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Mother! (2017)
9/10
Mother!...You wanna find hell with me...
14 September 2017
I couldn't wait to see Darren Aronofsky's new film, as I'm a big fan of (most of) his work. I thought Requiem for a Dream was a near-perfect film, one of my all-time favorites, 10 out of 10 on my list. The Wrestler and Pi were both very, very good, 9 out of 10's. And I liked Black Swan as well, 8 out of 10. The Fountain, I'm sure I just didn't understand it, I couldn't even finish it. And Noah was complete dogsh1t, if you want to know how I really feel. So where would I rank "Mother!" you ask? I'd put it in the Wrestler/Pi category, a strong 9 out of 10...this is a really good flick! It doesn't quite reach the heights (or lows, shall we say) of Requiem, few movies can, but this is one nice piece of art in its own right. It makes you feel so uncomfortable at times, you want to leave the room, but at the same time, you can't look away. This is a rare gem.

The similarities to Rosemary's Baby is obvious, you could almost say it is a love letter or a sequel to the 1968 flick. I'm not sure I completely understood all of the imagery and what was either religious or supernatural overtones, so I already can't wait to re-watch it a few times at home. The ending has a nice twist to it as well. Highly recommended to those who love good film.

By the way...Intentional or not, "Mother!" has a lot of similarities to the song of the same name by Danzig, at least that's what I read into it. (The song is never played or mentioned in the movie, nor would it even fit.) Watch the movie then read the lyrics though...it's wild to see some of the lines and how they match up with the movie. Almost makes you wonder if this song was used as some of Aronofsky's inspiration for the movie.

Great movie!...9 out of 10.

JD

(IMDB: please bring back the message boards!!)
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8/10
Great movie, but...
5 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Making a sequel to the unique and very original Trainspotting was never going to be an easy task. Danny Boyle and the team did a great job with it for the most part though, terrible name (T2) aside of course. It "felt" like Trainspotting and they had many of the old characters back. How they inserted quick shots/scenes from the original was poignant and well done. Overall, I'm glad they made the movie and it will be a welcome addition to my Blu-Ray collection. However, I did have some issues with the final product...

Before I begin, I'd like to remind you I gave this a 8 out of 10...it is also a unique movie like the original and I certainly enjoyed watching it. Though I must say, I do wish the movie had a different story-line and had left out a few implausible scenes/situations. Maybe this stuff is in the book Porno and they wanted to follow that, I'm not sure. But I can't help but be disappointed by the direction to movie took in a lot of ways, despite giving it a 8. (Spoilers ahead). For instance, they had Begbie escape from prison at the beginning...after losing out on his parole. Why not just parole him and send him on his way into the public? Instead, they go through a ridiculous scenario in which Begbie escapes a crowded hospital by doing the old and tired "knocking someone out in the hallway and switching clothes with him off-screen" routine...something that I'm sure has never actually worked in human history beyond movies and TV. On top of all this, the cops never even check the house where his wife and kid live, as Begbie easily shacks up there. Also, the cop who was watching him while in his hospital bed must take the longest #2's his side of the Pacific Ocean! Begbie talks the cop into leaving him un-handcuffed while the cop goes to take a duke...then apparently before the hospital is put into lock-down by cop who wouldn't have been gone longer than 15 minutes, Begbie un-tethers himself to all the wires he's hooked up to, he roams the halls looking for a spot that is empty so he can knock someone out, knocks that person out, removes and changes clothes with his limp body (would be a very time-consuming task, especially while one person is limp and the other is injured), then casually walks out...all before the cop is done with an on-duty #2?! Come on. Then later Begbie (in an implausible way) meets Renton - who's a runner in his off-time now - and a foot-chase begins. The much older-looking Begbie, who's just coming off a 20-year stint in the clink while the younger Renton has been training this whole time, somehow keeps up with Renton during the long chase. He then stabs Renton in the arm. This arm gets no attention the rest of the way, despite what looked to be a pretty serious injury...he's fine the next scene. All of this should have been re-written. Which leads me to Spud. Spud, if you haven't seen the movie, is no longer the happy-go-lucky Spud...he's suicidal and becomes, get this, an author! Whatttt?! Again, a re-write here would have been preferred. And, also, now Sick Boy has a coke problem but doesn't do heroin anymore. Trainspotting was kind of about, you know, heroin! 3 of the 4 barely even mention it anymore...they do more coke and drinking than anything...and by the end, none of the 4 are hooked in any sort of way. Spud seemed to drop his 25+ year habit after a long jog and a nice talk. Why did the filmmakers decide on the unnecessary and unlikely change of heart towards the characters and heroin? This is Trainspotting!

What should have been done instead? I think Renton should have came back because he ran into a illegal money-making situation like his mates did with Mikey Forrester 20 years earlier. Maybe a plan to rob a warehouse where he somehow found out heroin was being stored there. He would decide to come back to town and meet up with the three old mates and relieve his guilt, offering them a deal where they make up the 4000 pounds plus a heck of a lot more in exchange for their forgiveness. This would have been a great start to a fun sort of story (fun like Trainspotting was fun to watch). And you could have ended it a million different exciting ways. Instead there is a lot of depression and regret and guilt by the characters and it weighed down the fun factor in my opinion.

Overall, I was just so glad to see the old characters back. And despite the flaws, it's an interesting movie to watch, an alternate sort of take to Trainspotting. It's a really good movie that really could have been a great one with a little better script.

JD
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Bordertown (2016)
8/10
Hilarious!
4 January 2016
I love almost all of the 90's to 2010's adult themed cartoons - South Park, King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Futurama, The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, Moonbeam City, Dr. Katz, and The Critic are all good to great shows - and it appears I will have to add "Bordertown" to that list!

Just watched the first episode...hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud at numerous bits, especially the guy who kept getting abducted & anal probed by aliens and how the aliens started treating him like he was their late-night booty call -- great stuff! We'll see how it goes from here...but so far...nice start.

JD (IMDB member since 2000!)
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Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
4/10
An R-rated movie for kids?!
16 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The first "Kick Ass" was a decent effort. Not particularly my favorite movie of all-time, but its certainly watchable. I hadn't anticipated watching KA2, especially at the theater, but I found myself purchasing an opening-night ticket out of sheer boredom.

Now, if you're a teenager, I'm about to sound like a grumpy old man. And maybe I am. But seeing uniformed police officers get savagely ambushed and murdered shouldn't be anybodies cup of tea. I thought how the killing of the officers was done in particular (up-close scenes of uniformed cops being shredded by bullets before having any chance to respond) was terribly in bad taste. I'd have to think that is #2 on my complaint list though. My #1 complaint, or question really, is: at what point does parading around a 14-year-old girl constantly with "screw me" looks on her face become child porn?! Seriously. 14 years old...and in this movie she's dating, kissing, dressing up as a slut, consistent "adult-eyes" close-ups, and - of course - saying the "F" word constantly. Didn't anybody call the real police during filming?! It was off-putting to say the least.

Those cringe-worthy scenes aside, the movie still had gaping holes in it. After numerous police are killed, news stations are somehow still fixated on the townsfolk dressing up in costumes. No federal response whatsoever. Then, after Kick Ass'es dad gets killed (who the news is reporting as the actual Kick Ass), they show his funeral surrounded by about a half-dozen cops. Really? Evil super-villains just killed dozens of cops...then they kill what people think is Kick Ass (somehow got to him and got out even while he was sitting in a jail cell)...and the police response at the funeral was a few random cops?!?! In real-life, the FBI would have taken over the town and that funeral would have been swarming with, heck, a near military presence. Even later in the movie, Hit Girl incredulously asks her father "Who's gonna stop the bad guys if not me...you? The townsfolk playing dress-up? WHO?!" Um...how about the joint task force of the local police, FBI and CIA?! She kinda skipped over them as possibilities somehow! In the end, things like that in this movie made little sense.

If you think I've covered the mess entirely, you would be incorrect. Even a 17-year-old Kick Ass is, get this, screwing one of the other superheroes in bathroom stalls quite frequently! And I don't mean somebody teasing them about it...they actually show the bathroom stall shaking back and forth while all the moaning is going on! They might not be showing it, but you know...right behind that bathroom door, he's doing things to her you wouldn't do to a farm animal!

The worst scenes of the movie, other than all the cop-killing, has to be an near-unwatchable couple minutes where they mix in vomiting with fart/diarrhea jokes. This might have been the first ever R-rated movie exclusively for kids.

All-in-all, this movie lacked class. It attempted to appeal to the lowest-common denominator. They even sold it as Jim Carrey having a decent-sized role...he didn't. (Though Carrey was probably the only bright spot I could find in this movie...he was good as usual). If you're a thinking adult, pass on it. If you're a raunchy kid or tween, this will likely be right up your alley.

(Love IMDb!)

JD
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Red Dawn (2012)
1/10
We're gonna need a defibrillator for Josh Peck's career!...
28 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
First off…how in the hell are they ever going to resuscitate Josh Peck's career after THAT?! I seen better acting out of unpaid extra's in Matthew Broderick's "Godzilla"! Peck's performance in Red Dawn made me feel bad...not for him, but his mother! Perhaps the worst performance in modern movie history.

But Josh Peck looks like Gregory Peck compared to the pitiful Connor Cruise. Connor appeared genuinely scared...not of the invading North Koreans, but the camera! If he gets any meaningful work anytime soon, I'll kiss your ass.

I wouldn't say the beginning of the movie was promising by any means, but the middle and end made the start look like "Gone With the Wind" by comparison. It started out with the actual game of high school football, rather than just a mention of the score like in the 1984 version (in both versions, both teams lost BTW). But the implausibility of the actions in the football game made you wish they had simply just mentioned the score too. Peck couldn't stop you from noticing his bad acting even with a helmet and shoulder pads on. And that was the "good" part of the movie! It got Troll-2-like bad after that.

In the rugged, gritty 1984 version, you could feel the hunger of the kids, their fatigue, their anger, their uncleanliness. They ate everything from wild animals to cereal without milk. The women looked war-torn, disheveled. In this dud, the women apparently never ran out of lipstick or shampoo and the kids, get this, robbed a Subway for food! And because obvious product placement like robbing a Subway isn't quite enough, they called the guy behind the counter a "Sandwich Specialist" during the robbery. What was that, an extra $10,000 or so for that line to be throw in there?! Then, they eat like a typical bunch of teenagers at a party, simply throwing out leftovers. Nobody truly hungry would behave in that manner, kids or not. A single piece of rice is like gold to a hungry person. Then, when recounting the things they miss, they all mention something dumb, but one of the kids mentions Call of Duty. Really? Call of Duty, a video game about war, is on your mind when you're in an actual war? Come on. Atrocious writing. The writer just had to drop a video game reference in there, to be cool you know.

One last thing that drew my ire…The scene in the original '84 classic when they shot the deer was heartfelt and memorable. In this version, I won't tell you what happened, but they could have just brought out a DVD of the '84 version and took a crap on it instead, would have worked about the same.

This movie isn't worth the buffalo sh1t on a nickel! Avoid it, trust me.

JD
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Savages (2012)
1/10
This movie is Dogsh!t...
20 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Oliver Stone...you sir, have lost your touch. After making such brilliant films as JFK, Platoon and Natural Born Killers, you have lowered yourself to the likes of Wall Street 2 and this heaping pile of dog manure, Savages.

The star of the movie, Blake Lively, essentially plays a spoiled whore. Hard to root for that type of person. She is paired up with 2 rich entrepreneurs. Now, I know there are different relationships on this planet, but I find it a bit hard to believe that 2 young, attractive, in-shape rich guys would end up sharing a girlfriend like that...it just didn't feel possible. Atrocious writing. Then, in a line that rivals "Oh my Godddd" from Troll 2 and "He's the Lawrence of my labia" from Sex and the City 2, Lively spouts, when speaking of screwing the war veteran, "I have orgasms. He has wargasms." Grrrrr! How f-ing stupid is that f-ing line?!?! It pisses me off to be honest with you. Wargasms? Come on. Just bad writing.

The voice-over from Lively as well...terrible. It truly sounded like an audition tape from one of those online broadcasting colleges. And Emile Hirsch...what was he doing in this movie? His part should have been played by a talented extra. He was completely wasted, a "nothing" role. Hirsch personally must have had a few difficult days driving into work during filming, wondering where his career was heading.

And how in the world, Stone, are you going to start a movie off with the voice-over of Lively saying something to the effect of "just because I'm talking at the start doesn't mean I'm alive at the end"...just for her to end up being friggin alive at the end?! WTF?! But I could excuse all these things...all of them...if the movie wasn't such a BORE! Stone should be having fun with this movie, ala Natural Born Killers, instead he made a cheap, lazy, boring movie with a terrible ending that ended up costing me $5 and two hours of my life. Oliver Stone, you sir, can supple upon my ball sack!

JD
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1/10
I'd rather watch flies screw...
12 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not saying you must have a lower-than-normal IQ to enjoy this movie...but IF you do have a lower-than-normal IQ, you probably enjoy this movie.

The plot...whew...It has more holes in it than a horse-trader's mule! Where do they come up with this stuff?! First, Craig's character escapes 3 people who have rifles pointed at him from a fairly safe distance...then he escapes the townsfolk who have, get this, a $1 Million Dollar bounty on his head (a RIDICULOUS dollar amount for the late 1800's), then he escapes a she-woman-alien who's following him, then he escapes some aliens who chase him, then he escapes what seems to be 500 Indians (the actors were Mexicans in Indian gear), then he escapes some aliens again...then I turned the movie off! Who knows what he else he escapes from?! Craig's escape-ability would make Houdini blush!

I don't like the word "retarded", but come on, what other word can possibly be used?!...I'm not Stephen King ya know! Get this...Craig once jumps from a running horse onto the wing of an flying alien spaceship!!! I can approach this from so many angles, its difficult to choose where to begin! I mean, really, how fast was the damn horse running in the first place not to be completely blown-away by a spaceship that conquered interstellar space travel?!?! Then, and you barely even need to be paying attention to notice, but...Craig is hanging off the wing of this spaceship, the one he just jumped onto from a horse, traveling at a tremendous rate of speed, which he then manages to blow up, and all the while Craig's frigging hat stays on!!! That hat would have had to of been welded onto his head for it to stay on there! Then he lands in a river and the hat is finally off his head...I guess that G4-like wind wasn't enough to knock the hat off, nor was the massive explosion he was just involved in, but hitting the water sure did the trick! Its just stupid. On a side note, the horse-to-spaceship-jump supplants the previously #1-ranked "Idiotic and Unrealistic Jump In A Movie", the bus-jump-without-a-ramp scene from Speed, down to #2!

Also, beers were apparently .50 cents -- in 1883!! I get 50-cent beers during happy hour here in 2012! 50 cents in 1883 would buy you more than a beer…this movie makes no sense. Watch for Craig too, while at the bar, to hammer a few shots, then pours a shot, gets interrupted before he drinks it, then pours himself another shot in the shot glass that should have already been full! My buddy asked "How could they make such an obvious mistake?"…I responded with "You mean that scene or the entire movie?!"

At the time of this writing, I've watched over 1800 movies...and this is one of the worst! It stinks.

JD
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10/10
This is the reason I love movies...
30 June 2011
I was caught off-guard by Juan Jose Campenella's Oscar-winning "The Secret In Their Eyes". What a moving, passionate, high-quality piece of art. Equal parts uplifting and devastation. Film-making just doesn't get any better than this.

My friends, here in the metro Detroit area, constantly poke fun at me for seeking out subtitled foreign movies. But "The Secret In Their Eyes" reminds me of why I do...because movies are my passion. Passion is one of the key themes of the film...watch the movie and you will see why! The film is filled with so many memorable scenes, its difficult to pick out the high-water-mark. But I'd have to go with the tremendously-edited helicopter and crane shot over the soccer stadium and the mayhem that ensues thereafter. It was a reminder to me of how brilliant film-making can really be. Beautiful.

Drama. Passion. Romance. Mystery. Thriller. Elements of comedy. The effects of aging. This movie truly has it all. Seek it out, you will be glad you did!

JD
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1/10
Sex and the Chitty...
10 June 2011
I'm a rare breed...a heterosexual male who enjoyed "Sex and the City" on HBO. This movie, on the other hand...I'll sum it up with the word "stinks".

There are plenty of problems I have with the finished product. First off, the movie is set in Abu Dhabi...a location where most of the audience couldn't find on a map if they were given a flashlight-hat, a magnifying glass and a clue! And, by the way, movie producers, the show/movie is called "Sex AND the City". And that city is NEW YORK, clowns! Half of the identity and allure of the show is that it is set in New York. This sequel being set in Abu Dhabi would be like making a sequel to "Waterworld" and setting it in the Sahara desert! What an absolutely utter, moronic decision to cast it in Abu Dhabi. Who green-lights these types of decisions...and is there any way to have those people rounded up and savagely killed in a public setting?! Secondly, and trust me, I'm completely aware that Hollywood is going to milk this cow completely dry...but the basis of the TV series was the trials and tribulations of 4 middle-aged women trying to find their way in relationships and in life. That type of show inevitably brings a "best by" date along with it though. And that date has clearly passed. The show now resembles 3 rich and snobby above-middle-aged women...and their Grandma. People get old. Plots (excluding cartoons and superheroes) get stale. It's inevitable. No need to trounce around a 53-year-old Kim Cattrall spouting cringe-worthy lines that no 50-plus-year-old women would ever utter! (Example: After meeting a well-to-do Arab man, Cattrall announces "He's the 'Lawrence of my labia'!") Ouch. I had to pause and take a shower after writing that line! There's bad puns and there's bad puns...but that one takes the cake! A common theme from the general public in regards to the show...which is understandably getting louder and louder over the years...is the question of "Are there any humans on Earth that actually behave in this manner?!" You've got one girl, Cattrell, who's such a slut, she puts a drunk and coked-out Lindsay Lohan to shame! With her sexual past, I wouldn't touch her with a hazmat suit on! Kristen Davis manipulates more partners than Glenn Beck does viewers. And Sarah Jessica Parker - her love interest is nicknamed "Big". If that's not a slut for you -- nicknaming your boyfriend based on his member -- I don't know what is! I don't know any guys who would actually date any of these girls. They are high-maintenance, petty, gold-digging, partner-jumping, manipulating whores with apparent mental issues.

And what's up with the running time?! 2-1/2 hours for a show about sex, gossip and relationships?! This isn't "Schindler's List" material you know! Liza Minnelli makes an appearance for comic relief...with the exception that she didn't really bring any comedy. Doing the whole "laugh-at-the-old-lady" routine isn't that bright considering your cast is all 40+ or 50+ aged females. Just horrible.

Trust me, it's awful.

Thank you for reading!

JD
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Machete (2010)
9/10
Lowly dog! Bow your head! Kneel and worship at the wonder that is Machete!
10 September 2010
I must say, one of my most enjoyable times ever watching a movie was when I seen "Machete"! To enhance the experience, to give it a more 80's feel, my girlfriend and I actually found a drive-in theater to see it in...Talk about fun! We had beer, smoke, snacks, and a tub of the most buttery popcorn you've ever tasted! With the hilarious antics on the screen, it was truly a great time. Many kudos Mr. Rodriguez!

Machete had it all -- action, comedy, a grindhouse look and feel, crime, drugs and violence...What else could you ask for?! Oh, how about great actors and actresses such as Robert DeNiro, Steven Seagal and Jessica Alba...and a naked Lindsay Lohan?! Yes, a naked Lindsay Lohan!!! I just love that girl, lol! It simply had the perfect mix for a great summer movie.

Machete also gives nods to past great Robert Rodriguez / Quentin Tarantino films. I noticed references to "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Planet Terror", "Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2" and "Death Proof". Can't wait for the DVD so I can catch them all! Much to my satisfaction, "The Crazy Babysitter Twins" (Electra Avellan and Elise Avellan) from "Planet Terror" also had roles. If you aren't aware of them, they are easily two of the hottest girls on the planet!...And they shoot machine guns while wearing sexy nurse outfits! See, I told you Machete had it all! :) There were some great individual performances as well. To me, Cheech Marin's character was just hilarious. I would love to spill the scene of Cheech and Lindsay Lohan, which had me laughing for about 15 minutes alone! Steven Seagal was also terrific - he had a spectacular one-liner that you shouldn't miss. Robert DeNiro was very funny as well. Jeff Fahey was super cool. And you can't say enough about the 66-year-old Danny Trejo...I'd be happy to look anywhere close to him at 36! Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez helped carry the story, they were tremendous. Great, great acting. I can't say enough of how much fun this movie is, see it!

Thanks for reading everyone!

JD
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Iron Man 2 (2010)
1/10
There's a turd in the punch bowl!!...
10 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Repeat: There's a turd in the punch bowl!

This movie is a microcosm of everything wrong with Hollywood...and, unfortunately, humans in general.

You see, in the most basic terms possible...people are, for the most part, stupid. There are far more of these stupid people on Earth than intelligent ones. So, if you want to sell something to these people, like a movie, you need to dial-down the intelligence level of the product. (In this way, Iron Man 2 succeeds!) For instance, let's say you want to sell a product to a group of Sarah-Palin-backing Tea Baggers. You already know, without ever meeting any of them, that this a group of people who supports a brainless political creation, one who doesn't even belong to the Tea Bagger party! (High intelligence there, eh?!) So if you were to invent a t-shirt with a saying on it, with the intention of selling it to a Tea Bagger...would you create an articulate, detailed argument on the t-shirt...or would you create something that appeals to the lowest common denominator? Would your t-shirt say something smart and factual like "90% of Tea Baggers got a tax cut under Obama!". Or would you just put Obama on the shirt with a Hitler mustache?! Which one is going to sell better? Same thing here with "Iron Man 2". A producer COULD spend $200 Million on something highly intelligent and with some redeeming value -- and sell less tickets -- or that same producer could spend the $200 Million on a bunch of special effects, A-list stars and explosions -- and sell more tickets. So, intelligent people (I'm assuming if you have read this much, you're probably more intelligent than most), we get stuck with these sorry excuses for movies all the time! And I, for one, am sick of it!

Where does Iron Man 2 go wrong? Where to begin?! First off, Mickey Rourke looks like a feminine version of "Professor Chaos"! Where did they come up with that suit design, the Johnny Weir collection?! And Gwyneth Paltrow? How does she keep getting work?! She's the "Mark Harmon" of actresses! In one scene, she seductively kisses the Iron Man mask -- with no human in it! (Imagine her horror when she read the script for the first time and came across that scene!) I almost felt bad for her...then I reminded myself that she is Gwyneth Paltrow! Next in line for this money-grab excuse of a movie is the usually brilliant Robert Downey Jr. If his performance were any more wooden, his nose would grow when he lied!!

In my opinion, there has only been one Comic Book movie worthy of a "10" rating and that was "Batman Begins". Iron Man 2 falls woefully short of that standard. A big step back from Iron Man 1 even. Don't let the fancy CGI and big explosions fool you...this is a clunker!

Thank you for reading!

JD
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The Crazies (2010)
3/10
A not-so-well-plotted piece of claptrap that made me want to retch!
2 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Simply put, "The Crazies" stunk.

I was satisfied after a strong opening 20 minutes, but then it sunk like the Titanic (the boat, not the movie, lol)! It slowly transformed from thoughtful and intriguing (like an old "Twilight Zone" episode) to resorting to cheap scares (loud BOOM out of nowhere that would awaken someone out of a coma) and "saved at the last second" scenes. One "saved at the last second" scene could have been predicted by a blind Stevie Wonder! Sheriff and Deputy arrive at a house. Sheriff goes one way, the Deputy another. Sheriff gets "cheap-scared" after searching an empty room, a loud boom noise from the movie's Score, then turns around to a pair of sneaky (and previously QUIET) zombies! After a struggle, a few bullets shot, and the nozzle of a gun pointed right at the Sheriff...quick shot of the gun, quick shot of the scared Sheriff, quick shot of the gun, another shot of the Sheriff who's resigned to death...then guess what? BOOM! The trusty Deputy is there to save the day, pulling the trigger at the very last moment! Wow, I couldn't have seen that one coming! (And to top it off, he somehow had the angle -- and the viewpoint to see what the heck was going on upstairs -- to shoot the zombie in the heart from the front lawn!) Lots of corny lines (when pointing a gun at the Sheriff, the Deputy says "ONE...TWO...THREE...that's how many times I saved your life!") and unbelievable situations continue.

Small points also make little sense. One of the zombies, at the beginning stages of becoming a zombie, actually gets taken to the doctor. After reacting extremely strangely to the doctor, so strange that the doctor should consider hospitalization or getting mental experts involved, she basically says to the family "Have him take two of these and call me in the morning"! Guy goes home and proceeds to kill his family. Doctor, after a complete swing and a miss on the diagnosis, takes no responsibility for the deaths whatsoever. Movie moves on. Blah.

The movie isn't entirely without merit though. I thought it was actually well-made from a technical standpoint. The actors, though inexperienced, showed a passion for acting. After the 2005 debacle that was "Sahara", one of the least memorable movies in modern history, Director Brent Eisner finally got a job 5 years later...and I he did well in his return. He should do fine being at the helm for "Flash Gordon" in 2012.

The Crazies...great start then descends into mediocrity at best. See it at your own peril!

JD (LittleShopOfPosters.com >> Coming soon!)
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7/10
A Mixed Bag...
18 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The post-apocalyptic genre...my favorite genre by far! I believe the reason why it appeals so much to me (and others like me) is that it creates a non-industrialized world where every day brings a challenge in a struggle to survive. In the current world of bills, taxes, 40-hour work-weeks...and climbing that damn rope in gym class as a kid...it's appealing, almost relaxing in a sense, to get thrust into a world where simple survival is key...and losing your social security card wouldn't bother you in the least. Most people feel the world would be "too hard" without electricity, running water, health & public services and whatnot. But for someone where this genre appeals, like myself, the "hard" is exactly what is most appealing. To me, and others like me, scavenging, hunting, gathering and relying on survival skills trumps a life of perpetually going to school and work and eating Wendy's every stinking day! So when "The Book of Eli" was released in all of it's post-apocalyptic glory, you know I was there opening weekend! I knew going in that it was going to be about the Bible -- being a very non-religious person, that was highly unappealing -- but a post-apocalyptic movie is not to be missed, so I went.

There was a lot to like about the movie. For the most part, it had the feel of a futuristic, barren landscape. It definitely serves its purpose for those who love post-apocalyptic themes. And some really creative touches were added...a "A Boy and His Dog" poster in the background, a dilapidated (but working) Ipod, and an old couple resorting to listening to a hand-crank record player. And there was a standout performance was from the fantastic Gary Oldman, playing Carnegie.

On the flip side, I thought the dress could have been a bit more creative. Everybody - and I mean everybody - wore dark colored trench-coat style clothing. You would think somebody would scavenge a house and find, then wear, an old white Adidas sweatshirt every now and again! But, no, everybody was dressed as if they shopped at the same Army fatigues store. And it was difficult to tell at times if it was hot or cold. It appeared as if everybody was wearing heavy multi-layered clothing, there was a snow scene at the beginning, and fires to keep people warm were burning at many times. Yet, there was no vapor coming from anybody's breath, the wide shots of the highway seemed as if it was the middle of summer, and Mila Kunis had no problem wearing a thin one-piece sexy outfit (bare feet and all) in Eli's unheated hotel room.

The biggest downer in the movie was the inconsistencies with Eli's character (aptly played by Denzel Washington). At one point, it appeared as if Eli was either Jesus or protected by God. He was fired at by one of Carnegie's henchmen at close range and the bullets seemed to turn to dust when it hit him. Then later, he gets successfully shot in the stomach...HUH?! (Eli then proceeds to patch himself up with some duct tape!) There are some points where Eli is clearly using his eyes...then you find out he's blind in the end! Smaller bad points include: A scene where it shows a malnourished cat...yet a nearby rat appeared plump and healthy. Water was "the good stuff" in Carnegie's city (supposedly because water was so impossible to come by)...yet Carnegie owned a spring that sprouted fresh drinking water. You would think a working spring would help alleviate the water problem a bit! At least to the point where whiskey would still be considered "the good stuff". Some of it was just a bit absurd if you think deeply about it.

One last thing I would like to touch on was Mila Kunis. I just couldn't buy her as Solara. The IMDb trivia states Kristen Stewart was originally offered Mila's role...they should have done whatever it took to land Stewart. She has the face and body of somebody "worn" and would have fit in nicely in a post-apocalyptic world. Mila Kunis, on the other hand, looked like a beautiful Hollywood star that just walked out of the costume designer's room and onto the set. I don't think you can just "dirty-up" somebody that stunningly beautiful...and it didn't work here.

But if you look past the inconsistencies in the story and with its characters, "A Book of Eli" is some good eye candy. Turn off your brain for a while and sink yourself into a world of no W-2 forms, no lobbyists and no Sarah Palin! Just imagine! :) If you want a "Book of Eli" type movie without all the bible-thumping and inconsistencies, I strongly recommend "The Road" starring Viggo Mortensen. That is my personal favorite post-apocalyptic movie. Thank you for reading! JD
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The Road (I) (2009)
9/10
Tremendous...
27 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I strolled into "The Road" on opening day in Detroit, Thanksgiving Day 2009. I had been waiting a full year to see the screen adaptation of my favorite book of all-time...The Road by Cormac McCarthy. And let me say...it did not disappoint one bit. "The Road" instantly turned into one of my all-time favorite movies as well.

One thing that post-apocalyptic movies tend to miss or leave untouched is the toll on the human mind and body. And that toll is on full display here. You feel the terrible hunger and pain, you feel the grime on everyone's skin and clothes, the depression, the never-ending cloudiness...and especially, you feel the loneliness. The memories of a time that once was and never will be again. Long days and endless nights of a bleakness that cannot be described. It is beyond frightening and heartbreaking to see the difficulty of trying to raise a child in this environment, much less keep yourself sane. And you are there every difficult step of the way. This is not a story about cool CGI and a post-apocalyptic Earth...it's a story about human behavior and human emotions.

The little things are not missed either...the production team sure did their homework. How would a 8-year-old boy who has never even seen a soda can before approach drinking from it? (Hesitantly was the answer here). How would attempt to filter and drink brown water filled with ash? Nothing grows or swims anymore...so would you resort to eating people? What would you do to a baby in this world...try to somehow raise it, or put it out of it's misery, along with filling your empty stomach, by killing and eating it? What would you do about your family? Risk them getting raped and eaten by savages...or suicide? Rivers flowed what looked like rusty anti-freeze. Rain had an ash tint to it. Trees were dead or dying, a few falling over here and there as the pair walked. It had the feel of what was intended...a complete environmental disaster without a shred of hope for the future.

Onto the cast. Viggo Mortensen is at the top of his game here. You can feel the emotion in his eyes and voice...he gives a truly memorable performance. And how about a big thumbs-up for young Kodi Smit-McPhee?! He was sensational as well. The Boy's first ever can of Coca-Cola (a product as essential to my life nearly as much as electricity) brought tears to my eyes in both the book and the movie. "It's bubbly!" The Boy exclaimed while his father gushed...great moment. And I'd be mistaken not to mention the work of Charlize Theron. Though her screen-time was very limited, she nailed her character in a tremendous performance. Great work by one of the very best actresses Hollywood has ever seen.

It's difficult for a movie to be both utterly bleak and good entertainment at the same time. Schindler's List is one of the few successes that come to mind. But "The Road" will also scrawl it's name on that short list...it's that special.

Along with "Inglourious Basterds", "The Road" is one of the best movies of 2009. For the intellectual mind, I cannot recommend a movie more. 10 out of 10.

Thank you for reading!

JD
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The Box (I) (2009)
3/10
Should have been named "The Neverending Story"!...
11 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Before you dismiss my post as "not getting it", let me say...I'm one of the biggest Richard Kelly and "The Twilight Zone" fans out there. Donnie Darko is one my all-time favorites and I even thought Southland Tales had it's moments. I'm a HUGE sci-fi fan. I was very excited to see "The Box", couldn't wait for it to come out.

Having said that..."The Box" is terrible. Behind "Drag Me To Hell", this was the worst movie I've seen in 2009. And it just simply WILL NOT end! Whenever you think you've reached the end, another change in the plot and you're off to more torture. I was actually groaning in the theater by the end of the film...I could hardly take it anymore.

The biggest problem with "The Box", no matter how you slice it or try to justify it, is that it simply makes little sense. Trust me, I "got it", I understood what was going on. But that doesn't mean it makes a lot of sense looking back on it. Take the basics for example. The main couple...Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, playing Norma and Arthur Lewis. Diaz loses her finances at her job, then bemoans that they are "living paycheck to paycheck". Well, sell that f-ing Porsche your husband is driving then!!! They live in a beautiful 2-story house in a nice subdivision. Marsden is working what seems to be a high-paid job at NASA and Diaz is an accomplished teacher. And, yes, Marsden drives an overly expensive car. But they are somehow living paycheck to paycheck?!? No need to press the button, just cut down your high-priced lifestyle a bit! The movie would have worked better if they showed the couple jobless and in serious debt. Instead, they are seemingly desperate for money...all the while living what I would call a luxurious lifestyle. Like I said...you can understand what's going on, yet it still makes little sense! That's a rare combination.

There was an awful scene in a library that I feel will go down as one of the worst segments in movie history (terribly acted too by the way). It was idiotic, illogical and out of place. I can't even begin to fully describe it actually, so I will move onto a subplot that involves nose-bleeds and body possession by aliens. (Yes, I'm being serious unfortunately). A kid is in Diaz's class with a wicked and smile on his face (a sinister smile that seemingly goes by completely unnoticed by everyone in authority at the school). He starts asking Diaz personal questions, literally embarrassing her in front of her class. No punishment is given to the kid whatsoever...he didn't even get asked to stay after class for a talk! Then Diaz is at a party...and the same kid is one of the hired help...ironed shirt, apron and all! I don't know many alien-possessed kids (who appear to be in Junior High) that also moonlight as a bus-boy at parties sponsored by teachers and school officials...but we found one here! (See what I mean...you can understand it completely, but it still makes no sense...a rare combo!) Like many things in the movie, the kid comes and goes...no real explanation about him, no ending to his character. Moving on... A lady then approaches Diaz in a grocery store, telling her that experiments are being ran secretly and her family is one of the test subjects. Well...hmmm...if aliens possess the powers where they can take over a body remotely...and the aliens don't want to help Diaz...then who was taking over this lady's body and giving Diaz advice?! Again...The lady was trying to help Diaz...and the aliens weren't interested in helping Diaz...so who the hell was controlling her body?! Never explained. Never talked about again. No nothing!! It goes on and on and on like this for, what seemed to me like, 2 weeks. It would not end! I wonder if this movie underwent a massive re-shoot at some point. It was poorly edited. Diaz's accent was there one minute, gone the next. Sub-plots began but never ended. The numerous push-backs of the release date obviously shows the problems the producers had with the finished product. It's truly a train-wreck.

Pass on this one...there's no redeeming value in it whatsoever. 3 out of 10, just because I like Diaz and sci-fi! But it probably deserves a 1 out of 10.

Thanks for reading!

JD
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Casino (1995)
10/10
Exquisite...
19 October 2009
I am a huge movie fan. As of this writing, I am 35 years old and have voted on nearly 1500 movies on IMDb. I've been a movie fan as far back as I can remember. And the best movie I've ever seen? You guessed it...Casino.

If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be "exquisite". From the images of slow rolling dice to the scintillating voice-overs of movie-legends Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, each second of "Casino" shines brilliantly. It is a glorious film.

"Casino" doesn't get the credit it deserves, unfortunately. It somehow takes a back-seat to gangster films such as "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas", two highly inferior films. In nearly every regard, from camera-work to writing to acting, "Casino" trumps all other gangster films. If you haven't seen it yet, I envy you (as I would LOVE to see it again for the first time). Repeated viewings get better and better, but I was star-struck while watching "Casino" originally...and I'm sure you will feel the same. "Casino" is an amazing achievement. Many kudos Mr. Scorsese.

It would be a mistake not to mention the tremendous cast...and they all bring their best work to the table. Sharon Stone, in particular, was tremendously impressive. Put it this way: When I originally seen "Casino" for the first time, Stone was one of my least-favorite actresses. After the movie, she was my favorite. She didn't just play "Ginger", she owned her! If I was asked my opinion on the "Best Supporting Actress of all-time", my vote would be Stone in "Casino". One of the best performances of all-time. Not to be overlooked is some of the all-time film greats in Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and James Woods. I am having difficult coming up with adjectives worthy enough to describe their performances. It's just an outstanding movie, played by outstanding actors, with outstanding direction.

"Casino" is like a theme park for movie-going adults. It has it all...Violence (including one absolutely BRUTAL scene to watch), gangsters, drugs, sex and plenty of profanity. But it's also about loyalty, friendships and relationships...in a gangster sort of way. Ever wondered what daily life would be for a mob-dealing gangster? Or a hit-man? Or a married whore? Or a pimp and golf hustler? "Casino" covers it all! Just sit back with your favorite drink or cigar...and ENJOY!!! :)

Thanks for reading...now go see Casino!

JD
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Zombieland (2009)
6/10
I wanted to like this movie more than I did...
14 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I just might be one of the biggest "end of population" movie fans on Earth. Any movie dealing with an apocalypse...comedy, horror, thriller, etc...automatically starts out with "6" on my IMDb voting list. You can only go up from there. I love the genre so much, I even gave "The Postman" a "9"! To get stuck at a "6" means it was just too flawed. The movie which Zombieland is most compared to, Shaun of the Dead, I gave a "9" vote.

First of all, I understand you need to suspend reality before you even step in the theater when you watch a zombie movie. But the stupidity of some of the actions was beyond retarded. I'll explain more later.

Zombieland has it's moments. It looked great on the big-screen...you could tell a lot of time went into the appearance. The deaths were done very well (especially a scene where a lady is thrown from her car and her face bounces and drags along the pavement, leaving a stream of blood). Woody Harrelson was great as usual, but the big kudos goes to supporting actress Emma Stone, who was excellent. This changes all the time, but after seeing 'Zombieland', I now want to "plow" Emma Stone more than any other girl on the planet! She's hotter than a Mexican chili pepper in the middle of July! If I had the option of marrying her before I ever met her, my answer would be a resounding "Yes!"...and I'm not the marrying type to say the least! :)

But, the bad clearly out-weighs the good. The lead actor, Jessie Eisenberg, was annoying at best and downright terrible at worst. He's no Marlon Brando, that's for sure. I can't recall one thing he said or did that I laughed at. For a comedy, to get zero laughs out of the main actor is a joke in itself. Then there was a completely shameless sub-plot revolving around Woody Harrelson's love for a Hostess product, Twinkies. (They might as well have just stopped the movie halfway through and went to a Hostess commercial). At one point, Woody and Jessie find a Hostess truck crashed into a ravine. Upon opening it, one would think there would be BOXES of Sno-balls or Twinkies there...but what's there? Individually wrapped Sno-balls fall out of the truck like it was packed to the roof with them! Um, I think even a 13-year-old kid knows food items aren't shipped individually like that. Product placement needs to be done a bit more subtle to be effective, otherwise it just blatantly looks like a money-grab, which it was. Uggghhh.

Perhaps the biggest laugh and the biggest disappointment came during the same segment. Bill Murray's cameo. I won't re-hash the laugh, but the scene began with something beyond implausible. Murray, as a joke I guess, decides to -- not once, but twice -- "surprise" the pairs of armed guests by pretending to be a zombie. Perhaps the #1 thing I wouldn't do during a zombie attack is surprise somebody who's carrying a machine gun! And even after he surprised the first pair of people and barely escaped with his life, all 3 of them had no problem with Murray pulling the same joke on the second pair of armed people. Not surprisingly, Murray gets shot. Even Stevie Wonder could tell that was coming. Perhaps the 2nd biggest thing I wouldn't do, knowing the zombies were attracted to lights and sounds, is turn on the power at an amusement park right at dusk! How unbelievably corny. Also, in some scenes, the zombies are "28 Days Later" style FAST and ferocious. In other scenes, you could be crippled and still get away with relative ease. Plus, how was electricity even available after 2 months of no people running the power plant?! There are many things like that which you just shake your head at. Gas is never mentioned. All cars have the keys in them already. Seat-belts somehow stop you from getting even a headache after a high-speed head-on collision, much less a scratch. Twinkies are somehow EXTREMELY hard to find. Grocery stores look pristine, like they are ready to go, all powered-up and everything. People con you out of your car and guns, twice, even though cars and guns are easy to come by. Be prepared to roll your eyes a couple dozen times.

Finally, I simply can't recommend this movie. I love the genre, but this one was just too goofy. The love scenes were fake and implausible. I would have to think Emma Stone would be more attracted to Harrelson over the complete and utter dork they made Einsberg out to be. And Harrelson attempting to cry and bring some drama to the movie was awful and out of place. It's a comedy about zombies, people -- not all movies need the love interest and drama! Big mistake to try to cram those two things in.

I wanted to like the movie, I love the genre...but I just can't recommend it.

Thanks for reading!

JD
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South Park (1997– )
10/10
By far, the funniest show on TV...Ever.
6 October 2009
Let's just go ahead and say it...South Park is the greatest comedy show in television history! Most people don't know what to make of this show. Most see a cartoon, hear kids speaking bad language...then get completely confused because most episodes actually include a coherent plot and a moral message. Because of this, the show has morphed into one of those shows where people absolutely love it -- or terribly hate it. Count me in as one of the ones who absolutely love it...this is my favorite comedy TV show. And my favorite 1/2 hour TV show. And my favorite Animated TV show! What gives "South Park" big points from me is actually how unique it is. Some would scoff at that comment, but seriously...name me one other show where Elementary school kids talk like they really do (dirty!). One where people shove food up their anuses and excrete it orally (haaa!). The day I see another TV show talk about the size of one's crap (and arguing whether or not it is a record) is the day I'll consider South Park typical! :) The seasons get better and better as they go...so if you haven't seen an episode yet, I suggest the newer ones. The first couple seasons seem terribly dated when watching them today. But the newer ones are fresh and very original.

Along with "Real Time With Bill Maher", "South Park" is the best show on TV! JD
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10/10
"I think this just might be my masterpiece"...
27 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Quentin Tarantino. What else can possibly be said about the most admired, fearless, and successful Director in Cinema over the past 20 years? During that time, the self-proclaimed "film nerd" has turned the movie world upside down.

The film's final scene sums up Tarantino's brilliance...not just with Inglourious Basterds, but with his entire career. In that final scene, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize Tarantino is speaking through Brad Pitt to the audience. It has Brad Pitt and BJ Novak looking downwards at the camera, Tarantino's signature camera angle, with Pitt saying "...I think this just might be my masterpiece", then the screen going to black with the words "Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino". Wow. What a great ending to a tremendous movie.

And Tarantino just might be right. Inglourious Basterds is a glorious, nerve-racking hit. QT's best ever though? In the words of John Travolta from Pulp Fiction..."That's a bold statement!". Pulp Fiction just might be the best film to ever hit the Silver Screen. Personally, I would consider Pulp Fiction as Tarantino's masterpiece, never to be topped. And Kill Bill, both volumes, have to easily be consider two of the most "fun" movies to watch in the history of film. Add the brilliance of both Reservoir Dogs and Death Proof and you have a resume that is difficult to top. But Tarantino nearly outdoes himself with IB. This is truly a monumental film. It combines all of these aspects into one movie: WW2, the early 40's, two separate plot-lines, American, French & German actors and languages (along with some Americans hilariously trying to speak Italian), and one huge Hollywood star. Imagine the scope of this project...I firmly believe only Tarantino could have thought of something so brilliant, written it, and made it. The performances he brought out from the female leads in particular, Diane Kruger and the stunningly beautiful Melanie Laurent, were beyond reproach. And how about a big, big thumbs up for Christoph Waltz's performance as Colonel Hans Landa. Once again, Tarantino shows off to the world his ability to cast the PERFECT actor for a character. His knowledge of actors, some whom most of us had never even heard of, is second to none. It is hard to overstate the brilliance of Tarantino and his movies.

As with most Tarantino movies, it takes a 2nd viewing to soak it all in. I strongly suggest taking the time to see it twice within a week. 10 out of 10.

JD
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1/10
The only thing shocking about this movie is IMDb's rating!...
10 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
On the way to the theater, I tell my buddy "This has an 8.0 on IMDb, it MUST be good!" Ummm...No. I've seen better movies on a 3-D View-Master!

OK, so the movie begins with the main character, aptly played by the wet-dream-inducing Alison Lohman, getting a cursed placed on her by an old lady who's about to get evicted from her home unless the bank helps her out. Every cliché in the book is thrown at you to get you on the side of Alison, a bank employee who decided to help throw the old lady on the street for the benefit of the bank. (The film-makers resort in their attempt to show remorse towards Alison...to showing the old lady having terrible hygiene, her contempt towards Alison, disgusting habits, and emptying the bank candies into her purse). The old lady, by the way, apparently has "powers" the rest of us don't, like the ability to place a deadly curse on others, having super-human strength and tremendous dexterity while fighting, and having the knowledge that Alison could potentially have helped her personally (although she wasn't near the conversation Alison had with the bank manager).

The curse described by the old lady then begins happening to Alison. She goes to a palm-reader (a guy who has a knack for not mentioning extremely important things until it's nearly too late) and he tells her that she is cursed.

I cannot overstate the stupidity of this palm-reading character (played by Dileep Rao). If there ever was a "Professor for the Occult" at your local University, this character would be it! He informs Alison that she would be tormented by a demon for 3 days...then the demon would come for her and drag her to hell. Alison asks Dileep if there is anything that can be done. He says "Well, you can attempt an animal sacrifice that might appease the demon". (I thought the word "might" wasn't very reassuring for a person in the midst of a fight from hell!) Anyway, Alison doesn't pick up a stray cat or one destined for the back room of her local animal shelter...no, she uses her own precious kitty for the slaughter! After murdering her kitten, she thinks everything is now fine, as a day or so goes by without incident. As the 3-day-clock is ticking down, she gets terrorized by the demon again, goes back to Dileep and proceeds to verbally beat him like a rented mule. Dileep then (AND FINALLY I MIGHT ADD) says "Well...I know this special lady who does exorcists and can drive the demon out...but it's costly, $10,000, and you need the money tonight." ** Note, I yelled out in the theater: "Could you mail that suggestion back to 2 days ago when I originally asked about what can be done?!" -- the crowd began laughing hysterically! ** Anyway, her boyfriend (played by Justin Long's mangina) gets wind that she needs the 10K and gives it to Dileep on her behalf.

I'd like to quickly add this eye-rolling sequence. Alison decides to show up at the old lady daughter's creepy mansion of a house to ask for forgiveness and to tell the old hag that she would help her get the house back. The daughter answers the door and tells her to leave...then oddly lets her in after a rude verbal tongue-thrashing. Alison walks into the house...it's very quiet...she is led through some rooms, down some stairs...then asks "Where is she?"...and her host says "Right around the corner"....she turns the corner, and get this, A PARTY IS ENSUING! People drinking, eating, talking...a scene inconsistent with a house that looked as if it hadn't had a visitor in years...and with not many cars parked out in front as Alison walked up...and knowing you hadn't heard a sound the entire time Alison was walking through the house! The scene ends with you finding out that this is actually a gathering for the old lady's funeral. How do you find this out? Alison, not paying attention to where she's walking in an odd house full of strangers, trips over the old lady's casket, making her fall out of the casket and on top of Alison, where the old lady pukes embalming gel all over her face. Wow. You can't make this stuff up.

Back to story. Dileep then takes Alison to his psychic friends house. This lady was the most cliché of all the chock-full-of-cliché people in the movie. She was fully equipped with mood-rings, the ugliest new-age jewelry possible, candles galore and items from the occult (one item on her séance table, I noticed, was a dated and dusty jar that was completely empty...oohhhh, scary!). I won't spoil things here, other to say that the exorcism doesn't go well and there's a talking goat. (Yes). After things go badly, and Alison feels she is destined for Hell, Dileep offers up one more piece of advice that would have been best said 2 days ago. (This guy is the king of yesterday's news!) Dileep, amazingly enough, tells her that she can simply give the curse away as a gift...but the recipient would go through the same hell she is and would be dragged to hell themselves in 3 days! Much to my surprise...NOT!...She can't possibly think of ANYONE who she can gift this curse to! She sees an old creaky man...yes!...Oh, his wife shows up, nevermind. She calls her rival at work...she could kill 2 birds with 1 stone by gifting him the curse...Nah, he's too sad now, nevermind! So she decides to, again, get this, go to the graveyard and dig up the body of the old lady so she can shove the gift down her throat! Wow. I told my buddy "She should give it to George W Bush!" But, seriously, she couldn't have visited a prison and gave it to a rapist or murderer? That would have required logic I guess...something this movie lacks badly.

JD
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Zodiac (2007)
9/10
An intricate mystery from the mind of David Fincher!...
30 April 2009
Let's just go ahead and say it...Zodiac (2007) is the most intricate movie ever to appear on the silver screen! It certainly isn't the most thrilling or exciting movie ever made, but it has to be considered one of the most elaborate and detailed films ever to be created.

In terms of re-watch-ability, on a scale of one to ten, Zodiac gets about a two-hundred-fifty! I've watched this movie in full about eight times and I watched portions of it at least another dozen times (the movie is replayed on TMC ad-nausea...and for some reason, I always flip it on...it's addicting!). And can you believe this...even for scenes that I've watched at least 20 times, I STILL sometimes pick up something I missed or didn't consider previously. You could seriously study this movie and come up with a different view-point every time (not about the killer, but rather the characters portrayed in the film).

I gave this movie a 10 out of 10, although I admit it will turn off quite a few people. It is slow (purposely, as the Zodiac is a very detailed case). For the first viewing, you really need to be "into it". If your attitude is "I'm just going to turn my mind off and watch a Mystery for 2 hours", this probably wouldn't be the movie to throw in the DVD player. But if you're truly in the mood to get immersed in a detailed movie, this would at the top of my list of recommendations.

Just to give an off-the-wall example of how detailed it is, I'll tell you the story of what I noticed last night for the first time (again, on about my 20th viewing). The main character, Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith, eats or munches on something (usually carrots, as they try to portray him a nerd) on a few separate occasions early in the movie when he is first hearing about Zodiac (btw, the eating has nothing to do with anything in the plot). As he becomes more obsessed in the Zodiac story, you don't see him eat anymore. Then very late in the movie, when Robert's life is completely and utterly immersed in Zodiac and Zodiac only, his now-separated wife quickly mentions "When's the last time you ate?", and you as a viewer never think of anything of it (as they continue the conversation). As a viewer, I challenge anybody to notice something like that, something that intricate, on the first viewing. Now take that above story and multiply it by about 1000 for all the different intricacies, and you will finally begin to sense the scope and detail of this movie. I am beginning to think the entire movie, every single scene, is filled with minor details like that...as it never runs out of those types of things upon re-watches.

Although this is a MUCH different movie that the spectacular "Fight Club", Zodiac will be considered as one of David Fincher's best works ever. Great job Mr. Fincher, my many compliments!

JD
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8/10
Bigger than Batman Begins...but not quite as good.
21 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It was summer, mid-June, 2005. After seeing the previous and futile attempts at a good Batman movie fail miserably throughout the 90's, I was dragged to the theater by my brother to see Batman Begins. After LOVING Batman as a child, the previous installments of Batman movies made me disinterested in the franchise altogether. I had given up. Then...Wow! Batman Begins was an eye-opening masterpiece. It explained, for the first time, WHY somebody would want to dress up as a bat and fight crime. By the time Batman Begins came out, I had no clue WHY the Batman character would even exist. The development of Batman was about as good of "character development" as possible in a movie. It laid the ground-work for the masterpiece that became "Batman Begins", a movie I have now watched at least a dozen times.

Fast-forward to 2008. Needless to say, I was more excited for "The Dark Knight" to come out than any movie in my 33 years on Earth! I simply couldn't wait. I watched the two main trailers probably a hundred times each. And being a Heath Ledger fan (he was tremendous in "Brokeback") - my enthusiasm and eagerness was at an all-time high. I purchased my tickets two weeks in advance for the 12:05 AM showing on Thursday night/Friday morning. And then...

...though I liked the movie, it did not have the much-needed character development that existed in Batman Begins, therefor it was not quite as good in my opinion. I walked in expecting to see WHY the Joker became the Joker, just as WHY Batman became Batman in the previous installment. Think back to why Batman became Batman (in Batman Begins). Bruce Wayne explained to Alfred "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne, as a man I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored I can be destroyed, but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting." He was also afraid of bats as a child (there was a reason and background story for that too) and this was a way he could create a symbol and overcome his childhood fears, both at the same time. It showed, not only HOW he created the bat-suit, but the WHY! There was a reason for every piece of the costume, even the cape. It showed why he had a Batcave, why he needed to keep his identity a secret, why Commissioner Gordon began to trust him, and why he and Rachel had such a long-lasting love.

Now the Joker - how did they develop that character? In short, they really didn't. They quickly mentioned at the start why he wore face paint (one of the crooks claimed it was to scare people, like war paint). That was it, no background story at all. Why did he come to Gotham? Another quick answer, no background. Why did he have the hate in his heart to do all these horrible things? No background there either. The Two-Face character should have been scrapped (waited for a part 3 perhaps) and more background to the WHY's of Joker's personality should have been written in. (And since the only truly memorable scenes had The Joker in them, they should have made more scenes with him!) The Joker's childhood, like that of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, would have been enthralling. Instead, we get a couple of contradicting verbal sentences from the Joker on why his face was the way it was...and nothing more. To have shown a young Joker, perhaps getting abused by his father, perhaps wrongfully arrested and harassed by police throughout his teen years, then perhaps an accident which caused scarring and burning to his face...that would have been the way to go. Instead, in The Dark Knight, the Joker simply is the Joker because he is.

I also need to mention a quick scene that was beyond ignorant. When the Joker is captured and put in jail, he virtually evacuates the police station by telling the Batman the addresses of where Two-Face and Rachel were located. The Joker is in a locked interrogation cell with one-sided glass. Would have been quite easy to just leave him in there! Could have just watched him through the glass or not watched him at all! Instead, they put an unarmed guard, a guy who has had 6 of his friends murdered by the Joker, in the cell with him! WTF?! The Joker quickly and easily antagonizes him into a fight and wins, creating his escape from jail and prolonging the movie at the same time...big surprise there.

Still, on it's own, The Dark Knight is a good piece of action and adventure. And the Joker was played wonderfully by Heath Ledger. The feel of an epic crime drama was done well. But, simply put, this movie would have been better if Two-Face had been introduced at the end of the "TDK", like The Joker was introduced at the end of "Begins". And that would have opened up more screen time for The Joker's early background. Then it would have been perfect. Instead...

A good movie -- but, oh boy, what could have been...

8/10 - thanks for reading!

JD
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4/10
Was the ghost a new version of "The Riddler"?!
21 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm getting really tired of movies that portray a Ghost as a modern-day "The Riddler" from the Batman TV series! Like The Riddler, the Ghost in "What Lies Beneath" has all the answers that you're looking for -- but you're only going to get pieces to the puzzle one incoherent piece at a time.

Let's all get on the same page here for a minute. We know, having watched the movie in full, that the ghost has these powers/abilities: 1) Can TYPE ON A COMPUTER KEYBOARD (or, at the very least, get words to appear on a computer screen)!! 2) Can write easy-to-read English on a fogged-up mirror, as if you were using your finger. 3) Can appear to numerous people (as the ghost appeared, in one way or another, to both the main stars in the movie). 4) Can open closed doors. 5) I'm not entirely sure about this one, but it seemed as if the ghost "took over" Claire's body and/or mind at one point (and mysteriously began acting sexually towards her murderer of all people, Mr. Ford).

Why would a ghost, with the abilities outlined above, give you vague clues in pieces and not simply tell you what the hell is going on?! As a Ghost, if you can get words to appear on a computer screen, WHY IN THE HELL wouldn't you just write "Your husband is a murderer, you can find my body at the end of your dock, my name is...". Why would you simply type your initials hundreds of times over and over?! Again, are we dealing with The Riddler here?! If that wouldn't work, how about just writing to Claire on the mirror after every shower each day?? If you were a Ghost, and all you COULD DO is leave messy clues to somebody you hope will help solve your murder, would you, upon getting screamed at from the top of your helper's lungs "What do you want?!?!" -- really write back a simple "You Know!"???? Obviously she didn't know yet, she was still gathering clues and thought she was going insane!! Wouldn't you have used that moment to write something just a bit more profound?! Like, maybe, "I need your help!". Wow.

And at one point the Ghost "took over" Claire's body and/or mind -- don't even get me started on how she could have easily killed her murderer -- so shouldn't she have tried killing Harrison Ford's character, her murderer, instead of just getting him horny?! I could go on and on, but at this point, I'm fatigued over this plot-hole-filled tripe. I just want to emphasize -- I hate when Ghosts are portrayed as The Riddler's character in the Batman series - as simple clue-givers.

:)

JD
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Alien Nation (1988)
9/10
Ahead Of It's Time...
27 June 2006
Many people have the wrong impression of this movie. Most group it in within the "cop/buddy" genre and cheesy sci-fi. But "Alien Nation" is much more than that. In fact, it was way ahead of it's time.

I saw this movie in a dimly-lit, run-down Detroit-area theater at the age 14, an afternoon in the fall of 1988. I recall how the "atmosphere" of the movie matched that of the run-down theater I was sitting in. At 14, and with the title of "Alien Nation", a young kid like myself wanted to see weird alien creatures and lots of action. At the time, I was disappointed. This movie is about story, not action or weird aliens. Although I didn't really understand nor enjoy the movie at the time, it always stuck with me for some reason. So, nearly 18 years after seeing it on the silver screen, I re-watched it at home and was amazed by the depth of the story and the grittiness of the background. It was little wonder why I didn't like it at 14, but loved it at 32.

This story is really about race and immigration, with the hated race being alien immigrants. It shows how hatred and ignorance over race can transform one's personality, like the lead character played by James Caan.

Alien Nation asks questions about ourselves as humans. How would we react if aliens landed on Earth and announced they were escaping a brutal planet full of slavery and have immigrated to Earth? Would we accept them as our own, or would we force them to become outcasts? Would we allow an "Affirmative Action" scenario in regards to Aliens and Alien rights? Would we offer them high-paying jobs and/or top-notch education, depriving humans of those same jobs and quality education in exchange? To me, Alien Nation is one of the more possible (and perhaps likely) scenarios. Aliens delegated to run-down areas of big cities. Token jobs occasionally handed out because it's forced by the Government to do so. And a general disgust towards Aliens amongst the human population. In that regard, this movie was way ahead of the curve.

Great movie. 9 out of 10 stars. Recommended for those over 25, perhaps those with a higher intellect than most. Not recommended for someone looking for a "Men In Black" type of Alien movie. Not your typical Hollywood blockbuster filled with Aliens, that's for sure.

IMDb ROCKS!

JD
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8/10
This movie is all LOVE!
12 October 2005
Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love is a fascinating film. Perhaps 2002's best movie - and one of the best drama/romantic-comedies to ever hit the silver screen.

PT Anderson is an absolute genius. A talented and master film-maker. Boogie Nights and Magnolia, two of Anderson's previous films, were absolutely stunning. Boogie Nights, in particular, was a complete masterpiece. And Punch-Drunk Love is no exception, another great piece of film-making by what is quickly becoming one of the world's top Directors. I can't wait for whatever he does next.

Also, it's difficult to overstate the performance of Adam Sandler. I'm confident this will go down in history as his best work. Ironically, I thought I'd never see this movie because of Sandler starring in it. (I ONLY watched it because of my respect for PT Anderson - and I still waited 3 years to see it!). I enjoy most of Sandler's non-romantic comedies, but I couldn't even imagine him in a romantic movie, I thought he would be horrible. I couldn't have been more wrong. I wasn't prepared for such a great performance, as he stole the show from the opening scene. I can't remember ever being more surprised with the lead actor in a movie. He was simply great, a truly terrific performance.

On the flip side, Emily Watson, as the caring Lena, was wonderful as well. I've got the feeling we will be seeing much more of her, as she had a breakout performance here in PDL. I thought at first that she almost looked too beautiful to put up with the antics of someone like Sandler's character (as she would be in high demand with the males), but then we see the quirky side of her as well, and it all comes together. Great touch.

I recommend this movie to anyone over the age of 25. If you're a teenager who's hoping for a few laughs from Sandler, you're going to be gravely disappointed. Buy the movie, store it in your closet, and pull it out when you reach 30 - and you'll love it! And please, don't let "romantic comedy" scare you (as it does me). I almost REFUSE to watch romantic comedies, but this one is much different. Romance and comedy surely aren't the first things that come to mind when I think of this film. It's a drama full of tension and embarrassment. It's an uplifting, yet shocking movie. To the intellectual mind, I can't recommend it enough.

Thank you for reading!...

JD
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