April 17, 2012

God Bless America - 2012

Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Frank (Murray) goes on a raging rampage of revenge against the subtle evils of modern culture with his young sidekick Roxy (Barr).

Aside from his minor role in the 1997's animated Hercules, I was relatively unaware of Bobcat Goldthwait's existence. That all changed last year when I came across the incredible gem of World's Greatest Dad. Apparently, he's been writing/directing a very unique brand of dark comedy since 1991. While his latest venture doesn't quite match up to the 2009 entry, it's still quite a good film. Murray (one of three brothers of Bill), who had a notable role as Fred Rumsen on Mad Men recently, is the perfect schlub. It's hard to imagine a more societally attractive person in the role, and Murray's got the acting chops and then some to back it up. Barr, while a newcomer, gives a terrific performance as the wild-minded teenage girl that has cropped up in a surprising amount of movies lately (at least, ones I've seen). She's very convincing, especially in the scenes where Murray has to talk her down from taking things too far. I didn't understand why the very last scene played out in the manner that it did, but it's a small price to play for a great Falling Down/Bonnie and Clyde mashup for the modern day. B+

April 16, 2012

The Raid: Redemption - 2012

Director: Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans

In Jakarta, a SWAT team busts up a slum apartment building in an attempt to take out a local crime lord.

RottenTomatoes calls this movie "all thrills and no frills," and I just can't top that. The plot's just enought to be convincing and believable, but the action sequences are literally the best I've ever seen, and where this movie truly shines. Gunplay, swordfighting with machetes, as well as classic hand-to-hand combat by way of martial arts (all with remarkable, steady cinematography) makes this Indonesian-language film worth every penny and then some. It sets the bar tremendously high for the announced sequel (possibly a trilogy at the end of the day), as well as the impending English-language remake, but worst-case scenario, we can pretend nothing exists but the first incarnation. A

April 14, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods - 2012

Director: Drew Goddard
Writers: Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz
Rating: A-

April 7, 2012

Primal Fear - 1996

Director: Gregory Hoblit
Writers: Steve Shagan & Anne Biderman
Starring: Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney, John Mahoney

After running from the cops in bloodsoaked clothing, altar boy Aaron Stampler (Norton) is arrested for the murder of a local bishop, and almost immediately branded "Butcher Boy" by the media. Defense attorney Martin Vail (Gere) sees an opportunity that no one else would dare go near, and agrees to defend Stampler pro bono. However, this case soon becomes far more heinous than either defense or prosecution could ever imagine.

Netflix recommended I watch this movie almost as soon as I signed up, but it sat in my Instant Queue for an eternity. I finally got around to watching it, and all I can say is WOW. This film blew my mind twice over, going places I never expected. Norton won an Oscar for his role as Stampler, which happened to be his first film appearance ever. Do I really need to say anything else? A

April 6, 2012

Mirror Mirror - 2012

Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Writers: Jason Keller & Melisa Wallack
Starring: Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane

Rating: B

The Hunger Games - 2012

Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Gary Ross, Billy Ray, & Suzanne Collins
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth

Rating: D+

Jeff, Who Lives at Home - 2012

Directors: Jay & Mark Duplass
Writers: Jay and Mark Duplass
Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer

Jeff (Segel), a 30-year-old man living in his mother's basement, believes that everything happens for a reason, and that signs are everywhere if you know how to look. After receiving a mysteriously angry call meant for "Kevin," he embarks on a quest trying to find the intended recipient, and crosses paths with his brother Pat (Helms) and mother (Sarandon) along the way, each of whom are battling their own issues.

First of all, big thanks to my local theater for getting this indie gem; it's quite the rare occurrence that I don't have to drive to Orlando for this sort of thing. I loved Cyrus, the last film from the Duplass brothers, and I loved Jeff as well. The partially-improvised mumblecore writing style works very well with these actors, and the three intermingling storylines are all properly fleshed out. I also really like seeing Judy Greer get the amount of work that her talent deserves. And while this might not mean much in the grand scheme of life, I always get a big kick out of seeing family photos throughout the years in films, so mad props to the art department for their hard work. Jeff is an utterly heartwarming indie drama that deserves your money far more than American Reunion or that post-converted 3D film that shall not be named. A-