Tag Archives: Violence

Movie Review: Blue Ruin (2013)

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Rating: A/  As far as I can tell, one of the great mysteries of the modern age is why Macon Blair’s career didn’t go wild after being in this movie. Blair plays Dwight, and let me tell you, he makes one hell of an entrance. A traumatized homeless vagrant with achingly sad, lost eyes, Dwight is a guy for whom jumping out of a window naked after sneaking a bath on the sly is the extent of his criminal activity, but that’s before a compassionate police officer takes him to the station and gently informs him that ‘he’ has gotten out of prison. Continue reading Movie Review: Blue Ruin (2013)

Movie Review: City of God (2003)

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Rating: B/ This ain’t the vision of Rio di Janeiro you see on travel brochures! Told in a nonlinear style somewhat akin to Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, City of God tells the disturbing story of a Brazilian gangster named Lil’ Ze (Leandro Firmino) living in the crime-ridden ‘city of God’ who really wants to make a name for himself, and climbs up to the top of the food chain amid the senseless slaughter of hundreds of unfortunates.

Continue reading Movie Review: City of God (2003)

Movie Review: Hush (2016)

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Rating: B-/ Hush is a fairly typical home invasion/slasher flick with a intriguing twist- the victim of the unfolding mayhem is more or less completely deaf, making her easy pickings for an unhinged thrill seeker with a neck tat and a bad attitude. Or so he thinks. Maddie (actress/ co-writer Kate Siegel) is a kind and independent hearing-impaired young woman who’s retreated to a cabin in the woods to finish her latest novel.All the wants is some peace and quiet while she tries to overcome her crippling bout of writer’s block, but the otherwise unnamed ‘man’ (John Gallagher Jr.) has other ideas, as he stalks Maddie with a crossbow, intent on not only murdering her but also making her life a living hell before doing so. Continue reading Movie Review: Hush (2016)

Movie Review: Cube (1997)

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Rating: B-/ As far as I’m concerned, Cube is an amazing premise somewhat undone by a few pretty bad actors. Aside from the weak links in the cast, Cube has creative minimalist sets built on a fairly low budget, intriguing characters each with something interesting to bring to the table, and fascinating shifting dynamics between the leads. There’s something missing, but what’s there makes a pretty good watch for the most part. The director gets points for originality, and making the most out of meager sets and props. With almost nothing, he creates a story that makes you want to keep watching. Too bad some of the actors (I’m looking at you, Maurice Dean Wint) can’t measure up to the film’s mostly high standards.  Continue reading Movie Review: Cube (1997)

Movie Review: Deadpool (2016)

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Rating: C-/ Loud, crass, self-indulgent, and with more dick and blow job jokes than a stand-up comedy hour commandeered entirely by drunken frat boys, Deadpool is an over-rated, interminable mess. You can practically hear the jokes fall flat at delivery, which is kind of sad, because you can tell it really really wants to be funny, but somehow it just keeps coming up short of charm and laughs. Continue reading Movie Review: Deadpool (2016)

Movie Review: Watchmen (2009)

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Rating: C/ How do I hate Rorschach’s Batman voice? Let me count the ways. Set in an alternate timeline where Richard Nixon tries to shut down a group of masked vigilantes, the premise of Watchmen is admittedly original. I really liked the opening montage, where director Zack Snyder recreates famous moments from the 60’s and 70’s with a superhero twist. But Watchmen also proves to be both over-baked and overblown, attempting to portray the relentless ugliness of human nature with a stylized superhero movie format and falling short of greatness. Continue reading Movie Review: Watchmen (2009)

Sicario (2015)

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Rating- A+/ Buckle your seat belts, because this ride gets pretty crazy. Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario is a unrelentingly bleak and fascinating film about a subject I know nothing about, Mexican Drug Cartels. The only stuff I know about Cartels I learned from the television shows Breaking Bad and The Bridge, so don’t expect me to know a lot about the authenticity of this film. But my dad is a cop who hates cop shows, and he was totally fucking psyched about getting us to watch this. Anyway, there’s hardly a dull moment in Sicario, it’ll get your heart pounding and your adrenaline going, and although it’s a bit too character-driven to be described as an ‘action movie’ (not in the same vein as say, Transformers,) it’ll have your attention every moment of it’s duration. And some of that time you’ll literally be holding your breath in suspense (as cliche as that sounds.)

This is a film where things go from bad to worse. Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is a by-the-books FBI agent who specializes in kidnapping scenarios. After a raid goes badly awry, Kate is approached by the CIA and offered a job she knows nothing about. Eager to get back at the people who are responsible for the massacre of her teammates but sad to leave her partner and best friend Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) (How refreshing to see a storyline featuring male-and-female besties that doesn’t devolve into a predictable romantic scenario!,) Kate travels by plane to Mexico, and is told by her superiors she is going to El Paso. Turns out, she’s not, she’s going to Juarez, the most corrupt city in Latin America, where there are literally mutilated bodies hanging from bridges in broad daylight. Shit. She’s going to need to ask for paid vacation time in the near future. Six months in Oahu won’t be nearly enough to get those images out of your head.

Kate is accompanied by an an chilled-out agent named Matt (Josh Brolin) who seems to be doing his best Jeffrey ‘the Dude’ Leboswki impression, and the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro,) who doesn’t seem to be working for any one organization as much as his own twisted agenda. In the process of taking down a cartel led by the ruthless Fausto Alarcon (Julio Cadillo,) Kate goes in way over her head, falling down a kind of rabbit hole of violence and corruption.

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Kate’s story is interspersed with the plotline of Silvio (Maximiliano Hernández,) a Juarez cop who is similarly digging himself into an awfully big hole, but for different reasons. Despite what he might or might not have done, Silvio will break your heart as he makes one bad decision after another in the attempt to fully provide for his wife and son. His corruption and eventual undoing is juxtaposed with the other characters’ deep moral ambiguity and bad decision making throughout. There’s a lot of grey area here, and the characters range from the flawed, to the evil, to the downright dastardly and hold some of this complexity on both sides.

Sicario feels very raw and realistic, especially for an American movie, which seem to usually feel more sitcomish or fake than their overseas counterparts. The movie doesn’t show a whole ton of violence on screen but is gut-wrenchingly effective when it does, capturing the viewer’s imagination in scenes of implied torture and child murder. Kudos to whole cast from the biggest stars to the fairly obscure secondary players. Together they create a world of intrigue and chaos, and most of all, of unflinching realism. This is not a movie where the good guys go in guns-a-firing and save the day while dropping the occasional shitty one-liner. I’m not entirely sure there are any good guys, at least not in the typical sense. There is, however, a whole lot of devastation and emotional damage on the part of the people who have to deal with this crap- every day. To see the awful side of humanity on a regular basis is enough to make anyone go a little crazy, but these guys- particularly the dead-eyed Alejandro- go above and beyond the call of duty in terms of nuttiness.

Combining excellent foreshadowing  and script writing with a astonishingly chilling score, Sicario is a thriller with brains- I know, pick your disbelieving jaws off the floor- that provides no easy answers or platitudes about the drug war in Mexico or the infinite potential for darkness within the human condition. I’m not exaggerating when I saw this movie might contain the best ensemble cast of the year. The players give it all they’ve got, and the results are nothing less than harrowing. And this from the person who thought the directors’ earlier effort, Prisoners, was mindbogglingly overrated. I guess you don’t know exactly what to expect of a filmmaker until you’ve seen them at their best.

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