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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Richard Jenkins

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Hey, somebody’s gotta eat.

A bunch of people start going missing somewhere around in the West and it gets people thinking, “Just what’s going on?” Some believe that the people tailed-off and died, whereas others think that they were kidnapped by a savage tribe of cannibals that hide-up in the mountains and are most definitely best left alone and to their business. Problem is, Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) can’t allow that to be enough for him, so he decides that it’s time to find these people, infiltrate this cannibal-tribe and oh yeah, save some lives. But in order to do so, he’ll have to get the help of some of the most trusted gunslinger’s he knows. Like, Arthur O’Dwyer (Patrick Wilson) who, despite a leg-injury, sticks it out on this mission. Or like Chicory (Richard Jenkins), the Sheriff’s Deputy who knows that time has passed him by, but he’s not willing to settle down just yet. Or, like a random cowboy named John Brooder (Matthew Fox), who shows up randomly into town and makes it his duty to stop these cannibals, all for a hefty-sum of course.

The more out West they are, the more scraggly the facial-hair.

Bone Tomahawk is the kind of movie that won’t be for everybody and that’s why it’s pretty great. It starts off as a slow, meandering and rather meandering Western that’s languid and taking its time, but then rapidly changes into something far more disturbing, barbaric and grueling that we never see it coming, nor do we know what to do with it. Writer/director S. Craig Zahler deserves loads of credit here for not just turning the Western-genre on its side, but also realizing the pulpy-limitations that can be reached when such things as convention, or good-taste are thrown to the side; sometimes, it’s better to just show a bunch of blood, guts, bullets, and cannibals.

Something that, honestly, the John Ford Westerns always seemed to be missing.

But I kid. Zahler does something interesting with this material in that he lets it breathe and move at its own pace. That can sometimes mean that it’s a bit slow and boring, but it also means that Zahler is using his time wisely, setting-up and building characters, giving us a better idea of who, or what exactly, we’re working with. It may not seem like much in the world of film, but when it seems like almost every other movie feels the need to rush itself, get going, and immediately jump to all of the gore and action, it’s a nice change-of-pace to get a movie that doesn’t rush things along.

It also helps that Zahler knows that by doing this, he’s also building tension, which is exactly why Bone Tomahawk works as well as it does. Cause when we get all of the necessary build-up that we need, the movie’s tension snaps like a rubber-band that’s been stretched too tight; the action that we’d been waiting around for so desperately, does eventually come around, but it hits a lot harder than we expect. It’s quick, brutal, unrelenting, and oh yeah, pretty damn shocking – all factors that seem to be missing from today’s film’s violence, without seeming gratuitous or over-the-top.

Why would anyone want to leave her at home, all alone?!?

Nope. In Bone Tomahawk‘s case, the violence is just a sick and savage culmination of all the building and waiting around that’s been done and it’s hard not to be gripped by this. Zahler is a smart director in that he knows the best way to film this kind of heartless action is not to look away, shake the camera, or pull off some sick style-points, but keep the camera there, tightly and firmly, so that we can see just what sort of carnage is being done. It makes it not just more hard-to-watch, but rather disturbing.

Another factor missing from most of today’s movie violence.

But if anything, Bone Tomahawk is a solid B-movie that wants to be a bit of an A-movie, what with its stars and possible ideas about land and freedom. Then again, the movie is best when it’s not caring about this certain kind of stuff and just allowing for these characters to blow each other’s heads off. Sure, there’s something more to this small dynamic of characters, but really, the movie’s not necessarily as character-based, as much as it just uses them to be pawns in a much larger, much more dangerous game. Zahler knows that it’s best to have us care about them and sympathize with them, even when we know that it’s all going to blow up in their face, as well as our own.

But hey, that’s just the price we pay for caring.

Consensus: A tad long, Bone Tomahawk isn’t high-art, as much as it’s a B-movie with some pretty horrifying violence, a solid cast, and a smart direction that plays on genre-thrills, but never shying away from the sheer brutality that’s actually shocking, given today’s standards.

8 / 10

Uh oh. Look out cannibals. Or, I guess, prepare the hot-sauce.

Photos Courtesy of: Image Entertainment

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Blue Steel (1990)

Chicks can be cops? Yeah right!

Newly badged-up policewoman Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis) gets her first shift on the job and already has caused enough pandemonium amongst the force to get her side-lined pencil-pushing for the next couple of months. What happened is that during a hold-up in a convenience store, Megan got all tense and caught up in her emotions, and she ended up blowing the guy away, just as soon as he pulled out his gun. It seemed like the right thing for Maggie to do to save her life, as well as many others, but in the faces and minds of the NYPD: It wasn’t and what makes it even worse is that nobody can actually find the gun that the robber pulled-out. Well, that’s because it’s stuck in the hands of sales manager, Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver), a guy who’s outside appearance has him come off as charming, cunning, and slick with his words, but on the inside, there’s some sick, twisted stuff going on there.

If you want to look at this film through a study of femininity at its finest, then you can definitely find a whole bunch of material to chew on. Megan is the type of character that is easy to reel for, even when she seems to be in a bit over her head. She’s easily conflicted, brave, but also a little headstrong, which also helps to make her believable.

Who ya shootin’?

And yes, Jamie Lee Curtis is the one leading the pack as Megan Turner and is good at showing us a real woman, with real feelings, and real emotional problems that we all go through as people, regardless of our gender. Curtis has never really done anything on the big-screen that’s really wiped-out everybody else in the movies that she’s been in, but she’s still very good here and shows that she’s able to be likable, but also quite stiff as well, which may have

That’s why to have a movie focusing on her and all of her troubles to get through this crossroads in her life is more compelling than anything else going on. We rarely ever see a change in where the shoe is on the other foot, especially with cop movies, and it’s pretty interesting because Bigelow presents us with some understandable ideas and thoughts, but never gets to the point of answering them. And to be honest I don’t think they need to. The gender battle between male and female will continue on until one gender is extinct, which wholly means that Megan’s battle will continue along as well. It’s not as sad or depressing as I may make it sound, I promise, but it’s more realistic in the way that not everything in this world is going to change because you can pick up a gun, shoot it, and show how cool and deadly you are.

However, the problem with this movie is that it’s not all about Megan’s pursuits in staying true to herself and her job, but actually about how they need to find this guy who’s going around, killing people, and doing all sorts of other weird stuff along the way. This part of the movie should have been the most interesting and entertaining, hell, even the best part of it all, but it instead showed promise, only to have it continue to falter further and further away from being anything more than just Bigelow throwing a piece of ham in our face as we run on a treadmill.

Every single damn time that we think that Megan’s going to get the bad guy, he somehow finds another way to get out from underneath her grip, and cause even more trouble, pain, and anger for Megan and his victims. It’s tense at times, but after awhile, it feels like Bigelow needs to find someway to prolong this story even further, as if the idea of having Megan be a female cop in a rather masculine police-force wasn’t enough promise for meaty-material. Then again, I’m not the director so I can see why she would want to keep us entertained and compelled as to what’s going to happen next, which sort of did work and sort of didn’t.

Oh, never mind. I see.

As I’ve said before, less style, more story. That’s what I always say.

Okay, maybe I don’t, but in this case, I do.

And playing the psycho here is Ron Silver who is actually pretty creepy, even if his character’s development doesn’t help him out too much. It isn’t that we can’t understand how this guy’s a cook, it’s pretty obvious right from the start; but what we don’t understand is why, why, why! All people are a little sick and twisted in the head once you get to know them, but with this character, it never seems to make much sense, other than for him to serve the purpose of the story. He rambles on about random junk, tells people to do weird things, and sometimes gets into screaming-bouts with himself, just out of the blue. We never find out why he’s a nut, why he continues to kill people, and why he’s so damn determined to get Megan to hold her gun in a demanding, enforcing way. Silver is a talent that we will never miss, but his character can only go on for so long.

The rest of the cast is filled to the total core with character actors of the past and present, some of which, may surprise you by how good they are. Clancy Brown, Kevin Dunn, Richard Jenkins, and Louise Fletcher show up here and bring a little something to the movie. After all, it’s a cop-thriller, but it’s got a tad bit more going on than what we’re used to.

Sort of.

Consensus: Blue Steel succeeds as a close, intimate look on how gender-clashes will always be around no matter where a woman lands herself in, but when it gets to the other points of the story like the mystery, the suspense, and the twists, nothing seems to be clicking like it should.

6 / 10

“I do solemnly swear to put up with sexist assholes.”

Photos Courtesy of: Rotten TomatoesCinéphile

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

If it’s not on Google Maps, chances are, you should stay away from it.

It’s 1973, the Vietnam War is close to an end, and Bill Randa (John Goodman) a senior official in a super secret government organization known as Monarch, finally sees his opportunity to capitalize on achieving one of his biggest missions yet: Going to the mysterious Skull Island and figuring out what sort of threat is out there. After much arm-twisting, the government finally gives Randa the tools and resources he needs to get there, which means that he gets the army, the weapons, as well as the experts to help guide him along on this possibly dangerous island. One person Randa seeks out and pays to help him is world-renowned traveler James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who doesn’t know what’s there on Skull Island, either, but doesn’t like the sounds of it, which is why he demands for his pay to be doubled. Meanwhile, on the mission, is anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who can’t wait to see what’s out there, and Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a member of the Army who isn’t too happy about what happened with the war and isn’t ready to let that go. Not even a gigantic, monstrous and incredibly violent ape known as Kong.

Kong best look out.

Kong: Skull Island is so entertaining, so quick, so visually impressive, and so fun that, even with all of its flaws, I’m willing and absolutely able to just let bygones be bygones and praise the film as it is. Because even though the script is silly, underwritten, and not at all up to the task of aiding and abetting this talented ensemble, the direction from Jordan Vogt-Roberts is so thrilling, it’s hard to care so much. After all, do you really go to a King Kong movie for the well-written, three-dimensional, and emotionally complex characters? Or, do you go to a King Kong movie for the vividly gigantic monsters beating the absolute hell out of one another and terrorizing any human that tries to stand in their ways?

Honestly, it’s not bad to have a little bit of both, but fine, Kong: Skull Island wants to stick with the later, so whatever.

Either way, Kong: Skull Island is still a very fun movie and a lot of that is credited to Vogt-Roberts because he takes what could have been a very soulless, almost boring job of rebooting the tale of Kong and instead, adds some life, flair (literally), and energy into it. One of the most notable and interesting aspects Vogt-Roberts adds here is that Kong: Skull Island is, on one hand, a monster movie, in which people run away and try to kill a monster, but on the other hand, it’s also a Vietnam War movie, in which some cold cut rock classics from the early-70’s blasts out from the speakers, everyone’s a little scared and paranoid, and yeah, the temperature is hot, sweaty and downright miserable. In a way, Vogt-Roberts wants to make the Apocalypse Now of monster movies and while he doesn’t quite reach those heights, he still shows us all something new and original can be done with the monster movie.

And because of this, there’s an energy to Skull Island that’s hard to resist and shove-off. Even though it’s absolutely clear from the get-go that the script is going to be shoddy, silly and downright stupid, there’s just something about the look and feel of this all that’s easy to ride along with and enjoy. Even those who want to see Kong in all of his finest form, will be pleased to know that he’s seen a whole bunch throughout and doing all the sorts of things that you’d expect him to do in a movie involving him; there’s smashing, crunching, chewing, roaring, pounding, beating, breaking, punching, kicking, throwing, eating, and oh yeah, crying. Kind of.

But not from these fools.

Regardless, those who complained about 2014 Godzilla not having enough of said title character, then sit down, shut up and feast your eyes on the creature that you’ve all been so desperately wanting to see.

That said though, like I’ve said before, the script is just, uhm, how should I say this? Lame. But it’s not terrible in that it’s hard to listen to, ruins the movie, and sucks all of the fun out of it; it’s more that it feels like a leftover script from the 90’s, right around the time Jurassic Park came out and all of a sudden, everyone wanted to make a big-budget, effects-heavy monster movie. Meaning, there’s a lot of cheesy one-liners; a lot of characters who have basically one personality-trait to them and it basically defines them; a lot of contrivances; a lot of scenes that need more explaining; and oh yeah, a lot of random bits of silliness that seem to literally come from out of nowhere.

And it’s weird, too, because the cast here is so well-done and impressive, that it’s a bit of a shame. No one’s bad here, honestly, but because the net has been cast so far and wide, no one true performance really gets to shine above the rest. The only ones I can truly think of doing this are probably John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson, but that’s just because they get maybe two or three more sentences than the rest of the cast to explain themselves and allow us to get to know them a tad bit better. Others like Hiddleston, Larson, Goodman, Whigham, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, and an oddly miscast Thomas Mann, all fall by the waist side and it’s a sign that the movie may have cast a smaller net, or have been longer.

Still though, for a movie that clocks in just under two hours, it makes for a good time. Just don’t try and think too hard, like me.

Basically, don’t be me.

Consensus: Even with an awfully wacky script, Kong: Skull Island gets by solely on the pure energy and fun from its direction, as well as an interesting take on the monster movie genre itself.

7 / 10

Oh wait. Never mind. He can’t be stopped.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Kingdom (2007)

Let’s just stay home and let people settle themselves out, okay?

Charged with the most important assignment of his career, federal agent Ron Fleury (Jamie Foxx) has one week to assemble a team, infiltrate and destroy a terrorist cell based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It’s not what he had in mind when he decided to join back up with the force, but it’s the task that was handed down to him, so he wrangles up Special Agent Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), a forensic examiner, FBI analyst Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman), an intelligence analyst, and Special Agent Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), who all have their own set of skills that will help allow for this mission to go down a lot smoother. And if that wasn’t enough, well, then the four also have the company and good graces of Colonel Faris al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), the commander of the Saudi State Police Force, a man who is providing security for them. However, what seems like good intentions at first, all start to go away once the agents realize that they aren’t allowed to do their jobs and complete their mission because of some strange rules that the Saudi government is passing down to them. Will they obey them? Or, like most Americans, will they just do whatever they want?

Jamie's packin'.

Jamie’s packin’.

The Kingdom shows Peter Berg more of where he’s at now in his career. He tackles these real life moments in our nation’s history and does all that he can with them, never really making a point about what it is that he’s depicting, just more of showing the world a little story that we may, or may not, already have known about. Although Berg starts the movie off by showing the relationship between the U.S. and the Saudis, post-WWI, Berg still settles himself down, opting for a more traditional approach to a story that, quite frankly, could have not only just used more eyes and ears, but more voices.

In a way, it seems like the Kingdom is the perfect movie for Berg to get on his soap-box and speak out against the U.S.’s insistence of a relationship with the Saudis, but he still seems torn; at one point, he’s all about making a point, but then, at other points, he just wants to see stuff blow-up and people get shot dead in the streets. Somehow, somewhere, it doesn’t all come together perfectly and it seems like a case of Berg himself getting lost in translation and not knowing where to speak out, and where to let the violence start happening.

The action’s good though, so that’s got to account for something, right?

And yeah, it definitely does. There’s no denying that Berg knows how to craft a tense and effective action-sequence, but there’s maybe only or two throughout the whole film, which means that a large portion of the flick is dedicated to watching a bunch of characters talk to one another about stuff we may not have a clue about, or better yet, not even care for. The Kingdom may not try to settle all of the issues between the Saudis and the U.S., but what it does set out to do, is tell us a story about something that happened in the real world and why it deserves to be told.

So is Chris.

So is Chris.

Why, for some reason, that emotional impact isn’t felt while watching the movie is, for lack of a better term, weird. Berg knows how to craft action-sequences and in the many scenes where there are people talking, there’s still some underlining sense of dread and tension, but it never quite materializes into being anything all that exciting. Berg is, simply put, telling this story and leaving it at that.

In a way, that’s perfectly fine.

But in another way, it’s not. It lets the very talented cast and crew down, as well as the people it’s supposed to be depicting. Of course, the events and situations are all loosely based on other events that occurred in Saudi Arabia and had to do with American forces intervening, but the idea of patriotism and paying a tribute to these men and women who serve our country, only to make other countries nearly as good and safe as ours, still feels relevant. Berg wants to celebrate these people and there’s no problem with that – except for when he doesn’t quite give them all that much of a spectacular movie that really gets us, the movie-going audience, going.

Consensus: Despite a few solid pieces of action and timely themes, the Kingdom doesn’t know how to package them all up in a neat, somewhat cohesive manner that’s both effective, or interesting, making it feel like a missed-opportunity to really speak out against issues that deserve to be spoken out against.

6 / 10

And you know what? Even Jen is.

And you know what? Even Jen is.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Hollars (2016)

Family’s suck. No matter how colorful.

John Hollar (John Krasinski) is having a bit of a rough time in his life. He’s struggling to make something of his career as a graphic designer, so he now works in retail, hoping to make something from nothing, and now, impregnated his girlfriend (Anna Kendrick), and doesn’t seem to know if he’s ready for that or not. Either way, John’s going to have to grow up real soon as he finds out that his mom (Margo Martindale) has brain cancer. Feeling as if it’s finally time for him to go home and see the family he left behind so many years ago, John has to put up with a lot – despite his mom actually being all fine and dandy, all things considering, everyone else in his family seems to be crumbling. John’s brother (Sharlto Copley) is still reeling over his divorce and estrangement from his kids, while his father (Richard Jenkins), is about to lose his company and file for bankruptcy. Not to mention that one of his mom’s nurses, also happens to be an old foe from high school (Charlie Day), who’s now married to his high school girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). So yeah, it’s an odd time for John, but he’s going to do whatever he can to make out as humanly sane as possible.

To read the full review, head on over to Riot-Nerd and check it out. It’s a new gig that I’ll be showing up on every so often, so yeah, check it out and let them know what you think!

Burn After Reading (2008)

Never trust those who are “too fit”.

When CIA Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) gets demoted from his job, he decides that it’s time to start the proceedings on his memoir. Somehow, though, the disk containing all of this information falls into the hands of two gym employees, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), both of whom clearly have no idea what they’re going to do with this disk. But they both have the right idea to blackmail Cox for some money, even if they don’t know how to go about it, nor what the actual proceedings are. Meanwhile, Linda herself is in search of a better life that isn’t just working in the gym. Currently, she’s trying to fund her cosmetic surgeries, as well as someone to love in her life. Through various dating websites, she meets the charming and likable Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), and the two hit it off immediately. Strange thing is that Harry, despite being married, also happens to be shackin’ up with Osborne’s wife (Tilda Swinton), which leads the whole situation to end up in some real weird, sticky situations, sometimes with them leading to violence and all sorts of bloodshed.

"Malkovich? Malkovich?"

“Malkovich? Malkovich?”

At this stage in their career, the Coen brothers can practically do anything that they want and nobody is going to tell them otherwise. They have enough Oscars under their belt, have made their studios enough money, and have earned enough respect in the biz to say that they want to make about anything, and everybody will fall for it, hook, line and sinker. As is the case with most writers and directors, they’ve had some mediocre films, as well as some amazing films, but mostly, they’ve made films worth checking out and taking time out of one’s day to watch, because a Coen brother’s movie is, quite frankly, better than a lot of other stuff out there.

And Burn After Reading is the exact reason why they are so beloved.

Though, at the same time, the movie doesn’t show the Coen brothers really working with anything new, or ground-breaking; instead, they’re taking on the whole spy genre, making a farce out of it, and rather than having real, actual spies involved, the movie’s just about a bunch of regular, everyday people who are, yes, goofy and sometimes idiotic. However, they are all searching for the same thing: Money and power. To the Coens, this is perhaps the most interesting aspect about the human-condition, in which seemingly normal people, can be driven so ridiculously mad by the prospect of wealth, that they’d do almost anything to achieve it and rule their own little world.

At the same time, though, rather than being all sad and serious about it, the Coens add a lighter touch onto that whole idea, giving us characters that aren’t just colorful and likable, but also interesting. Sure, some of these characters may come off as very schticky and thin, but the Coens also show how that they’re personalities make who they are and determine every decision that they make throughout the movie. Some characters are, obviously, smarter than others, but nobody here is actually a good person, and there’s something inherently fun and entertaining in watching all of these characters get caught in a crazy web of lies, murder and deception, just for the hell of it.

It also helps that the cast is pretty great, too.

As usual, the Coens work with some of their own regulars who, by now, have mastered the art of the “Coen speak”. George Clooney is exciting, but also very weird as Harry, who always seems to have an issue with the food he eats, as well as an odd obsession with wood-panels; Frances McDormand’s Linda is a total polar opposite of what we’re used to seeing her play, giving us a naive, sometimes sad character who always tries to stay upbeat, no matter what the situation may call for; and Richard Jenkins, as Linda’s boss who can’t seem to stop falling over her, makes you want to give him a hug just about every scene he’s involved with.

We get it, Brad: You're really in-shape!

We get it, Brad: You’re really in-shape!

But the newcomers to the Coen’s also handle their material well and show why they deserve to be in their movies a whole lot more. John Malkovich does a lot of cursing and yelling as Osborne, and it’s so much fun to watch and listen that I didn’t care if his character didn’t get as developed as I would have liked; Tilda Swinton’s character is a bit bitchy and mean, but also seems like she’s got more going onto her that would have been interesting to see developed more, but for what it is, this is all we get and it’s fine; and Brad Pitt, well, let’s just say he sort of steals the show. Not only does Brad Pitt seems like he’s so eager and excited to be apart of a Coen brother’s movie, but he also seems like he really wants to see what’s more to this character that he’s playing – something that isn’t quite seen in the rest of the movie.

Pitt’s Chad, for the most part, doesn’t really care about gaining any sort of money or respect, he’s just around for the fun of it all. That’s clear from the very beginning, once we realize that there’s a certain zaniness and energy to him that’s hard to ignore. This is mostly all thanks to Pitt who, using his grace and charm, shows that while a meat-head like Chad can be lovable, he can also be one you sort of feel bad for, once the situation he’s involved with gets to be a bit too crazy and over-the-top for his own good. There’s something about Chad that I wanted to see more of, but really, what I got was fine enough.

And that’s basically all that there is to say about Burn After Reading: It’s fine, and although you wish you saw more, that’s all you really need.

But hey, don’t just listen to me, let J.K. Simmons tell you all about it.

Consensus: Though it’s not exactly breaking down any barriers, Burn After Reading still finds the Coen brothers in a fun, hilariously wicked spirit that maintains their sense of odd energy the whole way through.

8 / 10

How can these two not have a ball together?

How can these two not have a ball together?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, IFC

The Core (2003)

CoreWhen the world is about to end, trust cellular-devices. Oh, and Hollywood.

After a couple of freak accidents all around the globe, scientists come to the mind-boggling conclusion that the Earth’s core will stop rotating, allowing for the world to all go to shit. So in order to continue the spinning, a group lead by Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and astronaut Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hilary Swank) go down there to stop the disaster. However, like with most of the times when people try to prevent natural-disasters from occurring, mother nature fights back, and she fights with vengeance. Or, something like that.

I’m not a huge science-buff, but I passed a couple of those classes back in school and I even learned a little bit. Nothing too much, but just enough to know that the Earth revolves around the sun and that there is a crap-ton of water on our planet. You know, the simple and easy things. That’s why when I see a flick and people get on it’s case about not being smart or “correct” about the science it uses, I don’t really care nor do I ever notice. That sort of stuff just doesn’t bother me as much, especially when the flick’s dumb and stupid, such as is this one.

God's finally had it!

God’s finally had it!

But that’s where the problem of this movie lies: It’s so stupid, so dumb, and so innate, that the terribly thought-out science that it uses as it’s axle, is so noticeable and distracting, that it’s almost too hard to even enjoy. To think that the Earth’s core can suddenly stop rotating, for no explanation other than “we did it” or some failed earthquake machine, really made me laugh and wonder just what these writers were thinking when they even bothered jotting down words on a page. Hey, they know more science terms and jargon than I do, but that being said, at least I know what actually can and cannot happen with them. That’s why this movie’s so hard to get through, because everything you see, hear, or even feel, is just of the lowest common-denominator of dumb.

However, there are many movies out there that can be considered “so bad it’s good”, which is why I could recommend the movie just for that fact alone, but nothing else. You can’t expect much from a movie that gets it’s science so wrong, that almost every star in it’s ensemble strains themselves to explain certain things about it, why something’s happening, and how they can fix it, or stop it. For that matter, we’re straining ourselves in return, just to get through this damn thing because even though we know it’s been on for awhile, we still have to face back to reality and realize that the flick is over 2 hours and 4 minutes. Did not need to be at all, considering they jump right into the actual “mission”, about 30 minutes in, leaving any type of character-development or background on the ground, never to be picked up, and only used when the movie needs it to justify certain characters dumb-ass actions.

By “actions”, what I mean is that once one character dies (who I will not spoil, even if you can probably tell a minute or two before it actually happens), it becomes almost like a slasher-flick, where instead of their being a masked-killer or psychopath going around and hacking people up, it’s the Earth’s core itself. This can provide some bits of fun and excitement for people who probably have never seen a disaster flick or know what happens to a certain character, right after they say “I’ll be right back”, but for a d-bag critic like me; it doesn’t fly so well and only twists the knife in harder and harder as each and every character meets their doom. Even the actors themselves feel like they may be just slumming it up for a paycheck, which once again: Makes it even more disappointing to watch.

Obviously back in the early ’00’s is the only time a movie could be lead by Aaron Eckhart and that’s a shame too because the guy’s a quality actor who’s been kicking some fine ass for years, but in smaller indies, and is only seen by a larger-crowd when he does big, loud, and stupid blockbusters (with the exception of this one). Here, it’s apparently clear that Eckhart’s doing whatever he can to make this character/material work more than it should, but he just falls prey to it’s utter crapness, that he comes out the most laughable of all. Best example, a character that’s very close to his, perishes and leaves him yelling, while crying, and demanding his character to come alive. It’s all so laughable to watch, that it’s almost painful, especially because Eckhart, as I said, is a quality actor that knows how to make anything work. However, he can’t help himself or the film that he’s in here.

Alien?

Alien?

Hilary Swank on the other hand, well, she does the same thing except isn’t given that much to work with so it’s not as bad to watch as Eckhart. Still, it feels like a conventional-role for a gal that deserved better things, and still does to this day. Others in this cast fare a bit better, mainly because they aren’t given much development and actually seem to “enjoy” the crap they’re working with. However, it’s weird to watch everybody here act because they all seem to be in a different movie, where apparently lines are a lot easier to read, without it all coming out as total gibberish.

For instance, Stanley Tucci plays a scientist who is something of a celebrity in his field, and plays it up like the star that he is. Tucci’s funny, a bit mean, and very mawkish, but it all works because that’s who the character is, and Tucci gives him a soul that continues to show. I can’t say the same thing about Richard Jenkins’ role as General Purcell, but man does that guy love to deadpan. Every scene he’s in is hilarious and it’s just because of his lovely-presence being felt or around the screen. Nobody else in this movie fares any better than him. No not the uncharismatic DJ Qualls; no, not the highly underrated Delroy Lindo; and no, sure as hell not one of the world’s strongest female-presences working today, Alfre Woodard. Richard Jenkins is the one who steals the movie and kept me laughing and entertained every time he was on the screen. As for the rest of the movie, eh, not so much. Sorry, B-movie lovers.

Consensus: You could deem it as such “a terrible movie that it’s almost watchable”, but the Core suffers from a terrible scripting, sad-sack acting from a heavy-stacked cast, and poor science, that it’s almost too much of a strain to even be bothered with, regardless of if you’re bored, drunk or high one night or not.

4 / 10

"Coming up ahead we have some sort of blue stuff here that needs to be looked at or explained as to what the hell it is."

“Coming up ahead we have some sort of blue stuff here that needs to be looked at or explained as to what the hell it is.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

The Visitor (2008)

Live life by the drum.

Widower Professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) lives a mundane existence as a college economics professor. He gives fails students who don’t deserve to fail; he’s only doing piano because of his long, lost wife’s talent; and generally, he’s just a dick to everyone and anyone around him. However, when going off into the city where he hopes to relax and possibly wallow in his own misery, he stumbles upon two illegal immigrants who have taken up shop in his place. At first, he’s upset, but as time goes on, he befriends them and even goes so far as to help them with all of his might when they’re discovered by U.S. immigration authorities.

Back in 2008, I remember actually hearing little things about this movie here and there, but nothing that was worth jumping up and down for. Then the 2009 Academy Awards came around and everybody was wondering, “Just who the hell is Richard Jenkins and what the hell is this movie he’s been nominated for?”. I’ll admit it, I was one of those people and needless to say, I can totally see why the Academy chose to give this guy and this film some notice. It’s actually a nice, little indie.

It would be hopelessly romantic, however, it's an indie, so go away heartfelt emotions!!

It would be hopelessly romantic, however, it’s an indie, so go away heartfelt emotions!

Which, honestly, is no surprise considering it comes from writer/director Thomas McCarthy, a guy who, time and time again, proves that he can be a master at making very subtle, heart-warming indies. After seeing his two other flicks (The Station Agent, Win Win), I’ve begun to realize that this guy has a style, without ever really having a style at all. He shoots all of his films like natural stories of a human-being; doesn’t try to do anything fancy or flashy with his camera; and much rather instead, allows for the story tell itself. This usually works for him because his stories are usually so rich that you can’t help but feel as involved with them as the character’s in it themselves. Overall though, it’s lovely to see a director not only let the story tell itself, but never really delude from that story either and keep it on that subject so we know how they feel, what they feel, and all of the other little things about them in between.

This is also a film where McCarthy seems to be tackling bigger issues here than just the levels of love, friendship, and trains. Here, he actually seems to be making some very valid points about the post-9/11 America that we all live in and it kind of made me think a little bit about how I sort of looked at people from other races, heritages, and countries. Whenever we see a person that’s not from this country, and is from an Arabic one, we look at them, and without a single second to think, all of a sudden get absolutely paranoid.

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it.

Fact is though, we don’t know these people as well as we think we do, as we mostly forget that they too, like us, are human beings. Ones who are ripe with feelings, emotions, and all of that nonsensical baloney that us humans can’t ever seem to get a grip on, no matter how hard we try. McCarthy doesn’t just shove these ideas or thoughts down our throats, however, much rather, he just allows for us to pick up on them as the movie goes on along. McCarthy trusts us and it’s very noble, on his part.

But if there was a problem to be found here in this movie, it’s that his direction could sometimes get a tad bit too subtle for his own good. In fact, I’d say that it sometimes seems like he’s cheating the audience out of something, all because he wants to take the higher road. Which, dealing with a simple story such as this, is understandable, but when you want your story to deliver on the emotional-cues, hook, line, and sinker, you sort of have to give us a little piece of that sentimental moment to fully put us over the hill. McCarthy, once again, strays away from doing that and instead, is relying on us to make the emotions work, but it sometimes takes away from even more of an emotional wallop.

Visitor2

Michonne?!? In love?!? No zombies?!?

Regardless of all that though, if there’s one thing that the Visitor should always and forever be remembered for, it’s that it showed the bigger, brighter world out there just who the hell Richard Jenkins actually is. However, that’s not saying that before the Visitor, nobody knew who the hell Jenkins was in the first place, because he was constantly everywhere. He was the go-to character actor that you could always rely on to make a movie better, and it was a nice change-of-pace to see him here, actually getting the chance to revel in the spotlight a bit.

That aside, Jenkins’ performance is quite great and was definitely deserving of the Oscar nomination, as we really see this man for what he is – a sad, lonely and relatively depressed old man who has given up on life, basically, but hasn’t given up on it so much so that he’s willing to let himself go. He still wants to try on and live on, even if it is for the sake of allowing for his wife’s legacy to live on vicariously through him. At the beginning, we’re practically told that he’s a mean, grumpy old dude, but as time progresses on and we get to see him interact with those around him, we realize that there is something sweet, lovely and charming to Walter Vale. While he isn’t a perfect person, he’s still one that you could meet on the street, have a chat with, and go on about your day. You don’t need to think about him all that much, but you’ll remember that you at least had the conversation with him in the first place.

Much like Richard Jenkins himself: Always present and lovely to be around, although, you’ll still be asking, “Where the hell did he go?”

Consensus: The Visitor gets by solely on the power and complexity of Jenkins’ lead performance, which helps to allow Thomas McCarthy’s script to reach new, emotional-heights, even if he does cheat the audience out of them quite a bit too many times.

8 / 10

Slappin' da drum, man.

Slappin’ da drum.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

God’s Pocket (2014)

Philadelphia is full of scum. Take that from a person who lives there and yet, loves it so!

Philadelphia, circa the 1970’s where the mob has practically taken over all business. And a fella by the name of Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is one of those mobsters who does his business, moves on, and goes back to his wife, Jeannie (Christina Hendricks), to make sure she’s happy and pleased with the life he’s made possible for her. However tragedy strikes for them both when Jeannie’s kid ends up dying in a surprising “freak accident” at work. Though there’s a lot of speculation concerning that “accident” and whether or not it was actually a cover-up, Mickey has to find enough cash to make sure that his wife’s kid gets the best funeral possible and also, that he’s able to do so without having to split any heads in the process. Problem is though, he’s owed money by a lot of people, and there comes a point where you have to stop being nice, and start taking action in order to get what you want.

Or you know, something like that.

Honestly, though there seems to be a plot on the surface here, the truth is, there really isn’t. I mean yeah, this Mickey fella has to find a way to squander up a certain amount of cash so that his wifey-poo’s kid can get the funeral she wants him to have, but you can sort of tell about half-way through that the movie doesn’t really know if it wants to pay much attention to that, or anything else in this movie for that matter.

Most of that has to do with the fact that this is the directorial-debut by one John Slattery who, if you don’t know by now, so charmingly plays Roger Sterling on Mad Men. And that’s why it’s really hard for me to trash on this movie because you can tell that Slattery wants to make a good movie and definitely has the potential to make one in the near-future if he decides to continue to go down this road of being behind the camera, but this sadly, is not that film.

5 o'clock shadow = struggling alcoholic.

5 o’clock shadow = struggling alcoholic.

Because honestly, it’s just that Slattery doesn’t quite know how to make the blend between comedy, drama, and bits of violence, seem all put together in a cohesive manner. To say this thing is messy, is to say you get wet when you step out in the rain without an umbrella; it’s pretty obvious. But what makes this movie worse than just something of a mess, is that it’s too dull to ever be considered “an interesting mess”. And this is where, as much as it pains me to do so, where I get a tad mean on Slattery because it just seems like he doesn’t really know where to go with this material, nor does he know of what to actually say about any of it, or the characters that inhabit it; he’s sort of just a pedestrian to all that’s happening.

And honestly, that’s not so bad for some movies out there, considering they have a great cast on their hands. Which is why this is an even bigger surprise to me, considering the ensemble Slattery’s been able to cobble up together here. Of course we all know that John Turturro is good at playing the sneaky, gangster-type, but rather than doing anything interesting with that role here, it’s more of a case in where you can sort of see him going through the motions without much heart or inspiration. Same goes for the always lovely Richard Jenkins who plays a journalist with a bit of a drinking problem. Though it’s a pleasure to see Jenkins on screen and acting like his usual smarmy-self, his subplot really doesn’t add much to this movie and feels unnecessary, especially when you consider how much time it’s actually taking away from the real story at-hand here, which is Mickey getting all of that money for this funeral.

And yes, while that plot seems ripe with all sorts of excitement and fun, Slattery’s direction doesn’t really get to portray any of that. Instead, it’s just a slow, uninteresting bore that you can tell wants to say something about these low-life characters, but in the end, isn’t really saying anything at all. In fact, if I had to really dig deep underneath this story, I’d say that Slattery actually glamorizes these characters a bit as being constantly funny, cool, and able to use violence whenever they want. Now that’s fine and all when you have well-written characters, but here, there’s nobody to really care for, nor even really pay much attention to.

Well, at least she's still like Joanie in THAT sense.

Well, at least she’s still like Joanie in THAT sense. Heh heh.

Same goes for the character of Jeannie who we’re supposed to care for the most, but instead, don’t really care for, because we don’t get much of her to begin with. We just see that she’s devastated with the news of her son’s passing and we’re supposed to build our opinions about her around that idea. It didn’t quite work and although you can tell Christina Hendricks is clearly trying to break away from her Joan Harris-image, it more or less feels like she’s not trying hard enough. Or that she doesn’t have much to really work with in the first place.

That could definitely be the sole reason and it’s an even bigger shame, too, because this movie will also go down as one of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s films. And, above everything else, is the true disappointment of this movie – giving one of the most compelling presences of the past decade or so, and hardly giving him anything to work with. Though Hoffman is totally trying his hardest with this Mickey character, in the end, he’s just a weak-character that’s like any other, low-time, two-bit gangster: He’s a nice guy, but also has some dark shadings as well. That in and of itself is a total convention of the mob-tale and it’s made even worse by the fact that a person who could do something with that convention and spin it in an interesting way, doesn’t get a chance to do so.

Not his fault of course, just bad material that he didn’t deserve.

Consensus: Everybody involved with God’s Pocket seems to be trying, but in the end, is just a disappointing mess that makes the mortal sin of not bringing anything interesting to the audience’s heads while on screen.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Hard not to get a bit teary-eyed over this picture. Just sayin'.

Hard not to get a bit teary-eyed over this picture. Just sayin’.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

Just live life, don’t think too much and shut up! There, just saved you a near-two hours!

Environmental activist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) is the type of guy you just have to feel bad for. He’s the type that means well, but nothing ever seems to be working out well for him to the point of where he could just finally relax for a little bit. But nope, that is not the case, especially since he’s practically getting screwed over by a major corporation called Huckabees, mainly the head of P.R., Brad Stand (Jude Law). Brad practically promised Albert that he would save a huge part of land so that they could plant all sorts of trees and beautiful things, however, Brad doesn’t care about that and just wants his money, so he plans on just planting a huge shopping-mall instead, with Huckabees dead in the center of it all. Albert’s pissed about that, but he’s also worried about these strange run-ins he continues to have with this tall, African American man, that he automatically thinks are more than just sheer coincidences, they might just give meaning to his whole life in the past, present and the future. That’s where “Existential Detectives” Vivian and Bernard (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) come in and try to help him figure it all out, but since Albert’s a bit of a spastic nutcase, not everything goes as smoothly as planned.

Let”s just start things off on the right foot here: The movie is a mess, but it’s an intriguing mess, much like life is. There’s the hook, now on with the rest of this review.

They aren't supposed to be doing that, right? So therefore, it just HAS to be funny!

They aren’t supposed to be doing that, right? So therefore, it just HAS to be funny!

David O. Russell may be a very talented film maker and from what we’ve seen in these past couple of years, he’s really shown himself to be something of a man who can handle anything big or large. Sure, he’s had his freak outs many, many times before, but he’s made it clear that if you give him a huge cast, with a relatively simple, yet complex story, he can work wonders. However, when the story seems to be more than just simple and way more than just complex, then it becomes painfully clear that he can’t really hold his own and has to rely on his usually well-chosen casts. Which, once again, isn’t all that bad to begin with since everybody he gets to be apart of his ensembles are all great and do magnificent in his flicks, it’s just that there needs to be more substance to these stars doing shop, and regardless of what you may think with this material, there is no substance here. Please, do not be fooled.

See, while people will probably go out there and say, “this movie speaks volumes because of the types of questions it asks us about our current-existence, the lives we live and the world we live in”, is all a bunch of bologna. The movie seems so damn pleased with itself that it’s more than just your traditional, quirky comedy; instead, it’s asking bigger questions, that have to deal with bigger issues most people don’t get to thinking about on a day-to-day basis. There’s nothing wrong with thinking outside of the box either, it just has to be done right. Almost in the way in which Charlie Kaufman writes his movies: Strange, quirky and off-kilter, yet wholly insightful, emotional and more than meets the eyes.

David O. Russell, as much as it may surprise some, is no Charlie Kaufman and doesn’t have the ability to make this movie more than just a series of pretentious, heavy-thinking discussions about our existence on this planet. Those are the types of questions that usually come popping right up when a bunch of pals are saddled-around the campfire, smoking on the peace pipe, and that’s probably exactly where they should stay, especially if O. Russell’s going to be discussing them. I feel bad for getting on his case so much, because while there are some funny bits and pieces here, they mainly all stem from the fact that what’s happening on screen to cause these small pieces of laughter, is just because they’re pure random. Plain and simple. They don’t really work well towards the story or the type of message the movie is trying to get across (which is painfully clear, or not, who knows, who cares), and just seem like a bunch of crazy ideas O. Russell had rocking around in his mind and decided to go for the gull with here. Sometimes it works and amounts to nothing, sometimes it doesn’t and it just makes you feel bad for everybody involved.

Especially the cast. This poor, poor cast.

Better yet, I should just say poor Jason Schwartzman, because while I usually find him hilarious and entertaining to watch in whatever the hell it is that he pops up in, I couldn’t help but see him as annoying here. He always seemed to bitch and complain about everything in his life, never seemed like an actual character, with dimensions or emotions and seemed like the perfect type of guy that O. Russell could use as the straight-man for all of these over-the-top and crazy performances to play off of. And in that general aspect, the man gets what he wants, however, some of them fall short.

They're all jealous, Mark. Don't listen to 'em.

They’re all jealous, Mark. Don’t listen to ’em.

Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman come close to, but keep their heads afloat playing the two Existential Detectives, who basically just serve as Albert’s self-conscious; letting him know what’s right, what’s wrong, what does it all mean and how he can move on in his life, the right way. Together, they form a fiery and fun chemistry, but their roles do begin to get a bit repetitive, as they seemed to be saying the same things, over and over again, just with different phrasing and mannerisms. Jude Law also gets the bad-end of the straw as the sleazy Brad Stand, though he definitely relishes in the moment of playing somebody that would be as mean and detestable as a man of his looks golly-good looks would be. Naomi Watts seems to really be loving her time as Tom’s girlfriend, the scantily-clad model for Huckabees, and gets most of the laughs from her side of the spectrum. Worked wonders for her role, especially once her character goes through her own existential crisis and as you could expect, some hilarity ensues.

The only time actual hilarity within this movie does ensue, is whenever Mark Wahlberg shows up to steal the spotlight as Tommy, the oddball firefighter who drives everywhere in his bike, has something against petroleum, likes to start fistfights anywhere he goes, with whomever he sees and just seems to want to get his point across, by any means imaginable. Yeah, he seems like he’d be the most grating character on display here, but Wahlberg somehow gets him by on sheer charisma and willingness to make himself seem dumb. It’s very rare where you’d get a very good-looking guy like Wahlberg, who’d actually be willing to participate in something as strange as this, playing an even stranger character than we’d ever seen him play before, and trudge all trudge all the way to the finish line with it, while making us laugh all along the way. Wahlberg’s obviously shown his love for comedy in the past couple of years, but this was when he showed the world that he was more than just a nice set of guns, a catchy-as-hell song and a wonderful way of saying hello to mothers, he could actually entertain you and steal the show from heavyweights like Hoffman, Tomlin and yes, even Isabelle Huppert! Not even going to acknowledge the shock in that statement, I’ll let you take that one for me.

Consensus: There may be some moments of actual comedy to be found in I Heart Huckabees, but most of them are scattered across a slap-shot script, full of pretentious ideas and performances from a very talented cast that don’t add up to much, even while they’d probably work wonders in a way better, less preachy movie.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Not even the sight of Shania could save the day.

Not even the sight of Shania could save the day.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Divorce isn’t all about breaking the others person’s heart, it’s mostly about breaking their bank accounts.

A fabulously successful Los Angeles divorce attorney, Miles Massey (George Clooney) who is so sated on success, that he doesn’t quite see enough time for recreational activities like hanging out with friends, going to the bar, getting laid, or hell, even finding his one true, and only love. He doesn’t care much for that stuff anyway, but if it ever came around his way, then so be it, but just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of his business and his path-to-success. Now though, Miles may get exactly what he wants in the form the much-divorced Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a hard-headed woman pursuing financial independence through serial matrimony, except it may come with a price. That price? His heart, which as we all know, when one is placed solely in the firm grasps of a woman, nothing good can ever come of it. Poor guy.

The writing/directing brother duo known as the Coen Brothers, are pretty much known for wacky, twisty dark comedies, that feature plenty of weirdness and violence to go along with their final-product. You know this, I know this, hell, we all know this! However, what we don’t really know about them all that much are their passions for anything even remotely close to “rom-coms”. But here we have a rom-com, featuring two of the sexiest, most vivacious stars of the past ten years, and we have the Coen Brothers leading them. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Men, hate to say it, but another good one bites the dust.

Men, hate to say it, but another good one bites the dust.

That’s because it is. But it’s “Coen Brothers strange” and yes, there is such a thing.

The are in which I think the Coens get most of a bad-rap from this movie in is that it’s pretty obvious what they’re setting out to do here, and that’s to make a mainstream rom-com, obviously with their own little stamps of originality here and there to spice things up. They aren’t necessarily trying to spellbind an audience that may not know what to expect from their types of movies, nor are they trying to piss off their most loyal, nearest and dearest fans neither; they’re simply trying to make a movie that can be somewhat be enjoyed by anybody who cares enough to give this one a shot. And while the end-result may not be all that perfect, there’s still plenty of interesting stuff going on here that makes it easy to understand why no matter what type of stunt they’re trying to pull, a Coen Brothers movie is always worth watching. For one reason or another.

For instance, take the premise: It’s fairly dark in the way it looks at the world of love, lust and money, and how it’s all connected in a terrible web of lies and deceit. Not the happiest, most pleasant premise out there to-date, but it’s what you get from the dudes who put a dead dude in a wood-chipper. The Coens seem like they have a lot to discuss when it comes to the discussion of how money just makes people happy, regardless of if they’re in love or not. Usually, money solves everything, not love. Hate to say it, but for some peeps, that’s nothing other than the truth, and to see the Coens tap into this idea, while also springing-up some fun, twisty and surprising plot-points, made this a better watch then I expected.

However, it cannot be argued that this movie is still a bit messy, all due to the fact that it’s a rom-com, trying so hard to be in fact, a rom-com. It’s not that I took points off because the Coen Brothers were trying something new and inventive with something we’ve seen done a hundred, million times (hell, it’s practically what we see their movies for in the first place), it’s just that the transition from this strange, sort-of love story, to the mysterious, cold and dark story that Clooney’s character gets wrapped up into, isn’t as smooth. Once again, it seemed like the Coens may have had a bit too much on their plate to chew on, but this time, instead of having all these different strands of plot, story and development going on, it’s just two stories and they never quite converge the way they should.

Like I said before though, it is a Coen Brothers movie, and for what that’s worth, there’s still plenty of non-stop chuckles, pieces of dry wit and overall fun to be had here, it’s just obvious that these guys have done far-better stuff before. Especially with premises that didn’t at all resemble a silly, stupid rom-com. Seriously, I hate those damn things! Hate ’em!

Somebody grab me a damn fan!

Somebody grab me a damn fan!

George Clooney plays the same role here, that he plays in every other one of his movies: The fast-talking, slick, charming guy that makes every other slouch in the room, look like they just got out of the freakin’ dumpster. But, even though that’s what he may seem like at first, you’ll be a bit surprised to see that he’s a lot more stranger-developments going on with this guy, that make you see him for a bit of a different cat altogether. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Miles Massey, in his own way, is a bit off-kilter and neurotic, something we don’t usually see Clooney play, especially given the fact that the ladies couldn’t ever imagine him as being something other than the most handsome, most charming dude in the world. Heck, I don’t blame them, because I even freakin’ see it! But watching Clooney try something new, is one thing, and it’s another to actually see him pull it off, which he does so effortlessly. You really do begin to feel something for this Miles Massey guy and even though he majors in taking the wounded’s good-earned money in every cheap, dirty way he can, there’s still a part of you that wants him to find that dream girl of his. Even if she is somebody as devilish and vindictive as Marylin Rexroth. Ooh, that name. Just gets me all hot, bothered and scared, everytime I hear it.

And with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the role, it’s easy to see why. No seriously, “seeing” is exactly what you’ll be doing everytime she’s up on-screen because she just nails that perfect eye-candy a movie like this needed. Therefore, when Massey started to fall for her, it was easy to see why, especially since every other dude around her started to fall weak at the knees as well. Yeah, a side of me wishes that there was more to this Rexroth character other than just an untrustworthy, gold-digging tramp, whom you don’t want to be messing around with Massey’s vulnerable heart, but I still can’t find anything bad to say about the gal’s performance. She’s spicy, nasty and willing to get down and dirty if she needs to make herself happy. In other words: She’s the type of girl all us men are afraid to be with, yet, we just can’t say “no” to. Rawr.

Consensus: Take with it what you will, Intolerable Cruelty is probably the Coen Brother’s most mainstream movie they have ever done, but still shows all of their usual trademarks for what they are, while also giving us some fun turns by the whole cast, especially a very charming and likable duo of Clooney and Zeta-Jones.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Something tells me the over-abundance of red means something despicable is about to happen. Just a hunch.

Something tells me the over-abundance of red means something despicable is about to happen. Just a hunch.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

A.C.O.D. (2013)

30 years later and my parents are still together, and I’m still fucked up. So what does that tell you about children of divorce?!?!?

Carter (Adam Scott) is what some of us call an adult child of divorce (or, for a clearer term, A.C.O.D.). While there is a book written about studies that were done on him when he was young, everything that it predicted has not come true. Though his parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) are crazy and definitely have some sort of effect on him as a person, he rarely so often sees them, he’s successful, well-adjusted, with a very supportive girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and willing to help out anybody if they need it. Such is the case with his little bro (Clark Duke) when he decides that he wants to give marriage a try, despite only knowing the bride-to-be for no more than a few months. But hey, love is love, or so they say, so Carter decides to fund the wedding in hopes that it will go down smoothly, without a problem whatsoever, but now that his parents are both coming to it, and AT THE SAME TIME, IN THE SAME ROOM, well, then it seems like things may not go as perfectly as originally planned.

Comedies like this always get my happy and excited for what they may bring to me and my mood of that given day. More so this one because of the awesome cast that has almost anybody, and everybody that’s willing to bring out a laugh in me, no matter what the material is that they’re working with. As long as they’re funny, then I’m laughing and I’m happy. As simple as that.

Reserve me a seat at that Thanksgiving dinner table.

Reserve me a seat at that Thanksgiving dinner table. Please! I’ll literally do anything!

However, comedies like these also make me realize why I dislike so many comedies out there because while it may boast a cast full of people very capable of being funny, it gives them little to nothing to do that be considered funny. Of course there are plenty of gags here that the writers themselves probably thought were absolutely, positively hilarious in their minds and on paper, but when it actually comes to being on film, the gags just don’t work and seem more like they were perfectly for a small sketch you’d see on MAD TV or SNL. And for a movie that’s shorter than an-hour-and-a-half, that’s not a good thing to say, especially because you can tell that the premise itself is a nifty idea, it’s just one that never fully feels like it gets stretched out. Or, at least stretched out in a reasonable way.

The basic idea of this movie is to show how this adult child of divorce is coping in the day-to-day life, with a girlfriend who wants to get married, while also knowing that marriage is doomed from the start, all because his parents couldn’t seem to stay together and be happy while at it. That’s a story worth watching get developed and having jokes work off of, but the problem is that nothing in this story ever seems to mean anything, at all. You get a sense that this character of Carter is just creating more problems then there really needs to be, and after awhile, you stop to embrace this problem of his, and get annoyed by it.

While Adam Scott is sure as hell charming as Carter, the character can be so whiny and self-deprecating at times that it was hard to really care for him or even support him with the problems he had with the people around him. Yeah, so his little bro’s getting married to a chick he just met no more than a few months ago? Big deal, let him be. Okay, and so what, his parents are back together again, shacking up and knocking boots together again like old times? What’s the big dealio with that? Eventually, they’ll get bored of one another, realize the other’s faults and never want to speak to each other ever again, sort of like old times too, right? And so what if you’re girlfriend wants to get married, but you’re not ready yet? That’s your problem, so talk it over with her and do it whenever you feel is necessary?

So many problems this guy had with life just did not at all seem to matter to me. I don’t know if that’s because my parents have been together ever since they’re early-20’s and I don’t quite get the same crisis he’s going through as a middle-aged adult or what, but what I do know is that the movie has no central-plot that really feels like you’re strung along on. Instead, it’s more like a bunch of sketches were made up, with an idea of a story in mind, and somehow, someway, the writers were going to connect them all together to make it into one cohesive story, meant to compel us one second, and howling at the moon next.

Problem is, neither of which seems to actually happen, and that’s all made worse by the fact that everybody involved are very, very, VERY funny in almost all that they do. Just not so much here.

Like I was saying before, while I was having plenty of problems with his character, Adam Scott still does do a nice job as Carter, mainly because he has just such a likable personality, it’s almost too hard to despise the guy. He may be self-loathing practically all of the time, but when he wants to be funny in his own dry, sardonic way, it works and made me laugh like as if I was watching him tell me about Game of Thrones, all over again. He’s good with everybody here, but his best scenes definitely come when he’s with Mary Elizabeth Winstead who gives us a girlfriend that isn’t begging to get hitched right away, nor is she really wanting to wait forever. She just wants to make sure that when the time is right, it will happen, and that’s a nice breath of fresh air to actually see in a movie, even if it is a bit unrealistic (am I right, men?).

She even smiles at him when he's not looking or even saying something remotely funny. Whatta babe.

She even smiles at him when he’s not looking or even saying something remotely funny. Whatta babe.

The most fun out of this whole cast seem to be from both Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara as Carter’s parents who, after sheer-chance, start banging once again, which makes the movie a whole lot more enjoyable to watch since they just work so perfectly damn well together. Jenkins is fun when he’s being a likable prick, whereas O’Hara is always a blast when she’s playing up her mean-side, as well as her outrageous one as well. You combine them together, and you have the best bits of the movie that make this so worth watching, even when everything else around them seems to be mildly interesting, at that.

But sure, Amy Poehler has a few funny scenes as Carter’s detestable step-mother; Jane Lynch shows up and does her thing as the psychiatrist who continues to study Carter on and on throughout the years; and Jessica Alba, sporting a slew of arm-tats, maybe has about five minutes of screen-time in this movie, is charming, very hot and shows Carter a new life he could have. But as soon as she’s gone, she never comes back and that’s that. Disappointing, I guess, but then again, nobody has ever really noticed Jessica Alba for her comedic-chops. Especially no guy has.

Consensus: The more-than capable cast of A.C.O.D. make this a lot better than it truthfully is, but whenever they aren’t working their magic, the script takes over and becomes a mind-numbing bore, offering us nothing interesting to really care about.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Wonder where the hell he's at? Sure as heck not a "book store", is it?

Wonder where the hell he’s at? Sure as heck not a “book store”, is it?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

White House Down (2013)

After this, I think Obama’s going to start hiring more male-strippers for around the office.

While Jeremy (Channing Tatum), an wannabe-Secret Service Agent member, is on a tour of the White House with his daughter (Joey King) in an attempt to win her love and support back, something crazy happens. No, not the fact that the President of the United States (Jamie Foxx) meets with the group and even talks to his daughter, but the actual fact that a bunch of terrorists, lead by a trusted Secret Secret member (James Woods) and a ruthless mercenary (Jason Clarke), have infiltrated the White House and are already making demands. Just about everybody in the White House gets either killed, leaves before shit goes bad, or is taken hostage, with the exception of Jeremy who finds that it’s no better time than to prove himself to the president, his daughter, as well as the rest of the world, than now.

Cue up the overly-dramatic action-score when you can.

First, we had Olympus Has Fallen, which wasn’t as bad as it seemed to look, and now we have this. Oh wait, scratch that! Firstly, we actually had Die Hard, and then these two came. Yeah, that’s about right. See, what it is about these flicks is that it doesn’t matter how much risky business you try to take with your premises, you’re always going to end-up being considered “a re-hash” or “unoriginal”. In this movie’s case, words like that are almost too hard to avoid, especially since Olympus Has Fallen has literally came out less than 4 months ago. That’s not to say that this flick loses points from the get-go for that reason and that reason alone, but it did make me wonder many times throughout the whole flick, “Didn’t I literally just see this?”

"Shit, please tell me they didn't just turn on Step Up 2."

“Shit, please tell me they didn’t just turn on Coach Carter.”

The answer to that hypothetical question is yes, and no. Yes, because the same plot-threads are shown in almost the same order, and no, because this movie is way, way, way, way more ridiculous than that one. Seriously, the idea that the White House would get taken over in the first place is pretty outlandish, but top off of everything else that happens in this movie after the 30-minute mark, then you got yourself bigger problems than you’d ever expect. Oh yeah, it gets silly. Real silly.

The setting-up of the story, the tension, and the suspension of belief is fine because Roland Emmerich knows the type of flick he’s about to hammer our brains with for the next 2 hours, so he probably felt like why waste our time right off the bat. However, once the terrorists invade, shit gets hot, and people start getting killed and taken-hostage, the movie gets insane, and not in the best way either. “Insane” in the type of way that it’s almost so crazy that all of this would happen, the way the movie tells it like happening, is almost too ridiculous and innate to take belief in. Then again, like I said, it is a movie directed by Roland Emmerich, who is not known for being smart, subtle, or even realistic for that matter; the dude just wants to see shit blow-up, by any means possible. Even if that means destroying every audience-member’s IQ level, then so be it.

But that’s what you can expect from Emmerich and when it comes to that aspect of the movie (the guns, the explosions, the mass-killings, etc.), the movie is as fun as you’re going to get for the rest of June and for the next couple of weeks (except for when this hits). People come to see a Roland Emmerich movie, to see a bunch of fun, unadulterated fun that you can’t quite get anywhere else; and if somebody argues against that point, you can definitely say that it’s probably the corniest-movie, you can’t seem to get anywhere else. That might just work because once the plot actually begins to thicken and more and more layers are added-on than you can even count on your plate, the movie becomes as stupid as you are going to expect it to get.

Everything from the convoluted terrorists’ plot, to the jawwing-sessions of the officers in the control offices, is all made out of pure randomness and stupidity, but it’s fun to watch, even if you’re laughing at the material and not with it, like Emmerich probably wants you to believe you can. Almost every character here seems like they have something to prove, whether it be an act of violence or an act of intelligence, and none of it ever rings true. It’s as if Emmerich knew how stale and cardboard these characters were, that he needed to give some of them a chance to strut their stuff, and show what it is that they bring to the table. Sort of like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies, where everybody gets a chance to shine so you can see why they matter and why you would actually feel some emotion if they have to get killed off in the next couple of minutes or so. However, comparing those two near-masterpieces, to this pile of cow-dung is almost an insult to Mr. Abrams, one that I hope he never sees or hears about.

If you are reading this, J.J., just to let you know: I loved Felicity. Please don’t remove my name from your contacts. Please!

Sweet, sweet America.

Sweet, sweet America.

With that said, it does call into question whether or not these wild cast of characters can actually handle Emmerich’s mostly-laughable material, and for the most part; some fare better than others, which is what we’re used to seeing with this guy’s films. Channing Tatum springs right into full-on, action-hero mode and is a fine fit as Jeremy, even if everything he pulls off throughout the movie (from the running-away from bullets, to the swan-diving into particular areas a normal human-being would practically be crippled after performing) is utterly ridiculous to watch, even when it’s Tatum performing them all. The dude’s got charm and likability, as I’ve always knew, but his character can only go on for so long until you start to realize that he’s just a one-note guy, without much else to him. The chemistry he has with Jamie Foxx is very good and feels real, especially because they seem to love the hell out of each other in real life. It works well in the film, but I feel like more scenes of them just talking, getting to know one another, and realizing how much they’re alike in ways a common-citizen and the president of the United States would never, ever know about beforehand, would have done them both better. Then again, I’m talking about a whole entirely, different flick with a different director and writer.

On the evil side of things, James Woods and Jason Clarke lead the band of baddies that take over the White House in the dumbest way possible, but still make for good villains because you feel their raw-intensity every time they’re on-screen. It’s probably cliche to even have Woods in a villainous-role, but the guy handles it well and with pride, whereas Clarke feels like he should have just had the whole movie to himself, mostly because he owns it as the main baddie, aka, the one that can actually kick-ass if he’s called on to do so. Starting with Lawless from last summer, to now, Clarke has really been showing his taste for versatility and it makes me wonder what else the guy’s got cooking up for him. I mean hell, when you can “out-evil” James Woods, the king of baddies, then you know you got promise, even in a schlock-fest like this.

Consensus: As over-the-top, stupid, random, insane, and idiotic as White House Down truly is at it’s core, it’s still the type of fun and crazy movie you can expect from a director like Roland Emmerich, even if his cast from the outside looking in, seems to hold so much more promise for the material.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"I'm going to find that bastard who stole my wad of $ bills, even if it's the last thing I do!"

“I’m going to find that bastard who stole my wad of dollar bills, even if it’s the last thing I do!”

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.

Jack Reacher (2012)

Somebody had to go and piss Tom off. Katie, I’m looking at you.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a former Army officer who investigates the killing of five people, murdered by a mysterious sniper for seemingly no reason. But when the suspect is finally nabbed, he remains silent and only says “Get Jack Reacher for me.” Nothing is what it seems and Reacher soon finds himself in the middle of a complex cover-up conspiracy.

After what just occurred in our world on last Friday, I have to say that the first 30 minutes or so of this movie were pretty cringe-worthy. Without giving too much away, there’s a couple of grisly/disturbing killings that happen and reactions to them, that feel like they may hit a bit too close to home. When the Aurora shootings happened back in the Summer, I never really felt like any of the material in the Dark Knight Rises was too hard to watch, but here, I really found myself disturbed and saddened. That’s a terrible thing to feel whenever you go to the movies and try to escape whatever else is happening out there in the real world, but it’s even more terrible to even have to think that still, in the year 2012, something like a shooting would still happen and effect us in our everyday lives. I didn’t really talk much about the shootings and the whole controversy surrounding it, mainly because I knew it was going to be made more about gun-control than the actual killings themselves, but regardless, I still feel for all of those victims and that’s why for the first 30 minutes, this movie was skating on some pretty thin-ice for me, and probably for the rest of the audience. However, once I was able to get out of real-life, and transported into the life of this movie, it all went away and I was finally able to have a damn ball with this freakin’ movie.

"Step out of the car, and strike a pose". That's the way you look sexy, Tom Cruise-style. 50 years and running, baby.

“Step out of the car, and strike a pose”. That’s the way you look sexy, Tom Cruise-style. 50 years and running, baby.

How amazing is it that we are allowed to have two awesome, old-school thrillers come out in less than a month away from one another. Although this flick isn’t spouting the cool, retro-vibe of the 70’s thrillers like Killing Them Softly was, there is still an old look and feel to this movie that had me feeling like I was watching a thriller where people beat the piss out of each other with the usual stuff like weapons, guns, and their own bodies. That’s what I want to see more from thrillers in today’s day and age and it’s so cool that Cruise got director Christopher McQuarrie to hop-on top of this material, because as strange of a choice as he may be (the guy hasn’t directed a flick in over 12 years), he still brings the fun and enjoyment-level to a thriller that could have been plain, simple, and boring.

I will admit, this movie can be pretty stupid and for every moment where you are absolutely “wow’d” by what happens, there’s always a moment of pure-silliness just waiting to sneak right up and catch you off-guard. This definitely isn’t one of those flicks that you watch, keep your brain in, and put your thinking cap on top and look at the logical explanations of what could really happen in the real-world, had this story actually taken place in it, and instead, it’s more like one of those films where you just come to have a good time, see a lot of cool action, and feel on-the-edge-of-your-seat for a good duration of the run-time (with the subtraction of those shaky, first 30 minutes…or so). I know I may bag on a lot of flicks for being just a mindless exercises in fun and action, but this is one of those mindless exercises that’s done the right way. There’s no style that gets in the way of everything that’s happening on-screen, there’s no lame dialogue or characters that are just there to keep the action/plot moving along, and there sure as hell is no sign, whatsoever, of a “Michael Bay explosion”. Yes, thank the High Heavens of Cinema for that.

McQuarrie may not have too much to show, in terms of style or distinct look and feel, but there are still plenty of pleasures to be had in terms of where this story goes, and how original it can be, at times. There’s a car-chase that kept me on-edge the whole time and even though it was obvious that it would never, ever occur in real-life, real-time, or even in the streets of Pittsburgh, it still was a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and one of the better car chases I have seen in quite some time. If there’s been a better one this year, please do let me know because the only one I can recall that was as fun and thrilling as the one here, was the one in the Dark Knight. Anywho, McQuarrie doesn’t bring anything new or original to the table that we haven’t already seen done a hundred times before, but it’s still fun because of how simple it is, yet still, offering us little twists and turns here to really spice the whole story up. Some twists work better than others, but for the most-part, they were fun as hell to have thrown at me. And yes, I am still talking about the twists and turns of the story, not Tom Cruise’s rockin’ six-pack that he probably donned for 5 minutes in his one, shirtless scene.

Oh yeah, and I think "they" deserve a nomination for "Best Distraction in Every Scene She Shows Up".

Oh yeah, and I think “they” deserve a nomination for “Best Distraction in Every Scene She Shows Up”.

Speaking of Cruise, a lot of people were pissing off their hats because they felt like Cruise wasn’t the right pick for a character that was about 6″5, whereas Cruise is roughly around 5″7. Seems like a pretty big difference in terms of keeping with the characters look, feel, and style, but it actually works in making Reacher more of a bad-ass and more unpredictable with what the hell he will do next. Cruise fits this role like a glove because he has all of the charm, all of the wit, all of the smarts, and all of the bad-assery to make a tough-as-nails character like this to work, and never have him come off as annoying or plainly unbelievable. Some scenes seem like Reacher really *ahem* reaches for the sky and defeats the purpose of gravity, but it was okay because Cruise seemed like he was having so much fun with the role, that you just can’t hate on him for it. Maybe the power of Scientology was on Cruise’s side this time again, because he seemed perfect for this role and I don’t think there was anybody else I could have thought of replacing him. Actually, maybe there is but as of right now, I don’t really care about it too much to think that hard and in-depth about it. Fact is, Cruise is great and be happy to see him kicking-ass once again.

Rosamund Pike plays the sassy, but smart defense lawyer that helps him out with the info and details of what’s really going on and has a cool, but believable piece of chemistry with him, almost to where I could really see them working together on cases in real-life. Pike is fun to watch and even though she may be a tad goofy when she tries for the whole comedy-routine, she still does a nice-job of not being lame and thankfully, not being another damsel-in-distress that needs help from Reacher, every step of the way. Even though her goofiness is saved by a strong-arch her character features, I can’t say the same about Werner Herzog in a very unusual, but inspired role as the main villain behind this whole case, known as “The Zec”. Herzog seems like he’s a perfect fit for this role and this character, had it been in an extremely campy, B-movie where he was allowed to be weird, strange, and terribly stupid in the ways he acted. But here, he just seems out-of-place and way too cartoonish for a movie that seems so set in reality, despite having a couple of scenes that defy it. Thankfully, one of his henchmen that’s played by Jai Courtney, takes over things and proves to be more of an intimidating force behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-scenes as well. Suddenly, I’m not all that worried about a new Die Hard movie and having this kid play John McClane’s son.

He's just pissed because he wasn't the one asking the questions for this movie.

He’s just pissed because he wasn’t the one asking the questions for this movie.

Adding some class to this strange bit of a characters, is non other than the likes of Robert Duvall playing a goofy, old man that has a knack for a sniper and made me realize how much I miss this damn guy showing-up in movies, Richard Jenkins as Pike’s daddy that may be on either side-of-the-fence, and David Oyelowo, as a cop that always seems to be at the right-place, at the right-time. Overall, a fine cast that definitely milks this script for all it’s worth, but it’s the action and Cruise who steal the show on this outing.

Consensus: Jack Reacher may be too goofy, too silly, and too stupid for some of the more “demanding” viewers to get through their into their heads and accept, but as for the rest of the of us who like silly, goofy, and stupid movies, then it will definitely entertain, but in a more old-school, 70’s-classic thriller-way that seems to be very reoccurring with most of our thrillers nowadays. Thank the High Heavens of Cinema for that!

8/10=Matinee!!

Yeah, they're pretty shocked too that I didn't make another Katie Holmes-reference. But Tom, on the other hand, well, he knows better. Ain't that right you sly son of a bitch?

Yeah, they’re pretty shocked too that I didn’t make another Katie Holmes-reference. But Tom, on the other hand, well, he knows better. Ain’t that right you sly son of a bitch?

Liberal Arts (2012)

Once I’m past 30, man, my life is going to suck.

Jesse (Josh Radnor), a 35-year-old college admissions officer from New York City who loves literature and language, returns to his alma mater in Ohio to attend a retirement ceremony for a beloved professor (Richard Jenkins). While there he meets nineteen-year-old girl named Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), whose love of literature thrills him. They become pen pals, among other things and realize more about their life than anything ever before.

I’m not going to sit-here and lie to all of you, because quite frankly, that’s just not how I roll my dice and I never intend on doing. So, by saying that I’m just going to state that when it comes to movies about trying to hold onto your youth and staying cool, I can’t really find much to relate to. I mean I’m 19 years old, I still go to college, I still take classes, I still drive my own car, and sadly, I still live under my parents roof. So that’s why when it comes to a story about an older-dude, trying to go back to his glory days and see what he can do with a much-younger gal, not only am I bit horrified (age-gaps in relationships bother me, I don’t know why), but I also find it hard to be able to reach out and say, “Hey, I know where you’re coming from, man.” Obviously, I’m probably not the only one who feels like this but it was just something that kept-on going throughout my head as I was watching this and what made it even weirder, was the fact that I actually liked the film for that reason. Very strange thing for me, indeed.

"Alright, well, your sisters are 3 years older than you so that's not so bad, right?"

“Alright, well, your twin-sisters are 3 years older than you so that’s not so bad, right?”

This is the sophomore-effort from writer/director Josh Radnor and I have to be frank with you, I don’t really like the guy. That’s not to say that I don’t think he has talent or isn’t funny, but I was just never a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother, and even when I did actually stop-by to check-out an episode or two, he never really came off as funny to me. He tried a bit too hard it seemed and it was almost like that TV show was going to be his only claim-to-fame. However, it seems like I am terribly wrong with that idea because the guy actually has a great talent behind-the-screen and even though I didn’t check out the guy’s first movie, I still think it’s easy to say that I look forward to seeing what this guy can do.

One of the main points about this whole flick is how people, men especially (trust me), try to play both sides of the fence when it comes to mentor-teacher relationships. They try to be hip, with it, and cool, like all of the youngsters out there, but at the same time, they can’t help themselves to throw a little bit of wisdom down there for short measure and still feel like they deserve the equality and respect because they are older and apparently, know more. I’m not saying all older-people are like this, but it’s obvious that this is how most of them feel and that’s why this movie is intriguing  because it walks a fine-line between being all about being young, once again, but at the same time, also shows you that you sort of have to embrace the fact that you’re getting older, and your glory days are sort of behind you now. It’s a very true-statement to humans and the way of life, and the way that Radnor goes about it in this flick really surprised the hell out of me, mainly because it seems believable.

Before any of you out-there begin to write this movie off as a piece of garbage because it shows a relationship between two people that are 16-years-apart from one another, don’t worry, because Radnor sort of shows how it as well. What I mean by that is that Radnor understands that this “sort of” relationship between these two people is a bit ridiculous in terms of the age-gap, but also makes it seem pretty reasonable because they actually share a lot in-common and it makes you wonder if Radnor is ever going to take that plunge into her bed, or just her brain. There is some-bit of suspense to that, but while you’re waiting, you can also just sit-back and realize that these two don’t just have to be boyf and girlf, they can actually be very, very good-friends that can help each other in the world and how to make it better for themselves. It’s a nice relationship, that is treated more as a friendship and shows you that sometimes, a man and a woman can have more of a connection between each other by sharing thoughts and ideas, rather than fluids. If, you get what I’m saying.

You know how we can tell he's having a mid-life crisis? Facial hair.

You know how we can tell he’s having a mid-life crisis? Facial hair.

Radnor’s ideas are very well thought-out and very pleasant to see play-out, in terms of his easy-going direction, but the film as a whole, just doesn’t seem to stick with you, quite as much as the scenes between Radnor and Olsen. A lot of the scenes where it’s just Radnor talking to other people about life, growing-up, and reading literature, feel like they came right from his brain and obviously from a guy that knows what he’s talking, but is also trying to sound a lot like Woody Allen but less realistic in how people actually speak. Some people here work in montages and speak as if they’ve been waiting to say these witty lines for days on end and as entertaining and funny as it may be to hear in a movie like this, it sort of comes off as a bit unrealistic. People who love literature and read about a book-a-day, would definitely have open discussions about the meanings and themes behind certain pieces of it, but still, would they really get right down to it by quoting random lines and it’s significance and meaning to actual-life as a whole? Maybe they would, I guess it all depends on the type of person you’re talking about, but here, it doesn’t really quite work and shows you that maybe Radnor has some areas he needs to work on.

However, the most believable aspect behind this whole movie is actually the friendship between Olsen and Radnor, and I think that’s mainly because their chemistry is so perfect. Olsen works perfectly as Zibby, because she has this look and act to her that seems wise beyond her years, whereas Radnor has this boyish charm to him that makes him seem like a guy that’s tired with getting old and just wants to live it up a bit. Watching them work together is great and really has you thinking about how much you can’t blame the guy for being so attracted to her in the first-place and may just have to go for the relationship, despite the 16-year age-difference between the two. Yeah, I’m a big believer in that those types of relationships just creep me out and rarely ever work but for this one, I was able to let my guard down just a tad bit and that’s why I enjoyed this film, as well as the relationship a lot more.

"To bone, or not to bone?", is the real question at-hand in this scene.

“To bone, or not to bone?”, is the real question at-hand in this scene.

Playing the aging-professor of Radnor’s is Richard Jenkins, who, once-again, gives a fabulous performance that shows the guy being the coolest and hippest old dude out there. Some of the scenes with Jenkins really struck a chord with me, since it’s obvious to see how and why somebody would get so caught-up in teaching other people all you know and it just shows you the type of skill and talent Jenkins has as an actor. Allison Janney is alright as the stand-offish professor of Radnor’s who shows up every once and awhile, and acts like a total bitch and as good as she is at playing it, it’s a bit annoying considering it’s an act she does quite-well and a bit too often for my liking. The most surprising one out of this whole cast is probably Zac Efron as the hippie who shows up on campus whenever Radnor is around, and they just chill-out, talk, and trade some soul-secrets with one another. Efron’s very good in a small-role like this and it has me happier to know that not only can this guy dance and sing, but he can also act and make his presence one that you’re happy be around. Hopefully it continues on-and-on for him, as I’ve always had hope in him, no matter how much The Lucky One still stays in my mind.

Consensus: Though it’s ideas and themes about growing-up and trying to stay cool don’t stick with you as much as they intend-to, Liberal Arts still proves that Josh Radnor is not only just a likable guy in-front of the screen, but knows how to write and direct a movie that shows him for what he used to be, wants to be, and gives us a feeling like we will soon be hitting the same mid-life crisis this guy seems to just be hitting, as of right now. Poor guy.

7/10=Rental!!

I think this is the rare instance where I say that Allison Janney is the hottest one out of the four.

I think this is the rare instance where I say that Allison Janney is the hottest one out of the four. If only Olsen lost the preppy, school-boy look.

Killing Them Softly (2012)

https://i2.wp.com/www.anomalousmaterial.com/movies/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/killing-them-softly-movie-poster-2-472x700.jpgRoberta Flack is so ironic.

Brad Pitt stars as mob hitman Jackie Cogan, who is hired to hunt down three low-level criminals (Ben Mendelshon and Scoot McNairy) who robbed a mob-protected poker game, that just so happened to be run by a top mob-boss (Ray Liotta).

I think it’s pretty clear by now that this is not the typical, shoot ’em up action-thriller everybody, as well as the trailers/posters/TV ads have all been making it out to be. It’s a thriller, that uses the suspense and actual thrilling-element of this movie in talks, discussions, and most importantly, it’s pacing. If you go into this movie expecting that, you’re going to have a hell of a time, but if you don’t, you’re going to find yourself dozing off quite a few times and wondering just when the hell somebody’s going to get their head blown-off. Trust me, it happens but you got to have some patience. Actually, quoting a Guns N Roses song would have probably been a bit better, but hey, that’s just me.

Another justice I think you would be doing this movie before-hand, is seeing writer/director’s Andrew Dominik‘s last-movie that came out a couple of years back called The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, because with that movie, you’re expecting a whole bunch of show-downs, people getting lassoed by bandits, people drinking whiskey, hookers flinging themselves around beds like pillows, and many, many trips to the local saloons. However, like this one, that movie depended more on it’s conversations between characters to really build things up and get to that point of where you actually get to see heads blown-off and feel like you just witnessed something totally, and completely awesome. Once again, you’ve got to have patience and see Dominik’s last-movie to really understand just what the hell to expect. I did both, and I feel great.

What makes this movie so entertaining is that right from the start, you know that it’s going to be full of tension and suspense but how the film goes about it is something that really caught me by surprise. Instead of going right for it, starting off with the heist and getting-on with the simple plot at-hand, we get back story  we get character development, and we actually get time to know what type of people/atmosphere we’re dealing with, and whether or not it’s exactly what we expected in the first-place. Hell, if you think this movie is going to be your typical, gangster shoot ’em up-like thriller, then you’re going to be dumbfounded once you actually realize that it’s already been 25 minutes into the movie, and we have yet to actually see the lead-character of the show.

And speaking of that lead-character of the show, Brad Pitt does an amazing job as the ruthless and toothless hitman known as Jackie Cogan. What makes Pitt so damn great and compelling in these types of roles that he chooses that are like Cogan, is that he looks and feels like this guy who just goes out there, wants whatever type of bloodshed he can get for money, and take it anyway he can, but at the same time, still be the smartest guy in the room that knows more than you may think. Because of this aspect to his character, we are always on-edge watching Pitt in every single scene he’s given because you know he has composure, you know he can play it cool, and you know that he’s not a slouch when it comes to getting the job done the right way, but you also never quite know just when the hell the switch is going to flip, and he’s going to take over anything and everything that stands in his way. Pitt is great with these types of roles and watching him play a character that was one-step ahead of everybody else around him, was just as fun to watch him, as much as it was for him to actually portray it.

Make no means though, because this is still Dominik’s movie and he still never lets you forget about it. His last movie felt like he was trying a bit too hard to go for that Malick look and feel, but here, the only type of style that I think he comes close to is the one of Stanley Kubrick, and that’s just me reaching for the stars. There’s no real style that this guy portrays and even though he may not have his own yet to where I can look at a frame or two and declare, “That, my friends, is an Andrew Dominik picture”, there is still something about this guy and the way he paces his movie’s and their stories to where he can do real-damage.

But then again, there were also these times where I felt like the guy was trying a bit too hard to be like his main character Cogan: one-step ahead of everybody else. In a way, that’s not a bad thing because it keeps us, the viewer on our toes as to what to expect next, but it also makes this movie seem like it’s biting-off more than it could possibly chew. For instance, the whole political-message is very bothersome and wasn’t as heavy-hitting as I thought, except until the very-end and everybody’s starting to spout-out some form of political exposition about how the world works, how our economy does what it does best (ruin lives, sorry too political), and how people are able to make a living (ruin lives, once again, too political). I get it, the story here of Cogan having to come in and take care of a mistake that the mob made is the mob’s own-form of capitalism, but that doesn’t mean in every single, freakin’ scene of the movie where there is a radio/TV present, that we have to hear the voices or see the faces of Obama, McCain, or George Bush. It doesn’t get that annoying, until you actually focus on it and realize that maybe Dominik should have just stayed with all of the conversations, by building-up a message and great deal of suspense, up until we get the bloody-violence, in that way and then we would have had a more clearer, understandable thriller that’s nothing but.

Then, when you actually do think about the bloody-violence, then you can’t think of anything else except for how freakin’ awesome it is. Just like in Jesse James, the violence doesn’t take over the whole story and make you feel as if you’re watching an action-epic of the highest-order, but only shows-up in short spurts in the most violent, most disturbing, and most realistic-way possible. A couple of scenes that come to my mind is one that concerns a slow-mo, build-up of a hit conducted by Cogan, and another scene where Ray Liotta gets his ass beat to a bloody pulp. The reason why it sticks-out so clear in my mind is because it’s not like what you expect from a movie like this: the guy yells, screams, and pleads for his life just like you or I would, and what’s so shocking and disturbing about this, is that the guy is a mobster-like character that shouldn’t feel pain, be scared, or even cry like a little girl. It’s bloody, ultra-violent, and very realistic in the way it portrays the pain felt for one character, and the pain we the audience feel when we watch a guy get the ever loving shit kicked-out of him. Gawd, I miss that feeling.

Speaking of Ray Liotta, this is probably the best piece of work he has done in the past-decade (that’s if we’re including Tommy Vercetti) and just goes to show you that the guy may be a mean-old, nasty mobster-dude that doesn’t take shit from anybody, but also is pretty human, too once you think about it. However, everybody else is pretty damn good too, to where you almost feel like the show can’t be his, or anybody else’s for that matter. Richard Jenkins shows up as the corporate handler who is hired to meet and talk “business” with Jackie, and does a great-job playing the ultimate square, but also a guy you sort of feel for since he is totally out of his element in terms of what there is for him to do, how, and why. Scott McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn play the two crooks that get a bit too hot-headed after the whole robbery and are both very different in their portrayals, but also seem like the two, perfect guys to come together on something like this that could really seem to go either way. Especially Mendelsohn who with this, Animal Kingdom, and The Dark Knight Rises, is playing the corrupted, evil-as-hell characters that we all see and hate in these types of movies, but yet, can’t keep our eyes off of, either.

The one that really steals the show out of the whole cast and may, just MAY, have a slight-bit chance of getting himself nominated for an Oscar this year is James Gandolfini as the old mobster that Cogan brings back to help him out on the dilemma he has at-hand. From the first-shot, you think that this is going to be Gandolfini playing, surprise, once again another Tony Soprano-like mobster, but this is the farthest thing from it. Yeah, he’s still ruthless, mean, and nasty as hell, but he also has a bit of a drinking-problem that escalates into us seeing underneath a convention we already know about in so many similar movies like this: the mobster. Like Liotta, Gandolfini’s portrayal of a mobster is subtle with his angry-emotions, but not so subtle with his sad ones, neither, and this is what culminates into the two best scenes of the whole movie and makes you feel like Gandolfini really needs to come back and bring-out quality performances like these, once again. Hell, I wouldn’t have even minded watching a whole movie where it’s just him and Pitt, shooting the shit about life, money, and crime, the way two old mobsters like to do it, and with the the two scenes of that I got here, I was happy.

Consensus: Going into this movie and expecting exactly what you see in the ads for this movie (countless shootings, crime, and cool walking scenes), then you’re going to be terribly disappointed with what the final-product of Killing Them Softly truly is: a slow-burning, tension-filled thriller that relies more on the performances, than the actual-violence that takes place itself, no matter how bloody or gruesome it is to watch.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

Barbers are definitely some cruel people.

Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) goes about the business of cutting hair with a stoic resignation. He’s stuck in a rut and has no clue how to get out. When Crane discovers that his bookkeeper wife, Doris (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with Big Dave (James Gandolfini), her boss at Nirdlinger’s department store, the gears of change start turning.

Take it from the Coen Bros. to take us back to a time that seems so simple, so clean, and so nice, and make it seem like everything other than that.

This is one of those flicks that show the Coens basically giving a little tribute out to the good old days of black and white cinema noir, and it actually feels like one that would have been made back in those days too. The cinematography is beautiful and I think it was used for a great mood because I couldn’t have expected this being filmed in anything else other than black and white. The score is also great not because it sounds cool but because it’s actually made up of a bunch of actual pieces of orchestra music that adds a lot to the dark mood as well. Technically, the Coens do a fine job here and made me feel like I needed to blow some smoke while watching it just to get in the mood.

The story itself is a pretty slow one at first, but after awhile it actually builds up to a story that you sort of get involved with. Everything here is pretty straight-forward but I couldn’t help myself wondering just what was going to happen next and what road this film was actually going to try and go down. I can’t say that this is a suspenseful thrill ride by any means, but it’s still a flick that has a story that keeps on moving on and on as it goes. It will also probably make you feel a lot better than your life because things go from bad to worse for this dude Frank, and it pretty much made me thankful for everything I have in my life. Never thought the Coens would be able to make me think that but hey, they can work wonders when they want to.

The problem with this film isn’t that it’s not good, because it’s a very good flick, it’s just that it’s very hard to actually care what happens. Yes, I did like this story and where it went with its direction but when it came to actually having some sympathy for these characters, there just wasn’t anything touching me at all. Ed, our central character, is a pretty numbed-out dude that doesn’t talk much and doesn’t really have many emotions in this flick and it’s hard to connect with somebody like that considering it seems like he doesn’t really care all that much either about what’s going on with his life and where it’s taking him. His wife, Doris, also seems like she doesn’t have much going for her life other than running around on her husband which makes it even harder for us to care and even Big Dave has dreams but even those are pretty boring and mediocre. Basically, it’s a film that you can try your hardest to like and connect to one of these characters, but in the end, it’s just going to come off as empty.

As for people that are looking for a fun time with a Coen Bros. flick because they saw ones such as ‘True Grit’ and ‘No Country For Old Men’, well then you have to look a little further than this one. The film is very slow and even though I do feel like they needed the time to actually develop these characters as well as the story, there were other times where I felt like certain scenes just ran on a little too long with nothing else but just silence. Also, the 116 minute time-limit may also add insult to injury for that as well but then again, this isn’t the Coens having a fun time.

Billy Bob Thornton is his usual self in this flick as Ed Crane (great name), which is what adds a lot to this character and film as well. Billy Bob isn’t exciting, he barely shows any emotions, he smokes in about every single frame of this flick, and he’s a character that just seems like he doesn’t care at all about anything but it’s also what makes this character work. It may have been hard to feel anything for him but I was still able to like Billy Bob playing Crane because even though we may always seem him play the same character in every flick no matter what, it still never really gets old and still seems fresh especially when he’s playing a barber.

Frances McDormand is also good as his wife, Doris, and she adds a lot of sass and coolness to a character that is pretty unlikable, only because she is committing some infidelities; James Gandolfini is pretty much here as Big Dave and not doing much else other than just being there; and Tony Shalhoub practically comes out of nowhere and steals this flick by the end of it and made me laugh a hell of a lot more than I actually expected in a dark and sad film like this.

Consensus: The Man Who Wasn’t There shows the Coens in a good-form with fine performances from the cast, nice touches for its score and camera-work, and a nice story that builds up more and more, but also has characters that you may find it harder to connect with which makes it even harder for you to care what really goes down in the first place.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Have a genre? Don’t worry, Joss Whedon will eventually eff with it.

The story centers around a group of five friends going on a quiet cabin retreat, only to scratch the surface of something so massive and horrific that they can only begin to fathom what might possibly be going on just as time quickly runs out.

In the past couple of years, the horror genre has sort of gone down the tubes with just about every other film being a carb0n-copy of another one. It can all get pretty damn annoying but that is unless you have Joss Whedon signed on to write, then you got yourselves something totally different in all of the right ways.

This is the same old stupid teenager story where a bunch of dumb, horny teenagers go out into the woods and stay in a cabin, when crazy shit starts to go d0wn and they all get knocked off one by one. That’s the generic premise we are used to getting with these films, which is what you get here in a way, but then the twists and turns come out like crazy. I don’t want to give anything away but what I will say is that certain things pop-up in the middle of the flick that changes this the way you look at this film forever. You get curve ball after curve ball here and things you wouldn’t expect to happen in a movie like this, happen and it’s all thanks to the crazy mind of Joss Whedon. It’s definitely more of a “fun” horror movie then anything else and you’ll probably be spending most of the time watching this flick, just wondering what’s going to happen next to these characters and this story itself. Basically, this plot goes anywhere and everywhere it wants to at it’s own pace and that is no problemo with me. I know all of this sounds very vague, but trust me it’s for your own safety.

What I liked most about this horror flick was not just how it’s got constant twists to it but it was also that I had a hell of a time with the whole film in general. The movie makes a lot of jokes towards itself, other horror movies, and the same old plot conventions we usually see but it’s not winking at the camera constantly, it’s actually a bit more wittier than the first 10 minutes may have you think. Essentially, it’s a horror movie that is about horror movies but doesn’t feel tired in the least bit like we have seen other spoofs start to become after the first 20 minutes. The jokes work and they actually had me laughing, which I haven’t gotten with a spoof-horror movie since ‘Scary Movie’ and maybe that’s even pushing it. I also have to say that as funny as this film may actually be, I still find plenty of other times where I really got scared by certain stuff, especially by the end. Once again giving too much away, the last act basically lets loose on everything that’s scary in the world and throws it right at your face to see which may start to surprise you by how freaky it may actually look. Now I mean I wasn’t petrified but there was definitely some moments that had me shaking up a bit in my boots in a more disturbed way really.

Maybe my biggest complaint with this whole film was how the film started to turn into this big-ass CGI bonanza that wouldn’t have been so bad if it were that the special effects were good, but instead they looked a little cheesy. This may sound like a small complaint but the film heavily relies on its CGI and special effects to get some of the creepiest and scariest stuff out there on-screen and it seems more like a B-movie than anything else. I don’t know where the budget for this one went, but it definitely was not it’s special effects.

The young cast here is all pretty good and features a couple of faces that may get very big after this, if aren’t all ready as it is. Chris Hemsworth has some likability to him as the school jock but is a lot cooler as Thor; Kristen Connolly is a nice, little cutie-eyed chick that obviously seems like she could be a lot better if here role weren’t written in such a jokey way; and Fran Kranz ends up stealing the whole show here as the stoner buddy that always has something smart and witty to say but in an annoying way either. The young cast is good, but aside from Kanz, aren’t really anything special. The other two juiciest roles here are given here to great character actors Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as….well…you’ll just have to wait and see.

Consensus: The Cabin in the Woods is definitely one of the funnest horror movies to come out in some time with it’s twisty and unpredictable writing, tongue-in-cheek humor that works, and a whole fun feel to it that will definitely not disappoint anyone whether or not you like horror movies.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Let Me In (2010)

Children are creepy and not just ones from Sweden either.

When 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) befriends his mysterious next-door neighbor, Abby (Chloe Moretz), the two outcasts form a tight-knit bond that gives Owen the courage to stand up to school bullies. But he slowly begins to suspect his new friend has a secret.

After checking out the original Swedish classic, ‘Let the Right One In‘, I got all of these people just saying I need to check this out and what not and I have to say that having director Matt Reeves (‘Cloverfield‘) didn’t really spark too much of my interest but it doesn’t do much to make me hate it anyway.

The one thing I have to say that Reeves does and he does it well is that he doesn’t try to eff around with the original, and instead gives us everything we practically saw in that one but with his own little slight takes on everything as well. Reeves creates a lot of tension within this film that got my blood really tingling and also isn’t afraid to let loose on the blood and gore when it came to the actual “action” of this film. It’s a good thing he made this flick R and didn’t try to go for a lame-o PG-13 rating, which he could have easily used as a cash grab.

The highlight of this whole film was probably my favorite car wreck I think I have ever seen in a film for a long time. Reeves keeps the camera in the back of a car, while it’s toppling over and it was a really cool thing to see because I almost felt like I was watching a video of someone on a roller-coaster, but instead I had Blue Oyster Cult playing in the background. Now adding a little bit of Blue Oyster ain’t so bad either and that scene just totally rocks.

The problem with this flick is that a lot of this is also Americanized which means instead of being a very subtle teen-horror romance there’s a lot of loud noises, driving score, and some unneeded special effects that look so bad. There is a score playing in just about every scene, just so we know that something crazy is about to go down and it was getting pretty annoying considering that it was only used to build-up tension, which it sort of did, just not as an effective way as the original did. The scares here were also pretty cheap because I constantly felt a lot of the annoying jump-scares, people jumping out of darkness, and silence-to-loudness kind of scares happen just about every time and I was less and less scared by it every time it tried to creep me out.

A lot of the scenes here that worked in the Swedish film, don’t really work all that well here because of the terrible CGI and special effects this film showed up on the screen. To put it kindly, they look cheap, and almost like they came off of a really crappy PS2 game that was around when the console first started coming out. Anytime Abby ran up a tree, attacked someone, or turned into her evil werewolf-like self, it all looked pretty crummy and although the Swedish version had its fair share of bad effects, this one had too much of them and therefore lessened my impact of the film originally.

However, as much as I may talk shit on this film I still do have to say that the story still works here even if it doesn’t feel as original as it did the first time around. The story of these two falling for each other and basically creating their own little world together, still feels genuine and beautiful without ever feeling like it was forced or taken directly from another film (which it was, but still it somehow worked).

I think the real reason why this story works so well again is because of the amazing leads they have in these roles. Kodi Smit-McPhee is very good as the silent, and sad type as Owen, and Chloe Moretz does an even better job as Abby. These two work great together and right from the beginning you can feel their chemistry just popping right off of the screen and you start to feel this little innocent and sweet love they build together. Basically, if you need a great chemistry between two young actors, just cast kids with some funky first names (Chloe and Kodi, come on!).

Richard Jenkins has about 15 lines of dialogue the whole film but is very good as the strong and silent dude who’s looking over Abby. The guy has a lot more development as a character this time and it also helps that Jenkins is just a perfect actor for the role as well. Elias Koteas is also very good as the cop who’s investigating all of these little strange murders that keep happening around town. Both aren’t really the high-lights of the story but they still show why they deserve these roles.

Consensus: Let Me In may not be as great as the Swedish classic, but it still features great performances from the cast, a surprisingly good direction from Matt Reeves, and just a great idea of not trying to mess around with the original too much but still standing on its own terms.

7/10=Rental!!