Poll Results: Favorite Matthew McConaughey Movie

Awwwww yeah….

Matthew McConaughey

THE RESULTS:
– Dazed and Confused: 8 votes
– Killer Joe: 6 votes
– Mud: 6 votes
– The Lincoln Lawyer: 6 votes
– Bernie: 3 votes
– Reign of Fire: 3 votes
– U-571: 2 votes
– Contact: 1 vote
– Edtv: 1 vote
– How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: 1 vote
– Magic Mike: 1 vote
– The Paperboy: 1 vote
– We Are Marshall: 1 vote

The write-ins:
– Tropic Thunder: 1 vote
– “dr.Mario”: 1 vote (???)

“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

This Week’s Poll: Today was arguably the biggest day of the year for video games, as both Microsoft and Sony played their cards at E3 and really started to push their new consoles. My question for you is: Based on today’s presentations at E3, what is going to be your main system of choice for the next generation of games? I’ll refrain from sharing my thoughts just yet, but I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to be the winner here.

Did you watch any of the E3 conferences today? What impressed you the most?

Poll Results: Best Vietnam War Film

We had a pretty good turnout for this poll, and it resulted in a surprising tie:

apocalypse-now-posterthe-deer-hunter-poster

THE RESULTS:
– Apocalypse Now: 11 votes
– The Deer Hunter: 11 votes
– Full Metal Jacket: 8 votes
– Platoon: 6 votes
– Born on the Fourth of July: 2 votes
– Good Morning, Vietnam: 2 votes
– Coming Home: 1 vote
– Hamburger Hill: 1 vote
– We Were Soldiers: 1 vote

I guess my initial prediction of Apocalypse Now and Platoon finishing 1-2 was way off here. Did not expect so many fans of The Deer Hunter to show up, but I’m not complaining. That is a hell of a film right there. Nice to see a handful of others get some votes as well.

This Week’s Poll: Sticking with movies this week, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Matthew McConaughey’s career. The man has had an impressive resurgence lately, and it had me thinking about some of his best roles. What are your TWO favorite Matthew McConaughey movies? Are you a fan of his early work, a la Dazed and Confused and A Time to Kill? Did you enjoy his romcom period? Or are some of his recent films already on your list of favorites?

Have a great week, folks!

Movie Review: Mud [2013]

Mud [2013]

Mud [2013]
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenplay: Jeff Nichols
Genre: Drama
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon
Running Time: 130 minutes

Much like the water/soil mixture of the same name, Mud, Jeff Nichols’ latest film, is a mixture of a number of elements. This is part “coming of age”, part love story and part mystery/thriller. While sometimes films fail when mixing so many themes together, that is not the case here. With Mud, all ideas are expertly interwoven in a film that is as American as it gets.

Set deep along the Mississippi River in rural Arkansas, Mud tells the tale of two 14-year-old boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who together share a wild adventurous spirit. They ride dirtbikes and regularly sneak off on afternoon boat trips to a hidden island down the river. One day, they notice a boat in a tree on this island. While exploring what they believe to be their new treehouse, they discover that someone is actually living there. Shortly thereafter, they meet this inhabitant, a man who only goes by “Mud” (Matthew McConaughey).

Mud [2013]

It turns out that Mud is on this secluded island for a reason — he’s on the run from the law. The fact that he is a wanted fugitive doesn’t deter the boys from developing an unlikely friendship with him. As Mud tells them about his long-lost love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), the boys make an oath to help him find his lady and ride off to the sunset.

There are other factors at play as well. Ellis is feeling distant from his soon-to-be-separated parents (played by the fantastic Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson), and surely this is part of the reason why he is so drawn to Mud. Ellis also has a love interest of his own — Maypearl (Bonnie Sturdivant) — with two first names, just like his mother. No matter that she is a few years older than him; Ellis is the type of feller who isn’t afraid to ask her to be his girlfriend after just one date.

Mud [2013]

The comradery between Ellis and Neckbone is tremendous. These two young boys really do feel like they are best friends, and both are expertly portrayed by relative newcomers to the acting biz (Sheridan was in The Tree of Life, this is Lofland’s first film). Matthew McConaughey also takes an exceptional turn as the multi-layered Mud. After several excellent Southern-fried roles in the last few years (including Killer Joe and Bernie), this manages to stand out as his best work. The supporting cast here is terrific as well. Reese Witherspoon is a surprisingly good fit as the damaged and confused Juniper, Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson make for a strong pairing as Ellis’ disgruntled parents, and Sam Shepard has a memorable appearance as the grizzled old vet who lives across the river. Even Nichols favorite, Michael Shannon, has a small role as Neckbone’s uncle/guardian.

Mud [2013]

Mud is very much an enjoyable film, but it does suffer from two notable flaws. One, it runs a little long. The film’s pacing is slow and methodical, which isn’t a problem in itself, but certain subplots and minor characters could have been reduced or even omitted with minimal loss. Two, the explosive final act feels a bit out of place after the slow burn drama leading up to that point. While exciting, the transition to this action setpiece is jarring.

Regardless, Jeff Nichols has delivered another engaging film, one that especially nails its Southern setting. Everyone involved feels like a real Southerner — even McConaughey is touched up to look more rugged — and it’s hard not to get attached to most of these characters. This is a film that makes us feel like teenagers again, and through their eyes, it’s not hard to empathize with ol’ Mud.

8/10

2012 Movie Mini-Reviews: Dredd, Seven Psychopaths, The Paperboy

I was able to indulge in a movie marathon of sorts over the weekend, catching up another few films that I missed out on last year. Here are some quick reviews for all three:

Dredd [2012]
Dredd [dir. Pete Travis]
I always know I have come across a great comic book film when it has made me want to read some of the comics afterward. The only other franchise that has made me want to do so is Batman, namely Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Now I can say the same for Dredd, a gritty action film that surprised the hell out of me.

Dredd feels like a throwback to the old school, ultra-violent 80s action movies, but in a setting not unlike last year’s kinetic Indonesian film, The Raid. Karl Urban stars as the eponymous character, a badass police officer who acts as a judge, jury and executioner. He is partnered up with a rookie, Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who is a mutant with psychic abilities. When the two of them are sent to investigate a triple homicide, they are locked into a 200-story slum tower block by the evil drug lord “Ma-Ma” (Lena Headey, completely unrecognizable from her even more sinister role as Cersei in Game of Thrones). Now, rather than capture a suspect and leave, the officers must fight for their lives to escape.

In terms of plot, Dredd is remarkably simple, but there is enough style to draw you in and not let go. This is a dark, brutal film that never really lets its foot off the pedal. Some of the visual effects — such as an overabundance of slow motion techniques — seem to have been created for 3D and therefore fall flat on DVD, but these are just small issues in what is otherwise a very enjoyable action flick. 8/10

Seven Psychopaths [2012]
Seven Psychopaths [dir. Martin McDonagh]
Seven Psychopaths is the second collaboration between director/writer Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell (the first being 2008’s critically-acclaimed In Bruges), and it doesn’t miss a beat. Farrell stars as Marty Faranan, a struggling screenwriter who gets tangled up in a ridiculous series of events when his best friend (Sam Rockwell) steals the Shih Tzu of an explosively-tempered gangster (Woody Harrelson). Like In Bruges, the writing is extremely clever and loaded with biting dark comedy and Tarantino-esque violence. Occasionally a joke will fall flat, but then another will pop up shortly after that will bring out the major laughs.

The cast here is incredible, with some noteworthy supporting roles from Christopher Walken (in his best performance in years), Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton. There’s even an amusing wink at Boardwalk Empire during the film’s opening scene, as it involves cameos from two of my favorite actors from the show: Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg. The real star here, however, is Sam Rockwell, who is an absolute riot for most of the film. His monologue in the desert is hilarious, and it is one of the best scenes I have come across this year. Seven Psychopaths may be too spastic for some, but I had a great time with the film. 8/10

The Paperboy [2012]
The Paperboy [dir. Lee Daniels]
The Paperboy is a hot mess of a film, one that revels in its trashy Southern Gothic atmosphere. The film follows two brothers, Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and Jack Jensen (Zac Efron), who are investigating a death row inmate (John Cusack) that they believe may be innocent. Or rather, Ward is looking to get a story out of this that he can write for the Herald. He doesn’t really care if the man is innocent or not. They become involved with Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), a middle-aged woman who has fallen in love with the inmate despite never meeting him.

There are many different subplots at play in The Paperboy, and as such the film never really knows where it wants to go. Occasionally there are random moments of incredibly bizarre actions — there is a certain scene involving jellyfish that everyone seems to talk about — and director Lee Daniels often appears to just throw a bunch of stuff against the wall to see if it sticks. The lack of proper direction is frustrating, but there is still an entertaining film underneath (albeit a rather filthy one). If there’s one thing the film nails, it is its visual appeal. The washed-out color tones are a perfect fit for the sticky Floridian setting. The Paperboy is all over the place, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this gather somewhat of a cult following someday. 6/10

Have you seen any of these? What did you think of them?