Tag: channing tatum

MOVIE REVIEW | ***CLOSING DOWN WEEK*** A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says:A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is a great movie in a vacuum.”

Saints 1
Recently, in my neighbourhood, I saw something that’s all too common these days.  A video shop that was closing down.  They had a big sign out the front, “4 movies for $10”.  I looked in my wallet, saw $30 and decided I wasn’t leaving that shop until I found 12 movies I thought were worth having on my DVD shelf.  Some were movies I’d seen before.  Some were movies I had a vague idea about and thought would be worth the $2.50 gamble.  Some were oddities I’d never even heard of, but they looked interesting enough.  So, thank you, Network Video Brunswick West.  I never rented anything from you or even had a membership, but I did find some cool, interesting and mysterious things on your almost empty shelves.

“How loud is this fucking city?”

New York movies are almost a genre all of their own.  There are comedies, dramas, horror, action, thrillers and pretty much every other kind of movie within them.  But New York is often the main character of these movies.  These days, New York is pretty much always depicted as some magical place, where things like crime and homelessness are treated as quirky affectations.  But back in the day, the best bit about New York in the movies was how dirty, sleazy and dangerous it was.  You can almost smell movies like The French Connection and Taxi Driver through your TV screen.  And while A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints may have been made in this new millennium era of romanticising the town, it does a great job in making its 80s setting believable through it’s depiction of Long Island at its dirty, sleazy and dangerous best.


After living in California for years, Dito (Robert Downey Jr) is heading home to New York to visit his parents, played by Dianne Weist and Chazz Palminteri. Flashing back to the mid 80s, we get the story of why young Dito (Shia LeBeouf) felt the need to leave.  Hanging out with his friends, including Channing Tatum as Antonio, Dito spends his days chasing girls, causing trouble and fighting with local Porto Rican teenagers. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Foxcatcher (2014)

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“Coach is the father. Coach is a mentor. Coach has great power on athlete’s life.”

When Bennett Miller made Capote, I remember I liked it and thought it was a reasonable enough choice for its Best Picture nomination and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Best Actor win at the Oscars. But it’s not a movie I thought about much after it’s time past, and I’ve never felt the need to see it again. But Miller’s follow up, Moneyball, really made me take notice of the director.


It wasn’t about playing baseball, it wasn’t even about coaching baseball, it was about the back room dealings of managing baseball. That sounds pretty boring, add to that the story’s other a major aspect, maths and stats, and it really is shocking how entertaining Moneyball ended up being. Entertaining enough that when I heard Bennett Miller had a new movie on the way, I was immediately excited for Foxcatcher. (more…)

***2014 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | 22 Jump Street (2014)

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“He has one class in Human Sexuality, and now he’s Harvey Milk.”

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are having a pretty great year. They directed a family friendly animated movie that became one of the biggest box office hits of 2014. When I wrote about The Lego Movie, I said,  “If there’s anything that could have been more of a lazy, cynical, nostalgia based cash grab than a movie based on a cheesy 80s TV show, it’s a movie based on a kids’ toy.  But like 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie has too much genuine affection for its characters and history, to ever be lazy, cynical, or nostalgically cash grabby.”


Now, after already conquering the PG market in 2014, they’re back to kill it R rated style with a surprisingly great sequel to a surprisingly great franchise opener. Making 21 Jump Street anything even close to decent would have been a tough enough task. Following it up with a sequel? There are so many ways that 22 Jumps Street could have been terrible. Somehow, Lord and Miller avoid them all. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | 22 Jump Street (2014)

COL_BILL_TEMPLATE_14
“He has one class in Human Sexuality, and now he’s Harvey Milk.”

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are having a pretty great year. They directed a family friendly animated movie that became one of the biggest box office hits of 2014. When I wrote about The Lego Movie, I said,  “If there’s anything that could have been more of a lazy, cynical, nostalgia based cash grab than a movie based on a cheesy 80s TV show, it’s a movie based on a kids’ toy.  But like 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie has too much genuine affection for its characters and history, to ever be lazy, cynical, or nostalgically cash grabby.”


Now, after already conquering the PG market in 2014, they’re back to kill it R rated style with a surprisingly great sequel to a surprisingly great franchise opener. Making 21 Jump Street anything even close to decent would have been a tough enough task. Following it up with a sequel? There are so many ways that 22 Jumps Street could have been terrible. Somehow, Lord and Miller avoid them all. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SODERBERGH WEEK*** Haywire (2011)

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Trying to predict the career of Steven Soderbergh is a pointless affair. Not only did he crank out movies quicker than any other a mainstream director (except maybe for Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen), he also jumped around from genre to genre more than other director I can think of. There aren’t many film makers who have such a unique and recognisable voice as Soderbergh, yet can translate that voice to almost anything. It’s already wacky enough to think he made the paranoia filled Contagion before moving to the sleazy male stripper world of Magic Mike. But it gets really wacky when you realise that in between those, he made an action beat ‘em up starring a female Mixed Martial Arts star who’d never acted before. And the result was Haywire.


Opening in a highway side diner, we meet Mallory (Ultimate Fighting ass kicker, Gina Carano). She’s waiting for Channing Tatum’s Aaron. Within minutes, they’ve had a massive punch up, she’s won and is fleeing in a car with innocent bystander Scott (Michael Angarano). In the car, Mallory’s story turns into a series of flashbacks to get Scott and the audience up to speed.

Working for Ewan McGregor’s Kenneth, Mallory is part of some sort of clandestine group of elite, black ops style organisation. After a meeting with government official Alex (Michael Douglas), Mallory is sent on a mission in Ireland where she works with Michael Fassbender’s MI6 agent, Paul. This is about the time when everything in Mallory’s life turns to shit. Double crosses turn into triple and quadruple crosses. All allegiances become suspect and the people she trusted most turn out to be the prime suspects in everything going wrong for Mallory.

The biggest surprise with Haywire is that Soderbergh made a totally non ironic, deliberately B grade genre picture. While Out of Sight could kind of be seen as an action movie, it’s so self aware, George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez almost wink at the camera. This is more along the lines of something like The Limey, Soderbergh’s grimey revenge flick. Or Side Effects, an unapologetic thriller. Haywire embraces all the genre tropes of an action movie starring an MMA fighter, with genuine affection, not snarky sarcasm.

When you cast a first time actor in your movie’s main role, I guess there are two ways to go when you build the rest of the cast around them. Either surround the newbie with ringers who can help raise the overall bar of the movie, or surround them with people who are just kind of OK, so you never highlight your lead actor’s flaws. Well, Soderbergh definitely went with option one.

Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas… All of these dudes are overflowing with charisma and have proven themselves to be more than adequately equipped with solid acting chops. And unfortunately for Carano, it does sometimes make her seem a little out of her depth in comparison.

It’s the kind of thing that whenever I think it, I realise I’ve thought it many times, but always manage to forget. But Haywire proves that Steven Soderbergh is a really great director. It seems obvious to say about an Oscar winning, blockbutser making, generation defining film maker, but it’s movies like Haywire that really drive the point home. It’s one thing for him to make a great movie when making something high end like Traffic, or crowd pleasing like Erin Brockovich, but it’s a totally different thing to make a great movie when working with an action beat ‘em up starring a female Mixed Martial Arts start who’d never acted before. And Soderbegh more than makes it work.

Haywire
Directed By – Steven Soderbergh
Written By – Lem Dobbs

 

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SODERBERGH WEEK*** Side Effects (2013)

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If he sticks to his filmic retirement, which is very unlikely for someone so prolific, Steven Soderbergh’s career might have ended with the pretty awesome Behind the Candelabra, but unfortunately, since that was TV movie on HBO, his last cinematic release will be a little more forgettable, way less necessary, and way more reactionaryily dated as more time passes. That movie is Side Effects.


Martin Taylor (Channig tatum) is released from prison, and his first port of call is to visit his wife, Emily (Rooney Mara) in some variety of nut house. The cause of Martin’s incarceration never gets much more attention, but Emily’s nut baggery sure does. She’s suffering from some sort of severe depression, and after being released from, hospital, she deliberately drives her car into a concrete wall at high speed. This time when she’s released, her psychologist, Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), tries some anti-depressants on her, including the new to market, not fully tested, Ablixa.

Soon, the titular side effects cause a devastating incident and the movie takes a weird new direction for the second half. It’s no longer about the patient and her treatment, it becomes more macro, looking at the entire American pharmaceutical industry, its practices and its not so great impact on the world. Who’s to blame when these things go wrong, who’s benefiting from the current system, who are the real victims. Or is that what movie’s about? Because later, Side Effects turns into a pretty standard investigative thriller.

On top of that, there’s Katherine Zeta Jones as Law’s colleague and Mara’s ex-therapist, and the ultimate pariah, peddling her pharmaceutical wares for profit, with any wellness for patients a happy coincidence at best. Her character doesn’t add nearly as much as her icey bitch performance, which is up there as one of the movie’s highlights.

Mara is established early on as the probable main character, but as it progresses, Side Effects becomes more and more the story of Jude Law’s psychologist. Which is good, because he delivers the best performance in the movie, by far. Tatum is great, but his minor role means he’s not given very much to do. Mara is perfectly fine, but I feel like I’ve just seen her in too much recently and am a little burned out on what she does. That’s probably unfair, if anything, I’m just burned out on her based solely on the pretty terrible Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.

As far as targets go for a movie like this, pharmaceutical companies are up there with the softest, like tobacco and gambling. Even as detached as I am from America and this world, I know the pharmaceutical industry is an easy one to attack if you want to get your audience on board with your grandstanding and issue bating. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing to base your movie on, I’m just saying that to me, Side Effects seemed to think it had more teeth than it did.

Side Effects
Directed By – Steven Soderbergh
Written By – Scott Z. Burn