Julianne Moore

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Year: 2011
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Written By: Dan Fogelman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I never wanted to watch but simply couldn’t deny that it was good. It covers a topic that I usually steer clear from because it hits too close to home. In this case however I actually think the content is conveyed in an incredibly lighthearted and funny way. When a movie about something I don’t like to watch with actors I don’t particularly care for somehow overcomes all odds and impresses me I feel like I owe it a place in the collection. So one night I found myself up late and allowed Amazon Prime to wear me down with several recommendations and this was one of them.

There are some movies I steer clear of specifically because of content. I can’t stand movies about junkies, I don’t like movies about or involving rape, and I don’t like movies about divorce and affairs. The first two are just things I just don’t care to see because they only make ugly and awful stories. When it comes to divorce and affair it’s just something I, like so many others in my generation, had to suffer through in a time when kids got forgotten and parents simply didn’t know what to do. That’s not how it looks in this movie though as the kids are strong minded and the cuckolded father finds a new energy in life. It’s inspiring and endearing all at the same time. I can’t stand Ryan Gosling, but he is pretty damn cool in this movie and how he coaches the old dog to learn new tricks is awesome.

I typically feel like Steve Carell is too typical and simply redoing his 40 Year Old Virgin/Michael Scott character but that’s not the case in this film. It’s probably time to evaluate that opinion again as he has now undoubtedly moved on from those roles. In this movie he plays such a down to earth guy in an honest situation like any typical guy might find himself in. It is awesome to see him make his transition from middle aged dad to confident ladies man with the help of an unreasonably cool new friend. To see him become cool again gives hope to any person who finds himself in a similarly unfortunate situation in life.

Emma Stone is such a delightful actress and she makes everything she is in better. She brings the greatest element of surprise to this movie and her role comes together in a great and hilarious scene.  As the adult daughter of Steve Carell and Julianne Moore she brings the movie full circle by connecting all the characters. Stone is an actress that shocks me each and every time I see her on screen by being so much better than I expect her to be. She is very funny and very talented as an actress. She has the privilege of working alongside another great in this movie. I have never been the biggest fan of Julianne Moore either but for the life of me I don’t know why. She is a fantastic actress whose star continues to shine brighter with every new performance.

For me, this movie captures love as it actually is. Crazy and stupid. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but the heart wants what the hearts wants. Love can cause more pain than anyone can imagine but can also inspire forgiveness and understanding in a way that we can’t anticipate. Love can confuse and frustrate us, but that is the nature of it. It is an emotion with a mind of it’s own. Some people will never figure that out and are doomed to a lifetime of befuddlement when it comes to dealing with personal relationships. I appreciate and respect love because I recognize it as something that is beyond our understanding. With love the why never matters but all that needs be considered is what “is.” The only hope you can have is that the love is mutual and not one sided. There is no reasoning with love and no denying it. It is an emotion that can build or destroy us. It is a mystery that brings intrigue or disaster to lives all across the world. It has an energy all on its own and it is different for all of us. I can say with true honesty that the only reason I understand love is because I was lucky enough to find it with Amber. It can be crazy and it can be stupid, but it is what it is and my love for her is what makes my life whole.

When it comes to people I don’t think you should ever expect much. In my experience people will follow their own mindset regardless how reasonably you try to persuade them to a more practical mindset. I don’t think you should ever expect any one person to change but be wise enough to recognize it if it actually happens. People can change, but it isn’t something that happens easily. It’s far easier for a bad person to weasel themselves back into a relationship on the pretext of change that is only temporary. That isn’t real love. Real love is the crazy, stupid madness that engulfs a person and makes them capable of doing what they were never able to do before. It’s a sad reality that in plenty of relationships only one person feels true love and that person is doomed to suffer in wanting for something that they can never hope to actually have. Real love does happen though, and it does exist. I hate to admit it but I love this movie about people who are truly in love.

Amber and I watched this today simply as a means to checking it off the to do list and getting another review in the bank. What I didn’t expect was how much the movie would actually get to me. I didn’t expect when we started it that I would love it when we were finished. I had my same stubborn preconceived ideas about this movie before we watched it again but it won me over again despite that. To me that makes it a great film. I think this movie does an excellent job of really capturing what love is and it does it in a fun and funny way. That makes this movie worth your time and I hope you give it a chance.

Final notes on this film. I think John Carroll Lynch is awesome in everything he is in. In a supporting role he brings a lot to this movie. I don’t like the part that Kevin Bacon plays but this movie offers another great chance at getting through a game of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Also, Marisa Tomei is always delightful and beautiful despite age. My father met her once during a premier of Only You at the Uptown Theater in Washington D.C. when he was manager there. She came out of the theater at one point during the viewing and shared a cigarette with him in the lobby. He said she was a really nice person and easy to talk to.

Magnolia

Year: 1999
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’m going to take a bit of a different approach in reviewing this film.  I think it is an incredible movie and a tribute to the talents of Paul Thomas Anderson and the actors he cast in the film.  To begin this review I am simply going to start by answering the biggest question the film poses.

Why do frogs fall out of the sky?

For a long time I thought this was just an ironic scene and gave it no more thought than that.  I found the movie to be so compelling that when this scene came up out of left field I just went with it.  It’s an interesting scene in which I have never seen any like it before and thought it was incredible even without understanding.  When watching the movie again for this review I was able to find a definite answer after minimal research.  The movie makes well over 100 references to Exodus 8:2 all throughout the film.  In the Bible, Exodus 8:2 states “If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country.” I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the deeper meaning of this verse and how it plays into the movie.  Who exactly is refusing to let go to the point that frogs fall from the sky? It’s clearly not Julianne Moore’s character because she goes the extra mile letting go.  The molesting game show host Dad practically let’s go of his secret that he actually did it.  Is it Tom Cruise refusing to let go of his hate for his father? Is Claudia refusing to let go of her drug habit? The hate she has for her father? I turned all these questions over in my head before going to the internet for outside answers.  After a quick and easy search I found this quote from Anderson on the matter.  The page has great info on the biblical verse and how it plays into the film.  However, after reading what Anderson said I am convinced that the verse doesn’t actually have anything to do with what the characters are going through.  I skimmed the quote but if I got it right he simply wanted the bizarre element of frogs raining from the sky and kind of worked backwards with the 8 and 2 references. As far as I am concerned none of this really matters.  I thought it was awesome when it started raining frogs and could really care less what the meaning behind it was.  This is a movie on a platform all by itself and I felt like something this out there fit in nicely.

With that big topic safely taken care of it’s time to cover the rest of the film.  I am a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson and this is far and away my favorite film of his.  I loved his choice in music and how effectively he synced it into scenes and kept the flow of the movie going.  I thought he wrote an interesting story rich with compelling characters that all tie together in interesting ways.  This movie is incredibly powerful from beginning to end and the strength is from the writing.  Anderson poured a lot of heart and soul into this script and he handpicked the actors that would bring that script to life.  This is an excellent movie and that is usually what happens when a filmmaker is given the kind of free reign Anderson was allowed when making it.

I think one of the greatest performances in this film has to go to Julianne Moore.  I have not always been her biggest fan but in a role like this you simply can’t argue with her talent.  She plays character so torn over the circumstances her life has reached.  She married a rich man for his money but fell in love with him as he was dying.  She has fallen so deeply in love with him that she can’t forgive herself for her motives in the past, and the actions that came in conjunction with those motives.  She doesn’t want his money she just wants him but she can’t get what she wants.  Her guilt drives her desperation and ultimately leads her to the decision she makes in the end.  Powerful performance by Julianne Moore, I don’t know how she got snubbed for an Oscar nomination.

Tom Cruise wasn’t snubbed and I have always considered his role of Frank TJ Mackey to be what made me turn my tune on the guy.  I had liked a few of his movies over the years but I had never considered him a serious actor despite that.  In this movie I felt he played a drastically different part as well as showing an emotional range I didn’t know he was capable of.  He plays the kind of man that I think we are all programmed to hate but as the movie progresses you see sides of him that make it difficult to hate him.  He is a douche bag trying to teach other douche bags how to manipulate women but underneath all of that he is a man running from who he is.  At a young age he was thrust into a situation that not many young people would be ready for and he grew up with hate in his heart.  The pain of watching his mother slowly die of cancer coupled with the hate he had for his father when he ran out on them turned him into the person we saw on stage in the beginning. When he finally reaches his father as he is dying the emotions that pour from him are nothing short of powerful.  In the end he mans up too to do what needs to be done, and I specifically like that about the character. Going to the hospital where his father’s wife has been taken shows he has let go of some of his hatred and suggests his life will probably be different going forward. It may not have been enough for everybody.  I’m sure plenty of people left the theater hating the man whose slogan was “respect the cock, tame the cunt,” but it got me to come around.  I hate that slogan though; cunt is an awfully ugly word.  Cruise did get nominated for best supporting actor for this part but lost that year to Michael Caine for his role in Cider House Rules.  I specifically remember watching the Oscars that year and Caine calling out Cruise. Telling him not to be upset because winning the award for supporting actor would probably mean a pay cut for him as a leading man.

I can’t stress enough how much all of the actors played such great parts but after the top two already named my third favorite role has to be that of John C Reilly.  I think Reilly is an incredible actor although he is prone to lowering himself to stupid roles such as the ones we saw in Step Brothers or Talladega Nights.  When he plays a part like this I think I am always blown away by what he is actually capable of.  I love his cop monologue in the beginning because the whole time you assume he is speaking to someone but when the camera zooms out he is just there alone, being weird.  He’s a weird guy in this movie but that is what I like about him.  A good cop but not one good enough to be taken seriously by his peers.  He is a man looked over by nearly everyone despite his efforts.  He is lonely, and as lonely people get he is desperate for companionship to the point that he will ignore a woman’s blatant drug problem to spend some time with her. So many of the characters in this movie are desperate and Reilly is right up there.  I really happen to like his relationship with Claudia and thought it was a nice part of the story.  They are both people ashamed of themselves and looking for someone in one another that they need so badly.

Both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and William H Macy should not go unmentioned here.  I think both brought a lot to the table in this movie but their parts are overshadowed by others to an extent.  Hoffman more so than Macy because I didn’t find anything particularly compelling about his performance.  Hoffman is a great actor and always great to have on hand.  Even without doing much his presence alone brings weight to the film.  Macy had a much more interesting character and in truth I really like the part.  I am not a big fan of Macy but can’t deny his talent.  My favorite part of his in this movie is when he talks about being struck by lightning and how much it hurt.  Also the random moment in the beginning of the film when he so casually drives his car through the window of a store, hilarious. Melora Walters played the part of Claudia and although I have never seen her in anything else I really thought she played a terrific part.

Rounding out this terrific cast were Philip Baker Hall and Jason Robards playing the hated and dying father’s. As all people want near the end they are looking to make things right in their lives before it’s finally over.  The sins of these two were unforgivable and both men went to their graves without being exonerated. Even in small roles this film found great talent to the cast.  Alfred Molina is in a small role as Donnie the Whiz Kid’s boss Solomon Solomon.  Luis Guzman, who has appeared in a few Anderson films now, played one of the adult contestants on the game show. Patton Oswalt played the scuba diver seen earlier in the film who is accidentally picked up and dropped onto a forest fire by a fire fighter. Robert Downey Sr. can even be seen in the background of this movie as well as many others that would take forever to name individually.

This is a beautiful film that has a voice of its own and it can speak directly into your soul. It’s about irony, fate, desperation, longing, regret, and death.  It’s a glowing example that life is different for all of us and all of our story lines pose problems that are more important to us than any other.  Life is challenging for all of us and though our problems are all very different they are no less real and overwhelming for us in our darkest moments.  This movie captured life in a very accurate way for me and then capped it off with something crazy, because that’s life, it’s crazy.  Sometimes we all hit the boiling point at the same time and when that happens it’s raining frogs, whether it’s only metaphorically or not.  This is an incredible film and although it is very long it is worth every minute of your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie truly is an interesting and intriguing movie. This is the film that made me literally hate Tom Cruise. Is it just me or does anyone else think that he was just a little too believable in this role? Like enough to not be a role at all, but more like real-life? It is a sort of compliment. I mean, the dude is amazing at what he does; I just hate that damn character so effin much.

magnoliaI just couldn’t bring myself to write another review of yet another cast montage poster, so I decided not to show the infamous one with the big magnolia flower with the cast in the leaves. Instead, I found this gem. I really, really like it so much better. This is a teaser poster and it really does its job. It just shows a bunch of falling frogs and has the title, which has no apparent relevance to the falling frogs. I’m intrigued, anyone else?

I am a HUGE fan of design not following grammar rules. YES titles are “supposed” to be capitalized, but when it’s designed on a poster, NO it doesn’t HAVE to be. I think it makes the design softer and prettier. I wouldn’t like to hang this one up or anything, but I like it so much better than the magnolia leaf design.

NEXT MOVIE: The Majestic (2001)

The Lost World

Year: 1997
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton (book) David Koepp (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I think this is a terrific sequel.  It manages to up the ante up on everything but star power.  This continuation of the story from the first film is bigger, more intense, and action packed.  Although it doesn’t feature any big name stars and it is a bit too influenced by King Kong. I remember dismissing this movie as simply alright when it first came out but will never forget when I revisited it in college and was blown away.  Nobody knows how to bring it quite like Spielberg and he lays out such great action sequences. This movie is not very highly rated but I think it is really good.  It’s such a bigger story than we saw in the first one and there is so much more dinosaur action.

I have read the book that this movie was adapted from but admittedly don’t remember it as well as the first one.  The book was written after the success of the first film and at the encouragement of Spielberg.  Michael Crichton didn’t want to write a sequel initially but relented to public demand over time.  From what I remember this movie does not follow the book very closely.  Most notably there is no trip to the US where a T-Rex destroys San Diego. What I remember from the book more than anything was how it was nonstop action almost to a fault, like all Crichton books I have read. Don’t get me wrong I like them and think Crichton was a terrific writer but his books can be exhausting.

I do think the story from the book was a better one than what we see in the film. In the book the rival company from the first film comes back into play.  I don’t understand why they did it differently for the film.  In the first film we see Dodson meet with Wayne Knight’s character and practically orchestrates the entire problem that goes down at the park. Yet in this film we simply see the company of Ingen having internal problems and trying to make as much money from the situation as possible.

One thing I think was really cool about this movie was that it showed us “Compies.” Compsognathus are those little dinosaurs that we didn’t see at all in the first film.  They are really prevalent in the first book.  In the book they are quite a surprise as they come in handy disposing of dino fecal matter.  Also, if I remember correctly I think John Hammond in the book is actually eaten by Compies when he falls down and injures himself.  This movie begins with the them attacking that little girl and I think it is significant for the film. It’s a new dinosaur to the movie franchise that seems small and insignificant but proves to be more dangerous in numbers.  I am a big fan of Peter Stormare from his work in Fargo but saw his death by Compies a fitting end in this movie.

The biggest flaw of this movie I think, aside from the trip to San Diego, was the fact that it required Jeff Goldblum to be the star.  I thought he was great in the first film as Ian Malcolm but he was simply a side character in that one.  In this movie he just gets on my nerves more often than not.  Naturally he is scared but does he have to bitch and moan about it for the whole film? Despite how good of an actress she is I have never really been a fan of Julianne Moore.  She is good in this movie though and has one of the most gut wrenching scenes in the film.  When she has fallen on the glass and it’s slowly breaking beneath her I once found myself forgetting to breath while watching it. One of the best roles in the film goes to Vince Vaughn and I think it is a shame that his character’s role is over before the end of the movie. This was before Vince Vaughn became a really recognizable name and I think it’s to the credit of Spielberg for noticing good talent that he is in this movie.  Spielberg had to screen a copy of Swingers before allowing the Jaws theme to be allowed in the movie and after seeing it decided to cast Vaughn in this movie.  Another bright spot in the cast is that of Pete Postlethwaite who is great as the intimidating group leader set on hunting a T-Rex.  Something about his determination and the way he carries himself tells you that this guy will have no problem hunting and killing the greatest predator of all time.  As things go on these islands though, there is no end to the problems everyone is unprepared for.

I think this movie sports many great scenes and sequences that make it worth wild.  The T-Rex attack on the groups vehicle is incredible, and the pursuit of the T-Rex afterwards will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I love when all the survivors run into the velociraptor zone and are quickly picked off by the cunning pack hunters. I love the overhead shot of all the men running through the tall grass while the raptors descend on them from multiple sides.  However, as great as these scenes are, they seem moot after the closing of the film.  I think the closing takes a lot away from the movie and had a lot to do with why the movie wasn’t as well received.  Having a T-Rex on the loose in downtown and suburban San Diego was a little ridiculous and too much like what we see in King Kong/Godzilla movies.  Not only that but I just don’t think it would be that difficult to dispatch that dinosaur on the lose within our own country.  Where are the authorities to shoot the thing down? It’s just a giant lizard and it’s not indestructible yet it’s just roaming through the city unabashed and allowed to cause all the destruction it can.

I haven’t enjoyed this movie as much this time around but it still has plenty of aspects that make it worth your time.  I think the movie would have been better had it followed the book more closely but it is good enough I suppose.  It can’t live up to the original film but nothing ever will.  No movie about dinosaurs can ever be good enough to excite us the way seeing them the first time did.  They have been trying to continue this franchise for over ten years now and there is still occasional talk about a fourth film but nothing they can do can ever recapture what they achieved the first time.  The third movie in the franchise literally did everything it could in an effort to be successful but still didn’t even live up to this one much less the first one.  However I still think this movie is good enough to tell you that it’s worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I definitely like the first one way better than this sequel. I still really like a good action flick that involves dinosaurs. I couldn’t believe that anyone wouldn’t like a movie that involves a bunch of dangerous dinosaurs chasing people around.

lostworld

Here is the poster for this sequel, and if you can remember from the last one, I was a big fan. And I really like this poster too. I normally don’t like most of the designs that came out in the 90s, but both of these posters are really working for me. They are simple and iconic, and in my opinion that is exactly what a successful movie poster does.

NEXT MOVIE: Jurassic Park III (2001)

The Big Lebowski

Year: 1998
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is my second favorite movie of all time.  I think it is a perfect movie. The performances are great, the screenplay is great, and it is made by a pair of the greatest filmmakers in the industry today. This may be my personal second favorite movie of all time but it is well-loved all around. There is actually an annual Lebowskifest for fans of the film which has gotten so big that the cast reunited for it this year and made an appearance. It is a great movie made by great movie makers, the Coen brothers, and it is their vision and creativity that make this film so great.

I was a history student in college when I fell in love with this film.  It’s because I watched it during that era of life that this film is so endeared to me.  It’s a smart movie and history plays a large part in the story really.  This movie is set at a specific time, during the First Gulf War.  The Gulf War was the first “major” military conflict the United States had entered since the fighting ended in Vietnam nearly 20 years prior. Here we have a story centered around a relic from the Vietnam era. The Dude is an old school hippy still doing his thing, getting high and bowling, enjoying a White Russian now and again.  He doesn’t have anything and doesn’t really care, he is just living life.  His best friend Walter Sobchek is a former soldier obviously still living in the past. After all “he didn’t watch his buddies die face down in the muck so that he could go on and live in the present.” His other friend Donnie the pacifist, he is out of his element. These are the men that represent different sects of American society during a very dramatic time in our history.  That isn’t what this movie is about though, this is just who the characters are.  These guys manage to get caught up in an unusual chain of events, something that happens in many Coen Brothers films.

The cast is fantastic in this movie, another Coen Brothers trademark.  Jeff Bridges is iconic as The Dude.  He is a good actor but at the end of his career I think this character will be the one that stands out the most.  That also goes for John Goodman, who is always great and is a Coen Brothers regular.  He is crazy and completely over the top as Walter Sobcheck and it is awesome.  There are many Coen Brother regulars in this film actually. Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Peter Stormare, and Jon Polito are some of the other Coen Brother regulars in this film.  Buscemi doesn’t stand out in this film because he is always in the background but he is the kind of actor that makes everything he is in a little bit better.  There are many directors that like to work with him on a regular basis and there is good reason for that.  Phillip Seymor Hoffman is overwhelmingly enthusiastic and very funny as the Big Lebowski’s assistant Bran. John Turturro is classic as the Jesus.  Sam Elliot provides another interesting character to the mix.  Tara Reid is young and sexy. Julianne Moore plays a very weird Maude Lebowski but she plays the part well.  Everybody is at there best in this film, the Coen Brothers have a great ability to get the best out of their actors.

When you watch this movie for the first time you really can’t be sure what will happen next and where it is all going.  When you watch it again you catch things you didn’t see the first time, and the more you watch it from then on the better it gets.  That is really what makes a movie special, when you can watch something over and over again and still find new things to love about it.  I have probably watched this movie over 100 times and I still think it is awesome when I watch it now.  This movie is more than worth your time, in fact it’s worth your money, attention, and respect.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is a hard movie for me to write about. I love it so much, but I doubt that I can find the words to tell you how truly awesome this film is. Everyone I know who has seen this movie loves it, or at least likes it. I have never met anyone that has seen it and tells me that they hated it. This movie is just so perfectly made. I love the Coen Brothers so much and think that they make the most amazing films. They are filled with interesting story lines that haven’t been done before, they have humor and drama were needed and they usually end pretty perfectly.

The people in this film are what really make it. The movie wouldn’t have been the same without Jeff Bridges as the Dude. He will always be The Dude, or the Duderino, or Duder, what have you. Walter is played so well by the infamous and Coen Brothers loved John Goodman. I think he is definitely my favorite character in the movie. He plays his role with such ease, as if he really was that person, not even acting at all, it was so effortless. The others, Phillip Seymor-Hoffman, Juianne Moore, Tara Reid, John Turturro and of course Steve Buscemi all played their roles to the “t” and it makes for such an interesting movie.

The plot centers around the most relaxed person in the world, “The Dude” getting confused with another person, named “Lebowski” simply because they have the same last name. The story follows along what happens to him after his rug gets pissed on by the people assuming he is this “Lebowski” character.

Memorable Quotes:

“See what happens Larry? This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!” -Walter

Maude: “What do you do for recreation?”
The Dude: “Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.”

“Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!” -Walter

“What’s this day of rest shit? What’s this bullshit? I don’t fuckin’ care! It don’t matter to Jesus. But you’re not foolin’ me, man. You might fool the fucks in the league office, but you don’t fool Jesus. This bush league psyche-out stuff. Laughable, man – ha ha! I would have fucked you in the ass Saturday. I fuck you in the ass next Wednesday instead. Wooo! You got a date Wednesday, baby!” -The Jesus

NEXT MOVIE: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)