It’s probably no surprise to anyone who regularly reads my blog that I’m doing this post. After all I have reviewed many movies starring Jennifer Lopez and spoke about how gorgeous she is. So it seemed right to do a post wishing her a happy birthday. She was one of the first crushes I ever had and that continues to this day. Jennifer Lopez turns 47 today and is going as strong as ever with both her music and movie career. Happy Birthday Jennifer Lopez.
Out of Sight
- George Clooney as Jack Foley
- Jennifer Lopez as Karen Sisco
- Ving Rhames as Buddy
- Steve Zahn as Glenn Michaels
- Don Cheadle as Maurice ‘Snoopy’ Miller
- Albert Brooks as Richard Ripley
- Dennis Farina as Marshall Sisco
- Luis Guzman as Chino
A sterling crime romance, with lashings of humour tossed in, Out of Sight as directed by the great Steven Soderbergh is an eccentric, adroit and sexy movie that is filled with unpredictability and wit. Sparkling and burning chemistry between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez forms the electricity of this sizzling Elmore Leonard adaptation that is fast-paced and riotously entertaining.
Jack Foley is a bank robber who rather than using weapons or force, employs his wit and considerable charms to make off with money. But his good luck changes when he is finally arrested after the car he was trying to get away in stalls. Sentenced to a long jail sentence, Jack quickly plots an escape with his right hand man on the outside Buddy, and proceeds to piggyback on another escape by a group of fellow prisoners. While breaking out of prison, it is witnessed by tough federal marshal Karen Sisco, who Jack and Buddy are forced to kidnap so she doesn’t raise attention as they make a getaway. Locked in the trunk with each other, Jack and Karen find a strong sexual pulse between them, despite them being on different sides of the law. Now while there is an obvious heat, Karen still takes the time to escape when the occasion arises, using Jack and Buddy’s unreliable tag along thief Glenn to help her unwittingly after he meets them half way through the journey. Jack and Buddy continue on in their journey to Detroit in their plan to steal uncut diamonds from a prisoner they both knew who foolishly spoke of his stash of riches, but smooth Jack can’t stop thinking about the chance encounter with Karen and for her the feelings are reciprocated despite her better judgment. She remains on Jack’s tail, while wrestling with whether she wants to bring him in or sleep with him. Meanwhile, the always stoned blabber mouth Glenn had also been mixed up with the vicious and mercurial ex-con Maurice ‘Snoopy’ Miller, who also wants to get the diamonds for himself and is not above cold-blooded murder to do so. With both groups of criminals vying to achieve this big score, and with Karen and Jack finding their feelings for each other getting stronger, how will all of this mayhem come to a head and what will become of them all? To spoil that would be a big sin, but I’ll say that things get eventful extremely quickly.
Steven Soderbergh has to be one of my favourite directors out there and with Out of Sight, it’s a dazzling display of his talent that represents one of his finest hours. Playing with intricate flashbacks that establish character motivations, a fine balance between romance and amusing action and some very cool freeze frames, Soderbergh is on fire here for all of us to witness. He clearly relishes directing this flick and imprints his highly visual sense of storytelling on the hard-boiled but witty plot; making sure that it isn’t overly goofy and employing sudden moments of violence to add to the sense of danger already generated first by the attraction between Jack and Karen. One of the standout scenes for me is the trunk scene; bathed in red and intimately shot which acts as an unusual first date under strange circumstances that sets in motion the dangerous fire between Jack and Karen, as they make conversation and discover an inescapable mutual desire. The other standout us the inter cut one between Jack and Karen as they flirt and play with fire, while in corresponding shots undress and give into passion against a snow-covered backdrop of Detroit. Out of Sight moves at such a quick pace that brings out the enjoyment and devilish thrills, but thankfully doesn’t sacrifice character development or amusing banter. A witty script has the lines and rapport between characters held to a high standard the whole way through Out of Sight, giving it another impressive weapon in its arsenal. A seriously groovy and retro flavoured score brings the entertainment and right mood to Out of Sight, imbuing the film with a slick and cheeky sound and atmosphere.
George Clooney is an irresistible screen presence as the laid back Jack, who can charm just about anyone but meets his match in the curvaceous form of Karen. Clooney owns the cool persona of the character and it’s impossible not to be taken in by this guy and his smile. Jennifer Lopez delightfully spars with Clooney, crafting Karen as a tough, sassy but with a touch of humour character, trying to decipher what to do with Jack once she catches up with him. And you can’t ask for a better chemistry than the one that Clooney and Lopez share here, which is supremely hot stuff. Dancing a dangerous tango akin to a sexy game of cat and mouse, as their loyalties and ideals get in the way, they form a sensual centre to Out of Sight that ignites the screen with a seductive flame. Ving Rhames has some hysterically funny lines in his performance as Jack’s right hand man and criminal with a conscience Buddy, who is baffled by Jack’s infatuation with Karen as it poses jeopardy to their plan. A scene stealing Steve Zahn appears as the permanently stoned hapless thief, who desperately wants to be hip but fails almost all the time. Decked out in dark sunglasses(even when it’s night) and an array of shaggy coats, Zahn has real fun playing this character who joins the rogue gallery of colourful characters found in Out of Sight. Don Cheadle has the right manic tendencies and off the wall personality to play the crazed Snoopy, who is someone you really don’t want to get mixed up with. Filling the other eccentric and amusing characters with style are Albert Brooks, Dennis Farina and Luis Guzman, who show customary greatness in their respective supporting roles.
Stylishly directed by Steven Soderbergh( in my view this is one of his best movies), exceedingly well cast and executed with the right amount of humour and thrills, Out of Sight is energetic movie making that burns with sexiness and colourful events that ensure you won’t forget it in a hurry.
- Jennifer Lopez as Terri Flores
- Ice Cube as Danny Rich
- Jon Voight as Paul Serone
- Eric Stoltz as Dr. Steven Cale
- Jonathan Hyde as Warren Westridge
- Owen Wilson as Gary Dixon
- Kari Wuhrer as Denise Kalberg
- Vincent Castellanos as Mateo
A gleefully nasty and exciting horror/adventure, Anaconda isn’t going to win any prizes for superlative film making or emotive writing. But that isn’t what the film is all about, it’s about surrendering to the gloriously tongue in cheek horror and on that score it registers at a high rating.
Terri Flores is a director of documentaries who thinks she’s nearing a big break. Her latest expedition is down the Amazon River to find proof that a legendary Indian tribe known as The People of the Mist has not vanished and is far from forgotten. Joining her on a boat down the river as part of her film crew is her anthropologist love interest Dr. Steven Cale, good friend and cameraman Danny Rich, the snobby English narrator Warren Westridge, sound engineer Gary, his production manager girlfriend and Mateo, the captain of the boat. Along the way in their journey, they pick up Paul Serone, a mysterious Paraguayan man who is stranded on the embankment and makes his living capturing snakes. He claims to have knowledge over where the fabled tribe is and travels with them down a new route to where he says they reside. Serone manages to put everyone on edge with his unusual ways and slimy appearance, most of all Cale who catches him out on a number of lies. Yet before he can act upon these suspicions, he is stung by a wasp that gets caught in his swimming gear when he’s sorting out something under the boat and as a result, he is rendered unconscious. The odious and crazed Serone takes charge of the boat and his true diabolical motives are quickly revealed to all. He is forcefully using the crew as bait so he can hunt the famed and very dangerous 40-foot anaconda. And sure enough, the giant snake is soon on the attack, crushing anyone in its way before swallowing them whole as its next meal. As Serone slips further into psychosis in his hopes of capturing the predator, it’s up to Terri and the others to fight against the giant snake as it picks through the crew very quickly, leaving a blood soaked carnage in its wake.
Luis Llosa’s direction is efficient and while nothing particularly special, still retains a feeling of suspense and adventure. Llosa understands that the material within Anaconda is not meant to be taken seriously and he acquits himself well in this respect, while still giving some good gross out scares and disquieting deaths. A misty visual style, capturing the Amazon Rain forest setting and its dangerous splendour as well as frenetic camerawork helps the film go at a quick pace that keeps chills and dark laughs coming thick and fast. Chief among these moments is the creepy shot of the approaching anaconda slowly digesting a victim that we can see the impression of the terrified face and an attack scene of the snake snatching one of the crew as they jump from a waterfall. It must be said that the script is rather simple and dialogue nothing revelatory in terms of character development, but with so many thrills going on, does it really matter? Now it must be said that the main antagonist of the film the killer anaconda is something people are divided on when it comes to the film. The creature is rendered through both animatronics and CGI, and it must be said that the execution is more than a bit hokey. If they’d gotten rid of the CGI it could have been more memorable, but when the animatronics is on show, as ropy and often laughable as it is, it adds a B-movie quality to this already slightly goofy film. While Anaconda is an exercise in tongue in cheek horror, it doesn’t scrimp on the suspense and scares, brought out through a very good score that heavily features drums growing quicker as the giant snake makes its presence known in a very threatening way.
Jennifer Lopez makes for a grounded and very tough lead in the film, doing battle as much with her smarts as her fists. She works well alongside Ice Cube, who plays the smart ass and sarcastic cameraman Danny. Jon Voight turns in a performance of extravagant hamminess as the utterly maniacal Serone, who has no qualms about using his rescuers as potential food for the eponymous snake. Sporting a shifty ponytail and dodgy attempt at a Paraguayan accent, Voight’s performance sails over these questionable aspects with evil glee and serviceable menace that is just right for this kind of movie. And he really knows how to turn on the slimy factor and lather it up to levels of psychopathic overdrive. Eric Stoltz has something of a heroic nature about him in the beginning but when his character is incapacitated, he is is required to do very little. There is also of note an amusing Jonathan Hyde as the pompous actor clearly out of his depth when it comes to survival because of his fussy ways. The rest of the cast, consisting of Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer and Vincent Castellanos are purely in the film to be snake bait for the ferocious anaconda.
A somewhat daft but very exciting and thrilling horror, Anaconda if seen in the right way is as a slithering creature feature in a B-movie style makes for a good way to kill an hour or so and doesn’t require nary a speck of brain power.
An Unfinished Life
- Robert Redford as Einar Gilkyson
- Morgan Freeman as Mitch Bradley
- Jennifer Lopez as Jean Gilkyson
- Josh Lucas as Sheriff Crane Curtis
- Becca Gardner as Griff Gilkyson
- Damian Lewis as Gary
As well trodden and predictable the story may become, An Unfinished Life gains points and clarity from the uniformly excellent cast and depth from direction that give it something extra. This movie was quickly dismissed upon release, but although more than a little formulaic, it is worth a watch for emotion and heart.
Einar Gilkyson is a Wyoming rancher whose business has gone downhill ever since he lost his son in a car accident and he ended up hitting the bottle. He still has some work to do, but these experiences have made him shut off and become bitter. Living with Einar is his best friend and former rancher Mitch, who a year prior was mauled by a bear and has still not fully recovered from his deep wounds that have left him with difficulty walking. Einar takes care of Mitch, yet when it comes to everything else he is gruff and distant. The two live their lives on the ranch with differing perspectives; Einar is angry at the death of his son and has never really dealt with it properly, while Mitch is genial and with regards to his encounter with the bear has moved on and is trying to live what is left of his life happy. Things change when Einar’s daughter in law Jean arrives with her daughter Griff, that Einar had no idea existed. There is bad blood between Einar and Jean as Einar blames Jean for surviving the accident that claimed his son, whilst Jean has tried to remain strong but has now fled from her abusive latest boyfriend Gary. Needing a place to stay, Einar reluctantly allows them to live with him. Although awkward at first, through the kindness of Mitch towards Griff, Jean’s numerous tries to reconcile and the little Griff’s attempts to break through to Einar, wounds that have festered begin to wane between Jean and Einar as they finally have to confront their fears and grief. Einar soon begins to open up more, but danger could very well be on the horizon with the bear that mauled Mitch back and the psychopathic Gary looking for Jean.
Now while some of his directorial flourishes go a bit mawkish, Lasse Hallstrom at least invests An Unfinished Life with a moving centre, offset by the occasional bit of humour as the souls of the character slowly heal. I liked the sense of immediacy and closeness that Hallstrom gave the film and the brisk pace he employed, that let events unfold with a quickness that never gets rushed. It must be said that a lot of the story is nothing particular groundbreaking in terms of drama and more than a little it can get a bit overly sentimental and the script gets clunky. Yet somehow the film works and while not particularly original, it tells the story in an efficient way that doesn’t squander any of the emotions within it. This story is of healing and learning to let go and its observations of these key themes is well orchestrated and directed. There are some lovely bits of scenery to be found too, with the trees and winding roads of rural Wyoming being lushly photographed and lensed with skilled assurance. A country influenced score charts the gradual emergence of Einar coming into a sense of acceptance and brings a wealth of emotion to An Unfinished Life.
A talented cast brings a poignant sense of emotion, soaring above the sometimes formulaic story. Robert Redford reveals a gruff and cantankerous exterior for Einar as someone who doesn’t want to open up but really should. There’s a sadness to Redford’s delivery that is clouded with anger and the actor really shows off his talent here as Einar is forced to finally comes to terms with the events that he couldn’t deal with before. Morgan Freeman is dignity and quiet strength personified playing the injured Mitch, who refuses to let pain get in his way of being positive and supporting Einar. With gravitas and an amiable smile, Freeman is reliably brilliant in this touching role. Jennifer Lopez is natural and stoic as Jean, who is both afraid and determined to remain strong and find some common ground with Einar. It is her role that forces the shift from Einar’s grief to recovery and Lopez plays it very well. Josh Lucas is the weakest of the cast as he is saddled with the rather uninteresting role of the sheriff who takes a liking to Jean. The role is one that doesn’t give him a lot to work with and it suffers from a lack of scope. The young Becca Gardner has the right amounts of charm and resonance for the part of Griff, who wears down her grandfather’s tough shell and lets him live again. And exuding menace and relish for possession is Damian Lewis, as the controlling and abusive ex boyfriend of Jean’s that can’t let her go.
It stumbles into schmaltz at times and is never going to be the most inventive film put out there, but with what it has, An Unfinished Life is a moving story of learning to let bygones be bygones and begin to live once more.
- Sean Penn as Bobby Cooper
- Jennifer Lopez as Grace McKenna
- Nick Nolte as Jake McKenna
- Powers Boothe as Sheriff Virgil
- Billy Bob Thornton as Darrell
- Claire Danes as Jenny
- Joaquin Phoenix as Toby N. Tucker
- Jon Voight as Blind Indian
A movie that caused a mixed opinion on release, U Turn is actually a head-spinning mashup of noir and dark comedy, wrapped in the guise of a fever dream. This wont be every viewer’s cup of tea, but is inventively strange and overripe with a cast willing to surrender to the baffling weirdness present.
Bobby Cooper is a gambler and two-bit criminal who is driving down the highway to Las Vegas to pay off debts to the mob. Armed with the money, Bobby wants nothing more than to settle the deal and be on his way. His unlucky streak has other ideas as his car breaks down and he’s forced to enter the town of Superior, Arizona. Now to say that this place isn’t a dust bowl and populated by some of the strangest people on Earth is a lie, as Bobby discovers the strange and dark ways that these people live by and how he just wants to leave. The local mechanic Darrell takes delight in annoying him with his obnoxious and unscrupulous ways that test Bobby’s patience no end and his day just goes from bad to worse from then on. A robbery at the local convenience store deprives him of the money he needs to pay of gangsters and puts him in a deadly situation. It’s at this point that the darkness increases with the introduction of seductive Grace McKenna and her brutal, older husband Jake. Grace entrances Bobby with her teasing ways and gorgeous beauty. While Jake makes him an offer that is very tempting but could be tainted. Jake asks that Bobby kill his flirty wife and a lot of money could come his way. Now while Bobby is no saint when it comes to criminal acts, he is more than a little hesitant to commit murder. Yet in a dire situation, what is he supposed to do? Complicating this twisted web is Grace seducing Bobby and bringing him into her plot to have her husband killed and make off with his hidden millions. More encounters with the unusual residents( such as the ditzy nympho Jenny and her short fused psycho boyfriend Toby N. Tucker, as well as a sheriff that is always skulking about) of Superior unnerve and annoy Bobby as he attempts every conceivable way to leave, yet seems to be thwarted at every turn. In need of money quickly and desperate to get out of the creepy town in at least one piece, he is left with either the plan to kill Grace or kill Jake; both of which could get him the stashes of money he craves. Let’s just say that events will go south and very bloody for all involved in this dark neo noir/ black comedy that just brings new meaning to the word weird.
I must say I found U Turn refreshing as it showed me a different side to Oliver Stone’s film making. From what I’ve viewed of his work, he is adept at directing films that confront issues and politics in a very well done way. But I enjoyed seeing him let loose and revel in the darkness of the story and the hazy world of unusual individuals that Bobby finds himself in and tries to inexorably escape from. This isn’t one of Stone’s movies that is addressing any big ideas, but he gives the film a real stamp of his through demented events and weird happenings; all captured in a style highly reminiscent of an acid trip, complete with rapid fire editing, grainy styling and overlapping scenes. Stone is firing on all cylinders here, finding twisted comedy and lurid deceit in the neo noir story at play and obviously having fun with it. You see as much as U Turn is a crime film and noir, it is also something of a black comedy, and let me not forget that Stone tips his hat to the western genre in the setting and some of the tone. It isn’t funny is a way that many people will traditionally laugh at, instead finding humour in disquieting events of which many are so wildly over the top that you will gasp as it basks in perverse glory. Now while U Turn is an underrated surreal film, it’s not without flaws. The main one is the pace growing slightly stale in the middle stretch of the film and your interest could very well wander. The sheer abundance of visuals being thrown at us gets at times a bit bloated, yet there is hope as both flaws are rectified by an electric and twisting final part of the film that redeems whatever flaws came before it. A superlative score that skilfully crosses between the humour and brutality of the film is provided by the great Ennio Morricone, who shapes the score with unusual cues and melodies to further put us under the spell of the hypnotic and surreal events unfurling.
I really enjoyed watching the cast of great actors and actresses put into all these whacked out situations and give it their best shots, all making an impact in some way. Sean Penn is effective in the role of Bobby, who is something of our anti-hero in this strange odyssey. Penn rightfully does make Bobby a really likable guy, instead showcasing his arrogance and intolerance. Yet he imbues the character with a growing sympathy that is hard to forget as he endures the hardships of the crazy town and the murderous plans he is sucked into. Jennifer Lopez sizzles as the femme fatale Grace, lulling Bobby into her devious plans for money. Yet unlike some actresses that just make the temptress role just seductive and nothing else, Lopez excellently brings forth a damaged and saddened side to the character that makes it something different to the usual deadly lady. Granted she is still seductive and dangerous, but it was a bit refreshing to see another interpretation of the femme fatale role. The appropriate nastiness and sleaziness is brought to the table by Nick Nolte as the brutish Jake, who growls his way through life with violence never far away. Then there is Powers Boothe, who appears to be the one decent law-abiding citizen in town, but who may be far from it. A devilish and unrecognizable Billy Bob Thornton turns in a memorable performance as the disagreeable grease monkey that gets more testing to impatient Bobby as the film goes on. With his ragamuffin appearance and sneering smiles, Thornton just adds even more weirdness to the proceedings complete with grimy humour. Claire Danes and Joaquin Phoenix more than gamely play their roles of the floozy with a naive attitude and her petulant, man-child boyfriend. Both stars find ridiculousness and humour within both of the loopy characters. Jon Voight appears as a blind shaman, who talk philosophically to anyone that will listen and is actually pretty spot on about an upcoming carnage that will be brutal.
It does have its moments when it gets a bit much and the middle half drags, but taking all of that into account, U Turn represents an underrated film by Oliver Stone that puts weird into a whole other dimension with editing, good performances and the noir atmosphere tinged with black comedy.
With me reviewing Angel Eyes that starred the talented Jennifer Lopez in today, it got me thinking about how much I admire her and her career. Combining acting and music, she really is a show stopper. Below is a song by her sung in Spanish that I have always had a soft spot for and hope you enjoy too. Plus it makes me want to brush up on some of my Spanish as I love the sound of the language. Please leave your opinions on this Jennifer Lopez post as I like to hear all of your feedback.
- Jennifer Lopez as Sharon Pogue
- Jim Caviezel as Catch
- Jeremy Sisto as Larry Pogue
- Terence Howard as Robby
An unusual romantic drama that has enough touches to set it apart from others, despite some shortcomings, Angel Eyes comes out as surprisingly engaging and heartening, in no small part due to the acting work from the main cast.
Sharon Pogue is a Chicago cop who is as tough as they come when patrolling the dangerous streets. Yet beneath her armour like facade, she is actually vulnerable, embittered and somewhat broken. Most of this stems from tensions with her family, in particular the fact that she had her abusive father arrested years before for beating her mother. Ever since, this has driven a wedge between Sharon and her mother, brother Larry and father as they saw what she did as a betrayal. Also receiving news that her parents are renewing their vows and that brother Larry has also been abusive towards his own wife, Sharon is completely at a loss and attempts to channel her anger into her work, though it often spills over. Meanwhile, a quiet young man known simply as Catch wanders the streets doing good deeds for people without any clear reason. Catch comes into contact with Sharon at a crucial moment for both of them. Sharon is chasing down a thug and is nearly killed, only for Catch to step in and save her life. Grateful to the stranger for saving her life, Sharon attempts to get to know Catch as a feeling of romance begins to rise. Yet every time she thinks she’s getting closer to understanding him, Catch pulls away and shuts her out, hiding a mysterious past that he won’t speak of. The same can be seen within Sharon who while wanting him to open up, still needs to exorcise her own baggage to be truly honest. The hitch is, can a relationship ever truly blossom if neither of them will open up and let feelings in? Can by baring their souls they finally connect and benefit from the other?
There is a sensitivity to Angel Eyes that slowly reels you in and while some it gets a bit pat and filled with schmaltz, Luis Mandoki( through clear-eyed and assured direction) still keeps us watching and adds some good touches of mystery to proceedings, particularly in regarding Catch’s mysterious past. Although a romantic drama, when Angel Eyes begins it plays with audience expectations of what it could be and teases many things. A thriller, a cop drama or something more fantastical are all references, before it settles into an unconventional romance. Something about the way the film does this and wrong foots you impressed me as it kept it more than a little fresh. The two main characters are very well-developed and shown to be damaged and riddled with psychological scars and torment that is mutual between them. The question is not so much will they get together, it’s more a case of will they open up and face their demons, creating something a little different from the formulaic romantic dramas that are often released. It must be said that the script has a few shortcomings, with some dialogue being a bit forced and unnecessary, but thankfully the heart of Angel Eyes covers up these cracks and embellish some of the flawed parts of the movie. Ambiance is created through a Marco Beltrami score that sprinkles events with a dark undertone yet still filled with an emerging hope.
At the centre of Angel Eyes there is a surprisingly effective and moving performance from Jennifer Lopez. I’ve said it in the past that for all the bad movies she has made, when given the right material, she can really show her talent and in Angel Eyes, her talent is on display portraying the shut off Sharon. Exuding a steely and fierce attitude when in company of others, but showcasing a vulnerable and bruised pain, Jennifer Lopez gets us to sympathise with Sharon. As Sharon’s feelings for Catch grow, Lopez delves into how she wants to open up and now more about him, but must also work through her own demons along the way. If you have only ever thought of Jennifer Lopez as a glamorous pop star, then prepare to be taken by surprise by her natural and mature performance here. Creating a tentative chemistry with her is Jim Caviezel, who nails the haunted mystery of Catch and his good Samaritan tendencies without becoming overly saintly. Through his eyes, Caviezel says so much yet keeps a distance to shroud him in secrecy as Sharon attempts to break through his high walls. Jeremy Sisto does his best with the role of Sharon’s abusive brother who appears to be following in his fathers footsteps, while Terrence Howard is wasted more than a little as one of Sharon’s police friends. Then again, it’s the main characters that matter and with good work from the main two, Angel Eyes gets by.
Although there are clichéd moments and some let downs within it, Angel Eyes benefits from sincere performances from the leads and an added touch of depth and some mystery that makes it watchable and something a bit different.
Another gif post has arrived and this one is about bodies. Or more precisely bums. I’ve always heard a lot of people say that they’re least favourite part of their body is their bum. So I thought, wait a minute, everyone should embrace their bum no matter what. Have confidence with your money maker. I hope this post gives people inspiration to love their behind.
And here are some sexy gifs for you people to shake your bums to.
For Eric, we have Melissa George’s pert rear and his man crush Matthew McConaughey with his ass on show.
For the wonderful blogging sister of mine Emma, here’s a bit of Michael Fassbender.
For the exemplary Kim, we have her beloved and very peachy Matt Bomer.
And as it wouldn’t be a bum post without her, here’s Jennifer Lopez.
- Jennifer Lopez as Catherine Deane
- Vince Vaughn as Agent Peter Novak
- Vincent D’Onofrio as Carl Stargher
- Dylan Baker as Henry West
- Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Dr. Miriam Kent
A visually disturbing and unique film, but also hollow and poorly plotted, The Cell is sometimes its own worst enemy in terms of what it wants to be. It may boast the occasional moment of understanding, but you just get the feeling it could have been so much more if differences were made to it.
Catherine Deane is a psychologist who deals with cases of comatose patients. Through an unusual and high-tech treatment, she can place herself in the mind of the patient and try to connect with them, in the hoped of coaxing them out of their coma. The FBI enlists her services when Carl Stargher, a serial killer falls into a coma after kidnapping his latest victim. Carl keeps his victims in a confined cell in an unknown location that eventually fills with water to slowly drown them. Carl after killing them commits atrocities to their bodies and crafts the women into human dolls. With Carl now in a comatose state, the whereabouts of his latest victim are not known and Agent Peter Novak wants to save the woman before it is too late. Catherine agrees to enter Carl’s mind in order to discover where the latest victim is. Yet she is not prepared for what greets her when she enters his mind. It manifests as disturbing images from his childhood in which his father routinely abused him and strange visions of the adult Carl who delights in graphic and sadistic murder. While trying to stop herself getting too involved with the increasingly bizarre visions and discerning herself that it is all not a reality, Catherine becomes lost in this dangerous dreamscape believing it to be real. Now caged in his mind along with Peter who ventures in to help her, she must find a way out before her time runs out.
If The Cell was purely judged from a visual standpoint, it would be a masterpiece. Director Tarsem Singh knows how to shoot these vivid and very disturbing journeys into Carl’s warped mind with style and verve. Striking and unusual images abound: a horse is cut in half and its still beating heart is shown, the walls of a palace become the cloak of Carl as a king, Catherine imprisoned in a gravity defying cage and also being dressed in unusually restrictive clothing as a fantasy figure. The list could go on about how amazing the film looks, it’s a shame that the plotting, pacing and writing could have been much better. Singh has a craft when it comes to the fantasy and horror aspects, but his grasp of pace and other things isn’t as deft. In the beginning, The Cell just meanders along for big stretches and only really comes alive when Catherine enters into Carl’s twisted psyche. Character development among the supporting cast and Vince Vaughn’s character is almost non-existent and none of them are really that interesting. As I mentioned earlier, The Cell doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It feels like a three-way cross between a thriller, horror and dashes of fantasy. And while I have nothing against the melding of genres together, The Cell lurches from one to the other without a care and it just makes the film feel messy. At least there’s a Middle Eastern infused score from Howard Shore that compliments the haunting cornucopia of imagery and keeps the plot going despite the flaws of it.
Jennifer Lopez, while not being the first person to spring to mind in playing a psychologist, actually brings warmth and sympathy to her underwritten character. Lopez must also get credit for the amount of convincing fear she portrays when she is entangled in the dreams and memories of Carl. Vince Vaughn tries his best but is saddled with such an uninteresting character, that he can’t really register anything of memory. The real acting highlight of The Cell is Vincent D’Onofrio. Bringing his considerable hulking and physical presence to the role, he delves into the disturbed mind of Carl and gives us the child in a man’s body who has no idea of right and wrong due to the horrendous abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. When you finish this film, it will be D’Onofrio that you will remember. Dylan Baker and Marianne Jean-Baptiste are given absolutely nothing to do as fellow psychologists and their inclusion adds up to nothing.
So for all the audacity and visual impact, The Cell doesn’t add up to an excellent movie.
The Boy Next Door
- Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson
- Ryan Guzman as Noah Sandborn
- John Corbett as Garrett Peterson
- Ian Nelson as Kevin Peterson
- Kristin Chenoweth as Vicky Lansing
I must say before I go into this review that I sometimes don’t mind derivative movies full of clichés. As long as they’re entertaining I can accept some of the flaws within them. The same can’t be said about The Boy Next Door, which is clichéd as hell but not at all thrilling or riveting in the slightest.
Claire Peterson is an attractive English teacher with a teenage son Kevin. She is currently in the process of contemplating divorce from her unfaithful husband Garrett. Her best friend and fellow member of school staff Vicky attempts to fix her up with various dates, but none of them are to any avail. While she is attempting to make a decision about her precarious marriage, her next door neighbour’s handsome nephew Noah Sandborn moves in. The charming Noah seems to be a nice guy who helps Kevin out with school bullies, is well versed in the literature that Claire teaches and cares for his ailing uncle. He begins to flirt with Claire, who sees it as harmless and somewhat flattering. Yet after she gives into passion and sleeps with him, events begin to take an unexpected turn. While she dismisses their sexual encounter as a mistake, the young Noah takes the situation to obsessive and terrifying heights. What started as a mistake soon grows into violent consequences as Noah descends into full-on psychosis and begins to terrorise Claire and all of the people close to her. As this reign of terror becomes more disturbing and increasingly warped, Claire must find a way to survive before it’s too late.
As mentioned earlier, I can forgive some clichéd movies with a repeating formula if they entertain me. But to say that I was entertained while watching The Boy Next Door would be a major lie. The whole thing for lack of a better word is a failure. It is supposed to be a terrifying thriller, but any thrills that I tried to conjure up where laughably bad. I can say the same thing about the script which is littered with hopelessly awful dialogue that will make you cringe more than once. Rob Cohen’s uninspired direction does the movie no favours and could have been better. This is the kind of film in which characters make ridiculous decisions that are dumb and really stretch credibility. Another thing about The Boy Next Door is that it feels at various times to just be an excuse to see Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman in states of undress. The camera ogles Lopez’s curves and breasts whenever it can, while also taking in the sweaty muscles and peachy bum of Guzman in a scene in which he takes a shower with the curtains open. Not that I have anything against that, but the excessive display of flesh doesn’t make this movie any more watchable. The score attempts to be creepy with choral voices but is way off the mark.
Jennifer Lopez, when given the right material, can be a very capable actress. The opportunity to use her talent is completely wasted in this endeavour, as her character makes some really misguided decisions. She is still as sexy as ever, but her gorgeous presence can’t save this messy movie. Ryan Guzman may have some charm as Noah, he just can’t quite flex his acting muscles that convincingly when showing Noah’s obsession with Claire. Then again the character is so badly written no one could have brought any credibility to it. None of the other roles of John Corbett, Ian Nelson and Kristin Chenoweth are really memorable and are merely superfluous.
All I have left to say is avoid The Boy Next Door at all costs.