Movie Review: Goodfellas (1990)

Yes, you got that right. I only now got to this “must watch” piece of cinema. Shut up.

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 gents… “Goodfellas”.

As far back as he could remember, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) always wanted to be a gangster *brass music plays*. And throughout the movie we follow his rise within the mob, giving us all the ups and downs. And yes, we’ve seen this kind of shit in a bunch of movies before. But I don’t think I’ve seen it done this well before. The movie is two hours and twenty minutes long, but you never feel that runtime thanks to writing that is equal parts dramatically compelling and pure entertainment value. It crackles along at a good pace, while still presenting us with situations that last with the viewers, even after the credits have rolled. It doesn’t do the slow, methodical approach that “The Godfather” used, instead opting for a more popcorn-friendly style still rises above most basic gangster stories.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, colorful, entertaining, and just overall really interesting. Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill, the man at the center of the story with dreams of being the next big gangster. His journey from small time crook to where he eventually ends up is quite fascinating, and he’s one of the most compelling protagonists I’ve had the pleasure of following in anything I’ve watched recently. And Liotta is great in the role. Next we have Lorraine Bracco as Karen, Henry’s wife. Seeing her journey alongside Henry is quite interesting, especially since she becomes a bit of a conflicted character that has a really interesting rapport with Henry and his story. And Bracco is great in the role. Next we have Joe Pesci as Tommy, Henry’s friend and a fellow gangster. He’s a very short-tempered guy who makes for a lot of unpredictable scenes, which is all I’ll say about him. And Pesci is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

What’s interesting about the music in “Goodfellas” is that there is no typical score. No composer, no orchestra… jack shit. Instead there’s a lot of licensed music, mostly period accurate rock songs, that get used throughout to help set the mood and tell the story. And god damn it, the use of said songs here is fucking spectacular, partly because there’s a lot of music in there I genuinely like in general, but also because the director (and possibly editor) has a good fucking grasp of how to utilize a song throughout a scene.

Based on a book called “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi, the movie was co-written by Pileggi and Martin Scorsese, with Scorsese of course handling direction. And really, what else can I say that hasn’t been said before? This shit is immaculate. The blend of the writing and directing here creates a crackling energy that makes it an absolute blast to watch. Never does it feel dull. There are a few moments where it risks slipping into it, but then it picks up again, like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 89/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,7/10 and is ranked #18 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actor (Pesci). It was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actress (Bracco), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, and Best film editing.

I don’t think I’m bringing anything new to the table when I say that “Goodfellas” is fucking rad. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Goodfellas” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Goodfellas” is now completed.

I see why people like this so much.

Movie Review: The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

We all have to live with what we’ve done. Good, bad, doesn’t matter.

Ladies and gents… “The Place Beyond the Pines”.

A motorcycle stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) has to take drastic measures to be able to financially support his family. We also have a police officer (Bradley Cooper) who wants to move up in his field. And these men will find their stories crossing paths in some manner. Trying to stay vague while not misrepresenting this story is hard. But what I can say is that this is a slowly burning drama with a few action-thriller elements. Don’t expect an exciting cat-and-mouse game between the two leads, because that’s not what it fucking is. It’s a layered story about family, legacy, and fate. It has a structure that might throw a lot of people off. Not because it’s hard to follow, because it’s not, it’s very straight-forward. But it’s not your typical one thread narrative. It’s one thread that connects to another that connects to another, creating a bit of a web that I find quite intriguing.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, realistic, and just overall interesting. And that’s as deep as I’ll go on them, thinking that this is one of those movies where it’s better to know less about the characters when you want to get into it. But I can say that the cast is fantastic, including people like Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Mahershala Ali, Dane DeHaan, Bruce Greenwood, Rose Byrne, and Emory Cohen (among many others). Not a weak link in this cast, everyone’s fantastic.

The score for this movie was composed by Mike Patton. That’s right, Faith No More frontman and voice of The Darkness composed a film score. And I think he actually did a good job. It has a unique, almost ethereal style that I don’t think I’ve really heard in any other movie. It’s so odd, but it works so well for the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout that work well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Derek Cianfrance, and I think he did a great job with it. His directing is tight, never letting including any unnecessary fluff. All the shots in this have a purpose. What I also appreciate about his direction is that he uses a couple different styles. For most of the movie, the camera is steady. But when the action scenes happen, it goes to a more handheld style á la Paul Greengrass. But these changes in camerawork doesn’t hurt the movie in any way, as they’re both handled expertly.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“The Place Beyond the Pines” isn’t for everybody, but I certainly think it’s a great movie. I think it has a really good plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Place Beyond the Pines” is now completed.

To those who think Ryan Gosling doesn’t emote enough, look at his eyes.

Movie Review: Stretch (2014)

Based on everything that happens in movies and TV, I get the feeling that I shouldn’t ever go to Los Angeles. Seems a bit dangerous and unpredictable.

Ladies and gents… “Stretch”.

We follow a guy known as “Stretch” (Patrick Wilson), a down-on-his-luck limo driver in Los Angeles. In the past he had a problem with gambling addiction and currently struggles to pay off his bookie. So to get money to pay it off he takes on a new client, an extremely eccentric man (Chris Pine), which leads to the craziest night of his entire life. So now we have our plot. And I’d say it’s good. Sure, it isn’t exactly what I’d call award worthy or groundbreaking, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a relatively straight-forward crime plot filled with all kinds of craziness. And it was really fun seeing where this job would take Stretch next. It’s weird, it’s kind of silly, but it’s a lot of fun.

The characters in this are fun, interesting, and incredibly colorful. Stretch is a failed actor currently working as a limo driver, and he has a slightly cynical outlook on life. And you see him go through a bit of an arc in this movie and it’s actually kind of fun witnessing. And Patrick Wilson is great in the role. Jessica Alba plays Charlie, Stretch’s dispatcher/colleague, and she’s good in the role. Chris Pine plays Roger Karos, the extremely eccentric person that Stretch gets tasked with driving around. He’s weird, he’s off-kilter, and he’s the least Chris Pine that Chris Pine has ever been in a movie. And Pine is great in the role. Then we have Ed Helms in a role that I will not explain because it’s best experienced on your own, because it’s weird and quite funny. But Helms does a really good job. And then there are a whole bunch of solid supporting performances from people like James Badge Dale, Jason Mantzoukas, and Brooklyn Decker. There are also some fun cameos in this movie that I will not spoil.

The score for this movie was composed by Ludwig Göransson and it was good. It’s stylish and lean a lot into techno/electronica. It kind of reminds me of the score to “Drive” at times, but with a less retro feel to it, having a much more modern sound. And while I generally don’t like listening to that kind of music, I feel like it worked quite well for the movie. There were some licensed tracks used throughout as well that worked well in their scenes.

This movie was directed by Joe Carnahan and I think he did a good job. The movie looks good and his direction gives the movie a lot of energy which keeps it at a brisk pace, keeping it from getting boring or slow. And since this is a comedy we should talk about the humor in this movie. And while I think it can divide people, I found it quite funny. It’s weird, dark, and kind of fucked up, which made me laugh quite a bit throughout. Combine that with Carnahan’s energetic direction and you get a lot of fun. Trust me, I did the math.

This movie wasn’t really a big release, so it barely exists on the sites I usually use here. But on Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a page, but no score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

“Stretch” won’t win any awards, but it is quite a fun movie. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, really directing, and really funny humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Stretch” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Stretch” is now completed.

I need more Patrick Wilson in my life.

Movie Review: Identity (2003)

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? I don’t mean in real life, because murder is fucking horrible, but I mean in movies and television shows. There’s something about murder mysteries that I just love. Even when they’re not that great and kind of formulaic (like most crime procedurals), I still enjoy watching them.

Ladies and gents… “Identity”.

It was a dark and stormy night… what, I’m not trying to be funny, it was actually dark and stormy. Anyway, a group of strangers find themselves stranded at a motel in the middle of nowhere during this weird storm. And soon they start getting killed off one by one. Basically it’s “And then there were none” in a shitty Nevada motel. But that is a formula that has proven successful in many different movies and shows, so maybe it could work here too. And while there are a lot of conveniences in this plot, it is still overall an eerie and suspenseful mystery. I found myself invested in this plot, trying to figure out who the hell was guilty. There are also a few twists in this movie that I will not spoil, but let me just say that they will polarize audiences. I for one thought they were for the most part pretty good. It’s really hard to explain why some of them worked so well without spoiling the twists, but I honestly thought that they did work pretty well. The only twist I’m a bit iffy on is the final one. It’s not awful and doesn’t detract too much from the plot, but it did feel a bit odd. But overall this is an interesting mystery that has some flaws.

The characters in this movie are pretty shallow and not the most interesting. I didn’t really hate them, but I also didn’t love any of them… they were okay. But while the characters weren’t the most compelling, the performances were great. I wouldn’t exactly call any bad, all of them were good, so I’m just gonna list some of the actors. John Cusack, Ray Liotta, John C. McGinley, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Clea DuVall, William Lee Scott, Jake Busey, and Alfred Molina.

The score for the movie was composed by Alan Silvestri and it was great. The stuff he composed for this movie is eerie, tense, and just overall very well composed. It really helped elevate some of the scenes throughout.

This movie was directed by James Mangold and yes, I missed that this was a Mangold movie during the “Mangoldathon” and I feel a little bit of shame over that. Still, better late than never. Anyway, I thought he did a really good job here. The shots look great and he manages to create a good amount of suspense with his direction. The biggest problem with the directing is that there’s one obvious (and kind of dumb) jumpscare in the movie, but it doesn’t bring the movie down for me. It’s quick moment, over in a second, nothing to be angry about. But overall his directing here is really good. Really, this is a damn pretty movie.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 62% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Identity” is a really interesting albeit flawed thriller. It features a good plot, okay characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing. The flaws come from some notable conveniences and the final twist being a bit odd, and the characters aren’t really the most compelling. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Identity” is an 8,97/10. It’s flawed, but I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Identity” is now completed.

I’m so happy that this movie gave me an excuse to write “It was a dark and stormy night”… always wanted to do that.

Movie Review: Cop Land (1997)

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Hello there, ladies and gents. And welcome to the first part in a series of reviews that I’ve had in mind for a while. I have titled this series of reviews “The Mangoldathon”. The title of course comes from the fact that this series of reviews will cover movies by James Mangold, as a lead-up to “Logan” this March. Now to be clear, I will not review all of Mangold’s movies, just a handful. For example, I will not cover “3:10 to Yuma”, because I already did that back in the day when my reviews were total shit. But who knows, I might cover it again if you fuckers nag enough in the comments/on twitter. Anyhow, with that said… let the “Mangoldathon” begin!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to… “Cop Land”.

Freddy Haflin (Sylvester Stallone) is a good, honest, sheriff in a small New Jersey town. But soon he slowly discovers that his town is filled with corruption and cops that might have connections to the mob. And now we have a slowly burning crime-drama that kept me legitimately interested throughout the runtime. I found the plot really interesting and intriguing, if slightly predictable at times. There were a few things that I didn’t see coming, but for the most part it was pretty straightforward, which brings it down a little bit. But the plot overall was solid.

The characters in the movie were interesting and entertaining. Sylvester Stallone really impressed me in this movie. His performance was believable and actually pretty subtle, he really did a great job here. Harvey Keitel was great too as this older cop that we see a lot throughout the movie. Ray Liotta was also great as Stallone’s colleague/friend. And Robert De Niro was great as this internal affairs lieutenant. We also got some really good supporting performances from actors like Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick, and Michael Rapaport. All actors did a good job here.

The score for the movie was composed by Howard Shore and it was actually really good. It wasn’t one of those scores that I always noticed, but when I did I felt that it really helped improve the scene. It helped build up the drama/intensity in certain scenes. There were also a few licensed tracks throughout the movie that kind of worked in their respective scenes too.

This movie was (as stated in the intro) directed by James Mangold and for it only being his second feature film, he did a great job. The direction is slow and tense, and perfectly captures the feeling of unease one should expect from the type of situation that the plot is about. I’m not saying that it got under my skin or made me feel incredibly tense, but the situation definitely fent uneasy and like no one could be truly trusted… except for Stallone, but you get the point.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

“Cop Land” is a really good crime-drama. It has a good plot, interesting characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. However it gets brought down a bit by being kind of predictable. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Cop Land” is a 9,34/10. So it’s definitely worth buying!
worth-buying

My review of “Cop Land” is now completed.

Let the “Mangoldathon” commence!

Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

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Time to return to the world of comic books! Or to be more precise, graphic novels… but you get my point. You might remember that last year I reviewed the original “Sin City” and really liked it a lot. So now it is time to review the sequel. Will I like it as much as the original? Let’s have a look.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”.

On a quick sidenote, there will be some minor spoilers from the original “Sin City” in here, so tread carefully if you haven’t seen it.

Once again we have three separate storylines featuring some characters. Let’s start with the main one, the one that the movie is named after (A.K.A. “A Dame to Kill For”). This story is a prequel to the first movie and follows Dwight (Josh Brolin). He has tried to put his violent past behind him and now works as a private detective. But his past comes haunting him as he gets involved with his old lover/girlfriend Ava Lord (Eva Green). And I’m not gonna say more about it because that would be jumping into spoilers. The sad part is that despite this being the main story, it is the least interesting. I felt like it dragged on longer than it had too and it was overall not very interesting, especially since it had a few weird side-plots that were a little unnecessary.
Next up is the plot called “Nancy’s Last Dance” which follows the character of Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba). Also, this is where we got some minor spoilers for the first movie so… stop reading if you haven’t seen it. Anyway, this is set after the first movie and follows Nancy a longer while after John Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) death. So now Nancy is a drunken stripper planning revenge against the man who caused Hartigans’ death. And that man is none other than Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). And this segment I thought was really good. So it is a little sad that this is the shortest segment out of all. But in this Nancy is a broken mess with some psychological issues and that makes for some interesting watching.
The final one is “The Long Bad Night” that is about newcomer Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a really lucky/skilled poker player who gets in over his head when he wins a game against… Senator Roark. Apparently Roark is everybody’s favorite target. Anyway, this segment might be my favorite one out of all three. It is suspenseful, it is funny and it is just really well executed. Interesting how the segment about a new character is the one I enjoyed most.
And if you’re wondering… yes, Marv (Mickey Rourke) has a segment too. A really short one in the beginning of the movie. But for the most part he plays a big(ish) part of all other segments.

All characters are interesting in some way. And all performances were really good… except for one, but I’ll get to that. Josh Brolin as Dwight was great, Jessica Alba as Nancy was great too which is really cool because she wasn’t that interesting in the first movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also great as Johnny. And it was awesome seeing Mickey Rourke once again kick tons of ass as Marv. And Powers Boothe as Senator Roark was one of the most badass villains ever, I loved him in this movie. However, the one performance which was the worst, not bad, just not as good as all other ones was theo ne of Eva Green. And that is weird because she was one of the actors I had the most faith in, but here she just didn’t really fit too well as her character.

The soundtrack for the movie was done by Robert Rodriguez (Sidenote: Also the director of the movie) and Carl Thiel. And once again the music was really good and fit perfectly in the movie. It was badass, it was cool and it was just overall great.

This movie is as visually spectacular as the first one with it’s unique style of “black and white with some occasional color”. It looks great and it still helps hold the movie up a bit. The direction overall was great. And the action was just as brutal and violent as it was in the first movie. And that also means that the action was just as fun as in the first movie… especially when Mickey Rourke is involved. I can’t help it, he is awesome!

This movie was not very well-received, it was even a bit of a box office flop. Anyway, on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 43% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 46/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

Despite having a main plot that is not very interesting and a weak(ish) performance from Eva Green, I can’t deny the fun I had with “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”. Most stories were great, most performances were really good, teh music was great and the gritty, brutal and unique visuals are as awesome as ever. Time for my final score. *Grunt* My final score for “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is an 8,95/10. I do think it is worth buying.
Worth buying

Review of “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is done.

I don’t know what else to say.