Jared Leto

Lord of War

Year: 2005
Directed By: Andrew Niccol
Written By: Andrew Niccol

RYAN’S REVIEW

I initially bought this movie for a project I was doing in college.  I had seen it before and had a specific scene in mind that I wanted to use for the project.  While I bought it for the project, I really just used that as an excuse for the purchase.  I liked this movie and really only needed a half assed excuse in order to add it into our collection which was much smaller at the time.  It’s a movie that tells a really interesting story and it gets you more invested on the pretext of being based on a true story.  This is a fictional film “inspired” by true events and that makes all the difference.  There never was any real Yuri Orlov or an overzealous Interpol agent determined to catch him.  It makes for a great story of cat and mouse but it isn’t based in any factual truth.  The character Nicolas Cage portrays is a combination of many different arms dealers and organized criminals throughout the time the film takes place.  The conflicts seen in the film are ones that actually took place but all characters and events we see are fictional.  Nevertheless there is enough of a base truth in this film to give us an idea of reality, or at least something we can learn from.

Whether the movie is actually based in fact or not it still brings awareness to a truth that plenty of people know little about. Everyday there are stories about atrocities that take place in rural parts of the world but we never consider the upper level dealings that lead to these horrible acts.  This movie makes somewhat of a protagonist with the character of Yuri Orlov but in truth the men that he represents are evil men who profit from cruelty and death.  It’s easy for some of us to forget about how fortunate we are when we see a film like this and get a glimpse of what it looks like in some other places around the world. In this film we see conditions in places like Liberia and Sierra Leone where children carry weapons and people fear for their lives at all times.  The President of Liberia and his son are fictionalized for this film but they are based on Charles Taylor and his son who were very real.  These men are intimidating in this film because they are capable of anything and there is nobody to stand up to their own style of authority and justice.  If only half of their portrayal in this film is accurate it is still a scary reality that took place years ago.  Currently Charles Taylor is spending the rest of his life in jail and that is where he belongs.  However, in this film I specifically like that he and his son ride around with women dressed as Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. It can be hard to grasp the idea that while we are going about our own lives there are evil men out there living like kings and doing whatever they please despite the havoc it creates for others.

This movie touches on several historical and political issues yet ironically I used the film in a college project for neither reason.  At one point in college I took a summer class on History of Pirates in the Caribbean. Let me repeat and clarify.  I literally took a college credited class at a popular North Carolina university on the history of pirates.  A complete BS class but it came with a writing credit and was great because I could apply it to required hours for any of the three required regions of study in a history major which were US, European, and Third World.  It was a vaguely interesting class but I can’t be honest enough in the fact that this class only existed because of how popular that ridiculous Disney film starring Johnny Depp was.  If I’m being honest then I also must add that I only took the class because I was being exceptionally lazy at that point in my college career. This class seemed like an interesting idea but offered very little in real education. The project I used this film for was on a presentation about modern day pirates.  I showed the scene in which Yuri quickly changes the name of the ship he is on as Interpol approaches to demonstrate how illegal activity at sea can take place or something like that. College seems like 100 years ago now.

Since I was a kid in love with action movies I have been a fan of Nicolas Cage.  I have to say that as a 13 year old boy Con Air seemed like one of the coolest movies ever made.  Today I can recognize that one for what it is but I still like Cage because he is capable of so much.  I have never understood his decision making when it comes to choosing roles, which these days seems something like “take every single thing that is offered.” Cage will literally make the most ridiculous movie in the world then turn around and deliver an Academy Award worthy performance.  I don’t think this was his greatest role but he is a great actor that brings something to the table no matter what’s on the menu. Throughout the rest of the movie collection we will have plenty of opportunities to discuss how great Nicolas Cage can be (also see Adaptation) but at the end of the day you just never know when he is going to do this:

When I think of Ethan Hawke I always think of that second string veteran wide receiver in the NFL.  If that guy is in the game you know he is going to do his job and do it right, but you won’t expect anything spectacular from him.  If he was spectacular he would be starting.  I see Hawke as an actor who can act but I don’t think he really has the talent to do anything exceptional. He is a serviceable actor though and he does well enough in this movie. I think Jared Leto generally only gets called when Jake Gyllenhaal has a scheduling conflict.  I have never really been much of a fan but like Hawke, he does well enough in this movie.  I think the best performances came from the men portraying the President of Liberia and his son, Eamonn Walker and Sammi Rotibi.  I don’t know that it was their performance as actors or if they just had the best parts to play but they did a great job in this film.  Iam Holm was exceptional in his role as Nicolas Cage’s rival and competitor. Holm is a good actor but he is slowing down as age catches up with him.  Once his role of Bilbo Baggins is over in a couple of years we probably won’t see much more of him.

This movie couldn’t have come at a better time in the collection because it had been a long time since I’d seen it.  I like this movie and enjoyed watching it again but I don’t think it’s good enough to warrant multiple views.  I like the narration over the film and how that enhances the idea that it actually happened.  While the story is fictional there are probably many things from the film that actually happened to various people, albeit exaggerated as all things in film are.  I have a pet peeve when it comes to films “based on a true story” because there is really no such thing.  I once had to watch Hotel Rwanda in college for a class project and was shocked to find out how much history was distorted in that film.  The way I see it, if you can’t trust a film like Hotel Rwanda to be accurate then there is little room to trust any film claiming to be based on real events.  The key word is “based” because it implies that what goes on in the film actually happened but doesn’t necessarily mean it actually happened that way.  You specifically can’t trust that phrase because sometimes a movie is tagged that way just for effect.  Good examples of this are Fargo and The Strangers.  Both of those films are listed as being based on real events but never happened at all.  The Strangers specifically seems scarier when the idea that it really happened is introduced but it never did.  The writer simply created the stories based off his own ideas about the Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate and her friends.  It didn’t happen anything like what we saw in the movie but the movie wasn’t even based on those murders so it doesn’t matter.  My whole point here is that as a viewer you should never trust that what you are seeing is something that actually happened.  They are movies and movies are about telling a story that will make the studio money. They will tell which ever story is more likely to bring people into the movie theater and pay to see the film.  Despite all this I think this was a good movie and would recommend it if it came up in a conversation. I think it’s worth your time, just take it with a grain of salt and don’t believe it to be something that actually happened.  It should be noted that none of the men Cage’s character represents got arrested and received a get out of jail free card because they had done dirty work for the president.

AMBER’S REVIEW

lord_of_war_ver2I don’t know why I didn’t really like this film. I usually love Nicholas Cage. I think he is a very talented actor. For some reason this movie just didn’t resonate with me. I found it hard to get into and even more holding my attention. Ryan seemed to really like it, and maybe I should give this one another shot sometime, but for now I am standing on the fact that it’s just not my favorite.

This could be my favorite poster to date. I love everything about it. If you didn’t already know, you now know that this movie is about weapons and the trading and selling of them. The designer of this poster decided to build Nicholas Cage in bullets. ALL bullets.

The time and effort that went into this is amazing. I can’t even imagine having the patience to place and color all of them. Even better is the way they take the essential (required text) information and put it around the poster as a border in a very light gray. I wouldn’t dare cover up the bottom of this either, it took too much time! I think that’s a great resolve. My only complaint here is the Lord of War typography, and that may not have even been done by this designer. I feel like Trajan is way over done for movie titles and the little “of” in the middle is way overdone.

Lord-Of-War_2299_4ea5ddbd34f8633bdc0016b5_1320301540

Here is a closeup of the face, Just in case you don’t believe me. 😉

This poster is going into my favorites. I just love the artistry and design behind. The concept and use of design rule-breaking. Kudos designer!

NEXT MOVIE: The Lost Boys (1987)

Highway

Year: 2002
Directed By: James Cox
Written By: Scott Rosenberg

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie about wild and free spirited youths.  I really identified with it myself when I, myself was a wild and free spirited youth.  Those days are long forgotten now but it can still be exciting to see a movie like this that takes me back.  This is an interesting and cool movie that I still like to watch. I was ten years old during the time this movie was set in 1994.  I remember some of the things mentioned in the movie such as Kurt Cobain‘s suicide but I remember little about the style and fads of the time period. I think it is interesting that this movie was set in 1994 when it came out in 2002.  It makes the story feel more real that way, as if the writer merely put down a chapter of his own life from years ago.

This is a cool movie but I think I may have been over zealous when I bought it for the collection. I don’t know that it is that good. It’s a little bit too heavy on the drugs.  Once you’ve seen a movie like this some of the themes become a little redundant.  Not only that but the movie just doesn’t seem as awesome to me now as it did when I was 22. The cast is worth wild, featuring Jared Leto, Jake Gyllenhaal, Selma Blair, Jeremy Piven, and John C. McGinley.  I am a big fan of McGinley, specifically his work with Oliver Stone, but he had no business in this movie.  He plays the part well enough but I don’t think he fit in well with the younger cast.

I like this movie well enough but I don’t know that I would actually say it is worth your time.  It might only appeal to a certain generation and in that event it is only going to be a bad influence, as it was once a bad influence on me.  You probably won’t catch this movie on TV while you are channel surfing though. It’s one of those many movies in danger of being forgotten far too quickly.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is a cool movie. It’s remotely interesting. I still don’t really know why it made it into the movie collection; I mean it’s not really great or anything. Jared Leto looks pretty sexy in this movie. That’s saying a lot since I don’t think he is anything near attractive these days.

Here is the poster/dvd cover. B-O-R-I-N-G. What is the typography even trying to do here? Look like a broken highway? The movie isn’t even about that. Apparently, I don’t like it too much.

NEXT MOVIE: Home Alone (1990)

Fight Club

Year: 1999
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Chuck Palahniuk (novel) Jim Uhls (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie instantly became one of my favorite movies when it came out and I watched it frequently. It’s full of little things that you notice with each additional viewing that make it fun to watch multiple times. I was fifteen when it was released and it probably wasn’t the best influence to spend so much time with during my formative years but there were no lasting effects. The anarchy and rebellion that goes into the story is something that can influence plenty of teens, and all young men love to fight, or watch fights at the very least.  This movie has without doubt made its mark on our society and that is still true over a decade later.   It is a dark movie but it is an incredibly interesting one as well.  It is based off a book that is equally if not more dark and disturbing.  According to the writer many people were unaware that it was actually based off a book when it came out, and he frequently came into contact with people unknowingly influenced by what was actually his creation.

Chuck Palahniuk is an interesting writer with a style like none other I have ever seen.  He has written many books but Fight Club is the only one that I have read.  I did really enjoy the book but it has been a few years and I am due for a reread because I can’t remember enough about it now.  (Thanks George R.R. Martin, you have pushed other authors out of my memory, but I don’t mind because your books are awesome). I do remember that I liked the book but it was different. The ways in which the movie was different though seemed to only bring more to the story collectively.  The main thing I remember from the book wasn’t even in the book itself but in an afterword written by Palahniuk about how popular the story had become and the mark it left on our culture.  He tells a story about being at a book signing in London.  One reader came to him raving about what was done to food in the book and saying that he himself had served a famous person tainted food in the same fashion. When the reader refused to tell Palahniuk who the famous person was he leveraged the autograph to get the info.  The reader then told him he worked at the only five star restaurant in the entire country of the UK and that the Queen of England had eaten his cum, FIVE times.  I will never forget that for as long as I live because if the Queen of F-ing England isn’t safe from eating cum then we are all in danger at all times.  All I can say is never send anything back and always be incredibly nice to the person serving you. They are preparing your food and they are usually young and immature people who wouldn’t even think twice about doing something disgusting to your food. Famous people shouldn’t even eat out at all, and the cops shouldn’t go anywhere but Subway because they can see their food prepared there.

This was the third uniquely awesome movie David Fincher had made in a row.  It came right after both Seven and The Game which both had the same ability to blow your mind at the end.  At the time I considered Fincher to be the best young director out there and his work backed that up.  I personally have not been impressed with anything that he has done since this movie although just about every movie he has made since has been critically acclaimed and loved by the audiences alike.  I didn’t care for Panic Room, Zodiac, Benjamin Buttonor The Social Network all for different reasons but I specifically thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was awful.  I think that was one of the worst books I have ever read despite its success, and I think the movie was even worse.  The thing for me was that I got really invested in that mystery. I could not wait to find out who killed that girl and how.  When I found out **SPOILER ALERT** that she had been alive the whole time I was pissed, what a rip off, and the movie was even worse.  Literally all throughout the movie he has a picture of the woman as an adult on his wall under a different name and nobody that has been searching for her for thirty years looked at it and noticed her? Blomkvist easily obtains the picture of her living under the oh so clever alias of another relative, and they couldn’t figure this thing out in thirty years? Of course it wasn’t like that in the book but I just really thought it made the whole movie ridiculous. The movie was OK with me up until then and it was a well made film but I still think it was overrated. The story as a whole was just such a letdown, and I thought the Blomkvist character in the book was so overdone.  Everywhere he goes women of all types just throw themselves at him, it’s just tacky if nothing else, the pipe dream of a man that didn’t get laid enough in his life.  Daniel Craig wasn’t bad in the role though and the character wasn’t so annoying in the film. If nothing else the movie was great for seeing a lot of Mara Rooney naked, and she looked so sexy with those piercings and tattoos. Apparently there aren’t many who share my opinion of the book and movie though, they were both very successful.

This movie is dark, gritty, and mind blowing.  It was really well made and the screenwriter did a great job of adapting the story into a film.  What made this movie just as good though was the acting.  Brad Pitt was the king of cool in this movie, and he solidified his image with men as much as he already had with women in this movie. Pitt was more ripped than any man should be in this movie, he smokes nonstop, and he always had something either interesting or really cool to say.  Ed Norton was just as good and it is his character we see the most arc from.  What I never really realized until someone pointed it out to me was that Norton doesn’t have a name in the movie.  His character in the credits is simply listed as Narrator. Norton was on a role at the time this movie was made and he was in several great movies at the time.  His star has faded in the last ten years though and I am not sure why.  I know that he got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit for The Incredible Hulk and was not asked back to do The Avengers because of it.  I think that was a shame because I really liked Norton as Bruce Banner and was hoping for him to get back on top with the franchise.  Helena Bonham Carter is so dirty in this movie, yet still has something sexy to her that I think everyone can see.  I am a big fan of Carter and while for some reason she chooses roles that make her look unattractive I still find her to be sexy, even as she gets older.  This movie nearly got an NC-17 rating for a line she spoke that was taken from the book but it was cut to get the R rating.  At one point she tells Tyler Durden that she wants him to get her pregnant so she can have his abortion.  I think cutting it was understandable, even for a pro-choice person that seems too wrong.

Speaking of dialogue that was cut I think it is important to mention where it was simply changed.  The ingredients given for napalm and dynamite in the movie are not correct.  They were changed for the obvious reasons although the book does describe the correct ingredients in it.  Good thing for all of us that a lot fewer people read the book, but that information is unfortunately available to anybody clever enough to get on the internet, so beware.  I can see this movie being a dangerous influence to some people but that isn’t the case for all.  For all people of sound mind this is simply a fascinating and awesome movie.  I can’t say that I would recommend this movie to anyone because I don’t see it as being for everyone.  It has found an audience in very unusual demographics though according to the afterword by Palahniuk in his book.  So while maybe I’m not sure who and who I should recommend this movie to I can tell you that it is definitely worth your time to see it if you haven’t already.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Fight Club is one of those movies that most people have seen and loved. I think it mostly had to do with Brad Pitt being a completely gorgeous little badass. This movie is twisted in every sense of the word, and is put together in a seamless way. It is a super dark movie and follows the life of Edward Norton as his character changes throughout the movie and ultimately comes to a dramatic realization in the end.

I would be surprised to hear that you haven’t seen this movie, especially if you read our blog, so I will say go now and watch this movie. It will only add to your cool factor if nothing else, and other than that it is just damn well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Fire in the Sky (1993)