Posts Tagged ‘male frontal nudity’

The Bronze is Golden

Sundance movies have a “feel good” factor about them, and this is clearly visible in every aspect and every moment in the reel of pretty much every movie they show. The Bronze is no different in this regard.

The Bronze is the story is about a former Olympic medalist (not a true life story) who is struggling to move on with her life. Hope Ann Gregory (Melissa Rauch, or better known as Bernadette from the Big Bang Theory), is an extremely crass and bad mouthed ex-Olympic gymnast who hasn’t’ really moved on from her 15 minutes of fame. A decade ago, Hope landed a flawless beam dismount despite having an injury in her Achilles heel and till date gets off on it! (Literally!) She parades around her small, podunk town of Amherst, Ohio in her USA outfit owning her celebrity status, as she is a regular at a local mall and the diner where she never pays for anything and has drink and food specials in her honor.

As a result of her foul mouth and pretty horrible attitude towards everyone around her, she still lives with her father Stan (played by the often under-appreciated Gary Cole), who is trying hard to tread the fine line between being a responsible father and slapping the teeth off his obnoxious daughter. In an effort to get her out of the house, he fakes a letter from Hope’s Olympic coach who has committed suicide and claims that she has left a will, stipulating Hope could receive $500 million so as long as she sets her ego aside, and trains the town’s up-and-coming gymnastics star, Maggie Townsend (the vivacious Haley Lu Richardson).

Tossed up between her want to milk her fame in her small town versus the possibility of losing her fame in exchange for 500 big ones, Hope has to decide and strategize her next steps. Will she train the new incumbent and step aside from her fame or will she burn the youngster? (It’s not a tough decision is it? J )

The film is satirical but not comic satire per se and this isn’t a movie like Office Space and obviously it won’t win any awards either, however it does have what you call a high level of ‘re-watchability’ and some of its one liners are absolute gems. The opening scene for one sets the outrageous tone and hats off to Melissa and her partner in crime (and life) Winston Rauch for writing something silly and intangibly wonderful.

The cast isn’t stellar but they are somehow apt for this low budget indie film. Melissa is the heart and soul of the movie and is competently backed up by Cole, Richardson and the rest of the cast. Special mention to Twitchy Ben (Thomas Middleditch of Silicon Valley fame) who plays the sweet guy and burgeoning love interest of Hope and does his best to pull her away from the dark side.

Bryan Buckley (of Asad fame) has done a decent job in his direction of this R rated comedy. However, if truth be told, the movie is carried on the petite yet powerful Melissa Rauch and her impeccable dialogue delivery with her poker face profanity-spewing-tongue.

If you break the story down to its basic elements, you will realize that there is nothing new in it. Evil ogre turns into village saving hero. But what really works for the movie is how it has been handled. A basic concept directed well and a script written funnily enough to ensure the audience does get its money’s worth of laughs. Throw in the aforementioned talent who all enact their parts to perfection and you somehow have a mix that breathes life into a resuscitated storyline making it entertaining and a reliable ‘sports’ movie.

The only downside of the movie is something I haven’t been able to pin so far. The movie is worth a watch, but the more you think about it, the more you realize, that the movie had the potential to be a Gold, but falls short …agonizingly so and thus gets a Bronze. (My sense of humor needs work, I know!)

It could be the lack of a stronger story or maybe the screen presence of someone more iconic, but the movie falls short at a certain level and maybe that is why it isn’t up there with Office Space or even Dodgeball or Blades of Glory.

With dialogues that would make a sailor blush and a scenes that will burn hysterically disturbing imagery in your mind for life, I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who is easily offended. But, if you’ve got the skin for it, I can’t recommend this comedy more.

 

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Thoughts: Greed is Dead, Long Live Greed.

There isn’t much that can be said about Martin Scorsese that hasn’t already been said and when the team that gave Gangs of New York, Aviator and The Departed team up again, you know you are in for a ride.

The movie is brilliantly acted, superbly written and as one would expect from a picture by Martin Scorsese, it is a master class of the directorial craft. The Wolf of Wall Street (TWOWS) is a roaring thrill ride that is both hilarious and meticulously constructed.

The movie (a true story) is based on the fiercely ambitious Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) who wants nothing more in life than to become the next Gordan Gecko. He begins his stock broking career under the guidance of the ardent salesman Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) who teaches him all he would ever need to learn about the art of selling, the good, the bad and the ugly about peddling ‘dreams’. But soon “Black Monday” hits and Belfort is out on the street. With no mood to give in, Belfort comes across the (highly lucrative and profitable) world of “penny stocks”. The world of penny stocks is unregulated (more or less) and Belfort begins to accrue his army of like-minded individuals which begins the birth of his own empire. People from his neighbor Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) to his local drug dealer, Brad (John Bernthal) join his company “Stratton Oakmont” to make hay while the sun shines.

Money rolls in and Belfort and his cronies begin reveling in the depravity only the filthy rich know how. It’s a boy’s company and they act worse than kids in a free candy store all the way making terrible life choices that they still aren’t aware of until this day. Drugs, sex and obnoxious toys are the order of the day and Belfort begins to lose is grip over reality soon enough. But of course, the chickens do eventually come home to roost and FBI Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) begins to launch an investigation into the shady practices of the fiscal giant. The rest is history.

TWOWS is a masterful dark comedy sprinkled with little bits of drama. Natural comparisons to Oliver Stone’s Wall Street are to be made and this should be considered a compliment. Though I would go one step ahead and say TWOWS is more of Wall Street meets Goodfellas. The greed, the power, the rampant drug abuse and the “family” in Stratton Oakmont makes it much similar to the mafia, just that these guys commit a different kind of crime.

Scorsese keeps the story a tad larger than life and the character interpretation is amusing to say the least. He puts together a star cast that includes DiCaprio (no surprise there), Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernathal, and Kyle Chandler, all of which seem to be literally having too much fun while having “too much fun.” Terence Winter’s brings his Sopranos skills to the game and how! His script is on its A-Game and it is a work of a demigod.

The acting is par excellence to say the least. The entire movie is led brilliantly from start to finish by the one man. From a “Get Rich or die trying” attitude to his monologues about life, money, and greed, Leonardo (LDC) has now broken into a new level of acting. From the kid who broke on the scene in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and later became a heart throb (literally overnight) in Titanic, from a hooligan and a roughneck in Gangs of New York to a smooth criminal in Catch Me If You Can, from Howard Hughes to Monsieur Candie, LDC has grown as an actor with each movie and this role is probably one of his best till date, which judging by his illustrious past is no mean feat. This is something that might help him get his long overdue Academy Award. The sequence of DiCaprio crawling on the floor will probably be the scene of the year.

Jonah Hill has shown great depth in his acting repertoire and I or one was frankly impressed by his screen presence in the movie. Margot Robbie (double drool) does a wonderful job of being the sexy trophy wife who usually audiences hate to the wife who is just frustrated by it all. A special mention must go to Matthew McConaughey as well for his brief but marvelous role.

A good book, a great screenplay and a delightful cast were formed and molded into what could help get Scorsese a best director Oscar and a Best Picture Nomination.

The only drawback (if any) would be that we get no clue as to how closely this film adapts the real-life events and at times its almost impossible to believe that things could have gone this far. The overall theme though does seem to be about “greed” in general and I guess that is what Scorsese was targeting. It is that very excess that underscores the key theme and disparagements on the American dream.

Similar to the way Goodfellas glorified the lifestyle of mafia, TWOWS has  attempted to create an enticement to the immoral habits of stockbrokers wallowing in hedonism, that being said, the movie is worth every minute of its 180 and is a must watch for anyone interested in movies with a feel.

Thoughts: The Wolfpack is dead. Long Live the Wolfpack

If there is but one good thing, thou shall ruin it.

Ever remember that joke which you found so funny the first time you heard it? You repeated it to your friends, and, then the next time when your friends came with their friends you repeated it again.  You also repeated it at every given opportunity to your family and their friends. And then you began to notice that each time you said your joke the laughter levels dropped! In the end, your immediate circle grew sick and tired of listening to the same joke and although they probably still gave that polite chuckle, they now, have a bored and a look of angst on their face. Hangover 3 is that joke!

Before I begin, allow me to clear up the air. I like silly comedies, I love Will Ferrell movies, and I like all versions of Scary Movie. I even find a few of the Ben Stiller and Wayne Brother movies funny[!], but, then I go in with a certain expectation of  those movies and Hangover wasn’t  something  I had planned to place in that list.

Anyway, as is customary, I’ll summarize the story for you. . Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis, who should really never be allowed too much screen time) father passes away (not before Alan kills a giraffe and causes a pile up on the freeway) and he has also stopped taking his medications (probably why he bought a giraffe in the first place). Thus, the Wolfpack decides to put Alan in rehab so he can get treated for his mental issues. And, this is where the movie kicks off. En route to their drop off, the Wolfpack is attacked by a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman, the only one who actually did a decent job in the movie), who, wants Mr. Chow (Ken Jong, who, much like Zach, should have limited screen time) as Mr. Chow has stolen $21 million worth of gold from him. So, why the Wolfpack you might ask? Well, this is because Alan has been in constant touch with Chow since Chow was nabbed in Bangkok and they have been pen –pals ever since!! Yup! Silly is as silly does.

As is the routine, Marshall keeps Doug as collateral and forces the trio of Alan, Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) to track down Chow and get him back to Marshall. The hunt leads the trio from Tijuana, Mexico and ends in the place where it all began, Las Vegas, Nevada (Yawn).

The thing with trilogies [or for that matter any franchise movie] is that, I feel, they are really difficult to get right, unless, you have diligently thought through all three parts before even attempting to make the very first one. The Dark Knight, Toy Story, The Matrix are all trilogies made with the entire series in mind and they were all brilliant. Individually, one part might do better than the others, but on a whole, the trilogy should make for a good watch if it’s well thought through. The first part of Hangover was the heart and soul of the franchise and the second part, though, did manage a few chuckles here and there, it couldn’t match the expectations. The third sadly is an immense let-down.

The movie franchisee was strongly based on the charisma of the Wolfpack and the male bonding it showed, though, this one appears to be solely made for Zack Galifianakis and Ken Jong.  The two funny men who had more than their fair share of screen space and it is this overdose of the comics on screen which makes the movie looking like a B grade Steven Segal flick.

Alan’s dim-witted comedy and Chow’s drug-related witticisms were, at one time, fun and fresh, but now, they are stale and flavorless. If you have an IQ matching the room temperature, you might find this amusing, but decapitating a giraffe, shooting roosters and strangling dogs isn’t all too funny (unless, you are hopped up on some Lucy). Alan is supposed to be the dumb one causing the trouble and Stu is supposed to be the one  making  fun of Alan – the source of Stu’s comedy and everything around it, But, all Stu does is complain and whine for the whole 100 minutes. Bradley Cooper was flat as well. He gave little to no effort into the character and it shows in his performance. I guess, the two people saving grace for the movie, were John Goodman – who seemed the most professional of the cast and Melissa McCarthy -[A special tip of the hat to the delightfully funny lady] , who played Cassie, Alan’s love interest. She played her part to great perfection and is the beacon in the dark and hollow movie, that is, Hangover III.

Todd Philips does have a sense of humor; after all he has made movies like Hangover I and Borat. But personally, I feel, he has somewhere lost his way in deciding “how much is too much”. When Hangover II was released earlier there were question marks on Todd Phillips’ storytelling capabilities. The second part was a replica of the first – the same intoxicated mystery, the epic escapades, the vulgarity and the graphic scenes, but part II forgot to copy some of the laughs. But in Part III, T. Phillips has honestly forgotten to get a story. His dependency on Galifianakis is the sum of why the film is so unfunny. The only other attempt at humor is a disturbingly exaggerated Asian stereotype with a shrill voice.

Hangover III is not a movie for people who are looking for genuine comedy. There are some very funny moments but the cheap laughs far outnumber the good ones. If you’re going in expecting a repeat of The Hangover then don’t waste your time and money. Also, if you were disappointed by part II, this movie will only rub more salt on your already existing wounds. The good parts of the movie are only a handful and apart from a few scenes here and there, (like the part atop Caesar’s Palace) the movie doesn’t really capture the essence of what Hangover is and, thus, has a lot missing from its core.

Nothing makes this film worth a watch. Instead, go to the park, walk the dog, listen to a story from your grandma about how she went shopping at the grocery store, go to the lake and see ducks waddle. Go do anything else, just don’t waste your time on this flick. If you loved number 2, and have the mental capacity of a goldfish, Hangover III might not dent your enjoyment, but for the rest it definitely won’t be worth the time, effort or money you would have put in it and thus it is rightly titled that this, truly, is “The End”.

Thank God for the reclining chairs and the free tickets I got to watch this in the Director’s Cut (not to forget the complimentary Cola and the popcorn) else, this movie wouldn’t be easy to handle for its 100 minutes. Ideally I wouldn’t recommend you to watch this one, but if you do (as I know some of you will); MAKE SURE you stay during the credits in the end, that is THE ONE PART of the movie you wouldn’t want to miss. 🙂