Hey everyone and thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve really had an interest in creating a blog over the past few months but I don’t think I’m very good at articulating the random crap that happens in my life (and quite frankly I doubt many people would really care). So I knew I needed to focus on something that I enjoyed but could also get the readers to give their two cents on and since I’ve always loved movies I figured that would be my topic. The format of this blog will probably change somewhat over the next few months, assuming people read it. For now it will just be random movie reviews, whatever I happen to get on Netflix or go see in the theaters. In the future, though, I may put polls up to see what people would like me to review. I’m totally open for any suggestions you all may have and please feel free to comment on reviews or start up discussions about how you felt about the movie. Well, here we go…..

Monday, September 20, 2010

Raging Bull

Jake and Joey
On the outside, ‘Raging Bull’ appears to be a movie about boxing, at least that’s what I always thought, but it offers a much deeper story that really draws you in. ‘Raging Bull’ is about a man named Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro), a rising star in boxing in the 1940’s trying to work his way to getting a shot at the middleweight title. Jake is a very angry man who doesn’t seem to be able to connect with people on any meaningful level, even his relationship with his brother/manager Joey (Joe Pesci) seems tense most of the time. People are nothing but objects to Jake, the fact that he is married doesn’t stop him from courting a young girl, Vickie, whom he eventually marries after he gets rid of his current wife. Once married, Jake treats Vickie as nothing more than a servant to him. She should be doing nothing but taking care of him and thinking about him and anything he perceives as her not being 100% committed to him sends him into jealous rages.

Jake is more like an animal inside and out of the boxing ring, reacting on impulse rather than thinking things through. He doesn’t seem to have any objection to throwing a boxing match because it will get him one step closer to the title. He’s constantly accusing his wife of thinking about other men or doing things behind his back without any evidence. He beats Joey up in front of his family after his wife sarcastically told him she slept with him. These impulses lead to the dissolution of any relationship he’s had which results in him being an angrier and more depressed person. But Jake can’t seem to see, until later in the movie, that he is the cause of his own anger and depression, that he’s holding himself back professionally and personally.

Eventually, Jake does realize that he has done a lot of wrong in his life and his way of making up for that is by letting one of his boxing rivals hit him, but this doesn’t really change him. Jake goes through tough times after he retires, his wife divorces him, he’s thrown in jail and he begins a stand up comedy career in clubs that seem to get worse and worse. By the end of the movie when Jake is standing in front of a mirror practicing boxing moves and saying ‘I’m the boss’, we’re not really sure if he has changed.

I really enjoyed ‘Raging Bull’, much more than I expected. The movie really draws you in because you’re never quite sure how Jake will react to any given situation. He may punch somebody, he may cry, he may laugh, it’s a constant roller-coaster with him. It’s sad to see him bring about his own problems which eventually ruin him but it’s hard to sympathize with him because he seems so blind.

Score: 8 out of 10

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive’ is a head trip.  I remember thinking to myself that this movie feels like 4 different good stories that the writers just couldn’t finish.  So, instead of trying to complete the scripts, the writers just combined them into one long movie that just didn’t seem to fit together.  What’s interesting about ‘Mulholland Drive’ is that you’re supposed to feel this way, it isn’t supposed to make sense. 

The movie starts out with a woman in a limo being taken somewhere.  The limo makes an unexpected stop and the driver asks the woman to get out of the car, as she is getting out the limo is struck by a car racing down the street.  The woman manages to survive but has amnesia and sneaks into an empty house.  This empty house is where Betty (Naomi Watts) is headed.  It’s her aunts house and she is going to stay there while he aunt is out of town, plus she gets the chance to audition for some movie roles since her aunts house is in Hollywood.  Betty arrives to find the strange woman, who calls herself Rita because she can’t remember her name, showering in her aunt’s house.  Betty eventually gets Rita to confess that she doesn’t remember anything and Betty decides to help her piece her story together - who she is, what happened, etc. 

Want to hear the funny part?  What I described doesn’t really have anything to do with what the movie is about.  Everything I described is what the main character, whose real name is Diane (we think), is dreaming.  There is no real plot to this movie, it’s basically just a conglomeration of scenes with no real direction.  And just when you think those 4 stories I talked about are starting to come together, another scene is thrown in that blows the whole thing up.  Characters switch roles, people aren’t who you thought they were, most of the scenes didn’t really happen, maybe some of the characters never existed.  Confused yet?  Well, try watching the movie and see how you feel then. 

I get the feeling that most people who have watched this movie said they hated it.  People tend not to like movies that aren’t wrapped up in a neat little package at the end.  The fact is, ‘Mulholland Drive’ is a dream.  Dreams generally don’t make sense - they’re either totally off the wall or details are missing.  You wake up knowing you had a dream and vaguely know what happened in that dream, but can’t describe what that dream was about.  ‘Mulholland Drive’ captures that feeling perfectly.

Just a note to anyone who is going to watch the movie:  the acting throughout most of the movie is bad on purpose, so don’t turn it off half way through because of it.  Anyone who has already seen the movie probably knows what I’m talking about.

Score: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


You'd look like that if you were locked up for 15 years too

‘Oldboy’ starts out with a man named Oh Dae-su being locked up for drunk and disorderly conduct.  Eventually, he is bailed out by his friend who then decides to use a payphone to call Oh Dae-su’s wife and daughter, whose birthday he is missing because he was in jail.  While at the payphone, Oh Dae-su is kidnapped and locked in a small room with only a bathroom, bed, and tv for 15 years.  He is fed fried dumplings for every meal and every so often is gassed, only to wake up and find his room has been cleaned, his clothes changed, and he’s been given a haircut.  As his years of confinement add up, Oh Dae-su’s desire for revenge against those responsible grows.  He begins training in his room, mostly by punching the walls, and starts carving into the walls in an attempt to dig his way out.  Eventually, and for seemingly no reason, Oh Dae-su is set free and given a wallet full of cash and cell phone.  He eventually meets a sushi chef name Mido and receives a call from the man who captured him giving him 5 days to determine why he was captured.  Mido brings him to her house, after a weird scene in which Oh Dae-su eats a live squid and then passes out, and begins forming a relationship with him.  This sets in motion the crazy revenge tale that is ‘Oldboy’.

The description above only covers about the first 45 minutes or so of the movie.  But to continue describing it would risk giving away some of the plot twists that make this movie memorable.  One thing I really liked about this movie is that, despite the somewhat unrealistic plot in parts, it is actually a very believable movie.  What I mean by that is the characters and the reactions seem like things that would happen in real life.  The extreme joy Oh Dae-su feels when he is released and sees his first person in 15 years, despite the fact the man is trying to jump from a building, is believable.  Oh Dae-su looks as if he is going to kiss the man, but manages to hold it back.  When he gets in fights he, and the people he’s fighting, actually get tired, almost to the point of not being able to fight.  Is it a little bit of a stretch that he fought 10 people at one time?  Maybe, but it shows how desperately he wants to get revenge on the people who did this to him, so much that he could take on 10 people while he has a knife in his back.  He wants to be able to trust someone but any little thing can set him off, especially if he thinks you were involved in his capture.  He’s extremely violent at times, but his situation and state of mind call for it.  Everything he goes through seems completely logical, he’s been locked up to the point of madness for 15 years and his quick, unpredictable, change in emotions reflects that.

The only real negative thing I have to say about this movie is that the dubbing is pretty bad.  I would much rather watch a foreign movie with subtitles than have to sit there and listen to someone do an interpretation of the film.  But, unfortunately, Netflix didn’t give me the option to watch it with subtitles (at least I don’t think so).

This is one of those movies where everything comes together at the end.  You find out why Oh Dae-su was imprisoned.  You find out if Oh Dae-su got his revenge.  You also find out a few more things that I won’t give away but they add a nice twist to story.  If you’ve got Netflix, watch this movie instantly and see what you think and let me know.

Score: 8 out of 10

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Let me preface this review by saying that if you are easily offended by graphic violence or pornographic imagery, then you shouldn’t watch this movie. 

This is going to be a tough review for me because there seems to be lots of metaphors in this movie that I’m not really sure I understood.  Maybe someone more versed in the bible or in cinema would follow it better, but it seems like you could come up with 50 metaphors that all fit for this movie.  But, I’m going to do my best here and tell you what I think this movie was about, whether it’s right or wrong. 

First, ‘Antichrist’ it a title that I think would turn a lot of people away, specifically those who don’t like the horror genre.  I wouldn’t quite classify this as a horror movie, though, despite the fact that there are some scary scenes.  What’s scary about this movie is that it’s all about human nature and the potential evil that lives inside us all, so it’s not entirely unbelievable that these events could occur.

Maybe it would help if I gave a little explanation of what this movie is about.  Our two unnamed characters (credited as ‘He’ and ‘She’ and played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg respectively) open the movie with a pretty explicit sex scene during which their young son climbs out of his crib and falls out an open window to his death.  Is there irony in the fact that their child loses his life while they were performing an act that creates life?  Maybe, or maybe I’m just trying to think about this movie too hard.  Anyway, ‘She’ goes through a long period of extreme depression and grief and ‘He’, being the therapist that he is, decides that her doctors are not helping and that he is the only one that can counsel her through this.  The therapy starts in their home, where she reveals that he has been distant toward herself and their son.  It’s interesting to watch Willem Dafoe’s reaction in this scene because he treats it very much like a therapist would, giving no personal reaction and simply asking why she feels that way.  Eventually, he decides that the in-house therapy was a bad idea and that what she really needs to do is begin facing her fears, which turns out to be their cabin in the woods in a place called Eden.  Some very weird events begin happening when they get to Eden, specifically when ‘He’ encounters a fox disemboweling itself and then speaking the words ‘chaos reigns’.  Somehow, these events don’t get him to think that maybe this place isn’t where his wife needs to be right now, further reinforcing his distantness to his wife.  He seems to be trying to help her, not because he wants her to get better, but because he wants to prove to himself that he is the only one that can help her.  In the meantime, she seems to be getting more crazy and unpredictable, eventually lashing out at him and herself in very violent ways.

The cinematography in this movie is actually very pretty at times, with extreme slow motion shots that bring out some of the colors of the woods, and black and white shots during some of the movies key moments (the opening scene being one of them).  But this is contrasted against some very un-pretty images, the fox, for example, disemboweling itself (which isn’t even close to the most violent part of the movie).  There are interesting camera tricks, mostly involving the woods appearing to warp in interesting ways, and extremely short flashes of things to come, almost like subliminal messages.  This is a movie that makes you want to analyze every little thing to catch the ‘real’ meaning.  But I think that is this movies downfall because you try to make this movie smarter than it is and come out saying “what the hell was that movie about?”  Ultimately, though, I think it’s about the evil that we all have inside us and how traumatic events can warp our view of the world and cause us to do irrational and unspeakable things. 

I can’t say I loved this movie or that I completely understood it, maybe you’re not supposed to completely understand, but I enjoyed it enough that I would recommend people watch it (instantly on Netflix) and see what they get out of it.  Just be aware that you’ll see some things in this movie that you probably don’t want to see; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Score: 6 out of 10

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Do they look a little funny to you?

Do you ever really sit back and think about how the future might be?  How much will technology advance in the next 50 years or so?  ‘Surrogates’ gives us a glimpse of what the future might be like, but ultimately fails to impress.

In ‘Surrogates’, most people have robots (surrogates) that are their exact twins.  People can lie in a little bed, hook some sensors to their head, and have complete control over their surrogate.  Everyone seems to live their everyday lives through these surrogates; they go to work, hang out with friends, and drive around like normal people.  You can be whoever you want to be.  Are you 45 and 100 pounds overweight?  Just buy a surrogate that looks like a 25 year old supermodel and go have a good time.  Even better, crime is almost non-existent because killing a surrogate doesn’t kill the actual owner….until now.  Yep, someone created a weapon that can kill the surrogate and the operator at the same time and Bruce Willis gets the job of getting the weapon out of the hands of the bad guys. 

Honestly, there’s not much that I really liked about this movie.  The story seems choppy – one minute Bruce Willis is chasing a guy through the streets and the next he’s at his wife’s beauty shop talking about why their marriage is falling apart.  The special effects are pretty crappy, borderline sci-fi channel at times.  And I can’t really say I cared about any of the characters.  Finding out who created the weapon and why just didn’t really interest me that much.  All that said, there are a few things I liked in this movie.  There is a weird effect they give the surrogates so that you can tell who is a surrogate and who is a regular person.  Surrogates seem to have little emotion in their face, they walk and sit very rigidly, and their skin has a very Ken Doll look to it.  I liked the idea that the technology hasn’t been perfected yet, that there is something to humanity that hasn’t been totally replicated and may never be.

For such an interesting concept, it’s too bad that this movie couldn’t have been better.  We’re really not that far away from having something like surrogate technology be available to everyone.  I’m just going to have to wait for a good movie that can really dig into some of the ethical questions that this type of technology could bring up.

Score: 3.5 out of 10

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Taxi Driver

'You talkin' to me?'  Yeah, that's from Taxi Driver

I think my expectations for this movie were way too high.  ‘Taxi Driver’ was one of those movies that I thought of as a classic, heard so many good things about, and noticed a 98% rating on rottentomatoes.com.  So I just assumed that I would watch the movie, be thrilled by every second of it, and give it a 10 in my review.  Well, this movie isn’t going to get a 10, not even close.

Robert DeNiro plays Travis Bickle, a new taxi driver in the city of New York.  Travis can best be described as a lonely guy, he doesn’t really seem to fit anywhere in the grand scheme of things.  I get the feeling that Travis thinks he’s more than just a normal guy, that everyone should notice him but for some reason they don’t.  Travis works the late shift, roughly 6 pm to 6 am, and gets to see all the scum that New York has to offer.  But, like all of us, Travis does his job and tries not to let it get to him.  Travis comes into contact with two women in this movie who have a major impact on his life.  The first is Betsy who works at campaign headquarters for presidential hopeful Charles Palantine.  Travis takes her out for coffee one afternoon and she actually seems to like him….that is until the second date when he takes her to a porno theater.  She doesn’t talk to him anymore after that.  The second is Iris (Jodie Foster), a 12 year old prostitute whom Travis feels the need to save.

There is a transformation in Travis at some point in this movie where he decides he wants to kill some people.  I can pinpoint the scene where the transformation seems to happen but I can’t really tell you why it happens.  In case you’re wondering, the scene I’m referring to is when Travis picks up a guy (Martin Scorsese) who claims he’s going to kill his wife because she’s cheating on him.  Anyway, Travis buys a bunch of guns and tries to kill senator Palantine but fails.  So instead he decides to go kill Iris’ pimp and the people associated with her becoming a prostitute.  Travis has a big shootout with the guys, gets shot in the neck and seems like he’s about to die as the scene ends.  Well, he doesn’t, in fact he is glorified in the newspapers for being the one who helped Iris to get back to her family and took some bad guys out in the process.  It would seem that Travis finally got what he always wanted, which was to be noticed.

I think the thing that bugged me about ‘Taxi Driver’ was that I never really understood why Travis decided he needed to kill these people.  Was it his rejection by Betsy that set him off?  Was he sick and tired of the lowlifes he had to drive around at night?  Was he really that obsessed with being noticed that he had to go to such an extreme?  I just don’t know.  All I know is I’m going to try and keep my expectations low for the next “classic” I watch, maybe I’ll get better results.

Feel free to give me your opinions on this one.  There must be some reason why everyone thinks this movie is so good.

Score: 6 out of 10

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Vicious Kind

Adam Scott as Caleb

 ‘The Vicious Kind’ was a movie I just happened to come across on Netflix.  I noticed the cover had an actor from a tv show I liked, so I thought I would give it a shot and see how he was in regular movies. 

‘The Vicious Kind’ is about Caleb, a severely depressed guy who has a terrible view of women and major issues with his dad, who he hasn’t talked to since his mother died 8 years ago.  Caleb has to bring his brother, Peter, and Peter’s new girlfriend, Emma, to his dad’s house for Thanksgiving and along the way we see just how miserable Caleb is.  In fact, the very first shot of the movie is a shot of Caleb on the verge of tears trying so hard to hold everything together.  At first we’re not really sure why Caleb is so sad and angry but we soon find out that Caleb had a bad breakup with his girlfriend, the reason for the breakup is never revealed but it must have been pretty bad.  In the short flashbacks we see of Caleb’s ex-girlfriend it’s hard not to notice that Peter’s new girlfriend closely resembles her.  Needless to say, Caleb starts to have feelings for Emma as he gets to know her but doesn’t want to do anything to hurt his brother.  Actually, Caleb warns his brother numerous times to watch out for Emma because he feels she has a reputation and will probably break his heart.  But as Caleb’s lust for Emma grows, his protection of his brother becomes selfishness for his own desires.

As much as this review has focused on Caleb’s relationship with Emma, I don’t think that’s what this movie is really “about”.  Caleb is realizing that as much as he hates his dad for things he has done in his past, he is becoming his dad.  ‘The Vicious Kind’ really boils down to reconciliation and the paths you take to get there.  It’s very interesting that Caleb hurts his brother, on what amounts to a one night stand, but inadvertently starts rebuilding his relationship with his father because of it.

I don’t watch too many independent films but this movie makes me want to start watching more.  The acting is spot on with Adam Scott as Caleb, Brittany Snow as Emma, and J.K. Simmons as Caleb’s father.  Adam Scott does a great job portraying the transformation Caleb has from being the depressed, asshole brother to the sensitive, vulnerable son.  If you have Netflix, put this movie in your instant queue, if not then try and rent it somewhere, it’s definitely worth watching.

Score: 7.5 out of 10