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.

Magic Mike (2012)

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh (he has directed numerous great films, but for me, his best work will probably always be Out of Sight, one of my Top Five Movies of All Time)

Written by: Reid Carolin

Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Adam Rodriguez, Riley Keough, Olivia Munn, Kevin Nash and Matthew McConaughey

What it’s about: a group of male strippers and their lives off of the stage

B-Movie Alternate Title: Magic Mike and the Boys

Movie Mash Up: Ocean’s ElevenDear JohnThe Full Monty

What I liked: Dammit, Channing Tatum is a charming and talented actor.  Every time I want to dismiss him as nothing more than a slab of meat that drives the ladies wild (“panty soup”), he  finds a way to deliver a line effortlessly and in a real fashion that appeals to the movie critic in me.  Olivia Munn’s boobs.  Hmm, what else did I like?  It was a good story, and one that will only make a heterosexual man more confident in his sexuality, because there is a lot of gyrating, and naked, oiled dude torsos and if that doesn’t do ANYTHING for you, this movie will confirm it for you.  Not that I was in doubt, mind you.  The movie looks gorgeous as well, and feels alive, compared to Soderbergh’s Haywire which didn’t really.

What I disliked: All the oiled dude torsos.  Nah, that was just part of the story (and I watch WWE every week, so I’m fairly desensitized to it), but yeah, the story is a fairly bit predictable, enjoyable though.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure.  Seriously, dudes, suggest watching it with a lady friend of yours and they will probably throw themselves at you.  Or at least they will in the screenplay I am going to write.

Rating: 4 / 5

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Generally speaking, movies about the inner workings of Hollywood and how fake the industry is usually don’t too well at the box office.  Sure, they’ll be critically acclaimed and such, but for the most part it seems that audiences don’t care about how movies are made, they just like the movies.  And most audiences like terrible movies.  How else can you explain a painfully average and boring film like Avatar becoming the #1 grossing movie of all time?  The championing of mediocrity and the higher cost of 3D movie tickets I guess would also be completely plausible reasons, but in my opinion it was just catering to the marketplace, and the market loves unchallenging shit.  Anyways, rant over, let’s talk about Tropic Thunder.

Directed and co-written by star Ben Stiller, it’s a sorta spoof of the movie industry that touches on numerous topics.  Endorsement deals, revenue streams, awards baiting, method acting, contract riders, all those and numerous other topics are touched upon, in some cases almost too spot on.  Robert Downey, Jr. actually scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who performs in blackface for almost the entirety of the film.  There was no way Downey was going to win, as this was the same year that Heath Ledger’s phenomenal Joker performance in The Dark Knight was released.  Still, props to the Academy for legitimizing that role of Downey’s.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the plot of the movie, because you’ve probably heard about it by now, and it just comes across as preposterous.  The strength of the movie is in the performances, and actors knowing their role and playing to it.  Stiller’s character of Tugg Speedman is probably the most on-the-nose role in the movie, and if he wasn’t surrounded by an able supporting cast, honestly, the movie wouldn’t be as good as it is.

As it stands, it’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it is highly enjoyable and one that certainly lends itself to multiple viewings (do yourself a favour and watch it with Downey’s commentary at least once, the man is a national treasure).

3.5 / 5

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)

Did the world really need a new re-imagining of “A Christmas Carol”?  I say nay, but I control nothing, so instead Ghosts of Girlfriends Past makes a staggering $102 million worldwide and movies like Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang fly under Joe Multiplex’s radar.  It’s really not fair to compare those two films as they are vastly different but dammit, I just read that total gross and was furious!  FURIOUS I tell you.

One of the most off-putting aspects of GFs Past is that at least two of the ghosts aren’t exactly ghosts at all, unless Emma Stone’s character died some weird death that was 1) unexplained or 2) glossed over because who wants to think about that when we’re putting Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner together! or 3) she wasn’t exactly dead but that would require more exposition.  Fuck exposition in a rom-com!

I don’t know what to tell you, the leads pull off their parts alright, some of the supporting cast are decent, and some are probably embarrassed to have been roped into the movie, but hey, MONEY!

2 / 5

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

Sometimes I watch movies knowing nothing about them other than the fact that they exist.  This is one of them, and so it was with disbelief that I watched the cast list at the beginning and saw that both Matthew McConaughey AND Josh Lucas were in it.  Finally, I would have definitive proof against my own theory that they are in fact the same person.  Yes I know, they don’t look very much alike or sound exactly the same or anything, but I had never seen them together in the same room and they are so similar that it was disconcerting to me.

The joke was on me though, since every scene they were in together (and there weren’t that many, Lucas shows up about halfway through the movie or later) seemed orchestrated to not provide concrete evidence that they were different people.  It was like someone made a movie with them both in it but then set up scenes so it was like the original Parent Trap where the characters were on opposite sides of the screen and you could almost see a seam down the middle of the screen.  It made me think that most of the $40 million dollar budget was used for effects to continue to carry on the illusion that these were, in fact, two different people.  They never really physically interacted when both of their faces were onscreen at the same time, either!  I know, you don’t care about my lunatic theories, but I remain unconvinced.

The movie?  Oh yeah, it was surprisingly decent in my estimation.  Again, I knew nothing about it going in, and had thought for a minute that it might be a genre picture about Abraham Lincoln after he passed the bar and the alternate American history that would create.  McConaughey is a dashing leading man, even though at times his character definitely seemed greasy.  Loads of name actors in this too, most of them just doing some good character acting.  It’s almost a crime that “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston was in the movie for about five minutes, but again, that’s the part.

Ryan Phillipe used my genuine dislike of him to great advantage, pulling off his role of being the accused criminal quite well.  Everyone else I’ve tagged for this movie had decent bit parts, some bigger than other, but this film – aside from McConaughey – is essentially an ensemble courtroom thriller.  Well-made too.

4 / 5