‘Demolition’

Have you ever tried to put something broken back together again? How about a heart, stricken by grief. That may be what is happening in this film. That would explain a lot.

*This review contains spoilers.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper star in this film that may be better watched in a therapist’s office than in your DVD home theater.

demolition_poster

Demolition (2015)
Cast

Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper

Directed by

Jean-Marc Vallée

Written by

Bryan Sipe

Other Info

Drama
Rated R
1h 41min

I like most of Jake Gyllenhaal’s movies. They are usually a bit left of centre. Enemy was one of the strangest endings I’ve seen in a long time. I also adore Naomi Watts in just about anything she has starred in. The Impossible is one of my favorites. Chris Cooper is also a legend and a treat to watch. With all three of these in this film, you’d think it was an amazing piece of work, you’d think. There is a lot of fun going on here but, as is customary for Gyllenhaal, it’s odd fun indeed.

The story summary is as follows: Jake Gyllenhaal’s character is stricken with grief and apparently in denial after the death of his wife in a horrible car accident they were both in. Instead of grieving by taking off work and showing sadness, he decides to return immediately to work much to the dismay of his late wife’s father, played by Chris Cooper. It’s odd how he is so okay after the accident. What’s more, he seems preoccupied with the way things are put together. He is obsessed with taking household items like appliances apart and assembling them. I told you about the odd part. He meets Naomi Watt’s character and they start a sort of relationship. This doesn’t get much tread because he is usually rebuilding things or breaking things with a sledge-hammer. There is an interplay between Gyllenhaal’s character and his newfound girlfriend’s son. This oddly takes the film in a different direction. The boy suspects me might be gay and seems to draw strength from breaking things apart too. One thing I should note about Gyllenhaal’s character is that he really seems askew, almost “touched.” It’s endearing to watch him go through healing stages if you assume that is what is happening but his character’s outlandish actions of grandiosity discount his realism. He needed to be more human more of the time.

jomovie13 - Stills from the movie Demolition starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Judah Lewis##########jomovie13##########CATHEY-KERIS FILMS

I take this movie as an abstract map for grief. When you go through such a terrible loss, it breaks you apart. It leaves you to pick up the pieces and put yourself back together. I think someone going through grief could find some solace in this film. Sometimes you have to break down to build yourself strong again. This is an interesting and possibly therapeutic film but as a typical box office movie, I felt it was just short of the mark. It didn’t feel like a movie. Instead, it felt like a gesture from someone like a director seeking to help those going through grief. That isn’t a bad thing it’s just not a movie thing for me, too simplistic and not interesting enough subject matter. And again, Gyllenhaal’s character was not real and not believable enough for me to care about him.

You could start a cult with this film. It teaches self-actualization through destruction. There is a lot you can do with destruction, we all want to know what’s inside things. Sometimes it’s tempting to break them open and see it immediately. I think if one looks at the movie as a therapy session, it will make sense and one can have a good experience watching it. If one can’t buy my reading and doesn’t have a framed purpose for this plot, it will get extraordinarily boring very quickly. To close, I’d say it works on one level but not another. People who have been through grief are more likely to enjoy it. For those not interested in grief or the psychological study of it, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Secret in Their Eyes

“Jess: Life Sentence Ray Kasten: For you as well.” When you catch murderers for a living, it must bite that much harder when they murder your child. When you know the wheels of justice grind slowly, it must be hard not to take the law into your own hands. Secret in Their Eyes (2015) Cast … Continue reading

Jess: Life Sentence
Ray Kasten: For you as well.”

When you catch murderers for a living, it must bite that much harder when they murder your child. When you know the wheels of justice grind slowly, it must be hard not to take the law into your own hands.

Secret in Their Eyes (2015)
Cast
Chiwetel Ejiofor

as Ray Kasten

Nicole Kidman

as Claire Sloane

Julia Roberts

as Jessica Cobb

Directed by
Billy Ray
Written by
Billy Ray, Juan Jose Campanella
Other Info

Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Rated PG-13
1h 11min

Secret in their Eyes is a mystery thriller that started advertising far before it was released. The Julia Roberts factor was likely the reason there. Her movies almost always draw in the minions but sometimes they do fail to convince them. I wonder if her being listed at #3 on the IMDB cast page has to do with that. In the days of “Erin Brokovich,” “Pretty Woman,” et. al. the list goes on, she would likely have appeared first. Now, the two above her are a much hotter commodity.

It’s a great thriller! I don’t understand exactly why the critics have been so hard on it. It has a strong backbone of a story that was adapted from a 2009 Argentine film, “The Secret in Their Eyes.” That film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards. As I watched this film I felt empathy, revulsion, anger, and so much more. I felt I was among the characters, not just in the audience. I think it’s a universal theme of revenge.

There’s a twist at the end some may not see coming. The movie is made very well but it was a little predictable for me. Some viewers will enjoy the thriller aspect of this film as it unfolds while others will find the locations limiting and the events unbelievable. Takes on face value, this is an excellent thriller. I definitely enjoy watching it to the credits even though there were times I could clearly see what was going to happen next. After all, Jess Cobb’s daughter is brutally murdered and she becomes a basket case. I knew for sure some sort of retribution would happen, and it does. The manner and details of that retribution are what they hope you’ll go to see after the trailer. It’s a very cool thing, I recommend it!

Holidays (2016)

This post is part of a series I am experimenting with where I review the films now streaming on Netflix. I’m attempting to make them non-spoiler previews.

Holidays is an anthology of horror stories that share the theme of holidays including Easter and St. Patrick’s Day. They range from creepy and unsettling to gory and outright macabre. Anthologies can be great because they get to the conflict and solution much faster than other genre films. There are some truly scary anthology horror films out there, but can this one compete? Let me tell you what I think.

Among the directors is Kevin Smith of Tusk fame. Since that is one of my favorite horror films from 2014, I had high hopes for what he did her. I’ll go ahead and say there isn’t anything as horror-comical as Tusk but there is some stuff just about as twisted. In one, religious folk may be offended. If you decide to give it a go, keep your mind open with the jaws of life. I think I’ll be a recovering religious person my whole life and I loved it. Traditionalists should steer clear. The first three are generally vanilla.

The 5th, Halloween, stars Kevin Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith and gets into sex webcams. The girls say fuck quite a bit, which is not necessarily bad depending on how much you enjoy hearing that from cute girls. Basically the 5th takes you into the twisted, vengeful mind of Kevin Smith. I’ll hold back on details but I can safely tell you we see an asshole get his without spoiling anything.

I’m a big horror fan. I love watching what can be done in this genre. Kevin Smith pushes the limits and gets great results in my opinion. Smith’s contribution may be seen by some as unimaginable but when you’re dealing in vengeance art, you never know what will appeal to people. I’m reminded of the rape scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The 6th, Christmas, stars Seth Green. It’s fun to watch but not unique to me. See Brainstorm 1983 for more info on that (what’s a little remake posing as plagiarism between friends?). Oh, there’s a little sleight of hand from Dexter playing in there as well. For the genre of anthology horror, I’d say this one is worth my time. How open minded do you have to be? Well, enough see a climax per sequence which, if you think about it, better than the single big one we’re usually limited to. The final sequence takes place on New Year’s Eve and I will call it the most predictable. The anthology could be better in places but it also could be a lot worse overall. My verdict: Worth watching.

Wondering what you’ll see? Let me know in the comments. Then, get on Netflix where it’s currently streaming and see for yourself.

8/10

Grandma

Title: Grandma
Genre: Drama, Comedy
MPAA Rating: R
Year: 2015
Director: Paul Weitz, known for “About a Boy.”
Top Billed Cast: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden
Brief Synopsis: It’s great to have Grandma but it helps to have mom too. Nobody’s perfect.
My Word to the Wise: I’m a lifelong Lily Tomlin fan so this review may be biased. I think she deserves an academy award for best actress. Beyond that, the cast is all good. It is nice to see Sam Elliot again. While watching this movie I asked my wife, “When will we as a society stop judging each other.” To which she replied,

“We’ll never change, I think it’s in our DNA.” This movie makes me want to at least try harder. The themes are similar to those in “Juno” but with a much more real-life bent. Less comedy than drama, more human than appearances. We need more movies like this, they enlighten and advance the species.

Sleepwalk With Me

This started out a pretty great movie. It’s as if they lost steam in the writing and acting 3/4 of the way through. Still, it stands up as a decent drama/romance flick. The comedy is sorely lacking. I really felt for the main character’s girlfriend. I was shocked she stayed with him for 8 years in the story.

Title: Sleepwalk With Me
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Bio
MPAA Rating: R
Year: 2012
Director: Oren Moverman. Known for The Messenger (2009), I’m Not There. (2007) and Love & Mercy (2014).
Top Billed Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose
Brief Synopsis: A wannabe stand up comic has to decide if he’s going to marry his girlfriend of 8 years. A running theme throughout is Mike’s sleepwalking diagnosis.
My Word to the Wise: This started out a pretty great movie. It’s as if they lost steam in the writing and acting 3/4 of the way through. Still, it stands up as a decent drama/romance flick. The comedy is sorely lacking. I really felt for the main character’s girlfriend. I was shocked she stayed with him for 8 years in the story.


He’s a deadbeat, marginally funny, stand up comedian. I don’t think any woman would wait that long to be married. I won’t offer any spoilers. It holds your attention and raises questions about relationships. Sleepwalking, I’m afraid, is just not all that interesting. The over reliance on that as a theme made it lose a star. Other than that, the jokes weren’t very funny so that subtracted another. It’s decent though, worth watching. Not a must see though.

Amy

Title: Amy
Genre: documentary, biography
MPAA Rating: R
Year: 2015
Director: Asif Kapadia (Senna)
Brief Synopsis: The innocent beginnings of Amy Winehouse that lead to her sudden rise to fame, culminating in her untimely death.
My Word to the Wise: Powerful documentary. it portrays Amy as she was behind the scenes of her gifted yet troubled singing career. Through home movies and musical footage, the viewer can process the question of what went wrong and why. Some handheld camera songs are a bit sketchy and long. for that it lost one star with me.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

“Wayne’s World” rocked us when it came out. Then there was Harold and Kumar. It’s just as “Dude” stonerriffic with just the added bit of cultural references it needs to be relevant to a slightly younger crowd. Of course, that was 2004. It might need another incarnation here in 2018.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
R | 1h 28min | Adventure, Comedy | 30 July 2004 (USA)

A Korean-American office worker and his Indian-American stoner friend embark on a quest to satisfy their desire for White Castle burgers.
Director: Danny Leiner
Writers: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: John Cho, Kal Penn, Ethan Embry

Our director here, Danny Leiner, is the “Dude” in my book because he is the director of “Dude Where’s my Car?” This fits in perfectly with the type of film we’re talking about here. You might call it a “stoner comedy.” Jess Spiccoli, Bill and Ted, etc. These films are great for drinking parties and the like. Do they stand up in the decades that follow? Maybe not so much. Still there’s enough humor in this one that still works to keep your attention. It’s a light-hearted comedy that tries to be a slightly older “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” I laughed but the crude humor might turn some off. I gave this one a 6/10

Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

Robin Williams’ character teaches everyone in the film lessons of humanity, including we the viewers. He is a champion of going after your passions even when it means bucking the establishment.

Good Morning, Vietnam“An unorthodox and irreverent DJ begins to shake up things when he is assigned to the U.S. Armed Services Radio station in Vietnam.” -IMDB

Cast

Robin Williams Adrian Cronauer
Forest Whitaker Edward Garlick
Tung Thanh Tran Tuan
Chintara Sukapatana Trinh

Directed by

Barry Levinson

Written by

Mitch Markowitz

Other Info

Biography, Comedy, Drama, War
R
Fri 15 Jan 1988 UTC
121min
IMDB Rating: 7.3

Robin Williams’ portrayal of Adrian Cronauer got him the silver screen reputation that would carry him through a lifetime of earth-shattering roles. Of course, he was taken too soon. This film stands as the one where he took chances only he could take to make comments we all need to hear. For me, this is the iconic film of 1987.

Director Barry Levinson was no household name when he took on this project. He went on to do many amazing films including Donnie Brasco. I say anyone who can coach Robin Williams to these heights is a superstar director by anyone’s standard.

This is a star studded cast. At the same time, they all pale in comparison to the lead performer. He is truly a remarkable talent. He left us a huge body of work but one can’t help but wonder what he could have gone on to show us after his untimely death.

A military DJ comes to town in the Vietnam war turning tables on the establishment. I awed at the things he said and did. I am familiar with protocol and red tape as a teacher. I’m always careful what I say. This character has to watch what the establishment demands while encouraging the troops and seeking love with a local girl he falls into a crush with. He teaches everyone lessons of humanity, including we the viewers. He is a champion of going after your passions even if it means ruffling some feathers.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is an absolutely incredible performance. It’s the antithesis of shyness! It represents the year 1987 so well. I myself was 17 watching this in a theater with a couple of my gangly friends. We knew Mork and Mindy on tv but this was a wholly different film with someone we knew we didn’t recognize. We loved him. He added so much to all of our lives. This film was only the beginning of an education from Williams.

5/5

Jeepers Creepers

This is one of those horror movies I have heard of for years but for some reason never got around to seeing. If you like horror, and this is your situation, I’m happy to report this is an awesome flick worth seeing. It’s got scares and a creature, and some humor to get you through it.

Jeepers Creepers (2001)
R | 1h 30min | Horror, Mystery | 31 August 2001 (USA)

A brother and sister driving home through isolated countryside for spring break encounter a flesh-eating creature which is in the midst of its ritualistic eating spree.
Director: Victor Salva
Writer: Victor Salva
Stars: Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck

We know this director from “Powder” and the franchise of Jeepers Creepers. He has put together a very fun horror story and it has taken wing in our culture to be a well known household word. I see this as an accomplishment.

From the opening segments where the brother and sister characters are driving their old beat up car across a one lane highway to the end where the creature is showing us his exemplary appendages, this film rocks the horror. I think the most notable part for me was the discovery Justin Long’s character makes down the septic pipe. “Alien,” eat your heart out. I am told by a movie pal that part II is worth watching so I surely will be. This is a great horror movie, check it out if you haven’t already. I rate it 8/10.

Still Alice

  Title: Still Alice
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year: 2014
Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Top Billed Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin
Brief Synopsis: A University professor discovers she has early onset Alzheimers as she and her husband learn to cope with along with their family.
My Word to the Wise: An excellently written story about the condition. It brings attention to the brain as a physical object and points out how important it is to take care of it. Though Alzheimers currently has no cure, we can understand what the patient is going through and be there for them. “Still Alice” helps us do that. This is a powerful and at times sad movie but an excellent one that I found educational and highly entertaining. The writer/director died a few months ago of a different brain ailment, ALS.