Month: September 2011

Bowling For Columbine

Year: 2002
Directed By: Michael Moore
Written By: Michael Moore

RYAN’S REVIEW

I will never stand up for Michael Moore and defend him, but maybe the man does have a point from time to time. There are an alarming number of stupid people out there armed with guns. Michael Moore is a very hated man and for good reason really, nobody likes a smartass.  Despite what you may think about him this movie is still something I think everyone should see.  It’s entertaining, it’s interesting, and it is emotionally captivating at times.  At its core it is about a great national tragedy that affected many of us very deeply when it happened. In the pre-9/11 America the Columbine shooting was one of the greatest American tragedies of all time.  There was a lot of media attention and it hit home all across the country.

The Columbine shooting happened on my 15th birthday, April 20th 1999, I was a freshman in high school.  It was a strange and dramatic time to be a high school student. I think every school in the country had to endure at least one bomb threat of their own, threats and feuds were taken more seriously, and for a while things were different.  I remember the tragedy being the topic of discussion for several church functions and Sunday school classes.  It was an appalling crime and it seemed to go on for a while in the news because the shooters had placed boobie traps and bombs around the school.  The actual school footage and 911 phone calls in this movie are incredible and very moving.  Michael Moore is a talented director, among other things, and the Columbine shooting sequence serves as proof to that.

Michael Moore tries to cram an awful lot into this movie but somehow manages to make it work.  He somehow manages to bounce around but always bring everything back to the central theme all throughout the film.  He is an obnoxious man at times, what he does to both Charlton Heston and Dick Clarke is wrong. He isn’t completely wrong either though and he makes a point about gun control.  I believe in the right to bear arms, but within reason too.  I don’t see the point in a citizen owning an automatic weapon, or anything beyond hunting rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

I can’t argue with anyone who can’t stomach Michael Moore for the length of this movie, but I dare them to try to not laugh in the process. It is a clever and witty documentary and if nothing else it is important that we remember the events the film covers.  I’m always timid recommending this movie to people because of its political nature. Personally I’m not political anymore, I realized I wasn’t going to change the world a while ago, but a lot of people take these things very seriously so buyer beware.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Michael Moore really does prove an important point with this documentary. Guns are too easy for kids and teenagers to obtain. I am not a huge fan or supporter of Michael Moore, but this documentary I find to be intriguing and truthful. I was an 8th grader when the Columbine shootings happened. I still remember it to this day. In this film when he shows the footage of that day, I still find myself getting sad and teary eyed. If guns weren’t so easily accessible to these guys, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. It completely could have, but it would have been harder. As Americans, we feel like we are entitled to say, do, be and feel however we want no matter how it may affect other people. As a nation and society, for the most part, we are extremely selfish and only care about numero uno…ourselves. We feel like the right to bear arms is a right, and maybe it is, but I still feel like it should be really hard to obtain a gun. If you are responsible and can prove it then I think you should be able to bear arms, but the problem is that too many people who don’t deserve and can’t handle guns are allowed to obtained them on a daily basis. You hear of kids getting their parent’s guns all the time and accidentally shooting themselves, or taking them to school because they think it’s cool. We need to step back as a nation and really try to understand the process of obtaining firearms and decide if our processes are working or not. Michael Moore does an excellent job in this film at putting that question into the minds of Americans.

NEXT MOVIE: Braveheart (1995)

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The Bourne Ultimatum

Year: 2007
Directed By: Paul Greengress
Written By: Tony Gilroy and Robert Ludlum

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ll be honest, I really didn’t put much effort into that last post.  I was caught off guard a bit by how boring Supremacy was and I didn’t care enough to write much about it.  This however, is a much better Jason Bourne movie.  It’s interesting, faced paced, and action packed.

This movie may be better. I may like it more than the second film and maybe the most of the franchise but I don’t have much to say about it nonetheless. Matt Damon is great as Jason Bourne.  Julia Stiles is again exceptionally beautiful and in an expanded role.  All the old regulars are back but this time around there is no Bryan Cox to deal with, which can only make the franchise better right? David Strathairn and Albert Finney are the newcomers. Strathairn is great and Finney isn’t bad but I am not a fan of Finney.  Paul Greengrass did a better job with this Bourne film but I am not really a fan of his work.

I have never read anything by Robert Ludlum but I am under the impression that the films are only loosely based on his books.  This genre isn’t really my favorite but I love a good action movie and this movie is full of great action.  If you watched the other Bourne movies then you will surely like this one.  I think this one is as good if not better than the first film.  It is worth your time and I would recommend it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love a good action movie and as a series I really enjoy these films. They take you on a ride and it is fun to watch. After a few though, I wish they would stop. People say they love Mission Impossible like these, but I feel like once you have made a million of them it is time to stop. Overall a really good series of films.

NEXT MOVIE: Bowling For Columbine (2002)

The Bourne Supremacy

Year: 2004
Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Written By: Tony Gilroy and Robert Ludlum

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have said several times that a good sequel should be a bigger and better version  of the original film.  That is not true in this case and I think this is the weakest of the franchise.  This movie has less action and a weaker story that tends to be confusing at times.  Karl Urban is a great choice for the villain and Julia Stiles is exceptionally attractive in this movie but there is little else I have to say about it beyond that.  I don’t really like the film and wouldn’t recommend it. It has its moments but it’s just not enough.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I didn’t like this one as much as the first one, but it is still just another fun and easy watch as far as action movies go. I don’t really have to think too much to watch any of these movies and I like that in an action movie. I would rather see how all the action pans out and how the story comes together. This is an okay bridge between the first and third, but not my favorite one in this series.

NEXT MOVIE: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The Bourne Identity

Year: 2002
Directed By: Doug Liman
Written By: Tony Gilroy and Robert Ludlum

RYAN’S REVIEW

It took me many years to see this film, in fact I don’t think it was until after the third film was released that I saw any of the Bourne movies.  I wasn’t willing to accept Matt Damon as an action star or even a serious actor in 2002 when this movie was released.  At that time he and Ben Affleck seemed to be glued at the hip and I always found them annoying and not funny.  I was wrong about Matt Damon though, he is a great actor as he proves with this movie and many others.  Looking back I don’t know why I had that opinion and didn’t see the film.  If The Matrix could have Keanu Reeves doing Kung-Fu then why couldn’t Matt Damon do a little Jeet Kune Do in the Jason Bourne film?  The truth is that the genre isn’t really one that appeals to me, I’m not usually a fan of the superspy genre, though there are exceptions.  The Bourne movies are great but they all have the feel of a Jack Ryan story to me, and I have never been a Jack Ryan fan.  That’s why I like these movies but don’t love them.  I am a sucker for a good fight scene too, and Matt Damon surprised me with his capabilities in that aspect.

Matt Damon may have fought and drove his ass off through this high paced action packed thriller but he wasn’t the only one, it has a good overall cast.  I am not a huge Chris Cooper fan but I can stomach him and admit when he is very good.  I cannot stand Brian Cox though, in fact I loathe him to no end, but this isn’t the only movie I have to put up with him through because I like the movie.  The man is just so damned prolific, he is in a ton of movies and I cannot stand him.  This role however is what he is made for and I can’t deny that, I still don’t like him though.  Franka Potente plays the female lead, I know little of her in fact I did not even mention her in our post for Blow despite her playing a significant role in that film.  She is good in this movie and she has good chemistry with Damon.  Clive Owen was a rising star when this movie came out and he fitted in nicely with the rest of the cast, as did Julia Stiles and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

This movie is fast paced and action packed, a movie that nearly anyone will enjoy watching.  It was a good starting off point for a very successful franchise.  This movie is definitely worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoy these movies. The first time I watched the first one, I thought it was a crazy amazing thrill ride. it keeps going and going and keeps you on your toes. You are constantly trying to figure out what is going on and who is who and why are these things happening. It is a thrill ride from the beginning to the end. I have never read the books, but I hear they are even better than the adapted movies. I almost don’t want to ruin what the movies have done for me with this story about Jason Bourne. It doesn’t matter who you are these movies are all really good and worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The Bounty

Year: 1984
Directed By: Roger Donaldson
Written By: Richard Hough and Robert Bolt

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was in college studying history the first time I saw this movie.  So naturally I enjoyed it both because of its relation to my field and of course, the natural native nakedness.  It was not in any class that I saw this for the first time though.  I believe it was around 2004 when I saw it because it was on television all the time, and it would have fallen on a 20 anniversary.  This movie sports a great cast and an interesting story based on actual historical events.

Anthony Hopkins plays Lt. Bligh, the captain of the Bounty who lost his ship to an angry mutinous crew. Hopkins has an intensity that he brings to his characters and this movie is a great example of it. As Captain Bligh he has a temper that strikes fear and a look that will turn you cold.  His unreasonable demeanor will make you understand how he managed to lose the favor of his crew.  Mel Gibson isn’t bad in this movie, he does have his crazy Lt. Riggs moment during the mutiny though. Is it possible that the making of this movie with all the native nakedness had any influence on Mel Gibson’s decision to make Apocalypto? This wasn’t Daniel Day-Lewis’s best role, it wasn’t even particularly good, but it would be a crime to not mention him.  Liam Neeson plays a good part in the film, I have to mention him because Amber is in love with him. Not the last movie Laurence Olivier made but it was at the end of his career.

I don’t know very much as far as historical accuracy goes, I can say truthfully that no film is actually accurate despite its intentions.  I have done a little bit of research as I always do though.  The film isn’t 100% accurate, The Bounty never tried to sail around Cape Horn among other minor inaccuracies.  The film did many things right though as you can plainly see when you watch the movie.  It may be deemed inappropriate by some however, the nakedness may be of good intentions and natural but it is still aggressive nonetheless. I think many would agree that there is a lot to learn from this movie.  This is also a good movie and worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I didn’t even know we owned this movie. When we watched this the other night, I actually had to play close attention because I realized that I had never seen it before. Soon after I was completely sucked in and watched it through to the end. I really enjoyed this story line, which is surprising to me. i thought this movie looked like something I wouldn’t really be interested in, but I was wrong. This story is different and it also includes a lot of actors that we know really well now, and they looked like babies in this film. This was even pre-crazy Mel Gibson. He is skinny and young and actually quite attractive. Anthony Hopkins look super dapper in this movie, and super young. The story is great, like I said and I think it is hard for us in today’s time to think about a world where you have to travel by ship to reach different lands and learn different cultures. The British thought that the Tahitians were savages, and really after watching the movie, you in some way side with their way of life. They are all about happiness and being carefree and loving and making love. The British soon fall in love with their culture and way of life and this upsets the ship’s captain, played by Hopkins. The turmoil that happens within the crew after is what sets up the conflict.

This movie is definitely worth watching, especially if you haven’t seen it before. It is interesting and worth the time to put yourself into a different time and place.

NEXT MOVIE: The Bourne Identity (2002)

Blow

Year: 2001
Directed By: Ted Demme
Written By: Bruce Porter

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was 17 when I saw this movie for the first time and it fueled my juvenile fantasies of being a gangster.  It had the same affect on many of my friends as well but it was merely a phase for some.  This is a great movie despite any bad influence it may have had on me and my peers as youths.  Its name belongs right up there with the other great films in its genre like Goodfellas, Casino, and The Godfather.  While those movies all center around the Italian Mafia they do have one big things in common with Blow, which has no Italian Mafia elements.  It’s that white powder that they are all involved with in the end.  This movie is not as iconic and fantastic as Scarface but it is an interesting story about a real life criminal and the movie was well made.

I have said before that this was the last good movie Johnny Depp made, and while I don’t believe that any longer it is still a great movie for him.  He is cool and his ageless quality came in handy when he played this part of a man who ages over twenty years during the film. Paul Reubens revived his career with this movie but was unable to turn that success into anything meaningful.  I will never forget the cover of Entertainment Weekly that had his picture on it.  He had powder all over his nose and the front of his face and the tagline said “Pee-Wee does Blow!” Penelope Cruz is unbelievably smoking hot and the obvious choice for the Colombian wife of George Jung.  Ray Liotta has a natural place in movies like this and is well cast as Geroge Jung’s father.  I am not overly familiar with the work of Ted Demme but I understand this movie had a bad influence on him as well.  A much worse influence I should say as he died about a year after this movie was released from a massive heart attack brought on by using too much cocaine.

This movie might make you want to relive some of the good old days if you aren’t careful but it is still a fantastic movie.  I do not know how historically accurate the movie it, I have studied Pablo Escobar at some length but still know very little of George Jung outside of what I have seen in this film.  Crime movies are always very exciting and offer alot of like.  This movie is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoy this film. I heard someone tell me last week that they had never watched this film because they were not a big Johnny Depp fan. I think that is a completely stupid reason to have never watched this film. It is art in movie format and depicts the story of a man on a mission. His mission may be drugs, but it is his mission as he sees it and we follow him through his trials and tribulations. The story itself is based on quite a real story and to have such a monotonous life, his life is quite thrilling and amazing to someone like me. With movies like this I feel like we can live out some of our fantasies through the characters on the screen.

All of the actors in this film play their role to the “T” and it shows. The story is believable, and you can ride along in the crime and drug filled events that take place. This is a great movie and is completely worth the time to watch it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Bounty (1984)

Blood Simple

Year: 1984
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

A couple of years ago Amber and I realized that there were several Coen brother films we had yet to see we started to watch them all in the order they were made.  So this was the one we began with as it is the first film made by the fantastic film making brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. This film didn’t disappoint us, in fact it excited us because it gave merit to our hunch that we had a lot to look forward to.  This is a low-budget movie, starring actors of little renown, but it is brilliant nonetheless.  From the moment it begins it is captivating and it really draws you in.  The Coens were born to make movies, they are writing/directing/producing/editing machines and they are so good at what they do. They have been doing it since I have been born and will hopefully continue to do so till I am an old man.

This story is a basic idea in reality.  A wife is having an affair with one of her husband’s employees and her husband hires a man to kill them.  It’s a story as old as stories get but the Coen brothers manage to do it like it’s the first time.  Watching this film you find yourself so sucked in that you would think it was the most original idea in history.  You would think the cast and crew were all A-list celebrities but they were rookies and nobodies all of them.  The Coen brothers were nobodies and you can tell by the obvious lack of budget.  Frances McDormand is a Coen brothers regular and wife actually, she is married to Joel Coen and they have enjoyed a great career together.  Both have had great success working together particularly with Fargo in which I think they both won Academy Awards.  Dan Hedaya has enjoyed a nice career of mediocrity but he does well playing a larger part in this movie.  M. Emmet Walsh has been around forever and been doing this forever, he can be difficult to understand at times in this film but he plays quite a character all the same.  The Coen brothers have peppered all their films with very colorful and interesting characters, P.I./hitman Loren Visser was the first of many.

I don’t think you can call any Coen brothers film their best because they have made too many that were great. While my favorite is The Big Lebowski I can’t call it their best, Fargo was great, Raising Arizona was awesome, and we can’t forget about No Country for Old Men, The Hudsucker Proxy, or Intolerable Cruelty. Yet there is this one as well, its name has to be brought up not only because it is their first movie but also because it could be suggested as their best. I think that were this movie made today it would be nominated for best picture and the likes, yet these days everything the Coen brothers do gets nominated and for good reason.

I hope you give this film a chance because it is worth your time and you will enjoy it.  I hope that I can encourage you to do what Amber and I did a year ago and watch all the Coen brother films.  They are great movies all of them and they keep getting better.

AMBER’S REVIEW

We do so love the Coen Brothers. This is an amazingly made movie, so simple and intriguing. They really like to create movies that are situational. They create these stories about amazing situations that you really only hear in crazy news in real life. This movie is eerie and creepy. This movie makes me think of No Country For Old Men. The scenery and the quietness of the movie is what really leads to the creepiness of it.

Ryan and I tried to live mundane lives, because really…any of the Coen Brothers movies could happen to anyone in the real world. If you have a rich father in law and you were on the verge of going broke, you may hire kidnappers like Fargo. And if you sleep with your husband’s co-worker, be wary because the plot of this movie could happen to you.

NEXT MOVIE: Blow (2001)