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The Homesman (2014)
The way things were
The Homesman, written and directed and starring Tommy Lee Jones tells the story of Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) a spinster who takes on the responsibility of bringing three insane women to Iowa where they can be taken care of.
She saves or spares the life of George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) and enlists him on her arduous five week journey.
When you see Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones, you know the acting is going to be stellar. The parts of the insane women, Arabella Sours (Grace Gummer), Theoline Belknapp (Miranda Otto), Gro Svendsen (Sonja Richter) because of the great directing remained the focus while being secondary characters. The movie had a Shakespearean feel to it and that is a great compliment. These ladies portrayed insanity, believably and that takes serious dedication and acting ability.
"The Homesman" was a tragedy and because of it, some people might not be able to pallet the story; there were some shocking attention grabbing scenes that the average viewer might not be prepared for. Those scenes, to me, were great examples of a different time, a time when life was hard and people died.
The Homesman is a story that sits with you and makes you thankful for many things, even if it just the shoes on your feet.
Don Peyote (2014)
A surreal trip
I guess since I am the first person to put a review up for this movie, I shouldn't dump all over it. I honestly do not know what to think of this film.
This is not the type of movie most people like, but that does not mean it can not be good.
On a whole, it came off much like a trip, drug or psychosis based, very unstable and peculiar; the fourth wall was broken. It is at times a comedy, a tragedy, a documentary; the focus shifts numerous times as does the cinematic style and tone and story.
It was narrated in parts and in some of the most confusing sequences, you are left to your own mind. I spend a lot of time analyzing things. This movie still doesn't make total sense to me and I'm not sure if it is because I am missing something or reading too far into it. I think it might be clearer in a few days, but I wanted to leave a positive review now to perhaps convince a few people to check the movie out if they get a chance.
The film starts with an idea: The 100th Monkey phenomenon, which states that after a certain number of people learn or partake of an idea, a critical mass is reached and that idea is pushed out into all of that species, instantly, and becomes universal. Everyone knows that thing once a certain number of people know it.
Warren (Dan Fogler), unemployed artist, pot head, has crazy dreams. That is the only remarkable thing about him until a day comes when a crazy homeless man confronts him on the street. From that day on, Warren descends into himself, insanity and a confusion of mind and body, spurned on by drugs along with Doomsday and conspiracy theories.
Searching for a purpose, he starts interviewing people on topics of the 2012 apocalypse, nwo, cia, illuminati, lizard people and every possible conspiracy theory--BUT, that drive and initial plan are lost and soon Warren loses control of himself, falling deeper into the trip and chaos of his mind.
What is real? What is actually happening? Are we seeing what Warren sees or is it the actual truth? Did he lose himself because he was touched by some random weirdo; was he always teetering on the line of sanity.
"Don Peyote" was written and directed by Dan Fogler. If I had more time this week I would find a copy of his first movie "Hysterical Psycho" just to get a sense of what his style is like.
One thing is for sure, this movie is important to him and whenever a person cares about something, us humans owe it them to give it a chance and show it due respect.
That said, I honestly don't know how to feel about the film.
1. IMDb's actor rating system is screwed up. Looking at the page of 'Don Peyote' you think the main actors are Anne Hathaway and Jay Baruchel. They make appearances, but they are not the stars.
2. This is Dan Fogler's movie and since I find him hilarious, I did not feel slighted checking this movie out.
I had a couple of feelings and theories regarding the story, but I am not sure whether they should be said; or if they constitute spoilers.
There are people out there, we all know them. The one guy who thinks the world is going to be over by the years end. The girl who thinks mercury in fish is poisoning everyone; the couple who hordes food; the pot-head friend who always talks about the illuminati.
We live in a world where people have little purpose outside of themselves and there are so many shaded 'threats', dangers lurking behind buildings and in the empty places of cut down woods.
As people, do we feel the need to speak of these things, to convince people of what we believe, make sure enough know to trigger the '100th Monkey Phenomenon' and help this world?
"Don Peyote" was a descent, the visualization of a man going crazy, seen from his perspective. It was a crazy movie. It was supposed to be crazy and I liked it. But I like surreal and weird and new stuff. I have never seen a movie quite like Don Peyote.
If you decide to see this movie...see it. Actually watch it, rather than compare it to other movies you like the entire duration.
Trust Me (2013)
Who do you Trust?
What do you look for in a movie?
Today, it seems like every film has to have a bit of everything: comedy, tragedy, levity and suspense all hung up in this thing we call drama.
It's nearly impossible to do it, I mean, even Shakespeare kept his comedy and tragedy separate. One of the few writers and directors I have seen capable of doing this outside of the scope of literature is Clark Gregg.
You might know him from Iron Man and the Avengers and Agents of Shield: Phil Coulson. But you might not connect him to 'Choke' that awesome movie he wrote and directed, starring Sam Rockwell.
This film is impossible to talk about without spoiling it, so let me stay on the outside.
"Trust Me" A story about a child agent named Howard who has watched his client list dwindle and his life degrade gets a big shot at success when he begins to represent a teen named Lydia, who has a shot at a feature role in a movie.
Howard is a good guy and all he cares about is the future of these child actors, hell, he was one himself and knows the sting of being forgotten and left broke; but as he works to do what is best for Lydia, he is oblivious to his fate.
This was an enjoyable movie, any way you look at it. It had the great one liners from Marcy (Amanda Peet) and rival agent Aldo (Sam Rockwell), sustained comedy from Howard (Clark Gregg's character). Lydia (Saxon Sharbino) wavered between emotions, going from light to dark so easily. The acting never took me out of the story.
Clark Gregg has a directing style that is not so much surreal as Visionary. You see what the protagonist sees until he or she realizes their place and you become aware. Because of that, his films have a detective, mystery, noir feel, though they are not quite those types of dramas. You are on the outside, trying to understand and that makes for an absorbing story. Among other things, he is a capable writer.
This was a film that drew me in from the start, even though I had no connection to Child Acting or Hollywood. "Trust Me" is a movie about 'becoming' something, being let go from who you feel you have to be. Whether you look at Howard, the main character; Lydia, the young actress; Marcy (Amanda Peet), Howard's divorced neighbor. All these characters are trying to let go and become who they are.
"Trust Me" is worth a watch.
Small Time (2014)
Closing...I mean Closure
When you watch a movie, often times you build positive and negative off of expectations. If you go to see this movie, enjoy it for what it is.
'Small Time' is a relaxing movie that surprised me. Al Klein (Christopher Meloni), used car salesman, allows his son, Freddy (Devon Bostick) to work on his lot selling cars rather than go to college. Freddy is a natural, but is it what he should be doing with his life?
This is a story about closure, but the problem with talking about closure is, it would be just spoilers.
In life, we have to make choices and of course live with those choices; but some times it is hard, even 10 years later to accept what seemed like the best thing to do. We often lived trapped by those decisions, unable to move on.
Director and writer Joel Surnow, who has worked in television prolifically, used a succinct and condensed writing style that is often lost in movies. In cinema everything is drawn out, rushed, then drawn out between scenes of random events to show the director's 'artistic' capability.
Just about everything said in 'Small Time' had a point and added to the story; this story, each character had depth, history, feelings. Or, in the other words, 'The writing and the dialogue was good and I liked it' (and as a writer myself, I tend to hate more than I like).
There was psychology to these characters, thoughts in their heads. I was genuinely impressed. I could talk about the acting, but I felt the three main roles played by Meloni, Norris (breaking bad fame), and Bostick (older brother from Diary of a wimpy kid) were done professionally. Three capable actors, what else would you expect?
Now, some people might not find enough drama in this film to enjoy it. We are so conditioned to seeing murders and affairs and fights and violence in dramas, we don't know what to do without it. All I can say is, as a person who values his time, I did not feel robbed by this movie and I could appreciate the story and the characters.
The poison is not in the bottle, it has always been in our hearts
'An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin.'
It is hard to describe life. Stories about mermaids fighting wars in different galaxies, that is easy to describe; but writing about life, sometimes all you can say is, 'It's about life'
Joe is a story about a place, a place most people might not be able to conceive: where things are dying, where people survive off liquor and cigarettes, where those who are supposed to love us drive knives into our backs.
Joe (Nicholas Cage) runs a small foresting outfit poisoning weak trees so the land can be replanted with sturdy pine. A troubled life, past, Joe moves from bottle to bottle and day to day, but when he gives a young man named Gary (Tye Sheridan star of the movie 'Mud') a job, the bond they form brings direction into each of their lives. Joe is compelled to help Gary out of the pit dug by his drunk father.
Director David Gordon Green of Prince Avalanche and Snow Angels and Pineapple Express can pretty much cut on all sides of drama. I think the mark of a great Director is you hardly notice he is there. Like Prince Avalance and Snow Angels, the movie's scenes blended so well with the story and characters.
Nicolas Cage is good when he is bad and good when he is good, so, no point in dwelling on him. It's worth watching this movie just to see him.
Tye Sheridan hasn't been acting long, but god damn, he has been in some good movies and he showed a lot of range in this flick, portraying an abused and scared and strong young man.
If you know David Gordon Green, you don't need convincing to see this movie. If you like Cage or Sheridan, you probably will check it out to see them.
Green likes to show certain things: scenes that might not be a part of the story, but add so much to the story in general, the way a writer might prelude a chapter by describing something connected to, but not in line with the characters. Joe has a feel, you can sense it and I was getting a little shaky half way through.
I know places and people, some that might pass for the world in 'Joe'. I have seen people drink themselves evil. I have seen young people fall apart because of those around them. But, I guess there is always the chance of coming out, and surviving, if you keep up the fight.
From an artistic standpoint, there were some plot elements and character developments I didn't think were totally needed. They do however drive the story, which seemed to be their purpose, so I can accept them.
in the end, Joe is a movie about people. I finished this film, thinking, 'There are people out there suffering and I can do something to help them.'
Goodbye World (2013)
Where were you when the dragon broke?
'Goodbye world' the story of our modern world coming to an end. A text message, terrorism, the civilized world in the U.S.A crumbles as a group of college friends unite at the safe and secluded home of James (Adrian Grenier) and Lily (Kerry Bishé).
This is a story about human nature; what types of people we decide to be. Should we be activists, politicians...or maybe all it takes to make this world a better place is if we all try to be better people.
When a strange text message sets off the collapse of the country, James and Lily are expecting Nick (Ben McKenzie) and his wife Becky (Caroline Dhavernas) to visit. Soon enough, the house fills up with old friends.
As the film plays out, the past and emotions of these characters, old friends spill out in the shadow of a broken world.
The plot summary of this film on IMDb actually does it justice. Written by Denis Hennelly (director) and Sarah Adina Smith, it comes off as a thoughtful movie; it is pleasant to watch something that actually has a point and message.
This film made me think quite a bit, and that should be the point of art, to make a person question the world and perhaps even their stone beliefs. Is a little disaster all it will take for people to turn into animals--are people worse than animals?
Now, my instinct is to go into a long critical analysis of the characters representing idealistic stances: how each character echoes a way to live life; but this isn't the time for that junk.
Adrian Grenier, I felt made this movie. I never watched 'Entourage' and was surprised at his acting ability. He never seemed too fake, is another way of putting it. Of course, Gabby Hoffmann (uncle buck ref), is in this movie too, which is the reason I decided to watch it.
It was well directed...but I did feel like the movie sort of stretched believability at points. I wasn't too bothered, but for 1 part that I felt was not needed at all. No Spoilers. It was a relaxing and interesting movie, actually about something.
And so they cut us apart and found steel where there should have been bone
Created by Ed Dougherty, and Brady Hall, 'Scrapper' is a film that is serious and comical at the same time. Dark, witty, almost haunting at moments...it is broken up just as quickly with humor. I could see this movie being a complete comedy, or a complete tragedy, depending on the perspective and tone shown.
Ed Dougherty (writer), and Brady Hall (writer & director) tow the middle ground where most of us live. There is comedy in tragedy and tragedy in comedy.
The story: Hollis Wallace (played by Michael Beach) a man with a comical name (not the point however) is a scrapper, he collects metal from the Seattle area and uses his earnings to help take care of his mother. He is lonely, isolated, a misanthrope, but all of that changes when he meets a troubled girl and forms the first real friendship he has had in years.
I was a scrapper myself, for a time, but I scrapped in a small town where the worst people did crystal and the best wanted to charge you for their waste scrap. It is an interesting life, and I can say the movie did a pretty good job portraying that world. Hollis Wallace meets people, sees them when they are most exposed, in their homes and does his best to make a living.
I was drawn into this film from the start. I didn't think the dialogue was all that powerful, it felt a little forced, written to explain situations and feelings, it at points came off unnatural. That said, I didn't care. Michael Beach (Hollis Wallace) played a genuine role. Anna Giles (Swan, the troubled girl) played the character of despondent and lost girl who refuses to admit she is lost realistically (believe me, I have known many in my life).
I don't know how to explain the attraction. I watch some movies...there is just no pull, no connection. But this movie, even though half of it is watching a 40 year old man and 18 year old girl pick up metal, I couldn't look away. I was waiting for the explosion, the realization, the bond, the feeling, the thing that makes life so worthwhile: the ever lasting connections we form as people. I was not disappointed in this film.
Old Boy (2013)
I don't get why people are so critical of this movie
The original 'oldboy' was the greatest movie ever made! It had no imperfections, it was heaven delivered...was it really?
If I was going to be honest, Min-sik Choi made that movie. Min-sik's performance was dominant, he embodied the role and put out the emotion and attitude to express perfectly what the protagonist was going through.
The remake stars Josh Brolin, directed by the legendary Spike Lee, featuring the beautiful Elizabeth Olsen. Could you really ask for more. The movie didn't deviate all that much from the original.
Sure, the fight scenes weren't as good as the original's and the plot was altered a bit, but I thought it was a relatively tight movie, with a script that was basically delivered from the original.
Being rated a 4.9, to me it is obvious people are just bagging on it because it has been judged 'bad' not because it really is. I've seen movies that were plain average rated at 6, so what is really pulling this one down to a 4.9?
Well, I do know why, it is because there was really no reason to remake this movie. The first one was, though not perfect, a masterpiece. It was good enough to make 'Americans' who are against subtitles and most 'foreign' movies take the time to watch. It left us impressed.
We do that, us Americans, take something, re-brand it, call it ours.
As much as I am against remakes in general, if you watched this movie, having never watched the original, it is still an enjoyable experience. If you watched the first one and spend the whole time comparing both, asking why, well, you aren't going to like it that much.
Elizabeth Olsen and Josh Brolin performed well. Spike Lee directed it with a few of his 'style' touches, but kept the focus on the story rather than the cinema for the most part.
It was not great, but it certainly wasn't bad. Put it like this, if you saw the original and you have no desire to rewatch it, there is no reason to watch this one. If you want to see a new take on the movie, if you never saw the first one, give it a shot.
The Truth About Emanuel (2013)
aka the truth about fishes
Softness, quiescence, mellow and dull, this movie builds towards a breaking point.
Emanuel, a young woman whose mother died in child birth is still haunted by the absence. Longing, hurt inside, she forms a connection with a new next door neighbor named Linda (played by Jessica Biel).
Can't spoil the movie, but Linda and Emanuel are connected by loss.
We need one another, we love one another and sometimes, the bereavement even if we never got to truly know that lost one, is so strong it breaks our hearts, minds, souls, and future. We find ourselves surrounded by water, drowning and watching our love fall deeper and get carried away by the current.
I enjoyed this movie.
Kaya Scodelario carried the movie and Jessica Biel delivered in a believable way.
Written and Directed by Francesca Gregorini, I didn't have any complaints with the script and felt there was a great pace and rhythm to the movie, supported nicely with music.
And the pain of hunger and heat
I'd bet a lot of white people look at this movie at first glance in a 'Blindside' type of way. This isn't a black movie or a white movie or a white guilt type of movie or exploitation type of movie.
The Inevitable defeat of Mister and Pete is just a good movie about a young boy with dreams, in a terrible spot. His mother is doped out, he lives in a rough neighborhood and there is no way for things to get better (even though he aspires to become an actor and make a better life for himself).
When the police crack down on the drug trade in his neighborhood, his mother is picked up. Mister and Pete (the young boy who was staying at his apartment because his mother was on a binge) spend the summer trying to survive and stay out of riverside orphanage.
A hallowing story about life--not black life or the ghetto, a story about life when things are bad and all that matters is surviving, the Inevitable defeat of Mister and Pete takes the viewer into a world they most likely never see.
This movie had a great message of survival and perseverance and hope and left me believing, if I just keep living and fighting, everything will work out.
The dialogue at times was a little forced, I felt, to convey the situation of helplessness--but I can live with that, as the script on a whole was pretty good. It's hard to convey so much with just dialogue and I thought the writer, Michael Starrbury did a pretty good job.
It was well Directed, but George Tillman Jr has proved he is an elite director imo.
Skylan Brooks (Mister) probably set himself up to be in countless movies in the future and I'd like to see him in a comedy next.
Jennifer Hudson, even though she didn't have that many lines was able to fulfill her role perfectly.
This was a good movie and definitely worth the time it took to watch it.