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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Sally Hawkins

Paddington 2 (2018)

Marmalade and bears may just save 2018.

Paddington (Ben Whishaw) has officially settled in with the Brown family and finds himself enjoying all aspects of life. However, he still wants to bring his Aunt Lucy to England, so she can see just what he’s been up to all of these years and why it’s such a blast. Problem is, it’s a lot of money for Aunt Lucy to make it all the way out to England from wherever the hell she is, so Paddington has to save up and do whatever he can to get her there. His plans change, however, when he’s framed for a stolen pop-up book, arrested, and thrown into jail. While the Brown family knows that sweet Paddington would never do such a thing, they do their best to investigate the cover-up and figure out just who would do such a terrible thing. Meanwhile, Paddington’s in the slammer giving it his all and trying to make the world a better place – not just for himself, but for the lonely, rather angry inmates who need a little bit of sunshine in their sometimes gloomy lives.

Isn’t this supposed to be the 21st century? What’s up with that damn landline!?!

Had Paddington 2 been released in any other year, it would have been a perfectly fine, funny, charming and entertaining little movie made for all ages, just like the first one. However, with all of the anger, hatred, racism, bigotry, misogyny, and general wrongness that continues to take over the world that we currently live in, Paddington 2 can’t help but feel like a breath of fresh air that everybody needs. It’s literally a movie about making the world a better place, loving those around you despite their differences, and most of all, having respect for each and everything that surrounds you, no matter what.

It’s literally a testament to love and happiness, which makes it all the more tragic that it was once a product of the Weinstein’s.

That said, it’s not their product anymore and with good reason: Paddington 2, as a movie, is way too good for either of those scum-bags. It’s a joyful, happy, entertaining, and rather hilarious movie that’s perfect for all ages, of course, but also a perfect watch for the older-people in the crowd who appreciate a lot more wit to their goofiness. Whereas a lot of kids movies released nowadays sort of dumb everything down so that it’s just the youngsters laughing in the crowd and absolutely nobody else, Paddington 2 remembers that the older ones in the audience deserve a chance to laugh, too, and that happens quite often here.

I chalk it up to great writing, but I also chalk it up to just typical British humor, where even the silliest of happenings, are somehow wittier and a step above smarter than most of what we see in mainstream American comedies. It’s what makes Paddington 2 a trip worth investing in, but another reason why it’s a movie made so that others can enjoy it, smile from cheek-to-cheek, and just feel a whole lot better about themselves and the people around them. It’s why movies exist in the first place, but it’s hardly brought to our attention.

Seriously. He’s insane. And I love it!

But Paddington 2 reminds us and honestly, we all needed it.

It also reminds us what you can do with an incredibly talented cast on kiddie-material, so long as the material is funny and just generally well-written. The ensemble from the original are all great here, with Bonneville being the general stand-out, but really, it’s Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson, the two newcomers, who show up, bring their A-games and steal the show. Gleeson is doing his usual rough and gruff act that works in spades, but it’s Grant who really tears away, playing the most manic and insane that we’ve ever seen him in a movie. Like ever.

Seriously. Grant’s had fun before in almost all of his movies, but it’s always come at a price. He’s always stammering, starting, stopping, and being a cad-like creature. But as Phoenix Buchanan, the would-be villain of Paddington 2, Grant unleashes a new beast that we’ve never seen from him before, where he goes all-out, has a total blast, and reminds us why it’s so much fun to still have Grant acting in movies, even if he’s not considered the handsome sex-symbol he still was. If anything, he’s just the handsome, older-gentleman who has seen the world, done that, and is just going to enjoy his latter-years, the way he wants to.

Hell, don’t we all?

Consensus: As a tribute to love and respect for one another, Paddington 2 is also a fun, hilarious, well-acted, and incredibly joyful adventure that’s literally worth it for the whole family. And I mean that.

9 / 10

“Put some clothes on, you bear!”, is something I’m told every time I go out to the clubs.

Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures

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The Shape of Water (2017)

Further proof why we need to save our oceans.

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, lonely woman who lives by herself and generally has a calm, care-free, and quiet existence. Her best friend is also her neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), who also happens to be gay and wanting desperately to come out of the closet, yet, with this being early-60’s Baltimore, few things like that are ever heard of. Still, Elisa gets by with her job as a cleaning-lady at a top-secret, government-testing facility, where she mops and cleans up mostly everything. But then, one day, her suspicions get the best of her when she notices a strange fish/person/thing (Doug Jones), that the facility has in its own safe keep so that the Russians can’t get it. What they want to do with it, or what’s going to become of it, they don’t really know, but the security-guard keeping watch over it (Michael Shannon), knows that he wants to make its life absolute and total torture. But Elisa doesn’t like this and sees a little bit of herself in this creature, making their relationship stronger and more passionate as the days go by and the danger of their lives near closer.

Good friends live disheveled lives together.

In all honesty, Guillermo del Toro is a writer/director I respect and admire more than I actually like. Mostly all of his movies work for me, they’re beautiful, put-together exceptionally well, and feel like the creative-work of a visionary at his finest, but for some reasons, the emotions are just never there for me. This isn’t to take away from his work as a writer/director, nor is it to say that those who love his work are “wrong” by any means – it’s just a thing with me. I’ve come to accept it, watch his movies, appreciate them, and move on.

And the Shape of Water is another one of those works I respect and appreciate, yet, by the same token, also walk away from a little cold.

Mostly though, it’s shocking how conventional and simplistic the Shape of Water is, considering that del Toro’s films all take on a rather crazy, confusing, and fantastical tone that seem to come from some other dimension. Not that there isn’t any of his usual fantasy-elements here, but mostly, they’re all toned down so that del Toro can get to a more human and understated story about a group of misfits, getting by, finding love, happiness, and meaning to a life that seems to hate them for being who they are. In other words, it’s a beautiful movie in both the way it looks and feels, but at the center, it’s also a lot sweeter than a lot of del Toro’s other more foreboding movies.

Which isn’t to say that del Toro plays it safe here, because that’s not the case. In fact, del Toro still somehow finds a way to keep his voice and vision, even when it seems like he’s making some sacrifices to bring other people to his work; though it’s a creature-feature in some senses, there’s also romance, drama, comedy, and espionage that makes this a movie that has something for everyone, regardless of if they want it or not. And of course, some people may not be willing to stick with this odd movie, the plot, the twists, and turns, but so what?

“Go and get your fish-man, girl.”

They’re not used to something this odd and original, which makes the Shape of Water a treat for us all who want a little something more out of cinema.

No matter how large or small.

We also appreciate a movie that has these somewhat colorful and comical characters, yet, also gives them enough heart and humanity to make them seem somewhat humane. Sally Hawkins, in what is practically a silent performance, does a lot with very little; she’s sweet and soulful, yet, doesn’t have the opportunity to ever make us feel that with her words. It’s just the way she carries herself and looks, and it works. Richard Jenkins is even better as her gay neighbor who, with almost every line, steals every scene. He’s funny, heartfelt, smart, witty, and oh yeah, a little sad. Basically, he’s a perfect character for Richard Jenkins to play and he makes every second work.

There’s also Octavia Spencer as Hawkins’ funny, smart and sassy co-worker who, with just about every line, also has something funny to say. In fact, other than the Hellboy movies, the Shape of Water may be del Toro’s funniest movie, because while it embraces its darker, more sinister undertones, it always has a funny snap or two immediately after, that knows how to be self-aware, but never too cloying or over-the-top. It’s just the right amount of light and darkness, and it’s why the whole cast, does a great job. Michael Shannon plays the villain here who is so distasteful and evil, it’s hard to really watch him, but once again, it works.

It all works. It just didn’t, once again, grab me the way it probably has to everyone else. And that’s just my cross to bear.

Consensus: Ambitious, smart, funny, humane, heartfelt, and well-acted, the Shape of Water proves to be del Toro’s mos accessible movie, but also doesn’t let go of his ever creative-vision.

8 / 10

Under the sea. Under the sea.

Photos Courtesy of: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Paddington (2015)

The bear’s still creepy.

After an earthquake hits his home in darkest Peru, a young, talking bear (Ben Whishaw) is forced to move elsewhere in life. His aunt suggests a fine place called London, where she was once told, many years ago by an explorer, that if they were to come and visit, they’d be accepted with open arms. However, it’s only the young bear who can come and visit, so that’s what he does in hopes of meeting that explorer and adapting to regular, human customs. As soon as the young bear shows up in London, though, he’s left alone and with nowhere else to go, that is, until he gets seen by the Brown family. While the mother, Mary (Sally Hawkins), is accepting of this homeless little bear who is desperately in need of a home, her husband, Henry (Hugh Bonneville), couldn’t be bothered. Eventually, he caves in and decides to keep the bear in their place until it can find its original owner. But also occurring at the same time is a taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) who finds out that this rare bear is alive and walking on London’s surface, which puts her deadly sights on him.

Oh, and he has a name, and it’s Paddington.

Somebody fetch this bloke some tea!

Somebody fetch this bloke some tea!

While I’m not all that familiar with Paddington, its history, and all of that, I have to say, everything leading up to this movie didn’t make me have anymore interest. Not only did Colin Firth leave about half-way through production, but the movie itself had to be pushed back from its holiday time-slot, all the way to the death ring that is January. Also, Paddington himself seemed a bit creepy and it didn’t help that the movie continued to advertise wacky, slapstick-ish hijinx surrounding him accidentally breaking stuff. Basically, nothing was looking good for this movie and it seemed like it would just be another failed attempt bringing the whole family together for movie night – a staple that should always be held.

Well, somehow, it all worked out.

There’s something inherently sweet about Paddington that goes past just being for the whole family. Sure, there’s plenty of jokes aimed towards both the kids, as well as the adults, but they aren’t the same types of jokes that the later would be ashamed in seeing come from something aimed towards kids. More or less, the jokes here that appeal to the adults in the room, are tricky, clever plays on words that seem to realize that, in order to have your audience laughing, you can’t just spoon-feed them everything. A slap, a hit, or a trip is fine and all for the kids, but don’t forget about the grown-ups who have to usually sit through these things; which is what writer/director Paul King doesn’t forget about.

But that said, the movie is still fine for kids to watch, if not more exciting. While Paddington, the bear, still rubs me the wrong way a bit, there’s no denying the fact that the kids who see this will become enthralled with him and why shouldn’t they? He’s live, walking, and talking CGI-bear that spouts words of kindness to those around him and, sometimes without ever trying to do so, ends up saving the day in ways he doesn’t expect. He truly is the kind of character that mostly all kids should see a movie about and it’s nice to see justice be done to him; and this is all coming from a person who didn’t know all that much about Paddington to begin with.

And voicing Paddington, Ben Whishaw does a fine job, portraying a certain style of fun and innocence that I don’t quite think Firth would have been able to portray quite as well. That’s not to say Whishaw’s better than Firth in ways, but here, for this specific role, it seems obvious that the former would take over the job of the later, if only because it seems like Firth would have been a tad too “royal” for a character as goofy as Paddington. Still, it’s a surprise that the people behind this were able to get Firth to do this in the first place, let alone have him already shoot half of his scenes before he eventually realized what he was doing and decided to just do a bunch of promo for Kingsman, as it should be.

The effect Nicole Kidman still has on men.

The effect Nicole Kidman still has on men.

There’s also plenty of human characters here too, and they also do fine jobs to where they don’t get over-shadowed by the bear, which would have been very hard not to have happen. Hugh Boneville’s character may seem like a stern tight-ass, but eventually, there are certain shades to him where we see that it all comes from a reason and believe it or not, there’s still some fun left in him; Sally Hawkins is equally delightful as his wife and gives some sort of personality to Mary that goes past just being kind and peaceful to all those around her; and Nicole Kidman, surprisingly, does a good job here as the villain of the story, playing up a comedic-side to her that we don’t usually see.

Or, if we do, it’s usually in something like Bewitched, where her skills are absolutely wasted, but if anything Paddington proves, it’s that Nicole Kidman should play more baddies, as well as be funny.

If there’s anything that keeps me away from giving Paddington the full-on, full-out praise that mostly everybody else on the face of the planet has been able to do, it’s that I felt as if the political themes and ideas were a tad bit odd, especially given the fact in how they were placed into the story. While the movie makes it a point to not make it a total point that there is in fact a bear walking all around the streets and nobody literally batting an eye, there’s something strange in how it seems like it’s discussing immigration, but not really discussing it at all. Paddington, the character, is all alone and left without much of a home, but it’s up to the government and possible suitors who may be able to take him in and make him their own.

A little odd, right? My feelings exactly, but then again, it’s a kids movie so little things like that probably should be disregarded.

In other words, just don’t listen to me.

Consensus: Fun, light and appropriate enough for just about every member of any given family, Paddington is a joyous and sweet little ride that offers up a likable character to a new generation of possible fans and with good reason.

8 / 10

Cuddly and all, but still wouldn't trust him home alone with my kids. But that's just me.

Cuddly and all, but still wouldn’t trust him home alone with my kids. But that’s just me.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Painted Veil (2006)

Women just never give the man the lovin’ they deserve. Tsk tsk.

Rich, spoiled, and bored English gal Kitty (Naomi Watts) thinks she’s met the man that will sweep her off of her feet, or at least, sweep her away from her mother, in the form of Dr. Walter Fane (Edward Norton). The two are clearly opposites and don’t seem to have much in common with one another, except for the fact that they want to be married and get away from their past lives. However, Kitty soon starts to get bored of Walter, and finds herself gravitating more towards his confidante, Dr. Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber), in which the two participate in a sordid affair of sorts. Walter isn’t dumb though and knows what’s going on when he isn’t around, so he makes Kitty a deal: Come with him to a cholera-infested village in China, or, get a divorce from him and see if her lover will want to get married too. Seeing as how Charlie doesn’t want to leave his own wife, Kitty has no other choice but to go with Walter where they both taste the dirt and do what they can to make time past, and maybe, just possibly even fall in love with one another. You know, like they originally thought that they did. But this time, for real.

What’s interesting about this movie, isn’t by the way it looks or sounds, it’s more about what it is. In one way, it’s a love story about a married-couple, but at the same time, it’s not a love story about a married-couple. These two may be married, but they sure as hell don’t love one another, and it was intriguing to see that play out, in a period-piece during the 20’s no less.

"Girl? Whatchu say?"

“Girl? Whatchu say?”

However, as interesting as that may have been, it didn’t really do wonders for me while I was watching it. See, even though I’m a young lad that’s chock full of hormones and energy, I truly don’t mind a slow-burner; in fact, sometimes, I more than welcome it. There’s nothing better to me than a movie in which all of the cards are laid-out on the table, shown to me in a comprehensible way, and made so that I can get a hold of everything I’m being told and just exactly what it is that I’m seeing. That’s usually what works so well about slow movies such as these, however, in order to make them fully work, there has to be something deep, hard, and meaningful burning deep down inside, and I just could not find that here.

Well, for the most part, I could at least decipher everything that was going on here, because not everything’s subtle. These two not-so lovebirds make it very clear to one another on many occasions that they do not love the other, and I have to say, everytime that happened, I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s played with the utmost sincerity, as if we’re supposed to be utterly shocked by these two characters not only fighting, but wanting nothing to do with the other. Also not to mention, the fact that it’s hard to feel any sympathy for either of these characters.

First of all, this Walter Crane guy is a bit of a geek – that’s pretty evident early on. Not only is he practicing in the medical-field, but he lets Kitty know, early on, that he’s a “bit clumsy”. Yeah, we get that. So, when they share one day together of doing Lord only knows what, he professes to her that he loves her, wants to get married, and needs an answer ASAP. Personally, I feel like maybe one or two dates is a bit too soon, but I guess if you feel it, then you feel it, and in the case of Walter Crane, it was instantly.

I guess I was supposed to feel sympathy for this nerdy guy because it’s clear that he doesn’t have a way with women (despite looking like Edward Norton whose dated gals like her and her) and maybe doesn’t have the best track-record, but it’s hard to care for him when he finds out that maybe he isn’t her type and then forces her to come on this life-changing trip of his. It’s clear he’s upset and confused, but still, come on, man, who was the one that practically threw it on her to get married. He even says at one point, “I knew why you married me in the first place”, or something along those lines. Then what the fuck!

It’s as if you brought a grizzly bear into your home and gave it honey. Then, moments later, you find out it still wants to claw the shit out of you, chomp your head off, and you still being like, “But hey! I brought you into my house and fed you!” Most bears are just wired that way, they can’t be fixed or helped in any way to think differently, so for you to bring it into your home, with your resources, and treat it your certain and expect the same in return, is just a bit dumb; bears are just wired differently. Maybe that’s a dumb metaphor, but I think its slightly understandable: It’s hard to feel bad for someone who gets a bunch of problems brought onto them, when anybody could have seen it coming from a mile away.

Now that I’m done with Crane, it’s time for Ms. Kitty who, despite being the cheater of the two, I actually felt a little bit more sympathy towards, if only because she didn’t try to be anything that she wasn’t. Sure, she was a total brat that only wanted to get out of her boring house and her annoying mom, but at least when her and Walt have their arguments, she doesn’t try to hide the fact that she was somebody else he didn’t already know about. Yes, I get that she is the one who decided to take the sanctity of marriage and shove it right down the sinkhole, but at least she wasn’t imposing upon anybody that she was anything else. If she was my wife, I’d be pretty pissed too, but that’s only because my wife would be somebody I know I’d feel safe and comfortable with loving and marrying; unlike how this Walter guy was with his wifey-poo.

God, what an idiot.

"Ah. Love that smell of cholera in the morning."

“Ah. Love that smell of cholera in the morning.”

Anyway, while neither character really put me in their sympathy-corners, I must say, the performances from Norton and Watts are, as expected, pretty good. Norton, despite his character being such a dunce, actually gives this Walt guy a real compassionate heart which, for what it’s worth, makes him seem like a genuinely nice guy who actually goes out of his own way to save these people all dying of cholera. He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to, and you can feel his compassion through Norton’s performance; it’s just such a shame that he wasn’t as compassionate or as smart when it came to choosing his women.

As for Naomi Watts, she gets to do a lot of pouting and staring, but she does very well with it. Though she’s the one character we’re supposed to clearly not like the most out of the two, Watts still makes us believe that there is some room for change in her personality and when that does happen, it seems understandable and barely ever tacked-on. It may be a bit corny in the way that it is presented to us, but that’s not any of Watts’ fault. Hell, it hardly ever is in her case.

Together, the two fix themselves together a nice chemistry that makes you feel like they truly do detest the absolute guts out of the other when they’re fighting; falling head-over-heels for one another when they are, well, you get it; and just happy to be in each other’s company. The movie never really throws any of this on us – it’s more about what these performers can do with the characters and material given to them, and you can hardly ever ask for a better pair than Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. All their character’s problems aside, they do what they can and most of the time, it’s good. Not great, but good enough to be seen.

Consensus: Though the Painted Veil includes the hard task of making its audience like, sympathize and understand its two relatively unlikable characters, it mostly gets by because Norton and Watts are so good at doing what it is they do: Act.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Shit. Did you remember to lock the side-door?"

Shit. Did you remember to lock the side-door?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB

Godzilla (2014)

When you trade in Heisenberg for adult-Ferris Bueller, you’re in good shape.

15 years ago, Lieutenant Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) lost his mother (Juliette Binoche) in a freak-accident that had to do with some sort of radiation break out. His father, Joe (Bryan Cranston), has been living the past couple of years trying to figure out just exactly what happened, and whether or not this is a sign of terrible things to come. Just around this time that he and his son reunite, a giant-sized creature comes to life, knocking out just about everything in its path, including electricity. The scientist behind this whole experiment-gone-wrong is Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) who believes that there is another creature out there just waiting to be heard from and to, if possible, stop these creatures from destroying everything, and everyone in its path. That said creature? Well, I’ll let this guy take the pleasure of announcing it for you.

It’s been a long time since Roland Emmerich practically destroyed the respectable, and totally cool name that was in Godzilla (a little over 15 years in fact), and in order for this movie to be awesome and hyped-up like it has been for quite time, that needed to be happen. Not only did it need to show Hollywood that messing with an international-product can sometimes be risky, but doing it to the point of where you’re practically disrespecting the culture it comes from, is definitely a big old “no no” when trying to deliver a form of entertainment. Hasn’t stopped big-time, fast-talking money-makers in Hollywood before, and it sure as hell won’t stop them from committing the same acts again, but with the disaster of that movie, it puts a clearer-emphasis on just how much “better” they were willing to make this latest re-boot seem.

And thankfully, “better” is exactly what this re-boot is, and by quite a lot as well.

Hey! That's not Flynn back there!

Hey! That’s not Flynn back there!

Sorry, Jean Reno. You’re still Leon in my book, so that’s got to count for something.

Anyway, as for this new Godzilla, what works so well for it is how it doesn’t really give us the main attraction until about half-way through. Sure, we here his name dropped a few times (surprisingly by a Japanese actor), we see his thorny back and tail, and we even get plenty of glimpses at his huge feet, stomping on large-scale buildings and practically turning them into total rubble. However, we rarely ever get to see him in a full-on form until the half-way mark, and it’s totally worth the time and patience we as audience members are asked to have when it comes to seeing just exactly who this movie is made after. It’s a constant build-up that director Gareth Edwards racks up tension, just about the whole time with, and once we see what Godzilla actually looks like in this new edition (he’s really cool) and get to hear him use that ferocious screech that scares the pants off of any 5-10 year-old, then it’s on with the plot and all sorts of other shenanigans Edwards has to get into.

Yet, for some reason, the movie is never uninteresting. It can be a bit of a drag at times, but it never gets to the point of where I was bored neither. Which, for a summer blockbuster, is nothing new, but somehow, this time felt different than it has for the past two weeks.

First of all, it was a giant-scale, monster movie that delivered the goods on just about every level that Pacific Rim failed to do. We have human characters that are actually interesting; a script that doesn’t constantly hammer-us over the head with corny lines; monster-brawls that aren’t a constant happening, but still show up from time to time to liven things up and remind people why they came to see this movie in the first place; and a sense that we’re placed into a world that is a lot like the one we live in now, yet, we don’t really think too much about reality with. We just sort of get sucked into this world, even if it is our own, and it’s a really thrilling experience to go through.

You actually get the sense that even though Edwards himself doesn’t shy away from having a little bit of fun and pleasuring himself in all of the constant explosions of things like cars, buildings, race-tracks and Navy ships, that he wants to provide an heavier-emphasis on “the government” in this movie itself. In any movie, good or bad, we always see the government being shown as either “good”, “bad”, or somewhere in the middle of both. My opinion is that it’s a bit of a slippery-slope to jump into, all because a director can easily make it seem like their using it to their advantage to get up on top of their soapbox for a good two hours and force everybody to listen up, but here, Edwards is only using them as a tool to keep the plot, the action, and the ideas moving. It was weird to never get a glimpse at the President during this time of obvious crisis, but I guess that’s made for another movie, at another time.

Either way, the movie still steps itself into as much realism as it can, even when it’s all about large-ass monsters, beating the hell out of one another and terrorizing whole cities,  and this is where I think the movie worked its most magic. Yeah, it was definitely thrilling and yeah, it looked beautiful, but I never really lost a sense that everything I was seeing was perfectly calculated in a way that didn’t seem hokey, or as if Edwards himself was just making up the rules as he went along. Some science majors may have a bit of a problem with this movie in how it explains certain happenings, in certain ways, but for the most part, I didn’t really find myself second-guessing anything of what any character said. I just sort of nodded my head, went along with it, and tried my hardest to enjoy the ride, and I’m glad I decided to do so, because it totally worked out for me in the end. Even when Godzilla wasn’t around to wreck everything in his sight.

But enough Godzilla already, that little monster him, let’s talk about the humans in this picture! Mostly, I have to applaud Gareth Edwards for putting together a nice ensemble of talents that aren’t necessarily the biggest names in all of Hollywood, but definitely have enough charisma and energy to keep a movie like this moving, and steeped in some sense of emotional. In fact, believe it or not, most of that emotion seems to come from Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody. Yes, that may be hard for some of you Breaking Bad fans to realize and accept (sarcasm, clearly), but Cranston easily has the best, most gripping moments in this whole scene. He’s likable, a bit weird, off-kilter, cool and a total dweeb, but he gets a chance to play all of these sides to his character in such a small fraction of space, that I was so happy to see him here in the first place. Didn’t really much matter to me that he isn’t in the movie a whole lot, but at least he gave me someone to empathize with and at least root for.

What? Did you think that Hollywood was so insensitive that they wouldn't cast at least one Japanese actor? Shame on you.

What? Did you think that Hollywood was so insensitive that they wouldn’t cast at least one Japanese actor? Shame on you.

Because, to be honest, nobody else in this movie really gave me that much of a chance to do the same. Not saying that nobody tried to, it’s just that their material may have been lankier than others is all. For example, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a hot, young, and charming actor that wants to be more than just Kick-Ass – now he’s ready to get muscled-up, kick some ass, and do it all without a goofy-looking, DIY-mask and costume. Can’t say that it hasn’t worked out for him in the past, but here, his character is a bit unengaging. He isn’t an unlikable character by any means, it’s just that he’s a bit of a dull hero to have in the first place, that also happens to be in the army as is. Would have been a lot neater to see this story from a regular-man’s perspective, but I guess we wouldn’t have been able to see all of those cool, high-flying scenes we’ve been getting treated to in the trailers.

And sadly, the same sort of goes for the rest of the cast. Juliette Binoche gets the same treatment as Cranston does, although reasonably so; Elizabeth Olsen plays Taylor-Johnson’s wife that has to tend to their damn kid all of the time, while still maintaining her job as a local nurse (go figure); David Strathairn doesn’t always feel right as Admiral William Stenz, a man-in-command who is constantly shouting out orders and demands; and Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins play two scientists that are practically the first to get started on this huge project of theirs, and seem like the over-educated dopes a movie like this needs to point the big finger at. They just want to see what happens with scientist, rather than just doing anything about it, and because of their fascination, thousands and thousands of people are at risk for their lives.

Oh science, what a beautiful thing to waste.

Consensus: Though we don’t get to see too much of the title-character, Godzilla still benefits from exciting action set-pieces, an engaging story that feels slightly believable, despite being about monsters fighting one another, and enough good performances from the cast, to make this a summer blockbuster you must see to get the bad taste of the 1998-version out of your mouth.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh, shut up already and buy me a new pair of underwear, would ya!

Oh, shut up already and buy me a new pair of underwear, would ya!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Double (2014)

Two Mark Zuckerbergs? *Universe implodes

Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) lives a pretty dull, yet strange life. Almost every day, he takes the train to work, sees a girl that he has a crush on (Mia Wasikowska), can’t get into because his card doesn’t work, is slacking on his work, visits his mom on occasion as the senior citizen’s home, and rarely ever talks to anyone. He also spends most of his nights spying on that girl he has a crush on, from across apartment-complexes. Pretty strange, right? Well, life for Simon gets a bit stranger once a cool, swift, suave and over-achieving guy named James comes into the workplace and practically wins everybody over. But what’s so weird about James isn’t the fact that he has practically everybody falling head-over-heals for him as soon as he walks through the door, it’s that he looks exactly like Simon. And I don’t mean that he has a similar-looking bone-structure, I mean that he practically is Simon! Well, except for the fact that they are total, polar-opposites in terms of personality and how they handle themselves at work. James realizes the physical-similarity, and therefore, takes advantage of it by having Simon do all of his work for him, and even steal that girl away from him. Eventually though, Simon gets mad as hell, and decides that he’s not going to take it anymore, but since he’s such a mope, he doesn’t know how to.

Have no clue why doppelgangers have become such a hot ticket this year (Enemy), but hey, I’m not complaining. Though it would be easy to do these types of stories where a look-alike comes into one’s life and practically ruins it for them, in the most conventional way, somehow, both the aforementioned Enemy and the Double seem to get away from that convention. Well, that’s not to say that they don’t follow the same type of pattern, but they’re both stories that usual a simple story, and spin it as many times as they can.

I'm going to assume it's all for an "art project".

I’m going to assume it’s all for an “art project”.

However, that’s probably where the similarities have to end, because the Double and Enemy are two different films in their own rights; the latter was more like a David Lynch mind-fuck, whereas the former, believe it or not, is a lot more light and fun on its feet.

At its core, though, it’s creepy and I think that’s the idea that writer/director Richard Ayoada taps into the most and does well with. We never quite know where this story is going to go, and whether or not James is just a figment of Simon’s weird, imaginary mind, however, that to us, doesn’t really matter. Once this whole mystery shows up, the movie never really goes into the discussion or even the idea of that. Instead, Ayoada keeps his mind on the characters, the story, and just how this whole problem affects Simon’s life.

It’s pretty intriguing to see a psychological-thriller done in this sort of way, but Ayoada does a fine job balancing both acts out, even if it’s clear that he cares more for the “story”, and less of the “mystery”. Still though, it works because Ayoada does a fine job at setting-up this story, its characters, and why this doppleganger’s existence actually matters, especially to someone like Simon. The guy’s a bit of a weirdo – actually, scratch that, he’s a total weirdo – but he’s a sympathetic one that makes it easy for us, as the audience, to stick with him while he’s going through this crisis of his life and wonder just what the hell is really going on.

However, though that may be a mission of his, it’s not the most important; no, for Simon, the real mission of his life is to gain the love of his life, and this is where most of the movie’s comedy comes from. Though it is heartfelt, still, we get plenty of humor in the ways that Simon continuously tries to do the right things that would have the gal of his dreams, love him and want to be with him. But it’s less of that we’re laughing at Simon, and more that we’re left laughing at the way in which the world around him treats him. It’s a weird, dystopian-setting that isn’t always a normal place, but is interesting because to examine because it seems like it could, at one point, be a mixture between the 80’s and the 70’s, and then, the next second, seems like it could be the cold, dark, and deep future world we might possibly live in.

I don’t know. In all honesty, I’m probably going deeper into that than I should, but the fact lies: This movie is definitely a departure of sorts for Ayoade, especially after something as comedic and poignant as Submarine, but a very interesting one. He doesn’t lose his comedic-roots, or his attention to style, but he definitely does place an eerie-tone in this movie that can be felt underneath, while still not getting in the way of what really matters; which is the characters themselves. Most importantly, Simon, and, I guess, James.

Jesse Eisenberg has been a consistent actor for the longest time and is more than likely going to be getting a whole lot bigger in another year or so, but one thing that he’s definitely been accused of in the past is sort of getting pigeon-holed into playing the same characters, time and time again. And while that is most definitely true, you can’t fault him for that, because it’s something he’s great at doing. He’s fine at playing these sheepish, awkward, nervous-types that make him seem like the younger-version of Woody Allen, and while we’d like to see him do something different and more exciting, it’s an act that still works for him. So, basically, why fix what’s clearly not broken?

And yes, for the longest time, Simon seems like the quintessential character Jesse Eisenberg would play: He’s soft, weird, and hardly ever capable of handling a meaningful conversation that lasts longer than two minutes. However, once James shows up, we realize that there’s a little bit more to Eisenberg; which yes, means that he can be funny, and even, dare I say it, “cool”. Never thought that word would come out of my mouth when describing a character played by Jesse Eisenberg, but somehow, that happens here and it works.

James is, what you would call, a bit of a player. He’s sly, cool, has a way with the ladies that only a handful of people in every state can master, is a charmer, and knows how to use people to his advantage. It’s the type of role we’ve seen Eisenberg only hint at being able to play in the past, but here, in the Double, he gets to really go wild with and it works. James is a total dick, but he at least helps Simon out with his lady-troubles, so that sort of makes him sympathetic, right? Well, kind of. Yes. Maybe so. Oh, I don’t know!

Awkward first-dates. Yeah, don't know anything about that.

Awkward first dates. Yeah, don’t know anything about that.

What I do know is that Eisenberg is great in these dual-roles because he really does allow us to differentiate the two characters. There isn’t any neat, visual-tricks that Ayoada uses in order to create in allusion, but rather, allow Eisenberg to have us use our minds as to which character is speaking, whom is doing what to whom, why, and so on and so forth. It all works and it’s less of a show for Ayoada’s directorial-skills, as much as it is for Eisenberg to show the world that he’s got the goods to change things up with his acting-style.

While this may be definitely be his show, he isn’t the only one that does a fine job. But here’s what’s weird about the rest of the characters in this movie: They’re all pretty cartoonish. Which, yes, does make sense when you think of the world that Ayoada has created, but doesn’t really do much for any of these characters, or the actors playing their roles. Like, for instance, Wallace Shawn gets the role as Eisenberg’s boss and is amusing, but never really goes any deeper than “boss who constantly gets on employer’s case for not working to the best of his ability”. It has its moments and it’s funny, but after awhile, it did make me wish there were some more human characters in here to be found. You know, like Mia Wasikowska’s character was, except maybe less beautiful than here.

Consensus: Slightly off-kilter and eerie, the Double works as a showcasing for the type of talents Jesse Eisenberg is capable of having and using, as well as a nice creative-departure that shows promise for Richard Ayoada’s directorial-career.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

When you both rip suit-jackets off off the same rack, at the same JC Penny, it's a little hard to figure who is who,

When you both rip suit-jackets off the same rack, at the same JC Penney, it’s a little hard to figure who is who.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Submarine (2011)

Don’t ever trust the girl in the red coat.

14-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) has a lot going on in his life at this point in time. He’s found himself very much attracted to a mysterious girl he knows named Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige); he’s got a new neighbor (Paddy Considine); and is beginning to realize that his parent’s marriage is slowly, but surely, falling apart. Oliver may be you and a little naive, but he knows what he wants in life, and that’s to have love coming at him from all sides. Therefore, that means he’ll have to be able to handle his problems with both his parents, as well as the object-of-his-eyes. Though it may seem like an easy-task for Oliver at first, given the fact that he’s had everything mapped-out ever since the initial thoughts came to mind, he’s going to realize you can’t just plan life to go as exactly as you want it to. Sometimes, problems arise, over-lap one another and give us a choice as to what is better for us, and what matters most.

Gosh, what I would do to be 14-years-old again, man! I mean, jeesh! It seems like it was just yesterday that I was getting ready for that big, brave, new world they call “high school”, expecting the worst, but wanting the best. The same world in which I knew I wanted to meet the girl of my dreams, fall in love, get good grades, be happy, and still be able to maintain my youth throughout it all. And yeah, I guess that sort of happened (depending on who it is you ask), but that’s not what matters here.

But what I’m trying to get across with that whole random rant about my expectations going into high school and approaching the next stage of my life, is that the feelings of being young and youthful is exactly what resonates so well with me for certain movies, and that is exactly what happened here with me and Submarine.

Yes, 80's mullets are still funny to look at.

Yes, 80’s mullets are still funny to look at.

Right from the very beginning, I felt like this was a Wes Anderson-clone with more naturalistic-realism thrown into the bit. That’s not to say that Anderson’s movies aren’t filled with real people, doing real, believable things, but for the most part, his movies do usually consist of people living lives inside the head of nobody else’s but his own. They’re fun, they’re light, and most of all, they’re charming, but they’re so whimsical, that they could never, ever be real people. That is, unless they were the biggest, most annoying hipster kids on the face of the planet.

Here though, writer/director Richard Ayoade feels like he’s going for more of a connection with his work and place us inside the real lives, of real people; more specifically, real kids that, believe it or not, feel just like you or I. Sure, Ayoade more often than not jumps into some wacky bits that dive deep into the mind of its narrator, Oliver himself, but they’re there for the sake of being day-dreams and images inside the head of Oliver. And for the most part, they’re used to show us just how wild Oliver’s imagination can be, therefore, making us believe more in the creative, ingenious ways he is able to finagle his way from fixing his parent’s marriage, to then fixing whatever problems he may be having with his girlfriend.

In fact, who really makes this movie work is Oliver Tate himself, played so effortlessly by Craig Roberts. Roberts was clearly a young kid while filming, which makes a lot of sense when you see how it is that he reacts to everything around him. It would have been real easy for Ayoade and Roberts to come together and make Oliver Tate an annoying, too-smart-for-his-own-good-and-age type of kid, but they don’t bother with such conventions as that. Instead, they give us a kid who is definitely smart and wise a year or two beyond his peers, but still doesn’t know nearly as much about life, making decisions, facing consequences, falling in love, feeling heartbroken, being dedicated, than he thinks he does.

Then again, weren’t we all like that at one point in our lives? Hell, come to think of it, some of us still are probably like that! I know I am! That’s why it makes so much sense when and feels honest when Oliver begins to grasp life itself, tries his hardest to make sense of it and at least give it all he’s got. He’s sympathetic, he’s likable and he’s sort of cool, but he’s also a real-life kid I could have seen myself hanging out with and maybe even talking to a few times in the early days of high school. Then, as time went on and I became a total jock, I would have left him at the “weirdo lunch table”. Sorry to state it like that, but hey, it was high school. It’s a dog-eat-dog world in them parks, man.

Like I was saying though, Roberts is always doing a good job with Oliver, having us believe in him as a character, as well as a 14-year-old that’s going through some growing pains almost nearly as much as his girlfriend is, Jordana Bevan. Everything I said about Roberts and his performance, is pretty much the same for Yasmin Paige and her performance – fun, likable, charming and most importantly, believable at all the right times and ways. They have a nice chemistry despite being young actors in a movie that’s sort of all dependent on them and their ability to make this work, but it clearly doesn’t phase them one bit.

As for the adults, they’re all detailed and layered just about right, although, if anything, their conflict with the story was one of the main problems I had with this. First of all, let me just say that Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor and even Paddy Considine all do fantastic work with their roles. They could have easily been dull in hopes that the kids’ personalities would just take everything over and get our minds away from the older-heads, but that’s not what happens. They’re just as, if not sometimes, even more charming than the little kiddies they’re sharing the same movie with.

However, where my problem with this movie comes in is how Ayoade handles both subplots, yet, never fully feels committed to either. The whole subplot about Oliver trying to win the affection of Jordana takes up most of the first-half, and is easily the best part of the whole movie. It’s sweet, tender, lovely, romantic and has plenty of choice tunes from Mr. Alex Turner himself. What else can I say about that!?!?

Parents: So boring, so drab, so whatever.

Parents: So boring, so drab, so whatever.

But once that plot sort of settles-down a bit and put on the back-burner, then the whole “possible affair” angle comes up and the movie gets a tad bit messy. Some of it still stayed charming, likable and fun, but for the most part, I could tell that a lot of what Ayoade was going for, didn’t really end up showing itself by the end. He tries to juggle these two strands of plot, and while they seem like they’d be an easy act to move around with, he seems to get his ideas and themes lost in a bit of a jumble.

In all honesty, it’s difficult to explain my problems with this movie, without describing everything, word-for-word, scene-for-scene, but just know this: Once the young love angle sort of chills out, so does this movie, and it’s kind of a bummer. Not saying that the movie as a whole is a bummer, I’m just saying that you should realize what you’ll get yourself into. Especially if you’re longing for nostalgia like me.

Damn being old!

Consensus: If you’re going through something of a mid-life crisis, Submarine, for the most part, will do you in and make you long for the good old days of falling in love for the first time, going into school, dealing with angst, and all that jazz. However, it’s not always focusing on that and when it doesn’t, it gets a tad messy.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Damn you, young love! You get me everytime!

Damn you, young love! You get me everytime!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Jane Eyre (2011)

Relationships were so much simpler when people weren’t just boning each other all of the time.

Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is an orphan growing up in 19th Century England who doesn’t always get along with everybody around here. That’s why, one day, her evil auntie (Sally Hawkins) sends her to a tough-as-nails boarding-school, where she is taught how to act around people, be lady-like and just not bust people’s balls, like Jane is most known of doing. Once Jane gets out of this boarding-school and finds herself starting her adult, professional life, she’s assigned as governess for a young French girl at a nearby estate. The girl’s father, Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender), is also the master that employs Jane and is a bit of a troubled-fellow. He’s got a bit of an anger-issue, has some deep, dark secrets and definitely doesn’t seem like he’s capable of handling himself in public situations, and yet, he is somehow able to connect with Jane. Together, they talk, walk through beautiful landscapes and, slowly but surely, begin to fall in love. However, things get a bit more complicated once Jane finds out something about Edward’s rocky-past, as well as her own.

I don’t feel like I’m alone when I say that I automatically cringe hearing about a new period piece. No offense to anybody who likes those sorts of things, but they just aren’t totally for me, unless they are done in some sort of fast-paced, interesting and fun way. That almost never, ever happens, but I hold-out hope that I do get one of them, one of these days.

My apartment complex is bigger. Just sayin'....

My apartment complex is bigger. Just sayin’….

Anyway, that’s the exact reason why I wasn’t looking too forward to watching Jane Eyre, a story that it seems like everybody else on the face of this planet knows, except for, you guessed it, yours truly. Then again, I’m a movie-junkie and I have to give any movie a chance, which is what I’m really thankful for here.

See, something strange happened here with me and this movie: Not only was I interested in this story right from the beginning, but I found myself oddly surprised as well. Most of the opinions people have about 19th-century period-pieces is that they are sometimes so royal, so stuck-up and so damn boring, that they can’t help but be slow and let us know that this is how the times were back in those days. However, it seemed like director Cary Fukanaga knew that he wanted to tell us this story, but not harp on the minuscule, meaningless details.

Right from the start, as soon as we find out that Jane has had a pretty shitty childhood, things pick up and automatically, we are thrown into this place in time that not only feels real, but still relevant in our day and age. Sure, the themes of love, acceptance and feminism are everlasting and will more than likely stand the test of time, but what Fukanaga does here so well is that he shows us that not all period-pieces have to be time-consuming, regardless of if they are moving at a snail-like speed. He gives us a story, he gives us a setting, he gives us characters, and he even throws in a bit of a mystery, that somehow goes along perfectly with the real dilemma on our hands here: The love-dynamic between Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester.

Considering that I haven’t read the novel, like the lazy, Y-Generation-er that I am, I don’t know if this dynamic was as strong, or as tension-filled in the book, as it is here, but Fukanaga really nailed that aspect down perfectly. We get the idea that these two people are perfect for one another and, had they been alive today in the present-day, would be together today, walking hand-in-hand, frolicking through the streets. But, seeing as this is the older days when class and wealth was more meaningful than actually having a life, it makes sense why they find it hard to be together, or accept the notion that they should be together. Any other movie would have this whole idea be stretched-out into a two-hour cock-tease, but here, Fukanaga continues to add on emotion, after emotion and give us the impression that they might just get together, despite what others would whisper about them.

They’re not necessarily star-crossed lovers that nobody wants to be together, it’s just more of the fact that they don’t know if they should, or should not be, and it takes us for a ride. Also, a lot of that has to do with the fact that both of these characters were well-cast with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Everybody knows, and loves the hell out of Michael Fassbender by now, so it’s honestly no surprise that I say he does a great job Edward Rochester – a guy we never know if we can fully trust, but like enough to feel like he should be with Jane at the end of all this.

"It's okay. We called PECO and they said it'd be back on in a couple of hours."

“It’s cool. We called PECO and they said it’d be back on in a couple of hours.”

However, who I am really going to focus my attention on here is Mia Wasikowska, who I’ve never been too impressed with in the past, but I will say one thing: She chooses some great material to work with and continues to really stretch herself. Here, as Jane Eyre, she gets the chance to sink her teeth into a woman that doesn’t just stand-up for herself every step of the way, but also makes sure that no man, woman, or child gets in her way of acceptance. What’s so rad about the character of Jane Eyre is that she gains respect and gratitude from those around here, not just by pretending to be as tough, or as cool as a man, but by using her smarts to out-do those around her. Because of this, we’re able to see that all of these others around here are either dumb, over-the-top or are so relaxed in their monotonous, peaceful lives, that they have no clue what to do when somebody comes around and shakes things up by shedding a little lip here and there.

So, to sum it up: Jane Eyre is a pretty awesome female character that I feel like any and all gals should definitely look up to and go by, regardless of whether it’s from the book or the numerous film-adaptations of it.

But like I was saying before, Mia Wasikowska does a phenomenal job as Jane Eyre, giving us a pretty kick-ass female character that doesn’t need to actually participate in the act of kicking ass to prove that she’s a toughie; she just acts like she always has and never lets anybody walk over her. Great job on Wasikowska’s part, but also Fukanaga’s for at least giving us a reason to love her presence, not just solely by her gorgeous/mysterious look. There’s actually development to her and for that, we appreciate her being around. As for everything else that Fukanaga does in this movie, it’s all fine. By the end though, it does get a bit twisty and turny, almost to the point of where it all feels over-stuffed, but overall, the guy keeps his head clear enough that we’re able to see why this story deserved to be brought-to-screen once again, with these talented-people and all.

Consensus: For those who shutter at the idea of Jane Eyre being adapted again, fear not, because what we have here is a well-acted, emotional and rather suspenseful-tale of forbidden love, class-conflicts and a hard-ass female character that mouths off to almost anybody, and everyone around her. But in a dignified, 19th Century, period piece kind of way.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Don't do it, honey! He just wants your mo-, erhm, never mind. Marry Mr. Money Bags already!

Don’t do it, honey! He just wants your mo-, erhm, never mind. Marry Mr. Money Bags already!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

All Is Bright (2013)

Chalk it up to the Canadians to ruin Christmas for us Americans!

Ex-con Dennis (Paul Giamatti) gets out of jail and put on parole, and begins the rest of his life. However, once he shows up to the home where his wife (Amy Landecker) and kid live, little does he know that not only does she want nothing to do with him as she’s started a relationship with his ex-con partner, Rene (Paul Rudd), but that she’s told their kid that he’s died from cancer as well. Basically, nothing is going well for Dennis in his life and to make matters any worse than they could possibly already be, his parole-officer doesn’t really seem to care too much about his job and basically leaves Dennis without any job, source of income, or references where to get his life back on track. So, who can Dennis go to for help? Well, try that same dude who’s now banging his wife, and gets him hooked-up with a holiday job selling Christmas trees in the heart of NYC. Problem is, it’s cold as hell, they’re not selling any trees, and business isn’t quite as booming as they originally thought it would be, which leaves these two former friends angry at and tense-as-hell with one another.

While most of you probably already saw that I wasn’t totally fond of Junebug, I do have to say that given the talent involved with Phil Morrison’s first flick in 8 years since, I was a little excited. Not only do I love Giamatti, Rudd, and Sally Hawkins in almost all that they do with their lives and careers, but honestly, come on. It’s not even Fall yet, and we’re already getting Christmas movies. Now I don’t know about you, but that gets me extremely amped-up for the holidays and prepare for the cold, the tree, the presents, and most of all, the wholesome and happy feel everybody has in their minds.

That's what I am talking about! The Holidays, baby!

That’s what I am talking about! The Holidays, baby!

That’s what’s made me relatively excited for this movie even though, yes, it is still technically September. But who cares for technicalities, it’s the holiday cheer! Now cheer!

But the problem with this movie is that, save for maybe 2 or 3 scenes scattered throughout, the movie is not really cheery, happy, or even interesting. Some of it feels like Morrison was working on a very low-budget, didn’t want to hike-up his costs too much, so just had the movie and its story take place in the same 3 locations, throughout the whole hour-and-a-half and depend on character-development and the performances to swoop in and save the day, but they don’t even work in the film’s favor. The performances all feel like their own type of animal, whereas Morrison’s direction just tries too hard to be slow, sullen and a little too dark for its own pleasure. Reminded me a lot of Junebug in that aspect, but with better results, if only because of the cast. And hell, this movie doesn’t even have Amy Adams in it, so you already know which one’s more pleasant to watch.

However, most of you reading this will probably think my complaints of this movie not being pleasant, happy, and as joyous as the season it’s taken place in as “idiotic” or “incomprehensible”, and I wouldn’t really argue against you if that was the case. The movie definitely will appeal to some more, cynical viewers out there who may have a harsher-view of the world, so much so that they feel as if they can share their own opinions and feelings with this movie, and make some sort of connection. If that is the case, then good for you. But for me, myself, and my feelings: I just wanted this movie to turn its big ol’ frown, upside down. Now you tell me, is that too much to ask for in the end? No, I’m serious: Please, tell me! I want to know!

While I’m starting to jump away from the bad of this movie, let me just focus in on the goodness of it all, and that’s mainly the cast that came prepared to act and do what they do best: Be funny. Paul Giamatti is playing, once again, another version of Paul Giamatti, but the only difference here being is that he has a French Canadian accent to go with it. And even that goes in and out every once and awhile. However, that doesn’t matter because Giamatti is great at these sorts of roles and while some may find it unoriginal for him to be playing the same old, sad-sack character that we usually see him portray in any flick he shows up in, I can’t say I’m all that bored of it, especially since he throws his own little pieces of skill in there for good-measure.

For instance, Dennis isn’t considered a bad guy because he’s actually trying to make an effort to change his life. Sure, he was a crook and he got caught in the middle of his action, but at least he wants to make amends for all the mistakes he’s made in his life, despite life not really welcoming him in with wide open arms. In that aspect, Giamatti owns this role as Dennis because it shows him the world against him, and how he’ll never quite lay down, and let the world get the best of him, despite it being quite clear that he should. Still though, it’s Giamatti, and it sure as hell doesn’t matter who’s he playing, cause you love him and want to bear-hug him everytime.

They're dirty, so they obviously CAN'T be funny.

They’re dirty, so they obviously CAN’T be funny.

Same goes for Rudd, even though he’s playing a little more-against type than Giamatti may be. Nonetheless though, Rudd is still great at playing-up Rene’s charm, while also showing him as a bit of a snake-like character that has yet to divorce his own wife, yet, has no problem sleeping with Dennis’s. Yeah, if you think about it, Rudd’s character isn’t the most likable guy in the whole world, but he isn’t necessarily the most distasteful guy either, he’s just made some bad mistakes in his past that he’s sort of paying for now. Just like Dennis, his old buddy. The only difference is that Rene didn’t get caught, Dennis did, and look who paid the whole price.

See what I was talking about though with this movie’s dark view? It never ends, not even when Sally Hawkins shows up as a Jewish house-maid that comes by to pester Dennis every once and awhile, and believe it or not, actually have a nice dynamic going on between one another. She’s sort of miserable and bothered with life in her own, quirky way, whereas he’s the same, just with a more depressed, and worn-out look and feel. Their scenes are fun to watch, and bring out the best within both of each other’s acting-skills. Hell, I maybe would have even liked to see them get their own movie maybe, eh? Never mind, highly unlikely, but still. If only.

Consensus: The cast in All Is Bright excels at everything that they have to do with the thin-script, but it does come off as a bit of a bore at times, especially given the premise, where it takes place, and during what season. I mean, come on: It’s the Holidays for Christsakes!

6 / 10 = Rental!!

As usual, somebody's laughing, but Giamatti isn't. Story of his life, all in a nutshell.

As usual, somebody’s laughing, but Giamatti isn’t. Story of his life, all in a nutshell.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Blue Jasmine (2013)

Rich people can be sad too, they just are able to water it down in martini and lemons.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) had it all: The rich husband (Alec Baldwin), the lavish lifestyle, the money, the looks, the riches, and all of that fine and happy stuff. However, like most good things, it all came crashing down in an instant and left Jasmine bankrupt without anywhere else to go in the world, except for his lower-class sister (Sally Hawkins)’s house. There she pries more, than actually gets her act together and begins to find out that having to take care of yourself doesn’t mean just making money, it means taking responsibility for your actions and not drinking your life away. Or maybe that’s just what I gathered. Actually, it more than likely is.

Woody Allen has had his fair share of hits, and he sure as hell has had his fair share of misses, but I still remain loyal to the guy as he always brings whatever he can to the big-screen, with his witty writing, and a stacked-cast that always gets on-board with anything he does. He just has that type of power that will get anybody going and for a little while, with Midnight in Paris, had everybody back on their feet, waiting to see what he would do next, as if the King had returned to his throne. However, then To Rome with Love came around, and everybody realized that maybe Paris was just a flash-in-the-pan for Woody. Maybe, just maybe.

She's still good enough for me.

She’s still good enough for me.

However, Woody’s not going to give up without a fight and is back yet again with Blue Jasmine, the type of flick it seems like anybody would make if they had some spare-time in their schedule to just make a movie, hang out with some big names, and get paid while doing so. That’s not to say that the movie’s good or bad, it’s just to say that the flick carries that type of lax-feel and pace where everybody involved seems to be happy and more than ecstatic to be working with a screen-legend like Allen, but at the same time, doesn’t bring much to the proceedings either. They’re just working to work, which is entertaining since everybody’s fun and happy, but it doesn’t really get this material up off the ground as it should.

For awhile, actually, I felt as if the movie I was watching was more of a stone-hard drama than any bit of witty and quirky comedy that we’re so used to associating with Allen’s flicks. That could have just been so since with Cassandra’s Dream and Match Point, he’s shown us that he can do a dark drama, regardless of if it fails or not. So that’s exactly why I felt like I was watching a drama right from the get-go. Obviously, there’s plenty of moments where Allen allows the humorous part of his script to creep in whenever it so pleases, but there’s still a seriousness to this final-product that I at least appreciated more than anything Allen’s done in awhile. He treats Jasmine, as well as every other character with tender, love, and care, it’s just that they don’t really pop-out at us like they should.

Case in point, our main character herself, Jasmine. Jasmine is the type of character that seems perfectly fit for Allen because he’s able to show us all of her flaws, as well as her positives as well. The former gets presented more than the latter, but that’s not to say that the former doesn’t rear it’s beautiful head in every once and awhile neither. We get to see enough of Jasmine that it allows us to care for her and sympathize with her, even when she’s constantly ragging on everyone for not being exactly like her in every which way. She’s not the type of gal I would want to be stuck with near the punch bowl at a party, but I definitely wouldn’t mind having a casual conversation with her every once and awhile, just to do a quick game of catch-up and see who’s more miserable than the other. With that game, she may win, but it would come pretty close.

So I guess it’s safe to say that Jasmine is an interesting enough character to have a movie revolve around her and her all of her misery and self-indulgence, but the movie doesn’t seem to really go that deep enough into her psyche as to what makes her, well, her. We see what she’s done in her past, how she’s gotten over it, and how terribly she was treated to be such a witch in the present day, but it still didn’t feel right to me. Something, whatever it was, wasn’t perfectly fitting with the tone and the art of this character and I wish I got to know more of her, rather than just snippets of what seemed like a pretty mean person, but a meanie that actually had somewhat of a soul. Allen can do well with these types of characters when he’s focusing on just them and them alone, but he moves the focus all around to where we see more of the supporting characters, rather than her. Which is fine, if they were just as interesting enough as her, but they just aren’t.

That’s not to say that the ensemble doesn’t work well with these roles, because they really do, and make the movie a whole lot better just with their presence being felt. Cate Blanchett gives a great performance as Jasmine as she’s able to capture all of the types of moods and feelings that go through this gal, most of which are abrupt and random, but still realistic enough to warrant some amount of sympathy. As I’ve said up above, Jasmine is an interesting enough character to want to watch a whole movie about her and her ways of getting her life back together, and that’s because Blanchett is able to make us loathe this character, while also feel like she could do a hell of a lot better in her life, if she just lowers her guard a bit and smiles. Then again, with the past that she’s had, you’ll see why maybe putting a grin on that face may be a little easier said then done. Got to give Blanchett a lot of credit for this role, not because she’s able to be funny, mean, and sympathetic all at the same time, but she’s not afraid to “ugly herself up” either.

Assuming she didn't have a problem with his profession.

Assuming she didn’t have a problem with what he does for a living.

Sally Hawkins plays her sissy, Ginger, and is good at playing the trashy-type that’s very different from Jasmine’s stuck-up self. Hawkins has always been a treat to see in any movie she shows up in and it’s good to see her working in something again, especially with Allen. They both comment each other well, as she hits the funny-marks her character is supposed to, while also giving us a nice glimpse inside the world of a lady that just wants as much love and respect as her sister does, she just doesn’t demand it as much. The always-loveable Bobby Cannavale plays Chili, her boyfriend that Jasmine despises, and does a nice job being funny and a bit sweet at the same time. Any movie would have painted this guy as a dick, but here, instead we see him as a guy that just wants to be with the woman he loves and will stop at nothing to do so, even if that means getting a little bitter at times. Especially with Jasmine.

The rest of the cast is fine as well, even if some of their work is only comprising of “showing up on screen for a bit, and then going away seconds later”. Alec Baldwin plays Jasmine’s ex-hubby, Hal, and plays up the d-bag type of character we know and sometimes love him; Louis C.K. almost steals the show playing against-type as a possible match-made-in-heaven for Ginger, which is funny because all he does here is try to play it all smooth and cool, both of which Louis is not, but plays it so well if not just for laughs; Andrew Dice Clay, another random comedian thrown into the mix, is fine as Ginger’s ex-hubby who doesn’t really do anything funny but is good for what he has to do with the material he’s given; Peter Sarsgaard is serviceable as the object of Jasmine’s eyes, and actually feels like a genuinely nice guy that would love and care for her when she needs it the most; and Michael Stuhlbarg is odd and strange as head-dentist of where Jasmine works and does exactly what I said he had to play, and does it well.

Consensus: Though there’s plenty of pleasing moments from Woody’s script, as well as the fine cast that he’s assembled, Blue Jasmine comes off more as a somewhat mediocre flick from his library, if not one that held plenty of potential.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"I have a hangover, somebody get me a bottle of sparkling Burnetts please."

“I have a hangover. Somebody get me a bottle of sparkling Burnetts please.”

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Apparently the sun never comes out in this alternate history, either.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them. It ain’t pretty, trust me.

I have never read the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and to be honest, that may have been a good decision on my-part, since I didn’t really know what was happening and also the fact that I had no idea what type of mood it was going to put me in, because damn man, it’s a total downer. No, I mean it. It is a REAL downer.

However, let’s not talk about all of that sadness that goes on here, let’s focus on the finer things with this flick (and in life) considering I’m not ready to walk into traffic just yet. It was really cool to see director Mark Romanek back after all an 8-year hiatus from movies and take a subject matter like this because he fits it’s feel and style very well. This whole film, from start to finish, is absolutely stunning and beautiful to look at. The whole look has this very dry sense of color the whole time, but it also ended up giving some of the most beautiful images of this movie such as onne image that stands out the most in my mind is the shot of a beach and a little old tugboat was lying on its side in the sand, with the orange sunlight just barely shining over it. That’s one-shot from this film that really stayed with me and made me understand just the type of world I was placed-in with this flick. It’s a dark piece of material we have here, but with Romanek on-board, beauty still finds it’s way of climbing back into the story and presenting itself the whole way through.

I also felt that the mood that Romanek set for this film was just the right way to approach this material to begin with. I don’t want to get into too much about what goes on in this flick and how it all happens, but the fate these kids are left to live are pretty damn sad to begin with and Romanek doesn’t try to gloss that up with any unnecessary humor or themes about the joys of life. No siree, instead he makes this a flick about how we as humans, are supposed to live out our lives and be happy even though it may not always go that exact-way we want it to be. Then again, I highly doubt that that is what the central message of this flick is all about, but it’s what I could get underneath all of the sadness that Mr. Romanek used so well.

The problem was that there was also a bad-side to that depressing mood as well. This flick is so based on being a total debbie-downer, that even the parts where the flick tries to bring some little moments of being happy, they don’t really do much because you know that no matter what happens, the violin score will just come right back on and thus bring on back the sadness that we thought we escaped. There’s no problem with a film being sad the whole time, especially if that’s what it’s mood is conveying straight from the start, but it’s a real problem is when it seems like that’s the only thing that the film has any time to focus on and rather than just giving us something to smile and at least be happy about for the meantime, we are instead treated to total and utter depression. I guess I don’t quite get it since I didn’t read the original source material but I seriously could have only imagined how bad that must have been.

What really brought me into this flick though was the performances here by this young and attractive cast that have all proved themselves in their own respective bouts, but come together here and do a nice-job with some dull-ass characters. Carey Mulligan is great as Kathy H., and once again shows that she has the emotional chops and presence to pull off any character and have you know she is always around. The new Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield, is also nice to watch as Tommy and feels like a real kid who just doesn’t know how to act around girls, or anybody for that matter. Then again, he also got jipped out of being the co-founder of the largest social network of all-time so that may add a bit of insult to injury as well. (teehee, Facebook jokes rule) The real stand-out here may be Keira Knightley though, who is very one-dimensional as the bitchy and manipulative chick, Ruth, but is very good at it unlike anyway we have seen her before.  However, her character does end up starting to change and show some real humanity by the end of the flick and was probably the only character I could actually feel something for once everything was said and done. Which brings me on to my last and final problem with this flick.

I get that these characters are here for a reason that I won’t say, but something just felt off about them to the point of where I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel for any of them. Since there was so much depth to the sadness of this whole plot, the characters themselves are sort of just left on the side and are there for you to care about if you want to or not. The film can be a little stuffy, but it barely let me feel anything for them and then when their fate is finally said to them, it was weird how I didn’t feel any emotional connection. Now it would be hard to say that I could ever relate to anything that any of these characters have been and are going through but I still think as a film, there should have been more emotions centered at the characters rather than just their surroundings. Maybe I was supposed to feel this emptiness or maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel anything for them, maybe it was just for the whole situation itself. Maybe. I don’t know really.

Consensus: If you are in happy mood and want to keep that going, then don’t check out Never Let Me Go, because it is sad, empty (in many ways), and doesn’t have any real moments of shining suns in the sky, but it is also beautiful to look at, a very moody piece that can really put you into its setting, and features a fine young cast that does a great job with all that their given.

7/10=Rental!!

Layer Cake (2004)

Selling ecstasy is the ideal way to become James Bond.

Sleek, well dressed and polite, XXXX (Daniel Craig) looks like any other businessman. Now he’s looking at retiring while he’s still young enough to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. He reckons a couple of days should see him clear of the business. That’s the plan, anyway.

It seems like any British gangster flick that has come out within the past 15 years, all have to be compared to Guy Ritchie films. Ritchie did sort of bring this whole “goofy gangster” type of movie to the public, so it makes sense. But what happens when one of his buddies try to out-do him? Ehh, nothing much.

Instead of relying on off-the-wall humor or a slick style, director Matthew Vaughn, creates a story that is pretty interesting right off from the start and stays that way for awhile. Vaughn brings a whole bunch of plot twists that are sure to mess with you for awhile and he gives us this gritty and mildly bleak look at these characters and the lives they live. I don’t want to say that Vaughn has a pretty distinctive style, because I don’t think he has any set style here whatsoever, but I will say that he knows how to make a regular gangster film look pretty damn depressing just by setting it in certain places that you wouldn’t expect them to be at. I can definitely see why this guy went on to do Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, because he can definitely keep the momentum going no matter what it is that he’s doing.

The plot starts off pretty well and keeps a certain momentum to it that had me into it and watching, but then my interest started to stray away once the plot started digging deeper and deeper. With this story, characters are constantly flying in-and-out with barely any introduction at all and it’s never made clear to us as to what their presence serves to this plot at all. I tried my hardest to remember all of their names right away but as time went on, I found myself almost keeping a tally on my hand as to who was who and who was doing what to whom. It’s a very confusing plot that starts to get a bit more confusing.

Let’s also not forget to add that the characters have some very deep accents where you may only be able to catch about two to three words they say in each of their sentences. I can’t really blame this problem on the film and the actors considering they were born with this accent, but then again, it just adds more annoyance to your head when you’re trying to freakin’ map out everything that’s going on. I know a lot of this sounds like I wish that they dumbed this film down for me but I have to be honest when I say that the accents, countless characters, and plot twists messed me up at times if not for a whole 30-minute period. Then again, I got right back into it by the last act when it starts to become a lot more of a story about all these sort of bad muthtruckas just getting ready to kill one another.

People all say that this is the role that made Daniel Craig the next James Bond and I can definitely see it because this guy is pretty damn good. Craig makes this character (who goes unnamed the whole film on purpose) a very easy one to follow because he’s likable, very sleek and cool, but also is a bit vulnerable and finds himself in a lot of situations that you wouldn’t expect a certain “know-it-all-character” to find himself in. He’s just a good actor and if this was the role that got him his Bond gig, then so be it because he may be the best thing about this film.

It was also pretty cool to see Sienna Miller show up here as nothing more than a hot and sexy lady for Craig’s eyes but I sort of do wish that there was more of her and her character because they could have had a bit of a striking little romance go on here. Also, you may notice a little young performance here from a man known as Tom Hardy playing one of Craig’s lackies, and now that I think about it, I wonder who would win in a fight: Bane or James Bond? Now that would be pretty cool.

Consensus: Layer Cake has a great performance from Daniel Craig and an inspired direction from Vaughn, but it also suffers from being a bit too over-stuffed when it comes to its plot with too many characters, too many twists, and way too many accents that made it harder to understand just what the hell everybody was talking about.

6/10=Rental!!

Cassandra’s Dream (2007)

Why is Woody Allen getting so obsessed with death?

Howdie everybody! It’s the official beginning of school for me today and rather than actually getting too serious with my work, I’m still going to town at the reviews. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving you guys anytime soon.

Anywho, you know how the deal goes down, you check out my latest post on Boomtron, show me some love, comment, rate, or read and that’s basically how the cookie crumbles.

http://www.boomtron.com/2011/09/woody-allens-cassandras-dream-lacks-anything-that-stands-out/

Thanks peeps! Have a great Friday!

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

British people are just so funny!

London teacher Poppy Cross (Sally Hawkins, in a Golden Globe-winning role) is eternally cheerful, but when someone steals her beloved bike, she takes up driving and gets paired with Scott (Eddie Marsan), an instructor who’s her polar opposite. The relationship is strained till Poppy’s bright personality attracts a co-worker, making Scott unexpectedly jealous.

Director Mike Leigh is always known for making true tales, that feature dark drama, but also a great deal of comedy in between. With his he does that so, but not without providing us one of the most lovely, and amusing female characters in quite some time.

The main source of praise here is Sally Hawkins, in a total tour-de-force performance here as Poppy. Poppy is a very likable and memorable character because she is easily the most joyful, playful, and pleasant movie character that has graced the screen in a while. A lot of crazy things happen to Poppy in this movie: she gets her bike stolen, she has to take driving lessons from the most uptight, toxic person one could ever meet, and she talks to a deranged hobo, among other things. Yet even throughout all that, she still smiles, cracks jokes, and keeps her head high. This movie is basically a showcase of Poppy’s unwavering optimism, even when times are at their toughest. But its not just Hawkins that shines, Eddie Marsan does a great job as well. They play these two completley different people, who somehow find ways to argue, as well as entertain the audience with their perfect comedic timing. By the end, there’s one scene by Marsan that is just perfect, and makes you feel so much more with this character.

The screenplay is great as well. It’s funny, with constant jokes just flying out the wahzoo, but there is still a great deal of seriousness to it. The movie shows how we should laugh at every moment in life, dark or funny, but we should also not to forget to take some things seriously in life. That idea is brought up in many points, but not as well as I would have liked it. The ending could have been a lot better, and I wish there was a bit more to it, than just what I got.

There were also some scenes I didn’t quite get and I don’t know why they were put in their other than to just show Poppy, being funny. There’s a scene where she talks to a hobo, so random, and made no sense, as well as another scene, with this bad kid, who is beat at home, that could have been really powerful too, but it didn’t end on anything, and felt like a waste.

Consensus: Happy-Go-Lucky may have some problems with its overall message, and story, but is funny, swiftly written, and features incredible performances from Hawkins, and Marsan, who feed up the screen every time their on it.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!