5. Magic Mike (2012)
“Magic Mike” was a film I was never intending to see, considering I was a straight guy in his late teens you can imagine this wasn’t something I was interested in seeing. But my curiosity in the film came in when I saw the director was Steven Soderbergh, that’s when I had an assumption that this wasn’t going to be the beefcake show I thought it was going to be. And I was right, truthfully if you watch the film the bulk of it mostly comes across as fairly boring.
Interestingly enough a lot of the negative reviews of the film came from women and a lot of the positive ones came from men, go figure. But I think I see why, as a man wouldn’t you love to be in the position of what these guys can do? Where you can be everything women want and need, both physically and emotionally. These men delve into this lifestyle for the same reason women go into it, desperation.
You’re broke, distant from your family, no education, and have nothing to offer to society – at this point you have your body and if it’s in good condition then why not use it for something? Soderbergh directs incredibly maturely, weaving us through the why’s of these men and how they get into the stripping business.
The economy has bankrupted many in our country, more especially after the market crash in 2008, and it’s had an effect on love and relationships as many have subsequently left each other because of financial strains. Not bad for a movie about male strippers.
4. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
Okay I’ll be the first to admit, this is a weird movie. A collaboration between director Werner Herzog and actor Nicolas Cage is a match made in heaven because Herzog’s strange world views combined with Cage’s ferocity makes a tripped out experience that never ceases to amaze when watching. We’ve seen many corrupt cops before, Cage’s Terence McDonough is near the top of that list of bad ones.
A drugged out, gambling, abusive man filled with explosive anger and lashes out at anyone to get his way. This is the kind of role Cage is born to play, he’s bold, fearless and isn’t afraid to go all out even if some accuse him of going over the top. The city they’re in has been abandoned by many of its citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and McDonough not only serves as the law, he is the law.
Despite its title it’s not a sequel nor is a remake of the 1992 “Bad Lieutenant” film by Abel Ferrera, its only justification for its title that it deals with the same character type with the same flaws. Filled with odd ball directional choices that focus on the weird details, this feels like a drug trip through the underbelly of the crime world.
3. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
It would’ve been very easy to follow the same formula of not only the Spider-Man universe but also the superhero universe but that’s not what this film does. It builds upon the turmoil raised in its previous installments and adds several new revelations on top of it. In this film Spider-Man/Peter Parker is confronted with his new enemy The Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church).
Through this confrontation Peter is faced with his biggest obstacle, himself. You can throw super villains on screen all you want but if the conflict and resolution is the same then the revelation of what is learned isn’t much. But the true mark of heroism is when you can rise above your own personal demons and become a better man.
Peter’s battle is an internal one after having learned of the Sandman’s responsibility for the death of his Uncle Ben, peter now finds himself consumed with vengeance and hatred. Two of the very things that poison human nature and turn us into the very things we swear to never become. Peter is showing himself as a very flawed character, he’s becoming so arrogant he never doubts for a moment the relationship he has with Mary Jane who’s becoming distant from him. Their relationship had a very tongue and cheek children’s vibe to it before but now their problems are truly coming into fruition.
Mary is struggling in her career and needs Peter to be there for her the way she’s been there for him, but he’s Spider-Man and he can’t always be there. Harry Osborne follows in his father’s footsteps, now becoming the new Goblin and seeking his vengeance on Peter.
The story lines I’m explaining may sound like a lot, and it is, but the film never feels like a jumbled mess. Each story is given its time to shine and every character goes through their arc throughout the course of the film to go through a significant change. It culminates in a story of forgiveness in which everyone needs to learn the facts and forgive one another and that is a strong feeling I can’t let go of no matter how many ridiculous dancing scenes there may be.
2. Bully (2001)
Far too often we watch movies and relish in the romanticized violence depicted in it. While some movies may seem brutal or grotesque there’s almost always that element of entertainment to it because, after all, we’re watching a movie right? But then you get films like “Bully” which show violence for exactly what it is, not entertainment, not cathartic, nothing enjoyable, it’s brutal and as ugly as it’s supposed to be.
Based on true events surrounding the murder of Bobby Kent back in 1993, the film follows a multitude of young adults as they can’t take any more of the aggressive behavior of one of their friends leading to the conclusion that they have to kill him. These kids are stupid by choice, they dropped out of high school, do drugs all day, and have absolutely no desire to better themselves.
And the parents are there but are never in the same world as their kids, and most times they don’t even seem to understand them. They’ve been abused by Bobby for a long time, in Marty’s (Brad Renfro) case he’s been putting up with it his entire life, Bobby is a kid who seems to be evil to the core.
We never get a sense of what caused this but you can imagine it may be the supervision of his authoritative father who commands a similar power over other by putting on the facade of wanting what best for them.
The director Larry Clark has a tough job to do here, he has to show a youth culture that can be driven to do such horrible things when in the company of others, kids who otherwise wouldn’t do anything of the sort if they were on their own.
It’s an indictment on the society who does nothing for these kids, as well as an indictment of the kids who don’t do anything for the better and talk themselves into doing the unthinkable. Bobby Kent was not an innocent kid (in fact he’s one of the most disgusting characters I’ve ever seen) but his murder wasn’t a cathartic one, in the end Bobby and his friends were perfect for each other.
1. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
In recent years I don’t think I’ve seen a film that received such an appalling backlash as this. Just mentioning “The Last Jedi” to certain people can send them into a tirade regarding Star Wars mythology, feminism, race, and SJW’s. But this is my article and in my estimations “The Last Jedi” is the finest Star Wars film made since “Return of the Jedi”. Let’s face it, Star Wars has been a largely repetitive franchise for a long time.
After “The Force Awakens” we were brought back to what we loved in the first place, but it was time for something different that would flip the whole freaking universe upside down and rewrite everything. “The Last Jedi” breaks down preconceived notions of Star Wars mythology and drastically alters the long held beliefs of the franchise.
Much like how the original “Star Wars” based itself upon “The Hidden Fortress”, “The Last Jedi” barrows upon Kurosawa folklore by mimicking “Rashomon”. Telling a singular story that unfolds in multiple perspectives, each one having merit but contrasting each other in terms of events. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) are becoming the avatars of change, representing the yin and yang.
Where Kylo wants to destroy the past and burn everything down to raise a new future from the ashes. Rey wants to build off of the failures of the past and turn tragedy into triumph. Their connection is what makes the film, expanding upon the concepts of the force and developing new powers never before seen to the point you have to wonder why we’ve never seen them in a Star wars movie before.
And yes the film gets lost in its sub plots with a casino on this planet and a bizarre set up with a ship slowly running out of fuel. It provides good character arcs but also creates giant holes in logic and convenience, admittedly not the strongest aspect of the film. But anyone who picks apart the problems they hate without giving a proper evaluation and not even attempt to understand why things are done the way they are will never be worthwhile opinions I want to listen to.
There’s a moment where Luke says “this is not going to go the way you think.” Let that be a lesson to fans who apply god hood like status to their fictional characters and deified icons. “The Last Jedi” does away with tradition and breaks through with a challenging thrill ride that’s visually stunning and provocative all at once.