Tag Archives: Netflix

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.

 

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Chappelle’s Show

It had to end sometime, but I’m betting a lot of people who watched this show as hardcore fans wish it hadn’t have ended as soon as it did. I’m not going to get into the details many of you may know about why Chappelle left the show. It was his choice and I respect that. This review is just going to be about how wonderful the show was and my appeal to maybe bringing it back.

So the premise of Dave Chappelle’s Show is quite simple and brilliant. In a series of sketch comedy scenes, Chappelle addresses the issues of racism, ethnic tension, and the ways in which we deal with issues between the races. In a not so subtle way, I feel that Dave Chappelle attacked racial stereotypes in a not so subtle manner. By displaying the

UNITYYYYY!!!

ridiculously racist ideals of the U.S., Chappelle showed that even in a entertainment type setting, these racist views aren’t plausible in today’s society. Now, Chappelle said in one of his recordings that, “You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you’re not smart enough to get what I’m doing, and every day I fight for you. I tell them how smart you are. Turns out, I was wrong. You people are stupid.” In an offensive way, Dave Chappelle is addressing the issue that the stereotypes are what makes everyone laugh. It doesn’t do anything else. It doesn’t make us think. I’m sure there are those of us that it does do more than make us laugh at the racism, but the show lost sight of that (i.e. Lost Episodes).

One of the best written sketches, and I think it went over people’s heads.

What made me laugh about this show wasn’t necessarily the racism and stereotypes. What made me laugh were the ridiculous characters and the great way the dialogue was written. I’m not gonna say I was above laughing at some of the racist jokes, but it was more characters like Leonard Washington and Tron that made me laugh at the exaggerated mannerisms that were displayed in their sketches. And I felt that Dave Chappelle tackled more than just racism. He talked about ridiculous pop culture. Be it Grand Theft Auto or Cribs, Chappelle showed just how ridiculous our society has become in what it values and projects. He handled the political and the ethics of society. He even displayed, in a good light, just how pervasive and progressive African Americans have

Now that’s a position you wanna see.

become in society. Yes, the Lost Episodes went in the wrong direction, but it was the abrupt end of what was before a good thing.

And this show was a very good thing. It brought to my attention that Eddie Murphy’s brother is funnier than he is. He proved to me that white people can be included in black comedy and join in the laughter without feeling awkward. He’s brought out the issues of drug use among society, race relations, and African American views on just about everything. He pushed the boundaries at a time that being politically correct was more important than anything else. He spit in the face of keeping silent on issues that actually matter. And I applaud him for that.

Game, blouses. May you never quit comedy, Dave Chappelle.

So, if you are one of those people who this show passed by, check it out now. It’s all on Netflix. Bask in the glory of what is considered in the top 50 of all time best shows on television. It may have been too short lived, but Dave Chappelle is an intelligent and sensitive person who understands quality is better than quantity. And he makes some of the best quality sketches I’ve seen. So, for all his hard work and comedic¬†genius, Chappelle’s Show deserves a 9.1 out of 10.


Dragon Tiger Gate

All hail the great and mighty Donnie Yen! All become confused by the content of Dragon Tiger Gate! This film had a whole lotta promise and became strange as it progressed. It almost feels like some strange live action tribute to an anime. Oh well, Donnie Yen is in it. In this film of a powerful martial arts dojo and the threat looming over them of an evil master fighter, a handful of scenes redeems what was otherwise a comedic endeavor.

The film centers around two brothers in combat, Dragon Wong (Donnie Yen) and Tiger Wong (Nicholas Tse). After a long history of brotherhood between the two as a couple of wig-haired ruffians, these two go on to bigger and better things, in opposite directions. Dragon becomes the hard brawler of the Triads and Tiger fights for the justice of their dojo, Dragon Tiger Gate. The two worlds collide when the two cross dukes in a restaurant when a deal goes horribly wrong.

They have the same hair as children…

The gang is led by Ma Kun (Chen Kuan-tai), this old badass whose daughter and himself can send a softball yard with one swing. Connected to the Luocha cult, led by Shibumi (Louis Koo), it all starts with the exchanging of the Luocha plaque. And then all Hell breaks loose. From the very beginning, there is a shed of light. There are some big fights scenes with a lot of stunts and falls. It’s lookin’ ballin’s and fine. And then there’s some lulls in the action. And then a scene or two of fighting. And it goes this way for a while, culminating in the strangest of boss fights I’ve ever scene. But what can you expect from this anime/Dragonball Z inspired film?

Pretty good, eh?

It’s disappointing to me that Netflix chooses not to show certain foreign films in their original language with subtitles. This is a movie that desperately needed the original voices to save it from the mockery it got in English. This film has some great locations and sets combined with a B-C rated plot, but it just becomes moderately laughable when its done in English. The voice actors (which, I think some of who are the original actors…) don’t have the ability to match the emotions of the character’s facial expressions and actions. It sends a shiver of shame down my spine.

I did like the three main characters though. There’s Dragon and Tiger, half brothers til the end. And my personal favorite, Turbo. Shawn Yue plays this supremely comedic action hero named Turbo who specializes in nun-chucks, is the weaker of the three, but he has all the heart in the world. The Asian version of Rudy. Master Wong may defeat him one too many times, but he vows to become a great warrior. There’s lots of defeat, a strange power gaining scene in this tall pagoda tower with anal beads and an old man, and some cheesy CG effects towards the end.

Good old Turbo.

The movie ends worse than it began, but there’s a great use of weapons and martial arts skills. I was impressed with Donnie Yen’s stunt coordination and fight scenes, which was well worth the watch. I recommend the original version and avoid all the classic hilarity of a dubbed. All-in-all, it’s an entertaining dramatic martial arts film with a plot. Those are sorta rare, so check this one out. A decent 5.5 out of 10.

 


Wet Hot American Summer: “I Said NO!”

My friends had talked about this movie in passing and said it was pretty damn funny. From the title, I thought it was going to be some sort of American Pie ripoff. Not being a big fan of that idea, I put off watching the movie. I put off watching it for far too long. I should’ve watched it the day it was mentioned. This commercial flop turned cult following (by me and my friends) really is a worthwhile film to watch, and then rewatch as many times as possible. This cast has a bunch of star studded comedians right before their prime, and they destroy this movie with how creatively comedic they really are. A big nod to David Wain and Michael Showalter (Of the Michael and Michael Have Issues show, a show cut too short by Comedy Central) for their great writing based on their childhood camp experiences.

This movies got a lot of moving parts going on all at once. Lots of people getting lots of face time all at once, and its mayhem and a perfect parody of a 1980’s feel good camp film. First off, every camp counselor at this movie is well into their mid 20’s, early 30’s. It’s so ridiculously misrepresented that it has to be laughed at. And the whole point of this movie, as the title implies, is about sex. It’s the last day of camp, and every camp counselor wants to get with another camp counselor. But a lot of stuff happens in this day.

All the wonderful faces of the film.

I don’t wanna delve into every funny scene or situation, so I’ll just lay down the groundwork for this film. Beth (Janeane Garofalo) is the camp director, who is a bit slow in the womanly department.¬† For being a feminist, this fits Garofalo’s humor quite well (I’ve loved her since Dogma). She falls in love with Henry (David Hyde Pierce), an astrophysicist who happens to be vacationing right next to the camp. His inadequacy with social situations creates some funny outbursts. Coop (Michael Showalter) is seen as the main protagonist in the film, trying to win away Katie (Marguerite Moreau) from her toolish and hilariously stereotypical boyfriend, Andy (Paul Rudd). There’s Victor (Ken Marino) and his friend Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) and the girl who comes between them and their campers when it comes to a river rafting ride. And, meanwhile, Gail (Molly Shannon), the arts and crafts counselor, is being consoled after her divorce by her campers.

A training montage for the ages, with Christopher Meloni.

There’s a lot more going on here, but you are hereby warned. There is some gay butt sex between two characters you wouldn’t expect. And, despite its tastefulness, its quite graphic in its suggestion. But throw in even more great comedic actors like Michael Ian Black, Elizabeth Banks (for sex appeal), Amy Poehler (eh, not so good…), Bradley Cooper, and Christopher Meloni as a twist in his acting style from Law and Order: SVU, and you got an all-star cast that actually has a majority of actors from Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim. Thank god for that.

This movie takes everything that John Cusack stood for in his earlier years and parodies it. For me, this was the comedic equivalent of Heavyweights. There’s the sexual/romantic undertone brought to the surface. The reversal of adults acting like children more than the campers themselves. A bit of slapstick/absurdist humor (I don’t think absurdist is a word, but it is by far the best and purest type of humor), and throw in an all day montage of drug addiction and you got yourself a cult following. Bravo for that.

Get some, Paul.

I love Paul Rudd in everything he does, and this film is no exception. Playing the “who gives a shit?” badboy with the best girlfriend who’s always mistreated is something he wouldn’t normally do. But after seeing his role in The 40 Year Old Virgin, my favorite role, this guy can do anything. And has done everything, even a bit of serious acting. Thank the Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce that I have a love for the Halloween series, so I could discover Paul Rudd sooner. Throw in Bradley Cooper in a role I found funnier than The Hangover, how great is that? And Molly Shannon, really letting her Superstar shine through in a more grown up role than she’s done in a while, how classy. I could rave on and on about the comedic actors in the film, but I’ll cut this short before my grandstanding this film gets out of hand.

All you really need to do is get on Netflix, or buy this movie off Amazon, and you won’t be disappointed. It has humor for everyone and a cast you can’t help but love. In David Wain’s fashion, he created a precursor to Role Models that I wish I had found when I was 12 when this movie came out. (A bit young for it, I know). But any sort of comedic inspiration such as this needs to be taken in and developed into a greater body of humor. Campy, B-rated, absurdist humor. I’ll take another helping of that, and I’ll take that prequel to this film you’ve been talking about, David Wain. Just bring on the humor some more. A well deserved, cult following 8.6 out of 10. (If you’re into my kind of humor, Meet the Spartans, Dumb & Dumber, 40 Year Old Virgin Style. Or some similar combo.)

Thanks David Wain!


Baby’s Day Out: My Slapstick Childhood Returns

I love this movie poster.

The second I saw that this film came on Netflix, I pooped my pants, very similar to what Baby Bink would’ve done (although they’re 18 now…) . This movie made me laugh so hard when I was younger and I really found it to be an endearing movie for children of all ages. Heck, I’m 21 now and I enjoyed it just as much as when I was 8. The Worton twins are adorable and have great movie presence for how young they are. It may have taken a lot of shots to get those adorable faces to do what they wanted, but they got the right shots. My childhood was not soon forgotten when I watched this movie again. I remembered every part.

Baby’s Day Out is the story of a baby in a suburb of Chicago. With his well-to-do family always wanting their child to be the center of attention, Laraine (Lara Flynn Boyle) and Bennington (Matthew Glave) want Bink’s picture in the newspaper. (They use such pretentious names to show that all they care about is high class image and money.) Three no-good lousy crooks find the photography company and take their place, posing as professionals. Their names? Joe Matengna, Joe Pantoliano, and Brian Haley. If only they could’ve gotten a third Joe/Italian gangster to fill out the trio…

The dastardly trio.

Baby Bink is kidnapped and the crooks demand a ransom. With the FBI on the job (such a high class mission right?), it’s only a matter of time before Baby Bink is found. But Baby Bink doesn’t need their help. He has the power of comedic timing and slapstick comedy and wit on his side. And this is the exact point where a lot of critics were lost on finding this film redeemable. It is cheesy, but at least they got a good cast to fill out the humor. Look, this is Joe Pantoliano, before Joe Pantoliano was Cypher from The Matrix. Yes, he did good work before, and after, but that was when Pantoliano came into my awareness.

Look at this cute baby. Staring death in the face.

And I have no problem with the cheesiness of this film. It can be cheddar for all I care, this movie appeals to the child’s audience and the child in all of us. And my inner child tells me I loved slapstick back in the day. This movie delivers it well, just like Home Alone. And apparently this did well in the box office… And in Southeast Asia… Weird.

So bring in the wonderful elements of great Italian actors, slapstick, and a cute baby, and this movie is gold. It is so endearing and the music sweeps you away into the children’s book that Bink is reliving. That’s what I liked about it, that element of magical whimsy. The magical sense of adventure that lies in the bottoms of all of our hearts is reinvigorated by a baby crawling around Chicago. Who knew?

This gets a bit ridonkulously funny.

And there are so many great scenes! The apartment rooftop scene screams of parkour gone wrong. (Just watched District 13: Ultimatum. Can’t get Parkour out of my head.) Matengna delivers his big boss with a boo-boo lines so well and, surprisingly, Pantoliano is a great buffoon. I love that he’s bald in this like he always is, it gives a great slapstick element to the trio. My favorite scene in the Primate house is wonderful and gets me every time. Not to mention the fire crotch scene (you’ll get what I mean when you watch this too and relive your childhood). With all things good and cute in this movie, who wouldn’t want to watch this for the coo’s and awwwww’s, mixed with a laugh in there for all ages? It’s a wonderfully nostalgic experience. A well worth it 8.6 out of 10 (by my childhood grading scale).

Look at this cute face. Check it.


RoboCop: The Future is Born

I had never in my 21 years of life ever before seen a RoboCop film. Hearing of how cheesy they look today and how they would insult my CG effects sensibilities, I was hesitant to check out this film on Netflix. My roommate did only the slightest of convincing and we sat down to watch. I was pleasantly surprised. Being hailed as a good film in its time for the issues it brought up and the icon it created, RoboCop can be seen as an overall achievement for all its done. And, right in the vein of claymation/animatronics that I’ve come to love too. Thank you Hellraiser.

RoboCop is the story of a rundown Detroit (as if Detroit didn’t already have a bad rap…) in which crime runs rampant. In such a desperate time, Detroit’s police force has been bought out by the Omni Consumer Productions Corporation (OCP). Hoping to bring up the efficiency of justice, OCP has created some prototypes to help this along. In error, OCP’s senior VP Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) creates a robot that malfunctions and maliciously kills a fellow worker. With this disaster under wraps, it is up to another boardmember, Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) and his robotic-cop idea to shine. In this cutthroat world of business, anything goes. (And this is an issue later.)

The future of policing.

Meanwhile, a newcomer to the Detroit scene is hittin’ the streets. Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is a transferred cop out to prove just how good he is. And prove he does. He gets kidnapped by a gang led by a man named Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). You may recognize him as Red from That 70’s Show. I’ll always remember him from RoboCop. Anyways, Murphy gets lit up. And I mean shotgunned to death. Arm destroyed, torso torn, shot dead. Animatronics at its most frightening. It was intense to say the least. You can guess where the rest of the movie goes at this point. Murphy is turned into RoboCop and helps clean up the streets. But there’s mischief afoot. And some inside guys need to be taken out.

Peter Weller, you freaky old bastard you.

All in all, the acting was sub par in this movie. I didn’t recognize many of the actors, although I had seen Miguel Ferrer in something or other. Peter Weller is more of a cult classic actor/T.V. production actor, and completely fell under my radar. You know who didn’t? Ray Wise. This best of the B-rated actors is quite high quality in my book. This Tim and Eric returner is the best hug teacher and Shrim disposer out there. Thanks and Great Job!

Other than that, not a lot stood out to me in this film. The plot chugged along, the ending could have ended a bit sooner, and I think this is one of those movies which could have a successful remake. And I don’t say that often. Some updated acting and an even darker element to this movie would really spice it up as a need to see action movie. Still set it in the 1980’s, this movie could benefit from a touch-up. But enough about that. The simple fact that this movie was so successful it created a merchandise franchise. I give props to a film that can create more than a movie from their idea. Good ideas about the crime of America and its economy went into this film, something to be commended on. Let’s see a remake soon… maybe. 5.5 out of 10.

You're in for a world of hurt, Red.