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Source Code

April 26, 2011

It used to be when you took a girl out to the movies, you still had money to buy her dinner and possibly discuss what you saw after the movie was finished. Unfortunately, with the rising price of, uh, everything, a trip to the movies can break the bank. $10.50 per ticket? Popcorn for $7? Sour Patch Watermelon $300? It’s kind of getting insane. Sorry, had to insert my inner Jew into that. Obviously my girlfriend and I went to see Source Code this weekend. But besides my inner George Costanza, the rest of me was actually extremely glad I spent $5,000 to see this flick. Watch the trailer and it makes this movie look like a combination of three previously made movies. The first and most obvious is Deja Vu with Denzel Washington, where they can see into the past but only as time moves forward, and there is a terrorist they have to find. The second is Eagle Eye, in which Shia Labeouf is chased around America by what seems to be a terrorist organization, but is actually, you guessed it, a crazy computer program. And finally the worst movie this trailer looks just like is the awful and disgraceful Vantage Point. Let me just say that with all the very good actors in Vantage Point (besides for Matthew Fox, I  hate you Matthew Fox), I truly believed that flashing back to the exactly same vantage point (get it?) repeatedly through out the movie was probably the most frustrating technique I have ever seen in any movie, ever. But Source Code actually proved me 100% wrong. What’s wrong with Vantage Point is Matthew Fox, and everything else about it. The trailer had me doubting this film, but the director had me intrigued. Source Code was helmed by sophomore Duncan Jones, who’s first film, the eerie and mind bending sci-fi Moon absolutely blew me away. So continued to have high hopes. Fun fact, Duncan Jones is actually David Bowie’s son.

The Source Code actually just takes you into Labyrinth

Source Code‘s tone is reminiscent of the question inducing Moon. But what is most magnetic about the film is it throws red herrings at the audience like Mariano Rivera fastballs. It is truly a thriller, and a guessing game. It will keep you on your toes and at the edge of your seat. I’m going to try not to ruin anything in this breif explanation, but if you really want to know nothing before watching this movie I seriously advise you to stop here.

The film centers on Jake Gylenhall (always acceptable, never extraordinary) who wakes up on a train to Chicago. With no memory of who he is, why he is there, or who the hot but homely woman talking to him is (it’s Michelle Monaghan) he runs into the bathroom, only to find that his face is not his face. Time to officially freak out, which is precisely what he does. But before Jake, Michelle, or anyone can jump to any conclusions, BOOM, the train explodes. And then, BOOM, Jake wakes up in a metal octagon tank strapped to a chair, in his army uniform. Quickly a monitor turns on and Vera Farmiga begins to talk to our protagonist. It is clear this is a military operation, but the last thing Jake, who is now revealed to be Colonel Colter Stevens, remembers is getting in a helicopter in Afghanistan. Once he calms down and begins to remember everything except what is happening to him, Colleen Goodwin (Farmiga) explains to him that the train he was on exploded due to a terrorist attack 3 hours prior, and the bomber was on that train.  Now that bomber is threatening to blow up a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago, and it’s Steven’s task to go back in time and find the bomber.

The real Dirty Bomb

So Colleen and her boss Dr. Rutledge (played by the always supporting actor Jeffery Wright) keep sending Stevens back in time. What allows the military to do this is a program called the Source Code. The one, little, hiccup with this project is that it can only send you back for 8 minutes. So Steven’s keeps getting sent back in time, pretty much against his will, and keeps getting blown up. But every time Stevens is sent back he starts learning more about the train, the passengers, the differences. And every time he goes back, I found myself guessing who it could be. The duel mystery of who the bomber is, and what the Source Code really does, is put together very effectively. Although this just sounds like another who-dunnit terrorist movie, I can assure you, the revelations made through out the film are big and jaw-drop worthy. The best aspect of this movie is undoubtedly the script. Gylenhall is exactly what he is supposed to be; relatable, strong willed, and innocent. He is good, but again no exceptional. I wish Mr. Jones had decided to stick with his Moon star tried to get Sam Rockwell again. But no real complains about Mr. Gylenhall. Vera Farmiga does a fine job as usually, a little bland, but a stable and effective as the moral center of the film. This moral center becomes very important as clues about the Source Code and Colten Stevens come out. I will say no more because I would hate to ruin the film for anyone. Here is the first 5 minutes of the film, hope you enjoy! Tell me what you think, or if you have seen is, any good discusion starter would be great!

Warrior Trailer

April 26, 2011

Here is the new trailer for Warrior. It definitely looks a little bit like The Fighter (even the names sounds the same), but instead of boxing, this film will focus on the newly popularized sport of MMA. I’m very alright with that, since these fights can definitely be dramatic (plus it is insane that these guys actually cause each other as much pain as they do). What excites me most about this is the casting. The lead is Tom Hardy, who I have been following since his small but extremely memorable and hilarious roll as Handsom Bob in Guy Ritchie’s Rock’n’Rolla and one of my favorite films Layer Cake. Since then Mr. Hardy has been in a some great movies, including the Clockwork Orange-esk Bronson (incredible performance) and the tension breaker in Chris Nolan’s Inception. Warrior will bring Tom to a full sprint and an even stronger force in the American market as he is set to play in McG’s This Means War, the dramatic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and, most notably, as the villain the third installment of the Batman series The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy’s brother will be played by little known Australian actor Joel Edgerton who was brilliant as the only likable brother from the Oscar nominated Animal Kingdom. These two will face off well against each other, and I can’t wait to see Tom Hardy pull off some ridiculous MMA moves. Plus, points for the always insane Nick Nolte being thrown in there as deadbeat dad/trainer. I’m excited, I’ll probably vow to learn MMA for the 100th after watching it also.

The Nines

March 31, 2011

I have no idea how I stumbled on this movie on NetFlix. It was probably through the tags ‘mind-binding’ or ‘psychological thriller,’ which tend to be my bread and butter. However when I found it I obviously decided that it was a movie I might want to watch… somewhere down the road. So I saved it in my queue and went on to look for some other 90’s action movie, which are in abundance on NetFlix. But late last night my girlfriend and I couldn’t go to sleep and I told her to pick a random movie from my queue to watch. After watching the trailer she got really excited to watch The Nines, so I said “what the hell,” and I threw it on thinking that I would probably be asleep by the time Ryan Reynolds got his shirt off.

But as the movie progressed I became more and more interested in what was actually going on. Plus his shirt was already off way too early in the movie to go to sleep which is actually crazy. As a precursor to this review/breakdown I have to tell you that there are going to be a lot of spoilers. Like the entire movie. So if you really want to know nothing about this film before diving in I would stop reading now. The truth is I am not actually sure what went down in this film, so this is going to act less as a review and more as a method to work out the complexities of The Nines. Sorry, but this has to be done, because it is pretty rare when I don’t catch a film’s central plot or theme (Donnie Darko and any David Lynch movie do fall into that ‘need-to-watch-it-again’ category. And again and again and again). Now try and stay with me, because this is going to get insane, confusing, unbelievable, and extremely complex. First I’m just going to try to describe and break down the movie, and then I will critique it. Let’s see if I am up to the challenge…

There are three main actors within this film. The film itself is broken down into three separate parts or stories, in which the same three actors appear, but as different characters in each. By the way, three characters x three plot lines = 9. Thats just the beginning of the mind-blowing. Ryan Reynolds stars as Gary/Gavin/Gabriel. We are introduced to Gary, a famous hollywood actor, as he goes on a pretty intense bender (including drinking, driving, hiring a hooker, smoking crack, and getting arrested). Once he is taken home, he is put on house arrest. Enter Melissa McCarthy who plays Margaret/Melissa/Mary. In the first sequence she is Margaret, a PR handler who will be living with Gary for his internment. She is caring, but almost also over-involved. Gary is bored, and therefore begins to get obsessed with the number nine. He even finds a note on an orange sticky that says, “Look for the nines.” Gary also starts seeing himself all over his house, which really freaks him out. During his house arrest time he meets his neighbor Sarah. Hope Davis is the third character, and plays Sarah/Susan/Sierra. Sarah continues to try to get Gary out of his ‘prison’ of sorts. But Margaret confronts her, telling her that she knows that she is “one of the nines.” Eventually Gary gets fed up with home arrest, the nines popping up all over the place, his overweight roommate and watching another version of himself eat a sandwich. So he steps over the alarm boundary, a white light appears and boom! New reality…

Even Stevens gets house arrest and gets with this hot chick while Ryan Reynolds get's stuck with Melissa McCarthy and Hope Davis? Times have changed...

Back to reality, op, there goes gravity, op, there’s B.Rabbit… Wait, sorry thats 8 Mile, not The Nines (you see what I did there? 8,9? Clever right?) But really, flash of light, and there is Ryan Reynolds again. Except he’s not Gary any longer. He is now Gavin, a television writer on the brink of a deal to sign a knew TV show called ‘Knowing,’ in which a mother and child are lost. He is also being filmed by a reality TV crew. The mother in the show is supposed to be played by his best friend Melissa (played by Melissa McCarthy, I know, it’s confusing). In a conversation with Melissa, Gavin expresses his sentiments that he feels like he’s “haunting himself;” Melissa tells him to not sweat the small stuff and to only focus on the nines in life. Gavin then writes down “Look for the nines” on the same orange sticky he found in the first part. However, Gavin is present with a problem when TV Executive Susan (Hope Davis) pushes for Gavin to ditch his friend Melissa in favor of a more attractive, well-known actress. Melissa and Gavin end up in a fight and after walking on the street, Gavin yells at the camera crew to get lost. Someone walking by asks Gavin who he is talking to and it is revealed there is no camera crew at all. As Gavin begins to look around he sees floating sevens over everyones heads. Of course there is a nine floating over his own head.

 

It's all a video game... Just kidding... or am I?

Ok, so at this point I am confused, and a little annoyed that I have no idea what is going on, which makes me want to find out even more. Perfect timing. The narrative flashes back to a the first part. Gary is sitting and listening to Margaret explain who he really is. She tells him that he is “a multidimensional being of vast, almost infinite power” that has been creating, decreating and recreating the world, casting himself as a character in his own story. Let that sink in for a second. She also reveals that he has become trapped in his own realities and has forgotten who he actually is. He can destroy the world with a single thought, and he exists in many different forms but none of those forms are real. The numbers refer to the scale in which entities can create or destroy. God is 10, humans are 7, G (short for Ryan Reynolds character(all of his names start with a G)) is, you guessed it, a 9. She also tells him that koalas are 8’s and are weather controlling telepaths, which would be so cool if it were true. G obviously freaks, which is what initially sent him over the edge and made him step over the alarm boundary.

 

God wishes he looked like Ryan Reynolds. Actually I'm sure he could if he wanted to. Sorry for calling the wrinkles out God...

So is everyone with me? I’m expecting that’s a ‘no’ because I’m not even sure I’m still with me. But lets finish this up. Here comes reality number three. Gabriel (Reynolds) is an acclaimed video game creator on a road trip with his daughter Noelle (Biblical reference?) and wife Mary (McCarthy) when their car breaks down. He leaves them to try to get reception and on his walk he runs into another hiker, Sierra (Davis), who leads him off into the woods to her car, so she can give him a lift to the gas station. She gives him water, but soon after drinking it he feels drowsy and she admits to have poisoned him. Sierra then tells Gabriel about the three parallel universes he has created, and has been living in, and that he forgot who he was, and that he forgot it wasn’t real.

Back at the car Noelle has gone missing after seeing a video on their camcorder of her dad being his other realities Gary and Gavin. But Gabriel appears out of no where with her in his arms. Mary, quickly realizes that he is not who he seems and he knows who he is. She tells Gabriel he needs to go and that the world is not real. Gabriel tells her that there were 90 different variations of the universe and this is the last one. Gabriel then realises he must go and removes the green lace (that I didn’t notice the entire movie) from his wrist, at which point the universe peels away into nothing.

 

I love that this is one of the first images that comes up on Google when I typed in 'Confused'

Ok, so since the plot line is so confusing, I think it is easier to think of the movie based on the characters. G (Reynolds) is actually a demi-god of sorts who continues to create realities and put himself in them. But after creating 90 different realities, G got lost inside of them. M (McCarthy) is a creation of G’s who is in his realities to help him. M could refer to either Mother or biblically it could be Mary. She could also be a human woman that G becomes extremely attached to and continues to recreate every time his reality ‘reboots.’ S (Davis) is another 9, a demi-god. I’m not sure whether S stand for Savior or Satan, but either way she is trying to pull G out of this self-constructed prison of multiple realities. Each character in every plot line reflects these actions. G is the creator and is taking part in a constructed world around him. Therefore he is an actor, a writer, and a video game creator, all creative professions. M is nurturing and honest, which is  reflected in her roles as a roommate, a best friend, and a wife. S is always stable and trying to pull G away from these realities. She is represented as a seductive neighbor, an overbearing, instructing boss, and a devious stranger.

John August, the writer and director of The Nines, also wrote the movie Go!, which happens to be one of my favorite movies ever and a movie that everyone should go find right now. Like Go!, The Nines has a distinct voice and is an extremely interesting concept. I love the idea that a creator can get lost in his own project, much like any artist, actor, musician can loose themselves to their work. Some ideas remind me of The Matrix. But I don’t feel like the twist, the OMG moment, really sunk in or was that understandable. The movie is still extremely vague and leaves so many questions unanswered. But maybe that makes it better, because everyone can interpret it in their own way, much like Inception left the ending open to interpretation. It you want to get your mind twisted, definitely check it out.

Oldboy

March 29, 2011

You don't want to run into this guy

I will start this off with a little piece of advice: don’t watch an extremely sadistic, violent, sexual, Korean movie while at work with your 50-year old boss who isn’t supposed to know you are watching movies. That being said, it really doesn’t matter the circumstances in which you choose to watch Oldboy, because no matter where you are, who you are with, or what insane, horrific films you have seen before, Oldboy will undoubtedly blow your mind. And I mean that literally, your brain actually explodes while witnessing the events of this film. Although that may not sounds like your cup of tea, it is a rare experience when a movie can truly shock you, while holding your attention to the last second of flickering light. Shock and awe movies like Saw, Human Centipede (just watch Tosh.0‘s Spoiler Alert of Human Centipede and you’ll have a much better time then watching the actual movie), and Hostel just rely on gore and plot holes to create low budget, horribly acted horror flicks. Ok fine, Saw was pretty good. It must have been the 13 movies they made after the first one kind of ruined the entire experience for me. But Oldboy, like other Korean thrillers, breaks this mold with a hammer to the cranium, literally. I’m not sure if I got lucky or not, but I watched the film with English overdubs, which definitely helps out when you are pretending to fold shirts instead of watching kung-fu. But I feel like I lost a lot of the nuances in terms of emotionality from the tones in the actors’ voices. So you might want to buckle down and watch it with subtitles (it’s worth it).

This film centers around an average man named Dae-Su Oh (played by Min-sik Choi) who after a drunken night out on his daughters birthday is kidnapped. This is not just any other kidnapping. There is no ransom, no requests, and no apparent kidnappers. Instead, Dae-su is put in a hotel-like room, with no windows and only a TV to keep him company. As the days, and months go on, Dae-su learns nothing about those holding him captive, what their motives are, or why they will only serve him fried dumplings. Dae-su is held captive for 15 long years, and never learns anything about the reasons for this punishment.

 

I could totally eat these for 15 years and have no problems

Unlike most, Dae-su makes the best of his time in his own little world. That is besides the multiple attempts to kill himself. When he is not trying to escape his own personal hell, he is training. He quickly looses weight and starts to teach himself kung-fu. He learns everything he possibly can from what he sees on TV. He also makes a list of everyone who could have possibly done this to him, consisting of everyone he wronged through out his life. And occasionally his room is gassed and he is put to sleep. He never knows what done to him while he is out, but every time Dae-su tries to kill himself, he is gassed and when he wake up he has been bandaged up and his life has been saved. He is thoroughly confused, frustrated, loathsome, insane, and pretty much every bad emotion you can feel. Dae-su begins to give up hope.

And as if by divine intervention, Dae-su is set free. After 15 years of captivity, Dae-su wake up in a suitcase on the top of a building in a new suit, and is officially even more confused then ever. He just so happens to stumble upon a man about to kill himself, to whom he relates his awful story to. It’s clear that, like his captivity, his release is some part of a plan. So Dae-su sets into motion his own plan to avenge what has befallen him and find those that took 15 years away from him. But first he must test out his skills, because punching a wall for 15 years is not the same as fighting real live bad guys. So he picks a fight with some local street thugs, and thoroughly ruins their day, quickly realizing that all his training actually paid off.

 

It's good he didn't bump into Mr. Norris

Immediately things start to get weird for Dae-su (as if they weren’t already weird enough). He is given a phone and a stack of money by some random guy on the street. He then goes into a sushi shop where he meets the chef, a girl named Mi-do. There is an instantaneous, uncanny attraction between the two of them. So Dae-su decides to really get her blood flowing by eating a giant live octopus in front of her and passing out on the counter (great first date). Mi-do decides that this is guy she wants to get to know and help him out. Although at first Dae-su is reluctant to let Mi-do help him, he eventually come to feel extremely strong and love Mi-do as she aids him in his search for his captors. He also continues to fight hoards of men with his weapon of choice; a hammer. Amazing fight sequences ensue.

Speaking of his captors, the one responsible for taking Dae-su actually present himself to our vengeful hero. But this fails to answer anymore questions, except that the answer is buries in Dae-su’s past. I honestly can not say any more then what I have already divulged because the twist at the final act of this thrill ride is too amazing/terrible to ruin it. You will never forget having watched this film, I can promise that. Undeniably the single most heart scratching, eye gouging, hands over the mouth moment happens when you finally conceptualize the true scope of what has been done to this man. It’s unbelievable and must be watched. Unless your feeling like a comedy.

Captain America: The First Avenger Trailer

March 24, 2011

I am officially very excited for this movie. The first trailer looked very good, however this one definitely takes it up a notch. First, I will admit that I love Chris Evans. Yes, he can be cheesy. Yes, he can overact. But, even with that, he is so entertaining to watch, quick with his lines, and can be witty and funny simultaneously. Plus if you haven’t seen London then you haven’t seen Evan’s full range of emotionality. The kid’s got skills. Of course they could pull a Fantastic Four and royally screw it up (which also had Evans in it). But I don’t this that is the case. Evans should now be able to tell the difference between a cheesy superhero script and a real comic book drama script, which I sincerely hope this is. Hugo Weaving as the Nazi bad guy with a giant red skull for his head (who’s actually named Red Skull) can’t be a bad thing either. I’m excited to see how this movie may affect the upcoming movie The Avengers, which will bring together the likes of Captain America, Iron Man (the always awesome Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (who’s movie will be coming out this summer), Black Widow (ScarJo), The Hulk (which will be taken over by Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner aka The Man) and a bunch of other amazing and ridiculous characters/actors. I hope Evan’s chokes up and hits this one out of the park (because it doesn’t look like Thor is going to).

Sympathy For Delicious

March 22, 2011

From what I can gather from this trailer, it seems like Orlando Bloom is a rising rock star and Dean O’Dwyer (played by newcomer Christopher Thornton) is a paralyzed guy who’s hands have the power to heal people, and instead of doing that he becomes a world famous wheelchair DJ with the help of Mr. Bloom. OK, I’ll admit that sounds insane and Orlando is definitely not my first choice for the leading man a movie these days. But the great Mark Ruffalo is making his directoral debut and I don’t want to miss that. Plus the rest of the cast looks pretty amazing. The concept and characters, at first glance at least, seems to fit or mesh with societies ‘hipster’ ideals; caring, but pretending not to care, and therefore possibly caring even more about everything, from culture to society, and just life in general, yet still doing nothing to fix what they see. I love the name also, a great play on Sympathy for the Devil. The film got great reviews from some, while some refused to sit through it. A film about faith and rock and roll usually doesn’t have a huge draw. I don’t think it will be coming to theaters around either of us anytime soon unfortunately. I guess I’m going to have to have to find some other way to syphon this movie. Expect a review from Ian the Movie Doctor sometime soon.

The Kids Are Alright

March 20, 2011

Eh, the kids are O.K.

I guess I went on a tiny Oscar nominee movie pattern after watching The Kings Speech. I actually went back and re-watched The Fighter, The Social Network, Animal Kingdom (which I cannot recommend enough, please go see this amazing movie), and Point Break (okay, it was made in 1991, but let’s be honest, this movie should be nominated and win best picture every year). I told you I watch a lot of movies… Anyway, I picked this movie up and watched it with my girlfriend because it had been nominated. I also think Mark Ruffalo is a seriously underrated actor and I hope he gets more clout and respect in Hollywood. I also hope that when he plays The Hulk in the upcoming Avengers movie (which has every awesome actor in Hollywood in it), the role doesn’t throw his career off track like it did for Eric Bana and Edward Norton. I mean, The Time Travelers Wife? Come on Eric, you can do better then that. Off track again, where was I? Oh yes, The Kids Are Alright. Besides for Mr. Ruffalo, this film also stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore (you probably realized that they were in it from their giant names on the poster. Think the font’s big enough?). The highly acclaimed  and  versatile actresses play a lesbian couple with two children living in some extremely hippie part of California. Nic (Bening) is a surgeon who supports the family, while Jules’ (Moore) businesses continue to flounder. They have a loving relationship, but it is by no means perfect. Besides for the stress they have between them about who is the breadwinner or which of them is the more responsible parent, they also are having some problems in the bedroom. Having their kids overhear the gay porn they are watching is probably the biggest buzz kill ever.

Their children were born (?), brought by stork (no), created (?), both popped out of a test tube (check) after their mothers picked a batch of sperm from one single donor. But by now the kids have grown up, developed personalities and sensitivities. Joni is Nic’s biological daughter, while Laser is Jules’ biological son. This is never clearly stated in the movie, but the kids’ subtle different in treatments to their moms and slightly different attitudes reflects each parent in their own right. Joni is played by Mia Masikowska, who’s turn as Alice in Tim Burton’s pretty terrible Alice In Wonderland was disappointing. But she makes up for it here as a graduating high school senior, who, like so many kids in high school, is curious and can’t actually be defined by any specific group. It ain’t The Breakfast Club anymore in most high schools. Up and coming actor Josh Hutcherson takes the role of the rebellious, skating/athletic younger brother. This kid has the appeal of Hollywood and I would guess will be getting work for a while. The siblings play well off each other, even though they look nothing a like.

 

Oh, the John Hughes good old days, when everyone had their clique and didn't have to be a hipster

But now that Joni is about to graduate, she thinks it’s about that time to find out where her moms found the  y-chromosome they needed. After surprisingly extremely little digging, and unbeknownst to her moms, she find his phone number and calls her father. Enter Paul (Ruffalo), a beatnik, motorcycle driving, organic restaurant owning, extremely promiscuous, and a newly extremely confused father of two. The kids end up meeting up with him, and each has their own reaction to him. He’s obviously not what they expected, but then again what did they expect? Both sides seem like they are ready to except this situation and try to make it work. Even Paul seems somewhat moved. But then again, he also seems like it could just be the next thing on the long road of life.

But theres still one problem. And that is the married lesbian couple who don’t know their kids have been chilling with their real, extremely straight, biological daddy. It all eventually comes out in another awkward but really funny seen in which the mothers believe and suggest to their son that he is gay. So once the jig is up, it’s time to meet up and start a true vision of the new American family.

 

The nuclear family has officially gone nuclear

One, big, happy, lesbian, straight, biologically created, family, right? Well, turns out that a single, rugged, good looking guy thrown in between sexually frustrated lesbians with very different dispositions is not the best thing for the relationship. As the kids get closer and closer with their new dad/friend, Nic feels further and further away from her family, which in turn puts her closer and closer to the bottom of multiple wine bottles. Paul is also quick to accept Jules’ offer to help him with some landscaping for his garden, her first job in her new business after a long line of failed ones. He’s even quicker to reintroduce her to the straight life as they almost immediately forget the garden completely. And so, as you may imagine, trouble ensues in SoCal. Annette Bening has an amazing turn in the third act that was worthy of an Oscar nom. Julianne Moore tends to be very hit or mis with me (Children of Men: Hit, The Big Lebowski: Amazing, Next: Miss times infinity). She was somewhere in between in this one. But the awesomely awkward gardner she works with makes up for it. The Kids Are Alright isn’t a perfect film, but it is fun, realistic, and funny. The characters are well defined and it shows us that no matter whether the relationship is ‘traditional’ or not, problems, solutions, ups, downs, pain, and joy are always in the cards. Plus there’s a pretty good soundtrack…