff with the comic book nerds.

The film tells the story of a novice prostitute Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) and the adventure with her lover, comic book store clerk Clarence Worley (Christian Slater). When Clarence kills Alabama’s pimp (Gary Oldman), the newlyweds ride off into the sunset — with $5 million worth of cocaine in a suitcase and the police and the mob on their trail.

Since director Tony Scott is in such a slump nowadays, I honestly think he should just go back to having Tarantino write his scripts because he gave him two of the best films of his career. Aside from ‘Crimson Tide’, this is the other one.

The real selling point of this flick is that it’s written by Tarantino himself, and as everybody already knows, this guy is a freakin’ original genius. Tarantino is able to take any situation and make it go from normal to completley insane in about a matter of 5 seconds and it will give you this bad-ass feeling that you could not expect. The story is a pretty familiar but there are people getting killed at every second that you wouldn’t expect, twists and turns, random pop-culture references that somehow fit into the story, and just a whole bunch of other cool moments in this flick that make it ten times more the awesome thrill ride that it is known as today.

My complaint with this script is that even though it is by Tarantino, this is definitely not his best work by any means. Yes, he does get to use all of his trade-marks like funny one-liners, pop-culture references, and tense stand-offs but for some reason it’s not as edgy as you would expect. There was just something that felt like it should have really hit me harder and stuck with me more but instead it just ended up entertaining me and left me with a pretty happy mood. I don’t think Tarantino had full control over his story and that’s why the story may come off as a little more lame than his usual stuff, but it still at least works in a rather medium way.

Director Tony Scott also adds a bunch of fun to this flick by giving it this straight-forward, energetic thrill ride that isn’t filmed with that annoying shaky-came he can’t ever seem to get his hands off of nowadays. Scott is a good director when he’s got good source material, which he definitely has here, and even though it’s not drenched in style like you would expect from him, it still has a fast-paced to it that keeps the story going and the bullets flying.

However, what really had me going for this flick was its whole ensemble cast that is filled with just about every star from the early 90’s. Christian Slater is pretty good as Clarence, a guy that may seem a little strange but after awhile you start to believe and actually hope he comes out of all of this shit alive. Patricia Arquette is also a lot of fun to watch as Alabama, and you can totally feel like this one girl could actually fall in love with this type of dude. Their romance is something you actually care about because we spend enough time to see them together, and to see them be happy with one another so that when they go on this road trip and their lives are in danger, we care not only about them but their relationship as well. Sounds pretty sappy, I know, but it’s something that surprisingly worked here.

The rest of the cast is freakin’ great too, considering that just about every big star this flick had to show is in here for about 5-10 minutes each but totally kick-ass for the time they have. Dennis Hopper is great here as Clarence’s dad, in a non-psychotic role; Val Kilmer is here as “The King” but is still funny and cool, considering we barely see him; Gary Oldman is hilarious and menacing as Drexl, the white boy pimp with dreadlocks; Brad Pitt is also here as our pot-smoking friend, Floyd, and probably one of the best performances of his career, and I am willing to go toe-to-toe with whoever thinks otherwise; and Christopher Walken shows up for about 7 minutes but gives the film’s best scene where its just him and Hopper talking shit to one another and once again, it’s always Walken who steals the show at the end of the day and I can’t say that I expected anything else. Aside from these peeps I already mentioned there are plenty of other familiar faces here such as Samuel L. Jackson, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, and Bronson Pinchot among others. Basically, it’s one of the better casts for a flick that I’ve seen and they all do excellent jobs with what they are given.

Consensus: It may not be Tarantino’s best script ever written, but it still has a great energy to it, with crazy performances from the ensemble cast, and some really kick-ass moments that make this film a fun watch if not as good as you would expect from these Scott and Tarantino working together.

8/10=Matinee!!

Out of Sight (1998)

The beginning of what some people may call “The Clooney”.

Meet Jack Foley (George Clooney), the most successful bank robber in the country. On the day he busts out of jail, he finds himself stealing something far more precious than money, Karen Sisco (‘s heart. She’s smart, she’s sexy, and unfortunately for Jack, she’s a Federal Marshal. Now, they’re willing to risk it all to find out if there’s more between them than just the law.

I guess back in 1998 the names Clooney and Soderbergh didn’t draw that much attention considering this was a pretty big box-office flop. If it was released in today’s world, the film would have been doing some major work but I guess everybody just has to get their start somewhere.

The film is adapted from a Elmore Leonard book that I have not read but from what I hear, is just exactly like the same tone and pace that this film gives it. What I liked about this writing is just how funny it was without being too obvious and that there was still a lot of suspense, mystery, and crime to be happening. I mean everybody in this flick is a little bit goofy, just like the situations they get themselves caught up into but for some reason the film didn’t seem uneven with its wacky humor and awesome heist and action sequences. Let me also remind you that this is a story that actually has some believability to it where I could actually see certain things like this happening if these certain people were to actually be put into these situations. Then again, I’m not saying that your average con-men/bank robbers look like George Clooney or do many Federal Marshal’s look like Jennifer Lopez, I’m just saying that a lot of what happened here doesn’t seem too insane for a flick.

The film is also perfectly directed by Steven Soderbergh, who took one big-step out of the indie world that he caught himself in and did a great job with just about everything here and finding a way to give it his own cool style. His style makes the film feel like a 70’s crime flick with the sort of funky music playing in the background and the grainy-looking camera he uses that looks as if it was used for filming some old school porno’s back in the day. It’s a really cool style but it’s also the fact that this film just breathes cool where everything you see works.

There are plenty of heist and action moments that this film works perfectly with but it’s the romance that I keep on remembering the most about. The romance is perfectly handled here, which was a total surprise to me in the first place, but the fact that Clooney and Lopez get into a discussion about how in ‘Three Days of Condor’, the romance felt forced and too quick and then they have the same exact romance. What I liked about this element is that the scenes are laced in here perfectly to the point of where it doesn’t feel like the film is just shoe-horning it all in there. It’s also pretty sexy if you think about it and it’s one of those romances between two different characters that seems to work even when the film constantly shifts in between them both fighting one another on opposite ends.

My only problem with this flick that actually didn’t take away too much but it still had me bothered was the fact at just how much this flick reminded me of ‘Jackie Brown’ and I think it’s just one of those cases that since both films were adapted from the same author, that they both kind of give off the same style. Tarantino’s flick was witty, suspenseful, filled with a cool style, and had his usual signatures that he features in just about all of his films but here, it’s kind of the same with a little bit of different touches. Hell, both films even have Michael Keaton playing the same role in both so it’s pretty obvious that I would get some déjà vu.

The main reason why this film works though is because of its awesome all-star cast that shines with every single star. George Clooney broke out with this role as Jack Foley, and would continue playing that same role for the next 13 years but to be honest he’s great here. He’s sly, funny, sexy (for the ladies, not for me..then again maybe for me), and everything he does here he seems to be having a blast playing this bad guy that we can’t help but to love considering he seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody else. Jennifer Lopez is also equally as good as Karen Sisco. She is basically the same person as Jack Foley, instead she is all for the law rather than against it. They both work great together and the romance between them I was talking about earlier I don’t know would have worked with anybody else in these roles. Every scene they have is more memorable than the one that came before it and it’s kind of a bummer that Lopez hasn’t really done much else that’s worth noting since this flick.

Don Cheadle is also good as a dick playing Foley’s main opponent in the heist-game, Snoopy; Ving Rhames is the man and surprisingly very funny as Buddy; Dennis Farina is J. Lo’s dad and it’s surprise to see him playing someone else other than a gangster; Albert Brooks is barely in it but still good; and there is even some nice little side-spots from Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, and a very young Viola Davis as well. Everybody here is great and they all seem to be having a ball with their performances which added more to my enjoyment of this flick as well.

Consensus: Out of Sight may remind me of Jackie Brown, but Soderbergh’s stylish direction and everybody’s performances here make this one of the most exciting, fun, and enjoyable crime comedies I have seen in a long time and it still makes me wonder just why this didn’t get much money in the first place.

9/10=Full Price!!

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