Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Gwyneth Paltrow

Two Lovers (2008)

It all comes down to choices. Really, really hot choices.

After his broken engagement left him cold, crazy, and very disoriented, photographer Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) moves in with his parents in Brighton Beach, where he spends most of his days working for his parent’s dry-cleaning service and trying to drown himself in lakes. Both of his parents know that he’s still going through a rough time, so they don’t want to push him too hard, but they also want him to be happy and feel loved, which is why they set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), a sweet Jewish girl who also happens to Leonard’s father’s co-worker. They appear to be a fine match, even if Leonard himself is so closed-off, but then he meets his neighbor Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), who absolutely takes his world by storm. But by becoming involved with her, Leonard also realizes that she’s got a lot of baggage to her, too, and Leonard’s not sure whether he wants to stick with that and risk all of the luxury in the world, or play it safe and appease his parents with Sandra.

Baby Goop?

Choosing between Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw, man, what a terrible predicament, right?

Obviously, I kid, but seriously, just looking at this plot from afar, it’s hard to care at all; the three involved in this love-triangle of sorts are all hot, attractive people, who don’t know who they want to marry and spend the rest of their lives with. It sounds so terribly boring and nauseating, but writer/director James Gray knows how to frame this story in a way to where it’s not only interesting to watch play-out, but after awhile, we start to feel the same sort of love-torn and sad emotions that everyone else here practically feels. It’s no surprise, either, because mostly all of Gray’s movies work well as mood-pieces, but Two Lovers may be his most impressive, where he takes a relatively simple tale of two possible love-stories and finds a way to make them both sweet, heartfelt, and awfully depressing.

But still, somehow, Gray finds a way to make it all work. All the movies leading up to Two Lovers, for Gray, happened to be packed with action, violence, incest, and Shakespearean-twists out the wazoo, which is probably why something like this was such a breath of fresh air, as stern and as serious as it may be. Still, it’s interesting to see a lot of what Gray does well in all of his other movies, still works well in Two Lovers – it’s just that everything and everyone is so muted, you hardly even notice anything’s actually happening.

And yeah, it’s kind of beautiful.

Or, Vinnie Shaw? (I don’t think she has a sort of nickname so let’s just roll with that, shall we?)

In a way, Two Lovers is a lot like watching real-life happen before our very own eyes, where we see two love stories unfold, as well as the people themselves. Gray never gets in the way of the material and always allows for the actors to speak for themselves and help develop the characters over time, which is why a good portion of the movie feels like a really small, intimate and cuddly stage-play, where people are going to express their feelings for the whole world to see. But it’s not nearly as melodramatic as that, which helps the movie in the long-run; it always feels honest, raw, gritty, and believable, no matter where the story sometimes leads.

And of course, the performances are pretty great, too. It’s wonderful to see Joaquin Phoenix in such a solid role, where he not only gets to play someone resembling a normal dude – with obvious weird quirks here and there – but also a charming dude all the same, too. So often when we see Phoenix now, we know, love and expect him as the wild and insane guy who will literally go anywhere and do anything for a role, but believe it or not, when he wants to be, he can be quite a likable presence on the screen and have us feel some sort of love for him, too. It helps that this Leonard fella is already a strong character to begin with, but Phoenix finds smart, surprising ways to flesh him out to where he’s more than just a confused sad-sack, but a confused thirty-something trying to get on with his life, but just doesn’t know how.

Meaning, he’s like you or I, so it’s way more interesting.

The two ladies that Phoenix has to choose between, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw, are both pretty good, too, giving us reasons why he should choose one over the other. But honestly, the movie isn’t really about “will he, won’t he” – it’s more about him finding a way to make himself happy and get past this deep bit of sadness in his life. The movie never tries to make one lady seem better than the other, nor does it have to; Paltrow is lovely to watch, as well as is Shaw, and both have great chemistry with Phoenix that I could have watched for days-on-end. But the movie isn’t all about who he goes home with at the end of the day and even when we do get to that point, it’s surprising and a little sad, but totally and rightfully earned.

Man. Why can’t more romance-flicks be like this?

Consensus: With three stellar performances and an interesting eye to romance, Two Lovers is more than just a conventional tale of two girls battling for the love of one man, and more about a man trying to figure himself out, and the ladies who just so happen to be near-by when it’s all happening.

8.5 / 10

Cheers to the winner!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz


Mortdecai (2015)

Funny ‘staches, get it?

Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is an eccentric British chap who likes fine women, fine drinks, fine food, fine cars, and most importantly, fine art. So much so, that it’s actually gotten him and his luscious wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) into a bit of debt; $8 million dollars in debt, to be exact, but that’s neither here nor there. What’s most important now is that Charlie and his trustee, self-proclaimed “man servant”, Jock Strapp (Paul Bettany), track down a piece of stolen art, so that they don’t get nabbed by the MI5 agent (Ewan McGregor) for any wrongdoings that they may, or may not have been up to. However, what turns out as a simple case, gets so convoluted that nearly all of the enemies in Charlie’s life, which are many, start showing up out of nowhere – not to just gather a debt from Charlie, but possibly extract some vicious revenge for any wrongdoings he may have brought their way. It may seem all bad for Charlie, but because of ever-dashing wit and charm, he seems to look on the bright side of things, or something.

The joke here is Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The joke here is Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It’s interesting to note that at one point, believe it or not, Johnny Depp was actually targeted for the role of Monsieur Gustave H. in the Grand Budapest Hotel; the same role that would eventually be taken up by Ralph Fiennes. Looking back, it’s easy to see why Depp was considered for this lead role, as Depp’s certain exuberance with most roles that he tackles, seems to fit in with Wes Anderson’s world, for better and for worse. Though it’s hard to say whether or not Depp would have actually made Hotel better, the fact remains that it still would have been an interesting choice for him to take, especially considering all of the random, and sometimes inexplicably poorly-directed, dribble he’s been appearing in as of late. Save for maybe a slight cameo here and there, overall, Depp’s film choices as of late have not been anything spectacular.

And Mortdecai, as you may have already seen, is no exception.

But it’s rather strange that most of Mortdecai feels as if it is trying oh so very hard to be such a Wes Anderson movie, that it’s easy to believe that this could possibly had been Depp’s chance to take one under his belt and give it a go; although, to be fair, this would have to be a Wes Anderson movie that Anderson himself did not want to make and more or less was asleep through half of the proceedings. Director David Koepp shoots this with as much color, whimsy and slap-dash as you’d expect Wes Anderson to have created, however, there’s something missing here that most of Anderson’s movies seems to contain: Some kind of heart. Oh, and laughs, too. That’s a very, VERY big factor.

It makes sense why Koepp is going for here with this movie – in a way, he’s trying to create a silly, screwball-ish comedy ripped-out directly from the 60’s, and into the modern day and age for a new audience that may be able to appreciate what his parents were appreciating way back when. It doesn’t work, but for the first 15 minutes or so, it’s quite effective that it only took until I saw a modern-day, pro wrestling match between WWE wrestlers Sheamus and the Big Show, that I fully realized that this was not only taking place in a certain time period, but that the time period was actually the 21st century. Hiding when exactly this story’s taking place isn’t a neat conceit, as much as it’s just a lazy way of trying to throw your audience for a loop, seemingly because it’s all you’ve got.

And in the case of Depp and Koepp, in what’s their second team-up since Secret Window, there’s really not much for the audience to get a firm grip on, so any distractions that they can throw our way necessary is all that they want to do. Maybe less so in the case of Koepp, because while his film doesn’t have its funny bone working at all, nor does it seem to realize that there’s more to life than just testicle-gags, he seems to at least dress this movie nice and handsomely enough that it’s fine to look at. It’s even enjoyable to listen to, so long as nobody’s speaking or trying to make us laugh, because it never works.

But nope, I have to say that most of the problems to be found within this movie, and the one who seems to be trying so utterly and desperately hard to distract us is Johnny Depp – an actor who, I think we can all agree on, was one of the most talented, exciting talents working in mainstream Hollywood. Nowadays, it seems as though Depp has become nothing more than just a parody of his own-self, where he produces certain films that give him the leading-role, while also allowing for him to stretch his funny-wings as far as he can, even if th

The joke here is boobs.

The joke here is boobs.

ey are beyond their initial-reach. That’s not to say that Depp isn’t funny; the man definitely has a talent for making many normal circumstances seem all the more zany because of what he brings to the table, but here, as Charlie Mortdecai, it’s so obvious that’s he really going for it here, that it makes you uncomfortable.

Sort of like that uncle you don’t see too often, who constantly tells the story about how you peed yourself when you were over his house and rather than understanding it’s a story nobody wants to hear repeated when they’re 35-years-old, married, and with kids, he still persists on going through with it because, well, what the hell, it gets a few giggles out of the surrounding crowd. The difference between the sad and lonely uncle I’ve just described and Johnny Depp, is that maybe, in the off-chance that the uncle has bribed somebody beforehand, people are actually laughing along with said uncle. As for Depp, he’s the only one laughing. And giggling. And sneezing. And cavorting. And whizzing. And, well, you get it.

Depp’s doing a lot here, and while I give him kudos for at least trying his damn-near hardest, it gets to become downright annoying after awhile. The only ones who actually make some way for comedy are the ones surrounding him, and even they have hardly anything to work with. Paul Bettany plays Mortdecai’s “man-servant” (get it, cause it’s kind of referencing gay-stuff), who has a running-gag that he can’t keep it in his pants and is constantly banging random girls, that is, whenever Mortdecai himself is not accidentally injuring him; Gwyneth Paltrow, despite being absolutely despised by practically everybody with a computer and/or Twitter, is actually quite charming in movies still and it’s nice to see her bring some life to an otherwise forgettable character; same goes for Ewan McGregor who, with his character’s gimmick that he fawns after Mortdecai’s wife’s every move, brings some much-needed wit and spark; and Jeff Goldblum, god bless his heart, shows up for maybe five minutes and does nothing. Absolutely nothing.

God, now I really want to watch a Wes Anderson movie.

Consensus: Not only is Mortdecai unfunny, but it also highlights something of a career-low in Johnny Depp’s filmography where he’s taken it upon himself to be the center of attention and never let us forget that he wants to make us laugh, or happy, by any degrading means possible.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

The joke here is mustache, because well of course.

The joke here is mustache, because well of course.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Best way to coax your family into loving you again? Fake your death. It’s working for Andy.

The Tenenbaums aren’t your ordinary family, but then again, they don’t pretend to be either. The hierarchy of this family is Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) who isn’t necessarily the nicest, most up-front, or responsible guy in the world; in fact, he’s kind of an ass. This is why (or from what we know of) he gets kicked out his own house by his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston), leaving behind his three children – the adopted oldest Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow); the over-achieving; ambitious middle-son Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller); and the relative-favorite of Royal’s, Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson). For years, Royal doesn’t speak to them or see them at all, which leaves them to grow-up full of angst, disappointment and all sorts of mistakes that make them resent him a whole lot more. However, Royal wants to change all of that as soon as he can once he realizes that he might just be dying of cancer, and is given six weeks to live. Though his kids and even his wife, have all moved on with their lives, they somehow find their way back into the house they all once lived in, which is where all of the various ego’s and heads start to clash.

He may be too old for some shit, but slaying white women isn't one of them.

He may be too old for some shit, but slaying white women isn’t one of them.

It’s pretty known among fans of him, that if you’re able to get past all of Wes Anderson’s various quirks and just accept his style for what it is, then you can actually find there’s a lot more rewarding-features to what he does. Not just with a story, or in the way he puts so much effort into the look, but to the actual characters he has in the story, as miserable and as unlikable as they sometimes can be. But I like to think of the characters he creates, as not just being considered “unlikable” or even “loathsome”, but maybe just “human”, with all of the nasty, dirty features added-on that we don’t always want to see or be reminded of actually being capable of having. Maybe it works for me and has me go to bed easier at night, but that’s always my advice to anybody who wants to watch one of his movies, especially the Royal Tenenbaums – aka, my long-time favorite of his.

I could start this review off pretty obvious and just start diving into Anderson’s sense-of-style, but I think I’ve done that more times than I ought to. Instead, I’m just going to dive right into what makes this movie kick, push and feel: The characters. Wes Anderson, although he doesn’t always look too fondly at the world, or those around him, definitely appreciates the people he places into the world of his own. It’s small, contained, quirky, heartbreaking, funny and full of all sorts of spontaneity that even the most hyper-active person may not be able to handle. That’s why the characters he creates and invites to be apart of this world of his own creation, aren’t just ones we have to pay attention to, but are filled to the inner-core with all sorts of small, tiny moments where we see them for all that they are, and who it is that they show the others around them as being.

The perfect example of this would definitely have to be Royal Tenenbaum himself, played with perfection by Gene Hackman. We’ve all seen Hackman play an asshole in a movie before, but here, as Royal, he really gets the chance to stretch that image of his own making and give us a glimpse inside the life of a man who realizes that he’s just too lonely to carry-on in this life without anybody around him any longer. Well, that, and the fact that he’s gotten kicked out of his apartment, may have him thinking of his family as well, but the fact remains that he now knows what it is that he wants with his life, and that’s just to remind those around him that he not only loves them, but wants to actually be with them for once in his life. He may not always say, or do the right things; hell, more often than not, his actions are quite reprehensible to say the least. But once we see Royal for the man he wants to be and clearly wasn’t for the most part of his life, you can’t help but want him to be happy and be loved by those around him, even if they can’t quite bring themselves to having that feeling for him. Instead, they’re more content with just being “fine” towards him; but so is he, so no problems whatsoever.

But what makes Royal such a lovable guy, is that Anderson knows he isn’t perfect and definitely deserves to have life slap him in the face a couple of times, but also doesn’t forget to let him have those small moments of victory where everything in his life that’s possible, seems to be working out for him. Same goes for everybody else in this movie though, as you can tell that Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson, really did put all of their efforts into making each and every character somebody worth remembering, or caring about, especially once emotions, as well as tears, are shed.

Even the character of Etheline, who could have easily been an angry, vengeful ex-wife, ends up being a woman that not only loves her family, but also wants to be able to move past all of the problems they’ve faced in the past (which in this case, there are plenty of ’em). Also, the same could be said for Henry Sherman, the guy who wants to marry Etheline, who does show various bouts of jealousy on more than a few occasions, but also doesn’t want to lose the lady he loves, especially not to a swindler like Royal. But, like I said, he’s still a guy that’s backed-up by plenty of human-emotion, that never ceases to show itself in some hilarious, yet brutally honest ways.

I guess in this case, we can all make an exception for incest.

I guess in this case, we can all make an exception for incest.

And that’s mainly where Anderson’s writing really comes to perfection. Not only is the guy hilarious with many of the deadpan, over-the-top one-liners he has his characters deliver, but he makes them seem so damn serious and down-trodden, that you can’t help but laugh at them. They are all human beings, yes, but ones that may take themselves a bit too seriously, despite being absolutely surrounded by all sorts of light, vibrant and pretty colors. That’s why a character like Eli Cash, played wonderfully and ever-so charmingly by the aforementioned Owen Wilson, sticks out amongst a group of sad-faces like Margot, Richie and Chas. Doesn’t make them any less likable or anything, because Anderson appreciates their sadness towards life and all of the perks that come along with it; and even when they do smile, or laugh, or decide to just let life’s wonders work its magic on them, it doesn’t just surprise us, but makes us happy that they themselves are actually happy as well. It makes us feel all the more closer to them and gives this story an extra oomph of emotion, that so clearly comes into play by the end.

Even when you do think that Anderson is going to get too big for his britches and get almost too dark with the possibility of suicide, he somehow comes out on-top, showing us that life, despite all of the heartbreak to be found, is still worth living, mainly due to the company you surround yourself. I mean, sure, Margot may rarely ever crack a smile, and the only time she does is when she’s around the man she loves, her brother Richie (although they do claim, on various occasions, “they aren’t related by blood”). Yeah, sure, Chas may never seem to live his life with a sign of hope or happiness, despite being surrounded by a bunch of people that do love him. And yeah, sure, Richie may look at life with a frown, despite not really having an understandable reason to. But what all of these characters have in common, isn’t just that they are apart of the same family, it’s that they have lives they don’t feel too gracious of having and most of the time, take it all for granted. However, once they realize that everything with life isn’t as bad as they unreasonably make it out to be, or that there are people with worse conditions in their life, then they can’t help but shut up, move on and crack a grin or two.

Those moments are mainly when Anderson shines the most, as well as the brightest. Making this family one you can’t help but love, although you can still take note of them being a dysfunctional bunch. Although, I for one have definitely seen worse. Just saying.

Consensus: Wes Anderson’s sense of characterization is what really makes the Royal Tenenbaums a heartfelt, hilarious, lovable and near-perfect delight to sit-through, although you never lose the sense that these are people, and not just characters written completely and totally for-the-screen. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get my drift.

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

Who doesn't remember the days when grand-pop used to take them on trips on the back of a garbage-truck?

Who doesn’t remember the days when grand-pop used to take them on trips on the back of a garbage-truck?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Thanks For Sharing (2013)

If I was a sex addict and Gwyneth Paltrow wanted to bang me, do I really have to say “no”? Can’t I at least get one pass or something?

Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is a sex addict who’s been that way for quite some time and finds it a step-by-step process everyday. That means no jerking off, porn, television, internet, nothing. He can’t even have girlfriends, and if he can, he doesn’t really find them coming his way due to his lack of sex. However, when the fun and vibrant Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) comes strolling through, Adam’s stuck with the challenge of staying true to his intentions guide-lines, while also pleasuring her in the best ways possible, even if that does mean sexual. However, this isn’t just all about Adam’s recovery, it’s also about two other dudes that join him on a day-to-day basis in meetings and getting through recovery as well. Mike (Tim Robbins) is still trying to live with the fact that he’s gotten his wife (Joely Richardson) through a sexually-transmitted disease, while also trying to build back the relationship with his son (Patrick Fugit), whereas Neil (Josh Gad) doesn’t take this “recovery” as serious, and begins to find himself in some trouble with the law if he doesn’t partner-up with somebody and get help from them.

I know that sex addiction is a real problem that people in this world struggle with, day in and day out, but I can’t feel like the media establishes it as something of a joke. Anytime you ever hear of a celebrity get caught cheating (mainly a male), the excuse is always being a sex addict, and everybody hears it as fact, not thinking that that said celebrity who just caught philandering around, wasn’t just a sleeze-ball. Makes you think about all of those REAL people out there, who are REALLY going through with this problem with sex addiction, but so be it. That’s how the media’s always going to portray it, and there’s no sense in me bitching about it.

"I swear honey! It was my sister posting some funny pictures of her half-naked, in a bikini, on Facebook. Like it's my feed! I can't help it!"

“I swear honey! It was my sister posting some funny pictures of her half-naked, in a bikini, on Facebook. Like it’s my feed! I can’t help it!”

However, what I can bitch about is this movie, and its portrayal of that same sex addiction that’s so prevalent in so many people’s lives out there, which feels like it’s respectable, but isn’t doing it much justice either. What I did like about this film right off the bat was how it showed that going through a recovery is a joint-group effort that isn’t done through one lonely person, it’s done through everyone that that person reaches out to and asks for help. Hell, sometimes those people don’t even reach out for a lending hand, sometimes it just comes to them. It’s basic, pure instinct and I think that’s what I liked so much about this movie’s message.

Whenever we see any movie about addiction (sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.) we always see one person, sad, lonely, wanting love and help, but never getting it. However, with this movie, we see a group of people having to deal with this problem everyday of their lives, and trying their best to get through it all, in one piece and their right mind-set still intact. Makes you feel all warm, cozy, and happy inside, knowing that whatever it is that you’re going through, you aren’t alone in it.

But then again though, the message can be a bit hokey if you think about the actual addiction itself: Sex addiction. it’s not a pretty thing, and if Shame is any indication to the sorts of limits it will drive a person to, you can be sure as hell certain that if you become one, you’re going to be fucked (literally, and figuratively). That’s why, although I liked how the film showed its group of addicts going through this problem together, at the end of the day, it feels too wholesome and clean for something that can be so dirty, raunchy, and downright nasty. Then again, I’m just basing this all off of my own opinions of what sex addiction is, and what Shame presented to me, so if I’m wrong, please do let me know.

Though it’s not even the whole “feel-good” vibe that surrounds most of this movie that bothered me, it was more that the tone was just so off and never able to find its own groove. Moments that seem like they should be funny in an over-sexxed, over-the-top way, end up being a little sadder than they should be; and the scenes that are supposed to be all melodramatic and serious, sort of come off as a bit corny. The movie never really knows what it wants to be, so instead, it just sets itself somewhere in the middle of a light-hearted comedy, and dark, addiction melodrama, with bits and pieces of motivation thrown in there for good measure. It bothered me more than I expected it to, and really took away from the important message at the center of it all that I’ve already alluded to more times than I probably should have. You get what I’m saying though. No reason to reiterate.

The only way this movie is saved in any way, is through its ensemble that work their rumps off with the mediocre script they were so sadly given. Mark Ruffalo is good as Adam, however, the only reason the character’s any ounce of interesting, is because Ruffalo makes him that way. We never really get much information on his past, why he is the way he is now, and whether or not that had any effect on his love life back in the day. We don’t even get mentions to it, which made it somewhat feel like this character was just thrown in and used as the lead character because Ruffalo’s a more than capable actor. Poor guy, deserves so much better. And hell, I could probably say the same thing about Gwyneth Paltrow who, for what it’s worth, is actually very good and fun to watch on screen. In fact, I’d say that the chemistry between her and Ruffalo is so good, that I probably would have not had a problem with seeing them in their own movie, with or without the sex addict-angle. They’re fun, light, jumpy, and bring out the best in one another.

Yeah, cause you want a haircut from THIS.

Yeah, cause you want a haircut from THIS.

Somewhere, Tony Stark is blowing steam out of his ears.

Tim Robbins is also pretty good in one of his best roles in awhile as Mike, the older, more seasoned guy that’s been down this addict road many of times, understands what it can do to one person, and how it affects the ones you love. Robbins is good, even if his character’s interactions with Adam can be a bit awkward, especially since it seems like they’re on the verge of making-out almost every time they’re together. Even Mike’s son makes a reference to that, and leaves them both shocked and upset, but seriously, if only they saw the way they were hand-shaking. Some seriously “unbroish” stuff going on there, man.

Josh Gad is, once again, playing that obnoxious, over-weight, Jewish, creepy dude that can’t seem to ever get laid for the life of him, but yet, still tries to do so. Gad’s good at it, don’t get me wrong, I just wish people would throw more roles his way that weren’t so one-note, and maybe a bit more humane. However, I have to give him and Alecia Moore, aka Pink, a lot of credit for handling their chemistry so well, and making it seem like they really could be besties, even under the circumstances presented in front of them. Good for them, and good for her, because’s she actually pretty good as an actress. Makes me forget all about that annoying “So What” song that every girl in grade-school sang at the top of her lungs! God, grade-school, such an eternity ago.

Consensus: The message behind Thanks For Sharing may be a little lighter than what you’re used to with most movies about addiction, and for that reason, it’s tone is very off, even if the cast does what they can to keep it all together without having it fall apart.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Secretly, he's thinking of Mark. Hence the "from behind" action.

Secretly, he’s thinking of Mark. Hence the “from behind” action.

Photo’s Credit to:

Iron Man 3 (2013)

At least he’s on the wagon now.

After the wild events that took place in New York with Gods of Thunders and worm-holes and such, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has found himself in a bit of a crisis. Not only is he constantly reminded of what occurred, but he can’t seem to get any sleep and continually works on his hobby: building and building shit. It doesn’t matter what it is or what it could do, the fact is that he’s building shit, losing sleep, losing the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and losing what it means to be a superhero. However, an evil terrorist by the name of Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), might just change that feeling in the pit of his stomach and have him realize what it was about him that made him Iron Man in the first place.

Since the Avengers came, saw, and conquered the world last Summer, it seemed only right that Marvel would unleash it’s brand-new bag and go back to where it all started: Iron Man, or if you really want to be legit about it: Tony Stark. Without the first movie coming out in 2008 and taking over like it did, who knows just what the hell Marvel might have done not just with their fellow, other superheros, but in general as well. But from what we’ve all seen and what we do know is that Tony Stark is the go-to guy for when you need a compelling movie, and Iron Man is a pretty bad-ass superhero, even if he doesn’t have a big hammer. I still think that’s one of the all-time best weapons in superhero history. By far.

The first piece of curiosity that sprang through my mind when I initially heard of this movie happening, was the choice of Shane Black as director and co-writer. If you don’t know who this cat is, I suggest you go and find Kiss Kiss Bang Bang somewhere on DVD and check that out because it is a gem of a movie and it’s all because of Black. The guy’s also written Lethal Weapon, but in my eyes: his directorial-debut ranks supreme against all others because it’s funny, exciting, and filled to the brim with plot that may seem like over-kill, but keeps you guessing until the end. And just as promising as that may sound for a guy who’s about to tackle Iron Man, it still seemed strange considering that not only was this his second movie to date, but also that his first one had barely any CGI whatsoever, or action for that matter. Most of it was just shooting, guns, bullets, a car-crash, and fake blood. That was it. So, how the hell did Marvel trust this guy with their biggest money-maker to date?

"Sometimes, my left hand just have a life of it's own. I swear, Pepper...."

“Sometimes, my left hand just have a life of it’s own. I swear, Pepper….”

Well, whatever it was that the big guys at M found in him, sure as hell worked because Black does a superb job as both director, and co-writer. Not only is his humor present throughout the whole flick, but the guy also finds a way to throw in some neat and nice little twists here and there to spice things up. One plot-twist that I won’t give up unless you want to e-mail me about it (, really divided this movie into two, different ways. Some will definitely go along with it and think that it was a nice-departure from what we are used to seeing with typical, superhero movies, whereas others may be a bit pissed and wished that they exactly got that typical, superhero movie they had grown so accustomed to. I still haven’t been able to rack my brain around whether or not I liked it all that much, but I will say that in Black’s case, it sure as hell was risky, something different, and not exactly what I was expecting. So, yeah, maybe you could put me in that earlier-group of peeps, but at the same time, don’t, because I’m still not sure.

Just give me some damn time, man!

But what really worked for Black and what mainly surprised the hell out of me is how well he handles all of the action, CGI, and 3D (basically, the big-budget). Black knows exactly what the fans want to see when they see a superhero movie about Iron Man and that’s what the dude gives to ’em. Some may actually be surprised to see that not all of this action features the actual superhero, Iron Man, but features more of Stark doing all of the ass-kicking himself, but it’s still fun and exciting to see, especially when you add a darker-element of story-telling on top of it all, which is what Black has done surely well. Of course the humor is always there to keep people laughing and giggling, but the stakes feel higher with this one and it’s no surprise that some may actually be scared as to who’s going to get off’d next, who might not make it for Iron Man 4 (although Paltrow spilled the beans on that enchilada), and who’s going to come out victorious and with a little bit of something to brag about. It’s fun to watch a movie that knows how to keep the energy rolling without a real break in the pace, but it’s even better when you feel like the seconds you see a person on screen for, could just might as well be their last. Black keeps this going for quite some time, that is, until the last-half shows up and sort of ruins things.

For the most part, about an hour and a half in, I was on-board with this movie and I easily felt like I was working on a 9-9.5 here, but something happened. No, not the twist I was talking about earlier, but the final showdown that we all know is going to eventually come. Something, I don’t know what it was, just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel as epic as the rest of the movie did and it sure as hell didn’t do much to really knock me out of my chair with it’s originality; something I was seeing from Black’s side of the room, more and more. Don’t get me mistaken, I still had a ball with this final-act and just about lost my hearing by how many clangs, booms, and bangs I continued to hear (that’s a good thing, by the way), but something didn’t make it feel like the movie was tied-up with a pretty, little bow at the end like all of the other superhero movies have lately. Even Iron Man 2 somehow decided to do that, and as we all know: that was nowhere near greatness.

However, I can’t put anything against this cast because as usual: they are all phenomenal, even the newbies too. But I’ll get to them later, let me stick with the man of the 2 hours, the man with the power, and the man who practically has it all: Robert Downey Jr. Everybody and their mothers (the coolio ones who didn’t give up on him when he got busted all of those years ago) know that Downey was made for this role and he continues to show us why with his egotistical act, look, and feel. Yet, there’s something more to this guy that makes him actually feel like a hero worth rooting for. Stark does make some stupey mistakes and gets caught-up in situations that he could have easily gotten himself out of if he just thought more, but he’s human, dammit! That’s what we do. And even if we don’t have a mansion, a billion dollar corporation, or a suit made of iron that can kick ass and speak like Paul Bettany, we still feel like this guy would do the right thing, if he was given a chance to make the decision as to what that exactly is. Downey is funny as usual, and probably a lot better with the script considering that he practically vouched for Black to get this job, but it’s his human-aspect within that makes this character tick, rock, and kick….some ass. See what I did there? Yeah, I’m all out of being witty for the night.

Always gotta tug on the suit-jacket to make sure you know how big pimpin' you truly are.

Always gotta tug on the suit-jacket to make sure you know how big pimpin’ you truly are.

Even if it seems like nobody in their right minds is willing to let all of the hate for Gwyneth Paltrow go, just for a little bit of time over 2 hours, at least the girl still shows us that she can act and be charming as hell. I don’t hate Paltrow like everybody else seems to, and that’s why I really liked her as Pepper Potts because it not only felt like her character really loved Tony and wanted him to be all fine and dandy once things were over with, but that she could also stick up for herself in the chance arose itself. Pepper isn’t the type of character that you could classify as a “damsel in distress” and that’s the route that Black turns away from and gives her more a chance to knock some people out, if she needs to. During this movie, she definitely does need to and that’s exactly what she does. Keep on going, Mrs. Coldplay!

Don Cheadle is here once again as Col. Rhodes (still thought Terrence Howard was better, but hey, that’s just me, baby) and does fine with what he’s given. Cheadle doesn’t have a huge role here but gets more to do than just pick up Tony’s scraps and make us feel like he’s more of a bad-ass too. Although, I will say that he does get to show us what makes him all bad-ass still. Oh, and before I forget about it all: Rebecca Hall is here as an old-fling of Tony’s and is good, even if her beauty and charm does seem a bit wasted on a character that is essentially around just to show how much of a chauvinistic a-hole Tony basically was back in the darker days before he fell in love with Pep. Still, the girl is mighty fine!

Now is the part where we go onto the baddies and this is where things begin to get a little dicey for me and you. See, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce both play some evil a-holes that definitely are not the breed you want to mess with, let alone see Tony mess with, but there’s more to them than just that and I can’t give away too much without sounding annoyingly-vague, or just giving it all up. Both do what they need to do as the baddies, especially Kingsley who actually terrified me at one point, but there are more layers to them and once you see what’s really going on with these cats, you might just be a bit surprised. I sure as hell was and once again: I still don’t know what to make of it. What I can say though, is that the movie does not, for a second, stray-away from giving these two guys plenty of scenery to chew on and that’s where all of the fun comes from. Because if you think about it: that’s all you need in a good villain, right?

Consensus: Starts off perfectly with a funny script, electric set-pieces, and a cast that never backs down from a script they can’t grapple, but Iron Man 3 ends more on a whimper, than on a bang. Which would have been all right and perfect with the world, had we not already see the Avengers and know what there is to expect with the Marvel Universe.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

P.S. Stay for the credits. Even though you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

It's like Gandhi all-over-again, except Chinese.

It’s like Gandhi all-over-again, except Chinese.

Running With Scissors (2006)

Cue the jokes about how this movie runs with scissors and ends-up tripping.

At the age of twelve, Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) finds himself amidst Victorian squalor living with his mother’s doctor’s bizarre family, while she (Annette Bening) goes off and becomes a total drug-addict, amongst other fucked-up things. Oh yeah, and it’s hard for little Augusten since not only is he a poet at such a young age, but he’s a gay one at that. Yay!

I never read Augusten Burrow’s 2002 memoir of the same name, and despite what all of the literary hipsters that I know continue to tell me, I still don’t ever plan on reading it, either. I’m not much of a reader as it is but with material that’s all about people being all wacky and strange just for the sake of being so, definitely rubs me the wrong-way, especially when it’s done in a flick like this.

See, the fact of the matter is that you can make a movie about a bunch of near-functional nut jobs that can still be a bit whack-o in the brain department, but are at least likable and understandable enough to connect to. Writers/directors like Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach can do this, and do it very well, but writer/director Ryan Murphy is not one of them, nor does he come even close. Instead of making these characters a bunch of whack-o’s that you actually feel something for, as if they were normal, functioning human-beings, you just seem them as whack-o’s with nothing really nice to say or do throughout the whole, dreadful 2 hours.

All you do throughout this whole flick is see a bunch of crazies yell, hoot, and holler at one another, and just do a bunch of random crap to each other that would seem almost too weird to be true (but trust me, this flick wants you to believe it’s source material REALLY IS TRUE!), and in ways, totally is. You never, not for one second, actually believe that all you see on-screen is actually how things happened in real-life for Augusten and if it did actually happen, it sure as hell shows you that it wasn’t a story that needed to be shown on the big-screen in the first-place, mostly because there isn’t much here to hold onto. I would say that the characters are worth the shot of standing-by and listening to, but even that’s a bit of a far-stretch since they are only there to be nothing more than just a plot-device of sure craziness. Watching people act all wacky and wild can be fun every once and awhile to watch, but as time goes on, there needs to be more substance brewing from underneath and that is just not here.

"And that little bitch that played the psycho ballet dancer won! Ever since then, I haven't felt the same."

“And that little bitch that played the psycho ballet dancer won! Ever since then, I haven’t felt the same.”

Maybe the fact that I never read the memoir was the reason why I didn’t like it all that much, because there was a lot of crap that happened or was said here that I just didn’t understand. The whole idea of people looking at every single bit of life’s details with a clear-view and making something out of nothing, simply annoys the hell out of me in real-life, and even worse, annoys the most when I see it in a movie and that’s all I saw here. Everybody speaks as if they just got done reading Hemingway and felt the need to rant and rave about what life is all about, and it’s okay at first because it makes sense to why these characters are so strange, but it becomes to be a bit of a bore and unbelievable. You know, just like the rest of the characters and the movie itself. Heck, there’s even a scene where Brian Cox is checking out his crapola (be ready to hear that term sooner or later) and talking about what it’s shape, size, and formation means to his life and everybody else’s around him. Did I get it? No, but would I have had I actually took time out of my lazy day and read the memoir? Probably not. It’s just the type of writing that annoys me and shows that people have nothing else better to do with their way of contracting humor, then just showing a bunch of ridiculous and crude things to really shock you and make you feel as if you’ve seen something from another planet. However, I think I was on another planet when I saw this movie.

It’s even worse, though, when you take into consideration at how freakin’ uneven this whole thing is. My buddy and I were just bored one night, decided to watch this because it was under the “Comedy” section on On Demand, and for the first 30 minutes, neither one of us were laughing. We weren’t laughing because what the flick was trying to do and shove down our throats, wasn’t funny (even though it really isn’t a funny movie), but it was because there was nothing really funny actually happening. It was just a bunch of dark, sarcastic drama that I didn’t know whether or not I was supposed to feel weirded-out by or just go along with it and see if I ever lighten-up to the dead-pan tone and feel. I never did and to be honest, I don’t think the flick itself did, either, because there was just way too many moments where the film changed itself-up. One second, you’ll be watching a scene of some cooky lady eating doggy biscuits, and then after that, you’ll get some heartbreaking discussion between an estranged mother and son. It’s all-over-the-place and constantly changing tones from right-to-left and that is not as fun or entertaining as it sounds. It’s obvious and it never stops to be, and that’s why I just wanted somebody in this flick to die and spice things up. I’m sorry, it’s just the thought-process I go through when a movie sucks THIS BAD.

The only, real saving-grace to this whole flick is the ensemble cast of characters that do all that they can here, but in the end, fall prey to a terrible script and direction. Joseph Cross is fine as our lead, Augusten Burroughs, and is serviceable as a kid that obviously has a lot of problems with growing-up, being a poet, being gay, and not really having a connection with his mother. It should have been a lot more relateable for most kids going through, or have been through teenage-angst, but it’s oddly not. It’s just a kid having a problem with a mother of his that just so happens to be hopped-up all of the time. Hey, I don’t know if that’s everybody else’s life story but if so, well, you just may be able to find something to suit your fancy here.

Right about now is where breakfast would be the second-thing on my moment.

Right about now is where breakfast would be the second-thing on my moment.

Actually, the real stand-out of this whole cast is the woman who plays that same hopped-up mother, Annette Bening. Bening is great as this drugged-up, but somewhat schizophrenic that does all that she can to make herself happy, but in the end, just can’t. Bening can play a bitch like no other and she’s great in this role as a mother that’s never there and when she is, is like a freakin’ plague of problems. Yeah, she’s a mean, old woman that seems like she really deserves a nice kick in the teeth by not just me, but anybody, but regardless, it’s still impressive to see from here, especially considering the fact that the girl keeps all of the energy alive and well in this dead flick. And by “dead”, I mean Grateful Dead because let’s be honest, you may just want to be high for this movie. It would probably help a crap-load, although, it obviously didn’t help me with anything.

The rest of the cast is fine too, but none of them can really keep up with Bening. Brian Cox plays Dr. Finch, a slimy psychiatrist who seems to be doing people favors, but also has a bit of a dark-side to him as well that’s maybe not so favorable. Cox is great, what else is new by now? Evan Rachel Wood plays the skanky-looking daughter of his that definitely should have been in this movie a lot more, considering she brings a lot of fun and wit to the screen, when everybody else seems like they’re falling asleep (count me in on that nap). Same could almost be said for Gwyneth Paltrow as the total kiss-ass of the family, Hope, and definitely seems like she got a role for herself that displayed her looks, her beauty, and her knack for comedy. Sad thing is, she’s not that funny here. Not her fault, writer’s fault. I was also very surprised to see a very good performance from Joseph Fiennes, who plays the gay boy-toy of Augusten and just so happens to be the only boy of the Finch family. Fiennes rarely shows up in anything now but it was nice to see him when he was a bit wild, wacky, and free. Too bad he had to be all that, especially in a shit-pile like this.

Consensus: Despite that obviously seems like they’re game for this type of material, it really lets them down as every character is unlikable, distasteful, annoying, and terribly unbelievable, almost to the point of where the whole 2 hours and 2 minutes of Running With Scissors seriously makes you take that title into consideration with your own life. It’s a drastic way of thinking, but it’s the truth.


Looks like my backyard, come hoarders season. Can't wait!

Looks like my backyard, come hoarders season. Can’t wait!

The Avengers (2012)

Summer season here we gooooooo!!!!

When an unexpected enemy emerges threatening global safety and security, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Director of the International Peacekeeping Agency (known as SHIELD), finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

Ever since 2008 swung by with ‘Iron Man’ on its shoulders, Marvel Studios has pretty much been patiently waiting and building up to this moment. And needless to say (however still said), the wait was worth it.

The best thing about this flick is how Marvel was able to get a director/writer like Joss Whedon. Whedon knocked it out of the park last month with ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, and he pretty much does the same thing here; but instead of focusing on the horror genre, he focuses on the superheros that we all know, love, and hope to be someday. Maybe I’m alone with that last one, and maybe I snuck it in so quick you didn’t even notice, but basically what I’m trying to say is that these are superheros that deserve the right treatment with everything they get. Whedon gives them all that, and much, much more. I mean after all, Whedon is a fanboy at heart but he is also a film-maker, and that is something he’ll always live up to. He knows what comic ban fans expect to see from this type of material, and he absolutely delivers.

Whedon’s great attribute to this flick is that he is able to stage so many excellent action sequences that are some of the best I have seen lately. Of course, the special effects and CGI are perfect. And the IMAX 3-D does makes this film look so cool it seems like you’re right there along for the ride, but when it comes down to some awesome, kick-ass throw downs, Whedon knows how to do it; and even better, do it right. They’re all breath-taking because they have so much intensity, but a lot of it’s because plenty of the action scenes consist of superheros fighting superheros. We get to see Thor versus Iron Man, Captain America versus Thor, Iron Man versus The Incredible Hulk, and so on and so forth. If any of you out there love these superheros and want to see what they would be like stacked up against another superhero, then definitely see this flick because almost every fight shows these heroes pulling just about everything they have out of their arsenal. It’s like King Kong vs. Godzilla, Lincoln vs. Washington, or even  Backstreet Boys vs. N’Sync. It’s the battle between two opposing forces that can almost never be stopped, and it’s just pure fun. It’s as easy as that.

The strangest but most awesome thing about this movie is that it’s turns out bring one of the funnier comedies of the past couple of years. Whedon shows that he’s even better when it comes to writing witty scripts, and pinpoints perfection here with this cast of characters. I mean all of these superheros are pretty much egotistical freaks who think they’re superior to others because of their freakishly powerful skills they inherited; and that’s exactly what Whedon touches on here. There are plenty of scenes where it’s just a one-on-one outrageous verbal battle between two characters and it’s probably some of the funniest dialogue you’ll hear this whole summer. But it’s not just these verbal battles that are funny, everything else here is too, and it doesn’t even seem like Whedon is trying to write funny dialogue just to be funny and cool; it comes naturally. Even better is that it’s not just one character who gets a chance to be funny, EVERYBODY here does. There will definitely be moments where you come close to rolling out of your seat. My buddy next to me was on the brink a couple times there and I couldn’t blame him.

I honestly think that the reason this film does work so well the way that it does here is because that we’ve had all this time (4 years to be exact) to get to see, know, love and understand these characters in their own movies; and it’s just awesome to finally see them all together in the same room doing exactly what it is they do best: be freakin’ awesome. Robert Downey Jr. obviously is the star of the show and gives off a whole bunch of hilarious one-liners as Tony Stark/Iron Man (remember when people thought that movie was going to blow?); Chris Evans is THE MAN as everybody’s favorite red, white, and blue superhero, Captain America; Chris Hemsworth is once again likable and charming as the Olde English speaker/Norse God, Thor; Mark Ruffalo does a great job of replacing Edward Norton here as Bruce Banner/Hulk, and gives him this scruffy, worn-out look that coexists well especially when he gets angry and turns green; Scarlett Johansson is pretty cool as Black Widow even though it didn’t really seem like she was going to be around here much, but surprisingly, she is also great and doesn’t let us down; Jeremy Renner is pretty much cool and tough as Hawkeye; and Samuel L. Jackson‘s performance here as Nick Fury is basically him playing the Samuel L. Jackson we always see him play, but this time with an eye-patch. Is that a bad thing? Not at all people, not at all.

A superhero film like this is usually made or broken by the villains, and I think they chose right with Tom Hiddleston as Loki. To be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Loki in ‘Thor’ and I actually found him to be a somewhat weak villain no matter, despite how entertaining the flick was. However, Whedon gives Loki just enough time to show how evil and dangerous of a villain he is when he allows this guy to cut a villainous monologue every time he is around one of these heroes. It sounds a bit tiring, but thankfully, Whedon keeps all of these speeches interesting simply while showing  how incredibly powerful Loki can be. Also have to give a lot of credit to Hiddleston who shows that he’s definitely able to carry one villain role all by himself, but also exercise a bit of his comedic chops here as well. A lot of the funnier scenes in this movie revolve around Loki and just how ridiculous this damn dude can be.

Actually, it’s not just Loki who gets the special treatment from Whedon here, come to think of it, everybody does and that’s what’s did it for this flick. There are so many characters/superheros here, but Whedon’s still able to keep them all relevant by showing how all of their powers, skills, and elements as heroes can change the situation that they’re in while simultaneously reminding us why and how we fell in love with these characters in the first place. For example, Black Widow is definitely a character that you would expect to be forgettable in this huge cast of characters. But Whedon shows her as being a kick-ass spy and assassin that actually adds a lot more to the team than you would expect. You think a lot differently of her and what she can do with those nice, strong legs. It’s just great that Whedon lets every character have their time to shine and not have any of them get over-shadowed by one in particular. Hell, even Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson gets to have a couple of memorable moments! Joss surely does know how to share the love.

If I had to be a total dickhead here and nit-pick, it would have to be that sometimes, the film did seem to hit a lull in its pace. And not only did it seem to take a bit away from the final product, but it also made me want more action up on the screen. The scenes with Hawkeye and Black Widow were a little lame and didn’t do much for me, but then again, it didn’t matter because when it got to them kicking ass, that’s exactly what they did.

Consensus: The Avengers is pretty much everything you could expect it to be with fun action, great performances from this ensemble cast of characters that we all know and love, very funny screenplay, and just a reminder as to why nerds rule, and will never, ever go away. Best film of the year so far and a totally kick-ass ride from start to finish. Long live Marvel!

9/10=Full Price!!

BTW: If you guys get a chance to, check out a website called GuysNation. It’s a pretty far-out site I’ve been writing for, for quite some time and just go on by, show me some love, and check out some of the other non-related movie stuff that’s on there as well. Have a good Friday night everybody!

If you have recently seen the new Marvel hit the Avengers and you feel like watching more action packed Summer blockbusters then why not try one of the available online movie services. Visit LOVEFiLM vs Netflix UK to compare two of the leading brands in the online streaming service business.

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Seven (1995)

Pitt being Pitt, Morgan being Morgan, Spacey being Spacey, and Fincher being Fincher. Hell yeah.

Two homicide detectives are on a desperate hunt for a serial killer whose crimes are based on the “seven deadly sins”. The seasoned Det. Sommerset (Morgan Freeman) researches each sin in an effort to get inside the killer’s mind, while his novice partner, Mills (Brad Pitt), scoffs at his efforts to unravel the case.

David Fincher is a total mad-man and I think he has only gotten better as the years have gone on, but it’s great to see where it all started.

This film is straight-up messed up however, it is also a very smartly written one to say the least which is a lot of thanks to writer Andrew Kevin Walker, who did a lot of junk before and after this film but somehow got thing clickin’ at the right time and place. The film shows the characters always one step behind the killer so we’re constantly left wondering how is this damn guy so freakin’ smart and we don’t quite know what he’ll do next. It fully keeps you on the edge of your seat, until the grand finale comes up and then were left with, “Wow”.

However, it’s not the smarty-pants that the killer has is what’s so good about this screenplay, it’s the fact that it is actually horror/thriller film that has something to say. The killer’s motives really stuck into my head because he is only doing this to people that are not innocent, but more as to people who deserve it because of the hurt and pain they push onto others so subtly. This film will mess with how you view the world and most of all will take you inside of the mind of the serial killer it’s showing, which is unlike any thriller I have ever seen before. What the killer says is still in my mind and will stick with yours probably too.

The real reason this film works though is Fincher’s direction, that is almost nothing short of brilliant. His use of lighting still works in any film, and especially here because he knows how to make any place, no matter where it may be, and just make it the most dirty, grimy, and disturbing place you have ever seen on film. The thing is though, that he’s making Chicago look like this shit-hole where it doesn’t stop raining for a whole week. All of Fincher’s visual flairs add to the depressed and dark setting of this film and just about every sequence is thrilling just by the way he keeps the tension and mystery going.

Oh and let’s not forget the opening title sequence to the remix of the song “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Like that damn song didn’t already have me creeped out. Thanks Finch.

I also liked the fact that we never actually got to see any of the killing’s happen, and more of just the aftermath of these grisly murders. There’s a lot to be shocked by after seeing this film, and although I have seen this about 4 times now, I have to say that I still get a little grossed out by what I see. Others may like this, may despise it and this is one of those films where it’s just “not for everybody”. That can be said for a lot of Fincher films except for maybe his last two that came out, but with The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, I think he’s back on-track for grossing people out again.

The cast is also nothing short of magnificent either. Brad Pitt is great as the young, cocky, and headstrong cop David Mills who wants to get the bad-guy at any way possible, and Morgan Freeman is even better as William Somerset, the laid-back, seasoned cop who plays the voice of reason every time Mills gets a little loose with it. They’re contrast of old school vs. new school is amazing to see on-screen and they work together so well having me actually believing them as a real-life detective team. The real shining star of this whole film is probably Kevin Spacey, who you will probably be stuck remembering long after the final credit reels off the screen. I can’t say much else about this role, but this is easily the best performance from the whole film by just how much he gets into not only the character’s heads, but also the audiences head as well.

Consensus: Although it may not be for everybody, Seven is still one of Fincher’s best with a tension-filled atmosphere, brilliant script, superb writing, and a grand finale that will be sure to stay in your mind way long after the film is over.

9/10=Full Price!!

Great Expectations (1998)

Poor Charlie Dickens must be rolling around in his grave.

In this Americanized version of Charles Dickens’s classic novel, set in 1990s New York instead of 1860s England, humble, young Finn (Ethan Hawke) develops a lifelong crush on Estella (Gwyneth Paltrow), the wealthy niece of the eccentric Ms. Dinsmoor (Anne Bancroft). The pair part, but then a mysterious benefactor makes it possible for Finn to attend art school in the city, where he runs into his now-engaged love.

I confess that I have never read Dickens’ classic novel, which is the basic idea where this modern-day adaptation came from, but that does not mean that this film should get some slack for me. It still kind of sucks.

After watching Children of Men, I realize that director Alfonso Cuarón, really can do something amazing when it comes to the way a film looks and feels. Once again, Cuarón does that one-shot steadi-cam trademark that he had in Children of Men and its just great to look at because I felt like I was there the whole time, but that’s not all that looks great.

The production values just look beautiful with the constant beautiful colors that inhabit this world these characters live in, the way the sunset is captured so well, and even the paintings from Italian painter Francesco Clemente are outstanding. The colors also set a tone for almost each and every scene, as well as the music here which seems to combine two music genres together. It’s certainly a very pretty film to look at the only problem is that the film could have actually spent a lot more time on it’s screenplay.

The screenplay from Mitch Glazer starts off very promising, but then starts to turn into this utterly cheesy and predictable romantic drama that we have seen time and time again, the only difference here is that these people are pretty and artistic, so there’s somehow more of a artsy feel to this whole love angle. The film wants to dive into moments of actual beauty when it shows how you can become famous while still ticking to your guns, but instead just shows this dude practically drooling over this hot blonde. And don’t let me forget to mention all the terrible and non-stop cliches.

Another huge problem with this film is that I never quite felt attracted to these characters and I never really found anything that amazing about them, as much as the film wanted me to. Finn has practically been following Estella for 20 years but there is never anything really shown about her character that makes her anything to chase after for that long other than a nice body, some good boobies, and just another pretty face. It’s annoying too because this dude keeps on getting knocked over left-and-right without her ever saying good-bye to him once, which would have definitely been my calling card to say screw her.

Ethan Hawke is OK as Finn, although he has been a lot better in other films. My one problem with this character is that he never really takes any action for himself, which kind of creates a big wall of separation between him and the audience. We all want to connect with this guy and root for him, but if you keep on getting pushed around by this chick and seemingly don’t do anything else other than just draw a bunch of fancy looking paintings, there’s not much there to endear with in the first place.

Gwyneth Paltrow nails Estella down very well and actually attributes to my fondness of her character, even though there was nothing really special about her. The chemistry her and Hawke have isn’t bad but it’s hard to actually judge whether it was good or not, when their screen-time together was so limited. If I had gotten more scenes with them just talking, flirting, hell just boning, I would have understood the loooooooooooove between them both, but I just got a bunch of smiley faces.

Robert De Niro is good as Arthur, even though he’s basically Robert De Niro with a goofy look; Anne Bancroft was fun to watch as this totally up-and-down and crazy nut as Ms. Dinsmoor, which was the best performance of the whole cast really; Chris Cooper is good to watch as Uncle Joe; and Hank Azaria adds nothing to this film as Walter Plane.

Consensus: The beauty is within the production design and direction, but the problems lie within the screenplay that offers nothing other than countless romantic drama cliches, a love story that had no real believable love to it, and characters that aren’t too interesting to begin with.


Contagion (2011)

An apocalypse with no zombies. LAME!

Contagion follows the fast progress of a airborne virus that is lethal and kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows larger, the worldwide medical community runs and races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads almost faster than the virus itself.

It’s been awhile since director Steven Soderbergh has gone back to the scale of Traffic, and to be honest, it’s kind of a good thing since he does get a little out-of-hand sometimes.

Soderbergh fully explores what would happen if a deadly virus were to hit the planet in today’s society and just how the government, scientists, people, and every single person known to man would react. I just wonder how the media would actually handle this virus and what they would do to spark it up and gain attention. This film shows that as well as the well the panic that would travel throughout the world, and just what everybody would do if they almost couldn’t touch anything.

However, the story never really goes anywhere and instead of actually being immersed in all of these characters, I never felt moved by this story at all. What the problem that Soderbergh usually has with many of his films is that he tells a story, and instead of allowing us to feel something for what’s going on, we just feel like we’re along for the ride with Soderbergh. And if I was in for a ride like this, I wanted to go on a new one.

There were moments were I felt that sort of paranoia and feel that the film was striking for so very very much but in the end, nothing here really kept me involved with this story other than the fact that everyone seems to be dying, and I couldn’t really care that much. Soderbergh has this film go on at a slow-pace, which isn’t really bothersome to me in other films, but when you have a film that seems to just move along its pace with no actual connection or emotional feel, then I just get a little, dare I say it, bored. I can’t believe it either, but for some reason, there were times when I checked the time just to see how much longer of the virus we had left.

Though I must say, when the story didn’t keep me going, I still felt a bit affected by the technical aspect of this whole film. Soderbergh shows that even though he may not be able to get this story in your hearts, he will get it in your mind with some really great visuals and camera-tricks that actually made just little scenes of a door-knob or a fork so terrifying and showing how by touching each item with your hands, you can spread the virus more and more. The score that was done by Cliff Martinez actually adds an under-lining tension to a lot of the scenes where people are just walking around and gets you in this full feel of just fear of everything around you.

The ensemble is also one of the best that Soderbergh has shown as of late, and even though they don’t do an amazingly perfect job, their altogether pretty solid. Matt Damon is good as the loving father, Mitch, who plays that everyday man put into a radical situation and gets some really good scenes going here; Laurence Fishburne probably does his performance in the past couple of years as Dr. Cheever, a guy who has so much on his plate but still seems to somehow have it all together and can still do his best to save others he wants to, even as manipulated as he is by the government; and Jude Law is probably the best out of the whole cast as a know-it-all blogger that is all about spreading the real truth, while all of these government officials keep the truth away to keep getting more and more money. His story was the best and I think I actually connected with it more now that I’m becoming that little rebellious teenage pissant nobody wants to deal with.

The ladies here are also good but don’t show up as much as the dudes. Marion Cotillard‘s performance as Dr. Orantes is good but her character is in the film about every 30 minutes, and when her time-limit is up, we find out nothing that has happened to her. Kate Winslet is really good as Dr. Erin Mears, the CDC’s “detective”, and brings a lot of emotional weight to her character for us to actually care about her, even though her character’s motives aren’t clear; and Gwyneth Paltrow is here for about 10 minutes and basically is just there to look sick and have foam pop on out of her mouth. I still don’t know why her character had to begin the film with her having any sex and therefore cheating on her husband. The rest of the cast has some notable faces such as John Hawkes, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Elliott Gould, and a random Demetri Martin.

Consensus: Contagion has an impressive ensemble and makes you feel as if you are in a world of fear and panic during this epidemic, but you never actually feel totally involved with this story, and more of just a watcher of Soderbergh’s annoying way of showing how much cool science stuff he knows.


Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Maybe if I start boning chicks too, my writing will somehow get better.

Young Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy.

Many people will always bash on this film because they don’t think it was quite deserving of the seven Oscars it got, including Best Picture because it beat out one of my favorites, Saving Private Ryan. But at the same time, I can kind of see why now.

My favorite element of this film is the combination of the witty script, and inspired direction. The script has many little jokes inside the core of it, and it may be hard at first to catch the real wit within this script, but once you get the hang of the jokes, they will have you howling. There are many references to some of other Shakespeare’s work, but also some other ironic jokes that will have almost anybody laughing. This is basically a reworking of a period of history, and in ways you have to suspend all disbelief and just go along with this film, and I promise you if you can, you will not be disappointed.

Director John Madden does a great job of keeping this film at a very quick, and fast pace to have us get a feel for this rowdy environment that this film takes place in. Madden makes this film look perfect with it’s vibrant sets of color, decorations, and costumes and I felt like I was there with all this happening. Beneath all this comedy though, there is a beautiful love story that shows the importance of art, and poetry. Being a writer myself, I know what it’s like to have inspiration in my life and for my art, and I must say that this film did touch on that well here and gave us a reason to believe that this love really was something special. However, Madden still finds fun with this screenplay and does not hold back from getting a little goofy, which just makes this even more fun.

My only gripe with this film is that even though I liked the humor and romantic elements to this film, I felt like when they were combined together in this film, it kind of gave this film an uneven pace. There are moments of this film where it’s going all-over-the-place, and kicking jokes out of the wazoo, but then they get to the romance parts, which are sweet, but they kind of take down all this energy. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was something with me, but either way I just wish the film kept up that quick pace and didn’t slow down when it started to get all kissy face.

I think the main reason this film worked so well was because of its truly amazing ensemble of a cast. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Viola De Lesseps, in an Oscar-winning role, and she deserved it because she really is amazing here. She plays Viola with such strength, and presence that you feel her love and heart through every scene she has and I must say it makes her character so much more interesting than anybody would have expected. Joseph Fiennes fits perfectly as the poster boy for William Shakespeare, as he has both the charm, and the looks to back up his act and make Shakespeare a very likable guy in this film. I still do think he should have at least gotten a nomination for his work in this film too. Geoffrey Rush plays Philip Henslowe and does a good job at always bringing that nutty side to every one of his characters. Judi Dench is only in this film for about nine minutes but somehow won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and this caused quite an uproar. Dench is perfect as Queen Elizabeth here, and brings out that total bitch-mode we all know and love her for, and does a great job with the limited time she’s given on-screen. The rest of the cast is good as well with the likes such as Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Simon Callow, and hell even Ben Affleck does a good job too.

Consensus: The pacing may be a bit off, but Shakespeare in Love is an amazing romantic comedy, that has hilarious and sweet screenplay, that provides great attention to detail, as well as perfect performances from the cast, that just allow you to be entertained and have a great time while watching no matter how much or how little you know of Shakespeare.

9/10=Full Price!!

Shallow Hal (2001)

Big women need love too.

The writing-directing siblings Peter and Bobby Farrelly train their camera on Hal (Jack Black), a terminal bachelor obsessed with scoring a knockout babe. A chance encounter in an elevator with a self-help guru imbues Hal with the (hallucinatory) power to see people’s inner beauty over their outer shell. Soon, he finds true love in Rosie, a 400-lb. social worker who appears to Hal in the lithe form of Gwyneth Paltrow.

The Farrelly Brothers are always known for their gross-out hits like Dumb and Dumber, and There’s Something About Mary. But never are they really known for their more sweeter comedies, like Fever Pitch, and this one.

As usual, this film has a lot of jokes within that work, and others that do not. There are plenty of fat jokes that will make you chuckle, but then you wonder if you were supposed to. At the end, it almost makes you think that making fun of fat people is wrong, which is kind of what this film was doing the whole time, so of course the whole message of this movie was kind of confusing.

But that doesn’t matter because this is a sweet little comedy. The irony is what works the best with this film, and although some jokes are a miss, others will have you laughing, but not as much as you would have expected from these two dudes. The Farrelly Brothers aren’t as immature with this film, and don’t provide a lot of gross-out humor, but it still does have it’s good moments, just not the best compared to other outings by these two. Also, they provide a lot more sweeter moments in this film, that do hit well much to my surprise.

Jack Black in the beginning really got on my nerves in this, but after awhile he started to grow on me. As the story goes on, he gets better and better, playing this funny, sweet guy that I can actually see getting the real Paltrow in real life. Nah, I was kidding, sorry Jack. Gwyneth Paltrow is also good here, playing a likable personality as Rose Mary. Jason Alexander is in this, and provides a lot more of the funnier moments, cause he plays an annoying deuche so well, to the point of where he isn’t annoying. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but he’s good in this too.

Consensus: A lot more sweeter and held back than their other comedies, The Farrelly Brothers make a romantic comedy, that may not be the funniest of theirs, but it still has enough laughs, and charms to satisfy.


Iron Man 2 (2010)

Why is Tony Starks such a total d-bag all of a sudden.

Wealthy inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — aka Iron Man — resists calls by the American government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has constructed his own miniaturized arc reactor, causing all kinds of problems for our superhero. Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson co-star in director Jon Favreau’s sequel based on Marvel comic book characters.

After seeing Iron Man, back in 2008, I was totally in love with Iron Man, and the series that was to be. However, I can’t say that I enjoyed this one as much.

First of all, the writing in this film is very top-notch compared to the first one. I can’t remember the last superhero movie that I actually laughed, or chuckled, the whole time through the film. There’s a huge deal of one-liners, that work, and some do not, but it was just better to get a not so serious superhero film.

I think the main problem with this movie is that it has the same thing all superhero films go through: sequelitis. Sequelitis is when a sequel to a very famous film, gets too over-powered with characters, run time, and overall too much story. The film starts off fine with good action here and there, but by the 1 hour mark gets totally dry beyond belief. For a long time, there just wasn’t anything happening, other than the fact that Starks was a total alcoholic (without the film really saying it), and some scenes with Rourke and Rockwell being bad boys. If you take away the sexy people, and big explosions, you really just have a film about one arrogant defense contractor, against another arrogant defense contractor.

Many elements to this story could have been better but instead were just dry. The villain Ivan Vanko is actually a good one surprisingly, mostly due to the fact that the film sets him up to be this totally intimidating guy, with lightning bolts for hands, and a Russian accent that would make Ivan Drago crap his pants. However, the films waters him down with not enough screen-time showing him doing nothing bad or villainous, and showing more evil from Rockwell’s character. The addition of Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson makes no sense what so ever, other than just trying to hype up the Avengers films, which are starting to get pretty annoying now. Listen, I understand that sometime in the future there may be an Avengers film, but in the mean time stop hyping it up to the point, of where there seems to be no use for a film to hype it up, rather than a film that’s just hyping another film up anyway. I know that last sentence was totally confusing, but its hard to explain.

I will admit however, the film does show great action when it does have it, and the actors are able to fill the shoes. Downey Jr. is perfect as this charming, sort of snobby millionaire Tony Starks, and you can really tell why he is a perfect choice for this type of super hero. Paltrow is doing what she does best, playing the strong female companion, with enough sense to be believable. Don Cheadle is also replacing Terrence Howard, and does well with picking up the scraps from Howard’s previous performance, but he just is not on the screen as much as I think he could have been. Sam Rockwell is the real star, and totally steals almost every scene he’s in, and shows how superhero villains are supposed to be played even without all the crazy action.

Consensus: Iron Man 2 has charming performances from the cast, good humor, and enough action to satisfy, however, hits a block in the middle of the film where it lags on, and starts to become a cheap, lame excuse for the Avengers movie.


The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

If you meet a guy named this, stay the hell away!

Charming sociopath Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) maneuvers his way into the lush life of a young heir (Jude Law) vacationing in Italy in this increasingly creepy thriller from Anthony Minghella (The English Patient), based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith.

The film at first sight, doesn’t seem like it could be what it becomes. It’s nice, sound, and also charming with plenty elements of little comedy here and there, but soon turns into something like no other.

Probably in the first hour, the film’s deciding factor already occurs. However, instead of ending on a note like they could have the film continues and gets more into the mind of this very interesting man, Mr. Tom Ripley. The one element I liked of this film was that it was all shot in mostly his point-of-view. We see everything his way, and we get a sense early of who this quiet, awkward man actually is.

I have to praise the writing and direction credit from Anthony Minghella. He uses such a great way of film-making by building up the suspense as the film goes on. There are slight moments of creepiness, but never too out-of-hand until the third and last act.  You feel like everything in this film is just going to explode, but using slight Hitchcock pointers of suspense, we are left on the edge of our seat because of the unpredictable of the film and its characters. We see the reason as to why this Tom Ripley wants to be somebody else, and why it is his dream and infatuation, of being another person. I especially liked how by the end of the film, Ripley had to come up with things off the top of his head to get him out of certain situations, which dug him deeper and deeper into more and more chaos among the people he knew. Also, I shouldn’t forget to mention the setting, in Italy. The places the film are set in make the film look better, cause of the bright colors you get this sense of good and love, but the story contradicts this beautiful, loving place, with horror.

I will say that this film did have a couple of flaws that did bother me a bit. I feel like when Jude Law’s character, Dickie, left the film by the end of the second act, the latter part isn’t the same. I was still entertained don’t get me wrong here, I just wasn’t as taken back by the characters relationship as I was with the first two acts. Also, the character of Meredith (Cate Blanchett), and her obsession with Ripley, seemed a bit too unbelievable and underused to a point where the last confrontation was awkward and meaningless. And I can’t recommend this for everyone cause it certainly it certainly isn’t a film you and your family, or bunch of friends can enjoy.

Matt Damon is great and equally as creepy in this film, and proves at an early age he can turn in great performances. Damon, is scary, but also tragic, cause he is a kid that would rather be somebody else and famous for it, than just a random nobody. He makes a total transition half-way through the movie, from awkward quite kid, to charming, talkative two guys, and its all believable. The best performance in the film that is actually the highlight, is Jude Law, because he is so funny, charming, and energetic that when he leaves the film mid-way through we miss his presence and what him back on. Also, Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Seymour Hoffman appear and make some good supporting jobs here too.

Consensus: It’s not for everyone, but The Talented Mr. Ripley, has wonderful performances from the cast, a creepy atmosphere that climbs every minute, and a wonderful job of writing and directing from Minghella.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

The Anniversary Party (2001)

What a crazy bunch of celebrities.

Recently uncoupled couple Joe (Allan Cumming) and Sally (Jennifer Jason Leigh) celebrate their anniversary with a group of friends. When Judy (Parker Posey), Cal (Kevin Kline), Sky (Gwyneth Paltrow) and assorted spouses and friends come over, it only takes a few cocktails and a load of ecstasy before the situation careens out of control.

Most films about a group of famous people getting together in a huge party with emotion, truth, and drugs some times the films can be bad even when the main star is directing it. However, this doesn’t turn into bad.

The film isn’t painfully true about Hollywood and the stars that inhabit it, it’s actually more about the fact that these sort of parties could happen at any time of the week. I mean it basically plays out like two movies: one about the couple coming back together, and the celebrities that come to the party.

I mean there are plenty of moments that are genuinely funny, but I just didn’t find it to be overall as hilarious as I was expecting. The screenplay does hold some truth to the story but I felt like there were many times where the film was trying to be satirical, and just ended up not making any sense.

I liked the performances here and I felt like a lot of the cast were doing hilarious riffs on their own celebrity personas. Kline is very funny here and adds another dimension, but the funny one here is Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates. It was funny to see this two back on-screen together after almost two decades from their first time together on Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They have matured so much over the years and it was just a great look to see them back together once again.

I did feel like a lot of the scenes here were just meant for these celebrities to ham it up for the digital hand-held camera. Mostly, the last act which featured everyone having totally tripped on acid and just making dumb remarks and acts. I found nothing at all funny about this act, and most importantly was actually a bit bored cause nothing was quite happening other than all the stars acting all high.

Consensus: Though it has some genuine funny moments and good performances from its cast, the film feels a bit hammed on for the camera, and starts to fall by the last act.


Hard Eight (1997)

PT taking a page out of Tarantino’s book.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film charts the relationship between reckless youth John (John C. Reilly) and world-weary card shark Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), who takes John under his wing after showing him how to exploit the casinos’ perks. Years later, the surrogate father and son are successful gamblers until John falls for a cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and gets mixed up with a shady stranger (Samuel L. Jackson).

The film looks like as if its going to be your usual gambling drama film, but then suddenly switches into the mode of suspense thriller, which totally took me by suprise.

The one extraordinary  thing that this film does is that it does focus so much on the thrilling aspect but on the characters at hand. PT Anderson gives us these interesting and compelling characters who from the get-go we know nothing about, but want to know so much more as the film goes on.

PT Anderson really does show off some of his best work here, as he uses the camera to make so many things work. For example, he uses the camera to move with the same action as somebody handing another person a paper, instead of just the usual thing in big-time Hollywood, and blowing it up. Also, there is a lot of very good writing here as it seems all so realistic as it goes along with the scene.

The problem with this film is that its pacing in the middle is a little off. The beginning is energetic and entertaining, but in the middle the film starts to drag. The ending I had a lot of problems with, one because it ends with this random bolt of violence that we don’t see once throughout the whole film until then, and two because it just seems like the big twist at the end was a little tacked on. I will say it did throw me off a bit, but it didn’t feel right in this story and just added on to put in more shocking things to happen.

Baker Hall is just without a doubt so mesmerizing in this role, and I’m just so surprised to see how some performance of this nature, and of this talent couldn’t land him any more big roles. Samuel L. is basically as crazy as usual but I would have liked to see more from his character until he just randomly starts more combustion near the end of the film.

Consensus: Hard Eight is an impressive debut from PT Anderson, with great performances, catchy writing, and a wonderful character study, but misses the mark with its pacing, and its random use of its ending.


Shakespeare in Love (1998)

I actually like Shakespeare now because of this film.

What if a penniless William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) fell in love with a noblewoman (Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow) while struggling to write a comedy with the unlikely title “Romeo and Ethel the Sea Pirate’s Daughter?” Might the emotional turmoil inspire him to recraft the play into a tragedy with a more familiar-sounding name?

I mostly heard of this film before, because at the 1998 Oscars it beat out one of my favorite movies of all-time, Saving Private Ryan, for a the Best Picture Oscar. I was ready to see this film and tear it apart because I thought it was bogus that this ended up winning. But now that I’ve seen this I don’t know who deserved to win.

This is a wonderful film in all ways possible. Director John Madden really does create this vibrant fun new world filled with love literature, and most of all Shakespeare. Most of the characters and the events that happen are mostly fictional, but Madden does such a great job at showing how it all comes together at the end, and you have a great blend of mixing fiction with reality.

The most props of this film have to go to the screenplay. Throughout the whole film, I was so taken away by the wit of all these jokes and I liked how the olde english language was there but still made for the “modern” ear to understand. Though there is a lot of seriousness I felt there was also a lot of wonderful comedy that really did brighten up the tone and make this film a lot more enjoyable.

The most beautiful thing about this film really does come from the romance between Viola and Shakespeare which is really what the film is centered on. It feels and looks real, as you can see what really happens to a person when they fall in love and where the inspiration of it lies within Shakespeare’s work.

Gwyneth Paltrow turns in a magnificent Oscar-winning performance as Viola, as she shows a lot of depth of what seemed like a one-note character, and really does stay on top with the rest of these characters on screen. The whole cast does a great job but I feel like the one that really does the best job and doesn’t get any credit for it is Joseph Fiennes. If there is anyone in the world I wanted to meet it was Shakespeare, and Fiennes plays this person we already know and allow him to have more excitement and boldness added to his character, so that we cheer and love him even more.

The only problem I had with this film was very minor and that it didn’t feature much of the play itself and focused more on the romance. I wanted to know more of what happened behind the scenes of one of the most famous plays of all-time, and I didn’t get that much of it.

Consensus: One of the most delightfully charming romantic comedies of all time. With a clever script, wonderful acting, and perfect direction, Shakespeare In Love hits the spot on every level.

9.5/10=Full Priceee!!!

Two Lovers (2009)

In what is to be Joaquin Phoenixs’ last film.

After his engagement falls through, Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) juggles the affections of Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), his beautiful, self-destructive neighbor, and Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the attractive, sensible daughter of his father’s business associate.

This is one of those films that I didn’t know I felt for it after it was over. The emotions of this film are very dark and not like many other romantic films out there today.

The problem with this film is that it just becomes too clear of who Leonard will pick. In a movie a movie that you would expect to be a nuance story about life and depression becomes a little too straight-forward. You expect a movie that has such complexity you would be expecting an ending that would put all the pieces together, it left me groaning at the end.

I enjoyed how the film is a unromantic look at romance itself. It is very honest and very true about what it’s showing and it’s showing that love is something that hurts and also we can’t always control our emotions sometimes they just come out the way they are inside.

The characters in this film are the strong point of this film. I liked Pheonix’s character and felt he was honest and true to himself. Also I enjoyed how both of the women he was seeing were very different in their own way. Paltrow is sexy and wild, while Shaw is very kind and sensible with her life. I felt very attached to these characters and I felt more sympathy for them as it was ending.

The problem that took these characters down was that there was too much attention put on Paltrow’s character. In the middle of the movie they sort of forget about Shaw, and focus it more on Paltrow. I wanted to know how Shaw felt that her boyfriend wasn’t calling her, or talking to her, but I never got that, instead I just got the other story.

Acting in this film is very smart and true. Phoenix gives a very honest performance in this very slow paced acting job. Also Shaw and Paltrow do great jobs to as I felt that there love with Pheonix was very genuine and I did believe in it.

Consensus: Two Lovers, seems a bit too straight-forward but is very true and shows a slow-paced, but wonderfully honest look at love in real life. See this cause of what I hear this is Phoenix’s last film and should be viewed by all who enjoy his work, such as myself.


The Royal Tenenbaums (2000)

Just when you thought your family was screwed up.

The film tells the story of a highly dysfunctional family who’s three children were thought of to be prodigies. 22 years later as soon as their father, Royal, has walked out on them he comes back too make ends meet as he tells them his is sick and only has 6 weeks to live.The very dysfunctional family and new members soon reunite.

The Royal Tenebaums are a family that director Wes Anderson loves and is passionate when writing about this family. As screwed up as they are, he gets people into feeling sympathy for them and we can start liking them. Wes Anderson fully creates characters that we can all love and connect to no matter what state of mood we are in. The Tenenbaum family still has their own little world that they choose to live by regardless of the real world, and I felt very absorbed by their world and life.  Anderson takes the idea of being whimsy and totally super charges it up into simply hilarious.

Mostly what I enjoyed from this film is that it totally seems to be different to ordinary expectations. Mostly about what would happen to this family, almost every single character goes off in every single direction simultaneously. The film feels so alive and you feel like you have no idea of what’s going to happen next.

First of all the ensemble cast is amazing. Gene Hackman plays Royal Tenenbaum, the guy who wants his family back so bad that he turns to deceit every corner. He without a doubt creates this character that we, the viewers, see that we should him despise for leaving his family but you can the sorrow and regret he feels for this and he does amazing as Royal. The rest of the cast all do great, I thought every two scents that they added in made the film a better and more hilarious watch, and basically every character have a lasting effect on the turn of this story.

The only complaint that I had for this film is that at times I felt it could’ve shown a bit more of Bill Murray and Owen Wilson’s character. But it didn’t matter after all cause I was still greatly entertained.

This film is almost nearly perfect. Wes Anderson is great at making these colorful and almost unnatural characters. He is great at casting them and great at giving them witty and humorous lines. The off-beat and absurdest sense of humor that pervades the whole film that is something that makes this film feel so alive. Loved it from start to end.

10/10=Full Pricee!!!