Cameron Diaz

Knight and Day

Year: 2010
Directed By: James Mangold
Written By: Patrick O’Neill

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I first saw the advertisements for this movie I specifically remember thinking about how stupid it looked. Another movie featuring Tom Cruise as a secret agent just seemed redundant and it wasn’t very successful when it hit theaters.  I don’t know what prompted us to watch this when it was available to rent but Amber and I were both shocked to find that we loved it.  It’s such a fun and lighthearted movie that it caught us by surprise. It’s so funny, and filled with fast paced action. This is the kind of movie that you can just sit back and enjoy.  Turn your mind off and just watch the show.  Nothing really notable about this one, just a fun pointless movie.

Cruise and Cameron Diaz have great chemistry and they are both really funny in this movie. I loathe Tom Cruise and sometimes wonder if he is actually the Anti-Christ.  I wholeheartedly believe that man will run for President one day and that’s when we know the Scientologists are making their move. If they can maneuver their most popular member into a position of power we are all screwed.  It scares me because the American public is stupid and can be easily manipulated.  The Scientologists are crazy and dangerous people, their poster boy Tom Cruise is no different.  That is all beside the point though because as much as I don’t like him I can’t ignore the plain and simple truth, the guy is a hell of an actor.  He has a great track record and must be using some kind of cult voodoo because the man simply does not age.  In this movie he is so funny I can’t help but laugh.  He is so calm and collected all the time and another credit to his ability is that he does great stunts. I think you can see that he has fun in this movie; it shines through his performance and adds quite a bit to the movie.  Cruise is a veteran who knows his trade now and he just keeps making hits. This movie doesn’t really qualify as a hit for him but if a hater like me can recognize so much to like about it I think that anybody can.

Cameron Diaz, like Cruise, doesn’t seem to age very much.  I have never been a really big fan of hers either and while I don’t love most of her movies I can’t really say she hasn’t been successful.  It’s hard in the acting business to stick around as long as she has and she has done very well at that. I’m just not the biggest fan because most of the movies she makes are really not up my alley, and I have never been able to get over her performance as a really trashy woman in Feeling MinnesotaShe is a beautiful woman though and she can be really funny when she wants to be.  I think she is great in this movie and she works very well with her psychotic co-star.  Her panicking persona is hilarious matched up with the cool and calm Cruise who just keeps doing crazy things.

I was specifically told this movie was garbage at work the other day when I mentioned we were about to watch it.  I told my co-worker that he was crazy and needed to lighten up a bit.  Yes this is a stupid movie but there can be plenty to like about stupid movies sometimes.  This is a time when you see that but I will admit I don’t see it often.  I will not watch Mr. & Mrs. Smith because I can see how stupid that one is on the surface.  For all I know it is just as fun as this one though and I am missing out.  If you have seen this movie let us know what you thought about it.  I enjoyed it and continue to enjoy it every time we watch it so I’m telling you that this one is worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

When I first saw the trailer for this movie I was intrigued. And I couldn’t really tell you why. It just seemed like it would be really funny. So I made Ryan watch it. And we actually liked it a lot. Neither of us are huge fans of either Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz, but this movie is really great. They have incredible on-screen chemistry. If you haven’t had a second to check this one out you should. It’s a pretty funny and light hearted movie for those nights you don’t feel like thinking too much.

knightanddayThis is a really cool poster. It has a lot of nice blocky typography and it lines up. It is even skewed a bit and I always like that. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are so famous that having their silhouettes on the cover actually works. It alludes to the plot instead of giving too much away. I think this poster is really successful. 

NEXT MOVIE: A Knight’s Tale (2001)

Gangs of New York

Year: 2002
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan

RYAN’S REVIEW

I remember when this movie first came out in theaters, it was the year I graduated high school.  I didn’t see it in the theaters but I remember running into some friends coming out of the theater when they had just seen it and I was on the way to see something else. I had been reading about this movie and knew of it for some time.  It was delayed time and time again before its release, once because of the 9/11 crisis. It was the new movie by Martin Scorsese though and the delays only made me look forward to it more.  I was a big fan of Goodfellas and Taxi Driver so I was really interested in the film despite not being at the theater to see it then.  I asked them if the movie was any good and I will never forget what they said.  They looked at me with a disappointed expression and said “It was bloody” and another said “it was really violent.” What they said was all in their tone though.  I had not seen this movie but somehow I knew, I didn’t know how but somehow I just knew that they were wrong.  These guys weren’t good friends but they were friends and somewhere deep down I never looked at any of them the same after that.  Once I actually saw the film the verdict was in, these friends had no taste and they didn’t have enough sense to appreciate something so incredible. Not to mention that I found myself wondering before and after seeing it ‘what kind of guy finds something too violent or bloody?’ I have lost touch with those friends since high school and I’m OK with it, somehow it is all because of this movie.

I remember looking forward to the DVD release of this movie quite a bit since I never ended up seeing it in the theater. Our movie collection was young at that time and DVDs were quite costly then.  Not too expensive but much more so then they are now. What I mean by that is that at the time this collection was a slower work in progress.  I didn’t buy DVDs carelessly not only because I could not afford to but because it was much more expensive to do so back then.  Yet when this movie came out on DVD I went to the store and bought it on the day it was released without having ever seen it. It was a gamble that paid off well.  This is one of my favorite movies ever from Martin Scorsese, in my opinion it might be his best film.  That is a tough thing to say because there is a lot of steep competition.  Martin Scorsese is one of the men that made film making what it is today. He has been making great movies for over forty years.  His contributions to the industry will be studied 100 years from now and then some.  One day he will leave behind a legacy that will turn him into a legend.  This film is my favorite of the ones that make the legend that is Scorsese.

Before this movie I had a certain impression of Leonardo DiCaprio, and it wasn’t really good. I was a teen during the time Titanic came out I came to dislike DiCaprio the same way that most young men don’t like Justin Bieber now.  He’s the guy that all the teen girls go nuts over and it is annoying to the point you find yourself disliking them.  This changed all of that in the case of Dicaprio, I saw the value that in truth had been there all along I was just too foolish and immature to admit it.  DiCaprio is the best actor in the business hands down. He is great at choosing roles and he has an ability that is impressive.  With this movie he effectively became Scorsese’s De Niro of the 21st century as well with many more collaboration to follow. He can use a wide range of dialects and he has worked with many of the greatest directors out there. It was this film that changed my impression of him and I have since looked forward to every film he has made. I imagine that DiCaprio is the kind of actor that would learn from the greats when he had a chance and during this film he got to work with one of the best of all time.

Daniel Day-Lewis had been retired before this movie came out and was persuaded out of it by direct involvement from Scorsese and I think DiCaprio too. It’s a good thing he decided to get back in the game because he gave one of the greatest performances I have ever seen in any movie. He has since remained unretired and I am grateful for that because I think he has a lot to offer. Day-Lewis is a notorious actor as far as his methods go.  He stays in character at all times during filming and that kind of dedication clearly pays off for him. He gets to know his character on a different level and I think you can see that in his work.  As Bill the Butcher he scared me.  He was so intimidating in this role that his persona came through into reality and struck fear into my soul.  He was that good.  There is so much about films that is predictable, but when I watched this for the first time I had no idea what the Butcher might do at any time and it was thrilling.  There are only a handful of characters in film that can provoke that kind of feeling, the Butcher is one of them. The intimidation that he invokes, the power that he commands, and his strange sense of honor make him a character for the ages.  I think he was robbed of the Academy Award that year and I have never felt that Daniel Day-Lewis got enough credit for this part.  His accent  was really incredible, as I understand it he spoke in that accent throughout his time working on the film.  The character that he plays Bill “The Butcher” Cutting is based on a real man named William Poole but this movie isn’t necessarily an accurate portrayal of who he was. He was part of the Know Nothing political party that specifically despised Irish and German immigrants coming into the country.  There is some truth here, as with the Tammany Hall parts of the film but as with all films you need to do your own research to find the truth.

Aside from those two great actors there are many other talented people that brought something to this movie.  John C Reilly didn’t have the best part to play in the role of a character that doesn’t inspire a lot of love.  I like Reilly though and think this movie is one of the many examples that show his true value.  He has great range to be both serious and funny depending on what movie he is in.  I have never been a big fan of Brendan Gleeson but I can’t quite figure out why.  He is in many movies that I love and he played a great character in this one as well.  This was the first movie I remember seeing Henry Thomas in since his role as a child in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial so it was cool to see him still acting, albeit in a role as a weakling.  Liam Neeson had quite a good role in the beginning as well.  I read once that originally his character was hacked piece by piece to death during the battle but it had to be changed to get an R rating. However during the battle, right before the butcher attacks him you can see a quick shot of his arm being hacked off that wasn’t removed from the final cut.  It just appears to be someone else being cut because you don’t see this injury on him as the Butcher kills him.

The only role that I didn’t think was great in this movie was that of Cameron Diaz.  It isn’t anything against her either I think she is a beautiful and talented actress but just not right for this role.  I think she looked too pretty for the part.  A pick-pocketing hooker during that era wouldn’t have such a perfect looking face with such pretty features.  Originally the part was to be played by Sarah Polley, who I think would have been much better in the role.  I am a fan of Polley but she isn’t an A-list actress by any means and that was the problem.  The studio wanted a more bankable star in the role and the casting was changed at the last minute.  Nothing against Cameron Diaz but this decision hurt the movie.  That’s the biggest problem in most films.  Executives think in terms of what will make them the most money and not what will make them the best movie.

This is an epic movie, a wicked and amazing epic movie. It is violent, witty, and generally top notch across the board. If you haven’t seen this movie it is worth your time, because I can assure you that you will be satisfied when it is over.  If you aren’t and you don’t like this movie then let me know why because I would really like to know. I happen to have asked a few people about this movie this past week and they didn’t know it.  I counted it as an anomaly to what most people must have seen because it is so great but in the event that I am wrong there might be more of you out there.  In that case, see this movie, it’s great but brace yourself because it is violent…there will be blood.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is great. It tells an interesting story and keeps you interested throughout. The most notable thing about this film, however is the acting. This movie is filmed with A quality actors. I am sure that Ryan already mentioned all of the names in this film, so I won’t reiterate here, but when you put this kind of talent all together in one film, the result is bound to be incredible, and I think it definitely shows in Gangs of New York.

If you like a nice blood bashing then this is for you. It’s a great movie with a lot of meat to it and I definitely recommend it.

-A

NEXT MOVIE: Ghostbusters (1984)

Any Given Sunday

Year: 1999
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: John Logan, Oliver Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

When we started this blog back in March I had hoped that by the time we reached this film on the movie rack that the ridiculous NFL lockout would be over. I am a huge NFL fan, and this lockout has been difficult to endure. I would personally like to stick it to them when they come back and take a stand to not watch any of the games.  That would be pointless though and who the hell would I be kidding anyway? I couldn’t avoid it, I need football and the lack of an offseason has been driving me nuts.  I hope that the situation will be resolved soon, it’s disappointing to see what greed is doing to the sport.  This movie however is one of my all time favorites because I love football so much. I usually don’t like movies about football or other sports, they tend to all be the same, but this one is different.  I watch this movie annually during NFL preseason every year, I hope that I will be able to do that again this year come August.

For a long time Oliver Stone was my favorite director, and he still is to some degree, but this was his last great film.  This was the cherry on top of a great portfolio, it was all downhill after this, but I think this was one of his best. Oliver Stone has an incredible mind and the vision and ability to transition it onto the screen.  This movie is star-studded, fast paced, gritty, and awesome.  It portrays the game well on several different levels, it captures what super stardom can do to someone, and it tells an excellent story. Oliver Stone had a great quality in getting spectacular performances out of his actors.  This movie is no different, Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Aaron Eckhart, Matthew Modine, and even Charlton Heston are all great.  Stone somehow manages to get them all a lot of screen time as well throughout the movie. Stone brought in several real current and retired NFL stars to play roles in the film too.  Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, and Terrell Owens just to name a few, LT played his role exceptionally well.  Stone also puts himself in the middle of his epic football movie, as the play by-play commentator, I admire that.  Best place to be for a true football fan, I think it says something about him.

I say that it was all downhill for Oliver Stone after this movie because his next film, Alexander (2004), was apocalyptically bad.  I followed the production of that movie for over two years letting my anticipation build and I have never been so disappointed in a movie.  I haven’t seen anything Stone made since actually, but his magic was gone by then, it didn’t matter anymore.  If you have an opportunity to see this movie I think you should definitely see it. On second thought, if you are a football fan at all then go out of your way to get it and see it.  It’s a great movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am a really big football fans and I usually like Oliver Stone’s movies but this one just doesn’t do it for me.  I know Ryan loves it and I know a lot of other people who love it as well but I’m just not a fan.  Also, just a note.  I have always heard people talk about how big the penis in that one scene was, I didn’t think it was that big.

NEXT MOVIE: Apocalypto (2006)