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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Paul Thomas Anderson

Minority Report (2002)

“Don’t trust the police; trust Scientology.” – Tom Cruise, probably.

Set in a future where technology reigns supreme and decides just about each and every person’s decisions, the police force known as “the Pre-Crime Division” arrest people before they can commit murders based on the psychic intuition of three Precognatives. Or, for short, “Pre-cogs”. And lead cop, John Anderton (Tom Cruise), has been working alongside them for quite some time, wherein they trust them, he trusts them, and everything goes as smoothly as possible; murders are stopped, people are put in jail, lives are saved, and everybody goes home a lot happier! However, when looking through the pre-cogs’ memory-bases, Anderton sees a murder committed by none other than himself. Though Anderton doesn’t believe that he’d ever kill someone, no matter for what reason, it’s company policy to take any person in for questioning, no matter who the person is, or what the stipulations may be. But Anderton feels as if he’s being set up, and rather than letting himself get taken in, questioned, and possibly incarcerated for something he hasn’t done yet, let alone, doesn’t think he’ll ever commit, he decides to go on a run from the law. Along the way, he hopes to find out the truth behind the murder and whether or not he’s being set-up to begin with, but a personal disaster from his personal life comes back to bite him and it may not only cost him his innocence, but possibly his life.

Somehow, this seems to be left-over set-material from A.I.

Somehow, this seems to be left-over set-material from A.I.

There’s always two Steven Spielberg’s working in this world that, on occasion, seem to battle against one another. There’s the serious, dramatic director who makes emotional, sometimes stories that breathe-off huge levels of importance and show that there’s a true artist within the work (see Saving Private Ryan and/or Schindler’s List). Then, on the other hand, there’s the fun, free-wheeling dude who appreciates his blockbusters and succumbs more to the mainstream, without really caring who is happy with that decision, or who isn’t (see Jurassic Park and/or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). And while I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing that he plays both hands, it also calls into question just how hit-or-miss he can be; while the blockbusters he creates can be exciting and better than most others out there, they also sometimes make it seem like he’s sleeping on those fine talents of his we so rarely see put on full-display.

And then, there’s Minority Report, which seems more like a psychological battle inside of Spielberg’s head, rather than an actual, great movie.

If there’s credit that has to be given to Spielberg, it’s in the way that he allows for this dark, brooding future shine through in some neat, fancy ways. Because this is a Philip K. Dick adaptation, obviously there’s going to be a whole bunch of social-commentary about the government, the way in which they spy, as well as technology, and how it controls our each and every lives. But Spielberg doesn’t seem all that incredibly interested with focusing on that, and instead, seems incredibly taken away with all the sorts of strange, but original pieces of technology he can give us.

For a few examples, there’s weird-looking, electronic spiders that crawl around and search for people; there’s the high-velocity mag-lev cars, that are actually a lot easier to jump out of, despite the speed they appear to be going in; there’s the eye-scanners stationed nearly everywhere that not only keep track of where each and every person is at, but bother you with advertisements; and, as small as it may be, there’s cereal-boxes with electronic-screens that move and make noises. It’s such a small, little detail, but it’s the one that keeps on giving and assures me that Spielberg was just amped-up to make this movie, as some may be to watch it. That’s the Spielberg we all know, love, and wish we saw a whole lot more of.

And that’s the same kind of Spielberg we get for the longest time in Minority Report.

If Colin Farrell takes over your command, you know you're in some deep trouble.

If Colin Farrell takes over your command, you know you’re in some deep trouble.

Considering that half of this movie is literally just Tom Cruise running away from the police in a futuristic-world, it makes sense that the movie moves at a quick-as-nails pace and continue to do until there’s time needed for smaller, more character-based moments. And this part of Minority Report is enjoyable; everything moves in such a swift pace that even though there a few plot-holes to be found (like, how does someone get back into their job’s headquarters, when they’re literally on-the-run from those said people in the headquarters?), it’s easy to forget about and forgive them because everything’s so energetic as is. It’s almost like Spielberg cared so much about the look of the movie, that he didn’t get too bogged-down in certain plot-details; as long as everything’s moving nicely, all is well.

For awhile, too, everything is well. Until it isn’t.

The next-half of Minority Report is where it seems like Spielberg starts to fall back into his own trends of diving too hard into all of the family drama, twists and turns that don’t make much sense, and a sugar-coated, happy-ending that seem to come out of nowhere. And the reason why most of this stuff seems to come out of nowhere, is because a good majority of the movie is as bleak and as scary as you’d expect a Philip K. Dick adaptation to be – which isn’t something we expect from Spielberg himself. That’s what makes it all the more disappointing to see the final-act of the movie, not just grind to a screeching halt, but also seem to forget about what makes this world so damn interesting to begin with: It’s sadness and just how far Spielberg is willing and/or able to go through with developing that more and more.

Because through the likes of Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Neal McDonough, Peter Stormare, and, well, many more, we’re able to see how such human beings get by in a world that’s so upsetting and miserable, and still be somewhat happy. Once all of that begins to wear thin, it becomes clear that we’re out of a Philip K. Dick story, and more of in one that’s Spielberg’s own creation; where everybody hugs, cries, goes on about their daddy-issues, and all sorts of other sappiness ensues. Sometimes this is fine, but it feels misplaced here.

If only this had been directed by Ridley Scott, straight after he finished up with Blade Runner.

Consensus: For a good portion, Minority Report is as fun, ambitious, exciting, and artistically-driven as Spielberg can get, but later on, it goes back to his ham-handed old ways and feels like a bit of a retreat.

7.5 / 10

It's okay to trust Tom, Samantha. A lot of women have.

It’s okay to trust Tom, Samantha. A lot of women have.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

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Inherent Vice (2014)

Note to self: Don’t do insane-amounts of drugs while trying to solve crimes.

It’s 1970, and hippie private investigator Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) plans on living it up in every which way he can. That means an awful-lot of hangin’ out, smokin’ pot, and just enjoying his care-free life. That all changes though when an ex-love of his named Shasta (Katherine Waterson), comes around and informs him that her boyfriend, real estate mogul Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), was kidnapped and hasn’t been heard of since. Some say he’s dead, but Shasta doesn’t believe this and wants Doc to drop whatever it is he’s up to (which is seemingly nothing), and find out what has happened to him. Doc agrees, but as soon as he gets started on the case, many other cases start falling into his lap. For instance, an ex-junkie (Jena Malone) is worried that her rocker-boyfriend (Owen Wilson) isn’t in fact dead, as previously reported, and has been kidnapped. Then, a local gangster (Michael K. Williams) asks Doc to delve deep into a possible union between real estate agencies and the Aryan Brotherhood. And there’s many more where that came from, and no matter how far Doc may get into solving these mysteries, Det. Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) is always there to stop him, get involved, and see that the cases are done in an efficient, legal way.

"Is your refrigerator running...?"

“Is your refrigerator running…?”

If you haven’t been able to tell by now, there’s a lot going on in Inherent Vice, and not all of it makes sense. At first, it definitely seems so, but once starts off as a simple, ordinary mystery about a disappearance, soon spirals into being about so much more. Some of it’s good, some of it isn’t. But because this is a Paul Thomas Anderson (one of my favorites currently working today) movie, it’s mostly all worth watching.

Mostly.

But, like I said before, because this is a PT Anderson flick, there’s a certain mood surrounding Inherent Vice that makes it seem like the kind of movie he hasn’t ever tried his talented-hands at before. Though some may get a glimpse at this and automatically assume that PT is going straight back to his Boogie Nights days, those same people will probably be utterly disappointed when they find out that this is not at all the case. Sure, the movie may sometimes sound and look like that hip and happenin’ film, but for the most part, Anderson’s tone is a lot different here than usual, and it brings a large amount of sadness and, dare I say it, depression to what could have been considered some very groovy times.

And it’s not that Anderson hasn’t made a sad movie before, it’s just that he hasn’t quite made one in this vein; while it’s a colorful and bright movie, there’s a grainy undercurrent felt in it that makes some of the funniest, wildest moments, seem like they’re coming from somewhere of a nightmare. An enjoyable nightmare, but a nightmare nonetheless. To be honest, too, I think Anderson prefers it this way.

To say that Inherent Vice is “confusing”, would be as conventional as I could get as a writer – not only has it been said many of times from many other writers, but it wouldn’t really do much justice at all to a film that I feel like is confusing, but can still be enjoyed despite this. See, whereas the Master was a confusing, sometimes out-of-this-world film about Scientology, it was also a character-study that functioned as such. Here, with Inherent Vice, we have a confusing, sometimes out-of-this-world film about a few mysterious cases, yet, it’s also a hilarious look at this strange, underground world in California. This is a world where not only does everybody do some sort of drugs, but that they also have plenty of secrets, which, if you wanted to dig deep enough, could actually find out are all connected in their own sick, twisted ways.

However, simply put, this is just me diving deep into what this movie may, or may not mean, and as a result, making myself sound like a pretentious-ass. Because, in reality, the real enjoyment behind Inherent Vice is that it goes from one bizarre-o situation, to another, and it’s hardly ever dull. Random? Sure, but boring? That word doesn’t exist in PT Anderson’s dictionary and it makes this movie one of the funnier pieces of comedy I saw all year. That’s not to say that it’s all meant to be hilarious, but sometimes, just watching a crazy situation, with zany characters involved, get even crazier, just adds so much joy and happiness that it’s hard to hate on.

Old school vs. new school. I got my money on the dude with the Navy-buzz.

Old school vs. new school. I got my money on the dude with the Navy-buzz.

Even if it doesn’t all add up to making total, complete and perfect sense, it’s still enjoyable and that’s where I think most of Inherent Vice works.

To go on about all this and not at least mention the cast would be an absolute crime, because everybody who shows up here, no matter for how long or little, all leave a lasting-impression that deserve to be mentioned, and remembered. Leading the wild race here as Doc Sportello is Joaquin Phoenix, and once again, he proves that he will never play the same role twice, nor ever lose that interest-factor surrounding him whenever he shows up in something. Phoenix fits right in as the “come on, man”-type of hippie that Sportello is and it makes it easy to root him on during this case, even if you never are too sure what’s going to happen to him next. He’s not necessarily a blank slate, as much as he’s just a simple, uncomplicated protagonist that makes it easy for us to identify with him, even while he makes some brash, weird decisions throughout the adventure we share with him.

While Phoenix may be our main point-of-reference here, he’s not the only one worth speaking of. Owen Wilson finally gets a lovely role for himself to dig deep into as Coy, the missing rocker-boyfriend, and mixes in well with the rest of the hippies surrounding him; Jena Malone is sympathetic his sad girlfriend who just wants him home, so she can live happily ever after with him and their kid; Katherine Weston plays Sportello’s ex-flame that has this fiery, yet understated mystery about her and the way she carries herself in certain scenes that she started to cast as much of a spell on me, as she had on Sportello here; Benicio del Toro is fun as Sprotello’s zany lawyer who always has the best ways to get him out of jail; Reese Witherspoon is smart and sassy as Penny (Reese Witherspoon), Sportello’s attorney girlfriend who may be just using him so that she can give the FBI what they want; Maya Rudolph has a nice-bit as one of Sportello’s nurse-secretaries and seems like she’s winking at the audience just about every second she gets; and Martin Short, with maybe nearly five minutes of screen-time, is way more hilarious than probably the whole entire season of Mulaney has been.

None, however, I repeat, NONE, measure up to the types of greatness that Josh Brolin brings to this movie as Bigfoot Bjornsen, Sportello’s mortal enemy/confidante.

See, what’s so lovely about Brolin here is the way in how Bigfoot is written: He’s rough, tough, gruff and a mean son-of-a-bitch who clearly doesn’t care for the likes of Sportello, or the fellow pot-smoking, lazy hippies that he associates himself with. Therefore, he and Sportello have a bit of a rivalry, where one may get a certain piece of info and get ahead of the other, in whatever case they’re covering. It’s fun to watch these constantly try and one-up one another, but most of this is because Brolin is so dynamite in this role, that he nearly steals the whole movie from everybody else. Every scene Brolin’s in, whether he’s deep-throating a chocolate-covered frozen banana, ordering more pancakes in a foreign language, or getting ordered by his wife to have sex with her, he’s an absolute blast to watch. You can never take your eyes off of him, and he’s happy with this; for once, in what in seems like a long time, Brolin looks as if he’s having a good time with the material he’s working with. But the difference here is that he commands your attention every time he shows up, making you think about whether or not this character is actually a good guy, or simply put, just a guy, with a hard job, who just wants to solve his cases.

A nice little Johnny and June reunion.

A nice little Johnny and June reunion.

It’s as simple as that, but Brolin makes it so much more.

But, I’ve just realized that most of what I’m writing about here, may only add to more of the confusion within Inherent Vice and for that, I apologize. It surely is not my intentions, as I clearly want each and every person to see this, even if they aren’t expecting to love it, or even understand it quite nearly as well as they may have been able to do with Anderson’s flicks in the past. And honestly, I don’t even know if Anderson totally wants people to make perfect sense of this movie and how all of the small, meandering threads of its plot-line tie-in together, but he doesn’t ever lose his confidence in trying his damn-near hardest. Even if it doesn’t always work, it’s admirable that he would try in the first place and I think that’s what matters most here.

Sure, making damn sure that your plot, the twists it has, and the characters who weave in and out of it, all make perfect sense as to why they even exist first and foremost definitely matters, but when you have a movie that constantly goes from one scene, to the next, without ever missing a beat of being interesting, then all is forgiven. Maybe you could say I’m giving Anderson too much credit here, and I would probably say “you’re right”, but for some reason, I can’t help but praise this guy anymore than he already has been. Especially here, because it seems like plenty has been said about this movie, without ever getting to the core: It’s entertaining.

While not “entertaining” in the sense that it is constantly exciting with numerous amounts of gunshots, explosions, and car-chases (although some do happen here); more so, it’s in the case that we’re given a simple plot, with some simple characters, and to see it spiral out into absolutely bonkers area’s is what makes it such a blast to watch. One can definitely take this as a serious piece of pulp crime-fiction that’s supposed to make perfect sense, every time that it offers a new plot-thread, but another one can definitely takes this as a serious piece of film-making that, if you want to, you just take for what it is, see what happens next, and just enjoy the ride. I know that it’s hard for me to recommend a movie based solely on that, and not lose some sort of credibility, but I don’t care right now. I feel about as safe and comfortable as I can with recommending this movie for anybody, so long so as they just let it start, go on, and end, exactly as it is. The deep and heavy-thinking can come later, but while it’s on the screen, just let it go and see how you feel.

If you still hate it, then so be it. At least I tried.

Consensus: Maybe not the most comprehensive piece of his career, Paul Thomas Anderson still works his rear-end off to make Inherent Vice one of the crazier experiences at the movies this holiday season, but also allows for it to constantly stay compelling, funny, and most of all, entertaining. Even if all the numbers don’t add up.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Sort of like the Last Supper. Except presumably with more hash.

Sort of like the actual Last Supper. Except presumably with more hash.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Master (2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/10=Full Price!!

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Billy Madison finally grew up, and got really, really awkward.

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), who owns a failing company, becomes obsessed with collecting pudding coupons that offer frequent flyer miles. When he learns that a woman (Emily Watson) he met by chance and can’t stop thinking about has left for vacation in Hawaii, he uses his coupons to buy a trip and find her.

Everybody who has ever seen any of P.T. Anderson‘s flicks know two things about him: 1. he likes his films very, very long, and 2. he can make anything work. Even though he kind of disregards #1, he gets #2 down perfectly.

I have probably seen this flick about 4 times and just about every time it gets better and better with each viewing. So many people complain about how it’s not as funny as it should be and how it’s just a weird movie, which it’s supposed to be…maybe. Anderson is a director amongst directors. He essentially takes a very odd story, about an odd man, and brings it into some pretty strange places that include a phone-sex operator, frequent flyer miles, pudding, a piano, and a bed & mattress owner. Yeah, if that sounds pretty strange don’t worry, because it is and I wouldn’t have had it any other way with this one. Anderson knows that this film is goofy but he never lets loose of his direction and as much as he allows all of this weird stuff to happen, he still gives a lot of time to this romance at the core of it all and that’s what really brought me over.

The romance is so sweet and innocence that when you have all of this crazy ish, with people yelling and cussin’ at each other, it sort of makes you want to beat everybody else up that tries to get in the way of it. You can definitely feel a lot of love coming from this little thing these two have going on here but there are so many other emotions going on through here as well, that it’s almost too hard to be fixated on one. People that say this film isn’t funny really need to see this flick again because it’s all of the small, subtle things are what makes it funny. The perfect example is when one of Barry’s employees ask him why he’s wearing a suit to work, and Barry tells him, “I don’t know, I just wanted to get dressed up for work”. Makes no sense, but who cares. However, the next day Barry is at work, you see that same employee wearing a suit with a tie and it just made me laugh my ass off. Maybe that’s not a perfect example as to how and why this flick is so damn funny in it’s little way, but it’s certain things like that for you to pick up on that make movies like this so damn special.

As great as this story may be though, you still can’t forget about this flick without forgetting to mention Anderson’s incredible vision, that makes everything just look like it came from a painting. Seriously, I know a lot of people say that about certain movies in certain reviews, but I mean that here: sometimes this film looks like a painting. There’s a lot of wonderful color art sequences that come around every once and awhile that are astonishing to check out, but the way Anderson gives the camera this very dark look gives this film a distinct look that I haven’t seen before. I really can’t put my fingers on what it is but the way this camera looks with a hint of darkness to bring down all of the color, gives this film a tone. I think I’m just speaking a whole bunch of jibber-jabber, but it’s a beautiful film the whole time, especially a couple of great romantic sequences that get you right into the feeling that you’re in love with these two people as well.

If I had any c0mplaints here, it was that I think that Barry’s sisters were a little too mean for me to believe. I understand that there are sisters and brothers of certain people out there that are very mean but I also can’t understand some relatives like these ones, treating another relative in such a terrible, and bratty way, especially when they know that the person has some emotional problems. It seemed like a lot of it was to go along with the ridiculous plot but it just felt like it was trying way too hard to get me inside of Barry’s head and feel the pain he feels because in all honesty, the character of Barry Egan is an amazing one as it is.

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again: Barry Egan is Adam Sandler‘s best performance ever. There! I said it people! Sandler pulls out everything within him to make this character work and it’s the one performance that’s made us all realize that this guy can do drama, and make some of the weirdest characters work, no matter how painfully awkward they are. Barry Egan is such a strong character as it is because the dude is a nice, but lonely dude who just wants to be appreciated and treated nicely by the people around him. However, his sisters are all terrible bitches to him, he can’t seem to get a date with any girl, and he’s getting effed over by these phone-sex line people that just want all of his money. This guy has a lot of sympathy already going for him but Sandler takes him up a couple of notches. Sandler shows us a very subtle side to his acting but also shows that he can still make you still crack up, even if he isn’t doing any goofy faces or noises. Instead, the guy just relies on his very dry and awkward sense of comedy that shows a character that really can’t fit it anywhere he goes and you just can’t stop rooting for him the whole flick. It also gets better when Egan starts to show signs of a real bad-ass but I’ll leave it at that, because it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed. I don’t know if this last paragraph does Sandler’s performance any justice but all I can say is that it’s a memorable performance and the best Sandler has, and maybe will ever do.

Emily Watson wasn’t really given all that much to do here as Lena Leonard, but she pulls off being cute, charming, nice, sweet, and convincing very well and it’s easy to see why she would fall in love with such a wacko like Barry Egan. Let me also not forget to mention that the chemistry her and Sandler have is actually pretty good, if you can believe that. I also can’t forget to mention this flick without talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of the dickheads that eff with Egan from the phone-sex line and a lot of his scenes are just perfect, especially by the end. Oh and Luiz Guzman is here. Can’t forget about him.

Consensus: Though it’s not for everyone, Punch-Drunk Love is one of the best romantic films of all-time with a strange story that gets stranger and stranger as it goes along, a vision from Anderson that shows he can make any style of film-making work with any story, and a couple of great performances from the cast, especially Adam Sandler who has never been better. Ever.

9/10=Full Price!!

There Will Be Blood (2007)

The whole point behind this whole film: drinking milkshakes.

This tells the story of an oilman, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), who goes into a small town to drill for oil. But, a local preacher, Eli (Paul Dano), tries to get a piece of his profits to expand his church, and Daniel doesn’t like that one bit and that’s what causes a whole bunch of problems between the two characters.

With The Master coming up closer and closer by the seconds that pass us by, I thought it would be a great idea to check-up on how P.T. Anderson‘s last flick still does after it shook up the whole, wide world 5 years ago. Needless to say, it still kicks some oil-loving ass.

The most notable element that stands behind Anderson and his skills as a director is how he is able to make anything look very beautiful, but also very dark and Gothic in it’s own weird way. The cinematography for this flick is beautiful as we get to see a lot of the long, wide landscapes that always find themselves, hidden somewhere in the background and give you a better idea that you are in fact watching a story that’s taking place during the early days of the “oil boom”. There’s a lot to gaze at here and there are plenty of memorable shots where Anderson just keeps the camera on one piece of action and never seems to move and it creates more and more tension as it goes along. But as beautiful as this film may be, there’s also plenty of darkness in it as well, mainly coming from the story.

One of the key elements behind this story that makes it work is just how progressively dark and strange things begin to get for everybody in this story. There is never a single moment in this flick where you feel like anything good is going to happen to these characters, which does make this seem like a bit of a downer in hindsight, but for some reason you never stop watching. Scene after scene is just as memorable as the last one as Anderson has a knack for making even the slightest bit of dialogue show just who a character really is and what their real motivations are underneath it all. It’s strange that a guy like this can do something so dark and depressing as this, but still have the chance to turn out a zany, wacky rom-com like Punch-Drunk Love, a flick that he did 5 years before this one but it also shows just how versatile of a writer/director this guy can be.

But without even going any further about this flick, I have to say that this also features one of the most epic and bizarre scores that I have ever heard before in my life. You would never, ever think that the words “Daniel Day-Lewis”, “Western”, and “Radiohead” would go in the same sentence, but somehow, someway, Anderson found a way to get them altogether and it makes a perfect match that seemed very weird to have in the first place. Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead, did this score all by himself and it’s very well-calculated in the ways that he makes certain types of noises fit in so well with whatever is going on on-screen. There’s always a great deal of tension and darkness in this film, and Greenwood’s score conveys that with a weird collision of strings and percussion that just add more to the dark and manic tone of the whole flick. One scene in particular, is when Plainview runs after a well of his that just burst and without any music whatsoever, it would have still been tense the whole way through, but not as tense with the power-heavy beat coming from Greenwood that continues to build and build-up until almost all hell breaks loose. It’s one of those rare scenes where everything just comes together so perfectly into one film and it’s one that should probably be played up to the highest level of volume you can get on your television.

Despite almost everything in this film coming together and gelling so perfectly, there was one problem with this flick that always seemed to get me even when I was going for the whole 10/10 aspect. The story is all about Plainview and how his whole descent into darkness makes him more evil and insane as the days go by but in my opinion, I never understood exactly as to why. We get that the guy doesn’t like people, doesn’t see the good in them, and just wants money so he can get as far away from them as he can, but why? Was there ever a moment in his life when the guy realized that his life was going to be surrounded by people that he hates or was he always just like this and the huge amounts of money he’s been raking in just made him feel it even worse now? I don’t know what it was and quite frankly, I don’t think P.T. did either. I think that this was just a character study about a guy that hated human-beings for no reason, and that was my problem with this flick: I needed the reason. Yeah, that’s right, this film would have been a 10/10 had it not been for this one, itty, bitty problem in the story.

But aside from this strange character foil, you can’t help but walk away satisfied after seeing one of the greatest performances in the past decade, given by one of the best off all-time: Daniel Day-Lewis. Daniel Day has been known to be very selective with his roles, very weird with him about the limits he goes to with staying in method and in character, and to always walk away with an Oscar nomination or Oscar win. All of which is exactly what you get here with his performance as Daniel Plainview as I think it is probably the best he has ever given just by how much he puts into this role. Granted, this character already had a lot to work with when it came to the whole script, but Daniel Day takes that character one-step further in his own way. This guy is one evil son of a bitch that I don’t think does a single nice thing throughout the whole movie (I seriously don’t) but you can never, ever take your eyes off of him just because every scene of Plainview, is just another scene where Daniel Day does something different.

What I mean by something different is that there are these types of facial expressions that he has just to give his character a real feeling that is unlike you have ever seen in this character the whole flick. Essentially, this character could be written off as the usual, one-note, evil asshole that nobody cares to be around but there’s something more behind it all and Daniel Day keeps us watching and waiting for that throughout the whole film. If my whole description about this guy’s performance hasn’t already sold you yet on this perfect performance, than please, stop reading and go out there and watch this freakin’ movie and pay attention to every little thing that Daniel Day does with this character. To the weird limp, to the Jack Palance impersonation, to the open-handed slaps, to the evil looks he gives Eli, and to everything else he ever does in this movie, he does it with the utter grace and perfection that should always be shown off, especially when you’re working with a character such as this. Totally deserved that Oscar win.

Although this is Daniel Day’s show, through and through, Paul Dano doesn’t allow himself to get kicked out of the whole film. In fact, Dano has just as many intense and memorable scenes as Daniel Day, it’s just that every single one is with Daniel Day and it creates some of the best back-and-forth scenes I have seen in a long-ass time. Dano nails the whole crazy aspect that lies behind those certain preachers out there in the West, but he never necessarily over-does it and that’s what really surprised me about this character. Him and Daniel Day work perfectly together as you can tell that right from the start, they never really see eye-to-eye on anything and it’s only a matter of time until one of them finally has enough of it all and decides to break loose. That’s what ultimately leads up to one of the most abrupt, yet satisfying endings that I have seen in the past decade, and is definitely one to stick around for no matter how much the flick’s slow-pace may be pissing you off.

Consensus: There Will Be Blood may not make much sense of it’s story at the end, but will still keep you watching the screen the whole time with it’s out-standing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis (one of his best of all-time, if you can believe that), a strange score from Johnny Greenwood that actually goes along with the subject material very well, and a superb direction from Anderson that captures all of the beauty, and all of the horror that comes along with fame, money, and well, oil.

9/10=Full Price!! 

The Cooler (2003)

Vegas: women, money, and Alec Baldwin.

Hey, hey, hey, hey everyone! Well, it’s been awhile since I have been around their parks lately but finally Boomtron has taken me back and put up a review of mine. So just go on over to the link and check it out.

http://www.boomtron.com/2011/10/the-cooler-movie-review/

Thanks everybody! Don’t forget to show me some love over there too!

Magnolia (1999)

3 hours and 8 minutes that I was fully glued on to.

Through chance, human action, past history and divine intervention, an eclectic cast of characters (including Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and more) weaves and warps through each other’s lives on a random San Fernando Valley day, building to an unforgettable climax.

This is that one film that almost every critic loves, either because everybody loves the director, or just loves it because it is awesome. I cannot agree anymore with both reasons.

PT Anderson is an amazing director and can almost do no wrong. Here, he takes a page out of Robert Altman‘s book and takes all these stories, with a long running time, and makes each and every one interesting as anything. You would think with all these characters and stories, that you would get lost in between them all, but somehow Anderson creates tension and space within these stories so it’s all easy to follow along with. I still don’t know how Anderson got all of these stories to be so interesting but the dedication he gives to every story, ultimately keeps our minds on every single one.

The script is what really kept me involved because it must have been really hard to actually have all of this mean something in the end, and Anderson does that so well. There’s a lot of themes and points about happiness, forgiveness, and the overall meaning of life. Sometimes the feelings and emotion we have kept all up in inside, need to be let out, and in order for us to be happy we need to let these emotions be free and gain a better understanding of ourselves and the others around us. I loved what PT Anderson does with this script, because he makes it seem like everything is going to play out in the end through chance, but instead he totally pulls the rug out from underneath us and gives us something new and inventive that really works. Each and every story is filled with great dialogue that shows some funny as well as brutally emotional scenes, that will have you understand, that their are people out there like this, and that we all have problems and need love.

Also, when it comes to soundtracking emotional score music, whoever thought that Aimee Mann would be such a good choice? She brings so much to the table here, and actually brings out one of the most memorable scenes of the whole entire film.

A lot of people will talk about how the events that happen in this film are absurd, but I liked that part about it. However, my main problem with this film is that there are too many biblical references and ideas here that just seem to sort of take away from the story as a whole. Lines are actually said that reference the bible, and faith explanations, and this all seemed a little hoaky for me and just showed that maybe PT Anderson really did try too hard to get this film to be about something more than what it really was all about.

This is probably one of the best ensemble casts of all-time, because each and everyone adds so much more to their own story that it’s spell-binding. John C. Reilly is endearing as well as lovable as the nerdy cop Officer Jim Kurring, who brings so much likability to this role, that by the end of the film when you start to see where his character is going, you can’t help but love him. Melora Walters plays the girl he ends up going after, Rose Gator, who has some huge emotional problems but not once did I feel like Dillon was over-acting at all. William H. Macy’s story as Donnie Smith may not have been as interesting, but Macy brings out so much within this character that I couldn’t help but stayed glued to it. Philip Baker Hall is amazing as game show host Jimmy Gator, and gives it his all almost every single scene and just had me attached to his story every time it was on screen. Jason Robards in his last role ever as Earl Partridge, gives one of the perfect good-byes to cinema ever, and gives us more insight into this guy’s life through this whole film, even though he is just in his bed the whole entire film. Philip Seymour Hoffman is always amazing in what he does, and his performance as Phil is no different although he brings so much more to his character than you would expect. Somehow this guy makes crying all the time, really good. Jeremy Blackman gives an amazing youngling performance as the real heart of this film, Stanley, and it’s such a shame that he doesn’t do much anymore, because he does an amazing job here and gives me my most memorable character of the whole film. Julianne Moore plays crazy bitch Linda Partridge so well that I actually did start to believe that any second this chick would just snap and kill anybody who said the next wrong thing to her.

However, the best performance of this whole cast had to be that crazy, scientologist freak that is Tom Cruise. Cruise was perfectly cast as Frank Mackey, because the guy is such an asshole, and so cocky that it works well with Cruise’s own public image, but it also got to show that Cruise really can give off a performance even if he is self-parodying himself. Almost every single chance this guy gets, he absolutely demands your attention and you can help but give it to him, especially when his character’s true emotions come out, and then you see Cruise for what he is. An amazingly dedicated actor. This is one of Cruise’s best performances and that one perfect casting job, that shows a celebrity as more than just a pretty face on the cover of People magazine.

Consensus: Magnolia may suffer from being too pretentious, but Anderson does a creative and original job with his script and direction that it almost takes our minds away from the pitch-perfect performances here given by the amazing ensemble.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Boogie Nights (1997)

A job that I could make millions in, if I really wanted to. Yeah, it’s that huge.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic about the adult film industry stars Mark Wahlberg as a nightclub busboy who transforms himself into porn king Dirk Diggler and ultimately becomes intoxicated by success, cocaine and lofty aspirations. Set in the 1970s, the film features Oscar-nominated supporting performances by Burt Reynolds as skin-flick auteur Jack Horner and Julianne Moore as a veteran porn icon with maternal instincts.

When it comes to PT Anderson, he can take a normal script, and put it places you weren’t expecting. The screenplay is just pitch-perfect. There is a lot of dark comedy in the beginning, probably cause the whole idea of making these 70’s style porno films is pretty laughable, but by the end it dives into some deep, deep, dramatic areas that I wasn’t quite expecting. The story moves along at a narrow pace, and doesn’t lose you as Anderson is constantly going from one character to another. And that’s probably my favorite thing about this film, is that yeah, it’s a story about Dirk Diggler, but there’s also plenty of other stories to go along with it, and add on to the film.

The only problem with this film is that it never delves into anything more than a just a film about the porno industry, and “stardom”. I didn’t see what the message behind all this was, and although Anderson wasn’t down-grading porn, he wasn’t saying how great it was either. So I was confused on what the central message was behind this whole film, and I think it could have used one if went into deeper territory.

PT Anderson the director is even better, because not only does he do a great job at showing all these other different characters, but he follows them in such good pace, like your literally behind these people, and your there. And you feel like your there, because of the constant lively music (which I loved, get that soundtrack now), vibrant colors all over the place, and an overall feeling of a constant party. There is also some tense, well-played out scenes by the end, that just get inside of you, as their going on.

I have to give the most praise to the casting in this film, because everybody fits their own character so well. Mark Wahlberg gives his break-out performance here, and is just perfect and fits Dirk Diggler so well. he’s still a boy that was taken into a very adult world early, and you believe him when he has these problems, with his emotions, rage, and trying to become a star. Burt Reynolds give his best performance ever as Porn director Jack Horner, he’s calm, cool, and overall relaxed. He’s just a pretty chill guy, and I ‘d feel pretty comfortable getting busy in front of him. Julianne Moore is good here too, as basically the mom who can’t love herself, but can love everybody else. Her performance is just tragic and you feel so bad for her. John C. Reilly is in here too, and is as easily as likable, him and Wahlberg create this great buddy-buddy chemistry, that plays throughout the whole film, and has you still liking both even when they become total deuches at times. Philip Seymour Hoffman has another tragic performance as the man that becomes infatuated with Diggler, and can not just understand what love really is. Other people in this film are Don Cheadle, Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina, William H. Macy, the always funny Luis Guzman. The cast is perfect, and you can tell that Anderson really does have a lot of love for these people and how they react to life.

Consensus: Though it never goes deep enough, Boogie Nights is a great ride from PT Anderson, complete with a pitch-perfect cast, inspired script and direction, and just the overall feel of your actually there.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Hard Eight (1997)

PT taking a page out of Tarantino’s book.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film charts the relationship between reckless youth John (John C. Reilly) and world-weary card shark Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), who takes John under his wing after showing him how to exploit the casinos’ perks. Years later, the surrogate father and son are successful gamblers until John falls for a cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and gets mixed up with a shady stranger (Samuel L. Jackson).

The film looks like as if its going to be your usual gambling drama film, but then suddenly switches into the mode of suspense thriller, which totally took me by suprise.

The one extraordinary  thing that this film does is that it does focus so much on the thrilling aspect but on the characters at hand. PT Anderson gives us these interesting and compelling characters who from the get-go we know nothing about, but want to know so much more as the film goes on.

PT Anderson really does show off some of his best work here, as he uses the camera to make so many things work. For example, he uses the camera to move with the same action as somebody handing another person a paper, instead of just the usual thing in big-time Hollywood, and blowing it up. Also, there is a lot of very good writing here as it seems all so realistic as it goes along with the scene.

The problem with this film is that its pacing in the middle is a little off. The beginning is energetic and entertaining, but in the middle the film starts to drag. The ending I had a lot of problems with, one because it ends with this random bolt of violence that we don’t see once throughout the whole film until then, and two because it just seems like the big twist at the end was a little tacked on. I will say it did throw me off a bit, but it didn’t feel right in this story and just added on to put in more shocking things to happen.

Baker Hall is just without a doubt so mesmerizing in this role, and I’m just so surprised to see how some performance of this nature, and of this talent couldn’t land him any more big roles. Samuel L. is basically as crazy as usual but I would have liked to see more from his character until he just randomly starts more combustion near the end of the film.

Consensus: Hard Eight is an impressive debut from PT Anderson, with great performances, catchy writing, and a wonderful character study, but misses the mark with its pacing, and its random use of its ending.

7.5/10=Rental!!!