Movie Reviews: Roman J. Israel, Esq

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What is an esquire?

Either google the term if you have zero patience, or watch how Denzel Washington delivers an answer as Roman J. Israel, Esq, a man with a crisis of conscience.

This is a common theme in many adult films. I personally like George Clooney in Michael Clayton as he explores a similar theme, also in the legal world. Maybe this is why we don’t predominantly like attorneys. They are expensive, shallow, and the nature of their work treat their clients as dollar signs. This theme runs deep through the film as Denzel’s character has to weigh a life of servitude for the greater good, or giving in to the monetary demons on his shoulders.

Choices are made, and you can probably guess the arc. If you watched Nightcrawler, an excellent film also by Dan Gilroy (who also saved Rogue One in reshoots), you’ll know there is a new master in Hollywood. Gilroy understands pacing, character arcs, and how to deliver an ending against a narrative.

People, understandably, hope for some Hollywood type ending. In legal dramas, this often culminates in some victorious legal decision. But the story is often more about the case or criminal. A film directed by Dan Gilroy is always about someone’s journey, the decision they have to make, and the consequences of their actions. Watch Nightcrawler, the end of Rogue One, and Roman J. Esquire and compare.

I read a few other reviews, mostly centering on Denzel getting nominated for an Oscar again, but they hoped for more. Others called the film weird.

I thought it was tremendous masterwork done by a storyteller. I look forward to the next decade of Dan Gilroy films. They have you thinking afterward, “what was that about?” In current cinema, there are only a few other directors I hold in this regard: Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, and Nicholas Winding Refn. I don’t exactly have to love all of their films, but I love the artistry they display in a commercialized business.

I think this is Denzel’s best work in many years. He’s plays basically the same character in most of his films, likely due to director/producer decisions, so that people know exactly what they are paying for. He is kind of crusty, kind of tough, and usually to the point. Roman J. Israel is crusty, however isn’t tough, is kind of chicken, stammers on tangents and lacks social manners.

And what else. Colin Farrell. That Colin Farrell. The one who was In Bruges, not the one in SWAT. The one pushing himself in The Lobster, not the one evading capture in Total Recall. The one who dabbles in indie films with exploratory storytelling. Not the one looking for the big payday. The character actor. A good character actor.

Dan Gilroy, please please please keep the films coming. I know $11 million isn’t exactly the box office producers want, but film as an art form needs more stories like this, and adults need to support it in the future, otherwise over-saturation of sequels/prequels/animation/reboots/comic stories will somehow get worse. Film itself is going through a similar crisis of conscience. There is a tradeoff in this industry, like many others (like Facebook filtering the fake paid posts, but not all, or Google disabling fake news accounts, but still allowing Tai Lopez to pump Bitcoin courses to dumb millennials), which I now ponder the morning after. Movie reviewers are not exactly a philosophical bunch, so I understand how most were quick to type up their reviews and few actually thought about the art. I can only imagine them attending a new art exhibit.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 Armenian Rewards

 

 

Movie Reviews (& Jake Gyllenhaal Rant): Nightcrawler

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Nightcrawler directed by Dan Gilroy

I usually don’t enjoy watching Jake Gyllenhaal movies. I’m a huge fan of Donnie Darko and Zodiac, and thought Source Code was pretty good. You see, Jake does well when he doesn’t try to recapture what might have been in his failed attempts at nabbing the Spider Man or Batman roles. When in the hands of a good director, he does well. When he tries box office roles as a leading man, he fails miserably (Prince of Persia, The Day after Tomorrow). He has talent, but isn’t really a likeable character in almost anything he is in. Nobody says, “Hey, are you going to see the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie this weekend?”

He is a modern day Dennis Quaid.

Does Dennis Quaid star in a bunch of films? Yep. Do they all suck? Nope. Are any of them good? A few. Does anyone consider him a star? Nope. Do people think he can act? Sometimes. You can pretty much make a checklist and start marking off boxes and you’ll see a match fairly quickly.

In other words, who do you go to when the top 7 actors you wanted turned the script down, then the next 5 actors demand too much money, then the next 3 actors choose another project or a broadway show instead?

You go with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Going into Nightcrawler, I was expecting the worst. The preview said it was one of the best pictures of the year, which I roll my eyes at everytime I hear that. Every film is the “best” at something, from the “Number One picture in America” all the way down to “The top comedy in America” (When there are two cartoon sequels, a comic book movie, and a remake that same weekend, and the film technically finished in 8th place).

What I watched was astounding. This was “good Jake” acting like an obsessed lunatic, in an anti-hero coming of age story in relation to the media business. It could be social commentary on news, or people behind the news, or an allegory for competition in America and winning at all costs. It was slow at parts, but in a good way. The director let the story breathe. The story built up to an epic third act that had me totally engrossed in the film, up until the very end. I enjoy character stories such as this, and Drive, and wish Hollywood made more of it, rather than trying to please all four quadrants of the audience chart. If they made The Godfather to please the kids, grandma, women, and all ethnic demographics instead of just making the best Italien mobster movie of all time, could you imagine the disastrous result?

This could very well have been the best movie I saw in 2015 on DVD.

Movie Rating: 10/10 Doughnut Shop Confrontations

Guest Reviewer: “Bad Jake”

You best step off your commentary on my films. What you witnessed isn’t a one and done phenomena. If you watched the entire library of Jake-G films, you’ll witness the range of his¬†acting. Hello … did you see Jake go “Full Jake” in Brokeback Mountain? He rolled around in Bubble Boy before Games-2-U made it a modern day past time. Are you seriously going to knock his “Hot and Cold” box office tentpoles? Jake was merely exploring the duality of a futuristic Ice Age and a past age in the desert. You see, Jake saw the writing on the wall and skated to where the puck was going way before Game of Thrones jumped on this Song of Ice and Fire bandwagon. Why am I talking about myself in the third person? Well, as it turns out, I’m going undercover studying what it would be like to be a little bit nuts. It seems I’m being typecast a little bit of late, and need to do more to gain an edge on the competition. I need to go smash a house now.

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