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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Goodfellas

Beyond the Sea (2004)

Yup. Still can’t get that song out of my head.

Despite being told that he would not live past 15 years of age due to a heart condition, Bobby Darin (Kevin Spacey) set out to leave his mark on show business, vowing to be a legend by 25. That is exactly what he did, and this is his story.

Is Bobby Darin a legend? Better yet, does there deserve to be a two-hour biopic made about him? To answer both questions, probably not. But that still doesn’t stop celebrities like Kevin Spacey from making movies about him, even if, at the end of the day, people will wonder, “why?”And yes, as is the case with most passion projects, Beyond the Sea feels like the kind of movie that probably didn’t need to made, but because it’s done by smart, dependable people, it’s not so bad.

I hope he sings that song about the sea!

I hope he sings that song about the sea!

Just a tad unnecessary, is all.

As writer/director/producer/star, Spacey has a lot to do and it’s surprising just how much effort he put into the way this thing moves. In a way, he wants to make a musical out of this flick, what with a bunch of wacky, wild, and fun dance-numbers taking place seemingly out of nowhere, but he also wants to make a warts-and-all biopic about this troubled celebrity’s life. Is it uneven? Yes. Is it messy? You betcha. But is it boring? Nope. Not really.

And honestly, that’s good enough for me, especially considering that mostly all musical biopics can be downright dull, regardless of whether or not you know the subject the movie is made about. But even so, there’s some glaring issues with the film, that seem to come directly from Spacey himself, in that he doesn’t always nail down the right tone. One of the best examples is a fight that Darin and his wife have, which plays out like a scene in a dark comedy, but ends up being very serious and mean with both of them ending up in tears. It’s a funny scene, that goes to being very strange and shows you that Spacey may have not had the right touch for certain scenes. Even when all of the dark drama does eventually come into the story, it somewhat bogs everything down and doesn’t even really seem interesting.

But if there’s the biggest issue with Spacey’s direction, it’s that, when all is said and done, we never really find out much about Darin himself. Sure, we know the guy has a heart problem, yes, we know the guy wants to be bigger than Sinatra, but what else is there? Occasionally, they’ll bring up the whole fact that he was apparently arrogant in real-life, but that rarely ever comes up or even shows. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any flaws of his pointed out throughout this film once. This isn’t me assuming that Darin was the devil in real life, but he sure as hell wasn’t no latter-day saint, either. Maybe because this was Spacey’s own way of paying tribute to a singer/songwriter he immortalized as a kid, but if you’re going to do a biopic, you might as well do it the right way and allow us to see the full picture.

I agree. What about John?

I agree. What about John?

After all, the more shades you show of a character, the more the audience is able to care for them when they, as Darin does, die.

As for Darin, he was only 37 when he died, so some people may be a bit thrown-off when they see Spacey, who was 44-years old at the time, playing a guy in his teens with tons and tons of prosthetic make-up. It’s goofy and sometimes distracting, but you know what? Spacey is somehow able to make it work by being as charismatic as he can be. Spacey has quite the knack for these darker roles where you just don’t like him, but at the same time, love that aspect about him. Here, you get to actually see him lighten-up some and let loose with a real life figure that seemed to go throughout life in such a frantic movement, that it’s hard not to enjoy and watch. Many will also be impressed that all of the songs are sung by Spacey himself, and the guy shows that he has the chops to not only direct, write, and star in his own movie, but the guy can freakin’ belt it out like no other as well.

Spacey’s got it all going for himself and watching him is worth the watch alone.

And yeah, others like Bob Hoskins, John Goodman, Sandra Dee, and Kate Bosworth all show up and give a little, but really, it’s Spacey’s show through and through. They know that, he knows that, everyone knows that. It’s a shame that it wasn’t more of Darin’s show, but honestly, did we need anything more than what we got? Or, can we assume that his life was the same as any other celebrity’s?

Who knows? Maybe there’s another Bobby Darin biopic out there looming on the horizon.

Consensus: Spacey does what he can to tool around the biopic narrative, allowing for Beyond the Sea to be a bit more interesting than the usual fare, but also seems to short Bobby Darin himself in not getting deep down to the root of who the person actually was.

6 / 10

Oh, that young whippersnapper. And Kevin Spacey.

Oh, that young whippersnapper. And Kevin Spacey.

Photos Courtesy of: Roger Ebert.com, IMDB, Movie-Roulette

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Gangster No. 1 (2000)

All gangsters are cool. Even the crazy ones.

Malcolm McDowell plays an unnamed Gangster who, through him, we’re being told this story. He finds out that his mentor, Freddie Mays (David Thewlis) is finally getting released from prison. This is when we’re brought back to the year, 1969, where he tells us the story of when he was a young gangster (Paul Bettany) and practically climbed through the ranks of the British mafia.

It seems like whenever a gangster flick comes out, they’re always unnecessarily compared to other, sometimes better gangster flicks that came before them. For instance, if one has a bit of humor in it, it’s often considered a rip-off of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. Or, if one is quick-as-lightning, it can be sometimes looked as a carbon copy of Goodfellas; and if there’s a flick that’s takes its time, and prefers more of the slow-burn approach, it’s then compared to the Godfather, no matter what. Basically, gangster flicks have it tough and it’s only made worse by the fact that it’s getting a whole lot harder to tell these kinds of stories in fun and fresh ways.

When does Malcolm McDowell not look pissed-off?

When does Malcolm McDowell not look pissed-off?

But what about a gangster flick that’s more like American Psycho?

Now, that’s something new, which is why Gangster No. 1 is a pleasant surprise.

Director Paul McGuigan deserves credit here because he doesn’t try to be like any other types of gangster flicks out there, nor does he over-do anything, either. There’s no hip soundtrack, nor are there any bits of wit to break-up the tension when things get too serious; it’s very straight-forward gangster movie. However, it is, in no way, a boring or conventional one; it’s a surprisingly ruthless piece that, once it gets going, starts spinning faster and faster, only until that wheel eventually breaks loose and becomes a wild ride where you have no idea where it’s going to end up and how. The story may not be as unpredictable as I may make it sound, but what really makes this film tick is the style (or lack thereof) of the violence in this film that no matter how gruesome or tense it got, it keeps you glued.

One scene in particular that stays clear in my mind is the one where “the Gangster”, finds a rival mob-boss, and slowly tortures him. Heard it done before? Of course, but there’s a surprising twist with it: It’s told in the victim’s view-point. It may sound gimmicky, but surprisingly it’s effective as every little piece of pain that gets inflicted onto him, almost feels like it’s getting inflicted onto us. The blood for that scene just shoots out everywhere, the camera is constantly moving rapidly, but yet, still stays on the violence happening, and there’s even a nice little pop tune playing in the back to remind us just how more sinister this piece of torture truly is. Anytime you have pop song in your violent movie, always make sure to play it during the most violent scene.

Always ironic. Always awesome.

And while that was just one scene in particular, the rest of the movie works because McGuigan doesn’t seem to try too hard to make this separate itself from the plenty other gangster flicks out there.

But if there was something here that bothered me, it was the narration from Malcolm McDowell, that honestly, was heard one too many times. At first, it didn’t seem like much of a problem because it placed us in the story and setting, but after awhile, it just became over-bearing and pointless to where it just seemed like half of the stuff he said was profanity. He even goes as far as to describe one scene while it was happening and it just seemed like over-kill and probably could have been done a lot better without really having to explain the needless things. Then again, they were probably just trying to put us in the mind of a psycho killer, which honestly, we kind of get the drift of after the first ten or so minutes.

Gangsters? Or Wanksters?

Gangsters? Or Wankers?

And before I forget to mention it, why the hell did everybody look the same with some nice make-up on after the 30 years, but Paul Bettany completely changes into McDowell. Everybody in this cast gets some fake, gray hair, a couple of wrinkles in their skin, and a very fragile voice, but the main Gangster is the only guy that gets fatter, has a bigger head, has a terrible five-o’-clock shadow, and is still yelling, pissing, and screamin’ all of these years later. Maybe people don’t change after 30 years and still stay their same old, crazy selves, but it seemed a bit unbelievable to me that after 30 years, these people would all still look and act the same, as well as holding the same, old grudges they held before.

Maybe I’m just not a true gangster.

Though it may not sound like I was happy with him doing anything here, McDowell is still quite solid in this role as the aging, but still vicious gangster. It’s obvious that they placed him in the role of an older, and much more crazier psycho (*cough cough* A Clockwork Orange *cough cough*), but he kicks ass with the role still and made me laugh whenever he seemed like he just felt like dropping the C-word for no good reason at all.

But it’s Paul Bettany, playing the younger version of him, who steals the whole show. Bettany has a lot to work with here because he gets to show a lot of evil and dark aspects to this guy, while also showing a lot what makes us love him so much in the first place. However, a lot of that lovely shite he usually has in those other flicks, isn’t as showy here and we get to see what he can do whenever he gets angry and just feels like gutting somebody up into little pieces. We’re never made to feel sympathy for this cat, which works; he’s not asking for that and that’s what makes him so much more bad-ass. Now, will somebody please give Paul Bettany one more leading role and just act like Priest doesn’t even exist.

Consensus: Without trying to be too flashy or shiny, Gangster No. 1 is still an effective, surprisingly fun gangster flick that puts us inside the mind of a psycho killer, and allows for Paul Bettany to work wonders with the meaty role as said psycho killer.

7.5 / 10 

Silent, but deadly. Yup. Obvious one, I know.

Silent, but deadly. Yup. Obvious one, I know.

Photos Courtesy of: Nick Tentis, Film4, Mubi 

A Prophet (2009)

Initiation in jail is just the same as initiation in frats. Except, in jail, you have to kill somebody. Then again, who knows about some frats.

Condemned to six years in prison, Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), part Arab, part Corsican, cannot read or write. Cornered by the leader of the Corsican gang currently ruling the prison, he is given a number of “missions” to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader’s confidence in the process, which also leads him to make his own way of business. And eventually, little Malik becomes big, bad Malik and before he knows it, ends up becoming the top dog in the prison. But, as usual, when one becomes the top dog, you always got to check every corner you turn down.

Prison movies – we’ve seen ’em all, we know what they do, and yet, they hardly ever get boring. That is exactly the way I felt going into this movie because I know that there is only so much one person can do with the whole prison movie subgenre, but somehow, co-writer/director Jacques Audiard found a way to do so.

"Pretty birds...."

“Pretty birds….”

And also make me want to really re-watch some Oz.

What’s so great about this film is how it draws you in right from the start. We don’t get any back-story, no flash-backs, or any type of reasons given for why this kid is in jail, and we don’t really need to; all we know is that he’s in jail, he’s a bad kid, and he’s going to have to survive for the next six years of being locked up. This whole introduction brings you right into the world/setting that you’re going to stuck with for the next two-and-a-half-hours and no matter how dirty, no matter how disgusting, and no matter how vile it may get, you just cannot look away. This is just one of those gritty tales that starts off strong, brings you into it’s atmosphere, and never lets go of you, even if it does try to stretch out its ambitions every once and awhile. However, in the end, this is your typical prison movie, just with an extra addition of grit.

The best way to sum this film up would be to call it a combination of Goodfellas and The Shawshank Redemption. The whole story revolves around this one kid who does anything that he can to just survive and live out his six-year sentence, but soon realizes that he has to be apart of a bunch of mobsters in order to do so. Meaning, he has yo do whatever he can to survive, which usually entails climbing the mobster-ladder, trying to make more money, trying to gain more respect, and most of all, trying to just stay alive in a prison that feels like hell on Earth. It all sounds so predictable, but it’s surprisingly not and features a character that we sympathize with early on and keep with, even if he does make some nasty, brutal decisions here and there.

But he feels real, and that’s mostly why he works and can mostly keep us in his corner practically the whole time. As soon as he’s thrown into prison, we see a young punk who is very scared of his surroundings and has no idea what to do, but then musters up the courage to start doing all of these monstrous actions to gain some respect in prison. He’s not the nicest kid actually; he’s greedy, he’s selfish, he’s a cold-blooded killer, and he doesn’t really think about others before himself, but for some odd reason, we always root for him and just want him to live on. That is probably the biggest strength of this movie and Audiard’s direction, it’s that we always feel sympathy for a kid that doesn’t seem like he even deserves it in the first place. This movie probably would have cracked and been less interesting, had it not been for the development done to him and for that, I gotta say, “Well-done, Frenchies!”

"Dammit! Sat on the ketchup packets again!"

“Dammit! Sat on the ketchup packets again!”

And of course, I also have to give plenty of credit to Tahar Rahim, who does quite an awesome job as Malik because the guy is called out to do a lot of things with this character, and he somehow makes it all work in a believable way. He goes from being this scared, sheltered little kid in a very big and mean place, to becoming a dirty, slimy, and brutal bastard that takes over the prison in a way that would seem unbelievable, had it been any other story and any other character. There’s also a lot of personality to this guy to where you can actually see why the film is mainly focused on him, and the whole story surrounds everything he does, whether it be good or bad.

As good as Rahim is though, the real scene-stealer of the whole movie just so happens to be Niels Arestrup as the prison-mafia kingpin, César Luciani, who takes Malik under his wing from the start. What surprised me so much about Arestrup is that this guy does not look any bit of intimidating; he’s stoutly, he’s in desperate need of a shave/shape-up, walks around like he’s got something in his pants, and in all honesty, looks like my pop-pop, if my pop-pop was homeless and an alcoholic. So basically, if you saw this guy walking down the street, you would not fear for your life one bit but somehow, Arestrup makes us feel that with his character in every scene he’s in. The guy obviously shows you that he has power and control in this prison and lets you know, early on, that he’s not messing around when he orders you to go kill some guy, and he makes sure you don’t forget who the boss of this prison is and if you double-cross him, you better hope to the heavens that you get the hole, and even that won’t save your life. It’s really strange to see Arestrup play such a manic-like role here, whereas in something like War Horse, he played this sympathetic, grand-pappy figure that seemed to cry a little too much the whole film. Even though this movie came out before that one, it’s still nice to see a change of pace for an actor that obviously seems like he could have a big career just playing any type of role he wanted.

Consensus: It’s a long one, but if you stick with it, A Prophet is not only worth your time and effort for the small spin it puts on the prison genre, but also because of the performances for these fully-detailed characters.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Not the line for the soup kitchen, fellas. Move it along.

Not the line for the soup kitchen, fellas. Move it along.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

The Family (2013)

Cause honestly, who hasn’t wanted to take a bat to the head of some Frenchies?

The Manzoni family were a powerful mob family from the streets of Brooklyn, that is, until the head of the family, Giovanni (Robert De Niro), ratted on some of his fellow mob-buddies. Now, every mob-syndicate within the a hundred-mile radius wants him, as well everybody else in the clan dead. However, they can’t find them because the family’s been shipped off to France, where they hide out under new names, new occupations, and are protected under the Witness Protection program, lead by Tom Quintiliani (Tommy Lee Jones). At first, they are total fish-out-of-water because the French don’t like their American ways and want nothing to do with their non-stop diets of hamburgers and cholesterol, but eventually, through some brute force, everybody eventually lightens-up and welcomes the family in with open arms. Problem is, the family can’t seem to get their stories straight and get caught up in a bit too many lies, making them even closer to being found-out and killed.

In case you peeps haven’t been reading this site over the past two days, I’ve been doing me a little research into the good old days of Luc Besson, and I’ve come to the realization that the guy had a certain flavor that he has yet to taste since the 90’s ended. He’s had some real stinkers in the past, and in the past decade no less, but it seems like all he needed was a way to get back to his roots in order for some sort of comeback, right? Mobsters, violence, and French people are the perfect recipe for that comeback, right?

"Did you just say that my American accent is thick? So help me!!"

“Did you just say that my American accent is thick? So help me!!”

Well, hate to say it, but not at all.

The problem Besson’s material hits early on, and stays that way for quite some time, is that it’s just not funny. Yes, maybe a couple of chuckles here and there at a funny-quip or piece of dialogue that hit only my funny-bone, only, but nothing really spectacular like the trailers seemed to have promised me. And it isn’t that I’m a miserable old-sack of potatoes that needs intellectual humor to really get me laughing and holding my gut, it’s more that I just need something to make me laugh, and this movie did not have that. Besson tries, and he tries, and he tries again to make this material pop and sizzle with all of the comedic-beats still intact, but to no avail.

Which makes it even harder to sit-through when you take into consideration just how much physical, disturbing acts of violence are played-up for laughs here, but just come off as strange. For instance, there’s this whole “running-gag” (I guess) that De Niro’s character has where he can’t stand to be around a person who may condescend to him in the least bit, without at least beating the ever loving shite out of them. He’s a mobster, who has been in the mobster-game for quite some time, so I guess it makes sense. Not funny, but it makes sense. Anyway, most of the scenes that feature him talking to somebody who ticks him off a bit, is later followed by a scene showing the after-math of the violent acts he bestowed onto them, including one memorable act where he drags a dude from the back of his car.  That’s right, he drags a dude, for what seems to be a very long distance, by the tail of his car. The dude’s all bloodied up, and looks as if he’s been through a cheese shredder, but you know, it’s funny, right?

Wrong!

And sadly, that’s how the whole film plays out. Jokes don’t land, and even when they do, they seem to become set-ups for terrible jokes that you didn’t want to see coming, and somehow hit you slap-dab in the face, and it just becomes a sort of disjointed affair. And don’t have me fooled here, I’m not saying you can have a dark comedy where the humor is hilarious, and the violence is gruesome, but there comes a certain line you just don’t cross, and Besson crossed it.

Which, I have to say, is very strange considering that the only REALLY good aspect about this flick that made me WANT to keep my eyes on the screen, was when Besson seemed to throw all of the joking and playfulness aside, and start to go back to his old ways with a gritty, threatening tone that would promise the killings of many, many characters. We’ve seen it in his brightest and best flicks, and it finally showed up here by the end and had me totally amped-up and ready-to-go for something that was considered “vintage-Besson”. However, once the violence actually got going and started to get very gruesome, Besson softened the blow up again, and went back to his goofy ways, making this less of a somewhat brutal thriller, and more of a crowd-pleaser. Boo on that idea, especially because I know Besson is capable of doing so much better when he just takes the gloves off and shows his bloody finger-prints.

She actually has to shop in a super-market now. What a change!

She actually has to shop in a super-market now. What a drastic change!

The same thing could be said for very talented actors like Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro, however, it seems like they may have finally given up on doing anything commendable in any way, shape or form. De Niro, as we all know, has moments of pure inspiration, and has his moments of pure insanity, and this falls in somewhere in between. The guy’s charming enough to enjoy while he’s on-screen, but you know he’s better and when the most memorable moment comes from a Goodfellas reference, then you can’t help but reminded of a simpler, better time when he used to choose good material, and not anything that came his way and paid the bills. Looking at you, Fockers.

The same can sort of be said for Pfeiffer, but sort of can’t. The reason I say that is because even though she hasn’t really been doing much as of late, she still seems like she’s a welcome-enough presence that I wouldn’t mind seeing again and again. Sure, her character can be a little stereotypical and annoying, but there’s just something so sincere and natural about the way Pfeiffer has her seem, that makes it easier for us to get used to her. The only reason I didn’t include Tommy Lee Jones in that list up-above is because the dude, within the past decade, has proven that he still is able to choose great material and not worry about the roof over his head. He’s a bore to watch here, but I didn’t care all that much, mainly because I know he’s probably got something better cooking in the oven. As for De Niro and Pfeiffer, I don’t really know and personally, if they’re going to keep on going at the rate that they’re going at, I don’t care. I’m a dick, but that’s just the way it is.

Consensus: What separates The Family from all of the other bad mobster, dark comedies out there is that you know everybody could be so much better if they just put a little more effort into the proceedings, regardless of if the material wasn’t there or was.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Zzzzzzzzzz......"

“Zzzzzzzzzz……”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Magic Mike (2012)

I think it’s time to reconsider my career options.

Veteran stripper Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) teaches a novice (Alex Pettyfer) about the occupation while seeking a lifestyle outside the world of stripping with the help of his protégé’s sister (Cody Horn). They work at the club Xquisite, which is owned by the former stripper Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).

I have to admit it, a “male stripper movie” is not necessarily aimed towards my demographic. Young, straight, sexy *cough cough*, male that prefers the men around him to keep their clothes on. But “male stripper movie” directed by Steven Soderbergh is right up my alley.

Yes, the same Steven Soderbergh that is known for such flicks like Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven, Out of Sight, and Contagion, amongst others, is now doing a flick where it focuses on the life-style where dudes take their clothes off, get half-naked, dance around, get dollar bills thrown at them, and give lamp-dances to some lucky ladies in the audience. Really frickin’ strange that Soderbergh somehow found cinematic inspiration in that idea but he pulls it off here, somewhere, somehow.

What I liked most about this flick is that it has the perfect style of a Soderbergh flick. The camera has a very distinct look to it where the night-life is full of exotic and wild colors coming from every end of the area, whereas the regular, everyday life is full of this grayish look that makes everything seem like the sun hasn’t come out for days and is just trapped behind this huge-ass cloud that won’t move. There’s also a couple of other cool camera tricks here as well where Soderbergh does a couple of neat static shots that make you feel like you’re right there. Come to think of it, other than the stripping scenes, he barely moves the camera at all and that’s what was really cool about Soderbergh is how he just allowed the story to do the talking itself and just kept his camera right there. Crazy how directors can put their own little stamps on anything they do and make it work, just as long as they aren’t getting in the way of anything.

However, this isn’t a film that’s all about Soderbergh’s verité style, it’s about the men and their clothes getting ripped off in front of hundreds and hundreds of horny women and that’s exactly what this film delivers! Woo-hoo! The first time we get a full show of what goes on with the actual show itself, is probably some of the most fun I’ve had at the movie theater in so damn long. Really, I never would have ever in my right mind thought that I would be having so much fun watching a bunch of dudes rip their clothes off, but I couldn’t help but feel the same excitement that every single one of the ladies around me felt as well. Now of course my excitement was a different kind of one compared to theirs, but whenever these guys came out and started dancing and doing their thing, a certain type of energy just came-out of this film and it was almost infectious.

I don’t know what got over me, or my good buddy Paulie that I saw this with (also young, straight, sexy, and a male), but every time these guys went out on-stage, a smile just went right on my face and I just enjoyed the hell out of myself. It also helped that the crowd I was with loved the sight of half-naked dudes running rampant all-over-the-stage as well so it created this vibe that made me feel like I was actually at a male strip-club with them, just watching the show. These scenes aren’t taking so seriously either and I caught myself laughing hysterically at what I was seeing with all of these shows. And when you have a director like Soderbergh, that’s something surprising because he could have easily made all of these specific scenes just come off as some of the most depressing things to ever grace the screen, but he lets it all roll and have a good time as if he was the club promoter himself. Who knows, maybe that’s what he does in his spare time. Actually, that would make him the busiest man in Hollywood considering he makes about 3 movies each year, so no, never mind about that claim.

But underneath all of the glitz and the glamour of this life that is shown, there is also a story that grounds it all out. Yes, the film does have a story that’s somewhat dramatic but it’s handled well and focuses on Mike as he tries to help this kid out with making it big and also try to do what he wants to do and get out of the stripping business. All sounds very cliched and predictable, which it does get after awhile, but the film handles this story with such emotional honesty that it’s hard not to fall for it and believe everything it’s throwing at you. Believe it or not, this story does actually get dark but not too dark, to the point of no return. It gets just dark enough to where it can eventually lift itself back-up with another lap-dance or two. Hey, can’t go wrong with that.

If there was one big problem I had with this flick that kept me away from giving it a 9, it was that the story does get very predictable by the end and doesn’t really tell us anything new we haven’t already seen from flicks that are just like this. A theme like having too much, too soon is shown in countless other flicks like Saturday Night Fever, Boogie Nights, Goodfellas, and even a lesser-known one, Middle Men, and it’s shown here with the same exact precision, and same exact results. Tried to be a cautionary tale, but in the end, it didn’t matter whether or not we got the message, we just wanted to have fun, which is exactly what we had.

2012 will probably go down in the books as the best year of Channing Tatum‘s life. Honestly, this guy has been kickin’ ass this whole year with Haywire (another film by Soderbergh), The Vow (I know I’m the minority on that one), 21 Jump Street, what was supposed to be G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and now this. This is basically Tatum’s story because it was based off of his experiences and what better person to play the lead, then the person who knows it best. Tatum is great in this role as Magic Mike because he plays up every single emotion we have ever seen him play, ever. He’s funny, he’s sad, he’s inspired, he’s horny, he’s drunk, he’s high, he’s mad, he’s happy, and most of all, he knows how to freakin’ dance. Holy shit man! I know that this kid could dance from his days in Step Up, but he really lets it all-out here and shows that he can not only back his good-looks up with some acting chops, but also some nice dance moves that will absolutely knock your socks off once you see what he pulls off. Seriously, I got frickin’ jealous. And that never happens because I know I’m in such a better shape than that chump will ever be in.

Playing his kinda-sorta love-interest, Cody Horn is alright here but she’s a little stiff with her line delivery as it seems like she doesn’t know what to say next to all of the shit Tatum says and actually does. Her character was also one of those stand-offish types of people that didn’t approve of something that one person did, so they continue to lecture them and try to show their disapproval for all that they do. Lame! Playing her little bro in this movie, Alex Pettyfer shows some real skill as an actor with a role that will hopefully get his name out there more than it did last year with bombs like I Am Number Four and Beastly. Sheesh!

But the one cast member that I couldn’t stop thinking about when this whole movie was over, was in fact, Matthew McConaughey playing the sleazy club owner, Dallas. Here’s the thing with McConaughey: he’s talented, has great comic delivery, looks great, and knows how to act whenever a flick needs him to. The problem is, he always gets himself stuck in the same, old rom-com roles that do nothing for him other than make him look like an utter fool. Thankfully, he’s back in full-action with his role here and shows that he can do it all. He totally plays up that party-boy act we all know and love him for, but there’s also something very dark deep-down inside of all of it, a darkness that actually gets shown more and more as the film progresses. This is great to see McConaughey go through with this character because whenever he’s funny and having a good time, he made me laugh my ass off, but whenever he got mad and you could tell his character meant business, I got scared shitless, wondering just what the hell he was going to do next. That’s how great this role is for him and he plays it up all so perfectly. So perfectly, that he may even come by with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor come around February of 2013. But that’s a stretch, I know.

Oh, and for all of you wrestling fans out there, Kevin Nash is also up in this bitch playing a huge male-stripper that goes by the name of Tarzan. Have no idea why the hell he’s in this, but at least he’s getting some line of work.

Consensus: Even though the story may get predictable by the end, Magic Mike is still a flick that has fun with its premise and fills it with sleaze, humor, raunch, glitz, glamour, great performances from the cast, and plenty of memorable stripping sequences that will surely have you inspired to go out there and try and work that pole like no other. Then again, maybe not.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Middle Men (2010)

Goodfellas; if instead of mobsters, they had naked chicks.

After spotting a big financial opportunity in the future of Internet pornography, straightlaced entrepreneur Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) enlists his pals Buck (Gabriel Macht) and Wayne (Giovanni Ribisi) to help him develop an online billing company specializing in adult entertainment. But as the firm takes off, Jack finds some unexpected kinks in the business of kink — including mobsters, the FBI, con men and terrorists.

Internet porn is something everybody uses, especially in today’s world but it’s funny to see how when internet came about and everything, that porn wasn’t the first thing on everybody’s mind for it.

The best aspect to Middle Men right away is it’s script which really does work. While the script isn’t as quick-witted as some films about a major technology breakthrough like The Social Network, the film still moves at a good pace with enough clever lines of dialogue following each other well. Also, in a time where so many movies want to be about sex and violence but don’t really have the guts to follow through with it, the writing on Middle Men has an edge that keeps it exciting throughout all the laughs.

The problem with this film that it seems a lot of others had was that you may find it the same exact formula that was used in such films as Boogie Nights and Goodfellas, but for me, the formula worked here. The story moved well and it didn’t really leave out any details about what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. The narration from Wilson may seem a bit annoying at first because it does pop-up about every 30 seconds but I thought actually helped turn the plot and keep the naughty bits of this film going. The soundtrack is also bangin’ because songs that you haven’t heard in awhile come out of nowhere here and bring you back to a time like this film portrays.

My problem with this film that I actually had was that some of it feels a lot duller than other parts of the film and by the end for some reason, it becomes more of a suspense film rather than an actual tale of how internet porn all came to be. I get that this is an actual true story, but for some reason it just played like a bad suspense thriller that I already knew how was going to end so therefore all the mystery was lost.

Another problem with the film is that we see Wilson’s character in the beginning as this wholesome, nice-guy Texas family-man but he soon changes as he gets himself caught up in business with these two morons and for a reason why he changed, was not explained. This character transition of character made his character seemed disjointed and unexplained and what the real problem here is that the film tries to show this character in a slimy light, and positive light. For some reason, either way didn’t really work out.

Luke Wilson is here as Jack Harris, who (finally!) lives up to his potential as a leading man, which we haven’t really seen since Bottle Rocket. He brings humility and likability to a ‘smartest-guy-in-the-room’ character that makes you identify with Jack Harris’ succumbing to the chaos surrounding him and  root for him to get out of it. His character may kind of have problems but Wilson knows how to keep this character likable and actually believable.

Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht are OK together as the two moron-savant programmers but nothing really special. They actually started to annoy me by the end of the film because their constant rambling and over-acting didn’t seem funny anymore, as much as it was just trying too hard for laughs. James Caan is brilliant with his turn as the shyster Las Vegas lawyer, Jerry Haggerty. The rest of the cast is backed up by good performances and cameos from the likes of Terry Crews, Kevin Pollack, Kelsey Grammar, and Laura Ramsey.

Consensus: Some of it is a bit messy, and a bit disjointed, but Middle Men also features some very good writing that gives us great detail about internet porn, while still providing good performances from the whole cast, especially Luke Wilson who shows that he can handle a film well too.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Blow (2001)

Proof that Johnny Depp can do anything, and it’ll always be cool.

Johnny Depp plays real-life coke smuggler George Jung, who rises from poverty to become one of the biggest drug dealers in America before his eventual downfall.

One of the things about this movie, is that right from the beginning, you start to think of this movie as Boogie Nights, or Goodfellas, for that matter. However, it would be wrong to compare it to both, considering their all different, they just share the same love of coke.

Coke is a terrible thing we have in this world. People do it, people get addicted, and then they die. But I have always been interested in seeing how it got in to our country in the first place, and this film shows us the rusty beginnings. We follow George through his whole life basically, as he goes from one drug dealer, to another, to another, and it’s all so entertaining. We see all these different people, some real, some fake, but it’s all great cause were there along for the ride.

The screenplay is filled with some good humor, as well as some true insight, on how these people feel about business, drugs, and the world. But it’s not just all about the fun in this movie, it’s also about the harsh reality that is the drug world. We see these people destroy lives of others, as well as themselves, and it’s a harsh reality because they always get themselves stuck in the same stupid situations. It’s more sad, then it is riveting, because they can’t escape it, cause they make all this money with drugs, and when that’s over, they got nowhere else to go, so they go right back to the drugs.

There are moments in this film that are glorious, especially by the end, where you really do feel emotionally attached to the story, but there are just other moments where it’s too messy. I feel like with this film, they were trying to give us so much, in big heavy doses, to the point of where, we were just kind of like whatever to it. I wish some parts were toned down, for the story’s sake, but those moments are blown out of the water, by some very good scenes here.

Johnny Depp once again is just perfect here as George Jung. Depp uses his charm, wit, and overall coolness about him, that keeps us attached to this character, and watching. Jung may be a bit full of himself, but I still felt attached to him by the end of the film, and he’s just a very sad character. Penelope Cruz is also good here, playing his crazy wife, that brings so much to her scenes. Ray Liotta is also very good, and him and Depp, have some very good scenes together, that add a lot more emotion to the story. I thought it was funny that Rachel Griffiths was in this movie playing Depp’s mom, considering she’s about 7 years younger than Depp in real life, but it’s all good, cause she’s good, at being a naggy bitch of a mother. Also, let’s not forget the man Paul Reubens, who is terrific, as well as hilarious, as Derek Foreal, a very feminine drug deal.

Consensus: It’s a bit messy at points, but Blow delivers on providing an interesting story, with a smart, as well as true screenplay, and an amazing performance from the Johnny Depp.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Date Night (2010)

I hope my dates never turn out to be this way.

Who knew simple dinner reservations under a different name could turn one New Jersey couple’s date night so terribly upside-down? Claire (Tina Fey) and Phil (Steve Carell) Foster leave their kids with the sitter (Leighton Meester) and head out for a night on the town — as the Tripplehorns. Shawn Levy (Just Married, Night at the Museum) directs this action-comedy; Mark Wahlberg and James Franco co-star.

The plot itself, takes after many other one-night extravaganza films like After Hours, and American Graffiti, but the one thing I can say about this movie is that I laughed, oh I laughed a lot.

I think everybody knows the main reason as to why I laughed so much, and that’s those two people on the right: Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Both are hilarious and very believable as a couple that hasn’t been this wild in so very very long, just like I haven’t laughed in so very very long. I like it when Carell is in roles like this, where he’s not some eccentric off-beat character, but instead he’s a real guy that you can connect to even though he is totally silly. Fey as usual is also hilarious, but taking away that crappy ass woman from Baby Momma, and spicing her up a whole bunch into someone that’s actually hilarious and believable. Their chemistry is just perfect, and each of them feed off each other, with plenty of ad-libs for the ride.

Along the way there are also funny little cameos from plenty of who’s who in Hollywood. Plenty of jokes are centered at Common, and how could you not, just looking at that guy act is a joke. James Franco doing his usual zany character bit from Pineapple Express. While Mark Wahlberg: dead-panned, sexified, and fantastic are the only three ways I can describe this man. Oh yeah, and there’s also a random ass cameo from of course, the Italian mobster stereotype, Ray Liotta. Gotta love that guy, its been 20 years since Goodfellas, and he still can’t get past the Henry Hill role.

The problem with the film is that we have seen this kind of film before. I also feel like the PG-13 rating could have brought the film a lot more up, but rather than being terribly raunchy, the film goes for the teen/adult appeal.

Consensus: Though its plot is familiar, Date Night blends a great deal of action with hilarious humor, that wouldn’t have been the same if it were not for Fey, Carell, and countless others in cameo roles.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Martin Scorsese, doing period pieces??

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Newland Archer, a well-bred New Yorker engaged to an appropriate match: cultured May Welland (Winona Ryder). But when her alluring cousin, Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), comes along, Archer puts society’s mores to the test.

Martin Scorsese is most known for directing all the violent gangster epics, and places this film in New York, but in the 1870s, where the violence isn’t physical, its psychological.

Scorsese’s direction is what really wins this film over, because unlike many other period pieces, this does not get very boring. The film isn’t lightning quick fast like Goodfellas, or Mean Streets, but it still has that fairly mild pacing that keeps our eyes glued to the screen. There is also plenty of great things to look at, with many vibrant colors coming into one scene, and then another, showing this world as if it were a rainbow, with so many dirty little secrets inside, not to quote the All American Rejects. Scorsese shows that with this film he can not just make films about people getting whacked, but more poignant stories about love and tranquility.

But really no film would be anything without a great script, and that is surprisingly what this film has. There are a lot of stereotypes that period pieces have, about everybody in the film being all goody goody rich S.O.B’s, but that’s what Scorsese knocks down, and shows differently. His script is very well-written showing how all these people hide behind their lies, and act as if nothing is wrong, and what if somebody was to go against that? Would it be wrong to do, or would it be just the right thing? The film hits the nail on the head, right when it comes to this forbidden love and actually showing these two people as human beings, who have a need for love in their life, rather than just money, and being spoiled. We really get a sense and feel for this love triangle, and you don’t get that much nowadays. We always get car chases, gun battles, and over-the-top fist fights, but never this much pain, and feeling it.

The main problem I had with this film was although its still a nice departure from Scorsese’s gangster flicks, it still doesn’t seem like this is the kind of movie he wants to make. I think what he was trying to do was take a departure from his recent violent films, and try something a little different and see where it goes from there. When you watch Goodfellas you can tell there is a lot of inspiration going on behind the camera, right here, ehh not so much. Don’t get me wrong the film is good, its just that in ways, it could have been better with a different director, who isn’t used to all this blood and gore.

Daniel Day-Lewis as usual is very good here and gives off a performance that not many know, because of the second time Scorsese and him collaborated on was in 2002 with Gangs of New York.

What happens when you do too many period pieces.

He is not only effective, just because of the emotion he shows, but also the fact that his character does a total change in the middle of the movie, and you can believe it. Pfeiffer is very powerful in her performance showing a huge great deal of star-quality, with her wise/old character, but proves that age doesn’t mean a thing, when you can show emotion like her. Day-Lewis and her show a lot of good chemistry, especially when their both not trying to caught together. Ryder is also surprisingly very good here, and its actually a real shocker. The screenplay has her character out to be a one-note sucker for Day-Lewis’ character, but instead she brings plenty of believable emotion into the character, and makes her a better character with that emotion she gives off.

Consensus: Though Scorsese’s heart is not behind this material such as others like Goodfellas or Mean Streets, The Age of Innocence is still a nice departure from those gangster flicks, with a pitch-perfect screenplay, lush visuals, and great performances from the cast.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Casino (1995)

One of Scorsese’s best, and most underrated.

Martin Scorsese draws on Nicholas Pileggi’s book about Las Vegas in the 1970s and ’80s as inspiration for his tale contrasting the city’s glamorous exterior with its sordid interior fueled by excess — and the mob. Against this backdrop, the story chronicles the rise and fall of a casino owner with mob connections (Robert De Niro), his friend and Mafia underboss (Joe Pesci) and an ex-prostitute with expensive taste and a driving will (Sharon Stone).

Upon a first viewing, you would think of it as a companion piece to Goodfellas, mostly cause its about the mob, and De Niro and Pesci are mobsters in both.

The thing with Scorsese and this film is that he is one of those directors that has a vision, and just goes for it whether or not people like it. The film is fast, featuring the over-the-top narration that could almost be viewed as a docudrama. It moves on so quick and fast that its so hard not to lose track of the time, because what you think has been 20 minutes into the movie, is just the first 10. The film is written in such a way, that most of it is given to characters, and getting inside the business of the mob, so you know exactly how everything is handled in this business. You feel like you’re sitting across the table from an ex-casino manager as he tells stories and random facts about how things in Vegas really were.

The problem with this film, and it was kind of a problem for me just a bit, was that the film didn’t break too much grounds. It does a little bit what Goodfellas did 5 years earlier. You have the excessive violence, realistic screenplay, look inside the mob, and even narration from its main character, that all Goodfellas has. I don’t think with this film that Scorsese brought out any new points to make about the mob cause he did already make them earlier, and that is what causes this film to get barely any recognition.

The acting in here is what makes this film, the best. De Niro plays the character we all love him as, he goes through so many emotions as this guy that we can see how realistic his character really is. Pesci is also great playing the hard-boiled little guy that we all love and know him for. The scenes with them two are just great, cause you can see the chemistry these two have, and how good they are is just one sight to see the most. Sharon Stone also give the knockout performance in this movie bringing a lot of heart, but by the end more havoc, and she goes through this whole transformation as a character, and it seems believable rather than just made for story purposes.

Consensus: Casino doesn’t break any new grounds mostly due to Goodfellas, but is still a fast-paced information mobster flick, with a terrific direction from Scorsese, and memorable performances by the trio of leads.

9.5/10=Fulll Pricee!!!

Dances with Wolves (1990)

They usually call me this on Saturday nights, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Wounded Civil War soldier John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) tries to commit suicide — and becomes a hero instead. As a reward, he’s assigned to his dream post, a remote junction on the Western frontier, and soon makes unlikely friends with the local Sioux tribe.

Basically this film has always been on mind, and for the reason because it beat out Goodfellas for the 1990 Best picture Oscar. However, I can’t say that it wasn’t a close fight.

While watching this film I found myself entranced with emotions I always feel when watching movies, utter beauty and emotional. The film is not just an Epic Western of this mans survival and communication with the Natives, but also has a great message about the relation between two different cultures, as in the white man and the Native.

The film is not only starring Costner but it is his directorial debut, and what a debut it is. Costner knows exactly how to film this movie with all his knowledge of this tribe the film is less and less stereotypical. In films we usually see the Natives talking like “how” and thats all they say, but Costner basically makes half of the film is in the Lakota language, and is all subtitled. He take a lot of drastic and daring steps here to make this film amazing and I can say that he succeeds. The film treats its subject with generosity and makes these Indians seem more than what we see from any other movie of this subject.

The film also has some of the best looking territory ever as well. There are images and sights in this film that are just great. This setting of 1860s rural South is just beautiful because of the way its filmed, and the most simplist of scenes, look even better cause of the setting. Also, the little things such as the score is just so enchanting that the emotions that come out of this music makes you feel it even more.

The film does have its problems though, that can be pointed out. It is a Western but doesn’t add anything new to the genre other than the fact it is just features less action and gun fights. Also, the film categorizes the broadly villainous Union soldier characters, which in my mind wasn’t very original. And in a film that seemed so touching about who’s right and who’s wrong.

The acting here is what makes this film utterly phenomenal. Costner anchors this film, and when for the most part its only him on-screen he is so believable and so great to watch that I couldn’t see anybody else playing this role. Almost everybody in this film gives a great performance but the side performances from two special ones are the best and anchor the film. Mary McDonnell plays the only other white person in the tribe, and hasn’t spoken English in about 15 years, and is forced to speak it again. She handles it like reality, because she doesn’t get right back in the mode to speaking it, and still stutters, and doesn’t understand the language fully, and has some great touching scenes with Costner. Graham Greene who plays the Sioux chief is even better and has some great scenes with him and Costner, where he is actually highlighting the screen every time hes on it.

I feel bad for Dances with Wolves because honestly now that I look at it, it doesn’t get its rep. it should. Yeah, it beat out Goodfellas but you have to look at it, they are two completely different movies and this one in all honesty, had a lot more of an emotional connection to it. Also, two other films that I have reviewed (Avatar, The Last Samurai), all have basically stolen this idea of guy changes cultures and becomes entranced with it. Honestly, they were good films but now that I see, the story really doesn’t relie on originality, mostly on who can do a better similar story to Dances with Wolves without being too close.

Consensus: Dances with Wolves has its fair faults, but ultimately is anchored by the great performances, inspired and authentic directing debut from Costner, and featuring themes that add on to a story of how beautiful and touching two different cultures can be.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!!

Shutter Island (2010)

Basically Scorsese can do it all!

Director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio re-team for this taut adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel about Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), a U.S. marshal who searches for an escaped psychiatric patient on a mysterious remote island in the wake of a hurricane.

For any person who has loved all of Scorsese fast-talking, slickly directed, mobster films, well don’t look here at all for that type of movie. This is not your usual Goodfellas or The Departed, look more to Kubrick, and basically Scorsese makes a run for it.

The trailers will have you think that this movie is a straight-up horror fest, when really it isn’t. A lot of the elements from Christopher Nolan films are all here with these mind-bending psychological elements, and Scorsese does not let up once. He uses some great set pieces such as this deserted island where you feel almost nothing is explained, and a very claustrophobic place to be. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat cause throughout the whole movie things will pop up every once and awhile, and you will have no idea what’s going on but you can’t take your eyes off it.

Shutter Island is pretty confusing until the finale (basically from Why are you all wet, baby? to the end). Its pieced together slowly and is a combination of Teddy’s memories, hallucinations, and whats actually occurring in reality. The way it unfolds is kind of like trying to solve a Rubix Cube. It takes time and a little bit of effort, but is well worth it in the end. Shutter Island is a film that makes you think. Remember that going in.

The one problem I had with the film is that there were a lot of dream sequences that were just meant to bend your mind, and I think a lot of these went on for a bit too long. The graphic detail didn’t bother me but these dream sequences didn’t seem to mean very much other than just being utterly creepy and different.

Leo as usual is great here and plays this character Teddy with such great authenticity and realism, its so easy to cheer him on. But the supporting cast of Mark Ruffalo, Jackie Earle Haley, and mostly Ben Kingsley give great side performances where you don’t know if these people are real or fake and they do a great job at not giving too much away in their performances.

Consensus: Not one of Scorsese’s best but certainly is his most different piece of work, that is pieced together so well, with great performances from the cast, and mostly a fearless direction from Scorsese, who doesn’t shy away once from his grim material.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Cop Land (1997)

I highly doubt any of these guys would be cops at all.

When a local patrolman is implicated in a controversial shooting in a small New Jersey town, put-upon sheriff Freddy Heflin teams up with Lt. Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) to investigate a connection between the mob and the NYPD officers who live in the town. Sylvester Stallone delivers a dramatic performance in this arresting crime thriller as Freddy. Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta also star.

Cop Land is a cop drama that is filled with a lot of those cliches that always rid every single cop film like this. The us vs them mentality, dirty cops, and most of all down-on-his luck cop. I mean I have seen this story plenty and plenty of times, and I just wish a bit more was added on to this film to make its story seem more and more fresh.

But the real reason for seeing this film is its rich plot. The story has plenty of twists and turns that actually keep you interested. The film doesn’t try to act like Goodfellas or The Godfather with its mob tie-ins, it more of acts like itself with some really nice set-up suspenseful scenes.

I liked how the film didn’t just try to show one story and just leave it at that. No, it had all these three exciting stories all having to do something with crime and justice, and putting them all together at the end. It actually felt like three NYPD Blues episodes put into one long film but it didn’t feel like a TV show and actually had a lot of depth added to it.

Sylvester Stallone totally gets rid of his macho action star look that he has done for so long in this rare but effective dramatic role. He gives this down-and-out cop we have seen time and time again, but adds an extra dimension to this character as we understand who he used to be and who he is now. The only problem I had with this huge ensemble cast is that not all of them were quite used as well as Stallone. I mean each does get a considerable amount of screen-time, but they aren’t as focused on as Stallone and I would have liked to see more of these characters lives instead of just one part of them.

The problem with this film by the end actually kind of killed the momentum it had going for it. I think the ending as predictable as it was, should have been made in a different far more realistic way. I mean its very very sappy, and doesn’t quite feel right in the film.

Consensus: Cop Land has its obvious cliches and bad ending, but features a fun and interesting story, backed by an effective dramatic performance from Stallone, but not enough time was given to the others in my opinion.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Rounders (1998)

Texas Hold ’em is such a fun ass game, but also deadly.

Fueled by his penchant for high-stakes gambling, law student Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) befriends and “befoes” a fellow gambling addict named Worm (Edward Norton) and club owner Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). But tensions run high when Worm and Mike have only five days to come up with $15K.

Now I do enjoy playing poker, especially the game Texas Hold ’em. So when I saw this film and the way all these strategies were used I was very surprised by how first-rate it actually was with the whole element of poker playing.

The film feels more like its a sports movie rather than a drama with poker elements. I was thinking about like a Rocky type film when I was watching this as how it ends with a big fight, when in this case ends with a big poker game.

I think the bad problem for this film is that it seems a bit too harmful for people who watch this, and are looking for careers. This film sort of highlights the gambling world as something awesome and fun to be apart of as long as your winning. This didn’t bother me as much, but I never understood why this dangerous life was all of a sudden a great and bright thing to do.

By the end of the film a lot more of this starts to seem a lot more predictable than what I was imagining by the third act. Some parts of this movie I have seen countless times before. Elements of gangster films like Goodfellas can be found here, and obviously sports film cliches can be found as well.

The one element that Rounders mostly benefits from is its great characters and the performances. Damon, plays this average Joe who gets taken back into the life he once was great with, and plays that side very effectively. The best character in the film has to be from the amazing Edward Norton who never seems to fail at everything he does. He is a trouble maker, but at the same time also a likable guy who is very colorful at points that you can’t hate him even though he is kind of a bad dude.

Consensus: Though a bit predictable, Rounders is packed with colorful performances and a lot of energy to make this film a joyful ride.

8/10=Matinee!!

State of Grace (1990)

Irish vs. Italians, nothing like it better.

Terry Noonan (Sean Penn), an Irish-American undercover cop working the Hell’s Kitchen beat, returns to his old neighborhood under the guise of reconnecting with friends Frankie and Jackie Flannery (Ed Harris and Gary Oldman), now leaders of an Irish mob family. Noonan’s actually been assigned to infiltrate the family and take them down — a task made all the harder when he renews his childhood romance with Kathleen Flannery (Robin Wright).

State Of Grace is a mobster flick that came out in 1990, along with other big-time Gangster flicks Godfather: Part III, Goodfellas, and Miller’ Crossing. This film never really stepped out in the light because of these others, but it is probably what makes it the most underrated.

The films look and appeal is just what makes it great. This look of Hell’s Kitchen in 1990, is just perfect, and it feels like a character itself, with all these thugs and bad guys inhabiting it.

The story is what is really rich however. You have Penn who grew up with all these guys, and he has so much loyalty to all of them, but he has to take them down but is torn between the loyalty of family, and his old lover. The film does show this and how at times Penn can’t even stand seeing all his friends go down, and him being put up to blame for it.

The writing is a bit of a bummer though. It isn’t as catchy, and as realistic as plenty of other mob films, and I felt like they were just saying this stuff to sound like mobsters. The difference between this film and Goodfellas, is that Goodfellas takes a straight-forward look at the life of gangsters with its very realistic dialogue, and this takes a sort of romantic look at the life of gangsters and just wants to sound like one.

In the end of the film, something really got me confused. I can’t really say anything to give too much away, but there is a huge shoot-out, in the number of gunshots that conveniently miss people, especially since these are all supposed to be tough, gun-savvy mobsters.

This acting here from the cast is very top-notched. Penn delivers another young, and strong performance as a man torn apart. But the best here is Gary Oldman, as Jackie. At first his look with the wrinkled down hair, I was expecting another one of those cheesy, gritty performances, when really what I got was one of the most heart-felt performances from anyone in the entire film. You really do understand this character for what he is, and not something he just looks to be like I did in the beginning. Ed Harris does that big bad guy look way too much in this film, and I really didn’t feel his anger come out in the performance.

Consensus: State Of Grace is a superbly acted mobster film with some great shots of New York, and an interesting story, just a lot more flawed than one of the best of 1990, Goodfellas.

8/10=Matinee!!!!!!