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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Felder Charbonnet

99 Homes (2015)

Don’t ever trust a landlord.

As soon as the crash of 2008 occurred, everyone in the United States was left without a paddle. One such person was Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a single father who, after much fighting and arguing with the court, gets evicted from his Orlando home. Seeing that he has lost his family-home, Nash sets out to do whatever he can to get it back – even if that means having to join up and work for the same man who kicked him out of his house to begin with: real estate broker Rick Carver (Michael Shannon). Carver has certain practices that aren’t what some would call “ethical”, or better yet, “legal”, but the money’s so good that Nash doesn’t care. Eventually though, Nash begins to move up the ladder, which takes him away from working on the homes, and brings him now to actually having to interact with the tenants who are in the actual homes. This mostly involves Nash posting notices on doors, warning tenants of being vacated, and, as time rolls on, even having to kick some tenants on his own. Clearly this is something that Nash doesn’t feel comfortable with, but once again, it’s all about the money and the prospect of getting his family back in order to the way they once were.

Message!

So message-y!

Have you ever been stuck in a lecture at all in your life, whether it be with your parents, a teacher, or one of those Jesus-nuts from off the street, and not want to leave? Instead, you hold on to every single word that they say, even though you know the end-point? You know that they’re not going to start off by stating something like, “Gay marriage is bad”, and then end with, “Well, you know, you can do what you want.” The lecture is, most definitely, going to start with an agenda, continue on with that agenda, and, you guessed it, end with that same agenda. And yet, something about the lecture is just keeping you on your toes and surprisingly interested.

That’s how I felt with 99 Homes – a long lecture about the housing crisis and all the evil-doers behind it, yet, I never wanted to turn away or leave.

Eventually, that time did come around, but that’s not till later, so just wait dammit! Listen to me lecture about stuff now!

For one, Ramin Bahrani seems to know what he’s talking about here. Clearly, he’s put his heart and soul into material that, for a good majority of people out there, will not find an easy way to handle. It will, most likely, hit too close to home, hard, and re-open old wounds that were probably still healing. However, Bahrani seems to be interested in what these wounds still hold. Are they sadness? Are they grief? Or, are they wishes that something better occurred?

Well, 99 Homes is, in a way, that fantasy being played-out. One thing is certain about the movie, and that’s that it’s not totally a drama. I mean, yes, it’s most definitely a drama that’s emotional, sad, and for a good portion, filled with lots of interesting talking-points, but in all honesty, is really a thriller. Once we see Garfield’s Dennis Nash start picking up work as one of Shannon’s Rick Carver’s lackeys, then it’s balls to the walls from there. This Nash fella is taking away pools, air-conditioners and handing out eviction notices to people who have no clue just what the hell kind of storm has hit them dead-on in the face. While, at the same time, he’s making all of this money and seeming to be loving it.

Sure, he’s morally-conflicted by the fact that the person he’s getting rich off of, is the very same person who got him kicked out of his house, but because the money’s continuing to come in and the dreams seem promising, he lets it all slide by. And you know what? It’s hard to watch this and not want him to, either. Dennis Nash, as he’s presented to us, is nothing more than just your average, blue-collar dude who, like many others just like him, was short-shifted when the crash of 2008 came around and had no idea of what to do next with his life, his family, or his career. All he knew was what he was good at and tried to go where the money went.

That’s why, when we see Nash get thrown out of his house, it’s disturbing and visceral. Many people had to go through the same ordeal he’s going through and it was most definitely 100% more tragic to them. And that’s why, when we see that Nash is clearly pleased with himself making all of this cash money, it’s great to see him happy and enjoying himself. After all, he’s just a normal dude who isn’t under normal circumstances, so why continue to act normal? Why not try something new and go with that from there?

"When you said, 'movie with Spider-Man,' I thought you meant Tobey Maguire! Who's this damn kid!"

“When you said, ‘movie with Spider-Man,’ I thought you meant Tobey Maguire! Who’s this damn kid!”

Clearly, Rahmin Bahrani thinks this is a bad idea. However, his movie proves otherwise.

Bahrani has crafted a nice little thriller that takes you through everything one may need to know about the housing-crash, how it was operated, who was responsible, and those who were affected the most. But at the center of it all, is probably the most realistic character of the bunch, who also seems to be the most sinister: Michael Shannon’s Rick Carver. There’s no denying the fact that Michael Shannon’s a good actor, but here, as Rick Carver, he gets to stretch his wings a whole lot more and show, that even despite his character being a pretty despicable human specimen, there’s still something we want to watch and see more of him.

We know that he’s a baddie, but we also know that he, like many others, are just trying to get by with what he knows and what he’s best at. But what’s best about Carver is that he doesn’t try to make any excuses or apologies for the way he is – he just is. For instance, there’s a scene in the middle of the film where Carver laces into this tirade about how, “America was built on winners. Not losers.” It’s not just hard to take your eyes off of him because it’s literally just a single-shot, zooming in on his face, but also, because some of what Shannon is spouting on about is true. You may not want to believe it as being such, but it is and it makes this movie feel like a smart bit of preaching, rather than just preaching for the sake of it.

And don’t let me forget Andrew Garfield, because the man is great here! What with him being forced to play Peter Parker, it’s hard to remember that, at one time, Garfield was a very promising, young, and talented actor that seemed primed and ready for some very interesting material to come his way. Now with Spidey out of his way, Garfield seems like he’s enjoying some time being able to dig deep into characters that aren’t the kind you’d expect someone of his good-looks to play; you know, such as a middle-aged, middle-class single-father.

However, as good as Garfield may be, his character sadly falls prey to an ending that, honestly, came close to ruining the movie for me.

I won’t spoil much, other than to say that it felt like Bahrani, throughout a good majority of 99 Homes, was making a movie that wasn’t going to play it nice, sweet and kind, and instead, go for the gritty-realism that’s expected of source material such as this. However, he does the bait-and-switch and decides that maybe he wants some melodrama, messages, and red herrings thrown into the mix. I’ve already said too much, but just know, when the ending comes around, it may disappoint you more than please.

That may just be me, though.

Consensus: 99 Homes is a timely-thriller that gets by on the excellent performances, however, is a bit short-shifted by a weak ending that keeps it away from being a whole lot better.

8 / 10

Big houses. Big cars. Big women. The life of a real estate agent, yo.

Big houses. Big cars. Big women. The life of a real estate agent, yo.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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The Loft (2015)

Stay loyal, fellas. No matter how hard it gets.

Five married men, who all share a loft that they casually take hot, younger women who aren’t their wives, back to to wine, dine and then bang, all stumble upon a huge surprise when they find a girl dead in their place. The blame game begins when it’s revealed that she was Vincent (Karl Urban)’s girl, although, once push comes to shove, the fingers begin pointing to Chris (James Marsden), who everybody believes had some sort of hand in this, whether he meant to or not. Either way though, all five of these dudes have no clue what to do and through the constant thinking, deciding and game-planning, they start to paint a broader portrait of what happened, who is responsible, and what the next best step is to do. They sure as hell know they don’t want to get any cops involved; because once they do, so do then their wives and subsequent families. Basically, it’s all up to these guys to figure things out, but once each other’s dirty laundry starts airing out, none of them may be able to make it out unscathed, married, or better yet, alive.

Since it wrapped up filming in 2011, the Loft has been on the release-bubble and it makes perfect sense. Not only is the movie pretty crummy, but the source material, that’s apparently adapted from a Belgian film of the same name, is very harsh and almost, dare I say it, offensive. Which isn’t to say that movies that offend others aren’t supposed to be made, they’re just supposed to be handled in a way that allows for all sides of the story to have their say and meaning when all is said and done. However, at the end of the day for the Loft, we have a bunch of sleazy, horned-up married-men who realize the costs they take when they start sleeping around, and yet, still go about it anyway because, well, I don’t know, really.

Somebody just realized that he needs new friends.

The face of someone who just realized that he needs new friends.

Bitches be cray?

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you, and I don’t think this movie can either. And that’s definitely it’s biggest problem; the cast of characters are strong, recognizable, and well-acted, but these characters are just so dirty and unlikable, that there’s a slight feeling that you not only want their wives to find out, but to also have them jailed so that they learn their lesson the hard way. Sounds a bit extreme and harsh, I know, but the way the character’s are written and made-out to be, it’s hard to think any other way.

Take, for instance, the character of Chris, played by the always charming James Marsden. Chris is, as you’d expect, a typical middle-aged husband – he’s bored, unsatisfied and chock full of hormones that are just waiting to be released in any sort of sexual manner possible. Problem is, his wife is a tad bit crazy and doesn’t give him all the pleasure he needs. It makes sense why he would want to go start banging whatever hot, young thing he can find next; it doesn’t make it right, but it at least serves some sort of purpose, rather than, “Hey, what can he say? He’s horny.”

So then, Chris does eventually finish the deed of having sex with someone who isn’t his wife, and automatically, we’re made to feel sorry for him. Not his wife who, understandably, is on the strange side and paranoid, to say the least, is getting cheated on, right behind her back. No, it’s Chris, the one dude who cheated, screwed around, and was upset to find out that the girl he had sex with was paid to do so in the first place, who is the one we’re made to feel sorry for.

Same goes for the character of Vincent, played by a stern, yet dull, Karl Urban. Vincent has a bit more back-story to him here that I won’t spoil for any of you possible viewers, but I’ll leave it at this – he’s easily the sleaziest, most despicable member of the group, and yet, we’re still supposed to feel some shred of sadness for when it comes close to blowing back in his face. In all honesty, I have no idea why we’re supposed to feel sorry for any of these guys at all, let alone Vincent or Chris; they all know what they’re getting themselves into, understand the rules, regulations, and circumstances, and yet, still go out, party, bang, snort, drink, and live it up as if they’re young, twenty-something swingers.

We’re not supposed to like them, but somebody forgot to tell the people behind this movie that.

A dude's dream. Hopefully, minus the blood, death and all that.

A dude’s dream. Hopefully, minus the blood, death and all that.

But honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg with this movie, because while it’s hard to care for any of them, there is something of an interesting mystery at the center that works well for, I don’t know, the first-half or so. Once it’s revealed to us that these guys don’t have any clue what happened, who was behind it all, and what they’re supposed to do next, the movie keeps us in the dark as much as possible and it’s quite interesting. Once the flashbacks come into play and we’re given more light into these guys’ past, both together and apart, it becomes apparent that clearly somebody’s more of a “baddie” than the rest and that’s where it begins to lose some sort of focus. Because, honestly, they’re all baddies, but I guess just one is worse than the others.

However, the movie starts to go off the rails by the last-half, where we are constantly getting twist after twist thrown at us, without any of them ever landing or making much sense. One character is apparently something of a psycho that can’t help his sexual-tendencies, which makes him do evil, terrible things to those around him and none of it ever rings true. It almost seems like the director and writers got bored with whatever they were doing, didn’t want to wrap things up too quickly or nicely, so instead, added a serial-killer, for shits and gigs.

Cause, you know, nothing’s funner than a serial-killer who loves taking advantage of women.

Consensus: With unlikable characters that hardly shed any bit of sympathy, the Loft becomes an aimless, uninteresting study in people we don’t care about, and an even less-interesting murder-mystery that starts somewhere, but ends absolutely nowhere.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

Hint: Dude with glasses. Just saying.

Hint: Dude with glasses. Just saying.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz