Movie Review #707
BBC Films & Thema Production SA present…
…in association with Kudo Films Limited…
…a Jada Production…
Distributor: DreamWorks Distribution
Country: UK – Luxembourg
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Woody Allen. Produced by Letty Aronson, Lucy Darwin, and Gareth Wiley. Written by Woody Allen.
Rated R by the MPAA – infrequent sexual material. Runs 2 hours 4 minutes (Turkish TV version runs 9 minutes shorter; Finnish theatrical version runs 2 minutes longer). Premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2005; at San Sebastián Film Festival on September 24, 2005; at Vienna International Film Festival on October 14, 2005; at Savannah Film and Video Festival on November 2, 2005; at DaKino International Film Festival on November 22, 2005; and at Film by the Sea Film Festival on December 13, 2005. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on December 28, 2005; and in San Francisco, California on January 4, 2006. Wide release in the UK on January 6, 2006; and in the USA on January 20, 2006.
Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Emily Mortimer, and Scarlett Johansson. Also starring Mary Hegarty, Miranda Raison, Margaret Tyzack, Ewen Bremner, and James Nesbitt. Featuring uncredited cameo appearances by Alex Argenti, Morne Botes, Michelle Lima, Dawn Murphy, and Leonard Silver.
I’ve seen quite a lot of Woody Allen. Almost every year for the past forty-eight years, he’s made a movie. To keep it simple, I’ll just say I’ve seen his 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th films; his 9th through 16th films; his 18th, 20th, 36th, 37th, 39th, and every film from his 41st through his 44th (his most recent). I’ve always considered Mr. Allen to be a comedian. Sure, I’ve seen him lean away from the wry humor, but the results seemed to be lacking the pleasant they would have had with humor. That was “Another Woman”, his 18th. Double that number. Now we’re at his 36th: “Match Point”, which is where I have to think again. Of course, I still consider him a comedian, especially when what makes a drama even this serious a winner is the wry humor peppered throughout dialogue. But just that would make “Match Point” a plainly unusual Woody Allen movie. It’s unusual, and, let’s not forget, surprising.
“Match Point” is a grave, dark drama. The plot could be seen is soapy, if it were only dealt with that way. The tone is easily more noirish, making for a more cinematic, flavorful and artful approach to the tale than any other addition to the director’s soapology. In ways that “Hannah and Her Sisters” was similar to “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, and “Midnight in Paris” to “To Rome with Love”, “Match Point” feels like a companion piece to Woody’s next project, “Scoop”. Especially being that “Scoop” was one of the worst I’ve seen from the director, and “Match Point” one of the best, this one beats its followup sixty, love.
“Match Point” is a dark movie. An extremely gripping, but nonetheless dark one. Woody Allen has claimed this his favorite of any film he’s made, and it’s understandable. Of any semi-autobiographical account, this one’s the most honest. Allen’s reliance on character development connects us with the characters, if not always in the best of ways. The protagonist is a brutal hate target from the very beginning; we just don’t know it until he grows to a macroscopic size, until he has an ongoing affair, until that affair becomes impossible to balance with his marriage.
Scarlett Johansson plays the femme fatale in this urban moral conquest. I don’t want to go with this being her role of a lifetime until I see more of her, but she’s cast perfectly. Her conversations with Jonathan Rhys Meyers echoes those of Mariel Hemingway and Woody Allen in “Manhattan”. Again, that movie just wasn’t such a dramatic height. “Match Point” is quite a tense drama. This is suspenseful and mysterious. Not quite the expectations of the director, especially while he’s still keeping his love for the arts omnipresent. What more can I say? It’s thoroughly and dynamically unpredictable.
MATCH POINT IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.
Movie Review #706
Distributor: Unitel – Reel Media International
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Brooke L. Peters. Produced by Brooke L. Peters. Original story: Jane Mann. Screenplay: Jane Mann & Don Devlin.
No MPAA rating information. Runs 1 hour, 15 minutes. Limited release in Los Angeles, California on June 14, 1961.
Starring Ronnie Burns, Pamela Lincoln, Darrell Howe, Judy Howard, Michael Grainger, Frank Killmond, Russell Bender, Don Devlin, and William Salzwedel. Also starring Robert Stabler and John B. Lee. Featuring an uncredited cameo appearance by Pat McMahon as Arthur.
This one really is…bad. The dialogue, for starters, is terrible. Just awful. If anybody talks this way to each other, in real life, there’s probably some sort of Martian Mafia starin’ down from way up high, laughin’ their asses off. (That’s me thinking along the Ed Wood wavelength.) Cinematography? What a load of bollocks. Back to the written aspect of it, though. It’s so poorly acted. Wait that’s not a written aspect. Oops. Anyway…
“Anatomy of a Psycho” delivers a halfway interesting plot that manages to go itself in all different crazy directions. Really bizarre directions, and I’ll have you know that there’s quite a confusing shift toward romance less than halfway through. Let me reiterate: this is called “Anatomy of a Psycho”, not Anatomy of Marlon Brando. Not so sure why there’s a love story in a movie that constantly wants to express that at the most random times, this guy can go nuts.
And really, “Anatomy of a Psycho” (with emphasis on “anatomy”)? You just don’t knock of the title of a Jimmy Stewart classic like that. Especially when there’s nothing to do with “anatomy” in this movie. Except for whenever the main guy gets bloodied up. We get to see a minor piece of anatomy from a long shot of his body, through which his open veins are muddily visible, but that’s about it.
Maybe the one good thing in this classified Z-movie is that the protagonist could twin Anthony Perkins. It’s almost a corny joke. (‘Cause this is “Anatomy of a Psycho”, and Perkins was in “Psycho” a year earlier–get it?) This movie is pretty much one of those “so bad, it’s good” movies, except it’s just too bad. It has been reported that on top of the usage of the music from “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, Ed Wood contributed to the screenplay using the pseudonym “Larry Lee.” As far as I’m concerned, he did the whole shebang, and to say that Wood was writing whatever words just happened to pop into his mind, as random as they might be, is a deplorable understatement for the development of this script. I enjoyed the movie for the obviously self-unaware execution, but if this deceptively long strand of 75 minutes doesn’t offer the most infernal pacing I’ve ever sat through, I’m not sure what is.
ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO IS AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.
Movie Review #705
In collaboration with Danmarks Radio (DR), Film i Väst, Sveriges Television (SVT) & Zentropa International Sweden…
…with the support of Det Danske Filminstitut, Eurimages, Media Programme of the European Community, Nordisk Film- & TV-Fond & Svenska Filminstitutet (SFI)…
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures (subtitled)
Country: Denmark – Sweden
Spoken Languages: Danish – English – Polish
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Produced by Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Morten Kaufmann, and Thomas Vinterberg. Writers: Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg.
Rated R by the MPAA – sexual material, violence, profanity. Runs 1 hour, 55 minutes. Premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2012; at Karlovy Vary Film Festival on July 1, 2012; at Paris Cinéma on July 5, 2012; at New Zealand International Film Festival on July 26, 2012; at Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2012; at Zurich Film Festival on September 21, 2012; at Filmekimi on September 28, 2012; at PAC Film Festival on October 7, 2012; at London Film Festival on October 11, 2012; São Paulo International Film Festival on October 23, 2012; at Leiden International Film Festival on October 24, 2012; at Leeds International Film Festival on November 8, 2012; at Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival on November 9, 2012; at European Film Week on November 30, 2012; at Palm Springs international Film Festival on January 10, 2013; at Göteborg International Film Festival on January 26, 2013; at Portland International Film Festival on February 8, 2013; at Belgrade Film Festival on March 3, 2013; at Skopje Film Festival on April 20, 2013; at Newport Beach International Film Festival on April 25, 2013; at Seattle International Film Festival on June 4, 2013; and at Provincetown International Film Festival on June 20, 2013. Limited release in the USA on July 12, 2013. Wide release in Denmark on January 10, 2013; and in Sweden on April 12, 2013.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen. Also starring Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm, Susse Wold, Anne Louise Hassing, Lars Ranthe, Alexandra Rapaport, Sebastian Bull Sarning, Steen Ordell Guldbrand Jensen, Daniel Engstrup, Troels Thorsen, Søren Rønholt, Hana Shuan, Jytte Kvinesdal, Bjarne Henriksen, Rasmus Lind Rubin, Frank Rubæk, Jacob Højlev, Jørgensen, Karina Fogh Holmjær, Katrine Brygmann, Hunden Rosa, Thomas Frederiksen, and Lene Rømer. Featuring uncredited cameo appearances by Ole Dupont as Godsejer and Advokat, and by Thomas Vinterberg as himself.
Golden Globes night, 2013. I flipped out when “The Great Beauty” beat “The Hunt” for the Best Foreign Language Film prize. Flipped…out. I hadn’t seen either movie at the time, but I’d heard such rave over “The Hunt”, and “The Great Beauty” was a complete unknown to me. It just didn’t feel right at all.
Now I have to say, my reaction that night was a bit over-the-top. “The Hunt” (known to its native Denmark as Jagten) probably isn’t every bit of perfection you’ve heard. But it does have quite a good chance for the Foreign Language Film Oscar.
“The Hunt” centers on a fortysomething, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), who has had a less-than-perfect past and is trying to rebuild his life. He teaches kindergarten, and he’s not seen as the most trustworthy fellow. Even less so when he is accused of molesting one of his students. The allegation comes directly from that student, and everyone in the community is willing to believe this girl’s troubled imagination over the grown man’s innocence and honesty.
It’s hard to say that we take sides with this story. Mads Mikkelsen has established himself quite well as an overall villain character (“Casino Royale”, TV’s Hannibal). His protagonist in “The Hunt” doesn’t beg for compassion or to be liked, and this way, it more optimally tells the story. The point of the movie isn’t to tell the story from one side. It’s to tell the whole story, and with much certainty, it does.
“The Hunt” takes a story we’d rather not watch and makes it every bit worth watching. The story itself takes a while to unfold, but it’s engrossing as aything once it’s made itself into something. I’ve been under the impression that Scandinavia enjoys lower budget TV movies in their cinemas. While that may be so for films like “Headhunters” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Hunt” is utterly cinematic. The last 20 minutes reach the emotional apex. The last act? Beautiful–and yet anything but beautiful. As for the finale…well, that was plainly unforgettable.
Anatomy of a Psycho
THE HUNT IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD, AND IS FREE TO STREAM ON NETFLIX.
Movie Review #704
This review is dedicated to my sister and my non-familial sister, with whom I watched Winter’s Bone.
Winter’s Bone Productions
Distrbutor: Roadside Attractions
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Debra Granik. Produced by Anne Rosellini. Screenplay: Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini. Novel: Daniel Woodrell.
Rated R by the MPAA – infrequent drug material, infrequent profanity, infrequent violence. Runs 1 hour, 40 minutes. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2010; at Berlin International Film Festival on February 16, 2010; at South by Southwest Film Festival on March 3, 2010; at AFI Dallas International Film Festival on April 13, 2010; at Kansas City Film Festival on April 14, 2010; at Sarasota Film Festival on April 15, 2010; at Boston Independent Film Festival and Palm Beach International Film Festival on April 23, 2010; at San Francisco International Film Festival on April 30, 2010; at Rochester Film Festival on May 8, 2010; at Seattle International Film Festival on May 28, 2010; at Edinburg International Film Festival and Nantucket Film Festival in June 2010; and at Little Rock Film Festival on June 2, 2010. Limited release in the USA on June 11, 2010.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Isaiah Stone, Ashlee Thompson, Valerie Richards, Shelley Waggener, Garret Dillahunt, William White, Ramona Blair, and Lauren Sweetser. Also starring Andrew Burnley, Phillip Burnley, Isaac Skidmore, Cody Brown, Cinnamon Schultz, John Hawkes, Casey MacLaren, Kevin Breznahan, Dale Dickey, Sheryl Lee, Tate Taylor, Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, Beth Domann, Charlotte Jeane Lucas, Ray Vaughan Jr., and Sgt. Russel A. Schalk. Featuring an uncredited cameo appearance by Brandon Gray as Spider Milton.
“Winter’s Bone” is the haunting and resonating story of a seventeen-year-old’s involvement quest to find her father, whose involvement in methamphetamine production could lose them their house. He had left at a most inopportune time, leaving this oldest daughter of his, named Ree, to tend for her depressed mother and her two much-younger siblings. She’s putting herself in danger in order to find her father, but if his co-workers in the drug business are the only ones who could possibly point him out for her, then so be it.
“Winter’s Bone” is set along hiking terrain, but it’s best to just go with saying that it’s a “country noir.” Such is name for a genre author Daniel Woodrell coined in the mid-1990s and has been writing ever since. This is an interesting adaptation of Woodrell’s novel of the same name. It moves slowly but engages thoroughly.
The lead role of Ree is played by Jennifer Lawrence. No doubt she’d love to know that even in this earlier work of hers, it’s easy to foresee this generation’s Meryl Streep in her performance. Her transformation is very, very effective.
This was Lawrence’s first breakthrough in a starring role, following her recognition for a minor role in “The Burning Plain”. The movie seems to function on relative unknowns. John Hawkes proceeded to star in “The Sessions” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, but there’s no calling him a household name. Garret Dillahunt has the main role on Raising Hope. Dale Dickey will take a minor role on TV, now and then. Then you get to the out of the main cast, where named like Lauren Sweetser or Shelley Waggener don’t ring the slightest bell. The selective casting (on a $2 million budget) is commendable. These people can act. They show the struggles with such emotion, and maybe it’s better that we don’t know who they are. It’s difficult to imagine the same movie working with a cast of Brad Pitts and Sandra Bullocks.
“Winter’s Bone” is a deep, dark journey. I don’t mean to make is sound cliché, but it really is a solemn disclosure of hope and despair. I’d slap the word “adventure” onto this one if I could. The landscape is beautifully filmed, and god, what distances Ree travels. It’s just too somber to label as “adventure.”
WINTER’S BONE IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.
Movie Review #703
This review is dedicated to my first cousin, Bryan, who is a wrestler.
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Country: USA – France
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Produced by Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin. Written by Robert Siegel.
Rated R by the MPAA – violence, sexual content, nudity, profanity, infrequent drug material. Runs 1 hour, 49 minutes. Premiered in New York City, New York on December 8, 2008; and in Los Angeles, California on December 16, 2008. Limited release in the USA on December 17, 2008. Wide release in the USA on January 30, 2009; and in France on February 18, 2009.
Starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. Also starring Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens, Judah Friedlander, Ernest Miller, Dylan Summers, Tommy Farra, Mike Miller, John D’Leo, Ajay Naidu, Gregg Bello, Ron Killing, and Giovanni Roselli. Featuring credited cameo appearances by Ryan Lynn, Andrew Anderson, Austin Aries, Blue Meanie, Nicky Benz, Brolly, Lamar Braxton Porter, Claudio Castignoli, Cobian, Doc Daniels, Bobby Dempsey, Billy Dream, Rob Eckis, Nate Hatred, Havoc, DJ Hyde, Inferno, Joker, Judas, Kid U.S.A., LA Smooth, Toa Mairie, Kevin Matthews, Devon Moore, Pete Nixon, Paul E. Normous, Papadon, Sabian, Jay Santana, Sugga, Larry Sweeney, and Whacks; and uncredited cameo appearances from Michael Marino, Robert Oppel, Emanuel Yarbrough, and John Zandig.
“The Wrestler” is an imperfect but intense drama. Its muscles are as strong as they could ever be, built up by its heavy meditation on the main character’s soul-in-action. Wrestling is a drug for Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke). The eighties was his heyday as a pro wrestler, and after two decades of withdrawal, he’s brought his body back to fight.
Battered. Tattered. Torn.
It’s as if instantaneously that this man is sucked into the glory of wrestling once more; to himself, Randy swears he’ll never give up wrestling again. Twenty years, he realizes, would have been no different for him if he was on hiatus or asleep. But with his beaten body, he’s prone to damage, not just the pain he so relishes. Things just won’t feel right for him when he suffers a heart attack, and is forced to put aside wrestling for good.
Darren Aronofsky directed and produced “The Wrestler”, and much like anything else in his canon (“Pi”, “Requiem for a Dream”, “The Fountain”, “Black Swan”, the soon-to-be-released “Noah”), the movie is extremely bleak. He’s using the same setup he began with in 1998, which is that a character with an obsession will end up in the hell of self-destruction if he doesn’t restrain himself. This journey from purgatory is an engaging one, if a bit too bleak. I say this only because the tone works against the tale. The story is a thorough slice of life, but it often gets caught up in the art of depressing its audience. Our interest in the movie just isn’t in the gloom, but in the tragic hero who is surrounded by this gloom.
The drama is everything and nothing a sports movie. Perhaps someone who avidly watches pro wrestling would enjoy this more than myself, or perhaps that has nothing to do with it. The drama was written by Robert Spiegel, who formerly wrote–get this–news satire for The Onion. It’s nearly impossible to tell, and in fact, the most over-the-top sights only enhance the living, breathing quality of the movie. Despite how much worse it could have gotten, scenes when staple guns and ladders enter the ring are not easy to watch.
It goes without saying that with a less genuine centerpiece, “The Wrestler” wouldn’t work as the movie it was positioned to be. Mickey Rourke gives this hero lungs and a heartbeat. His understated, powerhouse delivery channels the interesting role to a point that lands not too far from a description as real. The whole movie is superbly acted, with him in the unmistakable lead. (Evan Rachel Wood, in her riveting performance, would classify as a runner-up.)
In an Aronofsky movie, it’s that very last moment that counts. What “The Wrestler” offered in this case was underwhelming. He doesn’t than depict or even suggest the character’s self-destruction this time. Between the last shot, the long pause before the credits, and the solemn entrance of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Wrestler” (a great song that creates an overly sudden contrast with any of several preceding hair band songs), Aronofsky suggests the ambiguity of either self-destruction or life continuing as-is. The finale is new, but it feels decidedly underwhelming.
That’s half of my thoughts on the ending. Everything before is fantastic, and perhaps the closing half hour is the best half hour one could extract from the movie. Rourke’s numero uno in this movie makes for a gripping finishing act, to the point where that extended final scene had me shaken.
THE WRESTLER IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.
Movie Review #702
Paramount Pictures presents…
Friday Four Films Inc.
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by John Carl Buechler. Produced by Iain Paterson. Written by Daryl Haney and Manuel Fidello.
Rated R by the MPAA — violence, sexual content, nudity, profanity, infrequent drug material. Runs 1 hour, 28 minutes. Wide release in the USA on May 13, 1988.
Opening narration by Walt Gorney (uncredited). Featuring Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees. Starring Lar Park-Lincoln, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, Kevin Blair, and Terry Kiser. Also starring Susan Blu, Heidi Kozak, William Butler, Staci Greason, Larry Cox, Jeff Bennett, Diana Barrows, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jon Renfield, and Michael Schroeder.
“Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” starts out as if it were recapping a TV series. I’ll narrow it down to: “Previously on Friday the 13th…Jason’s mother killed people, then Jason became of age, and proceed to kill people, get killed by people, come back to life, and repeat the cycle.” There’s one or two major technicalities I could give you, but being that this is a review of “The New Blood”, it really isn’t worth it.
“Part VII” is a maelstrom of weak Friday the 13th apparel. What used to be great fun is now so underwhelming that it poses the question to us about what we would do to better it. I sat through the whole title sequence wondering why the music wasn’t in sync with each title, because guess what y’all, that would sound perfect. Of course, that’s just the earliest example I can offer.
“Part VII” has here-and-there camp, and as a result, moments of pure hilarity. All in all, its newfound assessment of Jason’s sprees is a hopeless and boring TV movie. If you truly want to be entertained, wait for October, when AMC routinely airs this (and anything from the series) with well appropriated commercial breaks How I long for another sequel as fun as the first movie–something arguable for half, if not all, of the sequels that lead up to “The New Blood”.
As you might guess, the characters in “Part VII” are very stupid. Though this is the second find we’ve actually gotten some character development that rises above the usual standard. Unlike “Part 6”, there’s only one character who’s developed, and we could have actually done without a described character. Look at ‘er! She’s a walking cliché! She’s telekinetic and schizophrenic. Both thanks to her father’s death, which she wished upon him at a young age, by the way. She’s still bratty and annoying in her teenage years, and it’s obvious that when she has telekinesis and wants Jason away from her, she’ll get her way in the end.
I feel like I’ve seen this movie before, and it’s not just because I’ve seen six other Friday the 13th movies. Very little fun comes from the director not knowing what the hell he’s doing, or the writers not knowing what the [CENSORED] they’re talking about. This movie was released on May 13, 1988, just three days before trash-diving was legalized in California. That’s the only thing keeping me from accusing the “New Blood” writers of taking their ideas from the Hollywood garbage can.
Anatomy of a Psycho
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD, VHS, AND LASERDISC.
Movie Review #701
Manny O Productions
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Spoken Languages: English – Spanish
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Produced by Gabriela Cowperthwaite and Manuel V. Oteyza. Written by Gabriela Cowperthwaite & Eli Despres. Co-writer: Tim Zimmerman.
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA — mature themes, disturbing content, violence. Runs 1 hour, 23 minutes. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013; at San Francisco International Film Festival on April 27, 2013; at Hot Docs International Documentary Festival on April 30, 2013; at Montclair Film Festival on May 4, 2013; at Seattle International Film Festival on May 28, 2013; at Sydney Film Festival on June 7, 2013; at Provincetown International Film Festival on June 22, 2013; and at Nantucket Film Festival on June 27, 2013. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on July 19, 2013.
Featuring Tilikum as himself. Also featuring Suzanne-Allee, Jeff Andrews, Kim Ashdown, Ken Balcomb, Samantha Berg, Diane Brancheau, Kelty Burn, Kelly Clark, Corinne Cowell, John Crowe, Dave Duffus, Howard Garrett, Dean Gomersall, John Hargrove, Steve Huxter, John Jett, James Earl Jones, Nadien Kallen, Lori Marino, Mercedes Martinez, Ken Peters, Christopher Porter, Carol Ray, Estefania Rodriguez, Mark Simmons, Thomas Tobin, Chuck Tompkins, Jeffrey Ventre, and Eric Walters as themselves.
My understanding is that a SeaWorld trainer is 50% veterinarian and 50% circus performer. They do care about animals, but it’s not a sincere be-all-and-end-all passion, because at a certain point, it has to be about putting on a show. The same is for the converse, that while they do love putting on a show, they won’t deliberately harm the animals just to put on a show. “Blackfish” investigates the moralities of SeaWorld in a way that is shocking and awe-inspiring. The name “killer whale” is highly inaccurate for an orca, unless they are aggravated consistently. That’s why the death of Dawn Brancheau, the most valuable trainer, honored highly by either species, was most shocking for those who knew her. When the beloved, happy-go-lucky star orca Tilikum lashes out on Brancheau, the only explanation is to look at anything that could have led to this incident.
I’m restraining myself from spoiling half the movie. There’s so much to say about the movie, and I’m dying to the say the would of it, but unfortunately, this world involve spoiling it. I ask that you see it before searching for spoilers. “Blackfish” takes an unflinching, often disturbing dive into the problems faced at SeaWorld. Anyway you look at it, the documentary is incredible and shocking. You’ll notice that this one had no problem becoming last year’s most controversial film. SeaWorld Entertainment has done seemingly everything in its power to keep the film from being seen, and let’s be honest, if you were the chairman of a multimillion dollar company that had been exposed, you’d take action. “Blackfish” doesn’t just wish to expose, though. It wishes to present the issue, to express its sympathy for those affected, and to understand what caused such an incident in the first place. Orcas, we are told, have minds that are driven by emotion more powerfully than most any animal. If you’d imagine “Blackfish” as unable to bring such emotional cleansing to a human, think again.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
BLACKFISH IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD, AND FREE TO STREAM ON NETFLIX.
Movie Review #700
New Line Cinema presents…
Slap Happy Productions
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Spoken Languages: English – Spanish
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Produced by Chris Bender, Vincent Newman, Tucker Tooley, and Happy Walters. Screenplay by Bob Fisher & Steve Faber and Sean Anders & John Morris. Story by Bob Fisher & Steve Faber.
Rated R by the MPAA — frequent profanity, sexual content, drug material, brief/graphic nudity (extended cut also rated R). Runs 1 hour, 50 minutes (extended cut runs 8 minutes longer). Premiered at Traverse City Film Festival on August 3, 2013. Wide release in the USA on August 7, 2013.
Starring Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, and Will Poulter. Also starring Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, Tomer Sisley, Matthew Willig, Luis Guzmán, and Brendan Hunt. Featuring uncredited cameo appearances by Andrea Alcorn, James Alcorn, Laura Avery, Rachel Brewer, Christian Daniels, Amanda Fresquez, Rebecca Harran, Cathy Mattson, Monica Molina, Joe Montanti, Robb Moon, Kathy Walton Pulley, Ed Ricker, Ellie Rodriguez, Nick Thies, and Steven Ray Byrd.
“We’re the Millers” is a horrible, horrible movie, yet I feel neither shame nor hesitance in excusing it as entertaining. The humor was so consistent that I didn’t have to worry about pitying any failed attempts at comedy; I was guffawing instead.
I do pity the film, though: I’ve slapped it with two “horrible”s and its aim is the exact opposite. Clearly, the intent was to make the numero uno of dysfunctional family movies. It’s the establishment of character and story that ventures further than needed. Really, a ridiculous story doesn’t guarantee as many laughs as some filmmakers tend to believe. Spanning from the American Southwest into Mexico, the tale covers a grab bag of four neighboring people who have to act as a cheery, happy-go-lucky family.
This is the plan concocted by the “father” (Jason Sudeikis), so that he can smuggle drugs out of Mexico and keep his business running. But it’s not just him. All four of the “family” members have a screw loose. He’s a drug dealer in desperation. His “wife” (Jennifer Aniston) is a stripper who takes her job way too seriously. Their “daughter,” rescued from the projects, has no respect for authority, as if the drama queen in her isn’t too unnerving for them. And they can be sure that their “son” was dropped on his head as a young’n without checking with a doctor.
That. That story is a joke in and of itself. As the premise for “We’re the Millers”, it happens to fuel countless jokes. But still, given that ludicrous story, how in pluperfect hell are we supposed to believe the inevitable ending: that these people will get used to posing as a family, and they’ll eventually start to naturally interact like a family? Should I reiterate who these four are?
Not much in the screenplay gives the remotest face of reality. I mean, this basic setup technically could happen, once in seven or eight blue moons. All four familial asses are saved time and again by something that could probably happen when pigs fly. Character development and situational approach are often as realistic as some of the short films I would produce and direct in the fifth grade. Even the dialogue is unrealistic. I found the profanity excessive, more than likely because it was there just because. “The Wolf of Wall Street” was the record-breaker at over 500 F-bombs, and I didn’t mind. I minded the reported 97 in “We’re the Millers”.
(I might as well mention that pacing is horrendous, too.)
But there’s a saving grace to all of that. Not one of the four writers of “We’re the Millers” know how to write a convincing film. They do have jokes, and that’s what makes this entertaining at all costs. “We’re the Millers” unravels with side-splitting hilarity. The production is anemic in anything but its humor. The performances do save it in part, which is a given for the humor’s own success. Emma Roberts, especially, is an enthusiastic standout as the homeless “daughter.” It’s worth the warning that the humor does falter once, near the end. An extended scene that is the grossest thing in a hard-R comedy since that one scene in “Borat”. Remember how much you laughed in that movie? Every rose does indeed have its thorn.
WE’RE THE MILLERS IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.
Movie Review #699
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Woody Allen. Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, and Edward Walson. Written by Woody Allen.
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA — mature themes, profanity, sexual content. Runs 1 hour, 38 minutes. Premiered at Traverse City Film Festival on July 30, 2013. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on July 26, 2013. Wide release in the USA on August 23, 2013.
Starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., and Peter Sarsgaard. Featuring an uncredited cameo appearance by Steven Wiig as a Midwestern tourist.
“I wanna go back to school! I wanna get my degree and become…you know…something substantial!” – Cate Blanchett, in the role of Jasmine
When I say that each and every Woody Allen is the same, yet completely different, I mean exactly that. I’m referring to the ever recurring/ever changing substance, not just the smooth jazz or the exquisite cityscapes, though those apply, too. “Blue Jasmine” is remarkably anomalous to any Woody Allen movie I myself have seen. And it’s oddly something we could swear we’ve seen a billion times from the filmmaker. It’s possible that this is because Woody Allen hasn’t really set his sights on the ugly duckling story before, but more than likely, the freshness we’d find in “Blue Jasmine” is thanks to focus on character more than situation.
This character couldn’t have been accomplished without its actress, Cate Blanchett. I fear that we actually know someone like her, someone just like her. It’s as if Mia Farrow gave Ms. Blanchett a soul transplant and made her an actress we want more of in Woody Allen movies. This newfound actress for Allen, she’s absolutely terrific. Never would I have expected Ms. Blanchett to play the female counterpart to the lovable neurotic that Woody Allen played from the nascence of his career all the way through the eighties. That Woody is merely focused on writing in that ego, as opposed to typecasting himself, is where the film allows for a more natural establishment of the neurotic female, a New York socialite named Jasmine who is visiting her sister in San Francisco. I’d conclude that the movie as a whole feels a bit deeper than Woody’s usual ninety minutes of wry.
This is a huge step up from Woody’s previous comedy, “To Rome with Love”, and enough to prove that “To Rome” was just a blemish on his winning streak. It got great at 2011′s “Midnight in Paris”, and now it’s only gotten better. I’ll admit that “Blue Jasmine” fails to meet comic potential during its opening, but past the first ten minutes, this is a very funny movie. It seems I was laughing harder and harder with each passing scene. By the time Ms. Blanchett was opening up to her nephews, likely not even ten years old, about her medical history (“You do know of Prozac, don’t you?”), I was dying. Best of all was the finale. The ten finishing minutes were so well played, and of course, it all ends on the Woody Allen definition of “sweet.” That’s not a complaint, because even at its most cliché, “Blue Jasmine” is still a beautiful comedy.
We’re the Millers
BLUE JASMINE IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.
Buster Keaton and George Gershwin? Beautiful. Those two and Cinemaniac Reviews? Ten times better.
And it’s for real. I’ve designed a commercial that is, at worst, PSA-quality, and at best, GEICO-quality.
It’s only thirty seconds of your life. And it’ll be the best thirty seconds of your life if you spread it, because I know you set out looking for my approval. I know that you know that if you have a simple “thank you” (or a very complex one, which is more likely) from me, then your life will be fulfilled.
And I’ll be so thankful if you could spread this commercial in any way you can think. Because I know you’ve probably discussed a GEICO commercial at some point in your life, or called and donated thanks to a touching PSA. I saw Jack Nicholson do that in About Schmidt. Let me repeat: I saw Jack Freaking Nicholson donate when he saw a commercial. Don’t tell me your unaffected by commercials.
But my favorite actor’s beside the point. It’s all about the blog at the moment. And the commercial. I’ve included it below. Relish it. Share it. Build a shrine for it. Do I have to quote Field of Dreams? If you build it…ah well I can’t promise the second part of that sentence, and I’m being ridiculously verbose here, so…
…here ya go: