Tag Archives: Edgar Ramirez

Gold

“We work hard in this business. Sometimes for nothing.”

I’m gonna go ahead and say this straight away, if you’re going to release a “based on true events” film in February, do yourself a favour and make it good. Because having just sat through Gold, hoping for something worthy of the time of year it’s been released in, I’m starting to burn out on uninspiring true stories.

Matthew McConaughey is Kenny Wells, a third generation miner who’s struggling to keep himself afloat. Desperate for a lucky break, he turns to fellow prospector Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) in a last ditch attempt to find a score worth talking about.

When the pair start digging holes in Indonesia, what seems to be a waste of time soon turns more than a little profit. With their freshly golden find, the money starts pouring in at a rate nobody can believe and as the list of investors grows, so do the zeros on the bank balances of everyone involved. But as is always the case, things aren’t as great as they may seem on the surface and between bigger businesses muscling in on Wells and Acosta’s mine and Wells himself spiralling out of control, it’s a fight to see what will ruin things first.

Gold tries so very hard to be a film it clearly isn’t. It’s got the DNA of so many brilliant films yet always feels like it’s playing second fiddle to greats like The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street. Watching Kenny Wells and his partner struggling at the tail end of the financial crash should be a thrilling tale of a guy (or guys) pulling themselves up from the dirt they’re digging around in.

Instead, it’s a story that’s paint-by-numbers in every sense. Every twist and every turn is telegraphed and predictable in a way that ironically I honestly didn’t expect. By the end, I was spending more time looking at my watch in bored frustration than I did the screen.

Oscar winning writer and director Stephen Gaghan – the man responsible for films like Syriana and Traffic – seems to have let his stars hit the auto pilot, as he has done too. The man that made such well thought out, tense pieces in the past has settled for what I consider possibly the blandest film he’s ever been a part of. The same goes for its stars: McConaughey and Ramirez are both usually so good nowadays and yet here they seem quite content with phoning in a performance just to get the film made. I’m just so disappointed with the pair of them.

The best acting on that screen was from Matthew McConaughey’s makeup department. Most notably from the annoying snaggletooth that seemed to stay pearly white as the rest of the man’s teeth got progressively more yellow. It was the best bit of acting of the entire production, and a literal standout performance.

There are a dozen biopics that tell this story much better than Gold. I honestly cannot recommend it. I mean, it’s ok, but it just seems like a project that everyone got involved in to get a few bills paid. No one here put a full effort in. I expected great things from this in Oscar season, but it turned out to be another movie put out with the trash, ready to be forgotten with everything else out this month.

Point Break

Point Break

“This is my path. Let me follow it.”

We’ve all said these words haven’t we?

“Why does Hollywood keep remaking stuff. Just come up with something original.”

Back in 1991, when Kathryn Bigelow made the original Point Break is was just that, original. A young, newly transferred FBI agent reluctantly goes undercover on the beaches of Los Angeles when a hair-brained theory emerges that a string of unsolvable bank robberies are being perpetrated by surfers. Pretty unique, if you ask me.

So, in the latest move from Hollywood’s remake machine – the churn-em-out-o-matic 3000 – we get a dulled down, 12 rated cop “thriller” based around the world of extreme sport. Ladies and gentlemen, Point Break.

After tragedy hits extreme sports star and Monster energy drink peddler Johnny Utah, while working on his most insane YouTube video, the motocross star hangs up his helmet and works to join the FBI. In his last days at the academy, Utah and his class are introduced to a daredevil band of thieves who defeat impossible odds to make their score and make their getaway. With a willingness to go further than the police are to chase them, the bandits seem unstoppable as they dare to ride motorbikes out of a 100 storey window and parachute to safety.

But Utah knows this world. Quickly figuring out that these thieves are trying to complete the “Ozaki Eight”; a series of trials and ordeals that a person must go through to become one with the Earth. The robberies they commit are the groups way of taking from the rich and the corrupt and returning it to those that need it – like Robin Hood, but on surfboards, and bikes, and snowboards, and without the pansy green tights – Utah convinces his superiors he can bring these guys to justice and is sent to the location of the next trial to meet up with his new partner, Pappas, and sets about infiltrating the group. Insanity ensues as the extreme sportsman proves himself to the daring robbers and attempts to put an end to their crimes, and their journey of enlightenment.

I refuse to be completely negative about this flick, so I’ll start with the one good bit Point Break has; its sports action scenes look great. They are filmed well and look absolutely gorgeous. Sadly, that’s the only good thing I can say about this two hour farce of a movie.

Right, let’s get down to this. Point Break fails miserably as a remake of what is a great cop thriller. The entire, err, point, of the original is that Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah spends the movie gaining enlightenment where the men he’s chasing have already achieved what they we’re searching for. Here, Utah (a nickname in the remake, he mentioned his real name once but I forgot/couldn’t be bothered to remember it) is trying to stop these guys seeking nirvana. He makes no personal growth, no feeling that he might not be doing the right thing, there’s no struggle for this former peddler of energy drinks outside of having to live with the bloody awful hairstyle the FBI have apparently let him keep.

Moving on, for those that haven’t seen the original; Bodie and his crew of “Ex-Presidents” – another detail missing from this abomination – are bank robbers. Not murderers. It’s not their way, it’s not what they’re about and it damn sure isn’t the best way to keep yourself out of prison; with the first death at one of their robberies being where things start to go horribly wrong. New Bodie – or Bro-die, as I will now be calling him – however, seems to be perfectly content leaving bodies everywhere he goes. It doesn’t just miss the point of the original, it’s in direct contradiction to the idea of “giving back to the earth” and “finding nirvana and enlightenment” that this waste of film tries to convince us is the point to the groups existence.

This abomination of a film, with almost no redeeming value as entertainment, is a completely lifeless waste of your time. To call it macho is to give it far too much credit and its actors far too much praise. Point Break only really serves to show us what imbeciles these guys look like as they potter around, using stupid made-up words like poly-athlete and pretending to be doing good and giving back as they take sponsorship from a rich Arab dude who lives vicariously through these idiots. Bodie and Utah, the charismatic pair with genuine love and admiration for each other in the original have been turned into a couple of brofisting cocks with all the personality and charisma of an old condom found on the beach. The not-very-dynamic duo spend the almost two hour runtime throwing cups full of old hangover piss over the memory of arguably one of the best cop films of the early nineties.

I can’t imagine this film, which is nothing more than a twat filled douche canoe, populated with very bad tattoos and topknots on cardboard cutouts of unlikeable bellends, having anything for audiences that have never seen the classic Point Break outside of some very nice snowboarding footage – which, to be honest, comes part of a much more enjoyable film if you can sit through xXx – but for fans of the original, this will have you rummaging through your pockets for anything you can push through your eyes, just to make the pain of what you’re watching end. To call this remake pointless and unnecessary is more than stating the obvious at this point, it’s an awful experience that serves no purpose other than to take up screen space where a decent film could have been shown.

Joy

joy

“The only thing that you’re ever gonna have is what you make.”

Another year, another collection of films chasing statues that they quite possibly don’t deserve. Another day, another film inspired by a true story. Another David O. Russell film, another wasted Jennifer Lawrence performance. Ladies and gentlemen, Joy.

Joy is the “true story” of Joy Mangano, the struggling mother-of-two who invented the Miracle Mop and is the latest film from David O. Russell; director of the excellent Three Kings and The Fighter but doesn’t seem to have produced much of note since. His third film in a row to star Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper seems to be following quite a steep downward trajectory in terms of writing, direction and just generally having the ability to be interesting in almost any way.

Jennifer Lawrence is the titular Joy, a young woman with aspirations to be an inventor but is stuck. She’s stuck in a dead end job; stuck living in a house with her ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) living in the basement; stuck with her mother (Virginia Madsen) who lives and dies by the soap operas she has developed an unhealthy addiction to and now, stuck with her father (Robert De Niro) who has been dumped on her doorstep by the latest woman in his life. Working herself silly trying to make ends meet, Joy has become a dab hand at almost everything and can do a bit of anything; from your standard household chores to a quick repair of the house plumbing.

After cutting her hand cleaning up a broken glass on the boat of Trudy (Isabella Rossilini), her father’s latest squeeze, Joy goes home with an idea for a new type of mop, one that wrings itself to prevent accidents like the one she suffered on that day. As the ideas keep coming, Joy convinces Trudy to invest in her and her product. Struggling at first to get her idea off the ground, between shady companies she’s forced to work with for manufacturing and interference of almost every member of her family; Joy gets a break when she’s introduced to Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), an expert salesmen who is a fundamental part of the newly formed QVC shopping channel and Joy seems destined to make her fortune.

Bad business and worse advice means that life isn’t all plain sailing for Joy, but we get to see this young woman’s resolve as she refuses to give up on her family, her invention or her dreams.

Joy clocks in at two hours and change. And in that two hours, the only thing that David O. Russell manages to convince me of is that maybe he needs to rethink his strategy when he’s writing and directing movies. I mean, I’ve seen films that on paper should be boring but are in fact, excellent – I’m looking at you, Whiplash – but this is a mess of a film that would be simply bad if it wasn’t trying so hard to put me to sleep. I’m assuming that the point of Joy’s family was to make me so angry that I considered getting up and walking out of the cinema uttering coarse abuse at the douche canoe of imbeciles on the screen. Between De Niro’s skulking, manipulating dad; Madsen’s moronic mum and her attention seeking arsehole of a sister (Elisabeth Röhm), Joy is surrounded with idiots that do nothing but hold her back.

But that was pretty much my only strong reaction that I think was intended by the guys behind the camera. All my others circled somewhere between boredom and annoyance at almost all times. I’m sorry, but you can’t take the story of the woman who invented the Wonder Mop and make her story one anybody wants to see. I need a reason to care about the people on screen and whether or not someone can get their product into the Betterware catalogue just ain’t going to do it. The cast try their hardest, but there’s nothing there for them to get me invested. De Niro is doing his best to prove that he’s going senile in his old age and has forgotten how to pick a great role (see the incoming Dirty Grandpa) while Madsen just seems desperate to be on the big screen and willing to do anything; including play a soap addicted imbecile who’s behaviour is borderline retarded the whole way through.

My love of Jennifer Lawrence in roles that aren’t The Hunger Games took a severe knock here too. I don’t hate her, I just don’t think she’s right for the part. We all know she can carry a big film – and even a big franchise – but that doesn’t mean she should be doing everything that comes across her desk. One of my favourite young actresses is wasted here, looking far too young to be playing the part and given a par-boiled script that fell flat the entire time. I’ll admit to enjoying Cooper’s part. The super smart sales guy role suits him and he played it very well. If the acting jobs ever dry up, he’ll make a great addition to your local Ford dealership.

One last thing, I don’t think I can mention this enough. This is the film about the woman who invented the Miracle Mop! I mean, how much scraping of the true story barrel has been done to mean that we’re left with this? I really think there must be something better around that’s worth looking at first. The coffee mug with a biscuit holder? The Wonderbra? The stink bomb? Anything! No, ladies and gentlemen, we get the self squeezing mop. And don’t let that trailer fool you. You know the one I mean don’t you? It’s nothing like what’s advertised. Don’t waste your energy, fall asleep in your living room chair in front of a good film instead.