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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Robert Duvall

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)

It’s like they say, “Your best movies, are the ones that come close to killing you.” Even though, yeah, they don’t.

After making not just the Godfather Part I, but Part II in the span of a nearly two years, Francis Ford Coppola could basically do whatever the hell it is that he wanted, with as much money, with whomever, and wherever. That’s when he decides to take up adapting Heart of Darkness, the novella that had been a long passion-project of Coppola’s, but needed some extra push to get off the ground. Eventually, he got it, but in this case, it wasn’t what he, or anyone else was expecting. Needless to say, without saying too much, one lead actor gets a heart-attack, another gets recast about halfway through, one is filmed in a drunken-stooper, one lies about his age to get in the movie. But then, if you go past the usual actor stuff, you’ve also got the fact that the budget is running up the bill way more than it was supposed to, the Vietnam locals are getting pissed, the weather was absolutely awful and practically unlivable, and oh yeah, Coppola himself literally lost his mind.

Was it “method”?

The biggest joke about Hearts of Darkness would be that the resulting film of all this mayhem and madness, Apocalypse Now, turned out to be a bunch of crap that people put way too much of an effort into, for no other reason because they had to, or they thought what was right. But that’s what’s funny, because the movie turned out, dare I say it, almost perfect. All of the years spent filming, editing, and putting money into it, guess what?

At the end of the day, everyone went home happy.

But Hearts of Darkness isn’t a movie about what the final product ended up becoming, nor is it really about what everyone else thought about the movie, it’s mostly about the behind-the-scenes of everything that happened on, as well as off the set, and yeah, it’s just about as candid and as eye-opening as you can get with a documentary about so many big names and faces in Hollywood. With the assistance from Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper, believe it or not, Eleanor Coppola, Francis’ wife, is actually the perfect one to bring this table of absolute craziness to the big screen; she was, after all, there for it all, and her insight, while sometimes silly, focuses on things that probably mattered the most. While Francis was off worrying about how much fire was burning the trees down, Eleanor was worried that her husband was going to have a stroke and possibly die from all of the tension and turmoil in his life.

It’s not like she wants us to feel bad for her husband, but at the same time, she also wants to see it from more of a film-nerd’s perspective, where the control-freak director is always right for themselves, the movie, and everyone else around them. But still, just watching what happens behind-the-scenes here, and the things that we only hear small instances of, are truly insane, but draw you in even closer to the mind of Coppola, how he worked, and why he slaved away for so long to get this picture of his made and up on the big screen, for all the world to see and hopefully feast their eyes on.

It was the 70’s and it was hot, so maybe he wasn’t totally crazy.

And really, it all comes back to Coppola, someone who has become a pretty infamous figure in movie-making, only because it appears like his career has taken a huge turn downwards after he was put into debt for this project, as well as the many others to follow. For one, it’s interesting to see Coppola talk about this project, but also not think of him as a total ass; sure, he loves himself and his work, but can you blame him? The man has literally just made two of the greatest movies of all-time and was onto making another, so maybe he’s allowed to kiss his own ass, eh?

If so, it still brings up the question: How much is too much?

Eleanor and the movie as a whole, brings this point up many times and makes us think, whether we’re on his side for going so far as he did, to make sure that this movie was complete and actually worked to his vision, or, if he was just way too artistically-driven in the first place? See, it would be a problem if the movie didn’t turn out to be such a classic, but it somehow did and it makes us not just think, but wonder: Where has that same artistic integrity gone? And hell, when is it coming back?

Consensus: Eye-opening and thrilling to watch, especially if you’re a film-nerd, Hearts of Darkness will surely show you everything you need to see, hear, and understand about all of the craziness that went into making sure the final product turned into what it is seen as today.

8.5 / 10

Pictured: Cast and crew getting the hell out of Coppola’s rage.

Photos Courtesy of: Jonathan Rosenbaum

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The Judge (2014)

Usually it’s the dad bailing the son out of jail, not the other way around. But hey, I’m not from the South, so whatever!

Henry “Hank” Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a hotshot lawyer who always defends the obviously-guilty, and somehow, always ends up winning. However, his shattered personal life is starting to catch up with his successful professional-career, when he hears news of his mother’s passing. This puts him on a journey to go back to where he started from; which, in this case, would be the small town of Carlinville, Indiana where, unsurprisingly, his estranged father (Robert Duvall) is still the town’s respected judge. But see, even his personal life begins to catch up with him when, on one fateful night, the Judge supposedly runs over and kills the town degenerate. And normally, nobody would care, because the guy was a total prick, but the family does and they’re taking the Judge to court! Not to mention, they’ve equipped themselves with one of the meanest, cruelest lawyers in the world, Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton). This seems like the perfect opportunity for Hank to stand up and defend his father, but since their relationship isn’t the most ideal, he hesitates. That is, until he realizes that maybe his father needs him, and now, more than ever before for reasons that will shock and shape his life, whether he wants to accept it or not.

So while this movie seems like total Oscar-bait from the plot, to the cast, and even to the subject-matter itself (courtroom genres are usually a big plus in the eyes of the 80-90-year-old Academy voters), there’s just one big element keeping it away from making that a reality: Director David Dobkin. Sure, to some, the name may not mean much. Well, let me put it in terms to make you understand: Dobkin is the director of such hits as Wedding Crashers, the Change-UpShanghai Knights, and Fred Claus.

Judge1

“Vera Farmiga with arm-tat” is totally “slumming it”.

Yes. Fred freakin’ Claus, everybody! The movie still finds a way to pop-up in everybody’s head, even if it’s as relevant as a box of Chia Pets.

And while at least more than half of those movies are fine, entertaining-pieces of cinema, they’re mostly all, immature, R-rated comedies that make people stand up, laugh, hit themselves silly, go home, and continue on with their everyday lives, but now continuously quote “that hilarious movie they saw with their buddies last weekend”. Those are the same kinds of people that, mind you, don’t really seem like they’d be all that enthused by the Judge, even if it does have a few of those “hee hee” moments.

But then again, I can’t hate on a director who wants to actually branch-out and try something new for once. Sometimes, the most unique movies come from those creators who were pigeon-holed as being a director of one certain genre and sticking to it, and decided to tell the world to “kiss off” and do something different, regardless of how much it would set people back. Though I’m drawing blanks on a few examples, I know they’re out there! But sadly, David Dobkin’s the Judge won’t be joining that list because this is a mess, and understandably so. Dobkin is a director that’s too inclined to just throw in a poop or fart gag, so that when he has to deliver on these strong, compelling moments of drama, they don’t quite mesh so well with the many scenes we get in which we think Downey’s character has possibly hooked up with his own biological daughter.

Not only does this create a jumble between tones, but it makes you wonder what could have happened, had the Judge been given a director that’s more comfortable with both sides of the table. Because, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, there are a few scenes of drama that are well-done and make some of this material, as well as the characters, slightly interesting. But then, moments later, after this touching scene has occurred, Dobkin will make a kind-of-a-joke about how Duvall’s character is incapable of controlling his bowels. And no, I am not kidding you, some of that is actually played up for a joke and it feels oddly-placed.

And that’s pretty much how the whole film is: Sometimes interesting, sometimes not. Most of this is because Dobkin isn’t all that capable of handling drama and comedy together, and also, because his movie just gets more and more conventional as it runs on along. Which was fine because I knew it was going to turn into that after a certain while, but nearly two-and-a-half-hours of waiting till a conclusion that we can already pin-point from a mile away, is a bit too much. Especially when one has to deal with all of the rough patches Dobkin goes through in order to build up to the predictable climax.

But if anything, the Judge makes you wish this kind of high-caliber cast had been given a better movie, because mostly everybody here is good, and sometimes, trying way harder than they need to. Though Robert Downey Jr. is, essentially, playing the same snarky character we’ve seen him do since the beginning of his career, there’s something slightly refreshing in seeing it done now, as an actual person, rather than as Tony Stark, or Sherlock Holmes. Not saying that either one of those characters are bad, but if it came down to RDJ having to play human beings for the rest of his life, as opposed to multi-million-dollar franchise “names”, I’d be happy with him just being Charlie Chaplin again.

RDJ just can't handle this right now. Like OMG.

RDJ just can’t handle this right now. Like OMG.

As long as he stays away from the drugs, that is.

Same goes for Robert Duvall, an actor who, because I haven’t seen him in quite some time, totally left my mind as being a capable actor. But here he is, pushing 83 and giving a good performance as the grumpy curmudgeon that is our titled-character. Though most of the movie is Duvall growling and looking pissed, the scenes he has with Downey Jr. feel like they come from a soft spot in both of their hearts, and to me, really struck a chord. Even if the rest of the movie was manipulative, over-stuffed, over-long, jumbled, and messy, these two being on screen together and just acting their behinds off was more than enough for me.

That said, David Dobkin should just stick to hand job-gags. Those seem to work out best for him in the end.

Consensus: Despite a strong cast trying with everything each and everyone of them have got, the Judge turns out being a jumbled-up mess of comedy, drama, family-dynamics, courtroom arguments, and ill-placed jokes, all coming to a predictable end.

 5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Grrrrrrrr!"

“Grrrrrrrr!”

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Thank You For Smoking (2005)

Is smoking good for you? Go ahead and give it a taste yourself!

Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is the guy that most people consider the second-coming of Satan or a murderous flea-bag, among many other negative personifications. “Why”, may you ask? Well, he’s a lobbyist who speaks for world-wide smoking companies as they constantly get heckled by anti-cancer foundations, protesters, and above all, Senators trying to remove cigarette-usage from movie, television, books and all sorts of other media-outlets. Also, they’re trying add a warning-label on each and every pack as a way to scare every cigarette-purchaser that they will in fact die if they continue to buy and smoke tobacco. But Nick Naylor doesn’t let any of this get to him, because not only is he good at his job, but he’s one slick mofo when it comes to getting what it is that he wants, in the smoothest way possible. The only problem is that he’s finding it hard set a good and responsible for his son Joey (Cameron Bright), whom he rarely sees as is, but wants to show the bright, as well as the dark sides of corporate-America.

If any of you out there think that my opening-line was in anyway serious, then don’t be worried about my I.Q. level, because I was joking. I know; you know; parents know; dogs know; cats know; hell, practically all of us know that smoking is bad for you. If it’s not doing any damage to you now, give it 20 years or so, then you’ll start to feel the ramifications tobacco-usage. That’s not me being preachy, or even trying to sound like a dick, I’m just being honest and painfully clear. Because, let’s face it, everybody knows that cigarettes are not good for you, but does that matter? Hell no! But the that doesn’t stop half of the Earth’s population from going down to the local mini-mart and ordering a pack of Marlboro Reds, now does it?

Hell no!

It's a reunion of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes. Well, sort of.

It’s the reunion of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes finally together at last! Well, sort of.

But that’s the genius of this movie; it dives into the age-old statement that “smoking is not good for you”, and still finds a way to inject a whole bunch of humor and satire about how people can be easily conned into thinking one thing, that in ways, sometimes goes against the common-norm. Writer/director Jason Reitman gives us all of the mean, dirty, despicable and money-grubbing a-holes that we’d never want to meet in real life, but somehow, he makes them all interesting, fun-to-watch and downright believable. You could definitely see these types of people in the corporate-world; laundering money, making some dirty deals on the side, trying to spin whatever story they possibly can into a positive light and, through it all, doing everything to make a quick and easy buck. It’s America baby, and nobody plays clean when money’s involved.

What really pushes this movie over-the-edge and makes it more of an important life-lesson, than just a whole satire on the corporate-world we live in, is that it actually discusses a common-truth that all humans should hold near and dear to themselves. That common-truth being to stand-up for one’s view-point, and not always give into what everybody else is saying. Basically stick up for yourself and don’t just go along with the crowd.

Like for instance, this movie isn’t about whether or not smoking cigarettes is in fact “good” for you or not, nor is it trying to get you to consider if you should go out, buy a pack and start lighting away until the cows come home. Nope, it’s more about how people should be able to make decisions, solely based on what they want to do and whether or not they think it’s right to do. Sure, smoking isn’t good for you and you definitely shouldn’t start developing that as a habit if you know what’s best for you, but don’t be such a sheep and follow the herd. Get out there, do what you think is right for you, as well as others around, but don’t just follow the current. Go at your own flow, man.

Though “blaming the million-dollar corporations for our poor decisions” has been a societal-standard since the beginning of the first Mickey D’s, the movie tackles it head-on and gives us a wonderful protagonist, or antagonist (depending on which way you look at it), in the form of Nick Naylor as the type of guy that speaks for those who always seem to get a bad name. Do some of these big, money-grubbing corporations deserve all of the name-calling and slander in the press? Sure they do, but Nick Naylor is here to show us why we all make decisions in our lives, regardless of if we’re thinking right away. Some of the points that Naylor does make are valid (the whole “ice cream” bit will forever be a favorite of mine), and for anybody who sees him as “the villain”, is sadly mistaken. He’s the guy who knows the truth and skewers it in any way he possibly can without getting caught-up and looking like a dumb-ass. But he’s just so cool and charming, you don’t even care if he’s trying to get these smoking-companies more cash-flow, you just hope that he’s nice to those around him that matter most.

Somebody's in need of a sarsaparilla.

Looks like somebody’s in desperate need of a sarsaparilla.

Kind of strange actually, but Eckhart makes him this way, showing us that he’s not only still capable of being a bon-a-fide dick like we’re so used to seeing him be, but also able to spin it around in a way and see that he can be a nice guy, when the opportunity arises and calls on him to be so. He doesn’t always say or do the right things that may be for the betterment of everyone around him, but he does get caught in some sticky situations where he has to think what’s more important to maintain: His humanity, or his bank-account? More often than not, the latter is what he ends up falling back on the most, but when he does show sides of being a genuinely graceful dude, it goes a long way. Shame that Aaron Eckhart has really been blowing chunks at the screen as of late, but here’s to hoping that he may come back to doing commendable pieces of work for the big screen.

However though, I guess in the case of Aaron Eckhart: There’s nothing like “too many” paying gigs.

Then of course though, Eckhart isn’t the only one of this cast that shines – he just so happens to shine the most. Cameron Bright is the core of what gives this movie its “human-element”, and to watch as he and Naylor talk, get to know one another better and eventually build a bond over time, makes this more than just a “satire”; it’s actually something rather sweet and heartfelt. But still with a bunch of corporate-satire and smoking.

He’s the one who gets the most to work with though, as each and every one of these recognizable faces that show up here all do great jobs, no matter how meager or important their roles may in fact be. David Koechner and Maria Bello get some of the bigger-laughs as the two other, public spokespersons that Naylor frequently goes to dinner with; Robert Duvall constantly chews on his honking, wide-ass cigar as if it was a candy-cane and is absolutely loving every second of it; William H. Macy is playing the main State Senator who is speaking out the most against Naylor and the tobacco-companies he so proudly stands by and can’t help but be likable, underneath all of the contradictions he holds; and Sam Elliott, given what he has to do as a former spokesman for one of these tobacco-companies, injects a lot of heart, humor and surprising sadness into a story that desperately needed some to get to the heart of what this story means in the long run, and why people should at least try and stay away from cigarettes. At least try, that’s all we ask of you as a human-being.

Consensus: Thank You For Smoking is a movie in which most viewers will most likely be divided on, based solely on their political-standings are, but they can all at least come together on the fact that it’s a funny, smart, sly and sometimes heartfelt satire that takes a look at a bunch of people we don’t want to like or see in a humane-way, but actually do, in surprising ways.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

If weed every becomes legal, you know this idea will be popping up everywhere.

If weed becomes legal everywhere in the world, you know this we’l be jammed down our throats.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

The Paper (1994)

This is how we used to do it back in ’94! Papers, baby! Papers!

Two white businessmen are found dead in their car randomly in the middle of the night, and eventually leads to two young, African American teenagers getting arrested for supposedly being the culprits in this case. As soon as this news breaks out, every newspaper joint in all of the NYC area is on top of it, especially The New York Sun and one ambitious-reporter in particular: Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton). Not only does Hackett have a very pregnant wife (Marisa Tomei) at home, but he’s also got an editor (Glenn Close) that’s constantly up his ass about everything, a bigger boss (Robert Duvall) that can’t seem to get his life in check, a job-opportunity at a more prestigious newspaper, and a paranoid co-worker of his (Randy Quaid) that won’t leave him alone. On top of that, Hackett also has to find a way to break this story, and as honestly as possible. However, when you work in a business where most news is fabricated in order to make money and sell products, honesty is not as easy as it comes.

The main reason why I wanted to give this flick a try was because I too am a journalism major, will be looking for a quick writing job as soon as I get that degree, and to get the hell out of college. Maybe back in and around the time this flick was out, that could have been totally possible, but nowadays, it seems easier said then actually done. Yes, it’s not a single surprise to any one out there that newspapers are starting to go away more and more, as each and everyday goes by, and it’s a sad fact. However, it’s a fact nonetheless and still doesn’t get inspired, young writers like myself down in the dumps. Maybe once I actually get out there and start looking around for journalism jobs, then yeah, maybe I’ll get all pissed off and cynical in my own way, but for now: I remain hopeful, happy, and ready to see what comes next with my life and the career I want to have.

"Hey mom, I think this Paper movie I'm doing is going to make me a bigger star than ever before."

“Hey mom, I think this Paper movie I’m doing is going to make me a bigger star than ever before.”

Thanks to this movie, I want that career even more now. However, I just may not get it. Still got to stay realistic above all else.

Even though I have never been in a newsroom before, I still feel like Ron Howard gets the atmosphere and the mood down pretty well. Everybody in this flick is constantly moving, trying to get more information down from whomever they can receive it from, and by any means possible. Howard gives this movie a jolt right from the beginning and it never lets up, basically allowing you to feel as if you are right there as more information about this main story begins to come out, as well as more details and information about these characters as well. The movie is mainly about the breaking-news story that this paper’s trying to cover, with any shred of dignity and respect, but Howard also doesn’t let the quick pace get to us too much. This is about the people that work in the newsrooms, put their bodies and minds on the line for 24-hours-a-day, working their assess off, and just hoping that they have a good enough story that will either: a) get their story on the front-page, b) get their names noticed and more recognition, and/or c) prove to the world that they can do what they love to do, get paid for it, and also having something to show off to your buddies and family as well.

There’s not many movies out there that really celebrate that type of attribute you can have, loving the work that you do. Mainly with journalism movies that more or less show journalists for being a bunch of cad-like, a-holes that take any story they can, spin it directly on its head, and don’t ever worry about hurting any one’s reputation or feelings. The movie touches on that subject a bit, but never goes deep enough to where we hate the hell out of the profession of being a journalist, and instead, makes you want to be one even more. Then again, that’s probably just my feelings and mine alone. Most likely is, but just think about it: Wouldn’t it be so cool to get paid for writing about stories, or simply covering the news? The same news that everybody already knows by now, but still reads it just to find out something new or cool about it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me who thinks that’s rad, but so be it. I’m used to it by now.

Of course the movie does get darker and darker as it goes along, and starts to show more cracks in the relationships between all of these co-workers, and that’s where I felt like the film started to lose its balance. Not that I didn’t mind that Howard felt the need to get a little dramatic with the material, but he did it in such a way that seemed like it came from a completely, different movie altogether. One second, you have “The Keatmeister” telling somebody head-honcho from another newspaper, to “fuck off” in every which way possible, all for our pleasure and amusement, and then the next second, you have a scene of him and Glenn Close duking it out. And I don’t mean just a simple bunch of slaps and blows, I mean they really beat the shit out of each other. Came out of nowhere and although I do realize the point that Howard was trying to get across, he did it in such an over-the-top way, that it didn’t fit in at all with the rest of the frantic speed of the rest of the flick.

"Seriously? You wanna do this shit now?!?!??"

“Seriously? You wanna do this shit now?!?!??”

But keeping this movie altogether, one and for all, is non-other than “The Keatmeister” himself. Everybody loves seeing Michael Keaton pop-up in anything he so chooses nowadays, and it makes me sad to see him in stuff like this, knowing that the dude deserved so much more material than he actually got. Of course he was Batman, some say the best of all-time, but he still never got to be that household name I think we would all love and adore. Here though, he proves himself once again as a leading man, and one very capable at not only getting us to love him because he’s funny and charming, but because he also feels like a nice enough dude that will end up telling the story in the most honest way possible. The movie never goes deep enough with his character or the situation he’s been thrown into, but that doesn’t matter because Keaton is the man and makes any piece of material, shitty or not, worth watching.

The rest of the cast is pretty awesome too, and helps out the rest of the movie whenever they are called on to do so. Even though I thought her character was a bit too much of a bitch to get along with anybody, let alone fellow news-reporters, I still thought Glenn Close was good as the senior editor of the paper that didn’t quite take anybody’s shit, and also gave everybody a piece of her mind when she felt was necessary. It’s never made clear to us why her and Keaton’s character have so many problems with one another, but they make it work for the most part and it’s an underlining tension that you feel throughout the whole flick, especially when they’re in the same room together. Robert Duvall fits the role of the aging, sad owner of the newspaper like a glove and never lets you forget about his pain or to have you feel it as well. Randy Quaid is good as the paranoid buddy of Henry, even though we’ve seen him do this role about 100,000,000 times by now. And last, but certainly not least by a hundred miles away, we have Marisa Tomei as Henry’s loving, but terribly pregnant wife who wants him around more, but just can’t seem to wrap her head around the fact that he loves his job so much. Tomei is always a lovable presence to have in a flick, and despite her character’s constant-nagging, she never gets tiresome or annoying to see on screen. We always enjoy seeing her and want more.

Consensus: It may not go any deeper than saying “Journalists Rule!”, but The Paper, at least for this aspiring writer/journalist, makes you feel like you already have the job, are right there as everything’s happening, and allows you to have a good time as well.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!!

R.I.P.

R.I.P.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Payback (1999)

I miss the old days when the crowd used to cheer for the Jew-haters.

Porter (Mel Gibson) is one of those crooks that you don’t want to mess with because he’s smart, tough, quick-witted, and always a step-ahead of the baddies. But yet, somebody has still found a way to mess with him and even better: has taken $70,000 of his hard-earned cash away from him and left him for dead. However, whoever that was didn’t quite do a good job considering he’s still alive and wants revenge.

After seeing Parker a couple ways back, I never knew this but thecharacter that Jason Statham played, Parker, has been played many times before by some pretty famous faces. Faces like Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, and most recently (as recent the year 1999 can get), everybody’s favorite Jew-hater: Mel Gibson. That’s right, before it became common-practice to basically hate the guy with cold-blood, “Melodramatic Mel” was actually a movie-star, and a pretty good one at-that. Then again, you probably already know that since the guy just about kicks ass in anything he shows up in. This movie; is one of those instances. 

The movie’s tag-line reads, “Get ready to root for the bad guy”, but somehow, the guy isn’t all that bad. He’s a crook; yes. But he isn’t the crook that kills innocent people, women, children, cats, dogs, parrots, nuns, priests, etc. So, basically, he’s just a good guy that just so happens to be on the wrong side of the tracks and even worse: just so happens to be Mel Gibson (aka, everybody’s favorite action hero). And by, “favorite action hero”, I mean way back in the 80’s to the early 00’s, you know, before “the stuff” started to happen?

Anywhoo, other than all of that hooplah that nobody cares about, the flick itself is pretty damn fun and had me feeling as if I was watching an old-school crime movie, told by one of the greats. Writer/director Brian Helgeland isn’t necessarily what I would call a “great”, but the guy does know a thing or two about throwing out a solid, crime story, sprucing it up with some fancy twists and turns here and there, and allowing the guns, fights, and explosions to take their wind and keep things moving when it may fall-asleep due to a lame subplot. But it doesn’t feel forced, it feels good for the story and natural and every time the movie would go through some sort of change where a character would reveal something, or a new and crucial plot-point would somehow make it’s way to surface, I felt on-board with it all, as if I was just apart of some cruel, but fun game Helgeland had in-mind the whole time. I make it sound more sick and twisted than it really is, but trust me: you’re more than likely to have fun with this.

"Hey, your job's being a hooker. You all love flowers, right?"

“Hey, your job’s being a hooker. You all love flowers, right?”

In fact, I’d even go so far as to call this movie a “noir” of sorts as it has that cool, and slick look and feel to it, while giving it a visual-flair where everything is all grainy, as if the world these criminals live in, features people that are all color blind and can’t tell if that bottom light on the stop light is green or gray. This old feel, really made me feel like I was in for a treat, with a guy that knew the type of story he wanted to tell, how serious he wanted it to be, how goofy he wanted it to be, and what extremes he would go to ultimately have us never knowing what to expect next. Watching these crime-thrillers, you always want to never be in the clear about anything, and it’s just awesome when you finally get a movie like this to just allow you to sit down, relax, drop your brain for a bit, and also be ready to see a story goes places you didn’t expect. And even if you did expect the story to go into some places that it does, at least they do it in such a way that’s jokey-wokey, rather than all serious and unknowing. And even if they don’t do it that way: who the hell cares?!?!? It’s fun, exciting, and twisty, and just exactly what I like in my crime-thrillers. Especially from Mr. Mel Gibson himself.

Despite Porter not being all that much of an anti-hero as the promotional tools would probably have you think, Gibson is still pretty damn good at this character because he has the charm, he has the gruff look, but he has the acquired set of skills that always puts him ahead of the others around him, and never lets you lose the fact that this guy is always doing something for a reason. He’s a no-nonsense type of dude that may do something odd, strange, or typically out-of-the-ordinary, but don’t be fooled because it may just be another move that Porter has set-up for a trick in his sleeve. Gibson, before he was out yelling and howling at Jews and female cops, was actually a pretty cool and sly dude that people liked and cheered-on in movies and if you miss any ounce of that thrill, then definitely see this movie because it is Mel Gibson in full-effect here. For better, or for worse, depending on wherever the hell you stand. You can probably tell where I stand, and I’m staying there. Me, and Jodie Foster.

"Take this, JEWS!!"

“This is for killing Christ, Jews!!”

The rest of the cast is filled to the core with the likes of people you have all seen before and like, you just don’t know it yet. Maria Bello is always a great actress no matter what the material it is that she’s given and she’s good here as Porter’s love-interest, but feels a bit too much like a weak piece of service, the way her character and her plot brings down everything else. Granted, she does bring a nice level of action and excitement into the story when you least expect it, but all of the scenes with her and Gibson just had me taking a ticket to snoozeville, and hoping to come back to life before it was too late. Lucy Liu shows-up in one of her earliest roles as an S&M call girl that beats the shit out of guys, gets it right back, and does it all for the pleasure and money. It’s also very, very stereotypical but hey, I guess Lucy needed some way to get her foot in the door. There are others here, like Gregg Henry as the main chump who betrays Porter; David Paymer as a snarky, cab-driver that made me want to punch him square in nose (unintentionally and intentionally); and Kris Kristofferson as a big, bad mob boss that Porter ‘effs with by the end, and poses the biggest and most worthwhile threat of all. Everybody’s good and adds a little som som to the proceeds, but it’s Gibson’s show and he takes over. Big-time, bitches.

Consensus: Payback is a routine thriller that doesn’t have a whole bunch of new tricks to show on-display, but is always a blast to watch because of it’s twists, action, and utter coolness from the script, and Gibson himself.

7 / 10 = Rental!! 

Well, at least she got Kill Bill out of the deal.

Well, at least she got Kill Bill out of the deal.

Get Low (2010)

Lil’ Jon should have at least scored the soundtrack, if anything.

For years, townsfolk have been terrified of the backwoods recluse known as Felix Bush (Robert Duvall). Then, one day, Felix rides to town with a shotgun and a wad of cash, saying he wants to buy a funeral. It’s not your usual funeral for the dead Felix wants. On the contrary, he wants a “living funeral,” in which anyone who ever had heard a story about him will come to tell it, while he takes it all in.

Simple movies are never that bad, and when you have an idea about a dude planning a living-funeral, it makes a simple movie seem pretty cool, yet still simple. Director Aaron Schneider definitely knows the type of material he’s working with as he sets the mood, sets the pace, sets the characters, and sets the ideas of what we come to expect with movies like these, but in the end, they are all simple and for some, that may not be so bad, but for me, it is. Well, sort of.

See, as much as I liked this flick and felt like it delivered on what it was going for, I also feel like a lot of what could have really hit me hard here, just didn’t. For instance, the script is pretty weak whereas not only does it seem like these people do the usual, “talk-like-a-bunch-of-goofy-Southerners”-speak, but they also try too hard to make people laugh and none of it ever feels like actual humor. I mean, yeah, watching a hermit who lives out in the middle of the woods, invite a dude from the town in for a nice pot of rabbit can be a tad humorous  but it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t seen before and I think that’s what the deal is with this whole film.

We never get to see anything new or awesome that we haven’t already seen done before, and even worse, the flick doesn’t really bring much to the table to distract you, anyway. The scenery definitely looks good and has you feel as if you are in the South during this time-period, but that’s pretty much it. You can have a movie that looks all nice and dandy, but if you don’t have anything else to make up for it, then I just lose interest. However, thanks to a cast like this, I was paying attention enough times to relatively-enjoy myself. Not fully or totally, but relatively and I think that’s better than not enjoying myself.

Bill Murray is always a blast to watch in anything he does and his performance as the greedy, funeral parlor-owner is no different. His contemporary way-of-speaking definitely seemed a bit distracting for the first five-minutes of him on-screen, but as time went on, I just let it slide and love every-singe-bit of Murray’s performance and some may be surprised to know that he’s not the most hilarious dude in the movie. Murray does have the occasional zinger here and there for good sport, but he actually has an interesting dramatic arch that forms a dynamic between him and Duvall and it continues to go on through the whole movie. I don’t want to say that I loved the hell out of Murray, but I can say that the guy was a good character and showed that he can always balance out sleazy, humorous  and likable, all at the same time.

"Wanna see my dead squirrel collection?"

“Wanna see my dead squirrel collection?”

Playing his lackey-of-sorts is Lucas Black, who is obviously still trying to have everybody forget his days in Sling Blade, but no need to worry, because the guy’s actually a solid actor as a grown-up. Granted, when he is side-by-side with heavyweights like Duvall and Murray, he definitely seems like the weak-link, but when he’s doing his own thing and that’s just about it: he’s good with it. I definitely would like to see this guy step-away from the dirty South and try his best with any other accent but for the most part, he’s fine with his own native tongue and I don’t think playing a Bawstan gangster would be the next best thing for him. Although, it’d be fun to see him try at it.

Sissy Spacek plays Duvall’s former-fling and as she gets older, seems to not only get more beautiful, but also even better as an actress. Seriously, I thought she was just going to be one of those females that showed-up and bitched about her life and why it never amounted to everything she wanted, but the gal actually has a nice arch to her as well, and it’s great to see the scenes with her and Duvall cause you can tell that there’s something powerfully and genuinely felt between the two, but you just don’t know what. Spacek never seems to age and as time goes on, she still knows how to deliver and that’s so great to see from a living legend like herself.

Then, of course, there is the one, the only, the Grizzly Adams-look alike himself: Robert Duvall. Duvall is such a classic actor, that roles like these where all he has to do is grunt, say weird things, and be his typical-self, he makes it so good that it almost seems like he’s not acting. After awhile, you start to forget that it’s Duvall and take him in as this strange, weird old man, and yet, you are never scared of him. You feel like he’s a good guy at his core and that whatever he did, no matter how disturbing or brutal it may have been, that he’s still a nice guy that deserves to have people around him. No matter what type of character Duvall goes for, he’s always good at it, and always knows how to make us give two shits about the guy, even if he may be a bit mysterious in his own ways.

Bill Murray, probably doing his best John Waters-look he could get himself to actually go through with.

Bill Murray, probably doing his best John Waters-look he could get himself to actually go through with.

However, once you get to thinking about the whole mystery of this flick and what it actually ends up being, then you start to feel a bit disappointed. Without spoiling the last twenty-minutes of the movie, Duvall finally gets a chance to break the ice and tell everybody what he’s been hiding-0ut for, for so long and the kind of effect that it has had on his life. Throughout the whole movie, I was ready to see what it was as each and every single little clue, came-up to the forefront and had me guessing a bit more. It gave what could be considered this simple, character-study a nice deal of mystery and suspense to it that had me playing-along for awhile, that is, until the actual “reveal” came out and ended on a total whimper.

It’s not the fact that what Duvall ends-up telling us is what’s a bummer, it’s that you just don’t really care and see how a guy could leave the rest of civilization for a thing like that. I guess when you take guilt and memory into consideration, then yeah, it could definitely eat you up inside, but leaving the people you know and may possibly love, to go out into the far woods, break logs, eat animal stew, walk around with a shotgun, hunt, and chase little kids off your property, doesn’t seem all that reasonable. It sort of made me feel like the flick had the central idea and premise, it had the characters, and it had the setting, but the most important factor of them all, the ultimate reveal, was something that they just didn’t have and felt like they just made it up as they went along. And if they did have it on, way before filming began, then when it actually came to filming this movie, they didn’t have a firm enough grasp to really make us care enough or feel like we are glad we spent so much time of our lives with these characters and with this story.

Consensus: Benefiting from a strong-as-hell cast, Get Low definitely has moments that keep you watching, despite the slow pace, but doesn’t have the best script in the world and that shows, especially when you take into consideration the final twist that gives you the feeling that this flick sort of lost itself, as it tugged along.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Give me a one-blade. All around."

“Give me a one-blade. All around.”

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?

Apocalypse Now (1979)

War is hell. Especially when you’re dropping acid.

This film tracks the journey of Captain Benjamin L Willard (Martin Sheen), a USA Army Intelligence Officer sent on a hazardous mission up river into Cambodia to terminate “with extreme prejudice” American renegade Colonel Walter E Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has spun out of control and out of his mind. What Willard has to go through in order to get to Kurtz is unlike any other.

Jesus H. Christ. Where do I begin with this one? Well to start, I should say that this isn’t the first time I ever saw this movie, or even the first time I ever reviewed this movie. Confused as to why I’m doing a total double-take? Well, the first time I watched this flick I wasn’t as fully into it as I should have been and my review at that time (along with many others), come off as very lazy to the point of where it seemed like I was reading off of Rotten Tomatoes and piecing them altogether. Trust me, that’s not what I did but if you go back and read it, you’ll think it by all of the jibber-jabber that I typed. But after checking it out for the second time, I finally realized the beauty and the ugliness that lies behind this film but I said it once and I will say it again: this film is somewhat overrated.

Anybody who has ever done research about this film probably heard about how director Francis Ford Coppola literally went to hell in pre-production just to get this film done in his way (it’s actually the subject of a documentary, one that I need to still see), and thank heavens for that because this film would have not worked without his direction. Seriously, no way in hell would it have. What catches your eye right from the start is the beautiful, but deadly images of a Cambodian jungle being blown up to pieces, all played to a tune from The Doors. It’s the perfect combination of a dark song and a dark image coming together and starting this baby perfectly right off the bat, and it gets you ready for what’s about to come and that is pure, utter craziness that’s all from the point-of-view from Coppola.

Let me just say that this film is probably one of the more beautiful ones I have ever seen in my entire life. I don’t know how Coppola got some of the shots that he did, but the long, sweeping shots of helicopters blowing shit up to the tune of Wagner still sticks in my mind every time I think about this film and the beauty it has. Oh, and there’s also the famous bridge blowing up scene where the only source of light throughout the whole scene is just fireworks and gun shots being lift-off in the sky. But regardless of what specific scene I’m talking about, there’s something inventive Coppola does with the colors in his film and it’s just that he constantly mixes them with every new frame. One shot you got purple, the next you got yellow, the next you got red, the next you got orange, and so on and so forth. Coppola has a great eye for colors and how they convey moods for a film and that’s what really caught my eye every time with every shot. When you look at this film and the way that it’s shot, you know that you have to give Coppola enough credit for that but that’s not all he does that makes this film work. No sireee!

The whole general story of this flick starts off pretty strange, but only gets worse after that whole “Wagner sequence”. We start to see these soldiers go across Vietnam running into other soldiers that are either completely insane, or have no guidance whatsoever, or run into a bunch of innocent Vietnamese that are just trying to make it across without getting killed or hurt, or just another bunch of people that keep on making this film tick and tick away some more. There are no sunshine and peachy days with these people that we soon meet on this “trip”, if you will, and they automatically shock and compel you every time somebody new shows up. This is fairly one of the strangest films of all-time, with characters that only make it so, but it’s all there for a reason and that’s to show you the type of effect the war has on people from all different sides of it.

Not once do we see the enemy from their point-of-view, or do we ever really see them up-close-and-personal. Instead, we get to see plenty of the American soldiers that are fighting against them and just how much of a terrible toll this isolation and destruction is taking on their bodies, on their minds, and on their lives as well. This is all some scary shit that we have seen before in anti-war flicks of the same nature, but never this disturbing to the point of where you really feel like it’s about to get bad. Coppola gives us the images to really stick in our heads, but he also gives us the situations and characters to think about and how all war, brings pain and misery no matter whichever way you make it out to be.

However, you heard me going on and on about this film but the one question in your head still has to be left there thinking, “Just what the hell does this cat think is so overrated about this movie, because all he’s doing is having orgasms over it?”. Well, have no fear because here’s the answer to exactly why I think so: not as much character development as there should have been. That’s right, in this whole 2 hour and 30 minute movie, we get plenty of crazy and bizarre-o characters that pop in-and-out and provide us with a lot of philosophical shit to chew on for the time-being, but when it came to the main players of the story, I found it very hard to care for.

Let me give you the prime example of this flick, and that is Martin Sheen‘s character, Captain Benjamin L Willard. Willard is a very confused fellow that seems like he has no motivation for this duty he has to do, other than the fact that he literally had nothing else to do and was just assigned to it. We see Willard go throughout the whole war, meet up with new characters that eff his mind up as much as it effed mine up, challenge what he thinks is suitable of the war, and teach him some new things about life that he never once realized. Problem is, I think I’m looking into that a little bit too much because we never get much from this Willard guy, other than a very cold and intimidating stare from Sheen. Don’t get me wrong, Sheen does an amazing job with this role and handles the lead with such ease and perfection, but he’s not given much to work with outside of just looking pissed and barely saying anything. All of his motivations and convictions feel real, it was just that we don’t really know what to think about him since the guy is so damn stern the whole time and barely loosens up with the exception of a couple of scenes where he actually cracks a smile.

Everybody else kind of suffers from the same thing, but that doesn’t matter as much because of the awards-caliber performances they give as well. Robert Duvall is a sensation to watch as the hip, fun, and cool as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. Of course everybody knows the famous “Napalm” line that Duvall utters in this film but honestly, how can you not love that line as well as this dude’s charisma? The whole film is essentially one, big downer of a movie and Duvall brings a whole bunch of comedic relief to the film that makes you appreciate him a whole lot more once he’s out of the film for good but you never forget one of the lines he says, and trust me, it’s not the “Napalm” one either. You’ll see.

Then of course, you got Marlon Brando who caused all types of shit (as usual) on the set of this film by showing up overweight, needy for money, and dicking everybody around like he normally does. However, it’s kind of hard to be mad at him for something like that especially when he gives off such a commanding but brief performance as Colonel Walter E Kurtz. As soon as Brando shows up, the film takes a much darker turn, which I thought wasn’t even possible, but once I started hearing all of the shit Kurtz discusses, then I realized it was. Brando hits like a wrecking ball in these types of roles and his small role here as Kurtz is no different and you can’t help but just wait, and wait for him to show up as soon as you see his picture-perfect face within the first 10 minutes.

Also, be on the lookout for plenty of other supporting performances from people you obviously recognize, but other’s, you don’t by how young they are. Especially a very young Laurence Fishburne, who deserves major props for being 14-years old in this film and still not getting blown out of the water with the type of talent they have on-display here. Nice going Morpheus!

Consensus: While it’s not the pitch-perfect masterpiece so many people laud it as being, Apocalypse Now is still a powerhouse of a film to watch, mainly because of the inspired direction from Coppola that pulls out all of the stops, awesome performances from this wide ensemble, and plenty of themes and moral issues to chew on about the war and all of the misery it brings to those involved.

9/10=Full Price!!

Bullitt (1968)

Mustangs are hawt.

Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen, who serves as the prototype for every movie cop who refuses to play by the book) must babysit a gangster for 48 hours. But when hit men snuff the witness, Bullitt won’t be stopped in his quest for vengeance.

All I have been hearing about this movie for the past year is that the car chase is awesome. Hell, anytime you mention the flick itself, the car chase is always brought up. It is brought up with good reason but maybe that’s just to escape the rest of the flick.

Director Peter Yates does gain some points by making this a very simple but fun thriller. There isn’t really anything new to be seen here other than two or three murders, a car chase, and a whole bunch of other crazy and mysterious ish going on but Yates isn’t trying to blow our minds. Yates has a very cold tone to this film that makes a whole lot more tension then there really is beneath the surface.

Where this film sort of lost me was that it’s a crime thriller where there is barely any thrilling aspects at all. Yes of course we get a couple of shootings and that car chase scene, but other than that we get a bunch of scenes dedicated to dudes waiting around for something to happen like another piece of evidence to pop up or for the main politician dude to show up so he can bother the hell more out of Bullitt. It’s a simple story, which I liked, but Yates doesn’t really find anything fun or exciting to do with it other than just meander along at a very snailish-like pace. I know I’m going to piss off a lot of peeps out there when I say this but this film actually had me a bit bored at times and even though I really tried my hardest to stop my mind from wandering off, it kept on going back to the thoughts in my head of ‘Drive’ and Ryan Gosling, and just how cool he was in that movie.

What also was a bit annoying was how the film tried to dive a bit deeper into this main character by showing plenty of scenes with his lady friend that nobody, not even him, really cared about in the first place. It’s always good to have a little bit of development to your character so that they can actually feel more human than anybody else in the film, but here, they keep on showing his squeeze trying to bring his thoughts out of him and hear what he’s thinking. It was annoying every time she was on-screen, which is why I didn’t even understand why she was around in the first place, but it was also lame considering that Bullitt was obviously a character that didn’t have any time for that play-time shit. Bullitt. He’s a man amongst men.

Instead of avoiding it this whole review, I think it’s pretty safe to come clear and say that the car chase is pretty damn awesome. This is definitely one of the most iconic car chases of all-time and with good reason because it’s so simple and realistic, but yet so damn cool at the same time. The cool thing about this scene is that it’s filmed in only the sounds the car makes whether it’s accelerating, stopping, or hitting the edge of something it’s not supposed to in the first place. That means there’s no slow-mo affect, no bass-bumping soundtrack that makes it seem like your speakers are about to blow out, and no lame-o side talk from characters just in order to sound witty and hip with it. It’s a pretty straight-forward car chase that relies on cool camera placement and realistic fun, which worked for me and it’s a real surprise that the death rate in car races didn’t increase back in 1968 when the flick first came out. Definitely one of the biggest high-lights of this whole film and worth the wait if you ask me.

The reason why this car chase is as good as it is, is also because of the man who was doing all of the stunts himself, none other than Mr. Steve McQueen himself as Bullitt. McQueen is a cool as hell actor that makes it seem like he could be one of those dudes you can share a nice couple of brewskies with, but then also seems like the kind of dude that would also kick your ass in a second if you said anything weird to him. The whole film he carries this cool, calm, and very cold expression to his face and commands just about every scene with his presence, which makes this very shrill and mysterious character even cooler. Gotta check out more Steve McQueen flicks in the future, that’s for damn sure. I also have to give some little brownie points to this flick for also including a small role from a much younger Robert Duvall and Robert Vaughn who’s a huge dick that I just wanted to see get his face knocked in by Bullitt himself.

Consensus: The car chase is iconic and McQueen definitely provides a lot more coolness to his character than expected, but Bullitt is just a very overrated flick that has its moments, but is also very slow, if at times, boring, with it’s very simple premise that goes exactly where you think it would, with barely any real surprises. Please don’t hate me people, please don’t!

7/10=Rental!!

John Q (2002)

I wonder if my daddy would hold up a hospital for me.

Blue-collar worker John Q. (Denzel Washington) finds that his meager insurance won’t cover his son’s heart transplant, so he holds a hospital emergency room hostage until doctors agree to perform the surgery. Meanwhile, gung ho police chief Gus Monroe (Ray Liotta) and hostage negotiator Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall) try to diffuse the situation amid a media frenzy.

Well, you know from the Propaganda that John Q is a “good man vs the system” flick. The twist comes from the lengths to which John Q is willing to go.And I must say that a lot of this here works, but then a lot of it doesn’t.

The whole film I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what just was going to happen next. I liked how this was just an ordinary man, who one day loses control, because nobody will do anything about his son’s soon arrival of death. But beneath this suspense of what is going to happen next, there’s actually a very sweet theme. The film shows the drastic measure this father would do for his son, and there are plenty of scenes where we can’t help but root for John Q, because we know how we feel for a loved one and who knows what we would do to keep them alive.

There are also plenty of social messages speaking about the flaws within the American health care system, and their brought up well, but the problem is that director Nick Cassavetes isn’t letting us decide our own opinions and how feel about this for ourselves, he’s more or less, blatantly telling us what we should think. I didn’t like how they made these doctors seem like money-hungry assholes, because it’s just the world we live in. Money is money. I agree that the health care system is messed up, but blaming certain individuals just isn’t right, and won’t get anybody anywhere.

Despite these problems, Denzel Washington takes this whole film over in every way he can. Every chance Washington gets to show us this human being, he delivers every single emotion that this guy has. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just a guy who’s struck in a rut and will not bury his son. The film has his back the whole way, and with Denzel playing John Q., I did as well. The supporting is filled with many good stars as well. I liked seeing Ray Liotta and Robert Duvall play off each other every chance they got as the two cops trying to handle this situation. Anne Heche and James Woods are also very good, as well as sometimes evil as the two doctors here. Last but certainly not least, Kimberly Elise is absolutely marvelous as John Q’s wife, who does not once back down from a fight, and will not let her son die.

Consensus: John Q. benefits from great performances from the cast, especially Denzel Washington, but tells us what we should think about the American health care system too much, and is a little too messy. However, you will still like what you see by the end hopefully.

6.5/10=Rental!!

We Own the Night (2007)

Marky Mark and Johnny Cash fighting off crime together!

Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) manages a hot New York City nightclub, while his estranged brother, Joseph (Mark Wahlberg), has followed in their policeman father’s footsteps. But the two are reunited by dealings with the Russian mafia, which has a foothold in Bobby’s business. As Joseph puts pressure on the mob, its members turn the screws on Bobby.

I love cop films. Not actual cops, just the film’s that have to do with them. I just love cop films that can give me a good story, some nice acting, and fun action. This film is sort of like that.

This is the third film from writer/director James Gray, and he does a great job of keeping the pace going, as well as the tension within this story. Gray does a great job of going along with this slow pace enough to build up a huge amount of tension, to where when the action starts going down, it’s just insane. I also must add that there are a couple of action scenes here that are so perfectly filmed, that they really had me on the edge of my seat.

The one problem with this film is that the script starts to delve into some predictable places. To be honest, I don’t mind seeing something that isn’t crazy new or original, as long as it keeps me interested, but this film is nothing new from the cop genre film. I didn’t think the writing was as terrible as others felt but I just felt like it could have been better.

Also, the film was going so well for awhile until that last act came up, and they just sort of didn’t know what to do with it. I was having a great time following this story, the action, and the constant tense feeling this film gave me, and then by the end, something just happens where the story starts to lose control of itself and gets very predictable. This had me disappointed because the first couple of acts were good, which had me getting ready for an awesome ending, but instead, it was just pretty anti-climactic and nothing special.

I think Joaquin Phoenix took the role of Bobby Green because he knew he was going to be in every single scene here, and I’m not pissed that he was. Phoenix is awesome here as Green and shows a lot of depth into a character that needed it for us to actually stand behind him, and believe in everything he was doing. This performance sort of makes me forget that dumb shit he did in I’m Still Here. Mark Wahlberg does a good job as Joseph, and although isn’t in this much, still does not refuse to bring depth to his character. Eva Mendes is smoking hot in this film, but also very good and shows just why she is more than just a nice body, she can actually act it all out. Robert Duvall also does a very good job as Bert, and although isn’t in it as much, still does bring that signature cool old guy feel he brings to every role.

Consensus: We Own the Night is well-acted, and very suspenseful with it’s tense direction from James Gray, but starts to fall into predictable territory by the last act, and started to lose me and less as the film went on.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Crazy Heart (2009)

The Wrestler, if Randy “Ram” Robinson played the guitar.

When reporter Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) interviews Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) — an alcoholic, seen-better-days country music legend — they connect, and the hard-living crooner sees a possible saving grace in a life with Jean and her young son. But can he leave behind an existence playing in the shadow of Tommy (Colin Farrell), the upstart kid he once mentored?

This was a film that back in the day, I didn’t really appreciate so much. But thanks to HBO, I thought why the hell not! But still, not much is that different since the first time around.

The whole story here is pretty generic. It all starts off as this old, has-been entertainer, who drinks a lot, treats his guitar better than his women, and doesn’t seem to make any good choice. However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel because he soon finds someone that he loves and then his life starts to look up. But all of this is pretty predictable, and you can’t help but know throughout the whole film, just how this film is going to turn out. I’ve seen this story time and time before, and although this wasn’t as bad as others, I still found myself a little annoyed with nothing different here.

First time writer/director Scott Cooper does an alright job here in his debut flick, but you can tell it’s a rookie behind that camera. I like how Cooper just let the music and the story speak for itself, but the film doesn’t really do much else. The pace is very uneven with some parts being actually emotionally raw, and then others terribly cliche. I wish the film did more interesting things with this familiar premise, but it was decent at times.

Also, I’m not a huge lover of country music, but I must say this film actually had me tapping my feet to the country music here. I liked how a lot of the real stars in this movie did their own voices for this film, and they actually all sound good. There are some good songs that work, and might just have you humming the tune when it’s over. I know I was.

The real highlight of this film here is that man up top. Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake here and is basically outstanding. Bridges plays Bad Blake with all that signature coolness that he has, but also with a great emotional depth into his character that has you actually believe that this guy is as messed up as he’ll have you believe. He can be an asshole, with his non-stop drinking, but we are still somehow rooting for him all the way throughout. I was glad that Cooper kept the film on him basically the whole time, cause without him, I don’t think I would have been to get through certain scenes. Bridges deserved that Oscar not only for this, but for also the legend that he really and truly is.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is good here as Jean, but her character is almost too sensible to fall for an old, washed-up drunk like Blake. It’s not to say her performance isn’t good here, because she is very strong, but there’s just not enough in this script to have you believe that she could actually falls for this guy, it happens almost way too fast. Also, that age gap between them, was a little too creepy for me to watch sometimes. There’s also some nice little side spots from Robert Duvall, and randomly Colin Farrell. This was really surprising to see him here, because I just thought it was an odd choice for a country singer/superstar, but he does it well, and actually has a good voice for the music here.

Consensus: The story is very generic, and times a little too unbelievable but the rich performances, especially from Jeff Bridges, and the awesome country music, make Crazy Heart an uneven, but ultimately satisfying story.

7/10=Rental!!

Colors (1988)

Time has not treated this movie well.

Veteran cop Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) has nothing but contempt for his new partner, fiery rookie Danny McGavin (Sean Penn). But he comes to appreciate Danny as they patrol the mean streets of East Los Angeles, where a gang war between the Crips and Bloods is escalating.

The film is directed by Dennis Hopper, yes, that Dennis Hopper. Even though he is an actor directing a cop film, he still doesn’t hit the right note when it comes to the writing. For me, I felt like it was way too corny and just annoying listening to these guys cry on about their lives and how they want it to change, yaddda yaddda yaddda, just beat up the bad guys.

I liked Hopper’s direction, because we get to understand how these gang members, communicate, make deals, and well, kick some ass. But, I feel like every story from thhe members were the same thing. They were all highly cliched, talking in this sort of crazy jive talk, and never given anything different other than these one-note assholes.

Probably the best thing in this movie has to be the performances from Penn and Duvall. Watching these two on-screen was a real treat, because both equally showed off their great acting skills, equally. Penn is as usual doing his yelling, like he does in almost every movie. Duvall is totally bad-ass in this film, showing a side of him we never rarely see, while not forgetting to lay the occasionally whoop down on some of them bitch ass gang members. The two interact like a married couple, and I think that’s the real art of the film, is when these two are together.

Consensus: Colors has an inspired direction from Hopper, and great acting from Penn and Duvall, but just can’t get by its terrible script, and formulaic ways.

5/10=Rental!!!

Apocalypse Now (1979)

One of those trippy war films.

Francis Ford Coppola’s epic adapts Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to the Vietnam War, where special operations Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) must travel deep into the Cambodian jungle to locate and kill the mysterious — and insane — Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

The one thing right away you will notice about this film is that it is not your typical war film. And that is a good thing, but also a bad thing.

The best part of the film is just the amazing visuals that inhabit this movie from start to finish. The vibrant colors that Ford Coppola use, especially at the end, all convey a sort of emotion that nothing is right and you are in hell where there is no way out.

The film is a lot more trippier because its also about the haunting fear of the war. I liked this part and yet I thought it was pretty much goofy. One reason was because I feel like there were times where the film could have succeeded with being a natural war film with nice war scenes, but instead gets into this weird world by the end of the film that we really have no idea about and its kind of freaky, but also unrealistic.

I have to give most of the credit to director Ford Coppola who basically directs this film with sure power and makes sure no detail is left out. The way he lights his scenes, and makes them look is beautiful, but just the overall setting especially the one helicopter sequence which really shows some great film making. Ford Coppola gives you this sense of madness that is going around at this time, to a point where you feel as your going mad with these soldiers as well.

The young cast is awesome here with recognizable faces, but not so much of recognizable performances. Sheen is the fore-front of this film and brings out a lot of craziness with his character, but doesn’t get too nuts and stays sane most of the time. It was funny to see all these performances from all the actors so young like Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, and a great Robert Duvall. But the best here that will leave a mark on you at the end of the film is the always great Marlon Brando. The whole movie is basically all about him waiting to be seen and the one scene when him and Sheen finally meet is just shot so perfectly, and after that Brando has a short monologue which is just so perfectly delivered gave him so much more gratitude by the end.

Consensus: Apocalypse Now is not your typical war film, but has a fearless direction from Ford Coppola, who gives us these beautiful colors on-screen, a haunting setting, and brings out great performances from its young cast.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

The Road (2009)

After reading the novel over the summer, finally got to seeing this.

In the near future, the world has been virtually destroyed. From the ash-covered, post-apocalyptic remains of Appalachia, the Father (Viggo Mortensen) and Son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) take to the road in search of a better life. The Father’s health is failing, lending urgency to a journey impeded by nomadic bands of cannibalistic humans.

The Road is a film, much like the Cormac McCarthy novel, that is incredibly bleak and depressing. It is set in a world that is just full of disaster and death, and with having a son-father duo in the middle of it made it all the more emotional.

The set pieces really do look great here as I would have imagined. Director John hillcoat chose not to use CGI for the world which is a lot better considering it makes the disaster itself a lot more genuine with its look. Also, the film thankfully doesn’t tell us what happened at all to the world when the disasters started. This allows you to add your own horrific apacolypse happenings in your mind, and from what I was imagining was quite freaky.

However, I felt that way too many times Hillcoat was trying way too hard to win a bunch of Oscars. By putting all these little heart-warming scenes, and over direction at points, I didn’t feel the heart and nature of the novel come out in this film.

The film is bleak but not quite bleak enough. I felt like it was just going through the motions of when and how bleak and depressing it had to be. I feel like their giving the audience a lot much more of an easier time to sink all this time in, and not be quite true the heart and soul of the novel.

Mortensen is spectacular in this role as the dad here. He shows that he can handle a movie where there are barely any other humans, and make it seem believable. Kodi Smit-McPhee is surprisingly very well here as the son, as you can feel the confusion but also the despair of this poor child in his performance.

Consensus: The Road benefits from the commitment to the Cormac McCarthy novel, with powerful performances from its cast, but doesn’t quite capture the soul of the novel and feels like its just reading the letters.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Falling Down (1993)

Michael Douglas can be one crazy son of a bitch!

Bill Foster (Michael Douglas) is having a very bad day: He’s been fired from his job, gets stuck in a traffic jam and is forced to walk through the sizzling L.A. streets. As the obstacles mount and his temper frays, Foster begins lashing out at society’s injustices. Joel Schumacher’s feature also stars Robert Duvall as an overzealous cop who gets wind of Foster’s near-psychotic rampage and sets out to bring him down.

Many people will confuse Falling Down with a typical “revenge” movie, similar to the popular Death Wish series and other vigilante movies. This is a huge mistake, as Falling Down has a much darker, uncomfortable feel than Charles Bronson taking out his neighborhood.

The film isn’t all just about Douglas going around killing people, as more as it is about the case to get him. I still think they could have dove more into the person of who Douglas plays instead of this white suburban guy fed up with the economy.

Some parts of this movie are genuinely funny. The script isn’t all that rich with wit and detail, but when it wants to bring out some humor it actually does quite well, which could actually categorize it as a dark comedy.

The cliches are a little out there in this film as well. You, as usual, have the cop that’s on his last day of the job and the mad man he is trying to catch. Both parts of the story don’t really quite jell together as well since Douglas’ scenes are funny and exciting, while Duvall’s scenes are boring and dull. I just wish more and more time was devoted to Douglas since he did seem like the center piece of the story.

Douglas does give one of his most unusual performances of his career in this. He’s crazy, pissed off, and most of all very tragic. This guy has thrown his whole life away, and some times when you see him its really actually sad of how pathetic and delusional he actually is, which makes him a better character than some people give him, and Douglas plays him so well.

Consensus: Falling Down is darkly funny, very well-acted by Douglas, and not your usual vigilante film, but has many cliches, and not enough screen time devoted to Douglas.

6/10=Rental!!