Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Have Received The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award is an award that is passed from blogger to blogger as a recognition of quality work. I was nominated by Vern from The Vern's Videovangaurd. To accept this award, there are rules that need to be followed.

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.

2. Answer the 11 questions the person who has given the award has set for you.

3. Create 11 questions for the people you are giving the award to.

4. Choose 11 people and send them a link to your post.

5. Go to their page and tell them.


11 Things About Me

This is third blog that I have written about movies about since 2008. RIP "On the Queue" and "Foolish Blatherings".

I am the middle child of three boys.

I was originally born with 12 fingers. The extras are gone, but I can still have sensation at the stubs.

I had a literary agent to a period of time in 2006 to get a book of poetry published.

I was in the Navy for an amazing month and half.

Inspired to blog from the Cinebanter podcast.

Co-manage an Oscar discussion group on Yahoogroups.

The first R-rated movie I saw was "Boyz N the Hood" in the theater when I was 11.

I have been on The Lambcast once.

I had over 200 YouTube videos blogging my life from 2006 to 2008. They have been deleted.

I have never been nominated for a LAMMY award.

Answer the 11 Questions

1. What would your dream movie theater have, besides just what is being played? My dream movie theater will have individual seats with dividers to prevent spillage, headphones to drown out crying babies and a safe to confiscate cellphones so peoples' ridonkulous ringtones won't go off.

 2. Name one movie that actually would be good to remake? I can't answer, because I don't like remakes that much.

3. What irritates you the most when blogging? The random negative comments saying, "You suck", "Are you stupid?", etc.

 4. What do like the best when blogging? Getting to interact with people of similar interests.

 5. Do you play drinking games to movies? If so, what do you drink? I don't play drinking games with movies.

 6. What is the best way to help save us when dolphins try to take over the world? Vern, I didn't know what the hell you were talking about. I had to look it up. How are they gonna take over? Make them watch The Cove. That will get them in line.

 7. What movie do you flat-out refuse to watch, no matter how good people say it is? That has never happened.

 8. Name at least 3 movies that you still watch on other formats besides DVD and Blue-Ray. The Shawshank Redemption, The Goodbye Girl, Stand by Me when it comes on basic cable.

 9. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? No.

 10. What is a good movie that you have a hard time convincing people to watch? Children of Men.

 11. What toppings do you like on pizza? All meat.

Create 11 Questions

1. What is the one movie that you have seen you wished you could erase from your memory?

2. What is a movie that everyone loves that you hate?

3. Have you ever walked out of a movie?

4. What is your biggest pet peeve?

5. What actor or actress you think is underrated?

6. What is your routine when reviewing a movie?

7. What movie you wish have seen in the theater?

8. A movie that you loved as a kid and you didn't like as an adult?

9. If you could live inside of movie, which one would it be?
10. The first movie you remembering seeing?

11. Gun to your head: would you watch Uwe Boll's entire filmography or Michael Bay's?

11 Bloggers that deserve this award

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

Anomalous Material

French Toast Sunday

Reviews by Tom

Marshall and the Movies

Cut the Crap Movie Reviews

Awesomely Shitty

Bitchin' Film Reviews

Rants of a Diva

Two Dollar Cinema

Korova Theatre Presents

Monday, July 30, 2012

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Written and directed by Sean Durkin

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, Brady Corbet, Julia Garner, Maria Dizzia, Louisa Krause and John Hawkes

I heard nothing but great things about Sean Durkin's full-length feature film debut. He won the directing award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. People were mainly talking about Elizabeth Olsen breakthrough performance. This film was recommended by a fellow film fanatic, Tassoula from the Cinebanter podcast that I listened to where put this as her number one film from last year. I have to say thanks for the recommendation, T.

An emotionally damaged young woman named Martha (Olsen) escapes from a hippie cult commune in the middle of the Catskills. She is scared, dirty, hungry and lonely. The first person that she calls is her big sister, Lucy (Paulson). Lucy brings Martha to her vacation home in Connecticut where she shares with her new husband, Ted (Dancy). Martha has been gone for two years and Lucy wants to know where she has been. Martha wants to tell Lucy about her whereabouts, but she has been brainwashed by the leader of the group, Patrick (Hawkes). Martha has a problem from differentiating from what is real and what is in her mind.

This movie hooked me from the first frame based solely on Elizabeth Olsen's performance. She was transcendent. I could see the pain in her eyes, face and mannerisms. I felt her pain and she struggles to bring back some normalcy in her life. She finds it very difficult to adjust. It's heartbreaking to watch. I cannot stress how good Elizabeth was in this movie. I was surprised that she did not get an Oscar nomination for her role. It is a crime.

I thought that the movie was going to go one way, but it didn't. I love that it was not predicable. I enjoyed the dynamic between Lucy and Martha. Lucy is trying to get into Martha's odd motivations and behavior. Martha's unpredictable behavior causes strain in Lucy and Ted's relationship.

I have to say one final thing to say about John Hawkes. I thought he was very good here, but I thought that he character reminded a lot of his character in Winter's Bone. A grimy, scruffy hillbilly who doesn't respect women that much. I hope that he doesn't get typecast in those roles in the future.

My Rating

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer

Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan

Based on the comic book series, "Batman" created by Bob Kane

Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard and Matthew Modine

First of all, I want to sent my thoughts and prayers for the victims of movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

Next thing I want to say that this review will contain some spoilers to the film. You have been warned.

Eight years have passed since the tragic events of The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent is definitely dead and is remembered by making a Gotham holiday out of it. Crime is banished from the city due to the Dent Act that incarcerated all the criminals from the streets. The Batman is gone, but not forgotten. Bruce Wayne (Bale) is a recluse like Howard Hughes except without the jars of urine lining the walls. He meets a slick jewel thief named Selina Kyle (Hathaway) that tries to get his prints for an ominous purpose for Wayne's rival, John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) to usurp his wealth.

Peaceful Gotham is rocked by an anarchist with the face mask that sounds like a bad impression of Sean Connery named Bane (Hardy), who tries to restore disorder into the city. He knows the truth about what happens that fateful night at the end of the last movie. Noticing the threat to the city, a hotshot cop named Blake (Gordon-Levitt) goes to Bruce to see if he could summon The Batman ,which he inexplicably knows Bruce's identity. Chaos ensues when Bane is trying to be like Robin Hood and The Batman is the only one that could stop him.

Coming into this movie, I was not expected to dislike the movie as much as I did. I enjoyed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight was a fantastic movie that had problems with it. The downfall of this movie is that the premise is fine, the execution is not great. I thought the story was very convoluted.

I didn't understand the purpose of putting Bane in the movie. The purpose of Scarecrow in the first movie was to instill fear for good to rise from the shadows. The purpose of Joker is to bring chaos into Gotham and that good men could turn evil like with Harvey Dent into Two-Face. I guess, Nolan was trying to make a social statement about people's greediness and if that money is taken away, you are nothing. It did nopt come across to me on screen. It was a bloated movie that has tons of monologues that didn't need to be there.

I think Christopher Nolan is great film director, but I think that he gets to wrapped in talking. I want to see action. Don't tell me that you are going to do something, do it. Show me. There is weird romance that was supposed to be between Bruce and Selina aka Catwoman that I felt was just there. I am familiar that Bruce and Selina have a cat and bat relationship where it was forbidden their attraction to each other. I did not feel that here.

There were a couple of sequences that incomprehensible like the opening scene where you meet Bane, the action towards the bridges or the herd of GCPD. I felt like I was gypped in this movie. There were "twists" coming that I knew were coming a mile away that completely implausible. The last couple of minutes of the movie were a slap in the face of how Nolan set up the universe. I couldn't wait to get out of the theater.

My Rating

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Artist

The Artist (2011)

Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius

Currently #160 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and Missi Pyle

I never heard of this film until awards season came into full swing and took over everything. The movie was nomianted for ten Academy Awards and won five including Best Picture, Director and Actor. Everybody has been showering praise to this movie that doesn't deserve it that much.

Taking place during the early days of the Golden Age of movies, silent film star George Valentin (Dujardin) is riding high on his success. He is living the life or so you think. His marriage to his shrew of a wife, Doris (Miller) is crumbling down. The owner of Kinograph Studios, Al Zimmer (Goodman) wants to switch into uncharted waters. He wants to go into talkies. George thinks that people are not ready for talkies, especially him. His life goes into a tailspin when a young ingénue Peppy Miller (Bejo) is going from extra to leading lady i.e. his direct competition.

I have this unwritten rule that you should always watch silent films in the daytime, because there is a possibly of you dozing off. I 'm saying that I hate this film. I like the movie, but I think that the hype machine elevated this film into being greater than it actually is. I have seen actual silent movies that were better than this movie. The movie felt like a typical romantic comedy, but there are no words in it.

I didn't understand how when the actor are talking there were not that many dialogue cards to figure out what the hell was going on. It might the copy that I had, but the title cards were in French and the actors were talking in English. Quite baffling. I think it's because it was a silent film in 2011 that it's the greatest thing ever.

I liked the performances of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo were nominated for their performance and Dujardin won. I understood the path the character was going, but I did not think it was worthy of an Oscar. I thought the little dog in the movie was quite delightful. I really enjoyed the score of the film which won an Oscar. It deserved it.

I think this one of those movies that is not going to remembered in ten years. It was a movie for the moment kind of film that will never be thought of again.

My Rating

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone (2010)

Directed by Debra Granik

Written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, Lauren Sweetser and Dale Dickey

This movie was very well recieved when it came out back in 2010. I wanted to see this movie, because it recieved some much acclaim.The movie was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor for John Hawkes and Actress for Jennifer Lawrence. This film made her into a star. Personally, I didn't get the point of the film.

Set in Ozarks, it seems like a world left behind. A very bleak existence with Ree Dolly (Lawrence) trying to take care of her brother and sister while her mother is suffering from a mental disorder. The family doesn't enough food to feed themselves everyday so they have to depend on donations to survive. Their ho-hum life gets worse when Sheriff Baskin (Dillahunt) comes by to warn them about their father, Jessup. Jessup is out on bond, but he put the house/farm up to get out. He is missing in action. If he does not show at his trail, they would take the house. Seeing as Ree does not want to end up out of the cold, she ventures out to her relatives to see where her father is at.

The biggest thing that I took out of the movie is that either the men act like complete dicks and the women were evil shrews. The only saving grace with the neighbor, Sonya (Shelley Waggener). I didn't really understand the motivations of the characters. Why did they do what they did? The whole central mystery was intriguing, but then it was left unresolved. I felt like, why was the point of the movie? It looked like things was be as terrible as it was in the beginning of the story. Nothing changed. Why did this story need to be told? I felt like chunks of the story were left hanging.

As much as I thought this people in this town were disgusting, John Hawkes was polarizing as Ree's uncle, Teardrop. He deserved his Oscar nomination for his role. This frail little cokehead has a commanding presence whenever he appears on screen. I thought that Jennifer Lawrence was fine here. I didn't think she deserved her nomination. It didn't feel like her character had an arc. It feels like the movie is very one note, one color, one tone to it.

My Rating

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Directed by Joe Johnston

Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Based on comic book, "Captain America" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Stars: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Neal MacDonaugh, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, JJ Feild, Bruno Ricci, Toby Jones, and Tommy Lee Jones

As I previously stated in my Avengers review, I did not see The First Avenger to prepare myself for the movie. There were some things about the film that I had questions that were answered by watching this film. I know the general lore of Captain America and his journey. I can say for certainty that this movie is better than Thor.

There was some hesitation about letting lead actor Chris Evans take over the role of Steve Rodgers, because he previously played a Marvel superhero as The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films.

The setting of the film follows almost exactly were the comics left off. Rodgers was a skinny kid that possibly weighed 110 pounds soaking wet when he is repeatedly rejected by the Army in the middle of WWII. His childhood friend, Bucky (Stan) tries to dissuade him from joining the army. A chance encounter from Dr. Abraham Erskine (Tucci) changes his life forever. Erskine recruits him to a top secret operation to create a new breed of super soldiers to fight the Nazis. Most importantly to help stop the tyrannical Red Skull (Weaving) and his HYDRA army from taking over the world.

For me, I wish that Marvel would have concentrated more on these "origin" movies as well as The Avengers. I think that Iron Man 2, Thor and this movie all suffer from having to tell the back story of the characters that are going to make up this superhero team. It seems the quality of film suffers, because it has to be filler to see how this component of the Avengers came from.

There were some aspects of this movie that I didn't like, but that would be spoilers for people who are not familiar with the lore of Captain America. Chris Evans was fine here. He was not bad or good. I thought that the character presented on screen was brave and stupid. When Steve becomes Captain America, he doesn't listen to reason that his actions has consequences. Steve is supposed to be this tragic hero, but comes across as being over-confident to a point where you want something to happen to him. The action scenes were okay. Nothing remarkable here.

I have to stay Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips was great. He was chewing the scene with his one-liners. Weaving was solid as Red Skull. Steve's sidekick, Bucky was very charismatic on screen. The love interest for Steve, Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell was strange. I wondered if she was interested in him before he got taller and buffer. What if he stayed the scrawny toothpick?

I had a couple of issues with the plot. How comes the shield is supposed to be indestructible, but the shield has wear and tear on it? Would you think that a massive faculty like HYDRA would have been trounced by  a lone man in a loud red, white and blue getup? I didn't understand how the hell the Terraset ended up in a lockbox in Norway? If Steve Rogers meets Iron Man's father who built the device that made him, did he acknowledge that in The Avengers? I could be nitpicking. Somebody help me out.

My Rating

Monday, July 16, 2012

Die Hard

Die Hard (1988)

Directed by John McTiernan

Written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza

Based on the novel, "Nothing Lasts Forever" by Roderick Thorp

Currently #105 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Reginald VelJohnson, Bonnie Bedelia, James Shigeta, William Atherton and Paul Gleason

All right people, do not hate me. This is the first time that I saw Die Hard. I know! I know. Bad film geek. I will give myself 100 lashings. I have only seen Live Free or Die Hard, which is an okay but I thought that villain of the film was lame. Anyway, back to the film. Everybody has been praising this film for being fucking awesome. Well, guess what? IT'S FUCKING AWESOME!

It's Christmas time when New York City cop John McClane (Willis) arrives to LA to be with his kids for the holiday. Coming from the airport he is whisked off in a limo to the Nakatomi Plaza building. His wife, Holly (Bedelia) is there having a Christmas party with her boss, Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi (Shigeta) and coworkers. John tries to get back in the good graces with Holly when Hans Gruber (Rickman) and his thugs burst into the building wanting to get into vault.

The thing about this movie is that McClane gets a whole bunch of shit thrown at him at once and manages to survive it all. It's not a spoiler. There have been three films after this. McClane is resourceful character that doesn't go guns blazing to the German terrorists. That's one thing that was refreshing. The bad guys were not Russian, French, Mexican; they were German. Nice touch. There is something about McClane that is an everyman that audiences can get behind and root to victory. McClane delivers his lines that have been etched in the movie lexicon and I was happy.

Alan Rickman's villain character,  Hans Gruber is not the typical terrorist. He is very methodical and never lost his cool. I thought it was hilarious the way the crew was assembled like they came from Sprockets. They were like some came from loafing on the couch all day and some were like they came from Nerds R Us.

The one aspect of this film I did not like was the FBI agents Johnson and Johnson (Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush). I thought they were deplorable human beings that got their comeuppance.

My Rating

Friday, July 13, 2012

Magic Mike

Magic Mike (2012)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Written by Reid Carolin

Stars: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias and Olivia Munn

This movie has been highly anticipated to millions of women and gay men around the country, perhaps the world. I didn't get the chance to see the movie when it first opened, because of my unpredictable work schedule. Now, that the torrential rain hitting my city has eased up I saw it. Hearing reviews of this movie was that it was something of substance, I think it should have more of it.

A scandalous video showcasing the lack of dance moves by a then 20-year-old pre-Hollywood heartthrob Channing Tatum surfaced two years ago. The hubbub of it lead into making a fictionalized version of that time of his life with Steven Soderbergh directing it.

The story is about the titular character, Mike (Tatum) or his onstage moniker Magic Mike trying his damnedest to save enough singles to help start up his unusual custom furniture business. He also moonlight as a mobile detailr -- whatever that is -- and a roofer when he meets a scruffy 19-year-old slacker, Adam (Pettyfer). Adam crashes on his sister, Brooke's (Horn) couch for time being, much to Brooke's chagrin.

What's a male version of a "meet cute"? Adam meets up with Mike to enlist a couple of partying girls to come up to Mike's place of a business. It turns out that Mike is a stripper working an all male revue called Xquisite. Think of the Chippendales parody from SNL with Chris Farley. It feels kinda like that. The manager, Dallas (McConaughey) hires Adam to be the bitch boy. He meets the peripheral strippers to fill the screen like Ken (Bomer), Tito (Rodriguez), Tarzan (Nash) and Big Dick Richie (Manganiello). Fate steps in when Tarzan OD and Adam, now called "The Kid" by Mike is thrust -- no pun intended -- on the stage to work the females into a frenzy.

After the reaction of the ladies, Dallas hires Adam to be a part of the crew. He has to keep his new occupation from his sister until she gets suspicious about his costumes. Brooke warns Mike to watch Adam closely. Mike takes Adam under his wing to teach him the ropes of being the best stripper he can be.

Which is the gayest movie, this or 300? Gun to my head, I would say 300. It has lots of mens in loincloths. This movie has bare asses, dick shadows and banana hammocks galore. Don't get me wrong. I thought it was a solid film that has some problems with the third act with a contrived plot device that was tacked on.

I never thought I would say this, but Channing Tatum gives a very good performance here. I was impressed with his dance moves when he was not humping the stage. Thank you, Step Up. Pettyfer was good as Adam. McConaughey was compelling as the scuzzy manager. The real revelation was virtual unknown Cody Horn as Brooke. She was the overbearing sister, but she wasn't a prude with his beliefs about the stripping lifestyle.

My Rating

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Moneyball (2011)

Directed by Bennett Miller

Written by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian

Story by Stan Chervin

Based on the book, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis

Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, Stephen Bishop, Casey Bond, Nick Porrazzo, Kerris Dorsey and Robin Wright

I have to get this out of the way. I saw that the Metacritic of this movie was 87. Hmm... personally, I don't like baseball even thought I help out to park people for Astros games. Ironic, huh? I was mildly interested in this movie when it was released last September. Seeing that it scores six Oscar nominations, I had to see what the fuss about. People think that this movie is a home run, but I felt like it was a bunt.

Billy Beane (Pitt) was a baseball player who was drafted into major league baseball out of high school and was not right to be a big star. He is now a general manager of the Oakland Athletics (I hate that name) that came off of a bad 2001 - 2002 season where the team didn't make it to the playoffs. Other top tier organizations are snatching up their stars players like Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Jason Isringhausen for more money that they could pay for. Reeling from the loss, Beane tries to find a different way to have a winning team for the next season. He enlists the help of Peter Brand (Hill), a Harvard grad that introduces Billy to sabremetics, which is basically make an equation about who the best people to draft into the them. He puts all of his faith into a man that doesn't know that much about baseball.

Being that I don't like baseball anymore, I tried to like the movie, but I was bored with it. Okay. Not much as much uninterested. I thought the first half of the movie was decent. There was a specific about why Beane doesn't watch the games that made me give up on the movie. I was checking to see how much time is left on the movie. I was looking up the real people of this movie. I learned that one of the characters has been changed from the book to the movie, because the real person didn't like the why that were portrayed.

I would normally not spoil a movie, but this movie is based on real events. The Oakland A's didn't make it to the World Series that year. If the only purpose of this movie was to gloat about a winning streak, this film should not have been made. Period. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were nominated for their roles. They were fine. Not Oscar worthy performances. I thought why was Philip Seymour Hoffman in this movie with a thankless role as the manager of the team. He had nothing to do. He was just there.

My Rating

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Written and directed by Woody Allen

Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy,  Léa Seydoux, Corey Stoll, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen, Carla Bruni and Kathy Bates

I am not familiar with the works of Woody Allen. The only movie I have seen in its entirety is Annie Hall, which I loved. When i heard that Allen won his fourth Oscar for his screenplay of this movie, I wanted to see it. Parts of the movie was wondrous and others left a bad taste in my mouth.

The setting is 2010 Paris where an engaged couple, Gil and Inez (Wilson, McAdams) are visiting the city while Inez's parents, John and Helen (Fuller, Kennedy) are trying to take in the sight and sounds of the city. It seems that trouble is in paradise when Inez's old school crush, Paul (Sheen) comes to try to make them feel like Parisians with his grandiose observations of French culture. One drunken night, Gil walks around the Parisian to find himself transported to the 1920s where he is swept away by the likes of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway. Gil tries to make sense of things when this successful screenwriter struggles to write his first book.

Can I say that this movie is a hodgepodge? There were certain elements to this movie that I loved when Gil was in the 20s where he meets a beautiful Parisian woman named Adriana (Cotillard). I was completely swept up in those moments of the film. The modern day moments of the film were very repellent with the ice queen, Inez pissing Gil's parade, the parents that are upper crust that they spit on regular people and the Michael Sheen character trying to make the dumb American look stupid.

I loved sense of discovery and wonderment when Gil meets these greats of art, literature and music. Sometimes, I had to question why does Allen want to jam pack all these people into one particular place at the same time. You had a rogue's gallery of people like Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Matisse, T.S. Eliot, Gaugin, Degas and list goes on. It felt like a drive by people to come in to shock Gil and leave never to be seen again. I wanted to point out that I thought the lowlight on the film was Adrien Brody as Salvador Dalí. He kept droning on about rhinoceros. Who gives a fuck about rhinoceros!

The ending of movie felt rushed and things were not resolved. I was left hanging. If the movie was more of the wonderment of Gil into this fantastical world that inspires him to write his novel, I would be on board. I wish the modern part where jettisoned all together. It was filler.

My Rating

Monday, July 9, 2012

Take Shelter

Take Shelter (2011)

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols

Stars: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Ray McKinnon, Robert Longstreet, LisaGay Hamilton, Katy Mixon and Kathy Baker

This is a movie that I heard nothing but good thing about when it was released last year. People were talking about the performances of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. When I was scrolling through the On Demand movies, it was there. I figured that I had to see it to see what the fuss was about and I'm glad I did.

Taking place in Ohio suburbs, a construction worker, Curtis (Shannon) is happy with his life with his wife, Samantha (Chastain) and his hearing impaired daughter, Hannah (Stewart). Things change when Curtis beings to have terrible dreams about a great storm coming that will wipe off the town. As time goes on, Curtis sees physical manifestations of his dreams with storm clouds, lightning, thunder and flocks of birds forming strange patterns in the sky. He discovers a storm shelter in his backyard and decides to prepare for the possible end of days.

The first thing that stuck me about this movie was the naturalism that writer.director, Jeff Nichols has placed in his screenplay. I may have had a failing grade in freshman English, but I know when naturalism is the main thrust of the story. Instinctively, I could see that Curtis' mind was breaking down. He questions that he could have schizophrenia from his mother played by Kathy Baker, but it's unclear. What I took away from the movie is that there is a fighting going on in Curtis's mind and it looked like it was all consuming.

Michael Shannon was very good in these movie. I was surprised that he didn't get more love during awards season that the Spirit Awards. He went to places that I have never seen before. When he was in agony, I felt it with him. It was a haunting performance. In my opinion, Jessica Chastain was better in this film that she was in The Help where she got her Oscar nomination.

My Rating

Friday, July 6, 2012

LAMBs in The Director's Chair Series Spotlight (Lars von Trier): Melancholia

Melancholia (2011)

Written and directed by Lars von Trier

Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Cameron Spurr, Brady Corbet, Alexander Skarsgård,  Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier and Kiefer Sutherland

Seeing as controversial Danish directors is this month's LAMBs Director Chair, I wanted to see a couple of the movies that he has done. I have only seen Antichrist. I heard that his movies have a female protagonist that go through a lot of shit and awful things happened to them. This movie follows the same premise to meager results.

The movie slightly diverts for the von Trier formula by having two female protagonists in crisis. It is broken up in two equal parts. The first part deals with Justine (Dunst), a woman who recently married Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) and is going into her wedding reception. During the course of the evening, she slowly unravels and her behavior becomes erratic. The second part of the story deals with Justine's sister, Claire (Gainsbourg) and her husband, John (Sutherland). She becomes anxious that a planet that was hidden behind the sun, Melancholia would crash into the Earth.

This movie seems like it has every auteur formula down with the slow motion actions, weird imagery, the swelling orchestral music. It was same as his last film. This went on for eight minutes. I mean, come on. Get on with it already. I didn't get the point of the movie. I understand that von Trier's shtick is to torture his female characters. I got the message with Antichrist, but not this movie. I enjoyed the second part of the movie because it dealt with the psychosis of Claire and impending doom. I was left with a lot of questions than answers. I don't want it spelled out to me, but make a clear point about what you have to say.

My Rating

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Drive (2011)

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Written by Hossein Amini

Based on the book by James Sallis

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, James Biberi, Kaden Leos, Oscar Isaac and Christina Hendricks

To rinse the taste of Spider-Man out of my mouth, I wanted to see an actual good movie. Here is a prime example of a good movie that had some bad marketing and came out between the summer blockbuster season and the award show season. It was lost in the mix. It's a shame. I heard great things about this movie. It was on a lot of top ten lists. I have to say that it is a good movie that didn't get a chance.

This is not just a revenge movie. This is a movie about Driver (Gosling), a part time movie stunt driver who also moonlights as a getaway driver for the highest bidder. He only gives five minutes of his time. A second over that the client is on their own. Awesome. Things get complicated when Driver integrated with the lives of his next door neighbor, Irene (Mulligan) and her son, Benicio (Leos). A wrench gets thrown in when Irene's husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) comes back early from jail. Standard has dealings with bad people that Driver has to get in the mix.

Gosling's Driver character reminded me of classic Eastwood character, The Man with No Name with Driver chews on a toothpick having that fucking kick ass satin scorpion jacket. Driver barely utters a page worth of dialogue in the movie and he could convey lots with his eyes, his mannerisms. I think the biggest stars of the movie is the sound and the score by Cliff Martinez. The ticking of the wrist watch getting louder, the haunting music sucks you in. This movie demonstrated the right amount of tension, suspense with beautiful visuals that hearkens back movies of the late 70s, early 80s.The movie can go from being romantic and sweet with the scenes with Irene and Benicio to horribly violent with a hitman's face caving in or an interesting use of a curtain rod. I'm glad a movie like this exists.

Albert Brooks was getting a lot of Oscar buzz for his role as mobster Bernie Rose in this film. I thought he was very good in the film. The way that he delivered the lines oozed seediness and hate. Brooks won an Omie Award for not being included in the nominees. The rest of the cast was solid with Ron Perlman as Bernie's partner, Nino and Bryan Cranston as the Driver's boss.

My Rating

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Directed by Marc Webb

Story by  James Vanderbilt

Screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves

Based on the comic books series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Chris Zylka, Irrfan Khan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Martin Sheen and Sally Field

Let me warn you folks, I will using some coarse language in my review of this movie. If you don't like strong language, please turn away right now. Only warning.

When I heard that the Spider-Man franchise was being rebooted, I had mixed emotion with it. I enjoyed the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire franchise, expect for Spider-Man 3 -- which I did not see -- so I will not comment on that. I went into this movie with an opening mind and what I saw on-screen was nothing. Was Spider-Man "amazing? " I can certainly say with a resounding no.

Everybody knows about the origin story of Peter Parker that has Andrew Garfield slipping into the red and blue unitard suit which has to be done again for this movie. This movie takes place is a different universe than the other movies. This Peter Parker is a mopey, emo, skater kid that has a knack for photography and chemistry. He has a crush on Gwen Stacy (Stone) who he has a wallpaper of her on his computer. He tries to find what happened to his parents (Scott, Davidtz) and why they have to leave him with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Sheen, Field) years prior. He finds his dad's briefcase in the basement with a secret file to a decay algorithm he was working on with a former college, Dr. Curt Conners (Ifans). He tries to get closer to answer when he was bitten by an enhanced spider and blah, blah, blah.

I was warned before I went into this movie that the first half of the movie was going to be repetitive to give the origin story again. I have no idea whose idea it was to make Peter Parker into this cocky emo punk kid, but I fucking hated it. I understand that he goes into a dark place when he Uncle Ben is killed. (That is not a spoiler. Ben dying in the crux of Spider-Man existing.) When Spider-Man dons the costume, he becomes a giant douchebag, playing with the hundreds of guys that look like the guy that killed Uncle Ben.

I didn't understand the point of this movie. I was supposed to be entertained, but making the armrest next to me go up and down was more interesting than this movie. There was no immediate danger to anybody. I did not feel the tension, no suspense. Are these characters going to survive? I didn't care. I thought the dialogue made my eyes roll. I kept exclaiming, "Oh, God.Are you fucking kidding me?" I was in disbelief about how bored I was at the movie. Why was Chris Zylka in this movie? His role was the typical meat head jock bully that serves no purpose.

When you see the inspiration for the costume, I wanted to walk out. There were several times that I wanted to walk out of the movie. It was a waste of time. The sad part is that this movie is going to make a shitload of money. It's a damn shame. Columbia Pictures, you have dropped the fucking ball again.You have great source material and you fucking it all up with a repellent lead, laughable action sequences, a bland romance and atrocious dialogue. I rather look at Josh Hutcherson's audition video for two hours than see this movie again.

My Rating

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Help

The Help (2011)

Written and directed by Tate Taylor

Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett

Stars: Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Alison Janney, Mike Vogel, Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson

I have heard great things about the Tate Taylor's debut film, The Help, since it was released last summer. It was a sleeper hit as some people called it. I know that people were surprised that the black driven movie could make money.

I have this unwritten rule that I usually shy away from the black movies, because these movies reflect on me. I cannot support a movie where people, especially black are the butt of jokes at people's expense. This movie I wanted to see, but I didn't get the chance to see until the movie premiered on Showtime a couple of days ago. Is it as good as people say it is? Yes and then some.

This time is 1963. A spunky journalist who recently graduated from Ole Miss, Skeeter (Roberts) has a hard time adjusting to the crusty society of Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter's quietly observed the way that her childhood friends treat the maids working for them. Skeeter wants to be a serious writer instead of doing a cleaning advice column. She tries to enlist the help of Aibileen Clark (Davis) and her sassy friend, Minny (Spenser) to write a book about the lives of the help. Tentative at first, they decided to try to make a difference and instill some change for generations to come.

This movie is beautiful beyond words. I could not believe that this white women would treated people like they were a dog. I know that I did not live during that time. My mom, late dad, aunties and uncles lived through that time where everything was separate but equal. Colored people did not have many opportunities in those days. People criticized the movie for the language that they speak. It's not correct English. People need to understand that the black people were not allowed to be educated. Some had to drop out of school to support the family. If this is the kind of movie that gets made, there is something wrong with Hollywood not giving black writers and filmmakers many chances. I was not offended with the movie. It made me proud that a movie like this exists.

I have to talk about the performances. I know that the movie movie was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress and two Supporting Actress nods. I love the cast, but I thought to myself, "Why was Jessica Chastain nominated for this movie?" I felt like it was a bit part like the other ladies. She didn't have that much to do. Octavia Spencer who won the Oscar for role of Minny is likable, but I didn't think it warranted an Oscar. The other performances must have been really weak. I am not knocking on Spencer's talent. I think it was wasn't Oscar worthy in my opinion. I thought Viola Davis really deserved her nomination. She made me laugh and cry at the same thing. I wanted hear to be okay and pulled through.

It is a great example of how a newcomer can make a movie that no one else would make. Thank you, Tate Taylor.

My Rating