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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Laura Dern

Inland Empire (2006)

Wait. What?

Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is an accomplished actress who, after much time spent waiting and wondering, finally gets the role as the lead in On High in Blue Tomorrows. It’s supposed to be her comeback role, so to speak, so there’s a lot of pressure wearing on it, not to mention, a lot of pressure from her husband not to fall in love with her co-star Devon (Justin Theroux). Sure, it can be done, but the two are playing characters who are having an affair, making it a tad bit harder. However, the director (Jeremy Irons) trusts that both of them will keep it as professional as can be and will make sure that the movie comes out perfectly, because believe it or not, it’s been attempted before, but for some reason, the movie just hasn’t been made. Why, though? Eventually, Nikki and Devon find out and it causes both of them to start imagining weird, rather insane things, that they don’t know if is real, or not.

Wait, what?

Honestly, there’s a lot more to the premise of Inland Empire, in that there’s not just one story, but about three or four more of them, none of which make a single lick of sense, or better yet, ever seem to come together in a way that you’d imagine. Now, if sitting around for three hours and watching as a bunch of random stories get told to you in the most confusing manner imaginable sounds like a good time, then be my guest and enjoy the hell out of Inland Empire.

I, however, didn’t and just couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. Sure, there were things to admire and of course, this is David Lynch we’re talking about here, so I can’t be all that surprised, but still, it just didn’t quite work for me. There was so much going on, without any rhyme or reason, that after awhile, I had to sort of give up and just accept the fact that the movie’s going way beyond my intelligence and I’m best to just let it do its thing and see if I can make it up in the end.

Spoiler alert: I couldn’t.

Sure, is that more of a problem with me, as opposed to the movie? Definitely, but by the same token, there is something to be said for a three-hour movie that not only feels every bit of it, but never seems to show any signs of actually going anywhere. Lynch is well-known for doing this sort of thing time and time again, and while it’s always had me happy and rather pleased, this go around, it just didn’t work. It seemed like too much meandering and craziness for the sake of being meandering and crazy, as if there wasn’t a whole lot of story, but weird and surreal imagery that Lynch just had to get out of his system.

And okay, it makes sense, because the look and feel of this movie is, above all else, freaky. Then again, how could it not? Filmed on a hand-held digital-camera, the movie is grainy, dirty and downright gritty, but in a way, it’s also more terrifying for that reason alone, often times feeling like a documentary, than another glitsed-up flick. Film itself can do wonders, but digital-video can also do the same, especially when you’re really trying to go for an aura of realism, even if, you know, there’s nothing realistic happening here.

No seriously, what?

And once again, that’s all me. The movie gets away doing its thing, but it’s so frustrating to watch, that no matter what Lynch does behind the camera and how much inspiration may come out of him, it just didn’t connect for me. There’s a lot going on here and a lot that randomly happens, but the only thing I could remember clearly in my head was a very few haunting-images, bunny-rabbits, a dance to “the Locomotion”, and a lot of walking down hallways.

Like, a lot.

But Laura Dern, all issues aside, is great here and gives it everything she’s got. There’s no denying that Dern’s probably perfect for Lynch’s creepy, twisted and warped mind, and it’s why her performance here, with so many shades shown, is something to watch. Even when it seems like the rest of the movie has gone far, far away, she’s always there, working her rump off and making sure that everything sticks together. She allows for it to do so, too, it’s just a shame that it didn’t fully connect at the end.

For me, at least.

Consensus: Absolutely confusing, weird and random, Inland Empire is a hard movie to get into, mostly due to its frustrating plot, but there is some art to be seen here.

5 / 10

See, even Laura doesn’t know.

Photos Courtesy of: Pretty Clever FilmsFour Three Film

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The Founder (2017)

Yeah, still eating at McDonald’s. Sorry, guys.

Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is just another salesman trying to get by in the world so that he can come home to his wife (Laura Dern), and have something to show for it. While on his travels one day, Ray stumbles upon this new fast-food restaurant in Illinois called McDonald’s. While there’s not much to them at first glance, the fact that they actually have only a few items on the menu and are so quick, automatically strike Ray as something that he needs to work with. So, he hatches a plan with the owners, brothers Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman), in that he’ll help them expand and bring McDonald’s to the rest of the world. But eventually, as time rolls on, he starts to realize that there’s more money to be made in this food-joint, but the only way to do so is in having to back-stab and get rid of everyone in his life, who has loved and supported him all of these years. Also, he’ll have to get rid of Mac and Dick, leading to an all-out legal-battle that will continue to haunt the McDonald’s name until the end of time.

Okay, probably not, but still.

Yeah, this convo's about to get real weird.

Yeah, this convo’s about to get real weird.

The Founder is actually a pretty misleading title, but it works perfectly with what the rest of the movie is trying to get across. This idea that a person who thought of an idea, as smart as it may be, entitles them to some sort of power, fame and fortune, is an interesting one, especially when said person didn’t actually do anything with the idea. In the Founder, we get this sort of conflict – Ray Kroc may forever and ever be known as the one who got McDonald’s name out there to the rest of the entire world, but he didn’t find, or better yet, even invent the place, the art, the craft, and originality that went into it all in the first place.

Which begs the question: Who’s worthy of being considered “the founder”? The guys who made the place, or the guy who brought the place to where it is today?

It’s a bunch of interesting questions that, thankfully, get brought up many of times throughout the always entertaining, compelling and rather insightful tale about McDonald’s, how it got started, and how it got to be the fast-food juggernaut that it currently is today. Say what you will about McDonald’s, their crappy, fast and easy food, and even the people who work there, but it’s a place that is everywhere you look and will probably stay that way until the person is left breathing. So yes, it’s very interesting to see where it all came from and how it came to be, especially since there’s darker-beings at play surrounding this tale.

For one, director John Lee Hancock approaches Robert D. Siegel’s script in a smart way; he never allows for us to think that this is going to be some quick, fast-paced and glossy biopic about this one smart businessman who hatched this plan to become one of the richest men in the world. There’s always this idea of a darker, more sinister undercurrent here, which makes all of the ups and constantly colorful montages, in a way, seem eerie; we know that Kroc is going to eventually turn the other cheek, lose that winning-smile of his, and start to, as they love to say in the entertainment world, “break bad”, but when, where, and how it all goes down is always left in the air, making this tale a rather unpredictable one at times.

Then again, it’s also a smart and honest tale about what can happen when one person sees money-bags in their eyes and doesn’t really care about the people around them. The Founder makes us wonder whether it was all worth it for Kroc and everyone else involved with the restaurant; can you be a rich, successful and live a rather comfortable life by sticking to your principles and not letting your image get away from you? Or, do you have to get a little down in the dirt at times, hitting elbows and yeah, making some uncomfortable compromises? The Founder asks these questions, never quite comes up with a clear-cut, obvious answer and for that and that alone, it’s a very good movie.

It doesn’t ask whether or not you should go out there and support McDonald’s (which yeah, you probably shouldn’t), but it does ask whether or not someone can stay true to themselves when they want to make some money for themselves.

Sorry, guys. Should have stuck with Burger King.

Sorry, guys. Should have stuck with Burger King.

That, to me, has stayed in my head ever since.

Regardless, as Kroc, Michael Keaton gives us an amazing performance because Keaton, like the man he’s playing, always seems to have something brewing underneath the surface. On the surface, Kroc seems like a rather nice, almost squeaky-clean guy, but the more and more time we get to spend with him, the more realize that there may just be a small screw loose in his head that has him ticking like a bomb, ready to explode and lose all control. Keaton constantly has us guessing just where he’s going to go next with this person and constantly surprises us with his portrayal; while this is no doubt a person we’re supposed to have hard feelings towards, it’s kind of hard because Keaton is just so damn charming. The movie doesn’t let Kroc off the hook, though, and in today’s day and age, that’s something definitely needed.

Everyone else is pretty great, too. Laura Dern doesn’t get a whole lot to do as Kroc’s first wife, but she brings enough warmth and sympathy when is necessary; John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman are perfectly as the two brothers who came up with McDonald’s and are slowly, but surely, starting to see that dream slip away from them; Linda Cardellini shows up in a under-written role as Kroc’s second wife, but tries; B.J. Novak is perfectly slimy as the one who hits Kroc’s head the hardest with opportunities and business ideas; and Patrick Wilson, as brief as he’s here, does a solid job at seeming like a guy who may be a little smarmy, but also may just be something of a good guy, trying to make a quick buck, and oh yeah, loses his wife for it.

Chew on that, people.

Consensus: With an absolutely terrific lead performance from Michael Keaton, the Founder not only makes us question the meaning of its tale, but many others, while still giving us a smart, rather haunting portrait of a business man, with an idea, an agenda, and of course, a shady moral compass.

8.5 / 10

What an empire of morbidly obese customers.

What an empire of soon-to-be morbidly obese customers.

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

Sometimes, you just need to start anew five times straight.

After her husband dies, Alice (Ellen Burstyn) and her son, Tommy (Alfred Lutter), leave their small New Mexico town for California. There, Alice is hopeful that she’ll be able to make it big there achieving her one true dream: Singing. However, the town is so small and dry, that there’s hardly any work for a bartender, let alone for a singer. So eventually, Alice and Tommy end up settling for Arizona instead, where she takes a job as waitress in a small diner and Tommy is left to make friends with some mischievous locals. She intends to stay in Arizona just long enough to make the money needed to head back out on the road, but her plans change when she begins to fall for a rancher named David (Kris Kristofferson), someone she can’t help but be drawn to, even if he’s got his own problems going for him as well.

Seeing Martin Scorsese’s name attached to this flick may seem odd, until you actually see the movie and totally get it. For one, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore has the same type of free-spirit, wild and rather chaotic energy that all of Scorsese’s movies seem to have, not to mention that the movie itself hardly ever seems to let-up. It’s part road movie, part romantic-comedy, but altogether, it’s an entertaining piece that would soon show the world what Scorsese could do out of wheelhouse.

alice1

Look out, world! Here’s Alice!

Which isn’t to say that this movie’s perfect, but it’s the first sure sign of Scorsese taking a risk and seeing it pay-off quite well. While I’m most definitely in the minority of feeling like Mean Streets is incredibly overrated, it’s still an enjoyable movie, considering that it’s showing-off what Scorsese could do with a story about crooks, gangsters, cops and all sorts of hectic violence – something that we would see him continue to make movies about for the next many decades. That’s why a movie like Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, while seeming like an unabashed and boring chick-flick on paper, moves like a fast-paced thriller, but still doesn’t forget that characters do matter here and they are what make the bulk of the flick so damn good.

That is to say that Ellen Burstyn, in her Oscar-winning role of course, is great.

Then again, when isn’t the gal?

Burstyn’s great here, but it does help that she has such a meaty character to work and play around with; Alice is a very challenging character because she doesn’t always make the right decisions, nor does she seem to apologize for them, either. Scorsese and Burstyn both present this woman as someone who knows that whatever move she makes next, probably won’t be ideal, but she’s constantly thinking about what’s best for her and her son, meaning that every once and awhile, she’s got to make a sacrifice and suck up the stupidity. Even the smart decisions that Alice seems to make, still end-up biting her in the rump by the end, making you wonder whether or not this woman should be trusted with the care of a pre-adolescent boy in the first place. But still, there’s something compelling about this woman, flaws, warts and all that junk, as well as Burstyn’s performance that make it all the more watchable.

The happiest diner in the world it seems.

The happiest diner in the world it seems.

And it’s actually very interesting to see this movie and think about it in retrospect, as we’ve come to see Scorsese’s career grow further and further away from female-led stories, making us wonder one simple thing, “Why?” After all, he handles this story with such delicate care, never shying away from showing this woman for all of who she is, that he not just respects her as much as we do, but he loves her, even. It’s a rare sign that even though Scorsese’s movies tend to gain all sorts of controversy for their violence, drugs and crime, mostly all involving and/or against women, there’s still this small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, he was curious of taking this road even further.

It makes you wonder, really.

Regardless, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, all things considered, may be a bit too long for its own good, but in a way, that’s okay. We get to see and learn about more characters throughout Alice’s journey, some of whom are really fun and exciting to watch. Harvey Keitel shows up as a slimy dude Alice starts hooking up with; Kris Kristofferson’s is interesting enough of a dramatic-lead to make you want to see more of him around; Jodi Foster shows up in a very early role as one of Tommy’s friends and is very good; Diane Ladd steals just about every scene she’s in as Alice’s co-worker/best friend; and even as a young kid here, Alfred Lutter does a nice job as Tommy, mostly due to the fact that the kid’s not annoyingly written. He’s a little too smart for his britches at certain points, but that’s mostly because his mom makes him that way; there’s quite a few scenes where the two have heart-to-heart conversations about all things in life and while they may seem a little tacked-on, the chemistry between Lutter and Burstyn is so good, that you sort of believe in it.

Consensus: Not his best by any means, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore still presents a very bright and entertaining picture for the whole cast, especially Burstyn, and Scorsese, and the many years to come.

8 / 10

Keep on smiling, Ellen. You'll get that Oscar.

Keep on smiling, Ellen. You’ll get that Oscar.

Photos Courtesy of: The Soul of the Plot

Certain Women (2016)

Lady problems.

Three strong-willed women (Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams) strive to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest. In one story, a lawyer (Laura Dern) finds herself dealing with office sexism, while also trying to ensure that a client of hers (Jared Harris), doesn’t get the bum-end of a deal from the trucking-company he used to be apart of. In another, a mother (Michelle Williams) wants to have her dream house so that she, her husband (James LeGros) and her daughter (Sarah Rodier) can live together in perfect peace and harmony, however, actually finding that house puts her at-odds with said husband and daughter. And lastly, there’s a young law student (Kristen Stewart) who is forced to teach a class out somewhere so far from where she lives, that she eventually forms something of a friendship with a lonely ranch-hand (Lily Gladstone), who may think that they are something more than what they appear to be.

Staring.

Staring.

In the past few years, writer/director Kelly Reichardt truly has grown into the kind of writer and director of indies that most indie film-makers want to be, yet, strive very far away from. She’s the kind of talent who seems to get better with each and everyone of her movies, doesn’t seem to tell the same story twice, get bigger and bigger stars into her movies, and most of all, keep her indie-cred safe and sound. It’s something that she’s been keeping up with for quite some time and it’s why she’s one of the more interesting voices in the film world today, not just indies in particular.

And that’s why a part of me is so disappointed with Certain Women.

See, when you have a movie that is, essentially, a few short, separate segments, rolled up into one movie, it’s hard to make sure that each one stays as compelling as the one to come before it. Reichardt has a knack for telling smart stories about small-town, rural people and expressing their emotions through long, drown-out pauses and moments of silence; the fact that hardly any of her movies have a “score”, just goes to show you just how much she depends on the real, ordinary life to be compelling enough. And with Certain Women, she gets a chance to tell not one, not two, but three stories about normal, everyday gals, living their lives and trying to get by in the world, even if, you know, they’re not all that interesting in the first place.

And that’s all it comes down to.

Reichardt does try to make these stories interesting, but they don’t fully come together, or move in a manner that really keeps it worth watching. We get the sense that Reichardt is never judging her characters for their ways, their morals, or their decisions, which is admirable, but sometimes, it feels like she’s not even around to do much of anything. It’s good to have a director that just lets her cast and crew do what they want, with very little direction, but there were a good couple of occasions here where I didn’t know what was going on, where everything was going to go next, and better yet, why any of it matters. To just chalk it all up to being normal, everyday people’s lives, is the reason to care, doesn’t cut it, unfortunately – sometimes, you need a compelling narrative to keep things, at the very least watchable.

More staring.

More staring.

It’s a shame, too, because the cast does certainly try and, for the most part, come-off strong. Laura Dern’s performance as a lawyer is strong; Jared Harris is a little too silly to work in such a movie as understated and serious as this; James LeGros, as usual, is perfectly fine; Michelle Williams doesn’t really have anything to do; Kristen Stewart is quite great in her role as a frustrated and confused lawyer, offering up a snapshot into the life of someone who’s young, ambitious and professional, yet, still doesn’t have a clue of what she’s going to do with the rest of her years; and Lily Gladstone, without hardly uttering more than five minutes of dialogue, is still pretty great, giving us a look into someone’s repressed existence, even if there is a part of me that wonders if it’s a good performance because she wasn’t suited with much dialogue in the first place, or if she’s actually a good actress who can make this all work.

Either way, the cast does try and it shows that they just don’t have enough material to work with.

And sure, you could make the argument that I’m just being harsh on a movie that “doesn’t really have a plot”, and sure, I guess you’re right, but it’s much more than that. The movie has three plots, none of which are ever that compelling to sit by; Reichardt always seems like she’s ready for something to happen, but for some reason, it never comes around. She’s honestly a great film maker and I can’t wait to see what she’s got cooking up next, but unfortunately, the bag just wasn’t there this time.

Consensus: Even with a good cast, Certain Women can’t help but feel like an uninteresting, slow and aimless exercise from the usually dependable Kelly Reichardt.

6 / 10

And yup, still staring.

And yup, still staring.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

99 Homes (2015)

Don’t ever trust a landlord.

As soon as the crash of 2008 occurred, everyone in the United States was left without a paddle. One such person was Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a single father who, after much fighting and arguing with the court, gets evicted from his Orlando home. Seeing that he has lost his family-home, Nash sets out to do whatever he can to get it back – even if that means having to join up and work for the same man who kicked him out of his house to begin with: real estate broker Rick Carver (Michael Shannon). Carver has certain practices that aren’t what some would call “ethical”, or better yet, “legal”, but the money’s so good that Nash doesn’t care. Eventually though, Nash begins to move up the ladder, which takes him away from working on the homes, and brings him now to actually having to interact with the tenants who are in the actual homes. This mostly involves Nash posting notices on doors, warning tenants of being vacated, and, as time rolls on, even having to kick some tenants on his own. Clearly this is something that Nash doesn’t feel comfortable with, but once again, it’s all about the money and the prospect of getting his family back in order to the way they once were.

Message!

So message-y!

Have you ever been stuck in a lecture at all in your life, whether it be with your parents, a teacher, or one of those Jesus-nuts from off the street, and not want to leave? Instead, you hold on to every single word that they say, even though you know the end-point? You know that they’re not going to start off by stating something like, “Gay marriage is bad”, and then end with, “Well, you know, you can do what you want.” The lecture is, most definitely, going to start with an agenda, continue on with that agenda, and, you guessed it, end with that same agenda. And yet, something about the lecture is just keeping you on your toes and surprisingly interested.

That’s how I felt with 99 Homes – a long lecture about the housing crisis and all the evil-doers behind it, yet, I never wanted to turn away or leave.

Eventually, that time did come around, but that’s not till later, so just wait dammit! Listen to me lecture about stuff now!

For one, Ramin Bahrani seems to know what he’s talking about here. Clearly, he’s put his heart and soul into material that, for a good majority of people out there, will not find an easy way to handle. It will, most likely, hit too close to home, hard, and re-open old wounds that were probably still healing. However, Bahrani seems to be interested in what these wounds still hold. Are they sadness? Are they grief? Or, are they wishes that something better occurred?

Well, 99 Homes is, in a way, that fantasy being played-out. One thing is certain about the movie, and that’s that it’s not totally a drama. I mean, yes, it’s most definitely a drama that’s emotional, sad, and for a good portion, filled with lots of interesting talking-points, but in all honesty, is really a thriller. Once we see Garfield’s Dennis Nash start picking up work as one of Shannon’s Rick Carver’s lackeys, then it’s balls to the walls from there. This Nash fella is taking away pools, air-conditioners and handing out eviction notices to people who have no clue just what the hell kind of storm has hit them dead-on in the face. While, at the same time, he’s making all of this money and seeming to be loving it.

Sure, he’s morally-conflicted by the fact that the person he’s getting rich off of, is the very same person who got him kicked out of his house, but because the money’s continuing to come in and the dreams seem promising, he lets it all slide by. And you know what? It’s hard to watch this and not want him to, either. Dennis Nash, as he’s presented to us, is nothing more than just your average, blue-collar dude who, like many others just like him, was short-shifted when the crash of 2008 came around and had no idea of what to do next with his life, his family, or his career. All he knew was what he was good at and tried to go where the money went.

That’s why, when we see Nash get thrown out of his house, it’s disturbing and visceral. Many people had to go through the same ordeal he’s going through and it was most definitely 100% more tragic to them. And that’s why, when we see that Nash is clearly pleased with himself making all of this cash money, it’s great to see him happy and enjoying himself. After all, he’s just a normal dude who isn’t under normal circumstances, so why continue to act normal? Why not try something new and go with that from there?

"When you said, 'movie with Spider-Man,' I thought you meant Tobey Maguire! Who's this damn kid!"

“When you said, ‘movie with Spider-Man,’ I thought you meant Tobey Maguire! Who’s this damn kid!”

Clearly, Rahmin Bahrani thinks this is a bad idea. However, his movie proves otherwise.

Bahrani has crafted a nice little thriller that takes you through everything one may need to know about the housing-crash, how it was operated, who was responsible, and those who were affected the most. But at the center of it all, is probably the most realistic character of the bunch, who also seems to be the most sinister: Michael Shannon’s Rick Carver. There’s no denying the fact that Michael Shannon’s a good actor, but here, as Rick Carver, he gets to stretch his wings a whole lot more and show, that even despite his character being a pretty despicable human specimen, there’s still something we want to watch and see more of him.

We know that he’s a baddie, but we also know that he, like many others, are just trying to get by with what he knows and what he’s best at. But what’s best about Carver is that he doesn’t try to make any excuses or apologies for the way he is – he just is. For instance, there’s a scene in the middle of the film where Carver laces into this tirade about how, “America was built on winners. Not losers.” It’s not just hard to take your eyes off of him because it’s literally just a single-shot, zooming in on his face, but also, because some of what Shannon is spouting on about is true. You may not want to believe it as being such, but it is and it makes this movie feel like a smart bit of preaching, rather than just preaching for the sake of it.

And don’t let me forget Andrew Garfield, because the man is great here! What with him being forced to play Peter Parker, it’s hard to remember that, at one time, Garfield was a very promising, young, and talented actor that seemed primed and ready for some very interesting material to come his way. Now with Spidey out of his way, Garfield seems like he’s enjoying some time being able to dig deep into characters that aren’t the kind you’d expect someone of his good-looks to play; you know, such as a middle-aged, middle-class single-father.

However, as good as Garfield may be, his character sadly falls prey to an ending that, honestly, came close to ruining the movie for me.

I won’t spoil much, other than to say that it felt like Bahrani, throughout a good majority of 99 Homes, was making a movie that wasn’t going to play it nice, sweet and kind, and instead, go for the gritty-realism that’s expected of source material such as this. However, he does the bait-and-switch and decides that maybe he wants some melodrama, messages, and red herrings thrown into the mix. I’ve already said too much, but just know, when the ending comes around, it may disappoint you more than please.

That may just be me, though.

Consensus: 99 Homes is a timely-thriller that gets by on the excellent performances, however, is a bit short-shifted by a weak ending that keeps it away from being a whole lot better.

8 / 10

Big houses. Big cars. Big women. The life of a real estate agent, yo.

Big houses. Big cars. Big women. The life of a real estate agent, yo.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Wild (2014)

I just walked from my living-room to the kitchen, so why am I still addicted to heroin?

One day, 30-ish-year-old Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) decides to do a 1,000 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, all by her lonesome-self. Why is this? Well, after years of drug abuse, random sex with strangers, the loss of her mother (Laura Dern), a few pregnancy scares, and her recent divorce, Cheryl has about had it up to here with life and finally realizes that in order for her to finally change it all, she has to get away from it all and focus her attention on another part of her life: Survival. This means, for Cheryl, she has to eat a lot of cold oatmeal, stay hydrated, stay warm, not die, and sure as hell not get raped by any of the huge creep-o’s that may, or may not be out there in the wilderness, just waiting for a little thing like her to come around into their little wooden-hut. Mostly though, Cheryl just wants to change her life and along her journey, she meets people that are sometimes in the same situation as her, or are just simply hiking for the hell of it.

Just like the Energizer Bunny, she just keeps going....

Just like the Energizer Bunny, she just keeps going….

You know, like we all do.

On the outside looking into a movie like Wild, I cannot help myself one bit to not just scoff at a piece that includes someone played by Reese Witherspoon hiking on an Eat Pray Love-style journey of self-discovery, all because she shot up heroin, had promiscuous sex with a bunch of Randy’s, and got a divorce, because she had promiscuous sex with a bunch of Randy’s. To me, not only does it sound like not “my type of thing”, but it seems like pure Oscar-bait for Witherspoon to show her “range”, and also to see her as a bad-ass kind of gal. Call me harsh, call me what you will, but I know when a movie intrigues me and this was not one of them.

But, from the inside of this movie looking out, I can easily say that not only did it turn out to be “my type of thing”, but Witherspoon more than proved herself capable of being hot, sassy little mama who screws, shoots up, and divorces, whatever she wants, when she wants, and how she chooses to do so.

I never thought I’d ever be typing that in my life, but such is the case when you have a little surprise like this on your hands.

And most of that is due to director Jean-Marc Vallée’s handling of this material and not just letting it tell itself; Vallée gets us inside the mind of this Cheryl Strayed character, shows us what she’s thinking, when she’s thinking, why, and how it affects her current journey in life. Though it gets a bit over-the-top with all of the constant smarmy-narration from Strayed, Vallée still does a nice enough job of putting us slap dab in the middle of this woman’s life and the journey she’s embarking on, and making us actually care for her. Sure, he may utilize more flashbacks than two whole episodes of Lost, but they’re flashbacks that work and allow us to grow closer to this character, the more and more that we know about her.

And trust me, that’s not an easy feet, especially when you have Reese Witherspoon playing the main character, but there’s something about her here that really shocked me and actually puts her whole career into perspective, as a matter of fact. See, it’s not that I dislike Witherspoon as an actress – I think she’s immensely talented and, in the past, has proven to be quite versatile in what she’s chosen, and for how much cash. But lately, it seems that the Reese we all once knew and loved as Elle Woods (or as Tracy Flick, for all you cool 90’s kids out there), has gone the way of the Dodo and would much rather take a huge pay-cut to star in movies where dashing, handsome-as-hell men fight to the death for her and leave her going, “Oh, golly!”

Well, my friends, you no longer have to be scared because it seems like the Reese Witherspoon we all loved is back and this time, she’s rawer than ever! Meaning, that yes, Witherspoon does get quite naked in here and shows us elements to her abilities as an actress that none of us have ever seen before, and it all works. She’s compelling, smart and gives much insight into the type of damaged woman you can still like and care for, even if she’s made some pretty dumb mistakes in the past, and especially to people who don’t at all deserve it. The role could have easily been another large check for Witherspoon, but she puts so much effort into it that it actually pays off and has me so excited to see what she has next. Because, quite frankly, with all of the hits on her hands, by now, she can do whatever she damn well pleases with her career.

....and going......

….and going……

Quite like Cheryl Strayed.

Anyway, all that aside, Wild isn’t perfect. There are moments where it seems to fall back on “are they, or aren’t they rapists” aspect of its story and while it may bring tension to the story, it feels constantly thrown in there, if only to just keep peoples eyes open and watching the screen. But that isn’t to say Cheryl Strayed’s adventure isn’t, as is, already intriguing, or even, ever so slightly, inspirational, because, yes, it is. Though Vallée doesn’t hit us over-the-head too many times with making us feel like we should love this person more and more as she goes on with our journey, it’s still easy to do so. Not because she’s been through a whole hell of a lot to begin with, but because she actually wants to make amends for it all.

The real reason as to why she actually gets up one day and decides to say, “Aw, fuck it! Time for a 1,000 mile hike”, is a question that the movie brings up, never explicitly answers, and leaves hanging like a sad flower that’s been without water for too long. But it doesn’t need to. With giving us many insights into Strayed’s past-life, we get the impression that she needs this more than anything. However, rather than being a total baby and seeming like she’s running away from her problems, it seems more like she’s walking towards a new life, that will probably have its fair share of problems. However, she’s constantly learning and understanding that life will always get better. Sometimes though, you just have to take advantage of it, get up, and see what’s out there in this huge canvas we call “Earth”.

Okay, now I’m definitely getting sappy here. Damn you, Reese!

Consensus: With a compelling lead performance from a very dedicated Reese Witherspoon, Wild gets past any of the problems it may have with its narrative and reminds its audience about the small pleasures in life, even if they don’t always come right away.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

...and, yup, you guessed it, still going......

…and, yup, you guessed it, still going……

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

Having cancer doesn’t really have to be all that bad, now does it?

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shaliene Woodley) is your typical sixteen-year-old girl; she’s sassy, wants to have fun, listens to cool bands, loves her parents, and is taking up classes when she can. She also wants a fake ID, so you know she’s exactly like every other teenager that’s ever lived a day in their lives. However, what separates Hazel from most other teenage girls, is that she’s suffering from cancer. She gets by with her oxygen tank that she hauls around wherever she goes, but for the most part, she knows that anytime, at any place, she could be gone from this world. However, Hazel isn’t all about soaking in her own misery and decides to look at it in a relatively positive light; yet, she doesn’t care too much about telling others about it. That’s why when she’s forced to go into a support-group for fellow cancer patients, she couldn’t be less miserable. That is, until she meets a charming, older guy by the name of Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), whom also is suffering from cancer. The two strike a bond that automatically has them deciding whether or not they should be together, considering that their fates are unpredictable, yet, they still stick together and see where it can go. But don’t forget, for most people, when one has cancer, it hardly ever fully leaves the body forever, until the end of time. Sometimes, it can come back and ruin lives more effectively than ever before.

Considering that I myself am a young adult, I’ve heard my fair share of talk surrounding the novel of this movie. Many girls loved it, some didn’t, and most dudes hated hearing about it. I didn’t necessarily care, however, what I did hear was that it was a lot better and smarter than many of those other young adult, sappy-romance novels that never cease to keep on being released to mass-mediums. That’s what got me slightly interested about this movie; thinking that maybe, just a big maybe, this novel-adaptation could be different and change the game for other young adult novel adaptations from here on out.

Don't worry, concerned parents, I can assure that it's only grape juice in their glasses.

Don’t worry, concerned parents, I can assure that it’s only grape juice in their glasses. It just so happens to look as if they are consuming champagne under legal-age.

Sadly, my mind was wrong.

However, according to the rest of the theater I was in, I’m a total idiot and have no idea what I’m talking about. Why is that? Well, for starters, all of the young tweenie-boppers in my theater loved this movie – they laughed at every joke (regardless of whether or not it was actually “funny”), went “aaawww” whenever somebody said a romantic-line (even if it was schmaltzy beyond belief), and cried whenever something bad was about to happen to one person, or had already happened (okay, I’ll give them that, some of the stuff was pretty sad). And there’s no reason they shouldn’t have loved it – they’re are this movie’s target-audience.

That’s why whenever a movie is released and a certain group of people, or persons, adore one movie (regular, everyday citizens), and a certain group of other people, or persons, don’t wholly agree (critics), there’s a huge backlash, where words are exchanged, death threats are thrown out, and subscribers are lost till the end of time. That’s one risk any human takes when forming their own opinions and decides to make it public for the rest of the world to see; that’s the risk I took, and honestly, I’m a better person for it. Not because I like to inadvertently tell certain people to “fuck off” whenever I damn well please, but because it allowed me to see just how differently my mind works from other’s.

And trust me, I don’t do that because I want to think differently like others and be considered “hip”, or “cool”, or “annoying” (I usually am considered this by others regardless of what I say), but I do that because it’s my voice. Hear it or not, it’s my voice. Deal with it.

The reason why I’ve gone into total “preach-mode” is because I know, as soon as this review is posted, so many human specimens are going to get on my ass because I: a) didn’t love this movie with all of my heart, b) haven’t read the book, or c) all of the above. And that’s fine, but there’s a reason why I don’t like certain movies – and it’s not to just break from the norm and show everybody how much of a rebel I am. Because see, something with this movie was just not clicking for me.

The acting from Shaliene Woodley was fine, in fact, she downright saves this movie, so it definitely wasn’t her. No, it was more that the tone to this movie just felt so one-note the whole entire time. I get that this is something of a cancer-dramedy in which these characters sort of understand that they have cancer, know it sucks, and do whatever they can to make their situation better by just noticing it and moving on, but for the first hour, that’s the whole movie. There’s hardly any drama, and just all comedy; comedy which, mind you, wasn’t all that funny and felt terribly tacked-on.

For instance, this character of Augustus who, on paper, sounds like a total dream boat that any girl, cancer patient or not, would go buck wild for (maybe even some curious guys, too, but that’s a different story). He’s smart, funny, chock full of wit, spirited, loves to have himself a good time, and is never against using a metaphor he doesn’t like. In essence, he’s what every girl wants their boyfriend to be, but the problem is: He’s only “real”, in a movie sense. Somebody like Augustus may exist out there, but if that is the case, I do not want to know him. To me, every time Augustus showed up and spouted some line that was supposed to make him sound “witty”, I got even more and more annoyed by his character.

That’s not to say Ansel Elgort isn’t good as him – more often than not, the dude really does try. However, he’s just given some really lame material that has him doing the same act, practically the whole damn time, and even when he does get serious, he’s so far gone into “goofy” territory, that it’s hard to take him at all serious. And yes, I know that because he has cancer, we’re supposed to feel sorry for him, and I’m not saying that she shouldn’t, it’s just hard for me to really get behind a character that feels so fake, annoying, and around as a “type”, rather than an actual human being that I would meet in real life, have a cup of Joe with, talk to, and enjoy my time with.

Oh, just do it already! Spare us!

Oh, just do it already! Spare us!

Sorry, everybody. Maybe I’m just a depressed, angry asshole that doesn’t like fun.

Like I said earlier though, Woodley is probably the saving-grace to this movie because she feels somewhat real when placed against everybody else. But what brings Woodley down is that the way we’re introduced to Hazel Grace, makes it seem like she’s something of a rebel herself; she doesn’t want to be treated like a cancer patient, she doesn’t want anybody’s pity, and she sure as hell doesn’t want to do all of that corny, “falling in love” crap that she sees done in the mainstream media. However, without saying too much that would jeopardize my respect with fellow bloggers, she starts to fall for those corny cliches and it makes it seem like the movie didn’t really think all of those ideas out well enough. It just threw it on there to show that she’s somewhat different, and that’s about it. Woodley’s still good, but man, it just sucks when a character gets written one way, and turns out another way, without any real, believable transition to be found anywhere.

And before I head off into a cabin in the woods where I’ll most likely be hiding for the next week or so after this is posted, I will say that I did tear-up a bit by the end. However, that’s only because I feel like I had finally given up on trying to stiff-arm this movie into making me tear. Because, for the whole two-hour run-time, you can feel this movie just reaching deep inside of you, trying to get anything close to resembling an emotion of sadness or sentimentality, and it downright annoyed me. But, like I said, before the movie was up, I succumbed to this movie’s over-powering strength and felt one, teenie, tiny, small tear run down my right cheek. I should have taken a picture or something, but I assure you, it was nothing compared to the kinds of tears I produce while watching Hardball.

Please, don’t anybody show this review to my father. Something tells me I’d be without a roof over my head for quite some time.

Consensus: While its heart is in the right place, the Fault in Our Stars is just too one-note and unbelievable, for so long, to where when it does get serious and melodramatic, it feels drastic and needy, rather than understandable and heartfelt. Also not to mention that Augustus can get real annoying, real quick after he’s introduced.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

We get it, you're adorable. Damn, meddling kids.

We get it, you’re adorable. Damn, meddling kids.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

Nebraska (2013)

One billion would have been better. But I guess for Nebraska, eh, a million ain’t so shabby.

After many years of boozing, whoring around and sitting on his lazy rump, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) finally gets the opportunity of a lifetime: The chance to claim a million dollars. The way in which Woody finds out about this offer is through the mail, which obviously means it’s a scam put on by some of these magazines, in hopes that they’ll get more and more subscriptions. Everybody around Woody sees this, but he doesn’t, so therefore, some go along with it. That “some”, ends up being his youngest son David (Will Forte), a guy who is stuck in a rut of his own as well. Together, the two embark on a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska where Woody hopes that the money will be, even though David knows this not to be true. On the way to their destination, however, they meet up with old family, friends and acquaintances, telling them all about the path they have set in front of them, and for what reasons. Some see this as a joke and know it’s crazy-talk, but some actually take this story to heart, and get a little bit threatening, feeling as if they’re owed a bit of that cash-flow just as much as Woody is.

Alexander Payne has made a career out of these types of movies: Smart, slow, but realistic character-studies about people whom you feel are actual, real-life human-beings. They also mostly have to do with a road-trip occurring at some point or another, which is exactly what this flick is dedicated to, but they never quite play-out with the same old wacky goofs or hijinx you usually see from road-trip movies. Instead, you see real people, talking about real things and going their daily-lives, as if they really were “the real thing” .

First time the two have shared a smile together in 45 years. More romantic, than depressing if you think about it.

First time the two have shared a smile together in 45 years. More romantic, than depressing if you think about it.

So yup, in case you couldn’t understand by now, Payne usually excels in these types of movies, and this movie only proves that statement as fact, although it surely wouldn’t be the clear-cut example I’d use in a prestigious argument, if and whenever I found myself in one.

The idea of whether or not this whole “winning one million dollars” stipulation is really a scam, or something that Woody actually received, doesn’t quite matter, as it’s used as a stepping-stool for showing what America’s past-time was like, and still is to this day. Some may be surprised by this, but I actually do have friends and family living out in some of the rural areas shown in this movie, which not only gave me a closer-connection to it, but also made me feel like all of the raw, rather saddening vibes this movie was giving off, were deserved. This is a snap-shot of America that we don’t usually see depicted in the movies, and even if we do, it’s usually dollied-up to make it look like a Southern bumpkin town that’s full of all sorts of fun and happenin’ events.

But not in this movie it ain’t! Instead, what we do get a glimpse at is an area of our nation that’s worn-out, tired, broken-down, sad and just waiting to be blown off the world, much like most of the people that inhabit the cities are. They’re on their last limbs and looking down the barrel already, and yet, they still continue to live their lives, as happily and as winningly as they can. That’s what I noticed when I visited my relatives all of those years ago, and that’s the same exact feeling I got from this movie; they didn’t care where they lived or what it was that surrounded them, they were just happy to be alive and doing the things that they do. Even if those “things” simply meant going outside, finding a chair, sitting in it and watching the cars go by, then so be it. They’re just living, man. And so should you!

Anyway, Payne’s raw emotions of what the center-core of America is really like, rang true with me. However, there’s one glaring difference between this movie and all of his others, which became more and more evident as it went along: He’s only the director here, whereas the writing duties are given to Bob Nelson this time around. To be honest, I kind of feel like a d-bag for having a problem with this aspect, considering that most of the movie does in fact feel like an Alexander Payne movie, but there was still something missing for me that could have gotten it over that hump into where I’d be fully taken in by the material, no matter how dry it was.

See, the whole movie plays out with this soft, rather mundane tone that evokes plenty of emotions of what the people out in the Midwest most likely feel on a day-to-day basis. That part of the movie worked well and showed Payne’s talents in full-fledged form; however, when things began to get a bit too theatrical and sentimental, something didn’t feel right. Because on one hand, you have this movie that’s playing out is if its real life, where conversations don’t really start and they don’t really end neither; and then on the other, you have this one movie that seems like it wants to be a heartfelt tale about an estranged son and his daddy reconnecting after all of these years of not really seeing one another, or even “getting” each other when they did see the other. So basically, you have these two different movies, that sort of want to say the same thing, but can’t. They’re directions are driving them out in different ways, but somehow, are meant to be reconnected in the end by the fact that we all want to see a happy ending, even if it is a realistic one. To me, this didn’t quite mix as well, and probably would have been better if Payne took over writing-credits in the first place.

Like with most of Payne’s movies too, the people he chooses for his casts may not be the most famous, notable names in the world, but they’re still inspired choices nonetheless, and nothing could ever be further from the truth than here with whom we have here. It makes sense that Payne would mostly cast little-to-unknown names and faces in this movie, because it goes almost hand-in-hand with a premise that’s as simple as you could get, with a look that’s not really trying to reinvent-the-wheel or anything. It’s just trying to tell a honest, easy-going story, with characters that deserve one. Especially a character like Woody Grant, played to utter-perfection by an Oscar-hopeful Bruce Dern.

A man at his crossroads. No, literally.

A man at his crossroads. No, literally.

Most may know the name (father of Laura), but some won’t be able to match the face at all. And that’s fine, because it actually works a lot more in Dern’s favor since he’s able to sink his teeth into Woody, the type old-corker that you see in these movies and is usually played-up for laughs, but instead, gives us a raw look at a man that’s been through mostly thick and thin with his life, and is about sick and tired of it. However, he never lets you know that he’s a sad, old fella. You can tell just by looking into his eyes, or listen to the tone in his speech, whenever it is that he actually does in fact say something. Woody’s just your normal senior-citizen who wants to make some more meaning out of his life, and feels like these million dollars may just be the main resource to help him fulfill that dream, regardless of it’s real or not. Dern’s great here and shows us why he deserves bigger, and far better roles than what he’s been given through his long career. Most likely, this will be the role to ensure that.

Same goes for June Squibb, the hard-spoken wife of Woody, Kate, who may also be looking at a nomination by the end of the year as well. Squibb is so great here because she’s nasty, mean, lean and not afraid to speak her mind. She can be a bit of an old, haggy bitch when she gets on Woody’s case for doing something, but when she backs him up when all of these other people seem to try and schmooze him out of getting a cut of the money, you feel a certain ounce of sympathy for her, as you know that she loves her husband, but most importantly, she loves her family and won’t stop at anything to protect them. You love her when she’s making you laugh by letting everybody know how she feels at any given moment, and you love her even more when she shows that there’s an actual feeling of emotion she has for her fam-squad, which brought a bit of a tear to my eye.

As for Will Forte, the one who clearly doesn’t have the most experience when it comes to subtle, dramatic-acting, the guy ends up doing pretty damn well. Granted, he isn’t really stretching himself far beyond his limits, but the guy still shows us that he can be funny, even while he is being earnest, proving that the guy does have some real comedic-timing. Same can be said for Bob Odenkirk, who plays his brother, Ross. Then again though, I feel like most of you already know that by now.

Consensus: In his whole list of lovely gems, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska may not be the best, but it’s still an honest, funny and well-acted look inside the lives of people who don’t really do much with their lives, and yet, are still very interesting to watch and just hang around with.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Whose line is next?"

“Whose line is next?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Citizen Ruth (1996)

CitizenRuthNever would have happened if the people involved weren’t silly, and just wrapped their willies. Or, I guess just “willy”.

Poor old Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern). Not only is she homeless, addicted to huffing paint on a regular-basis, and not able to see her kids, but now she’s pregnant with her fourth child. And trust us, four is enough for her, and lord, even she knows it. That’s why she plans on having an abortion as soon as possible, that is, until the “Baby Savers” get ahold of her and try to make her keep it, all in the good lord’s name who don’t really seem to care about her or the baby, they just want the publicity that somebody is listening to their ways and not thinking otherwise. But Ruth knows that she wants to get rid of the baby, so she then gets taken in by the pro-choice group that actually had a spy (Swoosie Kurtz) in the pro-life group. At first, things with the pro-choice group seem all fine and dandy, with Ruth getting all sorts of lovely treatment in hopes that she’ll get rid of the baby and stick to their side, however, things change around once the pro-life group offers her $15,000 to keep the baby and let it live. And then, the whole deal gets changed around again once pro-choicers offer her the same amount, if not more to get rid of it. What’s poor old little Ruth to do when she has all of this money being waved around in her face, and a baby still in her stomach? My oh my, questions, questions, questions.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen just about all of his movies that Alexander Payne sure does love to poke fun at people. But already in the year 2013, we know this. Back in 1996, nobody had a clue what this guy was capable of doing, or even what his name was. All that they knew was that there was a movie out, that dealt with abortion, starred Laura Dern and that was basically it.

Exactly what I do on an airplane. Minus the blue paint. That is unless I'm not sitting in first-class. In that case, I just huff the hell away.

Exactly what I do on an airplane. Minus the blue paint. That is unless I’m not sitting in first-class. In that case, I just huff the hell away.

And over 17 years later, that’s all people still know of it as and quite frankly, rightfully so.

While I can’t get on Payne’s case too much considering that this was his first movie, I will say that he does go for the gull when it comes approaching the topic on-hand. It doesn’t matter how many years go by, the abortion debate will always be one up for much discussion and controversy, and it’s how funny Payne turned that on its side in a satirical way, highlighting both sides to the best of his ability. Of course it’s easy to poke fun at the heavy-duty Christians that pray to the lord, hail him as the almighty and banish all those who decide to kill their babies to hell, but it never seemed so easy to poke the same type of fun at the liberals on the other side of the coin, which is what really shocked me here. Rather than showing which side he’s on more, he sort of just lets them both speak for themselves, with them both seeming greedy and ill-tempered, yet well-intentioned, as if what they are doing is what they truly believe in as the right way to go about things in your daily-life. Their only problem is that they don’t know how to go about it in a nicer way.

That said, the movie definitely doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know about the subject of abortion, the people that get them, perform them or support them as an action. Mainly, the movie just gives us a story about a girl who gets caught in the middle of this whole media-frenzy where she and her baby are the center of attention, and the topic of abortion is lingering over it. While I do, once again, give Payne credit for spinning this in a way to where it plays both sides view-points in a sympathetic, fair manner, the movie itself just never got over that hurdle for me to where I was totally, and utterly involved.

Plenty of food-for-thought if you think about how far we’ve come as a society in discussing the topic of abortion, but that’s all it is: A thinking piece. Sure, we have characters, character-development, a witty script and even some heartfelt insights to the way humans interact, think and get their points across, but they all just feel like filler for the real attraction of this whole movie: Abortion. I know it sounds terrible to use that as a selling-point for a movie, but it seems like that’s what the creators behind this movie did, which doesn’t matter it any better. It just makes it a smart decision in order to get your movie seen and noticed by dozens of people, which is why I have to give more credit to Payne.

Good job on the advertising, bud. Not-so good job on the final-product itself. Oh well. You picked yourself back up in the years to come, so all is forgiven.

Like what my mommy did when I was still in her belly. And look what good that's done me!

Like what my mommy did when I was still in her belly. And look what good that’s done me!

But where this flick really feels like a total disappointment is in the way that it wastes a very talented cast, giving them material that feels like a bunch of ham-handed speeches that do have a point, but are shown to us in the wrong format. For instance, you have great character actors like Kurtwood Smith, Swoozie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place and even M.C. Gainey showing up, looking like they’re going to bring some of their miraculous personalities to the script, but in reality, all they do is become victims of Payne’s preaches. They all do what they can to make the material worth more than just a series of thought-provoking lines, speeches and discussion-starters, but overall, they just succumb to the problems and are left with nothing else to do.

And then of course we have Laura Dern as Ruth, and as talented as this gal may be, she too can’t help but become a victim to the weak-material, if not even worse due to how annoying her character can be at times. I get that Ruth is supposed to be a despicable piece of a white girl trailer-trash, however, there could have been more substance to her than what we got. Once again, Dern’s performance is another case where we have a terribly talented actress, given this piece of material that has reaching for the stars, but ends up coming down empty-handed with nothing to show. Well, except for maybe a spot on her resume that shows she’s got those indie-chops.

Consensus: Payne never chooses a side to stick with in Citizen Ruth, and is the smartest decision he makes throughout the whole entire movie, which brings up a lot of smart, thought-provoking points about the abortion debate, but ends up being just that, no substance added or involved.

5 /10 = Rental!!

Like I always say, "Bring Burt Reynolds in to liven things up. Just make sure he has his 'stache."

Like I always say, “Bring Burt Reynolds in to liven things up. Just make sure he has the ‘stache.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB

Jurassic Park (1993)

Dinosaurs never have been, and never will be the same.

Two dinosaur experts, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler Laura Dern), are invited to test out a soon-to-be theme park from a millionaire named John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). Hammond has it all: he’s got the glitz, the glamour, the look, the style, and most surprisingly; he has dinosaurs. That’s right those things that you thought were exterminated almost 70 million years ago are in Hammond’s park, and are causing a ruckus like you’d expect. However, when that ruckus turns from playful to deadly in a matter of 24 hours, all hell breaks loose and it’s time for everybody to get their asses the hell of that damn island.

It’s been a long, long time since I made a return to this wonderful, but scary island but it was still a trip worth taking, even if it was in 3D this time around. Here’s the thing about the 3D since most peeps will want to know right off the bat: it’s nothing worth even talking about (even though that is exactly what I’m doing). The 3D is cool at times and definitely makes you feel as if you are a lot closer to the action than ever before, especially when it’s just jumping right out at you, but other than that; it’s nothing special that would really make me want to go out and see it, again and again. Even though I did see it in theaters, it was all because it was free, early in the a.m., and best of all, with my daddy waddy. Father-son bonding. Ain’t nothing else like it.

Aside from the 3D elements that are relatively lackluster at best, let me just get back with the movie and say that it’s still as fun and entertaining as much as it was all those years ago I watched it as a kid. I remember being scared of the big-ass dinos, I remember gripping my seat when those kids were running all-over-the-place in that kitchen, and I especially remember those freaky fuckers that used to spray poison/venom out of themselves, just as soon as they gave you the warning sign to “run the fuck away, now!”. Fond memories going into this movie and I was so happy to see none of them really tarnished, even if some glaring problems come in the way now that I’m a more sophisticated, and uppity-uppity film critic.

Lights off, idiot!

Lights off, idiot!

Some of the problems I seemed to have had with the script was not that it was lame or anything, it’s fine for what it is and what it tries to do, it’s just that when the initial plot where there is running, chasing, and panic all throughout the area, I felt like it could have been handled better, and written better without all of the plot inconveniences  For instance, the character of John Hammond just seemed like an idiot for even bothering opening up this park, for one reason and one reason only: there’s not enough security. The fact that the dippy was even thinking of opening up this park, where dinosaurs can easily get out of their safe-spots, just by knocking down a couple of wires, seemed really idiotic to me and not something that a rich millionaire would even forget about. Then, it goes on about how he’s cloning these dinosaurs from other gene-pools and turning them all into female, even if that proves a problem for evolution within this park, along with the rising tensions. I get that the guy had a passion and inspiration to create this park and allow everybody to see it, but you got to think things through man before you go all nutso on us.

There’s other problems with the script in certain areas, but the fact of the matter is that this movie is still fun, still entertaining, and still freaky, despite being released almost 20 years ago. Shit, I was actually three months away from entering the world when this movie came out. I’m getting old, man. The movie holds up in many ways because it shows what Steven Spielberg can do when he has a vision and that includes having a ball with his material. Some of it is a tad serious, but rightfully so. It allows us to feel worried for these characters as they constantly try to run and hide from these dinos, without losing a leg, arm, shoulder, knee, or life. It’s pretty scary even after all of these years, but I like how Spielberg was able to transition it back-and-forth, between serious and fun. It’s not light entertainment by any stretch, but if you bring your kid to it, I highly doubt they’ll be scared for life. Granted, they may wet the bed every night and never, ever want to see a dinosaur again, but that’s just life my friend. Quite frankly, it’s your call if you want to take them to see it, not mine. So please, don’t sue me if the kid ends up in a nut-ward or a serial killer. Just saying.

Another factor of this movie that works and also shows how much fun Spielberg seemed to be having while filming was the ensemble-cast he was able to assemble and make ready for this “dinosaur on a rampage” flick. Might have been a hard-sell at the time, but somehow, the man was able to get a lot of heavy-hitters that are still doing great work, even to this day. Laura Dern and Sam Neill are good as the couple that loves dinosaur bones as much as they love each other, and are good at what they do, whether they be together or separate  Dern is good at playing-up that tough, female-role where she can do almost as much dirty work, if not more than the boys in town; whereas Neill is good at playing-up his role as the type of dude who doesn’t like kids and doesn’t even want him, but yet, finds himself almost acting like a daddy when the shit hits the fan. Bedtime stories and all.

"What a pretty puppet."

“What a pretty puppet.”

Samuel L. Jackson shows up and is good in his couple of scenes where he infamously utters the line, “Hold on to your butts.” A bit corny, but it’s classic because of Mr. Jackson. Or Samuel L. Whichever one that mofo desires. Despite the problems I had with his dumb-ass character, screen-vet Richard Attenborough was actually very good at giving us a glimpse into a man that has too much money, too much ambition, but not enough smarts to fully think things through. I felt bad for him, until I realized that he allowed his grand kids to show up for this wonderful weekend. I guess he won’t be invited to Christmas din-din any time soon. And lastly, need I not forget about the one, the only, Mr. Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, aka, the rock-star scientist who always lays low, always lays cool, and always has something hilarious or witty to say. It’s classic-Goldblum, whadda ya expect?!?

Consensus: Though the extra-dimension isn’t needed, Jurassic Park still holds up as one of the best, and most entertaining Spielberg flicks because he never seems to lose that fun-aspect that makes it such a ride (they actually have a pretty sucky one in Universal), and also the serious side to it all where you feel like anybody could die at any second, you just don’t know how to expect it coming. Trust me, not as gruesome as it sounds so show your kiddies and see what they have to say. Unless they get traumatized for the rest of their lives. Once again, don’t blame me for not listening to your inner-soul.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

If all parks ended their tours like this, family-trips wouldn't be so painful.

If all parks ended their tours like this, family-trips wouldn’t be so painful.

Happy Endings (2005)

Those only happen to women. They have all the luck and fun when it comes to massages.

It’s an interweaving of various stories, that all have to deal with issues such as money, adultery, sex, movies, relationships, being gay, being in a band, being a sperm-donor, being a parent, being a brother, being a step brother, being a step sister, and many, many more. Trust me, there’s a whole lot going on here with these people and self-indulgent their lives.

Awhile back, I was just lingering around on Netflix and I stumbled upon a little-flick called, The Opposite of Sex. Had no idea what it was, but I saw some good-buzz about it and decided to check it out. I liked it a lot and I dug what writer/director Don Roos brought to the game and how his story, as unpredictable and weird as it may be, was still pretty thought-provoking and had me interested in where it was going to go with itself. Sadly, I never got-around to actually reviewing it, but if I was to actually give it some sort of a rating, I would probably say it’s around an 8/8.5. Pretty high for a movie I just watched on a whim and that’s sort of why I was excited for this one, considering this was Roos’ return to the indie-game. Sadly, I think he left some of his “cool-parts” back in 1998, with a pregnant Christina Ricci. If only she was here, but Maggie Gyllenhaal is a good substitute, right?

What made this flick so interesting is that Roos takes all of these different stories, shows us how they relate to one-another, who these subjects are, and what exactly to expect from each and every one of them. However, it’s not just the way he sets-up these stories that make them all work, it’s how he keeps them interesting and alive through an lovely energy that is apparent through Roos’ writing and direction, right from the start. We never know where these stories are going to go and how, we just know that they’re interesting to watch, for the most-part and Roos always finds a way to add in a great-deal of ironic, and sometimes, dark humor for fair-share to keep us alive and awake.

But as the funny as the stories may be, it’s the heart of this flick that actually does work and we begin to feel that all of these characters, as goofy and weird as they may be, still have an underlining sense of humanity to them that has them come-off as believable and it’s Roos’ caring treatment of them that works so well. Yeah, not everybody here is nice person and there are definitely some people who can be declared, “absolutely despicable”, but they always felt real to me. No matter how far they may have went with their actions, and motivations for the acts that they chose, they still came-off as real people and I don’t know if that was because of the ensemble-acting, or because of Roos’ tender love and care for the actual characters themselves. It’s this frank depiction of humans, how they act, how they feel, and how they treat one another is what really resonated with me the most and even though I didn’t find myself crying as I sat and watched in my living-room, I still felt more of a connection than I ever expected.

Still, at the end of the day, I continued to think to myself, “Just what the hell was the point of all that?”. See, with Roos’ other flick, he goes to show-us that a sexual-gender shouldn’t make-up a person and their stances in life. That point is pretty obvious and not necessarily something we haven’t already seen or heard before, especially in a movie featuring homosexuals, but at least it went deeper and further than anything this movie was trying to shove-away. I don’t really even know what the whole-point of this movie was. I mean there is a lot of unpredictable moments here that sort of goes off to show how life can be so unpredictable at times, and how gay people are just like you or me, but at the end of the day, I never really “got it”.

Oh no she did not just bring up ex's?!?!

Oh no she did not just bring up ex’s?!?!

Maybe Roos was working on some sort-of higher-standard than I may have imagined, but nothing really hit me as hard as I would have liked. It’s even worse when you consider how much this guy seems to get in the way of his actors and their skills, when he constantly has a screen pop-up on the side, to tell us what happens to the characters, their motivations, and thoughts in almost half-of-the-scenes. Once, twice, or maybe even three times is fine, but it continues to pop-up every 10 minutes, just when Roos believes that his characters motivations aren’t as clear as he wants them to be. It gets in the way of actors, the audience, and most of all, the message as to what the hell is the point for focusing on all of these characters, who’s lives are as unpredictable as a sex orgy.

Even though he tries to get in the way, a bit too much I think, Roos still always allows his ensemble to give-off some great performances, especially ones from people I never expected to see ever. Tom Arnold was great as the subdued and subtle aging-father, that is sort of coming to terms with the fact that he’s getting older and starting to lose his grip when it comes to sex, love, or even being a hip and cool father like he once was. Seeing Arnold in a very-rare, dramatic-role really gives me more hope for this guy that he can do movies like these and actually make a thing or two out of not being all corny and trying to come-off as funny. Just be normal, dude, it works for ya.

Another performance here that I wasn’t expecting to like is the one given-by Jesse Bradford as the hipster-like, documentary filmmaker that is like every other young, hip person aspiring to make a living off of movies: dirty, broke, and very all-over-the-place. Bradford has never really been a stand-out in the acting-department, but the guy shows that there is more to him than just another pretty face and I actually liked his character a lot more than I ever expected to. I don’t think I’ve seen another performance from this guy that was ever really good, or hell, worth mentioning, but here, he was great with what he could do with such an obvious, and a tad thinly-written character. He still looks like he’s 15, though, I gotta give him that.

"Don't mind Uncle Stevies British-wit. They all have that."

“Don’t mind Uncle Stevies British-wit. They all have that.”

Perhaps the best out of this whole cast, and probably to nobody’s surprise is Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jude, the one and only gal that comes into this story to fuck shit-up. Gyllenhaal is great with roles like these because she uses her brass and raw-attitude to really make you despise a character who has such dirty intentions like hers, but also feel an ounce of sympathy for her as well. Jude is probably the meanest character out of this whole-bunch and ended-up staying on my mind the most, even though I have no idea just what the hell Roos was trying to say about her. At the end of the movie, we get to see these characters, where they are today, and whether or not they actually received *ahem*, “happy endings” of sorts, and there is an extra-emphasis on her character and what she’s been up to as of late. It’s weird because they make such a big-deal out of it, with very little rhyme nor reason, just the fact that she’s there to be the shit-stirrer of the whole story, for no reason. Gyllenhaal is great, but it’s really confusing as to what the hell Roos was trying to make sense out of a character like hers in the beginning of it all.

Consensus: Happy Endings starts off perfectly and keeps your attention the whole-way through, but never seems to go any further than to just make us laugh, make us feel a bit emotionally-invested in what we see, and actually realize that Tom Arnold can act. I don’t know if there was anything more than that, but if there was, I couldn’t find it.

7/10=Rental!!

"Sit back. Relax. And feast your eyes on my finest acting-performance to date."

“Sit back. Relax. And feast your eyes on my finest acting-performance to date.”

The Master (2012)

Move over Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise officially has a new arch-enemy.

A charismatic intellectual named Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) launches a religious organization following World War II. A drifter named Freddie Quell  (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes his right-hand man, but as the faith begins to gain a fervent following, the drifter finds himself questioning the belief system and his mentor.

Whether you’re a Scientologist and have been waiting to protest outside of every movie theater across the nation, have been waiting to see the return of “normal” Joaquin Phoenix, or have been waiting to see what writer/director P.T. Anderson has kept himself busy with over the past 5 years, chances are, you’ve been pretty amped for this flick, as well as I have been. I mean hell, I reviewed two movies, from the same director, for the past two days! I rarely do that, and I was definitely willing to make an exception for this guy just because he once again, proves that he is one of the best directors we have working in America today. Without a doubt.

One thing that could be said about this tale (but not taken away from, however) is that a lot of it plays out in the same vein as There Will Be Blood. Don’t believe me? Okay, well think about this: instead of oil, you have religion; instead of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, you have religion-starter Lancaster Dodd; instead of the loose-cannon Eli, you have the loose-cannon Freddie; and instead of the relationship between Daniel and Eli being at the fore-front, you have the relationship between Freddie and Lancaster. The only difference here is that Freddie and Lancaster actually seem to get along with one another, rather than drinking each other’s milkshakes. But I digress.

Whatever way you want to look at this film, you cannot deny the artful skill and compelling nature that lies behind every frame of this movie that Anderson beautifully constructs. From a technical standpoint, this film honestly could not be any better as certain scenes will just have you forgetting about what’s going on screen by how beautiful and wonderful they look. Anderson captures the look and feel of the 50’s as if he actually took a DeLorean back to those days, along with his film crew, and just started filming right on the spot. The long landscape shots that Anderson captures are even more beautiful and breathtaking as the ones he took in There Will Be Blood and I highly suggest you see it in the 70MM way it was meant to be seen in. I would like to complain and say that it was almost distracting how wonderful this film looked sometimes because it really does take your eyes off the action at-hand, but I can’t diss art and that’s exactly what Anderson has painted here.

Then of course, you got the score from Johnny Greenwood that uses the same exact trifling with sounds as he used in There Will Be Blood, but this time almost plays out a bit differently as Anderson gets back into the grand scheme of things by allowing pop-music to ironically poke it’s head into some key scenes that will probably fit any type of emotion Anderson was going for in the first place. No, there’s no Sister Christian or Aimee Mann songs to jam out too, but still some nice quality tunes that shows Anderson is the perfect guy for when it comes to meshing music with scenes.

One of the biggest buzzes surrounding this flick is whether or not this is Anderson’s take on the early days of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. There are a whole bunch of similarities between “The Cause” and Scientology, but Anderson never seems like he feels the need to go so far and just openly describes what it is and that was a pretty brave step coming from Anderson as he could have taken as many cheap-shots as he wanted to with this subject material. However, this does give him plenty of room and opportunity to talk about religion and whether or not this “Cause” is actually good for any of the people that follow it. You can tell that these people love being able to believe in something that makes them feel like they live in a beautiful and wondrous world, but at the bottom of it all though is the fact that some of this may just be all based on a bunch of lies. But still, even though this seems like an area that Anderson can get into and almost badger the hell out of, he smartly doesn’t and allow the viewers to make up their own interpretations about whether or not this religion is the right one to follow. Once again, another brave move by Anderson and shows you why he is in fact, one of the smartest-working writers and directors on the planet. That’s right, ON THE PLANET.

But as much as this film may seem to be about this underground religion and all of the effects it has on its people, this film is really all about the relationship between the two main characters: Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd. Both are very, very different from one another as one is the leader of a smooth-talking, happy-all-the-time “religion”, and the other one is just a drifter who can never seem to control his anger, or his drinking for that matter. This contrast between the two characters is probably one of the most interesting and entertaining aspects of this whole flick because we see them both work wonders for each other in ways that we thought weren’t even imaginable from the first meeting the two. They actually care for each other and both want what’s best for them, even if they don’t fully make it work every single time they try. One scene that comes to my mind the best when I think of the relationship between the two is when Dodd actually tells the cops to not hurt Freddie, even after he continues to beat the ever loving crap out of them all. It’s one of the most memorable scenes in the whole film not because it’s a turning-point for the whole direction in where the story was headed, but because it shows you the depths of the relationship these two have together.

What I think makes the relationship between them both the most memorable, is the fact that they are played so brilliantly by its two leads: Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was so damn happy to see Joaquin back in full-on acting mode because it’s performances like these that make me realize the type of talent this guy has that shouldn’t be wasted on a faux-rap career. Phoenix is mesmerizing as Freddie Quell because he brings all of that vent-up frustration and strangeness that he had with his “character” in I’m Still Here, and let’s that play-out in a way that’s as memorable as it is compelling. You can tell that this guy is going to flip any chance he gets the chance to and it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t have the best conscience out there, either. However, there are a couple of key scenes that show Freddie in a very sympathetic light that may have you understand why this guy is always so off his rocker. He comes off as a fully-realized character that has plenty of sides to him and you honestly can’t take your eyes off of. This performance is nowhere near the type of actor’s play-day performance Daniel Day-Lewis had with Plainview, but it’s still something that’s worth loving and remembering come Oscar time.

Then, you got Hoffman playing the type of Plainview-like character as Lancaster Dodd, a character that couldn’t have honestly been played by anybody else except for Hoffman. Hoffman does a great job with Dodd because he plays the character, like a guy that has so much charisma, so much heart, and so much warmth to him that it makes you realize why everybody feels so close to him that they could follow him and every word he speaks out. He’s almost reminiscent of Orson Welles in a way of how he’s all tight-lipped with his speeches and rarely ever loses his cool, but when he does, it’s one of the more memorable scenes since we see this character slowly start to unravel right in front of our eyes. It’s not like this character is treated like an evil piece of crap that nobody should care for, but is instead shown off to be a guy that believes in his own way of life and wants to spread that across to everybody else. Yeah, that could be viewed at as a bad thing but the film never quite portrays it as that and it’s another brave step Anderson was not only able to take with this story, but this character that Hoffman has also fully-realized in his own charismatic way.

Some may be surprised to see that Amy Adams doesn’t have a bigger role here as Dodd’s wife, Peggy, but does a nice job giving her character a very dark turn that I wasn’t expecting in the least bit. Still, out of the other two, she sort of comes off as the weakest-link and could have used a bigger and better role to be more substantial to everything that’s going on and the plot itself. Everybody else is good here too, and I like how Anderson made every character in this cast worth something and have their own moment, even if it may only be for a second or two.

So, here I am, going on and on and on about this flick and how amazing it is and you are probably sitting there wondering, “Oh em gee! Is he going to give it the prized 10/10 I haven’t seen in God knows how long??!?!”. Well, no. Sorry to burst your bubble everyone but this film did still have some problems in its own right and it’s that I think the emotional connection for this film was a bit more off this time around, probably due to the fact that the story is always weaving around and whatnot. With Daniel Plainview, it was easier to follow this character and know him for all that he was because it mostly just about him doing his own, evil thing, but here, the story goes back-and-forth between Freddie and Lancaster so much that it was a bit hard to build-up the tears when that ending came around. Also, there was this really strange scene that had to do with Amy Adams, Hoffman, and a bathroom that is still fresh in my mind because it made no sense and seems to be a bit misplaced in a film that seemed to really go for it all, in terms of being sane and keeping itself in reality. Still though, minor quibbles if you ask me.

Consensus: The Master could easily be a title that director P.T. Anderson is giving himself, because that is exactly what this guy is. Everything from the visuals, to the landscapes, to the score, to the performances, to the fully-developed story, to the religion movement; all are done with the masterful craft of Anderson and is sure to be one of the films to watch out for, come Oscar season.

9/10=Full Price!!

Everything Must Go (2011)

Ron Burgundy really does love Scotch.

The story revolves around Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell), a career salesman who gets fired, for falling off the wagon one last time. He returns home to discover his wife has left him, kicked him out of his own house and dumped all his possessions out on the front yard. Faced with his life imploding, Nick puts it all on the line – or more properly, on the lawn – reluctantly holding a yard sale that becomes a unique strategy for survival.

Anybody coming into this film expecting, yet another, yuckfest from Ferrell will probably be let-down right off the bat. However, if you’re going into this expecting another Stranger Than Fiction, you will probably get what you want, without the Emma Thompson narration.

This is a very impressive debut from Dan Rush because he initially takes a simple story of a guy, who is down-on-his luck and suffering from alcoholism, and gives it a fresh and lighter approach to make this story more interesting. I don’t want to go out there and say this is a comedy per se, but there are quite a bunch of humorous moments that work and bring a light feel to this film even when it steps into darker territory. This darker territory worked though because you actually feel for Nick and all of the problems that he’s going through, so when you see him getting the temptation of getting a drink, you can’t help but feel scared for the guy and hope that he doesn’t do what you think he’s about to do. Rush does a very good job at actually making us care for this character and his life, even though, deep down inside, he is a very sad and lonely man that can’t really be cured of his problems unless he cures himself.

Where the film really got me at was how Rush makes this story a lot more touching than I actually expected. The whole theme with this story is about how we are all lonely people in this world, and we somehow need to connect with others in order to feel less lonely. It’s a very real theme and one that works well for this movie’s subject matter, but what really had me going were some of the scenes that Rush puts in here that work and make you feel something. One scene in particular is when Nick goes to visit an old girlfriend, played by the stunning Laura Dern, and the whole scene is on for about 2 minutes but it’s the most touching and realistic scene of the whole flick that makes you realize; “maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel after all”. Really nice touch by Rush and also, especially by Dern.

The film does have its problems though, especially when it came to its metaphors. I knew exactly what the film was going for and what it was trying to say, but sometimes this flick does hit us over the head a little too much with what it’s trying to throw at us. Scenes like when Nick is walking past a Quick Mart and keeps on staring at it, wanting a beer, or when his old boss leaves him a drink in the bathroom of a place and he’s there, contemplating on whether or not to drink it. Some of those scenes were pretty obvious and bothered me but thankfully, they aren’t all there. Also, the pacing can be a little slow and actually reminded me a bit of The Descendants, where I felt like the film started up, then slowed down, then started up, then slowed down, and continued to do the same thing for the whole time-limit. A little bothersome but when you think about the whole product, it’s pretty minor.

Most people will probably realize that this isn’t Will Ferrell playing his usual “Frank the Tank” roles and may even consider this stunt casting, but it’s so much better than that. Ferrell has the charisma in his acting to give such a dark character, more likability than he has any right to be. The character he’s playing, Nick, can be very mean, very drunk, and very sad but Ferrell is able to bring a lot of humanity and heart out of this guy without ever over-doing it. In fact, the moments where his character is barely saying anything, are still powerful just because Ferrell is able to convey so many emotions just by sitting there and looking lonely. Very subtle and very strong performance from Mr. Burgundy.

The rest of the cast that surrounds him is also pretty damn good such as Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie’s son) playing a young kid that decides to help Nick with his Yard Sale/life; Rebecca Hall as a pregnant, but lonely, housewife who misses her hubby; and the always reliable, Michael Peña as Nick’s sponsor. It’s a small cast but a very effective one at that.

Consensus: People expecting another Will Ferrell laugh-out-loud comedy will probably be disappointed, but anyone who wants a sad, but inspirational story, featuring plenty of touching moments and good performances from the cast, will probably feel happy with the final product they have here with Everything Must Go.

8/10=Matinee!!

We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004)

How oblivious can people be?!?!

Two married couples (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern, Peter Krause and Naomi Watts) who have been close friends for years find that dynamic irrevocably changed when two of them (Ruffalo and Watts) have an affair. Things get even more complicated when their spouses find out and have an affair of their own.

Director John Curran, who directed Stone, seems like he does the same thing with both films. He has great stars in their roles, interesting enough premise, and shows early promise, but then he soon loses it all. Here, he doesn’t quite lose everything but still too much than I expected.

Right from the get-go you know this film is just going to be confrontational, tense, and a tad awkward by how these two married couples inter-act with each other, and to be honest, it gets almost worse in a way. There are times when the arguments here seem so realistic and honest that it’s at a point where I wondered if the writing team behind this all just cheated on their wives at one point and had these actual conversations.

The film also does a good job at not taking sides. We get to see everybody’s view-point on all this “screwing around” and each one seems pretty reasonable. It was also a very detailed look into how each spouse treats each other differently, which can be both good and bad, but usually the later. It was kind of sad to see these people actually not care about these infidelities until it’s almost too late and the damage has already just about been done. It’s sad to see this but at the same time, very good to see because it’s believable and a film like this, definitely needed that.

However, Curran starts to get a little too carried away here and this is where I think the film falls apart. He has these random little moments of silence and odd imagery that is supposed to create some sort of background into these people’s lives and show the impact of this infidelity it has on these couples. To me, this seemed really annoying because I didn’t know what Curran was trying to get across and I wish they actually focused more on the scenes of these people having realistic arguments, which may seem a little odd for me to say but it would have worked if they had more.

There were also moments here where the film I think had times where it just dragged on and on with nothing really exciting happening. The film just feels like it moves along a steady pace with nothing really happening other than these couples being awkward with each other, and not really saying anything else other than how they don’t want to get caught or anything of that cheating nature. I also realized that there is barely any humor whatsoever in this film, and some people say you have to look closer for it. However, I looked as hard as I could, I found nothing humorous here.

The cast is the real benefit of this whole film and I have to say they did a splendid job of casting as well. Mark Ruffalo is great as Jack because the whole film he just carries this look of sadness, anger, and confusion through the look of his eyes the whole movie and gives us a lot of depth for his character. Laura Dern is also great in this role as Jack’s wife, Terry, because I never knew exactly what she was going to do next and I think that is always something you need when you’re playing the always upset wife of a dude who’s sleeping around; Naomi Watts is also good as Edith because the whole time she seems very remorseful about her actions, but just can’t stop and shows a huge deal of sadness to her character as well; and the weak link in this cast is actually Peter Krause as Hank but not because it’s badly-acted, it’s just because Hank is such a one note character the whole time and never shows any real emotions other than just being cool I guess.

Consensus: The script shows brutal honesty, powerful characters, and some sad moments of a broken-marriage, but We Don’t Live Here Anymore suffers from moments that just seem too far-fetched and others that don’t entertain as much as they do just depress the viewer.

6/10=Rental!!