Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A very private man.

The American

George Clooney is an assassin/weapons designer that lives a private life. He keeps to himself, and does his job. This movie is reflective of that life, very slow, very quiet, there is hardly any music and anything that happens in the film makes you jump. Just as Clooney jumps.

You see when you are an assassin and people are after you, they can attack from anywhere at any time, so he walks around very carefully and is always looking over his shoulder. I got that feeling too and even someone saying “hello” was enough to make me jump.

He wakes up every morning by getting startled, and grabbing his gun, he cannot get close to anyone because they could be a spy. He cant love anyone because they could get killed.

This was a really effective film and I was on the edge of me seat the whole time, while simultaneously admiring the filming and the location of Italy. Great shots, great story, great suspense and great paranoia!

Go see this – ill be buying it for sure. One of the best of the year, and maybe in the top 5.



Staying alive.

Saturday Night Fever.

Whatever you think about this movie I am here to say that this was a well done slice of life picture that really has something to say without hammering it down on you.

The main character, played by Travolta is very interesting. He’s not the nicest guy, his family is typical, and his neighbourhood is rough. He’s part of a gang – which you pretty much had to be to survive, he is always being compared to his brother, who is a priest – tough to live up to those expectations, his only real skill is dancing, and he’s pretty darn good.

I really don’t want to give away the plot of this movie, cause I thought it would be something totally different than what it was. Nothing cheesy about this movie, and its very rough – language, drug use, sexual situations, really heavy drama.

I loved it. One of the best “teen” movies ever made if not the best. Powerful storytelling, and a really involving plot. You will find something to love in this picture.



Not the pizza chain.

Little Cesar.

Edward G Robinson stars at Cesar – a precursor to Scarface (the remake). This is the tale of the rise and fall of a mobster and its pretty darn good.

Cesar wants to make it in the business, so he goes out and does it. Scarface (with Pacino) is basically a remake of this and original Scarface (duh).

If you like mobsters check it ou!



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome to...

I liked Ben Affleck's other directed movie, Gone Baby Gone, so I thought I would check this one out, too. Even though he's once again doing a film based in Boston, and once again, it's based on a novel, I thought hey, if Scorsese or Allen can always make films based in NYC, why not Affleck? Then I realized I was defending the man without even seeing the film, and stopped.

So, The Town is a really solid drama/heist film, that is elevated somewhat by the performances of the cast, especially Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner. Okay, before everyone starts ranting, all you can calm the hell down: Affleck can act. This movie proves it. The guy's could get an Oscar nod, he carries the film acting-wise, and is the moral centre of the picture. He can carry a picture, and he's a damned fine actor. His scene where he finally snaps on Renner is pretty powerful. I was glad to see Renner prove The Hurt Locker was no fluke either, his edgy performance as Affleck's best friend might see him nomed again, as well. The other actors are pretty good too, with an honourable mention to Jon Hamm as the dogged FBI guy who walks a fine line between reason and intimidation to crack the case.

The story itself is nothing new. 4 guys are doing bank and armoured car heists, wearing different getups. The job at the start sees Affleck's crew use Rebecca Hall to get into the vault, and then they inexpicably take her hostage. Affleck follows her afterwards to make sure she knows nothing, and they start a romance, naturally. Affleck is the guy who wants to break away from the gang, and go straight, but no one will let him. As he gets in deeper, you begin to question if he will walk away, or end up another casualty in the rough neighbourhood he and his cronies hail from.

Okay, so nothing Earth-shattering, but pretty good, and the movie was for the most part, enthralling. It would have been better though, if so many of the actors chose not to adorn thick Boston accents. I couldn't understand what some of them were saying, half the time. Also, for authenticity, they use slang and lingo familiar to people from Boston, or from people in Charlestown, the section of Boston that the film is set in. Once again, that's all nice and well for authenticity, but I AM NOT FROM BOSTON! I don't know what they were talking about, and I actually wrote a book set in Boston! So, that sort of took me out of the movie, a little bit.

The other thing was, and you can't avoid this with the subject matter, but there is a slight element of who cares to this movie, in relation to the characters. They're all bank robbers, quite a few of them are drug users, and Renner kills and shoots guys pretty indiscriminately. Affleck wants to go straight, but trust me, he isn't an angel, either. While the film sets up that this is pretty much how the residents of Charlestown are, where apparently they have the most bank robberies per capita in the United States (a fact posted before the movie), you take a risk when you make a film about such people, because basically they're lowlifes. If you're okay with that, fine, but if not, be warned, these guys are bad guys, and you're going to be following them around for most of the movie.

So, that's The Town. I enjoyed it for what it was, and am encouraged that Affleck has proven to be a solid director so far. This film is definitely Oscar-bait, so expect to hear more about it when awards season starts.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

The movie that never should have been made

Before you begin to wonder if I'm so bored that I'm just opting to watch complete trash nowadays, I saw this movie for FREE (which is the only way I would see it) on the plane ride back from Las Vegas. On the way up, they showed Letters to Juliet, but unfortunately (or fortunately), one of my headphones didn't work, so I couldn't hear the movie, so I didn't bother. Anyhow, the Fates were not smiling on me twice in one trip, so I sat through this movie, and's terrible.

For those of you who may not know, Marmaduke is based on a comic book strip about a great dane (I got him confused with the big red dog, who I think is Clifford), who lives with the Winslows, and gets in all sorts of misadventures. For some reason, some person thought this was a good idea to make into a movie. Not only that, they got an all-star voice cast for this movie. Don't believe me?

How about Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Fergie, Keifer Sutherland, Sam Elliott, Marlon Wayans, Damon Wayans Jr. , Steve Coogan, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Holy crap. I hope these actors all got a lot of money to do this, because they've all done a lot better...even the Wayans guys, or Fergie. Not only that, the live-action cast includes William H. Macy. As in ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED William H. Macy. Man, the producers for this film must have had blackmail photos.

The story is just awful. The Winslow's move from Kansas to California, because of Phil's job. Phil has this antagonistic relationship with Marmaduke, for no real reason. So right off the bat, if you don't like the dog, why have it? It's not like anyone else in the family seems to care about the dog, either. Okay, so Marmaduke goes to this dog park with Phil, and meets the rest of the voice actors. They set it up like a high-school situation. There's the cool dogs, and the outsider dogs. The cool dogs throw parties, where the other "cool dogs" show up. Okay, so obviously no one in California gives a damn about their dogs, because there's multiple parties, and the dogs always show up. Don't the owners care about their dogs? The high-school stuff is embarassing, too. I mean, it's just like a typical high-school comedy, but with dogs. Instead of a guy chugging beer, we have a dog chugging water out of the toilet. Really? Was this even necessary?

Don't worry though, the human actors are just as bad. William H. Macy gets my vote for the worst line of the year. Okay, at the end of the film, Marmaduke runs away from home (trying to be a cool dog, he hurts his outsider dog friend's feelings, as well as ruins Phil's big presentation...don't ask), and the family rallies together to find Marmaduke. Phil is faced with the big decision: go to the presentation, or look for Marmaduke? This being a crapola-fest, he of course decides to look for Marmaduke, prompting Macy to fire him. One completely unneccessary action sequence later, and the family is brought back together. Later at the dog park, Phil runs into Macy, who gives him his job back. The reason? "I admire a man who puts his dog ahead of his career." It should be noted that Macy said this a straight face, therefore he automatically qualifies for an Oscar. That has to be the most ridiculous line I've heard in a long, long time. I can't even continue commenting on it, it's so bad.

The rest of the characters are stereotypes. You have the down-to-Earth wife/Mom who keeps the family grounded. You have the bitchy teenage girl who dresses like jailbait to impress hot, beach-going guys. You have the quiet son who basically disappears into the woodwork. This movie is just bad, top-to-bottom, acting wise, story wise, yes, they have the mouths of the animals CGI'ed so when they speak, you can see them saying the words, but even that's lame. It's all lame. There's nothing good about this movie.

Rating 1 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

Not the regular guys

So I caught this flick. I thought the previews looked funny, and I usually catch 1 or more comedies a year, so I've hit my quota, I think. I've never been a Wahlberg fan, and Will Ferrell is really hit or miss with me (mostly miss), but the cast intrigued me, so I figured why not?

Well there are a few laughs in this film, and not just stuff in the trailers. I really liked the gag sequence when the two guys are repeatedly bribed by Steve Coogan, and don't know it, and also liked Will Ferrel hiding in the bushes across from his in-laws house and trading dirty things he'd liked to do with Eva Mendes, and vice-versa, through her elderly mother, or grandmother, or whoever the lady with the walker was. Another funny bit is when Michael Keaton forgets where he is, and tells his staff at Bed, Bath and Beyond to be on the lookout for a rapist.

That being said, there's also quite a bit not to like about this movie. First of all, everyone other than Will Ferrell and Eva Mendes is a schmuck. Wahlberg is a hyper-ass. He hates Ferrell for no good reason, he tries to score with Mendes in front of Ferrell (even though he supposedly loves another woman), and he's just an overall ass, he wasn't really funny, and he wasn't really fun to follow around. Then there's The Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. They're only in 3 scenes, but they talk about how the Rock is sleeping with one of the other detective's wives, obviously because he's so cool. Blech. What garbage. There's also another pair of cops, who are just complete assholes, and rivals to Ferrell and Wahlberg. They taunt them mercilessly about how they're going to take over the Rock and Jackson's roles as alpha male cops after they die. Once again, they're pissed off and taunting Ferrell and Wahlberg for no known reason. It's just stupidity.

Then there's Ferrell's backstory. Apparently, he's uptight because he was a pimp in college (named Gator), and because of this, he now goes the opposite way to not go into this Gator persona. However, he does lapse into this persona once in a while, and spouts stereotypical black pimp language. It's not funny, and it's not necessary. It's just idiotic.

Now let's talk about the storyline. I can't describe the storyline. I know that Steve Coogan is the guy they're after, but I don't really know why. I don't know why Ray Stevenson has to keep him with him at all times, and at the end of the film, I don't know why he's selling Coogan to the highest bidder. It makes no sense, but it has something to do with Coogan making bad investments? So why would you sell him? Unless you're passing him off as someone who knows what he's doing? But then, why do it? It makes no sense. Likewise, Anne Heche is in it, and they keep showing her, and alluding that she has something to do with it, as well. This is never made clear, however. It's just a jumbled up mess, it looks like they tried to over-complicate a script for a fairly assinine comedy. Tried to raise it's level, and made it one more strike against the movie.

So, there's The Other Guys. I didn't pay money for it, I'm happy to report. Check it out for free if you can, because it's not worth paying for.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Machete plus.


Our first intro to Danny Trejo was in “Desperado” (at least when I first saw him), and I only remember him as “pissed off guy with knives” – and that sort of what he is in this movie!

His other memorable role was “Uncle Machete” in the Spy Kids series – so I guess this film, simply titled “Machete” is a prequel to Spy Kids?

As we all know this was one of the fake trailers that was screened before Planet Terror during the Grindhouse film (now separated into two distinct films, instead of one long one) but it was so popular that Rodriguez felt he should expand it into a real movie. He had a script for it from a while ago and always planned on doing something more with the character.

So here we have it. The movie was great! Great characters, great action and Trejo is just so cool as this character. The music as usual for Rodriguez, is amazing and I like the overall feel of the picture.

My only gripe is that its wasn’t done in the “grindhouse” style of crappy editing and old looking footage that has been scratched etc. Also, although I loved all the actors, I felt they sort of took away a bit from Trejo himself. I mean Steven Seagal, Rob DiNiro, Jess Alba, Michelle Rodriguez (who was wicked), Lindsey Lohan, Cheech Marin, Jeff Fahey, and Don Johnson! My god that’s a big cast! Danny is the lead, but Alba has a lot do also, and sometimes – especially during the center half, I was missing Trejo.

I kinda wanted the film to be more just about him being a badass, not just another character who the film happened to be named for. Think Inglourious Basterds – that movie wasn’t so much about them, even though the movie was named after them.

This film is about Machete – but he shares too much screen time with others – even though the others were really interesting characters on their own. But I just wanted more of him. I also wish the gore was shown a bit better – they cut away from the guts too much (except for that intestine part – that was jokes).

I guess you cant have everything. Overall I still really really enjoyed the film and I will be buying it big time!

Machete Kills is next (then Machete Kills Again) – hopefully those will actually get made!



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The further adventures of ...


The samurai hero of Yojimbo returns here. His name is Sanjuro and so is the title of the movie (think First Blood and then Rambo). This time around Sanjuro is helping 9 young samurai fight against the corruption in their clan.

I don’t know what you readers think is a well written story – Seven, Usual Suspects, maybe Fight Club – these are the movies that sort of come up when one mentions the writing. Well forget all those and say Sanjuro. To me, good writing is when the writer questions what the audience would.

Sanjuro is supposed to be super smart as well as a great fighter (he can rival Lone Wolf with his dispatchment of 20 or more men at once) but his planning is what makes him great.

At one point the 9 samurai want to attack the bad guys who are travelling light. Now the audience watching this film knows this is a trap, and the 9 samurai should too, but they are very naïve and are filled with valor and want to act. Sanjuro acts like the audience and tells them not to go. Then calls them fools for thinking they should! This is just one example out of many in this film. BUT it forces the writer to come up with something else to do.

If the storyline is setting up a trap, most movies would have the 9 samurai fall into the trap and then Sanjuro would have to go save them. But not here, he stops them, so now the writers have to alter the storyline. This happens a few times in this film so that the writers are always on their toes and so are we. You never know what will happen next and even when a plot point is being set up, we aren’t sure if it will follow through.

That is what makes a well written movie to me. Constantly using Sanjuro to tell the 9 that they have to smarten up because the audience who is watching them is smart too!

The other point this film makes is that no one is what they appear to be. Sanjuro appears to be a beggar but is actually an honourable samurai, the guard appears bad, but he is actually a good person, the ugly man – who everyone thinks is a villain is really a good guy, and so on. Sanjuro himself confirms this when he explains to the 9 that they shouldn’t judge by appearances!

The film also has some really great actions scenes and the character of Sanjuro is explored a little bit more here.

In the first film Sanjuro just wants to kill all the bad guys in the movie – since almost every character was evil, we didn’t need to know anything about Sanjuro to realize that he is obviously the good guy.

For the second movie, we know he’s the good guy, but we get a glimpse into his true nature. He insults people when he means to complement them. It’s just his way of talking. He actually cares for these 9 fools and helps them, not for money, like in Yojimbo, but for a sense of good.

He is also compared to a sword that cannot be sheathed. His violent nature is questioned by one of the female characters in film. We never questioned it in Yojimbo, because everyone in that movie was a gangster and deserved to die (well by Sanjuro’s reasoning).

But there are good people in this film and Sanjuro’s violence is questioned and even put to the test. He is about to kill a random guard, but is told not to by the lead female and so he lets him live – and later we find out that the guard was actually a really good man who was just fooled into believing his master was the good guy! When have you EVER IN YOUR LIFE seen that happen in a movie???? If so, tell me, cause I never did! So Sanjuro would have been wrong in killing that man, which begs the question – how many other random guards were really good men? Sanjuro is never cruel though and everyone he killed was a do or die situation, but the guard was different because they had captured him and it would’ve been an execution, not an act of war. But Sanjuro only knows dis-trust and killing, he is sword that never in it’s sheath. And as the lady points out, the best swords stay in their Sheaths.

The best swords are kept in their sheath’s was a statement that lingered with Sanjuro for the rest of the film and he uses the line to teach the samurai a lesson in the end and it’s a great metaphor for this film.

This and Yojimbo are MUST BUYS for everyone who reads this. Both masterpieces.



Dont flog me.

Mutiny on the Bounty.

Clark Gable cant take any more abuse from the British Captain of the Bounty so he and the other shipmates take it over.

This is considered a classic and it’s pretty good. It really wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be, but that being said it was an enjoyable movie. The Captain is cruel, but not too fake – although he still gives the order to whip a man who is already dead. But it seems like this sort of thing could happen and probably did.

At sea there really isn’t any law, and you can pretty much do whatever you want. I did like that the Captain wasn’t just some evil guy, he was actually a good ship Captain. When they get stranded at one point, he manages to command the ship to safety.

Good performances raise the basic story to a 3, instead of a 2.5.



Friday, September 3, 2010

Just one, not 300.


Val Kilmer is a special agent and is assigned to find a missing girl. Who she is and why she is missing is the story and I wont really give it away.

This is the writer/director of Redbelt – which readers of this blog will know that I loved. Well score another one for this guy, this movie was amazing!

Right from the first second it started I was hooked and Val’s character is so wicked, I could follow him around for hours!

He is pure business and trained to be the best (like a Spartan) he doesn’t ask questions, he just follows orders and gets the job done.

I don’t want to give the plot away here because I plan on buying this and showing it to others, but I just want to say that since this movie is based in a real world, things like accidents, mistakes and misunderstandings can lead to some great twists in the story just like in the real world.

You plan on doing something a certain way, then something random happens that you couldn’t foresee and you have to change the plan.

This happens a few times in this film and you wont see it coming!