The Sisters Brothers

When is the last time we got a good western?

Oh, you mean like, every year over the last decade? Hells yeah.

Since Westerns went out of style, we get a lot less of them, and they end up being a lot higher quality. Not when we were oversaturated with the westerns decades ago. They were like the superhero movies of their time.

Needless to say, this year we already had a western Damsel, that I for sure did not see. But I saw The Sisters Brothers, which has a chance to be the western of 2018. And if not, then sure, Damsel.

Gyllenhaal
Damsel probably doesn’t have a bearded Gyllenhaal though, sooooo…

Set somewhere in the 1800’s, the brothers Eli (John C. Reilly) and Christian Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) are good at killing and a bit proud of it. They can take out a whole group and walk away unscathed. Some say it is thanks to their dad being a straight up killer madman as well. And some people say…well, they only say that one thing.

They work for The Commodore, a man who runs a large area with his wealth and outlaws. If someone steals or messes with him, they end up dead. And now the brothers have to try and catch up with a prospector (Riz Ahmed) who stole something from the Commodore. Trying to catch up to someone before they make it many states away can be quite the burden, especially if they don’t exactly know where he will be.

Thankfully, another worker of The Commodore, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), has been following the prospector and keeping notes along the way for the brothers to follow. He is a writer, not a killer, so he couldn’t do anything that could cause a person that much pain. Even though it would make things simpler.

But when the prospector and the author start to develop a friendship, with dreams of making it big, then anything can change.

Also starring Carol Kane, Rebecca Root, and Rutger Hauer.

Brothers
“If there is a place you need to go, I’m the one you need to know, I’m the map!”

Let me just say, before I get really into the movie, that this film had the most infuriating credits intro I have ever seen. Apparently a lot of companies were behind this one, and so they had to show them all at the start, you know, for legal reasons. And it started with one at the bottom of the screen in a strange shimmer color font.Then the next one appeared directly on top of it. And so on. And some lines had more than one group. Overall, it was 7 rows of words stacked on top of each other, filling in the black screen, and for whatever reason, it made me angry.

Making me read down to up? Just filling things up and not fading anything away? I was mad.

And the film really didn’t make me happy. It is not a comedy or anything, a serious drama, with the occasional jokes. About two brothers, overall, who are good at killing people and have to go around killing a lot of people. And it is also a lot about the prospector and Gyllenhaal’s character.

The Sisters Brothers is about a few characters. It is definitely not about the story. The plot is pretty poor. It feels really long and drawn out, not to showcase great shots, because the shots are just okay. The acting is decent, it has some moments that are cool to see. But we also have night scenes with not great lighting, because they are going for realistic, and that is a shame if those things are big events, like the introduction or when main characters get hurt.

I was disappointed with The Sisters Brothers. This is not a knock on Reilly, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, or Ahmed, who all acted wonderfully. But the film put me to sleep and felt like it was going nowhere fast.

1 out of 4.

Inherent Vice

I was excited to watch Inherent Vice, because the internet told me to be excited about Inherent Vice. It was some sleek 1970s-esque drama/mystery, complete with Private Eye and missing people. It had a sexy poster and a lot of famous people in it.

I honestly didn’t see too much advertising outside of the internet, but it was also by a well respected director. Paul Thomas Anderson has made quite a few good films, all of them well acted, very well loved.

So despite it taking me, I dunno, two or so months after it first started coming out to theaters, I have finally gotten around to seeing it!

And then, uh, I saw it and left quite disappointed.

Prude
I am probably just a prude like this lady here.

Here is what I pieced together.

Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a private investigator, a man with sideburns, and someone who loves women, drugs, and other hippie behavior. His ex lady Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston) is now sleeping with a real estate mogul Michael Z. Wolfmann (Eric Roberts). His wife doesn’t like the affair and might be planning something drastic.

Also, unrelated, Tariq Khalil (Michael Kenneth Williams) wants Doc to find his friend, a member of an Aryan gang. The man who also is a bodyguard of Mr. Wolfmann. Oh man. The plot thickens.

Either way, these two inquiries lead Doc on a strange and drug fueled path, featuring death, framing, cunnilingus, sex, more drugs, and more drugs again. Also featuring Hong Chau, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Josh Brolin, Maya Rudolph and Benicio Del Toro.

Shock
My face when I found out the side burns had their own place in the credits.

I think the main point of Inherent Vice is to tell a decade appropriate story with a decade appropriate amount of drugs and hazy memory. The story feels disjointed because of how messed up the characters actually are. I’d say it is like an unreliable narrator, but I am not even sure who the narrator was, just a woman.

And I hated it. I don’t care how accurate the experience is, it just makes me feel uncomfortable. Which again, is probably the point. But these are feelings I don’t want to feel, the feelings of confusion.

The set is fine. The acting is fine. The music is good. But the story I found impossible to get into. For the most part it just felt like two characters talking to each other and uhh then the next scene. I like dramas, I like talking, I just could do absolutely nothing with this one.

1 out of 4.

Her

Without a doubt, Her was one of my most anticipated movies of 2013 to watch. That is why I was disappointed I had to wait until 2014 to see it! It is one of those rather annoying ideas by the guys trying to win Oscars. They release a movie on a limited run near the end of the year, then wide release in early January after it has built up steam.

Living in the middle of Iowa, where they have zero movie previews, you will always get the short end of the “limited release” stick.

Despite the wait, Spike Jonze has made some great movies in the past (Being John Malkovich/Adaptation), so I was hoping he could deliver on his first major release that he both wrote and directed.

Tongue
Especially with a topic as serious as this one.

Her is set sometime in the distant future. In this world, human interaction is basically nonexistent. Everyone is attached to their computer devices that they carry around with them, more extreme than it is now. In fact, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) works at a job where he writes hand written letters for people, because people really don’t know how to do that anymore. They’d rather leave their intimacy to strangers.

He is also going through a divorce with Catherine (Rooney Mara), but he is reluctant to sign the papers because he doesn’t want that part of his life to end.

Regardless, Theodore decides to upgrade his computer’s operating system, as it comes with a new artificial intelligence software that will adapt and learn over time. His new operating system, which gives herself the name Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), immediately makes his life more organized and better. In fact, he now has someone he can talk to who seems real. Yay, human-ish contact!

Then, Samantha and Theodore fall in love.

The only other main character is Amy (Amy Adams), his long time friend (who he once dated), who is also currently married (Matt Letscher). She provides an actual human constant experience to his life. Chris Pratt and Olivia Wilde also make appearances.

Mr. Phoenix
I bet overall, Theo is actually in love with himself.

The basic concepts of Her are not entirely unique. Futuristic society and very smart computers who have human personalities. See, even Disney had a made for TV movie, Smart House along the same lines. But rarely is love touched upon.

Phoenix, like we have come to expect, did phenomenal in this role. He was a dreamer, but alone, a lover, but afraid. The movie is mostly dialogue based, most of which is between Theodore and Samantha, leaving the camera on Phoenix for most of the film to react and talk. Since Samantha doesn’t have a face, the film just falls on his shoulders. Despite his crazy good performance, he will probably fall short of Best Actor Oscar thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

I thought the writing and dialogue in the movie felt incredibly realistic for what was going on. It was also quite beautiful. You could tell that the main character had a lot bottling up inside of him, so every time he started to talk with Samantha, he could let it all out and be real to himself. The love between him and the operating system was by far one of the more heart felt performances of the year.

Because the subject matters of Her are so serious, I can say that after one viewing I don’t think I was really able to understand and get everything I needed out of the movie. This is the type of film that might require multiple viewings, not because of plot twists or surprise endings, but to really capture and appreciate everything that happens subtly through facial expressions and dialogue.

Her is by far one of the more relevant films of 2013. I don’t even have to go into detail about how it relates to modern day life. I’d suggest watching with an open mind and an open heart.

4 out of 4.

The Master

My quest to see The Master has been a long and lonesome journey. I guess with a name like The Master, it is kind of hard to NOT have a quest.

But this came out to the theaters before I had a chance to go to all the new ones, it never went to the cheap theater, and it doesn’t come out until the week AFTER the Academy Awards. No, this picture wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but it was nominated for 3 of the 4 Best Actor/Actress/Supporting categories, making it just as important. Gosh, why did it have to make me go to such unsavory methods to see the film?

At least Amour has a BP nomination, so I can see it through one of those movie theater marathons.

Mastahh
Oh shit, you are a charismatic looking man. I guess if you tell me to like the movie, I will.

Sex. Sex. Sex. Some people can’t get enough of it. Take young Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) for instance. He just got out of the navy, maybe a discharge. Loves the sex. Loves the drinking. Kind of a lost soul after the navy, no one loves him. Might have accidentally poisoned a guy too, whoops.

But then he finds a boat, wakes up on it not sure why he is there. Bunch of weirdos though, talkin’ ’bout The Cause. Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the captain of this here boat, and he is willing to take Freddie on. Just might do some testing on him, some personal questions to get into his core. He probed really deep.

Freddie finds himself attracted to Lancaster’s charismatic ways and agrees to stay on board and help him spread his message. A cult? Maybe, yes, but what else does he have going on?

Lancaster thinks he can help Freddie, cure him of his addictions to sex and alcohol, while Freddie is just looking for a place to fit in. But can he change? Just who is The Master anyways?

Also feautring Amy Adams as Lancaster’s wife, Ambyr Childers as his daughter, and Jesse Plemons as his son.

JP is Drunk
“You know what would make this morning go better? Some sex and alcohol.”

Before I saw The Master, I was pretty dang certain that Christoph Waltz would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He was amazing in Django Unchained, he was a main actor in that movie, and there is no way that Philip Seymour Hoffman would have done better.

Well… I am not as sure anymore. PSH was excellent in this movie (and again, arguably just as important as Joaquin Phoenix). The scenes for everyone were really well acted, I just think PSH stood above the rest. There are so many examples of fine acting in this movie, the most famous of which will be the first “questioning session” between the two. Not a Doctor Who reference, but the not blinking scene? Great. I mean, yes, I am annoyed that there was blinking anyways, took a bit of it away, but still a pretty great scene. I also loved his reaction to the individual who was calling him a cult leader. Fantastic.

The Master has layers upon layers of potential themes you can take away from them, so I will not spend the time to go over any of them. Really, the movie is what you make of it. I know I am going to see it again, at least once, to try and get an overall better grasp.

Just some minor nitpicky things would prevent me from giving it the big score.

3 out of 4.