Tag Archives: 2006

I Love You Phillip Morris

This is one of those movies you don’t think much of when you see it first released, but comes back to surprise you. I had no idea how much homosexuality, adult themes, and gay sex would be portrayed in this film. At all. I sat up late the night I watched this, clutching my pillow, wondering if Ace Ventura was really kissing Obi-Wan. It’s not that I’m opposed to the lifestyle and part of the sexual spectrum these characters lay on. It’s just so surprising to see how committed actors can be to a role they’re given. And it can turn out to be the best of performances.

In I Love You Phillip Morris, Steven Jay Russell (portrayed by Jim Carrey) is a local police man and loving husband to his wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann) and daughter. The

Carrey and Mann, a loving couple?

only thing he can’t get over is that his mother gave him up for adoption when he was a baby. In search of his true mother, he finds that she gave him up… and kept her other children.

With his life’s dream fulfilled and ruined all in one fell swoop, Russell is involved in a bad car accident, changing his life around. He resolves to live his life the way he wanted to for so long. And that life he will pursue will be as a gay man. I thought the first angle of this movie, never having read the accounts of Stephen Jay Russell or anything related, was going to be about him being a con man. I didn’t realize he was going to find his homosexual roots before he met Phillip Morris in jail, but that was just my movie plotline brain buzzing. All the more power to him, because his cons and jail escapes were unbelievably top notch.

A little bit of the lavish life for a pair of gay men.

So Russell meets other men, some sexual interaction (AKA butt sex. I must add this scene, although dramatized, shocked the shit out of me.) and he meets his Latino boyfriend, Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro). After his losing bout with AIDS, Russell goes for one last big haul, and gets himself thrown in jail. But that wasn’t before trying to escape in the only way he knew how. Con city, bro.

While in jail, Russell meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). The gentle and noble disposition of Morris changes something in Russell’s deceiving nature changes. He looks out for someone other than his

The moment they meet. In jail. How touching.

own interests and finds true love in a world that had given up on him and his ways. It is at this point that Russell will do anything in order to get Phillip Morris out of jail and to make a stable life for the both of them. As luxurious as that may come off…

What overall impressed me about this film were Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor’s performances. They were so convincing as a loving couple onscreen that you had to root for them, even if one of them was a con man. The kisses felt real, the holding and touching was that of a chemistry ridden couple. And by couple, I mean just any kind of couple. Gay, bisexual, straight, biracial, you name it, they showed the characteristics of two people in love. By the end of the movie, no matter how homophobic the person watching may be, you came to like and accept Russell and Morris for who they are. That’s something that can cross all lines when it comes to the world of movies.

Some of that steamy man love.

The other thing that I loved about this movie were the cons. And based on real cons, as far as I can see. This entire movie was based on Steve McVicker’s novel about Steven Jay Russell’s life entitled, I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks. These cons are so well played out that you could only believe they would work in the movies. Or, in this case, Texas or one of the Southern states. Yes, a slight against Southerners from the liberal movie makers, who knew? But how well and entertaining they were to watch one right after the other. You felt shame for the law enforcers and businessmen by the end of the film for being so able to be swindled.

This movie takes a whole new approach to the con man, and to relationships in general. How far would one of us go to break their love out of jail? To risk it all one something illegal in order to see their love happy and smiling? That is exactly what Stephen Jay Russell did. And the end of the movie let’s us know that he is serving a life sentence under constant surveillance, while Phillip Morris was finally let out in 2006. This movie of the con man, set in the 1980’s and 90’s, really explores an era that was exploring itself. This movie shows the liberation of the man from his chains, both

Good form.

literally and symbolically. And Jim Carrey gave one of his best quirky drama performances in a long time. I love all of his work, and this is another title to notch in his bedpost. Gay con artist. A well deserved 8.8 out of 10.

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The Gravedancers: Oh Boy Sid…

Unrest in peace my ass...

Selected as one of the “8 Films to Die for” in 2006, The Gravedancers attempts to legitimize itself by considering whatever made it scary in its straight to DVD release as a big deal. What was most frightening about this movie was Marcus Thomas’s acting. Playing Sid Vance, this man’s career should’ve been torched just like his unfortunate ass did in this movie. After witnessing a garishly hilarious trailer on a DVD of other Afterdark horror movies, I just had to get my hands on this one. My friends and I are always up for a good laugh, and I wanted to see if this movie found itself to be a contender.

Let me explain the plot of this movie and what happens as exactly why this movie made me use the phrase “Oh boy, Sid…”

So the movie starts in, hard and fast with this woman getting

We got a little Alicia Keys here..

raped or something. Nobody is there, its starting to look like Final Destination already. I love it in movies when the forces of gravity work against you for no reason! This young tramp gets hanged and her suicide letter, gothically wrapped, drops out of her hand.

Fast forward to a few years afterwards. There are these three friends, Harris (Dominic Purcell), Kira (Josie Maran), and Sid (Marcus Thomas). Their other friend… can’t remember his name, died. Don’t explain why, my best guess? Drunk driving, slammed a pole. I mean, in the next scene,

What's goin' down, Dominic?

all you get from this group of friends is that all three of them drink excessively and go out hard doing strange things. Kira and Harris get frisky and Dominic Purcell is too much of a baller from Prison Break to care. I lost respect for this English actor today, never having really seen him in anything.

So they all get frisky and decide to go break into the cemetery where their friend is buried. First problem. This is a friend group with one girl and three guys. A bit strange even in college, and I would’ve loved to see how they

You feelin' like some crunk dancing right here?

incorporated a skank of Kira’s magnitude into the Bro-Circle. I guess it was fitting that some deranged old Father McCready rapist/killer was the grave she danced on… Second problem. They all go dance on graves and decide it would be best to recite an incantation in a black envelope. And whose supreme fault is all this? Sid’s. It will always and forever be Sid’s dumbass fault that anything would ever happen to this group of players.

Your part is unimportant.

Then strange things start happening. And it even affects Harris’s wife, Allison (Clare Kramer). Why, you may ask? Who knows, but she for sure didn’t dance some old mamba over any stiffs. But the cat gets freaked and some old decrepit woman is sleeping up in her bed, making all sorts of moaning noises, trying to make everything look bad for old Harris. And she gets the worst of it. Jesus, that’s messed up. Then Kira gets schank destroyed and bitten?!?! Oh well, she got the worst out of all of them.

Sid’s little meister of destruction lights real fires in his room (not spectral fires Vincent, whatever the Hell that means…) and nobody can seem to figure out

What's good, Velma Culpepper?

what actions could have caused this. At least Sid had the good sense to hire some paranormal investigators. Vincent (Tcheky Karyo) and Culpepper (Megahn Perry) as I like to call her. Or, respectively, the man with the military grade Humvee that he uses for pleasure and Velma from Scooby Doo. These two straight Inspector Gadgets play the haunting by the rules and figure out that the graves they danced on, belonged to felons.

This can't be considered scary, can it? Who dies and looks like that?

BIG PROBLEM RIGHT THERE. When has anyone (and I’m sure this may be true) ever heard of a section of a cemetary devoted to undesirables? In a surburban area where it doesn’t seem to have any history? They just line up three unrelated individual dead parole walkers right next to each other without even considering putting them next to their families? At least the young boy for God sakes…

So, as everyone knows, you gotta go dig up the body of the person who is haunting you and bury that shit in a shallow grave. Every piece mind you. So they go do that, they all get choked out by their stalkers and they resort to plan C. Let’s all hole up in Vincent’s great big mansion that looks straight out of The House on Haunted Hill and hope we’ll survive until the morning. Because everyone knows that ghosts ebb and flow with the tides and their powers. And that every villainous ghost wears a big old mask with a big old plastic grin on it. Axe murderer, rapist, and a kid who bursts into flame. Let those games begin.

Calm down Allison... You'll live.

Some crazy shit happens and the military humvee saves the day. Smashing walls, setting Sid on fire, it’s all that I’ve ever wanted in a movie. Throw me some more of those jealous cat fights and overdramatic acting. Deliver some more bad lines Sid, I dare you. But it doesn’t change the fact that movies like this are enjoyable. It had a few jumpy moments and some “Oh no they didn’t…” moments. And, if only if only it considered itself a horror comedy, I would’ve truly understood. Anddd… screw that strange old cemetery foreman at the end. His point is pointless. As was most of this movie. Here you go Gravedancers. 3.8 out of 10. If only for the comedy…

Deal with this right here.


Paprika: The Inception Anime

So based on my new obsession with anime, my mom picked this little anime film up for me from the library. I had not expectations and I was delightfully surprised. This anime film, which got positive reviews across the board in 2006, is an anime about dreams. In my opinion, anime is one of the few mediums that can accurately depict dreams. (Nice attempt Christopher Nolan, but this film came 4 years earlier than your Inception.) If I had seen this before I had seen Inception, I would’ve considered Inception a rip-off (sort of is). But it’s comparing apples to oranges. And that’s the way in which this anime stands out.

Paprika is a story that appears to take place in modern day. A Japanese technology company has created a piece of technology known as the DC Mini. These apparatus is used by psychologists to analyze the dreams of patients firsthand in order to diagnose and treat their patients. The one problem? The machine hasn’t been finished. And then it’s stolen. So the members of the company must go on what appears to be a wild goose chase in order to find who stole them before dreams become fused with reality.

That’s what makes this film unique. At any moment, the characters in the film could be dreaming, awake or asleep, and the

What's going on here? Probably why it's rated R...

mind-bending elements that present themselves in this film as the characters navigate the dreams is done beautifully. The film incorporates a love of parades, movies, and the thrill of flight all in one. Although I myself do not dream in terms of surreality, I could appreciate the elements of dreaming used that most people experience. The vivid colors and feeling of a warped reality and drawn beautifully and the movements of the characters are animated fluently and gracefully, something I’ve found that some anime have trouble with. (I guess it all depends on the budget and skill of the artists…)

Yuri Lowenthal. Fat, but good.

The voice actors are decent, most notably is Yuri Lowenthal. I didn’t pick up on his voice immediately, but he is one of those A-list voice actors that get a lot of work today. I think now would be a good time to explain voice acting in terms of skill. In the past (1970’s to 1990’s I believe) voice actors were picked more often for the sound of their voice rather than their acting skills. (It’s like choosing a sports announcer.) But in recent decades, voice actors are being chosen for their versatility and their acting skills. It’s this change that has given a lot of credit to an industry that is not seen as all that credible in America. In a more dramatic sense, in comparison to cartoon voice actors, these actors can perform dramatic as well as comedic and everything in between. And this gives us a better viewing experience because sound is half the battle in anime. Big league hitter companies in anime dubbing are ones like Funimation and Aniplex.

Paprika. Worth the jump.

Other than that, there is a certain cute element to Paprika. If you watch the ending romance you’ll understand. Characters are thrown into each other’s dreams and the underlying feelings that are discovered help bring a happy ending. I do enjoy those snapshot films where a problem arises and returned to normal through understanding and conflict resolution. A “slice of life” if you will. And that’s what Paprika is. A little slice of dreams. 8.1 out of 10.