Monday, December 6, 2010

Black Swan

I've been away from my site for about 5 months now and without going into detail about why, needless to say, I'm back! What a great 2010 Summer it's been for films, and with it all closing into the new year we are also having one hell of an award season. With films like Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, 127 Hours, Winters Bone, The Town, The Fighter, and Black Swan, I have been very busy at the theater in the past few months. Still on the way this year we have True Grit, Tron: Legacy, and my most anticipated film of the year....Blue Valentine. I'm going to start my return to this site with my review of Black Swan which I saw earlier today.

I was expecting nothing short of being entertained to the fullest while walking into the theater with the digital marque above reading Black Swan. I was so excited as I walked to my seat. I was heading into the ring to face one of the most talented people in the biz....Darren Aronofsky. Not only does this guy have a rep for beating the shit out of his actors and bringing the best out of them, he also tends to have the same effect on his audience. So instead of putting up a fight I just sat back, relaxed, and took a beating. It was great.

The film stars Natalie Portman as Nina, an obsessive ballet dancer who just scored the lead role in the production of Swan Lake. As she struggles to prepare for the role physically and mentally she comes to realize that it's much harder than she thought. The exceptional supporting cast includes Mila Kunis as Lily, the extraordinary Barbara Hershey as Nina's mother Erica, Winona Ryder as Beth, and Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy the director of Swan Lake. Every performance is great in this film but the one who really shines is Portman. As I watched her battle her demons on screen, deal with her over protective and obsessive mother, and dance on as good as any professional ballet dancer I've seen, I was wooed. Just learning the art of basic ballet on it's own would be too much for a lot of actors out there to take on. Portman takes it to the next level. Barbara Hershey plays one of the creepiest mothers I've seen in film this year and she's absolutely flawless as she not only loves her daughter more than ever, but also psychotically obsesses over her at the same time. Mila Kunis' Lily is wild, careless, sexy, and seductive. Need I say more?

The score is soft and elegant piano in some scenes and eery as hell in others. The cinematography is very similar to The Wrestler with the close behind shots of Portman walking around and with the sudden quick close-ups which make for some great jumps of sheer fright for the audience. Black Swan is destined to get a whole bunch of noms and wins this awards season. I could talk about it more but not without giving away it's secrets. Black Swan gets an 8 outs 10.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Iron Man 2

The start of the Summer movie madness has officially begun!! The sun is out, the weather is hot as hell, and Iron Man 2 is finally here!! I love everything about the Summer time. But the things I like most are the Summer blockbusters that soar into theaters and create sell out midnight showings and cheering crowds. It's almost like going to a rock concert every Friday for 3 months straight....except better. This Summer started off quite nicely with Iron Man 2 as I had the pleasure of seeing it opening night this past Thursday at midnight.

If you haven't already seen the first Iron Man just stop what you're doing and go buy it now, it's great. If you have then you're like me and have been waiting for the sequel ever since the credits started to roll after the first one. The film opens with the Russian Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke, sitting by his father as he dies right there at his side. Ivan can I put this....fucking PISSED. For some reason or another we learn in the following scene that this is somehow Tony Starks fault and Ivan immediately goes to work on his own suit to be able to get revenge on Tony and the Stark family name. We then cut to Stark flying into his own Expo in the Iron Man suit followed by a court appearance where we then learn that he has yet another enemy who want's to put Stark out of biz, Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell. Following that scene we realize that Tony is becoming poisoned by the Iron Man chest piece heart thing and he's slowly dying. That's really the entire story right there in a nutshell.

After an incredible scene at the Monte Carlo race track in Italy where Vanko and Stark battle it out, Justin Hammer soon realizes that he needs Vanko's skills, badly if he wants to create a suit that's tough enough to face the Iron Man. Hammer soon breaks Vanko out of jail and they immediately get to work. Vanko and Hammer were my favorite characters in the film and although Robert Downy Jr. is always great, I thought Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell did the best acting jobs in the film. Rourke spent some time off screen in a Russian prison to conduct research fro the role, researched and learned how to speak the Russian language, and apparently wore his own clothes during his scenes. His overall appearance was a little over the top but I actually really liked it. It was original.

Although it was fun I definitely had some complaints with the film. First off there's about a half hour of the film in the middle that I thought was really bad. It's the scene where Stark has a birthday party at his house and he ends up fighting War Machine. It was so over the top, goofy, and just kinda stupid. It just didn't work for me. Second, I hated how War Machine (Rhodey) was introduced. I mean he just hops in the suit and starts fighting Iron Man, his friend, at his own party. I understand why he did it but I thought it was poorly done and I thought in place of that ENTIRE party scene/fight we should have seen Rhodey actually learn how to use the suit. It would've been more epic. Now the result is that I don't give a shit about the War Machine character, they lost my interest now. Also they should've just kept Terrance Howard in the role because Don Cheadle didn't bring jack to the role, he sucked. Thirdly, Tony was a TAD just a TAD over the top with all his comedy. I mean it was to the point where I didn't believe that Tony Stark could even have a serious conversation with someone without cracking a joke and talking a mile a minute. But I DID like him, that was just a minor set back for me.

All in all I enjoyed Iron Man 2 but not quite as much as the first one. It's definitely a blu-ray that I will buy for sure and watch many more times, especially the Monte Carlo scene. Also another thing I loved was John Favreau's character, Happy Hogan. He was hilarious in this and had much more screen time than in the first one. Favs did a great job playing him. SPOILER- Stay after the credits to see Thor's hammer. Iron Man 2 gets a 7 outa 10.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Finally after all the buzz and anticipation, yesterday afternoon during opening weekend I was able to see Kick-Ass!! I used to really be into comic books when I was a kid and had a pretty large collection. I was really into Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman. But I admit that I fell out of the comic book phase and although many people stick with it well into their adult hood, I just fell out. But I do still like them and I may get back into them when I head back to LA, there's some great comic shops out there and that's where I actually read the first issue of Kick-Ass....and I immediately thought to myself "this is a freaking great idea, I can't wait till they make this into a feature film".

Kick-Ass is about a not so popular high school kid named Dave Lizewski. He and his only two friends are obsessed with comics and spend most of their time hanging out at the comic book shop. His life really isn't all that bad, but one day he just says to himself "why has nobody ever tried to become a superhero?" So with no training and no superpowers David orders a crazy looking wet-suit, a couple batons, and dons himself with the name Kick-Ass. I really don't want to give too much of the story away here but after getting his ass kicked Kick-Ass soon joins forces if you will with Hit-Girl, Big Daddy, and Red Mist and team up against a group of ruthless criminals. Well kind'll see.

The film is hilarious, original, and loaded with hard hitting violent action that had me trembling in my seat during a few scenes they were so intense. The film is directed by Matthew Vaughn who's two other films are Layer Cake and Stardust which are both very well done and very well shot films. He has certainly out done himself with Kick-Ass on all the levels I listed above. The cast was extraordinary with Aaron Johnson as Kick-Ass, McLovin as Red Mist, Mark Strong as the head villain Frank, Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy, and the one who stole the show and kicked the most ass.... 13 year old Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl. Hit Girl rocks the freaking house, saves the day numerous times, sheds the most blood, and has the funniest lines of dialogue I've heard from a kid that age, ever. It's like watching a young version of the Bride from Kill Bill except I think that Hit Girl may be able to kick the Brides ass. Some of the stuff she does is just amazing. You root for her on screen and when she's through killing everyone we the audience just laugh and shake our heads saying "OH MY GOD....THAT WAS....AWESOME." There is a scene where she goes on an absolute rampage in a dark warehouse that is so well shot, edited, scored, and choreographed my heart was literally beating out of my chest in excitement. It was my favorite scene in the film and I won't give any more away about it.

I highly recommend that everyone goes out to see this immediately. If you aren't of age and your uncool parents refuse to take you, just buy a ticket to something else and sneak in. I cannot wait to get this on blu-ray as there are so many great scenes that I'll be watching over and over again as well as the film in it's entirety obviously. I really hope they make a sequel and that word gets out about how good this is. I give Kick-Ass a 9/10.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I had a chance to see Chloe the last Thursday at the indi theater downtown which only shows one film at a time. They were losing it on Friday so decided to give it a shot since I had heard mildly interesting/controversial things about the film.

The film is about a woman who hires a prostitute to make a pass at her husband to see if he accepts after she fears he's been cheating on her. Julianne Moore plays Catherine, a doctor, wife, and mother who feels completely left out and unwanted from her husband and sons lives. When her husband David, played by Liam Neeson, "misses" his flight home on his birthday of all days Catherine grows suspicious and after finding a picture of him and a female student together on his pone the next day she decides to investigate the matter even further. That's where prostitute Chloe comes into play, played by Amanda Seyfried of Big Love fame. After Catherine sees Chloe leaving the company of numerous different men from the building next to her office she decides to meet with her and make her the offer to go after David. A test for David if you will.

As the film goes on we realize that Chloe has plans of her own and things start to get a little creepy. Catherine herself starts to slowly break down after she realizes the mess she's gotten herself into. The performances were okay. Julianne Moore is always good but she's really starting to annoy me with her whole pouty and whiney looking face. It's like she's crying in every damn movie she's in in almost every scene, it's just too much. Liam is always pleasant to watch but he's more of a supporting role here and we really don't see all that much of him as the film mainly focuses on Catherine and Chloe.

Director Antom Egoyan has always had a thing for erotic thrillers and that's mostly what he's made in the past with such films as Exotica and Where The Truth Lies. Chloe is in the same category for sure but it just didn't push the limits far enough for me. It just seemed to be holding something back and didn't go all out as the final scene for example seemed incredibly cheap and poorly done. But it is an interesting film to watch, the characters were entertaining, and although the ending was bad there's a pretty good twist about 3/4 of the way through the film that I never really saw coming. Chloe gets a 6/10.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Cruise

I had discovered the documentary The Cruise from watching a clip on Rotten Tomatoes that was Edward Nortons 5 favorite films of all time. The Cruise happened to be his favorite film of all time so with Norton being one of my favorite actors of all time, I immediately started searching for it and low and behold it was on the glorious Netflix instant view.

The Cruise is a 1998 documentary that follows Timothy "Speed" Levitch, a tour guide for New York City's double-decker Gray Line busses. This guy knows just about everything there is to know about NYC. He talks a mile a minute, he's flamboyant, he says what he wants, and he means what he says. He knows about the true history of the city as well as the architecture. I'm not sure if he went to school for architecture or not, I'm pretty sure he didn't, but he probably knows more about it than someone that did.

We come to find out that he only makes a few hundred dollars a week but gets a real joy out of teaching people about the city and making them happy. He certainly doesn't agree with current society and strives to be different and to not live in the shoes of someone who wants to follow all the rules and be a "sucker to society" so to say. I must admit he makes some really valid points on what is expected of humans in this world and how if we don't follow these paths of being "successful" that we're immediately shit on as outcasts. Yes he babbles on and on during the film but it really all makes sense and it's entertaining as hell to watch him strut around the city in his polka dotted jacket and his crazy hair flying all around.

There is a scene in this film where Timothy stands in between the Two Towers and spins around and around to make himself dizzy and then lays on the ground looking up. He stated earlier in the film that this was his favorite thing to do as it appears as though the Two Towers are crashing down upon you. This scene is absolutely beautiful and almost brought a tear to my eye. Timothy "Speed" Levitch may seem like a crazy person at first glance but he's really a beautiful human being with an extraordinary outlook on life and all it's beauty that so many people in this world pass by every day without even noticing. The Cruise gets a 4 and 1/2 outa 5.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I've been meaning to see Fido for quite some time now. I remember always passing it at the Blockbuster in LA at Labrea and Wilshire but never ever renting it. Anyways I had some time last night to sit down and watch it on Netflix instant which is streaming it in HD by the way, so if you have that, check it out.

Fido takes place in the 1950's in a small quiet suburb town that's fenced in from the outside world where zombies run loose in the wild. The zombies that are in the suburb have special electric collars around their necks to keep them under control like pets. People use their own personal zombies to mow their lawns, deliver milk, and to wave at people as they enter the town. When the Robinson's realize they're the only family on the block without one, Mrs. Robinson quickly acquires one and her young son Timmy soon forms a special bond with the zombie and gives him the name Fido.
After Fido saves Timmy from a couple of bullies he gets attacked by an old lady who happens to accidentally break Fido's collar causing him to kill her. Timmy then has to protect Fido form getting sent away back to the "other side" of the fence.

The film has a really great look to it with bright colors and a great 50's feel. Like how all the wives kind of act like robots in the 50's. It's got a look and feel of Edward Scissorhands, Pleasantville, and Dawn of the Dead all mixed as one. It's a very original script and story idea too that offers family fun, emotion, comedy, and gore. The entire cast was great. Carrie-Anne Moss as Mrs. Robinson, Tim Blake Nelson as Mr. Theopolis the neighbor, and of course Billy Connolly as Fido. They were all flawless. Carrie-Anne Moss looks absolutely stunning in this film and delivers some of her best acting ever. Just watching her prance around as this 50's house's amazing. I'm not sure what the budget was on this film but it looked fantastic and I'll be buying this on blu-ray when I get a chance. Go and rent or buy this film asap. I give Fido a 4 outa 5.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Date Night

So I saw Date Night opening night last Friday in downtown Charlottesville at the theater I worked at for a day, so of course I had to sneak around all the employees Mission Impossible style which is always fun. Anyways we got there a little late and got stuck in the second row but it actually didn't turn out to be that bad of a seat other than the super drunk guy next to us was burping and laughing like a drunky.

Date Night is about a couple who steals the reservation of another no-show couple at a nice restaurant and soon gets themselves involved in a serious scandal as they get chased around NYC by crooked cops who are trying to kill them. Steve Carrel and Tina Fey play the Fosters, a couple who aren't exactly questioning the legitimacy of their marriage but they're definitely missing something and there's a bit of tension. In an attempt to change things up a bit they decide to head to the city for their weekly date night and eat at a nice restaurant instead of the normal. This is where things go awry and the action starts.

The film has a strange feel throughout as it's really a mixture of drama, comedy, and action and you're not really sure what feeling to expect next. Sometimes it goes from an intense chase scene to them arguing and an awkward silence fills the theater, but it works for the most part. The comedy is definitely more toned down than that of lets say The Hangover or Superbad, but that's how Tina Fey's last film Baby Mama was too. Fey doesn't go out of her way to deliver comedy or to be noticed which is good, she just kind of has it and it's more realistic in a sense. Carrel is also more toned down in this. I'm not saying there aren't scenes that are dirty and funny, there are. Especially a hilarious scene where Fey and Carrel have to strip in front of a man at strip club. There aren't too many over the top crazy action scenes either with the exception of a really cool and funny car chase scene with J.B. Smoove from Curb Your Enthusiasm. But having everything toned down like that gives the film a more realistic feeling and I think that's what director Shawn Levy was going for.

The performances were good and there are some cameo's by James Franco, Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, and Mark Ruffalo that were pretty decent. It shows them in the trailer so I'm not giving anything away here. There's really just no such thing as a surprise cameo these days and it sucks. Wahlberg doesn't do too much in his scenes other than walk around without a shirt on but he does bring some really funny stuff out of Carrel's character during those scenes. Tina Fey is on a role so far with feature films and although I liked Baby Mama a bit better than this, I'll still be looking forward to her next for sure. I give Date Night a 3 and a 1/2 outa 5.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is Terry Gilliam's latest concoction of fantasy storytelling. Gilliam kind of took a break for a few years after his last film Tideland got pretty poor reviews. I actually happened to like Tideland for what it was and I thought it was a daring move by Jeff Bridges to take on such a dark role of a heroin addict like that. But with Dr. Parnassus, Gilliam is pretty much back in top form with his signature dark and twisted family fun fantasy film much like he was with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, my favorite Gilliam film as well as my favorite fantasy film of all time. But this film is also unique in a way that it just so happens to be the great Health Ledgers final role before his tragic and untimely death.

The film centers around an old fashioned traveling theater that gets pulled around from town to town by horse. Led by the elderly Doctor Parnassus, brilliantly played by Christopher Plummer, the theater offers it's customers much more than they bargained for once they enter through the backstage area. When the traveling theater of four stumbles upon a man named Tony, played by Ledger, hanging by the neck from a bridge, things get even more weird as Tony starts to enter the imaginarium world with the customers.

The unfortunate passing of Ledger led to Gilliam having to shoot the scenes where Tony is in the imaginarium world with three other actors playing him instead of Ledger, and it actually works giving the film yet another unique Gilliam vision. The other three "imaginarium Tony's" are played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell thus creating a freaking all star cast. But I'll give you fair warning that Depp has maybe five to ten minutes of screen time at most, Law scraping in maybe five more minutes than that, and Farrell with the longest at maybe twenty minutes. Farrell actually has the best performance out of the three of them and has a really cool story line too. His section of the film which comes towards the end is definitely my favorite. I must admit that Farrell has been growing on me more and more over the years as I really hated the guy when he first entered the scene, but he really seems to have his shit together now and is choosing his roles more wisely.

The film is visually stunning as are all of Gilliam's films but the script and storyline get a tad confusing here and there and I was led off track a few times. Health Ledger and Christopher Plummer both turn in great performances and it was sad watching Heath knowing that it was the last time we'll see him in something new. It was actually a bit eery in some scenes where I saw the character of The Joker still in him mix in with his Tony character, keep an eye out for that. I didn't want to turn this into a Heath Ledger tribute, I'll save that for another day when I can dedicate my true time to the man, but I will definitely miss him as an actor. At least he left us with many great memorable films to remember him by. As for Terry Gilliam....keep'em coming man. I'm excited for this blu-ray as I'm sure it will look spectacular. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus gets a 3 and a 1/2 outa 5.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


The only film that I've seen that Noah Baumbach has directed is The Squid and the Whale and I thought is was brilliant. I remember calling my Mom right after I saw it and begged her to go see it. It was so good and so original, even though it uses some very famous music in it like Pink Floyd, it's executed very well. For some reason I skipped his next film Margo at the Wedding and waited for Greenberg. I don't know. There was something about Margo at the Wedding that just didn't appeal to me at the time. But after seeing what Baumbach did with Greenberg I'm very excited to go back and watch Margo.

Greenberg is about Roger Greenberg, played by Ben Stiller, who moves back to Los Angeles from New York City for a month to house sit for his brother who's on vacation in Vietnam with his wife and kids. While there he strikes up a weird and extremely awkward relationship with his brothers assistant/nanny Florence, played by Greta Gerwig. We quickly come to find out that Roger is an ex-musician who could have possibly made it big time if it weren't for a rash decision on his part to refuse a record deal. Now he's a carpenter who just want's to do a whole lot of nothing for a while, as he puts it. While in L.A. he comes into contact with a few few old friends, some of which were in his band and are still quite upset about his decision. But the majority of the film focuses on Greenberg and how much he simply just....hates everything.

The film is a good mixture of drama and dark comedy. There are some really funny moments though including a scene at a restaurant during Rogers birthday dinner, a last minute pool party Roger decides to throw, and an unexpected visit from his teenage niece who throws a massive party at the house. This was actually my favorite scene in the entire film and shows that Ben Stiller has acting abilities that no one has ever seen before as the party starts with him doing coke for the first time in years (hilarious scene), and ends with an intense argument with his best friend in the backyard.

Greenberg may seem to drag here and there but overall I was very much entertained by simply just watching the character of Roger Greenberg being played out by Stiller. He's kind of a more angry version of Larry David, and more of an ahole. With that, I will end this review with my favorite quote from the film by Roger Greenberg, "Some people say that youth is wasted on the young, I say that life is wasted on people". Greenberg gets a 4 outa 5.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Edge of Darkness

The trailers for The Edge of Darkness had me sold on the film for three reasons only. One, it was Mel Gibsons first major starring role since Signs and he was kicking all sorts of ass in it, second, it was directed by Martin Campbell who helmed Casino Royale which demonstrated that he's certainly no stranger to action, and third, Gibsons character says the line "You're either hangin from the cross, or bangin in the nails" as he's bustin some poor dude up against the wall. Yes, those three things had me sold on this film before I even saw it. But in the end....sadly I had been misguided.

The film centers around Detective Thomas Craven investigating the death of his activist daughter. Everyone else on the force thinks that Craven was the real target for the killer, but Craven knows it was for his daughter and what he unravels is a large cooperate cover-up. He soon finds himself being chased around the city of Boston as well as doing some chasing himself. The story is way over the top and feels very unrealistic. The ending is one of the cheesiest anti-climatic endings I've seen in a while and I was not expecting this from Campbell nor Gibson. The film is honestly kind of boring as well with all the action scenes in the trailer.

With that being said it was still good to see Gibson on the big screen again and although his Boston accent was nowhere near as good as Dicaprio's in The Departed, I mostly blame director Campbell for this failed Boston cop story. I never saw the show that this is based on, also bearing the same name and created by Campbell that aired in 1985, but I heard that that is the one to watch and saw that it got great reviews. Still like I said, it's great to have Mel back as an actor on the big screen, that's for damn sure, and I'll be looking forward to his next project The Beaver which looks damn entertaining. The Edge of Darkness gets a 2 and a 1/2 outa 5.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

I'll start by saying that Hot Tub Time Machine is a balls to the wall, all out, hard R-rated comedy that doesn't hold back for a second. It's an ode to classic 80's and time travel films with a fantastic 80's soundtrack that will make you feel like you're....well....partying in the 80's.

The film stars John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, and the man who stole the entire film, Rob Corddry. It's directed by Steve Pink, who also wrote the films Gross Point Blank and High Fidelity which also star John Cusack, so he knows how to work with the man and it certainly shows in this film as we see Cusacks charm flow off screen and mesmerize the audience in virtually every scene he's in. He's got one of the best voices in Hollywood, and he's one hell of a cool dude.

The film centers around the four friends retreating to a hotel at a ski mountain that they all stayed at one time during the 80's together and all experienced life changing events during that time. This time around they're trying to help out their best friend who, the night before, ended himself in the hospital from an alcohol and car exhaust overdose (an absolutely hilarious scene to start the film). Once arriving at the hotel they immediately start partying it up in the room and reminiscing a bit on the last time they were there, in the 80's. Pretty soon the hot tub starts working, they all get naked (yes four straight guys), jump in, party like maniacs, and soon get transported to the same day in the 80's when they last stayed at the hotel. From then on they have to try and play everything out exactly how it happened then, or else the hot tub time machine (god I love writing that) will not work correctly and they wont make it....back to the future. But they learn that it's not that easy and the temptations arise and hilarity ensues for the remainder of the film.

There are some hilarious cameos in the film including Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover (from Back to the Future), and William Zabka, who played Johnny from The Karate Kid. This is a party film by all means, so when you go see this in theaters or you wait to dvd or blu-ray for some dumb reason, be ready to party. Hot Tub Time Machine gets a 4 outa 5.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Leaves of Grass

I've been hearing great things about LEaves of Grass and it did really well at Sundance this year so when I was able to get my hands on it I was pretty excited. Mainly because Ed Norton is one of my favorite actors and someone who's work I constantly watch for inspiration. Lets just say that Ed Norton AND Ed Norton both shine brightly in Leaves of Grass.

The film is directed by Tim Blake Nelson who's better known for his acting roles in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Good Girl, Minority Report, Wonderland, and one of his latest, The Incredible Hulk, also along side Edward Norton. Leaves of Grass is about a College professor named Brady who gets tricked into returning to his home town in Oklahoma by his identical twin brother Billy who needs him to be at his house while he heads up town to take care of a ruthless Jewish drug dealer named Pug, played by Richard Dreyfuss. Soon Brady is completely wrapped up in a drug dealing scheme with all sorts of crazy characters in a town he's been trying to forget about for years.

Edward Norton gives his best performance since American History X. I'm actually convinced that this very well may be his best performance ever. He nails both brothers to perfection. I mean both performances are really flawless, no mishaps, no nothing. What's so brilliant about these two roles is that not only is Norton playing both characters in the film in the same scenes opposite of each other, but he soon has to play Brady PLAYING Billy and vise versa, as it's all part of Billy's wild plan. It's freaking brilliant and it's a film that should be shown and analyzed in every acting school if you ask me, and if you're an aspiring actor I highly recommend studying this film.

Tim Blake Nelson definitely gives this film sort of a Cohen Brothers feeling to it. It's a whacky comedy with some serious elements to it and the performances are great all around. But this is Norton's film, he owns it. I really hope that come award season at the end of the year that this wont get overlooked. Hopefully it will get a wide release date closer to the end of the year because Norton will be in the best actor nomination race for sure. Leaves of Grass gets 4 1/2 outa 5. UPDATE: Leaves of Grass was pushed back to a late August release date closer to the Oscars. I smell and Oscar nom for Norton.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Last Station

Now I'm not gonna lie and pretend I've read Tolstoy and I'm a huge fan, because I haven't read a single thing written by him other than the first 20 pages of War and Peace. But I am a fan of his quotes and what he believes in so with that being said I was looking forward to seeing The Last Station and upon exiting the theater I really want to start up one of his books, even finish War and Peace.

The film is really a character driven drama more than anything. The film starts off with Vladimir Chertkov, played by one of my favorite actors Paul Giamatti, sending a young man Valentin, played by James McAvoy, to travel to the Tolstoy compound and be his assistant. It soon follows the final days of Tolstoy and his wife Sofya grieving over the fact that he cares more about his writings then her.

We get a pretty good glimpse into the life of Leo Tolstoy and the impact that he and his writings have on people. We see the compound where his followers stay at and it was interesting to see him being followed like some kind of god. It just shows you that it takes a brave and talented person to write what he wrote and believe in what he believed in. We need more people like that in the world today.

The performances are really great by the entire cast. James McAvoy is growing on me more and more every time I see him perform. Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy was right on key and he looked so much like the pictures of Tolstoy that I've seen. I wish he would play him again and focus more on his life. Helen Mirran once again has another Oscar nom performance as Sofya Tolstoy. Her scenes are quite powerful as she plays almost a lunatic type of wife screaming and crying in one scene and being loving and laughing in the next. It was quite fun to watch. The Last Station gets a solid 3 and 1/2 outa 5.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shutter Island

Much like my review of Moon below, I'm gonna keep this one short and sweet as not to give the story away. First off let me just say that I freaking loved Shutter Island. Some people told me that they new what was going on straight off the bat. I knew something was up for sure, but I wasn't able to fully piece it all together until the very end. But even if you do already have it figured out, Shutter Island is still an extremely well made film that will haunt you long after you leave the theater.

Martin Scorsese has ventured into the creepy horror type mystery before with another underrated and overlooked film called Bringing Out The Dead and, oh yeah, CAPE FEAR. So Marty certainly knows how to effectively creep out an audience, and doing so with perfect cinematic style. Right off the bat in the opening scene we see a massive ship carrying Teddy and Chuck, played by Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo. The ship slowly comes into view breaking through the thick fog and all we here for a minute are the sounds of the ship sounding it's horn and it's just so effective and creepy. Then once they arrive minutes later the score kicks in. It's a lot like the score of The Shining and it really effected me, I loved it.

Leo did an amazing job as Teddy. He never disappoints with his acting skills and his film choices. Even though he still looks like he's 20 he proves that he can play anyone anywhere, and that's called great acting. I thought his best scenes were the scenes with him and Michelle Williams. They were so effective and emotional. One scene towards the beginning he's just standing and holding her and crying and the score kicks in and Leo delivers the tears and it was just really amazing to watch on screen.

Shutter Island is a film that requires many viewings even if you do have it figured out. There's just so many hidden clues and even different ways things can be interoperated. Some cool little tid bits I found out was that two of the main wardens were played by the two amazing actors Ted Levine and John Carroll Lynch who both played serial killers in Silence of the Lambs and Zodiac. Levine playing Buffalo Bill, and Lynch playing who we think is the zodiac killer. It was a nice touch. I can't wait to get my gitty little paws on this blu-ray, I'm gonna watch it so many damn times. Shutter Island gets a 5 outa 5.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I finally got the chance to watch Moon on blu-ray last night. I was extremely disappointed that I was unable to see this in theaters and Netflix took forever to send it. But alas I was able to take my long awaited trip to the moon, and it was spectacular.

Fist off I'm not going to give away any spoilers so this is gonna be a shorter review, as it's hard to review without giving too much away. Moon is directed by second time director and son of David Bowe, Duncan Jones. His first film was a short film that he directed in 2003 called Whistle which I believe is included in the special features of Moon, so I'll be checking that out later for sure. This guy has certainly got a long career as a director ahead of him. His work here is so brilliant and really captures the essence of a man alone on the moon with just a robot named Gerty, brilliantly voiced by Kevin Spacey, to accompany him. Really all I can say without ruining it is that with just two weeks left before his 3 year mission is over and he can go home, Sam, played by Sam Rockwell, has an accident and the paranoia begins.

Sam Rockwell gives a tour de force performance as astronaut Sam Bell. Rockwell proves here that he's able to do just about anything his character calls for. Wether he's slowly slipping into paranoia, or realizing just what's going, Rockwell delivers. He also proves that he certainly is one of the best actors out there and it's a shame he wasn't nominated for Oscars or Globes. To be able to pull off such a great performance and have no other actors in the scene to feed off of is amazing. He's always been an overlooked actor in my opinion but hopefully after his performance in Moon he'll be more appreciated. Moon was made on just a 5 million dollar budget and shot over the course of only 8 days. It's smart, mind bending, eerie, well written, beautifully shot, and extremely well acted by Mr. Sam Rockwell. Moon gets 4 and 1/2 outa 5.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Wolfman

After seeing the trailers to The Wolfman I wasn't looking forward to seeing it in theaters at all. It looked way to CGI heavy and the trailer just wasn't pulling me in as I had hoped it would. Then it got some not so good reviews from critics but some good reviews from horror "fan boys" so I kinda got excited for it. I was more than pleased with what I saw, and with what I was expecting to see.

Benicio Del Toro stars as the American man, Lawrence Talbot. He returns home to the dark gothic place of Blackmoor after hearing about his brothers recent death. He soon finds out that his death was caused by an attack of some sort of monster that is still lurking around. After it strikes again and Lawrence is bitten he himself turns into the wolfman.

Benicio is great in the film and his American accent is really good. You can actually understand him in this film and he doesn't do his trademark soft spoken mumbling. The film is a hard R horror film and I love that. It doesn't let up for a second. We see blood and guts galore and it's done well. The CGI actually ended up working for me and it didn't bother me really at all as I had initially thought it would. The sound is great as the wolfman growls while terrorizing the town and made me jump a few times which is another reason to see this in theaters. My favorite scene is when they drag Lawrence into a meeting room with tons of onlookers and he's completely strapped down in a chair for psychiatric evaluation. Lets just say that it also happens to be a full moon....and the shit hits the fan. It's a great scene.

The film does an excellent job at creating a dark and creepy surrounding for the audience with it's cinematography and dark gothic settings and score. I absolutely loved this about the film. It had the look of Sleepy Hollow which I also loved. This is a great film to watch around Halloween and I cannot wait to get this on blu-ray. I'm rating this high based on the amount of fun I had watching it and in the category of horror films it's pretty damn good. I'm giving The Wolfman 3 1/2 outa 5.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crazy Heart

The Crazy Heart is this years The Wrestler. A down on his luck aging country musician battling an addiction to alcohol, who's stuck playing at small town bars and bowling allies, attempts a comeback to try and revive his dead end career.

Jeff Bridges stars as the aging has been Bad Blake, one of the most bad-ass names I've ever heard used on screen. Right in the first scene we see the type of person Bad Black is as he parks his old busted up pick-up truck in the empty parking lot of a bowling alley, steps out with his pants unbuttoned growling and moaning, and dumps his urine out of the plastic bottle from his truck onto the pavement. He's down on his luck. Later we see that he's a raging alcoholic and heavy smoker who can't give the whiskey bottle a rest. Bad Blake's got talent though. After he meets Jean, a local reporter, and agrees to give her an interview they both end up falling for each other. But Bad still doesn't change his whiskey ways. After he loses her young son in a crowded mall while trying to get a drink at a bar she draws the line and leaves him. I won't give much more away but throughout the film he works on one particular song (The Weary Kind) and by the end of the film it fits in perfectly.

The supporting cast did it's job but not much more other than Robert Duvall who plays as Bad's good friend and mentor, Wayne. Colin Farrell was descent I thought as rising country star Tommy Sweet, who was once mentored by Bad. He actually plays a pretty big part in the film and his character is an important one as he really cares about Bad and helps him come back into the country scene. It was a role that could have easily been laughable but I thought he did a pretty good job. Scott Cooper also did a good job at directing and I'll be looking forward to his next feature. What a year it's been for first time directors, first Duncan Jones with Moon, Tom Ford with A Single Man, and now Scott Cooper with Crazy Heart. Just shows that there's lots of talent out there waiting to be discovered. Another cool little thing I noticed were Bad Blake's references to The Dude from The Big Lebowski. The very first scene where does he pull up to?? A bowling alley. There was another scene too where he runs off stage and outside to throw-up in a garbage can losing his glasses in it, he takes them right out and puts them right back on again. This also happened in Lebowski when he gets his head dunked in the toilet, and he pulls them right out and puts them right back on. Just something kinda cool that I noticed, there may be more but I'll have to wait until blu-ray. I give Crazy Heart 4 and 1/2 outa 5, Jeff Bridges was fantastic.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is one of the most original war films that I've ever seen. It's characters and subject matter are something that I've never seen before in the genre. Plus it's one of the best films of 2009 and destined to be a classic.

The Hurt Locker stars Jeremy Renner as SFC William James who's the head of the bomb squad unit EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal). He leads a team of two other men, Anthony Mackie as Sgt JT Sanborn, and Brian Geraghty as Spc Owen Eldridge. Together the three of them troll around Baghdad disarming roadside bombs. William James puts on a massive space suit to protect him from shrapnel and moves in to disarm the bombs while the other two stand guard and protect him. Now, what makes this film so god damn good is that every situation and every bomb that they get called into diffuse is so intense and original. There's even a great scene where they stop to help some fellow soldiers who are broken down in the middle of the desert and get ambushed. What ensues next is a sniper battle of wits. I particularly loved this scene because these guys aren't snipers, they're bomb squad unit, so it was cool to see how they reacted to being stuck in the situation. There's also a great moment in that scene where William cracks open a juice box and gives it to Sanborn first.

William's is such a great character, an actors dream role. He's a loose canon who fly's by the seat of his pants. But really he just doesn't think about dying, and he's damn good at his job, simple as that. He loves his job and he's addicted to diffusing these bombs. While the other two are pretty agitated by his bad boy ways they still do everything they can possibly do to protect him. It just shows that these men care about their jobs and they care about their fellow men. There's a great scene where Williams shows the men his massive collection of little pieces of different bombs he's diffused. He's got a story about each one of them and he's proud of them. It shows you just how much this guy loves what he does. I mean I collect fucking movie ticket stubs and this guys collects pieces of BOMBS that he's diffused. I feel like such a pussy now.

The score is eery as ever and really sets the mood for the film quite nicely. The sound effects and cinematography are great too. When the bombs go off it's as real as can be. The ending is so good I wanted to jump up and scream "fuck yeah!!" at the tv, wait I actually think I did, anyways, (SPOILERS) be sure to listen to what he says to his baby and then the final seconds of the film as he's walking down the street in that suit. (END SPOILERS) It's just amazing. The Hurt Locker gets 5 outa 5!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Single Man

Who would have thought that a fashion designer would be able to make one of the years ten best films. Well, fashion designer and first time director Tom Ford has done just that. Yes the fact that he's a fashion designer rubs off on his filmmaking for sure, you see it in the characters with their stylish hair and their clothing and even the way they walk around or lean up against a wall. But Tom Ford has made a film with such style and passion that not a shot passes by that doesn't effect the audience, not a moment unplanned, not a scene is wasted.

Colin Firth plays George. A man who's trying to live his days as normal as possible after the death of his beloved partner Jim, played by Matthew Goode, who I absolutely loved in The Lookout. The story revolves around George going about his daily routine all the while planning on killing himself with a pistol that he carts around with him in his bag. We see him as a College professor teaching his class, making contact with his neighbors, making a transaction at the bank, meeting a James Dean looking man named Carlos at the liquor store, having dinner with his friend and fling of the past Charley, who is played by Julianne Moore, and having a night to remember with one of his students that just feels oh so familiar to him. But through every transaction that he has with a human or even a dog at one point, we see that he truly recognizes the beauty in every moment that he's experiencing, and he appreciates it. But while this is all going on we are frequently shown flashbacks of him sharing moments with his lover Jim and that shows us why he still has the urge to want to kill himself. Because from our view he kind of looks happy, but we see just how much more happy he was with Jim and we feel for him.

Colin Firth put on a a courageous performance portraying someone who is trying to get on with living without his lover, someone who's still much in love with his deceased lover, and someone who still enjoys a lot about life but still has the plan to kill himself. It's really quite amazing when you think about it that an actor is able to channel and control all those feelings and emotions all at once in one single scene, and keep it going throughout the entire film. The rest of the cast including Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, and Nicholas Hoult all did fine jobs as well.

The real praise in my opinion goes to the director Tom Ford. He must have really felt something deep inside when he read this novel because he executed it perfectly on screen with feeling and absolute effective stylish shots and sequences. When they're mixed together with the beautiful score and played before our eyes on the big screen it makes you clench your fist with joy. This is a great cinematic accomplishment and I'll say it again, it's one of the ten best films of the year and should get a few Oscar noms as well. A Single Man gets 4 and 1/2 outa 5.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Informers - Blu-Ray

The three main reasons that I was interested in this film were that it's set in the 1980's Los Angeles party scene, Mickey Rourke was in it, and it was adapted from a Brett Easton Ellis novel. So despite the many bad reviews I decided to give it a shot on blu-ray.

The film centers on multiple stories all going on around each other at the same time. One about a young adult rich boy Graham Sloan played by Jon Foster, his disgruntled parents played by Billy Bob Thornton and Kim Basinger, a musician on the brink of insanity, a boy stuck in Hawaii with his asshole father played by Lou Taylor Pucci and Chris Isaak, and two guys who are all of a sudden involved with some very bad people after kidnapping a young boy, played by Mickey Rourke and Brad Renfro.

Though all the stories are pretty entertaining, they don't really offer too much into the characters that surround them. We really just see them in these moments and have no back story or know what they're thinking about whatsoever. It's kind of like a messy version of Less Than Zero also penned by Ellis, which I loved. The real attraction I had for this film wasn't the star studded cast, it was that I love seeing people self destruct in Los Angeles and then finding themselves again. Even if they don't find themselves I think that it's a beautiful thing to watch on screen if done well and it's something that can be very depressing and moving at the same time. Although it's done in a mediocre way here and I wish they focused on Grahams story much more, it's still an entertaining cinematic experience.

The film looks really great on blu-ray and the score definitely wasn't unforgettable. It's a film that can be thrown in at a party while having some drinks and watch in the background or it can be a film that you put in one night to analyze artistic cinematography and daring teen sex and drug use in filmmaking. Either way I recommend it. 3 and 1/2 outa 5.

The Road

I've been meaning to see The Road for quite some time now. I loved Viggo in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises as well as his older stuff like Carlito's Way. I was also greatly looking forward to seeing the next Cormac McCarthy novel adapted on screen since her previous work No Country For Old Men completely blew me away. The Road was good, but certainly didn't have as much of an effect on me as No Country did.

The Road stars Viggo Mortensen simply known as "Man". The man and his son known as "Boy" are living in a post-apocalyptic world with nothing left remaining except very few humans. Very few, and the ones who do remain are most likely savage cannibals. For this reason he has to constantly be on his guard in order to keep his son safe. We see this best displayed on screen in one particularly intense scene where him and his son approach a bridge to take a short break from walking. Soon a group of these crazed cannibals approach the area in an old souped up pick-up truck, with each of them armed with weapons and looking nasty as ever. Picture something along the lines of "human eating hillbillies from hell". What ensues is intense filmmaking and shows us just what the man is willing to do to protect his son.

It's a really quiet film as they roam the road, country side, and beach areas, scrounging for food and usable items to take with them. The cinematography is done really well in convincing the viewer that they really are living in a post-apocalyptic world, and a frightening one at that. Sometimes the most quiet moments are the scariest because when you here that first sound, it could be someone approaching and it could be your last.

Viggo was good as the father protecting his son and the way he slowly starts to unravel, health, and insanity wise was done fairly well. His movements were great too. The way he struggles with things really makes us see that he's been through a lot. In one small scene he wakes up and gets out of a truck and stretches and moans and we see that this is indeed a tired broken down man. The son could have been better casted that's for sure. I read that he got the part mainly because he looks like Charlize Theron who plays "Woman", his mother. But that's no reason to cast the little chap. Especially when the only times we see Charlize is in a darkly lit home pre-apocalypse. The score by Nick Cave was quiet and moving when it was being used. Also there are a few small almost cameo appearances by Robert Duvall and Guy Pierce who are almost unrecognizable. So I'll let you try and spot them out rather than telling you who they are.

You could definitely watch this with a group of friends and analyze it's meanings and what it's trying to get across, but I'll leave that to you all. The film just didn't really do AMAZING things for me, but it's a film I'm willing to give another shot and I will be watching it again. So that tells you something about it right there. Honestly if you haven't seen the directors previous film The Proposition, with Guy Pierce, see that first. It's brilliant. I give The Road 3 and 1/2 outa 5.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Lovely Bones

Let me start off by saying that despite the highly mixed reviews of this film, mostly bad, I still felt that there was hope for The Lovely Bones. Something about it, about the story said to me "can this really be that bad??". Well I was right. I liked The Lovely Bones quite a bit actually.

Now I've never read the book, only seen the cover multiple times in the bookstores over the past year or two. The only thing I new about this film was from what I had read in the synopsis. A young girl is murdered and watches things play out in the real world, while she's making her way to her heaven. I'm not sure if this is why I liked it more or what, but I seem to be in the minority of fans of this film. Also I think a lot of the Peter Jackson "nerds" out there kinda bashed this film as it's not your typical Peter Jackson style of filmmaking, although there is quite a bit of CGI shots of the girl in the afterlife. With that being said, I think everyone should go into this film and pretend it's an unknown director. Give it a shot.

The Lovely Bones centers around the young Susie Salmon played by very talented Saoirse Ronan. One day walking home from school she's lured into a god awful situation by a very bad, disturbed, and sick individual named George Harvey played by Stanley Tucci who delivers in my opinion his finest most daring work to date, but we'll get back to that. After her father Jack played by Mark Wahlberg starts suspecting it's the man living just up the street, George Harvey, he starts lose control of himself and takes matters into his own hands.

The parts of the film that worked most for me are basically all the scenes that weren't fantasy oriented. I could have done with much less of seeing Susie in the afterlife and would have loved more real life scenes. After her death it's a cross between a cat and mouse game with George, Jack, and Susie's sister Lindsey, who really gives George's sanity a run for his money. up until about 3/4 of the way through the film Mark Wahlberg gives just a descent performance as the father but there is a scene where he confronts George in his driveway where he and his character step it up a notch. It's a great scene. Stanley Tucci's portrayal of George Harvey is freaking flawless. He's so twisted and such a disturbed person it's like we're really watching this nut case and not Tucci. His little mouth movements, the way he makes his straight evil face and then all of a sudden makes it dark and evil, it's amazing to watch. The way he goes from a normal looking creepy guy, to a disturbed creepy guy, to a crazed killer, all in one scene, in most of his scenes throughout the entire film. What an exhausting role for Tucci to play and he's so deserving of the nominations that he's received. A villain that will be remembered in cinema for years to come. I will be buying this on blu-ray the second it comes out for Stanley Tucci's performance alone. The Lovely Bones gets 4 outa 5.