Average User Score: 7.3Jan 31, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. You see the Iceman crying? Once and a while I do like watching a raw mob movie.And when it's based on true facts then this is really a special treat for me.Not that I have the ambition for a career change in my personal life.Although you can foresee what it is about and the film is fairly limited in terms of content, I found this a damn excellent played film which captivated and intrigued me to the end. I have seen the interview of Kuklinski,but I didn't think it was that interesting.I thought it was really just an assassin working for the Mafia.However, the film shows that besides the fact that this was his daily job,Kuklinski actually performed these murders also for pleasure and perhaps as a retaliation. An ice-cold killer with a deadly twist in his sick mind. Actually, only the career of Kuklinski and the way he combined this with an apparently perfectly normal life as a family man to the outside world,is shown in this film. That is the only criticism I can come up with. It's only limited to that issue. The performances of Michael Shannon are truly extraordinary and admirable.He plays the cold-blooded psychopathic killer brilliant. First that imperturbable "Je mon fou" look and then turning into that cozy family man who looks in a loving way at his children. Terribly oppressive, terrifying and giving you the shivers. His natural stature helps him to create the image of an impressive Polish guy. It's obvious that thanks to his acting, the movie is lifted up to a higher level. A brilliant moment and a clarification that Kuklinski doesn't only kill people for a living, was the moment he asked James Franco to pray to God to see if He would come down to rescue him. Eventually he simply killed him.It was just a game for Kuklinski at that time and a clear and precise way to demonstrate his dominance. A face that never shows any emotion,except when things go differently than planned or the moments he feels insulted or indignant about someones actions. You can see the rage building up together with an inner gurgling growl. That's the moment when the beast in him emerges. Breathtaking ! The supporting cast is also beautifully complemented. Winona Ryder as Kuklinski 's wife was irrefutably perfect for this role. The moments when she begins to realize that something is not right and the mood swings are getting worse, are played superbly. She also looks fragile and like an angel. Especially when Kuklinski takes her in his arms. Ray Liotta was way better than in "Killing them softly". His scarred face with those icy eyes make him perfect material to interpret a mob boss. Calculated and insensitive. The moment where he has to liquidate Rosenthal was magnificent played.And yes, David Schwimmer performed to my surprise as the Jewish Rosenthal. I didn't recognize him immediately with that huge mustache and ponytail. But unfortunately he reminds me every time of Ross. The way he moves and the way he talks. Every time I expect him to talk with that slow depressed voice. But actually it didn't bother me that much.Ventimiglia fitted just perfectly in this movie and despite the limited role Chris Evans delivered a meritorious contribution. The content of the film was basically limited to the necessary things in Kuklinski's life. His recruitment by Demeo and the dirty work he does for him. His family life that he tries to protect and to shield from the rest. And finally his arrest. And that was for me a downer. For example, they only used 10 seconds to shed a light on the youth of Kuklinski. He grew up in inhumane conditions bearing inexpressibly physical violence. This short fragment shows how he is terribly beaten by his father. I think it's a missed opportunity they didn't use that item more. The fact that Kuklinski grew up in a totally antisocial environment with parents who really didn't give a damn about their children, partly ensured that Kuklinski degenerated into a violent person. Both his father and his religious mother regularly used physical violence. One of his brothers died cause of that. Afterwards he was even physically abused by nuns as an altar boy, and he was a victim of bullying. It was probably at this time that he has undergone a metamorphosis. Philip Carlo goes deeper in this matter in his biography of Richard Kuklinski "The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer".Kuklinski apparently brutally killed one of the bullies with a club and got rid of him with deadly efficiency. Kuklinski claimed that he then realized that it was better to give the punches then to receive them. Apparently the part about the youth of Kuklinski leaves a big impression on the reader. Unfortunately this is completely omitted in the film . Why wasn't there also a broader explanation about the developments in his eventual arrest ? For how long were the feds watching him already ? Which informants worked on the case ? How did they proceed to infiltrate Kuklinski 's world? And why wasn't there a m… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7Jan 26, 2014A simple and beautiful imaged coming-of-age story. The film is based on a novel by Rudolfo Anaya, an American author and one of the founders of modern Chicano literature. Antonio tells the story of him growing up in New Mexico under the watchful eye of Ultima, a curandera or healer. Ultima has knowledge about healing herbs. Most people see her as a person who possesses supernatural powers and cures diseases caused by evil spirits. Those diseases are believed to be a punishment from God. Others see Ultima as a kind of witch ( Bruja ) who can transform into an owl. Antonio accompanies her while she collects medicinal herbs. He visits with her the sick and begins to understand the connectedness of nature with the process of healing even though he never gets an explicit scientific explanation about the healingproces, how she casts spells onto witches or why she sometimes decides not to intervene.
Don't expect a flashy entertaining and action-packed movie. Despite the film proceeds in a sluggish manner while creating an image of this community in Guadalupe, the film was able to captivate me. I've never read the novel. So I can't judge whether the film follows the book to a great extent or not. The main part of the film shows the relationship between Ultima and Antonio. You notice immediately that there is a very strong link between those two from the first moment they have met. The fragments where Ultima passes her knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs to Antonio, are beautiful and very emotionally. The moment Ultima is on her way to heal an uncle of Antonio is actually a key moment. There is a curse on him by the daughter of a local resident named Tenorio Trementina. Eventually, Antonio faces a kind of exorcism, followed by the application of a kind of voodoo ritual.
The ongoing theme is Antonio's Christian faith that is developing, while being confronted with primitive rituals . The moment he celebrates his First Holy Communion and supposedly be one with God, he sees the chance to get an answer on a question about Narciso. The fact that he receives no response ensures that there is doubt about the whole Christian faith. The death of a boyfriend who disbelieves cause there's been done so much injustice to him, probably also has a big influence.
The acting of Ultima and Antonio by Miriam Colon and Luke Ganalon is excellent and credible. Colon is a female Mexican version of "Gandalf" with a strong personality despite her old age, and a furrowed, tanned face that radiates wisdom. However, the best player is Ganalon. Superb acting. The supporting cast is perfectly chosen.
So if you want to experience a zen-moment among all the other action-packed and exciting movies, then you should try this film.… Expand
Average User Score: tbdJan 25, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. "Rush Lights" is a mediocre movie and for once the design and interpretation are not really the weak point. The storyline however is terribly simplistic and looks like a regular TV series. Often it seemed like I was watching an old episode of "Matlock" or "Columbus" cause it was so average and uninspiring allmost during the whole movie. Then the unbelievable coincidences started to appear at a furious pace. I was just waiting for the next nonsense that they came up with.
The performances and the displayed images need no criticism. The town Tremo is a small village in the middle of nowhere in Texas. It's a dusty place and it seems as if time stood still there. You can still look at the horizon while standing somewhere on a hill and when you're standing at the wrong place where at that moment an old Buick or Cadillac is speeding away, you can be sure that weeks later the sand is still gritting your teeth. So visually it looks acceptable.
The fact that they managed to incorporate Beau Bridges and Aidan Quinn is a positive thing.There is no doubt about the experience that both gentlemen have, given their huge list of films on their resumé. They are also the only two compelling actors and stand their ground in this crooked story. Josh Henderson as "Bill" isn't out of place in this movie. As I said earlier, it looks more like an episode of some TV series. And that's exactly the kind of thing he has a lot of experience in. Usually, his acting was fine but at times it was quite hesitant and faintly. Haley Webb acting as "Sarah" didn't thrill me that mich. She looks absolutely stunning (besides the fact that she has such a weird crooked smile sometimes) but sometimes has a tendency to over-act. Despite their limited experience in feature films, they do ensure that their characters look credible.
Where does this movie actually fail? It's the storyline, the conduct and that stupid ending that screws up the overwhelmingly positive feeling I had about this movie. The initial setup is actually average. Billy and Sarah meet and start a relationship. It goes terribly wrong when a friend of Sarah dies from an overdose. It's a bizarre coincidence they look like twins and Billy comes with the brilliant idea to use that benefit and cash an inheritance of the deceased. After arriving in Tremo it turns out this is not so easy and some secrets from the past start to reveal themselves. And from then on it's just a series of astonishing facts.
Lets start with a little summary of some ridiculous things :
- To receive a plain simple postpackage here in Belgium I need to show my ID. So I'm pretty sure there is a bit more needed concerning an inheritance then just a quick check of the ID by a lawyer. And especially when it comes to an inheritance involving a significant value of real estate.
- The family lawyer turns out to be closer to the family than he expected. Ignorant as he was in all those years, he can understand the whole thing by simply reading a letter from the deceased rich man and recognizing the handwriting of his mother. And in a magical moment the plot is very very clear to him.- While Sarah and Billy are passionately kissing, a shotgun falls down on the floor, goes off and miraculously hits an unknown person standing behind the window.- A burglar loses in a clumsy way a DVD with compromising material on it. The recordings show that the rich guy had some kind of gay relationship with his bastard son (This part wasn't made that clear in the movie)
- Billy is looking in the yellow pages for another lawyer for a consultation. Turns out to be the lawyer the rich guy visited to change his will. What a coincidence.
- A dealer is chasing the two lovebirds to collect his money. At first he kind of get killed. I was sure about that after seeing the cloth he's wrapped in, completely soaked with blood. He's thrown in the trunk of the car and then still appears at the end to claim once again his money. But then the unfortunate fellow suffers a heart attack. Isn't life a **** ?
Probably there are even more of those facts that can be added to the list. So concerning the content it feels a bit plain and it seems as if they had a lot of ideas and possibilities after a brainstorm session and put them all in this movie. Too bad, because ultimately the visual part wasn't that bad.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.2Jan 21, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A long time ago every Saturday afternoon you could see an old movie on Flemish television.John Wayne,Danny Kay,Charlie Chaplin,Spencer Tracy,Mickey Rooney,Clint Eastwood etc. were seen weekly in a black and white or in those faded 60's Technicolor color movie.Regularly they played the old dance movies and musicals with well-known stars such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth , Gene Kelly, Samy Davis Jr.. and many others.All situated in the 20's with men in tuxedos and women who float around in expensive evening gowns and overloaded with glitzy jewelry.A paragon of wealth and decadence which was reserved for some at that time.So I saw a lot of them passing by on the screen while dancing the Foxtrot.My hate and disgust for anything that smells like musical,is grown in that period.I skip each musical or dance film purely for the fact that they always start to sing or spontaneously start dancing for every trivial fact.Pancakes are made and you can expect there is a serenade on this baking process.Or there is some ordinary shopping done in a local supermarket , and before you know it, everyone dances a waltz in between the vegetables.Pfffft,nothing for me.
TGG itself is not exactly a true musical or dance film, but the decadent parties that Gatsby is organizing are dangerously close to it. I expected every moment an alignment of women dressed in swimsuits, extremely precise in a row, making a jump in sequential order and with deadly precision into Gatsby's enormous garden fountain. And yet I didn't like the choice of music. It didn't really fit the whole of this movie. The beginning of the song by Jay Z (I thought it was him) mixed with images of New York and the display of wealth that some people possess , I found successful. But the music does not fit with the swirling parties afterwards . In some way it clashed with the picture what you got in mind. And personally I thought that the interpretation of "Back and Black" was a blatant violation of the sublime song of Amy Whinehouse despite that Beyonce has a beautiful voice.
I haven't seen any previous films directed by Baz Luhrmann. I only know Moulin Rouge and i obviously haven't seen that for the well-known reasons that I already described above. It took some effort to get used to that airborne camera images in the beginning, but on the whole, his approach is sometimes grotesque. It looked all magical and fairy-like. Several times it had such an effect that was used in ancient times to emphasize a love scene or some magical moments. Those hazy and shimmering shadows around certain images. It reminded me sometimes of the first "Wizard of Oz" movie. The imposing and monstrous looking mansion of Gatsby looked like it was in a direct competition with the castle you can admire in Disneyland. So exaggerated. So it all looks decent and is terribly perfectly portrayed. The glamour of those days splashes of the screen, but at the same time, it all looks so fake . The computer animation department clearly had to do an extra effort. In terms of costumes for the characters, this film is matchless. Ditto for the props that can be admired throughout the film. From the Oldsmobiles that drive around until the furniture. In one word: masterful .
Tobey Maguire I think is the biggest flaw in this movie. The fact that he's a person who has to get over his alcohol problem and tells his story about Gatsby to a psychiatrist or physician, and at the same time has the appearance of a pubescent student, makes the whole rendition of Carraway totally unbelievable. By the way, I still think that his acting ability is limited to the sometimes silly staring into nothing, with such a moronic smile on his face . DiCaprio also looks too young for his portrayal as Gatsby . In fact you may well expect that he would have a face that shows how difficult his live has been. But I think Leo does an excellent performance as the mysterious and extravagant billionaire . Maybe a bit too melodramatic . And the phrase "Old sport" does not fit completely with him. Besides it really started to get on my nerves after a while hearing him saying that over and over again. A disadvantage is that it takes a while before he comes into the picture and then Maguire needs to carry the complete movie. And that failed miserably . For me, Joel Edgerton , who played Tom Buchanan, was the best actor in this film . The bravado and arrogance that he displayed was beautiful to watch.
I don't think I've ever read Fitzgerald's book.The content is actually a plain simple love story . The run-up to the meeting with Gatsby, I liked the most in this movie when Maguire moves into the small house overshadowed by the immense castle of the mysterious Gatsby. Once this is over,it's really only a dull and ordinary love story and Maguire is relegated to a pathetic spectator of the flirting between Gatsby and Dais.
Actually I expected more from TGG.It's is a damn long, boring and sad movie.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.8Jan 21, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. In visual terms "Gravity" is overwhelming with those images of the Earth. The infinity and immensity of the universe is beautifully put into the picture . The insignificance of man in this intolerable environment gives you a constant tightness . However, I think that you only get that overwhelming feeling when you watch this movie in the cinema. On a normal LCD TV in the living room there's not much left of this space spectacle. And that's quite a damper on the expected experience because the story on its own isn't really that much of a deal. I think it's a great achievement to create such an entertaining film with this simple story and only two characters constantly on the screen.
I sat almost the entire movie on the edge of the sofa cause of the tension. The movie has a surprisingly fast pace. It's one situation after the other . But if you omit the stunning CGI and forget about the probably impressive 3D images , there remains nothing else than a boring tedious blockbuster. And they made such a big fuss about it. A big hype over nothing, my guess. Reading roughly through the remarks at IMDb I'm not the only one with that idea. I also found it disturbing that someone can be so unlucky in just one day . Chronologically all this happens: the shuttle gets hit by debris resulting in some casualties and one person (Bullock) floating in space, she's picked up again by Clooney , but is almost without oxygen , with his thruster pack they go on their way to the ISS , they smash into it and Clooney releases himself heroically to rescue Bullock, almost choking she enters the ISS , a fire breaks out and she has to disconnect the Soyuz , the Soyuz gets tangled to a parachute, the ISS is destroyed by debris , the Soyuz has no fuel , Bullock uses the burners for landing, she reaches the Chinese space station using a fire extinguisher , goes into the atmosphere , and even though she doesn't understand Chinese she lands safely by randomly pressing the right buttons. That's not enough though. She almost drowns also after the landing . It wouldn't be a surprise she'll never ever join a space trip again in her life.
Although the two main actors are not the least , they can't make the film look better. Sandra Bullock didn't convince me as being a scientist with high intellect . She looked more like a Miss America who won a space trip . Clooney was so extremely charming and gallant in space. I expected every moment that he would serve a delicious Nespresso. And then realizing that the making of this empty movie needed $ 100 million. They could have made a few better movies with that kind of money. And I won't mention the technical and scientific impossibilities as they are described by a NASA expert on Wikipedia. But OK, otherwise it would be a even more boring and dead serious flick .And it should be entertaining, not ? Unlike many other spectators, I didn't think the moment where Ryan starts barking and howling like a dog was ridiculous or silly.For me it was rather a touching moment.
Conclusion : a gem in imaging, but as space itself , it is an airless story. It feels more like a black hole… Expand