Posts Tagged ‘Movie Review Monday’
Last Sunday my lady and I saw Shutter Island, then last night we saw Alice in Wonderland. So you all are lucky enough to get a double Movie Review Monday on a Saturday. I’ll start with Shutter Island since we saw it first.
Shutter Island is based on a book by Denis Lahane, who also wrote Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River. If you didn’t know, it was directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who have become fast friends, as damaged detective Teddy Daniels. Mark Ruffalo plays Teddy’s partner Chuck. Ben Kingsley is the creepy head psychiatrist Dr. Cawley. Michelle Williams plays Teddy’s wife Dolores.
Leo’s gotten some guff for (more…)
It has been a while since I went to this movie, and it has been even longer since I did a movie review, so take it easy on me.
Here is the story: Walt Kowalski,an old, lonely, racist, retired autoworker, veteran of the Korean War, enforces a “get off my lawn/property” rule. He also sticks up for his teenage neighbors. This leads to Walt befriending a Hmong (Southeast Asian) family. Walt’s family is questionable. His wife died and his sons and their families seem only interested in him when they need something. Their children are spoiled and disrespectful. It might be Walt’s fault for being cold, but he is not close with them. There is a priest that was close with his wife who discusses issues like death with Walt. A gang does some bad things. That is the general outline without ruining the ending.
The main focus is on Walt’s relationship with the youngsters of the Hmong family that live next door. Walt helps Sue (ably played by Ahney Her) when she is harassed by three black teenagers. She then talks him into going to a party at their house by the Sue. Soon after being there, Walt realizes he has more in common with their community than he does with his own family. They are generally old school, like he is.
Thao is Sue’s brother, and his cousin attempts to get him to join their gang. His initiation is to steal Walt’s 1972 Gran Torino from his garage. Walt chases him out but does not see him. Thao’s family punishes him by forcing him to apologize to and work for Walt. During the time he is forced to work for Walt, they develop a relationship. There is no man in Thao’s house, and Walt seems to like shaping him into a man. He even gets him a job. The gang gives Thao more problems, and Walt sticks up for him. The rift eventually leads to some heinous actions by the gang that Walt must deal with.
When he is with his neighbors, you get the feeling that Walt is as happy as he has ever been. Walt is a racist, but you see that sort of fading as the movie progresses. In the beginning, he sees his neighborhood as being invaded. Anyone not like him can be reduced to an offensive word. But as he befriends the Hmong family, the words soften and lose their edge. He somehow turns the offensive term “gook” into a term of endearment by the end of the movie.
Some people complained that it was out of character for Walt to befriend this family, but I thought the was the movie. He suffered a terrible loss, was lonely, realized he is not going to live forever, found out the Hmong people next door were pretty great, and developed. That’s what a character should do. I think the point is that his character had been through enough in a short period of time that it changed him. If the main character stayed exactly the same the whole movie what would be the point?
Clint Eastwood is awesome. It’s like the role was written for him. Eastwood’s aged face seems able to produce more anger and emotion than ever. When his face starts trembling, you honestly think people are going to get hurt, even if it is his son.
Having said that, the supporting cast was not always as excellent. At times the acting around Clint was pretty awful. Christopher Carley was a bright spot as the young Father Janovich. Father Janovich’s interactions with Walt were all excellent.
Some of the most memorable parts of Gran Torino are Dirty Harry-type Eastwood moments, when he is intimidating and fearless. While they are fun and great to watch, seeing Walt actually care about the Hmong family next door and help them out was what made the movie. It is apparent in the ending that Eastwood wanted more than a hardass from this character, and the movie was better for it.
Rating: Go see it if you haven’t yet. If you have seen it, see it again.
Enjoy the show.
I was unsure whether or not I wanted to see this movie, then I found out two of the writers were David Wain, co-writer of Wet Hot American Summer, and Paul Rudd (among others). If you haven’t seen Wet Hot American Summer, you really should.
I am normally skeptical of Seann William Scott, but he is not that bad. I have been unfair to him. He was a great choice to be along Rudd in this film because they have such different styles. Rudd is just hilarious. This role is somewhat similar to his in 40 Year Old Virgin, at least the depressed part. But Rudd’s depression is funny enough that it makes everyone else happier. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin’) is also great. He plays a fantasy-loving awkward kid (which doesn’t seem like much of a stretch). Bobb’e J. Thompson was also very funny. He will grab your attention from his first moments on screen.
The jokes aren’t all that new, but they are still funny. Actors with smaller roles keep the movie rolling where it could die. Jane Lynch (tall blonde from 40 Year Old Virgin) was really funny in an incredibly creepy way. I thought some of the funniest parts of the movie were done by Joe Lo Truglio (Creepy guy from Superbad and the Messin’ with Sasquatch commercials). He didn’t have a huge part, but I laughed every time he opened his mouth. I hope he keeps popping up in movies.
You will be able to guess the turn for the worse as well as the ending, but it will still entertain you. I enjoyed myself and laughed pretty hard through most of this movie. It is rated ‘R’ for a reason, in case that matters to you. Paul Rudd should be in more movies. The man is handsome and can be funny just by looking at the camera without expression.
Rating: See it in theaters while the little ones see Madagascar 2.
Enjoy Messin’ with Sasquatch commercials.
Oh, Hope, stick around for a while,
I did not go to a movie last night because I was on the long road from Lincoln, NE to Groton, SD. Since I missed one last night, I am going to write about a movie I saw a couple of weeks ago: Appaloosa.
I really enjoyed it. I thought the characters played by Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen were excellent. You could tell they really understood and trusted one another without them being to obvious about it. There were some classic moments between the two of them. Without giving away too much, a woman cannot come between them.
The plot is not too far from a lot of westerns: Bad guys do bad things, new sheriff comes to town, new sheriff institutes some changes that the bad guys will not like. There is also a woman (played by Renee Zellweger). I liked the character because she seemed real. Amanda disliked her because she was not the most upstanding. Carrie disliked her because her backstory was lacking. They both have a point. I think the main character flaw (what Amanda said) she shows is an understandable one for a woman alone in that environment. It is almost a survival mechanism.
There isn’t as much action as some people would probably hope, but I thought the surprising amount of laughs made up for it. When there is action, it happens pretty quickly.
It has been some time since I saw the movie, but I remember being pleased. I thought Harris and Mortensen were awesome together. But it isn’t a movie I am going to rush out and buy as soon as it is available one DVD, which reminds me…
Rent it as soon as it comes out on DVD.
Enjoy an amazing Redskins comeback, ’cause it’s coming.
Always skeptical, never cynical
Every Sunday I take my girlfriend, Amanda, to a movie. (Her father Brian often comes as well. Dude knows movies.) I decided I just as well start letting you know what I thought. This is the first Movie Review Monday.
This weeks move: Pride and Glory
I did not particularly wish to see this movie, but Amanda reminded me that it had Edward Norton, so we went. I really wish I had talked her into catching the 3-D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas that was showing.
This movie is about a family of cops and how they deal with a scandal. This movie takes great pains to remind you that it is a cop movie. There is some alcoholism, a divorce, they’re Irish, they swear a lot, and they spit clichés about protecting their own.
I don’t mind a large amount of bad words in a movie. A lot of my favorites use them quite liberally. But in Pride and Glory the swearing seems to occur because they couldn’t figure out how to write decent dialogue. F’ing is said all the time, and it doesn’t seem natural. It’s just there. During what one assumes they wanted to be an intense moment, the phrase from which the movie gets its title is ruined by the word “f’ing” (pride and f’ing glory, like the word somehow gave it more meaning).
Norton is good, but he could only do so much. There were several side plots that were completely unnecessary that made the movie drag on forever. These little parts of the movie seemed to have no place in it. It runs just over two hours, but it felt like three.
The ending did not make sense to me. It’s not that I didn’t understand what happened, I didn’t understand why it had to happen as it did. There had to be a better way. There was a cool fight, but why? Something with a hostage thrown in. The portion at the end that made the most sense was a riot (portrayed as some form of a race riot), and that isn’t saying much.
Maybe the horrible camera work at the beginning just turned me off to the rest of the movie. It seems like any time there is unconvincing action or emoting, the camera shakes more and more these days. If four cops dying isn’t enough to let you know that something serious is happening, the nausea you feel from the camera work will get the point across.
Perhaps if they hadn’t there was a revelation left for the second half of the movie it would have been better. Maybe they didn’t have to show all the bad guys being absolutely bad from the beginning. At least they could have cut out the little side stories that were irrelevant.
Not everyone may dislike this movie as much as I did, but I thought it was just bad. If you want to see a good cop movie that deals with corruption, rent The Departed. If you own or have already seen it, watch it again and save some money. If you insist on going to the theater, Body of Lies was pretty good. Want to see Norton as a cop? Watch Red Dragon. If you read this and decide to go anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you when at least 12 lines make you cringe (conservative estimate).
Rating: Catch it on cable at 3:00 a.m. in 4 years.
Enjoy something else.
Always skeptical, never cynical
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