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Midnight Cowboy (1969)


Midnight Cowboy Poster

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

 

Midnight Cowboy is a supposed classic that I figured was about time that I watched to see for myself.

The film is about a wannabe cowboy named Joe Buck (Jon Voight) from Texas who moves to New York City to become a gigolo.  Joe becomes friends with a sick and crippled con man named Ratso Rizzo.  Both men struggle for survival living on the streets.

Midnight Cowboy Hoffman Voight

The film was directed by John Schlesinger and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Sylvia Miles, Bob Balaban, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Ruth White, and Jennifer Salt.

This movie did not really seem like it would appeal to me.  The only reason I wanted to watch it was to see Hoffman and Voight before they were really famous.  It didn’t look good and the storyline didn’t interest me at all.

I hated this movie.  It was terrible.  That might annoy some people because somehow Midnight Cowboy managed to win 3 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  But, I don’t care.  Midnight Cowboy was a joke.

Midnight Cowboy Hoffman

The only decent things about the film were Dustin Hoffman’s performance, the scenery of New York City in the 1960s, and the movie’s theme song “Everybody’s Talking at me” by Harry Nilsson.

The rest of the film was stupid, messed up, a little disturbing, and most of all, pointless.  It is the misadventures of two low-life wannabe hustlers.  An uneducated man travels across the country on a bus to prostitute himself.  It does not sound good and it is not good, plain and simple.

Midnight Cowboy Voight Hoffman bar

True Grit (1969) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) were both far more deserving of an Academy Award for Best Picture that year.  The fact that Midnight Cowboy won is a travesty.

I rate this movie a 1 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  RUN!

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Happy Birthday to Meryl Streep


Meryl Streep

Happy Birthday to Meryl Streep!  The actress turns 64 today.

The Manchurian Candidate 2004 Streep

Many consider Streep to be one of the greatest actresses of all time.  She is not my favorite actress by any means, but I have enjoyed many of her films.

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My favorite Meryl Streep films are Marvin’s Room (1996), Before and After (1996), and The Manchurian Candidate (2004).

Before and After Streep Neeson

Streep has been nominated for an Academy Award 17 times and she has won 3 times.  She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and also for The Iron Lady (2011).  She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).  She has been nominated for an Academy Award more times than any other actor.

Meryl Streep Oscars

Zombieland (2009)


Zombieland Poster

Zombieland (2009)

When I saw Zombieland for the first time, I was absolutely shocked at how much I loved it.  A friend had recommended it and I watched it shortly after it came out on DVD.  I went into it knowing nothing at all about the movie and it caught me completely by surprise.

Zombieland car escape

After a zombie apocalypse, there are few human survivors remaining.  Zombieland follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) as they fight their way through zombie-ridden America in search of safety, solace, and Twinkies.  They run into Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) along the way and their journey gets bumpy.

Zombieland Group

Zombieland put Jesse Eisenberg on the map.  The only other movie that I had seen him in before was The Village (2004) and at that time I had no idea who he was.  His performance in the film blew me away.  He proved that he had the power to carry a movie by himself and when he teamed up with Woody Harrelson, it was priceless.

A year after Zombieland, Eisenberg was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing the part of Mark Zuckerberg in the film The Social Network (2010).  He has since been popping up all over the place with Now You See Me (2013) (also with Harrelson) coming out later this year.

Harrelson was tremendous.  He played a great tough-guy and yet he was hysterical.  Not many people can pull off that combination.  On screen you could really tell that he had a lot of fun with his character.

Zombieland Harrelson Banjo

My friend who recommended the movie to me actually dressed up like Tallahassee for Halloween because he loved the character so much.

Zombieland also served as a big stepping stone for Emma Stone.  She was very likable in the movie.  Like Eisenberg, she became super popular after Zombieland came out.  The only difference is that she was already a little popular from a few previous roles.

Abigail Breslin didn’t need a stepping stone.  The youngest of the group, she had already earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006).  Zombieland served simply as a tool to further her acting career.  She was only 13 when she made the movie, but she held her own along with the rest of the cast.

Zombieland Stone Breslin Ride

Bill Murray has one of the best cameo appearances that I have ever seen in a movie.  It was completely random and hilarious.

Amber Heard also has a small part in the film.

The film was directed by Ruben Fleischer.  Fleischer has since directed Eisenberg in 30 Minutes or less (2011) and Stone in Gangster Squad (2013).

Zombieland is a comical masterpiece.  It has already become a cult classic and has recently spawned a TV show.  It is a movie that I could watch over and over again.  The film is not so much about zombies as it is about the camaraderie between the main characters as they try to survive among the living dead.  It is a hilarious thrill ride that will keep you laughing all the way to the end.

Zombieland zombies

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)


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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

The poster for the movie says, “The Greatest Manhunt in History.”  It should have said, “The Greatest Waste of Time.”  The running time of the movie is 157 minutes.  They literally could have cut the running time in half and told the same story and it actually might have been entertaining.

Zero Dark Thirty Strong

The movie is about the 10 year long “Manhunt,” capture, and killing of Osama Bin Laden after the attacks that occurred on 9/11/2001.

We all know by now that the fact that it took America 10 years to find Bin Laden and kill him is an absolute disgrace.  Of course, it was a great thing when it finally got done, but it sure took us long enough.  Zero Dark Thirty plays on that fact.  The movie is a very long, drawn-out depiction of the steps that we took to finally track down America’s Most Wanted and destroy him.  The film isn’t a decade long, but it certainly tries to feel that way.  It is so boring and slow at times that I wanted to turn it off at a number of different points.

Zero Dark Thirty Dark Chastain

The other thing about this film is that it is hard to tell how factual it really is.  It is based on a true story, but do we really know all of the facts?  Unfortunately I think that people will watch this movie and assume that it is 100% accurate.  How do we know the truth about what happened?  A lot of the information about the “Manhunt” is classified.  How will we ever know the real truth?

The film tried so hard to be this big epic movie.  It failed quite miserably as far as I am concerned.

Zero Dark Thirty was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Sound Editing.  To me, that is so comical.  It shows that the Academy has truly lost its mind to even nominate such garbage in the first place.

Zero Dark Thirty Chastain

This movie was almost as far away from Best Picture as you can get.  The acting was mediocre at best, especially Jessica Chastain’s performance.  Not even close to top notch.    The screenplay was very un-original.  They took a story that everyone in the world knows about and turned it into a screenplay.  That is not original in my book.  There were so many unnecessary scenes that could have been cut out of the movie that it was a complete disgrace to filmmaking.  The editor should have been fired, not nominated for an Academy Award.

I’m glad that the movie only won an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.  It was better that it didn’t actually win.  It technically tied with Skyfall (2012) for Best Sound Editing.  Skyfall should have won.  I don’t know what is more embarrassing for Zero Dark Thirty, the fact that it was nominated for 5 Academy Awards and only won 1 of them or the fact that the only one that it actually won was a tie for Best Sound Editing.

Maybe the movie only got so much recognition because Kathryn Bigelow directed it.  Her film The Hurt Locker (2008) was very solid and was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won 6 of them.  That film made her the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director.  Were the Academy Award nominations for Zero Dark Thirty just a sort of blue ribbon recognizing Bigelow for her participation in trying again?

Bigelow had no support from her cast which most notably includes Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Reda Kateb, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Harold Perrineau, Jeremy Strong, Mark Strong, Edgar Ramirez, James Gandolfini, Stephen Dillane, Frank Grillo, and Joel Edgerton.  Maybe the cast was not of much help because their characters had way more than enough time to develop, but they never really did.

Zero Dark Thirty Chandler

Kathryn Bigelow was in way over her head when she decided to direct Zero Dark Thirty and it shows.  The film is a steaming pile of cow dung.  The only decent part of the movie is when they showed Seal Team Six raiding Bin Laden’s lair.

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I recommend staying as far away from this movie as possible.  Save yourself a precious almost 3 hours of your life and don’t watch it.

I rate this movie a 2 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Run.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


silver linings cover

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

A solid, raw, dysfunctional drama that felt real. It was refreshing to see a movie in the theatre where the actors were actually given the opportunity to act. Instead of relying solely on special effects or action, this movie relied only on acting and story. It did not disappoint.

Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver were all superb. The film was so well scripted that is felt believable. But, it only felt believable because of how wonderfully it was portrayed on screen by the actors. The chaos and craziness and drama were there all the time and it was a treat to watch.

silver linings dance

Even though Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are 16 years apart in real life, their chemistry together in the film made that unnoticeable.

Although this film is classified under the drama genre, I classify it under my own made up genre: dysfunctional reality. It also could be called dysfunctional drama or true drama. It is a genre that some people are afraid of because it is too real. The stories that belong to this genre are too honest and true to life. Usually the dialogue is very realistic to the point where it doesn’t feel written; like it has to be real because nobody could have come up with it.

silver linings bradley

In a great line from the movie, Bradley Cooper’s character says, “I don’t have a filter when I talk.” To me, that is a perfect line for this movie because true to my made up genre, you can’t write this stuff. He is not filtering what he is saying as if he is reading from a script. He goes with his gut, with his instincts, and the words just flow.

I rate this movie an 9 out of 10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

silver linings cooper deniro