Tag: Jon Bernthal

Wind River

For awhile, I was up in Northern Minnesota. This is real life, true story. How north, you ask? Well, apparently a 45 minute drive would have taken me to Canada.

I bring this up for two reasons: One, it made me miss quite a few screenings, because they show movies up there months after everyone else saw them, certainly not before. And two, the movie Wind River is set in the wilderness.

Not almost Canada, but cold enough in the months of “barely Spring” Wyoming, in the mountains.

So basically, I am this story. If you squint really really hard.

Hunt
Oh hey. Avengers. I see you upgraded weapons.

Set in the titular Wind River, Wyoming, this takes us to a big reservation city where people want to just be left alone, raise their families, and not be fucked over by the white man. Basically like a lot of people in the world.

Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a cool white guy though, as you can tell with his white name. He is okay, because he works to help the area. He lives alone and is a hunter, and he works for the government sort of, taking out wolves or lions or whatever that are messing with people’s farms. He has an ex wife (Julia Jones) and a son (Teo Briones) that he has visitation for sometimes. Definitely some backstory there. Would be awesome if a new character was brought in so that it could be addressed at some point.

But before that, DEATH. Because while out looking for a momma lion and her cubs, he stumbles upon a dead body. A girl, Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) that he knows, barefoot, and miles away from any house. His plans have changed, and now they have to wait for an FBI agent to get there to investigate the possible murder. Which is where we meet Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), girl totally not used to the cold, here to check things out. Despite bad things that have clearly happened to the girl, specifically physical stuff, the death cannot be ruled a murder but natural causes. Weather is a goddamn bitch.

Banner doesn’t have a lot of time to investigate this before she will be called back to a new job, so she enlists Lambert’s help in order to get someone who knows the area and land to maybe make some leads quickly before she has to run off again. Can they figure out the mystery behind her death?

Featuring the awesome Graham Greene as the local cop, and Gil Birmingham as Natalie’s dad. Also all of these people: Apesanahkwat, Eric Lange, Tantoo Cardinal, Althea Sam, Tyler Laracca, Martin Sensmeier, Tokala Clifford, Jon Bernthal, James Jordan, Austin R. Grant, Blake Robbins, Hugh Dillon, Ian Bohen, and Matthew Del Negro.

Grief
And Birmingham’s face was played by William Wallace.

After watching, Wind River seems like one of those movies that I really love for basically every aspect, that other movie watchers will find to be boring or dumb. I hate it when that happens. I want those people to open their minds and realize they just witnessed something epic, so I write about it (while begrudgingly say that yeah, everyone can have an opinion), and make sure people get out there.

But honestly I can’t see that happening. I can’t imagine people going to watch this and not being impressed with it. It is just so damn good. There is no way this can have a disconnect between critic and the average movie goer. Anyone should be able to go in, see how much Renner, Olsen and Greene brought it the entire time they weer on the screen. They should be able to see how much Birmingham did with a lot less screen time. They should be appreciative of the cast that was very racially sensitive to the area.

And they should be able to see how well the plot unfolded. When the movie decided to reveal the secrets, they should feel how their stomach turned and their anger increased. The emotions would be on a ride if someone just let them.

Sure, Wind River started off a little bit slow, but once we get dead body, it should captivate the viewer, and you will see definitely one of the best films of 2017.

4 out of 4.

Baby Driver

At the time of writing this introduction, Baby Driver was listed on Wikipedia as a British-American action crime comedy jukebox musical film, and when I first read that my heart skipped several beats. I am now dead. [Editor’s note: I have gotten better, and the Wikipedia article has since been shortened.]

Those genre’s together just seemed too good to be true, and it was. Because a jukebox musical means, 1) It is a musical, and 2) That the songs that the character sing already exist and come from the charts. But I knew this wasn’t a musical, just a film that really, really, really, loved music. Music that yes, at different times, may have hit the charts. And even if the main character sings some of them, they still don’t qualify it as a musical.

Which is sad, but I am mostly certain no one will turn a plot like this one into an actual musical. Or at least, not for film, but you never know with Broadway turning out 2 or more “Movie title, the musical!” films a year.

Elevator
“Elevator, the musical!” is coming up and down this fall.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) loves music. It is a major part of his identity, there are always earbuds in his ears with an iPod playing a song to help the situation. When Baby was a kid, his parents got into a car accident with him in the back seat. They died, he survived, and he gained an ever persistent noise in his ears that won’t go away. The music helps dull it out.

Baby unfortunately got into some trouble. He became very good at cars, being one of the best drivers around despite his young age. But one day, he messed with the wrong man, Doc (Kevin Spacey), and lost a lot of his merchandise. And now, to pay Doc back, Baby has been the driver for several bank robberies in the greater Atlanta area, with his share always going towards his payment. But as soon as he pays off Doc, he wants out. He just wants to drive and be free, he definitely doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

Baby works with criminals, however. And criminals can be erratic and put his family in danger. His family being his foster dad (CJ Jones), who is now in a wheel chair, deaf, and needs a lot of attention. And Deborah (Lily James), a waitress at a diner he frequents who shares his passion of music and is generally a free spirit. So when the criminals start doing bad things, it is Baby’s duty to get out of it while protecting those he cares about.

We have quite a few criminals played by actors like Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, Flea, and Lanny Joon. Also featuring Sky Ferreira and Hal Whiteside.

Diner
Everyone knows that diners are the best place to go for music and pie.

Baby Driver, from start to finish, will keep you on the edge of your seat and the edge of your car seat as well when you are heading home. Don’t watch this movie during the day, because you will want the roads empty so you can blast music and drive (responsibly) maybe a little bit faster. It will take over you, especially if you are a movie goer with varied music tastes.

Elgort has been in quite a few teenage romance / young adult films. The Fault in our Stars, Paper Towns, Divergent, even the Carrie remake. But Baby Driver is finally his jumping off point into something greater than all of his parts before combined. He is now part of a cinematic masterpiece, playing a role unlike his other characters, and hopefully will lead him to a lot of better roles in the future. Elgort might be a star, especially lucky after he didn’t get the Star Wars gig.

The cinematography, the action, the variety of characters, the dialogue, and of course, the music, make Baby Driver a must see film. I especially appreciate at how diverse the music ends up being, from all sorts of decades and genres. In addition to that, having the action FIT the music is an incredible achievement and allowed me to sit in my seat in awe.

I can’t talk enough about how wonderful an experience Baby Driver was. It is a film that I want to see again in theaters and will pick up on Blu-Ray day one of its release.

4 out of 4.

The Accountant

I am thankful that I waited to review The Accountant. If I reviewed it months ago when it came out, it would have been so less…relevant.

What? Reviewing a movie when it comes out in theaters is LESS relevant? How crazy.

But yes. Because now I can say that regardless of the films topic and plot, this film should actually be about the 2017 Oscars. The two men responsible for the envelopes, the accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers, have lived their lives up to that night probably in perfection. Never flubbing a number, never getting BBQ sauce on their beards, just perfection.

And then they fucked up at the biggest award and took a little bit of time to fix it. It wasn’t a smaller technical award (which would have been equally devastating for those involved), but the Best Picture, which affects large groups of people.

Just fucking insane. I want their story. But this one will have to do.

Numbers Real
Ah good, numbers, now we know it is an intense mystery film.

A lot of threads in this film, so I will try to keep it simple and brief.

Ray King (J.K. Simmons), some head of a treasury department, is looking for this Accountant dude, who might behind all these various…accountant things. And crimes. He gets some underling, Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), to look into it. Some blackmail was involved too.

Chris Wolff (Ben Affleck) is of course our Accountant in question. He is a high functioning autistic dude, so he is good with numbers, but he was also trained to fight and stuff as a kid by his dad, because why not.

He is called into some company to look up financial irregularities. Turns out a lot of shenanigans are going on, we get some action, we get some mystery.

Starring Andy Umberger, Alison Wright, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, and Jean Smart. The A’s and J’s of the Hollywood complex.

Numbers
He punched those numbers so hard they turned into tiny booklets and the room emptied.

A couple of days after I watched The Accountant, I realized something powerful. I don’t remember a whole lot about The Accountant.

The experience while watching it had some okay moments, but for the most part, nothing anymore stands out. It is a completely forgettable film, and that is not a good thing at all. If I wrote this review right away after watching it, it would have still only been a 2 out of 4.

But at this point, a die hard Ben Affleck fan, I am just wondering what happened? Is it worth ever seeing again? Shit, should I even watch Live By Night? I feel like I am automatically going to get the exact same reception for that film, and I can’t handle that happening right now. Another recent movie is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I don’t think I can handle that much shitty Ben Affleck in a row. I cannot go back the early 2000’s. Gone Girl was supposed to help lead to better roles, not worse!

I am just worried about my friend. Most of his upcoming films involve DC and I don’t want him to lose his acting career. He is lucky he even has one after all those shitty movies in the before time, here is no way he can survive a second falling out.

The Accountant is a forgettable action thriller. It might have smart moments, but it is not anything that I will care about discussing in the future, unfortunately.

1 out of 4.

We Are Your Friends

Gorgon Reviews – Watching Shitty (Terrible) Movies So You Don’t Have To. My long standing tagline and life philosophy. But for the most part, lately, my movies have just been everything in theaters. Some shitty, some not.

This is not a strange indie film. We Are Your Friends a film that was released throughout the US, but no one saw it. Almost no one. At the time of its release, it had the third worse opening for any film with over 2000 theaters showing it. It was the worst for live action movies.

Since it came out, Jem and the Holograms somehow decided to beat its box office records.

So We Are Your Friends only got to live in notoriety for about two months. Now it is second fiddle and now it won’t even be remembered for being never seen.

DJ
It may be remembered for having the same name as a famous Justice song though.
(Sweet music video alert)

Cole (Zac Efron) wants to be a great DJ. He is a small time guy, working the local clubs. He thinks he will be big one day. He just needs the perfect first song and the perfect opportunity. He definitely understands DJing though. He knows how to work a crowd, get them moving, and make the optimal BPMs .

He has three friends, Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), and Mason (Jonny Weston).

They need cash to make their dreams come true. But also, they like to party.

And party they do. They party a lot. And get ladies and stuff. Starring Jon Bernthal as a scummy dude, Wes Bentley as a pompous dude, and Emily Ratajkowski as a woman who doesn’t just want to be there for her looks.

Dance
Putting my hands on my head is the only way I know how to dance.

Who doesn’t love Zac Efron? He has successfully turned himself around from pretty boy Disney child into a guy who does what he wants. For the most part, he wants to do risque comedies. He did That Awkward Moment and Neighbors. And he is going to be in the Baywatch movie, which will hopefully be as good as the 21 Jump Street franchise.

But this isn’t risque or really a comedy. I mean, it is supposed to be, but it feels like a terrible drama the whole time. Having attractive women, even ones that show their boobies, does not make it really risque either.

We Are Your Friends has a boring plot, the kind you can figure out within the first fifteen minutes. Any surprises are actually completely random, and most of them serve little to no purpose. The same old romance things happen in this film that happen in all shitty romance movies.

And guess what? Spoilers. He does the song by the end. He makes people dance.

Hip hip fucking hooray. Some good music as the soundtrack though, but literally it felt about 20% of the film was saved for party montages.

1 out of 4.

Sicario

I am happy to say that I was able to go into Sicario with a blind eye. I knew nothing about the plot and I was happy about that fact. Hell, when I first saw the cover and name, I just assumed it was some random horror film.

But what I was unable to avoid was the hype train. The hype train drove through my city like a…well, train. Praise from all sides about the acting, directing, cinemetography, plot, you name it, people loved it.

That sucks. Now I went into the film expecting greatness. The important note here is that I did, in fact, go into the film. I was supposed to see 99 Films this night. I convinced myself otherwise, to avoid the free pre-screening, and pay my hard cash money to see the movie so I can review it and compare it to its hype. I might have had to wait until a DVD release if it wasn’t super hyped, and who the hell knows when that would be. I can’t miss out on potential Oscar greatness for Andrew MotherFucking Garfield!?!

Immigrants
Some say Garfield is living his post-Spider-Man life as an immigrant on the run from the law.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent living in Arizona and she is pretty dang good at her job. She is currently working on a string of kidnappings in the area by a Mexican Cartel lord. The guy pretends to be a legitimate business man, but they all know he is running the gangs secretly and taking orders from Mexico. Kate and her partner, Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya), also find out that parts of the house were rigged to explode. Well fuck. These assholes are going to start booby trapping their hideouts to smuggle people places. This means every future job just got that much more dangerous and things really really suck.

But have no fear, every day American citizens. The government is on the case!

Kate is hand picked to join a larger, inter-department task force, lead by the CIA. She doesn’t know a lot about the mission. Just that it is lead by an asshole, Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), who only slightly works or the CIA, and his mysterious friend, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), someone who isn’t even American, nor is he CIA. He is a “consultant.”

Next thing Kate knows, she is whisked away to El Paso. She was told the overall mission of the task force was to bring own the kidnappings and drugs in that area. To actually hurt the cartel from the top and not through their lackies.

What she didn’t know is how many laws would be broken in the process. Not including murder, crossing borders, torture and kidnapping. Lovely. What’s a moral girl gonna do in a situation like that?

Also with Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Maximillia Hernandez, and the best Miami Spy, Jeffrey Donovan.

Jef
You can’t fool me with your hipster glasses and fake mustache. I know it is you, Michael Weston.

Sicario was one of those perfect movie experiences. Outside of the two dudes who literally had phone calls during the showing. This is what I get for going to a non-screener, non-drafthouse like setting.

Why was it perfect? Sicario was like a slow burning wine. It was dark, realistic, slow, beautifully well shot, great characters, tense moments, and with a bit of moral ambiguity. Not a lot, but a bit. Someone should let me know if what I said about wine makes any sense, because I don’t know anything about wine, but the saying seemed natural enough.

Acting on all fronts were great. We got Brolin being a dick, pretty standard. But the obvious and clear stand outs come from Blunt and Del Toro. Blunt has been having a heck of a career with her last few movies. She seems to always give it her all and seems to be getting even more dramatic roles in the future thanks to it. Blunt gets to play our law abiding character who doesn’t know what really goes on, the one the audience gets to relate to.

Del Toro isn’t introduced until later in the film, but by the end he definitely becomes a true co star and almost another main protagonist. I once had a friend who said he would watch anything with Del Toro in it. But that was in 2010 and he was trying to justify being interested in The Wolfman. I knew he was in a lot of good movies, but I wasn’t a megafan. But hell, this is the type of performance that could make someone a megafan. His character is very rich and the movie does a nice job of slowly unraveling his mystique. He is one of the most BAMF characters in film this year, while at the same time you never really know if you are supposed to be cheering for or against him.

I wouldn’t be a good reviewer if I didn’t further talk about the cinematography. Denis Villeneuve likes pretty movies and he wants your eyes to be ecstatic. You’d know that if you saw his recent movies, Enemy and Prisoners. That is why with this film and Prisoners he used the legendary Roger Deakins to set up his shots. So much attention to detail was put into every frame, the only thing that could ruin it would be mutilated bodies and dead nudity.

Oh.

Yeah. Some of that is in here too I guess.

4 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

My first introduction to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was described as “Like, The Fault In Our Stars, but better!”

Well, shit. Because I liked The Fault In Our Stars. It felt realistic, well acted, was surprising, and of course I cried. So I guessed this one was another teenage romance about dying kid(s). Or at least, this time the girl is the sick one. And judging by the actress, I can guess her fate since she seems to be type casted.

Regardless, this movie has an excellent title. It has a nice flow to it. So that gets my loins revved up regardless of any other factors. BRING ON THE DEAD TEENAGERS.

Friends
I meant literally dead. Not bored brain dead.

The titular character here is Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) and he is a senior in high school. He is your typical high school movie loaner. You know, under the radar, tries to please everyone yet stay invisible. His best “friend” is Earl (RJ Cyler). Very similar despite their different upbringings. They like old classic films, are generally weird/antisocial, and have secret parody films of classics that they make together.

Nerd alertttttttttt.

And then there is Rachel (Olivia Cooke), the dying girl. She has leukemia now, and leukemia generally sucks. Greg and Rachel were never really friends, but their moms are, and Greg’s mom has DEMANDED that he hang out with Rachel and make her feel better.

Kind of awkward. Making someone hang out with a person just because they have got the cancer. But he has to do it. And this is the story of Greg, Earl, and a Dying Girl.

Don’t worry! There are more than just those three characters. After all, Greg has TWO parents (Nick Offerman, Connie Britton), and DyingGirl has a mom (Molly Shannon). There are other school kids, like Ill Phil the Drug Dealer (Masam Holden), Scott Mayhew (Matt Bennett) leader of the Emo kids, and Madison (Katherine C. Hughes) a hot girl whom Greg tends to get nervous over.

And everyone’s most hated actor from The Walking Dead, Jon Bernthal, plays the history teacher that everybody loves.

Dead Girl
Fuck, that kid can’t smile in anything.

I guess the easiest way to describe this movie, after seeing it, is like The Fault In Our Stars, but better.

I kid. They are pretty different. They might fall under the same overall genre, but The Fault In Our Stars is clearly heavily romance based and this one is definitely closer to the discovery of friendship.

I cant even begin to describe all the things I liked about this movie, but I will attempt anyways because this is a review and that is the point of a review. Mann gives a great performance as the lead, his best yet. Cooke hasn’t been in a lot of films/shows, but she is usually decent and she gives a very raw performance here. This is the first real thing for Cyler and he was hilarious in this as well. But literally everyone is great in this movie. Every single person. Well acted all around, good unique characters, and a touching story.

But that’s not all! The cinematography in this film is great. So many well shot scenes, conveying emotion through just the character spacing alone. Because the two males love old movies, the parody films themselves are brilliant as well. It is clearly a movie that loves movies, and as a movie lover, your experience will be even more gratifying. And of course, my personal favorite, some long, one shot scenes with some intense arguments throughout.

At the end of everything, I think I am mostly surprised at how funny the whole thing ended up being. I laughed throughout, even just a bit during the very sad points. I love a good comedy. This is actually Mann’s second comedy/drama film dealing with intense subjects. I also suggest giving It’s Kind Of A Funny Story a chance.

4 out of 4.

Fury

Fury. Finally. I have said a few times I wanted more TV shows and movies based around basic human emotions. We had Glee, and we had Rage? What about Fear? What about Sorrow? And so now we get Fury.

In all honesty, I feel like it has been a good while since I have seen a really good war movie. Too many things focused on Iraq and Afghanistan that are all over the place in terms of quality. I guess I enjoyed Lone Survivor, but that wasn’t a super long epic war movie, a la Saving Private Ryan.

I mean, the last thing we got was The Monuments Men, and everyone know how great that ended up being. Just saying, a lot of pressure on Fury, and they have to start with an uphill battle, because they put Shia LaBeouf in it.

Crew
There he is, hiding in the back, behind that mustache.

War is hard. Just ask the former assistant driver of the Fury tank. Well, you’d be able to if his face wasn’t blown off. That sucks. They liked him. He has been with them for years. Sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt) promised his team that he would always keep them safe and he has finally broken his word. It was only a matter of time. Sure, it is now April fucking 1945, the war almost over. But the Germans keep fighting back, despite the allied forces on their doorstep in their country.

So now they are a man down, but only temporarily. Their replacement is the young Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). Eight weeks into the army, hardly a man, he is going to have to learn to grow up and quick. Especially with a bunch of Germans surrounding them, and four pissed off Americans sharing a cramped space with him. Like other assistant driver/gunner Gordo (Michael Pena), main gun shooter guy Bible (LaBeouf), and big missile loader crazy man Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal).

Oh and hey. The Germans have better tanks. Better defended, better missiles. And they aren’t as spread out. And their equipment isn’t outdated. So yeah. The tank, Fury, has a lot going against it. And now they got a kid who hasn’t even killed a man. Basically a death wish keeping him around.

But war is hard and surviving it is even harder.

And don’t worry, there are other tanks. And other soldiers. Some of which are acted by Jim Parrack, Kevin Vance, and Brad William Henke. For diversity sake.

Pew Pew Pew
But Americans have some lasers on their tanks, so it should all even out in the long run.

Not many war films glorify war, and this one is not an exception. In fact, so few war films glorify war that it seems silly that I even have to mention that. Should only mention it when a film actually does glorify war at this point.

But this one has exceptional acting talent behind it as well. From the bottom up. LaBeouf? Eh. He is better at pieces set in the past. I didn’t hate him by the end. Bernthal? Probably his best work. Pena? It is surprising how well of an actor he has been over the last few years, given his start. No difference here. Lerman? Not just a Percy Jackson looking kid anymore. He conveyed a huge range of emotions. Pitt? I’d watch Pitt watch paint dry for 2 hours and probably give that film 2 thumbs up. I’d watch him make tea and then refuse to drink it for five hours. Does he make bad movies? I mean, even Mr. and Mrs. Smith has some redeeming qualities.

This is an extremely violent film, as you would imagine based on title and plot. I personally only thought “Boom! Headshot!” once or twice throughout the whole film, despite the large number of them. They were just so shocking and gross.

The film isn’t just war torn countryside and fighting. There are periods of downtime, including one extremely long scene in a conquered German city. The type of scene that reminded me of something Quentin Tarantino would do. That could just be because of Pitt/Inglourious Basterds though.

I honestly went in expecting a movie that might have gotten a bit too anti-war preachy. One that didn’t give me the best acting. I don’t know what I was smoking. Fury is now one of my new homeboys.

4 out of 4.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Sometimes, the best publicity for a movie is a battle with the MPAA. Just ask Harvey Weinsten and the movie Bully. That is what (intentionally/unintentionally) happened with The Wolf Of Wall Street. It was supposed to come out on November 15, but after being given an NC-17 rating by the board, Martin Scorsese had to go back and cut some more material out of his three hour biopic of of one Jordan Belfort.

Which is why it was pushed back to Christmas (pushing back Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit to January 17. Same distributor, didn’t want to compete against itself). I couldn’t be happier that it got pushed back, either. Compared to last years Les Miserables and Django Unchained, this year’s releases needed a kick in the butt to be anywhere close as good.

Talk Wolf
A raunchy, naked woman filled hard kick in the butt.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), for all intents and purposes, was a self made man. His parents were accountants, and he wanted to go to Wall Street in the late 1980s to become a stock broker. He quickly got a job, became good buddies with the boss (Matthew McConaughey), and was taught all of the ins and outs of the business. Including the not so legal ins and outs.

Well, his first actual day as a stock broker, Black Monday happens, and the firm he works for quickly goes under. Back to being on the bottom, Belfort finds out about “penny stocks,” companies too little to be sold on the actual stock market, where the commission for a broker goes from 1% of the sale to 50% of the sale. If he can land some big fish on these worthless stocks, he could probably make fat cash quickly, with everyone none the wiser.

But that illegal activity is just the tip of the iceberg. Drugs. Money laundering. Drugs. Drugs. Prostitution. Tax fraud. Bribing officials. You name it, this guy did it. With the help of his very awkward buddy, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), there ain’t nothing they can’t accomplish, or at least nothing that can’t be bought.

The Wolf Of Wall Street has a huge cast of characters, most of them actually quite important and memorable. Rob Reiner plays his dad, an angry accountant, and Kyle Chandler the FBI agent trying to bring him down. Cristin Milioti plays his original wife, and Margot Robbie plays his new wife. Jon Bernthal plays a drug dealer, and Jon Favreau his lawyer. Finally, last but not least, P.J. ByrneKenneth ChoiHenry ZebrowskiBrian Sacca and Ethan Suplee play his original start up friends and workers who carry him to the top.

DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE
I don’t think I need to say anything for this one.

The Wolf Of Wall Street can best be summed up by three words: Unforgiving, Real, and Amazing.

I initially groaned at the three hour run time, and although it can be difficult to make it through if you drink a lot of fluids during the movie, the viewings at home when you can pause will be easy peasy. The three hours are full of so much tension and energy (while also constantly moving the story forward) that it all flies by in a jiffy. In the last twenty minutes or so, the extreme length became noticeable as the movie slowed down. But slowing down makes sense at that point in the movie, to fully understand that Belfort’s bubble had finally been burst.

The acting performances by everyone involved was incredible. DiCaprio, despite looking like himself, felt like a completely new man. Every time he got up on the microphone, I was in awe at the intensity and heartfelt that he showed. The second “chest bumping song” scene is unforgettable. On the other side, Hill didn’t look or sound like his normal self at all. Dare I say, he has actual acting talent?

The movie definitely earns its R rating, and it is pretty clear why originally it was given the NC-17. It was incredibly dark and funny, so much that I couldn’t tell if I really wanted to laugh or run and hide from the screen. It is a twisted version of the American Dream, a train wreck that somehow rampaged through the country side, and something that I could not take my eyes off.

Although I doubt it will be considered the best film of 2013, it can certainly be considered the most ambitious.

 

4 out of 4.

Grudge Match

Every year on the Christmas releases, there tries to be that who gives a fuck “family”-ish film. Last year it was Parental Guidance. A movie that everyone can enjoy without thinking much.

Unfortunately for this year, two movies tend to fit the family genre, with one of them clearly leagues above the other. Sure, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty requires some thought, but all the families are going to flock to it over Grudge Match.

I mean, sure, take the guys from Raging Bull and Rocky and make them box. Sounds like a good idea, but oh man, the execution.

Green Men
Why do movies have to show montages whenever a video goes viral? That shit is dumb.

Basic premise: Razor (Sylvester Stallone) and Kid (Robert De Niro) were both Pittsburgh area boxers, who used to be a big deal in the 1980s. Their first match against each other went 15 rounds, with Kid coming up on top. They battled again a few years later, when Razor knocked out Kid in only 4 rounds. Before a rematch could be made to give them the best 2 out of 3, Razor mysteriously retired from boxing, and left Kid without a chance to redeem himself.

Now, many years later, they are both hurting. Razor financially, and Kid with his ego. They agree to pose for a video game from business man Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart), but once they meet, their feelings take over and they fight it out on the spot. The video goes viral, and there becomes a demand for them to finally have their rematch, 30 years later, despite their age and condition.

Their rivalry goes deeper than just a few boxing matches, when it is found out that Kid also slept with Razor’s girlfriend at the time (Kim Basinger), knocking her up. So Razor wanted to get back at him by never giving him the chance to fight him again. The reason this matters so much is because their son, B.J. (Jon Bernthal) finally learns the identity of his real father, and wants to help Kid train to get in shape for the big game, and introduce him to his grandson.

So who is going to win? A man fighting for the love of his life and money, or the man fighting for redemption and his new family?

Alan Arkin plays Razor’s old and trusty trainer, while LL Cool J plays a very successful trainer.

Supporting Cast
The supporting cast deserve their own video, for saving this accidental disaster flick.

During the very cliche and simplistic ending, the entire theater was booing at the screen, almost in anger at how much it felt like a cop out. It didn’t give us a real ending, is how it felt. Of course, I was the only one in the theater, so I can say things like “everyone there agreed with me” and it be correct.

Let’s compare it to another recent fighting rivalry movie…Warrior! Warrior was an incredible movie, one of the best of its year, great acting, and had more than one fight to watch. Both people had reasons they needed to win, like in “Grudge Match”, but they didn’t sugar coat the ending. They fought and a winner was chosen without either side backing down or doing anything but fighting to win. It was emotional and great, and fuck, I really want to watch Warrior now.

Grudge Match went the safe and boring route, and it should be judged as such.

Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart were pretty funny at their roles, but the ending of the movie sickens me enough to not care about any of that.

Get out of here wannabe emotional fighting movie. Just, just go away.

1 out of 4.

Snitch

Dwayne Johnson has a movie a month for the next few months. Seriously. Look it up. February, Snitch. March, GI Joe 2. April, Pain & Gain. May, Fast and the Furious 6.

Holy crap, that is a lot of rocks!

But what makes Snitch different? Well, in the ads for Snitch, I only saw that “Dwayne Johnson” was starring in it. That means it was not “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson” like you see most of the time. Pretty crazy right? Has he finally made the switch (minus those other three movies?) Probably not. But I will respect that and not defile him with the nickname in this review.

Rawk
Because The Rock would kick my ass if I defiled him.

John Matthews (Mr. Johnson) runs a construction company, built it himself, hells yeah. But he is divorced, because this is what drives plot. His ex Sylvie (Melina Kanakaredes) was able to keep the son Jason (Rafi Gavron) in the divorce, because John drove around a lot as a truck driver for his job. Damn, sucks. He has a new family though, a wife (Nadine Velazquez, solid solid upgrade) and a daughter there as well, but still wants to be in his sons life. He is about to go to college!

But his son does a dumb thing. He agrees to let his friend ship him a package of high quality drugs to his place, so he can pick it up later. Little did he know, that his friend got caught, and just snitched on Jason to reduce his own sentence. Jason didn’t want to help sell them, but agreed to help his friend, and now it looks like it was his idea! Sucks to suck. With federal minimum sentencing laws, he is looking up to 10 years in jail, despite the first time offense and no solid evidence. Unless he can snitch out someone else. The problem is, he doesn’t know any other drug dealers, and he is not willing to set up a friend.

Good morals, bad situation.

John wants to do anything to help his son. He is able to get the district attorney (or some equivalent title thing…Susan Sarandon) to reduce his son’s sentence if he helps set up an arrest himself. He just needs the help of one of his workers who used to be in on the drug game (Jon Bernthal) to get him started. Also featuring Barry Pepper as head of the local DEA thing and Michael Kenneth Williams as a big drug dealer guy.

Beard
By now you realize that if I see weird facial hair, I am going to post the weird facial hair.

First off, fuck this based on a true story nonsense. This time it is based on the fact that federal minimum sentencing is real, and it causes people to rat out other people maybe not actually involved. That is it. Go die, true story message. Die hard.

Snitch tries to go in two different directions, an action movie, and a drama where the father wants to do anything to help his son (like John Q, I guess. But more action). Part of the problem is that the action really isn’t there. The ads show lots of action, but that is mostly one and a half scenes of the movie, so I would definitely call action a stretch.

So that means we have a drama, folks.

A drama that isn’t that bad, but ehh, not to great either. Mr. Johnson actually great. Most of the supporting characters are so-so. The fact that this movie is just a strange way of saying that mandatory minimum sentences are bad, is kind of silly. They could have done it a lot better making it a more realistic picture, instead of the small action sideplot near the end.

Mr. Johnson did do great, as I said, but it would have been a better role for a frail guy. That is all. We are so ingrained in seeing Mr. Johnson as an action star, I can’t imagine him getting beaten up in this movie, or overcoming any difficulties by the end. Because he is Dwayne ‘The Friggan Dwayne Johnson’ Johnson.

2 out of 4.