Directed By: John Stockwell
Written By: Michael Arlen Ross
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Jeff McEvoy

Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Lucy Ramos, Andrea Leal, Diego Santiago, Agles Steib 

A group of young backpackers’ vacation turns sour when a bus accident leaves them marooned in a remote Brazilian rural area that holds an ominous secret.

This film is basically HOSTEL in Brazil. Even though the violence is brutal here it still doesn’t feel as bad, dark, or disgusting as HOSTEL does if only because this feels more like a big studio copy of it. As it seems more aimed at a worst-case scenario film, where privileged white young Americans are the victims. 

As this film has bigger names or at least more recognizable names and faces. It offers up just as much nudity also. As the film has a libidinous sexual vibe that disappears as soon as the carnage starts. It still feels a bit explosive but from a big studio 

Whereas in HOSTEL, the company is more sophisticated, it seems day by night and messy. Essentially this film is a traveler’s worst nightmare come to life. One of those urban legends you always hear about. Being seduced and then waking up and your body parts missing. As it begins everything seems magical, beautiful, and fun, and then it’s Like the characters wake up to a bad hangover and it is all a nightmare. 

For all this paradise’s Natural wonders there is a price to be paid. Whereas most of the characters/victims are caucasian tourists. Who you do feel sorry for, but also come off as annoying ugly Americans and foreigners at times. So while they don’t deserve what they get you do feel they should have some comeuppance. At least they aren’t treated like saints even though the stars Josh Duhamel and Olivia Wilde come off as the nicest and most decent.

This was Duhmel’s first starring role based on his shoulders. Though in the advertising he is really downplayed. 

The villain being caucasian also helps show that he is racist and also that he treats all the dark-skinned people who work for him horribly and like slaves. Even as he tries to make them feel like they are in a partnership.

Even though generally as is life the islanders are being taken advantage of by the tourists and the evil surgeon. But that is their way of making a living also is to entertain them to a degree. Which is the true horror. 

The film is entertaining but instantly forgettable. The island paradise and cast are nice to look at but that is about it as the rest of the film is fairly predictable. 

The only general shock to be had is how violent it gets for a mass audience studio film. Though at least It’s not gratuitous though it does feel liek it is trying hard to have an edge 

Grade: C


Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: Billy Ray
Based Upon the article “American Nightmare: The Ballad Of Richard Jewell” By: Marie Brenner 
Based Upon The Book “The Suspect” By: Kent Alexander & Kevin Salwen 
Cinematography: Yves Belanger 
Editor: Joel Cox 

Cast: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, Ian Gomez, Nina Arianda, Mike Pniewski 

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, security guard Richard Jewell discovers a suspicious backpack under a bench in Centennial Park. With little time to spare, he helps to evacuate the area until the incendiary device inside the bag explodes. Hailed as a hero who saved lives, Jewell’s own life starts to unravel when the FBI names him the prime suspect in the bombing.

A film about a man who at first was a national hero than a suspect. Shows how fast admiration can turn on a person.

While this film is an interesting investigation and feels stronger than a television movie. It still feels like the handiwork of one just with better talent. It oddly also feels rushed throughout.

What saves the film is the tremendous cast. Especially Paul Walter Hauser in a more dramatic role than the comedic ones we are used to. This is the time where someone is more seen as a character actor. Gets a chance to not only star in a film but show they have the right stuff to play a lead in the movie.

This is a film about a man who has been raised to believe in the American dream. Only for it to turn its back on him and despite it all. While he is seen increasingly as a suspect and mistreated he still believes in due process and only seems to help incriminate himself. 

Olivia Wilde is over the top in the role as a reporter who seems out to ruin Richard Jewell. In her performance, she feels like she came from another movie. The film also treats her character as misogynistic. As she seems to use sex and sex appeal to get her stories more than research and talent. 

She also stands out, as most of the film and the characters come off as subdued and she comes off like a shining bright light comparatively. 

The film Is at least fright forward in its telling there is no fat here. It gets straight to the point. 

Again Paul Walter Hauser gives a strong performance that could be seen as both comedic as Dramatic. as this is a sad character whose world falls around him but still believes in law and order despite it all. He has bravado but proves to be quite delicate. Not necessarily likable especially these days but quite identifiable. 

As this is a character who could easily come off as slow or more comedic but Hauser gives him heart and a presence. Where he deserves more respect than most give him. 

Sam Rockwell’s character is a kind of frustrated standoffish type lawyer,  but believes in Richard and ends up being his closest and true ally. Even if he seems ornery or distrusting most times. 

The film feels like a thorough truthful docudrama. As there is little grandstanding. No overly dramatic scenes though based on a true story there is an end but not necessarily any closure or satisfying nature or narrative.

The film gives Jon Hamm’s character motivation to basically try to hide his leaking of info and trying to quickly close the case by trying to find a patsy who fit the Bill and to be a hero himself by solving the case as this crime happened on his watch.

This comes across as Another story of the people of the Midwest for director Clint Eastwood. Where the characters are more salt of the earth and face their destiny abs have to deal with the aftermath. As this film is a dramatization of a more recent evening witch hunt. Where the film villainized the press as the government to a degree. Showing the common man no matter how overzealous to be a pawn rather than letting them live their lives naturally and non-corrupt.

It also shows Eastwood’s passion to show a dying Americana from which he believes in and comes. Though his politics are old school and tricky. He’s not above showing the atrocities of those in power, but also like John Ford with his wearers where they showed the disappearing plains and modernization taking over. Eastwood does the same only with it seems American culture and values 

Grade: B-


Directed By: Jon Favreau 
Written By: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby 
Story By: Steve Oedekerk, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby 
Based On The Graphic Novel By: Scott Mitchell Rosenberg 
Cinematography By: Matthew Labitque 
Editor: Dan Lebantal, Jim May 

Cast: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano, Adam Beach, Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell, Abigail Spencer, Ana de la reguera, Toby Huss, David Carradine, Walton Goggins

The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. It’s a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been 

This film you get exactly what you would expect from the title. A fun filled action extravaganza. That delivers the thrills. It is the very definition of a popcorn movie. It’s big loud and dumb and passes the time in a entertaining way. Impressive considering how much of a disaster it could have ended up being. It’s competently directed. Instead of feeling like it is based on a popular graphic novel. The film plays out instead more like a video game adaptation with familiar clichéd stories of proving yourself.

The effects certainly make the film lead that way and half the time it feels like you are playing a video game while watching it. The film feels overblown and just a genre mash-up with little other reason for its creation or to exist.

Strangely for such a big extravaganza it also oddly feels rushed.

This is the first time I have really seen Daniel Craig as a true lead and action star. He brings the Tall dark and quiet qualities that the led character of this film needs. He reminds you of a later day Steve McQueen. Craig is Mysterious dangerous and moral to a point.

Harrison Ford is nice to see giving a supporting performance. Rather then a lead one. It gives him a chance to play a character. Not an icon or heroic lead. It gives him more of a flavor then the vanilla he usually plays.  Olivia Wilde while very beautiful and nice to look at has a role that makes no sense.

Paul Dano is a good actor. Who I am starting to get annoyed with always playing the dweeb characters. Certain actors have their schtick when playing characters. As this seems to be his in particular usually in big-budget movie supporting roles. While he has an odd look, He is certainly better then the roles he plays. look at TAKING LIVES he is dangerous in. In THERE WILL BE BLOOD he holds his own against Daniel Day-Lewis of all people.  

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Directed By: David Dobkin
Written By: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Cinematography: Eric Edwards
Editor: Lee Haxall & Greg Hayden 

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Craig Bierko, Alan Arkin, Gregory Itzen, Mircea Monroe, Fred Stoller 

Dave is a married man with three kids and a loving wife, and Mitch is a single man who is at the prime of his sexual life. One fateful night while Mitch and Dave are peeing in a fountain, lightning strikes and they switch bodies.

Continue reading “THE CHANGE-UP (2011)”