It’s Tuesday which can only mean one thing and that is that it is time for Based on a Truesday Story. Based on a Truesday Story is a segment I did on my other blog where we watch films that are based on a true story and for today we are doing American Gangster. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is an African American drug lord from Harlem, New York who decides that the best way to take over the competition is to fly directly to the source in Vietnam. He quickly becomes the drug kingpin of New York, but that attracts the wrong kind of attention. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an honest cop who gets put on the case to track down Frank Lucas and shut him down completely and anyone else corrupt as well. The film also stars Chiwetelu Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as Huey Lucas, Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Trupo, Lymari Nadal (The Blackout) as Eva, Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs) as Lou Toback, Roger Guenveur Smith (He Got Game) as Nate, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Freddie, RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists) as Moses Jones, Carla Gugino (Watchmen) as Laurie, Idris Elba (Thor) as Tango, Common (Selma) as Turner Lucas, TI (Ant-Man) as Stevie Lucas, Armand Assante (Judge Dredd) as Dominic Cattano, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Alien).
What happens when you put Denzel Washington in a leading role of a film? Well, I hope that you are preparing yourself for one hell of a performance because that is exactly what you are getting with this film. The thing I loved about this film is that you sort of get two stories in one where you have one guy who wants to make his teacher and his family proud by being at the top of his game while you have another who feels that honesty is the best policy and it will lead him over the dirty cops. I have to be honest in saying that if I found a million dollars as a cop, I may skim a few off the top of it. It’s kind of the story of the two roads with the one less traveled and you can guess who took which road in this film. There are so many actors that appeared in this film that I couldn’t fit above that deserved honorable mention like Cuba Gooding Jr., Ruby Dee, Jon Polito, John Ortiz, and many more who do a terrific job in the film. Now we all know that Hollywood takes some civil liberties with their films, but this one seems to have a lot according to an article on historyvshollywood.com. One story is that Frank says in the film that he drove for Bumpy for 15 years. Reports indictate that Bumpy was released from prison in 1963 and he died in 1968 leaving only a five year window. Check out more of the facts vs fiction in that article that I provided. The film is excellent with a very good story, amazing cinematography, and it’s the kind of gangster movies we love here in the states. So, what more could you possibly ask for? I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
There are some stories in life that you hear about and you just can’t imagine that these stories could be true. That is how powerful these kinds of stories can be and they can be real game changers. That was certainly the case with today’s film Spotlight which highlights the child molestation scandal in the City of Boston. Spotlight was an investigative team that worked at the Boston Globe that took on stories that they felt the public needed to know about. In the year 2000 or 2001, a new man in charge at the Globe by the name of Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) came in and suggested a story to his Spotlight team that involved the catholic church covering up the child molestation cases in Boston. The film follows the team as they expose the truth as they became the voice of the voiceless. The film stars Michael Keaton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) as Walter Robinson, Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) as Mike Rezendes, Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls) as Sacha Pfeiffer, John Slattery (Iron Man 2) as Ben Bradlee, Jr., Stanley Tucci (The Terminal) as Mitchell Garabedian, Billy Crudup (Watchmen) as Eric Macleish, Neal Huff (Big Daddy) as Phil Saviano, Jamey Sheridan (The Ice Station) as Jim Sullivan, and the film was directed by Tom McCarthy (The Cobbler).
If you’re expecting a film with a lot of action, then this isn’t the film for you because there’s a lot of investigative research involved in the film. The other side to it is that you see the struggle these guys went through to try and unlock the story. You see all of the red tape and you see all the people involved that just bury the story. You end up learning what they could do and what they had to do to try and get viable sources. The film is just absolutely shocking and you can see why the Catholic church took such a hit after this case was exposed by the Globe. One of the biggest elements of these types of films is the acting and the story. Those are the key essentials for these types of films to survive and be great. I am here to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the acting especially from Mark Ruffalo who after a while just stole the show. Rachel McAdams also did a phenomenal job in the film which leads to my next statement. I am not surprised that Rachel and Mark were nominated for Oscars because they were amazing. The story as you can tell from what I wrote was also amazing and it had to be. It’s a story driven film as I said before. If you love films that are based on true stories then you should check this one out. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.
For today’s challenge film, I wanted to watch a certain film from Emily Browning that I have been waiting to see for five years now. The name of the film is Sucker Punch which was directed by Zack Snyder (300, Man Of Steel) and it stars Emily Browning as the distraught and recently institutionalized Babydoll. Due to the fact that she bi-accidentally killed her little sister, her step father has her locked away in a mental institution where she is to get a lobotomy in five days. In order to cope with the fact that she is institutionalized, she creates a fantasy world that she can completely roam free in and do as she pleases, but she wants to escape. So, she enlists the help of four other girls at the institution in Sweat Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung) as they try to collect some key items to help them escape. The film also stars Oscar Issac (X-Men: Apocalypse) as Blue, Carla Gugino (Watchmen) as Dr. Gorski, Jon Hamm (The Town) as High Roller/Doctor, Scott Glenn (Urban Cowboy) as wise man, Richard Cetrone (Iron Man) as CJ, Malcolm Scott (Man Of Steel) as the Cook, and A.C. Peterson (Narc) as The Mayor.
Even if you didn’t know that this was a Zack Snyder film, you would instantly recognize that it was his just by the style and look of the film. It has the look and feel of 300 as far as bad ass looking landscapes, imagery, and characters. One of my favorite segments of the film when Babydoll goes into dancing mode is her battle with the Samurai in the beginning of the film. While I don’t agree with some of their weapon choices, you can’t deny how amazing it looked on screen. It also helps that you ave five incredibly sexy women as your heroins in the film and that Snyder makes them just as bad ass as any character in any film he has ever made. I truly loved the story and how they bounced right from reality to fantasy to even more of a fantasy world and then back to the start. It was clever and very well done by the writers and everyone involved. One of the other things about this film that I enjoyed was the soundtrack to the film. The film features an incredible cover of Sweet Dreams by actress Emily Browning as well as some other cool tracks. When it came to the imagery and the fantasy scenes, Snyder talked about them saying, “On the other hand, though it’s fetishistic and personal, I like to think that my fetishes aren’t that obscure. Who doesn’t want to see girls running down the trenches of World War One wreaking havoc? I’d always had an interest in those worlds – comic books, fantasy art, animated films. I’d like to see this, that’s how I approach everything, and then keep pushing it from there.” I completely agree with him and thought it was awesome as well. A film any Snyder fan should check out if they haven’t yet. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
While all of us who are fans of comic book movies wait for Ryan Reynolds (Waiting) to star in Deadpool (which comes out in February), I figured I would review the last film he made to date. The name of the film is Self/less and it was directed by Tarsem Singh (Mirror Mirror) and the film looks at a topic that all of us may have wondered about. What if we possessed the ability to take the brilliant men of the world who are old and about to die and transported them into new bodies? It brings up the idea of immortality and man’s ability to play God. That was the question that was raised to New York real estate tycoon Damien (Ben Kingsley) as he was slowly dying of Cancer. He was lead to believe that the bodies that were available were created in a lab and so he makes the jump. Unfortunately as he gets used to his new body (Ryan Reynolds), he begins to discover that maybe these bodies belonged to people who had souls of their own. As soon as he discovers this, he is on the run and he has to protect the family of the man who once occupied the body. The film also stars Natalie Martinez (Death Proof) as Madeline, Matthew Goode (Watchmen) as Albright, Victor Garber (Argo) as Martin, Derek Luke (Captain America: The First Avenger) as Anton, Melora Hardin (Hot Chick) as Judy, and Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop) as Claire.
Ryan Reynolds takes a lot of crap for some of the roles he chooses where people feel he can only play a certain part, but I beg to differ. We know that the film didn’t do as well in the box office as the studio had hoped, but I feel like people should given the film a chance. It was definitely a cool and new concept for a Sci-Fi thriller like this. It gives you an insight into what the possibilities could be and what the side effects can be by taking over a new body. Ben Kinglsey is an amazing actor to begin with and he plays a bitter old man who has always appreciated the money first over the real joys of life. Ryan Reynolds is kind of the coming of age part of the film where he begins to realize that he loved all the wrong things in life and decides to make up for it. I really enjoyed the acting from Matthew Goode, he does an amazing job play a manipulative man hell bent on perfecting his research and will do anything to achieve it. There’s plenty of action, suspense, and mystery to please any fan and I love the special effects in the film. Now I pose this question to all of you. Would you sell your body to save someone you loved even if it meant never seeing them again? Would you take over a body knowing that a real soul once possessed it and is still kind of there? Check out the film and answer that for yourself. I am giving the movie an B+ for a final grade.