Tag: Victor Garber

Rebel in the Rye

Before Rebel in the Rye, what I knew about J.D. Salinger could fit inside of an index card. Along with the first 200 digits of pi, I am sure. I knew he died, I knew he wrote Catcher in the Rye, and that is it.

Well, I also knew that he came out of hiding at some point recently and made the game show Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let’s Find Out!, but that is a different story, one that this film surprisingly chooses to ignore.

Needless to say, I have never read Catcher in the Rye. Never came up in my schooling and clearly wouldn’t be a book I rush off to read on my own. I like that fantasy stuff. The only reason I rushed to see this movie as a prescreener was due to the Hurricane hitting Houston and having no films in weeks. But hey, if anyone asks, say I said it was for the lead.

Type
And I can get pissed off watching someone write when I have not been writing for the same amount of time.

A long long time ago, when the earth was still green, a young J.D. (Nicholas Hoult) wants to be a writer. He is a wise alack, and from a rich house, and he has gotten kicked out of multiple colleges already for being a dick. But he gets to try again, thanks to privilege and wealth, and heads off to Columbia University. There, besides meeting with young ladies and party goers, he meets Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey), a professor who gets J.D. to reach his potential and actually write good short stories. He also runs a small short story publication and ends up publishing Salinger’s first work! Hooray! He is a professional writer!

But he wants more. He wants to be published in The New Yorker, the cream of the crop in terms of short stories. And when he finally gets a story good enough for them? Well, they go and offer notes and suggestions. They need his story to have a happy ending, not the dismal one he created. Well, that’s shit.

Other people love the short story though. They enjoy the character he created in that story, and Burnett himself suggests he needs to turn that character into an entire novel. Unfortunately, before that novel can happen, World War II and Pearl Harbor happens, so Salinger instead goes off to war! He sees some shit, he barely survives, and changes as a person. But he kept writing, and after overcoming some PTSD, finally publishes The Catcher in the Rye.

The rest? Well, the rest still isn’t so easy either.

Also featuring Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch, Victor Garber, Brian d’Arcy James, and Celeste Arias.

Spacey
Oh the joy of two men just giggling about words on pages.

Rebel in the Rye is the type of movie made for those who really want to know more about the author of a book they love. Salinger was known as a bit of a recluse, so seeing his story and why he became one is a journey on its own. However, without the context of Catcher, a lot of the film was lost of me.

The good news? I kind of want to read The Catcher in the Rye now, so I guess it cane make money off of me that way.

The beginning of the film took a real long while to get going. The whole thing was full of cliches really up until Salinger finally became a published author. It doesn’t stand apart from any generic 1930’s rich elite story. The acting from all of the side characters isn’t anything special.

However, when World War II happened, the film definitely started to turn. I could no longer imagine the lead as Hoult acting, but as a Salinger type person, so the transformation was working. It also became a lot of a better story, especially with the dealings of PTSD. At that point though, it was too little too late to turn this film into something amazing.

2 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}.

Self/Less

Oh hey, look at that! A movie title with two clear meanings so it probably means both!

Let’s see, Self/Less. Let’s look at it without the slash first, because that is easier. Selfless. So someone in this movie will do something very selfless for other people. Okay, cool, sounds like a hero.

Self/Less. Meaning maybe, that someone has less of a self. Maybe no self. Does someone lose their self in this film (and not just to the phat beats on the radio)? That’d be the easy guess.

In other news, this is like the fourth movie for Ryan Reynolds this year. Save some acting for the rest of us, jeez!

Thinks
Now go to your room and think about what you have done.

Before we get to Mr. Reynolds, let’s first talk about Damian (Ben Kingsley), a NYC real estate tycoon who amassed a huge fortune, and you know, built a lot of buildings. He is the head of a big company, kind of a shitty person, and has a bad relationship with his daughter, Claire (Michelle Dockery). He also has the cancers!

Thankfully, science is here and the rich can benefit! A group, led by Dr. Albright (Matthew Goode), wants to give those great thinkers a second chance and some extra years. They can grow bodies, transfer the mind of the great into the body of a young man, giving them more time to revolutionize the world! They would have to give up their past behind, of course, but they’d leave a small fortune for them to do whatever they want and become great again!

So now Damian is in a younger body (Reynolds), but it takes some time to get used to it. He has to go through rehab, to have his mind figure out how to use his body. He also gets strange flashes of hallucinations that are a side effect, but hey, they have pills to make those go away too! Yep. Life is awesome. Surely nothing is sinister about this operation.

Also featuring Brendan McCarthy, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Natalie Martinez, Victor Garber, and Derek Luke.

Nets
Hey man. You got something on your face.

Self/Less is one of those movies that likes to pretend it is smart and dealing with deep philosophical theories, when in reality, it is a dumb bad action movie. Yes, this psychological thriller drama is secretly just a bad action movie. After all, it didn’t have enough action to just be an action movie. Maybe 20-30% of the film is action movie, where the other percentage lies in the drama ethics focused feature. Unfortunately, the action was the worse part, because when it started, it seemingly came out of nowhere. Suddenly, new Damian is super strong, breaking toilets, busting down doors and patio decks just by running through them. He becomes a super hero, just because why not.

If the film eliminated most of the action and instead focused on the human elements, delving just a little bit into the consequences of their actions, this could have been a smart and through provoking film. Instead it is dumbed-down. The main character’s actions are seemingly completely random. He seems to give himself justification for going on an action-spree at the end, killing a lot of people, when ethically they aren’t even doing something that bad. This is a film where just some bad communication causes all of the problems, but at least half of that stems from the antagonist refusing to even listen.

Shit, even the whole sub plot involving figuring out what was inside the drug ended up being super pointless. The filmmakers must have had only a loose idea on what they wanted in a movie, then filled it with bad science and terrible motivations hoping it would bring in the summer blockbuster crowd.

I think what I am most disappointed in with this film is that the acting wasn’t even bad. Sure, I couldn’t understand everything Kingsley said early on, but he was an old cliche dying man. But Reynolds was actually pretty good in this film, but the acting is wasted on the terrible story. Self/Less is a movie that will end up being completely forgettable in a few months time, which I am looking forward to doing.

1 out of 4.

Milk

It took me a long long long time to finally watch Milk. Which is stupid, because I am also trying to watch movies nominated for Academy awards, and it was the last film 2008 for me to see. I wasn’t sure why it took so long originally, but now I definitely know.

Last year for Thanksgiving I reviewed the movie Butter, because it made sense in my head. So clearly I was meant to review Milk, for Thanksgiving this year. Arguably Milk has less to do with thanksgiving than Butter, but fuck it. Milk at least goes in the Mashed Potatoes y’all.

Basically, I am saying I have no idea what I want to review for 2014 Thanksgiving. Come on, we need some more food-ish based titles. Get your act together Hollywood.

Group
We also need more movies set in a time where hair ruled all.

Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) was the first openly gay man elected to a public office, in 1978 in San Francisco, California. In terms of a biography, the movie starts eight years earlier, when Harvey meets Scott Smith (James Franco), his first big love, and their decision to move to San Francisco. As soon as they do, they buy a property on Castro street and open up a camera shop, but they find that they are still not really welcome in the area.

Over time, Harvey becomes more and more of a political activist, and his shop becomes a sort of center of the gay community in the area. The police harass them though, despite no law breaking, so he decides it is the last straw and he must do something about it. He wants to run for City Supervisor, and introduce change in the area, and end the discrimination against gay culture.

But becoming an elected officially isn’t actually that easy. Since its a biography, you know he achieves it eventually, but you don’t know how hard it was to get to that point.

Victor Gerber plays the mayor, Josh Brolin another city supervisor named Dan White, Emile Hirsch plays Milk’s protege of sorts, Diego Luna another of Milk’s lovers, and Alison Pill as a lesbian campaign manager.

Speeh
His name is Harvey Milk, and he is here to recruit you. For his army.

I am a bit disappointed that this movie didn’t feature Sean Penn drinking milk, like, at all. It seems like the obvious scene to have. But I guess this is a serious film, honoring a man’s life, so they don’t want to do shit like that.

At the start of the movie, it took me awhile to really get in to it. A lot of events happen quickly to get the story set up properly, with Harvey, talking about his earlier life. But once the political activism started, that is truly where it got interesting for me. Where you see a man who knows he is doing the right thing fail over and over again, each time getting stronger after every loss. Getting smarter too, some of the tactics used were amazing. I am a bit surprised that the community kept going for Harvey after he failed a few times, because it shows many different individuals who probably would have been just as good as him, but they must have believed in him that strongly.

Sean Penn acted really well in this role, as he tends to do, so I guess at this point it is just standard.

The film also used actual footage of real events spliced into the real ones, normally I find it pretty tacky, but it was extremely well done this time. Footage of riots and interviews. At the end, they did the standard thing of showing what happened to the real individuals later on, and they spliced actual footage of the actors with their real life counter parts, which just looked great.

Milk is a great story, with great acting, and a great part of history that a lot of people might not know about.

3 out of 4.

Argo

Ben Affleck. Have you heard of him? He started as an up an coming actor in the 1990s, even won an academy award for writing, but then made a series of bad choices. He followed the Paycheck, got it on with J.Lo and became an easy laughing stock of Hollywood. Basically, he became synonymous with Canada jokes. Something that is joked about to seem cool, basically.

But then something happened. He directed a movie. Gone Baby Gone and The Town were both considered great hits. Now we haveArgo, and if it is any good, it could potentially cement himself as a great director (generally you need at least 3 good movies, in a row preferably).

Argo Fuck Yourself
And if it isn’t good, well then, Argo fuck yourself.

Back in the 1960s, Iran was fucked up. The film does a great explanation to catch you up to the events at hand though. Basically, the USA helped make a military coop, put a leader in charge who was horrible but loyal to the US. Eventually Iran gt their country back and the leader was brought back to US for protection, and was dying of cancer. Iran protested under their new leader, demanding the old one be brought back to be tried for his actions, but the US refused. They rioted at the US Embassy, eventually broke in and took everyone captive. Everyone, but six individuals who were able to escape (Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Kerry Bishe, Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham).

They find themselves in the house of the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), and become stowaways. Unfortunately for them, the fact that they escaped puts them in more danger than those who were captured! The whole world is looking at those captured hostages, so Iran knows they cant have them killed. But people who escaped and have been hiding out? They are clearly spies and can be killed. Well, shit.

Two months later, enter the CIA. They are brought in to help extract the individuals from Iran, lead by their best man, Tony Mendez (Affleck). Unfortunately, their best idea is a long shot. He will head to Iran, pretending to be part of a Canadian film crew looking to shoot a new sci-fi movie, called Argo, there. He will teach the captives their roles and they will just leave hopefully. But first they have to make it seem real. With the help of some Hollywood big wigs (John Goodman, Alan Arkin) and the head of the CIA (Bryan Cranston) they attempt a rescue that basically seems like a suicide mission.

Canadadad
Tip 2 on how to be Canadian: Apologize always and often.

One thing people ask me a lot if what is my favorite movie, and every time I say Chasing Amy. Clearly I am a fan of Affleck as an actor usually, I just think he made some bad decisions in his life (the first half decade of 2000, specifically). Most people would agree that he was the bomb in Phantoms as well.

Thankfully, Affleck lived up to his hype and both directed an amazing movie, while also acting the shit out of it. First off, the way the movie set up and explained all the history before the hostage situation was really good. I was worried never hearing of the Canadian Caper before would lessen the movie for me, but they quickly set it up while also making it easy to understand. The entire film puts you into the late 1970s, everything from the looks of the actors, to the language just seems to fit.

Sure, it is true the Canadian involvement is incredible downplayed, but movies aren’t meant to be historically accurate, just entertaining. Historically accurate movies tend to be documentaries.

I think I would call Argo one of my favorite movies of 2012, which is an amazing accomplishment with all of the big movies that have already been released this year.

4 out of 4.

The Entitled

When I first saw this movie, something crazy happened. It has zero ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (a site I never check, by the way. Who cares about other people’s opinions on movies? (Outside of you lovely people.)). IMDB was very similar. So as far as I could see, my first review of this movie may have been one of the…first reviews of this movie. It also lets me realize that most likely no one has heard of it!

Moon Landing
This must be what Buzz Lightyear and Lance Armstrong felt when they first landed on the moon.

This movie is about an underprivileged college student, Kevin Zegers (of AIR BUD fame. Bit more sinister in this movie) who teams up with two anarchists to kidnap the kids of three rich people (aka The Entitled). One kid each! Oh very exciting, I know. The three kids were on the way to meet their dads in a cabin for the weekend, before the kidnapping takes place. So throughout the movie it switches between the different groups, and we learn that not everything is as great as it appears to be. Two of the dads are also Ray Liotta and Victor Garber.

I will admit the beginning of the movie was kind of slow. It had a bunch of set up that didn’t make as much sense until the end. Kind of felt patchy and confusing. But about 30 minutes in, shit. got. real.

From then on I could only describe myself as being at the edge of my seat. I didn’t know what would happen, and couldn’t guess anything right. It was well paced at that point and had a lot of great conflict between the characters. And yes some people. Great movie.

3 out of 4.