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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: John Malkovich

I Love You, Daddy (2017)

Probably intended to be a porno. Title included.

TV producer Glen Topher (Louis C.K.) has a pretty care-free and lax life. He likes his work, he loves his daughter, China (Chloe Grace Moretz), and yeah, doesn’t seem to have many problems. The only problem that seems to be on his plate, at this current moment-in-time, is whether or not he’s going to be able to bag his leading-actress (Rose Byrne), who also happens to be pregnant, for some reason. Also though, he’s got issues with legendary writer/director Leslie Goodwin (John Malkovich), who strikes up something of a friendship with his 17-year-old daughter, making Glen feel all sorts of weird. Does he condone the friendship, that could suddenly turn into a relationship? Or, does he stick his head out of it because, like Leslie, Glen may be a bit of a dirt-bag, too?

So yes, obviously, I Love You, Daddy is a hard movie to review. All controversies aside, the movie doesn’t seem like it will be released in the foreseeable future and if it does, hardly anyone will want to see it. Nor should they: It’s a movie by a known sexual-abuser, that’s literally about sexual politics, what’s right, what’s wrong, men being dirty, and women having to be on the tail-end of it all. It’s like a Woody Allen (which it clearly aims for, uncomfortably so), but with a lot more F-bombs and n-words.

“I’m allowed to lock women up in closets! Come on!”

It’s also kind of funny and well-acted, all things considered.

That’s why, for me at least, I Love You, Daddy gets two ratings; one is for the movie I saw, two or three days before the New York Times article dropped, and the other, is for the kind of thought-process that went throughout my brain, days after having seen the movie, thinking about its intentions, and what it ultimately had to say. Cause for something like this, you truly can’t treat it just like any other movie – sure, it wasn’t made to be watched, thinking about what its co-writer/director/star does to do women inside locked closets and offices, but hey, we know this now and we can’t help but think about this stuff. After all, like Louis himself, we’re only human and can’t help this stuff.

Even though, he certainly could have and should have.

Anyway, I Love You, Daddy is, at times, a funny movie and that’s just because C.K. himself, is a funny writer. He knows how to write conversations between odd-ball characters that, while they may seem a tad unrealistic, still work because they’re enjoyable and funny. It also helps that the ensemble here, is so impressive and stacked, that they make it all work, even when they shouldn’t. C.K. is, as expected, a bit of a blank-slate, but that’s sort of on-purpose – the movie wasn’t entirely made to be just about him. The rest of the cast, like Malkovich, like Moretz, like Charlie Day, like Edie Falco, like Pamela Adlon, and most of all, like Rose Byrne, all get chances to bring some light and fun to this movie and they do.

Get it? It’s supposed to be Woody Allen! How creepy…..

They all shine with the material and sometimes allow us to forget how sleazy and mean it can get. Byrne especially who feels like a real, understated and smart character, and trapped inside something that should have done a whole lot more with her, rather than just having to sleep with its co-writer/director/star. After all, it’s a little strange that she’s pregnant and hardly anyone brings it up.

But once you get past that, don’t forget, the movie is dirty, mean, sleazy, and most of all, troubling.

There are certain conversations that happen in this movie, where it’s C.K’s character, talking and going on about what is right, what isn’t, and what certain people shouldn’t do during sex. There’s a few scenes or so like this, which are entertaining to listen to, but also eerily insightful into the way that C.K. himself thinks and feels about these topics. It’s weird and in a way, disgusting; to think that a man who literally trapped women to watch him masturbate, would write a movie where consent is something joked about, isn’t just stupid, it’s downright wrong. It’s the kind of movie where you know Louis wanted to be smarter than he looks here, but he just can’t.

We already know way too much about him, his perverted ways, and what he thinks is, and isn’t allowed when it comes to sex. I Love You, Daddy only helps to prove his misunderstanding of everything and it doesn’t make matters any better that the movie may never reach the general-public, or ever be seen.

And maybe it’s better off that way.

Consensus: Even with a very good cast and some funny writing, I Love You, Daddy is also a rather queasy, somewhat dirty look into the mind of C.K., which we already know, is pretty troubling.

Before Controversy: 6 / 10

After: 3 / 10

The look on the face of a man who just caught and has seen all of the hard work, crashing and burning before his eyes. Perhaps it’s better that way.

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Unlocked (2017)

Spies don’t even spies.

After failing to apprehend the terrorist behind a Paris attack that claimed dozens of lives, CIA agent Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) is forced to spend the rest of her days in in London, living and working the boring task of being a caseworker. Out of the blue, though, her mentor (Michael Douglas) unexpectedly calls her back into action when the CIA discovers that another attack is imminent. And just like that, Alice is thrown back into the dangerous life of being a spy who has to get any sorts of information, by any means whatsoever. And that’s exactly what happens, although, it’s a lot more violent than she’d ever expected, especially when information she’s able to draw out of a suspect is compromised and she becomes a target of every government agency known to man. Now, it’s basically Alice back on the run, without any idea of where to go, or who to turn to, except to just use her smarts and ass-kicking abilities.

Who’s the more bad-ass one here?!?!

You wouldn’t know it, or hell, even think about it, but Michael Apted’s probably one of the best directors ever. Now granted, he hasn’t necessarily changed the way we watch film, or take it in, but what he has proven, is that no matter where he goes, what he takes on, or whatever the hell it is that he’s doing, he remains consistently good at it. Sure, you can say all that you want about some of his flicks, like the World is Not Enough, or even Nell, but the man has made some pretty great movies, over the past 40 years.

Which is why something as boring and silly as Unlocked feels like a bummer and an overall waste of everyone’s time and talent, his especially.

Which is odd, because spy-thrillers seem to be Apted’s niche; these dark, dirty and twisty tales of intrigue and violence seem to be up his alley, considering he knows how to keep the tension going, even when we’re not sure where the story’s are going. That’s what sort of happens to Unlocked at first, until it just loses all control and hope in ever making sense, or even being entertaining.

See, the best part of these so-called “spy-thrillers”, is that while they are twisty and turny, they still at least have some sense of understanding and cohesion. Meaning, there has to be a rhyme and a reason for someone to turn out to be, I don’t know, either a spy for another agency, or not actually dead all of this time – throwing those twists out in the air and out of your ass, doesn’t quite work. The best part of these thrillers is being able to follow along with everything, but also not knowing what to actually expect next, and yet, still have an idea of where it could go.

Make any sense?

Come on, Mike! Really?

Probably not, but hey, it’s whatever. Unlocked is the kind of thriller that doesn’t ever make sense of itself, its characters, where it wants to go, or hell, what it even wants to say. There’s a lot of twists and turns for sure, but none of them ever make any sense. And when it turns out that we get a twist, a character has to go on and on for a four-five stanzas about why they did what they did, why they were deceitful, and why it’s for the greater good. Which isn’t to say that we don’t see these twists coming from a mile away – one particular character’s evil motivations are noticeable from the very beginning – it’s just that they’re so stupid in the first place, that to have to explain them, more and more and why they should make sense, doesn’t work. It’s sort of like telling a joke – if you have to explain it, it didn’t work and therefore, isn’t funny, or effective.

That’s how it is with Unlocked‘s non-stop twists and turns: They don’t make sense and probably weren’t ever supposed to. Which is sometimes fine, but the movie’s not all that much fun in the first place, with Apted turning in a disappointingly workmen-like direction, where it seems like even he’s bored. Hell, the ensemble who, for some reason, is quite stacked, even feels like they’re giving it their all, but ultimately, fall prey to lame editing and an even lamer script.

Noomi Rapace, as usual, is a bad-ass and knows how to play it, but who her character is, or what her motivations are beyond “saving humanity”, is never quite clear; Michael Douglas shows up to sort of chew scenery; Toni Collette, sporting an Annie Lennox-do, is pretty bad-ass, but also randomly here; John Malkovich sort of chews scenery, too, although why he’s even here in the first place is a total question-mark (I’d ask the same thing about Douglas, although one close look will actually show he produced the damn thing); and believe it or not, the best of them all is Orlando Bloom who, sporting a ridiculous cockney-accent, a crap-ton of tats, and gelled-up hair, seems to be having the most fun, playing up a rare villainous role.

He may be in the wrong movie for this much fun, but hey, I want that movie instead!

Consensus: The cast does definitely try, but through it all, Unlocked is too boring and over-written to really work as a smart, fun, and exciting spy-thriller, despite what Apted’s previous credits may have you hoping and wishing for.

3.5 / 10

“Oy, mate. No mo’ pirate movies for may!”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

The galaxy is vast, wide, and apparently, very British.

Everyday British dude Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is currently battling a bunch of contractors who literally want to build a bypass right where his house is. He’s sad about it and constantly rebels in any way that he can, but when he’s not even thinking about it, he’s taken aside by his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), who informs him that not only he’s an alien, but that the two have barely a minute left to live on planet Earth, as it is set to be destroyed any time now. And well, that’s exactly what happens – Arthur and Ford are then left to roam about the galaxy, until they’re then picked up by a random ship, holding Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), the President of the Galaxy, his kind of, sort of, quite possible girlfriend Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), who Arthur had feelings for initially, and Marvin the Paranoid Android (Alan Rickman), who seems incredibly depressed about everything around it. Together, the group must face-off against the Vogons, aka, those who were familiar for destroying Earth in the first place and don’t seem to be done just yet.

It's okay, Martin. The day will be over soon.

It’s okay, Martin. The day will be over soon.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a piece of cult pop-culture that’s survived as long as it has, based solely by the fact that people still don’t seem to understand it just yet and are still, as we speak at this moment, trying to make sense of all the crazy, madcap and wild adventures that the countless stories had to offer. That’s why a movie made of this source material is already troubling as is – especially when you’re working on such a big budget and have to, essentially, please not just the fanboys, but everyone else who may seem interested in seeing a madcap sci-fi flick for the hell of it. And it’s also why Garth Jennings, try as he might, just feels kind of lost here.

He gets some stuff right, but for the most part, Hitchhiker’s unfortunately seems like another case of where a lot of people had to be pleased and because of that, the movie itself ends up muddled, somewhat disjointed and yes, even messy.

Still though, there’s some joy and pleasure to be had in the messiness.

For one, Jennings does keep the movie moving at a fine, efficient pace, to where it feels like we’re getting a whole lot of story, but it’s always constantly going. The movie also doesn’t just focus on the one plot in particular, as there are some truly weird, yet humorous sidebars that come in, bring in a little flavor to the proceedings, and leave soon so that they don’t get in the way of the movie. While it may be a little close to two hours, surprisingly, the movie breezes by and may actually sneak up on you with how quick it’s going.

At the same time, though, being quick and swift doesn’t make your movie good, or even hide away all of the issues that may be troubling it in the first place. And if there’s a huge problem to be found with Hitchhiker’s, it’s that it’s just not as funny as it think it is. Sure, bits and pieces pop-up in this one adventure and on the side that could be considered “humorous”, but honestly, they don’t always connect; most of the time, it feels like the movie’s just trying to out-weird itself, throwing another wrench at the screen and seeing how they could go any further. A bit involving a character’s two-heads is supposed to be played for laughs and shocks, but is a gimmick that gets old real quick and honestly, doesn’t even seem like a joke, but just a character trait.

Yup. Just one of those days.

Yup. Just one of those days.

And it’s a shame, too, because there’s clearly a whole lot of ambition here coming from Jennings and everyone else, but the movie ends up being about its plot a lot, its odd sense of humor, its even odder sci-fi, and yet, not much else. It is, essentially, an adventure, for the sake of being an adventure, but we never get a clear understanding of anything that’s going on beforehand, so that when we’re told of what’s going to happen and what the clear goal of this mission is to be, it just doesn’t connect. The movie takes a whole lot of time to set-up its weird puns and sight-gags, but forgets to actually build a comprehensible plot that makes the whole adventure, well, feel like an actual adventure, that doubles as a ride we don’t ever want to get off.

But we kind of do, just so that it would chill out and take some more time with itself to figure things out.

The cast are really the ones who save it, as it seems like everyone came ready to play, for better or worse. Martin Freeman is, as usual, perfect as our every man; Mos Def fits in perfectly, showing his goofier side for once; Zooey Deschanel plays it as a ruler and it kind of works, although you’d sometimes wish she would just crack a smile or something; Sam Rockwell goes way overboard, even though that’s probably what was called on him in the first place, so it’s hard to make sense of whether or not it was a good idea; and the voices of Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren, Stephen Fry, and plenty of others all show up, adding a little bit of zaniness and fun to the overall proceedings, almost making us wish we got to actually see them here, as opposed to just hearing.

Because seeing is believing, as all sci-fi lovers know. And Catholics.

Consensus: Odd and goofy, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has its own style of humor that doesn’t always connect, making the over-packed story feel even a little more straining to comprehend or keep up with.

5.5 / 10

What a gang. Now why weren't they more fun?

What a gang. Now why weren’t they more fun?

Photos Courtesy of: Now Very Bad…

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

Live by the oil, die by the oil.

On April 20, 2010, an oil rig out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico exploded, leaving many oil riggers on board, dead, severely injured, and even worse, an insane amount of oil to fill up the ocean and wipe out a rather large chunk of the sea population. In this take on the true events, we get a glimpse into the life of one oil rigger, Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), who is very dedicated to his wife (Kate Hudson), his family, and his job, which means that he is mostly concerned with making sure that each and every member of his crew is safe on board of the oil rig. However, issues arise when certain shareholders and powers that be within BP have some issues with the way the rig has been going as of late; so far, they’re past budget and feeling a lot of pressure from their bosses to get the oil out of this rig, as soon as possible, and by any means neccessary. Of course, this means actually testing the darn rig in the first place, which causes a whole lot of problems and, essentially, sets off the disaster that we’ve all come to know and, unfortunately, may never forget.

"No! I've got to save the day!"

“No! I’ve got to save the day!”

Peter Berg seems as if he’s become the perfect, go-to guy for these true, fact-based tales about hard-working men and women being, well, hard-workers and facing death straight in the face, even when any normal person in their situation would run away and scream for their lives. Berg likes to make tributes to these people and honestly, it’s an admirable task that he has on his hands; he chooses to make movies about the stories that do actually matter and deserve to be told, to a larger audience who may not know the story as is, or exactly what happened. And because of that, another movie in his wheelhouse, like Deepwater Horizon, not only feels like a solid step in the right direction, but hopefully a sign of better things to come with Patriots Day, a film about the Boston bombings that comes out later this year.

Does it really matter though? No, not really. But if anything, a movie like Deepwater Horizon proves Berg to be one of the better directors out there today, but we just don’t know it yet. He’s not necessarily a flashy director, showing off all of the neat and unusual skills that he learned in film-classes or from his peers, nor does he ever seem to be the kind of director who has a statement to make with every flick he directs, with the exception of, of course, showing us that there are average, everyday people like you or I that could be, essentially, heroes. Sure, it’s a little cheesy and melodramatic, but it still works because Berg doesn’t lay it all on thick, as opposed to directors like Spielberg and, oh lord, Michael Bay seem to do.

No offense, Berg. You’re no Spielberg and you’re sure as hell no Michael Bay.

That said, Berg does a nice job with this material as he presents a story that most of us seem to know by now and still, somehow, some way, make it all compelling and tense. There comes a certain point about halfway through the film in which Berg has set everything up that he needs to set up – location, the characters, their relationship to one another, the central conflict of the movie, and why any of this matters in the first place, etc. – and just lets it all spin completely out of control. While that may sound like a bad thing, it works in Berg’s favor; he truly does get put in the heads of these men and women aboard this oil rig and makes us feel as if we are actually there, experiencing all of the carnage and havoc for what they are, which is disastrous.

Sure, you could make the argument that Berg goes a tad bit overboard with it, in the way that he went a little nuts about the soldiers in Lone Survivor breaking all of the bones in their body, but it makes you feel closer to this whole situation. While Berg is trying to tell us a story, he’s not trying to sensationalize anything, either, no matter how many explosions or high-flying acts he lets run wild; he’s respectful of the story itself, but isn’t afraid to also show what the sort of hell it may have been like on-board of that oil rig that day.

Trust the 'stache. It may save your life.

Trust the ‘stache. It may save your life.

Man, and to think that J.C. Chandor was the original director for this.

Regardless, Berg’s recreation of everything here is tense and unpredictable the whole way through, even if, yeah, we know exactly how everything goes down. All that matters most is actually being drawn in by these characters and the cast, which Berg allows for even more. Wahlberg has become something of his muse as of late (he’s starring in Patriots Day), and the two seem to handle each other quite well; Berg allows for Wahlberg to be his macho-self, while also still giving him a sense of vulnerability that makes us see a true human being, stepping up and being a hero of sorts. Berg also gets a lot of mileage out of some really talented actors like Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson, Ethan Suplee, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, and a whole slew of others, but never feels like he’s shorting anyone, at any particular time. Malkovich’s BP member may seem like your typical Malkovich-villain, loud-screaming and all, but there’s a little something more to him than just being a savage-like prick who doesn’t care about the cost of human life when compared to the cost of his shares.

That said, the note that Deepwater Horizon ends on is an admirable one. Berg shows us, in small, relatively subtle ways, that our world is incredibly reliant on oil. While Berg doesn’t ever get the chance to stand on his soapbox and preach, he still shows us that this is what can happen when the danger of more profit and more reliability is out there in the world. Sure, he’s not necessarily asking you to get rid of your cars and start walking/riding bikes, but he’s also asking us to take a second look at what we do with our normal lives and most importantly, just how much we spend when we go to the pump.

Especially to BP.

Consensus: Tense, thrilling, emotional, and believe it or not, exciting, Deepwater Horizon is another true tale from Peter Berg that not only ups the ante on the explosions and deadliness of the situation he’s portraying, but one that’s got something to say and isn’t totally concerned with just blowing stuff up for the sake of it all.

8 / 10

"Coach? I've got a bad feeling about this."

“Coach? I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Jonah Hex (2010)

Some gun-slingers are better left dead.

Having cheated death, gunslinger and bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) has come back from the dead to get revenge on those who wronged him when he was alive and well as a normal, everyday human being. Now, Jonah has certain supernatural powers and skills that allow for him to contact the dead, as well as find out where anybody is in the world. Why? Or better yet, how? Well these are questions that may never, ever get explained. However, while Jonah wants to set out on an adventure of sorts, he’s still considered a traitor by his army, and now, has to make a deal: Stop and kill Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) from releasing these super powerful and disastrous explosives on the White House. Obviously because Turnbull killed his wife and son while he was alive, Hex has no problem with this, but he also knows that he’s going to have to get in contact with the dead an awful lot to ensure that he completes his mission, and doesn’t end up hanging out with some of those that he himself has killed.

"Malkovich?!? Malkovich?!?"

“Malkovich?!? Malkovich?!?”

There are two parts of me sitting here thinking about Jonah Hex. The one part of me wants to be a very smart, thought-provoking and serious movie critic who looks at Jonah Hex as a pile of messy, over-edited and jumbled-up drivel that the studio had absolutely no faith in, so therefore, they just dumped it out to see what could happen. That’s very obvious from the very beginning, to the fact that the movie itself is barely even 81 minutes (end credits included). Someone had the bright idea to make Jonah Hex, but the studio themselves soon regretted that decision and were left with a huge mess on their hands, so, they did what they could, given the tornado they were working with.

Then, there’s the other part of me that enjoys a good movie, even when it’s awfully bad.

And yes, Jonah Hex is that kind of movie.

I think what surprised me the most about Jonah Hex, other than how it got green-lit and was a viable enough option for some of these talented, respectable actors to actually sign up for it, was just how weird and off-putting it is, even for something that was released to over 2,000 theaters in the dead heat of the summer season. It’s not a particularly pretty movie, nor is it a very depressing one, either. There’s jokes and odd sight-gags galore, but when you really look deep and down inside of the story, you’ll realize that it’s pretty damn dirty and disgusting.

Then again, maybe it needed to be. After all, the actual stories of Jonah Hex, from the graphic novels and whatnot, aren’t particularly lovely stories of inspiration and human wisdom, either; they mostly all just feature Hex himself, going out there in the wild West, taking down some evil-doer, drinking booze, saying some witty things, contacting the dead, and that’s basically it. They’re not ground-breaking, or even life-changing stories; they’re just perfect little pieces of pleasure to sit by and read for a little bit of time.

That’s why the movie of Jonah Hex, despite it not being the greatest thing ever made, matches what the comic books actually set out to do: Give us a sense of who this character is and the world in which he exists in. And the world in which he lives in, despite also being placed in some sort of odd reality, is a pretty screwy and weird one – the likes I’ve hardly ever seen of a big-budgeted, mainstream picture, but more of a low-budget, indie Acid western.

If I had to wake up to that every morning, uh, yeah, I'd be pretty fine.

If I had to wake up to that every morning, uh, yeah, I’d be pretty fine.

But then again, yes, the movie isn’t really “good”, by any stretch of the imagination.

Director Jimmy Hayward and writers Neveldine/Taylor may have been fine choices for this material in the first place, if they were working on it separately, without the other’s influence anywhere to be found, but together, it’s an absolute cluster f**k of something I’m still trying to make sense of. Hayward is a competent enough director to where he allows for action-sequences to play out in an understandable manner, but Neveldine/Taylor can’t stop allowing themselves to take all of the havoc one step further, and Neveldine/Taylor are good at creating crazy situations and letting them all play out, but Hayward himself still wants to keep some of the material grounded in at least some sense of reality. Apart from one another, they’re probably great for this kind of material, but together, they overstep one another too much to where you wonder just whether or not these two actually did beat the heck out of one another backstage.

That said, it’s very hard to be bored from Jonah Hex, if you’re looking at it from a strictly film-goer’s point-of-view. The movie does try to take itself seriously, but then a scene later, will decided not to and try to pick up its pieces; the performances are so over-the-map to where you’ll get a brooding, almost subdued Josh Brolin, to having a wildly violent, overly insane villain like Michael Fassbender’s, who even loves the taste of his own blood; the action-sequences themselves are so wild, that it’s hard to figure out who is who, and where; and if that wasn’t odd enough, the whole movie is scored to some sort of mix metal rock opera that makes you think Led Zeppelin got together with the National Youth Orchestra.

Overall, it’s a very odd duckling of a movie, but it was hard for me not to have fun by how ridiculous it can be. It’s not good by any means, but sometimes, you have to rip-off your critic hat and just let some crazy things work their magic.

Even if they’re magic is hard-to-define.

Consensus: Jonah Hex is over-the-top, uneven, messy and just plain weird, but there’s some charm to be found in that, especially when it’s just accepting itself for what it is, which is a crazy acid western that was somehow made for a lot of money and caught big names to it. Heh. No wonder it bombed.

5 / 10

Uh oh. You've gone and done it now.

Uh oh. You’ve gone and done it now.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Burn After Reading (2008)

Never trust those who are “too fit”.

When CIA Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) gets demoted from his job, he decides that it’s time to start the proceedings on his memoir. Somehow, though, the disk containing all of this information falls into the hands of two gym employees, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), both of whom clearly have no idea what they’re going to do with this disk. But they both have the right idea to blackmail Cox for some money, even if they don’t know how to go about it, nor what the actual proceedings are. Meanwhile, Linda herself is in search of a better life that isn’t just working in the gym. Currently, she’s trying to fund her cosmetic surgeries, as well as someone to love in her life. Through various dating websites, she meets the charming and likable Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), and the two hit it off immediately. Strange thing is that Harry, despite being married, also happens to be shackin’ up with Osborne’s wife (Tilda Swinton), which leads the whole situation to end up in some real weird, sticky situations, sometimes with them leading to violence and all sorts of bloodshed.

"Malkovich? Malkovich?"

“Malkovich? Malkovich?”

At this stage in their career, the Coen brothers can practically do anything that they want and nobody is going to tell them otherwise. They have enough Oscars under their belt, have made their studios enough money, and have earned enough respect in the biz to say that they want to make about anything, and everybody will fall for it, hook, line and sinker. As is the case with most writers and directors, they’ve had some mediocre films, as well as some amazing films, but mostly, they’ve made films worth checking out and taking time out of one’s day to watch, because a Coen brother’s movie is, quite frankly, better than a lot of other stuff out there.

And Burn After Reading is the exact reason why they are so beloved.

Though, at the same time, the movie doesn’t show the Coen brothers really working with anything new, or ground-breaking; instead, they’re taking on the whole spy genre, making a farce out of it, and rather than having real, actual spies involved, the movie’s just about a bunch of regular, everyday people who are, yes, goofy and sometimes idiotic. However, they are all searching for the same thing: Money and power. To the Coens, this is perhaps the most interesting aspect about the human-condition, in which seemingly normal people, can be driven so ridiculously mad by the prospect of wealth, that they’d do almost anything to achieve it and rule their own little world.

At the same time, though, rather than being all sad and serious about it, the Coens add a lighter touch onto that whole idea, giving us characters that aren’t just colorful and likable, but also interesting. Sure, some of these characters may come off as very schticky and thin, but the Coens also show how that they’re personalities make who they are and determine every decision that they make throughout the movie. Some characters are, obviously, smarter than others, but nobody here is actually a good person, and there’s something inherently fun and entertaining in watching all of these characters get caught in a crazy web of lies, murder and deception, just for the hell of it.

It also helps that the cast is pretty great, too.

As usual, the Coens work with some of their own regulars who, by now, have mastered the art of the “Coen speak”. George Clooney is exciting, but also very weird as Harry, who always seems to have an issue with the food he eats, as well as an odd obsession with wood-panels; Frances McDormand’s Linda is a total polar opposite of what we’re used to seeing her play, giving us a naive, sometimes sad character who always tries to stay upbeat, no matter what the situation may call for; and Richard Jenkins, as Linda’s boss who can’t seem to stop falling over her, makes you want to give him a hug just about every scene he’s involved with.

We get it, Brad: You're really in-shape!

We get it, Brad: You’re really in-shape!

But the newcomers to the Coen’s also handle their material well and show why they deserve to be in their movies a whole lot more. John Malkovich does a lot of cursing and yelling as Osborne, and it’s so much fun to watch and listen that I didn’t care if his character didn’t get as developed as I would have liked; Tilda Swinton’s character is a bit bitchy and mean, but also seems like she’s got more going onto her that would have been interesting to see developed more, but for what it is, this is all we get and it’s fine; and Brad Pitt, well, let’s just say he sort of steals the show. Not only does Brad Pitt seems like he’s so eager and excited to be apart of a Coen brother’s movie, but he also seems like he really wants to see what’s more to this character that he’s playing – something that isn’t quite seen in the rest of the movie.

Pitt’s Chad, for the most part, doesn’t really care about gaining any sort of money or respect, he’s just around for the fun of it all. That’s clear from the very beginning, once we realize that there’s a certain zaniness and energy to him that’s hard to ignore. This is mostly all thanks to Pitt who, using his grace and charm, shows that while a meat-head like Chad can be lovable, he can also be one you sort of feel bad for, once the situation he’s involved with gets to be a bit too crazy and over-the-top for his own good. There’s something about Chad that I wanted to see more of, but really, what I got was fine enough.

And that’s basically all that there is to say about Burn After Reading: It’s fine, and although you wish you saw more, that’s all you really need.

But hey, don’t just listen to me, let J.K. Simmons tell you all about it.

Consensus: Though it’s not exactly breaking down any barriers, Burn After Reading still finds the Coen brothers in a fun, hilariously wicked spirit that maintains their sense of odd energy the whole way through.

8 / 10

How can these two not have a ball together?

How can these two not have a ball together?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, IFC

Cesar Chavez (2014)

Hail Cesar!

César Chávez (Michael Peña) was a man that believed in sticking up for himself and his people, even if it didn’t mean having to take matters into your own hands. César had a problem with the way Mexican farm-workers were being treated; they made very little, worked for very long and if they decided not to work any longer, then they would be forced to go back to their native country. So yeah, of course César saw this as “wrong”, which is why he decides not to stand for it any longer and get together as many of people he possibly can on his side, to face-off against the powers that be – aka, the head of these major companies making these workers work so hard, long and without much of a reward to show for it. Throughout César’s mission, he goes through his usual ups, his downs and even finds himself questioning whether or not there’s any reason to fight for a cause/group of people, that are clearly out-matched, out-numbered, and out-of-their-element when it comes to how the government does things and if they do so in a moral way, or let the sound of money and pride get in the way of doing what is right.

Well, there you have it, folks. It needed to happen sooner or later, but we have finally gotten the César Chávez biopic. Is it the one we deserve? Eh, not really, but I guess if there is one thing that this movie gets right, it’s that it informs those of us out there as to why this man mattered, why his cause was just and how much his impact has been felt on the world today. With that aspect of the film taken in and thought about, then yeah, director Diego Luna (yes, the actor) gets the job done. No questions asked.

"Twenty-on-one, brah. What you gonna do?"

“Twenty-on-one, brah. What you gonna do?”

However, when it comes down to giving us a heartfelt, emotional and complex story about one man’s struggle to fight for what he believes in, as well as staying true to himself, his values and those who are close to him? Eh, I wouldn’t say so.

See, where I think Luna runs into the problem with this movie is that he clearly loves and has so much respect for César Chávez in the first place, that you never get an sense that we’re watching a movie that’s trying to get us to know exactly who this man. Much rather, we get the story about what this man did, those he cared for and why he believed in sticking up for his people. That’s all we really get and even though I wasn’t expecting Diego Luna to throw out some random bits or pieces of info that would have César Chávez look as if he was a downright, despicable human being, I still would have liked to seen a little more detail into the mistakes he made along the way.

Sure, we get to see that he runs into conflicts with his wife, but only because she feels as if she’s being tied-down too much and not given the time to stretch her own wings and fly around for a bit. And sure, we get to see him have problems with other members of the group, but only because where as he wants to rebel in a calm, sophisticated, no-violence way, they all want to take out their dukes and start rumbling a bit. Oh, and sure, we see how much the law-enforcement acted so wrongly against him, as well as the rest of the group, but that’s only because their a bunch of racist, bigoted Southern assholes that have nothing else better to do with their time, money or house-maids, then just take out their shotguns and wailing it around some.

You get the point now? It isn’t that Luna paints César Chávez as the most perfect person on the face of the planet, but it doesn’t really do much to show him at his faults either. Apparently he wasn’t that great of a father to his son either, which comes and goes as it pleases and only seems desperately thrown in there to create some more conflict and family-drama, when in reality, we don’t really need anymore of it at all. All we really need is an honest story about a man we should know a whole lot more about coming out of, than going into, but somehow, it ended up just being the same. Even for someone like me, who only knows the man of César Chávez, his influence and his impact, through the beautiful workings of WikiPedia.

Ah, what a wonderful and nifty tool it is to have the internet exist in today’s day and age. How wonderful indeed.

Cause with that hat, how could you not be a dick?

Cause with that hat, how could you not be a dick?

If there’s anything really worth seeing this movie for, it’s mainly for the fact that Luna makes a smart choice in giving Michael Peña a rare chance at a lead role for once and a lifetime, and the guy does an okay job with it. I can’t really say that it’s anything spectacular or even better than what we’ve seen him do in some smaller, supporting roles, but with what material he’s given, which is rather thin, Peña delivers. Same goes for America Ferrera who fits-in perfectly as Chávez’s wife, even though she’s given the conventional-role of “the house-mother that sits at home all day, does nothing and just wants to be apart of something fun and exciting”. It’s a role we’ve all seen written a million times before, and somehow, Ferrera makes it a bit more watchable and even creates a realistic-piece of chemistry between her and Peña.

The supporting cast has a whole bunch of familiar-faces, which are great to see and all, but none of them really stand-out among the rest; which, once again, may have more to do with the script, rather than their own acting-abilities. Rosario Dawson shows up every once and a blue moon during this as one of Chávez’s most-trusted supporters; Wes Bentley plays a free-lovin’, hippie lawyer-brah that backs up Chávez when he needs all the help he can get; and out of everybody here, the one who made the biggest impression on me was John Malkovich as one of the owners of these major-companies that Chávez and his people are speaking-out against. Malkovich is clearly soaking up the sun as, who is presumed to be, the baddie, but he actually gives a nice moment of humanism where we see him talk about his days of growing up as a Scandinavian immigrant in America, and how he had to work his way up the ladder to become the man who he is today. It doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s being a total and complete, money-grubbing prick that doesn’t give two hoots about his workers, their families, or their livelihoods, but it definitely does throw us a curve-ball in terms of the way we view this character. Love it when that happens in any movie, and I wish there was more of that in here.

Consensus: Though it boasts a few fine performances worth seeing, Cesar Chavez feels more like a tribute to the man, rather than an actual narrative, where we get to see him for all that he was, good qualities, as well as bad ones, alike.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Still pissed somebody hasn't filled his glass back-up yet.

Still pissed somebody hasn’t filled his glass back up yet.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Being John Malkovich (1999)

If it’s 15 minutes, then sure, give me Malkovich. However, if it’s FOR LIFE, then give me Brad Pitt!

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a sad, bored and out-of-work puppeteer that eventually gets tired and fed-up with all of his wife’s nagging (Cameron Diaz) and decides to get a job as a file clerk at some place where he works on the seventh-and-a-half floor of the building. There, Craig focuses his attention on his work, but also mostly on a smart, sexy and very intimidating co-worker named Maxine (Catherine Keener) who he continues to try and win over, but always to no avail. One day though, at the job, Craig finds a whole new meaning to his life when he discovers a portal behind a huge file-desk that leads to John Malkovich’s brain, where he can only stay for fifteen minutes, until he is dropped onto the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. Strange, right? Well, it gets even stranger once Maxine and his Craig’s wife find out about this portal, where, through some way, somehow, they end up falling in love with the other, almost to the point of where it gets Craig very jealous and able to use anything in his power to break them apart and be the apple of Maxine’s eye.

And poor John Malkovich, the man just gets thrown right into the middle of it all.

So adorable together because they both seem like they haven't bathed in two weeks.

So adorable together because they both seem like they haven’t bathed in two weeks.

So let’s face it, nobody in their right minds would ever believe that something like this could ever happen in the real world, let alone any world for that matter. Science would get so wrapped up into its own twists and turns that eventually, the world would just blow up as a result. Okay, maybe it’s not that severe or crazy, but you get the point: No way in hell could something like being inside of John Malkovich’s mind for 15 minutes ever happen, but that’s the whole point behind this movie. Once you can get past that measly fact, you’ll realize that there’s so much more to Charie Kaufman’s script than just plain and simple weirdness, and actually realize that this is all about the human-condition in which all of us humans from all over the world, no matter what time-period, all long to be somebody else.

Even if that person is indeed, John Malkovich.

Really random choice of a celebrity to have your movie revolve around and include more often than not, but that’s probably what makes this movie so unique; it doesn’t go for the typical ways of telling its story like you’d expect. Sure, once everything starts out and we get a glimpse at what a sad-sack loser this Craig guy is, who can’t seem to nab this hot chick at work, can’t seem to make any money, can’t please his wife, can’t get her pregnant and just can’t seem to do anything even remotely close to “right”, it seems to be like a down-beat character-study of a genuine loser. Then, once that portal is found out, the movie switches in a way that you’d probably never expect it to on a first-viewing, but still adore once you get to the second, or the third, or the fourth time around.

But like that sudden plot-twist right slap-dab in the middle, the movie whole movie itself is chock full of surprises that keep on giving and showing up in ways that never seem to lose you. Everything that plays out inside of Kaufman’s mind may not be the most realistic ideas imaginable, but they sure are fun, clever and original, so who cares about realism and science and all that crap! Just let a crazy idea, run on even crazier and see where it goes! That’s the motto I’d like to think Kaufman had in his mind while he was writing it, but also inside of Spike Jonze’s as well when he was adapting this, which must have been no easy-feet to begin with.

However, knowing Jonze from his background in some rad-ass music videos, the guy definitely knows his way around a camera and how to make anything work, regardless of how cooky it is. I mean now we know this as nothing more than a mere fact, but back in the days of ’99, he was nothing more than an actor-turned-director, who had plenty of ideas and aspirations with what he wanted to do, just nothing to really break off into the world with. But he found it here with Kaufman’s script and we’re all better human-beings for it because while he’s able to play around with genre-conventions and what we usually can expect from stories like this to play out, Jonze cuts to the core of what, or whom, runs this story and make it matter. I’m talking about the characters here, and how each and every one of them aren’t just a bunch things set in-place for the plot to run laps around, but actual human-beings with emotions, feelings, ideas and wonders about other lives out there that can’t help but get all excited and curious about this whole new “Be Malkovich for 15 Minutes”-thing.

But think about it, wouldn’t you be, too?

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that Jonze knows exactly who these people are and why they are the way they are. Some people want to feel like somebody else for the sole sake that they can get away from their small, meaningless lives that are usually full of non-eventful happenings. And whether or not that’s actually true to begin with, doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that anybody wishes they could be anybody, somebody new and different for at least a day. Of course famous people are always on the top of that list, but usually, it’s just that any person in the world longs for a new life full of surprises, love, adventure and all sorts of new experiences that that person may have not been able to have in their old life. Yeah, this all sounds like I’ve been puff, puff, puffing away on the magic dragon, but we’ve all wanted that at one point in our lives. Heck, I want it right now! Oh, R-Gos! You hunk of man, you!

Oh, the third-and-a-half floor? Yeah, that's another name for "Interns".

Every building has a seventh-and-a-hath-floor. It just ends up being where most of the interns get thrown away to before termination.

And that’s exactly the type of people who these characters are in this movie: They long for something more, something that isn’t concerned with their own lives and somebody else’s. John Cusack’s Craig is exactly like that, and while you do feel bad for the guy at first, you do begin to feel like maybe he’s using this new-found freedom for the worst, rather than the betterment and you do begin to not like him. But that’s more of a compliment than a take-away, because with this type of flick, you need to know exactly whose going to use the power to their ability and for the right reasons, or the exact opposite, and take advantage. While Cameron Diaz’s nearly unrecognizable character may go through those same types of shifts at times as well, she too still comes out like a human-being, with a very soft, inner-core that just wants to be loved, be somebody else, but also, still be able to hold grip on reality if she must. Together, the two feel like a realistic, honest and rather innocent couple, that makes it all the more sad when they eventually get broken apart by this fascination with both Malkovich, and this other gal named Maxine, played by the always wonderful and terrific, Catherine Keener.

Keener is always good at playing these slightly snobbish, but also painfully honest characters and she hits it hard on the head right here. Maxine does not pull-back once she sees something she doesn’t like, disagree with or feel comfortable with, and I like how she had no filter whatsoever, yet, making her the perfect object of both of Craig and his wife’s’ affection. She’s so different and mean, that she just has to be the girl that they want to spend the rest of their lives with and be excited about seeing everyday. However though, while it would have been easy for Keener to play it up as this one-sided, cruel and nasty bitch, there is an emotional side to her that begins to show and we realize that maybe her character is the one we’re supposed to be caring about all of this time?

Then again, maybe not as it’s definitely none other John Malkovich himself who deserves all of the love, credit and sympathy for many reasons, but the main which being that he actually decided to do something as weird as this and thankfully for him, it all paid off in spades. Not only is Malkovich the strangest, most random guy to have a movie like this have be its center, but he seems so willing to do anything here. He’s always been a solid actor who, time and time again, has proven that he can surprise us by showing depth and emotion, even in the most sickest and evilest of characters, but he really took me by surprise here when he started to s play-up all of these different sides to his “character”, yet, never feel like he’s just yucking it up for the camera. When Craig jumps into his body, you see a man that is ultimately infused with an endless supply of energy and happiness, and it makes you feel happy for Craig, but also for Malkovich himself as he’s clearly having the time of his life, playing what seems to be his greatest role ever: John Malkovich. Casting doesn’t get anymore genius than that.

Consensus: Strange? You bet your ass it is, but that shouldn’t have you take yourself away from seeing Being John Malkovich, one of the most originally mind-bending movies ever made, with a inner-core to its characters and message that makes it feel more than just a gimmick, but an actual life-lesson as well. Minus all of the sappy and manipulative chord-strings.

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

MALKOVICH MALKOVICH!!

MALKOVICH MALKOVICH!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo,

Red 2 (2013)

Still old, and still have the right to bear arms. So why the hell can’t I?

A couple of years after we left off with the first adventure, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker) have finally taken time to relax and settle down. That all ends abruptly once Moses’ old pal Marvin (John Malkovich), comes back to stir up more trouble, telling him that they have both been linked to a top-secret Cold War weapon, that somehow made it’s way online. They all realize that they can’t just wait around and see what happens and instead, have to go on the run. To make matters worse however, they also find out that a bounty has been put on their head, where their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Moses’ old protégé Han (Lee Byung-hun) are on their tales and trying to get a slice of the pie any which way they can.

Most of you probably already saw by now, but I didn’t care too much for the first Red. Granted, I didn’t hate it, nor did I love it. It was just fun and fine for what it was, and that was that. However, nobody in their right mind was begging for a sequel to it, and I don’t think anybody ever will bother again, especially after this hunk of crap.

Bald heads: Unite!

Bald heads: Unite!

I mean honestly, the first one was no masterpiece to begin with, so how the hell do you screw up a simple plot about a bunch of old people getting back into action, blowing things up, and being a tad bit goofy while doing so? It’s not a hard trick to pull off, which is what the first was able to do with such ease and a laid-back feel, but not this one. This movie feels like it was almost trying too hard to be like the first movie, with the same type of humor still in place but it does not work a bit because it’s not refreshing anymore. It’s an old trick we saw done before and it’s not going to get cooler or newer as by the second, which wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t noticeable why they focused on the comedy aspect of this movie so much.

The first flick was able to balance everything out nicely, but this flick doesn’t have that skill at all. It’s mostly all comedy, all of the time and would have been fine if it was the least bit funny or chuckling, but it’s just not. It continues to go on and on and on, beating the same old joke to a bloody pulp, until it’s practically crammed itself into your brain, as if you needed any more understanding or learning of what the jokes they were trying to throw at you meant. For example, the perfect instance of a joke going on way too long, and way too far was the first time that Sarah saw her man, Frank, hooking up with another gal. For some odd reason, this gets her hormones all up in a twist and she not only decides to up the ante by getting with two guys, but I’d say about three or four. Honestly, I lost track counting because the movie continued to move with it, but instead of having it move somewhere to a spot where it would constantly be funny or inventive to use in a certain spot, it’s continued to be used the same, exact way each and every time.

Like everything else in this movie, the comedy gets real old, real quick, and it never stops. Then again, it wouldn’t have mattered, had the action or the story worked a bit, but they don’t. The plot makes no sense and eventually, I just lost myself wondering, “Why this person was trying to kill this person? Or, why this was happening at all?” The movie oddly begins with the typical plot from the first movie that’s standard, simple, and to-the-point, but then journalists, terrorists, the Russians, and nukes get involved, and it becomes too much of a chore to keep up with, or even care about for that matter. The action is good at points, I’ll give it that, but also looks cheaply-done, as if the studio itself didn’t have enough faith in the movie to perform well enough at the box office to really be granted as much money as the past two Willis action pictures of the year (A Good Day to Die Hard, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). Whether or not the movie’s actually going to make much money at the box office, or at least enough to earn it’s money back is a worry that I don’t give two shits about. I really don’t.

But at least, even in the darkest pit of the movie’s worst, most uninspired moments (which there are plenty of, trust me), the cast is enjoyable enough to watch, right? Well, it’s more of a mixed-bag this time around than the last and that’s because everybody’s doing the same act they did from the first, except it’s more amped-up because it’s a sequel, and whatever you do in the originals, means you have to do a lot more in the sequels. Such as is the case with the likes of Malkovich, Mirren, and Louise-Parker who had me chuckling and happy at some points, but seemed to be using the same old shtick that made them so pleasing to watch in the first movie. Granted, there is something grating about watching Helen Mirren hold up two machine-guns as she blasts the opposing-cars around her, but it can only go so far. She’s rarely in the movie all that much and doesn’t leave much of an impression at all, unlike the first movie where her holding a machine-gun was worth the price of admission alone.

Fire. Machine Gun. Helen Mirren. I need a new pair of shorts.

Fire. Machine Gun. Helen Mirren. I need a new pair of undies.

Still foxy, though. Holy hot damn, is she foxy.

New-comers to the franchise are Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lee Byung-hun, who both seem to actually try with this material, but fall short of juicing anything out of it. Hopkins especially, who probably gives the most disappointing performance out of the whole movie considering he seems to obviously have the spunk and energy that would make this material pop and electric, but his constant ramblings and oddness just bothered me, rather than amusing me. Even if the old joke about “the nut who still talks to his imaginary friends” isn’t funny anymore (when was it ever), don’t tell this flick that. Anything this movie has to throw at you with it’s sense of humor, it will, and if you don’t like it, then scram-off and see a different movie for goddsakes. No seriously, do that.

And last, but sure as hell not least we have Bruce Willis himself, playing Frank Moses in the blandest-way possible. I will give credit to Willis, he was fun to watch as Moses in the first movie as he seemed to have a jolly good time doing his usual “tough guy” persona to the death, and never letting up for a single action scene where it may have called on for him to get a tad physical. However, like he has been known to do in the past, he’s simply phoning it in here as Moses, as if he didn’t want to do a sequel, but just chose to because the money was good and the franchise most likely would not survive without his name attached to it. I don’t think his name attached is going to matter now, since it sucked, but let’s hope we don’t get another sequel. Let’s just hope on that one.

Consensus: Red 2 feels like it’s trying way, way too hard to be like the first one in spots, but this time, with less action and more comedy, that not only isn’t funny, but is repetitive and gets old after about the first 20 minutes or so.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Looks like they just got caught in the act of making a sequel to Red. Oh wait...

Looks like they just got caught in the act of making a sequel to Red. Oh wait…

Red (2010)

They are old as hell, and not going to take it anymore!

Retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has found himself in a bit of trouble when a younger, hot-shot CIA agent (Karl Urban) is hot on his trail. Rather than running away and hoping that he doesn’t get caught, Moses not only takes a possible gal-pal of his (Mary-Louise Parker) along for the ride, but also calls up some of his old pals as well. Some have been waiting for this sort of action all of their later-days (Morgan Freeman); others have just been lounging and relaxing in retirement (Helen Mirren); and well, frankly, others have never left the force and are still waiting to get attacked any second, at any time (John Malkovich). Together, they form the team that they once were and stop at nothing until they unveil the truth about their pasts.

The whole idea of having a bunch of old-farts, go back to their golden days and act all bad-ass and violent again has been just about done to death by now nor has it ever really worked. Most movies like that try so hard to be funny and zany with it’s presentation, that you too, have to laugh at it because honestly, just think about it: Would a small, petite thing like Helen Mirren be able to hold up a huge machine-gun? Well, maybe in the movies, yes, but in real-life: hell no! That’s why movies like these are made; they are supposed to make us laugh by how outrageous they are, supposed to make us feel happy for the old people getting in the spotlight once again, and most of all, supposed to make us feel like we can join in on the fun.

None of these factors that are supposed to work for this type of film, actually happen here, but I still found myself pleased for the most part. Weird, I know, but please do bare with me here.

Totally see the attraction....

Totally see the attraction….

The whole tone of the movie likes to play around with the fact that it’s goofy, but is also very laid-back. A little too laid-back, some may say. For instance, the plot is supposed to be filled to the core with non-stop twists, turns, moments of danger, panic, and heavy-breathing, but since the movie itself seems to take such a lax-approach to it’s material; we never really get to that part where we feel like all hell is going to break loose and that our beloved characters could perish at any moment. Heck, even when one does (and I’m not going to give it away, trust me) bite the dust, quite surprisingly too, I may add; the film plays it off with a shrug of the shoulder, a couple of shots (of Vodka, obviously), a couple of wisecracks about how they’re “too old for this shit”, or something along those lines, and then they’re back on with the story, action, and supposed humor. It’s an odd way to attack a film like this, especially when you’re supposed to have havoc occurring just about every second of it, and it somehow didn’t quite work.

But still, I can’t fault this movie too much because yes, I did have fun and yes, I did enjoy what most of what this flick had to offer me. Could it have been better? Bet your damn tushes it could have been, but I wasn’t going to be hating against this flick for something that it wasn’t, especially when I didn’t see much potential in it in the first place. That means, nope, I have not read the graphic novels that this movie is based off of, but coming from a person who knows what type of movies work and how they should, I know that this movie was not destined for anything more than a couple million at the box-office, some nice sales on DVD, and back to the box of forgotten movies (aka, WalMart $5 Dollar Bin).

But, much to my surprise, I was wrong. Dead-wrong, in fact, and one Golden Globe nomination later (then again, the Tourist was nominated that year as well), the movie screwed-away all of the nay-sayers and just had fun with itself. That was something I was very grateful for, especially when you take into consideration how freakin’ dumb and dull action movies can get nowadays, no matter what type of talent is involved. What makes it so much better to watch here is that not only is the cast the movie working with, very acclaimed and very strange for this type of material, but actually how the movie doesn’t let us forget that this is a dumb action movie that not only did they sign up for, but one that we did, as well. That sharing of fun and joy, is what makes this movie work and at the end of it, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed. Besides, who would pass-up a moment to watch John Malkovich run towards the Vice President with a bomb strapped to his chest.

Okay, maybe that was a bit too weird, but you see what I’m saying. It’s fun, for the sake of being fun, that it’s. Nada!

Even if the material is dumb and only made so that you’ll get the Extra Large popcorn and hopefully come back for a refill, the cast still doesn’t treat it like that, which does sometimes work, and sometimes doesn’t. More of the former than the latter, but the latter is more noticeable. I don’t want to say that Bruce Willis seemed like he was phoning it in here as Frank Moses, but it does seem like the type of performance that the dude has been giving us every so often. He squints, he makes random googly-eyes whenever possible, and just seems as if he’s itching to say everybody’s favorite line. It is John McClane, so you can’t go too wrong when you have Willis and a gun in his hand, but after awhile, the act does get stale and it seems that the dude is more or less just in the mood for getting a new summer house, rather than actually putting in any effort into making his character three-dimensional or fun to watch.

The one who really keeps his character interesting and begging for more is Mary-Louise Parker as his gal-pal, Sarah. Parker has never really got me much in the movies that she’s shown up in, but she does well here with the humor-aspect of her character, and also being able to make us believe that this chick could fall for a dude like Moss, no matter how dull or boring he actually may be, underneath all of the violence and espionage. Of course even for her age, she is still freakin’ smokin’, but looks aside, the chick’s got comedic-chops that are always worth checking out. Along with her other chops. Hayyo!

Cheer up, guys. This is the best you're going to get. Okay, that's a lie, but still: cheer the fuck up!

Cheer up, guys. This is the best you’re going to get. Okay, that’s a lie, but still: cheer the fuck up!

Helen Mirren doesn’t let Parker steal her spotlight as being the only chick that has something bad-ass to say or do, and gets to show us why she’s still so damn foxy, fun, vibrant, and awesome to watch, no matter what the hell it is that she does. Yes, she played the Queen no less than 7 years ago, and here she is, holding up a machine-gun and letting the mofo’s have it. Awesome. John Malkovich seems like his role as the paranoid, loose cannon of the group would be tailor-made for a dude who’s made a career out of these types of roles, but much to my dismay, played it straight most of the time. It was still entertaining to watch this guy play around with a character that’s a bit loopy in the head, but he never goes so far, to the point of where you can really tell this guy couldn’t wait to start killing people, something that, I think I speak for everybody else when I say, is what seems to go through Malkovich’s mind whenever he plays characters like these.

Lastly, rounding everybody else out here, is Morgan Freeman as the oldest dude of the group, who also happens to be diagnosed with liver cancer and is need of this fun and adventure the most. Freeman is good in the role, even if it doesn’t seem totally right for him, considering how unsubstantial his character is to the plot, and how half of the time the dude is just sitting around, smiling, and poppin’ B’s, as he checks out the house-maids “fix” the television. Yup, apparently when you get old, that’s all you have to live for: boners. Even if you are Morgan fuckin’ Freeman.

Consensus: Some of it tries to be more witty and wild than it actually is, but Red still stays fun, light, energetic, and well-acted enough to be worth a watch, even if you do just want a silly action movie, with non-other than Dame Helen Mirren holding up a machine-gun. Seriously, it’s so awesome to see occur on-screen.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

See what I'm talking about!!!

See what I’m talking about!?!?!

Changeling (2008)

Maybe this should be a sign to you, Angie, that it’s time to stop adopting so many damn kids!

Christine Collins’ (Angelina Jolie) prayers are met when her kidnapped son is returned. But amidst the frenzy of the photo-op reunion, she realizes this child is not hers. Facing corrupt police and a skeptical public, she desperately hunts for answers, only to be confronted by a truth that will change her forever.

That plot-synopsis up there that this movie is based on, apparently is all true and surprisingly happened during the 20’s/30’s. But what I find so funny about that idea, is that the movie writes it as “A True Story”, rather than playing it safe and going with “based on a true story”, or “inspired by true events”. You can get away with so much more if you with the two former-options, but nooooo, Clint Eastwood is taking a stand and believes in what he sees. Sadly, it is Clint Eastwood were talking about here, and nothing is as realistic or as simple as it may look on paper.

The problem that Eastwood runs into with most of his films (this one especially), is that he never seems to really focus on one aspect of the whole story. Instead, the guy goes for everything that’s involved and feels the need to load his film up with exposition, random details, unheard of hints, and unnecessary subplots, just in hope that it will spice things up and keep the audiences attention up on-screen. This just becomes a total jumble of randomness that could have really worked, had it been taken-down a notch by about 3 or 4 story-lines. That’s why when he does dial it down, it works perfectly and helps the story guide a simpler-path than it had before. However, the times when he doesn’t and just feels the need to add and add some more layers to a story that’s already as simple as it can be, then it can be a bit bothersome and that’s the problem with this movie here. Too much, too little needed.

If this was France, he'd be the villain.

If this was France, he’d be the villain.

However, it isn’t always like this. For the first 30 minutes or so, the movie focuses on Collins as she looks for her son, finds him, realizes he’s a fake, and then decides to take matters into her own hands and bother the hell out of everybody involved with the investigation. Right here in the beginning is actually  compelling and kept me interested into where I could see it going, and especially when you realize that the way all of these cops are in this movie, are pretty much they were in real-life. It’s a shame that it’s a true-story but hey, I guess it had to happen. Now, after Collins runs into a big problem with the police department, then things go south for her real quick and ultimately, is where things go south for the movie as well. Instead of sticking to Collins’ story, we get a story about the corruption of the L.A. police department that ran rampant during the 20’s/30’s, then we get a story that’s about this serial killer that seems reasonable but also takes away from Collins’ own story, a story about the psychiatric ward and how all women who ‘effed with the cops got shipped off to there, and then another story about how Collins needs to move on. All of these stories seem like they serve a purpose to the big idea at-hand here, but still never mesh well together and only keep us further and further away from the actual story we started off with: Collins finding her son.

All of this piling-up of ideas and story-lines just creates a very long, drawn-out piece of work that never, ever needed to be 2 hours and 24-minutes long. I mean, I guess Eastwood didn’t want to leave out any details, but Christ man! At least give me the Spark Note version of everything that’s happening, rather than the College Textbook! I can’t rag on Clint’s case too much because the guy does have some nice-moments here and some important things to say, but he needed to buckle-down on that time-limit. Without this long-ass time-limit, I may not have been as bothered as I truly was.

However, where the story seems to fly-around wherever it sees fit, the one person keeping it all glued together is Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins. When Jolie isn’t off with her hubby Brad, taking care of 7 kids, or shooting at people in her latest, action blockbuster, she’s actually out there giving some understated, grounded performances that may shock some people considering she hasn’t really been known for doing that as of late. Jolie does an awesome job as Christine because she allows that sympathy and love we feel for her, shine through every-frame of the movie and you can really feel the utter sadness and depression coming from this problem in her life. Obviously losing a kid is no happy-thang, but instead of making it a non-stop problem that gets old, real quick, Jolie keeps us watching and having us wait to see more layers of her come pouring right out. It’s great to see Jolie like this and I can only hope that she continues to do more of it. You know, when she isn’t off with her hubby Brad, taking care of 7 kids, or shooting at people in her latest, action blockbuster

Changeling2

Even in the 20’s, the paparazzi still can’t get enough of Gina-feva.

Her main co-star, John Malkovich, is practically given a top-billing next to her name but yet, still isn’t in it as much as you would expect from a big-name like his. Malkovich plays Reverend Gustav Brigleb, one of the guys who first sticks up for Christine, and plays him very well but not as spirited or as energetic as we’ve seen this guy act before. It’s a nice performance, no doubt about that, but a bit of a disappointment considering we all know what he can bring to a movie. Maybe more time could have been given to him, his character, his emotions, and his motivations for helping-out Christine, rather than the 500 other stories Clint had on his plate.

The other people in this cast try their hardest, but all sort of fall by the waste-side once you see how they are all portrayed, especially the men of the police unit. The problem with how Eastwood portrays these police officers/detectives is as if they have no remorse, no souls, or no idea of being a good person at all. It seems as if they are all concerned with saving their own butts and don’t want to hear a single word about what it is that they’re doing, is wrong. Each and every one was portrayed as the stereotypical villain we usually see in one-sided movies like these. It’s not even that they’re just bad-guys either, they’re laughably bad. The dialogue for them is so obvious, so predictable, and so cliche, that you have to wonder just how the hell they let idiots like these actually have the authority to carry a gun and a badge. The one I remember the most was probably Jeffrey Donovan as the main police captain, who has a dated and forced accent that comes off as if he has a stick up his ass, or just can’t read his lines. Either way, the guy sucks and I don’t know how the hell he has a hit TV show on USA. Don’t even know what it’s called, but it’s been on there forever and with him as the lead, I don’t know.

Consensus: Though Changeling features a strong, central performance from Jolie and a sometimes-interesting “true story”, Clint Eastwood’s direction still gets in the way with his constant use of constantly adding on layers to a story, losing his central focus, and never really being able to make it all come together for an eventful and memorable ending. It just flops like a fish, and leaves your mind as soon as soon as the credits begin to roll.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Brad, Clint won't stop grunting. What do I do?"

“Brad, Clint won’t stop grunting. What do I do?”

Warm Bodies (2013)

Eat it, Nicholas Sparks! No, literally: eat it.

R (Nicholas Hoult), is a lonely zombie who longs for more in life rather than eating brains of the humans he hunts down. Suddenly, he falls in love with a beautiful human survivor named Julie (Teresa Palmer), who he gains feelings for after he eats the brains of her boy-toy (Dave Franco). As their relationship deepens, he soon begins to act more and more human, but he’s not the only zombie who feels these same feelings and emotions.

Ever since the Walking Dead come onto the air, we’ve been getting this huge explosion of zombies. World War Z is coming out, zombie-costumes have been in high-demand every year for Halloween parties, and finally, George A. Romero seems to be getting the love and praise he’s deserved for so damn long. However, we only knew it was a matter of time until the teens started to latch-on to the latest craze, and give us what is essentially the Twilight film, of the zombie-genre. However, have no fear, as this movie doesn’t feature anybody named Bella, Jacob, or Edward. Score!

The trailer may have you fooled about this movie because it continues to advertise it as a rom-com, mixed with horror and action, but make no means: this is a romantic-comedy at it’s finest. The movie starts off slow and rugged, but not in the bad-way that you might suspect. It actually fits with the way the story is structured in how we follow R throughout his day as he rambles on and on about the inner-day livings of a regular, slowly-moving zombie, and listening to all of his quirky and zany pieces of insight, really work and make this movie stand-out among the rest of the zombie flicks I have seen recently. You have a sense that this movie is going to be more about characters, setting, and story, rather than blood, guts, action, and zombies. You do get some of the latter elements, but the first ones are here in full-effect and that’s all thanks to director Jonathan Levine.

Oh yeah, and points-off for stealing a page directly out of Shaun of the Dead. Come on now!

Like nobody in the past decade hasn’t already seen Shaun of the Dead. Come on now!

Levine takes the “indie-approach” here, and has this movie focus more on the relationship between R and Julie (if you haven’t been able to figure this out by now, it’s essentially Romeo & Juliet) which not only builds-up the interaction between these two different people, from two, completely different backgrounds, but also builds-up on what’s yet to come with what these two could possibly form, if the world ever gets back to normal. We get a real sense of the dynamic between the two as they interact through looking at R’s collectibles, jamming out to some choice tunes from Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen, and John Waite, amongst many others, and most importantly, getting to know one another through where questions of where they came from, how they got to where they are, and where the world could go if everything doesn’t turn to shit right away.

You really root for these two to be together and it almost feels like the movie actually does to, as it may even sound crazy in your head that you want a zombie and a human-being to be together, but it’s different than that. It’s more subdued, and more about building a relationship between two people and it just goes to show you that if you focus on characters, and are able to make their dialogue and development interesting enough to hold your interest, than almost any ridiculous plot can work. It may sound crazy but I think this simple tale of a love brewing between a zombie and a female, may actually be the Valentine’s Gift that you men may want to take your ladies out to see. Don’t expect any hanky-panky by the end of the night, but definitely do expect some sort of heavy-petting, cuddling, or tonsil hockey. I don’t know how exciting or titillating that may sound to you guys, but hey, it’s better than getting nothing on Valentine’s Day. Am I right, men? Huh? Huh?

However, in a cheap and lame-way of trying to make sure that all types of horny teenagers may go out and actually see this movie, they’ve slapped it with a PG-13-rating that is not only pretty soft, but also doesn’t allow it to get any edgier than it could have been. There is action that does happen here, but it’s very sparse and filmed in a way where you don’t see much blood, gore, or brains, but it’s also made in such a way that’s constantly bothersome, as if the movie knew that it had to appeal to a larger-audience so they decided to take it easy on the ketchup packets. I get that all movies try to go for that PG-13-rating so they can hopefully reach that audience where angst-ridden teenagers may hopefully want to venture out and see, in hopes of an easy lay that night, but then again, when you take the subject-matter into mind and realize that this is a ZOMBIE MOVIE where are talking about here: it does seem like an obvious, if not reasonable cash-grab. Hey, I guess Levine’s family has gotta eat, too.

Despite that d-bag problem us movie aficionados may have with the tame-approach, the movie still succeeds in giving us a relationship that is worth watching, believing in, and hoping actually survives by the time the 90-minutes is up. That’s all thanks to the charming leads: played by Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. Ever since his days of paling around with Hugh Grant, Hoult has been on the verge of breaking-out and letting everybody know that yes, he has grown-up and yes, he is a good-looking lad now, but if A Single Man was his attempt at trying to persuade me, it didn’t quite work. However, Hoult shows me that I’m an idiot and have no clue what I’m talking about with his performance as R, the zombie who wants more than just eating brains and listening to vinyl records: he wants love, he wants a girl, he just wants life. Hoult doesn’t have to do or say much, considering that his character is a zombie and all (just a small-fact), but he still does a nice-job at giving R a loveable personality that’s easy to fall for, almost as much as Teresa Palmer’s character does.

I can bet you donuts-to-dollars that half of the people seeing this, will have no idea what movie that is.

I can bet you donuts-to-dollars that half of the people seeing this, will have no idea what movie that is.

Speaking of Palmer, she is great as Julie, the one-in-a-million, attractive girl that would actually for a thing that eats brains and hasn’t bathed for as long as the apocalypse started, but yet, still makes it all believable. She has a lot to work with in how she sees the world she used to know, where it’s gone, and how she can make herself happier in it, and even though it is a bit obvious that she would try to rebel against her powerful and control-hungry daddy, Palmer is still always a welcome-presence on-screen and the scenes with her and Hoult actually made me jealous, as it actually seemed like they were, in-fact, falling in love. Somebody hold J-Law down, because she may have a bone or two to pick with Ms. Teresa Palmer! Regardless of my jokey side-comments, Palmer and Hoult are great in this movie, whether they are together or not and make this movie work a lot more than it had any right to be. You know, being a zombie, rom-com coming out in the dead of Winter.

Rob Corddry shows-up as M, one of R’s fellow zombie-buddies that he occasionally grunts with, and seems like he’s having a ball with a role that would have and could have been played by anybody. Corddry actually gets a real chance to shine later-on when his character has some more dramatic-heights to jump-over and surprisingly: the guy excels in it. With this and the close-to-being-abysmal Butter, Corddry may have patched a new leaf for himself and hopefully, this shows us finer things to come for the man. Playing the “powerful and control-hungry daddy” that I spoke about earlier, is John Malkovich who, as always, is great at what he does and comes-off as a terrible and despicable man you just do not like, care for, or would never even trust running your society in a post-apocalyptic world, but shows more dimensions than that and has you actually fall for the guy. Yes, people, believe or not: there was a time when John Malkovich played nice characters, who did nice things for all of the rest of humanity and it’s a great thing to see him play that type-of-role, once again. It’s been too long, John. Please do stay.

Consensus: The PG-13-rating that’s supposed to please almost everyone and everybody, is what keeps Warm Bodies reaching the bar set-by other, fellow zombie movies out there, but it is still a pleasant rom-com, that has a twist you believe in, enjoy watching, and can actually, sort of relate to. Well, that is, unless you have never dated a chick in high-school. Hayoo!!

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Hey, you were that kid in About a Boy, weren't you?"

“Hey, you were that kid in About a Boy, weren’t you?”

P.S. Major, and I do mean MAJOR, props go out to Rodney from Fernby Films for the new header up-above. Hope you all like it and while you’re at it, go on over and give the guy a look. He’s got some solid material that is definitely worth a view or two.

Knockaround Guys (2002)

It’s like ‘My Cousin Vinny’, except everybody is trying really hard to sound Italian.

The film follows Matty Demaret (Barry Pepper, Johnny Marbles (Seth Green), Taylor Reese (Vin Diesel) and Chris Scarpa (Andrew Davoli), four sons of major Brooklyn mobsters who team up to retrieve a bag of cash in a small Montana town ruled by a corrupt Sheriff. Specifically, the plot gets started when Matty goes on a job to deliver the money for his mob father, Benny “Chains” Demaret (Dennis Hopper), on the advice of his uncle Teddy Deserve (John Malkovich). Things don’t go as planned though…

I honestly have no idea why I wanted to watch this other than the fact that it has a pretty cool cast and I like gangster flicks. That’s pretty much it and maybe next time I’ll be a lot more cautious.

Where co-writers/directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien dropped the ball on this flick was that it’s essentially a plot that should be pretty goofy, but takes itself a bit too serious. That’s a shame because even though the whole “mobsters in country land” plot device has all been done before, I think that this film would of had a little bit of fun with it.

That’s also another problem with this flick as everything is just about as cliché as you can get with a gangster/crime movie. There’s a boy who wants to prove to his daddy that he can make it in his work of being a gangster after being traumatized as a little guy, a crooked sheriff in country town, a Mexican stand-off, a two-timing gangster, two dope kids who end up with a big bag of money, a brawl in a Southern bar, and the list just goes on and on and on. Yeah, it’s nothing new and basically everything you get here is something we have all seen done before, but for some reason I still found myself entertained.

I don’t know what it was with this flick but even though everything here was too serious and too cliché, I still enjoyed myself watching it. The plot does take its time to get moving but somehow I found a lot of fun with that and it gave me a chance to actually get to know these characters and also be able to feel the tension building up in this story. I think that there are a couple of plot twists here and there that work in order to keep the flick going, and it’s just strange that the script had nothing new to do or say but I still found myself watching and interested in just what was going to happen next.

A lot of my enjoyment with this flick probably also had to do a lot with the cool cast they have assembled here. Barry Pepper is good in a very rare leading role here as Matty Demaret, which is a shame because this guy really does deserve bigger roles; Vin Diesel does his usual “stand there and look intimidating” act here as Taylor Reese, but don’t get me wrong it still works none the less; Seth Green seems a little too phony with his Italian accent as Johnny Marbles, but he still tries his hardest with what he’s given; Dennis Hopper shows up for a little bit and just plays the hard-ass daddy role as Benny “Chains” Demaret; Tom Noonan is probably the best out of the cast with his once again sinister performance as the crooked sheriff, Sheriff Decker; and John Malkovich seems like he’s pushing his Italian accent a little too far as well, but he’s still pretty good to watch. It’s a cast that are all pretty good at what they usually do and even though they aren’t in top-form here, they still are watchable and what I think made this film a lot less cringe-inducing than so many people have said about it.

Consensus: The plot features just about every cliché in the book, takes itself a bit way too seriously, and obviously could have done a lot more with what it had, but Knockaround Guys has a pretty good cast and some good moments that make this film at least entertaining enough to be a fun, if flawed guilty pleasure. Hate me all you want people, but I enjoyed myself.

5/10=Rental!!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Everything that Battle: Los Angeles should have been.

The third installment in Michael Bay’s trilogy travels back to 1969’s historic moon landing, when Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 cohorts touch down in the Sea of Tranquility … and discover what appears to be a downed Transformers craft. Flash forward to the present, and the Decepticons are ready to exact revenge on Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots. Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky, the Autobots’ human ally.

To get myself ready for this one I went through the whole series. The first one was pretty good; the second one was unbearable; and this one was the best of the whole series. And although that’s not saying much, I still had fun.

The world of Michael Bay consists of explosions, sparks, fire, giant robots, sexy chicks, destruction, and the craziest things that you thought could never happen in real-life. Bay does a great job here as director because he actually keeps the story pretty easy to understand, and a very simple story at that. This is a lot darker than the past films and although the comedy wasn’t as funny I still chuckled, and there was a nice balance between the story and the actual silly stuff.

The action here comes and goes within the first hour, but once that hour is gone, the rest of the film is just insane. You have robots beating up robots, guns blasting, cars flipping, buildings collapsing, and for once I could actually tell just what the hell was going on. There are also some really good action sequences that will keep your eyes glued to the screen and just make you scream “baddassery” at the screen right when the scene is over. The action never stops, and you watch all this chaos and destruction happen but at the same time, you won’t feel annoyed with no plot development or the fact that just about everything you see is special effects. Basically the payoff is bangin’, and I promise you, you won’t leave this film feeling like you didn’t get any action.

Although, the main problem with this film is that it is 2 hours and 34 minutes long and after awhile that starts to take a toll on you. I don’t mind when films are that time-limit as long as their entertaining me, but even though I was entertained with this one, I felt like they needed to wrap it up pretty soon because there was a time that I felt like this film could have ended at any time.

However, when it did end, it was so completley abrupt. I think that they probably budgeted this film so high to the point of where they had almost no money left they just decided to end it, in order to avoid conflicts for money. And of course, in the end, there’s the obligatory U.S flag waving proudly in the wind. You love your country Mr. Bay, we get it already. No need to shove it down our throats along with outworn speeches of freedom. He is so damn patriotic sometimes, I think he almost forgets that he’s talking about a movie about robots that turn into cars, and beat the shit out of each other.

Shia LaBeouf does what he always does well; just make exaggerated faces, scream like a girl at times, and put on that angry face that we can laugh at but you know what, that shtick never gets old. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaces Megan Fox and is surprisingly quite charming and sexy; Josh Duhamel seems like he’s trying so hard to be Timothy Olyphant; Patrick Dempsey hamms it up pretty well as Dylan; Tyrese Gibson is whatever as Epps; and John Turturro is less annoying in this one than he was in the second one, which is very good. The rest of the cast features a lot of random names such as John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Alan Tudyk, and the most random of all, Frances McDormand. I don’t think I could have ever imagined Frances McDormand talking to a robot in my life, but somehow, Bay has a way of getting Oscar winners into his shit.

Consensus: Since this is a Michael Bay film, many will hate it for being chaotic and insane, but this time I could tell what was going on and even though the first hour may be a little lame, it picks up and becomes the epic, and most action-packed final installment we could ever ask for from these robots.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Rounders (1998)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/10=Matinee!!

Con Air (1997)

Nic Cage takes a ride with a bunch of convicts featuring Dave Chapelle, yeah this is a movie.

When the government puts all its rotten criminal eggs in one airborne basket, it’s asking for trouble. Before you can say, “Pass the barf bag,” the crooks control the plane, led by creepy Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich). Watching his every move is the just-released Nicolas Cage, who’d rather reunite with his family. John Cusack plays the creator of the plane and stands by as his whole dream turns into a nightmare.

Con Air combines elements from many other films such as Airplane!, The Rock, The Dirty Dozen, and a little bit of Silence Of The Lambs. Now all of this may seem like a weird combination for a film, but it turns out to be one of my favorite action films of all-time.

First of all, the great thing about Con Air is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Scott Rosenberg’s ultra macho script knows it is having a lot of fun with the writing, and it brings in a lot of good laughs. The tongue-in-cheek approach that this film had never really dies out, cause although some of the lines may be cheesy, they are still hilarious and well worth it.

The action that takes place in this film isn’t so bad either. I liked how it was fun but it wasn’t non stop to the point of where there’s no room for a story to take place. The things that happen in this film seem very believable and the action is never too dumb to where its unbelievable.

The only problem I really had with this film was that it was working out really well by the end, and it loses itself in a routine explosive third act. Yeas, it was very good and fun to look at, but it just didn’t seem like it was needed for this film. I liked how the action took place in that scene, but when it was all said and done I felt like everything else sort of was lost cause of it.

The acting in this film is pretty good but mostly from Malkovich. He plays this slick, witty, and actually pretty smart villain that you want to hate cause he’s so crazy, but you can’t help but to love cause of his amazing apporach to the lines and the events that happen. Cage, I thought could have done a lot better, but his accent by the end just got really annoying for me, and by the end I just couldn’t stand it. Steve Buscemi plays a little side character in this film that is really funny, and by the end of the film, he turns out to be the most-liked character from the whole film.

Consensus: Con Air is full of energy and humor, that is fun to be a part of and does hit the right spots every time throughout the movie. Though the ending was a little bit out of hand, the film still holds a great place in my heart.

9/10=Full Priccee!!!

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

The next horror film is sometimes considered a horror film, but not really.

Director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) yearns to create the most terrifying vampire tale imaginable. Unknown actor Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), cast as the vampire Count Orlock, makes an impressive debut as filming begins, even as he hides an unearthly secret, the secret that he is secretly is a vampire.

Shadow Of The Vampire, is a reimagianing and also look behind the scenes, of the making of the silent film 1922 classic Nosferatu. I usually don’t like these movies where they tell just false stories about something big, but for this film I let that slide and I actually got a good experience from it.

Shadow Of The Vampire contains more humor than I expected, as well as the backstage movie lore, with an underlining but focused horror story. It’s a lot to get into one story, and sometimes the progress the film goes through is a little uneven. At many points, there was a little too many blood and gore for a film of this nature. It turned me away from the film and I didn’t know whether or not to laugh or be frightened by Count Orlock, as I didn’t find him scary nor compelling.

I thought the setting was very eerie, as they were on the island all by themselves making this film, but I didn’t feel much tension throughout many of the scenes. This lack of tension also made the last 20 minutes of this film seem very predictable and just a bit tedious.

I liked the way the film was directed however. I felt like many of the scenes actually did mean something and they weren’t just put in to add a scene, and show how it ended up in Nosferatu. The scenes where you get to see how the scenes are filmed, by Malkovich were very funny and also very amusing.

Willem Dafoe is what really makes this film for what it is, he looks, acts, and just feels like Max Schrek. After this film, I actually looked at some old shots from Nosferatu and I was really astonished by how much Dafoe basically embodied the life and soul of Schrek, but also not forgetting to be creepy. Also, Joh Malkovich is dry, self-centered, and overall in mannered as the director, and really does capture a director that does start to obsess with getting his work done and out there.

Consensus: Though it has some rough editing, Shadow Of The Vampire is funny, creepy, and overall a good look at the filming of Nosferatu, with an incredible performance from Dafoe.

7.5/10=Rentall!!!