Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Keanu Reeves

To the Bone (2017)

Thanks, supermodels! What influences you all are!

Ellen (Lily Collins) is an unruly 20-year-old anorexic girl who spent the better part of her teenage years being shepherded through various recovery programs, only to find herself several pounds lighter every time. There’s no real rhyme or reason or why she’s stopped eating and allow for her body to get so frail – it’s just something that happened and has forced everyone around her to take notice and wonder what they did wrong. It’s even gone on to influence Ellen’s art which, as a result, even influenced a fellow girl her age, to kill herself. Once again, why? No one really knows, so Ellen gets sent away to find some sort of a solution to a group home for youths, led by a non-traditional doctor (Keanu Reeves), who believes much more in talking and getting to the root of the problem, rather than diagnosing it and expecting all sorts of issues just to go away. Through this home and the people she meets, Ellen begins to grow up a bit and start think about the life she has and why it’s actually worth living. And also, why it’s best to just chew down, as opposed to not at all.

Handshake, or pound it? Make up your mind, kids!

To the Bone is a step above the usual, cookie-cutter movie-of-the-week junk we get on TV nowadays. But it’s still a small step that features cursing, sex talk, drug use, and some other disturbing material that also makes it seem like it’s trying a bit hard, but at the same time, not, because it’s actually giving us real teens, with real issues, talking the way that real teens talk. Does that make it great? Nope, not really. But if anything, that makes it more noble than anything that Lifetime can offer you.

And if that’s the standard, then really, what’s the point, right?

Anyway, To the Bone mostly gets by on Lily Collins performance in which, not only does she totally dress herself down in an unhealthy and scary way, but also allows for her character to grow over time. It helps that Ellen is more than another angsty teen who has family-problems and doesn’t really know how to express herself, as she’s much more of a teen who just doesn’t know what to do with her life; the fact that she was mostly pushed to the edge of her life through someone else’s suicide, already makes her a tad different than other protagonists like her, in other movies. And yes, Collins is quite good, too, showing a great deal of sadness, as well as fun and light in a character that, honestly, should have just had a whole movie dedicated to her and to her alone.

Because it’s in the supporting characters that the movie sort of plays its hand a bit too much and, dare I say it, get a bit annoying. For instance, Alex Sharp’s romantic love-interest character, while well-intentioned, comes off a bit goofy and pretentious. It’s as if he jumped right out of the Fault in our Stars and decided to give this movie a bunch of annoying comedy that, quite frankly, it didn’t really need. We get it, he’s different and a bit light on his feet, but does that really mean every line he has, has to be some sort of lame joke that sounds like it came from your weird uncle?

You’ll get there. Have a steak.

Probably not and it’s why To the Bone struggles to figure out just what it’s about.

Either it’s about anorexia and what draws a person to this way? Or, it’s about this one girl, trying to live, trying to survive, trying to find happiness, and just trying to be herself, even when she doesn’t know how to be? The movie flirts with both angles and after awhile, it makes you wonder where it wants to go, what it wants to say, or what it even what it wants to be about. Both stories are interesting and could work, but side-by-side, they don’t and it ends up making the movie feel like a bit of a mess, even if yes, it’s one step above something from Lifetime.

But then again, is that really the peak?

Consensus: Though it flirts with some interesting ideas about anorexia, depression, and coming-of-age, ultimately, To the Bone feels a little melodramatic and light to really dig deep into what it wants to develop.

5 / 10

“Like, uh, woah.”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz


The Bad Batch (2017)

Cannibals gotta eat, too.

In the near-future, where it seems like the rest of the world is either on the brink of self-destruction, or already there, lies an odd area outside of Texas where there are no rules, laws, or jurisdictions whatsoever. And in that case, that means anything goes, where anyone can do whatever it is that they have to do to survive. It’s surely not the easiest place for anyone out there, and especially not a small, seemingly innocent girl by the name of Arlen (Suki Waterhouse), who just gets dropped in the air, only to then lose an arm and leg, very shortly afterwards. Why though? Oh, because there’s cannibals lurking just about everywhere you look in this awful wasteland and it’s up to Arlen herself to not just stay away from these terrible folks, but not become one of them herself. And while there, she meets someone named Miami (Jason Momoa), a Cuban who may look like a sinister and mean son-of-a-bitch, but in reality, just wants his daughter back – the same daughter that Arlen has in her company with good reason.

In a post-apocalyptic world where human flesh is desired, don’t worry, supermodels survive.

The Bad Batch isn’t so much of a mess, as much as it’s just a simple, pretty ordinary movie that strains to be something strange, odd, weird, and hella different, but in reality, is just like many other Mad Max rip-offs ever made in the past few decades. It’s grimy, hot, dirty, mean, grotesque, weird, and packed with a whole lot of wide, sweeping shots of the desert, but there’s one key ingredient missing: Excitement. See, without any of that, you just have an ordinary, everyday thriller that longs to be something way different and out-of-this-world, but ultimately, is just so slow and boring that it feels like it’s being made-up on the spot, but without all that much time, thought, rhyme, or reason of why everything’s playing out the way it is.

Okay, so yeah, maybe it’s a bit of a mess.

But still, the Bad Batch isn’t as bad as people have been making it out to be; if anything, it’s just a two-hour-long movie that feels longer and probably could have been cut by at least 30-to-40-minutes and no one would have been the wiser. Of course, you’ve got to give it to writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour who, after achieving some surprising success with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, seems to have gotten total and complete creative-control with this here, for better and for worse. It’s nice that she was willing to make such an impact with her equally odd and strange debut, but whereas that movie seemed like it had somewhere to go, even while it was making itself up as it went along, this one seems like she doesn’t really have the slightest clue of where she wants it to go.

Then again, you can’t totally blame her. Not only does Amirpour have a bigger budget this time, but she’s got a bigger cast, scope, and yes, way more toys to play around with. In that sense, then Amirpour makes it worth her while; the movie looks muggy and disgusting, but deservedly so, as if it may have been taking place on the outskirts of Thunderdome, but still seeming like it’s own place. If there’s anything that Amirpour achieves here, it’s a nice general sense of the world that she’s created and the characters she’s given us to help make sense of this messed-up, sickening and twisted world.

I don’t know, Suki. May be a little too much man to handle.

That said, it does take awhile to get through it all which, ultimately, keeps the Bad Batch from fully getting off the ground. And it’s not even that it’s a terribly boring movie – there are some nice bits of tension that seem to work themselves out, the more drawn-out they are – it’s just that it takes so long to actually get going to where it needs to get going. There’s not much of a story to begin with, but then again, there wasn’t much of one with Amirpour’s debut; that movie had the benefit of going down certain weird and crazy avenues, while definitely random, made the movie all the more interesting to watch.

The Bad Batch doesn’t quite know where it wants to go, or what it’s actually interested in and therefore, it makes it harder for us, the audience, to get all that interested, either.

And it’s a shame, too, because Amirpour shows that she’s capable of handling a bigger-budget, with a bigger-cast and scope, it’s just that her story isn’t totally there. Had at least 15 minutes of the pauses and silences been cut-out, the Bad Batch would have been a tighter, much more compelling ride through this deserted wasteland. But as it stands, it’s just way too long, without all that much of a direction in sight.

Unlike, of course, any of the Mad Max‘s. Sorry, Ana Lily. Next time, I can feel it.

Consensus: With a bigger-budget and names, the Bad Batch shows Amirpour can handle more on her plate, except nail down tone, story, and well, pacing. Aka, the essentials for making a solid, exciting and relatively compelling thriller.

5.5 / 10

Oooh. Cheeky.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

This Wick guy can’t catch a break.

After having to eliminate all of those who killed his precious dog some years ago, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is now enjoying his life of luxury, at-home and not having a single worry in the world. However, it all changes when a former associate of his, Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up at his door-step, asking him to take someone out. While Wick doesn’t really want to, he basically has to, because Santino is part of the “organization” that Wick and many other lethal and powerful people are apart of. So Wick does his job and takes out the target, however, little does he know that Santino wants to tie-up loose ends and get rid of Wick, putting a seven million dollar bounty on Wick, for anyone who is capable of taking him down. Is this a battle Wick can fight, hell, even win? Probably, but it’s going to be a hell of a ride, taking down every skilled mercenary that’s out to make a quick dollar off of the head of Wick.

One of the key complaints people seem to have with video-game movies is that they don’t feel like you yourself, are actually playing a video-game. Instead, it feels like you’re watching someone else play a video-game, not ever handing over the control, and not doing anything right – they’re constantly doing the wrong things, dying over and over again, and not even bothering to put in cheats. Video-game movies can be frustrating for this sole reason and it’s why most of them don’t work and are better off staying as video-games, where anyone can play them and do what they want.

Don't mess with a man who has a beard like that.

Wes Bentley gonna sue somebody!

Which is why John Wick: Chapter 2 is probably the best video-game movie, that’s not actually adapted from a video-game.

With most sequels, the ones behind them know that whatever worked in the first, should be done in the second, but with even more aggression and repetitiveness. Often times, this can make the sequels feel boring and dull, as if there’s no heart or emotion to them, but just studio-mandated sequences. Chapter 2 is the rare sequel in which the excursiveness of itself, actually helps the movie out in the long run; the first movie was crazy and chaotic, too, but Chapter 2 takes it to the next level.

In a way, Chapter 2 is a better movie, all around, than the first John Wick. There’s more creativity here, more excitement, and yes, a little bit more of a story. But Chapter 2 is smart in that it doesn’t try anything terribly new or different that could potentially push fans of the original away; there’s still tons of action, blood, bullets, guns, knives, and blown-off faces. In other words, it’s a grand old time, but it’s never cheap about it.

Director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad seem as if they know how to make this pulpy material work, without trying too hard; Kolstad seems to just write one dumb monologue after another, whereas Stahelski shoots every action-sequence in the most simplest way imaginable, without all of the unnecessary cuts, CGI, and finickiness that can sometimes make most action-thrillers a chore to sit through. Here, you can see just about everything going on with this action and because of that, it’s more compelling to watch.

That, and because well, it seems like Keanu Reeves himself is doing a lot of his own stunts.

Oh yeah, get on with the shooting.

Oh yeah, get on with the shooting.

Which, yes, may not sound like much, but trust me, it does. Reeves has been well-known as an actor who uses a stunt-double for his action-sequences, but doesn’t solely rely on them for each and every scene known to man – Tom Cruise is a lot like this, but he’s also far more showier about it than Reeves. And in Chapter 2, you can tell that a lot of is Keanu, which is pretty impressive, considering that he’s nearly 53-years-old and can be seen here jumping, kicking, punch, falling, rolling, and most of all, running. Age doesn’t matter for Reeves and it’s a great thing, because he seems to absolutely love these kinds of roles and they fit him like a glove, so it all works for everyone in the end.

Of course, Chapter 2 gets by on its wild ensemble, most of whom are leftovers from the original. If there’s one issue to be had with Chapter 2, it’s that the movie does have the ability to stop itself rather abruptly, just so that a character can sit around and whisper something somewhat meaningful, or menacing, but doesn’t really amount to much. While it’s neat to get an action movie that does this, it also breaks up the tension and makes us just want to see these characters beat the hell out of one another. Sure, it helps that you’ve got pros like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Peter Stormare, John Leguizamo, and Laurence Fishburne working with this material, but yeah, sometimes, enough is enough and it’s time to just get on with the ass-kicking.

But hey, a movie that can give us a bad-ass Common, then, deserves a whole lot of credit.

Consensus: More action-packed and crazier than the original, Chapter 2 is the rare instance in which a sequel is better than its original, based solely on the fact that it constantly packs more on as it goes along.

8 / 10

He's got a new dog. Don't. Touch. It.

He’s got a new dog. Don’t. Touch. It.

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

Thumbsucker (2005)

Sucking thumbs are bad, but what about binkies?

Justin (Lou Taylor Pucci) is going through the usual growing pains that many teens his age have gone through before him and will continue to do so after him. The only small difference is that whereas most teens get by on focusing on themselves and trying harder to get better, Justin does so by sucking his thumb. It’s an odd habit he has, that eventually, his parents get him on some medicine, in hopes that he’ll not just kick the thumb sucking, but also become more focused in school. Thankfully for them, what they wanted does happen; eventually, Justin stops sucking his thumb, starts up a relationship with a girl (Kelli Garner), gets better at school, and starts winning all sorts of championships with his debate team. But eventually, all of the medicine begins to pick-up with Justin and it isn’t before long that he starts to spiral out of control, hurt those that he loves, and realize that he needs to grow up a lot sooner, but on his own and without any medicine to help him out.

Cut it out, baby!

Cut it out, baby!

Does Thumbsucker sound like some sort of metaphor for coming-of-age, growing up and realizing that you’re not a little baby anymore? Pretty much, yeah. Writer/director Mike Mills crafts what is, essentially, the 500th quirky, indie coming-of-age flick from the mid-aughts and while this one’s a little different in terms of its style, unfortunately, the story is pretty much still the same.

But sometimes, some of the same is fine. With Thumbsucker, there’s a feeling of familiarity here, but not just with the material itself – Mills does something neat in that he does paint Justin’s issues with growing up and accepting the world around him, as almost a universal thing that all kids at that age go through. Some can handle it quite well and get by with flying colors, whereas others, like Justin, have a rough time with it, suck their thumbs, and need a daily dose of whatever medicine they’re prescribed to get by and through another day. In a way, I make Thumbsucker sound like a melodramatic piece of Lifetime-trash, but it’s a little smarter than that.

For one, it’s got a neat style, yo.

For any of those who have seen Beginners or the recent 20th Century Women, they’ll know that Mills has a knack for telling a story in his own way, visually. Sometimes, this can get in the way of the material, but here, it does help it out, especially since a lot of what the movie seems to be talking about and covering, is a little dry. It’s a conventional tale that without Mills’ constant bits and pieces of art thrown in there for good measure, would have just been another run-of-the-mill coming-of-ager, but of course, it’s got that going for it.

Where Mills seems to lose himself a tad bit is in the story department, and not really knowing how to compact everything and everyone so perfectly well. For instance, Justin’s story is the clear focal point of the whole movie, but then, Mills also veers his head towards Justin’s parents, played by Tilda Swinton and Vincent D’nofrio, and then to Keanu Reeves’ hippie-dentist character, and eventually a little to Garner’s Rebecca character. Vince Vaughn’s teacher does get a moment here and there, but not his own subplot.

For a movie that barely even hits 90 minutes, it’s surprising how jam-packed this can be with story and that ends up becoming its own worst enemy. While Justin’s story is more than enough to maintain the whole flick, all of these other stories, like with the parents and their battle with aging, fidelity and staying happy, while are admirable, still don’t matter much. It’s as if we got the story of Justin, only to get to the parents themselves, only for the movie to realize that we have to hear about Justin a lot, too. It’s a constant back-and-forth that just didn’t quite work for me and made it seem like Mills himself was figuring out exactly where to go with it all, too.

Pictured: Not True Detective season 2

Pictured: Not True Detective season 2

Then again, the ensemble he’s put together is something else, so that helps, too.

Though we don’t get to see too much of him nowadays, Lou Taylor Pucci was quite the young talent and proves it with Justin. Here, Pucci has to act really angsty and smart, which could have definitely been annoying, but because Pucci plays this Justin character as a bit of a wild and loose cannon, it actually works to his benefit. It’s actually fun to watch him interact with those around him, as opposed to sad or boring. Kelli Garner plays the eventual apple of his eye and they have a nice bit of chemistry together, which would make sense considering they were going out around the same time, too, but that’s neither here nor there.

On the supporting side, Vince Vaughn does a nice job dialing down his persona, yet, still staying funny and heartfelt. If anything, all of Vaughn’s various attempts at playing it straight don’t quite come off as good as it does here and should be the calling-card he uses for future reference. Keanu Reeves, while still totally playing in his element as a bro-ish kind of dude, is fun to watch. And as the parents, D’onofrio and Swinton are good, too, even if their story could have probably had its own movie. Benjamin Bratt is around for a scene or two, makes us laugh and most of all, makes us wish he was around more.

Don’t think I’ve ever said that before, but hey, it’s the truth.

Consensus: While a tad too quirky and overstuffed for its own good, Thumbsucker is still a familiar, but also heartwarming coming-of-ager, assisted by a very good ensemble.

6.5 / 10

Always listen to Keanu when it comes to bro-ing out. Always.

Always listen to Keanu when it comes to bro-ing out. Always.

Photos Courtesy of: Movie Roulette 

Street Kings (2008)

Don’t mess with Johnny Utah. Ever.

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a veteran member of the LAPD who has definitely seen better days. While he does still do his job and take down the bad guys that need to be taken down, he also does so by sucking down bottles of vodka. He does this because he is still mourning the loss of his wife and as is such, has alienated a lot of those around him. One person in particular is his former partner, Officer Washington (Terry Crews), who now looks back on his time with Ludlow in disgust. Ludlow knows this and doesn’t like it, which is why he decides that it may be time to get Washington to shut up, before certain people start listening in on to what he has to say. But wouldn’t you know it that when Ludlow does get a chance to shut Washington up, Washington is gunned-down in what happens to be a random corner-store robbery. Feeling some echo of guilt, Ludlow decides to set out and find out who did this to Washington, but unfortunately, the more he digs up, the more dirt begins to show.

That Forest Whitaker eye is not to be messed with.

That Forest Whitaker eye is not to be messed with.

David Ayer can handle these types of dirty, gritty and violent thrillers about corrupt cops and politicians being, well, just that, corrupt. However, there does come a point where eventually, all of the same things that you made your name on, can get to be a bit too old, especially when you’ve got nothing left to say. Sure, a movie like Street Kings should resonate more so now, than it ever has before; police corruption is at an all-time high and people seem to really be demanding questions more than ever, but for some reason, it’s the kind of movie that brings these hard and questionable figures up, without ever seeming to bother to really say much more about it.

Instead, Ayer is more interested in shooting things and throwing blood anywhere he can set his sights to.

That’s fine because Ayer can handle action well. The best parts of Street Kings, actually, are when it’s just a few characters sitting in a room, expecting there to be some violence occurring soon, with their hands firmly on the trigger’s of their guns, not knowing when the other shoe is going to drop and people are going to have to be lit-up. It’s why some of the best moments of Training Day, were the ones where you had no clue exactly what was going to go down, even if you had a general idea.

Problem is, with Training Day and countless other flicks that Ayer has attached his name to, he’s become a tad too conventional. Street Kings feels like the kind of cop flick that would work somewhere back in the mid-90’s – ideas like these weren’t new, but they were still sustainable for entertainment. You could make the argument that Street Kings is sort of working with the same environment, to just be fun and nothing else, but when you have brothers in blue, who are literally doing terrible, immoral things, or getting killed, left and right, there’s a feeling that maybe, just maybe, someone needs to ask, “why?”

In a way, it’s almost like Ayer has a responsibility to ask those questions and get, at the very least, an idea of an answer. To just service your plot with cops and criminals getting shot and killed, without ever saying anything else about it, seems wrong. Trust me, I’m all for the down, dirty and immoral action when push comes to shove, but Ayer doesn’t really have his flick placed in any sort of fake world, or universe – it’s a real world/universe, where cops are meant to stop bad people, from doing bad things.

In fact, it’s the world in which we live in now.

"Uh. Hey. Freeze, man."

“Uh. Hey. Freeze, man.”

But honestly, besides that, Street Kings can be fun, when it actually cares to be fun. There’s a lot of the same stuff seen before, especially from Ayer’s pen, and you can tell that he’s trying to change everything up, yet, fall back on  the same conventions that have made cop-thrillers, such as his, hits in the first place. Ayer is a good director and writer when he wants to be, but here, it feels as if he’s just moving along, steadily, not trying to rock the boat and rely on what he knows best, without trying to change up any sort of format.

The only opportunity Ayer really gets a chance to liven-up things in Street Kings is with his wonderful ensemble, all of whom are having a great time. Keanu Reeves is actually quite good as Ludlow, mostly because the guy doesn’t always have to say something – some of the times, he just backs it up with his gun, or his fists. This suits Reeves just fine, just as it suits him playing the mentor-role to Chris Evans’ young, hotshot rookie character, both of whom work well together. Evans, too, in an early role before he truly broke-out into stardom, seems like the heart and soul of this cruel, dark and upsetting world, which works, until the movie decides that it cares less about him and more about just shooting people’s heads off.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but there comes a point where it’s overkill.

Others randomly show up like Common, the Game, Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Mohr, John Corbett, and Terry Crews, and all add a little something to the proceedings. You can tell that Ayer likes to cast these known-actors in roles that you least expect them to work with and it actually works in his favor. However, had he given more screen-time to Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker, equally the best parts of this otherwise mediocre movie, all would have been right with the world. The two play opposing chiefs who may or may not be as evil, or as good as they present themselves as being. Ayer always treads the fine line here between these characters and it makes me wish that he decided to do more with the other characters, or even the plot.

Consensus: As conventional as cop-thrillers can go, Street Kings boasts an impressive cast and some fun moments, but ultimately seems to concerned with blowing stuff/people up, and not ever asking why.

5 / 10

"Let me give you my card. And no, I'm not playing that cynical doctor this time."

“Let me give you my card. And no, I’m not playing that cynical doctor this time.”

Photos Courtesy of: Roger, IMDB, Deep Focus Review

The Neon Demon (2016)

Eat a burger and enjoy life, girls! Besides, it’s what’s on the inside that actually counts!

Just after her 16th birthday, Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles in hopes of launching some sort of a career as a model. Everyone around her tells her that she’s got the look and innocent appeal for it all, making her not only the most sought-for talent on the market, but the most hated among fellow models who are still trying to make it big, but somehow, can’t seem, to get noticed. Jesse starts to notice this and even though she makes a close friend with a make-up artist (Jena Malone), she still can’t trust anybody enough to where they’re best friends of any nature. And if that wasn’t bad enough for Jesse, she now has to worry about a seedy motel manager (Keanu Reeves), who always seems to be demanding money from her for some reason, and a creepy photographer (Karl Glusman), who wants to be more to her than just a friend, but also doesn’t want to creep her out too much and scare her away. The fashion-world begins to heat up a whole lot more once Jesse enters it, which leads her to decide who to trust, and who not to trust.

Is this aNicolas Winding Refn, or Lars von Trier movie?

Is this a Nicolas Winding Refn, or Lars von Trier movie?

Nicolas Winding Refn, for the past few years or so, has absolutely decided to stop worrying about what other people were thinking about his movies, his pretentious style, and his treatment of everyone and everything in his movies, and just do whatever the hell he wants to do. In a movie like Only God Forgives, it worked so well because every second he got, Refn took something odd, but equally interesting out of his bag of tricks and allowed for a somewhat conventional story, play-out a whole lot different than was hardly expected. Drive was less successful, in my opinion, if only because it seemed like there was a real story to assist everything and rather than sticking straight to that and making it fully work, it felt like Refn himself got bored and wanted to play around for some odd. Either way, both movies are better than the Neon Demon, but it’s still very much the same thing: Refn doing what he wants, when he wants, and however he wants it, and you know what?

I kind of love that.

Refn seems to really be aiming for David Lynch at this point where it seems like he wants to approach this story in a straight manner, but also doesn’t want to lose his points with the cool crowd. For every scene or two where it’s literally just two characters, sitting in a wide room and having an awkward, almost silent conversation, there’s another scene where the Cliff Martinez soundtrack gets turned all the way up to eleven and for one reason or another, inanimate objects start to appear out of nowhere. Refn clearly has two sides to him that always seem to battle each other; there’s the smart, plot-driven side that showed heavily in his excellent Pusher flicks, and the other, a more artsy, visually-attentive director who sometimes prefers telling his stories in a visual manner.

Neither side should work side-by-side, but Refn offers up just enough interesting bits and pieces for both, that it actually works. It helps that the Neon Demon takes place in this cruel, dark underworld of fashion where, yes, on a daily basis, people are constantly judging you and aiming for your spot, giving it something of a satirical look and feel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s Refn’s funniest movie – not that that’s hard to be in the first place, but still, it’s worth pointing out. Sometimes, you never know if Refn’s intentionally being funny, or if his world is just so twisted and wacky that you can’t help and laugh, but either way, it mostly all works because, well, it keeps your eyes and ears glued to the screen.

Sounds stupid, I know, but it really does matter in the long-run.

Not creepy at all, bro. Keep it up.

Not creepy at all, bro. Keep it up.

The Neon Demon is the kind of movie that will spark discussion about what it means, what it’s trying to say (other than the world of modeling is terrible), or how it ends, which is actually great to have. It seems that a lot of directors and writers don’t have as big of guts as Refn does, when it comes to keeping your audience in the dark about, well, almost everything and being perfectly content with that. Sometimes, the directors/writers feel self-conscious and don’t want to be looked at as “pretentious” or better yet, “mean” – Refn doesn’t care about these labels. Actually, he probably embraces them.

It gives him more time to play around with this already-odd story, vivid characters, and slew of actors who, honestly fit each and every role to a T. Elle Fanning definitely seems to have passed her older sis as the more dominate actress and well, there’s a good reason why: She’s clearly got more versatility. As the very young and satiable Jesse, Fanning does a lot with very little; she seems naive enough to get caught and wrapped-up in the utter sleaze of this world, but we also know that there’s something darker deep down inside of her that makes us think she knows a little more than she lets on. Either way, Fanning has to do a lot here with her performance, that doesn’t necessarily consist of a lot of heavy-lifting, but allowing herself to be plain in most scenes where she isn’t the most colorful character, but then change it all around to proving that she does have a voice and remind us that, yes, she is the lead character in this tale of hers.

The others in the cast are pretty great, too, and do more than just help round out the odd characters. Abbey Lee Kershaw and Bella Heathcote, not only look alike, but are pitch perfect in their roles as two, slightly older models who are struggling to be noticed because of the beautiful Jesse’s presence; Jena Malone plays a make-up artist who seems to have something of a crush on her and it’s a fun role for someone who enjoys playing it straight; Karl Glusman, despite being terrible in Love, actually does well here as the kind of creepy boyfriend; Desmond Harrington shows up as a creepy photographer and is, well, effectively creepy; Christina Hendricks shows up in literally one scene as a scouting agent and is so perfect that I missed her the rest of the movie; and Keanu Reeves, in one of his far better roles as of late, gets a chance to camp it up as a sleazy and perverted hotel manager, always having something funny to say and working perfectly within Refn’s universe.

A possible team-up in the future? Let’s hope, as the world would be a much better place with Refn-Reeves movies.

Consensus: Not totally coherent, the Neon Demon will most likely push a lot of people away, but that’s sort of the point and it’s why Refn’s direction, as scattered as it may be, is consistently interesting, dark, and fun to think about long afterwards.

7.5 / 10

It's a good look on you, Dakota, ehrm, Elle.

It’s a good look on you, Dakota, ehrm, uh, Elle.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

John Wick (2014)

This is what happens when you take the blue pill.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is, seemingly, a simple man who lives a simple life. He has a wife (Bridget Moynahan); lives in a rather large, exquisite house, and always seems to have something to smile about. That is, until his wife tragically passes away and he’s left with nothing but a new life, a big house, a fine-ass car, and basically, nobody to spend time with. But, have no fear, because even though she’s long and gone by now, Mrs. Wick still finds ways to contact her hubby from the dead – but this time, it’s in the form of a small puppy. And Wick can’t say “no” to it and decides to just let the thing roam all around the house and be happy, just as his late wife would have wanted. That all changes though when a group of thugs break into Wick’s house, beat him to a bloody-pulp, steal his ride, and worst of all, kill that lovable pooch. As one would expect, Wick is pissed and starts on his path for revenge.

However, this time around, there’s a bit of a twist: John Wick’s a total and complete bad-ass who, for the past couple of years or so, has just settled down and tried to find a way from that old life of his.

And thus, folks, you have the movie’s synopsis, in a nutshell, no questions asked, no answers guaranteed. Now, with that all said, does it sound like the most conventional, run-of-the-mill action-thriller you’ve ever seen since the first Taken? Oh, you betcha! But sometimes, there’s a certain level of joy to be had in just knowing to expect right from the first glimpse of a trailer, or poster, or photo still, and being totally blind-sided by the fact that, yes, sometimes, movies can surprise the hell out of you by being more than just what they present.

Nature vs. nurture? Aw, who cares! Just kill 'em already, Wick!

Nature vs. nurture? Aw, who cares! Just kill ’em already, Wick!

But that’s not necessarily the case with John Wick, nor is that much of a problem; though the story doesn’t really try to reach deep, or far down into its themes about grief, revenge, or the soulless killing of others, it doesn’t necessarily need to because everything else is working so well. By this, I mean mostly the action-sequences, most of which are exciting, brutal, stylized, and sometimes, so simply put together, that it’s almost refreshing to watch. Because even in the days of the crack-cam, even us the audience can get a bit annoyed by not knowing who is doing what to whom, where at, and what the hell else is going on around them. So many directors of action out there make this mistake (looking at you, Mr. Bay), but neither co-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski are one of them.

Which is not just great for us, the audience watching in our seats, eating our X-Large-sized popcorns, but also great for the rest of the movie because it constantly stays simple, easy, and most of all, fun. Yet, it never forgets that in order for it to fully work, not just as an action film, but as a gritty crime-thriller, it also has to add some tension to the proceedings, which is what happens here. A sequence that takes place all over a nightclub comes to my mind the most apparent; not just for being exciting and stylized, but because it literally felt like it could have gone anywhere, at any second. Though we know John Wick won’t die so early in the film (which is when this sequence takes place), there’s still a feeling going around that he could slip, fall, or not do something properly, and lose his life, therefore, allowing the baddies to prevail.

And then, presumably, sadness would ensue.

But nope, that doesn’t happen and for the rest of the movie, it’s still the same thrill-ride.

Although, I do hesitate to call this movie “great” (as so many critics have been quick to call it), only because I definitely do think there’s some problems with the movie, especially with its plot. There’s maybe, I don’t know, two, possibly three, different endings to this movie that were all satisfying in their own rights, yet, splashed together, feels off. It was almost as if Leitch and Stahelski weren’t confident in the numerous decisions they wrote out, so they decided to pick the best three, film them all, and then decide which one’s the best to go at the end of the film, and what other two will be left for the special features. Except, they decided to keep them all and see what happens.

And, predictably so, it doesn’t work and makes a rather lean, mean hour-and-a-half-movie, seem/feel a lot longer than it should.

However, the fact remains mighty high and clear: The movie’s fun. It’s hard to really have a problem against that when all you ever set out to do with your movie, is exactly the kind of result you get. So, in that aspect, yes, I’m willing to give the movie’s various endings a pass, but I will still not go so far as to call it, the movie John Wick, “great”. It’s still a great time at theaters, but please, don’t get so wrapped up in all the insanely positive press out there.

But, if there is anything to get wrapped up in, concerning the press that this movie’s getting, it’s that Keanu Reeves is back, baby! And this time, he doesn’t care whether he’s old, considered to be “past his prime”, eating all by himself on benches, or that nobody really calls him up anymore – he’s Keanu Reeves dammit, and the dude’s allowed to do what he wants. All that said, Reeves is fine here as Wick. Though people get on Reeeves’ case for his acting-skills (or, lack thereof), the guy has that inherent likability to the way he carries himself that’s hard to have a problem against, let alone despise. He’s just Keanu Reeves, plain and simple. Throw a gun on him, give him some kick-ass moves to perform, and a few cheesy one-liners here and there, and your movie’s fine. Meaning, I’m totally fine with Reeves staging a comeback, so long so as he realizes that his main strengths are in goofy action films such as these.

I'd murder 50 thugs for that little face. I mean, come on, just look at him!

I’d murder 50 thugs for that little face. I mean, come on, just look at him!

Anything more, may be pushing it a tad too much (looking at you, 47 Ronin).

Though Reeves definitely anchors this movie in his own way, the supporting cast definitely deserves some love and praise, mostly because they allow this movie’s sometimes strange script, just totally do the trick and play with its own universe. For instance, there’s an interesting little angle this movie’s story takes in that it gives us a glimpse into this underground world/society of criminals, where they all go to the same places to hang out, drink, sleep, eat, and basically, stand by each other’s rules to not conduct any sort of “business”. Though it’s weird, the movie plays it up so nicely that it’s easy to just fall in line with and accept, rather than be freaked-out by.

Another reason why it’s so easy to accept this angle for what it is, is because the cast of characters this movie has inhabit this little, under-seen world, is chock full of “you name it’s” – Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Michael Nyqvist, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Kevin Nash (yes, Big Daddy Diesel), Clarke Peters, David Patrick Kelly, and an always welcome Ian McShane, all show up, do their thing for as long as they are allowed to, leave their impressions on us, and move on. Probably how it’s best to approach the movie itself; expect to have fun and nothing but.

Move on.

Consensus: By sticking to its gun (literally and figuratively), John Wick is nothing more than what it presents to be seen as – a fun, exciting, if conventional crime-thriller, with a cast full of wild supporting characters, and of course, the always likable, Keanu Reeves.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Yeah. I did that. Whaddup?"

“Yeah. I did that. Whaddup?”

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

47 Ronin (2013)

It’s Keanu and a sword. What else is there to know?

In 18th century Japan, lowly half-blood Kai (Keanu Reeves) sits outside of his village looking in. Nobody respects him, nor cares for him. He’s just there to clean-up messes that are made and to get on with the rest of the society. However, one day, his master is murdered by a rival clan that is looking to expand his empire, which leaves Kai and fellow other samurai’s without much of anywhere to go. Some have died, some have hidden and some, well, mainly one, Kuranosuke Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), have been locked away from society a whole year, only to be brought back into a world that’s changed a lot since imprisonment. Oishi doesn’t like all of this change and realizes that it’s time to get the old gang back together, even if that means tracking down Kai and bringing him along. Well, it’s a smart move on Oishi’s part as Kai is now a very-skilled fighter, and also, just so happens to know who this evil clan-leader is, and where he’s located. Altogether, Kai, Oishi and the rest of the samurai’s set out for revenge, even if that revenge does mean death, regardless of whether it’s successful or not. Is it at all worth it? Well, the honor-system of the Ronin says so, so they must!

A samurai movie starring Keanu Reeves being released on Christmas: How do you think it’s going to do? Well, for starters, the movie will most likely bomb, bomb, bomb itself away into an oblivion, but that doesn’t get in the way of me at least enjoying a little B-movie fun, right?

You can trust Keanu to save the day. He knows "The Way of the Blade". Or something like that. I don't know!

You can trust Keanu to save the day. He knows “The Way of the Blade”. Or something like that. I don’t know!

Nope, not at all. But do you know what does? Something dull, lifeless and as Americanized as this. And yet, I didn’t hate it. Here’s why:

The problem that most seem to be having with this movie is that it doesn’t take itself as nutty as it should. Those people are absolutely right, but when the movie does actually show some signs of rare-craziness, it’s a whole bunch of fun and makes you wonder what the movie would be like if it was rated-R, rather than the soft, rather safe PG-13. There’s slivering CGI dragons; telepathic monks that have the ability to move at-a-mile-a-second; some huge, gargoyle-looking beast; and a seven-foot-tall-plus samurai warrior draped in all sorts of iron that knows a thing or two about a wrecking ball. Need I say more about this movie’s strangeness? I think not, and in those very rare moments the movie accepts what it is, it’s a whole bunch of fun, even if you don’t see it in 3-D.

That’s why when the movie does seem to take itself so damn seriously, and try to throw a historical-lesson on us, it feels like a wasted-opportunity of something really wacky and over-the-top. Rather than giving us a samurai movie in which Keanu is running all-over-the-place, saying dumb things, and hacking up every person he meets, we just see him show up, speak about “The Way of the Ronin” and then leave, ultimately letting others steal the spotlight from him. I’m not totally against this approach, considering that this is a Japanese-set movie about something that actually did happen with real-life, actual people of Japanese-decent, but it sucks so much fun out of what could have been. And by “what could have been”, I mean something that could have really been just all-out, balls-crazy in its own-self. But somehow, through someway, first-time director Carl Rinsch plays it relatively easy and never knowing whether he wants to be goofy, epic, action-y, loud, proud, philosophical, or all of the above.

It’s a strange mixture that never quite figures itself out. Maybe that’s why I didn’t hate it as much since there was always something odd the movie was doing next. I mean, for lord’s sake, I actually didn’t mind something as plain and simple as R.I.P.D., so you definitely know that this wasn’t going to be a total dread for me to watch. It just wasn’t, as expected, anything special or anything that I’ll remember ten, twenty, thirty, hell, even fifty years from now. However, do you know what I will remember? A Keanu Reeves-starring samurai flick that may have not been perfect, or even all that memorable, but I still had a painless time with. That so rarely often happens to me with a flick, and it happened to me here, so I have to say: I’m feeling alright, and that’s good enough for me.

As for all of you out there, if you want to see this, then I say go for it. Just don’t expect it to be like those old-school, kung-fu movies from the 70’s in which a bunch of people yelp, scream and chop each other’s heads off with a bunch of blood spurting out everywhere. Just expect something as odd and as weird that only Keanu Reeves would actually do, and there you go. You got your movie!

Yeah, they existed.

Yeah, they existed.

Speaking of Keanu, as much as he tries here, he feels terribly out-of-place. Which, yes, makes sense considering that he’s a half-breed of an British man and a Japanese woman. But I mean it more so in the way that he literally feels like he’s in another movie where everyone is placed into this ancient-war epic, and then, out of nowhere, Keanu seems to stumble upon the wrong set, mumbling whatever nonsense he has to say, and then walking off, letting whomever it was that was doing their job, continue to do so, without anymore interruptions at all. And, with this talented, Japanese-cast, it’s not all that bad; even if it is a bit strange that this is a historical-story set in Japan, featuring mainly all Japanese actors, and has them all speak English, with barely any subtitles involved. It’s strange to watch and in ways, very distracting considering you may be wondering what the hell it is that some people are saying at times, but the cast do what they can with what they’re given, especially Keanu. Poor, poor Keanu. The guy can kick ass like anybody’s favorite weirdo superhero, but here, he just feels odd. That’s more of the movie’s problem then his own, so I won’t be so mean to him. Because we all know what Keanu looks like when people get him all upset and bothered. Poor buddy.

Also, be on the lookout for a Gedde Watanabe sighting! Or, better yet, be on the lookout for a “Long Duk Dong” sighting!

Consensus: May not be the movie you’ll remember come next year, or any year for that matter, 47 Ronin is still passable enough as a piece of fluff entertainment that gives its core-audience enough sword-wielding fun and action, with some other neat treats in between, that’s fine for what it is, even if it could have been so, so, so much more had it played itself a little less seriously.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Will the real Ronins please stand up? Yeah, I'm talking to you in the front!

Will the real Ronins please stand up? Yeah, I’m talking to yous in the front!

Photo’s Credit to:

Constantine (2005)

Cigarettes are the devil.

John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) was born with a gift that gave him the ability to recognise the half-breed angels and demons that walk the earth in human camouflage. It’s not something he wanted, but it was the hand he was dealt, so there’s not much else he can do with it other than drive the demons off of this Earth from hurting humans, and just smoke his life away. He seems pretty content on spending the rest of his days like this, that is all until police detective Angela Dodson’s (Rachel Weisz) twin-sister jumps off of a balcony, plummeting to her death. However, right before she decided to go sidewalk-diving, she apparently turned to the security-camera watching her uttering his name. Dodson knows that there’s something more powerful going on here than just a sudden burst of suicidal thoughts, so she decides to ring Constantine up, despite his best wishes to, once again, be left alone to smoke and fight evil for the rest of his days. But now, Constantine realizes there may be a way to save Dodson’s sister’s life, even if that does mean putting himself clearly in harms way.

A lot of people have made a stink about this movie and the choice in which Keanu Reeves was to play the titular character of the famous comics, John Constantine. While I have never read the comics, meaning I don’t have much of an opinion as if he perfectly solidifies this character or not, it doesn’t matter because Keanu Reeves, no matter what bad stuff you may hear about him, is STILL a movie star, and can take any piece of material, find a way to make it interesting and be able to get people to watch him do what it is that he’s doing, despite us all knowing he’s not-that good of an actor. That’s the reality of it, but we should all just get by that right now and move on. Shall we?

Hey, at least she didn't leave Darren Aronofsky for THIS co-star of hers.

Hey, at least she didn’t leave Darren Aronofsky for THIS co-star of hers.

Anyway, what this movie does do well is that it sets its story up with a unique tone. Seeing this movie and material from afar, some would probably bet this to be an overly-serious, religious-themed thriller that’s all about demons, gods, angels and all sorts of other biblical references to where you feel like you’re back in Sunday School, but the movie has a little bit of fun with itself, right before it dives right into that cheesiness. Constantine’s played-up more as an anti-hero that always has something nifty to say, has his pack of smokes handy and basically knows what it is that he has to do next, at any given time. The movie sets us up with this cool-as-molasses character right away, gives us a tone that’s at times goofy, but darkly so, and has us feel like if the rest of the movie continues on like this, we may just have ourselves a clear-defined winner of religious-themed, action-thrillers, among the other religious-themed, action-thrillers (of which there are many, I think).

However, about half-way through, once the real bulk of this story gets introduced to us, things begin to slowly go downhill. For starters, the movie is over two-hours long, which already gives you the impression that no matter what it is that this flick does with its story, it must do it quick and easy, just so it doesn’t feel like a three-hour epic along the likes of Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments (and yes, I know those two are way, WAY longer than just “two-hours”). But needless to say, despite him having a clear-eye for what it is that he wants to tell us about this story and this main character, director Francis Lawrence still can’t seem to get himself away from all of the constant-exposition that usually brings these types of movies to a screeching-halt.

With a story of this matter, it’s not like you don’t need to know the ins, the outs and whereabouts of when Satan was born, how, where and why he matters now, it’s just that there is a more efficient way to tell that, among many other parts of the story, without having it seem like a total snooze-fest that’s so repetitive, you don’t even care if it makes sense or not. Instead, you just want to see this Constantine guy put his feet into water, grab a cat, start meditating and all of a sudden, be thrown into this dark after-world, where all he does is battle demons. Yes, that scene does happen and it’s pretty cool, but it’s in the middle of non-stop dialogue-heavy scenes where people just use a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, that can easily get passed off as “religious”.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, I say!

As we all know though, once the middle-half of a movie goes by and we feel as if we’ve been more-than introduced to this story and the characters that inhabit it, then things begin to get fun, and that’s the truth with this flick. While it does get really goofy and cheesy by the end with all of the CGI, the movie still kept me entertained and feeling as if I was just watching a piece of science-fiction, rather than something that was supposed to have a deeper-meaning because it used biblical-figures like Gabriel or Lucifer himself (perfectly given the nickname of “Lou”; whatta cool guy). Some may be enraged by me saying something like that, but it helped me get through the movie a lot easier. So crucify me if you must, but I was just trying to make the pill go down easier.

"Did I hear somebody talking about 'a machinehead'?"

“Did I hear somebody talking about ‘a machinehead’?”

And yes, I did use a “pill joke” there because Keanu stars in this and yes, he is like I said before: Stiff, tired and dull, but he’s still fun to watch. He makes Constantine the type of witty bad-ass a movie of this nature needs to move along and survive by, and without him, I don’t really know who else I could see doing it. Maybe if I read the comics I would know, but for right now, it seems like Neo was a pretty solid choice in the first place. Rachel Weisz, despite her credible acting-abilities, is sort of left without much to do other than work-off of the blank piece-of-paper that is Keanu Reeves’ screen-presence, but she makes it interesting enough, to say the least. Still though, this would be released in the same year that she won her Oscar, so I guess all was forgiven after awhile.

As okay as these two are in the lead roles, they’re sort of given the standard-roles where all they have to do is all act all plain and simple, amongst all of their crazy, bat-shit surroundings, which doesn’t just limit itself to the atmosphere and the story, but the fun and energetic supporting cast as well. Shia LaBeouf gets his first, real taste in mainstream cinema as Constantine’s lacky and shows that he has the ability to be charming and a bit annoying at the same time, but rightfully so; Djimon Hounsou plays a strange, voodoo-like conjurer called Papa Midnite, who doesn’t take sides between the angels and the demons, yet, sees himself leaning more towards the demons, just because the plot needs him to do so; Gavin Rossdale is charming as the cunning Balthazar, showing us that in the year 2005, he was still staying relevant by doing this and Gwen Stefani at the same time (bastard); Tilda Swinton shows up early on as the angel Gabriel, and isn’t heard from in quite awhile, until she shows up later and does what she does best; and Peter Stormare plays the infamous Lou, giving him all the likable, but evil charm we’d expect to see when Peter Stormare is playing the man also known as Satan himself. If that isn’t what the devil’s really like, then I have no clue what a better personification truly is!

Consensus: Juggles itself around with being overtly-serious at certain times, and campy-but-fun at others, but at the end of the day, Constantine is just a fun, cool-looking and feeling religious-themed action-thriller that somehow benefits from the deadly-charm of Keanu Reeves and the rest of his able cast.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!



Photo’s Credit to:

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Sinister (2012)

If you hear a bump in the night, don’t worry, it’s just the ghosts of the murdered family who once lived in your house.

The premise puts Ethan Hawke in the shoes of a true-crime novelist struggling to find his next big story. He moves into the home of a recently murdered family and discovers a box of home video footage that might reveal exactly what happened to them.

Why any certain interest has sparked up in me about seeing this flick is for one reason and one reason only: the co-writer himself, C. Robert Cargill. Okay, most of you who see that name probably have no idea who the hell I’m talking about and wondering what all of the hype around him is, and that’s fine because this guy is making his writing debut with this movie. The reason why I care about him so much is because most people out there, probably know him by the name of Carlyle from Spill.Com, as I did, and because of that, he has remained an inspiration for me and my movie-review wring ever since I first stumbled upon those guys’ site. However, now that Cargill is outta there and in the big-leagues, it’s finally his time to shine and show everybody why he loves watching shitty movies as much as he does and thankfully, the guy somewhat capitalizes on that idea.

The one element of this film that sort of killed my hype for it was the fact that it’s directed by Scott Derrickson, aka, the guy who remade The Day the Earth Stood Still over 4 years ago and gave us Keanu Reeves’ most boring performance to-date. Seriously, when you have Neo practically falling asleep in a movie, you know that’s bad! Anywho, that’s why this movie was a very mixed-bag for me going in but surprisingly, Derrickson actually does a nice job with this material and gives it that old-school, horror vibe we all love so much, especially around this time of the year.

Everything starts off very slow, in an almost melodic sense of pacing, until it starts to show us tiny bits of terror and freakishness starting to happen, and that’s where the dread and the fun of this movie start to hit. Most people will probably be wondering if this is your typical horror movie, with jump-scares and moments of silence, that all of a sudden get one big “boo!” at the end, and it sort of is like that type of horror movie but with a more effective use of it’s scares. The scares here, although timed, do not feel cheap one-bit and may actually catch you off-guard a couple of times to when, where, and how they get you. I never like jump-scares, quite frankly, and it’s not because they actually scare me but because they just feel like an over-used way of making people jump when manipulate the sound too much and honestly, who likes to be manipulated? Especially when you’re watching a horror movie? But, even though they do use a couple of jump-scares here and there, it still feels deserved and still does a nice job at putting me into this atmosphere where nothing seems to ever go right.

However, as much fun and freaky this horror movie may be, it still never seems to really branch-out of the typical horror-conventions, and be it’s own, original-self. Even though Cargill does seem like he’s playing around with the conventions of the horror movie a bit, he never seems to be able to fully let himself go and instead, a lot of dumb and silly things happen over the course of the film that may make this come off as a bit unintentionally goofy in it’s own way. There’s a random scene with a dog that only seems to be in there for a scene of tension and suspense, but doesn’t offer anything new; the ghosts here are portrayed in a really goofy-way that’s more funny to point and laugh at, than to actually be running away from, had you have to deal with them in real-life; and then there’s the actual monster himself, Mr. Boogie, or whatever the hell they call him, that really disappointed me.

All of the hype around this movie, is mainly because of that one scary image of the main ghost-like monster of the whole movie. Seriously, it’s so eye-catching that it even has it’s own poster just dedicated to it (look to the top-right), and whenever you even see him in these little, short shots in the film, he’s pretty scary and makes you very curious as to what the hell it is. Is it a man? Is it a killer? Is it a monster? Is it a ghost? Is it a piece of Hawke’s imagination? We never know and I liked that about this film, but what really made me feel like they dropped the ball with this monster-like character, was when they eventually get on to showing him in the movie more and more, and for longer periods of time, where he just starts to get goofy after awhile. I was scared at first when they would show it for a couple of a seconds on-screen, but then they start to over-show him that makes him resemble the WWE wrestler Kane, with a slightly more, effed-up mask for a face. That bummed me out because he started off so scary, but after awhile, all those shrieks and scares just begin to go away and turn to laughter.

No matter how silly or stupid this film begins to get, Ethan Hawke never, ever seems to lose his belief in what he’s doing here as Ellison, the writer that seems to get himself caught-up a bit too much in his own work. Hawke has never done a horror movie role before and it’s a surprise because the guy actually makes all of his scared/terrified looks seem real enough to actually have us believe why this guy still does the stupid things he sometimes does. However, Ellison isn’t a perfectly lovable character: he lies, he drinks way too much, he continues to stay in a house that obviously means huge-harm to him and his family, and manipulates a cop into being his buddy, in order to get info out of him. These all sound like perfect ingredients for the perfect, dick-head character but for some reason, due to Hawke’s charm, we believe in him, we root for him, and we actually like him when it’s all said and done. He’s a flawed dude, no doubt about it, but then again, aren’t we all?

Consensus: With a great sense of dread, fun, and suspense to it, Sinister comes off as being a better horror flick than what we are used to seeing, but still doesn’t fall short of being a little silly here and there, or by falling for the typical conventions we are used to seeing with horror movies in today’s world.


River’s Edge (1986)

Those damn Metal head stoners are always killing those girls for no reason.

A troubled high school slacker, Samson (Daniel Roebuck), kills his girlfriend for no particular reason and shows off her dead body to his friends Layne (Crispin Glover) and Matt (Keanu Reeves), whose reactions vary about whether to involve the police.

After watching ‘Bully’ a long long time ago, I realized that there were more stories like that one out there, and it soon started to make me realize something: Teens love to kill people.

Writer Neal Jimenez does a very good job at showing these kids as none other than complete alienated misfits, that don’t really have any effect from a murder of one of their own friends. You get the real idea that these kids have no idea what to do or even think after this shocking murder has just happened, and it seems like they also don’t even really care. This is a little shocking no matter how many years go by, but that can’t be said about the rest of the film.

Even though this film starts off very strong, it really starts to fall apart pretty easily. The plot goes into places that seem totally ridiculous because of actually focusing on this disturbing story at hand, we start to go into a pretty cheesy teen-romance, a 12 year-old (who is terribly annoying) looking for a gun, Crispin Glover running all-over-the-place talking like a mental patient, and Dennis Hopper talking about a blow-up sex-doll as if it has been his wife for the past 30 years. I’m all down for a little bit of creepiness here and there but the real story at hand, seemed so much more interesting than what any of these little annoying sub-plots or happenings even showed.

The gritty look of it has something to be admired, but many times I felt like the film could have been so much better with it’s real portrayal of these punk kids in a suburban town. These kids don’t give a damn at all, which was understood by about the 20-minute mark, but to have the whole film go on and not shed any light on the murder, why it happened, and what these kids are going to do to get by it, seemed pretty dumb to me. These kids are alienated from the rest of the world around them, I get it, but please show me something that can actually glue me into the story rather than just drag me along.

However, when I looked down on everything, I thought about the cast and that’s kind of when I eased up a bit since there are some real good performances here. Keanu Reeves plays his usual dumb-ass role here as Matt, but he does a great job with this character and gives a lot of his more emotional scenes, a believability that this character needed to actually work. Ione Sky is alright as Clarissa but I never understood why she’s so remarkable as a female character; Daniel Roebuck is a little weird as our killer for the hour and 39 minutes, John; and Dennis Hopper is great as Feck, this total nutty drug-dealer that holds on to a blow-up doll like I mentioned before, but the catch here is that he’s the good guy in this whole film.

The best performance from the whole cast is probably the one and only Crispin Glover as Layne, the total speed-freak that takes this whole film over with every scene he gets. Glover does a great job with this character because he’s doped out on his pills and weirdness that when it comes down to something real and dramatic like this murder, he doesn’t know what to do and panics every chance he has. Glover is perfect at creating this character that’s a little nutty, mean, raw, but also very emotionally attached to the world around him and was my favorite thing about this film.

Consensus: River’s Edge has some nice bleak touches on teenage society that may seem disturbing to most, but as the film transcends, it turns into this ludicrous, silly, and otherwise lame way of trying to get an interesting story out there that should have been more gripping. Check out ‘Bully’ instead.


Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Being Jack Nicholson has to be awesome.

Sixty and still sexy, Harry (Jack Nicholson) is having the time of his life, wining, dining and bedding women half his age. When he agrees to go to the Hamptons with his girlfriend (Amanda Peet), plans go awry when her playwright mother, Erica (Diane Keaton), stops in unannounced. While the living arrangements are awkward at first, Harry soon discovers there’s nothing wrong with — and plenty good about — acting your age.

Writer/director Nancy Meyers is known for her usual, old-school rom-coms such as It’s Complicated, The Parent Trap, and What Women Want among others. Out of all of those ones I’ve seen, none have really been amazing but still fun which isn’t something I could say for a lot of other rom-coms that come out just about every Friday.

The film has a good balance of comedy and drama which starts off very well in the beginning of the film. It’s more a comedy of manners, where people say certain goofy things, they wouldn’t normally say so there is that sort of nervous laughter thing going on but it still works and actually had me laughing.

The romance aspect of this film also works well too because it actually has a little sweet tone to it, that is even better because of the smooth pace this film is given. However, the whole charm and sweetness of this film doesn’t run on forever, and soon starts to fall down the “cheesiness-ladder” quicker and quicker than I expected. There are moments that feel way too over-dramatic, which is something I expected from this chick-flick but come on, it got to be a little too much at points.

There is a scene where these two have sex and after wards they both start to cry, which at first, I laughed because I thought the film was doing a joke or trying to be humorous, until I realized that the film was serious when it showed these two grown-ups crying after a little session of doing the dirty. This had me unintentionally laughing as well as the ending, which feels way too over dramatic and heavy when it’s compared to the beginning and how this film first started off.

It also looks as if it was made on the same set as those really cheesy and lame soap commercials where they show somebody just running down the beach with their “man”. This wasn’t a total bother, I could just tell that the whole set was a little too bright for me and I found it a little hoaky to begin with.

When it comes down to it though, Jack & Diane can act. Jack Nicholson is the total man as Harry Sanborn, this old playboy who doesn’t date over 30. He’s the man in this role and almost every line is just totally charming because it has him saying the lines. I don’t even think he really needed an audition, he just got the part as soon as he said yes. Diane Keaton is also very good as Erica Barry, a woman who hasn’t been in “the game” for quite some time and is brought back into it by Harry. Her performance is also great because she finds a way to balance out that cuteness, hilarity, and that endearing real soul behind her character and shows that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still be a fine and sexy lady. Their chemistry is great and it’s just total fun to see these two together on-screen.

Consensus: Something’s Gotta Give has two great performances from Nicholson and Keaton, as well as some funny and sweet moments, but feels overly dramatic and has scenes here that may seem unintentionally funny, depending on how you look at them


The Descendants (2011)

Who would ever want to cheat on Clooney?

Matt King (George Clooney), the trustee of his family’s ancestral land in Hawaii, tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a serious boating accident and falls into a coma.Under pressure from different factions to sell the land, he belatedly learns a disturbing secret about his wife.

Director and writer Alexander Payne hasn’t been around since 2004 with ‘Sideways’ and it took him awhile to see what he was going to choose next. Thankfully it was this one.

This film reminded me of Payne’s earlier film, ‘About Schmidt‘ because it had some very funny times where I laughed that were also under-lined with real heart-wrenching moments as well. The humor here is a lot more dry and sarcastic, rather than being straight-up in-your-face about it, but either way worked because it had me laughing just about every time without ever feeling forced.

Where the film really works is where it gets emotional and shows real heart in how it handles each and every situation this film goes through. Moments and situations that you think are going to go one way, end up happening a completely different way then you imagined and the way Payne makes us feel something not only for these characters, but this story as well is where the film really worked.

Life is very unpredictable and it can sometimes be very messy, but for this Matt King guy, it seems like his life is really at a loss. However, the plot itself doesn’t feel like a major let-down and instead of hammering us over the head with constant mushy moments that would seem forced in many other films, it goes for the subtle realism that comes in anybody’s life and Payne always reminds us that it’s not just how we act about ourselves, but also with each other. It’s better to be there for one another, rather than not being there at all and I think that’s what this film really did a good job with trying to convey.

My main problem with this film is that I feel like the whole angle where Matt is stuck in this huge-ass sale of his ancestor’s land was just annoying, and kind of got in the way of the actual dilemma at hand. With this sub-plot, the film was trying to show us how Matt is in a more conflicting moment in his life and how he has all of this pressure on his back of basically getting rid of his whole family history, which to me seemed way to obvious and unneeded considering Matt is already finding himself with his family. I think without this sub-plot the film would have been a lot more easier to feel emotion for but instead it just adds on another idea that was not needed.

I also had a problem with the pacing because I really did feel as if it was a little bit too much of a languid pace for me. There were moments where this film really seemed like it was picking up some steam, and then there were times where it just dragged on to show us something about this character that I didn’t feel was needed and more of Payne just giving us moments of silence rather than characters actually talking.

George Clooney gives a great performance as Matt King, and it’s almost to a point where it’s too hard to tell a good Clooney performance from a bad Clooney performance. Here as King, he down-plays his natural charisma but he still has moments where he show that charm that makes him so damn likable in the first place, which makes the comedy work even more when he’s being a tad goofy. There are also many emotional scenes where Clooney is supposed to show his grief and pain through his facial expressions and I think it really works well and I think Clooney was a very good choice for this role.

As with ‘Up in the Air’, Clooney is given another young-actress to accompany him throughout the whole film and almost up-stage him here with Shailene Woodley in a great role as the rebellious daughter, Alexandra. She is mean, angry, and a little bothered by her dad but still has enough love and sympathy for him where she can ease up and realize that their whole family is going through a hard time. Nick Krause plays her boyfriend, Sid, who reminds me of a younger Keanu Reeves but in a good way; Beau Bridges is funny and really cool as cousin Hugh; Robert Forster plays the King’s father-in-law and boy did he get old, but he’s still good; and Judy Greer is awesome here as King’s wife’s boyfriend’s wife. I know that was a pretty long one but hey, I tried to make sense.

Speaking of King’s wife’s boyfriend, he is played a face that nobody has seen in quite a long time, a guy by the name of Matthew Lillard. Yes, Shaggy from Scooby-Doo is a person that some chick would rather bone than George Clooney. I think this casting was awesome because Lillard is actually very good and shows a lot of range as a dramatic actor and it’s just such a surprise to see how old this guy looks now as well. His character is also fleshed-out very well as is every other character in this film and I think that’s why this film really works in the end, because nobody is a caricature. They are all real people and all have real feelings, even if they may be a little bit messed up.

Consensus: The Descendants has problems with it’s languid pacing but is very sweet, emotional, and rich in character development where it shows how people deal with grief and the unpredictability of life. Not my favorite film of the year but a very good one that I’m glad to see that Alexander Payne wrote and directed.


Point Break (1991)

Surfers that rob banks.

To nab the culprits behind a string of bank heists, brash young G-man Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) poses as a wave rider to infiltrate a group of surfers who may have pulled off the robberies in this high-speed cult favorite. But after gaining the trust of the gang’s charismatic leader (Patrick Swayze), Utah gets swept up in their heady lifestyle — and is soon forced to decide where his loyalties lie. Gary Busey plays Utah’s testy partner.

That premise right there makes this film seem like a parody of itself and one that isn’t to be taken too seriously at all. But after two viewings already, this guilty pleasure never stops to entertain.

I might just have to point it out right now because in case you couldn’t tell already but this film is pretty cheesy. The dialogue here is all that macho, hammy bullshit that we hear in plenty of film’s that just drip with cheese and a lot of the time you’ll actually find yourself laughing at parts you really aren’t supposed to.

I mean for a second let’s think about this for a second, there’s this cop named Johnny Utah who basically learns how to surf, within a day. I don’t understand that one and neither do I understand the idea of the masks for the bank robberies considering you probably can’t see too well with them on anyway. I don’t know little stuff like that was pretty dumb but I think after you read the premise you’ll come to expect that already.

However, if you can get past all of that, this is a bangin’ film for many reasons, but the main one being director Kathryn Bigelow, who is yes, a chick. Bigelow knows how to film action the right way because she gives a lot of great scenes that are full of tension, style, and just overall bad-assness. I still don’t know what to call this; either a heist film, action movie, or a thriller, but if you look at it, you can also call it the first “extreme sports” movie that was ever made really.

There’s a couple of cool action sequences such as a chase scene through the under-belly of L.A. which was pretty cool, two awesome skydiving sequences, and a shoot-out scene that really has nothing to do with the plot, but still awesome. The action here is all-over-the-place but at the same time totally awesome because even though the dialogue and script may be terrible, the action will hold you over by how intense and stylish it looks.

Now when it comes to the acting it’s pretty good because the two lead actors they have here are just so cheesy, that it’s actually awesome. Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah (seriously?) and does his usual act where he says all of his lines with that “I don’t really know how to read my lines” voice, and that total over-play of some pretty bad jokes. However, I don’t really think Keanu is a bad actor because the one thing I will say about him is that even though he isn’t good by any real means, he still hasn’t gone around saying how good he is, or how he deserves an Oscar so badly. So for the most part, Keanu isn’t that bad here and he’s not really bad overall, just lame.

Patrick Swayze is always amazing in everything he does and he plays the surfer guru named Bodhi. Swayze just dreaps with coolness and honestly it may seem like I’m totally over-exaggerating a role about a surfer dude but Swayze plays him so well and has us love him but at the same time not know if we can actually trust him. As always, Swayze never stops to impress. Let’s also not forget that we have Gary Busey trying to play the steady FBI agent to Reeves’ wild-cat persona. It’s not that believable but Busey just fun to watch here and really made me laugh at times I didn’t expect to.

Consensus: The script is pretty horrendous and has it’s fair share of cheap, dumb lines, but the action is awesome, the story gets more fresh as it goes along, and the acting is actually pretty good for what it’s worth eventually adding up to a great guy’s movie directed by a woman.


A Scanner Darkly (2006)

One of the trippiest movies, about tripping.

Working as an undercover cop in a world where almost everyone is addicted to Substance D — a drug that produces split personalities in its users — Fred Arctor (Keanu Reeves) sets up an elaborate sting to nab a notorious drug runner named Bob. Little does Fred know that “Bob” is his alter ego.

This is not the most easily accessible material I have seen on screen, sometimes there are moments, where we don’t know what the hell is going on, and hell I don’t think the characters do as well, but that’s the whole point of it.

Drugs create illusions in your mind, and it gets so deep into your mind, that soon your just all caught up in it, and you don’t know what’s real, or fiction. This film does a great job of showing how that can affect you, as well as the others around you. You create these ideas in your head, and then you just get paranoid all around, and you can’t control it, cause it has taken over your mind, body, and soul. Then you, know there’s no actual way of turning back.

People criticize director Richard Linklater, cause they say he wasn’t the best suit for this material, but in all honesty, I think he does the best job of keeping this stuff alive. The crazy-ass visuals, may seem like a gimmick at first, but then you start to notice it actually goes along with the film, because it shows you how consumed these people are with the drugs, and the visuals it creates in your mind. I also really did like the script and thought as weird, crazy, and insane as they were, all of them were interesting. You hear these people talk about the craziest crap ever, and you don’t know whether to laugh, or be sad that some people are this far into drugs that they would talk like this, but in reality these are how people talk, especially when they are totally under the influence.

The problem with this film was that i felt the constant political messages, got way too out of hand, especially by that lackluster ending. I wish more of the message was pointed at the drugs, instead of crappy political satire that doesn’t work. There is scene where a former cop harangues people in a street about the war on drugs being itself the real problem. I honestly believe that one in 3 criminal justice professionals already recognize this truth. Drug abuse is a public health issue and should be taken out of criminal justice. That will not happen for the simple reason that market for selling and fighting drugs are both too profitable.

Keanu Reeves is good in this lead role. He doesn’t get too Johnny Utah-like for me, yet he doesn’t get too Neo-y for me either, he’s just the dude that the film revolves around. Winona Ryder surprisingly brings a lot to her role, providing enough details of cool, sexiness, and charm, that had us loving her in the beginning. Woody Harrelson is also in this, playing himself I would presume, basically the guy is always high. But the best here is Robert Downey Jr., who’s character is so taken back by the drugs, that the wildest things, come out of his mind, but he does it so well, that it’s actually believable to the fact that he’s just too real to be true.

Consensus: A Scanner Darkly may rely too much on one message, when it should have on another, but the direction is solid, with the trippy visuals, actually doing a lot for the story, as well as the wonderful acting from the cast.


The Matrix (1999)

Reason why I don’t take pills, or trust guys that wear sunglasses indoors.

In this complex story that aspires to mythology, a computer hacker (Keanu Reeves) searches for the truth behind the mysterious force known as the Matrix. He finds his answer with a group of strangers led by the charismatic Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).

This movie is someting of a sci-fi classic. It features so many great special effects that look so unreal at points that you don’t even know how they did it, even until this day. The Wachowski Brothers really make something extraordinary here by blending all these different kinds of gneres together. There is all this cyber-punk stuff going down, mixed with Bruce Lee kung-fu action fighting, and a little bit of noir mixed with a scene of spaghetti western here.

The way that the special effects are used are so beautiful in the way they look. Wachowski Brothers pretty much just use about anything from models, to cuts, to name well they used it and all of basically works here. I mean they took almost every 20th century sc-fi material they could get and just make such a run for it, its wonderful.

The Wachowski Brothers make a very good attempt at saying something that we have seen many times before, but never like this. That is if reality is just something we are living in our minds and if so how do we run away from the dream to make it real. I give them major props for trying to say something here but it’s kind of a let-down with its story and pay-off. That’s why sometimes I felt the script could have been so much better than what it actually was, because so many bad lines are thrown out, I just had to laugh at times.

The action scenes in this are highly exceptional and were probably the best parts of the film. The fight scenes are filmed in such a way with stunts that happen so out there that even though there hard to believe there still very awesome. Wachowski Brothers film the scenes by using all these different cuts and showing the action as it happens rather than just having one scene and go back and forth to another.

Say what you will about Keanu and how much of a terrible actor he is, but he was born to play Neo. He is so cheesy with his confused act and ultra-cheesy one liners that its hard not to see him as The Chosen One, cause he handles it so well. Laurence Fishburne here is great as Morpheus as the one leader who never loses his patience and mind no matter how much crap is going down. Hugo Weaving gives a very sinister performance here as Agent Smith who is engagingly odd, and plays one of the best and most unusual villains of all-time.

Consensus: The Matrix has all the great things a sc-fi film needs with beautiful cinematography, awesome and exciting action, and good performances from the cast, even if the screenplay does seem a bit of a let down.

9/10=Full Price!!!

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

I feel like I’ve been watching a bit too much Van Sant.

Gus Van Sant’s indie hit hones in on the friendship between Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves), two hustlers living on the streets of gritty Portland, whose relationship stumbles when they hit the road to find Mike’s mother, and Scott falls for a woman. Scott’s lifestyle is his way of embarrassing his rich, oppressive father, while Mike is a narcoleptic who’s in love with Scott but maintains he’s straight.

Gus Van Sant is known for making great portrait at how the human emotions all work. However, with this one he really digs into just the emotions of these two and how they feel, even when one is narcoleptic.

The gritty look is what makes this film legit. These are two hustlers living on the streets, and getting money from clients that are even dirtier. I found myself memorized by how this gritty look wasn’t just realistic, but actually made me feel like I was with them when filming was going on.

My Own Private Idaho is a lot of things, and one of them is a comedy. Van Sant has a sly off-beat sense of humor. They use this ability with its timing, in order to frame a dramatic scene so that its not only seen as serious but sometimes strangely funny and odd. There are little elements of dark humor, as with Phoenix’s’ character is always falling asleep throughout the whole film.

This film is also a lot more complicating than others of this nature. It moves at a very slow pace, and never really picks up steam with its character flow. They talk constantly, and also River whenever he does it is only for a short amount of time, cause then he falls right back asleep. I also felt like these characters needed more explanation as well as the decisions. I wanted to know these characters more and more, but was never really given that opportunity since we just find out that they are only hustlers.

The characters also have a willingness to live and be free with themselves. We can feel that not just every scene is divided into the points that had to be made, instead they are made as in a way that they feel like their living, and basically doing nothing. Most scenes went on longer than we expected, and I liked that cause really that’s what happens in life.

River Phoenix gives the greatest performance of his sad and short career. He plays this character with such more depth than what he was given and there are just a countless number of scenes that make me so upset knowing that he had such great talent, and sadly that is all thrown away. Keanu Reeves probably gives one of his greatest performances of all-time too, and builds that beautiful chemistry he and Phoenix build together on film so beautifully.

Consensus: Though it may be very challenging for some, My Own Private Idaho is well-directed, superbly acted, and gives us a realistic and look into the mind, body, and soul of these two characters.


Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Crazy times with Shakespeare.

Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson star as Benedick and Beatrice, two marriage-phobic rivals in Florence, Italy, in a lively plot involving complications, pranks and peerless wordplay. This must be Shakespeare! Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) try to hook up the two B’s despite tenacious resistance.

Personally I don’t really care that much for Shakespeare adaptations, and to be truly honest I find them to be very boring and bland, but not this one.

Branagh directs this film as well and shows that he can really direct a film, and well. He has such a love for these stories of all these characters, and it really does come out onto the screen. I also found this to be actually a lot more exuberant than other adaptations, and adding a lot more energy to bland comedies can really work, if given the right direction.

Much Ado doesn’t really ever have a upset face throughout, I found it a lot more cheerful than I would’ve expected. I don’t think you have to like Shakespeare a lot to really like this film, but if you are not familiar with the old English language than this may be a bit of a stretch.

The problems I had with this film was that it just wasn’t too compelling or attaching for me. Although I did like the comedy in this film, I didn’t really find myself laughing as much cause I just felt that Branagh’s way of directing was just to make this film as goofy as can be. Though the performances are good I just felt like these actors were just saying these words and I didn’t quite believe these characters as much as I thought I would.

Branagh creates a perfect ensemble, though some fall short from others. Branagh goes out on a limb casting stars that aren’t well known Shakespeareans, but they do well anyway. Emma Thompson and Branagh actually do have great chemistry in this film and it actually does feel real, probably because at this time they were married. But I really didn’t understand the casting of Keanu Reeves and Michael Keaton. Reeves is cheesing it up as usual and doesn’t add anything to this film, other than cheap one-liners, and Keaton’s character I don’t think was even needed, and what did he actually do for this story anyway?

Consensus: Branagh’s great love for this story mixed with some great set pieces make Much Ado lovable, but just some of it seems to silly and not very interesting as a whole.


The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

Al Pacino is the devil and Keanu Reeves is his son. Yeah Right!!

When charismatic lawyer John Milton (Al Pacino) recruits the successful young attorney Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) to his high-powered Manhattan firm, both Kevin and his wife (Charlize Theron) find life on Park Avenue seductive. That is, until strange things begin to happen. By the time the pair begins questioning John’s plans and who– or what — Kevin actually works for, it might be too late.

The Devil’s Advocate starts out very normal as lawyer moves into big city, and lawyer soon becomes one of them. The story starts out like it could be a thriller but soon falls into a huge story of evil, lies, and horror.

The movie seemed really confusing of why out of nowhere these people started just being evil and how they were evil in the first place. It worked as a thriller and that’s how it was for the longest time but then it started to spiral out of control when it started going towards the horror genre. The film was also way too long for my taking and I felt that some scenes were definably not needed. The twist ending never really made any sense either and I just felt like it added more confusion to this story in all.

Though those are the bad parts here are some good one. I like the production design of how it looked. There are some really good shots of New York and many other shots of statues coming to life, and they looked very good as well. The story does get very complex as it goes along. Despite me being confused when I followed through the story I enjoyed how it was engaging with its story.

Pacino and Reeves are also very good in this film as well. Pacino does a great job at playing an evil but calm guy and he gives a very energetic performance and shows he can make any film better. Keanu Reeves surprisingly does a good job as well if you can believe it. He is there to play the stand-up guy while everything else goes horribly wrong around him, and he shows he isn’t all good looks and that he can make a very strong and powerful performance. Also the supporting cast does well, most notably a young Charlize Theron who gives us a early view of her acting chops.

Consensus: Pacino and Reeves are game and so is the production, but the story tries to work as a horror film when it really could work as a thriller. The ending is very laughable too.


Parenthood (1989)

After watching this movie I realized something: BEING A PARENT BLOWS!!!!

Middle-manager Gil Buckman struggles to reconcile his ambitions at work with his loyalty to his family, particularly to his troubled son, Kevin. His divorced sister Helen has a sullen and withdrawn son and a sexually active teenage daughter. Gil’s other sister, Susan, is a school teacher married to an ambitious yuppie determined to make a genius of their 3-year-old daughter.

This is a wonderful look at the joys and pains of being a parent, and in ways a child. The film is told through each of the family members all episodically. The film with such a large ensemble of characters still does well with telling each characters story.

The screenplay is something of praise too. Its witty and used in ways that aren’t always happy-go-lucky and in some ways they have a little bit of a darker side to it other than a full sitcom resolution. It always show that in life you never fully get free and there is always a toll to pay for what you have in your own life.

The ensemble cast does very well at delivering the emotion that each of these characters are feeling at that exact moment. Steve Martin is hilarious but also shows some heart to his family and the troubled people around him. Mostly, I think Dianne West steals the show and I could feel her raw emotion and personally she did show the most heart when it came to doing what was right for her family. Mostly because of her (and a little bit of Keanu Reeves) I found her story more entertaining than the others.

Though at points I didn’t find myself fully entertained. I thought it lagged on too bit with the drama and focused away from the comedy element. I understand they were trying to show the dark side of life, but they shined away from the light side and thats what in ways fully lost my attention in full.

Though it is not too great it is still a classic, its more of an ambitious, keenly observed, and often very funny look at one of life’s most daunting passages. Being a parent has its highs and its lows and that is what this film shows.