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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Freida Pinto

Knight of Cups (2016)

The life of a Hollywood writer is so tragic.

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

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

Why so sad? The beach is right behind you!

Why so sad? The beach is right behind you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See?!?

See?!?

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

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

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

But hey, this all just me.

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

7 / 10

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

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

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Immortals (2011)

Oooooooooh sooo shinnnyyy.

In Ancient Greece, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) searches for a powerful weapon that will free the bloodthirsty Titans and enable them to overpower the gods and enslave mankind. Unable to interfere directly, the gods choose a champion to defend them: Theseus (Henry Cavill). Theseus gathers a ragtag band of warriors, including priestess Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and slave Stavros (Stephen Dorff), to meet the challenge.

Director Tarsem Singh is not a dude I know very well when it comes to his films but from what I know they are beautiful. This is one of those cases here.

The great aspect Singh brings to this film is that everything here is filmed with these bright and vibrant colors that are mixed in with these sets. Some are CG and some are actually real, but either way, everything here just looks beautiful and filmed with this style that almost reminds me of a painting of some sorts that I would see on the ceiling of a church. Probably one of the best looking films of the year and another reason for me to actually go out there and look at this dudes movies.

However, as my 4th grade teacher would always tell me, “beauty is only skin-deep”, which is sadly the case for this film. The problem with this film is that the writing is so generic and lame that nothing seems to really stand-out other than the beautiful colors and ass-kicking action. These characters talk as if they were straight out of a ‘300‘ sequel and there’s no real emotional drive to this film that makes you root for these “people” as they go on and fight the big war.

Also, I never understood just what the hell was up Hyperion. Hyperion wants to wage this huge war on the Gods but he never has a big enough reason and when he does finally say it, I couldn’t take it as that seriously. It could have been fleshed out a bit more, through maybe a flashback here and there but instead was just left in the air. Oh yeah, the reason why he starts the war with the Gods is because his wife and kids die from a disease/sickness. Makes perfect sense, right?

There are also parts to this film where everything seems to drag on and on to the point of where you just want somebody to do something effin’ crazy. All of those epic and intense battle sequences you see from the trailers and everything, is here, but at the end of the film when the rest of it is just about these 3-5 people going after Hyperion. It’s not like the whole film is boring it’s just that the slow parts, seemed to drag on so much more because of the action being as great as it is.

Speaking of the action, it’s freakin’ awesome. Everything is shot so colorfully that the mix of blood and gore fully makes this film a fun treat, especially when the action starts to get bigger, louder, and a lot more epic. You don’t have the normal slow-mo sequences that almost every action director tries to do nowadays, which gives you time to enjoy all of the men spearing, beheading, pulverizing, impaling a whole lot more at a quick and fast pace. When the action happens, it’s fun, bloody, and stylish the problem is that it just happens after some very long periods of dragging.

The real spectacle this film is also trying to high-light is the big-screen U.S. debut of Henry Cavill who plays Theseus, and is also going to be playing Superman. He does what he can with this script and I think he really does have what it takes to be a great Superman because he just has that physically strong and heroish man look to him that will win anybody over.

Mickey Rourke is also having a lot of fun as the baddy, King Hyperion aka the guy who is eating something in almost every scene. It’s awesome to see Rourke having a fun time with a role that he could play for more and more decades to come. Stephen Dorff is good as the comic relief and kick-ass warrior, Stavros, and Freida Pinto is kind of mute and just not doing anything as the “virgin priestess”, Phaedra.

Consensus: Visionary director Tarsem Singh brings so many colorful, vibrant, beautiful, and larger-than-life sets to this film that it almost makes Immortals feel like some sort of dream filled with bloody and fun action, but also a lame script and long moments of boredom in between all of the slashing and killing.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

It’s everything that I thought the chimpacalypse would be..except with less poo throwing.

James Franco headlines the reboot of the immensely popular Planet of the Apes franchise, a prequel which boasts a story set in modern-day San Francisco, where scientists are conducting genetic research on apes. The evolved primates, including Caesar (Andy Serkis), develop advanced intelligence and revolt against being used as lab rats, unleashing a war for dominion over Earth.

Ever since Tim Burton made that film way back in 2001, everybody has been wanting the chimps back and now that they are, I really am so glad.

Something about this film that not many people will know from seeing the trailer that this is actually more of a story-based film rather crazy monkey action. The sweetness to this film takes a huge hold on your heart when you start to see Caesar grow up with Franco, his father, and everybody else around him and a lot of the things that happen aren’t as much as cute as they are just sweet and tug at the heart-strings well. They focus more on these character’s inter-action with one another and that’s what really worked for this film.

What’s funny too is that you’ll actually stand behind the apes as they fight together because you see why they are this way and you can’t really say you disagree with them after all. I thought the film was going to be one big chimp-invasion film where we watched almost every human die at the hands of these apes but without giving anything away, the people you want to die, actually do die while others just hang-out and get injure. Not much of a high death-rate here in this film which is a first in this whole summer blockbuster time.

Another great thing about this film is the amazing use of technology here and just how the special effects seem totally realistic while adding a lot more of realism to it as well. When I watched this, I felt like I saw actual apes up on screen doing all these crazy things and when the action starts to kick in by the end, it looks terribly real which is a lot of thanks to director Rupert Wyatt‘s idea of actually making cool action look cool without adding the extra dimension.

A problem I had with this film was that I felt like all the random references to the original franchise were actually cheesy and pretty lame. It showed that this film couldn’t really stand on it’s own toes as a re-boot itself so it just had to have a little reference here and there to the classic’s and show that it was related to the franchise in a way.

Another problem I had with this film was that it actually lacks what great science fiction should do, and that is to be an allegory or shine a light on a major cause. You don’t really get much else here other than a good story, good special effects, and a bunch of chimps going crazy but the real bummer was no real theme or message which makes it seem a bit disingenuous.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to buy James Franco here as Dr. Will Rodman, but I guess that PHD is working out well for him considering his performance here is good with a lot of heart and soul to a character that could have easily been another cliche. Freida Pinto is OK here as Franco’s girlyfriend; John Lithgow is very good as Franco’s father; and Tom Felton basically makes you want to beat his ass during every scene he has on screen. But the real show here is not even a human character.

Andy Serkis does that motion-capture performance he’s been doing for the past 11 years, but this time really shows off his talents as Caesar. There are so many emotions that goes through this character and we can tell each and every single little one mostly thanks to Serkis and his perfect ability to bring out these insane emotions through these special effects. There are times when you have no idea just what the hell is going to happen next with Caesar and that’s mostly thanks to Serkis’ wide range of almost voiceless acting that works insanely well here.

Consensus: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is more based on its story than the actual action that happens but it’s directed with great style from Wyatt, well-acted, especially from Andy Serkis, and despite a few flaws here and there we still have a great story that catches us by the heart-strings and keeps us going just about until the final shot.

8.5/10=Matinee!!