Month: August 2012

Heat

Year: 1995
Directed By: Michael Mann
Written By: Michael Mann

RYAN’S REVIEW

When Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight this was the movie he turned to for inspiration, the bank robbery scenes anyway.  That was a big part of why The Dark Knight was so awesome and it says something about how awesome this movie is in its own right.  Movies about cops and robbers are always popular and this is one of the best ever made regarding the two.  It was made by a great filmmaker, it had an outstanding cast, and it doesn’t fail to deliver on the action.

In 1972 Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were both part of the same movie, The Godfather: Part IIAlthough they played characters living in completely different time periods and never shared any screen time together.  For the next 23 years both of their careers ballooned and they were the go to guys for mobster parts.  Yet in all that time they both made many mobster movies but never collaborated.  After all that time it became a really big deal that they were in this movie together and their first collaboration did not disappoint.  In fact I happen to think the scene in which they meet for the first time is one of the coolest I have ever seen.  There is so much build up, the music is just right, and then they are finally face to face and everything seems so natural and perfect.  I happen to think they did really well working together but they are both grade A professionals when it comes to acting and know how to do their jobs. This movie was almost twenty years ago now and these two men have continued their careers throughout that time.  Not with quite so much success mind you but they still wield a certain level of power in their industry.

I read that this was a movie Michael Mann spent over ten years trying to get made.  When you put that much time into something you really have to make sure you have the right people and I don’t know that a finer cast was ever put together.  The good guys and the bad guys alike could not have been better cast in any part.  I really like Mykelti Williamson and Wes Studi as Al Pacino’s main guys on his side.  Ted Levine has always creeped the hell out of me but he manages to play a convincing good guy in this one.  Val Kilmer plays one of his best roles in this movie. He is a total badass as De Niro’s right hand man. When you are casting bad guys I don’t know that you could have done much better in 1995 than Tom Sizemore and Danny Trejo.  Sizemore is one of the most intimidating guys ever.  He has an absolute look of insanity in his eyes; he fits into this movie nicely. There is one scene where a guy takes notice of the crew and Sizemore just stares him down and the guy quickly looks away. Sizemore wasn’t who the witness wanted having a good look at him.  I am a big fan of Danny Trejo; I have really enjoyed his rise to fame in recent years.  Jon Voight, Dennis Haysbert, and William Fichter are all great as well and bring a lot to the film.  There is a really young Natalie Portman here proving that she was always an exceptional actor.  Ashley Judd is smoking hot in this one and that served her well during the late 90s. I do not like the part that Hank Azaria played in this one but I am a big fan of his and love how often he pops up in different types of movies. He shot his scenes for this movie during his days off while filming The Birdcage, one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

In preparation for this movie Michael Mann did a lot of research.  The story is somewhat loosely based on a real relationship between a high profile cop and criminal that took place in the 70s.  I don’t know much about the real story but it was one that Mann was always personally interested in.  When prepping his actors for their roles he actually arranged for the good guy actors to have dinner and interact with real police officers and also had the bad guy actors meet with real life criminals. This kind of preparation went a long way as we can clearly see by the performances of the actors.

This was a really awesome movie that I always enjoy.  It’s a long movie and has slow points here and there but the action makes up for any boredom that might be incurred. I would recommend this movie to anybody and it is definitely worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan makes me watch this movie all the time. Well, not really…but since it is so freaking long it feels like forever every time we watch it. It’s a great movie with a good storyline and amazing actors. It takes forever to finally get there, but it can be worth it to sit through the movie. If you like movies like this, go for it.

NEXT MOVIE: Heist (2001)

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Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Year: 2004
Directed By: Danny Leneir
Written By: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a funny movie but I do feel we have reviewed way too many stoner movies lately.  This one is another product of our college years when life was different. I thought it was funny then and it still makes me laugh now.  At the time I really enjoyed the efforts from Kal Penn and John Cho to become the new generation’s Cheech and Chong. I think they are both really funny in this one but it’s really just a typical pothead movie.  Like most mainstream movies like that it sports a lot of cool cameos.  In this one we see Ryan Reynolds, Anthony Anderson, and Neil Patrick Harris to name a few.  If you get a chance to see it this one it’s good for a laugh but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.  It’s worth your time if you have time to spare.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I still really like this movie. I think it is a funny comedy about being a stoner and going the super extra mile to find some munchies. It still makes me laugh. I also love Neil Patrick Harris. Number one, I love gay people. (Side note here: I love gay people because I am among a minority that was once refused rights and therefore, I am utterly and completely 100% FOR equal rights for every single person on this planet. You cannot let religion get in the way of people’s rights.) Sorry for the mini-preach. Second, when I was little we used to watch Doogie Howser, M.D. all the time. I love that guy. This movie is super silly and somewhat slapstick, but I thoroughly enjoy it.

NEXT MOVIE: Heat (1995)

Harlem Nights

Year: 1989
Directed By: Eddie Murphy
Written By: Eddie Murphy

RYAN’S REVIEW

What I like about this movie is that it is a gangster movie, and not a gangsta movie.  Nothing against gangsta films, but they tend to dominate films and stories about African American organized crime.  There was a time before gangsta rap and the culture it would create, and this is a film that shows us some of it. This film is considered a comedy but I think that is because of how many funny people play the lead roles.  This is a funny movie but I think it is a serious film as well. It has a terrific cast and Eddie Murphy did a good job making the film.

This is a cool movie because it has such a cool setting.  I really like movies set during the age of prohibition in the 20s.  I like the hats, the suits, and the overall style in general. Eddie Murphy did a good job directing the picture and he does great in the lead role.  As Quick he plays the cool and head strong gangster that is being groomed to take over.  As his mentor Richard Pryor plays a great part as Sugar Ray.  I have never been a really big fan of Pryor but I like him as the cool and calm “candy store” owner he plays here.  I grew up with my dad watching Sanford and Son all the time and I really liked seeing Redd Foxx in a movie part. Like Pryor he is really funny in this movie and brings a lot to the cast. Della Reese is incredible as the head mistress woman Vera.  She is intimidating when she fights Quick but shows later that she can also be tenderhearted and caring.

This is a movie that gets darker and more serious as it progresses.  I have always found that a bit unnerving when watching it because I don’t know if I am supposed to be laughing anymore.  About the time Quick kills Dominique La Rue in bed the movie has made a full transition and the jokes are fewer and farther in between.  I still like this movie despite that though.  It has a great cast, a cool story, and it covers an era I am always happy to see.  This movie is worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I really like this movie poster. I think it resembles the film, the genre and the time period all in one. It is very geometric looking and uses an original looking sharp pointed sans serif. I really love how the guys at the top break out of the shape. It is not only symbolic but also very aesthetic, especially when it comes to the fundamentals of art. Another cool little part of this poster is at the bottom. The woman’s dress flows into the background. This again breaks the geometric rectangle. This is one of my favorite posters so far that I have put on the blog.

NEXT MOVIE: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Happy Gilmore

Year: 1996
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Written By: Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now this is an Adam Sandler movie I will stand behind. It is arguably just as stupid as any other Adam Sandler movie but this one came out when I was 12 and it has had me laughing for 16 years now.  This was Adam Sandler at his best and in my opinion it has nearly been all downhill since.  He still has a rather large fan base despite what I think though. Sandler is really funny in this movie and that makes it memorable.  It is also memorable simply for being a golf comedy. It is no Caddyshack but it is second only to that. Even those that don’t appreciate this film have to find themselves laughing and enjoying the epic fight between Sandler and Bob Barker.

I wrote down my opinions about Adam Sandler in our recent review of Grandma’s Boy.  He wasn’t in that film but it was made by his production company Happy Madison. I think Sandler was great in the 90s but I haven’t been able to stomach him since The Wedding Singer.  That movie wasn’t even particularly funny but I still enjoyed the film.  I don’t think Sandler has ever been able to get back to the kind of comedy that made him funny in the 90’s but I have enjoyed all of his efforts into being a serious actor.  I enjoyed his serious roles in Punch-Drunk Love and SpanglishI think he has a lot to offer as a serious actor and I would really like to see more of that from him.  Years ago I heard that he was really interested in the lead role as the hitman in Collateral.  A role that ultimately went to Tom Cruise.  If I remember correctly he was turned down because the role was too violent for his image.  Well I think that’s a shame because I would much rather see a violent Sandler than more of the same crap he has been doing for years.

This movie has a fun cast around Sandler.  I have always liked Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin.  It is the role I have always associated him with.  I think Carl Weathers is really funny and I liked what he brought to the film.  I thought Julie Bowen was really hot but looking at her today I find myself repulsed by how unnatural and different she looks in Modern FamilyBen Stiller has a cool cameo that was part of a story line mostly cut out of the film.  Deleted scenes include Happy going back to the old folks home and confronting Stiller about the racket he has been running.  I thought it was funny but it must have proved to make the movie too long.  Allen Covert plays a role he was made for.  As Happy’s homeless caddy he has virtually no speaking lines.  I like Covert but I think he was really bad as the lead in Grandma’s Boy. Last but not least I cannot fail to mention Bob Barker, in one of the greatest cameos of all time. “The price is wrong bitch!”

This is a fun movie that I think even the mature can still enjoy having not grown up with it.  I won’t stand behind too many Adam Sandler films and tell you they are worth your time but this one offers a good time and a lot of laughs.  If you get a chance to see it then your time will be well spent.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I can recite almost this entire movie. Instead of going on about how you should watch this movie, (because I know that you have seen it already, right?) I am going to put my favorite quotes.

“Hey, my girlfriend is dead, you know. She fell off a cliff and died on impact.”

“You can trouble me for a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up! Now, you will go to sleep! Or I will PUT you to sleep. Check out the name tag. You’re in MY world now, grandma!”

“Did that go in? I wasn’t watching, did it go in? I didn’t see it, could you tell me if it went in?”

“But she’s an old lady. I mean, look at her. She’s old. You can’t just take her stuff. She’s too old.”

“Just taaap it in. Just taaap it in. Give it a little tappy. Tap Tap Taparoo.”

NEXT MOVIE: Harlem Nights (1989)

The Happening

Year: 2008
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is more or less M. Night Shyamalan’s movie about the environmental problems our planet faces.  A message about the damage we are doing to this world and the danger we would be in if it were able to fight back.  This movie received a very critical response from fans and critics alike but I enjoyed it; as I enjoy most of Shyamalan’s films.  People hated this movie, but if we are being honest here, people have progressively hated nearly everything he has made since The Sixth Sense blew everybody away and became such a big hit.  I think because of the shocker that The Sixth Sense offered at the end people have always expected too much from him.  Not only that, but the advertising for all of his films has always been misleading in order to get people into the theater.  They intentionally lead the viewers to believe that his films will offer similar shockers and thrills but he hasn’t made a movie with quite the same bang to it at the end.  His movies are usually a metaphor for something else and people don’t understand that.

I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan and ironically it has nothing to do with his first film.  I wasn’t always the biggest fan of The Sixth Sense. I chose to watch Kevin Bacon’s similar Stir of Echoes that year and enjoyed it quite a bit.  By the time I got around to seeing The Sixth Sense the ending had already been spoiled for me and I thought it was too much like a movie I already liked.  What made me a fan of Shyamalan were all his films after.  I love Unbreakableit may have been slower but it was a good movie.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Signs because I thought it was too religious but that was what it was about.  The movie is more about Mel Gibson rediscovering his faith than it is about aliens, and I fell victim to the misleading advertising in that case. The Village is one of my all-time favorite movies; it is a great story about fear and love.  I may have been the only person but I loved Lady in the Water too, it really hit me hard in the theater and the story touched me on a personal level.  This film was admittedly not his best movie, but I like it nonetheless.  Like I said, people expect too much from Shyamalan.  The idea that plants could turn on humanity seemed so ridiculous to most of the people I knew at the time but I didn’t think it was that far-fetched. Yeah, it is unlikely to happen, but that is what makes watching movies great.  They allow us to see the things that are unlikely to happen in real life. I do not care what anybody else thinks, I think M. Night Shyamalan is a terrific filmmaker and I will always take the time to see and enjoy his movies.

At one point in the film they are running through a field and pass a sign advertising real estate development coming for the area.  On the sign you can plainly see the phrase “you deserve this.” It is meant to imply that as humans we are being too greedy in exploiting the Earth and destroying nature.  We deserve what is happening to us now as the plants have found a way to fight back. It’s very subtle and I’m sure it completely escaped the attention of the average viewer but it is those subtle things in Shyamalan movies that make them exceptional.  Shyamalan makes great movies but he attracts the wrong kind of viewer by and large with the studio advertising for the film.  With plenty of the wrong viewers sitting in the audience these kinds of subtle effects are missed while most of the audience is just waiting for the next person to kill themselves.  When you go to Shyamalan movies looking for shock and awe you walk away not only disappointed but missing out on the message of the movie all together.

I thought the acting was specifically bad in this movie.  I am no fan of the racist ex-con Mark Wahlberg but I will admit when he does a good job acting.  That isn’t called for after his performance in this movie though; he is as bad as he gets in this one.  I also thought Zooey Deschnal and John Leguizamo were bad in their roles.  None of the actors really seemed invested in the film or story.  It was cool to see Ferris Bueller’s Alan Ruck in a small role as the school principal. Shyamalan usually has a better cast on hand but maybe the casting in this film reflects his dwindling clout within the industry.  As I said earlier his films have been progressively hated and I have heard the studios are getting tired of it.  I am under the impression he was not allowed to direct what would have been his last film, Devil (2010).  He was credited with writing the movie, which I thought was really good and Shyamalan-like but the directing duties were given to someone else. I hope I am wrong about that however and we continue to see more movies from him in the future.

I do have to take a quick moment to give some credence to the critics of this film.  This movie absolutely does fall to pieces in the end, and the story is never really resolved.  I completely understand why so many people hated that and I don’t really like it myself but I have seen worse endings.  I liked that Shyamalan sort of left it open for speculation.  Was it a government accident and cover-up or did nature in fact turn violent against humanity? Of course he screwed it all up with the last shot of the film.  It really doesn’t make much sense for the scare to stop in one place just to start up somewhere else if nobody gets the message.  Are the plants compassionate? Is that it? Were they moved by the love between the two main characters? It doesn’t really make sense and I think that is pretty lame but I still enjoy the movie despite it.

In closing I will simply say that anybody you happen to ask will probably tell you that this was a really bad movie and not to waste your time on it.  I am telling you different though, this isn’t the greatest movie ever but it wasn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It does kind of fall to pieces in the ending but the movie as a whole makes up for it. I think it offers shocking images, an interesting story, and a compelling idea about our relationship to the planet.  This movie is worth your time if you can be patient enough to appreciate what it is saying.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I think Ryan and I are the only ones on the planet that actually like M. Night Shalalalalalallalalala. I think all of his ideas are completely original and speak on a much larger level. This is one of those films that try and teach us that we need to start taking care of the planet or the planet is going to get back at us. I think he did it quite literally. The plant life literally starts attacking the humans. I can totally understand why people wouldn’t like this movie. I don’t think a lot of people have any faith in Shyamalan anymore and automatically go into it thinking this is going to be horrible.

I identify with this movie because it has to do with saving the Earth. I won’t preach here, but we have a serious problem on our hands with the planet, and we need to figure out a better plan and alternative.
There were three different posters for this movie and I think this one was the better one, but I still don’t really like it. I think that they could have come up with something a lot more interesting. This is pretty cliché for an apocalyptic themed film. This looks very similar to the design for The Walking Dead, the color filters are just different. The typography for the movie title is nice. I like a clean sans serif. But the placement of the just seems too easy and boring.

NEXT MOVIE: Happy Gilmore (1996)

The Hangover

Year: 2009
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Written By: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

RYAN’S REVIEW

Amber and I went to see this movie in the theater when it came out and I don’t know if we have ever laughed so hard in the theater. From beginning to end the laughs never stopped and we walked away feeling really fulfilled by the film. I think it has been a little outplayed at this point, only 3 years later. It was really popular when it came out and still is today. I also think the sequel destroyed any legacy the movie might have had by being so awful. For my thoughts on The Hangover 2 you can read this.

This movie caught everybody by surprise in 2009, and it put Zach Galifianakis on the map. I think Galifianakis is awesome but he is only going to go as far as that beard will get him. He is hilarious in this movie but I think he has played the character to death now. I’ve had enough of the weird bearded guy by now, but I’m glad to see he has gone with simply a stache in his next film, The Campaign. Although he does appear to be playing the same character yet again. I am not really a fan of Ed Helms but he was really funny in this movie as Stu. I think Bradley Cooper is really good as the cool guy in control too. I think Ken Jeong is really funny, and his role in this movie really advanced his career. Ken Jeong is from Greensboro, NC and before becoming an actor he was a surgeon or something. It’s a fascinating story really and I think it is really cool because we live really close to Greensboro. Coincidentally Galifianakis is from a town farther away but still close in the other direction from where we live (he is from Wilkesboro, NC). I thought Mike Tyson‘s cameo was funny and I have heard that it has helped him get his life back on track which is a good thing. I can’t forget to mention Jeffrey Tambor, I think he is awesome and he adds a lot to the film.

Everybody already knows how funny this movie is so I’m not going to go any farther into it.  I think this is a really funny people that most people will enjoy, but the sequel left such a bad taste in my mouth I don’t find myself in the mood to watch it anymore.  Nevertheless this movie is worth your time.  Just don’t waste any on part 2, if you saw this movie you more or less have already seen the sequel.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember seeing this movie in the theater. I also remember completely laughing my ass off. Everyone I know has seen this movie and every single one of them think it’s hilarious. There is really not much more to say about it.

I like this poster. It captures the main characters in strange situations leaving the question, why? Why does Galifinakis have a baby with sunglasses on? Why is Andy from The Office missing a tooth and hey, look! Hot Bradley Cooper is in this. We all know the cliché of going to Vegas, getting completely wasted to the point where you do something crazy. I mean the city’s motto is “What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The font is a clean sans serif that is glowing slightly to allude to the glowing lights over Vegas.

NEXT MOVIE: The Happening (2008)

Hamlet

Year: 1996
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Written By: William Shakespeare (story) and Kenneth Branagh (Screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an outstanding movie that is worth the time of each and every English student out there.  However we are currently on vacation and this movie is over four hours long.  We cannot take the time to see it now but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  Hamlet is an outstanding story and Kenneth Branagh put a lot of effort into bringing it to the screen.  This movie has an awesome cast and a lot of great production work was done in an effort to make it. We own this movie because it is significant, but I haven’t seen it in some time and can’t give it a proper review now.

NEXT MOVIE: The Hangover (2006)