Review: Seven Psychopaths (2012)

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Seven Psychopaths Poster

“You didn’t think I was what? Serious? You think I’m not serious just because I carry a rabbit?”
– Zachariah

Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is a struggling screenwriter that has been trying to write a movie for ages titled Seven Psychopaths. He is having no luck, and his best friend Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) decides to step in and take the reigns, and starts off by feeding Marty some stories about some crazy people. What Marty doesn’t know is that Billy is so intent on helping him write the screenplay that he has gone far enough as to place a classified ad in the paper calling for all psychopaths to contact him and share their stories so that Marty may find that bout of inspiration that he is so desperate for. This way there will be a real inside look, an undeniable link to something that Marty cannot wholly understand or identify with without an inside scoop.

Seven Psychopaths Christopher Walken

Have a beer. Relax. It is only a crazy gangster’s Shih Tzu!

His first visit is from Zachariah (Tom Waits) who tells him that they were serial killers that hunter serial killers, but that his wife Maggie (Amanda Warren) had left him years ago when he could not assist her in murdering some hippy perceived to be the Zodiac killer. Meanwhile, Billy’s associate in crime Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken) is running their business of kidnapping and returning dogs to their owners for hefty rewards. Hans has kidnapped a Shih Tzu named Bonny from her overprotective and psychotic owner Charlie Castello (Woody Harrelson). This helps them nothing when they realize Castello is not looking to give a reward to whomever may return his dog, he is out for blood, and wants to murder the perpetrators.

Marty is rapidly pulled into the Los Angeles underworld due to his friends and their retarded decisions, and his drinking ultimately leads his girlfriend, Kaya (Abbie Cornish), kicking him out. Out of a place to live, and his movie not coming along as famously as he had hoped, the psychopaths start coming to him with their stories, and soon he has enough to fill the book with. He finds out that the stories that Billy has been feeding him are not about fictitious people, but real bona fide people in the world, which unnerves Marty just a bit.

????????????

Such a handsome cravat of a time long past

Hans’s wife, Myra (Linda Bright Clay), is fighting cancer in the hospital, but is murdered by Castello when he makes the connection between Hans and his missing pet, Bonny. Hans no longer has anything to lose, and soon he, Billy and Marty flee to the desert, and the two become very involved with helping him to write his screenplay, and make it a success. Naturally, they grow closer, and though Marty cannot believe that he was sucked into all of it, he is still enjoying the thrill in one of those worrywart manners.

Seven Psychopaths desert

The normal and the psychos

Stuck out in the desert with a stolen pet, are they able to avoid Castello and return the Shih Tzu and get away with it, or are they going to go down in an emotional shootout like Billy wants them to? Will Marty ever finish his screenplay and have it become a crazy big movie, all the while kicking his alcohol habit?

Seven Psychopaths earns a 7/10. I enjoyed sections of the movies, while at times I sat there, mouth agape. It is sharp and smart and most definitely weird, and Christopher Walken delivers another solidly amusing character. You can actually have a look at a “psychopath” in this film, and while it leaves you feeling a little strange at times, at others it is simply hilarious how it all goes down. Woody Harrelson just cracks me up, and the logic of these people in this movie was absolutely absurd, no matter how you look at it. The film jumps between the story as it is happening, the psychopaths and their antics, as well as the screenplay that everyone is assisting Marty with. It was a very good watch, and it was a load of fun, though I don’t feel it deserved to be hyped up as much as it was.

Review: The Cabin In The Woods (2011)

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The Cabin In The Woods Poster

“An army of nightmares, huh? Let’s get this party started.”
– Dana

SYNOPSIS: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods. – via IMDB

 

I liked it, I really did. The end might have been a bit extreme, but it all makes sense if you have watched it all. Definitely not your average or stereotypical horror, though that is naturally your first impression when you see the friends, the road trip, the cabin. I mean, let’s face it, how many movies have we seen go down that very path? This, however, was very refreshing. I have got to give Marty props for the coffee cup bong, apparently weed saves lives. But on a more serious note, it was nice, it had a better twist than I have seen in a while, and all these things deserve mention and merit. I was a bit surprised to see Chris Hemsworth in a role like this, but no worries, it was not too distracting to see him this far out of what he normally does. It was also damn funny at times, and though it was predictable at places (typical horror scenes, but the plot twist was not as foreseeable)  the film was exactly what it needed to be: entertaining. The movie was only just over an hour and a half, but for some reason it felt longer to me, though not in the bad oh-my-soul-it-is-never-going-to-end kind of way. At first glance, the ending seems a bit disappointing, but in retrospect it was actually exactly how the film needed to end, wrapping everything up pretty neatly. I would recommend watching The Cabin In The Woods, a nice twist and bags of fun.

Review: Gangs of New York (2002)

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Gangs of New York 2002 Movie Poster

“When you kill a king, you don’t stab him in the dark. You kill him where the entire court can watch him die.”
– Amsterdam Vallon

For months I have been trying to source the time and energy to watch this movie again. I haven’t watched it years, and got very nostalgic reading a list of someone’s top movies recently. It was time again to go back to the filthy streets of New York and a time that has almost been long forgotten and view the tale anew.

Priest Vallon

Priest Vallon

“Priest” Vallon (Liam Neeson) leads his Irish people and their supporters to fight for their place in America. However, opposing gang leader, Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), has very different feelings about the foreigners infiltrating their land. Calling a final show down in New York between the “Natives” (people born in America) and the Dead Rabbits (Irish Catholics), the men fight until the very death. Young Amsterdam Vallon (Cian McCormack) watches his father, the Priest, killed before his very eyes, and runs. He will not be a captive of the Butcher, and he will never stop fighting, not until his father’s death is avenged. He is, however, caught by the Butcher’s henchmen, and sent to an orphanage.

The Butcher in Town Gangs of New York

The Butcher walks the streets fearlessly

Sixteen years later, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns to New York from the Hellgate Orphanage. Intent on seeking revenge on the man that murdered his father. He is shocked and surprised to see some of his father’s right hand men grovelling and in league with Bill, and cannot believe that things have gone the way they have. Bill has control over the Five Points of Manhatten, and is revered and feared by all. He runs into his old friend, Johnny Sirocco (Henry Thomas), who is the only person who knows his true identity. Slowly but surely Amsterdam works his way into the Butcher’s inner circle, while falling through a very passionate relationship with Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz). Bill takes an especial liking to Amsterdam, and he rapidly climbs the ranks as well as in the esteem of the Butcher.

Gangs of New York Fight

Street brawls

However, New York is riddled with issues, and William “Boss” Tweed (Jim Broadbent) makes use of Bill to keep people in check as well as have certain things done, though this is done on the down low. Amsterdam makes the Butcher a lot of money, and is taught kill shots by the master, who deeply respects the Priest all those years ago, and sees him as the only man worth ever fighting. In between all this, Amsterdam and Jenny are getting hotter and colder all the time, and this does nothing other than piss his friend off, who has guessed at what Amsterdam plans for the Butcher, and gives in out of anger and jealousy, spilling the beans on Amsterdam’s identity.

Gangs of New York New War

Amsterdam Vallon, resurrecting the Dead Rabbits

Surviving the ordeal that Bill put him through, Amsterdam is set on fighting, and comes back with everything he has got. Jenny helps him regain his strength, and whatever past she and the Butcher had, it is over, and she has chosen. From elections to street brawls, the Irish and their supporters are now ready to stand and fight, to take their stand. They will no longer be crushed.

Things get a little mad when the Dead Rabbits run Walter “Monk” McGinn (Brendan Gleeson) for Mayor and he wins. Bill takes this personally and takes care of Monk himself, killing him publicly. This has opened a new avenue to the people of the towns. Bill has asserted his dominance again, but Amsterdam will hear nothing of it. Apparently, neither will Boss Tweed. Full scale riots ripple through the streets and soon catch momentum. Meanwhile, Amsterdam and Bill are intent on ending their turf war, and their people stand by them. Who will control the Five Points when this is over? Will the Irish have a place in the New York that rises from the ashes?

Gangs of New York scores 7/10. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance was simply breathtaking, and he was a great choice. Leonardo DiCaprio was again, for me, suited for the work that he did, and I don’t know why everyone is so upset with his portrayal. He was good, as always, and impressed me. The film was put together well, albeit very long, every question was answered, and in extreme detail. It was interesting to watch a father’s legacy picked up by his son, and continued effortlessly. History was woven into a story that was about something completely different, but Martin Scorcese pulled it off without a hitch. The Butcher was a great character for me, and the psyche behind these men is strange. It was honourable for them to do what they did as well as how they did it. Still, I am not blown away by Cameron Diaz’s acting capabilities, but she was better in this role than most things I have seen her in. She was not as jarring as I thought she would be the first time I saw that she would feature in the flick. A great story with a great cast, it was a wonderful film to watch!

Review: Taken 2 (2012)

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Taken 2 Poster

“I have to find them… and bring your mom back. And then I have to make sure these people never bother us again in our lives.”
– Bryan Mills

I actually wanted to watch this right after I finished the first one, and did not realize that so much time had passed in between my two viewings. I did not expect greatness from this, but damn, maybe a bit more than we got?

Retired CIA Agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) continues his life since saving his daughter, Kim’s (Maggie Grace), life. His ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her husband, Stuart (Xander Berkeley), are pretty much through with one another since what happened when Kim was almost trafficked. Bryan steps in, trying to comfort Lenore as well as get Kim’s life together so she can get her license. He is unimpressed to learn that Kim has a boyfriend, Jamie (Luke Grimes). What he does not know, however, is that he is a wanted man after all the slayings he inflicted when looking for Kim. The families cry for vengeance, and are led by Murad Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedzija), the father of the man Bryan strapped to a chair and electrocuted.

Payback is a bitch

Lenore is upset when Stuart cancels their trip to China for Kim’s spring break, and Bryan offers that they come and stay in Istanbul with him after he has finished a job. They arrive before he decides to pack up and leave, surprising him. He is so thrilled. Soon, Kim starts playing matchmaker between her parents. On their way out one day, Kim says she will not be joining her folks. They leave together, laughing about how it will be, when Bryan notices a car tailing them. He gets Lenore out, but despite all his efforts, he and his ex-wife are taken. Bryan informs Kim of this via the phone just before it all happens, and urges her to seek safety. After all the slayings to save his daughter, this would have had to happen at some stage I guess…

Rocking that stick

Apparently rocking that stick

Kim becomes instrumental in helping Bryan escape from the people, as well as retrieving her mother. Bryan’s best friend, Sam (Leland Orser), who helped plan the surprise for Bryan with Lenore, needs to step up again and see how he can be of assistance to Bryan, but is not the most elemental in the plot. Bryan’s training kicks in full on and he starts devising an escape, even if the plan is rudimentary at best. Bryan needs to learn to not be so overly protective of Kim, and she becomes his greatest help. They need to recover their family and return home to safety as soon as possible.

Will Bryan be able to protect his daughter as well as recover his wife with minimal damage? How will he get rid of the Albanian gang if they are so intent on revenge?

With long teeth I am going to give Taken 2 a 4/10. I mean, I knew there was no ways it was going to be as good as the first (sequels rarely are), but I really expected a bit more than this. I don’t know, all of it was a bit wooden. Liam Neeson was, as always, great, but the rest of the movie did not really flow (even with him!). Not the dialogue, not the acting, and the story left a lot to be desired. Not even the action sequences helped this movie out at all. I don’t know, Taken was fantastic, and there was a lot of hype surrounding it, and there must have been much higher expectations for this one, but Luc Besson let us down, and could not live up to his predecessor. I hated how his daughter battled to drive an automatic back in the States but can suddenly rock a manual as if she at the very least has a defensive/advanced driving course under her belt. Pfffff. I could not buy into that logic, sorry. So no, this movie is actually one that you can go without seeing.