Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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"The Legend of Bagger Vance" is underwhelming. With Matt Damon, Will Smith, and Charlize Theron in the lead roles, you would assume that this film will blow your mind; however, it is important to note that this film came out in 2000 before Smith and Theron had established themselves as amazing dramatic actors in "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "Monster" respectively. Their inexperience shows, though it makes room for a nice performance by character actor Bruce McGill to shine through. The saving grace from an acting standpoint is that this was Jack Lemmon's final role before his death. His narration is a fitting epilogue to his successful career. The main issue with the film is the story which is predictable and never really goes anywhere. The ending signals that the main character has experienced an important transformation but he is almost the same as he was before. On top of that, the love story is completely underdeveloped. It's a shame that the simplistic story could not match the grandeur of the film's cinematography and score. It is a visual marvel from the time lapse footage of clouds to the beautiful Savannah setting and the crowd fading away as Damon focuses on the hole. Most importantly, the camerawork creates a visual storytelling that helps us to track the progress of the golf match. Rachel Portman crafts a score that alternates between fun ragtime melodies and Thomas Newman-esque ethereal sounds. It effectively captures the Depression-era setting in conjunction with the mystical aspects of the story. The technical aspects almost make the film worth watching but there are many sports dramas that would be a better use of your time. Although I generally like films directed by Robert Redford, "The a Legend of Bagger Vance" is a fluke and should step aside for a quality mystical sports drama like "Field of Dreams."
"Encino Man" is sooooo 90's. It has everything that you would expect from a cheesy 90's comedy including various montages of a cavemen's antics in modern society (most stereotypically at an amusement park). We also get to see the caveman placed into a high school setting where he inevitably becomes popular, a museum where he sees his ancestors, and he even hijacks a car that ends up driving sideways, balanced on two wheels. And of course, no 90's high school film is complete without a prom scene. It subscribes to the dumb comedy formula established by "Wayne's World" but lacks the creativity and originality of its predecessors. Imagine the classic mall sequence from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" for 90-minutes with only one character. The 33-day shooting schedule shows through hastily shot scenes and a lack of acting finesse. If you think that Brendan Fraser is overly slapstick as George of the Jungle, you haven't seen anything until you've seen him acting like a caveman that can barely speak a word. One of the biggest issues that people have with the film is Pauly Shore. I actually don't mind him since the majority of the film matches his signature airheadedness. It's amazing that people see his films and just accept his personality as typical of the 90's. More than anything, it helps me to better appreciate Shore's character in "A Goofy Movie." Sean Astin makes an okay protagonist but the real standout is Megan Ward as she makes "Robyn" into a genuinely likable character, something that is difficult to find in this story. "Encino Man" serves as evidence that an entire generation just accepted films comprised of random sequential montages and dance sequences loosely tied together by a plot. If you want to see an entertaining brainless comedy, stick to "Bill and Ted" or "Billy Madison."
I'm frustrated. I don't understand how a film like "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" gets made. I can understand how the vision of a film can get lost in the editing process, but how can a film be so misguided from the very start. I can't imagine the crew members on the set of this film thinking anything other than "these are the most emotionless characters that I have ever seen" as the cameras were rolling. I have seen Lifetime Original Movies with better acting. I've even seen midafternoon Nickelodeon comedies with every cast member under the age of 16 that has better acting. Christopher Gorham's soft-spoken tone of voice wreaks of a sensitive used car salesman and makes any attempt by Alyssa Milano to create chemistry feel awkward. It doesn't help that the script is completely mundane. Not in a Richard Linklater real-life-unfolding-in-front-of-your-eyes sort of way, but in a why-am-I-watching-this-unemotional-dialogue sort of way. The entire film feels painfully overacted and it is no surprise that it received a pay-per-view release instead of a theatrical one. It latches onto the classic cliché of a girl trying to choose between a successful ad executive vs. a family-oriented struggling writer, though you will understand why in the end. In an effort to incorporate some comedy into the film, they create a random tangent with a character appearing in a gum commercial but it has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on the plot! The experience of watching this film is painful... and then it throws in one of the most incredible twists that I've ever seen in a romantic comedy. This is one of the highest quality chick flick concepts that I have ever seen, but the dialogue and acting are so average that it will never be appreciated for its underlying genius. I want to tell you to watch "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" to experience its inventive ending, or even just to laugh at how bad the acting is; unfortunately, any attempt to endure this film will result in an unending frustration with its relentless monotony.
"3 Days to Kill" is an average action comedy film that features Kevin Costner doing his best "gruff Harrison Ford" impression. It intersperses several well-executed shootout sequences with a shallow family plot. The Parisian setting and the intrigue behind Amber Heard's character set the stage for a riveting story but what develops feels like a bunch of ideas that were borrowed from other films. As I mentioned, Costner's voice and disposition are reminiscent of most Harrison Ford action films, his crippling adrenaline-induced hallucinations seem to be inspired by "Crank," and the plot device of a man trying to develop a relationship with his daughter amidst dangerous spy missions feels very cliché. This led to a familiarity that had my wife and I debating whether we had seen the film before. The predictability of the family story left little room for surprises. We even developed an expectation that one particular character would reveal herself to be a bad guy... only to realize that we were remembering a different film and definitely had not seen this one before. While the story lacks originality, much of the comedy hits the target. The running gag of Costner's "I Love It" ringtone going off at inappropriate moments never gets old and his reliance on his targets (Mitat and Guido) to help mend his relationship with Zooey creates some great moments. If you are looking for a serious action film, "3 Days to Kill" will let you down but if you are looking for something predictable and light, it might be just what you are looking for.