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REVIEW – THE PURGE

The Purge

3.75 out of 5.0

Unemployment is at a 1% low, crime is non-existent.  Life is good, well at least that is what we think.  The United States of America has given the people the right to commit crimes no matter how heinous for 12 hours one day a year.  This is known as The Purge.

This is allowed so people who have hatred, or anger towards people can lash out  and take out their frustrations any way they see fit.  Though weapons above a Class 4 ratings are not allowed and high ranking officials have immunity and can not be touched.  Everyone else is fair game.

This story is about one family’s ordeal through this torrid 12 hours and pushes them to their limits of morality and puts them in the situation we have seen before, the situation of how far would one go for their family.

Director James DeMonaco puts us into a night filled will extreme tension and brutal violence.  This is an idea that may seem good to some but definitely shouldn’t see the light of day.  His movie is lean, clocking in under an hour and 30 minutes and James DeMonaco uses every minute of it to weave a tale of brutality and makes you question yourself, ‘what would I do in this type of situation’.

The situation the family gets in starts when the son lets in a man searching for help during The Purge.  No one knows who he is or what he is doing in their neighborhood.  This brings on the group that are out to purge this man and go about their lives and pits the family in the struggle of do they keep the guy safe or let him loose to the purgers.  DeMonaco takes time getting here and really slowly lets the tension build.  This works very nicely because throughout the movie you can feel it building, like a pop that is slowly coming to boil.  When it hits it’s breaking point bad things happen.

DeMonaco doesn’t shy away from the violence either, especially in the opening title sequence that is littered with security cam footage from the years before purging.  The opening is brutal and very unsettling which sets the tone for the movie quickly.

The only really light hearted feel you get is after the credit sequence as the day is getting setup.  When it’s time for The Purge to start, the tone shifts into darkness.  The movie has many dark points and for the most part DeMonaco does a great job with pulling no punches, until the very end.

This is where the movie fell flat for me.  Everything was hitting the right notes and the viciousness of the evening is felt throughout the film until the ending scene.  I felt that DeMonaco pushed you to the mouth of madness and right at the last minute before falling in he pulls you back.  It wouldn’t have been the ending I would have chosen, though getting there, there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming.  I was pleasantly surprised when those twists came and thought the ending was going to go full tilt.

The acting throughout the movie was great.  Ethan Hawke as the father James Sandin, plays the part well and you feel that what he is doing is the right thing for his family.  Hawke usually always does a good job and this movie is no exception.

The mother Mary Sandin, played by the wonderful Lena Headey, is portrayed nicely on screen and Headey gives a good performance as mother who is conflicted about the whole purge night, and this comes across wonderfully in later scenes.  A very strong performance from a strong actress.

Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane play the children Charlie and Zoey.  Beautiful performances from both, especially from Adelaide who has the most emotional part between them.  The director did a good job getting strong performances from  the younger performers.

Rhys Wakefield takes on the role of the Polite Stranger who comes knocking on the door to claim the injured man the family has hiding in their home.  He is down right creepy in this role and really rises to the occasion as the main villain in the movie.  Though at moments he felt a little over the top, overall he played the part well.  The rest of the crew that made up his gang were equally as scary and creepy and added to the overall rising tension as the movie went on.

Edwin Hodge who has a wonderful TV career was cast in the role of the strange, the man who was injured and looking for a place to hide out the night.  He’s not in a lot of the scenes but the ones he was in were well done.

Is this a movie for you to see?  If you like dark, heavy, brutally violent movies then you should enjoy this movie.  If you are very squeamish then it might not be your cup of tea.  Overall it is a good movie and I can recommend it, with the caveat being the ending though you may even end up liking the ending.

Overall I give this movie 3.75 out of 5.  It would have scored higher from me but the ending kind of ruined it a little for me.  It is a good movie and gives good scares and it is a pretty intense night out to the movies.  ‘Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – KILLER JOE

Killer Joe Blu-ray

5.0 Out of 5

This is a movie I have been waiting a long while to see and I finally had a chance to see it tonight.  When this movie came out in theatres earlier this year it was given a rating of NC-17 due to graphic nudity, sexual situations and graphic violence so it didn’t get a big run in the movie houses like regular movies.  Base on the play “Killer Joe” this was a movie that pulls no punches, it puts itself out there and never holds back.

The story is quite simple.  Chris is in deep with the thugs for money due to bad gambling debts.  He and his father come up with a plan to hire Joe to kill his mother so they can collect the insurance money.  Chris’ family is pure trailer trash and this movie shows them in all their glory.  Chris’ sister is the sole beneficiary of the policy and all the money will come to her which they will evenly split after Joe takes his cut of the money.  By day Joe Cooper is a detective for the police department and by night, a hired killer.  There is one problem, they can’t pay Joe until the job is completed.  Joe doesn’t like that idea and decides that he will take Chris’ young sister Dottie as a retainer for the money.

The movie straight out is pretty disturbing and kind of makes you feel dirty after watching the movie.  It’s part thriller, action and dark comedy all rolled in a nice tight package of a movie.  I can tell you that this is on my top 10 movies of the year list.  It’s a well made movie with a great cast and wonderful directing.  The story is well played out, though it touches on some very dark subject matter throughout the movie.  The ending will have you discussing it long afterwards of what happened and where does it go from there.

Matthew McConaughey is in top for in this movie as Killer Joe Cooper.  This is one of his best roles since “The Lincoln Lawyer”.  He’s been having a great run lately with The Lincoln Lawyer, Magic Mike and now this.  You really see the sleaziness of Joe with each scene McConaughey is in.  Right from the get go you can tell that this is a character you will not like and only bad things are going to happen when he is involved.  I’ve always been a fan of McConaughey and with this film he shows that he can play the dirtiest and filthiest of characters with ease.  This was a movie where he threw the screenplay in the trash because he felt like it was just that, trash.  After awhile and some convincing he picked it back up again and re-read it with a new outlook.  I’m glad he did because he was the perfect choice to play Joe.

Emile Hirsch plays the part of Chris, the brilliant mind behind this whole plan.  I’ve always enjoyed watching Hirsch on screen and in this movie was no exception.  He played the part perfectly.  He has that naive ambition in his eyes that he can do this and things will be alright once the murder has taken place and that he will make good with his family by this.  Chris is a character that really doesn’t have the brains to think things through and thinks that he can fix things without worrying about the consequences.  Hirsch brings that doe eyed naivety to the role which translates so well on screen.  Another great performance from a good actor.  I will forgive him though for his role in The Darkest Hour, this movie more than makes up for that.

Thomas Hayden Church plays the father Ansel.  This guy is dumber than a bag of hammers and really doesn’t have two clues to rub together.  He goes along with Chris’ plan even though I think somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind that he knows it’s a bad idea.  Church was always hilarious on the TV series “Wings” and is just as funny here, though in a dark demented way.  The character doesn’t have too much going on upstairs and this is showned wonderfully on screen by Church.  Another great performance.

Juno Temple is Chris’s sister Dottie.  She is tremendous on screen as the dimwitted sister who falls in love with Joe.  Temple has a very tough part to play especially in the date scene with Joe, it’s very dark and very emotional and has to go to a very dark place to make the scene believable.  A great job on screen and I think she is a great young actress to watch out for.

Gina Gershon plays the step mother Sharla.  I think this has to have been one of the toughest roles Gina Gershon had to play.  It was a very emotional roller coaster of a role for her and she also had to go to very deep dark places, especially near the end of the movie.  She shows on screen that she is a powerful actress and can handle any role with the slightest of ease.  I still don’t know how she got her self to the stage to do the chicken leg scene at the end.  A great performance throughout the movie.

Directed by none other than the director of “The Exorcist”:William Friedkin and this movie shows he still has it.  It is powerfully directed and wonderfully paced and Friedkin isn’t afraid to bring the tough subject matter to the big screen.  His scenes are beautifully framed and he really knows how to get the best out of his actors.  I’m glad to see him back in the directors chair again.

This movie is a powerhouse of everything that shouldn’t be seen.  It’s filthy, dirty, grimy, gritty and will have you glued to the screen to figure out how everything is going to play out.  This movie I must say is not for everyone, especially the squeamish and the easily offended.  It is offensive and it isn’t ashamed to be.  This is a dark story that is well written and beautifully acted and amazingly directed.

I easily give this movie 5 stars out of 5 and one my favorite movies of the year.  It’s well made and I think shouldn’t be missed.  It definitely is messed up in more ways than one, but the shock value just isn’t there for shock value, it’s there as part of the actual story and plays into what makes up this man they call Killer Joe.  Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – LES MISERABLES

Les Miserables Poster
2012 brings us another interpretation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece “Les Miserables”.  This time it is based off of the Broadway musical which captured so many hearts and brought on many a teary eye.

Les Miserable has always been one of my all time favorite novels and I think I may have seen all of the different interpretations there can be of this story.  The Broadway musical is magnificent and will bring anyone to their knees.  The last time a movie version was in the theatres was with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.  That wasn’t a musical version and followed the book very closely though leaving off the actual ending of the story.

This time director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) takes us back to the musical and gives us one of the best re-telling of the story there is.  Based more on the musical than the novel, this version of Les Miserable does things a little differently on screen than most movie musicals.  This version has the actors singing live, no production album recorded like normal with the actors lip syncing to their own voices.  This time songs were sung while the camera rolled and I think it gives us the movie goer a stronger on screen performance to watch.

With the live singing you get the raw sound and the raw emotion that goes in to singing the song and it helps pull you into the scene and make a connection with the characters.  The ever popular “I Dream A Dream”, which some dub the perfect song, rises to a higher level with Anne Hathaway’s brilliant and heart wrenching performance.  But before we get into all that a little background on the story, if you don’t know it already.

Jean Valjean, a prisoner of hard labor for stealing bread, was sentence for 19 years under the watchful eye of Javert.  Given his release papers Valjean will always be on parole for the rest of his life and must report to a parole officer or be sent back to hard labor.  Valjean decides that he needs to break free and start life a fresh and becomes mayor of a small town, running a textiles plant.

There a lady by the name of Fantine is thrown out because she is deemed unfit for working there because of having a child out of wedlock.  This starts the unraveling of her life and she is taken in my Valjean who promises that he will keep her precious daughter, Cosette safe.

Cosette is raised by Valjean but they are on the run from Javert and take refuge in a convent where they stay until she is of age.  Cosette falls in love with Marius, one of the leaders of the rebellion, during which Javert catches up with Valjean.  This time around it is Hugh Jackman who plays the strong Valgen and is in top form.  He brings heart to the ever tough man and its shows, especially through his singing.  One of the stronger voices of the cast Hugh really gets to stretch his pipes and run.  One of the best performances I have seen for the character since Neeson.

Hathaway plays the suffering Fantaine, who gives up her hair, some teeth and her dignity all so she can raise enough money to help pay her daughters keepers.  Hathaway brings a very raw emotion to the character and her rendition of I Dream a Dream will bring you to instant tears.  So much passion and emotion is poured onto the screen in that sequence it’s hard to not well up.  Her performance really makes you feel what Fantine is and has gone through for her daughter.  If she is not up for Best Female Performance in a Supporting Role Oscar I would be surprised.

Russell Crowe takes on the role as the law man Javert. Javert is by the book and only sees one thing in life, justice.  It is as if he made it his goal in life to recapture Valjean and bring into custody.  Crowe, the weakest of the singers, still puts on a top notch performance.  I think his singing voice suits the character, because I find the character of Javert, as strong as he is, a weak character because of his convictions.  His convictions are is undoing and you feel that in Crowe’s singing voice.

Great performances were also shown in Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sascha Baron Cohen.  The whole cast was top shelf and it really showed on screen.  Jackman, I believe might see an Oscar nod for his role as Valjean.  I also felt the acting wasn’t over the top stage style acting.  It was passionate and to the heart.  Real emotion was put into each role and each actor will captivate you in their own way.

Director Tom Hooper has done it again, put another masterpiece on the screen.  I think he definitely should be up, if not win for Best Director this year.  He really took a chance doing the singing live and I really think it pays off.  The live singing brings that emotion needed in a story like Les Miserable to captivate and pull in the audience and have them weep for the characters, and hate the horrible monsters.  The movie was directed with a flow I haven’t seen in a musical before.  Everything just flowed and never let up.  It held your attention and kept you fixated on the screen for the whole 2 hours and 40 minutes.  It never felt long and it never dragged.  Hats of for Tom and the crew for a job well done.

The songs are from the musical and if you haven’t seen the musical just be warned.  Pretty much all of the dialogue is sung,very few words are actually spoken, but I felt that this worked to the movie’s advantage.  It helped keep the pace going and keep things moving along.  Though I did feel the pacing at the beginning felt a little quick.

If I could use two words to sum up the movie..bring tissues would be them.  The story itself is a very sad story and when you see it play out on screen it will fill you with such deep emotion.  There was many a scene that had me crying like a baby, especially at the end.

Overall I easily give this movie 5 stars out of 5.  A movie not to be missed unless you really hate musicals, then this one might not be for you.  Seriously though I think this will take Best Picture easily.  I’ve seen all of the nominations and Les Miserables really was the stand out one this year.