Movie Review: You Don’t Know Jack (2010)

Oh dear. How do I make a fun intro to this? I mean, I don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t because of the heavy subject matter… but I like making fun intros. What a dilemma.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “You Don’t Know Jack”.

The story follows Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino), a highly controversial doctor. Why is he controversial? Because he advocates (and leads) for the service of assisted suicide for the terminally ill or severely disabled who no longer want to suffer. So the story is about Kevorkian helping his patients while also fighting the legal battle to have what he’s doing be legal… I told you the themes in this were heavy. But in presentation they’re not overbearingly heavy to just make you depressed every minute of the movie. Not saying that it’s exactly a lighthearted movie, but it knows how to find a tone that emphasizes the drama while keeping it relatively easy to watch. And yeah, the plot here has a lo of nuance and balances tone very well, but it also has some trouble with pacing. I get it, Kevorkian had a long career, and this isn’t a fast-paced action movie, but there are times when the pacing drags a bit. It doesn’t ruin the plot, but it does pull it down a bit in my book. Still, the plot here is good.

The characters in this are colorful, layered, flawed, and overall quite interesting. Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian, the man at the center of the story advocating for assisted suicide. He’s a passionate and highly determined man, doing everything in his power to let people (as he puts it) have the choice to suffer or not. He’s also kinda quirky, but it never clashes with his dramatic struggle, as it shows that there’s many sides to him (like with most people). And Pacino is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Brenda Vaccaro, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Cotter Smith, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

There wasn’t a lot of music composed for this movie, but the little there is was done by Marcelo Zarvos, and the music was good… not much else I can say there. The use of licensed music worked pretty well in the movie too. Yeah, not much else can be said.

Based on the life of actual doctor Jack Kevorkian, this movie was written by Adam Mazer, and directed by Barry Levinson. And their work together was really good. Admittedly the camerawork leaves a little to be desired, as the tv movie constraints really show at times here. But the overall direction here is still good, getting close and intimate with the characters and their struggles in a wonderful way.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

While not perfect, “You Don’t Know Jack” is still a really engrossing movie that should spark some interesting discussion. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and good writing/directing. As previously stated, it does suffer a bit in pacing and camerawork (but nothing major). Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “You Don’t Know Jack” is an 8,82/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “You Don’t Know Jack” is now completed.

I have nothing that’s really related to the movie to end on, so let’s just share one of the most profound quotes of all time. “Hoo-ah” – Al Pacino.

Movie Review: The Godfather Part III (1990)

Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finish this damn trilogy. I watched and reviewed the first part all the way back in 2015. Then in April of last year I finally got to Part 2. And now, nearly four years after that first one, we wrap it all up. So here we fuckin’ go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Godfather Part III”.

The year is 1979. An aging Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is working to fully go legitimate, after all the sins in his past. But that turns out to be more difficult than anticipated as he has to deal with the other families, as well as reluctantly take his nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia) under his wing. So now we have our third and final “Godfather” story. And god damn, is it a mixed bag. I was actually quite invested at first, as the story they present towards the first act of the film is reminiscent of the other films in the series, and presents a compelling narrative around lineage, atoning, and the various other themes one would expect from the franchise at this point. Then shit hits the fan and it all gets quite uninteresting for a while. It’s not awful, but it’s just kinda boring and mediocrely written. Then towards the end it kinda picks up again. The entire thing is kind of a mixed bag.

The characters in this are mostly quite good. There’s one or two that I just had trouble giving a shit about. I just went “Oh yeah, you’re here too, I guess” any time I saw one of them. First up we have Al Pacino reprising his role as Michael Corleone, head of the Corleone family. He’s a lot older now, getting tired of all the shit going on around him. And he’s still probably the most compelling character in this whole thing. And Pacino is great in the role. Next we have Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, Michael’s nephew and now protegé. He’s a bit of a hothead who often gets into trouble, but still wants to really impress his uncle, showing that he can be useful. And aside from one subplot that is just… wrong, he actually has a good arc here. And Garcia is great in the role. We also get Eli Wallach as Don Albotello, a fellow Godfather and generally interesting man with an interesting little plot of his own here. And Wallach is great in the role. Next we have Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone, Michael’s daughter. She has a character arc in this that is weird, uncomfortable, and not the most well written, making her a character I didn’t care for that much. And Coppola isn’t very good in the role… at all. We also see the return of Talia Shire and Diane Keaton, both doing very well in their roles. We also get supporting work from people like Bridget Fonda, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Raf Vallone, Franc, D’Ambrosio, and many more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Carmine Coppola, and it was quite good. IT has that intimate and emotional style of the previous “Godfather” scores without just sounding like the exact same thing being used. It has its own flourishes, and I liked most of them. What I don’t get is the frequent use of a mouth harp. Is this a movie about an Italian-American crime family, or is it about a wacky clan of hillbillies? Other than the weird use of a mouth harp, the music here is damn good.

“The Godfather Part III” is as expected from the title, the third part in the “Godfather” series based on Mario Puzo’s book of the same name. But unlike the last two, this had no real source material, so it was written from scratch by Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. And while the writing leaves a bit to be desired at times, Coppola’s direction is still (mostly) as tight as ever, giving us an intimate, engaging, and suspenseful look into this world. And the cinematography by Gordon Willis is quite good too, giving us some real eye candy throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie was nominated for seven Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actor (Garcia), Best Director, Best cinematography, Best set decoration, Best film editing, and Best original song.

“The Godfather Part III” is a bit of a disappointing end to this trilogy, but it’s overall an enjoyable crime-drama. It has an okay plot, okay characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, the movie suffers due to a large chunk of the plot being uninteresting, a few uninteresting characters, and one distractingly bad performance from a major player. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Godfather Part III” is a 7,87/10. So while heavily flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Godfather Part III” is now completed.

Sometimes the mighty fall. But then they give it one last push.

Movie Review: Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

It is time. The final part in my little “Ocean’s” trilogy review series. I’ve had fun revisiting this series… for the most part, “Ocean’s Twelve” was a bit rough. But other than that I’ve enjoyed doing this series. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ocean’s Thirteen”.

After one of their own gets screwed over by notorious hotel owner Willy Bank (Al Pacino), Danny (George Clooney), Rusty (Brad Pitt), and the rest of the gang has to pull off another heist as revenge against Bank. So now we have our plot. And it’s pretty refreshing, going back to a focused heist formula like the first movie, making it feel less disjointed than the second one. Here we do get a fun and well paced heist plot. Sure, it lacks the tension-filled thrillride of the first movie, but it never feels boring, and it does have a few decent switcharoos. Overall this plot is good. Not as great as the first, but still a fun time.

I’m not gonna linger too much on the characters here since I covered them all before. But the entire gang, AKA George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Qin Shaobo, Bernie Mac (R.I.P), Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison… they’re all still really good in their respective roles, and they work really well together. Now let’s talk about Al Pacino as new antagonist Willy Bank. He’s a charming jerk who cares more for his ego than anything else. He’s an interesting foe for the gang to go up against. While not quite as intimidating as Terry Benedict, he’s still a fun addition to the cast. And Pacino is really good in the role. Speaking of Terry Benedict, he makes a return in this. Not saying to what capacity, but I found his role in this to be enjoyable, and Andy Garcia once again did a really good job in the role. We do also get a pretty good supporting performance from Ellen Barkin as Bank’s right-hand-woman. Really, it’s a very well acted movie.

David Holmes of course returned to do the music for this, and once again he killed it. His score here is jumpy, energetic, mysterious, and just really fun. It fits the movie perfectly and sometimes even improves upon the experience. There’s also like one or two licensed tracks used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

As with the first two movies, “Ocean’s Thirteen” was shot and directed by Steven Soderbergh. And he once again brought his A-game. His direction is fast and snappy, giving the movie a great sense of energy that keeps it feeling fun. And his cinematography is really good as well. Not much else I can say on that front that I didn’t already cover in a previous review. What I can say is that there’s some really good humor throughout the movie, it got me laughing quite a bit.

This movie has been decently received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 70% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

While not on par with the first movie, “Ocean’s Thirteen” is still a very enjoyable return to form for the crew. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, really good directing/cinematography, and funny humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Ocean’s Thirteen” is an 8,67/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Ocean’s Thirteen” is now completed.

Aaaaand done. The “Ocean’s” review series is now finished.

Movie Review: The Godfather Part II (1974)

I recently ran a poll on my twitter page where I asked which of four classics that I hadn’t seen yet people waned to see a review of. And at the end of it, this movie came out victorious. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Godfather Part II”.

We follow Michael (Al Pacino), the new head of the Corleone family as he ascends within the crime world, trying to hold on to his empire and his family. And throughout the movie we also get flashbacks to a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), from his arrival in New York during his childhood, to him rising in the mob world as an adult. What I liked about the first “Godfather” movie, and also this is that while it has this sweeping and epic gangster story, it also focuses on the smaller family drama, which gives it a lot more nuance. Yes, it is a very long movie (3 hours, 10 minutes), but it needs that runtime to be able to tell this big and impressive story. Emotional, suspenseful, intriguing, and well written, the plot in this movie is great.

The characters in this are layered and interesting. First up we have Al Pacino reprising his role as Michael Corleone, the current head of the Corleone family. In this movie we see a very conflicted Michael as he has to become the new Godfather, while being pulled in the “legitimate” direction by his wife. And it makes for an interesting character study. And Pacino is fantastic in the role. Then we have Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone. He’s a quiet man with a lot of emotion built up inside of him after some stuff that happened in his past. And it’s interesting to see him go through everything he goes through. And De Niro is fantastic in the role. Diane Keaton returns as Kay, the wife of Michael. She goes through some stuff in this movie, and seeing her try to deal with the shit that comes from her husband’s mob-life is quite fascinating and heartbreaking. And Keaton is of course great in the role. Then we have John Cazale (R.I.P) as Fredo, Michael’s older brother. In this movie you see that he’s a bit of a spineless man who does love his family, but some of his own agendas seem to come first, and it makes him an interesting foil for the other characters. And Cazale is great in the role. And in further returning roles we see people like Talia Shire, Robert Duvall, Richard Bright, Gianni Russo, and Morgana King (among others), all doing very well in their roles. Then we also got some new comers like Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, G.D. Spradlin, Bruno Kirby, and many more. They also do very well in their respective roles. ’tis a very well acted movie.

The music for the movie was composed by Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola, and it’s fantastic. It’s a sweeping and emotional score that fits the world perfectly and helps elevate the scenes to the next level. What I also liked is that it’s not just super serious string tracks, but there are also a couple of more fun tracks for a few moments throughout the movie, and I think that works quite well. Yeah, the music’s great.

Like with the first movie, “Part II” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (with some writing help from Mario Puzo), and once again he knocked it out of the park. His direction captures the sweeping nature of the crime syndicate plot, while also managing to really elevate and engage during the smaller family drama scenes. I really don’t think anyone could have captured it as well as Coppola.

This movie has been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and put it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,0/10 and is ranked #3 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 6 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actor (De Niro), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best set decoration, and Best original score. The movie was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Pacino), Best supporting actor (Gazzo), Best supporting actor (Strasberg), Best supporting actress (Shire), and Best costume design. Fuck, that’s a lot of awards and nominations.

Does “The Godfather Part II” live up to the hype? For me, it does. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Godfather Part II” is a 9,85/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Godfather Part II” is now completed.

And for those wondering, I do prefer the first one.

Movie Review: Carlito’s Way (1993)

Today’s lesson (which is a repeat of an older lesson): Crime. Don’t commit crimes. Committing crimes is bad. This has been your lesson/PSA for the day.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Carlito’s Way”.

After serving five years in prison, Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is attempting to sort of reboot his life, escape his old criminal ways and become a good citizen. But that is quite hard when he feels pressure from various people around him. So now we have our crime-drama. And I was quite engrossed by the plot here. On one hand, it subverted my expectations. When it started out, I thought it would go one way, but then it took some turns that I really didn’t expect. And it’s overall a tense and dramatic plot that I found myself quite invested in throughout the entire runtime. It’s more of a character-driven drama rather than a typical gangster-story (though there are elements of that too at times), and I found it to be a damn fine plot.

The characters in this are quite interesting. Sure, a decent amount of them don’t get the most amount of depth, but I found them all working well enough within the movie. Al Pacino plays Carlito Brigante, the man in the title who has some trouble leading a legitimate life. At first he just seems like a smug and charismatic gangster who might go back to his old ways ASAP, but those layers quickly get peeled back and we see that he really means to go legit, to be a good man. And he gets some interesting development throughout. And Pacino is great in the role. Then we have Sean Penn as David, Carlito’s sleazy lawyer. And when I say sleazy I mean that he’s a somewhat dorky, coked out, jerk. And it’s interesting to see him and his interactions with Carlito. And Penn is really good in the role. Then we have Penelope Ann Miller as Gail, an old flame of Carlito, and his love interest for the movie. She’s a highly driven dancer who is a bit split when it comes to Carlito. She is also an important part of Carlito’s arc. And Miller is really good in the role. We also get some really solid supporting turns from people like James Rebhorn, Luis Guzmán, John Leguizamo, Viggo Mortensen, John Ortiz, and more. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Patrick Doyle, and it was really good. What we have here is an emotional, tense, and just overall well composed. It’s a score that fits the movie very well, and often helps elevate a lot of scenes throughout. Not saying that the scenes were bad in general, just that the music added something extra to them. There were also a couple licensed tracks used throughout, and they worked well within their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Brian De Palma, and he of course did a great job (what else did you expect?). His directing here is tight and intimate while also making it feel a bit bigger than it is. However, compared to “Scarface”, the other De Palma/Pacino crime movie, it’s quite subdued in it’s approach. There is certainly a little bit of action in this, but it’s not quite as extreme as in “Scarface”. Yeah, it’s violent, but it isn’t quite as insane as the stuff in “Scarface”, relying more on pure tension rather than the coked out insanity of that other movie. Speaking of which, De Palma manages to bring out a lot of tension throughout this movie, making you actually kind of fear for Carlito and what might happen.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Carlito’s Way” is a great crime drama. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Carlito’s Way” is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Carlito’s Way” is now completed.

Oye como va mi ritmo
Bueno pa’ gozar, mulata

Movie Review: Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Bank robbery. Doesn’t matter what cause you are doing it for, it’s always a bad idea. No matter how desperately a person might need the money, he or she should not attempt to rob a bank… EVER! It’s a bad idea that has so much more risk than reward.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Dog Day Afternoon”.

Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale, RIP) and two men who walk into a bank during a hot summer afternoon to rob it. And what was supposed to be a simple bank robbery soon turns into a tense and complicated hostage situation. The plot in “Dog Day Afternoon” is pretty great, not just because of my love for heist films, but because it doesn’t just present it in the typical black and white cops vs. robbers way. The situation and the motivations behind it are much more grey than in other movies, and that’s what I loved about the plot. You see every little angle of it. It’s rare to see such a nuanced plot in bank robbery/heist movies that I found it quite refreshing. The plotis really a tense drama that managed to hold my interest from start to finish.

The characters, like the plot, are very layered and have plenty of nuance to them which makes them really interesting to watch. Al Pacino is fantastic as Sonny. And what I really like about his character is that he osn’t jsut your typical asshole bank robber, he’s just a man who does this for “good reasons”. By “good reasons” I don’t mean that bank robbery is okay (read the intro again), but that his motivations isn’t just to get rich, but he has a clear motivation that I can understand/get behind. John Cazale is great as Sal, the man that is helping Pacino rob the bank. We also get James Broderick (RIP) as an FBI agent that is there to negotiate with Pacino/Cazale, and he’s great. We have Chalres Durning (RIP) as a cop that tries to negotiate with Pacino/Cazale, and he’s great. We get Chris Sarandon as someone that is close to Pacino’s character, and he’s great. We even get a brief, but still welcome, appearance from Lance Henriksen who plays anotehr FBI agent and he is really good here. The entire cast is great in this movie, and all the characters are great.

What is interesting about the music in this movie is that there is none. Okay, I kind of lied there, there is a song at the beginning of the movie to sort of establish the city and such. But other than that there is nothing. No score, no other licensed tracks… jack fucking shit. And while I do love me some good music in a movie, I think that the lack of it here actually kind of works to it’s advantage. I try to imagine the scenes in my head with music, and I can’t… does not compute. This movie has no music in it, and I really liked that about it.

This movie was directed by Sidney Lumet (RIP) and I think he did a pretty damn great job. The framing is great and his direction here is very tense and engaging.  I felt like I was stuck in this shitshow with the characters, and that is proof of great directing. What makes that even mroe interesting is that there is barely any violence in the movie. As a matter of fact, there is almost no violence in it at all. Kind of refreshing to see that in a crime movie for once.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist (how dareth thou, Metacritic?). Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and put it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10 and is ranked #243 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay. It also got an additional 5 nominations in the categories of Best picture, Best actor (Pacino), Best supporting actor (Sarandon), Best director, and Best film editing. 

“Dog Day Afternoon” is an incredibly nuanced bank robber drama that engaged me from start to finish. It has a great plot, great performances, no music (which works for the movie), and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dog Day Afternoon” is a 9,89/10. This means that is gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Dog Day Afternoon” is now completed.

They don’t make movies like this anymore… quite sad, really.

Movie Review: Danny Collins (2015)

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It’s interesting how there are so many ways musicians can become. Will they become the typical coked out and washed up piece of shit we see in a lot of cases or will they actually have a great career and never succumb to the drugs, alcohol, sex and other stupid bullshit? It’s always interesting to see that, at least in my opinion.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Danny Collins”.

In this movie we follow aging rock star Danny Collins (Al pacino, also roll credits). On his birthday, his manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) gives him a 40 year old letter from John Lennon that had suddenly popped up. So now Danny sets out to change his life thanks to the letter. And while it is interesting to see, I had one problem with the plot. And by that I don’t mean I had a problem with the plot itself, but I was taken out of it because of it being a little too predictable. I could figure out pretty well what was gonna happen next which is a little sad because I never like that to happen. Fortunately I still enjoyed it thanks to good execution and good writing.

While this movie lacks is original and unpredictable plot, it made up for in characters. They are all consistently well-written and entertaining as hell. I gotta say, this is the best performance Pacino has given us in recent years. I don’t think he has been this great since “Insomnia” in 2002. He is also the most charming I have ever seen him. Christopher Plummer is also great as his manager. Annette Bening plays his love interest in the movie and I think she did a great job. I also think she didn’t feel forced like almost every love interest does. Bobby Cannavale played Pacino’s son in the movie and he was great too. Everybody was great, even the annoying little kid who actually kind of had a reason to be annoying.

The soundtrack to this movie is one of the best I’ve heard in a while. Let’s start with the original tracks… there are two of them. One is supposed to be the main character’s “big hit” song that he plays at every concert, the song that he never gets away from. The second one is a song he writes over the course of the movie and that tracks is beautiful and awesome. The rest of the soundtrack are licensed tracks, but in a good way. What do I mean by that? It’s fucking John Lennon, how could it not be good? That’s right, they paid a lot of money for John Lennon songs and they used them perfectly.

Let’s see here, this movie was directed by… Dan Fogelman. And before this he had directed… nothing. Yeah, that’s the truth, this guy had not directed anything prior to this movie and yet he did it perfectly. The shots look great and everything is very well-done. Also, I don’t think I mentioned that this movie is really funny… because it is. The jokes in it are really good and I think Pacino delivered them perfectly.

This movie has been pretty-well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritification. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Danny Collins” is a pretty good movie. It has a good (but predictable) story, great characters/performances, an awesome soundtrack, really good directing and great writing. Time for my final score. *Pacino Growl*. My final score for “Danny Collins” is a 9,12/10. I think it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

“Danny Collins” is now reviewed.

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Movie Review: The Insider (1999)

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Whistleblowing is a topic that has been very relevant these past few years, especially after the whole Snowden ordeal in 2013. For those of you who don’t know, whistleblowing is when you expose secrets about a company or something of that nature that they would like to keep secret. In other words, blowing the whistle on them, hence the name “whistleblowing”. I can give you two examples of well known whistleblowers; Erin Brockovich who blew the whistle on a company that was the reason for people getting sick in a small town in California. And then we have our second example, Edward Snowden who leaked secrets of CIA/NSA spying on regular civlians through the internet as fecently as 2013. Okay, this intro became longer than expected… shit.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Insider”.

In this movie we follow real life whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) who was convinced by producer/journalist Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) to go on the show “60 Minutes” and give confidential details and expose a huge tobacco industry. And from that we get an excellent plot. The plot is filled with fantastic suspense and drama that keeps you on the edge through the entire 2 hours and 37 minute runtime. While some events have been fictionalized for dramatic effect, most of it is actually accurate. But the blend of the real and the fictional is so fantastic that it will keep you guessing which is which. And that is what I loved about the plot, the seamless combination of real and fake, suspense and drama.

The characters in this movie are all compelling, fleshed out and feel like real people. And the actors in the movie do great jobs as them. This is definitely one of the best performances I have ever seen from Russell Crowe, he is excellent in this movie. He shows a lot of emotions in the movie and he has a bunch of little nuances that enhance his performance a lot. And Al Pacino was also great in this movie as Lowell Bergman. This is what I would call one of his more “quiet” performances. Don’t get me wrong, he does some shouting in the movie, but not as much as in a lot of movies. He is definitely less over-the-top and shout-y than in Michael Mann’s previous film “Heat”. Remember Pacino in “Heat” and his “great ass” monologue? Yeah, it was weird.
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The score for the movie was done by Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke with a few tracks respectively by Graeme Revell, Gustavo Santaolalla (yay!), Jan Garbarek and Massive Attack. And despite there being so many different composers/artists working on the soundtrack it all feels very cohesive and not messy at all. All tracks come together to create a very atmospheric and suspense building soundtrack that helps the movie keep you on the edge of your chair/couch/floor/great ass.

This movie was directed by Michael Mann and it shows because this movie is dark, gritty and it all got a great tone. And the cinematography by Dante Spinotti is just as gritty as the overall direction and is therefore fantastic. The shots all look great and it manages to make the movie feel much more tense than if you had used any other director/cinematographer. Also, if you watch this, be prepared with a lot of popcorn and drinks because it is a long movie. Sure, “Heat” is even longer, but “The Insider” is still really long… so make sure you are loaded up on snacks and such. But I guess some of you take that as a challenge with the reaction of:
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This movie has been very well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie was also nominated for 7 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best Actor (Crowe), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best cinematography, Best film editing and Best sound. 

“The Insider” is a suspenseful and dramatic corporate thriller with and excellent plot, terrific acting/character, great music, excellent direction/cinematography and some terrific writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Insider” is a 9,87/10. It definitely gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“The Insider” is reviewed.

Two days in a row that I have reviewed a movie with “Inside” in the title… strange.

 

Movie Review: Insomnia (2002)

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When Christopher Nolan makes a movie you never know what you’re gonna get. Sure, you might have a basic idea to what the hell he is up to, but overall you will have no idea. His movies are so complex and unique that you can never tell what he will do next. So today we are taking a look at one of his earliest movies… which also happens to be a crime-thriller (A.K.A. My type of movie!).

Ladies and gentlemen… “Insomnia”.

This movie is about two Los Angeles detectives named Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan). They get flown out to a small town in Alaska to investigate the murder of a young girl. The funny twist is that this place they are at is always bright, the sun never sets. They also get help from young detective Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank). And I will not say more. If I say more I will be giving away some spoilers… and we don’t want that now, do we? But I can say that, holy shit this plot is great! Like I said in the introduction, it is a Christopher Nolan movie and is therefore complex (not mindfucky) and layered. There are also a few neat twists throughout. I thought the plot was great!

The characters are fairly well-rounded with a good amount of personality. And the performances in this movie are crazy good. I mean, it is rare to see Pacino being this great in a movie from the last 10 – 15 years. Sometimes he nails it, other times he doesn’t. And in here I can safely say that he knocks it out of the park. Hilary Swank is also really good. And of course, Robin Williams (R.I.P) is also terrific in the movie. I will not say what he plays, that you will have to see for yourself. But all the characters and performances were great.

Believe it or not, but this is a Nolan movie that doesn’t have a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. In this movie the score was done by David Julyan (Sidenote: My research tells me he also did the score for Nolan’s movie “The Prestige”). And the score is dark, chilling and great. It really helps build the suspense of the movie and also sets a mood that not all thrillers got. And I really liked the score. It really fit the movie perfectly.

You know the movie will be visually great when it is directed by Christopher Nolan. The guy is a master director and it shows here. And of course he brought on Wally Pfister to do the cinematography for the movie and it is just terrific. This is (like all Nolan movies) visually supreme. The writing in the movie is also really good, really helping the already great performances to excel even more. I was also a bit surprised to see how this movie to a large part when it came to the dialogue is morality, I never expected to see that in a thriller. But they did it and they pulled it off. Also, fun fact: it is a remake of a Norwegian movie that came out in 1998.

This movie was really well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. Roger Ebert seemed to really like this movie seeing as he gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10. Also, here is a good quote from Ebert about this movie;

“Unlike most remakes, the Nolan Insomnia is not a pale retread, but a re-examination of the material, like a new production of a good play.”

“Insomnia” got an intriguing and complex story, terrific performances, a great score, it is visually terrific and has some good writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem* My final score for “Insomnia” is a 9,79/10. This score of course gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
Seal of Approval

Review of “Insomnia” is completed.

Insomnia is not good to get kiddos, make sure you get a good amount of sleep.

Movie Review: The Godfather (1972)

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Oh god, now I am gonna get it… big time. Not having seen one of the most popular and best reviewed movies of all time until now. So far I have gotten through it all without getting my ass bitten, but this is sure to piss people off. For the people who might be able to accept the fact, I am sorry. But for you who are dead set on murdering me, be gentle.

My friends… “The Godfather”.

This movie follows aging mob boss Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando, R.I.P) as he wants to try to hand over the empire to his reluctant son Michael (Al Pacino). We also get to see them try to take care of business and survive from the other “families” in the city. Now that is really all I can say about the plot for the few out there who haven’t seen the movie yet. But I can say that the long time that the story spans (circa 10 years) is one of the most intriguing and perfectly constructed plots I have ever laid my eyes upon. This movie is almost three hours long and I was never bored with any of it, that is evidence of a terrific and interesting story. It also features a few pretty neat twists and turns at times.

The characters are all very nuanced, unique and interesting. All of them had great writing behind them and I can safely say that there was not a single weak performance in this movie at all. Marlon Brando was fantastic as this deep, caring and humble mob boss. His performance was one of the best I have ever seen. Al Pacino was also great as his son Michael, a guy reluctant to take on the role of Godfather (Or Don as it is also called). But he also played the character with a lot of humanity and showed that the character put family above all else. It was also great seeing a bunch of other great actors such as Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and James Caan in this movie playing all these great characters. Like I said before, there were on weak performances in this movie and the writing for all of them was excellent.

The score by Nino Rota was perfect. It managed to help build a lot of suspense, even in a lot of scenes where there was a regular conversation between two characters. The music also helped bring a lot of emotion to scenes that wouldn’t have been as powerful without it even though they would still have been great. And while I did love the original score for the movie, please listen to this cover of the song “Speak Softly, Love” by David Davidson, it is beautiful.

There is a reason Francis Ford Coppola is called one of the greatest directors ever and that is hwo this movie is shot. Sure, there is nothing special at first glance when it comes to the shot composition, but that is the greatness of it all. It is simple yet so magnificent. The shots look terrific, especially on the restoration DVD that I watched. Sure, the blu-ray is probably even better, but I don’t care. The movie looks fantastic.

Like I said in the beginning, this is one of the best reviewed movies of all time. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 99% (Holy shit) positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 100/100, one of the few movies with such a score. Roger Ebert gave this movie 4/4 stars and put it in his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,2/10 and is ranked #2 on the “Top 250” list (Sidenote: At #1 is “The Shawshank Redemption”). This movie also won 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Best screenplay based on previously published material. It was also nominated for an additional 8 Oscars (Holy shit) in the categories of Best Supporting Actors (James Caan), Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall), Best Supporting Actor (Al Pacino), Best Director, Best costume design, Best sound, Best film editing and best original score. 

I can’t deny it, “The Godfather” is one of the greatest movies ever made. The story is fantastic, the performances are fantastic, the score is amazing, the direction is great and the writing is terrific. The only problem I could see it having is that it would be a tad too slow for most modern audiences… but not for me! Time for my final score. Jeff, get me the envelope! No? Well how about this, I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. Yeah? Thank you! My final score for “The Godfather” is a 9,89/10. There is nothing else to say other than it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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I have finally reviewed “The Godfather”.

This movie made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. And I am at least not sleeping with the fishes.