Thursday, September 26, 2013

#tbt Carrie review

A good and realistic example of what happens when bullying pushes a girl to the edge. She goes insane and uses telekinesis to murder everyone. That's realistic, right?
I never saw Brian De Palma's 1976 adaptation of the Stephen King novel. For a few reasons. I never read the book, I was never a huge De Palma fan, and it just never jumped out at me as something I needed to watch. After watching it, I could see how it's a pretty good horror flick, but I can't say I was missing a whole lot. The plot of Carrie starts out as what seems to be a high school drama about a girl with an abusive Catholic mother. It soon turns into what is basically a slasher movie, with less slashing and more telekinesis mind-power murdering. Carrie White is a very shy, but generally pretty, high school girl. She is teased and bullied for many reasons, one of them for her menstrual issues. When she comes home, her mother bullies her into being a perfect Catholic; hitting her with a Bible and making her go to her "prayer closet". Carrie's got a tough life, when a popular guy asks her to prom, she has reason enough to be suspicious. At the prom, there's a incident involving pig's blood and a young John Travolta. This "incident" leads to Carrie killing a crap load of people. The reason I watched this is because I know that the remake of Carrie is coming out this October and I felt like I should be somewhat  familiar with the original. I'm certainly glad I watched it, but I don't know if it deserves all the acclaim it got back in the 70's. Granted, it's still enjoyable and even frightening at times. The biggest problem I have with this film is it's direction. As I mentioned earlier, I don't love Brian De Palma. I really liked Scarface, but that's about it. He's made some okay movies since then like Mission Impossible, but he's never wowed me and the good parts of his movies are never the direction. His direction here isn't great. It seems very cliche for a horror movie. Lots of shots of peoples reactions with cheesy "horror movie music". This may be partially at fault to how old the film is. It certainly seems dated, but if you look past that it's really nothing bothersome. The rest of the movie I actually liked. Sissy Spacek (who played the title role) and Piper Laurie (who played Carrie's mother) both got Oscar nominations for Carrie. I don't think that was completely deserved for Piper Laurie, especially since her acting seemed so over the top, but Sissy Spacek did a great job portraying the meek and scared Carrie White. As Roger Ebert said in his review of Carrie, We all probably knew girls like her. (Except less murder-y) That's why this movie shocks you so much. The realism of the beginning makes the supernatural element seem real. The writers aren't afraid of anything here. They don't stick to some sappy ending or set up for a sequel like we see now. It's not uplifting, but it's exciting as hell. After seeing this, I almost want to read the book. I am a big Stephen King fan, so I'm sure it's good. As for the movie? It's not perfect. But it's exciting and well-acted. Believe it or not, I'm looking forward ti the remake to see what they can do to improve on the original. Anyway, you should see Carrie, but don't put it first on your list. Happy Viewing and Happy Throwback Thursday! Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

#tbt The Big Lebowski review

Even after all these years, The Dude still abides.
If you asked me my favorite movie, I couldn't give you a single answer. Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, American Beauty, Back to the Future, Donnie Darko, Blade Runner, The Departed, and a whole menagerie of movies would follow along with detailed explanations on why I love each film. High on my list of favorites is the fantastic 1998 Coen Brothers classic, The Big Lebowski. I consider it one of the most quotable and rewatchable movies of all time. It combines terrific character acting, a hilarious story, and a great soundtrack for one fantastic movie. I think I've seen The Big Lebowski more than I've seen any other movie. For some reason, I could watch it over and over again with out getting bored. It's a perfect showcase for Joel and Ethan Coen's sheer genius. It's definitely what made them able to make such greats like True Grit and A Serious Man. The story for this film is so crazy and original, I honestly don't know how the Coen's did it. It's the mid-90's, and slacker Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is living a comfortable life in southern California. Bowling, drinking White Russians, and taking it easy are some of The Dude's favorite pastimes. By a serious of coincidences, The Dude gets confused with the millionaire paraplegic of the same name, Jeffrey Lebowski or, The Big Lebowski (David Huddleston). In the process his rug gets peed on by a pair of thugs. So The Dude sets out to get his rug back. He soon learns that The Big Lebowski's trophy wife has apparently been kidnapped and he is given the job of getting her back. There are other dilemmas and connected problems, but The Dude's biggest issue is what he hasn't faced ever before. Responsibility. Yeah, I know the plot sounds kind of ridiculous and complicated. But it's really not as bad as you'd think. The great thing about this movie is that no one part is better than the other really. Every bit of it works to make this film as good as it is. The obvious strength to The Big Lebowski is Jeff Bridges performance. It's so colorful, funny, and different. If you look at some of Bridge's performances before Lebowski, they were still mostly good. Yet, none of them can even parallel to his role here. Jeff Bridges will always be a terrific actor, but I think his role in The Big Lebowski may always be his best performance. Don'e be fooled though, Bridges isn't the only good one here. It has a terrific supporting cast. John Goodman, like Bridges, is a really good actor and a Coen Brother's regular. Here he plays Walter Sobchak, one of  The Dude's bowling teammates and friend. He's also a Vietnam War veteran and really can't let go of his ex-wife. He's always doing crazy things like bringing up Vietnam for no reason and pulling a gun at a bowling alley. Goodman executes it with expert comedic timing. Steve Buscemi has a slightly smaller role as Walter and The Dude's bowling teammate and friend, Donny Kerabatsos. He's a fairly quiet and mousy character who's incredibly good at bowling. Donny actually isn't a huge part of the story but Buscemi makes him so funny and strange, that he becomes an important part of the movie. Julianne Moore is also great here as The Big Lebowski's daughter, Maude. Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Tara Reid, and Peter Stormare all have good, but smaller, roles here. I actually really like the soundtrack to the film. It combines some Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival; all of which are used perfectly. The story's crazy, the screenplay is quotable and witty as hell, the acting is beyond great, and the direction is fantastic. I have very few complaints for this. If you haven't seen The Big Lebowski, do it now! Just writing this review is making me want to rewatch it. So sit back, relax, make yourself a White Russian, and watch the movie. Happy Viewing and Happy Throwback Thursday guys! Also, sorry I'm putting this "Throwback Thursday review" on  a Sunday. I had a lot of stuff to do and couldn't get around to it. Anyway, remember you can always follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at See ya!  P.S. I know I reviewed this a long while back, but I looked and it was a scant and uninformative review that I needed to update. So, here it is!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Closed Circuit review

One thing movies have taught me is that no one can be trusted. Hooray for cynicism!
Closed Circuit is a new thriller from director John Crowley. It's about a high-profile bombing case involving MI5, lots of surveillance, and some pretty crazy secrets. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and his ex-lover, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), are teamed up to defend the alleged bomber and find out the truth about the case. Meanwhile, certain people don't want Martin and Claudia to expose certain secrets, and they'll stop them at all costs. This film left me with some questions like, "Man, is England usually this dangerous?" and "Whatever happened to Eric Bana after Star Trek?". I don't have good answers to those questions, but I do have an answer for one; "Was this a good movie?". Not as straightforward of an answer as I'd prefer. Closed Circuit is from the producers of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. A film I found frustratingly slow and confusing. I wanted to like it, but it just wasn't that good. Closed Circuit is at least a much more thrilling thriller. It wasn't boring and did a decent job holding my attention, so it's nowhere near bad. First, let's talk about the film's negatives, then we'll get into the good things. Closed Circuit is occasionally predictable and unrealistic. Yet, in a movie world dominated by brainless and stupid thrillers like Dead Man Down, Closed Circuit is really good in comparison. I liked this movie. It was exciting and a nice movie to watch just for fun on a Saturday night. Except it didn't do anything new for the international suspense thriller genre. It went into similar territory as other movies like it have gone. Except it did them one better. First of all the acting here is pretty good, though nothing Oscar worthy. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall played the main characters quite nicely with a decent amount of chemistry. I last saw Rebecca Hall in Iron Man 3, and I think she may have done better here. Although the fact that she has a large role helped. Jim Broadbent has a medium-sized role here as the Attorney General, but I did find his performance slightly similar to his role in Hot Fuzz. The rest of the supporting cast all do good jobs. Especially Riz Ahmed, who plays the supposed terrorist. I haven't seen any other of director John Crowley's films, but i have to say he isn't half bad. His directing style reminded me a lot of Steven Soderbergh's in Side Effects and Contagion. Again, he didn't do anything new; but what he did, he did well. I'd like to see Crowley do another thriller in the future, but maybe do things differently. Closed Circuit came out August 30, so technically it's a "summer movie". If you put it int hat caliber of movie, it's really pretty smart. It's well-acted and directed,but sometimes falls into predictable and familiar territory. Overall, it's an entertaining and alright flick. I give Closed Circuit 3.4 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

#tbt Twelve Monkeys review

This movie is proof that Brad Pitt is always good. Always.
The plot of Twelve Monkeys is a strange but interesting one. Many years in the future, a disease wipes out almost all of the population on Earth. The remaining survivors recede underground and try to make a life there, while also sending people back in time to gather information on the disease to possibly thwart it. Bruce Willis plays James Cole, a criminal, who's one of the "volunteers" to be sent back in time to 1996 (remember this was released in 1995 so '96 was the future) to get info on the disease that killed 5 billion people. Cole is accidentally sent to 1990 and put in a mental institution where he meets Kathryn Railly (Madeline Stowe), a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), a mental patient and son of a senator. James Cole starts to find out the truth about the terrorist group known as the 12 Monkeys while also simultaneously falling in love with Kathryn. I really like good dystopian science fiction. Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, and A Scanner Darkly are all some examples of when it's done right. Twelve Monkeys certainly isn't as good as Blade Runner, but it comes fairly close. It's well acted, creative, and suspenseful as hell. Terry Gilliam is the director of the film. I've only seen his Monty Python movies, but nothing else. I don't know if his other movies are good, but he does a great job with Twelve Monkeys. Gilliam succeeds in creating this grim and tension filled atmosphere that is very fitting for the film. His directing style here is reminiscent of Monty Python, but a lot more depressing. I haven't seen Gilliam's other dystopian sci-fi flick, Brazil, but if it's anything like Twelve Monkeys, I'm in! The acting here is pretty great too. Bruce Willis is great as the troubled antihero. Madeline Stowe and Christopher Plummer are also a terrific supporting cast. They're all great, but Brad Pitt is the gem here. His performance is believable and kind of awesome. He did get an Oscar nomination and win a Golden Globe for it! Pitt plays a mentally unstable leader of a protest group. Maybe you've seen Brad in some action flicks or movies like Fight Club and Inglourious Basterds. He was fantastic in all those movies, but his role in Twelve Monkeys is like none I've seen him in before. Even if you hate sci-fi movies (for some strange reason), see this for Pitt's awesome performance. The movie isn't all perfect though. It drags at times and the plot gets a little convuluted. Otherwise it's a pretty great movie that I would recommend. It's full of good performances, especially by Pitt, it's interesting, and it's very well shot. One of the better science fiction movies out there. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at! Happy Viewing!        

Thursday, September 5, 2013

#tbt Requiem for a Dream review

Happy Throwback Thursday everyone!
Today I'm reviewing Darren Aronofsky's 2000 anti-drug film, Requiem for a Dream.
First off let me tell you the plot. Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), and Tyrone Love (Marlon Wayans) are all friends in Brighton Beach who like having fun, snorting coke, and shooting up heroin. It's all fun and games for them until their addiction to the drugs become much stronger and life gets much harder. Meanwhile Harry's mom, Sara (played by Ellen Burstyn in an Oscar nominated role), gets addicted to amphetamines or 'uppers' and starts to go insane. Yeah I know, it sounds incredibly harsh and depressing. It is. But it's an incredibly well done and terrific movie. The acting here is truly beyond and I think all the main actors deserved awards. Jared Leto is surprisingly great here. He's always alright, like he was in American Psycho or Fight Club, but he never blows me away. He does here. Jennifer Connelly is good also. I think she's a talented actress, but I was very disappointed with her in Blood Diamond (loved the movie, hated her performance). She's absolutely fantastic here. Her performance is so convincing it's almost like she's not acting. Ellen Burstyn gives the obvious best performance in the movie. She starts out as this loving mother and ends up as this crazy drug-addled person that's a shadow of her former self. The transformation is insane! Marlon Wayans also is terrific here. Yes, The Marlon Wayans. The one who was in all the Scary Movie flicks. He, very surprisingly, gives a depressingly fantastic performance! The movies worth seeing for the acting alone. Another one of the film's strong suits is it's editing and direction. Darren Aronofsky put an insane number of cuts in the movie. And it's flawlessly executed. To quote my brother, the ludicrous number of cuts is sort of a cinematic drug experience, emulating what's happening in the movie. I wouldn't expect any less from Aronofsky, who directed the awesomely confusing Pi. The movie is the best and most convincing anti-hard drugs film I may have ever seen. Yet, it doesn't come off as preachy at all. It's depressing and harsh and scary at times, but also beautiful at the same time. It certainly is helping Darren Aronofsky climb up by list of favorite directors. I hope to see more of his stuff soon. It's directed and written very well, with terrific performances, and is probably chock full of deep symbolism I didn't even notice. It's the best film about drugs I've seen since Trainspotting! I defintiely highly recommend it. Happy Viewing. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at            

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The World's End review

Who knew the feel-good movie of the year would be about beer and robot aliens? I sure didn't.
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost are the guys behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and now, The World's End. Or as it's commonly known, The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. It is called this because in all three of the films, an English ice-cream snack called a Cornetto makes an appearance. There is something else that connects all three movies. The fact that they're all really entertaining, funny, and meaningful on a whole number of levels. All get into all that in a bit, but first: the plot. In 1990 Gary King and his friends graduated school and decided to celebrate by accomplishing The Golden Mile, which is where you have to drink at least one pint of beer at a certain 12 pubs spread throughout a mile their hometown. They didn't complete The Golden Mile. Gary King (Simon Pegg) is now all grown up and a "recovering" drug addict. He's feeling a loss of a sense of purpose in his life, so he gets his friends (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan) back together to accomplish what they couldn't finish in their youth. The Golden Mile. Only the thing is, Gary is the only one who really wants to do it. In fact his friend Andy (Nick Frost), doesn't even drink anymore. But the quest commences with only one thing standing in their way, robot-aliens filled with blue goo. I love Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. They are two original and hilarious movies that are almost as re-watchable as The Big Lebowski (the most re-watchable movie of all). One day I may review them so you can know my love for the films. But now I must tell you of my opinion of The World's End. When I first heard about this movie I was very excited, yet very scared. So many movies have dropped off at the third installment. Although the fact that these movies weren't connected plot wise may be it's saving grace. So when I finally got to see it, I was relieved. The World's End is funny, exciting, and had a nice underlying message that doesn't hit you over the head. So yeah, I liked it. Edgar Wright has this particular fast cut direction style that he used in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and a little in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It's not as evident here, but it's not completely gone, which is nice. And although The World's End has it's similarities to the other films, it's its own movie. Besides those four movies I haven't seen anything else Edgar Wright has done, but I am excited to. I'm certainly looking forward to his Ant-Man movie. That'll be something. The actors here do a great job. Their comedic timing and British wit fit perfectly with everything Wright's doing here. Rosamund Pike is in this too, if you didn't know. I last saw her in Jack Reacher and Wrath of the Titans. It's good to see her actually exercise her acting ability here. Martin Freeman is also good, although he sort of plays the same role in every movie I've seen him in. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the best here. Of course. Simon Pegg co-wrote the script with Edgar Wright too. The guy's got talent. The plot of the flick is about aliens and alcohol. But what it's really about, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to say this, is growing up and feeling out of place in the town you once called home. I probably don't have enough life experience to truly understand that, but I have enough to grasp the idea. Wright and Pegg execute it perfectly here. Is The World's End the best movie ever? No. And it's not as good as it's predecessors in the Cornetto trilogy. But, it's still damn good and possibly the best movie of the summer. I give The World's End 4.2 out of 5 stars! Happy Viewing! Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at!