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: Ocean’s Eleven

Oceans Eleven directed by “SS” 

I used to like films by “SS” that is, before he resorted to Magic Mike. Before that, he was the innovative filmmaker with “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Out of Sight.” Oceans Eleven is when he hit the big time with an ensemble cast that can’t really fail even if they hired somebody off the street to direct it (Even that douchebag behind the last Fantastic 4 could have made this … Well, maybe)

Simply put, this is a hesit-by-the-numbers film. 

But it works, because it is done with charisma. Charm. I don’t know. Everything is so positive. Danny Ocean just got out jail, but he is a swell guy because he can recruit the hippest crew to rob the biggest make-believe casino vault (ludicrous in that the properties are not even under the same company nor near eachother, as many of you who have walked the strip before would know). 

But who cares, we root for them because they are cool and hip and money is cool. If they were thugs or gangsters this would not be as entertaining. But because Danny Ocean is doing it for a girl, (robbing a casino is the fastest way to a girl’s heart, right?) we root for him. 

I liked this movie when it came out and I still do. 

Although I contend the plot of the movie is simple and is purely built on the charisma of its actors. I recently got rejected pretty bad from the blacklist for my script with a heist as part of the plot, and some poor excuse of a reviewer told me in my review (which you can read on my blog) is that Tony Benedict is an even more evil person than Danny and that’s why we like Danny. 

Bullshit. 

That reviewer is an amateur hack because the movie didn’t even make an attempt to make Tony (Andy Garcia) look bad. He just manages a casino. He got conned for one comment about Julia Roberts at the exact right time and he was bad? 

If there is a con story or heist story we always root for them if they are the main characters and especially if they are funny. Only if the main character is the person stopping it, (first character introduced), do we root for them. Trust me, the trope works from Die Hard to Paul Blart.

I know how to break down stories and the mechanics behind film. Whoever is introduced in the first 10 minutes is who the audience is supposed to root for, unless it is a horror film of some sort, because in that trope they have to show some scary stuff early on so that we know the MC will be in danger. 

With that said, the movie is entertaining and fun. I like everyone from Bernie Mac to Don Cheedle to Casey Affleck in the supporting roles. I like how Brad Pitt aka Rusty is eating in almost every scene before the heist. I like the switcheroo at the end. 

I know, this is another weird movie review but it’s coming from me, right? Maybe I should rename my reviews as commentary.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 S.W.A.T trucks.