THRASHIN’ (1986)

Directed By: David Winters
Written By: Paul Brown & Alan Sacks
Cinematography: Chuck Colwell
Editor: Lorenzo DeStefano & Nicholas Smith Production Designer: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Josh Brolin, Robert Rusler, Pamela Gidley, Josh Richman, Sherilyn Fenn, Chuck McCann, David Wagner, Tony Hawk, Tony Alva, Brooke McCarter Jr, Brett Marx, Mark Munski

Two skateboarding gangs battle each other for supremacy, and a member of one gang falls in love with the sister of his rival.


Now I have to give a curve to this skateboarding movie. As it is nostalgic fun that I probably would have enjoyed if I had watched it when I was younger and when it had initially come out, but watching it now. 

It is funnier in unintentional ways other than just the styles of yesteryear. Though the film does raise some questions and gives way to many observations like… 

Why do the corporate sponsors and owners of skate and Nike companies in these 80s movies come across as pedophiles? As they are way too old and way too giddy to be around young people. 

The daggers are way too obvious in their sabotage. Especially laughing while their victim is getting stitched up. Right in his face. Is this a machismo thing? Or just I dare you to say something? 

Also, why is it a gang when it involves minorities but a crew or group of friends when all caucasian? In this movie and beyond. Nice to see Robert Rusler as the suave skateboard villain leader of the daggers. Even if his casting makes you wonder exactly how old these characters are supposed to be. 

It always amazes me to see Josh Brolin in early roles as until MOD SQUAD the movie I really didn’t start recognizing him from movies like THE GOONIES, but you know you’re in another era of movies. When the integrated skate park gang are the villains. 

The film has the usual teenage romance in between the skateboard drama as well as lame jokes. Though I am not a prude it is shocking how fast Josh Brolin and Pamela Gidley’s character hook up on their first date practically but I guess when it’s true love you just know. 

This is more a film for teen girls to watch and fall in love with probable hunky poster boys at the time, but strangely also a film that bypasses that audience making the film more advertised for teenage boys, who might be into the fad of the time skateboarding. Leaving a definite unintentional homoerotic charge throughout the film and in the scenes. As even the villain of the film seems more into his look and glamour above all else

The highlight of the film is the joust skate off and just how trusting and willing a female character is to hitchhike her way to California with random truckers, but hey this movie is presented all in good fun and in supposedly simpler times. 

And the RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS are in this movie performing!!!! Some added cool points for the film. Though you will find them in quite a few films. It also makes it feel more like a teen movie by having a noted band in the film and their performance being a centerpiece almost.

If looking for a totally tubular nostalgic blast from the past check out this film. Even though for all of its ridiculous juvenile fun. I just couldn’t get on the same wavelength. 

Grade: D+

SICARIO (2015)

Directed By: Dennis Villeneuve 
Written By: Taylor Sheridan 
Cinematography By: Roger Deakins 
Editor: Joe Walker 

Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Donovan, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Maximilano Herandez, Raoul Trujillo

An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.


This film is where director Dennis Villeneuve style really comes alive. Now while PRISONERS is a well directed film. I always had problems with it. Here Villeneuve’s style is crucial to the story.

It can only be explained as he has a knack for making scenes feel alive with tension. Even simple ones. He manages to catch you off guard so many times. That at any moment in his films anything can happen. Especially in the world the characters inhabit. Violence can break out at any time. Tension which he excels makes everything feel urgent and powerfully delivered. Makes it feel like anything can happen

The film while having violent scenes manages the trick of not really showing any violence but making it feel like there is more in the film then there actually is. The few scenes of violence are either so shocking or graphic. That in other scenes that even suggest it. Your imagination is already at work going overboard.

That is certainly a skill in story telling.

Here Emily blunt is our protagonist so we learn things just as she does and through the first half of the film. We realize we are on a mission, but just like her the rules and true objective are confusing and the rules keep changing. So that we are constantly confused even when the audience thinks it knows where the film is going.

She makes a good lead as her character proves both tougher and more fragile then she is presented. Seeing her in EDGE OF TOMMOROW convinced most audiences of her ability to be tough. Which she uses here, but here she also reminds us of how deep and emotional she can be whole Doing or at least showing so little.

Initially, the director was asked to rewrite Emily Blunt’s part for a man. But, Denis Villeneuve wanted Emily Blunt for the role after he saw her in The Young Victoria.

The film could easily be compared to films like TRAFFIC. For how it mainly shows the government side of taking down drug cartels, but the film also manages to tell small Individual stories of different characters and their position in this trade. What it also manages to do is remind the audience yes we are in this films singular world, but there is a greater real bigger world out there. That is our reality that these characters live in also.

Some night even compare the film to ZERO DARK THIRTY. If they did the only reason I can see is that they both have a female protagonist who learns to become more cautious and tougher as the film goes along. As well as learning more information about her supposed target through various different governmental agencies. As well as working with special teams to extract certain people to get to main targets. Though that film is more fact based. This one deals with a real subject, but manages to create it’s own story. This film is truly it’s own Animal

No matter what is shown and not shown this film is brutal. It is a cutthroat world they operate in.

There are some nitpicking like why at first do they forbid her partner access to go with them. Then throughout they seem to not mind if he is there.

Josh Brolin is good as the charismatic leader of this force. Who seems to operate in bureaucracy and in shadows, but the films MVP is Benicio Del Toro as a badass man of mystery. Though his character is mostly quiet. There is an intensity and toughness about him. That makes him look world weary, but constantly sharp. He takes no prisoners and seems to have no moral guide. I missed this type of performance from del toro. He played this type in SAVAGES, but that character was more of a loud mouth and sadistic for fun. Here he does it because he has to and can. If it helps achieve whatever mission he is on.

Throughout the film. The story plays out slowly only revealing itself when it has to. Even when we are privy of scenes and information that blunt isn’t. There isn’t too much revealed. So we are still just as unsure as she is. History is more reveled slowly about the characters rather then present it as soon as we meet them.

The shots throughout are beautifully composed and framed. That makes the territories they govern and go through come Alive. Even in their plainness. They feel constantly full of mystery even though they are mostly plain.

Though the film is structured well and directed well. It doesn’t feel overly stylized.

This film is a doozy, it is wild, yet calm. Epic and far reaching yet small.

The acting that plays out constantly or at least the threat of it Is not the kind you expect in a film Like this. No big action set pieces that rely on the audience finding a thrill. Like it is a roller coaster. Often the violence is either surprising, quick or just plain unorganized in the manner that it happens. This isn’t a thrill seeking movie. It is a thrill feeling movie.

Though it more relies on a moral meter. Rather than having a clear political message or even discussing the politics of the situation. It is matter of fact, yet offers a deep reserve for the audience to ponder. As it Also doesn’t offer any answers. Leaving it more of an open ended film. It’s not even really too much of a political film More like an extreme procedural.

Now while this film could have been made with any director. I believe the reason the film excels is because of director Dennis Villeneuve his style totally fits in with the story and reminds one of the promise he showed with the film INCENDIES. As with his other films though acclaimed. The style for me never quite fit the stories. Or the stories never quite fit his style. They took too many wrong turns or all there seemed to be was that style and little to no substance at least nothing deep. As the direction seemed to suggest.

GRADE: B+

FLIRTING WITH DISASTER (1996)

Written & Directed by: David O. Russell

Cinematography: Eric Alan Edwards

Editor: Christopher Tellefsen 

Cast: Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Josh Brolin, Richard Jenkins, Mary Tyler Moore, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, George Segal, Celia Weston, David Patrick Kelly, Nadja Dajani 

Five months after the birth of his son, Mel Coplin remains unable to name the child until he has met his own biological parents and discovered who he “really is.” He, his wife Nancy, and his social-worker-in-training Tina Kalb jet off to California to meet his birth mother–who turns out not to be his mother, due to an error with the agency’s adoption records. The quartet sets out in search of Mel’s real parents, with tensions growing because of the sexual chemistry lacking between Mel and Nancy and growing between Mel and Tina.


This film is made in a classic screwball comedy type manner, but it feels more intellectual than these films. As it swings from out and out wacky comedy to more witty humor. So that it feels like a modern for that time Woody Allen movie. Only with his earlier anarchic spirit behind the camera.

The film often goes for shocks in it’s comedy but doesn’t feel blatant and ends up more subtle at times.

Each of the characters perfectly complements the ensemble as each of them appears fairly normal, but as we get to know then their dysfunctions or freaky side is revealed and they are so one of a kind many of them. Could have a whole film built around them.

Though the film is shot small and more like an independent film. Where at first we are in The cramped apartments of New York where it feels overwhelming and tight. As there are scenes that take place more indoors and feel closed off. Once they hit the open road it offers more abundance.

Though the way the camera keeps moving and shooting. It’s shots make it look like the camera like the performers are always exploring be it themselves, space, or boundaries. Which as a viewer excites you as you are never quite sure what will happen next and it keeps you laughing.

The timing And delivery of the jokes and performances as well as the direction are all on point.

The ensemble cast that would be seen as an all-star cast now. Seem more like they are improving like a jazz standard jam. Riffing off of one another and carrying the beat. Though while sure improv was involved it seems like the film was actually tightly scripted. Though when dialogue as said. It seems like it was thought up on the spot.

This is a comedy that delivers real surprises when you don’t expect them.

The strength behind the film is writer/director David O. Russell. He pulls the film together. Cinematically It’s impressive, script-wise it’s impressive and the performances he gets from his cast are amazing. As they go from serious to wacky in an instant. He usually can find laughs and comedy in situations that are not the usual places most would even go looking. Especially in dire depressing situations. Not only with this film but with films

Like his directorial debut SPANKING THE MONKEY (a rather depressing comedy about incest) I HEART HUCKABEES, THREE KINGS, AMERICAN HUSTLE, JOY, THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and THE FIGHTER. He shows range, talent, and a certain composite. Where you can’t say there snot if his films are the same.

The casting in this movie is inspired as ben Stiller doesn’t seem as in control here nor are his reactions with his usual acting tics in this movie. This seems like one of the last times he would be this pristine performance. Though he usually plays this type of character.

Tea Leoni and Patricia Arquette get to show off their talents. Tea Leoni in a more offbeat styled character who was usually played at that time by Parker Posey. She really shows her chops in a role she rarely gets to do these days more the neurotic sex pot who dresses more like a femme fatale. Who always seems in control but might be just for appearances.

Patricia Arquette has an almost leading lady form and is that attractive girl next door quality as Stiller’s wife.

Mary Tyler Moore as his overbearing Jewish mother. Who likes to show how good her body still is in shape. She tries to steal the movie but is in her realm in a role that at first looks like stunt casting but actually works out well.

Josh Brolin being more comedic and open than usual as a gay/bi FBI agent who tags along on the ride.

This film is a treat I regret not seeing in theaters. As I tried but disappeared fast. Though luckily saw it as soon as it was available on home video. Though I will admit It was A film that had to grow on me. Like the first time, i saw it. I thought it was funny but not hilarious. As I watched it over the years it has won me over. As I began to notice the layers and construction of Jokes, scenes, shots, and characters. It’s an underrated film that needs to be revisited and Given more credit.

Definitely an addition to the home library.

Grade: B+

OLDBOY (2013)

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Directed By: Spike Lee
Written By: Mark Protosevich
Based On The Manga By: Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi
Cinematography By: Sean Bobbitt
Editor: Barry Alexander Brown 


Cast: Josh Brolin, Sharito Copley, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, James Ransone, Michael Imperiolli, Pom Klementieff, Max Casella, Lance Reddick, Ricahrd Partnow, Hannah Simone

An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.

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DEADPOOL 2 (2018)

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Director: David Leitch
Written By: Rhett Rhesse & Paul Werneck, Ryan Reynolds
Cinematography: Jonathan Sela
Editor: Craig Alpert, Michael McCusker, Elisabet Ronaldsdottir & Dick Westervelt 

Music By: Tyler Bates 


Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Briana Hildebrand, Eddie Marsan, Rob Delaney, Terry Crews, Bill Skarsgard, Alan Tudyk 


After losing the love of his life, 4th wall-breaking mercenary Wade Wilson aka Deadpool must protect Russel must assemble a team of mutants and protect Russel from Cable, a no-nonsense, dangerous cyborg from the future and Deadpool must learn the most important lesson of all, to be part of a family again.

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SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLADADO (2018)

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Directed By: Stefano Sollima
Written By: Taylor Sheridan
Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski
Editor: Matthew Newman 

Cast: Benicio Del Toro, James Brolin, Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Donovan, Isabella Moner, Matthew Modine, Shea Whigham, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Elijah Rodriguez 


The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

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HAIL CAESAR! (2016)

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Written & Directed By: Joel & Ethan Coen
Cinematography By: Roger Deakins
Editor: Roderick Jaynes 


Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Clancy Brown, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Christopher Lambert, Robert Picardo, Fisher Stevens, David Krumholtz, Alex Karpovsky, Alison Pill, Fred Melamed, Wayne Knight, Jack Huston, Agyness Deyn

Hail Caesar! Follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer for Capitol Pictures in the 1950s, who cleans up and solves problems for big names and stars in the industry. But when studio star Baird Whitlock disappears, Mannix has to deal with more than just the fix.

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GANGSTER SQUAD (2013)

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Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Written By: Will Beall
Based On The Book By: Paul Lieberman
Cinematography By: Dion Beebe
Editor: Alan Baumgarten & James Herbert 


 Cast: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Michael Pena, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Mireille Enos, Troy Garity, Nick Nolte De’Aundre Bonds, Giovanni Ribisi, Jon Polito, Michael Bacall, Don Harvey, Derek Mears

It’s 1949 Los Angeles, and gangster Mickey Cohen has moved in, with the intention of controlling all criminal activity in the city. He has bought local judges and police, and no one is willing to cross him or testify against him. Everyone except Seargant John O’Mara, a former World War II soldier, whose goal is to settle with his family in a peaceful Los Angeles. Police Chief William Parker decides to form a special unit whose mission is to take down Cohen, and chooses O’Mara to lead the unit. O’Mara chooses 4 cops and asks another cop and vet, Jerry Wooters to join him but Wooters is not interested. But when he witnesses the murder of a young boy by Cohen’s people, he joins them, and they decide to take apart Cohen’s organization. Cohen wonders if a rival is going after him, but eventually he realizes it’s the cops.

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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014)

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Directed By: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller 

Written By: Frank Miller (Based on Characters & Graphic Novels created By Him) Cinematography & Editing By: Robert Rodriguez 

Cast: Eva Green Jessica Alba, Jamie Chung, Dennis Haysbert, Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Powers Boothe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Jamie King, Christopher Lloyd, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Meloni, Bruce Wills, Alexa Vega, Marton Csokas


Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller’s “Sin City” graphic novels back to the screen. Weaving together two of Miller’s classic stories with new tales, the town’s most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more notorious inhabitants.

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