Movie Reviews: Only God Forgives

37426.jpgAfter seeing Drive, like many people, I was interested in what would come next from Nicolas Winding Refn. I was so excited, I did something I rarely do … I paid to watch the movie on demand. It cost around 20 bucks I think, and it was 20 bucks I would have rather had back. This is the price to pay when you want to see something still “new” in theaters from the director of Drive.

I even watched it twice, just in case I missed something or it was too confused at the arthouse story. I didn’t pay twice, mind you, since it was one of those things where you can watch as much as you wanted in 24 hours.

It was clearly an experiment gone wrong.

Ryan Gosling must have wanted to capitalize on the skills of the new hot director who made the classic, Drive, based on source material (a book, then Hugh Jackman script). Or, he clearly wanted to pay Refn back while loyalty in order to get funding for the film.

If you watch the documentary, My Life Directed, it is clear there were issues getting funding and distribution for this movie. Ryan and Nicolas had to make appearances at Drive events in order to add to the budget of Only God Forgives. What is also apparent is Nicolas Refn’s fear about how the story would be received.

It’s surely weird.

Kristin Scott Thomas is evil.

Ryan Gosling is really an antagonist in a foreign land.

We watch bad people squirm around trying to navigate in seedy ways.

The hero had unorthodox and uses methods most revered for villains.

The story is about characters which I like, and the cinematography is actually pretty good. The story isn’t compelling for my taste. I doubt anyone in Thailand relates to it. I term this is a story out of water. I can’t really classify it. I hated it and appreciated it at the same time. There is one great scene, involving a market ambush. There are a bunch of terrible, and cinematically pretentious scenes, involving everyone.

In My Life Directed, Refn says everyone wanted him to make another Drive.

Well, it’s been around 7 years since Drive. I think it’s time.

As for this movie, I’ll forgive you.

Movie Rating: 2/10 Machete chops

Movie Reviews: The Nice Guys

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The Nice Guys directed by Shane Black

The movie was watched after 4 beers and a belly full of food on a Friday night after a long week of work. I was tired and just wanted to zone out for a bit and watch something new. I had seen the previews and didn’t quite get the hijinks between the two main characters. One is a little too tough and gruff and the other reaches deep in the ambitious underachiever trope.

The first fifteen minutes confirmed by suspicions, however, somehow, someway, the movie elevated itself out of trope-dom and actually was smart, well made, with a unique plot that had me actually wanting to see more.

The buddy cop or buddy detective plot has been done in so many ways that it is very difficult for something to really be considered “new.” Part of my point of view was inhibited by a little alcohol, yes, but it still takes a ton to really surprise me nowadays.

With this film, I was surprised. I had little idea what direction the movie was going once Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling linked up.

Then, there was the Matt Bomar introduction. I laughed my ass off for a good 30 seconds at the scene. You can read my past movie reviews; I don’t think I’ve ever written that in a review for any film so far, even comedies. This is because when the delivery is a surprise, and people don’t expect it coming, the scene is absolutely nailed. Shane Black has a knack for writing dialogue, and the screenplay shows his talents off. The interplay between Crowe and Gosling grows with each scene so much that even Kim Basinger can’t torpedo the movie.

There is action.

There is nudity.

There is partying.

There are gunfights.

There are comedic lines.

There are subdued comical reactions.

There was a kick-ass villain.

The ultimate compliment I can for a movie is for me (the one who hates sequels/reboots/requels/reimaginings/prequels/tv adaptations) to say I want to watch a sequel.

Let’s hope for a “The Nice Guys II” by 2019.

Movie Rating: 8.5/10

 

Movie Reviews: Drive

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Drive directed by Nicholas Winding Refn

I first remember seeing the preview for Drive in the theater.

I thought it was going to be a giant turd and refused to check it out. The marketing powers that be took it upon themselves in their infinite marketing wisdom to make it look like an action packed thrill ride as if it was the Fast and the Furious. They could’t have been more confused at appealing to people to watch it.

About 7 months later I finally watched the movie as it hit DVD. I barely rented it, you know, in one of those (is this movie even worth wasting my time with because I know it’ll be shit) moments. I think I went and got some food and popped in the DVD and pressed play while in the back of my mind thinking I could always just hit stop.

From the first two minutes I realized I was watching artistry at work. The director had a vision and they were going for it. When I say “it” I mean they were disregarding the rules of commercial filmmaking and attempting to make a perfect film. I don’t use that term lightly because to me, there might be only 1-2 movies per year that could be classified as a masterpiece.

After watching Drive, I concluded instantly it was the masterpiece of 2011.

It was probably 10:30pm when I finished and did something I’ve only done once since.

I watched the movie again in a true back-to-back, Shining-repetition. I simply couldn’t believe what I just saw. This wasn’t just a masterpiece. This was a damn perfect movie.

From the get go, the cinematography and music took control of the film. The director was not afraid to slowly let the scenes run a few seconds long even when no dialogue was taking place. The acting is an inspiring thing to watch. I’m not sure if it’s because they are not speaking as much dialogue they are forced to listen to every word rather than remember lines that they act more naturally or not.

The story is pretty straight forward, but there is a noticeable difference when an auteur is behind the camera. Originally, Hugh Jackman was planning to make some bullshit Fast and the Furious type movie which I can only imagine would have been worse than any Nicolas Cage movie the last 4 years. Thank god Ryan Gosling decided to go the artist route and get a director with talent to helm the picture.

I’m not going to get into the plot. See the damn movie if you haven’t. After I watched the movie a second time I went on Facebook and emailed every movie buff I knew and told them to see the movie and that I would pay. (This is totally weird and only happens once a decade). I needed to talk to somebody about this. I was crushed, kind of like the first time I saw Once Upon a Time in the West. This is what filmmaking should be. Tell a story the best way you can in the best format you can.

Sometimes less is more.

As for me, I continued watching Drive for a week straight. I studied every scene and tried to unravel what the secret was. I think I figured out what worked for me: An uncompromising vision. The only time I felt this in awe of an uncompromising vision since then was when I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. Holy shit I was blown away, especially by the first 30 minutes. Uncompromising vision to make the best film possible is something that doesn’t happen to often when the budget is over $10 million where focus groups, studio marketing, toy tie-ins, happy meals, soundtracks, book rehashings, tv spinoffs, and the almightily possibility of a sequel/reboot/remake/requel is considered.

Drive is a movie of uncompromising vision that didn’t give a rats ass about anything except telling the best possible story in 90 minutes.

It is a perfect movie.

QUEST REVIEWER: NATALIE THE NITPICKER 

I’m like so totally confused to what Matt is like totally saying, cuz, like, I really didn’t know what was going on in the movie. I mean, Ryan Gosling is totally cute usually, but he was a bit weird wearing a satin jacket with a yellow scorpion on the back and not talking much. I just didn’t understand why the girl just didn’t totally hook up with him and skip town with all that money, because I totally would have even though he really did totally smash in that skull like it was a watermelon. I’m from the south, so I’ve seen so many watermelons smashed like that, so it didn’t bother me one bit. 

Overall Rating: 10/10 Satin Jackets

 

 

 

 

Movie Reviews: The Big Short

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Imagine a casino. Inside the casino there is a crowd around a single roulette wheel. Instead of thirty-eight numbers on a roulette wheel, imagine there are a million numbers. Then imagine people betting a huge amount of money on a single number. The casino is happy to take all bets because they don’t see how they can lose.

And then someone hits big.

This is what the Big Short is. Housing was considered the safest investment since the 1930’s. The banks packaged loans into mortgage backed securities and CDO’s and synthetic CDOs. A few bright minds bought credit default swaps against it, and won.

Big time.

Huge wins. Like buy a private island big.

The movie goes a long way to explain all of this to us. Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez are used to simplify it for the viewer. We watch Steve Carrell and Christian Bale and a few others figure out the fraud of Wall Street and what they go through to be on the right side of the bet.

The movie has a ton of star power and the acting is convincing. I particularly enjoyed Brad Pitt’s role as a disgruntled ex-banker who has a thing for post-apocalyptic preparation.  For a better movie on the financial crisis, I recommend Margin Call.

GUEST HOST: RICK RHINESTONE FROM RED RHINESTONE CAPITAL

This movie gives Wall Street a bad wrap. The financial engineers are not to be blamed for any of this. The problem were those infomercials telling people to buy houses with no money down and flip-that-house television shows that filled ordinary americans with dreams of richness. Here is a hint people: If you want to get rich, follow me at RED RHINESTONE CAPITAL where you can get in on the ground floor of Red Rhinestones we received from a Prince from Nigeria (who was down on his luck when we came into contact with him and needed our help!). These red beauties are certified by the Prince himself and for a low price of $299.99 you too can get your hands on the best quality red rhinestones in the world! Imagine this. You are cruising the streets with the top down and the wind in your face and you or your lover is rocking the biggest red rhinestone in town. Imagine going to your High School reunion and telling stories of how you got the inside deal on the lucrative red rhinestone market. Call me. Matt has my number. (FACT CHECK: I have Rick’s card, which he shoved under my door much like the Chinese Restaurant Menu from Mr.Wang’s down he street)

Movie Rating: 7/10