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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Matt Damon

The Great Wall (2017)

Monsters are everywhere you look. Except the literal ones. Yeah, those things don’t exist.

While on a long, far-reaching search for black powder, mercenaries William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) hold-up one night and encounter something strange, mysterious and deadly. They are able to chop off a piece of its arm, carrying it around with them everywhere they go, even if they don’t fully know just what it actually is. Then, they stumble upon the Great Wall and are taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers of a secretive military sect called “the Nameless Order”. Led by General Shao (Zhang Hanyu) and Strategist Wang (Andy Lau), the Nameless Order has been making it their mission to taking out any sort of threat that has come their way, but as of late, it’s been these odd, very vicious and disgusting monsters that, are also of the same kind that William and Tovar ran into that one night. That’s why, rather than killing the two, the Nameless Order decide to take the guys in, asking them for a helping hand in taking down these monsters, once and for all. It’s easy for William, but for Tovar, not so much.

White.

White.

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the Great Wall for a rather understandable reason: Matt Damon’s casting in the lead role seems like, yet again, another instance of Hollywood being too scared of casting any sort of minority in a lead role, that they just give it to the next big name, who also happens to be white. Hey, it’s happened before and it will definitely happen again. However, in the Great Wall, it’s not all that justified for a few reasons:

  1. Damon’s character in the movie is actually supposed to be white and isn’t supposed to be Chinese, therefore, making him a suitable actor for the character’s supposed race.
  2. Nobody really seems to have gotten all that mad that, included in this movie’s large international cast, Willem Dafoe (a white guy), is here, as well as Pedro Pascal (an Hispanic man) – two people who, last I checked, aren’t actually in the least bit Chinese.
  3. The movie itself is not meant to be taken seriously under any circumstances and because of that, it’s really hard to get mad at it for anything, let alone its casting decisions.
  4. And yeah, it’s just a silly movie.

Which is to say that, despite all of this, the Great Wall is still an enjoyable movie, although yes, incredibly stupid once you realize that it’s actually about a bunch of warriors, facing-off against a bunch of nameless, literally brainless green monsters who don’t really look like anything we’ve seen before, but they’re still not all that original, either – they’re like a weird cross between a dinosaur and a rat, but even then, I’m not so sure.

And coming from director  Zhang Yimou, you’d probably expect a little something more, but just like he proved with House of Flying Daggers, Yimou doesn’t always care the most about story and character-development, as much as he cares about what looks cool on the big screen, in 3D, and what’s fun. Sometimes, too, that’s all you need; the Great Wall is the perfect example of Yimou having so many toys at his disposal and getting an opportunity to play with each and everyone of them. Could he have gone deeper with the plot, these characters, and the overall message of the tale?

Nope. Still white and this time, a little Hispanic.

Nope. Still white and this time, a little Chilean.

Sure, but he doesn’t and it helps the movie not feel like all that much of a slug to get through.

Because when the movie does try and dive into the stuff like that, well, it doesn’t always work. We don’t really get to know anyone here, nor do we ever fully understand the plot itself, so when it takes time to explain itself, it just takes away from the movie and almost makes you wish for more monsters to show up. The characters themselves don’t have anything interesting to really say or do, either – sometimes, it seems like a lot of it was just filmed with the hopes that it would make it into the final-cut, but with no obligation whatsoever. Granted, we don’t always need clear, pitch perfect and three-dimensional characters in goofy monster movies such as the Great Wall, but it certainly does help us feel like there’s more at-steak, than just a bunch of lifeless, bland things getting killed on screen.

It also helps because you’ve got such a good cast here, with not much to do. Damon’s working with an odd accent the whole time, making him sound like he’s straight from Canada; Pascal’s character has all of the witty one-liners and laughs, as corny as they can sometimes get; Dafoe’s character is shady and mischievous, for reasons never made clear; Jing Tian gets to be a bit of a bad-ass when she isn’t trying to get some sort of spark flickering between her and Damon; and everyone else who shows up, well, they try, too. Mostly, the Great Wall doesn’t care about this stuff and for once, it’s sort of okay.

What it does prove is that it’s sometimes best to just take in and accept a monster movie, for exactly what it is.

Consensus: Even with the weak characters and story, the Great Wall still mostly gets by on the action, the look, the feel, and the surprisingly great deal of eye-popping 3D.

6 / 10

Ah, yes. That's more like it.

Ah, yes. That’s more like it.

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

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Courage Under Fire (1996)

Who to trust? The hunky guys? Or the gal?

While he was on-duty during the Gulf War, Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington) accidentally caused a friendly fire incident and it caused him to rethink his military career, even if his superiors were able to look the other way for it. Now, with the war-effort over, he is assigned to investigate the case of Army Captain Karen Walden (Meg Ryan), a soldier who was killed in action when her Medevac unit was attempting to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter. And while it seems like a simple case of a solider being killed by enemy-fire, the more and more Serling begins to look, the more he realizes that there’s more to this story than just what’s on the surface. In a way, someone on the U.S.’s side could have killed Walden and if so, for what reasons? By interviewing everyone involved with the incident and who worked closely with Walden on that one specific day, Serling hopes to find it all out and then some.

Meg and Matt? What a dynamic duo!

Meg and Matt? What a dynamic duo!

Courage Under Fire is a lot like A Few Good Men in that, yes, it’s a fairly conventional drama-thriller that deals with the Army and a case that needs to be solved, however, it ends on a far more interesting note than it may have ever set out for. With the later, it’s become infamous for its final showdown between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise and all of the countless conversations to follow, but with Courage Under Fire, that discussion is literally the whole two hours. In a way, Courage Under Fire is a conversation and an argument both for, as well as against the Army and the war-effort during the Gulf War of ’91, that neither pays tribute, nor attacks the soldiers who have, or haven’t participated in it.

Which is to say that it’s a good movie, yes, but it’s also more than just your average war-drama.

Director Edward Zwick knows how to handle a lot of material all at once, but what’s surprising the most here is that he does seem to actually settle things down and focus on the smaller details of the story that make it so dramatic. Sure, whenever he takes a flashback to the actual incident itself, the movie is chock full of action, with bullets flying, people dying, and explosions coming out of nowhere. At first, it may feel a tad uneven, but eventually, the movie, as well as Zwick, begin to find a groove that works in helping for the movie get to its smaller moments, while also giving the action-junkies a little something to taste on.

After all, the movie, from the ads and posters and whatnot, does appear to be promising this slam-bang, action-thriller of a war flick, which is also very far from the truth. However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t thrills, chills and action – there is, it’s just not in the forms of any sort of violence. Instead, it all seems to come from learning more and more about what really happened in this incident, realizing the conspiracy theories and cover-ups, and then, also seeing all of the different perspectives and how those characters shape the perspectives themselves. It’s a whole lot like Rashomon, but there’s a whole lot going on that keeps the similarities at bay, and instead, just feels like an interesting way to tell a mystery that could have been dull, boring and, honestly, uninteresting.

It’s also very hard to make a movie as dull and and as uninteresting as the one it could have been, especially what with the great cast on-hand.

"No blinking!"

“No blinking!”

As is usually the case, Denzel Washington is great in this lead role, showing a lot of dramatic-depth and compassion, without hardly saying anything at all. He’s the kind of actor that gets by solely on a look of his face and totally makes the scene his, and even though his role may not have been as fully-written as he’s used to working with, it’s still a role that Washington himself works wonders with, even if he does have to put in a little extra here and there. It’s also nice to see the likes of Lou Diamond Phillips, Seth Gilliam, and a young Matt Damon, as the soldiers involved with the incident, showing us more into their souls and what they saw.

But really, it’s the performance from Meg Ryan that makes the movie so good, as she shows a rough, tough and brave character who, despite what version of her, we hear and/or see, is still an admirable one. Ryan may seem like an odd-choice for this role, but as she proved in the 90’s, she owned almost every role thrown at her, and it was nice to see her do well with a role for someone who was, essentially, shown in just flashbacks. It honestly makes me wish she did more drama and stayed away from all of the non-stop rom-coms, as she clearly had the chops to pull it all off, but yeah, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

And now, nobody knows quite where she’s gone.

Consensus: With a timely, smart message about war, Courage Under Fire brings a lot of thought and discussion to its sometimes predictable format.

8 / 10

Just one of the guys. Except, a lot prettier. Depending on who you ask.

Just one of the guys. Except, a lot prettier. Depending on who you ask.

Photos Courtesy of: Writer’s Digest, Teach With Movies, Empire

Gerry (2002)

Yeah, just bring a map next time.

Gerry (Casey Affleck) and Gerry (Matt Damon) for one reason or another, decide to head out into Death Valley. Though they feel as if they know the area pretty well and don’t need a map, they start to regret that decision just as soon as they start to forget where they parked their car was, or where the nearest bit of civilization was. While Gerry and Gerry aren’t too scared automatically, slowly but surely, without all that much food, water, or shade, they start to lose their minds a bit and come closer and closer to death itself.

Gerry is another one of Gus Van Sant’s more experimental films where instead of staying straight and narrow with a normal, easygoing convention like, I don’t say, a plot, he sort of just sets the camera down and lets people do things. Sometimes, they do exciting things, or other times, they just sit around, talk, act miserable, and yeah, do nothing. Gerry is the rare exception because there is a simple plot, and there is characters here actually doing something, but does that really make a conventional film? Not really and that’s where Van Sant’s direction comes in and balks at tradition.

Wait, which one's Gerry?

Wait, which one’s Gerry?

But does standing up to the man, flipping the bird, and doing your own thing really make a good film?

Not really, but it does make for a very interesting one and that’s why Gerry, despite having seen it maybe a month or so ago, has still stuck with me. It’s such a straightforward movie in the way that it moves, tells it story, and gives us an idea of who these characters, that it almost doesn’t seem like it’s trying – but look hard enough and guess what? Van Sant and company are trying really hard to bring people down on their level where they’re not just watching two guys wander the desert, looking for any sort of shelter they can find, but stay sane while doing so. The movie does play some tricks here and there with random mirages that don’t always work, but whenever it’s just Van Sant keeping his camera steady and focused on these two guys, as they walk and come closer and closer to dying of stravation, it’s so compelling.

Perhaps it’s more compelling than it should be, considering that nothing ever really happens in Gerry. Then again, that’s sort of the point; these two are literally looking for any signs of life that can save them and that’s about it. Whether or not they run into a bunch of evil, Russian villains on-the-run from the law and bringing all sorts of guns, violence and action with them, doesn’t matter – the movie really is, after all, about Gerry and Gerry. They’re lost in the desert and searching desperately for any bit of life.

Dirt nap. Literally.

Taking a dirt nap. Literally.

What’s more compelling than that?

Probably a lot, but really, the way Van Sant follows them both, slowly but surely, in wide-shots, close-ups, and of course, single-shots that literally last up to 15-minutes on some occasions, it draws you in so much that it’s hard to care about those other silly things like action, or violence, or yeah, twists and turns. After all, a movie like this doesn’t ask for the mainstream audience – it’s for the much more dedicated, arthouse fare who don’t need all of those extraneous add-ons that can sometimes drown films in their own overabundance. Van Sant’s previous flicks have known a thing or two about that and it’s worth saying that the more Van Sant doesn’t get in the way of the actual movie itself, the better.

The times where it does seem like he’s trying to be more stylistically demanding, it gets in the way of Gerry‘s impact. But really, it all comes down to Matt Damon and Casey Affleck as the two Gerry’s who, despite us not ever getting to know anything about them, except for the fact that they enjoy playing online role-playing video-games, they’re still sympathetic and interesting to watch. A lot of the script was improvised and you can definitely tell – one scene in particular that’s probably the longest shot of the whole flick features Affleck’s Gerry on a rock, trying to get down off of it, but doesn’t know how to do so, without breaking a bone in his body. It sounds silly, but the way the two interact with one another in a very tense situation, is not only entertaining, but downright telling. It tells us that these two probably are great friends and have a great camaraderie, even if they are probably going to rip each other’s heads off by the time the movie’s over.

But like I said, the movie isn’t totally about the performances – it’s more about Van Sant and the movie is probably better for it.

For lack of a better word, yes, Gerry is a sad, almost emotionally draining piece. Though it’s probably an-hour-and-a-half, it feels at least ten times longer than that, which is a good thing – it’s the kind of movie that asks for all of your interest and attention and if you give it, you will most definitely be thanked and pleased by the end. Sure, it’s still a depressing movie, but sometimes, depression can be a very compelling thing to watch, so long as it comes from a strong place.

Consensus: As sad as it’s involving, Gerry may not seem like it does much, but give it plenty of time and attention and trust me, it will work on your head for a long time afterwards.

8 / 10

Keep going boys. I think I saw a haystack some ways back.

Keep going boys. I think I saw a haystack some ways back.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Finding Forrester (2000)

Forrester. William Forrester.

After novelist William Forrester (Sean Connery) discovers that a young athlete named Jamal (Rob Brown) is also an excellent writer, he secretly takes him on as his protégé. There, they develop something of an unlikely friendship. As they learn more about each other, they learn more about themselves, and ultimately, with the help of his new mentor, the basketball star must choose the right path between following his writing dreams or his hoop dreams.

Despite this being a Gus Van Sant flick, Finding Forrester‘s overall story itself is pretty damn conventional. Just in the same way that Good Will Hunting was, essentially, a simple inspirational tale of one small-time genius coming to know more about himself, the world around him, and how to use his smarts to his advantage, Finding Forrester is about the same thing, except this time, with a bit of a different focus than before. Rather than seeing the perspective from low-class, foul-mouthed boy from Boston, this time around, we have a 16-year-old black kid, living in New York. It may not seem all that different, but in a way, there’s short and tiny spins on the age-old story that makes Finding Forrester still work.

"Listen up, kid. Don't be like Mozart."

“Listen up, kid. Don’t be like Mozart.”

Then again, it’s not nearly as great as Good Will Hunting.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect that Finding Forrester offers to this story is that, for someone like Jamal, who looks like what Jamal looks like, and because of the kinds of perks that come with him, he’s never allowed to grow to his fullest potential. In today’s day and age, the issue with race is quite frequent, with many kids just like Jamal never getting their chance to shine and show the world what they can do, even they truly are the masterminds that they’re made out to be. Van Sant sees this small world of the private school system, kind of as this cold, dark and sadistic place where the usual people flourish, mostly because they have all of the money and connections to do so, but the outsiders, don’t. Instead, they are treated as outliers who need to get with the program, or else they’ll be thrown out immediately.

It’s quite sad to see this played out on screen, but it’s something I myself saw while going to a private school in my first year of college and unfortunately, it happens more often than you think.

Then again, Finding Forrester isn’t all that dark or dramatic, even though I make it seem that way; if anything, it’s just a darker, much slower drama than Good Will Hunting. And because of that, the movie definitely runs into problems with pacing, where it seems like it picks itself up to get going, then stops, then starts again, then stops, and then, for some reason or another, Van Sant himself gets distracted by whatever is working his mind and loses whatever build-up he was working with. In all honesty, this is a frequent problem with Van Sant and his movies, which is why it’s a huge issue with Finding Forrester and it’s two-hour-and-16-minute run-time – it comes close to feeling like every minute of it, mostly because Van Sant doesn’t always know when to cut a scene, or at least do any bit of a trimming.

But really, the movie, as well as the sluggish pace, is basically saved by the two leads and what they bring to this sometimes wonderful material. Sean Connery, as usual, is great as William Forrester and does everything he can to make this character more than just another one of those “out-of-touch, old dudes” who we tend to see in movies such as these. However, this is Sean Connery we’re talking about here and the guy doesn’t let you forget about his charm that never seems to go away no matter how many years pass, his comedic-timing that has never left him, no matter how serious he tries to be, and his handsome looks that still, even at age 82, makes him look as good as ever.

Spin a ball, you can spin a book. Or at least that's how I think it goes.

Spin a ball, you can spin a book. Or at least that’s how I think it goes.

May sound weird, but hey, so be it. Sean Connery’s a great talent and needs to come back for at least one more movie, so that we can all wipe the stink of the League of Extraordinary Gentleman away.

But as good as Connery is, Rob Brown doesn’t lose any ground here, either, and it’s one of the better debuts ever seen on film. As I’ve made a mention about Jamal before, he’s a good character because he is a smart, but yet, troubled that obviously knows the difference between right and wrong, but also is still a kid growing up in a place of society that doesn’t always accept him for what he is. Because of that, Brown has to do a lot of heavy-lifting that he works quite well with, showing a great deal of angst, as well as growth in a character that desperately needed it to seem believable. Brown’s had a good career since this, but honestly, he deserves so much work.

And together, Brown and Connery work well off of one another, showing a great deal of chemistry and fun between two people you wouldn’t expect to see that from. That said, the rest of the cast and characters are pretty awful and it’s a shame because Forrester and Jamal are truly compelling. People like F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Michael Pitt, and even Busta Rhymes, all show up here and do what they can with the material given to them, but a lot of their characters are so one-note and boring, that it’s hard to ever take them seriously, or care about whether they exist in this story or not. Abraham’s character is probably the most distasteful and while he’s a smart enough actor not to have a role like this jump into caricature, there’s still a sense that no matter what, this character will always be the villain in the movie. Same goes for Michael Pitt’s character and while she’s not necessarily considered a “villain”, Anna Paquin’s love-interest is just boring. The only one who seems to be trying anything different and at least somewhat succeeding is Busta Rhymes, but after awhile, he’s just left to give Jamal inspirational speeches that could have definitely been left to Connery.

Then again, a battle between Connery and Busta would probably make a better movie, as much as it pains me to say.

Consensus: Finding Forrester definitely suffers from being a lot like Good Will Hunting, in terms of subject matter and themes, but also benefits from a solid one-two punch of Sean Connery and Rob Brown, and their characters, even if the direction isn’t always there to pick them up.

7 / 10

"Yes, dog?"

“Yes, dog?”

Photos Courtesy of: Doeppi’s Blog

Jason Bourne (2016)

All right, everyone! Let’s just leave this poor, ass-kicking, former-CIA agent alone already!

After the events of Ultimatum, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has, essentially, gone off the grid. No one knows where he is, what he’s up to, and quite frankly, they don’t care, either. As long as he isn’t causing any static and opening his mouth up about confidential stuff, then the government is perfectly fine with him doing whatever it is that he’s up to. However, Bourne gets tracked down by a former confidante of his, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), and all of a sudden, he’s now back in the spotlight. Now, government-agencies want after him and super secret assassins, want him dead. Clearly Bourne doesn’t want to die, so he fights these agencies and assassins with all that he’s got, while also carrying around a hard drive that will hopefully bring out some of the shadier secrets of these agencies to the mainstream, for everyone to see. But Bourne is going up against some pretty heavy-hitters this time and he may have to take it to the next level, in order to make sure that he not only lives, but that the truth is exposed once and for all, so that no one falls prey to these agencies like he has.

Uh oh. Who was talking bad about this latest season of Project Greenlight?

Uh oh. Who was talking bad about this latest season of Project Greenlight?

So yeah, you can tell that Jason Bourne is following a pretty familiar thread: Bourne gets tracked down from government agency, Bourne kicks ass, he runs, he forgets stuff, he remembers stuff, and oh yeah, he has some bad things to say about these agencies after his butt. It’s definitely not original or groundbreaking by any means and it’s definitely at-fault for that, considering that we’ve got not just Matt Damon back, but Paul Greengrass, too. In fact, the only reason either of them are doing this movie in the first place is because they’re both back together and not working side-by-side with Jeremy Renner, or Tony Gilroy.

Would there have been such a problem with that? Not really.

Would I have liked to see how that movie actually turned out? Most definitely.

In fact, the way I see it, the only way for this Bourne franchise to continue on and not show its wrinkles, is by teaming-up with Renner-Gilroy Bourne franchise. Legally speaking, I know this may be downright impossible, however, there’s a part of me that wants it to happen, because both characters are strong enough to keep a movie interesting, regardless of what they’re doing. That isn’t to say that this lone edition of the original Bourne franchise isn’t so bad, it’s just that you can tell that some people are losing interest in making these stories more compelling, interesting, and smart, and more or less, just deciding to fall for the same old tricks and trades that made the original franchise such a hit.

Cause as is, Jason Bourne works both as a follow-up to the old franchise, that’s meant to continue the story of Jason Bourne alive and well, for more installments to come, but then, at the same time, the movie also feels like its own standalone feature. It’s almost as if the creators had the intentions of keeping this story going, but also knew that they may have to tied-up loose-ends, just in case. It feels very odd, actually, but also, doesn’t take away from the fact that when this movie wants to, it can be as thrilling as humanly imaginable.

Which is saying something, because the first three Bourne movies are pretty damn exciting.

CIA Agent Who Grows to be Sympathetic Towards Jason Bourne #70

Pictured: CIA Agent Who Grows to be Sympathetic Towards Jason Bourne #70

Most of this is because Greengrass, despite everyone’s qualms with his shaky-cam, knows how to make an action scene snap, crackle and pop, just like an action scene should. He gets a lot of mileage out of showing how these sequences, as small and contained as they may initially appear to be, can get so wild and crazy, that it’s hard not to get caught up in the chase and excitement of it all. There’s a nifty sequence by the end when the story finds itself in Vegas and there’s a crazy chase throughout a five-star hotel, with people running all over the place, causing all sorts of havoc. It’s the kind of fun, yet, thrilling action-sequence, that only gets more and more exciting to watch, once you start to piece together all of the pieces of the possible puzzle, not knowing what’s going to happen next, or to whom.

And that’s the real beauty of these Bourne movies – the fact that we don’t always know how they’re going to end, even if, yes, we totally do.

Which isn’t any hit on Damon, or anyone else here. As is, the movie treats them as well as it should – they’ve all got plenty of meaty material that can sometimes be silly, but can also sometimes be cool to watch. For instance, all of the scenes with Tommy Lee Jones are fun to watch because, well, we know he can handle material like this as good as the next guy – he’s basically playing the same role he played in the Fugitive and you know what? It still works. He’s still cranky and stealing every scene imaginable. Then, there’s also Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp (strangest the Night Of reunion) Alicia Vikander, and Vincent Cassell showing up, and adding a little bit of flair to the proceedings, reminding us that every little cast-member, regardless of how much time they got dedicated to them, are definitely worth watching because they add a little something.

But no matter what, it’s Damon who ends the movie on a bright note, showing what he can do, with so little and still reminding us that this protagonist is someone worth caring about and seeing more movies of. Sure, the backstory with his daddy and all was a bit overwrought, but hey, it gave us more time to see what happened in this character’s past, as well as gave us more time to spend with Gregg Henry.

Now, when’s that such a bad thing to have in your movie?

Answer is: Never.

Consensus: Though the story may be lacking in originality, Jason Bourne gets by mostly on its tense, exciting and always fun action, to go along with some pretty solid acting in a summer blockbuster that would have otherwise not taken the time to even care about such petty things in the first place, had different people been working on it.

7 / 10

Still not coming to you, man? Oh well. Maybe the next movie you'll remember the expiration date on the milk.

Still not coming to you, man? Oh well. Maybe the next movie you’ll remember the expiration date on the milk.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Inside Job (2010)

Can’t trust anyone. Not even mom and dad.

The financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 will always and forever be considered one of the most heart-breaking, tragic moments in recent memory. Director Charles Ferguson, using his smarts, his wit and his intelligent ways, acts like a journalist to figure out just how the hell it all happened. After all, from what Ferguson can tell is that this was a problem almost everyone within the financial world expected, however, no one wanted to actually accept as fact and continue living their very rich, luxurious lives as is, uninterrupted. And these are the same kinds of people that, through Ferguson, will be called-out and shown the error of their ways, yet, will they ever learn anything? And while we’re at it, what about the country as a whole? Will we ever learn anything, either? Or, will we just continue to keep on bailing out the some fools who put us in these financial messes in the first place?

Tisk tisk tisk.

Evil.

Evil.

It’s actually quite odd watching Inside Job after the Big Short since, in a way, they’re kind of the same movie. They both are dealing with the financial crisis, how it happened, who as to be blamed, what was trying to be done in order to stop it, and a little bit of the result. However, what made that movie more accessible, aside from all of the big-names in the cast and whatnot, was the fact that it actually lended a helping hand to the everyday movie-goer out there who may have not known some of the trickier titles of certain things associated with the finanical world. Don’t get me wrong, director Charles Ferguson, solely through the sooting, yet smart voice of Matt Damon, tells us certain things we need to know in order to give us a clearer and better understanding of what the hell everyone’s talking about, and what it’s ultimate reason for existing is, but there’s not nearly as much hand-holding here, as there was in the Big Short.

Which means, yes, be ready to be a tad confused. However, watching this after the Big Short definitely helped me, as there were a lot of key phrases and terms that I needed to know going in, and considering that I already did know them, it was basically smooth sailing from there on out.

Well, then again, not really.

See, Inside Job is dealing with some pretty infuriating material and real-life consequences here, and it also makes it an even harder pill to swallow when you consider that Ferguson is not backing down, or away, from a single part of it. Every person he has the chance to interview, he does; every small detail that helps explain what happened with this financial crisis, he tells; and every finger that needs to be pointed, well, he points. Ferguson is the kind of documentarian that the world needs more of – not because he has the balls to actually go up to a person who may need a hard line of questioning and actually do said thing, but because he takes a lot of narrative choices on what is, essentially, dry material. Some people out there in the world may not give a single lick about finances or mortgages – Ferguson knows this – and in trying to have some of us actually care, like at all, he reminds us that all of these issues are still going on in the world we currently live in and unfortunately, they’re not getting much better.

Eviler.

Eviler.

Okay, maybe there has been some improvement since 2010, but still: Ferguson knows and understands that this is a huge issue that needs to be discussed and addressed, but he also doesn’t want to be the only person doing it. He wants to fill everybody in on all of the corruption and all of the wrongs that have been committed from those who, honestly, should know better. But instead, they’re more concerned with whether or not they have three yachts, instead of two, rather than caring about how all of the riches and rewards they get and benefit off of, other people lower down the food chain, take the hard end of.

Yes, Ferguson is clearly on a soap-box here and he should definitely be allowed to be – the guy has something that he wants to say, but really, just allows for the people he interviews, or, in some cases, doesn’t interview.

After all, some of the guiltiest people that Ferguson has no issue of mentioning, either don’t show up on camera at all, or when they do, they’re absolute dicks about it all. A few people, for instance, actually seem as if they’re nice, easygoing people who are absolutely pleased with participating in a documentary about the financial-crisis and the world of finance. However, that all changes when Ferguson himself decides to switch things up, ask them the hard questions about their guilt and their professionalism, and all of sudden, their moods change. There’s quite a few people in this movie that happens with, to great comedic-effect, but the point has been proven: These people are guilty and they deserve to have their faces shone in the spotlight.

Cause, like we’ve said before, they’re the reasons for our economy’s downfall. And yet, we’re still the ones we’re paying for and caring about, if only because they dug themselves too deep into holes that they couldn’t get out of. Either way, despite all of this ranting and raving, yes, please see Inside Job, if you already haven’t done so. It will make your blood boil and your wallets bigger.

Consensus: Smart, intense and exciting, Inside Job is the right kind of documentary that doesn’t back down from asking the hard questions, while searching for whatever answers it can find in this sometimes confusing world of finance.

9.5 / 10

Evilest, More Evil, and Most Evilest of them all.

Evilest, More Evil, and Most Evilest of them all.

Photos Courtesy of: CTCMR

The Martian (2015)

Didn’t Christopher Nolan already make this movie?

After a crazy super-storm hits Mars, the Ares 3 mission is forced to abort their mission and head on back to Earth. Problem is, they do so without one of their members, a fellow by the name of Mark Watney (Matt Damon). Because he got by some space-thingy during the storm, everybody assumes that Watney died, but wouldn’t you know it? He wakes up the next day, stranded and no way to contact home. The only thing he’s got to work with is whatever gear the crew left back, which eventually equals out to a month’s left of food. Considering that it’s going to take nearly four years for NASA to send out another mission to come and rescue him, Watney’s got to come up with some neat, interesting and MacGyver-ish ways to create some food with what he’s got around. While he’s doing this and not trying to lose his freakin’ mind, back on Earth, NASA headquarters is figuring out a way that they can save Watney and to be able to do so in the most efficient way that’s not only safe to Watney, the crew, and the spaceship, but also to NASA’ public persona, as well.

Yep. Totally not the same director who did Prometheus.

Yep. Totally not the same director who did Prometheus.

Take all of those challenging, rather annoying aspects of Interstellar and Gravity, give them a sense of actual humor, throw in a Cast Away subplot (with no Wilson), and ensure that the audiences understand just what the hell is actually going on at any given time, and you have the Martian. And while I’m definitely not doing it any favors by making it sound like a carbon-copy of other, much better movies, I can assure you, that it’s better than that.

In fact, it’s way, way better than that.

For one, the Martian is a movie that never takes itself too seriously. While all of the trailers and ads have been promoting an ultra-serious, inspirational survival story, the movie’s actually a lot more fun and lighter than that. In fact, it’s humor is what just about saves it! At times, sure, it can seem like they’re playing “the joke card” a little too much, but if a movie about a dude stuck in an amazingly depression, isn’t depressing and finds ways to have me howling at the Lunar Eclipse, then sure, count me in. Hell, take all of my money!

Just make me laugh, dammit!

And while I wouldn’t necessarily tag the likes of Ridley Scott and “the comedy genre” together, somehow, they work perfectly with one another. Scott has been in desperate need of a winner these past couple of years, and now, seems like he finally has it. Sure, Scott isn’t trying anything new, experimental, or awfully hard that’s taking him into new areas that we may never see him try again, but there’s a nice feeling about that. For one, he’s not getting in the way of the movie and/or the wonderful script by Drew Goddard.

Secondly, he just allows for the story to tell itself. I know that this may sound like an easy compliment to give away – in fact, it may sound like something I’m just throwing out there to make my job a tad bit easier (you’re right). But no, seriously, making a movie with a story that seems as simple as this, and having it play out that way, yet, still being able to travel through little alleyways and side-streets to make it still seem fresh, exciting and most of all, original, is something extraordinary. Like I mentioned before, we’ve seen the Martian many times before in movies that, occasionally, are better. But the fact that this movie still finds a way to get you glued into its story, never let its grip get loose, and make you give a hoot about what happens to which characters, is a beauty to behold as it is.

There’s literally no reason we should care at all about Mark Watney, his crew, or those ass-bags back on Earth that work in a place called NASA (never heard of her), but as soon as Watney gets hit, the crew leaves without him, and NASA gets word of this, it’s an automatic adventure right from then on out. Now, to be honest, did we really need all of the NASA headquarter shenanigans? Probably not, but they help round the movie out a whole lot more and keep things exciting and above all else, interesting.

See, even though it is Matt Damon playing Mark Watney, watching him, and only him, try to survive on Mars, talk to cameras, listen to disco, use clever witticisms to express his feelings of the situation he’s in, and eventually, get a grip on the life he’s living and try to keep it going, probably would have gotten a bit boring and tedious. I mean, despite the recent flubs he’s been letting loose of, Matt Damon is, generally, a guy we all love to watch on-screen; he’s got that general, normal guy, everyday kind of feel where he seems like a bro you could hang around, enjoy his company, and go on happy about your day.

He wouldn’t give two shits because, well, he’s Matt Damon and he’s got celebrities to have brunch with.

A few years of community college and woolah! You're working for NASA, baby!

A few years of community college and woolah! You’re working for NASA, baby!

But what I’m trying to say is that yes, Matt Damon is a charming dude in practically everything he does, and that’s no different here with his performance as Mark Watney. Because Watney’s a wise-cracking, smart-ass dude that would much rather use sarcasm to mask his actual, genuine thoughts, Damon fits perfectly. He not only seems like the kind of dude who would have the next best, funniest thing to say in a conversation, but could also, in his own words, “science the hell out of this thing!” Not just because he works at NASA, mind you, but because he’s Matt Damon and he always seems like the smartest dude in the room.

Like I said though, the good thing about the Martian is that it takes its focus away from Damon’s Watney a bit and show just what the hell’s going on on planet Earth, what’s everybody trying to do to get him back home, and how it’s all going to come together. Now, the science in this movie I’m not too sure of, but I don’t think I needed to be – which is a good thing. Most sci-fi movies get themselves all tied-up in trying to explain too many loose-ends where it’s almost as if, rather than just actually giving us a random doohickey and letting us roll with, they have to go on and on about it as if it cares!

We get it! The thingy-ma-bob goes back in time! Cool! Move it along, folks!

But with the Martian, the science is there as a placement to show just how brilliant NASA is. And I kid you not, I am not joking here; the Martian is, in many words, an absolute, unabashed tribute to NASA, the powerful, enigmatic and brilliant minds that inhabit it and the inspiration it can give us all, so long as we think just like each and everyone of its workers do. This is as hokey as a blind girl touching a horse’s nose, but somehow, it all works and is, as much as I hate to admit it, inspiring.

Though the Martian is, basically, a sarcasm-laced, sci-fi survival tale, above all else, it’s a movie about the power of what can be done when you’re using your brain. If you think things through to the best of your ability and seem to know what you’re talking about, then you too, can learn to live and survive on a planet like Mars longer than anybody ever expected you to. All you have to do is put your mind to it, long and hard enough, and eventually, you’ll get there. If you don’t, then think harder or open up a book! Learn something dammit!

Gosh! I gotta go back to school!

Consensus: Exciting, compelling, emotional, and surprisingly hilarious when you don’t at all expect it to, the Martian is the best kind of sci-fi blockbuster that has you using your brains, but at the same time, still enjoying the wild and fun ride while it lasts.

9 / 10

I won't even dare tell you what that actually is.

I won’t even dare tell you what that actually is. Just know this, count me out for a trip to Mars anytime soon.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Zero Theorem (2014)

We live in a world full of nothing. Now, go get some pizza!

Q (Christoph Waltz) is a programmer in the near-future, where everybody dresses like drag queens from the 80’s, interact to one another through computer-screens, and mostly don’t understand the world around them. Not Q, though, as he makes it abundantly clear on a few occasions that he does in fact believe that our lives, this world we live in, and the universe as a whole, leads up to nothing. Regardless of if he’s correct or not, he knows he has to prove this with a computer-program, but he finds himself getting more and more sidetracked as he continues to get closer to completing his assignment. For one, he meets a lovely, incredibly smokin’ hot girl by the name of Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry), who he starts to fall in love with, even though he knows she’s a stripper and gets paid for a living to sweep guys like him off their feet. Also, to make matters a bit worse, he’s forced to work with Bob (Lucas Hodges), a young whippersnapper who has a lot to say and is trying to help Q out with solving this problem, but eventually finds himself trying to solve most of Q’s problems in real life. Which, at this current place in time, just so happens to be his affections for Bainsley.

"But I thought this was just a check-up?"

“But I thought this was just a check-up?”

Though I’m not a huge fan of Terry Gilliam and most of the work he puts out, I have to give him credit for at least trying to give his audience something more, something creative, and most of all, something ambitious that most movie-going audiences wouldn’t normally have the chance to see. Some say that about Christopher Nolan (I’m one of them), but it’s obvious that they’re both two different film-makers; they may seem to be working for the same movie-going audience, but when it comes to see who actually sees their movies and why, it’s a bit different. Nolan’s crowd is the accessible, more mainstream crowd, whereas Gilliam’s audience is a tad more limited, meaning that it’s definitely the stranger type of crowd who swarm to see his movies.

However, that’s neither here nor there. The only problem I seem to have with Gilliam’s movies is that, most of the time, his ambitions seem to lose themselves and go over our heads. Much rather than seeming smart or interesting, they just seem random and relatively insane. And though one could make the argument that maybe this is exactly what Gilliam is going for, a part of me knows this not to be true and instead, knows that Gilliam’s going for something with his movies – they just don’t always work.

That said, a movie like the Zero Theorem is one that I’m able to give a pass. Because while it’s goofy, over-the-top, campy, and seemingly crazy, it never lost my interest and seemed to beg questions that deserved to begged about in the first place.

For instance, is this world we live in now (or the near-future), more comfortable with interacting with a computer-screen, disguised as another human being, much rather than actually going out there and communicating with others, face to face? This is an honest question that deserves to be brought up and while it may be nothing new, Gilliam still brings it up in a way that’s relevant, but seems pertinent to the story. The fact that Q is a computer-programmer of some sorts (his job title is never fully made clear to us), makes it easier to understand why he’d not only be so infatuated with someone through the wonderful, lovely world that is the internet, but actually go so far as to get distracted about the beautiful, pleasureful things it can bring to one’s life.

And though this may all seem preachy, Gilliam keeps it away from being as such and it’s a smart move on his part. It’s not the only one, but it’s the one I found most noticeable.

Another person worth mentioning here is Christoph Waltz as Q who, in one of his first roles that isn’t in a Quentin Tarantino movie, actually impressed me with what he was able to bring to the script and his character as a whole. While it’s easy to fall for Waltz in most movies where he’s constantly speaking, and using that silver-tongue of his, here, Waltz is simply made to react to everything and everyone around him. This not only brings a lot of comedy to the film, but makes us sympathize a bit more with this character who, in any other movie, could have been made out to be some sort of sad sack, miserable a-hole that nobody would want to be around. But because he’s in this world wherein he knows that everything means nothing, you sort of feel bad for the dude and want him to cheer up, smile a bit, and possibly forget all about the meaning of life. Just living it is enough, honestly.

I'll let her check my heartbeat any time.

I’ll let her give me some medicine for that cough of mine any time.

And because it’s easy to feel for Q, it’s also easier to feel for the other characters in this movie, as strange as they sometimes may be. As Bainsley, the webcam hooker/stripper, Mélanie Thierry not only fits the role of being incredibly gorgeous, but also is quite charming, which makes it easy to understand why she’d fall for such a nut-job like Q. Same goes for the characters played by Lucas Hodges and David Thewils; though they don’t necessarily “fall” for Q in the same way that Bainsley does (that would have been a whole different movie entirely), they still feel for the guy and be present in his company. Some of it’s because they like to laugh at his expense, but some of it is also because they want to help the guy and make the world seem a bit brighter and better for him, even if they know that the task is almost impossible to complete. But nonetheless, they’re mostly all sympathetic characters.

Most of this is, yes, because the cast is very good at helping us understand who these characters are a bit more, but also because Gilliam gives them enough detail here and there, that not only shows us that he cares for them, but wants them to be happy in the end as well. Being the storyteller he is, he knows that he has to stick to how he wants his story to end first and foremost, but at the end of it all, he remains hopeful and cheerful that they’ll get the life they oh so desire. Even if, like Q, he still can’t help but scoff at what it all means.

If anything at all.

Consensus: Weird and over-the-top, the Zero Theorem finds Terry Gilliam in his comfort-zone, but still allows himself to breathe a bit more with detailed characters, ideas about the way our society is headed, and why, if at all, any of it matters.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Not Halloween, mind you. Just a normal Friday in the world of Gilliam-land.

Not Halloween, mind you. Just a normal Friday in the world of Gilliam-land.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Interstellar (2014)

Huh?

It’s the near-future and the Earth is slowly dying. There appears to be huge gusts of dusty winds about every couple hours or so, but rather than surrendering and calling it quits, people on Earth have learned to just accept it and make it a daily occurrence. Astronaut-turned-farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), also happens to be one of these people, yet, still finds enough time out of his day to teach his kids the simple ways of life that he wants them to live by, no matter how crazy things get for this world. That’s when the bombshell gets totally dropped on him from a former confidante of his (Michael Caine), and is given a task: Take a ship and a crew, and find if there is anywhere out there that the human-population can live on. The catch is that time is a lot different in space, so while Cooper may be traveling to the Milky Way for five or six years, on Earth, it’ll be nearly twenty years. So yeah, while it’s a big sacrifice for Cooper, it’s one that he’s willing to take and does so. But, as one can expect, when you’re out there in the vast, open area that is space, you never know what can happen, or how.

"Alright, alright, alright. What the hell's this?"

“Alright, alright, alright. What the hell’s this?”

If any person out there didn’t think Christopher Nolan was ambitious enough, well then, my friend, think again. Because while Nolan may be something of a household name by now, he still doesn’t adhere totally by the mainstream rules and regulations that so many other films out there follow hook, line, and sinker. Whereas some movies like to make their conclusions clear to us right from the very start and still ask us to just enjoy the ride while it lasts, Nolan appreciates throwing us curve-balls that we never totally expect to see coming, nor do we ever think of while we’re watching any movie, not just his. In other words, Christopher Nolan is the type of film-maker who likes to think outside the box, and in a day and age like this, where wonderful film makers seem to by falling by the waist-side, there’s something to behold and honor, rather than spit on and scoff at.

Then again though, not everybody’s perfect. Meaning, neither is Christopher Nolan.

Yes, I know, say it ain’t so! But sorry, it is. Christopher Nolan, while an ambitious film maker that loves to reach for the stars (and literally so on this occasion) with nearly everything he touches with his creative paws, every once and a blue moon (more space puns), hits a brick wall and can’t help but fumble over his own words. Sort of like how I am with cute girls at bars, but that’s a different story, for a different day, people; this is Christopher Nolan’s story here, and for that, it’s really hard to review. Not because the plot can be easily spoiled with even the slightest, teeniest piece of info/detail, but because my thoughts are still in a bit of a jumble, nearly five days after having already seen it.

FIVE DAYS, PEOPLE!!

Anyway, like I was saying before, there’s something to be said for a fella like Nolan who, while not always make perfect sense with everything he does in his movies, especially his later ones, still finds a way to enthrall his audience with enough pretty stuff on screen to keep people’s minds off of some of the more troubling-aspects of his stories. Like, for instance, how in the hell would NASA be capable of building all of these maintainable, trustworthy space ships to not just transport mostly all of the Earth’s population to a different planet, but to do so in an efficient way that doesn’t make everybody jump from being a young, rowdy, and crazy 21-year-old, to being an old, saggy, and beaten-down 88-year-old?

“Who cares though, Dan? Just look at how wonderfully exquisite deep outer-space is?”, I could imagine one of Nolan’s ultra fanboys pleading to me; to which I’d respond with a swift slap to the face and a big, “Well, yeah, you’re right. I guess,” and then I’d hate them forever for making me accept the fact. Because yes, Interstellar’s production design is beautiful in just about every instance. Although I didn’t see this in IMAX or 70mm like I would have wished, there was still plenty to gaze at and just grab a hold of. Because if there’s anything that Nolan cares about the most, it’s the way his movies look, sound, and overall, feel. If they are able to do this in a lovely manner, this his job, for the most part, is done.

"If we can't have corn, then nobody will!"

“If we can’t have corn, then nobody will!”

But that’s not to say that the rest of this movie is bad, it’s just very disappointing. For instance, the first 2/3’s of this movie are well-done, like I usually expect from a Nolan movie. He sets up the characters nice enough to where we get an understandable feel to them; he creates this futuristic world that isn’t too cheesy on the set-designs, but is more or less, just what the Earth looked like in the 1890’s, before all of this damn electricity began running our lives; and hell, though the explanation behind the main conflict is a bit fumbled, I still rolled with it because it seemed simple enough to get invested in. Simply, this is supposed to be a story about a group of astronauts going out into the deep depths of outer-space, hopping from planet to planet, and as usual, running into the occasional problem here and there.

For me, that’s dumbed-down and easy enough that I don’t care about the extraneous amount of sci-fi exposition Nolan decides to throw at me – I just want to be entertained, bedazzled, and feel as if I am apart of something. This is how the first hour or so felt, and that’s why I was totally on-board with this. In a way, I felt as if this was going to be Nolan’s most ambitious yet, but was totally going to pay-off. Maybe, just maybe, it could have been my favorite of his? The same kind of movie that I desperately plead to my fellow friends and confidantes to give another shot and look deeper into it? That’s what it was going to be, I thought.

Sadly, that’s not how it turned out to be.

See, without me saying too much and ruining the experience for all ya’ll out there, I’ll simply state this: Nolan, more often than not, in the later-part of this movie, decides that he doesn’t know how to keep this movie moving long and hard enough to sustain its nearly three-hour run-time. So, to make sure that none of our minds leave the screen, he constantly throws random plot-points, where certain character’s motivations are hardly ever explained, and we’re left to feel some sort of emotional connection to what is happening. Without saying much, certain characters do some pretty mean, distasteful, and downright idiotic things, but rather than feeling as if it’s a genuine mistake for these fully fleshed-out characters, it feels like Nolan’s just throwing whatever he can at the wall, seeing what sticks, and hoping that he hasn’t lost us just yet.

But that’s exactly what happens. He not only loses us, but seems to dig himself deeper and deeper into the conventional hole of storytelling, where not only can the audience see what’s happening from a mile away, but can also say why. To me, this is an absolute disappointment coming from Nolan, the same kind of director who prides himself in being more than just your average, dime-a-dozen director; he’s the imaginative, relatively original imaginary that dares you to second-guess his directorial choices. Here though, it’s all too clear that whatever Nolan’s been doing for his whole career up to now, there’s a slight disconnect. He wants to be the cool, artsy director that challenges the mainstream into using their brains a little bit more, but still falls for the typical cliche that Hollywood has practically mapped-out for every movie to follow.

Honestly, I could harp on this aspect of the movie until the cows come home, but it wouldn’t do neither you, nor me any good; it would only confuse us more. What I do want to say though, that while the movie may get predictable for its last hour-and-a-half, there’s still always something to watch. Whether it’s in the way in how the camera glides so peacefully over a certain landscape of Nolan’s own creation, listening to that pulse-pounding score that isn’t quite over-bearing, but isn’t subtle either, or paying attention the performances from this well-stacked cast who, with what they’re given try their damn near hardest to make it resonate with anybody watching at home.

Speaking of them, I think it’s best for me to remind people that while Nolan’s movie may misfire plenty by the end, the cast always stays decent and hardly ever strays away from being as such. Matthew McConaughey is in his comfort-zone as Cooper, but it’s a comfort-zone that I almost never get tired of, especially when he’s able to make his character a complicated individual that, given what we know about the task he has, we are told to like and root for. It’s easy because McConaughey is such a charming presence and is able to make every line in which his character spouts science gibberish, seem believable.

Something that, ten years ago, probably would have never happened. But thus, we live in a world where the McConaissance is alive and well.

My feelings exactly.

My feelings exactly.

And thank heavens for that, too.

Another one to chat about is Anne Hathaway who is good in her role as another astronaut that Cooper ends up bonding with a bit, but soon begins to get annoying to watch when we realize that Nolan doesn’t have much confidence in this character to make her a reasonable, thoughtful human. Her character not only makes a few life-changing, dumb mistakes, but even has the gull to say that they happened because of “L-O-V-E”. I won’t say who she says this about, or why, but it’s absolutely ludicrous to think that Nolan would ever throw this into a film and it’s just another sign that he needed some sort of help to keep this movie’s train a movin’.

Though, as poorly-written as Hathaway’s character may be, at least she’s given something to do, whereas the rest of the cast is sort of left in the dust. Talented peeps such as Casey Affleck, Ellen Burstyn, Jessica Chastain, David Gyasi, and yes, even Topher Grace, are mostly left in the background for the majority of the movie. And while it’s nice to see their bright and shining faces in such a wonderfully-looking movie, it feels like a waste of some genuine talents that deserve so much more to work with, all credibility aside.

But, at the end of the day, this is a Christopher Nolan movie and what it all really comes down to is this: Do you want to see it in theaters, or not? Personally, I think it’s worth the trip to the theaters, because even while it gets silly by the end, there’s still something stunningly beautiful about this movie that not only compels you enough to pay attention to what’s going on, and even think about what exactly is happening. Even if it doesn’t fully make sense, it’s still making you latch open your brain and do something with it that you maybe haven’t been able to do with many other movies.

And that, my friends, is how Christopher Nolan rolls. For better, and definitely, for worse.

Consensus: Ambitious to a certain fault, Interstellar finds Christopher Nolan grabbing for whatever he can think of next, and while it occasionally works, he falls on his face a bit too many times to make this still feel like something of a disappointment, albeit, a very interesting one that’s worth at least checking out. In the biggest, loudest, and best theaters possible. Trust me.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Uhm. Yeah.

Uhm. Yeah. This happens.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbizGoggle Images

Hereafter (2010)

Jason Bourne: Ghost Whisperer.

Three different stories across Earth come together because of one major factor one experiences in his, or her life: Death. There’s George (Matt Damon), who has a “gift” in which he can speak with people’s lost ones through the after-life, and considers it more of a curse than anything else. Then, there’s French journalist Marie Lelay (Cécile de France) who has a near-death experience when she vacations to Thailand during the infamous 2004 earthquake and tsunami, and finds herself in a bit of a trance-like phase afterwards when she has to get back to functioning in everyday, normal life. And lastly, there’s twin-brothers Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren), who both stick by one another as their drug-addicted mum gets worse and worse everyday, only to then be left alone when one of the twins die in a car-accident. All three people deal with death in their own ways and somehow, through the sheer power of fate, chance, or maybe even luck, connect while still looking for the same answers: Just what exactly happens to one when they die? Is it all just dark and blank? Or, is there more beauty and wonder to being dead?

At the time of this movie’s release, Clint Eastwood was 80-years-of-age and still going strong with life (as well as with the ladies) I presume. However, even a bad-ass mofo like himself has to at least accept the reality that yes, even he may die one of these days. And yes, for a man of his age, that could mean anytime soon.

"Come play with us, Danny."

“Come play with us, Danny.”

Though that sounds morbid and all, I only mean it as a way to understand his inspiration in deciding to direct a movie such as this. See, it’s all about the idea of death, what happens to us when we succumb to it, and what is there left to do after? Do we all just float around like ghosts, spooking people in horror movies and occasionally being spotted in strange photos? Or, do we live in this glow-y, supernatural after-life in which we all just hang out, party it up like no tomorrow and just wait for our loved-ones to eventually join us whenever their time on Earth is up? It’s never been proven which actually happens or not, and even though there are some people who like to say that they know exactly what happens, there’s still not enough fact to fall back on.

That said, Eastwood’s movie makes a pretty interesting claim that it doesn’t matter if we know or not, living this life on Earth is what matters most. We have to make the best of it and not get bogged down by the fact that people we know are dead and that we will be soon; we just got to keep calm and chive on, or so I’m told.

Which brings me back to what I was originally going on about: Eastwood’s age meaning something. Because see, even somebody of Eastwood’s respected stature among masculine-men, has to eventually realize that he soon will die and be gone from those he loves, or anybody else in the world for that fact. Once again, I know it sounds depressing, but it really isn’t – at least not in Eastwood’s case who is actually leaving a large body of work behind him as his legacy, where most people have just their regular, everyday lives. Still, not saying one person’s death is less important than another’s, I’m just saying that I wouldn’t be surprise if the reason as to why Eastwood decided to get behind this movie and direct it, had a little bit to do with the fact that he himself is getting up there in age and closer and closer to being gone.

And with Eastwood here, his direction is very surprising. The choices he makes (like barely any score heard in the background, dim-lighting, long-winded scenes of dialogue) keep this movie interesting, in a small, contained way. It’s not something we often see from Eastwood or his flicks, however, it’s something that made me think that even though he’s older, he still has new, creative ways to show that he can shake things up, if only ever so slightly. You get a sense that Eastwood not only wants to pay attention to the themes about dying and the after-life, but also to the story and these characters, without really trying to get in the way of what it is that they do with their time on Earth. It would have been easy for him to do so, too, but Eastwood, being the dignified man he is, leans back and just lets most of the characters speak for themselves with their actions, wants, and needs.

However, there was something terribly “off” to this whole feature. And before anybody gets on my case and makes a point that “not every movie has to be played at a pace of 110 mph”, I will say this: It was not the pace of this movie that bothered. Even if it was slow and calm, it did not bother me; in fact, it did quite the opposite, it kept me watching. But no, what the real problem was that most of the movie felt like a smaller-scaled, less eventful indie that didn’t rely on the sheer-spectacle of its story, or the budget it was granted, but more of its characters, their feelings, emotions, etc.

But for some reason, by the end, Eastwood starts take steps further and further away from this mode of filming, and gets quite sentimental after awhile. Worst of all, he has most of this story ring false notes that I wish I didn’t see coming, but sadly, did. Meaning that when they did happen, they brought down the emotions going into this story and why it mattered to us that these three characters eventually find peace, love and happiness with their lives.

For instance, the character of George is a great example of what I’m trying to say. Here’s a guy who starts the movie out by contacting somebody’s dead wife and shows that what he has, is a total gift and is not a lie whatsoever. However, he doesn’t want to be known as “the guy who can talk to the dead”, whom everybody swarms and attacks, hoping that they too can speak with their lost, loved ones. You feel sympathy for him because he just wants to live a calm and peaceful life, yet, at the same time, also feel bad for him because he’s lonely and can’t really tell any person that he wants to be with for the rest of his life, who he really is, or what special talents he has deep in the pits of palms.

The French have always been known to be quick on their feet. Possibly an offensive joke. I don't know yet.

The French have always been known to be quick on their feet. Possibly an offensive joke. I don’t know yet.

It should be noted that, as usual, Damon is great in this role as George, because he’s pretty much the everyday man. Sure, he may have a unique talent that puts him in a different category from “everybody else”, but Damon plays him well to where it seems like this is just your ordinary, average dude who just wants to be happy, man. However, what ruins George by the end is that he makes some decisions that seem terribly contrived and only allowed so that he can eventually meet-up with the two other main characters in this movie. Didn’t quite work for me as much as I would have liked, and believe it or not, probably would have been a lot better off had it just been avoided in the first place.

With a movie like this, it’s almost expected that these three would eventually cross paths, but I feel like since their lives were each so miserable and painful as they were, that being separated from one another would make the movie more interesting, albeit, believable. But, as expected, Eastwood went with the conventional-route and made sure that these three eventually find ways of meeting one another and affect each other’s lives in big, meaningful ways; as hackneyed as they may have been.

As for the other two, or should I say, three, in this cast, Cécile de France and both Frankie and George McLaren are fine in their roles, although the latter two may not fair as well as de France. It’s not that I like picking on child actors, but when kids give bad performances, I recognize it and here, with both Frankie and George McLaren, they clearly can’t handle the material as well. Then again, they’re twins playing, essentially, the same character at most points, so I guess that’s a gimmick Eastwood himself couldn’t resist in trying out for size.

Sadly, it pains me to say that Clint may have been beaten-out. Yup, I went there and I find myself wanting to come back as soon as I just typed-it.

Please don’t hurt me, Clint.

Consensus: Hereafter is definitely made more interesting by the fact that somebody of Clint Eastwood’s stature and talents would get behind it, but sadly, even he succumbs to the more schmaltzy, sentimental happenings that overtake the last-half or so.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

The first date and she already wants him to contact the dead. Typical of women, am I right men?

The first date and she already wants him to contact the dead. Typical of women. Am I right guys?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

The Monuments Men (2014)

Tell ’em, Nic! Nothing’s more important than stealing the Declaration of Independence and they know it!

During the final, winding-days of WWII, art-historian (George Clooney) is gripped with a task on his hands: Assemble a group of seven, fellow art-groupies, go through basic training, and find a way to gather and collect all of the ancient pieces of art, sculpture and paintings that the Nazis have apparently been hiding during the war. At first, once the men get taken into behind enemy lines in Germany, they realize that this whole mission may be a ball – one soldier (Matt Damon), comes close to even getting laid by a stern, but somehow stunningly hot French-gal (Cate Blanchett). But sooner than later, things begin to take a turn for the worse once the Nazis begin to see themselves getting more and more desperate as the days go by, therefore, having Hitler himself order that all art be destroyed, in hopes that it won’t reach their rightful, original owners. Smart idea on old Adolf’s part, but he soon realizes that he is no match for the Ocean‘s crew! With the exception of Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, and even Rob Reiner. Yep, none of them are here, but at least we got Bob Balaban to spice things up, right?

George Clooney, the actor, is known to be a class-act that you can always count on to deliver, no matter what piece of material he may be in. He’s always got that cool-look, that charm, that wit and that swiftness to him that makes every dude in the theater lobby want to be him and discover his make-up team’s contact info; whereas he makes every lady swoon for the day that she may just be able to get snatched up into good old George’s hands. And ladies, if you’re less than two times his age, you run a pretty good chance at being his next-in-line!

"Wow. So this really was painted by Leonardo DiCaprio?"

“Wow. So this really was painted by Leonardo DiCaprio?”

But I digress….

While George Clooney, the actor, may be somebody we can trust and rely on to give great work, George Clooney, the director, isn’t always someone we can count on. Most of the time, Clooney seems to not only do stuff that only seems to interest himself and his buddies, but he more often than not, drops the ball on what could have been something cool and interesting. The Ides of March, for the most part, just relied so heavily on the performances from its stacked-cast, that I almost forgot Clooney even directed it, or even had a story written-out for it; Leatherheads didn’t have much of a chance of being anything spectacular, but at least he tried with it; Good Night, And Good Luck will always seem to be his crowning-jewel where everything he sets out to do, he nails to near-perfection; and then of course, we have his debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind that seemed to only get away with the fact that it had rich source-material to begin with, despite Clooney finding a way to make a story about a game-show-host-turned-CIA-agent somewhat depressing and rather boring.

So yeah, as you can tell, I know a thing or two about Clooney’s track-record as director and most of the time, it doesn’t always pan-out so well. That’s why I gave this movie the benefit of the doubt, even despite it being pushed-back from its original, Christmas Day release-slot (apparently due to “special-effects problems“). However though, once again, I digress…

Anyway, what I am trying to get at here is that while Clooney may not always be consistent as a director, he’s always the kind of guy that interests me with anything that he touches his palms with, solely because it’s him, and he knows quality. Here, on the other hand, we have a movie that definitely seems like the type of movie he feels strong and passionate about, yet, never really seems to let come-off of the ground. But you’d never know if he felt any passion or love for this true-life story of heroism, and men fighting for what they truly believed in, because we never get the right details we should to fully believe in these characters, this story or anything else that happens. Yeah, I know that all of this is true, but watching this movie, you’d still never get a full clue as to what is happening, why, how and who was involved. For all I know, the actual, real-life soldiers who were involved with this mission could have been a rusty crew of old geezers that loved to make jokes while they were standing on deadly land-mines, hung-out and smoked cigs with Nazi soldiers wanting to kill them, and even crack some funny-ones while half of Russia’s army comes storming after them, wanting their heads, as well as the various paintings they can’t seem to get enough of.

But what’s so surprising to me about this movie, is that it never seems like Clooney knows that he’s messing-up by not giving us any reason to care for these people, their mission or the heart and soul they shed for these pieces of art; it’s almost as if showing us that they were willing to risk their lives for these paintings was already enough assurance that they do wholly, and fully care about these paintings. However though, it doesn’t work and it should have. Even if Clooney decided to give us maybe one or two minutes dedicated to these guys being wrangled-up and ready for the mission, it would have made a huge difference – we would have not only cared for these dudes, but cared about the mission they were setting-upon as well. Also, probably would have given this movie more of a drastic-feel to it, especially once these guys started getting perishing.

Somehow though, as much as I may rag on this movie, as well as what Clooney does as a director, I was able and more than willing to just let myself have fun and enjoy the old-style, nostalgic kind of war-flick that George himself was so obviously going for. Personally, I don’t think he hits all of the right notes, but if there was ever a war flick that I could sit-down and watch with my whole family, even my much-younger cousins, it’s this one. That’s not saying it’s great or anything, and surely doesn’t get past the fact that movie itself has its fair-share of faults and problems, but it definitely kept me entertained throughout most of the movie.

She's French, she's willing and best of all, you probably won't ever see her again in your life. Why wouldn't you tap that?!?!?

She’s French, she’s willing and best of all, you probably won’t ever see her again in your life. Why wouldn’t you tap that?!?!?

Once again, I stress the fact that it wasn’t perfect, but, if you have nothing else better to do for your Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or what have you, evening, then I can’t say this would be a terrible. There’s definitely plenty of other options to go and check-out before this, but if grand-mom and grand-pop want to spend some “quality time”, I’d say point their head in this movie’s direction, and you’ll definitely be promised a spot in the will. Sounds harsh, but I’m just saying.

Love you G-Mom and G-Pops!

Most of where my enjoyment with this movie came from was just through the cast and how, despite how thinly-written most of their material may have been, they still prevailed and kept me smiling. Like I stressed before, Clooney the actor is fine and is charming enough to make you see past the obvious-faults that this role only serves him to break-out into soliloquies every once and awhile about how men should always stand-up for what they believe in, no matter how looked-down upon it may be from others; Matt Damon is entertaining enough to watch as his second-in-command, James Granger, who is gone for quite some time and separated from the rest of the action, but is still somehow able to make his story the least-bit interesting, just by showing up and smiling (because we all know, once Matt Damon smiles, we all gotta smile!); and Cate Blanchett somehow makes a thankless-role as a French-spy, somewhat memorable by making her out to be a bit of a weirdo that also longs for a connection. Then again, maybe I’m just reaching.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re fine, but it’s obvious they aren’t doing anything exceptional. Bill Murray is always Bill Murray in anything he does, but he’s slightly less charming and “Bill Murray-ish” than he usually is, and less of that has to do with him as a performer, and more with just how the script does not use him; in fact, I’d say that they use Bob Balaban a bit more in the sense that they give him a scene where he gets to be somewhat “bad-ass”, as you’ve never seen him before (and trust me, you sure as hell haven’t!); John Goodman is his usual lovable, big-hearted, always cheery-self that also happens to be a soldier named “Walter“; Hugh Bonneville is fine as one of a British soldier who puts his life-on-the-line, as does everybody else, but gets to show his bravery in a slightly-memorable way; and Jean Dujardin, despite having an interesting role in Wolf of Wall Street, still feels like a previous Oscar-winner gone to a bit of a waste by now, however, I hope the tide turns around for him sooner than later. Because surely, we wouldn’t want another Roberto Benigni on our hands, now would we?

Consensus: Another misstep in Clooney’s directorial-catalog, the Monuments Men takes what could have been a very thrilling, exciting and emotional war-tale, and makes it uneven, poorly-developed and only entertaining in its bits and pieces, which is mostly thanks to all of the effort the cast puts into it.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Hey, remember that time when we almost got our heads shot-off by a bunch of Nazi soldiers? Hahahahaahah!!!"

“Hey, remember that time when we almost got our heads shot-off by a bunch of Nazi soldiers? Hahahahaahah!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

One could only imagine the type of dirty dealings Alex Trebek does on the side when he isn’t correcting dorks.

Many out of you out there probably know who Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) actually is just by his pop-culture relevance. He hosted the Gong Show, created the Dating Game, was infamous for his crazy personality on-and-off the screen and, from plenty of sources, apparently had a long-standing battle with drug-addiction that not only took over his professional, but most of his personal life as well. Oh and he was also a spy for the CIA too, apparently. Yeah, didn’t think about that one now did ya?

Whenever Gong Show reruns would show up when I was around, I’d always be wondering what the hell was up with the host. The guy always seemed like he was one step behind on everything else that was going on around him, which would have only made more sense if it was just that he did blow two seconds before the cameras began rolling. Much to my surprise though, the guy was actually part of the CIA, wrote an autobiography about it and even had a movie directed about his wild and crazy life. This is where I started to have second thoughts about this guy; but nope. My opinion still remains: Chuck Barris is a frickin’ nut.

Like the old joke goes: "Julia Roberts walks into the bar, and automatically, every dude's bought her a martini."

Like the old joke goes: “Julia Roberts walks into the bar, and automatically, every dude bought her a martini.” Or something of that nature.

Much more of a surprise to me was to find out that not only was there a biopic made about his wild life and times, but that it was also directed by one George Clooney. Apparently, Clooney found something quite interesting about this guy’s life that he wanted to make a movie about it all, adapting from the Barris’ own autobiography; and therein lies the problem.

See, since most of this is coming from the point-of-view of Barris and not really anybody else around him, we never know what’s real, what’s real fiction, what’s a bunch of crap that he just made-up in his head and what was done by Clooney, all for the sake of entertainment-purposes. Thankfully, most of it all seems legit in Barris’ own, twisted way and because of that, the movie comes-off as more of a biopic, rather than just a sensationalized, Hollywood story about a top-dollar guy in the showbiz. It’s a little bit weird; it’s a little bit twisty; it’s a little bit sad; it’s a little bit compelling; and it’s a little bit interesting. Which, when put altogether, made it worth watching for awhile.

But still, I was actually very surprised by the fact that even though this seems to be one of those wacky, larger-than-life stories you’d only get in the movies, but is also happens to be true, it still happened to be like every other conventional story where a guy has hope in this world, shows signs of promise, does well for awhile, then, sooner than later, begins to self-destruct by one bad decisions, after another. Can’t say I hold it against this film or Clooney too much, considering all that he’s doing is actually giving us the story that he read and whole-heartedly believes in, but material like this should be popping off of the screen. Not seeming like something we’ve seen done a hundred times before, but this time, just so happens to focus on a pop-culture icon thrown into the ring of the CIA. Strange and oddly compelling as it sounds, sadly, it does not play-out that way.

On top of that, too, the story itself doesn’t really get started-off until the first hour. As a director, Clooney seems like he has a nice mixture of Scorsese and Sodebergh going on here, and it made this movie move quick and light, while also still focusing on a character and a story that would begin to get more and more interesting, just as it unraveled. Where Clooney excels the most with this material is in all of the showbiz/behind-the-scenes stuff because it gave me a great glimpse of how hard it was for Barris to actually get any of his shows off the ground, and how hard it may be for anyone out there who ever had a single, creative idea in their mind and wanted to see what they could do with it.

However, where Clooney mis-steps is in that kept on going back-and-forth between three elements of this story that didn’t seem to mesh so well. One was a romantic sub-plot he has with a couple of ladies that he finds cool and charming; the other is about his life as a TV game-show host; and the last one is about his CIA shenanigans. All do quite well in their own, respective fields, but spliced together, it feels uneven as if you couldn’t quite tell where George wanted to go with this material. Did he want it to be a biopic? A comedy about showbiz during the 70’s? A character-study about where this guy came from and his mind? Or, just a simple tale about the CIA, and all of the intrigue that goes along with it? Not saying you can’t focus on all of these elements and pack them into one, completely whole story, but there’s a better way to go about doing so, and yet, still making it compelling in every which way.

Then again though, it should be noted that this was George’s directorial-debut and while he may have not done the most perfect job in all of the world, it’s still impressive enough to see why he’d go on to make many other movies in the near-future. Not all of them were great, but they are still as interesting as this and it goes to show you what one guy can do if he doesn’t just have the looks and the talents, but the aspirations and ambitions as well. For that, I give George credit, even if it may seem like I’m ragging on him quite a bit.

I’m really not though, George. I’m not nearly half of the man you are. If only.

But what this movie gave us the most, was a solid look at Sam Rockwell and just exactly who the hell he was. As Chuck Barris, Rockwell nails everything perfectly – his goofy-demeanor, off-kilter sense of humor, and overall weirdness he carried on throughout his day-to-day activities. He’s a nut-ball for sure, but he’s not necessarily a likable one. Actually, better yet, he’s a bit of a dick, an unapologetic one at that, which makes it a bit hard to care about this guy at first. However, Rockwell is so believable and charming as Barris, that you almost forget about all of the morally questionable choices he’s made throughout the bulk of this movie. At one point, you actually feel bad for him considering he is so out-of-his-league and just not at all ready for what the world of the CIA has to throw at him. Though we never do quite know exactly what did, or what didn’t happen in Barris’ life, we still feel for the guy and see him as a human, and not just another Hollywood hot-shot, who got too big for his britches and ended-up getting in all sorts of trouble. Rockwell was great here though, and totally does carry this movie on his own two shoulders.

Fine wine and Scrabble with Drew. Think we found a new talk-show right then and there!

Fine wine and Scrabble with Drew. Think we found a new talk-show right here!

Makes me even happier to see that he’s still putting in great work today.

Though, I do have to say that Rockwell does have a bit of help from his co-stars, one of which is Clooney himself as the main, CIA-operative that gets Barris involved with all of these sheisty dealings in the first place. Clooney’s good and definitely up to his old-school charming ways, but after awhile, just felt like a plot-contrivance that would conveniently show up to deliver bad news for Barris, just when things seemed to be going jolly-good for the guy. It was also awesome to see Rutger Hauer as one of Barris’ fellow-agents out in the field that definitely provides some near and dear insight, but soon becomes to be a bit of a mysterious guy himself, and not in the good way mind you. Still though, it’s great to see Hauer getting some meaty-material, as the dude definitely deserves more of it.

This isn’t just a man’s show though, because there are some ladies here that get a chance to show up, strut their stuff and shake the boys’ party up a bit. Julia Roberts started-off pretty good as another CIA Agent that Barris meets out there in the field, but soon becomes every other role that we’ve seen her play, time and time again. Sad to see, but I guess I’ve expected it by now, right? Then there is Drew Barrymore as Penny, Barris’ long-lasting girlfriend of sorts and is fine, even though her character is a bit weak here. It isn’t Barrymore’s acting that’s the problem, but it seems like her character was written in a way in which she always tells Barris that he needs to knuckle down, even though he never does so; seems to always stand by his side, even if he just continues to bang other chicks right from underneath her nose; and basically, just never get himself clean and off-the-grind. Actually, one time, it happens right in front of her face, and yet, she doesn’t say anything until five minutes later! Made no sense! All she had to do was a grow a back-bone and leave that bastard! Especially when I’m out there on the market! Like, holla!

Consensus: There seemed to be plenty of promise in the source material of Chuck Barris’ life, but sadly, despite all of the best intentions of Clooney, Charlie Kaufman and the good ensemble, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind just never seems like anything more than just your standard, traditional biopic with lots of CIA-stuff and showbiz-satire thrown into the mix. Other than that, not much else.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

There's always got to be that one last guy who never gets the hint that "the party's over".

There’s always got to be that one, last guy who never gets the hint that “the party’s over”.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

Elysium (2013)

In the future, we can trust that Jason Bourne will be RoboCop and save the day.

It’s the year year 2154 and basically, the planet Earth has gone to shit. So shitty, in fact, that the most of the better-off citizens have now fled to an ideal, carefree space-station Elysium, where they don’t have to worry about injury, disease, poverty, being dirty, or anything at all for that matter. Because they run such a tight ship up there, mainly thanks to the Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster), nobody from Earth gets into their atmosphere or comes even close to polluting it. Their so well-off, that everybody down on planet Earth is just struggling to get by and make ends meet, especially factory-worker and ex-con Max DeCosta (Matt Damon), who now has an even bigger burden on his back of only being allowed 5 days left to live, due to a mishap at the factory he works at. In order to get back at the high-priced, corporate-heads that seemingly ruined his life and wanted nothing to do with him, Max has found a way to become super-strengthened, brutal, and ready for a fight, in hopes that he can take over Elysium, save his life, and gain many others on Earth, citizenship to roam about and have the same benefits as the ones on Elysium. However, when you have a whole space-station against you, as well as a ruthless mercenary (Sharlto Copley) who’s hungry for blood, the objective may be a lot harder for seemingly a one-man-army.

Yeah, sorry for the long-ass synopsis but I can’t help it. This movie got me pumped-up and still has me going a little bit crazy in the head! Not because it was confusing, mind-numbing, or psychological in any way, but because it’s straight and pure, sci-fi action-flick that we could only get during the last month of summer, and done so well by the same man who made a relatively similar blockbuster 4 years ago with District 9: Neil Blomkamp. That’s right, even though there are no aliens in refugee camps here, there’s still plenty of themes and ideas that Blomkamp likes to tuggle with, but also have some insane action go on as well, which is some of the best, most thrilling I’ve seen all summer. Don’t get me wrong, these past 3 months haven’t been lame or action-less at all, but they haven’t necessarily had me jumping in my seat quite as much as this one did throughout it’s hour-and-40-minute time-limit.

"Taste these apples, rich people!!"

“Taste these apples, rich people!!”

Honestly, it all just goes to show you what type of writer/director you’re working with here with Blomkamp as the guy seems like he has a vision, sticks to it, makes his points, but never gets over-preachy and forgets about what really matters the most about this flick: The enjoyment-factor. Plenty of times you can just hear Blomkamp’s material crying out, “immigration is bad”, “the government’s corrupt”, and even a little bit of “we are “the one percenters””, but it’s never over-done to where we stray away from the thrills and chills of this action, which is made even better by Blomkamp’s grand-eye for detail to creating this world and making it his, even if isn’t the most original thing out there in the world. Pretty much, you can tell that instead of there being aliens living in these run-down shacks, there’s humans, and also robots, however, Blomkamp keeps it interesting using CGI that almost looks too real to be taken as science-fiction. Even the little utopia of Elysium seems like it could be happening right outside in space right now, that’s how impressive these visuals are.

But enough of the visuals, back to the movie itself. What works here the most is that no matter where this story goes, no matter how many twists it throws at us, or hell, what it has to say about what it’s all a metaphor for; the movie never ceases to be thrilling. You’ll be on the edge of your seat for the longest amount of time, and even though there’s a couple of soft spots here and there for character-development and exposition, the movie continues to move and move at a rapid speed that you’ll feel like you’re all wrapped-up in this race along with Max and the rest of his friendly-followers. The world looks beautiful and realistic enough to bring you in, but it’s the pace and the energy that Blomkamp brings which keeps you there, and rarely ever lets you go. You’ll root for the good guys, even when they stand-up against the biggest and the worst obstacles in their way; and you’ll shiver in fright whenever you see a baddie coming from a mile away, putting you in the place of knowing something that the goodies don’t know. That feeling is what makes, but can also break most action-thrillers, but it does more of the former to this one and it’s a testament to Blomkamp’s direction for never settling for less and always going for the loud, thrashing sounds of bullets, explosions smacks, grabs, punches, breaks, and whatever the hell else the man has to throw at us or his characters.

Basically, in a nutshell: Blomkamp is the type of director, in general, that you have to keep your eye on. The man’s already two movies down, and he’s taking the sci-fi game by storm. Hell, he’s taking movies by storm! Just watch out for this guy. I’m telling ya!

First, we had a respected, quality-actor like Brad Pitt take on a “genre flick” earlier this summer with World War Z, and now his buddy here, Matt Damon, has done the same thing; except the fact that Damon’s may have been a better choice for him and his career in the long run. Damon’s general likability, and every-day look and feel of his acting repertoire, works so well for this character and has you immersed in Max and his story right away. We get that he’s a troubled guy, who grew up as an orphan, dreamed big, but had very little happen for him, and as hackneyed as that may sound, Blomkamp and Damon make it work and comes off as sympathetic. We feel for Max right from the beginning, and we follow him as he goes through whatever he has to do to stay alive, keep his morals in check, and also save other’s lives as well. Max isn’t a perfect human-being in the least bit, he can actually be kind of selfish at times, but he feels like a human-being nonetheless, and a very compelling one to watch as well. It probably also helps that Damon is always down for looking the part of a total ass-kicker, and it’s nice to see that his trimming-down days didn’t stop with the end of the Bourne franchise. Tack on a head full of nothing but skin, and you got a scary mofo; something I’d never thought I’d say about a performance coming from the always lovable Matt Damon.

"Gee, blimey! I'm wicked haaardcorre. That's Scottish enough, right?"

“Gee, blimey! I’m wicked haaardcorre. That’s Scottish enough, right?”

The person in this movie who I can say is easily the exact opposite in terms of character and acting here is Sharlto Copley as the mean, lean, blood-thirsty mercenary assigned the unofficial, but official task of killing Max before he goes too far into the system. In all honesty, Copley is so over-the-top, so crazy, and so insane with this role, that he ends up just about stealing the whole movie, despite him being totally out-of-place among the rest of the flick. Any lesser-actor probably would have been a freak-show you couldn’t love to just sit, point, and laugh at, but Copley, with about 3 movies I’ve seen him in so far, shows that he’s capable of making a total nut-job, actually frightening to be around, rather than a total joke from beginning to end. You know that once he shows up, bad shite is going to happen, and nothing’s going to bode well for the people he’s pursuing, which makes him all the more detestable, but also utterly and completely watchable. The scenes with him and Damon, whether they are chatting, fighting, or macho-posturing the shit out of the other, are filled with much deserved tension and suspense, as if the movie itself is going to rip apart and just let these two go at it for days on end.

The only one in this cast that I couldn’t really care for all that much was surprisingly Jodie Foster as the snarly, evil Secretary Delacourt. And trust me, it’s not that Foster gives a bad performance per se, hell, I think she’s incapable of doing so, but it something does seem to be a bit too weird about her character, from the accent that she forces out with every line, and what her real motivations are behind all of the sneaky crap she’s pulling. It was also probably more disappointing to see Foster in such a role that was meant to be so meaningful to the rest of the story, but somehow, wasn’t. From the trailers and even the posters, you’d think she’d have a bigger role everything, but she sort of takes the back-seat to some of the biggest, most pounding scenes, even if you know she’s somewhere in the background. Her presence is felt, but almost in the sense that you know she’s just waiting to act her ass off, yet, isn’t given the chance to. It’s all fine and wondrous because we’re able to be distracted by the rock-solid action and suspense, but it still feels like something is missing, and it’s Ms. Foster herself. Or at least more of her.

Consensus: Despite featuring most of the same ideas and points Blomkamp studied, and did a lot better with, in his first flick, Elysium still grabs ahold of you with it’s compelling, emotional story, continues to work it’s tension up, until it’s about to practically explode and take you down with it. That’s a good thing, by the way.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

And you call that, "gay"?

And you call that, “gay”?

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Just as surprised as Austin Powers when I watched this.

When he was 17 years old, Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) was introduced to Liberace (Michael Douglas) after one of his many, many terrific performances. At first, it seemed like Liberace took a liking to Thorson that not only started a relationship between the two, but also went so far as to almost have Scott adopted by Liberace himself. Sounds strange, yes, but it gets worse once Thorson becomes more and more jealous of Liberace, his success, and the idea that he too, may be getting older and expect the boot anytime soon.

I don’t usually do this, but considering this is “apparently” Steven Soderbergh’s last movie, and there has been a butt-load of praise for this one, I thought to myself, “Why not just a review a TV movie for once!” I mean, hey, it’s HBO, and they always put out quality films so why not give it a look-see and see if I want to make a review of it or not. Well, as you can obviously see, I decided to go along with it and I’m pretty glad to, even if it is a bit weird something like this would get the television treatment.

Supposedly, Soderbergh did all that he could to get this movie out there and in the open for Hollywood producers to take, but apparently it was “too gay” for the mass-audiences, so, why not just throw it onto television’s world-wide, where anybody could watch this as long as there’s no parental-controls. It’s sort of strange to think that Hollywood would think of this movie as being “too gay”, but yet, wouldn’t allow the audience to make up their own mind as to whether or not they should see it. I think it would have done quite well in American theaters, but if there’s a movie that I can watch at my house, at my expense, and for free, then I can’t complain too much. Especially when it’s this good.

Seeing Soderbergh go out like this (even though I highly doubt this will be his last movie), is a bit sad to see, but the guy seems happy and pleased with his body of work, and even happier with the fact that he was able to make a story about Liberace. Well, it’s actually more about Thorson than it is about Liberace, but that doesn’t matter since both figures make this story work and it’s all because of the attention to detail and who these people really are that make it work. Anybody that has ever seen Liberace anywhere, always knew that this guy was a fun, free-wheeling, and wild dude that loved to live fabulous, and always give people the show that they want. He was just that type of dude that you saw in the public, but you had to know that there was something more to him than just fun and games. There must have been a sad, somewhat-depressed person underneath it all, and that’s where Soderbergh and his cast and crew gets at.

"You remind me of a younger me. Except with hair."

“You remind me of a younger me. Except with actual hair.”

We see Liberace for all of the glitz, the glamour, and the expenses that he’s been come to be known as for ages to come, but we also get a look we never thought we’d see, and that’s the intimate, vulnerable dude that’s too afraid of being old and alone for the rest of his life. Obviously every biopic touts the same thing about their subjects, but somehow with Soderbergh’s feel and approach; it never once feels phony or played-up for the sake of dramatics. It’s there to service the story and to service our emotions, and actually make us feel more for this “old queen.”

Obviously, this movie has the definitive, “Soderberghian look” to it that makes the movie work, but you can really tell that the man cares for this story, how it gets out to the masses, and how each and every one of it’s real-life figure-heads are portrayed. Rather than making Liberace some old hack that likes to bang whatever tush he can get, we get a real glimpse at somebody who’s happy to be with the person he loves, even if that person’s 40 years younger than him. But Liberace isn’t the only one who gets all of the attention, Thorson is somebody we connect with as well, if maybe a bit more conventionally as we too can feel for the dude’s pain and paranoia when he begins to feel that maybe Liberace hasn’t been so dedicated to him as he might have thought.

However, this is the aspect of the story that I felt drove it into obvious-territory where Thorson gets tied-in with a drug-habit, Liberace gets older and wants more surgeries, and the two’s relationship begins to fall-apart. This is obviously what happened in real-life, with barely any speculation whatsoever, so I can’t really get on the movie’s case for presenting me with something that’s going by-the-book, but coming from Soderbergh; I expected a bit more than what I got. Then again, the guy shoots this story in a straight-forward manner and style, that isn’t all about the flashes of glam like it’s subject was; it’s about getting down to the simple beats and skips in our heart that not only make us love one another, but also make us human. I was surprised that Soderbergh was able to channel this type of theme/message in a story about two gay dudes falling in-and-out-of-love, but that’s what the dude was always good at: giving us surprises.

Another surprise, which really shouldn’t be, but actually still was, were the performances from Matt Damon and Michael Douglas who hand in some of their best work in awhile. And no, I’m not just saying because they kiss and hump each other a lot. Although, I will say that that does take a whole slew more of dedication and passion for your work than kissing and humping females. I mean, I wouldn’t know or anything. Okay, never mind. Back with the performances!

Yup, he's totally 23.

Totally 23 years young.

Matt Damon is very good as Scott Thorson because you see a side to Damon’s acting-prowess that we haven’t seen in quite some time: his vulnerability. This is a young kid who steps right into Liberace’s life right away, gets sucked into all of the fame, power, and energy of the life, but yet; is also still a kid that wants to do thing that most kids do when they’re 17 years old. They want to cause havoc, get drunk, get high, have sex, be reckless, and just always keep moving at a quick pace that never dies down. That’s not what Liberace was all about at his age (around 60), and it seems that’s where Thorson and him first hit their rough-patches. Even though the make-up job kind of screws the pooch on making Damon look as young as he’s supposed to be, the man still keeps this character interesting and always sympathetic.

Same can be said for Michael Douglas as Liberace, who actually takes this role and makes it his own, perfectly incorporating all of Lee’s mannerisms, trademarks, and ways he had going on about him. I thought it was going to be a bit of a struggle trying to buy someone as recognizable as Douglas, playing someone as iconic and famous as Liberace, but after awhile; the magic and the charm of the guy’s acting came over full-throttle, and I eventually bought into it all. Together, the two seem like a really understandable couple that may all be about being young and spending time together while you still can, but there’s something there between these two that’s worth staying around for and believing in, regardless as to whether or not they’re gay.

And for the record: yes, they are both as straight as two circles.

Consensus: Liberace and Thorson’s story was not one that was meant for the big, nor the small-screen, but Soderbergh, Damon, Douglas, and everybody else give Behind the Candelabra their biggest-effort in awhile, and the results come out more positive and negative. If this is Soderbergh’s last to-date, the man has gone out on a high-note that all should at least give a gander at, regardless as to whether or not you can stomach two dudes getting it on.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Come and see our new movie. It's faaaabuullouusssss!"

“Come and see our new movie. It’s faaaabuullouusssss!”

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

God, I wish I was as cool as these guys. I seriously do.

Dapper Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is a man of action. Less than 24 hours into his parole from a New Jersey penitentiary, the wry, charismatic thief is already rolling out his next plan. Following three rules – don’t hurt anybody, don’t steal from anyone who doesn’t deserve it and play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose – Danny orchestrates the most sophisticated, elaborate casino heist in history. This is where the fun begins in Ocean’s eyes, and you know what? His eyes do not deceive him a single-bit.

Heist flicks are and have always been a favorite of mine, and to feature a cast with the likes of Clooney, Damon, Cheadle, Pitt, Mac, Reiner, and even Affleck (Casey, that is), you know I was even more excited because it seemed like the perfect-opportunity for a bunch of guys to just pal-around, have a good time, and pull-off some neat-o heists. However, just to make sure that this isn’t one, long bro-sesh from start-to-finish, we got Steven Soderbergh at the helm to keep everything under control and honestly, what better man to do that then the guy who has made one of the greatest heist/crime flicks of all-time, Out of Sight? Well, you could probably argue Tarantino or Scorsese, or plenty of others, but if you were to really get down to the nitty-gritty of it, I think you would be pretty damn fine with having Soderbergh behind it all, because I definitely was.

Having a guy like Steven Soderbergh doing your film means one thing and one thing only: it’s going to have a crap-load of style. And that’s not really a bad thing at all, because with a generic and relatively conventional story like this, you need that to add more pizzazz and spice to the whole-product, even though it’s obviously apparent that’s what Soderbergh is relying on the most. However, it didn’t get in the way of material and you can’t help but just love the fact that Soderbergh gives the flick a more-polished look than you are used to seeing with heists, but also realize that it makes the setting it takes place-in, all the more beautiful and smoother in it’s own, coolio way. Soderbergh is the man of being cool, looking cool, and filming cool, and he was definitely the perfect-choice for material like this.

Yes, that is Carl Reiner right next to Bernie Mac.

Yes, that is Carl Reiner right next to Bernie Mac. Somewhere, the comedic-gods are smiling.

There’s also a great-deal of fun and entertainment that Soderbergh brings to this flick and it’s not just all about the style, either, it’s more about the actual heist itself, and keeping you constantly wondering, guessing, and figuring-out how it’s all going to play-out in your mind and on-screen. Soderbergh definitely does a little-job of trickery here and there with this heist and the twists and turns it takes, but that just adds more to the overall enjoyment of what we all see and it’s perfect since everything until then, was all just one, big lead-up to what was going to go down. We see bits and pieces of how this heist is going to go down, but not enough, so that when the heist does go through and we see everything that goes-down, we’re not only surprised, but pretty gripped to our seat, as you don’t really know how it’s going to turn-out for this cats in the end. Sooderbergh has as much fun with this as his cast does, but by doing-so, he allows us to just revel in his enjoyment in making the material and it’s no surprise that the guy came-back for 2 more of these flicks. However, more on them later as the reviews keep on coming, so just you wait DTMMR readers/follows out there!

Topping-off this cake of coolness, with a sweet, little cherry on-top is the cast that is filled to the brim with the coolest mofo’s on the planet, and some, you have yet to even know are cool just yet. George Clooney is the brains behind the whole operation as Danny Ocean and is cool, lean, and suave, exactly as we know and love him to be. Clooney sort of takes the background in this flick and allows the rest of his cast to show-off and do their thing, but whenever he gets a chance to show why he’s so cool, he does it with perfection. Damn that George Clooney. Playing the “other” brains behind the operation is Brad Pitt as Rusty Ryan, a dude that knows it all, can walk the walk, and talk the talk. Pitt’s good at playing cool and smart, we all know him for that, and we all love him for that. ‘Nuff said about that. Matt Damon is the new-blood of the gang and does a great-job at playing up that cocky-rookie look to him, while also being able to put-up, when shut-up time is right there, in front of his face. Not the most memorable performance from Damon but the guy sure as hell can act and make any role, seem like the perfect-fit for him.

Playing the opposite-side of these fast-cats is Andy Garcia, aka, the guy who owns the casino that they are robbing, Terry Benedict. Garcia is a tough-guy that you really feel like can’t be out-smarted, no matter who the person/people doing the out-smarting are. Garcia’s got a lot of intimidating-looks in those eyes and you never quite know if he’s going to pull-off the win in the end, or just give it to Ocean’s dudes. Once again, it’s a tense-ride to the finish that you never quite know where it’s going to end-up or how, for that matter. Julia Roberts is fine as Benedict’s gal/Ocean’s ex-gal, but does her usual, “I’m-Julia-Roberts-And-My-Shit-Don’t-Stink” act that some love her for, some hate her for, and some are just tired and bored of her for playing so much. Me, I linger somewhere around the latter and as juicy and spicy as the scenes with Clooney may be, her character is still Julia Roberts, playing Julia Roberts.

Everybody else in this cast is pretty damn fine as you’ll see a crap-load of familiar faces pop-up, do their thing, and be done with it and continue onto the road. Seriously, everybody is good except for Don Cheadle as Basher, who is supposed to be channeling this wry, British-accent that goes in-and-out like a you know what, and is even more distracting to this character, because every time he’s talking, it just sounds like Don Cheadle trying hard to sound British. And yes, Cheadle does have a very distinctive voice that is easy to point-out as to when it’s real, when it’s being fake, and when it’s trying to be British. Oh well, I guess this cat needed to have one bad performance to throw in there for his whole filmography. Bastard.

Arms crossed = cool

Arms crossed = cool

As fun and exciting as this flick may be, you really do just end the film, happy as a fly, and continue on with your day as if nothing happened. In a way, that’s not such a terrible thing to have in life, considering it’s a happy-thought, but in other ways, it’s a bit of a disappointment  considering the cast and crew that was on-display here. Yes, it’s fun, exciting, and entertaining for the 2 hours it’s alive and well on the big-screen, but other than that, you don’t have much else to really hold you over or make you think of anything afterwards either. I don’t know, maybe I was just expecting a bit too much more than I was given, but I definitely feel like there should have been more for me to seize-onto at the end, no matter how conventional or obvious it was trying to be.

Consensus: Ocean’s Eleven is no game-changer in terms of heist movies, but is still entertaining, fun, exciting, well-acted, and just really, really cool, almost to the point of where you feel cool for watching it but you soon realize, that you’re just a poor college student who drives a 2005 Scion, and has about $20 in your wallet as you speak. Yeah, I’m speaking from my point-of-view, but if only I wasn’t. If only dreams really could come true, after all.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Can grow a way better porn 'stache than Ben. Suck it bigger brothers out there!

Can grow a way better porn ‘stache than Ben. Suck it, Big Ben!

Promised Land (2012)

The Ultimate Battle: Salesman vs. Farmers. Let’s get’s it on!

Matt Damon plays a salesman for a major natural gas company (so stow the “propane and propane accessories” quote) who descends upon a small town to tap into it’s natural resources, but finds himself having a bunch of problems with the locals, especially by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski).

The topic of “fracking” is an act that has been brewing-around for quite some time and even though there have been some documentaries that talk about it, here and there, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood got their filthy, dirty paws on it and made a motion-picture, cinema-trip out of it. However, I don’t know how “Hollywood” Gus Van Sant is now, but hey, he made Good Will Hunting and that counts, right?

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “fracking”, don’t worry, the film will let you know, every, single 5-minutes, too. It obviously seems like an action that makes people happy and filled their wallets/bank accounts, filled to the brim with moolah, but also, destroys the environment around us and makes those pot-smoking, peace-loving hippies all uppity, uppity. However, knowing this before-hand won’t do you any good and to be honest, neither will this flick because all of it just really seems to hit you over-the-head until you can’t take no more. Matt Damon is obviously a very political guy that likes to have his thoughts and opinions heard for the whole world, but maybe his script that he co-wrote with John Krasinski and Dave Eggers was a bit too much for him, or anybody else to really muster.

Sorry Democrats, Matt Damon is not running for President during the 2016 election.

Sorry Democrats, Matt Damon is not running for President during the 2016 election.

Instead of making this movie just one, big “message movie” that likes to talk a lot about what it’s declaring, Damon and his co-writers try their hardest to make us feel like there’s another story here worth watching and feeling something-for, even though we are all being preached-at from the highest choir. That highest choir, just so happens to be A-list actors and producers that may know a thing or two about how to make a good flick, but don’t know a thing or two about how to make one that can coincide with the point/message you’re trying to get across. It becomes over-bearing and by the third time that Damon’s character states, “I’m not a bad guy”, you start to think otherwise because who would really go on and on this long about a topic and a solution that could have been figured-out in a 5-slide Power Point production.

However, a 5-slide Power Point production is probably how long, in-fact, maybe even less, this flick could have been predicted in. Right from the beginning, we know how it’s going to start, how it’s going to coast-on through it’s story, and sadly, how it’s all going to end and what revelations are going to be made by that time. Yeah, there are some nice twists and turns that Damon and co. throws at us for good-measure, and mainly in hope to keep our eyes awake and our minds attentive to what’s going on, on-screen, but doesn’t do much good other than seem obvious. The message is obvious and so is the plot and that’s why I’m so surprised that Damon even co-wrote an intelligent script like Good Will Hunting because all of that fun, all of that flair, and all of that emotional-truth that was stuck underneath that whole flick, is barely even seen here at all. In my honest to god’s opinion, it’s all because Big Ben wasn’t around, and instead, is off doing his own thang and making a name for himself. Take notes, Matt. Start directing movies and see how current and cool you can stay.

"Since the Office is coming to an end, Joel thought you would like to read this. You better accept or Matt's getting the job instead."

“Since the Office is coming to an end, Joel thought you would like to read this. You better accept or Matt’s getting the job instead.”

I will say one-thing about Matt Damon here with this movie, that even though his script may not work to the best of his, or the film’s ability in keeping us interested the whole-way through, Damon’s performance definitely does and the guy once again shows why he is the most dependable actor, working today. Damon’s character, Steve Butler, may have an obvious-route he’s going to drive-on about half-way through, but Damon still keeps you on-edge, wondering when it may actually happen and whether or not we are going to be able to believe it or not. In a way, we do believe it, and that’s mainly thanks to Damon’s top-notch skills as an actor, while in other ways, we don’t just because it’s so conventional, but you can’t go wrong with Damon and the guy knows how to write some great lines, even if the only great lines are for himself, and him only. That damn Matt Damon! He’s always so stingy!

Playing his enemy, of sorts, is John Krasinski as an ecologist that challenges all of Butler’s way of living and making a business. Krasinski rarely ever plays dark roles like these and it’s great to see him really work with that aspect of his acting, while also making sure to keep his comedic-abilities in-tact, as well. I wish that Krasinski was given more than to just fuck around with Damon, in a way that makes it seem like he stole his girlfriend after Junior Prom, but with what he’s given (that he practically gave himself, if you think about it) and what he’s able to do, Krasinski does a very nice-job at it, and I really hope the guy continues to take darker, more-dramatic roles like these because even though that face may always be smiling and shiny, there’s still some darkness that’s waiting to just latch-out from underneath.

Frances McDormand plays Damon’s cohort that seems to be non-other than McDormand doing what she does best: the cool, older gal that still knows what it’s like to be hip, with it, and always one-step ahead of the dudes around her, no matter what it is she may be dealing with. Maybe that was a bit too much of a lengthy-synopsis of what type of characters she usually plays, but it’s the truth most of the time, and it’s the truth here and it’s still fine and dandy with me, because the girl is good with the act. She doesn’t seem to have much more going for her other than the fact that she may just be the brains behind the whole operation when it comes to what it is that they do for a living and how they make their business, but McDormand makes the most of it and in a way, would have liked to see a whole movie dedicated to her, where she was going around and dealing with this personal and professional-crisis, rather than seeing dudes like Matt Damon go through with it. Boo the men! Yay the ladies! That’s how I look at it here.

He's looking-out at the land that he's going to drill into soon, and all he sees is a reflection of himself. Ohhh, the obvious metaphors!

He’s looking-out at the land that he’s going to drill into soon, and all he sees is a reflection of himself. Ohhh, the obvious metaphors!

McDormand isn’t the only gal that gets to show the boys a thing or two when it comes to acting, nope, that honor also goes to Rosemarie DeWitt as the wild child of this small, rural town in Pennsylvania, who also just so happens to be the hottest, single-teacher in the whole world. Not just PA, the whole damn world! DeWitt has been on my “crush list” as of late, and she’s great here, especially in her scenes with Damon who just goes to prove the fact that the dude can make any great chemistry, with anything, as long as it has tits and a vagina. Seriously, they are great together and if it wasn’t for the whole fracking-issue popping-up every 5-minutes, I would have probably enjoyed their scenes together a whole lot more.

The rest of the cast is pretty fine, even if it is a shame to see how little they are used here. Hal Hollbrook is great as the knowing, elder farmer of this small-town that knows what fracking’s all about, why it’s not good, and why he doesn’t like it. Rather than making Hollbrook the annoying and obvious voice-of-reason throughout this whole movie and have us dreading his presence, Hollbrook actually comes-off as a sweet and tender, old-man that has come to terms with the way the world used to be and what it is eventually, going to turn-out to be. It’s sort of sad since how this hits so close to reality and what better person to deliver this reality-check than non-other than Mr. Hollbrook himself. Seriously, when the hell is this guy getting that Oscar!?! Lucas Black and Scoot McNairy show-up here as well, as the resident rednecks of the small town and as good as they may be, are still a bit over-the-top in the way that they are type-casted as a bunch of dumb idiots that work on a farm and don’t give a crap about anything else other than the big olde bucks. I’m sure that some of this is true, but it doesn’t need to be seen to try and get a point across even more. Come on Matt! Come on John! You should know better! You get your caviar and champagne from natural food stores!

Consensus: The topic of discussion in Promised Land is definitely an important one and what Damon, Krasinski, and Eggers get-across about it is an important-one, but it constantly hammers you over-the-head with it, that you begin to lose a care for what they say and an even bigger loss of care over the predictable story, and what direction it goes in.

6/10=Rental!!

I seriously just wanted to just include this picture because of how stoned everybody to the right looks and how everybody to the left are just left clueless and happy.

I seriously just wanted to include this picture because of how stoned everybody to the right looks and how everybody to the left are just left clueless and happy.

Margaret (2011)

This is exactly what a teenager’s life is like: confusing as hell.

Anna Paquin stars as a 17-year old girl named Lisa Cohen who has to deal with her regular life as a conflicted teenager as well as the moral, legal and sexual pitfalls of the adult world. She struggles with what is right and wrong after taking witnessing the seemingly accidental death of a woman and fighting the ever-building guilt resulting from her role in it.

Holy hell is it a total surprise that I actually got the chance to view this movie! This film has been basically sitting on the shelf for about 6 years now, all because of the fact that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan had an over 3–page script, that made the movie run for as long as 3 hours. Apparently, the studios didn’t like this idea he had and they made him try to shorten up the run-time to make it under 2 hours. Surprisingly, nobody got their way because the film got cut-down to a 150-minute time-limit (all thanks to the master of swift editing, Martin Scorsese) and despite a pretty big-name cast, the film was released in limited theaters, barely even seeing the light of day. Thankfully, that’s what DVD-viewing is all about baby.

"Was somebody that pissed that I didn't show-up in the new Bourne movie, that they had to go-off and spit in my food? Typical NYC diners."

“Was somebody that pissed that I didn’t show-up in the new Bourne movie, that they had to go-off and spit in my food? Typical NYC diners.”

So after going over the whole history of this movie for you in that last paragraph, you would think that a production this troubled goes two ways: either it’s a unknown masterpiece that only people who go out there and reach for it, will love until the day they die, or, it’s just a bunch donkey crap, that should have just stay shelved. Somehow, the film is somewhere in the middle and I don’t really know where I stand on this flick just yet, however, being the dedicated critic that I am, I’m going to give it my all just for you kind souls out there who actually give a crap what I have to say about this little indie.

There’s a lot to this film, maybe almost too much, but from what I was getting most of the times with this flick worked for me because of Lonergan’s superb writing. This is a very dramatic but heartfelt story about a young girl who’s coming to terms with the world she lives in and she’s starting to realize just what this world is really like, for all of the good and for all of the bad. Obviously this isn’t something new, daring, or original but Lonergan makes every scene, no matter how random or awkward, seem real and to be honest, a lot of these scenes and what he’s having these character say, did ring true to me.

I am not a young lady, never have been, and maybe never will, but I can definitely say that a lot of Lisa’s problems that she goes through here aren’t just what young ladies go through, but young adults in general. Everybody around you just annoys you, you want to get your point out there to the best of your ability, everybody is out to get you, and at the end of the day, you just want to be understood and listened to. This is how a teenager thinks and Lonergan gets us inside the mind of a teenager, by showing us your typical, everyday one that just so happens to be dealing with one of the most traumatic moments in her life so far. She’s confused, she’s guilty, she’s angry, she’s horny, she’s misunderstood, she’s scared, and she’s so many other things, but this is exactly how a young person is, especially when you live in a world like the one Lisa lives in where everybody seems to be just at your neck, no matter what it is you do or say. This provides some real, heart-breaking emotional context for a character that seems so based in her own reality, that you just don’t want to see her have her heart broken when she realizes one thing about the world: it’s not all sunshine and daisies. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there that you may have to be ready to fight off every once and awhile. Maybe that’s a little bit too much of my left-over teenage angst coming out, but it still seems true and reasonable considering the film I’m discussing here.

"I told you, I have no idea where Logan went!"

“I told you, I have no idea where Logan went!”

No matter how great most of that teenage angst stuff may be, the film still feels very stuffed together and I was sort of left wondering why they didn’t just take a risk and end up going with the 3-hour version instead. There is about 4 or 5 subplots here that could have been taken out, but instead, Lonergan leaves them in and has them pop-up at some of the most random parts throughout the flick, without us ever getting a chance to fully feel for them and get behind them. I get it, Lisa’s life is hectic and has a lot going on it, but did we really need those 5 scenes with her and her daddy (Kenneth Lonergan himself in a very greedy role) just talking about random ish? Or what about that little teacher-student “relationship” she may be trying to get with a hot and young male teacher, played Matt Damon? Oh, and let’s not forget about some of the random class-room scenes where Matthew Broderick actually gets mad over a kid totally schooling him in Shakespearean comprehension? There’s a lot of material that could have been easily cut-out here. Or, if they really wanted to, which they obviously didn’t, but if they did, they could have went with the 3-hour version that Lonergan proposed in the first place and we could have had a more coherent and understandable story that lays everything out for you all nice and even.

But even with this edited-down version that were given here, some of it almost feels like Lonergan’s coming on a little too strong with his numerous ideas and messages he’s trying to get across. There’s a lot of discussion about a post-9/11 New York that is very realistic, but also feels very random and pushy, as if Lonergan was trying to find a way to voice his own opinions about what’s happening to the area after that disastrous day, so thought the easiest way would to have kids yell and holler at each other about. Doesn’t feel right for this film, given the story itself, and I think Lonergan kind of loses his head a little bit with what he’s trying to say but after awhile, I just didn’t care and tried my hardest to get involved with this story, as crazy as it could be.

I wish all NYC bus drivers looked this cool, and especially wore a cowboy hat.

I wish all NYC bus drivers looked this cool. Especially with that cowboy hat.

Seeing this movie now, in the year 2012, you have to wonder what a bummer it must have been for Anna Paquin to just see her high-rising, dramatic acting career, go almost to nowhere because honestly, this is a phenomenal performance, if not, the best I’ve seen from her, ever (still haven’t seen The Piano so bear with me for a little while). Lisa Cohen is not a very sympathetic character and she definitely is not a very emotionally-grounded character, and it’s one that Paquin plays up perfectly on almost all-sides. We see Lisa for all that she feels, all that she does, and all that she wants to do, and even though not all of her choices may be the most morally correct, they are still her choices and we have to accept them for what they are because she is a human nonetheless. Paquin was about 23 when this film was made, so it seems a little strange for her to be off playing 17-year olds, but she pulls it off perfectly and makes you believe that she really is this confused and bewildered young woman that just wants to do what she thinks is right, even if it may not have the best consequences for all involved. Yeah, I know that Paquin’s got it big now with her role on True Blood, but this film would have definitely made us think twice about her acting, whenever we saw her kill some dude by kissing him. Rogue reference, in case you didn’t catch on!

While you probably wouldn’t have been able to tell from my whole review, trailers, or poster, this film is much more about Lisa’s mom then it is about her, and I think with good reason. J. Smith-Cameron is somebody I haven’t ever really seen too much of in movies and with a performance she gives here as Lisa’s mom, I have to say I’m going to look for her more now because this gal knocks this performance right out of the park. Even though I do think that some of her scenes, just the ones where it’s her all by herself, could have been cut-out, she still gives us a sympathetic mother character that wants nothing more but to connect with her daughter like she feels like she should, but no matter how hard she tries, she still can’t seem to break the ice between them and get them together, connecting once again. It’s a sad thing to see in a film like this because you know this is how it is for almost all mothers having to deal with young adults in the house and Smith-Cameron plays it up just about as perfectly as Paquin does with her own character. They also fight like a real mother-daughter combo and that’s pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

Consensus: With a time-limit that sort of jams everything together in a very incoherent way, Margaret can sometimes feel like a film that can never make up its mind about what it wants to do or be about, but it’s also much like it’s lead character, Lisa, played to perfection from Anna Paquin. It’s a little-known flick that makes me want to see it again, just as long as I can get a hold of the 3-hour director’s cut. That’s if they actually have one for this movie.

7/10=Rental!!

"Walking through the streets of New York and nobody has yet to ask for me an autograph? Now I'm really scared."

“Walking through the streets of New York and nobody has yet to ask for me an autograph? Now I’m really scared.”

Footloose (2011)

Kevin Bacon can still dance. Don’t be fooled.

Slick and cool kid from Boston, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to a small town where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. However, Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) won’t stand for it and he lets Ren know about it, every step of the way.

For all of you loyal readers and followers of DTMMR, you all may be a bit shocked to find out that I have never seen the original, Kevin Bacon headliner in it’s entirety. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, including the awesome dancing-sequences that had me inspired for a day or so, but nothing more than just that really. However, apparently director Craig Brewer has seen it all, and loved it so much that it was the one movie to inspire him to make movies. That’s right: not Casablanca, not Citizen Kane, not even The Godfather, Footloose is the one movie that made this man inspired to make such flicks like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, and now, this remake of his old-school passion. It’s weird, I know, but hey, if you’re going to have a guy do a remake of a classic, have a guy that loves the hell out of the movie in the first-place do it. Then maybe, most remakes won’t suck nowadays.

The idea of featuring a town that actually “bans public dancing” seems a bit too 1984 the dog days of the 21st Century, but somehow Brewer has it make sense and seem a bit believable. This is a small, earnest town that all know each other, know whats going on, and have an idea of what’s best for the whole community. They aren’t some sort of small-commune that’s sheltered-off from the rest of the world because of their hard-earned beliefs of God, faith, and religion, even if those themes do hit-hard in where this story is coming from. Still, the idea of keeping the original premise in this updated remake isn’t as goofy, as well as a couple of other ideas as well, mainly because Brewer knows what does and does not work in today’s day and age.

Brewer, like his last two flicks before this, definitely knows how to work in a great deal of Southern-grit to his stories, no matter how wholesome or sweet they may be. For instance, the opening title-sequence where we see everybody’s shoes moving around, is a trick that was pulled-off in the original but updated in a more standard, gritty way that would be expected by kids of today’s generation, due to there being a crap-load of dirty, kegs, and beer being thrown-around as if somebody was throwing an old-school banger in the middle of the corn-fields. Oh, those were the golden days. Anywho, that’s not the only aspect of this flick that Brewer updates with his gritty look-and-feel, there’s a couple of other cool instances where we see how the world around us has changed to where these kids could easily want to rebel by dancing and sticking-up for themselves, but in the end, Footloose is about one thing and one thing only: cuttin’ loose and gettin’ foot loose.

No matter how much it may seem like Brewer is putting his own, personal stamp on this story, he still never forgets to remind us that this is a dancing-movie at it’s heart and core, and that’s all that mattered to me. Nowadays, dancing movies are usually recognized by two words: Step Up. But thankfully, Brewer shoves a little bit of his fist in the way of those movies and give us a great deal of fun and entertainment to watch, as all of these kids just shake their asses off like no other. The stunts, moves, and choreography are off-the-charts and as goofy as it may be to see a bunch of 18-year-old kids, dancing like Michael Jackson on crack at their high-school prom, you still can get past it and have a great-old time no matter what.

Also, to make matters even better, the soundtrack is awesome and definitely worth a listen. They start-off things so perfectly by keeping the old-school, Kenny Loggins track in the movie, and then start to dive-away from that and giving us a rawer, southern-bound edge to music, filled with the eclectic likes of David Banner, Quiet Riot, Zac Brown Band, and most surprising of all, and probably used the best: The White Stripes. Yeah, his days of giving Terrence Howard some key rap-tracks haven’t gone away in the slightest-bit, but Brewer still shows that he’s got a knack for putting in some cool-tracks, into scenes that you would not expect to gel so well with. Basically, when you put the combination of awesome music and awesome dancing together, you are bound to get some fun and entertainment, and if you do not for one second tap your toes to at least one second of this movie, you have no soul and need to get this soundtrack, ASAP.

As fun as this movie may be, there are a lot of goofy moments in this flick that seem so damn earnest and self-important with itself, that it’s just really hard to swing-by (see what I did there?). There are so many instances in this movie where I just had to roll my eyes by how silly things were, such as when Ariel, or lead-gal, feels the need to play chicken in front of train to show how much of a lost soul she truly is. That’s stupid, as well as all of the scenes with her deuchebag boyfriend named Chuck, who comes into disrupt things between Ren and Ariel’s hormones, and does exactly that, but yet, it’s annoying as hell. Whenever the guy shows-up, he’s just hammy, obvious, and way too violent for his own-good, almost to the point of where I felt like the guy made the story a bit too dark by some standards. Anytime he shows up, and this movie tries to get all serious and dramatic with me, I rolled my eyes, scoffed at it all, and pretty much didn’t care. But as soon as the dancing started-up and the music began to blast, then I just forgot about it all and had a fun-time. Isn’t that what dancing’s all about?

Casting this movie must have been a total bitch for Brewer, considering the guy has to fill in the shoes for so many iconic stars like Bacon, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and even Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others, but he does a nice-job in picking just the right names, for the right people, no matter how well-known or unknown they are. Kenny Wormald is a nice-fit for the rebellious and cool kid known as Ren McCormack and handles a lot of the dramatic-stuff, just about as good as his amazing dancing. His infamous infamous “freak out” dance scene seems a bit like parody at-first, but it just goes to show you just how talented this kid is at shaking his rump, and hey, I gotta give him credit for that because lord knows I’d never be able to achieve that. I just hope that Matt Damon or Ben Affleck didn’t catch a glimpse of this movie, or else they’d have a thing or two to teach Wormald about doing an official, Bawhstan accent.

As good as Wormald may be as Ren, the one who really impressed the hell out of me was Julianna Hough as Ariel, the preacher’s daughter. Her character is the most obvious and predictable out of everybody here, but the gal’s still very, very talented when it comes to dancing and being sexy, but she’s also very good in the dramatic scenes as well that makes a lot of her pain and anguish seem real and reasonable. Sadly, I don’t think the girl’s going to get many dramatically-acting offers any time soon, but it’s always good to know that there’s more to her than just a pretty face, a nice body, and a couple of sweet-ass dance moves.

Playing her old daddy O, is non-other than Dennis Quaid who is terrific as the preacher of the little town of Bomont, that not only wants what’s best for his little town, but for his daughter as well. Quaid is good in this role because as much as he may seem like a bit of a stiff that doesn’t budge on anything that concerns going against the sacred book of God, you can start to see a change in him by the end that’s as believable or moving as anything the guy’s done in the past couple of years. Seriously Dennis, you need to get back-out there, man, and show the world what they’re missing-out on. Everybody else is in this movie is interesting, entertaining, and likable, but the only one that really seemed to struggle is Andie MacDowell as Shaw’s wifey. To most of you, this may come as to no surprise whatsoever, but it’s a bit of a surprise to me considering that this chick has been acting for over 30 years by this point, and still has yet to churn-out a good performance. What the fuck, Andie?!?!?

Consensus: Some moments seem obvious, tacky, self-important, and earnest, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter all that much since Footloose is a fun and entertaining movie that shows some nice/believable character-development, as well as a love and passion for the original source material, courtesy of Craig Brewer.

6.5/10=Rental!!

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

This guy can diffuse bombs. What can you do, Jason?

Everything that happened to Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), is pretty much all lost now and brought back onto to this new CIA agent, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). He just so happens to be on the run, and everybody at Treadstone is going wild all over again because of this. Typical.

Many people have been dreading this film ever since the day that Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass both said, “no”, to doing another Bourne flick, let alone, another sequel when they ended it off so well with The Bourne Ultimatum. And as much as I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to this like as much as everybody else on the planet, I still got to give it to this franchise and say that it still has some steam left, even if it’s without the constant “crack-cam”. You heard it here first, people.

Writer/director Tony Gilroy (who worked on the early Bourne films) shows that he wasn’t really going for the same-old formula that somehow worked it’s magic, for three movies, but seem to be a little too tired for a fourth one. Instead, this guy gives us a pretty tense ride that may have you almost forget about Bourne, about half-way through (even though Gilroy brings him up about every 10 minutes, just by flashing his pictorial up on-screen). I will say that it does take it’s good-old time to get started up, but once the adrenaline starts picking-up, and the blood starts to flow, this film doesn’t seem to really want to stop, which I don’t think I ever wanted it to.

Since there is no “crack-cam” in this film, that means we can actually tell what’s going down in the action sequences, whether it be hand-to-hand brawls, knife-fights, guns-a-blasing battles, or the simple car-chase, you can actually see everything that’s going on and I have to say that’s a bit of a big-step up for this franchise, since it seemed like Greengrass used that a bit too much with the last entry. Did I miss some of the elements where we were practically on Damon’s tail as he was flying through ceilings and windows? Yes, but it wasn’t like I was in the corner sobbing over this, because I actually found myself to be having a lot of fun with what Gilroy did with this story and this action. Gilroy is a very talented film-maker and I would have never thought he’d be able to make such an exciting action-picture, let alone, a Bourne one.

But as fun and exciting as Gilroy made this film, there was still a lot of the conventions that we got from those Bourne films that came before this, and I thought since Gilroy seemed to be one-step ahead of the crowd that we wouldn’t get the same shit. Sadly, we did. Franka Potente-like damsel in distress? Check. Lots of undercover CIA dudes yelling at computer-screens? Check. Par-cor on buildings? Check. And my least favorite: top assassin out to kill target? Major check. I don’t know what it is about that last one convention that bothers me so much but it seems like it’s the one that they use in all of these flicks and think that it’s going to make us think differently about the fate of them or their target, but it never changes.

My next real beef with this film is how abruptly it ends, which bothered me more than anything else in this movie because I was having a real ball here. What I liked most about the last 30 minutes of this movie is how it just continued to build-up, and up, and up, until it finally just left me with one big-ass car chase through the streets of Manilla that is sure worth the price of admission alone. It also didn’t occur to me that this was actually, the last 30 minutes of the entire movie because once the story actually seems like it’s getting somewhere with itself, seems like it’s going to get better, and seems like Gilroy is really going to be pulling out all of the stops, that freakin’ song by Moby just kicks in and then we get the credits rolling. I honestly thought that this film would have gone on longer, and even though it’s the longest of the whole franchise with a time-limit of 135 minutes, it didn’t feel like that at all. In fact, it just whizzed right on by, which is not necessarily as much of a negative, as it is a positive, but I think about 20 more minutes would have made things a tad bit better for my taste. Then again, it’s just my taste and I’m a dick-head so don’t listen to me.

One element to this film that has people the most curious is how it will do without the presence of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. The answer to that is, pretty fine, especially when you have Jeremy Renner playing a bad-ass character, that’s a bit different from Bourne in more ways than I expected. Right from the first couple of scenes, we see that this Aaron Cross guy is actually a bit more content with his line of work that he does, unlike Bourne, and actually remembers his past, unlike Bourne, as well. But he also has a lot of personality where we see him act a bit more talkative and jokey towards other people he meets and encounters, and it gives you a sense that this is a real guy, that is just caught-up in all of the wrong shit but he has no one else to blame but himself. This role is perfect for Renner because he not only gets to show-off, once again, how much of a tough-ass guy he can be, but also show that he can make any generic action-hero, seem a bit more complex just by adding a likable personality onto him. Renner was a great choice for Cross, and I actually look forward to seeing what he can do with this character in the near-future, if they ever give him that chance, that is.

Rachel Weisz is also perfect for the role of the scientist that Cross comes around to sweep her away from danger, Dr. Marta Shearing. Weisz is such a lovable actress that it makes it a lot easier to buy this very generic character that seems to be a staple in these types of thrillers, but the difference here is that this girl actually seems like she has real-feelings and the feelings she may, or may not have for Cross come out perfectly in their chemistry that I would like to see worked on in the future installments. Then again, it all depends my people. Edward Norton is fine as the main dude that is orchestrating this whole hunt for Cross because he does what he can with a guy that seems so two-dimensional, but it’s almost like I expected him to just lash-out at everyone, every chance he got. Maybe it’s just that I think Norton deserves better roles, in better movies sometimes, but I think he could have been used a lot better here and should have gotten just more than one scene to show his true colors. Also, was it me or did anybody else feel terribly distracted when Norton and Stacy Keach were in the same scene? I kept on getting flash-backs to Vineyard just kicking the shit out of Cameron Alexander and I think that’s what Norton’s character here would have benefited from in all honesty. If only Hollywood allowed to polish more scripts.

Consensus: The Bourne Legacy features fine performances from this ensemble, plenty of action that will excite, and offers us a new franchise that will hopefully meet up with it’s old one that came before it, but it’s also very similar to that old one and that déjà vu feeling may be a bit too much for some viewers, as it sort of was for me.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

How hard can it be just to tell this guy who he is?

In the new chapter of this espionage series, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) will hunt down his past in order to find a future. He must travel from Moscow, Paris, Madrid and London to Tangier and New York City as he continues his quest to find the real Jason Bourne – all the while trying to outmaneuver the scores of cops, federal officers and Interpol agents with him in their cross-hairs.

As you all have probably already read on here before, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy were two good action flicks, that did what they did well, and kept me entertained while it was going on. However, they weren’t really anything worth writing home about and I don’t know what it was about them, but they just fly away in comparison to this one. Oh wait, I do know why. This one’s freakin’ awesome!

Director Paul Greengrass brought a new type of style to Supremacy, but didn’t seem like he fully used it to his advantage. Here, that’s a totally different story as it seems this guy took about 5 sniffs of cocaine and washed it all down with 3 Red Bulls, just to get in the same intensity-mode here as Jason Bourne. The last two films have been action-packed and very tense, but this one ups the anty and gives us a nail-biter almost from start to finish. The pacing that Greengrass gives this film is one that never really slows up, one that never lingers, and it’s always one that keeps the adrenaline moving, even if the story itself is just focusing on two peeps just talking about CIA shit and life. It’s a real wonder why most other action films don’t try and use the same type of fast-pace as this one does here, because you really feel like you’re in the mind of Jason Bourne, as he’s running away from these people and as he is getting closer and closer to finding out who he really is. Just a total thrill-ride that never lets loose, which is something I always love with my action-thrillers.

As for Greengrass’s hand-held camera style, it works very well with the material by how frantic it makes all of the action scenes seem. Usually, whenever this type of style comes into an action film, it takes away from the action and instead of making people feel the craziness of the action, they just feel a headache coming on. However, Greengrass has this style down very well and uses it to his advantage not only to give this film a crazy look, but also give the story more and more layers of tension that feel worth it, especially since it seems like this story is coming down to the nitty-gritty of finding out what the hell is going on with this guy.

The problem with this non-stop hand-held camera shit is that the film seems to use it the whole time, even if it is just two people talking. I get that Greengrass is just trying to keep the tension up-and-up by having his camera move all-over-the-place, but when you have a scene of just two people staring at each other in silence, 9 times out of 10, you don’t really need the camera panning in and out of their faces as if we were watching a low-budget documentary. Surprised that I didn’t hate this style of film-making here, but I still found something else to complain about it also.

Another problem I seemed to have had with this flick was that the formula, is somewhat the same and even though that isn’t so bad and noticeable this time around, you can still see certain aspects that just seem lazy. One of these instances is with the hit man that are always assigned to kill Bourne. In each and every single one of these flicks, there’s always that one hit man, who is always the best at what he does it seems and makes it look like he can kill anybody he’s ever assigned to. We get that here with 2 characters this time and it just bothered me because it always seemed like that, in the past, whenever they use it, it just came off to end the same exact way it did before.

For the third time once again, Matt Damon absolutely positively kicks total ass as Jason Bourne. Bourne is one kick-ass character, we all know that, but this time we get to see him actually be a lot smarter with the situations he plans out and of course, we get to see plenty of times where it’s just him taking names and coming one step closer and closer to the truth. In the acting department here, Damon isn’t anything particularly special, but he doesn’t have to be when he kicks this much ass. Bourne is sort of like our 21st-century superhero that just so happens to be a real person, just so happens to have no superpowers, just so happens to be an amnesiac, and just so happens to be able to beat the ever lovin’ tar out of anyone who steps up to him. It’s a great character and it’s a shame that this new one coming out doesn’t feature him for a go-around, one last time. Then again, Damon can get bored of roles pretty quickly.

The others in the cast are solid, too, with a couple of new-comers here and there. Joan Allen returns as Pam Landy but isn’t as much of a sinister bitch this time around and actually shows that she has a heart that cares about Jason Bourne a bit. It’s surprising to see this character actually have a heart and have this much depth considering I was expecting her to just be that ruthless, CIA hoe that everybody wanted Jason Bourne to just bitch-slap the shit out of. David Strathairn is new to this film as Noah Vosen, another CIA member that basically takes the spot of Landy and comes off as a ruthless son of a bitch that doesn’t want to take any prisoners when it comes to finding Bourne. Also, Julia Stiles is also back here as well, and she’s pretty good and makes her character have a lot more emotional depth than you would expected from her in the past two flicks. Shame we don’t see Stiles too much nowadays because this gal can do very well when she has the right script. Be on the look-out for a nice, extended cameo from Albert Finney, as well. That guy is always bad-ass. Even when he happens to be dying in films like Big Fish.

Consensus: Being the best out of the trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum features plenty of memorable action scenes, a direction that just gives this film a whole new level of intense, and a story that continues to get better and better as more secrets begin to come out and we eventually figure out the truth behind Jason Bourne and who the hell he really is.

8.5/10=Matinee!!