Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Unconventional Movie Review: Limitless (2011)

Inspired by my hilarious friend Justin over at (check it out for laughs) I've decided to try a different approach to the following movie review. Since I really really care what people think of me, please feel free to let me know how I did.

Limitless (2011)
Director - Neil Burger
PG-13; 105 min
Bradley Cooper - Eddie Morra
Robert De Niro - Carl Van Loon
Abbie Cornish - Lindy

Bradley Cooper is not, I repeat NOT, a Social Network/Matrix hybrid figure in the film Limitless, as much as the above photo capture would lead you to believe.  He is still just a smirky actor with a charmed life fooling everyone (though not me, Bradley, not me) into thinking he is the wittiest, most handsome, beautiful lips and eyes and chest and... whatever.  He is a fraud.  But that's ok, I guess, since he serves a purpose, which is to be 'that guy' in a string a films that will make a profit and leave people remembering him as 'that guy' from 'that movie' about a hangover in Vegas who also was in a whole lot of movies that nobody can ever remember the names of, and somehow find themselves thinking he was ever in something decent (FYI - re-watch the Hangover sober and tell me with a straight face it isn't actually a pretty bad movie, I mean, really not that funny when you get past a few good scenes, like, unwatchable a second time actually, especially when the Chinese guy gets all naked and the cars start getting in crashes and things just aren't really funny at all and the scene with Mike Tyson goes on too long, etc, etc.) If Charlie Sheen is Winning in life then Bradley Cooper his the motherfucking' lottery.

For those of you (all of you, I'm guessing) who fall into the above category of not quite sure you know Cooper from anything other than the Vegas thing, Cooper has 'starred' in such hits as: I want to Marry Ryan Banks (2004/tv); Failure to Launch (2006 - not the star); Alias (TV - he liked Jennifer Garner a lot); Yes Man (2008 - not the star); New York, I Love You (2009 - great movie - do you remember it???); All About Steve (2009 - masterful, though I didn't see it either); Valentine's Day (2010).  Somewhere recently in there he was a dude at a bachelor party in Las Vegas in a movie that simply wasn't anywhere near as good as people give it credit for, remember it for, or saw sober (disclaimer - I cannot possibly know what you saw in The Hangover (2009) as a comedy if you were yourself en route to a massive hangover - you see what I did there?)

This is where I am obligated to sigh and say that I digress.

So I saw this movie and I knew what I was getting into, I mean, I saw the trailer and a few previews, etc, and it's not like I was expecting anything great, but I did get fooled into thinking it would be a decent time killer, and by decent I mean that more than 50% of the movie would be pretty good and a little less than 50% of the movie would be a letdown, and in that regard it was a letdown because it was about 45% likable and 55% terrible, and by terrible I don't mean incoherent, I mean PG-13 for a movie that should have been R and wasted lots of opportunities to show more naked girls, I mean, seriously dropped the ball, and then it gets all preachy and he chooses his ex-girlfriend almost immediately over getting all kinds of strange, and, and, and....  I mean, Bradley Cooper AND Robert 'Raging Bull' De Niro, together? Not sure my heart can take it.

I pulled up my big boy diapers and decided to fork over some hard earned cash to see if director Neil Burger could move me to a difference of opinion.  It was going to take a monumental effort and he definitely failed, though not as hard a fail as, say, The Warrior's Way (2010) (completely un-related to anything about this movie or cast) in which Kate Bosworth simply massacres a role that she was born for! (a wild west chick from a broken home seeking revenge and caught up in ninja warrior battles, obviously....brilliant!)

I still love Kate from Blue Crush (2002) in a surfer role that won my heart, almost, but then I remembered just how much I truly loved Rachel McAdams and all was right in the world. It also helped that Kate went all eating-disorder on herself and weighed like 71 pounds for a while. Kate still looked great walking out of my hotel room though.

Hi Kate
Hellllo Rachel

In all due respect to Abbie Cornish, who plays Cooper's on again/off again girlfriend in the movie, it astounds me that they wouldn't go with a much higher calibre of hotness for a guy who basically has the world open up to him and can get anything he seemingly wants, including a babbling Chinese woman in the hallway who hates him. The movie is set up with a premise that this guy can take a pill and access 100% of his brain power and all doors open up to him, and within a few days of realizing all his dreams he is back trying to convince his ex that he has changed... But not before he bangs the annoying Chinese girl in the hallway and takes a trip to some beach with a bunch of random people and at some point has sex with and possibly murders a model.  Ooook Abbie. Sure you're the love of his life at this point. Way to ruin a plot line.

Abbie Cornish - hot, but not 'limitless' hot

'limitless' hot acceptability would be, but not limited to:

Adriana Lima

Kathy Ireland from many years ago

Jenna Haze (this is the only photo on the entire internet I feel comfortable posting here, but trust me, she would be a 'limitless' type girl)

And so it is that these little clear pills make Cooper's character 'see' the world differently.  He writes his book that he has never been able to get to...he turns a little bit of stolen cash into millions playing the stock market because he figures out the system... and of curse he takes a job with a big time company headed by Robert De Niro in yet another phone it in role, this time as a successful businessman who hires Cooper to work out a big stock merger.

Let's pause here for a moment and come back to reality for just one second.  Cooper takes pills that make him superman.  He bangs two girls then begs his ex girlfriend to take him back.  He takes a JOB after making millions on his own. Then things get weird and the story goes on and on and on and at some point it's like, really? You're trying to make this a serious movie? And then a knife fight breaks out and people die and invincible rooms get broken into in a matter of minutes with a...wait for it....wait for it... chainsaw! and glass that should be bulletproof is shattered by bullets and clips that should hold maybe 20 shots unload for what seems like hours and people just don't die damn it and then they do and then the end comes and all I want to do is shake my head and wonder who the hell decided to wrap up the movie with a a page or two of back and forth dialogue that simply had to be written, produced, directed and cast by the great Michael Bay himself.

So dreamy and yet such a shitty shitty director

The movie scores a 'whatever' on the ranking scale I use to determine how to tell people what I think about a movie.  It's not great, it's not good, it's not horrible, it's not really that bad... it's a whole lot of 'whatever.'

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recently viewed on Netflix, though not all recent

Welcome to the Rileys (2010) - 4 out of 5 - Gandolfini and Stewart make an odd couple and take part in a scenario that surely would never happen in real life, but somehow it all works and I really enjoyed it. A man on business who is experiencing personal crisis befriends a young, runaway stripper in New Orleans and both learn a thing a or two.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) - 4 out of 5 - I saw it when I was younger and decided to watch again. While I appreciate the humor and the seriousness combined, the film does not overwhelm me the way many classics do. Perhaps if you grew up with more of the threat of the bomb it would have a bigger impact on you, or perhaps I just didn't get some of it. A very good movie worth seeing if nothing else than to watch Peter Sellers play 3 characters very well.

Monsters (2010) - 4 out of 5 - Very overlooked film from 2010 about alien life on eartht hat is quarantined mainly in an area between Mexico and the United States. This low budget film makes the most of a 2 person story that hardly ever shows the 'aliens' but when it does it gets the most out of it. Suspense build up is decent but not the point in this slow moving (at times) film with a decent payoff.

American Splendor (2003) - 4 out of 5 - Paul Giamatti is one of my favorite actors and he does a very good job portraying Harvey Pekar, an underground comic writer who portrayed his daily life in Cleveland, Ohio for over 20 years. The film is depressing in nature, due to his life in general, and though I wanted to love the movie it actually is too cynical for even me at times. A strange pacing may not make it likeable to many, but I think it does a great job at mixing up conventional story telling.

The Hustler (1961) 5 out of 5 - Paul Newman reprised his role as Fast Eddie Felson when he mentored a cocky Tom Cruise in the sequel The Color Of Money, but many have overlooked the great film that got him there. With a great performance by Jackie Gleeson as Minnesota Fats, Felson takes his attitude and skill with him to the pool halls looking for money and the best game ever played.

The Conversation (1974) 4 and 1/2 out of 5 - Francis Ford Coppola directed this film as his follow up to the Godfather and it appears it has been forgotten or overlooked by many, though it was nominated for best picture at the Oscars. Gene Hackman is wonderful as a man conflicted when his hire-for-pay job as a surveillance expert puts him in a moral dilemma when he learns some intimiate facts about the people he is paid to follow. The pacing of the first half of the film is so slow at times it may feel brutal to some, and for me it is the only reason I do not love this film - it is done very well and the impact is great, but it is not one I would sit through again.

Citizen Kane (1941) 5 out of 5 - I'd seen it before, but not for a long time in entirety, and there is simply no way for me to separate myself from everything I have ever heard or read about this film, one that is often found at the top of many 'best of' lists in various categories. What can I say? It's a really good fun film from a fun time in cinema. It is campy at times and then it is serious, and it has an ending that has never stopped being talked about. Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane (widely believed to have been based on William Randolph Hearst) is commanding and graceful. I watched the entire movie once then watched it again with the Roger Ebert commentary - it is well worth the second watch to hear all about the making of this film from Ebert and he sheds so much light on camera angles, artwork, sound, etc that it is a major mistake to not hear his thoughts (before he lost his voice.)