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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Bill Murray

Ghostbusters (2016)

Chill out, geeks. It’s all good.

Paranormal researcher Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) have had a pretty rough relationship in the past few or so years. While Yates has been about tinkering around and playing with her toys, and finding out more about the paranormal in a slightly more silly way, Erin has been approaching the subject in a far more serious, relatively esteemed way. She’s trying to make tenure at the college she’s been teaching at, but she can’t seem to take herself away from that past-self of hers that loved spooky ghosts and communicating with whatever ghost-like things were out there. Now, the two are back together and figuring things out when strange apparitions appear in Manhattan. Along with them to find out more about these ghostly creatures, is engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), a slightly odd gal who loves the hell out of her cool gadgets and toys, and Patty Tolan, a lifelong New Yorker who knows the city inside and out. Armed with proton packs and plenty of inspiration, the four women prepare for an epic battle as more than 1,000 mischievous ghouls descend on Times Square, as they not only hope to save the world, but also still seem legit in the long-run.

Go-go gadgets!

Go-go gadgets! Oh, wrong reboot/rehash/remake!

Okay, everyone. It’s time to shut it. Yes, the new Ghostbusters movie is totally forgetting that the first one ever existed; yes the new Ghostbusters features women in those iconic roles everyone remembers from the original; and yes, it’s actually an okay movie. A lot of people couldn’t handle the fact that their beloved childhood treasure was going to be changed for the sake of putting a new spin on an old story, and well, of course, more money. It’s not wrong to think that, and after all of the terrible trailers, it’s fine to get a little worried, but have no fear, as the new Ghostbusters is the kind of movie you’d expect from director Paul Feig.

Except, well, not as good.

That isn’t to say that the new Ghostbusters is a fine and fun movie; there’s plenty to like about it, without ever thinking too hard about anything really. The comedy works when it’s just a bunch of these characters goofing around and ad-libbing whatever Feig doesn’t feel like trying to write to paper; the call-backs, of which there are a whole bunch, are fine and do have that perfect balance between sentimentality and nostalgia that’s not always seen in reboots/rehashes/remakes of this kind; and yes, the performers are quite good.

However, while watching the new Ghostbusters, I couldn’t help but feel like this was a pretty big step back for Feig and co. Ever since Bridesmaids, he’s been building himself as one of the few incredibly reliable directors in comedy who, yes, definitely knows what’s funny and what isn’t, but also seems to be growing. Spy may forever be his giant leap from just being, yet again, another “comedy director”, to someone with hopes and ambitions to be something bigger; while it was essentially “a comedy”, it also had a lot of fun, twisty and exciting action to go along with it, all of which Feig seemed to film perfectly.

Here, with the new Ghostbusters, Feig seems as if he wants to bring all of that fun and excitement he had with that project, over to here, but there’s almost too much for him to do and work around, that makes it all seem like a bit much. The callbacks and popping-up of old characters can tend to be a bit draining (especially when a few of them aren’t even funny); the exposition and plot begin to take over to where it takes away from any actual fun that could still be found in this plot nowadays; and yes, it’s PG-13.

Sure, it may not seem like much, but it totally is.

After all, Feig is perhaps best when he allows for his characters and his cast to just run wild with material, whether scripted or not, and just see where everything falls. Of course, he has to keep the improvisation limited to a few scenes and he also has to remember that there’s a plot that needs to be pushed, die-hard fans who need to be serviced, and a rather more family-friendly crowd to have in-mind, especially when picking and choosing what comedy bits to use.

Lesbian, or nah?

She may be a lesbian, but please, let’s not add anymore fuel to the fire.

For Feig here, it seems as if he’s not as loose and wild as he once was – now, he’s got people really looking at him, making sure he doesn’t miss a beat or screw something up. I’m pretty sure that’s how it was on his past few films, but here, it appears like it got to him a bit, where some of the interest from his other movies seem to be lost. He’s not “selling out”, obviously, but he’s also not gaining anymore cred, either.

Either way, it’s an okay job on his part, as he gets everything right, but at the same time, it also feels like he wasn’t allowed to be his full-fledged self here.

That said, his cast is talented and they more than help him out. McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Strong, and yes, even Chris Hemsworth, are all funny, even if their characters feel a tad bit thin. McCarthy, Wiig and Strong seem to get the most development, but unfortunately, McKinnon doesn’t. Her character, if anything, is just there to do and say, weird and crazy things for no other reason, except to be weird and crazy. The movie never makes an attempt to really go any further into her background and while it’s a shame we don’t get it here, I do have the feeling we’ll get it some time soon, in the sequels, if there are any.

And yeah, Hemsworth is perfect here. He’s funny, stupid, chiseled and as masculine as you can get without dying of devouring five T-bones in one sitting.

Basically, he’s perfect. More of him, please kind sir.

Consensus: Better than everyone expected, Ghostbusters is funny and charming, but also feels like Feig and his crew are being held back a little by the well-known franchise, and all of the extra baggage that comes along with it.

6 / 10

They're here. They're gals. And guess what, they're going to stay. Deal with it, nerdos.

They’re here. They’re gals. And guess what? They’re going to stay. Deal with it, dorks.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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The Jungle Book (2016)

Why can’t all animals of the jungle get along and jam out?

In this reboot, we find young Mowgli (bright and spirited newcomer Neel Sethi) running around the hills with his wolf family. Although Mowgli himself is not in fact a wolf, he was raised as one when he was just a little baby and ever since then, has been called “man cub”. While every animal in the jungle seems to be used to and fine with Mogwli, one such beast does not. Here enters Shere Khan (Idris Elba), an evil, maniacal and fearsome tiger who lets his presence be known everywhere he goes, who demands that Mowgli leave the jungle, before it’s too late. Mogwli does leave the jungle and head for land where humans exist, but on the way, he meets a colorful list of characters and other beasts of the jungle. There’s Baloo (Bill Murray), the free-spirited, warm and fuzzy bear that meets Mogwli and strikes up of a nice friendship with him; there’s Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a snidely, slithering snake who may be taking advantage of the young and meek Mogwli; and most of all, there’s an ape named King Louie (Christopher Walken) who tries to strike up a deal with Mogwli.

Chimps....

Chimps….

Did we really need a reboot of the Jungle Book? Especially one in 3D? Probably not, but hell, it surprisingly feels good to have one that’s this great. Jon Favreau’s been a solid director for as long as he’s taken up time behind the lenses, and while he hasn’t always had the best of movies (looking at you, Cowboys & Aliens), there’s no denying that there’s something about the guy’s artistry and passion that make him a solid film-maker. And all of that same artistry and passion that’s been showing in the past decade or so, is out in full, bright spirit with the Jungle Book; the kind of big-budget blockbuster that you’d expect to be a totally soulless, lifeless and utterly boring cash-cow trying to bring a tale as old as time for the new generation of kids.

However, it’s very far from.

If anything, the Jungle Book is as fun as you can get with a blockbuster right now. What with the summer season looming on the horizon, it’s nice to get a blockbuster that, yes, is big, ambitious and a tad loud, but also isn’t bloated by any means. I don’t know if Favreau himself had any affinity or love for the Jungle Book original story or movie, or if he just saw a nice paycheck gig to work with, but either way, he seems dedicated to making this material work more than it ought to.

And most of that shines through the absolutely breathtaking and beautiful CGI. In the post-Avatar world we live in, it’s nice to see a movie that uses the 3D format to its advantage, rather than just being slapped-on by a studio so that they can get more money and dimly light the screens some more. Obviously, there’s been some good 3D movies in the past few years, but for the most part, none of them have really used it to their advantage to allow for their story to pop-off and excite the audience anymore, or better yet, add an element to the movie, that makes it worth spending all of that money to see in the theaters.

Except for the Jungle Book.

Here, it seems like Favreau knows that working with 3D can be fun, when you use it right. You don’t have to chuck each and everything at the audience to make them shriek and duck (although that does happen a few times here, but it’s fine, because it’s fun), nor do you have to make it seem like your story doesn’t exist without it – you can most definitely have a fun time with it and allow for it to draw audiences into the world your creating more. Here, in the wide, vast and wild world of this jungle that Mogwli and all of these characters live and survive in, it’s hard not to feel like what we’re seeing is just a small part, of a very big world and it’s these scenes where we get to see it adventured out into that makes the Jungle Book, at times, exhilarating.

and snakes....

and snakes….

But what Favreau does best with the Jungle Book is that he gives us a kids movie that, yes, can also be for adults, but mostly for the whole family. While there’s plenty of scary and downright terrifying situations that happen here, Favreau never seems to overdo the sheer terror, but he also doesn’t downplay it, either. In this jungle, we know that anything and anyone can come, get you, and make you their lunch, while also knowing that there truly is something beautiful and majestic about these creatures that live in it, too. Favreau seems to love this world that he’s creating, but he also doesn’t forget to show that there’s some true danger for those who live in it. But have no fear, parents – your kids will not be scared s***less. If anything, they’ll be slightly chilled, but then, have it all go away when they get a look at the pretty, sometimes cute, but always believable elephants, wolves, bears, monkeys, buffalo, and plenty others.

And yes, this kids will also love all of the wonderfully colorful and lovely character who pop-up every now and then, just like kids, almost 50 years ago, fell in love with the same ones.

Except this time, they’re more life-like, detailed and most importantly, voiced by famous people!

Is there a reason why these characters should be voiced by famous actors? Not really. Some of the times, with movies such as this, the voice-acting can get so distracting that you just start to picture the famous actor, cozying up on a couch, drinking some fine Scotch, smoking a cigar, and pleasantly reading their lines, while also readying for their huge paychecks. And that happens here; actors like Lupita Nyong’o, Giancarlo Esposito, Scarlett Johansson, and Ben Kingsley, seem as if they’re just delivering their lines in their mansions, which isn’t to say that their bad, but just kind of plain and ordinary.

Others, like Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, and most of all, Bill Murray, actually bring their characters to full life and give us a reason as to why they deserve to be chosen in the first place. Elba is scary and menacing as the equally scary and menacing Shere Khan; Christopher Walken adds a funny, almost ironic tone and feel to the surprisingly scary King Louie; and Bill Murray, with all of the warmth and love in the world, makes Baloo appear all the more lovable and heartfelt than ever before. And yeah, making his big-screen debut, Neel Sethi is fine as Mogwli, but the story doesn’t always concern him or his acting skills; mostly, it just wants him to run around, yell stuff, and just seem like a kid, which he does fine with.

Oh, the days of youth. How I miss them so.

Consensus: Exciting, beautiful, and emotional, the Jungle Book hits all of the right notes that the original animated flick did many years ago, however, on a greater, far more grander scale – one that Jon Favreau is perfectly capable of handling.

8 / 10

...and bears! Oh my!

…and bears! Oh my!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

A Very Murray Christmas (2015)

Murray1Hangin’ out with Bill Murray is the only Christmas gift a person needs.

Due to solely to the fact that his agent permits it, Bill Murray is forced to hold a Christmas show that’s supposed to broadcast live for the whole world to see. While none of this should be a problem for such a seasoned-pro like Murray, he’s incredibly uneasy about it because, well, nobody’s going to actually be there to participate. There’s a huge snowstorm going on in New York City that has closed all roads or forms of transportation, leaving Murray to handle the show all by himself. Then, as the night progresses, Murray soon realizes that maybe there’s more to Christmas than just being a miserable, annoying and sad Grinch; sometimes, it’s about making those around you feel better and happier about the time of the season. That’s why, despite being stuck inside of the Carlyle Hotel, Murray makes the best out of it, hanging around, drinking, singing, and meeting all sorts of people that he would have never expected to meet, had this been any other normal night. But because this is Christmas, anything is possible.

Phoenix + Paul Shaffer? Why not!

Phoenix and Paul Shaffer? Why not!

At under just an hour, A Very Murray Christmas is the kind of variety show that I love to see, yet, so rarely get. While most movies starring Bill Murray have been touted as being “more time to hang-out with Bill Murray”, A Very Murray Christmas is exactly that; we’re literally thrown into this one night of his life, forced to hang around him, and watch as he interacts with everyone he encounters during this one, fateful night. For those who despise Murray, obviously, this will not be their cup-of-tea. However, for those on the exact opposite side of the fence, it’s exactly the party you want.

It’s also the kind you don’t want to ever end, which is why the 56-minute run-time, feels almost too short.

Granted, Netflix and director Sofia Coppola have all been touting A Very Murray Christmas as nothing more than just a Christmas special and leaving it at that, but still, more time spent with Bill Murray being, well, Bill Murray, is time well-spent. So, why not spend as much of it as we can?

That’s why, despite it being odd that I’m reviewing something seen as “a special”, and not exactly “a movie”, I can sit right here and type away, saying that A Very Murray Christmas is not just a great Christmas special, but a great time altogether. It’s as if Coppola herself remembered how much of a great time it was to work with Murray on Lost in Translation, that to not just get a chance to hang with him again, but also allow for other people to see what she loves about him, she conned Netflix into giving her as much freedom and money as they possibly could to help her make this special and do whatever the hell she wanted to do with it.

Wanna throw Phoenix in there as musicians-disguised-as-chefs? Sure, why not! Hell, how about Dexter Poindexter as a bartender who sings and dances? Or, better yet, why not just have Jenny Lewis be here as a waitress who can do everything that Bill Murray can do? And heck, while we’re at it, why not just have a sort-of dream-sequence featuring George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, and tons of half-naked women who can’t wait to maul Bill Murray?

For the most part, as you can probably tell by now, A Very Murray Christmas was made to just have fun, throw stuff at the wall, and see just what sticks. And mostly, everything that Coppola throws at the wall, sticks; there’s a bit early-on concerning Michael Cera as a manager who wants Bill Murray that seems to come out of nowhere (even given the rest of the special), and is only around to poke jokes at the Monuments Men (which is, yeah, fine), and doesn’t really matter. All we want to see is where this special will go next, who is going to sing what song, and just what the hell Bill Murray is going to be up to.

I'll join in!

Rich people having fun makes me sad.

And well, because this is his special, first and foremost, it makes total sense that Bill Murray’s the best part of it all.

While I’m not sure how much of this special was scripted, it sure as hell just seems like Murray, being Murray, decided to throw it out the window and just do whatever he oh so pleased. There’s something absolutely joyous in watching this because, well, he brings out the best in those around him; the previously mentioned Phoenix have a nice duet with Murray that amounts to Murray just egging everyone on and teasing them. Phoenix is loving, Murray’s loving it, Coppola’s obviously loving it, and hell, for that matter, we’re loving it, too!

Everybody else who shows up in A Very Murray Christmas all seem like they signed-up just to have fun and hang around with a dear old pal of theirs, which makes the special feel all the more pleasant. Everyone who shows up either gets a chance or two to make their presences known, and add a little flavor to the whole special. Most of it’s funny and hardly ever disappoints, even if, occasionally, it does just feel like a bunch of attractive, insanely talented people getting together and doing whatever they want.

But you know what? It’s the holidays and I will never have a problem with that!

Just next time, please, invite me. I promise I’m a fun guy.

Consensus: A Very Murray Christmas may be short with hardly even hitting an hour, but is still filled with all sorts of joy, humor and unpredictable excitement that it’s more than worth the time you take out of your day to check it out. And if you don’t want to do it for me, then fine – just do it for Bill. He’ll be happy.

9 / 10

Seriously. Don't ask. Just watch and enjoy the holiday season.

Seriously. Don’t ask. Just watch and enjoy the holiday season.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Enter the Void (2010)

People in rehab, don’t check this out.

Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is a young American currently living in Japan. We join him in his apartment just as he takes a hit of DMT, which provokes a long, hallucinogenic trip sequence. However, within the next few minutes, he is shot by police during a raid and his soul is left to roam about in the after-life as it goes from past, present, and future forms of Oscar’s life.

Gaspar Noe is not one of those directors whose pieces of work are meant to entertain you and/or make you happy. They are more or less the types of films you watch, by yourself, while sitting in deep and dark misery, by yourself, and are ultimately left to think about for days on end, by yourself. That’s why this movie, just like with the case of Irreversible, attracted me right from the start as I had no idea what to expect, what I was in-store for, and whether or not me or my insides would be able to handle all of this material. Thankfully, everywhere from my head, to my toes were able to handle Enter the Void.

But still, there were some close-calls.

The groundwork for a sweet and simple story is all here and ready to be completed, but there just isn’t any deliverance it seems like on Noe’s part. Instead, the guy seems more concerned with the style; it’s a smart decision on the guy’s part if not the wisest one. No matter how groggy or stupid this story may get (and trust me, it definitely gets that way, but more on that later), Noe’s direction always kept me alive, awake, interested, and constantly watching as to where it was going to end up next. Just like with Irreversible, Noe films this all in one-shot, or, at least that’s how he makes it seem with the invisible cuts that take place every now and then. It’s a gimmick, but ultimately, it’s a gimmick that works and makes this flick hard to turn away from.

Why the hell would I want to watch my sister getting boned in the after-life?!? There's gotta be a way to find Eva Mendez somehow.

Why the hell would I want to watch my sister getting boned in the after-life? There’s gotta be a way to find Eva Mendez somehow.

But yeah, it’s a beautiful flick and Tokyo couldn’t have been a better spot for Noe to film this deep, dark tale in. People who feel as if they got the real, inside scoop on the underground world of Tokyo just by watching Bill Murray and Scar-Jo roam about in their crisis-phases, haven’t seen anything yet until they see this movie. Every shot is filled with color, whether they be bright or dark and it’s the way that Noe is able to manipulate certain color schemes or patterns in a scene is where this flick will really mesmerize you as you feel like you know what each color in the flick means, but yet, you don’t care too much to think about it too deeply because it’s just so astounding to look at. It does look very CGI-ish, but it’s also the right kind of CGI that feels necessary to the story and isn’t just up on the screen to be flashy and/or showy.

As you can probably tell by my constant rambling and ranting, Noe’s problem isn’t that he isn’t an inspired-director – actually, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Noe seems to understand the type of vision and look he wants to give to every single scene in his movie and never steps away from showing us the gritty, disturbing aspects of it that would most likely turn movie viewers away from, right away. However, by the end of the movie, you’re going to feel like that’s all he has to offer.

The first hour of this film is probably where it’s at it’s best where we see this guy’s life, literally from his POV and we get a sense of who he is, where he’s come from, and how he’s become, who he is now; which, in this case, is just another druggie at the bottom of the sewage pipe-line. It’s fun, vibrant, exciting, and actually heartfelt considering we see and know everything there is to know about this guy in order for us to care about him and the setting he surrounds himself with. But by the time that first-hour clocks in and we are introduced to his soul and the adventure it takes, then things begin to shake up a tad bit.

And not in the good way, either.

There’s a part of me that thinks Noe had every notion to make a compelling and complete story about the afterlife, but that story just got lost in a vision that’s almost too much, for so little. The last 30 minutes of this film just continued to constantly beat me over-the-head with everything in it’s will-power and as much as I was game for that first hour where things were electric and wild, I was feeling like it was game over, long before the movie was ever actually over. There’s plenty of sex, drugs, nudity, and money-laundering that goes down in the first hour, but it felt necessary to the story; whereas the last hour or so, just felt like Noe went on over-drive and couldn’t stop himself.

Take for instance, the whole sequence where we get a long glimpse inside the infamous Love Motel the movie makes several references to throughout. We see people boning in some very graphic ways, as well as doing drugs and being naked, but yet, it doesn’t serve a purpose and just continues to go-on-and-on-and-on, until Noe finally woke up from his deep slumber of style and realized, “Oh crud! I have a story to tell!”. I highly doubt those were the words that went through his head, but still, it’s so damn obvious that the guy just lost himself in his own style, without even remembering why he was there in the first place. Enter the Void could have ended at any second and it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Heck, even when the guy did end the movie, not only is it disappointing, but it also makes no real sense.

Nowhere in the U.S. looks like. Only Tokyo, especially when you're on drugs.

Nowhere in the U.S. looks like this. Only in Tokyo, especially when you’re on drugs.

The idea of seeing the world you lived with and are leaving behind, definitely seems like the type of material that would have any person tearing-up and reflecting on their own choices, but that isn’t this film. Which is fine, of course, as it’s much more about the way that we look at death through the microscope of our own lives. With Irreversible, Noe at least got the style down, but the substance was what helped it work more. Here, we’re just given the style that makes you never want to take drugs ever again, nor make you want to have sex with more than one person at a time. Highly doubt that the flick was going for that at all, but it’s the type of effect I could see this movie having on the squares of society.

But if there’s anything else that Enter the Void gets across, it’s that, once again, Paz de la Huerta truly does love not wearing clothes.

Like, at all.

Even though it does make sense as to why she’s constantly in her birthday suit the whole time, it does get a tad ridiculous and annoying. I mean, hell, the she’s cooking breakfast with her lady-parts, basically! Throw some slacks on and step the hell away from the eggs! Huerta doesn’t really get much acting to perform, but she has a nice body and, if anything, I guess that’s got to count for something.

Consensus: Enter the Void is as crazy and wild as you’d expect from an auspicious auteur like Gaspar Noe, which can, for the most part, mean that the story is left on the back-burner for pretty-looking visuals and gimmicks.

6.5 / 10

Reminds me of myself after New Years. Minus the drugs, the gunshot, and the death.

Reminds me of myself after New Years. Minus the drugs, the gunshot, and the death.

Photos Courtesy of: CTCMR.com

Aloha (2015)

This time, it means goodbye.

After being away for many years, defense contractor Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) returns to Hawaii where he sees people from the past that haven’t been in contact with him for nearly 13 years. People such as a former flame of his (Rachel McAdams), former co-worker (Danny McBride), and person who used to employ him and now, may need him more than ever, business tycoon Carson Welch (Bill Murray). However, Brian is now setting his sights on the future when he’s partnered-up with Air Force pilot Allison Ng (Emma Stone), who is supposed to take him all around Hawaii, guide him through certain places, and overall, get to make his stay a whole lot more comfortable. The reason being is because Brian’s in Hawaii to oversee the launch of a weapons satellite that comes strictly from Carson Welch’s own pocket. While Brian realizes that this is illegal, he still has to go through with it considering that he has nowhere else to go, or nothing else to do; Allison, on the other hand, knows this is wrong and despite her feelings for Brian, can’t find it in her to stand by such a decision.

Or, you know, something like that.

Fly. Fly far away from here.

Fly. Fly far away from here.

Honestly, the plot synopsis I just wrote is a bit of a stretch, because I’m still not sure what exactly this movie was all about. None of that has to do with the fact that I didn’t have my cup of coffee beforehand, or was constantly on my phone – it’s all due to the fact that whichever studio heads decided to chop Aloha up, chopped it up real good. Meaning, that any sign of what may have been Cameron Crowe’s original idea for a movie, gets totally lost in something so messy, so incoherent, and something so odd, that it made me feel bad for just about everybody involved.

However, regardless of what you may hear or see, it’s not terrible. The reason for that being is because the cast actually seems to be trying and although a lot of what they do here doesn’t add up to a cohesive whole, it’s hard to be angry at everybody here and blame them. Especially since, in most instances, they’re the main reasons the movie’s worth being watched.

Like, for instance, take Emma Stone as Allison Ng, a character who is actually supposed to be Asian, but we’ll leave that alone for now. Stone, as usual, is fun, light, perky, and charming as hell. It’s seemingly impossible to despise her presence in anything she shows up in, and although Allison is a lot like Kirsten Dunst’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl in Crowe’s Elizabethtown, I found her a lot more believable, if only because Stone made her so. Even when she starts to have feelings for Bradley Cooper’s character, it comes from a place of adoration and respect, and isn’t just because she wants to bang the hottest the guy who just so happens to step into Hawaii.

Because if that were the case, clearly she’d be gunning for Bill Murray. Like, come on. No competition whatsoever.

And of course, Bradley Cooper’s fine, too. Brian Gilcrest seems like the same kind of challenging, incomplete, and imperfect protagonist that Crowe loves to write about and while he may not get the movie that say, someone like Tom Cruise deserved with Jerry Maguire, Cooper still tries, time and time again. Same goes for the likes of Danny McBride, John Krasinski, Bill Camp, Alec Baldwin, Rachel McAdams, and most of all, Bill Murray, who, oddly enough, is saddled with a villainous role that never seems to actually step over the line from being “bad”, but instead, just stays like the Bill Murray we all know and love.

But most of the problem with an ensemble this so finely stacked, is that they don’t get much to do in Aloha. Perhaps in the original cut that featured a lot more character moments, as well as explanation of just what the hell Brian Gilcrest is doing in Hawaii in the first place, but not here. Instead, what we’re stuck with here is an odd movie that wants to be so many things at the same time, and while it slightly succeeds at one of them, the rest feel useless and just thrown in there for the sake of taking up time.

Which is especially odd, considering that the movie’s hardly even two hours.

Please hook up. Make this some bit of interesting.

Please hook up. Make this some bit of interesting.

In a way, you could say that Aloha would have probably benefited from another half-hour or so, just so that we could have gotten more of whatever Crowe had initially written-out. The elements with Stone and Cooper were fine as is, so no tampering needed to be done with them, but what about the whole love-angle between Cooper and McAdams? That was probably the juiciest part of this whole movie, where our protagonist has to deal with the missed-opportunities he has to face in his life now, and instead, it’s treated as a minor subplot in the grander scheme of things. Instead of learning more about this character’s past through the way he interacts with those around him, we get to see him constantly battle with whatever demons are taking over his mind during this “mission”.

Once again, the movie never makes clear of what said mission actually is, up until it’s actually happening and even then, it’s still never clear. This is just another example of a studio not liking a final product, getting scared, and instead of working with the creator on it and seeing what could work best, they decided to mish and mash it up anyway that they saw fit. That isn’t to say that Crowe doesn’t at least deserve a partial amount of the blame, because he does, but it’s also to point out the fact that sometimes, movie studios really can rip apart anything that they want.

However, Crowe can be blamed, too. With Crowe’s movies, his dialogue usually feels heightened in the sense that we know that the dialogue his characters use, aren’t actually how real people talk. But for some reason, you sort of wish real people did and for that reason, it’s interesting to hear what they have to say next and how they say it. Some of Crowe’s earlier films are great examples of this, but lately, he’s gotten a bit ahead of himself and now, it’s starting to seem like he’s trying to recreate that piece of magic he had with “You Complete Me“.

Either way, it’s a dragon that Crowe should stop chasing, because it’s not helping himself out, or the actors that are forced to utter his stupid lines.

Consensus: Aloha isn’t a total and complete, unwatchable misfire, but it does feel as if it’s been tampered with too much to the point of where it takes away from the story, the message, and the talented cast that deserve better.

5 / 10

The love triangle that deserved a better movie.

The love triangle that deserved a better movie.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Wild Things (1998)

Drunk, alone, and horny? Turn this one on and you’ll have a new best friend.

Two high-school girls (Denise Richards and Neve Campbell) accuse their teacher (Matt Dillon) of raping them on two separate occasions. The guy tries his hardest to defend himself against this terrible case, but it’s not quite as it seems as we see from detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon). Even if Duquette himself may be up to no good, either.

To be honest, the only real reason this film is as popular as it once was (and maybe still is), was all because of the infamous threesome and a rare dong-shot all being placed in a big, Hollywood production. Not that there’s necessarily anything daring about two girls and a guy engaging some hot, steamy sex, or even a slight shot of some male genitalia, but being that this was a pretty big movie, it created quite the stir. But is there more here to at least enjoy other than that threesome?

Yeah, but not too much.

Former Bond girl there, folks!

Former Bond girl there, folks!

It’s been awhile since the last time I saw a whodunit and Wild Things is a classic example of a whodunit that’s made to just keep on getting more and more ridiculous as it runs along. The script, for one, is probably not the best out there and can seem really lazy at points. You would expect a sexy little thriller like this to have some ultra-sexxed up dialogue that ladies would be quoting to dudes everywhere, but instead, it just comes off like a corny B-movie flick that goes through the motions with all of it’s dialogue. So, basically everything you’d expect from your ordinary B-movie, you get here and it’s sometimes hard to watch and enjoy because it’s so damn laughable at points. Now, there is a certain thing to be said about that and that’s how I actually found myself having fun with it but still, when everybody is serious and you are pretty much the only one laughing, you have to feel like something was missing here or that these people just weren’t in on the joke. I think I choose both.

As for the little plot twists that seem to come out of nowhere, they’re okay and actually make this story a bit interesting. Since there are so many plot twists to be had here, you can’t help but think that the film sort of loses itself with being a bit too over-exaggerated with itself, but it at least creates a tense mood to surround everything. Some of the twists took me by surprise, and some of them still took me by surprise, but after awhile I started to think about them and realize that they made absolutely no sense to the story at all and may have just been thrown in there for shits and gigs after all. Hey, I’m all down for a couple of neat plot twists here and there to spice up the story, but don’t make it overkill!

Then, there is, of course, the infamous threesome which will probably go down as the film’s biggest claim to fame and I will cut it some slack on, because it’s pretty freakin’ hot.

Usually when I watch films when some raunchy sex scenes are happening right in front of me, I don’t really feel anything since I know that they’re all fake and they aren’t really engaging in any sorts of sex with each other. But for some odd reason, with Wild Things, it all felt too real and it was just as hot and sexy as I remembered it being all those years ago around the first time I watched it. I won’t comment on the infamous dong scene but for all of the ladies out there, you got your six degrees of Bacon, alright!

"What did you say about the Following possibly getting cancelled?"

“What did you say about the Following possibly getting cancelled?”

Speaking of Kevin Bacon (and getting away from his actual Bacon!), he’s actually the best out of the whole main cast because the guy can sell any role no matter what he has to do and you can almost feel like this guy was just laughing at everybody else’s acting in the film by how laughable they can all be. Those ones I’m talking about are Matt Dillon and Denise Richards who could be placed in the “so bad, they’re good” category for the respective performances they give off here. Dillon plays up that macho, hammy bullshit dude that nobody likes and the whole film, just seems like he’s phoning it in from start-to-finish where you don’t really see this guy being an evil genius, you just see him being a total schmuck. Then, you got Denise Richards who is terrible in this role as the main high school girl who starts all of this drama and deliver every line of dialogue as if it were a self-serious soap opera, but without any slight wink to the audience. Dillon has barely any of that, but at least some, as opposed to Richards being such a dull presence to begin with, the fun sort of get sucked-out.

Though these two are pretty bad at what they do here, they don’t fully bring the ship down and leave everybody else to dry. Neve Campbell at least has some nice touches with her sympathetic character that got the best treatment out of everybody here, but still somehow seems like she gets the short end of the stick at the end. But as good as she is, she stands nowhere near to how great Bill Murray is as Dillon’s ambulance-chasing attorney that absolutely takes the film’s script, wipes his greasy hands all over it, and leaves some sort of particles that make the film a whole lot more entertaining whenever he’s up on-screen. I’ve said it many, many times before, but Bill Murray is the freakin’ man and whenever the guy isn’t out chillin’ with RZA, or playing a zombie, the guy can still take small roles like these and make them the most memorable due to that perfect comedic-timing.

Makes me wish he was in the film more, but hey, I guess that’s why we all love Bill Murray in the first place.

Consensus: While it’s hot and steamy for sure, Wild Things does get a bit too bogged-down by its own plot-twists, to make this campy-ride feel like one that’s a bit too rampant and wild for its own good.

5.5 / 10

Keep being you, Bill.

Keep being you, Bill.

Photos Courtesy of: IMDB, Premiere.Fr

St. Vincent (2014)

Are we calling Bill Murray a saint? I think so.

Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray) isn’t the type of guy you want to be around when he’s in a bad mood; or generally, any mood. He’s a hard-drinking, gambling, and womanizing scuzz-bucket that’s hardly nice to anyone he’s around and likes it that way. It keeps him further away from being annoyed by people and just makes his life a whole lot simpler. However, that all changes once a mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), move next door. Because they’re all by themselves, the mommy has to constantly work long and hard, which leaves the son alone and without anyone to watch over him. This is where Vincent gets roped into being the baby-sitter of sorts, but only because he’s getting paid $11 an hour, mind you! But even though Vincent’s crass and teaches Oliver the ways of the world that his mother wouldn’t be too happy with, Oliver still sees some goodness in Vinny and wants to keep on hanging around him, even if there seem to be problems in Vincent’s personal-life just constantly tallying-up.

By now, the legend of Bill Murray is a great one. He’s the kind of out-spoken guy in Hollywood that has a few friends, as well as many enemies, but still finds himself charming the hell out of everyone. Not to mention the fact that whenever he shows up at a random house-party, the internet practically breaks wide open, showing us just how cool and down-to-Earth somebody of Murray’s star-status actually is.

Out of the way, kid!

Out of the way, kid!

Another alleged claim that adds more appeal to Murray’s legend is the fact that he supposedly doesn’t have an agent. Meaning, if there’s anybody out there who wants to work with Murray in any way whatsoever, they have to get a hold of a special phone-number of his, where they can leave their number for him to get back to them on. Now, of course some of this may not be all true, but it sort of shows; Murray is known to be quite the selective actor and is practically the only movie star who can get away with doing whatever he wants to, with whomever he wants to. Not because he’s Bill Murray, but because the dude’s a solid worker and has shown on more than a few occasions that he’s not just hilarious, but emotionally-involving, whenever the material needs him to be so.

I say all of this, because it’s a real surprise how bad St. Vincent can sometimes be.

Sure, not all of it is bad and mostly, Murray’s not to blame for it, but here’s my question: How can somebody who is as selective and, well, usually consistent in what he chooses like Murray is, get drawn to something as conventional as this? Is it the fact that it’s a coming-of-ager that has Bill Murray being his usual dick-head-ish self one second, and then lovable the next? Or, is it simply that these are the only right offers that Bill Murray gets nowadays?

Whatever the answer may be, it doesn’t totally matter because the fact is that this movie is definitely a mess. Although, it’s not a terrible mess. Most of this is because the cast, especially Murray, seem like they’re really giving it their all here. Even if they don’t fully end up working for the film as a whole, at least they added something. Like, for instance, take Naomi Watts as the pregnant stripper/hooker Vincent constantly hangs around/bangs – the role is terribly-written, not funny, and makes Watts herself, a highly respectable actress in her own right, have to use this wretched Russian-accent that isn’t the least bit believable. However though, while it may not work, you still have to give it to Watts for trying, even if it doesn’t fully work out all that well in the end.

Which is kind of weird, considering that we have Chris O’Dowd here playing Oliver’s priest/school teacher who isn’t really hiding his Irish-accent and is, instead, sort of just rolling with it and finds a way to make us laugh and totally believe in the fact that he would be in this school, and in this story. And heck, even the same could be said about Melissa McCarthy, because while this is a role for her in a comedy, she isn’t necessarily always doing something funny. But even when she does, it doesn’t consist of her knocking things over or randomly flipping people off; she’s subtle and restrained in the way she allows for her comedy to fly and hit us, and it works. More importantly though, it shows us that Hollywood needs to get their shit together and realize that McCarthy has a real talent that isn’t just in her slap-stick, but in just finding ways to make any situation she falls into funny.

And no, I do not mean the practical “fall”, either.

But, at the end of the day, this movie is really all about Bill Murray as our title-character and what’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? Yes, Murray’s fine, funny, dead-pan, and smart, even when you least expect his character to have such features. Yet, there’s a feeling here that had this movie been better, or, had this character been written less about, that Murray would have a real winner on his hands here. Not just with the movie itself, but this character.

"Sorry, youngster. Adults at talk here discussing the possibility of a female-led Ghostbusters reboot that Hollywood may not ever produce because we can't have good things."

“Sorry, youngster. Adults at talk here discussing the possibility of a female-led Ghostbusters reboot that Hollywood may not ever produce because we can’t have good things.”

Because yes, while Vincent is Murray’s typical a-hole character that he loves to play and can practically do in his sleep, the script gets in the way too many times in trying to get us to like Vincent more. Vincent, the character, being nice to this kid was enough for me to gain my sympathy, but then they felt the need to throw in the whole angle with his wife being in a nursing-home that really just felt manipulative and way too sentimental. But then, I was proven wrong, when the story itself goes on longer than it totally needed to and continuously forces Vincent’s personal problems down our throats, especially once Terrence Howard’s bookie character shows up and makes nefarious promises.

It all gets so very conventional, corny, and overly sentimental that, by the end, I just thought to myself, “Why couldn’t they just let the story tell itself?” Better yet, why couldn’t they just shed off about an half-hour of this, let Bill Murray and all the actors do their things, tell a simple story, and leave it at that? “But it doesn’t make for an emotionally-powerful story, man”, one might say to me, or, “Dude, like it’s all dramatic and stuff, bro”, another may preach. Well, I understand that but sometimes, all a story needs to do in order to pack that wallop every writer hopes to deliver on is to just be simple and see how it impacts those watching.

That’s all this movie needed to be and do, but instead, it took away from the legend that is Bill Murray.

Damn them.

Consensus: The cast, especially Bill Murray in his full-on form as the title character, all do fine with what they’re given, but St. Vincent feels the constant need to over-complicate its story and add on more layers than it needs to, while also ending up being overly sappy and sentimental.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

It's hard to be king.

It’s hard to be king.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Limits of Control (2009)

Hiring a guy who doesn’t talk at all to kill somebody, actually seems like a pretty wise business-decision.

A lone man (Isaach de Bankolé) sets out to do a job he has been hired to do. Though it’s not exactly clear what this job is, he knows that the only way to get it done without any screw-ups is to have no sex, drugs, booze or even fun. Yes, pretty much the life of this lone man is to just sit around at a cafe, have two espressos (in separate cups, mind you) and wait around for something to happen. Somehow, it does, but without him or any of us watching at home, knowing. A woman who fantasizes about Hitchock’s movies (Tilda Swinton) comes around; a guy who discusses the meaning of the word “Bohemian” (John Hurt); and a random, Hispanic man (Gael García Bernal) gives him a guitar. It doesn’t make any sense, but apparently it’s supposed to lead us to the one rich, powerful man we’ve been waiting for this whole time (Bill Murray).

Listen, I know I’m not the biggest Jim Jarmusch fan out there. So I’m not going to try and sit here and act as if I am totally and utterly surprised that this movie turned-out to be just one, two-hour-long film about practically nothing. I kid you not, there is literally nothing to hold onto here. And in a way, I sort of get it.

I get that Jarmusch is trying to make the perfect, quintessential “anti-thriller”. For instance, early on in the movie, our hired-killer is told that “everything is subjective”, meaning that just about every decision or choice he makes, is totally up to him. However, I read that as a way of Jarmusch trying to tell us that yes, as boring and repetitious as this movie may be, it is up to us to look further into it and make up our own minds about what he’s trying to do. He’s not going to flat-out tell us, straight-up what message or mood he’s trying to convey.

There Paz de la Huerta goes again with no clothes on!

There that Paz de la Huerta goes again with no clothes on!

Which, as a movie-goer that appreciates a bit more of a thinking-process involved with the entertainment of watching movies, is something I have to respect. It’s very so rare to where I get to watch a film of where everything is practically left open to my interpretation. Not those thousands and thousands of others across the globe that are yelling about it and discussing it all over message boards (if they even have such a thing for Jim Jarmusch movies), but me. Me and myself alone!

However, I will admit, that even on some occasions, a little hand-holding could do me some good and this was one of those instances where I needed more than just hand-holding – I needed a freakin’ grab of the head, letting me know just of where the hell this was going! Seriously.

I mean, for the first 20 minutes of this thing, I stayed interested. I knew it was going to keep on moving with the same downtrodden, slow-as-molasses pace, so I should have just stayed happy with it, but that’s not all that happens. Rather than actually having this movie go on for so long, as slow as it does, we never get any characterization of anybody we are introduced to whatsoever. Heck, I don’t even think we get a single person’s name! Just “person with blonde wig”, or “Mexican dude”. That’s pretty much it and it frustrated the hell out of me after awhile because I never got a single clue as to who these people were that kept on popping in and out, why they mattered and if I needed to know anything about them whatsoever to further enhance the plot.

And mostly, these characters that just randomly show up here and there, are meant to be random and slightly idiosyncratic. I get that was the point and because of that being so, some of the performances are actually pretty entertaining; John Hurt, in particular, as the kind of spirited, energetic guy a movie like this needs to keep viewers awake. However, the point was thrown out the window once one of the characters plays a bit of a bigger part later in the movie, where we’re supposed to have a certain feeling towards them and whatever bad stuff is happening to them. Instead of giving the movie that pleasure of having them feel like they’ve really done a number on me, I had no idea what the hell was going, so I was more puzzled than anything.

Eventually though, that confused feeling turned into just downright anger with this movie. After awhile, I stopped caring about anything, or anybody for that matter. The only scene that actually had me awake by the later-part was when we’re suddenly placed into a dance club where people are making out, dancing, singing, drinking, and having a good time, while the lone man we’re stuck with, just stares on and has a weird, somewhat creepy smirk on his face. The only two reasons why this scene comes to my mind in particular is because it woke me the hell up, and also, because LCD Soundsystem is the band playing in the background during this scene.

Get the Hitchcock thing now?

Get the Hitchcock thing now? Yeah, me neither.

So yeah, anytime James Murphy is in a movie, without actually being in the movie, not only is it made a bit better, but also keeps my eyes open, if only for ten minutes longer.

Sadly though, James Murphy, believe it or not, was not enough to save this movie. Most of the problems with this movie you could chalk up to Jim Jarmusch and his reliance on just being as vague as humanly possible, and I don’t think you’d be at all wrong in doing that. Usually his sense of an offbeat style works so well for him and the characters he’s building, but here, it really seemed to work against him. Didn’t work for him, the movie, his cast or even most of whom saw this movie. But then again, I guess a 44% ain’t all that bad!

WAIT, WHAT?!?!? 44%!??!? FOR THIS HUNK OF CRAP!?!?!

Consensus: Though it’s easy to understand what Jim Jarmusch is trying to do with the Limits of Control‘s relaxed pace, it never builds to anything, except for maybe total confusion as to who everybody is, why they matter and why we’re even watching this two-hour slog in the first place.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Ek! The pretentiousness!

The pretentiousness! Ek!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

This type of nonsense would never occur at a Motel 6! That’s for certain!

In 1968, a writer (Jude Law), staying at a beaten-up, run-down hotel called “the Grand Budapest Hotel” meets millionaire Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who apparently has a lot to do with the history of this hotel – the same type of history not many people actually know the exact story to. Together, the two decide to meet-up, have dinner and allow for Moustafa to tell his story and why he is the way he is nowadays. The story goes a little something like this: Back in 1932, young Zero (Tony Revolori) was hired as a Lobby Boy at the hotel, where he eventually became concierge Gustave H.’s (Ralph Fiennes) second-hand-in-command. Gustave, for lack of a better term, is Zero’s role-model and he’s a pretty darn good one at that: Not only does he treat his guests with love, affection and respect, but he even gives them a little “something” more in private. And apparently, he treats one guest of his, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), so well, that he’s apparently the owner of one of her prized-possessions, the same prized possession that her bratty son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) won’t let him have. But you can’t tell Gustave “no”, when he knows what is rightfully his, so therefore, he takes it, which leads onto all sorts of other crazy, wacky and sometimes deadly, hijinx.

So yeah, for the past week, I’ve been kicking ass and taking names with all of these Wes Anderson movies, and if there is one thing that I myself (as well as most of you) have learned about, is that I really do love his movies. I mean, yeah, I knew Wes Anderson has always been a favorite of mine, but what really surprised me with this past week is that not only have I been watching and taking note of how his style changes over time (or in some cases, doesn’t), but also, how he’s grown as a film maker and decided to get a whole lot more ambitious.

Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

Okay, but on a serious note: Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

And I don’t mean “ambitious” in the form that his movies are a whole lot bigger or more ensemble-driven, but more that they tackle on so many different-threads of meaning, rather than just being all about family-issues amongst a group of dysfunctional, troubled-characters. Don’t get me wrong, I usually love those said “family-issues”, but even I know when it’s time to move on, start trying something new and most of all, stretching yourself as a writer, director and overall creator.

Thankfully, not just for me, or you, or even Wes Anderson, but for all of us: Wes has finally shown us that he’s ready to take a swan-dive out of his comfort-zone and shock us with something that he’s almost never done before.

Key word being “almost”. More on that later, though.

First things first, I feel as if I am going to talk about any notable, positive aspect of this movie, it’s going to be the overall-style. Now, I think we’ve all known Anderson to be a bit of an eye-catcher with the way he has his flicks so colorful and bright, that you almost practically go blind because of them; but this, he truly has out-done himself. Since most of where this story takes place is made-up inside that creative little noggin of his, Anderson is practically given free-reign to just ran rampant with his imagination, where every set looks as if it was taken-out of an historic, field-trip brochure, dibbled and dabbled with some pretty colors, and thrown right behind everything that happens here. In some cases, that would usually take away from a film and be just another case of a director getting too “artsy fartsy”, but due to how crazy and rumpus most of this story is, it actually helps blend these characters in to their surroundings, as well as make this world we are watching seem like a believable one, even if they are so clearly made-up.

Which is why this is probably Anderson’s most exciting movie to-date. Of course though, Anderson’s other movies like Rushmore and even Bottle Rocket had an hectic-feel to them, but they were done so in a type of small, contained and dramatic-way – here, the movie is all about the vast, never ending canvas surrounding each and every one of these characters, and just how far it can be stretched-out for. So while those other movies of Anderson’s may have had a sense of adventure where a character would want to get out of the house, only to go running around in the streets, here, you have a bunch of characters who not only want to get out of their household, or wherever the hell they may be staying at, and get out there in the world where anything is possible. They could either go running, jogging, skiing, sight-seeing, train-riding, bicycle-hopping, parachuting, and etc. Anywhere they want to go, by any mode of transportation whatsoever, they are able to and it gives us this idea that we are not only inside the mind of Anderson and all of his play-things, but we are also stuck inside of his world, where joy and happiness is all around.

Though, there definitely are some dark elements to this story that do show up, in some awkward ways as well, the story never feels like it is too heavy on one aspect that could bring the whole movie crashing down. Instead, Anderson whisks, speeds through and jumps by everything, giving us the feeling that this is a ride that’s never going to end, nor do we want to end; we’re just too busy and pleased to be enjoying the scenery, as well as all of the fine, and nifty characters that happen to go along with it.

And with this ensemble, you couldn’t ask for anybody better! Ralph Fiennes isn’t just an interesting choice for the character of Gustave, but he’s also an interesting choice to play the lead in a Wes Anderson movie. We all know and love Fiennes for being able to class it up in anywhere he shows his charmingly handsome face, but the verdict is still out there on the guy as to whether or not he can actually be, well, “funny”. Sure, the dude was downright hilarious in In Bruges, but being that he had a dynamite-script to work with and was one out of three other main-characters, did the dude have much of a choice? Not really, but that’s besides the point!

What is the point, is that I was a little weary of Fiennes in a Wes Anderson movie, where most of the time, comedy and drama go side-by-side and would need all of the best talents to make that mixture look and feel cohesive. Thankfully, Fiennes not only proves that he’s able to make any kind of silly-dialogue the least bit “respectable”, but that he’s also able to switch his comedy-timing on and off, giving us a character we not only love and adore every time he’s up on the screen, but wish we saw more of. Because, without giving too much away, there are brief snippets of time where we don’t get to always be in the company of Gustave, and when those passages in time happen, they do take away from the movie.

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump'll do!

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump’ll do!

It isn’t that nobody else in this movie is capable enough of handling the screen all to themselves, but it’s so clear, early on, that Anderson clearly beholds this character as much as we do, and we can’t help but follow suit and wish to see him all of the time. Most of that’s because of Anderson’s witty and snappy dialogue that’s given to Fiennes to work with, but most of that is also because Fiennes is such a charismatic-presence that the fact of him actually making me, or anybody laugh, is enough to make you want to see a biopic made about him, and him alone.

But, like I was saying before, the rest of the ensemble is fine, it’s just that Fiennes was clearly meant to be the star of the show and plays it as such. Newcomer Tony Revolori feels like a perfect-fit for Anderson’s deadpan, sometimes outrageous brand of humor that’s practically winking at itself. What’s also worth praising a hell of a whole lot about Revolori is how he more than holds his own when he’s stacked-up against certain presences that aren’t just Fiennes (although the two make for a wonderful duo that they are another reason why it sucks whenever Gustave isn’t around). All of these other familiar faces that pop-up like Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson, and Saoirse Ronan, and even Jeff fuckin’ Goldblum are all great, but surprisingly, Revolori doesn’t get over-shadowed and keeps the heart and soul of the story clearly alongside with him, as it was intended to be. And yes, even though that heart may not be the most richest, most powerfully emotional we’ve ever seen Anderson bring to the screen before, it’s still the same kind of heart that has go along with Anderson on any ride he takes us, all because we know that, at the end, it’s all going to be totally worth it.

That, and also, that we’ll have something new to recommend to our white friends.

Consensus: The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely Wes Anderson’s most ambitious work to-date, meaning that we get plenty of laughs, jumps, thrills, some chills, heart and enough familiar, talented-faces working with some wacky, but fun material from one of our finest writers/directors working today.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

All in the 'stache, ladies. All in the 'stache.

All in the ‘stache, ladies. All in the ‘stache.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Ice-fishing is definitely a safer-bet.

Famous oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) is a man that likes to think of himself as something of a genius. He has many faults, yet, he never admits to them, and is starting to find out that it may just come and bite him. While he and his crew of rag-tag misfits get to embark on a series of wild adventures, soon, and totally out of the blue, walks in Steve’s estranged son, Ned (Owen Wilson), who he may, or may not have known actually existed in the first place. But, Steve sees this not only as a way to gain another loyal crew-member, but to spend some more quality-time and get to know the son he never knew was out there, which starts to become an after-thought once a journalist (Cate Blanchett) steps onto the ship and begins to catch both Steve, as well as Ned’s eyes. Also, on the side, they are looking for an exotic sea-creature known as the “Jaguar Shark”, who killed Zissou’s old-buddy. Problem is, nobody knows if it exists or not, not even he knows.

Even though I’m a fan of Wes Anderson, I have to say that even I can get a bit skeptical of his work. When you go into a Wes Anderson movie, you have to expect all of his trademarks, whether you like it or not. Sometimes, there is a slight spin on those said trademarks, but most of the time: What you see from a Wes Anderson movie, is most likely what you are going to get. And if you don’t like it, then suck it!

Or, if put in a nicer-way, just don’t pay to see it, or something like that.

Only could these two be a father-and-son combo in a Wes Anderson movie and get away with not being similar in any way whatsoever.

Only could these two be a father-and-son combo in a Wes Anderson movie and get away with not being similar in any way whatsoever.

And most of the problem with this movie is that nothing really seems to be working at all for Anderson, in probably the first hour or so. It isn’t that it’s boring because people are just standing around and talking, it’s more that it never seems to be going anywhere. It’s almost as if Anderson thought it would be easy enough to give us a bunch of wild, crazy and colorful characters, have them do their thing, and that would be enough to hold our interest, as we waited for something to actually happen. It began to worry me a bit, mainly because I know what can happen when Anderson gets a little too up-in-his-own-ass sometimes.

Yeah, it can get bad, people. VERY BAD.

However, things did in fact pick-up, and I think it occurred right when Zissou and his crew start their journey, wherever the hell it may lead them. Most of the charm that we see Anderson utilize so well when he’s on-point, gets done quite efficiently here, but it also seems to show everything coming together. Of course there’s a lot of the same close-ups and strange-cuts that we have come to know (and sometimes love, sometimes hate) from Anderson, but there was more originality to the way he framed certain scenes and gave it an extra-spunk of color that made this film a lot more goofy than I was expecting.

Actually, “goofy” is probably the perfect word to describe this movie as, mostly because that’s exactly what I saw it as once the whole journey began. Don’t want to give away what happens on this journey that spices everything up and makes it go into a totally different direction than I was expecting, but just like me, you’ll be surprised regardless and its a whole lot of fun as well. It seemed like Anderson really took a liberty with a story of his, put his trademarks on it and gave it an unpredictable feel that completely comes out of nowhere. In fact, it actually gets a bit darker, as many situations take on a very serious, very violent-turn for the worst. But it’s never tonally-jarring, and that’s why Anderson’s movie works as well as it does in the final hour or so, rather than in the first hour, where it doesn’t seem like he knows what to do, or where he’s going. He’s just moving along on the current. You know, sort of like a boat on the sea.

Though, what doesn’t work so well here is when Anderson decides that he really wants to touch our hearts by getting to the core of these characters, and how well it doesn’t translate. See, there are a couple of moments by the end where you realize that Anderson really wants us to start crying like big, effin’ babies and grab whatever towels near us that we can find; however, it doesn’t work that way. For the most part, I was having a good time with this just being as goofy as possibly could be, with some darker-elements under-lining it all, but once it took that other page that makes it a lot weightier, it didn’t feel right. Nor did it gel with everything else that happened before. Doesn’t make it terrible, just makes us, the audience, confused as to whether we’re supposed to laugh, cry, feel warm inside, angry, or all of the above. At the same time, no less.

But, like most of Anderson’s movies, it’s the cast that really shines here as he’s seemingly able to get a wonderful performance out of everybody he has here. And of course, that also means we get to see Bill Murray show up and do his dry-wit thing in a Wes Anderson movie, but this time, it’s playing Steve Zissou, who, in case you didn’t know, is based on a real-person. Still though, that doesn’t seem to faze him much since it’s practically the same type of performance we usually see from Murray, in all of his glory. Without saying anything at all, Murray is able to speak volumes to us about his character by keeping that sad, expressionless face throughout the whole movie, and still be the most likable character somehow. He’s a bit more of a dick-head here, than he is in other of Anderson’s flicks, but there’s still a bit more to who he is, why he is the way he is and what makes him a guy worth seeing a movie made about, that keeps us going with liking him and his company.

He sings David Bowie songs, but in French. Oh, the whimsical features!

He sings David Bowie songs, but in French. Oh, the whimsy!

There’s also Owen Wilson who, much to everybody’s surprise here (including mine), is probably the one who steals this movie away from Murray as he seems like the perfect fit for a guy who is so innocent, so clean and so well-intentioned, that it’s so hard not to just love the guy right from the start. I’ll admit, Wilson has never been a favorite of mine but he totally had me won over here with a performance as Zissou’s long, lost son that he never met until now. There’s a lot of development to this character that makes him more than just another, “Southern bumpkin”-like character that he first starts off as coming-across, which makes it nicer and more pleasant to watch when he and his daddy do form a bond and continue to do son-father activities together. Even if the activities are shark-hunting and fossil-discovering.

Cate Blanchett plays the untrustworthy journalist, that’s doing a report on Zissou and his crew and handles a lot of the comedic-material very well, as well as having a believable romance with Wilson that I thought could have had its own flick, if at al given the chance to come to fruition. Willem Dafoe tests out his comedic-abilities as Zissou’s left-hand man, Klaus Daimler, and has a funny running-gag going on between him, Zissou, and Ned, where he just wants to be loved and treated like the best on the crew. It’s a side of Dafoe that I wish we saw more of, rather than just seeing the nutty, second-coming of Harry Osborne in everything that he does now.

Hold up, though! I’m not done, yet! Jeff Goldblum isn’t here as much as I would have liked as Zissou’s rival, Alistair Hennessey, but is still a lot of fun to watch as he just acts like, well, you know, Jeff Goldbum; Anjelica Huston is spicy (and surprisingly), very hot in her role as Zissou’s wife that doesn’t really want much to do with him since he’s such a fuck-up in his personal, and professional life; and it was a “nice welcome-back to the big-screen” for Bud Cort, who is a guy I haven’t seen awhile and does a nice job as Bill Ubell, the guy that’s forced to watch over production of this trip to make sure the funding of it is alright. Sadly, there was no Maude to accompany him. Wah.

Consensus: May not always work when it’s supposed to, but when the Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou finds a way to gel all of its different elements together, it’s a surprisingly fun, heartfelt time, with an extra-ounce of whimsy, due solely to Wes Anderson and his quirky ways.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

So many ego's just going head-to-head right there.

So many ego’s just going head-to-head right there. And Bud Cort.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Best way to coax your family into loving you again? Fake your death. It’s working for Andy.

The Tenenbaums aren’t your ordinary family, but then again, they don’t pretend to be either. The hierarchy of this family is Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) who isn’t necessarily the nicest, most up-front, or responsible guy in the world; in fact, he’s kind of an ass. This is why (or from what we know of) he gets kicked out his own house by his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston), leaving behind his three children – the adopted oldest Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow); the over-achieving; ambitious middle-son Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller); and the relative-favorite of Royal’s, Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson). For years, Royal doesn’t speak to them or see them at all, which leaves them to grow-up full of angst, disappointment and all sorts of mistakes that make them resent him a whole lot more. However, Royal wants to change all of that as soon as he can once he realizes that he might just be dying of cancer, and is given six weeks to live. Though his kids and even his wife, have all moved on with their lives, they somehow find their way back into the house they all once lived in, which is where all of the various ego’s and heads start to clash.

He may be too old for some shit, but slaying white women isn't one of them.

He may be too old for some shit, but slaying white women isn’t one of them.

It’s pretty known among fans of him, that if you’re able to get past all of Wes Anderson’s various quirks and just accept his style for what it is, then you can actually find there’s a lot more rewarding-features to what he does. Not just with a story, or in the way he puts so much effort into the look, but to the actual characters he has in the story, as miserable and as unlikable as they sometimes can be. But I like to think of the characters he creates, as not just being considered “unlikable” or even “loathsome”, but maybe just “human”, with all of the nasty, dirty features added-on that we don’t always want to see or be reminded of actually being capable of having. Maybe it works for me and has me go to bed easier at night, but that’s always my advice to anybody who wants to watch one of his movies, especially the Royal Tenenbaums – aka, my long-time favorite of his.

I could start this review off pretty obvious and just start diving into Anderson’s sense-of-style, but I think I’ve done that more times than I ought to. Instead, I’m just going to dive right into what makes this movie kick, push and feel: The characters. Wes Anderson, although he doesn’t always look too fondly at the world, or those around him, definitely appreciates the people he places into the world of his own. It’s small, contained, quirky, heartbreaking, funny and full of all sorts of spontaneity that even the most hyper-active person may not be able to handle. That’s why the characters he creates and invites to be apart of this world of his own creation, aren’t just ones we have to pay attention to, but are filled to the inner-core with all sorts of small, tiny moments where we see them for all that they are, and who it is that they show the others around them as being.

The perfect example of this would definitely have to be Royal Tenenbaum himself, played with perfection by Gene Hackman. We’ve all seen Hackman play an asshole in a movie before, but here, as Royal, he really gets the chance to stretch that image of his own making and give us a glimpse inside the life of a man who realizes that he’s just too lonely to carry-on in this life without anybody around him any longer. Well, that, and the fact that he’s gotten kicked out of his apartment, may have him thinking of his family as well, but the fact remains that he now knows what it is that he wants with his life, and that’s just to remind those around him that he not only loves them, but wants to actually be with them for once in his life. He may not always say, or do the right things; hell, more often than not, his actions are quite reprehensible to say the least. But once we see Royal for the man he wants to be and clearly wasn’t for the most part of his life, you can’t help but want him to be happy and be loved by those around him, even if they can’t quite bring themselves to having that feeling for him. Instead, they’re more content with just being “fine” towards him; but so is he, so no problems whatsoever.

But what makes Royal such a lovable guy, is that Anderson knows he isn’t perfect and definitely deserves to have life slap him in the face a couple of times, but also doesn’t forget to let him have those small moments of victory where everything in his life that’s possible, seems to be working out for him. Same goes for everybody else in this movie though, as you can tell that Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson, really did put all of their efforts into making each and every character somebody worth remembering, or caring about, especially once emotions, as well as tears, are shed.

Even the character of Etheline, who could have easily been an angry, vengeful ex-wife, ends up being a woman that not only loves her family, but also wants to be able to move past all of the problems they’ve faced in the past (which in this case, there are plenty of ’em). Also, the same could be said for Henry Sherman, the guy who wants to marry Etheline, who does show various bouts of jealousy on more than a few occasions, but also doesn’t want to lose the lady he loves, especially not to a swindler like Royal. But, like I said, he’s still a guy that’s backed-up by plenty of human-emotion, that never ceases to show itself in some hilarious, yet brutally honest ways.

I guess in this case, we can all make an exception for incest.

I guess in this case, we can all make an exception for incest.

And that’s mainly where Anderson’s writing really comes to perfection. Not only is the guy hilarious with many of the deadpan, over-the-top one-liners he has his characters deliver, but he makes them seem so damn serious and down-trodden, that you can’t help but laugh at them. They are all human beings, yes, but ones that may take themselves a bit too seriously, despite being absolutely surrounded by all sorts of light, vibrant and pretty colors. That’s why a character like Eli Cash, played wonderfully and ever-so charmingly by the aforementioned Owen Wilson, sticks out amongst a group of sad-faces like Margot, Richie and Chas. Doesn’t make them any less likable or anything, because Anderson appreciates their sadness towards life and all of the perks that come along with it; and even when they do smile, or laugh, or decide to just let life’s wonders work its magic on them, it doesn’t just surprise us, but makes us happy that they themselves are actually happy as well. It makes us feel all the more closer to them and gives this story an extra oomph of emotion, that so clearly comes into play by the end.

Even when you do think that Anderson is going to get too big for his britches and get almost too dark with the possibility of suicide, he somehow comes out on-top, showing us that life, despite all of the heartbreak to be found, is still worth living, mainly due to the company you surround yourself. I mean, sure, Margot may rarely ever crack a smile, and the only time she does is when she’s around the man she loves, her brother Richie (although they do claim, on various occasions, “they aren’t related by blood”). Yeah, sure, Chas may never seem to live his life with a sign of hope or happiness, despite being surrounded by a bunch of people that do love him. And yeah, sure, Richie may look at life with a frown, despite not really having an understandable reason to. But what all of these characters have in common, isn’t just that they are apart of the same family, it’s that they have lives they don’t feel too gracious of having and most of the time, take it all for granted. However, once they realize that everything with life isn’t as bad as they unreasonably make it out to be, or that there are people with worse conditions in their life, then they can’t help but shut up, move on and crack a grin or two.

Those moments are mainly when Anderson shines the most, as well as the brightest. Making this family one you can’t help but love, although you can still take note of them being a dysfunctional bunch. Although, I for one have definitely seen worse. Just saying.

Consensus: Wes Anderson’s sense of characterization is what really makes the Royal Tenenbaums a heartfelt, hilarious, lovable and near-perfect delight to sit-through, although you never lose the sense that these are people, and not just characters written completely and totally for-the-screen. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get my drift.

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

Who doesn't remember the days when grand-pop used to take them on trips on the back of a garbage-truck?

Who doesn’t remember the days when grand-pop used to take them on trips on the back of a garbage-truck?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Rushmore (1998)

Rebellion, love and angst. You know, the perfect mix for any 15-year-old.

Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a 15-year-old high school student who absolutely loves the hell out of his school, a little, privately-owned joint called “Rushmore”, that he’s in on academic-scholarship. He loves it so much, that he practically starts, runs and is apart of every group/activity there is to be apart of at the school, which definitely makes him feel inspired most of the time and probably look good in the eyes of future-colleges he aspires to go to, like Harvard or Oxford, but is taken a beating on his studies. However, he doesn’t really seem to care too much, since he sees himself as willing to pull any strings that he can in order to get what what he wants, when he wants. That’s why when the beautiful, yet mysterious teacher Ms. Cross (Olivia Williams) comes along his way and stuns him, he can’t help but fall weak at the knees and do whatever it is that he can do to have her fall in love with him, despite the age-difference. Also, an older, but dedicated friend of his Herman Blume (Bill Murray) seems to take notice of her as well and even gets in the way of Max’s plans, which is exactly when things start to get very tense, very angry and very sad for all three of these individuals lives.

For anybody, high school is a pretty rough time. Not only is your body changing, but so is your mind and brain, and with that, you begin to think and feel differently than ever before. In other words: You begin to get older and grasp what it means to be “an adult”. That sounds scary and all (which it definitely is, so RUN AND HIDE!), but for some people, they can’t wait for that moment to come around when they finally get rid of that adolescence that’s been holding them down for so long, to where they can take that next step into adulthood where they’ll have more responsibilities, more ideas of who they are and most importantly, more freedom than ever before. For some, it happens quicker than others, but it does eventually happen and it’s kind of scary, dare I say it.

I'd pay to stay at that table.

I’d pay to stay at that table.

However, what happens when you’re already somewhat of an adult at an early-age? Well, that’s where Max Fischer comes into play and show you the result of what happens when a kid who is way too smart, way too knowing and way too tactical for his own age or good, just so happens to fall victim to one of the most powerful, earth-shattering forces in the world: Love. Yes, love is definitely one of those first baby-steps we take into adult-hood and needless to say, it’s not all that it’s made out to be, especially not in today’s day and age where most of the adolescent-relationships we see occur nowadays, only last for a year, or even less.

Anyway though, that’s besides the point. The point here, is that this is a Wes Anderson movie we have on our hands, folks, and it’s definitely one of the first instances in which anybody actually took notice of this guy and saw him as the real deal. Which is why it’s pretty interesting to have seen all of his films now (some of them, more than once) and see just what was to come with his style, his themes and his character-developments, all through this movie.

But as I could definitely go on and on about how Anderson’s work here, practically shapes-out everything that was next to come, I won’t. Instead, I’ll focus on one aspect of his writing-style that Anderson seems to truly love and utilize more often than not, which is that he loves it when two opposing-sides/personalities, come together and clash head-on. Not only does he love writing us vibrant, lovable and colorful characters that are quite hard to forget, he also loves seeing them when they are at their lowest, or highest, in self-esteem. Because, honestly, whenever anybody is upset by anything, their anger usually gets the best of them and they show ugly-sides to them that they don’t ever want anybody to see. Anderson loves this about his characters and it shows that he loves to give his characters some depth, but also make us realize that they are actually people we’re dealing with here, faults and all, baby.

That’s why when watching a character like Max Fischer, you can’t help but feel like Wes Anderson knew exactly what he was doing, why he was doing it, and exactly whom it was that he was doing it with. I definitely bet that back in ’97 or whenever this flick was made, that Anderson took a real bold step with choosing relative-unknown Jason Schwartzman for this lead role as Max Fischer, but it was a gamble that paid-off big time as not only did it make Schwartzman a bigger-name, but gave us such an iconic character in the form of Max Fischer – the character I think every teen, male or female, should shape a small part of their lives around, for better, and especially for worse.

See, what makes Max Fischer so interesting as a character is that you don’t necessarily know how to pin him down; he’s kind of cool, in a real nerdy, preppy-way, but he’s also kind of a jerk that steps over people’s feet, just to get by in the world and make himself better. However, on the other hand, he’s also really smart and despite being quite naive about the possibility of having this much-older woman be his special, one and only someone, there’s a part of him you can definitely see knows exactly what it is that he wants to do with life, and how he’s prepared to get by in the world. He’s got the look and body of a 15-year-old kid, but the mind of a 40-year-old, been-there-done-that kind of guy. He’s a little bit cool; a little bit nerdy; a little hopeless; a little bit selfish; a little bit arrogant; and a little bit too ambitious. However, the fact remains is that he is human, and more important: He’s a 15-year-old high school student that’s just trying to understand his life, one embarrassing situation at a time.

But as much as I could harp on and on about how rad and well-written Fischer is, the fact remains that Jason Schwartzman does a very awesome job with this role, nailing all the deadpan delivery Anderson needed to have this character feel a bit more raw, without ever trying to be too real. When he raises his middle-finger up to those who look down on him, you can’t help but want to get up and join him; when he tries to kiss Ms. Cross and gets denied, you can’t help but want to give him a hug and go get some ice cream with him; and most of all, when he’s trying to impress those around him and do cool things, you can’t help but want to join in on the fun, because he’s just that awesome to be around.

Bill Murray, being Bill Murray. What else could ya ask for?

Bill Murray, being Bill Murray. What else could ya ask for?

So yeah, kids, if you need a role model in your life, look no further than Max Fischer. The kid’s got all of the answers. Or, at least some of them.

The one person you don’t want to have as a role model is probably who Bill Murray plays here, Herman Blume. By now, each and everyone of us know that Murray is a Jack-of-all-trades; not only can he be hilariously off-kilter and goofy, but he can also dial-it-back and be subdued, giving us a very humane, down-to-Earth person that we may have never thought was there in the first place. But back in ’98, before Wes Anderson came around, he was sort of just known to us as Bill Murray, a guy who can be, and is, downright hilarious. Here though, Murray finally got a chance to show everybody that he could actually act, and by doing so, he gave us a very sad, very emotional look at a guy who is just depressed with life. Herman Blume not only hates his kids, but he hates his wife, his job, his salary and even hates rich people, despite being one of them. That’s why when you see him absolutely light-up whenever Max is around, it’s sweet to see since you know that this is a down-and-out guy, finally finding someone he can connect with and be around, and not actually hate.

So when the two actually do start fighting over this gal, it’s amusing to watch, in a funny way, but also a bit sad since you know they are friends, and they are hurting one another’s feelings. But it’s all for a good cause, right? Well, I’d say so, because Ms. Cross is a catch for any guy that’s able to nab her down, thanks mostly to Olivia Williams perfectly-nuanced performance. She’s pretty, British, charming and pretty easy-going, but we do know that there’s a huge path of sadness just brewing all beneath her, and it makes you wonder if either of these guys deserve to be with her, or if she should just give up on dating alone and live the rest of her life in solitude and sadness. Doesn’t sound too ideal, but I guess when you have two wild cards like Herman Blume and Max Fischer fighting over you, then I guess it’s the only possible solution really.

Consensus: Wry, snappy and chock-full of angst, Rushmore finds Wes Anderson at his meanest, yet, still finds a way to give us characters that we can not only love, but identify with, making their adventures together all the more rewarding by the end.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

What a smug a-hole. But damn is he cool or what?!?!

What a smug a-hole. But damn is he cool or what?!?!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Yes guys: Girls this hot can indeed kick your perverted-asses. So watch yourselves!

When danger is looming and the world is on the brink of self-destruction, who is there to save the day? Well, the mysterious and unknown Charlie is, but he isn’t the one doing the action, he’s just simply pulling the strings. Who he has in his place to take over things and make sure that all is fine and right with the world, he has three of his kick-ass, female agents, who he also calls his “Angels”. We have Natalie Thompson (Cameron Diaz), the bookworm who is oblivious to the dudes around her (except for the ones who want to end her life), Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore), the tough girl who finds herself in more beds of other men than she probably should be in, and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu), the class-act who longs for a life outside of being a secret-agent with her Hollywood star boyfriend (Matt LeBlanc), but just can’t help but kick some butt when it comes around her way. Together, the ladies, along with John Bosley (Bill Murray), their informant, find out what’s going on with secret weapons and tools that have suddenly go missing, and may just endanger not only themselves, but their beloved-Charlie as well.

I’m pretty sure that, by now, every person on the face of this planet has seen at least one episode of the classic, Charlie’s Angels 1970’s-era TV show, right? Okay, if not everybody, then definitely every man on the face of this planet has. And if they say they haven’t, well then ladies, get a flash-light, shine it in their pupils and question them harder, because they’re lying dogs!

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a "6" would have been handed-out.

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a “6” would have been handed-out.

Anyway, I think what we all have, you know, as a society, garnered from that show was that it doesn’t matter if these women are extremely good-looking, hot and have huge jubblies, give them some corny lines, some action-moves and plenty of cool, unique gadgets, and woolah! All of a sudden, a woman that looks like Farrah Fawcett is able to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money! And there’s nothing really wrong with that, however, you can’t do that type of story seriously for a single bit, which is probably why it’s a good thing the show only lasted until the early-80’s, once people had about enough of it with their non-stop array of campy-material (okay, maybe the 80’s were even worse, but you get my drift).

Basically though, what I am trying to get across is that it’s extremely hard for a movie to pull-off the same type of charm, magic and fun of the original material, without having it be placed in the same decade of the 70’s, or at least being able to show it all with a wink in the eye, and the tongue, placed firmly in the cheek. And it’s apparently clear that that’s exactly the type of notion this movie is going for: It wants to crack a joke about how goofy these gals look when they get in their kung-fu stances and start whooping the ever-loving crap out of everyone that strikes a danger to them, but at the same time, it also wants to still be able to revel in how awesome these girls look when they’re kicking ass and taking names.

Which, as much as I hate to make it sound like otherwise, I didn’t have a problem with because McG certainly does inject this movie with plenty of energy and style to make this feel like a music-video, done with a lot of fighting, sexy women and explosions. The only problem is that everything else he does with this movie, it not only doesn’t work, but it’s too messy for its own good. Certain scenes just don’t work together, and McG himself, as a director, only seems to feel comfortable with his movie when something is either ripping-off the Matrix and being shown to us entirely in slow-mo, or when he’s giving us a close-up of one of these ladies spreading their legs open. And not in that type of way either, ya pervs!

For awhile, it’s all fun to watch and whatnot, but when the movie wants to try and be a bit goofy and satirical with its material and where it seems to have come from, it doesn’t work and instead, totally misfires. Most of that has a problem to do with the fact that McG himself came from a long, long line of music-videos before he made his film-debut with this, and also, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the writers didn’t know if they wanted to give us anything more than plenty of action, and leave it at that. The plot doesn’t make sense; the jokes don’t quite hit; and the action begins to feel like the same sequence showed to us, over and over again. Needless to say, while it may not be anything to write home about, it definitely isn’t terrible. Just misguided is all.

Who needs that much tail when you're Bill Murray? Serious question...

Who needs that much hot tail when you’re Bill Murray? Serious question…

However, as misguided as the rest of the material they’re working with may in fact be, the cast still seems to prevail and make ends meet with whatever it is that they have to work with. The three, leading ladies are all fun to watch, but it’s really Cameron Diaz who gets to walk away with the spotlight placed firmly in her hand as she always seemed to make everything better for herself and for the movie, whenever she decided to give us a glimpse of that beautiful, lovely, cheek-to-cheek smile of hers. Along with her sweet-ass, white girl dance moves, Diaz is very charming to watch here and definitely comes across as the most distinguishable Angel of the three, if only because she seems to actually show some personality. That’s not to discredit Barrymore or Liu or anything, but it’s Diaz who reminds us why she was so young, hot and promising at one time in her life, where now, all she is, is another botox-surgery away from being a parody of herself, much like Ms. Farrah Fawcett ended-up becoming in her later-life as well.

It’s a shame to see a movie in which not only does Sam Rockwell and Crispin Glover get wasted as villains, but so does Tim Curry. Rockwell has a bit more to work with here than the other two, but he still doesn’t seem like he was given much at all to work with, other than a bunch of cocky-lines to sound intimidating with and a random back-story that would, for some reason or another, make sense as to why the plot is so convoluted and nonsensical to begin with. But, to look on the bright side, at least THE Bill Murray wasn’t wasted here, and for that, I have to thank the movie. Then again though, it’d be pretty hard to waste Bill Murray to begin with. He just doesn’t allow for such a wrong-doing to happen.

Consensus: You could definitely place Charlie’s Angels into the “late-night rental” category because while it’s not memorable, it’s still fun, but still seems like a waste of mostly everybody involved, as well as some funny material that never seems to materialize into being anything more than just a bunch of hot ladies, running around, kicking ass and using a lame-pun every now and then.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Ouch.

With legs wide open…

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

The Monuments Men (2014)

Tell ’em, Nic! Nothing’s more important than stealing the Declaration of Independence and they know it!

During the final, winding-days of WWII, art-historian (George Clooney) is gripped with a task on his hands: Assemble a group of seven, fellow art-groupies, go through basic training, and find a way to gather and collect all of the ancient pieces of art, sculpture and paintings that the Nazis have apparently been hiding during the war. At first, once the men get taken into behind enemy lines in Germany, they realize that this whole mission may be a ball – one soldier (Matt Damon), comes close to even getting laid by a stern, but somehow stunningly hot French-gal (Cate Blanchett). But sooner than later, things begin to take a turn for the worse once the Nazis begin to see themselves getting more and more desperate as the days go by, therefore, having Hitler himself order that all art be destroyed, in hopes that it won’t reach their rightful, original owners. Smart idea on old Adolf’s part, but he soon realizes that he is no match for the Ocean‘s crew! With the exception of Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, and even Rob Reiner. Yep, none of them are here, but at least we got Bob Balaban to spice things up, right?

George Clooney, the actor, is known to be a class-act that you can always count on to deliver, no matter what piece of material he may be in. He’s always got that cool-look, that charm, that wit and that swiftness to him that makes every dude in the theater lobby want to be him and discover his make-up team’s contact info; whereas he makes every lady swoon for the day that she may just be able to get snatched up into good old George’s hands. And ladies, if you’re less than two times his age, you run a pretty good chance at being his next-in-line!

"Wow. So this really was painted by Leonardo DiCaprio?"

“Wow. So this really was painted by Leonardo DiCaprio?”

But I digress….

While George Clooney, the actor, may be somebody we can trust and rely on to give great work, George Clooney, the director, isn’t always someone we can count on. Most of the time, Clooney seems to not only do stuff that only seems to interest himself and his buddies, but he more often than not, drops the ball on what could have been something cool and interesting. The Ides of March, for the most part, just relied so heavily on the performances from its stacked-cast, that I almost forgot Clooney even directed it, or even had a story written-out for it; Leatherheads didn’t have much of a chance of being anything spectacular, but at least he tried with it; Good Night, And Good Luck will always seem to be his crowning-jewel where everything he sets out to do, he nails to near-perfection; and then of course, we have his debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind that seemed to only get away with the fact that it had rich source-material to begin with, despite Clooney finding a way to make a story about a game-show-host-turned-CIA-agent somewhat depressing and rather boring.

So yeah, as you can tell, I know a thing or two about Clooney’s track-record as director and most of the time, it doesn’t always pan-out so well. That’s why I gave this movie the benefit of the doubt, even despite it being pushed-back from its original, Christmas Day release-slot (apparently due to “special-effects problems“). However though, once again, I digress…

Anyway, what I am trying to get at here is that while Clooney may not always be consistent as a director, he’s always the kind of guy that interests me with anything that he touches his palms with, solely because it’s him, and he knows quality. Here, on the other hand, we have a movie that definitely seems like the type of movie he feels strong and passionate about, yet, never really seems to let come-off of the ground. But you’d never know if he felt any passion or love for this true-life story of heroism, and men fighting for what they truly believed in, because we never get the right details we should to fully believe in these characters, this story or anything else that happens. Yeah, I know that all of this is true, but watching this movie, you’d still never get a full clue as to what is happening, why, how and who was involved. For all I know, the actual, real-life soldiers who were involved with this mission could have been a rusty crew of old geezers that loved to make jokes while they were standing on deadly land-mines, hung-out and smoked cigs with Nazi soldiers wanting to kill them, and even crack some funny-ones while half of Russia’s army comes storming after them, wanting their heads, as well as the various paintings they can’t seem to get enough of.

But what’s so surprising to me about this movie, is that it never seems like Clooney knows that he’s messing-up by not giving us any reason to care for these people, their mission or the heart and soul they shed for these pieces of art; it’s almost as if showing us that they were willing to risk their lives for these paintings was already enough assurance that they do wholly, and fully care about these paintings. However though, it doesn’t work and it should have. Even if Clooney decided to give us maybe one or two minutes dedicated to these guys being wrangled-up and ready for the mission, it would have made a huge difference – we would have not only cared for these dudes, but cared about the mission they were setting-upon as well. Also, probably would have given this movie more of a drastic-feel to it, especially once these guys started getting perishing.

Somehow though, as much as I may rag on this movie, as well as what Clooney does as a director, I was able and more than willing to just let myself have fun and enjoy the old-style, nostalgic kind of war-flick that George himself was so obviously going for. Personally, I don’t think he hits all of the right notes, but if there was ever a war flick that I could sit-down and watch with my whole family, even my much-younger cousins, it’s this one. That’s not saying it’s great or anything, and surely doesn’t get past the fact that movie itself has its fair-share of faults and problems, but it definitely kept me entertained throughout most of the movie.

She's French, she's willing and best of all, you probably won't ever see her again in your life. Why wouldn't you tap that?!?!?

She’s French, she’s willing and best of all, you probably won’t ever see her again in your life. Why wouldn’t you tap that?!?!?

Once again, I stress the fact that it wasn’t perfect, but, if you have nothing else better to do for your Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or what have you, evening, then I can’t say this would be a terrible. There’s definitely plenty of other options to go and check-out before this, but if grand-mom and grand-pop want to spend some “quality time”, I’d say point their head in this movie’s direction, and you’ll definitely be promised a spot in the will. Sounds harsh, but I’m just saying.

Love you G-Mom and G-Pops!

Most of where my enjoyment with this movie came from was just through the cast and how, despite how thinly-written most of their material may have been, they still prevailed and kept me smiling. Like I stressed before, Clooney the actor is fine and is charming enough to make you see past the obvious-faults that this role only serves him to break-out into soliloquies every once and awhile about how men should always stand-up for what they believe in, no matter how looked-down upon it may be from others; Matt Damon is entertaining enough to watch as his second-in-command, James Granger, who is gone for quite some time and separated from the rest of the action, but is still somehow able to make his story the least-bit interesting, just by showing up and smiling (because we all know, once Matt Damon smiles, we all gotta smile!); and Cate Blanchett somehow makes a thankless-role as a French-spy, somewhat memorable by making her out to be a bit of a weirdo that also longs for a connection. Then again, maybe I’m just reaching.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re fine, but it’s obvious they aren’t doing anything exceptional. Bill Murray is always Bill Murray in anything he does, but he’s slightly less charming and “Bill Murray-ish” than he usually is, and less of that has to do with him as a performer, and more with just how the script does not use him; in fact, I’d say that they use Bob Balaban a bit more in the sense that they give him a scene where he gets to be somewhat “bad-ass”, as you’ve never seen him before (and trust me, you sure as hell haven’t!); John Goodman is his usual lovable, big-hearted, always cheery-self that also happens to be a soldier named “Walter“; Hugh Bonneville is fine as one of a British soldier who puts his life-on-the-line, as does everybody else, but gets to show his bravery in a slightly-memorable way; and Jean Dujardin, despite having an interesting role in Wolf of Wall Street, still feels like a previous Oscar-winner gone to a bit of a waste by now, however, I hope the tide turns around for him sooner than later. Because surely, we wouldn’t want another Roberto Benigni on our hands, now would we?

Consensus: Another misstep in Clooney’s directorial-catalog, the Monuments Men takes what could have been a very thrilling, exciting and emotional war-tale, and makes it uneven, poorly-developed and only entertaining in its bits and pieces, which is mostly thanks to all of the effort the cast puts into it.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Hey, remember that time when we almost got our heads shot-off by a bunch of Nazi soldiers? Hahahahaahah!!!"

“Hey, remember that time when we almost got our heads shot-off by a bunch of Nazi soldiers? Hahahahaahah!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Get Low (2010)

Lil’ Jon should have at least scored the soundtrack, if anything.

For years, townsfolk have been terrified of the backwoods recluse known as Felix Bush (Robert Duvall). Then, one day, Felix rides to town with a shotgun and a wad of cash, saying he wants to buy a funeral. It’s not your usual funeral for the dead Felix wants. On the contrary, he wants a “living funeral,” in which anyone who ever had heard a story about him will come to tell it, while he takes it all in.

Simple movies are never that bad, and when you have an idea about a dude planning a living-funeral, it makes a simple movie seem pretty cool, yet still simple. Director Aaron Schneider definitely knows the type of material he’s working with as he sets the mood, sets the pace, sets the characters, and sets the ideas of what we come to expect with movies like these, but in the end, they are all simple and for some, that may not be so bad, but for me, it is. Well, sort of.

See, as much as I liked this flick and felt like it delivered on what it was going for, I also feel like a lot of what could have really hit me hard here, just didn’t. For instance, the script is pretty weak whereas not only does it seem like these people do the usual, “talk-like-a-bunch-of-goofy-Southerners”-speak, but they also try too hard to make people laugh and none of it ever feels like actual humor. I mean, yeah, watching a hermit who lives out in the middle of the woods, invite a dude from the town in for a nice pot of rabbit can be a tad humorous  but it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t seen before and I think that’s what the deal is with this whole film.

We never get to see anything new or awesome that we haven’t already seen done before, and even worse, the flick doesn’t really bring much to the table to distract you, anyway. The scenery definitely looks good and has you feel as if you are in the South during this time-period, but that’s pretty much it. You can have a movie that looks all nice and dandy, but if you don’t have anything else to make up for it, then I just lose interest. However, thanks to a cast like this, I was paying attention enough times to relatively-enjoy myself. Not fully or totally, but relatively and I think that’s better than not enjoying myself.

Bill Murray is always a blast to watch in anything he does and his performance as the greedy, funeral parlor-owner is no different. His contemporary way-of-speaking definitely seemed a bit distracting for the first five-minutes of him on-screen, but as time went on, I just let it slide and love every-singe-bit of Murray’s performance and some may be surprised to know that he’s not the most hilarious dude in the movie. Murray does have the occasional zinger here and there for good sport, but he actually has an interesting dramatic arch that forms a dynamic between him and Duvall and it continues to go on through the whole movie. I don’t want to say that I loved the hell out of Murray, but I can say that the guy was a good character and showed that he can always balance out sleazy, humorous  and likable, all at the same time.

"Wanna see my dead squirrel collection?"

“Wanna see my dead squirrel collection?”

Playing his lackey-of-sorts is Lucas Black, who is obviously still trying to have everybody forget his days in Sling Blade, but no need to worry, because the guy’s actually a solid actor as a grown-up. Granted, when he is side-by-side with heavyweights like Duvall and Murray, he definitely seems like the weak-link, but when he’s doing his own thing and that’s just about it: he’s good with it. I definitely would like to see this guy step-away from the dirty South and try his best with any other accent but for the most part, he’s fine with his own native tongue and I don’t think playing a Bawstan gangster would be the next best thing for him. Although, it’d be fun to see him try at it.

Sissy Spacek plays Duvall’s former-fling and as she gets older, seems to not only get more beautiful, but also even better as an actress. Seriously, I thought she was just going to be one of those females that showed-up and bitched about her life and why it never amounted to everything she wanted, but the gal actually has a nice arch to her as well, and it’s great to see the scenes with her and Duvall cause you can tell that there’s something powerfully and genuinely felt between the two, but you just don’t know what. Spacek never seems to age and as time goes on, she still knows how to deliver and that’s so great to see from a living legend like herself.

Then, of course, there is the one, the only, the Grizzly Adams-look alike himself: Robert Duvall. Duvall is such a classic actor, that roles like these where all he has to do is grunt, say weird things, and be his typical-self, he makes it so good that it almost seems like he’s not acting. After awhile, you start to forget that it’s Duvall and take him in as this strange, weird old man, and yet, you are never scared of him. You feel like he’s a good guy at his core and that whatever he did, no matter how disturbing or brutal it may have been, that he’s still a nice guy that deserves to have people around him. No matter what type of character Duvall goes for, he’s always good at it, and always knows how to make us give two shits about the guy, even if he may be a bit mysterious in his own ways.

Bill Murray, probably doing his best John Waters-look he could get himself to actually go through with.

Bill Murray, probably doing his best John Waters-look he could get himself to actually go through with.

However, once you get to thinking about the whole mystery of this flick and what it actually ends up being, then you start to feel a bit disappointed. Without spoiling the last twenty-minutes of the movie, Duvall finally gets a chance to break the ice and tell everybody what he’s been hiding-0ut for, for so long and the kind of effect that it has had on his life. Throughout the whole movie, I was ready to see what it was as each and every single little clue, came-up to the forefront and had me guessing a bit more. It gave what could be considered this simple, character-study a nice deal of mystery and suspense to it that had me playing-along for awhile, that is, until the actual “reveal” came out and ended on a total whimper.

It’s not the fact that what Duvall ends-up telling us is what’s a bummer, it’s that you just don’t really care and see how a guy could leave the rest of civilization for a thing like that. I guess when you take guilt and memory into consideration, then yeah, it could definitely eat you up inside, but leaving the people you know and may possibly love, to go out into the far woods, break logs, eat animal stew, walk around with a shotgun, hunt, and chase little kids off your property, doesn’t seem all that reasonable. It sort of made me feel like the flick had the central idea and premise, it had the characters, and it had the setting, but the most important factor of them all, the ultimate reveal, was something that they just didn’t have and felt like they just made it up as they went along. And if they did have it on, way before filming began, then when it actually came to filming this movie, they didn’t have a firm enough grasp to really make us care enough or feel like we are glad we spent so much time of our lives with these characters and with this story.

Consensus: Benefiting from a strong-as-hell cast, Get Low definitely has moments that keep you watching, despite the slow pace, but doesn’t have the best script in the world and that shows, especially when you take into consideration the final twist that gives you the feeling that this flick sort of lost itself, as it tugged along.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Give me a one-blade. All around."

“Give me a one-blade. All around.”

Mad Dog and Glory (1993)

Hey, cops can have girlfriends too.

Robert De Niro plays Wayne, a timid Chicago cop sarcastically nicknamed “Mad Dog.” He saves a gangster name Frank (Bill Murray)’s life and as payback, Frank “gives” Wayne his beautiful bartender Glory (Uma Thurman). However, when the two fall in love, then Wayne realizes he may have to fight-off Frank from his girl.

Let’s just put it like this: this is a weird-ass movie. From the beginning, you feel like you know how this one is going to play-out but as time goes on, and as the story progresses more and more, it changes up a whole lot and you never know where it’s going to go. That’s a lot of fun whenever you’re sitting-down and watching a movie and it’s that element of film-making that movies had nowadays but somehow, just don’t. Maybe Hollywood gets in the way, maybe stars get in the way, or hell, maybe movies are just running out of any original ideas that are worth showing on-screen. But either way, watching a movie and having no idea where it’s going to go from frame-to-frame is a hell of a lot of fun and it’s even better when you have a cast like this.

"That was some of the most awkward sex I've ever have. You know, other than Gary Oldman of course."

“That was some of the most awkward sex I’ve ever have. You know, other than Gary Oldman of course.”

The movie’s casting may have it seem like a bit of a stunt where De Niro is playing the meek, sensitive-type that takes random pictures of life, whereas Bill Murray is playing the tough, unpredictable gangster that you don’t whether or not you should trust, or be totally scared-of. It seems like a total switcheroo and believe it or not, De Niro was actually offered the role of Frank, before he even knew about the role of Wayne, but he turned it down, just so he could show the world that he can in-fact, play a nice and sweet guy that doesn’t stomp on people’s heads. De Niro, in an obvious-effort to change the way his career was being viewed upon at during that time, took the role of this simple-minded, nice guy and does a great job with it, mainly because De Niro dials it back insanely.

Usually, when you see an actor/actress trying their hardest to play against-type, they usually go overboard with playing it cheap and subtle, you know, just so people don’t associate them with the other dozen similar roles that they have played in the past. In an effort to not be distracting, it actually ends-up becoming distracting and in full-effect, it’s a bit bothersome when you watch the performance and judge it as a whole. However, De Niro isn’t like that here as Wayne and really just seems to playing himself, but a more simpler, kinder-self of his and it shows that the guy can play these types of roles and make us care about him even more. Wayne is obviously a very small man, in a very, very big world and you kind of feel bad for him after awhile, mainly because you know that he’s going to get his heart ripped-out sooner or later and all you can do is just sit there and wait for it. I loved this small, tiny performance from De Niro and now that it seems like he’s getting his career back on-track with the Silver Linings Playbook, I can only hope to the Movie Gods, that he ends-up going back down this career-path and making some smart-choices. Or, he could just go back and do another Meet the Parents movie. His choice, not mine.

It should almost go without saying that Bill Murray is a freakin’ blast to watch in any movie he does, but that’s especially the case here as Frank, the sadistic and mean gangster that you just can’t help but love. This is a perfect piece of against-type casting not just because Murray has never played a role like this before, but mostly because he absolutely never lets you forget that he hasn’t and is at least having a bunch of fun with it, in the meantime. Murray never loses his sense of humor (Frank is a part-time gangster, part-time comedian) and always allows himself to be on the butt-end of a joke whenever it suits the script. Whenever he gets dangerous, it is actually pretty scary to watch because you never quite know what this guy is going to do next, but that’s the whole fun of watching Murray in this type of role, and just watching Murray in general. He’s always surprising us and always keeping us on-edge. That’s the beautiful thing about Bill Murray and I don’t think it will ever stop.

Uma Thurman does a nice-job as Glory, the gal that Frank hires to keep Wayne some company for a week, but when you put her next to these two actors, she sort of sticks out like a sore-thumb. I mean, that’s not saying that Thurman isn’t good, because she’s very good at playing this sympathetic, and vulnerable girl that just wants to do the right thing, but when you have two stars like Murray and De Niro absolutely knocking homers out of the park with all they can do, then it becomes pretty obvious who the script had in mind when it was first being-developed. It also probably doesn’t help that Glory’s story could have been developed a bit more to have us care more for her, along with Wayne, but in essence, we just end-up caring more for Wayne and a little bit for Glory.

However, that’s where the tone of this movie comes in and ultimately, it’s weirdness as well. What makes this movie so weird is that it continues to change it’s tone and pace every time a scene switches. One second you’ll have a police drama, next second you’ll have a black comedy, then the next second you’ll have a gangster flick, and then the next second, you’ll have a romance movie, and so on, and so forth. Basically, you can never pin-point exactly where the hell this movie is going to end-up, how, and when, but you don’t really care because it’s always fun, it’s always entertaining to watch, and it’s always making you laugh.

Ultimate show-down: Peter Venkman vs. Jake LaMotta. Somehow, I thought it would have turned-out differently.

Ultimate show-down: Peter Venkman vs. Jake LaMotta. Somehow, I thought it would have turned-out differently.

The only aspect of this movie that I don’t think was as strong as everything else, was in-fact, the romance between Wayne and Glory. See, we’re supposed to believe that these two random pieces of crap would, by sure chance, fall in-love over this one week together where they do nothing but hang-around, have awkward sit-downs while watching television, and even awkward trips to the bed (if you catch my drift). However, when they’re romance seems to face a bit of a problem with Frank wanting Glory back, you don’t really care all that much, mainly because the movie doesn’t really seem to have you believe that these two opposites, would indeed fall in-love and fight for it no matter what. There even comes a point where I felt like it was all a part of Wayne’s wild-imagination to be some sort of plot contrivance, but in reality, it wasn’t and the movie really was THIS serious about the actual love between the two. Other than a very realistic and honest sex scene the two have, Wayne and Glory’s romance never fully catches fire and the only reason why you want them to continue with one another, is just so Frank can come in and screw everything up for them and add even more enjoyment to our viewing. Hey, what can ya say? We all love Bill Murray!

Consensus: Mad Dog and Glory is as weird as they come, and if you can handle the non-stop changes in tone and pace, then this one will definitely be a treat for you, but even if you can’t handle that aspect, just sit-back and watch the amazing performances from Bill Murray and Robert De Niro who both play against-type, but quite perfectly, may I add.

8/10=Matinee!!

Okay, maybe he's not playing THAT MUCH against-type.

Okay, maybe he’s not playing THAT MUCH against-type.

Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)

FDR was the perfect family man. Just don’t let him stay alone with your oldest daughter.

The story takes place over a weekend in 1939 where a little-known and rather peculiar affair FDR (Bill Murray) had with his cousin Margaret ‘Daisy’ Stuckley (Laura Linney) took place, as well as a visit from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at their upstate New York cottage.

Without Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who knows what the hell type of state our country would have been left in. Not only did he get us through one of the worst times to ever be alive and live in America (The Great Depression), but he also got us through a Second World War. Basically, when it comes right down to it, the man is an inspiration to all Americans, let alone, human-beings out there and it only seems suitable that the guy be part 2, of 2012’s “president-gets-a-movie-year”. However, I wish it wasn’t this movie.

Taking the same approach that Lincoln did, as instead of focusing on the president’s whole life and adventures, they take a little snap-shot of his life and whereas that movie seemed to be focused on a more-important aspect of Honest Abe’s life, this story takes place around a time of FDR’s that should seem important and should seem interesting, but simply, is not. Director Roger Michell definitely seems like he wants to have fun with this story and make it seem like we really are there for the weekend, just as much as the King and Queen are, but we never really get that true-essence of fun, mainly because of who the story is focused on and why.

Instead of making this an important story about FDR and King George VI became buddies, in order for England and America to unite and fight WWII together, the story is more about how FDR got his rocks off with his 5th cousin. That’s all juicy and sensational and definitely provides an interesting-take on a romantic-comedy plot-line, but is just boring and after the first 10 minutes where FDR and Daisy share an intimate moment in a field together (which is one of the biggest “WHAT THE FUCK?!??!” moments of the year) it all goes downhill from there and never brings us back-up to date with anything that’s going on or what’s going to happen. Seriously, after that scene, you’re not going to know what to think and keep on wondering as to whether or not you should laugh, leave, or just laugh, in the unintentional way. Your pick, I guess.

Underneath this semi-romantic story, actually lies a deep and understood one about the uniting of these two nations and they definitely provide some of the best scenes of the whole frickin’ movie. There’s a sweet, subtle scene between King George VI and FDR where they both chill out, share a couple of after-hour martinis, and just shoot the shit on being a ruler, being the hot-shot on campus, and most of all, just life in general. Since the story/movie is apparently supposed to be told through Daisy’s eyes, it’s a tad strange that we get a look at this private moment between the two, knowing that it could have never been seen through her eyes, but regardless, it’s still a nice, heartfelt scene that shows that maybe this movie can do more than just try it’s hardest at giving us a weird-romance to care about.

However, it falls right back into it’s formula that it tried so hard to leave in the first-place and just really bummed me out since there is promise for a strong story here, but no Michell just wanted to keep on throwing soapy melodrama at us, as if we care for this relationship in the least-bit. Anytime Daisy gets upset over the fact that FDR is doing things that takes his eyes and attention away from her, she slips into a rage-fueled break down that makes her seem so childish, and just makes the movie seem all the more dramatic than it needed to be. It wouldn’t have sucked so much if we gave a crap, but the fact of the matter is, we just don’t and I would have much rather seen the film about FDR and the King and Queen getting along, rather than him and his cousin, well *ahem* getting along.

What also makes Daisy the weakest and most annoying-aspect of this movie is the fact that Laura Linney seems terribly miscast as her, simply because the gal is a bit too old. No offense against Linney, but she’s almost 50 and she’s playing a person that has the emotions and love-swindles of a 7-year-old girl who finds her first-crush in the playground out in the school yard. Linney does what she can with this mediocre role, but it isn’t enough to save her character from being really, really strange, not just by how she reacts to FDR’s womanizing-ways, but also to how she falls in love with the guy in the first-place. Other than the infamous field scene, there really isn’t all that much between the two that would really have me feel the love and in the end, just ends-up less and less believable as the story goes on. Yes, I know it’s a real-life account that is straight-from the personal diaries of Daisy, but there has to be some sort of dramatic-license taken here. There’s just gotta be!

The most interesting aspect of this whole movie, and probably the best as well, is the fact that it has Bill Murray playing non-other than Mr. FDR himself, and it’s a move that not only seems like a stretch, but also pretty risky, right? Well, in a way, it is a pretty risky maneuver trying to have one of the most famous comedians of all-time, play one of the most iconic president of all-time with little or no make-up used, but it’s a risky maneuver that Murray does very-well of getting past, mainly because the guy just has the most lovable screen-presence of any comedian/actor working today. Not only does Murray capture the undeniable fun and charm that was behind FDR and all his ways, but he also captures the presence of a dude that could never stand, yet was the happiest and tallest one at a party, mainly because of his happy-go-lucky personality towards everything. Sometimes when I was watching him, it really seemed like it was Bill Murray playing Bill Murray, rather than it being Bill Murray playing FDR, but I could mainly get past the fact and just enjoy the hell out of Murray and all that he did, and could do as FDR. It’s just a shame that DDL had to come-out and play Honest Abe in the same-year as Murray playing FDR, because the guy would have gotten some real Oscar-talk.

Possibly the biggest-stretch of this whole movie that wasn’t even apparent to me until I started watching was how this movie featured both the same King and Queen, that were portrayed by Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter so famously about 2 years ago with The King’s Speech. It would almost seem like blasphemy to try and feature another movie with the same real-life figures, and not have them be played by Firth and Carter, but surprisingly, Samuel West and Olivia Coleman take over those roles pretty-well and are most likely the most interesting-aspects of this movie. West does a nice-job with the stammer and doesn’t go into a full-on Firth-impersonation, and Coleman allows herself to be a little weird, but reasonable as the Queen, but when then are together, it’s just so fun and electric to watch that you really feel like you’re watching a married-couple that knows each other so, so very well. However, it probably would have been way more epic to see Firth and Carter, come over from that movie into this and give a little two cents of their own. Now that, my friends, is an Oscar-caliber movie. And probably a lot better than The King’s Speech, if you don’t mind me saying so myself.

Consensus: With so much promise in the air, it’s a total bummer to admit that Hyde Park on Hudson fails to bring-out any type of importance out of it’s somewhat, historically-important story, and instead, decides to just focus on how much FDR liked his stamp collection, martinis, and most of all, some nice booty here and there, especially the ones that weren’t his wives. Yeah, that’s exactly how we all want to remember one of our finest presidents of all-time.

5/10=Rental!!

Also, if you have any extra-time in your day, go on over to GuysNation and check out my latest post of Movied. Thanks!

Lost In Translation (2003)

Japan has never looked so boring.

The film revolves around an aging actor named Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and a recent college graduate named Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) who develop a unique closeness after a chance meeting in a grand Tokyo hotel.

I remember the first time that I ever watched it, and I didn’t get it. Maybe I was too young (8th grade) or maybe I was just way too sleepy, either way, I didn’t love it as much as so many other people have said over the years. About 4 years later though, I loved it! Funny what time can do for certain people, especially a movie geek like me.

Writer/director Sofia Coppola definitely brings a lot to the table here and deserved the Oscar she got that year. Coppola adds so much attention to detail in just about every scene where it’ll either be one of these characters just staring off into space, but the song in the background or lighting fit the mood perfectly. She focuses on all of this detail and probably the best decision for this film that she made was actually putting it in Japan, considering it seems like the craziest place ever. Yeah, Coppola pokes a lot of jokes at just how goofy and crazy Japanese culture can be, as well as a lot of the surroundings, but she also shows this country as a haven for people to be free with themselves and paint it as this beautiful place to be, even underneath all of the sadness of these American people. Never been to Japan, and I don’t know when or if I ever will, but if I do go, I’ll definitely use this flick as my travel guide for all of the sights to see.

However, it’s Sofia’s attention to the writing that really took over me with this flick. So much of the film here consists of these characters holding back, not saying anything, and just letting a lot of the silence take over each and every single one of their scenes, which may be too subtle for some people but it’s also the best quality of her script. There are plenty of moments that are just dedicated to these characters not saying anything at all, but whenever they do speak, they give off some real and raw emotional dialogue that just feels natural, as if you almost couldn’t have written a lot of this stuff. It also shows a lot about these characters and a lot of human truths as it talks a lot about our needs and desires in our lives, and the feeling of needing to be connected with other people out there in the world. It’s a theme that many other flicks tend to shy away from, but this is one that Sofia hits head-on, even if she doesn’t have her characters practically spell it out for you. Check can’t act for shit, but she sure as hell can write and direct, and that’s all that matters to me.

Everything here is pretty great and works very, very well except for the fact that sometimes this pace does have the occasional lull here and there. Actually, the film picks up a lot of steam somewhere in the middle part of it and then it just starts to slow down and it sucks all of the life out of itself. However, it’s not that big of a complaint considering it happens maybe once or twice here, and the rest of it just somehow took my mind away from it.

The real reason this film works as well as it does is mainly because of Bill Murray, who probably gives his best performance ever as Bob Harris. Murray is a guy we all know who can be funny and outrageous, but he’s also an actor that can do a lot by just being subtle and not even speaking at all, just staring into space. Of course he’s hilarious here and it’s just a whole bunch of fun to watch as Bill Murray goes around this film, making just about every single person here laugh and not even make it seem like he’s even remotely trying. Actually, that’s whats so amazing about this performance here is that he doesn’t even feel like he’s saying lines, everything is just coming off so naturally and it fits so damn well with Coppola’s script. Sometimes I think they didn’t even tell Murray that there was a film crew following him at all times during the filming and they just show a whole bunch of footage of him walking around and interacting with all of these random people as if he wasn’t even in a soon-to-be Oscar nominee.

It sucks that he didn’t win for this flick either because even though Bob Harris is a very complicated, and messed up dude, he has a good heart and much of that credit has to go to Murray and the emotional depth he is able to fall towards. There are definitely plenty of scenes where you see Murray as the sad dude but he doesn’t over-play it and make it seem like he’s trying, because once again, he’s playing it naturally and that’s what I love so much about Murray in just about every flick he does, especially here. Hopefully he’ll get his Oscar some day because I know he’s getting closer and closer dammit!

As great as Murray is though, he doesn’t run away with this film and never return. In fact, Scarlett Johansson is also pretty damn good as his new friend, another sad character named Charlotte. Johansson was so young during the filming of this flick (17 I think) and she’s pretty much asked to play a more mature character and gives off an amazing performance that may not be as effortless as Murray, but still has enough to it that makes you realize she has the chops to pull off a leading role. Her character is sad and bored, but is also a very sweet, nice, and lovely lady that I can definitely see hanging around Bill Murray in real life. May have never actually happened but by the way these two were hanging out and getting along here, I could definitely something was going on.

Consensus: Lost in Translation is a very subtle film, but is also one that will touch you and make you laugh with its natural performances from Johansson and Murray, pitch-perfect direction from Coppola that makes me want to venture out to Japan, and a screenplay that talks about many things, yet focuses on a friendship between two people that could never have happened anywhere else, had they both had not been bored out of their minds in Japan. Yet, how much fun they did actually have together.

9/10=Full Price!!

PS: It’s my birthday today, so I hope you like this post extra more now!

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Wes Anderson’s mind is finally a fun place to be at again.

Moonrise Kingdom centers on two 12 year-olds (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) who fall in love and decide run away together into the wilderness. Naturally, the local community frantically scrambles to find them before a violent storm hits shore.

For awhile now, it seems like Wes Anderson has really started losing any credit he’s ever gotten since his debut, Bottle Rocket. Mainly, the reason for that is because his style is just overly-quirky, to the point of where you don’t feel like you’re actually watching real-life human beings, you’re just watching a bunch of twee characters made from Anderson’s sketches. However, that all changes here but at the same time, doesn’t change all that much. Which is very strange considering it’s probably my favorite from him since The Royal Tenenbaums.

This is probably Anderson’s best-looking flick he has ever done but it’s also with the same style he’s been using for his whole career, it’s just that it works so well with the story. All of the trademarks from Anderson’s direction are here in this flick, but the difference here that sets it apart from all of his other, beautiful-looking movies is that this one is set in the 60’s. The bright colors, sets, costumes, and camera-tricks that Anderson pulls out of his pocket all work rather than just seeming like another hipster attempt at being “cool” because of how he sets it in the 60’s. 60’s was a time for fun, relaxing, and being yourself and Anderson totally taps into that mind-set with just how gorgeous he makes this film look and even if you don’t like Anderson films (and trust me, there are plenty out there who absolutely despise the hell out of him), you can still sit there and just gaze at the beautiful portrait Anderson has on-display here.

Anderson always has beautiful films, no surprise there, but what makes this one so different is that he has a great script to give us something else to sink our teeth into. Anderson has a very dead-pan way of comedic timing but it’s put to great use here just because the film is so damn funny. As usual, you have to look out for little sight gags here and there but it’s the fact that this film continues to get more and more goofy as it goes on, that makes you feel like you’re having the time of your life. There’s a certain unabashed “fun” feel to this film that had me entertained so much but it’s more about how the story made me feel, rather than what it made me do.

This is probably Anderson’s most innocent piece of work to date, and with good reason because when you have a story about two runaway, little kids being together and falling in love, how can you not get a little cutesy? There are so many moments here that are so pleasant to watch because you really feel something for these two kids whenever they are together, and you want them to be happy, you want them to never grow-up and be old, angry people like Suzy’s parents, and you just want them to live their lives together, forever. I know it all sounds uber cheesy and lame, but this story really bring you into to its sweetness and Anderson takes full advantage of that showing us that the outside world for these two, is just not a fun or happy place to be, especially together. It was a story that actually reminded me a lot of my little crushes I had on some chickity-doo-da’s when I was little tike and made me feel young again, just watching how happy they were being able to connect to somebody in their lives. It’s some great stuff to see up on-screen and it’s a real surprise that Wes Anderson almost had me close to tears by the end of it all. “Close to tears” is what I said, people! Don’t worry, he didn’t get me just yet.

The reason why you love these kids together so much, is because the performances from Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are so damn good that I was even surprised to hear that this was their first film-roles ever. Gilman has this nerdy, but endearing look to him that makes him easy to like especially when he starts acting all cool and tough, while he’s trying to protect his “girl” from the cruel outside world. While Hayward is absolutely great as this somewhat disturbed girl, that seems like she would most likely be one of those emo freaks, had she been born 30 years later. They both seem so natural with each other, which really shocked me because they have to do some pretty “intimate things” together that would more than likely have some kids turn their heads and go, “ewwww coootieeeeesss!!”. However, that’s not either of these kids and they’re definitely a perfect fit for one another and I hope that they both get some real, bright futures for themselves because I think they deserve it with the work they put out here.

They’re the real stars of this flick, but everybody else is pretty damn good, too. Bill Murray is great as the dead-pan, always sad daddy of Suzy; Frances McDormand is fun to watch as the very messed-up mom of Suzie (also, Hayward looked a little bit like a younger version of McDormand, just a little bit though); Edward Norton is a whole lot of fun as the cheesy Scout Master Ward, and totally had me by surprise by how spot-on his comedic timing was considering this was the guy who got nominated for an Oscar where he actually curb stomped some dude (doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would have me really laughing at all); Tilda Swinton is evil and bitchy as Social Services, then again, what other kind of character would she play; and Jason Schwartzman also pops-up for about 5 minutes as Cousin Ben, but is still a lot of fun.

Actually, the most surprising piece of good work here was probably done by Bruce Willis as the sad and lonely guy that searches all over for these kids, Captain Sharp. Willis has been so many damn action roles as of late that so many people almost forget about how great of a “dramatic” actor this guy can be at times and he totally surprised me with the depth he was able to go through with this sad-sack of a character. He’s not really all that tough, he’s not really all that happy, and he’s really not at all like John McClane in the least bit. All of which, are a great thing and I hope this shows that Willis has more to him than just shouting out “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker!”.

If there was one complaint I had to throw out from this whole movie it would have to be Bob Balaban as the narrator. The guy opens up the film and is a funny joke, but every time he comes on, for some reason just bothered the hell out of me and it seemed like it was a joke that went on too long. Not a huge problem by any means, but any time the guy showed up, I seemed to have gotten more annoyed.

Consensus: Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s welcome back to being a top-notch writer/director, and with good reason. The ensemble all bring out great work, including the little kiddie leads, the writing is hilarious in its subtle, dead-pan way, and the story itself will drag you in with its sweet innocence. Classic Anderson and I hope he’s back to stay for good.

9/10=Full Price!!

Broken Flowers (2005)

Come on Bill, cheer up. You’ll get that Oscar someday.

Don Johnston (with a T), played by Bill Murray, is a retired bachelor who finds a pink letter from an anonymous women saying that he has a son who is on the look-out for him. Don’s neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), somehow is able to get him to go out on the road and visit his past lady-friends and see who is his babies mama, and who isn’t.

Writer/director Jim Jarmusch has never been a guy I could fully get into as a filmmaker because too many of his films are just weird to be weird. However, this one is different from all of his others that I’ve seen and that’s a very good thing, especially when you have the effin’ man starring in your flick as well.

The film started off terribly slow with Julie Delpy just straight-up giving the low-down on why she is done with Don and it kind of lags for awhile after that as well which kind of bothered me. I wanted to know exactly where this film was trying to go and it seemed like Jarmusch just wanted to show all of these shots of Don being sad, bored, sleepy, and listening to some classical music all by himself in a very-dark room. The slowness in the beginning had me a little bit worried as to where this was going to go but then it started to finally pick up as soon as the story started to pick up.

I don’t know if anybody knows this by now but I have a total sweet-spot for road films. I don’t know what it is about them that just make me feel as if I’m on some sort of adventure with the character through everything and everywhere. The film started to pick up as soon as it started focusing on Don’s trip and then we started to see how Don inter-acted with all of his ex’s who, some changed, some haven’t. The writing is good because there are a lot of funny moments that are more dry than I expected and when it wants to focus on the total awkwardness that these meetings sometimes hold, really worked out perfectly.

My main problem with this film is that I wish the damn people would talk. Don is ultimately a very sad, slow, and quiet guy that doesn’t know what to talk to these chicks about other than try and snooze in the questions about whether or not they have kids, a type-writer, or pink paper. After awhile, the silence started to bother me because I know a lot of this material could have went a very long way given if the script wasn’t all about silences and awkward pauses in between conversations.

There were moments where I fell like this film hit the right note on being insightful. The film shows these women remembering him, and himself remembering them and there is always this slight thought going through both of their minds as to whether or not things could have been different given that they have stayed together. However, the contrived moments took away from this, as well as Jarmusch’s own weird way of putting his stamp on everything.

An example of Jarmusch just being weird to mess around with this story is when Don goes to his first house and a the daughter of the chick named Lolita lets him in to just chill. A couple of minutes later she comes right out to see him and is wearing absolutely nothing! Hey, I’m not complaining that I got to see Alexis Dziena nakey-wakey but to me, it just seemed way too weird to have in a film that seemed to really base itself on the real events that would happen with something like this. There were many more moments like this (well, not quite like this) but this was the one I kept coming back to.

Since Don Johnston is a very sad dude, the film relies solely on Bill Murray to play it subtle, which is something he can do perfectly. There is a lot of silence and pauses in this film, so that sort of takes away his way of improvising to the situations around him but it also gives him the perfect opportunity to create a very minimalistic character that I could still root for the whole film even though he didn’t have much to say. His character arc is pretty strong considering we don’t know much about this guy, but I felt like i really wanted to just because Murray can create so many emotions with just one look on his face. You can tell when he’s happy, sad, or just plain and simply hangin’ out being Bill Murray.

Jeffrey Wright almost takes the show away from Murray as his fun-loving neighbor, Winston. Wright is the total opposite to Johnston which makes him the best character in the whole flick. His performance is obviously a lot of fun and he brings a lot of life to the flick whenever he’s on-screen or talking on the phone to Johnston. It blows that he wasn’t in the flick some more because whenever he was gone, you could really feel the energy sort of come and go. All of Don’s ex-girlyfriends are all played perfectly by older actresses that somehow find a way to make every performance different for all of their slightly different female characters that show a lot of Don’s life somehow.

Consensus: Sometimes I felt like Jim Jarmusch just wanted to be weird for the hell of it, which sort of takes away from Broken Flowers, but Bill Murray’s subtle and understated performance breathes life into this main character and gives us an insightful, sometimes funny, and sometimes dramatic original story.

7/10=Rental!!