Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: November 2009

To Die For (1995)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/10=Full Pricee!!!


Return to Me (2000)

Oh how love is so beautiful.

A building contractor (David Duchovny) donates his wife’s heart after she’s tragically killed in an accident. A year later, he falls in love with a plucky waitress (Minnie Driver), only to discover she had received a heart transplant at the same time and place. Directed by Bonnie Hunt, this charming romantic comedy about second chances at love – and life.

This film is so resolute old-fashioned and sweet, that I felt like I was going to completely hate every single part of this film. However, that was not the case.

The film is not so funny as it is quite charming and cute. There are little parts in the film that will make you laugh but they are never over-zealous or annoying, there more cute and harmful.

Now with a story like this you kind of just have to go along with it, and forget all teh corny stuff. I found it really crazy since she is trying to hide the scar she has, that they have never slept together after have been going out for months. As I said this film is very harmful, but this is just too sweet to be true.

It incorporates several good laughs and it is not too much of a chick film. It has a lot of good “guy” material. This balance is not easily installed into the first draft of a script, nor are the charming nuances of affection between characters, nor is it easy to make a family style film with a variety of generations so comfortably represented in a cohesive romantic dramedy.

The one thing that makes this film work for me is its genuine chemistry between Duchovny and Driver. Driver in particular, gives a performance that supplies a dimension more deeper than the material suggests. I really felt how vulnerable she really is throughout the film.

But the best thing about the film is that it doesn’t just focus on these two, but also on all the other couples that surround them. Like James Belushi and his wife Bonnie Hunt kept me laughing. And also, the little group of old guys with Robert Loggia and Carroll O’Connor, they all provide good laughs and make some of the dry spots funny.

Consensus: Return to Me is heavily-cliched and not very funny at some parts, but features a genuine chemistry between Duchovny and Driver, and just a sweet and lovely outlook on love.


Cruising (1980)

I don’t think that Pacino can pull off the gay guy as well as we all thought.

After a serial killer brutally murders several gay men in New York’s S&M and leather districts, cop Steve Burns (Al Pacino) goes undercover on the streets, where he must learn the complex rules of the underground gay subculture if he’s to catch the psycho.

Let’s just say this has a lot of gay people, and a lot of gay things going on. After awhile me and my buddies just couldn’t watch it anymore.

There was probably about 40 minutes of just showing all these men with each other and having sex, it was dirty and we just stopped watching it.

After you watch this movie find a chick and talk to her, trust me your going to need it.

The only good thing that I can remember from this movie is that Al Pacino is the man, so end of story.


Clara’s Heart (1988)

HAhahahahhahaha, Neil Patrick Harris!!!

While vacationing in Jamaica to get over her baby daughter’s death, Leona Hart (Kathleen Quinlan) strikes up a friendship with perceptive maid Clara Mayfield (Whoopi Goldberg). Soon, she transfers her place of employment to Leona’s Maryland home and becomes a surrogate mother to the Harts’ impressionable son (Neil Patrick Harris) — a bond that will be tested when the secrets of Clara’s past are exposed.

This is one of those little heartfelt films about how a boy that can’t find any love in the world finds it with the most random person ever. This just so happens to be between a young spoiled child, and a Jamacian, heavy-faithed woman.

So the cliches fly out of everywhere. I felt like if this film went many different ways with its story instead of the usual and obvious route it would have been a lot better and more inspiring.

Another problem I had with this film was that the two parents in this film were so nasty and cruel, that they didn’t even seem belivable. I mean no matter how bad divorces can be, never ever do they just single handedly just forget about the kid and let that kid stay with the house keeper, well not any parents that I know would do that.

The one saving point of this film is the two main performances from Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris. Goldberg gives a very fine and strong performance as a woman who doesn’t take anything from no one, and you sense much knowledge as she underplays many times throughout the whole story. Neil Patrick Harris, does an OK job for a young child actor, as in the end you actually do feel that this kid moves full-circle.

However, there is a little subplot that just really annoyed me about Clara’s little secret. It was kept throughout the whole movie and when it is finally revealed its revealed an hour too late, and never really gives a meaning of why Clara acts the way she does.

I think the message was good, about how you should grow up and always do the best to your ability, I just don’t think it came out at all that well by the end of the film.

Consensus: Though it has good performances from the leads, Clara’s Heart is predictable, slow, and at times not very belivable as to why these people act the way they do.


Following (1998)

This is why stalking is badd!!!!

Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) writes and directs this odd, claustrophobic neo-noir film about a seedy young Brit (Jeremy Theobald) who’s obsessed with following people — albeit harmlessly at first. After meeting a like-minded bloke (Alex Haw), the twosome graduate to breaking and entering — but meet their match in a tough blonde dame (Lucy Russell) who may have dubious plans of her own.

This is Nolan’s directorial debut, and basically he uses in this film what he has always used, and that is the non-linear plot structure. This is a device that he would later use in films Memento, and Batman Begins.

I think that this device is really used well here cause it reflects the uncerntainty I had about these characters and if they were good, and if they were bad. Random scenes pop up out of nowhere at some points, and you don’t know where they came from, but as the film goes on you see how each and every scene all come together at the end.

However, I think that this film was in ways a lot like Memento. Overall I thought Memento was more polished and seemed better thought out than Following, Christopher Nolan even said that he thought Following was flawed and Memento was the far superior film.

Also, by the end of the film I never really understood what this blonde dame did with her life and how she came into the story to begin with. Yeah, we know she’s being framed, but for what, and why? All so many confusing questions that I feel were never answered.

The acting from this unknown cast is actually quite good. The best out of the cast I think was Alex Haw, who played Bloke. He starts out as a very cool and mellow guy with a set of plans on how to rob, but then by the end he totally changes into a new and mean person. His transition really works out well, and by the end of the film I hated him more than I actually liked him in the beginning.

Consensus: Nolan’s debut isn’t perfect and a bit flawed, but has a great way of story-telling, and some fine performances for this low-budget noir.


Sex Drive (2008)

Watched this movie with 3 of my pals, and let me just say that is what I call a good time!!!

Determined to lose his virginity, 18-year-old Ian (Josh Zuckerman) grabs two pals (Clark Duke and Amanda Crew) and drives from Chicago to Knoxville, Tenn., to meet Danielle (Katrina Bowden), the girl of his dreams … or at least that’s what she seems like on Facebook. Sweetening the deal is the fact that she’s offered to go “all the way,” as long as he can make it all the way to see her, of course. Seth Green and James Marsden co-star.

This is one of the overly-sexed up raunchy teen comedies like Harold & Kumar, and Superbad. And I think it’s safe to say to put this one in that same category as those two greats as well.

The one thing I didn’t like about the film was that it didn’t have the heart like those other two did. The characterization of our main character isn’t that well put out, and you sort of just walk into this character as a horny, geeky, 18 year-old. Also, his pal Lenny bones chicks left and right and it takes about the 100th one to know that’s not how you act, especially with chicks most of the time.

I can see why so many people thought it was so bad, but really I wasn’t expecting anything else other than a raunchy, sexed up, teen road trip comedy. I watched the trailer right before and I knew what I was getting myself into, so I accepted it for what it was, and I actually enjoyed a lot more cause of my acceptance.

There are a lot of things that happen in this movie that are hilarious, although some are better than others but really who cares. The gags were funny and a lot of the things that these characters said were perverted, but really funny and I will probably catch myself in the near-future using one their catchy lines.

The first three acts are very very cliched and predictable. And basically the film can be very predictable but it is really funny when the moments actually happen. As me and my buddies were watching this we were always guessing what came next and I’m not going to lie 90% of the time we were right, but we still had a lot of fun laughing and predicting.

Probably the best thing about this film is that it actually does feature a good cast. This new kid, Josh Zuckerman plays the geeky and nerdy Micheal Cera that we all know and love, but he doesn’t over-do the awkwardness and actually seems a bit believable. The best are the little side characters such. James Marsden plays this very uncharacteristic jock who is such an ass, but is so funny at the same time, and after watching this I can almost forget that he was ever in Enchanted. Seth Green probably has the greatest cameo of all in this movie as the free-spirited Amish man, who is so cool and funny that I wanted more of him, but really just didn’t get enough. And another problem I had with this film was that it didn’t feature enough cameos to keep the story fresh and exciting, cause I always wanted to see someone new but never got that.

Really this film is meant for a bunch of dudes to watch. There are boobs flying everywhere, and really if any dude that hasn’t enough a good firm laugh in a long time for about a week, this will probably cure you have that problem.

Consensus: Though a bit predictable and less heart-felt as other films of this nature, Sex Drive is a hilarious, and fun take on the raunchy teen-comedy genre, and actually does feature some great stuff but some are just better than others.


Oh God! (1977)

When I think of what God looks like, I know I don’t think about George Burns.

Buttonholing venerable comedian George Burns for the title role was certainly a divine inspiration! God, in the guise of a wisecracking old gent, decides to makes his presence known to a harried grocery clerk (John Denver) so he can get the message out that “everything on earth can still work if we want it to.”

Going into this film I was expecting to hear a bunch of little rants about religion and how God isn’t real and how he is. Well I didn’t get that, and instead what I got was a very true, if not careful look at the world of religion.

There are plenty of one-liners that make this film very funny. By the end you have this feeling that God isn’t just a funny guy, but probably a really chill guy that you wouldn’t mind hanging out with. The film is directed by Carl Reiner, who instead of making this film very silly and dumb, he brings up this smart and quietly funny story, that all of us can connect to.

But what i really found interesting and it is still so true today, even more so, that even when we do see miracles in our lives right in front of us we still tend to ignore then and credit it to something else. This movie does carry a timeless message that WE are creating our life, that we all have a choice to live a certain way and that everything that is happening in our world is created by us and actually is a reflection by us. But again, it is all our choice to believe it or not. And the only things that we complain about, is truly and simply about ourselves and nothing else.

However, although the humor was there at points it really wasn’t in the film all the way through. For some of these parts I was bored and uninterested until God came back on the screen and made everything funny. Also, this film really doesn’t get strong and effective until the very last 20 minutes. I feel like with a strong message that I basically just stated above, this film could have benefited from that throughout the whole film, but instead choose to use it at the end of the film.

I really did like George Burns as God however. He doesn’t play this stereotypical image we have of God instead he just plays himself, and makes the film a whole lot more funnier with this representation. Surprisingly, John Denver does a better job than I expected. He doesn’t seem too cheesy and more believable as an actor than a country artist. If only he didn’t die too young, or else he could have been in better films. Some guys just don’t have all the luck.

Consensus: Oh God! is good but not terrific. It features a heart-felt message, with good acting, and a smart script, its just that its message wasn’t as effective until the very end of the film.


Shadowboxer (2006)

In order to get ready for Precious, I chose another Lee Daniels film, that I’m hoping will make Precious a better trip than what I expect.

A nasty crime lord (Stephen Dorff) hires Rose (Helen Mirren) and her stepson Mikey (Cuba Gooding Jr.) — assassin partners and longtime lovers — to off his spouse, Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito). But Rose, ill with cancer and on her last job, spares her mark when she learns Vickie’s with child. The unexpected twist forces Mikey, Rose and their charges to flee to life in suburbia, until the past catches up with them.

Now looking at this film from a person who has seen it all in films, I have got to say this movie is pretty messed up. When you have film with Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. doing it, you know you have a pretty messed up film.

So anyway, all the critics I have read, all HATED this film. For me I’m going to say yeah its odd and kind of weird but really it does a good job with its material. It takes this unusual story and makes it a stylized, enjoyable thriller.I’m not going to lie there are scenes that get a little too out of hand, but after that I still was on the edge of my seat wondering what was to happen next.

I am not a prude and I can see how the sex scenes bring a grittiness that was needed to show the harshness of real life but nothing else about this movie reflects real life. The director almost comically twists the relationships to get a jolt out of the viewer.

Helen Mirren doesn’t quite act to the standard she could have. She looks like at times she just lost a bet, and was given a script to work with and just decided to mildly act it out. Cuba Gooding Jr. does the best job in this film as basically taking the last act of the film and making it his show with a powerful performance. Stephen Dorff, plays the type of 2nd grade villain that doesn’t get enough screen time to show how vicious he really can be, I think this was a problem but he could have done better as well.

The one thing I’ll also say about this film is that it shows these weird couples, but you know what that’s reality. I mean there is a couple of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mo’Nique, this was kind of odd, but it still showed how strange couples can actually be.

Consensus: The over-the-top sex scenes and at points very random, Shadowboxer is a stylized and entertaining little thriller, that doesn’t get the best boot from its cast, but in the end is actually OK.


Barton Fink (1991)

Holy shit man. That was my reaction after seeing this movie. Damn this was a darkass movie but shit, who am I kidding, it’s a Coen Brothers movie. Duh!

Idealistic playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) believes writing should reveal the hopes, dreams and tragedies of the common man. When Hollywood taps him to write a movie, Fink develops severe writer’s block and soon falls victim to a strange sequence of events. Unable to combine his deep-seated ethics with Tinseltown’s frivolity, the disillusioned and desperate Fink winds up involved in a murder investigation.

The Coen Bros. know how to tell a story and as in life, stories are not all pretty and happy. All of their movies are basically all different genres rolled into one film but this one is the strangest of all: it combines film noir, really dark comedy, and a little bit of horror. This is probably one of the strangest films about Hollywood that I’ve ever seen, and mostly all films about Hollywood are strange.

The film is basically taken inside the mind of Barton Fink and you see everything and how it is for him. He gains writer’s block and that’s when things start to gay hay-wire. I liked how it was stylized with symbolism that I usually didn’t get, but I think that the Coens could have made it a little more clearer. I found myself fighting what was real and what was fiction, rather than actually watching the movie and understanding the hidden messages.

But the problem is that as the film gets stranger and stranger, I started to get more and more confused with the movie itself. There have been plenty of films with how Hollywood looks, but this is one of how it is a state of mind. The movie tries to be more mysterious than actually making sense, and although most of its main messages are brought up, I think the central message of Hollywood itself wasn’t brought up so well.

Despite the confusion, The Coen Brothers are what makes this film its best. They use lighting and a gritty setting to create the mood for the film, even without really getting deeper into the plot. I liked this and I did feel like I was some place that wasn’t safe and very psychological. It looks like it was literally filmed in the 40s, with some areas of the world and how beautifully real they actually look.

Now this cast is what will surely blow you away. John Tuturro probably plays one of his greatest roles yet as a struggling writer who gains writer’s block and just cannot get out of it, he fully captures this man and becomes enraveled in Barton Fink. The best out of the whole supporting cast is definetly John Goodman. At first he plays this lovable, sweet, kind-hearted guy that really does bring some heart to the film, but by the end that all changes and he shows that magnificentially.

One last thing about this film is that almost every minute you just have got to watch for the symbolism, cause by the end your going start wondering what was ever solved in the first place.

Consensus: Barton Fink is a very confusing and strange piece of work from The Coens, but features effective mood changes with some beautiful set designs, and two amazing lead performances from Goodman and Tuturro.


Bulletproof (1996)

I could not have imagined these two as once being the best of friends.

In this buddy crime comedy, hard feelings must be set aside when undercover cop Rock Keats (Damon Wayans) is first shot by small-time crook Archie Moses (Adam Sandler), then forced to team up with the bungling oaf when both men are targeted by crime boss Frank Colton (James Caan). Upon Rock’s release from the hospital, he finds out that Colton’s hit men are after him and Archie. High jinks ensue when the dueling duo run from the baddies.

First of all this film’s premise is the same exact premise that I have seen over and over again. Two buddies pull crimes together and one’s actually a cop, oh what a time of inventiveness!

The whole film is not about this over-used premise though, it’s just basically a story that jokes can work out of. The jokes that happen in this movie are rarely ever funny, and are just put in to show if Sandler and Wayans can actually make a good comedy with just their own ad-libbing. However, it fails, with way too many sex and fart jokes this film started to really become an annoyance for me.

The one big problem with this film is that it’s leading actors are very funny in a lot of other material, but in this they don’t show one bit of good chemistry. I didn’t feel like these guys we’re ever once friends in their life. Sandler is funny in this at times, and I found him to be a lot better than Wayans, but really if you think about it Sandler isn’t that much of hard ass to be a drug dealing criminal.

There is one part that I actually thought was fresh when in the beginning of the film I think I saw Wayans accidentally slip up, and how they left it in there. This felt fresh and I wish there was more of this freshness to this film, but every time it get’s knocked back down with lame jokes and even lamer action.

There is one part that I really felt was great and showed how much of a superstar Sandler really is. But I can’t speak about it anymore and let me just show you:

Consensus: Bulletproof features some good stuff from Sandler, but is weighed down by a horrible script, bad chemistry, and an even worse premise.


Match Point (2005)

Its official, Woody Allen can do no wrong!!!

Tennis pro Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) gets mixed up with the darker side of high society in this suspenseful drama with a Hitchcockian flair from writer-director Woody Allen, who sets the action across the pond from his beloved New York City. Chris is befriended by a wealthy family and falls for femme fatale Nola (Scarlett Johansson). But a clandestine affair involving another woman leaves Chris wondering if murder is the only way out.

Now this film for me raises about two big questions: 1. Does Woody Allen have anything left to say?, and 2. Does Scarlett Johansson have the acting chops to pull off all the roles she’s been getting.

The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. For people that don’t like Woody Allen films well then you may just want to check this out. It is nothing like any of his other usual witty romantic comedies. Match Point is romantic, very dramatic, and by the end turns into a type of psychological thriller.

One thing I really loved about this film was that it’s main message about luck and its effect is shown incredibly well throughout the movie. The opening image stays with you during the film, and is shown again once more and even more touching and meaningful.

The amazing story about infidelity and being caught up in lust really does keep you interested in this film. It is played out so well, as they show you how this one man interacts with both of these women on a daily basis and not once does one story become more interesting than the other. Every moment that happens in this film just keeps you more and more glued to the screen where you are ultimately in love with this story.

Now to answer the second question that is also a resounding yes. Johansson does a great job as well as playing this chick who at first plays hard to get then by the end of the film she starts to really turn out to be one of these crazy obsessed chicks that your just afraid of seeing. Also, Rhys-Meyers basically does an even better job, but the only problem I had with him was that I just felt he was a little too gay looking. I mean check out pitcures of him, he doesn’t look like the kind of guy that would be banging Johansson on the side. But hey that’s just me.

The ending to this film is ultimately effective and it feels very true. This story couldn’t have ended any other way other than the way it did. One of the more effective films I have seen ever from Allen, and overall probably ever.

Consensus: Match Point is one of Woody Allen’s best that features great writing, a compelling story that teaches us the lessons about class and infidelity.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

Vantage Point (2008)

Does it actually take 8 different point of views to see who assassinated the president?

Moments after he arrives in Spain for a landmark anti terrorism summit, U.S. President Ashton is shot. The 15 minutes leading up to the shooting are rehashed — Rashomon-style — from the perspective of various onlookers: two Secret Service agents (Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox), a TV reporter (Sigourney Weaver) and a tourist (Forest Whitaker).

I’m not going to lie but the premise is actually quite intriguing. I was looking forward to actually seeing this movie, but it collapsed into car crashes, shoot-outs, and utterly implausible plot developments.

The one thing I liked about the film was its style. It revealed something new at just about every vantage point, and sometimes things we didn’t understand the first time, we understand somehow later on.

Then, after awhile the flashbacks really start to be annoying. I felt like I was watching Groundhog Day by the 5th flashback, cause to be truly honest, this film has way too much plot and not enough action to let us have fun with. Instead we always have to think about whats going on at that exact moment.

The one big twist to the whole film is that the president that gets shot isn’t really the real president. Yes, it’s one of those dumb look alike twists. I found this completely stupid and just put in to give William Hurt some lines to work with. Also, the cliches come out almost every step of the way. You have lines like “but you gave me your word”, and I’m thinking how could they give you their word, their terrorists!!!

The cast is well-picked but not the best acted. William Hurt does an OK job as the president, Forrest Whittaker probably gives the best performance as a lovable camera man. Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox probably play some of the dumbest security guards ever who ditch out lines so bad that I won’t even try to restate them.

Consensus: Though with an intriguing premise, Vantage Point turns into a loud, dumb, and stiffly acted gimmick of a film.


Six Degrees Of Separation (1993)

If only it was six degrees of Kevin Bacon, then this would have been a 10/10!

Paul (Will Smith) is a charming and engaging young con artist who appears one day on the doorstep of Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing). Professing to be a friend of the affluent couple’s son, Paul spins a tale of celebrity and despair that deeply affects the pair and their socialite friends.

This film is based on the stage play by John Guare, which actually was inspired by a true story itself. Now I know the original story, and I was not very disapointed with this adaptation one bit.

The one thing about this film that planned out really well was how it was told. Most of it through flashbacks and narration from families who experienced Paul the con artist. They narrate and show you how each and every little situation all relate to each other, and I never lost track of what happened.

I just felt like the film didn’t quite have as much humanity to it as the film tried to bring up. These characters didn’t seem so real in their actions and by the way they talked. We also never really got to know them real well, other than their just a rich couple, and are having problems with their children.

I also didn’t like how the con artist was reflected in a very negative light. Though he was doing crimes, I’ll say that, but he was the one who brought these people to realize who they were and he was like the patron for having them realize it. All the rich people were made to look all glamorous with the occasional problems, while Smith was looked at as just a perv among society.

The film is uptight and the dialogue is often delivered with the flare of an old classic. The lines are witty, sharp, delightful and the gay stuff is fake near laughable. I enjoyed how the film did a real great job at combining comedy with drama, and making the film a lot more compelling than what it seemed to be.

Stockard Channing naturally holds the film in place but her screen presence is so big and the camera is so small. Channing has to keep moving in order to stay in the film. However, by the middle of the film you begin to feel Channing’s break away from the theater and she delivers her lines with the grace of a Hollywood star. But, Will Smith probably has one of the greatest performances of his career in this film. It must have been hard for him to play a gay man, but he was so believable and genuine in it, that I almost forgot this was Will Smith I was talking about.

Consensus: A funny and moving drama with some great satirical messages about society, Six Degrees Of Seperation is moving but doesn’t feel too humane.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Pieces of April (2003)

What a great Thanksgiving!!!!

Reformed wild child April Burns (Katie Holmes) attempts to make Thanksgiving dinner — while battling a temperamental oven — for her estranged suburban family at her grungy New York apartment and anticipates introducing them to her new boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke). Oliver Platt, Sean Hayes and Oscar-nominated Patricia Clarkson co-star in this drama that observes a dysfunctional family coming together to address the past and heal the future.

Shot in less than two weeks for less than $300,000, Pieces of April was written and directed by Peter Hedges, who adapted his novel Whats Eating Gilbert Grape.

With that film and this, Hedges shows that he can write a pretty decent script even with familiar source material. He happens to have this screenplay that is not only very comedic but also quite dark in its approach.

Though I did like this film I did have a little bit of complaints. The gritty look started to annoy me as I felt that it just looked way too dirty and cheaply made. There was also this little sub-plot that is really mysterious, only cause the film has it that way. Derek Luke is out doing something, and I kind of never understood what it really was.

All these flaws are quickly excused when the performances come out of these stars. Katie Holmes is actually pretty good in this film and gives charming performance as the leading woman, but the one that really knocks it out of the park here is Patricia Clarkson. She gives an amazing performance as an old and dying woman here is funny but also very tragic. You can see that she misses the times that she missed out on with her daughter, and she is upset about that but also still trying to keep her strength as an old woman. She was by far the best out of the whole cast.

The ending is probably one of the more touching and sincere endings I have ever seen. It really did feel genuine and the whole film basically lead up to this point and doesn’t leave us hanging out.

Consensus: Despite its flaws, Pieces Of April is a sincere, touching, and darkly comedic touch on familiar source material, that features an amazing performance from Patricia Clarkson.


Con Air (1997)

Nic Cage takes a ride with a bunch of convicts featuring Dave Chapelle, yeah this is a movie.

When the government puts all its rotten criminal eggs in one airborne basket, it’s asking for trouble. Before you can say, “Pass the barf bag,” the crooks control the plane, led by creepy Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich). Watching his every move is the just-released Nicolas Cage, who’d rather reunite with his family. John Cusack plays the creator of the plane and stands by as his whole dream turns into a nightmare.

Con Air combines elements from many other films such as Airplane!, The Rock, The Dirty Dozen, and a little bit of Silence Of The Lambs. Now all of this may seem like a weird combination for a film, but it turns out to be one of my favorite action films of all-time.

First of all, the great thing about Con Air is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Scott Rosenberg’s ultra macho script knows it is having a lot of fun with the writing, and it brings in a lot of good laughs. The tongue-in-cheek approach that this film had never really dies out, cause although some of the lines may be cheesy, they are still hilarious and well worth it.

The action that takes place in this film isn’t so bad either. I liked how it was fun but it wasn’t non stop to the point of where there’s no room for a story to take place. The things that happen in this film seem very believable and the action is never too dumb to where its unbelievable.

The only problem I really had with this film was that it was working out really well by the end, and it loses itself in a routine explosive third act. Yeas, it was very good and fun to look at, but it just didn’t seem like it was needed for this film. I liked how the action took place in that scene, but when it was all said and done I felt like everything else sort of was lost cause of it.

The acting in this film is pretty good but mostly from Malkovich. He plays this slick, witty, and actually pretty smart villain that you want to hate cause he’s so crazy, but you can’t help but to love cause of his amazing apporach to the lines and the events that happen. Cage, I thought could have done a lot better, but his accent by the end just got really annoying for me, and by the end I just couldn’t stand it. Steve Buscemi plays a little side character in this film that is really funny, and by the end of the film, he turns out to be the most-liked character from the whole film.

Consensus: Con Air is full of energy and humor, that is fun to be a part of and does hit the right spots every time throughout the movie. Though the ending was a little bit out of hand, the film still holds a great place in my heart.

9/10=Full Priccee!!!

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

This King really does know how to mack back in the 16th-century.

Director Justin Chadwick’s opulent historical drama stars Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansson as her sister, Mary — both beautiful, ambitious and vying for the heart of powerful but intemperate King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). Though both women are the monarch’s mistresses, only one can become his queen consort — but at what cost?

Remember when you were taught in history class about that guy Henry VIII, and he was ginat, and fat and there was that little picture of him eating the chicken? Well that guy is played by Eric Bana, who does not match any of those characteristics at all. That’s basically all your going to get in this movie.

Now I’m no historical major, but I know a little thing or to about the 16th-century and what events took place. This film basically makes all those factual happenings and romanticize them into something totally unbelievable. Throughout the film I wondered if, if the King is so busy with these two women, who’s controlling what happens with England.

The film felt more of a soap opera than a film. There were moments that just made me want to puke by how overly romantic it was trying to be. And other than this I just felt bored all the way through. Like honestly nothing exciting really happens until the first hour is up and then the real story develops. I zoned out a whole bunch of times even when the stroy came on, and as a whole found this not so interesting.

I also think that this film could’ve really pushed the boundaries a lot more. It was PG-13 and it felt so drawn back by this, that it made its love scenes less romantic cause they were afraid of showing some boobies. Now, I’m not trying to sound perverted or anything, but when you have two beautiful women such as Johansson and Portman, you would expect to see some bodies go around but nothing quite happens in order to get its appeal going.

I liked the set pieces and found this to be very good to look and gaze at. The scenery made me feel placed in this era, and I really did feel in this time-period as this was happening.

Natalie Portman is what really makes this film. Her performance is so good and rich that I actually did believe her as this totally bitchy sister that all she wanted was the fame and fortune as Queen. Bana is misscast and I didn’t find him to be very engaging as a King, and this is what basically threw me off from his character.

Consensus: Portman’s great performance and beautiful set desings, aren’t enough to save The Other Boleyn Girl from a boring story that just felt like a 1 hour and 55 minute soap opera.


Marvin’s Room (1996)

Leonardo DiCaprio can honestly be one annoying little shit!!!

The tables are turned when straight-laced Bessie (Diane Keaton) — who devotes her life to caring for her chronically ill father (Hume Cronyn) — must ask her estranged, bohemian sibling (Meryl Streep) for help after Bessie suffers a health catastrophe.

Never in my life have I seen a more touching and delicate little film about the biggest thing in life, dieing. Throughout the film I couldn’t help but be reminded of the 1993 film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, also with Leo. Both have the same themes of love, but that one was so much better than this.

Marvin’s Room has some little nice touches of humor and drama. The scenes of humor all come from Robert De Niro and Dan Hedaya as the brother combination in the doctor’s office. I thought some of these scenes we’re funny, but after awhile they just started to get too repetitive and way too lame. I think they were trying a little way too hard on making this a light-hearted drama with comedy that would stick, but in all honesty it didn’t really quite work.

The main problem I had with this film was how annoying Leo was in this film. Honestly, I love Leo and all the films he does but in this one he really is one of the most annoying characters I have ever seen in a film. He whines and complains so many times throughout the whole film, and I really have no clue why nobody did anything and slap his ass up. If that was my kid he would be so blue, people would think he was a cut-scene from the Smurfs. He acts very bi-polar during the whole film, but it tries to act like that we don’t even suspect and just tries to cover it up with a little message of a lost father.

I liked the story between the two sisters (Keaton and Streep), I thought that this was the main strong point of the film and really did add a lot more emotional depth to the story. I realized how much these two missed out on, and you can tell by the way they speak with one another that they really do miss what they both could have had as sisters.

Keaton does the best job out of this whole cast and really shines. She adds a lot more depth, and makes this one-dimensional character very bold and likable, and mostly a person that we all cheer for and love. Meryl Streep does well also, but I don’t think she quite gave it her all in this film, and really did shine away with what could have been a really good chemistry on screen.

C0nsensus: Marvin’s Room tries to be funnier than it actually is, but is a touching if at times stiff, look at the fate and reality of death.


The Doors (1991)

Wow, Jim Morrison was kind of an ass now that I think about it.

This drama is as much about 1960s music culture as it is about legendary outlaw Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer), one of the most influential figures in the history of rock and roll. This electrifying drama chronicles Morrison’s rise from obscurity to the pinnacle of the rock and roll music world as lead singer for The Doors, and, finally, to his tragically early death in a Paris bathtub.

Personally, I love The Doors. I like a lot of their music and thinks its so strange and out there that it really is some of the best. I think Jim Morrison was a great artist when he was alive, he wrote some strange but really beautiful poetry and music. And, I also love Oliver Stone, as much of you already know. Why didn’t this whole film work out like I wanted it to??

To start it off let me look at the positives. The concert scenes are filmed in large screen, cause that’s how Stone wants you to see them as and really there was no other way they could have been shown other than in wide screen presentation. It is amazing how the concert scenes are re-created, as they look like outtakes taken from a documentary at the time. The crowd scenes have a real distinct powerful effect, and this is one of the most realistic looking rock movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Val Kilmer looks so much like Morrison it’s actually scary. But not only does he look like him, Kilmer captures the total essence that Morrison had. He was a strange man, who’s erratic behavior got worse as he started to deal more into drugs, as this film shows very well. Meg Ryan also has a good performance as his long-time girlfriend who goes through some changes herself, and through Ryan’s performance we see this very well.

However, there were many problems I had with this film that did bother me a lot. The historical innacuracies really do start to get out of hand very early in this film. The film shows Morrison holding his crotch and mocking the TV as he says “higher” on live television. Now in real life, Morrison just sayed “higher” by accident and didn’t really know what he was doing when he did it. Also, the film does a great job at showing us the drug addicted, sex making, drunken Jim Morrison, and never really shows us anything good about him. The film dives into his personal life of booze, sex, and drugs, and totally forgets about his work at hand and how his songs came to be.

I did like Stone’s direction as I felt it was very inspired but I felt he could have really changed the last hour or so. The typical rise-and-fall story of Morrison is falling right at about when the first hour is up. The after that the whole film basically becomes a total downer for anyone who loved the band The Doors, such as myself.

Though we get little tidbits of what the other band members have to say, we never fully meet them. We always are able to see their reactions, but there’s never a chance to see where Morrison and all the others met, and we never get to see how close they really were to Morrison.

Consensus: Though it’s not one of Oliver Stone’s finest films, The Doors is exciting and well-acted, but never shows anything good from Morrison and its innacuracies start to get a little out-of-hand by the end of the first act.


Havoc (2005)

White kids, please stay in the suburbs.

Havoc is a motion picture about the lives of wealthy Los Angeles, California, teenagers whose exposure to hip hop culture inspires them to imitate the gangster lifestyle. They run into trouble when they encounter a gang of Latino drug dealers, discovering they are not as street-wise as they had thought.

Now when I watched this film I couldn’t stop thinking about another coming-of-age film myself, Thirteen. They both have the same ideas of little suburban teenagers who want to act wild and be free, when really that’s not who they are.

Personally, Havoc really does connect to me cause there are a lot of people like these ones portrayed I know. The people I know try to act all gangster like they could kick anyone’s ass, when really they aren’t anything compared to the real thing.

This film captures that real well showing from the first encounter how different these two groups really are. The white kids always try to act all tough on their own homecourt, but when they go somewhere else they are a bunch of little chickens who are scared out of their minds.

There are a lot of really good dramatic scenes by the end of the film that really does keep this film going on to powerful. The way these two different cultures are portrayed is just really perfect as you can see the big differences, and the little similarities these two groups have in common.

I liked the movie and everything I just think it wasn’t anything different that I’ve seen before. It seems like the same old message,”keep your daughters inside the house”, and to be truly honest Havoc doesn’t do much to add to this message and make it even more powerful than previous films.

Yes, for all you little pervs out there, Anne Hathaway does get naked for this film. But please do not let that take you away from this film cause her acting is magnificent. I was surprised to see the same chick from The Princess Bride, dropping down(literally), and doing a very serious and complex role, and actually pull it off. Her and Bijou Phillips have great chemistry in this film and you can actually tell that they actually are friends as they do feel like it. The rest of the cast does well with stars such as Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Freddy Rodriguez, but a lot of the good cast is underused and you rarely see them at all during this film.

Also, the ending was not as powerful as it could’ve been. The film doesn’t come full circle and connect at the end like many other films of this nature have. It leaves you with a little message that is powerful, but not powerful enough. I didn’t quite know what was the eventual resolution to these actions and what happened to the these characters at the end of the story.

Consensus: Havoc features a true message, magnificent performances, and some great looks on real life. But the film doesn’t become too powerful as it could’ve been and left me wondering just what was to happen to these characters by the end of the film.


Double Team (1997)

Note to future action movies: Professional Athletes cannot act!!

Jean Claude Van Damme plays counter-terrorist agent Jack Quinn, who is assigned to bring an elusive terrorist known as Stavros (Mickey Rourke) to justice. Things become personal when Stavros kidnaps Quinn’s pregnant wife after his own lover and child were killed in an assassination attempt that went awry. Aiding Quinn in his rescue is his flamboyant weapons dealer Yaz (Dennis Rodman).

Double Team is not a movie you think about for one second. It is basically a gimmick to put together a big-time action star with a big-time basketball star and put in absurd situations with a lot of special effects.

This is not as bad of a Van Damme film as some would expect, it’s just not good. The one thing that makes this film good is it’s well played action. Many of the scenes featured either gun fights or martial arts fights and I found this to be very entertaining. They weren’t slow or absurd, at times I found them fun and nice to watch.

When, the action isn’t happening though the plot just cuts right through. Some of the scenes where nothing is happening is pretty boring and highly unintelligent work. Much ado to the screenplay which calls out for some really dead dialogue.

With a Van Damme film you may know that there are obviously a lot of those bad one-liners, and to be truly honest they are worse than that. At first, they start out small and not to bad, then they just get insane and very corny. Rodman probably has about 15 references to basketball, and every one is basically bad.

This is Rodman’s first feature, and I must say it wasn’t as bad as I would’ve thought. He isn’t given much of a screenplay to work with so he has a very inadequate performance to say the least. Rourke does a pretty good and convincing job at playing the main villain here, and I found him to be the best out of the three.

The one thing that bothered me the most through this whole movie was that it’s score did not match any of the scenes at all. I found it to be quite dumb and not very up-tempo as many of the fight scenes were. I wish they would’ve had a better soundtrack with a little bit more rock or rap that could have made this film actually a little bit better.

Consensus: Double Team has some entertaining action and some good performances, but features a weak plot and some terrible jokes, that are really just made for the sake of being a gimmick.