Tag Archive for Drama

Vincent Wants to Sea

Directed by: Ralf Huettner

Written by: Florian David Fitz

Produced by: Viola Jäger, Harald Kügler

Starring: Florian David Fitz, Karoline Herfurth, Heino Ferch, Robert Gellner, Katharina Müller-Elmau

Language:  German with English subtitles

Run Time: 96 minutes

 

Did you hear the one about the man with tourette’s, an anorexic woman and the guy with ocd?  No? Well there’s this guy with tourette’s, an anorexic woman and a guy with ocd who escape a mental institution. They steal their psychiatrist’s car and drive from Germany to Italy to dispose of a tuna can filled with the ashes of tourette’s guy’s mom.  On the way they have adventures, find love and of course escape the evil psychiatrist and tourette’s guy’s grumpy father.  It all sounds like a bad joke, which it very well could be, but it’s also an award winning movie in Germany.  Vincent Wants to Sea isn’t as bad as the joke sounds but it isn’t anywhere near what an award winning masterpiece should be.

 

The big problem with Vincent Wants to Sea is that the characters aren’t consistent, aren’t believable and worst of all, are extremely predictable.  Vincent’s (the guy with tourette’s syndrome) tics aren’t uncontrolled and in fact only come at a time when the movie demands it.  Instead of having random movements or outbursts throughout the film, his symptoms all but disappear during parts of the movie and reappear when it’s comedic and convenient.  It’s the same way with Marie, the anorexic girl, who really shows no symptoms of her condition aside from being thin for most of the movie.  Marie’s silly, has lots of energy and a great sense of humor which doesn’t really seem very realistic for a girl who’s supposedly so starved her body is about to fail.  Sadly, the potential that lies in all of the characters is largely ignored and instead is turned into a common parody of what their mental illnesses are.  The lack of in depth character development is understandable though; after all, if the characters seemed somewhat real it would transform a feel good drama into a cringe-worthy comedy.

 

The soundtrack is another huge piece of the puzzle that makes the movie seem extremely scripted.  It follows the same formula of bland cheesy music at all of the right times that you’d see in any chick flick or trendy drama.  As soon as the intro starts you can queue the acoustic guitar and the bad lyrics sung by a middle aged man in Birkenstocks that plays on light rock stations.  Again, the music reflects a striking lack of originality and uses the very same themes that are used in hundreds of other movies.  Perhaps the reason why all of the song’s lyrics are in English is to fool a German audience into thinking they aren’t as bad as they are but that’s just a theory.  All theories aside, the music just reflects the current trend that’s seen in romantic movies and as pleasurable as it is to some listeners; still offers nothing new or innovative to the film.

 

Vincent Wants to Sea does have a redeeming quality, namely the scenery photography. The landscape shots are breathtaking and indeed make the viewer want to retrace the steps of the characters in the movie.  Even though there are some goofy shots, one where all the protagonists sit on a cross overlooking a mountain, the fact remains that there is real natural beauty captured in the film.

 

Just looking at the poster of Vincent Wants to Sea, where Vincent is standing with his back turned to the camera and looking at the ocean, says exactly what kind of movie it is, a feel good drama.  The viewer knows just by looking at the poster that there’s going to be love, some silly comedic moments and of course a long journey complete with bonding and healing so in the end it doesn’t really disappoint.  Vincent Wants to Sea seems as if it was meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator of audiences who are looking for more of a good time instead of a realistic emotional story.  The characters are all likeable and charming but aren’t dysfunctional enough (unless it’s convenient that is) to actually merit them being in a mental institution in the first place.  Vincent Wants to Sea is a goofy, stereotypical, easy to vegetate to movie and is therefore pleasurable to watch as long as you don’t expect anything new or groundbreaking.

 

(5.3/10)

A Little Help

A Little Help

Directed by:  Michael J. Weithorn

Written by:  Michael J. Weithorn

Produced by:  Joe Gressis, Dena Hysell

Starring:  Jenna Fischer, Chris O’Donnell, Kim Coates, Mel Kaminsky, Lesley Ann Warren, Brooke Smith, Aida Turturro, Rob Benedict

Run Time:  108 minutes

 

There’s a parallel universe in which every actor who you kind of know the face but forgot the names all joined forces to make a super vaginal (that’s a term from the film) movie where every aspect is completely over emotional and pointless.  The writing is so amazing that it actually raises the viewer’s psychic abilities to where they’re actually able to predict the future an hour in advance. While this movie should be considered an embarrassment for all of the people who were involved in the making of it, personally I love it, even if it’s for all of the wrong reasons.

 

A Little Help revolves around a mother, Laura, as she tries to cope with the death of her sweaty husband (almost all of the characters perspire a little bit too much) and her fat untalented son who makes the kid in Two and a Half Men look like a Shakespearian actor.    Now this all sounds well and good but since this a part of Indy Fest we all know that her family has to be completely dysfunctional and overly dramatic.  Throw in a little bit of lost love, nagging sisters, kids that should have been aborted and overly feminine men  in the mix and you have one of the most typical and uninteresting stories known to man.

 

As you can probably guess from the description of the story, it’s safe to say that all of the characters are either mind numbingly bland or completely enraging.  For instance, Laura’s son Dennis is literally annoying to the point where you would actually be able to justify his own mother drowning him in a bathtub for the greater good of mankind.  Of course Dennis isn’t the only fresh new child actor Zach Page, Kile in the film, who fills you with fantasies of slamming your fist into his teeth like any character from Street Fighter 2 would do to a Nancy boy and knocking his Joan Jett haircut clear off of his girlish head.   Then comes Paul Kiles Dad(who also came up with the vaginal line), played by Rob Benedict, who lovingly watches his sons god awful emo band as he dances like a teenage girl.  Paul is the grisliest of the girly men with his V-neck t-shirt, cool shorts and flip flops.  Now that I look back at it, there isn’t one character who I liked in this movie.

 

A Little Help kind of reminds me of a small ugly animal, like Sam the Chinese Crested Dog, which you know you’re supposed to hate but it’s just so ugly and fun to insult so you’re forced to love it for its flaws.  I could spend the whole night making comments about how bad every aspect of the movie is; it’s just so much fun to complain about.  Of course most people don’t go to movies to insult them so this may not be the best film to see in theaters with those overly serious and deep Indy types or art aficionados but then again I don’t think they’d enjoy the film as much as the people with a personality would.  If you do decide to watch this film, be sure to bring a friend who will actually enjoy being a jerk while you watch instead of sitting there with a dumb beret, miserably trying to figure out some deep meaning to the movie.

 

(6/10)

 

The Tree

 

 

Directed by: Julie Bertuccelli

Written by:  Judy Pascoe, Julie Bertuccelli, Elizabeth J Mars

Produced by:  Sue Taylor, Yael Fogiel

Starring:  Charlotte Gainsbourg, Morgana Davies. Marton Csokas

Run Time: 100 minutes

 

The Tree is like going to a friend’s house where the only entertainment is their toddler playing with Legos.  The box that shows what’s supposed to be built, maybe a car or robot, looks like it could be interesting but as you watch the child build, all that’s there is a square which doesn’t resemble anything close to what it could be.  The toddler throws away the head of all the interesting characters minutes after opening the box just like the film does where all the characters (two of them) with a personality are tossed aside.  The Tree is entertaining for the first few moments while you try to figure out what could possibly happen but in the end nothing is created.  The Tree can be described in three words: “Waste of time.”

 

Most people would think that a movie about a woman who loses her husband would be a film about self discovery and healing her broken family but there’s nothing remotely resembling that in the movie.  Instead, The Tree feels more like an episode of The Family Guy where random events happen but they aren’t really funny.  Instead of a plot there’s just moments which are supposed to give the viewer some sense of a story.  Due to the lack of plot and story the viewer is left with little or no emotional investment in the characters which is a huge problem if the viewer is looking for a memorable film.

 

The story itself is supposed to be about how the main characters husband dies (you may notice that I’m not using the characters name.  This is done because she’s so bland that you forget it anyways) and his spirit comes back to live in a tree.  The husband, whatever his name is, (who could have been an interesting character if he didn’t die at the beginning) was perfect in every way.  He was handsome, took care of the family and the best lover on earth as we learn in a pointless conversation right after he dies.  All of his good traits must have died with him because the tree that his spirit inhabits just causes problems throughout the film and at one point even falls through the bedroom of his forgettable wife after she connects with another man.  Of course a guy as great as him wouldn’t want his family to move on or find happiness, he wants to cling to their misery and ruin their lives.  The whole concept is just plain stupid and worst of all, doesn’t make sense when you take into account how perfect the husband’s character is supposed to be.

 

Even the photography and imagery only enhances the blandness of the movie.  The color tone of the movie is dull and there’s little of no color in the film which doesn’t make it enjoyable to look at.  There are some parts of the move where the director puts in some imagery which just looks horribly cliché.   The biggest example of the imagery is the wilted flowers on a nightstand of the woman’s bed when she’s depressed.  The only image that does stick in one’s mind is how many teeth the main character has in her goofy smile and that’s something nature did, not the director.

 

The saving grace for The Tree is that the actors all do an excellent job in their roles which makes the movie watchable instead of complete garbage.  As unmemorable as the characters are, they’re not badly acted so it’s difficult to hate the film for all of its flaws.  Given the story, even an Oscar winning actor couldn’t make this film worth watching so look for the two main actresses in other films which may actually make use of their ability in a noticeable way.

 

The Tree isn’t really worth watching unless you have absolutely nothing better to do.  It’s the kind of a movie that you’d watch if the dvd was there and you need some background noise while you figure something else out to do.  Personally my advice to you is, if you must watch this movie, wait for the film to come out on dvd then watch the first 10 minutes to get the basic plot.  After you’ve grasped the basic idea, fast forward to halfway through the movie and watch it again for another 10 minutes so you’ve caught up on the story.  Finally fast forward to the last 10 minutes of the movie so you can see the ending.  Watching the movie this way may sound like you’re going to miss a lot but the plot you come up with for yourself as you put the pieces together will be much more interesting and rewarding than the movie could ever be.  If there was any justice in the world, The Tree would be shipped out to the slums of India where it would be at home with all of the other things that no one cares about.

 

(4.5/10)

Brooklyn's Finest

Brooklyn's Finest

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Written by: Michael C. Martin

Produced by: Elie Cohn, Basil Iwanyk, John Langley, Avi Lerner, John Thompson

Starring: Richard Gere. Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

Run Time: 132 Min

The best way to accurately describe Brooklyn’s Finest is every bad cop movie rolled into one film, with all of the personality, intrigue, comedy and likable characters sucked out of it. Brooklyn’s Finest offers nothing but stereotypical characters, bad dialog and a story that’s so predictable that the ending wouldn’t catch a 5 year old off guard. Now some people would describe this story as a tragedy but in all of those memorable stories and plays there’re actually characters that the viewers like. When you make a movie it’s important to remember that in every story you need to have a protagonist that the audience can identify with but that basic fact was forgotten by the writer Michael C. Martin. You’d think that since this really is a story about 3 police officers, that at least one aspect of the story characters would be interesting but Brooklyn’s Finest strikes out each time.

The story starts out with Sal, the bad cop, talking to a man who explains the “righter and wronger” reasons why people do the bad things (which may be the plot of the whole movie). The writer of this movie would like you to believe that Sal is a good guy who’s in a bad position in order to justify his actions but that doesn’t really stick. The problem with Sal is that he’s just a dumbed down version of an interesting character. His whole story revolves around his poor family that lives in a house with wood mold in the walls which endangers their health. Sal already has 2 children and has twins on the way because he isn’t smart enough to use birth control when he already can’t support the kids he has. Since a police officer can’t make money by taking side jobs or working overtime; the only solution to Sal’s problems is for him to rob drug dealers and to buy a new house with the fruits of his labor.

Things to look for in Sal’s story:

His confessional, he talks to a priest about how he needs help from god.

The lamest poker game scene in a movie ever made.

Next we’re introduced to Tango, the undercover cop who’s in way over his head. Tango is the closest we have to a likeable character but he still falls short in that department. After a short stay in prison, where he gains street cred, Tango’s back on the street tasked with infiltrating the cities inner city gangs posing as a drug trafficker. The stress of working undercover starts to effect his view of the world and his job to the point where he’s worried he’ll become a criminal himself. His boss gives him a deal where he can get off the street but he has to get evidence about a man who saved his life while he was in prison, leaving him struggling between loyalty and his desire to leave the undercover life behind.

Things to look for in Tango’s Story:

He’s in too deep maaaannnnnn.

The shady FBI woman.

His friend dies as a result of their drug dealing.

His supervisor gives him a “This is what you wanted” speech.

As if two lackluster characters weren’t enough, enter Eddie, the 22 year police veteran who’s about to retire in 7 days. Eddie is quite possibly the most useless and uninteresting cop character ever created. His own boss tells him that he’s basically a failure and Eddie only proves that to the viewer throughout the whole movie. In his first scene, Eddie wakes up and puts his revolver in his mouth but the gun doesn’t go off as he slowly pulls the trigger back(later we learn that he doesn’t keep his gun loaded). How lame is that? Why would anyone care about a boring, unmotivated depressed police officer who isn’t even man enough to shoot himself? It’s pathetic. You might be thinking to yourself that since he’s suicidal, he’s going to end up proving himself in some blaze of glory that will make up for having to watch him for 2 hours but, even in his shining moment at the climax of the movie he proves himself to be quite frankly, worthless and unexciting. Maybe the audience is supposed to be moved by his staring into space and walking away from conflict. Eddie is one character whose role would be better left in a garbage can next to the writer’s desk.

Things to look for in Eddie’s story:

The stupid look on his face which makes him look like he’s constantly in deep thought but we all know he’s completely useless.

He’s assigned to teach a rookie cop the basics of the job but the rookie course messes something important up like all rookies do.

His only love is from a hooker who doesn’t even want him.

He can’t even kill himself.

The presentation of this whole movie is horrifically bad. Throughout the entire movie there’s always some dramatic music playing which is meant to emphasize the internal conflict that the characters are supposed to have. If you can get past the music, you’ll have to deal with the story itself which is full of holes and defies logic. Even if by some strange miracle you can stand the story, the characters come to your aid and quickly ruin anything that’s likeable left in the movie. Just for a bit of overkill, if you try look past all of the flaws with the music, the main characters and the bad story the writer has an ace up his sleeve: all the supporting actors who are all rip offs of characters in better movies.

Brooklyn’s Finest is the worst cop movie I’ve ever seen. There’s absolutely nothing original or interesting about the characters and while the writers should be sued for plagiarizing every aspect of the story from better movies, they even manage to ruin the stereotypes we’ve grown to love over the years. Even the ending to the movie was disappointing. Why this movie is getting a 7.4 rating with 3353 votes on IMDB mystifies me. We all know how the movie ends, all the characters end up in the same place at the same time. If you want to watch a cop movie you’d be safer going on Netflix and renting Lethal Weapon, where the suicidal cop does something exciting, or Dirty Harry instead of a two hour long bore fest like Brooklyn’s Finest.

(1/5)

The Unit

Directed by: David Mamet, Vahan Moosekian

Written by: David Mamet, Daniel Voll, Frank Military, Todd Ellis Kessler, Sharon Lee Watson, Lynn Mamet

Produced by: David Mamet, Shawn Ryan, Vahan Moosekian, Daniel Voll, Frank Military, Todd Ellis Kessler

Starring: Dennis Haysbert, Regina Taylor, Scott Foley, Audrey Marie Anderson, Max Martini, Abby Brammell, Michael Irby, Bre Blair, Joss Grey, Robert Patrick, Nicole Steinwedell, Wes Chatham

Running Time: 4 seasons

When I first heard about The Unit I thought to myself, “great another piece of military propaganda being broadcast into my living room.”  I watched the first few episodes, with honestly a closed mind, looking for a reason, any reason, not to enjoy the show and the chance to indulge in an angry rant at the person who had introduced me to show.  As I made my way through the episodes a strange thing happened; I began to enjoy the show.

The Unit is a military action/drama show revolving around a secret Special Forces squad (modeled after Delta Force) with the same name as the show.  Covert missions, as one would expect, are a large part of the series but what surprised me most is how important that lives of the wives and children of the deployed soldiers were which gave the story depth and made the series much more realistic.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of The Unit was to see a story that wasn’t about how glorious the military is and instead focused on how difficult that kind of lifestyle can be on the soldiers and families involved.  The families are faced with knowing that their husbands and fathers are deployed on extremely dangerous missions with the fear that they won’t make it back home.  If not knowing when their loved ones will be safe; the families also have to deal with the low salaries that the soldiers get for risking their lives for their country, spousal abuse and affairs (which are common in the military lifestyle),  combined with having to keep their jobs a secret from everybody outside of the Unit.

Given the difficult lifestyle that the characters of the story have chosen to live; every character has to have a strong mental will and inner strength that one wouldn’t doesn’t see on regular television shows.  The characters, especially the wives, struggle to keep their family together while at the same time dealing with situations that are common in our normal lives.  The strength of the characters is shown most in the Blane family, where Jonas Blane, played by Dennis Haysbert, is charged with being the leader of the Unit and at the same time still manages to a powerful father figure and a positive role model which is hardly ever seen in the mainstream media; especially involving characters of color.

In the end what we’re left with is an outstanding T.V. show filled with action, drama and a high level of realism which enables the viewer to suspend their disbelief.  The show isn’t perfect and personally I’d have liked to see more of the shadier and darker sides of the missions that our military routinely engages in on a regular basis.  While this show isn’t for everyone; if you’re a fan of stories about the military, this show is as perfect as it gets on network television.

(4/5)

Bones


Produced by: Kathy Reichs

Written by: Hart Hanson, Kathy Reichs

Starring: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne

What do you get when you cross snarky women forensic anthropologists, a former army sniper trying to make up for his past by working for the FBI and dialog that would make sane any man leave the room?  You get the first few episodes of Bones.

Bones is basically a version of CSI geared towards women.  The main character Dr. Temperance Brennan, nicknamed Bones, is the world’s premier expert on forensics, an expert in martial arts, a famous novel writer and an orphan too which is all made clear within the 20 minutes of the first episode of the series.  With all of the education and knowledge that Bones has you’d figure that she’d have to have some flaws and we aren’t disappointed with her inability to communicate with regular people which leads to hilarious and totally “unpredictable” situations which are totally predictable.

Every strong woman needs a strong man and that’s where Special Agent Seeley Booth comes in.  Booth is witty, cocky, and handsome and of course street smart which makes him the perfect counterpart for the socially inept Bones.  Booth’s past, where he was a sniper, makes him a man’s man but that doesn’t stop him from being sensitive too.  In fact, if Booth was any good at marketing he’d have a picture of himself smiling on a stick of Secret deodorant:  “Booth, strong enough for a man but made for a woman.”  Since he is so charming he’s already got a hot lawyer girlfriend which of course won’t last long since it wouldn’t be a happy ending if Bones doesn’t get her man.

After about five minutes of watching Bones it became apparent that I would have to take notes so I accurately list all of my problems with the characters and writing on the show.  A criminal could only be so lucky to have this team of crack detectives investigate them.  While the gritty stuff behind how the criminal was found was interesting, namely the forensics, the lack of due process and how the evidence was collected would be enough to nullify the cases in the real world.  Bones doesn’t let a meager thing like a search warrant stop her from getting her man but instead adheres to the end justifies the means philosophy.

Here’re some other problems I had with the show:

  1. The use Elmer’s glue to rebuild a shattered skull.  For some reason that doesn’t seem right.
  2. Stereotypical Arab suicide bombers.  This series is released by Fox but they could at least put effort into the terrorists.  Why would one bomber sabotage and blow an accomplice up which would draw attention to their plans before they’re carried out?
  3. Homeland Security officials don’t understand that DNA can be used to identify remains.
  4. One of the forensic team members can’t handle working with freshly dead bodies.
  5. Super forensic holographic technology which can create a perfect image of the victim with the push of a button which only their lab has.
  6. Bones repeatedly tells the suspect before they’re arrested details of the case which should kept confidential.  On one occasion, she lets an entire town know the details of the case.
  7. Did I mention the search warrant thing?  To the credit of the show, they did mention needing one to conduct a search about 7 episodes in.

Needless to say, the only entertainment I got from watching the first few episodes was making my list about the problems with the show.

Luckily by the fifth episode the writers must figured out that men wouldn’t watch the show the way it was and gave more of a focus to the forensic science and shifted away from the characters witty personalities.  Since Kathy Reichs, the producer of the show, is actually a renowned forensic anthropologist her input gives the science behind the show a realistic feeling.  Even though I didn’t care about the characters personal lives the science kept me entertained while I made my way through the episodes.

In the end Bones has a lot of flaws which I personally can’t overlook but I can also see how people, especially women, would like the show.  The scientific aspects of the show are very interesting, but the abilities and knowledge the characters have make them seem less than real.   The stories have many covenant conclusions where the main characters walk in on the criminals trying to cover their tracks because of some hunch they had.  Bones is the kind of show that you would watch because it’s on not because you particularly care about seeing it.  If Bones was a book, I could imagine finding it at a Laundromat next to a large pink laundry basket.

(2.5/5)