Category Archives: Dark

Heathers (1989)

What is your damage, Heather?

— Veronica Sawyer

Heathers is the kind of movie that you would know a couple of lines of dialogue without watching a single frame of the movie. This was that time. I knew what the premise was all about. This movie makes Mean Girls seem like child’s play. It was so dark and twisted than I was expecting.

Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) is desperate to be part of the popular crowd that she aligns herself with the most powerful clique in Westerburg High School, the Heathers. Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) is the queen bee with her lackeys Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) and Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty).

The problem is that Veronica despises the girls that she is associating with. She vents her frustrations against the Heathers in her diary. Her affluent life seems insignicant in comparsions to the other students in school when she meets a rebel named Jason Dean (Christian Slater) shows her the way to live life on the edge.

Heather Chandler invites Veronica to a college party at Remington University where things spiral out of control. Veronica drinks, vomits and wants to leave the party early. Heather C. is pissed at Veronica for embarrassing her that she vows to destroy her reputation at school.

Veronica doesn’t want that to happen. She confides in Jason about trying to get rid of Heather C. While Heather C. is sleeping off her alcohol induced stupor at her house, the toxic duo decides to mix drain cleaner with milk to give to her. When Heather C dies, she becomes even more popular than ever. Veronica realizes that who you associate with would change you forever.

I kinda knew that the movie was going to be dark in nature, but I didn’t know how dark it was going to get. It was jarring for me. I thought that I would end up hating it, but I didn’t. It was kind of a reminder that popularity is fleeting. People could be so consumed with it that they would kill for it. It’s really sad.

Judgment: If you don’t like this movie, what is your damage?

Rating: ****

A Serious Man (2009)

I feel like the carpet’s been yanked out from under me.

— Larry Gopnik

The Coen Brothers are notorious for having masterful dramas and dreadful comedies. The recent release of their dark comedy, A Serious Man delves more into their past growing up in 1960s Minnesota. I never heard of this film until I saw that odd trailer for it. This is movie is getting some solid notices from audiences and critics. I think myself being goyim may lessen my enjoyment of this film and it does to a certain point.

This movie has employed Jewish lore with a flashback to a turn of the century house where a husband and wife, Velvel and Dora (Allen Lewis Rickman, Yelena Shmulenson) is visited by a dybbuk in the form of Reb Groshkover (Fyvush Finkel). A dybbuk is apparently a ghost that visits a family and God forever curses them.

Once you get into the movie, you have to wonder if the couple is ancestors of Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), because this physics professor is in flux. His brother, Arthur (Richard Kind) has a persistent cyst crashes on their couch for months. His daughter, Sarah (Jessica McManus) has been continually stealing money out of his wallet to pay for a nose job. His son, Danny (Aaron Wolf), who is about to be bar mitzvahed is a pot dealer/smoker. His wife, Judith (Sari Lennick) unexpectedly drops the bomb that she is leaving him for their mutual friend, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed).

Sy and Judith think that is best for Larry to move out of the house to stay at a local Jolly Roger’s motel with his brother. They want to get a “get”, a spiritual divorce before the two of them get married. On top of all that, he is up for tenure at his job which it is threatened when a student, Clive (David Kang) getting a failing grade on his final exams brides him for a better grade. After Larry threatened to go the school officials about the bribery, one of the administrators, Arlen Finkle (Ari Hoptman) begins receiving defamatory letters about Larry to his office.

The movie is divided into three sections where Larry meets with different rabbis to help him cope with his shitty life. He visits the young junior rabbi, the regular rabbi, but he wants to meet the granddaddy of them all, Rabbi Marshak (Alan Mandell) to find some solace in his life.

Not being Jewish, I felt like most of this movie went over my head entirely. I wouldn’t say that I hated this movie. This movie was not made for me. That’s the biggest problem with the movie. I don’t have an “in”.

I thought that Michael Stuhlbarg was very good in the role of Larry Gopnik. His character reminded me of myself. A doormat that is sick on being stepped on. I also enjoyed the odd calmness of Sy Ableman as well.

Judgment: You have to have the inside knowledge to truly understand this movie.

Rating: ***1/2

Jennifer’s Body (2009)


It smells like Thai food in here. Have you guys been fucking?

— Jennifer

Jennifer’s Body is the follow up to screenwriter Diablo Cody’s Oscar winning, Juno. After watching some of her work on television with The United States of Tara and this, I have a feeling that she was just a one trick pony.

Taking place in Devil’s Kettle (how fitting of a name?), the story mostly revolves around Needy (Amanda Seyfried) spiraling into madness after what happened to her classmates months prior.

She recounts the good times that she had with her boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons) and her best friend, Jennifer (Megan Fox). The girls are the unlikeliest of friends, she is nerdy girl and Jennifer’s the popular beautiful cheerleader. Everybody questions why they are hanging out together. She doesn’t see anything wrong with that.

One night when the girls are at bar, there is a fire. Lots of death and destruction. Needy is torn up about it, but Jennifer is cavalier about it. She goes into the back of the van of the band playing that night, Low Shoulder. Needy has a bizarre incident when Jennifer back at her house when she appears covered in blood and puking black sludge.

Needy notices a change in her friend. It turns out that Jennifer is not “high school evil”. She is possessed by soul sucking sex demon that is killing the boys in the school in order to keep up her exterior beauty. If she doesn’t feed, she would look like a hot ass mess.

There is a reason why Jennifer is turned into the demon. I will discuss that in the spoiler section of the review.

The reasons to see this movie is Amanda Seyfried. She is very good in the movie. Very convincing. There is also the signature Diablo Cody dialogue that saves the film from being total shit.

Megan Fox is not horrible in the movie. She was fine. I think she was better when she was in her bitchy dark humor mode. Everything else falls flat.

Judgment: This movie tries to be a 2000 version of Heathers. Fail.

Rating: ***

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World’s Greatest Dad (2009)


Lance Clayton is about to get everything he deserves.

This is my first experience with a Bobcat Goldthwait movie. Not seeing the doggie blowjob movie, I was not expecting much from this movie. The /Filmcast were reviewing the movie recently and I heard people praising this movie from Sundance. The praise was well justified.

(The following will contain plots and minor spoilers to set up the premise of the movie. You have been warned.)

World’s Greatest Dad tells the story of the ho-hum life of Lance Clayton (Robin Williams). He is a poetry teacher at his son’s high school. Lance is an aspiring fiction writer that is having trouble getting his work published. He is rejected from numerous publishing houses.

Lance is secretly dating fellow teacher, Claire Reed (Alexie Gilmore), even though she has a budding friendship with the more attractive teacher, Mike (Henry Simmons).

Lance’s teenaged son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), the pervy asshole is fixated on anything about vaginas, oral sex or the Hershey highway accidentally kills himself from auto-erotic asphyxiation. Rather than be embarrassed the ramifications if the news broke, he stages the scene that he hanged himself and wrote a suicide note.

Lance tries to put the pieces back together. He seeks solace with his girlfriend, a next-door neighbor, and Kyle’s best friend, Andrew (Evan Martin).

After the news spread throughout the school, students who barely Kyle wanted to know everything about him. Lance has to lie about Kyle being a torture soul that was a brilliant writer in order to get his foot in the door for national discovery.

On the surface, the plot would be ridiculous with the entire school going gaga over Kyle’s death. People would view this movie different. Personally, this movie shows the American public’s fascination with a tragedy to try to exploit it and profit from it.

This movie was funny, but it had some touching moments that made me tear up.

In the end, the title of the movie is ironic. I can’t spoil it any further. All I can say is that you can expect some things and unexpectedly things will happen.

Judgment: If you want to see a good movie or you are a fan of Bruce Hornsby, watch this movie.

Rating: ****1/2

Trainspotting (1996)


We would have injected vitamin C if only they had made it illegal!

— Mark “Rent-boy” Renton

Trainspotting was the film that broke, director Danny Boyle into the mainstream conscienceness back in 1996. I caught bits and pieces of this movie over the years. Last night, I saw the film in its entirety.

This film is on the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb coming in at #170. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for John Hodge.

Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting is about the narrator, Mark “Rent-boy” Renton (Ewan McGregor). Along with his social misfits friends that are waist deep into the waters of full blown heroin abuse and the ramifications that come from that.

Renton wants to have a better life than the one that he has now. His “friends”, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and Tommy (Kevin McKidd) take this journey with him as well. The friends are stuck in their little corner of Edinburgh.

Renton develops a relationship with Dianne, played by Kelly Macdonald in her feature film debut. That leads him into making life altering decisions that affects his relationship with his friends, his family and himself as a person.

This is a solid effort by Boyle about the reality and consequences of drug use. Either you destroy the drug or the drug destroys you. Simple as that.

Judgment: If you want to see the gritty realism of Scottish youth, check this film out.

Rating: ****

The Prestige (2006)


Never show anyone. They’ll beg you and they’ll flatter you for the secret, but as soon as you give it up… you’ll be nothing to them.

— Alfred Borden

After seeing the craptacular spectacle that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I wanted to see a better Hugh Jackman movie. I thought that I might see The Prestige. This movie came out in 2006 with the double bill of it’s companion piece, The Illusionist with Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel.

This movie is currently #82 of the Top 250 of All Time on IMDB. I think that this movie is overrated. I love Christopher Nolan, but this movie is a mess. When you get the twist, the rest of the movie makes no sense. I will discuss the ending in the spoiler section.

Based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Priest, brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan tried to make another Memento, but Memento was more clever than this movie. It was contrived to say the least.

It is almost the turn of the 19th century, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are rival magicians that are trying to upstage each other.

After a freak accident that leads to the death of Robert’s wife, Julia (Piper Perabo), Robert is determined to make Alfred pay from his crime.

The movie mainly focuses on “The Transporting Man” trick with the magician disappearing from one door and appears at another door when an flying object is at play.

Angier’s mentor, Cutter (Michael Caine), the assistant, Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) tell Alfred not to pursue upstaging Borden. It would only lead to disaster. Angier doesn’t want to hear it. His hard-headness leads into bizarre obsessive stalker territory.

Next, Angier is so consumed with his determination to beat Borden that he enlists a mad scientist, Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) and his assistant, Alley (Andy Serkis) to make a device to replicate himself. (This is not a spoiler. It’s revealed at the beginning of the movie.) Even Tesla tells Angier not to go ahead with the trick.

I was bored throughout the movie. It was over two hours long. It felt even longer. The plot is ridiculous and improbable for turn-of-the-century London.

Judgment: Avoid this movie like the plague.

Rating: **

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Observe and Report (2009)


The world has no use for another scared man. Right now, the world needs a fucking hero.

— Ronnie Barnhardt

I was curious to see Observe and Report because of the dark comic nature of the piece from writer/director, Jody Hill of The Foot Fist Way. Hill wanted the movie to be a comedic take on Taxi Driver. People have been comparing Ronnie Barnhardt to Travis Bickle. I guess, Hill succeeded in that regard, but not in other regards.

I saw the red band trailer for the movie. I was intrigued to see it.  Some of the biggest laughs were spoiled in that trailer.

Ronnie (Seth Rogen) is a gun-toting, self-absorbed, bi-polar security guard that blows Paul Blart out of the water as he tries to catch a flasher that is stalking the mall. The flasher eventually exposes himself to Brandi (Anna Faris), a makeup counter girl and Ronnie’s infatuation.

Ronnie tries his best to swoop in and save the day when Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) is called in to help catch the flasher also. Ronnie doesn’t want any interference from the police department.

He calls in his troops; the right hand man Dennis (Michael Peña), the Yuen twins (Matt and John Yuan), and lastly, the reluctant Charles (Jesse Plemons).

Ronnie moves in on Harrison’s investigation by trying to figure out another crime that happened at a shoe store. Ronnie blames any brown-skinned person that he talks to including, Saddamn (Aziz Ansari).

During the course of the movie, the tone goes into a very dark place. The last thirty minutes of the movie are FUBAR. Inexplicable guns appearing, a “date rape” scene — that was so brief — that was the scene that got people up in arms, endless violence, a slow motion male frontal nudity shot, and copious amounts of drugs.

Judgment: I love a comedy that have a dark sense of humor, but this movie is flawed. Watch In Bruges instead.

Rating: **1/2

Frank Miller’s Sin City (2005)


“And after I pull off that miracle, maybe I’ll go punch out God.”

— John Hartigan

Sin City is currently #94 of all time on IMDB. I have seen a scene of the film when I was flipping through the cable channels a couple of months ago. I watched the film for the first time yesterday. I wanted to see it, because of Angelina Jolie’s possible involvement in the sequel.

This movie pioneered the faithful adaptation of the graphic novels. Based the graphic novels by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez with guest director, Quentin Taratino crafted this highly-stylized version of L.A.

The movie is broken up in three segments. The first segment deals with John Haritgan (Bruce Willis), an older cop that has a heart condition is trying to save a little girl, Cordelia (Makenzie Vega) from a pedophile, Roark Junior (Nick Stahl). He is betrayed by his fellow officer, Bob (Michael Madsen).

The second segment deals with a disfigured man, Marv (Mickey Rourke) who is accused of killing a hooker Goldie (Jaime King) that he loves. He is trying to find the person that really killed Goldie. There is a mysterious man in long nails, Kevin (Elijah Wood), the political clout of  Senator Roark and Cardinal Roark (Powers Boothe, Rutger Hauer).  There is also an instance with the working girls of Ol’ Town.

The final segment deals with Dwight (Clive Owen) seeking revenge when Jackie Boy (Benicio del Toro) strikes Shellie (Brittany Murphy). Dwight gets mixed with the working girls of Ol’ Town, including Gail (Rosario Dawson), Miho (Devon Aoki) and Becky (Alexis Bledel).

It was a good film, but I did not like the various voice-overs. There were some plot holes. There were some instances that I found to hard to believe, for example, people getting shot, having sledgehammers to the face, etc. Are they superhuman? I did get the intentions of Sen. Roark.

Judgment: I was an enjoyable film overall, but I think this film is overrated.

Rating: ***1/2

The Departed (2006)


When I was growing up, they would say you could become cops or criminals. But what I’m saying is this. When you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?

— Frank Costello

The winner of Best Pictures in 2006, The Departed won four Oscars including, Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. It currently at the time of this posting #52 of the Top 250 of all time on IMDB.

I have not watched this movie in its entirety before last night. I tried to watch it one time a couple of months ago when it was on the cable. I was so annoyed by the overwhelming Bostonian accents that I shut it off. I don’t know why, but I have a hang up with the Bostonian accent. It bugs the hell out of me.

This movie was the American remake of the 2002 Hong Kong thriller, Infernal Affairs that I haven’t seen yet.

The plot revolves around two cadets, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). Costingan is recruited to go undercover by Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) to help take down crime boss, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson).

Sullivan is secretly working for Costello who help raise him from when he was a little boy.

As the two men go deeper with “Who is the rat?” and “Who is the mole?”, revelations come out that lead to tragic consequences.

I have seen some of Martin Scorsese’s movies. I don’t think that this movie is his finest work. I have some issues with Jack Nicholson’s laughable characterization, the quick cuts, the convenient plot twists that I saw from mile away, the last shot of the film and numerous others.

I was bored during the first hour of this 2 1/2 hour opus. A whole bunch of talking that needed to trimmed are jettisoned all together. When the plot twist that happens at the hour mark, then I was invested in the film. It was uneven to me.

Judgment: If you want to see smart characters, a head shot extravaganza and Jack Nicholson’s hilarious performance, I would suggest this film.

Rating: ****

Watchmen (2009)

I caught a 10:15 matinee of Watchmen. This is one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of 2009. After the hoopla with the Fox lawsuit over the rights, this movie was on the top of my radar. Why was this film in production limbo for over twenty years before Warner Bros had the balls to make the film?

I have to have major gripe before the movie started. I went to an AMC 30 to watch this movie. They were so many previews, that I was about to “Button out” when people had their cell phones out and little kids seeing this movie were screaming. Also, there were at least eight trailers, including Observe and Report, Public Enemies, Terminator Salvation, Up, Star Trek and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The audacity of Fox.

Background. I have never read the original source material prior to watching this movie. I think it was a good idea that I didn’t. I wouldn’t be as nit picky if I did.

The plot takes in an alternative U.S. in the year 1985 where Richard Nixon (Robert Wisden) is in his fifth term as president. The world is in a state of nuclear annihilation between the Soviets and the US. The movie chronicles the Minutemen, a vigilante group disguised as superheros from 1940 to 1985 where one of the original Minutemen was killed in the beginning sequence of the film.

The remnants to the governmental disbanded group have to rally together to solve the murder of the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). (It’s not a spoiler. It happens at the beginning of the movie.) Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) tries to warn the others about their safety. He searches to some of the deepest, darkest parts of NYC to find answers.

He meets his old comrades like Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre II (Malin Ackerman), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup).

Rorschach tries to find out who wanted to kill the Comedian.

I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed with the movie. The action sequences were few and far between. I wish there was more. Rorschach can kick some ass. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are not too bad either.

I have to say that the soundtrack of the movie, puzzled me. It was so jukebox. The women didn’t have much to do in this movie, except bend over. Wow. When I saw 300, Queen Gorgo was much more fleshed out then either of the Silk Spectres in this movie Ackerman and Carla Gugino. I really didn’t like Matthew Goode. Something was a little off with him.

I liked to way that they changed the ending. It was more believable to me than in the graphic novel that I heard.

Judgment: This movie is endless rewatchable, but felt lacking.

Rating: ****

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