movie reviews

Drive (2011)

DRIVE

A  nameless Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who also works as getaway driver. He meets his neighbour, Irene (Carrey Mulligan), a woman who has a young son, and instantly finds himself falling for her. When Irene’s ex-con husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) returns from prison the driver finds himself getting drawn into a violent world of crime. In order to protect Irene and her little boy from dangerous gangsters who Standard has a score to settle with,  the driver agrees to be part of a heist.

Drive is a violent, dark, action-packed thriller with a romantic twist. The cool soundtrack features a beautiful song called “Real Hero” by College & Electric Youth.

The cast includes: Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman.

 

Director:  Nicolas Winding Refn (Bleeder)
Screenplay: Hossein Amini  (The Four Feathers , Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin)    – Based on the book by James Sallis .
Running time:  1h40 min
Release: 2011 (USA)
Rated: R 

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movie reviews

Baby Driver (2017)

babydriver

The eponymous character Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver who listens to music all the time to drown out his tinnitus. He is a sweet guy who due to circumstance gets sucked into a life of crime. He meets, Debora (Lily James) a waitress in a diner and they immediately hit it off. Baby tries to get out of the getaway driver business and tells himself he is just going to do one more job…

I’d describe this movie as sleek, action-packed (with a good dose of violence and some awesome driving scenes), funny, a little sexy and with a sweet hipster love story.Fantastic editing.  The soundtrack is brilliant and suits the vibe of the movie beautifully. The screenplay is well written, with great dialogue.  The amazing cast includes:  Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Micah Howard,  Eliza González and Jamie Foxx.

Director and  Writer:  Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The World’s End)

Running Time:1 h 52 min 

Rating: R

Release 2017 (USA)

(c) 2017

movie reviews

Justice League (2017)

jl2017

I didn’t grow up reading comic books (though I was a regular viewer of  Batman: The Animated Series )…  and I still don’t read comic books (though thanks to the recent Wonder Woman movie as well as the biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, I w will) … but I do love super hero movies. Okay, let’s just move a long.

Justice League is based on DC comics characters Batman (Ben Affleck),  Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller),  Aqua Man (Jason Samoa),  Cyborg (Ray Fisher)  and Superman (Henry Cavil) .

Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) , a supernatural super-villain, is threatening life on planet earth.  An aging millionaire, Bruce Wayne (aka Batman), decides to assemble a team of with special abilities.  There is a slight problem though… Superman is dead.

Like with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I kind of liked it. (Though like I said, I’m not a purist). It’s a violent spectacle of super-hero action,  best enjoyed on the big screen.

The theme song rendition of The Beatles’ “Come Together”  by Gary Clark Jr. & Junkie XL will probably be stuck in your head for a few days at least.

Cast includes:  Diane Lane, Amy Adams Jeremy Irons, Connie Nielson, Amber Heard, Joe Morton and  J.K. Simmons.
Director:  Zack Snyder

Screenplay: Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon  (see imdb.com for full story & character credits)
Running Time: 2 hours
PG-13

movie reviews

Wonder Woman (2017)

wonderwoman
Based on the DC Comic book,  Wonder Woman, created by William Moulton Marston. Diana (Gal Gadot),  daughter of Hippolyta, the Amazon Queen,  lives among the Amazons (a special race created by Zeus to protect mankind from the god of war, Aries)  in a world populated only by women.

One day Diana rescues Steve (Chris Pine), an American soldier, from the ocean after his plane was shot down by Germans.  After learning about the terrible world war Diana decides to leave her home to put a stop to the destruction. Steve needs to stop the evil German commander Ludendorff (Danny Huston)  from destroying the the world.  With Steve  and their band of misfits by her side, she finds herself drawn into a the war and assumes her identity as warrior princess, Wonder Women.

The movie is packed with action, special effects, epic battle scenes and a bit of romance. I’ve never read any of the Wonder Women comic books I really enjoyed watching the movie.  Gal Gadot did an amazing job as Wonder Woman and the chemistry between her and Chris Pine is pretty good.

See it if you like action movies, comic book adaptations or seeing women kick butt. I’d recommend seeing this film on the big screen.

Cast also includes:   Connie Nielson, Robin Wright, Ewan Bremmer, Elena Anaya, Saïd Taghmaoui, David Thewlis,  etc

Director:  Patty Jenkins
Screenplay: Allan Heinberg

Story:  Zack Snyder,  Allan Heinberg,  Jason Fuchs

Running time: 141 mins
Rated: PG-13

©lowercase v  2017

analysis

Excess Baggage vs A Life Less Ordinary

 

Both films were released in 1997.  Both are about a spoiled rich girl, trying to get her father’s attention, who is accidentally kidnapped by a troubled young man. In both cases they fall in love. I wouldn’t really call either films an example of Stockholm Syndrome, even though in both cases the kidnapping “victim”  identifies with the kidnapper, because the kidnappings are  accidental.
It often happens that movies with similar plots are released by different studios in the same year.  What makes a difference is the screenplay, director and cast.

spoilers

A Life Less Ordinary (ALLO for sake of comparison):
Running time: 103 min      Rated: R
Tagline: “A comedy for anyone who’s ever been in danger…of falling in love.”

Robert (Ewan McGregor) loses his job and confronts the company president.  He impulsively takes the boss’s daughter, Celine (Cameron Diaz),  as a hostage. He now finds himself as a kidnapper on the run with Celine.  In the meanwhile, Jackson (Delroy Lindo) and O’Reilly (Holly Hunter),  are two angels on a mission from God to reestablish romance between modern man and woman.

Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Cast includes: Dan Hedaya, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shaloub, Ian Holm and Timothy Olyphant.

Excess Baggage (EB for sake of comparison):
 Running time: 101 min      Rated: PG-13
Tagline: “You would NOT believe what a girl’s got to do, just to get a little attention”
A spoiled teenager, Emily (Alicia Silverstone), fakes her own kidnapping.  While she is in the trunk of her car, Vincent (Bencio Del Toro), a car thief steals her car and inadvertently becomes a kidnapper. There are sparks between them and they form a special bond. In the meanwhile her father has sent his associate, ” Uncle Ray” (Christopher Walken) to retrieve Emily.

Director: Marco Brambilla
Writer:  Max. D Adams (story & screenplay), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais.
Cast includes: Harry Connick Jr., Jack Thompson and Nicholas Turturro.

Comparison:

  • EB is more realistic than ALLO, which has the fantasy element of two angels on a mission.
  • ALLO employs Deux ex machina. 
  • ALLO overall has the better cast and acting performances.
  • EB: Alicia  Silverstone  was nominated for a worst actress Razzie. Good performances from Walken and Del Toro.
  • ALLO has a more famous writer and director.
  • ALLO has better overall cinematogrpahy and editing.
  • Both have cool soundtracks.
  • EB is more main stream and did better at the box office.
  • EB was made for a budget of ± $20,000,000  and ALLO for  ± $12,000,000 (source: imdb)
  • ALLO has funnier dialogue.
  • The romantic relationship in ALLO is more volatile.
  • Emily (EB) fakes her own kidnapping to get attention and then gets kidnapped for real… Celine (ALLO) gets kidnapped by mistakes but then decides to exploit the situation (and test how much her father loves her), by making Robert demand a ransom.
  • Both female leads are willful and opinionated and will speak their minds, but Celine (ALLO) is more independent and a stronger character.
  • Both women are American.
  • Robert( ALLO) is just   sweet, but frustrated guy, a bit of a loser,  who is at the wrong time and the wrong place and haplessly becomes a criminal.  Vincent (EB) is a career criminal (who wants out), who is also at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets sucked into s sticky situation.
  • Both male characters are of foreign origin. Vincent is Latino and Robert is British.

I enjoyed both movies, but I slightly favour A Lifeless Ordinary, as it is quirkier and a lot more absurd, albeit a little over the top.  It also briefly features two beautiful Dobermans.

 

Memorable Dialogue:

——————————————————————————————————————————
Emily vs. Celine:

===Excess Baggage===

EMILY:
What… you’re done? You don’t wanna play anymore?

**
EMILY:
Oh, hi Dad, I’m okay but um… Daddy he made me touch his penis.

VINCENT:
[Vincent hangs up the phone] Touch what?

EMILY: Oops.
===A Life Less Ordinary===

CELINE:
“Kidnap For Beginners”, Chapter One. Have you even asked for a ransom yet?
**

CELINE:
If word got around that I had been liberated for half a million dollars, I could never show my face in polite society again. Diamonds have no value except that which is placed upon them.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

Vincent vs. Robert

===Excess Baggage===

VINCENT:
I once stole a Ferrari with a Chihuahua in the back. He made less noise than you do.

**
VINCENT:
I’ve known this girl for two days, are you tellin’ me I care more about her than you? You son of a bitch! You should’ve sold her when she was born for cash value Mr. Business Man!


===A Life Less Ordinary===

ROBERT:
Right you asshole, I’ve got your daughter here, and I’m gonna send her back in pieces if… OH! I’m sorry, madam. No, I haven’t got your daughter here, I’ve got someone else’s. No, we’re not married. Yes, I’ve read the same thing, it’s very hard to find suitable young men these days. Well, I’m sure your daughter’s very nice, in principle I’ve got no objection to meeting her…
[Celine hangs up the phone]

——————————————————————————————————————————

Relationships: 

===Excess Baggage:===

VINCENT:
How stupid do you think I am, huh?

EMILY:
How stupid is there?
**

VINCENT:
I got a Twinkie in the car. It’s all yours, if you want it. Just make this call for me.
**
VINCENT:
Let’s see… we’ve got rum, tequila and rum… Rum and tequila. What would you like?

EMILY:
You don’t have to be drunk to kiss me.

VINCENT:
Well… I’m not drunk.
===A Life Less Ordinary===

ROBERT:
Why are you such a pain to be with?

CELINE:
Because you tied me to a chair all night.
**

CELINE
Despite your crummy poem, I came to see you and all you could do was humiliate me and turn me away. I thought you were decent, but it turns out you’re just a lying, cheating bastard like all the rest.
**
CELINE:
What’s wrong?

ROBERT:
What’s wrong, you crazy bitch, is I thought you were gonna shoot me! THAT’S what’s wrong!

—————————————————————————————————————————

©lowercase v  2017 

 

movie reviews

Excess Baggage (1997)

Running time: 101 min      Rated: PG-13

Excess Baggage was released 20 years ago…

excess baggage

To get her father’s attention, a spoiled rich teenager, Emily (Alicia Silverstone), fakes her own kidnapping.  While she is hiding out in the trunk of her car, Vincent (Bencio Del Toro), a car thief steals her car and inadvertently becomes a kidnapper. There are sparks between them and they form a bond as they spend more time together.  In the meanwhile her father has sent his associate,  “Uncle Ray” (Christopher Walken) to retrieve Emily.

I saw this movies as a teenager. I definitely wanted to have Alicia Silverstone’s outfit, which I thought was very cool.  The soundtrack is enjoyable and features the song “All Mixed Up” by Red House Painters . Benicio Del Toro gives a very sweet performance as Vincent. Alica Silverstone is very cute and was extremely popular at the time of this film, due to her movie Clueless (1996).

The whole poor little rich girl thing is a bit of cliché. Excess Baggage is not exactly a cinematic classic, but it is  very entertaining and a easy watch.

Director: Marco Brambilla
Writer:  Max. D Adams (story & screenplay), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais.
Cast also includes:  Harry Connick Jr., Jack Thompson, Nicholas Turturro.

*A film with a similar premise, A Life Less Ordinary was released also released in 1997. Look out for my review and my comparison of the two films.

©lowercase v   2017

 

movie reviews

The Doberman Gang (1972)

dobe gang72

Rating: PG

This film received the first “No Animals Were Harmed” end credit ever issued to a movie by American Humane Society (the oversight organization responsible for monitoring animal actors during productions).

Story:
After a botched bank robbery, Eddie (Byron Mabe), a frustrated crook, realizes that human error was the cause of his gang’s failure. One night he happens to see some Dobermans chasing intruders off a property. He starts thinking of how he could use people’s fear of these dogs to rob banks. Along with his ex-waitress girlfriend (Julie Parrish) he gets his old gang back together. They hire a dog-trainer Barney (Hal Reed) to train six Dobermans to rob a bank for them.

These dobermans were extremely well-trained animals. It made me sad that such brilliant dogs were being exploited by a A-hole like Eddie. Never mind the money, the Dobies stole my heart. There is also a sweet bulldog named J Edgar Hoover.

My thoughts:
Nothing extraordinary in editing or cinematography, but nothing I could absolutely fault either. (Though I wasn’t watching this from a critics point of view).
The soundtrack/score is a bit cheesy, although the theme song is kinda catchy. The exposition felt a bit slow, since the dobermans only arrive after about 26 minutes. There are a feel holes in Eddie’s plan.

This is a fun movie.  Dobie-lovers might also get annoyed by some of the breed stereotypes. The doberman is a beautiful and extremely intelligent dog, that can also be an agent of destruction in the wrong hands.

 

 

©lowercase v