Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Review, A Visually Striking Misstep

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

Starring: Mickey RourkeJessica AlbaJosh BrolinJoseph Gordon-LevittRosario DawsonBruce WillisEva Green, and Powers Boothe

Lightning doesn’t always strike twice and neither do movie sequels. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is trying to something it’s not, a worthy sequel to a very well crafted original. It is so desperately trying to mimic the visual style and ingenuity that Sin City was so easily able to capture. For it’s time Sin City was a cultural and filmmaking success. It revolutionized the was you were able to make movies and inspired so many movies to use the same style. The biggest problem this movie faces is the fact that it is at least 7 years too late. In my eyes this really hurt the film and it’s need to remind us how stylistic and relevant we still are.

The movie begins with a short segment dedicated to Marv (Mickey Rourke), don’t worry he pops back up in each segment as the Sin City’s equivalent of Gandalf the Grey in the Hobbit. Marv is the brute of the movie and the “main” character. He helps out the other character out with their predicament and then he is off on his own once he is done. The characters mostly “use” him for their own benefits but without him the story just wouldn’t work. Sadly his segment is the most forgettable. Like “The Customer is Always Right” in the first one, “Just Another Saturday Night” leads us into the movie and shows us what we are getting into.

Just Another Saturday Night” begins with Marv forgetting how he got the scene of a crime. Cars are piled up and two dead bodies are shown by the wreckage, the cause of death isn’t so much the accident as it is Marv and his brutal sense of vengeance. He starts taking his medicine so that he can make sense of the situation. He beings remembering and what he remembers will set him on a course to Oldtown to finish off what he started.

The Long Bad Night“, after the opening credit scene we are introduced to Johnny (Joseph Gorden Levitt), a new character to this universe. He is a cocky gambler setting his eyes on Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) and his high stake poker game. After beating and winning all of Roark’s money, Johnny takes the waitress Marcy (Julia Garner) out on the town and blows throw his winnings. Meanwhile Senator Roark decides to teach Johnny a lesson about power and he hunts him down. After being beaten and bruised Johnny devises a plan to show Roark who’s the real “winner” and prove that he is the better player.

A Dame to Kill For” is the main focus of the movie and uses the time allotted wisely. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is a man with a dark past, which isn’t really explored that much. He is a private eye working on a case with an adulterating husband and his wife. After finishing the job he receives a phone call from Ava (Eva Green), a former lover and damsel in distress, about meeting up with him at the local bar. She begins to spew the truth about her husband and her love for Dwight. Dwight begins to investigate the suspicious Ava and the life that she is currently living. This lead him down a path that he never expected and will learn more about the mysterious Ava than he ever expected.

Nancy’s Last Dance” is the final and the most uninteresting storyline. After the death of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), Nancy (Jessica Alba) has lost control of her life. She is constantly drinking on the job, wallowing in self pity, and hell bent on revenge. Every night she is practicing at the gun range, prepping to kill Senator Roark. Her self loathing continues every night she is on stage. One night she cuts up her face in an attempt to use Marv for her own benefits. The two end up attacking the Senators house in an attempt to get revenge on him for the death of Hartigan.

The movie suffers from over confidence. It’s trying to be something that it’s not. It wants to be a noir thriller and do it a different way than before. Sadly it is far behind the movie that actually achieved that, Sin City. The original felt fresh and something that we’ve never seen before but now it just feels as if they are trying to survive off the good will from the first one. Sequels are meant to build off the universe that the first one created but this feels as if it is just trying to copy what the first did without actually building on it. The movie feels vapid and the actors seem uninterested. The beautifully rendered environments can’t save itself from an emotionless execution.

Mickey Rourke essentially carbon copied his performance from the first one. His segment is narrated in the same way that  ” The Hard Goodbye“. It had the same exact lines and reason behind the lines. The amount of times he says “I have a condition” in this series is insane. This might be my personal opinion but I know he has a condition because they told me in the first one and it fell redundant to have him repeat himself. Maybe it is for the new audience but even so he isn’t given anything in his own segment that it really doesn’t matter. The same goes for Jessica Alba. She was energetic in the first and in this movie she seems as if she if just collecting the paycheck and half assing a performance. As she is on stage her looks is so vacant that it feels like she is a robot. Her role in this movie really doesn’t matter either. Her story is the most disposable and could have been removed entirely and the film would be a much tighter and worthwhile effort.

However Eva Green killed it as the villainous Ava. She brings a vibe that is both electric and cunning. She was perfect cast as Ava and deserves any praise she gets. With 300: Rise of an Empire and now Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, it is clear that Eva Green could have a good career as strong female character that is both villainous but sympathetic.

The stories are some what dull. I liked “A Dame to Kill For” but it felt too long and could have been cut down. A lot of it had unnecessary moments that really take away from the film. Like I stated before both Marv’s and Nancy’s stories are useless and really didn’t add much to the film. On the other hand I felt “A Long Bad Night” was the best story overall. Each of the stories have a great deal of violence dealt onto expendable characters and are also ridiculous to the extreme but Johnny’s story is completely different. It deals with the character and his luck with gambling. It is a story that had a more toned down and felt like it was the closest to being an actual noir film. The ending is much more depressing than the other ones but it is also the most sincere.

Now the big thing this movie does is use it’s style. It’s overly stylistic and it is completely ridiculous. It is what made the movie so popular when it was released and it works just as well in this film. The use of color mixed with black and white makes for a completely interesting viewing experience. The visual style makes it all it’s own. The environments are like nothing I’ve seen before. Where this movie lacks in story it makes up for it in it’s visual brilliance.

Though it fails with it’s stories and acting, it excels in it’s visual style and some rather interesting moments that it’s a worth while theater experience.

Grade: C+

 

 

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Wes Anderson, A Whimsical and Unique Auteur

Wes-Anderson At first I wasn’t a fan of Wes Anderson’s filmography. I was young and I never understood the characters or the humor. Now that I have grown up, and I’ve evolved past the stage of like terrible movies. Anderson has cemented himself as a true auteur. In the beginning, with films such as Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, his films were muted and didn’t really contain all the tropes that a typical Wes Anderson film contains. The Royal Tennebaums is the film that I consider to be the beginning of the Wes Anderson that we know and love today.

Bottle Rocket/Rushmore Era

Independent comedies become a staple for the up and coming directors. With Bottle Rocket it gained the attention of critics but not so much with film goers. It was basically dead on arrive. It began  as a short film that gained a lot of traction at Sundance and it had everyone raving. He collaborated with his friend and writing partner Owen Wilson to pen a feature-length version of their popular short film. It contained his trademark sense of humor and had a unique story but it never really succeeds outside of the final act. To me it is his most problematic films. In the end Bottle Rocket can be considered a failure but it never stopped Anderson from moving along with his career.

Rushmore is really were his career took off. It is when his movies starting to become a kind of heightened reality. Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson used Roald Dahl’s kids book as inspiration for their tale of child angst within a prep school. Bill Murray ended up reading the script and liked it so much that he agreed to work on scale, which was estimated to around $9,000. The movie was able to capture what it is like to be a kid in a challenging environment. It is a smaller scale compared to his later films but his style started to pick up from here. The tracking shots that he is known for began here with a scene that involves the groundbreaking of an aquarium. The camera movement follows Max as he shows off his ideas for a new aquarium. It is the beginning of one Anderson’s most well-known trademark. Rushmore failed at the box office but managed to surprise critics and film goers alike.

The Royal Tennebaums through Darjeeling Limited

The Royal Tennebaums is when style becomes overloaded. Almost every frame in Tennebaums is symmetrical and well produced. This movie deals with a former famous family deals with their father, who is trying to enter back into their lives, and their fading popularity. To me this is the most cynical work that Wes Anderson has produced. Everyone is so hateful and every character has a problem with someone. Even though the movie is hateful the design and mise en scène of each scene is so well crafted and colorful that it kinda contradicts the storyline. This is also the movie in which is love for symmetry becomes apparent. All the time the characters are centered in the frame. So far this is considered his most popular film, gaining him an Academy Award Nomination and box office success.

Following The Royal Tennebaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited. Both were considered failures compared to his other films. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou follows similar tropes and had the same flare that is associated with his films but critics didn’t seem to like what they say. It failed at the box office and is currently Wes Anderson’s worst reviewed film. The Darjeeling Limited didn’t do any better. It is his most experimental film to date. He took his unique filming technique to India and used it to represent the style and life in a foreign country. Dealing with a similar storyline to The Royal Tennebaums, it still didn’t impress critics or audiences.

Fantastic Mr. Fox and Beyond

Fantastic Mr. Fox is the first animated film by Wes Anderson. It is a tale about a Fox that has to navigate life while a group of outraged farmers hunt him down. Given that Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson planned to do Rushmore as heightened reality based of a Roald Dahl book it’s quite ironic that Anderson eventually adapted one of his books. Given the failures of both The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou, a lot road on the success of Fantastic Mr. Fox. It ended up paying off. He used he trademark style and create an interesting take on animated films. It appears that Wes Anderson’s style is perfectly suited for animated feature films. Critics loved it and so did the audience and it eventually getting nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2009 Academy Awards but lost to Up.

He followed up Fantastic Mr. Fox with his most critically acclaimed movie to date, Moonrise Kingdom. It brought him back to the time where he brought to life stores of children and there views on a world in which they are too young to know. His visual style is used to accomplish a child like tale of wonder and fascination. It debuted in the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and went on to get him his third Oscar nomination and box office success.

His most recent release is now his biggest box office success and critically acclaimed movie. The Grand Budapest Hotel is his most stylized film. The production of each set is simply incredible and uses his love of hand drawn set pieces and miniatures as the set design. Ralph Fiennes simply chews the scenery as Gustave H. and is by far the most interesting character in his filmography. It spans multiple decades and is most interesting when he switches through time periods. To represents it he switches up aspect ratios for the respective decade. Wes Anderson achieves the best result with this movie and shows that no matter the story if directed by Wes Anderson you sure to have an interesting movie on your hands.

Though Wes Anderson has some movies that aren’t well received he has become a household name and a true to life auteur.

Looper, an elegant take on time travel

Looper

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels

I will have to admit there might have been a chance that this movie could have been really bad, the whole time travel plot points could have gotten to confusing and really have brought the whole movie down. Instead the movie turned out to be way better than expected and instead of diving to deep into the time travel aspects, they just kinda say that explaining it would take to long. I had a lot going on this film and had it placed on my most anticipated films of the year. Being the third film by Rian Johnson it has to be his best, though Brick really is a pretty good neo-noir film, the film presents a nice atmosphere in both Joe’s social life and the job that he lives with. Once Bruce Willis shows up it all turns south and the really story took shape and what Emily Blunts role finally becomes more clear. The similarities between Brick and Looper is the editing, many of the close-up and other establishing shots resemble his first film. The action may not be the most extrodinary but it does make for a more fun film and really is much cleaner and more focused than any Transformers or recent action films.

A hired gun from the future discovers that his greatest adversary is himself in this twisting sci-fi mindbender starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom). In the year 2047 time travel has yet to be invented. Thirty years later, however, it has. Though immediately outlawed, time-travel technology is quickly appropriated by the mob, and used to cleanly dispose of anyone deemed a threat. The process is simple: When the mob wants someone to disappear, they simply send them back to the year 2047, where an assassin known as a “looper” quickly carries out the hit, and disposes of the body. Joe Simmons (Gordon-Levitt) is one of the most respected loopers around. Each kill earns him a big payday, and he’s got big plans to retire to France. Then, one day, as Joe patiently awaits the appearance of his next target near the edge of a remote corn field, he’s shocked to come face-to-face with his future self (Bruce Willis). When the younger Joe hesitates, the older Joe makes a daring escape. Now, in order to avoid the wrath of his underworld boss (Jeff Daniels), young Joe must “close the loop” and kill his older counterpart. Meanwhile, the revelation that a powerful crime boss in the future has set the underworld ablaze pits the two Joes on a violent collision course, with the fate of a devoted mother (Emily Blunt) and her young son hanging in the balance.

The most stand out point in the film is performances by both Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. They may not look a like, before make-up but afterwards it does resemble Bruce Willis more than before, but really makes them close together is their mannerisms. Joseph Gordon-Levitt managed to pull off all of Willis’s mannerisms perfectly and it made the movie more real and the performances more in tune. What I took away from the movie is that you can’t change the past and that you must live for the future and the ending really shows this off in a brilliant way, I can’t explain it but I totally didn’t see it coming which is always a good thing since it catches you off guard. With Emily Blunts role it shows a more human side to Joe and really gives him more dimensions than he had before.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a good time, I wouldn’t try to look to far into the plot holes. It is a tense and gritty thriller and manages to bring new light to the sci-fi genre.

10 out of 10

The Expendables 2, a meaner and more exciting movie than the original

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The Expendables 2

Directed by: Simon West

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Liam Hemsworth, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, Yu Nan, Charisma Carpenter

When it comes to the original I was not the biggest fan, I am also not a fan of when Stallone directs he can be a hit or miss director. The original brought a fun concept to the movie but never really really embraced the ridiculous plot and just had a some great action and hit or miss acting, Dolph Lundgren didn’t hit the mark with his character and was nothing more than a muscle bond drug addict who betrays his team. The new one makes up on loss ground and presents itself as a self aware film that pokes fun at the action heroes that the cast portrayed early in their career and Dolph Lundgren plays his part well this time and at times makes references to his genius level intellect. This time around the actors seemed like they were enjoying themselves much more than in the previous one and had more one-liners that plagued 80’s action movies. The only problem that I noticed was the fact that Arnold was really rusty when it came to his acting, it is probably the few years that he took off of acting to be the governor of California, he has always been an actor that always seemed to be stiff when it came to acting and his scenes show proof of that.

Barney Ross, Lee Christmas, Yin Yang, Gunnar Jensen,Toll Road and Hale Caesar — with newest members Billy the Kid and Maggie aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time – six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world.

The opening ten minutes alone make up for the mistakes made in the first one, the action was intense and was well played. It was great to see all the action stars working together to free their target and get out of it alive. The action throughout the movie is also an upgrade, it doesn’t feel choppily edited or rushed. I like that they are continuing bringing in action stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, both who seem to be enjoying their roles especially Van Damme who plays a pretty good villain by the name Jean Vilain (haha), and even Chuck Norris pulls a Chuck Norris joke which was amusing in itself. The best part of course was when Stallone, Arnold, and Willis all join together to take on a bunch of enemies, something that was teased in the first but comes to together in this film and I couldn’t  be happier with the end results.

I really like the idea and concept of this franchise but the first one is a bit disappointing but what the first one lacked the new one makes up for it. If their is any movie to see this August or to finish off summer this movie is it. It is the last great action movie of the summer and definitely lives up to the hype.

8 out of 10

Looper Theatrical Trailer

What can I say about this trailer other than, Holy Shit. It looks to be at least one of the most unique films of the year with a plot that can really grab anyone’s attention. I think what this has going of it is the concept of the film. In a futuristic gangland, a killer (Gordon-Levitt) works for a mob in the year 2042 and kills people who are sent from the year 2072. He recognizes one victim (Willis) as himself and hesitates, resulting in the escape of his older self. Most recently Hollywood has been suffering from lack of originality, so far two movie trailer I’ve posted (Ted and now Looper) are completely original ideas that are relatively clever for this years slates of releases, which include countless remakes and sequels that not everyone wants to see. I am right now adding this movie to #6 on my most anticipated movies of this year, I will post one later this week if I can get to it.

UPDATED

My thought on this movie have yet to change since I first saw the original trailer. The only problem is all the unanswerable question that the movie is going to pose when all said is done, such as paradoxes and the fact that what happens to Joseph Gordon-Levitt if he does end up killing his future self. I am still fully invested in this film and would like to see how it ends up turning out when it is released in theaters.

In a futuristic gangland, a 25 year-old killer named Joseph Simmons (Gordon-Levitt) works for a Mafia company in Kansas City in the year 2042 as a “Looper”, where he kills and disposes of people who are sent by their employers known as “Gat Men” from their corporate headquarters in Shanghai from the year 2072. Loopers, like himself, are used as foot soldiers and are well paid on the terms that all hostages must never escape, including Loopers themselves. Gat Men are New York Accent-sounding men who are hired by a Southern Accented Godfather, who is portrayed by Jeff Daniels, who are being used as sentries, and each Gat Man has been given complete authority and responsibility in controlling their own group of Loopers. When one target arrives however he recognizes the 55 year-old victim (Willis) as himself and hesitates, allowing his older self to escape. The resulting failure of his job causes the Gat Men to come after him, forcing him to fight for his life as he hunts his older self

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UPDATED

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