Sunday, September 25, 2011

September Reviews: A Mini Movie Buffet

So I have been a busy little Rhino...sorry for the long respite between posts, but writing doesn't pay the bills, and papa had to earn some real cheese.  Just because I didn't write, doesn't mean I didn't keep watching.

Also, while I do touch on them both below, The Kid in the Helmet is working up longer reviews for both Drive and Moneyball...expect them by midweek.

While I am short on time even now a mini-review for each of the following:

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark 2 of 5 Horns
This film was written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, but not directed.  His name was atop of every ad for this and one would have hoped that under his tuteledge, that director Troy Nixey could have delivered gold.  Not so much.  Inspired from a TV movie del Toro saw as a boy, his patented creature effects were here, but their ineffectiveness made them more comedic than frightening.  There were a handful of decent visuals, but all in all, this is a flop in my book.  Pan's Labyrinth was 100 times more effective as a visual thriller/horror feature.  I have much higher hopes for del Toro's release slated for 2013, Pacific Rim.  As for this, the title is won't be afraid of the dark.

The Guard 4.5 of 5 Horns
Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle were a perfectly matched odd couple in this comedic thriller/drama.  This is John Michael McDonagh's major feature debut and he comes from a pedigree of production success, being the brother of Martin McDonagh.  Martin gave us the 2008 gem, In Bruges, which also starred Gleeson and the tone of The Guard has many similar sensibilities of dark comedy rooted in a rich story.  The basic tale is an FBI agent (Cheadle) heads to Ireland to continue tracking a $500 million dollar drug drop.  Unorthodox police Seargant (Gleeson) happens to have an inside line on things as he was on the crew that found a body of one of the drug runners dumped the previous day.  Calamity ensues and Gleeson's sharp wit mixed with Cheadle's fish out of water role make for wholly enjoyable movie going.  Sadly, this film was rolled out in very limited release, but if you can find it, check it out!

Straw Dogs 4 of 5 Horns
James Marsden fills the role played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1971 original, in this surprisingly decent remake.  Not having seen the original, I was surprised at the slow burn that the first 80% of this flick was, but how effective that slow build was at making the last act more impactful.  Kate Bosworth was even palatable in the female lead and I am digging the resurgence of Dominic Purcell in flicks these days.  He was John Doe in the single-season 2002 Fox show that I absolutely loved.  He also shows up later on this review in the Killer Elite blurb.  Purcell is perhaps best known from his role as Lincoln Burrows on Fox's Prison break.  Some say he is a bit wooden, but I like him.  Straw Dogs succeeds as a drama and as a very dark thriller. 

Drive 4 of 5 Horns
"If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down; I don't carry a gun... I drive."

This film is extremely stylized and of the art house variety.  It has been marketed as a mainstream film, and it is certainly not that.  I think that this film will find many happy cinema goers, but there will likely be just as many disappointed viewers.  This film has a great retro feel, a great cast, and a myriad of beautiful shots.  But it is not going to be for everyone.  This flick brought home the Best Director Award for Nicholas Winding Refn at Cannes and was nominated for the Palm d'Or, or best in show award.  What is good for Cannes, will not always be good for America, sadly.  This may be one of those cases, but if you can open your mind to something different, have a hankering for some more Ryan Gosling in what is clearly a breakout year for him, and can stomach a bit of "ultra-violence" (read: extremely bloody, life-like killshots)...then this may be a film for you.  Personnally, I perfer something different now and again and this fit my bill.

Killer Elite 4 of 5 Horns
Jason Statham has a niche, there is no debating that.  In short, I enjoyed this film and the great cast it put forth.  I offer this short decider for you like other Jason Statham movies (Transporter, Crank, etc.)?  If the answer is yes, you will like this movie.  My only complaint...Yvonne Strahovski, also known as Sarah Walker on the NBC series CHUCK, was far underused.  I mean yes, the ultra-hot Aussie was used as the great looking damsel, but if you have ever seen Chuck, you know she can handle herself when in distress.  I guess its nice to see her in a mainstream release, but I am waiting for her to get some choice, ass-kicking roles.  At least we still have this last season of chuck.

Moneyball 5 of 5 Horns
See. This. Movie.  It is a great film, that falls well outside of the sports film genre and more securely in well-made drama department.  Brad Pitt has ridiculous chops and it was funny at times, his facial expressions reminded me of his turn as Aldo Raine, notable Tarantino nazi-hunter.  Jonah Hill demonstrated last year in Cyrus that he can do more than make us laugh (even though that was a funny movie), but the more subdued Hill definitely has talent in the dramatic realm...keep an eye out for Jonah Hill 2.0, the sleeker Hill who is prepped and ready for his version of 21 Jump Street, sans about 100 lbs.  For an earlier look at the loud and extremely funny Hill, check out Campus Ladies, if you can find it.

So there you have it...short, but sweet.  All I can say is that I was happy to avoided Abduction.  Compulsion will keep me headed back for the last two Twilights, but I was happy to steer clear of Taylor Lautner's latest offering.  I was surprised there were no shirtless shots in the trailer, but perhaps that was what led to the failure?

Until later, take care...
Reel Rhino

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