“Drive” is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. The look, the music, the acting, and the script all help transcend the film to more than entertainment, to a piece of art. Nicolas Winding Refn directs this critically acclaimed film adapted from the novel by James Sallis. Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt man by day and a getaway driver by night. Gosling is perfect in the role and has gone from “Mickey Mouse Club” member to one of the best actors in the world. His performance as the unnamed driver is riveting and Gosling seems to have a gift for choosing amazing parts in interesting films. “Drive” has an incredible opening sequence and the score, composed by Cliff Martines is mesmerizing. Carey Mulligan is extremely wonderful as Irene, the drivers neighbor. She really blew me away with her performance of a women lost to her circumstances. As a young mother whose husband is in jail she is drawn to Goslings character. Just as their relationship starts to blossom her husband gets out of jail and comes home. Soon after being released her husband is forced to commit a robbery in order to protect his family. The driver who has developed feelings for Irene and her son Benicio offers to help in order to protect their family, unfortunately things go very wrong very fast and everyone is put in more danger. Bryan Cranston is great as the drivers mentor and you cant help but feel for his character who has good intentions but very bad luck. Albert Brooks and Ron Pearlman play mobsters who at first are going to sponsor the driver and his mentor for a stock car but later want them dead for their involvement in the botched robbery. Great to see Brooks as a knife toting bad guy and Pealman is terrific as a Jewish mobster with a pizzeria named Nino. This film will take you back to a time in cinema not filled with product placement and CGI. Where story was what mattered and movie making was about more than just profit. “Drive” is available now on DVD, if you havent seen it stop wasting time reading this and get to it.
“The Big Year” is a film about bird watching and unfortunately just as interesting. Sadly, the best way to really sum up my feelings about this movie are ehhh. It really is a shame cause I was really looking forward to this film and psyched about its incredible cast of comedic actors; Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Jim Parsons, Rashida Jones, Joel McHale, Kevin Pollack, Anjelica Huston, Dianne Wiest, JoBeth Williams, Brian Dennehy, Rosamund Pike, Tim Blake Nelson, and narrated by John Cleese. I think director David Frankel should have focused less on getting such an awesome cast and more on a funny script. Huston is the only one who really stands out and the funniest part of the movie as ship captain Annie Auklet. The rest of the cast really seems wasted, there are so many known actors, forget the birds it feels like you are star watching. Cleese does make for a great narrator and I would love to hear him do more animal themed narrations. While this movie is nice and has a sweet message I think the problem is it just isn’t really funny. Which is really hard to deal with when you’re watching a movie with three of the funniest people on the planet. Martin, Wilson, and Black each play avid bird watchers who all set out for a big year, a quest to find the most species of bird in North America. Wilson is the past champ who will stop at nothing to be the greatest “birder” of all time, Martin is a top CEO who is trying to retire and pursue his dream of birding, and Black is a slacker computer programmer with daddy issues who is obsessed with birds. They are all desperate to have the biggest year and go to great lengths to find the most species. All three characters are fun, just not funny! I was totally disappointed at the lack of laughs from the comedic dream team. It really makes you wonder if Martin has given up when even a scene with Jack Black is a bore. The film is very nice and has a wonderful message that will make you want to hug your closest loved one. If you are looking for a movie to watch with old people for your community service, then maybe I would recommend this one. “The Big Year” is currently available on DVD.
“Contagion” is a deeply provocative medical/thriller/disaster film directed by Steven Soderbergh. Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet are just a few of the stars that make up the incredible cast. Soderbergh is a master at weaving together different story lines and uses the technique flawlessly to show the world-wide spread and reaction to the deadly disease. I will definitely be washing my hands a lot more and carrying sanitizer after watching this film. It is very scary to think that after all we do to protect ourselves from harm something as insignificant as a touch could lead to our demise. As the disease spreads and ultimately goes public, panic and outrage engulf the public. As each victims immune system breaks down so does society. Panic and fear threaten life around the world and lead to kidnappings and riots. The whole cast is incredible and each performance is though provoking. Even Paltrow is compelling as one of the first victims and I really enjoyed seeing her head cut open in an autopsy scene. Law is particularly good as a corrupt blogger exposing the virus and profiting from it. Soderbergh really knows how to direct an ensemble and there is not one bad performance in the movie. “Contagion” is more than a thriller it is a horror film and what makes it so scary is it could happen. It wont take zombies or global warming for the world to collapse just a virus from an animal unknowingly spread from person to person, mother to son, friend to friend, stranger to you. “Contagion” is out on DVD just make sure to wash your hands after you rent it.
“Sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest places.” This is the tag line and theme of the legal thriller “Puncture”. Chris Evans stars as a drug addicted lawyer who uncovers a healthcare and pharmaceutical conspiracy involving the suppression of safe plastic needles. Evans does a great job and proves he can still fight for truth and justice without donning tights. His portrayal of a drug addict is spot on and the performance is raw and compelling. The whole issue of Safe Needles is a very important one that does need more attention. Letting capitalism dictate healthcare is a nasty practice where profits are put before of human lives. I was not aware the role plastic needles had in the spread of Aids in Africa or the amount of people infected at hospitals here in America. The directors Adam Kassen and Mark Kassen (who also stars in the film) do a great job of bringing this true story to the screen and it is hard to believe that a company could get away with putting people in danger for a dollar. Brett Cullen is great as a high priced lawyer into mind games that represents the needle company. The film also stars character actor Marshall Bell as the inventor of the safe needle. Bell has had some small roles in great movies like “Stand by Me” and “Total Recall.” He is fantastic in the film and it is great to see him in a larger role. Highly recommend this movie! It has great performances and raises awareness for an important issue. “Puncture” is out in DVD.
When you live in a time where no one ages past twenty-five and nearly everyone is extremely good-looking there is only one person that could save the day… Justin Timberlake. JT may have the moves but he is running out of time, literally. In 2161 you are given only a year to live once you turn twenty-five and time itself is currency. Andrew Niccol wrote, produced and directed this very stylish science fiction thriller. The film is a bit reminiscent of Niccol’s first film “Gattaca”. JT stars with Amanda Seyfried as a sort of Bonnie and Clyde meets Robin Hood pair that want to redistribute the time fairly. In this sence the film acts as a nice metaphor for the inequality of wealth in Americas. The poor get poorer and die, while the rich get richer and live. The poor(most Republicans) go along with the system cause the believe one day they could be rich. I really dug this aspect of the movie and wish JT would start doing this in real life with money rather than time. Seyfried is great in the movie and looks particularly hot as a red head. While the movie is cool it is packed with tons of cliques and a bit to stylish for my taste. Hell, almost everyone in the movie is a pretty boy and many of the sets just feel static. Matt (“White Collar”) Bomer, Cillian (Scarecrow) Murphy, and Alex Pettyfer also star in this movie and their looks in addition to their wardrobe makes the movie feel like a Lord and Taylor catalog. You can see many of the big moments coming a mile away and the way “time” is used in the lexicon of the film gets tired really fast. Personally I would recommend seeing “Blade Runner” but if you are a huge N’SYNC fan and have the time… Check it out on DVD now.
“The Whistleblower” is a terrific film and harrowing thriller. Rachel Weisz plays mid western police officer Kathryn Bolkavac, who is trying to get a transfer so she could be closer to her daughter. After being denied she accepts a position as a U.N. peacekeeper because of its high salary. She is sent to Bosnia where she discovers how badly women are treated there. Post war Bosnia was a real scary place and the war caused many women to be treated no better than animals. This film is inspired by real events that are as gripping as they are shocking. Bolkavac soon discovers a deadly sex trafficking ring and an international conspiracy behind it. While trying to save the badly mistreated kidnapped women she is threatened and ultimately fired. Venessa Redgrave plays a humanitarian taken by Bolkavac and willing to help her stop the horrible treatment of women. Weisz does an incredible job in this film and it is nice to see an actor lending their star power to such an overlooked issue. Sex trafficking is a growing problem around the world and one that should get more media attention. Sadly, this horrible problem does not get much media attention in our pop culture obsessed society. Perhaps the Kardashians need to have their next reality show about them be kidnapped and sold in to sex slavery for it to get the media attention it deserves. I highly recommend this film! It has great performances a captivating story and it deals with a very powerful subject matter. “The Whistleblower” is now available on DVD.
This movie is so bad that I can’t belive I actually watched the whole thing. I am actually embarrassed to admit that I watched it and really considered not reviewing it. But here I am to say, Booooooooo! I have not seen any of the “Twilight” movies and thought I would give Taylor Lautner a chance, and boy that was a bad idea. This movie plays like a bad Disney Channel TV movie with a dash of crappy “Magnum P.I.” action. The movie also stars Alfred Molina (“throw me the idol”!), Sigourney Weaver (Aliens can’t even kill her), and Lily Collins (cutie!), why they agreed to be in this awful crap beats the hell out of me. Worst of all it is directed by John “Boyz In the Hood” mother fucking Singleton?!!?!!? Someone must have a picture of him blowing a white guy to have blackmailed him into making this film. There is no reason to watch this movie unless you want to torture your self. I’m sorry Mr. Lautner but stick to playing a CGI wolf cause you suck. Sorry ladies but the guy has like one facial expression and the only role it might work for is a “Zoolander” sequel. Here is some advice for you TL just cause you want to star in a movie does not mean you should take the first one they throw at you! Don’t bother with this one and if it is on during your flight, take a nap!