Archive for Christian Slater

Nymphomaniac: vol. I

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On a cold winter’s evening, the old, charming bachelor Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) beaten up in an alleyway. He brings her home to his flat where he tends to her wounds while asking her about her life. He listens intently as Joe, over the next eight chapters, recounts the lustful story of her highly erotic life from infancy to the age of 50. Seligman, a widely read man, connects and analyzes Joe’s stories with what he has read about.

Inspired by a fly fishing hook in the wall behind her and Seligman’s love of Izaak Walton’s book The Compleat Angler, Joe opens her story by talking about her developing an ongoing fascination with her genitalia, exploring various childlike ways to find stimulation from the age of 2. Her father (Christian Slater) is a doctor whom she loves dearly while her mother (Connie Nielsen) is, as Joe describes her, “a cold bitch” with arguable apathy towards her family. Joe as a child spends all of her time with her father, learning about the various trees he loves, especially the ash tree. As a young woman (Stacy Martin), she loses her virginity to Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf), a random guy whom she had no relationship with. This first encounter, which ends with Jerôme casually leaving her to fix his motorcycle, leaves her disappointed, while Seligman explains the number of times Jerôme penetrated her, three times vaginally and five anally, is an allegory for the Fibonacci sequence. Years later, accompanied by her best friend B (Sophie Kennedy Clark), Joe engages with multiple people sexually on a train carriage. After having sex in the toilet with many of the men she comes across, she sexually assaults one of them who had denied her advances. The whole purpose of such a sex train-trip, was no other than winning a bet which had a candy bag as a prize.

Over rugelach and a discussion over the lack of masculinity of men using cake forks to eat pastry, Joe talks about her first experiences with actual love, something she dismisses as “lust with jealousy added.” Joe takes on more lovers as she, B and several friends create a club, “The Little Flock,” dedicated to liberating themselves from the prospect of love, though Joe leaves after the other members start developing more serious relationships with their lovers. As she gets older and finds work as a secretary at a printing company after dropping out of medical school, her first employer is none other than Jerôme. Whilst sexual intentions are clearly on his mind, she finds herself avoiding his advances and sleeping with other co-workers, frustrating him. When Joe finally realizes she has developed feelings for Jerôme, she writes him a letter. However, she is too late as he has left along with his uncle’s secretary Liz. She is immediately fired by his uncle (Jesper Christensen), the actual owner of the company, for her lack of experience and goes back to indulging her nymphomania, despite a yearning for Jerôme.

On one occasion with one of her lovers, H (Hugo Speer), she causes conflict that makes him leave his wife for her. The distressed Mrs. H (Uma Thurman) enters her house and attempts to demonize them in front of her children, though Joe states in the present that this barely affected her. The situation then becomes more awkward as Joe’s next lover, A (Cyron Melville), arrives at the house and finds himself in the middle of Mrs. H’s mental breakdown. The family finally leaves, but not before Mrs. H chastises Joe for her lifestyle, slaps her now ex-husband and leaves the apartment screaming.

Seligman’s talk about Edgar Allan Poe and his death from delirium tremens reminds Joe of the last time she saw her father. She is the only one to visit him in the hospital as he dies of cancer. Joe’s father asks her not to slander her mother, who is afraid of hospitals, for not being by his side, explaining they said their goodbyes. Joe is a firsthand witness as her father deteriorates into fits of violent spasms and screaming for his wife, forcing the hospital staff to keep him restrained. To take her mind off her father’s suffering, Joe sleeps with several people at the hospital. When her father finally dies, Joe lubricates in front of the body and becomes depressed.

After Seligman explains how he feels Bach perfected polyphony, Joe uses his example to talk about two lovers leading up to her “cantus firmus.” The “bass voice,” F (Nicolas Bro) is a tender, but predictable man who puts her sexual needs about his own. The “second voice,” G (Christian Gade Bjerrum), thrills Joe because of his animalistic control of her in bed. Just before the end, after going on one of her regular walks, Jerôme finds her after separating from Liz, a coincidence Seligman finds preposterous, and they embrace. As the two engage in passionate sex – set to Joe’s experiences with Jerôme, F and G – Joe becomes distraught after finding that she can no longer ‘feel anything’.

REVIEW:

Last year, I remember hearing about how Lars von Trier was making an extremely controversial film about sex addiction, which would turn out to be a 5 hour film which was eventually split into two parts. Nymphomaniac, vol. I is the first half of the final film of von Trier’s “depression” trilogy. Forgive me for not knowing what the other films in the set are. I believe Melancholia is one, but don’t quote me. So, does this live up to the hype and reputation it has received? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac reveals a lifetime of sexual experiences to a man who saves her from being beaten in an alley.

What did I like?

Body of work. I must say  that I was actually impressed with the young lady who was tasked with doing all the nude scenes, I believer her name is Stacy Martin. She has a nice little body on her (albeit a bit less curvy than I care for). Her look actually works for this character. Surely, the filmmakers could have recruited some pornstar for this role but, aside from their horrendous acting, would all that plastic work for this role? No, having someone who is natural when she is au natural is extremely key.

Storytelling. Curious is a word I would use to explain my feelings about this film. I mean this is a film about a sort of sex addiction, from all I had heard. How would they tell an actual story? Well, they do just that, tell a story. The filmmaker chose to have a sort of side plot, where our main character (in what I assume is present day), is telling her tales to Stellan Skarsgard’s character. For me this works. Quite easily, they could have just made this a bunch of random sex scenes with some drama thrown in there for good measure, but that would be nothing more than an expensive porn with actual stars.

Tasteful. So, there are a few sex scenes in this film, just in case you haven’t heard. Here’s the thing, though, while they aren’t your typical Hollywood type…everything is done under the sheets and all we see are breasts bouncing, perhaps an ass shot…it is shot in a way that is very tasteful. Yes, we get some hardcore scenes, if you can call them that, and their way more penis shots than I am comfortable with. I think that is the point, though. Think of it like going to a museum and seeing all the nudes. They aren’t nude like say the Playboy “Playmate of the Month”, but rather they are painted/sculpted very tastefully. The same idea is behind all the sex in this film.

What didn’t I like?

Brits do it better. I was asked the other day why I focus so much on accents. The answer to that is that I don’t know, with the exception of southern accents, since I have heard those most of my life. Once again, I must speak on accents, specifically Shia LeBeouf and Christian Slater’s attempt at being British. Now, Slater isn’t that bad, truthfully, but you can still tell he’s not British. With Shia, it is obvious that he is either not as good or trying too hard. His accent doesn’t sound anymore authentic than when I try to use one, which is pretty bad. I guess we Americans can’t do accents as well as the rest of the world. I say that because we have people like  Christoph Waltz, Rebel Wilson, Mel Gibson, Hugh Jackman, most of the cast of True Blood, etc. who can totally make us believe they from right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., when in turn they are from other places across the pond or down under.

No, No, No, No. What is it that directors keep seeing in Shia LeBeouf? Hell, Steven Spielberg all but christened him the next Indiana Jones before the flop that was Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. This guy is not that great of an actor, contrary to what they might think. So, he shows up in this film in a major role. Here’s the problem, given this subject matter, and where LeBeouf comes from (Disney channel), it is hard to see him doing this kind of role and take him seriously. He just isn’t grizzled enough or leading man material enough to pull it off. A couple of weeks, Hillary Duff released a new video that had her prancing around all sexy, wearing a bikini, etc., much like she did in War, Inc. The problem is that she can’t pull that off, well, the sexy part she can. It is just that she hasn’t shaken the goody-goody image from her childhood. Since both Duff and LeBeouf still have babyfaces, as well, it is even harder to see them in “adult” situations. Maybe part 2 will change my mind about LeBeouf, but I doubt it. He’ll probably just ruin another film series, like he does everything else.

There’s a plot? My apologies for comparing this to porn so many times, but allow me to do this one last time. If you have ever watched porn, then you know the plots are thinner than your girlfriend’s see-through lingerie. There is a much more complex plot here, to be sure, but the issue is why do we care? Reverting to my inner horny teenager for a second, all we see is sex, sex, and more sex. Does a plot really matter, especially when the film is so dull? I would love to say that there was a happy balance amongst the two, but there isn’t. Take the sex out of the film and the plot is rather boring and nonexistent. Of course, this is a film about sex addiction, so you can’t really take the sex out of it. Then again, it worked for parts of Shame.

For a film in the “depression trilogy”, Nymphomaniac: vol. I didn’t make me want to slit my wrists they way that other film in the same vein have. Don’t misunderstand me, this is not a feel-good film, by any stretch of the imagination, but at least there are moments that allow you to feel human. The biggest problem with this picture, though, is that it tries to be more than it is. I found it to be pretentious and dull. Is this a horrible film? No, as with most pieces of cinema, especially the “artsy-fartsy” kind, there are good and bad. Depending on your proclivities, this may or may not be for you. Do I recommend it? At the present time, I have to say no, unless you yourself are a nymphomaniac. Perhaps when I get around to watching volume II, I will have a more concrete opinion on this, or perhaps it will have been swayed in a different direction. As of now, I can’t say as I believe you need to see them both together, since this is an entire 5 hour film (apparently 90 minutes have been taken out for the American release). All that said, feel free to take a chance, at your own risk!

3 out of 5 stars

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Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Detroit engineer Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) has been interested in building cars since childhood. During World War II he designed an armored car for the military and made money building gun turrets for airplanes in a small shop next to his home in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Tucker is supported by his large, extended family, including wife Vera (Joan Allen) and eldest son Preston Jr (Christian Slater).

As the war winds down, Tucker has a dream of finally building the “car of the future.” The “Tucker Torpedo” will feature revolutionary safety designs including disc brakes, seat belts, a pop out windshield, and head lights which swivel when you turn. Tucker hires young designer Alex Tremulis (Elias Koteas) to help with the design and enlists New York financier Abe Karatz (Martin Landau), to arrange financial support. Raising the money through a stock issue, Tucker and Karatz acquire the enormous Dodge Chicago Plant to begin manufacturing.

Launching “the car of tomorrow” in a spectacular way, the Tucker Corporation is met with enthusiasm from shareholders and the general public. However, the Tucker company board of directors, unsure of his ability to overcome the technical and financial obstacles ahead, send Tucker off on a publicity campaign, and attempt to take complete control of the company. At the same time, Tucker faces animosity from the Big Three and the authorities led by Michigan Senator Homer S. Ferguson (Lloyd Bridges).

While the manufacturing of the Tucker Torpedo continues, Tucker is confronted with allegations of stock fraud. Ferguson’s investigation with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), causes Karatz, once convicted of bank fraud, to resign, fearful that his criminal record will prejudice the hearings. Yellow journalism starts ruining Tucker’s public image even though the ultimate courtroom battle is resolved when he parades his entire production run of 51 Tucker Torpedoes, proving that he has reached production status.

After giving a speech to the jurors on how capitalism in the United States is harmed by efforts of large corporations against small entrepreneurs like himself, Tucker is acquitted on all charges. Nevertheless, his company falls into bankruptcy and Preston Tucker succumbs to a heart attack seven years later, never able to realize his dream of producing a state-of-the-art automobile.

REVIEW :

I think I’m one of a handful of people who actually remember Tucker: The Man and His Dream. When this film was released it did ok business, but was still considered a flop. As such, it never had the chance to gain a cult audience, so now it just exists without any real rabid fanbases supporting it.

What is this about?

Unimpressed with the cars being built following World War II, Preston Tucker dreams of building a more stylish car. But even with the help of his business-savvy wife and mechanic son, Tucker faces roadblocks — mainly from the auto industry itself.

What did I like?

Faithful. With biopics, it is very hard to stick with the original story, because you want to change bits and pieces in a way to make it more interesting for audiences. The director made a valiant effort to not change anything with picture and the few changes that were made were minor, the biggest being that instead of 4 yrs, it takes place over the course of 1 year. There are other small changes made, but none that made a big difference, as far as I’m concerned.

Cast. Very rarely does one come across a film that has such a perfect cast. Highlighted by the star Jeff Bridges, who manages to capture the 40s essence needs to pull this off. In certain scenes, it almost seems as if he’s trying to imitate Kevin Costner’s mannerisms and such from The Untouchables.

There was a time. Anyone that follows this blog or knows me in person will attest that I’m huge fan of this era. There is just something about the way things were done back then. Couple that with some great jazz playing on the radio, and a look at a couple of full service gas stations. Really makes one nostalgic, even I was taken aback by it all.

What didn’t I like?

Price isn’t right. Martin Landau gives a nice performance as financier Abe Kravitz, but his look threw me off. With the moustache they put on him. he resembled Vincent Price. It is possible, yet unlikely, that they wanted Price for this role. Perhaps the real Kravitz resembles Price is the reasoning for that. I really can’t tell you, but I kept expecting him to go to some kind of lab and create monsters and give and evil laugh.

Hughes. Now, fans of Quantum Leap will recognize Dean Stockwell, who plays Howard Hughes. The way that sequence played out was quite odd. Hughes was a bit of an enigmatic figure, to be sure, but they ratchet the mysterious part of his persona to 10. I can live with that, but the creepy music they play behind him almost make the audience think something bad is about to happen.

Politics. Some things never change. Politicians stick their grubby little hands in and basically put Tucker out of business. That is a damn shame! When did politicians go from serving the people to serving the dollar? These days you can throw in throwing a tantrum when they don’t get their way, but I won’t go into all that. The powers that be see Tucker as a threat because his ideas actually work and will make things better (and cheaper). One must wonder how many others have suffered the same fate, if not worse.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream is one of those films that not many people know about. Truthfully, the same can be said about the man, Preston Tucker, but it is a great thing that someone wet through the trouble to inform the public about someone who was so influential to the automobile industry. Here’s something else, the Tucker Tornado still has a futuristic look some 70 yrs later. There was an article on Yahoo.com a week or so ago about a real life version of the car Homer designed in an early episode of The Simpsons. I just realized that the debut scenes are very similar. At any rate, I highly recommend this film. It is a very entertaining biopic about a figure that many of us don’t know about. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Bullet to the Head

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In New Orleans, hitman Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) kill a corrupt policeman, Hank Greely (Holt McCallany), although Bobo leaves a prostitute, Lola, alive. Later, at a bar, Blanchard is murdered by Keegan (Jason Momoa), who also attempts to kill Bobo, but fails.

Washington D.C. Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives in New Orleans to investigate Greely’s death and meets Lieutenant Lebreton, who informs him Lola confirmed Greely was assassinated. Kwon goes to the morgue, and, after seeing Blanchard’s body and finding out who he is, he deduces that Blanchard and Bobo killed Greely. Meanwhile, Keegan meets with his employer, Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Morel’s lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater). Baptiste reveals that Greely tried to blackmail Morel, and provided local mobster Baby Jack (Douglas M. Griffin) with a file detailing Morel’s illegal operations. Keegan later kills Baby Jack and his men and retrieves the file.

Kwon meets Bobo in a bar and informs him that he knows Bobo and Blanchard killed Greely. Bobo leaves, and when Kwon tries to follow him, he is attacked by corrupt cops who were ordered by Morel to prevent Kwon from further investigating about Greely. Bobo rescues Kwon and takes him to a tattoo parlor, where Bobo’s daughter, Lisa (Sarah Shahi), treats Kwon’s wounds. They later go to a massage parlor where Bobo interrogates Ronnie Earl (Brian Van Holt), the middleman who hired Bobo and Blanchard on Morel’s behalf. Ronnie Earl tries to kill Bobo, but Bobo manages to kill him, although his gun jams. Bobo later confronts Kwon, who admits to having tampered with Bobo’s gun, nearly causing his death. Bobo and Kwon agree to work together.

Bobo and Kwon kidnap Baptiste and take him to Bobo’s house, where he is forced to give them a flash drive detailing Morel’s plans to acquire housing projects and demolish them to build office buildings and reveals Keegan is an ex-mercenary hired to be Morel’s enforcer. Afterwards, Bobo shoots him in the head. Keegan and his men trace Baptiste’s cellphone to Bobo’s house, but Bobo and Kwon are able to escape and detonate a bomb, killing Keegan’s men. Keegan then becomes obsessed with killing Bobo.

Kwon meets with Lieutenant Lebreton to ask for his help, but Lebreton tries to kill him, as he is also on Morel’s payroll, but Bobo kills him and saves Kwon. Meanwhile, Keegan learns about Lisa and kidnaps her. Morel then calls Bobo and offers to trade Lisa for the flash drive. Bobo agrees, and meets with Morel in an abandoned warehouse, where he delivers the flash drive to him and rescues Lisa, while Kwon infiltrates the building to arrest Morel. Keegan becomes furious when Bobo is allowed to leave and kills Morel and his men before going after Bobo.

Keegan confronts Bobo and they have an axe fight, which ends with Bobo slashing Keegan’s throat with Blanchard’s knife, followed by Kwon shooting Keegan in the head. Kwon retrieves the flash drive and Bobo shoots him in the shoulder to make it appear as if Kwon failed to capture him. Lisa decides to stay with Kwon, with whom she initiates a romantic relationship, and Bobo leaves. He later meets Kwon at a bar, where Kwon tells him he did not mention Bobo’s existence to the police this time, but if Bobo continues in the business, Kwon will take him down. Bobo welcomes him to try and drives off into the night.

REVIEW:

The two biggest action stars of the 80s are now trying to capture a new generation of audiences with new action flicks. Arnold Schwarzenegger had The Last Stand and now Stallone brings us Bullet to the Head. I’ll try not to compare the two, because it is like apples and oranges, but one has to wonder which is the better film.

What is this about?

Justice and revenge go hand in hand in this thriller, which follows a young New York cop and an experienced hit man as they team up to track down and take out an enemy they have in common — the person responsible for slaying their partners.

What did I like?

Throwback. This films takes us back to the gritty buddy cops genre that was prevalent in the 70s as well as just straight up actin films from the 80s. For me, as someone who grew up watching the action from the 80s, I was eating this stuff up. As far as the cop stuff, I wasn’t hating it, as it was nice temporary respite between action scenes. I realize there are folks out there who would have preferred more character development and such, but seriously, if you’re coming into a film like this look for some deep meaning, then you really need to have your head examined!

Sleek sly. It is kind of funny that this is set in New Orleans because obviously, Stallone has been doing some kind of voodoo to have a body like that as his age (no comment about is face). Perhaps that is what happens when you’re not governor of California. I should also mention that his character has a very, very, VERY hot semi-estranged daughter. I wonder if she’ll be doing the taking up the family voodoo practice.

Conan. There are some actors that are just meant to do one thing and one thing alone. Jason Momoa is one of those guys. Aside from being a remake, one of the things that I couldn’t really get into in Conan the Barbarian (2011) was his acting. This director was smart enough to give him very few lines. All the guy has to do is stand there and look intimidating and spout off a few cliché’ lines until it is time for him to actually do something. I’d say that was good use of the guy, wouldn’t you?

What didn’t I like?

Narration. I think we have all been spoiled by the golden voiced narrations of Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, James Earl Jones, and more recently Bill Nighy, Jeff Bridges and John Corbett. The thing about all these guys is that they have clear enunciation. In a bad narrating decision that rivals having Blake Lively do the narrating in Savages, someone had the brilliant idea for Sylvester Stallone to narrate this. Correct me if I’m wrong, but should narration fill you in on what is going on with clear and precise thoughts, not mumblings?

Evil plot? Mayhaps I missed something or got confused, but what exactly is the evil plot here? Best I can tell is that is has something to do with real estate, but I’m not sure. I’m also not real clear on why this led to the murders and double-crossing and how Christian Slater’s character factors into everything. Could they not have thrown the audience a bone with all this?

Punk. As is often the case when we see differing generations team up, the more youthful has no respect for is elder, has a smart mouth, and seems like they’ll die if they don’t have their electronic device. This detective that was brought in fits that bill to a ‘T’. Did I mention they cast him instead of Thomas Jane to make the cast more “ethnic”? So, he’s brought in to fill a quota, if you will, and is just an unlikable guy.

If I don’t say anything else about Bullet to the Head, I really should mention that 99.9% of the people who are shot in this film, and there are quite a few, all get bullets through their skulls. So, at least this film isn’t guilty of false advertising, but is it worth watching? Well, there’s blood, violence, gratuitous nudity early on, and an axe fight between Stallone and Momoa…hmm…sure! This is one of those films that is fast paced and fun from start to finish and I say you should most definitely check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Interview with the Vampire

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In modern-day San Francisco, reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) interviews Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt), who claims to be a vampire and tells the story of his past.

Louis’ story begins in Louisiana in 1791, when he was 24 and suffering from a death wish after the loss of his wife and infant child. The vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) offers him a chance to be reborn and proceeds to turn him into a vampire. Lestat teaches Louis how to live as a vampire. At first, Louis rebels against hurting humans, drinking animal blood instead. He finally succumbs and kills his faithful house slave. He tries to kill himself by setting fire to his house, but Lestat rescues him and they flee.

In New Orleans, Louis is wandering the streets amidst an outbreak of plague. He finds a plague-ridden girl in a house with her dead mother. He bites the young girl, Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), whom Lestat later transforms into a vampire “daughter”, to discourage Louis from leaving him. Lestat begins to teach Claudia how to live like a vampire, making her copy his actions, as to killing. As thirty years pass, Claudia becomes a sadistic killer and closely bonded to Louis and Lestat. But when she realizes that she will live forever and never grow up, she becomes furious with Lestat. She tricks him into drinking the blood of the corpses of twin boys, whom she killed by overdosing them with laudanum, with the knowledge that the blood from the body of a creature already dead is fatal to vampires. This weakens him and she then slits his throat. Claudia and Louis dump Lestat’s body in a swamp but he later returns, having drained the blood of swamp creatures to survive. Lestat attacks them but Louis sets him on fire and flees to Paris with Claudia, assuming Lestat is dead.

In 1870 Paris, Louis and Claudia live in perfect harmony but Louis is still bothered by the question of how vampires came to be and if there are any other vampires on earth. One night, while walking the streets, he meets vampires Santiago (Stephen Rea) and Armand (Antonio Banderas), who tell him that there are other vampires in Paris and that he knows the answers Louis has been searching for. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to his coven, the Théâtre des Vampires, where they witness Armand and his coven dispatching a terrified human woman before an unsuspecting human audience. Armand later takes them to his lair and offers Louis a place by his side, while secretly telling Claudia to leave him. Louis refuses to leave his beloved Claudia, however, and leaves the lair. As he does, Santiago warns him that his vampire coven knows about Lestat’s murder and that it is forbidden for vampires to kill another vampire. Louis returns alone to Armand’s lair, where Armand proceeds to reveal that Louis is a unique vampire as he possesses a human soul and is connected to the “broken-hearted” spirit of the 19th Century. Louis becomes thoroughly smitten by Armand and resolves to leave Claudia at long last.

Returning to his residence, Louis finds that Claudia has brought home a human woman, Madeleine, with the intent that Louis turn her into a vampire to serve as a companion and protector before he leaves. Louis reluctantly gives in and transforms Madeleine, forcing Claudia to admit that they are now even and can part on good terms. Immediately after, however, the Parisian vampires burst in and abduct all three of them. As punishment for Lestat’s murder, they imprison Louis in a metal coffin and lock Claudia and Madeleine into an airshaft with an open roof. The next morning, the rising sun floods the airshaft and Claudia and Madeleine turn to ash. Armand frees Louis, who searches for Claudia and is horrified and grief-stricken when he comes across her ashen remains. He returns that night to the Theatre and seeks revenge for Claudia by burning all the vampires alive in their own theatre as they sleep and bisects Santiago with a scythe. Armand arrives in time to help him escape, and once again offers him a place by his side. Louis once again refuses, knowing that Armand choreographed Claudia’s demise in an attempt to get Louis all to himself, and he leaves Armand for good.

As decades pass, Louis explores the world alone, still grieving for Claudia, before returning to the United States. He is seen and heard telling how he saw “the sun rise for the first time in 200 years”, in a movie theatre, watching Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, Nosferatu, Gone with the Wind and Superman. He returns to New Orleans in 1988 and finds Lestat, still alive but a mere shadow of his former self. Louis unwittingly gives Lestat some insight about modern technology; Lestat asks Louis to rejoin him, but Louis rejects him and leaves.

At this point Louis concludes the interview, which Malloy, the interviewer, cannot accept. He asks Louis to transform him so he can see what it is truly like to be a vampire, but Louis throttles him in a fit of rage and vanishes. Malloy hurriedly runs to his car and drives away, feeling happy with his interview as he plays it through the cassette player. Just then, Lestat appears, attacking him and taking control of the car. Revived by Malloy’s blood, he then offers a dying Malloy “the choice [he] never had” as they drive off into the San Francisco night, taking out the cassette and turning on the radio, which is playing Guns N’ Roses cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”.

REVIEW:

I guess this is just vampire weekend, what with this and Underworld: Awakening yesterday. I may even go listen to some Vampire Weekend after I finish this post. A little “A-Punk” or “Giving Up the Gun” never hurt anyone.

I’ve mentioned my ever-growing frustrations with those sparkly, girly “vampires” in other franchises (those that shall not be named). Well, they aren’t here either. If you’re looking for those kind of abominations, this is not the film for you.

First thing I should say about this film is that, with the exception of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I belive this is the first film that truly shows the plight of the vampire as they cope with immortality and the changing times.

In case you are not familiar with the source material, this flick is based on a novel by Anne Rice, The Vampire Chronicles. I have not read the books, so I can’t comment on how close the filmmakers kept with the source material, but from what I hear, they did a much better job than what was done with the “sequel” Queen of the Damned, which took out much of the major plot points and characters and left very little of the actual stories it was to be based on.

The story is told through the eyes of Louis, as he is telling a reporter his life/death story so that it can be published. I’m not quite sure what the reporter was trying to do or how this meeting was set up, but I’d imagine that may be covered in the books.

We learn of the kind of person Louis was and how he was turned by the vampire Lestat. Keep in mind this all happens in New Orleans in the 18th-19th centuries, so random killings weren’t on the news or internet 5 seconds later, women were looser (that’s saying something about New Orleans…lol), and life was all around more decadent and fitting to the life of a vampire.

As you can imagine, the lust for blood in the two does eventually get noticed and they are forced to find other accommodations after Louis burns his plantation and frees his slaves. I find it odd how it was Louis’ plantation and yet Lestat was pissed that he “…burned everything we have”. Was he given part ownership of the place or something?

As the film progresses, they turn Claudia, a little girl whose parents were dying of the plague and who becomes their “daughter”. Years pass and she begins to lash out, going so far as to orchestrate the killing of Lestat, which causes her and Louis to flee to Paris where they meet a theatre troupe of vampires led by Armand.

It turns out, though, that these vampires are not exactly keen on the idea of killing one’s own and feel that Louis and Claudia must be punished. Things get quite interesting as the film draws to its conclusion after that point.

The vampires in this film are about as blood thirsty as they come. Well, with the exception of Louis who is not a killer and prefers to drink of rats rather than take a human life. You won’t find these vampires whining about their feelings or some nonsense such as that.

The look of the vampires, though is a bit of a strange thing for me. On one hand, they look as human as you or I, with the exception of the teeth, of course, and maybe the eyes. However, they have a very effeminate look to them. This may have to do with the era in which this is set, though.

The cast is terrific. I think this is one of the few times where I actually enjoy Tom Cruise on-screen. Apparently, Lestat is a major character in vampire lore, so this is a pretty big undertaking. The author of the books was not a fan of the casting of Cruise, but after she saw his performance, she was sold and even sent him a letter of apology. Now that is getting the seal of approval!

Brad Pitt is ok as Louis, but he comes off at times as cold and/or aloof. Part of this is the personality of the character, but something tells me he could do better, but hey, at least he’s being a real vampire.

With names sch as Cruise, Pitt, Antonio Banderas, and Christian Slater, you’d think they’d be the hamming it up and such, but that isn’t the case. In fact, they aren’t even the best part of the cast.

That honor goes to the debut of a young Kirsten Dunst. For such a young age, she sure had some chops back then, and this was really a mature role. She pulls it off like a wily veteran twice her age. No wonder she’s still around today, regardless of how milquetoast she was in the Spider-Man movies.

How does this film rate with me, I bet you’re asking? Well, to be honest with you, I actually like it. No, it isn’t my favorite vampire flick. Far from it, as a matter of fact, but if it were to be suggested or come on television, I’m for certain to give it a look-see. It is definitely worth your time.

4 out of 5 stars

Young Guns 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens in 1950 with a young attorney talking to an elderly man named Brushy Bill Roberts, who claims that he is William H. Bonney (aka Billy The Kid), whom “everyone” knows to have been shot and killed by Pat Garrett in 1881. The majority of the film takes place in flashbacks as the old man recalls his story for the lawyer, who asks if the man has any proof that he is the famous outlaw.

Brushy Bill’s story begins with the remaining Regulators having gone their separate ways. Billy has become part of a new gang with ‘Arkansas’ Dave Rudabaugh (Slater) and Pat Garrett (Petersen). The New Mexico governor has issued warrants for the arrests of those involved in the Lincoln County wars, including Billy, Doc Scurlock (Sutherland), and Jose Chavez y Chavez (Phillips), who are dragged into town and imprisoned in a pit dug into the ground to await hanging. This is when Chavez mentions the spirit horse (a horse that is said to carry worthy souls to the other side).

Meanwhile, Billy meets with the new governor Lew Wallace who agrees to pardon Billy if he testifies against the Dolan-Murphy faction. Billy soon finds out that he was tricked into being arrested with no chance of testifying against his old enemies. After pulling out of his cuffs, Billy along with the help of Rudabaugh and Garrett, pose as a lynch mob to spring his old comrades from a hanging. When the gang successfully escape Lincoln, Billy mentions the Mexican Blackbird (a broken trail only him and few others know that leads down to ‘Old’ Mexico). Garrett decides not to go with the gang and, instead, open a boarding house.

As they make a run for the border along with farmer Henry William French (Ruck) and 14 year old Tom O’Folliard (Getty), cattle baron John Simpson Chisum and Governor Wallace approach Garrett to offer him the job as Lincoln County Sheriff and $1000 to use whatever resources he needs to hunt Bonney down and kill him. Garrett agrees and, forming a posse, begins his pursuit of the gang.

As the gang comes to an Indian burial ground, tensions flare between Rudabaugh and Chavez. They have a knife fight ending with Rudabaugh sticking a knife through Chavez’s lower arm. Rudabaugh pulls his gun on Chavez, only for the rest of the men to pull out their guns on him. They soon come to the town of White Oaks where they meet up with former companion, Jane Greathouse (Jenny Wright) who runs a local bordello. Later that night, the town lynch mob comes for the gang and are intent on a hanging. Deputy Carlisle tries to negotiate a deal, ‘the Indian’ (Chavez) for a safe rideout. Billy shows his loyalty to his friend by refusing the offer and pushing the Deputy (who is accidentally killed by the lynch mob) out the door. Garrett soon tracks Billy to the bordello, but is too late. Jane not only proves unhelpful but disparages Garrett for turning against Billy, which causes Garrett to set fire to the bordello. In an inexplicable act of defiance, Jane strips naked in front of the posse and rides off on a horse.

Billy and his gang are continuously tracked by the posse, narrowly evading capture, but Tom (being mistaken for Billy) is soon shot by Garrett. As they hideout, Billy reveals that the Mexican Blackbird doesn’t exist; it was just a pawn to get the gang back together and to keep riding. Doc is angered and points his gun at Billy, but quickly puts it down and tries to leave for home. He is shot by one of Garrett’s men and sacrifices himself to enable his friends to escape. Billy is soon cornered and taunts Garrett, yelling, “You killed the boy and you killed Doc! You knew him!”

Billy the Kid is soon brought back into Lincoln by Garrett and is sentenced to be hanged by the neck until he is dead, dead, dead, to which he tells the judge that he can go to hell, hell, hell. He is visited by Jane Greathouse, who arranges to meet him during his daily outhouse visit, where she gives him a pistol. Despite Billy’s warning not to, the younger guard raises his own gun, forcing Billy to kill him with regret. Hearing the shots from across the street, Bob Ollinger, the other guard assigned to guard The Kid, rushes to the scene. Billy uses Bob’s own shotgun, which he had used to taunt Billy earlier in the film, to shoot him dead with a double barrel shotgun loaded with dimes. Billy then says “best dollar eighty I ever spent” and then escapes to Old Fort Sumner.

By the time he arrives, Dave has abandoned the group to make his way to Mexico, and Chavez lies close to death, only succumbing when he sees the spirit horse running towards him. Billy is incensed at how his actions have led to the deaths of his friends while he has been largely unharmed. During the night, after taking refuge with a female friend, he decides to get something to eat, realizing too late that he is unarmed just as Pat Garrett makes his presence known. Billy asks Pat to let him go, saying he’ll hide. The lawman doesn’t believe that it would work, saying that “they’d stone me.” Billy then excoriates his old friend for his treachery and for killing his friends, but Pat throws back at him that Billy, in effect, is the one that killed everyone through his leadership. Billy turns around, forcing Garrett to have to shoot him in the back. Garrett shoots errantly, striking a distant pinata. In the morning, William H. Bonney is “buried” and Garrett’s horse is seen being taken by someone (presumably Billy the Kid) bringing to mind a conversation from earlier in the film where Billy had said that he would never steal a horse from a man he didn’t like. In his words, “Did I like him? Hell no. I loved the son of a bitch.”

The film ends with Brushy Bill walking away while the lawyer chases after him, having been convinced of the man’s true identity. The epilogue reveals that Dave was beheaded once he reached ‘Old’ Mexico to discourage more outlaws from crossing the border, Garrett’s book detailing his pursuit of Billy is a dismal failure and he is eventually shot and killed, and despite corroboration from several surviving friends of the outlaw, Brushy Bill Roberts was never credited as being Billy the Kid and he died shortly after. Whether or not Brushy Bill was the actual Billy the Kid remains a mystery.

REVIEW:

 With all the historical inaccuracies in Young Guns, one can speculate as to why they decided to make a sequel (besides more money). My guess is that they wanted to further spit on the good name of Billy the Kid and his Regulators, but that’s just me.

Young Guns II starts in modern day (1990) where an aged man, whom we believe to be Billy the Kid has come to talk to a lawyer about getting the pardon he was promised before he dies. This all fine and dandy, especially since he goes on to narrate the film, but it is quite strange as to why it was even added. This film could very well have just started with Billy and his gang doing what they do, and then move along into the plot and whatnot. I just didn’t get it.

The plot seems to have been thought out, but suffered in the process from paper to screen. What I mean by that is there are plenty of spots that are great, but there are more that make you say, “huh?”, sch as the aforementioned modern day scenes.

As a fan of the old West, I can abide by the historical inaccuracies of this film. It is one thing to add or embellish a couple things here or there, but to totally change everything is insane! Whoever approved of these changes, need to be drug out into the street and hanged until dead!

Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen westerns during our time, right? Most of them are 80-90% drama and then a climactic gunfight at the end, followed by a heroic ride into the sunset. If this film does one thing right, it is that is does try to stick to that formula. Kudos, bt I would have liked for there to have been a smidge more action, rather than all the arguments between the gang.

Emilio Estevez, Keifer Sutherland, and Lou Diamond Phillips reprise their roles from the original film and haven’t lost a beat, although both Chavez and Doc have mellowed out.

William Peterson, you know the guy from CSI, play that turncoat, Pat Garrett. He actually does a pretty good job. His best scene, though, has to be at the end when he confronts Billy and they have that tension filled showdown where he has to decide to shoot or not.

Christian Slater must have gotten this role because of his family connections (brother Charlie was in the first one and Emilio is the star of both films). That really is the only way I can see him even being considered. His character isn’t that interesting. As a matter of fact he’s annoying, and not in a sidekick or guy that wants to take over way, he’s just flat out fingernails on the chalkboard annoying. Slater has done better work as an actor, as well. It was really a disappointment to see him like this.

I have to say that I expected more from this picture. After all the dust cleared, the best thing that can be said about it is that Jon Bon Jove wrote some great music for a borderline terrible movie.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are redeeming qualities of this picture, but for the most part, this thing just doesn’t live up to its predecessor, or maybe it is trying too hard to do so. I’m not sure. Can I recommend this? Eh…I suppose if you want to see both film, then yes, otherwise, I’d pass, or just watch it on CMT since it seems to have been playing on there when they aren’t showing reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard or some crappy country music video. I can’t say that I enjoyed this, but I’m sure someone out there can and will.

3 out of 5 stars

Heathers

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film centers on high school student Veronica Sawyer (Ryder) who is part of the most popular clique at Westerburg High School (named for singer Paul Westerberg) in Sherwood, a fictional suburb of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to Veronica, the clique is composed of three wealthy girls with the same first name: Heather Chandler (Walker), Heather Duke (Doherty), and Heather McNamara (Falk). These mean-spirited girls play croquet with each other, use their own unique slang, and even purge together. Even though they are adored by most other students, the Heathers despise everyone outside their clique and continuously bully socially awkward classmates such as the overweight Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock.

When a new student, a rebellious boy named Jason Dean (Slater), or J.D. for short, pulls a gun on school bullies Kurt (Fenton) and Ram (Labyorteaux) and fires blanks at them, Veronica is intrigued. They meet and have sex. To avenge herself on Heather Chandler, who she feels mistreated her the night before, Veronica and J.D. jokingly prepare a cup full of drain cleaner to bring Heather as a morning wake-up drink. Veronica decides on milk and orange juice as a suitable form of revenge, as the combination can induce vomiting. J.D. distracts Veronica with a kiss and Veronica takes the wrong cup to give Heather. J.D. notices the mistake, but does not inform Veronica; Heather Chandler drinks the drain cleaner and dies in front of them.

J.D. urges Veronica to protect herself from suspicion of murder by forging a suicide note in Heather Chandler’s handwriting. Based on this note, the school and community look on Heather Chandler’s death as a dramatic, yet somehow hip, decision made by a popular but sadly troubled teenager. Heather Duke soon steps into Heather Chandler’s former role as clique leader, and begins wearing a red hair bow that had belonged to Chandler.

Several weeks later, the oafish Kurt and Ram spread a false rumour about Veronica giving oral sex to Kurt and Ram at the same time, ruining her reputation at school. J.D. proposes that Veronica lure them into the woods behind the school with the promise to “make the rumors true”; then, they will shoot them with special bullets that will knock them unconscious but not kill them. J.D. will plant “gay” materials beside the other boys, including a gay porn magazine, and a suicide note saying the two were lovers in a suicide pact. Ram is shot but Veronica misses Kurt, who runs away. Veronica realizes that the bullets are real, though originly smiles and says “it’s not a problem, it was worth it to see the looks on their faces”, then JD runs after them to when she notices that the intent to kill them was real.; J.D. chases Kurt back towards Veronica, who panics and shoots him dead. At their funeral, Kurt’s father is seen wailing, “I love my dead gay son!”, and the boys are made into martyrs against homophobia.

Other students begin mimicking the perceived behavior of the popular dead kids and attempting suicide themselves. Martha Dumptruck pins a suicide note to her chest and walks into traffic. She survives but is badly injured.

Veronica tells J.D. that she will not participate in any more killings. He plans to kill Heather Duke next, and subtly threatens to do the same to Veronica if she does not cooperate. Veronica instead tricks J.D. by using a harness to make it look like she has hanged herself. Heartbroken, he reveals his plan to blow up the entire school during a pep rally. A petition he has been circulating, via Heather Duke, to get the (fictional) band Big Fun to perform on campus was actually a disguised suicide note. Most of the students had already signed, so the mass murder would appear to be a mass suicide instead.

Veronica confronts J.D. in the boiler room where he is rigging timed explosives. She attempts to kill him when he refuses to stop the bomb. As J.D. collapses, he accidentally stops the timer. Veronica walks out through the pep rally with everyone cheering, unaware of their narrowly-missed demise. The severely injured J.D. follows her outside, looks at her as if to say, ” We could have been together…” and detonates a bomb that is strapped to his chest. The final scene of the film is of Veronica, covered in ash and bleeding slightly, walking through the school halls.

REVIEW:

To this day, I still don’t understand why they have Heathers billed as a comedy when there is nothing funny about it.

This  film was released at a time when high school movies were all the rage and many of the stars were on their ay up.

Winona Ryder gives a good performance as Veronica. One that would rival her more serious works. she brings to the screen that moody, teen angst that was highly popular at the time, while at the same time keeping an air of innocence about her. I liked how she seemed to be the popular girl that still talked to all the regular folks, even though Heather #1 was doing everything short of beating her on the head with a club to do what she said. At film’s end, though, we get a glimpse of what things would be like under the Veronica regime when she actually talks to Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock. A little  while earlier, she was playing croquet with her childhood friend, Betty Finn. Maybe they all went on to become the next Heathers?

Christian Slater looks like he was a bad boy in high school, so the task of taking on the role of J.D. was not brai surgery. He turns in the best performances of the film, from the the time we first meet him carefully observing Veronica to his psychotic plan to blow up the school at the end of the film, he seems disturbed, the perfect man for Winona Ryder.

Shannen Doherty starts out the film as the quiet, good-girl Heather, characteristics we’ve only seen from her on screen during the early days of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Little House on the Prairie. However, after some training with J.D., she takes over the role as chief Heather from the now deceased Heather Chandler. As the new Heather #1, we see Doherty as the bitch we know her for on-screen.

This film bombed at the box office, but has garnered a real big cult following. Can’t say I blame them, its not a bad picture. Personally, I wasn’t that into it and felt like it was dragging on in parts. However, as far as story/plot goes, its not half bad and is worth watching. Of course, if you’re going to watch it, I would suggest doing it quickly before your memories of the original are still pure and not poisoned by the upcoming TV-series remake of this.

3 out of 5 stars

The Wizard

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jimmy (Edwards) is a young boy who has suffered from a serious mental disorder ever since his twin sister drowned in a river. He doesn’t interact with anyone, he spends most of his time building things out of blocks or boxes, and he always carries his lunchbox with him. He has tried to run away to California many times. The trauma of the drowning and Jimmy’s condition has broken up his family: he lives with his mother and stepfather, while his half-brothers Corey (Savage) and Nick (Christian Slater) live with their father Sam (Beau Bridges). When Jimmy is put into an institution, Corey breaks him out and runs away with him to California. Hired by Jimmy’s mother and stepfather is Putnam (Will Seltzer), a greedy and sleazy, runaway child hunter, who competes with Corey’s father and older brother to find the boys and sabotage each other’s efforts.

Along the way, they meet a girl named Haley (Lewis), who is on her way home to Reno. Discovering that Jimmy has an innate skill at playing video games, Haley tells them about a video game tournament with a cash prize of $50,000 and then agrees to help the two reach Los Angeles to participate in it for a cut of the money. By doing so, they hope to prove that Jimmy doesn’t need to live in an institution. The trio hitchhike across the country, using Jimmy’s skill and appearance to hustle people out of their money by playing video games. Along the way, they encounter Lucas Barton (Jackey Vinson), a teenage boy who shows off his Power Glove and his skills at Rad Racer, declaring he is also entering the championships.

They finally arrive in Reno, where it is revealed that Haley wants her share of the prize money to help her father buy a house. With the help of an acquaintance trucker, Spankey (Frank McRae), they use money won at the craps tables to train Jimmy on several games in the Reno arcades, using Play Choice 10 machines. They then head to the Championships at Universal Studios Theme Park, where the game played in the preliminaries is Ninja Gaiden. Jimmy qualifies as a finalist, but is pointed out to Putnam by Lucas (also a finalist) and the three are chased throughout the park, barely making it to the finals. The game in the finals is Super Mario Bros. 3, which at the time had not been released in the US (it was only available in Japan), and Jimmy wins the tournament at the last second.

The family catches up to the children during the finals of the tournament. On the way home, they drive past the Cabazon Dinosaurs, a tourist trap at which the family often stopped when they vacationed in California. Upon seeing the exhibit, Jimmy becomes extremely restless, chanting “California” and forcing his family to pull the car over. Jimmy immediately jumps out and races toward the dinosaurs, his family in pursuit. He associates the dinosaurs with his sister, with whom he visited them in the past, and he leaves his lunch box, which contains photographs and other mementos of his sister, inside one of the dinosaurs.

REVIEW:

I remember when this film came out there were a couple of shown on the air that were video game competitions. One was on WGN, and I can’t remember the name of it to save my life, and the other was Nick Aracde on Nickelodeon. Not sure if they’re creation/airing has anything to do with this film, but the idea had to come from somewhere, right?

It’s kind of funny that Fred Savsage is playing a kid named Corey since his little brother, Ben, would go on to play one in his own series Boy Meet World. Fred doesn’t necessarily light up the screen, but he doesn’t suck, either. There are times when it feels as if he’s just going through the motions, and others where his talent shines through.

Jenny Lewis’ character is obviously thrown in to bring some female viewers into this film. She isn’t really a likable character. Most of the time she’s bossing Corey around. As the film comes to an end, though, she softens up and gains some likability. Still, I think she’s unnecessary, but that’s just me.

Beau Bridges and Christian Slater also star as the father and big brother, respectively. It is a bit of a subplot that their relationship is strained, but grows as the film progresses.

The real star of the film is Jimmy, played by Luke Edwards, and his video game skills.  The climax of the film is a video game contest, but in order to get there and make it to the finals, one has to be pretty good. It is believed that Jimmy is some sort of prodigy.

For a little family film, there sure are a lot of complex storylines going here. I believe this is why the film isn’t as good as it could be. Fact is, they just need to focus on the kids headed to California and the issues that go along with that, and maybe, just maybe, the bounty hunter stuff. Maybe it’s just me, but I think they could have made a deal with Nintendo to show more video game stuff.

All that being said, this is a pretty good family film. I wonder, though, now that I’ve watched it, if there’ll be news of remake next week. That seems to be the pattern, these days. The film would allow one, because of the technology involved, but the story and characters should stay the same. Just my two cents.

3 out of 5 stars