Rapid Review: Black Mass (2015)

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“It’s not what you do, it’s when and where you do it, and who you do it to or with. If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen.”
– Whitey Bulger

SYNOPSIS: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. – via IMDB

black mass

GRADE 7I watched this recently as it came back with some great reviews. Now, while I liked it, I didn’t love it (I feel there are infinitely better gangster movies out there). That being said, this is, without a doubt, the finest Johnny Depp has been in years. I was so stoked to see a movie where he was actually doing something again, wasn’t the same cut and dry quirky character we have seen him embody recently. I liked that, and was reminded why Johnny Depp was so insanely loved at a stage. He was a crazy Bulger, and those contacts he wore really freaked me out (they really looked unnatural). Edgerton was also, as is to be expected, a solid pick for John Connolly, and did a great job with his character. I have to say, the movie played it way too safe. It was formulaic, albeit carried by really good performances. At the end of the day, it used a tried and tested formula, and didn’t even try to push the boundaries, which is a pity considering the cast the film touts. So much more could have come from this. It stays within the bounds of “safe”, but never breaks through to “great”. The pacing is fine, not rushed, not too slow, but at times I wished more focus had been given to certain things and less to others. The characters were not as developed as they could be, and for a true story, I definitely think that more could have been done. Black Mass is certainly not a bad watch, and is absolutely, one hundred percent worth it if you want to see if Depp still has the goods (which he does, here, anyway), because the performances are definitely the highlight of this film.

Rapid Review: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

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what's eating gilbert grape poster

“We don’t really move. I mean, we’d like to, but… my mom is sort of attached to the house. Attached is, I guess, not the right word. She’s pretty much wedged in.”
– Gilbert Grape

SYNOPSIS: Gilbert Grape lives in Endora, a place where nothing much happens. The only times the police get something to do is when Gilbert’s autistic brother Arnie tries to climb up on the watertower nearby. Taking care of Arnie is mostly Gilbert’s task which can be pretty demanding, at least while you are working at the local grocery store. Then one day Becky and her grandmother pass through Endora getting trouble with the car. Gilbert falls in love with Becky, but gets problems when he tries to find time for his own private life. – via IMDB

what's eating gilbert grape supper

GRADE 8I am sure most people have seen this, and if not, that is certainly something that needs to be changed! There is a lot to like about this movie, even after so many years. For one, DiCaprio. Of course I was going to start there, you all know I head up the DiCaprio club around here hahaha. No matter how young or how old, or how complex the role, DiCaprio never ceases to amaze me. His portrayal of Arnie was heartwrenching and heartwarming both at once, and his character was adorable. He really shines here, stands out, and is so totally believable every step of the way. Johnny Depp is not to be forgotten, playing Gilbert Grape, back when he still used to take on diverse roles. I was a fan of Gilbert, he was a complex and layered character, someone I could identify with and root for. The relationship between Arnie and Gilbert is beautiful, and DiCaprio and Depp give it so much power, too. The movie is a slow burn and a heavy drama, so don’t think you are going to sit down, get ninety minutes of simple film, and move on. The story tells us about Gilbert, the obstacles in his life, the people he is surrounded by, his friendships and his family, the burden he bears, and the responsibilities he perceives. Watching his struggles is quite an ordeal, and you admire Gilbert for holding things together for so long. I think he and Becky were a great fit for each other. The humour is very entertaining in here, and at the same time it can get so damn depressing you actually feel it inside (think – bathtub, slaps). The supporting characters all contribute to the story in their own way, too, and help make this film something that lingers after you have seen it. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape gets you thinking on a lot of things in life, and is shot well, the pacing is right, drawing you into a lazy day in Endora, showing us that small town and the life it holds and the people that populate it. I enjoyed this, and would highly recommend this, even after all these years it holds up quite well.

JB & The Chop Do: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

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Well guys, naturally things just took on a life of their own with Eric and I and the movie watching thing, and it seems that Potter and Star Trek were not enough – it occurred to us that there are so many other film canons out there – and they all need to be probed! The next up on our “JB & The Chop Present” feature is the Nightmare on Elm Street movies! I think this is just the perfect way to celebrate the end of exams!

A-Nightmare-on-Elm-Street-Poster-Original

SYNOPSIS: On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends including Tina Gray, Rod Lane and Glen Lantz are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Freddy Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Freddy tries to pick off his victims one by one. When he has you in your sleep, who is there to save you? – via IMDB

JB

I freaking love this movie, I think it’s awesome! Freddy Krueger is just one of those movie monsters that was destined to catch on and become famous. Everyone has nightmares, and everyone is afraid of when your dreams really become a dangerous place, which is why I think this concept worked so well. Freddy’s first outing was fantastic, and remains the best Elm Street film in the canon for me. The reasons are obvious: this film had a story to tell, and everything was fresh and new, and it was not yet a parody of itself. Horror film canons have managed to make that of themselves over the years.

a nightmare on elm street freddy jumps out

Anyway, A Nightmare On Elm Street is just essential viewing if you like horror. You can totally skip the rest if you want, but this one had it all. I can imagine this must have been extremely creepy when it came out, and this one is also slightly more serious than the others that came later, though not as serious as that piece of crap remake.

There were some fantastic scenes here, and this film was gripping and entertaining from the off, and it was most certainly something fresh and new. You dreams are a dangerous place? Yes, please! It starts off innocently enough, bunch of teenagers, blah, blah, blah. Nothing revolutionary here except maybe seeing an extremely young Johnny Depp. Other than that, nothing remarkable. But that soon gives way to the terror that is Freddy Krueger, and it was the smaller things that made this creepy. I was a huge fan of the scene where you see Freddy start his games with Nancy. The way that wall moved and all was just a stroke of pure genius.

a nightmare on elm street freddy wall

Papa Thompson was a real tool, too, and seemed exceptionally insensitive towards Nancy having lost her friend and all that was going on. Not saying she gave a viable explanation or anything like that, just saying he was way harsher than a father should be. Anyhow, the gore in here was not overly excessive (but that might be for ol’ desensitised me, you might have to check that at a more reliable source) but there is a lot, make no mistake, and the effects were really good for its time. I had a lot of fun with the way the film was directed and the way the cast handled the material. Granted, sometimes it suffered from (typical) flawed horror logic, and other times there was some seriously unbelievable acting and reactions, but overall I think that lends to the film, if anything.

a nightmare on elm street tina body bag

When the movie catches and latches onto Freddy messing with these kids, the strange scenes star popping up in an abundance, and that alone it worth sticking around for, even if you completely ignore the rest of what is going on. Let’s also just talk about Robert Englund: he is the only Freddy I will ever acknowledge because he is perfect in the role. He’s so iconic, too, making it damn near impossible for anyone else to helm the fedora and striped sweater, try as they may. He has become inextricably linked to him, and that is cool too. I know Haley tried with the 2010 remake, but seriously man, what the hell kind of Freddy is that?

a nightmare on elm street glen dies

There were some really awesome deaths in A Nightmare On Elm Street, memorable and awesome, and broken and disturbing as that may sound. Yes, I am sure that you can tell, I love this movie, and it is a classic for a reason. There may be flaws, but overall Craven delivered a solid monster and a good concept with plenty gore and a cool story. Don’t waste time. Rectify it now if you haven’t seen it, or just go watch it again.

The chop

I think I should start this off by saying that, unlike our last project, I’ve only seen two of these – this one and the third one – as a challenge from another bloggy person. I remember liking the first one OK but I thought the third one was a little silly and the way I remember seeing all of the commercials for these things was Freddy spouting cheesy one liners that deterred me from having any real desire to see them, in the theater or elsewhere. So, when our last project was winding down and we both agreed we wanted to do another one, JB suggested this as she loves these movies and who am I to say no to The Most Beloved JB??? So I bought the set for pretty cheap off Amazon and popped in the first one the other day and it was going pretty good until I saw this:

freddy krueger chasing Tina2

What the FUCK is Freddy doing running like that????? Is he getting ready to hump a barrel full of pickles or something??? I seriously did some LOL-ing and thought, “MMM HMMMM this is what I fucking thought!!!! This shit is going to be so stupid!!!! I’m going to have to give JB a lashing (or something)”. Then this happened:

NOESa

That was pretty fucking impressive and got me excited for the rest of the movie!! I do love it when people go flying off and spinning around in the air! For real! So we had that goodness and then that scene in the hallway that JB captured up above was pretty fucking sweet and then, unfortunately, there was a little bit of this:

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And I was all:

NOESd

EWWWWW What the fuck??? Really??? but then there was some of this:

NOESe

And I got too see a boob, so that was redeeming. But then it ended on kind of a dodgy note:

NOESf

In any case – I liked this one pretty much! It’s not going to beat out Halloween as my favorite start to a horror franchise but I thought most of it was pretty good – with a little cheese thrown in. This was VERY bloody – surprisingly so IMO. But I will tell you this – I sure had fun putting together this post. I’ll tell you something else – I need a fucking haircut!

Rapid Review: Transcendence (2014)

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“Once online, a sentient machine will quickly overcome the limits of biology. And in a short time, its analytic power will become greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world.”
– Will Caster

SYNOPSIS: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed-to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him. – via IMDB

johnny-depp-transcendence-good question

GRADE 3.5What the hell man? Johnny Depp’s redeeming role… that’s what this was supposed to be. Instead I saw a drunk Jack Sparrow scientist in the beginning. However, he was massively improved by the end of the film. I was not a fan of the plot whatsoever, and it was incredibly sad to see such a great cast go to waste. I mean Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, and Cillian Murphy? Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall? It was just such a disappointment overall, and I want to make mention of how stupid it all was. Meh. I feel like I wasted so much time here, and I will never get it back. I mean the reviews came back pretty negatively, but even though I was not necessarily excited to see it, I still wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I was hoping for something worthy or Depp’s talent. It started just fine, and then it just lost the plot. And not gradually, either. It’s like the ground opened up and it went into freefall. The script left a lot to be desired, although the plot progression was the one thing that was more sturdy than most other aspects of this. Plus there was Kate Mara, and I really don’t like her very much, so she just irritated me endlessly every time she came on screen. Depp only impressed me more towards the end – those of you who have seen this, I am sure you will agree that it was more of a call back to the older Depp style. Overall, the movie was ludicrous. I just could not slot in with what was going on at all, which is a pity. I really wish it had been something more.

Review: Blow (2001)

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blow movie poster

“Sometimes you’re flush and sometimes you’re bust, and when you’re up, it’s never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, you never think you’ll be up again, but life goes on.”
– Fred Jung

George Jung (Johnny Depp) refuses to be poor like his parents after they lost everything when he was younger, and does everything he can to not be that way. His father, Fred (Ray Liotta), tries to teach him that there is more to life than money. George moves to California with his best friend Tuna (Ethan Suplee). Everything that side is completely different, and a new world lies at their fingertips. George meets his girlfriend Barbara Buckley (Franka Potente), an airline stewardess, and soon they are on a new mission. Tuna comes home with the idea of selling weed in California, but brings a really terrible quality one back with him to start with. Barbara introduces to boys to Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens), the main dealer their side.

blow cocaine cash

“I think it’s fair to say you underestimated the market, Derek.” – George Jung

Together they make a lot of money, but it is not enough George. An old friend from Boston named Kevin Dulli (Max Perlich) runs into George and Tuna in California, and tells them that they could make a fortune with their weed back home. George is struck by an idea and gets Derek on board with having dope flown into Boston through Barbara. Soon, however, the demand outstrips the supply, and alternative means of getting weed need to be thought of. George goes to Mexico, and brokers a deal with a pot farmer there for a lot more supply. George is bust in Chicago with a lot of marijuana, and gets two years. He skips out on his jail sentence when he learns that Barbara is dying of cancer. Returning home after Barbara’s death, his mother Ermine (Rachel Griffiths) has him arrested, and he is sentenced.

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“Danbury wasn’t a prison, it was a crime school. I went in with a Bachelor of Marijuana, came out with a Doctorate of Cocaine.” – George Jung

In prison, he befriends his cellmate, Diego Delgado (Jordi Molla), who inaugurates him into the cocaine business. They meet up with cartel officer Cesar Rosa and negotiate a way to smuggle fifteen kilos of cocaine around as a sign of good faith. Though he is violating parole, George gets away with it. Diego is arrested again for something, and requests that George collect some cocaine he left with a friend. After being threatened, George needs to move fifty kilos of coke and soon, and brings in Derek from California. The two sell the fifty kilos in record time. Pleased with his skills, Columbian drug lord Pablo Emilio “El Patrón” Escobar Gaviria (Cliff Curtis) flies George and a now free Diege to Medellin, Columbia, where they are proposed a business deal. Together they become the top US importers, though Diego has no clue as to Derek’s identity, which causes friction between the partners. At Diego’s wedding, George meets his future wife Mirtha (Penélope Cruz). He now has the Columbian wife and partner.

blow when things got rough

“So, you’re the man, huh? Who takes fifty kilos and make them disappear in one day.” – Pablo Escobar

However, Diego betrays George and cuts him out, stealing Derek as his contact after a lot of pressure forced George to reveal his source. Immensely rich, George leaves the game to concentrate on his pregnant wife, and embraces fatherhood wholeheartedly when his daughter, Kristina Sunshine Jung (Emma Roberts), comes along. George’s life is quiet, though his marriage with Mirtha is empty. Mirtha organizes a huge birthday party which gets raided by the FBI, and George is once again arrested. He agrees to take the fall so long as hi family is safe. Intent on getting his money in Panama, he finds out that his bank account has been seized and that he is broke. Suddenly, he and Mirtha have the same marriage his parents had, where his father was trying and his mother was always complaining. Mirtha has George arrested again when he tries to make some money for the family by moving cocaine again.

George’s life is falling apart and his daughter despises him. During his incarceration, Mirtha divorces him. He has nothing waiting for him on the outside. What will George do when he gets out? How will he make his money? Will he be able to salvage his relationship with his daughter that is founded upon a million broken promises?  Will George be out of the game for good? Will he find a way to fix the issues between himself and his mother, even if just for the sake of his father?

A 7/10 for Blow. Johnny Depp delivered a simply stunning portrayal of George Jung. The movie had an interesting layout, and is fantastic if you don’t try to tie the personal things back too closely to the events that went down. It is highly entertaining, though I must say Penélope Cruz irritated me no end. She was simply dreadful to watch, and work on each and every remaining nerve that I have. She was not good to listen to, and brought nothing to the table. Ray Liotta was excellent, though Rachel Griffiths was also dreadful – not as an actress or her portrayal, but her character. What a horrible person! I must give the film credit for having a fantastic soundtrack, I enjoyed it. George Jung seems to be a little egocentric, though Johnny Depp almost tried to give him more depth. He was not really a dangerous criminal, but his ambition did outstrip his talents. He was not what you could call the best dad, leaving a trail of broken promises and mistrust galore in his wake; it is little wonder his daughter was hurt so badly. However, I do not think that Mirtha was a really good alternative to have as the primary parent – she was mad. I thought the history of how cocaine spread through the States was incredibly impressive. The planning and execution was no small feat, and people were on a roll, but as always, greed will prevail. The one thing that defines this movie to me is truly Depp’s performance – he is an amazing actor. I wish he would do more dramas again as opposed to just the cuckoo characters (not that he doesn’t play them to the tee, but he is far more talented than just that). There were some crazy situations and incidences that you came into contact with in this film, and the story in incredible. There were flaws to this film, but overall it was solid, well put together and a good watch, though from what I read, they seriously skewed the viewers’ perception on who and what George Jung is. Worth the watch though, even though Cruz is an absolute disaster. She really detracted from the story for me.

Early Christmas Haul!

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DVDs The Shining, The Green Mile, Forrest Gump, Edward Scissorhands

Yesssssssssssss! I am so thrilled with the gifts I got from my one colleague and my boss! My colleague I could understand buying The Shining for me, she knows how much I adore it. But my boss to have bought me Forrest GumpThe Green Mile and Edward Scissorhands?! (She is usually the bath salts kind of gift-er).

So here I am, with some great titles to add to my ever growing collection! I cannot wait to watch them! My holiday starts today, so I will have plenty of time to devour each and every one of them. Two Stephen King creations, a cliché but always fantastic Forrest Gump (I really don’t care what anyone has to say about it, I love the film) and a Tim Burton flick? Not bad, not bad!

I love it when Christmas occasionally comes early. So now off to enjoy some greatness, and I will be posting about them all soon!