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Rating History

Fighting (2009)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I'll admit it - I really wanted to not like this movie. I will say this - if the film was trying to present an accurate portrayal of "life in New York", it didn't accomplish that mission. The New York in this film is too bright, too violent, at times too large and at times too small. The sheer number of times, early in the film, that the characters "bump into" one another is just silly. Channing's character just happening to bump into his small town rival in a city as titanic as New York is just as unbelievable as the rivalry that drives them.

Channing Tatum turns in a pretty entertaining performance as a small-town nobody, with little education, trying to make his way in the "big city". Despite itself, this movie actually ends up a pretty good watch, if you turn off logic for a while and just enjoy the ride. Where does it fall flat? Almost every plot element feels contrived and forced. Channing's character meeting his "rival", almost by serendipity, early in the film left me completely cold. I didn't care about the back story between them because I got the sense it was silly - and it was.

Where the movie really shines, however, is in the interactions between Channing and Terrance Howard, and Channing and Zulay Henao feel very authentic, unscripted, and almost voyeristic. Peeping into the budding relationship between Shawn and Zulay was actually far more interesting than the rest of the film. Further, Terrence Howard really takes over the film as a self proclaimed "2-bit hustler" that is torn between wanting to see his protege succeed and wanting to "get that money". It's fascinating, and it's a tragedy that so much time was invested in the fights that there wasn't more time spent exploring these relationships. When the movie ends, you almost wish the movie had really started about a half hour ago and you could immerse yourself in the rest of the story. Unfortunately that portion goes unseen and we're left to wonder what kind of movie "Fighting" could have been with someone else at the helm.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This film is just more proof that professional critics live in a bubble and don't "get it". The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is smart, subtle comedy that takes a few viewings to truly appreciate.

I loved Bill Murray as Steve Zissou. I love the growth that his character undergoes through the film. Near the end, he says to Jane "I said those things. I did those things." Which to me represents the ultimate moment of self-awareness for the vain but subdued narcissist Steve is portrayed to be.

Bill clearly "got" the character of Steve in the same critics don't "get" Wes Anderson's work. Also, I loved the silly, over-the-top, slightly fantastic element that ran as an undercurrent through the film. The tour of the Belafonte, the wildly colorful and impossible sea life (culminating in the elusive Jaguar Shark), and the non-sequitor twists of fate that befall the crew all turn the film into a work of art. I think the denoument at the end, in the submarine, is one of the most emotionally charged moments in cinema that I've ever seen.

All in all, I think there's a clear distinction between those that really feel what Wes Anderson is trying to say, or those that don't. Somewhat like Terry Gilliam, there's some etherial quality to his films that you either vibe with or you don't.

The Dark Knight
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The Dark Knight falls very short of being the "great" movie that I hoped it would be. It successfully paints Batman as an anti-hero, but it takes so long and does it in such pompous style that by the end of the film I had lost interest.

Heath Ledger - as you may well have heard - carries this film. While Christian Bale's Batman is busy being over the top, and Two-Face is busy being useless to the film's plot, Heath's Joker is one of the best interpretations of the character I've seen in a long time - either film or print. The film doesn't spend a lot of time on a contrived "origin story", letting Heath craft the character as the movie progresses. We learn about him by his actions, not by some long montage sequence that explains in painstaking detail exactly why he does what does. THAT part of the film, at least, is great. That part of the film transcends.

The rest of the film, however, simply serves as a vehicle for Heath's brilliant execution. Maggie Gyllenhal is the only other person that manages to light up the screen and hold her own with Heath's Joker.

Lastly, the movie runs a bit long and suffers from Spider-Man 3 syndrome - introduce a seemingly major character and relegate him to minor status as part of a useless subplot. The Two-Face character could have been spun into a second movie worthy of his status as one of Batman's direst and most emotionally charged foes. In comics, Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne have a deep friendship, making Batman's attempts to "save" Two-Face all the more poignent. In the movie, however, we lose a lot of that emotional punch, and the film writes off Two-Face completely in a very unsatisfying way. Even taken on it's own, Two-Face's treatment is baffling at best.

The Dark Knight was a loud, expensive visual treat, with a powerful storyline. It made a ton of money. It's the "go-to" film for any comic fan wanting to ease a non-fan into the genre. However, I don't think, in ten years time, we'll be talking about The Dark Knight with the same emphasis that we are today. Legacy aside, however, it was enjoyable to watch once. Isn't that all that matters?