All posts tagged Drama

Recent DVD Release: Mud

Published August 22, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring:  Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sam Shepard, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Joe Don Baker, Bonnie Sturdivant.

Rated: PG-13.  Drama.  Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes.


We’ve been on a roll of reviewing some really predictable and extremely mediocre movies of late.  If you’re a regular to MRSRAG, you know on occasion we get viewing suggestions from our friend Kevin (usually films off the beaten path), and he hasn’t let us down yet.  The Intouchables was his best referral; a sub-titled, must-see that we never would have caught if not for him.  So here we are again with Mud, and for the first time, we’re a little worried.  The problem: the last two McConaughey movies we’ve seen were dreadful.  Killer Joe and The Paperboy.  Unwatchable cinema at it’s very worst.  Trepidation unwarranted, Kevin was right as usual.  Mud is the story of two teenage river rats from Arkansas, Ellis (Sheridan) and Neckbone (Lofland).  They happen upon Mud (McConaughey ) on a deserted island while seeking a boat in a tree, deposited there during a flood.  Mud is living in it and the boys want it.  We don’t find out for a while that Mud is on the run from the law, but it’s easy to deduce.  He’s also waiting to meet up with his true love, Juniper (Witherspoon).  The boys befriend Mud, and soon a scavenger hunt for boat parts is on.  No formulaic predictability in this one, thank goodness!

Those two films Ross mentioned earlier were atrocious.  So you can understand our consternation with Kev’s newest suggestion.  McConaughey has been on some career path.  I recall a time when every movie the guy touched turned to gold; A Time to Kill, Amistad, Frailty, Reign of Fire, The Lincoln Lawyer, and a slew of memorable romantic comedies including The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Fool’s Gold and Failure to Launch.  Recently, he’s been hitting the independent film circuit, but his choices have been strange.  He’s also been favoring roles where he gets to play a perverse or exaggerated version of himself, most apparent in last Summer’s Magic Mike.  Mud has the usual makings of a McConaughey character: scarcity of shirt, down South townie roots and an innate resourcefulness.  However, this film had an incredible supporting cast that authenticated his portrayal.  The two young boys were spectacular, especially the lead, Ellis.  His performance was spellbinding and heart wrenching as he realizes the painful truth of the hardships surrounding life, family and love.  I also thoroughly enjoyed Sam Shepard’s character, Ellis’ neighbor & a retiree who spends most days on the river fishing.  Mud had the originality, the heart and the talent that a lot of films lack in this day and age.  And it is, by far, the best piece of work McConaughey has done in several years.

McConaughey, like Johnny Depp, seems incapable of playing any kind of “normal” role.  Nothing wrong with wanting to be unique, but after too much of the same thing, the quirky-ness becomes tiresome.  Honestly, I think they’ve both lost it.  Matthew is only comfortable playing southern drawling, sweaty, half-naked, dirty, smarmy weirdos of which Mud is no exception.  The difference here is, while he is the title character, as Maria has already alluded to, Mud absolutely belongs to the two boys.  Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland are wondrous as Ellis and Neckbone.  Two relative newcomers who I believe you’ll be seeing much more of in the future.  Ellis is kind, tough, a protector of women and a romantic.  He loves living on the river, and dreads the thought of moving into town, if his mother has her way.  Neckbone is not quite as quick to help or believe, but he is fiercely loyal, has a keen sense of self preservation and generally ends up onboard with whatever Ellis wants to do.  The boys learn some tough lessons along the way about truth and trust and love, but they always have each other in this ‘us against the world’ tale.  It made me think back to my teenaged days hanging with my buds, getting into some mischief and the great feeling of someone always having your back. 

Ross could identify with Ellis, while I found much in common with the skeptical Neckbone.  Ellis was eager to help, while Neckbone kept a practical and level headed approach to the dubious Mud.  Mud was suspenseful, touching and well executed.  Overall, I enjoyed the film.  It was well worth our usual Redbox stipend, which has not been the case recently.  I hope Ross’ prediction is right & we see more of these two young boys in the near future.  They seem to have a ton of potential and they basically stole the show.  Let’s hope McConaughey plots a new course from here on out, Mud is the right direction for him.  And we have to give one more note of thanks to our pal Kev again!  You, my friend, have exquisite taste.


Ross’ Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Gummy Bears.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Cloud Atlas

Published June 13, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Xun Zhou, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D’Arcy, Davis Gyasi, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant.

Rated: R. Adventure/Drama/Science Fiction. Running Time: 2 hours 52 minutes.

Let me begin by saying, I couldn’t wait to see this movie. We missed it in the theaters, and when it showed up in our Redbox yesterday, I was psyched. Maria wasn’t nearly as excited as I was, but she’s always a good sport, so it was dinner and Cloud Atlas. I knew we were in trouble very quickly. It’s nearly impossible to capsulize the plot, truly. Suffice it to say, Cloud Atlas makes Inception seem like a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. It jumps around from one time to another with reckless abandon. The actors all play numerous roles, in some they’re good, in some bad. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you know that series has a dozen story lines that they address in any given episode. GoT is a one man Broadway play compared to Cloud Atlas. And if the breakneck speed of changing ages and landscapes isn’t enough, in one of the settings they’re speaking some kind of bastardized language that’s reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks’ blatherings in Star Wars. Eventually, the movie somewhat ties up all the plotlines, but it’s WAY too late. If you want the “true-true”, stay far away from this nearly endless epic tale, far away and with extreme prejudice.

Fifteen minutes in and I was already feeling overwhelmed, overworked and unimpressed. My brain was hurting from trying to keep track of who, what, when, where and why. I admit when I first peeped previews of this film I was intrigued and excited. For one, it was pitched as a ‘Wachowski’ film (the people who brought us The Matrix). It also seemed to explore certain spiritual themes that I am somewhat familiar with. I’m not a very religious type, but I do believe in something and I’ve found some past lives writing quite interesting. My personal favorite was a suggestion of my good friend Kate Doyle, “Many Lives, Many Masters” written by Dr. Brian L. Weiss (READ THIS!). It’s a fantastic read and raises some important questions about the meaning and mysteries of life. Cloud Atlas courageously explores these same concepts, but fails to make a lasting impression. It has glimpses of greatness, but then drags the viewer into an exhausting montage of times and places. Just enough to drain all of the heart and magic out of this film. What really annoyed me about this movie was that it had the potential to be wonderful, but eventually couldn’t get out of its own way. They missed the mark and apparently missed the day of class when the instructor went over the KISS principle. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

When it comes down to it, I’m a pretty fair Sci-Fi nerd. I love everything Star Trek, The Matrix Trilogy, X-Files, Fringe. To a lesser extent, Star Wars, Transformers, Inception. And it remains one of my favorite genres. Maria mentioned the Wachowski influence, and that was promising to me because The Matrix was fantastic. Cloud Atlas is extremely clever and deeply thought provoking, which is generally a perfect formula for me. However, it is also long and convoluted and despite everything that’s going on; boring. Hey, I’m not MENSA material, but I’m no schlub either. I don’t think it’s conceited of me to say that I’m smarter than the average bear, but Cloud Atlas had my head swimming and my brain just drowned. As I pointed out, near the end the writers did endeavor to make a little sense of the previous two and a half hours of chaos, but by then I just didn’t care. The movie was filled with some of my all-time favorites, Hanks, Weaving, Broadbent, Grant, and they did their jobs as well as they usually do. Unfortunately, the maelstrom that is Cloud Atlas just swallowed them whole. If indeed I’m not intelligent enough to enjoy Cloud Atlas, then I say “ignorance is bliss!”

Obviously, we both did not enjoy this film. However, there were some positive aspects. The visual effects were awesome and the overall theme was meaningful. I also had a special affinity for the character of Mr. Meeks, an elderly nursing home resident who only speaks the words, “I know, I know”…for the majority of the film, until he needs to save himself and his friends from a certainly bleak future. Sadly, these few things were lost in the Uber mindfuck that is Cloud Atlas. I can’t imagine you’d consider wasting several hours on this flick after reading this glowing review, but if you dare – perhaps some research into the plot will benefit you. After conducting a mild investigation to fill in the details for our piece, I read a two sentence synopsis that shed more light on the story. I usually like to have a grasp of what’s going on in the beginning, middle or end of a movie. Yet, even now I have questions. The most pertinent one being, “Why did we watch this?”

Ross’ Rating: 1.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 1.5 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Jack Reacher

Published May 13, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelolo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Robert Duvall.

Rated: PG-13.  Action/Crime.  Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes.

How can Tom Cruise pull off the most bad ass dudes on screen and be such a fruit in real life?  The guy is a great actor.  Just take a glance at his extensive resume: Top Gun, Risky Business, Cocktail, The Color of Money, Mission Impossible, War of the Worlds, etc.  Nobody does cool, calm & collected, bordering cocky, bad ass like Tom.  Jack Reacher is a perfect example of Cruise’s signature role.  Ross and I recently embarked on one of our long road trips, which seem to breeze by with the help of audio books.  Additionally, we had just heard from one of our trusty film sources, Kevin, that Jack Reacher was worth a look.  I spotted a collection of three Reacher novels by author Lee Child and decided the plots sounded right up our alley.  Especially after our failed attempt at listening to the unbelievably horrendous 50 Shades of Grey.  Arguably some of the worst writing of the 21st century.  Anyhow, I thought it would be cool to get a feel for Reacher as a character prior to viewing the movie.  This was a good move.  Although Jack Reacher is based on the ninth book in the series, One Shot, the three novels we listened to really gave us a feel for the tone of the story and Reacher as a chracter.  I found the film clever, witty and deliciously entertaining.  But then again, as much as I want Tom to disappoint me, he rarely ever does (See ‘Eyes Wide Shut’).

Maria didn’t mention our favorite Cruise role, as Roy Miller in Knight and Day.  Probably because we’re two of the few who’ve seen it.  Trust me on this one, rent it or buy it or watch it on HBO.  Cruise and Cameron Diaz are awesome together, and the movie is funny, thrilling, ridiculous and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  “We should have sex.  I think we’d have really great sex.”  Okay, Jack Reacher.  I had never heard about the character and the series of books until the movie came out.  Maria bought us the first three books on CD and they were very entertaining.  The insight into what makes the guy tick vastly increased my viewing pleasure as well.  In this one Reacher, an ex-Army criminal investigator who now drifts from place to place, has come to Pittsburgh to take care of a sniper who killed five people.  The guy was caught quickly, open and shut case.  Not quite.  Even though he knows Reacher would be coming to kill him (they had a history), he specifically asks for him.  Jack teams up with Helen (Pike), the reluctant defense attorney and daughter of the D.A. (Jenkins), and the truth begins to unfold.  Can you say conspiracy?  Jack Reacher is an honest man, a brilliant investigator and of course, a great fighter.  He is also a vigilante, and he will kill your ass if you deserve it.  In the books he’s 6′ 5″, Cruise is 5′ 6″, but he somehow works in the part.  The guy really is pretty frigging good.  I remember Interview with a Vampire.  No way did I EVER picture him as Lestat, but sure enough, he killed that one too!  

Cruise is definitely surprising.  And although he may not exactly be my cup of tea, he’s good at his craft.  Ross & I do love Knight and Day.  His role as Roy is quite possibly the most lovable character I’ve seen him play.  Charming and still a serious bad ass.  Tom epitomizes the Hollywood guy that you want to hate in reality.  But for some reason, I still find him entertaining on screen.  Jack Reacher is a film you can feel safe about.  I wasn’t thinking what I often do, “Can I have my 2 hours back?”  I felt invested in the story and enjoyed having someone to root for.  A classic tale of right versus wrong always appeals to me.  And this one has sequel written all over it.  I’m game, but I think I can wait for the DVD.

Oh, I’m positive there will be sequels, plural.  There are 17 more Reacher books and counting.  I’m sure there are die hard fans of the series that would disagree with me, but Cruise is made for the role.  $220,000,000 gross box office worldwide isn’t Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Iron Man money, but I’m guessing it’s enough for at least a couple of more installments.   Robert Duvall showed up late as the character Cash, a kind of Morgan Freeman to Batman-type relationship with Reacher that I enjoyed, and I hope he’s back for the sequels.  Maria and I have two more road trips planned for this summer, and we’ll definitely try to find more Jack Reacher on CD.  It’s not award winning, life affirming or world changing literature; just good old fashioned, American fun.  And he maybe a glazed over, Scientologist nut job in real life, but old mister “Born on the 4th of July” sure knows how to entertain us.

Maria’s Rating:  3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating:  3.75 Gummies.


TV Talk: Banshee

Published March 19, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Antony Starr, Ivana Milicivec, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison, Hoon Lee, Matt Servitto, Demetrius Grosse, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Ryann Shane, Rus Blackwell, Anthony Ruivivar, Lili Simmons, Ben Cross.

Airs Friday at 10PM on Cinemax.  Action/Crime/Drama.

Banshee is a nonstop collision course of endless plot twists and unmitigated action.  There is never a dull moment.  No episode could be considered disappointing.  It’s the first series on Cinemax that we’ve seriously followed.  Banshee came across my radar when I first spotted an advertisement boasting the same producers of my beloved True Blood, including a nod from the renowned Alan Ball.  You can already imagine what the sex scenes must be like – mixing the likes of Skin-a-max and True Blood production.  We’ve recently embraced our titles as nitpickers and that is a true representation of us.  However, we allow quite a bit of artistic freedom with Banshee.  Although we are quick to point out the unusual amount of crime in this fictional town and the unlikely circumstances surrounding the core of the unconventional plotline.  Banshee embraces its ridiculous nature.  The show features some restless Amish, greedy gangsters, career criminals and simple townies.  A compilation of interesting characters whose lives are intertwined in this small Pennsylvania town.

More happens in Banshee, PA than in NYC!  The premise of the show is very cool.  An ex-con (Starr) fresh out of jail, goes in search of his girlfriend who helped him steal $10 million worth of diamonds, and is in hiding.  He finds out where she is from an old accomplice, Job (Lee), who is a gay, computer genius, quasi-ninja Asian dude.  Starr arrives in Banshee and goes to the local bar to have a drink and some food, and strikes up a conversation with the owner/bartender Sugar Bates (Faison).  In classic Banshee fashion the shit immediately hits the fan.  Two local thugs walk in looking for protection money from Sugar, and unfortunately for them, the other patron at the bar is the freshly hired Sheriff Lucas Hood.  A vicious fight ensues and Sugar and Starr are left alive.  They bury the dead, and through sheer luck, Hood’s cell phone rings and Starr is able to assume his identity.

The plot is refreshingly original and wickedly entertaining.  There are plenty of sub-plots featuring the supporting cast of characters, but not so many that it leaves your head spinning.  Banshee is an action fan’s dream come true and a gritty guilty pleasure.  I can’t wait to see what kind of twists and surprises they’ll have in store for viewers in 2014.

Season 1 just wrapped and like Maria said, we can’t wait to see what’s next.  We’ve pretty much put our nitpicking on hold for Banshee, as Maria said earlier.  Maybe it’s a bit unfair, but all the hard to believe things in The Following that have us on the verge of dumping that show, don’t seem to matter in Banshee.  The Sheriff has a knock down, drag out fight in public with an MMA champion and wins, and we don’t care.  He collars the local, formerly Amish, crime boss of the town Kai Proctor (Thomsen) for murder.  Gets T-boned by some other bad guys on the way to jail and ends up fighting free with Proctors help – then lets everybody go; and we cheer.  Banshee has regular Amish, gangster Amish, an Amish whore who bangs Lucas, Russian mobsters, an ex-champion boxer, clueless FBI agents, Native American casino owners, biker gangs, a police force not afraid to be vigilantes and so much more.  Every episode is a shotgun blast in your ear, a giant line of coke, and a dip into the ocean in January with the Polar Bear Club all rolled into one.  It’s not for everyone, but if you like non-stop, somewhat mindless action, with characters that you love and hate, Banshee is great fun.  See if you can find this first season and give it a shot, I’m guessing you’ll be back for more.


Recent DVD Release: End Of Watch

Published February 25, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo, David Harbour.

Rated: R.  Crime/Drama.  Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes.

It was refreshing to watch a buddy cop movie where the protagonists weren’t caricatures of policemen making bad jokes, or corrupt, or dealing with corruption.  End of Watch is the story of partners and friends, Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Pena), and they are most certainly serious peace officers.  They patrol the worst streets of L.A., and yes they are young and eager but also very competent.  And you truly get the feeling that these guys care about the job, each other, and want to make a difference for the better.  The film is shot from the viewpoint of a school project of Taylor’s, and he has a camera with him all the time, much to the chagrin of his sargeant and fellow officers.  The faux documentary style is unique, but some of the quick jerks and changing angles were a bit reminiscent of the fantastic, long-running TV series NYPD Blue.  We follow Taylor and Zavala as they answer calls to some extremely dangerous places and situations, and it makes you think that the real-life men and women doing these jobs are definitely not getting paid enough.

End of Watch was unique, adrenaline pumping and suspenseful.  This is not my favorite genre of movie and I wasn’t especially excited to see it, but it was surprisingly charming.  Gyllenhaal and Pena have an on screen chemistry that is not only believable, but also a pleasure to watch.  The banter between the longtime partners appears genuine and would lead any viewer to believe that the actors bonded in real life as well.  Anna Kendrick is not to be overlooked.  She does a spectacular job as Gyllenhaal’s love interest.  Her career has seriously blossomed over the past few years with notable performances in Up in the Air, 50/50 and Pitch Perfect.  I would never have guessed that she would be the most successful actor (at least regarding roles) to come out of the Twilight series.  End of Watch has a gritty style of filming that makes it sometimes difficult to watch, especially during some of the chase scenes and action sequences.  I understand the desired effect the director was trying for and I commend him for taking a risk.  However, the filming style was vastly overshadowed by the fantastic acting.

The film was superbly acted, no doubt.  The group of actors that portray the street gang are chillingly menacing.  As the story continues, Taylor and Zavala in the performance of their duties tumble into some truly serious criminal activity that is way over their heads.  It is here and into the climactic scene where the movie loses me just a bit.  I was reading this article the other day in Entertainment Weekly that was about how we’ve become a nation of nitpickers when it comes to movies and TV shows.  Man, am I guilty as charged there.  Maria and I are forever breaking down what’s wrong with Homeland or The Following or Dexter or Boardwalk Empire.  I just get so pissed off when common sense is ignored or when the outskirts of what could happen in real-life are stretched to their limits and beyond.  I know I should just enjoy the ride, but I can’t.  And there is a moment near the end of End of Watch that I found myself screaming at the screen.  I’m not going to spoil anything because we don’t do that, but I know Maria was in the same place I was.  It certainly didn’t ruin the movie for me, but it definitely dropped it down a notch or two.

I’m a fellow nitpicker and proud of it.  Judging entertainment is one of my favorite outlets.  That is what defines us as Americans and as people.  It’s what makes some stuff amazing and other crap mediocre.  Well, let me step off my soap box for a minute and finish up my assessment of Watch.  I enjoyed this movie, mainly because it had tons of action keeping me on the edge of my seat and it was something new.  It’s exciting to see somebody try something a little bit different, even if it doesn’t fully translate.  My praises slightly waned at the ending, but not enough to allow me to discount the entire film.  Perhaps we have become exceptionally critical, but I think we’ve contributed to making entertainment better.  The recent offerings on television and movies reflect the high standards we’ve adopted.  The important thing is that we each have the freedom to go see what movie we want, follow whichever shows appeal to us and read any book that piques our interest.  I may strongly disagree with the millions of readers who liked 50 Shades of Grey, but I sure as shit support your right to enjoy it.  So watch what you want, enjoy what you like and feel free to bash anything as you see fit.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3.5 Gummies.



Movie Review: Seven Psychopaths

Published October 22, 2012 by mrsrag

Starring:  Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson.

Rated R.  Comedy/Crime/Drama.  Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes.

I’ve tried to pick my favorite psychopath, but it proves quite a task with casting like this.  Just take a peek at the rundown of actors involved in this film listed above.  Walken is always a selling point for me, personally.  Add to that Tom Waits, two beautiful women that you’ll no doubt recognize on screen – if not by their names (Abbie Cornish & Olga Kurylenko) and a special guest appearance by two of my favorite Boardwalk Empire characters, Michael Pitt (the late Jimmy Darmody) and Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein).  Not that casting is a definitive slam dunk in any film, but it helps generate a certain feel for the production at hand.  The vibe you should probably gather from this present selection of characters is a violent one…lots of blood and guts.  Not gore necessarily, but spatter.  Seven Psychopaths had a similar feel to the 2008 critically acclaimed “In Bruges” – and with good reason.  The very same man, Martin McDonagh, wrote and directed both films.  He most certainly has a style, as I had the inkling before we conducted further research.  I would describe McDonagh’s style as intensely dark and brutally humorous.  Nonetheless, even if you don’t like the style of Seven Psychopaths, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be bored.  The confluence of characters in this film is a trainwreck and you won’t be able to avert your eyes, even if you hope to.

Maria and I have had a run of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” lately.  First, the same night we watched the movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, we caught Louis C.K.’s stand-up act where he talks of his ‘man crush’ on Ewan McGregor.  Now just days after watching the quirky, but entertaining, In Bruges, we went and saw Seven Psychopaths.  Written and directed by the same man McDonagh, as noted by Maria above.  She was indeed all over the similarities between the two movie’s styles, as she pointed it out to me minutes in.  McDonagh loves to put serial killers, murderers and other odd characters in unexpected settings.  And though he certainly doesn’t mind shedding some blood – dialogue and character development are his real strengths.  In Seven Psychopaths, he tells us the story of alcoholic writer Marty (Farrell, who he cast in In Bruges as well), who has a name for a movie and little else.  His good friend, the oddball, struggling actor Billy (played by the always fantastic Rockwell: Green Mile, Cowboys and Aliens et al), has some wonderful suggestions for Marty’s movie and would love to be involved in the writing of the screenplay.  In the meantime Billy and his friend Hans (the legend, Walken) steal people’s dogs to make ends meet, waiting until they put up a reward, then cashing in on the return.  Unfortunately for them, they steal the dog of true criminal psychopath, Charlie (Harrelson), who loves his dog more than any human being.  As you may guess, it’s at this point that the Shih Tzu really hits the fan.

Fantastic pun sweetheart.  One of my favorite things about this plot is that it kind of follows the evolution of Marty’s screenplay.  McDonagh cleverly intertwines the development of the screenplay with the unfolding story that his viewers watch on screen.  We don’t want to give anything away, as there are some interesting twists and turns.  However, suffice it to say that this plot line is engaging, groundbreaking and drastically original.  Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges are similar in style, but the themes and colorful storylines are brilliantly diverse.  The longer removed from viewing the movie, the more impressed I was with its composition.  It certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to give credit where credit’s due.  Seven Psychopaths is refreshing and a pleasure to watch.  Especially in the present movie business where recycling and reinventing old ideas is the new trend.

I agree with you on several points.  Martin McDonagh’s writing is a breath of fresh air of originality, in a predominantly unoriginal time for movies.  Also, we have to be careful what we divulge about the plot, it would be easy to say too much.  And, the more I think about Seven Psychopaths, the more I like it.  I would add that I think it’s the kind of movie that should be seen again, perhaps when it comes out on DVD.  The things you know the second time around will give you clarity from the opening scenes through the end.  Not exact comparisons for sure, but The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense could be examples of the point I’m trying to make.   Time will tell if Seven Psychopaths can be mentioned in the same breath as those two classics.  But the exquisite acting by the four lead actors, coupled with superb writing, give it the feel to me of a movie that will get even better with age.  

Calling all psychopaths…

Ross’ Rating: 4 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.





Recent DVD Release: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Published October 15, 2012 by mrsrag

Starring:  Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristen Scott Thomas.

Rated PG-13.  Comedy/Drama/Romance.  Running Time: 1 hour 47 minutes.

The second review we ever wrote was of the Savannah Nail Bar.  I had dropped Maria off to get her nails done and went on a couple of errands, one of which was to check the starting time of a movie we potentially wanted to go see, truth be told Maria wanted to see it more than me.  As you might have guessed, that movie was indeed Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.  In that review I wrote, “The time was a no go.  No offense baby but I wasn’t too disappointed.  The word Yemen in the title didn’t scream movie magic to me.”  Almost immediately after writing that, my friend Kevin called me and said “You know that statement is somewhat racist, beside the fact that the movie is pretty good.”  I informed him I was just attempting to be humorous and vowed someday to see the movie.  Well, we took advantage of Redbox’s 10th anniversary and rented it the other night for free.  Kevin was right, not necessarily about the racist comment imo, but the movie was very good.  You can’t get much more original than the premise.  Yemeni Sheikh Muhammed (Waked) an avid fisherman, wants to build a river in the desert and stock it with salmon from England.  Enter his associate Harriet (Blunt) who attempts to enlist the services of a fisheries expert, the incredibly boring Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor).  He, of course, initially finds the whole project insane, but eventually is forced into service by government pressure.  I know it doesn’t sound too exciting, but the movie is superbly acted at every turn, and the chemistry between McGregor and Blunt is felt from their first scene.

The movie appealed to me for several reasons.  For starters, I had heard from several people that it was worth a watch.  Secondly, Emily Blunt is the cutest ever.  I loved her in “The Devil Wears Prada”, she’s equally adorable in “The Adjustment Bureau” and she proves herself again as a great female lead in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.  McGregor does a fantastic job opposite her, portraying the serious doctor who can’t help sharing his often sarcastic and comical thoughts on the absurdity of the project he’s been forced to oversee.  His socially awkward delivery paired with an underlying cynicism colors his character perfectly.  As a whole, the movie was relevant, smart and extremely original.  A delight from start to finish, Yemen made me feel good and inspired after watching.

Emily Blunt is cute and she is definitely working her way up the pecking order toward “A” list actress.  I personally love Ewan McGregor as well, and can’t think of a movie he’s been in that I haven’t enjoyed.  What an evolution of characters he’s had!  From one of his first efforts (if not his very first) a heroin junkie in Trainspotting, to a naive writer (with some seriously decent singing chops) in the musical Moulin Rouge.  A young Obi Wan in the Star Wars prequels, an untested but gallant medic in Black Hawk Down.  Even his Dr. Jones in Salmon Fishing, who I just described as “incredibly boring” has more layers than a parfait (a shout out to Donkey from Shrek).

McGregor is impressive in a lot of different roles, I thoroughly enjoyed him in Big Fish as the sweet talking, charming Mr. Edward Bloom.  Apparently we’re not the only big fans of Ewan.  Ironically, only hours after watching Salmon Fishing, we stumbled upon Louis C.K.’s ‘Shameless’.  I love a stand up comic by the way and Louis is hilarious.  He has a knack for perversion (which we love) and a killer delivery.  He starts this bit about meeting McGregor at some event and thinking to himself, “Wow, this guy is gorgeous.”  He went on to say he found himself later daydreaming about McGregor’s beautiful face…and other parts of his body.  And there’s another item for you to rent or add to your queue – his stand up is brilliant.  But I digress.  Salmon Fishing is a gem that you should not miss.  It touches on numerous subjects, examining love and marriage, but also religion and faith.  It doesn’t just spew out the usual formulaic romantic comedy dribble, it has real depth and range.

I totally forgot about Big Fish!  Another McGregor movie and role I love.  As Maria told you we happened upon Louis C.K. later that night, and we were rolling.  Then he does the bit about Ewan and we both knew that had to go in this review, just too coincidental.  Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is unique, entertaining, full of heart and recommended for your viewing pleasure.  As is Louis C.K., I might add.  If you want to catch some of his act now, I’ll give you two words to Google that will bring it right up for you: “duck vaginas.”  Enjoy.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummy Bears out of 5.  Also…5 Gummies for Louis C.K.’s “Shameless”.

Ross’ Rating: 3.75 Gummy Bears.  A big ditto 5 for LCK too.




Movie Review: Looper

Published October 6, 2012 by mrsrag

Starring:  Joseph Gordon -Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segun, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Qing Xu.

Rated R.  Action/Science Fiction.  Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes.

Joseph.  Gordon.  Levitt.  Seriously!  I don’t know if you’ve seen any previews, but honestly I did not recognize him.  I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I am usually right on with putting names to faces in the film industry.  Of course, there’s always that one pesky actor that shows up after major plastic surgery or being on hiatus for several years, but Gordon-Levitt’s face is one that I easily recognize.  I’ve seen it countless times in the past few years in Inception and the lesser known 500 Days of Summer.  But he looks so different in this role.  Ross and I were both speechless at his epic Bruce Willis impersonation.  He must have studied Willis’ work incessantly.  He had his mannerisms, facial features, his coy looks and wry smile down to a science.  In the first twenty minutes Ross turned to me and said, “This kid should win the freaking Oscar for this performance!”

Honestly, Maria wanted to go see this movie much more than I did.  The little I knew about Looper from the trailers, Bruce Willis time traveling and running into another version of himself; made me think, Twelve Monkeys.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Twelve Monkeys, this movie just felt like it might be “been there, done that.”  No way.  Maria told you about JGL’s performance, it was sick!  We’re sitting there trying to figure out what he’s done to himself to look so different.  Is he just getting older and changing?   Is he working out?  Then it hits me, he has Bruce Willis’ exact nose.  I don’t know if it was prosthetic or CG, but beyond the nose, the kid is supposed to be a younger version of Bruce Willis.  He turned into Bruce Willis!  It really is unbelievable.  I was a huge “3rd Rock from the Sun” fan, but I never thought Gordon-Levitt would go anywhere.  Wrong again.  I’m batting a thousand here so far.  Anyway, the movie.  JGL is a looper.  Time travel is invented in the future, but only gangsters have control of it.  When they want someone dead they transport them back in time 30 years where loopers exterminate them upon arrival.  When the gangsters want to “close the loop”, they send the looper’s older self back for him to kill himself.  (Are you keeping up? I know some others that weren’t.  We’ll get to that in a bit.)  The body is strapped with gold and the looper has his severance pay and thirty years to enjoy it.  I don’t think I’m spoiling too much here telling you that Bruce gets away from Joseph and the game is most certainly on.

Needless to say, it was a total mind fuck.  One of those you take with you from the theatre and end up discussing hours later in bed or at a bar.  This innovative science fiction film had my head spinning for hours, which I enjoy occasionally.  I like a film that makes my mind work a little harder.  Looper is the best grown up film I’ve seen in the theatre for years.  The plot was original, engaging and brave.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole film, and although the ending didn’t sit well at first – it has slowly grown on me.  Of course, you’ll have to go see the film for yourself to see what happens.  Hopefully, if you go to view it, the people in the theatre will have some common courtesy and not babble throughout the first hour.  These two old broads a few rows back from us would not shut up.  I realize the plot was a little difficult to understand, but these women were so rude.  I almost applauded when they finally got up and left in the middle of the movie.

I’m guessing they thought Looper was the latest Woody Allen movie, or a Meryl Streep vehicle.  They were totally bewildered, their “months away from the nursing home” brains jangling wildly in their skulls.  They were screaming at each other like 8 year olds.  “But Mildred this movie got such good reviews.”  “I don’t know what the hell is going on.”  Yelling, I’m sure because neither of them could hear a fucking thing.  I was seconds from screaming myself, “would you just shut the fuck up!”, when mercifully they left.  Fortunately they were the only bad part of our Looper experience.  Beyond the aforementioned brilliant performance of JGL and Bruce Willis’ usual professional turn, my favorite character in the movie was the little boy Cid played by Pierce Gagnon.   I don’t know how old he is in real life, his bio says he can play 5-8 year olds, but this kid is pure genius.  I don’t know where they’re finding these kids these days.  A couple of months ago we saw and reviewed The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and that boy CJ Adams was also very impressive.  Pierce Gagnon steals every scene he’s in, and I’m curious to see if we see more of him in the future.  If you like Sci-Fi, by all means go see Looper, but bring your thinking cap with you.  If you’re old and can’t hear, I think they’re having a Mel Torme tribute at the Kravis Center next month.  Wait for that.

I’m laughing to myself right now because Ross went on a similar rant as soon as we left the theatre, but he was right – these women were dreadful.  I understand that it was a hard plot to grasp, but at least give everyone else a chance to view it in peace.  Watching Bruce Willis sit across from a guy doing a perfect impersonation of him was worth the price of admission.  Looper is the type of movie made for theatre viewing, I just hope that if you do go to see it everyone’s quiet and courteous.

Ross’ Rating: 4 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Gummies.