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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Joely Richardson

Snowden (2016)

It doesn’t matter if you’re awkward and kind of nerdy – if you can type fast, the world is yours.

Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was just another typical, young dude from North Carolina who had an obsession with Ayn Rand and most of all, wanted to be in the Army and serve his country. However, due to a disability that made it so that any pressure applied to his legs would almost certainly cripple him for life, he had to opt-out for something that he was far better advanced and skilled in: Typing. That’s when he heads up to Virginia, where he learns a thing or two about network systems, hacking, and most importantly, how to maintain confidential information. And for Snowden who, at first, felt like he was doing a justice for his country, this was the perfect life to live; he was a patriot, a hard-worker, while making lots of money, as well as some sweet money with his supportive, but also incredibly liberal girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shaliene Woodley). This all begins to change for Snowden when he not only realizes that the government is using its resources to destroy the lives of, quite possibly, innocent people, but also spying on each and everyone of its citizens for reasons that he apparently doesn’t have the clearance to hear the answers to.

Edward Snowden. War hero?

Edward Snowden. War hero?

Did we really need a Snowden biopic after Citizenfour? Not really, but much like with Man on Wire and the Walk (yet again, another JGL flick), did we really need a movie about Philippe Petit? Probably not, but sometimes, it does help to get a little more info and attention on a subject who, for some reasons or another, may actually need, or deserve it. In Snowden’s case, this is especially true – while he will, in no way, ever be a forgotten person of our times, his cause and what he believes in still seems to be forgotten about, even when people seem to be putting more and more of an over reliance on WikiLeaks, despite all of the issues going on with that website and what it publishes to the rest of the world.

That said, Citizenfour is probably the go-to movie for finding out everything you need to know about Snowden, the person.

Or better yet, by checking out the web itself, even if the government is spying on you actually do it, that is.

But regardless, the tale of Edward Snowden, as done by Oliver Stone, isn’t all that bad. Sure, it’s by-the-numbers and rather conventional, but because the tale of Snowden, how he became someone we know about, why he got there, and where he had to go through, is actually very interesting. Even if you do a small Google search on Edward Snowden himself, you may find one or two things that you didn’t already know about, discovered here – but then again, you may not. Either way, it’s less that Snowden is a meaningless movie, it’s more of a movie that isn’t doing anything particularly ground-breaking, yet, doesn’t have to – it’s telling a story of a person whose life in the past decade or so, has become quite the compelling one.

And while Stone is typically known for the kinetic, sort of crazy outrage in movies such as these, believe it or not, he’s actually a lot more chill and relaxed here – rather than running off the seams, trying to tell us more and more about the paranoid state of mind one must be in while working for the government, Stone keeps everything on even-ground along with Edward, allowing for us to see, hear and think everything that he’s seeing, hearing and thinking at the same time. It actually works in the movie’s favor, especially since a lot of Snowden’s tale is, unfortunately, about a lot of inner-angst, depression and paranoia that only he seemed to feel and for us to feel as if we are one step closer to him, actually works with the movie.

That said, the movie does lack in actually giving us more to the characters surrounding Snowden, even including Snowden, too.

Love at first bit.

Love at first bit.

As Edward Snowden, Joseph Gordon-Levitt does the best that he can – because he’s playing someone with as much personality as a pebble, he has to dial down all of the charm and fun that we’re so used to seeing from him. However, even with the deep-voice and awkward twists and turns of his body, the performance still works; there’s not a whole lot of heavy-acting moments where he loses his cool and stops the whole movie dead in its tracks, but there’s still enough to watch and be compelled by, even when everyone and everything else around him seems not to be so up-to-snuff.

Case in point: Shaliene Woodley and her performance as Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills. Of course, Woodley’s a great actress and lovely as all hell, but still, even her good looks and chemistry with JGL can’t help Mills from seeming like just a case for Stone to get all sorts of liberal opinions and views out there, and also challenge Snowden’s viewpoint and career. It’s too preachy to really work, but it does help that it’s all being done through Woodley, who is able to show some sort of heart and emotion with a character who, quite frankly, needed a whole lot more of it.

After all, she’s a real woman and is the love of Edward’s life. So why not a little more?

As for the rest of the heavily-stacked ensemble, they all fair fine, but once again, they aren’t nearly as developed as they should be. Zachary Quinto and Melissa Leo play the distraught but always interested Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, respectively; Rhys Ifans is hamming it up completely as Snowden’s seemingly evil boss; Ben Schnetzer has a good couple of moments as a fellow hacker within the CIA that teaches Snowden a thing or two and wakes his eyes up; and yes, believe it or not, with barely even ten minutes of screen-time, Nicolas Cage does a pretty solid job evoking a sense of pride, playing one of Snowden’s peers who, like everyone else around him, teaches him something about life. It’s cheesy, but hey, it still kind of works.

Consensus: Perhaps the movie we didn’t quite need, yet still actually get, Snowden is very much a play-by-play of what we can expect from a traditional biopic, but still benefits from an interesting store and a solid lead performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who, unfortunately, has to do a lot of acting, for a lot of people.

7 / 10

And he just keeps typing, and typing, and typing....

And he just keeps typing, and typing, and typing….

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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The Patriot (2000)

Ah. The good old days of when people could actually trust in Mel Gibson to save the day.

During the American Revolution in 1776, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran of the French and Indian War, declares that he will not fight in a war that is not his own. However, his oldest son (Heath Ledger) thinks differently and decides to enlist himself. Though Benjamin is upset with this decision, he knows that it is up to his son to make his own decisions and to be able to live with them, just as he has done with his own. But one fateful night, his son comes back, bloody, beaten-up, battered, and in need of some shelter; Benjamin, obviously, gives it to him, thinking that this will be the last time his son sets out for battle ever again. But Benjamin is proven wrong when, early the next morning, the British come looking for him and want to take his son away. Obviously, Benjamin is against this, as well as the rest of his family, which is when one of his young sons is shot and killed. This is when Benjamin decides that it’s time to quit being a pacifist and to pick up his sword, his gun, and his tomahawk, in order to extract some revenge, the good, old-fashioned way, baby!

Evil.

Evil.

Obviously, seeing as how this is a film from Roland Emmerich, I wasn’t expecting there to be any sort of complexity involved with the occasion. However, what’s different about the Patriot, apart from most of Emmerich’s other movies, is that it seems like he’s actually trying to make this an emotionally-gripping, detailed-story about how one man fought for the love and honor of his family, even when all the odds were stacked-up against him. This, on paper, all sounds heartfelt and kind of sweet, but the way in which it plays out?

It’s the furthest thing from.

For one, as soon as Gibson’s Benjamin Martin picks up his tomahawk, it’s go time right from there. People are shot, decapitated, split-open, spit-on, bled-out, and all sorts of other lovely actions involved with war. To be honest, I’m not one to back away from a movie that contains an awful lot of violence (especially when the violence is as graphic as it is in a big-budgeted blockbuster such as this), but there’s something here that feels incredibly off about the whole movie, that put a sour taste in my mouth.

Because, to be honest, it doesn’t seem like Emmerich gives much of a hoot about whether or not Benjamin actually feels fulfilled when every Redcoat is dead and gone away with; he cares more about how many people get killed, and in how many ways that make people go, “Aww yeah!”, or “Ooh!”. You can’t hate Emmerich for wanting to please his audience, but you can hate him for trying to pass all of that death and destruction with something resembling a peaceful; it’s just stupid and feels ill-written.

But, if I did have to rate this movie as a summer blockbuster, it’s an okay one.

It sure as hell did not at all need to be nearly three-hours, but considering the huge budget it has to work with, it’s nice to see that, at one time at least, Hollywood was willing to put all of their money into a history epic that featured as much gritty and raw violence as a single season of the Sopranos. Though the violence is oddly thrown in there with an inspirational message about standing up for your rights and taking down those who take what means most to you, it’s still effective; through the many war-sequences, we get a certain feel for just how dangerous and hellish the battlefield was, without any bullshit thrown in there.

It’s literally just blood being shed, lives being lost, and more disturbing memories for the generations to come. If anything, that’s as deep and as far as the Patriot is willing to go with any life-affirming message. For the most part, it is, like I said, concerned with just showing how many people can get killed, in all sorts of graphic ways that may, or may not please people.

Naive.

Naive.

Depends on who you are, I guess.

Though the movie tries to dig deep into Benjamin Martin’s psyche, eventually, it just stops and allows for Mel Gibson to do the leg-work for them. Which was obviously a smart idea, because even though Gibson seems to be, once again, playing another man on the search for getting justice and revenge for the loss of a loved-one (see Braveheart and/or Mad Max), the role still fits him like a glove that it doesn’t matter how old it seems for him to be playing. He has that perfect balance of being just vulnerable enough to make you think that the odds could topple over him, as well as being just mean and vicious enough to make you think he could kill whoever he wanted, how he wanted to, and whenever he saw fit. It’s actually quite scary, but it’s the role Gibson’s worked well for as long as he’s been acting and it’s only gotten more dramatic as he’s gotten older.

A lot of other people show up here and seem to be trying on the same level as Gibson, but they’re sadly tossed-away once the movie decides it doesn’t have time for them to stretch their wings out. The late, great Heath Ledger, Rene Auberjonois, Joely Richardson, and Chris Cooper all seem to have shown up, ready for work, but they don’t have anything worthwhile to do. After all, they’re in a Roland Emmerich movie, and when was the last time when of them was actually about the solid performances on-display?

No seriously – when was that? Cause I sure as hell don’t remember!

And the main reason why I didn’t include the likes of Tom Wilkinson and Jason Isaacs in that last paragraph, is because they are sadly given the roles as “the British” here, which means they play, either, nonsensical idiots, or blood-loving savages. It would make sense why the British would have a problem with this movie to begin with, but it’s made all the worse by the fact that two immensely talented actors like Isaacs and Wilkinson were given roles, so limited in their development and scope, that even they couldn’t save them. Sure, they went through the motions and collected the nice, meaty paychecks, but is it really all that worth it?

Consensus: As a summer blockbuster, the Patriot is more violent and bloodier than you’d expect it to be, but also happens to be a Roland Emmerich movie, which means it’s basically all of that, and hardly any depth beyond.

5 / 10

Heroic.

Heroic.

Photos Courtesy of : Super Marcey, Rob’s Movie Vault, Popcorn for Breakfast

Maggie (2015)

Poor zombies. Their craving for human flesh can be so sad sometimes.

After being infected with some sort of virus that’s turned her into some sort of walking, talking, flesh-craving zombie, Maggie (Abigail Breslin) is left with what to make of her life. Or better yet, what’s left of it. While her father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) holds out hope that she’ll get better, with the right medicine and work ethic, Maggie still feels as if she’s not getting any better and is only a few days or so closer to going full-on zombie and eating whatever human is standing in her way. Though her father realizes this, he still stays optimistic. But then again, he also realizes that if the time ever comes around to Maggie become a deadly zombie, then he will be the one who has the duty of killing Maggie once and for all, even if it will probably kill him on the inside to do so to his only daughter and the only lasting memory of his late wife. But killing Maggie in a quick, painless fashion is probably best, especially considering all of the literal horror stories he hears about the government doing to those who may or may not actually be infected with the virus.

So what’s literally the premise to one episode of the Walking Dead, somehow becomes an-hour-and-a-half-long movie in Maggie. And the fact this premise probably didn’t need to be expanded to what it is, definitely shows as there are definite moments where hardly anything happens, for a very long time. Sure, people are sad in these very grim and morbid times, yet, just seeing somebody wallow in their own misery and accept the impending doom that’s coming down their way, doesn’t really do much to keep a movie together.

Sadness.

Sadness.

Which isn’t to say that every movie needs to have some sort of action that’s keeping it moving along, where something is always happening, or being learned, no matter what. I don’t mind that, especially in a movie like with Maggie, where although we expect it to be filled with all sorts of blood, guts, gore, and head-splitting moments that push the R-rating beyond its measures in the way that AMC won’t even allow, we get something much smaller and subdued. In fact, I appreciate that. We do see a zombie or two get chopped in the head with an ax, but the way in how it’s done doesn’t feel like it’s trying to liven things up, as much as it’s just trying to drive the point on home about how in the world in where Maggie lives, friends and neighbors are all killing one another, in a way to survive.

So yes, it’s sort of like an episode of the Walking Dead, but there’s something a tad different about that here.

Speaking of something that’s a tad different here than we’ve ever seen before, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s actually really stretching his acting-gills out in ways that we haven’t seen before and it’s surprisingly effective, although not perfect. As Wade, we get to see Arnold in a role that’s less about how much ass he can kick, and more about how much sadness he would actually feel from kicking all of that ass and harming whoever’s ass he was to kick. Arnold does an alright job in this role as he doesn’t get called on to do much, except just look sad and cry a few times, which he does fine with. In a way, it sort of makes me wonder if there’s more heart and humanity to what Arnold presents on the screen than what we’ve seen in the past few years with his resurgence into the mainstream.

More sadness.

More sadness.

And while Arnold’s good here, he still can’t help but get over-shadowed by Abigail Breslin, a very talented actress who has grown-up just fine. As Maggie, Breslin gets a chance to show us what one person would go through, emotionally and physically, if they were to realize that, slowly but surely, their mind, body, and soul, was all deteriorating into being a walking, hungry, menacing corpse. There’s a few scenes in which we get to see Breslin show some of that charisma we saw from her when she was just a kid and it lets me know that, no matter what roles she takes up in the future, she’ll be just fine.

Problem is, for Arnold and Breslin, they aren’t given a whole lot to work with, if only because Maggie itself is so repetitive and dark, that when it’s all over, you’ll sort of feel happy.

That isn’t to say that the topic of a father losing his young daughter should be filled with laughs, rays of sunshine and happiness, but that also isn’t to say that it has to constantly be as morbid and bleak as it’s presented as here. Here, director Henry Hobson makes it seem like he ran out of anything interesting to say after the first 25 minutes, so instead of just wrapping-up filming altogether, making this an extended-short and calling it a day, he needed to fill-out whatever extra 60 minutes he could work with. At times, Hobson’s able to bring up some very interesting points about coming to grips with one’s own death, but in the end, also feels like it’s just taking it’s time to get there on purpose. Which is to say that, yes, if all you do with your movie is present sadness, despair, and loss, you need certain ways of showing that, that not only feels fresh and somewhat enlightening, but also effective.

But when it goes on for as long as Maggie does, then there’s a problem.

Consensus: Solid performances from Arnold and Abigail Breslin make Maggie into being something more than just a standard zombie flick, but at the same time, still meanders along for no good reason.

6 / 10

And, oh yes, plenty more sadness.

And, oh yes, plenty more sadness.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Event Horizon (1997)

Maybe it’s not the aliens we should fear, but ourselves? Then again, maybe not. They’re freakin’ scary!

Smart, but slightly off-kilter astrologist Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) creates a ship called the “Event Horizon” which, for one reason or another, can create small, black gravity holes and do a whole bunch of other cool and fancy things. The first crew to go aboard the spaceship onto a mission for Neptune, somehow vanish into thin air. Nobody knows how, why or where – they just know that one day, everything went dead. This is when Weir decides that it may be his time to finally go and see what has happened to those crew-members, and most importantly, to his creation, but not without some much-needed, professional guidance first. Enter the spaceship called “Lewis & Clark”, commandeered by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), the type of no-nonsense guy you’d expect to see on such a high-class mission such as this. And for awhile, everything seems to be going all perfect, that is until some of the crew-members begin to see some weird images, that may or may not be actually “real-life” or just plain and simple “hallucinations”. Nobody knows, and yet they are all experiencing them, even Weir himself, who may be getting even more sadistic images in his head than the others.

"....well then you better go catch it!!!"

“….well then you better go catch it!!!”

So yeah, I bet you can already get your pen and papers ready and try to chalk this one up to being, yet again, just another carbon-copy clone of all sci-fi, lost-in-space movies like Alien, 2001, or hell, even Lost in Space itself. And to be honest, if you were to do so, you wouldn’t be wrong; everything that you see here doesn’t have much originality to it in terms of what new technology it introduces, or what sort of logic about its premise and high-tech gadgets it may make us try and believe. But there is something to be said for a movie that doesn’t really try to go out there and re-invent the wheel, but instead, just tries to keep things small, contained, claustrophobic, and straight-up in-your-face, like any good B-movie, you know?

Especially if that B-movie just so happens to be directed by this guy.

Yep, before Paul W.S. Anderson started forcing us to notice and pay attention to how hot his wife is, the guy was another ambitious, inspired and up-and-coming film-maker that had a predilection for big, loud and extremely dumb sci-fi movies. You could argue that his taste-preference hasn’t quite changed since then, but you also could, considering that it seems like he definitely put some thought into these movies, rather than just making the same damn video-game adaptation, time and time again.

I mean seriously, how many times can we honestly see Milla Jovovich blow-off some zombie’s head, while barely-clothed!??!?

But I digress. Mainly what I am trying to get across here is that Anderson is a bit of a joke nowadays (especially being that he’s usually considered “the lesser director Paul Anderson”), but back then, when he was just getting started, the guy showed that he knew how to frame a story, make it tense, make it go all-over-the-place and most of all, make it fun. While this movie definitely starts-off a bit too plot-heavy, eventually Anderson himself decides to throw most of that out of the window and just allow us to feast our eyes on a bunch of characters just losing their cool and not knowing what to believe and take-in as “real”, or “make-believe”. And needless to say, Anderson frames this idea perfectly and actually has us in the mind-set of not knowing just what the hell to believe, or what to expect next. Always fun when you have a movie like, no matter how original its plot may, or may not be.

I guess the "hard-as-nails, take-no-crap black lieutenant cliche" could work for a movie that takes in space.

I guess the “hard-as-nails, take-no-crap black lieutenant cliche” could work for a movie that takes in space.

As you could expect too, the dialogue is, at times, horrendous. The fact that it’s being delivered by some talented, and relatively substantial names, definitely gives it an extra-push to where it’s not as grueling as it may have been with lesser-people involved, but so is not the case here. Laurence Fishburne is definitely the stand-out in this movie because it’s quite clear that he knows exactly what he signed-up for, and lets there be a couple of moments of light in his eyes, shine through whenever necessary. However though, most of the time, he just stone-faces this material, and oddly enough, makes it work because of how strict and uptight this character is. Same sort of goes for Sam Neill who is able to make any sci-fi mumbo-jumbo sound the least bit credible, even if it is abundantly clear, right from the get-go, that he’s definitely a bit of a weird guy who, I for one, would not trust around me for a single bit on Earth with, let alone flying millions and millions of miles into space.

Everybody else that shows up here is fine, too, but I don’t really want to stress any of them all that much because this isn’t really an “actor’s movie”. It’s less concerned with them, and more concerned with how it looks, feels and entertains us as movie-goers, and with that idea taken into mind, the movie does a mighty fine job at doing so. You can clearly tell that most of this movie’s budget went right into the look that Anderson packs with all sorts of 90’s-CGI, that is dated, but then again, it’s the 90’s, so what else could ya expect?!?! And also, any movie that’s as up-front about its numerous amounts of blood, gore and violence as this movie is, always deserves a free-pass from me, especially since it is quite rare to ever get a sci-fi extravaganza that’s rated-R. Maybe that’s why this movie bombed in the first place, but that’s not the point. The point is that while the movie definitely may not have had everybody clamoring at the knees to see it on opening-day weekend, it still seems to have gain a pretty loving, and devoted cult-following; the same one I guess you could consider myself apart of, even though I probably won’t be going to any special events for it anytime soon. Or ever, for that matter. I think a Netflix watch is just enough for me.

Consensus: You can’t wholly expect greatness from Paul W.S. Anderson, but with Event Horizon, you can at least expect him to deliver the goods on a not-so original story that’s fun, exciting and a tad unpredictable, especially once crap begins to hit the fan for everybody involved. Including yourself, the viewer.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Less creepier than before, Sam. Nice job.

Less creepier than before, Sam. Nice job.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Endless Love (2014)

Stupid teenagers. Just study, go to college, get a good job, settle down and shut up!

Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) is just another ordinary, simple teenager that suffered a tragedy when her older brother died. Since then, Jade has practically been a shut-in, devoting her life to the books, her studies, her family who clearly needs her and a future that she may hold at Brown. Sounds all good for this recent, high-school graduate, but there’s just one big problem: She doesn’t have any friends. Not a single one. That’s why when she begins to lock eyes with the brooding, brutish David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), she decides to invite him to her grad-party and to also be her “summer fling”, for lack of a better term. Together, the two build a nice romance that’s built upon the summer bliss, however, her over-protective daddy (Bruce Greenwood) doesn’t want someone like David ruining his little girl’s bright future. This is when he starts to take matters into his own hands by not just having a detective look into this kid’s checkered-past, but also let him know that when it comes to his daughter, he’s the one who gets to say “yay”, or “nay”. Not him, dammit!

Apparently this is a remake of a 1981 film starring Brooke Shields, a movie that I not only didn’t even bother checking out, but didn’t even know about until I actually looked up information about what the hell this movie was about. Needless to say, I might just never check it out, all because after watching this, I don’t think I can handle another sappy, melodramatic tearjerker about teenagers falling in love ever again. Not now, not ever!

Wait till they find out they've been swimming in a vest-pool of leeches this whole entire time.

Wait till they find out they’ve been swimming in a vest-pool of leeches this whole entire time.

So yeah, I have a lot of problems with these types of movies, however, being a bit of a youngling myself, I find it somewhat easy to relate to these types of movies where I watch kids, who are a bit older than me, fall through the same steps that a younger-version of myself one went through. There’s the looks, the butterflies in the stomachs, the awkward first-dates, the even more awkward small-talk, the idea of falling in love and ultimately, the act of sex. I have, and I bet most of you out there have been through the same song and dance, and it doesn’t matter how many times you see it, it never seems to get old.

Which is why for the first 20 or so minutes of this movie, I have to say, I wasn’t too pissed-off. Sure, there were plenty of faults in which certain characters said and did dumb things that would never, ever happen in real-life, but I let it all slide-by because I actually enjoyed watching these two get to know another, hang-out and basically fall-in love. A bit contrived, sure, but Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde were at least fine enough together that I didn’t mind the more saccharine of this movie, as well as their performances.

Speaking of which, being that these two are both models, it only makes sense that we get to see plenty of scenes where they run-around, half-naked, smiling, being pretty and swapping plenty of spit. When all that the film is concerned with, is letting them do that, I can’t really rain on either of their parades. Wilde has the face of a woman that the camera can’t help but focus on just about every single second she’s is in a scene; and Pettyfer, though he’s proven to be used better in far more interesting-material, does what he can to show that the dude is not only a hunk that can with this shy, introverted gal over, but every other woman around him. Hell, even the lady who play’s Wilde’s character’s mom, Joely Richardson, looks like she wants to bang him half of the time!

But as soon as the romance between these two starts to get more and more serious, where other threads start to show up, the movie really gets ridiculous, but not in a fun kind of way either. You’d think that a movie where a house burns down, a zoo is broken into, a man is punched, two dads argue, people get arrested and restraining-orders are handed-out, would be the slightest bit of wacky, insane fun, right? Nope, this movie is just dull, uninteresting and plainly put, boring. The romance we began to fell in love with before, starts to get bogged-down by a bunch of people fighting and acting like jackasses over nothing, as well as more melodramatic moments where we see a bunch of characters looking and acting sad, all to the sweet tuneage of hip, cool indie-bands like the Bird and The Bee.

Why they would even bother putting anything from their wonderful discography into utter garbage like this, is totally beyond me. Sure there was a pretty penny to be made for it though, so I’ll give them that.

Mainly though, this movie’s problems just boil down to the fact that Jade’s daddy is a total, and complete dick, throughout the WHOLE, GODDAMN MOVIE. Once or twice would have been fine, but time and time again, the guy just seems like he’s about to break something if people don’t listen to him, or that somebody stole his lunch money. Either way, the guy never seems like he’s in a good-mood, and even when we do think there is the slightest redeeming-quality to him, that all gets shoved right out the door when we realize that maybe he’s not the perfect husband he proclaims to be. You can call that a spoiler if you want, but I don’t care!

"You're not going to be with my daughter, and you know why? Because I forget to shave today. That's why!"

“You’re not going to be with my daughter, and you know why? Because somebody else accidentally used my toothbrush today. That’s why!”

This movie sucks and what really ticks me off about it so much is that it probably gave me the first actual, “bad” performance I’ve ever seen from Bruce Greenwood, and he isn’t even really terrible to begin with. It’s just that his character is so thinly-written, so one-note and just so mean to everyone around him, without anybody ever standing-up for themselves and letting him know that they are sick and tired of his shit, you have to wonder just why it is that Greenwood even decided to take this character, work with him as long and as passionately as he seemed to, and just why exactly did he even agree to do this in the first place. Was it money the money? I don’t think so, because I sure as hell think that he’s still making plenty of moolah from not only showing up in the first Star Trek, but the second one as well. Or, was it because he was actually given the chance to work with a class-act like Robert Patrick? I’d like to think so, although the two only share one scene together and it might just be the most memorable, if only because they’re so good in general, that you look forward to seeing them clash heads once and for all. And when it finally does seem like the chance has finally come for them to look at each other square in the eyes, yell-out some insults at the other and just try to decide whose dick is bigger, nothing happens. Greenwood just hands Patrick a note, walks away, with Patrick looking at him in utter disgust/shock. And that’s about it.

What a freakin’ bummer, man!

Consensus: Hopelessly-in-love teenagers who want to spend a romantic night at the movies for Valentine’s Day may find themselves welling-up during and ready to make-out with their significant-other after watching Endless Love, but for those of us who may be single, may have standards when it comes to movies, or who knows a flaming pile of dog shit when they see one, will probably be glad they don’t have anyone to go back to for this special day, except for maybe the latest magazine of GQ or Maxim, depending on what your preferences are.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Wait till a crocodile comes up and snatches them both.

Wait till a crocodile comes up and snatches them both. Be even more awesome than the leeches.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

OK maybe I lied, Americans acting like a Swedish people are more effed up.

This is basically the same exact premise as the Swedish original with a young computer hacker, Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) becomes entangled with a journalist, Mikael (Daniel Craig), over a case of a young girl’s death that is over 40 years old.

Never reading the book but seeing the Swedish original, I kind of knew right away what I was getting myself into. Even though it didn’t fully come out the way I would have liked to wish, I still couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Christmas night then watching 2 hours and 40 minutes worth of incest, rape, lesbians, and James Bond wearing glasses.

One of the problems with the remake was the fact that it didn’t really take too much time fleshing everything out from the characters to the mystery itself. Everything sort of just felt a little rushed but with this one, not so much. Writer Steven Zaillian does a great job of keeping this dialogue on many roads but giving them all enough time to flesh out and still seem effective at the end when it’s all said and done. You got to also give Zaillian a lot of credit for not trying to dumb it down for audiences in any way either.

However, this film is solely David Fincher‘s and almost every frame here, he reminds of you that. Fincher has been really getting farther and farther up my list for my favorite director and it’s inspired directions like this that make me understand why I feel this way. Fincher does not put in a scene here that doesn’t mean anything to the plot and instead every scene he puts in adds something more to the story every-time whether it being more material found out about Harriet, Lisbeth boning Mikael again, or just some more crazy-shit going down for this story. Fincher is working his A-game with this flick and doesn’t stop once to slow down or take a breather, don’t go into this blind, you will want to rip your hair out, and that’s something that Fincher likes to hear.

Even though his direction is incredible though, I still felt some tension was a little lost for many reasons. One of the reasons being here is that I felt like he should have at least taken more time with this story because when he does, it puts you on-the-edge-of-your-seat without any remorse. There also isn’t much time for Fincher to build up tension within a certain scene rather than just focusing on a lot of fast-cuts and quick chases in between two characters. There was probably one scene by the end of the flick where I really felt the real deal tension that I would usually get with a ‘Seven’ or ‘The Game’ or even ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ for that matter.

Another reason why I felt a lot of the tension was lost was because this is a re-make and even though some scenes are either changed, left out, or breezed right over that are from the original, I still couldn’t feel like I saw this story before but except with different people. The original film was all about the unpredictability of it and having no idea where this case was going to take either character, and just who was going to end up alive or dead. Here, the film didn’t change all that much so knowing all of the twists and happenings of the plot was kind of a real bummer and sort of felt lackluster for me even though I still do think Fincher gives it his all. You can only do so much with a film that has been by so many in the first place Finch, but I’m glad they gave it to you to direct.

The biggest selling point for this film was in fact The Girl herself: Lisbeth Salander who’s played by Rooney Mara aka that girl that broke up with Mark Zuckerberg in the beginning of ‘The Social Network’. I don’t think anyone ever thought that they would soon again be seeing the same chick about a year and two months later with tats, piercings, and full-on nakey scenes all-over-the-place. To say the least though, Mara is amazing here and brings a lot more to a role that was already down pat by Noomi Rapace. Mara has a lot to do here and in such a demanding role, she makes everything seem believable with a tough-ass character like Lisbeth that at times may go away but you never forget her and it’s only a short-time until she’s back on being a scary chick like usual. Mara definitely deserves an Oscar nomination probably because Rapace got one and I think that Mara should at least get a lot more roles now considering the last time I remembering her doing something this dark was ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ aka the awesome remake….

One of my biggest and bitchiest complaints of the original was the fact that the film barely even focused on Mikael, who was a totally cool character in and of himself. This is something that this film does not do and instead gave me what I would like to say Daniel Craig‘s best performance since he first decked out the James Bond look in ‘Casino Royale’. Mikael is an interesting character and it was cool to see him get a lot of time spent on him even when Lisbeth does come around to eff shit up. Even though he did not stand a chance from taking Mara’s spot-light, Craig is still great and offers up that real human-being aspect of a character that needed more attention to him in the first place.

Everybody else here is pretty damn good as well with plenty of creepy and eerie performances given by Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger, Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, and Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger who with this and ‘Anonymous’ earlier this year has found herself really heating things up and getting our minds away from the fact that she went out with the kid that played her son in ‘Nip/Tuck’. Yeah, it’s a little creepy but then again just watch one episode of that show and it will seem pretty normal after awhile.

Let’s also not forget to mention that this film also features another kick-ass score from the minds of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Every time Fincher teams up with these guys, they just somehow make magic together and almost every scene that is under-lined with another piece of the score music, the more and more creepy the film gets without over-doing it. Also, this film definitely features one of the best and most random opening sequences to a film that I’ve seen all year. You can basically that ‘Immigrant Song’ cover to anything, and I guess that anything here was whips, chains, and very black and oily people.

Consensus: If you have seen the original, everything here may feel a bit familiar and old, but with Fincer’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo you don’t know what to expect with some great tension, non-stop fast pace, and great performances from the whole cast, especially Mara who shows her total role commitment and deserves some type of recognition come February.

8/10=Matinee!!

Anonymous (2011)

So Romeo & Juliet were never real?!? WTF!??!

Who was Shakespeare? This Elizabethan drama imagines that the man we call the Bard really didn’t pen his body of timeless plays. The stages of London erupt in intrigue as the real author of the classics credited to Shakespeare comes to light.

Probably everybody who has ever heard of the idea that director Roland Emmerich (‘Godzilla’, ‘Independence Day‘, and plenty of other destruction-of-the-world films) would actually be taking the subject of William Shakespeare and the theories that he may have not written his own work. I know it sounds crazy but I think Emmerich is back in action.

The film is not really based on actual facts, but it’s more actually historical fiction that tells a story like plenty of other costume dramas. Hell, Shakespeare isn’t even really the main center of this film, he’s more just the dude that basically starts all of the shit-stirring in the first place.

I like this approach that Emmerich took because he actually kept me involved with the whole story, and his subtle touches of telling the story rather than just letting us know a major plot twist just by having one of the characters telling us. It’s a surprise that Emmerich can actually handle this subject matter and not over-do everything, but I guess after basically destroying the world one-by-one in every single one of his films, he realized that maybe he can just take it a little bit easy.

The script is very well-written because it not only shows how dirty and corrupt politics were back in the “Elizabethan” days, but also shows the connection that politics and arts have, maybe even being one and the same. Everybody was so against poetry and literature and to show how so many of these people could find relief and shelter with these two things was surely great because Emmerich obviously has a love for these work’s of Shakespeare and doesn’t let loose of that sight, even as the story gets more and more compelling. Almost every single costume drama seems like the same one before that, and this isn’t much different from plenty of others that we’ve seen before but the grand-spectacle that Emmerich brings to this subject matter is what made me really involved with this film.

Although it all went well with the writing and direction, I still felt myself having some problems with this film. The film is told in flash-backs which had me confused a lot throughout the whole film considering the fact that everybody still kind of looked the same from about the time their flashing back to, to the time they have the film take place in. There was also a lot of characters that we weren’t really told about until a conversation would come up and they would mention that persons name when they would be talking to him/her. This confused me much and sort of took me away from the film and how I followed it.

Another problem I ran into was the fact that this film is over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, which causes a problem considering the middle act begins to drag severely due to some sloppy soap-operaish things going down. When the film starts to dive into some territories like incest and bribery then it starts to feel a bit melodramatic but not as bad as I was expecting it to become.

There was a moment that comes up by the end of this film that feels like it should have been terribly tense and climactic, but instead something just wasn’t all that there for me to actually to feel like I was on the edge of my seat. I think it was the fact that the film takes so long going back-and-forth with its story that it doesn’t really bring out much tension when it came to its story in the present but regardless of this, I still liked where the film went. Basically I’m complaining about nothing.

Rhys Ifans has sort of been that dude on the side in a lot of comedies, just giving his little witty lines here and there, but he is terrific as De Vere. He gives it his all just about every scene and relies more on his serious and dramatic range, rather than his quirks and really has you root for this character because you know he’s a good man no matter what happens. Jamie Campbell Bower plays him as a young bull and is pretty lame considering that it’s obvious he struggles through a lot of his lines.

There have been so many Elizabeth’s over the years that it’s hard to choose who is the best but when it comes to playing a combo-meal of Elizabeth, you can’t get any better than Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson, who are actual real-life mother and daughter. Both of them play their roles to perfection and give her this very sincere and realistic feel to Elizabeth, but still aren’t afraid to show the power they have over everybody around them. Redgrave is a lot more memorable but I think it was a real good choice having these two together was a real smart pick on Emerich’s part.

Rafe Spall is playing the man none other than William Shakespeare himself and is very funny as this drunken and sort of evil guy that just sinks into the fact that he is being hailed as “the greatest writer of all-time”. He brings a lot of fun to this role but honestly, what the hell were his parents thinking with that damn name? Sebastian Armesto plays Ben Jonson and is another weak-link because he for some odd reason, gives his character a deeper tone than it needed to be so he could sound more serious. It comes off as more hammy than actually realistic.

Consensus: Anonymous has its fair share of flaws, but also has some great qualities with some great performances, an interesting story that benefits from some smart theories, and has Roland Emmerich on top of his game doing something else other than just blowing up the world, one blockbuster at a time.

8/10=Matinee!!