Killer Joe (2012)

Truth in advertising.

Truth in advertising.

Directed by: William Friedkin (I haven’t seen many of his movies, but I doubt they get much better than The Exorcist)

Written by: Tracy Letts adapted her own play to the screen

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church

What it’s about: a redneck family hires a killer to gain access to a life insurance settlement

B-Movie Alternate Title: The title it already has is pretty B-Movie as it is

What I liked: This is probably as black a comedy as it gets, and overall it isn’t even that funny, just slightly off-kilter and disturbed.  It has so many qualities of a B-Movie, but such powerful acting performances.  The entire cast deserved Oscar nominations in my book, mostly for how unflattering and brave their performances were.  Juno Temple is incredibly sexy, even as a white trash trailer park princess.  There are numerous stand-out scenes throughout, and shockingly a naked Juno Temple isn’t the most memorable scene in the entire film.  You just wait until you see Thomas Haden Church’s performance at the insurance building.

What I disliked: I didn’t necessarily dislike anything, but that doesn’t mean it deserves a 5-star rating.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: No,  it would be a hard movie to watch with company, let alone how skeevy you might feel watching it alone.  Very good movie, though.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Between this and Magic Mike, it is a goddamn crime McConaughey did not receive an Oscar nomination.

Between this and Magic Mike, it is a goddamn crime McConaughey did not receive an Oscar nomination.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I don’t even know how to go about starting this review.  Having just watched it, I feel both emotionally and mentally exhausted while at the same time thrilled and ecstatic over what I’ve just borne witness to.  The Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy is one of the greatest accomplishments in cinema history, not just for a comic book movie, because as I stated in my Avengers review, the Nolan Batman movies are above just being classified as comic book movies.  Despite attempting to avoid any and all spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises, I had read a Cracked article last year that had mentally prepared me for anything Nolan might have in store for us.  At least I thought it had.

When we last left Batman (Christian Bale) at the end of The Dark Knight, he had told Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) to lay the blame for Harvey Dent’s death at the hands of Batman, thus giving Dent a martyr-like status in the eyes of the citizens of Gotham City.  Between Dark Knight and this film, eight years have passed and Gordon has used The Dent Act to clean up Gotham with his police forces, as Batman retired to his secret identity of Bruce Wayne rather than be hunted.  Wayne has become a recluse, appearing to only communicate with his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) in regards to affairs of the outside world.  When an attractive cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) makes off with a Wayne family heirloom, something is awakened in Bruce and he begins to come alive again.  All the while, a cerebral and brutal villain by the name of Bane (Tom Hardy) concocts a plan to bring the city of Gotham to its knees.  Then there’s also Officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a hotheaded young man who comes to the attention of both Wayne and Gordon.

That’s as vague as I can get without giving away any surprises in the plot, but also identifying the major players.  As with many Nolan films, he brings back a lot of familiar faces in his casting, and just take a look at all the tags if you want to see identifiable names jump out at you.  A couple of them are minor spoilers, but not really surprises at all.  While I’m writing this review, I’m taking time to read the Wiki entry for Dark Knight Rises and it says numerous times that Nolan was unsure about coming back for a third film.  Nolan might just be a great actor himself, because there are certain aspects of the story that would suggest just the opposite: that Nolan had been planning the entire Trilogy from the very first film.

There are few movie trilogies that I have given perfect marks to all of the installments.  The Toy Story Trilogy is the only one I can think of off the top of my head, and now even that is going to fall by the wayside since apparently Toy Story 4 has been announced to be in production.  The Batman Trilogy is exactly that.  Nolan won’t come back to make a fourth film, neither will Bale, neither will any of the principles.  Even the way Rises ends should not fill people with hope for that to happen.

Everything in Rises is excellent in my eyes.  From the casting, the acting, the set pieces, the direction, the writing (minus a couple little things that I won’t go into here, and may just be inconsequential in future re-watchings), the action, all breathtakingly great.  During the opening sequence I was legitimately catching my breath, wondering if my nerves could handle the end of this storied franchise.  The sheer menace that Bane brings with him is astonishingly well-executed, and Hardy doesn’t let the mask control his acting.  Hathaway is probably the best Catwoman/Selina Kyle ever, because she’s not used as just a vehicle for puns.  Bale and his familiar cast mates deliver exactly what they did in the first two films, sheer awesomeness.

Better film critics than me will write more detailed reviews than I did, because mine just seems to be what ultimately can only be construed as nothing more than a Thank You note to Christopher Nolan and the team he put together for these three films.

5 / 5