Damn it sucks to be a Culkin.
Igby Slocumb (Kieran Culkin), a rebellious and sarcastic 17-year-old boy, is at war with the stifling world of old money privilege into which he was born. With a schizophrenic father (Bill Pullman), a self-absorbed, distant mother (Susan Sarandon), and a shark-like young Republican big brother (Ryan Phillippe), Igby figures there must be a better life out there – and sets about finding it.
It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people compare this to the Catcher in the Rye because just from reading the plot on the back of the book, they seem to have plenty in common. However, I have not read that book just yet so don’t worry it’s not going to be another one of those “book vs. movie” reviews.
Writer/director Burr Steers does a pretty good job here with all of the expectations that would come from “adapting” a classic like Catcher. Steers puts a modern spin on this story and gives it this dark edge to it that can sometimes be funny but can also be very sad. I can’t say that this flick is a dark comedy because there are moments that are legitimately meant to be funny but so many other jokes all have to do with either drugs, death, or mental illness that it’s kind of hard not to categorize it as that in the first place. Regardless of what you may call this film though, it’s funny and may surprise you with a lot of the jokes it pulls out of its behind.
Where I think Steers’ writing really worked was in the way he showed Igby’s life, as well as Igby himself. Igby is a great character because he is a total smart-ass that always has something sarcastic to say, seems like one of those kids that would do perfectly on his own, and just reminds me of the type of high school rebel that I always tried to be but somehow failed. The kid is an ass and hates his mother so much that when she dies (not a spoiler because they tell you in the first 2 minutes) he calls up everybody she knows and just tells it like it is, “Yeah…she’s dead”, then moves onto more and more people to tell. There’s also a couple of other scenes that made me laugh at everything he was doing and it was just great to see a teenage character in a flick that wasn’t there to show a dilemma he has with picking up chicks or getting good grades, no, this kid’s trying to make a living and figure out what he wants in life.
It’s not just all of the funny ish that happens here that makes Igby so damn cool, it’s also the fact that he feels like an actual kid with a lot of problems that he tries his hardest to hide from. There’s a lot going on in Igby’s life that has effed him up from a father that basically went nutso right in front of his eyes, a mother that he absolutely despises, a godfather that won’t just let him be his own man, a brother that has always been better than him in anything, and an inability to deal with all of the crazy roommates he gets. Maybe it doesn’t sound all that bad to begin with but for an 18-year old kid (hollah!), it can be a lot to take in at a quick pace and we feel for Igby even though he’s surrounded by assholes constantly.
Some parts of this flick worked for me on a dramatic basis, but others, did not. There’s some little love thing going on between Igby’s lady friend and Igby’s brother that felt forced and just another way to bring conflict to the story of how much more his brother reigns supreme over him now. I also didn’t like how the film just sort of left everything up in the air without any resolution to any of these characters whatsoever. I’m not saying that I loved all of these characters, because a lot of them were just plain and simple assholes, but I still spent enough time with them to actually get to know and care about them, so why not show me what actually happens to them after it all? Hell, we don’t really know what happens to Igby at the end either but what bummed me out was just how sudden and abrupt the ending was without showing me the characters that I spent so much time with.
The reason Igby is so damn good as a character though is because of Kieran Culkin is spot-on with this act and I hope that more and more people take notes and see that this kid has a real true comedic talent. Don’t believe me? Check out ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’, and you’ll see what I’m saying. As for everybody else they’re all good too. Claire Daines is a fun character named Sookie to watch and learn more about, which was a surprise because Daines is usually very bland in her flicks; Jeff Glodblum is the absolute man as Igby’s godfather, D.H.; Amanda Peet is just fine as Rachel, even though I think she kind of over does the whole “I’m on heroin” act she had going for a good part of the movie; Ryan Phillipe plays, once again, the soulless ghoul here as Igby’s bro-brah and does a nice job even though he’s playing another rich kid who thinks he’s better than anybody else; Bill Pullman is great in flash-backs as Igby’s daddy and he has some of the more emotionally wrenching scenes; and Susan Sarandon is back doing what she does best: being a bitch. And that’s all we really want from her.
Consensus: Igby Goes Down has an involving lead character, as well as some very funny moments that take us inside the mind of a teenager, no matter how quick life may come at you for it.
Don’t be racist, especially in L.A.
A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are also lovers. A black television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple… They all live in Los Angeles. And in the next 36 hours, they will all collide…
So the one thing about this movie that always seems to get people crazy (myself included) is that this was the Best Picture winner over the near-masterpiece that is ‘Brokeback Mountain’, and while I can’t say that I think otherwise now, I can still say that i think that this one doesn’t deserve all the bashing it seems to get.
To start off with this flick, I have to say that the general idea of having all of these stories center around racism is pretty nifty and it works mainly because of Paul Haggis‘ script. Haggis did a great job at showing us all of these different perspectives on other peoples’ race and gives us plenty of stories where we realize just how hard it is to be anything in this world, especially when race comes into the picture. I think I’ve mentioned race about 3 times already in this review but it’s as if it was just another character in this movie, but it just didn’t speak. It’s everywhere these characters look, around everything they do, and basically impacts all of their everyday activities and it’s only gotten worse and worse as the years have gone by. It’s a harsh reality but it’s a very true reality and I have to give it to Haggis for at least going out there and showing all of this because it’s something everybody needs to hear and understand. There’s plenty of other themes and messages here about life, people, and the world we live in, not just racism, but it’s definitely one of the themes that I could understand and connect with the most.
The problem that Haggis ran into with this script was that it sometimes dives into soap opera-ish and that’s where it sort of began to lose me. Some moments in this film rang true for me, while others just felt too cinematically cheesy that they could only happen in a movie, which is what movies are all about but this film does try its hardest to seem like its real. Take for instance, the scene with Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate, without giving too much away I just want to say that they both are driving in a car and within 1 minute of the ride, they are already fighting and arguing about something, which is trying to show how a black person and white person can’t really get along. Then it ends in a very bizarre and shocking way but it came off more as unbelievable to me because it seemed like Haggis was trying too hard to try and show us how messed up relations between two different races are. Nice try Paul, but life doesn’t always play out like that.
However, for every “made for movies” scene, there was an equally compelling and powerful scene waiting to just come right up and snatch us. Haggis has a couple of scenes as director where he unleashes these very heavy scenes full of his score and they work because as over-powering as it may be, it still keeps your eyes glued on the screen as you can feel the emotion pouring out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the fact is that when it works here, it works superbly.
Where this film really works is the ensemble cast that Haggis was able to assemble here and all do perfect jobs with their sometimes unlikable characters. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, and Matt Dillon are all given characters that you can’t really like just because they don’t do the right thing about 95% of the whole flick, but yet they are very compelling, especially Dillon. Matt Dillon is perfect here as the racist cop, which is sort of a cliche in and of itself but he somehow transcends above that formula and makes this a character that it seems like only he could play. He’s unlikable, pompous, and racist but by the end we start to see the human side of him and it actually feels very real and that’s where I think his performance hit its highest note. Once we start to realize that he’s actually a good actor too, is also when his performance got better. Still don’t know why this guy hasn’t been able to get more like this recently. Then again, there was ‘Takers’ but I think that only counts as a good movie for me.
Consensus: Crash is a very hard flick to talk about because it’s well-written, features some great points about the world we live in, especially when it comes to race, and is acted greatly by everybody involved, but way too many scenes also feel like they were just made for a movie experience and the more the film seemed to ring false, the more it seemed to lose points for me. Good film? Yes. Good enough to win Best Picture over Ang Lee’s near-masterpiece? Nope, sorry.
I really need to find me some copies of MacGyver.
When he’s called back into action to deactivate archenemy Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), MacGruber (Will Forte) is on the case. Now, he must thwart Von Cunth’s plans to destroy Washington, D.C., with a nuclear warhead.
I must say when I found out that this SNL skit, which was pretty damn hilarious in the first place, was going to adapted, I automatically wondered just how bad this will be. Somehow, that doesn’t happen.
Sometimes, I get annoyed by how certain comedies just do raunchy and dirty things to bring out laughter, but this film didn’t bother me that much even though the whole film is basically just one crude joke after another. There’s no real story here, but the film makes up for that with having many funny situations, and jokes that hit right below the belt, but hit very hard and very well. My ribs weren’t hurting by the end of this, but I can easily say, I sure was laughing a whole lot, more than I actually expected really.
The whole film basically parodies a 1980′s action film, with the corny one-liners, cliche explosions, and 80′s music montages, but it never really satisfied me on that action level that I would have liked. The action just seemed pretty lame and didn’t do all that much to actually keep me fully entertained when there wasn’t any dirty jokes going on. I don’t really think that this is what the film was aiming for, but if it could have really went all the way to fully entertain everybody with some actually good action.
Will Forte, has never been my favorite SNL member, but he really is a goddamn riot as MacGruber. His intense and over-dramatic delivery took awhile to get used to, but somehow it got to me and I couldn’t stop but help to laugh at his character and all these crazy antics he does just had me cracking up. My only problem with this character is that MacGruber is kind of a dick, and you may find him funny, but that doesn’t make him all that likable. Some of the shit he does here is mean, and throughout the whole film I didn’t know whether or not I should have liked him, or liked his crazy antics. Ryan Phillipe is a really strange choice here as Lt. Piper, but he does a good job with it. But it actually does speak about his career and how he’s not all that of a serious dude, and will choose films where it can all be kind of moronic. Kristen Wiig plays Vickie St. Elmo, MacGruber’s love interest, and she seems to have stepped in the 70′s but she can definitely pull it off. She owns that sweet, subtle neurotic charm that she has about her, and really brings out some amazing laughs here. Val Kilmer is funny when does funny, but here he’s not really doing anything funny as the evil Dieter Von Cunth. Say that about 10 times and you’ll get the joke.
Consensus: Some elements here and there may not be as enjoyable, but the non-stop crude, raunchy, dirty, and dumb humor keeps MacGruber from being another bad SNL adaptation.
So many rich people, and such a little place.
Director Robert Altman’s witty murder mystery won an Oscar for its screenplay, which really takes off when Sir William (Michael Gambon) is found dead soon after his guests arrive for a weekend stay at his English estate. Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas), Constance (Maggie Smith) and Ivor (Jeremy Northam) try to make sense of the crime. Meanwhile, gossip flies among the household help (including Helen Mirren, Ryan Phillippe and Clive Owen).
I have to give a lot of credit to Robert Altman, he does great with lots and lots of big stuff. After I saw Short Cuts, I was totally impressed by this dude. How can you make a film with about 20 of Britain’s biggest stars, and cramp all of them into one setting? Well I found it out, and that is what this movie is.
This film has one of the very good screenplays I have seen in awhile. The film right from the get-go puts you in the middle of the rich snobs upstairs, and the happy workers downstairs. You get to know everybody when the film starts, and although there is a murder mystery to the film, its more about social classes and hanky panky in the 1930s. Altman, as he did for Short Cuts, does a great job of making a statement, but focusing on the story at hand, while still spicing up the film with short bursts of comedy, which at firsts catches you off guard.
The film also has very nice little touches that work well with the film as well. Altman’s way of using the camera, and following these people around the house, almost makes you feel as if you are there right with them. The film uses a cool look to it, with a breezy color in the background of the film the whole time, and for some reason just adds on a lot of mystery to the film.
However, I did have some big problems with the film. The first one, isn’t so much the film’s problem, as much as it is for me, but the film has a lot of British people talking, and its almost impossible to understand what their saying, thus confusing me in the story. Secondly, the film could have used a lot more of the murder mystery itself in the film. When it focused on the mystery, it gave me a sense that I was watching the board game Clue, in real life, and it was mysterious, but never fully creepy, cause the film cuts away from it too much. Lastly, I though the score was kind of cheap, and in all honesty I think the film would have been better with no score rather than just the music played in the film itself. The score tried to convey emotions, instead it just came out of nowhere sometimes, and was stupid.
The best thing about this film has to be its all-star cast. Too say one performances is better than the others, would be totally unfair, to this large-ass ensemble. I liked mostly how everyone in this film was such a big star but they all got into their roles, and they weren’t just the star being somebody else. And when the so-called “mystery”, comes into play you really don’t know who did it because everybody is a big star, and your not so certain of who may actually be the killer. If I had to choose one dude, that was kind of in the way of the film, it was Ryan Phillipe. His accent is pretty bad when it comes to acting as a Scottish dude, and the movie plays him off to be this dumb-ass kid, which sucks for him, cause he is a good actor.
Consensus: Gosford Park still has its sour patches, but achieves with an incredible screenplay, inspired direction once again from the great Robert Altman, and a huge ensemble that does not disappoint.
God what a violent weekend it has been for me!
Criminals Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro) and Parker (Ryan Phillippe) kidnap a pregnant surrogate mother (Juliette Lewis) for a $15 million ransom from the baby’s gangster father in Oscar-winning writer Christopher MacQuarrie’s (The Usual Suspects) directorial debut. But as the duo waits in Mexico with the woman in tow, they discover they may be in over their heads.
When I saw the trailer for this film I was not so impressed one bit. I was expecting a high action packed thriller, with high energy due to its song being “Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit. But what I got from that trailer was totally different than what I ended up with.
There are a lot of good things that go with this film. First of all, the action is very top-notched. There are plenty of well-choreographed shooting scenes that turn out to be exciting and very smart to watch.
Secondly, the acting is actually quite good in the film. Phillippe and Del Toro have good chemistry as you would expect, and play as these villains in the beginning, but slowly by the end you start to root for them. The best performance comes from James Caan here who gives a solid supporting performance, and shows that he won’t be out acted by a bunch of youngsters.
Everything seems like it can work for this film, but the one problem that MacQuarrie can’t overcome is the really choppy editing. At some parts you have these little cheesy heart-to-hearts, then at one point you have this gun slinging action fight, then you have another tail of deception. I felt like there was so much crammed into this film that there wasn’t any time for it to all develop.
Another thing I didn’t like about the film was that all its lies, deceptions, twists, and turns really started to become an annoyance for me. I really wish they just focused on the story at hand, rather than trying to create all these other not-needed stories where everything doesn’t turn out to be what it seems.
Consensus: The Way Of The Gun has some high-quality action, and top-notch acting, but can’t overcome its sloppy and sluggish editing.