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Movie Breakdown: Foxcatcher (Noah)

November 19, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

I don’t know if you could line up a more interesting story, with a more capable director, and better trio of actors. Every preview for this thing has been absolutely spellbinding and my only worry is that my own personal hype machine is working so hard that any film won’t be able to live up to its crushing force.

The Reality:

Foxcatcher is the most interesting, creepy, and beautiful mainstream picture this year. I haven’t seen everything yet, but I’m calling it now – nothing in the mainstream realm of Hollywood films is even going to scratch the surface of this film.

Based on a true story, Foxcatcher tells the tale of mega-gazillionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell in all his nose-prosthesis glory) who buys the talents of one broken former wrestling gold medalist (Channing Tatum) and his brother, and the strange and horrible consequences of his actions.  To say that this film is just a showcase for its amazingly talented cast, which it is, is to short change it. This is a film firing on all pistons. Tatum, Carrell and Mark Ruffalo (who plays the emotional heart of the film in Dave Schultz, the brother of Tatum’s Mark Schultz) act above and beyond what you’ve seen from any of them up to this point. If the world didn’t already know Tatum’s background as a stripper-turned-movie-star, hell, if this was his first film, you’d have thought that director Bennett Miller ripped a professional wrestler right out of his opening stance and cast him in the movie. Tatum is a brute in this film, a man entirely defined by his self-conscious need to be the very best. He is intense and angry and you see all of this in the way he carries himself. Steve Carrell steps out of his comfort box here to play John du Pont, an eerie parallel to Schultz, in that the immense amount of power he already has is undermined by his want of having what he could never have. Prosthesis aside, Carrell soars in this film, embodying du Pont with a mental confidence but a physical weakness that says everything you’d ever need to know. Ruffalo, a small but vastly important role, does what Ruffalo does best, he spins an everyman character into a genuine beating heart.  When this story plays out and the fate of Dave Schultz is finally revealed, you are a robot if you don’t feel wrenched apart. None of this would work if not for the minimalist score and the gorgeous, eerie photography by Greig Frasier. This film is borderline silent, leaving the weight of it perched on the shoulders of its actors and its visuals, and Frasier’s work stands out above the rest. Long, quiet shots; close-ups that highlight the odd, beauty of traditional wrestling; the color palette – everything comes together to create a world where only this type of story could work.

My only gripe about the film is that it grows listless in the middle, but even this seems to have a point. We watch these characters stumble into relationships and Miller makes, what I think is a fine decision, to let them slowly develop. It isn’t absolutely riveting, but it creates an atmosphere that the ending of the film draws from, and that’s enough for me, even if my mind wandered at points in the second and third act. This isn’t the best film of the year (though it is a contender) but it’s the film that most challenges what we’ve come to see as a Hollywood production.

The Lesson:

Money is evil! Burn your money!

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Movie Breakdown: Dumb And Dumber To

November 13, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

It took a whopping 20 years, but there’s now a sequel to Dumb And Dumber.

The Reality:

The trailers for Dumb And Dumber To didn’t do much to make me think it was in any way going to be a quality film, but I still strolled into the theater hoping to be treated to a handful of funny and/or memorable moments.

This was a mistake.

While Dumb And Dumber To is not as woeful as A Million Ways To Die In The West, it does rank just behind it on the list of 2014′s most unfunny movies.  It carries the same frame as its 20-year old predecessor (two goofballs take on a task and wacky stuff happens), but it’s 100% less charming.  I got about 20 minutes in and just wanted the damn thing to end.  But it didn’t.  Nope, it went on for another 90 minutes, and I had to watch Jeff Daniels bumble about (in what’s easily his worst performance to date) and Jim Carrey overact even more so than usual in an attempt to try and save every terrible, lazy and poorly written gag in the film.  Don’t let nostalgia fool you, there’s no need at all to see Dumb And Dumber To.

The Lesson:

The Farrelly Brothers haven’t been good since There’s Something About Mary in 1998.  Why do I keep seeing their movies?

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Movie Breakdown: Dumb And Dumber To (Noah)

November 13, 2014

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The Impression:

It’s been 20 years since my favorite comedy of all time exploded into the world. I know every line in the film, every beat, and spend more time than I should while under the influence of drugs quoting these lines. I actively boycotted the prequel and when the idea of a second film started flitting across the web, I crossed my arms and said “fuck no.” But now, after a few trailers hit funnier than they should, my expectations might be low enough that I’m ready to enjoy this son of a bitch.

The Reality:

I’m going to get this little bit off the table: this is not Dumb and Dumber. It’s not as funny or well made nor does it feature performances from Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels one-one-hundredth of the caliber. Dumb and Dumber is a goddamn classic and this, I’m almost positive, never will be. And you know, after spending my evening at the theater, embracing the opportunity to spend another couple hours with Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, I’m perfectly fine with a second effort that doesn’t quite live up. This isn’t Dumb and Dumber, but it certainly tries to be, and when it succeeds, it’s hilarious, and when it doesn’t, well, it’s everything you’ve probably come to expect from a sequel to Dumb and Dumber. Where the first film had a some semblance of an interesting plot that drove the story forward naturally, this film sacrifices meaningful development in lieu of a series of hit-and-miss comedic gags that, more often than not, draw the exact same water from the same exact well previously tapped by The Farrelly Brothers. I mean it’s a film about two stupid dudes trying to find someone important while being chased by nefarious characters. There’s a scene with Binaca; a scene with a string-orchestrated memory sequence; a scene with the Shaggin’ Wagon; a scene where a trick goes hilariously wrong and so on and so forth. If you can get past that the film is funny, especially Jim Carrey, who is able to once again wrangle that rubberface of his into some truly sublime bits of stupidity. Daniels though, well, he just hasn’t aged as well. He feels like a stage actor playing the part of Harry Dunne, and though it never drags the film too far down, it doesn’t do much good. When Harry or Lloyd aren’t on screen, which isn’t often, the film is rote and boring and you can probably just shut yourself down for a minute or two. One more time: this isn’t a great film, it’s just barely a good film, but at it’s core it has Christmas and Dunne, stupider than ever, and even better, The Farrelly Brothers seem to treat them with enough respect that it never becomes a worthless endeavor.

The Lesson:

Kathleen Turner, I applaud you for committing yourself to film once more. Please never do it again.

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Movie Breakdown: Rosewater (Noah)

November 13, 2014

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The Impression:

In almost any case, if Jon Stewart is somehow involved, I am one hundred percent sold on whatever it is he might be involved in. Toss in a healthy dose of Gael Garcia Bernal (a woefully absent actor as of late) and I should be up to my ears in excitement. But for some reason … I’m not.

The Reality:

As my girlfriend has said, countless times, since we saw Rosewater, “this is the type of film that needs to be made.” And I’m going to wholeheartedly agree with that. Jon Stewart has made a very, approachable, touching, funny film that, in a very traditionally Jon Stewart way, deals with one pocket of the world’s ignorance and how it directly effects one man and his family. Rosewater tells the true story of Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, arrested for filming the beginnings of a revolution in Iran in the wake of a corrupt election, and imprisoned for, well, a very long time. This is the story, for the most part, of Bahari’s time with his Special Interrogator, a man he would name Rosewater (though the movie never really tells us this) and the way Bahari’s intelligence trumps the curtain of stupid that has fallen over Iran. Bernal is his very pleasant self, imbuing the character of Bahari with a gentle sense of humor to bring his massive intelligence down to Earth. The real standout of the film though is Kim Bodina, the previously unknown to me actor who plays Rosewater. He’s at once likable, despicable, thoughtful, and completely consumed by his need to be a part of the Iranian State and to please those who rule above him. It’s a wonderful performance and one I can’t imagine won’t get a nod come Oscar-time. And now, I know, I’ve lauded the film with compliments, but to be honest, Rosewater is a pretty, well, fair movie. Stewart is most certainly a first time director and not one with a very firm grasp on either aesthetic style (the film bounces back and forth between a glossy perfume ad, the b-roll of No Reservations and PBS reenactment) or consistent tone. Yeah, sure, he’s able to tell the story and to stand back and let his actors act, but he doesn’t do so with much of a vision or goal. The scenes with Bernal and Bodina are stellar, but the rest of the film, thematically and narratively never seems to find its foothold or its path. It meanders aimlessly, in the most pleasant of ways, but when Stewart decides to call it a day, I can’t say I know what it was Bahari learned or what about him changed. He simply soldiered through a relatively terrible experience, highlighted the idiocy of some worse than average men, and then entered back into the world, to continue his quest to expose just that. Maybe I’m missing something or maybe Stewart didn’t hit his speaking points that well, but, for a movie that “needs to be made” it feels a lot fluffier than need be.

The Lesson:

I’m willing to give Jon Stewart another crack at this whole film directing thing.

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Movie Breakdown: Low Down

November 13, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Low Down details the troubled life of famous jazz musician Joe Albany (played by John Hawkes).

The Reality:

Low Down is a film that I want to be able to rave about, as it’s beautifully shot and features some great performances (Elle Fanning is especially deserving of praise), but it constantly fumbles over itself and ends up falling flat.  The movie appears to be focused on all things Joe Albany – his relationship with his daughter, his love of music, his drug issues and so on – but none of these items are ever fully explored.  You get a glimpse, then it’s off to another scene where Joe either is getting along with his daughter or disappointing her.  Where’s the depth?  Low Down might have been memorable if it had any.  Skip it and watch something else.

The Lesson:

Give me a reason to love you.

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Movie Breakdown: Interstellar

November 4, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Christopher Nolan goes full-on sci-fi and launches Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and others into space in an attempt to save the world.

The Reality:

Let’s face it, Christopher Nolan is eternally expected to WOW viewers.  If he were to churn out something small or lacking in ambition, then the world would immediately frown and pout until he did something that at least attempted to blow their minds.  For a movie like Interstellar, which details a group of humans who head into a wormhole with the hopes of finding a way to save the human race, you would think that a “swing for the fences” approach would work best, and for the most part it does.  The film is wildly ambitious and often stunning.  I saw a 70MM print at the IMAX, and I routinely found myself having to pick my jaw up off the floor.  Few do big like Nolan does, and Interstellar contains some of the most impressive sci-fi imagery to ever grace the silver screen.  Unfortunately though, I think the drive to stun also hampers the film.  There are quite a few laughable plot points that happen just so Nolan can move on to the next dazzling visual, and much of the “science” seems sort of glossed over so that movie is just under three hours instead of having to be a mini series.  Also, like a lot of Nolan films, the third act wobbles as it tries to tie everything up nice and neat.

Regardless of its story and the various details that seem to be missing from it, Interstellar is a can’t-miss event, and you have to see it at the theater to get the full effect that Nolan is going for.  Yeah, at some point you’ll start to feel the film’s hefty run time and there are moments where you’ll roll your eyes at its silliness, but you’ll still walk out of the theater knowing you saw something important.

The Lesson:

In Nolan I continue to trust.

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Movie Breakdown: Birdman

October 23, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The Michael Keaton-lead Birdman is a black comedy directed by the revered Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.  Early viewers have yet to stop raving about it.

The Reality:

Most of the hype I’ve heard about Birdman has been in regards to its cast, and they are certainly deserving of an enormous amount of praise.  Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Stone turn in award-worthy performances, and I was often impressed with the work done by the rest of the film’s familiar faces.  However, I think the actual star of Birdman is its co-writer, director and producer, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who has crafted something that is a complete mindfuck both technically and thematically.

Personally, I found Birdman to be the most brilliantly weird thing I’ve seen this year.  The film is immensely meta, intricately designed and loaded with raw intensity, and I found it to be an impressive effort.  With that being said, I can’t say it’s for everyone.  While the movie is an exhilarating ride, it’s also exhausting in the way it throws an avalanche of exposition at you over the course of one long continuous take.  So in other words, it never stops moving.  There are no moments to breathe or think about what’s happening on the screen, Inarritu just plows forward and you either commit and go all in or you put on your bewildered hat and wonder if you can get your money back.  Also, while the film has been advertised as some sort of anti-superhero black comedy, it’s actually less of that and more of a bizarre, deeply layered look at art, acting and so on, and I have no doubt that some of you will find it to be pretentious babel.

Seek it out only if you’re an adventurous, experimental-loving movie-goer.

The Lesson:

I think I understood it.  Did I understand it?  I probably didn’t understand it.

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Movie Breakdown: Fury

October 16, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Set in Germany during WWII, Brad Pitt is a tank commander on a dangerous mission with a crew that consists of Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal.

The Reality:

After Fury concluded and I was heading out of the theater I overheard a guy tell his friend that he didn’t like the film because “it had nothing to offer but senseless violence.”  If you ask me, that’s a totally unfair assessment.  Aside from the violent and gruesome onscreen annihilation of hundreds of soldiers, there’s also a variety of WWII-movie cliches and a lazy Aldo Raine-light performance by Brad Pitt that should not be so easily dismissed from the flak that David Ayer’s Fury deserves.  From the outside his film appears to be a dramatic look at the dangers that Sherman tank crews faced throughout WWII, but it’s actually just another meathead war film.  Is it the worst of its kind?  Not at all.  I certainly didn’t hate it, but I will say it’s hard to watch Fury and not just constantly feel like those involved could have done a lot better.  If you see it, pay matinee prices and keep your expectations in check.

The Lesson:

Some things don’t really need to be glorified.

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Movie Breakdown: St. Vincent

October 15, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Bill Murray is a cranky old man who forms a special bond with a child and then mushy stuff happens.

The Reality:

If you’ve ever watched any sort of feel-good movie in your life, then you’ve already seen St. Vincent.  The film is rife with Oscar-bait-level cliches and every plot point in it is so predictable that many of you could probably guess them all correctly with nothing to go off but the trailer.  But you know what?  I liked it.  Yes, the film does absolutely nothing new, but it’s got a great sense of humor and it’s anchored by two immensely wonderful performances from Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher (Oliver, the kid next door).  Their moments on-screen (together and apart) are such a damn joy to watch that I willingly accepted every single generic moment – and there are a lot – that stormed off the screen.  See St. Vincent because of them.  And also, of course, to make sure you still have some feelings left in you.  Those are occasionally important, you know?

The Lesson:

Great actors make okay films better.

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Movie Breakdown: Men, Women & Children

October 14, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Jason Reitman takes a look at a few of the ways the internet has altered people’s lives.

The Reality:

At some point the internet touched Jason Reitman inappropriately, and now he’s made Men, Women & Children in an effort to strike back.  Unfortunately though, his incredibly bleak film doesn’t do much but emphatically point out that people are inherently bad and the internet is everyone’s preferred tool of moral destruction.  Well no shit, right?  In any case, while it’s not remotely insightful or interesting, Men, Women & Children is actually not an outright awful film.  Adam Sandler, Dean Norris, Judy Greer, Kaitlyn Dever and most of the rest of the cast turn in nice performances, and I think some of movie’s quirkier elements (various points of narration by Emma Thompson, on-screen text messages) are well done.  It’s just too bad that there’s not enough of a meaningful message around the noteworthy parts for any of them to really matter.

One day when Men, Women & Children is on HBO and the remote has slid into the couch and you don’t feel like digging it out, maybe watch it.

The Lesson:

Where’s the guy who directed Juno and Up In The Air?

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Movie Breakdown: The Two Faces of January (Noah)

October 10, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Hossein Amini has written both great movies (Drive) and terrible movies (Snow White and The Huntsman). This, his debut feature, has a great cast (Viggo Mortenson, the very up-and-coming Oscar Isaac, and Kirsten Dunst) and the possibility of being pretty fantastic.

The Reality:

The Two Faces of January is like the Patricia Highsmith novel you’ve never read. Deeply steeped in the most traditional of moody, noir filmmaking, Amini and company crank out a seedy, desperate bit of filmmaking that creates tension through the fickle flaws of its cast of characters and the incredibly way Amini’s script works to turn the viewers expectations on their heads. What starts as, well at least how you might believe it starts as, a film about a young conman (Oscar Isaac) entrenching himself into the lives of a wealthy American couple traveling in Rome (Viggo Mortenson and Kirsten Dunst) quickly turns into a crime cover-up story as Mortenson’s character begins to show who he really is. That’s not it though, on the run from the law, the film swaps intentions again, and Mortenson’s jealousy-wracked entrepreneur becomes the villain of the piece, with Isaac’s young, damaged conman a pawn in his shifty eyed plan. And that, is really just the beginning. As good as Dunst and Isaac are in the film, and they’re great, this is Mortenson’s movie. His Chester Macfarland is a character broken apart by his own internal demons. Jealous, corrupt, and trying to find his way to the surface, Mortenson exposes every twinge of emotional suffering on his sweaty face. Where we’ve come to know the actor for his more stoic roles, here Mortenson shows off another shade of his acting abilities – the damaged leading man. He’s charming and uses his perceived normalcy as a way to hide what’s really going on, and his presence on screen electrifies this film. Amini’s inaugural feature is assured, a truly classic bit of filmmaking unswayed by the typical pomp and circumstance of Hollywood today.

The Lesson:

Look who’s back, Viggo’s back.

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Movie Breakdown: Dracula Untold (Noah)

October 10, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

All I really needed was another Dracula film strangled by bad computer graphics and over-acting. Oh great, here comes one.

The Reality:

Dracula Untold feels like it’s over in 15 minutes. Most of the time it’s a plus when a film pulls you in so deep with its characters and plot that the time vanishes around you, but this certainly isn’t the case with this hastily thrown together, toneless, unneeded “prequel” to the story of Dracula. Instead the tale of Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) and his transformation into Count Dracula breezes along because it’s vacuous mess of a film. Vladly Vladerson is the beloved, reigning prince of Transylvania who is forced to take on the powers of the vampire when the Turkish Empire demands that he send his son as a slave tribute. Hopped up on vampire blood, Vlad gains the power to kill hundreds of people, raise a vampire army, and, as he does time and time again, turn into a swarm of bats and wreak havoc on his Turkish oppressors. And that’s it. There’s romance (of the most blandly PG variety) and a little bit of military camaraderie (though I can’t remember a single name of any character in the film aside from Vlad) but for the most part this is just Luke Evans in crushed velvet acting blood-thirsty and smashing people with an enormous bat-fist. And that’s just the beginning of the problems. This is a prequel, the story that’s supposed to explain why Big Drac is Big Drac, but all it does is flout the standard conventions of a vampire story. We’re shown that Vlad gets powers, but there’s no explanation of why being a vampire gives you the ability to explode into bats or why it makes you sensitive to light and silver. Nope, you just drink some creepy old man’s blood out of a clam shell in a cave and suddenly you can do, well, just about whatever you want. Supposedly Dominic Cooper shows up as a the bad guy, but all I saw was a borderline racist portrayal of a Turkish sultan for a few moments that may or may not have been Mr. Cooper. Dracula Untold is supposed to be the kick-off for the whole new Universal Monster connected universe, but this film is a limp dick with a forced ending that promises some sort of sequel. Gary Shore, the director, isn’t bad, he steeps the film in atmosphere and makes a small effort to beautify the computer graphics, but it doesn’t matter, there’s little to no script and when the film plods to a unsatisfying ending, you’ve already forgotten what you’ve seen.

The Lesson:

Just leave fucking Dracula alone.

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Movie Breakdown: The Judge (Noah)

October 10, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

David Dobkin accidentally made one funny movie once, Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t made a good film since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the rest of the actors in The Judge look like they needed a paycheck to get their Infinti Pool cleaned. Pretty worried.

The Reality:

After I saw this film, I turned to my friend (a notorious over-liker of movies) and asked what he thought. “The realistic parts were actually pretty good,” he said. I asked, “what parts were those?” to which he replied, “like when Robert Duvall’s aging judge character has some sort of cancer-related fit and shits himself.” And that’s just about all you can say about The Judge, the best part of the film is when one of the great actors of the last century diarrhea’s himself in a bathroom. It’s almost pointless to dissect this film as an individual piece of work because it so strictly adheres to the cliche of the super-talented-prodigal-son-returns-home-to-save-his-family-and-learn-some-life-lessons-along-the-way film. This time it’s RDJ as a snarky lawyer who returns home to mourn his mother only to be pulled into a possible murder case involving … … … HIS FATHER (Robert Duvall). Turns out though the Judge (as everyone refers to Duvall) and his son haven’t had the love jones for each other for a while, so though Robert Downey Lawyer has the natural urge to defend him, it’s crotchety mess of a time. Both Duvall and Downey Jr. do fine work here embodying gruff and shinily annoying while holding tight to the rigidly defined structure of well, every Hollywood film ever. The film jumps the tracks though when it shies away from cliches and tries to bushwhack a new path. When I say “jumps the tracks” I mean, this film gets very strange and very depressing, very quickly. Sure, it has the requisite amount of cloying sap, but just when you think The Judge is going to end with smiles and joy, it takes a sharp right turn into depression town. I’m so tired of writing about films like these, high-gloss re-dos of the same tired themes, buoyed by strong performances but nothing but powdered, sugary shit in the middle. But this is Hollywood in the 2010s and you just hope that every once in a while some kind of winner will transcend the heap.

The Lesson:

I don’t even know. Some sort of cliche about the banality of modern film.

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Movie Breakdown: Kill The Messenger

October 8, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Jeremy Renner is Gary Webb, the infamous reporter who uncovered that the CIA had imported and sold cocaine in the US to support the rebel army in Nicaragua.

The Reality:

Kill The Messenger is an odd film.  Jeremy Renner is really good in it, and the true story that it’s based on is certainly interesting.  What I didn’t necessarily get about the movie though is the way it’s essentially the Cliff’s Notes version of both the story that Gary Webb reported and what happened to him after he published it.  Why not dive more into detail on what Webb had uncovered about the CIA and their supposed drug-import/distribution ring?  Is it because there wasn’t enough to show?  Was it actually all too loosely connected?  Or if Webb’s story was just the bait to get me roped in on how the CIA retaliated (allegedly?) by smearing his name and reporting, why not showcase that more?  While watching the film I honestly felt like Dr. Grant and the gang in Jurassic Park when they’re on the fancy ride and want to know all about the dinosaurs but it just keeps moving along without providing any real information.

Kill The Messenger could have been an eye-opener, but instead it just skips along over the top of anything legitimately important.  It’s certainly not a bad film, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it unless you’re a big Jeremy Renner fan.

The Lesson:

I guess some stories really are too true to tell.

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Movie Breakdown: Gone Girl (Noah)

October 3, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

It’s a new David Fincher film folks, what else is there to say? I’d watch this guy’s film if it was just two and a half hours of shadows creeping across a wall.

The Reality:

Gone Girl, much like the book it was adapted from, is a deeply fucked up film. The story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his disappeared wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) feels like a Douglas Sirk film as seen through the clear eyes of a certified sociopath. The film, for the most part, begins with Nick discovering that his wife has disappeared, leaving a healthy amount of blood and a series of anniversary clues. The next two and half hours is his dark journey from bewildered husband to suspect to something far deeper and far darker. Affleck makes a fine showing as Nick, a man who’s breached the unhappiness of his own marriage and now must navigate the twists and turns of his wife’s disappearance, but the juiciest, most deliriously insane bits fall squarely on the shoulders of Rosamund Pike’s Amy. Fincher has always been a director who plays with the idea of women and the way they effect men (Marla in Fight Club, Lisbeth in Girl With A Dragon Tattoo) but Amy Dunne is his greatest example. The director exposes the most stereotypical of perceived female weakness and the way our society feeds on these stereotypes and then flips them around, and uses them as a chest of weapons for Amy to use against the world. Though I always enjoy every movie Fincher makes, it feels as in some of his last few attempts (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo the most prime examples) he’s leaned heavily on his visual acumen and the talents of his actors to make smooth, seamless films that look good, watch better, but never directly challenge the viewer. Gone Girl, as adapted by the author of the book Gillian Flynn, is not that movie. Though it plays in the sandbox of domestic squabble, seedy crime, and seedier revenge flicks, this is a dense, captivating movie, that ends on the kind of moral question mark we haven’t seen from Fincher in a while. This is not my favorite Fincher film, far from it, but as I’ve said before, Fincher’s cold, calculating visual prowess and his ability to craft movies just on the periphery of your standard Hollywood potboiler makes it as enjoyable as anything I’ve seen this year. Yes, the film drags, and at times I wondered at the narrative pace and the way the director decided to unveil certain clues, but issues aside, I found myself invested in these characters and this story on an intellectual level. It’s dark and crazy and no one is left unscathed when the credits roll, but beneath the seedy layer of heat and emotion, Fincher has crafted a movie that asks what is happiness and what exactly are we willing to do to achieve it. It might not be Fight Club, but it’s a movie ripe for discussion, and that’s my favorite kind of Fincher.

The Lesson:

Does this mean we have to wait another year or two before Fincher drops another bombshell on us? Fuckity fuck fuck.

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