Movie Review: Inside Man (2006)

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The amount of ways bank robberies can be executed are astonishing. You can do it all methodical and plan for months every inch of the plan or you could just go in guns blazing. Any way is possible and that is why it is so fascinating with heist movies for me since you never know which way they will go with. So now, let’s look at a movie about a bank robbery.

Men and women… “Inside Man”.

In this movie we see how a group of bank robbers led by a man named Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) enter a bank to rob it (duh), but it soon also turns into a hostage situation. So now it is up to police detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington try to get the hostages out and save the day together with broker Madeleine White (Jodie Foster). And from that we get a surprisingly layered story filled with suspense and some pretty great twists. Yeah… I was surprised by the amount of depth to be found in the plot of this heist movie. It always keeps you guessing how it’s gonna go, and when you think you got it, the movie pulls the rug from under you and goes “Surprise, motherfucker!”.

The characters in this movie are all thoroughly entertaining to observe as they deal with the different situations throughout the movie. Denzel Washington is at his Denzel-iest in this movie… that’s a new adjective, Denzel-y (Denzel-ier, Denzel-iest). He is just so likeable in his role as this police detective turned hostage negotiator. He is also very believable in his role. Clive Owen plays the leader of the bank robbers and he is excellent in this movie. He plays the character in a manner which makes us believe that he is actually this intelligent and methodical criminal. Jodie Foster is also great in her role as a somewhat slimy yet charming high-power broker. Also, I think that she only gets more attractive with age… I don’t know, call me a perv if you wish. Willem Dafoe is also in this movie as a police captain and he was great. Christopher Plummer was also great as the elderly owner of the bank. And Chiwetel Ejiofor as Denzel’s partner was also great.

The score for the movie was done by Terence Blanchard who apparently is a frequent collaborator with director Spike Lee. And while I can’t recall any other original score he’s ever done, I can for sure say that he did a terrific job with the score for this movie. He uses a lot of trumpets and such to create different styles for different scenarios. And if you listen to the music in general you can hear that he takes some inspiration from other great composers. In the action bits he emulates his inner Hans Zimmer and in the more emotional songs he gets out his inner Ennio Morricone. Now, I wouldn’t say that this score is better than anything I have heard from those two, but I will say that if you like those two composers I think you’ll enjoy the score for “Inside Man”.

Like I said before, this is a Spike Lee joint. And he shows that he is a terrific director in this movie. The shots look great and he manages to he manages to perfectly capture the closed and locked-in feeling of being stuck in a bank with a bunch of bank robbers who might kill you at any second. And by that I mean when you get to see from inside the bank from the perspective of the hostages. But he also manages to catch the feeling of distress that everyone on the outside (except Denzel, somehow) feels over if they will managed to save these hostages or not. Now I haven’t really seen anything from Spike Lee except for “25th Hour” which is one of my favorite movies of all time, but now that I have seen both that and “Inside Man” I will probably check more of his joints out because he’s a great director. Also, here is something that I noticed which was pretty entertaining: in this movie we see both Clive Owen and Chiwetel Ejiofor as characters important in some way to the plot, in a movie that came out in 2006. Both actors also had important roles in “Children of Men” which also came out in 2006. Small world.

This movie has been pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Inside Man” is an entertaining heist-thriller that is actually really clever and smart and is held up by a suspenseful and twist-filled plot, excellent performances, great music, excellent direction and a great tone. Time for my final score. GET DOWN ON THE FUCKING GROUND! GIVE ME THE ENVELOPE! GIVE IT TO ME! My final score for “Inside Man” is a 9,81/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“Inside Man” is reviewed.

Vladimir, I am Inside Man, what I do?
Boris you dumb borshch, I told you to be Inside Man at bank, not go INSIDE MAN!
Oh… Chert , chuvak.

 

Movie Review: Blackhat (2015)

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After over a week of abscence, movie reviews are back! And this time it is for a movie that I have been genuinely excited about for quite a while. Some of you might remember that I put the movie in my “Most Anticipated Movies of 2015” list… on third place to be completely honest. And now it is finally time to review it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Blackhat”.

In this movie a cyber terrorist is blowing up nuclear plants around the world which brings together an American and a Chinsese agency to try to stop him, but they apparently can’t do jack-shit by themselves. So they bring out hacker Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) from prison to help them find and take down this cyber terrorist. There is also a romance side-plot involving Hathaway and one of his partners in this adventure. Problem is that none of these plots work very well. There was some excellent potential in the plot for the movie, but it isn’t that interesting. I wouldn’t say that the main plot is bad, but I would say that it isn’t as interesting as it could have been. And the romance side-plot… I didn’t fucking buy into it. It was like “Hey, we just met… want to get unrealistically romantically involved?”. I’m sorry, but that is basically what it was. They met and somehow they fell in love despite it being practically impossible. Hathaway probably just did it because she was the first hot woman he’d seen in quite some time (since he’s been in jail) and his hormones said “Dude, hot chick!”. And she fell in love with him because he’s Chris Hemsworth and I am over-analyzing this way too much! Plot overall was… meh.

The characters in this movie are really dull. And I don’t think it is because of the actors, because this movie got a very talented cast including Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis, two great actors. The reason all characters are less interesting than slices of white bread is because of the script which if you listen/look closely is pretty bad. Chris Hemsworth is the only somewhat interesting character in this movie because Hemsworth is an actor with an excellent screen presence, he is also generally likeable. But he is still just like I said, a piece of sliced white bread… pretty boring. Also, when does a hacker have time for a five hour gym routine… fucking never, that’s when! Hacking takes time, patience and concentration, it’s not as simple as in “Watch Dogs” where you just click a button and shit happens! *Deep breath* I am over-analyzing again… clam down Markus, it’s just a dumb action movie.

Here is at least a smoewhat redeaming factor, the music in the movie is genuinely good. It is a mix of different artists and composers to create a very mixed soundtrack that help convey some form of emotion despite the script being devoid of any emotion (shots fired?). However there is no real “Original Score” for the movie. There was supposed to be one done by Harry Gregson-Williams and Atticus Ross (Sidenote: I am intrigued by this, please let me listen to it) but it was ultimately scrapped by director Michael Mann for his typical mixed bag of music. And even though I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get to hear that probably great original score, the soundtrack we got was actually pretty great.

Like I mentioned a second ago, this movie was directed by Michael Mann who I am a fan of. I mean, “Heat” and “Collateral”, anyone? Anyway, he directed this movie and once again he has made a very well-directed and pretty unique looking movie. He uses his typical handheld camera style which makes a gritty and real feeling that I love. Again, like “Collateral”. And when a shootout happens, shit gets real! Whenever a shootout in a Michael Mann movie happens it actually feels real, the sound design feels so genuine that it immerses you into the scene and makes you feel like you’re a part of it. There is also a pretty cool hand-to-hand fight scene in a restaurant that I liked. But then we have a type of scene which just didn’t mesh very well with the gritty and handheld Mann style; and that is when they have a camera go through a computer-generated image of the inside of a computer (Computer-ception?). Those scenes look too polished and symmetrical and CGI-ish to actually work well together with the rest of the movie. They just feel distracting. Well… at least the shootouts are awesome.

This movie has not been very well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 34% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 51/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,4/10.

“Blackhat” is a bit of a fucking mess. It has a meh plot, boring characters, great music, fantastic direction (except for the CGI computer scenes) and some awesome action. It is such a mixed bag that it took me a while to figure out what to say about it. But I finally figured it out and now it’s time for my final score. Got a mail from Jeff. Oh, it’s my final score… guess he’s going digital. *Prints out score* *Computer dies* What the hell? Did he send me a virus? That bastard! My final score for “Blackhat” is a 6,42/10. I’d say that it’s worth renting.
Rent it

Review of “Blackhat” is completed.

Here is a better name for the movie that I found online: “Beefcake Supernerd”.

 

My Top 20 Favorite Songs

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How’s it going, guys? I hope you are having a good time doing whatever you are currently doing. I am here to give you another list/countdown/opinion-pile. And this time it is for my personal Top 20 Favorite Songs. You’re probably thinking “Wow, “Top 20 Favorite Songs”, something special must’ve happened!”. And the nswer to that is “No”, nothing special has happened, I just couldn’t figure out anything else to use for today’s list… yeah. So, let’s stop standing here and let’s get the rules.

Rule #1: As I always put as rule number 1 on my lists… this is my list therefore you can’t bitch about anything if you don’t agree with it. Every spot on this list is purely based on my opinion and I don’t mean to say that I give you an objective truth. So no bitching!

Rule #2: This list will probably alter a fair amount over the coming weeks/months, so this is just how I feel at this time. Also, every spot on this list (except for the Top 2) are put kind of willy-nilly.

Rule #3: I’m gonna put some emphasis on the fact that the picks for this list aren’t the objectively best songs in the world, these are just the songs I love listening to the most…ish.

Rule #4: I have kept it to one song per artist/band, because otherwise this list would be about 95% AC/DC songs.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… My Top 20 Favorite Songs!

Number 20: I am Kloot – Avenue of Hope.

A calm and relaxing song that I actually discovered fairly recently. I head it for the first time when I watched the 2007 sci-fi movie “Sunshine” (Sidenote: Go watch “Sunshine” is you haven’t, it’s fucking great). The lyrics are mysterious yet soothing, the guitar is slow and methodical and that freaking saxophone is just magical. It all culminates into a great song.

Number 19: Andy Williams – Speak Softly, Love.

Next up we have a beautiful love song from a fantastic movie. It is what is usually considered the main theme of Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia masterpiece “The Godfather”. I know, there is a bit of a running theme here with songs first being heard in movies, but that’s just purely coincidental. Anyway, this is a beautiful song with powerful instrumentals and terrific singing from the magic voice of Andy Williams. It is overall fantastic and I think you should listen to it.

Number 18: The Jeff Healey Band – Confidence Man.

Next up on the list is a cool song from the blind blues-rocker Jeff Healey (R.I.P). From Healey’s blues voice to the terrific guitar to the overall cool vibe, this is a pretty great song. Listen to it. Also, when making this list and putting this song in it I remembered that Healey was in “Road House”… strange how life works.

Number 17: Johnny Cash – Hurt.

Of course you need a song by “The Man in Black” in your list, question is though which one you will use. Should you go with the ever so popular “Ring of Fire” or maybe go to jil with the “Folsom Prison Blues”? Well in my case we go with his incredibly powerful cover of Nine Inch Nails’ 1994 song. Fun fact: When Reznor saw the music video for this song, it made him cry, and I don’t blame him… it made me tear up a little bit. Every time I watch it I feel like I just lost a friend. That is how powerful this song (and video) is.

Number 16: Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn.

Going from extremely depressing to extremely fun we have the mid-80’s hit by the white hip-hop trio that actually succeeded at being a white hip-hop trio. Also, I think I know why they have such a guitar/rock-based soung despite the lyrical parts being hip-hop; It turns out they started out as punk band but that didn’t really work so they changed to hip-hop and that worked for them. Anyway, one thing’s for sure: It all worked out for them and they have a unique sound that I fucking love. Also, R.I.P. Adam Yauch (In other words MCA), you are missed.

Number 15: Frank Turner – Peggy Sang the Blues.

Here we have a song from musician Frank Turner who has gotten a little bit of recognition these past few years, especially for his song “I Still Believe” which I also love. But for this list I using his song “Peggy Sang the Blues” which jsut like “I Still Believe” is featured on Turner’s album “England Keep My Bones”. I think this song really says what most people want to believe in through the phrase “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go“. I intrepret it as that you background doesn’t matter, but please do something about your life, don’t all mundane, do something with your life! I don’t know, I might be really wrong on that, but until someone comes with a better argument I am keeping by it! But this song hold up thanks to excellent lyrics, great instruments (particularly the guitar) and Frank Turner’s fantastic voice.

Number 14: Toto – Africa.

Here we have the classic synth-rock song “Africa” from synth-rock band Toto. Fun fact: keyboardist Steve Porcaro has been keeping busy these past few years, providing the soundtrack for the TV-show “Justified” (Sidenote: Go watch it). But this spot isn’t really about “Justified”, but much rather about this amazing song from Toto. It just has a classic and overall great feel that I just love. The lyrics are pretty great too, being kind of powerful in the chorus. Go listen to it, it’s great.

Number 13: Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of your Life).

Next up is a great song by punk/pop/rock band Green Day. I was originally gonna go with “Warning” for this spot, but then I thought “Nope, Good Riddance is a much better song, let’s use that!”. And I used it. It may be short, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t leave an impact… because to me this song had a huge impact. A song that can interpreted as “Life can and will suck at times, so have as much fun as possible when you can”. Not in a “fuck the police” kind of way, but rather in a “Go out right now and have fun because you might not get a second chance!”. And that is one of the many reasons that it works.

Number 12: Muse – Knights of Cydonia.

As you probably know by now after I have talked about it about 659,4 times, I am a huge fan of westerns. And this song kind of reminds me of westerns, or at least cowboys. In the style of it and also because there are some horses neighing in the beginning of the song. But this song boasts a feel and a surprisingly badass style that I fucking love. I first discovered it when playing “Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock”. And to this day I still can’t beat it on hard difficulty… *sigh*. Song’s great though.

Number 11: Metallica – One.

This might have been one of the more difficult choices for this list seeing as I love Metallica as much as I do. I love most of their songs, not that many on the album “Death Magnetic”, but that’s an entirely different story. But choosing which Metallica song to use was a big challenge, but finally I settled on “One” the song about a soldier… I think. If you look at parts of the lyrics it suggests that and if you look at the video it used clips from the movie “Johnny Got His Gun” which I haven’t seen but want to. Anyway, this is a great song with some excellent guitar, fantastic drumming and the always awesome voice of James Hetfield.

Number 10: The Green Car Motel – Asi Sera.

Time to bring out the motherfucking hipster music. And by that I mean, I don’t think the majority of the world has even heard of this song or even of this band. Which is a sad fact because not only is this song itself great, but the band has made some overall really good tracks that you should listen to some day. A beautiful ballad in spanish filled with excellent/beautiful guitar playing, a great rhythm and by god, that freaking trumpet is fantastic. Oh yeah, the singer’s great too. The entire song is great, listen to it.

Number 9: Steppenwolf – Born to Be Wild.

Get your motor running, head out on the highway! Lookin’ for adventure, in whatever comes our way! Those first few words really what describe what “Born to Be Wild” is all about… freedom. Freedom on the highway. BORN TO BE WIIIIIILD!!!

Number 8: Clint Mansell – Memories (Someone We’ll Never Know).

I never said songs from a movie’s original score was banned from this list! Any song is eligible for this list as long as I write which version of the song I’ve chosen for the list and also that I never use the same artist/band twice. With that said, this is to me (and anyone else who loves this amazing movies) a very emotional song. Hell, I think it might be emotional for anyone who hears it since it is in general a beautiful piece of music. The slow and beautiful piano, the magnificent strings (especially the cello, that shit’s pure magic) and the overall feeling of loneliness and abandonment makes this one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.

Number 7: Ted Gärdestad – Himlen Är Oskyldigt Blå.

Hey look, a song from my home country! On a quick sidenote: For those of you who don’t know, I am from Sweden. Now that I got the sidenote out of the way, I love this song so much! Not only is this one of my favorite songs of all time, Ted Gärdestad(R.I.P) is also one of my favorite musicians of all time. This song got everything; Beautiful piano, great intrumental play in general, a great feel and also a fantastic voice to hold it up. There is nothing I dislike about this movie, I love absolutely everything about it!

Number 6: Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water.

Despite this song only being at number 6, it has still had a larger impact on me than any other song on this list. It was the first song I ever played and beat on “Guitar Hero”, it is a song that stuck easily in my mind and it is one of the few songs I actually know the full lyrics to (I recite the lyrics in my spare time a lot). Anyway, I think the main reason everybody knows this song and can recognize it easily is because of that classic guitar riff. A simple layout with a simple execution turned into a worldwide phenomenon. My love of this song go beyond the riff however, I personally love everything about the song. Like I said, the impact it had on me me is massive. I know the lyrics, I know the backstory behind it, I have listened to this song probably more than 500 times throughout my life (which might sound like a little to some, but is actually a huge amount) and I just overall love exactly everything about it.

Number 5: Brad Paisley – You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.

Hey look, a country song! And a pretty amazing one at that. It is a song with excellent guitar playing, excellent use of all intruments and it also has Brad Paisley’s smooth voice. It also tells a story of Harlan County’s coal industry and how it began. Those are things that make the song as great as it is (to me). Here is how I discovered the song: I was watching “Justified” (Sidenote: Again, go watch it!) and when I got to the season 1 finale this song started playing and I went “Wow, this song’s great, I have to look it up!”. So I looked it up, found out which song it was and I have listened to it and loved it ever since. It is a great song that deserves all the love it gets!

Number 4: Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia.

Once again, a song that I got introduced to through a movie (Sidenote: The movie for those of you who don’t know is “Philadelphia”). And boy, am I glad the movie introduced me to this song because it is just beautiful! The drumming is soothing, Springsteen’s voice is soothing and the lyrics some of the most poetic and beautiful I have ever heard. This is one of the few songs that can make me close to tearing up because of beautiful it is. This is a song that I hope will touch so many more people. Even though it is pretty much about gay people who get aids and start dying (go to songmeanings.com and you will understand).

Number 3: Skillet – American Noise.

This is a song that just hit me as soon as I heard it. It comments on society, it has powerful lyrics that resonated with me it is jsut straight up beautiful. Whenever I hear this magnificent song I just want to yell out “I GOT A VOICE!” and then jsut burst into song to make the world a happier place. I remember chatting with my best friend on facebook one day, sending a link to this song to him and he just fell in love with it. I guess that is exactly what this song is… Love. Anyway, even if it for some reason turned out to not actually be love but instead be something else I can for sure say that it is an amazing song.

Number 2: AC/DC – Hells Bells.

This spot might come as a shock for some people since I have stated many times, both here on wordpress and in real life that AC/DC is my favorite band. And holy shit, it was so shocking I gave Jeff a heart attack. Someone call 911. Anyway, uhm… yeah. You’d think that if AC/DC is my favorite band then I’d put one of their songs at number 1, but I am kind of ironic in that sense because I put them at number 2. But despite it not being on number 1, I still fucking love this song (and AC/DC). This is honestly my favorite AC/DC song, I don’t know why it is my favorite by them, it just is. It is pretty amazing in my opinion.

Before we reach number 1, let’s just throw out one honorable mention because I am a dick like that! And that honorable mention will go to “Paradise City” by Guns ‘n’ Roses. Great rock song, fun to listen to, honorable mention over.

NUMBER 1: Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold!

THIS. SONG. IS. FUCKING. AMAZING. CAN’T. SPEAK. PROPERLY. But in all seriousness, this song really is a masterpiece. Written and conducted by Ennio Morricone for “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (Sidenote: MY third favorite movie of all time), it is an epic song that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. The intro piano/oboe, the gradually increasing sounds, the woman who sings in it, the brass the… EVERYTHING! This is a song I can just put on repeat at any time and just have a great time with because it is big, epic and brings me so many memories of big and epic westerns. And that is why this is my all time favorite song.

Now that has been my Top 20 Favorite Songs. Let me know in the comments what your favorite song is. I hope you an enjoyable time reading this and listening to the great music.

Have a good one!