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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Christian Bale

Song to Song (2017)

Music rocks. Until it doesn’t.

Set in/around the Austin, Texas music scene follows the story of four different people who are all in some way, shape, or form connected to one another. There’s BV (Ryan Gosling) a struggling lyricist who has chances of becoming the next best thing since Bowie, but for some reason, doesn’t know if he wants to fully commit to this dream just yet. His buddy/co-writer/co-producer Cook (Michael Fassbender) is on a much different playing-field; he’s already established, rich, wild and happy as can be, but also a bit of a nut-case, which leads him to making some pretty rash, awful decisions. Then, there’s his former assistant, Faye (Rooney Mara), who now spends her time taking up odd-jobs, whenever she isn’t flirting with the idea of music. And then, there’s waitress Rhonda (Natalie Portman) who meets Cook and ends up not just falling for him, but the world he represents. The same thing happens when BV and Faye meet one another, too, however, their relationship becomes more and more toxic as certain secrets begin to come up into the air.

Look out, Rooney. This is how Baby Goose gets all the ladies.

Song to Song is a lot like every other Terrence Malick film released since the Tree of Life: Rambling, ambitious, meandering, random, and oh yeah, absolutely beautiful. And normally, as was the case in both Knight of Cups and To the Wonder, I would be annoyed, baffled and oh yeah, utterly disappointed; after all, this is the one director who every person in Hollywood wants to work with, drops everything to be around, and do so, without ever even being promised that they’ll be in the final-cut. It’s surprising, actually, because Malick, while no doubt having made some classics in his film-maker career, has more “mehs”, than actually “wows”.

Consider Song to Song in the category of the later, although, with some obvious mild reservations.

Of course, it deserves to be said that, at times, Song to Song can’t help but be incoherent; the editing is so dazzling and jumpy that it doesn’t take long to realize that every scene will probably be on the screen for upwards of five seconds, only to then be switched back to another. The editing is impressive and considering how much footage was probably there to be waded through, time and time again, cut-and-cut, it’s all the more surprising how much of it actually seems to make sense, when put together, but man oh man, the shots can tend to be repetitive.

I mean, yes, I get it: It’s a Malick film. So of course we have to have a bunch of scenes of people frolicking in nature, looking towards the sky, running around exotic locations, and trying not to kiss, but yeah, it happens way too many times here. A part of me wants to learn and accept that as Malick’s thing, and move on, but a part of me can’t help but think it’s just pure laziness, where rather than having to actually write a script, where people speak to one another and profess certain things, they can just run around, glance at each other, and appreciate nature. Once or twice is fine, okay, whatever, but it happens way too often here to where I was beginning to wonder if certain shots were re-used, just so that Malick could hit his frolicking-cue.

And on that note, let me just switch gears by saying, despite these reservations, this movie is quite the watch.

And I mean that in the best way possible.

Sure, it’s Terrence Malick, so the narrative isn’t always the strongest, but in a way, there’s more cohesion here, than there’s been in anything of his since the Tree of Life. Seemingly, they’re two love stories, all taking place around the Texas music scene, and while the movie does ramble on to other places, it’s easy to understand that it is about these four characters and leaving it at that. It’s easy to get confused and well, bored, in Malick’s other flicks, but here, it seems like he knows the kind of story he wants to tell and doesn’t try to go for anything else.

That said, there’s an energy to this thing that just keeps on kicking throughout the whole two hours. It’s honestly what kept me watching, even when it seemed the movie was going to lose its way. But surprisingly, it never does seem to; even in those parts where the movie slows down and focuses on, hey, get this, the actual characters and their lives, there’s still a rambunctious feeling in the air that Malick, believe it or not, just wants to kick out the jams.

Every waitress’ dream: One day, an alcoholic, drug-fueled, crazy and rather insane music-mogul will come in and sweep you off your feet.

And well, he sort of does.

If there’s one complaint that I’ve been seeing around is how Song to Song isn’t really as much about the music, as much as it’s about these characters that make and live around the music, which is an okay complaint, I guess. Except that well, that’s what the movie’s about. Malick doesn’t seem to set out and create some sort of conventional, crowd-pleasing musical in the same vein of La La Land or Chicago, but much more of a narrative-based movie that surrounds itself with loud guitars, amps, drums, and singers, like Nashville, for lack of a better complaint. Sure, we get brief glimpses of Florence and the Machine, Patti Smith, and the Black Lips, but the movie isn’t trying to make this the ultimate Woodstock experience for those who wanted to experience, but more or less, use it as an interesting backdrop for all of these wildly contained lives.

In a way, it’s incredibly smart on Malick’s part, because he not only makes us feel like we’re watching a documentary the whole way through, but a very interesting one at that. Which is to say that yes, Song to Song is beautiful, but you probably already knew that; Emmanuel Lubezki touches something and it automatically turns to art. But there’s something more beyond the prettiness and glossiness of the whole thing that makes it feel much more about the heart, other than the style.

Which is also why Malick does a smart thing in actually allowing his cast to aid him in telling the story, for once.

And with Gosling, Portman, Mara, and especially, Fassbender, Malick’s found some real treats. Granted, a good portion of their performances ultimately come down to narration, but when they are captured on-screen, in the moment, all of them are captivating and enthralling. Fassbender’s probably the stand-out here, showing a loose and wild man in Cook who, despite having all of the money and power in the world, still shows a great deal of darkness, lying underneath. While most of the performance seems improvised, it’s still a true testament to the kind of talent that Fassbender is, where he can play this sometimes over-the-top character and still, somewhat, make him seem real and honest.

Then again, it is a Terrence Malick film, so how real or honest you can get, totally depends on him.

Consensus: Though it does have the ability to ramble at certain points, the exciting energy, utter beauty, and interesting performances of Song to Song are what keep it, at best, compelling and a lively experience. Sort of like, hey, get this, going to a concert. Except with, of course, less music.

8 / 10

Alright, Rooney. Stop being Sia. Be you, girl.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Most cold-blooded killers are, after all, misunderstood.

Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) has been on the run, gun slingin’, robbin’, killin’, and committing all sorts of crimes that have him number one on every person’s bounty list. However, Wade is a pretty ruthless man, to where he can get away from anyone looking to reel him in for justice; it also helps that he’s got the helping hand of his band of fellow thugs, especially his go-to-guy, Charlie (Ben Foster). But eventually, Ben gets caught by the local law and ready for the 3:10 train to take him to Yuma. But in order to get him there, he’ll have to be transported among many lines, where everyone is looking to take Ben down and get a little piece of the reward-money pie. However, Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is just looking to do this so that he can get some money, save his farm, and go home to his family, where he can feel like a responsible man again. As expected though, the trip goes through all sorts of bumps, bruises, and plenty of violence, where one thing leads to another, and it’s never very clear if Ben will ever get on that train and behind bars, like he should.

"Hold it! I'm not Batman here, but other places. Kind of."

“Hold it! I’m not Batman here, but other places. Kind of.”

3:10 to Yuma is the rare kind of Western that not only revitalizes the genre, but also proves why it’s so great in the first place. It doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel of the genre, make up new rules, and play by its own game, but instead, take everything that you know and love from all those other classics, bring them together, and let you have a great time. It’s as if it’s own beast, entirely, even if, yeah, it’s actually a remake, too.

Still, even if 3:10 to Yuma isn’t the most original story out there, it more than makes up for it in all the thrilling, exciting and rather unpredictable action-sequences that take place over its two-hours. James Mangold is a perfect fit for this material, because he knows exactly how to make it all crackle and pop, without ever seeming like he’s out of his depth. Even though Mangold sure does love to jump around from genre to genre, with sheer reckless abandon, it seems like the action-genre may be the one he sticks with, not just because he seems to enjoy it the most, but because he actually seems to know what he’s doing with it, as opposed to those like Michael Bay, or McG.

Why on Earth did I just mention McG’s name?

Anyway, moving on. 3:10 to Yuma more than gets by with its action, but at the heart of it all, and perhaps what makes it more than just another fun and exciting romp through the Old West, is that it’s also the tale of two interesting, challenging, and complex men. Both Christian Bale and Russell Crowe put in great work here, going beyond the silly accents, and showing that there’s more to these two guys. Crowe’s Wade may be a ruthless, toothless (not really, he has quite the set of chompers), and almost sadistic killer, but he’s also got a set of morals and he’s quite the charmer. Whereas, on the other side of the coin, Bale’s Dan is a man with plenty of morals, a simpleton, and family man, but at the same time, won’t hesitate to kill, if he ever has to.

Ben Foster. Up to his usual tricks of not taking a shower to prep for a role.

Ben Foster. Up to his usual tricks of not taking a shower to prep for a role.

Both men are different, yes, but they’re also quite alike in many ways, too, and it’s what makes 3:10 to Yuma quite compelling to watch.

Even when the action is gone for a short while and everyone’s sitting around a fire, eating beans, chewing the fat, it’s still entertaining to watch; the cast is so good, the characters so well-defined, and the script is actually polished. And with Bale and Crowe’s performances, we get to see two men who, despite being on opposites of the social spectrum, still respect the other enough to know where they come from, what their ideals are, and why they are, the way they are in the world. It almost comes close to a bromance, except for the fact that they do try and kill each other every so often, but even then, who knows.

Bromances work in mysterious ways, sometimes.

But anyway, aside from both Crowe and Bale, the ensemble’s a pretty good one. A very young Logan Lerman shows that he can hold his own as Dan’s son; Dallas Roberts plays the sheriff who has to take Wade in with Dan and shows that even the scrawniest of men, with a gun, can still kind of be bad-ass; Peter Fonda shows up and brings some class; Kevin Durand is, as expected, pretty crazy; Luke Wilson has a fun cameo; and Ben Foster, as Wade’s right-hand man, is so crazy, so deranged and so evil, that he almost ends up stealing the show. But still, it’s Bale’s and Crowe’s show to the end and when they’re together, their scenes never stop igniting the spark and make you wish that they’d work together more and more. It doesn’t even have to be in Westerns.

Couldn’t hurt, though.

Consensus: Even if it’s still a Western through and through, 3:10 to Yuma is a tense, exciting and incredibly well-acted piece of entertainment.

8 / 10

Look at 'em. Trying so hard not to make-out and measure sizes.

Look at ’em. Trying so hard not to make-out and measure sizes.

Photos Courtesy of: AV Club, Rotten Tomatoes 

Knight of Cups (2016)

The life of a Hollywood writer is so tragic.

Rick (Christian Bale) is an acclaimed writer currently spending his life in Hollywood, where he parties, has an awful lot of sex, and mostly, walks around, mumbling his own thoughts to himself. But even though his lifestyle may be a lavish one, he still feels the pain and agony from the many relationships he has. There’s Della (Imogen Poots), a rebellious firecracker who sports a leather jacket; there’s Nancy (Cate Blanchett), his sad ex-wife who doesn’t know what it is that she wants in life; there’s Helen (Freida Pinto), a fancy model he meets at a party who may be out of his league; there’s Karen (Teresa Palmer), a carefree, but fun-loving stripper; there’s Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a married woman who he carries on a sordid affair with; and then, there’s Isabel (Isabel Lucas), an excited young woman who brings some joy to his already sad life. Through this all, Rick also engages with his brother (Wes Bentley), who may or may not be a junkie, and his old, but dying father (Brian Dennehy), who may or may not have abused them both when they were kids.

Either way, there’s a lot of sulking going on here.

Why so sad? The beach is right behind you!

Why so sad? The beach is right behind you!

Terrence Malick has been all over the place as of late, sometimes, for better, as well as for worse. The Tree of Life was his first movie in nearly five years, but it proved to be something of a surprise, even by Malick’s standards. Sure, it was nearly two-and-a-half hours long and seemed to dive into the cosmos one too many times, but at the same time, it still registered as a heartfelt, intimate and insightful tale into what Malick saw as growing up and becoming a man, when you’re still definitely a child at heart. That movie opened-up a lot of new insights into the kind of director Malick was, how he viewed himself, and just why he still deserves to be a trusted force, even if he is as unpredictable as they can get.

And then To the Wonder came out and sadly, things went back to the old, weird and somewhat boring ways.

Not that there was anything wrong with that movie in terms of its production-design, as everything in it, looked and sounded beautiful. But as a story? The movie was pretty hallow and in desperate need of some sort of heart, or emotion, or insight to really keep it moving. Heck, Ben Affleck’s lead character had barely five lines of dialogue and we were supposed to follow him and be compelled by every choice he made in his love life? Didn’t quite work for me, even if there were aspects of the movie that I did admire.

That’s why something like Knight of Cups, while not totally Malick’s most accessible film, still offers up a little something more than what we’ve been seeing as of late with him. What’s perhaps most interesting about what Malick does here is that he focuses all of his time, attention and beauty on the soulless, cruel and dull world of Hollywood; one in which everybody parties, soaks up the sun, and has sex with one another, yet, nobody really seems to fully enjoy the excess. This isn’t new material being touched on, but considering that it’s Malick, it feels slightly refreshing and more poetic, rather than just seeming like a rich person, going on and on about how rich people, make too much money, have too much fun, and don’t really seem to have many responsibilities at all.

Okay, the cast may make it seem like that, but Malick’s focus is mostly on Christian Bale’s Rick – someone who, like Affleck’s character, doesn’t have much of anything to say. But considering that everything happens around him, it’s interesting to see just how much of Bale’s demeanor doesn’t change, as it seems like he was just directed and told to walk around, observe his surroundings, and just stare at people if they talk to you, or ask you questions. It’s a bit odd at times, but Bale is still a compelling presence here, that even when it’s clear he isn’t the star of the show, he still makes us want to know more about him.

Same goes for all the other characters who show up here, which is why Knight of Cups has a slight bit more character-detail than his latest offerings.

Rather than featuring everyone frolicking and smiling in/around nature, everyone seems to have at least some sort of personality that makes them intriguing to watch, even if Malick himself doesn’t really give them all the attention they need or deserve. Most of the women in Rick’s life show up, do their charming thing, and leave at the drop of a hat, but it’s still enough to leave a lasting impression. Cate Blanchett’s character is perhaps the saddest, most tragic character out of the bunch, with Natalie Portman’s coming up to a close second. Others like Teresa Palmer and Imogen Poots seem as if they showed up to have a blast and because of that, they’re hard not to smile about or love. Sure, we don’t get to know much about them, or why they matter (other than from the fact that they’re banging Rick), but we get just enough that it goes a long way.

Same goes for Wes Bentley’s brother character, as well as Brian Dennehy’s father character. Bentley seems as if he showed-up to the set, high off his rocker, which brings out a lot of intentional, but mostly unintentional, laughs, whereas Dennehy is a stern presence, making a lot of his scenes feel oddly tense. Malick could have definitely dug into this dynamic a whole lot more, rather than just trying to let all of the narration do the talking for him, but what he’s got here, as meager as it may be, is still well worth taking a bite at.

See?!?

See?!?

Still, there is that feeling that even at nearly two hours, there needs to be something more.

Don’t get me wrong, one of the best qualities about Knight of Cups is that Malick gives at least some more attention to the plot and to the characters than he has recently, but like with most of his other films, it’s hard not to wonder where’s the other reels. We know that certain actors like Joel Kinnaman, Thomas Lennon, Nick Kroll, Nick Offerman, Jason Clarke, and Joe Lo Truglio, among others, have all filmed scenes for this and can be seen ever so briefly, so why not include them? If judging just solely by their celebrity status and skill, why not put them in for good measure and allow for them to make their mark? Sure, it would be a crazier, perhaps longer movie if they were in it, but at least there’d be something to enjoy, rather than be utterly confused by.

Same goes for the characters and cast-members Malick already has at his disposal. There’s so many characters and actors here that, at times, I wish there would have been more context. And knowing Malick for Malick, there’s no reason this shouldn’t be at least a three hour opus of sorts. Sure, some would be pissed and not want to bother with it, but his fans, and those who admire him most probably would definitely like to see what Malick had in his goody-bags all this time. After all, nobody ever said “more development” was a bad thing to have, especially not in a Malick movie.

But hey, this all just me.

Consensus: Beautiful, engaging, and as meditative as you can get with a Malick film, Knight of Cups may not be his most accessible film, but it still offers up enough emotion and intrigue that makes it feel less like a slog, and more like a brain-teaser of what else could possibly be out there.

7 / 10

The dude who played Batman for three movies definitely has enough money for a private lap dance and then some.

The dude who played Batman for three movies definitely has enough money for a private lap dance and then some.04

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Big Short (2015)

Now I literally have no clue what to do with my money.

The financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 will always and forever be considered one of the most heart-breaking, tragic moments in recent memory. But even though it may have came as a shock to most normal, everyday working people whose lives were affected the most, a few within the financial world saw it coming from a mile away and tried to do whatever it is that they could do to fix it all and stop it from happening in the first place. There’s Michael Burry (Christian Bale), a hedge fund manager who is definitely an odd person, but knows of the issue right away. Then, there’s Mark Baum (Steve Carell), another hedge fund manager who, along with his trusted band of confidantes, are trying to figure out what the problem is. And last, but certainly not least, Charlie Ledley (John Magaro) and Jamie Mai (Finn Wittrock), two friends and business partners who are risking all that they’ve got by going out there and making these issues open to generally anyone who will listen. But as they, as well as everyone else here finds out, it doesn’t matter how right you are about what’s set to happen, rich people won’t listen because they don’t want to think of losing their money, for whatever reasons.

Yeah. Just give up already.

Yeah. Just give up already.

One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of the Big Short is that it’s dealing with some very challenging and dry topics. While I’m sure that everybody knows about the financial crisis of 2008 and has a general idea of what went down and why, nobody really knows for sure and that’s exactly what the Big Short sets out to do, which is already enough reason to run for cover, hold up one’s arms, wave that white flag, and give up all hope on ever being informed about anything ever again. After all, you, just like many other average citizens in this world, probably don’t have a single clue what yield curve, or synthetic CDO actually is – instead, you just know what you’re having for dinner, who the President of the United States is, and well, maybe, how many days are in a year. The housing market, banks, mortgages, and all of that other serious, financial stuff isn’t needed in everyday life, so why bother with hearing it at all?

Well, that’s why there’s something brilliant about the Big Short in that it understands all of these issues it may face with appealing to a bigger audience out there and does something totally out of the ordinary: It explains it all.

And by “explains it all”, I mean exactly that; rather than having the movie try its hardest to find a way to finagle in meanings of certain definitions through needless exposition, characters in the film will literally turn towards the camera, or use their narration, and tell you what something means, or have someone else who is perhaps more appealing to do the same. Yet, none of these people ever matter to the actual movie itself and more or less, just seem like glorified cameos, which is fine because, well, they absolutely are! That’s why, when seemingly out of nowhere, we get a scene of Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, telling us about subprime mortgage lenders, it’s definitely, but necessary and much-needed, so instead of throwing it away, you just learn to accept it, learn a few things in the process, and move right on along.

By the way, random celebrities showing up in the movie to explain something happens about three times in the movie, but it works each and every time because, well, it perfectly explains what we need to know about what happens to the housing market and why the U.S. economy was hit so hard. Co-writer and director Adam McKay is very smart allowing for the bulk of the film to just be about what’s going to happen and give us a general idea of why, and then allow for us to watch once all of the cards fall into place and how all of the people who notice it first, act and try to fix it all before it’s too late. Clearly, we know the ending, so the film’s spin on “based on a true story”, is actually quite funny, but that doesn’t take away from any of the tragedy, either.

Still, at the same time, McKay being a director with a heavy background in comedy (Anchorman, Step Brothers), understands that the best way to cope with a tragedy of any kind, is still add an element of funny, sometimes hard-hitting comedy, that makes the pill go down smoother. But whereas with McKay’s other films where it seemed like a lot of the comedy was just about how far certain actors could go to ad-lib without breaking a sweat, here, each and every actor spouts colorful and fiery line of dialogue as if Aaron Sorkin had written the script after he did a few lines. So this isn’t all to say that the Big Short’s funny, but it’s also quite hilarious and smart in that it’s created this all-too-real universe where people talk fast, walk fast, are fast with their comebacks and generally prefer to be harsh to one another because well, they have a lot of money and they can.

But once these people start to realize that all of their money, as well as a lot of other people’s, is going down the drain, they realize that there’s no more playing around and it’s time to knuckle up or shut up. Sad thing is, we know how the story ends and McKay does, too.

That’s why, he never allows for us to forget about it.

Some men, just want to watch the housing market burn.

Some men, just want to watch the housing market burn.

If anything, the Big Short shows who is to blame for the financial crisis, but at the same time, still doesn’t give any closure onto why those responsible let it go on for so long, nor does it resolve the issue of whether they knew about it forever and didn’t care, or if they were just too stupid to realize? Either way, the movie definitely points its long and hard finger directly at the shooter and it helps give a sense of satisfaction even if, you know, those same said baddies are the ones who ended-up getting away with it all. Still though, when watching all of this unravel, you almost forget about that fact and just allow for the story, as well as the characters, to tell itself.

That’s why it helps that the Big Short has such a talented ensemble who, even when it seems like they’re just speaking like my Economics professor, still add enough fun and flair to the proceedings, that they make it a little more compelling. Christian Bale’s Dr. Michael Burry is perhaps the only character who hardly ever moves from one location, but because Burry’s persona is based on weird tics and traits, Bale runs wild with the role and seems to be enjoying himself. Though he’s still enraged by what he’s seeing, there’s still a sense that Bale wants to be light enough to where it helps us get through this pain and sadness.

Same goes for Steve Carell as Mark Baum, someone who seems to live a lovely life inside this financial world, but at the same time, doesn’t want to sit so idly by, that he forgets about it all, either. Carell’s really enjoying this role here and it should be noted that, even despite all of the names and characters popping-up, he’s the clear star of the show and with good reason; not only is his character given the most backstory out of everybody else here, he’s also the most humane one out of the bunch. Though the whole dead-brother angle goes on a bit too long and is an obvious arc capable of being seen from a mile away, Carell still shoulders through it to where it’s okay – we just want to see him be more pissed-off and curse because Carell’s pretty good at that.

And well, for the matter, so is Ryan Gosling.

Gosling’s character, despite not being the meatiest of the bunch, is still probably the most memorable because he’s exactly what every young, rich and vain hotshot in the financial world probably is like. Gosling not only looks the part because he’s Ryan Gosling, but he’s also got the smooth charm and tongue to make him work all the more; while we’re never too sure if he’s a good or bad guy in this equation, we know that he definitely knows a whole lot about money and is capable of being trusted. That said, every scene he’s in, he steals and just about every line he delivers, is hilarious; even the scene where he describes the housing market with a Jenga set, while smart and interesting, is still funny because Gosling’s character is so in love with himself, you just know that he thinks it’s the most simple thing to ever explain. Even though we all know, for sure, it isn’t.

Brad Pitt shows up, too, as Ben Ricket, but doesn’t have a whole lot to do, except just serve Finn Wittrock and John Magaro’s characters bits of info that they need to make this story move more. Wittrock and Magaro are both great here and definitely give us a nice, small-time view of what this financial world looks like from the ground-up; because even though they don’t know it’s all going to crash just yet, we still wait and wonder to how they’re going to react and just how exactly it’s all going to affect them.

Because we know what happens to everybody else on the face of the planet, but what about these two schmucks?

Eh, who cares? The economy’s in the crapper and that’s all worth caring about.

Consensus: For all its difficult financial babble, the Big Short is, surprisingly, easy-to-comprehend in ways, well-acted by its huge ensemble, funny, and most of all, insightful into how this world works and why it all matters to what happened over seven years ago.

8 / 10

Get it yet?

Got it?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

I’m Not There (2007)

Wow. Bob Dylan did more than just go electric.

I’m Not There is, basically, a movie about the many exciting, weird and crazy lives that Bob Dylan has lived throughout his lifetime. However, rather than following the traditional, biopic-structure of keeping it with one actor, all the time, the movie switches things up in having these characters take on different life-forms, with different actors, even though they’re all, you know, playing Bob Dylan. There’s a boy who roams the streets, with his guitar and playing anywhere they’ll allow him to, while all going under the name of Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin) even though, he clearly isn’t who he says he is. There’s folk-singer Jack Rollins (Christian Bale) who was, at one point, the hip, new thing in music but has a spiritual awakening one day and realizes that he wants to do more with his life than just rock out. There’s Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger), another hip, young star in the world of entertainment who has a loving marriage to a French gal (Charlotte Gainsbourg), that soon starts to go sour once he begins to flirt with other ladies. There’s Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett), yet again, another hip, young musician who decides to get rid of his old ways and “go electric”, which leads all of her friends, family and fans to go crazy and reconsider their love for her. There’s Billy McCarty (Richard Gere), someone who may or may not have a rocky past to hide.

Not Dylan.

Not Dylan.

And through it all, there’s Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw) – a dude who’s here to just say weird, cryptic things

It’s noble what Haynes is trying to do here with the story of Bob Dylan; rather than keeping things on a simple, narrow-path that we’ve all seen a hundred times in plenty of other rock biopics, he decides to have it be a whole bunch of different story-lines, at one time, with different actors, but seemingly still playing the same character. It may sound confusing on paper, but surprisingly, it’s relatively easy-to-follow when watching the movie. Right away, the movie makes it a point to remind you that you’re watching actors all play Bob Dylan, and while they may not necessarily actually be named “Bob Dylan”, they’re still different times in the life of Bob Dylan.

Once again, it’s easy to get once you see it all play out, regardless of how weird I may be making it sound.

That doesn’t make it anymore interesting, but hey, at least it’s a noble effort on Haynes’ part for trying to shake things up a bit with a genre that seems too comfortable.

One of the main issues that surrounds I’m Not There, is that nobody’s story is ever really all that interesting to watch or see play-out. While, once again, we know they’re all different versions of snippets of Dylan’s life, none of whom ever really stand-out as taking over the movie and making us want to see them the most. Usually, that’s the kind of issues these large ensemble pieces have – while some stories may be okay, there tends to be the one that takes over everything else and leave you excited for whenever that comes around again. Here though, nobody ever makes you feel that.

Instead, you’re watching a bunch of surprisingly boring characters, mope around, deal with issues that we don’t care about and quite frankly, have all seen before, biopic or no biopic. There are certain bits of style that Haynes tries to work with here to cover up some of the rough patches, but mostly, it seems like what he has to work with here doesn’t really go anywhere all that surprising, or at all interesting. Granted, most of us already know about the life of Bob Dylan, and whether you don’t or not, it doesn’t matter, because the movie doesn’t seem all that interested in telling you much about him, either.

All it really cares about is the music he made, which granted, is fine.

Not Guthrie.

Not Guthrie.

Bob Dylan is one of the greatest musicians of all-time. His music will forever continue to stand the test of time and while some of those out there may have issue with his voice, and the fact that, well he can’t actually sing anything at all, it almost doesn’t matter. The fact is, the man has created some great music and it’s on full-blast in I’m Not There. Which honestly, helps the movie out a whole lot more; it’s surprising just how well any song Bob Dylan goes with a montage, regardless of what may be in the montage or not.

So if Haynes was trying to make this as some sort of tribute to Bob Dylan, the musician, then he did a solid job. At the same time though, he doesn’t really go anywhere else with it, other than that. This isn’t to say that nobody in the cast seems to be trying, either, because they all do. But, for the most part, they all seem like they’re really trying to dig harder and deeper into these characters and give us more than just what’s being presented on the surface.

One in particular, of course, is Cate Blanchett’s nearly unrecognizable performance as Jude Quinn. While it’s easy to assume that it’s just Blanchett doing an impersonation of the young and brash Dylan (what with the iconic wig, sunglasses, jacket, and all), she actually goes a bit further and show that there truly was a tortured soul at the middle of it all. Though it was easy to just assume that he had it all coming to him, there’s still a nice bit of sympathy that’s easy to feel for this character. It’s less of a gimmick role, and much more of, yet again, another chance for Blanchett to run circles around everyone else in the movie.

Which honestly, I’ll watch any day of the week.

In fact, give me that whole subplot/movie with just Blanchett. I’m fine.

Consensus: Todd Haynes deserves credit for trying something different with I’m Not There, but overall, seems to not have the right idea of what to say about the life of Bob Dylan, or at least, present it in a manner that’s intriguing to those who may not already know enough about him to begin with. But hey, good thing they paid for them royalties!

5 / 10

But yeah, definitely Dylan.

But yeah, definitely Dylan.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Comingsoon.net

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Exactly why you never mess with guys named Moses. Especially when you’re near the beach.

If you don’t know the story of Moses by now, you probably should. But anyway, here’s what this movie’s all about. In 1300 B.C, Moses (Christian Bale) is a general and a member of the Royal family, which makes him a brother to  Prince Ramesses (Joel Edgerton). However, he is not blood-related, so therefore, when Seti I (John Turturro) passes away, it’s Ramesses who is next to claim the throne. While this doesn’t upset Moses, he knows that this won’t be good because Ramesses doesn’t take responsibility well and lets his emotions get the best of him. Ramesses knows that Moses thinks this and therefore, he banishes from the land and forces him to survive on his own. While in exile though, Moses finds out that not only does God want him to continue out his plan, but that he needs Moses to take control of whatever the hell crazy stuff Ramesses is doing to his land. Obviously Ramesses isn’t going to fall for all of this mumbo jumbo, which makes God very angry and nature so drastically turns on humanity.

And the rest is, I guess, history.

"Guy-liner is cool!"

“Guy-liner is cool!”

A lot of has been said about Exodus: Gods and Kings, and most of it isn’t about whether or not it’s actually good and worth your time at all. Most of it is, and reasonably so, is about the casting of the white actors in roles that were made especially for Hebrews and Egyptians. It was a small bit of controversy that held some ground, but it was made all the worse by the fact that Ridley Scott couldn’t quite shut his trap and therefore, seemed to have kick-started a huge list of people boycotting his film.

Is it reasonable? Yeah, I guess so. But that isn’t really the point of this movie, or even this review. The point of this movie is to inform and possibly entertain the audience about the story of Moses. However, the point of this review is to tell you that while it does the former, the later is hardly anywhere to be found.

Most of this has to do with the fact that Scott doesn’t really do much of anything entertaining, interesting, or even enlightening about this story. It’s all as plain as day. It may all look incredibly pretty, but honestly, there’s only so much one viewer can do with really pretty visuals. Eventually, you need an interesting story, to be told in an incredibly compelling way. If you can’t do this, then there’s something wrong with your film, all problems with casting aside.

And no, I’m not making the argument that Scott’s movie somewhat fails because we all know the story of Moses, it’s mostly because he doesn’t know where to go with it. He shows us that, yes, Moses was a person who spoke to God, set out to do what he was called on to do, and when it didn’t, all hell (literally) broke loose. This aspect of the film is, at least, exciting, fun, and interesting, something you don’t get from the rest of the movie. It shows us that not only does Scott still appreciate a nice monologue when he wants to use one, but that his exquisite eye to detail still pays off.

That said, I’m talking about what’s maybe 15 or so minutes in a movie that runs on almost two-and-a-half hours. Which wouldn’t have been a huge cause for concern, had the rest of the movie been at least somewhat worthy of watching, but it’s so slow and meandering, you’ll wonder if Scott fell asleep while making it, or was already in the midst of planning and filming his next picture, that he totally forgot about what was already on his plate. Either way, it’s a bit of a snoozer of a film and it’s made worse by the fact that some signs of Scott’s genius shows, teasing us more and more about what this film could have been, had it not decided to get bogged down in whatever it was blabbering on and on about.

And the same could also be said for the cast who, despite all being pretty big, respectable names, don’t really offer much to a movie that desperately needed something to liven it up.

Fleece on horse. Strike a pose.

Fleece on horse. Strike a pose.

Though Christian Bale is one of the best actors we have working today, it seems that whenever he is in a major blockbuster picture, he never quite gets the chance to show everyone those skills he’s known to have. Here, as Moses, he gives a pretty wooden performance that, at times, can seem inspired, but for the most part, just makes it seem like he’s reading from a Gideon Bible and doesn’t really care whether or not he’s putting any effort into anything. It’s not a terrible performance, but definitely one of Bale’s high-points, I have to say.

Same could be said for the rest of the cast. The likes of John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Ben Mendelsohn, Aaron Paul and María Valverde all show up here, but hardly any of them leave a lasting impression on us. They’re just here to service a script that doesn’t know what it wants to say or do about itself, nor does it really know how to treats its characters, so it just has them talk a lot about seemingly nothing and see if they can draw up any sort of emotion whatsoever.

It seems like that was the same guideline given to Joel Egerton, although he’s a lot better off with his role as Ramesses because he’s call on one thing and performs it well: Be campy. Egerton seems like he’s not only having a fun time with this role, but is at least more interested in diving deep into who this person may have been and why he was inspired to make the actions that he did. Though most of this gets lost in a muddled film that could really care less about any sense of humanity there may be in these characters, the effort is still noticeable and it’s worth commending Egerton for. Even if, you know, the character was written as a guy who yells a lot, forces people to die, and eats a lot grapes.

Consensus: Everybody in Exodus: Gods and Kings seems to be trying, except for Ridley Scott himself and it proves to be a major problem for a two-and-a-half-hour epic that moves slow, doesn’t say anything interesting, and hardly ever seems to know what it wants to do with itself, other than just try and inform people about the story of Moses that they may already have known since kindergarten.

4.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Gotta give it to those Egyptians - they sure did have style.

Gotta give it to those Egyptians – they sure did have style.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

American Hustle (2013)

Whenever you listen to more than a few hours of disco, something bad is always bound to happen.

Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) run into one another, and it’s automatically love at first sight. Despite Irving having a wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and having a kid back at the house, Irving spends more than a few hours of his day completely, and utterly devoted to Sydney. Along with her, he also keeps his devotion to his successful scamming business, that’s been going pretty well for quite some time, all up until the moment they get nabbed by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Richie, seeing more than just a promotion in his hind-sights, decides to cut them a deal: Either go to jail for a really long time, or help him catch a series of stings, and get out of jail, Scott-free. Irving and Syndney obviously go for the latter plan, however, once they realize that the people they’re dealing with here are along the lines of New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), and even worse, the mob. To add insult to injury, it becomes painfully clear that Sydney and Richie start to have a little thing for one another, which also leads to Irving to get a little bit jealous and begin to bring his wifey-poo around a bit more, despite her not being the most functional human being on the face of the planet.

Although this movie definitely seems to be based on the Abscam operation, everything about is partially fictional. That’s probably one of the smartest decisions David O. Russell ever makes here because he never, not for a second, has to worry about who he’s offending here, who he’s portraying in a bad-light, or even what facts he’s getting right, getting wrong, or totally missing the ball with. Instead, he just indulges himself with a story that could be told by anyone, however, given his talent as a director and the cast’s talent as, well, thespians, there’s plenty of fun to be had, as if Marty Scorsese himself could have sat behind the camera and did this himself.

What long-haired red-head doesn't just love a bald guy with a slick comb-over?

What long-haired redhead doesn’t just love a bald guy with a slick comb-over?

But nope, while we do have a couple of weeks until The Wolf of Wall Street sees the light of day, we’re stuck with what seems to be a bit of a carbon-copy of his famed-style, and yet, it’s also its own baby in its own right. It just isn’t perfecto, you know?

Here’s the thing with O. Russell: The man loves his big ensembles, there is no question about that whatsoever. He so much indulges himself, just as much as the cast does and I think that’s where the bear of positives here lie. The cast is absolutely a treat to watch and practically the sole reasons why this movie works as well on the level it does. No offense to dear ol’ David, he’s great and all as the director and mastermind behind the works, but the cast he was able to assemble here, more than makes up for any pitfalls the script runs into (which trust me, I’ll get into for a second, just let me have me way with this delightful cast first).

Seeing as this is a movie that takes in place in the 70’s, you obviously have to expect everybody to be living it up with all of the frothy hair, nice and big jewelry, digs, cars, money, etc., which also means you have to expect everybody to be just a tad bit over-the-top. Heck, this was the decade in which disco roamed free all throughout the Nation state, so it only makes perfect sense that each and every cast member would get a chance to do a little playing around a bit, even if they are all characters in their own right. However, they’re entertaining characters to watch and that’s mainly due to the amazing cast at hand here. The most clear example of this is Jeremy Renner as Mayor Polito, who would seem like a totally crooked, immoral and unbelievably stupid guy to begin with in any movie, but somehow, the makes him a sympathetic character that doesn’t seem to know what he’s gotten himself into, nor does he really know the difference between right and wrong. He just wants to make people happy, look good for the cameras and treat his friends to a good time. The writing is in some way to credit for the handling of this character, but it’s also Renner’s likable-presence as well, that never goes away, even when the movie seems to highlight him in a very unsuitable-manner.

Same goes for Bradley Cooper who, if he’s lucky, may be looking at an Oscar nomination by the end of this year, as he deserves it. We’ve all seen Cooper do comedy before, and we know that he’s capable of making us laugh; we’ve all seen him play a bad guy before, and we know that he’s capable of making us not like him and his charming good-looks. Combine those two elements together, and you got Richie DiMaso, one of the most entertaining guys to watch in this whole movie (which is saying something), and for good reasons too. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that Cooper himself took a shot of Red Bull everyday before shooting, because this guy is constantly speaking a-mile-a-minute, saying things that aren’t always clear, always having a wise-crack handy and always making it seem like he’s got somewhere to be, something to do and someone to bother. Yet, he never seemed to annoy me. He was always a fun guy to watch, and honestly, a very honest guy that just wanted a promotion to come his way and a little bit of the spotlight as well. Yeah, he does get to be a bit creepy and brutal at times, but at the end of the day, you know that he means well and just wants what’s best for the rest of society, even if it does all come at a cost. Cooper is constantly on-fire here, stealing the show and making a name for himself, in every which way possible, which is why I feel like, if the world is perfect and does go round and round, that he may just run a good chance at getting a nomination this year. Going to be hard and all, but I think he’s got what it takes, boyishly good-looks and all.

That handsome bastard him.

And despite him being known as the type of guy who was practically in Cooper’s place, only three years ago, surprisingly, Bale really dials it down here as Irving Rosenfeld, giving us a guy you genuinely care for, despite being a proud con for all of these preceding years. While Bale definitely doesn’t go as nuts as he usually does in most movies, he’s still great here with his scrubby look, laid-back feel and overall sense of sadness that follows him throughout every scene, regardless of what his character is doing. Even in the scenes where he and Amy Adams are together, you can tell that he just wants to be with her badly, and their arc together really expands throughout the movie, keeping the emotional-glue firmly in tact. Sure, sometimes it does weave in and out-of-place at times, but it’s still what keeps this story moving and on a larger-level than just simply “catching cons”.

Speaking of Adams, the girl is as lovely, as sassy and as fiery as she’s ever been here as Sydney, the type of girl two guys like Irving and Richie would fall head-over-heels for. Adams has definitely flirted with playing up her “bad side” in the past, but never to the extent here in which you never quite know if she’s playing Richie, Irving, or even us for that matter. She’s a sneaky one, that Amy Adams and she’s perfect at fooling us, every step of the way. However, as good as she may be among the rest of these dudes, Jennifer Lawrence is definitely the one who gets the upper-hand as Irving’s accident-prone wife, who never seems to know when to shut up, nor does she ever know when to make the right moves either. At the beginning, she does play on the sidelines a bit, but once the story gets more complex and bigger, then she comes in and play a bigger role, and she’s an absolute blast to watch. She’s hilarious, nutty, wise enough to where you could actually see her playing a gal that’s about ten years older than her actually age, and even dumb enough to blurt out confidential info like Irving and Richie being in cahoots with the FBI and all, the same type of info that could get them all killed. J-Law (not to be confused with the other one J-Law) is definitely the celebrity it seems like nobody can stop watching and I see why: She’s genuinely talented, good-looking and a pretty cool gal, that just so happens to be a great actress.

"Trying to out-act me kid, huh? Huh? HUH??!?!"

“Trying to out-act me, huh kid? Huh? HUH??!?!”

But while these peeps are great and all, including many others that I couldn’t even begin to list and take up more of your time with, there’s still one person that needs to bring this altogether in order to make all of these different parts come together in a cohesive, but enjoyable way, and that’s David O. Russell. For the most part, O. Russell moves the story pretty quickly once the cons get going and it becomes abundantly clear that the dude doesn’t even have to do anything special with the camera to allow us to have a great time with these characters; he just lets them be themselves. Whenever he just places the camera solely in the middle of a conversation between a few, or maybe two characters, it’s literally the most fun you’ll have at the theaters this Holiday season, bar none. Everybody’s light, quick, punchy, funny and always entertaining, making you laugh the whole way through, even if you know that there’s so much you may be missing because of how fast everything’s moving.

However, O. Russell’s style isn’t necessarily a very inventive one, and in fact, more or less feels too much like a carbon-copy of Scorsese’s, rather than his own take on that said style. We get plenty of the dual-narrations, the swooping in-and-out of the camera, a hip, rockin’ soundtrack from the 70’s, and heck, even a supporting performance from a person who’s synonymous with Scorsese movies. Granted, the last two aspects can’t really be held against O. Russell because the dude’s obviously just working with what he’s got, but as for the other times, it felt like something I’ve already seen done a hundred times before, just with more over-the-top and wacky performances from the whole cast and crew.

Once again, I’ll say it: This is by no means a bad movie, it’s just a very good one, that could have really gone for great, had it not been what seems like another Scorsese look-alike. Sure, there are definitely problems with the script, and how it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, at any given point in time, but by the same token, it still doesn’t matter considering everything’s moving at such a quick-pace, you don’t really have time to stop and think. You just sit-back, watch, and enjoy the ride. That’s what movies are all about, regardless of who’s in front of, or behind-the-camera. This coming from a two-bit movie critic, but you get the point.

Consensus: When done at its worst, it’s a not-so original take on a con story, done in a way that feels like a Scorsese flick; but when done at its best, American Hustle is most likely going to be the funnest time you will have at the movies for the rest of the year, showing you exactly what one can do when they have more than a few talented people delivering their script.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Somebody get me into that party. I will do anything. ANYTHING.

Somebody get me into that party. I will do anything. ANYTHING.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Out of the Furnace (2013)

Does anything pleasant ever happen in rural Pennsylvania?

Russell and Rodney Blaze (Christian Bale and Casey Affleck) have been through some tough times as it is, and in the year 2008, they only seem to be getting wore. Russell still continues his daily-job working at the local mill, where Rodeny is sort of a wild card of sorts when it comes to his own forms of payment. He’s a vet who may be looking at more service in the future, but in another way to get money, he gambles, he bets on horse races and he does a lot of underground fighting. One night, however, Rodney doesn’t come back after he and his manager of sorts (Willem Dafoe) don’t return from a fight happened all the way in New Jersey, and was ran by the menacing, utterly nasty Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). When Russell realizes that the police aren’t able to take this case any further, he decides to take the law into his own hands, even if that does mean risking his life and eventual freedom for doing so. However, it’s all in the name of his little bro, so it’s worth it, right?

In case you haven’t been able to tell yet by the two very obvious pieces of info I’ve given you about this story, let me just reiterate them for you: It’s rural Pennsylvania, and it takes place in 2008. Why? Well, because people have to brood, have something to be sad about and basically be working their rumps off just to get a nickel and say, “Oh, gee whiz barkeep! Tough world we have here, but an even tougher economy!” And I’m not firmly against movies that like to stress the problems with the lower-class and today’s current economy, but it has to be done in the right way, that’s not just thought-provoking, but feels realistic as well. Even if it is coming from a major studio, and filled to the brim with attractive, A-listers.

"We don't take too kindly to those with a full of set of teeth, boi!"

“We don’t take too kindly to those with a full of set of teeth, boi!”

Writer/director Scott Cooper, despite his best intentions, was not able to convey this movie’s message in the right way, however, he still has something to make-up for it, and that’s a pretty gritty, raw and brutal story of people who just do whatever they can to make it by in this world, even if that does mean cracking a bit of skulls along the way. I get that some may view this story as “tired”, “conventional” and “nothing new”, and to that, I’d have to agree. The film is, by no means at all, breaking down barriers that haven’t already been broken down and put back up before; instead, it’s just telling a small, tight crime story to the best of its ability, while not getting everything right along the way.

Rather than just making this flick a thinking-piece on the people who were there and effected when the Stock Market crashed those some odd years ago, like Killing Them Softly did and did somewhat well, the movie never feels like it’s meaning to go deep enough so that they don’t hide away from more of the grittier aspects like the underground fighting rings, or the drug-dens, or the grisly killings. Makes sense since this movie’s got to appeal and please to somebody out there in the large sheet of canvas we call Earth, but it takes away from what could have been a more powerful story, that took its punches, but never lost its point it set-out to make. Which is why when Cooper decides to back-pedal a bit in the end, it felt like a cheap move on his part, especially since he laid down so much groundwork for this story to continue to develop more and more as it went on along.

However though, I have to give Cooper some credit for at least entertaining me and giving me a solid crime-thriller, that is all about its tension, and less about the nonsensical blood, gore and murders. There are quite a few moments of bloody and brutal violence that occur, but they aren’t done so in a way that feels gratuitous or in a manipulative manner in order for Cooper to show you how unrelenting and bleak this world is, it just feels like how it should feel: Quick, mean, in-your-face and effective when it wants to be. It isn’t that Cooper wants to give us a violent tale of revenge so that we go out there in the world and start taking down random people left and right, it’s more that he just wants to give us a story that goes deeper than just plain-old revenge, and hits the core of our families.

Okay, it definitely comes off a lot hokier than I may make it sound but do believe me: There is some emotion to be had here. It just won’t leap out at you and grab you by the neck so that you feel its tears. It’s just a sad movie that you can choose to feel sad with, or sad for. Either way, you’re going to feel sad.

And one way you may feel sad for this movie is the way that it assembles this huge cast, and how some of them feel wasted, and others don’t. In my eyes, nobody felt wasted, but that’s just me. I’m a lover, and I never find anything bad to say about anyone…

Anyway, leading this cast of beautiful, Hollywood celebrities is Christian Bale who, once again, carries a movie on his shoulders without ever showing signs of stumbling and slightly losing it, or falling and dropping it all for good. His character of Russell isn’t the best character he’s played in the past decade or so, but Bale gives him more complexity to where you can understand why the guy feels like he needs to change his brother’s life around, even if that does mean causing some heated dinner-discussions. You can tell that there’s always this sense of rage and bitterness lingering behind Bale’s eyes, but he never fully lets it out in a sea of angry yelling; he sort of just continues on with this performance, with this character and with this story, trying his hardest not to let-go of us and lose us for the rest of the flick. Needless to say, he doesn’t and he keeps this character, as well as this movie, very interesting, even when it seems to not be talking about much at all.

Casey Affleck also does a pretty solid job as Bale’s brother, Rodney (weird, right?), giving us the type of dude you’d actually understand and believe as the loose nut in the batch. He’s not all that there in the head, doesn’t always make the smartest decisions, thinks more with his head than his heart and always finds himself looking down the pipeline of something terrible and awful to happen to him, or to the ones he loves. So basically, he’s a classic fuck-up, in every sense of the word, however, he’s a sympathetic one that you feel bad for because he knows he could do so much better with his life, he just doesn’t have much motivation to do so or doesn’t even want to, despite it being the best thing for him and the ones he loves. Affleck has a few scenes where he lets loose of his emotions in the ways that Bale has been known to do in the past (mainly behind-the-scenes) and he does pretty well with each and every one of them, while still laying down the groundwork for an arrogant character, that we’re definitely supposed to reach out to and care for, even at his dumbest moments. And he definitely has plenty of them.

Times are tough when you've just been replaced by Ben Affleck.

Times are tough when you’ve just been replaced by Ben Affleck.

Woody Harrelson is the one big baddie in this whole sea of ’em, playing Harlan DeGroat, and god, he’s good. With all of the lovable, kind and happily-spirited roles he’s portrayed in the past, it’s hard to remember how damn menacing a figure Woody can be when he’s given the chance to be that way, and he’s pretty damn good at it too. He seems like the type of guy that wouldn’t have an ounce of kindness to be found anywhere in his heart, and it works better for this character, rather than working against him as an obvious cliché. Sure, we get that he’s a bastard that doesn’t like anybody he crosses (he practically even tells us early on), but he never feels like one that you couldn’t walk into if you weren’t watching where you were in the backwaters of New Jersey. He’s the type of disgusting human being we all love to poke jokes at for being inbred mother-humpers, yet, would never want to be in a face-to-face fight with. Never, ever in a million years.

Everybody else who aren’t the main characters of this story, still do pretty well even if its fairly obvious they’re just here to collect a paycheck, do their work and be gone. Willem Dafoe is a sleazy guy whom manages poor ol’ Rodney, who owes just as much money as he does, despite being more “professional” about it; Zoe Saldana has a great couple of scenes as Russell’s ex that he so desperately wants back, but just can’t have because of one big problem that gives us one of the best scenes of the whole movie that doesn’t concern shooting, killing or any acts of violence, if you can actually believe that; Forest Whitaker’s character is thrown into the weird position where he’s banging Russell’s ex, and yet, at the same time, being that he’s the cop called onto the scene, has to do his jobs, strictly by-the-books without judgment clouding his mind and he pulls it off well; and Sam Shepard gives us another role where he plays the older, wiser and more silenced member of the family, but is so good at it, I don’t even have time to complain about it. I’ll just let it be, baby.

Consensus: While Scott Cooper would definitely love if Out of the Furnace was more than just gritty, raw and down-to-Earth crime-drama, he still delivers a tense, revenge-soaked story that never lets us go, even in its messiest moments.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"If your bro needs help with the voice, just tell him to give me a call."

“If your bro needs help with the voice, just tell him to give me a call.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Guess Advil and getting your recommended nine hours doesn’t cure everything.

The true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a hard-partying rodeo-man that doesn’t take a single ounce of his life for granted, that is, until his life is about to be cut-short after he receives news of contracting the HIV virus. Woodroof is the type of good ole’ Southern boy that likes to party hide, with all sorts of women, drugs and booze, which is why he responds so violently and angrily thinking that only homosexuals contract the virus. Basically, he thinks it’s a mistake, until he realizes that his body is only deteriorating by the day, which is when he ultimately wakes up, smells the cauliflower and realizes that he has a life that’s worth living, and he will do whatever he has in his might to keep it going. Especially even if that means he has to get involved with illegal drug-trading with the rest of the gay community through local cross-dresser Rayon (Jared Leto). Especially then, even if he is a total homophobe that wants nothing to do with men, or their penises. He just wants to make some easy cash and just keep on living, man.

There have been plenty of movies in the past that have touched upon the HIV virus and for that, we have Philadelphia to thank. Now, I know that Philadelphia sure as hell wasn’t the first flick ever to discuss the HIV virus with such bluntness, but it was the first mainstream movie to do so, all in order to get people’s attention and wake them up to the real problems that people were facing on a daily-basis, the same type of problems that you may or may not have heard on the six o’clock news. That’s why it is only fitting that 20 years later, the HIV virus still continues to get the movie’s it deserves to have people look up, take notice of what’s happening and try to band together and find a cure, dammit!

Hey! Remember me from Ghosts of Girlfriend's Past? Yeah, neither does anybody else.

“Hey! Remember me from Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past? Yeah, neither does anybody else.”

What surprised me the most about this movie was, aside from the fact that it is awfully emotional when it wants to be, is how much of a light-hearted approach it takes to a very serious subject, yet, it isn’t out-of-place or in bad-taste at all, because the subject that this movie is basically all about, was that type of person: Fun, exciting, jumpy and always in a rush to get whatever he needed to get done, done. The movie gives us its story, gives us a reason why it all matters, why we should care and basically lets it all breeze-by right quick, where we see how this underground drug-trading may have been illegal as illegal can be, but yet, benefited those who needed it the most.

In a way, despite Woodroof being a very homophobic man that wants nothing to do with the gay community whatsoever, starts helping out that same community and becomes something of a savior to them. Granted, he still wants his money right up-front, and if he doesn’t get the known-amount, it’s your ass to the curb, but you can still feel like this guy wants to do right for the world and for people who need it the most, even if he is a bit of a prick that’s in it just for the money and to keep himself alive. So yeah, he’s not the most sensitive guy out there in the world, but the movie still has you on his side right away and begins to build up this whole “him vs. the rest of the world” argument that the flick takes a little too one-sided, but still utilizes effectively in getting you inside the minds of so many people that were. and probably still are, having the same exact thoughts as to why they weren’t getting the treatment they oh so desired, and if they were, why wasn’t it legally FDA approved?

Basically, what it all comes down to is that people want to make money, and that’s that. Or, at least that’s what I got from this movie which was a bit of a lame-ass way of telling both sides and giving them their story. I get it, the movie is more on the side of Woodroof who literally did all that he could for the same community he all but banished, but there could have been a bit more juggling in terms of view-points and sympathy. For instance, the strangest aspect behind this movie is that the only openly-gay actor in the whole movie (from what I know of) is Denis O’Hare who, believe it or not, plays the most detestable character in the whole movie as the main doctor who doesn’t really care much about Woodroof’s drug, only that it takes away his patients that he wants using his approved-drug, AZT, the same type of drug that also happens to be doing more harm, than actual good for those said patients.

What’s odd about O’Hare’s character is that you’d feel like since this man himself is part of the same community that his character is against, that you’d get more dimensions to him than just meets the eyes. But nope. Instead, he’s just a schmuck who is all about the money, getting the rewards benefits at the end of every year and doesn’t give a lick what actually benefits his patients. He’s not alone in those regards as the DEA agents who continuously crack down and grow suspicious of Woodroof’s “business” he is attending to, also seem like a bunch of cold, heartless a-holes that don’t give two shits about whether or not these homosexuals he’s helping actually live or die, they just want to prove that the law, no matter what, always prevails. Except for Steve Zahn’s character, but then again, he’s Steve Zahn. What? Did you actually expect him to play an unlikable dude? Come on!

Since the antagonists are such ever loving douchebags, this gives the protagonists plenty of leg-room to show their likable features which, in essence, also allows the actors themselves to strut their stuff and give some of the best performances any of them have had in a long, long, long while. The main person who is getting the most attention out of everything else that has to do with this flick is Matthew McConaughey, and for so many justifiable reasons. For starters, the cat lost close to 50 pounds here to give us the impression that yes, this man is dying; yes, his skin is all wrinkly; and yes, his clothes barely fit him. Not only does this add a huge sense of realism to his performance, so much so in a way that it’s uncomfortable to watch him much like Christian Bale was in the Machinist, but also makes you feel like the guy is literally dying right in front of our eyes, just as each and every day goes by.

Someone give him a burger already.

Someone give him a burger already.

McConaughey’s boyish charm comes into play many of times, giving Woodroof a playful, fun feel that works well for him when he practically becomes a small-time drug kingpin, but also gives us a man that feels like, despite all of his cracks and screws being shown to us on countless occasions, is all doing this for the right reasons. Like I said before, he’s not perfect, but he does eventually grow into becoming an receptive, nice, kind and generous man that knows when business becomes more than just business, and humanity begins to take over. Of course, this transition from bastard-to-good-guy never, not even for a second, rings false, because McConaughey always shows him as the type of hardened-soul that wants to keep on living on, just as for long as he can, with as many pleasures as he can, without having sex and infecting others around him. Plenty of buzz has been made about McConaughey here, and it’s all deserved because not only is this his most-demanding performance yet, but it’s also probably his richest, giving us the type of lovable, enthusiastic character we love seeing him play, and giving him a darker side that shows layers, upon layers, upon layers, just as his life-watch continues to keep on tick, tick, tickin’ away.

However, plenty of buzz is also being made about Jared Leto’s huge transformation as well, playing Rayon, the local crossdresser Woodroof starts business up with, and that’s definitely deserved too. And that’s a huge surprise coming from a person like me, especially considering that with every new album or song his shitastic band 30 Seconds to Mars releases, I continue to grow less and less fonder of him, not just as an artist, but as a person. Thankfully though, Leto comes back from shadows and gives us a performance that’s not only captivating in the way that he shows this Rayon character as being a saddened, rendered soul, but one that’s still strong and will find a way to end this epidemic, along with the homophobic Woodroof. Together, they form a nice bond that isn’t like buddy-buddy, but more that it’s business-partner relationship, that has some ties in friendship, but nothing too much that crosses boundaries; the way that Woodroof clearly likes it. I would not be the least bit surprised if Leto gets a nomination for his work here, not only because of what he does with his character, but how, now two, totally opposite times, he has done a full-on transformation, embodying his character’s soul anyway he can.

Let’s just hope this means that he’ll stick with movies from now on in, and keep away from making anymore crappy music. And no, I will not even throw a link in there. I refuse to.

Also, Jennifer Garner’s here trying to earn some street-cred playing a nurse that not only joins the cause that Woodroof is fighting for, but works as something as conduit that gets him bits and pieces of information in order to help him continue what it is that he’s doing to save these people. Garner is good, but in all honesty, her role is stretched-out a little further than it needs to be; and the only reason it feels like that is because it’s Jennifer Garner in that role, and not somebody like say, my sister, Siobhan, or my dog, Pearl. Either one of them, no attention whatsoever. What’s wrong the movie-business these days, dammit?!?!

Consensus: There may be a lot of emotional-baggage that it certainly can’t handle, but nonetheless, Dallas Buyers Club is still a heartfelt, poignant and somewhat inspiring take on a little-known, but very important story about Ron Woodroof, played to perfection by an Oscar-worthy, and nearly-starving Matthew McConaughey.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Out-method the other on the count of three. 1.....2....go!!"

“Out-method the other on the count of three. 1…..2….go!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Equilibrium (2002)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.5/10=Rental!!

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

OK Batty, you had your fun, you had your box-office records, and you had your hype. Now, it’s time to get the hell out of here!

It’s been 8 years since Harvey Dent was killed by Batman and Gotham City is pretty much going to hell. It’s turning for the worse, there’s no central peace or order to be found, and Bane (Tom Hardy), has a huge gang of thugs basically taking over the city. However, little does he know that there’s a certain someone who’s always there to stop evil at once: Batman (Christian Bale).

Honestly, who the hell has not been waiting for this freakin’ movie!?! Ever since The Dark Knight came, stayed for a long-ass time, and went back in 2008, people have been waiting day-after-day just to see what Nolan was going to pull off for his last hurrah. Thankfully, this is his last hurrah, and what a perfect hurrah it is.

Director Christopher Nolan proves, once again, why he is in-fact one of the greatest story-tellers working in film today. I know the same exact thing in The Dark Knight review, but this guy really proves that he has some insane skill with this flick because from start-to-finish, I was basically on-the-edge of my seat, wondering what the hell he was going to do with this story, these characters, and everything else in between. I’ve never been a huge comic-book fan and to be honest I’ve never really read much of Batman comics, but from what I see here, this guy takes the story of Batman that we all know and love, gives it a dark edge, and makes you feel like it can and will go anywhere he wants it to. There were certain parts of this flick where I really felt like some major characters were in danger of being killed off right away and even though that danger comes and goes, much like normal superhero movies, you still feel like the danger is not over. Just when you think that things are going to get better for these characters and Gotham City itself, it doesn’t and throughout the whole film, I was constantly thinking who will I be seeing for the last time and who will I be seeing again to fight the baddies. Sounds lame, I know, but this story really feels like it will go somewhere where no other superhero film has ever dared to do so far before, and sometimes it does, but it’s all I could ask for in an entertaining, superhero movie. A lot of this story harks back to Batman Begins, so be ready for that, but this is it’s own story, through and through.

Nolan is a daring film-maker, well all know and love that, but it’s not just because of how epic and twisty the story can be, it’s all because of what that guy brings to the table that makes this film all of the more enjoyable. There’s a certain type of suspense in this film the whole time that not only made me feel the energy going throughout my veins, but kept my eyes locked on the screen at all times. Every single action scene feels like it’s going to be even better than the last one, which they usually are, but there’s just something so much more epic about the action scenes here that made me want to get up and join in the action, whatever that may have been at the time. You can just feel the energy of this movie escalating into something bigger and bigger as the run-time goes on, and once it gets to that breaking-point, all hell breaks loose and there’s just so much action and excitement going on that you cannot help but feel it come off the screen as well. But, however, as good as a lot of this action may be, it’s still feels very epic and I think a lot of that has to do with Mr. Nolan and what he does behind-the-camera.

This is definitely one of those films to see in IMAX, even though it’s not always shot in that format the whole way through. The shots Nolan grabs here are great, whether it’s these sweeping action set-pieces or just beautiful over-head shots of Gotham City, either way, the IMAX looks great and if you do pay extra for that ticket, you will not be disappointed with what you see, or hear. The sound is just so loud and clear, that whenever an action scene happens, you can almost hear and feel the hits with the loud-ass booms of the speakers, and it gets even better with the score that Hans Zimmer has made up here. As soon as you hear it come up, it hits you and you can just feel like shit is about to go down, one way or another, and sometimes it does, and sometimes it definitely freakin’ does! Didn’t make much sense, but I don’t care! I know I don’t mention scores a lot, but with a film like this, you need an epic score just to give you the feeling of how epic this film truly is. Yeah, I know I said the word “epic” again, but it’s the truth, everything from the score, to the cinematography, to the story, to the action, makes it that from beginning to end. Yeah, there may have been a couple of problems with it’s story here and there, but I was able to let that all go by me and realize that this story just totally grabbed me and never let go. And thank the lord for that.

For every single person who has ever talked ish on Christian Bale and what he does with Batman and that “growl” of his (trust me I’m one of them), be ready to feel ultra sad knowing that this will probably be the last time you ever see this guy do that ever again and what a way to go out with it. This is probably the best performance Bale has given as Wayne out of the whole trilogy because he brings out that warrior-like darkness that arose in him from the second flick, but also goes back to when he was just learning the ways of his anger from the first one, as well. It’s a pretty cool mish-mash of character ideas going on with him in this flick and Bale handles it perfectly, just like I expected him to.

After having such an iconic villain like The Joker, played by the late, great Heath Ledger, it feels very obvious that Nolan would try his hardest to make Bane out, almost the same exact way, if not more, but he doesn’t go down that route which I liked. Bane seems like a strange choice of a villain to be in this dark trilogy, but he’s given a lot more development here that gives him a pretty bad-ass origin story to start off with, a bunch of intellectual skills that match his fighting skills, and a pretty intimidating physique, courtesy of rising-star Tom Hardy. Hardy is great with this role and proves to be more intimidating and dangerous than The Joker in more ways than I expected because whenever he’s on-screen, you can just feel that tension whenever he is, but when he isn’t, you can still feel it as if he’s just planning what he’s going to do next in the background somewhere. There’s this great use of his eyes that Hardy uses to convey all of these evil and mean thoughts that are going through his head, and you almost feel happy that you don’t see what else is going with his face. Definitely a great threat for Batty, and another reason why Nolan should have been trusted with this character from the first place. Oh yeah, and that “voice” of his? Easy to understand most of the times, other times, you can’t really hear it fully, but you pretty much get the gist of what he’s talking about. Evil shit, and that’s all you need to know.

Another big worry that people had with this film’s cast of characters was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. It’s not that people didn’t trust Hathaway and her skills as an actress, it’s more or less that fans didn’t know what to expect from this character that seemed so weak whenever she was adapted onto film the other times, but somehow, they pull it off perfectly here, mostly Hathaway. Right from the get-go when you see this girl, she is just bad-ass, smart, witty, sly, evil, and sexy, but you never know what’s on her mind, what she’s going to do next, or who’s side she was going to end up being on in the end of it all. That mystery about her, made her character so much more awesome and bad-ass than anybody ever expected and she totally seems like the type of chick-character that could hold her own with the best of them. Don’t hold me to this, but I sort of do see an Oscar nomination for Hathaway here, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t surprised, either. Just one of those things I could see happening in the future, and with good reason, too.

As for everybody else in this flick, they’re all pretty good, too. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, aka the effin’ man, does a great job with a character that comes out of nowhere, we know nothing about, and just seems like one of those cookie-cutting good guys that every superhero story needs. However, JGL makes this character so much more bad-ass than anybody, even myself, first thought and he makes a great supporting character that you know you can trust every time he shows up on-screen. JGL is getting bigger and bigger with each and every role he takes, and it’s not for long until this guy finally nabs an Oscar. Maybe even two, hell, maybe even three! I don’t know! The sky is the freakin’ limit with this dude! Marion Cotillard is also new to this story as Miranda Tate, and does a splendid job, as usual, even if her character does seem a little bit forced with the hum-hum romance between her and Bruce Wayne, but it’s easily forgivable since she’s so good in everything she does. As with out returning veterans of the series, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine, they all do their parts and show why exactly their characters have stayed so strong throughout the whole time of these movies.

I know that throughout this whole review, I kept mentioning and bringing up the word “epic”, but if I had to sum this flick up in one word, it would be exactly just that: epic. You can just feel like this film is going to culminate into something big, something extravagant, and overall, something that will stay in your mind forever because of what Nolan has done with this series, and does with this goodbye to the series and stories that he has made so damn popular once again. Now that he’s done with these flicks, Nolan will go off and do the film he’s always been wanting to do and probably kick as much ass with them as he has with these three, but I will never forget this amazing trilogy and as sad as it may be to see the last time for all of these characters happen right in front of our eyes, I know that I had a great time with all three flicks and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’m getting a little teary-eyed here right now just writing this and when you see this flick, trust me, you won’t be able to blame me. Thank you Christopher Nolan. You truly can do no wrong.

Consensus: Though it may be very long, The Dark Knight Rises delivers on every spectrum: acting, writing, directing, cinematography, score, etc. It’s exactly what you could want in a summer blockbuster, and superhero movie, but it’s also exactly what you could want in a film that’s saying “adios” to all of its characters that it’s introduced to us for the past 7 years and it’s a legacy that I won’t forget. That’s for damn sure.

9.5/10=Full Effin’ Price!!

The Dark Knight (2008)

Damn, when they say “Dark”, they freakin’ meant it!

Batman (Christian Bale) raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organisations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker (Heath Ledger).

Come on now! You can’t honestly sit there and try to tell me that you didn’t see this one coming. I mean with The Dark Knight Rises only about a few short days away, I had to realize again why I’m so juiced up in the first place and thank God for that, cause this movie still kicks ass no matter how many times you see it. And to answer any of your suspicions, I saw this more than 10 times. In it’s entirety, as well.

Let me just get this out of the bag and go off by stating the obvious when I say that this is one of the, if not, the best superhero movie of all-time, and all of that can be attributed to one of the best storytellers working today, Mr. Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins was a pretty damn dark origin story to how Batman became who he is, but this film goes even farther in the dark departments where almost everything here is complex, gloomy, depressing, scary, sad, and most of all, tense. Holy shit is this movie ever so tense! Nolan lets the story be told the way that it should, which works in its own right, but what really got me every time was whenever he would pack this film with another insane action sequence that would last over 10 minutes and just keep my attention up on the screen the whole time. The sounds are loud, the shots are booming, and the whole time, you feel like you’re there and you have no idea what’s going to happen next.

That’s also another aspect I loved about this movie, you never knew what was really going to happen next. Too much in today’s world whenever we get a superhero movie, it’s pretty much the same song and dance but there’s just something different that Nolan brings to this story here and he makes it all the more unpredictable. I mean there is obvious, generic plot points that this film follows through on, but not everything is exactly as you would expect it to be. And honestly, even when things are even remotely up-lifting or happy, they aren’t as sunny shine as you would want. Instead, the daaaaaaarknessss taaakesss overrrrr!!!

So when you do have a story that’s somewhat unpredictable and plenty of hardcore action scenes that kick your ass right into shape, you pretty much have a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, which is in fact what this film does if not more. Every single scene feel like it matters to this story, only to build it up more and give it more layers, and every time a piece of action would come out on screen, it not only made the film feel that much more intense but also added to the ruthless mood that Nolan gave this film in the first place. You almost feel like this director will do anything and everything to entertain us and keep us watching, but he also doesn’t allow for it to be just his story to tell, we all know and love it the way we do and there’s a spirit underneath it all that really makes it fly (pun intended). It’s not everyday that you get to see a story like this that’s so damn complex and fun, but also one that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be pulling any punches and could literally go anywhere with itself. That’s the type of director Christopher Nolan is and if you don’t believe me, go on and check out his résumé, and see what the eff I’m talking about. This guy means business and it shows through every single film he makes, and that’s why I have total and complete faith in him handling this last one.

If there is any complaint I have to give to this film is that it is almost too tense to the point of where I feel like I was getting tired by the end. I know, I know, I’m going to get attacked in the comments by how lame of a complaint this is but the film does run on a little too long and you feel like there should have almost been an intermission for people to go out and stretch their legs and get some over-priced goodies at the concessions stand. Then again, it’s just another sign of Mr. Nolan not taking any prisoners when it comes to watching his movies and being there for the end, with every body part still in-tact.

Christian Bale, once again, does a pretty solid job as Batman/Bruce Wayne and shows that he definitely has the skills and charm to pull of a complex character like Batman where we see him as this happy and rich playboy, that has to stand up for what is right, put on the cape, belt, suit, and everything, just to show what he believes in. Maybe that was a little too corny for Batman, and hell, even this movie, but you know what I mean. Bale is always awesome and regardless of what he does with his voice, you know this guy always kicks ass. It was also awesome to see everybody else return here and give their characters more development this time around with Gary Oldman as Lt. James GordonMorgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and of course, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth. Also, people will probably notice that Katie Holmes didn’t return to her character of Rachel Dawes (for Mad Money, great decision honey!), so they put Maggie Gyllenhaal in for her and she does pretty awesome. She isn’t necessarily a damsel in distress character as she can stick up for herself but also makes it clear why two dudes like Wayne and Dent would be fighting over here.

But when it all comes right down to it, you cannot talk about this film without going over it’s two main villains: Harvey Dent/Two-Face and The Joker. I feel bad for Aaron Eckhart here because this guy totally gets over-shadowed by all of the hype with his character, as it’s obviously always more focused on The Joker, which isn’t fair because the guy kicks some sweet ass in this role. Eckhart definitely seems like a great choice for Dent because he’s always been able to play these somewhat slimy characters, that you know you can’t hate because deep-down inside, there’s something good in them. Take this role for instance, as it is a lot harder to portray a dude that is pretty much a romantic rival to our main hero, and also goes from good guy to bad guy pretty quickly and dramatically. But somehow, Eckhart pulls it all off and I’m glad to see that he finally got his chance to be apart of the A-list because this guy has something about him that just really clicks.

However, you can’t talk about this film without not talking about it’s main attraction in the first place, and with good reason: Heath Ledger as The Joker. This is one of those rare, inspired bits of casting that comes around almost once a decade where a random actor gets put in this role where it doesn’t seem like it fits that person one bit, but somehow, they pull it all off perfectly to the point where you almost don’t feel like you’re not watching that same actor do their own thing. That’s this rare role where Ledger just got to do anything he wanted with this iconic villain. Does he have the same wit and charm as Nicholson’s? Of course, but it’s a lot more darker now and goes along with the tone so perfectly because Ledger isn’t a Joker that’s all about fun and games, this ‘effer will kill you when he has the chance to do so and he’ll laugh and smile about it. Don’t believe me? Just try and remember that magic trick. Thank you, I rest my case. But honestly, this is one of Ledger’s best performances ever, which is obvious because he won the Oscar that year anyway but it should not be all about because he died and the Academy felt bad. No, this guy commands the screen every time he is up there and you get the perfect feel for what this actor really would have done, had he lived on and saw what this iconic role done to his career. Really is a sad thing to see when you have somebody with such a bright future right ahead of them, just fall short because of some stupid drugs, but we will always have the movies and that’s what matters.

Consensus: The Dark Knight is exactly what you would expect from a superhero flick, especially one that is considered the greatest of all-time: awesome action sequences, tense storytelling, unpredictable story, great acting, easy-to-root for hero that has more problems at stake than just a bunch of baddies, baddies that are as menacing and evil as you can get, and a direction that just reminds you that Christopher Nolan is a man amongst men when and when it comes right down to it, this guy can do it all if he wanted to! The Dark Knight Rises, here I come baby!!

9/10=Full Price!!

Batman Begins (2005)

Fear the Batman and his raspy voice!

As a boy a young Bruce Wayne watched in horror as his millionaire parents were slain in front of his eyes, a trauma which led him to become obsessed with revenge but his chance is cruelly taken away from him by fate. The discovery of a cave under his mansion, and a prototype armoured suit leads him to take on a new persona, one which will strike fear into the hearts of men who do wrong, he becomes Batman (Christian Bale).

Since everybody and their mothers have been hyping up the release of the epic conclusion of the Christopher Nolan Batman Saga, I thought it would be a good time to go back and check out what these other two did to have all of this excitement. However, it only got me more and more excited for what’s bound to come July 20th.

What Nolan does here with this Batman flick is give it a whole new look, edge, and feel to it. Instead of going for the slap-happy, goofy type of Batman we usually see from Adam West and the terrible Joel Schumacher, we get a real serious Batman that works a lot better. That’s right, no Prince jams, no Bat nipples, and no hammy villains: everything is played straight to the core and that is one of the main things that Nolan does here perfectly. Nolan actually gets into the character of Bruce Wayne more and find out how, why, and for what reasons he goes off from being this million dollhair playboy, to all of a sudden becoming a kick-ass dude dressed in a Bat suit.  Of course being dressed as a Bat when you’re laying down the law on somebody is a little kooky in its own right, but they actually bring that up amongst other topics, and it all comes together perfectly.

Nolan also knows how to make this film look great with some perfect shots coming from the cinematography, but also with the sleek and dark look this film had the whole time, especially when it came to Gotham City itself. Gotham City here, actually looked like a metropolis rather than just a set with some fancy designs on it and it got me into this setting where every one and everything is just dirty as hell, everybody and their mothers are all corrupted, and there is no law being brought down on anything bad happening. Gotham City has never looked better and it only gets cooler and cooler to look at once Nolan begins to bring in some of Batman’s cool gadgets and whatnot, all of which, are going to make you want to head on back down to the local Toys R Us and play around a little bit. I’m probably alone on that one but it’s just another excuse to go and play with my toys.

There was plenty of action that worked, especially the finale which kept the energy flowing, but it start to bother me after awhile. Yeah, Nolan gives us the action we want but whenever he does, the camera is constantly up each person’s asses and you can’t see anything else other than a couple of figures throwing punches and kicks at one another. With all of these “hand to hand” combat fight sequences being edited so tightly, it was really hard for me to even get a feel for who was hitting who and who was doing what to whom, and I guess I just also wanted that “awww shittt he just broke that bulls….” moment that I usually get whenever I watch a superhero/action movie. Instead, I just guessed who was winning and who ended up winning and 9 times out of 10, I was right.

Christian Bale was a great choice for Bruce Wayne/Batman because the guy can look and act the part no matter what it is that he does, and he is no different here. I like how Bale gave off this dark but cocky attitude about him that made his character seem more like Patrick Bateman, which isn’t such a bad thing considering that is by-far one of his best performances of all-time and it’s definitely a lot easier to cheer on this guy when it comes to the beat-downs. Katie Holmes was pretty damn flat as Rachel and I think that’s mainly because the writing didn’t give her much to do, other than constantly bitch at every one around her, especially at Bruce and then act like they’re in love at the end. Yeah, didn’t really believe that after all of the hissy-fighting but maybe she was just tense. Then again, that’s always an excuse for ladies.

As for the villain(s) of this flick, each and every single one of them do fine-ass jobs and give a lot more to this story, even if it is without any real iconic villain that we all know and love from the Batman series. Liam Neeson is sinister as Henri and seems like the type of dude you really don’t want to mess with, even if it is Oskar Schindler; Tom Wilkinson was freakin’ funny (in a good way) as the last mobster in Gotham City; and Cillian Murphy does a great job playing up that whole crazy-persona here as Dr. Crane, and thankfully, he doesn’t overdo it one bit. Oh yeah, another surprise is that The Scarecrow is actually scary this time around. Never going into the corn fields ever again.

Consensus: Batman Begins is not perfect but it’s a very dark, bleak, and serious type of superhero film that works due to it’s inspired direction from Christopher Nolan, and some awesome performances that all of the cast gives out, with the exception of Katie Holmes which was pretty predictable.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Rules of Attraction (2002)

Whoever thought that Dawson would end up being Christian Bale’s little bro.

Set in a small, affluent liberal-arts university in present-day New England, USA, where three students named Sean (James Van Der Beek), Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon), and Paul (Ian Somerhalder) who have no plans for the future – or even the present – become entangled in a curious romantic triangle.

If you don’t know who Bret Easton Ellis is by now, go on over to Wikipedia and check him out. He’s the writer of several novels like Less Than Zero, American Psycho, and The Informers. Basically this guy is a fucked up dude who sees the world differently than I can say I do, but I also got to give him a lot of respect because this damn guy is original and it’s even better when you have an original director to help out with the adaptation.

Writer/director Roger Avary is one of the main reasons why this film works so well because he gets inside the mind of Ellis and sees the world through his eyes. Everything is mean, nasty, cruel, but also very very dark in a way that is like unlike any other flick I have seen in quite some time. On the surface, this is a college flick that shows non-stop debauchery, hell, probably a lot more debauchery than ‘Project X’, but underneath it all is actual themes about how people can never connect and these characters are perfect examples of that. They all try to connect to one another and actually be noticed, but somehow, it never works out whether it’s bad timing, miscommunication, a tongue slip, or just a total fuck up which makes everything go to shit. It’s sad to say it but this film is more brutally honest than I ever expected it to be and it was very hard to not agree with what this film was trying to say.

But as I said, this film is also about non-stop debauchery and when I mean debauchery I mean everything such as snortin’ cocaine, drinking beer, having sex, partying, snortin’ cocaine, drinking beer, having sex, and so on and so forth. There is so much of that here but it works for the film because it not only adds to the whole central theme of the flick but it also takes us into this satirical world of college that Ellis has created. These kids never go to class, any time we ever see them they’re doing something bad, and when they aren’t doing something bad, in their heads their planning on doing something bad next. It was funny how Ellis just makes fun of how young adults are, especially ones in college, but the humor isn’t obvious at all, actually it’s the kind of humor that’s pitch black and is almost too dark to understand at first. The inner-thoughts that go through these kids minds is funny because of how short-minded they are but it’s also very sad because it’s true and it seemed like every time I got a laugh out of this flick, I sat there and thought that I shouldn’t be laughing because this film is basically making fun of me as well. Hey!!!

The screenplay is awesome and fits Ellis’ style but it’s the style and inspired direction of Roger Avary that really got me here. I can’t say that this film is filled with a style that is unlike any other film you have ever seen before, but there are some pretty inventive things that Avary does here with this story that gives it that extra kick. For example: Avary uses this technique where he plays forward with his camera then rewinds it in a different place and does the same thing to other scenes. This was a technique used in ‘Memento’ but for this flick, Avary gave it this very weird and bizarre feel that not only made me feel like this director could do anything but he actually will too. There’s plenty of other memorable scenes where Avary uses a split-screen to show us the difference between fantasy and reality (hello 500 Days of Summer), a Trainspotting nod, a scene where a snow flake falls down Van Der Beek’s face to melt into a tear in a very emotional scene, a long but quick-paced montage about a dude who went to Europe and all of his experiences, and one of the best “love at first sight” scenes that I have seen in a long, long time. That’s right, a movie that is based off of a novel from the same dude who gave us Patrick Bateman, has one of the better “love at first sight” scenes I have recently seen. Don’t understand it either but it’s something that Avary did here that made it work.

However, as much praise as I may be giving this flick, there was still a huge problem in the end. Earlier I said that this film is basically non-stop debauchery, and as perfect as that idea may have suited this film, it als0 leaved a lot to be desired. This film has no plot, and while it does move at a regular pace, nothing really goes down other than all of the crap that I mentioned earlier. It takes us inside this world of these obvious, loser kids but it still doesn’t really do anything for this film to keep it’s story going and it was sort of a bummer in the end because there could have been a really solid story to work with here in the first place.

Another problem I had with this story was that I think it also lost a lot of focus here because even though it’s supposed to be focusing on these three characters, it mainly puts Sean Bateman in the front, and everybody else in the back or not there at all. I get it that Bateman is basically the notorious asshole here, but there was a good 20 minutes where they didn’t even include Paul, and barely even had Lauren show up either. It was a shame that not only was there barely any story here at all, but it’s even more a shame that they try to sell this as a love triangle, when they barley focus on it or even anybody else other than Sean for that matter.

The cast is a bit odd on paper, but they all do perfectly with each of their incredibly sad and depressing characters. Shannyn Sossamon was absolutely likable and believable as the sweet and innocent virgin gal, that definitely seems like a chick I would love to just hang-out with and maybe give a hug too as well, since the whole time she seemed like she needed one. Ian Somerhalder is pretty solid as Paul, and was definitely giving off those homosexual winks at everyone around him and it worked because this character was weird but also very sad. Jessica Biel may seem like a strange choice for a total slut in a college flick, but she’s actually very good and creates a wholly unlikable character in Lara. Then again, everybody else in this flick is basically unlikable as well so she basically already had her hand in the bag.

The best performance out of this whole cast that really did shock me more than anything was probably James Van Der Beek‘s amazing performance as Sean Bateman. Yes, Dawson is the one dude in this flick, who goes to college to fuck everything up and succeeds at it. I didn’t think I was going to believe it when I was watching this, but slowly and surely, I started to really believe just how sick, effed up, and mean this character was but I also couldn’t hate him since Van Der Beek plays him with such charm and likability, much like Bale did with Patrick Bateman. This is one of the best “against type” roles that I have ever seen and Van Der Beek nails what it’s like to be a person that is angry with everything in the world, especially yourself. I’m a little ashamed to say it, but dare I say that I was actually a bit scared of him here as well…? Great performance and it’s an honest shame that he hasn’t gotten any big roles since this because this definitely should have knocked him back up in the books.

Consensus: The story is basically non-existent but where The Rules of Attraction works in is it’s inspired writing and directing work done by the wonderfully stylized, Roger Avary, and a cast that makes this more than just another film trying hard to be mean and hard to watch, it’s one that may make you look at college and young people in a different way. Still, can’t say that it’s everyone’s cup of tea either.

8/10=Matinee!!

Battleship (2012)

Gets me more and more excited for the live-action adaptation of “Don’t Wake Daddy” directed by Wes Craven.

Crashing the biannual RIMPAC exercise, a mysterious alien spaceship makes the month-long training event more important than ever before for our naval forces. Unaware of their goals beyond apparent wanton destruction, with a force field keeping what’s out out, and what’s in in, it’s down to a handful of ships and erratic lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) to take down the alien forces and save our world from being turned into dust.

Any person that was even somewhat bummed to hear that Michael Bay was done with the whole Transformers franchise, can only be happy to see that there may be a new franchise brewing. For some odd reason, though, it’s based on a board game that I only played when I was really, really bored. I was a very hyper kid in case you didn’t know.

Instead, taking over duties as director is Peter Berg. Berg is a dude who knows how to do action well even though his scripts may not always be perfect. Case in point, flicks like The Rundown and Hancock, are two films that hit-hard with its action and entertains the hell out of everybody watching even though it may not be winning any awards in its originality department. Still, the guy knows what he’s doing and that’s pretty obvious with this flick too, but it almost seems like he wanted to be more like Bay rather than try to put his own stamp on this soon-to-be movie series.

First of all, before I start to crack down on this film I would like to say that it is pretty fun and action-heavy, if that’s all you want. Berg definitely has a lot of fun with this loud, crazy, and insane atmosphere and story that it almost seems like he has a bit too much fun with all of the havoc but you still can’t help but be entertained watching it all yourself. I will say that the action did hold me over for many parts and I think that’s mainly because the special effects do actually look quite good. Berg’s huge visual FX team definitely makes this film look legit and plenty of the scenes where it’s just the alien’s ships squaring off against the Navy’s ships are actually very realistic. However, that can’t get past everything that is so lame.

I’ve been using that word a lot lately. “Lame”. But that’s exactly what this flick is because as fun and entertaining Berg and his FX team try to make this flick, they continue to get bogged down by the fact that this script is so damn shitty and unoriginal. I get it that I’m not supposed to be going to this flick for witty and powerful writing, but you got to give me something to work with here that can at least hold me over when shit isn’t blowing up. However, this film’s dialogue is so overly cheesy, so obvious, and so ridiculous that whenever there is a moment of everybody being serious, there is tons and tons of laughter, but whenever the film is joking around with us, the film ends up just being stupid and a lame attempt at comedy. It’s also annoying since every single character here seems to have their own witty line, right before they go off and do something heroic or bad-ass. Are lines like “Boom” and “Mahalo Motherfucker” really needed for a flick like this? Actually, they don’t even say the “F” word, they just cut it off because they didn’t want to lose their fan-friendly PG-13 rating. Lame.

This film isn’t so terrible just because it tries to be funny, plenty of action flicks nowadays try their darn near hardest to do that, but it’s more that there’s nothing new or original really offered here. All of the action revolves around ships trying to blow each other up by constantly tossing missiles at each other and the aliens being able to throw any kind of weird or strange sci-fi shit at the opposite team. It becomes fairly boring and monotonous, that only seems to be used for the sake of keeping our minds off of the fact that this script blows. Probably also didn’t help that all of the action was played with a loud-ass noise constantly blaring through the speakers. Actually, I think one of the speakers in my theater blew out and I was not surprised because my ears are still ringing from all of that loud ruckus. I sound old, I know.

What was also another bummer about this flick was the aliens themselves. Yes, once again in a Summer blockbuster there seems to be aliens as the villains but honestly, who else could pull off such a thing as the villains in this flick? Russians? Arabs? Swedes? Anywho, the explanation for them being on Earth is pretty dumb and sounds like the same reason I heard last Summer in Super 8, and the way they look is terribly unintentionally funny. With their helmets on, they seemed like a bunch of soldiers from the cancelled Halo movie, and when they take them off, they all look like evil Goblins and seem way too silly to be considered a bunch of evil and menacing pack of aliens. They seem more like the ones you want to cuddle with, or save from the government. Not throw out in the open and have them killed.

As far as the cast in concerned, everybody tries but they aren’t given much to do with this material. Taylor Kitsch plays Alex, a slacker who joins the Navy, and within weeks is the senior officer on the big, bad naval ship, being allowed to call all of the shots. This didn’t make any sense but Kitsch definitely tries with this character, even though the guy comes off very bland and does too much of the “Christian Bale Batman’s voice”, but I think he obviously has talent, just needs the right movies to show it off. Maybe that’s what Savages will be for. Brooklyn Decker isn’t as convincing as the military physical therapist, but she definitely is easy on the eyes.

Liam Neeson is one of the big draws of this flick, but he’s barely in it and whenever he does show up, he’s the absolute man and steals the show away from everyone around him. Shame the dude didn’t get more screen-time but he was probably off doing 10 other flicks around the filming of this one and hell, I don’t blame him for leaving. I would have too. Alexander Skarsgård also isn’t around that much either but that’s for reasons I can’t say, even though I am so damn tempted to. Oh yeah, and we also have pop singer Rihanna making her feature-film role debut and is absolutely terrible. She plays one of those bad-ass female roles that’s usually made for and done a lot better by Michelle Rodriguez, but she can’t even do any of that right. Honestly, Berg should have just called me up, told me to get a slight tan, cut my gonads, and get a butch-looking wig, and I could have honestly done a better job than whatever the hell this chick does here. Rihanna, you’re a great singer but stay away from movies and closer to Chris Brown’s hands. Oh yeah!

Consensus: Battleship definitely thrills with it’s loud explosions and fun direction from Peter Berg, but the script takes away from everything else with its overt silliness, lines that seem like they are jokes in and of itself, and characters that don’t make any sense but are just here to give us people to care about and root on to win the good fight. Michael Bay will be back people, get ready.

4/10=Crap!!

Shame (2011)

Apparently being addicted to sex isn’t fun. Dammit!

Michael Fassbender stars as Brandon, a sex-addict who is constantly bedding women almost each and every single night. However, his sister (Carey Mulligan) soon comes in to live with him and gets in the way of his life-style even though he continues to get worse and worse. Family and sexy-time just don’t really mix.

Other than almost seeing ‘Blue Valentine’ last year when it still had the rating, this marks my first time ever seeing an NC-17 flick, even though it weird is that I didn’t get carded. For some reason they have just never been my thing because they are usually always porno flicks that try to do something, but end up not doing anything. However, this is a flick that I’m glad to say deserved its rating and doesn’t hide away any pee-pees, ta-ta’s, or…well…you know…lady parts.

Writer/director Steve McQueen (no, this one) goes for the guts, or should I say wieners, and keeps this dreary and freaky mood where everything is dark, disturbing, and just not right. There isn’t a real driving force behind this narrative but to see the ways this guy goes about his days, popping b’s left-and-right still made me feel like something crazy was going to happen next.

What I liked about McQueen’s direction is that he actually doesn’t try to spell-out anything, except for the sex of course but even that to an extent is somewhat thought-provoking. McQueen lets us see this guy for what he is and what he’s suffering with and when things go from bad to worse, it’s hard to take your eyes off of the screen mainly because you know that this story is just going to get crazier and crazier. I never felt any emotional attachment to this story but I thought the way that McQueen showed this form of addiction, in it’s sad and dark haze, was very gutsy and he didn’t back down from showing anything, which I thought needed to be done to get the full experience of this film.

Where McQueen really nails this film down is in his way of filming, because being an artist himself, he shows that you can make anything great to look at. I love tracking shots and how McQueen keeps them going on for scene-after-scene was really great because it made me feel as if I was there and it was pretty nice to actually see somebody create tension by using just one shot the whole 5-10  minutes. There are a lot of memorable moments here where McQueen doesn’t cut away once such as the dinner scene he had with his co-worker, or when he’s jogging through the streets of NYC, or when he’s just standing there spying on his next sexual prey. McQueen really added a lot to this film other than just a bunch of really dirty sexy-time scenes, he made this feel real.

However, where this method fails is when he takes a little too long with certain scenes that I think should have been cut right away. I think anybody reading this knows what scene I’m talking about. The scene where Mulligan absolutely butchers the song “New York, New York” played on for way too long and instead of just trying to show us something that these characters share, it made me wonder just how much longer could this damn scene go on for? I mean it wasn’t that long of a song in the first place, right?

Another problem with this film is that the film does start to lose it’s own sight by the end, even though it always stayed interesting. I felt like this film really struck a cord with me when it came to its story, but how everything played out in the end seemed a tad predictable and unfocused. There were certain moments where an idea would pop into my head and I would imagine if what I was thinking, would actually happen in the flick, and 9 times out of 10, it actually happened. What I’m trying to say is that the last 30 minutes were predictable and I could tell what was going to happen next, even though my eyes were still glued to the screen.

The reason why this film felt unfocused by the end too was because there were a lot of characters, situations, and questions that were around within the first hour of the flick, but somehow found their own ways of leaving as soon as things start to get a little crazy. There were questions about this brother and sister on whether or not they actually had incest, and to be truly honest I think they did. However, I can’t be too sure because this film may sort of gives hints to that whole idea, I still think that there were a lot of questions about that and many other certain elements that this film brought up as well. Hey, I liked how McQueen didn’t try to spell it all out for us, but I still think he should have at least left us with a bit more answers.

Once again, Michael Fassbender owns in a role that needs him to do so. Take it for granted, he’s pretty much doing a Christian Bale impersonation right from the start but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deliver like you would expect a sex-junkie to do so. Fassbender really does let it ALL hang out and with a performance like this, it’s easy to see why he can definitely be an Oscar winner because he’s able to show so many emotions without even barely moving his face. He’s a sly dude when it comes to him getting the ladies, but when he has to show off some real emotions, Fassbender nails it and gives us a glimpse at a guy that seems trapped by his own demons which makes him ultimately vulnerable. This is a very physical and emotional performance for Fassbender, and one that I think he does a superb job in even though he probably won’t get nominated for an Oscar because it’s “too racy”. Besides he should win an Oscar just for being able to piss on camera, which is something I have never seen on film before and since I can’t even pee with somebody standing right behind me, I got to give some props to a guy that can do it in front of a whole film-crew. Carey Mulligan is also pretty good as the foul-mouthed sister of his, but when it comes to being Fassbender’s sister in this flick, you kind of get over-shadowed big-time.

Consensus: Shame ends up leaving more questions unanswered than we would have liked but the vision of Steve McQueen and the unrelenting performance from Fassbender, makes this flick a dark and dreary story that gets crazier and disturbing as it goes on, but with a lot more emotion still left in-tact.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Rescue Dawn (2006)

If only George of the Jungle was here to save THE BATMAN!!

Renowned director Werner Herzog’s inspiring drama recounts the heroic saga of Dieter Dengler, a German-American fighter pilot and highly decorated Vietnam veteran whose reconnaissance plane was shot down in 1966. Captured by enemy forces and held in a Laotian torture camp near the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Dengler (portrayed by Christian Bale) defied death by organizing one of the most daring escapes in the Vietnam conflict.

I know how much everybody loves director Werner Herzog but I just haven’t ever really checked out any of his stuff before now. To say the least, he isn’t as great as everybody says he is but he’s still good.

Herzog knows how to make a very grueling and brutal story like this almost seem beautiful in his own poetic way. There’s a great deal of suspense here as a scene goes on, with the camera just slowly right behind the characters as the suspense gets larger and larger. I also liked how Herzog didn’t make this film about being a proud member of the U.S. army, and make it more about one man’s eternal struggle to survive and adapt to the environment that surrounds him.

My problem with this film was that nothing here really interested me other than the fact that this was a true story. A true story that I knew exactly how it was going to all pan out in the end. A large majority of the film felt like everything was a routine and didn’t have a natural feel and even though the suspense worked incredibly well at certain points, overall to me, this just felt like something I’ve seen before and didn’t have much of an effect on me as much as the film wanted it to.

Another problem with this film was the fact that all of the captors here just seemed like total idiots and goof-balls just for the sake so that we didn’t even get to know these bad guys one bit. The ringleader has hair down to his shoulders and glasses that look like they would be better used on Ray Charles’ face; another henchmen uses karate on the air randomly for no reason; and the most random of all, a grinning dwarf that seems totally oblivious to everything around him and is just put in the film because Herzog for some odd reason has a love for dwarfs.

Christian Bale here as Dieter Dengler is what really makes this film work and kept me watching the whole time. Bale does his trademark physical transformation that he has used many and many times before but the real power of his performance lies within his emotional transformation that feels so gripping. Bale just seems like a total mad-man when he is forced to adapt to his primal instincts and uses that rough and raw edge to his character that we all have seen before, but works so well right here.

Steve Zahn is also great in this role as Duane Martin. Zahn is always funny and great to watch in little comedic supporting roles but here he is so much more believable and still gives off that extreme likability we all know and love him for. The bond he and Bale create almost seems like a marriage, but that just adds so much more energy to this film. I mean somebody has to give this guy his own film soon! Jeremy Davies does that sort of annoying talk “really strangely act” he always does in everything, but he’s alright here as a Charles Manson look-alike.

Consensus: There is a lot to be on the edge of your seat about in Rescue Dawn but for some reason I just didn’t feel that connected to what was going on, most of it felt generic, and overall, Herzog doesn’t do anything really new that I haven’t seen before. However, the performances from Bale, Davies, and Zahn are what really make this a better film to watch.

6/10=Rental!!

American Psycho (2000)

The 80s… those were the days. Plastic pop, designer drugs, pretension, fake wealth, bad hair. What a decade.

With a chiseled chin and an iron physique, Patrick Bateman’s looks make him the ideal yuppie — and the ideal serial killer. That’s the joke behind American Psycho, which follows a killer at large during the 1980s junk-bond boom. Bateman (Christian Bale) takes pathological pride in everything from his business card to his Huey Lewis CD collection, all the while plotting his next victim’s vivisection.

Taking a first glance at this film, you would think that it’s a horror film. However, it’s more of satire about all things that weren’t ever cool in the 80’s.

I have not read the book that this film is based off of and to say the least, I really do wish I did, even though this provides a lot of depth for a story and detail for a story about a yuppie who just goes around killing people. But I may have to tell you that it’s more about just the killings, it’s about the person behind the killings.

Director and co-writer Mary Harron puts a new spin on the horror genre and brings a lot of satire here that actually had me laughing. You see all these Wall Street dudes who are so full of themselves, and have so much greed that you just think these are the sickest and most cliche bastards ever, but that’s the whole joke. As Bateman continues with killing these people left-and-right, you may actually find yourself laughing because of the way all of these killings are portrayed, but then you soon realize, he’s laughing with you too.

The film also brings out a lot of great questions about what’s more violent; the fantasies we have in our head about certain amounts of violence, or the actual violence we see in day-to-day life. Bateman has no real reason or inspiration for these killings, and this whole film is not the portrait of an actual serial-killer.

This is more the portrait of a personality and that there are many people out there like this over-achiever, narcissistic, egotistical, and self-centered Patrick Bateman guy here who do whatever they can to satisfy their own needs, and forget everyone else’s. I also liked the fact that you never rarely see any of the killings except for some, and it’s all left to your imagination really and aside all of the chainsaw’s and axes that there’s more of an edge and smarter side to all of these killings because they all have reason.

My problem that I had with this film was actually this random sequence that went on for about 10 minutes and to me just felt totally bogus and not like the whole film at all. There’s a lot of action that goes down, and without giving too much away, just feels like a total fantasy in the end and made no real sense as to why it had to be involved.

Another problem I had which kind of had me confused, was how all of the female characters in this film are practically almost half-human and fall for any type of dumb gag, and it’s funny because you would think that with a film directed and written by a lady, there would be so much more to these lady characters. But for some reason they just seemed stale and very dumb.

Christian Bale really has made himself a house-hold name in Hollywood today, but people almost forget that his role as Patrick Bateman is the real reason. This character is the biggest douche-bag in the whole entire world and walks around like he’s hot shit just hoping that others notice how much his amazing suit cost, and how he just got in so much shape. Bale plays all of this narcissistic act very well in a compelling performance that had me loving this charming, and almost every-day serial killer. Bale really has made a name for himself in today’s world of Hollywood, but if you ask me, this is where people really started to notice.

The rest of the cast is alright even though they don’t really do much compared to Bale. Names such as Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Justin Theroux, and a sweet little performance from Chloe Sevigny. A good cast, but then again, they aren’t really given anything good in the first place.

Consensus: Though parts of it may not work as well as others, American Psycho is a great blend of horror and comedy, that makes the scares into satire, and features an amazing, star-making performance from Christian Bale.

8/10=Matinee!!

Oscar Predictions and Thoughts for 2011

So as everyone among the film community know, it is Oscar time babyyyyy!!! So that means get ready for some of the biggest upsets, wins, and probably tearful moments of the year. It was a great year in the film, and this is what has all come down to it people. The big night, and here are my predictions, I hope I do well.

Best Animated Feature: Will Win: Toy Story 3 Should Win: Toy Story 3 Wild Card: How To Train Your Dragon

Best Documentary Feature: Will Win: Restrepo Should Win: Restrepo Wild Card: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Best Foreign Language Film: Will Win: In a Better World Should Win: Dogtooth Wild Card: Biutiful

Best Documentary Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short: Will Win: Can’t say I care too much

Best Editing: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Black Swan

Best Cinematography: Will Win: True Grit Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Visual Effects: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Alice in Wonderland

Best Sound Editing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Unstoppable

Best Sound Mixing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Social Network

Best Art Direction: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Costume Design: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Alice in Wonderland Wild Card: True Grit

Best Makeup: Will Win: The Wolfman Should Win: The Way Back

Best Original Score: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Inception

Best Original Song: Will Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Should Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Wild Card: I See The Light (Tangled)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: 127 Hours

Best Original Screenplay: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Will Win: Hailee Steinfeld Should Win: Melissa Leo Wild Card: Amy Adams

Best Supporting Actor: Will Win: Christian Bale Should Win: Christian Bale Wild Card: Geoffrey Rush

Best Actor: Will Win: Colin Firth Should Win: Jesse Eisenberg Wild Card: James Franco

Best Actress: Will Win: Natalie Portman Should Win: Natalie Portman Wild Card: Annette Bening

Best Director: Will Win: David Fincher Should Win: David Fincher Wild Card: Tom Hooper

Best Picture: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Toy Story 3

I must say that this is a pretty solid year for the Oscar’s this year. All the nominees look just about right the only problem is how will the picks turn out? This year, everything seems like it’s coming down to Old School (The King’s Speech) vs. New School (The Social Network). The past couple of years The Academy (I hate that word) has been looking more towards hip, new films to win it’s Oscar Best Picture. Films such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, and American Beauty have all been unconventional new films that have seen their taste of Best Picture gold. But there has also been countless period piece wins for films such as Gladiator, Shakespeare In Love, and The English Patient. Also, many other major award shows have already presented the Best Picture win to The King’s Speech which is really chasing up people’s noses, as many other award shows have been choosing The Social Network as theirs. In my opinion, I liked Inception more than both of them, and yeah it’s nominated, but in all honesty it has no chance of winning. When it comes down to it I think that The Social Network should win, because it is an age-defining film, that went from being known as “The Facebook Movie” to being known as the top contender for every Oscar it’s nominated for. I hope that The Academy goes for the new school, because if they had The King’s Speech win, everyone would feel robbed really.

As for Best Actor, I think that Firth deserves to win for all his years dedicate to films, but Eisenberg fully deserves it. I think what the Academy is doing more and more now, is honoring actors & actresses not for just a certain performance they had, but their careers and saying that it’s their time. I don’t mind seeing stars like Jeff Bridges, Kate Winslet, or Colin Firth win an Oscar, because of the career they have but I’d rather see the “best performance of the year award” go to the BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.

When it comes to the Best Actress category, it seems like Natalie Portman is the sole winner for here, as she has won almost every single Best Actress nomination at every award show. However, there is once again that little idea that it’s Annette Bening’s “time” to win, as she has been nominated twice, and still has not won yet even though her career has been going on for so long. I want Portman to win, and most likely she will, but I still have a feeling that The Academy may pull something out of their pockets and surprise us all with a Bening win.

I’m very disappointed that my main man Christopher Nolan was not nominated for Best Director this year. He was snubbed for The Dark Knight, and now he’s being snubbed again, and it just pisses me off knowing that certain directors that do such a good job with daring material, don’t get the credit they deserve. I think if Nolan was nominated, he should have won, but I know it’s The Oscars, and not everything works out the right way.

This year had great films, and I’m glad to see that the Oscars have turned out to be this way. I loved 2010 as a year, and the films made it awesome. Here’s to 2011, and let’s just hope that the Oscars are awesome.

Thanks everybody for always reading, and keep on checking!!

The Fighter (2010)

Just shows you that crack is not always whack. I mean just look at Christian Bale. The guys freakin’ Batman.

Mark Wahlberg stars as boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and Christian Bale as half brother and trainer Dicky Eklund in this inspiring drama based on the fighter‘s rise from working-class Lowell, Mass., to world-class welterweight champ. After a string of defeats, Mickey rediscovers his fighting will with help from Dicky — a once-talented pugilist battling drug addiction.

There hasn’t been a very good boxing movie lately. Now that other “sports” like UFC, MMA, hell even Professional wresting for that matter have taken over mainstream, people have sort of forgotten about boxing. Especially in the film world, but thanks to this, it makes me want more of them.

Director David O. Russell is known for being a huge dick off-screen, and hasn’t really done much else that people know, but because of this film, I think he has finally broken into the mainstream. And it’s with all good reason, he does an amazing job at making this one of the most entertaining pieces of the year. It’s more of a character study than it actually is a boxing film, but it still delivers on plenty of fun, family escapades for us to watch. Also, it was really neat to see the match sequences to be filmed in the digital style that HBO used to use back in the day, and it really did make it all look legit, and not just another boxing film fight sequence.

The screenplay works really well too providing us with a lot more comedy than I expected.  There is also a lot of themes that touch on the element of family, which play out so well. You laugh, you cry, but most of all, you love your family, and in the end they always have the best intentions. This film the way it is written, and the way it all plays out, just seems so real. Although you know how this story is going to turn out, you still cannot stop watching, and getting attached to these characters. Everything just seemed very real, and there are barely any moments that feel like they were just put on for the big-screen.

The one main problem I had with this film is that I think it could have gone longer. I know that’s a weird complaint, because many people will probably complain about how it is almost too long, but for me I wanted more somehow. That sounds greedy, and spoiled, but the ending didn’t fully satisfy me to the point of where I was just jumping for joy. This is a weird complaint, I know that, but I just wanted a longer run time.

The main reason to see this is it’s amazing cast. Mark Wahlberg does the straight-man act that he does in a lot of films, but hey it’s not so bad. He is an easy guy to like, and you can tell his frustration with his family, and boxing career. This gives us more of a reason to rally behind him, and keep on watching, which is what all boxing movies need. Amy Adams really steps out of her “goody goody two shoes” light, and gets dirty, bad, and sassy. I loved her performance, and her quick delivery with every line is not only believable, but its also funny, and we actually as fans want to go out with her. Let’s not also forget Melissa Leo who is just perfect as the asshole Mom, who just can’t handle being a nobody. Her performance I loved. But………

The real show is right next to Marky Mark on that poster up above. I have always liked Christian Bale, when people give him shit for his douche bag ways off the screen, and cocky attitude, I have always appreciated almost everything he does. And now all that love that I have given him finally pays off, as I have just seen his best performance, and probably one of the best performances of the year. I loved this performance so freakin’ much. Bale is silly, sad, gritty, crazy, fearless, skinny as a toothpick, but also likable as your any other average Joe. You believe all the little tics, and weird things he says and does, and he commands your attention, and well you gotta give it to him. His character, Dickie Eklund, just couldn’t give up the limelight, and with this performance neither can Bale, cause he steals it. Every scene he is in, he just commands almost every time, and I sure as hell hope he gets an Oscar, cause he is just one of the biggest and best joys to watch on screen.

Consensus: The Fighter may be a story you have seen before, but the inspired direction, and amazing ensemble performances from this cast, make this treat, a fun-filled, entertaining boxing movie, that made us realize we missed this genre too much.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!