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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Martin Sheen

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)

It’s like they say, “Your best movies, are the ones that come close to killing you.” Even though, yeah, they don’t.

After making not just the Godfather Part I, but Part II in the span of a nearly two years, Francis Ford Coppola could basically do whatever the hell it is that he wanted, with as much money, with whomever, and wherever. That’s when he decides to take up adapting Heart of Darkness, the novella that had been a long passion-project of Coppola’s, but needed some extra push to get off the ground. Eventually, he got it, but in this case, it wasn’t what he, or anyone else was expecting. Needless to say, without saying too much, one lead actor gets a heart-attack, another gets recast about halfway through, one is filmed in a drunken-stooper, one lies about his age to get in the movie. But then, if you go past the usual actor stuff, you’ve also got the fact that the budget is running up the bill way more than it was supposed to, the Vietnam locals are getting pissed, the weather was absolutely awful and practically unlivable, and oh yeah, Coppola himself literally lost his mind.

Was it “method”?

The biggest joke about Hearts of Darkness would be that the resulting film of all this mayhem and madness, Apocalypse Now, turned out to be a bunch of crap that people put way too much of an effort into, for no other reason because they had to, or they thought what was right. But that’s what’s funny, because the movie turned out, dare I say it, almost perfect. All of the years spent filming, editing, and putting money into it, guess what?

At the end of the day, everyone went home happy.

But Hearts of Darkness isn’t a movie about what the final product ended up becoming, nor is it really about what everyone else thought about the movie, it’s mostly about the behind-the-scenes of everything that happened on, as well as off the set, and yeah, it’s just about as candid and as eye-opening as you can get with a documentary about so many big names and faces in Hollywood. With the assistance from Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper, believe it or not, Eleanor Coppola, Francis’ wife, is actually the perfect one to bring this table of absolute craziness to the big screen; she was, after all, there for it all, and her insight, while sometimes silly, focuses on things that probably mattered the most. While Francis was off worrying about how much fire was burning the trees down, Eleanor was worried that her husband was going to have a stroke and possibly die from all of the tension and turmoil in his life.

It’s not like she wants us to feel bad for her husband, but at the same time, she also wants to see it from more of a film-nerd’s perspective, where the control-freak director is always right for themselves, the movie, and everyone else around them. But still, just watching what happens behind-the-scenes here, and the things that we only hear small instances of, are truly insane, but draw you in even closer to the mind of Coppola, how he worked, and why he slaved away for so long to get this picture of his made and up on the big screen, for all the world to see and hopefully feast their eyes on.

It was the 70’s and it was hot, so maybe he wasn’t totally crazy.

And really, it all comes back to Coppola, someone who has become a pretty infamous figure in movie-making, only because it appears like his career has taken a huge turn downwards after he was put into debt for this project, as well as the many others to follow. For one, it’s interesting to see Coppola talk about this project, but also not think of him as a total ass; sure, he loves himself and his work, but can you blame him? The man has literally just made two of the greatest movies of all-time and was onto making another, so maybe he’s allowed to kiss his own ass, eh?

If so, it still brings up the question: How much is too much?

Eleanor and the movie as a whole, brings this point up many times and makes us think, whether we’re on his side for going so far as he did, to make sure that this movie was complete and actually worked to his vision, or, if he was just way too artistically-driven in the first place? See, it would be a problem if the movie didn’t turn out to be such a classic, but it somehow did and it makes us not just think, but wonder: Where has that same artistic integrity gone? And hell, when is it coming back?

Consensus: Eye-opening and thrilling to watch, especially if you’re a film-nerd, Hearts of Darkness will surely show you everything you need to see, hear, and understand about all of the craziness that went into making sure the final product turned into what it is seen as today.

8.5 / 10

Pictured: Cast and crew getting the hell out of Coppola’s rage.

Photos Courtesy of: Jonathan Rosenbaum

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Rules Don’t Apply (2016)

When you’re Howard Hughes and pissing in Mason jars, you can do whatever you want.

It’s 1958, and Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), a devout Baptist beauty queen from Virginia arrives in Hollywood, her eyes chock full of hopes, dreams and wonders of possibly taking over the movie world. She gets picked-up at the airport by Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), who will soon be her permanent driver and aspires to achieve the same sort of fame and fortune that Marla does, however, it’s a tad bit different. Together though, the two form a connection and affection for the man who is employing them both: Billionaire, womanizer, and famed aviator, Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty). They’ve both heard all of the crazy stories and don’t quite know what to believe about Hughes, but what they do know is that he’s a very hard man to see, track down, or better yet, even have something resembling of a conversation with. He’s so mysterious, that it’s almost like he doesn’t exist. However, the two eventually do cross paths with Hughes in some very odd, strange ways that change both of their lives forever and may also crush whatever it was that they expected from Hollywood in the first place.

After what’s been nearly two decades, it’s nice to have Warren Beatty back in our lives and on our screens, regardless of how short-lived it may be. As an actor, Beatty has always been a master at playing any sort of role, whether dark and dramatic, or light and fun, bringing the best to whatever flick he’s in. As a director, he’s far better. Ambitious, smart and always equipped with something to say, Beatty doesn’t just take on directorial projects for the hell of it – he needs to have a reason to tell a story and a certain passion within it.

He loves his hats.

He loves his hats.

Which is why for all its faults, flaws and obvious issues, Rules Don’t Apply, despite the awful title, still deserves a watch.

It’s unfortunate though, that Rules Don’t Apply has been in the works for so long, because it clearly shows; with nearly four editors on-tap here, there’s obvious moments where it seems like the movie was cut, pasted and messed around with way too much. Certain scenes play too long, too short, or sometimes, literally make absolute no sense. Does this have more to do with the directing/crafting of the movie itself, or more to do with how the movie was edited and perhaps made to reach some sort of arbitrary standard for the studios involved? Whatever the answer may be, it doesn’t matter; the fact remains that Rules Don’t Apply is still a pretty messy, uneven piece that has the look and feel of a movie that’s been tampered with one too many times.

Still, however, it’s a movie that deserves a watch, mostly because there are certain aspects and elements to it that are interesting and do work. Beatty seems to craft two different stories simultaneously; there’s the love blossoming between Marla and Frank, and there’s the crazy and wild persona of Howard Hughes that sometimes finds its way of getting between that. Aside from the other, they work and are incredibly compelling, but together, they don’t quite hit the same notes. Most of this has to do with it being very clear from the get-go that Beatty is more invested in Hughes himself and less of how Marla and Frank come together – their romance, while cute and sweet at times, also feels like a macguffin just to give us a sneak-peek into the secret and weird life of Hughes.

In a way, Beatty wants to explore the sheer hypocrisy and sadness that lies within such a system and place like Hollywood, where it seems like a lot of promises are made, a lot of money is thrown around, and a lot of people talk, but nothing actually happens or get done. It’s not necessarily original, but it is interesting to watch, mostly because we see it all play out through the dough-eyed eyes of Frank and mostly, Marla. But in another way, Beatty also wants to show us that someone as crazy, as insane and as certifiably nuts as Howard Hughes, did exist, have power, have control, had a whole lot of money, and mostly, got by in life based on the pure fact that he was labeled a “mysterious genius”. Rules Don’t Apply constantly seems to be battling with itself over what to say, but mostly, just ends up presenting two different sides to a coin that we’re not really sure about, which leaves it feeling slightly unfinished.

Still, it’s hard not to watch.

Don't be too happy, kiddies. Howie's always watching.

Don’t be too happy, kiddies. Howie’s always watching.

Beatty, the actor, seems to be having the time of his life as Hughes, lighting up the screen with his casual weirdness that we’ve never quite seen from him before. At nearly 80 years of age, it’s interesting to see Beatty try something new on for size and work with this odd, idiosyncratic person and give us a compelling performance; we feel as if we’re supposed to trust him because of how he speaks, but we also know that he’s insane and because of this, is unpredictable. Beatty plays at this idea very well and has us constantly wondering just where he’s going to go next with this performance and how it’s going to factor into the movie as a whole.

It also helps that Beatty doesn’t allow for his performance to get in the way of Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, who are both pretty amazing here. Though Ehrenreich seems to be on the rise what with the Han Solo movie coming up, it’s really Collins who surprised me the most, giving us a character who is so bright, so bubbly, so charming and so lovely, that it’s hard to imagine watching her dreams shatter before her very own eyes. If anything, a movie about her life and brief touch with stardom would have been its own move, but of course, Beatty himself does have different intentions and can’t seem to help himself, leaving Collins’ performance, while very good, seeming like a missed opportunity.

Then again, there’s a whole slew of others that seem to literally show up, do their thing and then leave, all with the drop of a hat. Certain players like Annette Bening, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick and Taissa Farmiga get a few scenes to help develop their characters a bit, but others like Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Amy Madigan, Steve Coogan, Dabney Coleman, Paul Schneider, Haley Bennett, and trust me, more, all have nothing to do. It’s as if they could have only shown up to film for a day and we’re allowed to have that scene put in. If that was the case, it’s impressive that Beatty was able to get such a wildly eclectic group of people to come out and work, but also a tad annoying cause all it does is add to an already rather stuffed flick.

Something Hughes himself probably wouldn’t have had a problem with.

Consensus: With so much going on, Rules Don’t Apply can’t help but seem uneven, but does benefit from a few good performances, as well as a welcome return from Beattty himself.

6.5 / 10

Behind every crazy man, is one who is trying so hard to translate everything that's being said.

Behind every crazy man, is one who is trying so hard to translate everything that’s being said.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, News Report Center

Badlands (1973)

Love will get ya sometimes.

15-year-old girl Holly (Sissy Spacek) doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life. However, when she meets the cool, calm, and rebellious boy in Kit (Martin Sheen), for some reason, she is absolutely swept off of her feet. Even though he’s a garbage man and doesn’t seem to really be able to hold a job down, there’s just something about Kit that takes over Holly’s mind, body and soul. However, her father (Warren Oates) isn’t too happy about this latest infatuation and makes it known that she will not be with him, nor will he be with her. That obviously doesn’t fly with Kit and it leads to a disastrous confrontation in which, now, Kit and Holly have to go on the run from the law. On their trip, not only do they fall more in love, but they teach each other about life and the more beautiful things about it. And, oh yeah, they also kill a lot of people, too.

Is this true love?

Is this true love?

It’s really interesting to see just where Terrence Malick’s career has gone as of late. Nowadays, it seems as if every picture he takes on and releases (regardless of how long they may actually take to come out), is as ambitious, crazy and unpredictable as the next, that it’s hard to ever get a full, crystal clear picture of where he’s going to go next, or just what’s going on in that noggin of his. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – some of the greatness to the Tree of Life is not having a clue just what the hell he’s going to do, or why, because he just does it.

But what’s weird, especially when watching Badlands, is how Malick, when he was first getting started, didn’t really seem to tackle these tales just yet. Sure, he definitely showed signs of it, more or less, but in all honesty, what he cared more about was telling a simple story that, yes, featured beautiful visuals, but also great acting. Badlands is, in the most simplest form, Malick’s most easygoing and accessible movie, however, it’s still got a lot of what Malick does best.

For one, it’s a heck of a beaut. While you can tell that Malick hadn’t quite mastered the art of the swooping camera just yet, Badlands still takes plenty advantage of that time when it’s so early in the morning, that the sun is hardly coming up and there’s nothing else in the horizon but clouds and the tops of mountains. I’m sure that having his movie set in and around South Dakota, as well as the mountains of Montana, helped in terms of making this movie look great, but it’s also just a true testament to the kind of eye he has as a director.

It’s nice to see that Malick hasn’t lost that ability since.

As for the story, well, yeah, it’s actually a very simple one, but what Malick does best is that he doesn’t really try to hit us over the head with saying anything big or important about it, but instead, just lets it all tell itself. While that may not seem like much and just a case of Malick sitting a round out, believe it or not, it actually works in the movie’s favor. Not only does it have us see these characters and their actions in an nonjudgmental, almost normal light, but it makes the brief, but shocking moments of violence and murder all the more disturbing.

Which is to say that Holly and Kit, given how easy it must have been to write them as, are still two compelling figures who you don’t really hate, but instead, think long and hard about. The fact that Malick portrays their actions as things that happen, rather than as huge moments that need to be shown and talked about, is why Badlands sticks around in the brain longer. Holly and Kit both seem to react to these acts of violence differently – he’s the one always doing it and not really happy about it, but knows that he can’t survive without it, whereas she has no clue of what’s going on, but is going along for the ride anyway.

Be prepared, suburbia!

Be prepared, suburbia!

The movie is clearly not in their favor, but Malick himself also doesn’t lose the appeal of these kinds of characters and why they’re worth watching. While he doesn’t glamorize either of their actions, he also makes it clear that they’re doing this, just because; sometimes, there’s no reason or rhyme for the things that us humans do. Sometimes, when we feel the need to kill, to survive, or to experience something, we go right for it. That’s exactly what Kit and Holly seem to be doing here, however, Malick isn’t telling us to think this and it’s probably one of the main reasons why this movie works a lot more than some of his others, later-period flicks.

Oh and yeah, Sheen and Spacek are pretty awesome in the roles, too.

Not only do they look young as all hell, but they also feel pretty legit as a real life couple of lovebirds who would latch up together and go on this wild goose chase from Johnny law. Sheen’s especially more riveting as Kit, someone who seems like he was just a bad seed from the very beginning, but always seemed to get by on his pure good looks and charm – something that the movie constantly makes a reference to, but never actually highlights as a positive. Instead, it works out for him because he uses his solid looks in a deceitful manner where he’s able to trick those around him, whether they expect it or not.

But maybe that’s why Kit’s such an intriguing character. He has no motive or reasoning for his shooting spree – he sort of just got started on doing it and thought, “Well, I’ve come this far”. For some reason, it’s hard to look at a character like this and not think of the countless, upon countless of those who shoot up public places every year, with the idea in their head of, “Well, why the hell not?” Once again, Malick isn’t trying to tell us to think this way, or have this in our minds, but it’s hard not to go there and it’s why Badlands is a movie that will surely stand the test of time.

No matter how many more movies Malick makes featuring dinosaurs.

Consensus: Simple on the surface, thought-provoking and compelling underneath, Badlands is a brutally violent, but beautiful-looking and acted movie that has Malick asking hard questions, without ever trying to answering them, and we’re all the better for it.

9 / 10

Sociopaths tend to enjoy lovely sunsets.

Sociopaths tend to enjoy lovely sunsets.

Photos Courtesy of: CTCMR

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Spiders can have problems, too.

The last time we left Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) he was just a punk, high school kid that had a smart and hot girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), a loving, supportive aunt (Sally Field), and was also saving the day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week as the web-slinging, wall-climbing, friendly neighborhood superhero known as Spider-Man. Yes, that little Peter Parker grew up to be quite a somebody and now that he’s graduated high school, he’s got to look forward – which means that some changes may have to be made. That means no more girlfriend; no more other priorities; and no more distractions to take him away from what really matters: Saving the day and finding out more about his parents’ pasts. However, he may have to put all of those plans on hold when Oscorp employee, and self-declared, Spider-Man’s number one biggest fan, Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) gets electrocuted and falls into a pool of electric eels, turning him into what some will know as “Electro”. He’s dangerous, but so is Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), the son of rich billionaire Norman (Chris Cooper) who has just recently passed-away due to a radiation infection, leaving his son all of the estate and plenty of power in the palm of his hands. Almost too much, some would say.

Growing up on the Raimi-Maguire Spider-Man movies, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Amazing Spider-Man. First of all, I knew it was all made as a way to ensure that Sony would be able to keep the rights to the Spider-Man name and brand, and because of that, was made and released literally five years after the original franchise ended. In my book, that’s way too soon, especially for a franchise that clearly was close to me, regardless of how crappy that third one-of-a-turd turned out to be.

Oh my gawd! We get it! You're in love! Now quite the PDA for gosh sakes!

Oh my gawd! We get it! You’re in love! Now quit the PDA for goshsakes!

Regardless, now that we have a sequel to the re-boot and unsurprisingly, I come off with a little bit of the same feelings that I had before: “Meh”. But this time, with a bit more oomph. Just a little bit.

See, I think where most of this movie’s charm comes from is in the way that Marc Webb does not give up on making a single-sequence here the least bit exciting or entertaining. Sure, the action scenes are a romp-and-a-half by how much CGI he’s able to throw at us, without ever making it seem like total overkill, but he’s even able to make the character-driven scenes pop with a little more energy than one would expect from something so up-and-moving all of the time. Which for a two-hour-and-twenty-minute-movie, can get a bit tiring, but considering that this movie begins with a car-chase through the streets of NYC, and ends with a mono-e-mono duel in the same place, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I got all of the action that I wanted, but not without the fun, of course.

That’s why Marc Webb, despite initially not knowing what to think of him as director for the first movie, really does deserves to keep this franchise under his name. At least for now; that is until he pulls a stunt like this and burns everybody’s corneas, as well as their memories of what a Spider-Man movie should be.

Sorry, people. I’ll still never be able to get over that. Never, ever.

Yet though, I find myself oddly perplexed by this movie because while it is definitely fun, exciting and thrilling, there’s still something about this story that feels a bit hollow, yet at the same time, totally shouldn’t be. It’s almost like the third Raimi movie, except that this time, it seems like everybody behind-the-camera is actually trying to make sure that they can make sense of all the numerous subplots, characters and conflicts, while also still being able to deliver the goods on the action-element of this movie. More often than not, the effort works and makes it seem as if this was created by those who care about making a lick of sense, but other times, it doesn’t really seem to matter what makes sense or what doesn’t, because there’s sometimes nothing really there.

For instance, this whole story is centered around the fact that Peter wants to discover more about his parents, their lives, their professions and why exactly they decided to leave him with his aunt and uncle on that one, fateful day. It makes sense why he would and it would have been able to bring out some raw emotions within Pete himself, but it never really does much except just have Pete running all around New York, skateboard in hand, eyes wandering all of the place and a confused-look on his face practically the whole time whenever he’s reading or seeing a hidden-document for the first time.

But that’s just me reaching for something that isn’t there, because basically, this is just a story about Peter Parker’s one crazy summer after high school ended. He gets to break-up, and get back together with his sweetheart numerous times; he gets a chance to hang out with old pals; he gets to walk around the streets; do his own laundry; talk-back to his aunt; be rebellious; swing; fight crime; beat-up baddies; and get in all sorts of trouble with those who are closest to him. That’s pretty much all there is to this story, but rather than make it as simple and easy as that, the movie decides to throw layer, upon layer, upon layer, until there’s too many layers to begin with. It’s almost like freakin’ ogres!

That said, it’s still entertaining to watch Pete do all of this fun and wacky stuff with his summer, because Andrew Garfield is such a joy to watch play him. I’ll admit it, I was a bit too hard on Garfield in the first movie, which may have to do with the fact that I was just getting over not being able to see Tobey don the red-and-blue jump-suit any longer. But now that I’ve been able to let it all sink in, I have to say that I was really astonished by how natural Garfield is in this role; he’s funny, without being brass; he’s charming, without being too cutesy; and he’s nervous, without being too fidgety. He’s the perfect 30-year-old to play an 18-year-old teenager, and it makes me happy to know that this kid could literally do this role for the next ten years or so, and I will not get bored once. He’s that good. Although, I’ll still stand by Tobey no matter what.

Always got your back, Tobes.

Always.

Joining Garfield once again is his real-life, off-screen-hottie Emma Stone, playing Gwen Stacy, the type of gal every guy in high school wanted to go out with, after high school was already over and done with. Stone, like Garfield, fits all of the perfect requirements with what makes her character lovable, as well as sympathetic, even when all sorts of chaos and mayhem is occurring around her and she refuses to leave. Don’t get it twisted though, because she’s not a damsel-in-distress by any means; sometimes, she may even know a little thing or two more than her boyf himself. That’s why it’s not only a blast to watch Stone do her thing and play, what is essentially way past her own, actual age, but to also see how her and Garfield make great use of their chemistry for the betterment of this movie and how its emotional-core is built stronger through them. Hell, it makes me even not want to see M.J. pop her little, red head in.

As for the villains, despite there being two more than the first movie, it never felt too over-crowded for me – just too much that was left undeveloped. More specifically in the case of Harry Osborne who, through Dane DeHaan, is able to become a bit of a punk-ass kid that has an attitude problem, but still doesn’t really reach the heights of “psychopath” that the movie so clearly and dearly wants him to reach for and grab. DeHaan is good in the role, however, it does seem like it’s his weakest to-date when he starts yelling and having to act all serious, yet goofy and over-the-top at the same time. Regardless of whatever else the guy’s done in the past couple of years, being both “goofy” and “over-the-top” is not a right fit for him, and I felt like somebody should have known that right from the get-go. He tries with it, but by the end, I felt like Willem Dafoe was bound to pop-out of the infamous mirror at any second.

Could have swore I saw this guy on the subway the other night.

Could have swore I saw this guy on the subway the other night.

The better villain of the three is Jamie Foxx as Electro, which moreso has to do with the way the FX team really paid close attention to this character and making him work in every which way. Foxx is fine when he’s Max Dillon, because he’s in human-form and we’re able to see him actually act, but once he becomes Electro, all we really see is some glowing, blue-light floating around from place-to-place, blasting everything with his magic hands. We know this too, because everytime Electro does blow shit up, something like Skrillex blasts through the speakers and makes it seem like you’re not necessarily in a theater, but a wild and crazy rave. Sadly, without the ecstasy.

Still though, as much as I may make a joke about it, the creators behind this really felt confident enough with Electro in terms of the way he looks, acts and proposes a threat to Spidey, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just give him his own movie and leave all of the Green Goblin and Rhino stuff until a tad bit later? Oh yeah, and speaking of Rhino, well, I think I’ve already said too much. Just see the movie and you’ll know what I am talking about.

Consensus: May have handled more than it rightfully should have, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 squanders a great villain in Electro, but leaves the rest of the movie a fun, exciting blockbuster that doesn’t go for the big, or heavy thoughts, but just wants you to get ready for the rest of the summer and all of the joys it may, or may not, be able to bring to you. Hey, have to say, that sounds good enough for me.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Alright, Spidey. A little too friendly.

Alright, Spidey. A little too friendly and neighborly.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Apocalypse Now (1979)

War is hell. Especially when you’re dropping acid.

This film tracks the journey of Captain Benjamin L Willard (Martin Sheen), a USA Army Intelligence Officer sent on a hazardous mission up river into Cambodia to terminate “with extreme prejudice” American renegade Colonel Walter E Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has spun out of control and out of his mind. What Willard has to go through in order to get to Kurtz is unlike any other.

Jesus H. Christ. Where do I begin with this one? Well to start, I should say that this isn’t the first time I ever saw this movie, or even the first time I ever reviewed this movie. Confused as to why I’m doing a total double-take? Well, the first time I watched this flick I wasn’t as fully into it as I should have been and my review at that time (along with many others), come off as very lazy to the point of where it seemed like I was reading off of Rotten Tomatoes and piecing them altogether. Trust me, that’s not what I did but if you go back and read it, you’ll think it by all of the jibber-jabber that I typed. But after checking it out for the second time, I finally realized the beauty and the ugliness that lies behind this film but I said it once and I will say it again: this film is somewhat overrated.

Anybody who has ever done research about this film probably heard about how director Francis Ford Coppola literally went to hell in pre-production just to get this film done in his way (it’s actually the subject of a documentary, one that I need to still see), and thank heavens for that because this film would have not worked without his direction. Seriously, no way in hell would it have. What catches your eye right from the start is the beautiful, but deadly images of a Cambodian jungle being blown up to pieces, all played to a tune from The Doors. It’s the perfect combination of a dark song and a dark image coming together and starting this baby perfectly right off the bat, and it gets you ready for what’s about to come and that is pure, utter craziness that’s all from the point-of-view from Coppola.

Let me just say that this film is probably one of the more beautiful ones I have ever seen in my entire life. I don’t know how Coppola got some of the shots that he did, but the long, sweeping shots of helicopters blowing shit up to the tune of Wagner still sticks in my mind every time I think about this film and the beauty it has. Oh, and there’s also the famous bridge blowing up scene where the only source of light throughout the whole scene is just fireworks and gun shots being lift-off in the sky. But regardless of what specific scene I’m talking about, there’s something inventive Coppola does with the colors in his film and it’s just that he constantly mixes them with every new frame. One shot you got purple, the next you got yellow, the next you got red, the next you got orange, and so on and so forth. Coppola has a great eye for colors and how they convey moods for a film and that’s what really caught my eye every time with every shot. When you look at this film and the way that it’s shot, you know that you have to give Coppola enough credit for that but that’s not all he does that makes this film work. No sireee!

The whole general story of this flick starts off pretty strange, but only gets worse after that whole “Wagner sequence”. We start to see these soldiers go across Vietnam running into other soldiers that are either completely insane, or have no guidance whatsoever, or run into a bunch of innocent Vietnamese that are just trying to make it across without getting killed or hurt, or just another bunch of people that keep on making this film tick and tick away some more. There are no sunshine and peachy days with these people that we soon meet on this “trip”, if you will, and they automatically shock and compel you every time somebody new shows up. This is fairly one of the strangest films of all-time, with characters that only make it so, but it’s all there for a reason and that’s to show you the type of effect the war has on people from all different sides of it.

Not once do we see the enemy from their point-of-view, or do we ever really see them up-close-and-personal. Instead, we get to see plenty of the American soldiers that are fighting against them and just how much of a terrible toll this isolation and destruction is taking on their bodies, on their minds, and on their lives as well. This is all some scary shit that we have seen before in anti-war flicks of the same nature, but never this disturbing to the point of where you really feel like it’s about to get bad. Coppola gives us the images to really stick in our heads, but he also gives us the situations and characters to think about and how all war, brings pain and misery no matter whichever way you make it out to be.

However, you heard me going on and on about this film but the one question in your head still has to be left there thinking, “Just what the hell does this cat think is so overrated about this movie, because all he’s doing is having orgasms over it?”. Well, have no fear because here’s the answer to exactly why I think so: not as much character development as there should have been. That’s right, in this whole 2 hour and 30 minute movie, we get plenty of crazy and bizarre-o characters that pop in-and-out and provide us with a lot of philosophical shit to chew on for the time-being, but when it came to the main players of the story, I found it very hard to care for.

Let me give you the prime example of this flick, and that is Martin Sheen‘s character, Captain Benjamin L Willard. Willard is a very confused fellow that seems like he has no motivation for this duty he has to do, other than the fact that he literally had nothing else to do and was just assigned to it. We see Willard go throughout the whole war, meet up with new characters that eff his mind up as much as it effed mine up, challenge what he thinks is suitable of the war, and teach him some new things about life that he never once realized. Problem is, I think I’m looking into that a little bit too much because we never get much from this Willard guy, other than a very cold and intimidating stare from Sheen. Don’t get me wrong, Sheen does an amazing job with this role and handles the lead with such ease and perfection, but he’s not given much to work with outside of just looking pissed and barely saying anything. All of his motivations and convictions feel real, it was just that we don’t really know what to think about him since the guy is so damn stern the whole time and barely loosens up with the exception of a couple of scenes where he actually cracks a smile.

Everybody else kind of suffers from the same thing, but that doesn’t matter as much because of the awards-caliber performances they give as well. Robert Duvall is a sensation to watch as the hip, fun, and cool as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. Of course everybody knows the famous “Napalm” line that Duvall utters in this film but honestly, how can you not love that line as well as this dude’s charisma? The whole film is essentially one, big downer of a movie and Duvall brings a whole bunch of comedic relief to the film that makes you appreciate him a whole lot more once he’s out of the film for good but you never forget one of the lines he says, and trust me, it’s not the “Napalm” one either. You’ll see.

Then of course, you got Marlon Brando who caused all types of shit (as usual) on the set of this film by showing up overweight, needy for money, and dicking everybody around like he normally does. However, it’s kind of hard to be mad at him for something like that especially when he gives off such a commanding but brief performance as Colonel Walter E Kurtz. As soon as Brando shows up, the film takes a much darker turn, which I thought wasn’t even possible, but once I started hearing all of the shit Kurtz discusses, then I realized it was. Brando hits like a wrecking ball in these types of roles and his small role here as Kurtz is no different and you can’t help but just wait, and wait for him to show up as soon as you see his picture-perfect face within the first 10 minutes.

Also, be on the lookout for plenty of other supporting performances from people you obviously recognize, but other’s, you don’t by how young they are. Especially a very young Laurence Fishburne, who deserves major props for being 14-years old in this film and still not getting blown out of the water with the type of talent they have on-display here. Nice going Morpheus!

Consensus: While it’s not the pitch-perfect masterpiece so many people laud it as being, Apocalypse Now is still a powerhouse of a film to watch, mainly because of the inspired direction from Coppola that pulls out all of the stops, awesome performances from this wide ensemble, and plenty of themes and moral issues to chew on about the war and all of the misery it brings to those involved.

9/10=Full Price!!

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7/10=Rental!!

Wall Street (1987)

Not much has changed in the past two decades, except for maybe Charlie Sheen. He’s changed a whole damn lot.

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur who tutors him in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

This one was written and directed by a favorite of mine, Oliver Stone. This was around the time he was hot off  the huge Oscar winner, Platoon, and although this one isn’t as great as that one, it’s still alright.

As director, Stone knows what he’s doing but it’s all pretty simple with this film despite good camera-work that moved all-over-the-place, to give us the feeling of being busy that these stockbrokers always had. But when it comes to writing, Stone has been better.

The dialogue is alright but there are way too many lines that I felt were just too “movie-made”. All of the dialogue feels like it could have easily been quotable, but I just didn’t think people talked like these guys were with all their macho hammy bullshit sayings. I think it was more the 80’s to blame, rather than Stone himself because I guess what they thought was cool to say back in the 80’s, just seems lame and cheesy now.

The only line from this film that anybody really quotes, hell, even remembers is “Greed is good”, which is no surprise because the whole film practically is about that line and it’s the truth which is why this film still works in today’s world. There is still corporate greed running all over the world and it’s a shame that after almost 23 years later, that this shit is still happening and still around but I guess that’s what really matters about this film. We can still watch it today and have as much of an connection to it today, as anybody would have had then.

Michael Douglas is very good in this role as the evil, Gordon Gekko. Right as soon as you see this dude with the slick hair, the huge white collar, the suspenders, and the cell phone that’s the size of my head, you know he’s a total scumbag, but Douglas does a great job at making a scumbag look good. Douglas knows how to make Gekko seem like a total prick, but just a prick who wants more money, more respect, and more power to basically take over any company just to the point of where he can about be one of the richest men in the world. Gekko is the type of guy, you just hate, but there’s something about him that directs your attention towards him right away. That’s all thanks to Douglas and although I don’t usually like him as an actor, I think he does a very great job as Gekko and makes him the personification for everything that’s wrong with the economy.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too. Charlie Sheen is good with his yuppie schtick as Bud Fox (what a dumb name), but as the film goes on he gets more cocky and angry, and it’s actually kind of hard to take him as seriously as the film wanted us to. Martin Sheen doesn’t have the same problem his son does and actually has a couple of very emotional scenes. Daryl Hannah doesn’t bring anything to this film as Bud’s main squeeze, and could have been left out of the picture completely and it wouldn’t have mattered either way. Terence Stamp, John C. McGinley, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Sean Young are all good.

Consensus: Wall Street has a powerful performance from Douglas, and features a timeless look on the Wall Street circuit, but falls for too many 80’s cliches like the lame and cheesy sayings in the script, the annoying synthesizer, and just the feeling that nothing else here is really authentic.

7/10=Rental!!

The Departed (2006)

Boston accents always create a good movie.

While an undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) curries favor with the mob kingpin (Jack Nicholson), a career criminal (Matt Damon) rises through the police ranks. But both sides soon discover there’s a mole among them.

Martin Scorsese is a man among men. He always knows the perfect way to tell a story, and show it with his only little trade-marks. And even though this is based pretty closely to a Hong Kong film, it is still no exception.

Scorsese does a great job of keeping our attentions. This story gets a little crazy at points, but Scorsese handles it so well that we can’t help but to keep our eyes on the screen. That’s probably the best thing that Scorsese does, he can have anyone watch his film no matter how long, or sometimes ridiculous it may be. He has the perfect knack for capturing intense suspense and that constant moving back, and as well as the perfect tone for a gangster movie in the 21st century. There’s now cell-phones, texting, and internet, but not much has changed when it comes to gangsters, and Scorsese doesn’t lose his flavor.

I think my favorite element of this movie was the script. Judging from this plot, you would think that this is totally a super cereal gangster drama, however, it’s got plenty of comedy to have you laughing the whole way through. I actually caught myself laughing at plenty of these one-liners and probably because they happen out of nowhere, and when the films trying to be the most serious it can be. There is also a lot of interesting double-crossing, and morality themes here as well that totally seal the deal on this package.

The acting for the most part is actually pretty good here. Leonardo DiCaprio, as always does a great job with William Costigan Jr., keeping this film together with his signature toughness, with a tint of likability, that has us cheering him on the whole movie. Matt Damon is also good as Colin Sullivan, and is always good but he plays kind of a bad guy here and his decisions aren’t always the best, and you kind of start to hate him at points. Never thought I would start to hate him, but Matt sure can do it. Jack Nicholson plays mob boss, Frank Costello. He does a good job, but he doesn’t perfect the job which kind of had me a little bit disappointed, because with this role he could have totally been sweeping the Oscars. The problem is that he does a bit too much of ad-libbing, and over-acting, so we kind of get a little annoyed of his character and want him to do something a little bit more new, and cool. But he is still the man so don’t get me wrong. Mark Wahlberg got an Oscar nomination for his performance as Sergeant Dignam, and I’m glad he did because he really knocks his role out of the park. His character wasn’t even in the original film, so he had to basically make this character from scratch, and does a perfect job bringing so much comedy to this film, that he’s the character at the end of the film you probably remember the most. Vera Farmiga is also here and plays Damon’s love interest, Madolyn, and this is one of her earlier roles, and shows that she can hang with the big boys. There are others in this cast that are amazing such as Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winstone, and randomly everybody’s favorite black man, Anthony Anderson.

This film is very very close to being perfect but its big problem comes in its last 15 minutes. I think the whole film had so much steam in its story that when the end actually had to come around, it didn’t quite know where to go so it just sort of lingered around. The film spends a great deal developing these characters so perfectly and well, that it was just a shame that Scorsese let them practically fly out the window by the end. I wish the ending was better, but I still can’t lie it was suitable, just could have been better.

Consensus: A fearless direction from Scorsese, perfect screenplay, and great acting makes The Departed a crime/mob classic for the ages. The ending may have not been the best way to go out for this film, but the whole film keeps your attention, and that is something that makes this a near-perfect film.

9/10=Full Price!!

Love Happens (2009)

Not as bad as everybody makes it out to be, but not all that good honestly.

When widower and self-help guru Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart) unexpectedly falls for Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), his latent grief threatens his chance at romance. Now, the best-selling author and expert on coping with loss must prove he’s his own best teacher or risk losing love again.

What I was expecting from this film was to be totally bored out of mind, and to see nothing new. In a way, I kind of got that, in another way I didn’t.

The plot for this film is probably something that you could have seen if you were skipping school and decided to spend your day watching Lifetime with your mommy, and I think that’s the main problem with this film because it doesn’t do much with its premise rather than just be shallow about the themes within its screenplay.

The film says it’s about a romance between these two leads, but that is barely even there really and it’s more about a self-help guru coming to terms with his grief. This took me by surprise because some parts actually did work, but there was no real insight to this theme that we haven’t already seen before. Moments here were dull and boring, and the cutesie-bootsie montages that they use here become exhausting, and probably become the biggest cliche of the whole film.

If there is anything that this film does a great job with, it’s showing that Aaron Eckhart needs a damn Oscar! He plays this self-help guru with a lot of wit, and actual realistic human feelings that will have you like his character, Burke, a whole lot more than you expected. Jennifer Aniston is here as Eloise playing that quirky rom-com love interest we all know her for, but she doesn’t really show up that much and doesn’t do much for this film. There is also not enough chemistry between these two, mainly because the film doesn’t give them much time to actually develop. Judy Greer as always is awesome, Dan Fogler is OK if you like wannabe Jack Black’s, and Martin Sheen does a good job too. The script just lets this whole cast down, which is a real bummer since they all do try really really hard.

Consensus: Love Happens had some surprisingly nice moments, but the dramatic element nor does the romantic element work, and offers surprises if you haven’t seen a rom-com in the past 15 or 20 years.

4/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Catch-22 (1970)

War really does make you go crazy.

Capt. Yossarian (Alan Arkin) tries to escape the travesties of World War II by convincing his Air Force commanders that he’s crazy. Hilarity ensues — but so does reality as he watches his close friends (Martin Sheen and Art Garfunkel) die in the ridiculousness of war.

I’m still ashamed in myself that I haven’t found the time yet to actually read this crazy novel, that this film is based on, but I have a feeling after seeing this, I definitely will soon.

My favorite element of this film is that it really does have a great script here to work with. The dark humor works so well for this film, because it’s great at showing all the funny moments that can actually happen in between all the fighting, and killing. It also works well even in today’s world, and can still pertain to the craziness of the war in present time which is always great.

The cinematography is also beautiful with some wonderful shots of the landscape, that although may seem a bit out-of-place considering that the film, isn’t all about how it looks, I still liked how it gave me this feeling of the area these soldiers were fighting at.

The only problem with this film is that it does get a little weird at the end, and the comedy starts to lose it’s edge. I found myself chuckling less and less with this material, as the film kept going on longer into the end, and I was wondering what was supposed to be funny, and what wasn’t. It gets very dark by the end, and this is where the film lost me because after awhile I couldn’t find one laugh within me when certain things started to happen with this story. Also, the plot is pretty jumpy, going through one story to another, and it doesn’t quite work because we don’t get all of the stories in detailed.

The performances in this film are what kept me watching. The always reliable Alan Arkin stars as Yossarian, and blends that perfect mixture of goofiness and realism that always seems to work for him, no matter what it is that he’s doing. Anthony Perkins does a good job here as Chaplain Tappman, and brings out a lot more comedy and depth within his character that we aren’t quite expecting. Jon Voight is also hilarious as Milo Minderbinder, the one guy who’s trying to get very rich off of this war. My favorite of the whole cast was actually a short bit from Orson Welles who plays Gen. Dreedle and dominates every scene with that signature tough-guy persona he always carries so well with him, and here it just works in a comedic sort of way. Also in the cast are Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Art Garfunkel, and Martin Balsam.

Consensus: The humor works well with it’s dark approach, and it’s a sight to look at, but Catch-22 gets very strange by the end, and starts to get darker with it’s approach, even though the first hour is just so darn funny.

7/10=Rental!!

O (2001)

Whoever thought that Jungle Fever could get this violent.

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s “Othello” that takes place in an exclusive boarding school where Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) is the star basketball player and sole black student. Odin’s beautiful girlfriend, Desi (Julia Stiles), adores him, and his coach (Martin Sheen) loves him like a son. But jealousy drives the coach’s real son, Hugo (Josh Hartnett), into an elaborate and deadly scheme to knock Odin off his exalted perch.

The film was completed in 1999 but was shelved and moved to a different studio, mostly because of the Columbine High School massacre.

A month ago I reviewed the film Leaves of Grass, and loved it from almost start to finish. I though the writing was witty, directed very well, and overall acted superbly. That film was written and directed by the same guy here, crazy man Tim Blake Nelson. He didn’t write this film, and it really is a damn shame, cause I think that is what could have really benefited the film.

There are many things that go wrong with this script. For example, Desi’s roommate is tricked by Hartnett to trick her, and as she sees the damage caused by her actions she just stands there looking like a total idiot. And also when the characters experience 180 degree personality changes and start packing guns, snorting coke, and talking murder, it just gets plain ridiculous.

The film however does do a good job, of actually bringing out a good point of teen violence, in a time of where its starting to escalate. The film has its shares of ups and downs when it comes to the script, but it is true in nature and soul to the original source material, and that’s why it works. Nelson does an excellent job directing, adding a heavy dose of visual symbolism that in other hands may have come off as intruding or flashy but here largely maintains an ambiguity that allows plenty of room for interpretation on the part of the viewer.

The acting here is very good which is the reason the film is saved. Josh Hartnett is very convincing as this jealous, sneaky, asshole that tries all of his ways into getting the fame that he thinks he so rightfully deserves. Mekhi Phifer is the real treat in this film, and provides some great scenes when his character starts to show more emotion and anger, and by the end his performance is just perfect. It sucks that this guy is only remembered for being in Dawn of the Dead, and playing the DJ dude in 8 Mile, he really does have talent that needs to be appreciated. Him and Julia Stiles together feels genuine.

Fun Fact: This is Julia Stiles’ second film playing a love interest of a black dude (the other one was Save the Last Dance).

The last 10 minutes of the film is really the main reason to see the film as it works with the film so well. Its effective and powerful.

Consensus: The script takes the film and turns into something completley unbelievable, but features a good direction from Blake Nelson that remains loyal to the original material, and good performances from the cast.

5/10=Rental!!!

The American President (1995)

If only Obama was as cool as Michael Douglas.

Widowed U.S. president Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), one of the world’s most powerful men, can have anything he wants — and what he covets most is Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a Washington lobbyist. But Shepherd’s attempts at courting her spark wild rumors and decimate his approval ratings in this romantic comedy. Rob Reiner directs, and Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen co-star.

The reviewers who moan that this is a liberal propaganda movie have missed the point, plain and simple. This is a story of romance in the White House, a unique theme which is a new and fresh idea. The politics were a backdrop and used to keep the movie moving.

The writing here is smart and very good. Its funny without making itself too funny, so you don’t take it seriously. There are still plenty of moments where this film actually takes an idea that was big in politics during the 90s and sets it in this film, and it works so well here. The comedic timing this film has makes sure it balances out a great deal of smart comedy but also important ideals about politics that were going on at the time.

This movie effectively shows the human side of a president. There is no political pretense or agenda, this is and old fashion pure charmer that wins with clever script, great acting and likable characters. And most of this has to go the performances from its wonderful cast. Douglas is starting to grow on me a bit, even though he is basically playing the same one he always does but the charm works well here cause he still has a side that even the president you wouldn’t think had. Annette Bening is even better playing Wade with the great comedic timing but also wonderful sense of realism that leading ladies like Diane Keaton and Jodie Foster all go for, and she does that plus a lot more. Their chemistry in this film builds over time and it feels real and you could actually see these two together in office.

The problem I had with the film was that its satire that the film looked for didn’t hit the marker so well like it could have. I think the film was trying to poke fun at George Bush when he was in the office, and how politics have changed into being more controversial than real, was a little stretching its boundaries. Also, the Richard Dreyfuss character was just stupid cause he only played this bad guy that was one-note the whole time and barely ever changed at all during the movie.

Consensus: The American President doesn’t succeed with its satire and patronizing, but still is written and directed in an old fashioned way that its new and fresh, while Douglas and Bening give out a believable chemistry between the two.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Apocalypse Now (1979)

One of those trippy war films.

Francis Ford Coppola’s epic adapts Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to the Vietnam War, where special operations Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) must travel deep into the Cambodian jungle to locate and kill the mysterious — and insane — Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

The one thing right away you will notice about this film is that it is not your typical war film. And that is a good thing, but also a bad thing.

The best part of the film is just the amazing visuals that inhabit this movie from start to finish. The vibrant colors that Ford Coppola use, especially at the end, all convey a sort of emotion that nothing is right and you are in hell where there is no way out.

The film is a lot more trippier because its also about the haunting fear of the war. I liked this part and yet I thought it was pretty much goofy. One reason was because I feel like there were times where the film could have succeeded with being a natural war film with nice war scenes, but instead gets into this weird world by the end of the film that we really have no idea about and its kind of freaky, but also unrealistic.

I have to give most of the credit to director Ford Coppola who basically directs this film with sure power and makes sure no detail is left out. The way he lights his scenes, and makes them look is beautiful, but just the overall setting especially the one helicopter sequence which really shows some great film making. Ford Coppola gives you this sense of madness that is going around at this time, to a point where you feel as your going mad with these soldiers as well.

The young cast is awesome here with recognizable faces, but not so much of recognizable performances. Sheen is the fore-front of this film and brings out a lot of craziness with his character, but doesn’t get too nuts and stays sane most of the time. It was funny to see all these performances from all the actors so young like Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, and a great Robert Duvall. But the best here that will leave a mark on you at the end of the film is the always great Marlon Brando. The whole movie is basically all about him waiting to be seen and the one scene when him and Sheen finally meet is just shot so perfectly, and after that Brando has a short monologue which is just so perfectly delivered gave him so much more gratitude by the end.

Consensus: Apocalypse Now is not your typical war film, but has a fearless direction from Ford Coppola, who gives us these beautiful colors on-screen, a haunting setting, and brings out great performances from its young cast.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Wall Street (1987)

Is greed always good??

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur. Gekko takes Fox under his wing, tutoring his charge in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

Director Oliver Stone, as many of you may know is one of my favorite directors of all-time. I like if not love a lot of his stuff so when I heard about this film, and how Douglas won a Best Oscar, I was ready for a wonderful film. Instead I got a bore-fest.

If you are annoyed by shallow anti capitalism good-versus-evil plots, avoid this one. On its face, this film bashes illegal insider trading. But it goes further. The bashing subtly reaches legitimate brokers who make a living trading stock (a service which, like movie making, vastly enriches the very few at the expense of the many who want the service). Two lines most revealingly demonstrate this: The evil caricature Douglas smugly asks (paraphrasing) “You think this is a democracy!? No! This is capitalism!” (Ignoring that the political system (democracy) and the economic system (capitalism) are interrelated and are presumably good.)

This film is basically incredibly predictable in a story that goes from one place to another in cliche after cliche. The characters in this film are just basically total yuppie assholes. Even the main protagonist, Sheen, doesn’t even seem that liable to root for. He just seems so dumb and even a bigger deuche.

The acting is very very sub-par. I mean in all honesty I think Douglas at times really did over-play his role as this totally unlikable guy. Some scenes hes very good, and some hes just not all that there. In all honesty he did not deserve that Oscar at all. Sheen gives an OK performance here but I found it very hard throughout the film to take him seriously since I’m a huge fan of Two and a Half Men.

Consensus: The acting is OK, but the story is very very contrived, with predictable story elements, and even worse characters that your more likely to hate then cheer for.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!