Tag Archives: jail

The Next Three Days

This is one of those movies I had never heard anything about when it was first released, and became pleasantly surprised when I finally watched it. Russell Crowe is usually always a solid actor for me. A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Body of Lies, etc. He always comes across as clutch. So why would I have not checked out this great little thriller flick about a desperate man/dad trying to break his wife out of jail? The premise may be a little bit

An actor of ballin’ proportions.

unbelievable, but I always like to believe in a little bit of luck and a stroke of genius.

So the movie starts out on a pretty iffy note. A cat fight between working women. Elizabeth Banks plays Russel Crowe’s wife in this one, Lara Brennan. John Brennan is a well to do educator at a local school (or college, something or other) and loves his wife very much. But she appears to be a bit of a hothead. Arguing about boobs and whatnot, the night ends on a sour note. After the next day and some hours of work later, Elizabeth Banks returns home, finding some suspicious blood on her trench coat. Minutes later she is arrested by the police and charged with the murder of her boss. The hinging evidence on her conviction? A popped button on the “supposed other killer’s” jacket.

A happy family (without Ty Simpkins).

The years start to pass and John and his son Luke (Ty Simpkins) must cope without a wife and mother. Luke seems not to care and dumb old Elizabeth Banks seems tired and can’t even get an appeal. Even with Daniel Stern as your lawyer, Russell Crowe can’t catch a break. So he decides to do the unthinkable. Break his wife out of jail in an ingenious way. With some help from the great convict cameo by Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe has mere minutes to break his wife out and get out of the country. Can he do it?

Obviously I’m not gonna tell you the ending. But Russell Crowe is a straight boss in this film, as his ridiculous commitment to acting

A great scene a la The Fugitive. Looks like Banksy is a little worried about her acting career…

always shines in all his films. Elizabeth Banks, I could go without her being in any other movies. Her blonde and semi-intelligent facade is stellar-ly annoying and without question one of my least favorite actresses. It’s a good thing she’s in jail for most of this movie, because she has next to no screen time. Perfect. Ty Simpkins breaks onto the screen as the catatonic wonder, just as he did in Insidious. That kid could get any job… as a coma victim.

What I liked about this film? The preparation and plot that went into the execution of this film. It’s not really geared around action and drama, it’s more about the cold calculation that goes into doing such a risky thing. He’s almost caught multiple times and he even throws up because of how scared and nervous he is. He’s an average Joe and it

Liam Neeson, talking about breaking out of jail… and finding his daughter… and training Batman… and punching wolves…

shows in his frailty. But he’s a smart guy. And what I loved is that he used research and even Youtube to do some serious damage in the breakout department.

The acting across the board is pretty good in this film. Russell Crowe, ballin’. Elizabeth Banks, regrettable. Ty Simpkins, coma. Liam Neeson, badass as per usual since Taken. They even gave some opportunity to a deaf man who can ride a motorcycle like a boss. One thing that baffles me though is the repeated use of Olivia Wilde. She seems like a beautiful and kind person, but… what the hell? That woman has no remarkable acting skills. Dat shizz needs to stop, and now. I don’t like movies that use eye candy as a selling point. (Ahem *every Megan Fox film ever created* Cough) Oh well…

I tried to believe the situation despite the extenuating circumstances, and it still comes out to be a pretty solidly entertaining film. It didn’t

Could you leave your child at a gas station? All catatonic and whatnot?

do that well by critics’ standards, but to hell with professionally paid critics. I feel like most critics (older people than me, of course) have lost touch with what makes a successful and entertaining film these days. And with a Hollywood machine that makes things for profit, I can say without a doubt that the “art of film” is dead and really never was a factor in my lifetime. I know it’s harsh and critical of me to say, but that’s just how I view films. I am a pretty jaded person about the whole thing, I guess. But I love films anyways. Judge me if you want, let me know.

So I think of The Next Three Days as one of those films you show to new groups of friends every once in a while. It’s a thrill ride with well thought out planning and has a semi-satisfying ending. Comment on what you think about this post, but I’ll give Russell and his ballin’ acting in this one a 8.1 out of 10.

Do you like my North Face?

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Drive: New and Interesting Filmmaking

I had heard good things about Drive from my film major friends in college before I found this on Netflix. I was hesitant at first, (most kids at my college in the film department have very particular ideas of what good films are. I like what is considered not so good of a film.) but gave it a shot. My girlfriend fell asleep about 20 minutes in (she was tired from work) but I sat up enraptured in what unfolded before me in this film. In a whole new way, Nicolas Winding Refn created a film you wouldn’t normally see ever.

So there’s Ryan Gosling playing The Driver, a quiet and modest stunt driver who has grown up in L.A. on cars. (This is based on James Sallis’ novel, Drive.) Securing Hollywood stunt driver jobs through his friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston of Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad), we see a film about Hollywood within L.A.’s

A reserved driver with pimpin gloves.

Hollywood. Directed by a Danish director, we gain this insight from a foreigner’s perspective in a unique way of directing and cinematography. But, more importantly, this film has got some major production value on it with all the researching and immersed creation that came with it between Refn and Gosling. I was impressed.

A tragically beautiful mother.

So The Driver meets Irene (Carey Mulligan) a tragic and beautiful single mother with a husband in jail. They have a solemn and quiet love affair (no sex or anything like that, Refn didn’t want to waste film time on showing anything related to love… I think…) the two connect. The Driver wants to protect Irene and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). And then her husband Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac) comes back. Getting involved with the wrong people, gangsters on all sides, The Driver has to navigate a world he’s only seen in the movies. And, being a stunt actor in a movie, he’s prepared to make the leap. With a car.

I really liked all the characters in this movie. Plain and simple. I loved Oscar Isaac’s small role in the film. He comes off as this dangerous and irritated character that has a sneaking suspicion at all times. (He reminded me of his twisted

Gotta love Oscar Isaac.

performance in Sucker Punch.) Bryan Cranston played a great broken man in this film who’s trying to look out for others but becomes collateral damage. Ron Perlman was finally given a chance to do a spectacular movie that gave him great lines and a menacing character in this one as well. Looks like Hellboy’s becoming more devilish… And

All of the violence.

one of the standout performances, other than Ryan Gosling, comes from Albert Brooks, voice of Nemo’s dad in Finding Nemo. To hear that voice on such a wicked character was chilling.

But there were a lot of interesting elements in the creation of this movie. The script is about 80 pages, but most of it must have been camera direction and actions, because I would say there’s less than 5 to 10 typed pages of dialogue in the whole film. Ryan Gosling plays such a reserved and quiet character that he never really needs to speak, only act (just like a hired driver would). The first sequence in the film when Gosling is driving the two robbers to their destination was well planned out and quite poetic in its feel and delivery. No dialogue, no need for speech, only action.

Without much dialogue, the film had this feel of tension throughout. You feel tension in the relationships, in the way the business is conducted. And then you get the gunshots. Every once in a while in the film the action builds to this ridiculously tense crescendo where something has to happen. Almost like a jumpy

Spectacular.

scene in a horror movie. And wow, after that first gunshot in the movie, this film really pops off (pun intended). But then it returns to a tension filled lull (still not much dialogue) and you’re just waiting for the next powder keg laden with the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s agonizing at the same time that it’s so damn interesting!

You get great performances with a great premise delivered more with action than with speech. It’s a unique style you never really see, and I’m glad this did well at film festivals. This reminds me, and I don’t know why, but it makes me wanna watch Refn’s other work, most notably Val Halla Rising, which is now on Netflix. Next review here I come! But Drive is a wonderful film. Superb in all its unusual aspects. 9.5 out of 10.

 


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.


Arrested Development: The Show that Should Never Have Been Cancelled

But really. More please.

So by now I expect this show to be well known despite its cancellation. Arrested Development, one of the best shows on television from 2003-2006, was (and is) one of my favorite shows. I recently re-watched this and thought it would be good to give it a review it deserves despite its cancellation. I know nobody really gives this show bad reviews, but I just wanted to buffer reviews that already gave this show an amazing name. With the rumors (or preparations) for a movie to be released in 2012 (if we all make it) I think this would be the perfect time to talk about Arrested Development.

Now, Ron Howard, the executive producer and narrator of this show, is pretty well known if you don’t

Ron Howard. Thank you.

already know. And he’s quite great. (Some of my favorite films, A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man, are Ron Howard creations. Even the Dan Brown novels-films are quite great.) This combined with Mitchell Hurwitz,’s writing, (writer of such comedies as Golden Girls and The John Larroquette Show) makes for one of the best shows to ever grace television. Both of these guys, combined with the amazingly comedic acting talents of the main cast, leaves me laughing every time I watch any of the three seasons.

So, basic plot. Michael Bluth, the middle of 3 sons of the Bluth family, has to take over for his father’s business. The reason? His father has committed a number of felonies that have placed him in prison, awaiting trial. This structures the basis of the show. The rest of the show? The Bluth family. You have Gob, the failure, incompetent magician, kicked out of his own magical order. Lindsey Bluth, Michael’s twin sister and fair-weather activist. Buster Bluth, the momma’s boy younger brother and complete baby. Along with these are Tobias Funke, the failed therapist and husband of Lindsey. Their child Maebe, is the rebellious wild child. And Michael’s son George Michael has a thing for her. But don’t worry, he’s a goody two shoes, and he’d never step out of line. But everyone steps out of line once in a while. And that’s where the humor comes from. The unabashed comedy that flows from every character, every pun, every situation, and every ironic event.

Best cast. Ever.

And who delivers these genius lines? One of the best casts out there. First, you have Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth, the main focus of the show and the one holding the family together. Bateman’s cynical nature and pessimistic attitude stands in contrast to every other character and their lack of ethical and hard working spirit. Then there’s Portia de Rossi, Michael’s twin Lindsey. She’s the lazy good for nothing who brings the ditzy activist role to life. She literally understands nothing. And she’s great. It makes it funny that her and Tobias’s relationship really doesn’t work because she’s really a lesbian in real life. And her and Tobias never do it. Ironic, huh? Perfect fit though. There’s Will Arnett as Gob, my

Gob (Will Arnett) . Genius

favorite character. He’s the most offensive, hilarious, and unabashedly direct character who loves women, one-upping his brother, and performing magic to the “Final Countdown.” Michael Cera plays Michael’s son, George Michael. (Funny name, huh?) This show functioned as Michael Cera’s jumping off point for more work, but he’s never really done anything as good as Arrested Development. Alia Shawkat plays Maebe, George Michael’s forbidden love and cousin. She is one of the more grown up members of the family but always reverts back to her childishly rebellious state. Tony Hale plays Buster Bluth, the baby of the family. He’s great as one of the stranger characters and really plays the part so well. David Cross plays Tobias Funke, the failed therapist that seems gay and is a never-nude (Check that bit of news out, why don’t you.). Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter fill out the family as George and Lucille Bluth, the parents and more dysfunctional family members than most. With their controlling natures and absurd sex drives, these two really bring out where their children’s bad behavior came from.

And that’s really about all there is that needs to be said about this show. This is what makes it good. With great writing and comedic elements, a great producer/narrator, and an amazing cast, what more do you need? These actors have all made names for themselves from this and other shows, and have gone on to do more than just comedy. I could watch this show over and over again. Although you may need to buy the seasons, their well worth their $25 a piece. Check them out. 10 out of 10.

And here’s the best of Tobias. Thank you David Cross for one of the greatest characters of all time.