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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Blackfish

Top 10 of 2013

Hey everybody!

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

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

10. Star Trek Into Darkness

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

9. Inside Llewyn Davis

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

8. This is the End

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

7. Captain Phillips 

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

6. Blackfish

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

5. American Hustle

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

4. Blue Is The Warmest Color

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

3. The Wolf of Wall Street

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

2. Her

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

1. Before Midnight

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

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

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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Blackfish (2013)

Kids, next vacation, you’re going to Universal and you’re going to like it!

This a documentary discussing orcas, how they’re captured, sold, taken to SeaWorld and left to perform tricks and all sorts of shows for the pleasure of tourists and rich families. However, underneath all of the showboating and smiley faces that usually come along with these performances, is a very dark and sinister world that goes even deeper than orcas being mistreated, they’re downright tortured. But this is also a story told through one orca named Tilikum who, when just a wee, little baby, was taken away from his mother and taken to SeaWorld, where he was expected to perform acts, follow the rules, not hurt anybody, not get hurt, not screw up, and basically, just get used to the cram conditions he was set to live in. Apparently though, Tilikum didn’t listen all the way through, and due to him, SeaWorld has been held responsible for four trainer’s deaths, all of which they do not take sole blame for. And this is despite not only SeaWorld owning these orcas, but also paying and ensuring the safety of the trainers themselves, especially the most notable one, Dawn Brancheau.

In case any of you out there have been living underneath a rock for quite some time, you may have seen that this documentary has caused quite the stir among just about everybody in the world. Celebrities, activists, tourists, regular humans, and heck, even rockin’ bands like REO freakin’ Speedwagon themselves don’t want anything to do with SeaWorld all because of this documentary. Now if that doesn’t tell you at least something of this movie’s effectiveness, then I don’t know what will. Oh wait, yes I do: A nice, lean, mean and mashed-up, 1500+ word review from yours truly. Here we go, people!

Just imagine tears steaming down his face, and you'll understand the sadness.

Just imagine tears steaming down his face, and you’ll understand the sadness.

Some of you peeps out there may not know this, but I am quite the animal lover. No, that doesn’t mean I am a vegetarian, or don’t wear leather or fur, but I know when an animal is being mistreated and I, like many other humans out there I would suppose, don’t stand for it. Downright, I am one of those big softies that, even after kicking some tough dude’s ass at a bar, would go home, lay down on my bed and cuddle up with whatever pet was lying around my house. So basically, I’m a big softy because I love animals, but that’s just the way I am and I would hate to see any torture or mistreatment placed upon those little friends of mine, as well as ours.

That’s why documentaries like this, no matter how well put-together they may actually be, always get me up in a rut. For starters, I never did trust SeaWorld to begin with. Surely, I’ve been there maybe once or twice, but those were when I was just a little tike. Now that I’m older, wiser and more knowing, I’ve learn to not really trust a place too much that parades around a bunch of killer whales, as if they could actually be pals with either you or I. Like I said, I love animals and all, but there would be no way in my mind that I could see myself befriending a killer whale, hence why I give a whole slew of credit to the trainers who show up here to talk, not just for sticking with SeaWorld when they actually saw all of the mistreating that was going on behind the scenes, but because they took a risk each and every day, getting into that water with those whales, performing with them, training them and just trying whatever it is that they could do to treat them the best that they could, because they sure as hell weren’t going to get it anywhere else in that corporation.

And through these stories with these various trainers over the years who have either been with Tilikum, or who have worked at SeaWorld in general, we get a pretty good idea of what’s really going on behind the whole show of SeaWorld and why we can’t always trust what it is that we see, especially since all of these people themselves never did, and yet, they still stuck around! Why? Because they had a heart and a conscience, and they knew that if they left, then nobody would take care of their “pals”, so they stood by no matter what. Even when it got so dangerous, they had to be placed on another side of a steel barrier. If that doesn’t make you at least well-up a bit just reading that, then I don’t know what will.

Oh wait, yeah I do: THE REST OF THIS MOVIE WILL!

The best aspect about Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s direction here as a documentarian is that she clearly sides with the killer whales, the trainers and the people who are especially sympathetic to Tilikum’s cause, but due to their actually being some wrongful deaths involved in the mix of things, it never gets to the point where she’s so one-sided, that she loses the humanity behind the whole idea. The movie does deal with three or more deaths that were caused by killer whales, and shows/tells us even more near-death experiences some trainer’s have had and it’s some of the most suspenseful, exhilarating things you’ll hear in a movie this year. Which is odd too, because it’s all told to us through words and recollections. There are some video spots of these actual attacks happening on-screen for the whole world to see, and as good as they are, they somehow don’t match up to watching these people just tell us like it was, with all of their feelings and emotions right in front of us. It’s raw, brutal and altogether, very sad, because while you do realize that most of these people may still be coping with the fact that they were almost killed by somebody they considered “their friend”, but that they know that there are more experiences like that to come for other trainers, and they can’t do a single thing about it.

And honestly, that’s probably the most heart-breaking aspect surrounding this documentary: The fact that no resolution seems to be found in sight. Sure, watching as killer whales get taken away from their parents is more than sad, in fact, it’s downright torturous; but I knew that it couldn’t have been all that bad for the whale once they got to the big-budget, illustrious and wonderful extravaganza that was SeaWorld. Sadly though, I was terribly wrong and it really hurt me to see how it continued to get almost worse and worse, with no end to all of the problems in sight. I won’t even dare to spoil the ending to this documentary and what sort of note Cowperthwaite herself ends on, but what I can tell you is this: It will make you angry, upset, ready to punch a wall, free any Willy you stumble upon, and do all sorts of these other heroic, inspiring things that you can only see in movies about pot-smoking, free-loving hippies (of which this movie has none, except for one, and his fate isn’t quite desirable).

How in the blue hell can something that massive, be "poorly-treated"?

How in the blue hell can something that massive, be “poorly-treated”?

And that’s quite alright, since these are the types of documentaries to do so, especially one as perfectly-crated with just enough amount of respect for those who have fallen, those who stand behind the corporation that’s going to continue to commit their wrong-doings, those who were there with Tilikum and witnessed, first-hand, the name he lived up to over time, those who saw the corruptness to the corporation and still stood by it because they had “prior obligations”, and last, but certainly not least, those who know that it’s a problem, won’t stand for it and are making their voices heard. With all of these people getting behind the movie’s message and the movie itself, I wager that maybe, just possibly maybe, SeaWorld will cease to exist in the next 20, or 30 years, which also means that plenty of orcas will be allowed to roam freely throughout their large bodies of water, without having to worry that one day, they might just accidentally get picked up by a couple of hunters looking for a quick buck, sold to some head-honchos looking for more than a quick buck, being enslaved in tiny, concrete pools, and practically being forced to live the rest of their lives in a joyless, depressing and highly emotional manner. Yeah, I know I sound soft and sweet, as if I traded in my “Man” card for a whole big can of red paint, but trust me, once you see this, you won’t want to do anything else in your life other than stand up, get your voices heard and let SeaWorld know that you’re onto them, and you won’t be giving them a single one of your own dollar bills.

In other words: Fuck SeaWorld.

Consensus: You don’t have to be a die-hard animal lover to understand the wrong-doings that Blackfish clearly speaks out against, and for that, the movie will more than likely have you upset, disgusted and downright appalled that something like this still stands, in a popular tourist attraction no less. But it will also make you want to speak up, have your voice heard and make a difference in your life, but also with these poor, little killer whale’s lives’ as well. Strange, right?

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

See? All the killer whale wants is a kissie, along with a side platter of blood and guts, but hey, we're losing the point!

See? All the killer whale wants is a kissie, along with a side platter of blood and guts, but hey, we’re losing the point!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net