Month: February 2012

Devil’s Advocate

Year: 1997
Directed By: Taylor Hackford
Written By: Andrew Neiderman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a somewhat interesting film that I think ultimately could have been made better by a different filmmaker.  It is the product of several rewrites and revisions during production and if I had to guess is probably only remotely resembles the book it was based on by Andrew Neiderman.  However I haven’t read that book and am only making an assumption.  It is an interesting film that gets boring at times. It has loose connections to John Milton’s Paradise Lost and I find that interesting enough.  Throw in Al Pacino as the devil and people are going to pay to see it.  I used to be much more interested in these “Grisham-esque” films that were popular during 90s but this wasn’t one of the better ones.

The driving force of this film is the performance of Al Pacino, but aren’t so many of his films that way? I am not really the biggest Pacino fan but he has always had an uncanny ability of carrying a movie on his own with really stellar performances. His presence gives this film the only validity that it has because he is a great choice to play the devil.  His character is obviously named from the author of the famed epic poem Paradise Lost that the film makes some allusions to.  He is cool and natural in this role because the part was tailored specifically for him. The several re-writes I mentioned were done in an effort to get Pacino to accept the part. I think Keanu Reeves does a relatively decent job acting in this film. He isn’t even close to being on Pacino’s level but he does keep up with him well enough. This film came out right before Reeves hit it big in 1999 with The Matrix, and perhaps this role played a part in getting the attention of the producers of the sci-fi thriller. I have never been a big fan of Charlize Theron especially since she made Monster. I didn’t even seen that film but have never been able to look at her the same way again.  She isn’t bad in this movie as the wife slowly driven to madness though.  Her role brings the vague horror element to the film, along with Pacino’s occasional moments up until he reveals his sinister side and everything changes.  I used to be a fan of Jeffery Jones and he is in many films that I really love but I can’t speak favorably about a pervert of his kind. In 2001 Jones was charges with possession of kiddie porn and has since been a registered sex offender.

This isn’t a film that I can put my stamp of approval on.  It doesn’t do a good job captivating the viewer and I have found myself overcome with boredom during this re-watching. Now that we have reached the end I think the film was far too long and the end doesn’t do enough to make up for that fact.  The end is a bit strange altogether really because the movie takes such a sudden change in tone and content.  Through most of the film Pacino is merely a shady lawyer with a mysterious aura surrounding him but then he enters the church and all hell breaks loose. There are some supernatural elements all throughout the film but at the end they just turn the volume way up and it messes with the flow of the story. This is a movie that I used to like and it does have its merits but now I’d say watch at your own risk. If you find it to be enjoyable and worth your time let me know what you think about it, I would love to hear some other points of view on this one.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie has very interesting parts to it. I think for the most part, you are always trying to figure something out  and wondering about this and that, but I also think this movie totally loses it at the very end. Not only is it incredibly long and drawn out, but it ends in such a crazy way. I think you guys all know how I feel about Keanu. I just think that he is horrible unless he is playing an idiot teenager or an alien or a part with hardly any words. I love Pacino, but how can you not? And, honestly who better to play a Devil like character? This film is set in New York City, probably the most sinful city in the world out side of Las Vegas and I think that is appropriate. This film is interesting, but not one of my favorites and I really don’t even know what it is doing in our collection.

By the way, just something that I find funny. Ryan’s vocabulary is wide and he usually corrects my grammar and pronunciation, but for some strange reason he cannot pronounce this movie title correctly to save his life. He calls it the “The Devil’s Acovete.”

NEXT MOVIE: The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

The Devil’s Rejects

Year: 2006
Directed By: Rob Zombie
Written By: Rob Zombie

RYAN’S REVIEW

This blog, among other things, gives us a reason to watch the movies we own. Since we have started it we have watched every movie that we have reviewed before writing our reviews.  Until this film that is. We have not watched this film and won’t be doing so at all for this review.  Amber and I just had our second child this past week, and I cannot bring myself to watch this kind of film after such a joyful and positive event.  This movie is vile, it’s evil, and it isn’t something I think anybody would be in the mood for after bringing a new child into this world.

I own this movie because I really enjoyed its predecessor, but in truth I have never really liked much about this one. I think House of 1,000 Corpses was an awesome movie, a great horror film when all horror films seemed to be remakes.  This one is a bit different though; I have always thought it felt more like an evil and sadistic action film than an actual horror film.  This movie isn’t scary like the first one is, it’s just really disturbing.  It’s a movie about bad people doing bad things.  There are no heroes in this film; even the good guy is bad and only interested in doing bad things to the bad guys.  I do admire a lot of the cast for this film though.  I was a big fan of Sid Haig‘s performance as Captain Spaulding in the first film, and I remember him being OK in this one as well.  I think Sheri Moon Zombie is really hot but she is so twisted and sick in these films, but I liked her better in the first film.  Bill Moseley scares the ever loving hell out of me in both movies, that man could scare the devil himself I think; he has a voice that instantly offsets your nerves. This movie also sports a couple actors I really like in small roles. Notably Ken Foree from the original Dawn of the Dead and Danny Trejo from nearly everything.  I do like Rob Zombie as a filmmaker too, but only because of his first film.  I haven’t really been thrilled with what he did with the Halloween remakes, and I had high hopes.  This film is a good example of how Zombie tends to overuse gore and violence a bit.  Which can work in some situations but he takes it a bit too far in most of his films.

I’m not going to tell you not to watch this film or that this film isn’t worth your time because I haven’t seen it in some time.  I might find that I did like something about it if I had taken the time to watch it.  The birth of my second child has just filled me with so many positive emotions that I couldn’t see watching this movie being a good idea. Ironically enough the next movie we will be watching and reviewing will be The Devil’s Advocate and I don’t have a problem with that one.  This movie specifically is just too much for me right now, it has more violence and gore than I can stomach at the moment. Not only that but this movie is far too evil to watch with such an innocent and precious baby in the house.

Also, just a note, this is being published out of order simply because we haven’t had the time to sit and watch The Devil’s Advocate yet.  I just churned this review out to get it out of the way and we will go back to the appropriate order afterwards.

NEXT MOVIE: Dick Tracy (1990)

Desperado

Year: 1995
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

What a cool action movie, Robert Rodriguez is really good at these shoot em up films.  This movie made a big splash in 1995. It not only ushered Antonio Banderas into the spotlight but it also introduced us all to Rodriguez and Salma Hayek as well. It’s really violent and really exciting with non-stop gun fighting as the mysterious musician kills his way to the top of the drug cartel.   This is the second movie in the Robert Rodriguez “Mexico Trilogy,” the sequel to his 1992 independent film El Mariachi.

Rodriguez has a lot of pride in his nationality, it is more than obvious in all his films.  Rodriguez usually writes his action stars as strong and powerful Mexican heroes. We see this not only in the Mariachi films but also in Machete and Planet Terror. Antonio Banderas plays that part in this film and does it very well.  He looks good and he shoots the hell out of everyone. Has there ever been a woman more beautiful that Salma Hayek?  This was her first American movie and her career easily took off afterwards because she is just so smoking hot.  Joaquim de Almeida is great as the bad guy, a role he usually plays well. Rodriguez favorites Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo both have parts.  I am a really big fan of Danny Trejo and have liked him in nearly everything I have seen him in.  Steve Buscemi and Quentin Tarantino also bring a lot to the film with their parts.  I don’t think Tarantino is worth much in his attempts to be an actor but I think he does do a good job in this movie.  Buscemi as usual is great, his presence instantly makes any movie better.

This movie is simple but it is a cool film that is a lot of fun to watch.  It didn’t and wouldn’t win any awards but I think it is worth your time nonetheless.  Like I have said before, sometimes we all need a good mindless action flick to turn our brains off with from time to time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I usually give the action movies Ryan makes me watch a chance, but usually there is something I can find entertaining in them.  This movie doesn’t have much that appeals to me, it obviously wasn’t made for women. I like Salma Hayek but in this movie she is only eye candy for the men.  This movie was made for men and I sympathize with any other women who are forced by their husbands to sit through it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

The Departed

Year: 2006
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: William Monahan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was considered by some to be the pinnacle of Martin Scorsese‘s career after it won the Academy Awards for best direction and best picture, among others.  It won those awards honorably because this is an exceptional movie and aside from the fact that he had such a great cast to work with Scorsese has just gotten really good at what he does. I don’t think this is Scorsese’s best, as good as it is it’s still a recycled movie, and I think Scorsese has made much better films. I call it recycled because this movie is based off of a Hong Kong film that came out years earlier. I am disappointed with the idea that we have to borrow ideas from the other side of the world in order to have hits, but it’s hard to argue with such an exciting and entertaining movie.

Scorsese did do a great job making this movie but I think he had a lot to work with as far as script and talent go.  He gathered a great cast of very talented actors and some of them really distinguished themselves with this film.  Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of his generation, he outdoes himself with nearly every film and has been doing so since a young age. I think he is terrific in this film but I think he and Scorsese’s best collaboration was Gangs of New York in 2002.  I am not the biggest Jack Nicholson fan but I think he did do a great job in this movie. He was given a lot of freedom with his character in order to make him more provocative and unpredictable. He used the freedom to great benefit for the film.  Ray Winstone as his right hand man Mr. French is awesome, I am a big Winstone fan.  Matt Damon is good and well cast in his part.  Alec Baldwin is great in his small but important role.  Martin Sheen was cast when Robert De Niro had a scheduling conflict and that’s too bad. I am a fan of Anthony Anderson but I don’t know that he was appropriately cast in this film.

I think the actor that distinguishes himself the most in this film is Mark Wahlberg, who really stood out among such an elite cast.  I do not like Wahlberg but cannot deny his talent due to roles like this.  I have had a problem with Wahlberg since seeing a documentary about him a while back.  When I found out that Wahlberg had spent time in prison for what pretty much amounts to a hate crime I developed a different attitude toward him.  When he was younger he was arrested for beating a Vietnamese man almost to death with a blunt object in order to steal a six pack of beer from him while screaming racial slurs. He spent some time in jail for that and when he got out of jail his brother was part of New Kids on the Block.  He became the opening act as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  Later he was discovered by Calvin Klein and used as an underwear model.  He soon began an acting career and the rest is history.  Today he is not only a superstar actor but a successful producer involved with HBO.  I have to admit he is talented but I really despise a racist douche bag and hate it every time I have to accept that he was good in something. Despite all his success he has never made an effort to make amends with the man that he blinded for life.  I consider it unfortunate when that kind of person reaches the level of success that Wahlberg is at, but it happens all the time.

This was a great movie and given that it won best picture of the year plenty of people saw it and offered their opinions.  You don’t need me to tell you this was a good film because you have probably already been told.  I don’t think this movie is quite as good as everyone makes it out to be but I do think it was a really awesome movie.  It is worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of those movies that will suck you into the story line. It is filled with stars that everyone knows, and it truly is an unforgettable movie. You can’t really guess what is going to happen and as soon as you think you have it figured it out, it changes and leaves you guessing again.

This movie is filled with attractive actors and seasoned pros. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it. It was very, very popular when it came out and I haven’t met anyone that has seen it that doesn’t like it.

NEXT MOVIE: Desperado (1995)

Movies By Request

We decided a few weeks ago to do some movies outside the collection for those who occasionally suggest films to us.  While this blog is mainly for the movies that we own, what they mean to us and how they have influenced our lives, we watch movies all the time.  I think it’s rather obvious but I have come to really enjoy writing about these films so we are going to start writing about some new ones on occasion.  These films will be put in their own category “Movies By Request” much like the “Movies Not To Watch” that we occasionally post.   The movies in this section will be ones suggested to us through friends, Facebook, and comments on the blog. For the first “Movies By Request” we have seen a film someone suggested to us on Facebook.

The Yakuza

Year: 1975
Directed By: Sydney Pollack
Written By: Paul Schrader and Robert Towne

RYAN’S REVIEW

When Amber told me someone had suggested this film on Facebook I had never heard of it but was immediately interested because of the title alone.  I am very interested in criminal organizations of all kinds and the Japanese Yakuza is an organization I don’t know enough about.  I find Japanese culture really fascinating though and really enjoy films that do a good job contrasting our two very different ways of life. I am also already interested in this film because it was directed by Sydney Pollack.  We don’t own any of his films and when he died a few years ago I remember wondering why we hadn’t seen more of his films.    

This is the kind of movie that I can see will get better each time I watch it.  It has a deep and significant story that you can pick up more with each viewing. I am a huge fan of movies about something real and this movie definitely qualifies there.  It has a story that focuses on the nearly forgotten problems that preceded Japan’s economic boom in the 1970s and the changes that came after. The screenplay was written by long-established and well-known Hollywood screenwriters Paul Schrader and Robert Towne.  Robert Mitchum did a great job playing the Bronson-esque retired detective Kilmer.  The co-staring role was exceptional because Ken Takakaru was cast.  Not often were Asian actors given significant roles in American films at the time.  I like to think that Bruce Lee and his success the year before with Enter The Dragon paved the way for Takakura in this role.  He did a great job and was specifically good in the climactic ending when he and Kilmer clean house at the Yakuza gambling den.

This movie reminds me a lot of the Roger Moore James Bond films because many of them were made in the same era.  There are no similarities as far as theme or plot go but in the style of the movies.  The cinematography of the decade is where the similarities are. As viewers today we typically demand more action, more blood, and more death from our action films.  I tend to prefer the honest action films of our fathers though, the movies like this where the hero could be an aged man enjoying his retirement. The movie can indulge the story more because viewers had more patience back then.  It makes for a better movie all around and that is the case in this film.

This film was brought to our attention by Lionell on Facebook who said that it was his favorite film.  I am happy he took the time to respond to the question because I enjoyed the movie and hope I have encouraged others to see it. If you have a movie you would like reviewed feel free to let us know and we will work it in.

Demolition Man

Year: 1993
Directed By: Marco Brambilla
Written By: Robert Reneau and Peter M. Lenkov

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s movies like this one that led to confusion later in life when I heard about things like due process, warrants, and SWAT teams.  It seemed so understandable as a child that the police just simply sent their most badass officer after the criminal and he arrested him.  You just drop him into bad guy headquarters via military chopper, he wears a beret to look cool, and he runs through the building killing all the bad guys single-handedly.  I also love a movie set only three years in the future with great scientific advancements such as the freezing of prisoners in ice. I still think that is a cool idea though. This movie is ridiculous in so many ways but I still think it is awesome, one of my favorite Stallone films.

I was nine years old when this movie came out, so naturally nearly everything about it appealed to me.  Lots of action and guns, an awesome bad guy that dresses like a member of the Legion of Doom, and lots of cheesy one liners.  Stallone was peaking physically and professionally when this movie came out, it was made the same year as Cliffhanger I say he was peaking professionally but he had recently made Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! with Estelle Getty. Stallone does well as the hero in this film but I think it is Wesley Snipes who has the better role.  He looks so badass with the bleached hair and I have always liked the name Simon Phoenix.  Sandra Bullock replaced Lori Petty a few days into filming and I think we are all happy with that change.  This was before Bullock blew up, Speed was made the following year in 1994.  Beyond that the film rounds out with a great supporting cast including Denis Leary, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Gunton, and Rob Schneider.

What makes this movie so great, aside from all the action, is the vision of the future it shows us.  While we still aren’t freezing prisoners nearly 20 years later there are a few strange things that came close in the real future.  The film does mention Schwarzenegger as a politician, although he wasn’t President he did become Governor of one of the largest states. Some US Senators did actually propose amending the constitution so he could run for office at the next level (yeah, we elected these bozos). There is also a point in the film where a list of prisoners is shown, next to the name Phoenix, Simon is Peterson, Scott.  This is just coincidental but I happened to notice it when watching the movie back during the Scott Peterson trial.  The other things about the future in this film are what make it so memorable.  Listening to commercials in the place of music, I love the ballroom setting at “Taco Bell” when the piano singer is singing the Jolly Green Giant song. Stallone and Snipes are both ticketed all throughout the movie for using profanity, Stallone at one point even deliberately cussing out a machine to get paper to take to the bathroom.  I think the Seashells thing is hilarious, and the confused way Stallone looks at them.  There are plenty of interesting things going on in this film’s vision of 2032.

I’ve mentioned many times that I am a big fan of cheesy action films, specifically the ones that I watched when I was a kid.  I remember that after seeing this film I immediately began freezing my G.I. Joes in big blocks of ice in the freezer.  I actually sliced my thumb open once trying to impatiently chop one of them out of the ice. I would fill a plastic cup with water, drop my Joe of choice into the water and put it in the freezer. Once frozen I would pop the block of ice out with my Joe imprisoned inside just like in the movie. Demolition Man is a really fun movie that I encourage everyone to watch anytime it comes up.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan has made me watch a ton of movies that he grew up watching with his parents and his brothers. As I have mentioned before, I wasn’t really allowed to watch many films growing up. My dad thought movies were a bad influence and besides that he didn’t really have time for movies himself. We seldom went to the video store (young readers, I know what you are thinking, but it’s true…there used to be these stores that had V-H-S tapes for these things called V-C-Rs, and you could take them home and then return them to the store, whoa, I know mind blown.) Anyway, having said that…over the years Ryan has made me watch many of these sorts of films from his childhood, including Tango & Cash and The Negotiatior. There are plenty more and I am sure that in time we will get to them.

This movie is special to me because we watched it together when we were dating. And here we are 10 years later and we still do the high-five that is in this film. If you have seen the film then you know what it looks like. I like this movie, it is cheesy to a perfect degree just like every Stallone movie is. I recommend seeing it if you haven’t before. It is no Academy Award winner, but it is fun and will provide you many good jokes about what they thought the future would be like.

NEXT MOVIE: The Departed (2006)