Movie Review: Mystic River (2003)

I had no real reason to review this movie. It was on tv last night, and that rewatch made me wanna talk about it. So no proper reason. I mean, I could tie it into Eastwood’s new movie “The Mule”, but… nah.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mystic River”.

After one of them suffers a horrific family tragedy, three childhood friends (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon) find their lives change in some dark, shattering ways. So now we have our crime-drama. And I loved the story here. It’s a slowly burning, somber, and contemplative drama, focusing more on showing what happens within people’s minds after they experience something horrific, rather than a typical murder mystery. This is what I meant with the somber and contemplative. Yes, you do have the murder investigation, but it’s really more of a character drama than a police procedural. And I find it all extremely engaging, gut-wrenching, and incredibly well done.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, damaged, and just overall really interesting. First up we have Sean Penn as Jimmy Markum, a former criminal turned legit businessman. He’s the man who suffered the family tragedy that kicks the plot into gear, and to see him try to deal with it, especially as a former criminal, is quite an interesting journey. And Penn is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle, the second of the main trio. As a boy, something happened to him that changed his life forever. And recent events put some of those memories back into his mind, which really gives him some interesting character development. And Robbins is fantastic in the role. And then we have Kevin Bacon as Sean Devine, a cop and the third of the childhood friends. He’s the one investigating the death of Markum’s family member, while also kind of dealing with a personal thing in the background. He probably has the least interesting arc of all the characters, but I still find him to be quite interesting. And Bacon is great in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Kevin Chapman, Spencer Treat Clark, John Doman, Tom Guiry, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by… Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a good job with it. It’s emotional, it’s a little eerie, and it just works very well within the various scenes that it can be heard. Yeah, it’s good.

Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (AKA my favorite author), this movie was directed by Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a fantastic job on that front, directing it with an emotional intimacy that brings us close to the characters, while still allowing for a sense of scale to capture every element of this sweeping tale of personal tragedy. He also brings a decent bit of suspense to it, especially at a certain point in the movie which had me fully locked to the screen.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie won two Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Penn) and best supporting actor (Robbins). It also got an additional four nominations in the categories of Best picture, best director, best supporting actress (Harden), and best adapted screenplay.

“Mystic River” is a fantastic crime-drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mystic River” is a 9,89/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mystic River” is now completed.

Tragedy hits us all in different ways. Hug your loved ones while you can.

Movie Review: Live by Night (2016)

I’m gonna be very frank with y’all: I love Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night”, it’s a fantastic book. So I was both skeptical and excited when I found out that Ben Affleck was directing a movie adaptation of it. Then the trailer was released and it was great, but I still held back any hype because of my love for the source material. Then the reviews started coming out and they were not merciful. So my reservations weren’t exactly lightened by that. And here we are… let’s see if the critics are right.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Live by Night”.

1920s Boston. As the son of a popular and beloved police chief, Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) has had a lot to live up to. However, Joe has found himself operating on the other side of the law. So we follow him as he rises from petty robbery to taking on the rum trade in Tampa, Florida. We also see him as he struggles with this life, trying to balance running his business with taking on competitors and other factions who want to do him harm. So now we have our gangster story. And the basic setup is interesting enough, with a few parts in the story giving us some pretty good drama and suspense. But for the most part this plot lacks a lot of the nuance needed to make it great. Especially during the middle when it starts meandering quite a bit. And while I shouldn’t compare this to the book, I do have to mention that the plot here in the movie lacks some of the flair and nuance that it had. So overall the plot here is… fine.

The characters in this are for the most part pretty interesting. While not a physical match to Joe, Ben Affleck is great in the role. He’s a smart, even-tempered, and interesting individual, and Affleck does give a great performance. Chris Messina plays Joe’s friend/partner in crime Dion Bartolo, and he’s a fun and cool guy that I thought was prety interesting. And Messina is great in the role. Sienna Miller plays Emma Gould, a woman that Joe gets involved with, and while her Irish accent if a bit off, her overall performance is pretty good. Chris Cooper plays Irving Figgis, a police chief that Joe has some interactions with throughout the movie. And Cooper is great in the role, getting some of the best dramatic moments in the movie. Elle Fanning plays Cooper’s daugher, Loretta, and she’s great in the role. Brendan Gleeson shows up for a bit in the movie, playing Joe’s father Thomas. And he’s really good in the role. Robert Glenister plays gangster Albert White, and he’s great in the role, giving quite a menacing performance. We also have Zoe Saldana as Graciela Suarez, a Cuban woman that Joe gets involved with down in Tampa, and she’s really good in the movie. Shit, this movie’s filled with solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and it was really good. It really doesn’t do anything unique, and isn’t overall something I’d find myself listening to at any time in the future. But it is overall dramatic, tense, and well composed, fitting the movie very well.

This movie was written and directed by Batman, I mean Ben Affleck. And I think he did a really good job with it. He manages to bring tension and a lot of flair to it which I really enjoyed. And the action scenes in this movie are tense, exciting, and just overall great. I also feel like I have to mention Robert Richardson’s cinematography, holy fuck it is gorgeous. Really, this movie is a visual treat. From a purely technical standpoint this movie is quite great… it’s a few other factors that slightly brings it down (you read them earlier).

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 34% (ouch) positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

“Live by Night” is a bit of a disappointment, but it’s still a competently put together gangster flick. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. But it (like I made clear) has some flaws. the plot gets quite meander-y near the second act, and with the plot overall feeling slightly dull. Also, Sienna Miller’s distractingly off Irish accent bugged me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Live by Night” is an 8,21/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d say that it’s worth a rental.

My review of “Live by Night” is now completed.

The movie kept the book’s best dialog exchange at least… kudos for that.

We now have a trailer for “Live by Night”

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen of the internet. I am back once again to talk about a trailer. I know, it happens quite a bit nowadays, but that’s just because so many interesting trailers are coming out. So let’s talk about this one.

As the title of this post tells you, we now have a trailer for “Live by Night”, a movie based on the novel of the same name written by Dennis Lehane. Now, before we get into what this movie is about, let me tell you my specific reasons as to why I decided to talk about this one today. First off, it is a pretty cool trailer. And secondly, it’s based on a book that I have read and absolutely love. Also, that book was written by my favorite author, so I’m of course instantly interested. So I guess you could say that this is a pretty personal thing for me. Now, with all that said… what is this about. “Live by Night” is about Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck), a man who gets into some shit with mobsters and then himself starts truly becoming one. And that’s as vague as I’m gonna keep it, because the story that plays out is pretty phenomenal… in the book at least. Now, do I think this movie looks good? Yes! Ben Affleck is a great actor and director, so I am glad that he’s the one handling this movie. This looks intense, badass, dramatic, and overall good. I would also say that the cast looks pretty great. Though it is kind of weird to have Scott Eastwood as Danny Coughlin, the older brother of Joe Coughlin who’s played by Ben Affleck, who’s about 14 years older than Eastwood. Oh well, whatever. I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I am really excited about this movie. Ben Affleck did a great job directing “Gone Baby Gone”, which was also based on a Dennis Lehane novel. And he’s become better and better as both a director and an actor, so I don’t think I have much to worry about. “Live by Night” is set for a limited US release in December, and then a wide release in January.

So what are you thoughts? Are you looking forward to Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night”? And are you a fan of the original novel? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer!

Beyond the Cover Blogathon: Shutter Island

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Hello there, ladies and gentlemen of the internets. I believe you’re asking yourself what the hell is going on here, and don’t worry, I will explain it all to you. I decided about a week ago(ish) that I would take part in a Blogathon held by the terrific Kristina of Speakeasy and the also terrific Liz of Now, Voyaging. The theme of this Blogathon is “Beyond the Cover”, or “Movies based on Books” as the simple man would call it. I found the idea rather intriguing and had the thought “Hey, I read books and I watch movies… maybe I should take part?” and then I signed up. So now we’re here, ready to take on this topic.

The book/movie I have chosen is “Shutter Island”. The book came out in 2003 and was written by Dennis Lehane (Sidenote: He might honestly be my favorite author). Then the movie came out in 2010, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. As you might’ve been able to tell, this isn’t going to be a conventional review. Instead I will see what the movie did different to the book and also compare the characters and their interactions (Minor spoilers might occur). But I might still give you a normal review of the movie as well in a separate post because, why the fuck not. So let’s do this stuff.

Teddy Daniels
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Edward “Teddy” Daniels is the main protagonist of both the book and the movie (where he’s played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Overall there is no major difference between the two characters, both are U.S. marshals from Boston (Like all Lehane protagonists), both have the same backstory. The only real difference is that there is a slight difference in how he’s physically described in the book and how he’s portrayed in the movie. In the book we get a brief mention that his head is shaved and that he’s a pretty big guy. He is also supposed to look pretty rugged. And in the movie he has a decent amount of hair on his head and he is also not a particularly big guy and he has the face of a DiCaprio. He’s pretty average when it comes to his physical attributes. He is a troubled character, but that is one of the things that make him interesting. DiCpario also does a good job of playing him.

Chuck Aule.
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Chuck Aule is the partner who had been assigned to help Teddy with the investigation of Rachel Solando’s disappearance. In the movie he’s played Mark Ruffalo. What makes this comparison interesting is that there are some differences in both physical description (sort of). In the book he’s described as being about 5’9” (180 cm) tall and a maybe not in perfect shape. He also has hands that look a bit too small in proportion to the rest of the body. In the movie (like I said before) he is played by Mark Ruffalo who is about 5’8”. But with the rest of the appearance (hair/skin) it seems they are pretty close in resemblance. But the biggest difference comes to how he’s portrayed. Ruffalo plays him very well, actually nailing the essence of the character. But in the book he is fucking hilarious, constantly having great lines. In the book he acts as both a comic relief and a serious marshal who helps Teddy. But in the movie he doesn’t have nearly as much awesome stuff to say which is a little sad.

Dr. John Cawley
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Generally speaking, he’s the same. Nothing to add really. Ben Kingsley’s great.

 

Story
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The basic story is (for you unfamiliar few) that two U.S. marshals are sent to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient there. Basic plot is pretty much the same in both the book and the movie. The only differences come in the form of parts being left out. There is for example a part in the book where Teddy has an argument with his dead wife Dolores which ends with him accidentally cutting himself while shaving and being pissed at her. The ending is basically the same as well, I won’t go into detail about it because I’m sure there are at least a few out there who haven’t read the book or seen the film. I’m just saying, they’re basically the same with minor changes done in the film.

Dialogue

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LD – “Ya know that asshole, Markus?” BK – “Yes?” LD – “Yeah, he’s got a great blog.”

This might seem like an odd topic to bring up, but it’s one that I’ve been givin’ some thinkin’ over the past… day. To prepare for this post I read through the book (for the fourth time) and also rewatched the movie (third or fourth time seeing it) and I noticed some things regarding the dialogue in the movie. While the basics of it is intact, a good amount of dialogue has either been altered or removed. I mentioned before how Chuck doesn’t say as much fun stuff as he does in the book, and that’s just the start of it. Relatively large chunks of dialogue that existed in the book has been removed, including a good amount of dialogue from the final confrontation near the end. Having read the book and then moving on to the film in such a quick succession makes these changes very clear which actually annoys me a little bit. I guess a lot of these exchanges were cut out to keep the runtime on the shorter side, but I wouldn’t mind if they made the movie a bit longer to keep those really interesting bits of dialogue in it. But I guess they wanted to keep it at a higher pace and not keep people watching for “too” long… *sigh*.
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What the movie did well
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The previous bit might’ve made me sound like I was just complaining about the film, so let’s just relax and quickly talk about what it did right. The plot holds very well, Scorsese’s directing is terrific, all of the performances are somewhere between really good and fantastic, the music choices (though few) are great, the cinematography is gorgeous and the ending (if you think about it) is absolutely terrific. The movie is also very suspenseful makes for a really interesting and gripping watch.

Conclusion
So those were my thoughts on the book/movie differences for “Shutter Island”. What do you think of this movie? What do you think of the book? Leave any and all thoughts you have in the comments. Also, I might post a regular review for it as well in the near future. So maybe look forward to that! With that said, I will now leave you with a goodbye of some kind and my favorite image/still from the movie.
Have a good one!
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Movie Review: Gone Baby Gone (2007)

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Stories of disappearances and kidnappings are things that I absolutely hate hearing about, but unfortunately they will always find a way to surface. Sure, there are cases where the missing people have been found and everything is happy-go-lucky again and that is always great to hear. But then unfortunately we have the stories of those who are never found or when they are found they are dead. And with that depressing start, let’s talk about a movie!

Guys and gals… “Gone Baby Gone”.

“Gone Baby Gone” is based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane and is about private detectives Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan). One day they get hired by the McCreadys (Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver) to find their missing/abducted daughter/niece. But as this is based on a Dennis Lehane novel you can of course the plot to go a lot deeper than that with a lot of complexity and twists. And the movie follows on with that splendidly! Whenever there was a twist in this movie, it worked and i never saw them coming. The plot was also really well done and well presented. It is also pretty realistic and very grounded for a Hollywood thriller.

The characters all felt real, I felt like this is a person I could probably meet in the real world. The writing feels very real and not at all cheesy or silly. I am also happy to say that the performances in this movie are phenomenal! Casey Affleck was perfect as this troubled and almost broken young man. Monaghan was also terrific. And I don’t think I have to mention Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris and how great they were because… they are Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris. All the performances in this movie were fantastic and it really helped elevate the already great story.

The score by Harry Gregson-Williams was fantastic. Not only because I have been a fan of him for a long time, but also because it was legitimately great. For the most part the score was based around piano and a little bit of stringed intruments (Mainly violin). It helped build a lot of atmosphere, suspense and beauty in every scene. There were also a few licensed tracks used throughout, but they only helped in some way whenever they were used. So overall, the music in this movie was great.

This movie is directed by Ben Affleck and I have to say, I am having a really fucking hard time believing this is his feature film debut. It is so professionally directed and shot that you think he has made a bunch of movies before. But this is only his first (Holy shit). Also, a small (and unnecessary) thing I have picked up is that this is one of two movies Affleck has been involved with that has the word “Gone” in the title (The other being “Gone Girl”). Don’t know why I picked up on that, I just did. Like I said, this movie is based on the Dennis Lehane novel. The funny thing is that I own the book… but I haven’t read it yet. And that is a bit of a shame because I am a fan of Lehane and his work. This is also one of four movies (that I know of) that currently exists based on Lehane novels. The other ones are “Mystic River”, “Shutter Island” and “The Drop”. So far he got some pretty fucking great adaptations.

This movie was pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. Roger Ebert really seemed to like this movie as he gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actress (Amy Ryan).

“Gone Baby Gone” is a complex, well written, superbly acted, reall well directed movie with a terrific score. Time for my final score. *Clears throat* My final score for “Gone Baby Gone” is a 9,77/10 which of course gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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I have now reviewed “Gone Baby Gone”.

Markus, where are my socks? Gone, baby… Gone.

Movie Review: The Drop (2014)

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I am a big sucker for a good crime story. If something (movie/tv/games) with a crime story looks interesting to me. So then I found out that there was a movie that was a crime story written by Dennis Lehane, author of books like “Shutter Island” and “Mystic River”. So of course I got pretty excited. Now I have finally seen it and I am ready to talk about it.

Ladies and gents… “The Drop”.

“The Drop” is about Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) who works at a bar with his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini, R.I.P). But this isn’t a regular bar, oh no. It is a so called “Drop bar” that sort of funnels cash around to different mobsters. But one night the place gets robbed and shit starts going downhill. I thought the plot was great. The reason I didn’t say too much is because it is best experienced. It is a really good plot with a few twists here and there. There is also a sort of sub-plot on the side with Bob finding a dog in a trashcan and befriending a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace). And that works too, I liked it. The only problem I have with the plot is that the main stuff takes a while to get started. Not bringing the movie down too much, but it still tick’s me off a little.

The characters in this movie are well-written and spectacularly acted. Bob for instance may seem like a calm person who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but believe me when I say he got tons and tons of rage built up inside of him that you don’t wanna expeience. Tom Hardy portrays him pefectly. James Gandolfini is also great as this guy, Marv. I mean… he is James Gandolfini. Noomi Rapace is also great as this woman who Hardy’s character befriends. The characters are all great.

Even though I cannot for the life of me find the composer for the OST of the movie I can still say that I really like it. It reminds me in a lot of ways of the soundtracks by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, cold and slow. They all help build a suspenseful atmosphere in the movie that stayed with me throughout. The choices for the licensed tracks were good too.

Even though I am a big fan of Dennis Lehane I was a little worried going into the movie. Last time I saw a movie with a screenplay by an acclaimed author was when Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men) wrote the screenplay for the terrible “The Counselor”. Thankfully the screenplay and overall writing in the movie is terrific. I am going to be completely honest, everytime someone opened their mouth I was very interested. Everything they said was great. This movie was also terrifically shot. This movie is directed by Michaël R. Roskam who made the Oscar nominated foreign film “Bullhead”. Every shot looks great, the framing is great, everything relating to the direction and camera work in this movie was great.

This movie was well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on good ol’ imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“The Drop” got a good story, great characters and acting, a really good soundtrack, great camera work and a great script but takes a little while to get going. Now for my final score. My final score for “The Drop” is an 8,98/10. I highly recommend it and I do think it is worth buying.
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Review of “The Drop” is now completed.

No, no, drop it… DROP IT!

Recent Purchases: Episode 6

Well hello there! How nice to see you again, you’re looking good! How are you doing? Haha, I don’t care! (Okay, I care a little). Now it’s time for something that hasn’t shown up in quite a while… “Recent Purchases”. Ya know, that “series” where I tell you about some of my most recent purchases of movies/books/stuff. Now why am I still babbling this starting shit? I don’t know! So let’s jump to the main event, shall we? Okay, 3 2 1 LET’S GO!

DVD: The Dark Knight (2008)
Watchmen (2009)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
The Way, Way Back (2013)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Unforgiven (1992)
The Social Network (2010)
Batman Returns (1992)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Terminator (1984)
Books: Silence of The Lambs (Thomas Harris, 1988)
Mystic River (Dennis Lehane, 2001)
And that was really it for this time. I hope you somehow managed to enjoy reading that because I am now done with this post!

See ya!