Tag Archives: son

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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Audition: Let’s Have a Call for All Killers

I was in a state of shock and awe after this film. I thought I had found my favorite horror films, but Audition really blew those out of the water. This perfect balance of horror and troubling thriller really sets the bar high for any films after 1999. Takashi Miike has made a masterpiece of a mindf@#$k with Audition. And the fact that Rob Zombie, John Landis, and Eli Roth said this film was difficult to watch, it has to be golden.

Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a recently widowed movie producer. He’s been quite distant and lonely lately, and his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki) has noticed it. Encouraging his dad to at the very least start dating again, Shigeharu turns to his

The audition begins. This is one of those other shots they held really long so you couldn’t see her face. Chilling.

friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), a fellow movie maker for ideas. This is where he has a stroke of genius. In proposing a new movie idea, these two scoundrels will have an audition (hey, there’s the movie title!) for the leading lady. Shigeharu can choose his top 30 and narrow it down from there, giving the lead to the best actress, but he can claim his favorite choice for his wife.

Ballin’ disturbing images.

Feeling slightly uneasy about this, Shigeharu goes into it half-assed. He dawdles around until he finds a young woman who stops his heart still. Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a former ballerina with a very high guard and a delicate personality. He tragic past and broken dreams intoxicate Shigeharu and he must have her at all costs. After a few dates, Shigeharu starts to notice something different about her. And once she disappears, he digs up a past he never wanted to find.

I have to say it, this is a dope ass film. It’s such a twisted film with a plot that leaves you with no idea what’s going on. What people talk about is the torture scene at the end. Needles, dismemberment, blood, this scene houses the entire NR rating for the

A feeling of unsettling fear…

whole film. People have left disgusted and sickened, but that’s what would have kept me in the film. I’ll admit it, I love torture and horror. Anything that makes people, as an audience, feel unclean is wonderful. For someone to go into a movie like this and realize something about their sensibilities by the time they leave is an experience worth having. It taps into our minds and shows us just how terrible the world can be. But shouldn’t be.

I was impressed with a lot of things about this movie. Eihi Shiina’s performance in this film was chilling and horrific. She seems to be such a nice little girl, but her unemotional, uncaring side is what frightens people. It makes people feel uncomfortable with how relentless and completely honest she is as a character. She hypnotizes the bugs into her web and leaves them there to die by her fangs.

You’ll never wanna guess what happens…

A lot of the film has these extremely long held camera shots in it. The action will stay on one angle and deliver a whole piece of dialogue without moving. You’re anticipating some movement (like you would with most films) but it doesn’t come yet. It waits, and waits, and waits until you feel uncomfortable. The whole movie is made to feel unsettling. It’s a tortuous waiting game of when will the knife fall, until it does (and only in the last 15 minutes).

The surreal quality at the end of the film also really spoke to me. You fade in and out of the torture scene, you see past events as Shigeharu couldn’t have seen them. The past is rewritten. You lose all sense of control and awareness as the drugs settle into Shigeharu. You completely give your control over to Asami, something that is unsettling for people to do, even in real life. You lose yourself to this poisonous flower and have no feeling of waking up. There is a bit of a jarring from this final scene that didn’t need to happen. No happy ending was necessary, and yet Takashi Miike allowed it to happen. It would’ve had such a sweetly unsatisfying ending if it had the villain succeeds ending…

But, all in all, this movie delivers on a horror lovers level and a thriller/psychological level. You feel off either way after you’ve watched this. And that’s what horror movies like this set out to do from the start. No wonder this has a cult

WHAT’S IN THE BAG?!?!?

following. It should have. Asian filmmakers know how to do the horror genre right, and this is no exception. This is the movie that made the rule. 9.4 out of 10.

 


Iron Monkey: Martial Arts in Flight

I have to say at first I was a bit skeptical about this movie. From the get go, the Iron Monkey/Robin Hood hero is flying through the air pulling off some ridiculous kicks and spin moves. It reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but in more of a comical way. And then I let all those inhibitions go and enjoyed the movie for its technique and visual thrill. By the end, I was pumped up, and inspired to go downstairs and try out some moves on my little sister. But it was 2 in the morning, and I was to lazy to beat up on a sleeping person.

Iron Monkey is the epic tale of a man with a hidden, superhero-like identity. Yang Tianchun (Yu Rongguang) is a medical doctor. He treats the poor for no fee and makes the rich pay what they feel is necessary to heal their ailments. Nights, Yang

Donnie Yen, the master.

moonlights as The Iron Monkey. He sneaks into the evil Governor Cheng’s (Jean Wang) chambers and steals from him. He defeats a dozen guards and four Shaolin monks. It is apparent that no one can stand up to the power of The Iron Monkey.

Wrought with despair at having any of his massive plunder taken, Governer Cheng orders the head of his guard, Fox (Yuen Shun-yi) to search and find anyone who could be the Iron Monkey. When a foreign physician/rapist martial artist rolls into town, Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen) and his son/disciple Wong Fei-hung (Angie Tsang) are arrested. Noticing Kei-ying’s power, the Governor enlists him to find the Iron Monkey, or he will leave his son in the dungeons forever. It is up to Donnie Yen in his fight for his son and the well being of a town who benefits from the one man he is trying to capture. Let the chase begin.

Angie Tsang, what amazing things she did with that stick.

After getting over the wire propelled stunts and kicks, I came to really enjoy the characters and the setting for this film. A remake from back in the 1970’s, this movie went farther and more elaborate than I’m sure the other film did. Based on a myth of the Wong father and son’s interaction with an “Iron Monkey” like character, a real mystery is placed around a Batman like character.

All of the fight scenes are dope. Every one is unique and takes place in a different location that utilizes the surroundings to pull off a spectacularly choreographed fight scene. And there are 4 martial artists whose skills are showcased. It’s not all about the Monkey. I

An evil power looms…

found that to be a relief from films that focus on the protagonist and no one else. The Iron Monkey actually had less fight scenes than anyone else!

And here’s another thing that blew my mind. Donnie Yen’s son in the film is actually played by a girl! Angie Tsang is on Hong Kong’s national Wushu martial arts team. She won silver in the Asian Games and Gold in the Wushu Championships. And the whole time I thought she was some malnourished little boy. I’m always thrilled to see a young woman destroying big burly guys on camera with skills she actually can do and will do in order to defend herself and utlimately kick you ass (i.e. Chocolate). A big bravo and props sent Angie’s way.

What a great last fight scene. Get some of that.

With an almost over the top plot with lots of great comic relief and fight scenes, this movie is something I would recommend to a lot of first time martial arts movie watchers. It has the plot in order to draw you in and then blows you back with the martial arts action. Donnie Yen is a martial arts destroyer as usual, and I plan to do a lot more reviews of his movies in the future (most likely his Ip Man films). This movie inspires you to fight for the weak and poor, and rightly so. It is the true way of a master. 8.2 out of 10. 

 


Wrath of the Titans

I had never seen the first of what may be a trilogy. I had no expectations for the second one. My friend asked me to go see it and so I did. And I have mixed feelings about Wrath of the Titans. A movie series sparked from the 1981 version, this is just one of those typical action movies. It may have some flair and epic qualities to it with its mythology come to life for Perseus, but I’m not really sure where this series is headed. I’ll just let time and some 3-D/CG effects ride the tide until the next Kraken-like creature bubbles up from the Netherworld.

What guy doesn’t like a bit of mythology with his films? I enjoyed it somewhat, but I wasn’t sure how accurate the film was to the myths. You got your Zeus (Liam Neeson), your Poseidon (Danny Huston), and you got your Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Throw in some Sam Worthington for good measure and you got yourself a film about defeating a Titan. Although it is strange this series is following the titling of Star Wars, I won’t complain too much. What I don’t get is where people get off considering Sam Worthington a quality actor. He’s good in what he does in action films, but I dunno if Avatar gave him a big head or not. Same goes for you too Thor…

Metaphor for acting career? (Hint, it’s a struggle.)

So this movie takes place a decade after Perseus killed the Kraken (thanks Wikipedia). He’s got a son now and that damn kid can’t stop crying and making all these weird faces and noises throughout the film. Even when he’s supposed to be brave at the end, he ends up yelping like a beaten dog. Where did they find this kid? So he is almost killed by the initial attack on Perseus’ shanty town by a pair of Chimeras. This scene was rather basic and didn’t really get me too hyped up yet. It doesn’t really look like Perseus/Worthington is in rare form yet and hell, it doesn’t look like he’s interacting with the beasts at all. Heads up there Warner Bros., you’re behind the ball on that new wave tech shit.

A couple of old bro’s slanging some magical spells.

Meanwhile, in the Netherworld, Kronos, king of the Gods is all tied up by his snotty young hoodlum children. But there’s a twist! Hades and Zeus’s son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) are planning on draining Zeus in order to unleash Kronos and reattain immortality. They’ve become weak because of some comment on religion and how paganism isn’t popular anymore. Things get heated and its up to Perseus, a scraggly, yet funny Agenor the Navigator (Toby Kebbell), and Andromeda (Rosamund Pike). Of the three, I’d place my best bet on Agenor. That Toby Kebbell is a relaxed, naturalistic actor who I now appreciate because of this movie. He definitely deserved his father’s trident for that one.

So there are some cyclops, some lava slanging behemoths, and some molten crusted, two-headed beasts. I would almost say that the trailer built up the movie a bit too much for how much they suggested was action in this film. There’s even a disappointing fight between Perseus and the Minotaur in this film! That beast is just as big as Perseus is, how is that possible? But there’s a lot of old man Zeus grunting and some anticlimactic fighting in what is a strange ending with Perseus and Pegasus. Worthington passes on the torch to his son and one of the only things I can say about this movie is that Gods died in this movie. Who is gonna be left to make this a trilogy with so many mythical beings gone? We’ll see if Titans makes a strategic move and decides to pit Christianity against Paganism. I’d watch that. For this, I’ll give it an entertaining watch with a 4.6 out of 10.

Set him free Sam, set him free…


Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

After seeing this trailer for Tim and Eric’s new movie, I had to excuse myself to the bathroom in order to clean the boxers I had just soiled. Having watched every single episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! countless times, I had to see this the second I could get my hands on it. And I did. And it was great. But I’ll need more than just that to review a classic T&E production properly.

In this movie, a simple plot is simple. Tim and Eric, after revamping their images in the most bizarre of ways, spend a billion dollars in making a box office hit. That is about 5 minutes long. It’s one shot along a Paris street of a man in a suit of diamonds. Diamond Jim. Played by Johnny Depps. And all he has to say is “Bonjour.” He delivers the biggest of diamond rings (being Diamond Jim, Bonjour.) to a lovely waitress and the movie ends. (The credit roll reminds me of the days when I used to take credit for everything I did in my home movies…)

The lights pick up and a garishly and horrifically dressed Tim and Eric turn around in their movie seats to see Tommy Schlaaang in his Schlaaang Recliner (stirrups up and being used) in classic Cinco fashion, disgusted with their production. And seeing as they spent all the money he gave them on diamonds and things for themselves, they have to find some way to make a billion dollars. So what do they think they’ll do? Revitalize a mall.

Hi, Hi, Hi, I'm Chef Goldblum

Oh how the hi-jinks begin. Upon finding this mall in Historic Swallow Valley, they find Damien Weebs (Will Ferrell) in the back office. Sitting there in utter despair, Weebs has no idea how to push his failing mall onto some unsuspecting suckers. Until Tim and Eric fall for the aptly placed commercial in a bar bathroom. After a watch and a rewatch of Top Gun, Weebs is finally ready to turn over his mall. I honestly thought (even if it wasn’t) it was a great stab at the failed use of repetition in Family Guy. With Taquito (John C. Reilly) as their guide, the pair must vanquish a Pizza Court wolf and a handful of vagrants.

This is where the conventional plot is derailed. From here we have Reggie and his son Jeffrey (Matt O’Toole and Noah Spencer) and Tim’s obsession with Jeffrey. He even cuckolds (incorrect usage but whatevs) Reggie into giving up his son to Tim.

So what'd you think?

Righteous. And then Eric meets the love of his life, Katie (Twink Kaplan). There’s some betrayal and one of the strangest sex acts I’ve ever seen in a film, followed by one of the most graphic diarrhea scenes ever recorded. This movie has it all. As well as an explosive ending.

There were complaints in the reception as far as length. With a show that started off on Adult Swim as a 10 minute sketch comedy, this movie was 9 times that. It is almost an entire season’s length in one sitting. And this left people hanging and at times bored with the slow

Are you ready to enter the Shrim?

chugging along of the same plot at great length. I can say the same for myself. It’s not that I have ADHD or ADD, but this movie tried my patience at times. Without the freedom to jump around to whatever they felt like, it left certain parts as plot and others as pure comedy sketches. The transition between the two cut short some laughs.

Other than that, this movie hit home to millions (I hope there’s millions…) of T&EASGJ! fans all over the… planet (?) It had the characters you love from past episodes (James Quall and David Liebe Hart) and reformed actors into characters you grew to love (Will Forte and John C. Reilly). It doesn’t disappoint and delivers a decent bit more than the trailer suggested (i.e. Ray Wise returns as Dr. Doone Struts with SHRIM.). All in all you have to love the effort and the delivery Tim and Eric give to their fans of all things alternative comedy. It’s a wonderful thing. In comparison to the show, this deserves a 7.1 out of 10.

Oh, how niiiiiceee.


Invisible Target: Jackie Chan & Son

Jackie Chan has officially passed on his torch as the #1 stunt fighting action star in Asia. And who has he passed this gigantic burden of fame and stardom onto? Why Jaycee Chan of course! With this lineage created and the dynasty struck, good things can only come from Jackie and Son. And this movie, Jacyee Chan’s first debut on the big screen, Invisible Target promises great things from the son of a master.

In this cop vs bad guy film with a resonance of Police Story, Jaycee and fellow action stars Nicholas Tse and Shawn

3 Badasses right there.

Yue (the first name thing must be a sign of Chinese stardom) battle hand to hand and guns to guns with 7 of the most feared ex-military/con demons known in Shang Hai (or wherever this movie takes place. Bangkok?) After the intial heist of a armored truck that killed Carson Fong Yik Wei’s (Shawn Yue) fiance, three detective/inspectors are hurled together from differing pasts and fighting/justice styles to band together for one stand against some of the worst crime China has seen.

Filled with corruption of the police force and some badass roundhouse kicks, this film promises actions scenes at an almost intermittent pace, mixed with a few car chases and explosions. I mean, come on, some guy is forced to eat bullets with a straight leg to the face. This movie delivers hard with at least a 35 minute lull between action scenes in one section. For you action fans out there, this may prove hard to move past, but all-in-all there are at least 4 action scenes that are worth checking out, most importantly the final battle. Through this entire 2 hour, 20 minute movie, a plot of intrigue unfolds among scenes of unnecessary violence.

Look forward to a lot of this.

As far as the good and bad things, nothing necessarily sticks out to me. Jaycee Chan, as far as Chinese and English acting, seems to excel in the former and it is yet to be seen if he excels in the latter. Hopefully he’ll be given the chance. What’s strange is that it seemed that Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan all gave children to star in this movie, following their very particular fighting styles. Amazing, if you ask me. Decent, yet semi-cheesy special effects and digital graphics, a decent foreign cast, and some fantastically orchestrated fight scenes. I give Benny Chan (relation?) and the whole crew of this movie a 7.3 out of 10.


Neon Genesis Evangelion

I need to say this right now about the original Neon Genesis Evangelion. This is hard to watch. It’s harder to watch dubbed, at least, from my experience it is. I feel the director/writer Hideaki Anno said it best about the show. “It’s strange that ‘Evangelion’ has become such a hit – all the characters are so sick!” And to me, that’s not “sick” in a good way. These characters, to put it better, suck. The main characters of this anime somehow don’t develop as the show progresses. And their back stories and personalities are just as bad. I don’t mean to put down a classic anime, but this show had problems from its inception.

Okay, basic plot. Shinji Ikari, in the first episode, comes to Tokyo-3. He’s there because his father asked him

Shinji. Pouting and whining with no comfort from Rei.

to come. This sounds odd you say? Well it is. Shinji has not seen his father for years, basically they became estranged after his mother’s death. (And Shinji’s father was implicated… sort of… not really… I’m not sure…) His father, one of the creators of N.E.R.V.,  has created these “machines” known as Evangelions. EVA’s for short. And these machine’s soul purpose are to destroy Angels. These Angels have been hitting the Earth for the past 15 years. Known as 2nd impact, this Angel that comes to Earth is defeated, but not before major devastation is wrought. And because of the 2nd impact, Earth has been changed and N.E.R.V. and a coalition of countries have been tasked with defending the Earth.

Evangelion. A cast to hate due to their "sick"ness.

And it doesn’t stop there. Just wait til the last 2 episodes. Either it will bore you or fascinate you. Either/or, it will confuse you. In typical mecha WTF fashion, this show will confuse you. And/or frustrate you with its characters. First of all, scum of the Earth #1 is Shinji’s father, Gendo Ikari. He neglects his son, and then doesn’t care if he lives or dies. Quite the father figure. There’s Asuka Langley Soryu, the most annoying German/Japanese girl on the planet. If she’s not berating Shinji with insults and back-handed comments, she’s most likely speaking terrible German (That voice actress has no idea what German is.) And she hates her life. Basically. So that’s another strike against her, among countless strikes. Rei Ayanami is another classically boring character that is hard to comprehend. Her monotone voice (it’s explained) mixed with emotionless conversation makes her scenes hard to watch. Misato Katsuragi is a whorish female major with nothing more to do than worry about others and become promiscuously unsavory. Quite the combo, including a ridiculously sloppy apartment.

And those are just to name a few. And, as I said, the one bane of this show is that none of these characters change throughout the entire anime. Not a one. They all remain in their own worlds of self pity and pettiness until the end. And if that’s what other people got from this show, I’m sure that is also portrayed across the board, subbed or dubbed. I watched the dubbed and pretty much regretted it. It being a 1995 anime, precursor to the golden age of voice actors going on now, these voice actors are hired more for their voices than their acting skills. I will give credit to 2 though. Kyle Sturdivant does a great Greg Ayres impression without even knowing it as Kaworu Nagisa (can’t explain, too far in). And Aaron Krohn does a great job as Ryoji Kagi, Misato’s love interest and all around stud. Everyone else was most likely just in it for the chance to “attempt” to voice act. I’m not quite sure.

The EVAs are cool, I just don't know what to say about the show...

Other than that, I would give the show in total a 5.2 out of 10. The concept, above all, is actually very interesting. I have a soft spot for mecha anime, and this is considered one of the best and most original. It is a classic. But I’m not sure it suits everyone’s taste. And that’s why they re-did the ending and added the movies for a different perspective on Neon Genesis Evangelion. The comments on symbolism and religion are quite prominent. But not until the end. The psychological/philosophical musings became redundant, as it seemed they were just lines to fill time more than actual reevaluations of the meaning of life. But I am interested to see the takes that were made after the original. So we’ll just have to wait a while and see what’s in store. And I’ll make sure to make a review to fill in all my “fans” with. But seriously, if you view my blog weekly/daily, why not subsribe? It’d let me know what people wanna see me review and what people’s interests are. Thanks for reading always, it’s a real treat inviting you to The Abyss.