Director J.J. Abrams knows how to slap together a fun movie. “Star Trek Into Darkness” has most everything. Sometimes I enjoy simplicity. The movie has a beginning, a middle & an end. Less interpretation, more up on the screen. I will say, in this installment, character development was scrapped over more action sequences. But hey, I’m OK with that. It’s time for a summer popcorn movie & it’s not Oscar Season. The heartbeat of the movie is the complex friendship between The Human: Kirk & The Vulcan: Spock. Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto provide the spark that ignites the entire movie.
The Crew of the Starship: Enterprise, headed by Captain James T. Kirk has been given their latest mission. But it’s really less of a mission and more of a Black OP. NO SPOILERS HERE. Trekkies will absolutely love subtle and notso subtle references to the original 1960′s TV series. Maybe they should call him James T. KINK. He just goes for it, every single time & I dig that. I advise you to seek passage aboard the Enterprise & strap in for it’s 5-year mission. I had a complete blast. Just like Scotty, Bones & Ohura you can certainly follow me on Twitter @leoquinones. Q-Out.
Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” takes us back to the year, 1858, two years before the Civil War. I appreciate any attempt to bring back Westerns. It’s a genre ripe for a resurgence. The setting works: A bounty hunter (Christof Waltz) teams up with a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) to capture criminals & ultimately help find & free Django’s slave wife. (Kerry Washington)
There are excellent scenes within the film. You’ll enjoy textbook Tarantino dialogue exchanges. Leonardo DiCaprio turns in an excellent performance as a savvy & sinister slave owner, the callus Calvin Candie.
As a whole however, this wasn’t one of my favorite Tarantino films. Going back a few years, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ was utterly brilliant. The Hans Landa character played by Christof Waltz, in my opinion, should have remained inside the world of ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ Instead, I kept seeing Hans resurface in ‘Django Unchained.’ I know everyone else did too, but won’t admit it. Let’s compare. In ‘Basterds’ he was dubbed ‘The Jew Hunter.’ Here he’s The Bounty Hunter. For some reason I can’t explain, he also hails from Germany. Oh, & he speaks at least (3) languages, just like Hans Landa.
This is just nit-picking now. Why do certain directors always feel compelled to hurl themselves into their own movie? It stymies me. Why does Quentin do this? My first thought every time I see him onscreen in one of his own films is: What is Quentin doing? It catapults me out of the movie! No one in Hollywood will admit this. They all want to work on one of his movies. I’m not an actor. So again I ask Quentin, Why insist? Why?
Final note, “Django Unchained” is still better than 85% of what’s out in theaters. It’s worth watching. You can follow me on Twitter @leoquinones
As Mel Gibson’s character Porter grumbled in “Payback,” “Dirty Cops. Do they come any other way?” Cop movies most always thrive on Bad Cop Syndrome. They’re either on the take through organized crime or confiscating cash to send their kids to college, ripping off drug dealers or at the very least hiding behind badges as bullies. Those are the reasons why ‘End of Watch’ is such a fresh look at the cop movie genre. The story’s about two partners in the Los Angeles Police Department. Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) & Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) get up every day & do the job. What I loved about the movie is, these guys weren’t looking to score a huge payday & retire. It was quite the opposite. Their idea of ‘hitting it big’ is always in the form of a big bust. These LAPD officers are the good guys.
What I also enjoyed was the balance between action on the streets & verbal action between buddies in the squad car. Spending endless hours on patrol, Brian & Mike talk about virtually anything from sex to Starbucks. These scenes just tick away until the moment something happens. When they get the call, it’s on. NO SPOILERS. I live in Southern California. What happens in Downtown Los Angeles seems a million miles away. It is dark, desolate & dangerous. The actors playing gang members are a constant reminder: Make sure your GPS works, respect their space & stay out of alleys.
On the first night of prep for this film, Jake was on an LAPD ride-along. It’s there where he witnessed a shoot-out between gang members and one person was murdered right in front of his eyes. Gyllenhaal did express experiencing intense moments of fear out in the field. How could you not? The point of exposing yourself to such violence & potential life peril, is to simply funnel all that energy into a performance, which he most certainly did. When they do go out an those calls, I had to remind myself to breathe.
Finally, a cop movie where you’re rooting for cops. The only problem: The bad guys are just too well-funded, too many in numbers, too armed & way too murderous. “End of Watch’ is rated ‘R.’ You can follow me on Twitter @leoquinones
CAUTION: This is the RED BAND Trailer for “End of Watch”
After the horrors of World War II, I’ve got to believe people everywhere were asking questions. Maybe questions like, ‘How do we get back on track after such a massive loss of life?’ Or, ‘How can we maximize our own lives?’ When people listen intently for life’s answers, sometimes strange voices grow louder. Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the very personification of such a voice. His family & followers refer to him as ‘Master.’ The year: 1950. The world seemed aching to move forward. Sensing to fill a void in John Q. Public’s soul, Dodd manifests his teachings in the form of his first self-help book, “The Cause.” Once the book is ‘out there,’ it’s up for debate amongst scholars & skeptics. I believe, Lancaster Dodd’s only tangible power comes from his ability to hold court anywhere, anytime. On a yacht, in a desert & especially during his intense ‘Thought Processing’ therapy sessions. This is the crux of The Cause’ movement. These one-on-one sessions include, past life regression, childhood traumatic events, recounts of incest & lovers lost. Why do so many followers engage? They seek answers.
Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a World War II Veteran who now, in the time of peace, has become an aimless drifter. Phoenix is the engine that drives ‘The Master.’ His physicality, dedication & execution of the role rivals that of Daniel Day Lewis, respectively. You simply cannot take your eyes off Freddie. It’s a million little things like his peculiar arm position in his unique stance. His gravely voice, twisted facial expressions & far away stare. Is it all a dream? Is his real? Is everything he’s ever felt & known real or blurred forever by the teachings of The Master?
I enjoyed watching “The Master.” Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson makes bold choices. The story does however bob and weave into the strangest places. I would gladly trade some structure fluidity for incredible scenes. There are too many to count. Notably, every scene between Lancaster and his devoted wife Peggy. (Amy Adams) For me, the heart of the movie are the conversations between Freddie & The Master. What’s their dynamic? Why are they compelled to forge forward in their odd relationship? What is Lancaster Dodd after? What’s Freddie agenda? The answers are all there, but you get the opportunity to answer them yourself. “The Master” is rated ‘R.’
Creators of certain suspicious religions want you to follow them to the four corners of the Earth. Not me. Just follow me on Twitter @leoquinones
Time to talk movies! This week, you’ll see “The Amazing Spiderman’s” ANDREW GARFIELD talks about the Spidey psychy. KATY PERRY argues with her parents in a scene from her documentary, “Katy Perry: Part of Me” 3D. Also, BLAKE LIVELY steps out onto the red carpet to talk, “Savages.” Click on the link to watch!
On today’s Film Freak Movie Talk Show, Leo goes over the Top 10 at the Box Office. Then Leo chats with the star and director of the tiny little film, “The Amazing Spiderman”, Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb respectfully. Out on DVD & VOD is “God Bless America” and with that, is a whirlwind interview with the director Bobcat Goldthwait. Finally Boo Boo Stewart from “Twilight” fame stops in and talks a little about his upcoming ventures on Twitter and on the big screen. Follow Leo @leoquinones just like Spidey does! Don’t forget to download the Film Freak iPhone App, it’s FREE!
Disney Pixar jumps into the summer box office fray with “Brave.” It’s the story of Princess Merida, a spirited lass from the Highlands of Scotland. Animators first journeyed to Scotland way back in 2006. They then returned in 2007 to immerse within Scottish culture. Their research included taking in stories steeped in the Scots culinary habits, foggy weather, wildlife, trees & rich ancestry. These steps are what make the animation is as good as what you’d expect from Pixar.
Merida’s journey revolves around a universal theme of most teenagers throughout the ages, ‘Let me live my own life!’ The conflict comes from within the family must be resolved with family. The story involves witches, potions, ferries & thundering horseback rides. Young girls all over the world will absolutely love watching ‘Brave.’ The movie is being pushed as 3D, but you can save a few bucks per tickets by watching it in 2D. It’s just as fun.
I think Brave is a wee bit scary for kids under the age 6. There’s classic Disney villains & there’s things nightmares are made of. Hit a bullseye like Merida & Follow Leo on Twitter @leoquinones. The Film Freak iPhone App is %100 FREE. Just search Film Freak.
The Film Freak Movie Talk Show shines the light on the biggest movies again this week! Still going strong “Marvel’s The Avengers” continues it’s epic run in the Top 10. Mark Ruffalo AKA Bruce Banner gives over awesome info about becoming the big green machine, The Hulk! Leo also forks over awesome audio from the android himself “David”, Michael Fassbender, not found in this weekends’ “Prometheus”. Also stars from Wes Anderson’s awesome movie “Moonrise Kingdom” stop by and have a chat with Leo. Finally, the most rocking out loud movie coming out this summer “Rock of Ages”, gets it’s epic soundtrack dissected by Leo!! Plus, Leo gets the Gotham City Gossip from Bill of BATMAN ON FILM. Follow Leo Quinones on Twitter @leoquinones everyone’s doing it, even the epic rocker Stacee Jaxx!!
The Film Freak Movie Talk Show with Leo Quinones welcomes composer Danny Elfman and actor Jackie Earle Haley talking their new movie “Dark Shadows” . Also in studio director Brad Parker and writer Oren Peli talk about the insanely scary locales they chose for their movie “Chernobly Diaries”. “God Bless America” director Bobcat Goldthwait gives over tons of info on his new movie, and finally Leo goes over everything movies in his weekend movie update. Follow Leo Quinones @leoquinones and as always….Stay Classy!
Battleship is getting torpedoed by movie critics. It’s what they do. The movie is far from perfect, and is a lot better than I thought. I’m fully aware the dialogue in the movie had challenges. But here’s one of my pet peeves: Rudeness in movie theaters. When a lousy line is uttered, I just kinda roll my eyes & think to myself, “That was so cheesy.” But again, this is me, thinking to myself.
I can’t stand when someone, who gets to see these movies for FREE has the tenacity to outwardly laugh at bad dialogue. It’s the most selfish thing you can do in a movie. It serves 2 purposes: (1) You’re attempting to show everyone how smart you are & you know a bad line when you hear it. (2) It pulls anyone out of the film who’s enjoying it.
Regular movie going folks with enjoy Battleship. Based on the 1931 Hasbro game, it has less to do with real strategic war at sea & more to do with aliens taking over Earth. I will say the sound design was perfect. On the other hand, it feels like whole scenes were lifted from other movies like, “Officer & A Gentlemen,” “Independence Day,” and of course, “Transformers.”
Battleship is a long journey from perfection, but I still had fun. My favorite thing about the movie were the ‘Old Salts,’ World War II vets who actually served on the battleship USS Missouri was very cool. Rated PG-13. You can follow me on Twitter @leoquinones