Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Colin Farrell

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)

Don’t let the system get you down. Even though it eventually will.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Denzel Washington) is a defense attorney living in Los Angeles who, despite his pure and inner-genius, doesn’t really know how to deal with other people. It’s why his mentor, for the most part, handles the clients and all that jazz, whereas Roman handles all of the paperwork, the stats, and so on and so forth. It’s what’s made them both successful over the years, while also allowing them to stay true to themselves as strong-willed, independent, and powerful black men trying to prove injustice within the system. However, that all changes when Roman’s mentor dies, the firm is sold, and Roman is left without a job. That is, until corporate lawyer, George Pierce (Colin Farrell) shows up, likes what he sees in Roman, and decides that he wants him there for his firm, but obviously doing what he did before: Handling paper-work, stats, and all that jazz. It’s what Roman does best and because he’s at a much better firm, he’s making a lot more money, which also means that there’s a lot more temptation to do the wrong thing and get swept up in all of the fame, fortune, success, and most of all, corruption.

“So uh, nice weather we’re having. I think? I guess? I don’t know.”

Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a few different movies rolled into one and jammed in altogether, they don’t really work. One is a character-study about a guy, who is essentially “on the spectrum”, trying to get by in a world that doesn’t know what to make of him. Another is a formulaic, crime-thriller about a lawyer and his shady-dealings. And lastly, the other is about an older black man, trying to stay true to himself and the cause, even while it seems like the world around him could care less about him or what he’s fighting for.

Through all of the mess, however, Washington remains a shining glimmer of hope. Not only does Washington take this role on, head first, but he makes Israel’s constant quirks and trademarks, interesting. We get the feeling that this man’s had an issue with people all of his life, but when it started, why he’s still like that, and what he does on any normal day, is very interesting to watch. We get a sense that Israel’s a very sad man who wants to do what is right, but at the same time, can’t really make sense of how dark and evil the world can truly get. He’s almost like a child; loud, a little bratty, rude, and despite dealing with some awful crimes, from even more awful people, a little naive about how awful the world is.

White man employing a sad, somewhat mentally-disturbed black man, all for the sake of profit. Anyone see a problem with this? Gilroy?

It’s a terrific performance that is, unfortunately, trapped in a movie that, like Israel himself, doesn’t always know what to make of itself.

That said, writer/director Dan Gilroy knows how to make this material, for the most part, work. You can tell that Gilroy wants to go deep into the mean and dirty corruption of the justice-system, but also wants to discuss race-relations, how a certain SJW can also lose themselves to a system that sucks them all up and spits them back out, while also not forgetting about Israel himself. The movie, for lack of a better word, isn’t dull; Gilroy keeps things moving and compelling, even when he himself seems to be spiraling a tad out of control. Had the movie featured one or two dull subplots, then yeah, it would have been a problem, but they all do remain worth watching and paying attention to it.

It’s just that, once again, in the context of the rest of the movie, it just doesn’t fully come together. Washington, Farrell, and Carmen Ejogo, all remain great and help the material jump off of the screen, but Gilroy also gets a bit carried away, going down different avenues for his story, then back-peddling to his original story, when it’s almost too late. It reminds me of that episode of Community when Abed was looking for a B-story to fulfill the whole episode, but rather than finding one, the A-story just continued and was interesting enough, therefore, making the B-story, inessential. That’s how Israel feels: It’s in search of more stories, more plots, and more conflicts, when really, one is enough.

One is all it needed.

Consensus: With all the different strands of plot going on, Roman J. Israel, Esq. can’t help but feel jumbled and stuffed, but also gets by on being a compelling look at the justice-system, as well as an interesting character-study on its titled-character, played to perfection by a charming Washington.

6.5 / 10

Denzel, preparing for all those damn awards-speeches.

Photos Courtesy of: Sony Pictures

Advertisements

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

All family’s are screwed-up.

Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon living in Cincinatti and not having to worry about too much. He loves his wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman), and their two children, Bob (Sunny Suljic) and Kim (Raffey Cassidy). Both of whom are getting a little bit older so they are starting to show some signs of rebellion, but nothing too much. When he isn’t performing surgeries, however, Dr. Murphy normally spends his time with Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor’s life in many ways. At first, it’s just casual hang-outs that no one feels weird about, but then, it begins to change and Steven has to soon try and cut the chord between him and Martin. However, this decision results in some awful things happening to his family and it’s now up to him, to not just make a choice, but think of the rest of his life, in retrospect.

Ascent into darkness. That works, right?

The Killing of a Sacred Deer proves, once again, that when it comes to building and creating worlds/universes full of our weirdest imaginations, co-writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos really can’t be stopped. Mostly all of his movies, while obviously taking place on planet Earth, all seem to live in these sort of odd realities, where people act, speak, and get by in randomly weird ways. Whereas the Lobster was literally about a whole world being changed, the Killing of a Sacred Deer still takes place in our day-to-day world, where single people aren’t being turned into animals, but instead, people say and do weird stuff.

And unlike the Lobster, the Killing of a Sacred Deer is a pretty downtrodden and dark movie. Whereas the former was much more comical in its darker-efforts, the later is an out-and-out horror flick that feels a little smarter and interesting than that genre usually represents. Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou don’t really seem to be making fun of anyone, or any one thing in particular, but instead, showing us how humans act, when their backs are up against the wall and have to think quickly, and in ways, correctly.

As you can tell, I’m being very cagey about what this film’s actually about and what it’s premise eventually turns into, but that’s for a good reason: It’s best to see this wide eyes and ears.

But that’s also one of the main issues that seems to be holding the Killing of a Sacred Deer back: That it’s almost too much plot. After the first hour or so, once Lanthimos has built-up his characters, the conflicts, and the world in which they live, he sort of just sits there and lets it all play-out, rather than just going from one plot-point, to another. In a way, the Killing of a Sacred Deer ultimately comes down to being about one situation, but stretched-out to a whole hour and you can start to feel it; it’s still compelling and interesting to see just where it all goes, but mostly, it also feels like it’s just another case of Lanthimos loving his creation too much, he never wants to leave it.

Instead, he lets it settle, which can sometimes make the movie feel like a slog, especially when it shouldn’t.

But still, Lanthimos gets by on never letting loose of the tension that it’s in the air and because of that, the movie is always worth watching. You never quite have an idea of where it’s going to go, how dark it’s going to get, or even who’s going to be alive by the end of it, and that makes Lanthimos one of the far more dangerous directors out there. It’s something that we don’t too often see in modern-day cinema and it’s why it’s nice to see Lanthimos get some mainstream exposure, so that he can continue on his awfully deprived and sickening ways.

How envious I am of that perfectly bushy beard.

It’s also nice to see Lanthimos play with the big-leagues because he also gets the chance to work with an incredibly talented ensemble. Colin Farrell, returning for another outing with Lanthimos, works very well as the tight, straight-laced everyday man, Dr. Murphy. Farrell’s Irish, in case you didn’t know, but he’s always had to hide it in American-accents – but as Dr. Murphy, he’s Irish full-and-through and it’s kind of jarring. But hey, it also kind of works. We’re never explained too much about his backstory, or why an Irish doctor is over in the states, with a wife, kids, nice house, and seemingly never lost his accent, but that sort of stuff doesn’t matter because when it comes to playing slow-burning nuts, Farrell’s one of the best. He’s so devoid of any personality, that it’s almost funny and it’s why Farrell works so well here.

Same goes for Nicole Kidman who, once again, seems to be playing another suburban mommy with darker-edges surrounding her. But really, it’s Barry Keoghan as Martin who steals the show, seeming as if he’s just another sweet, rather innocent kid, who may also be something of an evil, despicable psychopath. There’s always questions surrounding him and his relationship to this family, which also works in favor of Martin who never seems to tell us exactly what’s on his mind, or what his next bit of action is going to be, but man, it’s so hard to look away from him.

Sort of like all teens out there, am I right?

Consensus: Less comedic than Lanthimos’ previous-ventures, the Killing of a Sacred Deer is also a tense, upsetting, and incredibly well-acted look at family-life and the decisions we all have to make. I think.

8 / 10

Just make-out already and be hot! Please! We need it here the most!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Beguiled (2017)

Racism wasn’t the only thing fought in the Civil War, it seems.

Out somewhere in the deep South, during the Civil War, lies a school for girls where, for the most part, the word of the gospel is spoken about. Managed by Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman), the girls all stick together, depending on each other to not just get by in a rough time like this, but remember that at the end of this dreadful war, there will be a life to continue on living. But being tucked away from the rest of the world and society, even during a time like this, can be awfully dangerous. And it all comes to head when an injured soldier by the name of John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is found by the girls and eventually, taken in. He has an injured leg and rather than going right back out there into the battlefield, the ladies all decide to help him out, feeding him, bathing him, clothing him, and yes, allowing him to eventually heal up to near-perfection, so that he can be back on fighting the good fight. But McBurney’s got a little something more on his mind and considering that there’s about five or six women, all alone, in a house with him, he decides to take total advantage of the situation at hand.

Someone better pass her the damn salt, already!

So yeah, I bet you see what I did there. If not, I took the same plot-synposis I put for the review of the original Beguiled, here, and just took out some of the old names, and put in the new ones. Does it make a lick of a difference? Nope, not really, and that’s sort of the point.

In a sense, the Beguiled is kind of an unnecessary remake; it’s not as if the original needed much of a re-working, or update, nor was it like the world was clamoring to hear this story of sexual-politics play-out all over again, but this time, with different people involved. It’s odd, actually, because these kinds of remakes are the ones that folks like myself rag and tag on Hollywood for constantly making; the kind of remakes where it doesn’t seem like anyone should care about why it exists, or better yet, what it means for the rest of the world of film. But yeah, at the same time, I sort of don’t care because the Beguiled, as a remake and sort of update, it works.

Granted, it’s still unnecessary and only a slight bit better than the original, so take it all with a grain of salt.

But that said, writer/director Sofia Coppola does a solid job of down-playing everything this time around. Whereas with the original, everything was literally spelled-out to us in an narration, Coppola takes the smart move in allowing for the actors to tell us what to think, feel, and understand. Coppola hasn’t always made the best movies around, but she sure as hell knows how to handle actors and when it comes to getting a dirty, deep, and rather scary story off the ground, she’s effective; she keeps things just subtle enough to the point of where we don’t really know what’s next to expect, even if, yeah, we already saw the original.

So Irish. So charming. So dangerous.

And even all that aside, the Beguiled is still a solid, little thriller. It’s not the kind of movie that will win awards or break box-office records (then again, would it even want to?), but it provides a nice bit of steamy, sweaty, and gritty entertainment for 90 or so minutes, with some of the best actors in the biz, and Coppola showing a sure hand, once again, at directing. Also, it’s just nice to see Coppola trying something new and not trying to discuss the sadness and disparity in the lives of celebrities – a theme that, yeah, we already knew and understood over a decade ago with Lost in Translation.

But yeah, everyone here is good.

It’s hard to compare the performances of the original, to those of this remake, because like the movies themselves, they’re still pretty different in their small, subtle ways. For instance, Nicole Kidman’s Martha Farnsworth, while still commandeering and stern like Geraldine Page’s from the original, also has a darker side to her that’s only somewhat hinted at in the first. Same goes with Farrell’s McBurney who, despite not quite reaching the same heights Eastwood did in the original, still shows that there’s possibly a meaner, uglier side to this man and all of his charms. It’s actually an interesting performance that, quite frankly, I wish was given more of an opportunity to flesh itself out more and more. At the same time, though, less time for Farrell, meant more time for actual women on the screen like Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, and Addison Riecke, so yeah, it’s a little hard to complain.

I guess I should just be pretty thankful we have a movie, for once, with a big-budget, where women take over the solid majority of the cast. Let’s hope it’s a sign of more things to come, that honestly, should have already been coming already, dammit!

Ugh. Hollywood.

Consensus: Darker, meaner and way more subtle, this remake of the Beguiled improves slightly on the original, but also offers a great cast and solid return-to-form for Sofia Coppola.

7.5 / 10

Everyone’s waiting, John. So hurry your ass up.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

It’s like Tinder, or Grindr, but for ugly-looking creatures.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York by boat, carrying a suitcase with him. Why? What’s in the suitcase? And why does the year have to be, specifically enough, 1926? Well, it turns out that he has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. He’s arrived in New York just for a brief stopover that, he assumes, would go down without a hitch. However, his suitcase randomly opens up and a mysterious, platypus-looking creature named Jacob runs out of it, leaving Newt to have to search the city, far and wide, for this creature and get him back in safely his suitcase, so that he can continue on with his adventure. However, his stay in New York becomes far more difficult once he meets a factory worker aspiring to be a baker (Dan Fogler), and an odd woman named Tina (Katherine Waterston), who also turns out to be a member of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). Meanwhile, a deadly, terrifying force is taking over the area, destroying all sorts of buildings and killing people. No one knows where it’s coming from, or from whom, but Newt has an idea and will stop at nothing to make sure that no more people are hurt.

"Come with me, Newt! We've got to show that hack David Blaine what real magic's all about!"

“Come with me, Newt! We’ve got to show that hack David Blaine what real magic’s all about!”

Coming from a person who, as much as I hate to say it, doesn’t quite love the Harry Potter franchise, it’s surprising how much Fantastic Beasts can be at times. Director David Yates who directed the last four Potter movies, shows up here and brings the same kind of fun, lively and exciting bit of whimsy that he brought to those movies, but while the installments he worked with were far more darker and scarier, this time around, he gets to play everything down a bit.

I would mention the same way he did with the Legend of Tarzan earlier this year, but I think we all know that’s not true.

Anyway, the best part about Fantastic Beasts is that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, or get too bogged down in the actual plot itself; due to this being an actual franchise-in-the-making, it would have been very easy for the movie to just set up a whole bunch of stuff and just sort of leave it all up in the air, knowing that we’ll still come back anyway. Instead, the movie’s more concerned with giving us the chance to know these characters, this setting and just what this wonderful, slightly more grown-up world of fantasy and wizardry has to offer. There’s a whole heck of a lot more scarier beasts this time around, period-details about the good old days of the roarin’ 20’s that only older people would really appreciate, let alone, get, and even the humor itself, while obviously silly at times, also feels like it’s aiming for a smarter, more adult crowd than the Potter movies.

Bad buzz-cuts automatically mean "villain".

Bad buzz-cuts automatically mean “villain”.

Not to say that there’s anything wrong with those movies or the people who like them, it’s just that, for awhile at least, they were movies specifically created for kids. Times have changed and for Yates, it seems like he understands that the better aspects of Fantastic Beasts are actually getting us involved with this world and all of the colorful, surprisingly wacky characters and creatures that inhabit it. While characters like Newt and Queenie are meant to seem off-kilter, even the human characters, like Tina, or Jacob Kowalski, still seem placed into this bright, shiny and sometimes weird world where magic does exist and for the most part, takes priority over all else. It reminds me of what the early Potter movies set out to be, all before they got obsessed with their own sense of sadness, dread and darkness.

That said, Fantastic Beasts still runs into its problems.

For one, it’s story doesn’t quite work. While in the first half or so, Yates doesn’t get too bogged down by what’s going on, who’s to blame for it all, and how it all can be stopped (magic, right?), eventually, he changes his tune and in the second-to-last-half, decides that maybe it’s time to actually give us a full-blown story that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, nor really matter. The best times of Fantastic Beasts are whenever we’re sitting there, watching as these characters run all throughout NYC, chasing creatures, tripping over themselves, and hitting constant obstacles, as if they were outtakes from the Looney Tunes, but whenever we focus in on the actual so-called “villains” of the tale, it never quite registers.

Most of that has to do with the story itself being so incredibly dark and disturbing, making Fantastic Beasts feel a tad bit off. Without saying too much, the subplot involving the so-called “baddies”, ends up coming down to child abuse and depression, which, in a movie where the first hour is dedicated to a bunch of characters chasing around what is, essentially, a platypus who can stick all sorts of items inside of him (please, don’t ask), is odd. It also doesn’t help that incredibly talented actors like Colin Farrel, Ezra Miller and Samantha Morton, are all left to work with some lame material that seems like it wants to be more sinister than it actually is. Even though the evil creature actually turns out to be quite scary and loud, there’s almost no rhyme or reason behind it all; we get the sense that maybe this character’s strict religious beliefs have something to do with it, but maybe not. Either way, it doesn’t quite work and only gets in the way of making Fantastic Beasts as bright and as shiny of a spectacle as it so clearly wants to be.

Consensus: Even with an overly complicated plot that seems to promise darker times to come in future installments, Fantastic Beasts can still be a very fun, charming and lovely little spin-off the obviously more famous Potter franchise.

6.5 / 10

You're Newt, Eddie! You're not Stephen Hawking anymore! So stop with that quivering lip!

You’re Newt, Eddie! Not Stephen Hawking! So stop with that quivering lip!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz, The Movie My Life

Alexander (2004)

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

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

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

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

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

Not really.

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

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

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

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

Their family is better than yours.

Their family is better than yours.

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

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

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

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

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

6 / 10

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

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

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

The Lobster (2016)

Crustacean, or everlasting love? Trust me, not as easy as you’d think.

After being dumped by his wife, David (Colin Farrell) has to find a mate in 45 days, or else he’ll be turned into an animal of his choosing. And to help him find the best possible mate, he gets taken to a fancy resort of sorts where he meets and hangs around with fellow other single people, all looking for that special someone before they too, turn into animals and roam their Earth as they so please. While there’s a few people David sets his sights on, eventually, he turns to the neurotic, but awfully fun woman (Rachel Weisz) who doesn’t really have a name, and no other discernible features, other than that she’s near-sighted, just as he is. The two eventually fall for one another and start to sense something real and passionate between one another, but there’s a bit of a problem. See, because they exist in this world where they have to prove their love to the rest of the world, they constantly have to battle with the conglomerates around them, that can either range from evil, controlling hotel managers, to evil, controlling rebellion leaders.

Take your pick, ladies.

Take your pick, ladies.

Though I saw it nearly three weeks ago, I can’t seem to get the Lobster out of my head. It’s the same feeling I had with co-writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos’ last movie (Dogtooth), but for different reasons. With that movie, I couldn’t get out of my head the fact that I was so disturbed and surprised by it, that even a thought of its twists and turns, just absolutely shook me to my core. The more and more that I begin to think about that movie, the more I’m quite confused about whether I liked it (which I think I did), or I loved it for its brash boldness (which I think it was).

With the Lobster, I have the same thoughts running through my head, where I don’t know if I love the movie (which I come very close to doing), or if I just think it’s a tad better and more focused than Dogtooth (I don’t know).

If anything though, it should be noted that the Lobster is unlike any other movie you’ll see this year, for better, as well as possibly for worse, depending on who you are. The Lobster is a very odd hybrid of a movie that’s a combination of sci-fi, comedy, drama, romance, action, and murder, all of which come into play throughout the movie in some very effective doses and it’s hard not to get interested by each and every step that Lanthimos takes with it. On the surface, the Lobster likes to poke jokes at this world, the people in it and how it would never, ever happen, but at the same time, Lanthimos himself takes it quite seriously to where we actually get a feeling for the world we’re thrown into and constantly learn more and more things about it as it goes along.

There’s an small bit of detail concerning why there are so many animals walking around in shots in the movie and once it’s revealed to us why this is the case (in an incredibly subtle way, mind you), it not only takes on a whole new life as something tragic, but downright tearful. Lanthimos makes to show his characters for being the absolute worst that they can be when it comes to obtaining love and/or using it as a way to live another day as a human, but at his very core, he’s still a human being that also wants to appreciate these people for what they are, and the fact that they all have hearts, feelings and emotions, just like you or I. Even the whole angle of how everyone seems to fall in love with one another through superficial ways is, yes, played-up for laughs, but sooner than later, starts to get far more serious and telling, as people actually start to react to love in different, sometimes horrifying ways.

Of course, Lanthimos plays mostly all of this dark material up for laughs and you know what? I laughed.

I hated myself for it, but there’s something just so darkly sinister about all of this material, that it’s almost a joke how far and willing Lanthimos is to let this material get as pitch black as it can be, while still maintaining some sort of humor in the process. Sure, everything and everyone here is so screwed-up and disturbing, but hey, sometimes that can be a little fun; Lanthimos, like I said before, takes this material seriously, but also enjoys trying to poke holes in it, as if he was so in love with his creation, that he also wanted to destroy it so he didn’t seem like too much of a pretentious crap.

Basically how anyone eats on a first date.

Basically how anyone eats on a first date.

And I got to give it to Lanthimos for assembling a solid cast here, all of whom probably read this script and had no idea what the hell to expect, but we’re still so interested that they probably thought, “Hey, it’s an experience, right?” Colin Farrell is hilarious to look at as David, the chubby, pathetic protagonist we come to know, love and sympathize with, even when it seems like he enjoys doing terrible things; John C. Reilly shows up as a very sad man with a lisp who has barely any chance of finding his true love, but because he’s John C. Reilly, it’s hard not to hope and wish for the best; Ben Whishaw plays an overly aggressive man with a limp who will do anything to find true love and I do mean anything; Olivia Colman plays the seemingly fake hotel manager who orders so many people to fall in love, that you wonder if she actually is herself; Léa Seydoux plays a leader of the rebellious group who stays in the woods called “the Loners” and is as steely and as mysterious as they come; and yes, there’s Rachel Weisz, stealing the show as Short Sighted Woman (and no, I’m not making that up).

Weisz is great in just about anything, but here, she really delivers. For one, she’s playing a character that we’re never too sure about, but makes it appear as if she does have some semblance of humanity, that once her and David do start to connect and come together, in awfully hilarious ways, it is, believe it or not, quite romantic. The two do have chemistry and even though they’re placed in some obviously awkward situations, they both make it work and have us believe that true love in this world does exist, even if it all seems to make everyone go mad and do terribly evil things to one another.

But hey, maybe that’s how Lanthimos pictures love as: It makes people go insane and act out in ways that they’d never have done so before.

Still though, despite all of my clear love and adoration for this flick, there’s a part of me that wants to be angry at Lanthimos for not allowing for the Lobster to go any further than it could have.

In the last-act, the movie becomes very plot-heavy and starts to feel as if it’s really building up to something big, but then, well, sort of ends. Lanthimos does this quite a couple of times throughout, where it feels like he’s going somewhere with a certain idea, or plot-thread, but then, all of a sudden, backs away from it; I don’t know if he’s doing that on purpose to toy with us, or if he just gets bored easily, but its noticeable and can get a tad annoying. However, the way the movie end, while interesting, definitely leaves a lot up in the air and really, I don’t know if it needed to be. The movie was never really about a mystery – it was more about whether or not true love could exist in this world where it seems all so calculated and made-up from the very beginning.

Whether or not Lanthimos knew or thought that, is totally up in the air.

Consensus: For what it’s worth, the Lobster is unlike anything you’ll see all year, with a heartbreaking and hilarious script that doesn’t always deliver like it should, but in the off-chance that it does, it’s extremely effective.

8.5 / 10

It's like True Dective season 2, except holy cow, so much better.

It’s like True Detective season 2, except holy cow, so much better.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Pride and Glory (2008)

Keep it in the family. Even corruptness.

After a bunch of his fellow cops are shot dead in what was supposed to be a drug-ring raid, Ray Tierney (Edward Norton) returns to the detective field to figure out just who killed these cops and just exactly how it all happened. And because his daddy (Jon Voight), his brother Francis (Noah Emmerich), and brother-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell), are all apart of the force as well, it should make absolute sense that he should have no problems getting the right kind of answers he so desperately seeks. However, what Ray begins to find out, though, is that the details surrounding the killer and what happened are a bit shady. For one, nobody can find the supposed-shooter, and to make matters worse, it turns out that perhaps some brothers in blue may also be a little bit dirty. Which is expected, but there’s a possibility that these dirty cops may have been involved with the killing of the other cops, leading Ray to start questioning all of the cops around him, including his family. Obviously, they’re all appalled and shocked by Ray’s findings and accusations, but at the same time, there’s still some truth to it, and this is when everybody involved starts getting desperate and finding a clean way out of this dirty situation.

"Please tell me! Why did you get those corn-rows?!?"

“Please tell me! Why did you get those corn-rows?!?”

If you’ve seen one cop movie, generally, you’ve seen ’em all. Hardly do they ever stray away from the norm of what we’ve all come to know and expect with a cop movie, which begs the question: Why does Hollywood keep making them? Is there really any huge sell or draw in them that makes people flock out to the theaters to check them out? Or is that Hollywood can’t get over its weird affection and interest in the brothers in blue, so they still continue to make movies about them, not offering anything new or interesting to say about them, either?

Well, whatever the answer may be, Pride and Glory doesn’t really do much to make sense of it.

Although, Pride and Glory is a different kind of cop movie; for one, it’s about dirty cops, being, well, dirty and corrupt as all hell. Given today’s political climate, you’d think that this would be a hot-button topic worthy of being touched upon and prodded at, but director Gavin O’Connor doesn’t really seem interested in diving deep into that discussion. Instead, he just sort of wants to show off his dirty cops as they were; doing stuff they shouldn’t be, pointing the fingers at others, and telling lookie-loos to “mind their own business and shut their mouth”. O’Connor may have some sort of interest in what drives a seemingly normal, everyday cop, to become a drug-dealing, money-stealing baddie, but he doesn’t quite show it.

Most of the time, O’Connor allows his movie to fly-off the rails with fine actors going a tad bit over-the-top. Gifted character actor Frank Grillo is sadly the clearest example of this as his cop character, albeit a dirty one, wants absolutely each and every person in the movie to know it. It’s almost as if any and all subtlety was lost here and O’Connor told Grillo to “just have fun”, and he really did. Problem is, all of the yelling, punching, kicking, and gun-slinging doesn’t do much to help create a character, but further highlight a type that needs to be done with.

But Grillo isn’t the only one who is dialing it way, way up.

Colin Farrell is intense, doing his best De Niro impression here, but once again, his character feels like he has no rhyme or reason for breaking bad. Sure, we get the idea that maybe greed took over and he couldn’t stop himself, but we can only assume that because we never see this character actually be a good cop – we just see him as this dirty one, who can’t be trusted with anything. There’s an unpredictable nature to Farrell that he brings onto the screen each and every chance he gets, but mostly, it just ends with him yelling or acting out in some way.

Just imagine Micky Donovan, as a cop.

Just imagine Micky Donovan, as a cop.

I mean, hell, the guy almost hot irons a baby! What the hell!

Edward Norton, thankfully, dials it down a bit more and seems to actually be more interested in diving dig into his character’s psyche. Issue is, this tends to make his character feel a bit more boring and dry than he probably should, which is an even bigger shame because he’s the lead protagonist we’re supposed to stand behind, root for and spend all of our time with. Norton has solid scenes with just about everyone around him, but when it comes to pushing the story-line along, there’s a never ending sense of normality that overtakes Norton, as well as the movie and it’s hard to get away from.

By the end though, O’Connor decides to stop sitting around and let everything and everyone, within Pride and Glory, run wild.

This means that guns are shot, people are beaten-up, noses are bloodied, faces are battered, people start shouting, and out of nowhere, which was, at one point, a slow, almost meandering drama, is now this wild-and-out, action-thriller where people can’t stop beating the hell out of one another. Is it exciting to watch? Sure. Does it feel like a whole completely different movie? Oh, most definitely and it’s an issue that seems to make Pride and Glory, yet again, just another cop movie.

Although still plenty more watchable than season two of True Detective.

That’s for sure.

 

Consensus: Despite a solid cast, Pride and Glory is drenched into too many cop movie cliches and conventions to really do much, other than just mildly entertain those looking for some entertainment.

6 / 10

"We're brudders. We ain't eva gain to brake apaart."

“We’re brudders. We ain’t eva gain to brake apaart.”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Minority Report (2002)

“Don’t trust the police; trust Scientology.” – Tom Cruise, probably.

Set in a future where technology reigns supreme and decides just about each and every person’s decisions, the police force known as “the Pre-Crime Division” arrest people before they can commit murders based on the psychic intuition of three Precognatives. Or, for short, “Pre-cogs”. And lead cop, John Anderton (Tom Cruise), has been working alongside them for quite some time, wherein they trust them, he trusts them, and everything goes as smoothly as possible; murders are stopped, people are put in jail, lives are saved, and everybody goes home a lot happier! However, when looking through the pre-cogs’ memory-bases, Anderton sees a murder committed by none other than himself. Though Anderton doesn’t believe that he’d ever kill someone, no matter for what reason, it’s company policy to take any person in for questioning, no matter who the person is, or what the stipulations may be. But Anderton feels as if he’s being set up, and rather than letting himself get taken in, questioned, and possibly incarcerated for something he hasn’t done yet, let alone, doesn’t think he’ll ever commit, he decides to go on a run from the law. Along the way, he hopes to find out the truth behind the murder and whether or not he’s being set-up to begin with, but a personal disaster from his personal life comes back to bite him and it may not only cost him his innocence, but possibly his life.

Somehow, this seems to be left-over set-material from A.I.

Somehow, this seems to be left-over set-material from A.I.

There’s always two Steven Spielberg’s working in this world that, on occasion, seem to battle against one another. There’s the serious, dramatic director who makes emotional, sometimes stories that breathe-off huge levels of importance and show that there’s a true artist within the work (see Saving Private Ryan and/or Schindler’s List). Then, on the other hand, there’s the fun, free-wheeling dude who appreciates his blockbusters and succumbs more to the mainstream, without really caring who is happy with that decision, or who isn’t (see Jurassic Park and/or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). And while I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing that he plays both hands, it also calls into question just how hit-or-miss he can be; while the blockbusters he creates can be exciting and better than most others out there, they also sometimes make it seem like he’s sleeping on those fine talents of his we so rarely see put on full-display.

And then, there’s Minority Report, which seems more like a psychological battle inside of Spielberg’s head, rather than an actual, great movie.

If there’s credit that has to be given to Spielberg, it’s in the way that he allows for this dark, brooding future shine through in some neat, fancy ways. Because this is a Philip K. Dick adaptation, obviously there’s going to be a whole bunch of social-commentary about the government, the way in which they spy, as well as technology, and how it controls our each and every lives. But Spielberg doesn’t seem all that incredibly interested with focusing on that, and instead, seems incredibly taken away with all the sorts of strange, but original pieces of technology he can give us.

For a few examples, there’s weird-looking, electronic spiders that crawl around and search for people; there’s the high-velocity mag-lev cars, that are actually a lot easier to jump out of, despite the speed they appear to be going in; there’s the eye-scanners stationed nearly everywhere that not only keep track of where each and every person is at, but bother you with advertisements; and, as small as it may be, there’s cereal-boxes with electronic-screens that move and make noises. It’s such a small, little detail, but it’s the one that keeps on giving and assures me that Spielberg was just amped-up to make this movie, as some may be to watch it. That’s the Spielberg we all know, love, and wish we saw a whole lot more of.

And that’s the same kind of Spielberg we get for the longest time in Minority Report.

If Colin Farrell takes over your command, you know you're in some deep trouble.

If Colin Farrell takes over your command, you know you’re in some deep trouble.

Considering that half of this movie is literally just Tom Cruise running away from the police in a futuristic-world, it makes sense that the movie moves at a quick-as-nails pace and continue to do until there’s time needed for smaller, more character-based moments. And this part of Minority Report is enjoyable; everything moves in such a swift pace that even though there a few plot-holes to be found (like, how does someone get back into their job’s headquarters, when they’re literally on-the-run from those said people in the headquarters?), it’s easy to forget about and forgive them because everything’s so energetic as is. It’s almost like Spielberg cared so much about the look of the movie, that he didn’t get too bogged-down in certain plot-details; as long as everything’s moving nicely, all is well.

For awhile, too, everything is well. Until it isn’t.

The next-half of Minority Report is where it seems like Spielberg starts to fall back into his own trends of diving too hard into all of the family drama, twists and turns that don’t make much sense, and a sugar-coated, happy-ending that seem to come out of nowhere. And the reason why most of this stuff seems to come out of nowhere, is because a good majority of the movie is as bleak and as scary as you’d expect a Philip K. Dick adaptation to be – which isn’t something we expect from Spielberg himself. That’s what makes it all the more disappointing to see the final-act of the movie, not just grind to a screeching halt, but also seem to forget about what makes this world so damn interesting to begin with: It’s sadness and just how far Spielberg is willing and/or able to go through with developing that more and more.

Because through the likes of Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Neal McDonough, Peter Stormare, and, well, many more, we’re able to see how such human beings get by in a world that’s so upsetting and miserable, and still be somewhat happy. Once all of that begins to wear thin, it becomes clear that we’re out of a Philip K. Dick story, and more of in one that’s Spielberg’s own creation; where everybody hugs, cries, goes on about their daddy-issues, and all sorts of other sappiness ensues. Sometimes this is fine, but it feels misplaced here.

If only this had been directed by Ridley Scott, straight after he finished up with Blade Runner.

Consensus: For a good portion, Minority Report is as fun, ambitious, exciting, and artistically-driven as Spielberg can get, but later on, it goes back to his ham-handed old ways and feels like a bit of a retreat.

7.5 / 10

It's okay to trust Tom, Samantha. A lot of women have.

It’s okay to trust Tom, Samantha. A lot of women have.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

In Bruges (2008)

Who knew Bruges was such a happenin’ place! Full of fun, murder and all!

After a job goes terribly wrong, hitmen Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) are sent away to Bruges to let the heat die down. This also allows for their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to think of their next move, so that while they’re in Bruges, not only can they enjoy the various sights, but they can wait on his call for further instructions of what to do next. In the meantime, the two hitmen go sight-seeing, although against most of Ray’s wishes; instead, he would much rather like to drink, do drugs, find some pretty ladies and have as much fun as one possibly could while vacationing in a place like Bruges. Luckily for Ray, there’s a local film crew around town filming something with a dwarf and a pretty gal (Clémence Poésy) that he automatically takes a liking to. However, the aftermath of his one job still continues to mess with his mind and threatens to ruin any possibility of being sane he may have. To make matters even worse, when the two guys eventually do get their call from the boss, it isn’t a pleasing one and may actually pit the two seemingly good friends up against one another.

But hey, that’s business, mate.

It’s a very rare occasion in which a movie that I have seen more than a handful of times, can not only just make me laugh nearly as much as I did the first time around, but can also keep me on edge as to where the story is going next. And with In Bruges, it’s an even rarer-occasion, because, generally, the film leans on its constant plot twists that take over the last-act of this movie; plot twists that I have seen many times before. So for a movie to excite me all over again, as if I was just watching it for the first time in my life, truly is a work of magic.

I think we all know she's in for a wild night ahead of her.

I think we all know she’s in for a wild night ahead of her.

Because, the fact remains, In Bruges is one of the better dark-comedies of the past decade, and not too many people know about it. Even if they should, they don’t. But while that may seem like a meaningless “idea that I think is actually a fact”, there’s something endearing about that aspect that works wonders for this movie.

For instance, the movie prides itself in being contained to this one, rather small part of Bruges; a place you didn’t think was a perfect setting for a film, but somehow, totally is. It’s a place that the movie mocks on more than one occasion, but also shows that there’s some beauty in the land these guys are vacationing at. I don’t mean in just the numerous museums or churches these two guys see, I mean in the people they meet and the things that happen to them, both good and bad. What I’m basically trying to say is that Bruges itself, becomes something of a character in a movie that’s named after it and it creates a small vortex of a world that, as they say in the movie, “Seems like you’re in a dream.”

All that philosophical shite aside (working on my Irish over here), this movie is still entertaining-as-hell no matter how many times it’s watched. You so rarely get that with any movie, but when you see as many movies as I do on a regular basis (more than any normal human being should ever have to), certain movies just fade in your mind and you lose the ability to love them all over again. However, with In Bruges, that ability isn’t anywhere to be found; in fact, I think I may love the movie even more now, then I did way back when I saw it in the early days of ’09.

Certain jokes I can catch up on quicker now, the story makes a whole lot more sense, and the performances from the trio of lead veers quite closely into being “perfect”; especially from Colin Farrell, the actor I’ve always had faith in, and here is exactly the reason why.

As Ray, Farrell is a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode and destroy everything around him. You get the sense that he’s a young, brash asshole that doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, nor knows how to act like an adult, but that’s sort of the point of the character and makes Farrell act even better than before. He’s a bit of a punk that does and says bad things throughout the majority of this movie (as hilarious as they sometimes may be), but knows that they are bad, wrong, they should not be done, and at least wants to move on from those mistakes and see if he can turn his life around.

In other words, he’s a bastard with a conscience, and every single second of watching Farrell play him is a total pleasure.

Even more of a pleasure to watch is Brendan Gleeson as the older, much more experience hitman that’s something of a father-figure to Ray, although the movie doesn’t hit us over the head with that idea. Instead, it just allows us to see Ray and Ken as two guys, who have the same job, and are mates, yet, they are in a bit of a sticky situation that can go either way. They don’t know, and they don’t necessarily care. They just want to take each day as they come and both characters express that feeling in two very different ways. For Ray, spending his day is all about getting drunk, having a shag or two with a lady, and just overall, having a grand old time. Whereas for Ken, he’s much more simpler in that he likes to read a book or two, explore the land around him a bit, and at the end of the day, go to bed while watching the tube.

They’re both opposites, yet, they are very good friends that understand each other and at least try to make sense of where the other one comes from. Watching them speak to each other about such stuff like either Belgium art, guys who sell lollipops, kung-fu, is constantly fun and entertaining, while very interesting because we see certain shades of their characters come out that we didn’t expect to ever see, all throughout their conversations. It also helps that Gleeson and Farrell have a lovely chemistry that never feels false. Not even for a single second.

Look out, Oskar!

Look out, Oskar!

And to make matters even better, we have Ralph Fiennes here as the foul-mouthed, constantly pissed-off boss of theirs that isn’t around a lot, but when he does show up, is around to only take care of business his way. We hardly ever see Fiennes do a performance as nasty or as eccentric as this, which is what exactly makes it such a pleasant, if totally unexpected surprise. But what Fiennes is able to find in this character is some ounce of humanity that makes him more than just a dirty, cold-blooded killer; the dude has a code/conscience, and all he’s doing is following through with it. He’s a mean old son-of-a-bitch, but he’s at least a human one, and the fact that we get to see that aspect of the character is truly a testament to the kind of actor that Fiennes is.

But honestly, I’m going on and on about the cast, without mentioning the one who is really responsible for this whole thing coming together so perfectly: Writer/director Martin McDonagh. Sure, McDonagh’s style of blending dark comedy with humane-drama, and bloody violence, has all been done numerous times before, but there’s something oh so refreshing about McDonagh here that makes me wonder not only why he doesn’t do more movies, but also why many more writers and directors haven’t followed suit? Because what McDonagh does so amazingly well here, is that he finds out what makes us laugh, what makes us cry, and what keeps us on the edge of our seats when watching movies, and combine them all together to make a movie accessible enough for anyone to see.

I mean, I’m not saying that In Bruges is the perfect pint of Guinness for either mom, dad, or your younger sibling, but what I am saying is that if you and your pals are hanging around late one night, need something to watch that will not only interest you, but have you downright laughing and enjoying yourselves, then you could do worse. Far, far worse.

Moral to the story: Watch this movie and thank me later.

Now go!

Consensus: Hilarious, fun, superbly-acted, exciting, surprising, and sweet in spots you don’t expect it to be, In Bruges is a near-perfect dark-comedy/thriller more people need to see in order to realize just how much crap is truly out there in the world that everybody knows, and why little gems like this go so unnoticed, for so very long.

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

Something in that image doesn't fit with the rest of it....

Something in that image doesn’t fit with the rest of it….

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Winter’s Tale (2014)

Sometimes, love just doesn’t make any sense. In this case, nothing makes sense!

In 1895, while on the run from his adoptive father, deadly gangster Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), thief Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) decides to make one last score in a house that seems to include some very wealthy people, who also may not even be home in the first place. He gets to the vault and starts working his magic, when all of a sudden, Peter realizes that he’s not alone in the house. It just so happens that the patriarch of the family (William Hurt), left his daughter, Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay) behind and Peter has no idea what to do, except just act natural and talk to her. And wouldn’t you know it, they actually have something in common and start up something of a relationship! The problem is, Beverly is slowly dying of consumption and needs to be with a man, and soon. Peter believes he can be the man to make the sweet lovin’ to her, but he also realizes that time is running out before Pearly and his men find him and decide to take his life away.

While that may sound all simple and carefree, like an ordinary romantic-drama should be, there’s something particularly strange about this movie. See, it’s a fantasy movie, that has flying horses, demons, 120-year-old-women and time-travel, but for some reason, in the mind of someone like Akiva Goldsman, apparently fantasy just means “throwing whatever shit you can think of on the screen, without any rhyme or reason.” And don’t get me wrong, I like that type of movie, but there has to be some sort of ground-rules to allow for everything to make sense. If not, there’s no reason for your movie to exist, except to just show everybody how crazily creative you can get.

And I hate to break it to you, Akiva Goldsman, but you’re not all that creative. In fact, you’re kind of a bore that doesn’t seem to know where to begin a story, where to go with a story, and just how exactly to end it. Which may all sound weird considering this is the same guy who wrote A Beautiful Mind, but anything that worked there, totally doesn’t here. Then again, those are two different movies in their own right, so the less I speak about that comparison, the better.

"What's so wrong with a man embracing his horse?"

“What’s so wrong with a man embracing his horse?”

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, that’s right, this movie. It’s a mess. It truly is. Certain things happen, then don’t happen, and then do happen again, for no reason except to just happen and keep the plot moving along. Which, once again, is fine, just as long as there are some ground-rules being laid down for us to make note of anytime anything completely out of the ordinary happens. We sort of get some of that when a demon character shows up and tells another demon what they are, and aren’t allowed to do, but it was told in such mumbo-jumbo, that I didn’t really get any of it, nor did I care. Also, the two actors in that scene just seem like they are on completely separate planets, let alone in the same movie.

But I guess that’s the way Goldsman not only directed his cast, but the movie as a whole. You can tell that there’s a really soft, sweet and endearing romance at the center of this movie, and there are times when he allows for it to just sit, relax, tell itself, and breathe. But then, moments later, Goldsman can’t help his urges, so he decides to throw in some weird ideas about the light and how it reflects on where a person is directly located on a map. I know. It’s weird and it don’t make a single ounce of sense, but I think that’s sort of the point.

Or maybe it isn’t. Personally, I don’t know and I shouldn’t care when a movie is as wild as this, but I do care and I have no clue as to why. Maybe because it seems like with a movie like this, where you can be so random and insane and still find a way to bring some emotional-connection to the proceedings, there’s always something to enjoy. But everything here was so odd and out-of-left-field, that it wasn’t. It just kept on making me scratch my head and wonder just what the hell was going to happen next, for what reason, and where was it going to lead to. And then once it did lead to that next scene, it was the whole rinse and repeat act. Rinse and repeat.

Like I alluded to before, too, there is an actual heartfelt story in the middle of all this craziness, it just doesn’t get as much of a spotlight as it should. With this love story (aka the main reason why any guy would get dragged into seeing this in the first place), we’re supposed to root for both Peter and Beverly to get together. Not only does it seem like Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay have legitimate, natural chemistry, but it’s believable why these two would be drawn to one another in the first place; she’s dying because she hasn’t consumed and is a bit picky with her boys, whereas he’s just got too much going on with his wacky lifestyle to even worry about a beautiful girl like her. They get a few scenes together where they really feel like honest love birds and I have to admit, they’re what kept me going with this movie.

"Do know, I de devil, me mate."

“Do know, I de devil, me ladey.”

It was only until Russell Crowe with his Elmer Fudd, mixed with a drunk Irish guy-act got in the way of everything and had to spoil the party. It’s not like Crowe is bad per se, he’s clearly trying to have fun with this role and give it all he’s got, but he’s really trying here, almost to the point of where the movie seems to just sort of let him run rampant with whatever he’s doing and forget to even make sense of hiss nonsensical ramblings; which there are many of, sadly.

But it does get worse and though I’d like to spoil this for everybody and say why this is the case, I’m going to take the higher-road and allow for you to see for yourself, if you wish. If you don’t, I can’t say it’s your loss. You do what you want to do, just know that this movie’s nuts and drugs may not help.

Once again, just saying.

Consensus: The romance at the center is what keeps Winter’s Tale, for the most part, grounded in some emotional consciousness, but everything else is just so weird, unbelievable, and out of the blue, that any connection we may have had to the story gets lost in the nonsensical shuffle.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

How I dance with the ladies. Except a whole lot more grinding.

How I dance with the ladies. Except with a whole lot more grinding.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Supercali….aw screw it!

Famed author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) lives her life the way she wants to, which usually means that she’s pushed-off from the rest of the world around her, doesn’t care much for others, or even being known as “nice”. She’s just simply doing her, and from the flashbacks we get to see of her and her days as a little girl (with her daddy being played Colin Farrell), it all makes sense. However, she may have to stop her ways for awhile, or at least settle them down so she can get some more money in a way that she isn’t as up accepting of at first, but eventually decides to go through with, despite her obvious reservations. The job: Go to Hollywood, meet with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), and see if they can both come to an agreement on making the tale of Mary Poppins that she wrote, come to life on the big screen. The two come to a stand-still in which they’ll make the movie, but she gets final say, cut and edit. Altogether meaning that she and Mr. Disney’s vision won’t necessarily meet the same standards, but that’s the movie business for ya, honey! Take it or leave it!

Here’s one of those flicks that I actually thought was going to do nothing for me. For the most part, I’ve never been a huge Mary Poppins fan, but having seen it more than times than I can actually count, I will say that seeing the back-story of how this movie came about did get my interest a bit. However, then I realized one key element to this movie that automatically turned me off: The fact that it was a Disney movie, talking about how the iconic-owner himself, got one of their classics made for the whole world to see. So basically, to me, that seemed like nothing more than a film company patting their own selves, on their own backs; for what their owner did, why it all happened, and how, even after all of these years, families and children from all-over-the-world still can’t get the grins off of their faces from this decision made.

He must love it when they ask if he's "still running".

He must love it when they ask if he’s “still running”.

So yeah, there was a lot of heat within me going into this flick but something happened. Actually, scratch that. Something REALLY did happen. Not just with this flick, but to me. Once all of the old-school Hollywood, self-pointing jokes were over and done with, I soon realized that there was something a bit more to this story that wasn’t as self-congratulatory as I expected it as being. In fact, very far from. See, this is one of those rare flicks, better yet, rare STUDIO flicks, in which the movie itself actually gives a hand or two for those who write the original stories that get made for big-budget productions and yet, also stick to their original vision. That surprised me, especially considering what the end-result of this story was, but even then the movie never seems to turn their backs on its main subject. Even the one who seemed to cause all of the trouble in the first place: Ms. P.L. Travers herself.

It would have been terribly easy for the movie to paint her as the cruelest, meanest and rudest witch in all of the land, and for awhile, that’s exactly what she is. Sure, she has her redeeming qualities about her in the fact that she can read, write and make the people around her rich, but she never seems like an actually nice person that me, or anybody else for that matter would want to be around. So when she does eventually decide to take the offer to fly out all the way to Hollywood and she gets all nestled-up in her suit, it’s easy to believe that she’s doing this more to find a part of herself out, be fun and happy again, while also reinvigorating a spirit within her that’s been tucked away for quite some time. Maybe I’m reaching here, but there are moments where wee see when, where and why Travers herself wants to change her ways, and though it does take an awful while til she does eventually do so, it’s done in a believable, honest, emotional and most of all, unmanipulative way.

Though there is definitely a large amount of bullshit to be had here in what actually happened during the filming of Mary Poppins, for the most part, it was easy to get by because this was really a flick about an artist, a writer, or a creator in any way imaginable, and how they stick to a certain vision they have, regardless of what others may try to say, do or change about it. As we all know, Travers does eventually give up the goods, suck it all up and let Disney get his way, as well as his hefty bags of cash, but it’s never like Travers herself gave up or quit. It’s just that she eventually moved on with the times and realized that there’s no use at all in fighting something, because we all got to get along somehow, and someday.

That’s why when people see that this movie has Walt Disney in it, those same people will be awfully surprised to see how much of it really concerns P.L. Travers, who she is, whom she was and the type of creative genius she could be if you gave her a pen, paper and some time on her own. And this is why Emma Thompson’s performance as Travers is so brilliant, because she gives us a shrewd, older gal who doesn’t put up with anybody’s crap whatsoever, and yet, we don’t really hate her. We get angry at annoyed at her, but we never want to raise our fists in the air and take a swing at her. Can’t say the same for the people that probably worked on making this movie come to alive with her, but hey, at least I knew that there was something more to her, which is what Thompson herself conveys so well. There’s a deep, sad and fragile figure at the center of this rock, and we get to see it chipped-away at each and every second we spend with her, but it doesn’t happen right and it never happens with strings attached. We simply see her go from mean, old, nasty bitch, to relatively pleasant, easy-going and okay-to-be-around bitch. She’s still a bitch either way, but a sympathetic one that’s easy to like when she puts a smile on, and just as easy to be angry with when she’s treating the others around her so inappropriately.

I think that Thompson’s definitely got a nomination in her midst and if that’s the case, I hold no objection whatsoever. The woman is, has and forever always will be a great actress and I feel like she is the only one who could have made P.L. Travers a lovely woman to be around, despite all of her bickering and nagging. In that general regards, she was like my grand-mom. Except that she actually makes me cookies! Love you, Gams!

Though the story is definitely more about Travers, Walt Disney gets some chances to develop over time, too, and rather than seeing a money-grubbing, shameless business-man, we legitimately see a guy who rose from nothing, to own this huge bedrock of an empire where people from all over the world come together to share one of the most beautiful emotions any human can share: Happiness. We get a couple of scenes where we see Hanks turn the charm-dial on and show us that he can easily sink his teeth into a role as Walt Disney, but there are some very few moments where we get to see a real human being underneath that whole facade we usually see in commercials or pictures. He’s definitely a charmer for sure, but he’s not always like that and when we do get to see the human-side to him, he’s believable and a sympathetic guy that I’d be willing to work with any day of the week. That, and the fact that he’s FREAKIN’ WALT DISNEY!

Wow, P.L.! When I meant by "let loose", I didn't mean THAT LOOSE!!

Wow, P.L.! When I meant by “let loose”, I didn’t mean THAT LOOSE!!

Everybody else surrounding this story that aren’t Disney or Travers are all great too, with Paul Giamatti, once again, coming off with the best supporting role here, despite being the only made-up character in the whole flick. Giamatti plays the limo-driver assigned to lugging Travers around left-and-right and while at first, they don’t really get along despite his best intentions, they build a nice friendship that would seem cloying and schmaltzy in any other movie, with any other two actors, but with Thomspson and Giamatti, it works wonders. Same goes for Colin Farrell who plays Travers’ alcoholic daddy-o that runs into plenty of problems through these flashbacks, and while they may not work the best to the film’s ability, he’s still lovely, charming and easy-to-like, despite being a very flawed person. I wanted to see more of Farrell here, just not done in a way that bothered me when it took away from the real story: Everything happening with the big-screen development of Mary Poppins.

That’s what brings me onto my only real problem in which the movie did focus a bit too much on Travers’ life, as well as her back-story. It’s fine that we got to see where she came from and what exactly made her who she is today, but we get so many damn flashbacks, that it slows everything down that we see in Hollywood. Those scenes where we witness Travers growing up as a little girl, and all the sorts of hard-ships she went through, are definitely the back-bone to the story that was Mary Poppins, as well as this movie itself; however, you can also tell exactly when they’re going to come up, what they’re going to show and how they correlate to the story of Poppins itself.

Then again though, I bitch and I complain about these flashbacks, but yet, later on in the movie is where it also really got tugging on my heartstrings and brought out the tears within me. I don’t want to say how, when or why this happens, but it just happens and it will completely take you off-guard. Mostly because it’s done so in a way to where you know it’s going to try its hardest to make you cry in the way that most biopics normally do, let alone movies directed by John Lee Hancock himself, but it never begs you to. It just simply allows you to and I have to say, I allowed it. I fell victim and I cried. Didn’t make it a perfect movie by any means, but I’d be lying if I didn’t need at least two tissues by the end of this. At least.

Consensus: Could have easily been the type of off-putting movie that cracked jokes about Hollywood, while simultaneously hugging itself at the same time, but somehow, Saving Mr. Banks is the furthest thing from that and instead, gives us a real story, of a real person that speaks for all of the writers out there when one has a vision, wants to stick to it and won’t settle for less. But, also realizes that there is a time to move on and most importantly, a time to adapt and go on with the times.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

There she is! Ehrm, well, at least the inspiration for her.

There she is! Ehrm, well, at least the inspiration for her…

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Epic (2013)

I always knew those insects I squished had a home to go back to.

A young, rebellious teen, M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), thinks she has it all and doesn’t need to be bossed-around by anybody anymore. Well, her whole reality gets shrunk down to size, and I mean that in the most literal way possible. After getting some sort of spell thrown upon her, she is shrunk down to the size of a leaf, and finds herself embedded in this whole new world filled with mystical, magic creatures that have lives of their own. These “things” she aligns herself with are called Leafmen, and are currently in the middle of a war between what is good and what is bad, against the evil and despicable Boggans (Christoph Waltz).

Don’t know how I found myself in the theater watching this, but one thing lead to another, and I eventually found myself plopped-down in a seat, surrounded by a bunch of families, with screaming kids, and pissed-off mommies and daddies (mostly daddies). Then, of course, there was me, the 19-year-old who just sat there, hanging out, doing my movie-reviewing thing (sitting there with either my arms folded, or, pulling off the “thinking man” look), and surprisingly had a good time. Was I surprised? Ehh, not totally, but considering where animation has been going these days, I felt like it was a nice breath of fresh air to remind me that you don’t need to do something new, cool, or original to work. And hell, you sure as hell don’t have to be riding the coat-tails of Pixar with every damn move neither, but what you really have to do is just have a good time with yourself and others will eventually join in on the fun as well. Eventually.

Movie's message: dads are soooo lame.

Something tells me that these two are going to have those same faces for the rest of their lives together.

I will say that, for the most part, the movie did take awhile of getting used to. There were parts of this story that seemed way, way too FernGully-ish, and certain parts that seemed like they were trying way, way too hard to be funny. For instance, the dad is always fumbling over his papers and books because of these “creatures” he’s looking for, the dog’s name is Ozzy, and he also happens to be three-legged, and there’s a bunch of talking-slugs that like to say witty, adult-like things. It all seemed like it was trying a bit too hard for me and I felt like if this was how the rest of the flick was going to be, I was going to have to leave early and find out what the hell else there is to do with the rest of my Saturday afternoon (i.e. get drunk).

Well, thankfully, things turned for the good and rather than finding myself just sitting there in pure misery, while every kid under the age of 7 laughed their asses off; the tides began to change and I found myself in the place of the 7-year olds, laughing my ass off. Okay, maybe I wasn’t laughing, and maybe it was more of a grin here and there, but once the story started moving and the girl get cut-down to size, then things began to get better and better.

Somehow, some way, the movie was hitting it’s funny-bone, the action got better and more entertaining, and everything continued to get more and more greener as time went by. It was going so well and I can’t say I regret seeing this movie, even if some daddies had to shelter their kids away from the young adult, laughing his rear-end off in the third row. Yeah, that was a bit of a down-side, but I still enjoyed myself with the movie and realized that animation can still work in today’s world, even if you aren’t breaking any new-ground. I mean, I wasn’t crying like I USED to do with Pixar movies, and I sure as hell wasn’t holding my stomach like I USED to do with Pixar movies, but I was sure as hell having a nice time, and nobody could bring me down from that cloud I oh so pleasantly floated on for awhile.

And then, things got a bit weird.

I don’t want to give too much away here in terms of what the ending is all about, because it’s pretty obvious and conventional for the most part, but in terms of what type of message this movie is trying to give off: I still am left scratching my head. You can see that this girl is young, prepped-up to be the princess of her house, and deserving of everything that she wants, so why the hell does she all of a sudden begin a sort of “relationship” with a guy that’s the size of her finger-nail? Sounds strange, I know, but it left me with a weird feeling that kids are going to be leaving this flick, thinking that you can find love anywhere, even if it is with tiny men, that battle-off insects in their spare-time. Okay, maybe kids won’t be going that far, but why end the movie like that? Just have her say her good-byes, say that she’ll be back, and that her and her dad will be careful not to squash them anytime soon. Why not do that and avoid being creepy? Pixar wouldn’t have done that….

But probably the strangest aspect of this whole movie is the voice-cast. Everybody here who has something to say, is a big-name in the media for one thing or another, but to assemble them altogether in a movie where they literally don’t have to stand next to each other to get good performances, still strikes me as a bit odd. For instance, one second you’ll have Christoph Waltz doing his thing as the baddie; then, the next second, you’ll have Pitbull voicing a frog that’s supposed to be the kingpin of the slums. I never though I’d see this guy and that guy in the same movie together, but hey, that’s the crazy thing about animation. You can get away with just about putting anybody you want, regardless of if they fit together or not, because it will still work. It’s not their faces you’re saying, it’s the voices you’re hearing.

Snail's be chillin', yo.

Snail’s be chillin’, yo.

That said, everybody is pretty damn serviceable in each of their own, respective roles. Amanda Seyfried fits the innocence and angst of what it’s like to be a young gal in your teens (not that I would know); Jason Sudeikis does some weird, nasally-voice as her father, but is still good at being goofy, but also endearing as well; Colin Farrell is pretty damn bad-ass as the leader of the little dudes that fight the good fight; Beyonce doesn’t have much to do as Queen Tara, and feels like the weakest-link out of everybody else here; Steven Tyler is playing up his whole, “pot-smoking” image as the slug that has all the answers and keeps records of everything that goes down in this forest; and last, but sure as hell not least, Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd are perfect fits as the two snails that continue to pop jokes, no matter what the occasion may be. They’re characters are only here to serve one purpose, and that’s to be the comic-relief for the kiddie’s to laugh at, but they actually had me giggling quite a lot. I don’t know if that’s because I actually like both comedians in general, or for what they did here. I think it’s more of the former, but at least I appreciated them nonetheless.

Consensus: The world of animation will continue to do what it’s been doing for all these years, but at least Epic still hits us with the reminder that you don’t have to change the name of the game or do something new with your story, as long as you have fun, are entertaining, and goofy for the whole family to enjoy.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

The look of a man that little girls will come to adore for awhile, only to realize that average-sized dudes usually don't look as stunning, and as groomed-up as this. This is what they usually turn out to be.

The look of a man that little girls will come to adore for awhile, only to realize that average-sized dudes usually don’t look as stunning, and as groomed-up as this. This is what they usually turn out to be.

Dead Man Down (2013)

Expected there to be more rapes with this one.

Two distraught and damaged people (Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace) who happen to live-across from one another, both feel the need for revenge. Her revenge is solely based on the man who got into a car accident with her and disfigured her face, whereas his revenge is solely based on the man who killed his wife and daughter. That man (Terrence Howard) just so happens to be the drug kingpin that Farrell’s character is working for, which automatically shows you that shit’s about to get whack. Well, sort of.

This was a very, very strange movie as it was nothing that I expected it to be from the trailer, and I’m still stuck racking my brain on what the hell it was all about. The actually, awesome trailer that came out awhile back provided us with a great look at a movie that could be a bunch of slam-bang, action fun that was all about chewing bullets, and spitting out explosives. That’s the type of movie I was promised and that’s the type of movie I only dreamed of seeing. However, that is not at all what I got and being that this is WWE Studios film; I should have only known.

The whole discussion of this movie comes down to one question: is it bad? For the answer to that, I would have to reply by saying yes and no. See, this isn’t one of those movies you can really ever take seriously, despite it being one of those flicks where they take the plot, it’s characters, and their motivations that way. You basically have to assume that the movie has an I.Q level that’s lower than yours, and just go with the flow of things. But even that’s where a problem with this film lies; it just isn’t that fun to begin with.

Soon to be appearing on the director's cut of Zero Dark Thirty.

Soon to be appearing on the director’s cut of Zero Dark Thirty.

Director Niels Arden Oplev is making his English-language debut after making the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and shows that he has interest in keeping a story moving, with a nice deal of tension and details, but this movie is nowhere near that. He seems like he gets the story and where it’s going, but he never allows for it to have fun with itself or come alive in anyway. It’s sort of like the guy is going through the motions, hoping that people will become interested in what he finds interesting, but it never soils that way. Instead, we’re just left with a guy being all happy wappy about a bunch of material that he’s finally getting the chance to direct without subtitles, but to us, the viewer, that’s nothing special we need to watch.

Maybe I’ve been a bit spoiled these past couple of weeks with dumb, brainless exercises in fun that never seem to end, but when I go to a movie like this that promises guns, drugs, crooks, and dames, within the first 5-10 minutes, I expect to see a lot of that continue on throughout. That’s not what happens at all. The movie starts off with an exciting action-sequence that lasts about 10 minutes and has you all excited, wondering if this is going to be like everything you had hoped for. Then, people start talking, people start flirting, and worst of all, people start picking-up those dreaded cell phones. Yes, there is so much cell phone-usage here that I literally thought that the big surprise at the end was going to be that either Terrence Howard, Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell, or somebody had brain cancer. Then again, a twist like that wouldn’t seem so out-of-place in a crazy movie like this.

Basically, the whole movie is lead-up to the last 5-10 minutes where we get another action-sequence that’s fun and exciting, but in-between the beginning and the end; there’s not much else. Just a bunch of people talking on cell phones (like I alluded to earlier), moping around, poppin’ b’s over killing people, talking about how sad they are, what they want to do next, and some of the most awkward first dates I have ever witnessed in my life. And trust me, that is saying something. My problem with this movie is that it takes itself too seriously and never loosens up the gears to let go and be free, wild, and fun like it just could have been. Would have made the movie a whole lot more entertaining, rather than dragging on and on throughout the hour-and-50-minute time-limit.

Thankfully though, underneath it all, we got some peeps holding the fort down and that comes in the form of Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. Farrell is good as the brooding, but sad guy that wants to gain revenge on the guy who killed his familia. He plays the silent, stern type very well to where you see that the guy is as reserved as he is, for a reason and nothing more. I didn’t mind Farrell playing this character considering I believed him when he was upset, confused, or planning to kick somebody’s ass because he could pull it all off with a look in his eyes. The guy is THAT talented of an actor.

Noomi Rapace is also quite good as the girl that takes a liking to him, mainly because she shows that vulnerability that we all know and love her for. Rapace has a great look to her where she isn’t hot, but she isn’t gorgeous either. She’s right in the middle and feels like a real gal that’s damaged, depressed, and lonely in a world that doesn’t seem to give any two shits about her. Rapace does what she can with a role like this, and it’s more than enough than I expected from her so kudos to that chick. Let’s just hope she doesn’t go back to her ass-kicking ways.

Don't worry honey, no rapes here.

Don’t worry honey, no rapes here.

What I liked the most about this movie is these two, and the chemistry they had between one another. Granted, this movie is less about their relationship and more about how they get off on killing people (or not), but whenever they are together and actually have to create some sort of magic between themselves; it actually works. Heck, some of this movie felt like it could have just been it’s own film, entirely, scrapped-off all of the action shit, and just left it with the drama of two, damaged people who end-up finding each other and falling in love. That would have been way, way better than sitting through all of these guns, weapons, and exposition, but at least we still got to see them together and see what they could do, with what limited-resources they have. I’m telling ya, if this was told a straight-up drama, Sundance would be falling to pieces by now.

Terrence Howard plays the powerful kingpin that yells, screams, hoots, hollers, and intimidates any man that walks his way, and is fine with that, but does get a little goofy by the end. Once he starts screaming, “Where the fuck ya’ll at”, then I started to lose a bit of my cool and needed a bit of a break from this black man screaming, for no reason. Dominic Cooper is also here as Farrell’s only, sympathetic drug-buddy, that just so happens to be on Howard’s side as well. Cooper is good and gives us something to hold onto with this character, but even he feels like he’s stretching for a bit more than he can pull-off. And sadly, Isabelle Huppert and F. Murray Abraham show up here, do nothing, seem out-of-place, and disappoint me to the high heavens. Poor people.

Consensus: Even if it does promise a bunch of crazy, action-y fun, Dead Man Down is more based on being a thriller that’s as complex as a monkey in a bikini. You see it for what it is, don’t think of anything more, and that’s about it. Okay, pretty strange comparison, but still. Just expect nothing, and you may just get that in-return. Maybe.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"YA'LL MUTHAFUCKAS!!"

“YA’LL MUTHAFUCKAS!!”

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

See, this would have never happened if more people had cats!

Colin Farrell stars as a struggling screenwriter named Marty, who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu.

Even though I heard a lot of hype surrounding it way back in 2008, In Bruges still surprised the hell out of me. Not only was it hilarious and violent (the way I like my mobster-like movies), but also surprisingly touching considering the characters were just a bunch of cold-blooded hit-men when you think about it. That was easily one of my favorite movies of that year and that is why I was looking forward so much to seeing what writer/director Martin McDonagh could do next. Thankfully, it’s the same type of stuff around again but this time, with dogs. Even better.

What I liked most about McDonagh’s script and what he does with this story, is he pulls no punches, and makes no apologies for where he goes with it. Right from that memorable first scene, we already know what we are getting ourselves involved with: a slightly off-kilter, type of movie that will kill when it needs to. That’s how I like my crime movies and this one is no different, but there’s more of a darker-edge to it that really works, especially in the comedy-aspect of this movie. There are a couple of jokes here and there that will really fly by people (as it did to me), but what always hit me hard was when McDonagh would have his characters practically dissect what it is that we usually see in movies that are in the same vein as this one, or In Bruges for that matter.

This is made possible because of the fact that Farrell’s character is a movie screen-writer, working on a script while all of this crazy shit is happening, which allows McDonagh to not only go balls-out in the fantasy sequences, but give his own two-cents on what it’s like to make a crime movie that has so many obvious conventions that it’s almost too hard to stray away from. Not only do I love it when movies take certain cheap-shots at movies themselves, but I love when they do it and it’s hilarious, which is exactly what this movie and it’s something I don’t think I’ve stressed enough about this movie. The humor is as dark as you can get, but a lot of other humor bits are intentional and they still work no matter where they are placed in this story. Trust me, you won’t get every single line of funny dialogue, but with the ones you do get, you’ll still be happy and laughing your ass off.

However, as you could expect, it’s not all that sunshine and games with McDonagh and his story as it does get very gruesome at points and may even take you by surprise to the limits it goes. That’s right, characters that you don’t expect to get killed off, do in-fact, get killed off and as heartbreaking and unexpected as it may be sometimes, it still furthers the story on and makes you realize that this is a writer/director that takes no prisoners. This not only adds an extra-level of suspense onto the film, but a whole other layer of heart and emotion to these characters as you feel like any scene with them, could quite literally be their last. It’s something that McDonagh pulls off perfectly and reminded me that this is the type of writer/director we need more of for the crime-genre.

Another thing that more crime-movies should definitely have is an ensemble that we can literally not stop watching. This is exactly what Seven Psychopaths has, and then some. Colin Farrell, once again, stars and plays one of the more cowardly guys in the film, but is the straight-man here, more than anything else as Marty (teehee, gedd it?). Farrell is not only great at playing the straight-man, but also lets a couple of his own weird laughs come through as well and it’s great to once again see this guy stretch his comedy-strength, but also still be able to show that he has what it takes to make an endearing character that we still care for in the end. The only difference between this character, and the one he played in In Bruges, is that we sort of cared for that one more since he seemed so much more innocent, even though he was a hit-man and this guy is a screenplay writer. Actually, that could almost be said about the movie as well, because even though I liked all of these characters and seeing what they did with this material, I wasn’t as emotionally-invested with them here, as I was with the three in McDonagh’s last flick. Maybe it was the size of the ensemble, maybe it was the different sub-plots, or maybe it was just something that made me want to be more entertained and laugh, rather than cry my eyes out. Either way, In Bruges was better in that aspect.

The two cast-members everybody will probably be talking about the most coming out of this film are none other than Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, the two infamous dog-nappers who start this whole shit-storm in the first-place. Rockwell is one of these actors who comes close to stealing the show in every movie he does, but somehow, just hasn’t gotten that big-break he so rightfully deserves just yet, but I don’t think he has to wait any longer. His character as Bill is a pretty wacky and wild one that seems like he came straight-out of a Tarantino movie, but has more than meets the eye with him. You think that Bill is just a total psycho that does stupid things because he has nothing else better to do, but you realize there’s a reason for doing all of the stuff he does and as twisted as it may be (and trust me, it is), in a way, it’s a bit sweet as well. Rockwell is great at playing both sides of this character and I really, really, really do hope this catapults his career to even higher-lengths than he could have ever imagined. Seriously, the guy deserves it and I could totally see him winning an Oscar sooner or later.

Then, of course, we got the always awesome and delightful Christopher Walken doing his best, well, you know, “Christopher Walken”. As unoriginal and lazy as that idea may come off as, it isn’t in the least-bit because Walken is having an absolute ball with his role here as Hans and it reminds you why this guy is such an icon in the first-place. All of the lines that Walken’s given, he nails in that deliberate-delivery of his that’s always great, and all of the emotions he has to emphasize with this character, works but not just because he’s an old-cook, but because he’s a sweet, endearing, old man that seems like he could still kick anybody’s ass, if he’s pushed to that point. Basically, it’s Christopher Walken, playing Christopher Walken and what’s better than that? Nothing at all.

Rounding out the rest of the cast is Woody Harrelson as the crazed mob-boss who goes looking for his doggy like any other pet-lover. Harrelson is a very diverse actor in the way that he is able to have us love him when he’s being the typical, cool guy we all know and love him for, but is also able to have us despise the hell out of him when he’s playing an absolute d-bag that can’t be trusted. Harrelson plays with both sides of the quarter here where he shows us his sinister side, but also allows us to see his charming side whenever he’s actually around his doggy or has to think of it being taken away from. It’s a great role for him but in all honesty, I would have loved it even more if they gave it to Mickey Rourke like they originally planned as it would have been downright hilarious with that nut in the role. Playing another nut-case in this film is Tom Waits, who shows up with a bunny and tells his side of being a psycho killer. Waits is here, essentially, as an extended cameo but it’s still fun to see him show-up and do something really random and weird. That’s how we love to see the guy and that’s how we always want to see him.

The other two in this leading-cast are the two gals (Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko) and they were the two ones I was the most disappointed by when it was all said and done. They aren’t really given much to work with, other than a bunch of one-dimensional lines that don’t do anything for their characters, other than make us wish that they’d just be gone and allow this to be a strictly-sausage party, but it was also lame how McDonagh didn’t really give them much to play around with in the first-place. Seriously, it seems like Cornish and Kurylenko could have had some of their own fun in-between all of the dudes just fartin’ around, so why not give them something, Martin?

Consensus: Seven Psychopaths will take most viewers by surprise by how dark and sinister it can get, but most viewers will also find themselves having a ball with the excellent script, spirited ensemble, and a story that’s not only hilarious, but unpredictable in the way you have no idea where the hell it’s going to g0.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Hart’s War (2002)

Yippie Kay Yay Nazi!

Lieutenant Tommy Hart (Colin Farrell) is a second year law student who is enlisted as an officer’s aide in World War II due to his father’s political pull. When he is captured and thrown into a German prisoner of war camp, top ranking Colonel William McNamara (Bruce Willis) assigns him to defend Lieutenant Lincoln Scott (Terrence Howard), an African-American POW accused of murdering a fellow white prisoner.

Everything from the poster, to the trailers, and even to the title may have you think that this is a slam-bang action, war flick filled with none other than John McClane at the fore-front. Problem is, it’s more like 12 Angry Men filled with Nazis. Don’t get too hyped up though, not as cool as it sounds.

What this film does and does will is that it has three different parts to it: it’s war movie, it’s a courtroom drama, and it’s also a racism-movie as well. All that may sound like a little bit too much of a jumble right there but surprisingly, the film doesn’t loose itself too much that’s worth crying about. The first 15 minutes starts out where Farrell is getting interrogated and held captive for questioning, then it turns into this “prisoner of war” movie where it almost seems like a “jail house” flick, with all of your random assortments of characters here and there scattered throughout the camp. Then the racism card comes out, as soon as the murder goes down and that’s where the courtroom ish starts to take place but there is still some stuff brewing underneath it all which always kept my interest.

As much as this film would have liked to focus on one subject and one plot only, it still finds its way to get all of these other stories going and place them in this film somehow which made my interest seem to never wan. Beneath the courtroom drama you have a racism issue, beneath the racism issue you have a Lt. who wants to prove himself, beneath the Lt. who wants to prove himself you have the superior officer who wants to come out on top, and beneath the superior officer who wants to come out on top you have WWII and everything else that came with it. Sounds like a real combustion of things going on here, which it is, but it still kept my interest as this story started to develop more and I realized more about these characters and just what all of their intentions were.

Problem with a lot of this film though was that I felt like the screenplay really lead it down in so many damn ways that bummed me out. It really did. The racial issue is a very important one to be brought up and is actually talked about in a very sensitive way here (even though the “N” word does get splashed around quite a lot) but sometimes it could get so heavy-handed with what it was trying to say, I felt like I was talking to Reverend Al Sharpton or something. The black man they are accusing here is practically in the film, just to give off speeches and montages about his race, what he’s going to do with his life, and all that yadda yadda yadda. I don’t mind when a film wants to throw me some racial themes and issues out there to further enhance the story and make it more important than it has any right to be, but maybe there was too much of that and less of something else that may have made some importance as well. Can’t say what it is, but it’s there.

As much as I’m able to let loose of some logic just for the sake of being entertained by a flick, there are times when there’s just too much logic to let loose. First of all, since these soldiers were all in a POW camp, why the hell were they allowed their on theater, let alone, allowed to even hold a court session on the campgrounds. I’m an American so it’s obvious who I’m rooting for in the end, but don’t you think that if I was a German Commander that I would at least try to punish the enemy that I was facing? Maybe if I was a ruthless German Commander from a WWII movie I would, but I guess that’s just the logic I have when it comes to stuff like this.

Also, why the hell would a German Commander get so lovely and overly nice to his prisoners? I could understand if you wanted to humor the prisoners from time-to-time and have a little piece of shits and gigs here and there but inviting them in for drinks to shit the shit is sort of pushing it and a little too far fetched for my taste. Then again, Hans Landa was pretty nice and look what happened to him….oh wait! Nevermind!

The film is high-lighted as a Bruce Willis vehicle and even though he is a big character in this flick, he definitely isn’t the main center of it. That honor is actually given to Colin Farrell as Tommy Hart, who gives a very rich and mature performance from a dude that, at the time, was really starting to grow up and realize what dramatic skills he really had behind all of those bad-boy looks. The role that Willis does play in this film is definitely not one of his best because I honestly think that he is terribly miscast here as William McNamara. Yeah, Willis can play tough and rigid like no otha motha and he has his moments here as well, but his stiff demeanor and limited vocal range doesn’t fit this overly ambiguous character that seemed to always be up to something, even though we never really find out. Somebody else could have definitely fit this role a lot better than Willis, but I think the film just needed him so they could use his name for advertisement. Understandable.

Terrence Howard gives off a very good performance here as the soldier on trial, William McNamara, and gives one speech by the end of the flick that feels very genuine and also shows why Howard is one of the better African-American actors working today. There’s so many emotions in this guy’s system as he’s telling this speech that it actually makes you think twice about what you’re seeing and hearing. Howard definitely bumps this flick up but once again, it was the screenplay that kind of brought him down.

Consensus: Hart’s War has good performances from it’s cast, features some rich stories dealing with a lot of different issues, and is an entertaining enough of a war flick to hold you over, but with it’s heavy-handed approach and unbelievable writing, the film sort of feels like a fable made for inspiration, rather than an actual story that could have possibly taken place.

6/10=Rental!!

Total Recall (2012)

Hey, at least we got the three-boobed hooker.

Colin Farrell stars as Doug Quaid, a factory worker who decides to turn to undergo a procedure to turn his dream of being a super-spy into real memories to escape his frustrating life. But when the operation goes terribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man and the line between fantasy and reality gets blurred.

The original 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Paul Verhoven sci-fi classic Total Recall, was a great movie but it was never screaming “Remake!”. Actually, it holds up pretty well on its own terms but I was able to give this film a try all because of the cool look, awes0me special effects, and two sexy leading ladies involved. The latter one never comes into play unless its with unnecessary remakes like this.

This remake is directed by Len Wiseman and his visual direction, is spectacular. This whole film is one big CGI-trip right from this dude Wiseman’s mind but it looks superb, almost like you’re in this futuristic Earth with these characters. Some people will be bothered by the CGI and special effects and say that it’s there too much, but it never looks goofy and it always makes everything look a whole lot cooler than I expected. Something exactly this film needed in the first place, and thankfully, had.

Other than looking pretty, Wiseman also makes this remake a whole lot of fun that just would not quit it with the action scenes. There’s a lot of mono-e-mono fights that happen here, plenty of shoot-outs, a cool car-chase, and even a chase through an elevator shaft that seems to never end, and they all add a whole bunch of excitement to this film and it never seems boring because of this. Wiseman brings an element of fun to these action set pieces, and because of that, my attention never fully left the screen. Sometimes here and there, it felt like Wiseman was just adding another random scene of action in here just to keep things alive and well, but I can’t really get on his case too much for that since it did so well with what it had and there’s never, ever a problem with just trying to have some fun every once and awhile. It’s not your typical, old Arnie fun, but it’s fun none the less.

Problem is, as fun and exciting as this action may be, there’s always one element that makes it all feel somewhat empty: tension. Seeing the original, knowing everything that happens, and why it does in that movie, I went into this flick expecting no surprises either, which is exactly what I got. There’s only a couple of things that are different from this movie and that movie (no Mars, the explanation of what happens to this guy Quaid and why, etc.) but never was there some sort of twist/turn in the story that I wasn’t already expecting. There was probably only one scene where I actually felt some type of tension in this story as I didn’t really quite know was going to happen next in this situation these characters got caught up in, but sadly, it ended predictably, as this film did. Everything just happened and went by the same exact-formula the original went by and even though not all remakes can just totally change all of their source material just because they want to be different, there still has to be a level of unpredictability to what’s going to happen next and how. But if you don’t have that, then just feast your eyes on plenty, and I do repeat, plenty of eye candy.

It’s also weird that this film is almost exactly like the original, because everybody involved with this film has gone on the record to say that they aren’t going to make this like Arnie’s classic film at all, which is obviously bullshit. The only times that this film actually tries to connect with the original, is when they randomly have the three-boobed hooker show up even though it makes no sense in this story because there are no mutants in this world. Just some very sad and poor people. But what that scene brought, was a certain level of humor to it, the rest of this film has barely any or none of that. It’s a shame too, because as cheesy as some of the humor in the original may be, they still has some classic Arnie lines that are worth reiterating almost 22 years later, but that’s what this film never brings to the table. There’s never any of that wry humor that livens things up quite as well as those classic lines did in the original, and I get it, it would have totally seemed misplaced in a film like this but there could have been something a little light that could have shown up.

I can’t remember the last time that Colin Farrell has ever been the main actor in a mainstream flick, but I can say that I have at least missed him in these types of roles since he’s good here as Douglas Quaid. Let’s face it, Farrell is not as colorful or wild as Arnie, but for what it’s worth, Farrell does a good job at making us like this guy by what he can do with his fists and also at least care for him just a teentsie-tiny bit when the shit starts to hit the fan for him. His character was maybe a little more dull than the original, but then again, I wasn’t expecting to just fall in love with this guy and almost tear up whenever danger came his way. Maybe that’s a little too drastic for a film like this, but you get what I mean.

Jessica Biel cooked some behinds as Melina and may not be as bad ass as I would have liked for her to have been, she still at least had some sympathy to her that made me care for her character and understand why she would do everything in her power to protect this Quaid guy; Bryan Cranston appears in his 200th film this year here with his performance as the evil mofo, Cohaagen, and it’s sad to say that we don’t get enough of him but with what we do get from him, it’s pretty good; and Bill Nighy shows up for about a scene and is good, but just like Cranston, not enough of him either. Still pissed to hear that Ethan Hawke got his cameo cut but hopefully he’ll all show them when it comes time for him and his movie Sinister.

The one high-spot of this whole cast would probably be Kate Beckinsale who plays Quaid’s wife/hunter, Lori. Beckinsale is a chick that I’ve never been too fond of when it comes to her acting, but she’s able to do something great here and that’s play a villain that you can never trust. Beckinsale actually seems like she’s having a ball with this role as the baddy and gets to use a lot of her bad ass fighting skills to show it off and also have that sexy little change in her accent from American to British that always works when it comes to villains. I would like to say that I look forward to seeing Beckinsale in the future, but the fact is, I don’t really care all that much because as good as she may be here, she’s still going to churn out another crappy Underworld movie within the next year or so and I’m going to be sitting there wondering what all of this fascination about her is. Oh wait, she’s really, super-duper hot. Never mind!

Consensus: With plenty of fun action to keep your mind wired and wonderful special effects to keep your eyes glued onto the screen, Total Recall does it’s job in being an entertaining piece of Summer action, but what it does suffer from is barely little or no surprises whatsoever in the story, and just sort of pales in comparison to the original Arnie classic that is still fresh in peoples minds, believe it or not. It’s like re-booting Spider-Man, oh wait….

6.5/10=Rental!!

Daredevil (2003)

“He may be blind, but he can still see evil.” Maybe one, of the 100 cheesy blind references this film makes.

Attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is blind, but his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. By day, Murdock represents the downtrodden. At night, he is DareDevil, a masked vigilante stalking the dark streets of the city, a relentless avenger of justice.

Ever since ‘Spider-Man’ came out in 2002, it seemed like the superhero genre had taken off with almost every superhero known to man either getting a film, or in discussions for a film. However, I don’t really think that choosing a blind dude as your next big block-buster was the best idea.

Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson did a pretty good job here with keeping to the whole dark and gritty atmosphere. Right from the beginning, you know that everything is going to be pretty glum and depressing, which is always different to get with a superhero flick and it’s nice to actually see him stay close to that mood rather than trying to lighten it up all that much. The action scenes he has here are also a lot of fun and bring a great deal of eclectic energy to the film when it probably needed it the most. Yes, the are a little confusing to watch with way too many fast-cuts, but they still were fun to watch and really what kept me watching in the end.

The problem with this flick is that when its not sticking to its mood and the action itself, the film starts to get a little goofy and not in a good way. The film does take itself seriously so when you have these people that are moving, jumping, and swaying around a place like they were trained acrobats, it starts to seem a little unbelievable and cartoonish in a way. I mean I get that superheros are obviously a lot more trained when it comes to moving around than the average human but there’s only so much that I can believe and actually take seriously. Still, this is just one of the problems with the script.

Another problem with this script was that it obviously just seems a little too cheesy and poorly-written for my taste. I wasn’t going into this film really expecting a Shakespearean-like experience when it came to these characters speaking but I still would have definitely like to hear a lot less blind references and more focus on the actual plot itself. The lines, as well as the moments themselves, can get pretty cheesy after awhile but where it really bothered me was the romance between Elektra and Daredevil. They obviously have this fire between them that just strikes up sex, but the story never really allowed them to take that route with all of these melodramatic sequences where he would be able to finally see her through the rain. Lame.

This is what also lead into one of my main problems with this flick and that was it’s rating. The film is obviously a lot darker and grittier than a lot of other superhero flicks I have seen as of late but it still had to go for that PG-13 rating to interest all audiences, which is where I think the film itself messed up on. The violence definitely could have been a lot more dirtier and violent and the sexual tension between Daredevil and Elektra should have been so hot, that it would even have me poppin’ a b. I know that there is a version of this film out there that’s unrated, but I just think the film should have been R-rated from the start and at least take a shot at being a more grownup kind of superhero flick.

Ben Affleck bulked up very well for this role as Daredevil and he’s actually pretty good. He seems like a pretty simple, nice, and everyday dude that just so happens to be blind and still have the ability to knock the hell out of mafia members in a bar. Affleck did this character a lot better than I expected and it’s a shame that he may never do this character again because with a better script, he could have done wonders really. Jennifer Garner is ok as Elektra because she does what she can with this role, and the chemistry between her and Affleck was good (so good, that they now are married), it’s just that she gets some pretty crappy writing by the end of the flick and she’s not really the best actress to cover it all up anyway.

Michael Clarke Duncan is menacing and scary as Kingpin and he just feels like one of those villains that’s so mentally and physically powerful, that no matter what happens to him, he always comes out on top. Colin Farrell is also fine as Bullseye because he’s also a victim of some pretty bad writing as well even though he’s definitely an actor that is able to cover it up a lot better than Garner. Sorry Ben, please don’t kick my ass.

Consensus: Daredevil has a dark and gritty tone to go along with it and action scenes that contain plenty of energy, but the script is written too poorly to be any different from any of the other superhero flicks, except the fact that the superhero himself is a blind dude. I also think that this is one of the very rare, superhero stories that could have at least benefited from an R-rating.

5/10=Rental!!

Phone Booth (2003)

Could have been perfect advertising for Boost Mobile.

Slick New York publicist Stuart Shepard (Colin Farrell) picks up a ringing receiver in a phone booth and is told that if he hangs up, he’ll be killed. Turns out Shephard is being watched by a rooftop killer with a sniper rifle — and the little red light from an infrared rifle sight is proof that the caller isn’t kidding.

Director Joel Schumacher is known for his duds (‘Batman & Robin’, ‘The Number 23‘) and his studs (‘Tigerland’, ‘Falling Down‘), however, what’s to happen if he has just a film that’s right in the middle of everything else. I can say that its probably better than what he released earlier this year.

The premise here is simple and could have easily been used wrong but somehow, Schumacher really does keep this plot moving and tension-filled the whole entire time. There are constant twists right at every corner of the story, and you don’t know what’s going to happen next or how each person is going to react and it just will really keep you going.

I think Schumacher’s best element with this film was how he keeps the camera constantly moving, and never lets loose. It’s all told in real-time and the film never steps away from Stuart and the phone booth which will give you this sort of “no way out” feel.

The voice of the bad boy is also a lot louder than everybody else around him and you constantly hear him, which I think is very truthful because when you are put into a situation like this, you only hear what the dude on the phone is saying and everybody else around you is sort of silent. I thought this added a lot to the film and to have Keifer Sutherland as the voice was just a perfect choice altogether, because that laugh is just so damn sinister!

The problem I think this film runs into is that it kind of loses focus as to what it wants to be and who exactly its trying to focus on. It felt like the movie was trying to show that we should all re-examine our lives because what we do everyday could be wrong to others, but to have that shown in a film where a guy has a sniper locked on a dude in a phone booth seems a little strange. Also, just because the guy apologizes and admits his wrong-doings doesn’t mean he’s naturally just a changed man, he’s just more honest.

Another problem with this film was that it’s focus was kind of on both of these two and it wasn’t necessarily well-executed to say. The film spends time basically trying to get us to empathize with b0th rather than with just one and this sort of divides us because we don’t know who to care for and who to not care for. There are signs that this killer isn’t a real bad dude and has reasons for these things that he does, but they are more or simply just left open, with nothing to really cover it in the end of the overall product.

Colin Farrell is the freakin’ man as Stuart in this film and I think this is what certified his star-power. Farrell starts off like a total hot-shot asshole that has no real compassion for the bad things that he does, and constantly tries to weasel his way out of the situation he’s in until he’s basically forced to come full-force with his mistakes and acts in anyway a normal human being would. Farrell controls himself with this film and doesn’t over-act it by any means at all, which is definitely something to applaud because I know so many other actors would have.

Consensus: The direction and acting is what keeps Phone Booth tense and entertaining, but the focus seems a little bit too divided and there isn’t much that this film really tries to answer by the end of the film either.

7/10=Rental!!

S.W.A.T. (2003)

Run, jump, hit, shoot, kill, bleed, boom. That’s what S.W.A.T. is all about.

This modern-day “S.W.A.T.” stars Colin Farrell as Jim Street, a Los Angeles cop who joins the department’s elite special weapons and tactics unit commandeered by Hondo (Samuel Jackson). They’re up against a drug lord (Olivier Martinez) who’s offering a million dollars to the first person who springs him from jail. Only the S.W.A.T. team can stop his plan.

Having actually watched the TV show, I knew what to expect, but I mean there could have even been more of what I expected really.

This is one of those films that doesn’t really have any intelligence whatsoever in it’s script but instead it’s just here for the crazy, big-budget, and insane action that it actually provides. However, the problem with this film is that the script doesn’t do anything different we haven’t seen before. I like how it doesn’t take itself too seriously but there were just too many moments where I got exactly what I’ve seen in so many other action thrillers.

However, the real fun of this film lies within it’s awesome action sequences that actually provided a lot more fun and excitement then I actually expected. There’s a couple of huge shoot-outs that go down, cars that go booom booom, and many cheesy one-liners but overall it’s a fun time with some good attention to detail that I wasn’t really expecting.

The cast is OK here but their not really anything special. Samuel L. Jackson does his usual bad-ass, black man role we all know and love him for; Colin Farrell is also good as Jim Street with a lot more of a tougher side to him than most would expect at first; Michelle Rodriguez is here to be the bad-ass chick; and LL Cool J is just the man, nothing else. They all have good chemistry together and all play off one another well which adds more humor to the film, even as cheesy as the lines may be.

The villain here is played by Olivier Martinez but I thought was a pretty lame choice considering they could have had such a better villain already in the film right from the get-go played by Jeremy Renner. The film seems like it’s going to have him pop-up later on in the film, which he does, but the film doesn’t make him the main bad guy which kind of sucks considering Martinez isn’t that good as the villain here and just seems even more lame once Renner pops up.

Consensus: The cheesiness is here and the obvious cliches we have all seen in these types of films show up as well, but S.W.A.T. is a fun B-movie that doesn’t try too hard for anything else other than a bunch of crazy explosions and cool one-dimensional characters.

5/10=Rental!!

Cassandra’s Dream (2007)

Why is Woody Allen getting so obsessed with death?

Howdie everybody! It’s the official beginning of school for me today and rather than actually getting too serious with my work, I’m still going to town at the reviews. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving you guys anytime soon.

Anywho, you know how the deal goes down, you check out my latest post on Boomtron, show me some love, comment, rate, or read and that’s basically how the cookie crumbles.

http://www.boomtron.com/2011/09/woody-allens-cassandras-dream-lacks-anything-that-stands-out/

Thanks peeps! Have a great Friday!