Quills

Year: 2000
Directed By: Philip Kaufman
Written By: Doug Wright

RYAN’S REVIEW

I studied history in college and during one year took an entire course on The French Revolution and then another on the Napoleonic Era. I had a very enthusiastic and talented teacher and it was one of my favorite courses throughout college. The French Revolution was nothing short of insane and as we progressed through the semester each day was like going in for another chapter to a story that got crazier by the day. It was in that class that I first saw a clip of this film. Our professor showed it to us when we discussed the real Marquis de Sade. Being the movie enthusiast that I am, coupled with my sincere and serious interest in the class, I went out and bought my own copy. This film has been part of our collection for a very long time but isn’t watched that often. It’s never been a film I loved but I find the performances in the film impressive and it gave me the one and only “Q” within our collection giving us at least one film for every letter in the alphabet.

Anyone who wants to say the world is going to hell these days need only look to the past to see that they know nothing of hell. The world is as it always has been but people love to think that when they were growing up that everything was perfect but more often than not that is not the case. Take today for example, in an era when women can discreetly read obscene books like 50 Shades of Grey on tablets and sales sky rocket. It could be said that the success of such a perverse novel could suggest that morals have gone out the door. Yet a movie like this shows us that there has always been a market for perversion in society. The Marquis de Sade was a very real person whose works left a significant mark that will always be remembered in certain circles. He’s not a historical character I have ever cared to research but I am aware of his notoriety.

As the Marquis de Sade Geoffrey Rush gives a performance worthy of the Academy Award nomination he received. I don’t care for the level of perversion in this film, which is all the work of Rush’s character, but you can’t help but marvel over the acting. Rush is a terrific actor who I think wasted too much time at the behest of Disney and those silly Pirate films. He did that for his kids though and I think that’s pretty cool, I just didn’t care for that franchise myself. Nevertheless Rush is a fantastic actor who delivers an impressive performance in this film. As the Marquis he is unrelenting and devious to the most ultimate level. His wit is matched only by his desire to create chaos. His success in creating chaos is the product of his perseverance. It’s as if the devil himself is within the man pushing him to insight the masses and further the madness engulfing the revolution.  He is not the only great actor in this film though.

I have long since been a fan of Joaquin Phoenix despite how strange the man is in his personal life. Phoenix is the type of actor who can make you believe, but he is also the type that dances on the line of life far too much. I have literally feared for years waking up to an overdose story in the news about Phoenix. That hasn’t happened and he might be a completely different person these days for all I know. I hope I am wrong in that impression because I think Phoenix is one of the best there is out there and would hate for him to follow the footsteps of his brother River Phoenix. He delivers a great performance in this movie but he does that nearly every time he takes the screen no matter what kind of role he is playing. In this film he takes what might have been a simple role and brings something extra to it. He has an ability to convey so much more than he can do with just words. In his character you can see his longing and the internal struggle he has within himself. He a strong character haunted by temptations he uses the resolve of his character to resist.

In the role of the lead actress is another fantastic performer in Kate Winslet. Winslet has always been on a level above her peers and not vain enough to force another impossible figure on society. What I have always loved about Winslet the most is her honesty as an actress. I love her character in this film the most because while she s the vessel for the Marquis she is still the most innocent of the characters. She is curious and mischievous in a manner that befits a young lady who is simply testing the waters but she never really does anything wrong. She is the object of the Abbé’s lust and the reason for his tormented internal battle. Her affection for him isn’t wrong though, she isn’t bound by the laws of God to maintain celibacy. She may find the Marquis work interesting but she never acts on any provoked desires herself. Nevertheless it is always the innocent that suffer in these situations as she is the victim of a simpleton who is provoked by the perverted works of the Marquis. It is tragic what happens to her. Those who blame her and allow it to happen are far more evil than any of the crazies in the asylum. She made mistakes but she was just a foolish girl and didn’t deserve what happened to her.

Michael Caine is one of my favorite actors but this is easily my least favorite role he plays. He is top notch in the part, of course, but this character is so wicked. The fact that he can play such a part only shows his range as an actor. As Dr. Royer-Collard he is hard and prudent, but his anger comes from his own hypocritical nature that he keeps in the dark. The man that his young wife sees during the night is the man that he hides from the world as he administers his harsh justice to the insane and perverse. His cruelty comes from his own hatred for who he really is and like all people of that nature he indulges in his desires despite the image he tries to put. A man like the Abbé whips himself to purge away the evil thoughts; the good Doctor simply applies that torture to the victims at his disposal.

If I remember correctly my professor in college said that this movie was a great example of the Marquis and the time period it was set. The only discrepancy I recall was that in the film Napoleon is shown, in typical English fashion exaggerating his lack of height, but Napoleon’s rule did not correlate with the days of the Marquis. Given the opportunity to touch on Napoleon I would like to bring up his portrayal in this film. There is a camera shot at one point from under his chair to show his feet dangling as a suggestion that Napoleon was really short. While Napoleon was by no means tall he was of average height. The common misconception about his height came from the way he was depicted by the English during his conquest. They needed something to criticize this man that beat the pants off of them every time battle was joined so the caricatured as a borderline midget. In history we know that the victors are the one who write the history thus Napoleon is remembered a short tyrant. While we have great historical documentation of Napoleon’s rise to power and rule the British ideas about him still dominate how he is depicted culturally. Napoleon did lose, but it took probably the greatest joint effort ever by an entire continent to stop him, and even then had he had the proper resources he may have won at the Battle of Waterloo. It’s been 10 years since college so don’t quote me on my memory but I would encourage anybody to research Napoleon themselves. As interesting a man as the world has ever seen.

I have owned this movie for ten years or more and never in that time have I ever suggested or recommended it to anyone. This is a terrific movie for anybody who wants to see powerful performances from great actors but a horrible movie for any tender hearted soul. This movie is as vile and perverse as anything I own. I own it for what I think to be very reasonable circumstances but otherwise I think it may sit on my shelf unwatched till the end of time now. I think the movie would be worth the time of anybody bold enough to sit through it but I can’t foresee any reason why I would ever watch it again and won’t suggest that you give your time to it either unless there is a specific reason to do so.

NEXT MOVIE: Rain Man (1988)

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The Collection Is Back!

For nearly four years now our movie collection has been relegated to darkness.  Doomed to hide within the confines of a closet for years after the birth of our beautiful and spirited second daughter. She did need a room and apparently it didn’t fit with Amber’s decorating scheme to put our collection front and center in the living room. So for years our precious collection has had to dwell in the deepest darkest corner of our home. Almost out of sight, out of mind but for my perseverance with it.

However, now we have moved. In our new house I have a great man cave with more than enough room to display our collection for everyone to see. No longer will the precious go unseen. It has been reassembled in its entirety for the first time in years and it warms my heart every time I see it. I’m strange I know, but as a collector I take such pride in seeing all this together and in order again. Finally, after so long.

The collection is all accounted for short of four movies right now. Poltergeist and Gangs of New York are absent because I lent them out and have yet to get them back. I also have two new DVDs that haven’t been put into place yet. Those two are The Master and X-men:First Class. Otherwise that is the collection in it’s entirety in alphabetical order preceded by all titles that begin as numbers. You can see a list of links to all of our reviews that have been posted here.

Now, about the knickknacks adorning the shelves:

The painting is an original made just for me. It was a gift from my awesome wife on my 30th birthday. For a long time we had talked about having a painting made of the Last Supper with some of my favorite characters in it. After years of talking about it Amber commissioned a she-ninja friend of hers who moonlights as a painter. I think Amber’s best friend did an incredible job and really appreciate her efforts in bringing our idea to life.  I love having this painting displayed about our collection. In lieu of writing about who the characters adorning the painting are I think I’ll save that for later and eventually write a post about it with larger image to go with it.

The Jade Buddha, don’t really have a reasonable explanation. I am by no means a Buddhist and it has no religious context whatsoever. Somewhere along the line I acquired him and I display him for no other reason than I find him fun loving and peaceful. He got onto the shelf early and never lost his place. He has always sat along the top of my movie collection.

The rock with red writing next to him is a more interesting story. My step-father works for a demolition company and after the 9/11 tragedy back in 2001 he went with his company to ground zero to help with the relief effort. When he finally came home he brought us all a piece of the World Trade Center. That piece of rock sitting on my movie collection with red writing on it is the piece he brought me. The red writing indicates that it is from the World Trade Center Tower one. Found on 10/17/2001 at level B-4 over the MER room. It is easily one of the coolest and most priceless items I own and it seemed fitting to display it above my favorite collection of possessions.

The blue Raiders of the Lost Ark looking fellow to the left is an awesome jar I bought at a head shop in San Diego back in 2004. I filled it with California sand from Mission Beach and brought it home. In 2004 it was the biggest trip I had ever taken on my own and needed to bring part of it back home with me to the east coast. It has had a place on top of the collection opposite the Buddha since the collection was first assembled in a reasonably accommodating shelving system.

In the bottom right hand corner you may notice a monkey covering his eyes. This monkey used to be part of a group of a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak  no evil” trio but in a mishap Amber has been trying to explain for years one of them met a fate not even Krazy Glue could fix. I felt settling for “see no evil” in a collection that requires sight would suffice for now. So hey, talk and hear as much shit as you want but see no evil when it comes to my collection.

This DVD rack is new and there is more room to adorn it with other significant items that bring importance to it. It has been a difficult move though and unpacking continues. In time I might fill the space with something else interesting and unique and write an update about it.

The TV shows were never really included with the movies but usually assembled separately in the past. So much time has passed now that there really isn’t even a practical reason to buy DVDs of TV shows anymore. Generally just about any show you want to watch can be found streaming online somewhere or another. For that reason, coupled with the still high expense of shows on DVD, I no longer buy them. I only added some of them to the collection because if I kept looking at so much empty space at the bottom I’d get stupid and start trying to fill it with new DVDs. Most likely many that didn’t belong. We actually own a lot more shows than you see there but I put the ones I liked the most on the shelf.

The Purge

Year: 2013
Directed By: James DeMonaco
Written By: James DeMonaco

RYAN’S REVIEW

This isn’t a movie I love or even particularly like but I do think it is a cool idea. My brother is so taken with the movie that I feel compelled to keep giving it chances. This movie, like Crazy, Stupid, Love, made its way into the collection on that same Amazon shopping spree night when I bought several DVDs absentmindedly.  The Purge itself is an idea worth making a film about but I find so much about this movie to be just too typical. I don’t think “The Annual Purge” really is or would be cool either.

In a nutshell an annual purge would allow a lot of unsavory criminal elements to simply wipe themselves out but the truth is it would never go that way. As we see in the movie you would have plenty of people from all walks of life taking part but what about the people who aren’t just out there to unleash the beast in the form of murder? How many men just go back to their daily lives after an evening of carte blanche in sex crimes? What I fear is that on an actual evening of purging that getting murdered would be one of the easiest things to be victimized by. What’s worse are all the nightmares people actually survive and the hell you have to go through life remembering. People are sick and demented, give them 12 hours every year to show their wild side and we would see things most of us never could have imagined.

I feel like the shock value in this movie is too intentional and poorly executed. I like the evil rich kid who comes knocking on their door but that’s about as far as it goes. Rhys Wakefield, who plays the Polite Stranger, is wicked and intimidating from beginning to end. However, while I think he is really well written and delivers a great performance he is alone in that category. I think the girls dual wielding machetes and axes are a bit silly. An ax is a heavy and cumbersome weapon; it’s just ridiculous for this college girl to be swinging it with ease and precision as a man fires a shotgun at her. Not to mention I feel like it is an obvious effort to recreate the Manson murders as so many films do, like The Strangers. I can buy girls getting in on unleashing the beast but when they are dancing around and being so cutesy about killing it’s just overkill.

I feel like everything that happens in the movie is just too typical too. The innocent son feels sorry for the hobo in the street pleading for his life so he lets him inside like an idiot. The daughter has an older boyfriend who she obviously isn’t mature enough to understand and he tries to kill her dad. The neighbors aren’t there to help but to purge. It’s all just too typical and doesn’t really impress me. Maybe if the actors were better or the story was tweaked a bit it might have worked but I just don’t buy these cookie cutter suburban people feeling the need to butcher one of their neighbors and her children. I get it if they just really want to kill Ethan Hawke, but when they pull out knives to stab his children to death in his place I feel like it’s just too much. I can see the suburban type wanting to kill the man who profited off this chaos but I just don’t want to think people become child murderers so easily. Not to mention the knives, killing isn’t an easy thing and I don’t think people unaccustomed to it would chose such a personal and hands on way to murder when they are packing guns.

I think there were merits to the story that involved how The Purge is simply a tool to counteract poverty and cleanse society of the beatniks but this movie glosses over them too much. So much so that they immediately made a sequel to go farther with it. The sequel was equally as rushed in an effort to make money though and probably falls short in similar ways. I do think the sequel to this movie is better than this one, but that’s not to say it couldn’t have been better if more time and effort was put into it.

I think this is at least the fourth time I have tried to get into this movie and again it fails to inspire anything more than a shrug. I can get the appeal but I feel like it’s a story I’ve just seen too many times already. The only thing that makes this movie any different from any other Manson family murder knockoff is the pseudo half assed effort to introduce a political aspect to the mayhem created. If you haven’t seen half a dozen movies already where people are victimized by senseless killing from unreasonably persevering bad guys then maybe you will love this. I just don’t find anything exceptional about it. However, with a cool running time of less than an hour and half, I’ll leave it up to you whether or not it is actually worth your time.

NEXT MOVIEQuills (2000)

Punch-Drunk Love

Year: 2002
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson

RYAN’S REVIEW

Since growing out of puberty I have had little interest in the work of Adam Sandler. Any time I come across one of his many films I feel reaffirmed in my lack of interest and learn more and more to ignore him all together. Yet on the rarest of occasions he branches out from toilet humor and does something different. Under those circumstances I have been pleased with a couple of his performances and I really think he is capable of more than what he typically does. There is a youthful spirit still alive inside of me that wants to love Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore despite how ridiculous I find most of what he does. I think Adam Sandler is a terrific actor but his typical work is garbage. Albeit garbage that makes tons and tons of money so who am I to criticize? I might think his humor is juvenile and pathetic but he continues to succeed at it despite what I think. Though, in the 13 years since this film came out I wish we had more of these kinds of films and less of his Happy Madison studio crap.

This is as different a role as Adam Sandler has played in his entire career. He isn’t funny but dramatic, playing a character that couldn’t be any more awkward and painfully depressed. As Barry, the bullied brother of several older sisters, he is so alone in the world and so desperate for a connection with someone. People like Barry can so easily become victims, and that in a nutshell is Barry’s problem. He grew up as the victim of his older sisters and has matured into a victim of the world. A tortured soul suffering in the madness of his own self loathing and isolation. When he tries to confide in people he feels betrayed, be it from a brother-in-law or a phone sex operator. Barry is a weird guy, and when weird things happen to weird people the story is always an interesting one. I love how weird and strange Barry Egan is and this is without doubt my favorite performance ever by Sandler. I love his random dancing in the supermarket and how he rises to the occasion as a badass when his girlfriend is threatened. Sandler made a pile of dough acting like a moron but this role clearly proves he could have done anything he wanted to a lifetime ago. As Egan he is such a different and original character. With his mannerisms, his awkwardness, and his insane tendencies Barry Egan is a portrait of desperation and of longing. I love this character and I enjoy watching him overcome his problems to find something hopefully on the path to happiness.

Something that I will never forget about this movie is the performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and how blown away I was by it. I had known about him and respected him prior to seeing this film but I had no idea he had badass inside of him. I have wholeheartedly loved several of his performances but in truth he never really reached his full potential as an actor. I was really disappointed to hear about his death and the manner of it. I felt like it tarnished his character and reputation in the worst of ways. My heart breaks at anybody that goes before their time but when you poison yourself to death with drugs I don’t think pity is necessary. Nevertheless the man was a terrific actor and he left us with many great performances. With his role in this film he showed me that he had more range than I thought he was capable of. He scared me as this pseudo gangster mattress man. I’d seen him do so many things yet never imagined he was capable of a role like this. I love when an actor does that. Hoffman is an anomaly for me. He has done what I most admire about actors by being incredibly diverse but he has also done what I most despise most about celebrities by falling victim to a despicable addiction all the same. He has come full circle as an actor for me in such an interesting way.

In truth, Paul Thomas Anderson is such a smart filmmaker I think I could watch this movie ten times and still not cover everything in a review. For example, so subtly Luis Guzman starts wearing a suit. It is remarked in the film that Sandler never wears a suit to work but once he does Guzman subtly in the background starts wearing one as well taking his lead from the boss. It’s an example of the small little details that Anderson doesn’t overlook as a director.  Anderson is the type of filmmaker we don’t get enough out of as an audience. Too much of the audience leaves the show confused and for those of us that get it we are too demanding as fans. I like Paul Thomas Anderson but I’m not an obsessive fan of his. I only say so because I am under the impression he has a crazy fan base, which I think is understandable. I’ll never forget once while I was in college I mentioned either this movie or Magnolia in class once. The most unlikeliest of people approached me afterwards with something along the lines of “So you’re into PTA?” I’ll never forget that because it took me way too long to realize he was referring to a filmmaker and what had prompted the conversation all together. Point being, I’m under the impression there is a network of fans out there dedicated to the guy. I get it though; this guy can make such compelling movies. I was never a fan of There Will Be Blood, but maybe it is due a reviewing. This, and Magnolia, prove to me enough that “PTA” is an exceptional filmmaker worth watching at all times. I have yet to see his latest film but this movie is starting to inspire me to watch a few things again or for the first time.

This is such a weird film, but I love it so much. It is a beautiful film and I love what Anderson is able to do with silhouettes in shot. The story is surprisingly interesting, the type that you can’t convey when you are trying to tell someone about it. A great director and filmmaker can do that to you. He can inspire you with something so magnificent that you can’t even find the words to describe what you are feeling. In this movie we get a glimpse of a life none of us lead but we feel like we were there in the thick of it. That’s the mark of an exceptional story teller and the really exceptional ones are the ones that only do it randomly. If you are unfamiliar with the work of Paul Thomas Anderson then you really have something to look forward to because there are several movies that might blow you away.

I think this is without doubt Adam Sandler’s greatest film. Given the recent box office disasters he has been making is it possible that everyone else is beginning to notice what I saw beginning when Little Nicky  came out 15 years ago. The Waterboy was only mildly good at best and even then I was beginning to think I was outgrowing him. When Little Nicky came out I felt like the writing was on the wall only nobody wanted to admit it. I have always felt like people would like things because they thought they were supposed to like them. One of the biggest examples that immediately comes to mind is Ron Burgundy I have never understood what people saw in that movie other than the fact that they thought they were supposed to like it. I have had a disappointed opinion of Sandler since 2000 so I’ll be the first to admit that it’s possible he has made some really funny movies I haven’t seen. I have seen enough of them to stay solid in my opinion though. I think he is better than the juvenile toilet humor he spends his time making. It is because of this movie that I feel that way. This movie proves Sandler is capable of more and I hope that one day we see more of it.

I have never successfully talked anyone into watching this movie. I have talked with many people who have already seen it and loved it but I have never actually been able to talk someone into seeing it for the first time. I have even loaned it out a couple of times and had to ask for it back unseen after an unreasonable amount of time. I think that it’s because it’s  easy to read the synopsis and not be interested. It’s also easy to start this movie and immediately find it boring but you have to preserver in this one. You have to let this one suck you in and take you for a ride. Give this movie your time and attention and I absolutely guarantee that not only was it worth your time but that you will probably really enjoy it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Purge (2013)

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Year: 2011
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Written By: Dan Fogelman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I never wanted to watch but simply couldn’t deny that it was good. It covers a topic that I usually steer clear from because it hits too close to home. In this case however I actually think the content is conveyed in an incredibly lighthearted and funny way. When a movie about something I don’t like to watch with actors I don’t particularly care for somehow overcomes all odds and impresses me I feel like I owe it a place in the collection. So one night I found myself up late and allowed Amazon Prime to wear me down with several recommendations and this was one of them.

There are some movies I steer clear of specifically because of content. I can’t stand movies about junkies, I don’t like movies about or involving rape, and I don’t like movies about divorce and affairs. The first two are just things I just don’t care to see because they only make ugly and awful stories. When it comes to divorce and affair it’s just something I, like so many others in my generation, had to suffer through in a time when kids got forgotten and parents simply didn’t know what to do. That’s not how it looks in this movie though as the kids are strong minded and the cuckolded father finds a new energy in life. It’s inspiring and endearing all at the same time. I can’t stand Ryan Gosling, but he is pretty damn cool in this movie and how he coaches the old dog to learn new tricks is awesome.

I typically feel like Steve Carell is too typical and simply redoing his 40 Year Old Virgin/Michael Scott character but that’s not the case in this film. It’s probably time to evaluate that opinion again as he has now undoubtedly moved on from those roles. In this movie he plays such a down to earth guy in an honest situation like any typical guy might find himself in. It is awesome to see him make his transition from middle aged dad to confident ladies man with the help of an unreasonably cool new friend. To see him become cool again gives hope to any person who finds himself in a similarly unfortunate situation in life.

Emma Stone is such a delightful actress and she makes everything she is in better. She brings the greatest element of surprise to this movie and her role comes together in a great and hilarious scene.  As the adult daughter of Steve Carell and Julianne Moore she brings the movie full circle by connecting all the characters. Stone is an actress that shocks me each and every time I see her on screen by being so much better than I expect her to be. She is very funny and very talented as an actress. She has the privilege of working alongside another great in this movie. I have never been the biggest fan of Julianne Moore either but for the life of me I don’t know why. She is a fantastic actress whose star continues to shine brighter with every new performance.

For me, this movie captures love as it actually is. Crazy and stupid. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but the heart wants what the hearts wants. Love can cause more pain than anyone can imagine but can also inspire forgiveness and understanding in a way that we can’t anticipate. Love can confuse and frustrate us, but that is the nature of it. It is an emotion with a mind of it’s own. Some people will never figure that out and are doomed to a lifetime of befuddlement when it comes to dealing with personal relationships. I appreciate and respect love because I recognize it as something that is beyond our understanding. With love the why never matters but all that needs be considered is what “is.” The only hope you can have is that the love is mutual and not one sided. There is no reasoning with love and no denying it. It is an emotion that can build or destroy us. It is a mystery that brings intrigue or disaster to lives all across the world. It has an energy all on its own and it is different for all of us. I can say with true honesty that the only reason I understand love is because I was lucky enough to find it with Amber. It can be crazy and it can be stupid, but it is what it is and my love for her is what makes my life whole.

When it comes to people I don’t think you should ever expect much. In my experience people will follow their own mindset regardless how reasonably you try to persuade them to a more practical mindset. I don’t think you should ever expect any one person to change but be wise enough to recognize it if it actually happens. People can change, but it isn’t something that happens easily. It’s far easier for a bad person to weasel themselves back into a relationship on the pretext of change that is only temporary. That isn’t real love. Real love is the crazy, stupid madness that engulfs a person and makes them capable of doing what they were never able to do before. It’s a sad reality that in plenty of relationships only one person feels true love and that person is doomed to suffer in wanting for something that they can never hope to actually have. Real love does happen though, and it does exist. I hate to admit it but I love this movie about people who are truly in love.

Amber and I watched this today simply as a means to checking it off the to do list and getting another review in the bank. What I didn’t expect was how much the movie would actually get to me. I didn’t expect when we started it that I would love it when we were finished. I had my same stubborn preconceived ideas about this movie before we watched it again but it won me over again despite that. To me that makes it a great film. I think this movie does an excellent job of really capturing what love is and it does it in a fun and funny way. That makes this movie worth your time and I hope you give it a chance.

Final notes on this film. I think John Carroll Lynch is awesome in everything he is in. In a supporting role he brings a lot to this movie. I don’t like the part that Kevin Bacon plays but this movie offers another great chance at getting through a game of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Also, Marisa Tomei is always delightful and beautiful despite age. My father met her once during a premier of Only You at the Uptown Theater in Washington D.C. when he was manager there. She came out of the theater at one point during the viewing and shared a cigarette with him in the lobby. He said she was a really nice person and easy to talk to.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Year: 2014
Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

RYAN’S REVIEW

To date, I think this is the best sequel made by Marvel Studios. Granted I haven’t seen the newest Avengers film yet but by comparison to the Thor and Iron Man sequels I’ve seen this one is way better. I think there are some minor problems with the story of this film but more importantly the action is awesome and nonstop. This movie has a certain distinction for me as it was the film Amber and I attended to get off the street one night while we were in Denver. We were in the city for my birthday and conveniently near a theater when a cool down was needed. It’s also a movie I watched while recovering from a significant concussion recently and I feel like I kind of bonded with it during that vulnerable time. Nevertheless, aside from having specific reasons for being biased towards it I will stand by it in any argument because I think it is an exciting film and it furthers the Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline in a significant way.

I’ll start with what I think is wrong about this movie that I enjoy. I think it is difficult do make solo films for the heroes of the Avengers because the threats that they face alone seem like something that they should all be involved in. Take this movie for example, how is it that SHIELD faces a threat of this magnitude without Iron Man showing up? That’s just a general problem I have but I’m willing to excuse it because I like it and the kid in me will settle for nothing less than loving these movies. The real problem I have with it is I just find it a bit too much that SHIELD is infiltrated to the top position. If the super secret almighty SHIELD can be infiltrated to such a degree isn’t the whole thing in general just silly?

There is one more thing too. Admittedly I hadn’t realized it myself until a friend pointed it out. Why do all the Marvel solo heroes have black sidekicks? How is it Marvel Studios and their parent company Disney could present such a foolish and obvious cliche that won’t sit well when publicly noticed? Iron Man has War Machine, Thor has Heimdal, and Cap has Falcon. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that is going to sit well given the racial climate within the country of late. I have faith Marvel will straighten it all out with the soon to be introduced Black Panther character.

Nevertheless my biggest hang up with this movie is the story but so what? It’s a comic book film right? Why criticize it when it is only made to be fun and enjoyable? Regardless who the bad guys are they are there to present a challenge to our hero and this film does that in spades. Captain America is faced with devastating odds and rises to the occasion as a badass. I think Chris Evans is perfect as Captain America and I like what he brings to the part. He can be both funny and stern which I think is necessary for the character. When the action starts it’s absolutely amazing how well they choreograph fight scenes to incorporate that shield. You wouldn’t think a guy could do so much with a shield but for the third time around in this film Cap defies any reasonable odds. It seems you can do just about any damn thing with a shield if you know how to wield it.

I really like the addition of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon. Something else that gets me about this film is his character. I am a regular quitter of smoking and often find myself wearing a nicotine patch in efforts to quit. Well patches can give you crazy dreams at night and for an extended period of time I had a recurring dream in which I had the wing pack thing the Falcon wears and I spent my nights flying through the air. Aside from that random tidbit I think Falcon is a really cool character and like what he brings to the film. However, his exceptional ability again brings to mind why wasn’t a call placed to Tony Stark when things got dire in this movie? Iron Man certainly wasn’t a member of SHIELD and would be in a better position to aid Cap and Black Widow. That’s just a frustrating aspect of these stories being put into film because now there are contracts and money to consider when doing them.

Samuel L. Jackson is awesome, per usual. He’s been so good as Nick Fury that his likeness made it’s way into the comic somewhere along the line. Having just written about Jackson in our recent Pulp Fiction review I won’t reiterate myself here again about how awesome I think he is. I do like that this movie gives him a really great action scene.

I remember reading the news that Robert Redford had signed on for a role in this film. For me that showed the power of Marvel. I thought it was a big deal when the first film cast Tommy Lee Jones but to get Robert Freakin Redford for the second film seemed huge to me. If you want legitimacy you can’t go wrong with the Sundance Kid as your wing man. I was really surprised in the way his role turned out in this film though. I figured he would opt for hero and not ultimate villain.

In the roles of other bad guys I really like how the Winter Soldier was done and how Brock Rumlow was set up to be a bigger villain in the future as Crossbones.  The next Captain America movie is going to be huge and as I understand it they will both be involved in the next installment. The next installment, Civil War, is primed to be the most awesome film Marvel Studios has made and I can’t wait to see it. When it’s all said and done this trilogy will be the best Marvel has to offer. Iron Man is cool but his movies weren’t all as cool as Cap’s.

I like this movie and I enjoy watching it now and again. It seems destined for significance for us because as we were watching it for this review we got a call with great news. That news and the good feelings it had will now be something else we can associate this film. Nevertheless, on that note I’m going to go ahead and scratch this off my to-do list. We’ve owned it for a while now and it’s been one of several we’ve been trying to find time to work in. Cool movie that is worth your time.

 

Pulp Fiction

Year: 1994
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

RYAN’S REVIEW

There was a time when I thought Quentin Tarantino had played all his cards and this was the best one on the table. I began to believe that whatever made Tarantino so successful was simply his collaboration with Roger Avary. I have since learned the err of that belief but for nearly ten years I developed and held tight to that line of thinking. At a young and influential age I fell in love with Tarantino’s films and had to wait for an appallingly long time with nothing but what I found to be the incredibly disappointing Kill Bill films. Those films, after all, were simply a sub plot from this film. When all he could do in that time was make a film based on a line from his most popular film I took it as a sign. In this film Uma Thurman’s character was on a pilot TV show thats plot was basically the story of Kill Bill. However, in the years since Inglourious Basterds we have seen that I was wrong all along and just a bitter fan getting pissy about wanting something new and incredible to see.

Tarantino has always had a mind for writing snazzy dialogue and it is on full display in this film. From the opening scene in the restaurant this movie immediately grabs your attention and then takes advantage of it with a charming scene of two hit men casually carrying out their jobs on a group of targets. Tarantino is a perfect example of why writing matters. He has always been successful delivering us shock in awe but the base of what makes him great is his writing. From there it goes up to his work behind the camera and if there is one flaw in him it’s his determination to get in front of the camera himself. I thought he was good in Reservoir Dogs and good in this film but I think he stretches it too much. I think it’s obvious Tarantino is a cool guy to meet and people are drawn to him in the business. Every one of his films has been cast with not simply a big actor but a group of them with others clamoring for cameos. I remember hearing somewhere along the way that he would make friends easily with actors and offer them parts in his next movie. Regardless how it happens I have always loved directors who worked with larger casts and Tarantino is one of the reasons I have that preference.

I heard once that this was the film that revived John Travolta’s career and I know that’s true because he preceded it with a third Look Who’s Talking film. If that isn’t something you do only when your career is in the dumps I don’t know what is. I think that is interesting because this role wasn’t even originally intended for him. If I’m not mistaken I think the role was supposed to go to Michael Madsen but he had a scheduling conflict. I can say honestly that I think Travolta was great in this movie and it seems to fit with film history that he is dancing on screen again in such a comeback. Nevertheless, Michael Madsen would he been better. There is nobody in the business cooler or colder than Mr. Blonde. Had he actually played his counterpart to Vic Vega his whole career may have been different and for the better. Movies didn’t get enough of Michael Madsen; he should have had a better agent in the 90s. The only problem is that the character of Vincent Vega appears befuddled and confused now and again, he gets killed by leaving his gun in the kitchen and well….he shot Marvin in the face. I couldn’t see Michael Madsen being so foolish. Plus, junkies are never cool, I think Vincent Vega using heroin makes him a liability more than an asset to a criminal organization and that drops his cool factor significantly. Heroin users aren’t cool; they’re afflicted with a problem that will eventually drive them to desperation.

This movie sports many cameos but one of my favorite of all time is the one performed by Christopher Walken. I am a huge fan of Walken and this film may very well be the reason why. Nobody has a cadence like Walken; his voice is great for comedians doing impressions. He has a presence about him, and he makes every film he is a part of better. Speaking of guys who make every film better, Steve Buscemi also sports a cameo in this movie. I love seeing Buscemi in anything but when he makes such a brief appearance in this film I just feel cheated.  Another cameo that shouldn’t go unmentioned is that of Peter Greene, which in truth shouldn’t be called a cameo but a part. Greene, like Madsen, is an actor that never got enough screen time. He has a sinister look about him, perfect for the part of Zed.

As it’s time to speak of Jed, Bruce Willis needs be mentioned. I have grown up as a fan of one of the greatest action heroes of my time. John McClain, Korben Dallas, and Joe freakin Hallenbeck for cryin out loud. Who better to wield a samurai sword against sex criminals? Bruce Willis embodies what a badass is supposed to be through my eyes that grew up in the nineties. In truth, this has never really been my favorite role of his, but under most circumstances I have always felt like Willis could do no wrong. I tend to pull for the mobsters in these types of films and Willis is as close to a good guy as it gets in this movie. The mobsters are great though, Ving Rhames easily gave his finest performance as Marsellus Wallace. Never quite understood why the boss was picking up the coffee in the scene when he crosses paths with Butch but otherwise he brings it as a powerful and intimidating bad guy. The kind of guy you definitely don’t want to drag down into the basement of sodomy and do things to.

While I feel like Travolta’s Vega is a bit on the goofy side as a hitman I think Samuel L. Jackson is the complete opposite as Jules. Jules is such a cool and compelling character that it could be argued that Jackson has cashed in on it more than 20 times over. I am a huge fan of Jackson but it is very often when I feel like he is simply doing his Jules from Inglewood routine. He gets loud, uses some profanity, and then something crazy happens. I still love it though, in fact I own Snakes on a Plane for no other reason than I love Samuel L Jackson being himself. The role of Jules was specifically written for Samuel L. Jackson after he failed to land a role he auditioned for in Reservoir Dogs so I think there is a lot of him in this character. Jackson has over 160 credits as an actor and continues to work at a rate that barely anybody can keep up with. The majority of those roles started piling up after this film. With “great fury and powerful vengeance” he took the industry by storm after his Oscar nominated role as Jules and there is no end in sight to his success.

This is the type of movie that offers a lot of talking points but I don’t feel the need to rehash old conversations because it is all out there now. We know that Jules’ biblical speech was written for the film and not specifically taken out of the Bible. We know there was nothing specifically in the briefcase. To which the answer never seems good enough for people, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Tarantino is still to this day badgered about that question. Theories include the soul Marsellus and even the diamonds stolen in Reservoir Dogs, but it has been said a dozen times by Tarantino and Avary both that the contents of the box were specifically left up to the viewer. We have an eye now for the Tarantino brands like Big Kahuna Burger and Apple cigarettes. I love the type of director Tarantino is and if he wasn’t such a genius people wouldn’t continue to talk about these things after over 20 years. He is making some great movies these days but this one will always be one of his greatest.

I love how he films these independent stories that are all random but tie together in the end. I love how it comes full circle with the robbery of the restaurant. Amanda Plummer is shocking with her sudden ferocity and so vulnerable in the end when the heat it turned up. I think it is such a compelling performance. Tim Roth is great too as the level headed stick up man. In limited screen time Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are able to convey such a powerful and interesting relationship. It’s great written dialogue and great acting all around. The “Bad Motherfucker” wallet that Pumpkin has to fish back for Jules actually belonged to Quentin Tarantino. I actually have one myself that Amber got me as a gift a few years ago. I keep it as a joke with a younger license inside with things from the past. The way I see it that younger version of myself may have been a “Bad Motherfucker” but these days I’m a domesticated husband and father so I keep it simply for the novelty of it and to joke about from time to time.

I haven’t mentioned two of the most important people in this film but let me explain why. I am not and have never been a fan of Uma Thurman. While I’ll admit she is great in this movie I haven’t thought Mia’s character was anything exceptional. I detest the use of heroin and her character’s OD scene doesn’t impress me as it might others. She looks really cool with the short black hair but I’m just not into it. Tarantino obviously likes her a lot though as he used her in Kill Bill and continues to allude to a third film as well. The Kill Bill movies are absent from our collection and normally I would buy such a film specifically to write about it here but I simply won’t have them in my collection. With the ease of Amazon Prime many unlikely titles have made it into the collection in recent years but at Kill Bill I draw a line. Those movies are garbage and I will not give in simply for the sake of how awesome Tarantino was and is again with new success.

The other I’ve failed to mention was that of Harvey Keitel. Nothing against him but I have always felt like the Wolf was a little overdone. I think the character is really cool, but much like Uma, I’m just not into it. Keitel is as much the reason for the success of Tarantino as anybody though so he is due plenty of respect. If I’m not mistaken he was the first actor to get behind Tarantino and had a lot to do with getting the wheels rolling on Reservoir Dogs. The role of the Wolf was specifically written for him and it’s a really cool role. I just never felt so impressed about this freaky fast Mr. Fix Anything guy. I do want to believe that guy is out there utilized by criminal organizations because it’s such a cool idea but I feel like a guy who shows up in the AM wearing a tuxedo is just too much. Are to believe this totally efficient guy is also pulling all nighters with the sophisticated crowd that parties in formal wear? I may love this movie, but even as an easily influenced adolescent obsessed with this movie I found it a bit silly back in the day.

This is a movie that has survived in popularity for an awfully long time and anybody that watches it understands why. I have a memory that has never left in which my future step mother talked about this film and the things she had heard about it swearing to never watch it. It was the syringe scene she mentioned specifically. That memory always makes me laugh a little because this movie is not for the faint of heart. There are people like my step mother out there that simply cannot handle a movie like this and I find it comical in a strange way. For the rest of us though, this is really something to enjoy. You can’t call yourself a movie buff without a healthy dose of viewings on this one. It’s a classic that will continue to be popular for years to come and influence countless more rebellious youths as it once did to me. This movie is without doubt worth your time over and over again.

NEXT MOVIE: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)