Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: September 2012

End of Watch (2012)

Honestly, after seeing Training Day, I will never be able to trust a cop.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as two Los Angeles police officers as they patrol the city’s meanest streets of south central Los Angeles. One day, however, they stumble upon a discover that makes them two-wanted men, that puts both of their careers and lives at stake.

Writer/director David Ayer has taken his stabs at the police-force with his past two efforts (Harsh Times, Street Kings) but now, seems like he’s making up for all of that with a flick that could almost come off as a police-recruitment video in a way. Sounds crazy, especially since cops aren’t as handsome as the two leading-men here, but if one dude who’s thinking about what to do for his life, stumbles upon this, the police-force will be able to say they have another in uniform.

But as preachy and heavy-handed as I make that sound, that is not something Ayer is all about with this flick. In fact, as hard as it may try to win points over with the police-crowd out there, the film is still more about the characters, rather than exactly about what they do. This is the study of two guys, who love each other, love their work, and most importantly, love doing what they’re sent out there to do, and that’s to save people’s lives whenever they get a call. This may sound hokey and uninteresting but Ayers actually brings a lot of depth to the story, that at times, may surprise you by how far it goes with itself. You feel for these characters and their surroundings and every time they get a call about something bad going down on the radio, you automatically get worried and you fear for these guys because you have become so attached to them over the whole course of the movie.

Building up an emotional-level for these characters is something that Ayer does very well, but when he’s building that up, he’s also building up a great deal of suspense that caught me by surprise. Granted, people going into this film will probably be a bit disappointed by how there isn’t as much action as the trailers may suggest, but with a story like this, it doesn’t really matter because everything else that’s going on is so strong. However, when they do focus on the action of the movie, it’s exciting, thrilling, and very unpredictable as you have no clue what’s going to happen to these guys or when they’re going bite the bullet. This is definitely what kept me on-the-edge-of-my-seat and had me into this story when all of this other crap would seem to almost take me out of it.

The crap that I’m talking about, is when it seems like Ayer feels the need to constantly weave-in and out of the “found-footage” aspect of this movie. I will say one thing about this movie going in, I was not looking really forward to it because of this aspect and I’m glad that it wasn’t like this the whole time but seriously: either do it the whole time, or don’t do it at all! Even when they do abandon this format, the camera is constantly shaking and breaking all-over-the-place and it made me feel like I was still watching a found-footage movie, except with the camera actually being stuck in a blender. This bothered the hell out of me and I wish Ayer just stuck it straight to the original format of filming a movie, because he had strong enough material to make it work in the first-place.

Then, of course, there’s the typical cop-movie conventions that always seem to plague movies like this. Of course, we got the burnt-out cop, the rookie cop, and the usual crooks that seem like they come right out of another movie. That statement, right there is not a good thing because even though those two other conventions are here, at least they seem grounded in-reality, as opposed to these cartoonish bad-guys that had me laughing my ass off every time they showed-up. First of all, I thought it was dumb how they actually had them film their own murders and crimes, which seemed to come out of nowhere and in this film for no other reason than to just go along with the format they already established in the first-frames. Then, of course, they seem to come out of nowhere in certain scenes where they seem so pissed off about these two cops going from house-to-house and finding out about all of these murders and drugs. It seemed really random for these two cops to eventually get tracked-down by this gang considering there are large-portions where these gangs aren’t even shown, let alone discussed. Seriously, does every gang-member say “fuck” every 2 seconds in their sentences? Especially those Latino ones?

Despite these bitty problems, the real reason why this film works so damn well is because of the work given by it’s two leads: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. These guys, from start-to-finish, display a pitch-perfect chemistry that is probably one of the best I have seen in quite some time. Granted, not many buddy-cop movies actually have their whole story revolve around the two cops, and actually show them inter-acting with one another on a daily-basis, but this film shows that and accomplishes at showing us how close these guys are. It’s not just the film that does this, though, Jake and Michael both do perfect jobs just messing around with each other, teaching each other life lessons, and even working really hard together on some life-or-death situations. Also, it needs to be added that these guys don’t really have a bad-bone in their body either, but also have a lot of problems in their lives to where you believe them not just as movie cops, but as real cops in general. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here but you really do believe in these guys, and it makes every conversation they have together is as interesting and entertaining as the one that came before it. I would be terribly surprised if I found out that these guys weren’t best buddies in real-life because there’s just something between these two that really does seem like it went on, and off-screen for them. Please, no Brokeback Mountain jokes there, either.

Consensus: Even though End of Watch suffers when it feels the need to stay within the conventions of your usual cop-drama, it still benefits from the amazing chemistry between the two leads, that make these characters more interesting, more entertaining to watch, and two people that we want to see live on at the end of the story.



Looper (2012)

Don’t we all want to be John McClane in the future?

The film revolves around a mobster (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) working for a crime syndicate in the near-future. He, along with other so-called Loopers, kill people sent from the future by their boss. Things get complicated when he recognizes one victim as his future self (Bruce Willis) and lets him escape.

Writer/director Rian Johnson‘s debut, Brick, was one of the biggest surprises in a film that I have ever seen. I went into it, expecting a crime-thriller, which is exactly what I got, but with a new twist on it that made it seem cooler and a lot more different from anything else I have ever seen prior to that. That’s why when I heard about Johnson tackling the sci-fi genre, I had no doubts whatsoever in my mind that it would be nothing short of original and different. Thankfully, that’s exactly what I got.

Most people that see the trailers for this flick will automatically get stuck in their head that it’s another confusing, sci-fi movie about time-travel. In a way, it is a sci-fi movie about time-travel, but it’s more of a twist on the crime and gangster genre than anything else. But even saying that it’s a crime and gangster genre movie is selling it short, because trust me people, this is not something you have seen before. You think you know the premise, you think you know how it’s going to play-out, and you think you know where it’s going to go, but trust me, you don’t know nothing yet and I think that’s where the fun in Johnson’s writing and directing comes from.

Anytime this movie ever seems like it’s going to go straight for the genre conventions, somehow, Johnson pulls himself straight-back from that and offers us a surprise that we were not expecting in the least-bit and even adds another secret twist/idea to the story that we didn’t already have in front of us before. This story, for some, will probably be as confusing as the meaning behind 2001, but if pay attention, if you stay with this story, and you stay with these characters, then nothing will go wrong for you at all. This is also one of those stories that I can’t go on and on about too much because the less you know about it going in, the better for you as you’re most likely going to get slapped in the face many of times with a bunch of happenings you weren’t expecting.

Johnson obviously loves having this bigger-budget and takes every great use of it with a slick look that reminded me a lot of Kubrick film, but not too much to the point of where it’s distracting, and also gave me a future that just seemed gritty and dirty, rather than over-stylized and filled with technology to the brim. There’s also a lot of sweet and stylized action scenes that will totally grab you out of nowhere, and just release you in the coolest way possible. However, it should be noted that as much action as there may be in this flick, this is not a pure, old-fashioned action flick per-se. Instead, the story takes this big twist about somewhere in the middle where things start to get a little slow, start to get a little bit more dramatic, and start to get a little talky, but it wasn’t a bad thing at all because Johnson seems like he has that perfect spark for snappy and fun dialogue that always seems interesting, no matter where these peeps may be getting at.

However, if there is a problem that I had with this change of pace half-way through the film, it’s that the characters just never came through for me. Yes, you do feel some of their sympathy throughout the film, and yes, Johnson lets them all have their different arcs but there was just that missing ingredient that wasn’t there and made me almost feel as if I was losing some sort of heart for this flick. JGL’s story (which is practically Willis’ as well), really made me root for him but the times where death was staring him straight-down in the eyes, I didn’t really know what to do or feel. The guy starts the film off as a total dickhead, just doing drugs, killing people, and stealing money, but then gets a conscience at the end and it just didn’t work for me, nor did it work for Willis’ side of the character either. Maybe I’m a heartless fool, I don’t know. But what I do know is that these characters just never really had me reaching out to them and it really bummed me out when it was all said and done.

Despite this problem with the characters, the people who play them are better than ever. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been on such a winning-streak by now that it almost seems obvious to say he kills it once again in this role, but he really does. Right when you take a first-glance at him, you’ll notice that JGL is playing a darker, more evil character than we’re used to seeing him play before and it really makes us wonder what we got ourselves into, especially since his make-up is less than subtle. However, you do get over it after awhile and just realize that this is another chance for JGL to bring out some real character emotions, and bring out a character that could really have us feeling for him when it’s all said and done. As for his “supposed” Willis impersonation, it’s not really what you think. In a way, JGL is doing certain channels of Willis and his trademarks, but it’s never to the point of where it comes off as a Frank Caliendo impression or anything. It feels real and that’s just another sign that JGL can do no wrong. Trust me, already forgot about Premium Rush.

As for Bruce Willis himself, the guy does an awesome job in a gritter and meaner role than we have seen from him in the longest time and it’s a welcome back to form for the guy because it’s been awhile. What most people will be surprised about is how Willis and JGL don’t really spend all that much time together in the film. All of their scenes take place with them rarely being near one another, and the only time where they actually do come in-contact for the first, and only real time, is this magnificent diner scene that reminded me of Heat in a way. Where Johnson goes with both of these characters though, is what really intrigued me because instead of having Willis be some, old, crotchety mentor to JGL’s young dude ways, it’s sort of the other way around where we see a guy with some level of humanity and heart, and another that just seems to have lost it after all of this time in crime and killing.

Another cast-member/character that people will be mainly surprised about is Emily Blunt as Sara, the gun-toting, tough farmer-chick that JGL hangs with for a little while. Some will be surprised to see Blunt in such a rough and ragged role for a gal that has been in many rom-coms as of late, but the surprise is well-deserved considering this girl really seems like she has something to her that works and really takes us by storm. Her character has an arc that didn’t really make me cry or love her character any more than I already did, but I like how Blunt made this character one that you feel could kick somebody’s ass when she had to, yet, still be very vulnerable at times, as well. It’s a performance that shows she’s got more to her than just looking pretty and being witty, and I look forward to seeing what type of direction this role takes her career in now.

Consensus: Though it’s not as emotionally-stimulating as some may, or may not be expecting, Looper is still very original and different in it’s own way of story-telling, character-development, and it’s numerous plot twists that really make you wonder just what the hell is going to happen at the end of this story.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Oh, high-school. Those were the freakin’ piss-poor days of teenage angst.

This adaptation stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, an introverted and unpopular teenager who has to come to terms with the suicide of his best friend, falls in with a crowd of outsiders (Ezra Miller and Emma Watson), and is now falling in love for the first time. You know, the usual kids stuff.

High-school. Everybody knows what it’s all about and everybody has memories of it, whether they be good ones or bad ones. For me, being fresh out of high-school, I feel the same exact way where there were days that I loved, and others I just wanted to be over with and move on. High-school is not the only thing you can relate that to, but it’s definitely one of the first times in life where we actually start to feel this, understand this, and eventually, use this tool in our lives to move on and be bigger, possibly more mature adults. Thankfully, this movie made me never, ever want to grow-up.

The trailers, advertisements, and even poster for this film have made it out to be one of your ordinary, run-of-the-mill teenage dramas where we look at how kids eventually grow-up and live their lives. Yawn! Seen it all before and that’s why this film didn’t really intrigue me at first, no matter how much hype was surrounding the book. The one element to this film that did intrigue me a bit was how the actual writer of that book, Stephen Chbosky, not only wrote the screenplay for this adaptation, but also directed it as well. This is a very rare occurrence to hear about in Hollywood since those high-class executives don’t really feel comfortable giving off a big-budget flick to a director they have never worked with before, nor a director that has ever directed anything else before this. However, I don’t think anybody else could have ever directed this. I seriously don’t.

The reason I say this is because Chbosky not only knows everything about this story that he created, but he also feels everything that these characters feel. Every scene here has been done in plenty of other high-school movies before. For instance, the first couple days of high-school where a kid sits all by himself at lunch and can’t connect with anyone; meeting your first friend; going to your first party; getting high for the first time; getting drunk for the first time; and even falling in love for the first-time. All of this, and plenty more conventions of the high-school drama that we usually see, are shown here, but they feel different this time, and by different I mean in a very understandable and powerful way.

Chbosky feels what these characters feel when they get hurt, they get happy, and when they get confused, and every single scene he shows this, never feels tacked-on, manipulative, or cheesy. It all feels real and done with pure and rich emotion to the point of where you can actually relate to these characters a lot on so many topics that get very, very dark at times. But when it does get dark at times, it never loses you because you feel invested in these characters and all of their surroundings and you almost feel like you’re a part of the Wallflowers, more than Charlie is. It can get depressing, but not in a bad way because when it does have fun with itself, it really does have fun and it’s almost like you’re taking a road down memory lane and remembering all of the fun and dumb stuff you did back when you were in high-school. I remember all of the stuff that I did, and I thank this film for letting me actually smile about it all again.

The whole 90’s setting is done well because it uses all of the popular and hip music of that time, but still never exactly tells us when the story takes place giving it that idea that no matter what generation you’re from, or where you grew-up in, teenage angst has always been around and been the same case for all of the people that have had to go through it. That’s one of the main points of the story, but it’s not the only one. The film mainly touches on the feeling of being accepted and actually feeling like you belong somewhere. In this world, sometimes, you can get very, very lonely and almost feel as if you don’t really have much to go about in life anymore and are just going to be stuck in this on-going world of sameness and monotony. To be honest, I feel like that a lot at times and it hits me hard but even in my deepest and darkest times, I still feel accepted by the people around and me and have this idea that I do matter in the world. This film really does hammer that idea down to it’s core and in all honesty, had me in tears by the end of it all once I realized that this wasn’t just one kids story that not a single person could relate to, this is everyone’s story and it’s one story that I think will be beneficial for all of those younglings out there in the world who need to feel accepted and that they do matter in life.

Now that I’ve gone on a huge rant about high-school and the feelings it makes you feel, let me go back to the movie and tell you exactly why this story is as emotionally-involving as any other one I have seen this year: the cast. When I first saw that Logan Lerman was going to be the lead in this, my expectations pretty much plummeted since the kid seems to annoy me in almost everything he does and playing an awkward teen wasn’t going to do much for me, either. However, I stand corrected and say that it’s one of the finest, young performances I have seen this year and in quite some time. The reason I state this is because Lerman has a lot to do. The kid has to be a bit awkward, a bit nerdy, a bit weird, a bit horny, a bit angsty, and above all, a bit of a likable character. Thankfully, the kid nails every single one of those emotions and makes this Charlie character, such a lovely person to stand behind and feel for, especially when we get behind his back-story. Charlie is a nerd, but he’s a lovable nerd that has this type of innocence to him that is easy to root for and only hope for the best, and the trip he takes us through his freshman year of high-school is one of the best class-trips I have ever taken, and that’s all because of Lerman. He’s come a long, long way since being dumb-ass Percy Jackson.

The other one in that cast that everybody has been wondering about was Emma Watson and whether or not she was going to be able to get rid of the whole Hermione Granger act that she has come to be worldly-known for by now. Thankfully, just like Lerman, she does a great job with this character and makes us realize just why there is so much to love about her in the first-place. My only complaint with this film would probably have to be her and that American-accent that seems to come-in and out sometimes, but she’s so damn charming here that it’s very easy to get by and just love her character as much as our little friend Charlie does. I look forward to seeing more from this gal in the future and hopefully seeing her go-on and do bigger stuff than Rupert Grint or Daniel Radcliffe may do. Sorry guys, you just don’t got it like Emma.

And last, but certainly not least, Ezra Miller plays the crazy, fun, and gay kid that Charlie first befriends, Patrick. After seeing Miller play a pretty effed-up kid in We Need to Talk About Kevin, I was so happy to see him absolutely steal each and every single scene he was in because of that delivery he has. I don’t know what it is about his delivery or what, but whenever he’s given a line that’s either funny or sarcastic, he just owns it and totally comes off as the funniest guy in the room. But it’s not all fun and games with his character, he’s actually got a very dark-element to him that really makes you feel for him and understand just why he feels the way he does in life, despite being a gay young teen. Miller finally shows us the emotional side to his acting ability that we’ve all been waiting to see for so long and makes me feel like this kid is going to be a huge break-out star after this and probably the most successful out of three young stars in this movie. Sorry Logan and Emma, you two are great, but Ezra kicks ass.

Since this is mainly a movie about kids and everything they go through, it seems a bit unneeded for adult characters but each one does a great job with the limited material they’re given. Some stars show-up for only a minute, while others show-up for 6 minutes, but regardless of how much they actually show-up, they all do what they’re needed and that’s to give good performances. Much of this love goes out to Paul Rudd as Bill, Charlie’s ridiculously cool English teacher that made me really jealous that I never had him in my high-school life. And I mean Paul Rudd, not the actual cool teacher himself. God, that would be so damn cool.

Consensus: In case you haven’t been able to tell from my highly-detailed review, I loved almost everything about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s emotionally heartfelt, poignant, entertaining, funny, dark, insightful, sad, well-acted, great to listen to, and always had me watching and loving these characters for what they were, and not for what they needed to be. Definitely see it, especially if you’re just another little guy starting out in high-school. This one here, may change your life.

9/10=Full Price!!

Equilibrium (2002)

Apparently in the future, all cops will know kung-fu. Quentin Tarantino will be so happy.

Christian Bale portrays John Preston, a warrior-priest and enforcement officer in a future dystopia where both feelings and artistic expression are outlawed and citizens take daily injections of drugs to suppress their emotions. After accidentally missing a dose, Preston begins to experience emotions which make him question his own morality and moderate his actions, while attempting to remain undetected by the suspicious society in which he lives.

What you have here is a film that’s pretty much a cross with action of The Matrix mixed with the world from 1984. Should be a lot more epic than it sounds, but hey, it’s not all that bad.

The plot here is about a far future, where nobody feels anything and anybody that does or at least try to, ends up getting killed for their actions. The film hits this plot right away with right mood and takes you into this place where absolutely everything is dark and emotionless, and everybody is practically making sure the other isn’t smiling or having a happy though in their head. I was definitely feeling the mood that this film was giving off and I especially liked a lot of the stylistic touches that writer/director Kurt Wimmer had here as well. Everything looks so shiny and very futuristic but doesn’t try too hard to force its look down our throats.

But I’m just going to get past all of the bullshit, because the main reason this film works so well is because of it’s action. The film isn’t a total action-fest the whole way through, but when the action does come through, it’s freakin’ awesome and brings so much more energy to the flick than anything else did. You actually have to be more patient with this film for its action scenes because there is a long stretch where we get little, or no action scenes but they kick ass because of the Kata-like action style going on here. The hand-to-hand combat fights were probably the best because whenever Bale would rip, snap, or crack somebody’s body parts, I almost thought I could feel the same exact pain. There’s a lot of gun-play here as well where Bale pretty much blows everybody up left-and-right and there is even a really cool scene where he faces off against a dude who also has a gun, and they just continue to try and shoot each other, but they keep on missing as they keep on struggling to kill the other. Definitely a lot of fun action to be had here and probably the best part of this flick.

Problem with some of these action scenes is that they all pretty much consist of Bale kicking everybody’s ass, and never ever showing a sign of danger that he may die. I get that the story is all about him being the big dog and can pretty much do no wrong when it comes to fighting and using his skills, but seriously, this guy takes on about 30 dudes at once with just two pistols where they all have assault rifles shooting at him. I mean come on, Patrick Bateman couldn’t even pull that off! It seemed like the film just made him an indestructible force that never lost or got hurt, and therefore, no real danger of loss ever came to this story. It was just me waiting to see when Bale was going to take down a whole army by himself.

I also didn’t really understand the future this film had created, even though they definitely went through its details enough. One of the main elements about this future that I already named were how they can’t feel anything. No emotions. Nada. So what really got me wondering was how the hell are kids made, when the two people who have to make the kids aren’t allowed to feel anything in the first place. I mean, two people have to be horny and ready for action when it comes to making a baby so how can they do such a thing, when they have to worry about being killed for doing so? I know this is a very weird thought that went through my head but it’s just one that kept me thinking more and more as Bale kept on hanging around his kids. Didn’t understand that part and there were plenty of other times where I would someone give off a smile or a sign of anger and it made me think: where’s all of the punishment for all of these feelings?

The real reason this film actually does work as well it does is mainly because of Christian Bale as John Preston. We all know that Bale is a great actor and can pretty much do it all, but this is the one flick where he shows that he can actually handle an action hero role very well. His performance goes from starting out as an emotionless prick, to showing signs of sadness, rage, and joy. The guys transformation makes this story a lot more meaningful in the end and the action scenes make his character more of a bad-ass than ever. What I’m saying here may not make it seem like Bale is all that important in this flick, but he definitely lifts this material up which it needed in the first place.

Taye Diggs holds his own as Preston’s partner Brandt, a guy who you can never tell what he’s going to do next and the scenes where him and Bale face-off, are pretty awesome as well; Emily Watson has some choice moments as Mary and shows a lot more emotion than the boys here; and Sean Bean has a pretty solid cameo appearance, that made me wish I saw more of him in the end. However, some Sean Bean is better than no Sean Bean.

Consensus: Equilibrium may not be the smartest sci-fi flick, and definitely not the most original, but it features a lot of super-hyper action sequences, good performances from the cast, and a pretty dark look at a future where nobody can feel anything.


Eastern Promises (2007)

Does Russia ever want tourists to visit them?

The film follows and centres on the story of a London hospital’s midwife Ana (Naomi Watts) who witnessed the death of a young girl in giving birth on Christmas Eve and decided to search for her family and identity. The search leads her into the core of dangers of the underground sex-trafficking business operated by the London’s Russian crime community headed by Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen).

I’ve been covering David Cronenberg flicks pretty frequently now and I’m glad to say that I think I’m starting to understand him a lot more now. Actually, no I’m not. Just bring on the blood dammit!

After A History of Violence came out and sort of took the world by storm, Cronenberg was looking for his next big crime film that would do the same and he pretty much does the same thing here, except everybody is Russian. What I liked about Cronenberg’s direction here is that he allows the story to tell itself and rather than spelling everything out for us, simply gives us a back-story to all that is going on and what could possibly happen with all of these gritty sons-of-bitches. This means that there is enough time for all of the tension to build up, so when Cronenberg does unleash his killing spree for all of us to see, it really feels deserved.

There aren’t many of the scenes where Cronenberg just lets loose with his violence, but when it does happen, shit gets very crazy and gory. I can’t remember the last time that I actually saw a film with so many slit throats but instead of becoming repetitive and a boring way to off somebody, Cronenberg pretty much adds as much ketchup as he can to make it seem like every single blood cell this guy has, is coming right out of his throat. Sorry for all of the bloody detail but it’s something that sticks with you after you see this kind of flick, as well as a scene where a dude gets his eye-ball stabbed. It’s all fun and games with Cronenberg, with plenty of blood and murder to go around.

However, the one violent scene that I heard everybody talking about when this first came out, was actually the big-ass brawl in the bathhouse. Basically, the scene consists of Viggo facing off against two Russian thugs but the catch here, is that Viggo’s completely naked. And when I mean naked, I mean NAKED. You see everything that this dude’s got packing and as daring as it may have been from Viggo, it’s still a huge distraction from the whole scene itself. The choreography is pretty bad-ass and the violence itself is filmed well, with Cronenberg standing off to the side and not trying to add any flash or flair to it all, but it’s sort of distracting when you got Viggo on top of a dude beating the shit out of him and all you can keep staring at is his balls on the dude’s chest. Yes, it’s a pretty daring and different kind of action scene, but it”s also one that really could have been saved had Viggo decided to put some shorts on. Hell, he didn’t even really need shorts, he could have gone with something like spandex or just some sort of leg wear that would have gotten my eye-balls away from his… know where I’m going with this.

Aside from the infamous scene that he took apart of, Viggo Mortensen is actually pretty damn good in this role as Nikolai and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination he got that year. Viggo is always one of those actors who just always seems like a bad-ass in just about everything he’s in, and he gets to show all of that here as a Russian gangster, except one of the rare ones that actually has a conscience. He’s rough, tough, and a dude that you wouldn’t fuck with but if you really feel like you could, you could probably even trust him as well. Great performance from Viggo and another extra kudos to him for going out and baring it all. Lord only knows I sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to pull that off.

Naomi Watts‘ performance here as Anna is fine but her story starts to really fall in the background by about the second act, and it’s such a shame because Watts seems pretty much one-note the whole time. I mean this is a chick who can make distressed and scared look perfect, but that’s all she is pretty much given here and as much as I loved seeing Viggo be cool as hell, I would have liked to see. more from Watts and her story as well. Playing two of Viggo’s crime buddies are Armin Mueller-Stahl and Vincent Cassel, and as good as they are, their fake Russian accents seemed a little forced and really took me away from the authenticity of the flick. I know I sound like a brat with that last statement but honestly, if Cronenberg was having such a problem with being able to get these guys to do legit, Russian accents, they should have just freakin’ called up Dolph Lundgren. End of story people!

Consensus: Eastern Promises definitely delivers on some solid acting from Viggo Mortensen, and a solid direction from David Cronenberg, but it also lacks in a story that can really draw you in and the last act or so, really starts to fizzle out.


House at the End of the Street (2012)

Haaahaaa! Katniss still lives with her mommy!

Jennifer Lawrence plays a young woman (Lawrence) who moves with her mother (Elizabeth Shue) to their dream house in a rural community only to discover that the house next door was the location of a grizzly murder years before. A daughter killed her parents in their beds, and disappeared – leaving only a brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), as the sole survivor.

Why oh why did I see this freakin’ movie?!? Oh wait, I know why. I see it for all of you, and for all of you to know that yes, I still do watch current movies, as shitty as they may be. And I do mean that: AS SHITTY AS THEY MAY BE.

Right from the start of this flick, I knew it was going to be shit. For some odd reason, director Mark Tonderai felt the need to add a whole bunch of weird/colorful effects onto some of these scenes where he’s almost yelling at us; “Hey, this is the part where you’re suppose to feel scared!”. Problem is, we don’t feel scared and the frenetic movements just didn’t do a single lick for me and made it look like I was watching a music-video. Seriously, one of these scenes takes place at a party where kids are drinking and doing kiddish-like things (total debauchery), and it’s weird because the camera does these nifty, little tricks with itself where it slows-up, then rewinds, and continues to keep-on going. This probably makes absolutely no sense to the readers who didn’t see this (and I urge you not to), but in other words: it seems like it came straight from an American Pie-music video. Yeah, pretty lame.

Even though Tonderai tries, he still cannot seem to get at all past the terrible script that seems a bit confused on what it actually sets out to be. What I mean about that is that the film is advertised as one, creepy, horror movie where the creepy neighbor somehow finds his way of doing some weird shit, to this new, innocent girl. Obviously that’s all predictable stuff, which is exactly what this flick is, but it’s worse because the film really isn’t a horror movie at all. Instead of the first 4 minutes and last 20 minutes, everything else is dedicated to this fluffy love story of a blossoming relationship between said creepy neighbor and new, innocent girl. I’m not a horror-lover, but if I went out to see this flick and realized that this was the shit I was getting, I would be flippin’ furious to see that half of the movie is just showing these two ladies (mother and daughter), try to get jumped already, even if they haven’t been in the town for no longer than 2 weeks.

Then, when the actual horror stuff comes in, it’s nothing new, exciting, or original for that matter. Hell, that could be said for this whole film, in general. There is absolutely no surprises whatsoever that come out of this story and it even borrows from other movies. Think of the creepy kid as a young, blonder version of Norman Bates, and think of the cave that Wild Bill put his victims in and that’s pretty much the same type of villain you’re working with here. However, as bad-ass and crazy as the mixture of Norman Bates and Wild Bill may sound, it does not play-out like that one-bit and everything this kid goes through is exactly what you would expect from a cheap, horror thriller, without any horror, or any thrilling moments whatsoever. Heck, even those jump-scares felt cheap and they usually work on me no matter what the horror film may be.

Speaking of the kid, poor Max Thieriot. I know that this kid doesn’t have the best track-record out there but at least he looks good, is versatile, and can make the best out of any shit that gets thrown at him. The problem is, this kid Ryan just seems like a total one-note weirdo that rubbed me the wrong way, the first time he showed his blue eyes on-screen. There’s a couple of neat-o twists with this character and how Thieriot plays him, but nothing too special to where you think, “Wowwwwww. That is something I have never seen done before, ever.” Didn’t think that once with this character, and come to think of it, didn’t think that once with this whole film.

The only reason why this film is getting a wide-release at all, and sadly, was numero uno at the box-office was all because of Jennifer Lawrence and the breakout star quality she has with her for now. Apparently, she did this film before Winter’s Bone and when that came out and garnered her an Oscar nomination, then of course they knew they had to try and get this film a release date, but then it got even better. X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games both came out and catapulted her to total stardom and this is where the powers that be knew they had an opportunity on their hand, so why the eff not try and bring this out to the public, even if it does seem like straight-to-DVD shitola.

I can’t rag on Lawrence too much here since it’s obvious that this girl doesn’t want anything to do with this flick and knew she didn’t even want to when she was filming the film in general. She has the same emotion on her face the whole movie and when she starts to get scared and scream, it seems forced as if the director held out a twenty dollar bill and told her to scream. I don’t know what sick fuck would even think about that, let alone a movie director, but hey, she could have been desperate at that time and needed more added to her salary. Even poor (and possibly is since she’s doing this shit) Elisabeth Shue in this shit as her mommy, and makes me sad whenever I think about the fact that this woman has actually been nominated for an Oscar, and dammit, she should have won. It’s a sad, sad thought when you think about how her co-star in that movie, Nicolas Cage, is having a bigger and better career then she is.

Consensus: House at the End of the Street (aka, HATES, for all of your tweeters out there) is exactly what you would expect from a horror movie with a lame-ass title like this: no surprises, no scares, no fun, no nothing.


Me and Orson Welles (2009)

You don’t have to be a dick to be an actor, but it seems like a good excuse.

Seventeen-year-old Richard Samuels (Zac Efron) spends his days dreaming of the bright lights of Broadway. Richard happens upon Orson Welles (Christian McKay) and his fledgling Mercury Theatre company. Richard impresses Welles and lands an unpaid bit part in the Mercury’s forthcoming run of Julius Caesar. He is taught the ropes by a beautiful, ambitious production assistant, Sonja (Claire Danes). Richard falls into Sonja’s womanly charm almost instantly.

Now I haven’t checked out every single  piece of work this legend (Orson Welles) has to offer, but from what I hear there seems to be three things about him: he 1. was talented, 2. was very big on his ego, and 3. was a huge dick. But hey, you can probably get away with number 3 when you’re considered one of the greatest actors and directors of all-time.

I was a tad disappointed to see that Richard Linklater  directed this without adding anything of his own writing, but it didn’t matter too much once I realized just how fun and charming a flick like this can be. I have only been a part of  2 or 3 plays and I can easily say that Linklater definitely nailed down what it’s like behind-the-scenes of one. Everybody’s constantly rushing, getting tense, and trying so hard not to mess up their lines that almost anything the slightest thing makes you crazy or pushes you to forget everything. All of that continuous hustle-and-bustle from the first rehearsal to the final show is captured here perfectly; the passion of the people who surround the play is so present that it brings you into this place that makes you forget it’s the miserable thirties.

But who am I kidding?! The real reason this film works so damn well is because of Christian McKay‘s larger-than-life performance as Orson Welles. I have never heard nor seen McKay before but I think he definitely nails everything about Welles from the gruff in his voice, to the ways his eyes move when he’s mad. Welles (as portrayed here) is a genius but is also very egotistical in the way that he only wants the show done his way, and anybody else who dares to argue against his vision will either be kicked to the streets or used for their opening night, then kicked to the curb. Welles may have been a guy that only cared about himself, and himself only, but he also shows a lot of talent when it came to getting just about every detail right and the performance from McKay only proves that to be even more true. McKay doesn’t just sound or act like Welles, he is Welles and for the whole time I was watching him, I couldn’t get past the fact that who I was watching right now wasn’t actually Orson Welles himself. Definitely a performance that should have made him a lot of a bigger name but I guess it was the film’s limited release that sort of screwed him over in that case.

However, as amazing as McKay as Welles is here, he’s also the biggest problem with the flick because when it isn’t on him and is focusing on all of this other junk, it sort of gets a little fluffy and uninteresting. All of the stage stuff was fun to watch but when they started focusing on the story outside of it all, I really started to lose my interest as I found this coming-of-age story to be rather, —bland. It seems like the writers here just borrowed from a whole bunch of other coming-of-age flicks, and found their ways to throw them in there without any real interest in actually moving the plot along. Basically, it’s just here to give us another story that isn’t all about the stage but that’s what I started to miss out on and I think if Linklater at least wrote this, it would have been a lot better.

Claire Danes is pretty good here as Sonja and definitely is a lot happier in this role than she was in Shopgirl. Zac Efron is also good in his role too as Richard (how cute, Linklater), but he definitely sticks out like a sore thumb when it comes right down to it. It’s not that Efron is bad, it’s more that he is just way too Hollywood for this role and movie, and the costuming just looks a little too goofy on him. He definitely has charm: charm that we will see more of in upcoming years, but like wise he doesn’t seem anywhere near the perfect fit for this role.

Consensus: Me and Orson Welles is at its best whenever it focuses on the behind-the-scenes stage antics of 1937 Manhattan and McKay’s perfect performance as Welles, but whenever the focus goes towards its fluffy and bland coming-of-age story, things get a tad uninteresting.


Trouble with the Curve (2012)

“Getttt offffff of myyy fieeeeld.”

The film centers on an aging Atlanta Braves scout (Clint Eastwood) who is starting to lose his sight and goes on a last scouting trip with his reluctant daughter (Amy Adams), who, in her own time, becomes slightly involved with a rival scout (Justin Timberlake).

Not only does it seem like Dirty Clint has lost his mind (talking to chairs and all), but the guy’s also losing a lot of energy and steam to not only make movies, but to star in them as well. That’s why it is heavily rumored that this may be his last flick, ever, and thought what better way to go out then give the directing duties over to a first-timer he’s been working with for over 12 years. Problem is, there is a better way to go out: make your own movie because you got the skill to do so jackass!

First-time director Robert Lorenz doesn’t really do anything spectacular with this material whatsoever. It’s a generic, boring, and dull-looking film that doesn’t bring-out anything neat or different in it’s story-line, either. Now, I know Eastwood was no master when it came to directing flicks (hell, his last directorial effort was  J. Edgar, and we all know how that did) but at least the guy put some heart, emotion, and feeling into his work. This Lorenz guy doesn’t really seem like he has any of that and is just trying to see what he can do with himself behind the camera this time. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if this was another George Lucas situation where he plays the head-producer behind the flick, but is automatically the director in his own way because he takes over every decision that was made. Actually, I would be surprised because this doesn’t seem like something Eastwood would just churn out, no matter how old or goofy he gets.

A lot of the people going into this flick will probably expect a baseball drama along the lines of last year’s fall-hit Moneyball (even though it talks-out against using a computer for statistics), or the classic baseball tearjerker, Field of Dreams, but will end-up most likely being disappointed with how little baseball action there is. I knew it wasn’t going to be a full-out baseball movie where bats were hitting balls, peanuts were being chewed, and tobacco was being dipped, so I wasn’t all that bummed when it started focusing on the actual-story at-hand but I kind of wish they did something more with this generic story. Right from the first scene, you can tell where it’s all going to go. It’s going to follow the same patterns you would expect from a family-drama like this one here and any chance the film actually gets to surprise us, it either tries and fails, or doesn’t even try at all. It’s sort of like this flick trudges along, like a baseball game between two teams that suck, but you only went to go and see because the tickets cost less than the whole McDonald’s Value menu combined together. Been there, done that and don’t want to go back to it again.

The story itself was also quite repetitive and never seemed to fully make sense with itself. There’s this constant problem that Clint has with getting old, then Adams tries to help him, he gets mad, growls at her, she gets mad, leaves, and then they are back together in the next scene acting as if nothing had just happened between them. I don’t know how most families work out most of their problems but if my mom or dad basically tells me to piss-off, I’m not going to be sitting with them at a baseball game, telling them how everything’s going. I’m going to tell them to kiss my ass and ask for somebody else to help. Then again, I may not be the most lovable son out there, but you get my point. Then, the ending pops-up and it seems as if nothing was fully resolved. Well, yeah, in a way it was but nobody ever really comes out of this feeling like a changed-person and never really admits to doing any wrong in their lives, ever. It’s almost as if this film/story never happened which is a shame because these stars make the best of it and deserve a hell of a lot better.

Clint Eastwood (in which I hope isn’t his last role) does a great job playing the usual, cranky old man that people have come to know and love him for, but this character has a bit of an emotional ting to him that makes his character a bit more accessible. Granted, a lot of the film has Clint doing his usual “growl”, and non-stop yells at random people, but he has a bit of a soft-side to him that you see very early on and continues to show various times throughout the whole flick. It’s a nice performance from Clint, but not one of his best and I hope that he doesn’t decide to end a stellar career on this one because I think, and this is just my opinion, he’s got one more solid performance left in him that may give the Academy voters a bit of a run for their money. Don’t know if I’m ever going to actually get to see that but that’s why I keep my fingers crossed.

Amy Adams is fun to watch as his everyday woman, that has a bit of that tomboy-ish act to her that separates her from most gals. Adams is good here and offers up plenty of real and honest emotion, and most of her scenes with Eastwood feel genuine enough to make me believe in that story only, but I couldn’t help thinking how much more powerful and special this role would have been, had it been given to Sandra Bullock in the first-place like they originally planned. Obviously, that whole idea would just change-up the whole movie in general, but it would have been more interesting to see her in a dramatic role, opposite of a legend like Eastwood. Still though, I can’t take too much away from Amy as she does do a nice job with what she’s given.

Everybody has this terrible hate for Justin Timberlake which in ways, I do see, but at the same time, I don’t because the guy is just so damn likable. Timberlake is a lot of fun in this role because he seems like a genuinely nice and fun guy to be around, and brings out a lot of energy and spirit in most scenes that seem a bit boring and generic. His whole love-story with Adams seems a little tacked-on, but they have a nice chemistry that makes you believe in it and makes it a lot more fun to watch their scenes. There’s a whole bunch of other actors that show-up in this flick and all do their parts well, but also seem like they just decided to do this movie because it had Eastwood in it. That’s not a terribly bad thing, as this film really isn’t, but it also shows you the type of impact Eastwood still has on everybody in the business. Yes, that’s right, even Matthew Lillard.

Consensus: There’s a crowd-pleasing feel to Trouble with the Curve that will have the audience happy, as well as the great performances from the talented cast, but is also too predictable, too repetitive, too manipulative, and too disappointing to be anything that really hits you hard and seems like a flick that Clint better not end on.


Dredd 3D (2012)

Imagine if it was this guy beating Rodney King.

The story takes place in a violent, futuristic city named Mega City One where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop named Dredd (Karl Urban) teams with a trainee (Olivia Thirlby) to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO (lead by Lena Headey).

Maybe I’m alone on this boat but I have never ever seen the 1995 Sylvester Stallone original, so I went into this flick with a pretty open-mind, expecting good, bloody things, even if the trailer didn’t do much for me. Now that I’ve seen this, I don’t even think I need to bother with the original. Sorry Sly! I gave you all of my money a month ago!

Another reason besides the trailer, as to why this film didn’t do much for me was because it’s directed by Pete Travis, aka the dude who did the political Groundhog Day, Vantage Point a couple of years back and we all know how that crap turned out. However, the guy actually brings out a certain type of fun, but controlled energy that it seems like this source material needed in the first-place. Since this is an R-rated action flick, you can expect all sorts of action, violence, blood, and guts shooting at the screen, (in fine 3D, may I add) but this time is used with a grittier edge. Actually, a very grittier edge as I don’t think I have ever really felt the need to take a shower from watching a movie in awhile but it adds to the whole look and feel of this flick.

You also can’t help but love how Travis seems like he knows his audience this time around and doesn’t ever seem to alienate them by giving them a cheesy subplot to flesh these characters out, or give them any heartfelt emotional breakthrough that doesn’t seemed deserved. No, the guy sticks straight to the violence and blood, and actually lets loose a couple of funny, but dead-pan one-liners hit you when you least expect it. Sometimes I even missed it because everybody in the theater that I was at with just started howling and I don’t know what happened there. As for all of the political themes that apparently translates from the comics themselves, I couldn’t really find much but you can tell that a lot of this talks about the world we may be fore-seeing due to high-levels of violence and crime running rampant throughout the streets. It’s pretty obvious, but not as heavy-handed as most movies, let alone action ones, that use the same premise and idea.

Where I think that this film sort of screwed itself up with was how the action never really came full-force for me. Yeah, there’s a bunch of cool scenes where people are getting their heads blown-up to pieces and a couple of sweet slo-mo scenes that look even cooler when somebody’s getting shot, but it all happens in a spread-apart fashion that sort of takes away the intensity that this film could have really had. It’s not a slow movie by any means, it just doesn’t really pick up the full head of steam that you thought it would and ends up being a film that follows the pattern of “short burst of action, follow plot. short burst of action, follow plot.” This goes on the whole film and even though I was never bored with it, I couldn’t help but wish they added more action to the mix.

Also, where the hell was that final, big shoot-out? Now, I’m no full-on lover of action movies but when I see an action movie that has such promise between two opposing forces like this one here, you think there’d be some final show-down where both go at it like no other. We do sort of get that, but it happens in a way that’s a bit anti-climactic to the point of where I was reminded of the last showdown in Gangs of New York, where there is all this set-up, all of this hype, and all of this suspense, and it ends up just doing nothing, really.

Despite the action, the plot also could have been a bit more wild and crazy, but also a bit more believable in it’s strange way. The reason I say this is because you’d think with all of the people that are going after Dredd and the rookie, that they would have a hell of a lot harder time getting to the top and killing Ma-Ma, but that’s not really the case. Somehow, someway, without giving too much away, they get to where they need to go pretty easily and it sort of ties into the whole action-element of this flick to where I felt like they really needed to give it an extra-dosage of extreme and wild action to make it all the more exciting. Still, this is a bit of nit-pick if I must say.

It was reported that Karl Urban had been wanting to play this character for the longest time, and 9 times out of 10, that usually means it’s going to be a passion project, by a certain star, that nobody else really shares the same passion with. That 1 time out of 10 is actually what we have here as Urban seems to have a lot of fun playing the straight-laced, vicious, dead-pan hero, Judge Dredd. Granted, Urban isn’t doing anything other than killing people, making serious one-liners, and talking with the same growl that Clint Eastwood had back in his glory days, but he owns it and makes this character a pretty kick-ass one that makes you know when he shows up, shit’s going to get fucked up for sure. It also helps that the costume is really, really cool.

Olivia Thirlby seemed like a strange choice to have in an action film, but she actually does a good job with it because I think that is her whole act here. She isn’t a sadistic and violent mofo like Dredd, instead, she’s a lot more compassionate towards her victims and likes to think about what’s right and what’s wrong with certain people and situations, which causes her and Dredd to actually create a cool chemistry. It was also cool to see this action flick have a chick as the villain here and Lena Headey does a marvelous job at playing the villain, a drug-lord named Ma-Ma, who is just as sadistic and violent as Dredd but instead, is on the opposite side of the law. Headey is good here because she doesn’t over-play the role and is a lot more subtle with it, using her scarred-look to convey some sick and evil ideas that could possibly be on her mind. Nothing spectacular, but at least it wasn’t over-the-top crazy like I was expecting from her, no offense ladies. Also, it was great to see Wood Harris have some juicy screen-time as one of Ma-Ma’s right-hand man that seems to be having a lot of fun with this material, as well. Been awhile since I’ve seen that guy in a prominent role and I’m glad to see him in one here.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t fully satisfy in terms of action, Dredd 3D is still a fun, bloody, and R-rated piece of entertainment that benefits from a gritty look and good performances from a strange, but well-cast group of stars.


The Bank Job (2008)

Guy Ritchie is such a wimp. He makes heist movies about fake crimes. Who does that?!?

A car dealer with a dodgy past and new family, Terry (Jason Statham) has always avoided major-league scams. But when Martine (Saffron Burrows), a beautiful model from his old neighbourhood, offers him a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London’s Baker Street, Terry recognizes the opportunity of a lifetime.

I don’t know why I like crime movies so much, especially ones that are about a bunch of cons pulling off a heist. I think it has something to do with the fact that I’m such a wimp and couldn’t really do what most of these characters in these films do or that I just like to watch what would happen if some sort of heist went down, but either way, I enjoy these types of movies. Which is why I enjoyed this one.

The film itself, moves at a pretty nice pace where we get to know these characters, what they’re going to do for this heist, why they’re going to do what they’re setting out to do with it, and just exactly what may or may not happen once a heist is complete. It was pretty cool to see all of these crooks map out a certain plan of what they’re going to do and what was a lot different from the regular “heist” we see in all of these certain movies is that this particular heist has about 12 subplots connected to it, but I never once got confused with what was going on. Yeah, the accents were a little hard to understand at first but after awhile I just got so tired of them so I decided to turn on the subtitles, and woolah! I could understand everything these characters were saying. The beauties of having a DVD with you. Notice how I said the word, “DVD”.

As for the heist and story itself, it’s pretty fun as it continues to develop more and more since the heist happens within the first hour and then we have the insane after-math of it all too. To be honest, there were actually some real tense moments here that worked and made me feel like this story could go anywhere, whereas as sometimes, it actually did. Definitely a good sign when you have a heist flick that can be pretty unpredictable.

The film states that it’s “based on a true story” but the problem with that statement, is that it still can’t help the film in being another generic, heist flick. Yes, it’s a fun movie but I never really felt like much was at stake here nor did I think that any main character was going to go down in flames or be sleeping with the fishes by the end of all this. I know I did state in that last paragraph that the story did get unpredictable at times, but all of the other times, I felt like I knew what to expect next and thus, the surprise factor was sort of lost for me. Doesn’t matter how true of a story it is, if it’s generic, it’s generic.

Director Roger Donaldson does do a nice job here with giving this flick a very cool and hip 70’s look that hearkens way back to the days of such gangster classics like Get Carter or The Italian Job, but there isn’t much flair or color to this, other than a couple of funny moments. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of fun to be had here but it lacks the frenetic energy and originality to it all like a Guy Ritchie gangster flick. I know that Guy Ritchie may not be the definitive director for such gangster flicks, but I think he brings a lot more to them than people expect and that’s what I kind of wish Donaldson went with.

Whenever people see this poster and see the headliner is Jason Statham, they automatically think it’s going to be some insane action flick like Crank where he just goes around, killing people left-and-right. However, his character isn’t really like that here and he actually builds up a very nice-guy character that makes us feel a lot more for him, so when his life actually does get put into danger, we can feel worried and scared for him. He’s basically just a scared old bloke, who’s looking for the score of a lifetime and he has hope, which makes him feel a lot more realistic than any other character he’s ever played before. Not a spell-binding performance by any means, but it’s one that makes us realize that this guy can do a lot more outside of just smashing skulls and shooting guns.

Let’s also not forget to mention the always stunning Saffron Burrows. Nope, she’s nothing all that special here either but she is still perfect eye candy and that’s all that matters. Rawr!

Consensus: The Bank Job is as generic as they come, but is still a perfect time-burner, with an interesting story, believable plot twists, and characters that we actually care about and want to live on past this heist.


Reign Over Me (2007)

At least it’s better than Sandler dressing in drag.

Former university room-mates Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) and Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) meet up again by chance on a Manhattan street corner. Five years after losing his family in the 11 September 2001 attack on New York City, Charlie – once a successful dentist – has retreated from his life, and Alan is stunned to see the changes in his formerly gregarious friend.

9/11 dramas are ones that can be pretty hard to make, mainly because people out there are still very sensitive to the subject. Yes, 11 years later, people are still not ready to be reminded of that disastrous day and it’s films like this that remind us just how terrible it was for everybody. Even somebody like Billy Madison.

I could totally tell what Mike Binder was trying to do with this flick, and for some of it, it worked. This almost seems like a “buddy drama” of sorts because it focuses on Charlie and Alan’s relationship throughout most of the film and it serves as the heart in the middle of it all. You see how certain people deal with loss and grief in different ways: some try to act like it never happened by avoiding everything that has to deal with their loss, while others just still have it on their minds 24/7 and barely find any comfort from it. It’s definitely something that seems very true and the way Binder touches on it, with delicate care and respect for most of the people out there, who have all had to deal with something as painful as this.

Another aspect of this flick that I also liked was the huge use of music for this movie, as it seemed like they were used in a way that was more believable, rather than just trying to throw classic rock songs at us every 5 seconds so we’ll go home and search ’em up on YouTube. As you can tell, The Who is definitely in this film but there are also other key tracks from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Pretenders, and of course, Pearl Jam who actually do a cover of the song that this movie is named after. Maybe it’s not as awesome as I’ve made it sound but it’s still some clutch music, used for some very clutch moments.

However, there are definitely a lot of glaring problems here that really bummed me out considering just how well this film was doing for the first hour or so. One of the problems was that I think Binder lost a lot of focus with what the main story here was. The relationship between the two main characters is obviously the main focal point of this flick, but the has way too many side stories going on here, that it distracts us from what is mainly going on here. For example, there is a whole subplot concerning Alan and a patient of his that keeps on trying to give him a blowy. This story took up so much time here, that even when it was finally revealed as to why she was being the way she was with him, that I just knew why they brought her character here and what they’re going to do with her next. That’s not the only story here that distracts, but it’s one of the main ones that seem to take us away from our story at hand: these two dudes’ friendship, and the one dude going through some real, heavy shit.

Even when the film did focus on its main plot, a lot of it starts to get very repetitive as it goes along. Every time the films would focus on Charlie, we would see him just being a nut and trying his damn near hardest to avoid any single question or type of conversation that would relate to his family or 9/11. It happened once or twice, which was fine, but then they just started to really hammer away on that and it almost felt like we were the ones getting the therapy here. This bothered me to high heavens and it also took a lot away from the film considering this should have been so much more emotional than it actually was. Still, at least it wasn’t as manipulating as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Now that’s a shit storm right there people.

The main set-up for this film, basically was to show us Adam Sandler‘s return into dramatic territory and for the most part, it’s a pretty good performance if a bit, disappointing. Sandler does a great job of keeping his character very warm, fuzzy, and also very weird but never a character that you feel like is a bad person, just a very hurt one to say the least. Sandler doesn’t ham it up with this performance and is a lot more subtle and it works very well, especially when it comes to the scene where he talks about what went down with his family and how he felt. I don’t want to say that it made me tear up but it was definitely an emotional scene, and one that Sandler performed very well.

However, there is also a bad side to this performance as well. Sandler is good with the dramatic stuff as well as some of the comedic stuff that Binder throws in here, but a lot of the scenes where he flips out and shows his anger, seem very out-of-place but it has nothing to do with the writing or direction, it’s mostly Sandler’s voice. Sounds weird, right? Well Sandler’s voice here, whenever he freaks out, is pretty much the same goofy voice he uses for such characters in The Waterboy and Billy Madison and considering none of those scenes are trying to be comedic at all, it’s confusing and a little bit distracting. Maybe that’s why it was so good for him to be silent in Punch-Drunk Love, because we couldn’t hear him utter the word “Borophyll”.

However, as much as the film revolves around Charlie, it’s actually supposed to be more about Alan, played by Don Cheadle. Cheadle, as always, is great and does everything that he can with this performance but the film strides so far away from his character, that in the end when it seems like they want it to be all about him, some of it comes off as fake and underused. Still, Cheadle does what he can and that’s really all that matters.

Consensus: Reign Over Me boasts strong performances and keeps its heart in the right place, but sort of loses focus and take our minds away from what the film is essentially trying to talk and be about.


A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

And I thought people in my family were crazy.

The film takes a look at a married couple with Nick, played by Peter Falk, while well-meaning, is too gruff and authoritarian for his own good, while his wife Mabel (Gena Rowlands) is highly sensitive, expressive, and emotionally volatile. Or is the word unstable?

Now, for the most part, I’ve never been declared mentally ill, nor have I ever had to live with a person that was mentally either but I can only imagine what kind of hell it is after seeing something like this. I mean everybody’s a little crazy, but this chick is actually crazy.

Writer/director John Cassavetes is a dude, get ready for it, that I have never seen a movie before and this marks my first viewing of his. It’s crazy (pun-intended), I know but I can easily say that this guy really does know how to a film a regular story, in no special way, and make it compelling the whole way through. There isn’t much of a plot/plot structure here but it pretty much leans on Cassavetes dropping us right into the middle of an insane family crisis happening right in front of our eyes. Minute-by-minute, they are falling apart and everything starts to get more and more wild as the day goes by, and it’s filmed in no special kind of way which is what I liked most about this flick.

Since a lot of this movie revolves around these two and their crumbling relationship, the film is pretty much up-in-their-faces the whole time and makes it seem like this is actually happening with no special flair or beauty to it. It’s just straight-up ugly, just the way real life is. God, how amazingly simple indie flicks used to be without trying to be “too indie”.

The other reason that most of this feels very realistic is because the dialogue here, doesn’t even feel like it was written by anybody. It seems like it was just came up with on the spot with these actors, and rather than rehearsing what they were going to say or do next, it seems like they just got out there and went with whatever was on their mind next and went with it. This brings the story to some very uncomfortable and unpredictable places as time goes on and it gets harder and harder to watch even though you know it’s only a flick. I’m sure that there probably was an amazing script underneath everything here, but it almost felt like it was non-existant and that’s something that Cassavetes and his cast pull off very, very well.

My main problem with this flick was that I think the story gets a little too barbaric at times. Without giving too much away, the story starts to get more and more depressing where we see Nick have to take over the family himself and it shows that he obviously can’t hold the family up as much as his wife could. I didn’t mind this part because I thought it was a great look at sexual politics and how a male and a female both work differently when it comes to raising children, but Nick starts to get a little too crazy for my liking and I started to think that maybe this dude should have gotten his ass kicked at one point. The guy has obvious stress from the fact that his wife is a craving lunatic, but he really gets crazy and it’s almost to the point of where I wonder why somebody didn’t do something an why somebody didn’t just hold him down and tell his ass to relax. Somebody who hasn’t seen this movie probably will have no damn clue what it is that I’m talking about but if you have seen the movie, you may know what I’m talking about. I know it’s supposed to show how stress can affect a certain someone, but it bothered me that all of the people around him didn’t really do much to him and did more to his crazy wife.

Regardless of how I felt about his character, Peter Falk was still pretty damn good as Nick, the mentally sound husband who may not be as normal as people may think. This guy has obvious stress from marrying such a loon and you can see all of the stress coming right out of this guy’s eyes. He has to practically watch his wife, someone he has known and love for so long, pratically become a stranger to him and fall apart as the seconds go by. It’s a very rough and tough role for somebody to play, but Falk pulls it off very well and I’m surprised to see that he didn’t get any type of nomination for this performance.

However, as good as Falk is, he still doesn’t hold a candle to Gena Rowlands, playing his crazy wife. I haven’t really seen Rowlands in much other than her bit performance in The Notebook (good performance there, too), and watching something like this, makes me wonder just why the hell I haven’t seen her in much else. This is probably some of the best acting I have ever seen and she absoloutely nails what it’s like to be crazy, wild, and not-all-that-there in the head, but also be somebody who isn’t a bad person or bad mother by any stretch. She’s just a chick that’s very effed up in the head, and Rowlands plays this perfectly from start-to-finish. I don’t know if I’m getting much emotion out here through text, but you really have to see what Rowlands does with this performance because she can do mentally ill, better than most people that are actually declared “mentally ill”. The best thing too, is that she doesn’t feel like she’s hamming it up or over-acting in the least bit, she seems like a genuine person that really wants to do right, but her mind takes her somewhere else and it’s very sad to see.

Consensus: A Woman Under the Influence is pretty much a standard story that’s done perfectly with writing that feels natural, a direction that makes you feel like you’re watching a real life story play out right in front of your own eyes, and the two performances from Falk and Rowlands, that are as heartbreaking as they come people.


Arbitrage (2012)

Billionaires are never fully satisfied.

Robert Miller (Richard Gere), is a troubled hedge fund magnate who is forced to turn to an unlikely person (Nate Parker) for help after a crucial mistake involving a sale in his trading empire.

I’ve been hearing a whole lot of buzz about this movie for one thing: Richard Gere. Now for all of you DTMMR lovers out there (and there better plenty of them dammit!), you have to already know that even though Gere is a fellow Philadelphian, he is still one of my least favorite actors. That’s sort of why I wasn’t really looking forward to this one but you know what, it’s not so bad sometimes giving an actor that you hate a chance. Still not yet sold on you yet though, Harrison Ford.

This is the directorial debut of writer/director Nicholas Jarecki and the guy does a pretty solid job with his material. This isn’t your typical thriller where it’s constant car-chases and quick-cuts to allow there to be tension and excitement, it’s more about the pacing and how Jarecki takes his time with everything and doesn’t let it get too crazy for his own good. There’s just something about this whole story of lust, greed, and money that just seems so current in today’s world and how it plays out in this flick and it makes for a fun, but very grim watch. It doesn’t get as dark as you may think, but it at least flirts with that idea quite a few times and that’s the strength of Jarecki’s direction.

The problem that I think Jarecki runs into with this flick is that it is essentially two movies in one, with only one of them actually being good. The first movie is about how this billionaire gets himself all caught-up in a financial crisis that he seem to get out of, and the other movie is about the death of his mistress and how that effects everything and everyone around him. The latter story is the one I was most interested by as I found it really made the suspense and mystery flow within the film. Seeing all of these other reviews, I know I’m sort of alone in that boat but there was just something there that intrigued me and kept me watching.

Problem with that is, is that when Jarecki would go right into the whole financial crisis this guy was going through, I didn’t really seem to care. Not just because this guy is a dick but it’s something about people spouting out numbers and stocks that just doesn’t do it for me quite as much as an interrogation does. This makes the film a bit uneven in the way it transitions from one plot, to another and it just gets a bit annoying after awhile and sort of kills all of the tension and excitement that the one story had going for itself in the first-place. Maybe Jarecki got some directorial jitters where he felt the need to pack all of this stuff in just to make it exciting and entertaining, but ended up making something that was a bit too ambitious for his own good. Not saying it was a terrible decision on his part, but it definitely wasn’t the right one, either.

Now believe it or not, and I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but I think it’s Richard Gere himself who makes this film a bit more watchable than I expected. I don’t want to go out there and say that Gere gives the performance of his career here as Miller, because I don’t really think he does anything different other than be pretty mean to everyone around him, but he does give a very good performance that makes this reprehensible guy seem a bit more human than I expected at first. He’s not a total Gordan Gekko as he just gets money, gets the babes, and gets more greedy, he’s just another rich dude that has a lot of respect to his name, and doesn’t want to lose that because of a couple of dumb-ass decisions he’s made and tried to get away with. Gere is good in this role because he sort of humanizes Miller and gives him an older-edge that makes him feel more realistic. As for all of the Oscar talk, I don’t think so. Honestly, I’am willing to throw down my hatred for somebody if they give an all-out, perfect performance, but Gere didn’t really blow me away here and I think if he ends up getting nominated for anything, it will most likely be because he’s never been nominated before and the Academy feels a bit guilty. No offense to the poor guy, but it’s sort of the truth.

Gere is also backed-up by a great supporting cast that all give their two cents into the whole, final product. Susan Sarandon comes out of nowhere as his wife that seems like she has no clue what’s going on behind closed doors, but a couple of scenes by the end proves otherwise and shows you that this chick doesn’t take any shit because she know’s what’s up. It’s a shame that Sarandon doesn’t get more screen-time here, but she takes advantage of what she’s given and that’s all that mattered to me. Brit Marling was okay as his daughter, but could have been a bit stronger in the way she carried herself, especially when things started to go South for her and her daddy. I was also very surprised to see Tim Roth here as Det. Michael Bryer, because it’s been quite some time but he still shows that he’s got it. There’s a little sense that the guy is a bit of a dirty cop, but after awhile, you do realize that he’s just another detective trying to do his job and trying to get the bad-guys, for doing the bad things. The one performance that really stood-out above the rest for me was Nate Parker as I think he made his random character, somebody we can actually sympathize with and stand behind as he seems like the only one who actually has a conscience. The guy definitely holds his own against heavy-weights like Roth and Gere, but when it’s just him doing his own thing, he’s very, very good and shows that he can try and make us all forget about Red Tails. “Try” being the key-word.

Consensus: Arbitrage is essentially two movies all slapped into one which may prove to be a bit uneven for the whole flick, but still features some great performances from the cast and a nice sense of tension that lies underneath the whole time.


Office Space (1999)

Life in a cubicle.

Overwhelmed by stress on the job, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) goes in for therapy and comes out with a life-changing career philosophy: work sucks. Eager to begin a new life of unemployment, he decides to spend more time with his sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) and less time at he office.

Everybody, at one time or another, has hated getting up early, getting stuck in traffic, and going to work where they stay from 9 to 5. It’s all so monotonous and pretty much anybody who has ever worked a day in their life can say that they can easily relate to a premise like this, and I can as well even though I’m not much of a big worker. Thank God for that!

Writer/director Mike Judge is a dude that can be very funny mainly because of how he is able to make a satire about regular, every-day life and this time chooses something we all know a lot about: work. The satire here is that this company, Initech, are pretty much a joke in and of themselves. For anybody that has ever worked a job, whether you were in a cubicle or not, you can still probably go “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about bitch!” when Peter starts to over-sleep and miss work or when him and his pals go out to destroy the officer copier. Regardless of what sort of jobs you have done in your life, shitty or non-shitty, it’s still something that everybody can relate to and laugh at.

A lot of this film is very, very quotable and funny without even really being lewd or raunchy. So many comedies in today’s world are pretty much based on how funny they can place the word “fuck” in thier lines, but here, it’s all about Judge’s writing and how he is pretty much able to make painful observations on life. Everything you would expect a job like this to be, it exactly that: hell. Very simple piece of comedy with a couple of running gags here and there, and a nice feel of satire to make you realize that work really does suck. Then that’s when you wake up and realize that yeah, it does suck but it’s what pays the bills so I’m gonna go anyway. Sucks to say but true.

Problem is with a lot of this flick is that as funny and biting as its satire may be, something happens to it in the middle where we lost a lot of what really had me going for the first couple of acts. When Peter was walking into work late and not really giving a shit about anything and telling his higher-ups that, I thought it was awesome because it’s something we would all love to do but have no balls to do so. However, there’s a middle patch where the flick starts to show Peter in a rut, where he may be getting put in jail and we see this film go into more of a farce rather than a satire. Sometimes, farces aren’t so bad but here, it was sort of a disappointment considering everything else was working so well.

That was a strange problem I had with the flick, as well as noticing that a lot of the laughs weren’t really coming up all that much, probably because they start to focus on the plot. The plot isn’t so terrible, but it starts to get really thin and rather than focusing on the stuff that mostly worked and made me laugh, like all of the office scenarios and incidents, they try to go with this semi-crime caper of a movie that doesn’t really keep you interested or laughing. However, you got to give a lot of love to Judge for actually pulling something off like this and being one of the first people to do it too.

Ron Livingston lives it up here as Peter and basically gives this guy the cool, laid-back persona where you know that if you were to see this guy on the street, you would give him a huge high-five just for being so cool; Gary Cole is pretty much awesome as everybody’s worst nightmare of a boss, Lumbergh; David Herman is funny as hell as Michael Bolton, no not that one but trust me, they do bring it up enough times here; Jennifer Aniston is great in a very young role from her as Peter’s lovey-dovey girlfriend, Joanna; and how could I ever forget the hilarious Stephen Root as Milton, aka a dude who should have been and should still be the spokesperson for Swingline staplers because honestly, imagine how much business that would do for them. It’s great to see a cast with a bunch of unknowns that can all do awesome in their own roles, but now they pretty much can’t escape the roles they all play here, with the exception of Aniston of course. May not be the worst thing in the world really, but then again, it would get old real quick if people were just coming up to you saying “Aren’t you that dude from Office Space?”.

Consensus: Office Space may not have the best plot out there, but it still a comedy that works mainly because of its satire of middle-class, blue-collar America with hilarious one-liners, and pitch-perfect observations from the master, Mike Judge. Definitely gets better if you have ever worked a job in your life too.


The Master (2012)

Move over Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise officially has a new arch-enemy.

A charismatic intellectual named Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) launches a religious organization following World War II. A drifter named Freddie Quell  (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes his right-hand man, but as the faith begins to gain a fervent following, the drifter finds himself questioning the belief system and his mentor.

Whether you’re a Scientologist and have been waiting to protest outside of every movie theater across the nation, have been waiting to see the return of “normal” Joaquin Phoenix, or have been waiting to see what writer/director P.T. Anderson has kept himself busy with over the past 5 years, chances are, you’ve been pretty amped for this flick, as well as I have been. I mean hell, I reviewed two movies, from the same director, for the past two days! I rarely do that, and I was definitely willing to make an exception for this guy just because he once again, proves that he is one of the best directors we have working in America today. Without a doubt.

One thing that could be said about this tale (but not taken away from, however) is that a lot of it plays out in the same vein as There Will Be Blood. Don’t believe me? Okay, well think about this: instead of oil, you have religion; instead of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, you have religion-starter Lancaster Dodd; instead of the loose-cannon Eli, you have the loose-cannon Freddie; and instead of the relationship between Daniel and Eli being at the fore-front, you have the relationship between Freddie and Lancaster. The only difference here is that Freddie and Lancaster actually seem to get along with one another, rather than drinking each other’s milkshakes. But I digress.

Whatever way you want to look at this film, you cannot deny the artful skill and compelling nature that lies behind every frame of this movie that Anderson beautifully constructs. From a technical standpoint, this film honestly could not be any better as certain scenes will just have you forgetting about what’s going on screen by how beautiful and wonderful they look. Anderson captures the look and feel of the 50’s as if he actually took a DeLorean back to those days, along with his film crew, and just started filming right on the spot. The long landscape shots that Anderson captures are even more beautiful and breathtaking as the ones he took in There Will Be Blood and I highly suggest you see it in the 70MM way it was meant to be seen in. I would like to complain and say that it was almost distracting how wonderful this film looked sometimes because it really does take your eyes off the action at-hand, but I can’t diss art and that’s exactly what Anderson has painted here.

Then of course, you got the score from Johnny Greenwood that uses the same exact trifling with sounds as he used in There Will Be Blood, but this time almost plays out a bit differently as Anderson gets back into the grand scheme of things by allowing pop-music to ironically poke it’s head into some key scenes that will probably fit any type of emotion Anderson was going for in the first place. No, there’s no Sister Christian or Aimee Mann songs to jam out too, but still some nice quality tunes that shows Anderson is the perfect guy for when it comes to meshing music with scenes.

One of the biggest buzzes surrounding this flick is whether or not this is Anderson’s take on the early days of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. There are a whole bunch of similarities between “The Cause” and Scientology, but Anderson never seems like he feels the need to go so far and just openly describes what it is and that was a pretty brave step coming from Anderson as he could have taken as many cheap-shots as he wanted to with this subject material. However, this does give him plenty of room and opportunity to talk about religion and whether or not this “Cause” is actually good for any of the people that follow it. You can tell that these people love being able to believe in something that makes them feel like they live in a beautiful and wondrous world, but at the bottom of it all though is the fact that some of this may just be all based on a bunch of lies. But still, even though this seems like an area that Anderson can get into and almost badger the hell out of, he smartly doesn’t and allow the viewers to make up their own interpretations about whether or not this religion is the right one to follow. Once again, another brave move by Anderson and shows you why he is in fact, one of the smartest-working writers and directors on the planet. That’s right, ON THE PLANET.

But as much as this film may seem to be about this underground religion and all of the effects it has on its people, this film is really all about the relationship between the two main characters: Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd. Both are very, very different from one another as one is the leader of a smooth-talking, happy-all-the-time “religion”, and the other one is just a drifter who can never seem to control his anger, or his drinking for that matter. This contrast between the two characters is probably one of the most interesting and entertaining aspects of this whole flick because we see them both work wonders for each other in ways that we thought weren’t even imaginable from the first meeting the two. They actually care for each other and both want what’s best for them, even if they don’t fully make it work every single time they try. One scene that comes to my mind the best when I think of the relationship between the two is when Dodd actually tells the cops to not hurt Freddie, even after he continues to beat the ever loving crap out of them all. It’s one of the most memorable scenes in the whole film not because it’s a turning-point for the whole direction in where the story was headed, but because it shows you the depths of the relationship these two have together.

What I think makes the relationship between them both the most memorable, is the fact that they are played so brilliantly by its two leads: Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was so damn happy to see Joaquin back in full-on acting mode because it’s performances like these that make me realize the type of talent this guy has that shouldn’t be wasted on a faux-rap career. Phoenix is mesmerizing as Freddie Quell because he brings all of that vent-up frustration and strangeness that he had with his “character” in I’m Still Here, and let’s that play-out in a way that’s as memorable as it is compelling. You can tell that this guy is going to flip any chance he gets the chance to and it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t have the best conscience out there, either. However, there are a couple of key scenes that show Freddie in a very sympathetic light that may have you understand why this guy is always so off his rocker. He comes off as a fully-realized character that has plenty of sides to him and you honestly can’t take your eyes off of. This performance is nowhere near the type of actor’s play-day performance Daniel Day-Lewis had with Plainview, but it’s still something that’s worth loving and remembering come Oscar time.

Then, you got Hoffman playing the type of Plainview-like character as Lancaster Dodd, a character that couldn’t have honestly been played by anybody else except for Hoffman. Hoffman does a great job with Dodd because he plays the character, like a guy that has so much charisma, so much heart, and so much warmth to him that it makes you realize why everybody feels so close to him that they could follow him and every word he speaks out. He’s almost reminiscent of Orson Welles in a way of how he’s all tight-lipped with his speeches and rarely ever loses his cool, but when he does, it’s one of the more memorable scenes since we see this character slowly start to unravel right in front of our eyes. It’s not like this character is treated like an evil piece of crap that nobody should care for, but is instead shown off to be a guy that believes in his own way of life and wants to spread that across to everybody else. Yeah, that could be viewed at as a bad thing but the film never quite portrays it as that and it’s another brave step Anderson was not only able to take with this story, but this character that Hoffman has also fully-realized in his own charismatic way.

Some may be surprised to see that Amy Adams doesn’t have a bigger role here as Dodd’s wife, Peggy, but does a nice job giving her character a very dark turn that I wasn’t expecting in the least bit. Still, out of the other two, she sort of comes off as the weakest-link and could have used a bigger and better role to be more substantial to everything that’s going on and the plot itself. Everybody else is good here too, and I like how Anderson made every character in this cast worth something and have their own moment, even if it may only be for a second or two.

So, here I am, going on and on and on about this flick and how amazing it is and you are probably sitting there wondering, “Oh em gee! Is he going to give it the prized 10/10 I haven’t seen in God knows how long??!?!”. Well, no. Sorry to burst your bubble everyone but this film did still have some problems in its own right and it’s that I think the emotional connection for this film was a bit more off this time around, probably due to the fact that the story is always weaving around and whatnot. With Daniel Plainview, it was easier to follow this character and know him for all that he was because it mostly just about him doing his own, evil thing, but here, the story goes back-and-forth between Freddie and Lancaster so much that it was a bit hard to build-up the tears when that ending came around. Also, there was this really strange scene that had to do with Amy Adams, Hoffman, and a bathroom that is still fresh in my mind because it made no sense and seems to be a bit misplaced in a film that seemed to really go for it all, in terms of being sane and keeping itself in reality. Still though, minor quibbles if you ask me.

Consensus: The Master could easily be a title that director P.T. Anderson is giving himself, because that is exactly what this guy is. Everything from the visuals, to the landscapes, to the score, to the performances, to the fully-developed story, to the religion movement; all are done with the masterful craft of Anderson and is sure to be one of the films to watch out for, come Oscar season.

9/10=Full Price!!

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Billy Madison finally grew up, and got really, really awkward.

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), who owns a failing company, becomes obsessed with collecting pudding coupons that offer frequent flyer miles. When he learns that a woman (Emily Watson) he met by chance and can’t stop thinking about has left for vacation in Hawaii, he uses his coupons to buy a trip and find her.

Everybody who has ever seen any of P.T. Anderson‘s flicks know two things about him: 1. he likes his films very, very long, and 2. he can make anything work. Even though he kind of disregards #1, he gets #2 down perfectly.

I have probably seen this flick about 4 times and just about every time it gets better and better with each viewing. So many people complain about how it’s not as funny as it should be and how it’s just a weird movie, which it’s supposed to be…maybe. Anderson is a director amongst directors. He essentially takes a very odd story, about an odd man, and brings it into some pretty strange places that include a phone-sex operator, frequent flyer miles, pudding, a piano, and a bed & mattress owner. Yeah, if that sounds pretty strange don’t worry, because it is and I wouldn’t have had it any other way with this one. Anderson knows that this film is goofy but he never lets loose of his direction and as much as he allows all of this weird stuff to happen, he still gives a lot of time to this romance at the core of it all and that’s what really brought me over.

The romance is so sweet and innocence that when you have all of this crazy ish, with people yelling and cussin’ at each other, it sort of makes you want to beat everybody else up that tries to get in the way of it. You can definitely feel a lot of love coming from this little thing these two have going on here but there are so many other emotions going on through here as well, that it’s almost too hard to be fixated on one. People that say this film isn’t funny really need to see this flick again because it’s all of the small, subtle things are what makes it funny. The perfect example is when one of Barry’s employees ask him why he’s wearing a suit to work, and Barry tells him, “I don’t know, I just wanted to get dressed up for work”. Makes no sense, but who cares. However, the next day Barry is at work, you see that same employee wearing a suit with a tie and it just made me laugh my ass off. Maybe that’s not a perfect example as to how and why this flick is so damn funny in it’s little way, but it’s certain things like that for you to pick up on that make movies like this so damn special.

As great as this story may be though, you still can’t forget about this flick without forgetting to mention Anderson’s incredible vision, that makes everything just look like it came from a painting. Seriously, I know a lot of people say that about certain movies in certain reviews, but I mean that here: sometimes this film looks like a painting. There’s a lot of wonderful color art sequences that come around every once and awhile that are astonishing to check out, but the way Anderson gives the camera this very dark look gives this film a distinct look that I haven’t seen before. I really can’t put my fingers on what it is but the way this camera looks with a hint of darkness to bring down all of the color, gives this film a tone. I think I’m just speaking a whole bunch of jibber-jabber, but it’s a beautiful film the whole time, especially a couple of great romantic sequences that get you right into the feeling that you’re in love with these two people as well.

If I had any c0mplaints here, it was that I think that Barry’s sisters were a little too mean for me to believe. I understand that there are sisters and brothers of certain people out there that are very mean but I also can’t understand some relatives like these ones, treating another relative in such a terrible, and bratty way, especially when they know that the person has some emotional problems. It seemed like a lot of it was to go along with the ridiculous plot but it just felt like it was trying way too hard to get me inside of Barry’s head and feel the pain he feels because in all honesty, the character of Barry Egan is an amazing one as it is.

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again: Barry Egan is Adam Sandler‘s best performance ever. There! I said it people! Sandler pulls out everything within him to make this character work and it’s the one performance that’s made us all realize that this guy can do drama, and make some of the weirdest characters work, no matter how painfully awkward they are. Barry Egan is such a strong character as it is because the dude is a nice, but lonely dude who just wants to be appreciated and treated nicely by the people around him. However, his sisters are all terrible bitches to him, he can’t seem to get a date with any girl, and he’s getting effed over by these phone-sex line people that just want all of his money. This guy has a lot of sympathy already going for him but Sandler takes him up a couple of notches. Sandler shows us a very subtle side to his acting but also shows that he can still make you still crack up, even if he isn’t doing any goofy faces or noises. Instead, the guy just relies on his very dry and awkward sense of comedy that shows a character that really can’t fit it anywhere he goes and you just can’t stop rooting for him the whole flick. It also gets better when Egan starts to show signs of a real bad-ass but I’ll leave it at that, because it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed. I don’t know if this last paragraph does Sandler’s performance any justice but all I can say is that it’s a memorable performance and the best Sandler has, and maybe will ever do.

Emily Watson wasn’t really given all that much to do here as Lena Leonard, but she pulls off being cute, charming, nice, sweet, and convincing very well and it’s easy to see why she would fall in love with such a wacko like Barry Egan. Let me also not forget to mention that the chemistry her and Sandler have is actually pretty good, if you can believe that. I also can’t forget to mention this flick without talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of the dickheads that eff with Egan from the phone-sex line and a lot of his scenes are just perfect, especially by the end. Oh and Luiz Guzman is here. Can’t forget about him.

Consensus: Though it’s not for everyone, Punch-Drunk Love is one of the best romantic films of all-time with a strange story that gets stranger and stranger as it goes along, a vision from Anderson that shows he can make any style of film-making work with any story, and a couple of great performances from the cast, especially Adam Sandler who has never been better. Ever.

9/10=Full Price!!

There Will Be Blood (2007)

The whole point behind this whole film: drinking milkshakes.

This tells the story of an oilman, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), who goes into a small town to drill for oil. But, a local preacher, Eli (Paul Dano), tries to get a piece of his profits to expand his church, and Daniel doesn’t like that one bit and that’s what causes a whole bunch of problems between the two characters.

With The Master coming up closer and closer by the seconds that pass us by, I thought it would be a great idea to check-up on how P.T. Anderson‘s last flick still does after it shook up the whole, wide world 5 years ago. Needless to say, it still kicks some oil-loving ass.

The most notable element that stands behind Anderson and his skills as a director is how he is able to make anything look very beautiful, but also very dark and Gothic in it’s own weird way. The cinematography for this flick is beautiful as we get to see a lot of the long, wide landscapes that always find themselves, hidden somewhere in the background and give you a better idea that you are in fact watching a story that’s taking place during the early days of the “oil boom”. There’s a lot to gaze at here and there are plenty of memorable shots where Anderson just keeps the camera on one piece of action and never seems to move and it creates more and more tension as it goes along. But as beautiful as this film may be, there’s also plenty of darkness in it as well, mainly coming from the story.

One of the key elements behind this story that makes it work is just how progressively dark and strange things begin to get for everybody in this story. There is never a single moment in this flick where you feel like anything good is going to happen to these characters, which does make this seem like a bit of a downer in hindsight, but for some reason you never stop watching. Scene after scene is just as memorable as the last one as Anderson has a knack for making even the slightest bit of dialogue show just who a character really is and what their real motivations are underneath it all. It’s strange that a guy like this can do something so dark and depressing as this, but still have the chance to turn out a zany, wacky rom-com like Punch-Drunk Love, a flick that he did 5 years before this one but it also shows just how versatile of a writer/director this guy can be.

But without even going any further about this flick, I have to say that this also features one of the most epic and bizarre scores that I have ever heard before in my life. You would never, ever think that the words “Daniel Day-Lewis”, “Western”, and “Radiohead” would go in the same sentence, but somehow, someway, Anderson found a way to get them altogether and it makes a perfect match that seemed very weird to have in the first place. Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead, did this score all by himself and it’s very well-calculated in the ways that he makes certain types of noises fit in so well with whatever is going on on-screen. There’s always a great deal of tension and darkness in this film, and Greenwood’s score conveys that with a weird collision of strings and percussion that just add more to the dark and manic tone of the whole flick. One scene in particular, is when Plainview runs after a well of his that just burst and without any music whatsoever, it would have still been tense the whole way through, but not as tense with the power-heavy beat coming from Greenwood that continues to build and build-up until almost all hell breaks loose. It’s one of those rare scenes where everything just comes together so perfectly into one film and it’s one that should probably be played up to the highest level of volume you can get on your television.

Despite almost everything in this film coming together and gelling so perfectly, there was one problem with this flick that always seemed to get me even when I was going for the whole 10/10 aspect. The story is all about Plainview and how his whole descent into darkness makes him more evil and insane as the days go by but in my opinion, I never understood exactly as to why. We get that the guy doesn’t like people, doesn’t see the good in them, and just wants money so he can get as far away from them as he can, but why? Was there ever a moment in his life when the guy realized that his life was going to be surrounded by people that he hates or was he always just like this and the huge amounts of money he’s been raking in just made him feel it even worse now? I don’t know what it was and quite frankly, I don’t think P.T. did either. I think that this was just a character study about a guy that hated human-beings for no reason, and that was my problem with this flick: I needed the reason. Yeah, that’s right, this film would have been a 10/10 had it not been for this one, itty, bitty problem in the story.

But aside from this strange character foil, you can’t help but walk away satisfied after seeing one of the greatest performances in the past decade, given by one of the best off all-time: Daniel Day-Lewis. Daniel Day has been known to be very selective with his roles, very weird with him about the limits he goes to with staying in method and in character, and to always walk away with an Oscar nomination or Oscar win. All of which is exactly what you get here with his performance as Daniel Plainview as I think it is probably the best he has ever given just by how much he puts into this role. Granted, this character already had a lot to work with when it came to the whole script, but Daniel Day takes that character one-step further in his own way. This guy is one evil son of a bitch that I don’t think does a single nice thing throughout the whole movie (I seriously don’t) but you can never, ever take your eyes off of him just because every scene of Plainview, is just another scene where Daniel Day does something different.

What I mean by something different is that there are these types of facial expressions that he has just to give his character a real feeling that is unlike you have ever seen in this character the whole flick. Essentially, this character could be written off as the usual, one-note, evil asshole that nobody cares to be around but there’s something more behind it all and Daniel Day keeps us watching and waiting for that throughout the whole film. If my whole description about this guy’s performance hasn’t already sold you yet on this perfect performance, than please, stop reading and go out there and watch this freakin’ movie and pay attention to every little thing that Daniel Day does with this character. To the weird limp, to the Jack Palance impersonation, to the open-handed slaps, to the evil looks he gives Eli, and to everything else he ever does in this movie, he does it with the utter grace and perfection that should always be shown off, especially when you’re working with a character such as this. Totally deserved that Oscar win.

Although this is Daniel Day’s show, through and through, Paul Dano doesn’t allow himself to get kicked out of the whole film. In fact, Dano has just as many intense and memorable scenes as Daniel Day, it’s just that every single one is with Daniel Day and it creates some of the best back-and-forth scenes I have seen in a long-ass time. Dano nails the whole crazy aspect that lies behind those certain preachers out there in the West, but he never necessarily over-does it and that’s what really surprised me about this character. Him and Daniel Day work perfectly together as you can tell that right from the start, they never really see eye-to-eye on anything and it’s only a matter of time until one of them finally has enough of it all and decides to break loose. That’s what ultimately leads up to one of the most abrupt, yet satisfying endings that I have seen in the past decade, and is definitely one to stick around for no matter how much the flick’s slow-pace may be pissing you off.

Consensus: There Will Be Blood may not make much sense of it’s story at the end, but will still keep you watching the screen the whole time with it’s out-standing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis (one of his best of all-time, if you can believe that), a strange score from Johnny Greenwood that actually goes along with the subject material very well, and a superb direction from Anderson that captures all of the beauty, and all of the horror that comes along with fame, money, and well, oil.

9/10=Full Price!! 

World Trade Center (2006)

Surprised that I didn’t hear about Lee Harvey Oswald in here at all.

This follows the true story of the heroic survival and rescue of two Port Authority policemen – Sergeant John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Officer William J Jimeno (Michael Pena) – who were trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001, after they went in to help people escape.

Back in 2006, when this was first coming, people had two reservations about it at first: 1. Is 5 years too soon? and 2. What the hell is Oliver Stone going to do with this material? To be honest, these reservations were both very reasonable and understood at the time because people were (and still are) grieving over their lost ones from that fateful day and Stone has always been known to get pretty crazy and paranoid about the topics he covers. But thankfully, nothing ever really goes down the wrong path here. I mean that too, nothing.

The best part about Stone’s direction here is that he doesn’t pull any punches with this touchy story. That means there’s no conspiracy theories about who was behind the Bush administration at the time or who was actually behind the attacks themselves, but instead just gives us a true story of courage and the man’s will to fight for survival no matter what the obstacles may be standing in their way. Sounds like something that is very out of the ordinary for Stone to direct but he doesn’t lose his mind with this material and keeps everything grounded to where this becomes one of those inspirational stories you would expect it to be.

Going into a film about this certain subject, you have to expect your heartstrings to be tugged at a bit and even though they do, it doesn’t feel manipulative. Simply put, this is Stone’s way of showing us how two policeman, fought for their lives just to stay alive, tell the story of it all, and go on back home to their wife and kids. It’s one of those sappy stories that we always see and hear about but it isn’t used in that same context here. It feels real, it feels genuine, and it feels like something that Stone really does rightfully care about and feel for. Weird to think that this is the same dude who was out there showing Mickey and Mallory shooting people’s heads off, would also be one of the first people to pay tribute to the men and women that died on 9/11.

But aside from being very genuine and true to it’s emotions and who it’s trying to give love towards, there’s not much else here that’s really eventful or groundbreaking in terms of story-telling which makes it a bit more tedious in a way. This is a story about real human-beings being in real-life situation/catastrophe, but maybe there should have been more excitement, more tension, more, I don’t know, more suspense as to know what’s going to happen. I wasn’t asking for a fast-paced action movie that took place in New York during 9/11, but I was just waiting for something to really pull me in fully and keep my eyes glued but instead I just found myself and my mind going into other places. I have no idea but it just did and maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t in the most perfect mood to watch this.

The movie looks great with plenty of detail and attention going towards how New York looked like during and after the Towers fell. It was really neat to see how realistic everything looked as you could almost feel the same pandemonium as everybody else did there but there could have been more of that. There was this really cool sequence where Stone gathers real-life footage from people checking out what happened on 9/11 from all over the world and it’s a sequence that shows you the kind of impact this even had on the world, not just our own country. This showed me that Stone maybe played it a little too safe in just focusing on this little story of two men, and could have gone a bit bigger by focusing on the environment surrounding them and how everybody felt during this time but I guess Stone didn’t want to go too far because then he would have had to start bringing out the conspiracy theories, and then things would have gotten bad for this movie.

Oh, another reservation some people may have had about this film beforehand may have also been that Nicolas Cage was in the lead role as Sergeant John McLoughlin, but no need to fear people, he’s actually pretty good here. I think it would be pretty hard for Cage to screw up a role like this, considering he barely moves and just stays underneath a huge piece of rubble the whole film, but the guy does well with it and reminds us that he can still handle roles like these. The one who really gets away with this flick is Michael Peña as Officer William J Jimeno, showing a sweet innocence to him that makes us sympathize with this character even more because all he shows is love and sweetness to everyone around him even before this happened. Both are good and work very well together, as well as everybody else in this cast, but those New York accents got to be a bit too much for me at points. I get it, everybody in this movie is practically from New York or somewhere near there so they have to have an accent but do they really need to be this deep? It get’s distracting at times, but you’ll start to forget about that once you start to see all of the notable faces that Stone has pop-up on the screen. It’s sort of like a really fun game of “Hey, remember me?”.

Consensus: World Trade Center is a rare example of Oliver Stone playing it really, really safe which has it’s positives and negatives, but mostly shows us the true story of two brave Americans that did whatever they could do stay alive in a time and place like New York City during 9/11.


Compliance (2012)

The best anti-fast-food flick in the past decade, ever since Super Size Me.

The film focuses on a mysterious caller (Patrick Healy) who says to be a police officer and convinces the manager of a fast food restaurant (Ann Dowd) that one of her employees (Dreama Walker) committed a crime.

See that poor plot description up there? Doesn’t seem to interesting, does it? Well if there’s anything to spice that whole thang up it’s probably to say that this is all based on a true story. And trust me, that line is no gimmick, this really happened not once, not twice, not three times, hell not even 20 times, over 70 times in 30 other countries. And just when you thought fast-food didn’t get a bad-wrap already.

Writer/director Craig Zobel really kicks some ass with this flick as he starts it all off perfectly, with just the right amount of underlining tension to where we feel like any second now, something bad is going to start happening. You know that going into the flick, so there’s not much of a surprise when some weird things start to happen, but what’s worse is that we never know if or when they are ever going to end. You almost feel like this whole situation has gone from bad to worse in a matter of 10 minutes and it almost seems like nobody, not a single person can stop it. It’s almost like a horror movie in a way to where you feel all trapped and composed to this one dire situation that you can’t get out of, no matter how hard you try and all you have to do there is sit and watch as it all goes down. It’s a dark drama, that plays on it’s thrills as if it was an old-school horror film that shows very little, but still scares the absolute jeebers out of you.

However, calling this flick a piece of horror would be terribly wrong because Zobel has made something that will probably be discussion-worthy, long after the initial first-viewing. Zobel isn’t just showing us how a certain situation went from bad to worse in a period of 4 hours, he’s showing us how humans minds think when they are simply told something. If I told you that I was a military sergeant for my day job and was able to back it up with tons and tons of valuable information, 9 times out of 10 you would probably believe me. I mean here I am, typing all of this down into a review but you don’t know who I am, nor have you ever seen me in real-life so you probably wouldn’t know.

Everything that I just talked about up there is exactly what happens here and what’s even worse is how these people respond to one dude, simply calling in and saying that he’s an officer of the law. What’s bad at first is that these people actually believe this guy in the first-place, but what’s even worse is that some of them actually go along with some of the insane and terrible stuff that he tells them to do just to further on a situation. It goes to show you that anybody, no matter who it may be, will usually take one person’s opinion over the other, once they say that they are a person of great power and dominance and that they are able to back it up with some believable information. Everybody is gullible and that’s fine because that’s just the way human nature is most of the time, so it was no surprise that I was getting so, so damn pissed at half of these people by the stupid stuff they decided to go along with but then again I thought to myself, what would I have done in the same situation? It’s a hard piece to get through one’s head and I think Zobel conveys that perfectly by not only focusing on the situation at-hand, but the psychosis of the people actually involved with it.

The script, by all means, is just about as perfect as you can get it but there seemed to be something lacking in his direction. One of the biggest problems I had with this flick was half-way through the middle when Zobel decided to show “the mysterious caller” off to the audience as we watch him parade around his house, sometimes making a sandwich or just writing weird shit down to remember from the phone calls. I’m of the opinion that what you don’t see, is probably a lot scarier than what you do see so my imagination could have really been running wild if I never saw what this guy looked like, what he was doing, and how he was going about these phone-calls. Just the guy’s voice was creepy enough and I think that’s all we really needed. Sort of like the same thing about Kiefer Sutherland in Phone Booth, but instead, we rarely see that guy in that movie.

Another problem I seemed to have had with this flick was that I feel like Zobel tried too hard to add tension onto some scenes that didn’t really need that extra level of style. A score would sometimes randomly kick in, the camera would cut-away to any of the grueling stuff that takes place, and the film seems to get a bit too jittery at points, especially by the end. If Zobel just relaxed with this material and the way he showed it all off, there would have most likely been just as much tension, if not more, of what there was to originally work with here. Then again, maybe that’s why I’m not a director and I sit on here all day talking shit on these other ones.

Despite these problems, you still can’t get over the performances for this flick as they are as natural as you’re going to get for the longest time from a huge list of unknowns. Dreama Walker has the toughest role in this whole flick and absolutely nails it by displaying plenty of rays of emotion that will make you feel for her character, but also realize the desperation in her character as well. The girl has to do some pretty sick things (without giving too much away) and I think Zobel found the right beauty-queen for it as those eyes just made me feel like I was a watching somebody on the verge of breaking down for good.

The highlight of this whole cast, and probably the whole movie if I dare to go there, is Ann Dowd as the restaurant manager, Sandra. Right from the start, we can see that this character is a complicated one, but also one that we may be able to stick to because of the certain layers she has to her. She seems very sad, as if she always got pushed around her life, but is now having her own time to shine and be the boss, but still wants to be cool with everybody and relate in the only ways she can. It’s sort of depressing to watch for the first 7 minutes or so because you can tell that this gal has a deep sadness to here, but also wants to prove herself right and still be treated by others with love and respect. So, that’s why when she is actually treated and manipulated into feeling like that person, Sandra relishes in it and that’s why Dowd is so great here.

There are so many layers to this character that Dowd is able to explore as we see her be sad, be mad, be glad, be happy, and be upset that she has no effin’ clue as to what the hell is going on. There are so many times where I wanted to punch this character in the face because she can, and does do, some stupid things that aren’t worth praising but you never fully lose interest or faith in Dowd, or her character. You also feel like if you were put in the same situation, you may act just like her in a way and just do what you think is right because of what you think you hear is true. There’s a whole bunch of Oscar-talk going around for Dowd and her work here and I think it’s deserved as the girl proves that she is more than just another character actress, she can own a film just like anyone else and is ready to break-out. If that is still a possibility with her long-lasting career.

Consensus: Though it gets a bit light on the whole tension aspect by the end, Compliance is still a smartly-written and expertly-acted real-life mystery thriller, that feels like it has the rhythm of a horror movie but plays to the beat of an honest, human-drama that shows the way us human-beings think.


Bachelorette (2012)

Yeah, don’t invite you’re real friends to you’re wedding. They’re assholes.

A childhood friend (Rebel Wilson) is getting married, and her three jealous friends (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan) are nothing but pissed about it. So, what better thing to do than party it up with beer, sex, and drugs? Woo-hoo!

When Bridesmaids came out last year, everybody was going around and hailing it as “The Hangover for gals”. In a way, it was sort of true since they did and said some dirty things that you wouldn’t normally see from a bunch of “ladies”, but at the heart of it all, there was a genuine and heartfelt look at the friendship that’s between two females. That made it a lot softer than people imagined so that’s why this film comes around, slaps them in the face, and gives the boys a little run for their money, and their coke as well.

Writer/director Leslye Headland based this off of her play (who the fuck would want to see a play about this?) and gives this whole premise a big deal of honesty that feels somewhat fresh. Rarely do we ever see in a film about three unlikable bitches, be so honest with itself as to why they hate everything around them and how they still don’t feel the need to change. It sort of gave me that Bad Santa vibe, that was mixed around a bit with Sex and the City, but even comparing these chicks to those prissy beotches would just be terribly wrong. Instead, these girls are the types that were the meanest, cruelest, and most evil girls you would have ever met in high school and still live in high school, and talk as if they were spreading the weekly gossip once again. These types of chicks don’t necessarily sound like the kind I want to spend an hour and 30 minutes with but somehow, Headland finds a way to make it a bit fun.

I don’t want to go far and say that I had an amazingly fun time with this flick but there is something entertaining about the big night before a wedding, going out, getting plastered, getting high, and hopefully by the end of the night, getting a little lucky. This film seems to have a bunch of fun with that aspect that we have seen done so, so many times before but it’s a bit darker and sinister here that seems to relish in the countless acts of debauchery. It makes me look forward to the night I may spend with my buds when they eventually get shipped off into the hell they call marriage, but hopefully it will be with a lot nicer people.

But as fun and entertaining as this film may be, the most surprising aspect that I found here was how little I actually laughed at everything. Watching somebody be messed up on coke and say stupid and uncomfortable things can be funny every once and awhile, but it seems like an old-trick done a thousand times to where it doesn’t even seem funny here. Even half of the mean and terrible shit these people say to each other isn’t as funny as it is just, well, whatever, they’re saying terrible and mean shit to each other so I don’t really care. Sometimes it’s funny, other times, it doesn’t matter. It’s just there and doesn’t do much for you.

Also, before I go any further I just want to point out the cheap trick that this film tried to pull by referencing Fast Times at Ridgemont High, not once, but twice in such a lame way! The first time they do it is almost like a homage to the whole infamous “Moving in Stereo” scene, and then the next one they actually talk about Damone and how much of a dick he was. First of all, it seemed cheap in the first place to have an homage but then to just actually go out there and reference the movie itself seems a little lame to begin with. Sorry if this doesn’t really seem like much of a problem to have with this flick but it came to me and I couldn’t let it go.

Back to these three characters though, because they never show us any reason to have sympathy or love for them but it doesn’t matter, because it seems like these actresses love playing that whole aspect up. Kirsten Dunst is a huge force to be reckoned with as Regan, as she shows that she can play up her bitchiness to her advantage, while also showing us a bit more about her character is in ways that we least expected; Lizzy Caplan can play the cynical bitch like nobody’s business, but there’s more to her character than meets the eye here and I think that’s where the most sympathy out of all of the characters go; and Isla Fisher has some of the best moments just being a total klutz on drugs and drunk, but now it’s sort of a cliche for her to play that type of character so it doesn’t seem like anything really new. Rebel Wilson has a nice screen presence as they’re friend who’s getting married, Becky, and does what she can with the limited screen-time she has, which is enough for me.

The problem with these characters isn’t that they are toothless and terrible to every one around them, it’s more that they are like this the whole way through and then they apparently have a change of heart by the end. All films like this one do the same-exact thing: show these characters doing mean things, showing that they never change, and then woolah, they all of a sudden love everybody by the end. The movie tries to convince us that these girls can all of a sudden end on a clean slate and act like everything they just did over the past hour, wasn’t something that mattered all that much and it comes off as fake and a bit too calculated for how these characters really are. I will say that Headland does show these chicks as being terrible at the start, and at the end, but the whole sympathetic route they take is not something that rang true.

Consensus: Bachelorette features a cast playing each of their roles perfectly and a fun atmosphere full of sex, drugs, and booze, but plays it too safe by the end with it’s sympathetic ending that seems a bit out of the norm after who and what we’ve been watching for the past hour.