Tag Archives: Keanu Reeves

The Whole Truth

It’s possible that if Keanu doesn’t play a lawyer at least once per decade he’ll die. That’s the only reason I can think of to explain his casting as a lawyer ever, because he’s barely credible as the sandwich guy who delivers lunch to law firms.

hero_TheWholeTruth-2016-1In The Whole Truth, Keanu does indeed play a lawyer who is defending the son of a former colleague and longtime friend. The son is accused of killing his father, that very same former colleague and longtime friend. I’m sure Keanu would like to believe that his client is innocent, but his client isn’t talking. And his client’s mother (Renee Zellweger) is mostly weeping, and begging Keanu to save her son’s life.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who is above this material, plays a lawyer assigned to help Keanu, and be less of a dick in the courtroom than he is, which is a role that could have been fulfilled by Andy Dick or Jeremy Piven or goddamned Jim Belushi, who was actually busy playing the murder victim, but you catch my drift. It wasn’t a high bar.

Anyway. It’s derivative. It’s one of those “unravel the plot” movies probably based on a mystery novel only sold in drug stores. When “the whole truth” is finally revealed, you probably won’t be around to hear it, having already changed the channel, and you certainly won’t give a shit. The ending isn’t earned, it doesn’t pack a punch, it’s just a fart in the wind (is that a saying?).

I’m dubious, Keanu.

John Wick: Chapter 2

wickbarI lagged way behind and only saw the first John Wick a few weeks ago when it popped up on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, and like action movies, it’s a good one (definitely good enough to warrant a sequel). And that sequel is now upon us.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is faithful to the first chapter’s formula, almost to a fault. That fault is repetitiveness, in a somewhat strange way. You see, one of the things I liked about John Wick (both the first movie and the character) is that he bleeds. He makes mistakes and the bad guys capitalize. He wins in the end through sheer force of will.

The same basic formula plays out in John Wick: Chapter 2 but since it’s a sequel, everything has to be tougher for our protagonist Jonathan (note to Ian McShane: emphasizing that this hit man’s full name is “Jonathan” is weird; please stop).  The problem is the way the difficulty is ratched up. Wick is not given tougher bad guys to face. He’s just given more of them, which makes the extended fight scenes a tedious series of guys running at Wick and Wick then shooting them twice in the body and one in the head.john-wick-chapter-2-keanu-reeves-419484-jpg-r_1920_1080-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx

Or, if two guys (or more) run at him at once (a SERIOUS violation of movie bad guy etiquette) he puts one in an MMA- style hold, shoots the other(s) in the body then head, then gives a head shot to the guy he wrestled down and has probably been using as a human shield while dealing with the other(s). Keanu Reeves obviously practiced this move particularly hard and good on him for still being credible as an action hero, but a little variety would have been nice in order to continue the first movie’s realistic feel.

(Don’t even get me started on the part where Wick is specifically given a gun with limited ammo and then immediately gets a magic movie gun from the first bad guy he kills that shoots about 30 times before he has to cock it again. Or the fact that in this film every second person in Central Park is an assassin.)

There’s more good and bad, and more good than bad in John Wick: Chapter 2. But when this movie’s ending set us up for the third instalment, I immediately thought of Jason Bourne, which I seriously considered turning off on a plane. That is a bad road for John Wick to be headed down.

John Wick: Chapter 2 gets a score of six smashed-up classic Mustangs out of ten. Essentially, the opening car-smashing sequence was a metaphor, in which Wick was this movie and my goodwill toward the first movie was the car. That it was such a nice car to begin with is the most disappointing part.

 

Neon Demon

A plot? You want a plot? Try this: Elle Fanning is young. Elle Fanning is blonde. Elle Fanning is pretty. She knows it, she likes it. But it’s when she the-neon-demonstarts believing it, truly believing that her beauty is important and holds power over other people, that’s when things start to bubble.

Elle (she has some other name in the movie, probably) has recently arrived in L.A., the city one goes to when one has legs for days. She’s ripe for the picking. When things come easily for her, she buys into it. As you can imagine, this makes for lots of pretty enemies. Pretty, but not pretty enough. They’re no longer the Pretty Young Thing of the moment. She is, so she becomes their hate suck. Luckily, model types excel at verbal abuse but are just too weak from hunger to be much of a threat.

This movie is by Nicholas Winding Refn, the sick and twisted dude who came 54800_100.jpgup with that head-stomping scene in Drive. And all the other scenes in Drive. I described Neon Demon to Sean as “less plot than Drive, and with super models” and also as “this year’s weird movie” to which he replied “Beasts of the Southern Wild weird?” and I answered “No, more like High-Rise weird.” More like weird weird.

This is a polarizing movie that you’ll either love or hate. Or, if you’re like me, the-neon-demon-2016-elle-fanning-bella-heathcotenot really either of those two things. Surprise third option! I definitely didn’t hate it. Lord it has some of the coolest images I’ve seen in a film, ever. Gorgeous. Stunning. It’s one of the boldest things I’ve ever seen on film and I’m giving lots of credit to Refn’s cinematographer Natasha Braier (what! a female cinematographer??) Together, Refn and Braier create an unforgettable world that is hyper-real, extreme in both its beauty and its grit. The colour palette tells a story all on its own, progressing seamlessly from beginning to end.

And I don’t really mind it being plotless. The sparse storytelling just mimics the vacuousness of the girls. But it’s not just symbolically shallow;  I just also ellefound it to be kind of empty. Like there’s obviously an allegory here, about our culture’s emphasis on female beauty, and on a certain kind of white girl skinny beauty in particular. And the dangers of narcissism. And female cattiness, which I almost hate just on principle. But this movie didn’t make me think. Like, at all, beyond “Oh, that’s gross.” So treat it like a high fashion magazine with pretty pages to flip through. I just can’t give it much more credit than that.

Keanu

keanuoscarsthemartianmasterjpg-0d82f7_765wKeanu is not just a dark haired, sunglasses wearing Canadian. He’s also a kitten with a rare disease: cuteness. Or so we are led to believe by Comedy Central duo Key and Peele, playing cousins who would do anything to get Keanu back after he’s kitten-napped by a gang of street toughs led by the one and only Method Man. And so goes Keanu, a film that takes the two cousins from one life-threatening situation to the next, in pursuit of a cat.

Being a dog owner, I am duty bound to object to the whole premise. This movie would have been a million times more believable if Keanu was a dog. Cats are too cold and cranky for you to want to chase one all over Los Angeles. Deep down you know that cat doesn’t care about you at all. So if you lose a cat1399355_532978063457666_1736393886_o in real life, you just put up a poster and call it a day. But for a dog, that’s different. If your dog gets lost you don’t look for an hour and then call it quits. You get your ass out there and you find that fucking dog!792421_532978346790971_1133090003_o

Poor pet choice aside, Key and Peele’s adventure is an entertaining one. While there are not a ton of belly laughs, there are a lot of memorable scenes, including a fantastic George Michael singalong and some hilarious movie-themed cat pictures.

There is also something refreshing about seeing these normal guys (who happen to be black) play with stereotypes, not only with their choice of music but also with their attempts to fit in with a plethora of cat-loving gang members.  That element of satire is a welcome improvement on Hollywood’s usual reliance on racial tropes.

Writers Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens deserve a ton of credit for departing from that formula. Keanu successfully subverts the usual tropes and shows that the stereotypes we cling to are an unconscious attempt to fit into a role rather than being innate characteristics. And that’s why this dog-lover enjoyed a movie about a kitten, because it’s not really about a kitten at all.

Science Fiction (No Space, No Aliens)

TMP

You’ll have to bear with me. I’ve been back from California for less than 12 hours and I’m  alittle jet lagged. Nothing like meeting a gropey Doc Brown from Back to the Future at Universal Studios two days ago to get me thinking of my favourite science fiction movies though.

Blade Runner

Blade Runner (1982)– Director Ridley Scott makes my list two weeks in a row. Blade Runner never seems to get old though and, more than Alien or Thelma and Louise, I would say this is his best work. The best sci-fi mixes genres and this noirish detective movie take on artificial intelligence still feels unique even when viewed over thirty years later.

The Matrix

The Matrix (1999)– Speaking of mixing genres, the Wachowskis throw all their favourite things- comic books, Eastern philosophy, kung fu movies, Western religion, and John Woo movies- into their story of A.I.’s enslavery of the human race. There are at least a dozen iconic images in this movie and seeing it for the first time was one of my all-time favourite movie theater experiences.

eternal sunshine

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)– For those of us who like a little romantic comedy with our science fiction, Charlie Kaufman dreamt up his most beautiful story yet about Joel (Jim Carrey) taking advantage of a new technology to erase all memories of Clementine (Kate Winslet). It’s mostly a heartbreakingly funny exploration of how memory works and how our painful memories make us who we are but, of course, the movie also centers around a technology that hasn’t been invented yet and ponders the consequences of said technology so I am submitting what I often refer to as my favourite movie of all time as a science fiction pick.

Teen comedies

TMPLadies and Gentlemen, we’ve made it to another Thursday! This week our friend at Wandering Through the Shelves had us exploring teen comedies, which means that one of us actually sat through Porky’s. True story.

Matt

Thanks to Wandering Through the Shelves for inspiring me to watch so many great movies this week. The term “teen comedy” made me wince at first until I realized how many of them I actually love. I really struggled to get my list down to 3 this week.

American Graffiti  Set in 1962 during the last night before two high school grads head off to American Graffiticollege, four friends spend one last hilariously wild night driving around the strip trying to get laid, find someone to buy beer for them, and give a clingy 12 year-old the slip. Most teen comedies are made by filmmakers looking for easy money but, in 1973, few people thought there would be an audience for this story and Universal apparently sat on the finished film for months before finally getting around to releasing it. It became a surprise hit and one of my favourite movies of all time. Filled with energy from beginning to end- not to mention the music of the 50s and early 60s-, it’s like Superbad just with less dick drawings. It’s a rare thing to see a teen party movie made by such a celebrated and talented filmmaker (George Lucas).

HeathersHeathers- “Dear diary. My teen angst bullshit has a body count”. The genre doesn’t get much darker than this. Teen murders made to look like teen suicides inadvertently brings much-needed (albeit phony) attention from the students, faculty, and media to this very real problem. Director Michael Lehmann and writer Daniel Waters apparently made the movie partly as a reaction to the John Hughes movies that they despised and it doesn’t get much different from Pretty in Pink than this. I found the dream-like tone disorienting at first but I was quickly won over by the twistedly hilarious writing and a great lead performance by Winona Ryder.

SuperbadSuperbad- Sometimes less dick drawings isn’t necessarily a good thing. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg started working on this script when they were 13 and it shows. The pair have never written anything else so far that felt so personal. It’s filthy as it gets and quotable as hell (“The funny thing about my back is it’s located on my cock”) but what’s most impressive is that it never forgets what it’s really about. Two best friends who have been joined at the hip for years are experiencing lots of separation anxiety knowing that they’ll be going to different colleges next year but can’t bring themselves to talk about it. It’s excruciatingly awkward to watch at times but also pretty sweet. And did I mention that it’s quotable? “This plan has been fucked since Jump Street and it’s all because of that used tampon Fogell.”

Jay

superbadWell Matt and I have come to our very first agreement – Superbad. The chemistry between Michael Cera and Jonah Hill is supergood, and though neither likely attended much actual high school, they sure capture the awkwardness with great gusto.

Saved! Set in a private Christian high school, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) is lead singer in the Christian Jewels. Mary (Jena Malone), her best friend and band mate, begins to pull away as she i-am-filled-with-christs-love-saved-mandy-moore-gifdiscovers that her attempt to degay-ify her boyfriend Dean has resulted in a not-so-immaculate conception. She finds solace in the school’s only alternatives – Jewish bad girl Cas (Eva Amurri), Roland, the paralyzed atheist (Macauley Culkin), and Patrick, the skate-boarding pastor’s son (Patrick Fugit). It’s got all the familiar trappings of a classic teen comedy – the cliques and the outcasts, the bumbling parents, and the prom – they just happen to be coated thickly in Jesus. And on that level, it’s a great subversive critique of religion. Hypocrisy and high school – can you imagine a better pairing?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off   I’m expecting to see this on each and every list today because Ferris is ferristhe seminal teen comedy. We may as well have stopped making them, or at least seeing them, after this point, and nearly all that are made can’t help but reference it. Ferris Bueller, at the age of 17, knew how to take a day off. How many of us can say the same even now?

jawbreakerJawbreaker Bonus pick! This is not the best movie, but it’s a sentimental favourite. The Mean Girls of the 90s, three of the school’s most popular girls (Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, and someone else) accidentally kill the prom queen in a kidnapping prank. A cover-up of the crime is discovered by the school nerd (Judy Greer) and only the promise of a makeover and popularity will keep her quiet.

Sean

Teen Wolf – I first saw this movie before I was a teenager at a slumber party. I don’t rememberteen wolf much from that first viewing but I remember loving it. I mean, wolf Michael J. Fox was pretty much the best basketball player ever. And watching it now adds a whole other level of comedy because it’s so dated and so cheesy but so great. Probably the worst sports scenes ever filmed though.

billandtedBill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – this is without question one of my favourite movies ever. I remember renting it for a week (along with a rental VCR of course) and watching it over and over and over. The history presentation is both the most awesome and most stupid climax to a movie but I always wished I could put together something as randomly great for a school project or anything in life.

Dazed & Confused It’s the last day of school in small town Texas 1976. The seniors are hazing dazedthe freshmen, and everyone is trying to get stoned, drunk, or laid, even the football players that signed a pledge not to. “Alright, alright, alright!” in the scene at the drive-in was Matthew McConaughey’s first line ever spoken on camera and is now basically his trademark. His  production company, JKL Productions, comes from Wooderson’s life credo: Just Keep Livin’!, so it’s safe to say that this movie was as big for him as it was for us. This movie is one of the best ensemble casts of my generation. Absolutely everyone is in this movie – it’s unbelievable how many familiar faces are here. I can’t say whether Dazed and Confused properly captures the 1970s teenage experience but it is so timeless and universal that the time period doesn’t matter. Richard Linklater really captures what it is to be a teen while taking us on a hilarious ride. Incidentally, the other movies on my list are more personal favourites and I don’t pretend they are actually good movies, but this one is not only good, it’s great. If you haven’t seen it you need to.

John Wick

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has a dead wife and a cool car. That much we can all agree on. The freshly dead wife has sent him a gift posthumously (dear movies: can we stop with the deliveriesTMN_8943.NEF from beyond the grave now? it creeps me out) – a puppy to help him grieve. Wick’s initially not much of a fan of Daisy, but when he spends the day with her, cruising around in his cool car, they bond. But then something terrible happens: he runs out of gas. And we all know what happens when we stop to pump gas – we run into Russian mobsters. Okay, well, that hardly ever happens to me, but I gas up at Canadian Tire. But Keanu stopped at Shell or some such, and so of course his life is threatened when he refuses to sell his car for no apparent reason – and his little dog too.

Russian mobsters are infamous for not taking no for an answer, so they follow him home and wage a sneak attack when he’s sleeping to steal his car and kick his dog. Poor Daisy dies in the attack, and that dead dog is the impetus for all that unfolds next.

john_wick2The dog was apparently the last shred of his old life that was holding him together. Turns out he used to be a bad dude, as evidenced by the arsenal he digs up from his basement. He learns that the kid who killed his dog is actually the son of his old boss, head of Russian mob. The mob guy learns that John Wick, his most accomplished assassin, is coming out of retirement on behalf of his dead dog, gunning for his only son, and freaks out. There’s a $4 million bounty on John’s head, which he deals with by checking into some sort of hit-man hotel where apparently you’re not allowed to kill people, but that’s assuming that criminals can follow the rules, which we all know they can’t.

And that’s where I lost the thread. It’s just pretty much plotless revenge-fuelled action movie after that, constant movement, lots of shattered glass. Body count: 119, 78 by Keanu’s hand. It doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t, but I’m pretty positive that if you like watching people kill for karma, cash, or just plain bloodlust, you’re going to want to see this movie.