Movie Review: Jarhead (2005)

*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

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… “Jarhead”.

Anthony Swofford is young man who recently enlisted with the United States marines. And we follow him in the time leading up to and during Operation Desert Storm, and how much damage it does to him psychologically. There’s a lot of interesting scenes throughout that does develop the story, and I was somewhat interested in everything that was going on. But I never really felt as engaged as this type of story should’ve gotten me. There was never that emotional hook that a story like this should be able to get. Now, I’m not saying it needs to make me cry, just that it needs to grab me and hold onto me really tightly… which it never really did. I remember some really well done moments throughout, but never was I fully invested in it all. Overall, a fine story.

The characters in this are all assholes… but in a believable way. I really believe that this is what one would become if going through all of that. And I find them all to be quite interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal (as previously mentioned) plays Anthony Swofford, a smart young man who goes through the ups and downs of marine life. Seeing a good guy like him tested like this is quite interesting, and it makes him a pretty compelling character. And Gyllenhaal is of course fantastic in the role. And throughout the movie we get supporting performances from people like Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Evan Jones, Brian Geraghty, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It takes some inspiration from rock and a few middle-eastern influences, all of which comes together to create an interesting atmosphere for the movie. It’s tense, fun, and just overall pretty cool. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, all of them pleasing to the ear, and all of them working quite well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Sam Mendes, and I think he did a good job. When he wanted to make me feel uneasy, he made me feel uneasy. When he wanted to build some suspense, he built some suspense. Mendes has a good eye for these things. And speaking of seeing things, the cinematography by Roger Deakins? Absolutely fantastic (what else would you expect from that man?).

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Jarhead” has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s far from perfect. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down quite a bit by a lack of a good emotional hook in the story. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jarhead” is an 8,54/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jarhead” is now completed.

Bang a gong, get it on…

Movie Review: Hail, Caesar! (2016)

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The movie industry, one of the biggest and most profitable industries in the world. It’s given us sooooo many hours of entertainment for such a long time that it’s kind of ridiculous. And not only is it guilty of giving us entertainment, but it’s also the thing that’s given this blog most of it’s content.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hail, Caesar!”.

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a fixer for a big Hollywood studio in the 1950s. As a fixer, his job is to keep problems with actors, directors, and such to a minimum. And soon he gets a bit of a rough time when problems pour in from every possible direction. So what we have here is an odd crime-comedy-thing with a whole bunch of plot threads going on at the same time. And while that stuff can be interesting, I feel like the way it’s handled here is a bit messy. Not saying that any of the plots going on are bad, but it’s just that it’s kind of a fucking mess. I mean, I was constantly interested and entertained, but I feel like it could have been a bit more focused.

The characters are all interesting and very entertaining. I will mention that there are a shit-ton of big name actors in this movie, and instead of spending 50 hours listing them with one comment each, I will simply say that they all did a great job and I’m just gonna list their names. Cool? Cool. *Deep breath*. Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Alden Ehrenreich (First-timer, did a fantastic job), Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Clancy Brown, Alison Pill, Fisher Stevens, Christopher Lambert, David Krumholtz, and more. *Exhale*. God damn, there’s a lot of people in this movie!

The score for the movie was composed by Carter Burwell and it was fun, kind of quirky, and overall well composed. It fit the movie very well. There are even a few songs (as in musical numbers) in this movie performed by the actors, and they are surprisingly good and really catchy.

This movie was directed by the Coen brothers, and I think they did a great job here. There’s energy, there are clever moments, and there’s an overall sense of fun. And the cinematography by Roger Deakins is of course great, as per usual. The humor in this movie is also pretty solid. I’m not saying that every “funny” moment hit, but when it did hit… it hit very well. There’s one scene involving Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Fiennes in this movie that is really damn funny, it’s most definitely my favorite scene in the entire movie.

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 85% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,3/10. The movie has also been nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best production design. 

“Hail, Caesar!” is a fun homage to old school cinema. It has some okay plots, good characters, great performances, really good music, great directing, and some really good humor. However it is brought down by the plot being kind of messy. Time for my final score. *ACTION!*. My final score for “Hail, Caesar!” is an 8,87/10. So even if it’s messy, I ‘d still say it’s worth buying.
worth-buying

My review of “Hail, Caesar!” is now completed.

Alden Ehrenreich… I trust that you’ll make a good Han Solo (please!).

Movie Review: Sicario (2015)

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The war on drugs is one that I would dare call a neverending story. Take one distributor down, another will pick up the torch. And that is how it’s gonna go forever until the world gets swallowed by the sun. Although I have to admit, it is fun hearing about law enforcement actually succeeding in taking down big drug lords.

Ladies and gents… “Sicario”.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent who have been hired by the government to work with a special task force to try to find ways to take down some big Mexican drug cartels. And at the forfront of this task force we find it’s leader Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). So now we get to see Kate work with these men to find a way to take down these cartels while also experiencing some intense shit. And I absolutely loved the plot of this movie. Sure, it’s quite a simple and not too original idea, but the execution of it is absolutely outstanding. The plot has a lot of suspense which makes for an interesting watch, but it also presents a few pretty great plot twists along the way that I didn’t see coming. I really loved every part of the plot of this movie.

The characters all have several layers to them and they’re all very interesting. Emily Blunt is absolutely fantastic in the movie. The longer her career goes on, the better she seems to get. There are so many little nuances to her performance that just make it all the more impressive. Josh Brolin plays what I would call the team leader of this task force and he’s excellent in the movie. What is so interesting too is that he brings a bit of levity to the movie without it feeling forced and terrible, his humor works in the movie. And then we have Benicio Del Toro…. Del Toro is fucking fantastic in this movie. Throughout the movie you don’t know much about him as a character, and that is what makes him so interesting. And Benicio’s performance just makes it so much better because of how great he is in this movie. We also get some really good supporting performances from actors like Victor Garber, Jeffrey Donovan, Jon Bernthal and Daniel Kaluuya. There is no such thing as a bad performance in this movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson and I would say that it’s pretty amazing. It’s heavy, intense and dark. A lot of times throughout the movie it helps to build tension and even make the scenes a bit disturbing because of the style of the score. But that’s jsut a great thing because it then evokes some kind of emotional response from the viewer.

The movie was directed by Denis Villneuve who also made the movies “Prisoners” and “Enemy”, two movies I really loved. So you can see how I had pretty high hopes for this movie in terms of directing. And my expectations were met because this is one of the most well directed movies of the year. And thank you so much, Mr. Vileneuve for bringing back Roger Deakins to do the cinematography because the movie looks absolutely amazing. A good example I can give that doesn’t spoil anything are the nighttime scenes which actually look like it’s nighttime. You know how in movies people’s faces are all lit up in an unnatural manner as if there were studio lights there? Well there is none of that bullshit here, this shit looks real. Remember that extreme tension I mentioned early on in the review? Yeah, that also translates into the action scenes in the movie and that makes the scenes as terrific as they are. And the gunshots all sound pretty real too, kind of like in a Michael Mann movie. I also have to mention that “Sicario” is a lot like “Se7en” in a few scenes. And what I mean by that is that you get to see some fucked up shit that will make you sick to your stomach if you’re a normal person. So yeah… don’t eat anything when watching this movie.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Sicario” is a drug bust movie with a great plot with some unexpected twists, interesting characters & fantastic acting, a fantastic score, excellent directing, gorgeous cinematography and some fantastic “edge of your seat” tension. TIme for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Sicario” is a 9,90/10. It most certainly gets the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Sicario” is now completed.

Well… I guess Benicio is cool again.

Movie Review: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

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You alread know I love westerns, I have said it more times than one would like to hear about it. But those that you know I love (A.K.A. the ones I have reviewed/mentioned) are mainly your typical romanticized westerns, rather than a more serious and dramatic look at those times. So I am curious to see what I would think of a more serious and dramatic western. Where am I going with this? I am reviewing one of those today.

Ladies and gents… “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (What a mouthful).

This is one of those plots that has a climax that is impossible to spoil. Why? Because it is in hte fucking title! Sorry, didn’t wanna be mean, let’s just talk about the plot. Ever since he was a child, Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) has idolized the outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt). So when he joins his game at the age of 19, he of course finds it great. But over the years he starts to become more and more bitter about Jesse and eventually kind of resents him. Which of course leads to the event in the title of the movie, the murder of Jesse James as carried out by Robert Ford. And even basically knowing how it was gonna end, I was still riveted by the story. As the nerd that I am, I knew a lot about this with the whole Ford killing James and Ford’s eventual fate, but I was still stunned how well it was presented in this movie. What I liked about the story is how it never favored anyone and made them look like the good guy or the bad guy, everyone was in a more neutral space. The plot also hit me very hard with how emotional it could get and by how shocking it could be at times. And while I won’t compare it to “American History X”, it still had the effect on me as when I first watched that movie. And I love that feeling, when a movie manages to hit you very hard in every way possible.

The characters are all very entertaining to watch, but they also feel like they could be real people. Brad Pitt is fantastic as Jesse James, giving one of the best (in my opinion) performances of his career. Casey Affleck was also pretty fucking great in the movie. But I have also never seen him give a bad performance. We also got a fantastic supporting cast, all who give great performances, let me round ’em up. Sam Shepard, Mary-Lousie Parker, Sam Rockwell, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Schneider, this is a great cast and it was used perfectly. Everybody gets time to shine and I love it.

The score for the movie was done by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and it might be one of the best ones I have ever heard. It manages to create a sense of dramatic tension while also being very emotional. It really manages to fit into every category perfectly. It is really the definition of a perfect score that not only fits the movie it’s used in, but also turns out to be overall fantastic.

I don’t wanna disappoint you, so I’ll talk about the shootouts since this technically is a western movie. They aren’t really the types of shootouts you usually see in westerns, these are smaller and a little more quiet. But they fit very well into it all since this isn’t a big, action-packed western, but more of a drama about characters set in western times. So the movie doesn’t really need shootouts, but the (small) ones in the movie are good and fit well enough.

This movie was written and directed by Andrew Dominik and I think he succeeded in both aspects. The writing is some of the most tight and well-written I have ever experienced in a movie. And the directing is pretty fantastic. The camera movements are fantastic and you see that Dominik has a lot of skill as a director despite only having directed one movie prior to this. I also love the cinematography by Roger Deakins, it looks fantastic (as usual), I especially love the shots they have in the big and open landscapes, they are incredibly beautiful.

This movie has been well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (Affleck) and Best Cinematography. 

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is not only a mouthful of a title, but it is also a pretty amazing movie. It has a terrific & emotional story, fantastic characters & performances, fantastic music, great direction, great writing and fantastic cinematography. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is a 9,90/10. It definitely deserves the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is now reviewed.

The Assassination of What a Mouthful by Markus.