Reign Over Me (2007)

Reign-Over-Me

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Adam Sandler’s Best

I’ve been known to praise movies that take your typical comedian and transform him into something else entirely. These kind of movies do a really great job at presenting an actor’s talent range,and they do a surprising job with some actors. There’s Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction, Jim Carrey in The Majestic and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and then there’s Adam Sandler in one of his most incredible performances in a long time, and maybe ever – Reign Over Me. Sure, he’s had other more serious roles in the past, but you always thought…okay…that’s Adam Sandler acting serious. Reign Over Me transformed his entire personality to the point where when you watch, you might forget that he’s actually Sandler at all.

Our movie introduces us to a peculiar young and quiet man named Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler). Something in the past, a tragedy, changed his very life forever. When a former colleague of his shows up, the two of them re-strike up an old friendship. Soon, his old friend begins to realize just how much help he really needs, and how absolutely grief-stricken he is and how much the power of friendship can change a person’s life.

I normally like films that have a solid plot, and I don’t know if I would really say that’s apparent here. However, where the plot lacks, it definitely makes up for it with the characters. I truly believe this is Adam Sandler’s best role. The clothes he was made to wear, the hair he was made to dawn, the antics of a grief-stricken loner he was made to act…it was all so phenomenal and different from what you’re used to seeing that you’ll just end up loving it. Not only that, but when the movie begs Adam to put on an unforgettable emotional performance, he actually does it – and I can’t say that’s bad. As for Don Cheadle, I still hold that he’s an incredible actor, but it’s not so unique for this film alone. What I will say, is that the friendship chemistry between the two is legendary and charming – giving us all hope that when in doubt, there is at least one person out there who will be your friend when you need them to be. One person who will be unconditionally accepting and friendly – and the way Cheadle plays that off is stunning.

The whole plot is based around the event that caused the change in Charlie’s life. This is something I won’t write in my review, but most people know what that is…it’s in the plot description on IMDb, for crying out loud. All I will say is that when I first saw it in theater, it was a much stronger film when the audience didn’t know the exact source of his pain. When you learn, it’s more emotional and you feel so much more for his character when the truth is revealed. Maybe that’s just me, but knowing firsthand is kind of cheap and ruins the experience. I mean, if a movie isn’t going to have a solid plot, at least keep the mystery alive.

I’ve never cried during a movie, but sometimes I can understand why people do. I connect with the film on a different level and feel for the characters. Like I said…I don’t cry, but you won’t see me laughing at you if you do, and as Netflix states on the categories for this film – it’s a drama and tearjerker. It’s one of the few that I would understand getting to people. That’s all I have to say about that.

The Good:

This movie has one of the best performances put on my Adam Sandler in a long time, he does a great job performing as a grief-stricken man barely holding on – and his friendship with Don Cheadle’s character is so perfect…it just all fits together.

The Bad:

The film is a little long, and there are lulling moments where you really do want the movie to move along faster and get to the point.

The Random:

At first Adam Sandler declined his part because he was terrified of it, although he thought the character was incredible after he read the script.

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Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp-Fiction

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A filmmaking goldmine.

Not too long ago, I posted a list of 250 movies I haven’t reviewed that I would someday like to. Movies with titles everyone would recognize, and one of those was Pulp Fiction. This was one of the films in the list that I haven’t actually seen. There’s a few reasons why, as well. I’ve actually been avoiding it for the same reason I’ve been avoiding reviewing Star Wars. Pulp Fiction is a highly popular and iconic film, and I’m not sure if I have the ability to give it justice in a review because I’m partial to newer movies, as well as films that make more sense for the general public. I couldn’t just not watch this movie though, I had to see what the big deal was, and why everyone just ate this film up. So here goes nothing.

I wish I could just sit here and tell you what the movie is about, but I don’t think it really works like that. I don’t think it’s really about anything. The beginning even states and defines that pulp as a soft, moist, and shapeless mass off matter. That’s what this movie is. It’s shapeless, it’s out of sequence, and the story isn’t as important or strong as any other movie you’ll watch. I don’t think anyone watches this film for the story, but rather the people, the dialogue, and how it is all stitched together. If I could give you an idea on the plot – I’d say a godfather type gangster sends people on missions for him and kills people that go against his orders and a bunch of other crap goes down.

I went in watching it trying to understand and follow the story and I was having a pretty rough time. Because it was out of order, there’s just no way to follow what’s going on, it just seems random. If you follow my reviews, it’s never good when you run into random. Sometimes it is though, so I held on. People do love this movie, so that has to be for a reason. Okay, so the next thing you’ll realize is there is a lot of dialogue in this movie. It is dialogue-heavy like nothing else. It might even remind you of a theatre production there is so much talking. Normally, I’m also not a huge fan of that, but the way these conversations are written…it’s just brilliant. They transform these random characters following a random story into very unique and loveable characters.

There is no main character, which is again an element I usually hate within movies, but somehow Quentin Tarantino did it again and made me invested in everything that was actually happening throughout. In short – the movie is cut into three main structured acts that very much differ from each other, but are also connected in other ways. Each one has very subtle but strong themes that pretty much define the human species to a T.

The Good:

Alright, so this is a bit complicated, and I’ll try to be as clear as possible. Pulp Fiction is filled to the brim with filmmaking techniques that I absolutely hate. Things like an unclear plot, no main character, too much talking, jumbled up plot points, a very clear and pointless McGuffin, and a ton of others – but….they were done somehow brilliantly…in a way that I could actually love. This is a cult hit because there is literally nothing like it out there today. It is bold, but for the most part…everything people say about it is absolutely true.

The Bad:

Even though Tarantino did his job well by taking things I hate and turning them into things I love…it was still filled with things I hate to see in film. I can’t forgive that. I still think it’s a wonderful and unique film that is filmmaking gold, though. Filmmakers, watch this film, just look at how they did the camerawork, the sound editing, how they wrote it, how they stitched it together. It’s amazing. Now…the general public doesn’t have the eyes of a filmmaker and can’t appreciate the same things. When they watch a movie, they simply want to do just that. Watch a movie with a beginning, middle, and end with a solid plot. This is a complicated film which I don’t think everyone can appreciate because of those things I mentioned before about what I hate in film. I could get over them because of my history in filmmaking. Not everyone can.

Memorable Quote:

(practically everything said in the movie)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemarys-Baby

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Supposedly it’s scary?

Recently, I heard about a short series that NBC is doing based on Rosemary’s Baby, and with all of my recent horror film marathons, I never actually saw the movie version. I’ve heard about it, sure, but never seen it. It’s a classic, they’ll say, but this is one of the few classic horror films that was never remade…why is that? It’s a horror film masterpiece they’ll also say, but is that really so, being in the late ‘60s? How scary can it really be? I tend to answer these questions and more in this review…but here’s a hint…it’s aged horror that doesn’t feel like horror and definitely doesn’t scare..

Alright, so here’s the story. Rosemary and her husband, Guy, move into a super luxurious apartment building in New York City. See, Guy is a struggling actor and he is trying to make it big. Meanwhile, Rosemary is…well…a woman…who does laundry and bears children, and I think that’s all she does. Anyways, they decide to have some kids, but not before they meet some of the most peculiar neighbors ever, who apparently chant at night. One night, when she is having a nightmare of an animal or beast raping her, she finds out that her husband couldn’t wait to have a kid, raped her while she slept….it doesn’t exactly put it in those words, but let’s be fair and honest. He flat out raped her. Now she’s pregnant, and things just keep getting weirder and weirder as Rosemary begins to learn the truth about her neighbors.

Let’s take a trip back to the late ‘60s. I’m sure back then people were all like – golly what a show, I sure am spooked. Now? I don’t even understand why it’s called horror other than a few mentions of witches and spells. You don’t see anything and you barely even hear anything…it feels like a ‘60s movie. With that weird, cheesy acting style… As far as horror goes, there’s nothing here to be afraid of nor nightmare-inducing. I can praise a few things about it though.

Like the fact that it is relatively original and unpredictable. I’ve heard enough about the story to know the baby is a demon spawn, but I didn’t actually know how it’d end. Part of me was expecting a similar moment to Alien with a beastly hand ripping through her stomach. Another part of me suspected it would be learned the whole thing was actually reasonably explained through insanity on Rosemary’s part. There were a number of ways it could actually end, and I was somewhat impressed with the fact that I actually had no idea what it would be. So in a way, it was like a mystery. But horror, it was not.

Look, I don’t want to trash the ‘60s too much, but the horror genre benefits off of modern technology. The plain fact of the matter is we were a lot more in tune with our imaginations back then, and it didn’t take much to spook us, so the actual tone of the movie wasn’t very important. We all know the dark tones of a horror film well, and Rosemary’s Baby, while having a dark title, was still very light toned. I’m sure it’ll scare your grandma’s pants off…so there’s that? I will say that I’m interested in seeing what NBC does with it. Short series based off of horror stories sometimes are a lot better because they can flesh out those details that made the original story that good. Plus the fact that we can make it actually feel like a horror flick is always good…maybe they’ll actually be able to do something with it.

The Good:

Guess what? This film came out in the late ‘60s, so if you are in your late 60s, it might actually scare you! Let’s be fair, the film had a decent amount of originality and a fair amount of unpredictable things that happen.

The Bad:

It is an extinct race of horror right here. I review for a modern audience, and this has very little to offer that audience. It is not scary, it’s very…’60s with some overacting and cheesy music that follows a somewhat interesting story.

Memorable Quote:

Rosemary Woodhouse: I dreamed someone was raping me. I think it was someone inhuman.

Guy Woodhouse: Thanks a lot.