Django Unchained – Directed by the man himself, Quentin Tarantino

django_unchained_movie_poster_by_artoftu-d5pvahk-711x1024Man, there sure is a lot of cool art that is inspired by this movie, I found this poster on the second page of pictures when I googled it, and it makes sense – this is a movie that inspires creativity, because damn if it isn’t one of the most creative things I’ve seen in years. And of course it is, why would we expect anything less from Quentin Tarantino by now? I don’t even think I need to link you his name, you know who he is, unless you’ve been living under a rock for about the past 20 years. Pulp Fiction is probably the best disturbing movie ever made, and his penchant for making extremely-almost-to-the-point-that-its-comical violence explode off the screen has been around since his first (and probably still my favorite) movie, Reservoir Dogs. If you haven’t seen that one, for gods sake turn off this review and go buy it $4 at wal mart, and start there. Because I’m not entirely sure how one would handle everything that’s going on in this movie if you didn’t first have an idea of what kind of movies Tarantino sets out to make, because he is most assuredly a one of a kind film maker. And of course that’s a good thing. If we had ten more like him in Hollywood I’d imagine we wouldn’t get as much crap coming out like we do now – for gods sake, I linked you to the movie The Call there once, just watch the trailer for that pile of complete s***. It’s ass like that that gets released that makes me all the more thankful for Tarantino and his special brand of weird.

Django-Unchained-2 I’m pretty sure I could just populate this review with awesome art from the internet art nerds and you would all be ok with it. You would? Ok then. So anyways, we have this monster of a movie that Tarantino has apparently wanted to do a Western for quite a while, and some of the reasons for that are in this really cool interview with him that I found when I was obsessing about him after I saw this two days after Christmas. It talks about the various aspects of how to make a good Western, on which Quentin nearly nails all of them. Badass superhero like protagonist? Yep. Misson for revenge because someone wronged him and/or his wife? Of course. Evil bad guy with a charming air about him, to the point of you ALMOST maybe liking him in some scenes? Who better than the great Leonardo DiCaprio to play something like that. He even has a cool villainous name, Calvin Candie. But the real twist here, the sheer awesomeness of Tarantino, is that he added his own brand of crazy to this formula that would have already worked had it not had something like this, but because of its inclusion the movie is elevated to near classic levels – and I’m speaking about the walking, talking, shooting, nearly as hardcore badass as the main badass maguffin himself, Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, who you should already know about, but if you didn’t, you will now.

django-unchained-1c And not just because of my bigass picture here, either. So the character of King is pretty much unnecessary in a common Western, and here’s why. We already have the vengeful hero, a slave in the form of Django, who’s wife was taken from him and sold to another plantation. What better form of vengeance could there be than someone who was a slave? Of course he’s angry, of course he has more than enough reason to want to kill nearly every white man he comes across for putting him in this situation. But instead of him simply escaping his captors and going on a rampage, he is helped along by Mr. Maguffin, Schultz. And what a spectacular maguffin he is. You are probably yelling his name is KING stupid, NOT MAGUFFIN, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?! By now – and don’t worry, I’m getting to it. You see, King knows pretty much everything. He travels the country in his “dentist cart”, giant plastic tooth flopping over top of his wagon not withheld, and, he pretty much knows EVERYTHING. He is a bounty hunter, who magically produces documents for whomever he has killed, and never suffers any consequences for it. He is magically in the middle of some random forest at the beginning because he needs Django to help him track down two particularly valuable targets, who just so happen to be the brothers that were responsible for taking Django and his wife, Broomhilda (I’m serious, that is really her name in this – but in typical Tarantino fashion, there is even a reason for THAT). It is within the first 45 minutes that Django is rescued, the two become friends, and decide to spend the winter tracking down various bounties, since Django seems to have a certain skill at killing the white folk – again, what slave wouldn’t? The main reason I call King the maguffin however, is because he is the one who tells us what we are watching. We are watching a fairy tale that happens to take place in the slave ridden south. That’s probably never done before, it might have been, but hey, I don’t watch every movie there ever has been, although if life didn’t get in the way, I’d certainly give that task my best damn try I could until my eyes fall off. And King pretty much all but leans to the camera and tells us this when he tells Django about how is pretty much a hero from a german fable and hell, he even has his own Broomhilda, that’s the same name in the fairy tale yo! Hence the significance of her name. He tells us all of the things we need to know, and moves the story along wherever it needs to be, and Waltz does it in such an elegant and amazing way (you might even say he, he…WALTZ’s us there? eh, eh?) that you don’t even care that he’s a maguffin. If he’s a plot device, well then he’s just about the best darn tootin’ plot device there ever has been.

DJANGO UNCHAINED And then there’s this guy of course, who will pretty much never let you down in a movie. Come to think of it, I really don’t think he ever has. Well, I’m no longer a fan of Titanic, but, six times in a theater will do that to you. No for real, I saw it that many times, that really happened. But anyways – Candie is every bit the insane villain you want him to be. This scene in particular is disturbing and hard to watch, I won’t ruin anything for you, but that is another staple of Tarantino’s films – you are gonna be uncomfortable a handle of times when you watch them, he wants you to be. I’d imagine he’d probably even laugh at you if he saw you squirm in your seat. He’s a brilliant filmmaker, of course, I certainly hope I’ve established that by now – but he loves the ultra violence and doesn’t shy away from some downright ridiculous violent situations, and this movie is no exception. There is this scene, and pretty much the last 3rd of the movie is full of insane, blood splattering shootouts leading right up until the end. This is a revenge tale so naturally people are going to die, some in more interesting ways than others, I can’t ruin anything for you here as much as I would love to, because you need to see this movie.

django-unchained Before I get to talking more about the violent shootouts, because if there is one thing in movies that I truly love, its a violent shootout, we’ll talk about this guy. Because, here’s the truth my loyal readers – I don’t like Jamie Foxx. I really don’t. I don’t like that he thinks hes fancy enough to spell his name with two x’s, I think Ray was HIGHLY EXTREMELY over rated and there were MUCH better movies deserving your respect made in 2004 than that one, and for gods sake he had an awful TV show. I think that Denzel is a far better actor and for some reason Foxx almost gets more attention. But enough ranting, because – he is fantastic in this movie. THIS movie is his best role, by far and away, absolutely no contest. He is the hardcore badass, he is shocking in some scenes like he needs to be, and he shows us that this dude has RANGE. He shocks some of the people on screen in some scenes, and he will shock you too. He is brutal, he is violent, he is an awesome borderline anti-hero. I wouldn’t even be mad at an Oscar nomination for this performance, because as much as I love Waltz and his character, I’m not sure if a maguffin has ever been awarded an Oscar. First time for everything though, amiright? I had to gush a little about Foxx’s performance because like I said, I expected him to be the weakest link in this trio of actors, and instead he proved to be nearly the strongest.

And what else to say – oh, I cannot end this review without talking about a scene where I honestly yelled out loud in the theater. I didn’t care who heard me, I was so damn excited. Now, along with Tarantino’s genius for violence, dialogue, pretty much freakin’ everything, we also have his excellent choices in soundtrack. That definitely goes all the way back to Reservoir Dogs and of course we all remember some of the great stuff that played in Pulp Fiction, and Django Unchained has some amazing stuff in it, some of it produced just for this movie (a first with Tarantino), but one scene in particular….man. Now, lets get something straight here before I start getting too long winded – I love me some rap. I love the hip-hop. I am a bit of a rap fiend even, and I’m not even ashamed of it. So, when I tell you that, during what could be argued as the climax of the movie, during an extremely violent, blood and bullets flying everywhere scene, when an old Tupac Shakur song came blaring through the movie theater speakers, I don’t think its a stretch to tell you that I got chills. And I honestly yelled “OH, MY, GOD. IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?! NO WAY. DUDE.” when I heard that. It is arguably the most memorable thing I’ve seen in theaters all of last year, and I still say AWESOME! to myself when I think about it. Spot on. When you think about how this movie is about slavery, overcoming that, black empowerment, etc, etc, etc, who better to establish that in a movie than Tupac Shakur? Absolutely incredible, the best choice you could make for a movie of this caliber. That’s it, I’m done gushing about this scene.

So Tarantino has done it here, most assuredly. I never thought anything would top Reservoir Dogs for me, but this one very nearly has. My one and only complaint is that it’s a bit overlong – by about, a half hour or so. This movie clocks in at nearly three hours, and it could have been done in oh, say, two hours and 15. But again, we expect this sort of thing from Tarantino anymore – he is a self-confessed self indulgent film maker, he started as a film nerd and he shows us that he still is on camera, and really, you can’t fault him for it. Why get mad at someone for wanting to hold on to their masterpiece just a few minutes longer? Because I think this IS Tarantino’s masterpiece, and unlike that OTHER guy who ended his movie 656 different times, I can’t hate on Tarantino too much for keeping this one running a little bit too long. It’s still a brilliant movie, and I hope it picks up at least a couple Oscars next month. Have I made my case? I think I have. Go see this one immediately.


The verdict – 4-stars


Top 10 Movies of 2012 – FINALLY!

I know I’ve been away for a bit, I’ll use the “trying to collect my thoughts from the awesomeness of all the movies coming out in December plus holidays” excuse on this one, but really there is no excuse for me remaining silent on all the great stuff that came out in the past 5 weeks, so I’ll just say that it will not happen again, and there will be a review freakin’ BLOWOUT this week – starting with some of the ones I skipped over on my top ten of 2012 list, although most of em you can find on here, particularly the top ones (except Django Unchained, which will be remedied today). So, without anymore grovelling to try and get you to come back and pay attention to my site once more, here is, my TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2012 WITH ALSO TOO MANY HONORABLE MENTIONS AT THE END:

10. seeking a friend buckwalter 615 focus  Seeking a Friend for the End of The World – I reviewed this one when I first saw it, and you can see how well it did on rotten tomatoes too, which is, how you say, not so good. I’m not really sure why, because this was a criminally underappreciated movie from last year and is one that any sad sack romantic, or anyone with even a passing interest in the apocalypse should see. It’s a different take on all of that, and it is funny, sad, insightful, and overall, wonderful. I said lots of nice things about it already in my review for it back in October, so go there if you want to read more reasons why you should watch it, because you SHOULD.

9. the grey Movie Wallpaper 1920x1080 The Grey – Here’s one I haven’t reviewed on here yet, but I will, don’t worry. This was one that I almost forgot about because it came out way back in January of last year, but man, what a ride this movie was. I originally went into this one just expecting TAKEN 2 (since that movie wasn’t out or even announced yet) : THIS TIME HE FIGHTS WOLVES INSTEAD OF DUDES. But man, how wrong I was. My boy Liam has an excellently underplayed performance here, not quite a departure from his usual because you always know he’s going to be a badass at some point, but man, this movie was an intense ride from start to finish. It is not for the weak, that’s for sure, and it is definitely not what you would expect. The ending is brilliant, exactly as it should be, and was nearly as controversial as the ending to No Country For Old Men…which, in my opinion, aside from Lost In Translation, is one of the best endings to any movie ever (spoiler alert, all of those endings are controversial, and most people don’t like them). It’s that good. See it, just uh, don’t expect to be laughing much when you do.

8. End-of-Watch-poster1 End of Watch – This was another one I had a long winded review for, I’ve said enough about it. This one was unexpected, but my god was it incredible, and it was ALSO intense, just not on the same level as The Grey. It also did really well on Rotten Tomatoes, and for good reasons. The chemistry between the two buds in this movie is reason alone to check it out – you wish you had a friendship like they do. It’s out on blu ray next week apparently, so you should probably just go ahead and buy it.

7. movies_liberal_arts_poster Liberal Arts – My last review before I shut down for a bit, you know I said lots of great things about this one. This one, I will admit, is more of a personal opinion choice, because I can relate to it, more so than it is something that will blow your mind, like the last three movies will. It’s a simple movie, but people mostly liked it, and hey, Lost in Translation and Once are simple movies as well, and they are two of my favorites of all time. You don’t need to have explosions and a big grandiose plot to get my attention, or to make a memorable impression on me (although I DO love explosions, I’m just sayin’). And Ted from How I Met Your Mother created a great simple little movie here – I didn’t even like the guy much until this movie, to be totally honest with you. But if his second writing and directing dealie is this good, then he’s one to watch for sure.

6. The-Cabin-In-The-Woods-new-poster Cabin in the Woods – for many months after I saw this, this was my #1 movie of 2012. That’s a testament to how great last year was for movies, but also to how fantastic this movie was. You’ve never seen a scary movie like this. I will review this one soon as well, because it comes close to making my top 10 of all time, and after I watch it a few more times this year, it might even earn a spot. It’s that good. I even hesitate to cram it into the “horror” genre, because man, there are just so many of those that are BAD. I don’t want it in a genre with movies like THE BED THAT EATS, when it transcends them so well. This movie is hilarious, it is inspired, it really is just…genius. Joss Whedon IS a genius, my fellow nerds and I have known this for quite some time now, but this movie, as well as The Avengers this year both written AND directed by him, just demonstrates that we are truly blessed to have this guy in Hollywood. I won’t ruin anything for you about this movie here OR in my inevitable review, because you just have to see it for yourself, and have your perception forever changed on what a scary movie can be. And after you see it, come talk to me about that ending, cuz, how about it, eh?

5. 13895633 Silver Linings Playbook – I’m going to watch this one about three more times just this week, and I will review this one ASAP. Because, my god was it good. I know the picture I chose was weird, I’m pretty…pretty sure it might not be playing at all those places anymore, but hey if you live in California, give em a call and maybe it is! And then send me a ticket to come visit, so I can actually see incredible stuff like this in theaters and not have to resort to…other, less legal means of seeing it. Because I simply HAD to see this one and couldn’t wait any longer for it to maybe show up at my podunk theater in my podunk town. I like the word podunk, don’t you? But anyways, I’ll toss this out there right away – Oscar WIN, not just the nomination, for my tied for favorite person in Hollywood right now, Jennifer Lawrence (Jessica Chastain is tied with her, btw). I always knew she had it in her – how good was Winter’s Bone a few years ago, when she was only SEVENTEEN, for gods sake?! But I use a word I usually don’t like here – she is a revelation in this movie. She’s a force of nature. Every scene she is in she steals, and hey, Bradley Cooper is great in it too, a pretty big departure from his standard role as well – although, not TOO far – he’s still sort of that arrogant jerk that you would probably still want to be friends with) and I wouldn’t even be mad at an Oscar nomination for him for this either – but we all know who’s gonna win THAT one this year, but, man. This movie is hilarious, it is dark, it is sad, it is…LIFE, man! Not to mention Robert DeNiro FINALLY playing to his talents instead of playing in all those garbage comedies he’s been known for the past years – how about a best supporting actor for him too? MY GOD this movie was good. I’ll gush about it (hopefully in 1500 words or less, but no guarantees!) more in my review, but in the meantime, see this by any means necessary.

4. Cover Argo Argo – If there was any movie that was more intense than The Grey, it was this one – and in such a different, brilliant way too. I don’t think Affleck is up for best director for this movie – and that is CRIMINAL, my friends. And this is ME saying that, I don’t even like the freakin’ guy! The fact that the idiot who played in Gigli and other piles of crap found his true calling with directing should be recognized by the Academy, because good lord did he do an awesome job on this movie. I already praised it, I already told you to see it, so will 96% of all the critics out there, so just go ahead and do it. Hell, just buy this one too.

3. django-unchained-poster-e1357542813658 Django Unchained – This is another one I haven’t reviewed, and something I will fix this week. This poster sums it up well – this is the man himself, Quentin Tarantino’s version of a fairy tale in the west, and is it ever awesome – it is extremely violent of course, but it has characters you will be discussing for weeks, it has possibly the best maguffin ever put in film in the form of the character portrayed by Christoph Waltz, appropriately named “King”, and what is easily Jamie Foxx’ best performance to date, yes, even over Ray, which I think is highly over rated. Only a director like Tarantino could take a story about slavery like this and have it work on so many levels. It’s a bit overlong – but which of his movies aren’t, he’s a bit of a self indulgent film maker and he always will be – but I (and you) could care less by the end of this movie. It is fantastic, and the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten aside from maybe my first Nintendo.

2. the_perks_of_being_a_wallflower_quote_1The Perks of Being a Wallflower – speaking of overlong, my review for this movie was, because I loved it. This one IS in my top 10 movies of all time, it blew me away, and I simply cannot wait to own it next month right after Valentine’s Day, which I hate. This movie will cheer me up on that awful wretched stupid pointless holiday. This movie will cheer me up five or ten years from now. It is pretty much a masterpiece on many levels for me, and most of the critics agree with me. And if you were a big dork growing up like I was, you will love it all the more. You must see this movie.

1. skyfall Skyfall – C’mon, like it would have been anything else. There was a late contenda in the form of Django, but nothing could top this movie for me last year. I’m not even sure if anything can THIS year – although there will certainly be a fighter come May. This is the best action movie I have ever seen, this is easily the best Bond movie, this is flat out one of the best MOVIES I have ever seen. It cracks my top 5 of all time, it’s that good. I’ve seen it four times in theaters and sadly only once in IMAX, and I will see it at least ten more when I buy it at midnight the day it comes out. And it isn’t just for Bond fans – it is for everyone. Much like a surprising amount of people, male and female alike, loved The Avengers, you will love this too. I don’t know what Oscars it will be up for but I hope it at least is nominated for a few – hows about a supporting actress nod for Judi Dench in this? She’d deserve it. I am also not alone in my gushing about this movie, pretty much everyone loved it. You will too – even if you don’t care about James Bond.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: There are so many of these that I should probably just do an 11-15, which, screw it, I will, but I’m going to say less about them than my top 10:

11. The Avengers – I mentioned enough up there, didn’t I? Obviously I loved it. I saw it in theaters four times too, it was my go-to movie for about two months when nothing was playing in theaters.

12. Dark Knight Rises – people probably wondered where this would show up for me. It wasn’t as good as Dark Knight, which is the best comic book movie ever made and possibly ever will be made, but it’s close enough. It’s also a bit overlong and could do with some editing, but that doesn’t make it any less great, it is.

13. Prometheus – this was a movie I didn’t like right when I left the midnight premiere….yet found myself thinking about it days, weeks, months later. I’ve only seen it once which is somewhat criminal for a movie I’ve thought so much about, and it is for that reason, that I still think about it when most movies are long forgotten, that I put it solidly at 13. It’s worth seeing just for the controversy, and maybe, to make you think too.

14. Moonrise Kingdom – like I could leave a new Wes Anderson movie out of a list of the best of the year, lets be serious. It had some wonderful imagery that stuck with me weeks after, and damn if it isn’t just all around pretty on blu ray.

15. Flight – this is MY pic for the best male performance of the year, give Denzel his second Oscar for this one, but sadly it won’t happen.

More honorable mentions – Wreck-It Ralph (that would be #16), Chronicle (for being incredibly original on such a small budget, hope to see more from that director), The Woman in Black (for being pretty much downright TERRIFYING – probably the best scary movie of last year, who knew Harry Potter had a scary movie in him?!), John Carter (go ahead and judge and make fun, I thought it was pretty much brilliant, it was under rated and a sleeper in my opinion, its sad we likely won’t see any more of them), Take This Waltz, Project X (guess I was sort of alone on that one, critics hated that one, yikes), Pitch Perfect, Wrath of the Titans (another one I think was under rated – this movie ruled! Zeus and Hades wreckin shop together, c’mon now!) Martha Marcy May Marlene (if only for being so STRANGE!) and man, probably a lot more. Comments are open, friends! Tell me if I missed one, if my list sucks, whatever. 2012 was probably the best year we’ve had for movies in the past five years or so, for real, so I’m sure I missed at least another 20 or more great movies. But man, what a year. Here’s hoping 2013 is just as good, a tall order!

Liberal Arts – Yet another late contenda’ for my favorite movie of 2012! – Directed by Josh Radnor

220px-Liberal_Arts_FilmPoster Here’s another movie I hadn’t really heard of until I started flipping through the indie movies section on demand, and remembered I had a coupon for a free movie. I’m not a really big fan of Josh Radnor, to be totally honest with you. I think How I Met Your Mother is a decent, passable show at best, but its certainly HIGHLY over rated and doesn’t deserve all the popularity it has these days. It should have ended seasons ago, it’s mostly uninspired stuff that has been done better with shows like Friends, which was obviously what the show tried to copy. So if this movie didn’t have Elizabeth Olsen’s name attached to it, I would have easily passed on this one. Much like Randy Quaid is the GOOD Quaid, Elizabeth Olsen is the GOOD Olsen, yes she’s related to those pill-popping too skinny untalented Olsen sisters we don’t hear too much about anymore (thank god). Surprisingly, she has been good in every movie that I’ve seen her in so far. Now, two of those movies I linked you to there were, how you say, not so good. Silent House in particular wasn’t all that special, but her performance was the best part, just like in the incredibly odd but you should probably see anyways Martha Marcy May Marlene. The other one with the super dumb name – Peace Love and MISunderstanding, see what they did there? Ha ha! A play on words! Everyone laugh! was only decent because of her and yet another actress that I love, Catherine Keener. But the bottom line here is, kid’s got talent. Like, a lot of it. Like, the best young person to come along in movies since Carey Mulligan was in An Education a couple years ago. Them’s big words, and if you haven’t already seen that movie, first of all shame on you, and second, as per usual, for gods sake, turn this review off this lesser movie and go rent that first. It was one of the best movies of 2009, and she got compared to Aubrey Hepburn often in the reviews for that movie. AUDREY HEPBURN people! If you don’t know who she is or at least know of her legacy, then I will say GOOD DAY to you sir!

downloaded That’s Elizabeth, and yes, she’s very pretty. But with her in movies, it’s a lot more than that…well, ‘cept maybe for Silent House where she wears a low cut tanktop the entire movie and the camera is often centered on her boobs. But hey, I’m not the director, I didn’t do it! He just knew he had a kinda lame story so he was workin with what he had. Elizabeth is way more than just someone who can fill out a tanktop however, and this movie showcases her talent the best of all her films so far. She plays an entirely too smart 19 year old named um…Zibby. Yeah, for real, that’s her name. Zibby. Zib Zab. But, moving on, she meets Jesse, who is 35 and is working rather unhappily in New York, when he comes to Ohio to honor his favorite professor who is retiring, played by Richard Jenkins. Now, if Elizabeth’s name on the cover wouldn’t have quite sold me, it was Jenkin’s name that ultimately did. This guy can do no wrong. He was absolutely meant to play a role like this, a mentor/advisor role to Radnor’s character, because man, just look at the guy. He just has that trustworthy, down-to-earth face that makes you want to be his friend. Every role I’ve seen him is fantastic, from the hilarious turn he had in Cabin In The Woods (another one of my favorite movies from this year, by the way), to yet another movie that is far better than this one, called The Visitor. Hell, he is even great in his bit part in the (I’ll even say, underrated) movie Friends With Benefits.  The Visitor was where I first noticed this excellent actor, and, like An Education, it is also a far superior movie to this one. So Jenkins plays the retiring professor, and of course, every scene he is in is fantastic, particularly when the plot gets going and he again tries to fulfill the mentor role with Jesse.

14LIBERAL_SPAN-articleLarge So this movie could easily fall into the typical ol’ bag of older dude falls for a girl who is too young, gets some sort of life revelation from banging her, they are better or worse off in the end, and scene. This movie doesn’t go that route, and that’s why I call it one of the best of 2012. It takes some unexpected turns with this story that we have probably all seen before, and that is why it’s memorable, and you should check it out. So Jesse meets Zib Zab because her parents are good friends of Professor Hoberg (Jenkins), and it’s immediate from the start they have a connection – but we aren’t given the traditional “meetcute” here, which is good. They just happen to have a decent talk over dinner. I also have to mention someone else in this movie, who also steals the two scenes he is in – Zac Efron and his character, Nat. Now, I like this guy, to be honest with you. People be hatin’ on my boy Efron, but Charlie St. Cloud wasn’t a half bad movie at all, and he is absolutely hilarious as the…I don’t even know what to call him. He seems like a big pothead, some weirdo that just hangs out on benches late at night, and Jesse happens to stumble upon him as he’s wandering campus, but he only drinks water. He’s so much more than a stereotypical pothead or “mystical” figure in a movie, even Jesse himself proclaims “I’m not even sure if you are real” later on, and hell, I’m not even sure if he was. But he steals every scene he is in, and I’d even say this is his best role yet – even though he’s only around for about 10 minutes. So it is Nat that gets Jesse to a college party where he, of course, stumbles on Zib Zab again, and the friendship is on.

But it isn’t a romance right away, not at all. They have a lot to talk about, they are both passionate about a lot of things, him mostly books, her mostly music because of this “great music survey class I took last summer”. Jesse, much like many of us, myself very much included, is still 19 at heart. Jenkins’ character flat out says that he is later in the movie. My Dad has told me this before as well. While we are “grown-up”, we never really want to become adults, it just happens. So of course Jesse has a natural attraction to Zib Zab, and not just because she’s beautiful either – this is another thing that the movie does well that you might not expect. Their attraction increases because of the letters they write to each other. Zibble Zib decides to give him a mixtape (HA!) for his trip back to New York and her address, and demands that she write him a handwritten letter. This, frankly, is awesome. I used to have a penpal or two in my day and I’ll admit it, in this technological age no one does stuff like this anymore, we text or facebook message or whatever, and sure that’s all very nice and convenient, but it’s also very impersonal. I don’t think a single text was sent in this movie. And I love that about it. The scenes with the letters they are writing are brilliant, yes its a montage, no I didn’t mind because it’s on such a higher level than most romantic comedies – though I don’t even consider this movie one of those. Their discussion on music is great, and makes me miss the great conversations that I used to have with some people, and maybe the ones that I try to force on others – of course things like this don’t often happen like they do in the movies, but I loved it anyways.

Liberal_Arts So these letters escalate and eventually it is (naturally, being that she is 19 years old) Zibbits that decides to make the first move, and he is on the road to see her again. Things take quite an unexpected turn here, at least they did for me – and this is why I will still think about this movie days later. I actually hesitate to throw down a gauntlet such as this – but parts of this movie actually reminded me of Lost In Translation. I’m not sure if it’s possible for me to throw down a bigger gauntlet (man, wish I had a pair of gauntlets, how sweet would that be, I mean seriously) than that, because that is my favorite movie of all time. #1, no other contenders. This movie isn’t on that caliber – but damn if it doesn’t make a good case to be compared to it. Older man strikes up an unlikely friendship with a whip-smart (always loved that term) younger girl, could be romance, could be not. The way this movie could have gone were it to fall into cliche and the way it ultimately does is really a thing to behold. I’m not going to reveal much more, hell I might have already revealed too much already, but I will say that what happens between these two is exactly what should be, and while the movie hangs on a little too long toward the end, I think it could have clocked in at about 85 minutes instead of 92 – it doesn’t hang on like, Return of The King style where it ends 656 different times, but still, some stuff that happens at the very end is unnecessary. But the resolution between these two does not, it is excellent.

Liberal+Arts+Portraits+2012+Sundance+Film+5qBrVuHF1Lsl I’m gushing a little bit about this one and am close to being in ramble territory, but a few more things – that’s my boy Jenkins by the way, I put him on here cuz man, how could you not trust that face? You tell me you don’t want to be buds with that guy and play some golf, he just rules. But the supporting cast in this movie it consists of the great Allison Janney, who has a scene that needs to be seen to be believe with Radnor in the latter half of the movie, and John Magaro, who I had never heard of before this movie. He plays Dean, a troubled kid who could have, very easily, been what Jesse became in college. He loves the same books that Jesse does, and he is obviously a romantic that finds so much passion in literature. The scenes with these two are almost pointless, to be honest. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. In fact, Dean becomes a maguffin toward the very end, but we don’t care, because the lines that Jesse has with these two are excellent, and, much like another classic from this year, Perks of Being a Wallflower, some of it really makes you think. This is not Red Dawn, this is not escapist fun, this is a movie that really makes you think about things. And just like we need the movies where stuff blows up real good, we probably need movies like this even more.

I haven’t even gotten to some of the other themes being kicked around in this movie, particularly the idea of having a deep love for books, music, just, ART, man. Radnor obviously has a soft spot for a good book, a good piece of music, etc. He directed AND wrote this bad boy, so there has to be shades of him in here. Just, just watch it man. Especially if you are a book nerd much like myself, if you’ve ever had grand dreams of becoming a writer, if you want to be the next Hemmingway (minus the committing suicide part…actually hell even if you want to include this part, watch this movie, maybe it’ll cheer you up and change your mind), if there is something in life that you are truly passionate about in life, then just check this movie out. It’s a thinker, and it’s a damn good one at that.


The verdict – 4-stars


The Vicious Kind – Adam Scott playing a crazy guy?! Say it isn’t so! – Directed by Lee Toland Krieger

220px-Vicious_kind Alright, it’s time to do an obscure movie review, something I might make a feature of this here blog dealie, a weekly obscure movie, if the people so demand it. Because man, do I know a lot of em – people AND obscure movies! I came across this little gem thanks to my indie friend who also told me about Take This Waltz, which of course we all know I loved. This movie was made a couple years ago, but since no one (criminally) heard about it then, I just saw it yesterday. And wow, what a tweest! This was a different sort of role for my boy Adam Scott to play, although the sarcastic nature of most everything he says comes across quite well in this one – but it also comes across in the form of someone who is actually pretty disturbed and messed up. Which always makes for a fun movie, amiright?! And this one, while not QUITE as epic as I had expected within the first 20 minutes or so, is still something to check out, for his performance alone, but also for – and here’s a REAL tweest for ya’ll – but apparently, *GASP* Brittany Snow, who I usually can’t stand, can actually act! Who knew?! Mind blown.

So the premise of this one is that Adam Scott plays Caleb, the brother to Peter (played by the forgettable-but-has-a-cool-super-villain-name Alex Frost), who has an insanely hot girlfriend Emma, played by, like I said, the surprisingly good Brittany Snow. The opening scenes show us pretty much all there is to Caleb’s character and these scenes are excellent – he gives his baby brother a speech on how all women are whores and essentially good for nothing, and that the way he met Emma (essentially stealing her from one of his frat brothers) shows that she is exactly the same and he needs to be careful. However, amidst all of this confidence and bravado from him, before his brother walks back from the bathroom to sit with him, Caleb nearly bursts into tears for no particular reason. Something is amiss, not all is well in Caleb town. A lesser actor than Scott could have easily ruined a role like this. But, despite mostly playing in comedies until this, this movie shows us that dude has RANGE yo. He still plays that same sarcastic a**hole that you would probably secretly want to be your friend, just like he does in Parks and Recreation (although that character is a bit more nerdy) except there is a definite violent edge to this one – and that’s a very cool thing.

12vicious_CA0-articleLarge So the movie is basically about these two, with Caleb meeting Emma early on in the movie and having her sit in the middle next to him in his small truck while they roadtrip back home so that Peter – can I just call him supervillain from now on, to at least make him somewhat interesting? I can? Ok, supervillain it is. So supervillain is heading back to see his Dad for Thanksgiving, something that Caleb will have absolutely no part of. Even though he and his father Donald live in the same town, he hasn’t seen him in years, and pretty much spits out his name whenever he has to say it. Obviously something is also amiss there. Well, almost instantaneously Caleb is intrigued by Emma. In his defense, I’m not sure who wouldn’t be. Brittany Snow hasn’t really been an actress that’s “done” it for me, usually because she’s so bad at delivering her lines and general suckitude on screen, but for some reason she is intriguing in this movie – its definitely in the eyes, and the fact that they gave her that jet black hair for this one. Which is good, because she NEEDS to be intriguing for this movie. If she was just a run of the mill girl and didn’t have that whole, unattainable punk rock chic that some men lust after look about her, well then we wouldn’t get why Caleb is initially interested in her. But because of her look – and, here’s my surprise with Snow’s performance – the soft spoken manner that she has, the almost too polite but still charming way she has about her, we get it. At least, until he takes it entirely too far, which he does – movie is called The Vicious Kind after all.

the_vicious_kind01 Since this movie is really just about four characters, the last character in this movie is Donald, played by the excellent J.K. Simmons, or as I always call him, J. Jonah Jameson. This role is much the same role that J.K. has played in a bunch of other movies, the safe father figure type, similar to what he played in the incredibly (and I mean IN-CREDIBLY) over rated Juno. Or is he? What makes this movie work is some of the revelations toward the end – we know from the start that something is off about Caleb, and, since all of our parents f*** us up, its just to what extent they do said effing up, we sorta suspect that ol’ Donnie might have had something to do with it – but maybe not, he just seems like the fun dirty old man Dad that some of us would just love to have, with great lines like the one after Emma tells him that her mom turned to drinking and is essentially drunk all day, and he quips back with “she single?”. Stuff like that, he just seems like a sweet, lonely older man. I won’t ruin much for you but uh, some unexpected stuff happens towards the end that I think you will buy into, I certainly did, because of J.K.’s subdued performance.

vicious-kind-1 So as expected, the intrigue soon turns into infatuation and then eventually to obsession, and not just because she’s hot – Emma is almost the spittin’ image of the girl that just left Caleb, someone he obviously loved, and she cheated on him and left him recently. It didn’t uh…it didn’t go over well with Caleb. Dude can’t sleep, smokes like a chimney, and there is this anger that is always on the surface and threatens to spill over on to everyone. He just looks like a guy who could snap at any moment – I think this picture portrays this well. That’s a testament to Scott’s acting chops – I didn’t expect him to be THIS good in this movie, but he really was. I guess that’s probably why it won some awards n such. But anyways, so the unraveling really comes to a head when he is caught taking pictures of her in the backyard of his father’s house – creeeeeeepy, right ladies? And is nearly shot by his own Dad – who we learn he hasn’t spoken to in about eight years. There is an incredibly intense and disturbing scene with Caleb and Emma at the grocery store, followed by him breaking down to tears not soon after. Dude is unstable, and obviously has A LOT of issues to deal with with this obsession with Emma.

And things start to come to a head – as usual I’m not going to spoil everything for you, watch it, it’s good, you’ll like it. I think I’ve established this movie is about an obsession, and I’ll admit that some of the ending stuff pissed me off – knock a star off my rating type of pissing me off even. Some cliched stuff happens that frankly should NOT happen in a movie that is supposed to be keeping you on your toes like this one. HOWEVER – the magic of this movie is that, when these cliched thangs was goin’ down, I started to realize that this movie was about a lot more than just the obsession Caleb had with his boring brother’s super hot girlfriend – it’s actually about family, and the title is relevant to quite a few things in this movie. The good news is that someone escapes from this family intact, he might actually not become “The Vicious Kind” like 2/3rds of his family has become. I’m not going to tell you who, but I think it might surprise you like it did me. And Emma might just be as Vicious as everyone else, we really aren’t sure. It’s good stuff, and it wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the actors. Supervillain isn’t given much to do here except to be clueless, but that’s fine, this movie isn’t about him, it ends up being about his entire family. And that’s why this movie worked for me- because it ended up being an entirely different bird than I first expected. That’s a good thing. Myself, this guy, I’ve seen A LOT of movies. Probably too many. So I can usually see what’s happening, which is why I get pissed off toward the end of a lot of movies, and I was prepared to write this one off and actually yelled “Ok! This movie has lost me completely!” during one scene as I watched this with my indie friend – but it brought me back by becoming about something bigger than the obsession. That’s an impressive feat for a little indie movie that could like this to do. It might be for that reason alone that you should check it out.

The Verdict – 3star

Wreck-It Ralph – A wonderful movie for kids and big kids alike – directed by Rich Moore

wreck it ralph cover I actually had to see this one twice before I decided to review it. Not because it isn’t fantastic, it most assuredly is. Just because I wasn’t really sure HOW to review it. What to say about a kid’s movie that doesn’t entirely seem to have a point except to charm the damn pants off of you (which it does)? Well, upon the second viewing I discovered that there WERE some messages this movie had to throw at us as big kids, or kids, or whoever the hell you want to take with you to see this movie, because everyone should see it. Because it’s wonderful, but I already told you that in my headline now, didn’t I? Before I get into the plot of this one, which, with a kids movie often takes a backseat to the whimsical characters you will see on screen and this movie is no different, I have to say something. We are in a renaissance of children’s movies, my friends. A true golden age. Of course it all started with PIXAR and the insane mad geniuses they have working over there – Up is not only arguably the best animated film that has ever been made, it’s also one of the best films ever MADE, PERIOD. Yes it is in my top 10, yes I will review it someday. But c’mon now – you got Tangled, which was the actual last official Disney movie before this one. You got Tintin, which was much like an animated Indiana Jones (the GOOD Indiana Jones…), no small feat. How to Train Your Dragon, Secret World of Arriety, Despicable Me which I have seen well over 50 times because it was my go-to movie during my short lived career at a video store, and to the lesser extents, your Megaminds and Loraxes even. They are all fantastic in their own right, and if you have a kid, you got an excuse to go see all these cinematic greats, but I’d go see them anyways. Wreck it Ralph continues this long tradition of this kids movie renaissance we are in, and you know what, it’s also in the upper echelon of classic children movies with Despicable Me (which is getting a completely unnecessary sequel next year, but that’s neither here nor there…) and Tangled – it’s really that good. Here’s why.

wreck-it-ralph So at the heart of this movie is these two characters, who are both incredibly charming and you will walk out of the theater loving them both. I think this is John C. Reillys’ first animated movie, and he is just about the most diverse guy in cinema. He has played in two absolutely hilarious movies with his real life pal Will Ferrell, he’s played a lunatic criminal (in a movie named well…Criminal), he’s played the sadsack loser with the last shot at love, his roles have really run the gamut, and that’s commendable that he branches out like that and is willing to try new things. Hell, dude even sings a bit. This movie is pretty much a paycheck for him, just like any animated movies with big voice talent are, but he does a great job of actually channeling that same sadsack loser that he played in Cyrus. Except this time he plays it as a video game bad guy, sort of like a different take on donkey kong, where the mario in this is Fix It Felix, which is the name of the game, and is also voiced by someone I usually don’t like very much, Jack McBrayer. Jack plays the exact same role in everything he has ever done and his mostly annoying Felix is more of the same. But hey, name of the movie isn’t Fix It Felix, which is good. So Ralph is a bad guy, but he is not “bad, guy” just like Zangief from Street Fighter II says of himself in the alcoholics anonymous of bad guy meetings toward the beginning of the movie. He just wants some friends, wants to be accepted for being a bad guy. And herein lies one of the themes, however simple it may be, of the movies – everyone’s need for acceptance. Hey, this isn’t Shakespeare, its a PG kids movie, right? It doesn’t need to be Shakespeare if you have a lot of great, original ideas.

images And this movie has those great ideas in spades.  A whole bucket of em even. This movie takes all kinds of ideas we thought of as nerdy little kids – like, what DOES happen at night after the arcade closes? For a particularly dorky kid with me, who actually made up back stories for each character in Street Fighter II the first time I played it and who wrote dialogue between Sub Zero and Scorpion the first time I played the first Mortal Kombat, this was a fully legitimate idea in my head. And Rich Moore, who actually directed a lot of awesome Futurama episodes and some incredibly memorable – some might even say some of the best – Simpsons episodes, was definitely in the same vein of dorks that I was. We might even have hung out and played Magic together in high school if he had went to my school. I can’t give him all the credit of course, the writers were obviously dorks too, but hey, he co-wrote! Anyways, the idea that there is a “Game Central Station” where all of these characters converge is brilliant, and the addition of Q*Bert, which was and always will be a classic game, into the mix of this, as well as a ton of other video game character cameos, make this a movie that any self respecting video gamer absolutely has to see. I yelled “Awesome!” At some of the obscure references there just for us nerds too, like the “AERITH LIVES!” emblazoned on the wall of the subway terminal, or the exclamation point that Ralph pulls out of a lost and found box (which was from Metal Gear Solid, since I realize a lot of you NON nerds read this, too). This is a movie for everyone, it has enough silly jokes like turning Ralph into a taffy monster and enough sight gags to keep the kiddies entertained, and more than enough old school references and charming little additions, such as the Oreo warriors yelling “Oreeee-o! Ooooo!” to keep us kids at heart enraptured as well. It’s just great stuff.

Wreck--Ralph-Sugar-Rush-Characters Speaking of charm, this little brat here oozes it in this movie. I’ll admit that in the previews she seemed annoying, and having Sarah Silverman’s somewhat grating voice didn’t seem like it would help her case – but man, does she ever grow on you. Vanellope is the other main character who is much like Ralph, she is a misfit toy, she is a loner, and just like Ralph, she longs for acceptance from her peers in the video game world. I’m trying to make this kids movie sound mature I realize, but hey, gotta dig around for some themes here, I want you to see this movie after all! Naturally these two will end up being our heroes in the world, and they do a great job, she has some hilarious lines and is essentially just a big dork like Ralph and all of us that love this movie. Most of the movie takes place in her world, Sugar Rush, which is essentially a glorified Mario Kart with goofy candy-themed racers – everyone in the world loves Mario Kart, right? If they don’t, I’m not sure if this is a world in which I want to live. So the obvious references to that game are here, and speaking of Sugar Rush, man, is this ever a pretty movie. The first word that comes to mind when I think of the animation in this movie is “delightful”, and it really is. Even in the dark, Halo-esque world of Hero’s Duty (of which the name is punned quite often, of course), the colors, soundtrack, everything in this movie is excellent.

Aside from the great cameos in this movie and the innumerable nods to previous games and game systems alike, the last great addition to this movie is the character voiced by the always great Jane Lynch, Calhoun. Of course she has to have a man’s name because she is the hardass commander of the squad in Hero’s Duty, who was also programmed with “the most tragic backstory ever” – which I won’t ruin for you, of course, because it’s hilarious. She’s excellent and all of her scenes are funny, and I’m particularly impressed by how close she comes to swearing in this and still making it sound kiddish. That is a GIFT, my friends. “Flattery don’t charge my batteries!” is a particular favorite.

What else to say on this one? I don’t need to go much into the plot, like I said, it’s a kids movie, of course it will have a happy ending, of course the two longing for acceptance will find it. But I dare you not to have a big ol’ smile on your face at the end of this one, and maybe even get a bit choked up at the sheer damn cuteness of it all. I often say movies like this don’t come along often, but hell, in this children’s movie renaissance we are in, we might have another excellent addition in a couple of months. Unlike a lot of the Hollywood tripe and rehash we get, that is a very, very good thing. Keep the kiddies coming to the theaters with grand stuff like this, and I’ll be right there along with them….well, after opening weekend when the theaters clear out of all those damn annoying kids and crying babies, at least.

The Verdict – 3-and-a-half-stars

Take This Waltz – An adult drama on par with Blue Valentine – directed by Sarah Polley

take-this-waltz2 Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t know about this one until one of my best friends told me about it, my “indie friend” actually who usually knows more about this stuff than I do (maybe I SHOULD get that subscription to Entertainment Weekly like she has…) and that was partially cuz she thought the guy in it was hot – no, it wasn’t Seth Rogen. Disappointed in myself because it’s directed AND written by Sarah Polley, who is wonderful, and you should know about. She directed and wrote the movie Away From Her back in 2006 as well, which was nominated for an Oscar, which shouldn’t surprise anyone because it was also co-written by Alice Munro, who has been an incredible short story and novel writer for a very long time – I linked you to a beginner’s education about her in case you wanted to learn something today, because she has written some amazing stuff. Look I’m even gonna teach you something new within the first paragraph, my blog is DIFFERENT, and you are privileged to be reading stuff from someone as cool as me. But anyways, so Sarah Polley has also been in some great movies – you’d probably know her most notably from the Dawn of The Dead remake a few years back – but she’s played in some incredible indies from years ago – ones like The Sweet Hereafter, which should DEFINITELY be seen before this one, and if you want something a little troubling, then The Secret Life of Words too, which also features that guy from the Shawshank Redemption in it. I could go on gushing about her and talking about other great movies she’s been in, but instead I’ll shut the hell up and get to the damn review, which I’m sure is what you are yelling at the computer screen by now.

images So this movie has the pretty much always great Michelle Williams, a bit of an indie darling these days – who knew that Jen from Dawson’s Creek would ever go this far, and become the most popular of the bunch by far? I sure didn’t. But she was great way back then as the slutty girl next door, and she just built upon that in every other movie she has been in, and normally if you see her name in the credits, you will probably have yourself a great movie – you might even have a classic that will change your opinion on what the word “movie” means, and may even enter your top 10 favorite movies of all time like it did mine – I’m talking about Blue Valentine there, by the way. And for god’s sake, if you haven’t seen that movie yet, turn this review off, don’t even bother with this movie first, and watch that one instead. It’s incredible. This movie is a sort of Blue Valentine light actually, yes it very much deserves its R rating again because of the quite graphic sex scenes we see toward the end, and also a bit of pointless full frontal nudity – but hey, everyone loves pointless full frontal nudity, right? I know I sure love me some. But the subject matter is decidedly less dark, and something that has been tackled many times before in lesser movies – the idea that a wife is unsatisfied in her marriage, and didn’t even really know she was until she meets another man. The other man comes in the form of Luke Kirby, who is actually a relatively unknown actor except for a lot of tv stuff and having played in that weird movie with the grown up Anakin Skywalker, but he definitely provides a more than adequate character for Michelle Williams’ Margot to fall in love with pretty much right off the bat. We have the obligatory “meet-cute” with them both on vacation, and then, of course, ending up sitting together on the plane. But because of these two great actors, we buy it pretty readily that these two have chemistry. We don’t have Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock up there for instance, we actually have GOOD actors. They share a cab together, and – surprise! – the big maguffin here is that he happens to live across the street from her, she just never knew it. Stupid, right? Don’t worry, you’ll still like the movie. Trust me.

take_this_waltz_3_630_pxlw So the husband is played by the hit-or-miss Seth Rogen, and I gotta tell ya, he’s in top form in this one. Like, this is one of his best roles. He plays this role in a subdued fashion, something he isn’t well known for at all. But man, does he ever nail it. Margot and Lou (Rogen) have what can only be classified as an…interesting marriage. They’ve been married for around five years, but it just seems like…they never really progressed as a couple from the start. As in like, they still do baby talk, they say strange disturbing things to each other to be “cute”, and they just seem like a couple that probably fell in love in high school and just sorta went with it from there, they never found anyone else so they figured what the hell, might as well stick together. They seem happy enough, just like any genuine couple you are likely to find in the world. This is why the movie works on a lot of levels – the relationships seem real. And, much like any other couple in the world, there is also, just maybe, that something missing behind the surface. That something missing comes in the form of Daniel (Kirby) for Margot.

take this waltz 2 Daniel is new and fresh to Margot – her relationship with Lou hasn’t necessarily gotten stale per se, but it just seems like its gotten boring, its in a rut, nothing interesting happens anymore. This idea is presented incredibly well by the fact that Lou is a writer of cookbooks…but he only cooks with chicken. They have some variation of chicken every night, and he often jokes that she’s probably been tired of chicken since they’ve been married. It’s a bit more than the chicken, Lou. Daniel is new and exciting, an artist, he’s all the things that Lou isn’t really – creative in a different way that involves more than just chicken, he’s in good shape because he is one of those rickshaw drivers you may or may not see anymore – I don’t really know because the only huge town I’ve been to is Chicago, but anyways, he does that for a living, which is also exciting, weird and different. I think I’ve established that he just brings something different to the table, which is exactly what Margot needs – or does she?

This is why the movie works and should absolutely be watched by anyone who loves the romance movies, but is tired of the same old crap. It’s real, much in the same vein that Blue Valentine is real. Margot questions herself throughout the entire movie, as well she should, and in a lesser movie, of course she would have banged the hell out of Daniel, and there would have been a big fight with Lou, etc – all the same crap we’ve seen before. Instead, like an adult, she puts herself through all the paces – is this what she wants? Will she be happy with Daniel? Is she happy ENOUGH with Lou? What the hell is it to be happy anyways? Of course, none of us really know, at least I sure as hell don’t think we do. Sarah Polley gets that, and nails these ideas down in her movie. And this why the movie is a great success, and you should watch it.

20047842.jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx Now we’ll come to my only issue with this movie – and it is the absolutely criminal underutilization of Sarah Silverman, and a couple other supporting characters in this movie. The sidestory with Silverman isn’t just a tacked on addition to the movie to stretch it out to its almost two hour length – she represents exactly what Margot could become, Margot on the opposite end of the spectrum. Geraldine (Silverman) is also happily married, but there are some darker issues with her that come to light later in the movie, that actually I did not see coming, but man, was it ever good. I won’t spoil anything for you because like I said, you should definitely watch this movie, but at the end I think you will feel the same – that Margot could have very easily been Geraldine if she made different choices. Sarah Silverman, whose comedy I do not like and I never really have liked, is an actress to watch as well. I expected to hate her in this movie just like I hate her awful comedy, but man, she surprised me. So much so that I want to see what else she has done and will definitely check out anything else she is in that comes out after this, because she was fantastic in the few scenes she is in this movie. She just should have been in more of them.

So speaking of the ending – it is just as brilliant as this entire movie is. Like I said, nothing happens quickly in this, just like it doesn’t in real life with situations like this (well…usually, but that usually applies to someone who is actually just really unhappy in a marriage). This is an adult movie with adult issues, and the idea of happiness is front and center – did she make the right choice, will she be happy now with what she decides? Does she even know? You might not either, and that is the brilliance of this movie. I’d put this on my top movies of 2012 list as well, and you owe it to yourself to check this one if you want a different kind of romantic comedy – because yeah, it’s still one of those, some of the moments in this movie are downright hilarious. Another thing it has going for it.

The verdict – 3-and-a-half-stars

Red Dawn – probably the best dumb movie you’ll see all year! It’s even directed by a stunt coordinator! – Directed by Dan Bradley

Let’s get this review started off proper, real respectable like – this movie is dumb. It is completely implausible, it’s something that will never happen, it’s a remake of an only slightly above average movie that didn’t even need to be remade, and it really just, doesn’t need to exist. Yet here it is, and there it was, taking my $6 last night. And you know what? Dammit it if it wasn’t a good ol fashioned gay ol’ stupid time. So the premise of this completely implausible movie, if I need to give you one, is this – a bunch of pretty people, you can see most of them in that poster there but it doesn’t feature the pretty mexican girl with big boobs or the token black guy in there with them – but they are led by pretty much the king of scruffy looking pretty people, Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. I don’t know what it is over in the water there in Australia, but these Hemsworth kids are all over the place in ass kicking roles lately, and since a lot of the action greats are getting up there in age these days – although certainly still kicking ass, we need some new dudes to step up, and these guys have done nicely – his bro is even in Expendables 2. But naturally, to have an action great, that doesn’t mean they need to play in great movies – right, Jean Claude Van Damme? And this Red Dawn is by no means a good movie. Like, at all.

So the insane premise of this movie, and I’ll give it credit for getting RIGHT to the point with it, possibly the only movie that gets into the action faster was the remake of the movie Poseidon – another unnecessary one by the way, but hey, this is Hollywood, where original ideas ceased to exist QUITE some time ago. But in Poseidon it was seriously like, beginning credits, a guy yells “oh S*** dude, theres a giant ass wave thats gon’ hit our ship, what do we DO?” BAM ship is hit by wave, chaos ensues next two hours. Hey at least it knew what it was, and so does this movie. Within about five minutes we get a (badly done) cgi invasion of this nice little town in Washington, with Korean troops parachuting all over and jets flying hither and thither. See the original had the Soviets, cuz it was made in the 80s, pretty much at the height of the cold war and all of us still being afraid of them pesky commies. Well this one had to have a different hot button issue, since we don’t hear a whole mess about those cranky soviets except come Winter Olympics time (they sure do dominate figure skating, don’t they? Oh crap, giving away another passion of mine, and I have girls to impress! Back to the review, quick like!), so they switched everything over to those damn North Koreans this time. Of course everyone hates North Korea, we don’t know what the hell they are doing over there, but we are sure they are up to no good! We are treated with a montage of clips that various people of power have said about those nefarious Koreans at the beginning, so of course, we KNOW they are no good. And we are given the stereotypical evil looking general Korean guy to hate almost right off too. Like I said, at least this movie knows what it is.

Here’s two more pretty people for you to look at, you may recognize Peeta from The Hunger Games there, a far superior movie to this one. But anyways, so yeah, the stuff hits the proverbial fan quickly, and in a nice montage about fifteen minutes in, Jed – played by Patrick Swayze in the old one, by Thor in this one – has himself a ragtag group of kiddies that magically know how to handle themselves in a fight and are comfortable shooting big mean guns even though they had probably never seen one until about a day ago. But hey, it’s all fine – because we’ve already seen some good action stuff and things blowin’ up real good, and we know there will be more. And there certainly is – you can tell that the director of this movie was a stunt coordinator before this – and stunt coordinator he was with a VENGEANCE, because one look at his credentials there will show you that he’s coordinated stunts on over 100 (!) movies, some of them fairly big, too. So good for him, gettin his own movie and all – but he forgot about plot for a big chunk of this movie, and focused on the fussin’ and the fuedin’ instead. But like I said, I never said I had a bad time with this movie, I didn’t. But come into this expecting to be thinking about it two days later, or talking about it with your friends, aside from saying “OH MAN REMEMBER THAT ONE SCENE WITH THE TANK, DUDE. OR DUDEMAN, REMEMBER WHEN THEY BUSTED OUT THE ROCKET LAUNCHERS?!” to which your friend would ask “um, which time?”, then you have come to the wrong place. This is popcorn schlock at its finest.

I gotta bring up one more thing about why this reason isn’t even going to reach cult status like the previous one though…and it’s because of this idiot. Just look at him, look at his stupid face, that gap jawed yokel look in his eyes. How did he even become an actor? His name is Josh Peck, and while I sing the praises of many actors and actresses (ok I’ll admit it..mostly actresses) on my fine site here, this will not be one of them. Most of his lines are delivered with that same douche-in-the-headlights look he has here, and he has no redeeming qualities as a character, he is just there to be Jed’s brother. I wish he would have gotten shot or blown up within the first five minutes, but instead we are stuck with him throughout this movie. This role was played by Charlie Sheen in the old one, and while he is a washed up tool now, he wasn’t half bad in the 80s, and he did a MUCH better job playing the brother role than this jackass did. He doesn’t bring this movie down to unwatchable levels, because like I said its all just good ol’ escapist fun, but man, if you see his name in top billing for any movies coming out later, might want to check the reviews first, and probably stay away. Cuz, yikes.

What more to say about this one? Pretty people mostly succeed, evil is thwarted. Of course it has to be. There are some slightly racist comments and portrayals in here, and some grand stereotyping too, but hey, the original had that in spades as well, gotta stick with the source material, right? The rebels in this movie call themselves “Wolverines”, quite possibly THE most cliche thing to call a group of people, and hey why not, that’s based off of their high school football team name. But enough bashing – I’ve mentioned a couple times I had a good time watching this, and I did. Some things blow up real good, more people get shot in a PG-13 movie than I have ever seen before, Thor does the best he can with the source material, and the eye candy is just fine too. Good to see the absolutely beautiful girl from Transformers 2 (the one that wasn’t Megan Fox) getting work still, this time as a (surprise!) cheerleader. There are certainly worse gorgeous actresses out there than the two in this movie to be sure. So here’s the conclusion – if you like to watch mindless action movies with lots of things blowin’ up real good, hardly any story (and whats there is completely implausible), and lots of people getting shot – you could do far worse than this movie for your money, it’s escapism at its highest level – even more so than that second Taken movie, which at least had a decent story. But, if you are into the indies, the movies that make you think, and you think that cinema is one of our highest forms of art – spoiler alert, I think that, but I also can appreciate movies like this one, as well – you should probably stay far, far away from this one. It’s also impossible for me to give this movie anything higher than two stars too, because, well, haven’t I made that clear why I have to do that already in these 1400 words? I’m pretty sure I have.

The verdict –