Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

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“I have loved her even when I hated her… only married couples’ll understand that one…”
– Cal Weaver

SYNOPSIS: A middle-aged husband’s life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a newfound friend, Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars. – via IMDB

You know, the more I watch this movie, the more I enjoy it. I watched this years ago at the behest of Natasha, who knows I cannot really stand rom-coms, but does know what type I can deal with. When she told me to check this out, I figured why not? She won’t just recommend me anything in this genre, so it had to be decent. Plus two, the cast is fantastic. Let me tell you, this movie is great, and I grow constantly more fond of it. It is just so much fun.

I enjoyed that this was not some stupid, soppy, desperate love story. This looked at people who have lives that fall apart – midlife crises that aren’t dealt with, cheating, insecurities, all of it. It explores embracing yourself, letting other people in, dealing with issues head on, so many things. I enjoyed the themes of this movie. And yes, love is an extremely prominent theme, but it does not make you want to retch, so that is a good thing! Crazy, Stupid, Love knows what it is and what it wants to be, and goes with it. It is smart, funny, witty, and sweet, and I appreciated all those things.

Let us not even remotely forget the cast. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are absolutely phenomenal here, and have ridiculously amazing chemistry. Really, I could watch them all day together. This is one of two movies where Steve Carell does not grate on my last nerve, and Julianne Moore is, as always, well worth the watch. Kevin Bacon’s moments were also those of pure entertainment, especially as the movie progresses. What a boring man! Also, everyone worked well together. I particularly appreciated Jacob taking Cal out to begin their main training. Oh boy!

There were plenty awkward moments, plenty funny and plenty sweet, but everything works. This is the kind of romantic movie I can revisit without feeling just plain down ridiculous. There is a lot to like about it, and a movie you can get away with watching with your other half without them wanting to slit their wrists. As you can tell, I quite like this one for a variety of reasons, and I can highly recommend it.

Oooh, oooh, before I go. Women across the globe will thank Hannah for not letting him put his shirt back on after assessing his Photoshopped beauty. For science…

Skip the trailer, just go straight to the movie.

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

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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: Super (2010)

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“You don’t butt in line! You don’t sell drugs! You don’t molest little children! You don’t profit on the misery of others! The rules were set a long time ago. They don’t change.”
– Frank D’Arbo

SYNOPSIS: After his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer, an everyday guy transforms himself into Crimson Bolt, a superhero with the best intentions, but lacking in heroic skills. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6So I checked this out because Eric absolutely loved it, and it looked interesting. Let me tell you, this is totally not what I expected it to be. At all. Dark comedy for sure, but the biggest thing that comes from this is real sadness, loneliness and desperation. I felt so freaking sorry for Frank. Everything about him was just pitiable, and Rainn Wilson did a great job in bringing his character to life. Kevin Bacon was a serious asshat, icky! Then, of course, there is Liv Tyler, post screwing up her totally beautiful face. Ellen Page, too, is a character that is pretty cool until she puts on her costume. It’s like she totally freaks out, and I didn’t like it. Overly sexualised, manic, stupid, I could not bear her character by the end of it, which is quite disappointing. Not to mention one absolutely disgusting forcible scene that comes up towards the end – it did not sit well with me at all. Anyway, this story starts and it is already sad, injects some strange bits of humour in here, but it didn’t always work for me (and I am a big fan of a dark comedy), and it keeps going, sad, depressing, lonely. Those words are truly the three words to describe Frank and his existence. Nathan Fillion pops up from time to time as the incredibly ridiculous Holy Avenger, and the little TV stints he and the “students” had cracked me up – Fillion is always up for the crazy. Let’s not even forget to mention that Rob Zombie voiced God. That was awesome. I think the best thing about this film was the cast, hands down. The story was good, albeit a little silly, but I liked it. I enjoyed that everything was not perfect for The Crimson Bolt – he looked absurd, his crime fighting took forever to take off, when it did it was legitimately violent (like some fry cook literally going out and busting up dealers, totally the thing you could picture if someone did take this on), and his partnership building with Boltie was just so strange. It looks like I have had a lot to say about this, but I actually haven’t really had anything to say about it. It is dark, it is strange, it is weird, it isn’t bad, it is something you are certainly going to have to check out in order to make up your own mind about it.

Sporadic Scene: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) – Family Reunion

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Do not watch this if you have not watched the movie, it is a bit of a spoiler!

This scene is undeniably one of the very best things about Crazy, Stupid, Love. I mean it was wholly unexpected the first time I watched it and geniusly crafted, the family reunion had me in stitches. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, but it was handled with aplomb, and it definitely the standout scene of the movie. If you have not seen this yet, you have got to get to it!

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).

Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

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“Mutation. It is the key to our evolution. It is how we have evolved from a single-cell organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few millennia evolution leaps forward.” 
– Professor Charles Xavier

In a concentration camp in Germany, 1944, young Erik Lehnsherr (Bill Milner) is separated from his Jewish family. In a panic state, he reaches out to them and through some force pulls down the metal gates. Naturally, this piques the interest of Dr Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), who brings Erik in to study him. Ordering Erik to move a coin, he expects results. When nothing happens, he orders Erik’s mother to be shot before him, which gets the powers going, and he kills the guards and wrecks the room. Erik is a changed man. Back in the states, a young telepathic boy named Charles Xavier (Laurence Belcher) makes the acquaintance of another mutant, a shapeshifter, named Raven Darkhome (Morgan Lily). She moves in with the family and becomes his foster sister.

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“We are the children of the atom. Radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans will only make us stronger.” – Sebastian Shaw

In 1962, Erik (Michael Fassbender) has made it his life’s work to track down Schmidt and kill him for what he did to his mother. Charles (James McAvoy), on the other hand, has made quite the name for himself after having studied genetics. Raven is still with him, though the two seem to be slightly at odds about what mutation means to them. CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is assigned to follow US Army Colonel Hendry (Glenn Morshower), where she sees him enter the Hellfire Club. There she sees him converse with Schmidt, now known as Sebastian Shaw. With Shaw are his partners, the telepathic Emma Frost (January Jones), teleporter Azazel (Jason Flemyng), and Riptide (Álex González), a mutant who can produce cyclones. He is teleported out of there, and advocates the deployment of nuclear missiles in Turkey. Nobody at the CIA believes Moira, and she decides to take matters into her own hands. She approaches Charles for his advice on mutation, and takes him and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with her to discuss matters with the CIA director John McCone (Matt Craven). It does not go the way that she was expecting, and he flips out. Another CIA agent (Oliver Platt), offers that they accompany him to “Division X”, a secret facility with mutants at the core. There they meet Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), a genius scientist.

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“I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.” – Erik Lehnsherr

Charles meets Erik when Shaw has been tracked down (Moira’s people have found him). It seems that Erik has also finally worked out the whereabouts of his nemesis. Charles manages to rescue Erik, who damn nears drowns when attempting to pull Shaw’s submarine out of the ocean. Together they head back to Division X, where Erik meets the team. Hank explains that he has developed a machine called Cerebro, one that cal locate other mutants. Charles uses this machine with his telepathic abilities and tracks down mutants. He and Erik set out across the country to recruit these mutants to join them. They discover Alex “Havok” Summers (Lucas Till), Sean “Banshee” Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones), Armando “Darwin” Muñoz (Edi Gathegi), Angel Salvadore (Zoë Kravitz). These kids all get together and seem to enjoy themselves, picking their mutant names and dubbing Charles “Professor X” and Erik “Magneto”. Erik sets out on a revenge mission to take down Shaw, with Charles and Moira coming along. However, Shaw is not at the designated meeting place in the USSR, and Erik flips out. Charles ultimately goes to help him, and there they capture Emma Frost. It seems that Shaw is intent on starting World War III. Returning to Division X, they find that the place has been wrecked, Riptide, Azazel, and Shaw had been there, killing everyone but the mutants. They were recruiting, and only Angel left with them. The kids are in shock. Erik gets them set on a path for vengeance, to avenge the death of Darwin, to make things right.

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“Are you really so naive as to think that they won’t battle their own extinction? Or is it arrogance?” – Erik Lehnsherr

Shaw has managed to convince the USSR to install missiles in Cuba. Hank is sure that Raven’s DNA contains the cure for their appearances, and develops a cure. Erik, on the other hand, is advocating that they should be proud of being mutants, and encourages Raven to remain in her natural blue form. Charles has a mansion which he uses for them all to move to, somewhere where they can train, master their abilities. Will they be able to stop Shaw? Will Shaw succeed in starting World War III?

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“There’s so much more to you than you know, not just pain and anger. There’s good in you too, and you can harness all that. You have a power that no one can match, not even me.” – Charles Xavier

An 8/10 for X-Men: First Class. This is really a favourite of mine, something I have fun with all the time. I think it was incredibly well put together and that a wonderful cast was chosen to represent the younger mutants we have come to know and love over the years. James McAvoy is a phenomenal younger Charles Xavier, and I cannot fault his performance. I liked how he managed to bring it though (especially watching him with Raven), that he was preaching something but not necessarily always practising it in his youth. He talks about being proud of being a mutant, but is always encouraging Raven to hide herself. McAvoy is an incredibly talented actor, and this was just another place he shone. Then there is Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr, and I thought that he was also just fantastic as a young, powerful and incredibly embittered man on a revenge mission of note. Kevin Bacon was entertaining as Shaw, and really was just an evil dude. I liked the effects of this movie, the back story for all the characters as well as who was cast to play them now. I liked the progression of the plot, it construed the story nicely and wasn’t too jumbled. I thoroughly enjoyed Hugh Jackman’s cameo as Wolverine in here, had me laughing. Watching Charles and Erik develop and begin their fantastic friendship was awesome. They were both at opposing ends in their beliefs, but friends down at the core of it all with an immense amount of respect for each other. Jennifer Lawrence is also a pretty cool younger Raven, and I thought she did that rather well, handling Raven’s confusion about being a mutant as well as where/how she fits in to society. A wonderful addition to the franchise, and definitely a much needed breath of fresh air.

Review: Mystic River (2003)

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“Sometimes I think, I think all three of us got in that car…”
– Sean Devine

Three boyhood friends encounter a dreadful turn of events when two hebephiles pick one of them up. Dave Boyle (Cameron Bowen) never stood a chance, and Jimmy Markum (Jason Kelly) and Sean Devine (Connor Paolo) are left to watch their friend being taken away while under the assumption that he was picked up by cops. Their fathers have a fit and soon everyone is looking for Dave. Dave manages to escape from the two men after days of abuse and return home. Their childhoods have been changed forever.

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“I guess I don’t know my own strength.” – Young Dave

Twenty five years later they have each moved on with their lives in different directions. Jimmy (Sean Penn) quit the criminal life and owns a little store and has a wife and three daughters, Sean (Kevin Bacon) is a detective with the Massachusetts State Police with a wife who has run off and Dave (Tim Robbins) is a regular blue-collar Joe with a son and a wife. Jimmy has a nineteen-year-old daughter named Katie (Emmy Rossum) who plans to run off with her boyfriend Brendan Harris (Tom Guiry) and get married in Las Vegas, though Jimmy has no inkling of this. However, those plans stop dead in their tracks when Katie goes out with her friends one night for a final party and is brutally murdered on the way home. Just like that, it seems that the three parted friends will come together again.

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“I know in my soul I contributed to your death.” – Jimmy Markum

Jimmy is crushed to learn that his little girl was murdered. Sean feels for his friend when he sees the man, though pleads with him to keep his in-laws and all those criminals out of it so that he can conduct his investigation without hassles. Sean and his partner Whitey Powers (Laurence Fishburne) track down every available lead to bring justice to Katie. Sean, on the other hand, has put the Savage brothers on the lookout, with Val (Kevin Chapman) in the lead. His wife, Katie’s stepmother Annabeth (Laura Linney) knows that her husband may need to exact revenge on whoever screwed up his daughter’s life. On the other hand, Dave’s marriage strains when he returns home the night of Katie’s murder covered in blood and spinning a flimsy story of having retaliated when a mugger attempted to attack him, and his wife Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) soon decides that Dave must have killed the young girl. She is terrified, and soon the investigation touches onto her husband, and her paranoia goes into overdrive.

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“How long till you catch my daughter’s killer? I need to know.” – Jimmy Markum

What happened to Katie Markum that night? Who killed her? Is Dave in any way connected to the gruesome events of that night? Will Jimmy be able to hold his things together? What will the investigation turn up? Will Jimmy and his family ever recover? Will Sean bring them peace of mind? What will Celeste do about Dave?

An 8/10 for Mystic River. I was really impressed with how loyal the movie remained to the book. Naturally, there were a few small changes, but nothing that actually detracted from the story or the progression and development. I thought it had an excellent cast that manages to capture and portray the characters almost exactly as you would perceive them to be from the books. Sean Penn was the embodiment of Jimmy Marcus (books, Markum in the film), and Kevin Bacon completely held down the part of embittered cop who is separated from his wife and on a mission. All in all it came together well – the pacing was right, I enjoyed the camerawork, the performances very good, though I did find the music to be a bit strange, like something from a much older movie altogether. I would recommend this film, not only to readers, but to anyone that enjoys a good and solid drama. Clint Eastwood did a damn fine job of bringing this depiction of Mystic River to the fore, and is incredibly impressive.

Review: Sleepers (1996)

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“A number of the inmates, as tough as they acted during the day, would often cry themselves to sleep at night. There were other cries, too. Different from those full with fear and loneliness. They were low and muffled, the sounds of pain and anguish.Those cries can change the course of a life. They are cries that once heard, can never be erased from the memory.”
– Lorenzo Carcaterra

Four friends from Hell’s Kitchen, New York are inseparable in the mid-1960’s. Lorenzo “Shakes” Carcaterra (Joe Perrino), Michael Sullivan (Brad Renfro), John Reilly (Geoffrey Wigdor) and Thomas “Tommy” Marcano (Jonathan Tucker) spend their days together leisurely, getting up to no good. There is a local priest in the area named Father Bobby Carillo (Robert De Niro) with whom the boys get along really well, and who is constantly looking out for them. Father Bobby’s plans get sidetracked a little when the boys get involved with King Benny (Vittorio Gassman), a local gangster. It is small things at first, but issues arise, and more than ever Father Bobby tries to help the boys out.

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“This is a true story about friendship that runs deeper than blood. This is my story and that of the only three friends in my life that truly mattered.” – Lorenzo Carcaterra

One ridiculously hot summer’s day, the four friends make a massive mistake. Michael sees an opportunity when a hot dog stand opens in the street below, and figures that someone will steal a hot dog. Either they will get away scot-free, or the vendor will chase the thief and all the friends get to eat free then, too. Stealing the hot dog, the vendor chases him down. Michael, John and Tommy all steal some hot dogs, and their plan soon evolves beyond that into stealing the entire cart, which they do. Lorenzo eventually catches up to them and they have to get rid of the cart. Taking it to the subway station, they wish to hold it on top of the flight of stairs and give the vendor enough time to grab it, giving them all the time that they need to escape the man unscathed and well fed. Instead, the cart slips and damn near kills a man. The boys are sentenced to serve time at the Wilkinson Home for Boys. Father Bobby tried everything he could to get the sentences suspended, but the best he could do was get them shortened. Their lives will be irrevocably changed.

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“You got rules and you got discipline. That’s the beginning of the story and that’s the end of the story. Do we understand each other?” – Sean Nokes

The boys go to Wilkinson’s, where everything they expected gets shattered. Sean Nokes (Kevin Bacon), Adam Styler (Lennie Loftin), Henry Addison (Jeffrey Donovan) and Ralph Fergusen (Terry Kinney) break the boys down. They are raped, molested and seriously abused. They learn early on that resistance is futile, though from time to time they try to fight back. Naturally, it ends in disaster and pain for them. Father Bobby comes to visit where the rest of the boys’ families don’t at their behest, and Lorenzo pleads with Father Bobby not to come back and see them. The boys swear to keep their entire ordeal a secret. Years later Tommy Marcano (Billy Crudup) and John Reilly (Ron Eldard) encounter Nokes in a restaurant and they exact their revenge, shooting him to death with a lot of witnesses present. Michael (Brad Pitt) is now a district attorney and calls a meeting with Lorenzo (Jason Patric), who is now a newspaper reporter. Their revenge plan has been set into motion, maybe a little different than they may have planned, but either way it is underway. Michael wishes to prosecute the case, though underhandedly he is planning to mess up the whole affair, making sure that Tommy and John walk, though it cannot look that way.

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“Revenge. Sweet lasting revenge. Now it’s time for all of us to get a taste.” – Michael Sullivan

King Benny is called in for assistance, and it is all hands on deck. Michael has been researching for years, and is ready to play the role of prosecutor as well as secret defender. Danny Snyder (Dustin Hoffman) is representing the boys, and is doing pretty much everything that Michael has put together to ensure that the case goes smoothly. Tommy, John and the neighbourhood have no idea that the entire trial is a setup, and Michael has become public enemy number one. Will he be able to free his friends while exact the revenge that they have all thirsted for for so many years? Will the entire truth about what happened at Wilkinson’s ever come out? Will the neighbourhood band together to help the boys, no matter what the situation? Will the Wilkinson guards ever really pay for their indiscretions?

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“Father Bobby would have made a good hitman. It’s a shame we lost him to the other side.” – King Benny

Sleepers scores a 6.5/10 for me. This film had that aspect of making me so damn angry to see what was going on, no matter what is said and done at the end of the day. Watching the four cheeky friends growing up was nice, their stupid mistakes and their good sides. Robert De Niro was great for his role as the Catholic priest. It is like he was designed for the role and the role for him. He didn’t pretend to be too pious but also nothing disrespectful. It was a fresh approach to priests in film, and I can certainly imagine that it would garner a better response in real life if you had someone that was more like that. I did feel that he was rather underused though. However, all the funny stuff was over with the moment that those boys went to juvie. Dammit, so was my sense of humour. There are very few things that can really set my teeth on edge and my temper off in a moment, but child molesting is one of them. The brutality suffered at the hands of those guards was disgusting to witness, though thank goodness they didn’t show everything, just enough to get that rise out of you. Anger and sadness is what comes to the fore watching their incarceration and their inability to do anything about it. Kevin Bacon was good in his role, which also sort of depressed me, if you know what I mean? I never wanted to see him as one of those totally nasty wastes of life. I felt vindication for those boys when they shot and killed Nokes, though I honestly feel that he got off way too early. Brad Pitt impressed me as his role as attorney as well as double agent with his own solo play, and needs to be given credit for that. The film shows a lot of the underworld as people don’t usually see it: dangerous, but with purpose. Their own neighbourhood and the inhabitants that would be protected, the dangers that are ever present, but also the way that people know what is right and wrong and what they can and cannot do as well as all the fun that is also to be had with your people, people that are shunned by the world but are yours nonetheless. I would recommend this for a watch, but be warned that there is plenty to get edgy about.