Monday, February 28, 2011

“THE FIGHTER” Movie Review. The GLORY and the GORINESS of the BOXING RING ignite on the giant SCREEN.

“THE FIGHTER” Press Preview

Mind you, the boxing ring is NOT just a boxing ring.

Metaphorically it has a life.

It’s the epitome of blood, sweat and tears.

Many heart-breaking fights had been staged in the boxing arena.

For that many victors, there were the same amount of losers.

You will be amazed by the swelling, screaming crowds as they cheer endlessly at the display of two sweaty boxers ferociously pummeling and battering each other in the ring.

It’s a glorification of human butchery, no less.

What price winning?

Because only one boxer can emerge as the winner.

The sight of oozing blood could have spelled a thousand murders, as if anyone cares.

Everybody is basking in the splendor of this gory “gladiator field” where the bloodiest sight works best.

Who bothers about the tears and grime behind the facade?

All the insatiable audience wants is to bask in the glory and the pomp of the winner.

It’s obvious that there’s a sadistic primeval urge in all of us to witness this kind of competitive mayhem to relieve momentary stress. To dredge whatever pain out of our system.

Boxing flicks can never be my cup of tea.

It’s not cool to watch two guys tearing at each other, if I can help it.

It’s stark brutality.

Yet boxing films are the ones that have delivered the biggest theatrical box-office hits, amongst all sports.

The “Rocky” series, “Raging Bull”, “Cinderella Man” and the “Million Dollar Baby” and of late, “The Fighter” joins the heavyweights as one of cinema’s glorious boxing flicks. Each bring along its baggage of blood, toil and tears.

“THE FIGHTER” pays homage to ”Irish” Micky Ward, making him an international screen icon, larger than life.

MARK WAHLBERG is Micky Ward, rising from a dim-witted dude to a pro champ.

His fighting career escalates from the working-class streets of Lowell, Massachusetts, soaring to the heights of pugilistic fame.

Training him is his older half-brother Dicky (Christian Bale) – himself a former boxer, who was once the pride of his community for flooring Sugar Ray Leonard.

However, Dicky is woefully unreliable as Dicky’s coach as he plunges into a nightmare of crack addiction, violence and prison.

Special mention must be made of the formidable mother Alice Ward (MELISSA LEO) who doubles up as the possessive manager. She plays a pivotal role.

Though both step-brother and mother are committed to training and managing Micky, they can never fathom the person Micky is.

In his own mind Micky has always yearned to stand on his own. All men do.

When he finds true love with a local barmaid Charlene (AMY ADAMS), his familar old world begins to crumble.

Charlene encourages him to re-examine his life and to stand up to his demanding family.

Film director DAVID O RUSSELL delivers a plucky heart-pounding classic with admirable kinetic fight scenes and a peppering of humor along the way.

Solid acting from the key actors:

CHRISTIAN BALE is par excellence as a nervy, bumbling, starved down to addict-level bloke.

You wouldn’t have recognized this once-upon-a-time dashing actor.

He has embraced a hefty weight loss that has become emblematic of the “serious” BALE’s performance.

WAHLBERG ignites the screen with a formidable performance in the lead role.

He brings unparalleled athleticism to the fight scenes, and tenderness to the rest.

AMY ADAMS and MELISSA LEO both earn Oscar nominations. You know why.

Ultimately “THE FIGHTER” is a touching parable about a boxer fighting the “demons” in his life and the odds within the boxing arena.

It’s an inspiring movie with a proud cast to boot.

It recognizes the power of sibling and family bonding, and no matter how dysfunctional the family may be, blood is often thicker than water.

Because LIFE is never perfect and FRIENDS will come and go.

But the FAMILY will always be there with open arms.

No matter what.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

“THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” Movie Review. Whatever the ODDS are, STOP in the NAME of LOVE.


Your destiny is in your own hands?


Will you readily accept whatever FATE lines up for you?


Will you do anything, everything in the name of LOVE?


Then let’s delve into this staccato type story about LOVE afflictions and the disjointed entanglements that come as part of a package.

A man ( MATT DAMON) ponders the future FATE has planned for him and realizes he cannot accept.

He is David Norris, a charismatic politician on the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate.

He has just met a beautiful ballet dancer Elise Sellas (EMILY BRUNT) and he is giddy-eyed.

He has fallen for her. Hard.

No, he will not give her up, ever.

But some mysterious strangers suddenly lurk and conspire to keep the two love birds apart.

These are powerful men from THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU who control your life and fate and decide where you should be and who you should be with.

Free will doesn’t exist and you can’t change your pre-determined FATE.

If you were David, would you put yourself through your own logic, declaring that “everything happens for a valid reason”?

Bullshit, right?

As in everything, it’s easier said than done.

David discovers that he has to deal with the agents of FATE itself – these men from THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU – who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together.

In the face of overwhelming odds, he must face a choice.

To let her go and accept the predetermined path.

Or risk everything to defy FATE and be with her.

This is where the story unravels.

Writer/producer/director GEORGE NOLFI intends “ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” as a sci-fi suspense thriller.

But the final product is essentially, a love that defies the divine order to become a heartfelt romance that you’ll root for.

An intriguing thriller with strong performances by MATT DAMON and EMILY BLUNT who share an affable on-screen chemistry in rhythm and tone.

The fascinating script takes us through the aesthetic maze of mystery and fantasy, but in the end we can safely expect that it’s a case of mind over matter, and that it is all well that ends well.

Whatever odds that are stacked against you, will you ever stop in the name of love?

Will you …

Or won’t you?

Friday, February 25, 2011

“DRIVE ANGRY” Movie Review. It SURELY gonna be one HELL of a DRIVE.


Come, take a drive with NICHOLAS CAGE as he plays this hell-bent guy on a wild, vengeance streak.

He’s insufferable.

His daughter had been brutally slain and he’s frantically seeking his grandchild before she becomes the sacrificial lamb of a cult group.

But it’s a deadly race against time.

The journey is fraught with perils and the speed is set at high gear all the way.

First, switch off your suspension (of disbelief) mode, chum.

That is, if you fully wish to enjoy this movie.

Just dispense with the logic because a lot wouldn’t have made sense anyway.

The screenwriters are not trying to piece a cohesive plot nor conjure up credible characters.

Focus on the actions which are strewn aplenty from start to finish.

Shoot-outs, car races, explosions, torture stabbings, bloody mayhem, lots.

“DRIVE ANGRY” makes no apologies for being a film of a different genre catering to a mindless niche crowd who craves for gory violence and all things that rhyme with the flavor of “spice”.

It’s a sum of many parts, unashamedly borrowing ideas from the ’70s exploitation films such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Race with the Devil” and “Mad Max” to arrive at the current formula.

It borders precariously on the subject of HELL and the crazed people who are blind cult followers.

Yeah, hell is one big, torturing furnace.

Yeah, everybody who’s been sent to HELL will be writhing in pain.

It’s all about retribution.

You’ll get done for bad karma.

And we have to blame Milton (NICHOLAS CAGE) for transporting us there.

Milton (NICHOLAS CAGE) is a ferocious criminal who was bad, bad, and now is serving his punishment in HELL.

In HELL (of all places) he receives information that a vicious cult leader Jonah King (BILLY BURKE) has murdered his only daughter and kidnapped her baby.

Now, hell hath no fury like a grand-dad who’s on a vengeance streak.

Milton breaks out of HELL to locate the killer.

He joins forces with a pretty waitress called Piper (AMBER HEARD) who has her own axe to grind with life’s lot.

Piper usurps a 1969 charger, an old but awesome “muscle” car from her ex-boy friend.

Together, they battle against time to achieve an almost impossible mission.

Milton has three days to avoid capture, avenge his daughter’s death and save the baby grand daughter before she becomes a sacrificial target to unleash all hell on earth.

Can he?

In a twist of fate, the keeper from HELL who called himself “THE ACCOUNTANT” (WILLIAM FICHTNER) is on the rampage to seize Milton and get him back to HELL.

This is when the ultimate battle of the hell warriors breaks loose in a deadly bloody mayhem.

Now, “DRIVE ANGRY” ain’t everybody’s cup of tea.

If you dig computer games on warfare, then this one’s for you.

But if you seeker of artistically intellectual stuff, just stay away.


He wears his trademark grin, groan and grimace here, a tad haggard this time round.

AMBER HEARD is a delectable eye candy to ogle at, displaying her beautiful legs and lithe body.

But it is WILLIAM FICHTNER who steals the thunder with his smirk-ish albeit mesmerizing presence. Kudos.

Directed by PATRICK LUSSIER, the screen illuminates with the usual spills and thrills that come with a movie as nutty as this one.

You may want to classify this as an outlandish car movie with extreme violence and mayhem.

Or a fun car movie with supernatural overtones.

But let’s say it one hell of a chitty-chitty-bang-bang ride.

Visually, it is a daring movie to boot.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011



I daresay I’m proud to be an avid collector of the retro cowboy classics on DVDs.

It’s been ages since I first stared.

There’s always, this surmounting excitement of “gallopy” adventure depicted in mystical tales relating to the wild, wild west.

Specially those surrounding old-timers ALAN LADD and JOHN WAYNE, the archetype of the quintessential American heroes.

Westerns of yesteryears had uncomplicated plots then, and provided for the most wholesome of family entertainment.

My memory has always been piqued by this touching finale in “SHANE” where a boy called Joey pursues Shane the wounded gunslinger as he gallops away into the sunset.

Joey was frantically hollering “Shane! Shane!” with tears streaming down his face. His calls echo across the valley as the movie closes …. a poignant moment, breaking every heart and mind.

It was so sad, yet so sweet.

Why did I remember this scene?

Gosh, I haven’t a clue.

That particular visual sticks with me, till now.

Ever since then, my romancing with the kick-ass westerns started.

You dig Western movies?

They often come bathed in the splendor of sprawling landscapes, prairies, stretches of lonely mountains, murmuring streams and bubbling brooks.

Then this neo-cowboy offering “TRUE GRIT” is crafted for lovers of westerns.

It gets to be directed by by the Coen Brothers (Ethan and Joel) who has given us the gem of an academy award winner “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN”.

Make that a double bonus.

A name such as THE COEN BROTHERS raise heads.

Anyhow, we don’t get to watch a lot of cowboy films these days.

They are fast becoming a rarity.

The western movie has quietly passed on from the motion picture scene.

Over the last decade fewer and fewer films depicting the western theme have been produced.

Cowboy stories are simple. They do not depict life alone.

They speak out for courage, magnanimity, benevolence and the ability to fight for justice, to root out community evil.

The plot of “TRUE GRIT” this time stems from a 14 year-old gal Mattie Ross (HAILEE STEINFIELD). She’s the pulse of the movie.

She is seeking vengeance for the brutal, senseless killing of her father by one of his hired hands called Tom Chaney (JOSH BROLIN) who made off with her father’s horses amongst them two California gold pieces.

Whilst collecting her father’s body, Mattie intends to hire a Deputy U.S. Marshal to track down Chaney. She is given three recommendations, but chooses to settle for Rooster Cogburn (JEFF BRIDGES) because he is described as aloof and merciless.

Naturally Rooster repeatedly rebuffs at her attempts to hire him to do the dirty work. At first.

But Mattie is a plucky girl with a fierce determination who never gives up.

She ignores Rooster’s overbearing insolence and stalks him until he agrees.

Despite Mattie’s objections, Cogburn is joined by a bullish Texas Ranger (MATT DAMON) who is also after Chaney, but for a different crime.

However these two cowboys could not shirk off Mattie as she proves she’s a force to be reckon.

She displays her true grit by courageously riding her horse across the river to catch up with them.

The three then head for Indian territory, believing that Chaney could have joined an outlaw gang headed by Lucky Ned (BARRY PEPPER).

As the days roll by after encountering all kinds of scraps, the three develop a strong, platonic friendship with the sole purpose of nailing the killer.

There are light comedic moments too, to break the monotony of rhythm.

These are evenly spaced, in true COEN BROTHERS style.

“TRUE GRIT” is essentially BRIDGE’s acting vehicle where he plays a rambling, alcoholic US marshal named Reuben “Rooster’’ Cogburn with remarkable finesse.

Not to be overshadowed, HAILEE STEINFELD pitches a wonderful performance as Nattie Ross, a steely gregarious 14-year old who’s hell bent on seeking justice for her father’s murder.

She is the real star of the show, where the crux of the parable weaves around her.

Hers is a dynamic character caught up in a timeless tale where she tackles her big screen debut with a fearlessness that borders on naïvety, yet is nevertheless admirable.

Remember the old song “We may never pass this way again”?

“TRUE GRIT” is an exceptional family entertainment that will bring back the glorious memories of yodeling, cowboys and gunslingers.