Prisoners (2013) Miller Meter-10/10

Directed By:  Denis Villeneuve

Written By:  Aaron Guzikowski

Starring:  Hugh Jackman,  Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello

R     2 h 33 min – Crime | Drama | Thriller

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Pain and Gain (2013) Miller Meter—4/10

Directed By:  Michael Bay

Written By:  Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Starring:  Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub

R     2 h 9 min – Action | Comedy | Crime

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Kick-Ass 2 (2013)  Miller Meter—8/10  

Directed By:  Jeff Wadlow

Written By:  Jeff Wadlow (Mark Millar & John Romita Jr. -comic book)

Starring:  Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey,

R     1 h 43 min – Action | Comedy | Crime

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Nightcrawler (2014) Miller Meter-6.5/10

Directed By:  Dan Gilroy

Written By:  Dan Gilroy

Starring:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed

R     1 h 57 min – Crime | Drama | Thriller


A lonely and annoyingly eager to please Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) who’s desperate for a steady job finally finds some solace tumbling down the rabbit hole of L.A. powered crime journalism.  The film opens with Lou scrapping some pieces of fence for cash.  He bombards the scrapyard manager trying to land a job and proves to us that we’re in for a long awkward ride.  He’s of course turned down due to his wacky enthusiasm which he thinks is a plus point.  On his way home he drives past the scene of a car accident.  While watching creepily from the distance he sees a rugged camera crew roll up ready to film the carnage.  As the crew is leaving he finds out what they were doing, and that it paid, which was enough for him.  He went at the crew headstrong and the boss Joe (Paxton) brushed him off like the pest he was being.  Lou then steals and pawns his way into a camcorder of his own and BAM!  He’s in business!  He starts off pretty rough, as you could imagine, but quickly forms a business relationship with Nina (Russo) who’s a washed up TV news producer who’s just as desperate as he is to make advances in the field.  Right off the bat Lou’s dedication and willingness to put himself where few people with any shred of social know-how would, he starts getting some of the best footage of all the crews running.  As his fix becomes harder and harder to satisfy, you see his rope of personal ethics start to unravel.  He eventually takes on an apprentice named Nick (Ahmed) who’s pretty useless and equally desperate for work as Lou once was.  Lou takes him on and starts teaching him the ropes and along the way throws the quirkiest management coaching at him I’ve ever seen.  At any error or flub Lou would regurgitate some Tony Robins life skills shit all over him.  Sadly, Nick didn’t catch on to the fact that Lou was just a spun out creeper until it was too late.  Jake Gyllenhaal does a great job (as he typically does) of playing an awkwardly creepy yet somehow loveable maniac.  As his relationship with Nina matures from a business relationship to a romantic one you really see just how creepy he can be.  Several critics compared this performance to that of “Prisoners” yet I disagree.  He was creepy in Nightcrawler, but he could have pushed it more.  There were several times where it would build up to something totally abberated and twisted and what I got was disappointing.  That didn’t go for the plot generally, just a few scenes specifically.  When the movie finally started building towards the very end, I was totally satisfied at crescendo.  One big bummer about this flick was that it was a Halloween release and NOTHING about it was scary.  I understand that it’s JUST a thriller with a previously unexplored plot line and all but I felt it was advertised as more than that, especially with a Halloween release.  Creepy? Yes. Intense? At times, sure.  Scary? Nope.  There were several scenes that were more intense than others, and most of them were done very well.  The first hour of the movie was pretty slow going, which was fine as we were establishing a pretty slow going kind of character.  I did, however, start to lose hope that it would pick up.  It turned it around though towards the end.  I really enjoyed the story as I haven’t really seen one like it before, especially with the gritty take this one had.  It was pushing for a noir kind of flavor, and at times achieved it masterfully.  Overall, it was a good flick, with one hell of an ending, which to me can absolutely make or break a movie.  Keep yourself patient for the first 45 minutes or so and it will pay off at the end.

Dead Man Down (2013) Miller Meter–6.5

Directed By: Niels Arden Oplev Written By:  J.H. Wyman Starring:  Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrance Howard   I saw the trailer for thought holy hell, what is this all about? Then I saw that it was directed by … Continue reading