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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Snowden (2016)

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

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

Edward Snowden. War hero?

Edward Snowden. War hero?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love at first bit.

Love at first bit.

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

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

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

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

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

7 / 10

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

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

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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The Walk (2015)

Everybody in NYC just gets to do what they want!

Frenchman Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) had lifelong dreams of entertaining huge groups of people that he would literally do anything to garner people’s love and adoration. For instance, at a young age, he would perform acts on the streets where he would do all sorts of magic tricks and whatnot, ask for money at the end, and then, get chased down by police, sometimes getting, and other times, not. However, Philippe felt as if his life wasn’t fulfilled to he most extreme point yet, which is why, by in the early 70’s, he got the idea of walking across a wire between the two towers of the newly-built World Trade Center. Problem was, as you could expect, that security would be tight and tough on this plan, which is why Philippe, along with a few of his pals, got together a crack team to pull it all off. Whether or not they’d be able to pull it off was one obstacle they had to overcome, but actually making sure that the daredevil Philippe himself would actually survive the stunt and not fall to his death, was a whole other one to digest and come to terms with.

Guess they've never seen Man on Wire?

Guess they’ve never seen Man on Wire?

If you’ve seen Man on Wire, you’ve basically seen the Walk. Sure, one’s a documentary, whereas the other is just a theatrical re-telling of that whole story, with glitzy and glamorous actors, visuals, and a tad bit more background on things that may have needed more clarification the first time around. Does it really matter which one you see first, or at all? Sort of, yes. Definitely see the documentary, but if you just so happen to catch the Walk before that one and think there isn’t something more to the story than just a dude walks a tight-rope across the Twin Towers, then please, go see Man on Wire as soon as possible.

You’ll be surprised and happy you did, especially since the Walk is, for lack of a better term, mediocre.

However, it does have good qualities in that it features Robert Zemeckis, once again, playing around with neat and cool-looking visuals that definitely grab your attention. Mostly though, this comes at the end of the flick where we’ve wadded through all of the character and story-stuff and now, after much time and dedication, finally get to see as Petit walks across the wire and perform for thousands and thousands of on-lookers. Is it worth the wait? Kind of, yeah.

What Zemeckis always does so well with his movies, rather than focus in on the visuals, is how he makes them all seem so real, and almost as if you’re right there, at that exact moment while it’s happening. Though there’s definitely a few shots during this final sequence that look a bit chintzy, for the most part, Zemeckis does a good enough job at putting us right then and there with Petit, not knowing what’s going to happen, or how this whole stunt is going to work out, if at all. Of course, if you’ve seen Man on Wire previously, you already know what happens to Petit, but still, there’s a small feeling of suspense in the air that carries this final sequence on longer than it probably should have.

Then again, like I’ve said before, this final sequence comes after everything else Zemeckis has to give us with the Walk and it’s quite painful to sit through.

Most of this has to do with the fact that the script is very hokey and already suffers from the problem that the documentary on this tale has already been told, and it’s not just that it was amazing, but also painted a perfect portrait of just about everyone and everything involved with this miraculous stunt. Sure, there was maybe one or two points of conversation not touched on in the documentary, but really, that’s just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking – basically, Man on Wire does an amazing job of giving us every side and factor of this story to make it worth telling and getting invested in.

Okay, going to throw-up now.

Okay, going to throw-up now.

The Walk, on the other hand, doesn’t know how to do any of that, so instead, just gives us a whole bunch of scenes where Joseph Gordon-Levitt, using a very silly French accent, runs around all spirited and such, performing tricks, and always exclaiming that he’s “going to walk between the Twin Towers!” Granted, this is most definitely how the real life Petit was at the time, but really, it goes on for quite some time. Then, Ben Kingsley walks in as his mentor of sorts, and hams it up so incredibly that it’s actually quite fun to watch. All of his scenes are just him teaching Petit how to walk a tight-rope and somehow relating those teachings to the rest of all that life has to offer, but Kingsley seems to be having fun, so why not!

And Gordon-Levitt seems to be having fun, too, but really, his character is so one-note, that it hardly matters if he’s trying. It’s already made abundantly clear to us early on that the only form of Petit we’re going to get is the fun-loving, constantly excited, joyous person, and that’s it. Gordon-Levitt is more than up to the task of playing this character and shining more light on his more human-features, but really, Zemeckis doesn’t quite care about all that. What he really wants to do is get to the Twin Towers, show us that his visuals are as rad as they could ever be, and remind us that a man like Petit existed, whether any of us care or not.

But hey, at least it gives everyone a movie to see! In 3D, no less!

Consensus: With a hokey script, the Walk suffers from treading the same waters that the way better documentary Man on Wire did, even if it does offer some fun and lively jolts by the end.

6 / 10

Yeah, uhm, don't look down.

Yeah, uhm, don’t look down.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Night Before (2015)

Screw the eggnog! Roll up a fatty!

Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been best friends since high school. For the past ten years, in a way to keep in touch or what have you, they’ve decided to spend Christmas Eve performing all sorts of tasks and activities that, at one time, they thought were “fun” and “exciting”. Now though, they just seem tireless. Most of this has to do with the fact that both Isaac and Chris have, in ways, grown-up and moved on with their lives – for some reason, Ethan has not. Isaac is a soon-to-be-father and Chris is a famous athlete, whereas Ethan is still trying to make ends meet as a musician. This year, however, the tradition seems as if it’s getting a bit tired, Isaac, Chris and Ethan all plan to go harder than ever before. For one, they’ve got a crazy, Red Bull Hummer, not to mention that they’ve also received three tickets to a special party they’ve been wanting to get invitations to since forever. Now that they finally have them in their hand, they hang around and wait to see where this party is actually at, which then can also lead to them having at it with one another and revealing some truths about one another that, between besties, can always hurt.

Sell-outs!

Sell-outs!

One of the main issues surrounding the Night Before stems solely from the fact that it features not one, not two, not three and sure as hell, not four, but five writers working on it. In addition to writer/director Jonathan Levine and star Seth Rogen, there’s Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir, are also here to work out the kinks in the screenplay and see what they can have work as “funny” or as “heartfelt”. Now, if this seems like maybe too many writers on such a small-scale flick, that’s because it is.

The Night Before is the classic case of a movie that, had it played it smaller and not really tried to incorporate so much else, could have really succeeded. Normally, it’s made up to the reviewer/critic to judge based solely on what’s presented on the screen, not what we wanted or expected, but with the Night Before, I can’t help but feel like there’s a missed-opportunity to be found here. While I was all on-board for a comedy-drama about these three pals getting together to enjoy Christmas Eve one last time, for some reason, the rest of the movie didn’t want to agree with me.

In fact, the strongest parts of this movie actually do come around once these childhood friends, start to get in each other’s faces, and let them know just exactly how they feel for the other person. Here is where the Night Before‘s writing is the strongest; rather than making us have to choose a side that we must agree with at all times, the movie just lets it all play out and not get in the way of the characters or their own, respective stories.

Granted, this doesn’t always happen, but when it does, there’s something engaging and smart about the Night Before that makes it seem like so much more than its publicity.

But the movie isn’t always like this, and it’s where the film bites off a bit more than it can chew, is where it began to lose me. For one, there’s literally a subplot concerning Anthony Mackie’s character searching for and chasing around a simple lay he had in a bar bathroom one night and now believes that she stole his weed. The movie plays this all out as some sort of joke and as much as I’d like to say that there were a few belly-laughs to be found here, none of which ever seemed to have much of an impact on me. Instead, I just wanted to hear and watch as these guys talked more and more about where they see their lives next and then start bickering just for the hell of it.

Apparently, they're not as happy at the lack of feelings being said, like I am. But still.

Apparently, they’re not as happy at the lack of feelings being said, like I am. But still.

There’s another subplot of sorts concerns Rogen’s Isaac who finally gets a time to break free from his pregnant wife and therefore, is allowed to do what he wants. This means that he gets high-as-hell on shrooms and always seems to imagine the people around him as some sort of mystical figure. It’s a silly subplot, but then there’s some more. Michael Shannon shows up as the guys’ go-to drug dealer and, though he’s actually quite hilarious, still feels like he’s in there just to take up more time or what have you.

Regardless, the cast all seems to be willing and able to try.

JGL has a perfect balance between sadness and charm that works on just about every gal and it’s great to see him give it his all, despite not liking her very much to begin with. As for Rogen, he’s funny and seems like he has to get home all of the time. And Anthony Mackie, being the stand-up guy that he is, gives his relatively conventional character a small bit of heart and personality that makes it easy for us to sympathize when it seems like all else is going South.

There’s plenty more, but that’s not the point. The point is that the Night Before wants to do so many things that, on paper, seem like they’re so exciting, and that they might possibly rip the rest of the world apart. The ending itself may be sweet and hint at the idea of sticking close to your friends until the end of time, there wasn’t nearly as many scenes dedicated to that. Instead, it’s worried about where Seth Rogen is accidentally going to puke next.

Consensus: Despite fine performances and a few bits of insight, the Night Before doesn’t feel fully-realized enough to make it all to work.

6.5 / 10

Ugly Christmas sweater party or not, who gives?

Ugly Christmas sweater party or not, who gives?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Mysterious Skin (2004)

“Alien life-forms” are usually my safe words as well.

Brian (Brady Corbet) is a shy introvert, obsessed by his own possible UFO abduction, while Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a cruel and icy beauty who sexualises his every encounter. As each of them follows their own very different journey, they seek to come to terms with the incident that has scarred their current lives and, to their surprise, unites them, even when they least expect it.

With material like this, there’s a part of me that knows how disturbing it is and wants to say what it’s all about to warn those out there, but there’s also a part of me that knows that’s wrong. See, I’m a critic, but also a lover of movies and I know that the one key element to enjoying a movie is being automatically surprised, just as soon as you walk into something. That’s why I’m going to tip-toe around the big surprise this movie has to offer as much, and as well as I can.

So, for those who haven’t seen this movie yet, don’t worry, consider yourself free from spoiler-harm.

As for those who have seen the movie and are reading this, see how close I come to spilling the beans. I sure hope not.

My type of crowd. Except with more earrings.

My type of crowd. Except with more piercings.

Anyway, what really got to me the most about this flick, wasn’t just how director Gregg Araki handled this material, but how he filmed the whole thing. I’ve never seen anything else that this dude has done in his whole career, but he doesn’t seem like a guy I would like by just how unprofessional everything looks. The first 20 minutes where we are introduced to our character’s first 15 years of living is pretty neat and filmed with a very fast-paced direction that not only made me feel like I was in for something different, but also in for something that was going to be taking risks, as it should. Problem is, the fast-paced direction starts to leave the film and all of the quick-editing little tricks Araki utilizes here and there, soon starts to become a bit choppy where some scenes feel like they’re too rushed, and others just feel like they haven’t gone on long enough. Sometimes it’s better to actually focus on a plot-structure and let certain scenes just play out like they’re supposed to.

Now, to where this story effed up and oh, did it eff up alright. Usually when you have a tough subject like the one they deal with here, you, the director, have to show it in a way that doesn’t seem grotesque, but also doesn’t sugarcoat anything either. You just have to get it right slap dab in the middle and the problem is that Araki can’t seem to get there. Instead, it seems like this guy was trying to have his cake and eat it too, where he would show many dirty scenes with a people sexually mortifying one another, and then, in the next scene, change it all up by trying to tug at our heart-strings with a story that doesn’t feel so fully-developed. Basically, any type of movie where you have two men performing in a sexual act, people will feel uncomfortable, but it’s up to you as a director to not try and throw it in our eyes and make us feel like we need to leave the theater. Araki seems like he just wanted to shove a whole bunch of explicit sex scenes that would capture the people’s eyes, but then also give them something that may make them cry. For me, it didn’t work and it’s just another reason why I feel like this film really needed to be checked out before it went off and gotten released.

Also, where the hell was the message of this movie? In the first ten minutes or so of the movie, I got what this film was trying to say and even though the characters didn’t, it just seemed unneeded like all of the hour and 40 minutes was wasted. Though there’s a lot of frank-talk about sexuality and how the smallest change in a person’s cycle can have the biggest affect on them when they’re older, without them ever knowing it, I didn’t really feel like Araki got to that point. Instead, it was almost as if he got lost in all of the teens performing in naughty acts of sex, drugs, and violence. Almost as if he was trying to pull-off a Larry Clarke movie, but a bit tamer.

Notice how I used the term “a bit”.

This kid's supposed to be a geek? You don't say?

This kid’s supposed to be a geek? You don’t say?

Despite the problems I had with Gregg Araki’s student film-like direction, the performances of this film are what really saved me. Brady Corbet is solid as this young nerd Brian who believes that he was abducted by aliens when he was a little kid, but sooner or later, in a predictable fashion, we start to find out that it’s all one big cover-up in his head for something far more serious and disturbing. This story may not play-out as interesting as I may make it sound, but it still kept me glued to the screen because Corbet seems to play that innocent, dorky role very well, even though it’s obvious that this kid is a whole lot younger than the film makes him out to be.

But the real performance to watch for in this movie, and actually the only real reason to see this movie in the first place is the performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Neil McCormick. JGL has been, for a very long time now, a big up-and-comer in film and has proved role-after-role that he can do whatever he pleases and make the best of it. This was one of those early performances that showed he had the guts to tackle a role as emotionally-daring as this one where he pretty much goes around, bangin’ dudes for money, and showing no remorse over it whatsoever. JGL makes this whole character work just by being the risk-taker his character seems to be and a couple of scenes show that he’s more than just a kid who gets paid for getting frisky with dudes; in the end, he’s a kid that still has problems deep down inside of his mind all because of a childhood happening that scarred his life forever. It was great to watch JGL here and even though it’s by far, not his best performance ever, it’s one of the first ones that showed he had what it took to be a dramatic heavy-weight. Even if the rest of the film can’t really seem to keep up with him.

Shame on you, Gregg Araki. Shame on you.

Consensus: Disturbing and hard-to-watch as it may be, Mysterious Skin still feels like it’s not saying much about these ugly happenings, to justify exactly why we have to see so much of them in the first place, although it does give us plenty of reason to watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet.

5 /10 =Rental!!

Supposed to be his mom, folks! His mom!

Supposed to be his mom, folks! His mom!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

When a place is called “Sin City”, it’s best not to trust anyone and just leave.

Sort of taking place before the events of the first movie, and sort of not, we follow three-four different story-lines taking place in the most violent, most brutal places of all: Sin City. First, there’s a out-of-towner gambler by the name of Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who definitely has lady luck on his side when it comes to playing a mean game of poker, but ends up realizing that maybe he’s met his match in Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Then, there’s Dwight (Josh Brolin) who, after having reconnected with a former flame of his (Eva Green), finds himself in the middle of a scandal that puts both his life, as well as his lover’s in danger. And lastly, after having the love of her life killed, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) vows for vengeance against the man who is responsible for this, although now, she’s drinking a lot more heavily than ever before. But also, lets not forget that there’s Marv (Mickey Rourke), who is basically roaming around, kicking whoever’s ass deserves a whooping next.

Though it was over-the-top, violent, gratuitous, and incredibly idiotic, there’s something about the original Sin City that still has me smile. Even to this day, if I’m running around through the channels in need of something quick, fun and easy to watch, and if it’s on, I’ll usually sit back and watch as if it’s my first time all over again. It’s also the movie I can turn on around my bros, and safely know that they’ll enjoy it.

I state this fact because I don’t necessarily think I’ll be saying/thinking the same way for this movie. Which isn’t as much of a problem, as much as it is a disappointing. Because if you think about it, we didn’t really need another Sin City; however, it doesn’t hurt to have one because the original was such a lovely surprise of dark, brooding joy. And it would have been totally fine had both Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller decided to go down the same route once again, and apart of me actually wishes they did.

Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.

Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.

Because yes, while this movie may not be nearly as bad as some may have been touting it as, it sure as heck isn’t what a superfan of the first movie would want to expect. Remember all of those senseless acts of over-the-top, cheesy violence in the first one that never seemed to stop showing up out of nowhere? Yeah, they’re here, but rather than being all that fun or exciting, they’re just repetitive and after awhile, just feels like a crutch for Rodriguez to fall back on when he doesn’t trust the numerous stories are keeping our attention as much.

Which, isn’t to say that the stories here aren’t at least interesting to follow, as they jump through one hoop to the next, but honestly, it becomes a bit of a drag after awhile. All of the numerous double-crosses and contrivances of the plot eventually begin to show and it makes you wonder what the real passion behind this movie being made was in the first place. It couldn’t have been to get more and more money from the die hard Frank Miller fans out there, could it have? I don’t think so, but whatever the reason may be, it doesn’t seem like Rodriguez feels all that much strive for this movie to be made and work for anybody who decides to watch it.

And I know I’m getting on Rodriguez’s case a bit too much here, and yes, I know it isn’t all that far. But however, since I saw Machete Kills and gave it some sort of “a pass”, I feel like I’m obliged to go out there and get on his case for sort of ruining another franchise that was chock full of surprise and absolute wonder. Sure, the Machete and Sin City movies aren’t the highest of art, for the most respectable movie-audiences out there, but they’re movies that, when done right, can be an absolute great time because they’re so crazy, so idiotic, and so self-knowing about their own stupidity, that anything goes, so long as the movies themselves stay as fun and as awesome of a time as they originally promise being.

With this second Sin City film, it feels like there’s not nearly as much craziness, or fun, to really make up for most of the problems with the script, its stories, or even its characters. It’s just something of a blank slate that feels like it wants to go somewhere, somewhere rather insane beyond our wildest and zaniest dreams, but for some reason, just doesn’t. This is a feeling I’ve had with most of Rodriguez’s movies and I feel like it’s time that he nuts up, or shuts up. Meaning, give me an absolute, balls-to-the-walls B-movie that doesn’t give a hoot about what people think or say about it – or, just doesn’t promise me anything like that at all in the first place, especially if you’re not going to follow through on your promises.

To be safe, just make another Spy Kids movie. Nobody seems to be complaining about them.

Or, the people that shouldn’t be, at least.

That said, the ones who mostly get out of this movie, Scott-free is the ensemble who are either as charming as one can be in a goofy noir, or downright weird that they feel perfectly suited for the material they’re given. Either way, they do a fine job, it’s just that it feels like, in the hands of a much better, more dedicated director, they could have done absolute wonders, like mostly everybody did in the first movie.

Returning as everybody’s favorite, and something of the iconic superhero for this franchise as a whole, is Mickey Rourke as Marv and shows us that, underneath that over-load of costume and make-up, lies a true talent that can still breath some dimensions into his character; even if that character is literally a cartoon. Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Jessica Alba and a few others return and show why they were picked for this material in the first place, even if there is a slight feeling that maybe Alba could have been given less to do. And it’s not to rain on her parade and talk out against her skills as an actress – it’s more that her character is so poorly-written, that the only positive aspect to her character is that she, occasionally, will talk to the spirit of Bruce Willis’ character. He’s another one that shows up every so often, but really, he doesn’t need to be here; he’s just taking up space, really.

Mean, heartless, brutal and full of weapons. My kind of women.

Mean, heartless, brutal and stocked with all sorts of toys. My kind of women.

As for the new bloods coming into this franchise, most of them are fine, although, like I said before: One can only wonder what would have happened to them, had there been a far more driven director involved. Josh Brolin plays Dwight (who has a new face, hence why no Clive Owen in the role) and is fine playing this troubled character who wants to always do the right thing, but knows that in a place like Sin City, that’s easier said, then actually done. Brolin’s good here as the gruff dude that can kick ass, but he doesn’t have as much of a personality as Owen did. Maybe it’s a British thing?

Another new addition to this franchise is a favorite of mine (so back off, ladies!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, a known gambler who sometimes is a little too in over his head. It’s cool to see JGL challenging himself in something this stylized and strange, but honestly, if you take his character, or even his whole story-arch, out altogether, there would probably be no notable change found whatsoever. Although there is a lovely bit featuring Christopher Lloyd as a degenerate doctor, his story lacks any real muster that makes you want to keep watching him, or this Johnny character as is. So if he was taken out, there wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the fact that this is a JGL and the guy’s known to put in great work. So give him something better to do, dammit!

And last, but certainly not least is Eva Green as Ava, the dame people are “killing for”. Green, with what seems to be the second movie in a row this year (300: Rise of An Empire being the first), brings a certain level of camp that doesn’t necessarily make the movie better, but at least makes her scenes feel like they’re genuinely pulsing with some sort of energy. Add on top of that the fact that she’s naked practically every other scene she shows up in, then you’ve got the most memorable performance of a cast filled with huge, reliable names.

For better, and I guess, for worse.

Consensus: Without nearly as much heart or as much of the shock-factor as there was in the first, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is, for the most part, occasionally fun, but never jumps over that edge of making it total and complete, B-movie joy. Much like the original was.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, I'd need a new pair of shorts.

If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, a new pair of shorts would totally be needed.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Don Jon (2013)

The Jersay Sha craze ain’t ova yet!

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) likes to think of himself as the modern-day Don Juan, and with all of the game he’s got, how could he not?!?! Not only does he bed some of hottest women all of New Jersey has to offer, but he’s also got a pretty nice body, charming personality, well-off job as a bartender, sweet moves on the dance-floor, and cleans his house non-stop, as if it was his morning day ritual. Actually, what am I talking about? It is! However, thrown into the mix is his fair share of porn that he can’t stop watching and loving, all for the sake that it gives him the sort of “real” feeling he can’t get with actual, real-life sex. You know, with a normal human-being. But all that begins to change when he meets the girl of his dreams in the form of Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) and realizes that he needs to quit his addiction if he wants to settle down and get serious with this girl. But if you’ve spent most of your adult-life jackin’ it on the daily, it’s a little easier said then done.

I have to admit, as much as I am a whole-hearted fan of JGL’s, even I snickered a bit when I heard that he would not only be writing and directing a movie that’s practically about the modern-day version of Don Juan, but that he would be starring in that role! The guy doesn’t have the hottest looks out there, and it would seem almost too hard to take in the same kid from 3rd Rock as this total sex-machine that gets any girl he wants, when he wants, and how he wants it (sometimes). What my point is, is that it seemed like it was going to be too hard to buy into JGL being this sexy, stud-muffin, but he surprisingly made me think otherwise.

And not just because of his performance either (no matter how good it is); his direction and writing also have a little something to do with that as well.

It's those ladies in red that always get you when you're high-tailing it at the club.

It’s those ladies in red that always get you when you’re high-tailing it at the club.

What I liked so much about JGL’s direction is that he does tend to go for the flashiness of his material more than often, but that was fine because it showed that the dude had a way to convey whatever it was that he wanted about his story, and it could totally be understood by the audience. Certain audio-cues, visual-gags, and even lines will be repeated in a way that makes you see what he’s trying to do as a director, while also have you realize that the repetitive nature of the movie is done on purpose, almost, in a way, to show you how dull and meandering Jon’s life can be at times.

He goes, day in and day out, with the same old routine: He wakes up, jacks off, cleans his house, jacks off, goes to the gym, jacks off, gets dressed for a night out on the town, jacks off, picks up a sweet honey, takes her home, rightfully bangs her, but as soon as it’s over, he’s right back to jacking off. The only time that routine shows any signs of changing is on Sunday when he wakes up, jacks off, yells at the fellow drivers on the road, goes to church, asks to be resolved of his sins (which mostly concerns jacking off and pre-marital sex), goes back to his family’s house, argues with them, goes home, and jacks off some more, basically continuing the cycle he had once before.

While this may all seem like it gets boring after seeing it 10 times for the first 5 or 6 minutes, JGL finds a way to keep on spinning it in a way that’s interesting, as well as entertaining. Interesting, because it gives us a further glimpse into the character of Jon, all that he does, and how much of a waste his life seems to be, despite him not being able to notice; and entertaining, well, because the movie’s pretty damn funny when it wants to be, especially when it’s showing the more painful realities of sex, especially when somebody uses it more as recreation, rather than love, or to feel love. Basically, it was a bold choice on the part of JGL’s, but he shows us that he’s capable of making material work and be understood by its audience, even if he is doing the same thing over and over again. It has a point though, and I think that’s where I give most of the credit to JGL in terms of his writing and direction coming together.

Nice job, bud! Always knew you had it in ya!

However, after the middle act, it becomes abundantly clear to us that this is in fact JGL’s first movie behind the camera and typewriter, as it does get very, very messy towards the end as it begins to substitute laughs and jokes, for more melodrama and insight, despite it not really working out well. There’s something that happens about half-way through the movie that feels like it’s routine and generic, just so that JGL’s story can prove something known about how predictable rom-coms are, but it somehow doesn’t play-out that way. Can’t say what it is, but what I can say is that it’s a surprising step that he took with this material, and initially, made it very interesting. But then it begins to play itself out, lose some of its personality, and before you know it, you have a movie that doesn’t know how to end, what to say, or even what it’s whole product leading up to this final minute was supposed to mean to. We know what it’s supposed to mean to Jon, but what about to us? I don’t know, I feel like I’m treading some very thin ice here because I’m coming very close to giving away what the hell happens in the middle, but for the sake of my loyal readers out there, I just won’t. But when you do see this movie, you’ll understand and you may see my point. And if not, well, then I’m just an idiot. So be it.

Just look at him. So proud that he got Julianne Moore in his movie. Smug bastard.

Just look at him. So proud that he got Julianne Moore in his movie. Smug bastard.

But anyway, back to the good things that JGL actually pulls of with this movie, and the main one being is his performance as Jon. Like I said before, it seemed like a total ego trip coming from a guy who seemed like he had enough sense not to get too deep into his own head, but the dude shut me right up once I heard him talk and act. JGL totally becomes Don Jon, in every sense of the word: He’s in good-shape, tan, got that Jersay-accent going on, seems smooth and slick with the ladies, and makes you believe he could really pull these many ladies back to his crib, only to then start jerking the curtain behind their backs after he’s done with them. Yes, the “porno addiction”-angle does seem a bit far-fetched at times, but JGL makes enough sense of this flaw in Jon’s view-point that you can easily get past it all. All that matters is that JGl was able to make us believe him as a tuned-up, sexy mofo, and he succeeds. Good on his part. Once again, can’t believe I ever doubted him in the first place.

The rest of the cast seems as willing to go along with the material as JGL is, even if most of them have goofier, more over-the-top roles. Scarlett Johansson does well with the part of a spoiled, Jersey girl who’s so used to getting anything that she wants based on her looks, and provides us a nice foil for Jon’s character, making it interesting to see how they both play-out as a couple, rather than just two young, horny people that can’t get enough of one another’s good-looks. Not to mention, she looks insanely hot here, but you knew that already. Julianne Moore’s role as Edith, a woman who goes to night-classes with Jon may at first, seem like a lame role for an actress of her stature, but once the story gets going and we start to see more of her, we realize that she’s great in the movie, even if her character seems more like a contrivance, rather than actual living, breathing person. That’s enough of that, though, as I’m heading into some spoiler-ish material.

Also worth mentioning is everybody that plays Jon’s family: Tony Danza, Brie Larson, and Glenne Headly. Danza has never been funnier as the scuzzy, but charming dad that’s exactly like Jon in every which way, with the exception of the grey hair and saggy skin; Headly is a bunch of fun as the high-strung, overly needy mother; and Larson, who’s been having a stellar year so far, proves to us that she’s the most interesting character in a film, even when she only has one line in it. Can’t wait to see more from this girl, and if you want to know why, just read my Short Term 12 review. Please.

Consensus: Being that Don Jon is JGL’s directorial debut, you can excuse some of the messiness that occurs in the last 20 minutes or so, but instead take notice of just how funny, clever, and thoughtful the movie is way before that, showing that the guy has some serious skills behind the camera, as well as in front, even when he is playing against-type.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"We da family. Say cheeeeezzzzeee!"

“We da family!! Say cheeeeezzzzeee!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

My Predictions for the 2013 Oscars

Everybody, everybody, everybody!

It’s that time of the year again that we’ve all been waiting for. A whole year has been prepping for this and it’s finally come! The 2013 Oscars!

WOOOOO-HOOO!!

Since the Ceremony is tonight (let’s hope Seth MacFarlane doesn’t pull a James and Anne), here are my predictions on what could possibly happen, and a tiny-bit of my own thoughts because let’s face it: nobody is ever fully-pleased with the Academy Awards! That’s just the way the world works, people, but hey, enough of me, let’s get on with the predictions, shall we?

BEST PICTURE:

Will Win: Argo

Should Win: Django Unchained

Dark Horse: Lincoln

BEST ACTRESS:

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence

Should Win: Jessica Chastain

Dark Horse: Emmanuelle Riva

BEST ACTOR:

Will Win: Daniel-Day Lewis

Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix

Dark Horse: Denzel Washington (nobody will ever beat DDL)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones

Should Win: Christoph Waltz

Dark Horse: Philip Seymour Hoffman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Will Win: Anne Hathaway

Should Win: Anne Hathaway

Dark Horse: Amy Adams (like she’s gonna win)

BEST ANIMATED FILM:

Will Win: Wreck-it Ralph

Should Win: Wreck-it Ralph

Dark Horse: Brave

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT, BEST ANIMATED SHORT, BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE-ACTION):

I never had a chance to see any of these flicks. But I’m sure they are fine pieces of short-cinema, and hope somebody wins here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Will Win: Life of Pi

Should Win: Life of Pi

Dark Horse: Lincoln

BEST  COSTUME DESIGN:

Will Win: Lincoln

Should Win: Les Miserables

Dark Horse: Anna Karenina

BEST DIRECTOR:

Will Win: Steven Spielberg

Should Win: Ang Lee

Dark Horse: David O. Russell

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

Will Win: Searching for Sugar Man

Should Win: The Invisible War

Dark Horse: How to Survive a Plague

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

Will Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Should Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Dark Horse: Les Miserables

BEST EDITING:

Will Win: Argo

Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty

Dark Horse: Lincoln

BEST FOREIGN FILM:

Will Win: Amour

Should Win: Amour

Dark Horse: No

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Will Win: Lincoln

Should Win: Lincoln

Dark Horse: Life of Pi

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

Will Win: “Skyfall”

Should Win: “Skyfall”

Dark Horse: “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” (the guy’s hosting, so why the hell not?!?)

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Will Win: Life of Pi

Should Win: Life of Pi

Dark Horse: Django Unchained

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Will Win: Life of Pi

Should Win: Life of Pi

Dark Horse: Skyfall

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Will Win: Life of Pi

Should Win: Life of Pi

Dark Horse: Marvel’s The Avengers (would be pretty awesome)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Will Win: Lincoln

Should Win: Silver Linings Playbook

Dark Horse: Argo

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Will Win: Django Unchained

Should Win: Django Unchained

Dark Horse: Moonrise Kingdom

So, there ya have it, folks! Another year down, another year for the Oscar’s. Enjoy and have fun! Let’s hope that Big Ben pulls it out big in the end.

Django Unchained (2012)

DjangoUnchainedPosterNo way the dirty South could have been this dirty. Could it have been?

Jamie Foxx stars as the titular character named Django, who is an escaped slave who teams up with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Let’s just get it all out in the open and out of the way for everybody to see and understand before I jump any further into this review: this was my most anticipated flick of the year. Obviously, I’m not much different from others out there in the movie-world, and it’s probably no shock to any of you out there who know that Quentin Tarantino is one, if not my favorite writers/directors working today. This has been a passion-project of his since day 1 and it only seems right that after knocking-out homers left-and-right over the past 20 years, that he finally get to do, what he does best: showing us a little piece of his sick, but original mind.

Everything you see in this flick is exactly what you would expect from a Tarantino flick: crazy characters, wacky dialogue, oodles of violence, ironic use of pop-music, homages to classic flicks that only he and about 5 others actually “get”, and a huge deal of suspense, that almost seems to come out of nowhere. These are the staples of Tarantino’s flicks and as much as they have came-out to be nothing short of expected by now, that still is in no way, shape or form an insult or negative about Tarantino and this movie, because it’s still freakin’ awesome and probably the most original flick I’ve seen all year.

The topic of racism is what really stands in the front of the line with this movie and even though the flick basically takes place during 1858, in the South where slavery runs high and mighty amongst rich, white men, the topic is never used to be thoughtful, or even used as a metaphor for the world we are in now. It’s basically used as another tool for Tarantino to show loads and loads of gruesome/graphic violence and actually give it meaning, rather than throw it at the screen and hoping that it will make sense in the grander scheme of things. Nope, Tarantino’s not all about that and anybody who complained about Inglorious Basterds not being the action-packed, gore-ride they were expecting from QT, then he will definitely shut you up with this one because every piece of violence here, is bloody, gory, and ever so stylized, as we can always expect from Tarantino. Sometimes it’s almost too vicious to watch but hey, that’s not a bad thing considering this is coming from a movie who’s director had 15-minutes of a movie dedicated to a chick hacking-up people, all-over-the-place, with a samurai sword, of all weapons to choose.

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858....

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858….

The violence in this movie definitely stands-out among the rest of what Tarantino uses here, but the script is even better and is classic-Tarantino, at it’s finest. As usual, we get a lot of the witty, catchy-banter between characters that seems almost too energetic to be true, but Tarantino really works himself hard as a writer, especially with this movie, because he actually goes somewhere we never really expected him to in the first-place: comedy. Yeah, it may seem like a bit of a head scratcher that I would talk about how much comedy Tarantino uses and how it surprised the hell out of me because with the flicks that he’s done over the years, it would seem like he’s been doing comedy forever. To be honest, Tarantino has always had a knack for incorporating a great-deal of humor into his scripts, but not as obvious and not as important as it is used here. There are so many scenes here that just had me laughing, not just because Tarantino is doing something that only I, as a movie-geek, actually get, but more or less because he is actually trying to make me laugh and it worked so, so very well.

However, as much as he may put the emphasis on comedy this time-around, Tarantino still never forgets to switch things up and make it more dark and serious, and the tonal-changes are swift, unnoticeable, and always deserved. You know once Tarantino gets into his “serious mode”, then all of the violence and, in a way, more comedy actually comes about since this is the type of material that Tarantino strives for and always seems to have a blast with. Certain scenes would really catch me off-guard because here I would be expecting it to be a scene where a couple of people are sittin’ around, shootin’ the shit, and basically being a bunch of goof balls, but then would all of a sudden change into this very dark and tense scene, where all hell is about to break-loose and anybody you actually care about in this movie, could be gone as quick as you can say the word, “dead”. Seriously, just that snap of a finger, and all of a sudden a scene does a total 180 where we don’t even know what to expect. That sure unpredictability is exactly what I come to expect from Tarantino and it’s put to good-use here, so many damn times that I was literally sweating with tension at-times. The idea of not knowing where a film is going to land next, is always my favorite-aspect of a movie and here, it’s only better because it’s Tarantino and this guy always seems to have a blast with just fucking around with the audience, their minds, and their moods. That damn Tarantino! He’s always so snarky.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, btw.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, by the way.

Even if Tarantino seems to be having a ball with this movie, he’s not having the most fun. Actually, that utter sense of joy and pleasure goes right to the ensemble cast, who are all amazing, well-picked, and having the time of their lives just doing what they do best: act their asses off. When I first heard about Jamie Foxx’s casting as Django, I thought it was a tad unoriginal, and just another-way for Foxx to go around, acting all cool and jive, while wearing a cowboy hat. You know, in an ironic-way. I wasn’t really-looking forward to seeing him play this role, but you know what? Foxx kicks-ass in it and it’s a huge wonder as to why I ever doubted the dude in the first-place. Foxx isn’t as front-and-center with this story as you may think, but whenever he does get the time to shine and do his own thing, he owns it, and doesn’t even have to say anything. Sometimes the emotions on his face tell it all and as easy it is to make us feel something for a slave that wants to be free and get his wife back, it’s even easier to make us feel something for a character that we know can fight his own battles and not ask for sympathy. Django, in terms of the actual-character, is the perfect, Spaghetti Western cowboy, because he’s soft-spoken, cool, but always has something witty to say on his mind. And Foxx owns that role to a T.

In the past 3 years, ever since Basterds hit the theaters and made Christoph Waltz a bona-fide star, it seems like Hollywood has never been able to capitalize on the guy’s real talents as a serious and dramatic actor. However, Tarantino knows how to use the guy best and shows that with every-line of dialogue that comes out of this man’s mouth. Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz, the nicer-version of Hans Landa, but still is just as sadistic and smart. What makes Schultz such a great character is that the guy is always one-step ahead of everybody else around him. He always knows to act in every situation, he always knows the right things to say, he always knows how to keep his cool, when shit starts to get heavy, but the most-important factor of his character out of all, is that he always knows how to kill anybody that stands in his way. He’s a violent bastard that seems like the type of guy you want to be bounty hunters with, but as time goes on and he starts to have heavier obstacles thrown in his way, Schultz starts to fold under pressure and show how sometimes, Django is better-suited for certain situations. It’s a great dynamic the two characters have, and it’s heightened even more, mainly because of the pitch-perfect chemistry between the two that always seems to feature the best lines in the whole movie.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

I was mainly looking forward to this movie for many, many reasons, but I think the most, out of all, surprisingly, was the fact that this was Leonardo DiCaprio’s first, main-role as a villain in lord only knows how long, here as Calvin Candie. I’ve always been a huge fan of Leo and all that he’s been able to do in the past decade or so, but even I will admit, his act seemed to get a little stiff by the 10th time he played a confused, and troubled victim of something bad being played against him. It was the same-old routine in almost every movie he seemed to sign-up for and even though the guy did awesome with that routine, it started to become glaringly old, and a role as a campy, over-the-top slave owner, in a QT film, sounded like the perfect-way to spice things up in the dude’s career. And damn, was I ever so happy that I was right about that sweet, soothing sound.

DiCaprio is, well, how should I put it? Perfect in a role like this. Calvin Candie is cunning, funny, campy, and very, very sly in his way of handling himself through every situation he’s put into but you can always tell that there’s something darker lying beneath the surface and the way DiCaprio handles all of that, is probably the best-acting he’s done in awhile. DiCaprio doesn’t just explode with anger, rage, and energy whenever the camera’s on him. No, he just lets it sit there, watching him, letting us know his character, all that he is, all that he does, and all that he can be, if he has to turn the other-cheek and be an evil asshole like we all expect him to be. Eventually, Candie does turn into that evil asshole we expected to see from him right-away, but DiCaprio is so good and so masterful at portraying it, that you really cannot take your eyes off of him. No matter how hard anybody else around him actually tries, DiCaprio is the one that steals the spotlight in every scene he has, and it’s just perfect to watch, especially coming from a guy who’s been wanting a role like this for Leo, for the longest-time. When he loses his shit, he loses it in the most-hardcore way of all and demands your attention, rather than simply asking for it, in the kind-way, Candie likes to fool people with. I really don’t think I can hit the head on the nail as much as I have already, but I’m just going to leave my whole two, orgasm paragraphs on Leo by saying this: that motherfucker deserves the Oscar this year. I’m done, I’ve said it, and yet, I still feel like I haven’t said enough! Aaaaahhhh! Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect. End. Of. Story.

"Listen, bitch!! I'm Samuel L. Jackson, and I'm just loud! Get used to it!"

“Listen, bitch!! I’m Samuel L. Jackson, and I’m just loud! Get used to it!”

Now that that is over with, let me move onto everybody else that deserves a bit of a shine from the spotlight as well. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be another-one in this cast that’s having a ball as the head house slave Stephen, a total Uncle Tom from head-to-toe in terms of appearance, and mental-state also. From the first-shot of the guy, Samuel L. is almost unrecognizable as Stephen, but as time goes on, you get it in your head that it is Samuel L., doing his funny-as-hell, loud yelling and screaming that we always expect from the guy and it’s just so great to watch, especially since it seems like Samuel L. in his comfort-zone. I don’t know if the guy ever left to begin-with, but watching him just have a blast with a role and take over the screen like he does, is always a joy to watch in my book.

Kerry Washington was a bit of a disappointment to watch as Django’s baby girl, Broomhilda Von Shaft (trust me, see the movie and you’ll understand), not just because she isn’t featured in the movie a lot, but mainly because she doesn’t have as much of a screen-presence as everybody else in this flick seems to have. And that’s especially weird to have coming out of my fingertips, considering this is a QT movie and the guy always has kick-ass, female characters to show off. Don’t get me wrong, Washington is still good with her role but doesn’t really get much to do other than cry, yell, and looked terrified the whole-time. There’s so many more faces and stars in this cast that are worth mentioning and bringing to your attention but seriously, just go see the movie for yourself and realize that Tarantino is not only perfect when it comes to writing and directing, but also casting. The guy’s just got it all and all of these rumors of a possible, early-retirement has me scared shitless. Oh well, let’s just hope he keeps on churning out movies until he can’t no mo.

Consensus: Some trimming of the fat needed to be done here and there with Django Unchained, but for a movie that is 2 hours and 40 minutes and is never, for a second, ever boring or uninteresting, I have to say that’s pretty damn a-okay with me, especially if it’s a Tarantino movie, where fun, violence, comedy, cheekiness, homages, and pop-culture references all come together, in one beautiful, original blender of ideas.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy it and enjoy the presents you may or may not get from Santa!

Lincoln (2012)

Sorry guys, no vampires this time around.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as the sixteenth President of the United States of America, also known as Abraham Lincoln, and paints a portrait of him during the tumultuous final months of his life, during which he fights to abolish slavery by putting forth an amendment in the House of Representatives.

For over a decade now, we have all been waiting for Steven Spielberg to deliver on his promise of an actual, Abraham Lincoln biopic and for awhile there, it was going to happen. Actually, at one-point, Liam Neeson was supposed to star as Honest Abe but Neeson himself even declared he was “too old” for the role, even though Daniel Day is five years younger than him, but hey, if Oskar Schindler says no, Oskar Schindler means no. Thankfully though, after all of this time, Spielberg delivers on his promise and gives us a movie that isn’t quite the epic biopic we were all expecting out there. Hell, it’s the farthest thing from actually.

Instead of going for the full-scale, sweeping epic idea that he has gone with on such pictures like War Horse, Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler’s List, Spielberg takes a step-back and decides to play it down a little bit and make it a more intimate, focused piece of work that doesn’t focus on Lincoln’s whole life, but the last couple months of his life where he had to put up with all of these problems, that it’s a real wonder how the guy didn’t just die of a heart-attack right then and there. In a way, a part of me wishes that Spielberg went all-out here and tackle Abe through his life, but seeing him in the latter years of his life does seem like a better fit for Spielberg to play it safe, and not get way too in over his head, like he has been known to get in recent-years. However, that’s not to say that Spielberg still doesn’t have what it takes to deliver some the top-notch directing moments we all know and love him for.

I think what really intrigued me the most about this flick was how it shows just how hard it was, and probably still is, to get a bill passed and all of the twists and turns that come along with that mission. Abe had to talk to a lot of people, had to plan out a lot of ideas in his head, had to win over a crap-load of people, and most of all, had to still keep it in his mind to do the right thing. It’s a very hard, especially in today’s day and age of politics, to not only do the right thing but also keep with that idea in your head and never mess-up on that. Abe never gets dirty with where he gets with his mission to abolish slavery, and it’s really fresh to see considering this is a guy that America still reveres to this day.

We get a great glimpse at a guy, we can only read about in bore-fest books and Spielberg, for the most part, delivers on that spectrum. The story is as simple as they come, yet, Spielberg never loses sight of what he really wants to show and what he really wants to convey and we get that perfectly. It’s a slow-burn of a movie, but Spielberg keeps it surprisingly entertaining with a couple of nice touches here and there where we feel like we are placed in the same exact setting that the movie’s portraying, and also feel like we’re on the edge-of-our-seat, wondering just how the hell this bill is going to get passed. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know that the bill gets passed and whatnot, but the film still kept me wishing and hoping that it would, considering there is so much anger and aggression against it, that’s a huge wonder how it didn’t continued to get denied until this very day.

However, I still can’t lie to you and tell you that I loved this movie, because I really didn’t. The problem I had with this movie was that it would go on for so long (it clocks in at 150 minutes, if that tells you anything already) with just talking, arguing, and political-jargon being used, that I actually felt myself dozing off a couple of times and wondering when they were going to get a move on with this story. Playing it subdued and intimate was a nice approach that Spielberg decided to use, but when your whole film is about a bunch of people just talking about a bill that we all know gets passed at the end of it all, well, it can be a bit repetitive, as well as, dare I say it, boring.

Another problem I had with this movie was that I wasn’t as emotionally-invested as I feel so many other people were with this movie. Ever since this movie came out, I’ve been seeing reviews from people that are just talking about how much they couldn’t handle their emotions during this film and just had to let out all of the tears. My question is, how the hell are all of these people crying at a movie that’s about a story we all know, a history-figure we all think we know, and features a screenplay, where everybody talks and hollers at each other in this sophisticated, political language that is rarely ever muttered in today’s day and age (thank god for that, too)? Seriously, I would get it if we all watched Lincoln from the start of his life, to the end of it but something just did not connect with me and have the water-works moving at the end. Instead, I felt like I knew the man more than I ever did before and I think that’s all I needed, really, a history lesson, not a life-changing experience.

However, I don’t blame these people for getting emotional, either, because when you have Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead, it’s hard not to tear-up. As always, Daniel Day is perfect in a lead role that shows him off to be one of the finest actors we have working today but it’s not the type of role you’d expect from the guy. With roles like Bill Cutting and Daniel Plainview being some of his most famous in recent time, it’s a refresher to see him go back to his old-ways and play soft, gentle, and kind fellow that means no harm to anyone around him, but just wants to do what he thinks is right for the country and what feels right in his heart. He’s obviously a nice guy that you can tell has some real charm to him that wins everybody over that he meets, as well as a knack for story-telling that are some of the funniest, if not thought-provoking pieces of tales that I have ever heard. How many times did Honest Abe break out of regular-conversation just to tell a story about a man and his farm? I don’t know and I don’t care. All I do know is that they were lovely stories to hear, mainly because it was Daniel Day who was delivering them in his sweet, gentle voice that doesn’t even seem recognizable in the least bit.

Daniel day lights up the screen every time he pops-up on it and delivers one of the finest performances of the year, and really does have you sympathize and feel something for a man we rarely know about how he was in life. We read about it in books, but it’s all up in the air as to what or who this guy really was in real-life, but I think Daniel Day’s portrayal is the most accurate depiction we can all go along with and agree on. If Daniel day doesn’t get a nomination this year, hell will freeze over, but then again, I think it’s a pretty sure thing that no matter what the movie the guy signs up to do, he’s going to get an Oscar-nomination regardless and you know what? I have no problem with that because this guy is an actor’s actor, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. That was a pretty obvious statement though, because everybody looks forward to what the guy does next, it’s all just a matter of how long will it take this time around.

Even though Daniel Day is perfect in this lead role, he almost gets the spotlight taken away from him from an actor that could also be considered “an actor’s actor”. Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens in a way that we all know and love Jones for playing his roles. He’s cranky, he’s old, he’s witty, and most of all, he’s a bastard that you do not want to go toe-to-toe with when it comes to an argument. As Stevens, Jones allows this fact to be even more truer than we already know it to be and really gives us a glimpse at a man that may even want this bill passed more than Lincoln himself, and there’s an amazing, final scene with him that shows us why. Jones is on-fire in this role and I really do think that he’s a sure-thing for an Oscar nomination this year and I do not disagree with that one-bit because the guy is always spectacular, he’s just been wasting too much of his time as Agent K to really allow us to see what is so spectacular about him in the first-place.

Playing Lincoln’s wife, Sally Fields probably gives one of her best performances I’ve seen from her in the longest time. Fields plays Mary Todd Lincoln the same exact way you’d expect her to play her, she’s weird, she’s paranoid, she’s always angry, but yet, she’s always supportive of what Abe does and to see that play out in this film is a thing of beauty, considering her and Daniel Day have great husband-wife chemistry between the two. As opposed to Jones and Lewis, I don’t think Fields is a sure-shot for an Oscar nomination this year, but hey, if she does end up getting one I will not be pissed in the least bit. The gal is great with all that she’s given and it’s finally time that somebody’s given her a role to chew down on.

This whole movie is filled with a supporting cast that will probably shock you by how many names it really does have and to be honest, there’s a bit of a problem with that. See, there are so many damn people in this movie that even though they are all so good with each and every one of their own, respective roles, it becomes a bit of a waste to see such good talent in roles that sometimes don’t show-up on-screen for any longer than 5 minutes. Having a huge, supporting cast is great if you want to make sure every character is well-done, and every performance is good but after awhile, it sort of starts to tick you off once you realize that half of these people can do some quality work in their own flicks, they just aren’t given the chance all that much. Still, it’s great to see such big names show up in a production together and show how much people still want to work with Spielberg.

Consensus: Lincoln may take some people by surprise to how it plays-out, but if you can handle a bunch of talking, then it will definitely keep you watching from beginning-to-end with a spectacular lead performance from Daniel Day, and a message about doing the right thing, no matter who gets in the way that is still relevant today, especially in the world of politics.

8/10=Matinee!!

Looper (2012)

Don’t we all want to be John McClane in the future?

The film revolves around a mobster (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) working for a crime syndicate in the near-future. He, along with other so-called Loopers, kill people sent from the future by their boss. Things get complicated when he recognizes one victim as his future self (Bruce Willis) and lets him escape.

Writer/director Rian Johnson‘s debut, Brick, was one of the biggest surprises in a film that I have ever seen. I went into it, expecting a crime-thriller, which is exactly what I got, but with a new twist on it that made it seem cooler and a lot more different from anything else I have ever seen prior to that. That’s why when I heard about Johnson tackling the sci-fi genre, I had no doubts whatsoever in my mind that it would be nothing short of original and different. Thankfully, that’s exactly what I got.

Most people that see the trailers for this flick will automatically get stuck in their head that it’s another confusing, sci-fi movie about time-travel. In a way, it is a sci-fi movie about time-travel, but it’s more of a twist on the crime and gangster genre than anything else. But even saying that it’s a crime and gangster genre movie is selling it short, because trust me people, this is not something you have seen before. You think you know the premise, you think you know how it’s going to play-out, and you think you know where it’s going to go, but trust me, you don’t know nothing yet and I think that’s where the fun in Johnson’s writing and directing comes from.

Anytime this movie ever seems like it’s going to go straight for the genre conventions, somehow, Johnson pulls himself straight-back from that and offers us a surprise that we were not expecting in the least-bit and even adds another secret twist/idea to the story that we didn’t already have in front of us before. This story, for some, will probably be as confusing as the meaning behind 2001, but if pay attention, if you stay with this story, and you stay with these characters, then nothing will go wrong for you at all. This is also one of those stories that I can’t go on and on about too much because the less you know about it going in, the better for you as you’re most likely going to get slapped in the face many of times with a bunch of happenings you weren’t expecting.

Johnson obviously loves having this bigger-budget and takes every great use of it with a slick look that reminded me a lot of Kubrick film, but not too much to the point of where it’s distracting, and also gave me a future that just seemed gritty and dirty, rather than over-stylized and filled with technology to the brim. There’s also a lot of sweet and stylized action scenes that will totally grab you out of nowhere, and just release you in the coolest way possible. However, it should be noted that as much action as there may be in this flick, this is not a pure, old-fashioned action flick per-se. Instead, the story takes this big twist about somewhere in the middle where things start to get a little slow, start to get a little bit more dramatic, and start to get a little talky, but it wasn’t a bad thing at all because Johnson seems like he has that perfect spark for snappy and fun dialogue that always seems interesting, no matter where these peeps may be getting at.

However, if there is a problem that I had with this change of pace half-way through the film, it’s that the characters just never came through for me. Yes, you do feel some of their sympathy throughout the film, and yes, Johnson lets them all have their different arcs but there was just that missing ingredient that wasn’t there and made me almost feel as if I was losing some sort of heart for this flick. JGL’s story (which is practically Willis’ as well), really made me root for him but the times where death was staring him straight-down in the eyes, I didn’t really know what to do or feel. The guy starts the film off as a total dickhead, just doing drugs, killing people, and stealing money, but then gets a conscience at the end and it just didn’t work for me, nor did it work for Willis’ side of the character either. Maybe I’m a heartless fool, I don’t know. But what I do know is that these characters just never really had me reaching out to them and it really bummed me out when it was all said and done.

Despite this problem with the characters, the people who play them are better than ever. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been on such a winning-streak by now that it almost seems obvious to say he kills it once again in this role, but he really does. Right when you take a first-glance at him, you’ll notice that JGL is playing a darker, more evil character than we’re used to seeing him play before and it really makes us wonder what we got ourselves into, especially since his make-up is less than subtle. However, you do get over it after awhile and just realize that this is another chance for JGL to bring out some real character emotions, and bring out a character that could really have us feeling for him when it’s all said and done. As for his “supposed” Willis impersonation, it’s not really what you think. In a way, JGL is doing certain channels of Willis and his trademarks, but it’s never to the point of where it comes off as a Frank Caliendo impression or anything. It feels real and that’s just another sign that JGL can do no wrong. Trust me, already forgot about Premium Rush.

As for Bruce Willis himself, the guy does an awesome job in a gritter and meaner role than we have seen from him in the longest time and it’s a welcome back to form for the guy because it’s been awhile. What most people will be surprised about is how Willis and JGL don’t really spend all that much time together in the film. All of their scenes take place with them rarely being near one another, and the only time where they actually do come in-contact for the first, and only real time, is this magnificent diner scene that reminded me of Heat in a way. Where Johnson goes with both of these characters though, is what really intrigued me because instead of having Willis be some, old, crotchety mentor to JGL’s young dude ways, it’s sort of the other way around where we see a guy with some level of humanity and heart, and another that just seems to have lost it after all of this time in crime and killing.

Another cast-member/character that people will be mainly surprised about is Emily Blunt as Sara, the gun-toting, tough farmer-chick that JGL hangs with for a little while. Some will be surprised to see Blunt in such a rough and ragged role for a gal that has been in many rom-coms as of late, but the surprise is well-deserved considering this girl really seems like she has something to her that works and really takes us by storm. Her character has an arc that didn’t really make me cry or love her character any more than I already did, but I like how Blunt made this character one that you feel could kick somebody’s ass when she had to, yet, still be very vulnerable at times, as well. It’s a performance that shows she’s got more to her than just looking pretty and being witty, and I look forward to seeing what type of direction this role takes her career in now.

Consensus: Though it’s not as emotionally-stimulating as some may, or may not be expecting, Looper is still very original and different in it’s own way of story-telling, character-development, and it’s numerous plot twists that really make you wonder just what the hell is going to happen at the end of this story.

8.5/10=Matinee!! 

Premium Rush (2012)

Delivery by car is so mainstream.

The movie stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Wilee, a bike messenger who sees a routine delivery turn into a life or death situation through the streets of New York City. Michael Shannon also shows up as a crooked cop who is after the content of one of the package Wilee is carrying.

Even though this one has been sitting on the back-burner for over a year now, I was still looking forward to it because it’s a new, clever-take on the whole action genre that seems to get very tired after all of the Summer blockbusters have come and gone. Yeah, urban biking may not be the most exciting thing to watch on the big-screen, but at least it’s somewhat new, and features JGL and crazy-eyed Shannon. What could possibly go wrong? Well, to answer that question, I would have to say a whole lot.

Writer/director David Koepp seems like he has his head on-straight when it comes to the whole action element of this film, but with everything else, it seems like he loses it. The biggest problem with this film is the plot. At first, the film starts off with a bit of a mystery angle where you have no idea why this one crazy asshole is chasing after this biker for one little piece of info but after awhile, we start to find out and that’s where this film really goes down the tubes. Apparently, the Chinese mob gets involved, an illegal deportation shows up, a character’s gambling problem comes out of nowhere, and then of course we have the romantic-love angle that seems more forced than ever before, and it just adds another unneeded piece of a plot for this already stacked story. Without giving too much away, certain things in the story just don’t add up and I think Koepp’s intentions were to just have us forget about it and focus on the cool action. Sadly to say, it doesn’t happen.

Then of course, there’s the parts of this movie when the characters actually talk. Woah nelly! Holy shit have I never laughed so hard like I did here before in a long, long time. The problem with this script is that every line is a total cliché and doesn’t do anything, but make this film seem more like a laughing mess than it already was. This one scene in particular where JGL is chasing after his “biking buddy” in order to get a package from him, and even though it is a thrilling scene that takes place all throughout NYC, all of the cheesy-ass lines these guys exchange with one another was enough for me to just start laughing and focus on what these guys were saying, rather than what they were doing. This isn’t the only time it happens, but this is the one time where it was freakin’ unbearable to watch or listen to and it just gets worse and worse as the story continues to develop (and make less sense).

But, what really saved this film from being a total piece of crap after all, was the action Koepp brought here. Urban biking seems like a pretty exciting activity to do, especially when you’re in the busy-ass city of New York and that’s why I like how they captured all of that into this film. There’s plenty of scenes where we follow JGL going down the streets at crazy speeds, where it almost seems like he’s going to lose his head any second, but somehow, pulls out at the last time. A lot of these scenes have tension to them, but Koepp gives them a playful style whenever he shows JGL’s mind making up what move he should pull next. It’s a pretty neat trick they pull with this film, and what’s even better is that all of the action and bike-riding throughout the streets is mostly stunt-work, which means less CGI. Such a relief to see a film focus on that aspect of an action film, without feeling the need to try and enhance the shit out of it with a computer.

Another part of this movie that sort of this saved this movie was the two fast-rising stars in the leads. After a white-hot role in The Dark Knight RisesJoseph Gordon-Levitt gets to show off his skills as an action star more, with his charm still deep in-tact. JGL definitely isn’t wasted here because he’s in plenty of shots and gets to use his likability to his advantage, but you also can’t help but feel that this flick was made a very long time before anybody thought he was going to be as big of a star as he is now, and this sort of comes off like a lame role for a guy who can’t really afford them as of right now.

The same could almost be said for Michael Shannon who has been kicking asses for the 5 years in smaller, indie-roles but now is finally getting the chance to break-through in the mainstream crowd. Sadly, this is probably not the movie to do it since the whole time, he just continued to make me laugh. The script here is so atrocious that every line of dialogue that comes out of Shannon’s mouth, just makes him seem more and more like a cartoon villain, rather than a real-guy, who could literally make your life a living hell. It’s weird too, because the guy starts out as this calm, collective villain that says things very slowly, but then changes out of nowhere and just goes haywire with his act, almost like Shannon flipped a switch off in his back right in the middle of the movie. Some may call this a fun performance where he just chews up scenery like nobody’s business, but I call it a role that starts to get way too over-the-top, way too quick and it’s hard to watch or listen to after awhile.

Basically, if this film came out about 2 years ago, which I think it was going to do, then it would have been fine because these guys weren’t as huge of names then as they are now, but since it is out when these guys are somewhat large stars, it’s a huge disappointment and shows that these guys may have to watch the next script they read. But, something does tell me that this may not happen again and it was only a coincidence that this piece of shit had to come out now.

Consensus: Premium Rush gives the audience the type of escapism fun that they need around the dog days of August, but almost ruins itself with a convoluted plot, over-the-top acting from Shannon, and a terrible script that just gets worse and worse as it goes along, almost until the point of where you just want these people to just ride their freakin’ bikes and shut the hell up!

5/10=Rental!!

The Lookout (2007)

Memento mixed with any heist thriller that has ever come out. Honestly, just pick one.

After experiencing a brain injury, and facing a mental disability where he suffers from short-term memory loss, janitor Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) becomes part of a heist at the bank where he works.

Writer/director Scott Frank does something pretty cool here. He takes a heist flick, give it a character-based drama feel to it, and still have some action at the end to boost things up. Maybe it’s not the most unique thing out there, but it still worked for me and you I need more of that in the crime genre.

Frank did a pretty good job taking his first bite at directing and gives this film a very low-budget, “indie” quality to it that showed you don’t need to have all of the money in the world to make a low-key film like this to work. All it takes is enough skill to make a story like this to work and somehow, Frank pulls it off very well because he decides to focus on the characters more, rather than the heist and action itself. We actually get a good feel for some of these characters, and we see them more as human-beings rather than just another bunch of walking-action movie cliches. I’m not saying that every single person here is so unique and all given the same character development as the main ones, but for the ones that Frank does focus on, it works well and has you root for them even when things start to seem really turn shitty for our heroes.

But as much character development Frank puts into this story, he also has a nice build-up for the heist itself and it gets very tense by the end. Even when the film does totally change its ways into to full-on, action-thriller mode, it doesn’t seem fake and seems like this is the right way to go with a story that just continued to build-up, and up, and up until the very last shot (pun intended). Can’t say that it’s most exciting piece of cinema I’ve seen in quite awhile, but it worked well and kept me involved with this story when everything could have easily gone out the door.

However, as good as that heist and final 20 minutes were, the film did bother me with a couple of problems I kept running on in to. First of all, the heist itself seemed way too easy. I don’t want to give anything away as to how these peeps pulled it all off the way they did, but I will say that the way they did was so easy, that almost any person could rob a bank, regardless of the size of the bank itself. It was a plain heist as it was but it also seemed like one that was a bit too easy, even for these characters. Wasn’t the anchor of the flick, but it was still something that bugged me.

Another aspect of this film that bothered me was that things did really get predictable by the end, and it was kind of a disappointment considering this film had me on the edge for a good part of it. After the heist “goes down”, things start to go haywire and every situation becomes just another action-movie cliche that you always expect from these types of movies. There’s even one scene where Chris Pratt is talking about how he used to hunt with his daddy’s shotgun, only to be filmed holding it later on in the film, and it was an obvious, fore-shadowing moment that I got too many of throughout this whole flick. Was I entertained by most of this? Yes. But I think Frank could have done a better job with some of this because this guy did write Out of Sight. I mean,0 come on now!

Actually, what I think really held this film together for me was Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s awesome performance as Chris Pratt (no, not Andy Dwyer, but how awesome would that be?). Pratt is a good character to have in a film like this because the guy obviously had it all at one time, but sadly, lost it all after a traumatic accident ruined his life forever and now he’s trying his damn near hardest to work with it. Maybe it doesn’t sound like the most well-written character ever made in film, but JGL plays him perfectly with just the right amount of sadness, sorrow, and anger in his system that makes you feel like this dude is a good with some mental problems that he can’t really help. This, along with Brick, was a role that showed off JGL’s skills at leading a film all on his own, and it’s so great to see what he’s become today in Hollywood.

Jeff Daniels is here as Lewis, Pratt’s blind room-mate and is just another role that proves how great Daniels is in any role you give him. He’s used as the comic-relief here, but that’s not such a bad thing since Daniels is great at creating well-rounded characters that know how to win you over, just with personalities. Matthew Goode was pretty good, too as Gary Spargo, but thing with him is that you know he’s the bad guy the whole time so there’s no real mystery to him. Isla Fisher is OK as the uber cute, and uber sexy Luvlee, but her role is sort of forgotten about by the end and it’s a shame since this gal could have done a lot more with this role. Like showed some more skin…right?

Consensus: The Lookout may run into some predictable territory by the end, but Scott Frank’s direction keeps this flick fun and entertaining, with plenty of good performances from this cast that makes every character seem even more well-rounded than the last.

7/10=Rental!!

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

OK Batty, you had your fun, you had your box-office records, and you had your hype. Now, it’s time to get the hell out of here!

It’s been 8 years since Harvey Dent was killed by Batman and Gotham City is pretty much going to hell. It’s turning for the worse, there’s no central peace or order to be found, and Bane (Tom Hardy), has a huge gang of thugs basically taking over the city. However, little does he know that there’s a certain someone who’s always there to stop evil at once: Batman (Christian Bale).

Honestly, who the hell has not been waiting for this freakin’ movie!?! Ever since The Dark Knight came, stayed for a long-ass time, and went back in 2008, people have been waiting day-after-day just to see what Nolan was going to pull off for his last hurrah. Thankfully, this is his last hurrah, and what a perfect hurrah it is.

Director Christopher Nolan proves, once again, why he is in-fact one of the greatest story-tellers working in film today. I know the same exact thing in The Dark Knight review, but this guy really proves that he has some insane skill with this flick because from start-to-finish, I was basically on-the-edge of my seat, wondering what the hell he was going to do with this story, these characters, and everything else in between. I’ve never been a huge comic-book fan and to be honest I’ve never really read much of Batman comics, but from what I see here, this guy takes the story of Batman that we all know and love, gives it a dark edge, and makes you feel like it can and will go anywhere he wants it to. There were certain parts of this flick where I really felt like some major characters were in danger of being killed off right away and even though that danger comes and goes, much like normal superhero movies, you still feel like the danger is not over. Just when you think that things are going to get better for these characters and Gotham City itself, it doesn’t and throughout the whole film, I was constantly thinking who will I be seeing for the last time and who will I be seeing again to fight the baddies. Sounds lame, I know, but this story really feels like it will go somewhere where no other superhero film has ever dared to do so far before, and sometimes it does, but it’s all I could ask for in an entertaining, superhero movie. A lot of this story harks back to Batman Begins, so be ready for that, but this is it’s own story, through and through.

Nolan is a daring film-maker, well all know and love that, but it’s not just because of how epic and twisty the story can be, it’s all because of what that guy brings to the table that makes this film all of the more enjoyable. There’s a certain type of suspense in this film the whole time that not only made me feel the energy going throughout my veins, but kept my eyes locked on the screen at all times. Every single action scene feels like it’s going to be even better than the last one, which they usually are, but there’s just something so much more epic about the action scenes here that made me want to get up and join in the action, whatever that may have been at the time. You can just feel the energy of this movie escalating into something bigger and bigger as the run-time goes on, and once it gets to that breaking-point, all hell breaks loose and there’s just so much action and excitement going on that you cannot help but feel it come off the screen as well. But, however, as good as a lot of this action may be, it’s still feels very epic and I think a lot of that has to do with Mr. Nolan and what he does behind-the-camera.

This is definitely one of those films to see in IMAX, even though it’s not always shot in that format the whole way through. The shots Nolan grabs here are great, whether it’s these sweeping action set-pieces or just beautiful over-head shots of Gotham City, either way, the IMAX looks great and if you do pay extra for that ticket, you will not be disappointed with what you see, or hear. The sound is just so loud and clear, that whenever an action scene happens, you can almost hear and feel the hits with the loud-ass booms of the speakers, and it gets even better with the score that Hans Zimmer has made up here. As soon as you hear it come up, it hits you and you can just feel like shit is about to go down, one way or another, and sometimes it does, and sometimes it definitely freakin’ does! Didn’t make much sense, but I don’t care! I know I don’t mention scores a lot, but with a film like this, you need an epic score just to give you the feeling of how epic this film truly is. Yeah, I know I said the word “epic” again, but it’s the truth, everything from the score, to the cinematography, to the story, to the action, makes it that from beginning to end. Yeah, there may have been a couple of problems with it’s story here and there, but I was able to let that all go by me and realize that this story just totally grabbed me and never let go. And thank the lord for that.

For every single person who has ever talked ish on Christian Bale and what he does with Batman and that “growl” of his (trust me I’m one of them), be ready to feel ultra sad knowing that this will probably be the last time you ever see this guy do that ever again and what a way to go out with it. This is probably the best performance Bale has given as Wayne out of the whole trilogy because he brings out that warrior-like darkness that arose in him from the second flick, but also goes back to when he was just learning the ways of his anger from the first one, as well. It’s a pretty cool mish-mash of character ideas going on with him in this flick and Bale handles it perfectly, just like I expected him to.

After having such an iconic villain like The Joker, played by the late, great Heath Ledger, it feels very obvious that Nolan would try his hardest to make Bane out, almost the same exact way, if not more, but he doesn’t go down that route which I liked. Bane seems like a strange choice of a villain to be in this dark trilogy, but he’s given a lot more development here that gives him a pretty bad-ass origin story to start off with, a bunch of intellectual skills that match his fighting skills, and a pretty intimidating physique, courtesy of rising-star Tom Hardy. Hardy is great with this role and proves to be more intimidating and dangerous than The Joker in more ways than I expected because whenever he’s on-screen, you can just feel that tension whenever he is, but when he isn’t, you can still feel it as if he’s just planning what he’s going to do next in the background somewhere. There’s this great use of his eyes that Hardy uses to convey all of these evil and mean thoughts that are going through his head, and you almost feel happy that you don’t see what else is going with his face. Definitely a great threat for Batty, and another reason why Nolan should have been trusted with this character from the first place. Oh yeah, and that “voice” of his? Easy to understand most of the times, other times, you can’t really hear it fully, but you pretty much get the gist of what he’s talking about. Evil shit, and that’s all you need to know.

Another big worry that people had with this film’s cast of characters was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. It’s not that people didn’t trust Hathaway and her skills as an actress, it’s more or less that fans didn’t know what to expect from this character that seemed so weak whenever she was adapted onto film the other times, but somehow, they pull it off perfectly here, mostly Hathaway. Right from the get-go when you see this girl, she is just bad-ass, smart, witty, sly, evil, and sexy, but you never know what’s on her mind, what she’s going to do next, or who’s side she was going to end up being on in the end of it all. That mystery about her, made her character so much more awesome and bad-ass than anybody ever expected and she totally seems like the type of chick-character that could hold her own with the best of them. Don’t hold me to this, but I sort of do see an Oscar nomination for Hathaway here, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t surprised, either. Just one of those things I could see happening in the future, and with good reason, too.

As for everybody else in this flick, they’re all pretty good, too. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, aka the effin’ man, does a great job with a character that comes out of nowhere, we know nothing about, and just seems like one of those cookie-cutting good guys that every superhero story needs. However, JGL makes this character so much more bad-ass than anybody, even myself, first thought and he makes a great supporting character that you know you can trust every time he shows up on-screen. JGL is getting bigger and bigger with each and every role he takes, and it’s not for long until this guy finally nabs an Oscar. Maybe even two, hell, maybe even three! I don’t know! The sky is the freakin’ limit with this dude! Marion Cotillard is also new to this story as Miranda Tate, and does a splendid job, as usual, even if her character does seem a little bit forced with the hum-hum romance between her and Bruce Wayne, but it’s easily forgivable since she’s so good in everything she does. As with out returning veterans of the series, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine, they all do their parts and show why exactly their characters have stayed so strong throughout the whole time of these movies.

I know that throughout this whole review, I kept mentioning and bringing up the word “epic”, but if I had to sum this flick up in one word, it would be exactly just that: epic. You can just feel like this film is going to culminate into something big, something extravagant, and overall, something that will stay in your mind forever because of what Nolan has done with this series, and does with this goodbye to the series and stories that he has made so damn popular once again. Now that he’s done with these flicks, Nolan will go off and do the film he’s always been wanting to do and probably kick as much ass with them as he has with these three, but I will never forget this amazing trilogy and as sad as it may be to see the last time for all of these characters happen right in front of our eyes, I know that I had a great time with all three flicks and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’m getting a little teary-eyed here right now just writing this and when you see this flick, trust me, you won’t be able to blame me. Thank you Christopher Nolan. You truly can do no wrong.

Consensus: Though it may be very long, The Dark Knight Rises delivers on every spectrum: acting, writing, directing, cinematography, score, etc. It’s exactly what you could want in a summer blockbuster, and superhero movie, but it’s also exactly what you could want in a film that’s saying “adios” to all of its characters that it’s introduced to us for the past 7 years and it’s a legacy that I won’t forget. That’s for damn sure.

9.5/10=Full Effin’ Price!!

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Never thought I would say this, but I missed Tobey.

The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. Oh yeah, and he’s also Spider-Man. Can’t forget about that one, little detail.

Before I start this review off, I have to give a little disclaimer and say that I have a special place in my heart for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. That’s right, even the 3rd one to an extent. So this review may be a bit biased in some points and if that is the case, I apologize but I just can’t believe they actually went through with this idea. I mean honestly, you couldn’t wait 5 more years!?!?

Anywhoo, what interested me most about this reboot was the fact that it’s helmed randomly by Marc Webb (director of one of my favorite flicks from 2009, ((500) Days of Summer). When people saw JGL (Joseph Gordon-Levitt for all of you noobs out there) walking down the streets, singing and dancing to the tunes of Hall & Oates, I highly doubt the thing on everybody’s mind was “ooh, I wonder how cool that would be with webs shooting out of that guy’s hands”. What I’m trying to say is that Webb (oh wait, now I get it) seemed like a very random and odd choice for this flick, but I can’t say that he doesn’t bring something fun to this film either. All of that quirky, indie style from his debut is lost here but there is still plenty of room for him to relish in the art of telling the Spider-Man story, the way he thinks is right and do what he wants, just as long as he doesn’t piss off all of the fan boys who want to see this.

The film is claiming to be “the untold story”, when in reality, it’s just a re-working on the same origin story we’ve seen before. Like for instance, instead of a Peter Parker being bitten in the lab because he was on a class field trip, he is in there because he secretly, sneaked into an internship meeting there. Or, instead of having Parker just shoot webs from his veins, he now has mechanical webshooters that pretty much do the same thing. These are the types of “re-workings” we see in this flick and it’s not so bad considering a lot of it makes more sense and gives us a better look at why the Spider-Man superhero is so damn popular and loved in the first place. There is a bunch of humor here, some of which, annoyed the hell out of me, but other times worked and gave this film a fun little feel.

Actually, I can’t really bag on this film as much because it seems like that’s all Webb is concerned about here: having fun. And no matter what the story may be, I’m down with that. There’s plenty of cool-looking action scenes where it’s just Spidey, doing his good olde, mono-a-mono showdown between him and a baddy, and some really beautiful scenes where we see him just fly through the sky, where New York City is pretty much his playground. Some real nifty stuff to see and have fun with here, and it’s also enhanced by some amazing-looking CGI that doesn’t really come off as fake. I saw this in 3D Imax and I have to say, it’s pretty good but I wouldn’t go out and pay for it only because there isn’t so much here that’s worth that extra-dimension. Then again, that could be said for a whole bunch of other flicks with that tagline; “in 3D”.

However, as fun as a lot of the action may be, there’s not as much as you would expect, especially when it comes to a Summer blockbuster. Maybe that’s not the right thing to say, because there is plenty of action and adventure for you to sink your teeth into, but then there are also these other, quieter moments where it’s just focusing on Parker and Stacy’s love relationship that are not only awkward as hell to watch, but don’t feature any type of fun dialogue to keep you interested. They sort of just show up, stay on-screen, and bother the hell out of you because you just want to see The Lizard and Spidey duke it out once again. I don’t mind when a film, let alone a superhero film, is trying to go into more depth about its main character, but when it’s done in a flick where you should be expecting, non-stop action all over the place, then that’s where the problem lies. Basically, just too slow for a superhero film.

What is very watchable throughout these boring scenes, is actually the eclectic cast that Webb has brought together and being lead by Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker. Garfield plays a different type of Parker than from what we saw with Tobey Maguire. Instead of coming off as a total nerd, that can’t do anything right because he wears glasses and loves science, Garfield makes him seem like this lost soul that just keeps to himself and doesn’t really care what goes on around him. Yeah, he’s a little strange because he’s always taking pictures of things, but he’s got a certain edge to him that makes him seem a lot cooler than you would expect Peter Parker actually to seem like in the first place. I think that Garfield goes a little too far with his humor in this film, but then again, that can’t really be blamed on him because he’s obviously doing everything in his soul to be the different type of Peter Parker we are used to seeing.

Emma Stone is here as Gwen Stacy, Parker’s apple of his eye, and does a pretty swell job with what she is given and thankfully, as my friend at the screening I was at pointed out, wasn’t playing the usual “damsel in distress” role that we usually see ladies in superhero flicks usually play. She is actually pretty tough and smart, and can stick up for herself whenever the time comes. Her and Garfield have a little awkward chemistry going on here, but I think that’s what’s the point of this flick. Rhys Ifans does a nice job as our villain, The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors. Ifans can always play these bad-guy roles and this one is no different, except his CGI starts to be a little distracting by the end. Actually, it makes him look like The Hulk and I don’t know if Sony wanted that on their hands after all of The Avengers buzz that still seems to be going on. Seriously, how much more money does that movie need to make?

The casting of Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, seemed like an awesome bit of casting because Sheen just has this “old-timer likability” thing going on for him, that it doesn’t matter what role he plays, you love him regardless. That’s why everybody was so shocked when he got thrown off the roof in The Departed, because everybody loves that guy, who would want to do such a mean and cruel thing to him? Sally Field is here as Aunt May and as hard as she may try, she seems too young for an Aunt and all of the advice she gives out, makes it seem like she’s doing Mamma Gump, all over again. Another bit of inspired casting was actually Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, mainly because the guy shows that he still has the comedic chops to pull off some very funny moments, but can also make a rather, deuchy character, still likable and understandable.

Despite all of these awesome and great elements that this film featured (action, acting, humor, CGI, special effects, etc.), I still couldn’t get past the Sam Raimi movies, and I’ll tell you exactly why. I’m 18 right now, so I was about 7 when the first one came out and I loved it to death. Then that second one came out, and gee-goll-e, did that knock my socks off even more! Then that third one came out, and even though it was definitely not on-par with the other two that came before it, it was still fun and endearing enough to keep me locked on to what was going to happen next with Peter Parker. Honestly, that original series from Raimi will always be in my childhood and I was so mad when they decided to go through with this reboot, really I was. It was a total cash-grab, in my opinion, and as fun as this film may be, I still couldn’t stop thinking about the original flicks. Whenever Garfield was flying through the sky, I kept on thinking about Tobey doing the same thing. Whenever Uncle Ben would show up, I kept on thinking about Cliff Robertson delivering the all-time famous line, “With great power comes great responsibility”. And whenever somebody mentioned Oscorp, Willem Dafoe automatically popped right into my head. Really, the memories from all of my movie-watching from back in the day really made me miss those flicks and also made me want to go watch them again. So maybe this flick wasn’t for me since I loved the originals so much, but honestly, I just wish they never went through this in the first-place. Or at least waited 5 more years so that everybody’s minds were fresh and clear of Raimi and Maguire. Miss them already.

Consensus: The Amazing Spider-Man is exactly what you come to expect from a superhero flick: fun, action-packed, wild and crazy set pieces, baddies doing bad things, goodies doing good things, romantic love story, and some little shots of humor to liven everything up. Problem is, this is a reboot of a series that has already had its movies, and were ones that still stay stuck in my mind no matter what.

7/10=Rental!!

Hesher (2011)

You know that metal head loner who rocks out to Slayer and Metallica all by himself? Well, you should definitely take some life lessons from him some day.

TJ is 13 years old. Two months ago, his mom was killed in an accident, leaving TJ and his grieving dad to move in with grandma to pick up the pieces. Hesher is a loner. He hates the world and everyone in it. He has long, greasy hair and homemade tattoos. He likes fire and blowing things up. He lives in his van until he meets TJ. Hesher is the story of a family struggling to deal with loss and the anarchist who helps them do it in a very unexpected way.

During some of the more angry and I hate “mom, dad, and everybody else around me” periods of my life, I actually found some solace in music that made me want to break down the wall. So with this concept, I could see the cool use of “metal music for therapy” as something new but instead, it just ends up being weird.

Writer/director Spencer Susser does a good job with this film in keeping it weird, a little sad, a little humorous, but never sentimental which is something I can easily say that I appreciated. Right from the get-go, we notice that there has been a death in the family for this father-son combo and there is a lot of really sad and miserable shit that actually happens to this kid, but the film barely ever makes us feel like we have to cry over it all. Instead, he just shows us Hesher being a complete and utter asshole, popping in just whenever he feels like it and doing degenerate things such as lighting a diving board on fire, or even changing the TV channels so he can get porno. It sounds weird I know, but it’s not all that sentimental which I liked considering it was a lot more of a mean film that I thought I was going to get.

Despite the title, this film is actually less about Hesher himself and more about a father and son getting over a death in the family with Hesher popping in just to eff things up more for them. I think it’s cool that they made him the title, but it sort of makes all of the other characters seem like just a bunch of bores when it comes to him. Let me also not forget that this film is incredibly weird which isn’t so bad considering there were a lot of weird and goofy moments that started off pretty strong in the beginning but then it just started getting really weird. Really weird to the point of where I actually wondered if everything I was watching just a part of this kid’s imagination.

The problem with this film is not just the film itself, is more or less just the main character himself, Hesher. To be honest, I don’t know what to really make of this dude other than the fact that he comes into this kids life, with no explanation or reason and even when it seems like he’s asked, nothing is ever said and he just shoots it off to the side. However, if you honestly don’t know how to label Hesher for yourself, just check out the tattoo of the middle finger on his back. That is definitely sure to give you some insight onto who he actually is.

Hesher is also a dude that sort of just keeps to himself but you still never want to eff with him because you know that he will definitely kick the hell out of you right away. Hesher, in his own effed up way, actually ends up slapping a lot of sense into this father and son just by telling them really vulgar metaphors, that he actually compares him losing a nut the same as the dude losing his wife. Yeah, that’s a really bad choice of comparisons but then again this character is not someone who’s normal. Regardless though, the guy is pretty solid because he’s able to give some good insight, provide some dark laughs, and make us feel terribly scared of even messing with him.

However, every time Hesher was working for me the film started to really steer him in the wrong direction I believe. It’s harder and harder to like him considering he does dumb shit like making some joke about Kermit the Frog’s finger that I’ve heard 100 times to this old gal, light this bully’s car on fire but leave the kid there, ask the kid if he has had some sexy time while he fingers the mashed potatoes, and etc. Hesher really can do a lot of cool things and where he can be vulgar and repulsive, some people may find humor in that but for me, I just cringed a lot by how far this guy was pushing the boundaries.

When it comes to playing Hesher though, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great and I think what makes this character watchable in the first place considering JGL seems so flawless with this performance. It may be hard to actually like him but JGL actually helps that a lot here as well. The rest of the cast here is pretty good too with Rainn Wilson playing a very seriously saddy daddy role; Devin Brochu is angsty but also very realistic as the little kid, T.J.; and Natalie Portman does a good job as well but she seems a little out-of-place with a lot of her scenes. I mean the cast is good but when they are compared to Hesher, you don’t really care nor think about them much at all.

Consensus: Hesher has its moments where the dark humor makes you laugh and some of the touching moments also hit well too, but the problem is just like its lead character. We never understand anything about this character, he can be a total dick at times, and he just makes everybody feel uncomfortable without any real rhyme or reason.

5/10=Rental!!

50/50 (2011)

It’s what we 21st century people call: hipster cancer.

An otherwise healthy twentysomething, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), has a comically early midlife crisis when he gets slapped with a cancer diagnosis — and a 50-50 chance of survival. But what’s the meaning of life when you’re not sure how long yours will last?

It’s been a proven fact that cancer is a hard subject to laugh about. I mean Funny People tried 2 years ago but they didn’t really do much with the cancer angle. However, this is the real cancer-comedy.

The script by Will Reiser does a perfect job of balancing out both the comedy, the drama, and the cancer with this challenging premise. Reiser has plenty of funny one-liners and also a lot of moments that will make you laugh at just how ridiculous everybody is responding to Adam’s cancer. When his work-place finds out that he has cancer, they throw him a huge party as if he was going to die the next day, and that’s just one of the many hilarious scenes this film has.

Another great thing about this script is that the drama works so incredibly well here as well, adding so much more heart to the comedy than I actually expected. Whenever things started to get serious with this film, I didn’t feel like it was forced and instead I felt like it served all of these characters and premise very well. I mean cancer is not always a funny thing and just how Reiser was able to show hilarity and sadness behind it all was a great job on his part.

The film starts to even get darker by the end which is something that really had me falling for this film because it never got so dark to completely turn me off from the film as a whole. This isn’t just about how Adam has to deal with the cancer, it’s about everyone around him who have to cope with it as well. Some people know that their losing a good buddy, while some know their losing a son, and others know they just may be losing a potential lover. Either way, this film shows just how everybody around the person with cancer, is as affected as the person him or herself.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam in what I think is his best role yet. At first, it seemed like Adam was just going to be Tom from 500 Days of Summer, which isn’t a bad thing but then again, there’s no real range in that role for Joseph. However, when the film starts to go on, Adam starts to go through chemo and that’s when Joseph really starts to let all of his anger and frustration out. We see so many different sides to this character as he goes through this whole frustrating situation and even as dark as this character may get, we still keep on rooting for him the whole time because he is just a genuinely good and nice guy that really doesn’t deserve this, but nobody else does either really.

Seth Rogen is also great in this film as his best bud, Kyle, and and is the comic relief here that plays so well opposite of Gordon-Levitt. Rogen delivers all of the R-rated laughs we’re all so used to hearing from him nowadays such as the talk about blow jobs, weed, and picking up chicks, but there’s also an under-lining sweetness to this guy that comes out by the end of the film and is something that I think Rogen plays up very well. They work well together and I think that’s because they both seem like they really do care for each other and it’s just great to see Rogen be able to play up his comedy side as well as his softer side that we don’t see too much of really.

Anna Kendrick was also such a joy to watch as Katie, Adam’s therapist, as she plays up a lot of that cuteness and silliness to great effect as her and Gordon-Levitt create such a great chemistry together that it was almost better than his scenes with Rogen. Anjelica Huston was perfectly cast as Adam’s mother, and as always, gives a perfect performance that may be about 15 minutes of total screen-time, still had me tearing up in my seat. My one problem with this cast was Bryce Dallas Howard as Adam’s girlfriend who is a big bitch but at the same time is a character that seemed very badly written and had no reason to really be there other than to create more conflict for his character. Although, she was very good in the role I must say.

Consensus: Cancer and comedy may be a hard subject to make watchable, but 50/50 does that perfectly. With great acting from the whole cast, hilarious moments, and as well as some tender ones as well, this film creates a story that almost seems like real-life with characters that are all perfectly fleshed out.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Inception (2010)

I don’t mind to sound corny or anything, but this movie really is a dream come true.

Inception deals with the concept of sharing dreams with Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, a conman who enters the dreams of others and steals ideas from their subconscious (known as “extraction”) for unknown employers. After a lengthy career in dream thefts and being away from his family, Cobb is offered a job of the seemingly-impossible task of “inception,” the crime of implanting an idea instead of stealing one, and he assembles a crew (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Wantanbe, Ellen Page, and Dileep Rao) to pull off the perfect crime with hopes of being able to return home.

Christopher Nolan, would probably be known to your everyday person, as the guy who directed The Dark Knight. That is true, but he is also the director of plenty of other movies, that the everyday person may not know about, that totally mess with your mind. Films like: Following, Memento, The Prestige, and Insomnia. In this, he combines both of his different styles together, and gets my favorite film of 2010 thus far.

The script itself has all the elements of The Matrix. There’s a lot of talk about life, and how we are living a dream-world, and our minds create illusions for ourselves, and all that other hickory-doo. However, it comes out in such a good way, that it’s too hard to ignore. It never shows us the “What if…” side, but always brings up the side about dreams, and our illusions, and how we make things up in our world, just to make ourselves feel better with the life we have, and what would we do if someone was to take them away from us. It makes you think a lot, almost too much for a damn summer blockbuster, and I might just think twice about my dreams when I wake up the next morning.

The plot, at first, may confuse the crap out of so many people, hell, it confused me, but after awhile you start to get a whole feel for the film, and you understand what’s going on, how everything happens the way it does, and although the answers may never be fully explained to you through words, you kind of make assumptions as the film goes along.  It doesn’t hold your hand the whole time, but yet, it doesn’t let you go, and fall behind, creating a wall between the material, and the audience, which is hard for any psychological thrillers in today’s film world.

But any film can have a good script, and cool plot, but still boring as shit. This is where this film is different from all others of the same kind. The action scenes were also very good. They were more stylized and tense than bombastic, something along the lines of James Bond, where Nolan obviously draws inspiration from, and I thought that it worked perfectly well for a film with this kind of concept. The tense situations the characters get into toy with the minds of the audiences without throwing them out of the film, and when bullets and fists start flying, you get treated to some of the most unique action scenes. But it’s not just the fight sequences that make this film fun, it’s the visuals, and all the tricks Nolan has up his sleeve to make things unique. The visual aspects in this film will take your breath away. I liked how Nolan, in a world where 3-D is on every the big screen every damn weekend, he sticks it straight, with the original 2-D visuals, which I think I loved more than any 3-D film I’ve ever seen. He uses a lot of CGI, but it doesn’t look like it at all, it really does look these people are walking around in a world, that they have created themselves, and as they start to change it around, it looks even cooler, cause your wondering, just how they made this seem all realistic. My favorite scene that rightfully shows how great of a director Christopher Nolan can be with the setting, and many tricks, is the fight scene in the hall-way. If you saw the first trailer, you have seen what some of it looks like, but the whole scene with that makes you think: “How in the hell did they do this?”. It is literally the greatest film sequence I have seen in awhile, probably one of my favorite Top 5.

The whole ensemble cast is what really lifts this too. Leonardo DiCaprio, is well, what you would expect him to be, is great as usual. He plays that sort of troubled, straight-forward guy in almost all of his movies, but it’s never really seem to have worn out. The film may be advertised as the Leo show, when in reality, its the rest of the cast, that keeps us in. Ellen Page ditches her smart-ass teen days, and actually shows some good acting skills, giving us a look at the potential she has, as a serious actress, although she will always be remembered as Juno. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is one my favorites, is showing up in more stuff, and is good to see on-screen cause he handles a lot of the big dramatic scenes, really well, almost showing up Leo. Yes! I said it! Gordon-Levitt vs. DiCaprio on PPV. That’s something I would always pay to see. Tom Hardy is good here, bringing a lot of funny moments to the film, but not without showing he is still a bad-ass, and can whoop some booty. Ken Watanabe is also good, however, I couldn’t understand him a lot, he still doesn’t lose his composure while on-screen. Cillian Murphy, another one of my favorites, shows up and gives some more good scenes, with an American accent, that actually seems real. It was also good to see Marion Cotillard, playing a different type of role, than the strong female lead. She is playing a crazy chick, and is shown in some pretty dramatic scenes, but she still holds her own, and I have to give her props for that, cause I could see plenty of actresses messing that up. I was disappointed to see Lukas Haas, Michael Caine, and Tom Berenger, get little bitch roles, but it’s whatever, I was glad with the cast they got.

The film is not perfect, the film doesn’t show us a glimpse into these characters lives. They don’t have enough in their roles to show how great they are or how great they can really be. But despite that, I still had a good time watching these actors perform all together.

Consensus: Inception is the rare summer blockbuster that has almost everything you could want in a film: fun action, interesting plot, original screenplay, unique and stylish visuals, inspired direction, and wonderful performances from an ensemble cast. It’s not perfect, but it’s damn sure as hell close to it.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

Manic (2003)

If everyone from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, were teenagers.

Teenager Lyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is committed to the juvenile ward of a mental institution after brutally beating another boy. There, he encounters a pack of equally lost souls, including a girl who hurts herself (Zooey Deschanel), a 12-year-old child molester (Cody Lightning) and a bipolar teen planning an escape (Michael Bacall). Don Cheadle stars as the resident psychiatrist who works tirelessly to break through to his charges and give them hope.

Where this film is no where near as close to the Milos Forman classic, it still does have a great look and insight into the world of depression, and the people that try to help it.

Going into the film you have to be ready for a whirlwind storm of total unhappiness, something I did not do. I still wish there was a bit more light touches added to the film rather than just, all these suicidal tendencies running all over the place. I also think that first-time director, Jordan Melamed, gets too caught on focus with the shaky cam feature, and I found this aspect for some of the scenes to be a distraction, cause it was just all over the place.

Other than those two problems, this film does give great insight into depression. You see how these characters tell their stories about heart break, and tragedy. Almost every story, as depressing as the other, ultimately touches you, cause in all honesty if you have ever known somebody that is facing depression, or any type of mental illness, you can understand the pain that these kids are feeling.

One of my friends saw this movie, and was like, “this isn’t how real people act”. When in reality, this is totally how people act when they are under depression. I mean, the truth of this story is that, all these characters from the cutter, to the molester, and to the kid with anger management issues, not all of them find solutions in life, it’s more about helping to climb that mountain and achieve greatness.

Don Cheadle basically devours the screen every time he gets it with his superb acting. Everytime this guy is on-screen, you can feel his frustration, but also a sense of relief whenever he is around, and you can trust him with your life. It was cool to see Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star together again as love interests, because of my love for (500) Days of Summer. They both have a great sense of rawness within their characters, and each give off great performances to support the film.

Consensus: Manic may have obvious flaws, especially with the camera that will probably make you puke, but features great performances, to back up a wonderful screenplay about the reality of depression, and the harsh things to come of it.

8/10=Matinee!!!!

Brick (2006)

A different type of gimmick.

When a secret crush turns up dead and the murderer is anyone’s guess, teenage loner Brendan Fry (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is forced to navigate his school’s social network through intense interactions with thespians, band geeks and druggies (including a grown-up Lukas Haas).

The film has all the elements of a noir: dark atmosphere, creepy score, and haunting visuals, but the twist here is that its set in a 21st century high school.

In my opinion this film has one of the best writing-directing debuts of all time from Rian Johnson. The screenplay is just filled with so much humor, bleakness, and so much mystery, that it almost all feels to realistic. You watch those old noir films and you will realize that nobody else really talks like they do, and in this film, you get the sense of how real people talk in this, especially with all their hipster dialogue. Some of the parts in this film are actually tongue-in-cheek, and I liked that separation from old noirs mostly. The direction from Johnson is very inspired, because there are so many parts where this film could have just did the cliche route of being too corny, and obvious, but instead delves more into its plot and how much its characters become even more rich.

The one problem I had with this film was the handling of the ending, and its message. The end could have been set up so well, and so intriguing but it only goes for the slow ending and a not very effective one to say the least.

Brick has one of the best protagonists in a film played by the great Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The reason why this person is so great is because we step into the movie having no idea who he is other than just your typical loner at school, but as the film progresses we get to see him as a person more and more, who will stop at nothing to find the truth. Gordon-Levitt is what you would call your anti-hero, because he doesn’t strive to be great, he just is crazy and your everyday person, and that’s what makes him great. I also liked Lukas Haas as “The Pin” who plays a wonderful parody on the old mobster leaders, from those films, and probably gives one of the best supporting performances.

Consensus: Brick is short of an effective ending, and has the look, touch, and feel of a noir, but with a twist, great writing and direction, and a superbly acted cast.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!

Shadowboxer (2006)

In order to get ready for Precious, I chose another Lee Daniels film, that I’m hoping will make Precious a better trip than what I expect.

A nasty crime lord (Stephen Dorff) hires Rose (Helen Mirren) and her stepson Mikey (Cuba Gooding Jr.) — assassin partners and longtime lovers — to off his spouse, Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito). But Rose, ill with cancer and on her last job, spares her mark when she learns Vickie’s with child. The unexpected twist forces Mikey, Rose and their charges to flee to life in suburbia, until the past catches up with them.

Now looking at this film from a person who has seen it all in films, I have got to say this movie is pretty messed up. When you have film with Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. doing it, you know you have a pretty messed up film.

So anyway, all the critics I have read, all HATED this film. For me I’m going to say yeah its odd and kind of weird but really it does a good job with its material. It takes this unusual story and makes it a stylized, enjoyable thriller.I’m not going to lie there are scenes that get a little too out of hand, but after that I still was on the edge of my seat wondering what was to happen next.

I am not a prude and I can see how the sex scenes bring a grittiness that was needed to show the harshness of real life but nothing else about this movie reflects real life. The director almost comically twists the relationships to get a jolt out of the viewer.

Helen Mirren doesn’t quite act to the standard she could have. She looks like at times she just lost a bet, and was given a script to work with and just decided to mildly act it out. Cuba Gooding Jr. does the best job in this film as basically taking the last act of the film and making it his show with a powerful performance. Stephen Dorff, plays the type of 2nd grade villain that doesn’t get enough screen time to show how vicious he really can be, I think this was a problem but he could have done better as well.

The one thing I’ll also say about this film is that it shows these weird couples, but you know what that’s reality. I mean there is a couple of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mo’Nique, this was kind of odd, but it still showed how strange couples can actually be.

Consensus: The over-the-top sex scenes and at points very random, Shadowboxer is a stylized and entertaining little thriller, that doesn’t get the best boot from its cast, but in the end is actually OK.

5/10=Rentall!!!!!