Tag Archives: murder

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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The Parole Officer: A Coogan-y Film

I must admit I was excited to see Steve Coogan’s face on the cover of this movie on my Netflix. 2001 is a bit iffy for comedies for me (I’m a 200 and late… -r), but this one did the job for the most part. Steve Coogan wasn’t at top form (a bit of a problem) but I got through it all the same. The first scene was promising, but you can only be so outrageous before nobody watches your movies…

The story of The Parole Officer is a pretty straightforward one. Steve Coogan plays Simon Garden, and awkward and sad probation worker (confusing movie title, I

All too true…

know…). He is being transferred to another city (Manchester, I believe) and he’s going to be attempting to correct those sorry crooks that litter the streets of England. What he stumbles upon is something a bit more intense. A fellow officer in crime prevention, Inspector Burton (Stephen Dillane), commits a murder that is caught on security camera. Holding the evidence in his possession, Burton the crooked cop is planning on framing Garden if he tattles. Not wanting this being held over his head, Garden employs the help of the only four former criminals he corrected in robbing a bank with the tape inside. Oh, the comedic irony.

The most awkward place for Coogan? Strip club.

It’s pretty cut and dry from there. The movie has some of Coogan’s own brand of awkward comedy, but not enough to make it a signature film of his. (I’d say Hamlet 2 is more his style.) You get an awkward sense of Alan Partridge, but it comes up short of expectations. The acting is fine and the movie is dated, which always makes it a bit hard for me to watch. But overall, think Johnny English with dry comedy instead of slapstick. You got this film right there.

There are a couple of great little parts other than the versus mode of Coogan/Dillane. There’s Ben Miller as Colin, one of Garden’s former clients. Being Rowan Atkinson’s sidekick in Johnny English, it was a nice change to see him delivering comedy more than being the straight actor taking it all in. There’s Lena Headey as a watered down version of the strong British actress she will one day become in things like 300 and Game of Thrones. Not the most adequate of cops, it

Team of crack cons, assemble!

always gets weird whenever Coogan lays his puffy lips on a love interest in a movie. And then there’s a non-speaking cameo from Simon Pegg in the art gallery scene. I had no idea what to expect there. But worth a laugh.

The bank heist is a little above my understanding with some strange technology lingo and complicated means of infiltration, leaving part of the movie as bland. The back and forth between the cons was fine, although overall it lacked a certain star quality for me that would’ve

Aha! I’m Simon Garden.

sent the jokes home better. It really was an all eyes on Coogan film for me. Throw in some slapstick/situational comedy towards the end (and a break-in scene reminiscent of The Dark Knight) and you have yourself a throwback to the 1950’s heist movies. Not a bad roll into one.

Not one of my favorites, but not the worst Coogan attached film I’ve seen. I still feel like one of my only friends who actually recognized/knew Coogan in Tropic Thunder, something that saddens me to this very day. But it’s not about notoriety or popularity. There are those of us out there who salute Steve Coogan for his amazing contribution to the world of comedy. He deserves a ranking up there with Ricky Gervais, Matt Lucas/David Walliams, and even Monty Python. Can’t get enough of those Brits. For this, I give The Parole Officer a 6.8 out of 10.


Face: How Clay Can Be Evil

I always thought the idea of facial reconstruction was used for recreating the faces of cavemen and our ancestors. In this movie, the skulls and recreated muscles in clay are used to identify murder victims who have been destroyed beyond recognition. A useful idea I may add (and actually done). But who knew that recreating somebody’s face could awaken an evil demon of the victim. And much more.

With two seemingly parallel story lines intertwining this film into one thread, Face is a horror movie about very specific diseases and using clay to remake a face. The star of

A bit of the fright?

the film, Lee Hyeon-min (Hyeon-jun Shin), is a face recreator who works for the police to catch whoever is murdering people past the point of recognition. Running along this is the fact that Hyeon-min’s daughter is in the hospital for a heart transplant from a very specific donor. Only able to accept Beta donors with similar to identical organs, this movies draws black market organ collecting with a facial recreation expert. When a fellow face creator named Jeong Seon-yeong (Yuh-ah Song) gets involved, things get creepy and horrific.

I’ll make this face to look like me. The Penguin. Muhahaha.

I was thoroughly confused at parts of this movie. Nobody was really given a name and the main actor looked like The Penguin from Batman. By the end, when everything is coming together, you feel you missed some part because the haunting ghost has something to do with something else, and it just all doesn’t make sense. There were some plot holes in this film when it came to the payoff twist.

As far as fright, this film delivered on a distant cousin with the American version of The Grudge. Now that movie is the only Asian horror film whose remake scared me more than the original. The long black hair and pale face with red eyes was reused in this one and was accompanied by some sort of scratching noise or something. But it is kinda sad when you can call every time and how they’re going to

What’s going on here?

deliver a jumpy scene. Through the mirror? Girl looks out the window? Eye in the box? Yep. It lacked a little bit of “Boo.”

It’s not one of those remarkable films you see that are made by Asian directors (this one was Korean) that has more than just fright, it has substance. This one fell short on script and delivery. For me I can never tell how good the foreign actors are, but you could kinda tell in this one. The whole film was pretty much lackluster. It took uninteresting scientific ideas and made them mix somehow. Oh well, better luck next time, Sang-gon Yoo. 4.5 out of 10.

 


Trick ‘r’ Treat

Trick ‘r’ Treat is a movie where you can in fact “Pick Your Treat” when it comes to a movie that has four mini stories within a circular plot. (You’ll see by the end what I mean by circular.) Created by a Ohio director, Michael Dougherty, (born and raised), there’s a little something for everyone in this traditional horror genre flick. (I would in fact liken it to Halloween, exactly. I was waiting for Michael Meyers to start roaming around.

I know this film has a cult following and films like that are usually for me. You can put the whole film under the blanket of horror/suspense, but I didn’t really get too much of a

What a lovable little sack-demon.

comedy feel (as it is categorized as well) from this film, other than a movie that follows the old ways of horror so well that by this point it’s beaten to death and comic for that reason. There are parts I liked and parts that didn’t really tickle my horror bone fancy, which kept this as a middle of the road film for me. Let me kinda break it down for you.

The reets on the bus get all wiped out… All wiped out…

It has the creepy iconic pumpkin headed freak, Sam (Quinn Lord). His Halloween antics come across as brutal at the same time that his height and means of slashing are quite childish. Either way, there’s a figurine of him. There’s the threat of razor bladed candy, haunted stone quarries, and smashing pumpkins. People get away with murder at the same time that there’s the classic “I’m a girl, it’s Halloween, I’m gonna dress up as a slut” theme going on. In a small town (with the Haddonfield feel goin’ all through it) where Halloween is taken seriously, it’s an offense to break the traditions that protect people from evil, all the way back from the Pagan days. I thought that’s where the movie was going, but I was a bit wrong…

There were parts I liked and parts I didn’t. I kinda wanted to be scared when I watched a film about the scariest day of the year. It was more of a comedic tribute. Sam kinda made me laugh far more than cringe in terror (I guess that’s where the comedy comes from?). The second I saw Anna Paquin onscreen, I was thinking, “Oh no, where’s the Louisiana vampires?” (I wasn’t far off…) I was happy to see Dylan Baker (the orig Dr. Connors of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series) make an

I am Agamemnon, fear me!

Word!

appearance as a dastardly principal out to get children. And classic Brian Cox (I’ll always remember him as Agamemnon from Troy) as the crazy old coot. Nice appearances in an otherwise bizarre horror movie.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I normally love all horror movies. I don’t have any major problems, but I was just looking for more of a linear plot. I loved the original idea that this movie starts up with about breaking Halloween traditions. Then it wasn’t about that anymore. It went off in different directions, trying to cover all sorts of sub-genres of horror, which I didn’t mind, it just became a big jumble to me. For me, horror movies are about exploring one genre of horror and twisting and creating it into your own vision of what frightens and terrifies. Just a thought. 6.1 out of 10.

 

 


Romeo Must Die

In what was considered Jet Li’s breakout American performance, I was a bit disappointed. (I personally though Lethal Weapon 4 really showcased a lot more skills…) The plot is just a crude, urban sampling from Romeo and Juliet. There were minimal stunt/fight scenes. Overall it wasn’t as action packed as the cover had led me to think. I guess I should’ve

An awkward couple?

expected half-assed amounts of martial arts from the director of Exit Wounds, Doom, and Street Fighter. Thanks a lot, Andrzej Bartkowiak…

Let’s just examine the plot to get a what bothers me about this movie. Two warring families. You have the Sing family, led by Ch’u Sing (Henry O). Then you have the black family led by Issak O’Day (Delroy Lindo. He’s that intelligent black man you see in a lot of films as a stock character actor. The smart version of Ving Rhames.) O’Day? What kind of last name is that for a black mafia family? And when have black gangs ever organized like the mafia in the first place? Weird…

This is the second time in a film I’ve seen a guy throwing a girl around…

So yes, I get the two warring families with Jet Li and Aaliyah in the middle. They don’t really love each other at first and you never get that onscreen chemistry from them. Never even a kiss. Just a hug. What I find weird is that they shot the kiss scene (that could’ve been placed anywhere in the film) and they chose to cut it out. Racist anyone? The screeners said it was awkward… Hmm…

Anyways, Jet Li is Han Sing, escaped from a high security prison in Hong Kong. He creatively escapes during one of the cooler fight scenes in the film, but how does he escape the country and make it all the way to Oakland? There is a real lack of police interference in this movie… Aaliyah is a beautiful young actress who (after watching this and The Queen of the Damned) really was taken too quickly from the

It’s all about the shades for Wong.

silver screen. She wasn’t like other R&B actresses onscreen who kinda flaunted their sex appeal. She came across as the cute girl next door you could believe and fall in love with. (Not so much in The Queen of the Damned, but just as good in that movie too.)

A beautiful and tragic young actress.

So Jet Li makes it to Oakland to discover something fishy going on with his father’s gang enterprise. His brother Po (Jon Kit Lee) has been murdered and Han Sing is on the case to find out what happened. (He used to be a police officer. Jackie Chan anyone?) The two star crossed lovers meet (if you can call them lovers) and their families war around them. With some betrayal and only the slightest bit of martial arts, this movie comes to its conclusion: happy ending.

But it wasn’t such a good ride to the happy end. Coming from a 2000 film, the ghetto speak was tired and old. If I had watched it when it had came out, I might be saying something different. But all the dawg’s and yo’s really wore on me… especially when the Chinese gangs used that slang, AND if showed up in

Some of that minimal martial arts.

their subtitle translations for some strange reason… I don’t think they have that kind of slang in the Chinese language…

And how racist this film was! It wasn’t just the speech, it was the music. Sure you have an all star cast doing the R&B hits for all the black gang scenes, but when it comes to cutting over to a scene with Jet Li or someone in the Asian gang, classical oriental music. The clangs and bows of what every person in America hears when they go into a Panda Express. There couldn’t be an infusion or anything more original for both gangs? This movie just seemed like a compare and contrast of races. The only crossover was that some black gang members miraculously knew proper Karate/Wushu form for no reason. Fancy that…

Get your head around that…

The acting was fine and I had no major complaints about that. But for some reason, and I don’t know how to put it into words, Anthony Anderson (co-star of some of the Scary Movies… and Kangaroo Jack…) just rubbed me the wrong way. He wasn’t funny, and seeing him get his ass handed to him by Jet Li just seemed satisfying… Overall though, the whole movie put me in a sour mood. I’ve seen better from Jet Li. This movie is one of those Asian/American films that takes the whole action/martial arts thing for granted. It sickened me a little bit. It was just too dated for me. They should’ve changed the title too… Romeo Must Die? More like A Vague Racist Action Movie About Building A Football Dome. There you go, all fixed. 4.3 out of 10.


Mirai Nikki: Future Diary

Mirai Nikki, Future Diary.

From the get go I’m gonna call this the standout anime for 2012. Although it was done back in October through April, it’s the show that got me excited and entertained for hours. I pretty much watched this show in a few days. I haven’t done that since Death Note. And Death Note is my favorite anime, so you can see what that says about this one. Mirai Nikki (known in English as Future Diary) has an interesting concept, a wide array of characters (one for everyone to choose and root for), and great animation. I don’t know where the Japanese come up with ideas for shows like this, but these intricate plot anime are where it’s at.

Mirai Nikki is the story of Yukiteru Amano (Yukki for short) and his apathetic life of recording things around them. He never hangs out with anyone or does anything remotely social. I guess you could

You crazy, ninth…

count hiding under his blanket and speaking with Deus, the god of this world. One day Yukki visits Deus and Deus decides to give him a new phone diary, one that can tell the future of things around Yukki. Using this to his advantage over the next several days, Yukki finds himself being chased down by a serial killer. In the course of running away, Yukki runs into somebody he didn’t expect. Yuno Gasai, his obsessive stalker. Learning that there are other participants in this “game” with future diaries, Yukki must fight against others, even kill, in order to become the next god of this world. The game is on.

Some of the other characters of Mirai Nikki (they’re kinda better…)

Just from that last paragraph’s description of the story, don’t you want to watch this intricate plot to figure out what happens? And, for me, it’s all about exploring and discovering the world of this wide ranging cast of diary owners. I have to say something right here to speak to that. This show is about “dead ending”/killing the other owners of the diaries. Every owner has their own reason for participating, and, I’ll say, to a fault, Yukiteru doesn’t. It seems, throughout the entire show, that Yukiteru is only playing this game to not die. He had no aspirations of becoming god, and I guess that’s a reason for playing. But that is a faulted reason. Yuno on the other hand… is a bit more complicated.

But this is the first anime I’ve ever watched where I liked all of the other supporting characters, and absolutely hated the two main characters from start to finish. Yukiteru is apathetic and weak. He has nothing to fight for and no way to fight for it. Minene Uryu (the 9th diary owner) is a terrorist, and although she may want to make the world better, she goes about it all wrong. Every character I did like and I thought had a good

This is what Yukki sees under his blanket fantasy world.

reason for winning isn’t given enough time to do so or the means to do so. This constantly was thrown in my face and was quite frustrating. Yuno is manipulative and never allows Yukki to decide if he loves her or not. With such flawed main characters, I guess it’s okay to hate them to an extent. They have to redeem themselves after all.

And that’s why I was okay with liking this show, despite hating the characters who got 80% of the screen time. I don’t think any show has to adhere to the good/bad dichotomy between protagonists and antagonists. And they don’t have to be a good person to be a hero either. So that’s well done in itself. Nothing in life is black and white.

Pretty PC for 9th Graders…

But the plot! The plot, the plot, the plot! Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, you have no idea where the story is going or when it will end! The intricacy of everyone involved in the Future Diary game is complex and not so easy to decipher. No one is safe and everyone is at risk, even those people outside the game. Betrayal, complex love stories, murder, this show has it all (and not without a bit of sexuality and boobs you wouldn’t expect on 9TH GRADERS). Everyone is out for themselves and it is up to you to side with who you think is right. This show would function perfectly as a choose your own ending game (point and click, preferably) in which you take each character to their limits. And praise Jeebus that Funimation got ahold of this show for dubbing, although I think a Death Note cast would’ve worked just as well.

So watch this show if it’s the last thing you do. It is well worth it and brings a whole lot of genres of anime together into one storyline. Anyone who enjoys good adrenaline pumping television, great character driven stories, and an all around game of cat and mouse with human lives at stake, watch this. You won’t regret it. And I stand firm in this being one of the best anime of 2012, maybe the last few years. Mirai Nikki, I may not like Ninth, but this deserves a 9th out of 10.

Beware the love triangles…


A Film With Me In It

Leave it to the Irish to create such a dark and twistedly funny take on Final Destination meets the saddest of all losers who has to deal with it. A Film With Me In It is the story of Mark (Mark Doherty, writer and brother of co-star David O’Doherty) and how his career as an actor is really never going to take off. This gives an ironic sense to the title of the movie, based around an actor I’ve never heard of and a lot of my readers may have never heard of. From the very beginning, Mark Doherty’s acting comes off as quiet and reclusive, mixed with a hell of a lot of timidity. Mix this with the violent actions of the film and you have one of the funniest U.K. films I’ve ever seen.

A little more about Mark, the character. He lives in a small flat with his old arsed dog, and his completely catatonic brother in a wheelchair,

Mark, the fall guy.

David (David O’Doherty, his actual brother, as I’ve already said. The O’ makes all the difference). Being an actual comedian, it’s funny to see him not be able to say a damn thing throughout the whole film. Residing with him in his small and rundown flat is his girlfriend, Sally (Amy Huberman). She’s sick of everything that needs to be repaired and basically wants to leave Mark. Living in the same building is Mark’s alcoholic and gambling addict friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran). Fulfilling his role as the stereotypical Irishman, he’ll go out and drink, try and become a playwright, and end up at the races.

This may look familiar to another film…

Mark’s apartment is a deathtrap. The lights barely work. The window to the garden is a pair of slapped knuckles waiting to happen. Everything wobbles and creaks no matter what they try and do. And their landlord, Jack (Keith Allen) refuses to help repair anything until the rent is paid. With Mark being an out of work actor, there’s not a witch’s teat in Hell that he can ever scrape up enough dough to even fix the light bulb eerily flashing in the kitchen.

And that’s where things start to become a problem. A rising body count and a lot of individuals sticking their noses in where they don’t belong causes Mark and his “accomplice” Pierce to have to create a scenario in which all of  these “sequential accidents” cannot be blamed on the two of them. With a quick wit and a lot of dark comedy that comes from body removal, these two dig themselves a grave. Can they even get out?

That silly O’Doherty doesn’t get to say a thing.

I sincerely loved this movie. I was laughing constantly at Dylan Moran’s lines of sarcastic pessimism and Mark’s inability to respond in any way. There are a lot of tragic things that happen in this movie, and its almost hard to laugh at some of them. The measures these two have to go to is well beyond absurd. It comes up to the point of downright cruel. But what the two get out of it is a great script and some ideas that could potentially make them criminals for life.

And there was such an eclectic cast in this film! There are the Doherty/O’Doherty brothers, one of whom is a comedian. The other, more of a sick joke comedian. Even Dylan Moran is a comedian. Keith Allen has done everything from music to movies, stand up, and writing. Aisling O’Sullivan is a renowned Irish actress that takes the part of the sweet small town policewoman (AKA Garda). Round that out with a sneak appearance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and you have yourself a wonderful little cast of simple comedy.

There’s some serious criminal activity going down.

This movie is dark. And I’m talking pitch black. There’s death, dismemberment, and not a heavy tear shed for anyone but the dog. A man down on his luck and it gets so much worse is hard to watch onscreen, especially when he just takes it. You need some sort of silver lining for a character like that. Well don’t you fret, there is one. And it may be the best little shiny cloud you’ll see all year. I was thoroughly wrapped up in this movie and its characters to the point where I would give anything for them to get away with it. If you wanna know what happens, you should definitely watch this film. You might find yourself loving it as much as I did. Although, this movie wasn’t one with me in it. 9.7 out of 10.

 

 

 

And here’s a little taste of what you’re getting into.