Margin Call: I’m Back to Reviews Everyone!

After a long semester of work, homework, and plain more work, I have come back to the world of review blogs. Thanks to those of you out there who come back to check and look forward to reading the inane and ridiculous things I say. And now it’s time for a little movie review. This one (that I watched wayyyyy back in August) is called Margin Call. Based on the events of the 2008 mortgage crisis, this independent film boasts a

Look at Spock and those well defined eyebrows.

star studded cast that focuses more on the characters and their interactions than it does on the action and big picture scheme. If you are looking for car chases and guns, look elsewhere. This movie gets its bite from the dialogue.

So Zachary Quinto (star of Heroes and that almost unrecognizable role as Spock) plays Peter Sullivan, a low level employee that sees the company he has been striving so hard for begin to unexplainably fall apart around him. His boss, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is fired for no discernible reason, leaving Sullivan with a program he was working on that show what we have come to know as the great 2000’s recession (I just call it that… but not really). After some late night calculations, Sullivan finds that his company is really in a lot of deep feces. I’m talking mounds of excrement with no rain boots.

A role Spacey was born to play… A lot…

So a whole meeting is called as you see the chain of command called in to this banking company. It starts with Paul Bettany’s character (my favorite of the entire movie. He’s one of those unspoken characters that just gets it.) and works itself all the way up to Jeremy Irons as the company’s CEO. I was really surprised that for an independent film such as this that so many good actors would sign on, but for a role like this that portrays life in its true form, I’m not as surprised.

But could I even say anymore about the star studded cast? I already mentioned Quinto, Tucci, Irons, and Bettany. That’s solid right there. But throw in Kevin Spacey? Now we’re just getting American Beauty high class on this one. And he’s just as brutal as a upper class boss in this one as he was in Horrible Bosses. But he does have a heart, mind

A bit of that trading floor drama.

you. You got Simon Baker as the hardass playboy with an ego issue that wants to keep it all under wraps. Demi Moore as the manipulated female staff member. Her unsure performance keys right in to a cutthroat business that leaves no room for the timid. Throw in Aasif Mandvi (without any comedic relief, unfortunately) and you have your top billed cast right there.

And what’s more, there is some really great dialogue and monologues in this movie. First one that comes to my mind is the one done by Stanley Tucci towards the end of the movie. His reevaluation of his entire life up to the point he gets fired is true and heartfelt, even if he is approaching it from the way in which he helped out a town commute from West Virginia to Ohio over a bridge. Gotta give him his props for memorizing all those numbers. And basically any line out of Paul Bettany’s mouth just sounds like privileged few from New York’s best areas. His snarky attitude and calm assessment of the downfall of banks during the crisis was just spot on. You need characters like him in movies to really gain perspective on the overall plot.

A star studded cast of dramatic proportions.

Combine all of these great interactions with greatly portrayed characters and you have yourself a movie that is character-driven. But it’s not just that. How could a movie about the logistics of the mortgage crisis be so interesting? This movie barely talks in actual economical jargon. Well, there is some, but I was enraptured by the characters to notice too much. What this movie effectively does is put real human faces to the upper management devastated by this terrible crisis in our society, and help people realize that not everyone who later benefited from the liquidations and lay-offs were such terrible people. (Sure Jeremy Irons was, but look at Kevin Spacey in comparison. Perfect contrast.)

So I would encourage fans of John Grisham bo0k-to-movie remakes and real life drama films to check this one out. It’s not that well known, but it’s worth checking out if you’re not all about the comedy and action. Real intellectual shizz. Margin Call gets a 8.4 out of 10 from me. Get at me guys, I’m back into reviewing!

Bring it home, Tucci.

 

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The Dark Knight Rises: I Was Born In It…

Sorry I’m a bit late on the uptake with reviewing this movie, but I did see it, so I do need to review it. This movie, as the whole series does, holds a lot of mixed feelings with me. People moan and complain about the past Batmans (never had nipples, I get it), and rant and rave about how this series is the end all be all of Batman fandom. That’s great, neat-o. People have all different kinds of preferences when it comes to comic book

Hello there, Mr. Batman (in a Sean Connery voice).

heroes and the types of ways that they’re represented, but get off my back when I say I am a bit more nostalgic and partial to the original Tim Burton films. Jesus…

But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy these movies. We all must remember that these are movies about fictionalized characters from comic books made mostly for the demographic of children to teenagers. Being in college, I can claim, just on the border, that it still applies to me. And hell, these movies only apply to people my age they’re so damn dark these days. I never read The Dark Knight series, and I don’t plan to (not a big comic person). Christopher Nolan can do what he wishes, but just because he made Memento that film kids orgasm over, doesn’t mean he’s the best director and visionary of all time.

A worthy, catlike foe.

And therein lies where my grudge starts. I enjoyed Batman Begins for its iconically classic cheesy action lines and origin story. For a lot of other fans, that movie is shit in comparison to The Dark Knight. Sure, in hindsight, any movie is better than its predecessor (very rarely). But please, respect the originators. The Dark Knight was good as well. Great story, not the best film of all time, because remember, only dramas and artsy films win Oscars, and as much as I would like that to be changed, it won’t. So stop pretending that this movie deserved Oscars, it ain’t gonna happen Nolan.

And then, it all started. Nolan made Inception. The stupid dream within a dream jokes started. This film may be visually pretty, but in lacks when all the hype built around its release left it wanting something. And then, as if to pay homage to a film that has nothing to do with the Batman series, to service the fans, Nolan does something I find strange and deplorable. He puts Marion

The Dark Inception Rises?

Cotillard, Tom Hardy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt all into the Batman series. With plenty of other candidates out there to try out, he did that whole in-circle movie inclusion thing. All I’m saying is, if I were a director, I would want to work with lots of varying talent and not stick the same old actors into every movie. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Nolan replaced Christian Bale with DiCaprio…

Now that my rants over, let me start a conflicted review about The Dark Knight Rises that people probably won’t read because I’ve already forced out everyone who lives and dies for this series anyways…

So, I gotta say this movie was really hit or miss for me. I love Christian Bale. Plain and simple. His depiction of Batman is

Christian Bale, may you never change.

satisfactory, and one of the only things that keeps me watching these movies. Sure, he does the whole deep voice thing, but isn’t that to entirely mask his identity from other people? He messes up once in the movie by continuing to do the voice although Catwoman knew who he was. But maybe it’s just a mentality thing.

The other thing that made me watch this movie, an amazingly and surprisingly good performance from Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I’ve loved her ever since The Princess Diaries, and this movie solidifies that she is an actress of all genres. She’s witty and sensual in a way I didn’t know she could be, but not a pushover or bimbo as some comic book villainesses are depicted. A perfect counterpart and conflicted villain of Robin Hood status for this movie.

The only other reason I liked this movie? My adoring nature for

She even makes the orange look classy.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I’m talking Brick, even throwbacks to when I used to watch 3rd Rock From The Sun occasionally. The Lookout, 50/50, his hits just keep rollin’ on. He was one of those sleeper actors that, once given the chance, showed he could do great things. And his twist reveal at the end of this movie was worth waiting for.

Now come the hang-ups I had about this film. First off, it was too long. I don’t know what makes Christopher Nolan pack so much material into a movie I felt could be 2 hrs tops, but he exhausts every single thing he can thing to put in a script and doesn’t understand the meaning of “edit”. Once it hits Batman in the prison of doom, I started to fall asleep. After the last battle, I woke up for the unnecessarily long wrap up ending.

Do you see the likeness, brother?

Bane. Plain and simple, the way Bane is represented in this movie. It’s a big step up from the poison addled Bane of the Clooney times, but it ends up amount to little better than a lackey. I had a friend tell me all about how Bane was so smart and could beat Batman physically as well as mentally in the Dark Knight Series. What do I find out? Bane is a pawn in a much bigger game. And what’s with that voice? Did Sean Connery get a Vader mask and forget to go through puberty? This comically funny voice ruined any chance at making him a legitimate contender for good villain in this movie. Cillian Murphy’s appearance again as Scarecrow in this movie was more entertaining and evil than Bane was. Sad.

Marion Cotillard. Her twist ending as yet another villain biatch in a Christopher Nolan film saddened me. It felt like an unnecessary cop out and exhaustive effort on the writer’s part to make this a cyclical film. Even if this is how the Dark Knight comics went, change it. It sucked.

Throw in a bunch of unnecessary explosions that would make Michael Bay proud and you have a fireworks ending to this

There’s a lot of debris in this movie…

film with a cliffhanger stuck on for good measure. (Seriously, people complain about how explosions take over substance in Bay’s films? Nolan should take a quick peek in the mirror.)

That’s not to say the movie wasn’t entertaining. As most action films for me (and this is nothing more than a “psychological” action film) there are good and bad parts. This was really divided down the middle for me. I would watch it again, and it would become one of those classic movies me and my roommate quote to pass the time. I don’t mean to over emotionally disrespect on anyone who really liked this movie. It may have just hit me at a bad time. Only time truly will tell. But, as for the overall delivery of this movie, in all its components, I’ll give it a 6.6 out of 10.


Bitch Slap! Yeah! It’s THAT BAD.

I don’t know how much I’m gonna be able to say about this movie without just shitting all over it. This movie, in one and only one sense, is bad. Look, I’m as big of a Kevin Sorbo fan as the next guy (Hercules 2016), but this movie didn’t have enough of that sword wielding hunk. Sure, he can make fun of himself, but there wasn’t enough of him to make fun of.

So there are these three hook- I mean… women. Trixie (Julia Voth) is a stripper, somehow dragged into the events of the two other con

How much does it hurt to push those boobs together?

artist/undercover femme fatales. Hel (Erin Cummings), called this name for her flamboyantly red hair I guess, is the head of the operation, meanwhile Camero (America Olivo) is a hotheaded gun pusher that bends to her lesbian will. (Every woman in this movie is a lesbian of some sort. The odds, right?)

The whole plot of this movie takes place in a desert next to a trailer of some guy who the girls shoot in order to find information but

Sorry Gage… Bang Camero.

obviously hotheaded Camero can’t handle her itchy trigger finger. Too bad Gage (Michael Hurst; this guy played Hercules almost more than Kevin Sorbo…). With in-party fighting and an unnecessary water fight scene with slathered boobage, this movie takes the 1960’s and 70’s sexploitation films to a whole new level. To the point where not even the plot matters, the acting is terrible, and the story is nonsensical.

For the record, I hated the flashbacks throughout the movie that explained what they were doing here. There was no need for that explanation, let alone a twist based on the love relationships of the three women with each other. There is a 7 or 8 minute long lesbian make-out scene in this movie. No joke. Sure, I’m a guy and what guy doesn’t want to see that every once in a while in a film… but I grew bored. Really bored. I’m surprised I didn’t just turn the movie off. Thanks for instant streaming at my fingertips, Netflix.

With no budget and just a bunch of slutty bitch-slapped biatches, Kevin Sorbo literally is the standout in this movie. The

Why couldn’t you two have stolen this movie away?

side characters had more depth and a more interesting look than the main skanks. And I’m not using these words to degrade women. This is literally the dialogue I heard throughout the movie, drivel that entered my ear holes for some reason and stuck there and won’t seem to eek out. But I’m looking at you, William Gregory Lee as Hot

Love always, Kevin Sorbo.

Wire and Minae Noji as Kinki. You should’ve just killed them execution style and stolen the movie. Much better.

So I was bored to tears and embarassed for an over-embellished parody of the exploitation films of a yesteryear. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and I wouldn’t wish watching this movie on anyone else. I was expecting Grindhouse quality. I didn’t realize I would get softcore bore. Oh well, lesson learned. 2.3 out of 10, purely for pretty women.


Valhalla Rising: Silence Galore

Silence is not the immediate reaction I had to this movie. I was in shock and awe by the brilliant landscapes and brutal style of the film, but not silenced because of some distaste for this movie. You have to be silent in order to soak this movie in. It’s not often that a movie deals entirely with the image presented in order to tell a story. This movie, in a phrase, is old school. This may as well be a badass silent action film. That’s exactly what I took away from it.

And this is all Nicolas Winding Refn’s intent. After having seen (and reviewed) his other

Does this actor never have a left eye?

film, Drive, I don’t think I can get enough of what this Danish director is bringing to the table. With an archaic and visceral feel to this movie, it plays out in a slow manner, but many of the scenes will stand out to you in your mind way after its all been played out. Same thing goes for Drive too.

If I had to guess how many pages the dialogue took up in this film, I’d probably say a total of 5-6 pages. And that’s all it took to portray the characters onscreen. You know One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) is a hardass who never found his voice and expresses himself

The brutality of the Danish.

in violent outbursts. You even have a young child actor, named The Boy (Maarten Stevenson) who understands the idea of dramatic timing and delivery in this film. And that’s rare in such a adult themed film. Saying less gives so much more, and that’s what this film knew how to do.

Basic plot, everyone?

So, One-Eye (Mikkelsen) is a slave held in Scotland against his will. He is passed from barbaric tribe to barbaric tribe in order to fight and kill for the honor of the tribe that owns him. He is such a good fighter, that he has to be leashed up in order to set him at the same level as other fighters. Sleeping in a cage all night with little food or contact with others, he befriends The Boy (Stevenson), who shows him the only kindness he’ll ever know.

Upon being switched between tribes, One-Eye uses the almost-prophetic visions in red he receives at the beginning of

Refn and the gang!

the film in order to kill and escape. Kidnapping The Boy, he heads off for freedom. But not before he encounters a roving band of Crusaders looking and itching for a Crusade to wage. With One-Eye and The Boy in tow, the Christians take them on a boat ride to Hell, and eventually the new world.

As I said earlier, the locales are what impressed me most about this movie. Being shot in Scotland, I had little basis for what it actually looked like in a real context, and so this movie works on all levels for Scotland and America. The absence of human life really works well to isolate the feeling of the film, heightening the chances of death and lack of social norms in a clearly barbaric society. No one is safe in this

It doesn’t get more unsettling than this.

film, and it almost makes you feel uncomfortable when people turn on each other for survival.

Mikkelsen, that one-eyed badass from Casino Royale, is just as good in this movie as well. The cast is relatively unknown to me, which really works for this movie. Because who would be recognizable way back in 1000 A.D.? I just wanna give a lot of credit to the special effects and

Picturesque.

make-up people as well in this movie, because I’ve never seen a more realistic head bashing than in this movie. Visually brutal to the point where your eyes bleed. Hardcore shizz.

The overall delivery was right up my alley. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for an artistically brutal and human psyche revealing film. It’ll make people uncomfortable, but it’ll be an unforgettable experience in the end. No real complaints, 8.9 out of 10.


Arang: Creepy Korean Folklore

…Not Japanese Cinema, mind you.

Now here’s a movie that stood out to me. The South Koreans did it again in this creepily well done horror movie with a great plot and ending twist to boot. Arang is based on a Korean folk tale about a young woman who was conspired to be raped and stabbed to death by her evil nanny. After succeeding, the corpse of the girl would come back to haunt the area in which she was killed. This movie, more or less, is loosely based on that. In a very similar vein to the Thai film, Shutter, this movie is a revenge/horror/thriller/detective film all in one. Let’s get it goin’.

The film starts off in a bit of the surreal, with the main detective

A haunting and surreal feel for a great thriller.

character, So-young (Song Yun-ah) encountering a salt storehouse she’s never seen before. A young girl is outside crying in the rain. Obviously this has some significance to the story right? You would be right in assuming so.

Next we move to a series of murders that appear to be the work of a vengeful ghost out to kill those who wronged her. With the help of her rookie forensics partner, Hyun-gi (Lee Dong-wook), So-young must

The dynamic duo strikes again!

discover the reason for these supernatural killings. The ending may leave you in a state of shock, and I was very happy with the way everything turned out. It’s up there with the satisfying endings of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy (currently re-watching now).

The acting in this movie was fairly good. You can always see the American influence on South Korean films and the like (i.e. Gangnam Style being so successful here and whatnot. Particularly, I’m in love with Hyuna). The crime aspect of it and the justice behind it is very

This keeps coming up about the folklore, and I keep laughing at it.

American based, and I hate to attribute that to the Korean War. It’s a jagged pill to swallow, but Koreans just do American style dramatic films better. More than 20 films have affirmed this for me.

It was creepy, but not to the point of scaring me with any of the disturbing images or frightening scenes. This was an underrated film to find on Netflix, and, as per usual, I thank Netflix for providing me with an adequately good selection of foreign films. You can never go wrong with Tartan Extreme films either.

It has been a while since I’ve seen this one, but I do plan on re-watching/buying it. It was a worthwhile film to watch. So check it out at least once. And don’t ever be crushed to death by salt. 8.1 out of 10.


Election: Chinese Gangsters

After a long hiatus, I’m back with a vengeance (hopefully) after some getting back into the swing of things here at college. This is my senior year, and this blog better take off, or I’m gonna be an English major out roaming the streets like a drifter. That’s kind of a joke and kind of not… Anyways…

I don’t remember this movie that clearly, but if I watched it, I like to give a little bit of an impression on it. From what I remember, Election is a Chinese movie about the election of a gang member to lead a sect of the Triads. It’s Lok (Simon Yam) versus Big D (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), and the stakes are high. The old ass bastards of the Triads select the member to lead the gang for two years, and the world is a changing. With Lok’s commitment to hard work and Big D’s commitment to bribes, it all comes down to who sides with who.

There’s some inter-gang fighting, some martial arts, and a whole lot of dramatic dialogue (from what I remember). The movie was a bit dark, but certain parts lagged when it came to moving the film along. It really didn’t stand out to me, and that’s probably why it hasn’t stuck in my head these last two months. I’ll probably just leave it at that. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and I’m sure it was a good movie, as most foreign films are. The ending was memorable, and it was cool to see a foreign perspective on the Triads instead of an American one.

Just wish I could remember more… 6.7 out of 10.


My Rifftrax Experience in Theaters

A few weeks ago I was treated to an amazing experience in theaters that I never thought would happen.

I am a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I would wake up early on the weekends in order to watch this show on Syfy (known back in the day as Sci-Fi… I think…) and laugh until my sides hurt. The basic premise of the show? A group of three talented off-the-cuff comedians would sit down to a really crappy older sci-fi/fantasy film and dub over it, making fun of the situations with one liners and references. Coming from a very nerdy sense of humor, this show really hit home.

And then, as if out of nowhere, MST3K reappeared on my radar. And this time, in theaters. On several events, the guys from Rifftrax would simulcast live to Regal Cinemas all over the country and riff things live that they thought of during the movie. At first I was hesitant to watch this among other people (most of them were sad and fat nerdy people), but then I forgot that as the lights went down. 80% of the jokes were well timed and golden, leaving me with tears in my eyes. My whole family loved it and I was over the moon about this fantastic return to my childhood.

In this particular instance, we watched Manos: The Hand of Fate. Considered one of the worst movies of all time, I was dying at the movie and everything said. It was wonderful.

For more on the movie, check out the link below to Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manos:_The_Hands_of_Fate

I loved the experience and I would encourage other sci-fi/fantasy/nerd culture fans who love great high brow comedy to come to these events and laugh with everyone else. It’s like coming to see a comedian, and walking away with a great movie watching experience. My experience, 10 out of 10. The bomb.

Thanks a ton, MST3K.