Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Weronika Rosati

Inland Empire (2006)

Wait. What?

Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is an accomplished actress who, after much time spent waiting and wondering, finally gets the role as the lead in On High in Blue Tomorrows. It’s supposed to be her comeback role, so to speak, so there’s a lot of pressure wearing on it, not to mention, a lot of pressure from her husband not to fall in love with her co-star Devon (Justin Theroux). Sure, it can be done, but the two are playing characters who are having an affair, making it a tad bit harder. However, the director (Jeremy Irons) trusts that both of them will keep it as professional as can be and will make sure that the movie comes out perfectly, because believe it or not, it’s been attempted before, but for some reason, the movie just hasn’t been made. Why, though? Eventually, Nikki and Devon find out and it causes both of them to start imagining weird, rather insane things, that they don’t know if is real, or not.

Wait, what?

Honestly, there’s a lot more to the premise of Inland Empire, in that there’s not just one story, but about three or four more of them, none of which make a single lick of sense, or better yet, ever seem to come together in a way that you’d imagine. Now, if sitting around for three hours and watching as a bunch of random stories get told to you in the most confusing manner imaginable sounds like a good time, then be my guest and enjoy the hell out of Inland Empire.

I, however, didn’t and just couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. Sure, there were things to admire and of course, this is David Lynch we’re talking about here, so I can’t be all that surprised, but still, it just didn’t quite work for me. There was so much going on, without any rhyme or reason, that after awhile, I had to sort of give up and just accept the fact that the movie’s going way beyond my intelligence and I’m best to just let it do its thing and see if I can make it up in the end.

Spoiler alert: I couldn’t.

Sure, is that more of a problem with me, as opposed to the movie? Definitely, but by the same token, there is something to be said for a three-hour movie that not only feels every bit of it, but never seems to show any signs of actually going anywhere. Lynch is well-known for doing this sort of thing time and time again, and while it’s always had me happy and rather pleased, this go around, it just didn’t work. It seemed like too much meandering and craziness for the sake of being meandering and crazy, as if there wasn’t a whole lot of story, but weird and surreal imagery that Lynch just had to get out of his system.

And okay, it makes sense, because the look and feel of this movie is, above all else, freaky. Then again, how could it not? Filmed on a hand-held digital-camera, the movie is grainy, dirty and downright gritty, but in a way, it’s also more terrifying for that reason alone, often times feeling like a documentary, than another glitsed-up flick. Film itself can do wonders, but digital-video can also do the same, especially when you’re really trying to go for an aura of realism, even if, you know, there’s nothing realistic happening here.

No seriously, what?

And once again, that’s all me. The movie gets away doing its thing, but it’s so frustrating to watch, that no matter what Lynch does behind the camera and how much inspiration may come out of him, it just didn’t connect for me. There’s a lot going on here and a lot that randomly happens, but the only thing I could remember clearly in my head was a very few haunting-images, bunny-rabbits, a dance to “the Locomotion”, and a lot of walking down hallways.

Like, a lot.

But Laura Dern, all issues aside, is great here and gives it everything she’s got. There’s no denying that Dern’s probably perfect for Lynch’s creepy, twisted and warped mind, and it’s why her performance here, with so many shades shown, is something to watch. Even when it seems like the rest of the movie has gone far, far away, she’s always there, working her rump off and making sure that everything sticks together. She allows for it to do so, too, it’s just a shame that it didn’t fully connect at the end.

For me, at least.

Consensus: Absolutely confusing, weird and random, Inland Empire is a hard movie to get into, mostly due to its frustrating plot, but there is some art to be seen here.

5 / 10

See, even Laura doesn’t know.

Photos Courtesy of: Pretty Clever FilmsFour Three Film


Bullet to the Head (2013)

Rocky traded in his gloves, for a junk-load of guns and nobody cared. Poor guy.

After hitman Jimmy “Bobo” (Sylvester Stallone) is set up on a hit on him and his partner gets killed for it by a ruthless mercenary named Keegan (Jason Momoa), he isn’t quite happy so therefore, he sets out to gain revenge on these rat bastards who put a bounty on his head. Seems like a simple job of killing people, getting money, and relaxing with a bottle of whisky at the end of the day, for Bobo, but it all gets a bit screwed up once a detective (Sung Kang) gets in the way and try to get them to work together, and if not, well, then Bobo’s going to jail for all of the bad shite that he’s done in the past. Obviously Bobo would much rather take the job than the price to pay, but it becomes harder and harder for these two to really get along and actually come to terms that one of them has to go to jail for something, along the line.

First, Arnie got his big comeback movie that bombed, and now Sly gets his comeback movie, and it bombed as well. What’s the dealio, folks?!?! Even though the latter’s bomb wasn’t as bad as the former’s, it’s still sad to know that these two guys, despite the action icons that they once were, and still are in a way today, can’t seem to cut a break with the current movie-going audience as people can’t really accept older dudes still kicking ass, shooting guns, and having the coolest things to say, as if they were still in their late-20’s/early 30’s. It doesn’t work on us anymore and it’s a shame too, because these guys will always and forever be in our hearts, even if their names may not be attached to our tickets. Sad, sad, sad. But hey, at least they still have some fun for the most part, right?

Well, I can’t lie, but yeah, they do. The Last Stand was a pretty entertaining movie that knew it was dumb and had a fun time being so, and this movie is sort of the same thing, with obvious differences seen. Actually, probably one of the main differences between the two is that that one was probably a lot better, whereas this one is just something that you watch, have fun with, but are really reminded that you lost your brain for an hour-and-a-half. I mean, yeah; Arnie’s movie wasn’t on top of the IQ level either, but hell, at least it didn’t have me feel like I just smoked a ton of pot by all of the brain cells that I lost.

"Oooh! Close one! Nice job!"

“Oooh! Close one! Nice job!”

That’s exactly what this flick made me feel like when it was over and yeah, maybe that’s the point, but at least more effort and time could have been put into this thing. Then again, the fact that it was pushed-back two years from it’s original release date, and that Walter Hill hasn’t really made a good movie in awhile, I guess I can sort of see why it’s so bad at times. The tone is just all-over-the-place, because it can’t make up it’s mind as to whether or not it wants to be a buddy-cop comedy or a straight-up action thriller, with Sly’s little comments on the side. There are times when the movie seems like it wants to be funny with Sly and Kang, and there are other times where it seems like it wants to be serious and melodramatic with it’s action, guns,  and violence, but it never makes sense of which way it’s going.

It’s almost as if Hill got stuck in the middle of an intersection, had his GPS fizzle out on him, and he just sat there, called  AAA, and continued to wait and wait until someone or something saved him. Stupid analogy, I know, but it’s all that I could come up with, since Hill didn’t seem to come up with anything else here, other than a bunch of scenes of people using a bunch of exposition, going from point-A to point-B, and saying that they are going to kill the other one in a violent, scary way. That’s all there is to it, and when the action actually does come around and liven things up a bit; it doesn’t do it’s job like it should, which is a huge bummer since we know where Hill and Sly come from.

So, why the hell was this such a bummer?!?!

It’s rated-R, it has blood, it has shooting, it has violence, and it even has nudity (thank the high heavens for Sarah Shahi), so why the hell does this flick not capitalize on the fact that it could have been something straight from the 80’s? I honestly have no clue, but with all of the shaky-cam elements and the toning back of being violent and brutal, just for the sake of being so, I can tell that Sly and Hill’s control sort of got lessened-down, month by month, once this movie began to make it’s way to the theaters. It’s a real shame too, because together, you’d think that these guys would have had a total blast working together and would want to show it; but something didn’t feel right here. I guess I just wanted a bit more than I was given. So be it, I’m greedy.

But if there was anybody at all involved with this movie that seemed to be having fun, it was Sly himself as Bobo, a great character for a great action star. Sly may be getting older, but in terms of his acting and his physical-being; it does not show. Yeah, the dude is 66 and you’ll sometimes wonder how a man of his age and his stature can still do half of the shit that Bobo does, but you’ll be willing to forgive and forget about it once Sly takes out the guns (literal and joking sense), starts hammering away at some baddies, and uses some of the best lines I’ve heard him use in quite some time. He makes fun of the fact that he’s getting older and what he used to do back in the day, but it isn’t as jokey as his Expendables movies are.

"See, dad? Because you weren't there for me when I was growing up, I now look like the walls in the Subway."

“See, dad? Because you weren’t there for me when I was growing up, I now look like the side streets of Philly.”

Everybody else compared to Sly, are disappointments. However, not huge ones because you can tell that they were only doing it for the money, and weren’t too concerned with how their careers looked after it was over. You could have gotten rid of Sung Kang in this movie and I would have not noticed a single lick of a difference here whatsoever, except that the movie would have probably sped-up a lot quicker and even been better in most areas, too. It’s not that the dude’s bad, but the script he’s given is such crap, that he doesn’t have much development or emotional connection to this story whatsoever, that you just wish Sly would flip his switch and kill him off. He isn’t as annoying as I may make him sound, but he sure as hell is boring and a waste of time to watch, especially when he’s next to Sly who seems like he’s just having a grand time being himself, and nothing else.

Consensus: There is plenty of dumb, silly, and nonsensical violence and action to be found in Bullet to the Head that will still make you feel as if you are watching an old-school movie, starring a very old-school Stallone, but everything else around him goes terribly, terribly wrong in their own ways that it brings him, as well as the movie, down to near-boredom.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"You're so old that nobody goes to see your movies unless you have all of your other OLD friends with you. Okay, should I leave now?"

“You’re so old that nobody goes to see your movies unless you have all of your other OLD friends with you. Okay, should I leave now?”

Photo’s Credit to:

The Iceman (2013)

That “bank job” daddy gets all the big bucks from? Yeah, it’s really just him slaying mobsters.

Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) is a family-man that loves his wife (Winona Ryder) and his two daughters and wants to support them in any way that he can. His original job, dubbing audio porn, even though he tells his closest family members that they’re “cartoons”, gets run-down by powerful mob moss Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta). Demeo, however, senses some sort of potential in this tall, quiet, and scary-looking man. So, he puts him to work where he becomes a contract killer that gets rid of people for these powerful mob families, and eventually starts working with a fellow hitman (Chris Evans). However, once the reward gets bigger, so does the risk, and this is where Kuklinski finds himself coming up short, in deals that should have been made a long, long time ago and done a lot cleaner as well.

After seeing this movie, I did myself a little research on who Richard Kuklinski really was, and all I have to say is: Holy crap. Not only did the guy work for the mob and do their dirty-work, but he killed from about 100 to 250 people. If that’s not a sign of a cold-hearted, sick, sadistic mofo, I don’t know what is! But that’s the whole point of this movie. Yes, even though it does understand that he was an unlikable dude who killed people for a living, it doesn’t shy away from showing as just that, but with a small ounce of humanity; that small ounce being that he loves his family, and doesn’t kill women or children. It’s nothing new or original that we haven’t seen before, but most of what we see here is true and it works in the movie’s favor.

"Hey, you talkin' to me? You muthafucka!!"

“Hey, you talkin’ to me? You muthafucka!!”

Also, the movie should be commended for never allowing Kulkinski himself to come off as a forgiving, lovely soul. He may have had traits to his character that made him an alright guy, but overall, he’s a pretty disgusting man. He killed people, did it for money, gave that money to his family, but in return, also put their lives in danger as well. His heart may be in the right place, but his brain wasn’t and that’s only one of the very few mistakes the guy makes. However, as few as they may be, they’re still mistakes and he paid for them. Big time.

But enough of my mugging, on with the movie. What worked with this movie was that yes, even though it’s about a despicable space of human-flesh, the movie never asks us for sympathy for him, or anybody else around him. We’re supposed to make up our own minds on who’s a good person, and who isn’t. Sometimes the result don’t come as cut-and-dry as in some other cases, from some other movies, but that’s what made this more of a compelling watch. You never know what’s really going on beneath the surface of these characters, what they’re going to pull off next, why, and how. Even if you do know how it ends and you can make up your own conclusions about what happens to some of these character-figures portrayed in the movie, it still grips you and has you for a full-on ride.

Problem is, it’s not that the real-life story itself is as conventional as it comes, it’s just the movie itself. The only way this movie can differentiate itself from many of the other mobster movies out there is that it’s about a hitman, front-and-center, and shows him for all that he is, without any strings attached. Other than that, everything that happens in this movie, from the murders, to the drug-deals, to the hold-ups, and even to the discrete, business meetings in porno theaters; have all but been pretty much done to death by now, and most likely done even better, in far more original and thrilling movies. Not to say that this movie isn’t something that you could watch and not get involved with, it’s just that there’s nothing here really separating itself from the rest of the clan of dark, gritty, mobster movies that have a lot of violence, and a lot of cuss-words.

That said, the movie mainly benefits from Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski, and does everything in his will-power to make this character work. He succeeds, and thankfully, keeps this movie moving along whenever seems to be slowing down a bit too much for it’s own good. Shannon is the type of actor who’s been churning out works of perfection for the longest while, that it shouldn’t be a surprise how great he is here as Kulkinski, but once again, the dude shows us that he can handle any piece of material, as long as it’s weighty and dramatic enough for him to act his ass off with. Instead of going for the full-blown, crazy-act that we all know Michael Shannon for, the man surprisingly keeps it dialed-down, where we see more brooding from him here, than we ever have before. Take for instance the scene where Ray Liotta holds a gun up to his head. Any movie that features that scene alone, should automatically scary any actor on the opposite-end, but not Shannon. The man does not flinch, he barely blinks, and he doesn’t show any signs of fear in his soul; he just lets it all happen because he himself, is a bad person, he knows it, and doesn’t care what happens. That scene may have been the most memorable for many reasons, but the main one being that Shannon pulls out every emotion within that character that we need to know, in a short and lean 5 minutes.

"That's my husband. My murdering, sick, and insane son-of-a-bitch husband."

“That’s my husband. My murdering, sick, and insane son-of-a-bitch husband.”

What an actor that Michael Shannon. What a freakin’ actor!

Speaking of Ray Liotta, even though the guy’s playing the same role we’ve seen him play a hundred-and-fifty times by now, the guy still owns it as the powerful mob boss that takes Kulkinski in first and foremost, Roy Demeo. The two who are actually stretching their acting-muscles here, Winona Ryder and a nearly-unrecognizable Chris Evans, do very-well with their performances and show that they can for it all, even when they have to play it back and go for smaller, shorter stuff in these indies. Especially Ryder, who gives us the character of a wife who’s practically left in the dark about what her hubby does for money and support, but doesn’t seem at all stupid or idiotic in any way. It seems like she knows what’s really cooking, but at the same time, you can’t be too sure because she doesn’t let too much on about her mind, just enough to have us as curious as she is. Nice to see her finally getting more acting-roles as of late, as it’s a shame that the only reason she fell down the ladder was because of the little “stealing-mishap”. Come on, people! It was over a decade ago! Learn, live, and forgive!

Consensus: Everything that happens in The Iceman, is everything you’d expect to see from another crime-drama of it’s kind, but what separates it from the rest of the pack is Michael Shannon’s powerful performance in the lead, one that doesn’t ask for our sympathy, but gives us a person who was real and as compelling as they got.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Seems like Cap got discovered a little too early. In the 70's, perhaps.

Seems like Cap got discovered a little too early. In the 70’s, perhaps.

Photos Credit to: