Archive for the '3.5' Category

Insidious: Chapter 2

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 4.00 out of 5)
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“Into the Further we go…”

Insidious: Chapter 2

The H-Bomb: Picking up directly where the original Insidious left off, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) has successfully rescued his son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) from that ghostly nether-realm, the Further. However, it seems that they’re not quite out of danger, yet, as just minutes after Dalton awakens from his coma, Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye), the medium who helped the Lambert family save their son, is brutally strangled to death. The police immediately suspect Josh, but the forensics indicate that it was somebody else, so they let him go.

Josh and Renai (Rose Byrne) pack up the family to go stay with Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), as they attempt to put their lives back together. But despite the assurances from Josh that all is well, both Renai and Lorraine can sense that something is very wrong, as they both hear strange noises and encounter ghostly apparitions in the house. Most troubling of all, is what’s happening to Josh. He seems to be aging rapidly, with his hair going gray and his teeth falling out, and he often appears to be talking to himself.

After a few close encounters of the undead kind, Lorraine and Renai, with the help of a new psychic, Carl (Steve Coulter), go digging back into Josh’s past in the hopes of finding out whatever it is that’s haunting them in the present. Soon, the Lamberts come to the terrifying realization that while they may be finished with the Further, the Further is not finished with them.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I went into Insidious: Chapter 2, the follow-up to director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell’s surprise 2011 hit, with unreasonably high expectations. Not only did I think the first Insidious was a fantastically eerie little flick, but I also thought that Wan’s earlier ghost tale from this summer, The Conjuring, was one of the scariest fucking movies I have seen in years. I was really hoping he’d scare the bijesus out of me yet again, but this time, he just didn’t quite pull it off.

I won’t say that I was disappointed with this sequel, because overall I did enjoy the movie, it simply failed to recreate that same creepy magic from the past movies that made my skin crawl and my goosebumps pop. One major problem is that the first twenty minutes are rather slow and clunky as hell. Whereas the first Insidious and The Conjuring both got their creep on right out the gate, this one took quite a while to get going. The reason for this is that this time the plot is much more convoluted, which works both to the movie’s advantage and disadvantage.

This considerably more elaborate scenario harms the film because so much time is spent establishing these new story threads and connecting them all together, that it doesn’t have nearly as much room to create the right kind of atmosphere and really get under our skin. Now, once it gets past this clumsy, unfocused first act, the movie finds its footing and finally turns into one creepy, solid spookfest… it just took a bit too long to get there.

Another big issue I have wth the story, and this may seem obvious to a lot of you, but still, it needs to be addressed, in order to follow Insidious: Chapter 2, you really need to have seen the original. Not only do you have to have seen it, you need to remember it fairly well, so if you only saw the first one once, I strongly advise you to give it another watch it before going into the sequel.

All that out of the way, the multifaceted story that Wan and Whannell have crafted is actually quite interesting. I obviously can’t get into specifics here, but it does what a proper sequel should do in that it expands on the story in ways that reveal more of what’s going on, not only in this movie, but the previous one, as well. This time we find out much more about Josh’s connection to the Further, as well as who exactly that sinister old woman ghost who wants to take over his body is, and we learn more about the Further itself and how that works. The movie also cleverly weaves its narrative into that of the first film in a way in which fans (such as myself) will get a kick out of. All in all, it’s a proper, well thought out, and genuinely surprising continuation of Insidious, instead of just a lazy rehash. It’s nice to see that Wan and Whannell actually gave a shit and put real effort into it.

It’s also nice to see that the returning cast also puts real effort into reprising their roles, with Wilson and Byrne committing one hundred percent emotionally and giving it their all. Special kudos go to Wilson for having to play it much darker this time, often channeling Nicholson from The Shining, and pulling it off exceptionally well. Hershey is given a much larger role here, as we find out more about her character, too, and she handles it like the pro that she is. Whannell and Angus Sampson return as the bickering ghost buster idiots, bringing much needed comic relief, and Shaye puts in a brief but welcome appearance as the cool headed ghost whisperer.

Overall, I can say that even though Insidious: Chapter 2 doesn’t quite reach the same frightening heights of its predecessor, it is in its own right a worthy follow-up. It takes the story in new directions that are intriguing and satisfying, and again, while it’s not consistently scary, it’s not without its share of creepy moments and surprise jolts. Best of all, it finishes up with a possible lead in to Chapter 3, and judging from the amount of cash it’s raked in on its opening weekend alone, it seems as though a third chapter is inevitable.

Lovelace

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 3.00 out of 5)
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Lovelace

Swift shot: What was it like to be “Deep Throat?”  Only Linda Lovelace knows for sure, and this Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman directed biopic based on the novel Ordeal, authored by Lovelace, gives us a glimpse into the burgeoning porn industry of the sex-teeming seventies.  Amanda Seyfried is not afraid to shed her inhibitions, as she shows off her full figure in several scenes throughout the short 92 minute film.  Co-star Peter Sarsgaard is no stranger to sexually graphic scenes, so he was comfortable playing Chuck who helps launch Linda’s “movie career.”  But this isn’t a story about the glitz and glamour of seventies Los Angeles, it’s a story about the literal (and perhaps first) girl-next-door who gets swallowed up by a dark entity and perhaps a darker industry.  Not much has changed, I guess.

Linda is plucked from her parent’s Davie, Florida home by the ever-charming Chuck as he easily puts the moves on the young, attention-starved Linda.  Her parents, played exceptionally well by Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick have self-exiled the family, because Linda put a child up for adoption in New Jersey.  Unable to live with the shame, the entire family resets their lives to accommodate Linda’s sin.  These were different times, so I don’t even know if the less aged audiences will understand the principle of shame, as our society seems to not only accept shameful behavior, but rather nourishes it with shows on MTV that continue to create “stars” out of these lost souls.

Linda’s world quickly revolves around Chuck, as she has to do all manner of things to bail her new husband out of trouble, and eventually, jail.  She is very Catholic; however, so she complies with his requests to help with “their money problems.”  She must serve her husband’s needs.

While this is really a story about a wayward Catholic girl in a marriage she doesn’t understand, and dealing with her out-of-touch mother, what resonated the most, for me, was Robert Patrick’s role, as Linda’s father, John.  He truly loves Linda, and he tries to be there for her, and he doesn’t judge her . .  . but in one scene the true emotion of his pain is incredibly gut-wrenching by Robert Patrick.  I give him the highest of praise for that one scene, and what he was able to do with minor screen time.  Other critics may focus on Sharon Stone, but after Casino, I know what she can do.  Patrick surprised me with his performance.

Of course, this is really the Amanda Seyfried comes out of her shell film, where she shows all her bits and pieces and lets the audience sit back and judge her.  I can’t say I was disappointed, as the emotional shifts in the film were felt in a place I wasn’t expecting . . . my conscience.  As you watch the naked young actress on screen you can’t help but juxtapose Seyfried’s career (and success) compared to Linda’s ultimate “fame” of another variety.

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Debi Mazar as Dolly provides some of the much-needed comic relief, and supporting cast Chris Noth, Hank Azaria and others like Bobby Cannavale did a good job recreating the early 70s where sex was the order of the day and a little film about a specially talented plain girl changed the porn industry forever . . . and thanks to a certain FBI informant, her infamy will never fade.

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The film flips a switch about forty minutes in, as we are shown different cuts of previous scenes and shown a much darker side of the world of abuse and control by Chuck and others.  This is why I said earlier on twitter that the film was brilliantly edited, much like an abused person might only focus on the “good times” and overlook all the bad.  The directors show the stark reality of Linda’s world inside compared to the one she showed the world.  Even Hugh Hefner, played terribly by James Franco, managed to disgust me . . . if Linda’s story in Lovelace is accurate.

This film is the Mommy Dearest of the porn industry, but I didn’t want to say that above the spoiler bar, because I was not expecting that at all . . . having never read Ordeal.

I can also honestly say I have never seen Deep Throat, but now I think I may have to, to understand just how impeccable an actress Linda truly was.  She might not have been a great actress on screen, but she managed to fool the world that she was happy whilst performing all manner of depraved acts with men her husband forced her to endure.

We’re the Millers

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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We' re the Millers

David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is a professional pot dealer.  He has many clients, and he sells only the best stuff.  His business is home-based, and he is pretty content with his life.  However, this professional pot dealer has a soft side.  He’s sociable with Will Poulter (Kenny Rossmore) the lonely 18-year old boy who lives downstairs from him.  When David and Will see a group of guys harassing a homeless girl, Casey Mathis (Emma Roberts), they come to the rescue.  Unfortunately, his good deed backfires on him when the harassing guys rob him of all his money and his product.  Double unfortunate, he owes his boss Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) a lot of money.  To settle the debt, Brad gives him a job – bring back “just a smidge” of product from Mexico, and the debt will be forgiven.

David doesn’t know how to complete this monumental task without getting caught…until he notices a lost family in their RV getting help from a polite and friendly police officer.  Bingo – he needs to assemble people into a fake family, rent an RV, and travel from Mexico across the border with his bounty.  In addition to Will and Casey, he recruits Rose O’Reilly (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper who lives down the hall from David.  David and Rose do not get along, so it’s not all peaches and cream for this “family.”

Once they arrive in Mexico, they obtain their loot and head back across the border to their final destination, Denver, in an RV chock-full of marijuana (apparently, this is “just a smidge” to Brad).  Of course, nothing goes their way, and they hit various obstacles all along the way, including one super-friendly, super-repressed couple, Don and Edie Fitzgerald (Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn) and their daughter Melissa (Molly Quinn).

When they are forced to spend a night camping with the Fitzgeralds, some crazy stuff happens, some of it involving Edie and Rose, some of it involving David and Don, and hilarity ensues when Casey offers to help Will practice kissing, which Rose soon joins in on as David watches.  Yeah, that happens.

Along the way, someone ends up in the hospital after a particularly gruesome spider bite in a VERY uncomfortable area, the “family” is chased by a notorious drug lord, and Rose shows off her stuff to get the family out of a jam.  Since I always see Jennifer Aniston as Rachel on “Friends”, her stripper scenes did nothing for me but others may enjoy.

Overall “We’re the Millers” was sometimes predictable, sometimes original, and always outrageous.  Although it was quite funny and humorous complications ensued, I thought the film went on a bit too long.  With a running time of nearly two hours, it was long for a comedy.  Even though it was a story of a family, this movie is NOT family-friendly.  Leave the kids at home for this one.  Be sure to stick around before and during the credits for some outtakes.  One in particular was delightful and a real blast from the past!!

2 Guns

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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Because two is better than one.

2 Guns

The H-Bomb: Would be drug peddlers Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Stig Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) hatch a scheme to rob a small town bank holding three million dollars that belong to Mexican narcotics kingpin Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos). The overly complicated heist goes down without a hitch, except for one thing, instead of finding three million in cash stashed in the safety deposit boxes, they find that the figure is much closer to 43 million. What’s more, that money doesn’t belong entirely to Greco, but to a much shadier organization operating north of the border.

This shady outfit is represented by Earl (Bill Paxton), a sociopathic, bolo tied shit kicker with a penchant for Russian roulette and a single minded determination to retrieve the stolen cash by any means necessary. As if that isn’t enough, it happens that Bobby and Stig, unbeknownst to each other, are both working undercover for The Man. Bobby is a DEA agent, and Stig works for Navy intelligence. At first, neither one is pleased that they were being played by the other, but as Greco, and Earl, and some corrupt folks from their own side, all come gunning for that 43 million, Bobby and Stig decide it’s probably in their best interest to set their petty jurisdictional bullshit aside and work together if they’re going to stand any chance of escaping this colossal cluster fuck of a conundrum that they are currently in. Let the rat race begin.

I learned long ago not to expect anything from movies released in August, as it is the month when studios crap out the flicks that they think just aren’t up to snuff for the prime summer months of June and July. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed 2 Guns, a late summer movie that managed to buck the odds by not being a dull, generic suckfest, and that actually turned out to be a brass-balled, unabashedly bloody, and often hilariously un-PC action flick that almost, and I stress almost, rose to my standard of awesome.

Adapted from the graphic novel by Steven Grant, and directed with energetic gusto by Baltasar Kormakur (Contraband), this is exactly the kind of movie that the late Tony Scott would have made in his heyday. It is that special kind of bad ass. Of course, the main ingredient to the success of 2 Guns is the chemistry between our two heroes. Denzel and Marky-Marky are awesome enough on their own, but putting them together… man, they play off each other beautifully. Whether they’re just goofing around, or squaring off and measuring their dicks (figuratively), they make for one dynamic duo, and they really make these 2 Guns blaze. They have so much chemistry that I’m shocked no one thought to put them in a movie together before now.

As great as they are, it would be unbecoming of me to not mention some of the other highlights of the cast, including the ever colorful Paxton, who hams it up as the sadistic redneck Grim Reaper who makes even the most seasoned DEA Agents and drug lords wet their drawers in fear. Whether he’s slamming thumb tacks into hands or shooting off kneecaps, he is a fiendish delight to watch and needless to say, he steals every scene he’s in. Then there’s Paula Patton, as Bobby’s DEA colleague/love interest. She doesn’t get much to do, acting wise, but she does have a bedroom scene early on where she gets to show off her assets, which are indeed quite pleasant to look at. For that, I am grateful.

I am also grateful that director Kormakur decided against sanitizing his film for the PG-13 summer masses and instead gave us a hard R shoot ’em up. The banter between Bobby and Stig is appropriately potty mouthed, and it’s nice to be reminded every once in a while that people actually bleed when they get shot. Besides, no way would a Bambi-fied PG-13 action snoozer have had Marky-Marky blowing the heads off chickens or banging a guy on the dick with his gun. That sort of pure bad-assery would never have been allowed, for fear of corrupting the children.

Now, I said earlier that 2 Guns is almost awesome, and I meant exactly that. While I had a gas with it, it is not perfect.  The movie has it’s problems.  First, the plot is very twisty, with a lot going on. I don’t mind that, really, but there were points where things got needlessly overcomplicated, and it became too convoluted for its own good. I also felt that the film lost its momentum in its final third and started to lag, and by the time it ended, it had petered out completely, with characters double crossing, triple crossing, and quadruple crossing each other to the point of absolute absurdity.  There are so many back-stabbings and betrayals that it just becomes ridiculous.

Then we get to the climax, which is disappointingly routine. Basically, it’s a four-way Mexican standoff that inevitably turns into a shoot out, the kind we’ve only seen about a million times before. It’s a well-executed gun battle, complete with a helicopter, but it’s also an incredibly cliched way to end a crime picture. A bit more imagination here would have been appreciated.

Those pesky imperfections stopped me from giving 2 Guns a solid four star rating, but it doesn’t at all stop me from recommending the movie, as I did have, for the most part, one hell of a good time with it. In all likelihood, it won’t go down as any kind of masterpiece, but it is a fast, diverting action yarn with two stars who, again, make a surprisingly engaging team. I would certainly like to see Washington and Wahlberg together again soon, particularly in a sequel to this film… 2 Guns 2, perhaps?

Upstream Color

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

***½

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It all starts with a worm…

Upstream Color

The H-Bomb: Way back in 2004, a hot young talent named Shane Carruth took the Sundance Film Festival by storm with his feature debut, Primer, a brain bending science-fiction flick that he wrote, directed, starred, shot, edited and even composed the score for. It was a dense, cerebral time travel tale that confounded many, but those willing to wade through the jargon heavy dialogue (Carruth was an engineer in his past life) and the tricky story structure, found the film both worthwhile and rewarding. Like with Lynch and Eraserhead, or Aronofsky and Pi, Primer seemed to announce the arrival of a challenging new filmmaker in Carruth.

And then, nothing… years came and went, and I heard not a peep about Shane Carruth or his potential follow up to Primer. I eventually assumed he was a mere one shot wonder who had his fifteen minutes, and would never be seen or heard from again. Then, nearly a decade after his original indie hit, Carruth finally returns with his sophomore feature, Upstream Color, and having taken it in, I can say to the people who found Primer confusing… you have no fucking idea what confusing really is.

Whereas a director like Christopher Nolan started out in the art house, and moved more into the mainstream with each successive film, Carruth has moved in the exact opposite direction, as Upstream Color is far less accessible, and far more esoteric than his previous effort. Primer, though it demanded the audience’s attention, eventually, by the end, did provide a fairly clear picture of what was happening. This one demands not only our absolute, undivided attention, but our interpretation, as well.  Carruth is acquitting himself well with the David Lynchs and the Terrence Malicks of the world, in his refusal to spoon feed us anything.

Unfolding like a hazy, half-remembered dream, Upstream Color tells the story of Kris (Amy Seimetz), a successful career woman who wakes up one day to find that not only are several days missing from her memory, but that she’s been fired from her job, her bank accounts have been completely emptied, and her life has more or less been ruined. I should note here that we the viewer are privy to what happened to Kris, but for the sake of spoiling as little as possible, I won’t go into it. I’ll simply state that she is the victim of a rather complex (and bizarre) scheme involving worms and pigs.

As she tries to put her life back together, she meets Jeff (played by director Carruth), a man who, as we discover, has been victimized in the same way that Kris has, and whose life is also in shambles. The two of them fall in love (naturally) as they attempt to piece together and solve the mystery of what exactly happened to them… at least, that’s what I think they’re trying to do.

I’m going to be straight up with you, folks, I’ve watched Upstream Color twice now, and I don’t completely get it. I don’t think it’s a film that can be completely gotten, per se. I would compare it to something like Lynch’s Inland Empire, in that at times it becomes abstract in the extreme, with surreal imagery (like worms crawling around a nervous system) and a hypnotic score. Technically speaking, the film is an absolute marvel, with cinematography that is cold, clinical, yet stunning at the same time, and an intoxicating sound design that could lull even the most hyperactive of us into a trance. But to say the movie is not audience friendly is perhaps the understatement of the year.

When it comes to films as impenetrable as this one, I can go either way, as some, like The Tree of Life, I enjoyed immensely, while others, like the Cronenberg crap-fest Cosmopolis, I loathed with every ounce of my being. I suppose what it comes down to is, if I think there’s something within the film to actually get, I’ll go with it, but if I feel like a director is just jerking me around, I won’t. With Upstream Color, I didn’t feel like Carruth was jerking me about, and I was certainly going with it for a while, as I was genuinely intrigued through most of it. Unfortunately, as the movie wore on, my curiosity turned into frustration, as I became less intrigued and more irritated by the film’s obtuseness. It had me, but at some point along the way, it kind of lost me.

I don’t think, however, that the film is a total wash. After my first viewing, it left me cold and confused, but when I re-watched it, I gleaned more from it, and I have a feeling I’ll get even more out of it on subsequent viewings. I imagine many who see Upstream Color, even those who consider themselves open minded film buffs, will be left utterly mystified and absolutely hating it. I wouldn’t blame them, but I would urge them to give it another go, as there is way too much to absorb here in a single viewing. People who prefer their movies straight forward and spelled out for them, or who found Primer impossible to wrap their minds around, should probably pass on Upstream Color, as it is one I can only cautiously recommend to the most adventurous of moviegoers…very cautiously.

Hating Breitbart

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 5.00 out of 5)
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“When the media decides it wants to kill somebody, it behaves so in a merciless fashion.” – Andrew Breitbart

#HatingBreitbart

Swift shot: America lost a fighter, a patriot, someone that was trying to keep integrity on our shores. Andrew Breitbart is missed. His death was a complete shock to the seekers of truth. Which, at the end of the day was all Andrew wanted – he wanted to expose corruption, crime and the political cronies running a muck in our failed Republic. For that reason, Andrew is an American Hero – and I will tell it to anyone I meet! But I come not to praise Andrew, but to “viciously, ruthlessly” review a film about a small part of his life, his burgeoning quest to expose liars in the so-called “Lame Stream Media.” Andrew was convinced the media was being led by a core elite that was essentially a political arm of the Obama propaganda machine. Andrew Breitbart, as the film shows, loved being hated. He saw the hatred for what it truly was, ginned up political rhetoric of the left, and when he dissected that hatred, he exposed that even their hate was a lie!

Hating Breitbart is a documentary that chronicles the road trips of Andrew and his friends as they stop all across America with the Tea Party movement, gathering fact versus fiction to get Americans to stop trusting the media at face-value, but to really dig into the horrors of the world head on. We get a behind the scenes glance at James O’Keefe and his partner Hanna Giles as they boldly expose ACORN as a criminal organization. Every time ACORN tries to defend itself, Andrew and James masterfully reveal more and more film exposing the truth about their despicable agenda. To support juvenile prostitution, and to use tax-dollars, or even donated dollars defies defense. That’s the definition of indefensible behavior. But, Andrew’s detractors do just that, try to defend the videos as selectively edited and taken out of context.

The one thing this film does incredibly well is show how attuned Andrew was with the NET and using Social Media as a double-edged sword for his attackers, by parrying with the most effective weapon in any arsenal . . . the truth. The new truth is only revealed by the new warrior, the citizen journalist! I kinda liked that part for some reason. The truth has no agenda – it just is.

Breitbart brilliantly calls out the enemies of the Tea Party for their tactics, chiefly, if someone disagrees with a liberal, they are racists. The entire film dissects this myth for what it is, a Chicago Realpolitik attack, and he turns the most potent weapon of choice for the savvy conservative against his opponents, again, it’s the truth . . . a running theme throughout the film.

Breitbart is very much like a patrol squad in Iraq during the liberation, trying to agitate the enemy, and force them to engage him, thus, identifying them, categorizing them, knowing them.  Knowing the enemy is how you defeat the enemy. His attackers were too stupid to figure this out, but then, consider the source?

They seem to have no actual veracity in their attacks on Breitbart or his staff, they just keep using nasty (well orchestrated and funded) media tricks, like stating that O’Keefe edited his clips. I’m here to tell ya, MOST clips are edited, otherwise you’d get bored or hear a bunch of dead air etc.  Even our little interviews on iratefilms need SOME editing, sheesh!  So they had to show their unedited clips, which had no smoking gun, but the media just keeps their attack dogs on Breitbarts throat. And he defends against all of them with his sharpest edged-weapons, facts.

The film is highly informative, it also allows his critics plenty of time to hang themselves, as Breitbart would certainly approve.  Breitbart was a threat to the left, because he was trained by them, he knew their tricks, he knew their names, he knew their character.

There’s bad singing and lots and lots and lots of traveling. Anyone who lives out of a suitcase will appreciate the journeyman story.  They cuss, they get a little goofy, they are just normal people who are pissed off at the media machine that is raping the truth.  Probably the saddest truth about us conservatives is that we, by design almost, lack creativity, which is why the best conservatives seem to start out as liberals. The arts are chock full of liberals, so, I will confess that the one thing Tea Party rallies do have in droves is a bit of awkward looking revelers.  Of that, they are extremely guilty!

I’ll leave you with this, I identify myself as a Tea Party member.  I don’t agree with 100% of their beliefs, but I do support a limited government, a tax system that makes sense, a strong national security system that doesn’t bow down to Political Correctness at our detriment, and most importantly, wants to restore America to greatness.  There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be great.  There is plenty wrong with accepting mediocrity and entitlements where great men and women showed us that this nation is better than that.  But, if you are fine with hand-outs and letting the government coddle you forever, so be it.

And, for the record, the first political rally I ever attended was to shake the hand of a black man, Colonel Allen West, a warrior, a servant, an American. So, I get pretty mad when someone calls me a racist! I am a Marine veteran, and we only see two colors, light-green and dark-green.  Breitbart was trying to make America more like that, unified, he came from a very mixed family, as he explains in the film, and he saw that dividing the people is exactly how the elite stay in power, by manipulating us against one another. I am proud to say I have converted someone to lean more to the right, but it took exposing them to truth via the NEW MEDIA to open their eyes.

If you want to go on hating Breitbart and the Tea Party, go right ahead, we’re used to it, but if you want to learn something, WATCH Hating Breitbart and really ask yourself who is looking out for you! Andrew was, and now he’s dead, but there are many more soldiers in the war. Question is, which side will you choose?

Oh, and if you watch only one deleted scene on the DVD, see “I Just Got Called a Homosexual,” that’s the one that really shows who Andrew was and how he thrived on confrontation and could expose lies by bringing them to the forefront.

Pacific Rim

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 4.00 out of 5)
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“Tonight, we’re cancelling the Apocalypse!” – Marshall Pentecost

Pacific Rim

Swift shot:  Godzilla meets Robotech ala Guillermo del Toro!  While there is certainly enough mythology surrounding both of those franchises, what makes Pacific Rim stand alone is that it merely borrows from both without trying to remake either.  Even the title is fresh and misleading. When I first heard about the movie I was like, “What the hell is that?”  Then I heard GdT was directing, and wrote it, and I was on board. He always does a fine job with special effects, and armed with the fantastic folks at ILM – well, it’s a physically jarring thrill ride that has just enough story to not overwhelm nor bore the audience.  In short, it’s a great action flick!

Beginning in the present, a dimensional rift appears in the Pacific rim and lets in a Kaiju – essentially a giant monster from the sea.  That monster takes six days and 35 miles to finally take down with our conventional fighting forces.  Thousands of people are lost in San Francisco.  If that had been a one time event, it would have been enough, but it wasn’t, it seems that was just the first of many monsters creeping in through the crack of space and time deep in the Pacific Ocean.

The separate nations are ill-equipped to battle them alone; they all pool their money and secrets together to launch the Jaeger program.  Essentially, the Jaegers are giant robots, that need two people to operate – one the left hemisphere and one the right.  Teams of Jaeger drivers are heralded for their bravery in battle, they pilot these mammoth merchs with the bravado of bomber pilots from yesteryear. But unlike the man-made wars, these monsters never stop.  In fact scientists are worried that soon they will be coming in pairs . . . or worse.

Gipsy Danger is one such Jaeger piloted by the scrappy Beckett brothers, Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) and Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam).  Things go awry for the brothers . . . flash-forward a few years, and Raleigh is working on a great wall.  The wall is supposed to be able to keep the Kaiju out.  Yea, not so much.  Just like in real life, the government manages to make things ten times worse when they try to shut down the Jaeger program in favor of this giant wall that has so much FAIL written all over it, literally in fact!

Raleigh has been recruited to pilot one last desperate mission of rogue Jaeger teams led by Marshall Pentecost (Idris Elba).  His heir apparent, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) is eager to get some payback for her family’s untimely demise.  Charlie Day and Burn Gorman play nerdy scientists who provide some chuckles with their divergent beliefs on how to deal with the Kaiju.  One of my favorite character actors, Ron Perlman, makes a cameo as well.  But, really, who gives a shit about any of this?!!?  This is a movie about giant robots battling giant monsters all while the Earth stands united against a common alien enemy!  You aren’t going to see it for the compelling story-line, folks!

Again, ILM did the special effects, the battles were on a grandiose scale, and the creatures were all creatively sculpted to allow you to get different moves from each.  For instance one has a sword shaped head, and he uses it to stab at the Jaeger.  What I found a comical, yet somehow necessary, homage to the Godzilla movies was the insistence on immediately naming the creatures once they broke the dimensional rift.  There were other not so subtle nods to Robotech and Godzilla, but I didn’t find them overly hokey in execution.

What did bother me was the kind of back-handed way that “climate change” was used as a method to explain why the Kaiju were invading us now.  That aside though, the politics pretty much got the hell out of the way and let you just sit back and enjoy the fighting and spectacular effects.  I noticed there was a thank you to James Cameron in the credits, and I think he may have consulted on underwater battle sequences or something, because they looked sharp.

If you want a smart film, you aren’t seeing Pacific Rim . . . if you want to be entertained on a primal level, then this one is for you!  I saw this in 3D, and there were some shots that warranted it, but I still say 3D is a gimmick that needs to die, like a Kaiju!  Oh, stick around in the middle of the credits or you will miss a small surprise too.

The Heat

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 4.00 out of 5)
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The Heat

When I first saw previews for this movie, I thought it was another Miss Congeniality sequel, since Sandra Bullock was again playing an FBI agent.  I also wondered if this movie took place in the same universe as White Chicks, because Marlon Wayans again plays an FBI agent.  However, it’s not affiliated with either of those previous movies.  The Heat is a different take on the buddy-cop movie, since the cops in this one are females, who, of course, don’t get along.

Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a New York FBI agent.  She is a fantastic agent, but she’s also a snarky know-it all who is not very popular with her peers.  Sarah has a pretty sad life.  She “borrows” her neighbor’s cat to snuggle with.  She doesn’t have any friends, and whenever she approaches one of her co-workers, they are visibly annoyed (cue the eye roll).  When she is up for a possible promotion, her boss (Demián Bichir) sends her to Boston on a high-profile case, to catch a drug lord who has a penchant for cutting people into pieces to send a message.  Sarah’s new boss in Boston is Levy (Wayans) who just might have a thing for Sarah.

Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is a Boston cop.  She has a feisty temper, and a very interesting way of dealing with a man she arrests for soliciting prostitution.  She doesn’t really get along with her boss, Captain Woods (Thomas F. Wilson – Biff Tannen, ya’ll!!).  In fact, she spends a lot of time “looking for his balls” (hilarious).  Shannon is part of a big Irish family, but they don’t care for her, because she put her brother Jason (Michael Rapaport) in jail.  (side note – Joey McIntyre plays another one of her brothers.  Joey from NKOTB!!  OMG!!!).  When Jason is released from jail, Shannon is worried that he will go back to his old, drug-dealing ways, and get mixed-up with Larkin (the aforementioned drug kingpin that the women are looking for).

There are several outrageous scenes in The Heat.  As the girls are investigating their case, they have to interrogate witnesses, go undercover, and even run into an albino DEA agent, Craig (Dan Bakkedahl) and his partner Adam (Taran Killam) who do NOT want to share this case with them.  Both women are great at their jobs, but they have to find a way to work together to save the day.

Bullock and McCarthy are fantastic together.  They really played well off each other.  I would definitely like to see this duo in future comedies!!  The movie did run a little long (almost two hours), but overall, The Heat is a hilariously funny tale about, more than anything else, family.  This one is R-rated, so do yourselves a favor and leave the kiddies at home.

White House Down

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 4.00 out of 5)
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Olympus has fallen… again.

White House Down

The H-Bomb: The U.S. President (Jamie Foxx) returns home just as he’s on the verge of brokering a historic deal that will bring peace to the Middle East. This is a deal that could very well piss off a lot of interested parties, including the usual wacko groups from that region, as well as a number of defense contractors who have profited from the never ending cycle of war. It becomes abundantly clear that someone is indeed seriously upset by this deal, when a big explosion rocks the Capitol Building.

The Secret Service moves fast to try and get the President to safety, but it’s too late, as terrorists have already infiltrated the White House… terrorists who are “obviously not Al-Qaeda.” Instead, they’re a scruffy but well organized lot of paramilitary types. In what seems like an impossibly efficient manner, this goon squad takes over the White House completely, wiping out the Secret Service personnel and taking control of the anti-aircraft weapons on the roof.

Having captured all the high ranking members of the cabinet, as well as a number of tourists from a tour group as hostages, and with the President about to be delivered to them, it’s looking like the terrorists are holding all the cards. But, there’s one thing they didn’t count on, Cale (Channing Tatum), a U.S. Capitol police officer who was in the tour group along with his estranged daughter, Emily (Joey King), when all the shit went down. Cale immediately springs into action as he escapes from the tour group, kills one of the goons, and manages to get the President away from his would be captors. Now, it’s up to Cale and the Commander-in-Chief to take out the terrorists and save the other hostages… including his daughter. Hmm… why does all of this sound so damn familiar?

Before I get into the review, I must ask, what is it with Roland Emmerich and destroying the White House? He had aliens nuke it in Independence Day, an event that is directly referenced, rather lamely, in this film. Then in 2012 (2009), he had a massive CGI tidal wave wipe it out. Now, in White House Down, he blows the place up from the inside out. What the man has against that great building, I’ll never know.

Here’s something I do know, I am not a fan of Heir Emmerich. Sure, I like Stargate, and I loved Independence Day back in the summer of ’96… when I was fifteen-years-old, but from Godzilla onward, he transmorphed into a complete and total hack of the Michael Bay variety, and after the excruciating Day After Tomorrow, I swore I would never subject myself to his moronic, effects driven disasterpieces ever again.

Needless to say, I was not at all anticipating White House Down, and I went into the screening dragging my heels big time, surer than sure it would suck a big one. And now that I’ve seen it, I must admit, it is a hell of a lot of fun. Granted, the first twenty minutes or so are a tad tedious, but once it got going, I had an absolute blast. The almost non-stop action is very well assembled, with shoot outs and fist fights that pack a pretty mean punch, and legitimately exciting, albeit PG-13 all the way through (a guy gets an entire Gatling gun emptied into him without a single drop of blood to be found).

Best of all, we get a surprisingly engaging and credible lead in Tatum, who I had never paid attention to before (I’ve never seen Magic Mike, and I never will… that’s more Rick Swift’s type of movie). I’ve heard people give him crap in the past, with someone online once describing him as “a slab of beef with a head on top,” but I think he wore the action hero suit quite well. And that’s not to mention he more than holds his own with a very solid ensemble of supporting players, including James Woods and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Secret Service Agents, Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) as our main villain, and Richard Jenkins as the Speaker of the House, who’s trying in vain to keep order amid the chaos.

Director Emmerich, again, does a masterful job of staging the action, without relying on nauseating shaky cam and incoherent quick cutting, with the crazy vehicle chase where the baddies pursue our heroes onto the White House lawn itself being worth the ticket price. The scenes where Tatum and Clarke throw down mano y mano are also very well done. Heir Emmerich may have faults as a story teller (one of them being stuffing too much comic relief into his films), but the guy knows how to shoot action and do it well. I defy anyone not to get caught up in this cinematic roller coaster, even if there’s nothing original (more on that in a moment) or believable about it.

In fact, believability pretty much gets blown all to hell. I mean, how many times can Channing Tatum have some gigantic explosion go off right next to his head and escape with only minor cuts and scrapes? But the real question is, should you care that it’s so unbelievable? No, not really. This is the kind of loud summer movie that’s meant to be enjoyed in between mouthfuls of popcorn, not pondered over or scrutinized thoroughly. As long as you leave your thinking cap at home, you’ll be fine.

If there’s anything I would come down on this Die Hard in the White House flick for, it’s, again, the lack of originality. I mention Olympus Has Fallen in my sub-heading, but honestly, I have no idea how close this is to that, as I haven’t seen it. However, I can attest that it is too damn close to Die Hard. I was a little beside myself at how many things from that film were just blatantly ripped off. Let’s do a rundown; Tatum takes one of the terrorists’ walkie-talkies and uses it to spy on them, he climbs around in an elevator shaft, he’s mistaken for a terrorist and shot at by an attack helicopter when he’s on the roof, and… ladies, pay attention… he strips down to his wife-beater when the going gets tough. That’s just naming a few. Scores of action films have followed the Die Hard formula over the years, but this one has so many similarities it could legally be considered a remake.

Anyway, all uncomfortable similarities to Die Hard aside, there’s also some rather appalling CGI that pulled me out of the movie more than once, such as the helicopters that were oh-so-obviously digitally inserted over the city streets, and pretty much all of the explosions in the film, which look like they were cut and pasted from a PS2 game. Considering Emmerich had a $150 million dollar budget to play with, the effects were laughably shoddy. Also, at 131 minutes, it goes on for too damn long. A good 15-30 minutes could have been shaved off this beast, and the movie would have been better for it.

But despite the lengthy run time and my issues with the not-so-special effects, I can honestly say that White House Down is a lot better than it has any right to be. In my always humble opinion, it’s by far Emmerich’s best film since Independence Day, which could very well make it his best film, period. It’s a rockin’, rollicking, and utterly ridiculous old school action flick, with enough gunfire and carnage to spare. It won’t totally blow you away, but overall, it’s not a bad way to kill a couple hours on a slow summer day.