Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Imogen Poots

Sweet Virginia (2017)

Wow. Virginia’s an angry place. Who’da thunk it?

Sam (Jon Bernthal) is an ex-rodeo rider who has seen his better years go by. After a career-ending injury, he’s been managing the Sweet Virginia hotel, where instead of riding on top of bulls, he’s riding on top of guests for being too loud or not paying. It’s a sad life he lives, but if there is one glimmer of hope, it’s Bernadette (Rosemarie Dewitt), who he wants to be more serious with, despite the fact that she’s married. But their lives begin to change when her brother (Jonathan Tucker) is randomly killed, leaving her and his wife (Imogen Poots) left with the bulk of the estate to deal with. And to add a little bit of sizzle to their lives, in walks Elwood (Christopher Abbott), a guest at the hotel who takes a liking to Sam, in a rather creepy way. But who is this guy really? Is he behind any of this? Or, is he just a lonely traveler, navigating throughout the world on his own, without a care in the world?

“Daredevil? Yeah, my series is way better. Buzz off.”

It’s interesting that Sweet Virginia came out the same weekend the Punisher was released on Netflix, as they both feature Jon Bernthal in a lead role, but both also display two different sides of him. In the Punisher, he’s a mad, sad, and scary man with a rough past, and an even rougher set of skills that he uses to kill people in some of the most disturbing, heinous ways imaginable. In Sweet Virginia, Bernthal plays a sad man with a rough past, but he’s also a lot sweeter and more gentle than Frank Castle; whereas Castle wold much prefer to break the bones of those who do him wrong, Sam would like to just hash it out and see if the issue can be solved.

It’s a neat contrast that highlights why Bernthal is such a good actor, because he’s able to be both likable and charming, but also a tad bit dangerous. Which is to say that Bernthal is quite good here, but he’s not the main-draw – it’s really Christopher Abbott’s insanely crazy role as the unhinged and wildly unpredictable Elwood, a character who keeps Sweet Virginia shaking at its core. It such an effective performance that when everything seems all sweet, happy and simple, you can’t help but forget that somewhere out there, lurking in the shadows, is this genuine nut-ball who isn’t afraid to do, or say, whatever comes next to him.

Once again, it’s another sure sign that Abbott is slowly becoming one of our better actors.

How could a face like that be so evil?

Which is why Sweet Virginia, as good as the cast may be, can sometimes seem like it’s depending on them just a tad too much. The story is there and while it’s definitely about these small, sad lives in this equally as sad, small town, it just never becomes as tense as it should. There comes a point where we sort of see it going where it has to go and while it may want to shock and surprise, it doesn’t really do that. It’s more of an interesting character-study that also happens to feature a bunch of blood, violence, guns, and crime.

That said, the performances are still more than enough reason to sit around and watch everything that happens. We get to learn more about them, who they are, what makes them tick, and just why they have a movie about them. Dewitt’s Bernadette, while she could have easily come-off like a cheap floozy, cheating on her husband, taking advantage of the depressed Sam, actually turns out to be a genuine person who wants a love in her life that’s meaningful for once. Even Imogen Poots widow character, although unlikable, is still fascinating in her reasons why. We grow to learn more about these characters as time goes on and although the plot may come second, that’s quite alright with these performers.

Consensus: With a solid cast, including a terrific stand-out from Abbott, Sweet Virginia works best as a slow, contained and rather tense character-study.

6.5 / 10

Who’s hair is more gelled?

Photos Courtesy of: IFC Films

Advertisements

The Look of Love (2013)

The Look of Love (2013)

At one point in his life, Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan) seemingly had it all. He was a Soho adult magazine publisher and entrepreneur that seemed to have all of the money, all of the drugs, all of the women, and all of the fancy people around him to help him out. However, it wasn’t always like that. In fact, before he got on top, Raymond started with just a few adult burlesque houses, where nudity and sexual innuendo was a constant cause for controversy. Eventually, it all came to work out for him, because not only did people want to see naked women, they also wanted to be in the company of them, as well as Raymond, who was, in all honesty, a charming chap. And while he was closer and closer to becoming one of Britain’s wealthiest men, he had some issues to deal with, mostly those in his personal life with wife Jean (Anna Friel), who he can’t seem to stay faithful to, or his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots), who seems to be taking all of the drinking, sex, and drugs a little bit to hard and may prove to be her ultimate undoing.

Life is good when you have Anna Friel on your arm.

The Look of Love is one of those glossy, glammy, and glitzy biopics about rich people having all of the fun in the world. It doesn’t really try to inform or educate us, nor does it ever really set out to change the nature of biopics as we know it; it has a subject, it has a story, and it has a sort of hook. That’s all we need.

But for some reason, coming from director Michael Winterbottom, something seems to still be missing. See, it isn’t that the Look of Love can’t be entertaining when its living it up with all of the excess of drugs, sex, booze, and partying, because it does, it’s just that when that is all said and done, it doesn’t have much else to offer. A good portion of this can have to do with the material just not working and Winterbottom’s rather lax-direction, but it may all just come down to the fact that Paul Raymond himself just isn’t all that interesting of a fella to have a whole movie about.

Or at the very least, a movie in which he is shown as a flawed, but mostly lovable human being.

And it’s odd, too, because Raymond definitely gets the whole treatment; everything from his success as a businessman, to his failure as a family man is clearly shown and explored. But for some reason, it still feels like the movie is struggling with what to do, or say about this man. Sure, he brought himself up from nothing, to become more than just someone, or something, but is that about it? What did he do to get to that? Who was he with? What was the rest of the world like? Any sort of conflict?

And above all else, why do we care?

Truth is, we sort of don’t.

It’s even better when you’ve got a fine ‘stache.

That isn’t to say that Winterbottom and Coogan especially, don’t seem to try here, because they do. As Raymond, Coogan gets a chance to be light, funny, and a little dirty, which is something the man has always excelled in. But when it does come to the movie showing us more to Raymond behind the lovable and wacky facade, the movie stumbles a bit and Coogan’s performance can’t really save things in that department, either. We see that he loves his daughter and is fair to his ex-wives and lovers, but does that really give us a total reason to have a whole hour-and-a-half-long movie about his life and successes?

Once again, not really. It helps that Anna Friel and Imogen Poots are good in supporting-roles, but even they feel a bit underwritten. Friel’s ex-wife character is gone for such a long stretch of time that we almost forget about her, until she shows back up, gets naked, gets drunk, and has some fun, and Poots’ daughter character, while initially promising at first, turns into a convention that biopics like these love to utilize. Granted, she was a real person and the movie isn’t taking any narrative short-cuts in this respect, but still, it just doesn’t wholly feel right.

Was there more to her? Or her mother? Or even Raymond? Once again, we may never know.

Consensus: At the very least, the Look of Love is an entertaining, if also by-the-books biopic of a man we probably didn’t really need a whole movie dedicated to in the first place.

5 / 10

And when you’ve got plenty to drink and snort. But that’s obvious by now.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

Every person who has ever picked up a musical instrument – look out!

Childhood friends Conner (Andy Samberg), Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) were all set to rule the music world when they jumped onto the scene as the hip-hop group, the Style Boyz. They had clever, catchy tunes, that also earned them lots of respect in the rap-game, and made them one of the highest sellers of their time. However, as with most big and successful bands, there was a lot going on beneath the surface and eventually, the band broke up. After the break-up, Conner and Owen went on to stay together, with the later as a DJ playing for the former, who was now known as “Conner4real”. Of course, Lawrence faded into obscurity, almost to never be heard of again, while Conner is literally living out the life of an absolute and bonafide star. But as usual with these kinds of tales, when you’re on top for so long, eventually, you’re going to come crashing down real, real hard.

I think we all know who Andy Samberg's #1 fan actually is...

I think we all know who Andy Samberg’s #1 fan actually is

A movie like Popstar doesn’t deserve to bomb as hard as it did at the box office. It’s understandable that parody/satire flicks aren’t everyone’s cup of Joe and it’s definitely understandable that only a few share of people actually know who, or what kind of creative genius’ the Lonely Island actually are, but still. People out there in this world should have known better and understood that these are the kinds of movie that deserve to be made, should be made, and ought to make a whole bunch of money, because, well, that means more movies such as these.

Then again, I didn’t see the movie in theaters, but still. It’s the principle, people!

Anyway, what works best about Popstar is that yes, it’s the Lonely Island doing what they best; yes, they already had their film-outing with Hot Rod, however, that wasn’t nearly as much as their film as this is. All of the weird and eccentric tendencies of that movie, come out in full-form here where it seems like no matter how hard they try, the Lonely Island guys can’t seem to stop getting lost in their own wild, sometimes screwed-up imaginations. Some scenes go on longer than they should and the comedy just continues to draw itself out, but that’s sort of the point; these guys find the smallest, most intricate bits of comedy that work and they run wild with it until it’s dead in the ground and can’t go on any longer.

But then, they find more and more ways to keep it running. It’s hard to explain here because the movie is so littered with odd-ball jokes and gags throughout, most of which, yes, actually do deliver their laugh-out-loud moments. Bits with an over-exaggerated TMZ parody are downright hilarious; a few songs that actually mock Macklemore are pure things of genius; and even a small gag involving Conner’s “get-up” to hide himself in the public, still has me laughing. It’s not ground-breaking bits and pieces of comedy, but they’re still bits and pieces of comedy that had me howling while I was watching them, while also making me chuckle thinking about them long after.

Palms are sweaty. What? Too obvious of a riff?

Palms are sweaty. What? Too obvious of a riff?

And that, my friends, is when you know you have an effective comedy on your hands.

Of course, the movie isn’t totally perfect. Because it’s a parody flick and not the most sincere piece of storytelling, the times where it does get somewhat serious, don’t necessarily work and it’s because of that reason alone, the middle-act doesn’t flow quite as well as the first and last. It’s hard to describe without having seen the movie, but it’s just a feeling I got while watching the movie; the jokes still hit and made their marks, but they were much more stretched out and in service of a plot that seemed to take a halt for some weird reason.

But then, thankfully, the movie gets back on-track and everything’s back to normal in the final-act, where the jokes continue to fly and the songs get even better. And honestly, it’s hard to do wrong with the Lonely Island when it comes to their jams; they’re well-written, perfectly performed, and actually, believe it or not, meaningful. Sure, a good portion of them are just joke songs about dicks in boxes and whatnot, but a good portion of them do make fun of the entertainment world and the whole idea of what makes a celebrity that it makes them more than just a smart, intellectual jokesters.

Even though that’s exactly what they are.

And with Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer, they’re all perfect here. The movie only really relies on Samberg, which is fine, because he’s still good as Conner, playing up this sort of act, then having to break it all down/ But really, Popstar works best when it’s just allowing for random people to show in, sometimes up off the streets, add a little bit of their own flavor and charm, and remind us more and more that this is in fact a group effort of humor. Will Arnett, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Mike Birbiglia, Bill Hader, Chelsea Peretti, Imogen Poots, Justin Timberlake, and so many others all pop-up, do their things and yes, are actually funny. It’s surprising to get a movie with so many high-profile cameos and yet, have just about each and everyone of them be just as funny as the last one to come through.

It makes you wonder what Judd Apatow could work on.

Consensus: As a satire on the music-biz, Popstar is biting, but also pretty damn hilarious, featuring some of the best and most catchiest songs from the Lonely Island.

8 / 10

Unfortunately, the holograms will never end.

Unfortunately, the holograms will never end.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

 

Green Room (2016)

What’s worse sitting in? The green room? Or, the waiting room?

The Ain’t Rights are a punk band trying to make it big on their own. By showing up at and playing random bowling alleys, coffee shops, and basements across the country, they’re able to make a living and still be happy with what they do, even if it seems like they’re living off of any scraps they can find. But finally, they feel as if their big break has finally come with Oregon, where they have a pretty solid gig booked through a local college station. Problem is, it doesn’t quite work out and the guy who is seemingly responsible for it getting screwed up, wants to make amends by getting them a gig somewhere out in the deep, dark woods, where they’ll be playing for a whole slew of Nazi skinheads. While the band is initially against this idea, they realize that they need the money and could probably work well in the venue. However, once they get there, everything that they expect to go wrong, goes wrong and now, they’re stuck in a situation that none of them know how to get out of alive, or without losing some sort of body-part in the process.

It's more teal than anything, but yeah, I guess you could consider that room "green".

It’s more teal than anything, but yeah, I guess you could consider that room “green”.

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s debut (Blue Ruin), wasn’t the greatest movie ever made, but seemed to do so much, with so little, that it left me surprised and excited. It took what was supposed to be a very conventional revenge story, gave it a greater sense of mystery, suspense, tension, and emotion that doesn’t seem to come with those kinds of stories anymore, and it had me absolutely on-edge for what the guy had to bring next. After all, he can do small wonders with a tired-formula like the “revenge-thriller”, what’s not to say that he can’t do it for every genre, right?

Well, I was absolutely right to get excited because Green Room isn’t at all what I expected it to be, and I loved it for that.

To be honest, Green Room isn’t nearly as deep or as meaningful as Blue Ruin may have been; there aren’t any moments of bare, human-drama, nor is there any actual insight into the human-condition, other than just what happens when you give scared people weapons to play with. But honestly, that’s fine; Green Room is most definitely its own kind of beast that doesn’t need a lot of character development, or heartfelt themes about life and love to get by. What it needs to do is keep its audience excited, tense, and frightened as to what’s going to happen next to all of these characters next.

And yes, that’s exactly what ends up happening. But while I may definitely may make the movie seem like just an action-thriller, without hardly anything brewing underneath the surface, don’t worry, there’s something more to scratch at. Sure, you may have to really dig your fingernails in, but eventually, you’ll find something worth holding on to that makes all of the blood, guts, gore and overzealous violence not seem like a waste of time, money and blood squibs.

After all, it seems like Saulnier knows that he’s dealing with some crazy, over-the-top material and doesn’t try to hold back from that one bit. In all honesty, when the plot gets going and heavy, it’s as bone-chilling and as suspenseful as any thriller/horror flick I’ve seen in quite some time and it never seems to go exactly where you think it is. Saulnier creates this terrifying air that anything bad can, and most likely will, happen here – it’s just a matter of when, where and to whom that makes this movie even more rough.

But trust me, in this case, “rough” is a good thing.

Saulnier may have a lot of violence here, but really, he isn’t using it because that’s all he’s got, or that’s all he wants to say; the violence is as in-your-face, shocking and realistic as you’d believe it, that it almost makes this story harder-to-watch. We don’t get much character-development here for everyone, but for the few that we do, the idea that they could literally be killed-off at any second, makes Green Room all the more of an antsy picture. In a way, you get the sense that Saulnier is tormenting us, while simultaneously, having the time of his life behind the camera, but it seems a lot less manipulative than I make it sound.

What Green Room is, essentially, is a grimy, dirty, disgusting and trashy grindhouse flick that doesn’t try to be anything else but that. Sure, there’s an opportunity here for Saulnier to make a point about race and the divide it creates in this country, but that’s for a much different movie, and not here. What Saulnier really wants to do is give the audience all of the violence in the world, while also reminding us that even if we do like what we see and are getting something of a kick out of it, that there are human lives at-stake here.

Jehovah's witnesses, they are not.

Jehovah’s witnesses, they are not.

Sounds really depressing and serious, but somehow, it works so perfectly.

Oh and yes, the cast is pretty great, too, even if there are some odd, almost questionable decisions made. Everyone in the band is fine and even though none of them are really given much more depth than just “scared kids who think they’re a lot tougher and angrier than they actually are”, it’s still easy to feel something for them in this crappy situation and almost want for them to all make it out alive by the end. You know it’s not really possible, but still, there’s a feeling that’s way too hard to deny. And yes, while Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat are fine fits, oddly enough, it’s people like Imogen Poots and Patrick Stewart who, honestly, don’t really fit too perfectly into this story.

Don’t get me wrong, both are pretty good, but Stewart seems like he can’t decided on whether or not he wants to do an American accent, or stick with his British one, as well as the same for Poots. Maybe this is more of a nitpick than anything, but it was a tad distracting, especially when we were getting these brief moments of actual honest, down-to-Earth character development. What’s most surprising is that the best of the bunch is probably Macon Blair, who was the star of Blue Ruin and seems to be the least experienced out of everyone here, yet, also brings the most depth and understatements to a character who is really hard to pull off. We never know what side he’s on, if he’s telling the truth, and whether or not he’s really just being taken advantage of, but really, it’s hard to take your eyes off of him.

More of him, as well as Saulnier, please.

Consensus: With a gritty, absolutely brutal tone, Green Room takes no prisoners and doesn’t let go of its audience, until everyone feels as dirty and as ugly as the movie’s characters can be.

9 / 10

"She wouldn't dance with another! Woo, when I saw her standing there!"

“She wouldn’t dance with another! Woo, when I saw her standing there!”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Knight of Cups (2016)

The life of a Hollywood writer is so tragic.

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

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

Why so sad? The beach is right behind you!

Why so sad? The beach is right behind you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See?!?

See?!?

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

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

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

But hey, this all just me.

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

7 / 10

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

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

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

She’s Funny That Way (2015)

Thought that call-girls and Broadway went perfect together.

Izzy (Imogen Poots) is a middle-class call-girl who dreams of, hopefully, making it big one day. And living in the Big Apple, that definitely seems like a possibility, as far-fetched as it may originally seem. But the opportunity presents itself even clearer once Izzy meets Broadway director Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson), on what some may refer to as “a date”. Arnold instantly falls for Izzy, but knows that it cannot go any further due to the fact that he’s currently married to the talented and passionate Delta (Kathryn Hahn). With Arnold’s latest play coming up, it’s around that time where casting decisions are made, people get together, and everything has to come into play to ensure that all else goes smoothly with this one production. However, when Izzy comes into a casting-call for Arnold’s play, everything goes South, real quick. Soon, the co-writer of the play (Will Forte) falls for Izzy, even though he’s with Jane (Jennifer Aniston), which makes Arnold quite jealous. This then leads to a lot of neglect on his part of his wife, who then begins to crush a bit heavily on Seth (Rhys Ifans) – someone Arnold already feuds with enough as is.

Let's get these two together!

Let’s get these two together!

After nearly a decade away from doing whatever the hell he felt like doing, Peter Bogdanovich is finally back to making narrative-films once again and this time, it sort of makes me wonder just why he came back at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to have such a legendary talent like Bogdanovich still around, making movies and using his input to hopefully remind those of his influence back in the 70’s, but if he’s going to be doing all of that with She’s Funny That Way, then honestly, I think I’m fine with him staying away a little while longer.

Sounds harsh, I know, but come on!

One of the main problems early on is that Bogdanovich seems to be going for something of a retro, screwball comedy aspect that’s reminiscent of those sorts of films from the 20’s and so on and so forth, but it never quite gels together well. It’s fine to use that brand of humor, find a way to place it in a modern-setting, and see how it all works out, but Bogdanovich leaves a little too much of that up to chance. Rather than actually finding a way to make his homage work better as a modern-day comedy, it feels more like a tribute that never makes it relevancy known; almost as if Bogdanovich himself just wanted to make this so he could show the world that he too loves these sorts of classic films.

And this is all to state the fact that the screenplay, co-written by both Bogdanovich and ex-wife Louise Stratten, is a mess; it’s an unfunny one, for sure, but it’s also one that can never make up its own mind. For one, it treats each and everyone of its characters like little jokes written out on a cue-card, so that we can all wait for the punch-line to drop. Once the punch-line does in fact, drop, the movie then decides it’s time to make us feel sorry and sad for these poor souls of characters, if only as a way to make up for the fact that it couldn’t help but be pointing the finger at them for the past hour-and-a-half. This all happens, coincidentally, around the same time that it’s about time to wrap everything all up, which makes the final-product itself, rushed, and above all else, strung-together by tape.

Which, in case you didn’t get my meaning, is saying that it’s not good.

This is all the more disappointing considering the fact that the cast seems able and ready to service whatever Bogdanovich has them all do, but they never get compensated for it. Surely, they made plenty of cash-money off of this movie, but what good is it when you have the one chance of a lifetime to work with a silver-screen legend like Bogdanovich, and you’re left with nothing more than jokes about sex, therapists, and Broadway. None of which are actually funny, nor insightful, but seem to come so swiftly that they must have to be jokes nonetheless, regardless of if they’re actually effective.

Or, hey! What about these two?!?

Or, hey! What about these two?!?

Owen Wilson, despite seeming like a perfect fit for Arnold, really seems to be sleep-walking his way through his time here. This, I understand, would have been very unsurprising had this movie came out a little over a year ago, but in the past year or so, we’ve gotten a chance to see Wilson stretch his wings out a little more like he once did back in the early days with films like Inherent Vice, the Grand Budapest Hotel, and even Midnight in Paris, highlighting certain strengths that he can play to, if given the opportunity to do so. But that doesn’t happen here and it’s only a shame since Wilson can work well with this sort of material, regardless of if it actually sucks or not.

Then, there’s Imogen Poots who has to put on a Brooklyn-accent of sorts and despite doing well with it, never really makes sense as the main protagonist. In a see of wild and crazy characters, she gets lost in the fray and makes it understandable as to why Brie Larson left it in the first place. Hahn shows up as Arnold’s wife and seems like she’s down to play, but honestly, the writing just isn’t there for her. It’s uninteresting enough as is and it’s a shame because we know that Hahn can do so much better, no matter what it is that you throw at her.

Hell, look at Happyish!

And of course, there’s the likes of Rhys Ifans and Will Forte who show up, do their thing, collect the paycheck and then leave, but in all honesty, they aren’t worth talking about here. The real one is Jennifer Aniston as Jane, the therapist who is constantly pissed-off and tired of everyone around her’s bullshit. Though we’ve seen Aniston play against type in both of the Horrible Bosses movies, here, she really gets a chance to let loose on her comedic-timing and it shows that, while some may not want to look at her in an anti-Rachel light, they may have to get used to it. Because if the rom-com roles begin to dry-up anytime soon, then we know that for certain, given the chance to do so, Aniston can change her act up and while not being as lovely as before, can still make people laugh and want to see more of her.

Consensus: Despite the key talent both in front of, as well as behind the camera, She’s Funny That Way still never comes together as a funny, nor interesting homage to the lovely screwball films of yesteryear, despite clearly seeming to aim for that target.

3 / 10

Or, just get these two together and make something interesting. ANYTHING!

Or, just get these two together and make something interesting. ANYTHING!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Jimi: All Is by My Side (2014)

I think we’re all in agreement here that Jimi Hendrix was a talent-less hack, and that Yngwie Malmsteen is the greatest guitarist to ever touch a six-string.

Back before he was setting his guitar on fire, doing solos with his teeth, or playing the Star Spangled Banner on one instrument and one instrument only, Jimi Hendrix (Andre Benjamin) was just another, up-and-comer in the music world who was trying to make it big in any way that he could. However though, in the music-biz, it’s normally about who you know, much rather than how exceptional of a talent you may be. In Jimi’s case, this is good because he’s not only a solid guitar-player, to say the least, but he is also quite close friends with the likes of Linda Keith (Imogen Poots) who, at the time, was pretty close with the Rolling Stones. She sees something special in Jimi and decides to get him hooked-up with a manager and a bunch of promising gigs. Things eventually turn sour between the two once Jimi is introduced to the native-Brit, Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell), who he strikes up a relationship with. Linda is pretty jealous of this, but she’s also afraid of what this may mean for the rest of Jimi’s career to come.

How can one be so interested, in somebody who is just not all interesting? Oh wait, money. Never mind!

How can one be so interested, in somebody who is just not all interesting? Oh wait, money. Never mind!

There’s an interesting note about the production of Jimi: All is by My Side that actually puts the whole film into perspective. Because the film itself wasn’t allowed to use any of Hendrix’s actual, recorded-songs due to copyright issues, writer/director John Ridley is pretty much left to fend for himself and build off of a part of Jimi’s life that doesn’t have any of his original classics we all mostly know and love. Then again, by the same token, it doesn’t seem like much of that problem affects Ridley’s movie as he more or less is just focusing on Jimi Hendrix before he got big and even had the opportunity to record something like, “the Wind Cries Mary“, or “Little Wing“; instead, we see a Hendrix before all of the fame and fortune hit him like a ton of bricks and he became, as what some would call him, “the greatest guitar player of all-time”.

For better, or worse.

However, where Ridley makes the big problem with this small biopic of his, is that he doesn’t do much to help the heart and soul of this movie to begin with, Hendrix himself. See, here, Jimi Hendrix is something of a shy, soft-spoken musician who definitely has a talent worth paying attention to, but he hardly ever makes a single decision for himself to further himself, and also his career. He mostly takes a back-seat to those around him who constantly push, pull, and struggle to put him into places that will not only make him more famous, but them also a lot richer.

You could say that this is just how the music-business just is and to that, I’d say, sure, you may be correct in most cases. However, when you’re movie is supposed to be focusing on the kind of complex, interesting person Hendrix truly was off the stage, it doesn’t quite help. Not because it makes him seem like a pawn in his own chess-game, but because it doesn’t do much to make him even seem like has anything to bring to the story at all. This movie could have literally been all about the people who talked to and interacted with Jimi Hendrix during his early days, and without even having him show up, you could have had a very intriguing movie. But once you put Jimi Hendrix, the main subject of this piece, then all I’m left to do is take what’s given to me and what’s given to me here is that Jimi Hendrix was not only a bit of a dope, but a not-so interesting one, either. He’s just dull enough in this movie to make it easy to understand why so many of his songs are in fact, covers, and not just original pieces of his own.

But that’s a different discussion for a different day, as what we have here, is simply a movie that deserves a better main protagonist. Because, as hard as Benjamin tries with Hendrix, he just really goes nowhere. Even though his character does go through some personal and emotional transformations over the course of the near-two hours, hardly any of it rings true, nor does it really seem to go anywhere. It’s also not very subtle, either, seeing as how once Hendrix gets the tiniest bit of popularity to his name, he automatically starts beating the crap out of his loving, adoring girlfriend – which wouldn’t haven’t been such a problem, had these not been scenes made-up of total fiction.

Obviously occurred while Agent Carter was on-break.

Obviously occurred while Agent Carter was on-break.

And speaking of said girlfriend who gets the crap beat out of her, Hayley Atwell is actually very good here as the kind of character we’d see in this type of movie and not want to like, let alone, sympathize with. But because Hendrix is supposed to be a charismatic figure, albeit a flawed one, we feel more for her, than we ever do for him and it puts Atwell’s performance into perspective. She makes Kathy Etchingham seem less like a whoring-around groupie who wants to sleep with the next big act, and more of just a woman who falls for a certain guy, who just so happens to be famous, and actually wants to make it work with him. Even despite, you know, the odds totally stacked-up against them both.

Imogen Poots also plays another one of Hendrix’s female acquaintances who doesn’t quite get a chance to take their relationship as much to the next level as Etchingham does, but still feels the want and need to. And we actually want her to, too, because not only is Poots likable and sweet as Linda Keith, but she’s also a realist who seems like she could slap Jimi, wake him up, and have him smell the cauliflower. Because, honestly, who knows what would have happened to him had he not broke it off with both of these lovely ladies. Maybe he’d still be alive, jamming out for all the world to see. Or maybe, rather than burn-out, he’d just fade away.

Oh shit. Wrong member of “the 27 Club”!

Consensus: Despite compelling performances from Hayley Atwell and Imogen Poots, Jimi: All is by My Side mostly suffers from the fact that it never offers any sort of interesting insight into its lead character, and mostly falls back on tired, old rock movie cliches.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Oh, just give me "Purple Haze" already!

Oh, just give me “Purple Haze” already!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

A Long Way Down (2014)

If I ever have to be stuck in the same room as these people, remind me to just kill myself right then and there.

Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) was once a very popular day-time talk show host who found both his professional and personal life ruined when a recent sex-scandal involving him and a minor became known to the public; Maureen Thompson (Toni Collette) is a meek single mom who is struggling with taking care of her handicapped son, while also barely having any personal life to speak of; J.J. Maguire (Aaron Paul) is a struggling musician, working as a pizza delivery-man and is living with the news that he has brain cancer; and Jess Crichton (Imogen Poots) is the daughter of a very wealthy politician who she doesn’t care for and has just been recently dumped. All four of these people are so different in their own ways, yet, they share one common interest: They all wanted to jump off of the roof of the Toppers Building, on New Year’s Eve, which is where they all met in the first place. Eventually, the four decide that it would be best to continue to meet up, talk and see if they can maybe raise awareness for this sort of problem, however, not everybody is so willing to do so, or even capable because of how truly messed-up they are.

Though the reception for this hasn’t been too lovely to say the least, there were two factors really driving me more and more towards this. For starters, the cast is pretty impressive – more importantly because they cast Aaron Paul as an American in a very-British movie, something I was not expecting in the least bit from him. And secondly, this movie is an adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel of the same, who also just so happens to be one of my favorite writers. No, I have not read the book and after seeing something like this, I feel like I should.

Oh, come on, Pierce! Live a little, take that shirt off, and show the ladies that you still like your martini's shaken, not stirred!

Oh, come on, Pierce! Live a little, take that shirt off, and show the ladies that you still like your martini’s shaken, not stirred!

Not to get a better impression of what this film was leading towards, but to somehow wipe the horrid taste of this flick out of my mouth.

Which, for someone such as myself, is really a shame because whenever I see a Hornby-adaptation, I feel like I can always hear or feel his style through the movie; but not here. All of that fun, that wit, and all of that humor seems to be lost here on a bunch of characters that seem as thin as the pieces of paper they originally appeared on, but aren’t likable, or even interesting to get to know better. They’re all pretty miserable, annoying people that try to make each of their lives better, but instead, just annoy the hell out of each other by being as unpleasant as they are humanly capable of. Which, if you wanted to know, is for the whole duration of this movie.

Now sure, there are some nice touches here and there – mostly due to the way the cast handles some of the more schmaltzier moments – but I really couldn’t get past most of this movie’s problems. It has an interesting premise for sure, but the movie can’t do much with it. It just has these characters talk to one another and, presumably, get on each and every one of each other’s nerves, only making the idea of suicide seem all the more reasonable. I know that was a low joke, but you get my drift: These characters are unlikable and to make matters worse, the cast can’t really do much for them either; which is to say that mostly everybody acts the same here, as they’ve acted in about five of their past pieces of work.

Pierce Brosnan is a crotchety old dick that seems like he could be a nice guy, but doesn’t seem like he wants to be and only wants his last shot at fame instead; Toni Collette is charming at times, but even she’s so quiet, you wonder if she would have been better written as a mute; Imogen Poots runs around, yells at people, makes fun of them, gets all up in their business, and gets upset when others don’t take so kindly to her constant line of questioning; and Aaron Paul, bless his heart, is basically just Jesse Pinkman here, except this time, without their being any meth around whatsoever.

Which, honestly, is kind of a shame, because this movie barely has anything that resemble the slightest amount of something “fun”. Now, I know that this is a flick about suicide and people coming to the end of their roads, but still, something like this doesn’t have to be such a dramatic-bore. Especially in the middle-act when we get a chance to see all of these workers make some magic together and let loose a bit. But nope, we never get that. Instead, we just get more and more talk about suicide, why they hate their lives, and why they are annoyed of the other person they’re with.

Betch.

Betch.

In all honesty, if I wanted to sit around a room where a bunch of people said how much they disliked the person sitting across the table from them, I’d just go to my Grand-mom’s place for Sunday dinner. But, I don’t want to. So, when I want to watch a movie that features some very talented people, I want to at least see more than just a bunch of arguments and nagging. I want to see some emotion, heart, insight, and most of all, fun. There’s hardly any of that here and although the film definitely likes to act as if it has a funny-bone located in its body, the mark just never hits. It’s just unfunny and uninteresting.

On second thought, Sunday dinner at my Grand-mom’s doesn’t sound so bad now that I think about it.

Love you, ‘Gams. See you then.

Consensus: Though it is clearly packed with a promising premise, and an even more promising cast, A Long Way Down just never knows what it wants to do with either of it, so instead, just becomes a ill-advised bore that no one wants to talk them off the ledge.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Wah. Go home and shut up!

Wah. Go home and shut up!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Filth (2014)

Still trust your local police department?

Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is one twisted individual. He likes to party hard; screw just about any woman that’s capable of walking, regardless of if they’re married or not; manipulate his way into getting what he wants, from whomever he wants; do as much blow as humanly capable; and do what helps him, and forget those around him. And you know what else there is about him? He’s a detective that’s trying his hardest for a promotion that’s been spurred on by his wife’s hopes and wishes. Bruce knows that if he puts his mind to it, that promotion will be his, and life will be grand for he and his family once again. However, as time goes on, Bruce’s mind starts to get more and more warped up into things that may not even be real – they just make him go all the more ballistic than he really is. Those around him start to take notice and wonder if he’s not only right for the job in the first place, but also if he’s just right in the head in general. Bruce doesn’t care though. As long as there’s plenty of booze, blow, women, and rave music around, then he’s all fine and dandy. Fuck everything else.

I guess the best way to start this review off would be to talk about what really make this film stand-out, and that’s James McAvoy himself. See, with James McAvoy, I’ve always felt like he’s been a good actor, he just has yet to have that role where he’s really showed the world what he’s got and his range. He’s always been the confident pretty-boy in just about everything he’s showed-up in and more often than not, ended up doing a nice enough job to where I didn’t care if he was just playing the same role he’s played before; he’s just always been James McAvoy, playing James McAvoy, in a very James McAvoy-y role.

Oh dad.

Oh dad.

And to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that – so many actors (like Christopher Walken) just live their lives off of playing the same persona, time and time again, regardless of if the character is a different one or not. It’s just that they have this certain “charm” to them that makes their performance all the better and more charming, hence why they’re not changing anything up to begin with. Why fix what’s clearly not broken, right?

In McAvoy’s case, it’s not that there wasn’t anything broken in the first place, it’s just that things were looking to get a tad bit boring on his part. Thankfully, with this role as Bruce Robertson, McAvoy has finally found the role that will not only have everybody look at his pretty-face in a whole new light, but may even have some people thinking of that, with the right role, in the right movie, he could even be an Oscar-contender. I know, a pretty bold statement, but just viewing his work here, I can totally see it.

What McAvoy does well as Bruce Robertson, is that he always lets us know he’s having a good time, yet, never gets away from the fact that there’s an under-lining sadness and depression to it all. Early on, we know that something’s a little iffy with Bruce’s home-life (we hardly ever see him and his wife together, and whenever we do see her, it’s in a strange, flash-back fashion that has her talking directly to us), so it’s clear that all of the good/wild times Bruce is having, definitely seems to have a deeper meaning to it all. Is he doing all of this to get the promotion and ensure that his marriage will stay put? Or, is he just doing all of this rambunctious, crazy shite because he’s a deeply dark, upset, and messed-up dude?

It’s a little bit of both, but what McAvoy does here, and he does well, is that he’s able to turn it on, and then turn it off. He’s able to be the life of the party, that’s always the first one to bring out the coke or whip out his cock; but he’s also the last one to go home without anybody by his side, nor a shoulder to cry on. He’s a sad man, we know this and because of that, we sort of sympathize with him, even while he does do some mean, nasty, and cruel things to others that clearly just want to be a friend of some sorts to him. McAvoy uses Bruce Robertson as a tool to show everybody that he’s not only a very scary-presence to be seen, when given the right material, but that he’s able to make us see him as a bit of a good guy, as well as a bit of a bad guy.

The conclusion we end up coming to with this character at the end, is totally up to us, the viewer. But there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody can come to the same conclusion with McAvoy’s performance in saying that it’s pretty damn spectacular.

It's like Reservoir Dogs, except for the fact that everybody's talking in ways you can't ever understand.

It’s like Reservoir Dogs, except for the fact that everybody’s talking in ways you can’t ever understand.

The problem is that while McAvoy’s great, the movie itself necessarily isn’t. What works so well for the rest of Filth is that it is, for the most part, constantly moving and on its feet. Much like another Irvine Welsh adaptation, Trainspotting, we get an colorful-narration from somebody who clearly seems like their hopped-up on something fun, some sort of music in the background that keeps everything moving, and a bunch of lines that come and go so quick, you may have to either pause and rewind just to get everything clear, or just decide to move on and enjoy the ride while it’s on and running. And that’s why, for what it’s worth, Filth is a pretty good time; there’s hardly ever a moment where the film slows down the brakes to a total halt, and even if it does come close to doing that, it’s only because it wants develop characters and their relationships with others a little bit more.

Nothing wrong with that at all, except for the fact that the movie never really has anything interesting to do with its characters, except for Bruce Robertson of course. The ensemble the movie’s put together is great and really helps the characters grow and be something more than just typical cliches, but nobody can really overcome it all like McAvoy does, who clearly has the best-written part in the whole movie. Eddie Marsan gets a chance to bring some pathos to this material, as well as Imogen Poots, but for the most part, everybody’s pretty wacky and zany, as if they were in some version of a cartoon. Except with this cartoon, there’s more sex, drugs, and boozing.

Which, once again, is all fun – everybody loves a good party, and who doesn’t love them even more when attractive-people are the ones involved with it? Me! I just wish there was just more to this party than just all of the favors we’re promised at the door.

Consensus: The main attraction of Filth is clearly James McAvoy and his wild and crazy performance that sheds some emotion here and there, however, everything else is clearly not as up-to-par, nor is it really all that interesting to make you want to see more of it. You just sort of want McAvoy to keep on getting nuts and have absolutely no shame whatsoever.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Don't worry, James. You're still looking fine.

Don’t worry, James. You’re still looking fine. You lucky bastard you.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Need for Speed (2014)

Next best thing to do after selling the dopest meth? Drive cars. Betch.

After one of his best buddies tragically dies in a street-racing incident, driver/auto-mechanic Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is thrown into jail, even if he isn’t the one who caused the accident. That title blame should go towards Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), an entrepreneur who decides that he’s had enough of Tobey’s ways of showing-off, and wants him gone. Well, in his case: Mission accomplished. Tobey takes the jail-card for a little over two years and you’d think he’d learn his lesson. But nope, as soon as he walks right out of jail, he meets up with his good buddy (Scott Mescudi, aka, “the Man on the Moon”) and they’ve already deviled-up a plan that consists of them getting into this big, annual race to settle the score once and for all. And by actually getting into that race and therefore, being able to face-off against Dino once and for all, Tobey would have to strut his stuff all the way from New York to California, in hopes that the tournament-owner (Michael Keaton) will see him, be impressed and allow him to qualify for the race. However, when you’re driving a fast-as-hell Mustang, and traveling cross-country, it’s a bit hard to stay out of harm’s way, or the law’s way, to be even more exact.

Don’t worry, I get that this is based-off the video-game because I myself, back in my younger days, actually played it and loved the hell out of it. So that means I understand that this movie isn’t devoid from the same material as those the Fast & the Furious movies, but here’s what I can’t seem to wrap my head around: Why would you even bother trying to make a whole other street-racing movie, when that franchise has been kicking ass for quite some time. Sure, right now it has run into a bit of a hurdle, but from what it seems like, they’ve bounced right back and already have a movie zooming into theaters sometime soon.

"YO MISTAAA WHITTEEEE!!!"

“YO MISTAAA WHITTEEEE!!!”

So I ask once again: Why does this movie, another street-racing genre-pick need to exist?

Well, the simple answer is: To make money. That’s it and nothing about it.

That’s all Hollywood is really concerned with, so instead of just making up another story about a bunch of people who like to do underground, street-racing, why not just adapt the story itself from a video-game? Or better yet, how about we just take a random, conventional story, plop the title of the video-game on it and then be able to say, “Oh no, it’s different”? Because that’s exactly what it seems like they did here.

Not only did they take a video-game that people know and definitely love, but they’ve also brought-back the “street-racing movie” genre, back to its root. See, in this day and age where most of our street-racing movies are getting themselves further and further away from the driver-seats, and more into whatever type of action most blockbusters follow, this movie wants us to remember what it’s like to feel the rush of the velocity in the air; the constant life-or-death aspect that comes into the equation when driving insane, ludicrous speeds; and also, how cool you can look and be, when you’re driving a sexy-as-hell ride, yo. And I have no problems with those types of movies whatsoever, in fact, I welcome it, but there’s something here that just really knocked me down, again and again; and I think that all comes down to the fact that this is just about over two-hours.

Yep, it’s that long, and trust me, it does not need to be one bit. Sure, most of the premise revolves around these characters getting from one end of the U.S., to the other, all by vehicle, but they could have easily tightened that part up, or gotten rid of it all the same. Much rather, they could have just had this story focus in on how this Tobey guy wanted to extract revenge in any way possible, and by doing so, he decides to challenge him to the almighty, climactic final race of a life time. That would have been really simple, swift and good for the movie itself, had they decided to go in that direction.

BUT NO!! Instead, we had to get a cross-country field-trip that is about as exciting as being on a chariot with your mom (except we do get to see these people pass an RV), that features these people driving a whole heck of a lot, and pulling-off some mean, nasty and dangerous stunts, just all for the sake that this Tobey guy can get a chance to get his revenge, clear his name and show this baddie whose boss. It’s weird, because although I’m usually good at suspending my disbelief for any movie, just as long as it’s fun, but I just couldn’t here. Every time Tobey would be driving on the wrong side of the road, having near, head-on collisions with various other cars or almost killing a load of pedestrians, I couldn’t help but feel bad for all of them, not Tobey.

In fact, I felt like he, as well as all of his buddies that lent him a helping-hand in all of these shenanigans, were actually somewhat of dicks. Not only did they want to get a chance to prove themselves as a bunch of mofo’s who know a thing or two about racing cars, but they were so dedicated to do so, that they just didn’t care about what the hell else, or who else it was that was around them. They just kept on driving, and driving, and driving, and driving, and after awhile, it downright nearly killed me. By the hour-and-a-half mark, I had about had it up to here with all of the constant revving of the engine, the spinning of the wheels and the violent car-crashes being after-thoughts. Usually I don’t care for this type of petty-stuff in better movies, but here, I totally did and it got to me.

However, what sucked the most, is that I knew I had about 30 or so more minutes left to go.

Like. what is she doing?!?!? Chicks aren't supposed to be doing that, right?

Like, what is she doing?!?!? Chicks aren’t supposed to be doing that, right?

As much as I felt bad for myself, I couldn’t help but want to extend my tender love and care towards the cast, who clearly showed up, trying their hardest. Sadly though, barely anybody comes out of this movie unscathed; not even Aaron Paul. I must say that for Aaron Paul, head-lining in a major-motion blockbuster, post-Breaking Bad, is definitely an inspired, if ambitious choice on his part, but it comes off more like a paycheck gig than anything else. The script only allows him to grit his teeth, stare out from the driver’s seat as he grips the steering-wheel and, occasionally yell whenever necessary. There are some bits and pieces of his natural-charm sprinkled throughout, but overall, it’s just a weak performance from somebody who deserves so much damn better. Oh well, can’t feel too bad though, because he most definitely got a nice, new beach house out of this.

Another strange aspect behind this movie is the fact that both Scott Mescudi and Dominic Cooper are given top-billing in this movie, despite most of the world not knowing exactly who the hell they are (especially Cooper). Sure, people know Scott Mescudi if you’ve ever listened (*cough cough* gotten high) to Kid Cudi’s music, but you’d never know that it was him in this movie, just by reading the poster or the advertisements; same goes for Cooper, who was probably just given a chance to be a big name because he plays the main-baddie here. Regardless of all of this talk, neither are very good, which may be a case of the script, or it may just be because they both read it wrong. Either way, something wasn’t mixing well here and there needs to be someone to blame. My heart tells me the script, but my head tells me the actors themselves. I don’t know. Let me just move the hell on.

The only two in this movie who inject some form of life or energy to be found in this piece whatsoever are Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton. Poots is becoming another one of my famous “darlings” because, as of late, I’ve seen her show-up in stuff and just bring so much life into whatever it is that she’s doing. She’s wonderful here as the British, quirky, free-spirited and very smart gal that Tobey gets stuck riding with for this long trip of theirs, even if it does seem like the script treats her as both “annoying” and “unnecessarily emotional”. I mean, she sticks up for herself, knows a thing or two about cars and even gets behind-the-wheel on more than a few occasions, what the hell is so wrong about that? Damn, men and all their misogyny! As for Keaton, I think we all know by now how hilarious, fun and awesome this guy can be, and that’s no different here. I’ll just leave it like that. On a positive note, despite the fact that the movie was a stinker.

Consensus: Car-junkies will probably love every bit of the two-hour-long Need for Speed movie, however, for everybody else, it will become a real bore, real soon and barely ever change from being anything but.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

Still see no turn-signals on.

Pick a lane, bud!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

That Awkward Moment (2014)

Moments are only awkward, if you make them be. There. I said it.

Three, twenty-something friends since college, decide that they’re going to keep on doing what they’ve been doing for awhile: Stay single, get ladies and party hard, with no commitments at all. Both Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) have been keeping up with this life-style for quite some time, but due to his recent split from his wife, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) joins in on the fun and learns a thing or two about being back in the game. And while everything starts off fine with these guys getting laid every which way from Saturday, eventually, feelings do come into the mix of things and surprise these guys more than they ever wanted to be surprised. For Jason, he starts up a relationship after a one-night-stand with Ellie (Imogen Poots); Daniel begins an intimate-relationship with one of his long-time girlfriends and “wing woman”, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis); and as for poor Mikey, the guy gets back together with his wife, although it’s not fully clear whether or not they’re actually, full-on “back together”, or just “having fun”. For all three of these guys, though they definitely want to stay in the single game for a long time, they end up realizing that maybe it’s time to start settling-down, especially if you’ve already found that special someone to do it with.

We get it, Zac! You're sexy as hell!

We get it, Zac! You’re sexy as hell!

Though I am probably wrong, you don’t usually see a movie being totally and centrally targeted towards “the bros” out there. Sure, you see Apatow flicks where guys are always talking amongst themselves about dicks, farts, weed, boobs, pop-culture and all sorts of other things we associate with Apatow movies, but so rarely do we get movies where young, single and free-wheeling guys, are just being themselves. Reminds me of the good old days with movies like Swingers and…..well yeah, Swingers.

Like I said though, maybe it has been, or maybe it hasn’t been a long time since the last time we just had a movie that solely focused on a group of dudes, the booze they consume, the parties they venture out to and the ladies then end-up snagging by the end of the night, all while still maintaining their “bro code”. It reminds me of the times me and my buddies hang-out, where all we do is talk about whatever comes to our minds first, mainly girls; the same type of girls none of us will ever get. But hey, that’s why you have your guy friends around, right?

Anyway, my point is, since movies like this don’t come around so often (or maybe they do and I just don’t know), they have to work and seem somewhat believable, so it isn’t just a bunch of d-bags spouting-out their ways of picking up insanely-hot woman, and how they are practically rubbing it in your face for not being like them, and getting these insanely-hot women. But sadly, it can be just that. While I do think that these performances were charming enough to win these characters over with me, I could only handle it so many times when I saw a guy like Zac Efron pick up a lady, or two ladies, a night, and say how he craves and wants more. But then, all of a sudden, wants a relationship, and still can’t help but call-up the last-second “booty-call”. It’s fine and all because Zac Efron is a good-looking guy, with a jacked-up body who can easily get any woman in the world that he wanted, but I just don’t want to see a movie about that.

And NO, it has nothing to do with jealousy. There’s just a fine line to where it becomes watching an actor play a role of a guy who is a bit like him, to playing a role of a guy that is him. Got a bit annoying after awhile, and although I did like Efron here and felt like he handled himself well with the script’s calling for humor, too much of his male, macho-posturing could only go on for so long with me until I had to spend the next 12 hours at the gym, trying to rip my body-up just as good as his.

Needless to say, it didn’t work. Damn you, Zac.

As for Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, they fair a lot better by just being charming, without really trying to show-off. Both of their characters are thrown into odd positions where they get put into these relationships, but don’t actually want to brag about it or even tell anybody; so, they keep to themselves and seem like modest, young gentleman for doing so. Made them seem a lot cooler, nicer and maybe with a bit more set of morals than Efron’s character had, although he’s the one we’re supposed to cheering for to get the girl in the end. Personally, I was cheering on Jordan’s character, and it wasn’t because I like him in general, but because he was tapping somebody’s ass he’s very comfortable with and enjoying it: His own wife’s! Good for him, man!

How is "banging in the shower" considered "an awkward moment"? It's the way of life! Just ask the guys at the Golf Club!

How is “banging in the shower” considered “an awkward moment”? It’s the way of life! Just ask my high school football team-mates.

But it’s not like this whole movie is a total dude’s fest from beginning to end, because the lucky ladies that do get thrown into the mix, actually hold their own. Imogen Poots is good here as the sassy, but adorable love-interest of Efron’s character and while her accent can be god-awful at times, she still does a nice job at giving us a reason why we should believe that she’d fall for this guy’s charms, let alone actually stay with him, once she began to find out how much of a dick he could be. Same goes for Mackenzie Davis as Teller’s girlfriend who doesn’t have a really strong back-story going on between her and Teller’s character, but still has a cool-enough presence to where you don’t mind her being around and trying to be funny. Also, you have to commend an R-rated, rom-com that doesn’t show any nudity from the ladies, and in fact, only comes close to showing man-ass, or man-dong. That’s it, and I actually thought that was a smart decision. Showed that we didn’t need to rip these ladies’ clothes off to make them attractive; they just were.

Aside from all that nonsense, the movie itself is funny, but only due to the fact that the cast is so charming. When everybody’s clearly having fun being around one another, it’s a good time. Though the movie itself clearly likes to think it’s “more than just your traditional, average rom-com”, I can’t help but say that, “it isn’t”. There are some bits and pieces of insight, but none really go so far as “Man, relationships with girls are serious, man”, or, “Settling down is hard, man”; and even most of the plot-conflicts end up being resolved quite easily and obviously. Nothing ever really feels at-stake here and while you like these characters and their relationships with one another, if one was to cut all ties with the other, nothing would really make me sad, wishing for the day they re-connected. I would just hope that they found better people to be around, or possibly a new love in their life. Either way, I’d just hope they were happy. That’s strange, right? I don’t know. Don’t listen to me when I ramble.

Consensus: At times, That Awkward Moment can be entertaining, funny and charming, all due to the wonderful, young cast on-display, but that’s pretty much all there is to this plain material. Oh, but it does feature the best cameo of 2014, so far! Trust me, stay for the end credits. You’ll thank me when you see it.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

It's as if Hollywood graduated all of its hot, young, attractive and promising males-under-30 and let them act as if they were over-30. Cappuccinos, scarves and all!

It’s as if Hollywood graduated all of its hot, young, attractive and promising males-under-30 and let them act as if they were over-30. Cappuccinos, scarves and all!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Halloween Horror Movie Month: 28 Weeks Later (2007)

Sadly, no signs of Cillian Murphy’s dong anywhere to be found here.

After a rage-virus ravaged through all of London, the U.S military attempts to take over and try to repopulate the city. Everything goes all fine and dandy until an outsider is let in, then it’s all back to normal for post-apocalyptic London.

Being as that 28 Days Later is not only one of my favorite horror movies of all-time, but also ranks up there as one of the scariest movies I have ever seen, this sequel definitely had a lot to live-up to in terms of scaring me, what it made me think, and how it made me feel. As many people do know, horror-movie sequels don’t seem to do so well in terms of sticking close to the source material but somehow, this flick does even though it definitely feels different without Jim or Selena anywhere to be found. I hope the virus didn’t get the best of them.

Anywho, instead of having Danny Boyle return to the director’s chair for this second-go around, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes over and does a pretty nice job of keeping things promising in terms of mood and atmosphere. It’s pretty cool to see what actually happens when the rage-virus breaks through an already established city and how Juan Carlos keeps us awaiting for that impending doom to occur is what really kept me on-board. I must admit that this isn’t the first time I saw this flick, but it definitely surprised me with some of the scares and what Juan Carlos could do with a bunch of material that seemed to already be used before. However, instead of just trying his hardest to do a good Boyle-impersonation, Juan Carlos sticks to his guns and uses them to deliver a sense of destruction that made me still feel a little scared for my life.

Even though this film didn’t scare the pants off of me with it’s vision like the first one did, I still felt placed in a realistic, if a bit ambitious idea of the world we live in and what it would look like, especially after a catastrophic-event like a zombie break-out. Juan Carlos probably got the memo that more people wanted action, blood, guts, and gore from the first movie, and delivers on all of those accounts by giving us more, more, and more of that. It doesn’t feel needed for this type of story, but given the type of budget they’re working with here and the type of larger-scale they have to control, it feels deserved and works well rather than feeling cheap. The shaky-cam annoyed the hell out of me, but there isn’t much to see in these action moments other than zombies, people getting eaten alive, and a bunch of bullets and blood flying everywhere. So, after awhile, you get used to it and you pretty much get the gist that people and zombies are both getting off’d.

However, being the huge fan of the original that I am, I still can’t go by this flick without mentioning that this one just does not hold a candle to it, it just does not. I hate to make this “negative part of the review” all about my love for 28 Days and how it’s ten-times better than this movie, but it really is and it’s so hard to get by. The whole time I was watching the movie, I just kept uttering to myself, “Oh, Boyle did that better. See that part? Yeah, looked better with the HD-camera.” Maybe that’s a stingy-way to be with a sequel, but when something is obvious to me, hell, I’m going to point it out.

For instance, the underlining political-themes and ideas about the nature of human-beings that ran so rampant in the first-one, are barely anywhere to be found in this. The closest example I could find that connected the first-one to this one in terms of ideas, is the whole idea about how the army can be full of some sickos and I don’t think that really even counts. But for most movies, I can live without a bunch of political-themes and ideas if you give something else to grab-on to, but somehow, this film doesn’t even seem to have that either. All of the characters here really lack any type of development or real heart to them, to really have us root and care for them in the end. And even if we do root for them, it’s only because they’re human-beings and nobody wants to see their own kind get eaten alive by a bunch of rage-infected zombies. That’s the truth, Ruth.

But, when it all comes right down to it, the real-factor as to why this film pales in comparison to the original is that Juan Carlos just doesn’t have the artistic-vision like Boyle does. Boyle has such a real interest and idea for what it takes to make a beautiful scene in such an ugly and grim atmosphere, but it doesn’t really seem like Juan Carlos is all that concerned with that. That’s all fine and dandy, but it does make the picture seem a bit shallow in terms of what it’s trying to offer new and original to the already-tired zombie-genre.

There’s a couple of scenes here and there that sort of reminded me of a “Boyle-look” (that underground safe house scene scared the shit out of me), but nothing else to it. Even though Boyle produced this flick, I highly doubt the guy had a final say in what he thought was best for the final-product and it’s a real shame because this movie could have been filled with so much more brewing underneath the surface, rather than just a bunch of people running away from zombies. In a way, that’s how the zombie-genre is (people running away from zombies and whatnot), but what Boyle offered with 28 Days Later was new, and unlike anything we’ve ever really seen before, whereas this movie, brings the zombie-genre back to where it was taken away from in the first-place. I don’t want to say that I take points away from this movie for not being directed by Boyle, but it definitely goes to show you what a good director can do for your material, if he’s game for another sequel. Please Danny, do 28 Months Later, if it ever happens.

Before I go though, let me not forget to mention the performances in this movie that were all pretty good, except for the fact that some of the characters blew. Out of everybody in this whole cast, Jeremy Renner is the one who really shines as Sgt. Doyle, aka, the same role he would go on to play and get nominated for an Oscar for in The Hurt Locker. Renner just has this utter sense of coolness and warmth to his presence that it’s pretty easy to feel safe when you’re around him in the movie and his character’s motivations feel believable, even if everybody else around him feels like they just watched a Lifetime movie and felt like they wanted to give everybody a hug for no reason.

That’s what brings me around to everybody else in this film, as all of the other characters just don’t really do anything spectacular or show us anything worth really holding onto in the end. Take for instance, Robert Carlyle as Don, one of the guys who escapes a zombie-attack early on in the movie. This guy, from what we see in the beginning, is a rat-bastard who leaves his wife behind to get attacked by the zombies, but then feels sorry for what he did when she turns out to be alive. In all honesty, who the hell cares how this guy feels. There’s no real conviction to him, to the others around him, and when things start to go bad for him, I could care less and even he started to feel a bit shoe-horned in there by the end. Can’t tell you why he does, but the fact is that he does and it got on my nerves, considering Boyle would have never been all about that ish, regardless of if the character was played by Begbie. Oh, now that would have been nice. A good, ‘olde, Trainspotting-reunion in the middle of the zombie apocalypse  Not only do they have to fight-off heroin addiction, but zombies as well. I can already see it now…

Consensus: 28 Weeks Later is definitely one of the better horror movie-sequels out there due to it’s grim atmosphere and mood, but still pales in comparison to what Danny Boyle was able to do with the original and the lasting-effect it’s material it had on you, in terms of horror and emotion. Please come back for one last movie, Danny, please.

7.5/10=Rental!!