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Bullhead (2012) review
02/18/12 at 01:56 PM by EvilButters
Bullhead is the story of Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenaerts) a cattle farmer. He along with his business partners inject their cows with steroids and hormones to achieve the results they desire. The problem is the only thing Jacky injects more than his cows is himself as he's got some sort of chemical compound coursing through his veins at all times. Things begin to go south when Jacky makes a deal to distribute his cows to a well-known yet crooked meat trader. A federal agent is killed amongst their negotiations as Jacky is dragged into the investigation and his disturbing past comes bubbling to the surface.

Matthias Schoenaerts' performance is the first thing that will win you over. The reason why he shoots up so frequently along with what he injects himself with has this really breathtaking explanation. Schoenaerts has a short fuse the entire film and you never know when he's going to explode. That's the beauty of his performance. He's so dangerous yet you can't help but feel sympathy for the guy. Schoenaerts is a ferocious powerhouse that chews you up and spits you out like the most devastating hurricane imaginable.

Bullhead features some incredibly impressive cinematography. Belgium has never looked so beautiful. Those shots of the sky and the clouds that populate every inch of it and those lush moments of taking in the countryside speak volumes. Something as simple as grass blowing in the wind is made to look like this grand accomplishment thanks to how the film was shot. It was interesting to see characters that were out of frame become out of focus and or blurred in some way; whether they were approaching somebody in frame or walking away. It was a masterful touch.

The Belgian drama has a unique sense of perspective, as well. The dizzying staircase sequence near the end of the film is the best example. It kind of goes hand in hand with the cinematography though; a brilliant looking film is even better with distinguishing shots. Speaking of unique, the entire film is one of the more original experiences to grace the silver screen in quite some time. Bullhead does draw comparisons to films like Drive and even Bronson, but the mafia and mobster kind of storyline is presented in this rough, grainy, meaty, and intense package that hasn’t been done before. Bronson is actually a really great comparison. Matthias Schoenaerts put on 59 pounds of muscle for Bullhead and Tom Hardy put on 42 pounds of muscle for Bronson. While the two films are almost nothing alike when it comes to their storylines, they're extremely similar at their core.

Bullhead is an extremely intense piece of cinema that includes a fairly bloody and hard hitting elevator sequence that rivals that infamous scene from Drive. With an incredible performance from Matthias Schoenaerts, gorgeous camera work, and a huge injection of originality, Bullhead should not be missed by anyone especially those who are looking for something different when it comes to movies. This comes highly recommended for those who enjoyed Animal Kingdom, A Prophet, Drive, and/or Bronson.

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Tags: Bullhead, review, movies, Houston, crime, drama
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Young Adult (2011) review
12/16/11 at 11:11 AM by EvilButters
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have been kind of hit or miss for me or at least that's what I like to think. I didn't enjoy Juno nearly as much as everyone else seemed to while Jennifer's Body, while not great, may have been better received on my end than what most give it credit for mostly because I have such a soft spot for horror. On the other hand though, Up in the Air was fairly fantastic all around. With that said, the main thing attracting me to Young Adult was the fact that Patton Oswalt had a rather big supporting role. Despite the fact that Charlize Theron has done so many things since and has won an Oscar, films like The Astronaut's Wife and The Devil's Advocate only come to mind whenever she's featured in anything which isn't flattering at all. So there was kind of this sense of dread going into Young Adult, but was it justified? The short answer is no, but it doesn't completely blow you away either.

There was an Entertainment Weekly article a few weeks ago where Theron said she aimed to not only be a mean-spirited individual, but also easily relatable as well. That's the trickiest part with a character like this. Anyone can be cold or act black hearted, but doing that while also displaying qualities that make you feel sorry for them and/or feel like something you went through in your life is something special. Imagining anyone else in this role is practically impossible, as well. The entire premise seems to be built around Theron. She seems to be playing herself or at least a slightly exaggerated version of how she is in real life. That more than likely contributes to the movie working as well as it does.

One of the other great things about the movie is that it's mostly unexpected. Young adult fiction writer Mavis Gary (Theron) currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota but decides to return to her small hometown of Mercury after receiving an email from her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) welcoming his first child into the world. Mavis somehow thinks that her and Buddy are meant to be together and despite Buddy being happily married and having a daughter that he loves dearly, Mavis thinks they can work past that to make things right between them. The outcome of the events is probably pretty predictable, but the relationships in between unfold in a way that you probably don't see coming. I'm mostly referring to Mavis and Matt Freehauf's (Patton Oswalt) friendship as it goes in a direction that feels far too human for such a superficial individual like Mavis. Oswalt also seems to be playing an exaggerated version of himself as well as he makes full use of his geekiness. The Pixies shirt was also a nice touch. But Young Adult is mostly entertaining due to the way it feels genuine despite revolving around somebody who is as harsh and selfish as Mavis Gray is.

Young Adult is very dark and downright bleak at times, but that's one of its most distinguishing traits. You'll more than likely find something to relate to in Mavis Gray whether it was you who was the popular kid in school, are just as depressed as she is, think you may be an alcoholic, or you're a writer, Mavis isn't really in the right frame of mind and maybe that's the most relatable part of her character. Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt share a kind of twisted chemistry that involves some fairly witty dialogue at times, but is mostly them dragging the other one through the mud with their words, which strangely only illustrates how miserable and similar their two characters are. Young Adult is a very fascinating dark comedy that is laugh out loud funny at times due to its cruelness, but shines thanks to its authenticity.

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Tags: Young Adult, comedy, drama, movie review, Houston, Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt
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Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) review
12/16/11 at 09:52 AM by EvilButters
The fourth paragraph of this review contains some minor spoilers

Mentioning Tom Cruise or the Mission: Impossible movies during a movie conversation with me would be very similar to picking up dirt or sand and throwing it in my face during a fight; even though it's smart and will result in you getting the upper hand it's still dirty and nobody really likes it. Mission: Impossible II is the only part of the franchise I've seen and despite being directed by John Woo is just all kinds of awful. I tend to not like most of Tom Cruise's work though outside of The Last Samurai and Collateral. Ghost Protocol at least had a few redeeming factors; Simon Pegg is usually pretty awesome and Jeremy Renner has been solid in his last few efforts. Not many people can claim they aren't huge fans of the animated films Brad Bird has directed over the years, so they'd have to be interested in seeing his first live-action film. The final result is a very loud movie that only manages to be lukewarm at best.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol starts off really strong. The skyscraper sequences and extravagant action scenes look really amazing on an IMAX screen and the movie is practically all action the first half; you barely have time to breathe. The opening is also probably one of the best executed of the year, as well. Something as simple as the combination of a very long fuse being used in a unique way, that familiar theme music, and an elaborate title sequence somehow make all the difference in the world. The storyline is fairly intricate in its details, but everything seems to add up in an impressive way and the gadgets Ethan and his team use are spectacular. Those moments when they use this amazing technology pretty much make the movie. But somewhere around the time Jeremy Renner's character gets introduced is where things go downhill.

In an Entertainment Weekly article a few weeks back, they went into pretty good length about Mission: Impossible 4. A fairly big deal was placed on Renner's character. "There's more to his character than he first lets on," is what the main point was. But once Agent Brandt (Renner) goes into detail about his past, it's fairly underwhelming and everything remotely connecting him to Ethan Hunt's team is completely contradicted in the ending. So the Agent Brandt character mostly just feels like filler and a waste of time. While the movie does go to great lengths to inject as much action and excitement as humanly possible into its 133 minute running time, there's this part in the middle that's fairly slow in comparison. There's a segment with a suitcase that goes on far longer than it should, Brandt tells his story, Ethan briefly goes solo, and a Russian agent named Sidirov (Vladimir Mashkov) begins tailing Ethan. Then there are the few attempts at humor that just aren't very funny at all and one-liners that are kind of obnoxious.

One of the things that bothered me the most about Mission: Impossible II was the amount of unrealistic stunts that were pulled off and the way action seemed to defy logic. The problem is that same issue is still there two movies later. After seeing Ghost Protocol, I was almost convinced that Tom Cruise couldn't die. Maybe after seventeen years, Cruise decided to show the world he really is Lestat de Lioncourt. In the span of this film, Ethan Hunt is hit by a car, is inside of a car as it is riddled with ongoing gunfire before flipping over and landing in a lake, dives out of a car, barely dodges a car that flips into the air and lands beside him, and survives a 100-meter vertical drop among other things. Most of these don't even faze him other than being out of breath as he tends to just get back up and chase after his suspect again. I know "Impossible" is in the title, but does it have to be the guideline in every action sequence, as well? Lastly, the "blue/glue red/dead" scene is filmed superbly. If you're afraid of heights, I could see this scene possibly getting to you especially in IMAX. But it just seemed like an excuse for Tom Cruise to play Spider-Man. "Oh, nobody's even going to consider me for a superhero film? Well let's just develop some new technology in the next Mission: Impossible to make me feel better!"

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol showed quite a bit of potential early on, drops the ball somewhere in the middle, tries to regain the momentum it lost during its second act, but is never really able to. There is a ridiculous amount of action at the beginning and ending of the film with a rather large segment sandwiched in between that drags quite a bit. The attempts at humor were mostly very groan-worthy. The formula is basically action, action, action, explosions, long boring streak, stupid jokes, lots more action, and a very expected ending. The gadgets and storyline are a lot cleverer than you may anticipate, but then slowly unravel into pretty much what you expect a Tom Cruise movie to be like. While it is very disappointing on one hand, it at least deserves some credit for breaking the mold of cliché action movies. It's as if Brad Bird started writing a letter to Michael Bay that started off like, "You see, Mike? THIS is how you make an action movie both intelligent and fun for audiences," but then realized halfway through that he was basically following in Bay's footsteps, crumpled the letter up, threw it away, and breathed an exasperated sigh before saying to himself, "Oh, nevermind."

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Tags: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, movie review, Houston, action, Tom Cruise
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Puncture (2011) review
09/23/11 at 08:53 AM by EvilButters
Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) and Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen) are best friends and partners at their law firm. They've just stumbled onto an incredible case that could either help them make it big or completely ruin them. Jeffrey Dancort (Marshall Bell) invented a safety syringe that can only be used once and prevents health care workers from accidentally getting infected with dirty needles. The problem is that no hospital in the United States wants to use it even though there are over 800,000 accidental pricks a year. Every lead they have soon becomes a dead end and results in these Houston lawyers banging their heads against the wall in frustration. Mike and Paul are pushed to the limit as this case begins to take its toll on both their friendship and their law firm. Meanwhile, Mike's drug addiction becomes a serious issue; not only for Mike's personal well-being but also as a hazard to him and his partner ever standing a chance of winning this case.

This movie is based on a true story and I don't know if it's because of that that the film is so consuming, but you’re sucked in from the opening scene. Most movies that heavily revolve around the law or the courtroom are usually okay at best since they don't really appeal to my taste, but Puncture is different. There's more weight to the film than the average drama and its message packs a pretty forceful punch. At its roots, it's as if Mike took on this case to save lives. But was it all for his ego? Does he not want to settle because he feels like the courtroom is the only place he really feels like he succeeds? Mike's drug problem adds this whole different world to the entire film. Mike and Paul basically have the lives of thousands of people in their hands and Mike is gambling with his on a daily basis. Whether he'll actually clean himself up and watching to see if Mike and Paul can actually win this case are part of the reason the movie is as mesmerizing as it is.

The solid cast is definitely a plus for the film. Mark Kassen shows a fairly wide range of emotion as he tries to juggle being professional, his wife nearing childbirth, and handling the unorthodox ways of his best friend. Brett Cullen also makes his presence known as Nathaniel Price. He's handling the same case on the opposite end of the table and the ball is essentially in his court, but he seems to spend an awful lot of time getting to know Mike and Paul. Despite just handling business, it's as if he's trying to map out what their next move is. Marshall Bell portrays an extremely driven individual that just wants to see his needles utilized in hospitals across America. But Chris Evans is the lead for a reason. His emotion and range is just incredible. It was almost unbelievable realizing this was the same guy who played Captain America earlier this year, but that's what qualifications for a talented actor should be; the ability to show a wide range of emotions, choosing roles that are vastly different from your previous film, and being unpredictable. Evans accomplished all of these things flawlessly in Puncture.

Certain things about the movie were a bit distracting. Perspective and camera angles were visually appealing and rather dynamic and there were some blurring techniques that were quite great, but scenes where the camera should have been steady weren't. Everything felt shaky at all times. It could have just been the print the theater received, but that doesn't seem very likely. Puncture was also filmed in Houston, which is really cool for people who live in the area. Puncture is getting a limited theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. That doesn't happen very often, so soak that in. Lastly, the conclusion fills you with so many different emotions; hatred and dislike for a certain character, sadness, and a sense of accomplishment. It fits the overall tone of the film superbly and is very satisfying.

Puncture is a captivating drama that is both tense and eloquently acted by its extremely talented cast. It's a constant uphill battle that leaves you trying to catch your breath by the time it's all said and done. Chris Evans is at his absolute best and delivers one of the most engrossing performances of his career. With a sharp script and a rather fascinating story based on true events, Puncture could be one of the best sleeper hits of the year.

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Tags: Puncture, movie review, Houston, drama, Chris Evans, Michael Biehn
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Last Updated: 02/18/12 (30,835 Views)
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