Julianne Moore

July 23, 2018

A Simplistic Review: Hannibal

One day, we’ll look back at the fact that “Hannibal” is actually very very good despite what book snobs might consider an inferior ending, but do most people know how the book actually ended, and could you believe the uproar! Oh, and btw, Gary Oldman…is well…great…

I’ll even go as far as saying I enjoy this more than “The Silence of the Lambs” but again, the more gore, the better, and “Hannibal” has crimson stuff to spare.

February 23, 2015

Map to the Stars

HOLLYWEIRD

Map to the Stars – Hollyweird

Quick story about David Cronenberg; My earliest memory of his work is actually not even a film he directed, it’s a film that he appeared in. As a kid I remember watching “Nightbreed” and being scared out of my mind. Sure there are plenty of monsters and mutants in the film, but the one thing that stood out to me was a guy in a mask with a zipper and buttons for eyes. Only later would I find out that man behind the mask was David Cronenberg, the same guy behind classics like “The Fly” and “Scanners.” In the past decade or so, Cronenberg has taken a departure form the “body horror” that had made him famous, and has concentrated on more intimate character pieces like “Eastern Promises” and “Cosmopolis.” Now, in what I might call his most interesting work in quite some time, Cronenberg takes on Hollyweird and all of it’s kookiness in “Map to the Stars,” starring Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, and Mia Wasikowska.

The skinny on “Map” is this; young Agatha (Wasikowska) arrives in town and is greeted by limo driver, Jerome (Pattinson). Agatha has just gotten into town via Jupiter, Florida and is looking for Benji Weiss, the young star of the “Bad Babysitter” series of films. Meanwhile, we meet Havana (Moore) the daughter of movie star who died in a fire who is receiving counseling from Dr. Stafford Weiss (Cusack). Havana gets word from her agent that a film is being produced about her mother’s life and naturally Havana feels she is best actress for the role. The film plays out where we learn more about all of the major characters in the film and how weird do things get? Well, this is a Cronenberg film after all……

Based on reviews that I’ve been reading about “Map” this is really a love it or hate it flick. I’ve read that some people are disgusted about the insinuated and pretty much apparent incest connotations, as well as the casual nudity and dark subject matter. This is where I say “grow up!” Sure, some of the content is a little over-the-top, but you’d be a fool to not think things like this happen in Hollywood.

The interwoven plot is interesting and the film is a Chuck Palahniuk, David Lynch, and Bret Easton Ellis mash-up of insane and maniacal proportions. At first I thought this film was actually written by someone of Ellis’ ilk, but upon further inspection the writing duties went to Bruce Wagner, who is best known for writing “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors.” It’s odd for Cronenberg to go with a writer that has so few credits to his name, but the writing is actually very well done, visceral, and perfect for the film.

Now, a lot of people were in love with Julianne Moore’s performance in “Still Alice,” but I would go as far as saying that her turn in “Map” was vastly superior in it’s weirdness and fearlessness. We all know that Moore is a great actress that has been overlooked for awards for years, but wouldn’t it have been nice if she was rewarded for a role that required more than just having an ailment and having to overcome it? I’d say yes, but I’m sure a lot of people would go against me. Outside of Moore, the supporting cast is solid, and it’s good to see that John Cusack is still getting work that matters and not falling into the same trap that has confounded Nicholas Cage for the better part of a decade. I don’t know what it is, but Cage and Cusack to me are almost one in the same. “Map” also shows me more of the talent that I know is residing inside of Robert Pattinson. He had a great turn in “Cosmopolis” and showed me more in last year’s under-appreciated “The Rover” and albeit a small role, he is still good in this film and his scenes with Mia Wasikowska are small, but tragic.

All in all, “Map to the Stars” is an interesting and dark take on celebrity and the toll it can take on those with weak constitutions. While this film does seem more in the wheelhouse of someone like Lynch, it’s great to see David Cronenberg’s take on Hollywood since he is mostly a director who is always on the outside looking in, on his own accord of course. And while I do like that he is taking more chances on projects like “Cosmopolis” and “A Dangerous Method” I would like to see him get back to his older, body horror work one day.

Fun Fact: Hollywood was established in 1853 with a single adobe hut just outside of Los Angeles, California.

February 21, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Oscar Prediction Podcast (Ep. 40) 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

Hooray for Hollywood? Naw, it’s time to skewer Hollywood and rip them and new one, of course while picking the winner’s of this year’s Academy Awards.

The boys go over all the essential categories from Best Score all the way to the grand-daddy of them all; “the award where they could have had 10 nominations, but they decided to go with eight.”

Will “Boyhood” be this year’s big winner? Will “Birdman” fly above the competition? Why was “Gone Girl” only nominated for one award? Why is the Academy in love with films that feature people with disabling diseases?  Is it a fetish that they secretly have that we don’t know about?

All this and much more as the Simplistic Reviews Crew gives Hollywood the old “what-for.”


Show Notes:
Hugh Jackman Hopping At Tony Awards


Music Notes: 

If you’re not interested in our ramblings, just check out our picks below:

Best Animated Feature*
Matt
Should Win: The Lego Movie / Will Win: Big Hero 6
DJ
Should Win: The Lego Movie / Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Justin
Should Win: The Boxtrolls / Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
*Matt and DJ know that “The Lego Movie” isn’t nominated, and it’s a crime that it isn’t.
Best Musical Score
Matt:
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: The Theory of Everything
DJ:
Should Win: Interstellar / Will Win: The Theory of Everything
Justin:
Should Win: Interstellar / Will Win: Interstellar
Best Adapted Screenplay/Best Original Screenplay
Matt:
Should Win: Inherent Vice & Birdman / Will Win: American Sniper & Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Whiplash & Birdman / Will Win: Whiplash & Birdman
Justin:
Should Win: The Theory of Everything & The Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: Sniper & Birdman
Best Cinematography
Matt:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
Justin:
Should Win: Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: Birdman
Best Director
Matt:
Should Win: Boyhood / Will Win: Boyhood
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Justin:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Best Supporting Actress
Matt:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Patricia Arquette
DJ:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Patricia Arquette
Justin:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Meryl Streep
Best Supporting Actor
Matt
Should Win: Edward Norton / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
DJ:
Should Win: J.K. Simmons / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Justin:
Should Win: J.K. Simmons / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Best Actress
Matt:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
DJ:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
Justin:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
Best Actor*
Matt:
Should Win: Michael Keaton / Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
DJ:
Should Win: Jake Gyllenhaal / Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
Justin:
Should Win: Michael Keaton / Will Win: Bradley Cooper
*DJ understands Jake isn’t nominated for “Nightcrawler” but he should have been.
Best Picture
Matt:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Justin:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood

August 15, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Assassins

CYBER-DUMP

All aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine” for one final “Battle of the Tough Guys” review before we all go see “Expendables 3”. This time we get a twofer. Antonia Banderas matches wits with the Italian Stallion. Banderas, the two time mariachi band leader, now joins the Expendables roster, and a fitting addition he is.
The year is 1995, and a terrible year it was. Timothy McVeigh detonated a car bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Nintendo released the “Virtual Boy” which later proved to be a commercial failure. Dirty hippies everywhere mourned the passing of Jerry Garcia and the Internet becomes privatized and found it’s way into “Assassins“.
THE SKINNY
Our tale begins with Robert Rath, Sylvester Stallone, the worlds most skilled assassin who has recently accepted a contract to kill billionaire Allan Branch. This takes Rath, and us, to the cemetery where Branch is paying his respects to his brother who recently passed away as a result of a car accident.
Branch, whose character is short lived, is interesting because while he is at his brother’s funeral, the swarming media can be overheard reporting on Branch and how he is under investigation for funding para-military right-wing hit squads in South America. The film is littered with these, sort of, left-wing jabs at the right. In another scene an anti-NRA advertisement can be seen on the side of a bus. These things aren’t important but funny to see in a film starring Stallone, who is a diehard Republican. Hmm, “Diehard Republican”, that could be the title of his next movie. Moving on.

Just as Rath is preparing to take the shot, using the old “you can’t see my gun because I‘m wearing a fake cast” trick, a shot rings out and Branch falls dead. Someone has beaten Rath to the punch. In assassin lingo he “retired” Rath’s “mark”.
After a brief fire fight with police, Miguel Bain, Antonio Banderas, is captured and taken into custody. Rath, curious about who this other assassin is and who tipped him off about his contract, follows after Bain and discovers that he, from the backseat of the cop car and handcuffed, managed to cause said cop car to barrel roll and he escaped police custody.
Rath continues to hunt down clues as to who this mystery assassin is, but takes another contract in the meantime. This takes him to some five star hotel where he will be intercepting a deal between an unknown lady hacker and a group of Dutch men. Apparently she has stolen some top secret encrypted data, stored on a 3.5 inch floppy disc no less, and is attempting to sell it. Rath is sent to retrieve the disc, eliminate the Dutch buyers and retire the mark, who we later learn is Electra, Julianne Moore. This is all fine and well, but once again Bain shows up and makes Rath’s plans all the more difficult to carry out. You could say that Bain is the BANE of Rath… These names are stupid.
Rath, now believing that he himself is a mark, escapes with Electra and the disc in an attempt to find out what exactly is going on; who is after him? and what information is on the disc?. A lot of plot happens here. I mean A LOT. So let me try to shorten this as best I can so I don’t turn this review into a book.

Rath and Bain have several uneventful run-ins before he and Electra escape the city. Oh, don’t forget Pearl, Electra’s cat. To make her even more interesting she’s a cat lady. When they do escape, they use the Internet to set up an exchange for the disc and two million dollars from whom they suspected is the CIA. The money is for Rath so he can get outta the killin’ game and finally retire. This however was a double cross and his briefcase full of money explodes. But that’s okay because the disc was a fake anyhow.
At this time we also learn that Rath was once contracted to assassinate Nicolai Tashlinkov, a fellow assassin and friend, fifteen years prior. This was something Rath has always wrestled with. I wonder how this might effect the outcome of this story.
Rath and Electra then use their 1990s laptop and their 1990s dial up Internet connection from the back of Electra’s Mustang — somehow — to arrange yet another exchange. This time for the real disc and now twenty million dollars. The money is wired to a bank account of Rath’s in the Caribbean. All he and Electra have to do is withdraw the cash in person and leave the disc in a safety deposit box for the contractor to collect.

Again this is all fine and well, but the nameless contractor seems to be playing Rath and Bain against each other. Because, again, Bain shows up to foil Rath’s plan. This time Bain stakes out the bank, with Rath inside, waiting for him to show his face. Bain wants to kill

While Bain, the guy who wants to be the greatest killer in the world, waits patiently from his sniper roost, nature starts a-callin’. With his rifle in one hand, he tries to piss in an empty water bottle with the other. Bain thinks he sees Rath leaving the bank, fumbled for his gun and ends up spilling his piss allover himself. Classy!
The Caribbean, as well as this particular bank, is very important to Rath. Fifteen years ago, Rath assassinated Tashlinkov as he was leaving this bank after also retiring from the game. Now Bain plans to do the same. This is some heavy shit people!
Long story short, Rath withdraws the cash before squaring off with Bain one last time. With Bain on his death bed, the true mastermind of this entire scenario makes himself known. Who is it? Tashlinkov! He faked his death and has been playing Rath and Bain against each other in a plot to get Electra within his grasp. Why you ask? Well the short answer is Communism. The long answer is that the information on the disc exposes Tashlinkov’s false death as well as his nefarious activities since then.

Both Rath and Bain realize that they have been played, and simultaneously turn and unload on Tashlinkov. Rath and Bain have some final words before Rath unleashes his WRATHon Bain and he and Electra walk off into the sunset, discussing her cat. The End!
THE VERDICT
Oh my god, this movie! “Assassins” should have been called “The Movie That Wouldn’t Die!” or “Welcome to Purgatory”. It had potential, sticking close to the standard conventions of action movies. But unfortunately it was carried out in such a way that took the wind out of it’s sails before it ever had a chance.
The action scenes fizzle out before they get good. The story is convoluted with much screen time being taken up with events that soon don’t matter. And the subtext is presented, but not around when it is needed.
It’s as if the script was written by blind librarians or something. Nothing personal against the visually impaired or literate. “Assassins” just feels like it’s an action movie made by people who have never seen an action movie. Like they were painting by numbers…with a paint brush stuck in their eyes. I personally blame director Richard Donner, but that is neither here nor there.
There is something that “Assassins” has in common with many films of this vintage. It doesn’t know how computers or the Internet work. This is surprising since it was written by the Wachowski…persons formerly known as brothers. Who, after “Assassins”, went on to make a little known film that goes by the name “The Matrix”. “The Matrix”, which is teeming with tech savvy, though much is fictionalized to better weave the web of fiction, is smart. “Assassins” is not. The Wachowskis have come along way, let me tell you.

The ’90s were funny when it came to computers. I compare it to the early ’60s atomic age of sci-fi,

where nuclear radiation was the cause of every kind of superhero and monstrous mutation conceivable. This was because people didn’t understand what radiation was or how it effects biology. In the ’90s, this type of sci-fi plot was seen as charmingly ridiculous or even laughable. In the ’10s, a time where large portions of our annual GDP is generated from the Internet & we have conversations with folks using our futuristic video phones, watching a film like “Assassins”, where people connect their laptop to some ever present dial-up wi-fi Internet connection from the back seat of their car, is also fucking laughable! Dial-up and wi-fi are somehow the same thing? Well in this movie they are. Computers are magic.
Many of the goofy usages of the Internet or predictable plot turns don’t make this a bad movie. “Assassins” is a bad movie because it isn’t fun to watch. It isn’t interesting or smart. It isn’t very entertaining either. It drones on for a full two hours and thirteen minutes with scene after scene that don’t bother to progress the story forward, nor do they do what action movie should always do. Have action! In the third act of the film we (two friends and myself) counted four instances in which Stallone and Banderas were in the same space-time and weren’t at each others throats. Excuse me, but isn’t this film called “Assassins”? Kill each other already!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
March 13, 2013

London Calling: Children of Men

Children of Men – Captivating

Lately in film, especially futuristic sci-fi fare, the preferred city of devastation is London.  It used to be that Godzilla would stomp Japan into oblivion, but of course we all know that giant lizards bred out of nuclear irresponsibility is completely far-fetched, right?  But putting fantasy away, London has been a hub the past decade or so for apocalyptic visions of the future.  From Rage viruses to an infertility pandemic, I’m not sure “Keep Calm and Carry On” would be enough for even London’s strongest citizens to get behind.  This brings me to 2006’s “Children of Men” one of the most captivating sci-fi films to be released in recent memory.
Here’s the scoop; we visit London in the not too distant future where there hasn’t been a reported new birth in nearly 18 years.  Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, the youngest person in the world, lovingly named Baby Diego, has just been murdered.  With the world in mourning, we follow happy-go-lucky Theo, played by Clive Owen.  Theo is the type of guy that loves to get high with his hippy friend Jaspar and get kidnapped by a terrorist group called “The Fishes” led by his former activist wife, Julian, played by Julianne Moore.  The plot thickens when it’s discovered that Theo is carrying some precious cargo, namely a baby in the belly of a young refugee girl named Kee.  With the government, crooked cops, and members of the terrorist group hot on his heels, Theo has no choice but to protect Kee and try and deliver her to The Human Project, a mysterious group researching why humanity become infertile so many years ago.

“Children” went largely unnoticed during its theatrical run, which is odd for how good this film really is.  The acting is spot on, the setting couldn’t feel more real, and the message is relatively universal.  Sure, there are some preachy moments, and even some of the imagery and names are obvious, case in point, the young girl Kee, (even though it’s technically pronounced “chi”) who just might be the “key” to civilization’s survival.  But those are minor quibbles.

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who some might know for “Y Tu Mama Tambien” or to an even wider audience as the director the best Harry Potter film installment “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”  Some might disagree with that assessment of the “Harry Potter” franchise, but it was the moment that the series went from light-hearted and childish to dark, brooding, and serious.
Cuaron lends that trademark style to “Children” and creates a dystopian London where all hope seems to be lost, refugees are treated like Jews during World War II, and ethnic tensions are slowly coming to a head.  With all of that being said, Cuaron is still able to capture small glimmers of hope in a hopeless world, and some humanity in some of the more monstrous characters.  But the highlights of the film revolve around the long take action sequences which last upwards of 6 minutes.  Even though it has been debunked that these scenes are not one long take, the fact remains that these scenes highlight the film and create the most memorable moments in “Children.”

Despite the fact “Children” was critically praised, the fact it didn’t bank more at the box office was a crime in and of itself.  It’s also a movie I’m always shocked people have never seen; at that moment I slap them in the face, hand them the DVD, and bid them Godspeed.

Fun Fact:  In the Bexhill block scene, Theo can be seen wearing a London 2012 Olympics fleece jacket.

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