Month: June 2016

Sexy Beast

Year: 2000
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer
Written By: Louis Mellis and David Scinto

RYAN’S REVIEW

Some actors take every opportunity to showcase their greatness and sometimes they deliver a performance that reminds us just how talented they really are. That’s what Ben Kingsley did with this movie and that is exactly why I own it. Years ago I had a friend bring this movie over and I wasn’t interested, but once Kingsley showed up with all the ferocity I never knew him capable of I had to own the film.

This is really a fairly cut and dry movie short the performances that make it exceptional. Ray Winstone is great as Gal, a criminal who thinks he’s “retired” and has to find out the hard way that his enterprise isn’t one you ever actually quit. He’s living the good life, soaking up the sun and drinking the night away with friends before a phone call from back home upsets the equilibrium of things. An old acquaintance has decided to pay a visit and he is not the type of man you can deny when he comes calling.

Don Logan is intimidating as hell and I am so surprised every time I see this movie how wicked he is. Adding to his intimidation is the fact that you can so clearly see how afraid Gal and his friends are when they are around this guy from back home. It suggests they know things, they know what he is capable of and it has them visibly distressed.   The thing about Ben Kingsley as Don Logan is that he is just as intimidating when he is sitting quietly as he is when he is flashing his anger. He has a presence that can be felt through the screen and right into your living room. Kingsley was actually nominated for the Academy Award for this role but lost to Jim Broadbent for his role in the movie Iris.

Kingsley overshadows nearly everyone in this movie but Ray Winstone is due plenty of credit. He kept the movie interesting after Kingsley’s part with his interactions with the equally intimidating Teddy Bass, played by Ian McShane. I am a huge fan of Ian McShane and he is always great as a sinister and shady character. In this movie I didn’t feel like McShane really brought it as a bad guy but it’s hard to be in the same movie with Don Logan and measure up.

Bank robbery movies have a tendency to be redundant because we have seen it all before. This movie is no different once Don Logan has come and gone. I think it is still worth your time to see though because Don Logan deserves to be seen. If for no other reason then seeing a bad guy be bad this movie is one you should definitely check out.

NEXT MOVIE: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

 

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Secondhand Lions

Year: 2003
Directed By: Tim McCanlies
Written By: Tim McCanlies

RYAN’S REVIEW

Occasionally as I make this journey through our DVD collection I look at what comes next and have to comb my memory for an explanation. When I reached this movie I had to dig deep into my psyche for an answer. Sometimes I come to a film and it’s one I haven’t seen in more than a decade and it can be really difficult to remember. This is a movie that really seems to not belong so it took me a minute to figure out how it ended up in our collection.

It was until half way through this heartfelt and cute movie that it dawned on me how it ended up here. This was a movie my Grandmother talked me into watching years ago and I found it surprising if not silly. I think I bought it one day for a cheap price with her in mind and the memory it brought about her.  I think she really liked seeing an older Robert Duvall in a tough guy role despite his advanced age.

This isn’t a bad movie by any means it just isn’t my forte. It’s cool to see Haley Joel Osment grasping hold of that last little bit of youth he had. He was a terrific child actor and it was a shame for him to grow into an awkward adult nobody wants to watch. In this movie he still had some of that boyish look that people fell in love with in The Sixth Sense. He actually went through puberty during the filming of this movie and it is noticeable if you listen to him closely.

This is a nice heartfelt movie that you can watch with your kids. There is something to be said about that. Otherwise I don’t think it really measures up to the caliber of film I generally add into our collection. My Grandmother may have loved this movie but for anybody else out there I would consider before investing my time in watching it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

 

 

School Ties

Year: 1992
Directed By: Robert Mandel
Written By: Dick Wolf and Darryl Ponicsan

 

RYAN’S REVIEW

It seems like the beginning of this “S” section is just flat out doomed when I’m following Schindler’s List with this film. How ironic that together these two films sit on the shelf. One being all out about the Holocaust and the other being about the racism behind it that never truly died.

This is not the greatest movie but it taught me an invaluable lesson when I was a kid. It taught me something about the nature of racism. How blind and unreasonable it can all be. In this movie all these guys are buddy buddy until they find out that all along Brendan Fraser is a Jew. The fact that they were friends before hand proves they couldn’t tell a true difference between him and themselves. When they learn his heritage he is suddenly ostracized for no other reason than the religion he serves. Nothing in particular changed about the person but all of his friends suddenly found reasons to dislike him simply because he was a Jew.

When I saw this movie as a kid it marked a lesson for me because I could see how foolish the racist feelings of these boys really were. Until they found out he was a Jew he was practically the most popular among them. How swiftly and quickly their perceptions changed based on a ridiculous notion that he was suddenly different just amazed me. I don’t doubt the truth to it and believe that these very type of situations happened countless times throughout history. The movie itself is actually based on personal experiences by the writer Dick Wolf.

I don’t understand racism in general, the type of hate that poisons a man’s heart to that point. For me it shouldn’t matter what a person’s ethnicity is when you know the person and like them. All these guys we see in this movie rally around Brenden Fraser up till that secret changes everything. They knew the person, but hardened their hearts when they learned something they could have never figured out any other way besides being told. When you know a person for who they are, it shouldn’t matter what the color of their skin is, the God they pray to, or their sexual preference for that matter.

When I watch a movie like this I relate to the main character as he struggles with this change of heart from his friends. When he is suddenly all alone for no reason and treated differently it is something I can see, and I understand his plight. I don’t know how any racist person can watch a movie like this and not take something away from it. Movies like Crash, Mississippi BurningSchindler’s List, Monster’s Balland many others have the power to teach us something but despite how popular these movies are the message just never gets through to some people. It’s a sad and unfortunate thing that I feel is getting worse as opposed to better as time carries on.

As to this movie it’s not really anything special. It’s an interesting opportunity to look back at younger versions of actors like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris O’Donnell, and Brendan Fraser. At the time Fraser looked to be on his way to being big time leading man material but his career hit a huge roadblock years back and he has seemingly never recovered from it. When he became that silly guy everything went wrong for him because he was capable of more. He wasn’t bad in this movie but I don’t think he was very exceptional either. It’s funny to look back in hindsight when Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have reached the heights Fraser will simply never see.

I think it totally sucks to have to sit down to this movie after avoiding Schindler’s List. This movie in no way compares to that one but it still centers on racism and that’s an ugly topic I never care to sit down with. I think this movie is worth your time and everyone should see it simply for the hope that it teaches them something as it taught me. Racism is an ugly thing, and the only way we can ever rise above it is by looking within ourselves and deciding to be better.

NEXT MOVIE: Secondhand Lions (2003)

 

Schindler’s List

Year: 1993
Directed By: Stephen Spielberg
Written By: Thomas Keneally (book) Steven Zaillian (screenplay)

 

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is seriously a bummer section of my movie collection. To start off the “S” section we have had to endure the Saw franchise only to come to this, and what follows is so odd in itself.

I own this movie because I needed to see it for a project in school once. After that last viewing six years ago I have promised myself I would never sit through it again. I respect the content but simply find it too heartbreaking. I have seen it once and frankly once was enough.

I do think this is a movie everyone should see, because we have to be aware. Never again as a species can we ever let something so obscene and ugly ever happen. Of course we live in a world where there is simply no stopping the awful consequences of xenophobia and hate. There is simply nothing worse than seeing the innocent suffer for something they have absolutely no control over.

It’s an ugly thing for the hearts of men to become so hardened that they can’t even look at women and children with pity. I can never hope to understand it. I can never hope to understand what it was like to be part of it or to have survived it. I have cried over it though and I don’t intend on shedding more tears simply for the sake of writing a review.

Readers who want to know about the Holocaust need seek better sources, because all I have is the confusion of an open minded person about how things could have ever went so far. I think you should see this movie, I simply don’t want to witness the ugliness again for myself.

NEXT MOVIE: School Ties (1992)

Saw II

Year: 2005
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written By: Leigh Whannell and Darren Lynn Bousman

RYAN’S REVIEW

As far as I am concerned this movie is night and day different from the first. Not only is it an excellent sequel but it is a better movie than the first. It’s graphic and violent as befits a Saw movie but here the story starts to really get interesting. This movie offers more than shock and awe, it offers a mind twisting story that makes you want to keep going. I am not really a fan of this series, but I am a fan of this movie.

This movie managed to offer more than simply violence, it offered violence fused with intrigue, with mystery, and with revenge. There was more purpose to this film, or maybe it was just more captivating than the first. I believe a good sequel is a bigger and better version of the first. This movie fits the bill for that by simply being bigger and better than the first one.

In the first one I felt like it was a given that eventually one of those men were cutting off their leg. I don’t think the story was gripping at all. In the end of this one though when you realize that the events we have been watching in real time had long since past and been over, it’s mind blowing. When Donnie Wahlberg falls for that trap and you realize why it was laid for him it’s quite shocking. It’s more than shocking, it is inviting in the sense that you feel compelled to see the next movie.

The apprentice is now at work and that holds so many possibilities. I feel like this was what built the whole franchise into a series that stretched seven years. This movie gives you the saw crap that its audience demands. That poor girl dug through a pit of needles and that one girls stuck both of her arms into a modified Chinese finger trap thing for arms. That was violent and gory but it was so much more than that. This movie was smart. It was smart enough to fool the audience all the way up until the end and give us a real wow moment.

So I think this is a great sequel and one of the best simply for exceeding it’s predecessor so severely. I would have never given this franchise the time of day but this movie convinced me that it was worth my time. The first film did not.

As much as I am loathed to the idea of connecting these films will Halloween I’m saving the next two anyway. It’s no time of year to watch four Saw movies back to back and I’ve had my fill for the time being.

This is a terrific movie and if you haven’t seen it it is easily worth your time. It’s not for the tender-hearted but for a fan of a good mind blowing thriller this is a good one.

NEXT MOVIE: Schindler’s List (1993)

 

Saw

Year: 2004
Directed By: James Wan
Written By: Leigh Whannell and James Wan

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was specifically against this movie when it came out. I don’t care for the whole torture porn thing and I think what these types of movies offer are a poor substitute for actual horror. It wasn’t until I was forced to watch the sequel and that one caught me at the right moment that I gave this series a chance. I consider the second film to this one to be one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen and will explain more upon its review. I think it far exceeds this film in every way.

I have tried to give this film a second chance but if I’m being really honest it just isn’t for me. When the movie came out I wasn’t into it and I’m not into it now. The only reason this movie is part of the collection is because the sequel impressed me and I thought it prudent to have its predecessor next to it on the shelf.

The most interesting thing about this movie is its director James Wan, because he has been the man pegged to be behind camera for the upcoming Aquaman movie. I am very excited to see how that movie turns out because Jason Mamoa looks wicked as the King of Atlantis but James Wan gives me pause. If this movie is any indication of his abilities I fear Warner Brothers has made another costly decision with choosing directors. Batman v Superman can only be described as failure in the aftermath of its box office release and I think that is specifically because they put the film in the hands of Zak Snyder. My only hope is that they haven’t done the same with Wan directing Aquaman. I would so like the DC properties to produce good films of such cool characters but they just can’t seem to figure out what Marvel is doing right.

I gave some consideration to saving these movies until Halloween to review during the month when we only do horror films but that would lend credence to the notion that this is a horror film. I do not consider this a horror film but simply a thriller with the type of shocking violence some people get off on. I like the horror genre and despite owning some of these films I think they set the genre back a long way.

Good horror is scary, it’s more than simply violence and gore. This movie and series isn’t built upon fear but on violence and suspense. This movie specifically offers very little that interests me and I will explain what the sequel did differently that made it worth wild. To sum it all up I do not think this movie is worth your time and do not vouch for it.

NEXT MOVIE: Saw II (2005)

X-Men Apocalypse

Spoilers Ahead

Here’s the first thing that comes to mind for me, as a veteran comic film fan, and that’s that when I have high expectations they better be met or at the very least come reasonably close. I suppose Days of Future Past spoiled me with this series but this movie just didn’t fit the bill. In truth I think the biggest problem was letting J-Law try to carry the movie, the absence of Jackman in the leading role was felt severely. 

As aesthetically pleasing as the film was it just didn’t deliver on any level. The were two, three scenes tops that were worth wild in this movie and beyond that it’s a lot of disappointment. Everybody looked good though. Olivia Munn as Psylocke specifically looked incredible. The entire costume department for the film did an incredible job with everyone. Yet it was not enough to overcome the plot problems and the lack of action throughout. 

Michael Fassbender is fantastic as always but he wasn’t used properly or enough. Tye Sheridan was great as a young cyclops but I felt Alexandra Shipp was not used enough either. She looked great but didn’t get enough speaking lines, and when she did they were silly a la “I heard he was your father.” That was just weird at the end of the film. If gossip is so rampant at the X mansion that new chick has heard about it how is it Magneto doesn’t know he has a son? 

I thought Jennifer Lawrence was just going through the motions here. For the record I think she is a fantastic actress but not suited for the lead in this film. I didn’t like that the story set up Mystique to be the hero for all mutants because I just didn’t think it was right for the character. Mystique is an awesome character but I like Rebecca Romijn’s version better. Mischievous villain shouldn’t be the one everyone looks to for leadership. I also thought Sophie Turner looked silly touching her head James McAvoy style the whole movie. She has the hair to honestly play Jean Grey but I am not overly impressed with Turner as an actress.

Though the biggest disappointment lies in the main antagonist himself. Apocalypse just doesn’t do enough, or rarely more than glossing over his eyes. I just expected more. He looked great but not big enough, when he is eye to eye with Magneto there is something wrong. He should have been bigger, taller. Apocalypse is an all powerful bad guy who is too easily defeated and not given enough to do.  

In this movie Quicksilver and Wolverine steal the show. Evan Peters is great in the part and he really steals the scene when things get explosive. I didn’t think it made any sense when he took on Apocalypse alone at the end of the movie with seemingly super human strength, but I’ll excuse that in his case. He brought more to the film than most. Hugh Jackman was sorely missed but his small part was one of the greatest in the entire film. So savage and so satisfying was his kill streak through the Weapon X place. I thought his look was perfect with the head gear and the wires as he wreaked havoc through the base.

By the climax of this film I was so dissatisfied I could have walked out and cared less what else happened. I hate that, because I wanted to love this movie. Instead I left the theater wanting and wishing I had just watched Captain America Civil War for a second time instead. Civil War was a fantastic movie and managed to do exactly what this film surprisingly failed to. We did hear people clapping when the movie ended but we have no idea why. I was so disappointed I didn’t even care to see the post credits scene and didn’t wait around to see it.

I have doubts that this franchise will even move forward with whatever was shown in the post credit scenes anyway. I am probably wrong but I don’t think the movie will be successful enough to garner another film in the franchise. I think most likely the studio will move on to other properties like X-Force, New Mutants, and Deadpool with certain X-men popping up now and again like Colossus in Deadpool.

This movie failed to meet my expectations and when people ask me I will tell them so. Your time will be much better spent seeing Captain America 3 than it would watching this film.