Tag: Yul Vazquez


Gringo had something funny occur with their PR screening ahead of time. Our screening wasn’t until the week of release, like normal, but they actually sent out the real invite for it over a month early. Now, normally, these invites are a week to two max early. If any earlier, we get save the date notes or whatever to let you know it is coming up, but this was just the regular invite to respond to for RSVP purposes.

So of course I accepted, and the only reason it is much later a review is because I was sick that day, couldn’t go, and had to watch it weeks later in the theaters. I wanted to see Gringo, it looked fun, and sure, it had a plug on The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale. Let that be a lesson for you, advertising can work. Why else would I still be using old spice body wash every day?

Gringo has an interesting name, given what I think I know what it means, and that we had a film awhile ago called Get The Gringo, which was also a bit better than anticipated. I had high hopes for Gringo given it setting, its very fun looking cast, and of course, because of Mr. Copley adding his own weird style.

WHich One
Which one is the gringo though, really?

Our story is about Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo), a man who never can catch a break. He has a high job in a pharmaceutical company,but he isn’t rolling in the dough like the people in the higher levels. His wife (Thandie Newton) is an interior decorator, but only has one client and is bleeding their money. His boss (Joel Edgerton), is a hardass, a dickwad, and all of the body parts between those two. But he makes that money, he is good friends with Harold, and he got him the job in the first place.

Harold has to work and travel to Mexico frequently for their job, where they have the pharmaceutical factory set up. They are making a weed pill, so to speak, so that when America starts lifting those bans, they will have the product and infrastructure in place to take advantage of the now open market.

Because we are talking about drugs and Mexico, it should be obvious that the Cartel is also involved. Harold doesn’t know about that of course, he is a good guy, but when dealing with his boss’s mistakes, he is about to see how little he matters in the grand scheme of events.

Also starring Carlos Corona, Alan Ruck, Kenneth Choi, Sharlto Copley, Charlize Theron, Melonie Diaz, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, and Yul Vazquez.

Ooooh, looks like they finally GOT THE GRINGO! Oh, wrong movie. Sorry.

Gringo is an example of a story with a lot of separate plot lines amongst the characters, where no one character is sure of what is actually going on, and all the chaos that occurs from these miscommunications and lies. But also, with death, violence, and comedy. So yeah, going for a Taratino film feel.

Out of all the many cast members, the only one to really shine is our star, Oyelowo, who seems to have perfected that scream freak out look that he gets to do over and over in the film as he continues to get shit upon. Because that is the movie. Bad things happening to his character, despite being a relatively good guy, and him never getting out of his situation.

If you hate crazy plot lines, you still might enjoy it for Oyelowo’s performance, where he seemed to show a different side of him. A more excited side, compared to more of his very serious roles recently.

The movie did feel quite long, given the twists and turns along the way. And hey, I didn’t know where it was going most of the time. So it was a surprising thrill ride that did still have me on the edge of my seat. A lot of bad people in this one, and one guy to root for. A good classic film position to be in.

Give Gringo a shot, at least just once.

3 out of 4.

Last Flag Flying

Last Flag Flying is, unfortunately, a film that came and went without a lot of fanfare. Everything that Richard Linklater touches should be given a goddamn parade, especially true given his last three films being Everybody Wants Some!!, Boyhood, and Before Midnight. There should be 76 bloody trombones to announce his films at this point.

And somehow I missed this one. I didn’t even know he had a film coming out. I saw the poster, thought it looked interesting, and didn’t jump right on it not knowing who was really involved.

Speaking of that, check out the main poster/DVD cover right here. If you only glance at it quickly, you might make the same mistake as I did. I actually assumed Colin Farrell was standing in the middle, with a nice moustache. I was very surprised to watch this movie and see absolutely no Farrell.

This picture still does not have me convinced.

The film brings us way back to the year of 2003 in the month of October. A bartender, Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) is doing his thing, when in walks a weirder fellow, Larry Shepherd (Steve Carell) walks in and continues to try to talk to him. After a bit it turns out they know each other, from way back. From ‘Nam, except Larry was called Doc then.

Ah yes, war buddies, reuniting after over 30 years, because the internet lets people find each other. After a night of drinking, they also go see a different war buddy, Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), who yes, found Jesus, got himself a real family with grandkids at this point.

The real reason Doc has found these two gentlemen is unfortunately sad news. Doc had a son who joined the military as well, but he has returned from Afghanistan dead and is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. A big honor, but with no one left in his life, Doc needs a few of his friends to come with him on this moment. This moment that they all feared in their own lives, but in a later generation.

It is time for a reunion, to see how they have changed, and how they can still grow together.

Also starring J. Quinton Johnson, Deanna Reed-Foster, and Yul Vazquez.

Okay, Farrell can totally be the type of person to method act as Carell acting right?

On any given day, depending on my mood, this might have been a 4 out of 4 film. Certainly more likely if I saw it in theaters without a baby running around. Because this film has a lot going on for it.

We have a relatively simple plot line, one dealing with burying a child so it easily gains some powerful moments. We have a small number of characters and a long backstory and place to connect them. It is clearly this is going to be a film about growth, despite three men in their late ages. About friendship. And a little bit about forgiveness.

A lot of powerful themes, especially with the war background behind them all. How three different veterans have had their lives unfold since the war. I will admit, I cried at one point in the film, and I practically cried writing the plot description, which is a strange sensation that I have never done before.

And yet, at times it did seem to drag a little bit. Or maybe they relied too much on Cranston’s potty mouth. Or the fact that it seems to be about Carell’s character, but there is a lot more focus/story given to the side characters. It is really hard to say why it never went into the love territory. However, it is a film that I would watch again and rexamine over time, and honestly, I hope it grows on me more.

3 out of 4.

The Infiltrator

I tried to go into The Infiltrator blind, like a perfect critic, but I ended up reading the IMDB page for both a brief plot analysis and actors. I’m sorry, I failed, I’m not perfect.

The film is directed by Brad Furman, who did Runner Runner and The Lincoln Lawyer, both vary different films in terms of quality and subject matter. Given the cast involved, I certainly hope this is more of a Lincoln Lawyer than a Runner Runner.

Shit, why is this movie not an alliterative title? He could have a thing going. I, Infiltrator would work. Or Informative Infiltrator, that would be fun. But we couldn’t do Informant + Infiltrator, that is too close to just The Informant.

Money Deal Cash Yo
Just looking at the image makes me feel 10 monies more worth.

Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), totally a real dude, was a U.S. customs agent who worked in Tampa, Florida in the 1980s. He was one of those guys trying to get Pablo Escobar, to stop so much cocaine from getting in to the US, because Reagan said so. He is getting old and could retire, but he finally has a good idea to “Get these guys!” for good. Despite what his wife (Juliet Aubrey) wants.

He is going to follow the money. Which sure, seems obvious now, but apparently his idea was cutting edge. He got approval from the boss (Amy Ryan) and has to team up with Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), a kind of crummy agent but who currently has an undercover role in the organization to get him in.

Robert just has to pretend to be a money launderer. Once he gets in the ground level of the business, like with the Gonzalos (Rubén Ochandiano, Simón Andreu), he can then get to Javier Ospina (Yul Vazquez), then a big name like Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) and his wife (Elena Anaya)! Speaking of wives, Robert said he only had a fiance, so they had to bring in an agent (Diane Kruger) to pretend to be that as well in order to keep his story straight.

Another agent is played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, some corrupt bankers by Art Malik, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Tim Dutton. Olympia Dukakis is his aunt, Joseph Gilgun his actual bad guy body guard, and Michael Paré with a smaller role.

I was just wondering why that “guy from Miss Congeniality” didn’t have a bigger career. Now look at him, drug lord!

Halfway through the movie I still wasn’t sure what I thought about it. My mind was going everywhere. The acting was good from Cranston, Leguizamo, Bratt, and Kruger, yes. But the story felt like it was full of annoying cliches that kept getting on my nerves.

Of course, given that this is a “True Story” I don’t know how many of the cliches ended up being real or not. But one that really bugs me is that since The Sopranos, it seems that every drama story needs to have extreme marital tension or drama, potentially up to divorce. From the text at the end of the movie, it looked like all of that was completely added in for shitty tension and it gets old.

We had silly lines like the wife needing a promise that this would be the last mission (of course, because he is old and we need the movie) and Cranston becoming someone completely different (despite going undercover a lot). There was a terrible scene involving a wedding cake that just was cringe inducing and took me out of the film, it just seemed so silly to drive a simple point home.

Dumb cliches and scenes aside, the ending really drove this movie home into something better. The event where they were able to get a lot of the criminals under one roof was very emotional. They turned these “bad guys” into real people, with families, reason for working with drugs and more. And they all got busted equally. It didn’t drive home the point enough that the War on Drugs in itself is a complete failure, but it makes sense that Robert Mazur wouldn’t mention that in a book where he is the hero.

Pretty good acting and a strong ending. Maybe the film is a bit too long with some cringey moments, but overall it was really enjoyable and a good couple of hours.

3 out of 4.