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I'm a striving writer (screen or other) and love movies. Life is great, and who knows, maybe from life, great things will come.
Smokin' Aces (2006)
Smokin' Aces is an Ace
The trailer for this movie had me so excited. It looked like a Guy Ritchie film, with amusing characters, and heart-pounding action. Then I read the reviews.
This movie was widely panned, and in turn almost made me not see it. Am I ever glad I did! Maybe it was me going in with little to no expectations, but the film surprised me. It wasn't what I thought it would be at all, and kept me entertained throughout.
The story circles around Buddy "Aces" Israel, a down on his luck magician turned mobster turned witness and the various groups of hit men who descend on Lake Tahoe to take him out for the reward of a million dollar hit. The only catch: the man who put the hit on Aces wants to see his heart carved from his chest for all the trouble he's caused them.
It sounds like a pretty generic plot outline and it is. Carnahan took a lot of heat for this movie thus far, and I don't think it was deserved. The lead up is fantastically executed, with the tension almost reaching unbearable levels.
Sure, it's cool, and the characters are all one dimensional, but I wasn't looking for deep story here. In fact, none of the trailers even suggested deep story. What it was was an entertaining movie, and a great one at that.
Some of the plot details could have been cleaned up better and, while the twist ending seemed tacked on, it still was a good ending.
Also of note, Ryan Reynolds delivers a damn good performance by the end of this movie, and Piven really stands out as Israel.
A great, entertaining movie that I will definitely see again.
(NOTE: Not a good movie to take your girlfriend to, as the violence is graphic and gory.) 8/10
The Departed (2006)
His departure lasted way too long....but he's back!
The man spawned legions of imitators and followers, some good, some bad, and some terrible. His style is unrivaled, his violence over the top, his language, coloured, but his expertise, unparalleled. The man has never been recognized by the Academy, and for a crime like that there are no words. But what the man does best is not win awards; it's the gangster movies. And oh how long it's been since we saw one.
Martin Scorcese is back in the vein that made him great, the vein where he revealed a whole new style of film making, a style imitated by many young talents in the industry today, such as Quentin Tarantino. He's respected like no other, and he shows why in his latest gangster movie, his first in 10 years, 2006's masterpiece "The Departed".
Starring a cast that fires on all cylinders, never slacking in any department, it is a remake of the Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs", transposed to a Bostonian setting in which gang business plagues the city, and investigations on the reigning crime lord, Frank Costello (expertley portrayed by Jack Nicholson in a scene-stealing role), always seem to turn up empty. Enter new State Police officer Billy Costigan (an Award deserving Leonardo di Caprio), a man with a troubled past. His assignment: to lose himself in the world of organized crime and become an undercover unit in Costello's gang.
However, not is all as it seems, with Costello having his own spy within the State Police, a rat of a cop, Colin Sullivan (well played by Matt Damon) who is sent to find the undercover within Costello's crew.
It's a deadly game of cat and mouse, where one false move could mean certain death for either party involved.
The story is excellent and engrossing, but the real star here is not only the actors, but the style. That's Scorcese's bread and butter: the style. Expertly cut and crafted, every shot seems as though it's cool, without even being overly remarkable.
Martin Scorcese has been dabbling in styles unfamiliar to him. While well respected by the Academy (though still never winning, I believe John Stweart summed it up best) it was a departure from his career making mold. This isn't always a bad thing, as Steven Spielberg has slowly undergone a metamorphosis into a very different director than he began as, however, for Scorcese, his newer movies just didn't feel right.
All that changes with "The Departed". A crowning achievement for the dismal year of 2006, and definitely a contender at Oscar time.
Perhaps maybe, justice will be served, and Scorcese will finally get his due. Either way, the man remains the best at what he does; and that is, whatever he wants.
I had seen this movie before, at the age of 13, the year it was released. I was young, immature and hadn't experienced love besides family love. Never kissed a girl and had it mean something, never said those three words, and thus, my experience of this movie was not something memorable.
It left me angry, confused, and feeling cheated of my time. Because I couldn't relate.
Fast forward to now, 3 years later and I am an entirely different person. Recently coming off my first ever meaningful relationship, I rented this movie again, because I had been saying I wish I could forget it all. Let me just say this: this movie changed my life.
An ingenious plot: a man attempts to have his memory erased of a bad break-up and all things associated with it, with heart, something most Charlie Kauffman movies lack. Teamed with Michel Gondry, it's result is brilliant, captivating, and a truly real representation of an honest relationship. This is, by no means, a fairy tale romantic comedy. This isn't Notebook style kisses in the rain. This isn't flowers and a box of chocolates, and most importantly, this isn't a Hollywood romance.
Thinking back on my relationship, I remember all these things that this movie shows us. For me, it wasn't the over-the-top moments that were so special. It was crosswords on the couch, walking her dog in the snowy night scape and falling asleep while watching a movie that are the most special moments I could ever remember.
This movie changed me, this movie made me feel more enlightened and grateful, and dispelled all my hate and anger. This movie, if you can relate, will be the greatest representation of the human sense of love that you will ever see. If you haven't loved yet, you will not understand.
But if you have, this movie will leave you bewildered, transfixed, and enlightened. It's sheer normalness makes it that much more special.
And in being special, this movie is made great. Enjoy it...
Gridiron Gang (2006)
On the Gridiron, things were done right.
It seems 'Remember the Titans' caused the levee to break. Every year, there is about five football movies released. Most are the exact same story, played over and over, while others are simply money grabs. This is exactly what I thought 'Gridiron Gang' was going to be.
I was wrong.
This movie was more than just football. I went deeper into real problems that today's underprivileged families face daily. Gang shootings, trouble at home, all of it was expressed in this movie, with no punches pulled. It had more heart than most movies I've seen all year.
The story: a youth detention camp decides to form a football team in order to help teach these kids how to bond, how to respond to authority and how to act as one unit. To forget whatever gangs they were, and to form new friendships, and respect others.
Sounds clichéd, and many posters on this site have declared just that. However, I thought it was very very well done. The Rock is no de Niro by any means. Not even close, but he did an excellent job in this as a frustrated youth worker willing to risk his job to help these kids find a purpose.
For many, football has helped them accomplish their dreams, has elevated them from the streets and given them a chance to save their families. This movie showed that, and leaves feeling inspired. I loved it, and I hope people give this a chance over that God-awful 'The Black Dahlia'.
This was the better film.
Miami Vice (2006)
Michael Mann achieved something great.
With the slew of awful studio release movies so far, there seemed to be no hope remaining for summer movies. Superman Returns was good, but something was wrong that I just can't pinpoint, X-Men: The Last Stand doesn't deserve to be mentioned as it was a complete bastardization of anything we had seen before and Pirates of the Caribean: Dead Man's Chest was one of the worst, poorly contrived sequels we've seen since Matrix Reloaded.
That all changed with Miami Vice.
From the minute the movie starts, its already different. The Universal logo appears, then fades to black, and instantly, without any opening credits or even title card, we are grabbed by the collars of our shirts and pulled into this world that Mann has crafted. And crafted so well might I add.
Each shot could stand alone as a work of art. The cinematography was beautiful, different, and nothing we have seen to date. The capturing of the neon lights over Miami, the unusual tinge to the sky due to the reflection of the city's lights and the thunderstorms in the distance are all incredible. And in this day and age when it seems anyone can make a movie that looks good for the sake of looking good, for Michale Mann, looking good is a way of forwarding the story.
The two leads were great in my opinion. Colin Farrell did an excellent job as Sonny Crockett, and we always got the sense that there was something uneasy, some underlying issue he couldn't resolve. A man on the brink, it's his partner, and excellent Jamie Foxx, who keeps him sane.
And it's that line that makes this movie fascinating. There really is no line, as both seem to be the same, dealers and cops. There is no one to be trusted, not even Gong Li, in an excellent performance, as Crockett's romantic interest.
What Michael Mann achieved here was something beyond anything else I'd have expected. It was art at its finest, a movie truly crafted with care. It's too bad the majority of movie goers will not understand this. If something doesn't blow up every five seconds, it's deemed awful.
This is not an action movie. This is a drama. And a damn good one at that.
One of the best, if not the best, 'Cops and Robbers' Sagas ever made.
Heat is far more than just a standard 'cops and robbers' drama. For a movie like that, see Michael Bay's movies. Lifeless, full of one-liners, standard. From the mold. And that's everything Michael Mann doesn't do.
Unbelievably shot in L.A (using not one sound stage), Heat shows exactly what life in L.A looks like. The tinted blue, the dark, but beautiful nights of L.A. Michael Mann created one of the most perfect visual masterpieces I've ever seen.
However, it isn't only the incredible look to the film, but the story and the all-star cast. There are no slackers here, not when you unite two of the best actors in cinematic history. Al Pacino is over-the-top, incredible, and in one of his finest roles to date. Robert de Niro is at his finest, playing the cool, quiet and lonely Neil. Both create some incredible scenes, both eerie and powerful. Even Val Kilmer doesn't look out of place here, and holds his own with the two screen giants.
The script was perfect, layered with thousands of intricate details. At almost three hours, the movie is lengthy, however I would have wanted more. The amount of character development in this film is unprecedented, with Mann carefully showing the viewer exactly how the person would be in real life.
Heat is by far leagues ahead of any other cops vs. robbers movie made to date. Why? Because it doesn't get stuck in that mind frame. Instead, Mann sculpts the stories of many different people's lives, all unified by their drive to get what they want. Mann did a stand-out job, and this film definitely deserves a solid 11/10.
V for Vendetta (2005)
More Then Lives Up to it's Predessessor
V for Vendetta is pure gold. The style, the action, all perfect for this type of film. But by far, a stand out performance by Hugo Weaving as the mysterious masked man known only as "V".
In a future world, London has become a totalitarian system of government, having complete control over all of it's civilians. In a shadow of what the former Soviet Union was, this is a harsh world, where fear rules the minds of the inhabitants of this once free country. Horrible atrocities are committed daily (just which ones, you'll need to see the movie for), and there is only one man who stands against it. An idea.
The trailers would lead you to believe the film is action-packed, with little story, when in fact, it's just the opposite. While there are action segments (and they are PHENOMANOL) there is more then enough story to make you genuinely care for the characters portrayed on-screen. There are moments of great sympathy for the oppressed people, and there are also moments that make you want to stand up and cheer, because Weaving's performance is incredibly portrayed.
V for Vendetta is a spectacular outing by the Wachowski Brothers, and more than worthy of the nine stars I have given it. It leaves everyone with a solid message, a message of how an idea that can change the world.
An excellent movie...for kids.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, was an excellent movie for children. But for me, it just wasn't worth the hype.
That result could be partly my fault, as I went into it expecting Lord of the Rings. The visuals were great, stunning landscapes. However, there wasn't one ounce of blood. Not even a drop. Which made the battle scene unbelievable.
Even Aslan, who tells peter to "Clean your sword", clean what? There was no blood anywhere.
Aside from that element it was a good movie. Not amazing, but not terrible, as I thought it would be. There are no frightening scenes so it should be good for everyone.
The Truman Show (1998)
Beautiful, absolutely beautiful
Jim Carrey had been a riot for me as an eight year old boy watching "The Mask" for the first time. "Ace Ventura" was also great. But the routine was old, and I had grown tired of it. I happened to stumble across "The Truman Show" earlier this year, while visiting my grandparents. And it was breath taking.
The mere thought of a television show made solely to keep one man imprisoned was horrible, but intriguing at the same time. It made me want to tear apart the producers of the show, but made me watch in curiosity as we were slowly brought into the world of Truman, a 30-something man who sells insurance and has never traveled outside of his hometown. Everything was created for him and him alone, and everyone is trained to keep him unaware of the world outside the world around him.
You feel sorry for Truman, want to scream, shout, run into the film and wake him up, but you can't. He is like an unborn baby, unaware that this isn't reality.
The cast was incredible, with Carrey delivering his best performance, There's no talking out of his behind, stupid noises or faces. Ed Harris delivers as the TV producer who decided to play God for Truman.
The final minutes of "The Truman Show" are truly beautiful, masterfully filmed. The music, the lack of dialogue, it brought tears to even my eyes as I was left in wonder at how something like this came to happen, and at what was to happen next. It was shocking, but most of all, it was beautiful.
There was no gratuitous violence, language or sex. It was a character driven story, through and through, and the viewer is on Truman's road to self discovery throughout the entire thing.
I can't stress it enough; the film was, for lack of any other word, beautiful, from beginning, and especially, the end.
Far to rushed, just wasn't on par with the book.
I must say that, at the ripe old age of 12, buying my fresh, hardcover copy of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" with my allowance money at a local Chapters was a thrill in itself. reading it as fast as I could was another thrill on top of that. When the movies were in production Iwas ecstatic and simply couldn't wait for "The Goblet of Fire" as it was, and still remains my favorite of the 6. I must say, I was let down, in a very big way.
The movie opens with something straight out of the novel, but then, everything seems to be kicked into fast-forward, without even touching the remote. I couldn't believe it. The entire movie seems as if it happens over a period of 7 days, not 10 months. There was no substance, not subplots, and, most tragic of all, I didn't care about the characters one bit.
The past 3 movies have tried very hard, and succeeded for the most part, in developing the characters and having them grow from film to film. However even Ron and Hermione were degraded to almost cameo roles. The conflict between Ron and Harry lasts all of 5 minutes, and there was little to no friendly interaction between characters. The three tasks were all that were focused on at all, with the dragon taking up the most screen time, however being the most pointless part of the film.
I wish that director Mike Newell had taken warner Bros. advice and made two movies, shooting both simultaneously. I am aware at the amount of work this takes, but if he were to do this, and edit both at once as well, he would have achieved a superb adaptation. But this film was sadly lacking in everything that makes Harry Potter what it is. I didn't care what happened to the characters, if they lived or died. All I cared about was when it would finish. The acting was wooden, the script weak and to full of stupid humor.
Maybe someday, these films will be reinvented the way they ought to be. And maybe then I'll give a damn.