Scarface (1983)


Scarface, the movie I loved as a kid and that has been idolized by gangsters and stoners everywhere. I used to be like my stoner friends (not a stoner, never done any drugs). I thought Scarface was awesome. That Al Pacino’s acting was incredible and that Tony Montana was the shit. He rose up the ranks, a zero to a hero. And the guys that screwed him over were the assholes, not Tony. But this time around, I watched Scarface with a more conscious eye. Pacino’s acting was still quite astounding. But the film has a few faults. But mostly I realized that this film has something substantial to say amongst all the glitz and mountains of coke.

Ok, I kind of wish I could have a bath like this.
Ok, I kind of wish I could have a bath like this.

What I like the most about Scarface is that it has a message, something valuable to say, and it is left up to the audience to interpret what that message is or at least what they want it to be. Tony Montana is a Cuban refugee, a criminal seeking to escape communism and make a life for himself in America. But Tony eventually gets caught up in the excitement and glamor of capitalism. Money, piles of cocaine, and awesome Jacuzzi bath tubs do not make a person happy. Especially when a man allows his hubris to alienate everyone around him. It’s a classic plot that dates back to Shakespeare and King Lear and probably even further than that.

Michelle Pfeiffer even makes a cocaine addict seem glamorous.
Michelle Pfeiffer even makes a cocaine addict seem glamorous.

I think that Martin Scorsese’s latest effort, The Wolf of Wall Street, borrows a lot from Scarface. When I watched Wolf though it left me feeling kind of mad. Empty. Ripped off. Is it really a commentary on greed if the protagonist still has an awesome life and got off easy? Scarface on the other hand hits me like a punch in the gut. That final shot of “The World is Yours” is haunting and a warning to those who want to follow Tony’s path. They are both quite good films, but Scarface has the edge. Dicaprio is great, but it’s really hard to match Al Pacino. He’s a master. His accent in Scarface is a little over the top, but I think it works. The two films also have great sidekicks in the forms of Jonah Hill and Steven Bauer. For me, I was not emotionally invested in Wolf. I think this is largely due to the weak character, Naomi, that Margot Robbie plays. She adds absolutely nothing to that film and is just as greedy and arrogant as her husband. I think a large part of the emotional impact in Scarface is courtesy of Michelle Pfeiffer and the role her character, Elvira, plays in Tony’s life. You can say that Elvira is just as greedy and arrogant as Naomi. And you know what, she probably is. But there’s something about her, it’s in her eyes. Elvira has a heart that she fiercely protects with aloofness and snotty banter. She’s an Ice Queen that eventually shatters, breaking both hers and Tony’s worlds. I am a huge Michelle Pfeiffer fan and her impact on this film is huge. As is that of all the other actors. I think Scarface is an instance of the stars aligning and everyone being on their top game.

Umm, yeah, kind of.
Umm, yeah, kind of.

Okay, so I diverged a lot in that last paragraph from where I intended on going with this review. You can draw comparisons between Scarface and a lot of other films, but Wolf jumped out at me since it is so recent. Anyways, Scarface can be quite over the top and a little ridiculous at times. But me, I kind of like it. I like my music loud and dramatic and I often favor movies that are similar. I forgive Scarface some faults that I would ridicule more recent films for because Scarface was made in the 80s. A time when everything was in neon colors and musicians had Flock of Seagulls hair. I especially found the score ridiculous, hilarious, and effective at the moments when Tony witnesses his sister involved in something he does not approve of. It’s similar to when the Bride in the Kill Bill movies sees red. I laughed out loud because Tony’s relationship with his sister is nuts. Just bat shit crazy. I’m pretty sure he is just hyper protective of her, but it does seem borderline incest. I like that in her final scene Tony’s sister, Gina, brings up the elephant in the room. Nothing gets resolved, but it is at least brought out into the open.

Overall I like Scarface. Maybe I forgive it for too much. Maybe I’m nostalgic for a time when dreams seemed reachable, even if they ultimately weren’t. Or maybe I just really love Al Pacino. I like an underdog story. But I also like when the underdog fucks up. Scarface can be over the top. But so are the emotions that go along with it. Few films impact me like the story of Tony Montana has. And few films are memorable, ones that seep into both pop culture and an audience member’s mind. Scarface is a classic. It is unafraid to be violent, profane, and to show that the dream of capitalism is a sham. It is not the most original film. But the cast, especially Al Pacino, is outstanding. The film is both memorable and highly entertaining. 8/10

This is the End (2013)


This is going to be a mini review for two reasons 1) I caught this film on TV and missed a bit of the beginning. 2) I think analyzing a comedy too much takes away from simply enjoying it and I don’t really want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

I loved him. Then I hated him. Now I'm starting to love James Franco again.
I loved him. Then I hated him. Now I’m starting to love James Franco again.

This is the End is a meta comedy written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Seth also stars in the film along with James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, and Danny McBride among many others. The film is meta because each of the actor’s plays a heightened version of themselves and toys with the public’s perceptions of them. The whole film feels like an inside joke among a group of friends and the audience is invited to feel like another one of the guys. I love Jay Baruchel, but the best actor in this film, at least to me, is James Franco. His timing is impeccable and his reputation as a pretentious D-bag (in Star Lord’s words) really works for him here. I used to hate James Franco, but he definitely has charisma. And this film, combined with The Interview if it’s successful, can turn things around for him and make me (as well as a lot of other people) like him again.

Emma Watson versus Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen.
Emma Watson versus Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen.

There are a lot of cameos in this film and that is definitely one of its strong suits. I loved Emma Watson, she was tougher than any of the guys. Near the very end I was thrilled to see the Backstreet Boys show up (Backstreet forever). But by far my favorite was Channing Tatum as a sex slave. I am really starting to like him and the whole concept there was just hilarious. Another highlight was the reference/spoof of Rosemary’s Baby. I was so thrilled to see that as it is one of my favorite films. And lastly, my favorite scene was the argument between James Franco and Danny McBride about cumming everywhere. The audience can see how much fun the actors are having with that scene which makes it all the more enjoyable. Actually, I think that notion applies to the whole film. The joy these guys have working together emanates off the screen and is infectious. I would recommend this film to anyone who likes their comedy a little on the raunchy side. So many comedies fail, it’s nice to finally see one succeed. 8/10

How to Get Away with Murder: Episode 5; We’re Not Friends

Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza).
Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza).

This episode might as well be called the Laurel episode. She is the student most involved with the case they are defending and her relationship with Frank is explained a little more. But not much more. I thought for sure we were going to see them bone, but nope. Although they do at some point apparently. I find Frank pretty annoying, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. I like Laurel (Karla Souza) a little better now, but she still has constant bitch face.
• Did Laurel kill Sam? I think she said something about being a murderer. I don’t know, I’m still so confused.
• Annalise calls Laurel out on being a show off. Haha.
• So Sam did have an affair with Lila.

Sam is is just sitting there, probably thinking "Wanna see my dick(pic)?"
Sam is is just sitting there, probably thinking “Wanna see my dick(pic)?”

• “Then why did you lie to me?” Viola’s acting in her scene with Sam is excellent. Give this woman all the awards. She is so convincing. In that moment she’s almost animalistic in her anger. Her voice is raw with pain.
• Sam cheated on his first wife with Annalise. Once a cheater, always a cheater, I guess. I do feel sorry for Annalise, mostly because Viola is amazing. But this information paired with the fact that Annalise has cheated on Sam should make her unlikeable. I think it’s a testament to Viola’s charisma that the audience can forget something like that.
• I love watching Viola command a court room. Especially in the scene where she appeals to the jury’s emotions. I would have voted her way.
• Why won’t Laurel turn her phone off when they are getting rid of Sam’s body? Once I can understand, but twice? Is she that stupid?
• Annalise’s death stare aimed at Bonnie aka Ice Queen. Scary. But why wouldn’t Annalise fire her? Obviously Bonnie isn’t that loyal to her.
• Maybe Connor really is a sex addict if he’s looking at dick pics in the court room.
• The bickering among the students is quite funny.
• “Sexting pays off.” Haha, Connor strikes again!
• “Let it rain, hairy guy, let it rain.” Asher finally says something noteworthy and hilarious.
• “Bitch, please.” Bonnie to Frank. It was hilarious sinve it came out of nowhere.
• Finally some straight sex! I don’t mind the gay sex, but there’s been a lot of it lately. Laurel sexually attacks her boyfriend since she can’t hop on Frank (yet).
• Rebecca says Lila left her phone at Rebecca’s the night before she died because she was “done dealing.” Even if you no longer want to be a drug dealer, why would you leave your phone behind? How does that make sense? Rebecca is definitely lying.

Trailer Review: The Gambler

“Fuck you!” I’m liking what John Goodman is throwing down in this trailer. The cast is probably the best thing this movie has going for it. Although director Rupert Wyatt has recently done well with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The plot of The Gambler sounds kind of bland and unoriginal. Basically a guy with gambling problems gets into trouble with some gangsters. *Yawn* It sounds so boring because it is a remake of the 1974 film starring James Cann. But this cast, starring Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, and John Goodman, has me intrigued. Especially since I have never seen the original film. The trailer itself is also unoriginal and follows the usual format these days. Some dialogue from the ‘bad guy’ followed by a quick montage meant to make the film seem fast and exciting. I definitely would not waste money seeing this movie at a theater, but it might be enjoyable on a boring night.

Trailer Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

You might think I live under a rock when I say this, but I’ve never seen The Avengers or any of the Iron Man flicks or either of the Captain America films. The only Marvel film I’ve seen is Thor. And I really liked it. But that was mostly because I loved Kenneth Branagh’s direction and Norse mythology. Oh, I guess I have also seen Guardians of the Galaxy (and loved it), but I’m not sure how or when it will tie into the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe. So me reviewing the Age of Ultron trailer might seem a little dumb. I know generally about the Avengers and their powers, etc. It’s hard in this day and age to not hear a few tid bits here and there. But otherwise, I have no previous opinions or feelings. So maybe I can have a bit of a fresh perspective on this trailer. Or I’ll just reveal my ignorance 😛
20 seconds into the trailer: this reminds me of Man of Steel and Zod. I guess with so many comic book movies out there they will inevitably start to resemble one another.
25 seconds in: “You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change.” Another inevitable thing with basically all super hero movies is that the main goal is always to save the world. And frankly, I’m starting to find that quite boring. I enjoy the more personal nuances of these films, like how in The Dark Knight trilogy Batman is trying to figure out the man he wants to be. Or in Man of Steel, Superman has to try to find his place on Earth and figure out how he belongs there. Does The Avengers have any of these kind of nuances to it? Or is it mostly just saving the world with cool action sequences?

Ultron puts on a puppet show.
Ultron puts on a puppet show.

30 seconds in: I do find the voice over of Ultron (James Spader) throughout the trailer quite effective. “You’re all puppets, tangled in strings” was a particularly good moment.
1:00 minute: Black Widow looks pretty cool. This is important to me since as a woman I find myself most interested in the female member of the Avengers. She doesn’t really stand out though, which is a little disappointing. I don’t particularly like Scarlett Johansson and I probably would have watched more Marvel films if someone else had played Black Widow.

Ultron or a Sentinel?
Ultron or a Sentinel?

1:02: they show a robot, whom I presume is Ultron. But he looks way too much like the Sentinels in X-Men: Days of Future Past to me. It takes away from this film, at least for me.
1:10: OMG Thor drops his hammer! As Tony Stark says, it really is the end! I guess all trailers over dramatize little things, but I found this moment particularly melodramatic.
1:15: OMG Black Widow speaks! Of course she says the most clichéd line ever: “Nothing lasts forever.” She’s doing better than Hawk Eye though.
1:20: Scarlet Witch screams for some unknown reason and looks kind of dumb while doing so. I’m very intrigued though by her and Quicksilver in this movie. I’m curious as to their roles in the Marvel cinematic universe and whether they are good or bad. Or maybe a bit of both.

The Hulkbuster.
The Hulkbuster.

1:26: Is this actually a Transformers movie?
1:28: Okay, Black Widow jumping out of that plane while on a motorcycle is pretty badass.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson makes his debut as Quicksilver.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson makes his debut as Quicksilver.

1:29: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s super powers are blue and red lights? I kid. Kind of. The slow-mo obviously means Quicksilver is actually running super fast.

It should be a rule that Thor has to be shirtless in every movie.
It should be a rule that Thor has to be shirtless in every movie.

1:34: Thor naked in some water screaming. Kind of hot.

A Blulk romance? (lame name, I know. I challenge you to come up with something better).
A Blulk romance? (lame name, I know. I challenge you to come up with something better).

1:35: Is this the start of a Hulk/Black Widow romance? In the comics, isn’t she with Hawkeye? That guy cannot catch a break!
1:36: Some random ballet dancers. Alrighty then.
1:38: Hawkeye! Finally! Oh, now he’s gone again.
1:39: Thor choking Tony Stark! The cliché of teammates turning on one another when things get tough. Didn’t see that coming.
1:58: “But now I’m free. There are no strings on me.” Okay, maybe Ultron is cooler than I thought. And he even kind of rhymes too!
Despite this tongue in cheek review, I kind of like this trailer. Its action packed and the stakes feel quite high. I’m intrigued by Ultron as well as by Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I think I will be seeing this one in theaters. But I guess I should try catching up with some other Marvel films first. Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters May 2015.

Note: Images courtesy of Collider.

Trailer Review: In the Heart of the Sea


Chris Hemsworth is a very busy guy these days. Not only is he busy as Thor in the Avengers films and Thor 3 (not sure when that will be out), but he’s also starring in Michael Mann’s Blackhat as well as in Ron Howard’s next flick In the Heart of the Sea. Chris seems to be making a conscious effort to break out of the super hero/pretty roles. Until the films come out it’s hard to say how well he will do, but it seems that high profile directors respect him and want him in their films. This is Chris’s second film with Ron Howard after last year’s Rush. In the Heart of the Sea is based on the incident that inspired the novel, Moby Dick. Acting alongside Chris is Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw, and Charlotte Riley.
I think this film looks pretty good and interesting. I don’t know much about Moby Dick, but I like the idea of a crew of men having to face such an incredible obstacle. It isn’t the most original idea though. I recently reviewed the trailer for Black Sea and while it takes place in a totally different time and place the two films are similar in terms of a crew of friends at sea eventually turning on each other. So if In the Heart of the Sea is to be successful, it will have to be told in an original way, even if the story itself is not. The film already has a solid cast. I’m not convinced Ron Howard is up to the task as while his films are generally good, he isn’t very inventive and not one to take any risks. The visuals look quite nice and are probably the thing I like the most about the trailer as well as the montage at the very end.
In the Heart of the Sea hits theaters in March 2015. I think I will go see it if I happen to be bored that weekend. It looks good, but not good enough to really excite me.

How to Get Away with Murder: Episode 4; Let’s Get to Scooping

No hair, don't care. Viola Davis as Annalise Keating.
No hair, don’t care. Viola Davis as Annalise Keating.

This episode was pretty good. Not my favorite, but good. I liked that Connor (Jack Falahee) was the focus for a lot of it. The audience is beginning to see a few more sides of him. He is a player, but he still has a heart. I actually kind of like Connor’s boy toy, Oliver, naïve as he is. It was sad to see his heart get broken. But I guess he should have known Connor is a player. I think it broke Connor’s heart a little too. Good acting on both their parts. I also liked the guilt Connor shows/feels over Paxton’s suicide (Which was abrupt and kind of lame to me). These two events, coupled with Sam’s murder, bring on Connor’s breakdown that is briefly shown when he goes to Oliver after the murder. Poor Connor. He’s a large part of why I like this show.

Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh.
Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh.

And that last scene with Annalise, wow. It was so powerful and yes kind of shocking. In that scene Annalise peels off her wig and wipes away her make-up, showing the audience who she truly is for the first time. I really like that she chose to confront Sam looking like that. I also love how she abruptly says to him “Sam, why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” I was shocked! I laughed. I really was not expecting that, but Annalise is always quite blunt. That moment is an all-time highlight for me on any television show. I loved it. And the fall out next week looks like it will be quite juicy.
• So Rebecca didn’t kill Sam? I am so confused by all that flash forward stuff. Did Michaela do it? She’s the one falling apart the most.
• I like that, for the most part, the show encourages women to be powerful and assertive. This is, of course, best shown in Annalise (despite some of her flaws). I found the scene in which Annalise talks to Rebecca about her case to be quite good. Annalise encourages Rebecca to be heard and define herself, not to let anyone else define her based on their misconceptions.
• Ms. Trudeau, the woman Annalise had to defend this episode was very entertaining. She was funny, but a little crass.
• “You don’t wanna hear about my pussies.” Hahahaha.
• “If (Sam) were my husband I’d never be able to walk straight again.”
• Bitchy Blonde, Bonnie, is either having an affair with Sam or plain old stalking him. I’m guessing it’s the latter.
• Good on the show for the way they depict gay sex and homosexual relationships. It doesn’t seem all that different from the way heterosexual sex is shown all over the media.
• Paxton thinks he can get one over on Connor, but no one plays Connor!
• Bonnie is taking Sam’s side over Annalise? That’s cold. Henceforth she shall be known as the Ice Queen.
• WTF was the window open the whole time? Paxton decides to kill himself in a split second. The whole thing seemed a little ridiculous. But it does show that people should be more aware of the things they say, even in the heat of the moment.
• I love the scene where Annalise plays “detective” with Trudeau’s employees. It was fun, fast paced, and funny.
• The Ice Queen got Rebecca’s interrogation tape. Is she trying to make up to Annalise for what she did behind her back?
• Wes and Annalise just keep getting closer and closer. “It’s important to [Rebecca] and to me.” Ooh, when is Annalise gonna pounce?

Here’s a great interview with Viola Davis about this episode:

The White Queen: Episode 4; The Bad Queen

This episode was kind of bland for me. I still like the show, but it feels like the characters are playing musical chairs with the throne of England. It would help matters if there was a character that really elicited the audience’s sympathy. Someone to cheer for. But alas there is no one. Even Elizabeth is no longer interesting or likeable.

The bitch is back. Veerle Baetens as Margaret of Anjou.
The bitch is back. Veerle Baetens as Margaret of Anjou.

The best part of this episode is that the Bad Queen has finally arrived! She makes a melodramatic entrance worthy of a soap opera. The music suddenly gets louder and more dramatic. It’s like the arrival of Maleficent or something. And I love it. Margaret of Anjou is a total bitch and she’s pretty justified in it. She and her husband were kicked off their thrones by Edward after all. Margaret of Anjou is finally the one to call out Warwick on his BS (that’s what made me really like her). Warwick gets away with his scheming with everyone else, saying he is just doing right by God. But Margaret knows that he’s really just trying to promote himself. Margaret is now running the show, not Warwick.

Michael Maloney as Henry Stafford and Amanda Hale as Margaret Beaufort.
Michael Maloney as Henry Stafford and Amanda Hale as Margaret Beaufort.

The MVP of this episode is by far Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale). Of all the characters on The White Queen, Margaret is the only one to be fully realized. Everyone else is flat and fairly stereotypical. But Margaret is special. She’s a conniving bitch who has no conscience. She does everything in the name of God and for her son’s sake, she believes he will one day be king. But she also has her moments of weakness and doubt. And her relationship with her son, Henry, is fragile and quite sad for her. I don’t like Margaret, but I find her quite interesting and Amanda Hale does some amazing acting. Margaret stands out from the pack, as she really has since day one. But her best scenes are in this episode. When she confides in her husband, fearing that she is being punished for her father’s sins. And the scene in which Henry comes to love and he truly believes he will be king. You can see the joy radiate from within Margaret. Finally her son loves and trusts her. It is a very touching moment.
• WTF does Elizabeth see in her vision? It just looks like some cloth floating in the water to me.
• Poor Anne. I almost feel sorry for her. She’s married off to a real d-bag (Star Lord’s words). Too bad like Margaret of Anjou I also find Anne to be plain in terms of both looks and personality. She’s a mouse. Although I think she has some backbone that has yet to be revealed.
• Anne’s pining for Richard is becoming seriously laughable. Get over it! Has she ever even had a conversation with him? All I remember her doing was staring at him and sighing.
• George finally does something! He attacks Warwick! And then he just stops and proceeds to let Warwick tell him what to do. George is as big a pawn as any of the women on the show.
• “When I was a girl, I thought I was destined for greatness…sainthood.” Margaret really should have been a nun, she’s so dedicated to God.

Jacquetta (Janet McTeer) on trial for witchcraft.
Jacquetta (Janet McTeer) on trial for witchcraft.

• How dare Warwick arrest Jacquetta?! Bastard.
• “Fortune’s wheel will never stop turning.” Yes, Margaret of Anjou. Once someone gets the throne they are thrown off it the next episode. And then on it again. I can’t keep track.
• Anne’s rape was pretty brutal. It can be easy to forget how much rape went on during this time as the period is kind of romanticized today.
• Why does Anne’s eye go droopy just before her husband rapes her? It was so bizarre, I laughed (I probably would laugh at a funeral).
• Poor Henry Stafford. He’s a pretty good husband to Margaret, yet he’s still the odd one out.
• Mad King Henry is back on the throne, but probably has no idea what is going on.
• I wish there was more Isabel. I realize she’s a minor character, but still. I like her.
• Elizabeth finally gives birth to a boy. But isn’t it kinda too late for that? That would have been awesome an episode or two ago.
• Ewwww, did we really have to see the baby’s head crowning?

Deadwood: Season 1, Episodes 2, 3, and 4.

Finally someone tells E.B. to fuck off.
Finally someone tells E.B. to fuck off.

Last night I watched three episodes of Deadwood in a row because they are just so good. Shirtless Bullock! A new whore house! Al in his onesie! So for my review/recap I’m grouping together “Deep Water,” “Reconnoitering the Rim” (basically the Brom episode), and “Here was a Man” (the Bill Hickok episode).
The gradual demise of Bill Hickok is a storyline that runs throughout these 3 episodes, ending with his climatic demise in episode 4. It’s great, but also melancholic to see Bill descend into depression and ultimately accept his inevitable death. Keith Carradine is wonderful as Bill, giving him a kind of awkward charisma. It’s too bad he couldn’t have been on the show longer. What I love about Deadwood (other than the profanity) is the attention paid to small details. I think there is just one shot of Bill’s hand shaking. That’s all that is needed to establish that maybe Bill has lost his touch, maybe Bullock is a faster draw than he is. Bill becomes tired of living. He can’t seem to live a normal life, so he just wants to play poker. I can’t really blame him. It’s sad for Charlie and Jane though.

Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) effectively intimidates Jane (Robin Weigert).
Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) effectively intimidates Jane (Robin Weigert).

Jane (Robin Weigert) is also starting to develop into an interesting character. At first she just comes off as a drunk, profanity spitting woman who wants to be a man. But different sides of her start to appear as the show goes on. Jane is shown to be caring and compassionate, especially in regards to the orphaned little girl. She’s also show to possess some femininity, which shows mostly in her interactions with Bill. He’s the only man to treat her with respect and she loves him for it. And then there was the really good scene between her and Al Swearengen. Al busts into the Doc’s cabin, threatens Jane and basically does what he wants. All the while Jane just stands there blubbering, threatening him, but immobilized. The whole time I was just thinking, “what the fuck is her problem, knock him out already!” I thought she was incredibly dumb. But later on it is revealed that Jane has been raped by men her whole life, and so when she was alone and confronted with a man as imposing Al, she snapped. She was immobilized by fear and her traumatic past. She captures the audience’s sympathy after this. She’s shown to be a three dimensional character. Although the way she mumbles most of her lines still irritates me.

Total instances of “Cocksucker”: 17, “Titty”: 1, “Pussy”: 3, “Cunt”: 8, “Asshole”: 1.
• Alma is annoying. Go home to New York, literally everyone is telling you to do so (Bill, the Doc). Why the heck would a woman want to stay in a town full of dirty, misogynistic men?
• Whenever a murder or something suspicious happens in Deadwood Bullock gets a look on his face that says “I must investigate.” It’s kind of laughable. You’re not a sheriff anymore, Bullock.
• Bullock also somehow gets involved in every murder and is always at the following funeral. It’s funny because the viewer can see how much he loathes listening to the Reverend every time.
• Damn Bullock is sexy. Especially when he’s sweaty.
• Idiot Brom goes looking for gold like an idiot. Brom idiotically trusts Dan and Al. Idiotic Brom takes a tumble he never gets up from. RIP Brom.
• Al and Bullock finally meet and instantly have a hate on for each other.
• Tom Mason (Nick Offerman) runs around naked, screaming incomprehensibly. Still hilarious.
• “Oooh, what’s your time of the month?” Al to the Doc.
• The single tear down Dan’s face as he goes to the Doc’s to kill the little girl (which doesn’t happen). It was effective, not cheesy.

Out of the way folks, a new whore house is in town! Powers Boothe as Cy and Kim Dickens as Joanie.
Out of the way folks, a new whore house is in town! Powers Boothe as Cy and Kim Dickens as Joanie.

• The new clean whore house! Finally, some people who look like they actually bathe more than once a year.
• Bill’s “cunt” rant to Jack. Hahahaha, I love Keith Carradine’s delivery. Deadpan. Jack doesn’t even know what’s going on.
• “Do not repeat back to me what I just said in different fuckin’ words!” E.B. obviously does not comprehend this and does it again. I wish Al would kill him, but I guess E.B. has his uses. He’s fun to hate.
• Alma: “A community such as this attracts a certain kind of man.” The kind that don’t bathe? (I’m just joking) (But seriously, if the Bella Union can do it, why can’t everyone else?)
• E.B. proclaims he is “loyal as a damn dog.” Saying something like that so obviously means the opposite.
• E.B. tells Al “short of burning the town down, you gotta trust someone.” The only wise thing to come out of E.B.’s mouth.
• Trixie and Al’s weird, abusive, but fascinating relationship. Do they love each other in a twisted way? At least he hasn’t beaten her for a few episodes.
• Not very much of Bullock in these episodes, but I think that will change soon.

Bye bye Bill.
Bye bye Bill (Keith Carradine). Jack is played by Garret Dillahunt. 

• How did Jack get a gun and a new suit? Did Al or someone else pay him to kill Bill? (Haha, kill Bill).
• Bill just happens to put on his fancy red sash on the day he’s going to die. Bill dies in style.
• My mother and I didn’t believe that someone like Bill would sit with his back to the door while playing poker. But this is historically accurate. In real life it was the only seat available when Bill got there and no one would trade with him.
• Why the heck is someone suddenly riding around waving an Indian head? Wild Bill just died! Have some respect. But seriously, why?!
• Bullock’s devastation over Bill’s death. No words are spoken, but his pain is evident. Great acting by Timothy Olyphant.

Dracula Untold (2014)


Anyone who knows me knows that I have a weak spot for Dracula. I have read quite a few different novels on both the fictional Count from Transylvania as well as the historical son of the Dragon, Vlad Tepes. I love vampire novels, but I’ve also found the real Vlad to be much more interesting than the fictional creation of Bram Stoker. Dracula Untold seeks to combine the two Vlads while also creating a sort of vampire “superhero.” Dracula Untold is a thrilling and dark story that pleases, but doesn’t ever really surprise.
One of my favorite novels, the one that I always recommend, is Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys. I’ve read it 3 times I love it so much. Action, romance, it’s a historical fiction that feels fresh and different. Here is a depiction of the real life Vlad Dracula that isn’t afraid to show him for what he truly was: a monster. But a highly intelligent, charismatic, courageous monster. He is the ultimate anti-hero, but he doesn’t act without a purpose. He has reasons, not always commendable ones, for the acts he commits. He is also a lover, loyal to his country and allies. Vlad: The Last Confession succeeds in making the reader like Vlad, despite some of his gruesome deeds.

This time around Vlad's a family man.
This time around Vlad’s a family man.

I wish Dracula Untold had been brave enough to depict Vlad as C.C. Humphreys did in his novel. As an antihero. But selling that kind of movie would be difficult, so I can see why the studio would shy away from that. Universal also wants to set up a cinematic universe with their “monsters” to, I guess, compete with Disney and Warner Brothers’s comic book universes and superheroes. Hence why in Dracula Untold Vlad has some powers that more so resemble a hero than a vampire.
Due to my previous knowledge of the real Vlad the Impaler I did not like that in Untold Vlad is first and foremost a “family man.” It so obviously was just a ploy to gain the audiences sympathy. But whatever, I understand that, so while I don’t like that direction I can forgive it. I thought Sarah Gadon and the young boy who plays Vlad’s son were good in their roles, so it was easy to see why Vlad loves them so much. I like that Untold does attempt to incorporate a lot of the historical facts surrounding Vlad. It was a nice touch. I understand that this film is basically just an action movie, not a historical representation of Vlad (although apparently Brad Pitt’s production company is working on a Vlad film that will only be about the history, no vampirism, so fingers crossed for that). So again, I can forgive this film for things that I would condemn more pretentious movies for. But I really disliked how Untold just throws in “yeah, Vlad impaled a bunch of people, but we’re not going to explain how or why. But believe us, he’s a good guy, so he must have had his reasons.” That kind of logic doesn’t fly with me. I really didn’t like how that was glossed over.
It’s really really difficult to straddle such a fine line of good and evil with a character like Vlad. But he doesn’t need to be treated like an average superhero. I think he could be made to be more human (you know what I mean). It’s risky, but if he had been more unlikeable I don’t think audiences would be scared. If anything they might welcome a change. Think something along the lines of if the Joker from The Dark Knight got his own spinoff movie. People would love that. A bad guy just being bad, but with his own logical reasons for it. I think it could work as long as he didn’t do anything too heinous. Universal went the same, predictable route with Dracula Untold, but that approach doesn’t always pay off. Audiences aren’t stupid and I think Dracula as a character appeals to so many people because he’s sexy (duh), but he’s also a badass.
If you take this film for what it is, basically an action flick (along the lines of Batman Begins) with battle sequences, costumes and handsome men brooding then I think the average viewer will really enjoy it. I really liked Dracula Untold. I even kind of loved it. Maybe that’s partly due to my love of everything Dracula (after Untold I had a craving to see Coppola’s Dracula again), including those cheesy Christopher Lee movies. But it isn’t really just that. Untold is fun (for a movie with an impaler as the protagonist). I really enjoyed the cinematography, it makes this an action film that is slightly above average. Some of the shots and effects were unique and entertaining. I especially enjoyed the final battle sequence.

Never mind Vlad (Luke Evans). He's just practicing his Blue Steel look for his next life as a runway model.
Never mind Vlad (Luke Evans). He’s just practicing his Blue Steel look for his next life as a runway model.

Luke Evans is a great Dracula. He doesn’t have a whole lot to work with, but he manages to make him more than just the two dimensional character on the page. He reminded me a little of Johnny Depp (I’ve always wanted to see him as a vampire. Then I got Dark Shadows. My heart still aches over that). Sexy, with that loner vibe, and appropriately dangerous. Luke is promising. He’s not on a level with Gary Oldman, but he can be proud of the work he’s done. Without his presence the film would have been much more boring. The same can’t be said for Dominic Cooper though. He could have just stood there twisting his mustache. He had no presence, he did not evoke any fear or apprehension in the viewer. It’s actually one of the major faults of the film; failing to create an interesting antagonist that could believably be Dracula’s equal. I liked that the film has a relatively short running time (about 90 minutes). But maybe they should have added a scene or two about Vlad’s childhood with the Turks, or something that fleshed out Dominic’s character.

Just when you thought Dominic Cooper couldn't get more boring, he does!
Just when you thought Dominic Cooper couldn’t get more boring, he does!

I was very pleasantly surprised by Dracula Untold despite some of its drawbacks. My expectations going into the film were very low. But this is an enjoyable action movie that I would recommend to all my friends. It’s a fun way to spend a Saturday night out. I love the character of Dracula, in all his many iterations, and this film just affirms that. This film holds back just a little too much in order to play it safe and secure a PG-13 rating. But it is still a better than average action movie, perfect to see just before Halloween. 7/10