Always Let Love Take The Lead

I saw the flick Happy Accidents on Netflix long before I knew it was one of the “50 Best Movies You Haven’t Seen” per EW, and thought it looked cute.  So when Annie proposed that we make a little project of watching all the films on said list, of course, I started with this one.

This very quirky and original romantic comedy opens with main character Ruby Weaver, played by the beautiful and irresistibly likeable Marisa Tomei, griping about her long history of failed relationships.  She and her friends have devoted an entire shoe box to photos of their ex’s, since, apparently, in NYC, true love is hard to find.  Ruby continually falls into the trap of trying to “save” men from whatever fatal flaws she finds in them and the movie begins with her vow to break this dooming pattern.  She meets Sam Deed (Vincent D’Onofrio, giving a surprisingly charming performance) in the park and a romance quickly ensues.  Trying hard to resist old habits, Ruby ignores some of Sam’s odd behavior until it escalates to an undeniable level, at which point she turns to her therapist.  You see, Ruby has fallen so much in love that she can’t find it in herself to walk away and yet, the secret Sam reveals begs an intervention.

Tomei and D’Onofrio have great chemistry and make this rather silly movie enjoyable.  The silliness comes from Sam’s secret past, which is slowly revealed and is so strange and peculiar, I won’t ruin it for you by giving it away here.  My initial reaction read like: “Are they serious?” but I soon found it bizarrely funny.  I wouldn’t have stuck around as long as Ruby does but, then again, I have no desire to “fix” anyone.  Their chemistry works enough, though, that as often as I thought she should ditch the guy, I found myself simultaneously rooting for them to stay together.

Marisa Tomei is impossibly cute and I’ve never found Vincent D’Onofrio more appealing.  The story itself is weird but the strong performances and sparkly chemistry between the two make it work.  It isn’t of the same calibur as When Harry Met Sally… or even Bridget Jones’s Diary but it is sweet and enjoyable.  A pleasant, light-hearted way to spend a couple of hours.

~Nikki

London Olympics Opening Ceremonies LIVEBLOG!

London Olympics 2012

London Olympics 2012 (Photo credit: Andrea Vascellari)

It’s FINALLLLLLYYYYYYY HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’ve waited so long. We know it’s a Friday night. But cancel your stupid plans, crack open some Summer Shandies, and hang with us, as we revel in (hopefully) director Danny Boyle’s London extravaganza. Newest posts are at the top! Refresh yo’ page to stay current. :)

And here are some official links to check out for Olympic coverage if you need ‘em:

Official London Olympics site

NBC’s Official Olympics page

~Annie & Nikki

12:04 – And that’s all she wrote. All in all, a damn good show! Props to Meredith Viera for using a porn term, and Danny Boyle is adorable like a Hobbit. Nighty night peeps! Here’s to two weeks of Londonnnn!!!!!!!!!

11:51 – They should let a firework off for every “Na”

11:47 – Oh Hey Jude, I love you so damn muchhhhhh *cries* If that whole stadium is singing “na na na NA NA NA NA!” together I’m gonna die in my chair..

11:46 – holy. fuck. !!!!! I have literally truly never seen so many fireworks in all my life. Were they trying to burn London to the ground? That was amazing. And here’s Sir Paul, FINALLY…

11:44 – Oh my that’s gorgeous. (Culdron)

11:39 – I wish I was in shape enough to run around a stadium with a smile on my face carting some huge metal object.

11:34 – Chills. Chills. CHILLS!!!!!!!! Is it lame that I suddenly feel proud to be a human being? And grateful to be alive? #OlympicsMessesWithYourHead

11:27 – Me loves me some fireworks, me does.

11:20 – Flying Cyclists.

11:19 – I wonder if the Arctic Monkeys were scared to do a Beatles cover in front of a billion people including Sir Paul freaking McCartney.

11:17 – Ahhh yesssss.. Beatlestime. :=)

11:05 – DOUBLE GROSS VOMIT SIGHTING – LEBRON JAMES AND MITT ROMNEY IN THE SAME MOMENT. I have to go kill myself now.

10:53 – Sorry for the time-out….not much to say for this portion of the show :/

10:27 – How many nations are there?

10:02 – This kinda makes you realize how many people there are in the world… :/

9:44 – What makes a parade better? The Pet Shop Boys playing in the background.

9:43 – Olympics teaches kids geography.

9:40 – Don’t get much into Bond, but Skyfall looks sickkkk sexy .

9:38 – “Spectrum of humanity” = “cringum of cringity”

9:37 – Wish we could care more about the parade… #guilt

9:24 – Surprised Greece even made it to the Olympics! Considering they created them though, they should always be grandfathered in.

9:22 – It’s bugging me, what they are not showing during the commercials :/

9:20 – Wow, Michael Phelps is humble. #not.

9:19 – I can’t believe Ryan Seacrest is interviewing an Olympic athlete. He’s come a long way.

9:13 – Beckham doesn’t melt my panties the way he does for the rest of you, but he looks damn good on that boat. I’m on a mutha-f-in boat! Oh god, the Tower Bridge just looks incredible. Bob Costas is a stowaway?

9:12 – The way they’ve turned the audience into LEDs is blowing my fucking brain out.

9:11 – Oh gross yuck. Muse. Ick.

9:09 – Wow…..pretty sure no kiss for the rest of their lives will live up to that one.

9:07 – GREATEST. DANCE. PARTY. EVER.

9:07 – Matt Lauer SHUT UP I CAN’T HEAR THE EURYTHMICS!!!!!!!

9:06 – F YEAH 80S AND NEON RELAX BITCHES! #Ilove80smusic “Back to Life….”

9:03 – Queen, for the Queen. Man, I wanna wear a Bowie spacesuit and dance my ass off to classic rock.

9:00 – YES! Dancing!!!!!!!! Fucking Kinks rule.

8:59 – It’ll always take a long time to find a boy to match the charisma of a girl Meredith, always. *Sheds a tear*

8:48 – Oh goddammit I just want to be in a ginormous stadium in London feeling the summer air and listening to an orchestra and seeing all the lights and shit. *weeps*

8:47 – Mr. Bean, this is fantabulous! Doing an impression an American, obviously.

8:44 – Oh Christ, of course, American has to bombast my eyes with a “Back to FOOTBALL!” commercial. God forbid we stop being sooo “American” for a fucking hour.

8:43 – Yes Matt  it is creepy. Big, scary baby.

8:42 – Seriously, an homage to British literature, and darkly-themed? We are speech/breathless and moving to England at our earliest convenience.

8:40 – Mary Poppins x 50 literally just landed. This is like Christmas.

8:39 – ONLY THE BRITS WOULD DO AN ENTIRE SEGMENT DEDICATED TO LITERATURE, AND INCLUDE ALL THE VILLAINS. VOLDY!!!!!!! CRUELLA DEVILL!!!!!!!  This is fucking amazing.

8:38 – I’m crying. J.K. Rowling makes me cry when she speaks. I can’t help it.

8:37 – Awww, glowworms. JKR!!!! JKR!!!! *Hyperventilates*

8:33 – HAHAHA all the right-wingers are cringing and saying “America is ALWAYS RIGHT!!!” at this ode to national health care. WHAT A BUNCH OF WANKERS WE ARE!!!!!!! /End rant. You go England, with your national health care. *Jealous*

8:27 – P. Charles looks freaking happy as a clam.

8:26 – The Queen HAS to be cool, but she always looks made of stone! Oh GOD KATE MIDDLETON ARE YOU EVER UGLY?! EVERRRRR??!!!!!!!

8:24 – Are they seriously dropping the Queen in on a fucking helicopter with James Bond???? I am gonna go with no…..lmaoooo

8:21 – I say “future bedroom partner” and Daniel Craig pops on screen. Coincidence? I think not. Oh shit, james Bond and the actual Queen of England. !!!!!!!!!!! What on earth!

8:19 – Oh shit, THANKS INTERNET! tweet just popped up with a link to buy the music!!!! My future bedroom partner better get ready….

8:17 – This is NEVER GETTING DELETED OUT OF MY DVR BOX! Sorry for the all-caps guys.. I’m all worked up. ;) That was an outstanding homage to European history.

8:16 – OMG I JUST CAME. The rings are DRIPPING FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:15 – They are bringing us to climax holy christ.

8:14 – This music would be a great soundtrack to knock boots to. OH MY GOD THESE RINGS!!!!!!!!!! This is fucking brilliantly bizarre.

8:13 – This is so fucking weird but I LOVE IT!

8:13 – How much did this cost?!!!! It’s Anglophilia on ACID.

8:12 – THEY ARE FORGING A RING WITH FIRE!!!!!!! THE FIRES OF MORDOR!!!! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!!

8:11 – Here come the Beatles. And the redcoats, and the Titanic, and god knows what else.

8:10 – Suffragettes! Thanks ladies! This music is banging my audio soul.

8:08 – Though we know they’re bad for you, cigars look cool. This music is so intense. SMOKESTACKS.

8:07 – They just put Kenneth Branagh into an ancient Star Trek transporter.

8:07 – Evelyn Glenny is channeling Professor Trelawney. This music is good.

8:06 – This could only be better if Ewan McGegor was in it.

8:05 – my buddy actually met Evelyn Glenny. Said she is a crazy, crazy lady.

8:02 – the aerial views are already exceeding my expectations. So, this is like a big history lesson?

8:00 – If they’re gonna get somebody to read a buncha Billy Shakespeare, might as well be Branagh!

7:56 – childrens’ choirs are magic. So is Wales, apparently. #goosebumps

7:56 – The Shire meets Downton?

7:54 – And it starts…children and explosive devices, rock on!

7:52 – WHAT IS HAPPENING THIS NEEDS TO BE  IN 3D

7:50 – Youth scandal alert: Nikki’s mom made her quit the gymnast game after catching her smoking outside the gym! #rebel

7:48 – Being an Olympic athlete must be like, going to the coolest summer camp EVERRRRRRRR.

7:48 – Nikki used to be a gymnast! #ThingsWeNeverKnewAboutEachOther

7:46 – I wish somebody would have made me play a sport as a kid. Are these gymnasts 12?

7:45 – The Brits are so full of pomp, we love it

7:44 – Can’t wait, Lauer….

7:42 – Why yes Matt, everything IS sparkling.

7:41 – PS: THANK YOU LILL & JILL FOR SUGGESTING THIS!!! Jolly good idea, dearies! ;)

7:39 – Keep Calm yes yes yes.

7:38 – Nikki is speechless. We want to go to there so baaaaaaaaaaaaaad. Shut UP ABOUT SECURITY AND THE SHITTY ECONOMY!!

7:37 – As if this moment couldn’t be anymore blissful, I’m eating Ruffles and Heluva Good! french onion dip. For those that don’t know, that’s my all-time favorite food, ever.

7:36 – Well London looks more goddamn beautiful that I even could have fathomed. *exploding*

7:35 – the BEAUTY!!!!!!!!! I’m going to either have an O-face or start crying.

7:34 – WOOPS we mean Ewan McGregor. Oh Christian *swoon*

7:34 – That James McAvoy speaking??

7:31 – Okay, I can watch it in another room *depressballs*.. this is dramatic!!!! This athletic shit is SERIOUS.

7:30 – Well…this is embarrassing…..torrential downpour is causing my DirecTV dish to not pick up the signal *dies* AT THIS EXACT MOMENT. WHAT IS MY LUCK.

7:22 – HI!! *bounces*

 

Special Alert: Olympics LIVEBLOG tonight!

London 2012 banner at The Monument.

London 2012 banner at The Monument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many thanks to our girls Lill & Jill, who had the brilliant idea for us to liveblog the Opening Ceremonies tonight for the 2012 London Olympics. Join us as we watch director Danny Boyle’s take on the highly anticipated event.

The show starts at 7:30 pm/EST on NBC.

Hope to see ya there! We are super-PSYCHED!!! :)

~Annie & Nikki

And It’s Peaceful In The Deep

I admit that, like everyone else in the Batman-watching world, I walked into The Dark Knight Rises wondering how Christopher Nolan could possibly top The Dark Knight.  And how could any villain be more fun to watch than Heath Ledger as The Joker?  I walked out of the theater with the one and only answer: there is no answer.  There is no answer because, it turns out, those are not valid questions.  The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises are so different in theme, feel, message and overall goal that they are incomparable.  The Joker and Bane are so entirely opposite in their motivations, goals and tone that it simply isn’t fair to compare one with the other.  These movies and their respective villains are on totally different playing fields.  The Dark Knight had a wild, frenzied feel to it, due in part to the The Joker’s manic attempts to create chaos and mayhem in Gotham.  TDKR is all about resolve, the summation of an epic tale and the final resolution for Gotham’s vigilante hero.  Like The Joker, Bane wants to destroy Gotham and its citizens but not through anarchy.  Instead, he cunningly and deliberately manipulates Gotham’s richest and most powerful people into collapsing in on themselves.  He is calculated, controlled, and intimidating as hell.  In short, The Dark Knight raised the bar for superhero/comic book films, to which The Dark Knight Rises responded: I see your bet and raise you.

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for??? please stop here.  Below this sentence, SPOILERS abound.

I’m not saying TDKR is perfect.  It isn’t.  But it is damn good and worlds apart from other blockbuster summer films.  Christopher Nolan knows how to craft a story while still giving the masses what they love (i.e., action, awesome CGI effects, drama) without ever cheapening the characters or the plot.  The Batman has surprisingly little screen time in TDKR and because of that, he feels more like a real person than ever before.   Yes, he is a human being underneath the suit and like all other humans, he has weaknesses, vulnerabilities, frailties.  Especially considering he is, at the beginning of TDKR, somewhere in the vicinity of 35-40 years of age and even with extensive training and all the heating pads money can buy, the physical toll of being Batman would have to be catching up with him.  Batman is not invincible.  In fact, his chosen career has a shorter lifespan than most, for the same reasons athletes’ do: the human body can only take so much.   Throughout the whole of TDKR, the demise of The Batman is hinted at, implied, inferred, even flat-out referenced at points.  I expected Nolan to kill him off before the end of the film but Nolan is too smart for that.  Death would be the easy way out.  Nolan knows this and, therefore, his Bruce Wayne comes to know it as well.  Early on, it seems Bruce is looking for death.  Leave it to Nolan to make him grow and evolve until finally reaching the realization that death is too simple.  Having the balls to seek the things you want in life, to turn your life into one you actually want, that’s a challenge.  And that is where Nolan takes his hero.  But the journey isn’t cheap.  It isn’t easy or full of holes and convenient turns in plot.  It isn’t perfect, but it is good.  Nolan does justice to every character, every plot point, every story line.

Of course, there are a few holes.  The fact that Bruce Wayne’s broken back heals within 4-5 months without drugs or medical equipment, just a swift kick to the vertebrae and vertical positioning for hours (days?) – please.  Also, how does he get from India to Gotham with no money?  How does he get back into Gotham when the tunnels/bridges are inaccessible?

Whatever.  The holes are entirely forgivable in light of all that works.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to be The Shit and this is the most I’ve ever liked Bale as Batman, probably because this is the most of his humanity we’ve ever seen.  I also loved that Catwoman isn’t just another villain.  In fact, she’s never once called Catwoman.  Her given name, Selina Kyle, is most often used and once, I think, she’s referred to as a cat burglar.  Her character has some actual depth and plays a very different role than anything Halle Berry or even Michelle Pfeiffer offered us.

And Bane!  Oh, Bane.  He’s so much more than I expected, than I could have imagined.  He’s a fierce,  intimidating, powerful villain.  Everything about him works- his huge, bulking mass, the mask, his voice – all of it.  I really had no idea what to expect from the character or from Tom Hardy.  I’ve never followed the comic books and I opted out on the disgrace that was Batman & Robin so I knew next to nothing about the character.  And, while I really liked Tom Hardy in Inception, the only other thing I’ve seen him in was a film adaptation of Wuthering Heights and I didn’t think he quite caught the brooding intensity and anguish of Heathcliff.  Here, he kind of steals the show.  He is focused, controlled, inhumanly strong and seemingly unstoppable.  Without the use of most of his face, Hardy somehow manages to convey more conviction than most actors can summon with full use of all of their features.

Where TDKR takes its predecessor up a notch is in the reflection of current affairs.  Don’t misunderstand me: this film is not political.  It isn’t making a statement or preaching any particular agenda.  Nolan does not use it to push his (or anyone else’s) opinions/views.  He simply tells a story.  But, in doing so, he touches on a few nerves that, right now, feel a little exposed.  The idea of a revolution wherein the richest few lose what they have to those without has such relevance in our current state.  I don’t want to get political but come on, we live in a society wherein the richest 1% has more total wealth that the bottom 50% combined.  As someone outside that 1%, I could totally relate to Selina Kyle when she said, “You’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”  The idea of class warfare is topical and adds a richness to the plot that is rarely, if ever, seen in blockbusters.

I could go on, and on and on, especially considering I haven’t even touched on the excellent surprise at the end or what it means for the future of this franchise, but I’ll stop here.  If you’ve seen it already, you don’t need me to keep gushing.  And if you haven’t, you have much better things to do than read this.  You have a movie to see.

~Nikki

Emmy Squeeeeee!! / Rage

59th Primetime Emmy Awards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, the 2012 Emmy nominations were released and I didn’t even realize it. Some entertainment junkie I am, right? After perusing the list, I was overcome with equal mixes of joy, fury, and apathy. I shall share those emotions with you this evening.

  • Very, very excited to see brand spankin’ new shows Veep and Girls getting Best Comedy Series nods. As I adore both, I honestly feel they deserve to be in this category, which is really saying something, since they only just finished up their freshman year. I’d like to see Veep win actually. It’s whip smart, hilarious, and filthy as shit. The trifecta of awesome.
  • Every lady in the Best Actress in a Comedy Series lineup rules, so looking at the list makes me want to run jubilantly through a field. Despite adoring Amy Poehler, I’d like to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus win. Vice President Selnia Meyer is wickedly HIGHHHLARIOUS, while Leslie Knoppe is adorably hilarious. Wicked wins, always.
  • Louis C.K. got nominated for the Best Actor in a Comedy Series, and I love it. As much as I cherish Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons, what I do NOT enjoy is someone winning every. Single. Year. Share the love, assholes.
  • I do not watch New Girl, but I gave up on Modern Family because I despise it, so I am rooting for anybody in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series that is NOT on the saccharine/annoying show about the asinine Dunphy/Pritchett clans.
  • Blossom (Mayim Bialik) got nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series! Maybe there IS a god! Oh lordy I want her to win…Amy Farrah Fowler is one of the most bonkers/horny/hilarious/absurd characters on TV. Her nomination restores my faith in basically everything.
  • The Best Drama Series is an insanely intense category – Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey (which stands no chance here, the poor thing), Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men – how can you choose?! I faithfully watch Downton, Thrones, and Men, and confidently believe the latter is the best, but I know Nikki loves Homeland and I always hear Breaking Bad is one of the best shows on TV. One thing I know for sure: I bet AMC is like, super psyched with themselves for being so rad.
  • I really love me some Michelle Dockery but I don’t know that she’s Emmy-worthy. It pains me to say that.
  • Best Actor in a Drama Series sports both the Hamm and Bon Bon, but I know the others are excellent as well. I believe I’d be happy with any of these blokes takin’ home the gold.
  • Holy fuck me in the ass, Mr. Bates, Tyrion Lannister, and Lane Price are all nominated together… *dies dies dies* *lady boner* I just… can’t. Truth be told, of those three, I think Jared Harris deserves it. Poor, poor, POOR Lane…his final episode will probably haunt me for years. But I do want to run away, marry, and give birth to little Batesbies, and I worship Game of Thrones, so… ’tis a hard choice. But they’re all excellent actors who play complex, interesting characters. Hear hear!
  • Man, the Drama Supporting categories are tearing at my heartstrings. Anna, the Dowager Countess, and Joan Harris – together?! Be still my heart. Again, the deserved here of that trio is Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks, but goddamn, do I love all of these ladies.
  • The Best Miniseries really stumps the shit out of me. Why are some of these shows considered miniseries? American Horror Story? Sherlock? They have multiple seasons. I don’t getttttt ittttttttttt. Regardless, American Horror Story is enjoyable, but it’s so campy I cannot understand how it scored a nod. I found Hemingway and Gelhorn to be more about the performances than anything else and I have not watched the others, although their spirits live on in my IMDB watchlist.
  • RAGE STROKE ALERT: Why the FUCK did they nominate Emma Thompson for The Song of Lunch but not Alan Rickman? Are you KIDDING ME?!!! *Tells self to breathe* In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Song of Lunch was a BBC film based on a freaking POEM about a pair of former lovers who meet up for lunch. The entire, painful rendezvous is told from “His” point of view, here played by Rickman. “Her” (Thompson – you never know the character’s names) has moved on from “Him” to find happiness with someone else, marrying and having children. “He” is still single, bitter, and miserable, and proceeds to spend their meeting getting shit-faced hammered, gawking at the waitress, being a prick, and finally blacking out on the roof. Coincidentally, that’s how all of my romantic endeavors end up as well. Regardless, as much as I’m devoted to the goddess that is Emma Thompson, she didn’t have much to do here except sit and look bitchy/annoyed. Rickman tore it UP and gets ignored. Why??????????????????????? (Nancy Kerrigan voice, in honor of the Olympics)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch better walk away with an Emmy for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. He OWNS that role. And I’d love to see Martin Freeman bag one as well for his completely endearing Watson, but he’s up against silver foxes like Ed Harris and David Strathairn.

I basically don’t give a shit about the other categories (reality, variety, and kiddo shows), so, sorry if you wanted to know who I thought would take home the best Reality Host award. What baffles me is how they’ve managed to split reality shows into THREE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES. If that’s not a sign of the coming of the Apocalypse, I don’t know what is.

~Annie

Our Movie Challenge

Partially inspired by one of our favorite bloggers, Netflix Russian Roulette and his movie challenge, we have one we’re gonna try ourselves. The July 6th issue of Entertainment Weekly featured the article “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”, and we were intrigued and excited by their picks, and hadn’t seen the majority of them. So, we decided to make them 50 movies we have seen. We went over the list together and briefly talked about each one in our previous podcasts, here and here. If you don’t wanna hear us blab, here’s the list, in its entirety. As we watch each film, we’ll write a review and link them here. We’ll also have a new link at the top of our homepage with the list of films and links to their reviews. We’re fairly certain this’ll take quite a long time, but it’s all about the journey, right?

~Annie & Nikki

24 Hour Party People
Backbeat
Bamboozled
Box of Moonlight
Broken English
Bubba Ho-Tep
The Century of Self
Chuck & Buck
Daytrippers
Devil’s Playground
DIG!
Enter the Void
Eve’s Bayou
Fish Tank
Fly Away Home
George Washington
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Idiocracy
The Iron Giant
I’ve Loved You So Long
Layer Cake
Lilya 4-Ever
Love & Basketball
The Magdalene Sisters
Marwencol
Memories of Murder
Moon
Murderball
My Summer of Love
Next Stop Wonderland
Perfect Blue
Prime
Primer
Rare Exports
The Ref
Rescue Dawn
The Rules of Attraction
Safe Men
Smiley Face
Surfwise
Together
Two Family House
Walking and Talking
Wendy and Lucy
Wristcutters: A Love Story

Running With The Devil

Let me start by saying that the most impressive thing about Savages is the fact that it is a real movie.  By which I mean, the story contains several fully developed, interesting and layered characters and is propelled by an exciting and multifaceted plot.  Yes, folks, a real fucking PLOT.  The writing here is superior to anything else we’ve seen this year.  Not that I expected any less from Oliver Stone.  But movies lately are heavy on visual effects, action, humor, basically everything except real substance of story.  Not this time.  Leave it to the professionals (read: Oliver Stone) to bring us back to the art of storytelling, not just wicked CGI and A-list celebrities dazzling us while telling a story as complex as Mary Had A Little Lamb.  Sex, drugs and graphic violence (of which there is plenty) aside, there is a real story.  A really good story.  And it’s an adult movie.  Like I said, loads of sex, drugs and violence.  Look, I like PG-13.  I loved The Avengers and I’m seriously looking forward to Brave but sometimes it’s good to watch something that isn’t made for as broad an audience as possible.  You know, a movie that is made for GROWN UPS.

First, the cast.  Benicio Del Toro is scary.  He’s intimidating and creepy and just the look of him makes my skin crawl.  Yep… he’s the perfect villain.  He’s a damned fine actor in any role but in a role like this – a proper villain, by the way, a truly sadistic psychopath with no loyalties, no remorse and a love of all things wicked – he seriously shines.  Salma Hayek is one smooth professional.  Setting aside the irrefutable fact that she somehow grows more beautiful as she ages (the fuck??), the woman is a scene stealer.  She plays a villainous role here as well and it is refreshing to see a gorgeous and smart woman in a strong, powerful role.

Together, Chon (Taylor Kitsch… yumm) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) made one hell of a guy.  Chon is an Afghanistan veteran who carries both physical and emotional scars.  He’s no haunted shell of a man, though, instead an angry and sharp man with more conviction after smoking a water bong than most people have at their best.  Ben is the hippie grower who wants to save the world via grassroots methods through green energy.  Their dynamic totally works.  Each character is developed well and consistent throughout.  Even the love triangle as a working relationship somehow works, and I was way skeptical going in.  I thought it would be over the top, unrealistic, overly glamorized.  And there is some gratuitous sex, ‘natch, but the relationship seems kind of organic and, though I think it would take 3 rarely unique individuals to pull it off in reality, the movie makes it seem almost normal.  Or, believable, at least.

Which brings me to Blake Lively.  Lively, while decent enough, I guess, definitely gives the weakest performance of the lot.  She’s cute and all but if she wants to hang with big kids the likes of Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta in a fucking Oliver Stone film, she’d better improve her craft.  She suffered by comparison here.  She narrates the film and while it definitely added relevant information, Lively needs to be more, well… lively.  Listen, sweetheart: Stop acting like you’re acting and just act real.

Okay, for those of you who haven’t seen the trailers, here’s the gist: Chon and Ben are best friends and partners in a successful marijuana growing and distribution operation.  They are both openly dating Ophelia (Lively), who gets kidnapped by the Mexican cartel, headed up by Elena (Salma Hayek), after Chon and Ben rebuff her offer for partnership.  Lado (Del Toro) is Elena’s right hand man and the ruthless psychopath who uses tortuous methods to carry out her wishes.  Chon and Ben vow to get the love of their lives back with the help of their crooked DEA contact, Dennis (John Travolta), who, of course, is not entirely to be trusted.

Stone uses the military background of his main character as a kind of an homage to our troops.  There’s a killer scene involving the hijacking of a bunker full of cash that, by itself, is testament to Stone’s ability as a film maker.  Later on, Chon and Ben are about to enter a high-risk situation and Chon, the vet, tells his best bud: “You’re already dead.  You were dead the moment you were born.”  Not only did this one line bring some existential depth to the flick, it’s also consistent with Chon’s military background (this is how soldiers are trained to think in order to accept the mortal risk inherent to their job) – this is how you carefully layer meaning into a film while staying true to your characters and the story itself.

There is a different approach to the ending but I don’t want to give any details away, which makes it impossible for me to give you my opinion on it.  I will say only this: while I kind of liked the idea of the double ending, I would have preferred an ending that was a blend of the two.

Stone brings us some of the techniques he used back in Natural Born Killers, specifically the switching from black and white to vibrant color.  Here, as opposed to NBK, it is cleaned up and sophisticated looking.  More than once, I was reminded of NBK, as well as Traffic and True Romance.  He took the parts of those flicks that worked the best and further improved upon them in Savages.

If I say anymore, I’ll give away every detail of the 2 hour 11 minute- film.  And I can’t do that to you.  It’s too good to spoil.

~Nikki