Tom Cruise

Risky Business

Year: 1983
Directed By: Paul Brickman
Written By: Paul Brickman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an 80s movie for the fan that wants something racier than John Hughes was capable of. Hughes of course made many incredible classics from the 80s era but they were all about as PG as you get when it comes to sexuality. This movie offers everything that he simply teased you with. Sexuality with nudity included, more prevalent profanity, and an R rating that is as fulfilling as only something suited for 18 years old and up can be.

I grew up with this movie, although watching it as an adult makes me question my father’s decision on what I was allowed to watch as an early teenager. He calls this a classic and I agree but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the whole thing this movie is about prostitution. I’m a parent myself now and watching this movie kinda makes my skin crawl when I consider it in any context of reality. Joel’s mother comes home and is disappointed there is a crack in her precious egg. She should be much more concerned with what she doesn’t know. Which is the God only knows how many prostitutes made use of her bed, and you know the teenage would be pimp Joel didn’t bother to change the sheets!

I find the transition of Joel’s character in this movie to be the most interesting thing about the movie from start to finish. He goes from outrageously horny virgin to having the confidence of a boy who has been made a man by a woman. What guy doesn’t remember that difficult time in adolescence when we were so horny we couldn’t concentrate on anything else? So eager yet so woefully unaware of what to do and overcome by fear when and if an opportunity presents itself. I think this film does an excellent job of capturing that haunting stage of pubescence and it gives me a nostalgic memory from my own teenage years. I don’t know that turning to prostitution is an answer for any guy in that uncomfortable stage but ……different folks different strokes? (pun intended). I’d imagine Joel needed to see a doctor after having “the time of his life” because he could probably use a shot of penicillin, and if that’s all he would have been lucky.

Personally, I consider prostitution to be really disgusting. As a happily married man I have very little interest in outside activity in the female department. Even if my wife wasn’t awesome and gorgeous enough to keep me interested I can’t even fathom the idea of making life that much more complicated. Life is complicated enough right? Adding in an extra marital affair just seems too stressful to me and the last thing I want would be more stress.  However, even if there were such unusual circumstances in which I found myself in a position to do so I can’t imagine prostitution is the way to go. No matter how good the apple looks it just seems too iffy to taste what’s already had several bites taken out of it. You don’t know who took bites before you and tasting that fruit is like inviting disease into your life and household. For the overly horny teenager whose just desperate to get some my position is the same. Suck it up and deal with it like all of us do until some girl is finally willing to let you go “all the way.” Paying for sex with a woman who literally has sex for a living is just gross and dangerous.

Plus, screw around when you don’t know what you’re doing and suddenly Guido the Killer Pimp is after you and you don’t want to mess with Guido. “It’s a hard ass life for a pimp,” and they won’t hesitate to make your life hard too if they can get an upper hand on you. I think that Joe Pantoliano is awesome in the part of Guido and it’s a fun opportunity to see him at such a young age. I have always been a fan of Pantoliano because of several roles. In this film he plays a part that really was the biggest of his career for a long time. He’s been in the game for more than thirty years believe it or not and has managed to portray many memorable characters beyond Guido the Killer Pimp.

Maybe it’s just because I watched this movie at that tender age of desperation but the sexuality of Rebecca De Mornay has been fused onto me for a lifetime. I had nearly forgotten till sitting down to watch this movie for the review but it all came flooding back the minute those patio doors blew open as she undressed. Long before I sowed my wild oats I was planting them with the goddesses I saw on screen and Rebecca De Mornay in this was near the top of the list. It’s a great thing that by the time I was a late teenager DVDs had taken over. Were my dad to have any reason today to pop in his old Risky Business VHS he would undoubtedly find it perplexing that the movie started right at that scene.

It’s always interesting to look at a film from this long ago featuring Tom Cruise. Back in 1983 he still looked young, but somewhere along the way in the 90s he simply stopped aging. Cruise was 21 when he made this movie and the funny thing about his look is that it isn’t even natural. That baby faced teenage look he has going on was accomplished in an interesting way. Before shooting Cruise went through a rigorous work out routine to get real lean and then spent a few weeks eating fatty foods to gain an extra layer to give him the teenage look. I think Cruise did a great job in this movie and it stacked his resume going forward as he would build what has become a highly impressive career.

I find it very interesting how iconic this movie has been for the last 30 years. Even today references continue to the lip syncing routine in oddly feminine garb scene. Not even a month ago I saw the movie and scene referenced in the popular TV series The Goldbergs (great show). In the PC world we live in today I get a great laugh out of this movie’s continued popularity. It’s lived on when so many have been forgotten and in this PC world we live in today I find that funny cause it’s about a kid who falls into running a prostitution ring. Irony equals a joke in the natural order of things.

I have never particularly loved this movie but I have always enjoyed it, in one way or another. I was surprised when we sat down to watch it again how sucked in I got. Even Amber, who was working, found herself distracted and pulled into the movie. I think it takes a good movie to do that to you, to catch you off guard when you least suspect it. To take you on a journey through an adventure in some fictitious life. Joel reminded me of when it was like to be that age, and he did something that qualified as what all of us at that age spent far too much time thinking about. I think this is a cool 80s movie and it’s worth your time to seek out and see.

NEXT MOVIE: Road to Perdition (2002)

 

 

Rain Man

Year: 1988
Directed By: Barry Levinson
Written By: Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass

RYAN’S REVIEW

The vast majority of the movies I grew up with were found on my own or I came by them through my mother’s side of the family. My father, despite his job while I was growing up never really got into movies as I or others in my family did. He’s not the type to get anything from a movie and they rarely mean very much to him. Sometimes though, an occasional film will stick with him. Sometimes they are the most unexpected of films but that’s not the case with this one. My dad, always the Tom Cruise fan, loves this movie and even to this day may quote it on a daily basis. Not even two days ago I heard him running through the warehouse yelling “V-E-R-N!” to a group of guys quietly trying spell it out in their heads and desperately trying to figure out what the boss wanted of them. Now, most of these kids were not even alive when this movie came out, oh how the time is flying, much less familiar with one unmemorable line from a classic they hadn’t seen. I got a kick out of watching the confusion created for these youngsters who are mostly in their late teens or early 20s but the point is that after 27 years my old man still has this movie at the forefront of his mind.

I don’t think it’s the kind of classic that holds up quite like that but it is a classic regardless. My point is that this is a classic movie that most movie fans have seen but here I witnessed a group of kids completely in the dark and even unaware of the film altogether when it was explained. One of them in particular, who had specifically been made to feel dumb over the whole thing, came up to me later and so pitifully asked, “what’s a vern?” I laughed and told him not to put too much thought into the old man’s references and for the love of God never mention the Timewarp or anything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If he did I would hold him personally responsible for what followed. For reasons I will never understand my dad is really into that one too (it should be noted that I know for a fact drugs aren’t involved and I often tell him he’s the only sober person who likes that movie). He’s so into the movie that it is embarrassing and I have literally had to hide my face in shame many times when he completely uncharacteristically breaks into song and dance at the mention of the film.

My point being, this movie reminds me of my dad more than anything else. Which is ironic given it’s about a guy with a tumultuous relationship with his father. All fathers and sons have layered relationships that can create animosity from both sides but I generally think it’s a typical thing. I think when it comes to fathers and sons they are more often than not too much alike yet too different at the same time. Under those dynamics the circumstances can create a variety of different outcomes.

I bought this movie a couple of years ago because Amber had never seen it and I felt like it was good enough for the collection. Nevertheless it’s not a movie that’s ever really meant much to me. I think Dustin Hoffman gave an outstanding performance and I appreciate the awareness it brought to a largely misunderstood condition at the time. Truth is, I’ve never been a fan of films about the mentally handicapped. I appreciate and respect the mentally disabled and my opinions about films focusing on them often give people the wrong idea. I feel like the films always have the same message in the end; which is that these people matter and we shouldn’t treat them like they are insignificant. I know that and I believe in that but I don’t feel like sitting through every actor’s efforts to win an Oscar by taking on the part. All the inevitable hallmark moments in between only meant to make our eyes leak bother me too. I’m a sap when it comes to movies and I try to avoid crying when it’s abundantly clear to me it is going to happen. I don’t really feel like this movie falls into that category, but generally speaking that’s just how I feel about movies of the subject matter. I feel like this about several types of films. For similar reasons I don’t watch movies about junkies, and I don’t watch movies about sports for a different but similar reason in that they are all the same.

In the case of this film I do feel like it is an exceptional movie. Although, if I’m not mistaken, it exaggerated Autism to a severe degree but if it brought more awareness to the condition it’s still a good thing. I think Dustin Hoffman proved he was still one of the greatest actors out there when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor with this part. I grew up knowing Hoffman mainly from this role, granted I never realized he was Captain Hook in Hook because of the costume, so I was really surprised to find out how notable of an actor he really was back in the 60s and 70s. Hoffman is an actor who didn’t age well, but he kept getting roles because he was that damn good as an actor. I’ve never been a fan particularly but I respect him for what he has accomplished throughout his career.

This is actually the role I have most associated with Tom Cruise throughout my life. In this movie he plays such an unbelievable asshole and he does it so well. Almost too well to the point it makes me think this is who he really is. Given this is the role I grew up knowing him from it should be easy to understand why I have always despised him as a person. It easier to understand if you learn a little bit about the guy and listen to what he’s all about but that isn’t the whole story for me. I think Tom Cruise is a terrific actor but I despise the man. I think that he is the guy we see in this movie and that’s the base of my dislike for him. I have enjoyed so many of his roles and cannot deny his talent but I just cannot openly support a proponent of Scientology and all the madness that this man is involved with. As much as I love to hate the guy though he is good at what he does. Even in this film as an unbelievable asshole he wins us over in the end by actually connecting with his brother and being less of an asshole. The change of Charlie Babbitt in this movie is what makes it endearing. The performance of Hoffman is what makes it great but the change we see in Cruise’s character is what makes it lovable. Tom Cruise is a total douche, but he knows how to win us over and no matter how much I dislike him I can’t help but admit how talented he is.

I came into this movie with an attitude that was less than enthused. I have to admit it though; this is an endearing movie that wins you over in the end. It’s inspiring to see this asshole learn to be a different person by finding out he has a brother and connecting with him despite all odds. I like that kind of character arc and I always feel like I learn about myself a little as I watch a character learn and evolve into a different person. It inspires me to think about who I am and how I can be a better person myself. Charlie Babbitt was an unbelievable asshole, but if you asked him he probably wouldn’t say so. Some of us can be blind to who we actually are because we are arrogant and selfish creatures by nature. Truth is we can all be better. I certainly can at least and I strive to be better on a daily basis; it should be noted I don’t always succeed. I’m a big believer that when we stop getting better we are simply getting worse. I don’t see a plateau and I don’t want to. I want to always be aware that no matter what I am doing I can always be better.  I appreciate movies like this that make me think, and the lessons I can take from watching someone else learn a little bit more about himself.

This movie didn’t get nominated and win Academy Awards simply because Dustin Hoffman started counting toothpicks. It was well-recognized because it is a great movie. It’s funny, dramatic, and interesting throughout. I think it also gives an interesting glimpse into the world of 1988, which I had never noticed until watching it now, in 2015. If you have already seen this movie I think you might find yourself as surprised as I was when I watched it again. If you haven’t seen it then you should check it out. It’s a great 80s movie that is worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Raising Arizona (1987)

The Outsiders

Year: 1983
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Written By: Kathleen Rowell (screenplay) S.E. Hinton (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I found myself surprisingly sucked into this movie when I sat down to review it. It was the first time I had seen it in probably as many as ten years but it was one I saw frequently in my youth. This movie reminds me of my dad because he was a big fan of it and talked of it often when I was young. It has a very large cast of popular young actors from the time. Some of which would go on to be big stars today while others rose to brief stardom before fading away. The movie tells an interesting story about class differences and rivalries during the 1950s.

Francis Ford Coppola made one of the greatest movies of all time and it is one of my personal favorites. The Godfather, for all practical purposes was a perfect film and a masterpiece crafted by Coppola. Aside from that I like very little of what he has done in his career. I hate the two sequels he made for The Godfather, and I have always thought Apocalypse Now to be overrated. I know that I would lose a debate when it comes to my opinion about Apocalypse Now but I will fight till I’m blue in the face over the The Godfather II and III. While I get why Apocalypse Now is a big deal I just find Coppola’s Vietnam hitman mission film to be too long, too dark, and too confusing. Given that opinion I am inclined to consider this my second favorite film by the guy who is a big deal for the one awesome thing he did forty years ago. Truthfully I think the direction of this movie actually brings it down a peg as I think the story and the cast are what make it appealing. For example the typography in the intro is awful; the ending too fails to do anything but drag out the closing to the story.

It’s the story of this deep seeded cultural barrier between the rich kid Socialites and the poor impoverished Greasers that drives the film. The greasers with their leather jackets, switchblades, and greasy hair are the rough guys that bring down society by always causing trouble. The Socs aren’t much better however. These rich kids dress better but they like to get loaded on booze and cruise the bad part of town looking for trouble. When the two sides come together bad things are bound to happen.

The cast of this movie is its greatest strength because it is an interesting thing to look back on. The group of young actors that were cast in the movie would all have their moment in the sun, although some went quicker than they probably would have liked. Ralph Macchio never really did anything after the 80s, and C. Thomas Howell did little after a promising start to his career with films like this one and Red DawnEmilio Estevez would hang on to stardom through part of the nineties but is practically forgotten these days as his famous family members continue to prosper. Patrick Swayze, may he rest in peace, is such a silly actor. I have always thought he was just awful in just about everything and this movie is no different. This was actually one of his first big roles. He looks the part true enough but regardless how good the man might look on screen he has just never been worth a damn as an actor.

This was also one of the first roles for Tom Cruise who would go on to be one of the biggest actors in the business. Even today, over 30 years later, he has yet to slow down as an actor, or even age for that matter. Rob Lowe also has to be considered a big time star today. I do not know why though. I detest him as an actor because I think he ruins EVERYTHING. I used to be a big fan of Parks & Recreation until he showed up and his stupid character just ruined the whole thing for me. As far as I’m concerned, the only time he didn’t suck was in Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me. Diane Lane also had one of her earliest roles in this movie. She would go on to just get hotter and hotter for the next twenty years. It hurts my heart a bit to see her in roles as the older woman now, such as we saw in Man of Steel. However, she is still hotter than any woman her age has any business being and hats off to her.

My favorite role in this movie goes to a guy that can only be described as hit or miss throughout his entire career. I have always liked Matt Dillon in this movie the best. He is the toughest of the tough kids and in his youth you would have thought he would go on to be bigger than all his peers. Sadly that wasn’t the case but he still has plenty to be proud of with what he has accomplished in his career.

I’ve stumbled through this review a bit and still said little of any significance. I like this movie and think it is interesting to watch in hindsight. I think among all the crap its unseemly famous director has made it stands out among the rest. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and I think this movie is easily worth your time to see. I think though, if you want more insight to the film you are bound to find a better review from someone more invested in this movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Passenger 57 (1992)

Minority Report

Year: 2002
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Phillip K. Dick (short story), Scott Frank and Jon Cohen (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is the only movie about the future that I look at and think “that’s what it’s going to be like.”  I don’t know about psychic pre-cogs who can detect crime before it happens but everything else looks legit. The computer operation, eye scanners, personalized marketing, vehicle models, and so much else that we see in the background of the film I think will hold true in 2054.  It’s hard to say really but I think as that year approaches this film will look more like a vision of the future than say Back to the Future II’2015.  Where the hell are our hover board Robert Zemeckis? Aside from being an interesting vision of the future this movie is a fast paced thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat till the end.  It offers some surprisingly outstanding performances from a director who simply makes hit after hit after hit.  In truth this movie is way down the totem pole for great films from Spielberg, but the man has made so many incredible movies it’s hard to get to the top.

Every time I get the opportunity to discuss Steven Spielberg I feel like I can’t say enough about how incredible he is.  This time around is no different.  The man has shown such growth as a filmmaker and he has never stopped getting better at what he does.  For this movie he rolled up his sleeves and did his research.  He didn’t just want to make any other vision of the future with this film but a more accurate picture of what the world would be like.  He met with specific people in a variety of fields and discussed with them where their business was going in the future. This is specifically why I think that in 40 years the world will look pretty close to what we see in this movie.  I just believe that much in Spielberg.  Not only was this film influenced by the information he gathered in his research but this film has over time influenced society itself.  It’s no secret that science fiction films have been influencing technological developments for decades now but this film specifically has been cited as an influence in new emerging technology today.  If you want specific examples feel free to read about it yourself on the film’s Wikipedia page.

Aside from the film’s vision of the future there is always one other specific thing that comes to mind when I think of this movie.  This too I credit Steven Spielberg for and his ability as a director, because otherwise I can’t figure out any other explanation for it.  What I’m talking about is the performance of Colin Farrell. I think he is incredible in this film, and I just can’t figure it out for the life of me.  How can the guy be so damn good in this movie and so widely suck in his career beyond this?  I’ve been seeing this guy in films for a long time now. I know him to specifically blow as an actor.  I have never been able to get over his God awful performance as Alexander back in 2004.  How is it that Oliver Stone, a director that made Charlie Sheen look great in the 80s, fail to get a good performance out of him when Spielberg did so great? It’s always puzzled me but at the same time only makes me appreciate Spielberg more. Somehow he has to be responsible because I sure as hell am not going to give credit to Farrell.  So, for the record, Colin Farrell blows but in this film he is awesome.

I don’t see the point in discussing Cruise.  He is in this film and he is doing his thing.  Probably just to spite haters like me he is a total professional all the way and turns in another killer performance to add to a killer career.  It’s peculiar that you can look at him in this movie and see no noticeable difference in his appearance 12 years later but I’ve discussed that before.  As a hater of this guy I have to admit that he really doesn’t have many flaws in his trade.  He is an outstanding actor and has made a significant career worth being proud of.  I like Max Von Sydow being the real bad guy once everything is figured out.  How did this surprise anyone?  When Emperor Ming it at the top of the hierarchy his hands are bound to be dirty. I like the short part played by Peter Stormare, always great to see him in anything.  Also in small roles Tim Blake Nelson and Neal McDonough add their talents to the cast.

This movie was based on a short story of the same name written by Phillip K. Dick.  I haven’t read it but I have read two Dick books recently and wanted to discuss him a bit.  Dick has been the influence behind a few science fiction films and is significant because one of them is considered one of the greatest of all time.  Blade Runner was based on a book by Dick called “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” I read that book recently and found it very interesting.  He also wrote the story that inspired Total Recall, and its remake twenty years later.  Dick was an author far and away ahead of his time.  He wasn’t right about plenty of things but was clever enough to give visions of the future that left a clear impression on his readers.  I also recently read The Man in the High Castle” which has been talked about being adapted into a film since it came out.  The book is about an alternate reality in the United States in 1962 where everything was different because we lost the war to the Axis powers 20 years prior.  In the book the US is divided into three regions where the Japanese rule the Pacific States of America, the Nazis run the Eastern states, and there is a neutral zone in middle America loosely run by a coalition of the two. A fascinating and frightening book that I really enjoyed reading and would recommend to any person with interest in the topic.

Back to the topic at hand, this film is a great example of a great director and a great actor adding another notch to their belts.  They showed up for work and collaborated to create something awesome.  They both continue to make great films and have been doing so for as long as I have been alive, it’s nice to see them get together to do it.  It’s hard to believe that 12 years has passed since this film came out.  Spielberg has reached a point in his career where he can do anything he wants now.  He is in his later 60s now but he isn’t too old to blow us away with his talent and his career will continue to be interesting to follow.  Cruise on the other hand seems to be standing in some different realm where time stands still and we only see him by happenstance.  Any day now that man is going to become an old man and the world will be so weird then.  I imagine there are a lot of older people out there who look at Tom Cruise and just don’t accept the reality of their age.  They see him looking just like he always did and in their disillusion minds they have what Morpheus would call a “residual self image” of themselves still as lively as they were in the 80s.  That’s all part of why I don’t like Cruise; the guy is a hell of an actor but he is screwing with the small minds of people everywhere with his ability to defy time.

When it comes to science fiction films this one is as good as they get and that doesn’t belittle the genre but enriches it.  This movie is interesting and exciting.  It will draw you in with a fantastic vision of the future and keep you on the edge of your seat with action sequences that will have you biting your nails off. This one is easy to recommend because it is awesome.  This movie is worth your time to see it and if you get the opportunity you won’t be disappointed.

 

AMBER’S REVIEW

I always really like watching this movie. It’s an interesting take on how the future will run. It has been really impressive to watch this movie over the years, and to see how close we actually are to a lot of these technologies. Technology and science have always intrigued me. I also love that they did research of true future technologies and incorporated them into the film. I think that’s the best way to make a movie about the future. We can actually watch it evolve over time and see that some movie called it first.

mreport

Having said all of that above, you would think maybe the poster could also be a little advanced. But, no. It looks like that. How boring is this poster? Tom Cruise in an “action pose?” To me he looks a little more like he may have a stomach ache and is doubling over. I can’t even tell what is going on in the background. The typography is completely bored and had barely if any thought put into it. It also looks like they stretched it out across the top. I could be wrong, there might very well be an expanded version. I hate this poster. I can’t even fathom the idea of someone getting paid for crap like this.

NEXT MOVIE: Mississippi Burning

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 Last Samurai

Year: 2003
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Written By: John Logan, Edward Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz

RYAN’S REVIEW

For the second film in a row we have a movie about the last member of a dying culture, starring a white man.  The titles of the films and casting make great fodder for comedians but I do think both movies are great. When this film came out I specifically remember seeing Paul Mooney talking about this movie, his punchline was that he was going to make a movie called “The Last N**** on Earth” starring Tom Hanks.  In fact, with this movie much more than The Last of the Mohicans I hear people making jokes to that affect.  I think that has more to do with what people think about Tom Cruise than it does the actual movie though.  This is an epic movie and I am usually a fan of them when they offer such incredible battle scenes.  I love the portrayal of Japanese culture in this movie and love the specific time in history it covers. The invention of the gun changed warfare forever.  It was the end of the warrior and the ascension of the soldier.  There is a great History Channel special on the subject in the special features of the DVD. I think this film is a glowing example of what westernization can do to foreign cultures, and how in the end greed always wins no matter what is right.

I think Edward Zwick is a very talented director and specifically good at these period pieces.  I like his portrayal of other cultures and think he does an exceptional job of educating his viewers about them. I for one am not overly familiar with Japanese culture but fell in love with this films portrayal of it and hope that it is accurate. I think the character of Nathan Algren has an incredible transition that I have always admired.  He is very much the American man. A good man in truth, but haunted by his experiences and flawed with arrogance.  He is proud, as any heroic American should be, but he has lost his way.  Living with this foreign culture he grows to appreciate and eventually love it. Learning to appreciate this unfamiliar culture he finds a way to live with himself again. He learns to believe in something and he learns that there is more to the world, it’s a realization that humbles him.  There is nothing more riveting to me personally than to see a character in a movie humbled and for that character to learn from the experience to go on and redeem himself. It’s an incredible thing really, and I think the Algren character does it as well as any I have ever seen.

I am and always have been a sucker for a great battle scene.  I sincerely think this movie offers some of the greatest I have ever seen.  Not only are there guns but there is plenty of sword fighting, and sword fighting is always cooler. The Samurai were cool in so many ways, but there is one thing nobody can ever take away from them and that is their bitchin armor.  These guys are scary looking and they are attacking with a dizzying array of weapons with a speed that is unbelievable.  It’s shameful how they are gunned down in the end.  It was a coward that stood behind that gun giving the order.  A coward that sat on a pile of money and was motivated by greed more than anything else.  Not even half the man that any one of those riding after him were but it didn’t matter with the kind of weapons he had at his disposal.  He may be shamed in the end but he still won. and his winning cost the lives of so many incredible people.  He does lose when all is said in done, but only after winning and taking far too much in doing so. As much as what happened sucked, there really is nothing more heroic or powerful then seeing men ride to their death.  Knowing there is no hope but choosing to go anyway because you believe in something so greatly; it’s an inspiring thing to watch. It’s even more inspiring to see the Japanese soldiers bow down to them in the end.  These men were part of their heritage but they had become blinded and done something unspeakable in the name of expansion.  Their show of respect in the end is very moving.  It is a great way to cap one of the best battle scenes I have ever seen.

I think the character of Nathan Algren was incredible and very well written.  I think there are probably many great actors who could have pulled off the role with varying differences.  Yet Tom Cruise played the part and he did an incredible job.  I have said time and time again that I am no fan of Cruise but I thought he gave an incredible performance in this film. I think it is a bit much that Tom Cruise is the man to change Japan in the end of the movie but what are you gonna do? Sometimes you have to accept something ridiculous in light of so much that was great.  Ken Watanabe is really the greatest actor of the film.  I think Watanabe has been great in everything I have seen him in, he has a great voice and pulls off badass really easily.  As Katsumoto he was incredible and I think he was robbed of the Academy Award that year.  He was nominated but lost to Tim Robbins for his performance in Mystic River. It’s a shame but regardless I think his performance was one to remember.

This is a movie that I felt I learned from and it has lesson I do my very best to carry with me everyday.  The lesson I take from it is to not judge other cultures.  We see the Americans in this movie completely disregard the Samurai, referring to them as savages with bows and arrows.  Yet there is so much more to these people than meets the passing eye of an arrogant nation.  Algren learns that because he had no other choice but to take the time to do so.  Had Algren not been captured he might have just as easily continued seeing them as savage people but when he is held in captivity he has nothing to do but study the people holding him.  I think we all have the capacity to judge people we don’t understand in this way and far too often we fall victim to that judgement.  We won’t all have the opportunity to see what Algren saw beneath the surface, but we should all be aware that there is always more than meets the eye.  Foreign cultures always seem confusing and aloof to people who don’t know any better and too often those people have no interest in knowing any better.  I think the kind of arrogance that leads people to be judgmental is shameful.  I do my very best at all times not to be that kind of person and this is one of the many movies that taught me that. Another lesson, one I’ve also taken from several movies, is the danger and shameful nature of arrogance.  We all fall victim to it now and again but it does us no good in any facet of life.

This movie can be easily dismissed because the title and leading star can make it seem ridiculous but I am telling now that isn’t the case here.  This is a rich and beautiful movie with plenty to appreciate about it.  I love this movie as I love any movie I feel I learn from. Aside from all of that is the great action the movie has to offer, the battle in the end is epic and emotionally moving.  Having said all of that I think this movie is without doubt worth your time to see it and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

AMBER’S REVIEW

O, yay. Another last of something that isn’t even the something. I think you guys know my stance on these types of movies already, and if you don’t please read The Last of the Mohicans. I am not going to go and elaborate again on how stupid it is to have a movie where a white guy is the last of something he can’t possibly be the last of. So sorry Tom Cruise…you can’t be the last samurai! You. are. from. New. York

The-Last-Samurai-character-poster-3

Oh my god. Are you serious? Let’s just kern the shit out of the top billing so it stretches across the entire top. And let’s be lazy as possible and just center the typography, and cheese it up by putting a chinese symbol behind it. I understand you have to put Tom Cruise on the front, and there isn’t anything wrong with it, but do you see my point? He can’t be the last samurai  GAH, SMH.

NEXT MOVIE: Layer Cake (2004)

Jack Reacher

I usually review Tom Cruise movies and go on and on about how much I despise him but how good he is as an actor.  I usually really like his movies despite what I think about him but last night we watched Jack Reacher. We were looking for something to watch and I suggested it to Amber, the conversation went like this:

“What’s it about?”

“It’s another Tom Cruise super spy movie” (Not necessarily true but close enough right?)

“Sure, why not.”

Having now suffered through two hours of this movie I can report that it was a swing and a miss for Cruise.  I thought this movie was ridiculous from beginning to end and wish I could get back the time and money I spent to see it. I figured if he was playing this type of character again there had to be something that he saw in it to make it worth wild.  Cruise usually chooses his films carefully and doesn’t make too many mistakes in those choices but he really dropped the ball this time around.

Here’s an open ended message specifically to Tom Cruise.  “When the woman asks you to put your shirt on just get over yourself and put a freaking shirt on man!” I thought that scene was particularly ridiculous.  Who is this guy trying to impress with his aging fitness? Yeah we get it Tom; you don’t age and are bold enough to go shirtless when no one else your age will dare to do so but nobody is impressed anymore. Maybe he is just milking the last of his youthful appearance before it is gone, I don’t know.  The guy really can’t keep up this look for much longer though, white people simply aren’t that fortunate when it comes to aging and he is past 50 now.  Sooner or later he will get wrinkles that not even his cult voodoo or Botox will fix and maybe then we won’t be accosted by his freakishly unnatural and weird looking build anymore.

I thought this whole movie was a bit much and I thought Tom Cruise was trying too hard to be the cool and witty action star that he usually pulls off with ease.  I was at my wits end by the end of the movie though.  That climax is ridiculous.  Cruise gets the drop on the badass he has been chasing the whole movie then stares him down for a moment in the rain before throwing his gun away.  I just found this to be a bit too stupid.  Yeah the fight scene makes for a better movie in which not enough happened but it’s just so campy how it all happens.  He has this guy dead to rights and his options are all open.  He can kill him easily, arrest him, or even just wing him and go on to the big boss but noooo Cruise has to have his moment as a badass.  Ignoring all practical decisions he throws his gun away and decided to just fist fight with the evil henchman, in the rain. Rain during a fight scene is just such a cliché effect in movies like this now and at this point in the film I felt the stupidity was just piling on.  Cruise beats the hell out of the bad guy, go figure, and at that point I just flat out didn’t care what happened anymore.

This was a really stupid movie, and that pretty much sums it up.  If you happened to like it then by all means make your argument with a comment and convince me I am wrong. If you haven’t seen it yet then take my advice and save yourself the time and money that will just be wasted.  There are a couple of cool fight scenes in the movie and a relatively good car chase scene but otherwise you won’t be missing much.