Saturday, November 30, 2013

RIP Paul Walker

RIP Paul Walker
When I used to make mental lists in my head of my favorite actors, I never really thought about Paul Walker. Not that he wasn't good, but he never used to jump out at me. With an early career of supporting roles that included "Pleasantville" and "She's All That," I was prepared to write Walker off as just another Hollywood star. Soon after, in the early 2000's, Walker landed a lead role in "The Fast and The Furious." I found "The Fast and The Furious" to be good. It wasn't a movie that blew me away in particular, but it was fun and Walker was pretty good in it. I thought, if he harness his energy like he did here, he'd lead himself into a wonderful career. Who would have known that "The Fast and The Furious" would have spawned into one of the new millennium's biggest film franchises?

After "The Fast and The Furious" in 2001, Walker began to turn up in good films. "Joy Ride" is one of those little-known yet totally mind-bending horror films that I wish people would see. "Flags of Our Fathers" was a grand WWII epic from Clint Eastwood. But according to me, the very best Paul Walker movie is "Running Scared," a bizarre, twisted road down the life of crime. For the first time ever, it seemed Walker was energized by what he was given to do in "Running Scared." He had an uplifting high that never felt out of place. He had the perfect balance of pretty-boy smug and sophisticated acting chops. Plus, he didn't seem distracting in a film that is...let's face it...very strange and very dark. Given the material Walker had to play, he handled himself quite well.

Even though I personally didn't think he made the best decisions career-wise, Paul Walker was a unique talent. He was a young macho-man whose presence never seemed gimmicky. He had a talent for making a movie his own, even with a sloppy script and poor directing. Obviously, as the "Fast and Furious" franchise got better and better, I only liked Walker more and more. The franchise, and Hollywood in general is a lesser place without him.

In honor of this great guy, put in your favorite "Fast and Furious" film tonight!

The Essentials- Ghostbusters (1984)

The Essentials- #33

Throughout my entire life, there has been one film that has always been in the top two of my ongoing list of favorite movies. A movie that has been very personal to me my entire life. A movie that has shaped every aspect of my being. Its an experience that I have to have at least once a year, otherwise I would go crazy. But "Ghostbusters" is more than sentimental value to me, its the perfect blend of outrageous comedy, big action and special effects. There have been a fair share of high-concept comedies with lots of CGI, but those films are seldom special. "Ghostbusters" set a golden standard for the high-concept comedy that I feel hasn't been scratched since. It has made that powerful of an impact on our culture. Because of all it has achieved, "Ghostbusters" is indeed essential to cinematic vocabulary.

I was about four or five when I first sat down to watch "Ghostbusters." I think it was either my brother or my cousin who told me it was a comedy about ghosts. My young mind thought that would be the coolest idea ever and I suppose I was in the mood for a good laugh. As the movie begins though, it doesn't give air of laughter. As the Columbia Pictures logo appears, that eerie opening music starts playing and we zoom in on a Manhattan library. We see a librarian going downstairs, eerie music in tow, and we see many strange happenings. I started to get the chills, thinking this was an elaborate prank from my brother and perhaps we were watching a horror movie. When the library cards began shooting out of their drawers, I had close to the same reaction as the librarian, I wanted to scream. Then as the bright light shines on her face and she really begins to scream, I almost wanted to look away. But then the title appears and the memorable theme song begins to play and I immediately knew that I wouldn't know what to expect as the film went on.

What surprised me the most about "Ghostbusters" was how it didn't shy away from the fundamentals of the ghost story. "Ghostbusters" is strange, bizarre, and creepy sometimes. For a certain age group, its pretty freaking scary at times. But when I was five, I was having so much fun that the creepy stuff didn't bother me. I am pretty sure "Ghostbusters" was one of the first cinematic experiences I had were I experienced multiple emotions at once. That has probably helped the film stay with me for so long, too.

The film revolves around doctors of parapsychology. Their names are Pete Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis). After getting thrown out of their university for their unorthodox research, they plan to go into business stopping paranormal activity in New York City. Business is pretty slow at first, as they have one client within a long stretch of time. That client is Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), whose apartment was haunted by a demonic spirit. Soon afterward, the Ghostbusters start getting calls like nobody's business. Which is good, because they'll need the experience as the end of the world draws closer in the film.

Pete Venkman is the one who visits Barrett's apartment when she calls the Ghostbusters, and its pretty clear that there is some flirting going on. What I noticed, even as a small boy, is how well the romance pays off. If Venkman was written as a lubby-dubby character, I'm not sure the film would have been so strong. But the flirting between Venkman and Barrett is fun and sarcastic, a nice change from the usual sappy dialogue in most adventure movies. To me, their romance always felt so real compared to other films of this time, which is why it has always stuck out to me. And when the couple kiss for the last time on camera, I was cheering with all the happy New Yorkers who witnessed it.

All of the performances are great in this movie. Murray rules the movie and easily steals the show, but Aykroyd and Ramis are just as good. The three have incredible chemistry, we feel that they have been colleagues for countless years, we feel that they have strong friendships, and we feel that they are friends. Weaver does very good work as Barrett, I particularly liked that she wasn't just a damsel in distress. Ernie Hudson plays Winston Zeddemore, a man who eventually joins the Ghostbusters. There are a couple of moments near the end of the film where Hudson's comedic timing is perfect. Just perfect. Likewise with Rick Moranis as Louis Tully, Barrett's annoying yet trusty neighbor. I absolutely loved Moranis' transitions throughout the entire movie and I felt he was truly the heart and soul of the whole film.

Usually, I find it to be an empty promise when a critic says that a movie "has it all." But what I tried to say in this piece tonight is that "Ghostbusters" really does have it all. There are moments of sheer terror. The devil dogs? Scary. Gozor? Scary. (Especially since her hair style reminded me of my first babysitter's hair style, and my first babysitter was mean.) There are moments of laugh-out-loud comedy, and high adventure. There is romance that feels real not soapy or forced. There is also a maniacal craziness that makes the film much more fun. Only a movie like "Ghostbusters" could feature a giant marshmallow monster and somehow make him not tacky. "Ghostbusters" is a movie that truly has it all, and its been a great example that high-concepts do work with comedy. The film is also an instant classic, this is why the film matters. This is why the film is one of my favorites of all time.

Overlooked Film of the Week- "The Raid:Redemption" (2012)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #33

The Raid: Redemption
Usually, when filmmakers take on the action genre, its a thankless job. Its been awhile when since an action film made any sort of impact on the Oscars (or awards season in general), critics end-of-the-year lists and the like. Yes, I will not argue that, most of the time, the action genre is quite simple and quite silly. But I always marvel at people like Jackie Chan, Tom Cruise and even Sly Stallone for doing their own stunts. Every once in awhile, an action movie does more than produce a mindless visceral thrill. I've said this countless times, and I'll say it again, when you set out to make a movie, you have a chance to say something with it. No matter the genre, no matter the norms, you can always put your personal stamp on it.

"The Raid: Redemption" is an Indonesian film with a fairly simple set-up. A SWAT team breaks into an apartment block looking for a big-time crime lord. The crime lord finds out their coming and gets his tenants to protect him. The rest of the film is a big fight. That's the movie, it doesn't reinvent or reinvigorate the franchise. What does work about "The Raid: Redemption" is how well it handles everything else, acting, cinematography, music, choreography and above all else, the action. This is some of the very best action I have seen in awhile. For a genre that is not big on characterization, I was both surprised and impressed by how much I cared about the characters.

The action is seriously top-notch. It involves great kung-fu scenes that will have you yelling and cheering throughout. But not everything is meant to thrill, there are some incredibly brutal sequences that will also stun you silent. Its an interesting dynamic, and I give director Gareth Evans full credit for creating a film that had a healthy balance of fun and violence without overdoing one or the other. Kung fu and karate fans will have a gleeful time just watching the action scenes unfold. If karate isn't your thing, there are plenty of good scenes with guns, knives and broken light bulbs which you might enjoy.

In films like "The Raid: Redemption," they are only as effective as their villains. This movie produces a great one. Yayan Ruhian's Mad Dog is a crazy creation. Mad Dog is the main henchmen of the crime lord living in the tenant, he prefers hand-to-hand combat and he is relentlessly ruthless. Ruhian brings this character to great life, and he has the two biggest highlights of the entire movie. I can't tell you a single thing about Yayan Ruhian's career, but he's an actor to look out for, he brings an intense presence, and an extreme callous not found in many villains. All other actors do incredible work in this movie.

I cannot thing of a better thing to offer up action buffs this time of year, consider it a Christmas present.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Amazing Spiderman 2 poster

Big Reveals in the new Amazing Spiderman 2 poster
These days in Hollywood, secrets revolving around movies are commonplace. When and if those secrets are revealed are up to the studio and trying to spoil those secrets has become very hard. In the 1990's, as the internet bubble was popping, there were several websites which cracked Hollywood codes and spread rumors and leaks all over the internet. Nowadays, getting a leak on an upcoming movie is very hard to do, and like I said its solely up to the studio as to whether or not that information is shared. Sometimes, it makes or breaks a movie. Last summer, everybody wanted to know who Benedict Cumberbatch was playing in "Star Trek Into Darkness" and the mystery around his character certainly played into their marketing campaign. Well, lets not was their marketing campaign. When the film was released and we all found who he was, I wonder if all the mystery was worth the obfuscation.

We have known for quite sometime now that both Norman Osborn and his son Harry Osborn will be involved in "The Amazing Spiderman 2." Norman Osborn was name-dropped quite a bit in the first film and it has been announced that Chris Cooper will play Norman and Dane DeHaan will play Harry in the upcoming sequel. (Willem Dafoe played Norman and James Franco played Harry in the first franchise.) However, we never knew if we'd see Norman become the Green Goblin, or what was going to happen with Harry. I thought we all wouldn't find out until the movie hit in May 2014, but I was proven wrong tonight.

A new poster for the upcoming sequel hit in Las Vegas today and it gives away a big, old, whopping spoiler. Front and freaking center!

Here's The Poster:
Seeing anything unusual? The Rhino..check. Electro..check. Wait whose that in the sky?

There's the Green Goblin, in all of his glory...oh and his glider!

So its pretty clear that The Green Goblin will definitely show up in "The Amazing Spiderman 2" but I wonder who will play him. Some people can't picture Chris Cooper on a glider in goblin make-up, at the same time, I can't imagine anybody else taking up the goblin mantle besides Norman. How Harry will fit into the overall scheme of things will be fun to see. With all of this said, I am a little nervous if this film is trying to pack a little too much in one film, especially since we have two more sequels on the way in the future.

No matter what, our questions will be answered on May 2nd, 2014 when the film is released.


Weekly Top Ten-Ten Actors Who Disappeared In their Roles

Weekly Top Ten-#32

Ten Actors Who Disappeared In Their Roles
Sorry about my brief absence, the Thanksgiving holiday usually takes up most of my free time. Not that I'm complaining, I have a blast always at this time of year, and this year another good one of food and visiting.

Now its time to play catch-up, so why not start with my weekly top ten? Over the years, there have been plenty of great actors and plenty of great performances. But how many performances were so grand that it felt the character was apart of the actor, and vice versa? Actors who absorbed their characters to the point that we didn't recognize them. Here are my ten favorite performances in which the actor disappeared into their role.

10. Michael Keaton, "Beetlejuice"
Now, its hard for me to look at the image above and see even a hint of Keaton through the make-up. But the mannerisms Keaton created, his voice, his was all magnetic, unlike anything he'd ever done before. It was a performance that seemed so over-the-top that it felt Keaton didn't even put a personal signature on it, not that that's a bad thing. Keaton had been funny in the past, but as Beetlejuice, he was crude, creepy and cackling. 

9. Ellen Burstyn, "Requiem For A Dream"
Burstyn has been in horror films before (and yes, I definitely consider Requiem a horror film), but she was always motherly and innocent. As this film starts, you see a lot of that sweetness and innocence in the beginning, but as her character gets addicted to weight-loss pills, her transformation from mother to addict is so strong, so tortured, and so brave that I could barely recognize her at all. The colors of her hair, the manic in her eyes, and her overall unkept nature made Burstyn a very iconic character for this movie and just added reason to why "Requiem For A Dream" is such a bitter pill to swallow.

8. Hilary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry"
When this film was initially advertised, I had never heard of Hilary Swank and I was determined that the actor in the lead of this film was a man. The genius of her performance is that she makes the whole thing believable throughout the entire movie. I think it also speaks to Swank's determination that she lived as a man for a month to prepare for the role.

7. Christian Bale, "The Machinist"
I will say this now and I'll probably say this again: Christian Bale is a beast. The thought that he lost lots of weight for "The Machinist," then gained it back for "Batman Begins," lost it again for "Rescue Dawn," gained it back for "The Dark Knight," lost it again for "The Fighter" and then gained it back for "The Dark Knight Rises" is unhealthy, but persistent. Not only does Bale's glaring weight not make you want to not watch, but the great personal touch he puts into the character adds to it too.

6. Anthony Perkins, "Psycho"
This may come off as a surprise to many, but before "Psycho" Anthony Perkins was a head-scratcher for the role of Norman Bates. Perkins usually played the "boy next door" character before landing the role of necrophiliac serial killer. Not knowing that and watching "Psycho," you'd never imagine that were the case. Perkins throws himself into the role and grounds himself in the misery and macabre of the character.

5. Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Now, I understand that Rourke looks like Rourke here and Rourke is known for tough guy roles. But Randy "The Ram" Robinson is no ordinary tough guy. This is a broken man with a shredded past, a guy who has it all but nothing at the same time, a man trapped in a world he can't fully comprehend, and the only therapy is to get in the ring and get pushed around. I would have never had guessed Rourke had the depth and emotion to pull the roll off, but the trailer for this film alone brought me to tears...all because of Rourke. How dare the Oscars not give him the golden statue in 2009.

4. Charlize Theron, "Monster"
I've been looking and looking at pictures of Theron from "Monster" and I really don't see a single shred of her in the pictures. When I watch the movie, she doesn't even sound like her regular self. I try really hard to study the make-up, the acting, the feel of it and the texture of it. It boggles my mind, this is what I call a complete transformation.

3. Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Another fine example of a pretty-boy actor turned complete psycho. I remember when it was first announced that Ledger had landed the role, and many people greeted it with open disgust, how was the guy from "10 Things I Hate About You" going to pull this off? The answer is quite simply "he did." Of course its hard to tell its him due to make-up alone. But that voice, those mannerisms, what he's asked to do in the script...I still can't believe its him and I equally can't believe we'll never know how his career would have matured and evolved later on.

2. Gary Oldman, "True Romance"
Now after many roles of heroes and villains to his name, after many years as Sirius Black and Com. James Gordon, and after using various make-up and hair styles on-film, its easy to say that Oldman disappears in nearly all his roles. However, Oldman has never been quite like he is here. The idea of Oldman playing a pimp who thinks he's black may sound like a joke, but its far from one in the film. Oldman's performance alone makes a particular showdown into one of the most tense scenes in all of movies...yes all of movies. Its hypnotic work and just another highlight in a great actors career.

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, His Career
There are very few actors who can put a unique signature on all of their roles. There are very few actors who can be consistently challenging, and engaging in every new role. There are very few actors who can play villains back-to-back and somehow make both roles feel different. To put it bluntly, there are very few actors quite like Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis, is an actor who can hands-down, do it all. There have been many influential actors, like Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The thing is, as good as both of them are, I usually can always tell its Pacino or De Niro. Day-Lewis has gift of constantly becoming a character, making the character apart of his life. That's no easy job, and I suppose it takes an over-abundance of determination. But perhaps that is why Day-Lewis appears in a film every 5-7 years.

Which actors do you think disappeared into a role?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Man of Tai Chi Review

Man of Tai Chi Review
"Man of Tai Chi" is the director debut of Keanu Reeves. Yes, Keanu Reeves has made his very first movie. Set in China, we follow the life of Tiger Chen Linhu (played by Tiger Chen, I shit you not.) and how he is down and out of a job he can't stand. All the while his Tai Chi temple is going to be evicted. He is the sole student of the Ling Kong Tai Chi temple, and he will do whatever it takes to hold onto this 600-year tradition. Chen meets Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves), who runs an underground fight club that offers Chen big bucks. He joins the club and soon all the fighting begins to take over his life, and he wonders who he truly is as a person.

I am sure that after you read that this was directed by Keanu Reeves, you probably rolled your eyes, you probably said "are you kidding?" at your computer screen, and you probably thinking about not reading further into this review. The truth is, if Keanu Reeves decides to continue to direct, "Man of Tai Chi" is actually a good start. Most movies that fall under the kung-fu/karate genre tend to be silly and overly-stylized. But Reeves was able to make something truly heartfelt. "Man of Tai Chi" isn't some listless melodrama though, the action scenes are brutal, intense and well-staged. Reeves lays bare everything he loves about martial arts in a movie that shall surely rock your socks off.

Reeves makes his film feel very authentic by setting his film in China, casting Chinese actors and having them speak Chinese with English subtitles. Tiger Chen, in particular, does a very good job in his role. Chen is an interesting character, a man who is out to show that Tai Chi is not just meditation and exercise, its a real martial art. I thought it was important to show us why this temple is so sacred to Chen. Its a long tradition of an art that he is the only student of. He doesn't join this lucrative fight club at the drop of a dime. This movie very much plays on the loss of innocence, and I thought Tiger Chen conveyed that very well.

Keanu Reeves is his typical self. No matter what emotion he's suppose to produce, he always comes off half-asleep and he does so in "Man of Tai Chi." It was interesting to see him play a more villainous character and his big fight scene with Chen at the end is lots of fun. Reeves' performance doesn't derail the movie in any form, but its pretty clear Reeves hasn't learned any new tricks recently. But, this is what we've come to expect from him, so do we hold it against him?

Overall, this is a great directorial debut for Keanu Reeves. A no-holds-barred, in-your-face martial arts film that is brutally fun. This isn't a movie that reinvents the genre, but Reeves has definitely left his personal stamp on the genre. I think that is pretty cool overall. Not everybody can make this strong of a movie this early out of the gate, but Reeves pulled it off. Very impressive.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Gimme Shelter Trailer

Gimme Shelter Trailer
Like most actors coming out of the Disney mold, I don't think much of Vanessa Hudgens. I think she's very unbelievable, I think she's very generic and I think she's pretty inert as a performers. But, no matter what, any actor at any time can surprise. Hudgens with "Gimme Shelter" could be that time.

"Gimme Shelter" has been sitting on the shelf since 2011 and is finally getting a release in late January 2014. It tells the true story of a girl (Hudgens) who gets pregnant and how her abusive mother (Rosario Dawson) won't leave her alone about it. Rosario Dawson looks as if she has disappeared into the role and surprisingly, so does Hudgens. She could knock this out of the ballpark.

The film also stars Brendan Fraser and James Earl Jones.

The trailer is not on YouTube yet, but follow the link below and it will take you to it!

Now You See Me Review

Now You See Me Review
I love it when a movie pulls a fast one on me. I love being surprised, I love it when a movie tries to do something and I can't see it, even if the answer is right in front of me. I have seen a lot of films that fall under this genre, and nothing gets me more giddy that a good brain-teaser. However, its been quite awhile since I've been wowed. Usually, when it comes to movie about magic, there is some kind of big reveal or twist at the end. In fact, in 2006 we had two great examples of that in "The Illusionist" and "The Prestige," two fine examples of a magician movie burning your noodle. I love a good cerebral meltdown, but I hate a lazy cerebral meltdown. 

"Now You See Me" revolves around 4 gifted magicians, J. Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Henley (Isla Fisher) and Jack (Dave Franco). Each of these talented magicians has a very specific piece of magic they specialize in, and they each get a mysterious invitation to a locked apartment room in New York City, they break in only to find it empty, but find something. A year later, they are The Four Horsemen and they are having their first big show in Las Vegas. Their show ends with them apparently robbing a bank in Paris, France. Seems like a big, fun joke until Parisian authorities decree that a bank was indeed robbed at the corresponding time of the Las Vegas show, so what happened? FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is hot on the trail, with Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) and they plan to stop The Four Horsemen before they rob again.

Had the film only centered on the FBI going after the con-artist magicians, I would have felt the movie was just fine. But the film shoehorns in a professional magician debunker (Morgan Freeman), and a stupid subplot involving a secret magic organization that began around the time of Ancient Egypt. "Now You See Me," ends up having the problem of too much story for absolutely no reason. The reason why "The Prestige" and "The Illusionist" worked so well is that they were simple stories at their core. The best brain-teaser films are simple at their core. The problem some of these films run into is that they try to hard, and "Now You See Me" definitely suffers from that. 

There is a lot of big talent in this movie, and they all do fine with what they've been given. Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher, Franco, Ruffalo, Laurent and Freeman are all very good, you don't need me to tell you that. Their resume's speak for themselves, and they are all quite charming. So is Michael Caine, so is Common and so is Michael Kelly. All of these actors have proven themselves over the years, and nobody derailed their career here.

With silly subplots and good acting, I figured that this movie could earn some merit back, if they could pull it off. I have seen enough magic movies to know that as the film began, I instantly started paying attention. Looking at every actor, every gesture, looking for clues, looking for things that look off, the whole bit. So by the end of the movie, when the big reveals start flowing in, I wasn't surprised. The reveals are actually quite hokey, and if you pay attention, you can see them coming a mile away. When its revealed who was masterminded everything over the last hour and forty-five minutes of movie, I had a feeling it was them. If I have a movie figured out before its over, it looses me. I love getting lost in movies, acting as if I am apart of the action. "Now You See Me" didn't quite do that. "The Prestige" is a great movie because, even though I paid close attention, I didn't see the ending coming, but I certainly saw the ending for "Now You See Me" coming. 

If you watch "Now You See Me" for anything, go to look at all the good actors being good at what they do. Their talent makes the movie manageable, so that gives the film some points. But the two things that weigh the film down for me are the subplots and the handling of ending. For movies like these, those two things are paramount.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

I've got an idea...

I read something today that got me thinking. This is a very, very broad theory, something I don't expect to happen at all. But hey, its fun to think about, and at this point in popular culture...anything is possible.

There are quite a few television programs I pay attention too. I am watching more television shows than ever before. For the longest time, I was just a movie guy, but I am quickly becoming a TV guy too. In my opinion, we are living in the golden age of television right now. There are quite a few shows to watch and the quality of the shows are intoxicating. Treating television with the respect its always deserved is music to my ears. One of the shows I like quite a bit is "Arrow," based upon the DC Comics character Green Arrow. Its action packed, its emotional, its dramatic, its well-acted...everything you'd expect from a good show. I have also learned that in a few weeks, "Arrow" will feature another recognizable DC Comics character...Barry Allen AKA The Flash. The Flash will get his own television show sometime in 2014.

Like I said a few weeks ago, the superhero genre seems ambitious enough to expand world-building into brand new territories. "The Avengers," "Batman vs. Superman," "Spiderman spinoffs" "The X-Men/Fantastic Four reboot universe" is becoming a new standard from the superhero genre in movies. It looks as if that standard is about to dip into the smaller screens too.

DC announced recently that they have more shows on the way. We know that sometime in the upcoming years that more shows based on DC characters are on the way. The CW, the station that is home to both "Arrow" and "Flash," will see the birth of "IZombie" and "Hourman." Fox is developing a "Gotham" series and NBC is developing a "Constantine" series. There isn't much information besides who is developing what, but it definitely raises some eyebrows. Its pretty clear that Flash and Arrow will have adventures together on The CW, so I am guessing Hourman will too. What I wonder is will Gotham and Constantine be connected to anything bigger? I wonder if there will be any multi-station deals going on to make something big. Sony and Disney tried very hard to get Oscorp in "The Avengers" in 2012, could inter-company cooperation be real in the future?

The real question for tonight is now. This is my big idea of the night, my big theory. We all know that the television show "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is connected to MCU, and that a recent episode tied directly to "Thor: The Dark World." Its too early to tell if this big screen-small screen connection will pay off in the long run. If it turns out successful, will DC try the same thing. I know that DC is trying something different than Marvel, but at this point, it seems DC has been more successful on the small screen compared to Marvel. I'd choose "Arrow" over "Agents" any day right now, but that could change at any moment. I wonder if DC will catch wind of this and try to connect their shows to their film franchises. Thinking of a world that featuring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Stephen Amell, Lawrence Fishburne, Manu Bennett, Grant Gustin, Diane Lane and whomever else seems like a great idea. I think "Arrow" could fit in perfectly into the world Zack Snyder is putting together in "Man of Steel." Could this be something of the future?

All I know is that I have been really surprised over the years now. I never thought something like a big screen universe would be possible, but it is. I never thought Channing Tatum would ever get his shit together, but he did. Now, I never thought I'd find much of DC entertaining, now I do. I am constantly being surprised lately, and I hope something good comes out of all this. If DC decides to keep its TV and movies separate, then we will have two worlds rich in detail and entertainment...but if they merge? Whoa, Marvel better watch out, they'll have serious competition.

I am also curious if Marvel's deal with Netflix will also incorporate itself into the MCU. The possibilities are endless!


Overlooked Film of the Week- "Gone Baby Gone" (2007)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #32

Gone Baby Gone
By now, everybody knows how good Ben Affleck is as a director. By now, we know that his career on a high unlike anything he's ever experienced. By now, we all know that Affleck deserved the Best Director Oscar nod last year, but we are glad he won Best Picture. In 2007, Ben Affleck started his movie-making career with a film that blew my mind completely. A movie that felt like it was made by a veteran filmmaker instead of a actor-turned-director. A movie that actually lives up to its twist ending and its tense build-up. That movie is "Gone Baby Gone," a movie that will make you think, a movie that will have you discuss the ending and the choices the characters made during that ending. Its a movie with a lot on its mind, and its a movie that provokes its audience to think.

The film grabs your attention right away with a scary situation. Children being kidnapped is a thought I think would be scary for all parents, I don't have children so I can't even begin to say that I am on a parent's level, but I can only imagine it is scary. The movie successfully creates a world that feels real, I felt that I was a resident of South Boston, effected by a little girls sudden abduction. Every reaction, every set, everything feels real. The actors who populate this South Boston look like regular people, not actors. I love the sudden realism of the entire production.

It also helps that Affleck hired some of the best actors in the business to play his lead roles. Ben's brother, Casey Affleck, has never been this good before. I think its even safe to say that Casey may have been in his older brother's shadow for quite a while. However, in this movie all of Casey's strengths are on great display. It really is the highlight of his career. Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris are both amazing as usual as two cops hard on the trail to find the kidnappers. I had never heard of Amy Ryan before "Gone Baby Gone," but I am sure she is an actress to look for. Ryan plays the mother of the kidnapped girl, and Ryan's character isn't a very good mom. She is not shy about her drug habbit, she's openly admits she has made many mistakes. When it gets down to it, its her daughter whose been kidnapped and she can't cope with it. Ryan makes us feel all of these emotions equally and eloquently. 

I know I said at the beginning of this review that this movie makes you think. I am sure many of you are shying away from this movie, because there is a large percentage of people who don't like to think during movies. I totally get that, we go to movies to be entertained, not to think. However, I think "Gone Baby Gone" isn't a hard film to follow. It doesn't make you think about the chronological order of events, but how good of a person you are. It makes you think about how YOU would handle the events of the movie, what YOU would do if you were in Casey Affleck's shoes. Its a movie that will spark lots of conversation. Its a pretty big accomplishment for a first time director.

"Gone Baby Gone" raised the bar so high that I didn't think Affleck could get that high again. But he has proven over the years that he was born to be behind the camera, and not necessarily in front of it. "Gone Baby Gone" is where it all began, a very important building block.

White House Down Review

White House Down Review
From director Roland Emmerich, you can expect some cheesiness after his lengthy career. "10,000 B.C.," "2012," and "The Day After Tomorrow" featured bundles and bundles of cheesiness. Even some of Emmerich's great movies like "The Patriot" and "Independence Day" had a lot of cheesiness. It has become second nature, walking into a Roland Emmerich movie that the audience will sustain several logic issues. I understand that tons of movies made have logic issues, so that doesn't really bother me. One of the reasons why we watch movies in the first place to see things that are blatantly impossible. Just as long as the movie can tell a good story, I can enjoy it on its own terms.

This is about the billionth year were two films with the same premise got released in the same year. Earlier this year, I saw "Olympus Has Fallen." I didn't hate the movie, but I didn't love it either. It was a movie about an ex-soldier who saved the White House from the terrorists who took it over. "White House Down" is a movie about an ex-soldier who saved the White House from the terrorists who took it over. Channing Tatum plays an ex-soldier who flops in his interview for the Secret Service. Just as his character is about to leave, the White House is attacked and successfully taken over by a group of Americans with a grudge. Then several explosions, bullets and corny one-liners later, Tatum saves the day. (Please don't cry to me, you knew this would end happily. This is a Roland Emmerich film.)

Usually in years where we get two movies with the same premise, both films do their own thing with the material. In 2012, "Snow White and the Huntsmen" was a darker, grittier version of Snow White, while "Mirror, Mirror" was a family-friendly, comedic version of it. In 1998, "Armageddon" had the classic, Hollywood happy ending, while "Deep Impact" ended on a more somber tone. Despite the stories, I would be hardpressed to think of reasons for how "No Strings Attached" compares to "Friends With Benefits." However, if you were to watch "Olympus Has Fallen" next to "White House Down," you'd feel like you watched the same movie twice. Both films have ex-soldiers as the hero, both ex-soldiers have hard pasts, both films have a political traitor who aide the terrorists, and both films make overly-outspoken comments on politics. When two films are this identical, it feels tedious that they both got released in the first place. With all that said, I do prefer "Olympus Has Fallen," that film had better action and it felt like a movie for our time. "White House Down" feels like a movie that came out in the mid-1990's, just swap Channing Tatum with Nicholas Cage.

I will say that Channing Tatum does pretty well despite a stupid script, I continue to enjoy this later half of Tatum's career and he does good work here. I am happy to report that the script fails Tatum, not his performance. In fact, this movie features lots of great actors; like Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins and Jake Weber, all of whom fall flat with this poor script. The biggest disappointment for me was Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer, the performance seemed very one-note and not necessary. I read in reviews prior to seeing this movie that Foxx never once does anything presidential. Well, those reviewers nailed it. Foxx is just playing himself in this movie and never once feels like a leader of a nation.

But hey, this movie came out in late June this year, its a movie that pretty much defines the summer blockbuster. When it comes to dumb summer fun, there is nobody more suitable for the job than Emmerich (well maybe Michael Bay.) If you love lots of big action, "White House Down" has it in spades. Plus, the actors do everything they can to make this matter, but the script lets the performances down. "White House Down" is also so similar to "Olympus Has Fallen" that I feel both movies were un-needed.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spiderman's Cinematic World Expanding?

If it was the 2000's where the superhero movie genre proved its longevity and elasticity, then the 2010's will see the superhero movie genre's world-building formula proved its longevity and elasticity. You don't need to tell me all the different crossovers in movies we've seen already, I've been talking about them for months and months.

We knew a few months back that Sony has been planning on adding more heroes to the Spiderman movie franchise. But now, Hitfix today announced that Sony is planning on Spiderman spin-offs coming soon. 

Hitfix reported today:

"Sony is planning a number of spin-off films involving other heroes and villains in the web-crawler's universe, according to studio chief Michael Lynton during a Q&A with analysts on Thursday. 

“We do very much have the ambition about creating a bigger universe around Spider-Man," said Lynton. "There are a number of scripts in the works.”
Read more at"

Some pretty big news, and very ambitious news. With this said, which characters do you think they will include in these spin-offs? It seems the rights for Daredevil reverted back to Disney/Marvel and a television based on the character is coming in 2015. I would say The Black Cat is a good guess however. Another big question: Is this a good idea? I think Sony maybe getting a little ahead of itself. "The Amazing Spiderman" may have made bank, but not everyone loved it. Sony made a big gamble to plan not two but three sequels to the film. Now spin-off? It seems Sony is going to keep the web-slinger busy, but will all of this work put belief back into fans? That is yet to be told.

Spiderman spin-offs? Yay or Ney?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Essentials- "North By Northwest" (1959)

The Essentials-#32

North By Northwest
When we look back at the best films by Alfred Hitchcock, which films come to mind? "Vertigo?" "Psycho?" "The Birds?" "Rear Window?" "The Man Who Knew Too Much?" Hitchcock had a lengthy, successful career and he has many hits on his resume. However, one film that always seems absent in the discussion of the best Hitchcock films is "North By Northwest." That to me is a little sad.

When it comes to my personal favorite mysteries or my personal favorite thrillers, I love the "whodunit?" movie, I love the mistaken identity movie. I love it when it seems like the whole world is against one individual, and that individual has to find out why. I love it when individuals have to overcome seemingly impossible odds just to clear his name. That is the setup for Cary Grant in "North By Northwest," easily Hitchock's most underrated film. I bet if I took a poll, most filmgoers would recognize the photo above. A great "Family Guy" episode parodied this movie very well. Yet, why isn't the movie talked about more?

Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a advertising executive who gets mistakenly kidnapped by two henchmen working for Lester Townshend. It turns out that Townshend is actually a spy named Phillip Vandamm (James Mason.) It seems Vandamm wants a man named George Kaplan for unknown reasons. But Thornhill isn't Kaplan, he's Thornhill. This leads Thornhill into a nightmare of near deaths, double-crossings and fake identities. The film gets especially tense when Thornhill is framed for murder.

What makes Hitchcock's film so engrossing is that a lot of stuff is never explained. What Hitchcock masters is throwing certain specifics out the window and focusing Thornhill's survival. But that doesn't mean the film features plot holes or isn't well written. Hitchcock makes every corner of his world matter, and because of that, everything matters to the audience. The film features a very good performance by Grant, but the whole cast is equally solid. The film also features great use of scenery and monumental locations. (And I definitely mean monumental in every aspect of the word!)

Plus, its Hitchcock, which means you need to see this before you die.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Past trailer

Did anybody catch "A Separation" back in 2011? The Iranian film that won Best Foreign Film during the 2012 Academy Awards? Its actually a very well made film. Asghar Farhadi, the director of "A Separation" will release his follow-up called "The Past."

The film stars Berenice Bejo from "The Artist" and the film looks like another raw drama.

I have no idea when this will get released, but I can't wait.

Weekly Top Ten- Best Thanksgiving Movies

Weekly Top Ten- #31

Best Thanksgiving Movies
I know, I know. I am more than sure you are all puzzled right now. Yes, a few weeks ago I made a top ten list of my favorite Holiday movies and you are all probably wondering what the heck I'm doing making a Thanksgiving list. Well, my holiday list was a very broad list, featuring films revolving around both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems like when filmmakers go out to make a holiday movie, that movie takes place on Christmas. There are only a mere handful of films that take place on Thanksgiving, so I thought those films needed a moment in the sun. 

One movie you won't find on my list? "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." Yes, I love the movie, I've written that a lot on this blog already and my blog isn't even a year old yet. So I think you all know how much I love that movie. Part of the fun of making this list was to see if I could make it without it. Also, due to how few Thanksgiving films there are, some inclusions of this list are a huge stretch. But hey, its all in fun. If you don't like fun too bad, this my blog. I make the rules ;)

10. Eli Roth's Thanksgiving (2007)
In just a few short minutes, in a faux trailer in the movie "Grindhouse," Eli Roth made a long-lasting impression. Mixing a family oriented day with bloody horror was fun, delirious and humorous all at the same time. No matter if you love him or hate him, Roth is a clever man. This faux trailer shows that.

9. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
I've always thought Allen is at his best when he's play a smooth-talking intellectual. Throw in Mia Farrow as a smartass Brooklin resident and you've got quite the comedy. I also think that its symbolic when both characters forgive each other for their wrongdoings on Thanksgiving. The film compliments how important the holiday is in the first place.

8. Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were one of those comedic duos that never got old. This film may sound boring and tedium on paper, but there is no doubt that these guys elevated the film. This film makes roll on the floor laughing and its a true classic.

7. American Gangster (2007)
Frank Lucas was able to achieve much by staying under the radar, and also looking like a good person in public. Even if that meant giving away a truck full of free turkeys on Thanksgiving. The film does a good job oh highlighting why Lucas was able to do all he did and what led to his epic downfall.

6. Home For The Holiday (1995)
Jodi Foster directed a mesmerizing portrayal of a family getting together for Thanksgiving dinner. The film just goes to show that no matter how low you get, family is the best medicine.

5. Scent of A Woman (1992)
This movie not only works as a holiday-oriented film but also a cool court drama. Pacino has never been better than in this film. And who doesn't like a film where somebody gets choked out at Thanksgiving dinner? 

4. Pieces of April (2003)
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't know what to do if I had to make a huge Thanksgiving dinner, in a small apartment with broken appliances. This small yet sincere little film was surprisingly charming. Katie Holmes actually did a pretty good job in it, too. 

3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
Nothing beats a classic!

2. The Ice Storm (1997)
This was the movie that got director Ang Lee on the map, and shows a dramatic side to a holiday. Showing the audience how broken this family is a metaphor for how important the holiday of Thanksgiving truly is. The film also happens to be a riveting drama.

1. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
A story of three sisters and their rollercoaster relationship with each other. Each big story beat is brought together over a series of Thanksgiving dinners. The result is one of Woody Allen's finest motion pictures. He's never been more smart, more clever, more witty or more rigorous. The film is entertaining on so many levels that it truly is engulfing. I love every moment of this film and you will too.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Graceland Review

Graceland Review
How a film is setup can impact the outcome of a movie. How you write your movie, how you direct it, how you make it look and how who you hire to play your characters are all vital to the final outcome. A filmmaker could have the best script in the world, but if they don't do anything else, the film falls flat. Any movie is a chance to say something; a movie doesn't have to be just a sequel, or just a prequel, or just a video game adaptation, or just a book adaptation or just a reboot. Anybody can put their personal stamp on something and make it very special. 

"Graceland," a 2012 Filipino film that got U.S. distribution rights in 2013, is a simple film on paper. So much so that I think Netflix gave away a big clue without thinking about it. The film revolves around Marlon Villar (Arnold Reyes), a cheuffer for the upcoming President of The Philippines. He's a man trying to make it with his teenage daughter and a sick wife in the hospital. His daughter, Elvie happens to be best friends with the forthcoming President's daughter, Sophia. Sophia is a real bad influence on Elvie, as one day they skip school. When Villar finds this out he puts Elvie and Sophia in his car, destined to get Sophia home. Villar doesn't realize he's speeding and is soon pulled over by a cop.

Except the cop isn't a cop, he's a kidnapper. What unravels next is nightmare scenario where Villar has to work for the kidnappers or they'll kill his daughter. Villar has to make sure the upcoming President pays the ransom to the kidnappers or his daughter will die. What makes "Graceland" so watchable is how quickly things get out of control and how they get worse as the film wears on. These aren't just some mindless, faceless kidnappers. They are targeting these people for a very specific reason, which makes the characters much more human. It also makes the film much more entertaining.

But just when you think all the movie adds up to is a slick thriller with humanized villains, big twists are revealed. The timing and precision of the twists are dead on, the kind of twists that make your jaw hit the floor. "Graceland" ends with the sort of conclusion that just made me sit back, stunned, barely able to process what just happened. This is what I am talking about when I speak of a good setup. Any movie can be thrilling, any movie can have a twist. But the way a twist is handled in the overall context of the film is what matters. "Graceland" is executed so brilliantly that I can't help but fall in love with it.

The performances are very good and I love it when actors I've never heard of dominate a film. Arnold Reyes is awesome as Villar. A guy who is clearly a family man and Reyes shows that perfectly. Elvie was played by Ella Guevara and Sophia was played by Patricia Gayod and they both do great work. Menggie Cobarrubias plays Manuel Changho, the upcoming President of The Philippines whose daughter gets kidnapped, and he is equally great. Leon Miguel plays Vicel, the cop/kidnapper who abducts the girls and plays the villain with deranged malice. 

If you've got a free night coming up, hop on Netflix and check out "Graceland." As the year ends, I am loving how all the films I've been watching lately. 


U.S. Trailer for The Wind Rises

I am a lover of all foreign film and that means animation.

As dark and realistic as most Asian cinema can get, their animation has the power to rival Pixar. I hope all my readers allow that statement to sink in just a bit. One of the masters of Asian animation is Hayao Miyazaki. As he is getting ready to retire, the trailer for his final film has hit the net.

There has been lots of controversy and praise revolving this movie as it moved through its festival circuit over the summer. The first American trailer for the film is very good looking and looks to be another classic among Miyazaki's filmography.

The film is due out on February 21st of 2014.


The Great Gatsby Review

The Great Gatsby Review
Baz Luhrmann is a very particular film director with a very particular style. I am not sure how often its worked either. I felt "Moulin Rouge!" to be not only the highlight of his career, but practically the only film he's made worth merit. It was an engrossing and delirious experiment that surprisingly paid off in more ways than one. The rest of his career, the "Australia's," the "Romeo + Juliet's" all seem a little too much on every front, those experiments definitely shattered their test tubes. I think overall, "The Great Gatsby" falls somewhere in the middle, sadly I think it feels farther from "Moulin Rouge!" and closer to "Romeo + Juliet." Never a good sign.

 All the technical aspects of "The Great Gatsby" are exquisitely impressive. But I think Luhrmann's hyperactive, hyper-stylized version of storytelling is quickly becoming self-parody. Everything we've come to expect from Luhrmann; hyper-kinetics, excess, crazy soundtracks, over-the-top everything, on full display in "The Great Gatsby." Despite a great cast, DiCaprio, Mulligan, McGuire, Edgerton, Clarke, Fisher fail to evoke any type of emotion out the script. It feels like a bunch of actors got together to play dress-up, instead of coming to act. While the movie is beautiful to look at, the spectacle cannot be the only thing that makes the movie worth watching. As I've grown up and my tastes have matured, I demand more than just a pretty picture. Especially coming from a source as rich as the book, this movie was very inert.

 Despite being based upon marvelous source material, this version of "The Great Gatsby" seems to be engineered from the template of "Moulin Rouge!" We meet Nick Carraway (Toby McGuire) after the events unfold. He's sitting down at a typewriter, getting ready write everything we are about to see. Carraway moves to New York City during the roaring 20's. He eventually meets a figure who will change his life, this figure harbors a secret throughout the entire movie. The secret gets revealed and once everything feels as if its in the clear, tragedy strikes before the credits roll. And Carraway lives out his days in misery. Sound familiar yet? 

The thing is, even though Ewan McGregor sat down at the typewriter and narrated all of "Moulin Rouge!" Ewan was able to evoke raw emotion from his character. Nothing in "Moulin Rouge!" seemed over-narrated. In "The Great Gatsby," everything is over-narrated. So McGuire's character ends up a blank the entire movie, sense we don't learn anything about him at all. The figure who changes Carraway's life is Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a mysterious millionaire who requires Carraway's help to steal the heart of Daisy (Cary Mulligan), Carraway's second cousin. Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) but has had a romance with Gatsby in the past. The rest of the film is how Gatsby and Daisy reconnect and how that eventually leads to Gatsby's downfall. None of it is thrilling or exciting because the actors don't make it matter. DiCaprio in particular is completely wrong as Gatsby, as he does what he does best: overacts. Mulligan tries to give the film something of a pulse, but by the end, its just not enough.

The cinematography, special effects and costuming are all wondrous but I knew that going into this film. What was on my mind was if Luhrmann could get us to care about the characters, and I don't think he did that. The soundtrack was disappointingly overdone, and everything was exaggerated to point that it felt mind-numbing. Luhrmann has proven that he can create scenery that dreams were made of and on a narrative level, he reached a high with "Moulin Rouge!" However, he's never reached that high since, so I'm beginning to wonder if Luhrmann is a one-trick pony.

 Also, I am not sure if "The Great Gatsby" really works in 2013. When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the book so many years ago, it was during a time when many aspired to be rich. That was a lifestyle everybody pushed towards and it was fun to fantasize about that lifestyle. Today, a cultural and social shift has set itself up. When people watch Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian on TV, they are embarrassed for them. When parents see how negatively fame has affected Amanda Bynes, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber; they immediately want something better for their children. Who can blame them, I'm young and I am repulsed by what quick-fame has turned these people into. With the countless scandals and stories that affected our very own economy, it makes since why being rich is hardly glamorized anymore. All the more reason why "The Great Gatsby" is a real head-scratcher in this day in age.

"The Great Gatsby" is incredibly short on narrative and becomes an expensive lightshow. Nothing more.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Frances Ha Review

Frances Ha Review
"What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, and I'll try not to sing out of key. Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends."

 That lyric from a particular Beatles song describes this film perfectly. Imagine, if you will, a quasi-hipster Woody Allen comedy with lots and lots of dancing. That is the best possible way to describe "Frances Ha," the sweet, sincere little film from Noah Baumbach. Baumbach is a director I've never even heard of, but who is instantly relevant to me after this movie.

I call "Frances Ha," a quasi-hipster film because most of the characters that populate this black-and-white New York City come off quite hipster-ish. Not to say that is a bad thing, because it works very well in the context of the film. The comedic timing for all these characters couldn't be more spot-on. The laughs work on a dry, cynical level, which is why I believe Baumbach is definitely channeling Woody Allen. I'd also say Baumbach is channeling some Wes Anderson as well (maybe just a splash of Anderson.) With all of these ticks, and homages, Baumbach and co-writer/star Greta Gerwig have created something vastly original.

I love ordinary "slice-of-life" movies with something intelligent to say about life in general. I think "Frances Ha," does that very well. On a surface level, one could argue that "Frances Ha" is a random chain of events involving the friendship between two best friends Frances (Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner). That argument isn't wrong per se, but I think there is a lot more on this film's mind. I think the friendship is so believable, so correlating, and so real that I think that any person, of any gender and any age can take something away from this film. The film makes accurate and humorous comments on friendship, life and how we go about achieving our goals. In the film, Frances is aspiring to be a modern dancer in New York City, and she doesn't realize how difficult a goal that really is. Throw in the anxiety of possibly loosing your best friend and you've got a film full of possibilities. I think Baumbach takes great advantage of those possibilities and made a deeply moving and funny film.

Have I ever mentioned on this blog how wonderful Greta Gerwig is? If not, allow me to start. I love Greta Gerwig, she's as talented as she is adorable. I love her perfect comedic timing, I love that she allows herself to come off de-glamorized to play a real person and I love how her face can say about a thousand different things at once. She makes Frances come off as a person and not a character, which is why I bought into her undying friendship with Sophie. I felt Mickey Sumner also did an excellent job as Sophie, and Sumner also did a very good job creating a real person out of her character. There is a terrific ensemble of actors who come in and out of this story that works well. Just like random people come into our lives and make some sort of impact. All of this, using all the corners of New York, shot through luminous black-and-white all made for an unforgettable experience.

I love it when films make an honest, but happy portrait of life. I love that this film had so much good to say about striving to fulfill your goals, overcome challenges and getting by with a little help from your friends. I also love how funny it all was too. "Frances Ha," is a gem.


The Essentials- The Untouchables (1987)

The Essentials-#31

The Untouchables
If you were to ask me what my favorite genre of movie was, I don't think I could give you a straight answer. I always remain pretty open minded about any film, a sure sign of true movie geek. However, I will admit that there are certain genres and sub-genres that make me raise an eyebrow, get me interested. The crime genre is definitely one of those genres. Even though gangsters are bad and I'd never trust one as far as I could throw one, they have been romanticized on film. For better or for worse, audiences find gangsters dead sexy, pun totally intended. Though gangster movies have never made me want to turn to a life of crime, they've done exactly the opposite, they show me crime doesn't pay. The best gangster movies show the audience that crime doesn't pay and that's why they are so important.

When people normally make lists of their favorite gangster movies, both "Godfather" and "Goodfellas" get all the glory. That praise is absolutely understandable, as "Goodfellas" is one of my favorite films of all time and the "Godfather" films come pretty damn close. I've said it before that I've always enjoyed "Goodfellas" more simply because its more realistic. Its also a film that delivers on every level every time you watch it. With all this said, there are an avalanche of great gangster films to watch and enjoy. As I read several lists made of the best gangster movies I am always stunned at how ignored Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables" is.

Not on this blog.

"The Untouchables" tells the remarkable true story about Elliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner) and how he created an elite team of government agents to take down Al Capone (Robert De Niro) during the Prohibition Era. The Prohibition Era was a crazy time, when our government outlawed all consumption and distribution of alcohol. What seemed like a moral move actually gave birth to organized crime in our country and one of the main culprits was Al Capone. The film successfully highlights just how dangerous this time could truly be and how ruthless Capone really was.

I have heard many "Untouchable" dissenters pan De Niro's performance as Al Capone. But honestly, I think its a load of hogwash. I thought De Niro made a great Capone and I think he could easily do again. I will admit that there are moments where the script is a bit hammy, and that may make De Niro's performance a little hammy itself. But I think De Niro goes with the flow of the script very well and creates a malicious and callous presence. Not to say that nobody else in this film is good, Costner is great as Elliot Ness. I love the underrated Billy Drago as Frank Nitti, Capone's right hand man. Drago creates atmosphere that is flat-out horrifying and he nearly steals the show. But the two men who truly steal the show for me are Sean Connery as Jimmy Malone and Andy Garcia as George Stone, two recruits Ness gets on his law enforcement team. Connery has all the best lines and scenes, and he proves here why he's such a legendary actor. Garcia plays a hotshot marksmen and I think its the highlight of his career.

I think the genius of "The Untouchables" is how it balances adventure with violence. There are big moments of action, that may not sound like they work for a gangster movie, but somehow do. I'd call "Goodfellas" a violent movie, but "The Untoucheables" is fairly reserved by comparison, but never once is "The Untouchables" not entertaining. I also don't want you to think that "The Untouchables" isn't gritty, its horrifically gritty. There are quick flashes of unspeakable violence which used very well. Everything in this movie is well staged, and I think De Palma deserves mad credit.

So if you're a gangster-addict like me. If you haven't seen this movie yet, please do so.

"Isn't that just like a wop, brings a knife to gun fight. Get outta here you dago bastard!"

Yep, still humorous.