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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Anthony Hopkins

Alexander (2004)

Some people let fame and fortune go to their heads. Others, just want to party and have a lot of sex.

Ever since he was a little boy, Alexander (Colin Farrell) was always a person destined for great and wonderful things like becoming the greatest empire in the world, at a staggeringly young age of 32. Of course, however, his path to greatness was a rough and troubling one, mired by all sorts of controversy and adversity that seemed to take him down a peg, even when it seemed like he was ready to take down everyone who stood in his way. There’s his mother (Angelina Jolie) and his father (Val Kilmer)’s legacy and how all of their accomplishments have overshadowed his impact; there’s his sexuality and how some people don’t ever know what it is that he likes to have sex with; and then, there’s also that need and utter desire he has that makes him want to kill nations and nations of people because they don’t praise him as the lord he so desperately wants to be praised as. Of course, all of this would be prove to be his ultimate demise.

"I know you love the blonde hair. All the girls do."

“I know you love the blonde hair. All the girls do.”

Alexander is not nearly as awful as people make it out to be. It’s probably Oliver Stone’s worst movie, but in that, therein lies an interesting movie that has a lot of good ingredients, a few rotten ones, and ultimately, doesn’t fully come together as perfectly as his other movies have. But does that make it absolutely, positively awful?

Not really.

And it’s because of Stone, that a movie like Alexander – one that would have been so slow and boring – actually comes off far more compelling than one would expect. Just as he’s shown before, Stone seems a whole lot interested in just what makes a legend like Alexander tick and become the man that he wants to eventually become; sure, the narrative of him from childhood, to his adult-years, don’t always mesh well and would have probably worked out better had they been shown in a more conventional format, but still, there is something of interest to this person here. Stone doesn’t always know what he wants to say about Alexander, or better yet, what point he’s trying to get across by telling his story in the first place, but there is something here, as small and as slight as it may be, that’s definitely worth watching and thinking about.

It’s just that it’s still hard to figure out just what that may be. Stone seems interested in judging this person solely on the fact that he condoned a whole lot of violence, yet, at the same time, didn’t know why or for what reasons, expect that it was all he was taught when he was just a little tike. But then, Stone also seems interested in how his sexual preferences may have also done a little something to make him seem like a weakling that couldn’t be trusted in the long-run. And then, of course, there’s also the fact that Stone seems interested in wondering just what it is about a person like Alexander that makes him feel like a God that can do no wrong, never die and still keep the love, respect and adoration of all those around him.

There’s a lot to think about and work with, but unfortunately, yes, the movie is also quite messy and doesn’t always make the best sense of what it’s trying to do or say.

And yeah, that’s a huge problem for Alexander, considering that it clocks in at nearly three hours, showing us that, once again, Stone is the King of excess, especially when it seems like there’s no real reason for the actual excessiveness in the first place. And hell, if there is a reason, it’s because Stone himself knows that he doesn’t quite know what he’s getting across with the material, so rather than trying his hardest to make a small, concise movie, he overloads it all, adding more bits and pieces of style that come and go as they please. It’s what we’ve come to know and, unfortunately, expect with Stone, even if it does sometimes feel like he’s got something of interest to work with here.

Their family is better than yours.

Their family is better than yours.

He just doesn’t know what it is, sadly.

But that’s why he’s got such a good cast to work with and, in ways, pick up the pieces whenever the narrative seems to flowing from one place to another. Colin Farrell is fine and hunky as Alexander, even if the character himself is written in so many different ways, that he almost feels like an entirely different person altogether, at random parts of the movie. Farrell gets past most of it, but he also feels like he’s struggling to make sense of just what Stone is aiming for here. As his parents, Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie are terrific, vamping and hamming it up, showing us that Alexander definitely had two role models in his life, for better and for worse, and they made him who he is today, and honestly, the movie would have been a whole lot better just about them and their little dynamic.

Because once Kilmer and Jolie are thrown in the background, others like Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and the one and only, Anthony Hopkins show up and quite frank;y, the material just isn’t there for them. They all feel like added-on characters who show up because Stone wanted to work with them and, honestly, needed an excuse. Dawson’s got the most to do out of all these actors, but even she feels short-shifted, only made to give sad looks and take her clothes off. I’m not complaining, but trust me, there’s a whole lot that she can do.

In fact, so can everyone else here. Including Stone himself.

Consensus: Not quite the travesty as some have made it out to be, Alexander suffers from being messy and never always making the best sense of itself, yet, gets by on a few good performances and moments from the near three-hour run-time.

6 / 10

"Join me in this fight now and afterwards, we'll all get mangled!"

“Join me in this fight now and afterwards, we’ll all get mangled!”

Photos Courtesy of: The Ace Black Blog, Metro, Cine Cola

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Nixon (1995)

nixonposterHe was a crook, but then again, aren’t we all?

U.S. President Richard Nixon (Anthony Hopkins) definitely had all sorts of controversies in his life and career. And those constants issues with the general public and those around him actually lead-out into the rest of his life, even going so far as to drive him a little nutty. But no matter what, his wife, Pat (Joan Allen), whenever he needed some love and comfort the most, even if he wasn’t quite so sure that he could always trust her. Of course though, despite some of Nixon’s best moments as President, his career and legacy would, ultimately, be destroyed because of the infamous incident that everyone, for future generations, will come to know as “the Watergate Scandal”.

So basically, yeah, Nixon is Oliver Stone’s attempt at trying to make some sort of biopic on the life, times and ultimate career of Richard Nixon. And honestly, it makes sense – if there is any director out there who could understand the mind and brain-space of someone who has been hated and despised over the years, it’s definitely Stone. But don’t be fooled by the term “biopic”, as Nixon is anything but conventional, even if that term is exactly what it promises to be.

"Hey, Anthony? Yeah, tone it down just a bit."

“Hey, Anthony? Yeah, tone it down just a bit.”

And that is, honestly, it’s biggest problem.

Stone has a lot to work with here and even at a staggering three-hours, it feels like we got more than enough. For what it’s worth, Stone doesn’t back down from showing us the image of Nixon, both professional and personal, that we’ve all come to know and expect by now. He has to make a lot of dirty, incredibly questionable choices and decisions on behalf of the entire country and because of that, he starts to get a little crazy and act out in ways people don’t expect him to. Stone doesn’t seem to be fully judging him for who he is, or better yet, what he represents, and that’s what works best in the movie’s favor; it’s setting out to tell us a little more about the one President that most of the country has learned to grow and dislike more with each and every passing year, and not shy away from some of the more grittier, meaner aspects of his life.

And because Nixon doesn’t back away from the not-so pretty things about Nixon’s life, it also can sort of seem like it has nothing to really say about its central-figure. Even though Stone tries his absolute hardest to fool us into thinking that this isn’t another one of those typical biopics we tend to get around Oscar-season, what with the quick-editing, non-chronological format, etc., it’s still not hard to look at this as, yet again, another biopic of someone that we think we know, but don’t know every little detail about, to the day that he took his first breath, to his last one. But the movie also begs the question: Do we really need all of this? Is there a point to this never ending focus on this one man in particular?

Well, the answer is yes and that’s because Anthony Hopkins is the one playing the lead role.

"Okay, maybe I'm a little bit of a crook. Just a little bit, though."

“Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of a crook. Just a little bit, though.”

Which is, yes, definitely fine, because no surprise here, but Hopkins does a terrific job as Tricky Dick. Of course, Hopkins himself has a lot to do and work with, playing up the usual mannerisms of Nixon, without seeming like a cartoon and still sinking into the role, despite not looking a single thing like him, but still, there’s something missing here. It’s a performance that does a lot of shaking, yelling, standing, and heavy-lifting, but it’s also one that seems to just be about the actual actor, and not about the actual character/person being portrayed or brought to us. Watching Hopkins do what he does best is a treat, but still, when he’s clearly not working with solid material that gives him more than just another chance to chew the fat, it’s a bit of a slog to watch. It’s almost as if we walked into an empty-theater, just to watch Hopkins himself rehearse and go over his lines, but rather than letting us go out the doors and into the real world, the doors are locked and we’re somehow trapped, forced to watch and be inspired by the thespian that is Anthony Hopkins.

Sure, that may not sound as bad to some, but watching it all play out in Nixon can get to a bit tiring.

Especially when the movie is, like I said before, is a little over three hours long. And while it’s not the Hopkins show the whole way through, what with the likes of Joan Allen, Powers Boothe, Paul Sorvino, James Woods, and Ed Harris all showing up and doing their things, it still feels very much like a vanity-project that was created solely for Hopkins and no one else. Stone may have had something interesting to say about Nixon’s actions, his public-appeal and how he’s become a “crook”, but it gets lost in between every scene that features Hopkins screaming and hooting at the top of his lungs. Sure, that’s enjoyable to a whole bunch of people, but when there’s no real rhyme or reason for all of the hooting, hollering and screaming at the top of the lungs, then it just gets tedious.

Which is something that I’d never thought I’d have to say about a Hopkins performance.

Consensus: Despite a warts-and-all depiction of Nixon’s story, Nixon still feels very much like a movie created solely so that Anthony Hopkins could work shop the whole entire three hours and make himself happy.

6.5 / 10

See? He's a happy Dick!

See? He’s a happy Dick!

Photos Courtesy of: Cydney Cornell, The Ace Black Blog

The Human Stain (2003)

Cleaning-ladies love them some Hannibal.

For one second, Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins) seems to have it all: A fancy job as Dean of Faculty of a liberal arts college, the respect of his peers, and a loving-wife by his side. However, another second later, he loses it all: The job, the respect, hell, even the wife. Once Silk’s life practically falls apart in front of his own, very eyes, he decides to run away and retreat to a cabin in the Connecticut woods where writer, Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise), is searching for inspiration for his next book. Silk then finds himself happy, reborn, and back-to-speed with his life, and decides to start up a relationship with the local college janitor, Faunia (Nicole Kidman), who’s a lot younger and illiterate than he is. Zuckerman sees this as the perfect moment to let his inspiration run wild, but what he doesn’t know is that underneath Silk’s whole look and facade, there lies something very painful and mysterious.

Philip Roth is perhaps one of the best writers the world has ever been graced with. That’s why, I constantly wonder: Why aren’t there all that many adaptations of his work? Better yet, why are the ones that do get made, not all that great?

And unfortunately, the Human Stain is just another perfect example of the great Roth just not getting the right treatment.

Showing that tat off? She's just asking for the "d" now.

No man can resist that tat.

Where the movie really finds its biggest issue with itself is with the character of Coleman Silk, and the fact that, even by the end of it, we still never get to actually know him even if we totally should. The only real snippets we get to see into his soul and character is through the flashbacks of him as a young adult, which I must say, were far more interesting than anything going on in his present life. Without spoiling what the real mystery behind Silk’s personality and what makes him tick the way he does, all I will say is that the flashbacks are handled with enough emotion, delicacy, and heart, to where you actually feel as if the movie cares for this character and his side of the story.

It should also be noted that Wentworth Miller does a nice job at portraying the younger version of Silk, as well as Jacinda Barrett as his young sweetheart who gets a first taste of who Silk really is and what he’s all about. Together, they form a realistic and heartfelt chemistry that may just get you all weak in the knees and warm inside because they may remind you of what young love was all about. No further discussion about that aspect of the story, because once I get going, I might not be able to stop and I’ll be in a risk of losing my Critic’s License (doesn’t exist, but I like to feel as if it does).

But still, it almost doesn’t matter because the rest of the movie just never flows perfectly together.

In fact, what’s supposed to be important and emotional in this movie, actually isn’t. I guess that Silk’s later-life’s transformation to a crotchety, old man to a happy, free-willing dude was supposed to really connect, but it just doesn’t. Hopkins is great, as he usually is, because he’s able to get us to believe that this old man would find out more about himself as he got older and a tad wiser about “the real world”. However, actually feeling for this dude was a bit harder than I expected, because he doesn’t really seem to have anything about him that’s worth caring about.

It sounds harsh and all, but there was just something about Coleman Silk that doesn’t really jump out off of the screen. Sure, he’s sad and sure, he’s banging a younger gal that definitely has a shady-past coming along with her for the ride (figuratively and literally), but is there really anything else to the guy? Oh, yeah, he does have that mysterious fact about him that’s insightful into who his character really is, but it can only go so far to interest a person, especially one who has seen it all with film (points to self).

So happy, yet, so random.

Why so happy? Uh, I don’t know. Life?

Even Kidman’s character gets the short end of the stick, as it also seems like she has nothing really going for her in terms of character development. Kidman is surprisingly good at playing the town skank that has a checkered-past with ex’s and family, but it doesn’t seem to go any deeper than that. She’s pretty much the whore with a heart of gold-type of character, without the license or occupation of actually being a whore. She just bangs to get over any type of pain or problems she has had in her life. It doesn’t really work when you put her character and Silk together, try to make us feel for them both, and understand where they are both coming from. Instead, it just seems shallow, as if they both took each other to bed, because, well, who else was there really?

Well, I can definitely say that Ed Harris’ character was definitely not there. Harris plays Faunia’s ex-husband who is a disabled war vet, obviously suffering from an extreme case of PTSD, which makes him come off as the bad guy in the story who’s there to just fuck everything up for the happy, loving-people in the story. However, there’s more to him than just that and Harris makes this character work in a chilling way, rather than having him be some one-dimensional prick. Well, he definitely is a prick, but at least he’s a sympathetic one at that.

At least.

Consensus: For a drama full of context and emotion like the Human Stain to work, you need complexity, heart, and understanding, which is something that neither this flick, nor the cast seems to have, no matter how hard anybody tries. And trust me, they try very, very hard.

5 / 10

Gotta love that exciting sport of fly-fishing!

Photos Courtesy of: Thecia.Com.Au

Hannibal (2001)

Should have just let him eat whoever he wanted to eat.

Ten years after getting away from practically everybody involved with law enforcement, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is enjoying his time, relaxing, looking at fine art, and walking through the breezy, lovely streets of Florence, Italy. Meanwhile, back in the states, Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) is stuck in a bit of a pickle in which a drug-bust went incredibly wrong and violent – leaving the FBI to have to clean up the mess. But because Lecter can’t keep his appetite for Clarice down, he decides to send her a letter, which then leads her to start her own investigation into finding exactly where Lecter is. However, Clarice isn’t the only one. Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) is also on his own search for an art scholar who goes missing, which may lead him to stumbling upon Lecter and having to decide whether he wants to arrest the man, or bring him in for a healthy reward granted by deformed billionaire, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman). The reason for Verger’s reward, is because he is one of Lecter’s last survivors around, and has the face, body, and voice to prove it.

Ew.

Ew.

So yeah. The Silence of the Lambs is, was, and will forever be, a great movie. There’s no way of getting around that. And as is usually the case when you’re trying to recreate some of the same magic from a precursor that’s as legendary and iconic as that movie was, the odds are not in your favor.

Such is the case with Hannibal, the sequel to the Silence of the Lambs, that came out nearly ten years later, starred someone new as Clarice, and had a different director.

Granted, Anthony Hopkins is still around and if you’re replacing the likes of Jodie Foster and Jonathan Demme, with Julianne Moore and Ridley Scott, then not everything’s so bad. But honestly, if there was ever a reason for a sequel to not exist, it’s shown here. That is, after the first ten minutes in which some of the creepiest, most disturbing opening-sequences ever created, transpire and bring you right down to the level of knowing what to expect from the rest of the movie.

And the rest of the movie for that matter, is also pretty creepy. Because Scott is such a talented director, he’s able to make almost each and every shot feel as if it came right out of an art exposition itself and add a sense of eeriness, even if we’re literally watching a scene dedicated to two people just sitting around in a darkly-lit room, whispering about something, and not doing much of anything else. There’s a lot of scenes like that in Hannibal, and while it’s hard to really be excited by any of them, Scott tries his hardest to add a little more pizzazz and energy in any way that he can.

But it still doesn’t escape the fact that the movie’s still uneventful.

Sure, people are shot, killed, ripped-open, eaten alive, sliced, diced, and chewed-on, but is any of it really exciting? Not really, and that’s perhaps the movie’s biggest sin. The first flick may have been a dark, serious and chilly thriller, but there was still a bunch of excitement to the madness of tracking down Wild Bill, nabbing him, and taking him; while it took its time, there was still a feeling of tension in the air. That same tension isn’t really anywhere to be found here, even if the same feeling of general creepiness is – though it only comes in short spurts.

Most of this has to do with the fact that, despite there being maybe three-to-four subplots going on, there isn’t anyone that really grabs ahold of you and makes you want to watch it as it unfolds. Once again, Clarice is on the search for Dr. Lecter, but because there’s another story that runs along the same lines going on, it doesn’t actually seem all that important. Sure, she’ll get her arch-nemesis, but at the end of the day, does any of it really matter? The dude’s off the streets and not eating people anymore, but does that mean the killing is done once and for all?

This is a point the movie seems to bring up, but never actually go anywhere deeper with. Instead, it’s more concerned with seeing how many times Dr. Lecter can fool people into thinking that he isn’t a mean, sadistic, and brutal cannibal. In fact, hearing that, I realize that these scenes should be somewhat fun, if not, totally hilarious. But they aren’t. Instead, they’re just drop dead serious, grim, and uninteresting.

Stop saying her name!

Stop saying her name!

And that’s about it.

The cast does try their hardest, however. Hopkins, as usual, fits into the role of Lecter as if he never left it to begin with. He’s weird and off-putting, but at times, can also be incredibly suave and charming, especially when he’s speaking of disemboweled bodies. But, at the same time, we are getting a lot more of him, which means that it can seem to be a bit of overkill; whereas the first movie featured nearly 15 minutes of screen-time devoted to Lecter, Hannibal features nearly an-hour-and-a-half of him, which means that his act can get a bit old and stale as the time rolls along. Especially since, you know, he isn’t really growing as a character – he’s still killing, conning, and eating people, the way he always did.

The only difference now is that he’s a lot more laid-back than usual.

And though she tries, too, Julianne Moore really does have all the odds stacked against her playing this role that was definitely made a lot better, and more famously by Jodie Foster. Though Moore seems to be still playing into that same kind of ruthless aggression and dedication that Foster worked well with, it’s hard to get past the fact that she’s playing the same character, but it not being Foster. Ray Liotta shows up and, of course, plays a crooked cop that seems like he has nobody’s best intentions at heart and is fine, but once again, what else is new?

The best of the rest, though, is an absolutely nonidentical Gary Oldman as the disgusting and vile-looking Mason Verger. From the beginning, it’s difficult to recognize that Oldman is even in the movie (mostly do the ugly, but impressive make-up and costume job done to him), but after awhile, it’s obvious that it is him, and the performance works wonders from then on. Despite being able to only use his eyes and voice for his character, Oldman still gives off an deceitful feel that helps make it clear that, if the film was just about him and Lecter sparring-off in a duel of wit and evilness, then it would probably be better.

But sadly, that is not what we get and instead, we’re left reaching for our copies of the Silence of the Lambs.

Consensus: Despite trying its hardest, Hannibal cannot quite reach the same creepily entertaining heights as its predecessor and feels more like a waste for each of the talent involved.

5 / 10

It's okay, Jules. We feel the same way.

It’s okay, Jules. We feel the same way.

Photos Courtesy of: Screen Musings

Manhunter (1986)

No eating of fava beans or Chianti’s here.

A sicko family-killer nicknamed “The Toothfairy” (Tom Noonan) is running wild and loose, and it’s up to retired-cop, Graham (William Petersen), to find out who this guy is exactly is, where he’s at, cuff him, and lock the son of a bitch away for good. The problem is that this killer is a lot smarter and trickier to find than he’s usually used to, which is saying a lot for the guy who locked away Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) for good.

Okay, here’s the thing: Everybody knows the story of Hannibal Lecter because of the 1991 flick, but, believe it or not, this one came before and actually let the world know of the flesh-eating intellectual that is Dr. Lecter. This movie is rarely ever mentioned in today’s day and age of thrillers, especially ones with the character of Lecter involved, but it was one of the first and best examples of how you can put a serial-killer and cop-procedural together, and make them mesh so well.

And it’s all thanks to Michael Mann, who practically ushered in a wave of thousands-upon-thousands of shows that remind us that, yes, DNA is everywhere.

If you know Michael Mann, or have at least ever seen a Michael Mann flick, then you definitely the guy ain’t one bit of shy when it comes to showing how stylish he can be and how much he doesn’t care what you think. For some (such as myself), the style can get a bit over-bearing at times, but for a flick like this that seemed like it needed it to spice things up, then I was all aboard and not a tad bit pissed-off. Okay, that’s a lie. Some parts had me instantly pissed because of the corny, 80’s-synth, over-dramatic line-delivery, and foreshadowing of colors in the background or somewhere in each shot, but that just comes with the package when you put Michael Mann and the 80’s together. You gotta get used to it after awhile, which is what I did, much against my initial taste test.

There's a metaphor in here somewhere.

There’s a metaphor in here somewhere. Just look for the color blue, if you can spot it.

Mann’s direction is one of the key aspects to making this movie so great because he continually builds up tension and suspense, yet, never makes it seem like the story/case is ever going to be fully solved. He puts the detectives in the running-spot for completion, but somehow, the killer always seems one step ahead no matter what. You also actually get to feel for these cops because they aren’t dirty a-holes that can’t help but screw things over for others because they’ve got nothing else better to do. Nope, instead, they are just regular, everyday people, who have a job to do, families back at home, and will stop at nothing to complete their tasks and make the world a whole lot nicer, safer place to be in. In today’s day and age where we get some sort of crooked cop in almost every crime movie we see, it’s quite refreshing to see what it was like when we loved our men with badges, and didn’t think of them as scum who love donuts and pulling you over after curfew. Doesn’t mean I still don’t have beef with some of them, but hey, at least my gratitude was with these guys for the longest time, in all hopes that they would get this killer.

However, it’s a pretty hard decision to make, especially when you have a villain that is this cool, this smart, this sinister, and this creepy.

That’s all thanks to Tom Noonan who is not only insanely freaky as the Red Dragon, but intimidating as well. The guy’s got that lanky-build to him where he’s a towering-figure, but skinny to the point of where he looks like a living, breathing, and walking straw. And his looks? Well, let’s just say that Tom Noonan is the sexiest person in the planet, but that’s not a bad thing at all, because it works in his favor by making us more scared by the dude. Not only does he seem like he knows what he’s doing, but also knows how to send a message that he’s not be screwed around with either. Need an example? Try that scene where finds the reporter and tells him a little bit about himself; a scene I’m not going to go on about anymore, because it’s tense, heavy, and shocking, all at once and perfect at declaring the kind of individual we’re working with here.

Also, a lot of the credit for such a bad-ass villain has to go back to Mann, because the guy never over-exposes our villain at all. It isn’t almost until the half-way mark that we get our first glimpse at the guy, and even that’s not saying much since it’s only five minutes of him being a creep-o and getting involved in weird shenanigans. It’s an effective five minutes though, and actually makes you feel like this guy is never going to be found, no matter how hard these cops may try. You actually start to give up hope at one point, depending on the type of person you are, and almost come to the reality that the Red Dragon is going to get away with it all, and evil laugh his way into more murderous-pleasures.

Does that count as wearing women's clothing?

Does that count as wearing women’s clothing?

However, when you stand in the way of William Petersen – not everything’s going to be so easy. Peterson is a nice fit as our main detective here, because the guy has a lot going for him to where we understand the problems that may occur in his personal life, as well as his work life when he has to do such a thing as get in the minds of the serial-killers he’s chasing after. But the guy never seems like he’s losing it to the point of where we question him, his skills, or his determination catch this killer and put all of the murders to rest. Petersen does over-act at times and it seems like just another case of bad writing, equals bad performance, but overall, the guy had me cheering for him in the end, even if it was a hard choice between him and Noonan. Both are great, even if they aren’t together on-screen for very long. Still, got to love when the film just builds up to the meeting between two, opposite forces, and absolutely delivers like this flick does.

The best of the rest is definitely Brian Cox as everybody’s favorite charmer, Hannibal Lecter. Cox isn’t playing the role we all know Anthony Hopkins for, but is giving us his own impression of him, with a few tinkers here and there. With just the short-amount of screen-time, we see how he operates, how he thinks, how smart he is, and how he’s not to be trusted no matter what he may say or do to you that could be considered nice or humane. Cox owns every scene he has and keeps this presence throughout the whole movie, even when he isn’t around. Having a double-threat like Noonan and Cox together was awesome, and just gave me more faith in the baddies, rather than the goodies.

Consensus: As with most films from the ultra-cool decade of the 80’s, Manhunter suffers from some cheese-tastic moments, but ultimately kicks some fine ass when it comes to building up an air of mystery, tension, suspense, and a feeling that you don’t know who’s going to come out of this alive, dead, or barely scratched.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

"I want to eat you."

“I’m building up an appetite already.”

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Noah (2014)

Thought he’d need a bigger boat. Guess not.

I don’t think I really need to state what this movie is about, but in case those of you out there have either been living under a rock for the past one million years, or just don’t pay attention to anything at all in the whole, wide world, here’s the plot: Noah (Russell Crowe) is a descendant of Seth, which means he is one of the very few nice men in the world that doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t kill when he doesn’t have to, and loves all things that are beautiful with the world. He loves nature, he loves his wife (Jennifer Connelly), his family and most of all, his God. So much so, that when he has a vision in his dreams that the world will be destroyed one day due to a huge flood, he decides to take matters into his own hands and prepare the right way. What is “the right way”, you ask? Well, that consists of building a giant-scale Ark that will hold two of every animal species known to man in order to have all of them continue on and live, even if the world itself is totally wiped-out. Things for Noah and his whole family seem to go fine, that is until Noah gets a little bit crazy with what it is that God actually wants him to do, against what it is that he thinks he should do.

As predicted, there’s been a lot of talk surrounding this movie. Many Christian-advocates have stood-up, said their peace about this flick and even though they haven’t necessarily been totally against it, per se, they definitely haven’t given it the glowing pass of approval neither. So basically, this movie may offend you, but then again, at the same time, it may not. It all depends on how in-touch you are with your faith and whether or not you actually want to see a full-length, feature-flick about a dude who built an Ark to preserve life for the rest of humanity.

Personally, I don’t want to see that kind of movie. But if Darren Aronofsky is directing it, then count me the hell in!

"Guess you didn't get the memo about '80's glam-metal hair-styles only', huh?"

“Guess you didn’t get the memo about ’80’s glam-metal hair-styles only’, huh?”

And if anything, the idea of having Darren Aronofsky direct this as a certain “passion project” of his, is definitely the most intriguing-aspect behind this flick. You’d never expect the same kind of guy who gave us scenes like this, or this, or hell, even this, to be so willing and dedicated to give his own, in-depth version of an as-old-as-time story that’s only about a few paragraphs or so long. But with Aronofsky, you can never, ever tell what his next move is going to be; whether it be what movie he decides to direct next, or what he actually does in his own movies, the guy is totally unpredictable. However, in today’s day and age of cinema, we need that, which is why when you get a Darren Aronofsky movie, it doesn’t matter what the subject-material is or how it’s going to play-out in terms of who it’s for – all you have to know is when, where, what time and if you’re able to see it right away!

As you can probably tell, I was very excited for this movie, just judged solely by who was making it and to be honest, that’s probably what kept this movie going for me. It seemed strange in the first place that a major-studio would actually back a biblical-epic directed by Darren Aronofsky in the first place, and seeing the end-result, it’s apparent why I had those ideas in my in the first place. Like all of Aronofsky’s movies, this is downright beautiful; from the visuals, to the amazing, sometimes over-wrought score from Clint Mansell, to even the biblical-imagery that doesn’t hit you over the head, but is able to make you understand what message it’s trying to convey, everything was given the right attention of detail it needed to seem like an actual story from this time and place, rather than just a cheap dramatization we’d get on the History Channel.

Even the actual story here, which Aronofsky clearly took plenty of liberties with, seems like something he’d do; the main character of Noah, here, has an obsession over doing what God wants him to do, even if it does make him absolutely insane. In fact, where this movie really gets interesting is when Aronofsky sheds a light on how Noah either does or doesn’t take God’s demands or ideas about saving humanity and getting rid of those who don’t deserve to live, as understandably as he should. In any movie, directed by anybody else who didn’t have nearly as bright a mind as Aronofsky, this message could have been handled terribly and even offend some out there, but what Aronofsky does is just show a character finding himself in a bit of a bind as to whether or not he should do exactly what he thinks God is telling him to do, or act as he should, a moral human being. Instead of seeing Noah as a Saint that did everything right, for every person around him, including God, we see him as a man that struggled with his faith, with the situation he was thrown into and how all of the pressure was thrown onto him to not only preserve these animals, but keep those around him alive and well, knowing that they’d die soon, and possibly even be the last ones alive on Earth.

Pretty freaky stuff, but I guess when you got the big G.O.D. backing you up, it doesn’t matter.

But as interesting as most of the things that Aronofsky does with this material, I still can’t help but feel as if a bit too much of it is over-blown beyond its means. For instance, Noah, as almost every epic, is nearly two-and-a-half-hours, and it feels like so. That isn’t good, not because long movies shouldn’t exist, but because this one feels unnecessarily long, when only a good hour-and-a-half of this movie is really worth seeing. Everything leading-up from when Noah has these dreams of the apocalypse, to when he actually gets the Ark up and running, is exciting, tense and exactly the type of viewing-experience I expected to have with something on this grand-of-a-scale.

"But in all seriousness though, honey, I'm fucking craving a hamburger. We gotta get rid of the pigs."

“But in all seriousness though, honey, I’m fucking craving a burger. We gotta get rid of the cows.”

However, all of the energy of this movie seems to fade out, slowly but surely. I don’t want to say where this story goes and how dark it gets, but it seemed like Aronofsky felt like he really needed to allow this movie to play-out as long as he possibly could, so threw in all sorts of subplots he could. This not only has it seem like it’s meandering and taking its good old time to get to a finale, but doesn’t really know where it’s going to end-up – much like Noah and the rest of his family on this Ark. I was still interested in seeing where this movie would go, but after awhile, I began to wonder if that moment would ever come around, and if it did, would it actually be satisfying, or just rushed and too safe for its own good.

Somehow, it placed somewhere in the middle, but I can’t say I was all that disappointed where it did go and end. Doesn’t offend too many people, but still keeps it a bit edgy and hard-hitting for those who want some deeper-meaning out of what they see here.

And of course, before I head-off into the sunset, I do have to give some credit to the cast for at least trying with what they’re given, as timid as some of it may be. Russell Crowe is perfectly-cast as Noah, showing all sorts of grit, manliness that makes you seem his as the type of guy you don’t want to mess with when it comes to the apocalypse, but also enough compassion to where you can sort of see that he’s a sweet guy behind the huge muscles and supreme fighting-skills. It was also nice to see Jennifer Connelly back in a movie with Darren Aronofsky, and actually get some worthy-material that has her shed those skills more than a few times, particularly in a scene where she basically tells Noah to wake up and snap out his crazed-daze. And as usual, Anthony Hopkins is a fine-addition to the cast as he brings a lot of fun, light and humor to a film that seemed so serious and over-blown most of the time. And he does it all by wanting berries!

Didn’t see that part in the original source-material, but then again, it’s been a long time since my Vacation Bible School days.

Consensus: While the first hour-and-a-half packs a exciting, tense and epic-punch that Darren Aronofsky is clearly able to deliver, the remainder of Noah does seem to meander and have no clue where to go, which may be more of a problem with the studio that helped produce it, rather than the creator himself, but it’s still a noticeable problem nonetheless.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED, YOU DIE HARD CHRISTIANS YOU?!?!?"

“ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED, YOU DIE HARD CHRISTIANS YOU?!?!?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Guys want to get hammered with him, girls want to get hammered by him. He’s Thor, and he’s a pretty cool guy.

After the whole incident in New York, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is back in his homeland of Asgard, but this time, is being locked away for all eternity, banished from the rest of society. This is when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds that it is his time to shine and take over the throne, just as his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is getting ready to step down right off of it. However, not so fast there! After years and years of exile, the ruler of the Dark Elves, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), comes back to shake things up and make Asgard his own play-place where things crash and burn on a daily-basis. Thor won’t have this, however, he’s almost too powerless due to the fact that his heart and mind is elsewhere. Or, to be specific, back on Earth, where his old flame, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is still thinking about him to this day, while also trying to get over him date-by-date. Not going to be so easy now, especially since he’s back and asking for all sorts of help from her and her band of scientific misfits.

Though many people were skeptical about it, myself being included, Thor turned out to be a nice surprise that not many were expecting. For once, we not only had a funny superhero movie that didn’t quite enter the realm of “smug”, but we also had one that was still exciting, light, quick and entertaining, despite practically being a filler so that we have one other character developed for that inevitable Avengers movie that did not disappoint much either. Still, with Marvel Phase Two already have begun with Iron Man 3, one has to wonder: “Now that we’ve seen what was in store for us with the huge team-up, will the stand-alone sequels/prequels be able to measure-up?”

Well, the answer is definitely yes, and definitely no. Here, I’ll explain more.

"HAR! HAR! HAR! THOR LAUGH!"

“HAR! HAR! HAR! THOR LAUGH!”

What I mean by the “definitely yes”, is that while these types of movies where we focus on one superhero’s own adventure, with their own subplots, themes and such, we still get a feel that there is a larger-universe out there just waiting to be explored, but just won’t be. That’s not a problem however, considering that it seems like Marvel is comfortable enough now with actually mentioning that there are other superheros out there, and that the whole NYC debacle actually did in fact HAPPEN. Heck, there’s even a couple of brief mentions of the S.H.I.E.L.D. and how they’re lurking around, which was still cool to hear, even if I don’t watch the show. Just yet, that is.

Anyway, so yeah, it’s definitely cool that Marvel doesn’t shy away from actually making mentions of there being others out there in the world and that they may just be waiting to show up whenever the time is right. Personally, I don’t know how anytime of distress isn’t considered “the right time” to get the band back together, but it’s a big old whatever. Obviously I don’t run things in the movie business and I’m pretty sure we all know why now.

But what about that “definitely no”? Well, the reason why I said that is because the stand-alone sequels will never, ever, not in a million years, be on the same, larger, grand epic-scale that the Avengers movie itself was, which may disappoint some far more demanding-viewers, if that’s the type of movie they want. To be honest, I knew going into this that I wasn’t going to get the whole group of Nick Fury, Steve Rodgers, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, or even Agent Coulson for that matter. All I knew, and wanted, was the same old fun-feel I got from the first Thor movie, and that is exactly what I got, no strings attached or added. Just fun, and for a movie that’s coming out against some Oscar-bait, heavy-hitters this month, I have to give it the huge benefit of the doubt for at least bringing some upbeat vibes to a very chilly atmosphere. That’s if you walk outside and you live in the Northeast. Other than that, I think you don’t you’d be smelling what I’m selling, but so be it!

All that you need to know though about this movie is that it’s as fun and exciting as the first flick was, but with a lot less of the comedy-element thrown in there to round things out. This sort of disappointed me, and it sort of didn’t. It did because I thought that’s what separated the first one from being such a dark, serious take on a superhero who would most likely get that type of treatment; and it didn’t because while the first two-thirds of the movie keep its serious moods and faces afloat, the last-act is where I really felt like things were coming together and firing on all cylinders. Not only was the huge climax as much of a CGI-spectacle as you’d expect, with all sorts of action going on in each-frame-per-second, but the humor just kept on having me laugh. All of that “fish-out-water” comedy that seemed to run so rampant in the first movie, is back here again but used to even better effect, showing us that even though these movies tackle such subjects as Norse gods, demons and angels, there’s a still an under-lining of self-knowing silliness to it all that makes it more than just your standard brain-killer. It has a personality; the same type of personality you’d want to be hanging around at any party or social gathering you go to.

Keep that in mind, especially before that painful ten year, high-school reunion.

A lot of that comedy works mainly through the fact that Chris Hemsworth himself is such a lovable goof, that it’s easy to see past his terribly good-looks, rockin’ bod and ability to charm any gal he pleases to with his Australian accent, and realize that he’s actually talented. Now, of course we all knew that after seeing the first Thor, Cabin in the Woods and especially, Rush two months ago, but to see that he still has it continues to make this blandly-written character somewhat interesting, really charmed the hell out of me. But seriously, on a real, standard-business note, somebody’s got to pitch the idea of getting Thor his own sitcom. Every line, every piece of comedy that comes out of this dude’s mouth or occurs around him, is just pure hilarity and had me, as well as plenty others, howling whenever necessary. Just saying, we’d all benefit from it. Even you Stan Lee, you old bastard.

Just look at the promise he holds for all sorts of situational comedies in the future!

Just look at the promise he holds for all sorts of situational comedies in the future! Take notice, NBC!

And like usual, Tom Hiddleston steals the show as Loki, giving us a character that’s easy to love, but also, even easier to hate by how evil and despicable his actions can be. Still though, there is signs of humanity with this character that goes further than just, “he loves his bro,” which is either a testament to Hiddleston’s talents, or the writing for Loki itself. I think it’s a little mixture of both, but more so of Hiddleston just because he seems so damn charming, on and off the screen. While Loki’s character still prevails as being the most interesting and worth-watching villain we get with these movies, that leaves little to no room for Chistopher Eccleston’s Malekith to do anything even remotely menacing or memorable. Instead, he just comes off like a bad extra from Lord of the Rings that showed up a bit too late to filming after he heard that he got the role of a lifetime, and partied too hard the night before.

The rest of the ensemble does pretty fine as well, with everybody contributing in anyway that they possibly can. Idris Elba is awesome and still bad-ass as Heimdall; Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo do nice jobs as the rulers of Asgard, proving that seniority rules, even in Marvel movies; Natalie Portman gets plenty of screen-time to be all sorts of fun, sassy and fiery when she’s called on to do so, and it’s nice to see her back on the big screen and doing what she does best; and of course, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgård are around to be goofy and zany in their scientic, nerdy-like way, and they’re fun to watch, especially Skarsgård who’s constantly running around like a loon, to much of the audience’s pleasure. Glad to see him put his pants back on though. Only in a Lars von Trier movie should we have to be victim to a sight like that, not a Marvel movie, THE SAME ONES THAT KIDS GO TO SEE.

Consensus: The first movie’s surprise-factor still works well against Thor: The Dark World, but still shouldn’t be held fully against it because it as fun, as exciting, as witty and as much of a spectacle as you’re going to get with a movie released at the beginning of November, right before the army of drop-dead serious, Oscar-bait projects begin to swarm in. Enjoy this while it lasts, because it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to “fun” in the longest time.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Are people still pissed about this guy being in it?

Are people still pissed about this guy being in it?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Amistad (1997)

Jack Sparrow definitely had something to do with this as well. I know it for a fact.

I think it’s safe to say that anybody who has ever took history in the 5th grade or below knows this story, but if not, here’s the gist of it all: Newly-captured African slaves somehow broke free and revolted against their owners aboard a ship called La Amistad. They eventually got brought into the states where they were tried for their wrong-doings, but thanks to their leader, Cinqué (Djimon Hounsou), they are able to have a voice and get a fair trial. Or at least they sure hope so, or else it’s back to the poop-deck for them!

Steven Spielberg is considered one of the greatest directors of all time, and that’s usually something I can never argue against No matter how schmaltzy and disappointing some of his pieces of work can be, you can still count on the fact that every once and a blue moon, he’ll come back in full force and shut our negative mouths up. The guy’s got a knack for doing that and he can do it especially well when he’s telling a true story of those who have suffered the most. Whether he’s focusing on the Jews, the horses, or the living robots from the future, the guy knows how to take one person’s side, show how wronged they are by the rest of society, and let them have their time to shine. Add African slaves onto that list, just not to the tippy-top.

What makes this material so hard-hitting and inspirational in the way that it plays out is the fact that it’s all real, and yes, even though some parts here and there may be fabricated for theatrical-purposes, the main idea of it all stays the same. These were real people who had to go through a real rough time to get their freedom, try to hold onto it for as long as they could, have it taken away from them, and (SPOILER, I guess) then, given right back to them with a full introduction of hope and happiness still in their hearts. It sounds like a sappy story, and the way that Spielberg has it all play out, it certainly can be, but the fact that this a true story, true case, and true. real-life people that went through it all, really touched me more than I expected. And I don’t mean in the Sandusky way, either.

"Why can't anybody understand me? I can speak English too, it's just that nobody's asked me."

“Why can’t anybody understand me? I can speak English too, it’s just that nobody’s asked me. Fuckin’ white people.”

However, this isn’t the type of Spielberg flick where you get all sunshines, rainbows, and a bunch of over-dramatic music-cues; there’s some real smug ugliness to this movie that will catch you by surprise. First of all, the beginning of the flick is quite gruesome where Spielberg shows us, in full-detail, jusr how the Amistad raid occurred, and how the owners of these slaves were killed. It’s a pretty disturbing way to start off with and when it was over, I was slightly relieved because I felt like Spielberg backed away from that dirty stuff and got back on with the emotional-core of the story.

Oh, but how wrong I was.

Somewhere, about half-way through the movie, we get to see what it was like for all of the slaves to be aboard the Amistad, before the raid even occurred, and I have to say, it’s 10-times worse than the opening. You see how all of these people were treated, how they were tortured, put to non-stop work, fed, clothed (if at all), put to sleep, and in many ways, killed. It’s some real, gods-to-honest disturbing stuff that still stays put in my head. Still, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to Spielberg because it never feels like he’s exploiting any of it in the least bit. He’s just showing us how it was to be aboard that slave ship, which means we get a lot of blood, nudity, and grittiness, almost to the point of where you feel dirty just for watching. Some people will rag on Spielberg for usually crapping-out from going all of the way with his nasty-material, but for those naysayers: Watch the beginning and middle-half of this movie and then come back to me saying the same thing.

That whole sequence actually helps the movie out in many ways, but mainly because it has you understand these slaves even more than ever before. Not only does it give them inspiration to take charge with their lives, but it also gives them the right amount of hope and clarity they should have in their lives, and makes us root for them even more. I also like how they weren’t all just portrayed as a bunch of wild, gibberish-speaking black folks; they actually had personalities, they actually had words, they actually had meanings, and in some ways, had more ideas than most of the white people they encounter throughout this whole flick. Spielberg definitely showed his balls with this movie, but when it came back to getting with the story and showing us all how we love to root for the underdog in any story, regardless of if it’s true or not, he’s always solid in my book.

But to be fair, Spielberg isn’t always the most grateful man when it comes to humanizing his stories and doesn’t always let everybody get the same treatment as the Amistad slaves he’s portraying. I get that he wanted us to fully feel the internal-strife that these African slaves were going through, and so by doing so, really put the hammer down on some of those opposed to it, but didn’t feel right to me. It felt like, to me, that Spielberg was a little too quick in his movements to start pointing the fingers at other people for being racist, bigoted, and all about making money, when that was just how the times were. To me, it felt like Spielberg could have taken his hand back and realized that it’s not right to point, no matter how wrong or immoral you thought a certain set of persons or people were. Didn’t your mother ever teach you anything, Steven?!?

And as always with most of Spielberg’s flicks, the guy is always able to assemble a highly-qualified cast of characters and lets everybody do their thang, no matter how showwy or subtle it may be. Rarely does anybody ever go for the latter, but at least they keep it entertaining. Even though he has practically faded into obscurity now for no apparent reason, I was surprised to remember just how much of a powerhouse Djimon Hounsou was. What worked so much for him was that he had these eyes and this physical-prowess to him that showed you so much more than he could probably say or put into words. That’s especially true in this movie, because his character cannot speak English at all, but still gets the chance to show everybody around him what he’s feeling by expressions on his face, the tone in his speech, and the look in his eyes, no matter how cold or inspired they may be. The guy has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, and I was sure as shit surprised to find out that this wasn’t one of them. Still, the guy needs to come back and win something, because he’s a great actor and could also snap my neck with the twitch of his leg. No doubt about that.

Even Djimon is surprised by how over-the-top Anthony is.

Even Djimon is surprised by how over-the-top Anthony is.

The one who did get the Oscar nomination for this movie was Anthony Hopkins, playing former President John Quincy Adams, and does what he does best: Command the screen every chance he gets. Watching Hopkins just take this script, chew it up, swallow it, and spit it out, making himself a new one, was so exciting and entertaining to watch that it was no wonder why he was nominated for this. He shows up every once and awhile throughout the whole movie, but there’s this whole sequence at the end where he just tells it like it is when it comes to politics, living in the U.S., being a human-being, and just doing the right thing, that was compelling the whole time, even if it did seem like Hopkins may have went on some tangents a bit. Still, it’s Anthony Hopkins and the guy always give it a 110% so if anything, there’s always something to see.

Matthew McConaughey plays the lawyer that stands beside the African slaves in the first place and is very, very good, but it almost feels like his role from A Time to Kill, but dashed with some 19th Century apparel, and a goofy, Southern accent to boot. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, because the guy was pretty damn solid in both flicks, but it does show you that maybe more originality could have gone into choosing the right people for these roles. Then again, McConaughey’s career seems to have gotten a bit of a resurgence as of late, so I guess it doesn’t matter what happened to him 16 years ago.

The one out of this whole cast that I was really bummed to see play such a bland and mediocre role was Morgan Freeman as Theodore Joadson. He’s an Uncle Tom of sorts, but a man of color nonetheless, which makes it a great role for Freeman to just roam free with everything he has. However, he doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Freeman does what he can with this role, but it seems like one of those roles that was made for a small amount of time and only there to be the token black guy on the opposite end of the fence. A dull role that Freeman tries to save, but just can’t help but fall underneath the rest of the cast and story. There’s many more in this cast, as well, but as you can tell, I’ve pretty much exhausted myself talking about these four already, so just know that there’s plenty, plenty more.

Consensus: Steven Spielberg is the king of being schmaltzy and manipulative when it comes to his movies, and Amistad is no exception to the rule, but it still proves to be an inspirational, and very true tale of fighting for what you believe in and doing what we were put on this Earth to do in the first place. Corny, yes, but still gets you in the fighting spirit nonetheless.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Quick! Which one of these things does not look like the others?

Quick! Which one of these things does not look like the others?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Red 2 (2013)

Still old, and still have the right to bear arms. So why the hell can’t I?

A couple of years after we left off with the first adventure, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker) have finally taken time to relax and settle down. That all ends abruptly once Moses’ old pal Marvin (John Malkovich), comes back to stir up more trouble, telling him that they have both been linked to a top-secret Cold War weapon, that somehow made it’s way online. They all realize that they can’t just wait around and see what happens and instead, have to go on the run. To make matters worse however, they also find out that a bounty has been put on their head, where their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Moses’ old protégé Han (Lee Byung-hun) are on their tales and trying to get a slice of the pie any which way they can.

Most of you probably already saw by now, but I didn’t care too much for the first Red. Granted, I didn’t hate it, nor did I love it. It was just fun and fine for what it was, and that was that. However, nobody in their right mind was begging for a sequel to it, and I don’t think anybody ever will bother again, especially after this hunk of crap.

Bald heads: Unite!

Bald heads: Unite!

I mean honestly, the first one was no masterpiece to begin with, so how the hell do you screw up a simple plot about a bunch of old people getting back into action, blowing things up, and being a tad bit goofy while doing so? It’s not a hard trick to pull off, which is what the first was able to do with such ease and a laid-back feel, but not this one. This movie feels like it was almost trying too hard to be like the first movie, with the same type of humor still in place but it does not work a bit because it’s not refreshing anymore. It’s an old trick we saw done before and it’s not going to get cooler or newer as by the second, which wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t noticeable why they focused on the comedy aspect of this movie so much.

The first flick was able to balance everything out nicely, but this flick doesn’t have that skill at all. It’s mostly all comedy, all of the time and would have been fine if it was the least bit funny or chuckling, but it’s just not. It continues to go on and on and on, beating the same old joke to a bloody pulp, until it’s practically crammed itself into your brain, as if you needed any more understanding or learning of what the jokes they were trying to throw at you meant. For example, the perfect instance of a joke going on way too long, and way too far was the first time that Sarah saw her man, Frank, hooking up with another gal. For some odd reason, this gets her hormones all up in a twist and she not only decides to up the ante by getting with two guys, but I’d say about three or four. Honestly, I lost track counting because the movie continued to move with it, but instead of having it move somewhere to a spot where it would constantly be funny or inventive to use in a certain spot, it’s continued to be used the same, exact way each and every time.

Like everything else in this movie, the comedy gets real old, real quick, and it never stops. Then again, it wouldn’t have mattered, had the action or the story worked a bit, but they don’t. The plot makes no sense and eventually, I just lost myself wondering, “Why this person was trying to kill this person? Or, why this was happening at all?” The movie oddly begins with the typical plot from the first movie that’s standard, simple, and to-the-point, but then journalists, terrorists, the Russians, and nukes get involved, and it becomes too much of a chore to keep up with, or even care about for that matter. The action is good at points, I’ll give it that, but also looks cheaply-done, as if the studio itself didn’t have enough faith in the movie to perform well enough at the box office to really be granted as much money as the past two Willis action pictures of the year (A Good Day to Die Hard, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). Whether or not the movie’s actually going to make much money at the box office, or at least enough to earn it’s money back is a worry that I don’t give two shits about. I really don’t.

But at least, even in the darkest pit of the movie’s worst, most uninspired moments (which there are plenty of, trust me), the cast is enjoyable enough to watch, right? Well, it’s more of a mixed-bag this time around than the last and that’s because everybody’s doing the same act they did from the first, except it’s more amped-up because it’s a sequel, and whatever you do in the originals, means you have to do a lot more in the sequels. Such as is the case with the likes of Malkovich, Mirren, and Louise-Parker who had me chuckling and happy at some points, but seemed to be using the same old shtick that made them so pleasing to watch in the first movie. Granted, there is something grating about watching Helen Mirren hold up two machine-guns as she blasts the opposing-cars around her, but it can only go so far. She’s rarely in the movie all that much and doesn’t leave much of an impression at all, unlike the first movie where her holding a machine-gun was worth the price of admission alone.

Fire. Machine Gun. Helen Mirren. I need a new pair of shorts.

Fire. Machine Gun. Helen Mirren. I need a new pair of undies.

Still foxy, though. Holy hot damn, is she foxy.

New-comers to the franchise are Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lee Byung-hun, who both seem to actually try with this material, but fall short of juicing anything out of it. Hopkins especially, who probably gives the most disappointing performance out of the whole movie considering he seems to obviously have the spunk and energy that would make this material pop and electric, but his constant ramblings and oddness just bothered me, rather than amusing me. Even if the old joke about “the nut who still talks to his imaginary friends” isn’t funny anymore (when was it ever), don’t tell this flick that. Anything this movie has to throw at you with it’s sense of humor, it will, and if you don’t like it, then scram-off and see a different movie for goddsakes. No seriously, do that.

And last, but sure as hell not least we have Bruce Willis himself, playing Frank Moses in the blandest-way possible. I will give credit to Willis, he was fun to watch as Moses in the first movie as he seemed to have a jolly good time doing his usual “tough guy” persona to the death, and never letting up for a single action scene where it may have called on for him to get a tad physical. However, like he has been known to do in the past, he’s simply phoning it in here as Moses, as if he didn’t want to do a sequel, but just chose to because the money was good and the franchise most likely would not survive without his name attached to it. I don’t think his name attached is going to matter now, since it sucked, but let’s hope we don’t get another sequel. Let’s just hope on that one.

Consensus: Red 2 feels like it’s trying way, way too hard to be like the first one in spots, but this time, with less action and more comedy, that not only isn’t funny, but is repetitive and gets old after about the first 20 minutes or so.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Looks like they just got caught in the act of making a sequel to Red. Oh wait...

Looks like they just got caught in the act of making a sequel to Red. Oh wait…

The Elephant Man (1980)

It’s like Forrest Gump, had it been directed by David Lynch. And instead of a box of chocolates, it was life-like bunny rabbits.

Rescued from his degrading life as a circus freak, John Merrick (John Hurt) is given a chance by a dedicated surgeon (Anthony Hopkins) to live his last years with comfort, respect, and dignity. But since life has not been so kind to John Merrick, he finds it hard to open-up to the rest of the world and let others in. Then again, can ya blame him when you look like this?!?!

David Lynch is a guy that I can never wrap my head around as to whether or not I like him, or just find him bat-shit crazy. Mulholland Drive had me for the first hour or so, then just totally lost me after about the box came into play; Dune just sucked and was a film I wish I couldn’t understand, just to add some more interest to it; Wild at Heart is strange, but very engrossing with its themes and different genres; and Blue Velvet is a very strange, dark tale that worked for me mainly because of Dennis Hopper. I know, I haven’t seen all of his movies, but from what I have seen, it’s been a pretty tough act to love, let alone enjoy. However, I think I can add this one to the list of “good Lynch movies” or “enjoyably pleasant ones”.

What sets this film apart from all of Lynch’s other flicks is that it’s not all that concerned with messing with the minds of the audience, as much as it’s actually more concerned about creating a story about a man that has an obvious set-back in his life, but finds anyway possible to get past that and live the life he wants to. Lynch focuses on Merrick and gives us a story that is not only inspiring, but is also very true in the questions and ideas it brings up about how it is to be human. People look at Merrick and see an “animal”, or a “creature”, and write him off as “stupid” just because of the way he looks. However, like every idiot-savant in movies like this (in real-life, I don’t know if they exist), we start to see more of a human-being behind the look and it’s an mesmerizing thing to watch.

Some form of the KKK, I guess.

The KKK for those who are less-fortunate than us.

However, that is definitely not the case because once Merrick starts to actually talk, we all start to realize that this man is brilliant and one that many of us should look up to considering he doesn’t once ask for any pity whatsoever. Nope, this guy just wants to move on with his life and get past the fact that everywhere he goes, somebody will be staring at him and try wondering what the hell is up with his face and body. To be honest, I’d wonder and probably stare too, but I wouldn’t be as rude about it as some of these people are because I’d realize something fairly quickly: this guy’s a human-being and has feelings like any other human. It’s very hard for anybody to feel and act like this in life, and it’s even harder for a guy like Merrick, but he somehow lives this life-style the whole way through and you are ultimately pulled in right from the start. This is mostly thanks to Lynch’s directing skills because he’s able to play everything straight, while still have a little bit of his weirdness here and there. But Lynch never loses himself and always keep his heart in the right place to give us a story that is one for us all to remember and feel touched by. Sounds strange that this is coming from the same dude who gave us a Naomi Watts lesbian scene, but that’s the whole beauty of this film and what Lynch can do as a director.

But also, that was also my one big problem with this flick. See, as much as Lynch dedicated this flick to being one hell of a story about a man with problems, he still brings in all of these freak-show elements that kind of make this film more confusing than it has any right to be. The first five minutes, we get the signature, Lynch freak-out scene but then it doesn’t come around again until the middle, where Lynch starts touching on all of these freak-shows and other themes of his like the night of the obscure and some strange, sexual obsessions that people have. This wouldn’t seem like something as bad to include in one of his total, mind-fuck movies we all know and sometimes, love him for, but when you place it in a film like this, it seems a little cheap. Also, based on the story we have here, it’s very confusing for a viewer to fully understand just what the hell it is that you are trying to say in the first place. Once again though, it is Lynch we are talking about here and the guy’s never been a fully-sane, fully-functioning person to begin with.

But then again, that’s why we have characters to look at and what a character John Merrick is. Not only is Merrick an inspirational-figure in real-life, but also in this movie and wouldn’t be that way if it wasn’t for John Hurt in this almost unrecognizable role here. The makeup job is done perfectly here and captures exactly what the real person looked like (actually, that guy was worse looking it seems) and I could have only imagined how much of a bitch it must have been for Hurt to have to constantly put that on, day after day. But regardless of how annoying it must have been for him, Hurt still gives off a powerful performance and totally transforms himself into Merrick, whole also actually down-playing the role with ease and subtlety. It’s hard to be subtle when you have a shit-ton of make-up and costumes on, but Hurt is able to capture a sincere presence with his eyes. Oh, those enchanting eyes. Shame that this guy hasn’t fully gotten his due yet from the Academy, but hopefully he will soon.

"Hold me?"

“Hold me?”

Anthony Hopkins, another legend on the big-screen, is also very good in a role that seems very fit for him: Frederick Treves. Treves is a character that thinks he is doing the right thing by going around and showing off Merrick to other people, only to realize that he is pretty much doing the same exact thing to him with these meetings, as the last guy was doing with all of those “freak-shows”. It’s one of those characters that hits the dilemma of doing the right thing, but soon realizes he’s way too in over-his-head. But yet, Hopkins always keeps him loveable and for the most part, a guy that’s easy to fall back on, even when shit seems to get a little too hectic for Mr. Merrick. If there was any problem I had with Hopkins, it’s that he always has that frozen look in his eyes where you don’t quite know if he’s nice or just scary underneath all of the glitz, glamour, and charm, but it works for this character and still makes it easy enough for us to care about this guy because he means well, even if others may view it differently.

Consensus: With a surprisingly straight-forward direction by David Lynch, a pair of great performances from Hurt and Hopkins, and an inspirational story at the heart of it all, The Elephant Man is a wonderful flick that will make you feel for it’s main subject but also realize what it’s like to be a human, and what it takes to care for the other humans around you as well.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Proof that Bradley can do it all.

Proof that Bradley can do it all. Kind of.

Hitchcock (2012)

Whoever thought that Hitchcock was such a lady-killer? No, literally.

Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the legendary director we all know as Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), the film catalogs the various pitfalls and challenges Hitchcock encountered while trying to get his 1960 classic off the ground and into the movie-theaters.

If you watching movies, writing movie reviews, going to the movies, or just simply, love movies in general, chances are that you’ve heard of the legend that is, Alfred Hitchcock. He’s considered one of the greatest directors of all-time and rightfully so, because the guys has some legendary films that he’s made in his career that are over 50 years old and still hold-up, as well as inspire in today’s day and age, just as much as it did then. He’s an iconic-figure everybody knows, recognizes, and in some cases, even love, but there has yet to be a movie even made about him. There’s been thousands upon thousands of remakes that are all loosely-based off of his pieces of work, but still, there has yet to even be the slightest-glimpse of anybody trying to duplicate the look, sound, feel, and overall character of Hitchcock. Maybe the guy’s too noticeable or maybe the guy’s just way, way too loved by cinephiles out there, that it would almost be a cardinal sin to have a flick about him that has even one negative-thought about him.

Fast-forward to 2012, and we have not one, but two biopics based-on Hitchcock with this one and the HBO-movie, The Girl, that apparently talks a whole bunch of smack on him and makes no apologies for it, either. For me, I don’t really care to see that and instead, I’d much rather go with the one that’s most-likely going to pop-up more around Oscar season, and actually says some nice stuff about the guy who has made filmmaking the inventive and stylistic art that it is today.

Director of Anvil! The Story of AnvilSacha Gervasi makes his directorial-debut with an actual-movie this time around and for the most-part, does a relatively fine-job with creating everything that went-on around Hitchcock in terms of his personal life, as well as his professional life. Instead of having the whole-movie focus on Hitchcock’s time he spent on Psycho and actually getting it out there for the world to see, this is more focused on the relationship between him and his wife, Alma, who actually seemed to be the brains behind the operation. We’ve all seen the unsung hero aspect of a movie before, where one person gets all the love, fame, and gratitude for doing something incredible, whereas the other one gets diddly-squat and a pat on the back, but here, it feels reasonable and honest. You see how Alma just wants to be accepted and thanked for all of the hard-work she puts into Hitchcock’s work, even when he’s off acting like a little baby, eating, and drinking himself to death. There’s a part of you that relates to her and understands her pain, and even when it seems like she’s about to drop her knickers and get dirty with somebody else, you actually get worried for bother her and Hitchcock, considering they obviously love one another and have a special thing going together, that it would just be inhumane to let it go to waste.

As much as I may go on and on about how much of the relationship between these two matters, the fact is, it isn’t the best-parts of the movie. Probably the best part for me, as well as everybody sitting with me in the Press section during my screening, were the scenes that showed the filming of Psycho and just how Hitchcock made everything turn into magic, just by a little tweak of magic he would pull here and there. These scenes were probably the best because they showed how Hitchcock made everybody feel on-set, and most of all, showed us how hard it was to actually get a piece of work like this made, without breaking any laws or regulations that were so strict back in the 1980. It goes to show you that a lot has definitely changed in the movie-world, but also goes to show you that even Hitchcock had some problems to deal with his own.

However, being that the scenes where we follow Hitchcock filming on the set were the best, anything else that interrupted this, seemed to get in the way and really put a damper on things. Hitchcock has a subplot where it focuses on him talking to Ed Gein in his mind and trying to be like, and think like him in-order to get the right feel and mood of Psycho down-pat. The reason I had a problem with this sub-plot was not because it was annoying (which it was), but it was because it tried so hard to be like a movie Hitchcock would have made himself and just feels like it was trying too hard on that boat and should have just stuck with what was really going on. Screw Ed Gein, that dude’s a freak anyway.

Alma even gets a sub-plot and even if her’s is a bit more-interesting than Hitchcock’s, it still slows everything down and keeps it a tad boring, at times. The focus on making Psycho and keeping the relationship between these two still strong, and in-tact were interesting aspects of this movie, but focusing on anything but that just to create a certain amount of drama and tension, didn’t add or do anything at all. It just made the movie linger-on a bit more and have me await the moment til I got to hear the infamous “Shower Scene” score. And trust me, when that sound pops-up, the hairs on your neck are going to just stick straight-up.

Having somebody very famous and noticeable like Anthony Hopkins, play the titular role of Alfred Hitchcock seems a bit risky after awhile, but is still an idea you can get used to because Hopkins is always great with every role that he takes, and that is no different here. The way this movie paints the portrait of Alfred Hitchcock, is that he was a very fun-loving guy, that didn’t mind to get cheeky every once and awhile, and just wanted to have fun while he was on-set, no matter how unprofessional and boyish it looked. Hopkins definitely disappears into this role and gives one of the finer performances I’ve seen from him in awhile because he seems to be having such a ball, playing an iconic-figure we all know and can identify in no less than 10 seconds. There’s a certain-amount of joy and energy to be seen and had with Hopkins here as Hitchcock, and I honestly don’t think anybody else could have played him as well as Hopkins does. I think an Oscar nomination is definitely in-store for Mr. Hopkins, even though I highly doubt he’ll win for it.

Helen Mirren ain’t all that bad either, and is probably just as good as Hitchcock’s wife, Alma. Although Mirren may be a bit too in-shape and foxy (yes, I just said the word “foxy), for a to play Alma, who always looked frail and small in real-life, she still handles it very-well and comes off more strong of a person that Hitchcock is. Mirren definitely has her great-moments of pure fun and hilarity, but the moments where it’s her and Hopkins on-screen, together, it’s great to see because you really do feel the love and respect between the two and it’s something that I wish I saw more with married-couples in movies. Nowadays, all they ever do is fight, argue, yell, and end-up agreeing on a divorce by the end. Take a page out of Hitchcock’s book and realize that fighting, isn’t always the answer to your marriage-problems. Or if you don’t want to listen to him, then just go on the Steve Wilkos Show. You’ll probably find your answers there.

As good as Mirren and Hopkins are in the leads (and trust me, they are very good), it’s the supporting-cast of familiar faces that really makes this movie so much damn fun. A lot of people were worried to see Scarlett Johansson taking over the role as Janet Leigh, but she’s fine because of her instant-beauty, charm, and just overall likability that she has going for her; Jessica Biel is in a very small-role as Vera Miles, but still does a nice-job as a person that seems to know Hitchcock for me than he seems to be; and James D’Arcy is almost too spot-on as Anthony Perkins, capturing all of the weird tics and mannerisms that made the guy so memorable in the first-place.

Consensus: If you have an appreciation for the subject and all that he has done for filmmaking, then Hitchcock will be right-up your alley with spot-on performances, a fun-vibe, and entertaining bits of insight into making movies in the old days.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Oh, and before I head-out, go on over to see my post at GuysNation. It’s called ‘Movied’ and it will be a weekly-post so if you like what you see, comment, show me some love, and keep on going back for more. Thanks!

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

Apparently Cruise can do it all. Yes, even kung-fu.

American and British IMF teams join forces on the hunt to find a stolen virus. However, one by one the members on the teams start ending up dead. Can Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) find out who this assassin is and stop their deadly plans? From the crowded streets of Madrid to the busy harbour of Sydney, the chase is on.

With the first Mission: Impossible movie, I liked it because it was fun but felt like it was a huge disappointment considering that it seemed like the director, Brian De Palma, wasn’t really able to go full-throttle with his direction, and had to ease-in to what Hollywood wanted. Well, if Hollywood has it’s ways, they usually get rid of those types of people and bring in others. John Woo, you’re up next, buddy. Good luck!

Actually, if I was to compare both De Palma and Woo to one another, which is stupid but for the sake of a juicy-review, I would probably have to say De Palma is the better director by-far. However, if I had to compare the two to who is a better-suit for this type of material, I’d have to go with Woo. The guy is known as the go-to-guy when it comes to directing action movies and even if that honor has sort of been passed-down to others over the years, you still can’t deny or forget when this guy was always the person you’d want to direct a loud, stupid, but fun action-movie. That’s why Woo actually makes this film a bit better, however, it doesn’t start-off like that at-first, no sireee.

Where I was really losing my interest with this movie was the first 45 minutes or so, when nothing seemed to be happening. Yeah, the plot was moving-along and setting the grounds for what we would have to know, in order to understand everything more clearly, but it was all so damn boring. People were talking, melodrama was thrown at us, and worst of all, Ethan Hunt was sort of acting like a total-pussy. Like I get it, the guy has fallen for this chick and wants to be with her but can’t because of this high-profile mission, but there is no need to spend literally, 15 minutes on that whole idea. Ethan Hunt is way too cool for that, and doesn’t need his D getting bogged down by some, little sweet who’s off boning another guy. Now, it’s not really her choice but still, stop crying, do your job, and maybe, just maybe in the end, you can have some sweet-old celebration sex for the good of it all. Hey, that’s how I look at things, baby.

I will say, that after those excruciatingly boring, first 45 minutes, the movie does pick-up a little and that’s where I think Woo’s fun-direction really starts to kick-in. What makes this movie so much fun is the fact that Woo knows the type of material he’s working with, and makes no excuses for making it as idiotic and dumb as you can get with an action movie. A lot of stunts and sequences will have you scoffing your asses off at the implausibility of all that’s going on, but to be honest, that’s whats to be expected of these movies by now and it’s just so much fun to watch because Woo adds in his own, little trinkets of style in there every once and awhile. You get a lot of slo-mo, you get a lot of explosions, you get a lot of kung-fu, and most of all, you get a lot of random pigeons flying around certain scenes for more of a dramatic-effect. It’s pretty neat how Woo is able to make a Mission: Impossible movie, but still, not without putting his own stamp on the movie and showing everybody that it’s his own work, and if you don’t like it, then don’t go and give him or Cruise your money. Trust me, everybody did anyway.

And speaking of Tom Cruise, the guy still owns it as Ethan Hunt, which is something that probably comes to nobody’s surprise whatsoever. Hunt is cool, swift, and smart here, and even though I didn’t like the fact of how much time they spent on him and his heart going through a lot of pain, I still couldn’t help but think that the guy was going to pull-it-all together in the end, and come out on-top at the end of the day. Still, Ethan Hunt doesn’t need women, so stay the hell away, gals.

The gal who I keep on ranting and raving about is played by Thandie Newton, and even though she isn’t anything all that special to watch and fall in love with on-screen, she’s still okay and whatnot. I wish that the film made her more of a sly bad-ass in her own right and focused on that element of her character, but too much of that time was just spent-on her being all sad and acting like the damsel in distress that Hunt didn’t need around to get in the way of his shit. Once again, Ethan Hunt doesn’t need women.

What Ethan Hunt does need, however, is a pretty kick-ass villain and that is what he does not get here with Dougray Scott. To be honest, I’ve never seen this guy in anything else before, but I don’t really look forward to seeing that stuff either because the guy’s pretty lame here. I don’t know if it was the crappy-writing, the evil-plan he had in his head (basically, it’s just a bad-guy that has a deadly-virus he’s going to unleash on the rest of humanity, because you know, bad-guys hate everything), or his acting plain and simple, but something was not gelling well with this character at all and I just wanted Hunt to kill him as soon as possible. Actually, maybe that’s a good thing to feel for a villain, but then again, I still feel like some of that hate should be directed towards the actor and what he’s able to do with that role and that is something that Scott didn’t seem like he was all that capable of. Oh well, Ethan Hunt still kicked his ass.

Consensus: Even though it’s just a tad better than it’s predecessor, Mission: Impossible 2 is still stupid, loud, and occasionally boring,  but still features some slick style-points from Woo, and the always welcome, return-to-form for Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, once again proving that this guy can kick anybody’s ass. Katie Holmes’ next hubby, you best look-out mofo.

6.5/10=Rental!! 

360 (2012)

Sex is apparently everywhere, especially when you’re on a computer.

This is a story about a series of different characters, that are all interconnected by one another through the subject of sex. That’s right, sex is everywhere. People have it, people do it, and there’s no escaping it no matter who you may meet in the world.

With a cast with 3 Oscar-nominees (fairly recent, too), director of one of the best flicks of the past decade (City of God), and a subject that seems universal discussed and portrayed (sex), you would think that a film like this would have no problems making it to theaters, kicking some box-office bootie, and even get some “talk” come Oscar-time. However, it’s able to be viewed by Video On Demand now before it’s limited theatrical release. Hmmm….

Maybe it’s just that I’m a sucker for these kinds of flicks in the first place (interconnecting story-lines), but there was something about this flick that seemed to be working quite well. First of all, director Fernando Mereilles is definitely not the type of director who just lets his story get in the way of his style and as bad as that may sound for most directors, it’s not for this guy. There’s not much style to actually been seen here in the first place, with the exception of a couple of cool split-screen tricks that show about 4 stories at a time, but he does allow there to be enough room for compelling stories, even if they aren’t all that way.

One story, in particular really kept me intrigued the whole time just to see how it played-out in the end, was the story that began with Anthony Hopkins connecting with a young Brazilain woman on a plane. Hopkins has always been one of the best actors to ever grace the screen in the say, past 20 years and he shows that type of skill with his performance here as an old, but wise man that knows the mistakes he has made in his life and doesn’t want others repeating them, either. There’s a lot of restraint in his performance, that may separate it from a lot of his other performances but I really can’t remember the last time I saw Hopkins get a role so meaty quite like this in a long, long time. That story soon starts to follow the young Brazilian woman (who is good, but I don’t know her name) as she meets a recently released from prison pedophile, played by Ben Foster in what I think is a role that shows his true talents as a dramatic actor.

Foster has always been on the g0ods with me ever since I first saw him beat the shit out of everybody in Alpha Dog, but this is where he proves me right in saying that this guy could very well be a huge name in Hollywood, he just has to be given the right material. Foster plays a man that is so trapped in a body and mind that he can’t seem to control at all, that whenever he’s on-screen, you feel like this guy is going to crack and you don’t want him to not just because he may be a little messed-up in the head, but because you generally feel like he’s a good guy. And it’s all played out very subtle, to where you don’t know when he’s going to crack and how but little things he does, just have you thinking the worse.This performance reminded me a lot of Jackie Earle Haley’s in Little Children, but they both seem very different in their own rights and both convey very different emotions right from the start of the flick. Foster makes this story compelling as it unfolds and watching him was the real treat of this flick.

As for everybody else in this cast, they’re alright, too, along with their stories. Lucia Sipsová plays a Slovakian prostitute and has a pretty interesting story-line that spins off another interesting one and Rachel Weisz and Jude Law have a so-so story as a bored, married couple that seems to be at the end of their road with one another. Both stories are well-acted, but certainly don’t get enough screen-time as they should, especially Weisz’s and Law’s that seems to start fairly late in the film, but somehow end very early, as well. Mereilles runs into this problem a lot with this flick a lot because even if some stories are very interesting, they aren’t allowed enough time to develop and have it’s characters gain our sympathy just yet. Not every story is a miss, but there aren’t as many hits as there should be anyway.

But perhaps the biggest problem with this flick that I had was the subject-matter itself: sex. Right from the very first shot, I thought that this was going to be one of those racy, dirty flicks about how people in the world just can’t get enough of sex and where they will go just to get some of it. Almost sounds like Shame, if Robert Altman had directed it but I can assure you, that the idea of that actually happening is probably a lot more interesting than anything this flick has to say about the subject of sex. Yeah, we get it, people do bad things when it comes to sex. Some make a living out of it, some get in trouble for it, and some just can’t get over their infatuation with it and even though the film teeters on actually doing something risky with this premise, it never fully delivers. Instead, this film just gives us a bunch of stories that will make you think of something while they’re going on but when they’re off the screen, they’re out of your mind and out for good.

Consensus: With an exceptional amount of good stories and performances from this large, cultural cast, 360 does deliver on giving us a drama that keeps our attention but when it comes to providing us with some major issues and themes about the world we live in where sex is everywhere? Nope, not really there.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Frost/Nixon (2008)

I would have definitely liked it more if they interviewed the Nixon from Futurama.

This is a period piece, that centers on little-known talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), who goes way out of his way to interview probably one of the most controversial and famous presidents of all-time, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). This is the story of how those interviews went.

I really didn’t know too much about the Frost/Nixon interviews other than the fact that they both were interviews between two dudes. Goes to show you how much I paid attention in history class after all. Surprisingly though, this is not a history lesson and more of a film about the two dudes who were in these famous series of interviews together.

Director Ron Howard really gives it his all with this film because of the way he makes these interviews seem less like actual interviews and more like a boxing match of words between two famous figures. Howard keeps the tension building up and up on these interviews and gives us enough character development to realize just how much both of these people need these interviews. One for fame, the other for forgiveness and setting the record straight.

Another great element to this film that makes it so damn watchable is that it’s script is very very good with a lot intelligence, wit, and small doses of humor to keep us laughing and entertained. It’s basically a “talking heads” film where you just watch a whole bunch of people talk without anything really happening, but it’s a very fun one that relies solely on the fact that it can keep people glued into what Frost is going to ask, and what Nixon is going answer with. I never actually saw the play that this is based off of but apparently everything is taken verbatim which makes the transition from stage to screen even better.

The problem with this film that keeps it away from being anything perfect or amazing like it could have easily been is that I feel like Howard could have really went out-of-bounds with this film. Granted, this is a very small film where there isn’t really a lot happening other than these two guys talking but I feel like there could have been more of how the nation felt about these interviews, and more about other characters that are just sort of there.

I also never understood why Howard have the actors who portrayed these actual people, come off and randomly narrate what was happening and why. I feel like the film is trying to give a sort of documentary feel when in reality it could have just stayed away from that or even used the real-life people itself. We all know who the actors are and who the real people are, so there’s no need to trying to show us otherwise.

Michael Sheen is a lot of fun to watch as David Frost because this guy is sometimes at the lowest points of his life, but no matter what keeps a big olde smile on his face. Sheen reminds me of that very cheeky, very corny, but always funny British guy that always seems to think he’s better than everybody, and usually is depending on who you are talking. However, this film really does belong to the one and only Frank Langella as Richard Nixon.

Even though he doesn’t look like Nixon, Langella probably does the best performance/impersonation of the man that any other actor has ever done in their whole lives. Yes, Anthony Hopkins has played Nixon too, Langella is THAT GOOD. You notice the physical differences within the first 5 minutes but then you totally got lost in this guy because he really just sells this whole conflicted, and tormented soul that knows what he did was wrong but he can’t get past it with everyone around him always breathing down his neck. There is some pretty wild stuff that Langella does as Nixon, such as losing his temper like a 7 year-old would do if his mommy didn’t buy him ice cream, but it’s totally easy to see why Langella got nominated for an Oscar and hopefully he keeps on getting better roles from now on.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t achieve greatness, Frost/Nixon is still a great flick with two great performances, a clever script, and a direction from Howard that keeps this film tense and on its toes.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Legends of the Fall (1994)

Talk about keepin’ it in the family. Woo-hoo!

The rugged Ludlow clan — father William (Anthony Hopkins) and brothers Alfred (Aidan Quinn), Tristan (Brad Pitt) and Samuel (Henry Thomas) — splinters when Sam goes off to fight in World War I despite his father’s opposition. To protect Sam, his siblings follow suit. But their efforts fall short, and tragedy ensues. Upon returning home, Alfred and Tristan face a new battle when both fall for Sam’s beautiful fiancée (Julia Ormond).

Looking at this film from a far, you can already tell that you’re going to get some schmaltzy stuff here. However, it isn’t as bad as people would have you expect it to be.

The main problem with this film and it’s story is that it is a little too hokey for some viewers. It feels like an epic film but then starts to turn into some deep levels of melodrama that just don’t work if you’re say, a dude. Some of the stuff they have here from the cheesy score, to the hot guys (not including Anthony Hopkins, although I think he is very sexy), and to the romantic love triangle will probably all appeal more to women looking to lay down and watch a nice little story while their having their Ben and Jerrys.

Although it does get a little too cheesy at times, this film still kept my interest because I actually did like this story and where it went. The story starts off pretty average, and then goes into places that I didn’t quite expect it to, but I’m glad it did because it kept the story alive, even if it doesn’t strike an emotional cord. The cinematography is also beautiful and some of the images here almost remind me ones reminiscent of a Terrence Malick picture. Nothing like the beautiful farmlands.

The cast is what really brought this film together and with good reason. Brad Pitt is amazing as the blue-eyed, crazy kid, Tristan. He’s sort of that one boy in the family who gets in all the trouble, causes most of the trouble he gets into, and at the end of the day, you still love more and more. Pitt carries this film from start to finish and there are scenes here that would seem hammy if it were another actor in the role, but I have to say that Pitt does a great job here and has you love Tristan right from the get-go. Anthony Hopkins is good as their father William, and brings that great father-like figure that still works 7 years later in films like Thor. Aiden Quinn probably has the toughest role because he has to make a bad guy, seem actually likable and pulls it off for the most part. Nothing really special, just a good performance from a good actor, it’s just a shame that Pitt totally blows him out of the water. Julia Ormond is great in this role as the romantically troubled, Susannah, who’s character is kind of a hoe, going to all of the brothers, but somehow Ormond allows us to stand behind her character and only hope for the best as the story goes on.

Consensus: Though it gets into some pretty hammy situations, and the story may not be as emotionally involving as it likes to think, Legends of the Fall is a beautifully-filmed, and well-acted love triangle, that will hold your interest even despite how cheesy it might get.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Thor (2011)

If this is the beginning of Summer, then this is gonna be a bangin’ Summer!

This Marvel Comics-inspired action flick about the thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful warrior whose father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) — the king of Asgard — forces him to live among humans on Earth and learn humility. Once there, he finds a friend (Natalie Portman), along with unexpected enemies sent from his world.

Way back when the trailer for this film came out, everybody had basically had their mind-set on this that it was going to suck. But after seeing it, I think they will all start to change their minds.

Director Kenneth Branagh is a real odd choice for this film, since he’s basically only directed Shakespearean period pieces, which none have any action what so ever but somehow Branagh is good with action. The action is really cool because the things that Thor does with his hammer is absolutely insane, and looks so cool especially when the camera is moving all-over-the-place. They also slowed down when necessary, sped up when it was right, and just worked out so well because never will you feel that a scene is running on too long.

The script is also well done too because all the characters in this film are well drawn-out. There is a human story underneath all this God talk and fighting, which really actually won my sympathy for this film in the long run. The tone here is just a lot more brighter and funnier tone than what you would expect from the source material here, and you’ll definitely remember everyone here in this film. These aren’t amazingly memorable characters, but I have to say that I enjoyed my time with them, and if they were to make a Thor 2, I wouldn’t mind seeing these peeps again.

My main only problem with this film was that I felt like when Thor was on Earth they could have used some more interesting things for him to be introduced to, since I mean he is a dude from a whole other Galaxy, there is probably something he would need to know. Also, that town that this movie takes place in looks less of an actual town, and more of one of those bomb shelter neighborhoods that the U.S. would blow up for practice in the 1950’s. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, then you’ll know what I’m blabbering on about. Actually don’t check out that whole film, but just check that scene out, because that film sucks.

I’m also very glad that we got Chris Hemsworth as Thor because here he is so cool, so charming, and just so likable that even though he may sound like a spartan from 300, you can’t help but cheer this guy on in the end. Also, he may look like a total bad-ass, but Hemsworth actually reveals a little bit of a soft spot from within Thor, and it’s actually very cool to see. Anthony Hopkins is also very good as Odin, Thor’s father, and takes away all that trash he’s been getting talked on lately about how he’s some crazy, old loony. But Hopkins brings back that flavor we all know and love him for. Natalie Portman is good here bringing a lot of wit and humor to her character as Jane Foster. Tom Hiddleston is also good as the bad-guy Loki, who brings that evil British charm that we always despise in our “hero vs. villain” movies. Everybody else does a good job here such as Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Ray Stevenson, and a very likable Stellan Skarsgård. There’s also a cameo from a certain someone that I can’t say, but when you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

There’s also a little zinger at the end that is actually pretty interesting at the end, and not just the same old Avengers propaganda shit that shows another new character or something. Stay after the credits, because anything with Samuel L. Jackson is the shit.

Consensus: Thor is Hollywood summer blockbuster entertainment at its finest: well-acted, great to look at, easy to follow along with, briskly paced, and just a fun film that won’t have you in much need of a brain to enjoy.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Prince of Tides (1991)

Could Streisand really save your life?

A Southern schoolteacher, Nick Nolte travels to New York City and unloads a lifetime of horrific, repressed memories to a psychiatrist (Barbra Streisand) in order to help save his suicidal sister.

I think this is one of those movies where you’ll either love it, or you will absolutely hate it. But as for me, I was just in the middle of it all.

Seeing that this is directed by Barbra Streisand, your first idea would probably to run, and avoid this film at all costs. However, I was surprised by how she handles this material because it’s actually a good movie. I liked the emotional scenes that this film brought up about a broken childhood, and some of the more touching scenes are handled well. There were real issues in this film that were talked about and handled carefully, but well also. The look of this film was beautiful as well, some sights here will have you totally surprised that out of all people, Babs shot this.

The problem with this film was that I think it relied too much on the romance rather than the story behind it all. I wish there was more scenes pertaining to Nolte’s character’s childhood, because when they were talking about it, or showing scenes of it, I found myself totally attached to the screen as well as the story. Other moments, especially by the end, start to step into glossy soap opera romance that in ways is actually pretty cheesy. The cliches at the end made cringe by how incredibly obvious and cheesy the lines were, but it didn’t bother me as much. I think the reason I wasn’t so pissed off about how the film starts to kind of fall by the last act is because it is directed Barbra Streisand, and I wasn’t expecting something as good as this. It may not be perfect, but for Babs, it’s a damn masterpiece.

Nick Nolte probably gives one of his best performances of his career here, that actually won a Golden Globe over Anthony Hopkin’s famous work in Silence Of The Lambs. Nolte does a great job creating this lovable, goofy guy that has some shadows from the past, as everybody does, but how he goes about his days and time are just so perfect. Nolte makes us laugh, and he almost had me crying at one scene that really does show how good of an actor he really is. Poor guy, he just had to get that mug-shot didn’t he! Barbra Streisand is alright in this film as his lawyer, though I felt like she was trying a bit too hard in the second half of the film. I liked their romance, and I actually did believe it, which really did attribute to this film. There is also a very good supporting performance from Kate Nelligan, who plays Nolte’s mom and does a good job with the limited screen-time she is given. Also, the late, great George Carlin as Nolte’s New York neighbor, who happens to be gay. CLASSIC!

Consensus: The Prince of Tides may dive into some cornball material, and miss the mark as a romance drama, but it shows that Babs can direct a film well, with some emotionally true scenes, and good performances from the cast, especially Nolte.

7/10=Rental!!

Desperate Hours (1990)

Random hostages don’t always work in the best way.

Director Michael Cimino’s thriller centers on a separated couple, Tim (Anthony Hopkins) and Nora (Mimi Rogers), who wind up housing and trying to trap escaped psychotic killer Michael Bosworth (Mickey Rourke). Until Bosworth’s accomplice (Kelly Lynch) shows up to take him to Mexico, he attempts to elude FBI agent Brenda Chandler (Lindsay Crouse). Meanwhile, Tim and Nora broach their marital troubles in the face of terror and desperation.

The film is your basic home invasion film. Director Cimino (The Deer Hunter) tries to put a whole new different meaning to this film, and try to make it something other than a home invasion movie, where basically all of is staying in the house and being treated poorly.

I never understood why Rourke felt the need why this one house break-in was so desperate and needed. It almost came to me as random, why would he just choose this one house to basically invade and torture?

The thing that got me going with this film was a lot of the way it was actually based around, and that was suspense. It actually has a lot of genuine moments where you are on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next to this family, and these criminals, who you really despise.

The writing isn’t so top-notch and at times is a bit cliched. I feel like the film could have been a lot more dramatic by adding a lot of flavor and freshness to its writing so it could have been a lot more effective. Also, that annoying, and almost at times comical music score just annoyed the crap out of me. It felt like I was watching a film in 1990 with the old 1922 score.

The thing that saves this film is that its performances from the two leads are actually very very good. Hopkins gives his usual bad-ass character, that keeps his strength through the whole film and never loses a sense of pride. The best here is Rourke who proves to be so unlikable, and just so hateful, that his charm at times almost makes you forget he’s a total dick head.

Consensus: Desperate Hours doesn’t have the best writing and features some plot holes, but is all about suspense, and delivers on that level as well as the performances from Rourke and Hopkins.

5/10=Rental!!!

Fracture (2007)

A man kills his wife but can’t be brought down without the big factor….the EVIDENCE!!!

When Ted Crawford discovers that his beautiful younger wife, Jennifer, is having an affair, he plans her murder–the perfect murder. Crawford is immediately arrested and arraigned after confessing–a seemingly slam-dunk case for hot shot assistant district attorney Willy Beachum, who has one foot out the door of the District Attorney’s office on his way to a lucrative job in high-stakes corporate law. But nothing is as simple as it seems, including this case.

Now if Anthony Hopkins is going to play a brilliant person behind bars that has delights of playing mind games with highly intelligent lawyers you have to know that this will be compared to Hopkins” greatest Silence Of The Lambs.

The film doesn’t take itself too seriously as it does feature some tense reducing laughs. Director Greg Hoblitt and the screen writers keep us guessing. We know that Ted shot his wife but we can’t figure what ever happen to the murder weapon.

One thing about this film that really had me attracted was its two leads, and too say I wasn’t dissapointed. Gosling and Hopkins both go at each other which could have easily turned into annoyance but doesn’t as the film showed off as a sort of clash of the titans work. Gosling and Hopkins work off one another and its great to see these two work together, because each both show strong performances. The film also shows that now Ryan Gosling is not just an indie lead and can actually play with the big boys.

There were some obvious faults with this film. The story seemed to unbelievable how a smart lawyer like Gosling would be so dumb and forget about the most important factor in the case. Though the scenes with Gosling and Hopkins were great the problem was that there weren’t many more and could’ve totally added a lot more tension that the film could’ve promised. Also, the romance between Gosling and his blonde headed boss seemed like it wasn’t needed and I think its just takes away a lot of the drama the film relied so heavily on.

The film is well written although it seems to have a implausible plot, but is still overshadowed by the two strong performances by the two strong actors.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Bad Company (2002)

The two weirdest pairing of two actors I have ever seen.

Gaylord Oakes, a veteran CIA agent must transform sarcastic, street-wise punk Jake Hayes into a sophisticated and savvy spy to replace his murdered identical twin brother. He only has nine days to accomplish this “mission: improbable” before having to negotiate a sensitive nuclear weapons deal.

The concept for Bad Company is an original one if it was made before movies like Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours, and other films that feature two racially-separated people who at first hate each other but soon through fate end up becoming very fond of one another. But never has that concept been so destroyed like this film.

The writing is just so pitiful and half of the time I thought that some of this material was supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t it was serious and it made me laugh even longer. The action sequences, if you want to call it that, are just basically two groups of people shooting at each other eventually hitting or missing, but mostly ends up having the cops kill more. The most obvious and biggest cliche that is done in every terrorist thriller film is the red radar count-down numbers. This is such an overused idea that I think they should just retire this and put in a oh I don’t know a green radar count-down.

The biggest most obvious problem with this film is that Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins are way too good for this kind of material. I mean for crying out loud, freaking Hopkins was playing Hannibal Lector and one an Oscar!!! Rock is trying his hardest to be hilarious in a yawn movie, and Hopkins I just don’t think is even trying at all. Half of the scenes that Hopkins has, i you just look at his face you can just see the disgust that he has pouring out his performance for this movie.

This movie is backed up by barely anything I will only give this a non horrible rating is cause this film does try hard, a little too hard, and this film shows Rock and Hopkins totally having a ball considering I wasn’t while watching this. And the funniest thing about this movie is probably that Hopkins actually did sign on to this piece of crap!!

2.5/10=Some Ole Bullshittt!!!