Sunday, March 23, 2008

No Country for Old Men

You Can't Stop What's Coming.

No Country for Old Men
has the unmistakable mark of a Coen brothers film. It's part thriller, part comedy, part western, part action film. Somehow the Coens are able to wrap all of these elements into one fantastic film. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem weren't that famous before this film, but they are now and their careers will certainly take off from here- they both gave smashing performances. There is no way to describe the experience of a Coen brothers film. It's not heartwrenching or a "ride of your life" really. I guess it's as close as you're going to get to swashbuckling cowboy-pirate-assassins in Texas duking it out as who will end up the most ultimate badass. It's just...a story. It's epic because it's not. It'll scare the sh*t out of you but you won't be able to look away. It's the Coen brothers, what more can I say?

Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) is your average dude. He's a Vietnam vet, lives in Texas in a trailer; his wife works at Walmart. Out hunting deer, Llewelyn stumbles across a drug exchange gone wrong. Everyone's dead; there are the drugs and there's the money, so why not take the money? It's a decision that will give him far more trouble than is worth even two million dollars, because the bad guys are about to come looking for it. Psychopath Killer on the rampage to kill Llewelyn is quite possibly the devil incarnate. Asked to describe how dangerous he is, one character replies, "Compared to what, the bubonic plague?" This guy is pretty much pure evil through and through. And he's coming for Llewelyn Moss. Trying to catch up with both of them as Llewelyn runs for his life, is Tommy Lee Jones as the local sheriff and Llewelyn's wife, Carla Jean.

In a Coen brothers film, you can't pick favorites. ALL of the casting is great; ALL of the acting is great; the cinematography is gorgeous too. How can a film that won 83 of 114 film award nominations be criticized? I really did love Brolin's performance; he really embodies his character. And Bardem's character won't just give you the chills, he'll give you nightmares. This is one of Tommy Lee Jones' best roles, mostly because he just gets to play himself. And Kelly MacDonald, the Scottish actress, sure does pull off a great west Texan accent.

Conclusion: The Coen brothers create instant classics. No Country For Old Men is no different, it really is incredible.

Rated: R for
strong graphic violence and some language.

  • Heath Ledger had been in talks to play Llewelyn Moss
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen share the record of four Oscar nominations for a single person (in this case, shared by the two)
  • The credited editor for this film, Roderick Jaynes, is a pseudonym for Joel and Ethan Coen. Despite his non-existence, Jaynes was nominated for an Oscar for editing No Country For Old Men.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Hayden Christensen is back as a new version of Anakin Skywalker. Luckily, George Lucas didn't write the script for this film or we'd be in real trouble. A young man discovers that he holds extraordinary powers but then finds himself in the midst of a war that has been going on for a millennium between the forces of good and the forces of darkness. He must choose sides with his parent or with his girlfriend (who, thank God, doesn't end up being his sister.) I'm making it sound worse than it really is. I like the idea behind Jumper, it certainly has potential, and it certainly was entertaining; Christensen is even a descent actor if you can believe it. But there was too little character development, and too much ado about nothing and not enough ado about everything. If that makes sense.

David Rice is just a kid when he discovers that he has the power to transport himself anywhere he's seen before. Egypt, Rome, New York, Paris, anywhere. Dave leaves his less-than-great home life behind to start a new life. He can steal money from banks without breaking a lock after all, so he wants for nothing. Except love. And excitement. Dave finally gets up the nerve to ask his high school sweetheart (played by the mawkish Rachel Bilson) out on a date. To Rome. Unfortunately, Dave's carelessness is about to get him caught. While exploring the Colosseum, he learns that he's not the only one with transporting powers and evil religious fanatics are out to eradicate the transporters. It's a fight for his life that can have no happy ending.

Jumper is pretty entertaining until about the last 15-20 minutes, during which it starts to go a little downhill. At 88 minutes, it barely makes the cut for a feature-length film, and you can tell. This is an epic tale, or it could be; it's supposed to be this big story, big-picture film, but it's not. Even Sam Jackson can't breathe life into this walking corpse as lightsaber toting, Bible-quoting, Mace Windu-meets-Pulp Fiction Dude. But the effects are pretty good, and it's interesting to see Christensen in a mainstream film again. But overall, the director of the Bourne Identity has really taken a step down.

Conclusion: If you're a Sam Jackson fan or a Hayden fan, go see it, but you could skip it and I wouldn't blame you.

Rated: PG-13 for for sequences of intense action violence, some language and brief sexuality. [The brief sexuality is nonexistent, all person keep their clothes on]

  • The crew was allowed to film inside the Colosseum for three days under the condition that no equipment could be placed on the ground. The only lighting allowed was natural sunlight.
  • Two other actors were cast as before Christensen and Bilson but after 2 months of filming and inflating production costs, Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson were recast as the leads.
See the Trailer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Step Up 2: The Streets

The first Step Up was bad enough, only Channing Tatum (tantalizing eye-candy + acting skills) and Jenna Dewan's (talented dancer) relational story kept the film afloat. Unfortunately for Step Up 2, there is no story- or the story is barely hanging on by the thread of the main actress' slowly unraveling clothing. The acting is questionable and the dancing is entertaining, but not mind-blowing. Even though these are professional dancers with a professional choreographer, search YouTube and you'll find more impressive dancing.

The nearly-nonexistent story goes like this: Troublemaker, gang member, Andie, gets into MSA, an expensive private school as a charity case. Her "Street Dancing" is far too risque for Director Collins, who must teach her ballet (which proves to be completely pointless later). Andie finds the hottest guy in school, who has a mean ex-girlfriend, and they come up with a dance for their crew to compete in the Streets, a contest for street dancers. But can their relationship survive when they're from such different worlds? Sound familiar? In the first Step Up, Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) is a troublemaker, gang member who goes to MSA for community service. He finds the hottest girl in school, who has a mean ex-boyfriend, and they come up with a dance for their crew to compete in the school talent show. But can their romance survive when they're both from such different worlds? Hmmm...
Anyway, Andie must face discrimination at the school, payback from her old crew, and Director Collins for the chance to prove that she's good enough for MSA, for the Streets, and for her place in the world. It sounds dramatic, but it's really just disappointing. It's a rehash of the same story with some new dance moves.

The new dance moves are entertaining, and impressive, don't get me wrong, but it's Tatum's cameo in the beginning of the film that provides the hook. The rest of the dancing is great, and the end dance is pretty impressive, but it just can't make up for the rest of the film.

Conclusion: Skip it in theaters, skip it on dvd, check out the dances on YouTube - it's just not worth it.

Rated PG-13 for language, some suggestive material and brief violence.

See the trailer

  • To prepare for the role of Chase Collins, Robert Hoffman actually went into the Baltimore city underground dance scene and participated in competitive break dance circles.


Find out which films to absolutely skip and which you can't miss. THese are my opinions on current films and timeless classics