Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Truth About Charlie (2002)

This Charlie guy does sound like a real dick!

Romance and suspense ignite a modern Paris backdrop in director Jonathan Demme’s fresh take on the Stanley Donen film Charade (also included on this disc). Regina (Thandie Newton) meets Joshua (Mark Wahlberg) while on vacation, as she’s contemplating ending her marriage to Charlie (Stephen Dillane). But upon her return to Paris, she finds that both her apartment and her bank account have been emptied — and her husband has been murdered.

Now it seems like remakes are coming out almost every week now, and this remake on a 1963 film Charade, is almost no different.

Jonathan Demme takes out the star power photographs the most drearily rainy Paris ever, and dumbs down all the lines. He veers back and forth between a darker take and remaking the original frothy whodunit until it’s not clear what he intended to do. A big miss all around. Unfortunately, I think Demme was working with a wrong material for what he wanted. At times, it even appeared that Demme himself was confused about whether he wanted a straight-forward light comedy or a more convoluted dark humor for the laughs. And the end result is a movie that doesn’t really succeed at anything it sets out to do.

This movie has way too many coinicidences that don’t seem reasonable or a bit too predictable. There is then a ridiculous scene where everyone who has threatened her just happens to show up at a dance hall, taking turns dancing with this heroine.

Thandie Newton does give out that little charm we know she can do very well, and brings out an actually good performance here as the lead. The problem was that I felt like Wahlberg as much as I love him he did feel seem a bit too clunky for this material and was acting too much as if he was in some action film, with his usual macho-esque appeal.

Consensus: Newton brings a lot of charm to the film, but is slow and doesn’t seem real at all, and more about the constant coincidences then the actual story itself.



Cop Land (1997)

I highly doubt any of these guys would be cops at all.

When a local patrolman is implicated in a controversial shooting in a small New Jersey town, put-upon sheriff Freddy Heflin teams up with Lt. Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) to investigate a connection between the mob and the NYPD officers who live in the town. Sylvester Stallone delivers a dramatic performance in this arresting crime thriller as Freddy. Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta also star.

Cop Land is a cop drama that is filled with a lot of those cliches that always rid every single cop film like this. The us vs them mentality, dirty cops, and most of all down-on-his luck cop. I mean I have seen this story plenty and plenty of times, and I just wish a bit more was added on to this film to make its story seem more and more fresh.

But the real reason for seeing this film is its rich plot. The story has plenty of twists and turns that actually keep you interested. The film doesn’t try to act like Goodfellas or The Godfather with its mob tie-ins, it more of acts like itself with some really nice set-up suspenseful scenes.

I liked how the film didn’t just try to show one story and just leave it at that. No, it had all these three exciting stories all having to do something with crime and justice, and putting them all together at the end. It actually felt like three NYPD Blues episodes put into one long film but it didn’t feel like a TV show and actually had a lot of depth added to it.

Sylvester Stallone totally gets rid of his macho action star look that he has done for so long in this rare but effective dramatic role. He gives this down-and-out cop we have seen time and time again, but adds an extra dimension to this character as we understand who he used to be and who he is now. The only problem I had with this huge ensemble cast is that not all of them were quite used as well as Stallone. I mean each does get a considerable amount of screen-time, but they aren’t as focused on as Stallone and I would have liked to see more of these characters lives instead of just one part of them.

The problem with this film by the end actually kind of killed the momentum it had going for it. I think the ending as predictable as it was, should have been made in a different far more realistic way. I mean its very very sappy, and doesn’t quite feel right in the film.

Consensus: Cop Land has its obvious cliches and bad ending, but features a fun and interesting story, backed by an effective dramatic performance from Stallone, but not enough time was given to the others in my opinion.


An Education (2009)

Sounds like a Pink Floyd song.

Jenny’s (Carey Mulligan) Oxford-bound teen life is undistinguished in 1961 London until she’s given a different kind of education after being immersed in the beguiling but hazardous world of cultured and much-older David (Peter Sarsgaard). Even Jenny’s father, Jack (Alfred Molina), is intrigued by him, but her school’s unimpressed headmistress (Emma Thompson) works to keep Jenny’s entire future from crumbling under David’s influence.

Set in 1961 London, “An Education” tells the all too familiar tale of a high school girl seduced by an older cad. The girl in question is tops in her class and bound for Oxford. She repeatedly beseeches the adults around her to give her a compelling reason to go to Oxford rather than run off with the cad.

The film isn’t so much about the relationship, and surprisingly isn’t terribly sexual with its PG-13 rating. It is actually more about Jenny, and how she is finally introduced into this new world, that she was so sheltered from due to school. This is about discovering a new part of the world, after being sheltered for so long.

The film is depicted in the 60’s and I really did feel like I was in it. You could feel that slight bit of change in the culture. Like honestly why were women getting an education in the 60’s, because there weren’t any options open for them after they got their degree.

The one thing that got me with this film is that it doesn’t quite hold up all the way. The dialogue is a bit implausible, and that does start to show by the third act. I’m not going to say that I knew what was going to happen but I will say I kind of had a feeling that all of this was too good to be true. I feel like a lot of the writing does add a lot to the uncomfortable level in this film, and that I had a problem with at times.

The real saving grace from this film is the amazing lead performance from Carey Mulligan. Mulligan gives out the definition of a star-making performance, because the role of a girl losing her innocence and going from wide-eyed to sassy know-it-all, it is not an easy role, but she is spot on. Peter Sarsgaard is perfectly cast here, I find him super creepy and also very charming and likable, and I never knew which one of those things he is.

Consensus: The dialogue may run out of steam by the third act, but An Education blossoms with its great coming-of-age themes with a new twist, and a star-making performance from Mulligan.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

The Pacifier (2005)

Sorry Vinny, but I would not trust you one bit with my kids.

Tough-guy Navy SEAL Shane Wolf (Vin Diesel) never imagined that he’d wind up as a babysitter for a crop of unruly kids. But now that he is, he’s shocked to discover that it’s the hardest job he’s ever had in his life. His mission, which he has no choice but to accept, is to protect the children (including Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot and Morgan York) of a scientist who was killed while working on a top-secret government project.

Basically many of Hollywood’s big-time action stars have to do it. Arnold in Kinder garden Cop, The Rock in The Tooth Fairy and Game Plan, and most recently Jackie Chan with The Spy Next Door. Vin Diesel follows those foot steps.

The film follows all the same exact formulas would expect from a film of this nature. From the diaper-changing scene, to the fart jokes, and to the very dumb plot twist in the middle of the film. I mean the film doesn’t even try to give an effort to make anything different or fresh, it’s just the same old formula used.

The script is really bad here as almost every single cliched line you can think of, well it plays out the same exact way in here.

The main problem with this film is that Disney was behind it. In the first few minutes several people are blown up or shot including the father and lead of the film. Within a few minutes, all this is forgotten and the bad diaper jokes start. With its very aimless direction I didn’t feel like this film was inspired at all.

Diesel, much to his charm actually brings this film up a couple of notches. I mean I will say he uses his charm very well, and for a lot of the scenes it looked like he was game for the most part. I liked how he was able to play a parody of the character people think of him always playing, and I give him a lot more respect because of that.

Consensus: Vin Diesel’s charm works a bit, but cannot overbear this un-original, formulaic, and overall non reasonable film.


Everything is Illuminated (2005)

Elijah Wood will never be able to live down his role as Frodo no matter how good he is.

A young American Jewish man begins an exhausting quest — aided by a naïve Ukranian translator — to find the righteous gentile woman who saved his grandfather when his small Ukranian village (along with most of the populace) was obliterated during the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941. Stars Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz and Boris Leskin. Liev Schreiber directs.

The film is based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, and telling just by the premise you wouldn’t think that there would be time for some humor, when really there are some actually funny moments.

The film blends a lot of funny absurdest comedy with its very dramatic undertones. I mean its a different type of comedy that does feel a bit dry and dark, but at times it really connects, but then at times it doesn’t quite hit the mark but it does lighten up the mood.

What is equally surprising is that it is not a comedy. It is, in fact, a touching and poignant story that celebrates the importance of remembrance, the power of secrets and the meaning of friendship. It does this by creating unforgettable characters and placing them in a historically rich environment.

The problem with this film is that I felt like way too many parts were just put in to just be artsy. Schreiber’s directorial debut does seem inspired and is actually impressive, but it shows way too many times he was going for the different and articulate look rather than just sticking with the original source material.

I didn’t like how the first 2/3’s of the film was based on ironic situational comedy, and then by the last 30 minutes was switched into this very depressing Holocaust drama. I think this turn right by the last act changed way too much about the film, and should have kept with its whimsical taste the whole way through.

Wood does give a pretty good performance here but doesn’t feel authentic enough. I feel like those glasses should have been removed from his character, cause not only were they a bit distracting, they just made his character look too much like a comedic effect person.

Consensus: Though it is pretty hit and miss with its whimsical flavor, Everything is Iluminated has a nice poignant story, that shows Schreiber can direct.


Closer (2004)

Jesus these people all need to get a room!

Director Mike Nichols exposes the ugly core hiding behind the slick veneer of four beautiful people and their tangled personal relationships in this drama based on the hit Broadway play. A photographer (Julia Roberts) seems content with her boyfriend (Clive Owen), and a romantic (Jude Law) adores his quirky beloved (Natalie Portman). But when two of them embark on an illicit affair, a cascade of betrayal ensues.

This film is a lot of vicious and sadistic romantic themes all rolled up into one movie. People are constantly cheating on each other left and right, and you have no idea who’s with who, who did what, and most of all how long has this been going on.

The one thing I liked about this film is that from the beginning you think you can point out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are right away, when really their all bad. They all each have these sexual desires that end up messing the other person’s life over. They always constantly talk about telling the truth and being honest with each other, when all they do is lie to each other.

However, the movie seems to suffer from a kind of narcolepsy. In certain cuts, you are fast forward in time and at first you’re unsure if you’ve gone forward of backwards. Luckily after the second such cut you realize the movie is progressive with no flash backs. Thus everything is within context with the previous scene.

Also, there are times when you do feel a bit like this film is staged, probably because it was based on a play. But, some times I felt like the scenes were honestly not genuine and since they were all about talking I didn’t feel like they did much other than that.

I will say one thing that the screenplay is very well-written. Wanting to know positions, acts, and thoughts during that act of sexual coupling – of which there are no visuals, it’s all in the dialogue. This is some brutally honest dialogue that’s all about deceit, sex, and most of all being true to one another.

The screenplay would be nothing without its great performances from its actors. I liked a lot of people in the cast but mostly Clive Owen, who does one of the best darker roles hes ever played. Honestly, he is so hell-bent on his love with Roberts that he will stop at nothing to get her back.  There is a point where Natalie Portman seems to pick up some of Julia Robert’s acting quirks, but this might be similar styles or synergy of the two actresses – It’s just such a joy to see her act again after her impression of a robot in Star Wars movies.

But in the end you feel dismantled by the fact that these people never should be in a relationship if they can control their impulses. And then you realize that these impulses are not only theirs but yours “you just haven’t acted on them – yet”.

Consensus: Closer at times feels too staged and a bit confusing, but has some brutally honest dialogue all about love and deciet, that would be nothing without the superb performances from its cast.


Nothing But Trouble (1991)

Yeah this really is some trouble!

Stock market millionaire Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) and investment lawyer Diane Lightson (Demi Moore) are headed to Atlantic City when they take the wrong exit off the New Jersey Turnpike. A local cop (John Candy) stops them for speeding in a curious town, where they’re brought before 106-year-old Judge Alvin Valkenheiser (Dan Aykroyd). But the old man’s punishment turns out to be as bizarre as he is.

The Oxford English dictionary needs to get to work inventing new words to describe how bad this movie was. Honestly, the film was advertised as a comedy, and that scares me cause it shows that the English language is running out of things to say.

The film has so many scenes where all these crazy ass creatures just pop out of nowhere. First-time director Aykroyd honestly rips off every single movie that has a creature or some disgusting thing in it, and puts them in this film which just really ruins that legacy.

Not only is the film very very unfunny but the look is just so depressing as well. Nothing looks bright or happy in the film, it just looks at dark and gllomy where nothing fun happens at all.

I feel bad for the cast who had to actually star in this, but even for anybody that watches this it is just really a chain wreck that shouldn’t be watched by a single person if they want to live a happy life.

0/10=Stay Away!!

Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire (2009)

Not quite what I was expecting.

Viciously abused by her mother (Mo’Nique) and pregnant by her father, Harlem teen Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) has an unexpected chance at a different life when she enrolls in an alternative school. Teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton) encourages her, but Precious must battle unimaginable barriers everywhere in her life. Lee Daniels directs his drama that features appearances by Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.

So I’ve been basically wanting to see this film forever, and now that I finally have got to, I’m just wondering what all this crazy buzz is about.

The film is highly grim. This poor girl’s life is just so upsetting and miserable that at times it was just hard to watch. I mean just the idea of this girl having her 2nd daughter from her father, byt then her mom being the biggest bitch ever, makes us feel even worse.

Lee Daniels brings an almost psychedelic quality to the film through Precious’ eyes as a way of escapism from the cruelty of life. But where there is pain, there is always hope and this is why the movie evolves into a harrowing film where education brings Precious acceptance, independence, and hope for a better life.

The only problem was that I didn’t feel any emotional strife to this film like everybody was talking about. I felt bad for this girl and wanted her to do better, but I wasn’t so into it. I feel like the film dives too much into the grim reality of things without showing more of how Precious gets a long with her life.

The message at the end of the film didn’t really look like it fit in this film. The portrayal, though powerful, of these people I felt like they were a bit stereotypical. Always saying the n-word, or just being down right dirty didn’t look like it was doing anything right for African Americans.

Sidibe gives the performance that most shy actors would over-play, but instead when she loses control of her emotions, oh she really does. The best here however is Mo’Nique. She gives the most riveting and scariest performance I have seen in a long time from any star. She is filled with so much hate and anger, that every time she was exploding I was so afraid of what she was doing. The other performances from Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz are actually pretty good, and make good supporting roles.

Consensus: Precious is a grim but sometimes lively tale filled with imagination, and great performances from its cast, but doesn’t succeed fully with its ending and message.


It’s Complicated (2009)

Could not put that disturbing poster of Alec Baldwin and his chest hair, just too disgusting.

Ten years after their divorce, Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) enjoy an amicable friendship. When the two unite for their son’s college graduation, their romance is rekindled. But Jake is married, and Jane’s architect, Adam (Steve Martin), has a thing for her. Now cheating on the younger woman for whom he left Jane, Jake wants his ex-wife back. But Jane’s busy getting to know Adam.

The movie is directed by Something’s Gotta Give director Nancy Meyers, who once again shows that she can make these bitter-sweet romantic comedies with a cast that just seems way too old.

The film isn’t funny all the time as the trailers and previews would have you guess. More of the film is actually dedicated to some good played out dramatic scenes. In it’s mellow, observant way the film hits some good notes with authentic feeling.

The main theme here is basically about getting old, and if ever loving again. Looking back on your life if and when your 60, and thinking if you did everything right in your life, and if you can go back and change it once and all over again.

My main gripe with Meyers is that I feel like her feminism plays too much of a part in this movie. Jane has pretty much the perfect life before the movie starts in my eyes. She owns a fantastic bakery, has a huge house, is having an affair with her ex while dating a man who is so sensitive he actually states that her age is his favorite thing about her, and has all too perfect kids. There is actually a scene where all the children (including the son) gather around and huddle up on the bed crying about their mother and father possibly getting back together. They are always trying to help their mother and everyone knows that kids aren’t really like that.

While the first act of this movie is phenomenal, the second act is just ok, and the third act completely falls flat. The first act is so great because it’s mainly Jack and Jane rediscovering their love and the hilarious circumstances that ensue. Once the Adam character came into play, I felt the movie went downhill. It tried to hard to become a romantic comedy when it should’ve just maintained its course and become a full-on raunchy sex comedy about older people.

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin made comedic gold every single time they are on screen together. The scenes with them are just genuinly funny as anything and make this plot even funnier. John Krasinski is also in this film, who much to my surprise steals the show every time he has a line and plays it real well. Steve Martin isn’t quite given much to be his funny, cooky self we are used to him being, and I was a bit dissapointed. Though we get to see him one scene going back to his old ways, it doesn’t stay like that.

Consensus: It’s Complicated can be kind of a complicated movie to get through at points, but has great performances from its cast, and some genuine funny and also heart-wrenching scenes.


The Man Without a Face (1993)

In order to prep for Edge of Darkness, I’m going to give this Mel Gibson treat a try.

Against long odds, a young boy (Nick Stahl) works hard to pass the entrance exam that will allow him to enter his late father’s alma mater. The handicap is that he’s ignored by his mother and sisters. So, he asks Justin Mcleod (Mel Gibson), an ex-teacher who’s horribly disfigured, to tutor him. As they work hard together to prepare for the examination, the man and boy forge a friendship that could heal the wounds of both their pasts.

This is Mel Gibson’s second attempt to show that hey he can act and have a lot of heart, rather than just being the action hunk like in all those Lethal Weapon films.

The film I will give it one thing does have a lot of heart. It creates this relationship, that at times is questionable, between an older man who has had this accident and a young confused kid. I felt like this movie does bring out some heart-felt scenes between the two and I felt like the scenes of Gibson teaching were some of the best in the film.

However, this film does get a little bit too much for a long time. The teenage angst that Stahl faces comes off and on about 100 times in this film and one incident after another, I just got annoyed of his moods changing every time. Even worse was his family who is probably one of the worst I’ve seen cause they do nothing but tease this kid, and then they wonder why he is always acting up.

There is also no freshness to this story. It is probably the same story you have seen all the time with the man having problems with his life, and the boy with his, I just didn’t sense any originality. There were no suprises when it came to the story and the way it was handled because, though i thought some speeches were good, almost all of the scenes ended the way I thought were going to.

Gibson does a very good job as both director and lead actor. He handles this movie with little inspiration, but also gives a very heart-felt and believable performance. But the best is Stahl who later on would get bigger roles, but shows that at an early age he should be getting even bigger roles because he does shine here as the kid.

Consensus: The Man Without a Face has inspired direction and acting from Gibson with some heart-felt scenes, but isn’t very original and comes off as way too predictable at points.


City of God (2002)

Brazil is such a fucked up place to be!

Buscapé (Alexandre Rodrigues) is frightened he’ll end up like the countless others around him — troubled, violent or dead. But his saving grace is his photographer’s eye, through which the stories of several people who live in his forsaken Cidade de Deus unfold. Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund direct this sobering look at life inside a Rio de Janeiro housing project, reputed to be one of the most dangerous parts of an otherwise magical city.

Before I start this review I just want to say one thing, and that is that this film none other than simply a masterpiece. I never thought I was going to be as astonished with this film as I was, and I’m so glad I’ve seen this.

Director Fernando Meirelles does a great job at constructing this film. Its spans over three decades, and features so many twists and turns with many different characters that you barely even know. He goes back and forth between decades without you even realizing he has, and your not confused one bit by all these characters and their reason for being in the film.It has this look of Pulp Fiction, and Memento as it shows an event happening but from different view points so that we fully understand what and why it happened.

The film is utterly disturbing. There are plenty of scenes that just contain random and innocent people being killed, women being killed, and the most disturbing children being killed. It’s all so very very disturbing but in a way it doesn’t feel exploited. I started to get used to the killing and I felt like I was there with them as this was happening. The violence is relentless and mostly done in a casual way so it doesn’t quite surprise anyone. The gritty look mixed with a lot of the drug abuse, and violence doesn’t feel fake at all, it effects you and makes you understand what these people go through on a day to day basis.

The cinematography is something that will really get you watching as well. The way the camera moves along with the action and the scenes it gets you in a sense of energy, and I’m kind of sure that some of the techniques used here were somehow used in Slumdog Millionaire, but I’m just saying. Also, the writing here is top-notch and it all feels like actual real dialouge and spoken by true and real people.

The best part of this movie is the characters that inhabit it. From the beginning we understand who these people are just based on by the actions and their morality choosing. Enough screen-time is given to enough of these characters for us to fully relate to them and understand who they are as a whole person, instead of just these savage gangsters. The acting here is really something to watch. They have ll these little kids from about 6 and 7, to about young men of like 18,19, and 20, but every one act as if they were all natural-born thespians. The best performance here and probably the most sinister is Douglas Silva who plays the main bad guy Li’l Ze and does an amazing job at being one of the biggest villains in any film that i have seen in a long time.

Consensus: City Of God is a masterpiece. It has wonderful and inspired direction, with a gritty and violent look that is disturbing but doesn’t feel exploited in any way, and great characters that are backed by increcible performances. This is one of the greatest films I have seen in a long time, and anyone that likes good movies should give this one a try, cause you will not be dissapointed.

10/10=Full Pricee!!!

BTW: Here is just one of the most Iconic Images in cinema history that will soon be hanging somewhere in my room very shortly.

Foul Play (1978)

Now I can see where Kate Hudson gets her looks!

Goldie Hawn shines as gentle librarian Gloria Mundy, who finds her peaceful and slightly boring existence shaken when she uncovers a plan to assassinate the Pope in this action-comedy inspired by Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. Fearing for her life, Gloria elicits the help of local cop, Tony Carlson (Chevy Chase), who’s game enough to take on the strange case. Good thing, too, as matters morph from odd to bizarre and love blooms between the two.

This film is weird in a way cause it combines all these different elements of film. It features a mixture of comedy/thriller genre with a bit of Hitchcock.

I think the film fails at a lot of the comedy its trying to hit here in the film. Some jokes do hit the money, and actually bring out a couple of laughs, but there are some that are just bad. By the end of the film there was way too much physical comedy to make me laugh, like honestly how many times can we see a guy getting hit in the balls?

The film’s run time is quite long actually almost hitting the two-hour mark which I felt was not needed at all. I thought this blending did work out in some ways but in others it just failed. I think the thrilling aspect was actually too dark, and by adding this witty comedy kind of had a bad taste.

Goldie Hawn does give off a good performance here and shows that she can be funny, cooky, and also very weird but make it seem believable. Chevy Chase I was surprised by cause he’s not very funny here. Yeah, you can see the charm that would help him out later on in his life, but it just doesn’t click here. My favorite supporting act is Dudley Moore from Arthur, he gives off that zany character we know him from and makes a lot of the moments that are serious, funny.

Consensus: Foul Play has some funny moments and good performances, but fails with the genre blending of thriller and comedy, and runs on too long with way too much witless physical humor.


Cradle Will Rock (1999)

One of the worst planned out plays ever!

In the 1930s, as labor strikes erupt across the country, New York City launches a dramatic cultural revolution of its own. Orson Welles (Angus Macfadyen) stages the controversial titular play — a leftist manifesto. Diego Rivera (Ruben Blades) paints a socialist allegory on the walls of Rockefeller Center. And Margherita Sarfatti (Susan Sarandon) gives Da Vinci masterworks to any millionaire who’ll fund her war effort on Mussolini’s behalf.

Now this film has an insanely huge star-studded cast. It is honestly filled with some comedic and dramatic greats that it’s hard to say it almost doesn’t work, but in reality it kind of doesn’t.

It often talks down to the viewer, as it assumes that no one outside of the film and professional theater industry could know about these events or the mood of the nation at this time. The movie’s radical stance is that artists should get to do their art without being destroyed by mean rich people, and aren’t we just wonderful for agreeing with that?

The film puts all these ideas or radicalism, and communism in the film that it makes you wonder is this even about the play at all? I asked myself that many countless of times, I just wish that the film actually focused more on the play, cause I found those scenes to be more entertaining than the ones that were all about the themes of communism and radicalism.

There are some very good things about this film though. I did like the setting and I thought that was really welld done of how it actually did look like the depression era. Also, the script although packed with a lot of combustion and crazyness still does bring out some good ideas, and actually funny humor. It has very dramatic moments, but is soon brought out by it’s comedic factor which works very well at times.

The best part of this film is the acting from the cast. The film does have that great ensemble-cast who each fits their part respectively very well. Tuturro gives a very solid performance showing the anger that has always been inside of him, and Watson shows she can use her charm to probe to still be a cute young character. The best of the side performances I think was Bill Murray who plays a ventriloquist, and brings a lot of humor to the film but also the heart that the film needed.

Consensus: Cradle Will Rock is over-stuffed with way too many themes, and different stories that don’t jell together very well, but has a very witty screenplay, and a wonderfully acted ensemble cast.


Blood Work (2002)

Clint showing he was going to die so early in his career.

Retired FBI director Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood), feeble from a recent heart transplant, is hired by Graciela Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) to investigate the death of her sister, Gloria — who is, coincidentally, the donor of McCaleb’s new heart. McCaleb soon deduces that Gloria was murdered by a serial killer he was trailing for years while in the FBI … but can the elderly agent muster the strength to hunt down the killer and stop him for good?

This is once again one of those films starring and directed by Eastwood, who always tries to show these complex movies with a different take all the time.

The one thing about this film is that it’s all based on a real-life character that doesn’t seem fictional at all. Instead of playing these invincible heroes, Eastwood is a man that has faults in his life, with a worsening heart condition that always seem to get in his way.

The one thing about this film is that it isn’t about guessing who did the case, it’s more of about the relationships that build because of this case. This adds a more human element to the film of where we can see all these heart-warming elements put together.

I had some problems with this film however. Right from the beginning I knew who the villain was. I’m not going to give anything away but its pretty obvious who it is, and when it actually comes up of who it is the surprise element isn’t there. Much of the action was completely unbelievable. One of my little quirks is to be absolutely annoyed at Clint’s consistent ability to brandish firearms like a pro, then make comments that prove he knows nothing about them.

Clint does do a good job here as usual as this old, run-down, cop that could just drop at any moment and he plays it real well here. The best supporting act is Jeff Daniels who brings a lot of a comedic element to the film without acting too much like a goof and throwing us off the whole movie.

Consensus: Blood Work has good performances and nice tales of morality, but falls in with too much predictable plot lines, and unbelievable action.


The Hurricane (1999)

Who can Denzel not play!

Denzel Washington lands a knockout punch as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a prizefighter who — at the zenith of his boxing career — finds himself wrongly convicted of a triple homicide and sentenced to three life terms. While in prison, Carter pens his autobiography, which inspires Brooklyn teen Lesra Martin (Vicellous Reon Shannon) and a trio of Canadian advocates (Liev Schreiber, John Hannah and Deborah Unger) to help prove Carter’s innocence.

From the first 30 minutes of this film it didn’t prove to be anything special. Actually, if anything it just proved to be a bit sloppy. I didn’t understand what the intention of how to tell this story was, but it started to grow on me.

The one thing that this film does is that it doesn’t take the old cliche route of telling the story of The Hurricane from birth all the way up through his years as a boxer. We get a short glimpse of how his childhood was ruined, and then we go into his older life before he was put in prison. I think this added a new sense of story-telling for these kinds of stories and works in more ways than one.

The film is very powerful with it’s statement. It does bring out a big sense of heart within you and actually does get you into the story as it did for me. You see yourself cheering for The Hurricane as he’s going through his miserable life.

The film did have some lows however. I think that Director Norman Jewison should have focused more on how The Hurricane survived being inside of those bars, and how he changed as a person. Also, the film’s facts are a little or too way of. I think that the film creates these ideas of what really happened and spins them in their own way for the dramatic effect. In some ways, I didn’t mind this but I know how the real story goes and it’s not quite like this.

Denzel once again plays his ass out! This is one of Denzel’s best acting performances that I’ve seen from him, as he shows that he can play a character with such anger and rage, and let it all out and make it seem believable. I didn’t like how they casted Dan Hedaya and had him acting like such a bad-guy just because he looked like one.

Consensus: The Hurricane is a powerful film that boasts a fresh way of story-telling and a excellent performance from Washington, but seems to suffer from some inaccuracies, and a slight bit of misfires.


The King of Comedy (1982)

Celebrities: sometimes we love them, sometimes we hate them, but mostly we’re obsessed with them.

Director Martin Scorsese hits a satirical bulls-eye in this black comedy that explores the absurd lengths to which nebbish Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) will go to land a spot on the TV talk show of his idol, Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Pupkin believes that one appearance on Langford’s show will be his ticket to stardom, so he kidnaps his idol and sets into motion a chain of events you have to see to believe!

The film has a comedy look in the title and in the poster but if anything it’s a lot more of a serious look into the world of being a fan.

The film shows Pupkin as a very strange, obsessive guy who will never take no for an answer. The one thing I liked in this film was that it gives you this strange claustrophobic feeling within this guy’s head. You see how he lives and goes off on talking about celebrities, and it actually makes you think about some of the biggest fans in the world, are sometimes the creepiest.

The way the film is structured is to show us to what stardom can do to you. Our desire to become so famous is so strong, and so intense that it makes us delusional, and think of things that are in the real world and what are not.

De Niro does gives probably one of his most bizarre performances of his career, and shows that he can be so uncomfortable, and strange that it can actually start to have an effect on us. Jerry Lewis gives a good performance here as the celebrity that has so much anger to hide that when it comes out, he goes really really insane.

The ending is what kind of ruined it for me in a way. I think that the ending could have been a bit more clear to its approach to its subject material and actually had me a bit confused. Was this reality or fiction?

Consensus: An unexplained ending, but The King Of Comedy has two equally-matched performances, very dark look into the world of obsession, and a hidden gem from Scorsese.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Hudson Hawk (1991)

I really wish I didn’t have to take time out of my life and watch this, honestly.

This Bruce Willis vehicle puts its star in the shoes of Hudson Hawk, a skilled cat burglar who times his robberies by singing show tunes. After being released from jail, Hawk wants to do nothing more than hang out in cafés, but criminal financiers Darwin and Minerva Mayflower (Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard) blackmail Hawk into one last job — stealing a Leonardo Da Vinci device that turns lead into gold.

This film tries so so hard to be different. With its little gags, unrealistic happenings, and over-zealous characters, the film tries to act so zany and goofy that you have got to like it. too bad that is not the idea here.

I mean I understand the reason for being over-the-top, but come on, you can’t be this crazy. I mean they have the crooks singing while taking away the painting from Da Vinci. I mean stop singing and get the freakin’ picture, and get on with your lives.

The writing starts off from zero, and barely ever makes that attempt to get themselves out of that slump. There wasn’t one line in this film that I actually found humorous. The people actually watching this film will just feel so distant cause we never really know who these characters are, and why they say the things that they do.

Willis is the man! But cannot do anything to get rid of the bad taste in this film. Everybody in this film seems like their just trying one-up each other and make the other one seem less funny by their own little speech. None of this works and it just ends up turning into complete and utter junk.

Consensus: Willis tries, but Hudson Hawk is horribly and confusingly written, characters that aren’t interesting, and a plot that tries so hard to be different but fails and ends up just being plain stupid.

0/10=Stay Away!!!!!!

Hard Eight (1997)

PT taking a page out of Tarantino’s book.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film charts the relationship between reckless youth John (John C. Reilly) and world-weary card shark Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), who takes John under his wing after showing him how to exploit the casinos’ perks. Years later, the surrogate father and son are successful gamblers until John falls for a cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and gets mixed up with a shady stranger (Samuel L. Jackson).

The film looks like as if its going to be your usual gambling drama film, but then suddenly switches into the mode of suspense thriller, which totally took me by suprise.

The one extraordinary  thing that this film does is that it does focus so much on the thrilling aspect but on the characters at hand. PT Anderson gives us these interesting and compelling characters who from the get-go we know nothing about, but want to know so much more as the film goes on.

PT Anderson really does show off some of his best work here, as he uses the camera to make so many things work. For example, he uses the camera to move with the same action as somebody handing another person a paper, instead of just the usual thing in big-time Hollywood, and blowing it up. Also, there is a lot of very good writing here as it seems all so realistic as it goes along with the scene.

The problem with this film is that its pacing in the middle is a little off. The beginning is energetic and entertaining, but in the middle the film starts to drag. The ending I had a lot of problems with, one because it ends with this random bolt of violence that we don’t see once throughout the whole film until then, and two because it just seems like the big twist at the end was a little tacked on. I will say it did throw me off a bit, but it didn’t feel right in this story and just added on to put in more shocking things to happen.

Baker Hall is just without a doubt so mesmerizing in this role, and I’m just so surprised to see how some performance of this nature, and of this talent couldn’t land him any more big roles. Samuel L. is basically as crazy as usual but I would have liked to see more from his character until he just randomly starts more combustion near the end of the film.

Consensus: Hard Eight is an impressive debut from PT Anderson, with great performances, catchy writing, and a wonderful character study, but misses the mark with its pacing, and its random use of its ending.


The Road (2009)

After reading the novel over the summer, finally got to seeing this.

In the near future, the world has been virtually destroyed. From the ash-covered, post-apocalyptic remains of Appalachia, the Father (Viggo Mortensen) and Son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) take to the road in search of a better life. The Father’s health is failing, lending urgency to a journey impeded by nomadic bands of cannibalistic humans.

The Road is a film, much like the Cormac McCarthy novel, that is incredibly bleak and depressing. It is set in a world that is just full of disaster and death, and with having a son-father duo in the middle of it made it all the more emotional.

The set pieces really do look great here as I would have imagined. Director John hillcoat chose not to use CGI for the world which is a lot better considering it makes the disaster itself a lot more genuine with its look. Also, the film thankfully doesn’t tell us what happened at all to the world when the disasters started. This allows you to add your own horrific apacolypse happenings in your mind, and from what I was imagining was quite freaky.

However, I felt that way too many times Hillcoat was trying way too hard to win a bunch of Oscars. By putting all these little heart-warming scenes, and over direction at points, I didn’t feel the heart and nature of the novel come out in this film.

The film is bleak but not quite bleak enough. I felt like it was just going through the motions of when and how bleak and depressing it had to be. I feel like their giving the audience a lot much more of an easier time to sink all this time in, and not be quite true the heart and soul of the novel.

Mortensen is spectacular in this role as the dad here. He shows that he can handle a movie where there are barely any other humans, and make it seem believable. Kodi Smit-McPhee is surprisingly very well here as the son, as you can feel the confusion but also the despair of this poor child in his performance.

Consensus: The Road benefits from the commitment to the Cormac McCarthy novel, with powerful performances from its cast, but doesn’t quite capture the soul of the novel and feels like its just reading the letters.


Gomorrah (2009)

When realism takes its way into the world of mobsters.

The intertwining tales of a delivery boy, a tailor, a businessman and two cocky teenagers form the fabric of this gritty and lyrical examination of the influential Neapolitan mob known as the Camorra.

Before watching this film you must know that this is almost nothing like the usual gangster flick, American audiences are used to seeing. This whole film doesn’t seem fake, and shot as if it were happening right in front of your eyes in real life.

Time and time again I have seen films that have totally romanticized the mob, here, that is not the case at all. The film is so gritty and just looks so real as if it were a documentary on Italian mobsters. The setting doesn’t feel fake at all, with a lot more genuine sights of the slums of lower Italy.

When watching this you have to be incredibly patient. The hard thing is that you don’t know where half of these characters come from but later on in the movie you finally do, so its very rewarding. The problem I had with this film was that too many times did I feel like some of the most interesting stories should have been given more time. I wish the story of the two bone-headed teens were given a lot more time then what they were given, because I felt the heart of the film lied in that story.

The violence, although not as massive and graphic as other mafia movies, has the same effect as I’ve seen it in other films. Where a lot of previous mafia films take an almost artistic approach to death and violence (i.e. Sonny’s death in The Godfather), Gomorrah shows this in its purest form: violent, sudden and emotionless. Every death in the film comes out of nowhere, charging in with gunshots that made me jump every single time. As the movie goes along, one really understands how suiting the title of Gomorrah fits the film, as a city destroyed by brimstone and fire from God himself.

The film itself is also unique in its cinematography. There were plenty of close-ups and establishing shots that we see in most films, but what made up for its common conventions was the balance in each shot along with some of the unique angles of other shots.

Consensus: Gomorrah is a rocky experience, but is rewarding with is sudden violence, unique way of handling the camera, and just a film that is so gritty that it just all feels real.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!