Archive for Demian Bechir

The Hateful Eight

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In Quentin Tarantino’s stylish Western set in post-Civil War Wyoming, eight travelers stranded at a stagecoach way station — including bounty hunters, outlaws and former soldiers — become enmeshed in a duplicitous plot as a savage blizzard rages outside.

What people are saying:

The Hateful Eight is a parlour-room epic, an entire nation in a single room, a film steeped in its own filminess but at the same time vital, riveting and real. Only Tarantino can do this, and he’s done it again” 4 stars

“The closing scene, amidst harrowing brutality, is poetically powerful and is without a shadow of a doubt, Tarantino’s crowning achievement as an auteur” 5 stars

“While this movie is definitely worth watching, even at nearly three hours in length, I found it too mannered and self-indulgent to give it any more than three stars. I realize that Tarantino likes to pay homage to his favorite old movies, but sometimes he overdoes it. For example, the lighting in the interior scenes is extremely unrealistic, and I’m sure that was done on purpose because it makes it resemble those old movies. But let’s all remember that they lit scenes that way not because they wanted to but because the technology at the time did not allow them to do it in the more realistic way that we are now able to do. Oh, and then there’s the unnecessary narration that jumps in well after the movie has begun. A silly affectation, at best. But if you do watch it, you will certainly enjoy the many fine performances. I especially got a kick out of Jennifer Jason Leigh.” 3 stars

“Pure Trash! Filthy, nasty language-none of it necessary. I don’t believe people talked liked this during this time period. Overuse of the “n” word. Loads of blood and gore which was totally unnecessary as well. It is like the producer is trying to cover up how awful the story is by splashing blood, guts, and gore around. Very slow moving and it looks like the actors/actress cannot deliver timely lines. You are led to believe it is a movie about the Civil War but it turns out to be about a gang out west. Writer definitely wants to deliver a huge negative bias on Southerners by building a belief that these are post-Confederate soldiers gone wild, but in the middle of the film you learn they are an unlawful gang in the West. He leads the viewer to believe the woman had ties to the Confederacy but it turns out she is the sister to the lead gang member who has come to save her from hanging. I was thoroughly insulted and would not recommend this movie to anyone. ” 1 star

“Crossing a Whodunit with a Western, ‘The Hateful Eight’ is full of completely over-the-top violence and profane language, so much so that it is almost laughable – it’s undoubtedly a Tarantino film. With a running time approaching 3 hrs, there are more than a few lulls and an absurd amount of (unnecessary) dialogue, but with its beautiful cinematography and rising tension, there’s always something going on and it’s never truly boring. The biggest problem here is that it’s in need of some serious editing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining providing you’re not put off by Tarantino’s ridiculous style.” 3 1/2 stars

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The Heat

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn is a very skilled and effective investigator, but is despised by her fellow agents for her arrogance and condescending attitude. Hale, Ashburn’s boss at the New York FBI field office who is being promoted, sends her to Boston to investigate a drug kingpin named Larkin with the promise that she would be considered as his replacement if she can solve the case while showing the ability to work effectively with others. Once in Boston, she is partnered with Shannon Mullins, a skilled but foulmouthed and rebellious police officer with the Boston Police Department. Ashburn’s by-the-book philosophy clashes with Mullins’ rugged and violent style of police work. Mullins discovers the details of the Larkin case by stealing the case file from Ashburn and insists on helping her. Ashburn reluctantly agrees, realizing that she needs Mullins’ knowledge of the local area.

Ashburn and Mullins follow leads to a local night club owner and successfully place a bug on his cell phone. As they leave the club, Ashburn and Mullins are confronted by two DEA agents, Craig and Adam, who have been working the Larkin case for several months and are worried that their case will be compromised. After viewing him on a screen in the DEA agents’ surveillance van, Ashburn discovers that Mullins’ brother, Jason, was recently released from prison, having been put there by Mullins herself, and may be connected to Larkin’s organization. Ashburn convinces Mullins to go to her parents’ home to ask Jason for information on Larkin. On their arrival at the home, it becomes apparent that Mullins’ parents and two other brothers still harbor deep resentment for Mullins’ involvement in Jason’s incarceration. Jason, who does not have any ill feelings toward his sister, tips her off about the body of a murdered drug dealer hidden in an abandoned car. Upon examination of the body, chemicals on the victim’s shoes lead Ashburn and Mullins to an abandoned paint factory, where they witness a drug dealer being murdered by a member of Larkin’s organization named Julian. The two apprehend Julian and interrogate him regarding Larkin, but are unable to extract any substantial information regarding Larkin’s whereabouts.

The pair spends the evening in a bar bonding over several rounds of drinks. After a night of raucous drinking and partying, Ashburn wakes up the following morning to discover that, in her drunkenness, she has given her car keys to one of the bar patrons. After unsuccessfully pleading for the keys, Ashburn watches, along with Mullins, as the car explodes upon being started, having been fitted with a bomb. During the investigation of the explosion, the two discover that Julian has escaped from custody and may mean to harm Mullins’ family. Mullins moves the family into a motel, but learns that Jason has joined with the Larkin organization in an attempt to aid the case. Jason gives her a tip about a drug shipment coming in to Boston Harbor. The FBI sets up a sting at the harbor to take down the shipment, but discovers that the ship they have been waiting for is actually only a pleasure cruise ship and Jason has been set up by Larkin. Knowing that he informed the FBI about the supposed drug shipment, Larkin attempts to have Jason killed, but only puts him into a coma.

Mullins vows to bring her brother’s attacker to justice. Ashburn and Mullins learn of a warehouse where Larkin houses his operations. After equipping themselves with assault equipment from Mullins’ extensive personal arsenal, the two infiltrate the warehouse. Despite taking out several of Larkin’s men with a hand grenade, the two women are captured and bound by Julian, who threatens to torture them with knives. Julian is called away by Larkin, but before he leaves the room, he stabs Ashburn in the leg with one of the knives. Mullins removes the knife from Ashburn’s leg and uses it to cut the rope binding her hands. Before she can finish freeing herself and Ashburn, they are discovered by Craig and Adam. Craig begins to untie the two women, but is shot and killed by Adam. Ashburn and Mullins deduce that Adam is actually Larkin, having been working his own case from inside the DEA for several months. Julian reenters and is instructed by Larkin to kill Ashburn and Mullins while he goes to the hospital to kill Jason. After Larkin leaves, Mullins, whose hands have already been untied, manages to finish freeing herself and Ashburn incapacitates Julian with a head butt. Mullins then frees Ashburn and the two race to the hospital to save Jason.

Upon their arrival, Mullins rushes to find Jason. Ashburn, hindered by the stab wound in her leg, is unable to move quickly. Mullins finds Jason’s room, only to discover Larkin standing over his bed with a syringe, intending to kill Jason by injecting air into his vein, causing his death by an air embolism. Mullins drops her weapon in an attempt to save her brother’s life. Ashburn, having had to crawl to the room, then enters and subdues Larkin by shooting him in the genitals. With Larkin captured, Ashburn requests to stay in the FBI’s Boston field office, having developed a strong friendship with Mullins. Jason is shown having fully recovered from his coma. The film ends with Mullins receiving a commendation from the Boston Police Department, with her family present cheering for her, having reconciled with her.

Afterwards, following a misunderstanding earlier in the film, Mullins brings Ashburn her neighbor’s cat, after believing that it was hers from a picture in her house.

REVIEW:

In the same vein of 48 hrs and The Odd Couple, we get the odd pairing of Sandra Bullock and a ragged looking Melissa McCarthy in The Heat. The formula of total opposites has worked in the past, but how does it resonate with today’s audiences, especially with these actresses leading the way.

What is this about?

In this action-comedy, Sandra Bullock heads the cast as by-the-book FBI agent Katerina James, who forms an unlikely alliance with unconventional street cop Joyce Nelson to take down a Russian gangster.

What did I like?

Family. About halfway through the film, we get to meet the family of Melissa McCarthy’s character, who are very much the living embodiment of every stereotype of people from Boston. I’m surprised they weren’t talking about the (Red) Sox, eating beans, and drinking beer! Still, the family not only helped give us more of an idea of where McCarthy came from and they were quite funny.

Chemistry. I was amazed with how well Bullock and McCarthy worked together and played off each other. Part of it is because of the good writing and part of it is because of the comedic talent that these two women possess. Throw in the fact that their characters are opposites of each other and the great chemistry between them is a major selling point.

Marlon. Usually, we see Marlon Wayans in comedic roles, and this is the same kind of role, but it does seem to be more of a serious part. I could say that he was underused, but I actually think this was a nice use for him, though we could have gotten more of him trying to get with Sandra Bullock’s character. That seemed like it was going to go on and be hilarious, but the parts we got we pretty funny.

What didn’t I like?

Miss Congeniality. I was reading some reviews for this before I started writing this, and someone mention that Bullock’s character seems to be an extension of her character from Miss Congeniality. When I was watching, I didn’t realize it, but it has been quite some time since I’ve watched that film. Still, Bullock may have been a bit too uptight and I think she could have loosened up a bit, but that’s just me.

Faction. DEA, FBI, and the Boston police all butt heads and as an audience member, I have to wonder if this actually happens. The lack of communication between the three is part of the reason the  film’s villain, who is a bit of a surprise when he is revealed, was able to stay so hidden, but is quite obvious who he is.

Controversy and characterization. When they were marketing this film, there was some controversy regarding the posters, which feature an airbrushed and elongated Melissa McCarthy. That’s all I’m going to say about that. If I go too far into it, I’ll end up throwing this computer. Keeping on McCarthy, it seems as if all her film roles are some variation of the same character, the unlikable, annoying (sometimes fat) lady. She has shown she can be a total sweetheart, though. Just watch her on Mike & Molly. I would like to see her show that side on film. While the gruff character worked here, it is getting to be a bit old. I could switch this character out for her character in The Hangover III and both would probably still work.

For all the heat surrounding The Heat, I didn’t feel it as much as I probably should have. That being said, I did thoroughly enjoy this film and laughed harder than I have with most of today’s “comedies”. It should be noted that if you have sensitive ears, this is not the film for you! Otherwise, I highly recommend this action comedy. Give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Machete Kills

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Danny Trejo returns as former Mexican Police detective-turned-spy Machete, who is recruited by U.S. President Rathcock (Carlos Estévez) to stop madman revolutionary Mendez (Demián Bichir) from launching a deadly missile aimed at Washington, D.C. However, Machete soon learns the real threat is an international criminal organization led by an eccentric billionaire arms dealing terrorist named Luther Voz (Mel Gibson), who has launched a conspiracy to start riots in every country.

REVIEW

Machete is back, people, and this time, Machete Kills! Isn’t it amazing how a small spoof trailer that was part of the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse films has become 2 major motion pictures, with a possible third on the way?

What is this film about?

Vigilante and ex-Federal Machete returns to battle when the U.S. government recruits him to take down a psychotic revolutionary and a billionaire arms dealer trying to launch a weapon into space.

What did I like?

Knowledge is power. One of the common criticisms of Machete was that it was too serious for what it was. Well, rest assured, the filmmakers took notes and have made the sequel a fun ride for all. Not only is this film more fun to watch, but the laws of physics don’t seem to apply, almost in a cartoonish way. Some may raise hell about that, but I love that kind of stuff. Sometimes you just want to go in to a movie, sit back, turn your brain off and enjoy. If that is what Robert Rodriguez was trying to do with this picture, then he accomplished his goal.

Different. Leading up to this film’s release, message boards were burning up with rants saying that this was just going to be a rehash of the plot from the first film. Well, as it turns out, this is nowhere near the same story. Sure, the immigrant stuff is still in there, but isn’t as major a plot point. This time around, we get Mel Gibson playing a madman who wants to start a new society in space. Yes, I said Mel Gibson!

Bloody. If you were looking for the bloody violence that goes with a man named Machete, then you’re in for a treat. The blood is flowing fast and loose with body parts flying all over the place, people being thrown into helicopters, eyes poked out, etc. Gloriously violent, but not murder porn. Boy, oh boy, was it great to see!

Trilogy. Before the film proper started, there was a trailer from Machete Kills Again. Initially, I thought it was just a joke trailer, but as the film progressed, bits and pieces came together and showed that perhaps this will be a trilogy. That point aside, the trailer is like that original Grindhouse trailer, but with comedic elements. I enjoyed it, in spite of the chatty teenage girls sitting in front of me with their cell phones out.

What didn’t I like?

Reasoning. A few characters return from the original film, but they don’t really seem to serve a purpose, other than nostalgia. For instance, Jessica Alba has a cameo at the beginning of the film, but she is quickly gunned down. Why couldn’t we get another shower scene with her first? I kid, I kid, but on a more serious note La Revolucion, headed by She’, returns. Other than being Machete’s go-to army, what good are they, really?

Overhyped. With all the new characters that were added to this film, with the exception of Mel Gibson, these characters were severely underused. Take for instance, Lady Gaga, who is just one disguise for this mysterious El Camaleon. Sofia Vergara had a coupe of bigger parts (no pun intended), but even she seemed like she could’ve/should’ve been a more of a major character. Vanessa Hudgens has maybe the best performance of her career, yet she gets killed within 5 minutes! Carlos Estevez, who is playing President Rathcock (he’s Charlie Seen, btw), has a decent amount of screentime relative to who he is, so that’s a plus.

Not quite. There are many things that have been improved upon since the first film, but there seems to be something that is missing. I can’t put my finger on it, but whatever it is makes all the difference between. Perhaps it is because the entire second half of the film seems to be just strung together with silly putty in an incoherent mess that just barely manages to pass off as competent. I wish they would have taken a little bit more time and cleaned it up. Instead we go from randomly seeing El Camelon encounter the rednecks from the first film to Mel Gibson launching rockets and his spaceship. It is a bit of a head scratcher, to say the least.

Machete Kills is probably going to go down like its predecessor, which made a little bit of money in theaters and then went on to become a bit of a cult hit on DVD. I didn’t feel the story was as strong with this film, but considering how it seems to be leading up to the following film, that may be a reason for that. I highly recommend this, though. Keep an eye out for the Star Wars references, they had me cracking up and Amber Heard is a nice piece of eye candy. Check it out, turn your brain off and enjoy!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars