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All reviews - Movies (125) - Music (1) - Games (1)

Christian Bale looking rough

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 1 February 2010 05:02 (A review of The Machinist)

Trevor Reznik has been deteriorating for a year, he has become an insomniac. It has been a year since has he has enjoyed what it feels like to sleep. He has the same routine, he goes to work, meets a hooker, and then goes to a local cafe where he talks to the waitress. This is all he has, until one day he meets a new mysterious co-worker named Ivan. Trevor believes that for some reason or another Ivan is out to destroy his life. Trevor begins to investigate the situation and everything is not what it seems. Trevor finds himself the center of delusion, paranoia and exhaustion. In his state of mind there is a fine line between imagination and what is actually real.

Trevor Reznik is the definition of a walking dead man. His face is sunken in, the bags under his eyes are dark, and his ribs are visible through his skin. Trevor looks terrible. His life is in shambles, he doesn’t really live for much. He sticks to his everyday routine and keeps to himself. Until one day after an accident at work, Trevor feels that everyone is out to get him. He doesn’t know how to react, he just keeps trying to avoid any and all conflicts, but the pressure just keeps building. Trevor’s life is spiralling out of control and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.

The film has dark images, sexual references, a not so deep attempt to be deep. This film is clichéd in many aspects. The first scene gives a major clue, the story progresses exactly how you think it will. Still through all the clichéd aspects, it still has a touch of honesty. Whether it is how bad Christian Bale made himself look for the role, or much you just cannot help but want to know more about Trevor. Trevor is that character that is down to earth his life isn’t perfect, yet we find ourselves assuming the worst of this guy. Trevor isn’t made out to be the hero in the situation. The film goes the complete opposite way with Trevor and kudos for that. To be extremely critical of this film would mean it would get a bad rating. There was a lot missing in this film. They exposed the plot way too quickly. They added way to many characters into a short film. Despite all these faults, the characters from Christian Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh were played honestly. There were no added elements to these simple characters. They were easy going, they weren’t perfect, they had normal human feeling. They felt connected to each other. As Trevor explodes on everyone that is in his life, you begin to feel sorry for Stevie . She cared for him and he being messed couldn’t quite see that.

Despite seeing the outcome from the beginning, it still is a good ending in a sense. This film is a lot like Memento (Which I wasn’t impressed with) but this film did manage to give us a very simple plot with some disturbing images of a man who let himself go. Bale and Leigh are good in their scenes, but all in all this film misses the key elements to be a solid film. Still a decent film, that isn’t long, and if you want to watch it and enjoy two good performances then go for it. Just don’t expect it to be amazingly well twisted.

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The Basketball Diaries

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 1 February 2010 04:15 (A review of The Basketball Diaries (1995))

Jim Carroll: First, it's a Saturday night thing when you feel cool like a gangster or a rockstar- just something to kill the boredom, you know? They call it a chipie, a small habbit. It feels so good, you start doing it on Tuesdays... then Thursdays... then it's got you. Every wise ass punk on the block says it won't happen to them, but it does.

Jim Carroll: Leonardo Dicaprio
Jims Ma: Lorraine Braco
Swifty: Bruno Kirby
Bobby: Michael Imperioli
Mickey: Mark Wahlberg

Jim Carroll is a young upstart basketball player in high school. He and his buddies are trouble makers off the court, but when the on the court the dominate the game like no others. They go out at nights, pick fights, Jim writes his journals and they go to school. They dont like it, most people dont like school. Jim, Mickey and the others go to a catholic school in New York City where sins are punishable by violence. Jim and his friends get stoned on occasion, but Basketball comes first. Until one night Jim and Mickey try Cocaine, they are forever changed. They begin picking fights more often, getting high before playing a game of basketball and then they get into even harder drugs, heroine, crack, once and while even popping pills. Jim and his friends get out of control and they are on the fast track to prison or maybe something worse.

Jim:your nose is running.. your legs are cramped… but theres always a voice in the back of your head saying just one more time and then ill quit.

Jim Carroll struggled to find himself as a basketball player, couldn’t find himself as a person, he began writing out his feelings but didn’t believe in them. His friends believed in drugs and substances to help get you through the day. Jim adopted that belief and he becomes something that keeps him from living his dream. Jim turns to harder and harder drugs to lift his spirits, but the damage is done when you come down from that high of all highs. Jim Carroll is kicked out of the home he knows and left to fight with the streets of a city he cannot beat. A movie give a terrible name to drugs is often a set of emotions that most average joes don’t know how to deal with. It is complicated and immensely hard to make people understand how these people encounter everyday life. We get even more upset at the notion that a Hollywood film is trying to depict something that a lot people think cannot be depicted on the big screen. This film is different. From the beginning it is set as a dark drama about a city street boy, none of the Hollywood glamour. Apart from Dicaprio and Wahlberg none of the names in this film are big time house hold names.

Diacprio is the bright star in this film. Dicaprio bestows upon the world of movie goers a good young kid who gets involved with the wrong crowd. Dicaprio shows the ins and outs of Jim Carrolls seventeen year old world. Dicaprio himself was 21 at the time, coming into the lime light with his big-time steal in Whats Eating Gilbert Grape. Dicaprio was young, upstart and ready to take on the challenge. He takes the challenge and he delivers what after watching many of films before and after could stand as one of his most difficult and troubling performances. This is onw where he needed to find it with himself to be exceptional. He needed the audience to see Jim Carroll as we has, troubled, paining, in need of help. Jim Carroll was in dire need of some help, but he just wouldnt reach out and take it. He was in to deep and had no one willing to help him cope with his struggles. He needed the tough love he got, but would Jim Carroll get it before the time on the clock expired. Diacprio is fresh, he was young, his acting skills were fine tuned and he didn’t disappoint. Giving a film that plays at your heart strings.

Jim:If your gonna sniff,might as well pop it,and if you’re gonna pop it might as well mainline. I’m scared of needles but i gave in. It was like a long heat wave through my body, any ache or pain or sadness or guilty feeling was completely flushed out.

This film plays out and it makes you think about your own choices, and whether or not they are only affecting you as a person. When someone gets to the point of Jim Carroll did they are hurting more than just themselves. They hurt those who cared, those who have watched you grow up.

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Seven Pounds

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 31 January 2010 03:57 (A review of Seven Pounds (2008))

Ben Thomas (Smith) was a good happy man, with a girlfriend he could love and confide in. She was the one he wanted, the one he could be with. All of this changes within a minute, Bens life is shattered, broken and all that he knew was lost. His girlfriend died and he was left with guilt for the deaths of Seven people, seven people whose lives he ended on one fateful night. Ben was never able to move on, but he did however try and make up for his own guilt. By drastically changing the lives of Seven people who he felt could use. Ben was a tax collector, a man who could make you or break you. Ben decides it is time for people to get good news. He helps Emily Posa (Dawson) Ezra Turner (Harrleson) and 5 other people. All the while dealing with his own guilt and remorse, while realizing changing seven people doesn’t make up for the seven lives he took. Ben doesn’t ever forgive himself, which leads to some tragic results for those he is trying to help.

Ben Thomas is a man divided by his own thoughts. He is challenging whether or not he is a good person or not. Does he deserve another chance at life, the chance to be happy. Ben is a man that the audience hates to begin with, he comes off as an arrogant jerk at the beginning, but that is easily explained near the end. Ben then goes from the object of everyone’s hatred to the one people will give there pity to. Ben is truly a dynamic character, who changes his views 3 times in less than 2 hours. He is a greatly developed, with characteristics that people can relate to as well as loathe at the same time. Ben hurts himself for the greater outcome, which the makes the audience see him as someone that they dont understand. Some people may even go as far as to say it is impossible to see why he did what he did.

With a character so impressively developed, it seems that there could be no way to make all of this shine through to the audience. Ben seems like that impossible character that one can only dream of playing, but no one could actually handle all that change and different emotion. Ben is handled though as perfectly as any other character ever developed for a dramatic film. Will Smith is the reason why Ben is who he is to the audience. Will is able to make us feel for Ben and then take it away just like that, because of the character. Will is able to make people view Ben as someone who messed yup and doesn’t deserve pity, and doesn’t deserve a second chance. It is all up to the individual to make the choice in this one. Some people may agree with Ben getting a second chance and other may not. Will Smith gives what I will call his best acting to date, never has he been so unique, so emotionally challenging. Will has done some awesome stuff, like Pursuit of Happyness (Which I have yet to see) Will has even handled comedy well with his comedic cover character in Bad Boys, and his alcoholic outspoken Hancock. But I have yet to see Will handle such an emotionally driven character, where there is no action to back him out of the proverbial bad acting situation, where there is no over dramatization that can back him out of the clichéd corner of doom. This is Will at his finest, which I will only hope and pray that he continues to do.

Rosario Dawson is a great actress, she is good at what she does, she gets good chances, but sometimes she has failed to hit it big. She failed to impress in films like Eagle Eye, The Descent and Alexander. All the while making up for it with such films like 25th Hour (Which will remain her best film ever) and Sin City. This film is the next film that can be added to her short but impressive list of greats. She plays Emily Posa, a woman who suffers from Heart Failure and will die unless she gets a heart. Ben stumbles upon her, making sure that she doesn’t have to pay her taxes in the allotted time. He gives her an extension and they become really great friends. Ben helps her out around her house, and she tries to understand who he is a person, all the while he tries so desperately to pull away not revealing to her who he really is, and what it is he had done to end up there with her. Emily just continues to see Ben as a guardian angel, someone sent there to watch over her, and give her one last bit of happiness before she dies from the disease that has been eating away at her for her whole life. Ben becomes much more than that, which is where the summary of Emily and Ben will have to stop due to the revealing of spoilers.

This film is driven, by rich and deep emotions that will touch your soul, if not you need to see someone for some help. It is one of the most realistic accounts of human emotion and guilt to ever be seen on the big screen. There were at least 3 scenes that brought me to the edge of tears, because of how powerful and moving real life depictions can be. Never before has there been a film that slowly reveals the pain of its protagonist, while it also tries to get you to hate the protagonist for what he was done. This film is probably the most honest and sincere piece of filmmaking since 21 Grams. This is the first emotionally charged film that I couldn’t tear my eyes off of since I watched Sean Penn tear apart the script he was given for 21 Grams. Will Smith is the glue that holds this masterpiece together. It appears good from the trailers, but once you leave the theatre you realize it is so much better than you could have ever envisioned it would be.

This film is one to be seen, its heart wrenching, intense, mind boggling, deep, understandable and still it leaves you wanting to talk, wanting to cry wanting to reach out and help someone why may need it. A deep and great film that a lot of people will have mixed emotions about.

As of this point There will be Spoilers. I wrote a review of the film with little to no revealing of the plot. If you have not seen the film yet and plan on doing so then do not read on because I will talking about some scenes that I rather enjoyed out of this film

The first scene that pops into my mind when discussing this is right at the beginning when Ben Thomas stops by the room of Inez the older lady in the hospital. Ben is deciding whether or not Stuart Goodman deserves an extension on his taxes, and upon talking with Inez Ben realizes that Stuart does not care for his patients the way he should. It is left to the audience to see that Goodman is mistreating his patients by not taking care of them, not washing them and then trying to come off as a good man. This scene is powerful, just like many more to come, it shows what Ben is doing, it gives an insight to the help he wishes to give, before ever revealing the wrong he did. This scene gave Ben an identity as a good man, a helpful man.

The Second scene that comes to mind when thinking about this film is the Car accident scene. When Ben looks down at his phone to read the text messages and he drifts over the yellow line. This scene is the one scene that differs from all the rest. Its gives us Ben Thomas in a new light, a man who may have been driven by guilt in order to save the lives of Seven strangers, without the accident, he probably would have never even decided to save those Seven people. It makes you think though that those Seven people could have either died, or been left the way they were simply because Ben might not have had his accident. It makes you question whether or not Ben is in it for the greater good or just to make himself feel better about who he is.

There are a lot of scenes that stick out in this film, but probably none will stick with you as much as the talk with Dr/Briar/ suicide scene. Ben asks the doctor about Emilys chances of survival and she’s that it is very low with maybe a three percent chance that she could live or that she could find a heart. Ben is then shown at his apartment where he fills up his bath tub with ice and gets in with a deadly jellyfish that ultimately kills him. Then it flashes to Emily who’s pager goes off and she looks for Ben. Ben is not there, as the audience already knows because he is the one giving her the heart. This scene really does bring you to the verge of tears. It is so flawlessly shot, and the emotions, the perspectives, the reality and the sadness are all caught with such gracefulness that one can only try and hold back the tears. Ben is shown once again as the tragic hero, the one we can all relate to after having done something wrong that ends up harming others. Ben is shown as the man who will give great sacrifices, all the while we the audience know what he has done and why it is he is left feeling his has no other choice but to end his life this way. Ben ends the film as someone of great change, someone who after doing something wrong decided to make up for his wrong. In the end Ben took the lives of 8 people, one being himself, but ultimately if you look at it in a positive manner, Ben saved people, it doesn’t make up for it, because that is how it was meant to be. Something’s had no real explanation, but in the end the only life that didn’t fit in to the whole it is your time to go was Ben himself. He purposely changed his timing, he wasn’t meant to die in the car accident, because he was meant to love again to give himself to love, to make up for what he did.

It was a great film, despite being a little depressing and somewhat a downer, this film will hit you later on when you get home from seeing it. A great film that everyone should see and embrace as the hero-tragedy it is.

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The Hurt Locker

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 30 January 2010 03:59 (A review of The Hurt Locker (2008))

William James takes over as the leader of the Us Bomb squad with only a certain number of days in their tour. He is taking over after Staff Sergeant Matt Thompson has killed during the diffusing of a bomb. Will doesn't follow the rules, he lives by his own and that puts those around him in danger.

Staff Sergeant William James: There's enough bang in there to blow us all to Jesus. If I'm gonna die, I want to die comfortable.

I have been reading everywhere this is up for best picture of 2009. It will surely get a nomination now that the number of nominees has been raised to 10. Will it win? My answer is going to have to be no. I say this because the film didn’t capture me and drag me away. Yes it was intense, but I felt like the attachment factor was missing. I understood the difficulties presented to these men, I just couldnt seem to get into what it was they were doing.

It was an intense action film, and didn’t manage to take the step into greatness. I was hoping for more emotion, more physical response to what they were doing. There were two scenes based off of emotion. Yes I realize emotion plays into the tense moments, but I felt disconnected to those emotions, perhaps I just did not grasp how intense those situations are. But is it not the job of the film to want me to grasp the intensity. I did grasp the difficulty of being an army man, but not how much it affected these guys.

That comes down to the leads, and they didn’t relay these emotions. Yes this film will be a front runner come Oscar time, and at other award shows. But 2009 had better films, with better acting that hopefully win out over this one. I realize this is a great film to those who have been to war and understand its complexities, but I just failed to grasp how emotionally gripping war was. The final scene of war was the only one that did in a film that finds its final runtime at 131 minutes. They should have went for that sooner, rather than later.

Still I can see why people like this film. It was emotionally charged, but the emotional aspect is what I was hoping for. I guess I have more of a flare for the dramatics then the intense action. All in all a solid film, but not as solid as others.

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(500) Days of Summer

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 29 January 2010 01:39 (A review of (500) Days of Summer)

Tom meets Summer the day she begins working at the same office he works in. Tom writes greeting cards and automatically takes a liking to Summer. He thinks she is the one for him, and he tries his hardest to make her notice him. Eventually they end up talking and things begin to bloom from there. The only problem is Tom and Summer don’t want the same things. Tom wants a commitment and Summer doesn’t believe in true love.

Summer: You weren't wrong, Tom. You were just wrong about me.

Tom is shy he keeps to himself, he believes that one day he will find the girl of his dreams. Everyone wants to believe this and Tom sees his true love in Summer. Tom tries to win over Summer but he just can’t seem to crack her. She is dead set against love and Tom struggles to try and get her to let down her defences and fall in love. Joseph Gordon Levitt was perfect, Tom was quirky fun and a hopeless romantic. Levitt was Oscar worthy, all though he wont get it the performance was far better than many that have or will win Oscars. Yes I said Gordon Levitt is a big time actor, give him some credit here, this film was real, the struggles were real. Tom was exactly like someone we all know and had a little bit of each of us in him. That is why this film was so perfect and felt so authentic.

Tom and Summer built something from nothing, and when it all came crashing down it was painful, Tom was so saddened, and Summer was just so able to keep going. She toyed with Tom after that, which was the saddest part of the entire film. Summer and Tom became another broken down relationship, another star for the books, but Tom had real feelings and his heartbreak just wouldn’t go away. Anyone who has ever felt rejection the sting of break up felt Toms pain.

Tom: I love her smile. I love her hair. I love her knees. I love how she licks her lips before she talks. I love her heart-shaped birthmark on her neck. I love it when she sleeps

But really what impressed me most, and I don’t want to be sexist here, is that the man had the feelings for the woman. Usually it is the man who doesn’t have the correct feelings, but it was good to see a role reversal and see a film where Men aren’t the targets of aggression. Summer hurt Tom, and it was to see that in a film. Films often tend to forget that men can have real feelings. Films often paint men as emotionless cold beings. I’m not saying Summer was emotionless and cold, but the complete opposite. She had strong emotions and she hurt Tom. Ultimately what I am saying is that this film was different from what I usually see. The man had his heart broken and couldn’t move forward. It just shows that men can have honest feelings too. I know I am rambling, I just don’t see a film of this nature very often.

Narrator: Most days of the year are unremarkable. They begin, and they end, with no lasting memories made in between. Most days have no impact on the course of a life. May 23rd was a Wednesday.

Easily going to find its way onto my faves list. Why? The story was rich with emotion, the characters were people I felt I knew, and the cast doesn’t have their faces painted all over bill boards, they didn’t have world class good looks, they looked average. From Levitt to Deschanel to Gubler to Arend, you felt for these people because the glamour of being a world famous star wasnt a part of this film. The perfect cast, easily better then a cast that would include Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Will Smith or any famous person. This cast was perfect because they needed to be. Hands down this film relied on its cast like any other film, but unlike many films featuring big actors, the cast needed to be good for this film to be considered good. Not a member of this cast let me down. I enjoyed what this young and energetic cast brought to the table.

I focused on the dramatic aspect of the film, but it was the mixture of comedy and hope along with heartbreak and rejection that made this film was perfect. I felt a whirlwind of emotions, I felt jolted when Tom and Summer felt pain. I felt sympathy for Tom. I felt like a friend needed my help. I felt like I understood Summers reasoning. That is why I loved this film. I loved it for its honesty, for the character driven plot.

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The Book of Eli

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 28 January 2010 11:47 (A review of The Book of Eli)

A man travels across a post apocalyptic wasteland. He has been travelling for 30 years in search of the west, while he has possession of one book, the only copy remaining of a book that everyone wants. He must protect the book from falling into the hands of the wrong person. He meets his match in Carnegie (Oldman) who will stop at nothing to gain possession of this book so he can use for evil.

I don’t really know where to start. I guess I will say I liked the film. Not the greatest film created, but a good story none the less. However I found it better in the beginning but as the story progressed the involved a man hunt, an older couple, deep meanings of faith (which were good). In the beginning it was just survival of the fittest, but by the end it was a battle of faith and believing that faith can get you through anything. Which I am not saying isnt true, but they played the message of faith too many times in the last 50 minutes.

One thing I was certain about was the powerhouse performances. I knew this going in, and when I walked out I still believed it. Oldman and Washington on opposite sides of the faith scale were terrific. Washington portraying the humble Eli, a man of few words. Oldman playing the sadistic, win at all costs Carnegie. Both carried their characters in a film that dragged on at places, both when in scenes were the highlight of the film, so the scenes they shared, were just mind blowing. But acting can’t carry the whole film, but it is a good start and can be the one thing that saves a film from failure.

Now on to the story. Eli (If that is even his real name) was a man of faith, but it could be argued that Carnegie was as well. He knew the messages the book held, and he knew that people would want to hear the words. He just wanted to use it for control over people, where Eli wanted it be spread so people could turn to it in the time of need. I read somewhere that Carnegie wanted to recreate organized religion and use it create a struggle of power, where Eli just wanted to spread faith and let people see it as they want to. Now I don’t know if this is true, the only people who would really know that would be The Hughes Brothers, so they would need to answer the question. We know Carnegie did not want the book for good reasons, but what exactly would he have done with the book, and to what extent would he have had power.

The twist near the end was good when I watched it, but the more I thought about it, I cant see it. There had to be a time where they revealed this twist to be untrue, and there was not a real clue, not one that the audience could understand until after the twist was revealed. Which is why I think the elements of the twist were happening throughout the film but once he reached his ultimate goal he knew his mission was fulfilled.

Still I liked the film and some of its good vs. evil messages. I liked the cast, Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Tom Waits and Michael Gambon. They all played interesting parts, and they all brought something different to their roles. I liked this cast, but at times some of the characters could be a little annoying. Oh well though, for a film that carries the message of faith deeply, they didn’t fill it with nonsense. They got off track a few times, but kept to the ultimate message, which is faith can get us through anything.

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Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 28 January 2010 11:45 (A review of Whiteout (2009))

Carrie Stetko is a Us Marshall working in Antarctica. Winter is fast approaching and they need to start getting people out of there. But just as things begin to shut down for the winter a body is found, leading Carrie on the first murder investigation in Antarctica’s history. She has help from Robert Pryce (Macht) and Delfy (Short) as she rushes to solve the mystery so that she won’t be stranded on the continent with the killer.

Kate Beckinsale is a good actress. She has taken on Underworld, and appeared in films such as Winged Creatures(Fragments) and The Aviator. Yet in this film she takes on an average starring role and doesn’t really do much with it. Here I was expecting Kate to become the next big leading lady and based upon this performance I just don’t see that happening. She can lead action adventure movies because there is something to bail out her acting. I like Kate, I liked her in supporting roles. I was hoping to like this film and enjoy her performance but that just didn’t happen. I do think with an exceptional script and perhaps a better director Kate can become a starring actress in any film she chooses. I just don’t think that is going to happen right now. She was some work to do, and if she wants to prove herself, she should take on more action less dramas, and work herself into dramatic roles. Just some friendly advice, because I want to see her do well.

As far as the story, it didn’t play out the way I hoped, it become a drag and a mess of facts. The characters took too long to figure it out; they couldn’t seem to add 2 and 2 together to get 4. It was mindless, and the killings were just way over the top. It was a character plot, with random brutal murders. I don’t see that too much. It was painful to watch the parading around of a killer on a remote landscape. Just constantly search the grounds and you would have had him. It does not seem that tough of a task. I know Carrie is the lone Marshall but still if those people she knew would have helped it could have been prevented, because once they reveal who it is it just makes the whole film a worthless experience. A twist alien invasion ending would have been better and films with aliens attached to them are movies I don’t usually like.

They played on the clichés. Clearly Hollywood tried for an original idea for a film, oh wait this film was based on a graphic novel. I actually thought Hollywood created at least an original concept. I guess I thought wrong. Oh well this film just did not play out like I expected it too. And the random swearing from the middle point on was a bit odd. Average normal dialogue from the start and then boom swear fest. I don’t get that, I know people swear a lot in real life, but then add it right from the beginning. I don’t care about swearing a film, just don’t it add it mid way. Or don’t add one or two for dramatic purposes. Use it throughout or just leave it out.

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