Movie Review: The Color of Money (1986)

Pool. Also known as billiards. Something I’m not particularly good at, but I still enjoy playing it with friends. Now let’s see how well that sport can translate into a movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Color of Money”.

The story follows former pool hustler Eddie Felson (Paul Newman, R.I.P) as he starts delving back into that world when he takes young Vincent (Tom Cruise) under his wing. So now we have a road movie/comeback story/passing a torch kind of story, and it’s a good one. While it tries to have several kinds of story at the same time, it never feels cluttered or messy, as it blends these elements quite well. Now, it does feel a bit uneven in parts, but it doesn’t break the movie for me, more like bring it down a notch. But overall it’s still an enjoyable and pretty interesting story.

The characters here are colorful, layered, interesting, and overall entertaining. First up we have Paul Newman (may he rest in peace) playing “Fast” Eddie Felson, a former pool hustler who now seems to be making a living selling whisky. But he finds a new purpose when he discovers this young man he can teach. He’s a complex man who goes through quite a bit of development throughout the movie. And Newman is of course fantastic in the role. Next we have a young Tom Cruise as Vincent, the new protegé of Felson. He’s an energetic, fast-talking, and skilled pool player that at first seems reluctant to be taken under Felson’s wing, but soon warms up to it. He too gets a fair bit of development throughout the movie. And Cruise is good in the role. And then we have Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen, Vincent’s girlfriend. She’s tough, she’s independent, and quite clever, she’s really a good foil for Vincent’s energetic and fun nature. And Mastrantonio is really good in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like John Turturro, Helen Shaver, Bill Cobbs, and more, all doing quite well in their respective roles. So yeah, it’s a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Robbie Robertson was good, had a fun, slightly blues-y feel to it that worked well for the movie. Then there were a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only were they pleasing to my music tastes, but they worked incredibly well within their respective scenes, elevating them a fair bit. So yeah, this movie has some damn good music.

Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, this movie was directed by Martin Scorsese who I think did a really good job. He really managed to catch the fun but also somewhat unpredictable nature of bars/pool halls, and even managed to keep a good bit of energy going through it all. I also have to mention the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus, because it’s fucking excellent. Not only are there a good amount of stunning shots, but the camera work here is really playful and makes for quite a fun watch.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Actor (Newman). It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Mastrantonio), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Set Decoration. 

“The Color of Money” is an enjoyable little sports drama. It has a good story, good characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by the plot feeling a little uneven in parts. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Color of Money” is an 8,82/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Color of Money” is now completed.

Guess I should check out “The Hustler” at some point.

Movie Review: Street Kings (2008)

I’m all for the police. They’re needed to uphold the law. But then we have some cases of corruption within the department, which makes some people blame the police in it’s entirety, which I think is unfair. Just because you find one spoiled apple in a bunch, do you throw away all of them? If you are, then you’re wasting a bunch of perfectly good apples, you fucking dick. Point is, don’t blame everyone… just the individual.

Ladies and gents… “Street Kings”.

Detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) isn’t really what you’d call a good cop, as his methods for taking bad guys down are usually a bit… extreme. And when an old partner of his gets killed, he goes on a quest to find the assholes who did it. And to do this he teams up with a young and less corrupt cop named Diskant (Chris Evans). So now we have a gritty cop story about corruption and death and cover-ups and revenge and such. And is this plot good? Eh. I see a lot of potential in this story, and at times it grasps for the greatness… but doesn’t quite reach it. It feels like they just kind of skimmed the surface of this plot, not quite getting there. Maybe it’s the runtime/pacing? It’s only about an hour and fortyfive minutes long, and it never really takes a break to develop the plot or let moments actually simmer and have any effect. I could definitely see this as a show on HBO or Netflix where it could get some time to develop. But overall it is… fine.

The characters here are for the most part just a bunch of unlikable assholes… so it’s hard to get invested when you don’t really like any of them. They’re not even really that interesting, they’re just… unlikable assholes. Keanu Reeves in this… I usually love Keanu, but here he is one of those previously mentioned unlikable assholes. Though I’ll say this, he gives a really good performance here. Forest Whitaker plays Keanu’s boss in this, and he’s probably one of the more likable characters in this, even if he is a bit of a shady dick. His performance is great though. Chris Evans in this plays one of the less shady cops in this, and he’s also not a total dick, so that’s great. And he gives a really good performance here. Hugh Laurie plays the captain of internal affairs in this, and he is great here. Jay Mohr (first time he’s mentioned on the blog… weird) plays one of Keanu’s colleagues, and he’s also kind of a dick… and he gives a good performance. Amaury Nolasco plays another one of Keanu’s colleagues, and he’s also a dick in this… and he gives a pretty good performance. Then there’s a bunch of good supporting performances in the movie too, including from Naomie Harris, Common, Terry Crews, John Corbett, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Graeme Revell and it was pretty good. It was serious and gritty, fitting the urban style of the movie. Really, there isn’t a lot to say about it. It’s not very original, and it’s not very memorable. It’s just some okay music that worked pretty well for the movie.

This movie was directed by Daivd Ayer and I think he did a pretty good job. While the movie isn’t visually unique, it does actually look good. His direction has (in lack of a better word) grit to it, really capturing the dangerous and unpredictable feel of this world. And the action scenes in this movie are good. They’re badass, brutal, and pretty exciting. Definitely the highlight(s) of the movie.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 55/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

Despite the great idea it presents, “Street Kings” is quite shallow and becomes just… fine. It has an okay plot, meh characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing. As previously mentioned, my flaws with it comes from the plot not being great and the characters being unlikable. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Street Kings” is a 6,98/10. So while flawed, it’s worth renting.

My review of “Street Kings” is now completed.

Who’s coming with me to reboot this as a show?

“Black Panther” trailer!

Hello there guys, hope you’re doing well. Well, time to talk about a new trailer!

So we have gotten our first trailer for “Black Panther”, the next next next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that would make it the MCU’s 18th movie, Jesus fucking Christ, that’s a lot of movies. Anyhow, so what’s this about then? Well, it’s about T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the new ruler of Wakanda, a fictional African country, defending his homeland as the titular Dark Feline. And that’s about all I can say. You want a full, possibly spoiler-filled disection of the trailer, go somewhere else. I just give you the news of this trailer’s existence. But you already knew about it because every person and their cat has written/vlogged about it. Still, what do I think? I’m excited. This looks badass, and Black Panther’s appearance in “Captain America: Civil War” just made me want more of the character, because Chadwick Boseman was awesome. And the cast here too is just amazing. It’s also nice to see Andy Serkis actually showing his face for once and not doing performance capture. So yeah, I’m pretty fucking excited for this movie. “Black Panther” is set to be released in February of 2018.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “Black Panther”? And what did you think of his appearance in “Civil War”? Leave any and all answers in the comments!
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer!

Movie Review: Arrival (2016)

The universe. An infinite space that has been fascinating us puny humans since the damn of man. What kind of worlds are out there? How far does it actually reach? And are we alone in the universe? We may never find out the answers to any of these questions, but they sure as shit are interesting to think about and discuss.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Arrival”.

Giant banana-shaped vessels have come down to earth. The military and government do not know what these alien things want. So language expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams) gets brought in to try to communicate with the aliens and find out what they’re doing here. And now we have an intelligent drama with aliens in it. Firstly, a plot about trying to communicate with aliens is actually quite refreshing. Most “aliens coming to earth” movies are about aggressive invasions, but this isn’t really that. It’s a clever spin on the “aliens coming to earth” genre of movies. The plot overall is also really suspenseful because for most of the movie you don’t know what these aliens want. The plot also has a surprising amount of emotion that really got to me. I should also mention that this is quite slow-paced, which might put some people off. But I appreciate it, gives me time to really soak in everything that’s going on. Really, it’s quite a fascinating science fiction-drama plot that I think was pretty fucking great.

The characters in this movie are all interesting in some way. Amy Adams was fantastic as Louise Banks. She’s a deep and complex character and I was really invested in arc in the movie as she was trying to find ways to communicate with these aliens. Jeremy Renner is great as Ian, a scientist that is helping Louise with the alien communication. Forest Whitaker plays a soldier that is part of this operation and he was great in his role. We also got Michael Stuhlbarg as a CIA agent that is part of the operation and he was really good in the role. Yeah, there were no bad performances in this movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Jóhann Jóhansson and it was absolutely fantastic. His score was eerie, tense, thought provoking, and just fit the scenes incredibly well. They also used Max Richter’s “On the nature of Daylight” in the movie. Not gonna say how if you haven’t seen the movie, but let’s just say that it was pretty damn good how it was used.

This movie was directed by Denis Villeneuve (one of my favorite directors) and once again he knocked ith out of the fucking park with the directing. He makes scenes flow very well and his directing really helps to improve on the storytelling. I also have to comment on Bradford Young’s cinematography which is stunning, it is an absolutely gorgeous movie. And while the visual effects aren’t necessarily the main focus in this movie, they are there and they look fantastic. Most big sci-fi movies will have the visual effects there for the sake of looking flashy and cool, but here they exist to serve the story.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best sound editing. It was also nominated for an additional 7 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best cinematography, Best film editing, Best sound mixing, and Best production design. 

“Arrival” is a fantastic science fiction-drama. It has a fantastic plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, fantastic directing/cinematography, and great visual effects. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Arrival” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Arrival” is now completed.

It’s official… I am excited for “Blade Runner 2049”. Villeneuve will succeed!

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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Guys… motherfucking “Star Wars”! No clever intro needed!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is a young woman who has joined forces with the Rebellion to try to find the plans for the Empire’s new superweapon… the Death Star. That’s it really. Erso together with a ragtag group of rebels trying to get hold of the Death Star plans. And it’s a really good plot. There are a bunch of layers to it all, which I thought was a really cool aspect of it. The biggest flaw of the plot really is that it takes a little while to get going. There is a while in the beginning that sets up the story and characters and it’s a little slow. It’s not bad per se, I was entertained… but it’s worth mentioning to be quite honest. But everything after that setup… great stuff.

The characters in this movie are pretty interesting and they worked well for the movie. Felicity Jones did a really good job as Jyn Erso, playing this tough, determined, young woman that has a bit of a tragic past. Diego Luna was really good as his character, this Rebel captain that becomes part of Jyn’s group. Donnie Yen played Chirrut Îmwe, a blind man with a strong connection to the force. And he was really badass and gave us a really good performance. Wen Jiang plays Baze Malbus, Chirrut’s friend/sidekick and he was also really good. Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook was also really good. Alan Tudyk played K-2SO, a big droid. And he was so great, the character was so cool and so much fun. Ben Mendelsohn was really good as Imperial director Orson Krennic. He was a bit over the top, but in a way that actually really worked for the character. Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen are both really good too. Now, let’s get to the character everybody wonders about… Salacious B. Crumb. Nah, just kidding. It’s actually Darth Vader. Now, this can be considered a mild spoiler, but I also wanna get it out there. He isn’t in the movie very much, this isn’t a Darth Vader movie, don’t go in expecting a Darth Vader movie. He didn’t really have to be in the movie, but I’m still glad he was. His role may have been minor, but god damn… it was pretty awesome. Again, he was used VERY sparingly in the movie, so don’t expect fifty-five-billion Darth Vader scenes.

This is the first “Star Wars” movie not to be scored by the one and only John Williams. What’s interesting is that the movie was originally going to be scored by Alexandre Desplat, but he dropped out for some reason. So Michael Giacchino stepped up to the challenge. And it was really a challenge for him, he only had four weeks to score the movie. But despite that, he did a great job. Sure, there are a lot of familiar motifs throughout, but most of them are worked into some of Giacchino’s new tracks, and it all sounded absolutely terrific. The score was epic and it fit the movie perfectly.

This movie was directed by Gareth Edwards and I think he did a very good job. The movie had a lot of grit and intensity in it’s direction, which is something we haven’t seen really with previous “Star Wars” movies. What I also loved about his directing is the same thing I always praise about his “Godzilla” movie… you get a real sense of scale here. You really get to see a lot of size differences which really helps it all feel a bit more real. An example is (like we’ve seen in the trailer) how during a battle we get to see AT-ATs from the perspective of the people and how these machines look gigantic. Speaking of the battles, Jesus fuckin’ Christ, they are awesome! Again, there’s a lot of grit and intensity in the directing which makes the battles feel so much more grounded and badass. We not only get the ground battles, but also space battles… and those are really awesome too. You can tell that Edwards knew what he was doing when directing this. Which kind of segues into the visual effects, and all of them look amazing. Okay, there was one digital face thingy in the movie that looked a little off, but for the msot part the visual effects are amazingly good. There was also a surprising amount of humor in this movie. Really funny humor at that.

Any scores from review sites can and will change over time since the movie just came out. Anyway, on Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is another great part in this beloved franchise. It’s not the best “Star Wars” movie, but it’s still pretty damn good. It has a really solid plot, good characters, really good performances, great music, terrific direction/action, and amazing visual effects. The only problem was that the slow(ish) opening act. Time for my final score. Ah.. Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars! Gimme those Star Wars.. don’t let them end! My final score for “Rogue One: A Star Wars” story is a 9,59/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is now completed.

What’s this? An actual Star WAR? Holy shit.

Movie Review: Southpaw (2015)

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It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger

Ladies and gentlemen… “Southpaw”.

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is boxer, and a damn good one at that. I mean the guy is the junior middleweight world champion. Well, he is that until something happens. Something that makes him lose everything. So now he has to find a way to work his as back up in life, and for that he takes help/training from Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). And I have to say that rarely have the plot of a movie depressed me as much as “Southpaw”. Without spoiling anything, let me just say that Billy’s life goes from fine, to bad, to shit, to lowest low. And with his life falling down, so goes your emotional dominoes. That’s right, the plot made me feel like shit and I think that is a bit of a plus. I even have to admit that there were a few points where I almost teared up a bit. Sure, the story is cliché in a lot of ways, but the movie uses those clichés to it’s advantage and that is a good reason for me to like it.

I think it goes without saying that Jake Gyllenhaal is fucking phenomenal in the movie as boxer Billy Hope. Te guy has proven himself time and time again that he is one of the best actors working today and this is jsut another example of his talents. He commits to the role both physically and mentally and is perfect in the role. Forest Whitaker gives one of, if not the best performance of his in recent years. Rahcel McAdams is also really good as Gyllenhaal’s wife. 50 Cent is also in this movie, basically playing Jake Gyllenhaal’s manager and he is actually realld good in the role. In the movie we also have relative newcomer Oona Laurence playing Gyllenhaal’s daughter and I would say she gives a damn fine performance. I rarely like child performances, but she was really good in the movie. Everybody did a great job in the movie.

The score for the movie was provided by the late (and great) James Horner. It is emotional, it is a little thought-provoking and it is pretty damn good. And the use of all the licensed rap songs is perfect. Sure, if you’re not a fan of rap music then you might not enjoy them, but I liked the songs and I thought they fit perfectly.

This movie was directed by Antoine Fuqua and you notice that he was very passionate about this project. You can see how much effort he put down to make sure this movie was as well directed as possible. The overall direction is great, but where it excels is in the boxing scenes which are intense, fierce and brutal. I especially kind of love the first-person shots they sometimes do where you see the actor throw punches at the camera and you see it weave away and dodge, those shots were really cool. Here is a little fun fact for you: This movie was intended as a follow-up to “8 Mile”, this movie was even set to star Eminem. But since there were some scheduling conflicts, Eminem had to drop out and the part went to Gyllenhaal, which may or may not have been for the better.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 59% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Southpaw” is a movie that features a pretty cliché story that actually uses the clichés to it’s advantage while also having great emotion, great acting, great music and great directing. Time for my final score. AAAAAAAHHHHHH! My final score for “Southpaw” is a 9,84/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPOVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

Review of “Southpaw” is now completed.

Did you see how much Gyllenhaal beefed up for this? Jesus Christ.

Movie Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

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Don’t you just love it when a movie gets very mixed reviews and it makes you think “What will I think of it”? That have happened to me a good amount of times. Sure, it has decreased recently…but this movie has been nibbling my mind for a few months now. This movie has gotten both good and bad reviews all over the fucking place. But what did I think of it?

Men and women…”Out of the Furnace”!

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) does not have it easy. First he was in a traffic accident where he accidentally killed a child, sat in jail, his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Zaldana) left him and his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) got involved in illegal bare knuckled fighting. The reason Rodney fights is to make money to pay back a debt to John Petty (Willem Dafoe). Also his father is sick and dying (actually he dies when Russell is in prison). So the only family he got when he gets out is his brother and his uncle Gerald “Red” Baze (Sam Shepard). Russell also works at a steel mill. When he finds out his little brother Rodney is taking part in these fights, he of course wants him out…and Rodney starts yelling and swearing at him. A little while later Rodney wants to start getting involved in even more illegal and dangerous fights that are supervised by the fucking psychopath Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). When Rodney then goes missing, Russell starts taking the investigation into his own hands. That was difficult since that is the main plot without spoilers…and writing it out without spoilers is more difficult than it seems (at least with this movie). The story in it’s basic state, is simple. But the way this movie is directed makes everything a whole lot more interesting, especially since it has a kind of slow start. But the story is good…but gets boring every now and then, which is not the best for your movie Mr. Scott Cooper. Otherwise, good story.

The characters are so flawed, you have no fucking idea how flawed they are. But it’s what makes them so great to watch. A lot of the characters I want to punch in the face at one point or the other. And the fact that a fictional character can get under your skin that much is just a proof of how great acting we got here. All characters here are incredibly well acted. For example: With Christian Bale’s character Russell you don’t see Batman or Patrick Bateman…you see this steel mill worker. Casey Affleck also gives the best performance I’ve ever seen from him (take into account that I have not seen “Gone, Baby, Gone”). But the best in this movie goes to Woody Harrelson as Harlan DeGroat…what a disgusting piece of shit he is. And that Harrelson can make me feel that way about a character he plays is just incredible. I mean, he just makes this drug addict pyschopath so believable and just the highlight of this movie…he really stole the show. I also have to give some credit to the fantastic chemistry between the Baze brothers (Bale and Affleck). They make it so believable that I just love it. It also feels great seeing Christian Bale relaxed and happy in a role as you see in a few of the scenes.

The music is one of the best parts of this movie. It relies heavily on the guitar…but not too much. The soundtrack is what gives this movie its edge and great feel of subtlety. It works out great to give the feeling it wants to give you. The soundtrack by Dickon Hinchliffe is just fucking excellent. I love it.

Fun fact: for the role, Christian Bale actually learned how to operate a furnace, so the work he does at the steel mill in this movie is legit and believable. Here is a thing, the imdb synopsis says “When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn’t follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.” But that don’t happen until a good 50 minutes into the movie. Just warning you. I can also mention that this movie looks beautiful. And, oh yeah! The final shot in this movie just seems weird and I don’t know why it’s there. Not saying what it is…you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. And one more thing (sorry). This movie is violent, so don’t watch it if you’re squeamish.

Like I previously mentioned, reception for this movie was very mixed. Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a 52% rating which is not the best sign. Metacritic however gave it a 63/100 which I find odd since they usually have lower scores than Rotten Tomatoes and everything else. While I couldn’t find any Roger Ebert thing about this (Mainly by the fact that he had passed away before this came out), I still found a good quote for this movie.

“While it may not make the most of its incredible cast, Out of the Furnace is still so packed with talent that it’s hard to turn away.”

It got an imdb ranking of 6,9/10.

Based on what I have said from my perspective of this movie you’re probably sitting there thinking “Markus, it really sounds like you really like this movie! You’ll probably give it a high score!”. Ehhh, I really want to…but I can’t. This movie had so much going for it, it really did. But it just falls short based on how boring it is at times and of how much more complex they have to make this simple story! This movie gets a 7,52/10 (that is fairly low in my book). What carries this movie mostly are its strong performances and amazing soundtrack. So I suggest you rent it, this movie is not a buy.

I have pulled this review Out of the Furnace (sorry for the pun).

See ya.