One of my all time favorite actors from the 80’s is John Cusack who starred in such great films as Say Anything…, Tapeheads, One Crazy Summer, and even High Fidelity. So, I was cruising through Netflix trying to decide on a film when I came across Grosse Pointe Blank and decided on it for today. Martin Blank (Cusack) is a professional hitman who has sort of lost his way and just needs to be found or at least realize what he wants out of life. Against his intuition, he goes back home to Detroit where he’ll attend his ten year high school reunion. While there, he runs into his old high school sweetheart Debbie Newberry (Minnie Driver) that he ran out on ten years before and he decides to try and fix that relationship while letting go of his lifestyle. The film also stars Joan Cusack (Working Girl) as Marcela, Alan Arkin (Argo) as Dr. Oatman, Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters) as Grocer, Jeremy Piven (Smokin’ Aces) as Paul Spericki, Hank Azaria (Mystery Men) as Steven Lardner, K. Todd Freeman (The Cider House Rules) as Kenneth McCullers, Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead) as Bob Destepello, Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon) as Mr. Bart Newberry, and the film was directed by George Armitage (Miami Blues).
There are things you should know about getting into a John Cusack film that is starring him and one is that Joan Cusack is probably in the film. The second one that you can expect is that the soundtrack to the film is probably incredible so you should pay attention to that. The film featured cuts from amazing bands like Echo & The Bunnymen and The Cure for example. The other thing you should expect from a Cusack film is that Cusack is going to be stealing the show by commanding the screen with his underdog like qualities. No matter the role, you are rooting for him to succeed and that is what I love about his films. This one adds the element that he is a professional assassin which means we get some bad ass action sequences in the film as well. The film itself is absolutely awesome and definitely a film I wish I had seen a heck of a lot sooner than I did. I really loved the fact that Alan Arkin was in the film as the scared psychiatrist who has to continuously deal with Cusack’s character throughout the film. It adds to the overall comedy of the film and Dan Aykroyd definitely does that as the rival hitman. So you can definitely see all the crazy directions this film goes, but it’s enjoyable because the story is awesome. Everybody normal hates the idea of going back to a high school reunion, but hey that’s how it goes. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade because the acting was great and the soundtrack is amazing.
I had been putting off today’s film for quite some time because I don’t believe in the idea of releasing a sequel or reboot of a franchise that was popular thirty years before. Nevertheless, for today I decided to check out 2015’s Vacation which follows in the footsteps of National Lampoon’s Vacation. This time around, Rusty (Ed Helms) is an adult with his own family which includes his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and his kids James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). Things are pretty bland for him as he works for a crap airline and things at home just look like they need some sprucing up. So, he decides to take his family across country to Wally World like his father did thirty years before. The film also stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as Stone Crandall, Leslie Mann (Knocked Up) as Audrey Crandall, Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) as Chad, Catherine Missal (Natural Selection) as Adena, Ron Livingston (Office Space) as Ethan, Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu) as Jack Peterson, Regina Hall (Scary Movie) as Nancy Peterson, Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) as Trucker, Chevy Chase (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) as Clark Griswold, Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s European Vacation) as Ellen Griswold, and the film was directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein who both made their feature length directing debut with this film.
I am going to start off saying that I wasn’t completely let down by the film because it was a good film, but a little too late for it. The film just didn’t have anything that made me laugh my butt off like the original films did. It was like they tried a little too hard to be as goofy and oblivious as the original film, but just couldn’t hit the mark. I really like Ed Helms as an actor, but I thought it was Stu from The Hangover out there the whole time while he is supposed to be Rusty Griswold who I don’t remember being that clueless. The best part of the film in my opinion was the relationship between the two brothers because those gave some great moments in the film and I can’t speak highly enough of Chris Hemsworth. I think once he is done being Thor, he seriously needs to continue his career in comedy. They tried to be like the original without really being the original even teasing you with some scenes that were similar to the original. For example, there is the scene where beautiful supermodel and actress Hannah Davis is driving in a Ferrari which is similar to the scene in the original with Christie Brinkley driving in the Ferrari with different end results to make it new. That was a cool nod, but let’s move on. I loved the scene though with the four cops (Nick Kroll, Tim Heidecker, Kaitlin Olson, and Michael Peña) who were from four different states that couldn’t stop arguing with each other. That was fresh and different, but here is why this film fails in comparison to the original. John Hughes was the master at writing and he wrote the original film and Harold Ramis knew comedy and he directed it. It’s hard to live up to those names, but at least they tried. I am going to give Vacation a grade somewhere between a C+/B- and only because Holiday Road was in the film.
Before I woke up this morning, I had never heard of the film I watched and reviewed for today, but there was one factor that made me want to watch. I am a huge fan of Michael Pitt and I have been wondering what he has been up to since he had left the show Boardwalk Empire, but I got my answer in I Origin. Pitt plays molecular biologist Dr. Ian Gray whose main line of interest is the human eye. One thing is for sure when it comes to Ian and that is he does not believe in God and is always out to prove that there is more proof in science than in religion. All of that is about to be put to the test when he makes a startling discovery that may prove that there may be something greater than science. The film also stars Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) as Kenny, Astrid Berges-Frisbey (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) as Sofi, Brit Marling (Sound Of My Voice) as Karen, Archie Panjabi (Bend It Like Beckham) as Priya Varma, Venida Evans (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Margaret Dairy, William Mapother (Mission: Impossible II) as Darryl Mackenzie, and the film was written and directed by Mike Cahill (Another Earth).
The film is interesting to say the least and it hits many different genres in one from it starting off as a romance movie that dabs in science to a tragedy movie back to a romance film and back to a science film. The thing that he discovers toward the last half of the film really makes you question whether science is correct or if the religious people had it right all along. What if you could tell if someone was resurrected through the patterns in the eye? Think about that for a second, what if the things you like, don’t like, and the reason you act the way you do is because you were someone else in a past life. Through an eye scan, he discovers that there is someone out there in the world that is a match to his dead wife and I mean an exact match. Wouldn’t you be curious enough to want to see if they reacted to certain things that your past love, brother, or even friend would have. That is the thing I loved about the film was this sense of what if and it didn’t hurt that Astrid Berges-Frisbey was really hot. It’s an honest film that will make you think a little bit, but it can be predictable at times. That was the only bad thing about the film was that you could see certain things happening when they did. Other than that I loved the acting from Pitt and Marling, etc. It was also cool to see them in Delhi, India cause the cinematography was cool. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade. It’s airing on HBO and I’m pretty sure it’s available on HBOGO.
I thought for a very long time that I was the only person n the whole wide world that was waiting for some sort of sequel to the 1994 Richard Linklater (Boyhood) classic Dazed And Confused. Go 22 years into the future and now we have our spiritual sequel (Linklater has stated) to the classic film in Everybody Wants Some!! which takes place in the 1980’s (or at least the beginning of the decade). The film follows incoming freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) and his ragtag baseball teammates as they navigate through the life of college and everything that comes with it like partying, sex, and anything else you can think of as it’s all unsupervised by adults. Will they survive that three day weekend before classes start or will we have some casualties along the way. The film also stars Juston Street (My All American) as Jay, Ryan Guzman (The Boy Next Door) as Roper, Tyler Hoechlin (Road To Perdition) as McReynolds, Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street) as Willoughby, Glen Powell (The Dark Knight Rises) as Finnegan, Temple Baker (Love Is Relative) as Plummer, J. Quinton Johnson as Dale, Will Brittain (A Teacher) as Beuter, Austin Amelio (The Walking Dead) as Nesbit, and Zoey Deutch (Dirty Grandpa) as Beverly.
For a while as I was watching the film, I had a hard time figuring out what the plot of the film was. Was this a film that was just about partying? Dazed And Confused had a plot to it that was easy to get while this one just seems like a movie about endless partying and gamesmanship. Then after a while, it became clear as soon as I read IMDB’s explanation. One thing is for certain with this film is that just like the first film, it has a killer soundtrack that features the likes of Foreigner, Devo, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Pat Benatar, and so many more. The soundtrack was always a huge part of the film and they do a terrific job picking the songs once again as it mixes some disco with rock and a little country too. Another thing Linklater has a knack for when it comes these films is discovering young talent to go with the already established guys. There are a lot of guys who make their feature film debuts in this film and they do a great job. One of the true highlights for me was Juston Street who plays an absolute awesome comedic relief as a pitcher who takes himself way too seriously. Every time he appeared on screen, I was laughing my butt off and couldn’t get enough of him. I like how the film ended however cause it was kind of a nice way to end the adventure that was the film. One thing I will say is what they hell were they thinking in the 80’s when it came to their outfits and those short shorts guys wore? Anyways, I am going to give the film an A- only because it doesn’t top Dazed And Confused, but it was very enjoyable to watch.
There are films out there that just grab you the minute you see a movie poster or a trailer. There are films out there that just strike a certain chord in your brain the right way that makes you interested like The Town and other films that have to do with bank heists. Today’s film, Triple 9 was definitely one of those that mad me want to see it. Triple 9 is about a gang that has former cops and dirty cops on its team that perform heists. After a heist is successful, these gang which is made up of the ringleader Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), ex-cop Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), dirty cops Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) are put to the test one more time. They have to plan the murder of a cop in order to pull off the biggest heist they have ever performed. The film also stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) as Chris Allen, Woody Harrelson (Rampart) as Jeffrey Allen, Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) as Russel Welch, Gal Gadot (Superman Vs Batman: Dawn Of Justice) as Elena Vlaslov, Kate Winslet (Labor Day) as Irina Vlaslov, Teresa Palmer (Take Me Home Tonight) as Michelle Allen, Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire) as Sweat Pea, and the film was directed by John Hillcoat (Lawless).
Now I know you are wondering if the film lived up to the trailer or the movie poster? My simple answer to that question is an obvious yes, but how did it live up to it? First off, hats off to all the actors in the film because they did an amazing job as far as that department is concerned. It’s hard for me to choose one person as the MVP especially out of the four guys on the team plus Affleck and Harrelson. Although, I had a hard time buying Kate Winslet as a Russian Jewish Mobster especially with the accent, I am willing to look past it because the film was gritty and it was exactly what I wanted. They inserted the twists in the film just at the right spots so that you didn’t get bored with the film and they were plenty of scenes where you don’t see the particular action coming. If I had to compare this film with any other film out there, I would choose The Town just not as amazing as that one, but it’s up there. It’s basically The Town without bank robbers and with cops instead. The heists sequences are actually where the fun lays in this film because it’s an adrenaline rush as you sit wondering whether they can pull it off or not. One piece of criticism that I do have for the film is that it could have explained their relationships a little more and there are some scenes that could have been cut out. The only spoiler I can give you is that Norman Reedus (his character is bad ass) fans will leave disappointed. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade. Check it out in theaters all across America now.