Oliver Stone is a fantastic director and screenwriter. He's usually great. As I've said in past reviews, his material has dropped off a lot recently. I just watched his most recent film, Savages, and it had one of the worst endings I've seen in a long while. Yet, this is the guy who directed Platoon. He wrote Scarface! The guy's got talent, or at least he had talent. Born on the Fourth of July is a reminder of how great Stone once was. Born on the Fourth is emotional, gritty, well acted, and truly a great movie. Roger Ebert gave this film four out of four stars. Every one deserved. The plot of the movie is that Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) is a naive high school student who signs up for the Marines to fight in Vietnam. After getting shot and loosing his legs, Kovic's views about war begin to change. First off let me say that Tom Cruise is absolutely terrific here. A lot of people hate Tom Cruise for being in Scientology and jumping on Oprah's couch . I don't care about any of that. He's a very fine actor who is always able to surprise me, as he did in Magnolia and Tropic Thunder. People who hate Tom Cruise, WATCH THIS MOVIE! You won't be disappointed. This may be Cruise's best performance, if not it's certainly one of them. He did get his first Oscar nomination for it. Though recently Cruise has been mostly doing action movies and things like that, you can't forget what a capable actor he is. Certain scenes really showcase Cruise's ability. For example, one scene in particular where Ron gets home from a bar all drunk and riled up. He then proceeds to yell at his devoutly religious parents about how the Marines recruiters lied, and how Vietnam was useless, and how fed up he is. It really made me respect Tom Cruise. Raymond J. Barry and Caroline Kava are good in the supporting roles too as his parents. Willem Dafoe showed us in Stone's Platoon that he can convincingly play a Vietnam soldier. He does that again here except taking up the role of a disabled veteran. Dafoe is a great underrated actor. I don't know what's happened to Oliver Stone but he needs to step it up and go back to making fantastic pictures like this one. It's no wonder it got Oliver Stone a Best Director Oscar! I highly recommend Born on the Fourth of July. It's an all around good flick. Happy Throwback Thursday and Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Only God Forgives is the new film by Nicholas Winding Refn and as I mentioned, it's strange.
It stars Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler and boxing promoter, whose brother is killed. He and his overbearing mother (Kristen Scott Thomas) get revenge against the men that killed him.
Nicholas Winding Refn is not a great director. Drive was alright. Bronson was good (I guess). Only God Forgives is his worst film that I've seen so far. I'm not saying it's a terrible movie. It has it's strengths. Yet, it's too experimental and fragmented to feel like a whole movie. And it is certainly nowhere near as good of a performance for Gosling. Seriously. That guy can do a whole lot better than this. His roles in The Place Beyond the Pines, Lars and the Real Girl, and The Ides of March were great. The performance he's giving here is mediocre. Although that isn't all his fault. For some weird reason, Winding Refn doesn't like to give Ryan Gosling dialogue. He made his character very silent in Drive and he barely talks at all here. He's not being used to his full extent! Nicholas Winding Refn can occasionally come off as pretentious when he directs. Although I don't usually see it, Only God Forgives is incredibly pretentious. The camera work and lighting look so forced, like someone was trying to be all "art house" or "edgy". It just comes off as annoying. Although Winding Refn did some good things here. I definitely saw a lot of influence and homage to David Lynch. The dark, red shadows and the long shots of hallways were reminiscent of some of Lynch's works. It was good, then again I'd like Winding Refn to do his own thing. I guess his purpose was to try to make violence seem beautiful, but it's too forced. And honestly, how the hell is violence beautiful? I get what he's trying to say, and I don't mind violent movies at all, but a dude getting his hands chopped off isn't awe inspiring. I admired some of the deliberate strangeness to the movie, and I thought the editing was great, but it just didn't pull it off. All the things Nicholas Winding Refn is trying to do are lost in all the pretentiousness and flaws. It's not Winding Refn's best, but it's not awful. It's different, but it fails at accomplishing what it set out to do. David Lynch fans will appreciate the homages and you may enjoy the film's sheer strangeness, but overall it kind of falls flat. Certainly not worth the $11 theater ticket, although if you're interested enough I suppose it may be worth a rental. I give Only God Forgives 2.5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!
Thursday, August 22, 2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WKmnAcMTKM Just watch it, it's only like three minutes long. Cool, right? That's what I thought back when I saw the trailer in about February. It had a cool neo-noir feel, inter cut with scenes of action timed perfectly with a cover of a fantastic Pink Floyd song. Of course I wanted to see it! I really do applaud this movie's marketing department. I never did get a chance to see this "film" in theaters, but when it was available for rental, I watched it right away. What a mistake. Dead Man Down is dead on arrival. This movie is boring, way to convoluted, and the acting is really pretty bad here. Colin Farrell gets a lot of hate for being a bad actor. I actually think Colin Farrell can be a very good actor when he tries. I thought he was terrific in In Bruges and pretty good in Seven Psychopaths also. His performance (if that's what you want to call it) in Dead Man Down is bland and emotionless. He might as well be playing a wooden board. He has one expression throughout the whole movie, bleak and serious. Noomi Rapace isn't as bad as Farrell here, but she isn't great either. This isn't completely her fault though. The script makes her character seem so vain and annoying, I couldn't care for her at all. Her character, Beatrice, got her face scarred up from an accidental car accident. The guy who did it payed his price and was very sorry. He's just a suburban dad who made a bad mistake. Yet, she wants this guy dead. Beatrice thinks this guy deserves to die for slightly scarring up her face? She can fix her face too with surgery. Colin Farrell's character, Victor, saw entire family killed. She is complaining about a tiny scar to him when he has no family at all. Seriously! Dominic Cooper played the only likable character in the movie, and he barely got enough screen time. Now, you know how in the trailer there are all those cuts of action sequences? Well, those sequences were pretty much only in the last half an hour. And it wasn't even as cool as it seemed. The end seemed like a prolonged video game level instead of a movie! What I expected from this flick was an awesome thriller with tons of action and intrigue. What I got was an overlong, boring, and too complicated movie with some maybe Colin Farrell's most bland performance ever. Neo-noir is one of my favorite genres. Sin City, Memento, and Blade Runner are a few great neo noir films. Dead Man Down is a disgrace to a once fantastic genre. It's directed by Neils Arden Oplev, who did the original Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. That was apparently pretty good. This movie is not. It's trying to hard to be edgy and intriguing, but it comes up short. The only good thing is the cinematography. It's shot in a very dark and cool way. Other than that, Dead Man Down has very little going for it. Maybe my expectations are too high, but I still think it was pretty terrible. The actual plot of it is that this Beatrice girl blackmails the Victor dude into helping her get (unneeded) revenge. Meanwhile, Victor is acting out his own complicated revenge plot. Then they fall in love. There, now you don't have to see it. Now I know I usually review movies I like for my Throwback Thursday reviews. I intend to keep doing that, but Dead Man Down was such a disappointment that I had to warn people. The trailer is good, the movie sucks. That's about it. Happy Viewing, I guess. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Elysium takes place in 2154. In this future, the Earth is an overpopulated and polluted desert that only the poor live in. Above Earth, is a high-tech living facility called Elysium. Only the rich can afford to live on Elysium, where the air is clean and anyone can be cured of any disease. Max De Costa (Matt Damon), is a regular-guy factory worker, who's accidentally given a lethal dose of radiation at work. He'll die in 5 days if he doesn't get treatment. And the only treatment is on Elysium. So Max tries to get help anyway he can, all while fending off Agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley) who's being commanded by Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) of Elysium.
So, a while back when I heard about this movie I was psyched out of my mind. I loved District 9 and I couldn't wait to see what writer/director Neil Blomkamp had up his sleeve next. I also am a pretty big fan of Matt Damon (Who isn't?) so that just added to my excitement. Plus, there haven't been too many great sci-fi films recently. Elysium had all the elements to be an awesome and well-done science fiction thriller. And although it wasn't as good as I expected, in most ways it worked. Don't let the trailers fool you, Elysium isn't your average time killer entertainment. It's a bit more depressing and deep then you'd think. There's also a fair amount of social and political commentary about immigration and poverty in here. It's really a serious movie. I kind of wish that it could have been a tad more lighthearted and fun, but then again, it may not have been as good if it was less serious. I haven't seen Jodie Foster in anything recently since Panic Room. It really is good to see her back. As she's already proved in The Silence of the Lambs, Foster is very capable of great acting. Her performance in Elysium isn't great, but it's certainly nothing to scoff at. Jodie Foster pulls off the evil bureaucrat role very nicely. Matt Damon is also a fantastic actor. Everybody knows this. Like always, Damon is terrific to watch here. He adds his regular guy act with a bit of Jason Bourne, creating one great performance. Elysium sometimes gets a little too serious then it should be and the plot is occasionally shaky, but otherwise I really enjoyed it. I think the reason it's been getting some hate is because it has to live up to District 9's standards. District 9 was a fantastic film that got 4 Oscar nods, including Best Picture! There is no way Elysium could have ever lived up to District 9. Yet, that doesn't make it bad. Elysium is still very good. It blends sci-fi action, political commentary, and drama for a pretty great flick. Considering some of the movies that have been released this summer like Fast and Furious 6, and The Hangover Part III, Elysium is a huge improvement. Sure it's not a fantastic movie, but it's still pretty damn good. With an interesting story, some good performances by Damon and Foster, and some awesome special effects make for an entertaining and worthwhile science fiction movie. I give Elysium 3.9 out of 5 stars. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies! Happy Viewing!
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Cecil Gaines is a man born in the cotton fields of North Carolina., worked his way up to being a head butler in The White House, and worked there for 7 presidents. During this time he also had to keep his wife from drinking,, help his rebellious son from getting killed in the race riots, and still remain loyal to the U.S. of A. Quite a life. This is "inspired" by a true story, so I don't know how much of it is true. But, let's forget that and act as this is a fictional movie, because that will make things a lot easier. Lee Daniels, who directed this film, has done a few notable works. None of which I have seen. (Sorry guys!) So I can't say how this compares to his last movies, but I can say that this movie is pretty good. I find Forest Whitaker to be a very good actor, who is in very few good movies. He's had small parts in Platoon and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but in 2006 he got his big break in The Last King of Scotland as Idi Amin (which he won an Oscar for). Maybe he'll win an Oscar for The Butler. His performance here is great. He portrays Cecil Gaines' modest demeanor and hard working self very well. He makes the character seem real. Whitaker really slips into the character and his life like it's a second skin. You're not watching Forest Whitaker, you're watching Cecil Gaines. Now Whitaker was good, but Oprah Winfrey (yes, The Oprah Winfrey) is really spectacular here. I haven't seen her in The Color Purple so I can't compare, but she was certainly gave the best performance of the entire movie and of her life (probably)! Cuba Gooding Jr. was pretty good as Cecil's friend and fellow butler. I don't know what happen to Cuba, he used to be in a lot of stuff but he really seemed to have dropped off the radar recently. Terrence Howard, James Marsden, and David Oyelowo give some of the better smaller performances also. This movie is star-studded. It has a crap load of famous people in it. I feel like this was done less because of the actor's talent and more to gain attention. Every president here is played by some big name star like Robin Williams or Alan Rickman. Then there are a bunch of other (seemingly needless) roles occupied by celebrities. Mariah Carey and Jane Fonda give some very pointless cameos here that seem just to make you go "Oh wow look at that famous person who I recognize!". The reason this bothered me is because The Butler didn't need big stars to make it entertaining. It's a good enough movie as it is! The pointless celebrity cameos only annoyed me. Although it was pretty cool to John Cusack with a fake nose and talking like Richard Nixon. Crappy movies like Now You See Me or New Years Eve need to be loaded with big stars to seem watchable, The Butler can stand alone with only Forest Whitaker, Oprah, and it's story. And although it can seem incredibly sappy and predictable at times, mostly The Butler is a good hearted and well-acted flick. Does it deserve Best Picture? No. Does Oprah Winfrey deserve Best Actress? Yes. I give Lee Daniels' The Butler 4 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!
2 Guns is about friendship, betrayal, and dirty cops. Mostly, it's about Denzel and Marky Mark kicking some serious ass. The actual plot is that there are two undercover cops, one DEA and one navy, who rob bank thinking it's all drug cartel money, when really it's dirty CIA money. Shootouts and car chases ensue.
You know how everyone loves Mark Wahlberg when he does these great dramatic roles like in The Departed and The Fighter? Well, 2 Guns is in no way a serious role for Wahlberg or Washington. It's a fun and jokey action movie and in a way, it works. 2 Guns is directed by Baltasar Kormakur. He last did Contraband, also starring Mark Wahlberg. I really didn't like Contraband. It felt much too boring and cliche for me. I just couldn't get into it. I love Mark Wahlberg and I think Denzel Washington is great also. When I heard about this movie I was excited. When I heard Kormakur was at the directorial helm, my excitement deflated a little. But wait! Maybe it was because of my generally low expectations, but I really enjoyed this movie. It was pretty well written, well acted , and an awesome final shootout in the desert (Sam Rockwell's character in Seven Psychopaths would've loved this). As you may have heard, the chemistry between Denzel and Marky Mark is part of what makes this movie so damn enjoyable. Although the actors do fine on their own. Wahlberg more than holds his own as Stig, a Naval officer who got ripped off by his superiors. He's witty, very likable, and good with a gun. Cool as a cucumber. Washington is great too as Bobby Trench, a DEA agent who's in love with a fellow officer. He's almost just as funny with his own aura of badass. They're the two best in the movie and certainly who we came to see, but the supporting cast is alright too. Bill Paxton plays this southern CIA dude, and was actually pretty funny in the part while also remaining vicious. James Marsden is alright as a straight-laced Navy officer who isn't who he seems. Paula Patton is also in this movie, but she's not very notable. Patton's character is just a pretty face and a plot point. I don't know if she's actually a good actress but she's not given much to work with here. Other than that, the film is fairly well written. It's quite smart and interesting and didn't bore me for a minute. Sure sometimes it falls into action movie cliches, but it picks itself back up and just gets better. Now I know this isn't a "great" film or whatever, buts it's entertaining as hell. Most of it's flaws I'm able to just dismiss. If you're looking to kill a couple of hours and you don't want to see something crappy like Paranoia or Kick-Ass 2, see this. I honestly thought 2 Guns was worth the $11 movie ticket. It's nowhere near perfect but it's awesome and really enjoyable. I give 2 Guns 3.7 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!
Friday, August 16, 2013
Nah, I'm just messin' with ya.
Kick-Ass 2 is incredibly violent, stupid, and heartless; yet very enjoyable all the same.
The first Kick-Ass came out in 2010, was directed by Matthew Vaughn, and didn't have a huge potential. Sure it had Nicholas Cage, but he hadn't been in anything good since Adaptation. Yet, it did fairly well critically and commercially. I also enjoyed it quite a bit. Kick-Ass didn't need a sequel. It was perfectly fine as a stand alone cult hit. Yet, Hollywood saw an easy chance for cash and took it. Enter: Kick-Ass 2 or Another Hollywood plot to beat the living hell out of the dead horse or the plan to make a franchise out of anything (see: Paranormal Activity, Taken, Men In Black, Shrek, etc..) And while Kick-Ass 2 fails to capture the fun and self deprecation of the original (and is very unnecessary) , it's not completely sucked of any enjoyment or fun. The plot of the film is Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) wants revenge on the vigilante Kick-Ass for killing his father in the first movie. Meanwhile, Kick-Ass's (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) alter ego, Dave Lizewski, manages being a superhero and forming a team, while simultaneously staying alive. Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) manages being a teenager and being a superhero (while simultaneously dealing with her dad's death). Not as complicated as it sounds. Anyway, as I said this movie didn't need to be made. And as mediocre of a movie it may be, it entertained me and certainly killed a few hours of my otherwise boring day. Hey, it's a summer action flick. Actually, a late summer action flick. I'm not gonna be a cynical ass, who just nitpicks the movie and doesn't understand that this wasn't meant to be Oscar bait. But, I'm not gonna praise this film and say a bunch of crap about how great it is because believe me, Kick-Ass 2 isn't a great movie. The plot is very predictable and formulaic, but it also has a few strange quirks and oddities that I very much appreciated. Jeff Wadlow directed this and I think they should have choose someone else. Besides the nicely shot action sequences, he did a very mediocre job. I wish Matthew Vaughn had come back for this. The acting is sub-par at best but Grace Moretz does nicely as Hit-Girl. Jim Carrey is mildly humorous as Col. Stars and Stripes, an ex-mafioso who is a born-again Christian and fights crime. Carrey distanced himself from the film for it being too violent after all the horrible shooting tragedies of Sandy Hook and Aurora. Although it's "just a movie", I can see where he was coming from. Kick-Ass 2 is really violent. I mean not just guns. A dude gets mauled by a lawnmower! This isn't a superhero flick for the kids, that's for sure. Although, the name Kick-Ass 2 doesn't really shout "Next Great Family Movie"! Yes, this has been getting a lot of flak, some of it deserved, but I honestly enjoyed this film. To some extent. Of course, Kick-Ass 2 is nothing compared to the original. Seriously, watch the original before you even think about seeing this. Kick-Ass 2 isn't for everyone. It's violent, profane, and not entirely original. Yet, it's also kind of fun and exciting. Maybe not worth the $11 though. I give Kick-Ass 2 3 out of 5 stars. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies! Happy Viewing!
Thursday, August 15, 2013
George Clooney is an award winning actor who has also directed a few movies. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is his directorial debut, as they say. And I have to say it is pretty damn fantastic for his first film in the director's chair. Although he certainly gets help from the cast and screenwriter. The movie is about Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) and his life as TV icon and how he moonlighted as a CIA assassin while hosting The Dating Game. Whether the story is true or not, it sure is entertaining. Clooney has an extremely enjoyable directing style here. The film sometimes feels like a living comic book, which definitely fits the movie's silly and violent vibe. Mr. Clooney also does some really interesting things with the camera. He strays away from digital trickery and relies on timing and his own expertise. It's no wonder George Clooney is making such great movies like The Ides of March after this. Like I said before, Clooney had help from the script. Charlie Kaufman is one of my favorite screenwriters. He's written some of my favorite movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Absolutely fantastic!) and Being John Malkovich (Weirdly fantastic!). Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is another great for Kaufman to add to his list. Sure, it's adapted from Barris' "memoir", but Kaufman adds his own signature mark to this already good movie. My honest opinion is that Sam Rockwell is one of the better actors of our day and highly underrated. He was Oscar worthy in the amazing sci-fi flick Moon, and was hilarious in Seven Psychopaths and The Way,Way Back. Rockwell can make even a mediocre movie good, although he usually stars in good movies. He is perfect for the character of Chuck Barris. All of his wit and charm really make the character pop off the screen. Yet, he portrays his depression and flaws just as well. George Clooney himself also gives a decent performance as Barris' CIA boss. Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts are good too as the love interests. There is also some cameos from Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Barris himself! Although silly at times, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is an entertaining and enjoyable directorial debut from George Clooney. With a great performance by Rockwell and a terrific adapted script by Charlie Kaufman. I'd certainly recommend it! Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!
Also, I usually only review movies I like for my Throwback Thursday reviews but if you guys want me to start doing some bad movie reviews, just let me know!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
American Psycho is the type of movie that will get battered by all sorts of rights groups about it's subject material. It's incredibly bloody, violent, and even sexist at times. Yet, if you're able to get past all the gore you can begin to understand that the film isn't glorifying violence and it's not even really about violence. It's about one psycho's crazy impulses and fantasies. It's about a guy who wants to look cool and fit in, and he also is at the mercy of his blood lust. The "protagonist", Patrick Bateman, is a wealthy yuppie Wall Street guy in the late 1980's. He likes working out, money, women, and killing people. Bateman cares only about himself and his personal needs. He only wants to fit in. And murder people. Patrick Bateman isn't a true anti-hero, as some may say. He's not doing despicable things for a worthy or admirable cause. Heck, he's barely likable. He's not Tyler Durden or Travis Bickle. He's just a guy succumbing to his insane urges. The film is based on Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name. Now, I haven't read the book myself so I don't know if what makes the movie so good is just because of the book. But, I definitely thought that the satire of the 80's and "yuppie" culture was done very well. Director Mary Harron did a terrific job with the whole thing. Even making some parts funny to some extent. What I thought was the best part of the film was Christian Bale's amazing performance. Bale delivers his lines with such a professional vigor, it's scary in a way. He's able to create this self aware psychopath and still seem realistic in a way. I think Christian Bale deserved an Oscar for his role here. There's also some good, but smaller, performances from Willem Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto, and Chloe Sevigny. I've heard many people call American Psycho a horror movie or a slasher flick. It's neither, but it has elements of both. The film is more of a character study and satire. I mostly enjoyed American Psycho and thought it did so many things well. Although all the blood and harsh violence may turn off some, in the end it's a very good movie. Christian Bale's performance alone is enough to make up for the film's flaws. So, in the end, I'd recommend it. As always, Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!