Day 323: Hesher (2010)

hqdefaultI have always been a huge fan of Natalie Portman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt so when you combine the two and have them in a movie, I am probably going to watch. That was definitely when it came to today’s film which is called Hesher (the movie poster was also bad ass). TJ (Rubber‘s Devin Brochu) for the last two months has been having a rough time since the death of his mother whether it’s dealing with his dad (The Office‘s Rainn Wilson) who is also depressed or the school bully who beats up on the poor kid all the time. One day unexpectedly, a mysterious anarchist named Hesher (Levitt) moves into his garage and introduces a little bit of chaos into his life and turns things upside down for his family. The film also stars Natalie Portman (Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge Of The Sith) as Nicole,  Piper Laurie (The Hustler) as Grandma, Brendan Hill (Dude, Where’s My Car?) as Dustin, John Carroll Lynch (American Horror Story) as Larry, Mary Elizabeth Barrett (There Will Be Blood) as Meryl, Frank Collison (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as the funeral director, Monica Staggs (Tears Of The Sun) as Mom, and the film was written and directed by Spencer Susser (I Love Sarah Jane).

tumblr_mqva07mu5g1saiue1o1_500Joseph Gordon-Levitt is just absolutely brilliant in the film as he is the agent of chaos for the family. Sometimes in order to get people to see clearly when their minds are clouded is to introduce a little chaos and that is what Hesher does for them. The film is a dark comedy which means it’s not a film that contains stupid funny like the previous film I watched for this blog. Every character sort of has a balance with each other and there is a cause and effect for all of them when Hesher shows up. Natalie Portman’s character is a mess and she becomes even more of a mess when she meets Hesher, but she seems to turn out OK just like TJ’s family. When I was first watching the film, I felt like Hesher wasn’t real because it seemed that only certain people could see him and he never got blamed for anything stupid he did. It almost like he was an agent of God sent down to try and help them fix their messed up lives, but other people can see him. The other appealing thing about this film is the soundtrack because Hesher himself is a heavy metal maniac. If you love early Metallica and some Motorhead thrown in there, then you will love the soundtrack like me. Jospeh is an amazing actor and combine him with other amazing talents and you have a hidden gem here. That is why I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 137: Zodiac (2007)

zodiacI was searching for a film to watch and I was going through a whole entire list before the film I chose caught my eye. I have always been a sucker for films that are based on true stories because real life can be scarier than fiction. The film I chose for today is called Zodiac and it stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) as San Francisco Newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith. In the late 1960’s into the 70′, a killer appeared in Northern California calling himself the Zodiac killer. He would murder his victims and he would send letters to local newspapers. Robert Graysmith became so intrigued with the case that he followed it. Unfortunately, a suspect was never found and no one was ever arrested. When everyone else stopped looking, Graysmith took the reigns and decided to investigate himself coming close to identifying the actual killer. The film stars Mark Ruffalo (Avengers: Age Of Ultron) as Inspector David Toschi, Anthony Edwards (Top Gun) as Inspector William Armstrong, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) as Paul Avery, Brian Cox (Troy) as Melvin Belli, John Caroll Lynch (Ted 2) as Arthur Leigh Allen, Chloë Sevigny (American Psycho) as Melanie, Elias Koteas (Shutter Island) as Sgt. Jack Mulanax, Donal Logue (Blade) as Captain Ken Narlow, Ione Skye (Say Anything…) as Kathleen Johns, and the film was directed by David Fincher (Fight Club). 

zodiac 2This is a long film, but it’s a film that is very intriguing especially when it’s a true crime story that has never been solved to this very day. I watched the film because it starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo because all three men are some of personal favs. At first, I kept wondering how they would close a movie that has no ending in real life. The killer has never been caught so how do you write an ending to that especially when there is none? Do I like the way they ended the film? Essentially, I kind of do and I kind of don’t, but it’s something that I am willing to accept (of course, you’ll have to watch it for yourself). Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in the film as this kind of neurotic obsessed guy that kind of reminds me of his role a little in Nightcrawler. The case they are all investigating and researching is kind of destroying there lives because they are way to attached to the idea of breaking it open and catching the guy. You see the characters literally falling apart right in front of your fac while the killer stays free. There are several theories and several accusations that have been made as to who the killer was, but the characters in this film believe in the guy they are after. I have to admit that I was a little creeped out watching this film in the wee hours of the night so it definitely gets bonus points for that reason. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade based on performances and just the pure creepiness of the film.

Day 93: Volcano (1997)

volcano-main-poster1In the mid to late 1990’s, the thing to do in Hollywood was to bring back the lost art of Disaster Movies that people loved from the 70’s (Airport, The Towering Inferno, Poseidon Adventure, etc.). In 1997, 20TH Century Fox released the film Volcano which starred Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men) as Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (LAC OEM) boss Mike Roark. Everything seems normal in Los Angeles except for the fact that people are outraged at a new subway line going in. That is until a couple of workers end up dying from severe burns. While Mike starts to investigate what happened, a volcano begins to erupt underneath Los Angeles and now Mike has to figure out how to save the city before it’s too late. The film also stars Anne Heche (Donnie Brasco) as Dr. Amy Barnes, Gaby Hoffmann (Uncle Buck) as Kelly Roark, Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2) as Emmit Reese, Jacqueline Kim (Brokedown Palace) as Dr. Jaye Calder, Keith David (Men At Work) as Police LT. Ed Fox, John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Norman Calder, Michael Rispoli (Pain & Gain) as Gator Harris, John Carroll Lynch (Ted 2) as Stan Olber, and the film was directed by Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard).

VolcanoFirst of all, I want to start off by saying that Tommy Lee Jones is an amazing actor who commands the screen no matter what role he is playing. Second of all, this is a disaster film after all which means that the special effects are going to be off the chains for these kinds of films and it was. The explosions were cool and the lava running through the city was cool. How far fetched or possible is a volcano under Los Angeles, I am not 100% sure as to how accurate that would be. With the fault lines and all the subway systems they have, it would be a scary notion if it could happen. To spice things up for the film, they trow in some racial tension because we know that was running rampant in LA at the time. You have a guy looking out for his section of town, gets the handcuffs put on him until the cop decides not to be racist anymore. Then you have a little kid who is being carried by a black police officer who looks out and says, “look at their faces, they all look the same.” A nice gesture saying that we are all human and that we should all help each other, but a sentimental part I seriously could have done without. The movie is about Volcano’s, not Rodney King or Rampart. Nevertheless, you know exactly what you are getting with these films and it’s enjoyable enough to watch. That is why I am going to give the film an B for a final grade.

Day 16: Fargo (1996)

fargo-movie-1I 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.

fargoOne 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.

Day 14: Ted 2 (2015)

2015_ted_2_movie-3840x2160When the film Ted first hit the scene in 2012, I thought it was one of the best new ideas in comedy I had seen in a while. Now we all know that coming out with a sequel can be a daunting task especially when you’re trying to capture the magic of the first film. Well, that is exactly what Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) was trying to do with Ted 2 which sees him return as our favorite vulgar teddy bear. This time around, Ted is sort of happily married with Tami Lynn (Jessica Barth), but John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is not so happy since he’s divorced. Things are about to change for Ted as well when he and Tami Lynn decide to have a baby. After the couple decide to adopt, Ted is denied and is told that the government no longer recognizes him as a person, but property. With the help of a fresh lawyer named Sam Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), Ted will challenge the government in court to gain his civil rights back. The film also stars Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar) as Donnie, Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon) as himself, Patrick Warburton (The Venture Brothers) as Guy, Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) as Patrick Meighan, John Carroll Lynch (Gran Torino) as Tom Jessup, and Liam Neeson (Taken) as a Trix Cereal Customer.

mark-wahlberg-amanda-seyfried-ted-2-600x338While the film had it’s very funny moments, I just felt like it didn’t capture the magic of the original film. I am not saying that the movie was bad because it was actually pretty entertaining, it just wasn’t better than the first film. Mark Wahlberg’s character was a little more of the star of this film in my opinion than Ted. He was more sympathetic and at times he was a little more interesting than Ted. One of my favorite moments of the film came when they were on the roof throwing apples at joggers at night. That was a very funny exchange and give Amanda Seyfried some credit as well because she held her own with them. Giovanni Ribisi once again did an amazing job playing a creepazoid in the film as Donnie. Ribisi does an amazing job recapturing the creepiness and taking it to a new level in the second film. It was great to Sam J. Jones back in the film and Patrick Warbutton is hilarious as well as Guy (who has a new boyfriend in the film). The exchange between Ted and Liam Neeson over Trix cereal is worth watching the film for sure. While I enjoyed the writing for the film, it was a little predictable at times, but that’s OK cause it flowed well. I enjoyed watching the film and I think it’s worth watching at least once. I am going to give the film a B+ for a final grade.