Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Pedro Almodóvar

The Paperboy (2012)

Would have been better, had it been based on the Nintendo games.

Ward, a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother, a college drop-out named Jack (Zac Efron) investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row, named Hillary (John Cusack). However, the only reason they are doing so is because the gal that wants Hillary out, a sexxed-up, piece of work named Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), just so happens to be the apple of Jack’s eyes.

I’ve been hearing a lot of crazy shit about this film and to be honest: it’s all deserved. Everybody knows Lee Daniels because he pulled-off Precious about 4 years ago and it showed him as the type of director that can get a story, no matter how gritty or despicable, and be able to make it in the least-bit inspirational for people. However, it wasn’t his first rodeo, as that honor (and I guess, dishonor) goes to a little, fucked-up movie called Shadowboxer. If you’ve never heard of it, please, don’t go watch it because it’s just an insane piece of work to watch and it will have you question whether or not you’ve just watched two films, from the same director. And if you have heard or have actually seen it, then buckle up, because that exactly the same type of crazy shit you’re going to get here.

As much as Daniels’ debut may have blew huge gonads, this flick is actually more controlled than that one and that’s probably because it’s just wild, without making any excuses for being so. There’s definitely that type of grungy, exploitative look and feel to the movie that has you feel as if you are in the dirty South, around the 60’s when racial-issues were up to the forefront and everybody was just sweating their asses off. If anything Daniels does do right in this flick, it’s at least nail the look and feel of the period that he has it placed-in, but everything else, well, it is sort of all-over-the-place.

Being “all-over-the-place” isn’t really all that much of bad thing if you can do it, and get away with it. The problem isn’t that Daniels can’t do it, because he sure as hell makes sure that everybody knows he can in every, damn second of this movie, but it’s more that he can’t get away with it. He can show two people making each other cum without ever touching one another and just simulating dirty things to one another, but it sticks out like a sore-thumb to everything else, and he can’t get away with it; he can show a girl peeing on a guy because he got stung by a bunch of jelly-fish, but it’s just odd and seems like it was only done for shock-factor, and he also can’t get away with it; and lastly, he can try and bring some issues up about the whole Civil Rights-movement, but when you compare it to the last sequences I just mentioned, it seems uneven, and once again, he can’t get away with it. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar (who apparently wanted to take this material at one time), or even Robert Rodriguez  for that matter, could take this material, do whatever the hell they wanted to with it, and at least make all of the crazy shit and melodramatic stuff gel well enough together, that you almost don’t notice it, but Daniels isn’t one of those directors. He’s just a regular-director that seems like he’s trying his damn near hardest to have us all forget about the over-weight girl story he pulled-off 4 years ago, and try to distract us with insane amounts of sex, whether it actually happen on-screen or just be insinuated. Either way, there’s a bunch of sex that seems to come out nowhere at times.

Look what you've been missing out on, Tom!

Look what you’ve been missing out on, Tom!

Is all of this wackiness and cookiness fun? In a way, yes it is and honestly, as much as I may be ragging on the film right here, I am more or less just hating on Daniels. Not to say that the guy doesn’t know how to make a story move, because he definitely does, but it focuses way too much on the personal lives of these characters and not in an exciting or electric way either, it’s just a boring, way-too-dramatic way that comes off as trying too hard. We never really care for these characters, the case they continue to push to the side, or what their relationships are with each other and how that affects one another, and I guess that was the point. Daniels is just giving us a bunch of dirty people that we can either care to like or not. Whether or not we actually do, doesn’t matter, because as long as Daniels is just allowing us to see how insane he can be, then he’s the one with the real joy in the end. That kind of ticks me off now that I think about it, because there was definitely a crap-ton of promise with this flick and premise, it’s just a shame that it had to fall so far from ever achieving that said promise.

The only promise that this flick ever does hit head-on, is the ensemble cast and what they are able to do with each of their roles, no matter how wacky or unbelievable they may be. Zac Efron is the sort-of voice of reason throughout this whole flick and is definitely growing-up right in front of our own eyes, but if you think about it, it is sort of a dull role for the guy but nowhere near as dull as the role Robert Pattinson had in Cosmopolis. Still, Efron makes this character work and his performance shows-off a kid that definitely wants to be treated like an adult, yet, still has the tendencies of a kid that just doesn’t yet know what to do with his life or who to spend the rest of it with. Sort of how Efron is now, just without being peed-on. Then again, I still have no idea what him and Vanessa Hudgens did in their spare-time.

Playing his big bro, Matthew McConaughey is good as the slick and sly reporter that can not only charm his way into getting whatever the hell he wants, but also has a bit of problems brewing underneath that he’s pretty good at hiding. This is a nice role for McConaughey and it’s one that he can practically play while sleeping, but after a year where tore the roof down as force to be reckoned with in flicks like Killer Joe and Magic Mike, this one definitely ranks the lowest-of-the-low for him. Not to say it’s bad, but it’s not to say that it’s anything special, either. John Cusack is playing really, really against-type here as the psychotic and nutty Hillary, and shows that Cusack can probably do more than any of us ever expected from him. He’s strange, he’s weird, but he’s also very sinister and I like how Cusack totally just swan-dived right into the role, totally leaving all shades and memories behind of Peter Gabriel tapes in his pathway. Not to say that this is a special performance that makes us think of Cusack in a different way now, but it’s definitely a role that shows the guy can do more than just be that old dude from the 80’s we all remember relating to when our dates walked-out on us at prom. Yeah, that he is no more.

Better get used to that look, because that's all you're going to see him look half of the damn movie!

Better get used to that look, because that’s all you’re going to see him look half of the damn movie!

The one who really steals the spotlight from the rest of these dudes is Nicole Kidman, as the starlet fire fox, Charlotte. Kidman hasn’t been this sexy or bad-ass since the days of Eyes Wide Shut and To Die For, but here, she totally steals all the glory and attention, and has all of the fun out of everybody here. She just relishes in the fact that she can be sexy, be a little dirty, but also be a little bit sympathetic as well and once things start to go South for her and this story, she’s the only one you really give a single hoot about, especially since she’s the only one that has the most believable convictions out of the whole story (she just wants love). Kidman is probably getting the most recognition and praise for her work here and rightfully so, because the gal just looks freakin’ hot and steams up every scene she’s in, whether she’s trying to seduce people and act sexy, or not. Either way, Kidman definitely had my attention in almost every scene and I’m glad so, too, because she deserved it.

Consensus: You may have a boat-load of fun with The Paperboy if you’re looking for some weird shit to happen, non-stop without any rhyme or reason as to why exactly, but if not, then you may just be bored and annoyed by how uneven everything is, despite Daniels trying his hardest to make us think or see otherwise. You strike-out this time, my friend!


"I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd....."

“I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd…..”

The Skin I Live In (2011)

Ladies and germs, if you want a nice surgery done anywhere on your body, Zorro is the guy to call.

Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), a brilliant plastic surgeon, seeks to overcome the grief of his late wife’s disfigurement in a fiery car crash by inventing skin that is impervious to injury, but his experiments on a living woman (Elena Anaya) hasten his descent into madness.

The thriller/horror genre is one that writer/director Pedro Almodovar has not touched before. Considering all of his films are about the empowerment of women, social issues, and highly-charged romances, seeing him do a film that explores a lot of different and bizarre things, is very interesting. Still, it could have been way better really.

Almodovar places us into a plot that we have no idea what’s happening and just where the hell we are. I usually get bothered when films place me somewhere and I have no clue where I am, but it works here because it sets us in the right mood with the setting, tone, and also the characters. Then this dude in a lion costume comes into the story, and that’s when things really start to get crazy.

The reason why I liked Almodovar’s direction here is because even though he is some new territory, he seems very at ease with all of this bizarre-o shit that’s going on especially when it comes to his themes being placed into the story. There is a lot of sex in here but it doesn’t feel over-exploitative and considering there are a lot of people boning here, it’s a surprise that this didn’t turn into a soft-core porno flick. It’s also great because Almodovar is able to keep this mystery with this flick going the whole time even when we think we know what’s going on which leads me to the one element to this film that won me over.

There’s a moment here in this flick where everything turns around and we see one of the major plot points come to base and basically explain everything we are seeing. The twist is something I never guessed and trust me, you won’t get either but once it does happen, everything starts to make sense and this is where Almodovar succeeds. The story was already weird in the first place but by throwing in this little twist, it makes everything seem a whole lot weirder and without giving anything else away, let me just say that you will look at this film in a very different way my friends.

I think that this twist was so great because it actually helped a film that I thought was not doing so well when it came to its structure. Somewhere in the middle of the flick once everything started making sense, Almodovar decides to thrown in a little flashback sequence that shows what had taken place six years prior which may explain everything clearer and give us a better idea of what we are seeing but considering that this film starts off and about 30 minutes later we are taken back in time to only be given more characters to keep track of, it almost feels like Almodovar gave up on his original story idea to start a brand new one. It was also hard to keep track of what was going on considering that the film keeps cutting back-and-forth between the past and present which made it hard to actually keep track of the time lines.

There were also other problems I had with this film, and it was believability. We know that this dude Robert has this chick locked up so obviously if she escaped, his ass would be screwed for life. So when he starts actually believing the fact that she won’t live him once he sets her free, seemed very unbelievable to me considering she obviously wants to leave and giving her any type of leverage seems like a dumb idea. The other issue with this story was that I couldn’t really believe that Robert, a guy who’s job concerns him with actually helping people out, would actually go to the limits of torture that he does pull here but then again, there are some effed up people out there and sometimes they will do anything for revenge.

Antonio Banderas, aka the sexiest brochacho alive, does a very fine job with a dark role here as Robert. The guy has the looks but also has this other look to him where he almost doesn’t feel anything, and it gives you this sinister side to him that feels real even though it’s almost too hard to believe some of the things that his character starts doing. Banderas is very good in this role and even though the dude does some pretty terrible things, Banderas still makes him likable and seem like a very reasonable dude. Elena Anaya does a great job as Vera and owns pretty much every scene she has, especially the ones with Banderas. She has a great character arch to her and she really does give it her all just about every scene. It also helps that she’s insanely hot, so that’s definitely something else that will keep your eye on her as well.

Consensus: The Skin I Live In lacks in some elements such as its structure and believability, however Almodovar keeps this weird and bizarre feel the whole time, which gives the film plenty of room to breath with its characters and the performances from the great cast.