Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Big Fan (2009)

We don’t have fans like this in Philly…..

Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), a hardcore New York Giants football fan, struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player.

What’s pretty surprising about this film right from the get-go, is that this isn’t your ordinary sports film. You know, the big sports epics that are based on true under-dog stories with inspirational themes pouring out of its screenplay. Nope, this is not one of those movies and that’s what probably works most in its advantage.

This is the directorial debut of writer Robert D. Siegel and proves that he can find a great balance between humor and some very dark drama. The one thing that Siegel does here is act as if this film is going to be one lovable loser pic about how this one dude loves his sports team so much that he just can’t hold his excitement, and that there will be laughs a plenty here. In reality though, this film gets very, very dark at points and you honestly have no idea what Siegel is going to pull out next. You never know what these characters will do next because you never know where their heads are at and it honestly seems like this guy could take these characters anywhere. Some of this stuff is funny because it perfectly captures what it’s like to be a die-hard sports fan but then it is also very depressing for that same fact too because we realize just how lonely some of these people can actually be underneath all of the know-it-all stats from last week’s game.

The problem with a lot of this is that I feel like the film takes a huge nose-dive into some pretty grim material that it’s almost too much of a switcheroo from early before. The film doesn’t have the lightest tone you would expect in the beginning, but by about the last act it gets pretty damn dark to where you think that there is going to be some straight-up murders going on around here. Then again, don’t want to give too much away but I just want to say that it may turn off plenty of viewers where this film does try to go with itself.

Patton Oswalt shocked the hell out of me with his perfect performance in Young Adult and his performance here as Paul is pretty much the same thing around, except a little less of the comedy aspect. This guy is one funny guy, which he gets to show at some parts here, but for the rest of the flick, it’s all up to him to basically show what it’s really like to be a total loner that can’t miss a single game of his favorite team. You feel sorry for this dude Paul because you know he’s a genuinely nice dude, but he just gets stuck up at the wrong place, at the wrong time and Oswalt pulls it off pretty well. Yeah, he sort of reminds you a bit of a Travis Bickle-type by the end of the movie, but that gives you a lot more reason to care for him and root him on as he’s going through this crisis of his.

Even though Siegel really writes Paul as a very three-dimensional character, everybody else just seems like caricatures and this is what also sort of bothered me about the flick. I get that Paul’s family is supposed to be full of asshole and morons just to make him look good, but they really shoot low for these characters as if they were in some really crummy sitcom. A Certain character like Paul’s best friend, played by Kevin Corrigan has a certain dimension to him because we see him hang out with Paul and express how he feels about certain things, where half of these morons just do something completely stupid after another just to show Paul how to live. This came off to me as sloppy writing and I can give credit to Siegel for making an interesting plot go on longer and longer, but I have to say that his way of actually having us care for Paul was rather cheap considering how everyone else is so poorly written.

Consensus: Big Fan isn’t your regular sports flick that many are used to seeing, but it features a very darkly comedic feel with a great performance from Patton Oswalt. It gets a little too dark by the end but it’s also one that works by just being different and at least interesting.



Before Sunset (2004)

What if the one that got away still stayed hot and you looked really creepy?

Nine years after spending a night together in Vienna, Jesse Wallace (Ethan Hawke) is reunited with Celine (Julie Delpy) while on a book signing tour in Paris. There’s an obvious attraction still between the two but Jesse only has a short amount of time until his plane leaves which means that their meeting may be brief.

Before Sunrise was just about a near-perfect film for me. It had all the ingredients you could ever need for a great romance and I honestly do believe it’s one of the greatest romantic films of all-time, and that really is saying something. So for there to be a sequel to see what happened between the couple that graced that flick, made me anticipate just what the hell happened. Thankfully, I was not let down.

The whole film is about 80 minutes of these two people walking around Paris, talking, going into a coffee shop, then going onto a boat, and then talking some more but the film is never boring. Every single word that these characters let out had me on edge the whole time and I never felt bored by these two talking because even though they talk about generally nothing again, they still do talk about something, if that even makes sense.

What really works with this screenplay is that co-writer/director Richard Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy all came together on this script which gives it this realistic and almost heart-breaking truth to it all. In the first flick you see how these two have this sort of fantasy look at love and the world but now that they are older, everything is a lot more sad and angry around them. These two see the world in a different way like when it comes to relationships and they soon realize that the word “love” isn’t exactly what they thought it meant considering you had to worry about all of the non-nonsensical crap that comes along with it. It’s sad but at the same time realistic because you see how two people grow up and realize that the world isn’t what they once thought it was but still keep a grasp onto what made them happy in the first place. This also leads me into another idea that the film brings up: memory.

The conversation these two have constantly bringing up the miraculous one day they had together and most of the memories they have are very clear and feel as if it was just yesterday. These two are always reminded of that one day that they shared together not just through the way they speak to each other but also through their lives as both constantly could not escape or forget that faithful day that made them realize they really have something special together. The film is basically infused with the idea that as long as you and the other person are alive, the memory will never ever go away and no matter how much you try to run away from that fact it will always come right back to you.

Without Linklater behind the director’s chair though, I don’t think that this film would have even felt the same. Linklater is perfect at just letting the story and characters speak for themselves but that still allows him to do some cool tricks such as these long tracking shots that last almost 10 minutes every time. I love tracking shots and it’s just so great how Linklater can use them to create a certain amount of tension of realistic feel even if it’s just by focusing on one shot the entire time. Also, even though our minds are on the two characters the whole film, Linklater still allows for some beautiful imagery of Paris come into play and give us this view of the lovely place we knew in the first flick.

Where the real brilliance of this film lies is within the performances of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, who feel real together. Even though these two never worked again after the first until this flick, their chemistry is still there if not better because as I have said before, they are a lot older now and a lot more sad and angry emotions come out of each other. Right from the get-go, their chemistry feels natural and everything they say all seem improvised even though that is not the case. They are playful with each other and you know that there is just something special between them even if they don’t want to come clear with it themselves and watching them just exchange little glances at one another giving each other little smirks, made me feel like there was more sex in this film than there was in Shame. Both of them start to break-down in front of one another where they both not only show regret but also anger towards the whole situation of how they could have been together, but just missed out somehow. These two are just perfect together and I think the fact that Linklater allowed them to shed some personal issues into their script as well. Delpy was on the rise as an actress, finding roles that she liked and being happy with them, while Hawke was sort of going through a lot of personal problems with his wife at the time, Uma Thurman, and a lot of that shows through by the way his character talks in this flick as well. It’s great to see two stars working together not only on-screen, but on the script as well and shed some real human emotions that come from their own lives as well.

Consensus: Before Sunset is just as great as the first one with a perfect chemistry between Delpy and Hawke, a screenplay that feels natural and realistic, and the real human emotion of watching these two meet up after all of this time. Hopefully, there’s one last one to close out the series but in the mean-time let’s just get ready for Still Dazed and Confused: the 20 year reunion.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

Step Up Revolution (2012)

You know the world’s gone to shit when these movies are having their own Occupy Movement.

In this 4th, and hopefully, final chapter of the Step Up series, childhood friends Sean (Ryan Guzman) and Eddy (Misha Gabriel) work as waiters at Miami Beach’s posh Dimont Hotel, owned by ruthless developer Bill Anderson (Peter Gallagher). But in their off‐duty hours, the duo leads a renegade crew known as “The Mob,” a group of cutting‐edge dancers that somehow find their ways of being tangle with Anderson’s daughter Emily (Kathryn McCormick), a very gifted dancer in her own right.

In all honesty, I don’t know if I was under the influence of some insane-o drugs, just got laid an hour beforehand, or AMC spiked my popcorn with some crazy butter, but I actually enjoyed the last Step Up flick, Step Up 3D. So I think that’s why I went into this flick with the same expectations I had with that one: some cool dancing, great use of 3D, and a terrible story. Problem is, except for the latter, this film didn’t have any of that.

Now, when you go into a film like this you can’t really expect there to be anything new or original that you haven’t seen before when it comes to it’s story, but you have to expect that when it comes to the one element that these movies are mostly known for: it’s dancing. The dancing, at times, can look pretty cool but the 3D is not used very well and even the dances themselves, just come off as totally random and annoying by how tight some of the dance moves these people perform look. Yeah, there’s some cool things to look at here and there, (a dance sequence in a National Arts Museum was a stand-out in my opinion), but nothing that got me going “oh shiiiiiit, look at that right there!!”. I said that plenty of times with the last film and found a lot of the dances to be just straight-up, dance-battles, but everything he was just stupid flash-mobs that I get bored of watching on YouTube after the first minute.

Director Scott Speer is making his feature-film debut after doing a whole bunch of music videos and I’m really starting to wonder what his favorite type of music even is. The reason I ask that is because all of the tracks here are that annoying and loud, dubstep shit that I know is so freakin’ popular amongst the young lings out there, but it just kept bothering me every time these characters dance to it. The music should have just been straight-up, classy hip-hop that would have everybody in the theater dancing but when you depend on tracks from the likes of Skrillex, Ricky Luna, and Nick Thayer to do so, you can’t really expect much of a movement from the crowd. Maybe if they were giving out free Ecstasy at my screening, then it would have been a different story but sadly, that wasn’t the case.

And of course, the real reason why this flick sucks so terribly bad, is mainly because of the shitty script. Yeah, the scripts for these types of movies aren’t really supposed to be any type of Oscar-winning material that has me re-thinking my life, days after I’ve seen it but the lines here are so terribly cheesy, that almost everybody in the theater (including myself) just scoffed at. There was this one line that was probably in the trailer but it went along the lines of “Enough with performance art, it’s time for protest art”. Haha yes, I am dead serious. That is actually one of the lines in this Step Up movie that just goes to show you that even these guys can make their own type of Occupy movement. Even if that Occupy movement is just all about them dancing around in colorful sequences.

The cast, as you would expect, don’t really do much either. Ryan Guzman seems like he has a likable charm to him somewhere underneath all of those sexy-ass dance moves, but we never find them at all here because he’s just a cardboard cut-out of what the director probably thought was the next Channing Tatum. Speaking of Tatum, he probably would have made this movie so much better just by him showing up and doing a little dance, but yes, even he is too good for this kind of material. Kathryn McCormick is very good-looking and also has some sexy dance moves as Emily, but she’s just as bland as her co-star, which makes them a pretty painful pair to watch. Peter Gallagher plays up the role of strangely corrupt daddy here very well, but seriously, why the hell did he ever choose this piece of garbage? Those eye-brows may be menacing, even still to this day, but he’s in the wrong film to utilize them to his advantage.

Consensus: Bland, corny, boring, and painful to watch at times, Step Up Revolution may be the worst of the Step Up series, which in it’s own right, really isn’t saying much but that doesn’t make it any better in it’s own right.

1.5/10=Crapola With A Beat!!

Neil Young Journeys (2012)

Why need a radio, when you can just go to the movies and rock out, up-close and personal with one of the ugliest men in rocker?

In 2011, Neil Young drove from his idyllic hometown of Omemee, Ontario to downtown Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall where he intimately performed the last two nights of his solo world tour. This is the account of the songs he played, and they are all down by himself.

Even though I do not consider him one of my favorites of all-time, Neil Young is still one talented singer-songwriter that I can appreciate and respect for what he’s been able to do and say for the past 40 years. That’s why when I heard about a new concert film from Jonathan Demme with him as the subject, I thought it was a great way to see him up-close-and-personal. Sadly, you just don’t get the full feel in an indie move theater, as you would get with an actual concert.

If there is one thing I can give Demme for doing right with this flick, it’s that the guy knows how to film some awesome music and make it a whole lot more interesting than it has any right to be. A lot of Young’s songs, feature plenty of powerful political messages talking about the government, the environment, and controversial happenings we have had in our life-time. Almost every song Young plays here, touches on those subjects and they’re all pretty interesting to see since it’s just him and Demme never seems to want to leave his subject on-stage. The camera stays on him for every performance he does, we see exactly what cords he plays, and all of the emotion he puts into these songs. It’s a neat thing to see, especially if you have never seen him live, just like me.

But as hard as Demme tries to keep this movie alive and interesting, you just can’t help but think that there’s something holding it all back. Oh wait, I know what it is! It’s the fact that it’s just Neil Young up there, playing all by himself with barely any backing instruments, no drums, no extra-guitars, no nothing. You just get to watch Young up there, play all by himself, growl the songs all by himself, and do everything just all by himself, which makes you think why sometimes there’s a reason for rock songs to be played by a rock band, and not just one dude with an acoustic guitar.

What’s also a shame is that a lot of the other stuff where we see Young drive around Ontario and talk about his life, just isn’t all that interesting. Yeah, Young has some stories of his childhood to tell, like how he lit up a turtle with a fire-cracker (isn’t he an environmentalist?), but nothing that really digs deep-down inside of him and tells us more about him than we already know. The only thing that’s legitimately close to that is a scene where Young plays his classic rock song, “Ohio”, where images of the Kent State Shootings keep on popping-up for no reason really, other than to show you what the song is all about. This seems like another opportunity for Demme to try and get our attentions up on-screen, but that’s only one song where that actually happens. Any other song is just him, up on-stage, strumming his acoustic guitar, and jamming out all by himself. Makes him sound like a sad and lonely man, but maybe he likes it that way.

As for the actual songs themselves, they are all performed very well with great sound and intensity, mainly because Young puts so much heart and feeling into these songs that you can’t see anybody else playing them quite like him. Problem is, that a lot of the songs are mainly from his 2010 album, “Le Noise”, that actually has some pretty good tracks on there, but are little-known and you can’t help but wait in excitement for when you finally get a chance to hear the master play classics like “I Believe In You” and “Down By the River”. But regardless of what he plays, Young is still a man that shows that he can still rock out at age 66 and give the most intense performances he has ever given in his whole life. Even if it is just him.

Consensus: Neil Young Journeys may not feature much about Young’s life and may not do much else to really keep your attention on the screen, but as a concert flick, it’s got some great tracks, some great intensity from Young, and for all of his die-hards out there, this will probably nothing else but heaven, all on one, big screen.


The Watch (2012)

These aliens probably came right down to Earth looking for Judd Apatow, and found these guys. I actually feel bad for the aliens on this situation.

The film revolves around four everyday suburban friends (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade) who team up to form a neighborhood watch group so they can escape their dull family lives one night a week. But when they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood — and the world — from total extermination.

The alien-invasion premise isn’t anything new or original by any means, but when you have a cast like this and a bunch of writers that know they can knock it out of the park when it comes to comedy, you should be expecting something a whole lot better than your ordinary, average fare. Sadly, it’s the exact opposite.

I have no clue who this cat Akiva Schaffer is but what I can tell, just by watching this flick is that it seems like he was really depending on the efforts of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jared Stern’s script to make this flick work more than it should have, which in a way, it kind of does. This is, once again, your piece of R-rated comedy that has a lot of cussing, a lot of dirty stuff being thrown around, and just a whole bunch of moments that can be considered “raunchy”, even though the film never fully explores that territory. For the most part, this film can be pretty funny and you can that there is a lot of Judd Apatow-influences going on here with the whole “conversational humor” aspect of this flick, but the problem is that it doesn’t really work all that well, except with some exceptions.

The one comedy, that is sort of like this one, that I remember seeing was Horrible Bosses, which was a very funny movie but also tried a bit too hard to fall-back on that whole “conversational humor” aspect, that Apatow has pretty much nailed now. It didn’t really work there because it tried too hard to make that there only source of comedy, but here, that seems like that’s all they can do with a couple of extra dick and sex jokes added to the mix as well. The film tries so hard to be funny by having these guys say ridiculous and vulgar things, but the problem is, that they just aren’t as funny as you feel like they could be if they were in a different movie and maybe had different people delivering the lines. A couple of times I did catch myself laughing, and laughing pretty loud I may add, but this material never seemed to go anywhere beyond that. This is also one of those disappointing cases where the funniest lines are in either the trailers or TV spots, that we’ve all seen about 10,000 times.

Another aspect of this film that I noticed was how it seemed like it could have had a lot more fun with its premise than it really had. There were a couple of times where the film seemed like it was going to go down that road of pure insanity, which would have easily bumped this up a hell of a lot more, but instead, it just sort of lulled its way onto the next scene without anything really exciting going on. The one character in this flick, played by Vaughn, just wants to hang out with the guys, shoot the shit, talk about girls, get shit-faced, and have a good time. If the film honestly followed that character’s intentions, it would have been so much more entertaining and funny. However, it just stayed somewhat boring and it only got worse once that lame-o third-act came around.

If there is anything that really saves this film from being total crapola, it’s the impressive cast here that seems to make everything they say funny, except I still feel like they should have been a lot funnier. Ben Stiller is, once again, playing up that nervous, jittery shtick that seems to work in some spots but in others, just seems annoying and unneeded when you have a plot that could just get really freakin’ crazy at any second. Vince Vaughn is around here playing up his fast-talking, crazy shtick that always seems to work but it also feels like it was forced in a way and was used in a lot better in flicks when he was trying to pick up gals or be the coolest mothertrucker at the party. Maybe, dare I say it, he’s getting too old for it now! Nooooo!

Jonah Hill, God bless him, is probably the saving grace to this cast and to the whole movie as he shows that he still has the near-perfect comedic timing that can work with any character he plays, no matter how bizarre or weird they may be. It’s crazy to say this, but I think Hill may be the next best thing when it comes to comedy, because not only can he show how hilarious he can get no matter who he works with, but he also shows a lot of versatility when he has to approach these dramatic, softer roles as well. Guy keeps getting better and better, and it only seems to go up-Hill for him in the future. See what I did there? Seeing Richard Ayoade being on the top-billing for the promotion, I was expecting him to possibly steal the show and give a little taste of his weird, British sense of comedy. It works here, but only when the film allows him to and it’s a real shame because I actually did think that this was going to be the break-through performance this guy needed to fully break into the Hollywood mainstream like he deserves to. Oh well, maybe next year.

Consensus: Even though there are some bright and funny moments here and there in The Watch, they are also very few and far between one another and for some reason, don’t really work because the script feels like they need to be funny with unoriginal dick, sex, and fart jokes that are as old as Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn are getting. Trust me, that’s old, too.


Monster (2003)

Charlize Theron would definitely be the #1 hooker in America, but not #1 serial killer. Then again, she was both and she didn’t look like her normal, sexy, beautiful self.

Charlize Theron stars in true-life story of Aileen Wuaronos, a prostitute executed last year in Florida after being convicted of murdering six men. While Wuaronos confessed to the six murders, including a policeman, she claimed to have killed only in self-defense, resisting violent assaults while working as a prostitute.

So it seems like this Aileeen chick isn’t a real peach in the first place but the hot and sexy South African Charlize Theron is playing her, so it she can’t be that unbearable, right?

Writer/director Patty Jenkins tells this story in a pretty straight-forward way that doesn’t get in the way of anything here and that’s not so bad. Jenkins does do a nice job of showing us the dark and light side of Aileeen, and instead of just focusing on what we think she was like behind all of those murders, we get to understand her for a person that has been so knocked down by men and society, that the only possible solution could be is murder. There isn’t any real terribly graphic stuff to see here in the first place, but the film has this dirty/gritty look that takes you into the world that Aileen herself lived in for so long too. Still a surprise that Jenkins was actually going to direct the sequel to ‘Thor’ because the only action here is basically Theron holding up a pistol to some dudes’ head, and that’s just about it.

Since this is an actual serial killer, it’s somewhat hard to get involved with this story as well as Aileen, considering we know what she did and she had no problem with it either. Serial Killer movies can only do so much because they show you what actually happened with some character development to even out all of the grisly details, but it’s pretty hard to do that when the character isn’t a person that you can totally get behind. I mean yeah, she’s a hooker that has to kill these dudes in order to live for herself and her girly-friend and only does it because she had a messed-up childhood but she could honestly choose something else as a profession. The film shows her trying her hardest to actually do that but I honestly couldn’t have any sympathy for this girl either because even when she did get the moolah, she spent it all on cigs, beer, and occasionally a new place to stay.

I also found it a little strange that there is barely any light moments that occur during the last two acts of this flick. There is a pleasant love story that takes over the first two acts and it has it’s fair share of joyful and amusing moments to cheer us up, but it almost feel like it was just in order to get us ready for the dramatic and dark territory we were about to venture into. I don’t think all films about serial killers and murderers need to bring some light to the topic just in order to keep my attention, but the film just started to lose my interest a bit more and more as it went on.

Charlize Theron definitely deserved the Oscar back in ’04 for her role here as Aileen Wuaronos, because she totally gets lost in this insane and crazed, real-life figure. Her performance aside, the physical transformation she goes through is absoloutely stunning because this is what Charlize Theron looks in real-life, and this is what she looks like as Aileen. See the difference? It’s crazy how they got Theron to look so damn disgusting and gritty, but it’s also even crazier how amazing Theron is here as well. Theron jumps into this role at a 100 mph and never lets loose. She’s a very freaky gal that will definitely give you this tense feeling whenever she’s picked up on the side of the road and Theron is great at showing us just how intimidating a one-lady killer can be. Theron also has some real emotional scenes that may not have you win over any sympathy for her character, but they are still great scenes none the less and you start to realize that this Aileen chick, is a lot more human than the media may have you think so. Don’t really think I would pick up a chick that looked like Aileen and do a little something something, but then again, many other people would.

Christina Ricci is also very good as Aileen’s young and spoiled lesbian lover, Selby. Ricci looks nothing like the real chick, but she still has the emotional chops to carry her performance throughout the whole movie. Their love also works because you can feel that these two actually have something going on between them, even though one of them is serial killer. Good chemistry between two chicks that are usually hot in everything they do, but here, I didn’t think of them like that once.

Consensus: Monster features an amazing performance from Charlize Theron, that commands the screen the whole time she’s on-screen, but the rest of the flick is sort of lackluster and definitely isn’t as interesting when it comes to plot development since we all know how it ends, and also that everything is pretty damn grim.


The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Never leave a spy alive, especially if that spy happens to be Will Hunting.

This sequel re-enters the shadowy world of expert assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who continues to find himself plagued by splintered nightmares from his former life. Except this time, he has a bigger threat in CIA agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen).

I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you liked The Bourne Identity, you’re liking this one. As simple as that.

Director Paul Greengrass does a great job here with this material because instead of doing exactly what Doug Liman did with the first flick, he molds it himself. The first one without a houbt had action but focused way too much on its plot, which in turn took away from the little action there was. So what Greengrass does is just match the plot development it but tops it off with more action. And when I mean action, I mean action, baby! Yeah!

Greengrass films more than a few of the action scenes with his infamous “shaky cam” method, but it didn’t bother me as much here as I thought it would have; actually, it tweaked the film in just the right way. All of the fights that go down here feel like they were filmed by a drunken sports fan who just wanted to see some mono-e-mono brawls and happened to fumble in the right places for his camera. Maybe that doesn’t sound (look) so awesome right now but it really makes you feel like you’re there watching Bourne layeth the Smackedowneth on all of these CIA agents’ candy-asses. You can feel the action no matter how far away from the screen you are. The frenetic editing Greengrass did here may not be for everybody, especially the ones that were huge fans of the original, but most will appreciate the gritty vibe he brings to the film and if nothing else how good he is at filming a car chase.

This film isn’t all about its action though, because a lot of it actually is dedicated to its plot which keeps on moving and moving the plot along. If you saw the original, you will probably know everything that’s going on here in the first place, so therefore when all of these mysteries start to be brought up, solved, and twisted around like a curly fry, you can’t help but feel like you don’t know what’s going to go down next. So many things are being brought up here but somehow, it all works itself out and doesn’t become over-bearing.

However, as interesting as the story may have gotten to become, it was still pretty predictable in the end which bothered me. Yes, I know that this is all used for entertainment values and anybody going into these types of films expecting anything else but just pure, adrenaline-junkie action is a total dumb-ass, but I couldn’t get past the fact that almost every action sequence would pretty much end in Jason Bourne coming out on top no matter what the odds stacked against him were. Maybe the fact that I also know that there’s another sequel to this one is what had me thinking this too. Actually, that’s exactly what it is. Damn, I just wish I saw this when it first came out!

Other parts of this film I didn’t like was when the film tried to  get a little sentimental with some subplot about Boune’s first “job”. I don’t mind an action/thriller flick trying to be more than just that but the film tries to edge Bourne out more by giving him this plot to show that he really is a human and humans make mistakes. It comes up just about every 30 minutes when something strange goes down and when it’s all over, you feel like they totally dropped the ball on it. I don’t want to say how this whole subplot eventually plays out, bu the scene it ended with seemed to have left me a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Don’t know what it was but definitely didn’t feel too right.

Matt Damon once again proves himself to be a good action star, and an even better action star as Jason Bourne. He is able to handle this “plain-looking” guy style but also be able to come off as a ruthless bad-ass whenever it comes down to him taking on other spies and the CIA. Bourne is also a bit more interesting this time around because we see him go from a defensive position to an offensive one, which allows us to root him on some more as he battles these CIA punks. Go get ’em Bourne!

Damon is also backed up by a pretty solid cast. Joan Allen is pretty awesome as Pamela Landy because she’s a strong character that doesn’t have to use her muscles to prove her ruthlessness, instead, she uses her brain and that’s a real tough brain to go against. Let’s also not forget to mention that she’s very sexy and a chick I wouldn’t mind going up against myself, if you know what I mean..? Rawr! If you have ever seen Brian Cox play a bad guy before, (which is almost every flick with the exception of Super Troopers) then his performance here as Ward Abbott will just be another example as to know what this dude is capable of and Karl Ubran gets some pretty bad-ass scenes where it’s just him looking all tough and ready to fight Bourne. Yet, none of them ever really stand a chance.

Consensus: Though it misses a couple of beats here and there, The Bourne Supremacy is still a solid action flick because it keeps the adrenaline moving at such a solid pace, that you rarely ever forget what you’re watching and you get more and more involved with the story as it goes along.


Snow Angels (2007)

Why is it that the little towns always got to have the problems?

The film is about three relationships taking place in a small-town: teenage Arthur (Michael Angarano) and his quirky young love, Lila (Olivia Thirlby); his separating parents, Louise and Don (Griffin Dunne and Jeanetta Arnette); and his former babysitter, Annie (Kate Beckinsale), and her estranged, unstable ex-husband Glenn (Sam Rockwell).

Writer/director David Gordon Green is a dude that has really been scratching people’s heads as of late. First, he does little small-town, indies like this and All the Real Girls, but then he goes onto stoner comedies such as Pineapple Express and Your Highness. Oh, and as of late there was a semi-remake of Adventures in Babysitting called The Sitter’but I didn’t bother with that shit so neither should you. However, those strange choices wouldn’t be so bad in the first place if they were all consistent.

What I can say about Green and his direction here is that the first hour does a pretty good job of creating a mood and atmosphere that sets in pretty quick. We get this slight foreshadowing scene in the beginning that tells us something dark is beneath the surface of this town, and then from there on it stays in pretty long. Also, s a film-maker, Green really does know how to capture some purty images like he did in All the Real Girls. However, instead of having the long shots of the fields in the South, we get a lot of long shots of these people hangin’ around in the snow and he films it all very well and brings a certain type of artistry to this flick. I just wish that was enough to keep my mind off of what was really going on here.

The real problem with this film is that Green has practically stacked about two or three different films here and even though this kind of structure has been used and done very well before, not all of the stories here jell quite as well. The love story between the two teens is pretty annoying since all they do is constantly babble about random things like fellatio and pictures, which is kind of how teenage relationships can be, but isn’t very cute and realistic here. The other relationship they focus on between Arthur’s parents is barely touched on here, but even when it is, it’s totally dumb and adds nothing to the film at all. Hell, they could have even left this whole sub-plot out but since Green obviously had to stay in touch with the source material, he couldn’t get rid of everything.

Neither of those stories are as interesting as the relationship between the estranged husband and wife, played by Beckinsale and Rockwell. Every time this story pops up on-screen, the film gets better and better not because of their performances but because it’s a story that feels real and touches on a very big truth of human relationships: changing. People change as they get older and they soon start to grow apart. These two have been together for almost their whole lives and it’s obvious that one can’t seem to want to have it anymore, while the other is practically heart-broken over it all. It’s a very true and realistic story that shows just how two people change and grow apart from one another, but Green never allows there to be anymore to it than just that and constantly takes the focus off of it and give it to these two other lame-o stories. Sorry for that little rant there but as usual, it was necessary.

I should also choose to mention that at about the one hour period of this flick, the film changes in its tone. Instead of being a dark drama, it becomes an even darker drama that has some suspense to it and even though it was sort of a bold step for Green to go in that direction, it didn’t work for the story. I don’t want to give too much away but the film loses control of itself by this point and the rest of the 47 minutes we have left with this flick just seem to go on and meander. Shame too, because I was actually getting into this film.

What really sold this film for me and got me closer and closer to recommending it was the two performances from Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell, who are amazing here. I have never really liked Beckinsale in roles that she’s done because I’m not a big fan of the Underworld movies and whenever she does do character-driven roles like this, her performances come off more as wooden than emotional. Good thing for me was that her performance here as Annie isn’t like that one bit and shows me that she has a lot of talent when it comes to drama. She’s a very sad character that feels like she is a good woman, but is just stuck in a rut because of how she got stuck in life and is trying to find her way out of it. This character goes through a lot of changes throughout the flick and they all rang true thanks to Beckinsale’s surprisingly good performance.

How I initially felt for Beckinsale was not the same way I felt for Rockwell though because I’ve always thought that this guy is a no-joke actor and deserves at least one Oscar before his career is over. His performance here as Glenn is very good because even though he’s a dude that seems like you could never trust in your life, Rockwell brings out this sincerity and humanity to him that makes you believe that he is a good, if troubled guy. Glenn may get a little too crazy by the end of the flick, but Rockwell makes it all seem believable enough with just the right amount of good and evil in him. Somebody get this guy his damn Oscar already!

Consensus: Snow Angels features very good performances from the cast, but has about three or four different stories packed into here that may further talk about the issue of human relationships this film brings up plenty of times, but takes down the one story that kept my interest in the first place.


Terri (2011)

If only more schools had assistant principals like John C. Reilly working there, then school wouldn’t be such hell.

Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is a mountain of a young man. He’s about 15 and he wears his pajamas everywhere, including to school. When the school’s assistant principal (John C. Reilly) takes an interest in Terri’s life, he finally discovers that he has someone to talk to.

This premise sounds like one of those “adult and weird, outsider teen connect” movies that always end up saying the same thing while showing nothing different or new. However, director Azazel Jacobs seems like he’s above that formula and gave me one of the bigger surprises that I’ve seen recently.

Where this film works in, is it’s script that isn’t anything ground-breaking, but it still hits moments that are very true. The film shows that teens are awkward as hell when it comes to anything: sex, beer, talking to adults, doing chores, etc. This is the truth and being a teenager myself (young adult I prefer), I know that life can sometimes be a bit painful to sit with sometimes depending on the type of situation I get myself caught into. Life is pretty much this way for all teenagers and I think that this flick did a great job of showing that in ways that I haven’t really ever seen done in a high-school movie, let alone, a piece of indie work.

The film puts Terri in many awkward places and that’s where plenty of the comedy comes from, but it’s not all about giving that uncomfortable vibe of humor that people like Sacha Baron Cohen partake in so much, it actually has plenty of genuinely funny moments that may take you back to some of your own high-school experiences no matter how bad or good they may be. There are also other moments though, where this flick starts to show its heart, as weird as it may be, and that’s where the film started to win me over. All of these characters are likable and Jacobs spends enough time with them to give us a feel like we know them well enough and care about them as well. It’s also great that he doesn’t go down the same road of giving Terri some dramatic and emotional break-through to all of his classmates, the kid is still a bit of a weirdo but he is also a very sweet character deep down inside and that’s all that matter. Actually, that’s what this whole film is: sweet. And even though at first it may seem like just another weird and quirky indie movie, it will actually surprise you by how much it may or may not get to you. Give it a chance people! You won’t be disappointed!

As a whole though, some moments of this flick can get a little too weird for me and took me out of it as well. There’s a couple of the scenes in the beginning that seemed like it was just trying to be weird and quirky, just for the sake of being so which is never really a good sign for any indie flick. Also, by the end of the flick, we get this very long scene where Terri has two people over and even though it may be a bit a bizarre and humorous, it doesn’t seem very realistic. I don’t want to give anything away by saying what happens in this scene but some people get drunk a little too fast, and start acting like assholes, a little too fast as well. I mean I’m no expert on drinking, or even getting drunk, but I know that a couple of sips doesn’t get you completely zonked and doing idiotic stuff. Then again, I ain’t no light-weight!

I don’t know where they found this kid, but Jacob Wysocki is pretty damn good here as Terri. This is his first role and it’s a great role because the film basically is resting on his shoulders the whole time, but not once does Wysocki show signs of being a ill-prepared rookie. Instead, he struts his stuff like a professional and adds so much more dimension to this character than I could have ever imagined. Terri is a weird kid but he’s not terribly strange to the point of where we can’t bear to watch this sad sap anymore, instead he seems to be one of those pretty sullen kids that still knows enough about the world to make you realize that he is a good kid deep down inside. Terri may have problems, both at home and in school, but he also has a great big heart to him that Wysocki wears on his sleeve the whole during his performance here. Due to his physical nature (and I’m not even being a dick either), I don’t know how many more roles Wysocki will be offered in the future but I hope whatever it may be, that he chooses them right and gets to show us more of his acting skills.

However, as good as this kid may be, he’s definitely not the best performance from this whole flick. John C. Reilly is amazing here as Mr. Fitzgerald and probably gives a performance that should have at least been nominated for an Oscar. Just about every scene this guy has is perfect because he has a great blend of humor, drama, and insight with just about every scene that gives you this great warmth to his character every time he’s on screen. He’s a total goof ball because he tries his hardest to discipline these kids, but just can’t because he’s too much of a nice guy so instead, tries to help them all. The film also doesn’t try to show him off as this all-around perfect dude who’s right about everything, instead we see him as an actual human-being filled with more flaws and problems than any other regular teenager. He’s an understanding dude and all of the scenes between him and Terri don’t feel like the usual “parent vs. student” talk these movies usually go down, but instead come off as two friends who are just simply having chats about life and all of the issues they seem to both be having with it. They are both great together in every scene they have, but it’s mainly Reilly who owns these scenes by making me laugh but also realize that maybe not all of the staff at my school are as big of dicks as I may think they be.

Consensus: Terri may not be throughly consistent, but it’s a very sweet, kind-hearted, and believable little piece of indie work that shows what it’s like to be an awkward teen and also have to put up with the other problems that usually come from just being yourself. It may not start off so great at first, but it soon starts to grow on you much ado to John C. Reilly and Jacob Wysocki.


The Station Agent (2003)

Poor Miles Finch. He’s so sad.

Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) wants to be left alone. But at 1.3 metres, fading into the crowd is an almost impossible task. Born with dwarfism, Fin has responded to the unsolicited attention that his condition attracts by choosing a life of separation. Solitude, however, is fleeting and when Fin finds his isolation threatened he retreats deeper into his self-contained world by taking up residence in an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey, USA with two people he meets: Joe (Bobby Cannavale) and Olivia (Patricia Clarkson)

Writer/director Tom McCarthy seems like a dude that doesn’t have any problems going on in his life if I had to judge him by the movies he has made. They are all easy-going, and straight-forward with a very pleasant feel to just about all of them. This was his first and shows everything that I just talked about.

McCarthy’s script has a great sense of humor that isn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious but is still able to get a few chuckles here and there. Everything just seems so pleasant that when he starts throwing jokes at you, they catch you off guard and you realize that this flick is a little funnier than you imagined it being in the first place. It finds a way to put a smile on your face in any way whether it’s focusing on Fin checking out trains, or focusing on the friendship that forms between these three, very random bunch of people. It does start to get a little darker when it shows how Fin gets fed up with all of the bull-spit about how everybody is making fun of his size and I think it works for this story since one of the main themes behind it is all about overcoming the worst that life has to throw at you by getting up and doing whatever makes you happy, with whoever you want it with too. Nice little life lesson courtesy of Mr. McCarthy.

The problems I had with this film that the script also features plenty of moments where we just see characters doing nothing but sitting there. We get these long, quiet scenes of watching these characters either just stare off into space, smoke a couple of ciggies, drink a little bit of coffee, watch Fin go on long walks on the train-tracks, or just sitting down and reading a book. I get that not every film has to have non-stop talking and never let go of it’s dialogue but there were definitely plenty of scenes here that could have been put to good use rather than just clogging them up with random scenes of silence.

There was also a bit of a problem in the script when McCarthy starts to use some manipulation by the end in order to have us care more for these characters. The film deliberately throws in the whole angle about how Olivia’s youngest son died just so we can gain some more sympathy for her than we already did. Besides there’s so many scenes that are just dedicated to her and her sadness, that it was kind of a bummer that we didn’t see or even have any sympathy scenes for Joe considering he was the character that I liked the most. I don’t think it was wrong to include the whole story about her deceased son, I just think it was sort of lame to throw it in there and try their hardest to gain our sympathy, that’s all.

It’s such a shame that Peter Dinklage doesn’t get more roles because this guy is one hell of an actor. The character he plays, Fin, could have been played by any other actor, but the fact that Dinklage is a dwarf playing a dwarf, adds a whole other dimension and allows us to see the world through his eyes. It sucks what this guy has to go through everyday because of his height. The guy gives a great performance here, as he does with every film, and makes this transition from total loner who just wants to be left alone to a caring friend with problems, seem believable. If I saw him on the streets, I wouldn’t be staring at him because he’s a dwarf, I’d be staring at him because he’s a totally underrated actor that doesn’t really get all of the love he deserves.

However, he’s not the best performance here. That honor actually has to go to Bobby Cannavale‘s performance here as the talkative and friendly Cuban named Joe. Cannavale is so likable here because he’s a guy that just wants to have a nice talk with a person, get to know them, and by the end of it, get to call them his friend. He has a whole bunch of enthusiasm and energy that he brings to the screen every time as he constantly makes sex jokes towards Fin and also takes him out of his shell a bit too. It’s a shame that they make this guy seem like an annoying piece of shit by the end of the movie because if there was anything wrong with him here, it was that he wasn’t around as much as I would have honestly liked. Patricia Clarkson also has another great role here as Olivia, a woman who is battling with depression but still finds ways to be charming and nice. Clarkson is always good in everything she does, and her performance here is no different.

Consensus: The Station Agent may try too hard to gain our sympathy but it makes up for that with a heart-warming and likable piece of work, that is funny, and well-acted by everybody involved, especially Cannavale and Dinklage who should be in a lot more roles than they are usually given.


The Bourne Identity (2002)

All he had to do was call up Ben Affleck and everything would have been A-OK. See what I did there?

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a guy who has no past, may have no future, and who’s memory is blank. But now he is marked for death, caught in a maddening puzzle, racing for survival through the deep layers of his buried past into a bizarre world of murderous conspirators, aka, the CIA!

Believe it or not, but I have never seen any of the Bourne films before and trust me, I do feel ashamed about that. However, I’m not a huge spy guy either so that may have something to do with it as well.

What I liked most about this film and what I thought was very intriguing about it was how the spy dude that the story is centered around, is an amnesiac. This means that this guy has no idea what’s going to happen next, what he’s going to do next, or just whatever the hell is going on in general. Sucks, right? It’s particularly cool to see when he kicks the arse out of these two police officers kung-fu style and not only are we realizing that he’s one mofo to not mess with, but he’s also realizing it as well. I know it’s a little detail in the story but it makes it all the more interesting as we see all of the crazy twists and turns that this film makes without us ever really knowing what may pop-up or come to Bourne’s mind next. Definitely a lot of suspense to be had here and I have to give a lot of that to director Doug Liman, who obviously knows how keep a good amount of tension going on throughout the whole film even when it started to slow down a bit.

However, that’s also my problem with the film because I expected there to be so much more action and ass-kicking, that I was sort of let-down by it all. Don’t get me wrong, there is action to be had here and whenever it does happen, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome but when it’s spread apart very far in this movie. It does give the plot more development, as well as the characters and such but too much of it actually takes away from the film and comes off as a bit, well, should I say, boring. I know the word “boring” definitely isn’t what some of you were probably thinking while watching this flick but there was just something about it here that made me feel like I wanted to see some more ass-kicking, because when it does go down, the film gets a hell of a lot more intense.

What I do think is very notable about this film was the casting of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Even though I’m not in love with him, I still do think that Damon is great at playing “the everyday man” and can definitely bring a lot more to his character no matter what the film may be, especially here considering this character is trying to find himself in this big world of intrigue and CIA agents roaming all about. Also helps that the guy did all of his own action stunts and is pretty damn good at it too. The casting of Franka Potente was also pretty neat-o to see too because she gives this film a very European feel and her scenes with Damon actually work with the chemistry they have. I couldn’t help to think that their whole love angle was a little forced though, but I guess when you have a male and a female who are just traveling together for reasons unknown, eventually some hormones are going to start flying all over the place.

I also have to give some love to two vets who are very good at playing villains in almost every film that they do but do exceptional jobs here: Brian Cox and Chris Cooper. Nothing else really needs to be said about them other than they do great jobs as bad guys. Case closed.

The two characters in this film that I didn’t think needed to be here at all were Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Wombosi and Julia Stiles as Nicolette. The reason Adewale’s character doesn’t matter to the story and basically served this plot for one purpose and one purpose only. It seemed strange that they even had him in here considering it didn’t do anything for the flick other than add another character to the equation, which didn’t even need to happen. Also didn’t help that the dude was over-acting out of his ass and I probably would have liked it just for him to go away in the first place.

The same thing can be said for Stiles in here as well because if you t0ok her part out of the film, it wouldn’t make a single difference to their plot or anything else here. And even when she does talk in this film, she sounds like a little whiny brat that seemed to get this job because of her daddy and it probably was also a little strange how the chick was 18 and looked it when she was playing the role of a CIA underground operation. Just how many other people my age are doing shit like that? If they actually are in the real world, then I need to quit doing this and start applying. See ya!

Consensus: The Bourne Identity does slow down at points, which can take away from the fun of the action that happens here, but is still none the less very entertaining, suspenseful, well-acted, and intriguing with the ending they leave you with which definitely gets me excited to see what happens in the next installments that I still have yet to see. I know, I’m a schmuck.


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

OK Batty, you had your fun, you had your box-office records, and you had your hype. Now, it’s time to get the hell out of here!

It’s been 8 years since Harvey Dent was killed by Batman and Gotham City is pretty much going to hell. It’s turning for the worse, there’s no central peace or order to be found, and Bane (Tom Hardy), has a huge gang of thugs basically taking over the city. However, little does he know that there’s a certain someone who’s always there to stop evil at once: Batman (Christian Bale).

Honestly, who the hell has not been waiting for this freakin’ movie!?! Ever since The Dark Knight came, stayed for a long-ass time, and went back in 2008, people have been waiting day-after-day just to see what Nolan was going to pull off for his last hurrah. Thankfully, this is his last hurrah, and what a perfect hurrah it is.

Director Christopher Nolan proves, once again, why he is in-fact one of the greatest story-tellers working in film today. I know the same exact thing in The Dark Knight review, but this guy really proves that he has some insane skill with this flick because from start-to-finish, I was basically on-the-edge of my seat, wondering what the hell he was going to do with this story, these characters, and everything else in between. I’ve never been a huge comic-book fan and to be honest I’ve never really read much of Batman comics, but from what I see here, this guy takes the story of Batman that we all know and love, gives it a dark edge, and makes you feel like it can and will go anywhere he wants it to. There were certain parts of this flick where I really felt like some major characters were in danger of being killed off right away and even though that danger comes and goes, much like normal superhero movies, you still feel like the danger is not over. Just when you think that things are going to get better for these characters and Gotham City itself, it doesn’t and throughout the whole film, I was constantly thinking who will I be seeing for the last time and who will I be seeing again to fight the baddies. Sounds lame, I know, but this story really feels like it will go somewhere where no other superhero film has ever dared to do so far before, and sometimes it does, but it’s all I could ask for in an entertaining, superhero movie. A lot of this story harks back to Batman Begins, so be ready for that, but this is it’s own story, through and through.

Nolan is a daring film-maker, well all know and love that, but it’s not just because of how epic and twisty the story can be, it’s all because of what that guy brings to the table that makes this film all of the more enjoyable. There’s a certain type of suspense in this film the whole time that not only made me feel the energy going throughout my veins, but kept my eyes locked on the screen at all times. Every single action scene feels like it’s going to be even better than the last one, which they usually are, but there’s just something so much more epic about the action scenes here that made me want to get up and join in the action, whatever that may have been at the time. You can just feel the energy of this movie escalating into something bigger and bigger as the run-time goes on, and once it gets to that breaking-point, all hell breaks loose and there’s just so much action and excitement going on that you cannot help but feel it come off the screen as well. But, however, as good as a lot of this action may be, it’s still feels very epic and I think a lot of that has to do with Mr. Nolan and what he does behind-the-camera.

This is definitely one of those films to see in IMAX, even though it’s not always shot in that format the whole way through. The shots Nolan grabs here are great, whether it’s these sweeping action set-pieces or just beautiful over-head shots of Gotham City, either way, the IMAX looks great and if you do pay extra for that ticket, you will not be disappointed with what you see, or hear. The sound is just so loud and clear, that whenever an action scene happens, you can almost hear and feel the hits with the loud-ass booms of the speakers, and it gets even better with the score that Hans Zimmer has made up here. As soon as you hear it come up, it hits you and you can just feel like shit is about to go down, one way or another, and sometimes it does, and sometimes it definitely freakin’ does! Didn’t make much sense, but I don’t care! I know I don’t mention scores a lot, but with a film like this, you need an epic score just to give you the feeling of how epic this film truly is. Yeah, I know I said the word “epic” again, but it’s the truth, everything from the score, to the cinematography, to the story, to the action, makes it that from beginning to end. Yeah, there may have been a couple of problems with it’s story here and there, but I was able to let that all go by me and realize that this story just totally grabbed me and never let go. And thank the lord for that.

For every single person who has ever talked ish on Christian Bale and what he does with Batman and that “growl” of his (trust me I’m one of them), be ready to feel ultra sad knowing that this will probably be the last time you ever see this guy do that ever again and what a way to go out with it. This is probably the best performance Bale has given as Wayne out of the whole trilogy because he brings out that warrior-like darkness that arose in him from the second flick, but also goes back to when he was just learning the ways of his anger from the first one, as well. It’s a pretty cool mish-mash of character ideas going on with him in this flick and Bale handles it perfectly, just like I expected him to.

After having such an iconic villain like The Joker, played by the late, great Heath Ledger, it feels very obvious that Nolan would try his hardest to make Bane out, almost the same exact way, if not more, but he doesn’t go down that route which I liked. Bane seems like a strange choice of a villain to be in this dark trilogy, but he’s given a lot more development here that gives him a pretty bad-ass origin story to start off with, a bunch of intellectual skills that match his fighting skills, and a pretty intimidating physique, courtesy of rising-star Tom Hardy. Hardy is great with this role and proves to be more intimidating and dangerous than The Joker in more ways than I expected because whenever he’s on-screen, you can just feel that tension whenever he is, but when he isn’t, you can still feel it as if he’s just planning what he’s going to do next in the background somewhere. There’s this great use of his eyes that Hardy uses to convey all of these evil and mean thoughts that are going through his head, and you almost feel happy that you don’t see what else is going with his face. Definitely a great threat for Batty, and another reason why Nolan should have been trusted with this character from the first place. Oh yeah, and that “voice” of his? Easy to understand most of the times, other times, you can’t really hear it fully, but you pretty much get the gist of what he’s talking about. Evil shit, and that’s all you need to know.

Another big worry that people had with this film’s cast of characters was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. It’s not that people didn’t trust Hathaway and her skills as an actress, it’s more or less that fans didn’t know what to expect from this character that seemed so weak whenever she was adapted onto film the other times, but somehow, they pull it off perfectly here, mostly Hathaway. Right from the get-go when you see this girl, she is just bad-ass, smart, witty, sly, evil, and sexy, but you never know what’s on her mind, what she’s going to do next, or who’s side she was going to end up being on in the end of it all. That mystery about her, made her character so much more awesome and bad-ass than anybody ever expected and she totally seems like the type of chick-character that could hold her own with the best of them. Don’t hold me to this, but I sort of do see an Oscar nomination for Hathaway here, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t surprised, either. Just one of those things I could see happening in the future, and with good reason, too.

As for everybody else in this flick, they’re all pretty good, too. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, aka the effin’ man, does a great job with a character that comes out of nowhere, we know nothing about, and just seems like one of those cookie-cutting good guys that every superhero story needs. However, JGL makes this character so much more bad-ass than anybody, even myself, first thought and he makes a great supporting character that you know you can trust every time he shows up on-screen. JGL is getting bigger and bigger with each and every role he takes, and it’s not for long until this guy finally nabs an Oscar. Maybe even two, hell, maybe even three! I don’t know! The sky is the freakin’ limit with this dude! Marion Cotillard is also new to this story as Miranda Tate, and does a splendid job, as usual, even if her character does seem a little bit forced with the hum-hum romance between her and Bruce Wayne, but it’s easily forgivable since she’s so good in everything she does. As with out returning veterans of the series, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine, they all do their parts and show why exactly their characters have stayed so strong throughout the whole time of these movies.

I know that throughout this whole review, I kept mentioning and bringing up the word “epic”, but if I had to sum this flick up in one word, it would be exactly just that: epic. You can just feel like this film is going to culminate into something big, something extravagant, and overall, something that will stay in your mind forever because of what Nolan has done with this series, and does with this goodbye to the series and stories that he has made so damn popular once again. Now that he’s done with these flicks, Nolan will go off and do the film he’s always been wanting to do and probably kick as much ass with them as he has with these three, but I will never forget this amazing trilogy and as sad as it may be to see the last time for all of these characters happen right in front of our eyes, I know that I had a great time with all three flicks and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’m getting a little teary-eyed here right now just writing this and when you see this flick, trust me, you won’t be able to blame me. Thank you Christopher Nolan. You truly can do no wrong.

Consensus: Though it may be very long, The Dark Knight Rises delivers on every spectrum: acting, writing, directing, cinematography, score, etc. It’s exactly what you could want in a summer blockbuster, and superhero movie, but it’s also exactly what you could want in a film that’s saying “adios” to all of its characters that it’s introduced to us for the past 7 years and it’s a legacy that I won’t forget. That’s for damn sure.

9.5/10=Full Effin’ Price!!

Bullitt (1968)

Mustangs are hawt.

Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen, who serves as the prototype for every movie cop who refuses to play by the book) must babysit a gangster for 48 hours. But when hit men snuff the witness, Bullitt won’t be stopped in his quest for vengeance.

All I have been hearing about this movie for the past year is that the car chase is awesome. Hell, anytime you mention the flick itself, the car chase is always brought up. It is brought up with good reason but maybe that’s just to escape the rest of the flick.

Director Peter Yates does gain some points by making this a very simple but fun thriller. There isn’t really anything new to be seen here other than two or three murders, a car chase, and a whole bunch of other crazy and mysterious ish going on but Yates isn’t trying to blow our minds. Yates has a very cold tone to this film that makes a whole lot more tension then there really is beneath the surface.

Where this film sort of lost me was that it’s a crime thriller where there is barely any thrilling aspects at all. Yes of course we get a couple of shootings and that car chase scene, but other than that we get a bunch of scenes dedicated to dudes waiting around for something to happen like another piece of evidence to pop up or for the main politician dude to show up so he can bother the hell more out of Bullitt. It’s a simple story, which I liked, but Yates doesn’t really find anything fun or exciting to do with it other than just meander along at a very snailish-like pace. I know I’m going to piss off a lot of peeps out there when I say this but this film actually had me a bit bored at times and even though I really tried my hardest to stop my mind from wandering off, it kept on going back to the thoughts in my head of ‘Drive’ and Ryan Gosling, and just how cool he was in that movie.

What also was a bit annoying was how the film tried to dive a bit deeper into this main character by showing plenty of scenes with his lady friend that nobody, not even him, really cared about in the first place. It’s always good to have a little bit of development to your character so that they can actually feel more human than anybody else in the film, but here, they keep on showing his squeeze trying to bring his thoughts out of him and hear what he’s thinking. It was annoying every time she was on-screen, which is why I didn’t even understand why she was around in the first place, but it was also lame considering that Bullitt was obviously a character that didn’t have any time for that play-time shit. Bullitt. He’s a man amongst men.

Instead of avoiding it this whole review, I think it’s pretty safe to come clear and say that the car chase is pretty damn awesome. This is definitely one of the most iconic car chases of all-time and with good reason because it’s so simple and realistic, but yet so damn cool at the same time. The cool thing about this scene is that it’s filmed in only the sounds the car makes whether it’s accelerating, stopping, or hitting the edge of something it’s not supposed to in the first place. That means there’s no slow-mo affect, no bass-bumping soundtrack that makes it seem like your speakers are about to blow out, and no lame-o side talk from characters just in order to sound witty and hip with it. It’s a pretty straight-forward car chase that relies on cool camera placement and realistic fun, which worked for me and it’s a real surprise that the death rate in car races didn’t increase back in 1968 when the flick first came out. Definitely one of the biggest high-lights of this whole film and worth the wait if you ask me.

The reason why this car chase is as good as it is, is also because of the man who was doing all of the stunts himself, none other than Mr. Steve McQueen himself as Bullitt. McQueen is a cool as hell actor that makes it seem like he could be one of those dudes you can share a nice couple of brewskies with, but then also seems like the kind of dude that would also kick your ass in a second if you said anything weird to him. The whole film he carries this cool, calm, and very cold expression to his face and commands just about every scene with his presence, which makes this very shrill and mysterious character even cooler. Gotta check out more Steve McQueen flicks in the future, that’s for damn sure. I also have to give some little brownie points to this flick for also including a small role from a much younger Robert Duvall and Robert Vaughn who’s a huge dick that I just wanted to see get his face knocked in by Bullitt himself.

Consensus: The car chase is iconic and McQueen definitely provides a lot more coolness to his character than expected, but Bullitt is just a very overrated flick that has its moments, but is also very slow, if at times, boring, with it’s very simple premise that goes exactly where you think it would, with barely any real surprises. Please don’t hate me people, please don’t!


The Dark Knight (2008)

Damn, when they say “Dark”, they freakin’ meant it!

Batman (Christian Bale) raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organisations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker (Heath Ledger).

Come on now! You can’t honestly sit there and try to tell me that you didn’t see this one coming. I mean with The Dark Knight Rises only about a few short days away, I had to realize again why I’m so juiced up in the first place and thank God for that, cause this movie still kicks ass no matter how many times you see it. And to answer any of your suspicions, I saw this more than 10 times. In it’s entirety, as well.

Let me just get this out of the bag and go off by stating the obvious when I say that this is one of the, if not, the best superhero movie of all-time, and all of that can be attributed to one of the best storytellers working today, Mr. Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins was a pretty damn dark origin story to how Batman became who he is, but this film goes even farther in the dark departments where almost everything here is complex, gloomy, depressing, scary, sad, and most of all, tense. Holy shit is this movie ever so tense! Nolan lets the story be told the way that it should, which works in its own right, but what really got me every time was whenever he would pack this film with another insane action sequence that would last over 10 minutes and just keep my attention up on the screen the whole time. The sounds are loud, the shots are booming, and the whole time, you feel like you’re there and you have no idea what’s going to happen next.

That’s also another aspect I loved about this movie, you never knew what was really going to happen next. Too much in today’s world whenever we get a superhero movie, it’s pretty much the same song and dance but there’s just something different that Nolan brings to this story here and he makes it all the more unpredictable. I mean there is obvious, generic plot points that this film follows through on, but not everything is exactly as you would expect it to be. And honestly, even when things are even remotely up-lifting or happy, they aren’t as sunny shine as you would want. Instead, the daaaaaaarknessss taaakesss overrrrr!!!

So when you do have a story that’s somewhat unpredictable and plenty of hardcore action scenes that kick your ass right into shape, you pretty much have a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, which is in fact what this film does if not more. Every single scene feel like it matters to this story, only to build it up more and give it more layers, and every time a piece of action would come out on screen, it not only made the film feel that much more intense but also added to the ruthless mood that Nolan gave this film in the first place. You almost feel like this director will do anything and everything to entertain us and keep us watching, but he also doesn’t allow for it to be just his story to tell, we all know and love it the way we do and there’s a spirit underneath it all that really makes it fly (pun intended). It’s not everyday that you get to see a story like this that’s so damn complex and fun, but also one that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be pulling any punches and could literally go anywhere with itself. That’s the type of director Christopher Nolan is and if you don’t believe me, go on and check out his résumé, and see what the eff I’m talking about. This guy means business and it shows through every single film he makes, and that’s why I have total and complete faith in him handling this last one.

If there is any complaint I have to give to this film is that it is almost too tense to the point of where I feel like I was getting tired by the end. I know, I know, I’m going to get attacked in the comments by how lame of a complaint this is but the film does run on a little too long and you feel like there should have almost been an intermission for people to go out and stretch their legs and get some over-priced goodies at the concessions stand. Then again, it’s just another sign of Mr. Nolan not taking any prisoners when it comes to watching his movies and being there for the end, with every body part still in-tact.

Christian Bale, once again, does a pretty solid job as Batman/Bruce Wayne and shows that he definitely has the skills and charm to pull of a complex character like Batman where we see him as this happy and rich playboy, that has to stand up for what is right, put on the cape, belt, suit, and everything, just to show what he believes in. Maybe that was a little too corny for Batman, and hell, even this movie, but you know what I mean. Bale is always awesome and regardless of what he does with his voice, you know this guy always kicks ass. It was also awesome to see everybody else return here and give their characters more development this time around with Gary Oldman as Lt. James GordonMorgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and of course, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth. Also, people will probably notice that Katie Holmes didn’t return to her character of Rachel Dawes (for Mad Money, great decision honey!), so they put Maggie Gyllenhaal in for her and she does pretty awesome. She isn’t necessarily a damsel in distress character as she can stick up for herself but also makes it clear why two dudes like Wayne and Dent would be fighting over here.

But when it all comes right down to it, you cannot talk about this film without going over it’s two main villains: Harvey Dent/Two-Face and The Joker. I feel bad for Aaron Eckhart here because this guy totally gets over-shadowed by all of the hype with his character, as it’s obviously always more focused on The Joker, which isn’t fair because the guy kicks some sweet ass in this role. Eckhart definitely seems like a great choice for Dent because he’s always been able to play these somewhat slimy characters, that you know you can’t hate because deep-down inside, there’s something good in them. Take this role for instance, as it is a lot harder to portray a dude that is pretty much a romantic rival to our main hero, and also goes from good guy to bad guy pretty quickly and dramatically. But somehow, Eckhart pulls it all off and I’m glad to see that he finally got his chance to be apart of the A-list because this guy has something about him that just really clicks.

However, you can’t talk about this film without not talking about it’s main attraction in the first place, and with good reason: Heath Ledger as The Joker. This is one of those rare, inspired bits of casting that comes around almost once a decade where a random actor gets put in this role where it doesn’t seem like it fits that person one bit, but somehow, they pull it all off perfectly to the point where you almost don’t feel like you’re not watching that same actor do their own thing. That’s this rare role where Ledger just got to do anything he wanted with this iconic villain. Does he have the same wit and charm as Nicholson’s? Of course, but it’s a lot more darker now and goes along with the tone so perfectly because Ledger isn’t a Joker that’s all about fun and games, this ‘effer will kill you when he has the chance to do so and he’ll laugh and smile about it. Don’t believe me? Just try and remember that magic trick. Thank you, I rest my case. But honestly, this is one of Ledger’s best performances ever, which is obvious because he won the Oscar that year anyway but it should not be all about because he died and the Academy felt bad. No, this guy commands the screen every time he is up there and you get the perfect feel for what this actor really would have done, had he lived on and saw what this iconic role done to his career. Really is a sad thing to see when you have somebody with such a bright future right ahead of them, just fall short because of some stupid drugs, but we will always have the movies and that’s what matters.

Consensus: The Dark Knight is exactly what you would expect from a superhero flick, especially one that is considered the greatest of all-time: awesome action sequences, tense storytelling, unpredictable story, great acting, easy-to-root for hero that has more problems at stake than just a bunch of baddies, baddies that are as menacing and evil as you can get, and a direction that just reminds you that Christopher Nolan is a man amongst men when and when it comes right down to it, this guy can do it all if he wanted to! The Dark Knight Rises, here I come baby!!

9/10=Full Price!!

Tell No One (2006)

It’s like Hitchcock with subtitles.

Paediatrician Dr Alex Beck (François Suzette) has been devastated since his childhood sweetheart and wife, Margot, was savagely murdered in the early days of their marriage eight years before. But when he receives an anonymous email, he sees a woman’s face standing in a crowd and being filmed in real time. Margot’s face… is she still alive?

Wow doesn’t that plot sound so different and original….? Of course you know that this is pretty much the same old generic thriller plot we get where the Everday Man finally gets to square off against The Man and find out more about himself and just what the hell is really going on with this case. However, the difference here is that it’s from French film-maker Guillaume Canet, which makes a huge difference.

Canet starts this film out as your ordinary mystery thriller where you have no idea what’s going on and why everything is so suspicious all of a sudden. The atmosphere is pretty chilling but it only gets better once the whole thrilling aspect of the flick starts to pick up and that’s where this film got me. Canet keeps on throwing us plot twist after plot twist after plot twist and it keeps the story more and more intriguing and interesting as it goes on. Certain things happen at first, and you have no idea why or for what reason but as the film goes on the answers start to come out and Canet will throw you a little brief hint here and there just to fool around with you. The problem most people will have with this flick is that there is a lot of reading here involved, but I think that also helps it since my French is terrible and it helps spell everything out just a bit more than what I usually get with these types of thrillers.

You get everything here, that you would get with any normal type of thriller: running , chasing, romance, heartbreak, bad things happening to good people, people dying, people getting shot, people about to get shot, gangsters, sex, and some lesbians (not in that sexy way though). It’s all here but it all feels fresh and original once the story starts to develop more, almost as if Canet watched ‘The Fugitive’ but realized that half-way through that you can still have all of the other stuff that happen in these types of flicks and decided to just throw them all in there for shits and gigs. Somehow, it works.

My only problem with this flick was that at the end, when all of the questions finally get answered in one big shock of a scene, the film still doesn’t seem to make as much sense as it would like to think. I can’t really give away any major plot points and I can’t say that everything in this flick didn’t make any sense but there will still some head scratchers for me even though I payed attention to the whole damn thing. This whole paragraph probably sounds very vague and stupid but I just don’t want to give any of the plot twists away so go watch it yourself and see what you think effers!

Since I don’t really watch a whole bunch of French films (let alone, foreign films in general), I don’t know who is really the who’s who of French cinema but I can definitely say that they have some notable faces here that all do excellent jobs. François Suzette is pretty damn good as Doctor Alexandre Beck, a guy who just wants to know what the hell happened to his wife. This guy seems very normal but then we start to see him change in the midst of all these crazy happenings and it’s great how Suzette was able to channel all of that simply through the emotions and looks on his face. I honestly thought that this was going to kick the whole police department’s ass and with the inspiration that he had for doing so, I wouldn’t doubt it either. There are a whole bunch of familiar faces here such as Kristin Scott Thomas as one of his lesbian friends (meowww), Gilles Lellouche as a tough-ass hoodlum that you want on your side named Bruno, Jean Rochefort as a bad-ass gangster that doesn’t speak much or even show up that much but when he does, you know it’s some real business, and there are plenty others here that you have all seen before but just can’t say their names.

Consensus: Tell No One doesn’t make perfect sense when it’s all said and done, but the film is entertaining, exciting, and features plenty of plot twists to keep you watching as the mystery unfolds. Damn, the French really can do it all!


Layer Cake (2004)

Selling ecstasy is the ideal way to become James Bond.

Sleek, well dressed and polite, XXXX (Daniel Craig) looks like any other businessman. Now he’s looking at retiring while he’s still young enough to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. He reckons a couple of days should see him clear of the business. That’s the plan, anyway.

It seems like any British gangster flick that has come out within the past 15 years, all have to be compared to Guy Ritchie films. Ritchie did sort of bring this whole “goofy gangster” type of movie to the public, so it makes sense. But what happens when one of his buddies try to out-do him? Ehh, nothing much.

Instead of relying on off-the-wall humor or a slick style, director Matthew Vaughn, creates a story that is pretty interesting right off from the start and stays that way for awhile. Vaughn brings a whole bunch of plot twists that are sure to mess with you for awhile and he gives us this gritty and mildly bleak look at these characters and the lives they live. I don’t want to say that Vaughn has a pretty distinctive style, because I don’t think he has any set style here whatsoever, but I will say that he knows how to make a regular gangster film look pretty damn depressing just by setting it in certain places that you wouldn’t expect them to be at. I can definitely see why this guy went on to do Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, because he can definitely keep the momentum going no matter what it is that he’s doing.

The plot starts off pretty well and keeps a certain momentum to it that had me into it and watching, but then my interest started to stray away once the plot started digging deeper and deeper. With this story, characters are constantly flying in-and-out with barely any introduction at all and it’s never made clear to us as to what their presence serves to this plot at all. I tried my hardest to remember all of their names right away but as time went on, I found myself almost keeping a tally on my hand as to who was who and who was doing what to whom. It’s a very confusing plot that starts to get a bit more confusing.

Let’s also not forget to add that the characters have some very deep accents where you may only be able to catch about two to three words they say in each of their sentences. I can’t really blame this problem on the film and the actors considering they were born with this accent, but then again, it just adds more annoyance to your head when you’re trying to freakin’ map out everything that’s going on. I know a lot of this sounds like I wish that they dumbed this film down for me but I have to be honest when I say that the accents, countless characters, and plot twists messed me up at times if not for a whole 30-minute period. Then again, I got right back into it by the last act when it starts to become a lot more of a story about all these sort of bad muthtruckas just getting ready to kill one another.

People all say that this is the role that made Daniel Craig the next James Bond and I can definitely see it because this guy is pretty damn good. Craig makes this character (who goes unnamed the whole film on purpose) a very easy one to follow because he’s likable, very sleek and cool, but also is a bit vulnerable and finds himself in a lot of situations that you wouldn’t expect a certain “know-it-all-character” to find himself in. He’s just a good actor and if this was the role that got him his Bond gig, then so be it because he may be the best thing about this film.

It was also pretty cool to see Sienna Miller show up here as nothing more than a hot and sexy lady for Craig’s eyes but I sort of do wish that there was more of her and her character because they could have had a bit of a striking little romance go on here. Also, you may notice a little young performance here from a man known as Tom Hardy playing one of Craig’s lackies, and now that I think about it, I wonder who would win in a fight: Bane or James Bond? Now that would be pretty cool.

Consensus: Layer Cake has a great performance from Daniel Craig and an inspired direction from Vaughn, but it also suffers from being a bit too over-stuffed when it comes to its plot with too many characters, too many twists, and way too many accents that made it harder to understand just what the hell everybody was talking about.


Igby Goes Down (2002)

Damn it sucks to be a Culkin.

Igby Slocumb (Kieran Culkin), a rebellious and sarcastic 17-year-old boy, is at war with the stifling world of old money privilege into which he was born. With a schizophrenic father (Bill Pullman), a self-absorbed, distant mother (Susan Sarandon), and a shark-like young Republican big brother (Ryan Phillippe), Igby figures there must be a better life out there – and sets about finding it.

It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people compare this to the Catcher in the Rye because just from reading the plot on the back of the book, they seem to have plenty in common. However, I have not read that book just yet so don’t worry it’s not going to be another one of those “book vs. movie” reviews.

Writer/director Burr Steers does a pretty good job here with all of the expectations that would come from “adapting” a classic like Catcher. Steers puts a modern spin on this story and gives it this dark edge to it that can sometimes be funny but can also be very sad. I can’t say that this flick is a dark comedy because there are moments that are legitimately meant to be funny but so many other jokes all have to do with either drugs, death, or mental illness that it’s kind of hard not to categorize it as that in the first place. Regardless of what you may call this film though, it’s funny and may surprise you with a lot of the jokes it pulls out of its behind.

Where I think Steers’ writing really worked was in the way he showed Igby’s life, as well as Igby himself. Igby is a great character because he is a total smart-ass that always has something sarcastic to say, seems like one of those kids that would do perfectly on his own, and just reminds me of the type of high school rebel that I always tried to be but somehow failed. The kid is an ass and hates his mother so much that when she dies (not a spoiler because they tell you in the first 2 minutes) he calls up everybody she knows and just tells it like it is, “Yeah…she’s dead”, then moves onto more and more people to tell. There’s also a couple of other scenes that made me laugh at everything he was doing and it was just great to see a teenage character in a flick that wasn’t there to show a dilemma he has with picking up chicks or getting good grades, no, this kid’s trying to make a living and figure out what he wants in life.

It’s not just all of the funny ish that happens here that makes Igby so damn cool, it’s also the fact that he feels like an actual kid with a lot of problems that he tries his hardest to hide from. There’s a lot going on in Igby’s life that has effed him up from a father that basically went nutso right in front of his eyes, a mother that he absolutely despises, a godfather that won’t just let him be his own man, a brother that has always been better than him in anything, and an inability to deal with all of the crazy roommates he gets. Maybe it doesn’t sound all that bad to begin with but for an 18-year old kid (hollah!), it can be a lot to take in at a quick pace and we feel for Igby even though he’s surrounded by assholes constantly.

Some parts of this flick worked for me on a dramatic basis, but others, did not. There’s some little love thing going on between Igby’s lady friend and Igby’s brother that felt forced and just another way to bring conflict to the story of how much more his brother reigns supreme over him now. I also didn’t like how the film just sort of left everything up in the air without any resolution to any of these characters whatsoever. I’m not saying that I loved all of these characters, because a lot of them were just plain and simple assholes, but I still spent enough time with them to actually get to know and care about them, so why not show me what actually happens to them after it all? Hell, we don’t really know what happens to Igby at the end either but what bummed me out was just how sudden and abrupt the ending was without showing me the characters that I spent so much time with.

The reason Igby is so damn good as a character though is because of Kieran Culkin is spot-on with this act and I hope that more and more people take notes and see that this kid has a real true comedic talent. Don’t believe me? Check out ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’, and you’ll see what I’m saying. As for everybody else they’re all good too. Claire Daines is a fun character named Sookie to watch and learn more about, which was a surprise because Daines is usually very bland in her flicks; Jeff Glodblum is the absolute man as Igby’s godfather, D.H.; Amanda Peet is just fine as Rachel, even though I think she kind of over does the whole “I’m on heroin” act she had going for a good part of the movie; Ryan Phillipe plays, once again, the soulless ghoul here as Igby’s bro-brah and does a nice job even though he’s playing another rich kid who thinks he’s better than anybody else; Bill Pullman is great in flash-backs as Igby’s daddy and he has some of the more emotionally wrenching scenes; and Susan Sarandon is back doing what she does best: being a bitch. And that’s all we really want from her.

Consensus: Igby Goes Down has an involving lead character, as well as some very funny moments that take us inside the mind of a teenager, no matter how quick life may come at you for it.


Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Those little 6-year olds, man, they really can change the world.

The protagonist is a six-year-old girl, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) who exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

Throughout the whole Summer movie season, when people are getting tired of seeing all of the non-stop action, special effects, and big-budget extravaganzas that grace the big screen almost every weekend, it’s good to know that you can rely on these small, indie films that may not look or sound like those flicks, but still carry the same power and entertainment value. Go indie film-making!

This is the directorial debut of a dude named Benh Zeitlin and it’s a very impressive one to say the least. One of the most striking elements to this whole film is the look of it all. The town that these people live in, is about half-way destroyed because of the constant storms that come on through it and everything just looks dirty, stinky, and terribly grimy beyond belief. However, these people live it up and use it to the best that they can by never taking anything that they have for advantage, and always trying to look on the bright side by never leaving their homes, even when there are huge storms approaching that promise to destroy everything in sight. This, not only shows you the type of atmosphere and setting that these people surround themselves with, but it also takes you into a somewhat different world. A different world that actually isn’t part of the U.S. or part of anything else at all, it’s just their own, little world that they choose to live in and love no matter how disgusting or unsafe it can be.

The vision that this guy has for his movie is striking because it’s able to take you somewhere, you didn’t expect and with a very small budget, it’s actually terribly impressive. It almost feels like this guy has been walking through the streets his whole life, picking up little pieces of scrap, that could one day all be used for his own feature film, and he puts altogether right here for us to see and feast our eyes on. You can also tell that there is a little bit of Terrence Malick influence in this guy as well as the shaky-cam option works and gives this film a very distinct, if grainy look that may some throw off. Me, on the other hand, enjoyed that aspect and it made me feel like I was right there with this story as everything was happening.

Much like Malick’s last flick, The Tree of Life, the visuals and sound are in tip-top shape, but the story is also very strong as well, mainly because it’s featured around one of those little innocent kids that we usually see in movies, and love just about every time. What separates this little girl Hushpuppy, from all of those other same character types, is that she pretty much has to depend on herself for everything considering her mommy is gone and her daddy is an unreliable drunk (but are there such a thing as a reliable one?). So, right from the start, you can tell that she’s a strong character that has plenty of strong feelings, wants to see the world for all of its beauties and horrors, and just wants to do the right thing. Sounds pretty familiar, especially when you’re talking about a child protagonist, but there’s just something about her and her story that reels you in right from the start, and doesn’t let you go until you feel like you’ve had enough. Needless to say, I got very involved with this story and somewhat found myself tearing up a bit at the end, but, that doesn’t mean I ain’t no pussy! You’ll only get that last line if you saw the movie. Sorry if I offended anybody.

I think the main reason why Hushpuppy was a great character from the start, was because of the great performance from 9-year old new-comer, Quvenzhané Wallis. Yes, Quvenzhané Wallis, remember the name people. Wallis is such a strong force here and does an amazing job carrying this role because she never really over-acts and comes off as a little girl that is really getting to see all of the world for what it is: some beautiful parts, and some very horrifying parts as well. Whenever she’s given the chance to emote, she nails it and whenever she needs to be strong without saying anything and just by standing there, she’s even better and you can feel what she’s feeling. She’s a confused and frantic little girl, and you feel for her but she never asks for your sympathy and that’s what really got me liking this character right away. Definitely look for this girl’s name to be popping up next February.

Another strong performance from this cast is by the guy who plays her drunken daddy, Dwight Henry. It’s crazy to see that this guy has had no prior acting experience whatsoever and is actually a baker, of all random jobs to have. But regardless of what he is in real-life, this guy is still amazing in this role because he goes throughout the whole movie with this mean edge, dangerous look in his eyes, and very weak frame of mind, but in the end, you still care for him because you know he was the one who loved and cared for Hushpuppy, when nobody else would. Henry has this certain type of presence about him that keeps this movie running on strong whenever he’s around and even when he isn’t, you know he’s somewhere around and ready to just come in bring his mad-ass back. Great performance from a guy who hopefully gets put on the map because of this and everybody else does a great job as well, considering barely any of them have had little or no acting experience whatsoever.

My two problems with this film though, kept me away from really loving like I wish I could have. My first problem with this movie may sound really lame and soft but I have to be honest and say that this flick almost made me puke. The whole film has this dirty and disgusting look to it that really is in-your-face the whole time, which worked, but at the same time, didn’t because it just made me feel sick to my stomach. However, that wasn’t as bad as some of the shit I saw whenever they would show dead animals or stuff like that and even though I know they’re all fake, I still couldn’t help but think they looked a little too realistic and it was just too disgusting for me to watch at points. Did I make it through without throwing up? Yes, but should that even be a question in the first place? Don’t really think so. It should more or less be saved for the torture-porn horror movies.

Another problem I had with this film was the Beats’ themselves. For the first hour or so, they didn’t bother me because I actually felt scared about them making their way to all of these innocent souls, but after awhile, once you get to see how they really look, up-close and personal, it’s a little distracting. I know that this is a low-budget, indie movie that shouldn’t really be taken points away from because of their special effects, but they don’t really gel with the story at the end and look more fake than I actually expected them to be. Still, I got to give it to a director for actually going down this road, even though it hurt him just a tad bit.

Consensus: With emotional story-telling, bright and powerful vision, and strong performances from this group of no-names, Beasts of the Southern Wild is exactly what you could want in a low-budget, indie flick that will take you out of the world you live in today, and take you to this brand-new, magical world you never knew ever existed.


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

It doesn’t matter who you are, you love this damn film.

The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.

Let me just say this, if you have not seen this film, stop reading and get out there to your local video store/Redbox/Netflix account/illegal movie download website and check this ditty out. Honestly, everybody loves it. Of course when people say that about anything, it usually means that it’s just their opinions and that about 2 people they know agree with them so they feel like hot shit but that’s not the case here at all. You could ask anyone their thoughts on this and I’ll bet they’ll all tell you the same thing: perfection.

The craziest thing about this flick is how this was writer/director Frank Darabont‘s first movie he ever made. That’s right people…..FIRST MOVIE HE EVER MADE! Darabont really deserves all the credit for this story and for this flick because he found a way to match all of Stephen King’s writing in such a perfect way that it made every line of dialogue, feel like a piece of art itself. When the film wants to be funny, it’s funny; when the film wants to be emotional, it’s emotional without ever being hokey; and whenever the film wants to find its own little sly ways of getting us more and more involved with this story, it does and never stops the whole time. All of the dialogue, if placed in a lesser hand, could have been written off as corny but Darabont and King work wonders together, and it’s no surprise that Darabont went after another King adaptation about 5 years later with The Green Mile. Oh yeah, and he’s the guy who also adapted The Walking Dead so that definitely earns some brownie points in my book.

I think what really makes me truly love this film the way that I do is that I have seen it about 5 times and not once does it ever get old. That’s the true sign of a good movie. Since you know everything that goes down in the end, you get the chance to look at everything once again and see all of the little hints and clues that this film throws at you, without you ever really knowing in the first place. It’s really cool how Darabont was able to throw these little things in there to have it all make sense in the end but still allows you to get something new out of the movie each and every time you watch it. The film is all about the human spirit and how we can all be free no matter where it is that we are at in our lives. These prisoners feel trapped but it’s all about how they can all break free from these walls without ever having to take a step over them. It’s a message that we have all seen done and talked about before, but for some reason, this film does it the best and really makes you want to just get out there and live like a free person anywhere you go.

At the center of this whole film though is the performances of everybody involved, especially those ones of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. These guys were already big names before this film came out but I think it’s definitely the best performances of their careers by far, and if you have ever seen any of their other work you know that this is a very bold statement to make in the first place. Robbins is very mysterious and strange as Andy, but he’s also a very likable character that makes it easy to see why all of these guys take such a liking to him in the first place. We also see Andy as a free soul that wants to do anything in his power to do right for everyone around him and gets even better and better once you start to see just how smarter he is than he lets on. It’s such a shame that he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar here because he really brings a whole lot to Andy. Morgan Freeman is also the perfect choice as Red. Red is our narrator for the whole movie and shows us a look at everything that’s going on with Andy from the outside-in and it just works because you feel a huge deal of warmth and comfort from this character that it really shows as one of Freeman’s signatures when it comes to him playing in any role. I heard that Darabont chose Freeman over such legends like Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford, and to be honest, I couldn’t see any of them playing the part as perfectly as Freeman does here.

What made this film work the way it does on me is the friendship these two create together. Red sees something in Andy that he never expected in the first place and from then on, we see two people who are both struggling for freedom in a place where all hope is lost, gain some sort of hope together. What I’m describing right now may sound a bit too much like a mixture between Brokeback Mountain and Cool Hand Luke, but it’s honestly the best aspect of this whole movie because you see this friendship blossom over time and you see how they each look out for one another in every single situation they have. By the end, everything they have together starts to come in full circle and that’s where I actually started to tear up a bit because this is where the film’s message comes around and it’s also where you notice that these two guys were meant to best buds and live free after all.

Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is just one of those perfect movies that seems to have it all: great writing, great direction, amazing performances, a message that is meant to inspire anybody who watches this, and so much more to it. Basically if you are reading the end of this review and have still not checked this one out, then get off your butts and do so. I promise you will not be let-down in the least bit.

10/10=Love and Cherish Forever!!

Metropolitan (1990)

Maybe having so much money and being so snobby isn’t that bad after all.

Proletarian Fourierist Tom (Edward Clements) is immersed by chance in Manhattan’s upper-crust deb world. At first, he is against all of these late-night parties but soon starts to enjoy them as well as the people the surround him.

Writer/director Whit Stillman is a dude that I always hear about, but never actually get myself to see. I thought of him as more of a “Woody Allen, if Woody made teen movies”. Now I kind of feel like a dick for saying that in the first place.

What I liked most about Stillman’s script was just how damn entertaining it was to hear these people speak and talk about certain subjects I had no idea about. Subjects like Jane Austen, Luis Buñuel, public transportation, and the work that they do in school are all foreign subjects to me that have no meaning but the way Stillman puts in his own dry wit and sarcasm makes it all the more entertaining. That’s why I have to say that this is a very funny flick that doesn’t rely on some big punch-line to get you laughing. You have to pretty much listen in to what these people are talking about to eventually get the joke at hand. Sounds a little too complicated for a comedy about a bunch of rich people, hanging around, getting drunk, and spittin’ out their knowledge of suits, but it’s still something to listen to and I can totally see why this script got nominated for an Oscar after all.

Most of the comedy from this film comes from the way we see these rich yuppies hang around, and how pompous they can be but Stillman surprisingly takes a sympathetic look at them. Of course Stillman shows us that these people can be assholes who think they’re better than everybody because their daddies make more money in an hour than you do in a year, but it’s more about how these kids, no matter how rich, are just like us in many ways. There are plenty of scenes where these kids are drinkin’ and shootin’ the shit on God knows what, but there are also plenty of other scenes where these kids actually do things that normal teenagers would do such as playing strip poker, burning a piece of toilet paper with a lit cigarette for a dime to fall in, and telling fake and phony stories about another person just to ruin his/her reputation. Let’s not also forget to mention that these kids have a lot of wonders in their lives that they don’t have the answers for just yet and it’s that real insightful speak that Stillman gives us that is meaningful.

These kids may be rich, dress fancy, and get any kind of car they want come their birthday, but they also have dreams, questions about the world, and to still have the need to want to have a good old time, even if that does mean arguing about French socialism a lot more. This may not make you look at these yuppies types any differently than half of you reading this do now, but Stillman’s script still makes you realize that these teenagers are just like you and me, with heftier wallets.

My problem with this flick was that since the film was so low-budget, there will a couple of problems when it came to editing. Certain scenes seem to run on too long and give it this awkward silence and then the scene suddenly ends out of nowhere. It’s really strange and it happens a couple of times and almost made me laugh a couple of times unintentionally. I think some of that also has to go along with the fact that some of these actors aren’t that good and they seem to over-sell a lot of what they’re trying to say. Sounds like a weird complaint but I still can’t get past the fact that maybe Stillman had to check out the final product a bit more.

I think the main reason why his script worked so well too, was because he had a good, young cast to deliver it. Edward Clements is very good in the central role as Tom, and creates a sincere and very real character that is the perfect dude for us to see connect with this group because with anybody else, it would have surely been a bit more stranger. Carolyn Farina plays melancholy, shy type as Audrey, and gives a very cute performance that feels like a real girl who just wants to be liked by somebody even if she can never find that one special dude. The one performance that really had me laughing though was the one given by Christopher Eigeman, who plays the totally snarky and cocky Nick. Eigeman is great in this role because he has a lot of funny moments that are just dedicated to him being an ass. At first, he’s terribly unlikable but he ends up being the most memorable and likable character of the whole bunch when it’s all said and done. Like everybody else in this flick, I wonder where they have all went because I don’t notice these faces and it’s a surprise that this flick didn’t put them all on the map.

Consensus: Metropolitan pokes some fun at the rich and pompous yuppies we usually see in these kinds of social satires, but Whit Stillman is more about showing these characters as your normal, everyday teen that may have more money, but still thinks the same as your or I. Also, his script is great and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination that it got.