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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Nick Nolte

Off the Black (2006)

The dude’s who always get the wrong calls, guess what? Get it wrong in life, too.

After his baseball team loses a game due to a call by umpire Ray Cook (Nick Nolte), Dave Tibbel (Trevor Morgan) and some friends decide to vandalize Ray’s house. Unfortunately for Dave, he is caught and starts paying off his debt by cleaning up the mess. But something odd begins to happen to Dave once he cleans this guys house up – he actually starts to like this old Ray fella, who seems like he also likes Dave, too. So, rather than just continuing to mess with the guy, he hangs out with him, more and more, getting to know who he is, where he comes from, and just what his whole life has been like. For Dave, it’s a way of coping with his mother’s absence, as well as the fact that his dad (Timothy Hutton), isn’t quite all that there for him, but for Ray, it’s all about getting to remember what it was like to be a kid, and have a family. It’s something that he hasn’t felt in forever and it’s something that Dave feels happy to give him, until it gets all too sad for either to actually be able to handle once the real truths come out.

He still somehow gets the ladies.

Off the Black is probably the most perfect movie to make your small-budget, really low-key, very indie debut with. Not in that it’s a perfect movie and is absolutely the one to show everyone else in the world the true talents you possess, but because it’s so simple, so easygoing, and so non-challenging, that it feels like you’re watching someone get their act together, yet, at the same time, not want to go too far so that they lose themselves. It’s almost as if Off the Black was made with the intention that writer/director James Ponsoldt would follow all sorts of rules and guidelines and only after the movie was finished, edited, and released, then he would get to have some fun with movies for a change.

And judging by what he’s put out since, it’s not hard to imagine this.

See, Off the Black is a perfectly fine little indie that doesn’t set out to offend, change the world, or even shake up the world a little bit. It tells this small, humane tale about two people connecting, getting to know one another, and yeah, eventually bonding over stuff. It’s so safe and comfortable that it’s probably the most perfect movie you could take an aunt, uncle, grand-parent out to see and leave it knowing that you did a great service, because they’ll be pleased with what they saw. Sure, the cursing, drinking, and occasional bit of smoking may get in the way, but overall, it’s a movie that doesn’t go out of its way too much to really stir up any person’s raw feelings and/or emotions.

Which is also probably why, for a good portion at least, it’s so boring. It’s hard to really pin-point what it was about Off the Black that felt like it was just taking way too much of its time and meandered, even with the 90-minute run-time, but it just happened. There was this constant feeling I had while watching the movie knowing that I typically love certain tales of everyday, normal people like this, but for some reason, this one just didn’t grab me. Ponsoldt’s latest films have all done that, and then some, which is probably Off the Black has gone mostly unremembered, even after all of his success as of late.

Grow up, kid. Start hanging with old drunks.

That said, it isn’t a totally terrible movie. Just a monotonous and rather boring one, to say the least.

It helps that, as usual, Nick Nolte is pretty terrific in the lead role playing, guess this, a drunk who has a rough past and even rougher relationships with those from that past. It’s the kind of dirty, beaten-up role Nolte has downright perfected by now, which is why it’s no surprise he handles it oh so well here, bringing out some true heart and emotion in scenes with Trevor Morgan that, honestly, never feel believable. It isn’t that Nolte doesn’t try, it’s that Morgan’s character is so dull and plainly-written that it’s never all that understandable why he wants to be best pals with this old drunk dude in the first place.

The movie does try to make it appear that Morgan’s character’s mommy issues have to do with it, but even still, it doesn’t quite make sense. Timothy Hutton’s dad character brings out the most emotion in his four or five scenes, showing us a truly sad person who, honestly, could have been better friends with Nolte’s. It feels odd, never quite works, and yeah, it doesn’t help that Morgan’s probably not the best actor, either.

That said, Nolte saves the day. What else is new?

Consensus: As conventional as indie-dramas get, Off the Black never gets as dramatic as it wants to be, which keeps itself away from being all that emotional.

5 / 10

Yeah, not buying it. Sorry, fellas.

Photos Courtesy of: Rotten Tomatoes

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Extreme Prejudice (1987)

It’s the small towns you’ve got to worry about the most.

Jack Benteen (Nick Nolte) is a Texas Ranger who has taken a very different path than his childhood buddy, Cash Bailey (Powers Boothe), a ruthless drug lord, who stumbles back into town, looking to cause all sorts of havoc in the area and most importantly, for Jack himself. Though both men are very different in terms of their careers, their lives, and what sides of the law they each stand on, they do have one aspect in common: They’re both in love with Sarita Cisneros (Maria Conchita Alonso), who has been involved with both men, but chooses to stay with Jack, even though they constantly seem to fight all of the time. The tension between these two begins to escalate over the next few days, and to make matters worse, there’s a group of rag-tag veterans who are staging some sort of mission. But what is it? What is there purpose for being in this small town? And hell, are they dangerous?

“You….”

Extreme Prejudice is clearly Walter Hill’s ode/homage to the Dirty Dozen that it almost goes without saying. It’s a western, without seeming like an old-school western that relies on the same old tropes, but instead, uses some neat tricks with its story to make it seem way more modern. Cause after all, Hill already made a out-and-true western with the Long Riders, so it’s basically like he doesn’t have much else to prove in that genre, except to show that he can use it as a stepping-stone for going out into his usual crazy barrage of guns, violence, blood, and oh yeah, a whole lot of cursing.

But for a Walter Hill movie, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It helps that Hill knows what he’s doing, when the material’s there to work with and have fun with. Both Deric Washburn and Fred Rexer wrote the screenplay and know not to make this story too difficult, or even all that meaningful – just give us a few bad guys, a good guy, some conflict, and lots and lots of guns. The rest, in Hill’s hands, is history.

Which is why the final-act of Extreme Prejudice, as well as the few other action set-pieces spread-out across, are all exciting, fun, and downright electric. They feel perfectly thought-out and constantly keep on surprising, what with where the violence goes and how. Hill isn’t considered a master at his craft by any means and he sure as hell will never be called an “artist”, but the man knows how to craft a solid, compelling, and fun action-scene, which in today’s day, that means a whole lot.

Basically, we could use a whole lot more of Walter Hill in our life and while we do still get his movies, they just aren’t the same anymore.

Shame, too.

“Me….”

But anyway, the reason why I’m going on and on about the action so much is because, well, there’s a bit of a problem with the story, in that there may be a little too much. Or, at least, let me put it this way: There’s essentially two different plots going on here, with both being mildly interesting, but also pretty different from one another. For instance, there’s Nolte’s Jack who is feuding with Powers Boothe’s Cash, which doesn’t start cooking-up until the end and seems like a lot of talking and not much else, whereas the other plot, involving Michael Ironside’s group of bad-ass veterans, is fast-paced, interesting and, well, unique. It’s as if Washburn wrote one part of the movie, Rexer wrote the other, and they tried to combine it all together in one, seamless package.

But that’s what’s odd, because it doesn’t quite fully come together in that sense. Jack’s tale is far more dramatic and, as a result, slower, whereas Ironside’s is quicker and a whole lot more exciting to watch, even if we know it seems to be happening in almost entirely different movie. Hill works well with both stories, however, which is why the movie isn’t totally destroyed by this uneven thread, but still, it’s a bit choppy, to say the least.

And yes, it also helps that Ironside’s performance is pretty great here where he, once again, gets to play a bit of a nutty psycho who, somehow, has everything ready to go according to plan. In fact, almost everyone here is playing very much with their type; Nolte is stern and serious, Boothe is cold and dark, Rip Torn is fun and light, William Forsythe is crazy, and Alonso is, well, very attractive, but unfortunately, doesn’t get to be much else. Hill knows how to let his actors let loose when they need to and because of that, it helps a lot of the boring characters, work a bit better.

If only for the company they keep.

Consensus: While uneven, Extreme Prejudice is still a solid bit of action-thriller from the reliable hands of Walter Hill, who’s clearly enjoying what he’s doing here.

7 / 10

“Let’s tango.”

Photos Courtesy of: Radiator Heaven

Cape Fear (1991)

Criminals never forget.

When attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) knowingly withholds evidence that would acquit violent sex offender Max Cady (Robert De Niro) of rape charges, Max spends the next 14 years of his life in prison. And of course, while in the clink, Max has been thinking about that decision each and every day of his sentence, while on the other side of the bars, Sam has been living life with his wife (Jessica Lange) and young daughter (Juliette Lewis), who seems to be getting more and more rebellious as the years go by. But now that the 14 years are up, Max is ready to extract some revenge right from the get-go. However, rather than just beating the hell out of, or better yet, killing Sam, what Max does is spend every waking moment of his life and dedicating it all to stalking Sam, his family, and especially his friends. To Max, no one is safe and after awhile, Sam starts to realize that he’s going to have to come to some pretty drastic decisions if he’s going to protect the lives of those that he loves and wants to keep alive.

Bad lawyer.

Bad lawyer.

There’s nothing like watching an insanely talented director have the absolute time of their lives. It’s like watching a little kid in a Toys R Us, but rather that kid being limited to only buying a few items, the kid’s allowed to have the whole store. They can do whatever they want, however they want, and with all of these wonderful, fabulous and great toys.

That’s what it’s like watching Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear; the kind of movie where a master of his craft knows exactly what it is that he’s doing, having a lovely time with it all, and is barely ever going to let-up. And honestly, when you’re doing a remake on an already-great movie, that’s sort of the way you’ve got to go – you can’t follow the same, beat-for-beat, note-for-note, track-for-track, but instead, amp things up a bit differently. You can focus on a different plot-point altogether, bring out more interesting ideas of the story that may not have been discovered originally, and basically do whatever else you want with the story, so long as you stay true to heart and soul of the original. So few remakes actually abide by this rule, but despite the changes in story and style that Scorsese goes through here, he still sticks true to the original with an eerie tone humming all throughout.

But what’s interesting is that it’s different this time around.

Scorsese approaches the material as if it was an over-the-top, wild, wacky, crazy and unpredictable adventure into one man’s psychotic psyche – someone who doesn’t seem to have a moral compass anywhere to be found and because of that, is taking out the nice, somewhat innocent people. The original touched on this idea, obviously, but Scorsese really hammers it in, allowing for the character of Max to be as depraved and as sickening as humanly imaginable. Sure, it’s campy, it’s wildly insane, and it’s really schlocky, but you know what? It actually kind of works.

A good portion of that has to do with Scorsese’s quick pace, but another portion of that definitely has to do with De Niro’s committed-as-ever performance. Of course, working with Scorsese brings out the best in De Niro, but here, it’s unlike how we’ve ever seen him before – he’s definitely flirted with the idea of being a villain in other flicks before and after this, but never to the supreme extent that he goes with Max. The movie does try some avenues to have us, in the very least, sympathize with him and his stance, but for the most part, the movie knows that he is a monster, and so does De Niro, which makes every scene in which he’s just acting like the creepiest, most erratic person around, so damn entertaining.

It almost makes you wonder where all of the inspiration’s gone in the past few or so years.

Bad housewife.

Bad housewife.

Regardless, Scorsese doesn’t shy away from letting the rest of the cast have their moments, too, especially since they also get to have some development and not just become a typical white, suburban, upper-class family who plays golf and tennis. Nolte’s Sam has got some dark issues to work with, Lange’s Leigh seems to be struggling in her own ways, Lewis’ Danielle, while most definitely a teen, is also a little bit smarter than we’re used to seeing with this kind of character, making her one key scene with De Niro all the more creepy, and Illeana Douglas, in a couple or so scenes, shows true fun and spirit for a movie that seems to enjoy her presence, yet, at the same time, remind us that there’s something dark and grueling really behind all of this fun we’re having.

In fact, where Cape Fear works less is probably in the last-half, when Scorsese really loses his cool here. In a way, Scorsese wants us to see Max as a sort of Christ-like figure which, for a short while, is fine and all, but by the end, becomes such a major plot-point, that it’s almost unbearable to sit and listen through. We get the point as soon as it’s mentioned, yet being that this is a Scorsese movie, faith must be driven into the ground and because of that, the final-act of Cape Fear feels more like wild and over-the-top symbolism, on top of symbolism, and less of a thrilling, compelling and wholly satisfying to a wild ride of thrills, shrills, and shocks.

Still though, it’s one of the rare remakes that rivals the original and how many times can you say that?

Consensus: Wild, a little insane, well-acted, and always exciting, Cape Fear is the rare remake that works just as much as its legendary original does, especially what with Scorsese seeming to have the time of his life behind the camera.

8 / 10

Bad criminal. Or is that sort of obvious?

Bad criminal. Or is that sort of obvious?

Photos Courtesy of: the ace black blog

U-Turn (1997)

uturnposterNext time, wait for the rest stop.

While on the road to who knows where, Bobby (Sean Penn) has a bit of car trouble and has to pull over into the nearest gas-station/mechanic he can find. Of course, this leads him right into the lovely, yet wacky little town of Superior, Arizona, where he’s told that his car will have to stay around for a few more days so that it can get inspected and get all of the right parts it needs to continue to run. Bobby’s not happy about this, but he can’t do much about it, so he decides to set up shop in town for a short while, and in doing so, attracts a whole lot of unwanted and crazy attention from the local folks who clearly seem to be pretty interested in what a city boy like Bobby’s doing around their parts. One person in particular is the sexual and dangerous Grace (Jennifer Lopez), who decides that she wants to run away with Bobby and start out a new life for her. The only issue is that her husband (Nick Nolte), controls almost everything that she does and will not let her out of his sights, regardless of who stands in his way.

Even Sean knows neither of these kids have a career in showbiz.

Even Sean knows neither of these kids have a career in showbiz.

U-Turn is the perfect movie for someone like Oliver Stone to direct right after making something as loud, bombastic and overstuffed like Nixon. Because with U-Turn, you can tell that Stone’s getting back down to his roots, catching his breath, and enjoying this sick, dark and twisted world that he seemed to love and be so fascinated with in Natural Born Killers. And sure, while U-Turn is no way in the same league as that near-masterpiece, it’s still a fun little piece of noir-trash that reminds us what can be done when you have some good material, with a director who knows how to handle it all so well.

Of course, Stone has been better and worse before, but still U-Turn shows us that, once again, Stone knows a thing or two about these dark, gritty and messed-up tales about small people, in small towns, doing some pretty cruel and evil things to one another. Stone of course makes this little town of Superior all the more zany and crazy than we’d ever expect right away, but it works in the movie’s favor; every character we run into and get a glimpse of, despite seeming like over-the-top cartoons, still have this smallest sense of danger in their bones that makes it feel like they could step into the story at any second and cause all sorts of damage. It’s what most thrillers in the same vein strive for, but because Stone has a certain eye for these kinds of movies, it works a whole lot more.

Then again, it is a very disgusting movie that, at times, sure, can test our patience for what we’re capable of seeing and accepting for an upwards of two hours or so.

That said, Stone is having fun here and honestly, that can be sort of rare. There’s this small glimmer of a message about Native American tribes and the fact that they were kicked off of their land, but the movie doesn’t make it a top-priority to get on any sort of soapbox and preach to the audience – it’s rare for an Oliver Stone movie to do that, but it’s a welcome change-of-pace because it helps not take away from the cast and twisty, turny plot, and also allow for us to enjoy the movie a whole lot more, all its shortcomings with plot aside.

Wow. Is this the last time Billy Bob was actually engaged and/or enjoying himself?

Wow. Is this the last time Billy Bob was actually engaged and/or enjoying himself?

Sean Penn is a nice addition to the world of Oliver Stone and even though it’s not a more spirited and crazy performance like we’re so used to seeing from him, as Bobby, it almost feel like he didn’t have to be. In a way, he’s sort of the cool, calm and collected one in the middle of a group full of nuts, wacko’s and fools, which suits Penn a whole lot, even if it is also a whole bunch of fun to see him freak-out every so often. Same goes for Lopez, who is playing the typical femme fatale we see in these sorts of flicks and does a solid job playing up that sexy, vivaciousness of her, making us wonder if we can, or can’t, trust her.

But then, there’s the rest of the ensemble who seem to be a little more ramped-up than Lopez and Penn, which is perfectly fine because it suits them all so well.

Powers Boothe and his eyes steal every scene he’s in, because of how scary he is; Jon Voight has a few heartfelt moments in the middle of a wacky and wild movie; Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes seem as if they walked off of the set of a sitcom as two young lovers who constantly keep on running into Bobby; Billy Bob Thornton seems spirited and awake as the town mechanic who seems to be enjoying his chances of ripping Bobby off every chance he gets; and yes, Nick Nolte is as dastardly as can be, playing Grace’s husband, snarling and howling every line that comes out of his mouth. But you know what? It works. We’re supposed to be repulsed by this guy and Nolte is perfect at delivering it all.

If only he and Stone worked together more.

Consensus: As wild and as crazy as Stone has been, U-Turn also shows off his most vile and inhumane piece that is definitely not his smartest movie, but still a bunch of fun, if in the right mood for it.

7.5 / 10

Yeah, Sean can't be bothered because he's just too cool, yo.

Yeah, Sean can’t be bothered because he’s just too cool, yo.

Photos Courtesy of: DVD Dizzy, Horror Cult Films

New York Stories (1989)

Now that I think about it, New York’s kind of lame.

New York is chock full of interesting little lives and stories that are just waiting to be heard and seen. One concerns a passionate, but confused painter (Nick Nolte), who is struggling to come up with new and interesting ideas, none of which are made any easier when his girlfriend (Rosanna Arquette), walks back into his life without promising to be everything that he needs. Another concerns Zoë (Heather McComb), a little schoolgirl who lives in a luxury hotel and constantly dreams about her father (Giancarlo Giannini) and mother (Talia Shire) getting back together, once and for all. And lastly, one concerns a New York lawyer named Sheldon Mills (Woody Allen), who thinks he’s finally met the love of his life (Mia Farrow), even if his overbearing mother (Mae Questel), doesn’t think so. This brings Sheldon to wishing that she’d just go away once and for all; his dream eventually does come true, except not in the way that he wanted, nor did he ever expect.

Paint it black, please.

Paint it black, please.

The biggest issue with anthology films is that you always run the risk of one portion being way better than all of the rest. In the case of New York Stories, given the talent on-board, it’s honestly a shock that none of the segments are really all that good; there’s one that’s more tolerable than the rest, but honestly, it’s sort of like grasping at straws. And yes, just in case any of you were wondering, New York Stories is an anthology flick featuring three, 35-40 minute segments from Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Woody Allen, respectively.

Let me repeat them all one more time.

Martin Scorsese.

Francis Ford Coppola.

And Woody Allen.

So, why the heck on Earth is this movie incredibly lame? Honestly, from what it looks like on the outside, all three directors had been wanting to do something together for quite some time, however, just never had the right time, or package to do so. Then, a hot-shot, studio exec thought of a grand idea, in having them all contribute to a three-part anthology flick, where people would all get drawn in by the fact that these three directing legends are somehow, slightly coming together on a project for the whole world to see.

Except that this was all happening in the late-80’s, and not the mid-to-late-70’s, when they were all at the top of their game. And also, rather than waiting for them to all have something worthy of filming and throwing into the movie, it appears that each director picked up whatever script they had lying on the ground, had an obligation, was forced to direct something, and just decided to roll with that. Sure, I’m speculating here, but after seeing the final product, I couldn’t imagine New York Stories coming together or being put-together in any other way.

Pictured: The future heir to the Ford Coppola legacy

Pictured: The future heir to the Ford Coppola legacy

For one, Scorsese’s bit is “meh”, at the very best. He gets a lot of mileage out of a neat soundtrack that seems to intentionally ram “A Winter Shade of Pale” down our throats, but honestly, there’s no meat to whatever story was supposed to take place here. Apparently, Nick Nolte and Rosanna Arquette’s characters are supposed to have some sort of sexy, fiery and ruthless relationship, but they don’t have any sex, and then Steve Buscemi shows up, and uh, yeah, I don’t know. Nick Nolte paints a lot and that’s about it. It’s boring, nonsensical, and most of all, uninteresting.

Words I never thought I’d describe something of Scorsese’s, but hey, such is the case.

Then again, Scorsese’s segment isn’t nearly as terrible as Coppola’s.

Yes, Coppola’s segment is notorious for possibly being the worst thing he’s ever directed in his life and, well, I can’t argue with that. It’s really bad, in the sense that it seems like Coppola had no clue of what to film, or actually do with the time and money given to him, so he just decided to make a movie for his kids. Sure, the character of Zoe is cute, but it’s placed in the middle of two, very adult segments that really, it serves no purpose or place in this movie altogether. Why anyone thought this was a good idea in the first place, is totally beyond me.

Heck, I don’t even think Coppola knows what to make of it still to this very day.

But thankfully, the smartest decision of New York Stories is to allow for Woody Allen’s segment to be the very last because, well, it’s the best. Once again, that’s not saying much, but it works because it’s quintessential Woody – light, breezy, simple, funny, and most of all, entertaining. The other two segments, despite appearing as if they were fun to film, don’t really come off as such; Woody, working with a really silly, almost cheeseball-ish plot-line, gets a lot of mileage out of looking like he’s enjoying his time filming this goofy story.

Does it save the movie?

Sort of. But if there was ever a reason to not feel optimistic of any anthology feature, regardless of talent involved, it’s New York Stories.

Consensus: Despite Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese each having something to do with the final product, New York Stories sort of begins on a whim, continues with a snore, and ends on a somewhat likable whimper.

5 / 10

Every Jewish man's dream and/or nightmare, come true. It depends on who you talk to, really.

Every Jewish man’s dream and/or nightmare, come true. It depends on who you talk to, really.

Photos Courtesy of: Jonathan Rosenbaum

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The war is a jungle. In this case, literally.

It’s slap dab in the middle of WWII, or 1942 to be exact, and needless to say, a lot of lives are being lost. Bus most importantly, a lot of soldier’s lives are being lost, which is why a huge platoon is ordered to take the island of Guadalcanal. While this is no walk in the park, it’s made all the more difficult by the fact that the soldiers are literally forced to walk up the mountain, where they’ll most likely be meant by the opposing side, as well as a hail-fire of bullets. Among the many soldiers involved with this battle is Private Witt (Jim Caviezel), a U.S. Army absconder who has gone “native”, as they say, living peacefully with the locals of a small South Pacific island. While Witt is clearly enjoying his time in the sun, it’s all cut short when he’s discovered by his commanding officer, Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn), and forced back on the battlefield. However, there’s more at-play during this battle than just Witt, or Welsh. There’s Lt. Col. Tall (Nick Nolte), who is having a real hard time making up his mind what the best cause or plan for warfare is, even in the heat of the moment; there’s Capt. Staros (Elias Koteas), a fellow soldier in a position of power, who also seems to be having an issue of what to do with it; and there’s Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin), a soldier who’s reeling from a recent heartbreak in his life.

Jesus?

Jesus?

By now, most people know that Terrence Malick is the kind of director you can expect to give you the most ambitious, sprawling, and at times, confusing pieces of epic cinema this side of Kubrick or Kurosawa, but it wasn’t always like that. With his first two feature films (Badlands, Days of Heaven), Malick not only showed his keen eye for an attention to beautiful detail, but also for small, character-driven stories that barely even screech past 100 minutes and instead, keep things tiny, tight and mostly focused. But after spending 20 years away from making movies and doing whatever the heck it is that he was up to, it was clear that something within Malick changed.

And honestly, we’re all the better for it, because, yes, the Thin Red Line is not only Malick’s best film, but perhaps one of the best war films of all time.

Having seen the film at least three times now, I can easily say that it’s up there with the likes of Saving Private Ryan, or Apocalypse Now, when it comes to curating the list of “the greatest war movies ever made”, however, it’s a very different one. In a way, Saving Private Ryan is a far more conventional, Hollywood-ized war movie (although it’s still great), whereas Apocalypse Now is a far more disturbing, terrifying and twisted one (and yes, it’s still great). But what separates the Thin Red Line from these other two flicks is that it’s far more meditative, but at the same time, in its own way, brutal as all hell.

By putting us right along with the numerous soldiers on men on the battlefield, Malick doesn’t let us forget that, for one second, these soldiers aren’t in the nearest thing to hell. They don’t have the slightest clue who is shooting at them, from which direction, where they’re supposed to go, what they’re supposed to do, or even what they’re next line of action is once they actually do get up to the top of the mountain – all that they do know what to do is to shoot, kill and try their absolute hardest to survive. This idea of frustrating, but horrifying confusion that these soldiers must have been going through is effective, especially since Malick keeps his eyes and attention set solely on the American soldiers, what they see, what they feel, and what they’re thinking about at that given time.

Oh, and not to mention, that these soldiers are literally engaged in action for a whole hour-and-a-half, which, when you take into consideration the three-hour run-time, evens out to being pretty action-packed.

However, the movie, nor is Malick all about that idea. No matter what happens in the movie, no matter who gets killed, or for what reasons, Malick never forgets to portray this war as an absolute slaughterhouse of not just lives, but psyches as well. Killing as many people as some of these soldiers do, can do quite a number on you; while that of course can start to happen when the fighting is over, it’s still something that can happen while on the battlefield as well. That’s why it’s not only shocking, but downright upsetting to see some soldiers here lose their minds, not have a single clue of where they’re at, or what they’re actually doing. There’s quite a few soldiers here and there that show up to prove this fact, but regardless, Malick drives home the idea that war is hell.

But even despite all of the violence and sheer ugliness of what’s being portrayed, Malick still finds ways to create some of the most beautiful, eye-catching images ever seen on the big screen. A part of me wishes that I was old enough at the time to see this when it was first in theaters; not just because it would have been great to join that short list of people who actually saw it in theaters when it was originally out, but because John Toll’s cinematography is so amazing, that it absolutely deserved to be seen on the biggest screen imaginable. Even though people are getting killed left and right, bullets are flying, and there’s no exact idea of who is where, Malick and Toll always find the time to capture the loveliness of the scenery this battle is taking place in.

The grass is always greener, well, whenever you don't see grass anymore.

The grass is always greener, well, whenever you don’t see grass anymore.

Of course, with Malick and Emmanuel Lubezki’s relationship becoming something of fact over the past years, the visuals have only gotten better, but it’s hard to deny that the Thin Red Line is easily his best-looking film to date.

But what makes the Thin Red Line perhaps Malick’s best movie, is the fact that it introduced everybody to the fact that he surely did not care at all about star-power, when it came to making his movies. Sure, he clearly doesn’t mind having the likes of Woody Harrelson, John Cusack, George Clooney, or John C. Reilly want to be apart of his movies, but at the same time, he still doesn’t feel like he’s at all inclined to feature them heavily, just because of their name recognition, or whatever other silly ideas Hollywood has about commercial appeal. Though, of course there’s a lot of infamy surrounding Malick’s casting-process and just exactly who he does leave in his movies (Adrien Brody is barely here, despite being lead on to believe he was the main star, and other stars like Mickey Rourke, Bill Pullman, and Martin Sheen were cut-out of the final product).

Honestly, it takes a lot of guts to cut-out someone like George Clooney, and feature a relative unknown at the time, Jim Caviezel, but guts is exactly what Malick has always had in his career and it’s great to see someone in his position to not give a flyin’ hoot about who is a bigger star than somebody else. Of course, it also helps that those that Malick focuses his final-edit on the most, all give great performances, given that a lot of the times they’re thrown in the mix because Malick forgot about them, or just felt like their time was necessary.

Caviezel is a suitable protagonist, who not only shows the inspirational faith within someone like Witt, but the sheer horror when he realizes the evilness to war; Elias Koteas’ character has many scenes where you don’t know what he’s thinking about doing next, but it’s hard to look away; Ben Chaplin’s character is easy to feel sympathetic for, even if he can be a bit hard to differentiate from Caviezel’s Witt; Nick Nolte, well, let’s just say that he’s the stand-out among the cast, showing just how a person in his position of power, can use to his advantage, for better, as well as for worse. Even then, however, when he’s faced with the reality of the harsh realities of war, he still believes that it’s something necessary to life, and even something to be celebrated. And even though he’s quickly told this is not the truth about life, he still smiles his way onto the next war.

And that’s just the way war works. You get past one, and guess what? Sooner or later, you’re onto the next.

Consensus: Beautiful, endearing, thoughtful, well-acted, and above all else, sad, the Thin Red Line is less of a tribute soldiers, and more of a key look inside the sorts of hell they have to go through, and the sort of effect it has on them, while not being nearly as preachy as I make it sound.

9.5 / 10

Let's play a game! Guess which one out of three has a significantly less amount of time in the movie......

Let’s play a game! Guess which one out of three has a significantly less amount of time in the movie……

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Ridiculous 6 (2015)

RidiculousposterAt least Tarantino has a Western coming out.

In the old West, a man by the name of Tommy Stockburn (Adam Sandler) is raised by Native Americans, where everyone calls him “White Knife”. While he doesn’t know who his real father is, he still hopes to meet him one eventual day. After getting kidnapped by a bunch of bad, evil bandits, Stockburn finally understands who his father is (Nick Nolte), which leads him on a trip. Along the way, he ends up meeting 5 other men who, believe it or not, also happen to be his brothers and looking for their father as well. There’s Chico (Terry Crews), a black man who doesn’t know that he’s black; there’s Herm (Jorge Garcia), who can’t speak a single discernible line of dialogue; there’s the slow and obviously mentally challenged Lil’ Pete (Taylor Lautner); there’s the slippery Hispanic named Ramon (Rob Schneider); and last, but not least, there’s the cool and suave Danny (Luke Wilson). Together, they will search far and wide for their father, while at the same time, also stopping any wrong-doings they encounter along the way.

PT, where are you?

PT, where are you?

Why is Netflix making an Adam Sandler movie? Better yet, why are they making not one, not two, and hell, not three, but actually four Adam Sandler movies? Well, folks, in the biz, that’s what we like to call “profit”. Apparently a lot of Sandler’s movies are exceptionally popular on Netflix and it brings into question just in what capacity people want to actually watch his movies.

Do they either want to get in their cars, drive a half-hour, spend nearly $20 on tickets and concessions, watch and spend a few good hours of their lives watching as Sandler and all of his pals get paid vacations? Or do they want to just sit at home, think of something to do, and when push comes to shove, just watch them? Because, if you think about it, it doesn’t really cost much to begin with, so what’s the big deal?

But no matter which way you put it, you should not see the Ridiculous 6. Even though it’s not getting the same treatment as Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation and not playing in any actual movie theaters, it still doesn’t matter. You should not see this movie so therefore, just don’t even bother getting into your Netflix account, either.

Just stay away and spend time with your friends, families, or whoever else, cause anything would be better.

And yes, I know I sound incredibly dramatic right now, but seriously, it’s the truth. Not only is the Ridiculous 6 nearly two-hours long, but it has hardly a laugh to be found. There was maybe one chuckle or two to be found, but other than that? Nope. For the most part, it’s the same as it is with just about every other Sandler movie: The jokes are lazy, tired, and most of the times, offensive to just about every demographic out there in society.

This is something obvious to expect from a Happy Madison production, but what surprises me so much is how this movie, at times, seems to be trying to parody other Westerns. The Magnificent Seven is the clear genre example they use to poke fun at, but honestly, you’d never notice unless you actually saw that movie to begin with; there’s no real actual jokes made at the expense at the genre, or any attempt to be satirical. Everything is, as it appears to be, just made for the sake of being jokes and having people laugh, which surprisingly enough, doesn’t actually seem to happen.

Which is all the more depressing because you take a look at the cast and realize that most of these people involved don’t need this movie to help them out, either financially or professionally speaking.

A lot of Sandler’s buddies like Nick Swardson, David Spade, Dan Patrick, Rob Schneider, and Jon Lovitz all show up and it’s no surprise that they’re here, so it’s not all that upsetting when they show their faces here. However, it’s the likes of people like Luke Wilson, Nick Nolte, Will Forte, Steve Zahn, Danny Trejo, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, and well, yes, even Taylor Lautner, who actually make me sad because you know they don’t really need the help at all. They’ve all got fine careers to begin with and are probably making as much money as Hollywood stars in their positions should be, so why are they even bothering with this? Is it just a favor to Sandler? Or is it just because they’re bored, the paycheck looked that nice, and well, they didn’t really give a hoot?

Keep on looking, boys, you're not going to find a good movie anywhere.

Keep on looking, boys, you’re not going to find a good movie anywhere.

Whatever the reasons were, it’s just a shame to see them all here trying to do what they can with an awful script, a misguided direction from, yet again, another one of Sandler’s buddies, Frank Coraci, and jokes that nobody in their right mind would try to deliver. That none of the jokes actually land, also call into question just what Sandler actually considers “humor” nowadays. Because Sandler co-wrote the script here, my mind automatically shoots to assuming that he did it because he had a contract obligation and decided to piece together a bunch of non-sequiturs and lame gags, regardless of if he actually found them funny.

Because yes people, Adam Sandler actually is funny.

However, here, as with the countless other flicks in his long career, he’s hardly shown it. As an actor, he seems awfully tired and bored here, which already makes me wish that somebody who is actually an innovative, intelligent director would pick him back up and give him something to do. This is something I state in just about every review of an Adam Sandler movie, but it’s the truth: Now, after all of these stinkers, it’s become more and more clear that he doesn’t care, is just collecting the money that flows in, and is going to continue to keep on making hack-jobs such as this. When it will end, nobody knows. All I do know is that Adam Sandler has clearly given up and you know what?

We’ve got three more of these movies.

Enjoy, folks.

Consensus: As expected, the Ridiculous 6 is another one of Adam Sandler’s hack-fests where jokes fly, yet, never land, everybody looks embarrassed, and everyone feels as if they’ve just lost hours of their lives they can’t get back. Except, in this case, it’s two hours.

1 / 10

Yes. I feel bad for this guy.

Yes. I feel bad for this guy.

Photos Courtesy of: Joblo, Hollywood Life

A Walk in the Woods (2015)

The more miles, the crankier they get.

Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) is an author who’s feeling like he hasn’t made much of his life recently. Sure, he’s been published an awful-lot, has a lovely wife (Emma Thompson), lives a comfy life in a New Hampshire suburb, and has clearly got family to fall back on for any sort of happiness. But, for some reason, he still feels the need to make something more out of his life, which is why he decides one fateful day that he wants to hike the Appalachian Trail; which, in case you didn’t know, is nearly 2,200 miles. This is way too much for any older person to partake in, let alone, actually complete and be able to tell the tale one day, which is why Bill’s wife makes him take a friend. Well, after much time of coming up empty with most of the people he wanted to bring along on this trip, Bill gets a call from someone he hasn’t talked to in nearly 30 years: Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), an old friend who still owes him money. Though they haven’t really kept-up with one another for a long time, they see this as an opportunity to get back in the swing of things, see some pretty sights, and feel more pleased with their lives, as a whole. Then again, they are pushing 70 and the trip does begin to take a huge toll on them, no matter how hard they try to make it not.

Dream of a better movie, Rob.

Dream of a better movie, Rob.

Having been toggled with for nearly decades, the film adaptation of Bill Bryson’s memoir has finally come to the big screen! And even though it doesn’t feature the names it originally had attached like, say, Paul Newman, or Richard Linklater, it’s still got the likes of Nick Nolte, Robert Redford, Emma Thompson, and uhm, Ken Kwapis? The dude who directed Beauty and the Beautician? Hell, even the guy who directed License to Wed?

Really?

Well, sadly, yes. Really. And sadly, it just goes to show that Kwapis, even though he may be trying to make a good film here, seems way too out-of-his-depth. He takes what is, essentially, a plot-line that could have been as fun, as insightful, and as entertaining as you’d expect it to be starring two legends of the big-screen such as Redford and Nolte, but literally, turns into nothing. It’s a movie that starts out as being about something, until it turns out that whatever this hiking-trip Bryson’s setting out on, really doesn’t mean anything. The only reason we’re given as to why Bryson would feel so passionate to take a trip like this is because he’s tired of people telling him that he’s too old and can’t do it (which he can’t, because, get this, he’s too old).

As for Katz, the dude just wants some sort of adventure and possibly to hang around an old-pal of his. Is it a little idiotic of him to take this one single opportunity to get that time in? Sure, but he’s definitely a whole lot more sympathetic because of it. Bryson, as written and presented here, is nothing more than just an annoying, over-educated prick who, would much rather speak about the sweet little intricacies of the Maple tree, then actually check in with what his long, lost bud has been up to all these years. Katz, all he wants to do, is talk about getting laid, getting drunk, and any girls that he can remember from the olden-times.

That said, there are bits and pieces of this to be entertained by, solely due to the fact that Redford and Nolte are in these roles, working shop.

You too, Emma. I can already tell you're regretting this decision.

You too, Emma. I can already tell you’re regretting this decision.

Now, had it been Redford and Newman like it was originally planned-out to be, this movie would have been many times better, regardless of problems with the script and/or direction. But that’s not the pairing, or the movie we get; it’s Nolte and Redford and you know what? They do fine together. There’s a nice sense of chemistry between the two that shows in some of the smaller, more intricate moments that you hardly see coming because the movie, as a whole, is a mess and seems more interested in having these old fellas climb out of windows for laughs, rather than actually dig deep into the art of the aging-friendship.

But that said, Nolte and Redford can only carry this so far, until it becomes painstakingly clear that they’re dealing with a crummy movie. And most of this, as much I don’t want to pick on him, comes down to Ken Kwapis. Sure, whatever the hell Redford was thinking allowing for the movie to play-out like this is a point to bring up, but Kwapis really doesn’t put much of an effort into this. The gags are stale; the jokes will occasionally borderline on offensive; and the trip these two take isn’t as eventful, or as lovely as you’d expect it to be because most of the film is filmed in front of a very distracting, cheap-looking green-screen.

If anything, the movie just proves to most film-audiences out there that roles for older-men in their 70’s do come around, except that they open up in films like these. Even though we get a nice supporting cast with names like Kristen Schaal, Nick Offerman, Mary Steenburgen, and of course, Emma Thompson, none of them get a chance to really bring much to the table that we haven’t seen them do before, or worth their while. Schaal is just there to be loud, nasty, and annoying; Offerman is literally playing Ron Swanson, so much so that I wonder if any copyright issues will be coming out of this; Steenburgen’s character is written so terribly that as soon as she sees Redford in a towel, she can’t help but get ready to jump his bone for no reason, other than the movie needed a slight love-interest; and Thompson, bless her heart, really tries with this role and for the most part, gets away with the effort. There’s a real feeling of heart and humanity to her character that’s hardly anywhere to be found with the other characters and it not only made me wish of a better role for her, but a better movie for her to strut her stuff in.

Consensus: The pairing of Nolte and Redford is just about enough to save A Walk in the Woods from being a total and complete misfire, although, this movie is best watched with a grand-parent by your side, so that they too, can remember the golden days of these guy’s careers.

5 / 10

Old guys = hilarity.

Old guys = hilarity.

Photos Courtesy of: Variety, Here and Now, and New York Times

Hateship Loveship (2014)

Nothing stranger than a gal who doesn’t mind cleaning up beds after people soil them.

Quiet, reserved and slightly off-kilter middle-aged caretaker Johanna (Kristen Wiig) has to move when her last employer passes away, which then leads her to her new job: Taking care of a young teenager named Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld). She is currently living alone with her grand-father (Nick Nolte), while her alcoholic father Ken (Guy Pearce) is out-and-about, saying of how he’s trying to get his act together and start up his own Motel. At first, Johanna seems to do her own thing and not really get in anybody’s way, that is until Sabitha and one of her friends find and read a note that Ken has written Johanna. The note itself is harmless and practically meaningless, as it’s just Ken scribbling down his thoughts about how he appreciates Johanna looking after his daughter while he’s gone and whatnot; however, Sabitha decides that it’s time to have some fun with these two adults, and decides to make fake letters for Johanna to respond to. This continues on for quite some time, and gets very serious once Johanna herself even gets an e-mail address, but where it really goes overboard is when Johanna shows up at Ken’s dilapidated place, expecting him to great her with arms wide open, when in reality, he’s sleeping, high, confused and already in a relationship. Still, that doesn’t mean a relationship between the two can’t happen, or even work-out, right?

You’d think that after the smash-success of Bridesmaids, that Kristen Wiig would have taken just about every big, payday-gig Hollywood had to throw at her, right? Well, think again, crazy ones! See, with Wiig, she’s done just about the exact-opposite: She’s used a lot of her “star-power” as pull for these small, relatively low-key indies that she gets apart of, not to just make her shine better as an actress, but actually have audiences see her in a different-light than ever before.

Yup, she loves staring. Just accept it and move on.

Yup, she loves staring. Just accept it and move on.

Cause, Christ, after doing this for about seven years, you’d think that audiences wouldn’t ever take you seriously again!

Well, that’s what’s so surprising about Wiig – not that she’s good at playing-up the whole “drama” aspect to her acting skills, but because she’s able the compelling element in a movie, without barely uttering a word. For people who have wanted to see Wiig just shut it for at least an hour or two, then here’s the movie for you, because she does a whole lot of staring. And also a lot of awkward-pausing, stuttering, more staring, making-out with herself in the mirror, making food silently, and yes, even more staring. However, it’s not as boring or as repititious as I may make it out to be, because there’s always an under-lining thought throughout this whole movie about just who this Johanna woman really is.

Most of that mystery can be attributed to some fine character-development, but it can also be attributed to Wiig herself who, despite only saying more than a couple of paragraphs throughout the whole movie, is by far the one element this movie has that keeps it moving. You can tell that she’s a nice lady, but you can also tell that there is something brewing inside of her, which may either be some sexual-tension she wants to release, or just words that have been stuck inside of gut for the past 20 or so years. Either way, we want to watch her interact with those around her, it’s just hard to see how those people react to her and her way of not responding in a normal, thought-provoking manner like most human beings are pleased with.

But screw human beings, you know!!??! What a weird species, man!

Anyway, despite all of my love for Wiig and what she does here, I don’t mean to take anything away from anyone else in the cast, nor the movie itself. In fact, I’d say that despite the movie being practically just another, slow, quiet and subtle indie-drama, it was one that I rarely ever felt a false note rung with. I would have definitely loved it if the movie went into more depth with these characters, particularly Ken, who spends most of the movie looking like he’s tired, beat-up and doesn’t know what to say. Sure, Guy Pearce is great in the role (then again, when is he never?), but once he and Johanna actually start hanging out and “talking” (notice the parenthesis), I couldn’t help but feel like all of the movie’s steam that it had been building up for so long, just went away and evaporated into the air. It disappointed me a bit, although I do see where they were going with this direction, as well as what it was trying to say about these characters. Can’t say I really agreed with it all that much, but hey, I’m not a director making a movie with the likes of Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte, Kristen Wiig and Hailee Stenfeld, so what the hell do I know, right?

Eh. Teenage girls.

Eh. Teenage girls.

No, really. Somebody help me out here. What the hell do I know?!?!

Well, I guess I can sort of help myself out and answer that I know fine performances when I see one, and there’s plenty to be found here. I already mentioned that Pearce and Wiig are great in their roles, but it’s that Hailee Steinfeld who really left an impression on me with her role here as the 17-something Sabitha, the kind of girl I would approach in high school and talk to, but never really become close with, all because she’s a bit shallow for my taste. Then again, what 17-year-old girl in high school isn’t a bit shallow? Heck, that’s how half of me and my girlfriends met – by being shallow!

Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that Steinfeld plays the role of the “coming-of-age, female-teenager” very well, without over-doing it at all. She seems catty and mean whenever she’s talking about Johanna and other people she doesn’t like; but also a sweet, endearing little gal whenever she’s chatting it up with her grand-pop, late at night, while chewing on some Honey Combs. See, she’s just like you or I! Except she’s an Oscar-nominated actress, appearing alongside the likes of Nick Nolte and whatnot!

God, I really have to get my act together already. Jeez Louise.

Consensus: More of a pleasant, little viewing-piece, rather than something that lasts in your mind for a long time afterwards, Hateship Loveship still boasts good enough performances from the A-grade cast to ensure that our minds won’t linger too much from the conventional material.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

But seriously, that stare doe.

But seriously, that stare doe.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Noah (2014)

Thought he’d need a bigger boat. Guess not.

I don’t think I really need to state what this movie is about, but in case those of you out there have either been living under a rock for the past one million years, or just don’t pay attention to anything at all in the whole, wide world, here’s the plot: Noah (Russell Crowe) is a descendant of Seth, which means he is one of the very few nice men in the world that doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t kill when he doesn’t have to, and loves all things that are beautiful with the world. He loves nature, he loves his wife (Jennifer Connelly), his family and most of all, his God. So much so, that when he has a vision in his dreams that the world will be destroyed one day due to a huge flood, he decides to take matters into his own hands and prepare the right way. What is “the right way”, you ask? Well, that consists of building a giant-scale Ark that will hold two of every animal species known to man in order to have all of them continue on and live, even if the world itself is totally wiped-out. Things for Noah and his whole family seem to go fine, that is until Noah gets a little bit crazy with what it is that God actually wants him to do, against what it is that he thinks he should do.

As predicted, there’s been a lot of talk surrounding this movie. Many Christian-advocates have stood-up, said their peace about this flick and even though they haven’t necessarily been totally against it, per se, they definitely haven’t given it the glowing pass of approval neither. So basically, this movie may offend you, but then again, at the same time, it may not. It all depends on how in-touch you are with your faith and whether or not you actually want to see a full-length, feature-flick about a dude who built an Ark to preserve life for the rest of humanity.

Personally, I don’t want to see that kind of movie. But if Darren Aronofsky is directing it, then count me the hell in!

"Guess you didn't get the memo about '80's glam-metal hair-styles only', huh?"

“Guess you didn’t get the memo about ’80’s glam-metal hair-styles only’, huh?”

And if anything, the idea of having Darren Aronofsky direct this as a certain “passion project” of his, is definitely the most intriguing-aspect behind this flick. You’d never expect the same kind of guy who gave us scenes like this, or this, or hell, even this, to be so willing and dedicated to give his own, in-depth version of an as-old-as-time story that’s only about a few paragraphs or so long. But with Aronofsky, you can never, ever tell what his next move is going to be; whether it be what movie he decides to direct next, or what he actually does in his own movies, the guy is totally unpredictable. However, in today’s day and age of cinema, we need that, which is why when you get a Darren Aronofsky movie, it doesn’t matter what the subject-material is or how it’s going to play-out in terms of who it’s for – all you have to know is when, where, what time and if you’re able to see it right away!

As you can probably tell, I was very excited for this movie, just judged solely by who was making it and to be honest, that’s probably what kept this movie going for me. It seemed strange in the first place that a major-studio would actually back a biblical-epic directed by Darren Aronofsky in the first place, and seeing the end-result, it’s apparent why I had those ideas in my in the first place. Like all of Aronofsky’s movies, this is downright beautiful; from the visuals, to the amazing, sometimes over-wrought score from Clint Mansell, to even the biblical-imagery that doesn’t hit you over the head, but is able to make you understand what message it’s trying to convey, everything was given the right attention of detail it needed to seem like an actual story from this time and place, rather than just a cheap dramatization we’d get on the History Channel.

Even the actual story here, which Aronofsky clearly took plenty of liberties with, seems like something he’d do; the main character of Noah, here, has an obsession over doing what God wants him to do, even if it does make him absolutely insane. In fact, where this movie really gets interesting is when Aronofsky sheds a light on how Noah either does or doesn’t take God’s demands or ideas about saving humanity and getting rid of those who don’t deserve to live, as understandably as he should. In any movie, directed by anybody else who didn’t have nearly as bright a mind as Aronofsky, this message could have been handled terribly and even offend some out there, but what Aronofsky does is just show a character finding himself in a bit of a bind as to whether or not he should do exactly what he thinks God is telling him to do, or act as he should, a moral human being. Instead of seeing Noah as a Saint that did everything right, for every person around him, including God, we see him as a man that struggled with his faith, with the situation he was thrown into and how all of the pressure was thrown onto him to not only preserve these animals, but keep those around him alive and well, knowing that they’d die soon, and possibly even be the last ones alive on Earth.

Pretty freaky stuff, but I guess when you got the big G.O.D. backing you up, it doesn’t matter.

But as interesting as most of the things that Aronofsky does with this material, I still can’t help but feel as if a bit too much of it is over-blown beyond its means. For instance, Noah, as almost every epic, is nearly two-and-a-half-hours, and it feels like so. That isn’t good, not because long movies shouldn’t exist, but because this one feels unnecessarily long, when only a good hour-and-a-half of this movie is really worth seeing. Everything leading-up from when Noah has these dreams of the apocalypse, to when he actually gets the Ark up and running, is exciting, tense and exactly the type of viewing-experience I expected to have with something on this grand-of-a-scale.

"But in all seriousness though, honey, I'm fucking craving a hamburger. We gotta get rid of the pigs."

“But in all seriousness though, honey, I’m fucking craving a burger. We gotta get rid of the cows.”

However, all of the energy of this movie seems to fade out, slowly but surely. I don’t want to say where this story goes and how dark it gets, but it seemed like Aronofsky felt like he really needed to allow this movie to play-out as long as he possibly could, so threw in all sorts of subplots he could. This not only has it seem like it’s meandering and taking its good old time to get to a finale, but doesn’t really know where it’s going to end-up – much like Noah and the rest of his family on this Ark. I was still interested in seeing where this movie would go, but after awhile, I began to wonder if that moment would ever come around, and if it did, would it actually be satisfying, or just rushed and too safe for its own good.

Somehow, it placed somewhere in the middle, but I can’t say I was all that disappointed where it did go and end. Doesn’t offend too many people, but still keeps it a bit edgy and hard-hitting for those who want some deeper-meaning out of what they see here.

And of course, before I head-off into the sunset, I do have to give some credit to the cast for at least trying with what they’re given, as timid as some of it may be. Russell Crowe is perfectly-cast as Noah, showing all sorts of grit, manliness that makes you seem his as the type of guy you don’t want to mess with when it comes to the apocalypse, but also enough compassion to where you can sort of see that he’s a sweet guy behind the huge muscles and supreme fighting-skills. It was also nice to see Jennifer Connelly back in a movie with Darren Aronofsky, and actually get some worthy-material that has her shed those skills more than a few times, particularly in a scene where she basically tells Noah to wake up and snap out his crazed-daze. And as usual, Anthony Hopkins is a fine-addition to the cast as he brings a lot of fun, light and humor to a film that seemed so serious and over-blown most of the time. And he does it all by wanting berries!

Didn’t see that part in the original source-material, but then again, it’s been a long time since my Vacation Bible School days.

Consensus: While the first hour-and-a-half packs a exciting, tense and epic-punch that Darren Aronofsky is clearly able to deliver, the remainder of Noah does seem to meander and have no clue where to go, which may be more of a problem with the studio that helped produce it, rather than the creator himself, but it’s still a noticeable problem nonetheless.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED, YOU DIE HARD CHRISTIANS YOU?!?!?"

“ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED, YOU DIE HARD CHRISTIANS YOU?!?!?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Company You Keep (2013)

People get old. Even hippies.

Jim Grant (Robert Redford) is living the life that most men of his age should. He has a job, he has a kid, he has responsibility, and he seems to have no problems. That all turns inside-out once a fellow acquaintance of his (Susan Sarandon) turns herself over to the police for a crime she and others committed almost 30 years ago. Grant may or may not have been apart of it, but before he can even turn himself clean, young and reckless journalist (Shia LaBeouf) decides that it’s his time to shine and accidentally “outs” Grant as a former member of an underground movement that had something to do with the death of a bank-teller, those fateful 30 years ago.

This reminds me of one of those thrillers that should have been made, and probably would have made more sense in the 70’s. Due to the fact that a lot of this movie has to do with some hippie-talk, paranoia, and discussions of “the man”, it only seems right that a certain generation that had everything to do with those themes, would be the perfect time for a story like this to take place. However, that’s not where Redford decides to take it and instead, shows that everybody gets old, age-wise, but their beliefs still stay the same. That’s right, we’re most likely going to be stuck with hipsters for the rest of our lives. Hip, hip…..

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at with this movie is that it seems like the aging (and it’s showing) Robert Redford likes to direct movies and better yet; likes to direct movies about something political. Obviously Lions for Lambs was a crack-pot of ideas, thoughts, and themes that he loved to shout at everybody, as if they didn’t already think war killed people, but hey, that’s all fine and dandy once you get underneath it all. This movie is probably less concerned with politics, and more about actually being a thriller, that has a lot of people speaking in code, talking about the past, and running-away from the policia. In that aspect of the film: ehh, it’s okay. But to be honest, going into a movie like this, with the cast he has assembled (seriously, just look at it!!), and knowing that it’s coming from the grips of Redford, you can’t expect greatness. Just expect a good time that is a perfect time-killer, and leave it at that.

"Hello? 911? Yes, I'm serious. I'M HAVING A FUCKING HEART ATTACK."

“Hello? 911? Yes, I’m serious. I’M HAVING A FUCKING HEART ATTACK.”

However, that’s not to say that all is forgiven in the end. Nope, there are still a bunch of problems with this flick and that’s the fact that most of this just is not all that interesting. There are about three story-lines going on here at once, with one being the most interesting, the other starting off strong and then running it’s course, and then the last one ending up on being “ridiculous”. The most interesting story-line of the whole movie is definitely LaBeouf’s journalist character as he leaves his conscience on the side, for the hopes that he will make it big and get his story on the front of the paper. This was not only the most interesting because of where it went (in and out of the newsroom), but because LaBeouf is so good in it.

I’ve always stood-up for LaBeouf in most movies that he’s done in the past and even though I will admit, the guy surely isn’t lovable and probably isn’t all that easy to work with, I still have to say that he’s very good when it comes to putting himself into a role, and making it work. This is that role where he totally surprised me and from what I read: others as well. LaBeouf is perfectly-cast because he uses that cocky, brash-attitude of his that we see used so many times whether it be actually in a movie or on the streets, and show how it can affect one person when they work and when they aren’t working. I’ll admit that the ending for this character felt a little bit half-hearted with it’s attempt to give him a heart and soul (journalists have none), but LaBeouf keeps his head above water and makes this his movie. But when the movie moves away from him, then it gets bad. Not too bad, but bad nonetheless.

Redford is still a good actor and has that wit and charm that makes him a likable guy to watch on-screen, but he’s pushing 76, which means the guy’s getting old. Also, that means that it’s getting a bit harder and harder to believe that a guy of his age and his build, could really last a whole flick where he’s out-running the cops, Bourne-style. Out-smart them? Sure, I could believe that. But running away from them every chance he gets? Eh, there’s only so much I can and will believe in. That whole aspect where he’s on the run starts off interesting, but loses steam as quickly as Redford does when he’s running those laps (heyyo!), but it’s not the worst story-line in the whole movie.

Out of the three, the worst story-line I’d have to say was the one where every single person that Redford’s character in this movie talked to, talked about the old days and never seemed to get a grip with reality and realize that they aren’t young, whippersnappers anymore. Every person that he reconnects with, either has grown-up, or totally stayed in the same motto of life where the man got them down and they did everything for a valuable reason. Whether or not Redford actually believes in this hippie bullshit is totally beyond me, but I can only hope not, considering it’s so preachy, so stupid, and just so annoying to hear, especially coming out of the mouths of such old folks. Not saying that old people don’t have these same opinions or beliefs or anything, just saying that it’s a bit hard to believe in.

Jew-fro and all, the kids got it made.

Jew-fro and all, the kid’s got it made.

Having a ensemble cast like this, however, may spice things up a bit to the point of where it’s not so bad to listen to these characters speak their “government speech” anymore. Peeps such as Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, and Sam Elliot show up to do their thang, but so do some ladies like Brit Marling, Anna Kendrick, and Julie Christie. Everybody in this movie is good with what they do, no doubt about it, and it’s not like they were needed for anything else other than a couple of scenes to do on the weekend, just to help out their old pal, Robbie (I hope that’s what his friends call him). For that matter, it’s fun and exciting to watch, especially since you know that there is always another welcome face, just right around the corner waiting to be spotted. Nice to know that Robbie also still has some pull with stars nowadays, as well.

Consensus: It may not always work, and is downright ridiculous at times, The Company You Keep is still an entertaining movie that has the well-acted ensemble to back it up, as well as a story that takes a couple of twists and turns you don’t really see coming, regardless of how how much you can or cannot take it in and believe it.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Oh yeah, and THE TUCCCC!! is here as well.

Oh yeah, and THE TUCCCC!! is here as well.

Parker (2013)

Would have been more interesting if he had a ticker on his heart. Way more interesting, actually.

Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief, who doesn’t steal from the poor or hurt innocent people. However, all of his skills and professionalism runs into problems when he’s not only betrayed by his fellow criminals, but also has to take under a woman (Jennifer Lopez) for leverage. Since they’re both hot, you can already assume what’s going to go down between them next. Ohhh yeah.

I don’t think I’m alone in the boat when it comes to my opinions of Jason Stathom, action-vehicles. Yeah, they are all the same in the way that they are just loud, stupid, and just meant to show-off Statham’s rockin’ bod, but none the less, they are also quite fun and can be a lot better, if done the right way. Adding director Taylor Hackford (the guy’s made some great flicks in the past, but being married to Helen Mirren I think takes the cake on that career), a little bit of J’Lo love, and a bit of source material from the wonderful-mind Donald Westlake may make it seem more than just another action-vehicle for the dude. Sadly, it is exactly what I expected but a tad better than we are used to seeing and hey, in the month of January, that is not bad at all.

Most people have been bashing this movie for everything that it is, but I think most people are getting by the fact that it’s meant to be stupid, loud, and fun, without really having to worry about being different from anything else that Statham has ever done in the past, characters and movies-wise. Take for instance the character of Parker: he’s supposed to be the perfect anti-hero that does bad things, but also has a certain likeness to him that shows you he doesn’t kill innocent people, and only takes the money away from the baddies. Seems like an alright dude, even if he is stealing and committing crimes, but an alright dude none the less. However, that whole idea of having Parker play-out as an anti-hero, totally goes out the window after the first 15-minutes where he’s apparently back-stabbed, shot, and left for dead (not a spoiler, it’s all in the trailers, people!). Instead, he’s just Jason Statham, doing Jason Statham and that’s not such a terrible thing when the guy is as committed as he is in all of his action movies.

"Forgive me father, for I have...HOLY SHIT!!"

“Forgive me father, for I have…HOLY SHIT!!”

Statham is one of the last, or very few guys left in Hollywood that’s dedicated to doing lean, mean action-movies where he does all of his stunts, all of his work, and basically, anything that he’s asked to do. Here, he’s just playing himself and is charming, as always, and can handle himself when it comes to getting dirty and physical. He’s okay, and so is J’Lo who shows up as the real-estate agent who’s sad, lonely, bored, annoyed by her stereotypical, Latina mom, and even worse, pushing 40. J’Lo has never been a favorite of mine but she’s fine here and brings out some real fun and energy in a role that could have just been played so plainly and boring, just so all of the focus could be on Statham and all of the insane-o shit he does as an action-hero. I was a bit bummed to see that these two didn’t have much chemistry going on between one another, not just in the story but the performances as well, but I also think that Hackford sort of got that right from the start, decided to scrape it, and have some fun with this movie. Fun, is exactly what occurs.

The movie is definitely an action-flick that’s for the people with little to no brains, who just come for the popcorn, the soda, and the fun, but it’s a tad bit more than that. It’s actually sort of a heist film as well, where instead of seeing a bunch of brawls just happen out of nowhere, we actually get to see some crimes go down, the professional-way where everything is planned, everything is executed, and everything is pretty damn suspenseful  I’m not going to lie, I sort of did know how this was all going to end at one-point, but the thought in my mind that this movie could go anywhere with it’s characters and plot, kind of did keep me on-edge through a good-portion of this movie, even I did expect the cliches to start coming-through, as-soon-as-possible. But, then again, this is what we have come to expect from a Statham-actioner and there is a certain essence of joy and delight in that idea.

However, this flick is exactly what you would expect from a movie starring Jason Statham, and anybody going into this, expecting anything more, will most likely be pissed-off and terribly disappointed. I don’t know why you would because when you see the name “Statham”, you automatically just think loud, dumb, action-movie that only d-bags would go out and pay money to see. I didn’t pay moolah to see this movie, but does that still make me one of those d-bags? But I digress. If you go into this movie expecting anything new, improved, or original coming from the mind of Statham, you’re going to be ticked-off. As simple as that, people.Actually, I would probably say the worst-aspect of this whole movie isn’t just Statham, but it’s more or less the supporting-cast that surrounds him as they don’t really even seem like they are trying. And if they are, then shit; they just blow!

"I need a man more my age,. Especially one with the worst, fake-Southern accent I have ever heard."

“I need a man more my age. Especially one with the worst, fake-Southern accent I have ever heard.”

The main baddies are played by the usual people we see play these types of roles like Micah A. Hauptman, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, and of course, Clifton Collins Jr., who is probably playing his 500th villainous-role in his whole career. All of these guys try their best with whatever they can muster up, but it just isn’t enough since the script is so lame, and their action is so off-key. And by “off-key”, I don’t mean that they don’t hit the right notes they are supposed to hit like if they were a singer who just became deaf, but more or less that they are just actors that don’t know what type of roles they are playing, and instead of playing in a small type-of-way, they are so over-the-top and outlandish, it’s almost laughable to watch. Seriously, the first 10-minutes of this movie made me and my buddy just sit-back in our seats and laugh our pants-off by not only how ridiculous everything was, but just by how terrible these actors are. And maybe it’s not that they’re bad actors, it’s actually more that they were just not good for these roles and could have probably been played by guys who don’t give a shit about their careers. I guess Collins Jr. counts then, right? Also, Nick Nolte appears here as Parker’s sort-of mentor, who growls his way through another performance. Oh, and he also drinks in this one, too! Good to know you’re helping your image out, Nick!

Consensus: If you know what you’re getting yourself into when you walk through the doors of a movie starring Jason Statham, then you know exactly what to expect from Parker and that is loud, unpolished, and unapologetic joy and desire to have a good time, even if it is nothing new or refreshing that you haven’t already witnessed before.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

“Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!”

“Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!”

Gangster Squad (2013)

The most violent game of Cops and Robbers I’ve ever seen played.

Sean Penn plays mob king Mickey Cohen, a ruthless gangster who runs the entire city of Los Angeles, including the cops and politicians under his control. Determined to bring him down is a small, secret task-force spearheaded by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling).

After the Aurora shootings occurred over last Summer, I was pretty bummed to see that this flick would be pushed-back, due to the fact that it actually featured a movie theater shooting itself. It looked like a nice mixture between L.A. Confidential and The Untouchables, with just a dash of present-day, digital-era filmmaking, and to top that, it boosted a pretty solid cast. However, it doesn’t matter when I saw this flick, all that matters is that I did see it and it’s nothing special. Yep, now I’m sort of glad it waited til now.

It’s pretty strange to see that director Ruben Fleischer would actually take this material, considering it’s not really something he has done in the past. This is the same guy who brought us Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less, which are both movies that feature a crap-ton of action and humor, but yet, never made me feel like I was watching the work of a guy that could be the next De Palma or Lumet. I was right. It’s not that Fleischer doesn’t hold his own when it comes to the action, because he definitely does and make it as bloody as can be, it’s more or less that there’s nothing else more to it. It’s pretty cool to see a bunch of crooks get their asses beat to a bloody pulp and watch all of the new, sadistic ways it can happen, but after awhile, it just seems like that is all this flick has going for itself.

Meet me in the paaaaark, it's going down.

Meet me in the paaaaark, it’s going down.

Hell, even at one-point during the movie, somebody actually begs the question, “why?. Why is this violence happening?” Well, the answer to that is simple: Hollywood and making money, baby! I never expected this flick to ever bring-up a point that I was thinking the whole time, and that’s that these police officers are doing just as much dirty work as these crooks are doing, but yet, are being applauded and praised for it, all because they have a gun and a badge. It definitely brings up a great question as to why should they be allowed and who’s right and who’s wrong. However, those points are a little too smart for a movie like this where people get their heads drilled in and eaten by dogs. Both of which, actually happen, and all due to the excitement and glee of it’s audience.

But, that excitement and glee, isn’t all that bad when it’s done right. Yeah, Fleischer really does drop the ball on providing more of a moral important/emphasis on all of the violence and ass-kicking, but for the most part, he keeps things alive and well with just enough action to have us cured for whenever this story feels the need to take a nap, here and there. You get the blood, you get the guns, you get the punches, and you get the explosions. What else could ya ask for? And if there is something else could you ask for, why the hell would you? Seriously, it’s the dead of Winter and if this is the best we are going to get, then hey, I’ll get a piece of popcorn, soda, my nice jammies, sit-down, relax, and freakin’ revel in it. You can’t ask for much else, so you might as well just enjoy it.

If there was a big disappointment with this movie, it’s the fact that the cast is so stacked and so filled to the brim with A-listers that are usually hitters, more than missers, that it’s really disappointing to see them work with a lame-o script like this. Josh Brolin is the leader of the Gangster Squad, and of the movie, if you think about it, and does a serviceable job as a pretty tough-guy that can do his work, wants to do what is right, but yet, go back home to his lovely wife and be the husband that she wants. Brolin is always a likable presence to watch on-screen and even though I felt like this character could have had more done to him to make us feel like we really know him from the inside and out, it’s still a lot more development than anybody else in this damn movie.

Well, him and Ryan Gosling, of course. Gosling is great as the sly, but charming cop that doesn’t even originally plan to be apart of this gang, but actually does and thank the high heavens for that, because the guy not only makes the gang better, but the movie in-return. Gosling just has this look to him that not only makes him the coolest guy in the room, but also the nicest guy, too, and you feel as if no matter what crazy shite gets thrown his way, he will still always end-up doing the right thing. The little “romance” he has with Emma Stone feels like it could have really sparked, like it did so well in Crazy, Stupid, Love, but just doesn’t. Instead, most of their scenes are them just having melodramatic-argument-after-melodramatic-argument, almost to the point of where it doesn’t matter as to whether or not they stay together, because it won’t be for long.

I'd take that drink.

I’d take that drink.

The reason they do argue so much, is because Stone’s character is with Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn in his most entertaining-role in the longest-time. When this movie was originally supposed to come out, I thought that it would give Penn a nice Oscar-push for Supporting Actor since he was playing a person so evil, so malicious, and so bad, that he could have easily gotten a nomination. However, since his flick doesn’t even come close to qualifying and now that I’ve seen it, I can say that he doesn’t even come close, but that’s still not a bad thing. This isn’t as much of an Oscar-caliber performance, as much as it is just a fun performance that seemed like Penn wanted to do for the longest-time, just so he could get away from the heavier stuff in his career. Is it perfect? No, not really, because the guy is still over-the-top and cartoonish, but at least he is always entertaining to watch and that was more than I could really say about him, when he was impersonating another famous figure; Robert Smith. Yeah, I guess people want to forget about that movie now.

The rest of the cast has a bunch of big names that have all been amazing in the past, and hell, maybe even the past year, but yet, aren’t given all that much to do. Nick Nolte is absolutely wasted as the head of the L.A. police department and shows up for about 10 minutes, tells Brolin what to do, and sounds like he’s still looking for that lung after all of these years. He’s alright, but damn, is it a weak role for an actor that always gives 110%, with everything he’s given. The rest of the Gangster Squad features the likes of Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, and Robert Patrick, all of which do their best with what they can but in the end, sort of feel like they should have been given a lot more to do. Especially Mackie, of all people, who really feels like he should have been a big star by now, he just hasn’t found the right juices to get it flowing.

Consensus: Though it is nothing more than a movie about bad guys and good guys facing-off, against one another, Gangster Squad is still a bunch of fun that has a retro-vibe and feel, even if it feels like it should be more with the load of talent it has in-front of and behind the camera.

6.5/10=Rental!!

"Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!"

“Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!”

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Who said Africans don’t have their own Schindler’s List?

The movie is about Paul Ruseabagina (Don Cheadle), a man who works at his hotel during the violent war between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda. When the war goes out of control and innocent people are starting to get killed one by one, Paul risks everything to save his family and the many refugees on his hotel.

If I was a resident of Africa, I would be pretty pissed with Hollywood because it seems as if every time they always have a movie that portrays that area, it’s filled with chaos, genocide, murder, and dead-bodies left in the street. Seriously, does Africa have anything else to offer than a bunch of mobile slaughterhouses? I don’t think Hollywood has caught-on to that idea yet that maybe Africa isn’t as shitty as it once was, but damn, does it make some good-drama. I’m thinking from a Hollywood producer view-point, not my own.

With a movie about genocide and featuring plenty of innocents getting hacked-off by machetes on a daily basis, you would think that this flick would be all sorts of gruesome but surprisingly, director Terry George keeps things relatively civil and very PG-13. Yeah, I do think that the PG-13 rating sort of got over-stepped a couple of times but you know what? I’m not part of the MPAA and I don’t care either way, because George does a nice-job on not only focusing on the horrors of this 1994 massacre in a disturbing, but still respectable way, but also focusing on what made those people who lived through it all want to continue life some more.

I’m not one for these sappy, melodramatic, inspirational true-tales of a guy who fought against-the-odds and one because no matter how much of a twist you may put on it, it’s still the same old song and dance. You can have a good-guy seem like he’s never going to make it out alive, stack all of the odds against him, and in the opponent’s favor, but no matter what, the good-guy always wins, good overcomes evil, and the human-spirit always prevails. That’s why I was really surprised by how emotionally-connected I felt to this story, despite me knowing pretty much how it was going to end, where, when, and how.

George plays things very subtle on his direction, and instead, allows the story to tell itself in a way that makes you realize that this is as inspirational it they come, in terms of true-life stories. This man, Paul, literally had no chance of living whatsoever and even though he pretty much knew that from day uno, once things started to get a little shaky in home hood, but he never stopped giving-up hope, he never stopped to protect those around him, and surprisingly, he actually accepted the fact that he would most likely die no matter what the outcome of all of this strife and internal conflict would be. That’s very respectable and brave of a man to have, and you will be very, very inspired by this man after you see all that he had to do, all of the strings that he pulled, and all  of the promises he had to make, just to ensure the safety of himself, his family, and everybody else around him. Knowing me, I would have probably would have bitched-out and totally just gave-up all hope and have them cut me like ham out on my front-lawn, but watching a man like this, seeing everything that he would do to keep his people alive, and knowing that it was all a true-story with some liberties taken here and there, I felt very inspired and sure with myself. Then, I turned-off the movie and came back down to reality and realized: well, I’m still a pussy.

What makes this man so special, so memorable, and so brave, is mainly because of the tour de force performance from Don Cheadle, in his first, leading-role, if you can believe it. See, before 2004, Cheadle was not the household name that he is today and was only really known as a character actor that showed-up in random stuff, acted like the tough, sly black-guy, and that was basically it. He was good at it, don’t get me wrong, but there’s always something more to him and that’s what he shows-off here so perfectly as Paul Ruseabagina. There are so many scenes where you can just feel this man really starting to lose all hope and faith in humanity, but still, somehow is able to keep it together for his family, everybody around him, and mostly, himself. A couple of moments in this flick we just see him break-down into full and utter tears (that tie scene was amazing), and it has an effect on us because this is a guy we feel as if we can trust more than anybody else that he’s hiding in that hotel. I’ve got to give it to Cheadle, the guy handled the African-accent perfectly and even though some of his lines may have been a bit cheesy, he still works through it and has us believe in this man for all that he is. I loved Cheadle here and it’s a real shame that the guy hasn’t been given more opportunities like this to just act his off, because we all know he can. And if not, just watch this damn movie and you’ll come back a hella surprised.

But see, the problem with Cheadle being so powerful, being so memorable, and basically, being the only element to this movie that could have the waterworks moving for me, is that he’s probably the best thing this movie has going for it, in terms of acting. His wife, played by Sophie Okonedo is good and definitely shows that there is a lot more to her than just a damsel in distress that needs her hubby with her every step of the way, but everybody else seems painfully dull and just plain and simply obvious.

Nick Nolte is always an actor that I can count-on to give a solid performance but here, the guy’s character just blows, showed-up every once and awhile, delivered some piss-poor news, went-away, came back again, and it was the same thing over and over again. Nolte can handle these types of roles like nobody’s business, but his material is just too dull and boring for him to really shine above it all. Then of course, there’s another crazy-man by the name of Joaquin Phoenix in this who doesn’t have a huge-role, but it is honestly a role that could have been taken-out of the final-cut, and it wouldn’t have made a lick of a difference either way if he was in the movie or not. I should never have to say that about Phoenix and no matter how much of you out-there think (and pretty much know) that the guy’s crazy, you still can’t deny he’s a great actor that takes great-care of every role he’s given.

However, I haven’t even gotten to the actual, African-troops that are as evil, despicable, and distasteful as you can get. In every single one of these movies, the generals are always the same: big, bad, mean, corrupt, and always smoking a cigar to show how relaxed and rich they are. It’s a cliche that shows-up in all of these movies and it’s one that shows-up here way too many times, and is just obvious that it’s not working in this flick, especially when Cheadle’s playing across-of them. Each general acts as if they can’t wait to get their hands on their machete so they can just cut somebody up to little, bitty pieces and even if they were all like that, it still doesn’t mean I want to see it, over and over again. Cheadle as Paul is great, but everybody else, well, they just feel like cardboard cut-outs of characters that were supposed to be there and have real thoughts, real hearts, and real feelings but in the end, I got nothing from any of them.

Consensus: You’ll be quick to dismiss it as “obvious, conventional, and cliche”, and in a way, you may be correct, but Hotel Rwanda doesn’t let that get in the way of a true-tale of the hope, courage, and honesty of one man named Paul Ruseabagina, played oh so perfectly by Don Cheadle, in his best role ever. Yes, I did say, EVER.

8/10=Matinee!!

Arthur (2011)

Who says you don’t need another story about a drunk rich dude in the 21st century?

Irresponsible charmer Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) has always relied on two things to get by: his limitless fortune and the good sense of lifelong nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren) to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge – choosing between an arranged marriage that will ensure his lavish lifestyle or an uncertain future with the one thing money can’t buy, Naomi (Greta Gerwig), the only woman he has ever loved.

Having already seen the original and knowing that this flick was just another unnecessary remake used to boost up somebody else’s career, I can’t say that I was looking forward to this but more as curious. I was curious to see whether or not how bad this actually was and if, just if, it would make me hate everyone involved. Well, it didn’t really do either.

This film is definitely a little bit different from the original, in the way its story is shown. The original shows this drunken billionaire as a sad and messed up dude, but here, Arthur is shown as a charming and happy man-child which is the right approach I think this film took. The script has its fair share of problems in many departments but the comedy was pretty funny and there were a couple of zingers here and there that actually had me chuckling, which is something I was definitely not expecting in the least bit. About 1 in every 10 joke actually hits it mark, but that’s still better than 0 so I can’t say that I didn’t at least laugh a couple of times here.

The problem that this film hits is that it just feels too held-back from everything it could have possibly explored. What I mean by that is since the film is rated PG-13, you never get any real hard raunchy jokes and you don’t get anywhere near the close amount of debauchery as you got with the original. You see his drinking problem come up 2 times, you hear about how he apparently he has sex with all of these chicks even though you rarely see them, and we never get to see him go to any darker places than he was already in. The whole rating this film was given made it enough to appeal to just about everyone, but I still feel like they held-back a little bit too much.

Let me also not forget to mention that the problem with this flick lies within the fact that it starts to get very cheesy and predictable by the end, which lead me to eye-roll a couple of times. I mean I knew where this film was obviously going right from the start but sooner and sooner down the road with this flick, I realized that the laughs weren’t really here and even though the film did display a nice little amount of heart and emotion for its story, a lot of it just didn’t feel right and more of just cliche.

Your enjoyment of this film will probably be based on how much you actually enjoy watching Russell Brand for a whole 109 minutes. I like Brand and I think he’s always funny and this is no exception here. He spits-out jokes with rapid fire, almost never stopping, and just brings that great charm we all know and love him for. Brand seems like a different Arthur as opposed to Dudley Moore’s version and still is able to handle the expectations of this role very well. The problem that he runs into is that when it comes to him actually bringing some emotional and heart-gripping drama to the flick, he can’t really do it all that well. Brand comes off as more of a really soft dude whenever he tries to soften up his mood and it just does not feel right considering this guy the whole film is making references to Chinese little girls, Batman, and even the French in such a mean-spirited way.

As with the original, this one here really tried its hardest to have us relate to and care about Arthur, when he just seemed like too much of a dick to care about in the first place. I mean this guy is filthy rich, doesn’t have work a day in his life, and is about to marry Ben Affleck’s smoking-hot wife, and he’s complaining about how he’s not able to be with the one he truly loves. Come on, stop being a little bitch and just soak it up, or how about you actually get a job and stop being a little brat.

The supporting cast is also a lot of fun as well and damn near saves this flick. Helen Mirren is great as Hobson, and shows that she can be totally hilarious without barely ever cracking a smile. She’s sarcastic, realistic, but also very mean which is where I found most of the time she was on-screen to be some of the best moments. It was also really funny watching her try her hardest not to actually laugh at Brand doing all of his goofy stuff. Greta Gerwig gets her first main-stream role here as Naomi, and she’s very good but she seems too much of a type like that quirky, indie girl we see so much now of. Jennifer Garner is also fun to watch in this very unlikable role as Susan and she’s just totally crazy in a type of role we barely ever see her in ever.

Consensus: Arthur is a remake that is predictable, unnecessary in the first place, and doesn’t really do anything new here at all, but the cast makes this film enjoyable and funny enough to at least have a little fun for the time being. Still, who the hell needed an Arthur remake?!?

5/10=Rental!!

Warrior (2011)

Before he destroys Batman, Tom Hardy gets to destroy his brother.

Tom Conlon (Tom Hardy) and older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) have pursued separate lives, but when Tom returns home to ask his father’s help in preparing for a championship bout, events lead the siblings back into each other’s paths.

Judging from the trailer, I was coming to expect a mixture between Rocky, The Fighter, and Never Back Down. 2/3 are great films that I loved, while the other one was shitty. This one is sort of in between.

Writer/director Gavin O’Connor does a great job of taking a plot and structure we have seen done time and time again, and still make it something amazing to watch. The first hour sets the whole story up, showing these two characters, who at first don’t even seem like brothers but if you have seen the trailer (which everybody has) you know that they are, and just how they each are different in their own way. The film also doesn’t try to explain what happened to these characters and why before the story begins, it is either brought up later in the film casually like it would in real life, and is sort of left up to our imagination.

Another great thing about this script is that the character development is amazing. I really felt intrigued by these characters because each were so likable and charming in their own ways, and you could tell that these two really are believable characters that you could see doing this extreme and intense sport for two reasons: one likes to do it because he’s simply angry, the other does it for money. As the story builds up, up, and away the dialogue gets very heart-wrenching and believable and works when it’s trying to show the problems a family has when they all stop loving and start hating. Hey, it’s a gay line but after watching this flick, you’ll see what I mean.

The fight scenes are also pretty bangin’ because I was expecting them to be all that shaky-cam crap we see in just about every single film where there’s some sort of action or tension happening, but instead they are incredibly well-staged and I could actually tell what was going on too. Also, when you hear somebody get their face smashed in, it sounds like somebody getting their faced smashed in and who doesn’t just love that?!?

The only problem with the fighting is that you had Hardy’s character practically laying out other fighters the same way every time just about 4 times in a row, and it didn’t bother me until I realized that he was just a new fighter. I mean yeah, there are sometimes guys that come into the ring every once and awhile that just totally show everybody else up, even with barely any prior MMA experience, but just watching this dude tear through professionals like Joey Chestnut with hot dogs was a little too hard to believe.

I have still been contemplating about whether or not I actually still liked the ending, or thought it was too schmaltzy but I’ve decided to basically go either way on it. The reason I liked the ending was because I felt that it was true to the story and really had me feeling even more connected to these guys more than ever, and when the ending happened, I felt like it was a great way to turn this story off. However, I started thinking about it more and more and started to realize that a lot of it got really schmaltzy and very lovey dovery way too quick.

I’m all down for cliches and predictability if the film keeps me entertained, which is what this film was doing for the longest time, but when all of these people just started going out all-over-the-place practically telling each other they love each other, it seemed a little cheap just for a more heartfelt ending. Did it touch me? A little bit but with all of the right things the script was doing beforehand it was kind of a shame to sort of see it go for the extra schmaltzy notes that The Fighter did so well in avoiding.

However, this film would be nothing without it’s perfect cast. Tom Hardy is near-perfect in his total bad-ass role as Tommy Conlon, who if you have seen Bronson, looks the part and if you have seen Inception, definitely knows how to act the part as well. Hardy just seems so angry about something the whole film and it really adds an extra layer of that mystery to him that has us attracted to his character in the first place, and he is just so incredibly tough-looking that when it comes to the fighting, I just about feared for whatever poor soul was in the ring with him next.

Joel Edgerton is also great as the modest and a lot more nicer brother, Brendan, and proves that he can handle a lead role all to himself. I guess some people will see Hardy’s performance and just keep their minds on him the whole time, but when it comes right down to it, Edgerton knows how to add those extra levels of emotional depth to him as well that when his character needs more sympathy from the viewers, we’re able to give it to him since he seems so likable and just like your average everyday high-school teacher, that will beat the shit out of you, if you don’t do your homework.

Nick Nolte has been doing some of these crackly old-fart roles that honestly hasn’t done many things well for him lately ever since his beautiful mugshot, but I think he’s starting to win that amazing rep he once had in Hollywood, and his role as Padd, the boys’ father is the real reason why he’s back in action. Nolte is probably the most interesting and sad character of the bunch because he is now a washed-up alcoholic that has messed his life up so bad that he can’t seem to win back the one he once had with his kids and now suffers more and more. Nolte commands the screen just about every time he gets and I think this is probably one of his most brutally honest roles as of late, which makes it all the more tragic to watch.

Oh, also Kurt Angle is here as the MMA equivalent to Ivan Drago, Koba. Didn’t believe it for a second but me want to go back to watching some WWE.

Consensus: Warrior starts to lose itself a real long way by the end of the film, but has great writing, perfect performances from the whole cast, some fun action, and a story that has been done before, but with still hits with that emotional punch that it needed so much.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Hulk (2003)

He’s angry….and boring.

Researcher Dr. Bruce Banner’s (Eric Bana) failed experiments cause him to mutate into a powerful and savage green-skinned hulk when he loses control of his emotions. And the only person who seems to stand by him is his girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), proving that love is indeed blind. Nick Nolte co-stars as Banner’s father.

Director Ang Lee is a very strange director for this type of material. I mean this is the same dude that made Sense & Sensibility, The Ice Storm, and Brokeback Mountain so adding this to his list is strange but also disappointing.

I have to say that that Lee does do something new with the superhero film here and that is bring a lot more emotional depth to a film that would just seem like constant smashing everywhere. The film focuses a lot more on the actual characters, story, and happenings which is something new and actually cool for a superhero film because we never see that really and Lee somehow makes it interesting.

The problem with Lee’s ambition is that at a staggering time-limit of 138 minutes, a lot of this does feel kind of boring. Not much really does happen except for a lot of these people just talking about what’s going on and a little bit about the mysteries of their lives. The action does come every once in a blue moon but not enough for a film that is all about a big green dude who goes around and smashes things.

The script is also kind of lame because instead of actually trying to create any sense of real tension with this story, it just focuses on Banner and his father’s relationship, or how he still can’t remember what happened to his parents when he was young. The humor is gone within the first 10 minutes so therefore were stuck with just a bunch of serious people, doing their very own serious face and overall just being dull.

However, despite the problems with the script and story the constant visual fest of this film is what had me liking it more. Lee makes this film look like a comic book on the screen with the use of light colors, split-screen to portray about 3 different things happening at once, and The Hulk itself. I loved how the green just stood out amongst the area around him and when the action actually does happen it looks really cool and is actually exciting because even though Lee may not be able to keep this film exciting through its over two hour time limit, the action still provides some fun here.

The acting itself was pretty good and brought me into the film more as well. Eric Bana as Bruce Banner is good and plays that torn, all messed up dude that doesn’t know exactly who are where he came from very well even when he starts to get angry. Jennifer Connelly is practically doing the same exact “stand by your crazy scientist lover” performance that she won an Oscar for in A Beautiful Mind but that’s not so bad; Sam Elliot is a total dick with his snarling and teeth grinning performance that looks like he came right out of the comic book itself; Josh Lucas is a dick as well here as Glenn Talbot, but isn’t in this film as much; and Nick Nolte plays Banner’s father, David (Get it, David Banner) and looks like he just came right out of that disastrous mug-shot but is still pretty good with that craziness he always uses so well.

Consensus: Director Ang Lee strives for ambition here with some dramatic depth to the story, good performances from the cast, and a beautiful, comic-book look to the film, but overall there’s too much talking and most of it just feels plain boring with not enough cool action sequences which makes me question how didn’t Lee know why Lee tried to aim for a Greek tragedy?

5.5/10=Rental!

The Prince of Tides (1991)

Could Streisand really save your life?

A Southern schoolteacher, Nick Nolte travels to New York City and unloads a lifetime of horrific, repressed memories to a psychiatrist (Barbra Streisand) in order to help save his suicidal sister.

I think this is one of those movies where you’ll either love it, or you will absolutely hate it. But as for me, I was just in the middle of it all.

Seeing that this is directed by Barbra Streisand, your first idea would probably to run, and avoid this film at all costs. However, I was surprised by how she handles this material because it’s actually a good movie. I liked the emotional scenes that this film brought up about a broken childhood, and some of the more touching scenes are handled well. There were real issues in this film that were talked about and handled carefully, but well also. The look of this film was beautiful as well, some sights here will have you totally surprised that out of all people, Babs shot this.

The problem with this film was that I think it relied too much on the romance rather than the story behind it all. I wish there was more scenes pertaining to Nolte’s character’s childhood, because when they were talking about it, or showing scenes of it, I found myself totally attached to the screen as well as the story. Other moments, especially by the end, start to step into glossy soap opera romance that in ways is actually pretty cheesy. The cliches at the end made cringe by how incredibly obvious and cheesy the lines were, but it didn’t bother me as much. I think the reason I wasn’t so pissed off about how the film starts to kind of fall by the last act is because it is directed Barbra Streisand, and I wasn’t expecting something as good as this. It may not be perfect, but for Babs, it’s a damn masterpiece.

Nick Nolte probably gives one of his best performances of his career here, that actually won a Golden Globe over Anthony Hopkin’s famous work in Silence Of The Lambs. Nolte does a great job creating this lovable, goofy guy that has some shadows from the past, as everybody does, but how he goes about his days and time are just so perfect. Nolte makes us laugh, and he almost had me crying at one scene that really does show how good of an actor he really is. Poor guy, he just had to get that mug-shot didn’t he! Barbra Streisand is alright in this film as his lawyer, though I felt like she was trying a bit too hard in the second half of the film. I liked their romance, and I actually did believe it, which really did attribute to this film. There is also a very good supporting performance from Kate Nelligan, who plays Nolte’s mom and does a good job with the limited screen-time she is given. Also, the late, great George Carlin as Nolte’s New York neighbor, who happens to be gay. CLASSIC!

Consensus: The Prince of Tides may dive into some cornball material, and miss the mark as a romance drama, but it shows that Babs can direct a film well, with some emotionally true scenes, and good performances from the cast, especially Nolte.

7/10=Rental!!

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Its funny, even the 4th time around.

This combat film send-up from director-star Ben Stiller tracks a group of actors who are forced to become real-life soldiers when they’re abandoned in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The all-star cast includes Robert Downey Jr. (in an Oscar-nominated role), Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Nick Nolte, with an unrecognizable (and Golden Globe–nominated) Tom Cruise playing a crude movie mogul.

For the most part, I have seen this film about 4 times, and almost every time I laugh more. When I first saw this, I didn’t quite get the satire the film was using, however, knowing more and more about the movie biz I understood everything that this movie was saying.

The script I have to say is very well-written with some of the best satire in a long time. The jokes here are centered towards anybody, because the films finds its ways to make fun of anyone and everyone: blacks, whites, homosexuals, mentally-challenged, drug addicts, and of course celebrities. All of these jokes are in bad taste, but almost every single gag works. Some people don’t understand the jokes because its jokes are more Hollywood based, so it will go over some people’s heads, but once you understand the joke, their actually very funny and smart.

However, I will say that some of the jokes were pretty stupid, and it seems like they were trying their hardest to get a lot of really funny jokes out there, and it just looked like they were trying too hard. Don’t get me wrong they were funny, but sometimes, it seemed like it was just itching for the laughs.

The cast is the main reason why this film works. Each star gets credit, cause they take the bait, by letting themselves be made fun of. Ben Stiller is the typical down-grading action star, Jack Black is the drug-addicted, fat comedy man, Brandon T. Jackson is playing the rapper-turned-actor, who can’ stop drinking booty sweat, and Jay Baruchel, is…well….the guy who’s just there. Each character makes fun of someone, and its easy to see who, but others will just go over your head.

The two best worth mentioning are obviously the only two that were nominated for awards. Robert Downey Jr., sometimes didn’t make any sense when he talked, but he is hilarious when I did understand him. He has the greatest lines of the whole movie, and brings nothing other than his A game, and makes everything funny. Tom Cruise, is also funny as hell. He brings a lot of random funny as hell moments, with his random out-bursts, and spoof of real-life agents.

Consensus: Tropic Thunder sometimes tries too hard to bring laughs, with some easily offensive ones, but is other than that, a hilarious spoof, that is boosted even more by the great performances.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

48 Hrs. (1983)

Eddie Murphy’s big-screen debut makes me miss him even more.

Detective Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) is forced to do the unbearable in order to catch a pair of escaped cop killers: He temporarily paroles wisecracking hustler Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) into his custody. The dilemma: This odd couple has only 48 hours to solve the crime before Reggie has to go back to the slammer

This is one of the first films to bring out the buddy-cop genre film, and to be truly honest I don’t really like cop movies as much. They always seem to be too melodramatic for me, and this one wasn’t very different.

The film has so much yelling in it! I mean I think they were trying to get this film to be hilarious by just yelling stupid shit like “That’s my life, Jack”, or making racist comments to Murphy. I don’t know what the whole point of all this yelling was but one thing for certain is that it didn’t quite work just like the whole comedy element.

The jokes in this film weren’t that funny, and very out-dated. I felt like way too many times the film was just looking for these little wise crack jokes, so it would actually make it funny, when really it only had a couple of actually funny scenes.

The shoot outs and action is actually pretty good. I liked the fact that they didn’t shoot their gun about 5o times before they reloaded, it just made it seem a lot more realistic. Also, a lot of the action fast-paced and keeps you excited, I just wish the music wasn’t so damn corny.

The one saving point of this film is the chemistry between Murphy and Nolte. At first, they hate each other and can’t get a long one bit, but second by second they actually start to become good friends and you can tell by these performances. Murphy is very enterataining in this role though he is a lot more serious than usual, but his performance does bring out some highlights in this film.

Consensus: 48 Hrs. is a bit out-dated and not as funny as you would expect, but features some good action, with a pleasent chemistry from Nolte and Murphy.

5.5/10=Rental!!