benicio del toro

Showing 11 posts tagged benicio del toro

A Tale of Two Films: “Magic Mike” and “Savages”

One of my best friends, Cortney and I had a movie-going Friday night and saw a double feature - Magic Mike, which I had been anticipating because, you know, I’m a warm-blooded woman and the thought of a movie showcasing hot male strippers is both attractive and hilarious to me, and Savages, the latest (and my first) film from legendary director Olivier Stone. These two were also on my list on what to look out for this summer. I would like to confess here that yes, we did only pay for Magic Mike and movie hopped to Savages. Cortney introduced me to this last year and if we are ever caught, she is the one I’m blaming. I’m a good girl so only a big, corrupting force would ever persuade me to do something like that ::sly smile:: Anyway, on to the mini-reviews…

Do See: Magic Mike (Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughy, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez)… especially if you like seeing attractive men in various state of undress. Serious, this movie is a must see if only to witness female movie-goers cat-calling like they were ACTUALLY in a strip club. I liked the movie because it was fun, even when it tried to be a untold tale of the unglamorousness world of male stripping (you know, the drug use, body issues, vanity, the corruption of fast money… the penis pumps). The movie follows two guys - “Magic” Mike (Tatum), a guy who has been in the game for six years but whose true passion is designing and making furniture (yes, really) and Adam “The Kid” who Mike gets introduces into the stripper world and mentors him to be a star performer. The fun moments come when we see snippets of the cast of characters that make up the elite dancers of the Tampa strip club. Through glimpses into wardrobe changes (uhh, strippers sow their own thongs?!?) and different costumes and characters (I will never look at a firemen or policeman the same way again), I laughed so hard I cried alittle. Not one of Tatum’s best turns as an actor though and the less romantic spin they introduced with Adam’s sister did nothing for me, but I enjoyed the movie nevertheless. The MVP award goes to Matthew McConaughey would was so great as the ex-dancer turned strip club owner Dallas. Dallas took himself so seriously it made for some great moments on screen. His outfit in the above picture says it all. I have seen many articles (though I haven’t read them) discussing how men would also enjoy this movie but I dare anyone to try to get their boyfriends into this one; I was alittle embarrassed for them. But in the best way possible. 

Don’t See: Savages (Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek) I don’t have a ton of experience with Olivier Stone movies and so not a big fan of his work (this may be strange but he doesn’t exactly dabble in my film genres of choice) so I may be in the minority here on my thoughts about this film as I was not too impressed. Savages is a film meant to shock, disgust, and dismay (as I have heard is little bit of Oliver Stone’s style). Based on the book by Don Winslow, the movie follows an independent mary jane business headed by best friends, the pacifist Ben (Aaron Johnson) and the militant Chon (Taylor Kitsch), which becomes in jeopardy when a big time Mexican cartel lead by the widow Elena (Salma Hayek) moves in and want to take over. Since Ben and Chon do not comply with their requests, the cartel’s enforcer (Benicio del Toro) kidnap the guys’ shared girlfriend “O” (short for Ophelia, played by Black Lively) and holds her hostage. With the help of the local DEA agent the guys have in their pockets (John Travolta), they scheme to get her back. Explosions, guns, and gangster bravado really does nothing for me as a movie watcher; What I was really intrigued me enough to see this movie was the three-way romantic relationship between the main characters - Ben, John, and Ophelia. I was more interested how these people fit into each others lives and complete each other in a way to make this relationship work. The film only hints at their dependency on each other; I wish it would have done more in order for me to care more about these characters and really invest in their plights. Disappointingly Blake Lively didn’t bring that same special something to her role as O as I was hoping for; she was more from Serena from “Gossip Girl” than Krista from The Town. The best part of the movie was Benicio del Toro who gave new meaning to the term sadist and always seems to deliver in my opinion. Oh, and I hear that somebody thought it was a good idea to change the movie ending. If anything, I wish I would have read the book and skipped the movie, which I sure was better written and more exploratory on the characters. Uma Thurman should be happy that she was edited out of this one. 

My Movie Influence: “21 Grams”

Thanks to Andina at Inspired Ground for having this feature and including me.  ”My Movie Influence” is all about discussing that one film that has had a dramatic impact on your life. I just had to get involved to talk about one that has influenced me.

If you have to pick one movie that changed your entire/one phase of your life, what would it be?
21 Grams (2003), starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio del Toro and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It’s by far one of my favorite movies in content and character development as it is so… striking. It’s a stunning portrait of the delicate nature humanity in the aftermath of death. With this film, we are confronted with three very different people in their circumstances but what we discover is that they become forever connected through particular circumstances. In one hand, it’s in a very tangible way as they are brought into each other’s lives by a freak car accident that interrupts their current existence. But in another way, their connection is very intangible. These are three people whose we see at their highest and lowest points in their lives, whether it is emotional (Watts), physical (Penn), or spiritual (del Toro). All three have what sustains them in their lives taken away or threatened and it’s in their simultaneous clinging to the past and trying to be okay again that produces such an intense experience. The movie does an exceptional job of presenting this and engaging the audience with its out-of-order sequences and dramatic resolution.

In what way does the movie changed you?
It’s a movie that expresses to me how much we are not alone in the world and how we are all moving with each other through life. I think for alot of us, we know this as it relates to our family and friends, those with who we know the depths of our connection. But what about those people who have never formally met? In a way, that also are very much present in our existence. They have just has much bearing on our lives, sometimes in dramatic fashion, sometimes not.

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Must Watch List (Summer)

I have to say I have only seen one maybe two movies in the theaters in the last two months or so, an absolute rarity for me. It have been pretty much due to the lack of new movies I have been interested in enough to see. Well that is all about to change next month with the slew of summer releases that are on the horizon and I couldn’t be happier. Actually, I’m ecstatic. Thanks to the good people over at EW who continue to publish awesome movie calendars so people like me can plan their theater outings. With almost 15 movies between May and August, this will be my busiest summer yet:

May 4

The Avengers: Yep, I’m planning to assemble with some friends and see this. I will just miss seeing it at Tribeca and will but in Europe on opening weekend but I’m rushing back to see this. If you are like me and missed some of the origin movies like Thor, AMC theaters are running a Marvel movie marathon on May 3rd!

June 1

Killer Joe: When a debt puts a young man (Emile Hirsch)’s life in danger, he decides to hire a contract killer, Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), to kill his evil mother in order to collect the insurance money. No trailer yet but this dark indie comedy premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival to good reviews, and I think it would be worth seeing.

June 8

Safety Not Guaranteed: This is my sweet and genuine comedy pick of the summer. The film is actually inspired by a real internet meme of a newspaper classified ad by a person seeking a companion for time travel (so how can this NOT be funny?). In this, three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed this classified ad. One of my favorite up-and-coming actors Mark Jake Johnson (New Girl) stars.

June 22

To Rome With Love: The next Woody Allen movie focusing on people’s experiences in Rome starring Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin.

June 27

Beasts of the Southern Wild: A magical story of a 6-year old girl who lives with her father in a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. When her father contracts a mysterious illness which threatens the balances of nature, Hushpuppy goes on a quest to find her mother. This was not a film on my radar at this year’s Sundance as I usually avoid anything remotely close to fantasy films but after it won the big prize there, I have to check it out.

Update (5/5): The trailer is here, and its beautiful fantasy film indeed:

June 29

People Like Us: A brother and sister meet for the first time in this upcoming Chris Pine/Elizabeth Banks movie.

Magic Mike: Male strippers without shirts but with plenty of dreams in Steven Soderbergh’s latest starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey

July 3

The Amazing Spiderman: I still think its too early for a spiderman reboot (or is this a prequel? really?) but I can’t fault them. They had my money at Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

July 6

Savages: I think Oliver Stone is on the right track with this new crime drama starring Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Benicio del Toro.

July 20

The Dark Knight Rises: I have to see the next and last entry in the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise. It doesn’t hurt that Inception castmates Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-stars. Am I the only one still not 100% sure of Anne Hathaway at Catwoman? Watch the official trailer or see a (much better, in my opinion) fan-made trailer. A new official trailer is suppose to premiere before The Avengers so keep an eye out for it!

August 3

The Bourne Legacy: In this 4th Bourne film, there is more to the Treadstone project: Jeremy Renner!

August 15

The Odd Life of Timothy Green: This is my family film pick of the summer. A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. This characteristics are personified with the appearance of Timothy Green, but all is not as it appears. I’m curious to see the gentler side of Joel Edgerton (have you seen some of his past films?).

August 24

Premium Rush: A NYC bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city. I actually don’t think this is going to be anything more than just a cool looking action movie on a bike but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it… so… you know… gonna go see it. I actually stumbled across the film set last year so curious to see what they do with it to give it some substance.

August 31

Lawless (formerly The Wettest County): Three brothers (two of which are played by Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy) find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. No trailer yet but I’m already pulled in by the cast which also includes Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain.

Update (4/24): The trailer has just been released and it looks pretty damn good. I barely recognized Guy Pearce. Anyone thinks like I do that Shia LaBoeuf was born to play an outlaw?

My Movie Year: 2005

Can I say that I continue to love all the little blogathons and memes that pop up by my fellow bloggers. I’m a couple of of days late on the newest one proposed by Fandango Groovers called “My Movie Year” but better late than never, right? This one involved picking your favorite year in film and select five of your favorite films from that year. My choice is the year 2005, which I think had a great mix of stylish indie and mainstream movies. This was also around the time I really started my love affair with movies and awakened what has proven to be one of the biggest passions in my life so this year will always have a huge place in my heart. My list below is comprised of a variety of genres, from romantic thrillers to social commentary to graphic novel adaptations. Hope you enjoy it: 

Match Point
Written and Directed by Woody Allen

I have to say I jumped on the Woody Allen bandwagon late, watching some of his most recent films before his earlier era, but ever since I have, I have enjoyed every minute of it. Match Point, which centered on a tennis pro turned teacher who has an affair with his soon-to-be brother-in-law’s girlfriend, was a great film to me. It’s intriguing and sexy (never thought I would think that of anything connected with Woody Allen) thanks in part to the very mysterious and intense Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as well as Scarlett Johansson who puts her sultriness to good use.  The story is constructed beautifully and is narrated/lead by a complex character who is in one respect driven, intelligent, and seemingly put together but in another respect calculating and plagued with a sense of entitlement that threatens to be his undoing. 

Based on the musical written by Jonathan Larson, directed by Chris Columbus

Yes, a musical is on my list! It’s not any musical though, it’s RENT! RENT, a Tony-award winning musical that sorta defined a generation with its look at the impact of HIV/AIDS and the bonds of friendship in a group of young New Yorkers in the late 80’s early 90’s (Broadway fans know what I mean). I will not argue with the fact that it wasn’t all that it could of been. In some ways, it does not hold a candle to the original stage production but in some respects it was even better than it for me in film form (i.e. the amazing use of colors and visuals, the choice of songs matched with narrative, some of the directing choices). I do love the way most of the original cast reprise their stage characters in this. I’m not ashamed to say that I still love the amazing soundtrack and can’t help singing out every time I watch it. 

Brokeback Mountain
Directed by Ang Lee 

Yes, this movie has been the butt of jokes throughout the years, being dubbed “the gay cowboy movie” but I have never heard it being said that it wasn’t an amazing movie. You can’t deny it that. It was a beautiful story set against a beautiful landscape with beautiful characterization of two very different lost souls who find each other but can never really have each other. It’s a movie riddled with social commentary but one I have never felt was preachy; it spent its energy more in appealing to the one’s emotions and humanity. Brokeback Mountain was the movie that confirmed the talents of Heath Ledger and really made me think of Jake Gyllenhaal as a leading man. I would also like to put out there that I feel Brokeback Mountain was robbed of the Best Film Oscar (though if it had to lose, Crash was a great one to lose to).

A History of Violence
Directed by David Cronenberg

Seriously, if you haven’t seen this you need to. I think A History of Violence for me stands as one of the best entries in independent cinema in the last decade. Viggo Mortensen is so good in this it’s otherworldly, playing a small town restaurant owner who kills two robbers in self-defense, becomes an overnight celebrity in his community, and then is visited by a mysterious man who accuses him of being a gangster who pulled jobs with him in the past. The story unfolds in a way that makes you question his character’s past, second guess the events its presents you with, and makes you think about the very nature of violence. 

Sin City
Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, directed by Robert Rodriguez

Have you ever compared the visuals of Sin City to the graphic novel source material? If you have, you would understand how brilliant this film is. Frame by frame, Robert Rodriguez took Frank Miller’s vision from the page to the screen. Sin City is dangerous. It’s modern film noir. It gets under your skin and makes you uneasy. It’s irresistibly compelling. It’s a star-studded piece of great filmmaking. 

100 Things (Independent) Movies Have Taught Me

And of course there is more from the list I have already started… 

21. You never know what twisted things are going on in someone’s head. [Being John Malkovich]
22. Sometimes you have to live alittle. And if a quick tempered Spanish woman says she thinks about killing you, beware. [Vicky Cristina Barcelona]
23. Never. underestimate. anyone. [The Usual Suspects

24. The quest for perfection can only lead to personal destruction. [Black Swan]
25. In every moment, there is a possibility that someone’s life will collide with yours. Plus, a dead body that drops seemingly out of nowhere onto your car has to have a rich backstory. [11:14
26. Some teenage boys have too much time of their hands its scary. [Funny Games]
27. Family drama is oddly similar in any language. [2 Days in Paris]

28. Limber up; you never know when the ability to run long distances will come in handy. [Run, Lola, Run]
29. Love that goes unfulfilled, no matter the couple, can be heartbreaking. [Brokeback Mountain]
30. Sometimes a kid is wiser than the teacher. [Half Nelson]

Until next time… 

Savages /First the first look photo, then the poster, and now the trailer for the coming crime drama from Oliver Stone. Now, I’m not one for movies with extreme violence but there is enough in this project to intrigue me - a dynamic female bad guy played by Salma Hayek, a shared girl friend played by Blake Lively (who impressed me in The Town), the enforcer played by Benicio del Toro (loved him ever since 21 Grams), and two men with a mission (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson).