Movie Review: Carlito’s Way (1993)

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

Ladies and gentlemen… “Carlito’s Way”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oye como va mi ritmo
Bueno pa’ gozar, mulata

Movie Review: Blue Ruin (2013)

Revenge is a dish best served cold… wait, that’s “Star Trek”, not indie-thriller… shit.

Ladies and gents… “Blue Ruin”.

Dwight (Macon Blair) has been trying to live a quiet life away from people. But when he hears that a man who had wronged him in the past is about to be released from jail, Dwight intends to get revenge. So now we have our revenge-thriller plot. However, it’s not just about Dwight trying to get revenge on this one person as there’s a lot more that happens throughout, but I don’t wanna say too much about that. What I can say however is that this plot is pretty damn good. It’s tense, it’s dramatic, and it was just really interesting to follow. It takes a couple of interesting turns and I was genuinely invested in this dark journey. It also gives off a feeling of unease from the first few moments and keeps that feeling throughout. So yeah, the plot here is really good.

Most of the characters here aren’t very interesting as they’re not given a lot of development, but I think that’s okay in this case as this focuses on Dwight, who is a very interesting character. Macon Blair is excellent in the role, giving an understated and layered performance. He doesn’t talk a lot in the movie, but you still get a good idea of what is going on in his head thanks to his eyes. He really acts more with his eyes than anything else, and that is pretty cool. And like I said, Blair is excellent here. Amy Hargreaves plays Dwight’s sister, Sam, and she’s really good in the role. Devin Ratray, you know… Buzz from “Home Alone”, plays one of Dwight’s old friends that we meet at one point in the movie, and he’s good in the role. And that’s about all that I’m gonna say about the cast, because I don’t wanna say too much. But let me just put it like this: all actors in the movie do really well in their roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brooke Blair & Will Blair and it is great. It’s dark, eerie, and suspenseful and really helped build a lot of tension in the movie. There were also a bunch of licensed tracks that were used throughout the movie and they worked quite well in their respective scenes. Really, this movie has some great music.

“Blue Ruin” was written, directed, and shot by Jeremy Saulnier and I think he did a great job with all of that. His direction is very tight, keeping everything steady and making you feel like you’re there with Dwight, feeling every second of tension that Saulnier wants you to feel. Because when this movie feels like building up a lot of tension, it fucking delivers. Don’t think a movie has made me feel this tensed up in a while. And the cinematography here is gorgeous, making for some absolutely stunning shots. This movie is also violent. And by violent I mean that there are a couple moments throughout the movie that feature really graphic violence. There aren’t a lot of violent moments in the movie, but when it’s shown it is quite graphic/disturbing. I guess the relatively small amount of violence has a bigger impact than if they’d had a lot of violence throughout. Good on ya, Saulnier and crew.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Blue Ruin” is an excellent thriller. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Blue Ruin” is a 9,88/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blue Ruin” is now completed.

Yeah, I got nothing clever to say here. The movie’s just awesome.

Series Review: The Expanse – Season 1 (2015 – 2016)

Space, the final frontier. Alright, that is enough “Star Trek” for now. Time to move on to a different science fiction thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first season of… “The Expanse”.

The Canterbury is a giant ship flying around in outer space collecting ice. During one of their missions they get a distress call and part of the crew gets sent out to investigate it. At the same in a different location we follow detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) as he is trying to find a missing woman who happens to be the daughter of a very important businessman. And soon we find out that these two seemingly unrelated stories might be connected somehow. So now we have a sci-fi story that actually turned out to be pretty fucking good. The story of the Canterbury crew makes for an exciting space-thriller, with Detective Miller’s story makes for an intriguing detective noir. But none of them feel out of place in any way, as they complement each other very well. The season also gives us a good look at the politics and such of this universe, which helps everything feel more deep and well realized. And the political stuff actually has a purpose in the story and it’s a welcome addition. The plot also takes a few interesting twists and turns throughout that I didn’t expect. So yeah, the plot here is great.

The characters in this movie are all interesting and get a fair amount of development over the ten episode season. Thomas Jane (sporting an interesting haircut) plays Joe Miller, a detective who’s determined to find this missing woman. And Thomas Jane is really good in the role, giving one of the best performances I’ve seen from him. Steven Strait plays Jim Holden, one of the people from the Canterbury investigating the distress call. He can often seem like he’s making dumb decisions, but the more time we spend with him over the season, the more we understand why he does that. And Strait is great in the role. Dominique Tipper plays Naomi Nagata, another one of the Canterbury crew members. She’s a tough and determined woman who wants to get the job done soon, and Tipper is great in the role. Cas Anvar plays Alex Kamal, the pilot who goes along to investigate the distress call, and he’s probably the closest thing we have to comic relief in the show. I mean, he does get some of the funnier lines in the show, but his humor never clashes with the overall serious tone of the season, and he does have serious moments in the season. And Anvar is great in the role. Wes Chatham plays Amos Burton, another member of the Canterbury crew. He’s basically the muscle of the group, I’d even say that he’s kind of a knucklehead. But he’s not a bad guy, he’s just impulsive and brash. And Chatham does a good job in the role. Shohreh Aghdashloo (aside from having one of the most unique voices ever) plays Chrisjen Avasarala, a politician on Earth, and she’s terrific in the role. Then we get a lot of solid supporting performances throughout the show from people like Shawn Doyle, Chad L. Coleman, Elias Toufexis, Jared Harris, and Jay Hernandez. So yeah, this is a very well acted show.

The score for the show was composed by Clinton Shorter and I think he did a great job. His score doesn’t really do anything original in terms of a sci-fi score, but the overall execution is great. The score is tense, exciting, inspiring, and just overall fit the show very well.

“The Expanse” was created by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, and is based on the book series of the same named written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the shared pseudonym James S. A. Corey. I haven’t read any of the books, so I can’t speak on if this is a good adaptation or not, but I can at least speak on it as it’s own show. And what Fergus, Ostby, and any other writers/directors managed to create is pretty fantastic. It’s a very well directed show with a lot of suspense being created even when very little is happening. It has a cold and kind of blue look, really making it feel like a different world than our own. There are also a lot of cool sets in this show. Sure, we’ve seen very similar things before in other shows and movies and even video games, but that doesn’t discredit any of the sets on display here… because they’re great. And the CGI, especially on a TV budget, looks fantastic. Definitely some of the best effects I’ve ever seen in a TV show. And to answer your question, yes there is action in this show. It isn’t the main focus, but action does happen in this show. And when it does it is fun and exciting and badass.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

“The Expanse” season 1 is pretty fucking great. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and fantastic visual effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Expanse” is a 9,93/10. Which means that it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Expanse” season 1 is now completed.

Bit of “Star Trek”, a splash of “Mass Effect”, bit of detective noir and voila… good show!

 

My Favorite Scenes: Batman Begins – I’m Batman

Hello and welcome to this corpse of a series. For anyone new, “My Favorite Scenes” is the series where I take a look at scenes I like from movies and TV shows and share my thoughts on why I like them. Kind of self-explanatory. So let’s get into it!

So today, as you read in the title of the post, we are taking a look at a scene from a movie about the greatest superhero of all… Arm-Fall-Off Boy! I’m of course kidding, we’re actually talking about the god damn Batman. Though I will add that Arm-Fall-Off Boy is a very real superhero, feel free to google it if you don’t believe me.
“Batman Begins”, the 2005 reboot movie directed by Christoher Nolan that was a modest hit at the box office, and spawned two sequels, one of which earned an Oscar win for best supporting actor. Who knew a franchise about a grumpy billionaire dressing up like a crazy bat-person could be so beloved? Jokes aside, I love these movies. And to be quite honest, “Begins” is my favorite in the trilogy. Anyway, what scene are we talking about today? Well, it’s the scene in the movie where Batman (Christian Bale) officially comes to life. Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) is at this place filled with containers, overseeing his henchmen prepare drugs for transportation. Then suddenly, somethign happens. His henchmen start getting picked off, one by one. And finally, this weird entity pulls Falcone out of the car and utters the phrase “I’m Batman”. Yeah, I fucking love this scene. Not only because of the bit where Bale says “I’m Batman”, though that is amazing. This entire scene is actually really tense. The way Batman stalks the goons, taking them all out, it’s all very tense and almost a little scary. Say what you want about Nolan and his philosophical stuff, the dude knows how to build tension. And this scene proves it. From the tense stalking to the badass final “I’m Batman”, this scene is amazing.
Enjoy!