Tag Archives: good rapport

District 13: Ultimatum

Dope.

In this sequel to the French action film, Banlieue 13, also known as District 13, there’s more parkour and straight up ass kicking to the extreme in this film. Taking place 3 years after the events of the first, Ultimatum is a movie that really makes me wanna go back and watch the first. That’s how good this movie was, it makes me wanna watch the first one (although I understood what was going on) just so I can connect the two and rewatch the second one. That’s what’s good with this film. Word.

In this film, David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli reprise their roles as Leito and Damien, the hard hitting cop and parkour specialist. In this movie (and I’m assuming it’s a continued story from the first) there’s still a District 13 in France,

Dave and Cyril, Damien and Leito, back again.

comprised of thugs and gangsters from every major European nation. There’s the Jews, the Blacks (Africans, I’m pretty sure), the Asians, and so on and so forth. In a symbolic representation of the tensions felt between races, this movie really speaks to race relations in a modern society, if left unchecked. With these problems plaguing the French government, the DISS (also known as the Department of Internal State Security) has some big plans for this district.

After busting some dumb thugs who see a man in heels and a wig and assume he’s a woman, Leito (Belle) takes them out one by one with a medicinal gun. He drops them down this¬†conveniently¬†placed sewer grate and looks good all the while doing it. I don’t think it means I’m gay that I found him to be attractive as a woman, I had no idea at first that he was a man, which I think is a bit of a bravo for the makeup crew on this movie set. The movie industry does wonders. Afer a job well done, Leito goes back to his flat and bangs his black girlfriend. Then he’s kidnapped for a drug framing. And this is where the conspiracy starts.

Just a taste of the parkour in the film.

While in jail, Leito calls on his best friend Damien to help get him out, which he thankfully agrees to. With some great parkour moves and some investigating of his own, Damien and Leito discover a plan that will rock all of District 13. Will they be able to stop the dastardly plan? It’s all up to Damien and Leito and their French stunt skills.

What I really liked about this film was the realistic stunts. And the way those realistic stunts flow in between a well delivered plot with some good rapport and dialogue. Leito goes from shoving his foot down some punks’ throats to Damien jumping effortlessly from building to building in order to save the day. And who knew that parkour could save someone’s life? The last scene is quite mind blowing and full of adrenaline pumping destruction from every gangster in the film. Any scene between Damien and Leito is a natural conversation between friends, although I know nothing of the French dialect and its intonations. Just two friends destroying and having a good time doing it.

The classic batch of gangsters.

The idea behind the movie is pretty cool, and I’ve not seen that many French films before. Luc Besson has written some badass films in the past (Transporter Series, The Fifth Element, etc.) and this movie is no exception. You know that old stereotype about French being sissies? Watch this movie and tell me that to my face with a straight look. I was impressed with the wide ranging cast of ethnicities and the

‘Bout to kick some ass, all while savin’ a Van Gogh.

deliverance in lines. There’s a bit of that cheesily delivered lines, and some lines you wouldn’t believe people in government wouldn’t ever say, but this action movie doesn’t go overboard. And that impressed me. With a movie like this that can keep you entertained at every turn with its fast paced filming and action, you can’t do anything but want more of it. And that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Impress me some more France. I’m listening. A solid 7.3 out of 10.


Leaves of Grass (The Film)

I was pleasantly surprised by this film I had never heard anything about. The second I saw Edward Norton playing twins, my mind jumped to Nicholas Cage in Adaptation. And I love that film because of him and everything about it. So I got a little bit excited once I saw both of them interacting together onscreen. A film that centers around the lifestyle of weed and academia, I know one half of. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. It enhanced it with how intelligently represented both sides are.

I think it was best said by whoever put it on Wikipedia when they said this film has everything of the great tragedies. Mistaken identity, betrayal, violence, loss, and all that good shizz. I was hooked the second Ed Norton stepped on camera as his

Two brothers, one person.

intelligent half, Bill Kincaid. He gives such a convincing performance as the well-to-do, goody-goody brother of the family that went off to college to become a thinker. And that scene is completely contrasted by his portrayal as Brady Kincaid, the equally intelligent marijuana grower. Both sides have an intelligent way of speaking (despite the Oklahoma “Southern” accent) and it comes off as very entertaining to hear their rapport.

A great little cast.

So the movie’s about Bill and Brady, the Kincaid twins. One has aspirations of Harvard and the other aspirations of a lucrative weed business. They parted ways long ago after differences in family experience and got on fine. But things haven’t been going so well for Brady. Brady tricks Bill into flying out by faking his own death and meeting up with Brady’s associate, Rick Bolger (Tim Blake Nelson). After everything gets figured out, Bill finds out that Blake needs him to pose as himself while he goes out on some business. All he has to do is visit their mother, Daisy (Susan Sarandon) and everything will be fine. But, of course, that’s not how things turn out.

There’s a great quality of culture clash in this movie when North meets South, East meets West. Although both characters started out in the OK, they have drifted apart and need to reconnect. There’s a great subtle love/seducing interest between Bill and a small town girl, Janet (Keri Russell). She noodles and ropes them broncos and all that shit, and its strange for Bill to find a girl just as knowledgeable when it comes to poetry. There’s a clash between the greater Christian community and the Jews in this movie as well. Big props for Richard Dreyfuss pulling off the kinky role of Jewish mob boss in this film. And never forget about the little guy, a great job by John Pais.

What a great Jewish badass.

People had a problem with the move from the comedic to the dark and tragic, but it didn’t bother me as much. Moving from quirky to murky isn’t as hard as people take it to be in films. This movie leans in that direction from the beginning with the drug running and gang violence and can’t end well because movies have to have that element of loss or gain. If Bill came down and visited his mother and nothing bad happened and things went off without a hitch, this movie would be about 45 minutes shorter. So I give the benefit of the doubt to this film for tiptoeing around that issue.

I was pleasantly surprised how well Tim Blake Nelson directed and wrote this movie, as well as starred in. He pulled off the trifecta well and made a compelling story all at once. From only knowing him as

That’s some great work you’re doing there, Mr. Pendanski.

Mr. Pendanski in Holes, he made one hell of a movie. There’s not a lot of focus on the life Bill had (obviously this movie is meant to change him towards family) and it’s a lot about going back to your roots. I thought Edward Norton did an amazing job in both roles and made me think (if I didn’t know it was Edward Norton) that it was two different people. Let’s jump back 50 years when filming two people at once was more of an amazing thing and blow some minds. Maybe roll up a joint (this movie is really not about weed at all…) and enjoy some Leaves of Grass. Its limited release and Sundance Premier really secured this as a not well known good movie. I’ll give it a 7.7 out of 10.


Collateral (2004)

So last night as I was sitting in my dorm room I thought, “What would be a great movie to watch right now? Something I could review?” And then one word popped into my head. Collateral. This movie is entertaining in a fast-paced, don’t know what’s gonna happen type way, fused with a great plot, characters, and look. I first saw this movie 6 years ago and was blown away by it. I watched it 4 times in a week. It was a movie I hadn’t seen in a while. It was gritty. It was the life of L.A. at night. It was unique.

So, Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) is a taxi cab driver. He works the night shift, more relaxed, better tips, we all know that deal. One day a man named Vincent (Tom Cruise) steps into in taxi and his whole world is changed as he’s taken on a hit spree throughout the burroughs of L.A. As the story unfolds, we find out exactly why Vincent is killing at seemingly random, and we accompany Max on this death-filled ride and we live/die with him. The endings great, definitely worth the watch.

There are a lot of great scenes in this movie, a lot of interesting feels to each hit that Vincent does. You have the ghetto-style hit, the businessman hit, the jazz hit (hilariously and well played) and even the club scene hit. (I hope that’s not giving too much away…) Every murder comes with a different feel to L.A. and creates a real atmosphere for what one city can offer. At every twist and turn, you wonder who’s going to live and die, it’s never certain. And as you go along, unlike most movies, you get development with the action and thrills that gives you emotional stock in the characters.

What I loved is the script of this movie. The rapport between Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx is ridiculously entertaining, witty, and quite thought provoking in its intensity. Max and Vincent, in a weird way, develop a friendship that doesn’t seem to break until the very end, although it may have started out driver/assassin and transformed into kidnapper/hostage. Although I’m sure most situations such as this wouldn’t develop into a long-standing story, this one instance still feels as if it had the capability to occur. And it stands alone as an experience that none would ever forget.

The acting in this movie is quite phenomenal. You don’t necessarily get a feel that you’re watching actors in this situation, but more that these are real cops and thugs going about business as usual. Yes, Tom Cruise is the odd man out in this situation. Hired assassin. Although the salt and pepper hair look is quite good for Tom, you get the feel he’s out of place, although that works perfectly for his character. Jamie Foxx is quite good, but doesn’t give the real feel of a cabbie for me. Granted, I’ve only been in taxis in New York, but I feel that the cool grooves, Marvin Gaye style Jamie portrays in this movie is a bit off. Jada Pinkett-Smith is fantastic as always (one of my favorite actresses. I mean come on. Niobe. Matrix. Ridiculous.) as no nonsense lawyer. Mark Ruffalo, another of my favorite actors, plays a street cop that is always for justice, a kind of character I’m always for. Peter Berg makes a nice little appearance along with Bruce McGill who play cops alongside Ruffalo. Even Javier Bardem makes a great appearance, almost unrecognizable as Felix, the drug running boss. He has a great speech and plays his part amazingly well. Another little fun cameo comes from Jason Statham at the beginning of the movie in the airport scene where he passes off a brief case to Cruise, solidifying Cruise as a badass action star. (I mean, come on, Mission Impossible, Minority Report, Rain Man.)

Overall, the feel of this movie is great. The gritty, wobbly shooting style, mixed with the incredible night scenes give a great late night business/seedy underbelly feel to the film. Although they may give street names and locations to the film, you don’t feel lost or out of the loop as the action progresses. Michael Mann is a fantastic director/producer/writer, and Collateral is no exception. His last three movies, Miami Vice, Collateral, and Public Enemies, all have a conventional gangster style to them that really draws in audiences. (Although I wasn’t a big fan of Public Enemies. Not shot right. Not well recorded.) With this cast and crew, combined with an amazing story, this movie is sure to entertain and give you a feeling of the unexpected of what life brings. 8.7 out of 10.