Top 10 Best Movies of 2012

And now for my Top 10 BEST FILMS OF 2012 list. YAAAAAAAAY!! Now please keep in mind – I was unable to see all the great movies of 2012. I haven’t seen “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” as yet (Shame on me, I know) and unfortunately “Django Unchained” isn’t coming out in Trinidad until early next year (THOSE INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS!). Now I am both a Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino fan, and I would’ve loved to place both films in my list. And throughout the following years, I may not fully appreciate one or two of the films currently on my list as much as I do right now. But for this moment, as it stands, these are my 10 favourite films of 2012.

 

                                              BEST FILMS OF 2012

 

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10.  WRECK-IT RALPH –

We start things off with arguably the best animated film of 2012. Disney’s (and not Pixar, mind you) “Wreck-it-Ralph” centers on the title character (a video-game villain) and his quest to become a hero.The film is a visual and emotional joyride, with extraordinary video-game worlds, large doses of humour and heart, and lots of memorable characters (and I do mean, LOTS). And it pays homage to the video games of the 80s and 90s, so if you’re a gamer, you’ll LOVE this movie. But even if you don’t know half of the characters in this film (if you don’t know who Sonic the Hedgehog is, something is clearly wrong with you! I’m just saying), there’s lots to enjoy in this film. Call it the new “Toy Story” or call it the best film about video games. I call it a great movie!

 

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9.  THE RAID: REDEMPTION –

Like last year, I just had to add a foreign-language film to my Best of 2012 list. And no, it’s not an arthouse film, or a sweeping romantic drama that’ll win a bunch of awards next year. It is, however, one of the greatest examples of BADASSERY (that’s a real word….Google it) ever put to celluloid! The story is fairly basic: a 20-man Indonesian police squad is sent to an apartment block in Jakarta to take down a ruthless crime lord named Tama Riyada. But to get to the top floor where Tama resides, the police squad must get past the first 29 blocks, occupied by both residents and Tama’s henchmen. Once the plot is established, the rest of the film is a heart-pounding, gun-toting, ass-kicking, head-busting cinematic experience like no other. It can be argued that the Hollywood sci-fi action film “Dredd” (which was a really decent movie, by the way) “blatantly” stole the plot of “The Raid: Redemption”. But believe me, by the time you start watching this film, you won’t even care. The musical score composed by Linkin Park’s own Mike Shinoda is absolutely BAD-ASS, the action sequences are thrilling, well-paced and superbly directed and the martial-arts sequences are impressively-choreographed, jaw-droppingly brutal and downright fucking awesome! Like most martial-arts films, you won’t get a profound, thoughtful story with “The Raid: Redemption”. There are good guys, there are bad guys, and the good guys have to beat the SHIT out of the bad guys to win and vice versa. That’s all that matters. “The Raid: Redemption” is, by far, one of the best action/martial arts films I’ve seen this year, and it is a definite must-see for the action junkie in most, if not all, of us.

 

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8.  FLIGHT –

Denzel Washington delivers one of his most compelling performances in “Flight”, a film that you WILL be hearing about during the upcoming Oscar season. Here, he plays “Whip” Whitaker, a veteran commercial airlines pilot who miraculously prevents a malfunctioning airplane from nose-diving by flying it upside down. All but a few passengers survived the ordeal, and Whip ends up in the center of media attention. However, it’s revealed that he drank alcohol and snorted cocaine before embarking on the flight. And from there, the film becomes less about the incredible landing of the plane and more about the pilot himself. Denzel’s performance in this film is superb, to say the least. It’s amazing to see him getting fucked up over alcohol and cocaine (even though he tries repeatedly to quit the habits), yet justify his actions by stating that he was able to land the plane regardless of what he ingested. But Denzel plays Whip so sympathetically that you can’t help but feel sorry for him at times, and hope that he will eventually let go of his addictions before it’s too late. With excellent direction from Robert Zemeckis (who hasn’t directed a live-action film in 12 years, by the way) and a strong supporting acting roles from Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood and a scene-stealing John Goodman, “Flight” is a brilliant character study of one man’s road to a new life after cheating death in the air.

 

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7.  LINCOLN  –

If Denzel Washington is on his way to getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, Daniel-Day Lewis will be his main competitor. The veteran British actor delivers a PHENOMENAL performance as the American president who abolished slavery in 1865. And the film itself, directed by Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg, is just as phenomenal. It doesn’t cover his entire life, but instead focuses on the last few months of his life leading to the abolishing of slavery and his tragic murder.  You won’t find an abundance of Civil War battle scenes in this film and more importantly, you won’t find any slave-owning vampires in it either (*COUGH*‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ which ironically came out before ‘Lincoln’*COUGH). Instead, you’ll get great acting from a strong cast including Sally Field (who plays Mrs. Lincoln), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who plays Abe’s son) and Tommy Lee Jones who steals EVERY scene he’s in and delivers some of the film’s most memorable lines of dialogue. If you’re looking for an axe-wielding President who kills vampires for the good of America, then you can waste your time with “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”. However, if you’re looking for a great historical film, with great acting, great directing and a great script, then “Lincoln” is indeed a must-see!

 

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6.  ARGO  –

Ben Affleck’s third directorial effort is every bit as gripping and powerful as it is well-made. Also providing acting duties in this film, Ben re-creates the true story of a CIA operation to “exfiltrate” six Americans trapped in circa-1979 which involved posing as the production crew of a fake science-fiction film entitled “Argo”. Ben shines as Tony Mendez, the mission leader, and his directorial skills never cease to amaze. The supporting cast, from Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin (who also deserves an Academy Award nomination) bring their individual A-game to this film. In the vein of the classic Hollywood thrillers of the 1970s, “Argo” is an engaging,  entertaining and emotional film, and arguably one of the year’s best.

 

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5.  LIFE OF PI  –

A cinematic version of a best-selling novel rumoured to be “un-adaptable”, Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” is a visual spectacle unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. This film tells the story of an Indian boy (“Pi”) and his almost-yearlong ordeal on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean after a devastating storm sinks the ship that he and his family were in. Keeping him company on his adventure is a vicious, and beautifully-designed (of course it’s computer-generated) Bengal tiger. “Life of Pi” is chock-full of phenomenal, awe-inspiring imagery, and it boasts great performances, impressive computer animation and the BEST use of 3D since James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Definitely worth your time and money!

 

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4.  SKYFALL  –

2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films, and director Sam Mendes paid tribute to the greatest secret agent of all time in fine style with the AWESOME “Skyfall”. After the fucking disappointment that was “Quantum of Solace”, expectations were high for the third film starring the first blonde James Bond actor, Daniel Craig. And boy, did this film deliver the goods! The cinematography is brilliant, the acting is terrific, the story and dialogue are well-written, the villain (played by Javier Bardem) is arguably one of of the greatest in Bond movie history, and Daniel Craig reminded me once again why he is one of the best individuals to play Bond. Whether you’re a fan of the old Bond movies or the new, make sure to see “Skyfall”.

 

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3. LOOPER  –

Time travel movies are obviously hard to make. While the concept of traveling forward and back in time is easy to write on paper, the execution of it on film is rather difficult. “Looper” is one of the few science fiction films that presents a thought-provoking (and sometimes, mind-fucking) look at time travel. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe Simmons, an assassin known as a “looper”, whose job is to kill targets sent to the past by a criminal organization who utilize time travel. Without giving too much away, Joe’s next target turns out to be an OLDER version of himself (played by the always bad-ass Bruce Willis).  The film profoundly focuses on the consequences of one’s actions, and how the mistakes of the past can ultimately affect the future – and quite possibly, vice versa. The performances are great (especially from Gordon-Levitt and Willis), the story is compelling and surprisingly emotional, and the stylish direction and clever writing by Rian Johnson are enough to keep the viewer enthralled throughout the entire film. So if you’re looking for a sci-fi action film that entertains and makes you think, then don’t hesitate to check out “Looper”.

 

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2. THE AVENGERS  –

The first of two EXCELLENT superhero films released in 2012, “The Avengers” pulls off a risky tightrope act in which six comic-book characters (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye) join forces to save the world from the villainous Loki (Thor’s adoptive brother), and succeeds on nearly every level. After the groundwork was laid with the earlier Avengers films (“Iron Man”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Iron Man 2”, “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”), director/writer Joss Whedon (of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame and acclaim) weaves a terrifically entertaining film that honestly deserves multiple viewing. ALL the characters get their moment to shine – from Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury to Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk who literally STEALS the fucking film! The story is thoroughly engaging, with great performances by its talented cast (including Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, among others), spectacular visual effects and an overall fun comic-book vibe that’s sure to entertain the most ignorant of viewers. But as much as I loved “The Avengers” – and believe me, I did – it was the following film that won me over. This was the film that made a greater impact on me this year than anything else.

 

 

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COME ON! You know I was just bullshittin’!

 

 

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1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES  –

And here we have my number one favourite film of 2012: Christopher Nolan’s  conclusion to his critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful Dark Knight trilogy. Eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight” (one of my all-time favourite movies), Gotham City is seemingly at peace and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), assuming that Gotham no longer needs the help of his alter ego Batman, goes into hiding. But when a militant megalomaniac named Bane (Tom Hardy) rears his masked face over the citizens of Gotham City, Bruce is forced to don the cape and cowl and defend the very same city that once scorned him. From opening scene to closing, “The Dark Knight Rises” is a cinematic tour de force. The music by Hans Zimmer is nothing short of EPIC, the action sequences are top-notch, the direction by Christopher Nolan is impressive as always, and the acting is outstanding. Christian Bale is convincing as both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and so is Michael Caine as the proverbial voice of reason embodied in his character, Alfred Pennyworth. The supporting cast, like Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, also offer great performances. But the standout character of the film is (GASP!) Tom Hardy as Bane. Even though it’s hard at times to understand a single fucking word he says due to the mask on his face, his fearsome presence, physical prowess and grandiose speeches (he does deliver some of the film’s best lines) makes him a formidable foe for the Dark Knight. Clocking in at almost 3 hours, “The Dark Knight Rises” is far from boring, with a level of emotion and intensity that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire film. Though it’s not the most perfect superhero film ever made, and it falls a bit short from “The Dark Knight”, “The Dark Knight Rises” as a whole is a fulfilling and worthy end to arguably the greatest superhero film trilogy ever made. It’s undoubtedly the best film I’ve seen in 2012, and it comes highly recommended by yours truly.

 

FUN FACT: “The Dark Knight Rises” is the third “film of the year” in a row that stars British actor Tom Hardy, the first two being the 2010 sci-fi thriller “Inception” and the 2011 mixed-martial arts drama “Warrior”.  According to Wikipedia, he’s set to play the lead in 2013’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”, a reboot of the post-apocalyptic action series that made Mel Gibson an international superstar. Who knows? That movie may wind up being my top film of 2013.  Ah well. Time shall soon tell.

 

– Matthew

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Worst Movies of 2012

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for all year. This two-part post is dedicated to the films that inspired me, moved me, made me a little teary-eyed (and then completely deny it by telling myself there was a hair in my eye), pissed me off, made me yell in disbelief and almost made me smash my laptop to pieces. With that being said, I now present to you my top 10 best and worst movies lists of 2012.

 

This post, however, is dedicated to the worst – for they, indeed, shall be first.

 

                                           WORST FILMS OF 2012

 

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10.  JOYFUL NOISE –

Ever been to a  church service, and you sat in front of a lady who belted out each song being sung with an annoyingly high-pitched voice, and her excuse for doing so is “She’s singing for the Lord”? That’s what “Joyful Noise” feels like. The simple story of a choir led by Queen Latifah (fresh out of voicing her mammoth character in “Ice Age: Continental Drift”) and Dolly Parton (fresh out of a wax museum) trying to win a national gospel competition is bogged down by a childish rivalry between the two, boring sub-plots like the interracial relationship between Latifah’s daughter (played by Keke Palmer – the film’s saving grace) and Parton’s granddaughter (played idiotically by Broadway star Jeremy Jordan), and cliches that you’ve seen millions of times in films about talented teenagers and competitions (*COUGH*the Step Up franchise*COUGH). There’s periodic song numbers in the film – most of them unevenly placed. You will facepalm yourself so hard when you see and hear Jeremy’s “gospel” version of Usher’s “Yeah” (I shit you not!) and you will scream in agony when you hear arguably the WORST song from a Hollywood movie for 2012: Dolly Parton’s mushy, sickeningly sweet “From Here to the Moon and Back”. The script is poorly written, the dialogue is cringe-worthy (“RESPECT MY SNORING!” says Latifah in one scene), and the acting is reminiscent of a badly-made TV movie. I’m looking at you, Lifetime! Sitting through 4 hours of church is worth more than sitting through the 2 hours it takes for “Joyful Noise” to end. Now can I get an AMEN?!

 

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9.  ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT –

“OH NO, HE DIDN’T!” Oh yes, I surely did! I just had to include an animated film to this list, and “Ice Age: Continental Drift”, one of the most disappointing sequels of 2012, comes in at Number 9. The Ice Age franchise is thawed out of cryogenic slumber yet again, and what I received was a recycled, forgettable story (I don’t even remember what the hell this movie was about), irritating characters (Wanda Sykes as Sid’s ANNOYING Granny comes to mind, and its questionable cast (Drake and Nicki Minaj ….yes, THE Drake and Nicki Minaj…. play MAMMOTHS in the film! WTF?!!). The visuals alone will keep kids bug-eyed and alert from start to end, and the story itself will bore the fuck out of anyone over the age of 12 years old (like I was when I saw it). “Ice Age 4” had so much potential of becoming an actual family movie that BOTH kids and parents can enjoy. But if the parents can’t help but look at their watches instead of the screen, what’s the point? Sticking your tongue into a frozen pole is way more entertaining than sitting through this visual exercise in potty training. Unless you’re a true fan of “Ice Age”, more particularly the further adventures of Scrat, skip this shit!

 

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8.  A THOUSAND WORDS –

Recently, in tribute to Eddie Murphy’s critical and commercial dud ‘A Thousand Words”, I wrote an explicit, brutally-honest thousand-word review on how the film failed on every single level – from story to acting to comic timing to actual comedy. I had fun writing that review, but why waste time repeating myself – and stating the obvious? So I’ll spare you the misery, and present to you (non-explicitly) TEN WORDS ON “A THOUSAND WORDS”‘

 

“Choose “Lincoln”. Don’t choose “A Thousand Words”. Watch movies responsibly”

 

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7. GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE  –

What’s a Worst Films list without good ol’ Nicolas Cage? Last year, he made it to my Worst Films of the Year list with the 3D action/fantasy/horror/whatchamacallit “Drive Angry” (which apparently is exactly what many moviegoers did after they wasted their money on that piece of shit). In 2012, Nick Cage gave us “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, the unneeded sequel to the disappointing 2007 film “Ghost Rider”. Here, our hero, Johnny Blaze (played by Cage), tries to save a boy from being sacrificed by the Devil in order to unleash the Antichrist into the world….or something like that.  The directing duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who gave us the high-octane, hyper-stylized Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage, gives us blatantly fake action scenes, undeveloped characters and monotonous visual effects. And Nicolas Cage….well, what did you expect from Nicolas Cage at this stage in his acting career? Superhero movies don’t get any worse than “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”. You can believe that!

 

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6. RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION –

The next film in this already-dying franchise should be titled “Resident Evil: CONCLUSION”. I won’t be surprised if millions of moviegoers rush to the nearest movie theater to see it. I guarantee it’ll be the “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2” of 2013. With that being said, “Resident Evil: Retribution” gives us the same shit from the previous four films, and nothing more. The story is boring and uninspired, the acting is flat and effortless, and the action scenes look and feel like something out of a cartoon. In short, stick to “Resident Evil 6” (the game, that is) and avoid this movie at all costs.

 

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5. UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING  –

What happens when you create a story with enough history and exposition to last three films, only to realize that you have no clue as to what direction the story is going? I can safely assume this is the main problem with “Underworld: Awakening”, the majestically disappointing fourth film in the the fan-favourite movie franchise. What could have been a great continuation into the adventures of the vampire Selene (played once again by Kate Beckinsale) turned out to be a terrible, poorly-executed attempt at action/horror film-making. You do not give a rat’s ass about the story or the characters in the story, not even Selene. And similar to “Resident Evil: Inquisition”…oops, I mean “Retribution”, the story feels like a live-action video game, complete with levels, bosses and one-dimensional characters. “Underworld: Regurgitating”….oops, I mean “Awakening” is a slap to the face of anyone who appreciated the first three films, an insult to anyone seeking enjoyment from an action-horror film and a total fucking waste of time in general.

 

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4. TAKEN 2 –

“I don’t know if Olivier Megaton….or Megatron….is actually your real name. Sounds like a fucking French Transformer or something. Megaton…. MEGATRON. Anyway, I don’t know why you were hired to direct a sequel to a film that didn’t NEED a sequel. And if you’re looking for positive feedback, you won’t get any from me. Now, what I have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a year and a half of film reviews. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you reimburse me the money I wasted on “Taken 2″, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you”

Need I say more?

 

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3. LIZ & DICK –

Yes, I know! It’s not a Hollywood film. But it is about the love affair between Hollywood legends Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And it is a Lifetime movie, and a PUTRID one at that! And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even watch the Lifetime Channel! Starring America’s ‘sweetheart’ Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor (the logic behind that is BAFFLING) and Grant Bowler as Richard Burton, “Liz & Dick” boasts horrendous acting, corny dialogue, cheesy music, a badly-written story, and a lack of proper make-up artistry (Lindsay and Grant look the same as years go by in the film. The logic behind that is also BAFFLING). The film is every bit as pointless and talentless as the actress standing in the poster. While it may end up becoming a cult classic in due time by fans of movies that are so bad they’re good (yes, there are movies like that, folks!), “Liz & Dick” is yet another nail in the coffin of Lindsay Lohan’s career. But fuck it! At least we’ll always have “Mean Girls”.

 

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2. THAT’S MY BOY –

It’s a 2012 film starring Adam Sandler. What more do you want me to say?

 

Which leads me to my NUMBER ONE pick for WORST FILM of 2012.

 
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1. PIRANHA 3DD  –

No other film this year infuriated me more than “Piranha 3DD”. To the untrained eye, it’s easy to nitpick this movie. I mean, look at the fucking title! But to me, personally, I felt offended – and betrayed. I will unashamedly admit that I was a HUGE fan of the 2010″Piranha 3D” film.  Yes, it was gory and sleazy – but honestly what did you expect from a film about horny Spring Breakers getting slaughtered by killer fish? But most importantly, it was highly entertaining, never took itself too seriously (which is good for a horror comedy – which is what the film was), and it was fucking HILARIOUS! Think of it as the best (for being intentionally funny and entertaining) SyFy Original Movie ever made. However, “Piranha 3DD” felt more like a shitty, intentionally terrible…and dare I say typical …SyFy Original Movie. The story, which sets the action in a water park instead of the open beach, is ridiculous to say the least. The acting talents of Danielle Panabaker and Ving Rhames, among others, are wasted. Cameos by washed-up actors like Gary Busey and David Hasselhoff are ineffective and unfunny. Seeing the pot belly of Hasselhoff as he runs to the theme song of his signature TV series “Baywatch” is painful to watch. The piranha themselves look fake and badly rendered, and the death scenes lack the visceral glee and over-the-top humour of the original film. For example, after having sex, a guy ends up with a piranha on his dick. Am I supposed to laugh my ass off when I see him chop it off? Hell fucking no!  Ultimately, “Piranha 3DD” was a piss-poor attempt to re-capture the spirit that made “Piranha 3D” such a hit with both moviegoers and critics. After seeing the film for the first and only time, I was so pissed off that I wrote a hate-filled review/rant which I posted only a few hours later. And I know that I’ll regret seeing this film for years, even decades, to come. “Piranha 3DD”, you’re officially the WORST film I’ve seen in 2012. Now take a bow.

 

– Matthew

Top 10 Best Hip Hop Albums of 2012

It’s that time again. kids. Time for me to look back and count down the albums that re-affirmed my faith in the musical art form known as hip hop. Like last year, I’ve included some mixtapes into my list, not because they’re free, but because they’re both musically and lyrically superior than some mainstream and commercial albums being lauded by music critics and bloggers at this moment. And like last year, a mixtape made it to Number 1. DUM DUM DUMMMMMMM!!!

 

In retrospect, 2012 was an eventful year for hip hop music and hip hop artistes. Veteran producer, rapper and Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA lived his childhood dream with his first directorial feature, the martial-arts film “of sorts” – “The Man with the Iron Fists”, which spawned a really impressive soundtrack album. A HOLOGRAM of the late, great Tupac Shakur made an appearance at Coachella 2012. Kanye West came out with one of the year’s most infectious songs (“Mercy”) featuring Pusha T, Big Sean (who’s currently blowing the fuck up) and 2 Chainz formerly known as Tity Boi (a rapper I have yet to appreciate….and comprehend). And speaking of 2 Chainz formerly known as Tity Boi, thanks to songs like “Birthday Cake” featuring Kanye West and “I Luv Dem Strippers” featuring the girl your girlfriend loves to hate (if you’re a guy, of course), Nicki Minaj, he landed himself into my Top 5 list of rappers that I “DON’T LIKE” (if I may quote Chief Keef) which includes…..Chief Keef, of course; Future; French Montana and Trinidad James (yeah, I said it….and I’m Trinidadian). But I digress.

 

As before, I’ve listened to a lot of albums this year, so if your favourite album(s) didn’t make it on this list, it’s due to one of five reasons (two more than last year, I might add):

(a) I haven’t listened to it yet due to lack of time;

(b) I heard it but didn’t really like it at all;

(c) I heard it once and liked it – then I heard it again and didn’t like it;

(d) I know that I’ll hate it, so I simply didn’t listen to the fucking album!

(e) This is a HIP-HOP list, so please don’t ask me why Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange”  or Fun.’s “Some Nights” (great albums, by the way) aren’t on it.

And now, without further ado, I present to you a list of the BEST albums and mixtapes that constitute what I firmly believe is REAL hip hop – strongly recommended by yours truly. Let’s begin!

 

10. ACTION BRONSON & PARTY SUPPLIES – BLUE CHIPS

You’re probably asking yourself: Wasn’t Action Bronson the name of a 1980s action movie starring the guy who played Apollo Creed in “Rocky” 1 through 4?  By then, you’ll probably hear the sound of crickets. Actually, Action Bronson (not to be confused with “Action Jackson” starring Carl Weathers) is the moniker of an Albanian-born rapper currently making his presence known in the East Coast hip hop scene. Upon first listen to any of Action Bronson’s mixtapes, you’ll realize that his voice and intricate wordplay resembles that of Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah. But don’t worry. He’s not trying to be Ghostface. He’s simply trying to be himself.  Anyhoo, with dope-as-fuck beats by Party Supplies, Action Bronson lyrically kicks ass in “Blue Chips”. His rhymes range from razor-sharp and complex to witty and vulgar. The freestyle aspect of his style is evident in some of the mixtape’s shorter tracks, making the project feel more like a mixtape (which it is…duhhh) than a possible studio album. But that’s what Action Bronson and Party Supplies are going for at the end of the day. It’s an impressive demonstration of the hunger and talent of Action Bronson, and an example of the magic made when a rapper and a producer join forces. And it’s a free mixtape, so download this shit already! And make sure to check out his online cooking show: “Action in the Kitchen”….or else he’ll go Rocky on your ass!

 

 

9. LUPE FIASCO – FOOD AND LIQUOR II: THE GREAT AMERICAN RAP ALBUM, PART 1

Back in 2004, Chicago-born rapper Lupe Fiasco released his first album “Food and Liquor” (one of my all-time favourite albums) to critical and commercial praise. On it, Lupe displayed a lyrical style full of complex lyrics and usage of metaphors. How times have changed. Gone is the robot he sang about on “Daydreamin'” and the passion for skateboarding he expressed in the excellent “Kick, Push”. Now, we have an older, wiser and, dare I say, angrier Lupe in his long-awaited album “Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Part 1”. Long album name and black album cover aside, this is a return to form for Lupe after the commercially-diluted “Lasers”. The metaphors that made him a legend have finally returned, as Lupe speaks on politics, lack of positivity in hip hop music and the uplifting of African Americans, among many other things. While it’s far from the greatest Lupe Fiasco album of all time (due to a few missteps), “Food and Liquor II” still stands as a solid effort by one of Chicago’s greatest emcees. And it also spawned one of the most intelligent rap songs of 2012 (“Bitch Bad”) so yeah, this album is definitely worth listening to!

 

 

8. APOLLO BROWN & O.C. – TROPHIES

Trick question: What’s the name of the song/instrumental used in the second freestyle battle in Eminem’s “8 Mile” in which Eminem famously “choked”? Answer: “Time’s Up” by O.C.  The standout track in O.C.’s first album “Word….Life” released in 1994, “Time’s Up” demonstrated the lyrical prowess of arguably one of the most underrated New York M.C.’s in rap history. And in “Trophies”, O.C. re-emerges from a long hiatus to deliver one of his greatest works.  Producer Apollo Brown (who joined forces with rapper Journalist 103 to form the duo of “The Left” and release one of 2010’s best rap albums – in my honest opinion – “Gas Mask”) creates beats made of loops of soul music and boom-bap hip hop drum patterns. Apollo Brown and O.C. join forces here to create magic (See what I told you earlier? Magic between a rapper and producer? Take notes, people) on this album with beats that’ll have you nodding your head (not to sleep) from start to end, and deep, truthful lyricism that you’d expect from a man who’ve experienced the ups and downs of a nearly-20-year old rap career. If you’re a fan of old-school hip hop, or if you’re on the lookout for the next big hip hop producer, then look no further than “Trophies”. My favourite track on the album is posted below, so make sure to give it a listen.

 

 

7. APOLLO BROWN & GUILTY SIMPSON – DICE GAME

WHAT THE FUCK?! Another Apollo Brown album?! Yes, it is ANOTHER Apollo Brown collaboration, and one which, ironically, I listened to before “Trophies”. I was so impressed by “Dice Game” that I sought out “Trophies” immediately afterwards. If Apollo’s previous album had him working with O.C, then this one had him collaborating with O.J. Simpson. Just kidding. It’s Guilty Simpson (one of the most striking hip hop monikers ever), a Detroit rapper who caught my ear after hearing him on one of my favourite albums of last year –  “Random Axe” (the name of a super-group consisting of New York rapper Sean Price, Detroit-based producer/rapper Black Milk and Guilty). While he displayed his lyrical dexterity on “Random Axe”, Guilty Simpson shows that he can also rap about specific topics like sex (“Let’s Play”), heartbreak (“Dear Jane”) and broken families (the thoughtful “Change”) with ease and skill. But the main focus on this album is himself, and his bittersweet journey as a hip hop artiste. The best of these tracks (posted below) demonstrates the combination of Apollo Brown’s soulful, boom-bap-like beats with Guilty Simpson’s seasoned lyricism. Some may prefer “Trophies” over “Dice Game” since O.C. has been in the game for years compared to Guilty Simpson, but both stand as great albums from one of the best hip hop producers today. I just happened to catch this one first, so that’s why it’s at Number 7. So there! Now check out this track, then go get the album already! Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

 

 

6. DEE-1 – THE FOCUS TAPE

After releasing “I Hope They Hear Me, Vol. 2” (another favourite from 2011), New Orleans’ own Dee-1 began work on his next project “The Focus Tape”. Now, my expectations were extremely high with this one. I was always impressed with Dee-1’s intelligent, explicit-free lyricism (a rarity in hip hop music) and the sincere, positive vibe that he exudes (another rarity) from his character. In “The Focus Tape”, he delivers both – as well as the mindset as a rapper seeking to make his name known in the rap world. Like the title suggests, Dee-1 is FOCUSED on this album. His lyricism and determination have stepped up considerably from his last project. Also, his songs both express his hunger and will to achieve his dreams, and help to inspire his listeners to do the same. Assisted by veteran New Orleans producer Mannie Fresh (who provides the album’s spoken interludes), “The Focus Tape” is serious and heartfelt at some times, and witty and energetic in others. With a 78-minute running time, the mixtape feels a little too long and bloated in some instances. Some of the collaborations (with the exception of the track I added below) fall short –  unfortunately, and a few songs (I won’t name which ones) could have been removed (or included as bonus tracks) to make the mixtape more cohesive. But regardless of its flaws, “The Focus Tape” is an ambitious project from Dee-1 that’s bound to inspire and entertain even the most jaded of listeners.

 

 

5. DA FACE & MECASMIASTIC – BUH WAIS DIS

In a year bombarded with hip hop choruses delivered by rappers clearly running out of breath (Rick Ross’ “Deez n**gaz won’t hold me back”(x4), “Deez hoes won’t hold me back”(x4) comes to mind), one chorus united the Trinbagonian YouTube nation (of which I am proud to be a part of). Yes, the chorus to Mecasmiastic and Da Face’s “Cheese Pie and Pack Juice”, a Trinbagonian parody of Driicky Graham’s club banger “Snapbacks and Tattoos”, had us singing, nodding our heads and smiling ridiculously from individual ear to ear. And the song itself was a humourous and clever interpolation of the original “Snapbacks” song, as our heroes talk about their love for cheese pie and the pressure in finding a vendor who sells the best-tasting ones. Listening to “Buh Wais Dis” (or, translated in formal English, “But what is This?”) the first time, I had hoped that it would deliver a lot more than Trini parody songs. What I got was a highly-entertaining mixtape that delivered sharp, witty lyricism, a banging beat selection and an authentic Trinbagonian vibe that resonates throughout. Topics range from alcohol (the infectious “Rum”) and getting paid (“Money eh no problem” – one of the mixtape’s standout tracks) to public transportation (“Ridin’ in a Maxi”) and politics (Da Face’s “Dear Kamla”). Overall, “Buh Wais Dis” is a pure example of Trinbagonian hip hop done right. Whether you’re a Trinidadian, or Tobagonian, or you live outside of Trinidad and you’re looking for something other than American hip hop, then give this mixtape a listen. And it’s definitely worth the download, so…ummm…yeah, go get it!

 

 

4. KILLER MIKE – R.A.P. MUSIC

Take one of the hardest Southern rappers in the game and put him in a studio with an East Coast producer/rapper whose style is clearly out of this world (literally) and you have Number 4 on my Top 10 Hip Hop Albums of 2012 list. At first glance, “R.A.P. Music” (R.A.P. being an acronym for Rebellious Angry People) seems like an odd pairing between Atlanta’s own Killer Mike and Brooklyn’s own El-P. And it is. Killer Mike’s raw, unapologetic, politically-charged and ghetto-representing lyricism is matched with El-P’s loud, bombastic, space-age, electronic instrumentals that made him a legend in underground hip hop. And the result is fucking EPIC! From the opening track “Big Beast” (see video below – it’s one of the craziest (in a funnily twisted way), and best videos you’ll see this year – trust me!) to the closing title track, “R.A.P. Music” is an all-out attack on the bullshit masquerading as actual “rap music”. El-P’s beats grab hold of the listener’s brain, as Killer Mike aims for his/her throat. Mike speaks on themes like politics (“Reagan”, one of the most powerful hip hop songs of 2012), religion (“Ghetto Gospel”) and growing up as an outsider (“Willie Burke Sherwood”) with such brutal honesty and lyrical skill, that you will be reminded why he stands tall int the Southern hip hop arena. This is the final rapper/producer collaboration on my list, and undoubtedly the best you’ll ever hear this year. Definitely worth checking out.

 

 

3. AB-SOUL – #controlsystem

Top Dawg Entertainment has been gaining prominence for the past couple of years, more particularly with the critical success of Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar’s project “Section .80” (another favourite of mine from last year). TDE’s Black Hippy crew (consisting of Kendrick, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul) were dubbed the N.W.A. of the new decade, even though each artiste wanted to be looked at as an individual and not as part of a collective. After the release of Schoolboy Q’s “Habits and Contradictions” early this year, Ab-Soul released his sophomore effort right after. From then, bloggers, music critics and rap aficionados agreed with the following agreement: AB-SOUL IS THE SHIT!! And I mean that in a good way. From his rhymes to his delivery, Ab-Soul brings his A-game to #controlsystem. He touches on a variety of topics, like gang unification in the haunting “Terrorist Threats” featuring Danny Brown, the joy of smoking weed in “Mixed Emotions”, gender promiscuity in “Double Standards” and the gut-wrenching true story of Ab-Soul’s relationship with TDE vocalist Alori Joh (who passed away before the album’s release) in “The Book of Soul”. His lyrics aren’t as dense as Kendrick’s, scarily funny as Schoolboy or rugged as Jay Rock, but they hit hard regardless, and stay with you for days after you’ve heard them. #controlsystem is, hands down, one of the best West Coast rap albums I’ve heard in a long while, and is a definite must-have for serious hip hop fans. Oh, and did I mention it has arguably one of the best posse cuts ever fucking made?! Well, now I’ve mentioned it. Check out the video, and tell me if I’m wrong!

 

 

2. KENDRICK LAMAR – good kid, m.A.A.d city

Now wait a minute! Wait just a goddamned minute! I know what you’re thinking. How DARE I put “good kid, m.A.A.d city”, the album that nearly every music website, music blog and online magazine (that I’ve researched before doing this list) have placed as No. 1 in their “Best Hip Hop Albums of 2012” lists, as NUMBER TWO? I could answer this question simply by saying: “It’s my fucking list”. But to be quite honest, it was truly hard to decide whether I should place this album as number one (just because everybody says it’s the GREATEST rap album of 2012) or not. And believe me, I REALLY enjoyed this album. “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is primarily a concept album that tells the story of Kendrick Lamar’s earlier years of life, and his symbolic search for himself, on the mean streets of Compton. He raps about sexual attraction (the atmospheric “Sherane”), peer pressure from his gang-banging homies (the BRILLIANT “The Art of Peer Pressure”), the allure of alcohol (the infectious “Swimming Pools (Drank)”) and the pressures of growing up as a ‘good’ kid (the two-parter “good kid” and “m.A.A.d city” featuring the where-the-fuck-you-been-at gangsta rapper MC Eiht). The beats are moody (depending on the song and subject matter), Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics are well-though-of, well-written and well-delivered, and the regular transitions between song and story (with periodic interludes of dialogue which add to the plot) work effectively. With its personal first-person narrative of inner-city life, comparisons have been rightfully made to Nas’ timeless first album “Illmatic”. And in time, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” will be considered to be one of the greatest hip hop albums of this decade. And it has become one of my favourite albums of this and any year. But for me, personally, one album – or should I say one mixtape, stood out a lot more. DUM DUM DUMMMMMMM!!!
But if you need to remind yourself of the awesomeness that is Kendrick Lamar, here’s the video to his standout track of 2012. At least you can say I’m a generous man.

 

 

1. JOEY BADA$$ – 1999

So that’s what I do ,
Became an MC master
Since then its been a disaster for you and your favourite rapper
Go ahead ask ’em ” Who is Joey Bad?”
watch them grab some asthma
Damn it’s so sad, he post the chat up
‘Cause he know he’d rather the back up
Then to admit the kid is hotter than magma

– Joey Bada$$: “Waves”

 

Who is Joey Bada$$, you ask? Well, he’s a 17-year old New York rapper (yes, I said it….SEVENTEEN) who seeks to place himself among the pantheon of East Coast rap icons while paying tribute to the style, sound and era that they’ve become synonymous with. With his debut “1999”, Joey starts off on a strong start. With the help of Progressive Era (or Pro Era for short), a collective of young, talented MCs along with producer/rapper Chuck Strangers, Joey Bada$$ takes his listener back to a period of golden-age rap music when lyrics resonated just as much (or even more) than the music. Original beats (like the laid-back “Waves” to the boom-bap inspired “FromdaTomb” produced by Chuck Strangers) and past beats from legendary producers like MF Doom and Lord Finesse) create a musical tapestry that pays homage to 1990s hip hop. And in case you were wondering, Joey Bada$$ can fucking rap! He approaches the mike with confidence and wisdom beyond his years, delivering sharp and surprisingly dense lyricism for such a young man. The other members of the Pro Era crew, and a big-ass crew at that, offer impressive collaborative efforts throughout the mixtape. From start to finish, “1999” delivers great music, memorable lyrics and retrospective production. And speaking of “finish”, the mixtape’s final track, the superb 12-minute posse cut “Suspect”, brings all the members of Pro Era to show off their individual styles over a downbeat flow, ending the project perfectly. Whether you’re an old-school hip hop fan or not, you WILL find something to love and appreciate in “1999”. It celebrates the old school hip hop that I love, while updating its style and sound for a new generation. And out of everything else I’ve heard, this mixtape stood out to me the most in 2012! This is a free mixtape, so please download it as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.

If you need more convincing, check out the excellent video for the equally-excellent “FromdaTomb” that fully embodies the old-school vibe that “1999” presents.  Enjoy! And feel free to mention your favourite hip hop albums of 2012. ‘Til next time, kids!

 

 

– Matthew

Movies I should have watched before the world ended – “Resident Evil: Retribution”

The third and final post in my short-lived, apocalyptic-themed series of write-ups is dedicated to a film that actually deals with the post-apocalypse….or something like that. It’s the fifth installment in a video-game movie franchise that has infuriated critics, pissed off most, if not all, of the die-hard fans of the source material, and has become, ever since the previous entry in the series, the staple of mindless 3D entertainment. Of course, I’m referring to the “critically-acclaimed” Resident Evil: Retribution.

 

Classifying this film into a genre was a bit tricky, since the last two posts dealt with films which easily fell into their respective genres (with the exception of “Killer Joe” which is funny but in a REALLY TWISTED way). You see, “Resident Evil: Retribution” is not exactly a horror film. Actually, the franchise – which involves a gun-toting heroine named Alice (played by Milla Jovovich) battling zombies and various other genetically-created creatures  in the near-future – stopped being scary since the second installment: “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”. And I know that some people out there believe that the franchise stopped being scary since the first film – or wasn’t scary in the first place.  Now, I could agree with that, but I want to be totally fair when it comes to the scare factor (or lack thereof) in the series. In fact, the series was a mixture of both sci-fi and action genres, and as such, “Resident Evil: Retribution” is exactly that: a sci-fi action film.

 

Of course, you and I both know that this franchise hasn’t won any points for great storytelling….or great acting. And this latest entry is no different. From the first film back in 2002 (TEN YEARS of this shit?! Wow!), it’s been all about bullets, explosions, gore and the human-on-zombie violence one expects from a zombie-themed film. But is “Resident Evil: Retribution” the same ol’ same, or did it actually try to deliver something more?

 

Really? You’re asking ME that question?!

 

Resident-Evil-Retribution-3d-IMAX-vertical-poster

 

“RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION” –  Our story continues where the last film – the terrible-as-fuck “Resident Evil: Afterlife” – left off. If you remember, or give a shit, Alice and her allies ended up on a freighter belonging to the Umbrella Corporation (a pharmaceutical company which is actually a front for a secret military operation that created the airborne T-virus that caused the zombie outbreak in the first film). A  fleet of airships, led by Alice’s ex-ally Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) who was brainwashed by Umbrella, attack the ship. “Retribution” starts off with a cool-looking shot of a silhouetted Alice sinking into the ocean (which instantly reminded me of the silhouetted image on the poster of James Cameron’s underrated sci-fi film “The Abyss”). What follows is a REWIND (I shit you not) of the attack on the freighter, which shows Alice being sucked out of the water and into the air, with exploding debris falling around her. And yes, it looked fucking RIDICULOUS! The opening rewind scene goes on for exactly three minutes (2 1/2 minutes too long, in my opinion). Which begs the obvious question: What is the point of all this?! I mean, the rewind thing sounds good on paper (and difficult to storyboard, I gather) and it would have made a great music video, but was it NECESSARY for this film? I don’t even think Paul W.S. Anderson, director of this film and husband of Milla Jovovich – I also shit you not) can answer that question.

 

After the intentionally bad intro concludes, Alice introduces herself in the same way she did in EVERY Resident Evil film: “My name is Alice”. NO SHIT, MILLA! From there, she gives us a much-needed recap of the major events in the past four films. THANKS, MILLA!  When the recap ends, the freighter attack is shown again, but in 1X speed – if you catch my drift. An explosion knocks out Alice, she ends up in the water, and then….. the next scene shows a fresh-looking Alice in a suburban home with a husband (Todd (Oded Fehr from the second and third films))) and a deaf daughter (Becky (Aryana Engineer). Oooookay. Things seem normal until suddenly… in Zack Synder’s “Dawn of the Dead” style, ZOMBIES enter the house! Alice and her daughter escape, and jump into a car owned by Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez) – an ally from the first film and a character who also feels out of place in this scene – which of course, crashes. Rain is trapped inside, and Alice and her daughter escape. What do they do? They run into another house! If you’re escaping from zombies, and you know they’re physically capable of breaking into an ordinary house, why in George A. Romero’s name would you HIDE IN ANOTHER HOUSE?! If you just got out of a house escaping from zombies, DON’T run into another house! They can easily get themselves inside! That’s zombie movie 101! Jeez!

 

Afterwards, it’s revealed that this was actually a dream. Alice was captured by Jill and imprisoned in an Umbrella Corporation facility. Suddenly, a security interference takes place, and Alice finds her way outside. She realizes that she’s in Tokyo which if you remember, or give a shit, was where the third film – “Resident Evil: Extinction” ended and the fourth film began. Zombies attack her, she runs inside, kills them, blah blah blah. Then, she meets Ada Wong (played by Chinese actress Li Bingbing and laughably dubbed by Canadian actress Sally Cahill), an associate of Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), an affiliate of Umbrella and a sneaky, one-dimensional bastard. They tell Alice that the Tokyo location was actually a virtual simulation controlled by the Red Queen, an evil artificial intelligence (from the first film) controlling what’s left of Umbrella.  Then they reveal that the facility is actually underwater, and under a sheet of ice. The mission, should she choose to accept it, is to go through a number of  location simulations (*COUGH*VIDEO GAME LEVELS*COUGH), battle zombies and freaky-ass creatures (*COUGH*VIDEO GAME BOSSES*COUGH), get to the elevator and escape the facility. Oh, and Wesker also organized a team of highly-trained (and expendable) operatives to aid Alice and Ada in their quest. How thoughtful!

 

It’s funny how logic is thrown completely out of the window with this film.  For example, during a virtual simulation action sequence, Alice and Ada successfully kill a large, muscle-bound human-like, axe-wielding monster. In two sequences, Alice and her team of expendables allies wipe out a group of chainsaw-brandishing zombies (*FACEPALM*) and a squad of gun-toting zombies riding on motorbikes (I definitely shit you not!). Which begs the following questions (which I really shouldn’t ask for a film like this):  If it’s a simulation, and the creatures are logically simulations as well, how can simulations KILL people? And how can Alice kill the simulations? I don’t know and I don’t give a fuck because the film refuses to make me give one. I didn’t care for the characters and I can’t say that I enjoyed the story (if there was one at all). The film itself feels like a string of video game levels, with only a few minutes of dialogue spaced between the action sequences that make up most of the film’s running time.  Even the encounters with the creatures feel like something out of a video game. Take one scene, where a gigantic creature captures Becky (in the fashion of a little sci-fi movie from James Cameron called “Aliens”). Alice tracks the beast, shoots a grappling hook into the air, slides upwards, shoots the beast in his large exposed brain and pulls off a “bad-ass” pose when she lands on the ground. And the creature dies. Just like that. The fuck?!!

 

And on the subject of action sequences, they’re a lot more cartoonish and over-the-top than in previous Resident Evil films. The fight sequences, like the main confrontation between Alice and Jill, are ridiculous and sloppily-choreographed.  The human characters are lame, the non-human characters are lame and the story and script are badly written. And the music, by “tomandandy” (don’t even ask me who or what that is), is GARBAGE – literally! The film, however, earns its points by resurrecting old characters from the previous films. I was surprised to see Michelle Rodriguez, even though her character, if memory serves me right, was killed in the first Resident Evil film. Once again – logic finds its way out of the window. Also, there was a rather interesting twist concerning dual versions of two key characters in the film. But by the time the twist is revealed and utilized, you won’t give a zombie’s rotting ass. I sure didn’t!

 

In the end, “Resident Evil: Retribution” comes off as a tired, half-hearted and half-assed attempt to prevent the Resident Evil movie franchise from fading from human memory. Slapping the term “3D” on the title was a great way to get people to watch this film in theaters, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the film is utter bullshit and a total waste of time. If you at least appreciated the first three Resident Evil films, and disliked the fourth (like I did), then you will hate the living hell out of this film. If proper storytelling and character development doesn’t mean shit to you, and you like your films with a lot of mindless action and brainless characters, then you might be the only one who’ll enjoy this movie. In conclusion, if the world was really meant to end on Friday December 21st 2012, make sure that you do not spend your final hours watching “Resident Evil: Retribution”. The spirits of the Mayans will thank you.

 

MY RATING:

“RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION” – 1 out of 5 stars (“Of course it sucked!”)

 

– Matthew

Movies I should have watched before the world ended – “Alex Cross” & “Argo”

Slight change of plans, lady and gent.  In my last post, I promised that I would review three films under the same genre – and I did exactly that with “Ted”, “The Watch” and “Killer Joe”. But then I figured: why burden myself trying to watch and review SIX films by this Thursday when I could simply review THREE? Why three, you ask? Well, first and foremost, three reviews between now and Thursday is a helluva lot easier to accomplish than six. With that being said, the idea now is to write about two films (in the same genre, of course) in one post, and one film in the next post – thus lightening my mental load. And it gives me more time to prepare for the “end of the world” on Friday. Matter of fact, when you really look at it, it’s almost as if I’m doing a mini-countdown with these posts (THREE reviews, then TWO, then ONE. Get it? Three, two, one – happy…..apocalypse! Ha ha ha. Hmmm).

 

But you get my point. I hope. Moving along….

 

The genre for today’s post is thriller (not to be confused with the timeless Michael Jackson album of the same name). The first film stars everyone’s favourite loud-mouth, gun-toting grandmother trying to be a detective, and the second film stars one of the victims of “Gigli” (one of the worst films ever conceived) fully establishing himself as a Hollywood director.

 

As before, there’ll be no long-winded intro, so let’s begin!

 

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“ALEX CROSS” – Like some of you did when you first saw the trailer to this film, I  rolled my eyes at the idea of Tyler Perry (known to millions as the man behind the facade of the now-annoying-as-fuck female character of stage and screen, Madea) playing the protagonist of a series of novels by James Patterson whom, I guess, you shouldn’t cross (hence the film’s tagline: “DON’T EVER CROSS ALEX CROSS” – Seriously?!). Now, I do respect the man for stepping out of the high heels or knitted slippers or whatever the hell Madea wears and broadening his acting range. He accomplished this with his brief, unexpected and unwanted appearance in “Star Trek” (2009) and his starring role in his 2012 romantic drama “Good Deeds”. However, starring in a film marketed as a serious action thriller and, in the process, filling the shoes of Morgan (God) Freeman who starred in the previous Alex Cross films “Kiss the Girls” (1997) and “Along Came a Spider” (2001) would obviously prove challenging for Mr. Perry. And considering the fact that he replaced Idris Elba (who was attached to star in the film since 2010) of all people, his performance at least should be of a higher caliber than usual, right?  Not exactly….

 

Dr. Alex Cross is a Detroit police lieutenant and psychologist. One night, he and his partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) are called to a crime scene. Using his Sherlock Holmes-like intuition (which is less amazing than it sounds), he figures out the motive behind the brutal murder of a businesswoman at her house. The perpetrator is called Picasso (Matthew Fox), a sadistic killer with a talent for torture and a fascination for pain. Things get personal when Picasso “crosses” Cross, and as Picasso sets his sights at Cross’s friends and family (the Crosses), Cross gets very crossed – which leads to our hero crossing the line, crossing the street and crossing his T’s, just so he can find our villain and give him a right cross to the face, proving once and for all, that you should never, EVER cross with Alex Cross!! ALEX CROSS, BITCHES!!

 

As you may have gathered, that was an exaggerated take on the events of the film.  And I must say, I’ve seen these events before – in other films! Nearly all the events in “Alex Cross” feel familiar – from the “tense” phone conversations between Alex and Picasso and “emotional” moments with Alex and his family, to the “gripping” final showdown between the two and the “shocking” twist at the end. I put those words in inverted commas because that’ s what these scenes tried desperately to be. Anyhoo, there are no actual thrills or surprises or twists to expect in this film because you will see them coming a mile away – unless your eyes are stuck from constant rolling. The story isn’t even sure what it wants to be. It starts off as a generic “police on the hunt of a serial killer” story, then morphs into a generic “police on the hunt of a dangerous assassin” story and ends as a generic “policeman exacting revenge on bad guy” story. Which brings me to the characters, which are just as confused as the story they’re based in. Picasso is established in the first act as a serial killer, then all of a sudden, he’s revealed to be an assassin. Alex Cross is established as a reasonable individual, even in the line of duty, then all of a sudden, after someone near and dear to him is killed, he starts acting like some tough-as-nails cop – violently interrogating suspects and calling them “maggots”, scowling and grimacing at everything and everyone, and trying to exhibit a shotgun-toting, pseudo-bad ass attitude. The performances in the film aren’t bad, but both Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox take their roles way too seriously. Fox plays his psychotic character like someone who’s watched one too many episodes of the serial killer-themed  TV show “Dexter” (he even has the crazy eyes to support his character) and Tyler tries his best with his character, but winds up acting like a carbon copy of other cop characters of the past. Had the writers of the film, and its director Rob Cohen (the man behind The Fast and the Furious, xXx and Stealth – which pretty much explains why the film is the way it is) focused their talents on creating an actual, cliche-free story instead of relying on been-there, seen-that action sequences,  two-dimensional characterization and arguably the WORST use of shaky cam in a 2012 movie, “Alex Cross”, for what it’s worth, would have been a better film. But unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, it’s nothing short of a disappointment. Make sure to cross this one out of your favourite movies of 2012 list, if it was there to begin with.

 

Argo-Movie-Poster

 

“ARGO” – Speaking of favourite movies of 2012, here’s a film that found its way into many “BEST OF 2012” lists so far. From the moment I saw its trailer, I was intrigued with “Argo”. I became aware of the insanely huge positive feedback and Oscar buzz the film has received upon its release more than two months ago. What it’s about, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.  “Argo” is based on the true story of the “Canadian Caper”, a joint covert rescue by the CIA and the Canadian government of six American diplomats who managed to escape capture during an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, in 1979. Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA specialist who’s told by the US State Department of the situation in Iran. He comes up with an ingenious plan to extract the diplomats out of Iran: set up a fake production studio in Hollywood, publicize the production of a sci-fi film named “Argo” that’ll never get made, go to Iran with the excuse of “scouting for exotic locations”, find the diplomats, have them pretend to be the crew members of the film, then get them out before they get caught.

 

SMART, HUH?!!  The elaborate process in getting these diplomats out of danger makes up the plot of this film. “Argo” masterfully tells its story in the visual and thematic style of the classic thriller films of the 1970s, where there was always a greater emphasis on story, characters and mood than on visceral action-packed sequences (which is more than I can say about some of today’s thriller films *COUGH*ALEX CROSS, BITCHES!*COUGH). Clips of actual news footage are interwoven into the film, both to create an underlying tension in the story, and to make aware to the viewer the chaos surrounding Iran’s reaction to the sheltering of the recently deposed Shah (Mohammed Reza Pahlavi). The performances are solid throughout. Ben plays his role rather well, Bryan Cranston (star of “Breaking Bad”, one of the best shows on TV) who plays Tony’s supervisor Jack O’Donnell is great as always, and John Goodman as Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers provides some of the film’s much-needed humour. Alan Arkin delivers the film’s stand-out performance as film producer Lester Siegel which, in all fairness, deserves an Academy Award nomination. The story is well-written, well-paced and well-balanced in terms of history, humour and tension. The characters involved in the “Canadian Caper” are given enough emotional depth for you to care about them, and to root for them along every step of this intricate plot to get back to America. And yes, the direction by Ben Affleck himself is BRILLIANT. Like his previous films “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town” (one of 2010’s best films, in my opinion), Ben has proven to himself and to Hollywood that there’s more to him than making bad career choices (“Gigli” and “Daredevil” come to mind). He truly has a knack for filmmaking, and it shows in “Argo”. I hope for his sake that he keeps up the great work. Long story short, “Argo” is undoubtedly, and obviously, one of 2012’s best films. Check it out as soon as you can, or at least after it wins a shit-ton of awards, including a couple of Academy Awards (Best Director, anyone?)

 

MY RATING:

“ALEX CROSS” – 2 out of 5 stars (“I want my money back”)

“ARGO” –  4 out of 5 stars (“See this movie”)

 

– Matthew

Movies I should have watched before the world ended – “Ted”, “The Watch” & “Killer Joe”

As I promised both of you on Tuesday, I’ll be reviewing the “movies I should have watched before the world ended” (i.e. December 21st 2012, if you really believe in that shit). TRANSLATION: for the next few days until December 20th, and before I get into any Christmas-spirited movie-watching, I will watch and review some of the movies that I should have seen months ago, but didn’t get a chance because I was pre-occupied with other things (*cough*waiting for DVD-rips and BR-rips of these movies to show up at my favourite torrent site*cough). Also on Tuesday, I stated that I’ll be reviewing three films under the same genre. And today’s genre is: (drumroll please)…..

 

COMEDY! Yaaaaaaaaay. But mind you, they’re not your ordinary comedies…

 

The first involves a talking teddy bear, the second deals with an alien invasion and the third is so incredibly fucked-up that you wouldn’t look at KFC chicken the same way again. Or eat it for that matter. Oh, and one more thing before I begin. As this is a special review, and as an early Christmas gift from me to you, I’ll forego a long-winded intro, and get straight into the meat of the matter. Capisce? Good. Finger-licking good!

 

God, again with the chicken references! SHIT! Anyways, let’s waste no time.

 


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“TED” –  Now if you look at the top of the poster, you’ll see the following words: “the first motion picture from the creator of Family Guy”. If you look underneath, you’ll see the names Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis (who plays Meg Griffin in “Family Guy” – and unlike Meg, is a HOTTIE in real life!), and Seth MacFarlane. He’s the creator of “Family Guy”, you know. Now, if you look underneath his name, you’ll see the name “TED”. As you’ve realized, the name is in green. Do you know why? ‘Cause a teddy bear smokes weed in this film. And we’re walking…..we’re walking….

 

I’m sorry. That was just me trying to imitate an American tour guide. But all jokes aside, “Ted” focuses on John Bennett, a lonely kid in Boston who gets a teddy bear for Christmas in 1985. After wishing on the proverbial “lucky star” that his teddy bear (which he calls “Ted” of course) can talk, it actually happens on the next day. Cut to 2012 and John (Mark Wahlberg) is working at a rental car service, enjoying his relationship with Lori Collins (Mila Kunis), his girlfriend of four years, and is still best friends with Ted. Matter of fact, the three of them regularly hang out with each other. Yes, ladies and gents, in the world of “Ted”, everyone acknowledges the fact that a teddy bear can walk and talk. And the film presents this aspect rather well. With the number of interactions Ted has with the human characters in the film (and they’re quite hilarious), you begin to see him more as an individual and not just a CG-created character. But anyway, without revealing any spoilers, problems arise when Lori continually reminds John that he’s an irresponsible 30-plus year old who’s still attached to a teddy bear – even though they regularly smoke weed, watch TV, and talk a LOT of shit! And throughout the film, John wrestles with the decision of letting go of Ted for the sake of spending the rest of his life with Lori.  The acting in “Ted” is well-done, especially from Mark Wahlberg who proves that even though he’s been playing bad-asses on film for the last five years or so (which helps in forgetting his Marky Mark days), he can still be funny. Seth MacFarlane, of course, steals the show as the foul-mouthed, sex-minded Ted. At times, Seth does sound like Peter Griffin from “Family Guy” and it threw me out of the film quite a bit. Also, similar to “Family Guy”, the film’s script both cites and takes shots at celebrities, TV shows and movies. They even do the “segment” thing from “Family Guy” where a character says something about a past event, and then you see the event for yourself. Oh, and Mila Kunis is given a considerable amount of dialogue – which is funny, because I couldn’t help but remember Peter Griffin delivering his famous line to his daughter Meg: “Shut up, Meg!” And yeah, at times, Mila does sound like Meg. The script itself is fresh and well-written, though it is admittedly inconsistent in its pacing. But thankfully, this is a minor setback due to the huge amounts of laughs in the film, and a strong chemistry between Mark Wahlberg and Ted that’s always fun to watch. In the end, “Ted” is, honestly, one of the funniest films of 2012! If you’re a fan of “Family Guy”, then you should have a blast with this film. If you’re not a Family Guy fan however, and you’re looking for a film to put a smile on your face, then give this one a look. It’s raunchy and vaingloriously R-rated, but it has its heart (or battery) in the right place.

 

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“THE WATCH” –  The first time I saw the trailer to “The Watch” (which was originally titled “Neighborhood Watch” but got changed after the shooting of 17-year old Trayvon Martin in Florida by a neighbourhood-watch member), I could have sworn it was a standard comedy. The use of the Dr. Dre-produced banger “Still D.R.E.” in the trailer whetted my appetite for the film.  But when I read in an online review that it was a sci-fi comedy, I was like “BITCH PLEASE” (that’s another song produced by Dr. Dre, in case you were wondering). And when all the bad reviews started rolling in, I avoided seeing the film on the big screen. But still, I was curious. Was it that bad? Actually, it’s more disappointing than bad. Set in Glenview, Ohio, Ben Stiller plays Evan, an active participant in the community and owner of a wholesale store. After the security guard working at the store is savagely murdered, Evan decides to organize a Neighbourhood Watch to find the perpetrator and stop him from killing anyone else in the town. Only three persons show interest: a construction worker named Bob (Vince Vaughn), a high school dropout trying desperately to be a cop even though he failed all the exams named Franklin (Jonah Hill) and a kooky Brit named Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).

 

While investigating the security guard’s murder, they discover a device of alien origin. When they realize it’s a weapon, they use it to blow shit up (including a poor cow – WTF?!!)  in a montage set to N.W.A.’s timeless “Straight Outta Compton”. And this is one of the problems with “The Watch”. Now I must admit – the soundtrack KNOCKS! And you will be nodding your head and throwing your hands in the air and waving them like you just don’t care (by yourself) to these songs. But most of these songs feel out of place, like the use of “Straight Outta Compton” in the aforementioned scene. There’s even a scene where a kid is thrown into the police department by the four Neighbourhood Watch members – and “The Next Episode” is playing in the soundtrack. So the geniuses behind “The Watch” are really going to use a song sung and produced by two rappers (Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg) who have expressed their hate for the police during their careers in a scene where a kid is sent to the police?! REALLY?!  And the script? It’s blatantly unfocused, lazily-written and unevenly paced. The film is supposed to be about the Neighbourhood Watch trying to stop an alien invasion, but instead the alien aspect of the story is overshadowed by unnecessarily long moments involving the four main characters. One scene involves Vince Vaughn pissing in a beer can. Another scene has Vince stalking the Facebook profile of his teenage daughter Chelsea (in an eye-rolling sub-plot involving Bob failing to comprehend his daughter’s independence). And another scene has Vince and Ben Stiller talking about testicular disease. Funny? Not to me. Necessary to the story? I’m still fucking wondering. And don’t get me wrong. Ben, Vince, Jonah and Richard are gifted comic actors, and they work well together. But their talents are wasted in a totally unfunny script. I did chuckle a few times, but really, I didn’t even laugh once while watching this film. Ultimately, “The Watch” ends up being a “Men in Black”-knock off (with vulgar dialogue and graphic violence thrown in for the sake of its R-rating) than anything else. The presence of Ben, Vince, Jonah and Richard, and the soundtrack of the film, are enough for you to sit through this film once. But believe me, you will forget about it hours after you’ve seen it. Long story short, “The Watch” is light years away from perfect.

 

Here’s the “Neighborhood Watch” trailer I was talking about – which is WAY better than the actual movie!

 

 

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“KILLER JOE” –  And now the moment both of you were waiting for:  my long-awaited review of the dark comedy “Killer Joe”.  Now, due to its limited release in the U.S., I was unaware of the existence of this film until a good friend of mine tagged me on its trailer via Facebook (gotta love the social-stalking network of Facebook!). Since then, I was intrigued by the film, and I couldn’t wait to see it. Months later, and a few hours ago, I finally watched “Killer Joe” and it’s been stuck in my head so far (even while I write). And I fear it’ll be there until New Year’s Day – which is a compliment on the film’s part. The film opens with Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch), a Texan drug dealer who’s in a shitload of debt. He goes to his deadbeat loser of a father Ansel Smith (Thomas Haden Church) to get some money. Ansel lives with his new wife Sharla Smith (Gina Gershon) and Chris’ younger, nubile and naive sister Dottie (Juno Temple).  Chris and Ansel hatch up the perfect scheme to pay the debt – kill Ansel’s ex-wife (i.e. Chris’ and Dottie’s biological mother) and collect the life insurance. But they don’t want to get their hands dirty. So they decide to hire “Killer Joe” Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a police officer and part-time contract killer. Chris agrees to split the money among himself, Ansel, Sharla and Killer Joe, but Killer Joe isn’t quite convinced that he’ll get all of the money owed to him. A proposition is made: once the insurance comes through, Killer Joe can take Dottie as a retainer.

 

Upon the film’s release, “Killer Joe” was slapped a NC-17 rating for graphic depictions of sex and violence. But because of William Friedkin’s (the director of the Oscar-winning action film “The French Connection” and the ‘scariest horror film of all time’ “The Exorcist” – two controversial films in their own right) battle to keep the film’s objectionable content intact, the film was released in both its original version and a R-rated cut (with four minutes omitted from the unrated version). Luckily for me, I saw the NC-17 cut! And I must say, without revealing much, that  the four-minute sequence is one of the most fucked-up things I’ve seen in a Hollywood film this year! As I mentioned earlier, you WILL NOT look at KFC chicken the same way again after you see this film. There’s a reason why a piece of meat is on the film’s poster with blood hovering over it. I’ll leave it at that. But thanks to William Friedkin’s sharp direction, the superb performances throughout, and the overall dark tone of the film, this scene comes off as shocking, and watchable, and funny (but in a truly messed-up way). And this is where “Killer Joe” shines. The film goes beyond its story of murder and easy money and offers a fascinating, albeit disturbing, look into the dark side of the trailer-trash characters presented on-screen. Accepting that Chris (along with Ansel and to a lesser extent, Dottie) shows nothing but contempt for his mother (who’s revealed to be abusive to him in the past) is one thing, but having a grown-ass man lusting over a young woman like Dottie is something else entirely. And speaking of grown-ass man, Matthew McConaughey delivers the BEST performance in his career so far as the title character. He is terrifying, creepy, deviant, and quite funny (but in a truly messed-up way). His performance in the film alone deserves an Oscar nomination, but I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen due to the NC-17 rating. In any case,  “Killer Joe” is arguably one of the most provocative and entertainingly twisted films I’ve seen in 2012. Be forewarned: this film is definitely not for the faint of heart. But if you have the nerve, the stomach and the will to laugh and be amazed at the insanity of it all, then you will be rewarded with an unforgettable movie experience in”Killer Joe”. Brought to you by KFC!

 

MY RATING:

“TED” – 4 out of 5 stars (“See this movie”)

“THE WATCH” – 1 1/2 out of 5 stars (“That shit cray!”)

“KILLER JOE” –  4 out of 5 stars (“See this movie”)

 

– Matthew

The end is near-ish…..

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If you ain’t up on pace, next week Friday is supposedly the end of the world, thanks to those darn Mayans and their silly calendar. Obviously, I don’t believe in any of that crap, and neither should you. Everyone knows the world’s going to end when a Michael Bay action film wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

 

Anyhoo, as you may have gathered by skimming your way to the end of this page, this isn’t a real post. It’s actually an announcement concerning my next set of write-ups. Now, there’s a LOT of movies on my hard drive currently collecting virtual dust.  But hopefully, I’ll be able to watch a considerable amount before the “end comes”. With that being said, the next bit (or batch depending on how lucky I am) of reviews will be dedicated to the films I should have watched before the world ended.

 

Matter of fact, that’s going to be the name of my upcoming series of reviews:

“MOVIES I SHOULD HAVE WATCHED BEFORE THE WORLD ENDED”

 

From this Thursday, I’ll be reviewing three films of the same genre (like horror or comedy or action) and I’ll continue this until next Thursday.  How many posts I manage to pull off is anyone’s guess. It all depends on time and preparedness for the apocalypse at hand. Of course, the movies have already been selected, and yes, they’re all 2012 releases.

 

So start organizing your survival kits, and gather as much firearms as you can – ’cause the end is coming! Or a zombie apocalypse. Whichever comes first  😀

 

–  Matthew

Double Feature – “Life of Pi” & “Liz & Dick”

“Life of Pi” is a 3D adventure/drama film based on the award-winning 2001 novel of the same name by French-Canadian author Yann Martel. It’s directed by Taiwanese-born Ang Lee, director of the admittedly-great, Oscar-winning martial arts adventure “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”,  the pre-Avengerswhat-the-fuck-were-you-thinking comic-book flop “The Hulk” and the homosexuality-themed, I-have-to-trust-in-my-own-masculinity-before-I-watch-this-shit, Oscar-winning drama “Brokeback Mountain”.

 

“Liz & Dick”  is a biographical TV movie on the I-have-to-trust-in-my-own-masculinity-before-I-watch-this-shit cable channel Lifetime. Directed by Lloyd Kramer (some dude I never heard about), it stars Grant Bowler (another dude I never heard about) as the late, great actor Richard Burton and everyone’s favourite child star-turned Razzie Award winner and DUI arrestee Lindsay Lohan as the late, great actress Elizabeth Taylor.

 

Lindsay Lohan….. as Elizabeth Taylor. Wrap your head around that for a minute. If you feel light-headed, wrap a hot towel around your head. It should ease the wooziness. At least that’s what Ferris Bueller’s dad suggested in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.  Now THAT was a good movie!

 

I’ve been intrigued with Life of Pi ever since I first saw its trailer, and with the positive reviews and Oscar buzz the film has been garnering for the past week and a half, I just had to see it on the big screen. On the contrary, I didn’t give three shits about Liz & Dick until its negative reviews became the subject of a hilarious segment of The Soup (the BEST TV show on the E! Network – in case you hadn’t realized it yet) where talk show hosts stated that they either couldn’t get through half of the film (one guy couldn’t get past the first 10 minutes) or avoided the film altogether. Having already planned to add Life of Pi to my upcoming Top 10 Best Films of 2012 list, I needed a film so laughably bad that it deserved a slot in my Top 10 Worst Films list (both will be posted before years’s end – which depends on whether the world “ends” or not. JUST KIDDING!). I guess it’s the film critic in me, or the simple fact that I am NOT a Lindsay Lohan fan (though I will admit that “Mean Girls” was a VERY GOOD movie!) but I just had to bash the living hell out of “Liz & Dick”.

 

And bash I shall! But first…..

 


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“LIFE OF PI” –  The story begins in an small Indian zoo owned by the Patel family.  “Pi” Patel (adult: Irfan Khan; young: Suraj Sharma) is the youngest in the family. He’s an intelligent and educated young man with a fascination for ancient religions and modern philosophy. When the zoo goes broke, Pi’s father Santosh (Adli Hussain) decides to put the family and some of the valuable animals (including a Bengal tiger) on a ship bound for Canada with the intention to start a new life.  When the ship encounters a violent storm, Pi is thrown overboard with a lifeboat. Unfortunately, Pi is unable to save his family as the boat eventually sinks into the Pacific Ocean. When the storm dissipates, Pi realizes that there’s another passenger on the lifeboat: the Bengal tiger – called Richard Parker (not to be confused with Richard Parker, Peter Parker’ s father in “The Amazing Spider-Man”).  And so begins an extraordinary journey where Pi must learn to cope with the ferocious Richard Parker, survive weeks of being adrift in the Pacific Ocean, have his faith and beliefs tested, and most importantly, find his way back to civilization.

 

Let me start by stating the obvious: “Life of Pi” is FRICKIN’ BEAUTIFUL! Seriously! This film is chock-full of visually spectacular imagery, both real and computer-generated.  And speaking of computer-generated, Richard Parker (the tiger, not Spiderman’s father) stands as a pure example of computer graphics perfected. The detail, the movement, the mannerisms, everything about this tiger was amazingly life-like – so life-like that it’ll be easy, at times, to forget that it isn’t real. The performances were great, especially from Suraj Sharma and Irfan Khan who both bear the emotional weight of the film’s story. Though I’m unable to compare the film to the source material since I have yet to read the novel, I can say that the film is well-written and compelling from opening to closing scene. Though the film starts off slow, and a few scenes drag a little long, the emotional payoff at the conclusion is indeed worth the time invested. And finally, you may have heard people say that the 3D used in “Life of Pi” is on par with James Cameron’s 3D extravaganza “Titanic 3D”….oops, I meant the OTHER 3D extravaganza “Avatar” –  and I will say that it damn near rivals it!  “Life of Pi” uses 3D to heighten the depth of field and perspective (to name a few) in ingenious ways that assist in presenting a deeper meaning to nearly each scene in the film. In short, this film is a visual masterpiece, an astounding cinematic achievement and an emotionally powerful film that’s well worth the extra dollars to see it in 3D, and definitely worth seeing more than once. If you’re looking for an Oscar-worthy movie experience to occupy your time during the Christmas holidays, look no further than “Life of Pi”.

 

 

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“LIZ & DICK” –  DISCLAIMER: The word “Dick” will be used frequently in this review. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s in the title, and the makers of the film probably assumed that they actually conceived a great movie, so it would never, in a million years, become the butt of a porn-related joke (e.g. Lez and Dick – I just came up with that one). “Liz & Dick” tells the (somewhat) true story of the relationship between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who first met during the production of the 1963 epic drama film (and one of the most infamous flops in Hollywood history) “Cleopatra”. The film’s narrative is inter-cut with an interview in a darkened room between the couple (who’re supposed to look older, but don’t) and an unseen and unheard interviewer. Both Liz and Dick have spouses, but that didn’t stop the grandeur-delusional Dick from trying to woo the stuck-up, self-righteous Liz with fake-ass Shakespearean-like dialogue and a fake-ass cocky attitude (Women would be saying “What a dick!”). Anyhoo, after a passionate (ish) love scene on the set of “Cleopatra”, Liz and Dick embark on a love affair. After one kiss on the set of a movie? REALLY?! Thanks to the paparazzi (gotta love the paparazzi), Liz and Dick’s affair are on the tabloids. Dick’s wife finds out, and so does Liz’s husband. What do they do? Leave their spouses, of course!  The rest of the film involves the two making out (and not fucking since it is a *cough*Lifetime*cough* TV movie), fighting with each other and buying expensive gifts to help say “I’m sorry. Now please have sex with me”, Dick bitching about how Liz won two Academy Awards and he never won shit; and Liz bitching about how bored she is when she tries to live a normal life (“I’M BORED! I’M SO BORED!!”, she says in one unintentionally laughable scene); threatening to kill herself just because Dick wants to stay with his family, smashing vodka bottles into walls whenever she’s pissed (Do celebrities REALLY do that? I wonder.) and blatantly bumping off Sophia Loren (who was always hotter than Elizabeth Taylor in my honest opinion) just so she can star alongside Dick in films like “The V.I.P.s” (1963) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966).

 

Let me start by stating the obvious: Lindsay Lohan’s acting talents got flushed down the same toilet bowl where she sat down to eat lunch during that memorable scene in “Mean Girls”. She tries (and I use that word loosely) to look, act and talk like Elizabeth Taylor – and fails on all levels! Hell, she can’t even cry properly. There are a number of scenes where she cries with tear-deprived eyes, and in most of them, she smartly (and I also use that word loosely) covers her face. Her dialogue, and its delivery, is badly-written and shamelessly fake (“God no! “I’m here, my love!”, “Hypocrites….all of you!”) . Take this scene for example. Lindsay’s in her dressing room, and she picks the following conversation with the screenwriter of “Cleopatra”.

LIZ: “Joe, when you wrote this script, were you thinking about Anthony and Cleopatra, or Richard and myself?”

JOE (screenwriter): “I was thinking about Anthony and Cleopatra, of course”

LIZ: “Okay”.

 

THE FUCK?!!!

 

Grant Bowler is awful as Richard Burton. Now, I’ve never seen a Richard Burton film, but I know for sure that Grant DOES NOT do him justice. Every time Grant delivers a line, it always sounds like something out of a Shakespeare play. And just for the record, I’m aware that Richard Burton was British, and a Shakespearean actor, but it doesn’t mean that Grant had to speak like one throughout the entire film. I’m just saying. Both Grant and Lindsay have ZERO chemistry together, appearing more like actors in a high school play than actors playing real-life Hollywood legends. And as their characters age, they both fail miserably in trying to act older. They look the same age throughout the film’s narrative, which spans a number of years! But the true slap to my face was in a later scene where Liz (who hasn’t aged a bit) is revealed to be FORTY YEARS OLD! So apart from the set design and costume design that must have taken a huge chunk out of the film’s budget, couldn’t the makers of “Liz & Dick” hire a better MAKE-UP ARTIST? Sigh! From start to end, “Liz & Dick” is an abysmal mess. The acting sucks, the directing sucks, the editing sucks, the music sucks and the overall story and script sucked!  This is one of the films that’ll be remembered for years as one of the worst TV movies of all time and one of the worst films of Lindsay Lohan’s career. If you love watching bad movies, then you’ll laugh your ass off with this film (“I’M BORED! I’M SO BORED!!” will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the funniest pieces of bad dialogue ever spoken in a film). To everyone else, avoid this like eating lunch in a bathroom. It may not be included in most Worst Films of 2012 lists, but it rightfully earned its way into mine.

 

Long story short, “Liz & Dick” SUCKED! Yeah, that was another porn-related joke.

 

MY RATING:

“LIFE OF PI” – 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (“Definitely see this movie”)

“LIZ & DICK” – 1 out of 5 stars (“Of course it sucked!”)

– Matthew