This is a strange trailer, that depicts the opposite of the tone of this film. But what else can I show?
The above phrase was said by a goldfish, owned by our protagonist Bob (Christian Slater). Bob just saw legions of reporters surrounding his house. He panics, grabs a .357 magnum and a 12 gauge shotgun. His house has darkened, and he is surrounded by chaos and paparazzi; how his goldfish feels. Yes, Bob's goldfish talk in this film. Every day, Bob goes to work, slowly and laboriously, while traffic speeds by at ridiculously rapid speeds (literally.) Every day, Bob loads his revolver at work, with the intent of killing 6 specific people on his cubicle-mazed floor. Every day, he backs down, and is walked all over. Every day, he imagines blowing up his 20+ story office building. His fish talk down to him, and ask him every day if "Those bastards are dead." Bob chugs down a bottle of Martinelli's apple juice (good choice, sir) and proceeds to say that tomorrow is the day. It's that time; his boss is pissing him off and he's getting harassed by a woman accusing him of sexual harassment. He loads his gun. Bullets 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 go in. He closes his eyes, "Just do it." Bullet 6 is dropped. He lies on the floor looking for it, and hears the sweet sound of victory; gunshots followed by corpses dropping. He stands, and notices his cubicle buddy Cole. Cole is somewhat satisfied, while Bob is a bit mystified and confused. Cole and Bob agree on those who got shot deserved it, and the two notice that a girl (Elisha Cuthbert) in the office is still alive, after getting shot. Cole attempts to finish her off, but Bob stops him. From then on, to everyone around him, Bob is a hero. He even gets the girl in the end, after he stops her from trying to convince him to push her into a subway car. Yup. The bitch is suicidal, and Bob can't do it. Thankfully, she appreciates this, after much contemplation, and their relationship begins to develop, as well as Bob's new life.
He Was a Quiet Man reminds me a lot like a Coen Brothers film. Of course, the plot alone is somewhat sadistic and slightly comedic, much like a majority of the Coens' filmography. Our protagonist Bob comes along with the Taxi Driver aspect of pity, and a little bit relating; mainly on his views on society. Then there are the small aspects like being cleverly and strongly written, with repetition of phrases for comedic purposes, and being deceptive at all costs. The script provides several pieces of dialogue and monologue that are memorable and deep. He was a Quiet Man is indeed thought provoking as it plays out, and it's really good at it. Yet, there are some strangely "zany" things like Bob's CG goldfish that provide comedic relief and serve as a rain-cloud that bursts bubbles. The film is somewhat of a satire, in the vein of American Beauty, Falling Down, or Office Space. It juggles comedy, drama, thrill, and much more in a complicated cycle. In fact, combine all three of those movies I mentioned; you have He Was a Quiet Man.
The general theme alone gives off the Coen vibe; He Was a Quiet Man is about living with a lie. Much in the vein of World's Greatest Dad, our protagonist goes to great lengths, thanks to the results of his lying; in this case, accepting and claiming that he indeed saved the girl and killed the gunman. Early in the film, we see Bob driving in traffic, at a slow pace. All around him, cars are moving in fast-forward, at ridiculous speeds. It looks good visually, and metaphorically as well. There is a nice touch along with this idea. As Bob continues to live deeper and deeper into his lie, everything gets faster and more rushed, as far as the film's pacing goes. The editing becomes more constant and cutty, and everything just gets hectic, much like the world he once wished to blow up. It's well though out, and shows off the film's tendency to get metaphorical every once in a while.
Unlike the Coens, this film lacks a bit of humanity and emotion. Of course, the characters feel and what not, but there is a bit of a disconnected feel; I don't feel the true heart of it. It lacks a soul, if you will. The characters have their own emotions, yet the world they live in is just so... cynical and not happy. Like there's no hope. Even the parts that are happy and what not just feel fake and somewhat comedic because of how he got to where he is. Like they seriously expect me to believe that they let him get this far? Luckily, they bring us back to base, but still have this hateful attitude and eventually, a mind-bending revenge/Fight Club-esque redemption feel. It could turn viewers off, but that's beside the fact that there are so many good things in this movie.
I'm not too sure if the film wants you to forget the actual truth, or wants it to linger on your mind as Bob becomes a more extravagant and happier person, as a result of his lies. In fact, after a while, it strays so far away from the underlying fact that Bob is taking credit for something he didn't do, and isn't admitting something that he was going to do, that it's no longer a dark comedy and turns into somewhat of a romance and redemption film for a period of time. Of course, things come back to bite him in the ass, but the film's biggest problem is balancing the several genres it spans. He Was a Quiet Man walks the thin line between a standard drama like American Beauty, and an edgy indie film. There is a constant switch between comedic and sadistic, and then it just drops all of that for this strange, blissful period of time. It's weird, and proves that there should've been a better balance here, or at least the film should've been clearer on it's intentions. Maybe it's a stretch, asking for such a lending hand, but still, you can't throw a viewer into a film as strong as this without giving a bit of guidance. Even some of the dramatic or uplifting parts feel a bit unearned. I'd like to call this a dark comedy, but it just goes way too far away from what it originally set out to be. It takes so many strange turns, that I'm still a little pissed off that they left me hanging for that amount of time.
The story starts and ends nicely, with not too many bumps in the road, other than it's unsteady pacing. He Was a Quiet Man has a great ending, but it is a bit too abrupt to feel satisfying, despite the events that occur. Around the end, like I mentioned earlier, things got too hectic and somewhat confusing to comprehend as the ending occurs. It just reached the point of leaving sanity and just playing out in this strange, blurry and voice filled way. You're response, if you couldn't really figure what happened, will most likely be, "Wat" or "K." I'm sorry to get so informal *cough*bitches, but it does indeed get that obscure. It's a bit frustrating, but definitely an intriguing way to let things work out. It could be a strong point for some viewers, and a weak point for others; it's all really on how you take in the story and how it progresses. Actually, just as a side note, there is an interesting eye-catching spoiler near the beginning of the film, giving away the ending. If you see it, and put two and two together, the films revelation will shock you less, but still have it's effect. I digress.
Christian Slater does an amazing job here, doing his best Matthew Broderick impersonation. Of course, I'm kidding. But really, Slater does justice to this type of character that we see in movies like Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy; you kind of want to root for him, but if anything, you feel bad for them. It's a really different role, and he succeeds at what he attempted to do. His accent and small actions are very detailed and a nice touch. His emotions expressed feel true and never does he really overact. Sadly, I can't say the same for some of the secondary characters. A majority of them take the role of stereotypes that come off clear as crystal, but a bit over-exaggerated. The assholes are just dumb jock-like guys, and everyone else just plays on what kind of character they are. That's a good thing, but they're all trying a big too hard. Elisha Cuthbert does an awesome job as lead female girl, because, you know, I forgot her name. After getting shot, her very cynical and hateful tone is well done. She's kind of funny in a dark manner, and manages to keep true the emotion of being suicidal, and dedicated to it. It's a strong performance, until the movie gets weird and it changes gears. Even then, she's okay. William H. Macy is barely in this movie, sorry to say. When he is, it's cool, because, hey, it's William H. Macy. My dad met him at a coffee shop, you know.
Visually, the movie looks excellent; this is the highlight of the film. There are spastic cuts left and right, and they're so well laced into each scene that it feels standard, while being spontaneous. There are even cuts in the background as the scene upfront plays uncut. There are really cool shots here and there, like a ridiculously close up steady-cam shot of Bob as he walks through a scene with a huge amount of stuff occurring in the background. It's cleverly shot, and looks awesome. There's some CGI here and there, like for Bob's fish, and some explosions. For an indie film, these look good and their effect is strong. Strangely enough, there is a downside to this awesome aspect. I think they got so caught up in making the film look edgy and cutty, that it just got way too out of hand. They go a little too far with the obscure and crazy editing, that this helps add to the pacing and comprehension problems that I mentioned earlier. You can make something look cool, but there is such a thing as overdoing a good idea, and making it work out for the worse.
I know it sounds like I shit all over the movie. But behind all of these technical and pacing flaws, this was a really interesting movie that keeps me excited and thinking. It just sadly gets caught up in what it wanted to do, gets confused with what it has, then just starts making loops and makes a mess of it all. Yet, this mess that we're left with isn't too messy (it is still messy, though). It's an overall interesting mess, that can be viewed and enjoyed. You can look past the flaws, because they could be considered quite minor, but if you're anything like me, that appreciates neat ideas, themes, metaphors, etc., then you'll be a bit disappointed on how they are handled, despite how well thought out they were; they were just poorly placed and controlled.
And yet, He Was a Quiet Man is an interesting film, that has the ability to grab your attention forcefully. Underneath all of these technicalities and story issues, there is a fair share of entertainment here. Comedy and thrill exists here, as well as many, many intriguing things to show off. The movie has something to say, and a special way to show it. It's plot alone is quite ridiculous, and the movie goes to many strange places that you wouldn't really expect it to go. In fact, it gets sad, as much as it gets weird in other genres. I just want to reassure you all that yes, the movie has it's problems, but man, there are a lot of cool things here. Watch them, and try not to nit-pick like me.
4/5 for being really interesting and utterly captivating, and yet being somewhat forgetful of what it originally set out to be. Plus, there's a lack of humanity in here; it became clear after a while. But that should hopefully be no matter to you; the movie is great in so many other aspects; go watch it! 7 Comments
"Merv, wait, Merv! Listen... Moon Fetus; a fetus... is found on a moon base... that's the premise." ---
Gentlemen Broncos is about Benjamin (Michael Angarano); standard nerdy, awkward teenager who aspires to be a sci-fi author. His loving and caring mother (Jennifer Coolidge) sends him on a weekend retreat to the Cletus Festival; a writers convention/festival that will help Benjamin become a better writer, and make friends. While there he makes friends and gets to see his favorite author speak; Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement). Roland gives several classes and speeches while attending, but is ultimately waiting for his agent to tell him the good news about his new novel. Sadly, Ronald's novel is not green lit, and he is stuck in a bind. Coincidentally, our friend Benjamin submitted a novel of his, Yeast Lords, into a competition that Roland is judging. Roland takes a peek at Ben's novel, and thinks it's brilliant... and then begins making some of his own additions. This leads to Chevalier becoming a superstar again with his new version of Year Lords; Brutus and Balzaak. The main character, Bronco (Sam Rockwell), was changed into a transsexual (Sam Rockwell.) On the other hand, Benjamin is dealing with life as people step all over him. His "guardian angel" is trying to get with his mother, and friends he met at Cletus Festival are making a movie based on Benjamin's novel into something that it's not. From then on, the story is about Benjamin maturing and taking action; becoming a damn man. It's quite an exciting adventure, I guess...
I'm going to be wholly honest here; after the first viewing of Gentlemen Broncos, I sort of hated it. It's humor didn't stick with me and I just felt utterly disappointed. I took in a second viewing, and liked it slightly more, but was still very critical of it. So I began to write a review, and was basically bashing it. I started reviewing this because I noticed that a majority of my reviews were of really really good films. I decided to review a movie that I recalled being somewhat bad. This film is somewhat of a stupid comedy, like Dumb and Dumber, but in the vain of something like a little darker; maybe Me, Myself, and Irene. In my original viewings, I looked for something like a big serious and quirky, kind of like Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums but with Jared Hess' sprinkling of... "Hessness". But I was highly disappointed. I decided to go for a third try, and took the advice of other reviewers, not taking things so seriously and just enjoying it's retardedness. I did not think this would be possible, but I've actually changed my opinion on this film after repeat viewings and not being so critical after each one. My reaction after all three viewings is among the lines of, "WHAT THE F*CK." Except this time, I've found some small beauty here, believe it or not (I still can't.)
Some of the big issues in the film are pretty clear, while others only annoy a few viewers. Ultimately, you have to be really open and accepting when you watch Gentlemen Broncos. This film requires your full attention if you expect to enjoy it properly. I've already mentioned that the film is retarded (sorry), and I'll elaborate on that a little more. This movie is so retarded, that some people will literally not be able to stand it. I'm talking the status of using vomit as a weapon, pooping snakes, and much, much more. Remember that scene in Year One- no? Well, I don't blame you. You aren't missing much, really. Anyway, Jack Black eats a piece of sh*t in it, and a lot of the humor comes from a place like that, but to the tenth degree. Seriously messed up stuff. Not like World's Greatest Dad messed up, but just disgusting. But don't take anything too seriously. Never really does the film try and be serious, even if it does have some sort of message. That message is cleverly placed inside one of the stupidest films I've ever bothered to see. And it's awesome for what it does; the film is so stupid, that it'll actually turn people off. That's excellent.
I know that Gentlemen Broncos works really well as a retarded comedy, but there were many missed points of potential here. I noted that some of the characters, like Sam Rockwell's Bronco actually reach points of using curse words, but proceed to use words like "flippin'" or "crap." Listen, the film goes as far to feature fake testicles and jars full of disgusting seminal and other fluids. Why not go the limit and actually use curse words? At least it would sound proper and add to the comedy with good timing. It just sounds childish. Another factor that disappoints me is the cutting to someone after several lines of dialogue, and they say something like, "sweet..." or "awesome..." It looks dumb and isn't even really funny. In fact, I'm sure that this is at the fault of director Jared Hess, who used such lines in his previous films. I suppose it'd be good for a trailer, but it's just an eye roller when it comes down to brass taxes. It also adds to the fact that the humor is majority hit, but often miss. And I'm not sure, but a lot of the humor comes from character/actor relationships. You can tell Jemaine Clement put a little of his own humor into his character, as well as with Sam Rockwell or even Mike White. I'm curious on how much of it was written by Hess and wife, because if a majority of that stuff is all from the actors' minds, then I call weakness on Hess' part. It's like going the Tim and Eric route; a majority of the best comedy comes from the special guest comedians like Zach Galifianakis and Patton Oswalt. Might want to work on the writing there, Hess.
The sh*t-storm against Hess as a filmmaker continues, as I also have beef against his work with cinematography. Jesus Christ, man, move the camera a little more. I like what Hess does with the zooming and setting up of shots with symmetry, and even here he does some work with VHS cameras, along with purposely bad editing and audio work. It's funny, and feels natural for which character it's involved with. But things outside of that and in moments that deserve some movement, it just feels so dull. Given that this film has the most action out of all three he's done, I'm truly disappointed that he barely did anything interesting or creative here; no more so than he's done in his past films. I'm just saying that there were so many scenes where it was appropriate to have some steady-cam work, or even shaky-cam stuff. And yet, it's almost nothing. Jared needs to develop as a filmmaker, or stick to films that is proper for his style of directing. And hey, Jared Hess isn't all bad, I'm just pointing out what he could've done better here. But, all these "flaws" aside, Jared Hess has managed to make a good film here, albeit a retarded one.
You're probably wondering about what actions scenes I spoke of. Well, the film features live action re-enactments of scenes from both Benjamin's Yeast Lords and Chevalier's Brutus and Balzaak, both starring Sam Rockwell as the protagonist. Basically, these scenes include ridiculous futuristic technology, ideas, resources, clothing, and weird everythings. It's really strange, but a really, really intriguing world to look at, especially when you notice the small things in Benjamin's or Chevalier's worlds (real life) that fall into the fantasy sequences, like Benjamin's little cart being in his fantasy, but equipped with a turret. It's clear that the theme set up by the opening credits of "ridiculous views on sci-fi from the past" is in full effect. These scenes are truly special and fun to watch play out.
The music in Gentlemen Broncos is cheery, eerie, and well picked. The score bounces back and forth between light-hearted acoustic runs that sound similar to some current pop songs, and synth driven, atmospheric tones for the fantasy scenes. Everything fits, and helps us get engaged into the scenes even better, understanding the joy or pain Benjamin feels, or even the strange, unfamiliar tone of the fantasy sequences. The licensed soundtrack is amazingly put together. You hear from the likes of Kansas and other classic 70's rock groups, spouting power ballads. It'll put a smile on your face, and much like the original score, it compliments the scenes they're featured in. Gentlemen Broncos also, with the help of the music, sets up some unique worlds, inside and out of fantasy. I've already mentioned how special the fantasy sequences are, but even in the world of our protagonist Ben, we see some interesting things and places. Everything has this autumn feel, where you'll need a jacket outside, always. The houses, locations, and etc. just work well as a stage for our story. It's like Napoleon Dynamite, the midwest small town, but during the fall time, and a little bit toward the 90's. It feels quite good while watching, having such a setting that is pretty distinctive and easygoing, which allows the film to work it's magic with ease.
Luckily, even if the film is dumb as hell, the story progresses nicely and plays out really well and smoothly. As well, the characters arcs are totally there and these characters actually change as the film progresses. I'm a little shocked that a movie like this can actually apply such factors into itself while being so stupid. I'm very proud of Jared and wife for keeping things steady with the story and characters. It's like a twinkie, with the outside shell so amazing, and the contents, which have now been injected with some sort of banana sauce, are strange at first, but after testing the waters for a little, you're used to it, and love it. Sorry; analogy ramble.
This film actually has more subtlety than the last two Hess products. There are really, really small things that can be found that really go over a lot of people's heads. This is where some of the cleverness kicks in, even if it is for stupid comedic reasons. For instance, in the background of a mall, you can see a store that contains assault rifles that align the walls, as if one could just walk in a buy one like *snap* that. This also includes small things the characters do, like posing in the background or small inflictions, like Chevalier rubbing his beard against a microphone as a fan asks him a question. It's stealthily placed amongst ridiculously crass and often idiotic comedy. Hey, have I mentioned that this movie is dumb?! (I'm not kidding, this is retarded!)
Even more amazing than that, they've actually written in some morals and themes here and there, which is actually very nice! There are nice messages about following dreams and success no matter what. The film goes on to deal with stuff like envy of others and failure. Others walk all over Benjamin, and we get to experience him bucking up and standing up for himself It's actually kind of sad, with them theme of people getting credit for something you did or changing up a creation of yours. In general, it's about dealing with people succeeding, when you don't. The movie tends to beat you over the head with such themes, but it still feels good to hear and see presented. It's shockingly well done here, and makes the film much better, and even more than it appears to be.
Folks, be thankful. Without the work of Michael Angarano, who, thank God, is the protagonist, Jemaine Clement, who makes this movie his bitch, and Sam Rockwell, who does some of the most daring things he could ever do, this film would basically be nothing amazing. The ways these three handle their characters is so unique and special to their acting style that with anyone else, Gentlemen Broncos just wouldn't work. Of course, work from actors like Mike White and Jennifer Coolidge also come across as enjoyable and memorable, especially since they're characters, as well as the others are so freaking interesting. They're all funny and likable in their own, different ways; even the antagonists. They're all so crazy and have some excellent moments here and there! Again though, just overall brilliant work to the aforementioned three actors; top notch, considering their roles in this film .
Michael Angarano does his best impersonation of an awkward teen, which includes a huge amount of voice cracking and shyness. The kid is already a good actor, but he has indeed established himself as versatile in this role. His character Benjamin changes over the course of the film, and Michael does a really good job with acting, reacting, and just being Benjamin. He fits the character really well; I can see Michael having this big of an imagination when it comes to sci-fi novels with having stupid plots. Plus, he's the perfect shade of lovable and relatable, causing the film to become much more personal, in a good way.
Sam Rockwell's role is minor, and per se, he doesn't really interact with any of the main characters. Rather, he is changed by Benjamin and Jemaine Clement's character. Yes, Sam Rockwell plays Bronco, the main character of Benjamin's novel, Yeast Lords. His character of Bronco is somewhat of a redneck, and you can relate him to Patton Oswalt's impersonation of Nick Nolte. He's always angry, an action hero who has a love interest, and busts out one liners on occasion. Sam does this role justice... if it could've even been better. It's just awesome seeing Sam act like this; it's actually pretty funny for the first few times you see him, and after that it's really interesting to watch him be so dumb. It's fun. Then comes in the second version of Bronco; Brutus. Brutus is a transsexual and flaming version of Bronco. Flamboyant, humorous, and gay, Brutus is by far the most ridiculous role Sam Rockwell will probably ever take. The Brutus scenes are very strange, and only his accent, words, and walking style are really funny. Other than that, it starts to get really, really weird, and to the point of it not being funny, but almost disturbing. Besides that, I'll be honest. Rockwell does justice here, even if it is really dumb. Like... really dumb... you have no idea what you're in for.
And now, for the hero; Flight of the Conchords' Jemiane Clement. Jemaine's character Dr. Ronald Chevalier, master novelist, is a master asshole and hypocrite. You hate this guy; he is the ultimate bad guy in here. But thank the Gods, Jemaine has made his character so hilarious, that you somewhat love Chevalier, despite his actions. His accent alone makes him hilarious, as well as his stupid ideas and whatnot put into his novels. The clever thing here is that half the time, he doesn't straight out say the things mentioned in his past novels, but references them in such inane and hilarious manners. His actions in general are just so well done and funny that it's almost all worth it just to see his character scenes. As his character progresses through the story, we pity him, hate him, and somewhat root for him in this sort of District 9 Wikus way. He does it for different reasons than we want, but it favors our protagonist as well. Sadly, he does not get a lot of screen time, as he isn't really the main character here. Yet, he's a fun character, played by an awesome comedian.
Do you know why I found my first viewings received terrible results? It's because I judged this film on premise alone, and did not give it a chance to show off it's uniqueness. I feel insane for giving such a dumb movie a high score. Alas, there is so much fun to be had here. Just accept it's stupidity, and have fun. It's only the small annoyances that get in the way, but you shouldn't let this blur your opinion. Sure, it's riddled with flaws, but it still has some great things to show, including a nice message that rings true no matter how many times they remind you of it. Honestly, Gentlemen Broncos truly deserves this praise. I'm sorry I got emotional there; I just had a revelation about a really unique film. But still, "what the f*ck?!"
From a 2.5/5, I give this a 4/5. Yup, a 4/5. It might take a while, but Gentlemen Broncos has a small amount of beauty amongst it's huge pile of stupidity. It has a charm... good, old, retarded charm.
Much like the film leaves you off, I'll send off with the same song that ends Gentlemen Broncos.
"Be thankful for everything. For soon, there will be nothing." ---
Alright, Brendan Gleeson does not in fact play the main character... but man, what if he did? I digress; let's get to the point here. Zombie movies have continued to deterierate further and further from being anything special. In fact, a majority are far from it. How can we fix this? Continue to make more unconditional zombie movies, like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. Yes, they are indeed comedies, but at least they brought something interesting to the zombie genre. Think of it like the new, since 2008, Annual Unconventional Superhero Movie rule. Starting with Hancock (by Peter Burg starring Will "Get Jiggy With it" Smith), we've gotten one superhero movie per year that is just in terms of a superhero movie, ridiculous or genre busting. Of course, I am speaking of Watchmen and Kick-Ass. You know, change it up a little. Or maybe just not have bad scripts. Yet, nothing will stop that, I know. But a good idea would be to take note from movies like this, that almost make zombies like a stage or merely a background plot device that will shadow the true depth of the film.
The film starts out with a montage of riots, violent protests, and other instances of chaos that have occurred. Pan out to reveal monkey. Several monkeys, to be exact. Scientists have been doing tests on these monkeys, filling them with rage via these montages, and recording the results. Then the f*ckers at PETA (no offense) or some other animal organization decide that it's best for the monkeys to be free and live like they once did in Being John Malkovich . They release the monkeys already inflicted with rage, the monkeys bite, the receivers bite back, and so forth, and so forth. Cut to a naked Cillian Murphy, playing Jim, who has been in a coma for quite some time. I think it was 28 days- OH WAIT.
Jim wakes up confused, for the hospital is abandoned. Since he was in a coma, he tries to get used to walking around again, breaks into a few vending machines, tries a few pay-phones, then proceeds to enter the streets of London. Much like the hospital, Jim finds the streets abandoned. He wanders for hours, looting anything interesting or useful he sees, and just wanders the messy streets of London. The walls are filled with posters asking for whereabouts of people, talks about the rapture, etc, etc. Jim then finds a church, full of corpses (HAH.) After more exploring, several of the corpses arise, as well as the pastor, who Jim hits in the head with a bag of empty soda cans. Jim, thinking this was a huge sin, tries to escape the ridiculously angry clergy-man, as well as the outraged lay people. Jim is continuously chased by angry Christians (or so he thinks) until he is confronted by Mark and Selena, decked out with bandanas and molotov cocktails. They save Jim, brief Jim, and start their journey... to Jim's parents house. They meet people on the way, like Frank (played by BRENDAN FREAKING GLEESON), his daughter Hannah, and yes, some soldiers. There is no attempt at trying to stop the virus, and there is no attempt to find who is responsible. This is straight up about everyone's survival.
I consider 28 Days Later... as more of a drama than a horror movie. Yes, there are indeed scary and truly intense moments, but underneath all of that foreplay, this is truly a story about people who are at rock bottom who try to work together, despite their relationships, to rise from the ashes like a fucking phoenix. I know, maybe I'm overexaggerrating, but just think about it! It's almost as if the zombies are just a catalyst for the characters' adventure and struggle. Alright, I'll level out here; this is also a great horror movie. But I ask you, faithful, or not, reader, to look past this aspect just a little and observe the characters and story. Their actions, words, and ideas; everything feels surreal, no? These characters play off each other so naturally that you'd get the vibe that you know these people, or at least people fitting to their archetype. This is indeed one of the most realistic zombie movies i've seen in a while, despite it's ridiculous ending, that just happens to not be the zombies' fault. Even then, you see the desperation of humans in this time wherein they are losing EVERYTHING. It's somewhat emotional, the characters and the adventure they embark on. Yet this does not take away from the fact that this movie has zombies. And that's a good thing.
As a horror film, 28 Days Later works if you are already invested into what you are about to watch. A friend of mine knew that it was a zombie movie, and during the intro where everything is set up for him, he got bored and changed it. This is a zombie movie that tends to stray away from the standard. There really is no virus or mutation. Really, 28 Days Later takes the Doom movie approach. The zombies come from rage, which is embodied through blood, which, if spread, will enrage others, turning them into zombies. Interesting, and not too distracting of an idea. In reality, it's very interesting and something that could really make you think in the end.
I'd place this under intense rather than scary, since each scene that you would consider scary is basically a huge fight for survival; everything feels risky and no one is safe. At any point, I could sense one of, if not all, of the protagonists dying. Of course, they wouldn't, because they're needed for the film to work properly, but everything is so fast paced and intense, often frightening, that I wouldn't doubt a random death here or there. The end is where the true scares come in, and really, it's just creepy, Resident Evil 1 mansion-esque horror, but with sped up zombies and people who are really not prepared for this kind of situation. This is where the movie succeeds. 28 Days Later... does not use cheap dog through the window scares or any other real cliche ideas. Everything that happens here that you could consider scary is right up in your face and is strong in showing you what it has to offer. Is the movie scary? Yes, it can be considered very scary, but I'd prefer to just take everything in at once. Because this film is more than scares and intensity.
Surprisingly enough, there is also a fair amount of drama, comedy, and even romance to be found in here. The interactions between the survivors (this is the point where I talk about this like It's Left 4 Dead) range from really heart-felt, emotional, and strong, to a little comedic. Some of the characters ramble, talk about things they had when life was normal, experiences, their life during the zombie attack, etc. It's kind of like the comedy you'd find in The Hurt Locker or Moon; it's subtle but relatable and understandable. Yes, there is a bit of a romantic subplot, but in the end, it feels kind of worth it, even if it is a little sappy and a little cliche. Just watching it play out feels right, though, considering what has just occurred on screen. Nothing feels out of place, neither comedy nor romance, and neither overshadows the overall adventure.
How the movie really draws you in is with this migration the survivors go through. Think of it like watch a real life game of Left 4 Dead, but with no guns. This works to it's advantage, because without guns, the intensity is risen and things get harrier, rather than they would be if they had AK-47s. Actually, the only guys with guns are the true cowards, and are basically the bad guys near the end. But lets move on. Since you actually care about these characters, thanks to the writing, each step they take keeps you invested in the movie, because you just want to see these guys live. That's a major contribution of the beauty of 28 Days Later...
Now, back to writing... the script is good. Generally, great dialogue and bandy is exchanged between characters at a good pace, and everything stands up strong. This is the strong point of the writing, and basically the only thing worth talking about. Another small thing that plays well for the film is the cinematography. 28 Days Later is full of great angles and excellent camera movement. Everything feels and looks grainy, giving off the vibe of a standard DV camera being used, which is actually quite possibly true, from what I've heard. Like what Cloverfield tried to do, this helped get you into the movie, and raises the intensity. There is some shake, but not enough to piss you off with a migraine, but there is enough movement to keep things on their toes. It's even artsy at points, with obscure, yet well thought out shots, and even some surreal Michel Gondry-like foreground work. For instance, there is a scene where the survivors' car is riding along the top of the screen, and below them is a huge as water-color painting of a field of flowers. It's beautiful, and along with it comes an excellently picked song coming from an excellently made soundtrack. The music by John Murphy is intense, filled with orchestra pieces bouncing off of a standard rock band. Everything is placed properly and fits each scene, helping you feel the emotion you should feel. Everything feels just right.
28 Days Later is a special zombie movie. It presents itself quaintly, and will push you into the movie, whether you are ready and interested or not. If so, then you'll easily get comfortable with it's opening statements, than you are on your way to begin an amazing adventure full of excellent things. Complimented by brilliant cinematography and writing, the characters you follow will keep you caring and curious of what happens to them next. Will they make it? Who is going to die next? It's like a long as episode of Lost, but with better writing and less plot twisty. The movie is highly unique, and is one hell of an adventure, with full payoff in the end. Everything works perfectly, and it's all just so well done. Though... this being a british movie, I was disappointed at the lack of Peter Dinklage.
I digress once a-gain. 28 Days Later truly amazing horror movie, that is much more than just horror. But yeah; ZAMBIES!
I decided to do my reviews this way now, doing 5 every other day. These are mainly random movies I pick up or feel like reviewing :D Today, we have Safe Men, The Hurt Locker, There Will be Blood, Death at a Funeral (the new one), and Punch Drunk Love.
Safe Men (1998) starring Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn, by John Hamburg.
4/5 Think the Brothers Solomon meets Bottle Rocket. The bromance between Sam and Steve works, and the mob and crew come off comedically. All the characters bounce off of each other really well, with ease and natural awkwardness. You can feel this movie being friends with movies like Saving Silverman, Dumb and Dumber, and general 90's dumb comedies. It tries to be really good friends with Bottle Rocket or Kicking and Screaming, but they're just acquaintances. Plus, given the plot and circumstances, the movie refuses to really go anywhere farther than it already does; no action... just well thought out stupidity. Nothing truly special or amazing, but a great watch, with some really funny stuff; great dialogue from the man who brought us stuff like I Love You, Man. He's a really good director, making a lot of scenes look good. This seemed to be some sort of a comedic outlet for him; just fun stuff. By the way, the midget in the next movie I'm going to talk about is in this one, too. He's funny.
Death at a Funeral (2010) starring Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence, remake of the 2007 british original.
3/5 A decent ride, but not as good as the original. The comedy came from a place of slapstick, and a lot of punch-line set ups. The sad part is that it's punch line, then end the entire scene. Plus, the dialogue wasn't too good; it was like watching Tommy Wiseau narrate each situation through the characters; stating the obvious. And being somewhat of a dark, dramatic comedy, the original had the proper balance of drama and comedy, giving the dramatic scenes a perfect amount of well timed emotion. While in the remake, the emotional scenes feel unearned and forced, just because, hey, it's a movie about a funeral. Still, an interesting story, as a decent adaptation. Kudos to Danny Glover, James Madsen, and Keith David... everyone else is how they normally are in movies. Honestly, nothing amazing... didn't know what to expect. Hey, I laughed. Isn't that good enough?
There Will be Blood (2007) starring Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano, by Paul Thomas Anderson.
4.5/5 Strong, epic, milkshakes. The only downfall I can find in this movie is that it can occasionally drag on and cause you to lose interest. Other than that, the protagonists are amazingly charismatic and unique; just wonderful to watch. The movie is so intense when it isn't boring, which is a general amount of the time. Sadly, it gets kind of exhausting, having to watch so much power and tension all of the time. But who is complaining? This movie is GOLD. Amazing acting from a well picked cast, brilliant writing and directing from Paul Thomas Anderson, and a general awesome job all around, especially in the score and cinematography. Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano lend strong and often over the top roles to the film, and really make the film special for how it's viewed as special. Strong, often scary words are said and done, giving this movie an amazing edge that other films don't have. This movie is awesome, and don't let anything prevent you from watching this amazing story.
Also, it's okay to laugh.
The Hurt Locker (2009) starring Jeremy Renner, by Katheryn Bigelow.
3.5/5 Hyped up, yet a bit disappointing. Interesting and relatable characters keep this movie alive, as well as some good writing. The problem here is that the movie seems to not know what it wants to be. It claims to be a drama, but it has tons of tension and action, as well as some social commentary. Hell, I even laughed more than I felt emotion. People prided this movie for it's cinematography and directing, but I found it no better than a movie like the Green Zone; shaky, and a bit too much. The general impression of this film is a nice, big old shrug. It's interesting, and does have some drama that helps you relate more and understand where they're coming from, even though you never would, unless you are or have been a soldier. But again, it just didn't seem like it was enough to make it great or to even properly classify it, because it's even on the edge of being a satire.
Punch Drunk Love (2003) starring Adam Sandler, by Paul Thomas Anderson.
5/5 Uncomfortable is how life feels when you are as lonely, sad, or had the same problems as protagonist Barry Egan, who struggles his way through like with all the nuisances and inconveniences. Paul Thomas Anderson's directing managed to make this movie a pure piece of lovable and relatable art. He's managed to write an amazing love story as well as make every scene have a voice and reason behind it; every beautiful shot, cut, line, and etc. The camera work was masterfully handled, and made everything feel so right, even if it was ridiculously uneasy. This is also thanks to the score by Jon Brion, who did some fine music; ranging from crazy scrap percussion to nice, smooth jazz music. And of course, the man of the hour, Luiz Guzman. Okay, not him, but Luiz Guzman managed to provide some great comic relief when needed, and didn't step on anything; he was there when he needed to be. The real hero here is Adam Sandler, who gave the performance of his life time. Finally he was able to step aside from his regular comedic regime and try something new. You know what? It worked perfectly; almost too perfectly. His dramatic and truly sad side were all too real, as well as his outbursts of violence and anger. It's tragically real, and purely beautiful. This movie is excellent.
--- Thank you for reading! I will be doing more of these, since they will give me more time to work on these smaller, bite sized reviews now! Next week, I plan on reviewing The Wackness, Gentlemen Broncos, The Informant!, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Big Fan. Now don't do anything stupid today!
I'm filming my first "movie" today. My first delve into filmmaking... wow. I wonder where this will go? I hope it leads to a career as a filmmaker... Who knows. Anyway, it's basically a commercial for my school's FIlmmakers Club. 30-60 seconds utilizing the camera angles, tips, and strategies mentioned in this small paper I was given on Wednesday. My original Idea was to make the commercial in the different styles of different directors, specifically Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers, and Spike Jonze. We attempted shooting this yesterday, but with the lack of equipment, it turned out pretty shitty. Alas, I'm getting a Sony HDV- HD1000u in October, my birthday, so then, we can make some good... or at least decent, movies. Anyways, now we're just making a skit like PSA, that will still manage to look good. When we're done, I'll post it here, since I'd like some opinions!
Wish me luck, guys! I hope that we will manage to pull off a decent product!
I've been looking at Adult Swim programs for quite some time, and I feel like it's time for me to give some opinions. Some shows I love, with great passion, and some I see as utter stupidity. The current state of adult swim is a weird one, but a 50/50 one.
In my opinion, the best show Adult Swim ever had and most likely will ever have was Moral Orel. Personally, I believe that show is beautiful for what it did in the 3rd season. By no means were the first 2 slouches, because they were indeed hilarious, satirical, messed up, and well written. But man, the dark turn taken by the creators was a smart one. The fact that a lot of the episodes intertwine with one another really boom with reality in a natural way, with the fact that everyone, and I mean everyone, has their problems that they're hiding. Kind of like this American Beauty effect. I never thought I'd say such amazing things about a 15 minutes per episode claymation show. Honestly, it's underlying tones, amazing voice acting, animation, and writing, as well as deliciously dark drama and comedy make the show amazing. Moral Orel was a great change of pace from the other Adult Swim shows, and it's a shame it was cancelled. But it truly deserved a better home... alas, the show was cancelled, but ended with a heartwarming piece of art as it's finale. It's kind of funny, but ultimately, it's one of the most depressing shows I've ever seen, yet it's overall outcome is an amazing one. Just look at this scene below. The animation, raw emotion with the song, etc. Fucking beautiful. It's almost as if the show says, "Hey, this is sad, like a lot of life. You are watching this."
Another brilliant show Adult Swim had and occasionally shows is Home Movies, which is where the creators of Lucy the Daughter of the Devil (which is an awesome show in it's own right, with it's dark and satirical, anecdotal comedy) and Metaocalypse (amazing music, writing, voice work, and plot) worked together before they went separate ways. The improv like banter between the characters, played brilliantly by Brendan Small, H. Jon Benjamin, Sam Seder, freaking Louis C.K and Jonathan Katz, and et cetera was so natural and hilarious. The parodies, good laughs, and awesome story lines for every character, whether dramatic or comedic; all amazing memories and things to watch. Everything about this show just feels so normal and natural, which is why it's so damned charming. It's kind of like a white version of The Boondocks, which is also an amazing show. The writing is genius, and every time I watch it, I feel special inside and like a huge impact has been made. It's a strong show that's hilarious and doesn't hold any punches, which is exactly why I respect it and love it. Both shows are awesome, and really leave a big boot print in your heart of you bother watching.
Shows with a bit of random humor also strike a chord with me. Aqua Teen Hunger Force's old, smart and yet stupid comedy still has me in tears a lot. Most of the time, it has to do with the delivery, which is almost perfect in each episode from each character. Even though the show has taken a turn for the slightly worse, it still has a place in the hearts of many. Tim and Eric Awesome Show: Great Job! is a perfect example of smart and yes completely random and often retarded (sorry) humor. Something about the show is ridiculously addicting, regardless of how dumb it is. Non-sensical ideas, purposely bad editing, and overall funny acting and writing shows that Tim and Eric is... something special. The show is fucking retarded (sorry), but so good at being retarded, that you'll want to keep watching. It's stupidity, which is evoked with the help of some special guest actors (like Zach Galifinakis, Patton Oswalt, Will Forte, et cetera) and their general writing, is genius, if that makes any sense. For example, they got JOSH FREAKING GROBAN TO DO A SKIT. Watch the magic here [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cqtqxGigAQ]. I would like to show you a plethora of other skits, but this one stands out to me as the general brilliance of the show. PS: I'd also like to give Venture Bros. some credit here... hilarious show, along with Frisky Dingo.
Ever since Tim and Eric Awesome Show: Great Job! and Robot Chicken came on, I feel that the general feel of all the new and original shows has been "be as random and stupid as possible." I don't understand the rationale there, because Tim and Eric are good at being random purposely, whereas shows like Xavier: Renegade Angel (which might have some layer of depth there, but it's practically invisible), Superjail! (sorry, pointless violence), Titan Maximum (funny, but gets nowhere, really), Squidbillies (*cough*), Robot Chicken (occasionally funny), and many others aren't good at. Even the winner of that Burger King pilot contest is freaking dumb, and falls under the category of random for the sake of being random. There was another pilot that actually seemed like it had some sort of story, and it was actually quite funny, and reminiscent of the Office UK, which is also showing on Adult Swim. But no, they went with Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town Candy Fudge. I don't get it, is this some sort of new direction that adult swim is taking? Does this sell to a lot of you? If they want this, they should just get Tim and Eric some more air time, because that show is actually funny.
Some shows that are out there that seem like they'd be fit for Adult Swim, like Ugly Americans (from the Superjail guys), or Archer (starring H. Jon Benjamin). These shows are hilarious, and would fit perfectly on Adult Swim's circuit. Hell, they feel like they've been made for the channel... and yet why do they reside on Comedy Central and FX? Is it because it's not what Adult Swim is looking for? Maybe the creators wanted to cover more territory or even avoid working with Adult Swim for some reason. Who knows. I mean what happened to the glory days of Sealab 2021, Space Ghost, The Brak Show, and Harvey freaking Birdman go? The humor in these shows was brilliant, even if it isn't in depth or whatever. At least it was funny and had a sense of entitlement and parody. I even loved Tom Goes to the Mayor (from Tim and Eric), Stroker and Hoop (irreverent and good, plain, old fashioned adult humor), and Assy McGee (*cough*.) I suppose the glory days are over.
A lot of the entertainment I get also comes from non-original shows like King of the Hill, early Family Guy episodes, Mission Hill, the Clerks cartoon, etc. I'm glad they got these shows, I even wish they got more (like Celebrity Deathmatch, Dr. Katz, et cetera.) There are also some shows that would work with their "Brit Block", like Spaced and Man Stroke Woman. My true wish though is that they would come up with some better stuff of their own. Of course, the channel is for adult humor, and there are tons of shows out there that have a spot waiting for them here, but maybe show a little effort. Who am I to judge, though? I just personally believe that they should maybe try and step up their game a little more.
What are your opinions on Adult Swim programs? Are you a fan of a lot of them? What are your favorites/least favorites? Any shows you think should be on Adult Swim?
EDIT: Special mention to the Boondocks (thanks @HypoZenophobia) A hilarious show that satirizes many things others would be afraid of, and manages to be ridiculously good at it. Sprinkle amazing writing that pulls no punches and is close to genius, and some deep themes, and you've got the Boondocks... also this strange anime-esque style animation... it's weird :P
"I can knit the f*ck out of that f*cking sweater." ---
I feel maybe I've been too rough on movies, especially comedies. Not all of them need to be taken so seriously. Some are just for making you laugh; quality entertainment. Kevin Smith's newest non-View Askew film is one for quality entertainment... well... good entertainment. Even though Cop Out isn't necessarily a comedy with depth, it does indeed hold some well timed lines of dialogue you'd expect from a Kevin Smith movie, but in different taste. The trailers released for the film didn't really do it any justice, what so ever. And despite it's context, he even manages to put some geek jokes for a lot of his initial fans to get and laugh at, while still somehow being a little more open to audiences, despite it's vulgarity. I don't know how he did it. Maybe the star power already behind it, you know, general trust in beloved cast. Well regardless of what did it, it works. Of course, nothing is perfect. Some of the acting is strange, essentially hit and miss, there are cliche bits that might make your eyes roll, and a story that has trouble holding itself up, besides it being one that should keep your attention. On the more positive side, this movie shows that Kevin Smith has grown slightly as a director, visually and technically. The film looks good as an action film, and moments of intensity are indeed shot with intensity. I'm proud of Kevin Smith, even though he hasn't really grown up in maturity. But who is complaining, really. Maybe his next movie "Hit Somebody" will show that he knows when to be serious. But lets push that all aside. Cop Out is a fun movie, and that's all I can sum it up to.
Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan managed to be a crack-shot comedy team. Kudos to them. They both get their comedic moments, for the most part busting out jokes that range from moderately funny to pretty funny. But, while being funny, they came off as a little annoying at points. It's as if they were talking with intent of being followed with a laugh track. They might as well of been gradually looking at the camera, making sure it's on them. Also, I think all movie theaters could use a Tracy Morgan subtitle feature, just for when Tracy Morgan is yelling. I mean Tracy Morgan is a loud mother f****r. A lot of the time, I could not tell what the hell he is saying, but I just know that it's pretty funny. And it's a shame, that while Tracy manages to say a lot of really funny lines, he also ends up with dead fish occasionally. Sure they're funny, in a very small chuckle way, but he talks like he's building up to a huge joke, and sometimes that joke just isn't hilarious. Supporting roles from the likes of Sean William Scott, Rashida Jones, and Adam Brody all have their moments, with the exception of occasional annoyances from Sean William Scott. He has a role as this strange comic comic relief that is really annoying but funny. The sad part is that he is funny occasionally, but for the most part he is very annoying, with his constant sex jokes and immaturity. I suppose all of this stupidity is a given, with the film being a bit of a dumb buddy cop-comedy. Yes, it's annoying at times, but overall, they make the movie entertaining, and do manage to be funny.
As you may know, this script was not written by Kevin Smith, which explains the lack of monologue and long dialogues. Well, they're there, but the film isn't driven by words, which is a given since it's an action film. My biggest problem with the script is that it gets too cliche at points. I don't know if they intended on that, kind of like in a parody sense, or they just felt the need to do so. Felt the need to bring in one drama aspect of the protagonists and then occasionally go hey, remember this guys situation, feel bad for him. I mean we already care for the protagonists, since we've already established them as our heroes. I don't see why we have to make Paul's wife look like she's cheating on him or Jimmy's daughter's wedding getting payed by her step-father rather than him due to him being a little strapped for cash. Okay, the Jimmy's daughter thing actually plays into the story, leading them into this whole Po-Boy situation. Still, some of it felt unnecessary, like the two bully cops, one of the protagonists, getting marked as a dirty cop, a bad guy with a strange obsession and tortures his own henchmen who do wrong, and a damsel in distress. Also, sorry to bring this up, but who the hell can spend 9 freaking years with Tracy Morgan, every freaking day. Just a bit of commentary, because I would go crazy, because he'd try to be funny, and succeed at times, but end up bringing up some failed jokes that would just make me nod in disapproval.
Plus, half the time, the jokes brought up aren't really clever, they're just well timed. Kind of like Dane Cook's earlier stand up bits. Just pop some sex jokes, a poop joke, more sex jokes, a joke about a gangster knitting (which was pretty funny), and etc. Of course, it's funny, but there's no style to it. Kind of a shame coming from a Kevin Smith production, but what can you do, as a director I don't think the original writers would appreciate him re-writing the script to his whim. And, for the most part, the humor works, even though it's a bit disappointing. In fact, it seems more in the vain of Dane Cook humor, sprinkled with a Tracy Morgan special, really, which is how I can kind of see it being more open to audiences. I guess it's more comfortable to them, being vulgar while familiar. It's kind of cute, if I could put it any other way; very juvenile. It'll work for some, and just make others go, "Really?"
I've always noticed as a Kevin Smith fan that his style is in script work; mainly dialogue. But this time around, since he wasn't writing the script, I was genuinely worried. Wouldn't you be if Kevin Smith was only directing an action movie? Well he proved me wrong, because Cop Out looks and feels pretty good. Kevin finally got the camera moving some, and even got some really nice shots on there. It's like he took a queue from director friend Quentin Tarantino, because as far as a Kevin Smith movie goes, this looks good. In moments of intensity and action, there were speedy zooms (in and out), great landscape shots, nice Alfanso Cuaron-like shaky camera (very organic and present, like the camera is actually a character), and generally a good sense of motion. I know it goes without saying that being an action movie, Kevin needed movement, or this would just turn out badly. But honestly, overall, it just looks and feels satisfactory. Of course, in moments of talk, some parts even looked good, like a silhouette bandy scene between our two protagonists at a nice angle. I'm proud of Kevin Smith, for managing to become a much better director, and still being able to direct without writing the script. It wasn't auter status direction, but it's good.
To top things off, even the soundtrack was very interesting. The original score consisted of some parody-like work on an 80's cop show. It sounded fun, but sometimes it just didn't match with what was going on, which prevented it from helping the mood. Additional songs were placed very well, keeping things sounding cool or tough when they need to. It's editing was very well done, especially with Black Betty by Ram Jam. That song can be annoying as hell in the beginning, but they managed to skip the singing and go straight to the intense drum-solo bridge to match with a well shot parkour scene. They've managed to skip the bad part of Black Betty and skip straight to the intense part. Finally, someone freakin' does it. I mean, I'm sure someone has done it before, but this just made me happy. Overall the soundtrack sounds pretty good, well picked, but some of the score, while sounding good, was just poorly placed.
Cop Out isn't anything special on the surface, but to Kevin Smith fans, it's a little impressive. And good old Kevin is right; critics can pan on the film all they want, it's still a funny movie. Of course, it isn't a perfect comedy, but it's funny, more than I thought it could've been. It is flawed for sure, and isn't the funniest of Kevin's movies, but outside of comedy, it's technically and visually superior to almost all of his films. Kevin should be proud. He's improved, in several areas. He just needs to move on to better things than dick and fart jokes. But he'll get there. Overall, Cop Out is just a fun movie that is funny and an improvement on the directing style of Kevin Smith. Sure, it isn't the funniest, and it feels very cliche in places, but that's besides the point that it's just fun to watch. Though, I still wish they stuck with the original title, A Couple of Dicks. You should have fun with this one, if you try to not take things too seriously.
3.25 out of 5. Kudos Kevin Smith, it looks good. Now, just work on developing your comedy style, or going back to basics, friend. Also, make a 4th Q&A DVD dammit!