Today is November 8TH and that can only mean one thing in the United States Of American and that it’s Election Day 2016. So to help celebrate the fact that it’s Election Day, I decided to watch a film that had to do with campaigns and such and that film is 1997’s Wag The Dog. It’s election time and the President of the United States has landed himself in hot water when a scandal breaks out. To try and help keep away the backlash of the scandal, the presidents trusted aides decide to hire famous spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro). Brean will come up with a brilliant scheme to take away the attention with eccentric producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman), but the question is can they pull it off? The film also stars Anne Heche (Volcano) as Winifred Ames, Denis Leary (Suicide Kings) as Fad King, Willie Nelson as Johnnie Dean, Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Liz Butsky, Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) as Stacey Lime, William H. Macy (Fargo) as CIA Agent Young, John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher) as John Levy, Woody Harrelson (Rampart) as SGT. Schumann, Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place) as Amy Cain, David Koechner (Paul) as Director, and the film was directed by Barry Levinson (Rock The Kasbah).
I have to say that putting Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman on the same screen was a brilliant idea. They played off of each other so well and you could definitely see the chemistry between them. I had to look it up for myself, but these two have only been in four films together (Sleepers, Meet The Fockers, and Little Fockers). The idea of the film is actually an interesting look at what happens behind the scenes of an election campaign. I mean think about it, how much information that gets passed on to the media that you see is 100% true? Don’t you think something like that could be happening now with this election and we don’t even know about it? I think politics is a dirty game anyways and this film shows you just that. I just didn’t really like the ending because I loved Dustin Hoffman’s character, but I won’t give that away to you. The acting in the film is great and a lot of today’s stars are featured in this film and Woody Harrelson was perfect in the film as a crazed nut that they use to their advantage. The cinematography in the film was great, the editing was amazing as well. I wish I had seen this movie way back when I decided to watch Bulworth because this was a great film. I am going to give Wag The Dog an A for a final grade.
Sometimes there are films that come out that either get a bad review or there just not in the theaters that long that I overlook them. That was definitely the case with today’s film Hail, Caesar! which was gone before I got around to seeing it. The film stars Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Hollywood Fixer Eddie Mannix who works for Capitol Studios. Eddie has a lot on his plate with having to take a western star (Alden Ehrenreich) and shuffle him to a completely different genre, trying to hide a pregnancy out of wedlock from the public eye, and even trying to figure out who kidnapped his lead star (George Clooney) during the middle of filming a really big epic movie. It’s either that or he accepts a job to work in a completely different field. The film also stars Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Laurence Laurentz, Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers) as DeeAnna Moran, Tilda Swinton (Moonrise Kingdom) as Thora/ Thessaly Thacker, Channing Tatum (22 Jump Street) as Burt Gurney, Frances McDormand (Fargo) as C.C. Calhoun, Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street) as Joe Silverman, Veronica Osorio (Diego And Valentina) as Carlotta Valdez, Alison Pill (Milk) as Mrs. Mannix, Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit) as Communist Writer, and the film was directed by Ethan and Joel Cohen (No Country For Old Men).
I am a huge fan of the olden days of Hollywood and America at the time with the fashion, hairstyles, and just the way of life. So it’s easy for me to say that I really enjoyed that aspect of the film, but as far as the overall film was concerned, I didn’t think it was a great film. I thought the film was relatively OK for a Cohen’s brothers movie. The film for a while seemed to be a behind the scenes look at what went down in the classic Hollywood era of the big studios and the way they covered up scandals from the press. The kidnapping of George Clooney’s character to me seemed more like a side story than the main focus of the film which kind of bothered me, but usually anything that was happening it always went back to it. Some of the things I enjoyed watching was how the films were made and the big scenes that we saw like the pool scene with Scarlet or the bar scene with Channing. Those were some of the cool moments of the film that maybe people overlooked. The film was also commentary on the ideals of those times especially with the paranoia of communism. That was a big issue back in those days and the writers are the ones that organize it in this film. They feel they need more recognition than they get which was also maybe a sign of the times then. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s not great either. That is why I am going to give the film an B for a final grade. Rent it from Redbox or On demand if it’s available.
When you have started watching a series like Jurassic Park, you might as well go all the way down the line and finish exactly what you started. That is why I chose to finish the series by watching Jurassic Park III for today’s film. Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is over the events that transpired during the first Jurassic Park film and is continuing to do what he loves to do which is study the dinosaurs. After a couples child goes missing on the second island (from The Lost World Film), they trick Dr. Grant and his assistant Billy (Alessandro Nivola) into going there. The only problem with all of this is the couple were not aware that Dr. Grant never was on this island and so they are put into a situation that he is all too familiar with. The film also stars William H. Macy (Fargo) as Paul Kirby, Téa Leoni (Fun With Dick And Jane) as Amanda Kirby, Trevor Morgan (The Sixth Sense) as Eric Kirby, Michael Jeter (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas) as Udesky, John Diehl (A Time To Kill) as Cooper, Bruce A. Young (Basic Instinct) as Nash, Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) as Ellie, and the film was directed by Joe Johnston (Jumanji).
On the scale of what is the best film of the series, I would have to say that this isn’t one of them, but that doesn’t mean that I thought the film was bad. It’s actually not that bad of a movie, but it’s not the best in the whole series. In fact, if I were to rank this one with the other three in the series (that includes Jurassic World), this one would be last. As soon as Jurassic World 2 is done filming in 2017 and in theaters, I will then rank them as part of my Top 5. One thing that bothered me about the movie was Téa Leoni, I don’t know why, but her character annoyed me a lot. I was hoping the whole time that she was going to be eaten by a raptor. I know what you’re thinking and I know it sounds evil, but she attracted a really scary dinosaur by the name of Spinosaurus that kills a T-Rex in the film. The other thing I hated about the film was the last Raptor sequence the film had. These Raptors have been relentless in the previous two films, but because of a helicopter sound, they run away with their eggs. That to me was just too dumb and not cool. After two films with cool raptor sequences, I expect a lot more in the third film. Besides the usual dinosaurs, we are treated to a cool Pterodactyl chance sequence that made the film worth watching after all. As I said before, it’s not the best film in the series, but if you are a completest like myself then check it out on Netflix right now. I am going to give the film an B- for a final grade.
There was a time in some parts of the country whose history was very dark and very shameful. In the 1960’s, the living conditions for African Americans were not very ideal as racism and segregation were at it’s peak especially in Mississippi. For today’s film, Mississippi Burning, we explore the atrocities that mankind committed during the civil rights movement. Two drastically different FBI agents, Allen Ward (Willem Dafoe) and Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) are sent to Jesper, Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights activists. The only problem is that they can’t seem to get anyone to talk out of fear and for some of them it would mean implicating themselves. That doesn’t stop the two agents from moving forward and not in reverse as they try their best to bring justice. The film also stars Frances McDormand (Fargo) as Mrs. Pell, Brad Dourif (Child’s Play) as Deputy Clinton Pell, R. Lee Emery (Full Metal Jacket) as Mayor Tillman, Gailard Sartain (The Outsiders) as Sheriff Ray Stuckey, Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day) as Clayton Towney, Michael Rooker (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as Frank Bailey, Pruitt Taylor Vince (Monster) as Lester Cowens, Kevin Dunn (Warrior) as Agent Bird, Tobin Bell (Saw) as Agent Stokes, and the film was directed by Alan Parker (Pink Floyd The Wall).
This was an excellent film that featured excellent performances by just about everyone in the film. Even Darius McCrary who starred in the hit 90’s TGIF TV show Family Matters was very good in the film so it’s hard to choose an MVP, but for me it would go to Gene Hackman. His character and his performance were bad ass and you were rooting for him the whole entire time hoping that he would get to do things his way. I do have to say that Willem Dafoe was a good balance to Hackman because he represented doing things by the book while Hackman was all man and did what he felt was right. It’s hard to believe today that people thought and acted the way they did like they did in this film. Some parts of the county were pretty ignorant to the idea of human rights.You see the KKK in action in this film and you see how hateful they are. I looked it up and this film is loosely based on a true story. Loosely based because they changed the names of people and they created a fictional town in Mississippi. If you want to look up the facts on the real story, then click here. Like I said before, this was an amazing film and if you are a movie fan and a fan of history then this is the film for you. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade, it’s playing on Starz/Encore this month.
So, I have been ranking the top 25 for each month in the challenge and I am about to up the ante by ranking the top 25 films of the first quarter of 2016. That is right, I am going to rank the top 25 films of the first quarter which means all the films from January up to April which makes it the first quarter of the year. Just in case you were wondering what didn’t make the list, well it’s simple, it’s whatever movies are not listed in this list. There are some films that are still the clear cut top films and some that may surprise you. Check it out below:
25. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
23. Cinderella Man
22. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
20. Kingsman: The Secret Service
17. The Hateful Eight
16. The Dark Crystal
15. Midnight Cowboy
14. The Gift
13. The Fifth Element
12. Bridge Of Spies
11. City Of God
10. The Good Dinosaur
7. Alice In Wonderland
4. Mystic River
2. The Jungle Book
For today’s film, I chose to watch a western because of the love my father has for the original American folklore that is Westerns. Not to mention that the film stars Scott Eastwood (Fury) who is the son of legendary Western actor Clint Eastwood. Eastwood plays Civil War vet Jackson, a man with a lot of skeletons in his closet. Nevertheless, he is sent on a crazy journey as his wife was kidnapped by Mexicans so it is up to him to try and save her before it’s too late. Although, the journey to save his wife is going to prove to be more dangerous than he expected. The film also stars Walton Goggins (House Of 1000 Corpses) as Ezra, Camilla Belle (The Lost World: Jurassic Park) as Alexsandra, Adam Beach (Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser) as Nakoma, Samuel Marty (Fargo) as Ishani, José Zúñiga (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) as Guillermo, Tzi Ma (The Lady Killers) as Quok Mi, Joaquim de Almeida (Clear And Present Danger) as Arturo, Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) as Benjamin Carver, Greg Lawson (The Legend Of Butch And Sundance) as Timothy, Yaniv Bercovitz (Rude Boy-The Movie) as Jeremiah, and the film was directed by Lawrence Roeck (The Forger).
I wanted to go into the film thinking that it was going to be one heck of a western only because of who Scott Eastwood’s father was. The sad fact is that no one will ever be Clint Eastwood again in the world of Westerns. Now by me saying that doesn’t necessarily mean that I hated the movie, it’s quite the contrary. I call it the tale of two different films and what I mean by that is that the first half of the film is actually quite boring and a little confusing. They go through scenes without really explaining much and characters all of sudden disappear and such. The second half of the film is when it gets really good because your perception of Scott Eastwood’s character drastically changes and he becomes more bad ass than before. Walter Goggins plays a very vital role in this film especially when it has to do with Eastwood’s character and all will be revealed when you watch the film for yourself. Goggins does a terrific job in the film playing what you believe to be the antagonist of the film until the film goes all Fight Club on us. And I don’t mean soap bars, fights, and Brad Pitt when I say that, but you’ll see what I mean. Like I said, if you’re expecting cool lines and action like a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western then turn around now, but you’ll have to want to watch the whole film to get to the good parts. I thought it was an OK film which is why I am going to give the film an B-/C+ for a final grade. It’s borderline between the two grades.
There are always films out there that come out of nowhere and win an Oscar despite the film not being released in your area. That was definitely the case last year with Whiplash (J.K. Simmons wins best supporting actor) and the year before with Dallas Buyers Club. The same could be said for the film Room which star Brie Larson took home the Oscar for Best Actress In A Leading Role. Room stars Brie as Joy, a mother who has to create a world for her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) to hide the truth from him. You see for Jack everything is as normal as can be and he believes that there is nothing outside of the room that is real. That is until his mother starts to leak out that there is a world beyond the room and she reveals that she was kidnapped by an old Nick (Sean Bridgers) and placed in the room. Now, she will try everything she can to get them out of the room and free from old Nick. The film also stars Joan Allen (Death Race) as Grandma, William H. Macy (Fargo) as Grandpa, Tom McCamus (A Man In Uniform) as Leo, Cas Anvar (Source Code) as Dr. Mittal, and the film was directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank).
When I watched Dallas Buyers Club, I instantly knew why Matthew McConaughey beat out Leo at the Oscars. The same can be said for Brie Larson as far as the Room is concerned.She definitely embraced the role of Joy and she ran with it and never looked back. A lot of credit however should be thrown Jacob Tremblay’s way who convinced me that he was a boy with problems. He goes from only knowing what is inside the room and thinking everything outside of it doesn’t exist, but only in TV to having to adapt to the outside world. Brie definitely put on the performance of a lifetime that proved that she deserved the Oscar over everyone. Brie was amazing at showing off ranges of emotion throughout the film from seeing her desperate to get out of the room to the joy of being out and so on and so forth. The story should sound familiar as it bears some resemblances to the Jaycee Lee Dugard case as she was trapped in a room for 18 years and forced to mother two kids from her captor. There is nothing too extreme in the film that makes it hard to watch, but it will pull at your heartstrings as you see a boy struggling to understand the world around him. I am not going to spoil the ending for you, but all I can say is that it’s very poetic and symbolic in the way it ends. The film is available at Redbox and online and if you want to see great acting then check this out. I am going to give the movie an A for a final grade.
I am a huge fan of Disney Pixar animation as they seem to get it right almost every single time they come out with a film. With that being said, I had to check out their latest offering The Good Dinosaur (to which I am surprised it wasn’t nominated for an oscar). In a world where Dinosaurs live among the humans, a Apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is just trying to figure out what his place is among his family. Every single member of his family seems to know what there purpose is except for the skiddish and smaller Arlo. One day after the death of his father, Arlo goes after a human named Spot (Jack Bright) who Arlo feels is responsible. While he is going after him, the two end up getting lost and they have to stick together if they want to find their way back home and that means figuring out who he really is deep inside for Arlo. The film also stars Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire) as Poppa, Frances McDormand (Fargo) as Momma, Marcus Scribner (Black-ish) as Buck, Maleah Nipay-Padilla (Fruitvale Station) as Libby, Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) as Thunderclap, A.J. Buckley (Happy Feet) as Nash, Anna Paquin (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) as Ramsey, Sam Elliot (Tombstone) as Butch, and the film was directed by Peter Sohn (who also voices Pet Collector).
I want to start this paragraph by saying that there is always a character that helps drive these children’s animated films. They are the characters that children always laugh at because they are the comedic relief like Tow Mater in Cars, the Minions in Despicable Me, and so on and so forth. In this film, Spot is that character that helps drive the film forward and is the comedic relief. Without him, I don’t think the film would be as awesome as it was. It would be a great tear jerking story, but he makes it incredible. He is so essential to the story that Arlo couldn’t grow up and find who he was without him. There are so many great appearances in this film like a family of T-Rex’s voiced by Paquin and Elliot or Zahn who is brilliant as the pterodactyl Thunderclap. The film also features some incredible animation that I was blown away by how far we have come. When they do close ups of Arlo, you can see all the detail in his scales along with the bruises and anything else. Even the details in the river are amazing especially when it floods. Again, I don’t know why this film wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, but it certainly deserved a nod at least. It’s truly a film that is full of adventure and it even pulls on your heart strings like any great Disney film would. If you are a fan of animated films, then do yourself a favor and check out The Good Dinosaur. So with that being said, I am going to give this film an A- for a final grade.
Back in the late 1990’s, there was a scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department’s CRASH (a task force set up to fight street gangs) department. They believed that there was a lot of corruption in that department and the Rampart division of the LAPD. This film, Rampart, takes place during that time as it follows police officer Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson). Officer Brown is the kind of guy who follows his own brand of justice in life whether it be on the streets where he does things his way or at home with his dysfunctional family. After a beating incident, things begin to fall apart for Brown as he looks to keep his family together as well as his career as he fights to keep his job. The film also stars Bree Olson (21 Jump Street) as Helen, Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) as Barbara, Anne Heche (Donnie Brasco) as Catherine, Jon Bernthal (The Wolf Of Wall Street) as Dan Morone, Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) as General, Steve Buscemi (Fargo) as Bill Blago, Robin Wright (The Princess Bride) as Linda, Ned Beatty (The Toy) as Hartshorn, Ice Cube (Ride Along) as Kyle Timkins, Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters) as Joan Confrey, and the film was directed by Oren Moverman (Love & Mercy).
I realized as I started to watch the film that I did a double shot of Woody Harrelson for this challenge and I’m glad I did. This film is not only visually stunning, but it’s gritty and it’s dark. You literally see the a man descend from the beginning of the film all the way to the end. What I mean by that is that Woody starts off the film being this tough guy who does things his own way on the streets. He is cocky about it and believes in what he is doing until everything around him starts to fall apart. The more the film goes on, the darker the fall into madness for Woody’s character. There are a lot of scenes in the film which stunningly portray his character as this misanthrope, misogynistic, womanizing man who has no care in the world for how people feel. This film is great for character study and it kind of shows where LA was at in the late 1990’s. Every person from Bree Olson to Ben Foster do an amazing job acting wise that you can’t help, but love this film. Woody’s transformation is unbelievable as well as he just looks sick for most of the film and he gets worse as time goes on in the film. The only thing that I question is the man’s home life as he lives with his ex-wife and his current wife and he has a child with each one. Oh and I almost forgot, they are sisters too. If you’re into films like this one then you should definitely check it out. The film is available on Netflix and with that being said, I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
I have always been a big fan of the work of the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan) and their films like No Country For Old Men, Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and True Grit. The on;y problem is that there are two films from the brothers I still have not seen and I checked one off the lost with today’s film in Fargo. The film stars William H. Macy (Boogie Nights) as car salesman Jerry Lundegaard who through a shady source at work gets himself into a lot of trouble. Things just aren’t going the way Jerry wants it so he gets this bright idea to have someone kidnap his wife so they can split the ransom money. Little does he know that his master crime is about to fall apart as pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) gets on the case. The film stars Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) as Carl Showalter, Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street) as Gaear Grimsrud, Larry Brandenburg (The Shawshank Redemption) as Stan Grossman, Steve Reevis (Dances With Wolves) as Shep, John Carroll Lynch (Ted 2) as Norm Gunderson, Steve Park (Falling Down) as Mike Yanagita, Tony Denman (Go) as Scotty Lundegaard, Harve Presnell (Saving Private Ryan) as Wade Gustafson, and Kristin Rudrüd (Pleasantville) as Judy Lundegaard.
One thing that I definitely have to say about this film is that the writing for the film is absolutely amazing. I truly loved how the story just unfolded right before your eyes as you watch the mess get worse and worse by the minute. You also see the dynamics in some of the relationships in the film like Buscemi and Stormare who the have the worst time communicating with each other or even Macy’s character with Presnell who treats Macy like he doesn’t exist or is just a plain idiot. This is a great example for a character study because the filmmakers focus on that a lot and it helps the film move. The film is gritty, dark, violent, and beautiful all at the same time especially with some of the cinematography which captured the moments perfectly around the cold that surrounds the characters. One of the other things I liked about the film were the accents because they were different. I really enjoyed listening to something different other than a Boston, New York, or southern accent. The acting from everyone was pretty top notch, I didn’t really have any complaints about that at all. If you are studying to be a filmmaker or even a screenwriter this is definitely a film that you want to check out and take notes. Personally one of my favorite films that I have reviewed for this challenge. So, with that being said I am going to go ahead and give this film an A for a final grade.