Month: April 2017

Scarface

Year: 1983
Directed By: Brian De Palma
Written By: Oliver Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

Somehow we managed to pass where this movie should have been on the shelf and didn’t notice when it wasn’t there. It dawned on me recently when I was in Mexico that we hadn’t reviewed this movie. I was listening to all the Spanish being spoken and suddenly thought of the classic Spanish speaking mobster from Cuba. Somewhere along the line I must have lent my copy of this movie to some asshole who never bothered to give it back.

I’m not entirely surprised we passed it without noticing. Don’t get me wrong, like any normal person, I love this movie. Nevertheless, I have always found its overwhelming popularity to be a bit annoying. This is a great movie but I don’t think it belongs in the same category as other mobster movies like The Godfather or GoodfellasI would categorize it easily with a movie like Blow, but overall I think a movie about a drug dealer is fundamentally different than a movie about organized crime.

I would concede that Al Pacino might be better in this movie than he is in The Godfather movies but only because Tony Montana is a much louder character. A ruthless and unpredictable villain that simply outmatches the cold and calculating Michael Corleone when it comes to entertainment. The Don may have ordered a hit on his own brother, but Tony didn’t hesitate to personally kill his best friend at point blank range. Maybe the drugs had something to do with it in Tony’s case but it was just another move in Tony’s unpredictable behavior. Regardless which character is more entertaining I think it can be said that both are awesome. Al Pacino does a phenomenal job bringing both characters to life and he will be remembered forever for doing so.

When I was in college, like so many other people, I had a Scarface poster hanging in my apartment bedroom. Mine was huge and big enough to cover an entire window. I always had it draped over a window like a curtain so the black and white image of Tony Montana was always illuminated in my room. The image was from the end of the film, a tired and stoned Tony slouched at his desk behind a massive pile of cocaine. I still have the poster but it languishes away rolled up in some forgotten closet corner.

For the last ten years or so I have heard whispers about a possible remake of this film and I can’t stress enough how disappointing that would be. For a number of reasons it is the most ridiculous idea of all time. First would have to be how lame it is to make a remake of a remake. Yes we live in the era where studios have gotten so lazy they simply remake or reboot everything in order to cash in on name recognition but this is different. This is a classic movie that can’t simply be remade. You can’t recreate the writing of Oliver Stone or the performance of Al Pacino. Another reason being how you can’t recreate the 80s as they really were. One of the things I love about this movie is how it stands as a window into time. This movie is a picture of life in the early 80s and a modernized version would simply take away from something that was already great.

The newest news is that this movie is being remade with a script from the Coen brothers and Diego Luna set to star. Now if you’re going to redo Oliver Stone in his prime I can’t argue with the choice of the Coens. Two of the most clever writers there are, but I don’t think they are going to get involved with coke personally for inspiration. It is well known that Oliver Stone lived with his coke dealer for a while when preparing to write the movie and kicked the habit as he put pen to paper. I do really like Diego Luna, fresh off his Rogue One success, but he’d have to give the performance of a lifetime to win me over as a new Tony Montana. I have to admit I like the effort here in doing something special but I am still totally against it. It’s a travesty to sully a classic film with a new rendition.

I never understood why Steven Bauer didn’t reach greater heights as an actor. As one of the true Cubans in the film he was instrumental at not only bringing Manny Ribera to life but adding to the authenticity of the film with advice on his own culture. I have actually always liked Manny a little more than Tony Montana and hate the scene where he is gunned down. In a criminal organization you simply can’t replace a guy like Manny and Tony made a rash and critical decision when he murdered him over something stupid. As far as Steven Bauer goes I simply don’t know what ever happened to him. His career continued with many roles I haven’t seen myself but I always thought he was capable of more. This was one of the first movies he starred in and I simply can’t understand how it didn’t lead to much bigger things for him. The only other thing I have seen him in besides this movie was his awesome part as Don Eladio in Breaking Bad. I recognized him despite the aging that he has undergone and thought he was a perfect choice to be head of the Mexican cartel that was causing problems for the Chicken Man.

Like everybody else I love this movie for all the mobster shit but I like it too for it’s place in history. I like that Tony was part of a fool’s plan to bring over lots of immigrants from Cuba. After decades of conflict between Cuba and the United States it seemed inevitable that Cuba would clean out its prisons when it shipped people over to the states. I like that Tony is part of the Cuban Crime Wave and loved the scenes in Freedom Town. I was not alive when any of this went on but I think that’s part of what makes this movie great is it’s effort to cover something relevant at the time.

As hard as it is to believe I still come by people who have never seen this iconic movie. To those people I give a befuddled look of awe because I don’t know how they managed to miss it. This movie has been so influential over a wide range of media that I think those who haven’t seen it must be confused by a lot of things. If you haven’t seen this movie then it is a must watch. It’s a long one but it’s definitely worth your time to see it.

 

 

 

 

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South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

Year: 1999
Directed By: Trey Parker
Written By: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady

RYAN’S REVIEW

The rate of reviews we have published has slimmed quite a bit in the last couple of months. The reason being that I thought we would binge watch the entire series of South Park before diving into the movie. It had been years since I had watched the show regularly and I was shocked to realize that there were actually 20 seasons now. Watching them in succession has been quite a time consuming process, albeit totally worth it.

We’re still a few seasons from finishing the entire series but I found myself with time today and wanted to watch this movie. Going back and watching South Park in succession is an interesting experience. It almost feels like a history lesson as the show often makes a play on current events. I was in season 3 I think when I realized an episode was all about Elian Gonzalez. I had nearly forgotten about that immigration crisis it’s been so long but here the show served as a reminder. It has been a recurring thing as we have made our way through the series.

It’s fascinating to see how this show has grown and evolved over the past 20 years. How it continues to push the limits and make us think and laugh at the same time. When this movie came out the show was so much smaller. What used to be a bigger, longer, and uncut version of the show has just become the show now. Not that there is anything wrong with that because it continues to be awesome. This most recent season 20 was a congruent story that continued every week. I’ve always wished they would make another movie but why do so when they can air bigger, longer, and uncut versions of the show on TV now? They have come so far since having to release this movie to theaters with an R rating.

As for this movie, it’s not my favorite but only because the competition is so steep. As much as I love this movie I don’t know that I can put it above Imaginationland, Cartoon Wars, Member Berries, and plenty of others. This movie is hilarious and an awesome South Park story but there are just so many now. The genius of Trey Parker and Matt Stone is both fruitful and tireless. For over 20 years they have been two of the ballsiest entertainers in the world. They know how to make a point and they aren’t afraid to go too far in order to make that point. It’s absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

The show has evolved so far since this movie came out that it’s lacking in some of the things that have become so prevalent now. Like Randy and Butters, two awesome and pivotal characters in today’s South Park. However, what it lacks with characters like those guys it makes up for with big roles for the Devil and Saddam Hussein. Is there anything funnier than the love story of those two? I specifically love the episode in which Saddam comes back and creates a love triangle with the Devil and his new boyfriend, Chris. In this movie I don’t know why but there is a picture of Skeet Ulrich above Satan and Saddam’s bed. I have never known why but I have always found the randomness of it hilarious.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are so talented when it comes to writing and performing musical work. There is so much of their work to serve as proof of that and this movie is part of it. I love so many of the songs in this movie. Satan singing a song about wanting to be “up there” is hands down one of the funniest things I have ever seen. This movie is full of hilarious songs though and that’s why it was nominated for an Academy Award. Blame Canada was actually performed at the Oscars by none other than Robin Williams the year this came out.

Such an awesome video, may Robin Williams rest in peace.

I know people who hate South Park and I get it, sort of, but they’re simply missing the point. Yeah, maybe there have been a couple episodes here and there that literally almost made me throw up but there is more to this show than disgust. Yeah maybe when this movie came out I watched it in secret. Maybe it’s the type of film that if my grandparents saw it I would deny having ever heard of it. Maybe they go a bit too far now and again but it remains funny. It’s generally all on the way to a larger point at hand and there is usually a pretty compelling message attached to it. They might gross you out but after you hear them out it’s hard to argue with their logic.

I wasn’t an original South Park fan. I was 13 when the show debuted and absolutely not allowed to watch it. I remember it and may have seen an episode or two but by in large I was more interested in other cartoon shows like The Simpsons or King of the Hill. I think I was 17 when I saw this movie for the first time over at a friend’s house and I was instantly sold. I don’t know that I ever laughed harder but it was still years before I started watching the show.

It wasn’t until 2006 when I started really watching the show and I binged it on DVD before binge watching was even a thing. I was so amazed by the intelligence of the show and realized I had been missing out on something awesome. I lost touch with the show again sometime during parenthood until recently. For the last few months my nights have often consisted of a couple of episodes once my children are safely put to bed where they can have dreams innocent of the obscene show mommy and daddy love so much.

I love this show and I stand behind it no matter how far it goes, but I wouldn’t let my kids watch it. I don’t know how old they will have to be before I’m cool with it actually. This show is hilarious and brilliant but some things need to be adult only. I have no illusions that I’ll actually have any say so at a certain point once my kids are older and decide they want to see something. Nevertheless I’ll protect their innocence as long as I can, and that means it’s only past bedtime that I get to watch South Park.

This is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. If you aren’t a South Park fan you could easily watch this movie and understand why the series has been ongoing for 20 years. Plenty have doubted this show, including myself in the beginning. Even at 13 I didn’t think this show with its crappy animation could ever compete with the powerhouse of the Simpsons. That was when I was simply ignorant though, I know better now. Even more interesting is that while I grew out of The Simpsons my appreciation for this show has only grown. If you have a problem with South Park I’d suggest you pull the stick out of your ass and see what you’ve been missing. South Park is as obscene as it gets but it’s also a highly intelligent show that will surprise you more often than not.

Bottom line, this movie and the series it is based on are more than worth your time. There are 20 seasons worth of episodes with no end in sight and no sign of slowing down. If you’ve been missing out it’s time to see what all the fuss is about.

 

NEXT MOVIE: South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999)

 

Spanglish

Year: 2004
Directed By: James L. Brooks
Written By: James L. Brooks

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie made it into the collection because it was a favorite of Amber’s. It’s not a movie I would ever watch by myself but I think there is a lot to like about it. It’s not at the level of James L Brooks most famous family drama, Terms of Endearment, but it’s a quaint movie that is easy to enjoy.

One reason I find this movie interesting comes from a personal experience I had long ago. When I was 20 years old I spent a summer working with my brother as the only white guy among his crew of Spanish speaking workers. It was hard work and I didn’t let my connection to the boss slow me down. I was amazed by the energy and work ethic of my peers enough to work harder than I have ever worked before. A few of the other guys spoke English but several spoke little to none at all. What I found most interesting is that by the end of the summer the language barrier didn’t pose such a problem anymore. I found that just talking to them as I would anybody else seemed to work. The level of communication was low but we could at least understand each other enough to work together. I never learned to speak Spanish but that summer is one I will always remember fondly and try to learn from.

Adam Sandler was one of my favorite comedians when I was a kid but I can’t stand to watch any of his movies as an adult and avoid them altogether. No matter what you do you simply can’t be a teenager again and find his antics funny like you did when you were young. I for one think Sandler has much more to offer than the stupid comedies he persists at. This movie is evidence of that because he shows so much potential as a serious actor not trying to be funny. I think that is Sandler’s problem in a nutshell, he tries too hard to be funny. I think the funniest people are the ones that make comedy effortless. They don’t have to try so hard because they are naturally funny. Sandler has made a fortune being the funny guy but I think he over does it far too often and has little to offer the mature movie fan.

The reason I don’t like this movie very much starts and stops with Tea Leoni. I don’t like her character and I don’t like her. Her promiscuous and obtuse character is just awful to watch and sit through. The way she treats her daughter, mother, and husband are all just too unpleasant for me. I can’t stand infidelity and in this movie she’s just such a selfish bitch about it. I can’t stand her and it’s the main reason I don’t like this movie very much. Maybe if a different actress was cast it would be different but Leoni just seems too comfortable and natural in this type of role for me.

While Paz Vega is excellent in this movie I think the top actress has to be Cloris Leachman. She is such a prolific and talented comedian. I love her drunken grandmother role in this movie and find it especially funny when she quits drinking and nobody notices. Her response that she must have been a really awesome drunk is just priceless.

This is a good enough movie but I don’t think anything about necessarily stands out and puts it apart from any other family drama/comedy out there. Before watching it I had actually mixed up part of it with This is 40 and I think that pretty much sums it up for me. It’s just another movie too much like too many others out there. I can’t stand watching it because of Tea Leoni but maybe you will feel differently. I don’t think this movie is worth my time but you may like it more than I did so don’t take my word for it.

NEXT MOVIE: Spartacus (1960)

Southland Tales

Year: 2006
Directed By: Richard Kelly
Written By: Richard Kelly

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie has been at the center of controversy in our home for nearly ten years. It is one of the greatest disagreements Amber and I have about a film. I think this is a brilliant though complicated movie while she calls it the worst movie she has ever seen.

Richard Kelly called this his “misunderstood child” and I think that pretty much sums it up for this movie. It’s an entirely misunderstood movie that doesn’t even have the support of some of its cast members. It’s a big idea with a low budget and I think that took away from the attention it received. Had it gotten a bigger release I think it would be the center of much greater controversy and conversation even today.

I won’t deny this movie is weird but I like that about it. I like the actors cast in strange roles, I like the randomness of it all and the ultimate point behind the film. I think this movie takes a strong stance against the current events in the mid 2000s and it was during that time that I saw the movie and connected with it. It’s an interesting vision of the future where America actually suffers consequences for its actions. The world has moved on from that time with a whole batch of new and interesting problems but what of the events following 9/11? The world got crazy in the aftermath but kept on turning nonetheless. There were plenty of movies that examined the situation but this one to date has probably been my favorite. A beautiful satire that never really found its voice, or audience for that matter.

Richard Kelly’s first film, Donnie Darko, became a cult classic and I was one of its biggest fans at one time. I thought it was so interesting and ahead of its time. I feel like Richard Kelly is too smart for his own good as a filmmaker. If I remember correctly his father worked for NASA and I have always thought that had to have some kind of influence on his films. There is always something highly scientific about his films. Whether it’s worm holes or fluid karma he has something thrown in there that will befuddle the masses. I myself do not know anything about the science in his movies, it could be all made up as far as I know, but I think it all sounds good enough to work in a movie. I have enjoyed all of Kelly’s movies but this one is by far my favorite.

I think the cast that was assembled for this movie was nothing short of spectacular. I am not really a fan of the actor Dwayne Johnson, but I think he is perfect in this movie. The Rock has climbed out of the ring and into the big arena but I don’t always like what he’s cooking these days. I’m not a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise, and despite all his success I just can’t ever take him seriously as an actor. I think this is one of the most interesting roles he has played and I really liked him in the part. His character is even more interesting upon multiple viewings of the movie because so many of the weird ticks make sense when you understand.

On the other hand, I have always been a big fan of Seann William Scott, which sucks because his career tanked after this movie. American Pie was my generation’s high school classic and Stifler will always be a character I tune in to see. Like The Rock, he too has a really interesting part in this movie that gets better the more you watch it. While I think Scott does well in this movie I tend to think his performance gets lost among the others because some were truly able to shine in a short amount of time.

My favorite stand out in this movie is Cheri Oteri. I used to love her on SNL and the excitable personality she brought to the comedy. Seeing her in this movie as a ruthless and violent villain has always appealed to me. In fact there were several actors in this movie cast specifically contrary to their known personas. Others include John Lovitz and Amy Poehler playing villains. Lovitz particularly is impressive as the cold and silent hitman.

I think Justin Timberlake is fantastic in this movie and love the drug induced scene that plays out like a music video. It’s so randomly placed in the movie and I love that about it. As a teenager I had a natural dislike for Timberlake, and anybody else involved in the boy band phase, but he has long since won me over with shear talent. I am amazed by any celebrity that can do it all. Timberlake is an incredible performer and has made a smooth transition into a good acting career. He has impressive range as an actor and continues to be a successful artist in the music industry. When I mention that this movie didn’t have the support of its own cast it was Timberlake I was referring to, who said something along the lines of having no idea what this movie was about.

Since I was a teenager I had a thing for Sarah Michelle Gellar. Not because of her popular television show but just because I was a horny teen who thought she was really hot. So naturally I liked her in the role of the sexy porn star with the aggressive business plan. I think Mandy Moore was really good as the WASPy wife of Boxer Santaros. It was interesting to see these two actresses of the same popular teen era to play adult roles and do so well.

Beyond the big names there are several pop culture icon actors hidden within the film. Such as the “inconceivable!” guy from The Princess Bride, the little medium from the original Poltergeist, and even Kevin Smith pops up for a small role. These three, among others, make up a rich cast of supporting characters. I always think the cast of any film can make or break it and say what you want about this one but it has a really cool cast.

This movie is not for everybody and I can’t recall finding anybody else who has even seen it, let alone liked it. I like it though and I think it stands out for several reasons. I’m not going to get overly political because those days are long behind me now but when this movie came out things were different for me. Back in the days when I was more opinionated this movie stood out to me because of its message and I still like that message today.

Due to the nature of this movie’s controversy within my own home I won’t say whether it is worth your time or not. The battlelines have long since been drawn and opinions are dug in despite my efforts to force conciliation. If you can look past the low budget and the weirdness within then I’d be really interested to know what anyone else thinks about this movie. If you’ve seen it before and you are still with me in this review leave us a comment or send a message and share your own thoughts. If nothing else this is an interesting movie that deserves a bit of discussion. 

NEXT MOVIE: South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999)