Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: January 2014

Labor Day (2013)

Escaped convicts always make the best stand-in daddies. Honestly don’t know why they aren’t more frequent.

13-year-old Henry (Gattlin Griffith) and his depressed mother Adele (Kate Winslet) are going through a bit of a rough-patch right now. Mainly her though as she’s trying to get over the recent-divorce from her ex (Clark Gregg) and find her way back into being the normal, spirited gal she once was. However, Henry has it pretty bad too, with puberty and all, but he doesn’t think he has it all that bad when he just so happens to stumble upon an escaped convict by the name of Frank (Josh Brolin), who then urges them to come with him and not be suspicious in any way. At first, both Henry and Adele are frightened of this man, but sooner than later, they begin to realize that he’s got a heart of gold, but also just so happens to be a murderer – a murder he consistently lets us know is “not what it appears to be”. As time goes on though, the three all begin to bond, with Adele and Frank even going so far as to start doing a little hanky-panky, which leads them to their next stage: Move-away and become a real family? Or, just let the law take control and send Frank back to the slammer, where he rightfully belongs? Decisions, decisions people.

It pains me to see a movie like this, where one of the most promising directors in the longest while, Jason Reitman, tries something new and slightly bold, and somehow, falls on his face. Not flat on his face, but you can definitely tell that his “smart idea” of changing his directorial-choices up a bit and going for something that’s far more dramatic, romantic and in some cases, suspenseful than what we’ve seen him do in the past, definitely wasn’t fully thought-out.

"Don't mind this goatee-sporting man that just so happens to be wearing a sweat-top and baseball-cap next to me. He's just an old friend I just so happened to stumble upon."

“Don’t mind this goatee-sporting man, who also happens to be wearing a sweat-top and baseball-cap next to me. He’s just an old friend I just so happened to stumble upon while shopping.”

Reason being: There just isn’t much, or any at all spark to be found in this story that should have made it work.

The one aspect of this movie I will give Reitman some credit for is at least trying to give the audiences something new, in terms of an “adult romance”. And by that, I don’t mean that we see much sex between the adults, or nudity, or even that much of sappy, love-struck moments that would make even Nicholas Sparks get all red in the face; it’s an “adult romance” in the way that we see two, older-aged humans that have clearly experienced life for what it was has brought to them, and now how they want to continue on their lives with one another. It’s kind of sweet when you think about it and definitely gives you the idea that this is not something very “popular” with audiences out there. However, the fact remains that adults do in fact, “fall in love”, and it’s time that we started seeing more movies that depict that fact of life.

But to add on that, we should also be seeing good movies that depict that fact of life, not something like this. Which, I kind of do hate to say because I love Reitman; he’s the type of writer/director who’s not afraid to take chances, or depict characters that may not always be perfect, but feel like full-fledged characters we can actually care about and connect with. Here though, we have a bunch of broken-down, beaten-up people that would definitely seem like perfect matches-made-in-heaven for one another, but don’t really add up to much. It’s believable that somebody as repressed as Adele would look twice at a guy like Frank who, may even be more emotionally-disturbed than she is, but treats her like the Queen Bee she hasn’t felt like in some odd time. That aspect of the story definitely makes sense, but it just doesn’t play-out in a believable manner.

Which, I think, is to put the blame on Reitman for having this story be told in the point-of-view of Henry. Granted, I never read the book this is an adaptation of, so it could definitely be just a case where somebody is following by the guide-lines presented to him, but it doesn’t work. Not only do we get too much focus on Henry oddly and awkwardly talking to this fellow teenage girl (that, unbelievably, keeps talking about sex and how he should get ready to be kicked-out of the house because the adults he lives with are having too much of it), but we never actually get to see Frank and Adele develop much as a couple, or even soul-mates. We just see them sad, lonely and in need of some lovin’, which is all fine and dandy because we’re all human in the end, but we never quite see them talk, get to know one another, or even see them initiate the act of sex. We just hear their moans and groans, which is supposed to be played-up for laughs, but just feels like Reitman trying very, very hard to secure a PG-13-rating without over-stepping those boundaries or offending anybody in the process.

In this case, as dirty as I may sound to state this, but those boundaries needed to be taken-off and shoved in front of our faces, just like he’s done with all of his movies.

And trust me, this all hurts me to say because while I definitely did see promise in this material and in this director, I felt the most of it with the cast. Which I wasn’t wrong to think, because they are all actually fine and make this movie the least bit “watchable”. Kate Winslet gives us, yet again, another performance where she acts her ass off as a sad, slightly disturbed heroine that definitely does seem like a nice lady when she’s functioning, but she rarely is and doesn’t even bother to go out there in the real world. It’s kind of sad to see this type of character, really, and while, without saying anything, Winslet tells us everything there is we need to know about her character, Adele does become a bit more implausible as time goes on and she starts to change every aspect of her life, just to be with this man she’s known for all of four-five days. I get it, that’s the point, but the point didn’t work for me. Sorry.

One of the very rare instances in which it's "okay" to have your woman bake you a pie.

Hey, shouldn’t “the woman” in that equation be making the pie? Men? You with me on this?

We also have Josh Brolin here as Frank, who, like Winslet, is fine at displaying this type of character that seems like he was, at one point in time, a very nice and genuine guy, but has been through the ringer a bit too many times to where he’s a bit scary to be around. He’s still nice and definitely the right kind of guy to teach you how to throw a baseball, but is also a bit unpredictable as you never know when he could turn that other cheek, and commit some questionable actions. He already did once, so what’s stopping him now? Nada, that’s what!

Gattlin Griffith shows some promise here as Henry, but he too gets bogged-down by some unbelievable twists and turns his character takes, and it makes you wonder if this kid’s scared, sheltered, or just dumb. Tobey Maguire also narrates the older-version of Henry, and while it’s nice to hear his smooth, gentle voice over the speakers when we least expect it, it still doesn’t add much to the film and just tells us everything that’s happen on-screen. Poor Tobey. From just standing-around and looking like a fool in the Great Gatsby, to this, it seems like the guy will almost never catch a break. Somebody give him a hug already!

Consensus: Winslet, Brolin and relative new-comer Griffith, definitely make Labor Day somewhat interesting, but everything Jason Reitman does as writer/director feels like he’s just trying too hard to be anything like he’s been for all of his other movies, and by doing so, doesn’t allow this story to ever pick-up any tension or blissfulness that it so clearly needs.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Don't be nervous, kid. Cause if you are, I'll freaking snap your mom's neck in-half. Like I said, don't be nervous."

“Don’t be nervous, kid. Cause if you are, I’ll freaking snap your mom’s neck in-half. Like I said, don’t be nervous.”

Photo’s Credit to:


Gloria (2013)

It don’t matter how old you get, the good times just don’t end.

58-year-old divorcée Gloria (Paulina García) is a woman who sort of beats along to her own drum. She’s got two, grown kids, a couple of friends, a cat that always wanders into her apartment-complex and even a housekeeper that she sees regularly, so she isn’t necessarily lonely. But that still doesn’t stop her from going out to all of these “Single’s Nights” at these countless bars where she drinks, dances, jams out to music and, if lucky, finds a cute guy that she may, or may not want to go back home with. It’s like she’s all young and free again, when times were simpler. One night however, she ends up catching the eye of fellow divorcée Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), who she doesn’t actually need in her life to make her feel more complete, but hey, he’s a nice enough guy that she’ll start something with and see where it goes from there. Eventually, the two begin to get all wrapped-up into one another, but it’s not before long when problems start to arise from both sides, and they’re left with the questions: Just where should we go with this? Or better yet, does it really seem to be going anywhere?

Every so often, we see the quintessential, “woman on her own” flick and for the most part, it’s all pretty standard-stuff. First of all, we get an older woman who is trying to get over her messy divorce, with a more-than messy ex of hers; watch as she tries to rekindle that flame within her soul with other, possible love-interests out there; and we also get to see how her past life, is also colliding with her newfound freedom that she can’t help but express every chance she gets. So yeah, we’ve seen this formula done so many times by now, it’s almost too hard to shock us, or give us something new that spices up the conventions.

Cause it's every older-woman's dream to shoot people with balls of paint.

Cause it’s every older-woman’s dream to shoot people with balls of paint.

However, in the case of Gloria, we aren’t necessarily shocked by the story, nor does anything really get mixed around to where we could call it “innovative” – it’s just another simple tale, of a simple, older woman, who also happens to just want to have a bit of fun in her life, without getting bogged-down by all of the dumb, useless shite in life like marriage, kids, mortgages and death.

Who needs that crap when you have happiness, right?

And that’s pretty much the general-basis for what this story holds: We watch as this woman Gloria, a woman we just met, go throughout her later-life where she experiences things she may never, ever have before, and seems to embrace it all with a warm smile and a huge heart. Even if she has experienced some of this stuff before, it doesn’t matter because she’s still happy to be walking down memory-lane, and we feel happy for her as well. We don’t know too much about her past, other than the fact that she was married, has kids and is close enough with them to stop-by every so often. I didn’t see anything wrong with that picture, so I just took for granted that everything I was seeing about Gloria, on-display in front of me, was all I needed to know about her.

That’s why, even though not much may happen throughout the whole hour-and-a-half, it’s still interesting to see where Gloria’s life takes her. Sometimes, she surprises those around her by how open she is to new things; and heck, sometimes she even surprises herself. But she’s experiencing life in a way that she may never, ever have before where she does activities such as paint-balling, sky-diving and having sex on the beach. Yup, every new thing is that Gloria does is just a new experience for her to add onto her list, but we never judge her for doing anything and we never really see her as bad person, per se. More or less, we just see her as a “person”, who may not be perfect and may get caught-up in some sketchy situations that she doesn’t know how to bail herself out of, but she’s still a person that I believed in every step of the way.

Most of that really comes down to Paulina García’s wonderful performance as Gloria, where she gets a lot to do here, and doesn’t shy-away from getting raw and gritty if she needs to. Which does mean that yes, for all of you horny, over-50-year-old-loving pervs out there are wondering: She does get naked an awful lot. But it’s never done in a gratuitous way, and as strange as this may sound, makes us feel closer to who she is as a person, because more often than not, she’s able to use that said naked-body as a weapon of sorts to get what it is that she wants. Sure, she’s got a lovely-presence about her and a care-free spirit, but when any guy, it doesn’t matter who, is getting some woman’s nakey-wakey body thrown right in their face, they can’t help but say, “Get over here!” Regardless of whose body it is, too.

Quiet, stern, determined and altogether, very classy. I don't know about you, but that's my kind of woman.

Quiet, stern, determined and altogether, very classy. I don’t know about you, but that’s my kind of woman.

What I am trying to say here though is that while Gloria may not always make the best decisions a woman her age should make, García always remains astonishing to watch as she never hits a false-note. Though I’ve never seen García in anything before, had I been able to associate the name with the face and all that stuff, I probably still would have seen her as “Gloria”, and not just “Paulina García playing some chick named Gloria”. That’s a real, class-A acting-job on her part and it makes me wonder if I’ll see more of her in the near-future, or if this is about all the exposure to her I may get. I hope that’s not the case, but you never know with Hollywood casting-agents.

Always so picky, those bastards.

Also playing alongside García for quite some time is Sergio Hernández as Rodolfo, the one man Gloria meets and ends up spending an awful-lot of time with. His performance here is very good and, in ways, could almost be declared as being “more challenging” as García’s, due to the fact that his character goes through some very strange ups and downs, and you never know what it is you should think about him. Don’t want to give too much away because his character’s choices will surprise the heck out of you, but the way he goes about things with Gloria and with his own family, is very interesting as you can tell that he seriously, really and truly does want to be with Gloria, forever and ever, but also can’t seem to get away from his own family that he left almost one year ago. His intentions are never clear and that’s why, I think at least, Rodolfo may have been a more intriguing character to watch, because you never know what he’s going to do next, or why, and how it is that Gloria is going to react to him and his actions. Like Gloria, he too is a bit suspect with the countless choices he makes, but their his choices and they feel deserved. Which is probably why he and Gloria are so drawn to one another, but then again, they don’t need to be.

They’re just with one another because, well, they can. That’s all you need in life; somebody to be there when you wake up, come home and go to sleep at night. Lovely, lovely stuff.

Consensus: Anchored mainly by both García and Hernández’s stellar performances, Gloria isn’t anything new that you haven’t seen done a hundred times in the “late-blooming woman becomes independent”-sub-genre, but it still worth the watch to see just who this woman is and why it matters that we have a whole movie dedicated to just her, experiencing life in its fullest, finest form. Most of the time, that is.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Old people doing it. Eww!

Old people doing it. Eww!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Juno (2007)

Just as long as you’re a quirky hipster-teenager, not a single person will be mad at you for being preggo!

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) isn’t your traditional, normal high school teen in the way that she holds herself. She knows a lot about people, life and society to the point of where people cast her a bit as an “outside”, however though, that doesn’t bother her because she’s just happy being herself, in her own, wide world of quirkiness and faux-clever pop culture references. But now her world is about to be shaken-up a bit now that she’s been impregnated by her best-buddy, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). He clearly has no idea what the hell to do when he hears this news, and neither does she, but she decides not to take “the easy way out”. Thus bringing her to the idea of having the baby, but then giving it right to hopeful parents Vanessa and Mark (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), who have been wanting a baby for quite some time, and have even gone as far as to place ads in the papers. It seems like the right thing for Juno to do, however, she still can’t help herself from causing a bit of ruckus in the meanwhile.

Many people have spoken-out against this movie for being what is clearly a “mainstream attempt” at trying to do a quirky, hipster movie, that you’d most likely see in a small, run-down movie theater with at least five or six other people, and then hear about years later, with it gaining a cult-following and loyal fan-base and such. Reason being, the script by Diablo Cody is filled to the core with numerous amounts of slang, phrases that seem like they’d only come from “hip” people’s mouths and more inside-joke pop culture references than you or I could ever shake a stick at. Hell, it even opens up with a rotoscoped credit-sequence, done to the tunage of Barry Louis Polisar.

Look at that thing! So rad, man!

Look at that thing! So rad, man!

If that doesn’t scream, “Hey, look at me! I’m hip! I’m cool! I’m “with it”!”, then I don’t know what does.

Usually whenever a movie has me thinking this in the first couple minutes, it’s usually all downhill from there. But that wasn’t the case here. Surprisingly, Cody’s writing began to work more and more, even when more of an onslaught of absolutely random references came into play. However, that also made it so much more entertaining to watch as I could not only find myself laughing, but feel like I’m in the presence of real teenagers who sure, talk a bit funnier and more colorful than you or I, but act and behave as if they were us. Early pregnancy aside, I could still see myself talking, hanging out and getting to know some chick just like Juno, and being picked to pieces for either saying something really dumb, or being intimidated by her presence. But I could say the same thing about meeting Juno, about everybody else here.

The fact is, although its a rather showy script, it’s always believable and never loses that sense that we are placed into a world that exists in the 21st century, with characters who have grown-up on Nickelodeon, Slurpee’s and the almighty “Hamburger Phones”. Yes, they do exist and yes, they are awesome.

But once all of the playful wit of this movie leaves, then comes in the huge heart it has and it really takes you by surprise. One second you could be laughing at how Juno tries to match wits with some older dude about how Iggy Pop is such a bad-ass, to then be soaking your eyes out crying because of some beautiful speech her dad gave to her about finding that one and only special someone and why that does inf act matter. The movie definitely plays with that balance more than a few times than it ought to, but Cody and Reitman seem like they have a perfect idea of when the right time to play a moment up for laughs is, and when it’s the time to start letting the tears flow. More often than not, the former got the best of me, but the latter came in with a surprising thunder and really touched. Especially during the last ten or so minutes when the whole story, all of the characters and subplots, come together and get tied-up in a nice, neat little bow-tie.

How perfect that is to see actually happen in a movie for once.

Of course though, the one’s who really make this movie work so well, just as much as both Reitman and Cody do, is the ensemble cast, mainly Ellen Page in the lead as “anti-hero” of sorts, Juno MacGuff. Page got a lot of praise for this role, and some could say it made her a bon-a-fide “star”, and while I’m not up for a discussion on whether or not that’s fully, entirely true (it isn’t), I will say that Page deserved all of the chatter being made about her because she fits this role like a glove. She’s quick, funny, and always up to say something you don’t expect her to, but she’s never a big meanie. Sure, she can be a bit of a sassy-pup to those who deserve it, but to everybody else around her, you know, the one’s that actually matter and care for her, she’s always kinder to and definitely doesn’t take of them for granted. She’s unpredictable for sure, but she’s never a “bad person” per se, which is what I think makes her so damn likable and watchable in the first place. That, and the fact that she’s edgy, without being overly so. Good for Page though, as I think that she’s a solid actress who is sadly still trying hard to live this iconic-role down. One day, I think, she will. But until then, we have this to adore and appreciate.

Please be my parents! Please!!

Please be my parents! Please!!

Michael Cera also does a nice job as Paulie Bleeker, despite still being in that “George Michael“-frame. However though, he was good at showing what a guy like him would do if he was suddenly thrown into the same situation that he is obviously incapable of handling. Also, the relationship that he and Juno have is a very well-done one which would have made for its own interesting rom-com. Even the friendship Juno has with her bestie, played by Olivia Thirlby, is well-done because she’s just as sassy, if not more than Juno’s snarky-ass, which also makes their time together all the more enjoyable to watch.

But this isn’t just a movie for, and starring all teenagers throughout the world! Believe it or not, there are some performances from adults here, and for the most part, they’re pretty outstanding. As I’ve mentioned before about his one scene, J.K. Simmons is great as Juno’s daddy that isn’t the typical toughened war-vet, hard-ass daddy you usually see in these types of movies. He definitely loves his daughter and accepts her for everything that she is, despite her making one dumb decision and getting pregnant as a result. Still though, he stands by her and wants what’s best, without getting in the way too much. Same for Allison Janney’s step-mom character who isn’t the evil, cackling step-mom that holds everything against her step-daughter for not being biologically related to her. In fact, one could say that she’s more concerned and protecting of Juno, and doesn’t want people bad-mouthing her all because she’s a teenager, who just so happens to be pregnant. Even the two performances from Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are great too, and, believe it or not, would have definitely worked in their own, little movie. However here, they’re both believable as a married-couple that may not be perfect together, but definitely seem to want the same things in life and within each other, even if their vision does get a bit blurred at times.

Mainly though, everybody works perfectly together and makes this something more special than just an-hour-and-a-half rom-com with pregnancy involved somehow. I would have definitely liked to seen more of this cast do what they do best, but hey, I’ll take what I can get when I have a cast that is this good, and given this much meaty-material to work with. If only more ensemble-pieces handled its cast as well as Reitman does. If only.

Consensus: Most will definitely know if Juno is right for them or not, judged solely by the first ten minutes. But if you just so happen to be one of those people that take the bait and enjoy the show, you’ll find yourself not just happy you stuck-through, but ending it all with a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your stomach, like coming-of-age, rom-comers should do.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

That's to all ya haters out there. You know who you are, too!

That’s to all ya haters out there. You know who you are, too!

Photo’s Credit to:

Thank You For Smoking (2005)

Is smoking good for you? Go ahead and give it a taste yourself!

Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is the guy that most people consider the second-coming of Satan or a murderous flea-bag, among many other negative personifications. “Why”, may you ask? Well, he’s a lobbyist who speaks for world-wide smoking companies as they constantly get heckled by anti-cancer foundations, protesters, and above all, Senators trying to remove cigarette-usage from movie, television, books and all sorts of other media-outlets. Also, they’re trying add a warning-label on each and every pack as a way to scare every cigarette-purchaser that they will in fact die if they continue to buy and smoke tobacco. But Nick Naylor doesn’t let any of this get to him, because not only is he good at his job, but he’s one slick mofo when it comes to getting what it is that he wants, in the smoothest way possible. The only problem is that he’s finding it hard set a good and responsible for his son Joey (Cameron Bright), whom he rarely sees as is, but wants to show the bright, as well as the dark sides of corporate-America.

If any of you out there think that my opening-line was in anyway serious, then don’t be worried about my I.Q. level, because I was joking. I know; you know; parents know; dogs know; cats know; hell, practically all of us know that smoking is bad for you. If it’s not doing any damage to you now, give it 20 years or so, then you’ll start to feel the ramifications tobacco-usage. That’s not me being preachy, or even trying to sound like a dick, I’m just being honest and painfully clear. Because, let’s face it, everybody knows that cigarettes are not good for you, but does that matter? Hell no! But the that doesn’t stop half of the Earth’s population from going down to the local mini-mart and ordering a pack of Marlboro Reds, now does it?

Hell no!

It's a reunion of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes. Well, sort of.

It’s the reunion of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes finally together at last! Well, sort of.

But that’s the genius of this movie; it dives into the age-old statement that “smoking is not good for you”, and still finds a way to inject a whole bunch of humor and satire about how people can be easily conned into thinking one thing, that in ways, sometimes goes against the common-norm. Writer/director Jason Reitman gives us all of the mean, dirty, despicable and money-grubbing a-holes that we’d never want to meet in real life, but somehow, he makes them all interesting, fun-to-watch and downright believable. You could definitely see these types of people in the corporate-world; laundering money, making some dirty deals on the side, trying to spin whatever story they possibly can into a positive light and, through it all, doing everything to make a quick and easy buck. It’s America baby, and nobody plays clean when money’s involved.

What really pushes this movie over-the-edge and makes it more of an important life-lesson, than just a whole satire on the corporate-world we live in, is that it actually discusses a common-truth that all humans should hold near and dear to themselves. That common-truth being to stand-up for one’s view-point, and not always give into what everybody else is saying. Basically stick up for yourself and don’t just go along with the crowd.

Like for instance, this movie isn’t about whether or not smoking cigarettes is in fact “good” for you or not, nor is it trying to get you to consider if you should go out, buy a pack and start lighting away until the cows come home. Nope, it’s more about how people should be able to make decisions, solely based on what they want to do and whether or not they think it’s right to do. Sure, smoking isn’t good for you and you definitely shouldn’t start developing that as a habit if you know what’s best for you, but don’t be such a sheep and follow the herd. Get out there, do what you think is right for you, as well as others around, but don’t just follow the current. Go at your own flow, man.

Though “blaming the million-dollar corporations for our poor decisions” has been a societal-standard since the beginning of the first Mickey D’s, the movie tackles it head-on and gives us a wonderful protagonist, or antagonist (depending on which way you look at it), in the form of Nick Naylor as the type of guy that speaks for those who always seem to get a bad name. Do some of these big, money-grubbing corporations deserve all of the name-calling and slander in the press? Sure they do, but Nick Naylor is here to show us why we all make decisions in our lives, regardless of if we’re thinking right away. Some of the points that Naylor does make are valid (the whole “ice cream” bit will forever be a favorite of mine), and for anybody who sees him as “the villain”, is sadly mistaken. He’s the guy who knows the truth and skewers it in any way he possibly can without getting caught-up and looking like a dumb-ass. But he’s just so cool and charming, you don’t even care if he’s trying to get these smoking-companies more cash-flow, you just hope that he’s nice to those around him that matter most.

Somebody's in need of a sarsaparilla.

Looks like somebody’s in desperate need of a sarsaparilla.

Kind of strange actually, but Eckhart makes him this way, showing us that he’s not only still capable of being a bon-a-fide dick like we’re so used to seeing him be, but also able to spin it around in a way and see that he can be a nice guy, when the opportunity arises and calls on him to be so. He doesn’t always say or do the right things that may be for the betterment of everyone around him, but he does get caught in some sticky situations where he has to think what’s more important to maintain: His humanity, or his bank-account? More often than not, the latter is what he ends up falling back on the most, but when he does show sides of being a genuinely graceful dude, it goes a long way. Shame that Aaron Eckhart has really been blowing chunks at the screen as of late, but here’s to hoping that he may come back to doing commendable pieces of work for the big screen.

However though, I guess in the case of Aaron Eckhart: There’s nothing like “too many” paying gigs.

Then of course though, Eckhart isn’t the only one of this cast that shines – he just so happens to shine the most. Cameron Bright is the core of what gives this movie its “human-element”, and to watch as he and Naylor talk, get to know one another better and eventually build a bond over time, makes this more than just a “satire”; it’s actually something rather sweet and heartfelt. But still with a bunch of corporate-satire and smoking.

He’s the one who gets the most to work with though, as each and every one of these recognizable faces that show up here all do great jobs, no matter how meager or important their roles may in fact be. David Koechner and Maria Bello get some of the bigger-laughs as the two other, public spokespersons that Naylor frequently goes to dinner with; Robert Duvall constantly chews on his honking, wide-ass cigar as if it was a candy-cane and is absolutely loving every second of it; William H. Macy is playing the main State Senator who is speaking out the most against Naylor and the tobacco-companies he so proudly stands by and can’t help but be likable, underneath all of the contradictions he holds; and Sam Elliott, given what he has to do as a former spokesman for one of these tobacco-companies, injects a lot of heart, humor and surprising sadness into a story that desperately needed some to get to the heart of what this story means in the long run, and why people should at least try and stay away from cigarettes. At least try, that’s all we ask of you as a human-being.

Consensus: Thank You For Smoking is a movie in which most viewers will most likely be divided on, based solely on their political-standings are, but they can all at least come together on the fact that it’s a funny, smart, sly and sometimes heartfelt satire that takes a look at a bunch of people we don’t want to like or see in a humane-way, but actually do, in surprising ways.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

If weed every becomes legal, you know this idea will be popping up everywhere.

If weed becomes legal everywhere in the world, you know this we’l be jammed down our throats.

Photo’s Credit to:

Weekend (2011)

Most of my life-altering moments occur on “Hump Day“. But that’s just my weird luck.

Russell (Tom Cullen) is a shy, rather lonely homosexual man that leaves his best-mate’s house-party one night to go out clubbing. Not much happens really – he gets drunk, he checks out some fellow guys and he ends up going home with somebody. That somebody just so happens to be Glen (Chris New), a guy who is quite opposite to Russell. For starters, he’s a lot more out-and-about his homosexuality, likes to discuss a lot of thought-provoking ideas and is more energetic when he’s around others in a fun, lively environment. It shouldn’t work, but somehow, these two men form a bond and end-up spending a few days together where they talk, make love, do drugs, discuss the future of what they could, or better yet, should be, hang-out with other people, get drunk, joke around, laugh and share more emotions in a span of 72 hours, than some of us ever have with our significant-others we’ve known for years and years. However, just like any connection one shares with another person, conflicts do arise and take these guys back and make them think, “Should we be together, or should we not?” Decisions, decisions.

This is as “indie” as you can get: Small, contained setting, simple premise and plenty of talking. All that needs to work in order to make this movie prevail is that everything we see here is believable, rich, raw and understated, as if it was life itself we were watching right in front of our eyes. Sort of like the Before Sunrise trilogy, you know? But instead of Jesse and Celine, it’s Jesse and, well, Jesse, right?

We're all so sweet and snugly after a rumpus night of casual sex.

We’re all so sweet and snugly after a rumpus night of casual sex.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to get at here is that these sort of “chamber pieces” have been done a million, gillion times before, but so rarely do they work to near-perfection as Richard Linklater’s films have in the past. Though, it’s safe to say that writer/director/editor Andrew Haigh seems like he knows exactly what to do with these types of movies, where we don’t really see much go on, except for people talking, and talking, and then, guess what? Do some more talking! But it feels like we are actually watching real people, do what real people on this Earth do: Have conversations.

That’s the main selling-point behind this film: Its dialogue. Though you can tell that some of it here and there may have been improvised, for the most part, the dialogue feels richly-constructed in a way in which, through the conversations these two gentleman have with one another, we get a better sense of who they are, why they matter to us, to each other and in ways, why these two are perfect stand-ins for the sanctity of love and possibly even marriage. Because here’s what’s neat about this movie, that you don’t see from many LGBT-themed movies: It definitely discusses the ideas of “coming out”, being gay in public and embracing one’s homosexuality, but it never makes that the core of this story.

Instead, it much rather focuses on the fact that these two men are in fact strangers that, by a sheer chance of luck, just so happened to meet, hit it off, get into bed together and decide that they wanted to keep things going on a bit longer if it’s remotely possible. They’re strangers in the sense that they are just meeting one another for the first time, but what they’ve been through in their own lives, their struggles and their ideas, are somewhat similar, and we see that shine-through in their countless conversations. And sometimes, even the topics of the discussions they hold go all-over-the-place and further away from just talking about “being gay and embracing it”; sometimes politics is discussed; past relationships; art; the state of the world; meeting new people; the future; and basically, the rest of the world. So yeah, there’s definitely a lot that these two talk about, but it always feels real and always made me feel like I was just sitting-around, listening as these two got to know one another and, as a result, get to decide whether or not they want to continue to take this any further than just a simple, shallow “one night stand”.

Because see, it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or not; the idea of getting to know somebody after you just had a passionate (or “not-so passionate”) night of making whoopee with, can be universal. We as humans all long to want to make that connection that’s more than just swapping spit, and more about swapping emotions, ideas and lives. It truly is a beautiful fact-of-life and that’s something that Haigh taps into perfectly, without getting melodramatic or obvious in the slightest bit. Not even during the final, gut-wrenching moments of this movie when we realize that there’s more to this story than just what we are originally sold on, and I dare not spoil what it is or why it’s so powerful.

Just watch it and wait to see, my friends.

"Gosh, just stop snoring. Please....?"

“Gosh, just stop snoring. Please….?”

However though, Haigh clearly couldn’t have done this without his cast, mainly the two the leading roles: Tom Cullen and Chris New. Both are amazing here and share a nice bit of chemistry, that’s not as easy as it seems to pull-off. See, what they have to do here is make us believe that they not only are meeting each other for the first time, but actually show signs of interest in the other that’s less about sex, and more about sharing life together. But still though, at the same time, being able to have us believe that if they want to, they’ll jump each other’s bone, without second-thoughts. And as time rambles on too, they have to start to develop more of a rapport that you see believable and understandable, even if they aren’t soul-mates that have known each other for year’s on-end. Mainly, what I am trying to say here is that it’s quite a difficult-task for two people to play love-interests with one another, without seeming like they’ve already developed a great chemistry together, right from the very start. Like most relationships, it does take time to develop and get better, just as a better understanding of the other person comes more and more into play. It’s a difficult task, but hey, they somehow overcome it and make their little romantic-tryst very believable.

The only take-away I had with this movie was that, at the end of it all, it did feel a little slight. See, whereas a story about Jesse and Celine spending a whole 24 hours together gets me clamoring away at the tips of my fingers for a sequel, regardless of how long it may actually take to happen, this story between Russell and Glen didn’t fully get me excited either. It’s not that these two aren’t all that interesting together, it’s more because it feels like these are two men who are meant to get to know one another and even challenge each other into thinking differently than they already would, without really changing the other’s lives. I felt that with Linklater’s films, not here. Maybe I’m not making any sense whatsoever and maybe it’s just a feeling I have in the pit of my stomach that’s hard to explain, but it’s just something I felt. Can’t explain it, but it is, what it is. Maybe you’ll pick-up what I’m putting down if, and when you see it yourselves.

Consensus: Essentially, Weekend is a small, contained piece of cinema that doesn’t have a huge-budget to go along with its simple premise, but makes wonders work in other aspects like the understated directing, believable writing and raw acting, that gives us a romance that may, or may not be fully fulfilled in the end, but watching it as it unfolds into something that quite possibly may be, is enough to hold our interest as is.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh dear, the awk "after-one-night-stand talk." Gotta love it!

Oh dear, the awk “after-one-night-stand talk.” Gotta love it!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Grown Ups 2 (2013)

When Rob Schneider doesn’t show up, you know you’re in trouble.

This is going to be quite a difficult task because, all joking aside, there is no plot here. Basically, it’s just four middle-aged men (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade) spending a day together where they fart, burp, sneeze, get peed on by a deer, start fights with fraternities, go skinny-dipping in lakes, ogle over hot, young and busty women, love their kids, wife, family and at the end of the day, try to have a good time by throwing an “80’s-themed party” where they try to relive their glory days when times were simpler and a lot less shitty when they didn’t have responsibilities to deal with.

And yes, I was reaching to try and come up with something there that made sense, but let’s face it: A plot does not matter for this movie. All that matters is that these guys get to make fun of other people around them, act like fools, commit acts as if they were young, wild and free, all over again, and fart A LOT. That’s pretty much all there is to this movie and though you can definitely say that I deserve any sort of pain I may have garnered from watching this movie, even though I clearly knew it was a train-wreck from the very beginning, I just couldn’t help myself.


“Poop jokes! AHAHAHA!!”

I’m a two-bit movie critic, yes, but I’m also a movie lover, and I have to watch EACH AND EVERY SINGLE MOVIE that I can possibly see, dammit!

So, in this case, curiosity did in fact kill the cat and I decided to actually give this a watch. No, I did not expect greatness and no, I did not expect to even laugh a single bit, and well, that’s pretty much what I got. None of this ever funny, and it just seems like everybody involved is either slumming it all the way down to hell with what they think is mildly amusing, all for the sake of a nice, healthy paycheck, so that they can continue to go on and make more shitty flicks that nobody in the world with the least amount of self-respect would want to go see. Or, if they did somehow get roped into seeing it, that they would at least not enjoy themselves while watching it.

There are jokes that miss, there are jokes that fall flat, and then, there are jokes that hit the ground, dig a hole into the Earth’s core, cause an eruption of destruction, havoc and mayhem, which only pleases those who have a sheer fondness for deer’s urine. Seriously, this movie is not funny. I chuckled maybe once or twice, and you know why and by whom? Fuckin’ Taylor fuckin’ Lautner! That’s right! That freakin’ stud from the Twilight movies, is the only funny thing in this whole movie that not only has Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Taran Killam, and Shaquille O’Neal, but even has Stone Cold Steve Austin for lord’s sakes! I mean, WHAT THE HELL?!?!? How does a travesty like this even occur!?!?!

And you bet your sweet rumps that I mentioned all of those famous, well-known names for a reason, because here are all people that have shown us, many, MANY other times in the history of this world, that they are capable of making us laugh and entertain the hell out of us. So therefore, you’d think that a movie that has all of their talents involved with one movie would clearly be the laugh-out-loud riotous-fest of the year, let alone the decade, right!?!? Well, no!!!!! Apparently, nobody here seems to have a clear idea of what constitutes being considered “funny”, “humorous”, or even “smart” for that matter. It’s all dumb, it’s all painful to watch, and it’s all so damn freakin’ sad because everybody here is talented and can do great, amazing things for this world, but none of them ever made me laugh or have a good time.


Seriously though, everyone, I do apologize for cursing up a storm. You don’t normally see this side from me and you sure as hell don’t see me so enraged over a movie like I am with this, but there’s all a reason that I will continue to hammer over the head to death with: Everybody here knows better (with the exception of director Dennis Dugan cause, quite frankly, that guy doesn’t know shit about anything good). I always love to consider myself a huge Adam Sandler fan because I’ve always felt like the guy has a keen-sense of humor that is a bit on the dumb side, and definitely isn’t for everybody, but he’s made me laugh and that’s fine for me. He’s even shown us all some interesting sides to his acting-abilities by taking up some very interesting roles that seem to always work, as well as earn him respect from people who have always considered him an imbecile. So why the guy decides to keep on destroying his credibility as a comedian, is totally beyond me. All I do know is that he needs to quit making these types of fucking movies, and he needs it do it right fucking now. It seems like the year of 2014 definitely has him stepping in that right direction, but there’s always another one of these piles of excrement just peaking around the corner.

Same goes for the rest of this cast, mainly the three other numskulls that help him out with this movie. Chris Rock is by far, without a doubt in my mind, one of the funniest comedians who has ever lived and will continue to be so, regardless of how many of these shitty movies he decides to be apart of; Kevin James makes everything he shows up in, just a bit better by doing his normal, Chris Farley-shtick, and he’ll always garner a “pass” from me, due solely to the fact that King of Queens was one of my favorite shows growing-up; and, no matter what the haters may say, David Spade makes me laugh. I’ve seen a few of his stand-up specials and he’s always made me laugh-out-loud quite a few times, as well as the work he puts into the nonstop sitcoms he shows up in as well. So yeah, from what we know and see, these guys are able to be funny and just have us enjoy the hell out of their presences, but why they all continue to do junk like this makes me ponder my fan-dom and respect for these guys all of the damn time.

Not even anybody from what is considered one of the funniest shows on television can make a laugh happen.

Not even those from what is considered one of the funniest shows on television can make a laugh happen.

It’s a damn shame too, really, because these are the types of guys that comedy should be looking-up to and saying, “This is how you do it”. Nowadays though, it’s just the same old routine we seem to be getting from these folks, mainly Sandler: Get a bunch of money from Happy Madison; get the same cast, crew and buddies to work; cobble-up a plot that doesn’t even have to be cohesive in any way, shape or form; write-out a script that concerns a lot of bathroom humor, sex jokes, homophobia, and messages about how family matters; film in some back-lot that makes every movie look like it was filmed on the sun; make sure that the movies feature cameos from anybody that’s even the slightest bit considered a “celebrity”; and most importantly, DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE PRODUCT-PLACEMENTS. Wouldn’t want to lose any money over that, now would we?

But yeah, you can tell that I pretty much hated this movie, but this one hits even closer to home because it shows you just how easy it is for somebody to get junk made, solely because they’re famous, and have money, power and all the string-pulling one person could possibly get. The first Grown Ups already made showed that statement to be true, but this one, on the second go-around, we already know what to expect and yes, it is a whole lot worse this time around.

However though, this one does have FUCKIN’ TAYLOR FUCKIN’ LAUTNER around, and I guess you could that there’s at least a “slight improvement” to be found there? Then again, maybe not. Both movies fucking blow and please do whatever you possibly can to stay the fuck away from them. Mainly this hour-and-a-half-long show-reel of human feces.

Consensus: Without thinking about this too hard, or even trying to dig in deeper as to what the real problem with Grown Ups 2 is, it doesn’t matter. The movie’s not funny, hard-to-watch and an example of exactly how low Sandler and all of his buddies will go to make some more money, and continue to make more piles of dung that are exactly, if not worse, than this.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Thank you, Taylor. You've done something right for a change.

Thank you, Taylor. You’ve done something right for a change.

Photo’s Credit to:

The Past (2013)

The more you sleep around, the more drama it creates. What else is new?!?!

To sign some papers for his divorce and, as a result, to complete the whole procedure of it, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) arrives back in France after four years where he meets back-up with his soon-to-be-ex, Marie (Bérénice Bejo), as well as her own daughters from a previous marriage. Ahmad also just so happens to be walking into something far bigger than he had initially intended when he not only realizes Marie is with this new boyfriend of hers (Tahar Rahim), but that there’s a lot concerning his own marriage, that Marie’s oldest daughter, Lucie (Pauline Burlet), is having a bit of a problem understanding and getting clear into her head.

Basically, in other words, there’s just a lot of crazy stuff going on around here that if I got into it, I’d be spoiling, so, let me just put it this way: Everybody yells at one another.

While that may sound boring, tepid and not something you want to venture out and see on-paper, trust me, it’s the furthest thing from being either of those things. In fact, it’s just as emotional and compelling as you’re going to get with anything that has to do with that I, Frankenstein movie. Definitely more tense, because while you think you may have a general-idea as to what this story is going to be about, how it’s all going to play-out and which characters end-up being the cold, heartless son-of-a-bitches that they present to be in the first 20 or so minutes, it doesn’t play-out like that one bit.

Oooh, looks as if somebody said the wrong thing and are about to pay for it....

Oooh, looks as if somebody said the wrong thing and are about to pay for it….

In fact, more things go on here than you may suspect, but it should be noted that everything that does happen here, is done through the act of speaking. Everybody in this flick has conversations with one another, and while some of them may come pretty damn close to converging into violence, they never quite hit that peak. Instead, every conversation a character has with another character, feels like actual people speaking to one another; it doesn’t matter what about, it just matters that they’re speaking to one another and in ways, you can kind of get a sense for who they are, judging by how they hold themselves in these conversations.

I know that I am focusing a lot on the dialogue here, but that’s mainly what this movie is all about. However, it’s not a problem in the slightest bit, all because writer/director Asghar Farhadi knows how to make a dialoge-heavy movie as interesting as humanly possible, just by giving us characters we’re not only intruiged by, but know that there’s more to, than just what they present on the surface. Such the case couldn’t have been even more true here as we see each and every one of these characters shown to us in a light that would have us automatically stereotyping them in some way, form or shape. Sometimes, we’re right to think this and other times, which is a common motif throughout this whole movie, we just don’t know the full story surrounding them.

For instance, the character of the boyfriend, played by Tahar Rahim, seems like a total dick that not only can’t control his own son, but seems to be lending his eyes a bit too heavily to his girlfriend’s teenage-daughter. Also, we hear inklings of how he might have influenced his own wife’s suicide by starting-up this affair with Marie, so that just adds insult to injury for his case. But as time goes on, and we start to see him rationalize the situation he’s in and get a chance to talk it out with everybody around him, we see that he’s just a damaged-guy that yes, has a bit of an anger-issue, but is a genuinely nice guy when he wants to be, and can definitely do the right thing. He’s going through a bit of a rough-patch right now with his wife being in a coma and all, but he’s trying his hardest to get through it all in one piece, and I have to say, I acknowledged that. Not only is Rahim good in the role, but his writing continues to improve over time and have you think that this is just a guy, thrown into a shitty-situation that he may have in fact caused, but is still trying whatever he can to make-up for it.

Same case goes for every other character we have here: Marie starts-off a bit like a psycho beotch that doesn’t have a clue how to raise any kid in the world, let alone, her own, but does seem like the type of woman that wants to make things right between her and everybody else she knows and cares for in her life, mainly Ahmad. It should be said that Bejo is very, very good as Marie because while she never does quite turn that leaf over from being a “crazed-nut-to-simple-person”, she is still very compelling to watch as you’ll never know when she’s going to flip her own switch and raise all sorts of hell. Definitely a lot different from her star-making performance in the Artist, then again though, she’s actually speaking here. So there ya go!


She must have said something mean to him, because he sure is sad now.

And everything that I said for Bejo and Rahim’s characters, goes exactly the same for Ali Mosaffa’s, however, I do have to say that he impressed me the most here by presenting us with a character that legitimately seems like a nice guy and, for one reason or another, gets thrown into a situation where he’s being fired-at from all cylinders and has to make sense of it all in a cohesive, respectable manner. We never get a full-idea as to why he and Marie’s marriage ended, but what we do hear makes you think that there is a bit of a dark side to him we rarely so often see here, which is a good thing since we’re on his side so much. We know that he’s could easily be considered “the voice of reason”, but more likely, he could also be the only guy willing to pull this whole family back together, even if he isn’t apart of it in the first place. But, nonetheless, he’s a sweet guy who I feel like would give me a ride somewhere if I truly did need it.

That’s generally how I judge people on their “niceness”: Whether or not they would be willing to give me rides somewhere.

So while most of this may just seem like a review on the characters, as well as the performances that inhibit these characters, it’s definitely for a reason. Because, for the bulk of this movie, that’s all you get. Most of it’s just exciting to watch because you never know where this story will lead you next, what secret is about to be revealed, by what character, for what reason, and so on and so forth. And while some of it may get a tad bit ridiculous with how many instances in which people decide not to tell the truth and just be all odd, mysterious and vague about a situation, it still had me guessing at every step. But that’s doing it without any action, blood, car-chases, guns, or explosions; it’s just by simple conversations that can sometimes turn into arguments with the drop of a hat. But nonetheless, they’re simple, realistic conversations that you or I could have. However, it’s definitely a lot more entertaining to watch other people hold those conversations, so see this instead.

Consensus: Not much really “happens” in the Past, but that’s why it needs to be seen. Not just for the wonderful performances from its small, intimate cast, but because everything you see, hear or feel is done so for a reason, and it just adds more complexity to this tale, as well as these characters we’re forced to deal with here.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!


And she just gives him that cold-hearted stare that’s sinking deep, beneath into his soul. Think it’s safe to say, she won this battle.

Photo’s Credit to:

Ender’s Game (2013)

Kids will be kids, until they have to lead an army into battle. Then they’re just immature adults.

An alien race called the Formics has attacked Earth, and as you could presume, the citizens of that said planet aren’t too happy. So, that’s when they decide to set-up a military school in which they will enlist pre-teens to learn the tricks of the trade, be tested, be challenged and be the best that they can truly be, so that one day, they too can get a chance to fight in the war. The reason why a school like this even exists is because the government feels as if they get kids, whose minds aren’t as developed or as complex yet, then there will be no problems whatsoever with the enlisting or training-process. However, that’s where a boy named Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield), comes in a screws everything up. Not only does Ender have something special within him that lead Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) can see, but also has a bit of an open-mind to any situation he finds himself in. Sure, that impresses a lot of the instructors, but doesn’t make him the coolest kid on the playground. But, it’s fine because Ender doesn’t care, all he cares about is putting his skills to the test and see if he can take out the Formic threat once and for all. Like with most war-fare though, there do come some prices one must pay.

So yeah, a lot has been said about this movie, but then again, it’s not necessarily about the movie itself. Nope, it’s more about how author Orson Scott Card himself was a bit of a loony and took it upon himself to let everybody know that he’s homophobic. Personally, whatever the guy wants to say or do, is fine by me. Sure, he may be a bit shallow and narrow-minded, but he’s a human, he’s entitled to his opinion and quite frankly, he didn’t make this movie, so why should I care? What I should care about here is the actual movie I have on hand here, and if it actually does its job in being some sort of meeting between Harry Potter and Star Wars, as I heard it being compared as.

Oh, young love. But they'll be dead soon, so whatever.

Aw, young love. But they’ll be dead soon, so it’s whatever.

It doesn’t meet those standards, but it’s not a total bomb. Here’s why:

For the most part, this flick is kind of weird. Director Gavin Hood clearly knows that he’s working with some heavy-duty source-material here that may not entirely be for kids, nor may it not entirely be for the adults either. In fact, Hood himself finds a bit of a problem in trying to find a cohesive, senseless juggle between the two demographics: For the kiddies out there, we have a few scenes of other kids playing video-games, goofing around with one another and getting into tiny scuffles; as for the parents, we have all sorts of war-fare, mixed with thought-provoking ideas about the humanity kept in one’s mind during war, the act of genocide itself and war crimes. So yeah, if you like your teen, sci-fi-thriller to be mixed with plenty of social-commentary, this is definitely the film for you.

However, it doesn’t quite work out that way, all due to the fact that we never know what this movie is working-up to, nor do we know what it’s trying to say. Most of the actual interesting stuff that does occur in this movie, probably happens in the first-hour when we see Ender go through this military school, where’s he’s made an example of, gets picked on and in some ways, picks fights with fellow students. It’s also interesting, if not tonally jarring, to see a movie that so clearly makes it a point to dehumanize these kids, just so that they can be “better soldiers”. A bit scary when you think about it happening to these small, innocent kids we see on-screen, but it’s even more frightening when we realize that it is actually happening out there in the real world that we live in. In some cases, maybe even right outside your door-step.

But like I was saying though, the movie makes it a point to always “be about something”, but at the same time, never seems like it’s really going anywhere with its countless bits of action or scenes where we see a bunch of kids yelling out random codes/jargon/exposition, in order for it all to make a lick of a difference. We know that whatever threat these kids are battling, is something that may be deadly and strike them at any moment, but instead of actually seeing these kids go to war and get their hands a bit dirty, we’re just watching them go through simulations. Sure, the simulations, as well as everything else in this movie, look mighty pretty and definitely have you feel like you’re right there in the moment, but they’re just simulations. Meaning, they aren’t the real-deal, so why in the heck do we have to have a film that builds up to that, and only that?

And then, the strangest part of this movie comes through when we get a “shocker” of an ending in which we see that the government itself is up to some sheisty-dealings. Won’t give too much away as to the “how’s” and the “why’s”, but I will say that it didn’t surprise me much here. Also, the notes that the movie ends on are some pretty interesting ones that you wouldn’t quite see in something that’s as slightly aimed towards kids as this is (ideas about sacrificing thousands of fellow soldiers for the almighty “win”, risking anything and everything, etc.), but then it also seems to just straggle those ideas out, in a way to make us realize the actual tension this story is supposed to be creating. It never materials to much, other than just a bunch of smart ideas, that probably would have been better, used in a far less-messy movie. Not to say that it’s all pretty crappy, but once things begin to get heavy, then the weight of the actual story itself begins to crush all of the fun and life that’s trying to get-out.

Perhaps though, the most interesting aspect surrounding this movie is the handling of its lead character, Ender, a character whom, from what I’ve heard, isn’t the most likable protagonist in the world. I can definitely see that too, because while the kid definitely seems like his heart may be in the right place with certain decisions made here and there, somehow, there’s this under-lining sense of sociopathic behavior to be found and that comes out quite a few times in this movie. It’s not fully fleshed-out to where it provides a huge inner-issue for Ender, but is seen on occasion and makes you think that maybe he’s a bit of a nut-job that not only shouldn’t be the head of the military-force, but also shouldn’t be allowed to walk the same streets as regular-day citizens like you or I.

"Yes, I had a hard night of partying the other night. Anyway, moving on...."

“Yes, I did in fact “party hard” the other night. MOVING ON!!”

That’s why it seems like this character would be terribly unlikable, but he actually isn’t. Which, in a sense, is more of a credit to Asa Butterfield’s acting, rather than the way the movie portrays him, because while the kid definitely seems to be a bit of stuck-up arse that needs to always get things right, he’s not necessarily a “bad” kid, that does bad things, for bad reasons; he’s just a kid who has been thrown into a situation that he wasn’t expecting, but is more than willing to give a try. Butterfield is good here and shows that he could definitely grow-up into some real, leading-man potential in the next couple of years, but it’s mainly the character of Ender that keeps us watching this kid, all because we don’t know who he’s going to humiliate next, or who he’s going to mouth-off to either.

Like Butterfield, everybody else is good, too, it’s just that they are given some pretty shaky dialogue to work with that I don’t even Daniel Day himself would be able to handle (that’s a joke, of course he would, he’s Daniel freakin’ Day-Lewis for gosh sakes!). Harrison Ford tries, but can’t help but give a one-note performance as the Colonel who believes in Ender so much, that he’s able to growl for him whenever necessary; Viola Davis shows up for a few scenes to show that she has “humanity” because she doesn’t want these kids tested, but is basically told to “take that crap elsewhere”; Hailee Steinfeld shows that she has potential as a leading-lady in the future, but is given a lot of jargon to say and none of it really makes sense, so it would be kind of hard to decide whether or not she’s good here, based solely on that; and Ben Kingsley shows up with a whole bunch of face-tattoos that make Mike Tyson look like a wuss, and doesn’t do much here either. Nice to see him and Ford share the same screen though, even if all they do is deliver exposition when they’re around one another. A damn shame passing up an opportunity like that when you have two great talents in the same room. A damn shame.

Consensus: There may be a very strange demographic that this movie is for, but Ender’s Game can’t quite figure who or what that is, so instead, gives us all the special-effects, action, sci-fi elements and social-messages it can possibly handle, but doesn’t do much to really build towards anything that could be deemed “exciting”.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Ask anybody in a galaxy far, far away from here, they'll tell who not to mess with."

“Stand-up straight when I’m talking to you, boy! Chewie would have!”

Photo’s Credit to:

Cutie And The Boxer (2013)

Art and love, for some reason, don’t always mix.

Meet Ushio and Noriko Shinohara: They’re both artists, they’re both married, and they’re both in love with one another. However, both sides feel different about all three of these aspects of their lives. Although, there is one common conclusion they can come together on: They’re struggling and living in poverty. And yes, it does suck. However, they both try to get through this as best as they can by creating art, holding shows, trying to get any bidder who’d be willing to throw away their money on one of Ushio’s infamous “boxing portraits” and eventually pay their rent, that’s already long over-do. It’s a hard life that these two have, but they live it together and through what we see of Noriko’s own art that she’s trying to get noticed, is that it’s always been an uphill-battle with Ushio. There are some very dark aspects surrounding Ushio’s past-life that we find out about, through himself, as well as Noriko, and we also begin to realize what sort of effect those dark problems have had on their child, Alex.

It should be of no surprise to anyone that, even in the 21st Century, making an honest living as an artist is a lot harder than it looks. Not only do you have to find a way to bring something new to the table that hasn’t already been done before, but you have to get the right exposure from all sorts of the right people. Thanks to the internet that we are so blessed with to have nowadays, it’s a lot easier for artists to get recognition and money for what it is that they create, but it’s still hard and it’s only going to get harder. We even see a scene early on in which both Ushio and Noriko try their damn near hardest to “sell” a potential buyer on one of their most unique paintings, yet, come-up short, all because it doesn’t hold any sort of “cultural significance”. Just goes to show you that being an artist can blow sometimes, but when you’re trying to get money for it, it’s probably easier to not even bother.

I could only imagine the type of "art" Bernard Hopkins or Butterbean would create.

I could only imagine the kind of “art” Bernard Hopkins or Butterbean would create.

However, one of the best aspects behind this documentary isn’t that it’s trying to make some long-lasting statement about the modern-state of art or how artists from all-over-the-world should be noticed, praised and given money; it’s more of a long-lasting statement about the most universal aspects a person can have in life: Love. And what comes with every love, is a story about the love itself – how it began, how it felt, how it carried-on throughout the thick and thin and, in some cases, how it still stands to this day. That’s why when you see and hear a love story like the one of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, you can’t help but get that warm-feeling in the pit of your stomach, but realize that love itself is one of the most powerful feelings one can have in their life and how, no matter what type of hoops and loops that said love may go through, the feeling never goes away.

Yes, I know, I know, I know! This is all beginning to sound quite like my Her review, but whereas that was a fictional movie about a man and his operating system falling in love and sharing life with one another, this one’s a true story about two aging-artists that still seem to love one another, but both have very, VERY different ideas about that love, and it’s all the better because of that. But for instance, whereas Ushio believes that his love with Noriko is one built up on a friendship and understanding that will never go away; Noriko is sort of the opposite. Norkio feels like she can be trapped by how much Ushio has caused strife in her life and holds plenty of resentment towards him for that. Sure, she loves him with all her heart, but there are some parts of that heart that makes her wish that she may have had taken a few different paths along the way.

Speaking of that path, we actually do get to see plenty of it in her art, which not only shows us the early part of her life where she met Ushio, fell in love with him, had his baby, got married to him and found herself in absolute debt most of the time, but also her current, day-to-day feelings about how she wants to make a name for herself, and not simply known as “Ushio Shinohara’s wife”. Though the movie could have easily painted her as something of a villainous figure that has it out for her dear, old hubby, day in and day out, it does exactly the opposite. In fact, we probably sympathize with her, more than we do with Ushio, but we also still see the traits that make them who they are when they’re alone, as well as when they’re with one another. We also get to see a lot of what Noriko has been through in her life with Ushio and how, no matter how many times her husband may think differently, there will still continue to be problems, just as much as there had been in the past. This could have easily made this a very sad documentary that painted this couple’s lives together as a uneventful, poverty-stricken existence, but doesn’t do so and shows that their love for one another, as well as the art that they create, does give them plenty of happiness to get through the day.

And in some cases, may even help them pay the rent.

Don't tell Ushio this, but I think his wifey-poo may be a bit of a better artist. Just saying.....

Don’t tell Ushio this, but I think his wifey-poo may be a bit of a better artist than he is. Just saying…..

That’s pretty much all that this documentary really talks about, although I must say, it does it quite well. We see these two as lovers and, on occasion, as artists. In fact, I wished that they would have shed more insight into the art that these two create, like for instance, how and why Ushio himself came-up with the idea of creating art by punching a blank-canvas with painted boxing-gloves. It seemed like an interesting form in which somebody would actually create “art”, but it’s never explained; rather, we see more about how much of a drunk he was, causing emotional and financial problems for both he and Noriko. Which is fine considering that it’s the main arch of the story, I just wish there had been a few more bits of insight into how this art makes Ushio who is today, or who he was back in the days when he was odd and mysterious, but also still well-known.

Maybe these are small gripes with the film because at the end of the day, this documentary really is the story behind Ushio and Noriko Shinohara: Their love, their lives and their passions. While you do get an idea that there was plenty of footage left on the cutting-room floor, what we still get to see here is a couple that made it through hell, came back, went through some more hell, and came back once again, only to get a smaller-version of that place they were previously at. Yes, it all sounds so sad, mopey and a tad bit depressing, but they have love and adoration for one another, and if anything, that’s what keeps them going the most in life.

Consensus: Without trying too hard to try and make any huge statement about the current-state of the art world, Cutie and the Boxer keeps it straight and narrow to the story of both Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, two people who clearly love one another, but also have a checkered-past, that can bring out plenty of sadness, as well as happiness. Just like love itself, folks.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

For any annoyed house-wife who has just wanted to let their hubby "have it".

Pretty sure that this is how plenty of housewives must feel towards their husbands on a day-to-day basis.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus (2013)

Cactus’ are pretty much useless, except for when you want to trip mad balls.

Snobbish, college-grad Jamie (Michael Cera) travels all the way to Chile for one reason, and for one reason only: To find a famed cactus that contains hallucinogenic material. It’s definitely something that Jamie feels excited for, and can’t wait to tell everybody about it. However, at a party one night, he may have told the wrong person when he meets a fellow-American named Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann). Crystal Fairy is a bit of a free-spirit who goes her own way and doesn’t care too much about the little things; which also just so happens to be the exact opposite of who Jamie is and he lets her know about it, and somewhere amid the conversation, accidentally informs and somewhat invites her to come along on this trip with him and a few Chilean friends of his. But Jamie doesn’t think much about it, all up until he actually gets a call from her saying that she’s ready-to-go. Many times on this trip, Jamie considers dropping her off somewhere along the way and practically abandoning her, but his friends think that’s not the cool thing to do. So, Crystal Fairy stays with these guys as they look for this cactus where she preaches, meditates, puts rocks in their drinks and gets them to open-up just a tad bit; all of which Jamie doesn’t like and thus why he butts heads with her the most.

He loves that cactus, man. No, I mean, he reaaaaaaally loves that cactus.

He loves that cactus, man. No, I mean, he reaaaaaaally loves that cactus.

You can just tell when a movie was clearly made all because the cast and crew had some time, money and ideas on their hands. Nothing wrong with that really, because I feel like any and all directors would love to be at that point in their career where they can just “do” a movie, all for craps and giggles. However, the only problem may be is that it almost feels a bit too much like they just don’t care and are doing it just to do it (looking at you, Sandler).

But, like I said before, making a movie just because, isn’t always a bad thing, as you can tell that there’s clearly a lot of talent and effort involved, so why not? And there’s the great aspect behind Crystal Fairy: It may be a minor movie, but it somehow works wonders without even seeming like it’s trying to. Writer/director/co-star Sebastián Silva clearly just came-up with this movie on the top of his head and it actually makes this movie feel like a realistic-look at a bunch of people that just want to go out onto the beach, drink some cactus fluid and trip insanely. Of course that premise alone could make for a pretty boring movie, but there’s something naturalistic to this whole movie to where it feels like you are actually watching these guys go out on a road-trip, only to be screwed over by the utter-presence of a female.

And while it’s clear that Silva definitely didn’t think this whole film through to where it’s perfectly-written down to the last character-arch, the situations and discussions he gives his character’s to deal with, all feel fully-realized and are ripe with a lot of interesting ideas. Though most of that ideas don’t come together as perfectly in the abrupt ending, for the most part, the movie’s funny without being over-bearing; dramatic without being ham-handed; and slightly compelling, without trying to throw too many turns and twists at us.

In other words, it’s just like real life. Except this time, real life that takes place in Chile, where all young people want to do is get a wild trip.

Speaking of these young people, they are all pretty fine, even though the two highlights in this cast are clearly both Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffmann who both show that those cute, adorable child roles they had all of those years back, are all but long ways back in the distance. We’re always so used to seeing Cera playing the awkward, twitchy and nervous guy who never finishes his sentences and doesn’t quite know how to talk to girls, let alone anyone for that matter, but here, he’s definitely a bit changed-up in terms of what who his character is. Jamie, for lack of a better word, is a dick – he’s the type of guy you probably met in high-school that offended you one day and you never talked to him again, and your life was never changed because of it because he’s so unpleasant to be around. He always picks people apart, says dumb things to make himself seem “cool” and just does not know how to be a nice guy, which could have been terribly annoying to watch, but Cera’s good with it. He shows us that there may be some attractive-features to this guy and his personality, but so far, from what we see, there isn’t many. But Cera’s good with this role and shows that he is a bit more versatile than what his previous, ten or twelve roles may have you think.

That's all I'm going to show you.....pervs.

That’s all I’m going to show you…..pervs.

But the real stand-out here is Gaby Hoffmann who has been making quite a splash as of late showing up in these adult roles, where you’ll have to rub your eyes maybe once or twice and think, “Is that really the little girl from Field of Dreams? And even Uncle Buck? Whaaaaaat?” Especially here, considering she gets full-on naked quite a few times in this movie, but isn’t done in a gratuitous or manipulative way for her to show us that she’s an adult now, with “things”; it’s done to give us the impression that Crystal Fairy truly is everything she claims to be, if not more. Now, to be honest, I know plenty of people out there in my life that are exactly like this gal, and while I always find myself somehow drawn to them, they always seem to get on my nerves when push comes to love, man. That’s why, when I first met Crystal Fairy here, I couldn’t help but side with everything Jamie was saying: She looked, dressed and acted weird, as if she was all doing it for the attention of others. However, as time went on, I began to see that Jamie was in fact “the weird one”, and really liked how open Crystal Fairy was as a person, and how she didn’t really hide herself from these people she just met. Hoffmann is fun to watch on-screen, not because she gets nakey quite an awful lot of times, but because she brings a lot of energy to the film, which is why when she’s not around, you can feel the movie sort of deflate. But when she does show up, she more than makes it a time to remember, and that’s all I’d like to say about that.

While some of you may think I’m being slight and a bit vague, there isn’t much more to this movie than that. It’s basically just a bunch of people, on the road, who do have a destination and run into some fun, wacky situations along that way. Most of them are entertaining, and others are quite inspired, but that’s pretty much it. It won’t change your life, it won’t have you remembering much after watching it, nor will it ever crack anybody’s “Top 10 Lists” (I actually don’t think it did), but it’s a nice piece of film that goes to show you that you don’t need a lot of big bucks to make a simple, but entertaining movie. All you need is a little time, talent and energy to want to make something.

Consensus: May be a slight feature altogether, but Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus is an alright watch, if solely to see what else it is that Gaby Hoffmann and Michael Cera can do, now that they’re all grown-up, primed and ready for whatever Hollywood throws at them.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Yo guys, you feel that yet? Like, a burning sensation in my pan...I mean, brain!"

“Yo guys, you feel that yet? Like, a burning sensation in my pan…I mean, brain!”

Photo’s Credit to:

The Book Thief (2013)

WWII occurring right outside your window? That’s okay! Get away from it all through reading!

Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) is just a young girl when her brother dies, and her mother runs-out on her. Sucks, but at least she has two foster parents, Hans and Rosa (Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush) that are more than willing to take her in, take care of her, look after her and make sure that she follows their rules, as if she was their own child. Hans takes more of a liking to Liesel than Rosa, but that’s only because the latter’s a bit of a meanie and doesn’t take anybody’s crap, but she does mean well. After much time, Liesel eventually gets used to her new surroundings where she gains a new friend, Rudy (Nico Liersch), and actually becomes quite involved with reading and stealing books, all because this was during the Nazi-Germany era, and books were considered “wrong”. And since this was Nazi-Germany, that also means that plenty of Jewish people were usually captured, taken away and put “somewhere” they had no clue of, nor did anybody else around them. This is when Liesel meets the runaway Jew that Liesel’s family is hiding (Ben Schnetzer), whom she actually strikes up a friendship with. But being that this is in and around the time of the war, things weren’t always so smooth and relaxed in Germany, and more often than not, Liesel and her foster-parents run into a bit of problems with the paranoid law.

"Ugh! Like you're so annoying, blond-haired German boy!"

“Ughz! Like you’re so annoying, blond-haired German boy!”

Oh, and before I forget to not even mention this, the whole story is somewhat narrated by what is supposed to be considered “Death”, but is also voiced by the highly-entertaining Roger Allam. I tell you this because not only is it the most appropriate usage of voice-narration I have ever heard, but it’s also one of the many reasons why this movie isn’t that good. Not meaning that it’s total and utter “Oscar-bait” , and nothing more, but do know that there is a reason why this movie was released around Thanksgiving, is about the WWII, features a lot of talk about the Holocaust and even has a score by John Williams.

I mean, come on people! It’s obvious that this just has every ingredient for the recipe that is “Oscar-bait”! However, it isn’t terrible, and here’s why:

It’s pretty clear what this movie set-out to do right from the beginning: Put a human-face on those who were on the side of the Germans during WWII. We rarely ever see this in movies, but when we do, it’s usually by a German film company, or some low-budget, independent production that wants to get their message out, clear and fair. However, this is a pretty big-budget flick, with some heavy-hitters involved with it, so you can definitely be curious about how director Brian Percival handles this material; and for the most part, he does some good things. But then again though, he also does some very bad things that truly do ruin this movie from being a little bit better in hindsight.

What I liked the most about Percival’s direction is that he definitely gets into the eyes and mind of our protagonist, Liesel. Not only does she not fully see the real, actual horrors that are going on all around her, but she refuses to really accept them for what it is that they really are. That’s why when you see little kids like her, her friend Rudy and countless others, all “heiling Hitler” because it’s what their “parents told them to do”, it’s a bit sad. Yes, it’s a no-brainer that kids are influenced by what it is that they see elders around them do and preach as “being the correct thing to do”, but it’s a bit more disconcerting when those kids in fact are from Germany, and are being influenced by elders that are, from what we usually see, Nazis.

And most of the time when Percival is getting right down to being what his movie is about and painting this little village in the heart of Nazi-Germany as something out of a fairy-tale, as if it all played inside of Liesel’s head, it’s somewhat interesting. It’s still a kids movie that has more for the adults, than it could possibly have for them, however, it’s smart in some of the directions it takes and why. But then comes the bad moments when this movie does in fact realize it’s about a war-torn Nazi-Germany, when everybody was in fear of if they were going to get suspected next of some evil, wrong-doing that would label them as a “Communist”, and have them go away for a long, long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that seeing this so many times in countless other movies makes this seem a bit “boring”, because that’s just wrong, but I will say that it definitely didn’t have me reeling with emotions like those countless other movies have. There’s plenty of ham-handed moments in which the movie tries to make a political-statement; and then at other times, tries to discuss the reality of humanity, and what lengths one will go to ensure it stays the moral; and then, lastly, there’s always that crutch of making this a crowd-pleasing, easy-going movie for the whole family to see, despite it also being around and during one of the more disturbing periods of any country, let alone Germany. I get the fact that it’s a PG-13 movie that’s trying it’s hardest not to offend or fully scare anybody half to death with the images they could have definitely gone so far as showing, but there seemed to be too much sugar-coating here, and less actual “realism” thrown into the proceedings.

"And the cow j-j-j-jumped over the-the-the moon...."

“And the cow j-j-j-jumped over the-the-the moon….”

And on top of that, the movie just juggles too much, that by the end, when the whole “gotcha!” ending does happen, you won’t be able to find yourself caring too much. That’s not to discredit the actors in this movie at all either, especially since they are all fine with what they’re given, no matter how small or big. Geoffrey Rush feels fun, full-of-life and vibrant as Hans, the type of guy that wouldn’t quite work-out fully as a daddy, but is a nice enough guy to charm even the blackest of holes; one of those “blackest of holes”, also just so happens to be Emily Watson’s Rosa, who is a bit of a hard-ass, but still heartfelt enough to see that she really does care and support others when they need it the most; and child-actress Sophie Nélisse does a relatively nice job as Liesel, especially considering that a lot of this movie depends on her to have a wide-range in which she has to go from happy and joyful, to absolutely scared, at the drop of a hat. She’s not always good, but she’s a kid, so I’ll give her time where time is due.

Anyway, like I was saying, it’s not all their faults, because they’re all fine and dandy; it’s just that when the movie ends, there doesn’t seem to be much learned, thought-of or even point to the whole proceedings. Yes, I am sure that there were plenty of German citizens that felt awfully terrible during this time of war, but what else is there to that? Not much else, and you’ll probably be wondering if this movie ever really needed to be made, or if made, made with a stronger, more compelling heart at the center of it, cause quite frankly, a family movie isn’t going to fully cut-it when it comes to a story like this. Then again, I didn’t read the book, so what do I know? No seriously, somebody tell me. I need all the help I can get!

Consensus: Some interesting and rather compelling choices were made on the behalf of the Book Thief to give it that extra “oomph” it so clearly needs to be more than just another story about Nazi-Germany, the Holocaust and WWII, all played to the fine tuneage of Mr. John Williams himself.

5 / 10 = Rental!!


Obviously took place before the arrival of the iPad.

Photo’s Credit to:

In a World… (2013)

Make sure to say the title the right way and don’t be such a boob.

The world of the voice-acting isn’t one that’s been particularly kind to women in the past, and for the most part, never will seem to be. However, Carol Solomon (Lake Bell) wants to change that once and for all, although it may be a tad bit difficult with her dad being the famous, highly-acclaimed Sam Soto (Fred Melamed). But, like I said before, Carol is inspired to be the first ever woman to ever narrate a trailer and she will make sure that she gets that chance, even though her father, as well as her father’s protege (Ken Marino), may sometimes get in the way of her dream. Also, Carol’s sister, Dani (Michaela Watkins), has her own dilemma of sorts, but with her marriage to Moe (Rob Corddry) and how she can’t seem to swat-away the over-bearing feelings of philandering around with this Irish guy who continues to keep on flirting with her. And yet, another story also happens to be around here in which Carol may possibly have a new boyfriend in Louis (Demetri Martin), one of the dudes who is making her dream possible. Or at least something close to that.

It’s hard to hate on a movie that’s as pleasant and joyful as this, because while there are many faults to be found here, they all mean well. For instance, one of the problems that I have with Lake Bell’s direction here is that not only does she seem to carry too much weight, even for her directorial-debut, but she doesn’t quite know what point or “message” to end on when the story’s supposedly all said, done and over with. However though, I can’t hate on that aspect too much, as each and every idea of a story that she tries to cram in here, do actually work; and in other ways, they actually add more to the movie’s overall charm that’s easy-to-like and enjoy.

They're one pair of Chuck Taylor's away from being "full-on hipster".

They’re just one pair of Chuck Taylor’s away from being “full-on hipster”.

Thus, there’s my dilemma of sorts with this movie: While at times it definitely seems to be a sweet and entertaining piece of Hollywood-fiction, it still doesn’t know how it wants to say anything that is on its mind. Maybe I’m looking a bit too far into this movie than I possibly should be, but I can only allow myself to smile for so long, up until I finally realize that there is some nastiness at the bottom of the barrel, and I found some of that here. Even despite it being made with, once again, good intentions.

Anyway though, I could rant, and rave, and go on and on and on and on about this movie without really getting anywhere, so let me try and keep my mind at ease here and get down to the basics of this movie.

For her first time not just behind the director’s chair, but behind the writer’s, as well as the producer’s, Lake Bell does an alright job at keeping up the pace with this flick to make sure that it doesn’t linger on anything too heavy, for too long, as well as not trying to be too funny, for too many instances. She actually seems like she knows a thing or two about how to give us a good gag, and have it continue on throughout the whole movie, without ever seeming like it’s already been done-to-death. For example, Demetri Martin’s character is a very nervous, twitchy guy that always ends-up saying the wrong things, at the wrong time to Bell’s character, and gives us the idea that he really likes her, but doesn’t want to seem too weird or forward with the feelings he’s trying to get across. We’ve seen this idea done a million other times, in many other comedies out there in the world, but here, it feels fresh, vibrant and fun every time it pops-up, as if Bell herself knew what people would expect with a character who’d be written like this, so she decided to spice things up a bit.

But Martin’s character isn’t the only one she does that – she practically does this for each and every character that shows up here. Even down to the smallest, tiniest role, we get a sense that Bell actually took some time out of her busy day, to give us rich, well-written and charming characters that could be the same type of people either you or I would meet at a party someday. A lot of this credit goes to the cast, but it also goes to Bell as well for at least making sure that nobody is put to waste here, nor really as one-dimensional as they could have been in a lesser movie. These characters are also the main reasons why most of this comedy works, and keeps on surprising, even at what seem to be the most random moments.

Though, like I just said, most of this comes down to what the cast is able to do with these small, unimportant characters – all of whom seemed to be in Lake Bell’s mind the first day she took her pen to a piece of paper. Even for the character she herself plays, Carol, the type of slightly off-kilter, yet smart and witty girl that we usually see movies done about, but never as charming as she is done here. I don’t know if Bell meant to do this on purpose, as to give her a role in which everybody would see the talent she truly is and was never able to show before in the numerous supporting roles she’s done, but either way, it works for her and it works for this movie. She’s funny, sweet, kind and a bit of a smart-ass when she needs to be, but only to the people that deserve it, and it makes us feel a lot more for her, even when it seems like Hollywood, as well as everybody is working against her and her voice.

I don't blame her for not being able to see that huge, silver tape-recorder located right near he right-eye.

Whatever it is that’s on that computer-screen must really grab her attention away from the big, silver block tape-recorder near her right eye.

The rest of her family-unit is pretty solid, too, with wonderful character actor Fred Melamed getting a lot of moments to shine as the cocky, slightly arrogant father that thinks he is better than anybody, all because he’s been in the business for so damn long. While he would definitely seem like the type of guy you’d automatically hate in any other movie, he’s actually very charming here and sometimes, even seems like, at one time, he was a really nice guy that loved his wife, his kids and his whole family, but has been through this hard-hitting business-world we know as Hollywood, and it’s taken quite a toll on him so far. Even the actress who plays his much-younger, strange girlfriend, Alexandra Holden, doesn’t seem like the type of annoying, obviously idiotic gold digger we tend to see a lot in these movies depicting a relationship between an older, famous guy, and a younger gal; she actually wants him to reach-out towards his kids and as a result, be a better man that she can be proud of being with in the future.

And even Carol’s sister isn’t all that bad either, it’s just that her story may be the weakest one here, and practically expendable. However, Michaela Watkins is good, as well as Rob Corddry, as they both get a chance to show that they can actually act and emote quite well when they want to. But there’s plenty more where that came from along the likes of Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Ken Marino, and even surprise cameo’s from both Geena Davis and Eva Longoria, with the latter even going so far as to portray herself in a light that’s actually a bit mean. But hey, she’s the one who’s doing it, so it’s not that bad, right? I guess not! Good for her! Tony Parker should be sad.

Consensus: May not stay in your mind long after it’s over, but considering how much love, fun and pleasure went into making this, I don’t think that will bother anybody who decides to check-out In a World…, especially if they want to see just who this “Lake Bell person” is all about.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

If only Lake Bell let her beard grow-out and maybe then I'd be able to buy into the notion that they're biological father and daughter.

If only Lake Bell let her beard grow-out and maybe then I’d be able to buy into the notion that they’re biological father and daughter.

Photo’s Credit to:

Top 10 of 2013

Hey everybody!

So, as you all know, it’s the new year (or at least, it has been for the past three weeks), which also means that we have to say “buh bye” to the one that has just past; which, in this case, was the wonderful year of 2013. At first, it started-off a bit sketchy with some months that didn’t have much quality in it, but once the summer hit, things began to look up and by the end of the year, I was absolutely soaked, head-to-toe, in some very good, very awesome movies. Definitely a great year for my life, as well as for my life in movies (and yes, they are two separate things), and one that I will truly not, no matter how brain-cells I accidentally kill, ever forget.

But enough of my yacking! Here’s the list you’ve all been waiting for:

10. Star Trek Into Darkness

 Not a lot of people liked this, but I for one absolutely had as great of a time with this, as I did with the first four years ago. Not only were the emotions from the first enhanced here, but it actually felt like we were really working onto something big, adventurous and, especially with the inclusion of Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch himself, a hell of a lot more epic. Also, goes to show us that J.J. Abrams will be more than able to handle himself, as well as the Star Wars franchise. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t prove us wrong.

9. Inside Llewyn Davis


I know, I know, I know! Before any of you say anything about this being a bit of a “cheat”, I just want to let you know that I am fully aware that this was ranked as a “Matinee!!” for me, and yet, is still in my Top 10, as well as ranked-higher than a movie that scored a “Full Price!!” from me. But here’s the reason why: The more and more I think about this movie, the more I love it. No, not just because I have sweet, sweet memories of the time that star Oscar Isaac and yours truly had a grand old time a the Ritz Five, but because this is something that the Coen Brothers have ever done before, and yet, it works out so perfectly for them. It’s heart-warming, soft, funny, a tad sweet, small, and rather brutally honest in its depiction of how sometimes, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have the talent, nor the passion to do what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life, because sometimes, life just may not turn-out so well for you. That’s not just being a pessimist, that’s just being a realist and I am glad that the Coens tapped into this idea, no matter how light and playful the rest of the flick may be.

8. This is the End


Possibly, if not is, my favorite full-on comedy of the year. Maybe the fact that I am huge fan of just about everybody in this movie is why I loved it so much more than some others out there, but so be it if that is a fact! I had a great time feeling like I was hanging around with these guys, making jokes, acting dumb, doing strange things and best of all, trying to survive the end of the world. Not only was it hilarious-as-hell, but actually pretty damn entertaining when it got into the whole “action”-aspect of its story, without making it just an after-thought. Goes to show you that you can still have plenty of laughs and star-power for your big-budget, R-rated comedy, but you can also have everything else that makes a movie even more fun. Including the Backstreet Boys. Wow. How awesome was that? I mean, really?!?!

7. Captain Phillips 


By far the best thriller of the year. It’s no shock to the common-person that Paul Greengrass knows how to rack-up tension, but lord in heaven did this get my heart racing! Even though most out there did know what was going to happen at the end, it didn’t matter. Greengrass always found a way to add on something new to the story to give you an extra jolt or two, just for the heck of it, but it wasn’t done in a manipulative way (in a way that I didn’t respect Argo, but that’s a different discussion, for a different year). And also, even though he was wrongfully snubbed this year for Best Actor, Tom Hanks damn-well deserved it; not just for what he does throughout the movie, which is still great, but what he gives us to chew-on in those final minutes. Without spoiling it, he shows us sides to his acting-ability that, I for one, have never seen him utilize before and found a way to spin a beautiful, heart-warming moment, into something rather disturbing. Goes to show us that somebody who is considered “one of the best actors working today”, truly is just that.

6. Blackfish


Yet again, here’s another amazing work-of-art that was unjustly snubbed by the Oscars this year, but in a far different category, with even more controversy surrounding it. Everybody thinks that SeaWorld is this big, bright and beautiful place where the whales get to do fancy and neat little tricks with their loving-trainers joining in the fun as well. However, the painful truth that this documentary shines a light on is that what you see in front of your eyes, isn’t what’s usually happening behind the closed-curtains. In fact, these killer whales are being downright tortured from day one and it only continues to happen, even now as we speak. However, what makes this documentary such a novelty is that it does what all documentaries should do: Change a common-notion that the rest of society has. And with all of these bands and celebrities talking-out against the theme-park, it seems like an action may be taken. If not now, then definitely sometime in the near-future. Let’s just hope it happens before it’s not too late.

5. American Hustle


Though it definitely wasn’t a perfect movie, and O. Russell’s direction more than just simply “copied” Scrorsese’s sense-of-style, it was still one of the better, more entertaining-times I had at the movies this year. Mainly though, that’s attributed to the ensemble who all, even down to the smallest, most measly role, is pitch-perfect. Bale, Renner, Adams, and even a special cameo from a special person I won’t give away, are all great, but for me, the real stand-outs were Cooper and Lawrence. Hopefully both get the Oscars they’re more than just deserving of receiving, but that they continue to go down the path that they’re on, because they’re exciting talents to watch and see what happens next with them.

4. Blue Is The Warmest Color


All dirty jokes that you know that I am more than willing to deliver, aside, this movie is pretty freakin’ romantic. Not only does it capture what it’s like to experience new, and in ways, a “first love”, but to experience all of the exciting, new possibilities that come along with it. It’s all told and shown to us in a believable way that doesn’t leave much to imagination, but also doesn’t shy-away from giving us the brutal, raw and unrelenting feelings that come along with love, and how, for one second, you could feel like you’re on the top of the world, and then, the next second, feel like that said world is crashing down all around you. It’s heart-breaking to watch, but for anybody who has ever experienced the same thing in their life, it’s damn-near soul-crushing. Add on the fact that 20-year-old lead Adèle Exarchopoulos gives the best female performance of the year, but is also so believable as a young, blissful woman just wanting to experience love, life and everything else that comes along with it. Even the painful, sad things as well. Then again though, that’s life. You learn, you move on and you start all over again.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street


In case you’ve been living under a rock for, I don’t know, say the past month or so, there’s been an awful-lot made about this movie; most of which is deserved, but at the same time, doesn’t matter. Either way, it didn’t bother me as for each and every single moment of this near-three hour movie, I had an absolute great time. Marty Scorsese shows us why, even at age 71, should not be counted-out as one of the greatest directors of all-time, as he not only slows down for a single second, but throws just about every piece of coke, sex, drugs, hookers, sex, money, debauchery, greed, and more sex that he can even possibly think of. It’s entertaining to watch, and even though it is, sadly, all true-to-point, it also feels like Scorsese himself is still not fully on-board with these guys, despite what other critics have been saying. Also, it should be mentioned that, even though he won’t get it, Leo deserves, yet again, deserves an Oscar for what he does as Jordan Belfort. Not for just making this guy the least bit of a likable, charismatic character to watch, but for pulling-out all of the stops with this role and showing us, that even despite him acting and giving us great performances, year after year, that he’s still able to surprise us and show us his wide-range. Somebody just give him a damn Oscar already! I mean, seriously!?!?!?!

2. Her


Took me awhile to actually get a chance and see it, but gosh, was it ever so worth the wait! It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a huge Spike Jonze fan, but just when I thought he couldn’t possibly surprise me anymore, he does just that. Though the premise of a man falling in love with his operating-system isn’t the most normal romance we’ve ever seen brought to screen, Jonze somehow finds a way to make it all believable, giving us a glimpse at two living, feeling and emoting beings that just want to live life, be loved and feel as if they have a reason to exist in this world. But through this relationship, and in the way that it develops over time into some very surprising places, Jonze is able to channel honest-to-God, insightful observations about what constitutes a romance and the motions that two people go through when they are in one. At times, it can be hilarious to watch, but at other times, it can be painfully sad. However, at the end of the day, it still feels like the type of romance that will have you looking deep on the inside, thinking of all the romances you’ve had in the past and how, regardless of whether or not they’ve been considered “eventful”, they’re still connections you’ve shared with a fellow human-being, and in ways, may have even shaped you to be the person you are today. Beautiful stuff right there, but it’s also very true. So get out there and continue making human-connections, you sad-sacks!

1. Before Midnight


It’s been quite some time since the last time we saw everybody’s favorite star-crossed, Jesse and Celine, together (Nine years, to be exact), and getting the chance to see them, finally, together once again, was something one film-lover needed to see. And while the circumstances of their being together was in fact surprising, it was even more shocking to see that time hasn’t really done much damage to either of these two. However, things do start to spin out of control and what is definitely one of my favorite scenes of the year, we are treated (or “punished”, depending on how you look at it) to what seems to be the one, romantic-getaway these two are finally getting to have with one another, that starts off beautiful and sweet at first, and then gets downright brutal, mean, sadistic and heart-thrashing. Many truths are unearthed, some brutal ones to say, and right in front of our eyes, we watch as one of cinema’s favorite screen-couples in the past two decades, actually seem like they may be over, and over FOR GOOD. I won’t dare to give away what ending Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy all go with, but it’s perfect in its ambiguous way. On the surface, things seem to be a-okay, but look closer, and you’ll see a huge amount of heartbreak, pain and agony just awaiting. That’s as much as I’ll say, as this definitely deserves to be seen. Aka, my favorite film of the year that was 2013.

Well, there you have it, folks! Hope you enjoyed yourselves and liked what I had to throw out at you! Sorry if some of it was a bit more than you probably expected, but it was all coming to me in one, fell-swoop, so you must sympathize. Anyway though, I would definitely like to say thanks to all of those loyal readers, commentators and supporters who have been here for me this past year. Who knows where I’d be without you guys, and if it weren’t for you, DTMMR would have been over a long, LONG time ago. Regardless, let’s make this next year even better, shall we?

Photo’s Credit to:

Ride Along (2014)

More reasons as to why we shouldn’t trust our current police-force.

Ben (Kevin Hart) is a fast-talking, very eccentric and slightly goofy that longs for the day he gets his chance to be in the Police Academy. He thinks he is able to do so, all because of the constant video-games he plays on his XBOX, and also because his girlfriend’s brother, James (Ice Cube), also happens to be a cop, and a pretty bad-ass one at that. So if there’s any problems Ben may have, he can always count on his girl’s big bro. Then again though, no he can’t, considering that this said brother doesn’t particularly like Ben, nor even think he’s “man enough” to be the man who takes his baby sister’s hand in marriage. That’s when James gets the bright idea that he’s going to take Ben out on what the task-force calls a “ride along”l which means that the two are going to spend a whole day together where they try and solve crimes, maintain peace and basically, get done all the jobs a normal policeman would normally do. However, there is this case that’s been eating at James for quite some time and it’s starting to all make some sense to him now with Ben around, the only problem is that he may be a bit too in over his head.

Take last year’s the Heat, get rid of the two female leads, as well as their skin-color, and you have Ride Along.

Anybody else find it strange that a member of the NWA is now playing a loyal, by-the-numbers cop?

Anybody else find it strange that a member of the NWA is now playing a loyal, by-the-numbers cop?

And there you have it. That’s all there is to know about this movie and that’s all that you need to know, in order to judge whether or not you should see this flick. Personally, I like a good, old-fashioned, buddy-cop flick when it’s done right, and I thought that with the inclusion of both Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, that things would be a lot better.

However, they aren’t, they’re just mildly acceptable, which is fine, especially considering that we’re in the month of January and, as we all know, the movies released during this uneventful month usually suck terribly. While I definitely would like to say that this movie is “absolute garbage”, I can’t help but think that there were a few times that I actually laughed, and more often than not, had a nice, measly chuckle to go along with the fun as well. For me, that’s all I want in a comedy and if that’s good enough for me, then hell, I think it ought to be good enough for you.

But like I was saying before, this movie definitely isn’t great nor should it be recommended for those who are looking for something that’s going to re-invent the wheel, or even throw them a few surprises they weren’t expecting to see from something that looked as conventional as this. There are a whole bunch of twists concerning certain characters that are easy to pick out right from one of the movie’s earlier-shots; and hell, even the biggest surprise this movie may have had to offer (a cameo from a certain, well-known “someone”) is practically spoiled to us when we the person’s name pops-up in the opening-credits.

And aside from those issues, the plot doesn’t really make much of a difference, because even at an hour-and-40-minutes, the thing still does seem a bit long and lag very, VERY heavily in the middle. It actually lagged so much, that I caught myself dozing-off a few times and barely woke-up from my slumber, despite a crowd of 50-somethings laughing their assess off like hyena’s around me. Almost rarely ever happens to me, hence why I’ve took the time out of this review to make a very big note of it. May not happen to you out there, but it definitely happened to me and it reminds me why coffee comes in so much handy before these types of movies. That, or the fact that the movie itself that I am watching has to be even remotely entertaining.

I wonder why there's so much focus on these guys in the first--half of the movie............

I wonder why there’s so much focus on these guys throughout the movie…………

What’s strange though is that even though I did doze-off during this movie, which would usually kill any other one from getting even the slightest recommendation, this flick had just enough charm and energy about it to where I didn’t mind that it put me to sleep for, oh, I don’t know, say seven or eight minutes. Which means that most of the praise for this movie has to go to both Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, who seem to perfectly placed together as the type of buddy-cop duo we usually see. Cube is very stern, serious and dismissive most of the time; whereas Hart is wild, crazy, energetic, always able to have fun and even take some chances. Together, they make for a very entertaining dynamic, in which you can actually see Cube try his damn near-hardest not to crack a smile whenever Hart is around and doing his thing. And while Cube himself may not be acting his ass off or really lighting the screen-up with his charisma, he’s still fine keeping it as straight-laced as he can be, without ever seeming like a total square that doesn’t know how to have fun.

But as for Hart, the guy’s very fun to watch; although, I do have to admit that some of his screeching and hollering did get to the point of where it was over-bearing. In fact, he reminded me a lot of Chris Tucker in that way, but a lot smaller. And his size, as you could expect, does get a lot of jokes thrown at it from all ends, but Hart’s down with it enough to suck it up and let himself be on the butt-end of a joke. Actually, that’s how he practically is throughout this whole movie, constantly throwing himself everywhere and anywhere, desperately trying to get even the slightest hint of a chuckle out of the audience. Though some may see this as “annoying”, or “over-the-top”, it worked for me and showed me that when in doubt, just trust Kevin Hart to make some goofy, whiny noise to make you laugh. It may not always work and have you soiling your pants, but in the off-chance that it does work, you’ll laugh, you’ll hoot, you’ll holler and most of all, you’ll appreciate that there is a comedian like Kevin Hart out there who is more than willing to sacrifice life and limb for a laugh. Or, even a chuckle. He’ll take what he can get, run with it and leave us enjoying ourselves. True comedian, right there.

Consensus: Shouldn’t be your first, nor your second pick at the movies this weekend, but if worse comes to worse and you end up finding yourself sitting in the same theater that’s showing Ride Along, don’t be alarmed because it’s funny for what it is, without doing much else out-of-this-world. Aka, a typical January movie.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

He is from Philly, so the fact that he wouldn't be able to handle a gun correctly was just a totally unbelievable plot-point. At least for me it was.

Make a note that he knows how to hold that gun through “playing video-games”. Yup, definitely not a movie for the kids.

Photo’s Credit to:

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

In case you didn’t know, he’s an analyst.

CIA junior analyst Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) works on Wall Street in hopes that he may spot some dirty trading going on between big-time politicians and terrorist organizations, in hopes that he can stop a possible a terrorist attack if the situation calls for that. However, his latest bout of curiosity gets the best of him this time with one Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), a smart, charming and rather sinister Russian who plans on taking down the whole economy for his, as well his own Mother Russia’s self-gain. But the problem isn’t that Ryan can’t stop this, it’s that he’s not too sure about it in the first place to stop it, that’s when his superior (Kevin Costner) decides to promote him to being a field-agent. That means Jack’s going to have to do a lot more than just talking, crunching-numbers and writing some valuable information down – he’s actually going to have to kick some booty! If the situation calls for it, that is. And more than likely, the situation does call for it, however, it gets worse once Ryan’s long-time girlfriend, nurse Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), gets involved with the mission by pure accident and has to go through the same motions as her boy is going through, in hopes that she not only doesn’t get her or Jack killed, but thousands and thousands of Americans in New York.

"How ya doing, son? And to answer your question: Yes, being 58 does look this good."

“How ya doing, son? And to answer your question: Yes, being 58 does look this good.”

There’s been a lot of chatter going on about this new Jack Ryan movie and even from the very start, I knew that none of it was deserved. See, January movies have the reputation for being terribly shitty, worthless, forgettable and only released so that the major-studios can make a quick buck; and rightfully so, too, because more than often not, that has been the case. But that’s the weird dilemma that Jack Ryan finds itself in: Should it have moved its release-date to being placed in the dreaded month of January, in which everybody is practically playing “Oscar catch-up”? Or, should it have tried to stick it out on Christmas Day like it was originally intended to be?

Well, to be honest, I can’t answer that question because, as we all know, there’s higher-powers out there in Hollywood that manage this type of stuff and no way in hell are any of them going to listen to a 20-year-old blogger, who is currently typing this now as we speak, in a Heisenberg T-shirt and polka-dot boxers. So yeah, obviously I have no say or pull, but it still brings up a big question nonetheless: Do all January movies have to be so shitty?

The answer is a resounding “no”; and I think that Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is definitely going to turn-over a new leaf in hopes that we at least get a bit better-quality movies in the month in which time pretty much forgets about (especially for movie-goers).

Anyway, all of that business-talk aside, there is a movie to discuss here and like I hinted towards earlier, it’s not as bad as people are making it out to be, based solely on its release-date and rather vague trailers. And to be honest, yes, they weren’t all that promising to begin with but I knew that deep down in my heart, with the talent involved here, that I wasn’t going to be let-down. Because, let’s face it, each and every one of us were surprised by the fact that not only was Thor a pretty good movie, but it was a pretty good action movie. Better yet, make that pretty good action movie, directed by none other than Mr. Kenneth Branagh himself. Seemed very strange at the time, but in hindsight, it surprisingly worked in the way that a superhero movie, let alone a Marvel superhero movie needed to: It was fun, quick, punchy, humorous and had all of the drama only a dignified Shakespeare-thespian could fully understand.

Like we all know though, Branagh didn’t return for the sequel, which meant that he wanted to do this and I’m glad he did because for some reason, it feels a lot more “classier” with him around. It’s not like the movie harkens back to any of those old-school, 70’s/80’s/early-90’s thrillers, but it definitely reminds you of a good, old-fashioned thriller that doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel by any means necessary, but does try to give you enough jumps, thrills, spills, chuckles and fun for the whole time you spend with it. That’s why I think Branagh, despite a few hiccups here and there along the way, gets the job done quite efficiently, without ever focusing too much on the story, or the action. We get a nice-balance between the two and makes this feel like a thriller, with some substance for anybody that may be searching for some.

Also though, it should be noted that the guy knows how to rack-up tension pretty damn well, in certain ways I didn’t even know he had the capability of. For instance, there’s this pretty nifty sequence in which Jack Ryan goes from one building to another and has to hack into a computer-system; but while he is doing this, simultaneously, Chervin is getting worked over by Ryan’s girlfriend, with a clock just tick, tick, ticking away in the background. It’s a sequence in which we know how it’s all going to end, but we don’t know how the pieces are going to fall and align together, and to watch as Branagh keeps us guessing, while on-the-edge of our seats at the same time, truly is something fun to be apart of.

Branagh also does something smart in how he’s able to get a good cast together and make something, out of nothing. Mainly, the character of Jack Ryan, who, as we all know, has never been an easy character to pull-of. For one, he’s incredibly smart and has to make you believe that he can punch, and/or yell-out numbers like it’s what he was born to do, while also assuring you that he can kick some fine booty, if the situation ever calls for it. However, as hard as that balance may be to work with, Chris Pine does a very nice job in giving us both sides to this character, without ever losing the charm that’s made him such a lovable-presence in the first place. There’s some knowing-winks here and there, and you may even get a Captain Kirk-like wisecrack or two, but altogether, Chris Pine is Jack Ryan and if the franchise was to continue on with him in the lead role, I think they’d definitely be in some safe hands.

"Excoose me, meece, but vould you vike to come back to vy humble abode and drvink some VVVVVodka with vme?"

“Excoose me, meece, but vould you vike to come back to vy humble abode and drvink some vodka with vme?”

Everybody else is pretty fun, too, although I have to still give credit to Kenneth Branagh for keeping everything small and sweet for what it was. We only get a few big characters here and there, and the rest are all window-dressing – which is all fine, considering that the heavy-hitting, big characters are played pretty-well by the cast. I’ve never seen a director cast himself as the villain in his own movie, but for what it’s worth, Branagh’s pretty fun, charming and suave, in a “I’ll kill you with a blink of my eye” kind-of-way. He’s certainly hamming it up, but it’s all in good fun, which makes it a lot easier to enjoy. Same goes for Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, who both play sides on Ryan’s end, while never making you so sure what they’re going to do next. Especially Costner who, by now, has pretty much cemented his role as the steel-faced, dead-pan guy you can call on to deliver what is basically exposition, but deliver it in such a compelling way, you’ll feel like you must need to listen. A lot of credit goes to Knightley, too, who is sadly given the role of the “annoying girlfriend who just wants love and attention from her boyfriend”, but handles it well, and in ways, gets her own chances to shine and show that she can stick-up for herself when the going gets going.

Still though: She’s no Anne Archer. Then again, no woman could ever be.

However, as much as I go on and on about this, I do have to state the fact that this is not a perfect movie by any means: there are a few times where the action gets a bit too indecipherable with all of the shaky-cam going on, and certain plot-points/twists are a bit confusing, especially to the common-ear. But in all, when it comes right down to making this a fun, action-thriller, that just so happens to be trying to catapult a new franchise onto the horizon, I have to say that I feel like we’re stepping with the right foot this time.

Now, granted, this movie could definitely bomb, and bomb BIG TIME at the box-office, almost to never be heard of again, but I for one hope that isn’t the case. If Branagh continues to direct, then I definitely don’t want this franchise to just stand and collapse with the blink of an eye; there is some nice, nifty details here and there that could definitely spin this story into some new foreign territory, in which we continue to see characters develop more, but also the action, along with the budget, get a lot wider and more expansive. Then again though, this could be all me just talking out of my arse by hoping for the best, while expecting the worst, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Consensus: Not the most memorable action-thriller involving spies you’ll ever see, but still fun, thrilling and exciting enough to make Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit a good time at the movies, as well as possibly the first of a soon-to-be franchise. Fingers crossed, people.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

I guess the Enterprise was in the shop?

I guess the Enterprise was in the shop?

Photo’s Credit to:

The Sum of All Fears (2002)

Don’t trust your government. Because apparently, they have no clue what the hell’s going on half of the time.

The new Russian President, Nemerov (Ciarán Hinds), seems like he may be giving the good ole’ boys of America a hard time. Actually, probably a lot harder than either the president (James Cromwell) or CIA director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) feel comfortable with! Apparently, a nuclear bomb that was mysteriously lost during a 1972 Israeli-Egyptian conflict, somehow finds its way back into prominence with the Russians who, in their sneaky ways, are making a secret bomb of their own. Some of it makes sense, and some of it doesn’t, but one thing’s for certain: America won’t be taking any chances with this whatsoever. This is when they decide to call in CIA Agent Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) who, having already written a book on Nemerov, seems like an expert of sorts on this type of stuff, and goes so far as to call him a “good man”. The U.S. government doesn’t agree with this and sets up defense as soon as they can. However, “as soon as they can”, may just be a little too late.

"I said, "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??!?!?!""

“I said, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??!?!?!””

Let’s not forget that this movie was released only nine months after the 9/11 attacks occurred and, in case you were born just yesterday or have been living under a rock for the past 12 years, America still hasn’t quite gotten over it. And nor should we; not only was it one of the worst travesties to happen to our country in the past hundred or so years, but it showed every citizen that yes, our country is vulnerable enough to where a couple of terrorists could actually get into planes, strapped with bombs to their chests, run those said planes into the Twin Towers and during the process, even blowing themselves, as well as everybody within a 10-feet-distance from them, up into smithereens. The images, videos, sound-bites, etc. are still shocking to this day and it has us wonder if anything as tragic like that will ever happen again to our country.

That’s why, when a movie that not just discusses the same ideas of terrorism like nukes, mass-genocide and paranoia, but even goes so far as to give us a shocking sequence in which all of Baltimore is hit by a nuclear bomb, it comes off as a bit “in poor taste”, for lack of a better term. Though some of you out there may get upset with me “spoiling” what happens about half-way through, I think it deserves to be noted because not only is it the turning-point for this movie, but it also still does the trick, even twelve years after it’s initial-release, and a little near-thirteen years after the infamous attacks themselves. It’s still shocking, it’s still brutal and, even despite some choppy-visuals here and there, still feels somewhat realistic.

Strange to think that seeing certain stuff like that in movies still gets us to this day, but so be it. That’s what happened to us on that fateful day, and for most of us, we’ll continue to be scarred till the rest of our days.

But anyway, like I was saying about how it effected this movie, because before this sequence, the movie was rather by-the-numbers. Sure, some of it had energy and intrigue added to the proceedings, but for the most part, I didn’t get what was really happening, nor did I really care. Nobody feels all that fleshed-out, with the exception of Freeman’s Cabot who, as you probably guessed, steals the show every time he shows up. Hell, even when he isn’t around, his presence can still be felt and you’ll wonder just when it is that he’ll show his lovely face again, and give us a character that we both enjoy to watch and be around, but also respect enough to where if he was in the same room as us, we’d automatically shut our traps and let him do whatever it is that he wants. He just has that type of control and prowess over a movie, which is why he was the only real reason to stick with this flick for its first-half, because everything else, is rather boring.

Then, the already-mentioned nuclear attack happens and all of a sudden: Everything in this movie is cranked-up to eleven and everybody is going absolutely ballistic. Though you could argue that this later-half of the film is as conventional and plain as the first, you can’t argue that it wasn’t entertaining to watch a bunch of heavy-hitting, grade-A character actors like Bruce McGill, Ken Jenkins, James Cromwell, and Philip Baker Hall walk around a board-room, just yelling at one another. Even if certain lines like, “It’s the Russians who did it! Nuke ’em!”, are a tad corny, they’re still fun to hear, especially when you have talented dudes like these delivering them. There’s also a stand-off between the Russian and United States government in which both presidents talk to one another through some sort of a computer-messaging system and though it may be a bit silly, it’s still suspenseful to watch and listen to. Yeah, typing on a keyboard has never been the most thrilling, nor exciting thing a movie can do, but here, it worked for me.

"Quick advice kid: Leave the heavy-lifting to me and go get drunk or something."

“Quick advice kid: Leave the heavy-lifting to me and go get drunk or something.”

However though, whenever we don’t focus on these powerful men screaming, figuring stuff out and yelling demands at one another, we focus on Jack Ryan as he ventures all throughout what rubble is left of Baltimore, which may have been exciting to watch, had Ryan’s story been all that interesting to begin with, but it isn’t. That’s not to discredit Ben Affleck too much here in the lead role, because while the guy definitely does try, the movie isn’t all that focused on him to begin with and only shines a light on him whenever necessary. I’m not saying that if you took him out of this film, it would work better, but you could probably have featured somebody awesome like Liev Schreiber’s very mysterious, yet ruthless spy in the same role, and it would have been a lot more entertaining to watch.

Then again, everybody out there in the world knows exactly who Ben Affleck is, and not Liev Schreiber. Hence why one is in main leading-role, whereas the other is in the strange, rather under-written supporting role. Sucks to say, but it’s true.

As it remains though, this is Jack Ryan’s story so when it does focus on him to really deliver the thrills, chills and elements of suspense, it isn’t that Affleck blows the chance to do so, it’s just that we don’t care that much. We see that he’s clearly a nice guy that has a bright head on his shoulder, but can’t fight worth of dick. Which means, that when he has to drop-down in the mud and get his knuckles dirty, it doesn’t fully work, nor does it make you believe too much in him. So it stands, Ford may have been the best Jack Ryan to-date, with Baldwin running a close-second. Sadly, that leaves poor Ben in last place, which isn’t so much of his fault, as it was more of just a wrong film, and wrong time. If Big Ben had been in either the Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games, something tells me he would have been a nice fit and worked well with Clancy’s exposition-heavy dialogue. That’s not the case though. Poor guy. At least he’s onto portraying bigger and better characters than some chump named “Jack Ryan”.

Consensus: May not quite pick-up its full head of steam until half-way being over, but nonetheless, the Sum of All Fears is a well-acted, tense, exciting and rather visceral thriller that takes on a new life when you think about what our country had been going through at the point in time it was released, but also how the shots of a post-apocalyptic Baltimore still have us cringe a bit.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

I think we all know by now that once you step into the state of Baltimore, shit's about to get real.

I think we all know by now that once you step into the state of Baltimore, shit’s about to get real.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

What has this Ryan dude got himself into now??!?!?

After saving his family and the Prime Minister of England from a slew of crazy Irishmen, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is now an assistant to the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence when all of a sudden, his longtime friend Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) is diagnosed with cancer. This is tragic news for both Greer and Ryan, but both know that a job has to be done, so that’s when Ryan decides to take over the job as the Deputy Director of Intelligence, where he is assigned his first assignment: Recover $650 million from the Colombian drug cartels that was left over there by one of the President’s good buddies. Ryan is more than willing to complete the task, but he finds out that there is more brewing beneath the surface than just some money being needed. Apparently, some of the President’s closest advisers are involved with these same said drug cartels and want to keep on continuing to make more money, while also getting rid of Ryan and his boy scout-ways. However, as we found out before, Ryan doesn’t go down easy and won’t back down from a challenge, no mater whom it may be coming from.

Patriot Games was no beauty, but it was at least a relatively small, inspired and taut thriller that worked well when it was showing off the mechanics of the technology that surrounds Ryan and his skills, rather than the fists he uses in fights. And compared to this movie, it was a hell of a lot shorter, clocking in at less than two-hours which, still felt long, but nowhere near as long as a near-two-and-a-half-hour movie like the one we have here, which makes this one feel like any other sequel out there: Overlong, over-exposed, over-stuffed, and worst of all, over-directed.

I wouldn't advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that's just me.

I wouldn’t advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that’s just me.

But while I do feel like director Phillip Noyce got his vision better this time with the action, there’s still a weird feeling with the story that didn’t quite keep me as interested here as it did with the last movie. For instance, the novelty of the first movie where it was just this one situation, with these handful of characters, felt like it was a smaller, more-intimate thriller, for lack of a better term. It made you feel as if you were right there in the moment, with these characters, figuring out what was going on, how they were going to solve it and whether or not they were all going to make it out alive. Problem is, that was when Jack Ryan was just a small-timer in the CIA, but now, he’s taking orders directly from the Big Man himself, which already means that the issues are going to be expanded and a whole lot more jumbled.

That’s why I can’t get too pissed at this movie for giving me a story that covers a larger map of where it goes and how, but I can be pissed off at the fact that it was just so damn convoluted. It seems like with any movie that concerns politics, there’s always got to be a slew of lies, deceptions and back-stabbings, which is exactly what we get here, however, there’s just so many that you lose count of who is screwing who over, and why. In fact, half of the people whose names were said, I couldn’t really match the faces with, all because the movie would focus on this one character for a couple minutes, have them leave and then, all of a sudden, let us know that that character was an important player in the rest of the proceedings we were about to be a witness of.

Think Miller’s Crossing’s Mink, but instead of one character played by Steve Buscemi, you have ten different ones, all played by people less charming and lovable as creepy blue eyes.

So, in essence, when the movie does begin to get closer and closer to its climax, it became to be such a chore for me to keep up with who was who, what they were doing, for what reasons and what the major ramifications of them were. That’s why I just gave up and decided to enjoy the action. Which, no surprise whatsoever, was a smart decision on my part because Noyce definitely got that part of the movie down perfectly. Not only does the action come at you at a full 100 mph, but it also feels very tense, as if the whole movie leading up to it was meant for just this one moment. They aren’t action scenes just thrown in there because they were needed, they feel like they enhance the story and keep it moving at a nice pace. That’s what I wish I saw more in my action movies, but I highly doubt I’ll get. So be it.



And, like usual, it’s always a joy to see Harrison Ford acting in a actioner, regardless of who he’s playing, and his second outing as Jack Ryan, shows that he never gets old as the character, even if he is getting a bit old himself. Once again, Ryan’s less of a bad-ass, and more of a smarty pants who knows what to do at any situation and, if he has to, will get his hands dirty. Ford definitely shows no signs of slowing down with this character, which is why I feel like he could have gone on and did ten more of these movies, and we’d still have a great time with him. However, like what seems to be the case for many major motion-picture franchises nowadays, Ben Affleck came, he saw, and he conquered. That Boston bastard.

The most disappointing aspect behind this flick is even while it does put all of this focus on all of these numerous subplots, characters and emotions, we never really get to see much of Anne Archer or Thora Birch as Ryan’s wife and daughter respectively. Makes sense since this movie is more about the government and its non-stop clusterfucks, and less about the family-dynamic inside the Ryan household, but still, a little bit more development would have been perfect. Especially since Archer, even with her shortened screen-time, shows that she’s still a cool wife that’s willing to take the fact that her hubby could die at any second, and she’d be the one to take over the fam-squad. God, that woman sure is a breath of fresh air that I so desperately need in my life. Tired of all these young bimbos. They don’t know shit about the 70’s like my girl Anne does.

Consensus: Like most mainstream sequels usually are, Clear and Present Danger is quite overblown, loud and excessive to the point of where it’s numbing, but still does feature some fun and exciting moments amongst all of the numerous subplots that are hard to keep track of, characters that we don’t care about and less-focus on the ones we do care about, meaning the rest of Ryan’s family, including the new baby boy!

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Jack's still got it. Oh, and so does Harry.

“Knew I should have taken the keys out.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB

Patriot Games (1992)

Those crazy Irishmen. You take away their Guinness and bodies start flyin’.

While he’s on vacation, having a rumpus-good time with his fam-squad, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) finds himself caught in the middle of an IRA attack in England, where he kills one person and subdues another (Sean Bean). Ryan used to be apart of the CIA, but is now spending his time to be with his family, teach military students about history, and just keep on living his life in the most relaxing way possible, and then all of this comes up to ruin everything that was so peaceful to begin with. Although he’s touted as a “hero” and a “savior” among the mass-media, some think otherwise. And by “some”, I mainly mean the one dude who got arrested, who wants to extract revenge on Ryan the most sinister way possible: By getting right to the man’s family. Ryan, as any man of the house would respond, doesn’t take so kindly to some crazy, vengeful Irishmen trying to stomp all over his family, so he goes back to the Agency and finds himself ready to hunt this man, and his accomplices down, in hopes that they’ll leave him and his family alone. Easier said, then done, I’m afraid to say, Jack. Easier said, then done.

The most interesting thing about most Tom Clancy film-adaptations is how little they focus on the new technology, and more on the characters that inhabit the story. It’s very interesting, although, very strange as well, considering most of Clancy’s focus more on the hi-rez technology of the agencies he’s writing about, rather than the actual agents themselves, who use the technology on a regular-basis. More or less, they’re just there as paint-thinner on the wall, meant to show you that there is substance to the story you’re reading, no matter how weightless it may be.

The owner of that car never washed it again after that. True fact.

The owner of that vehicle never washed it ever again after this. You can still practically see the cheeks.

That said, Clancy sure does love the character of Jack Ryan and come to think of it, so does Hollywood. Not only have they adapted the character of Jack Ryan numerous times for the big screen (five to be exact), but they’ve also never given up on the possibility that this character will eventually break it big with mainstream audiences, and become something of a more classier-version of someone like, say, Ethan Hunt or James Bond. Seems like a very hard obstacle for this character to hurdle over, but I think with the right time, right direction, and right leading star playing that role, then Jack Ryan may be the household name Hollywood has been wanting for the longest time since 1990.

Which is why even though it’s the only Jack Ryan adaptation out of the whole bunch to actually gets it own sequel, Patriot Games still feels like it’s trying a bit too hard to reach those same heights, even if the heights of Ethan Hunt weren’t found yet. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is fun, but it’s fun in the type of way that you only get with thrillers that take their time and focus on the smaller things in their plot, like clues, like hints, and hell, even like twists that come at you, and yet, still feel deserved. Rather than focusing on all of the blood, bullets, octane and expositions, director Philip Noyce keeps the movie’s tension focused in on the story, what could happen next, why and by whom will be affected. These are the types of thrillers that usually work wonders for me, and for the first half-hour or so, I was really on the edge of my seat, while still waiting in anticipation for the violence to really start coming out at me.

That’s why when the action did start coming out at me, in full-fledged form, I was a bit surprised how disappointed I was with it all. It didn’t disappointment in the way that it was light on all of the action I feel like the story needed to fully kick itself into high-gear; it was more that the non-stop, high-flying action made this whole movie feel somewhat disjointed when the rest of the movie before then is taken into consideration. So much time and focus is placed on the plot, and all of the little intricate details surrounding it, and then once that all goes out the window because some bullets go flying and machine guns start getting fired, it felt out-of-place, as if Noyce knew that he had Harrison Ford in the lead role, therefore, he needed somewhere to show him throwing people off of moving-objects. Which, all seriousness aside, is awesome because Ford’s the man and can make kicking anybody’s ass at his age seem believable, but after all of the slow pacing the movie went through, it seemed like a cheat at the end of it.

Guess what happens next to this character that Sean Bean is playing?

Guess what happens next to this character that Sean Bean is playing?

Then again, like I said, having Ford in this lead role is more than enough to compensate for the fact that this movie gets a little off its rocker by the end. Ford handles this role of Jack Ryan like a champ, giving us a mean bastard who knows when’s the right time to get vicious with somebody, how and for what reasons. He’s not the type of a-hole member of the CIA that we usually see in movies; in fact, he’s very different because of the fact that he actually left the agency to try and make something better for himself and his family. In that case, he’s your regular, loving father in America, just trying to do right and make everybody that surrounds him happy, even if that means killing some people in order to do so. Even then, you still feel like he could be your next neighbor; the type who holds a very deep and dark secret in his basement, somewhere underneath all the cardboard boxes used for moving.

And while Ford’s lighting up the screen, doing his “everyday man” act like no other, the supporting cast is doing a pretty fine job as well. Anne Archer shows, once again, why she’d be the coolest wife for any guy to get to go home to and continues to have dreamers like us just wishing, hoping and waiting for the day that someone like her walks on by; Samuel L. Jackson plays one of Ryan’s buddies, and gives us a rather nice, soft, sweet and cool role that’s even more enjoyable to watch now, considering this all came before the Sam Jackson we all know, and mostly, love in today’s world; Sean Beans plays the nutty Irishman out for revenge and goes a bit over-the-top, but then again, I feel like that’s what he was called on to do, so whatever; and James Earl Jones shows up as Ryan’s head-boss and scares the crap out of everybody around him, everytime he shows up. And that’s even before he starts opening his mouth!

Consensus: The last-act may get too action-y and crazy for what was before, a smarter, thoughtful thriller, but Patriot Games still proves to be a nice adaptation of the Jack Ryan character, mainly due to the fact that Harrison Ford can play a character like this in his sleep, without ever seeming like he is in fact sleeping.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

He'll take a bullet for his family anytime. Then again, if my wife was Anne Archer, you bet I sure as hell would too!

He’ll take a bullet for his family anytime. Then again, if my wife was Anne Archer, you bet I sure as hell would too!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

We hated the Russians so much, we just cast Scotsmen in their roles!

Soviet naval officer Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) is a pretty big deal, especially since he himself, along with the rest of his crew are aboard the submarine known as “Red October”. What makes this sub so special is that it’s able to move so silently throughout the ocean, without ever being detected by a fellow ship or submarine. It can practically get from point-A-to-point-B, without a single hiccup or interruption to be found in between, which is probably why the U.S. government freaks out so much when they have the slightest idea that Ramius, along with his ship and crew, may be heading for the States in hopes that they’ll blow-up Washington and send us a message we’ll be soon to never, ever forget. However, most members of the U.S. government have no clue who Ramius is, or the type of man he truly is; all of them, with the exception of one CIA agent Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin). See, Ryan believes a theory that Ramius isn’t actually coming to America to blow us up, but rather to escape his country in hopes that he can start anew and get away from all of the pain, hardships and suffering he’s witnessed over there in Russia. Problem is, Ryan’s going to have to do a lot of convincing, to a lot of people, and may have to do it all before the Russians themselves pick-up the pace with Ramius’ ship and get rid of him for betraying them.

"Brrr, baby. Itsch cold outshide."

“Brrr, baby. Itsch cold outshide.”

It seems like adapting a Tom Clancy novel can be a hard task to go through with, especially considering his books are so dense and rich with detail, jargon and exposition. That’s why most of these Jack Ryan movies that are made, usually try to center on the well-known CIA Agent-character himself, in hopes that they don’t have to put that much of an eye on the technology Clancy himself loves to chat about, but also piss-off those devout readers of his, just in case you have to change some things up in the process. But that’s not the department where director John McTiernan doesn’t screws up; in fact, from what I hear, he stayed pretty damn loyal to the source-material, which must have been very hard considering there’s all sorts of stuff going on here, and sometimes, all at once.

To start things off though, I have to be honest and tell you all like it is: The first 20 or so minutes of this are pretty hard to get into. Not only is the movie relatively slow as molasses, but there’s a lot of talking going on here that you don’t know what it’s all really about. I got that the movie itself was trying to set-up character’s, give us a bit of insight into them and have us locked and loaded for what was to be the premise for the rest of this movie, but oddly enough, I felt like I may have stumbled upon the middle-half of the movie, where we’ve already been introduced to everything it is that we need to know with this story, the characters and the central-conflict at hand. And I’ve already seen this before, so to have that problem occur once again, made me feel like I was surely making a mistake, one that I should have left as another “one and done” deal.

But, as I expected it to, things began to sort themselves out and this is where McTiernan’s skills as a director come into play, as he’s somehow able to rack-up tension, just by throwing little bits and pieces of information at us. When a couple of people are speaking about what options they have next on the table for themselves, I couldn’t help but feel riveted and wonder what conclusion all of these peeps were going to come to. Most of the time, hell, I didn’t even know what they were talking about, or even how they gained all of that information in the first place, but I trusted McTiernan enough as a director to where I knew that wouldn’t bother me and I’d just have to pay attention a bit more.

That’s why “paying attention” is exactly what you’re going to have to do with this one, because the more you figure stuff-out, sometimes along with the characters in this film themselves, the more the tension amps-up and absolutely sucks you in. Submarine-thrillers seem to always do the trick for me nowadays, but this one really got to me as I could practically taste the sweat dripping off of each and every one of these dude’s foreheads, feel the heat from the steam running all throughout the submarine itself and the constant clinging and clanging of the steel up against, whatever it was that it was constantly clinging and clanging against. I felt like I was right there, watching the ride, enjoying the show and in the middle of a dire situation that just seemed to get more and more suspenseful and unpredictable as it went along, even if I already knew what the outcome was going to be beforehand.

And that, my friends, is exactly when you know a thriller is doing its job, and doing its job correctly. God, I wish John McTiernan would get out of the clink, come back and continue to make movies. Because, I don’t know about you, but I think some people may need him around for another flick or two.

Just saying, legal system.

"Damn you, Charles. You sunk my battleship, once again!"

“Damn you, Charles. You sunk my battleship, once again!”

Another reason why this thriller works so well too, and in many ways, why it isn’t as dated as most movies from the year of 1990 are and/or ought to be, is because it doesn’t really take any political-stance on the Cold War itself. We see plenty of development on the sides of both the Americans, as well as the Russians, and while the former may get a tad better treatment than the latter, it still should be noted that the flick never makes it out to seem like these Ruskies are the types of soulless, blood-sucking nuke-nuts that the media may have portrayed them as. Sure, they went into the war with their weapons and heads held high, but they were also fighting for their families, friends and most importantly, their country. Hate to start sounding like a die-hard liberal over here, but it’s a nice change-of-pace to actually see from a movie for once in which we aren’t given a clear-cut, black-or-white situation with these two sides. We see them both as humane, for better and sometimes, for worse.

Acting as channels for both of those sides are the performances from Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery, who both play on both sides of the coin, but also seem to understand one another as human-being, as well as tactical soldier. This is infamously Alec Baldwin’s one-and-done stint as Jack Ryan, and while I wouldn’t say he is amazing here, he certainly isn’t terrible neither. Actually, I’d just put it simple and state that Baldwin’s fine, and while I do think that, in recent time, we’ve seen him come-off a lot better as a supporting-player, much more than the star of the show, he still does a nice job as Jack Ryan, giving us a guy that has the brains to think his way into, and out of any particular situation, and even if he may not have the skills to succeed in a fight, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty a bit. Over the next couple of flicks, this element to the character of Jack Ryan would begin to change and evolve into a more “fuck yeah”, action-y type of character, but it still worked well for Baldwin nonetheless.

The one this movie really works wonders for is Sean Connery who, despite obviously trying to hide his thick Scottish-accent, really does give a certain heroic-pose and feel to Marko Ramius, even though he may definitely make some questionable decisions as Captain of the ship, here and there along the way. Still, through it all, Connery seems like the type of guy you’d be able to trust when he’s at the helm of all this, and be able to spit some inspiration into your hearts, even when he clearly knew the shit was about to hit the fan. However, there’s a reason for why he stays so calm and never clams-up throughout this deadly situation, and it’s one that humanizes him and makes us see that Connery can work with anything. Just throw him a script worthy of his talents and watch him spin the wheels. Gosh, I truly do miss him.

Consensus: May not be the quickest, most punchiest thriller you’ll ever see in your life, but it still stands, and stands in high-order that The Hunt for Red October is an exceptional thriller that gets down the meat of the situation, while never forgetting about making it fun, exciting and worth while for everybody involved, especially the audience sitting back at home and using their brains as hard as they can.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Old-school computer-programming must have been a hoot!

Old-school computer-programming must have been a hoot!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

This Is Martin Bonner (2013)

If there was ever a bromance in which the slightest hint of homosexuality never came up, this would be the one.

Martin Bonner (Paul Eenhoorn) is a simple and care-free Aussie living in Nevada, where he works as the coordinator of a prison rehabilitation program. Martin obviously feels some guilt about leaving his wife and two children back home in Maryland for this job, but it was his first one in two years after he lost his last one as a businessman for a church, so he took what he could get. Eventually, Martin begins to find himself a bit lonely and only passes the time by going to various antique acts, so it is rather lame at first. However, one day, he picks up a guy named Travis (Richmond Arquette), an ex-con who is just finishing up his 12-year sentence and literally has no idea of where to go with his life and how to pick up the shambles he left all over the place when he got in the clink. The two somewhat hit it off and eventually begin to hang-out with one another, help each other out in ways and take care of each other’s own respective loneliness, despite still being highly unlikely as besties. But life will surprise you sometimes, and these two are about to find that out.

I see where JT gets all of his ideas from now.....

I see where JT gets all of his ideas from now…..

Here’s a little movie that not anybody knew a single thing about last year, but somehow, through its various festival-runs and stint on Netflix, has been finding some much-deserved, newfound life, which is a blessing for small flicks like these. They may not get as much attention as they deserve, but once word-of-mouth spreads, eventually everybody will flock to see what all of the fuss is about, and that’s exactly what I did. I heard it was good, heard it was sweet, small and better yet, a total of 83 minutes. Now I don’t know about you guys or anything, but if any of the movies out there that I watch can be under an-hour-and-a-half, then I’d be much more happier camper.

However, all that aside, the fact remains that a small movie like deserves all sort of recognition and praise because it may be small in scope, but what the movie itself is dealing with and talking about, is much larger and can resonate with possibly anybody. This is a movie about two people who you wouldn’t see walking side-by-side down the sidewalk together, let alone getting a cup of Joe in the a.m. together, however, they somehow find a way to connect to the other’s loneliness that made me ponder all of the times I’ve ever found myself to be a bit out of my element in certain places. Can’t say that there are too many on the top of my head, but there have been plenty of moments in my life, and I’m sure in all of your’s, in which you just felt like you needed a pal to hang-out with, talk to, connect with and just build a friendship with.

There’s nothing more human than that, and that’s exactly what this movie taps into. However, it doesn’t do so in a way that’s as big, preachy or manipulative that you would normally see in a big mainstream flick. Even the prospect of Christianity making certain characters feel better about themselves and affecting their lives for the good, isn’t touched-on in a way that it’s looked down-upon. Sure, the discussion of believing in an actual God, that may or may not be, pops-up every so often, but it isn’t used as a crutch to show how these characters connect or get by in the world; nor does the flick itself really poke a finger at those who do firmly believe in the whole mighty savior. The movie just shows that maybe what’s good for them, is fine as is. It may not be fine for everybody out there in the world, but for others, its fine.

First rule of getting out of prison: Have to wear hideously-looking sweaters out in public.

First rule of getting out of prison: Have to wear hideously-looking sweaters out in public.

But the movie doesn’t do much talking about the whole idea of religion all that much to begin with. Instead, it just focuses on the building-friendship between these two really random guys that may not have much chemistry together or even a lot in common, but are simply there for the other and let it known that if there is a problem, that the other will be there for them, as soon as possible. It’s rather sweet to watch, actually, but it never taps into these over-homoerotic emotions that you would see any lesser-flick go for. These are both, clearly straight, adult, grown-up men who know who they are, what they want and where they stand in the world, they just need a buddy. That’s all there is to it, and it’s quite a beautiful thing to watch.

It may also go to show you that it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how much of life you think has passed you by, you can still start anew, continue to grow, experience new things and make other people’s lives better, as well as your own.

Though, I must say, what really pushes this budding-friendship between these two, highly unlikely candidates, is the performances from both Paul Eenhoorn and Richmond Arquette, two guys I have rarely ever seen before, but I think may have a bright and solid future ahead of themselves if enough chatter about this movie gets out to the right people. The one I really hope gets the most attention from this is Eenhoorn who really surprised the hell out of me with his wise, old cracker character that didn’t feel like a condescending prick in the least bit. In fact, I’d say that for whatever his old age may have been, the guy still had it going on; there’s even a nice a scene in which he gets down and starts dancing for a straight two minutes in which we see that this is just an old man with age, but not old at heart. Not to discredit Arquette at all, but when it comes down to these two, Eenhoorn’s the one that I want to see more of and I think, with the right roles coming his way, could really do something spectacular. However, we’ll just have to wait and see and what happens next.

Consensus: Short, small and rather abrupt, This Is Martin Bonner may not take up most of your day, but it’s definitely worth a look if you’re looking for the type of subtle-indie that doesn’t challenge us too much, rather it just asks us to pay attention to these characters, their nuances, complexities and what it is that makes them worth watching, if any exuberant features at all.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"So, like to do stuff with things?

“So, uhm….you like to do stuff with things?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider