Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: December 2010

Being There (1979)

Makes me want to watch more TV.

Illiterate gardener Chance (Peter Sellers) is run over by wealthy Eve (Shirley MacLaine) and suddenly becomes educated gent Chauncey Gardiner, thanks to Eve’s misunderstanding of his mumbled introduction. Taken in by Eve’s family, Chance simply regurgitates what he’s heard on TV — from gardening instructions to economic predictions — and Washington’s political elite hail him as their next star.

I love it when movies that start off alright, turn out to be something incredible. That is the case with this treat.

The one thing I really loved about this film was its screenplay. It rides the coat-tails of being a satire, a comedy, and a drama. But all of it works together, because there’s so much heart and humor you just cannot resist the film. I liked how the story is so original. It shows this guy who literally does nothing, and is so simple, but captivates so many people, and they think he’s the most different guy in the world. But in a good way.

It was funny to see how all these different people reacted to everything Chance said. He literally is talking about something else, but they think he’s talking about another thing, and the reactions are priceless. Never have misunderstandings been so funny.

I feel though that the film wasn’t all that believable. Never would a man so simple, and yet so strange, actually be taken as seriously, as he was taken in this film. As much as the reactions of the fellow humans are funny, I didn’t quite believe them, but hey I mean I guess this could all just work as a piece of fiction.

Peter Sellers is honestly what makes this film, purely amazing. He’s known for playing all these crazy, goony characters from all these comedies, but here he changes it all up into somebody thoughtful, somebody true. He doesn’t use a single impersonation, or his constant use of jokes, he just plays it all simple, and that’s the best thing about him. Everybody around him is crazy, but he stays normal, and I loved this performance. Melvyn Douglas is good here, in an Oscar-winning role, that brings so much heart to the film, not that it was much needed. Shirley MacLaine had me laughing almost every time she was on screen, providing plenty of the scorn woman hilarity we would expect. Must I add, Jack Warden is our President in this film. Nuff said.

As everybody knows, there is an ending here, not gonna give anything away, that will totally take you by surprise. I loved the ending, and I think that’s one of the main things that really does make this film legendary. Was I expecting it? Not at all, and I think that’s the best thing about it, and this movie.

Consensus: Not all too believable, but still a classic dramedy, with winning performances from the cast, and a screenplay that surely will take you away.



The Fighter (2010)

Just shows you that crack is not always whack. I mean just look at Christian Bale. The guys freakin’ Batman.

Mark Wahlberg stars as boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and Christian Bale as half brother and trainer Dicky Eklund in this inspiring drama based on the fighter‘s rise from working-class Lowell, Mass., to world-class welterweight champ. After a string of defeats, Mickey rediscovers his fighting will with help from Dicky — a once-talented pugilist battling drug addiction.

There hasn’t been a very good boxing movie lately. Now that other “sports” like UFC, MMA, hell even Professional wresting for that matter have taken over mainstream, people have sort of forgotten about boxing. Especially in the film world, but thanks to this, it makes me want more of them.

Director David O. Russell is known for being a huge dick off-screen, and hasn’t really done much else that people know, but because of this film, I think he has finally broken into the mainstream. And it’s with all good reason, he does an amazing job at making this one of the most entertaining pieces of the year. It’s more of a character study than it actually is a boxing film, but it still delivers on plenty of fun, family escapades for us to watch. Also, it was really neat to see the match sequences to be filmed in the digital style that HBO used to use back in the day, and it really did make it all look legit, and not just another boxing film fight sequence.

The screenplay works really well too providing us with a lot more comedy than I expected.  There is also a lot of themes that touch on the element of family, which play out so well. You laugh, you cry, but most of all, you love your family, and in the end they always have the best intentions. This film the way it is written, and the way it all plays out, just seems so real. Although you know how this story is going to turn out, you still cannot stop watching, and getting attached to these characters. Everything just seemed very real, and there are barely any moments that feel like they were just put on for the big-screen.

The one main problem I had with this film is that I think it could have gone longer. I know that’s a weird complaint, because many people will probably complain about how it is almost too long, but for me I wanted more somehow. That sounds greedy, and spoiled, but the ending didn’t fully satisfy me to the point of where I was just jumping for joy. This is a weird complaint, I know that, but I just wanted a longer run time.

The main reason to see this is it’s amazing cast. Mark Wahlberg does the straight-man act that he does in a lot of films, but hey it’s not so bad. He is an easy guy to like, and you can tell his frustration with his family, and boxing career. This gives us more of a reason to rally behind him, and keep on watching, which is what all boxing movies need. Amy Adams really steps out of her “goody goody two shoes” light, and gets dirty, bad, and sassy. I loved her performance, and her quick delivery with every line is not only believable, but its also funny, and we actually as fans want to go out with her. Let’s not also forget Melissa Leo who is just perfect as the asshole Mom, who just can’t handle being a nobody. Her performance I loved. But………

The real show is right next to Marky Mark on that poster up above. I have always liked Christian Bale, when people give him shit for his douche bag ways off the screen, and cocky attitude, I have always appreciated almost everything he does. And now all that love that I have given him finally pays off, as I have just seen his best performance, and probably one of the best performances of the year. I loved this performance so freakin’ much. Bale is silly, sad, gritty, crazy, fearless, skinny as a toothpick, but also likable as your any other average Joe. You believe all the little tics, and weird things he says and does, and he commands your attention, and well you gotta give it to him. His character, Dickie Eklund, just couldn’t give up the limelight, and with this performance neither can Bale, cause he steals it. Every scene he is in, he just commands almost every time, and I sure as hell hope he gets an Oscar, cause he is just one of the biggest and best joys to watch on screen.

Consensus: The Fighter may be a story you have seen before, but the inspired direction, and amazing ensemble performances from this cast, make this treat, a fun-filled, entertaining boxing movie, that made us realize we missed this genre too much.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Another Tony Scott film that blows. How am I not surprised?

Bruce Willis stars as Joe Hallenbeck, a down-and-out private detective forced to team up with a disgraced pro football quarterback (Damon Wayans) to uncover a conspiracy engineered by a crooked politician and a corrupt football team owner.

This film cause quite an uproar back in the day, when the script from Shane Black, sold for about $1.75 million. That surprises me because I do not know who would want to pay that money, for this crap.

I will not lie, this film actually did start off pretty well for about the first 20 minutes. There was a lot of humor, fun action, and the plot was some what original. But then something happens out of nowhere. We start to dive into a weird plot, that just gets weirder, and weirder for no reason. The beginning was really lame, and right as you see it, you’ll think the same thing.

Usually when it comes to these action thrillers, I can take them if they are formulaic, as long as the action is good, and the script is alright. The action in this doesn’t save this movie from being the same old crap I’ve seen time and time again. I’ve seen all this action before, and it’s not even cool, just a cheap, and lame excuse to let Tony Scott blow shit up.

The script from Shane Black is somewhat alright. There’s a lot of those corny one-liners you would expect from a 90’s action/comedy, but the best scenes I think are when it’s Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, just talking about everyday things. There performances are good, and in a way, they have that obvious chemistry that these films always build on, and when they talk about family, love, or just problems they have, it all feels real, and somewhat fresh. However, we don’t get enough of this, and therefore the film is brought down a whole lot.

Consensus: Some parts are nice, mainly the average script, but the action doesn’t save this generic, corny, and dumb action/comedy.


Black Swan (2010)

Now I know I’m not taking any dance lessons any time soon.

In director Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller, ambitious New York City ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) lands the lead role in “Swan Lake” but soon thinks her dreams of stardom are threatened by a rival ballerina (Mila Kunis). As opening night approaches and the pressure to be perfect builds, Nina’s obsession descends into paranoia and delusion.

If anybody is going to make me feel totally creeped out, and utterly confused of my surroundings, Darren Aronofsky is the man to do it. He directs this film perfectly. It’s so tense at times that you don’t know quite exactly what’s going on, but you know something is bound to just happen, and you can’t take your eyes off the screen.

The one thing that glued me into this story was the fact that it really does mess with your mind., which you will rarely get in the theaters nowadays. You can’t really tell what’s real, or what’s dream-like, but you know it’s not all good. There are certain images that just give you that huge sense of paranoia, and have you know that nothing is going right. I was creeped out by a lot of the crap that was going on, but most of all I was effected.

I had one problem with this film, and it was the story at hand. I liked how the story touches on themes such as obsession over one’s work, and perfection, but the story had me pretty bummed. The film tells us the story of the play within this film, Swan Lake, which is all fine and dandy, until we start to realize that the play itself almost mirrors exactly what’s going to happen to these characters in real life. So the idea of not knowing what’s going to happen next was almost dead for me, except for some parts, that actually did throw me off, so the film wasn’t totally doomed.

Natalie Portman is probably what really has this film kicking. I think she is a good actress when she needs to be, but we still have never gotten that role from her, that just ultimately sticks out in our mind, other than the one from Closer. But here, she changes all of that, and gives the best performance of her career. Her character is so completley delusional, weak, and overly obsessive with being the best, that you sympathize with her in the beginning, but then you start to see her go through this transformation to a very bad, living on the edge kind of girl, and the transition is believable. You can feel the stress coming from her character, and when she let’s it all out, you know it for sure. I also enjoyed how she really did fight for this role, probably being about 90 pounds for the role, as well as mastering all the dance moves that were needed. She looks very legit for this role, when she is, and even when she isn’t dancing. Hopefully an Oscar will be coming her way soon.

The supporting cast is also something to talk about as well. I have never really liked Mila Kunis when she’s playing those dramatic roles she does, because I can never fully believer her at all, but here she does a very good job at it, probably because her character isn’t all that serious which I liked. She’s cool, sexy, and funny, which brings a lot to the film, as well as competition to Portman’s character who is so sheltered, its cool to see these to interact with one another. Vincent Cassel is also very creepy, but good as this sly, manipulative show director, that takes every advantage he can find. Barbara Hershey was also very good as Portman’s mother, that has a lot of creepiness to her, but it all works, because shes good at playing that. Winona Ryder shows up and has a good scene here and there, and it’s always good to see her back and working.

Consensus: The story may not be all that there, but Black Swan makes you feel paranoia, suspense, and erotic themes, mainly from the tight direction of Aronofsky, and the amazing performance from Portman, among others.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

The Family Stone (2005)

Reason why I don’t ever bring my ladies around to the crib during Christmas.

Although their relationship works in the city, things begin to fall apart for buttoned-up Manhattanites Everett (Dermot Mulroney) and Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) when they visit the suburbs for the holidays to stay with Everett’s family. Sarah’s first meeting with Everett’s parents (Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson) proves so traumatic that she calls in her sister (Claire Danes) for backup — a move that only makes Christmas more complicated.

I was completley surprised by this film. Now I remember seeing this way back when, and at least enjoying it for that matter, but I didn’t take it all in. Now that it’s Christmas time, I really do like this one.

The one thing that really shocked me was how good the writing actually is. There are plenty of moments of well-deserved humor, that will either have you chuckling, or laughing out loud, all depending on your type of comedy. However, there are also plenty of touching moments that may tug at some heart strings.

I think the best thing about this film is that it’s all about family. How everybody in it, no matter how crazy, or nuts they may be, you care for them all. It’s set in Christmas and shows a lot of the shenanigans that can occur during this time, but the real treat is watching how each and every family member interacts with each other. You feel like your apart of the family, and that’s not a bad thing, cause you like them all.

However, my one main problem with this film is that it’s tone awkwardly shifts all over the place. There are moments of humor, but then there are just very, very serious moments, that really get to you, and you wonder just what kind of film is this. It plays back and forth between comedy, drama, and also tragedy, but the constant shifting was kind of annoying, but it didn’t ruin my experience. I just knew it could have been way better.

The ensemble cast is what really had me watching the whole time. Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson are perfect as this aging couple that really just wants there family together, as they hold a secret that’s very near, and dear to them. Sarah Jessica Parker is actually very good in a role that requires here to be charming, but also awkward, with a hint of confusion, and she surprisingly pulls it off pretty well, which I was not expecting. Dermot Mulroney as usual is just amazing here, providing plenty of key dramatic scenes. Luke Wilson also brings humor with his perfect comedic timing, and this film is no different. Rachel McAdams plays a pretty mean person in this film, but then she starts to grow on us, and we start to actually enjoy her presence. Claire Danes pops up, and her character is likable, mainly also thanks to Danes’ appeal.

Consensus: The ensemble is strong, and the writing has many funny moments, as well as touching, but the awkward shift in tone for this film provided too much confusion as to what it wanted to be.


Nothing Like the Holidays (2008)

Even Puerto Ricans know how to celebrate Christmas, who would of thought?

John Leguizmo and Alfred Molina head up an all-star cast in this multicultural ensemble comedy that follows a trio of Puerto Rican siblings — a Marine, an actress and a businessman — on their way home to Chicago for a Christmastime family reunion. Directed by Alfredo De Villa, the holiday tale also features performances by Debra Messing, Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez, Freddy Rodriguez, Vanessa Ferlito and Melonie Diaz.

So thinking since it’s the holiday season, it’s time for me to spread a little bit of Christmas cheer, for all to , well, see. This film came out in 2008, and has been widely forgotten about, which blows considering, it is a great feel-good movie for the whole family, come Christmas time.

This film does a great job at keeping you watching. It has a great appeal, of a big family that reunites all together for the big Christmas day & dinner. I enjoyed watching all the moments that lead up to the eventful dinner, mainly because a lot of the things were funny, but at the same time, some of them were just plain dramatic, and in a way felt real. Hell, this family may even remind you of your own at times.

Although there is some well scripted comedy it is not enough to make up for the constant parading of unresolved problems which pile up like dead bodies by the side of the road. And although there is some resolve you still can’t get those dead carcasses out of your mind. This may be more realistic of the way many families live, at Christmas but I would rather focus on the positive than dwell in the negative at least one month out of the year.

Despite the film being also quite predictable, as most dysfunctional family movies are, the characters keep you glued on. Alfred Molina as Eddy, the dad, and Elizabeth Pena as Anna, the mom do a great job with their roles as parents with marital problems that they have kept hidden for the most part. Luis Guzman always finds a way to bring great comedy to any film. Freddy Rodriguez is good here, providing a very likable character. John Leguizamo, and Debra Messing, actually have a good chemistry together, and although their a couple that doesn’t seem like they would work on screen, they actually do a good job at being a couple with baby problems.

Consensus: Not the best Christmas movies out there, mainly because it focuses too negatively on some subjects, but the likable characters, and strong performances, make you feel good while watching this little holiday treat.


The Ghost Writer (2010)

The one good thing that people may recently actually like from Roman Polanski.

A writer (Ewan McGregor) stumbles upon a long-hidden secret when he agrees to help former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) complete his memoirs on a remote island after the politician’s assistant drowns in a mysterious accident. In director Roman Polanski’s tense drama, the author realizes that his discovery threatens some very powerful people who will do anything to ensure that certain episodes from Lang’s past remain buried.

This is a film directed by every little boys, and girls favorite director……..Roman Polanski!! I feel bad for the guy, I mean his whole family was basically killed in the Holocaust, and his wife, along with soon to be child, were both murdered by those crazy-ass Manson followers. However, I’m not sticking up for the guy. I still do think what he has done in the past was wrong, and should not be praised for.

But away from his personal life, Polanski is a very good director. Mainly at suspense. I haven’t seen many of his films, but the ones I have seen from him (The Pianist, Chinatown) have all kept me on the edge of my seat. And while this one, isn’t as great as them too, it’s still tensely directed by Polanski. He really does know how to slowly build-up suspense within a film, and sometimes in the most depressing places. I don’t think once during this whole film, the sun came out.

Still, despite this film actually doing a pretty good job of keeping me suspended, the script could have done so much better. There were too many points in this film where the script just seemed too average for this type of subject. I liked how it kind of felt like an old school, hard-boiled, detective story, but it never goes anywhere beyond that, and just sticks to its certain limitations. I was also wondering too whether or not this was one of Polanski’s ways of saying a big old “f**k you” to the U.S., but whatever it was, he’s trying to say something, which I’m still kind of confused by.

I also did like Polanski’s direction, but I think he uses way too much of the suspenseful score, when it really wasn’t needed. There were plenty of moments that were terribly suspenseful, and it didn’t need some sort of music to get me like that. I think if he used no score, this film would have still been as equally as suspenseful.

Ewan McGregor does a pretty strong job here as our ghost, and although he isn’t the underdog we can stand behind, and cheer for while he’s trying to show all these corrupt assholes for what they really are, you can’t stop watching him, and does a good job. Pierce Brosnon is good here also, providing a lot of surprisingly tense scenes every time he’s on screen. It almost kind of brings us away from the fact that it’s James Bond playing the Prime Minister. Olivia Williams does an effective job as the broken-down Prime Minister’s wife, having plenty of emotional scenes. Kim Cattrall is also in this, and I almost for a second, forget she was Samantha Jones, cause she was actually very good. You’ll also notice other familiar faces in this film like Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, and a very bald James Belushi. Never thought I’d see him in anything again.

Consensus: Certainly not one of Polanski’s best, but not his worst, The Ghost Writer is still very tense, suspenseful, and well acted, even though it may not keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time.


Flirting With Disaster (1996)

Is it a good idea to go and find your real parents, if your adopted? This film thinks so.

Impending fatherhood sends once-adopted Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller) on a quest to find his birth parents. With his exasperated wife, Nancy (Patricia Arquette), and screwy, seductive social worker Tina (Tea Leoni) in tow, Mel’s cross-country expedition isn’t about to go smoothly. Still, between false starts, risky flirting and the FBI, Mel just may find what he’s looking for … at the risk of losing his marbles!

So with The Fighter coming out, I thought I would check up on an earlier film, from director David O. Russell. Not many people know this film, hell, not many people know David O. Russell, but I hope they soon do, cause he has got some real talent.

My favorite thing about this film was its screenplay. The screenplay focuses on a lot of  conventional themes such as sex, marriage, and family. But the way the off-beat movie handles all those situations, just makes you laugh, as well as smile at the same time. There are sure to be plenty of gags that will have you laughing, but the fact that how goofy this is, makes you laugh even more, cause you know that this is how life really is sometimes. Life is full of plenty surprises, good and bad, we just can’t take them for granted, and keep moving on.

My main problem with this film was that I still don’t think David O. Russell took his film that serious, and got pretty carried away with his material. There were many moments in this film that could have been very heart-felt, and helped a lot with the story, but instead just keeps on being goofy, and random. In my opinion, this actually took away from the film, and takes away any idea of actually being a film that means something more than just a dirty comedy. I also felt like a lot of the random sex scenes, and just sexual things happening, were really smug. But they didn’t bother me as much.

Ben Stiller gives a very good performance, in one of his earliest roles, playing that quirky, straight-laced dude we all know him for today. When people think of the crap that Stiller does now, they should look back on this film, and realize that he can actually be funny, he just needs the right script. Patricia Arquette is also strong in this film, showing the emotional, and physical problems that a wife can go through. Tea Leoni is very funny, as well as sexy, as I always find her. Josh Brolin and Richard Jenkins show up, as a two gay cops, and just have us laugh almost every single scene. There are also funny, quirky roles played by Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda, and Lily Tomlin, which add even more comedy to this film.

Consensus: The direction may not be the best for this material, but Flirting With Disaster boasts great performances, and an amazing screenplay that will have you laughing, even though it may be a little bit too goofy.


I’m Still Here (2010)

It’s weird when somebody says they have retired from the film industry, so they go out, and star in a film.

In 2008, Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix walked away from acting to pursue a rap career, an inexplicably bizarre detour captured in stunning detail in this documentary directed by Phoenix’s brother-in-law, Casey Affleck.

This is a movie I really need to think about. But not in the way that I was expecting. I was one of those people who talked about the Joaquin Phoenix interview on Letterman a year back, wondering if he was for real, or if we were all on a big prank? Well stop reading if you want to remain in mystery.

It’s all a fake everybody.

And the problem I had with this film was that it’s dumb-ass Director, Casey Affleck (no Ben that’s for sure), had to just tell everybody right away as soon as this was supposed to come out that this was all a hoax. I don’t know why, he couldn’t have waited till the DVD release, because when you have a film like this, you want it to be so unique, that everyone will be talking about it whether or not it’s fake, but when you tell people that it’s not real, you take away all the mystery, and isn’t that what going to see a movie is all about. So this ruined my watching experience in a way, because everything I saw, no matter how entertaining, and different, I just never got fully caught up in it, cause I knew it was all just a big joke, that never took me by storm as I wish it had.

However, there are some nice little touches this film did. I liked seeing how Phoenix made a lot of his scenes with other people, very strange, awkward, and just plain old weird, but I was fascinated watching. I also liked how Affleck captured the media storm that was focused on Phoenix the whole time, as he was being this huge nut ball.

For some viewers, heads will be turned away from the screen at time, cause there are countless penis shots, sexual encounters, and out of nowhere, crapping on people’s faces. That’s right I’m talking about a film about Joaquin Phoenix, not a Jackass movie. It also brings up plenty of questions of celebrity, reality TV, and the media, but none of them are ever answered, and it just leaves us unsatisfied.

If you honestly want to see this film, watch it for nothing more, than to see Joaquin Phoenix act his ass off. Watching him on screen, the whole time, seeing him interacting with all these celebrities, and sometimes real people, was so surreal, and being a Phoenix fan myself, it was cool to watch him. You see him as this crazy dude, that acts out in public, but then you see him confessing the way he acts, and why he does the way he does, and it’s all very good, but not too emotional, since I basically knew it was all a hoax.  But as a rapper, he’s good at getting high, but when it comes to the actual skill, and flow with rapping, he doesn’t quite have “it”, but he’s not terrible, and at least tries. There’s also some nice little spots by P. Diddy, Antony Langdon of Spacehog fame, Ben Stiller, and a surprisingly touching scene with Edward James Olmos. I miss that dude!

Consensus: It is really a hard piece to watch and enjoy, considering you know it’s a fake going in, but Joaquin Phoenix is good enough here, and it was nice to watch some parts of this film play out the way they did, but it just didn’t answer all the questions I would have hoped it did.


Monsters, Inc. (2001)

No matter how old I get, this film will always have a safe place in my heart.

Pixar pitches another computer-animated classic with this family-friendly tale about the professional scarers of Monsters, Inc., who sneak into children’s bedrooms at night to elicit screams that they convert into energy to run their world. Life is fine for top scarer Sulley (John Goodman) and his assistant, Mike (Billy Crystal), until a little girl named Boo accidentally finds her way into the monster world — and into Sulley’s heart.

When I was a kid, I remember always watching this movie with my family, and everyone else. But for the most part, I haven’t seen this in quite some time, and this film still does not disappoint.

This is basically a G-rated film for the whole family. Anybody can watch it, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, hell even babies can. The script is funny, like most Pixar film’s scripts are. There are plenty of little winks, and jokes centered at adults, but it’s not to the point as to where the kids won’t laugh. Sometimes you can catch both laughing, which is a great thing after all. The visuals are also very fun to watch because they move from one visual, to another and create a great sense of fun.

But the main reason why this film works so well, is because it’s message is so heart-warming when you think about, mainly because the way it plays out in this film. So many points in this film will make you go: “awwww”, but also many parts will have your children know it’s alright to be scared sometimes, but it’s always nice to laugh every once and awhile too. Great message for the whole family.

My only slight problem with this film is that it really isn’t perfect, but hell, not all films I expect to be perfect. Especially this one, considering they were just bouncing back from Toy Story 1, and 2.

Billy Crystal does a hilarious job at giving this little eye-ball, Mike Wazowski, a lot more personality than you would expect from this odd creature. He brings out plenty of one-liners, with his signature delivery, and brings plenty of laughter to the screen. John Goodman is also very good here as Sully, that shows the deepest voice, can create the most loved characters. You can tell that these two have great comedic timing, as all their jokes, may not be perfect, still work cause they can do comedy the right way. Jennifer Tilly shows up, and is pretty funny, as well as Steve Buscemi, Bonnie Hunt, and James Coburn.

May I add that the ending here is probably one of the most underrated, great endings of all-time. It fully brings out a lot of emtoion, and maybe some tears, if your lucky enough.

Consensus: Fun, heart-warming, and suitable for the whole family, Monsters, Inc. brings a lot to the table, and has you watching as this nice, family animation film stuns you.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Brooklyn’s Finest (2010)

Second time I have seen this, and I don’t know why I was so mean to this the first time. Hey, second time is always a charm!

Antoine Fuqua directs this tense drama about three wildly different New York cops whose paths collide in a Brooklyn housing project, where each must make a decision that will change the course of their lives forever. Cynical, washed-up Eddie (Richard Gere) no longer cares about the job or the rules; cash-strapped Sal (Ethan Hawke) sees a shortcut to solvency; and Tango (Don Cheadle) is torn between conflicting loyalties.

I like the “cop film” genre. It always has it’s ups, and downs but usually when it’s going up, it’s always a fun, and sometimes, depressing way to watch.

A notable piece of info about this film is that it is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who is most known for another cop piece, Training Day. With that film, he goes over the top, with non-stop energy, almost throughout the whole film, and doesn’t stop until those last couple of credits are off the screen. But with this one, he does a good job at actually setting a pace, that is slow at first, but then starts to build up as it goes along, creating a more suspenseful atmosphere.I like how he didn’t shy away from showing just how gritty this world can be, and he does it all so well, with plenty of drugs, sex, and most of all, violence, that will sure get some fans cheering.

I did enjoy the writing in this film, but the problem is that it hits too many cliches that we have all seen before. Even the stories itself are pretty cliched. You got the aging cop, the undercover cop, and the struggling cop. All are pretty interesting, but you can’t help but think you have seen all these dudes before. And the problem is that, although we do like these characters for the most part, we sometimes get so involved with one story, that we almost forget about the other two. That is alright since all stories come together at the end, but when your trying to keep all stories interesting until the end, it’s kind of not a good thing to make others interesting from another.

The cast is what really lifts this film up more than you think. Out of the whole cast, Don Cheadle does the best in my opinion. You can feel the emotion, and constant pain that he’s going through, almost every scene he’s in, and you really do root for this character, and although you have seen his story told before, he still catches your attention, and keeps you watching. Ethan Hawke does a good job as well, not trying to act like some hard-ass, that we all don’t know him for, but here, he does a good job, at playing a “good guy”, and in ways we battle ourselves as to if we like him or not, but he keeps us watching. Wesley Snipes shows up, and he’s basically playing the guy he always does, and it was a nice reminder, that he still, and probably always will have that charm, that makes him the great actor he is. Let’s just hope he starts to pay his taxes, or this will probably be his last performance we see from him. Richard Gere is not one of my favorite actors, quite frankly, I think he sucks. But here, I don’t know, he does alright to say the least, but his story doesn’t quite jell with the others, and sad to say it, but we’re probably mostly uninterested in his story out of the three.

Consensus: It’s hard-hitting, gritty, and not for every one, but with strong performances, and a tight direction, the cliches that this film obviously shows, are put aside for the time it’s on, and you can enjoy yourself.


Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood (1996)

Not one of the best parodies of all-time, but funny none the less.

Ashtray (Shawn Wayans) moves to South Central Los Angeles to live with his father (who appears to be no older than he) and dope-smoking grandmother. He falls in with his gang-banging cousin Loc Dog (Marlon Wayans), who counts a thermonuclear warhead in his arsenal of weapons. Will Ashtray keep living the straight life, or will he join up with Loc Dog’s gangsta homeboys?

I cannot lie when I say this, but I love almost all parody films. There are certain ones, that just are drop-dead terrible, and don’t look like their even trying, but when they do, I give them credit. This is one that deserves credit.

I liked a lot of the jokes they made in this film, however, some of it did annoy me. The spoofing is very, very obvious, which kind of takes away from the joke, because the idea with spoof films, is to think what movie their from, and basically here, it’s literally right in front of your face, so a lot of the fun is lost. Also, plenty, and I do repeat plenty of gags fell short, or just felt weak, and over-used.

The gags though were funny, when used correctly, and  a lot of the silly willy jokes they used here, were even funnier. They spoof films from Boyz N The Hood, to Menace II Society, and to Do the Right Thing, and each spoof is funny it’s own way, and I’m sure the people involved with those movies, must of had a great laugh watching their films be made fun of.

Some people will feel violated, and down-right disgusted with the jokes, but hey that’s what it’s all about, sometimes the funniest things in films, are the down-right disgusting. Watch this with a bunch of your friends if your bored, and see if you don’t start laughing, or talking like you are from the hood.

Marlon and Shawn Wayans do great jobs at playing these two funny as hell, black ghetto stereotypes, and never stop at once from backing down. There are also other little cameos, and supporting acts you may notice like Vivica A. Fox, Bernie Mac, and Keenan Wayans, and plenty others that are just funny as hell.

Consensus: Though many gags fall short, Don’t Be a Menace is 90 minutes of pure humor, wit, and satirical fun, that will make you want to watch any of the hood movies, this film is parodying.


The Town (2010)

I guess we can’t be making fun of big Ben anymore.

Career bank robber Doug (Ben Affleck) and his volatile partner, Jim (Jeremy Renner), hit a roadblock when Doug falls for bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall), whom he kidnapped during their last heist. Worse, an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) is now trailing the thieves around their Charlestown, Mass., territory.

Ben Affleck has always been a guy in film, that stars in some pretty good movies, and then stars in some completely shit movies. But now that he has started directing, writing, and starring in his own material, it raises a lot of questions as to whether, he can actually do it all, and do it all well.

This is Ben’s second time behind the camera, and he shows that the first time, Gone Baby Gone, was no fluke. He is very good at creating suspense, and directing the hell out of action sequences. The heist scenes are some of the best I have seen in awhile, cause he keeps the camera on all the action that’s going on in this one particular event, and doesn’t go all over the place, like what most action directors in today’s world do.

This film is also a romance story, and it actually works considering it’s stuck with this heavy-action genre. Ben knows how to balance out the film with real emotional, and overall touching scenes, but knows how to put the energy one when it comes to his action scenes, and well, it doesn’t feel forced, and works well with the story at hand. The screenplay works well here too because it brings out a lot strong central themes, in the midst of all the havoc. These people are trapped in their own, little world of crime, violence, and hopelessness.

My one complaint about this film is that it is kind of formulaic, because it’s a lot of a bigger budget, and you can already tell what’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of moments where I was on the edge of my seat, much thanks to Ben, but then there were also other parts, where I knew what was going to happen, mainly because I have seen plenty of heist films, and usually they are always the same thing.

I liked how the characters were all so realistic, and basically three-dimensional, so you actually did care for these people. Ben Affleck comes together as an actor with this film, as he gives off a lot of emotional scenes, because his character is stuck between his friends, and his girlfriend, which creates a lot of stress for his character, and you can tell by his performance. Jeremy Renner is perfectly cast here as the bad-ass, gun-slinging, punk. But he plays it so well here, he doesn’t over-act it, and when he’s on screen, you just feel uneasy, because you never know what he’s going to do next. I hope by awards time, I see him again on that ballot. Rebecca Hall is a very sweet character, that we do like when we first meet here, and through plenty of poignant scenes with her and Affleck, we care for her, and their relationship. Jon Hamm does well here, playing the main cop, that does whatever he can to catch these guys, and I don’t know if Affleck meant for us to dislike him or not, but I sort of did, but that’s not really a bad thing, it made his character more watchable. Blake Lively is also in this playing a trashy, disgusting looking whore, and does a pretty good job at it too, and I actually may start to take her more seriously as an actress now. Chris Cooper is only in one scene, but he does such a good job, and it reminds me as to why he did win that Oscar so long ago. Pete Postlethwaite has good scenes here, showing his character in a lot more menacing way than I was actually expecting. Very good ensemble, that all know how to act out their own respective characters.

Consensus: Directed with plenty of suspense, and thrills, to keep you on the edge of your seat, and excited, as well as provide a great character story, that has even better actors attached.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Judgment Night (1993)

Exactly the reason why yuppies should just stay away from the ghetto, and stop acting like their tough, and can hang.

A seemingly innocent night out turns deadly when four friends (Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jeremy Piven and Stephen Dorff) run over a man with their car while detouring through the neighborhood. They try to do the right thing and find a cop, but a merciless thug named Fallon (Denis Leary) is determined to stop them. Fallon had a beef with the injured man, so he finishes off the job — and promises the guys that they’re next.

Just looking at this plot makes it seem like it’s full of a great deal of suspense, and that your left on the edge of your seat. However, you barely are. I will admit some scenes did have the hair on my neck stick up, and some scenes shocked me, but other than those couple of times, the rest of the film is pretty predictable, which is a shame, cause this could have been really good. You know what’s going to happen in the first 30 minutes with this film, and the thing that was annoying, is that this film acted like it was something different, and tried to give us these really dumb shitty scenes, that they thought were suspenseful, but did nothing for us.

The writing is also bad too. There are one-liners in this film, that I guess the writer’s themselves thought were cool but were just stupid, and corny. The plot also gets really out of hand, where many parts are just so implausible, that you start to think this film has to be placed in the fantasy genre. Almost every little thing that these guys do, the simplest little mistake, can have huge consequences, that leads to them almost every single time, coming closer, and closer to near-death.

For the most part, the acting, is kind of ehh. Emilio Estevez tries with this material to be the big, hero-like leading man, but I just think he was way past his time for that role in this one, it was more time for him to be a coach of The Might Ducks. Cuba Gooding Jr. is alright in this film, but by the end, when he starts to get psycho, it’s kind of laughable in a way. Stephen Dorff pops up, and does whatever it is he does, not a really bad thing, but not a really good thing either. Denis Leary as the evil, sinister, just-got-out-of-jail drug-dealer, was so unintentionally hilarious. He tries so hard to make this guy scary, and menacing, but just pulls off being so stupid, and un-scary, that I just couldn’t take him seriously at all. The only good one here is probably Jeremy Piven, who actually plays his character real well, giving off some good scenes, that you wouldn’t expect to be in a piece of crap like this.

Consensus: Barely at all suspenseful, and written terribly, with actors, that can’t seem to deliver in any good way, just make this film a not very thrilling, thrill ride.


Higher Learning (1995)

If this is what college is like, well I better start taking boxing lessons.

College is a battleground in the hands of writer-director John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood). As several students make their way through school, they find themselves traversing a minefield of race and sexuality. The stellar cast includes Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube, Jennifer Connelly and Michael Rapaport.

Higher Learning is a very underrated film for many reasons. One of the major reasons is the fact that it’s directed by John Singleton, who everybody considers a one-hit wonder, because of Boyz N the Hood. That is all bull-crap, because he does a good job here as well.

One of the best things about this film is that it’s script really is amazing. Singleton does a good job at combining all these little, inter-twining stories, that each show conflict in every way. There are always problems with sex, race, and heritage, everywhere we go, and we are shown that it can always lead onto something more serious than we originally think it will. Racism is never a good thing, and through this we see how both whites, and blacks, criticize one another, and how that leads onto more serious consequences.

The problem with this film is that Singleton’s direction kind of gets distracted by the middle, and you can see that he doesn’t know what to do with all of this story-telling in one movie. He has a strong message, no doubt about that, but he doesn’t know how to deliver it. He steps into way too much melo-drama, that seems misplaced, and handles bigger issues than he should be. I will admit, he keeps the film interesting, but there are parts in this film that just had my head turned sideways, and too cliche.

I did like Singleton’s style however. He’s a very energetic director in this film, and there are some nice shots that show emotion, like how dark this world can be. The campus he filmed this on seems so real, and adds a lot to the realism this film was going for, especially when you got all these young adults running around, drinking, having sex, and causing havoc.

The performances here are actually quite good. Omar Epps never shines away from being stunning at all. Ice Cube is good with what he does, but doesn’t show up enough, and literally is gone for about 30-minutes of this film, which is odd considering he has top-billing. Laurence Fishburne is very good here as Professor Phipps, and the character is very smart, witty, and true to himself, and Fishburne handles that pretty well. Kristy Swanson is good here, as the shy, naive school-girl, that just wants peace, and Jennifer Connelly kind of got annoying after awhile. She would show up at random times, and then we had no idea why her character was there in the first place. My favorite performance of the whole film was Michael Rapaport, who does a great, and strong job at playing this weird, lonely, and out-of-place dude, that soon follows in with the Neo-Nazis, and you see how he transforms into something more. Every time he’s on screen, you can feel the tension, and presence within him, and it sucks that he doesn’t get much of a credit in today’s world, cause he knocks this one out of the park.

Consensus: It has its flaws, and problems, but Higher Learning has a great message, that is shown with its terrific script job, and acted so well, that you almost forget your watching a fictionalized film.


Old School (2003)

College……damn it’s gonna be fun.

Three guys in their early 30s — Mitch (Luke Wilson), Frank (Will Ferrell) and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) — try to relive their glory days by moving into a house near their old college campus. There, they establish a “fraternity” that draws the ire of the dean (Jeremy Piven), who took their abuse as a kid. And while Frank and Beanie just want to party, Mitch concerns himself with impressing single mom Nicole (Ellen Pompeo).

In all honesty, who doesn’t love watching college films? Especially college films with guys that are about 15 years over the age to be hanging around college kids?

The writing for this film is what really gets you laughing. I have seen this about 10 times, and almost every time it gets me laughing. There are constant one-liners all over the place, that will have you and your buddies, repeating for days, trust me, I do it all the time.

The comedy goes right below the belt usually, because it’s an “R” rated comedy for a reason, with lots of swearing, nudity (both genders), and plenty of potty humor, that for some may seem appalling, but if your a dude, or a chick that likes talking about balls, and boobs, your going to laugh no matter how much you try not to.

However, not all the comedy works really. There are jokes that hit, and others, well that don’t, but I mean it is comedy, and it’s not supposed to be laugh-out-loud from beginning to end usually. I also thought that some of the supporting characters, could have been used a lot more just for shits and gigs, but hey that’s just me.

The casting of these three in one movie, is so crazy, but it somehow works perfectly. Luke Wilson is very very good here as Mitch, who firsts starts off, as just your average Joe, who soon starts to become known as “The Godfather”, and thus, the charm that is within Luke, comes out, and it really is a pleasure to watch him on screen. Vince Vaughn is perfect with his fast-talking speech, that always seems to bring out plenty of comedy, no matter what he’s saying. But Will Ferrell steals the show on this one, or should I say, Frank the Tank, steals the show on this one. He’s absouloutly hilarious with everything he does, especially since he has no shame, and will do everything to bring out a laugh, and without this film, I don’t think he would have really gotten his start right away. There’s also nice little side steps from Jeremy Piven (aka Cheese), Andy Dick, Snoop Dogg, Juliette Lewis, and Seann William Scott, among others.

Consensus: Though not consistently funny, Old School still has perfect humor for all the raunch lovers, and also the witty comedy lovers too, that has just enough humor to satisfy all dudes who watch on.


Armored (2009)

A B-grade Reservoir Dogs.

Armored truck guards Mike (Matt Dillon), Baines (Laurence Fishburne) and Quinn (Jean Reno) turn against one another after their plan to steal $10 million from their own company goes seriously haywire. A witness throws a wrench into their seemingly flawless strategy, so each man scrambles to save his own skin — whatever the cost to the other conspirators.

The film starts off very, very slow, and I was just already sick of this movie by the 30 minute mark, cause it was all the same predictable, same crap, I have seen before. But then as we get onto the heist, things really do pick up, which I was surprised by.

Director Nimród Antal (what a silly name), directs this film well, because he actually creates a lot of suspense with this film, even though most of it is, a guy in a huge truck, that is just waiting to be released. He does a lot of cool camera tricks that put more suspense within the film, which I was surprised by, and there is even some cool action sequences, that look pretty cool.

The problem with this film is that the suspense is totally in this film the whole time. By the last 20 to 30 minutes, you could see where this film was going, which was kind of a bummer since I was on the edge of my seat before that. Also, the film is only about 88 minutes long, which kind of blows, considering the ending does feel rushed, and if they wanted to, they could have made more interesting character spots, for these guys, so we could have cared more about them, when something bad happened to them.

Columbus Short does a good job in the lead, providing a lot of emotional depth to his character, considering the film allows him to do this. Matt Dillon is convincing as the evil, and utterly bad-ass deuche bag, that basically puts all this together. Laurence Fishburne does a good job at playing the big, mean guy that we all know and love him for now. Jean Reno is good also to see work in something that makes him menacing again, instead of these clown roles, he’s been doing lately. Milo Ventimiglia has one good scene, where he shows a lot of emotion, and it was good. Skeet Ulrich (aka Billy Loomis all grown up), does a good job here too, surprisingly he has a lot of screen time given to him, and does a good job with it.

Consensus: It may get way too predictable by the end, and lose its story, but compelling performances from a good cast, and some tense filming, makes this old-style film, better than expected.