Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Havoc

Year: 2005
Directed By: Barbara Kopple
Written By: Stephen Gaghan and Jessica Kaplan

RYAN’S REVIEW

So a month or so ago I found myself watching the Academy Awards with Amber.  Despite how big of a movie fan I am I have never had much interest in watching this ceremony and prefer to just read who wins when it is all said and done.  Amber is a big fan of seeing it though and I was cool with watching it if it made her happy.  However, all I took away from watching it was that Anne Hathaway has an incredible set of breasts.  She wore a dress that displayed a significant amount of sideboob and it must have been a bit chilly in Hollywood that night because she was poking right through the front of that dress.  Needless to say, her boobs left an impression on me and I spent the following day discussing it with other chauvinistic male co-workers.  I have since had a hard time getting those lovely breasts out of my head and eventually came across this film and bought it without seeing it.  Yes, I am a pig that bought a movie specifically to see Anne Hathaway’s boobs but is that really a bad thing? The woman has it going on and I must say that I think they were worth the purchase to see.

To my surprise this film offered a lot more than simply a few glances of a big star’s boobies.  I genuinely thought it was a good movie and enjoyed seeing it. This is a story about some wankster rich kids who really think a lot of themselves until they find out just how privileged and fake they really are.  I guess “until” isn’t really appropriate because the wankster boys continue to think they are badass even after being shamed by real gangsters.  The shaming of them makes the girls start to think twice about them though and their fascination with bad boys leads them to take things farther with the real gangsters.  This movie is about how foolish young people can be and about the dangers of simply letting privileged kids run wild with no real parental authority. The movie is dedicated to someone in the end and at first I thought this implied the story was loosely based on real life experiences.  The dedication is not to anybody who had a similar experience though and is actually the writer of the film who died shortly before it was released.

The cast is the real strength of this movie and I think it’s interesting because this movie came out right before a few of them really took off.  The biggest star of course is Anne Hathaway who gives a very compelling and provocative performance.  I may have gotten this movie simply to see her boobs but I was literally blown away by her performance in general.  She is a very talented actress and I think the sky is the limit for her.  There is one scene in this movie in which my jaw dropped and I just literally could not believe what she was doing.  If you have seen this movie you no doubt know what I am talking about but if you haven’t you will know what I mean when you see her on the couch. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also blew up shortly after this movie came out but I doubt his performance in the film had anything to do with it.  He doesn’t play a bad part and in fact I think he did a great job but he is just playing such a pathetic character, one of the wankster kids who thinks he is bad.  Another one of those kids was played by Channing Tatum, who Hollywood can’t seem to get enough of now.  I happen to think this was probably one of the best roles he ever played.  Specifically because I don’t know that he actually said anything in the film.  Tatum may be a big star now but I maintain he is at his best when he says nothing at all because he is not a very good actor.

Bijou Phillips plays Hathaway’s main counterpart and ultimately the victim of the situation.  I am not really familiar with her but she looked great in the movie and we get to see her boobs too as an added bonus. Mike Vogel played the top wankster who gets shamed by the real gangster played by Freddy Rodriguez.  I only mention Vogel because he is playing a significant part in the upcoming TV series Under the Dome on CBS.  I was a big fan of the book and look forward to the adaptation, although I know it will probably be disappointing.  I like Rodriguez because he played the hero in one of my favorite movies, Planet TerrorPlaying the part of Hathaway’s parents are Michael Biehn and Laura San Giacomo and I have always liked both of them very much.  Giacomo’s part is too small in the movie to really mention but I have long since been a fan of Biehn since his many collaborations with James Cameron and he has a more significant role in the movie.  Raymond Cruz is in the movie as well playing the type of role he has always been typecast to, a Latino gangster.  His best role as such had to come in Breaking Bad when he played the hardcore drug dealer Tuco. He is listed as being in a couple of episodes when the show comes back on in August so keep an eye out for some Tuco flashbacks.

I really think this is a movie that all wankster wanna be kids should see.  They can play Billy Badass all they want but they are only kidding themselves.  When they finally grow up and look back on themselves at that age they will consider their behavior petty and stupid but more often than not by then it is too late. For the young privileged girls out there that want to be bad and push boundaries a film like this should come as a reality check.  The world is a dangerous place, especially for curious girls who don’t know what they are getting themselves into. I also think this film should be a reality check for parents of teenagers as well.  You can’t let things get this bad, and it is your responsibility to make efforts to know what your kids are getting into.

I think this is an interesting movie and enjoyed watching it. Aside from Anne Hathaway’s aggressive sexuality and willing nudity I thought there was plenty here that was worth seeing. I think it tells a compelling story about kids who go places they have no business being and suffer the consequences of their decisions.  It’s a movie and story that I think we can all learn from and that is always worth your time.  I have to say buying this movie was a win win for me, Anne Hathaway was totally worth it, and the movie was good to boot.

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Inception

Year: 2010
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie hit theaters back in 2010 Amber and I were front and center, eagerly waiting to see it.  I distinctly remember sitting there thinking about how I really had no idea what this movie was actually about.  The advertisement was specifically vague and didn’t offer much insight into the plot.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what it was about though.  It was the new Christopher Nolan movie and it was going to be awesome.  With Nolan, the fact that it is going to be awesome is practically guaranteed. Needless to say, the movie was awesome and I went on to see it in the theater three times overall. That’s a steep number by today’s standards but it says something about how incredible the film is.

This movie hits on all levels.  It’s made by one of the best in the business; it has an outstanding cast, and a story that is truly original in a time when original ideas aren’t hitting the big screen. This movie came out when 3D ruled more than any other time.  For this movie to be so visually dazzling without that effect says more than can be put into words about the director.  Christopher Nolan has been on the rise for some time and this was to date the best he has done. As for the 3D effect I will say this, it was badass when James Cameron did it but everything else has been only a waste of time.  Nolan is a director smart enough to know that and he specifically doesn’t use it in his film.  Clearly, he doesn’t have to. In this movie he made something that can’t be matched, and the scenes without gravity are truly incredible.  Nolan also has an interesting ability to convey violence without actually showing it.  This ability allows him to get the PG-13 rating coveted by studios because of the extra money it brings in.  If I remember correctly this movie was an idea Nolan created in his youth, and he waited for the technology to be available to film it.  I was ill when I first heard about this movie because I was impatiently anticipating the next Batman movie and the making of this would only delay it.  When I saw the movie I didn’t mind but it only made me anticipate Nolan’s next film more.  Too much in fact because I was really disappointed with The Dark Knight RisesMy disappointment over Nolan’s final Batman notwithstanding I still believe in him and I will be excited about any film he is involved with.

The cast of this film is jam-packed with talent. It begins with the lead role of Cobb.  In which Nolan chose to cast the best in the business.  Leonardo DiCaprio in my opinion is the cream of the crop, greatest actor of his era hands down.  His track record speaks for itself and how he has managed to not win numerous awards is beyond me.  The Academy doesn’t like him for some reason but that doesn’t change the fact that he is the best there is. He has worked with nearly every important director out there and he has been in some of the best movies I have ever seen.  I think he is a bit out shined in this movie by some of the others but if anything it’s only because being great comes so natural to this guy. DiCaprio performs his part so deftly it’s easy to take his talent for granted. DiCaprio may be the best in the business but in this film Joseph Gordon-Levitt outperformed him.  I have watched Gordon-Levitt since his days on Third Rock from the Sun and I am thoroughly impressed with how his career has blossomed.  He owns it in this movie and deserves to be remembered forever for the performance. This was the first movie I had seen Tom Hardy in but he left an impression as well.  I am a big fan of Ken Watanabe and obviously Christopher Nolan is too because he casts him often.  Nolan likes Cillian Murphy as well and I think that’s cool because the guy fits into all his movies perfectly. I always liked Tom Berenger and really liked seeing him in a significant role in a new movie. This was one of the last movies Pete Postlethwaite appeared in before his death, he was a significant loss as he has been part of many good movies.   Last but not least, although his role was small Michael Caine still managed to bring plenty to the film.  Nolan has cast him in every movie he has made over the last several years and for good reason.

The female leads were just as good as the male.  I had never heard of Marion Cotillard before seeing this movie but I am aware she has had a long career in foreign film.  I think she was terrific in this movie. She has a look that can turn you cold and her character is wildly unpredictable. I was also unfamiliar with Ellen Page but I think she brought a lot to the film too. She infuses the cast with youth and fits the part of the college student well. Most people know her from the film Juno, but that it still sitting on my “to-watch list” and has been for some time.

The biggest thing that makes this movie great is that it’s a movie unlike any you have ever seen before.  It has a wildly imaginative story that is truly original in an era where most of what is hitting theaters are remakes and continuations of outdated franchises.  I think this movie proves there is still a place in the industry for original ideas, whether they confuse half of the viewers or not. This movie did seem to confuse a lot of people but I don’t know why.  It may be a bit much for the close minded viewer but I didn’t have any problem at all following it.  In the end when the Cobb’s top keeps spinning I think that it suggests that he is in fact still in limbo.  The fact that he walks away before seeing it fall simply means that he no longer cares if he is or isn’t in reality anymore.  He would rather see his kids again regardless what it means.  Cobb may have never come back to reality but it was possibly still a happy ending for him despite that.

This movie was very successful when it came out two years ago and for a while became the thing everybody talked about.  If you managed to miss it then it is more than worth your time to try to see it now.  With an excellent cast, one of the best directors out there, and a story that thinks outside of the box it is definitely a must see.  I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love this one. It reminds me a lot of my favorite movie of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I like the intricacies of this film. It is so in depth and if you aren’t paying attention to every minute, it is easy to get lost. This movie was made for movie lovers. The ones that watch and take everything in. The ones that are judging every scene, every sentence, everything. This movie is unexplainable; all that is explainable is that it is worth watching. Period.

This is one of my favorite ones to write about. I really like this poster. The world is turned up on itself, which is pretty much what happens when you dream. The laws of physics do not apply. I like the allusion to this in this poster. The font choice is bold and red is a perfect color. Once you have seen it, or even if you have seen this trailer, you can almost hear the “BOOOOOONNNNNNGGGG” sound when you look at the title. The only thing I think is unfortunate about this one is that the cast is standing in the street like that. I understand that they were trying to give as much billing to the characters as possible, but they have them standing around in the street and it looks like a Christian Rock group’s cover photo. Just my opinion, of course…but I don’t like it. It’s campy. Otherwise, this is a beautifully done poster.

NEXT MOVIE: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Dark Knight Rises

Year: 2012
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer

Like many people I have been a huge fan of this franchise over the years.  I have spent over three years waiting patiently for this movie and had every certainty that it would be awesome.  The news that broke with the release of this film was tragic.  It was hard to sit down in the theater today without thinking about what had happened to the innocent people in Aurora.  To make matters even worse there is hardly anything this film will ever be able to do to distance itself from that tragedy.  It will be forever remembered as the movie that people were watching when that mad man decided to do something so awful.  It’s unfortunate that a second Batman movie has come with such darkness looming over it.  No matter how great this franchise has been I fear it will always be shrouded with sadness and disaster.  We did our best not to think about the news when sitting down to watch the movie, but it wasn’t easy.

In all the time I spent following this movie through production I never had any doubt that it would be awesome.  I have absolute faith in Christopher Nolan after seeing his first two installments.  I also thought the cast is too great to disappoint. Bale makes a great Batman and guys like Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman can only make a movie better.  I also liked all the new characters made up of several actors from Inception and Anne Hathaway. I watched all the trailers as they were released and they served to build my anticipation even more.  It looked just as good as the others and seemed to offer more adrenaline and excitement as well.  However I have to admit that after sitting through the TWO HOURS AND FORTY TWO MINUTES I left feeling more disappointed than anything else.

I think this movie was far too long, and there was not enough action, or Batman for that matter.  Thinking back over it on the way home I don’t even know that I would even say this movie was about Batman at all.  I hate that he was so Howard Hughes like in the beginning. I think it is ridiculous that he goes from needing a cane to walk around to suddenly suiting back up as Batman.  I won’t go too far in this discussion because I don’t want to share spoilers.  I am not out to discourage others from seeing the movie I am just in straight up SHOCK right now. I am in shock at the fact that I find myself so disappointed, I really believed it would be otherwise.  There is just not enough of Batman in this one, he has no new gadgets to work with aside from “The Bat” and we do not see enough of the rebuilt Batcave.  Batman is almost like a side character in this one jumping into a larger story about Gotham as a city.

I thought Tom Hardy was great as Bane but I do not think Bane was really great.  I think he could have been great but we don’t really get to know him well enough.  What are his actual motives anyway? I understand the why in the end but it doesn’t seem good enough to me.  I think Anne Hathaway was terrific as Catwoman too but like Bane I think she could have been better. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman both saw smaller roles and I don’t think either shined as they have before.  Caine more so than Freeman. I love Michael Caine, but he is usually the comic relief in this franchise and here I only saw him as a bleating drama queen.  These great characters were pushed to the background to an extent in favor of the newbies Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard. I think this was a mistake but I do think Gordon-Levitt was great.  He continues to rise as an actor and he stole the screen for most of this movie.

If the franchise does not intend to make a fourth installment then much of the story in this movie seems unnecessary.  I have read time and time again that this is the last film of this franchise. Both Nolan and Bale have both said they were done no matter how much money is on the table and I believe it coming from them. So why did they waste so much time in this story the way they do?  I know without doubt we will see more Batman movies in the future but I don’t see much reason to have hope for them at the moment.  The studio will look to make more money and the film will suffer for that reason alone. They will “reboot” it again and we will see a whole new cast the next time around.  That is what will most likely happen but at the end of the day anything is possible.

I think if you are a Batman fan you should go see this movie, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it more than I did.  I am shocked and at a loss of words over how disappointed I am. The word flabbergasted comes to mind.  The more I think about it the more disappointed I am.  I think the movie lacked the intensity of the first two films, and the clever writing that tied everything together so smoothly.  I think that we would have seen a much more incredible film had Heath Ledger never died because I think the story obviously would have continued with the Joker.  We will never know though, and this will be what we always have.  If you are reading this and disagree with me please reply with an argument.  I might need to be talked into seeing this one again, and that too is so disappointing.

I would like to mention as well, The Avengers was a better movie and I think it is now without doubt the best movie this summer had to offer.  Click on the title to read our review of that movie, and if you haven’t seen it there might still be time to catch it in the theaters.

UPDATE #1

This movie was easier to stomach a second time around when my expectations weren’t so high.  I still stand by everything I said above but I can see now that it is not as awful as I implied the first time.  I think my biggest problem is that I just didn’t like the story in general and expected more.  Bruce Wayne is just so weak in this movie.  I think a movie that directly followed its predecessor involving a Batman in his prime fighting some new villain as well as cops would have been much more exciting.

I have read that there is a possibility of Joseph Gordon-Levitt taking on the role of Batman and continuing the franchise.  I really like this idea although Gordon-Levitt really doesn’t have the stature to don the cape and cowl. I think it would be a much better plan than him simply being a Batman-less Robin despite his size.  I do not know what Warner Brothers is doing as far as their Justice League movie goes but I think they have to find a way to connect everything in order to compete with what Marvel did with The Avengers.  Using Gordon-Levitt as Batman would be a good way to get that done.

10 Things I Hate About You

Year: 1999
Directed By: Gil Junger
Written By: three different writers

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is out of place in the DVD order because it is new.  I regularly buy new DVDs and the farther we get into the collection the more often we might get new movies that will take a place earlier in the order.  When that happens I intend to review that movie next and it will just be out of place in the blog.

Owning this movie was long overdue, I like it for several reasons.  It was while we were watching and reviewing the Jason Bourne movies that I decided to finally get it.  It was seeing Julia Stiles and wanting more that ultimately got this movie into our DVD collection. She has such an unique look that makes her beautiful and she is talented too.  This was her first movie and probably her most popular film, not including the Bourne movies where she is just a secondary supporting character.

There are other reasons this movie belonged in the collection too.  This was one of the movies I played on a regular basis at Action Video while I was working there.  It’s another one of those stupid high school films that came out when I was in high school but I always liked this one.  It is a funny movie and sets itself apart from the others in many ways.  I am also about to be the father of TWO daughters myself and have a new appreciation for a movie about two sisters.  I think Larry Miller is great as the father of those two sisters, he is really funny in this movie. This movie is also interesting because it gives us a look at three successful actors who were very young at the time.  Of course many of us knew Joseph Gordon-Levitt already from his long career on television as a child, this movie was part of his effort to branch out into films which is going much better lately.  Juila Stiles of course, although she does not work enough today.  I believe this was the first American film for Heath Ledger as well, and his star continued to rise until his untimely death almost ten years later. I was always a fan of Heath Ledger but for more of my thoughts on him see our post for The Dark Knight.

This movie gives me the nostalgic feeling of being 16 again, when all the problems I had only seemed important.  That makes it extra special to me but I still think this movie has a lot of value for anyone who wants to watch it.  This movie is worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I cannot believe Ryan bought this movie. And yes he bought, not me. I didn’t even ask him to get it, I just noticed it came in the mail this past week. This movie takes me back to teenageland. Every time I watch it I think about where I was in my life. It is one of those thinkless movies about a guy who meets a girl under false pretenses, and falls in love with her and then loses her and then he has to find a way to win her back. It’s an okay movie, not the greatest teen flick ever, but what I find most interesting about it is that Ryan loves it and bought it himself.