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Cidade dos Homens (2007)
Better appreciated after a second viewing
I remember when I first saw this movie in 2008, I walked into it heavily comparing it with "City of God" and expecting to see the same fast-pace storytelling, same witty dialogue and same amount of violence C.O.G. had. About 30 minutes into this movie I started to realize that this movie was a completely different animal, although with many of the same actors and same director serving as one of the executive producers. Needless to say, I walked out of this movie heavily disappointed. Fast forward to six years later, the movie is now out of Netflix and by now I have had more than my fair share of Brazilian reality-based films such as "Elite Squad" and "Elite Squad 2" among other Brazilian films which take place in the infamous Rio favelas. After watching it a second time and taking it for what it is, I now appreciate the art of this movie much more.
The movie touches not only on poverty but also on young unplanned parenthood, the responsibilities and obligations that come with it, on different types of loyalty and betrayal, forgiveness of oneself and others and it shows you the true meaning of friendship. Rather than focusing on the violent setting itself and on carnage and violence like C.O.G. did, those things take a backseat and the movie shows you the real people who inhabit the favelas. It's a story of friendship, survival, and the choices people make when they don't have a choice.
I am not familiar with the TV series, as I never got a chance to watch a single episode, but I can tell that this movie faithfully and successfully translated the story to the silver screen while keeping the essence of the original characters. If you like true slice of life dramas, City of Men surely delivers the goods.
Overall I give City of Men 8 out of 10.
Django Unchained (2012)
Tarantino Only Keeps Getting Better
If you're a die-hard Tarantino fan. This is a must-see for you. If you're not, and even if you've never heard of Quentin Tarantino, you should still see this movie. While it's not a film that's 100 percent accurate in its historical accounts and it might contain a few anachronisms here and there for the super nerds out there trying to spot them out, the movie is still enjoyable from beginning to end.
Jamie Foxx, as the lead character, delivers a strong, solid performance as Django, a recently freed slave, with lots of heart and a quick learner, who is out for revenge after a gang of hillbilly criminals snatched his beloved wife, tortured her and sold her to a different slave owner. Christoph Waltz, gives an unforgettable performance as King Schultz, a German bounty hunter and former dentist who partners up with Django and later assists him on his quest for vengeance. Waltz steals the show in every scene he is in, with his witty, sharp dialogue and incomparable comic timing and delivery. Leonardo DiCaprio, as the main villain Calvin Candie, gives another mesmerizing performance to add to his long resume as a cruel and racist plantation magnate. Kerry Washington also delivers as the beautiful, bilingual wife of Django, Broomhilda Von Shaft, a constant victim of humiliation and cruelty by her owner, Calvin Candie. Samuel L. Jackson gives another memorable performance to add to his very own Tarantino resume as Stephen, an outspoken and powerful house slave who is very sharp and observant and who instantly despises Django upon meeting him.
There are also other names and familiar faces you will see on this film that also give good supporting performances such as Don Johnson, James Remar (playing two characters) Tom Wopat, M.C. Gainey, Jonah Hill, Michael Parks, among others. Even Tarantino himself makes a small cameo. The movie is filled with the classic Tarantino brand of superb dialogue, bloody scenes, hilarious random conversations, etc. It's everything you go to the movies for. If you want an accurate historical account of the slavery era, you will not get it from "Django" what you will get is what you pay for, A Tarantino masterpiece full of what he does best, make great, intelligent and wildly entertaining films! Highly recommend it!
Boricua's Bond (2000)
How do I start? I decided to give this movie a chance expecting to see a movie depicting the positive and negative aspects of the South Bronx, but all I saw was the negatives all the way. Almost every single character in this film is a lowlife, with the exception of Tommy, Allen and Rose. Tommy was supposed to be everyone's role model in the film, yet, most of the time he stood around and did nothing when his posse of low lives he so called "friends" did stupid and highly embarrassing things to other people. The heavy set guy taking off his clothes through half of the movie was supposed to be the comic relief, but I just found him obnoxious and not at all funny. Another major flaw of this film is its lack of story line. There is none, whatsoever. All we see for an hour and 35 minutes is the director showing almost every Puerto Rican and black in the film act like savages with absolutely no class or manners.
If this film was trying to be anything like past classics such as Boyz 'n the Hood, Do The Right Thing or Menace 2 Society, it failed miserably. At least those other films showed many other positive aspects of African-Americans and those films actually had a storyline and plot.
In the end, when this movie was over, I felt sick to my stomach of watching every single negative stereotype of Puerto Ricans in a single film. I don't even think the title is fitting. What is this bond that Boricuas share according to Val Lik anyway? A lifetime of violent behavior, promiscuous sex, irresponsibility, drugs? is that the bond? Where is the positive message? Please, do yourself a favor, especially if you're Puerto Rican. Stay away from this film, you will thank me later.
Entertaining but not great
I must say this film was entertaining at best. The best performances coming from Matt Dillon and Tip "T.I." Harris. The actions sequences, while very intense, were ruined at times by the shaky camera movements, especially during the chase sequences. The storyline, while it had original elements, was flawed and certain scenes you could see coming from a mile away. The only thing I admire from this film is that it tries to give all of its stars equal screen time and importance, just like the far superior film it tries to emulate "Heat". Takers, attempts to be an heist film with a heart to which the younger generation can connect, but fails to deliver the goods. I commend T.I. for his performance and executive producing this project, but I think it still needed work as far as the storyline and the filming are concerned. My suggestion is to skip it and wait for it on DVD.
The funniest movie ever!
Borat, has to be one of those films where I literally couldn't stop laughing and where I laughed so hard, tears constantly streamed down my face. If a movie can make me laugh that hard, then damn it must be a funny movie. Borat stars Sacha Baron Cohen in his first mainstream feature film, where he pretends to be a journalist from Kazakhstan. Borat is sent by the govt. of the glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, along with his assistant and friend Azamat (Ken Davidian) to do an investigative report on the American culture, but is later distracted from his mission when he discovers on TV the most beautiful woman he's ever laid eyes on..Pamela Anderson on Baywatch..this motivates Borat to instead, go on a cross country trip in order to meet, and according to him, marry Pamela Anderson, whom he believes is a virgin. The movie is like a reality show (think Jackass) except with a lot more creativity and comic genius from Baron Cohen. The way he preys on those unsuspecting Americans is just to die for. Some people might say the movie is anti-Semitic, misogynistic, racist, sexist, blah, blah, blah. But what the movie truly shows is just a mirror for American people to look at themselves at. The stuff in this movie is shocking, and not just the stuff coming from Baron Cohen and company, but also from some of his victims as well. I say if you're a person who gets easily offended, especially if you're Jewish or from the glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, don't go see this movie, but if you have an open mind and want to laugh your ass off with a movie like you haven't with any other movie in your life, then you're ready for "Borat". An instant classic! 10 out of 10.
Maria Full of Grace (2004)
This is a movie that will capture you from beginning to end. It's a movie about a 17-year old girl in a small town in Colombia named María (Catalina Sandino Moreno) who works in a factory cutting roses, but is unsatisfied with her job, and is the sole provider for a family that includes her mother, her older sister, and her sister's baby. María, deep down has a wild, adventurous side, which is shown when she is climbing to a house's roof without a ladder, and her boyfriend, does not want to do the same. María eventually finds out she is pregnant from her boyfriend, which freaks him out and they end up breaking it off. María, later on, after putting up with an abusive boss at work, decides to quit her job, which angers her mother and sister, who ask her to apologize to her boss and take the job back, but María defiantly declines to do so and takes off with a guy she met at a local party, to the big city, to find a job there. This new guy, Franklin, is who introduces María to the world of drug trafficking. María, out of desperation, accepts to do this job. Later on, without her knowledge, her best friend, Blanca, also joins her in the journey which will take these two 17-year-olds, along with a new acquaintance, Lucy, to New York City. Once in NY, they meet up with some ruthless drug dealers, and then something happens which makes María and Blanca run away from where the dealers are keeping them until they complete the transaction. The movie is filled with very tense moments and you will find yourself biting your nails and at the edge of your seat all throughout the movie. This movie is beautifully shot and the story well told. It definitely deserved all the awards it won and Catalina Sandino Moreno gives a powerhouse performance. "María Full Of Grace" is based on a 1001 true stories of women who have found themselves in a position in which they have had to risk it all to escape poverty. 10 out of 10. don't miss it!
A journey not to be missed
"Viajeros" is a realistic picture of what Dominican immigrants go through when they decide to leave their country for a better life, even if it means risking their own lives in order to provide a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
The immigrants here are presented as regular everyday people, each with their own story and motive for making that choice of hopping into a "yola" or raft and risking their lives for a dream. The movie also shows how ruthless and cold-hearted the people involved in this business can be. The acting is not above average but good enough to portray the message it's trying to send. The movie has some graphic scenes that you may not want your young ones to see, and some heart wrenching moments. Very good effort from Dominican movie makers to portray the reality of thousands of Dominicans who have gone through this experience, many not making it out alive. My hat goes off to them.
A timeless tale of an underdog who reached the top
"Scarface" is the story of a Cuban immigrant who arrives in the US through a boat sent by Fidel Castro himself to purposely send all of his criminals to American soil and crap on Uncle Sam. His name is Tony Montana (Al Pacino) Upon Tony's arrival in America, he is already spotted as a potential threat and is interrogated by customs agents who find out a little bit of his history and decide to send him to a special camp where all Cuban undesirables are sent. Some time later, opportunity knocks in the form of murdering a Cuban general, sent to prison by Fidel himself, who tortured and killed govt. officials back in Cuba and now one of those official's brother, who is a powerful man in Miami, wants him dead. Tony, his best friend Manolo (Steven Bauer), and a few other friends carry out this task and earn themselves a Green Card. But this is only the beginning....This powerful man, turns out to be Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) a wealthy Miami drug lord whom Tony ends up working for. Frank Lopez's right hand man is Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham) a guy who does not like Tony Montana's determination and attitude and calls him derogatory names like "peasant" and "dish washer" but Tony is not exactly crazy about him either. We also meet Tony's sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Manstrantonio) a beautiful 19-year old for whom Manolo falls for, but Tony does not want Manolo anywhere near his sister, because is the only pure untouched thing in his life and does not want her to be corrupted by his world, but eventually this does happen. Later on, Tony falls head over heels for Frank's sexy, young wife Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer) who despite her beauty and wealth, is always miserable and does nothing but snort coke all day and never cracks a single smile. Tony starts making the moves on Elvira, until later on in the movie, snatches her away from Frank, but not before removing Frank from the map, but that comes later. During one of Tony's business trips we meet yet another character, The ruthless and even more powerful drug kingpin, Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar) a Bolivian landowner who has a drug empire that stretches all across South America. Tony does his best, at first to impress this new acquaintance, and when Sosa questions him about his loyalty, Tony is quick to assure Sosa that he is also someone not to be messed with and is a man of his word. When Tony reaches the top and is now more powerful than his boss, Frank, ever was. Manolo, Tony's right hand man begins to take care of Tony's finances, but, in Tony's words, Manolo cares more about women than business and therefore, does not trust him completely when it comes to money.
During the almost three hours of the movie we get to see Tony's rise and then, after a hot-tempered decision, his imminent fall. Scarface is a story of not only an underdog who works his way up until he reaches the "American dream", but of the consequences of living in the fast lane. Like one of the songs from the movie soundtrack talks about "Push it to the Limit" which, thanks to this movie, is now a classic.
Yes, this movie nowadays is idolized by pop culture and by rappers and gangsters all over the world. But the question is why a movie who did not do too well at the box office at the time of its release is more popular now than it was two decades ago?. Because the story and the message behind it is timeless. Perhaps because back in the early 80's people were not ready for an in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is movie about something that is very real nowadays, drug trafficking, and for the standards of the time, the movie was very graphic. That perhaps, drove some moviegoers away and is maybe the reason why it was so panned by critics back then. But now, times are different and perhaps this movie speaks to the generation of today, who are more aware that these things are happening out there, or perhaps, because it sends out the same message their favorite hip-hop artists often talk about, which is making it to the top and earning respect through having balls and determination like Tony had. Yes, some people see it as a movie that glorifies crime and drugs and easy money. But the movie really has a deeper message. No one stays on top of the world forever. The world was his, yes, but not for long. In a few words..one of the best crime-drama movies of all time.
Babel, in my opinion, most definitely deserves an Oscar nod, at least for directing. This movie will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. The movie, in true Iñarritu fashion, does not have it's sequences in order but rather scrambled up like in Iñarritu's previous work, Amores Perros and 21 Grams. The movie takes place in three, or I should say four different parts of the world and three different continents. It starts off in a remote desert in Morocco, where we meet some preteen characters who are brothers, who bicker with one another like normal brothers. The younger one is always showing off to his older brother and between the horseplay and the show off he ends up doing something which will set off events in those three aforementioned continents. Also in Morocco, we meet an American couple, (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) whose relationship seems to be on the rocks and for unknown reasons are in that country, but the wife is anything but happy to be there and wishes to leave as soon as possible. In another part of the world, San Diego, California, we meet a Mexican nanny, (Adriana Barraza) who takes care of two American children like they were her own, later on, she is faced with the decision of attending her son's wedding across the border and leaving the children with someone else for the day, or staying and taking care of the kids whom she was trusted by their parents who are overseas at the time. She ultimately decides combine both and takes the 2 children across the border with her with the help of her nephew (Gael García Bernal). In yet another part of the world, Japan, we meet a deaf-mute girl (Rinko Kikuchi) who does not have a very good relationship with her father (Koyi Yakusho), and whose mother has passed away recently. She craves for attention but always feels like she is treated like freak when she is among normal people. As the movie develops, you will start to see the connection between these three totally different stories and the dots will start to connect. Irresponsibility and lack of communication are the main topics in this movie. There is a cameo by Crash's and WTC's Michael Peña as well as Clifton Collins Jr. The acting on this movie is superb, especially by Adriana Barraza and by Rinko Kikuchi, those two deserve an Oscar Nomination and deserve to win it too! There are very touching moments in this movie that will probably jerk a tear out of more than one moviegoer. Not for all tastes but if you're in the mood for a movie with good storytelling this is the one for you. 9 out of 10.
El Chavo del Ocho (1972)
One of the greatest shows of all time
This show is not the most recognized show in all of Latin America for nothing. Its simple slapstick family-oriented humor and colorful characters made it an instant classic from day one since it first aired back in the early seventies and is until now and for many years to come, one of the most aired shows in history. It's easy to see why, just watch one episode and you'll be hooked. El Chavo has slapstick humor but it's also a show with a lot of heart that children and grownups have loved for 33 years since the show first aired. First of there's the title character, Chavo which is Mexican slang for "kid", an orphaned eight-year old boy who "hides" inside his trademark barrel. He is not the brightest bulb but is very simple-minded and is always on an empty stomach. Then there's his best friend, whom he sometimes beats up for being a smart-ass, Quico, a spoiled nine year old boy who sometimes teases Chavo with toys. For ex: Chavo is playing with an improvised toy that he himself made and as soon as Quico sees him, he runs back to his house and comes out with a better more souped-up version of the toy Chavo's playing with, or he could tease him with food, being that Chavo is always starving and is the first thing on his mind, despite of it all Quico is his best friend. Quico is the second most hilarious character on the show, (Don Ramón being the most hilarious) his unique expressions and mannerisms and his large bulging cheeks that look like grapefruits in his mouth are out of this world. There's also Chilindrina, a somewhat tomboyish, nine-year old girl, who wears spectacles without glasses, who is a little smarter than Chavo and Quico, and sometimes messes with their heads a little bit, but has a secret crush on Chavo. Her father Don Ramón, is a man in his late 40's who is unemployed and never pays his bills. He's grumpy and short-fused, especially with Chavo and Quico, who get on his nerves the most. Don Ramón is my favorite character. Ramón Valdez, the actor who portrays him, was a natural on this role and had a very natural sense of humor and charisma which made him perfect for the role of "Don Ramón". Doña Florinda, Quico's mother, is an upper-class wannabe who thinks she's better than all of her neighbors in the "vecindad" but lives off her dead husband's life insurance with her young boy, Quico, but is in a somewhat better economical position nonetheless than the rest of her neighbors. She has a special dislike for Don Ramón, considering him vulgar and common, and whenever Quico screams, she runs out and slaps Don Ramón across the face assuming he's the one that made him cry, which sometimes he is, but because Quico got on his last nerve. Then there's the schoolteacher, Prof. Jirafales, a school teacher who must be about 6'8 tall and thus, is the target of many jokes from the students. His last name is a play on his massive height meaning something like Giraffish. Señor Barriga, or Mr. Stomach if you literally want to translate his last name, is an obese man who is the owner of the "vecindad" and who is always knocking on Don Ramón's door asking for the rent he never pays, and coincidentally, always gets hit with an object that Chavo happens to be throwing or swinging around at the time he arrives. Finally, Doña Clotilde or La Bruja (The Witch) del 71. A fifty-something year old woman who is unmarried and is head over heels for Don Ramón. All of these characters, who were probably born to play their roles, make this show one of the best things to ever come out of Spanish TV. Don't miss it! 10 out of 10.
El Chapulín Colorado (1973)
Classic TV for all ages
El Chapulín Colorado was and always be one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I remember growing up in Ecuador I used to love this show to death, they used to show it like around noon, when it was recess time from school, I would go home and watch this show while I was having lunch. The character always fascinated me and was like taking a break from amazing superheroes like Batman, Superman and Spiderman. But Chapulín was amazing as well. While he was, like his creator, Roberto Gomez Bolaños describes him, dumb, stupid, ugly, short, clumsy, cowardly, he still had a lot of heart like the shield on his uniform shows, and even though he was scared to death of a possible peril, he would never back down from it and face it. That was true courage. And of course wherever there was a pretty girl, he would never waste any chance to flirt with her. The special effects from this show is what fascinated me as a kid, although cheap to today's standards, it was pretty groundbreaking for it's time on Mexican television. (early to late 70's). This show, along with "El Chavo del Ocho" will always have a place in my heart and in the heart of millions of Latinos around the world. It's the two biggest shows in the history of Spanish television. Highly recommendable if you like classic slapstick humor and if you're a gringo, if you're curious to know who the "Bumblebee Man" is really based on. 10 out of 10.
Raising Victor Vargas (2002)
Very good independent film
The thing that drove me to watch this movie was that it was a story of a young Latin boy from a ghetto in NYC. That was something I could identify with, so I decided to check it out. I was not disappointed. This movie pulled me in so much when I started to watch it that I could not move from my seat until it was done. I don't know if it was the dialogue, or the pace of the movie, which didn't even feel like a movie, with almost no music, it felt more I was watching my neighbors or something, or just peering into someone else's life but without them noticing me, I guess that's the feeling the director intended for the audience to have, I don't know.
The movie is about a young Dominican-York named Victor Vargas, who lives with his grandma and his little brother, who is not as street smart as he is, but is more of a mama's boy, or grandma's boy and his annoying and bitchy little sister and a grandma who like a typical latino grandma, loves his grandkids to death and does not want them to get into any trouble, and is always quick to blame Victor when something bad happens. Victor is a regular teen who likes to hang out with his best friends and impress girls at the local swimming pool, until one day he meets a beautiful girl from the barrio, Judy, who quickly captures his attention. Victor tries to do almost anything to win this girl over, to the point where he even becomes friends with her little brother to get her number. Judy, on the other hand, at first ignores Victor but later decides to give him a chance, at first, to avoid getting harassed by the boys down the block, but later discover that Victor is indeed, a sweet guy and not the jerk he pretends to be in front of his boys. The movie has some sweet moments, involving the teens, and the grandma steals the show, she is hilarious. Prepare for a lot of cussing among the kids, the movie is R rated for a reason. Good movie if you want to watch something different and take a trip down the Latin ghetto.
End of the Spear (2005)
A movie every Ecuadorian should see
I have to say that I decided to buy the DVD for this movie because I was very curious about it being that it talked about the Waorani tribe (althought in the movie they call it Waodani, I don't know why) of Ecuador, my country, and I'm all for anything that is filmed around, or is about anything or anyone from my country. The portrayal of the Waorani Indians of Ecuador was very accurate and very touching at times. The movie also captures the struggle of the American missionaries and their families that were in Ecuador at that time and were the only ones who were willing to reach out to this tribe, who at the time, was feared by the rest of the country due to their hostility and violence towards all outsiders. The movie has some very touching moments involving both the missionaries and the tribe members. Louie Leonardo who plays Mincayane, one of the leaders of the Waorani tribe gives the best performance of all. The landscape from Ecuador is breathtaking too, it makes any Ecuadorian proud. Good movie if you like to watch something different and take a break from Hollywood blockbusters and watch a real story.
Nacho Libre (2006)
Silly but tons of fun to watch
I saw this movie last night and I must say that this movie is one of the most entertaining movies I have seen so far this year, or that I remember seeing for a long time. Jack Black is hysterical as Ignacio ("Nacho") the cook and errand boy from a remote monastery deep in Oaxaca, Mexico, who is a good-hearted guy who only cares about the orphans at the monastery and is treated like crap by the priests there because of his poor cooking and his constant obsession with becoming a luchador, but this dream comes true when he least expects it and at the time when a gorgeous hottie nun, sister Encarnacion (Ana De La Reguera) comes into his life. Nacho teams up with a skinny thug from the street, Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez) who mugs people for chips, and later become tag-team partners. The whole movie, including the training sequences, the dialogue between the two, and the fight sequences are hilarious. Esqueleto pretty much steals the show at times from Nacho. The rest of the moments with the children and sister Encarnacion are funny as well. Especially the nickname of one of the children which translates as "piggy" in English. Overall the movie is very enjoyable and your children will fall in love with Jack Black. The movie has all the fart jokes and toilet humor that children have come to love over the years, but it's still watchable and fun to enjoy with the whole family. And most importantly the movie although silly, like its main character, has a heart of gold.
Everybody Loves Raymond (1996)
Great TV show
"Everybody Loves Raymond" has to be in my opinion, next to Seinfeld, one of the best sitcoms that came out in the nineties, and possibly one of the best in the history of TV. The writing is great, every episode is fresh and original and always with new material and the jokes are never repetitive or old. The actors, from Ray himself to his supporting cast, are perfect. Ray Romano always brings the laughs as his alter-ego, Ray Barone, who lives with his wife and three children right across the street from his kooky parents in a small town in Long Island. Ray's wife, Debra, played by the gorgeous Patricia Heaton is lovable as his beautiful wife Debra, who deals with all the problems of any American housewife, including her annoying in-laws, Frank and Marie played by perfection by Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle. Doris Roberts is hysterical as Marie, the meddlesome mother and in-law, who always tries to put her two cents in every problem the Barones might be having, and likes to criticize Debra from her cooking down to her taking care of the children including her own, Raymond. and Peter Boyle is equally as hilarious as Frank, the old-fashioned macho dad who is not afraid to be himself and speak his mind, no matter who's in the room. Brad Garrett also brings constant laughs as Raymond's brother Robert, who is constantly jealous of his younger brother since childhood and does not waste any opportunity to ridicule him when he messes up on something, which is on almost every episode. The addition of Roberts' girlfriend and later wife Amy (Monica Horan) and her conservative puritan parents and weird brother Peter (Chris Elliott) later on in the show made the show even funnier and more colorful. The show's children and real-life siblings Ally and the twins Jeffrey and Michael (Madylin, Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten) also make a good supporting cast and are the sweet touch of the show, although the show mostly focuses on the grown-ups.This show does not only bring the laughs but also tries to teach us a lesson on every episode. Great show to watch with the family. 10 out of 10.
Final Destination 3 (2006)
Trashy, gory fun
I decided to check out this movie today, Thursday afternoon, just to kill some boredom and because I'm a fan of the first two, and let me tell you, for the kind of movie I knew I was walking into, I was not disappointed and this movie really delivers. FD3 was a major improvement over the mediocre second one, that in my opinion didn't live up to the original, except for the macabre opening death sequence that in my opinion was better than the original. The opening death sequence on this one is pretty scary too considering the fear of about 55 or 60% of human beings of heights and rollercoasters. The death sequences that follow afterwards do not disappoint, they keep you on the edge of your seat and when they finally come they leave you screaming for more. The acting is of course third-rate but who cares, no one expects top-notch actors in these kind of flicks or really care about what happens to them, which is what makes watching movies like this all the more fun. Really recommend it if you're in the mood for a popcorn flick.
Fantastic Four (2005)
Let me say first of all. Whenever I go to the movie theather to see a movie of this sort based on a comic book I don't really expect to see an Oscar-Winning film, but at least a decent adaptation of the comic book. The movie, although I have little knowledge of the comic book, was weak, not because it wasn't exactly like the comic book because it is expected that a movie will always have little differences here and there for running time's sake, but this film really didn't do justice to the comic book or even to the cartoon series. However, it had its moments, with Chris "The Human Torch" Evans, and Michael "The Thing" Chiklis providing some laughs, but the other actors, especially the Welsh actor playing Reed Richards, are very dry and wooden. The story is not told well and the only enjoyment you can get out of this movie is the special effects and if you're a man seeing hottie Jessica Alba A.K.A.Invisible Woman on a spandex uniform. If you're looking for a Spider-man or Batman Begins type of movie with brilliant storytelling and character insight, do yourself a favor and stay away from this one at all costs!
Should've done way better at the box office
I can't believe this masterpiece only made 9 million this week at the box office. I guess most people prefer to see crap like House of Wax over this. Anyway on to the movie. I thought this movie was one of the deepest, and most compelling dramas in a long time. The movie explores the struggles of different people of different racial groups and backgrounds in a single day in Los Angeles. The movie highlights especially all the prejudices that these several groups have against one another and the way some members of a particular race are viewed by members of another race. This movie, although somewhat offensive to some viewers, rings very true to a lot of us and dares to explore the prejudices that are present in almost every average American today, but the movie also shows us that although most everyday people might be prejudiced or a bit racist to some extent, in the end we're all humans and in the end the human compassion and heart overcomes racial prejudice. Chris "Ludacris" Bridges does a very impressive job in this movie and shows he takes acting seriously and that he is very dedicated. The rest of the cast is excellent, Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton, Terrence Howard, Larenz Tate, Ryan Phillipe, Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser to name the familiar faces do a superb job in this film. The virtually unknown actors like Michael Peña (Latino locksmith) Shaun Toub (Persian store owner) and Bahar Soomekh (Persian Store owner's daughter) do an excellent job as well. This movie is definitely worth your ten bucks and two hours of your life. Ten out of ten.
Don't get on this taxi
What can I say...This movie was by far the worst two hours I have ever spent on a movie in my life (Besides the two hours I spent on Soul Plane). I don't think I remember laughing at any of the lame ass jokes of this lame excuse for a movie. Why Queen Latifah agreed to work on this garbage is beyond me. Jimmy Fallon..i'm not surprised because after Chris Rock there hasn't been anything decent coming out of SNL. A sorry excuse for a story is also present in this mess...Beautiful statuesque model-looking females working for some loser ass bank robber..WTF???..I have to admit for a minute there in the end the action got a little decent, but that was like the best thing out of the whooole movie! I would rate this movie down there with Soul Plane as the worst movies of 2004 or perhaps history! Stay away from this one, please!
Soul Plane (2004)
I am usually open minded to comedies no matter how dumb or mindless they might seem and I usually don't go down this hard on stupid movies that are similar to this one but this one really goes over the top in crapiness. This movie seems to me more like a 90-minute BET music video but with lame ass jokes. The only thing decent is the music (that's if you're a fan of hip-hop and R&B which is played constantly throughout the movie) Almost every joke in this movie is stereotypical and the characters themselves are typical stereotypes. First we got the thuggish, rowdy-ass, ignorant black men, then we got the "video ho" looking black women, then we got the horny homosexual, then we got the hot-tamale, spicy Latina with a thick accent, then at one point, they even make fun of the Arabs, and then as is usual in almost every black comedy, we got the white people in the middle of everyone and the usual "whitey" jokes. The jokes in this movie aren't even funny, and most of these funny comedians like Tom Arnold, Sommore, MoNique, D.L. Hughley and John Witherspoon just waste their talent on this crap. Stay away from this one at all costs! 1 out of 10.
American History X (1998)
What can I say, this movie is hands down the best of 1998 and one of the best films of the decade. This movie was definitely underrated when it came out, and Edward Norton should've won an Academy Award for his tour-de-force performance, and also the director, Tony Kaye for best director.
This movie tells the story of Derek Vinyard (Norton) a young man in Venice Beach, California. The story is narrated by his younger brother, Danny, played by Edward Furlong, who is following his big brother's footsteps by being part of a neo-Nazi skinhead group, and basically taking his life and future down the drain. Danny's professor, played by Avery Brooks gives him an assignment on his own big brother after he had done a previous one on Hitler, and the professor of course, rejected it.
The movie goes back and forward in time through Danny's narration to highlight the events leading to Derek ending up in prison for three years, and later on the story is told from Derek's own perspective starting from the time he went to prison until he gets out. There's also a strong supporting cast here; Avery Brooks is great as Danny's professor Dr. Sweeney, Ethan Suplee does a very good job as Seth, who is close to Danny and Derek and also shares the same beliefs, Stacy Keach as Cameron, the leader of the local skinhead group, Fairuza Balk as Derek's girlfriend Stacy, and Beverly D'Angelo as Derek and Danny's mother, all do a great job in their respective roles. The movie is very gripping and it will keep you glued to your seat whether you're a fan of this genre or not, because the performances are sizzling. This is by far one of Edward Norton's best roles in his career. The movie touches on a topic not many movies dare to touch on, racism, and has strong pervasive language and some very disturbing scenes, so it's not for everyone, but it's an Oscar-worthy movie nonetheless. A rare underrated gem. Ten out of ten!
Dead Presidents (1995)
I really enjoyed this movie. Everyone in it did an excellent job and it was very gripping. It keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Larenz Tate, in his best role ever, plays Anthony Curtis, a young black man from late 1960's The Bronx, who is just a regular guy who hangs out with his friends played by Chris Tucker also in his best role ever as Skip, and Freddy Rodriguez as Jose. Shortly after graduation from high school, Anthony decides he doesn't want to follow his big brother's path of going to college but instead, joining the Marine Corps and fight for his country. Shortly thereafter, we are taken to Vietnam with the boys and we meet some other interesting characters, one of them a psychotic preacher, Cleon, played by Bokeem Woodbine,and the Vietnam sequences are executed very realistically and are very bloody. After a while, we are taken back to the boogie down Bronx, where Anthony upon returning to the old neighborhood after four years,realizes that things are even worse than before, and everyone, including his pre-Vietnam girlfriend, Juanita, all have taken their lives in a different direction. Anthony is now a father, and cannot find a job anywhere and realizes that his own country has turned his back on him and many young black veterans from 'Nam, including his old boys Skip and Jose. We also meet Kirby, played by Keith David, a once cold and ruthless hustler, who has now left the life because the corruption of the city has forced him to quit his old habits, and Juanita's sister Delilah, played by N'Bushe Wright, who is an activist with the Black Panthers. Pretty soon all of these characters, save Juanita, fed up with their lives and their situation, get together to plan a stickup on an armored truck that is making a pickup of old dollar bills and is taking them to a location in Washington to burn them. The stickup sequence is very well made, but of course, bloody. This movie is filled with great performances, the best coming from Larenz Tate, Bokeem Woodbine and Keith David, heart-pounding action and good dialogue. A Hughes Brothers' classic. 9.5 out of 10.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Kill Bill vol 1.....Tarantino's back!
Tarantino's first movie of the new millennium is nothing short of a classic masterpiece, like all of his movies of course! This one in particular is filled to the brim with tributes to old Kung-fu chop-socky films, Japanese movies, and anime, and of course the usual pop-culture references, a staple to every Tarantino film.
The movie starts off with a rather disturbing look at the main character known as The Bride played by the fabulous Uma Thurman, and the title character, who we do not see but hear his voice on this volume, Bill. Later we figure out the story is all about a woman who wants nothing but revenge on the people responsible for beating the living crap out of her on her wedding day while she was pregnant, killing everyone who was there that day, putting a bullet in her head and leaving her comatose for four years. The responsible ones, besides Bill are the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. The squad members in order of appearance are Vernita Green, played by the gorgeous Vivica A. Fox, Oren Ishii, played by Lucy Liu, Elle Driver, played by Daryll Hannah and Budd, played by Michael Madsen. The Brides quest for revenge takes her all the way to the other side of the world in search of one of the members, later on returning to America and continuing her vendetta against the remainder of the squad. Yes, as you've all heard there's lots of blood and gore on this one, especially the scenes in Japan, but the movie has many laughs, some of them involving a scene of The Bride in Japan with a bartender/sword maker played by the Japanese movie legend Sonny Chiba. There's also excellent music to top it off, borrowed music of course but that makes the movie even more fun to watch as is usual in all of Tarantino's movies. There's also a very well made, and bloody anime scene in which it describes one of the member's origins.
I know there will be some people that will probably trash this movie for his excessive gore and violent content, but as far as i'm concerned, this is still a masterpiece, maybe not another Pulp Fiction but worthy of being in your collection if you're a fan of Tarantino's work.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Excellent follow up to volume one
In Kill Bill Vol 2. Tarantino has focused more into storyline, characters and plot and given a little rest to the blood and gore of the first one. Making this one stand out and in my opinion surpass the first one. Once again the story picks up where part one left off, The Bride is still thirsty for revenge and has three more people to finish off, leaving last on the list, the most crucial of them all, Bill.
This time around, the movie follows a more spaghetti westernish path, and leaves the chop-socky, kung fu tributes a little bit behind. That's mostly in part because the targets are different and now most of the action takes place in American soil. This time we also finally learn The Bride's real name. Next on her list, is the white-trashy, trailer-dwelling brother of Bill's, Budd, played excellently by Michael Madsen, in his best role since Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs. Budd is the only male member of Bill's killer squad. This time around we also find out why Budd is living the kind of life that he is, and are even taken on a little trip to his workplace to really see what his life has become after leaving the squad.
This time around we also learn how The Bride learned to kick ass the way she does, by seeing her taking a trip down memory lane while she's in a sticky situation of life and death and for about twenty minutes or so, we go back to the kung-fu, chop-socky tribute, and meet a new character in time, Pai Mei played by legendary kung fu actor Gordon Liu. We also see in action for the first time, the other member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, and only worthy match to The Bride, Elle Driver played by the still beautiful Daryll Hannah. Seeing Elle and The Bride's fight on screen is one of the best seen in recent Hollywood movies but the best part of the movie comes when The Bride finally finds Bill.I have to say, even for a role that was written specifically for him and that has somewhat to do with his earlier work, David Carradine still does an excellent job playing Bill. His charisma and coolness make him a natural at this kind of role. And speaking of coolness, one of my favorite actors, Sam Jackson, also makes a very brief appearance at the beginning of the movie that goes almost unnoticed, but as always he's great even if it's in a teeny little cameo. This movie, in true Tarantino style, is filled with great dialogue, in my opinion, the greatest since Pulp Fiction. Also, once again Tarantino chooses the perfect music for his work. The spaghetti-western music from classic films also blend with the movie perfectly. In conclusion, this movie delivers in all levels, action-wise, comedy-wise, story-wise, and dialogue-wise. So there is something for everyone in this movie. This one, along with volume one, make their mark as one of the first classics of the 21st century. 10 out of 10.
Carlito's Way (1993)
One of the best crime dramas of the 90's
Brian De Palma and Martin Bregman, the guys who were responsible for the gangster classic "Scarface" had scored another classic with "Carlito's Way". Based on a novel by Edwin Torres, the screenplay adaptation, who incredibly was about to be turned down by Bregman, is one of the best crime movies of the 90's or perhaps of all time.
I was always curious about this movie and waited over 10 years to see it. I finally decided to just buy the DVD, and let me tell you it was the best twelve bucks i've ever spent in my life. I was not disappointed one bit.
Al Pacino gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Carlito Brigante, a Puerto Rican hustler from the 70's who has just served five years in prison and has vowed to live a clean life and stay away from crime, but finds it very difficult to stay out of the streets and out of trouble once he gets back to the old neighborhood and meets up with his old acquaintances, and little by little finds himself going back to the same life that put him behind bars in the first place. Sean Penn gives another Oscar-worthy performance as Brigante's lawyer and friend David Kleinfeld, who is very much involved in Brigante's world of crime in his own way and is way crazier and reckless than he looks. Penelope Ann Miller is great and very sexy as Pacino's love interest Gail. The rest of the supporting cast is excellent as well: Luis Guzman, as Carlito's right hand man Pachanga, the then-unknown Viggo Mortensen, in a short appearance as Carlito's acquaintance, Lalin, and of course one of the most memorable characters, John Leguizamo as a drug-dealer with high ambitions, "Benny Blanco from The Bronx". This movie is filled with great dialogue and even greater performances and is one of those movies that usually critics pound but that audiences love for generations. The movie's soundtrack is great as well, the disco hits and the salsa music perfectly fit the mood of every scene and truly take you back to that time. This is by far one of Pacino's best movies in his career and he should've definitely at least been nominated for an Oscar. Definitely worth to be in your collection if you're a fan of crime dramas or gangster flicks. 10 out of 10.