Gran Torino (2008) — Drama (9/10)

January 14, 2009 at 4:11 am (Movies) (, , )


Gran Torino is an American film, *expletive*! Clint Eastwood plays Walt, a truly American son-of-a-gun. It’s interesting how the trailer doesn’t really provide a detailed look of the plot. Mainly there’s just a lot of Clint Eastwood pointing guns at Asians. Believe me, there is a ton of that.

There are some really powerful and effective scenes in this movie, and there’s a little Asian boy “Toad” that doesn’t act very well most of the time. Despite that flaw, it’s a really great performance by Cilnt Eastwood and all the other little Asians… the Hmong people.

This is a very unintentionally funny film, and that is a good thing. Clint Eastwood spouts off constantly about shooting Chinese in Korea (name that movie, anyone?) and can’t stand the Asian neighbors all in “his” neighborhood–he’s been there for decades. He illicits dozens of racial slurs (gooks, fish heads, dragon lady, swamp rats, etc) and calls all of them some other name than what they really have–“yum yum”, “toad”, etc.

I recommend this film for a hearty set of laughs, and the film is very easy to watch. Unlike The Wrestler, which certainly is a good film, Gran Torino establishes a certain set of characters that you really want to care about. I did care about Mickey Rourke as the wrestler, but the film was built on his performance, and I don’t feel like everything else amplified the good things that were already there. So, Gran Torino is the better film, and I recommend it to all (if you can stand a lot of swearing Asians).

Best line:

“You ever run into someone you wish you hand’t ****ed with? I’m that guy.”



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The Wrestler (2008) — Drama (8/10)

January 12, 2009 at 5:46 am (Movies) (, , )

This a solid film, but I wouldn’t say that it’s great. There’s a way that the independent wrestling circuit is portrayed that does make that whole “thing” much more interesting and humorous than it actually plays out on screen. I couldn’t get over how nice the guys were and how nonchalant they were about planning their moves for each upcoming match. Did they plan who would win?

I say that I liked The Wrestler because it’s solid, touching, sentimental and moderately realistic… but what makes the film worthwhile is the performance by Mickey Rourke. After seeing him in Sin City, I knew I would be a big fan of his. It’s funny to hear about how he was in the Hollywood eye in the 80’s, but his falling out left him with a broken life. Then, he is now making his comeback. This all parallels the experience of Randy “The Ram” in this film–they are multiple parallels that make this film hit close to home for Mickey, I’m sure.

Evan Rachel Wood only had a bit part, but I thought she was nice. She is SO pale, and I like that quality about her.

I think this movie unfairly portrays that you get second chances. Take it from me, because I have learned it the hard way, you don’t always get multiple chances. All because you pour your heart out doesn’t mean a past love returns to you, and it doesn’t mean you can easily find a new love. In this movie, Mickey Rourke has the opportunity to patch everything together, but he fudges it up and makes a mess of his life (again).

Word to the wise: don’t make mistakes. Or, atleast don’t make the kinds that you will regret forever. Life is entirely too long to regret so much, and this movie really broke me on that point. Whenever his daughter just returns to him after years of abandonment on his SECOND try to win her back… it made me cry because I could only wish that life was like that.

I heard Mickey Rourke won Best Actor at the Golden Globes. That makes me quite happy.


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The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) — Horror (8/10)

January 12, 2009 at 5:22 am (Movies) (, , )


The Poughkeepsie Tapes is an independent film in the vein of The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast (both faux documentaries). I think all three are effective in their own right, but it depends on what you’re looking for as to what you will get.

This horror/thriller/fake_documentary is about a serial killer from Poughkeepsie, NY (which is a real place). The police storm chase this very smart serial killer, but never manage to catch him. One day, they find out where his house is, so they storm the place. They find an abandoned house, a living girl who had been captured for 8 years and a closet full of 800 tapes containing over 2,400 hours of footage of what he did to his victims.

He dresses up and wears a Revelation-esque bird mask, and it is very disturbing. He does things, and he has to film it all. There are many small details in the film that make this film very, very disturbing. It isn’t always acted out well, but the prevailing idea is truly terrifying. I encourage anybody who wants some shocking moments to watch this film. Watch the following clip:



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Elephant (2003) — Drama (9/10)

January 8, 2009 at 10:55 pm (Movies) (, , )


Thank God for good films. It seems that mostly I watch what end up being “average” or “solid” films, but not as many hit me emotionally or really make me think about life. Films like: Adaptation., One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, After the Wedding, The Triplets of Belleville, Watership Down, Alien, American Beauty and Ratatouille have all had profound effects on me. To a lesser degree, I’d say this film, Elephant, has had an important impact on my life.

I am a sucker for movies about the high school experience. This movie provides an almost voyeuristic quality to what things ‘might’ have been like on the day of the shooting at Columbine high school. Really, there are so many layers, and you see just what type of person you might think yourself to be. Were you the geeky girl that ran from everybody? Were you the blonde-headed guy that managed to get outside before the shooting began? Would you be the hero? Would you run for dear life?

There are SO many interesting and high points of this film, and it asks a lot of questions. I think it really shows bullying to be distasteful, but it’s chilling at how cold and calculated these murder were (in the film). I must confess that I don’t know a lot of the backdrop of the actual events, but if they are anything like this movie, then it really is disturbing to see how meticulous and heartless these two guys really were.

I would encourage you to watch this movie by yourself. If not, watch it with just a few people, and certainly don’t talk during this movie (and try not to fall asleep, too!). This film is haunting and beautiful, and this film is definitely slow. Don’t think that anything here will keep your attention for you, so I think you’ll have to pay attention on your own this time.

There’s a scene where the camera follows this guy while the Moonlight Sonata is playing in the background. I could watch that scene for days and still find new meaning. This is a true work of art by Gus Van Sant. I want to see his now-playing film Milk, but I haven’t had the chance. It’s just too bad that Gus Van Sant makes such otherwise mediocre films (Paranoid Park, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, the Psycho remake…). Go see this film, please.


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They Live (1988) — Sci-Fi (5/10)

January 8, 2009 at 10:43 pm (Movies) (, , )


Once again, what the heck is the deal with 80’s cinema? Seriously, it’s all rubbish (or at least most American films from this time). The cinematography is at its worst, the acting is reprehensible and I want people to look normal, ugh!

This movie falls into that trap. The aliens look like they’re from Mars Attacks, and everything is slow-moving and uninteresting. This movie, They Live, has the audacity to pretend that there are major lessons to learn and that humanity is better off for having watched this fim. I completely disagree!

There is what feels like a 10-minute fist fight between two guys that just doesn’t go anywhere. There’s NO point other than just being macho in the 80’s! They beat each other to a bloody pulp until the hero-thing wins by some divine favor. Sunglasses let you see aliens? Cool idea, MAYBE, but this movie is just ridiculous. They get teleported to the alien HQ and then they wreak havor until they’ve one… and don’t forget that the woman that OBVIOUSLY betrayed you will actually be on your side until you think… oh wait. She really wasn’t on your side. DANG!

Seriously, skip over this film. They Live was directed by John Carpenter, and I happen to think his film The Thing is one of the best sci-fi films I have ever seen. Go straight to that one and skip over this average dreck.


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Yes Man (2008) — Comedy (7/10)

January 8, 2009 at 7:39 am (Movies) (, , )

Jim Carrey
really is very good at what he does. I enjoy mostly his modern, more recent body of work, but I suppose I don’t have a problem with most anything he does. I suppose he works best on The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I give him mad props for those.

Don’t expect anything spectacular or mind-boggling about this film. This just throws in a few laughs, and you will feel good about yourself after viewing this movie. It does help you make sure to stay motivated and progressive with your life, and that is a good message, no doubt. SO. I enjoyed certain things about this movie a good deal. I think Jim Carrey really shows that he has great comedic instincts, but this film just isn’t meant to house any sort of “greatness”, if you know what I mean. This is a simple, short-lived film about finding what you love, embracing it and saying “Yes!” to your life. I do think many a recluse could stand to hear this message.

On to Zooey Deschanel. There is almost no one as beautiful as her. She has this gentile and human quality you can almost never feel from just seeing someone on the big screen. She is a musician and her voice is low-key and subtle. She had beautiful eyes and beautiful brown hair. I don’t think you know what it means for her to have brown hair. That is the biggest turn-on for me you’ll probably never understand.

I wish I could hang out with her. I think she’d like me and I know I’d like her, it’s just that simple… haha! 🙂

Anyway, this movie is average. It’ll generate a few good laughs, and certain things about the “comedic timing” ofmost jokes really made me chuckle (a mild laugh, no less). Something about the scene where Jim Carrey is drunk and rambling to the big tough guy about God knows what… well, that scene just made me laugh. I can’t quite explain it, but I can call it out when I feel it.


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The Terminator (1984) — Action/Sci-Fi (6/10)

January 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm (Movies) (, , )


The Terminator is one of those films that is dated and (mostly) dull. Arnold Schwarzeneggar looks plastic and absurd, but then again, that’s why I hate 80’s cinema in general.

I am glad that I saw this movie in order to better understand the story behind the Terminator series, but this movie was pretty bad. I don’t think he has great atmosphere, acting or many redeeming artistic qualities, but the movie’s plot is good. Maybe I just made the mistake of seeing Terminator 2: Judgment Day first, which is faaaaar better of a film. See this movie for the plot and the story, but don’t worry about much of anything else.

Though I didn’t realize there was a “second” man from the future in the first film prior to this viewing. I thought Sarah Connor would kick butt and take names in this one, but I was mistaken. She’s a pansy girl, but she gets all tough and nuts for the second one, don’t you worry.


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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) — Drama (8/10)

January 7, 2009 at 7:19 am (Movies) (, , )


There is something very strange about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Something left me unnerved and rattled post-viewing.

The film is about a man-baby-thing whose mother died in childbirth. The father abandoned the child because he looked like a monster. The baby was raised by a woman who ran an old folks’ home. So, the baby looks like a dying old man, and as the “baby” grows older, his physical appearance begins to look younger and younger (leading to the obvious, inevitable conclusion).

So, the film is about quirky people, quirky situations, random lightning strikes, old age, death, fishing, romance and a very quiet performance by Brad Pitt. All in all, the film is very well done, and I give props to the design and cinematography of the film, but Brad Pitt doesn’t do anything at all. He just stares. He utters few words, and he purely reacts to things around him. He gets lucky with his life, basically.

The film is cold and unemotional. I don’t think that there’s any real reason to “enjoy” this film. There aren’t major revelations, and I can’t say I’m better for it. I wasn’t even very entertained on a shallow level. There were a few bits with lightning (7 to be exact) and those were definitely funny.

It’s just hard to like a film like that. I mean, what’s there to love? I hope it doesn’t win Best Picture at anything.


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Pineapple Express (2008) — Comedy (8/10)

January 7, 2009 at 7:00 am (Movies) (, , )


This is one of those “most ridiculous films you’ve ever seen” kind of films. Pineapple Express is about a drug deal (James Franco) and a druggie (Seth Rogen) on the run. The druggie witnesses a murder, and his life is turned upside down as he is hunted down.

Everything is ridiculous. The action, drugs, dialogue, everything. There is no reason to take any of this movie any bit seriously. The movie pretty much glorifies the usage of drugs, but it’s most prevalent theme is loyalty and friendship.

There is a lot of this “pity talking” where the characters break down all sensitive and talk to each other weepily. Sometimes it’s funny, but after a while it wears thin with its comedic timing.

The editing in this film is terrible. The director and editor have no sense of comedic timing, and if the individual scenes weren’t so funny, this film might have fallen flat on its face. The action scenes were full of discontinuity, and there was no attention to the detail. It’s too bad that they really, really slacked off in this department.

This is a vulgar, violent and absurd film. It has many, many funny moments, but it’s not the very best.


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Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) — Drama (7/10)

January 7, 2009 at 12:17 am (Movies) (, , )


Well, this is a mediocre film.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead details the events of two brothers who are in desperate need for money, one for child support and another for drugs (along with other smaller odds and ends). To get money, the older brother (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) gets the younger brother (played by Ethan Hawke) to be a part of a jewelry store robbery, and it turns out they’re going to rip off their parent’s jewelry store.

Because of the desperation, the robbery occurs, and everything goes wrong.

The movie has this time-hopping thing where you get to see what each character goes through prior to the robbery itself. This plot device doesn’t really aid the film, and all the “moral messages” are without any kind of impact. You can see it coming when Philip Seymour Hoffman breaks down in front of his father because he just “didn’t fit in” with the rest of the family.

I was more interested in the drama with the dead guy, the dead guy’s wife and the dead guy’s wife’s brother. I thought that brother guy was intimidating. Anyway, I’d say there were some very good performances in this movie. Ethan Hawke played a pansy, but Philip Seymour Hoffman was a man on a mission. The Dad, played by Alfred Finney did a great job. He’s the main guy who tells all the tall tales from Big Fish.

Anyway, this is a well-played film without a hint of heart in it. I had absolutely no emotional connection to this movie. The conclusion didn’t mean a thing to me, and the events felt thin and hollow. I think it’s safe to say this is not Sidney Lumet’s Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby as far as old-guys-who-are-legends-who-still-make-movies go.

It’s not particularly slow or difficult to watch, but there’s a very awkward sex scene between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei (who gets more and more lovely as she gets older!?) at the VERY beginning of the movie.


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