Archive for the 'Movies' Category


The Accountant, The Innkeepers

The Accountant

I think it’s great that Hollywood is finally recognizing Autism, and giving its sufferers, such as Ben Affleck, starring roles in films. Affleck plays a shady accountant that fixes books for drug lords and terrorists. Working with such greasy clientele, he’s had to keep a low profile. The government has been tracking him for years, and finally gets a break in the case to hunt him down.

Simultaneously, Affleck gets a new assignment, one that causes him to cross paths with hired guns. As a kid, his psycho father trained him in martial arts and marksmanship. So, Affleck is able to kill quite handily. He goes against said killers while trying to keep his identity a secret.

The movie works well on pretty much all levels. The story is smartly written, and paced evenly, although it’s a bit slow in parts. We learn Affleck’s history through well-placed flashbacks, and there is even a stunner of a twist ending that I won’t spoil for you here.

It’s not an action movie, although there is some action in it. The action isn’t anything to write home about; don’t expect this to be the next John Wick. It’s more a thriller, a story meant to keep the audience guessing. The acting is also pretty good, too. Affleck barely emotes, and when he does, it’s mostly for laughs. For once, he finally found a role he was suited for.

Overall, it’s an above-average thriller, but probably won’t be one we remember ten years from now.

Verdict: Good

The Innkeepers

This 2011 horror film has rave reviews, but I can’t understand why. It’s certainly not the worst horror film ever made, but it is far from the best. It might actually be the most disappointing one I’ve seen.

It features a pair of hotel employees trying to figure out if their hotel is haunted. The film starts out promising. It takes its time setting up the characters and the atmosphere. It lets the audience get to know the surroundings, and slowly builds a sense of dread. The problem with most horror films is they go right for the jump-scares without giving the audience any time to settle in.

This movie sets up atmosphere to a fault.  It spends 1 hour and 20 minutes of it’s 1 hour and 40 minute runtime setting up atmosphere. That amount of setup is beyond excessive. By the time the scares actually come, the audience is bored stiff. It’s a tease more than anything else. Yes, the scares were good, and they didn’t have to rely on startles, which I approved of. But, sadly, it’s a case of too little, too late.

Verdict: Bad


The Bourne Mediocrity (AKA Jason Bourne 5)

Thirty minutes in, and right after a major action sequence, I checked my watch to see how much time was left in this movie. I grimaced when I saw there was still another ninety minutes to go. Jason Bourne, the fifth film in the series, is yet another one of Hollywood’s ill-advised attempts at resurrecting franchises. Instead of wowing, it falls flat on its face, and makes you wish they had stopped with the third film.

The fundamental problem with Jason Bourne is it’s a film stuck in the past. The original trilogy is undeniably phenomenal. It is one of those rare “perfect trilogies” that never makes a misstep. Expanding the series beyond that meant there was nowhere to go, and they would be doing nothing but rehashing old concepts.

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Look Who’s Back

Like many people, I have a morbid fascination with World War II and the Third Reich. Seventy years later, we still produce movies and books set in this era. It was a pivotal time, perhaps the most important in human history. And with the Nazi party being so ludicrously evil, well, it’s hard not to be fascinated by them. Fascination is not the same thing as condoning, mind you. They were evil personified, and it’s hard not to examine them. So, when I heard about the 2014 German film, Look Who’s Back, I jumped at the chance to watch it.

Look Who’s Back is simultaneously one of the most hilarious and frightening films I have seen in a very long time. The premise is brilliant: Adolf Hitler wakes up in modern-day Germany, and everyone he encounters thinks he’s a method actor doing performance art. But he isn’t doing anything like that, he’s the Fuhrer, and he wants to seize control again.

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The Expendables 3, Nightcrawler

The Expendables 3

In many ways, The Expendables 3 is the best and worst entry in this tired franchise. Sylvester Stallone stuffs even more of his buddies in this film than the previous two. It’s mind-boggling to think about how many washed-up actors signed on. There are way too many people, and nobody has any time for character development. That, of course, is something Stallone isn’t interested in. All he wants to do is flash as many old-school action stars on the screen in as short a time as possible, and blow up tons of shit in the process.

This film is the best of the franchise because it tries to have an actual plot. It also tries to give Stallone’s character a backstory. That is far more plot work than the other two films combined. Unfortunately, the backstory is paper thin, and the plot is tired. The only other thing that works for this movie is Mel Gibson as the villain. He’s by far the best actor in this piece of crap, and you can see his trademark charisma on screen. It’s too bad he had to have such a racist meltdown, because he really is a good actor.

This film is the worst of the franchise because of the aforementioned glut of characters and lack of development. Also, the movie is subtly racist. In the beginning of the film, they rescue Wesley Snipes. But then Terry Crews gets shot by Gibson and sits out the rest of the film in the hospital. Apparently, the Expendables team is only allowed to have one black character at a time. What a bunch of horseshit. Finally, there is some atrocious CGI, and Stallone outruns a collapsing building. It’s worse than you can imagine.

Verdict: Shitty


Jake Gyllenhaal is racking up a rather diverse filmography. After his weirdo performance in Prisoners, he turned in a giant creeper role in Nightcrawler. This movie has a brilliant concept, one of those things that you wish you thought of so you could have written the film and become a millionaire. The premise is that TV news stations regularly feature footage recorded by freelancers who go to crime scenes or accident sites. They buy the best footage for use on the air.

Gyllenhaal plays a nightcrawler, trolling the seedy L.A. world for crimes or accidents (mostly blood and guts) that he can sell to the highest bidder. At first, he’s low-level, but he has a knack for the work, and quickly does rather well for himself. He manages to get some crazy exclusives, coming upon a murder in progress before the police even know about it. This story thread continues to the end, with Gyllenhaal beginning to manipulate real world events so he can continue to have news stories to sell.

Gyllenhaal plays a fantastic sociopath in this film. He doesn’t care about others, only himself. He manipulates the TV station, he trounces his competition, and he is completely devoid of emotion. His acting was rather amazing, and you completely believe he is this detestable character.

Nightcrawler showcases a world you never knew existed. From now on, whenever you see a news report, you’ll wonder if it was gathered from a real reporter or a freelancer. Gyllenhaal turns in a memorable performance, and the direction is pitch-perfect.

Verdict: Good


Hara-kiri (1962)

Hara-kiri is a 1962 samurai film directed by Masaki Kobayashi and starring Tatsuya Nakadai. Generally speaking, I don’t really like Japanese live action films much. I don’t know why I keep watching them. They are mostly garbage. Fortunately, this one was a lot different.

It’s hard to explain what this movie is about without spoiling everything that happens. So, I’ll just give you the gist of it. During the feudal period in Japan, many samurai were left without masters (ronin). Some would go to the homes of lords and ask for a place where they could commit Hara-kiri to die with honor. Sometimes, though, certain ronin would not kill themselves, and refuse to leave the Lord’s home unless they were paid off.

Nakadai shows up at the home of one such lord. He is a ronin and wants to commit Hara-kiri. The lord is away, so Nakadai speaks with his head counselor. The counselor is uncertain about letting Nakadai commit Hara-kiri, because the last ronin who showed up for this very purpose did so as a bluff to get money.

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Seeking Justice, The Hateful Eight

Seeking Justice

This is yet another New Orleans-based Nicolas Cage movie. I haven’t seen every movie in his oeuvre, but this makes at least four to be set there (The Runner, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Stolen were the other three for those playing along at home). Maybe the dude loves New Orleans, who knows? Anyway, this is a pretty pathetic excuse for a movie. Cage’s wife is raped, and he is approached by a mysterious stranger who promises to get revenge in exchange for a favor later. The bad guy, of course, wants Cage to kill someone, and he refuses. This turns into a boring back-and-forth between Cage and bad guys leading to a shootout in an abandoned mall. The problem with this movie is that it seems to not care about doing anything unique. They have a good setting and a decent premise, but just piss it away for generic plot points. Its ham-fisted plot and straight-forward directing style make it as generic as they come. Cage is perfect, though, he’s never been bad in anything.

Verdict: Shitty

The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino’s newest film proves he doesn’t understand the definition of the word “brevity.” A sprawling three hours in length, his latest Western is a tale of loathsome people stuck in a cabin, riding out a snowstorm. It’s a story that could be taut and thrilling, easily told in a lean 90-minutes, but for some goddamn reason, it’s twice that long. Sally Menke had been Tarantino’s editor from Reservoir Dogs until Inglourious Basterds. After her untimely death, Tarantino has been off the reins. His new editor, Fred Raskin, either doesn’t have the balls or the wherewithal to tell Tarantino when enough is enough.

The movie contains all of Tarantino’s trademarks: rambling speeches, a growing sense of dread, anachronistic music, events out of synch, and ultra-violence. When this movie works, it absolutely works. From the point where Samuel L. Jackson’s character figures out who the bad guys are until the end, the movie is enthralling. But that comes over 90 minutes in. Almost everything up to that point is needless, and getting there is laborious.

The characters are great, the performance are great, and the music, by the legendary Ennio Morricone, is great. The problem is the fucking editing. I needed to take Adderall to stay awake during the first half of this movie, because nothing even remotely fucking interesting happens for the first 90 minutes. That’s an entire feature length! He really needed a better editor here. Even at two hours, this could have been a masterpiece. As it stands now, it’s needlessly bloated. Tarantino often indulges himself, frequently going in delightful tangents, but there is no delightful tangent here, The Hateful Eight just wastes time.

Verdict: Average



Horns, The Seventh Seal


Daniel Radcliffe is trying his hardest to not be typecast as Harry Potter. He is taking all sorts of bizarre roles in order to branch out, and one such role was the lead in the 2013 movie Horns. Radcliffe plays a man accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend. He soon starts to grow a set of horns, which have special powers. Everyone around him can’t help but tell the truth, as well as their darkest secrets. He decides to use this ability to find his girlfriend’s real killer.

The setup is kind of outlandish, but I suppose in the right hands it could have been a great movie. Unfortunately, not much really works. The tone is wildly inconsistent, jumping from horror to comedy to dolefully sad. This mash-up of genres works to the detriment of the film. Had it been able to maintain a consistent tone (any of them would have fine), it would have been much more effective.

Radcliffe himself does a pretty good job. He does have a laughable American accent, but if you forget about that, his performance was strong enough to carry the film. You do get lost in his sense of confusion and anger over the new horns and his desire for revenge. The rest of the cast turn in one-note performances, and Heather Graham is particularly strange as she chews scenery more than anyone I’ve seen in recent memory.

Overall, this is a weak movie. The plot isn’t riveting, the performances are bad, the directing is mediocre, and the tone is all over the place. The only saving graces are the lead’s performance, and the concept. Too bad they couldn’t get it more together.

Verdict: Shitty

The Seventh Seal

Let me just get this out of the way first: The Seventh Seal was not bad enough to qualify for a Classically Shitty review, but it is in no way an ultimate classic film that every movie lover needs to watch.

The Seventh Seal is about a medieval knight who wanders around Europe with no discernible purpose in his life. He meets Death who tells him his time is up. The knight makes a wager with Death: if he can beat Death in a game a chess, he will get to live. Death agrees.

The concept was cool, I’ll give it that, but the chess game is a complete afterthought in what comes next. The knight and his squire wander around meeting people and doing little. The movie showcases various people in different walks of life grappling with hunger, poverty, disease, witchcraft, and other maladies prominent in the Middle Ages. The movie is about humanity rather than the chess game.

You know what? That’s all fine and good, and I don’t have a problem with that. But the chess game should have gotten a more of the spotlight. And, no, I don’t mean we should have literally watched them play chess. I mean, there should have been more tension, a greater sense of growing dread, or even a cat-and-mouse-style of interplay between the knight and Death. As it is, the movie is fairly flat in its emotions. I guess we are meant to feel pity for the downtrodden people, but few other emotions are evoked. The only scene that gave me any kind of emotional reaction was when the knight realizes he is going to lose his chess game, and “accidentally” knocks the pieces off the board in an attempt to cheat.

The film is decent, I suppose, but I really don’t know why it is considered so influential. Nothing about it is particularly special. I suppose I could read up on it, but I choose not to. I’d rather be an uninformed nitwit.

Verdict: Average

October 2016
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