Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bernie (2011)


“They're making it out worse than it really is. He only shot her four times, not five.”

            Whenever there is a story on the news about a murder we all want the murderer to be caught and brought to justice. Even on the millions of crime shows the basic cable channels churn out each year we want the bad guy to be caught otherwise we are not satisfied. With the movie Bernie you actually want the murderer to get away with his crime and you sympathize with him killing the person.
            Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is an undertaker. He moves to a small Texas town called Carthage. Everyone in the town immediately loves him. Bernie is nice, considerate, thoughtful, and caring to the families who have lost a loved one. He even goes a few extra miles such as checking up on the families after the funeral and offering his services to sing in church.
            One lady Bernie becomes close with is Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) after her husband passes away. Marjorie can be described as a control freak who took complete advantage of Bernie’s niceness and eagerness to please. She does not let Bernie have his own life his life has to revolve around hers.
            Sometime later Bernie just snaps. He cannot take Majorie anymore. In a haze he takes a small shot gun and shoots Marjorie in the back a number of times. Instead of calling the police he puts the body in the freezer in the garage. For months Bernie keeps up the appearance that Marjorie has suffered a stroke and is away at a rehabilitation place.
            The body comes to light only after Marjorie’s stockbroker becomes over concerned and calls her granddaughter and the town sheriff. The entire town cannot believe what Bernie has done. Everyone takes his side since they know that Marjorie was a pain and that Bernie was such a sweet guy and that she just completely took over his life. Since the entire town is on Bernie’s side the DA Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) has the trial moved to another town.
            Bernie is convicted for murder. Even after the conviction the town of Carthage is still behind Bernie. Some people even go and visit him in prison.
            Bernie was a good movie. I liked the way the story was told through interviews, I believe, from actual Carthage locals and then through filmed sequences with the actors. The only thing that brought this movie down only slightly was Shirley MacLaine. I cannot stand her at all. I kept an open mind thinking maybe since she is older maybe she is a little bit better than when she was younger. That line of thought went quickly out the window. Jack Black is not an actor I am particularly fond of but he was really good Bernie Tiede was a different role than I am used to seeing from him. Very laid back from his usual characters.  Bernie is a dark comedy that just so happens to be true which makes the story kind of unbelievable. That right there is reason enough to see it. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Defendor (2009)


“Who writes your dialogue? Superman?”
“No. I write it myself.”
“You know what? You need a good ghost writer. Somebody with talent.”
No. You need a ghost writer. 'Cause that's what you're going to be after I pulverize you.”

            There is not one person in this world who would not love to be a super hero. I am making this assumption because I am sure it is true and what kid or, hell, even an adult for that matter, does not want to be a super hero. I would love to kick ass like Wonder Woman or Black Widow. I also would love to fly like Superman and have his awesome strength. Then there is Kick Ass where the characters actually do become superheroes but they do not really have superpowers they are just kids with a lot of cool gadgets. There is one superhero movie I am sure (there I go again making assumptions but trust me I am most likely correct on this point) not many people have ever heard of called Defendor. This is a normal guy whose only “superpower” is a load of courage.
            Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) has severe psychological issues. He dresses up as a superhero of his own creation called Defendor. He does not fear what might happen to him he just wanders the streets at night looking for someone he calls Captain Industry. One night Defendor comes across a man and a young woman in a car. It appears to Defendor that the girl is in trouble. He fights the guy and somehow manages to chase him away with nothing more than a jar of wasps. The guy happens to be a cop named Chuck Dooney who is extremely corrupt. The young woman is named Kat (Kat Dennings) who is a hooker and a drug addict.
            Arthur was beat up pretty bad and his friend notices the next day at work and takes him to a hospital. Arthur has quite a few deep cuts, a missing tooth, and bruised ribs.
            Kat manages to find where Arthur lives and makes herself comfortable. She uses Arthur’s naivety to get money out of him by saying she knows where to find his Captain Industry. Kat gives him the name of her former drug dealer and pimp. She tells him where he can possibly locate the drug dealer in a secret location in the mountains. Arthur finds the place and goes up there a few times and video records certain events but nothing incriminating.
            While out on the streets again Defendor comes face to face with Dooney and other bad guys. Dooney is running with the drug dealer  and his crew for money and drugs. He and some men chase Defendor down an alley. One of the guys shoots Defendor. Luckily Defendor was only shot with a pellet gun that only bruised his ribs. He winds up in the hospital again. Defendor seems to be unconscious. Kat comes to visit him to tell him she will leave him alone now and also something about how her dad sexually abused her when she was little. When Kat leaves Defendor wakes up. The next thing he is at the mall where Kat’s father has a store and throws him all over the place.
            This action almost puts Arthur in jail and lands him in a psychiatrist’s office. He is not sent to prison but is placed in the custody of his friend from work. He is ordered not to dress up as Defendor. But of course Defendor is who Arthur is and he has a mission to take down his Captain Industry.

            I liked Defendor because it was different. Only the bad guy, Dooney, really treated Arthur like crap everyone else was sympathetic towards him. They knew he could not help doing what he was doing. In the end Defednor is the city hero everyone loves him because he did something while the cops stood by. Woody Harrelson was very good as Defendor. You really believed him as the character. Kat Dennings kind of plays the same sleazy characters over and over but I have to say I like the girl I like her take-no-shit attitude she always has. It almost seems like she does not take her roles seriously yet she is awesome. I watched the movie basically because I found out Tatiana Maslany was in it. The girl is literally in the movie for a minute and that is it. Oh the movies I watch just for actors I like! I always love getting into actors and actresses and finding their filmography because you never know if you will wind up liking them. I am glad I found out about Defendor because it was an interesting story and it was different. It was cool to see a person actually being a superhero, even if he was mentally unstable. If you can find to watch Defendor definitely give it a try.
 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Muriel's Wedding (1994)


“When I lived in Porpoise Spit, I used to sit in my room for hours and listen to ABBA songs. But since I’ve met you and moved to Sydney, I haven’t listened to one Abba song. That’s because my life is as good as an Abba song. It’s as good as Dancing Queen.”

            When people say they do not like ABBA I usually understand two things: the band is cheesy and their songs are dated. But on the inside I die a little because ABBA is a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. Their most well known songs, like “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia”, and “Waterloo”, are usually bouncy and upbeat and just a lot of fun. I have listened to ABBA a ton I know their songs inside and out. They really do not get the credit they deserve as musicians and vocalists. Do me and yourself a favor listen to “Knowing Me Knowing”, “One of Us”, and “The Winner Takes It All”, listen to how heartbreaking the lyrics, the vocals, and the music are. ABBA is definitely a lot more than “Dancing Queen.”
            Years ago when I saw Mamma Mia! on Broadway I had heard that it was based off a movie called Muriel’s Wedding. Well, the years went by and life got in the way of me actually looking for Muriel’s Wedding to watch. Thanks to the glory that is Netflix I have finally gotten to watch the movie.
            Muriel Heslop (Toni Collette) lives in the town of Porpoise Spit, Australia. She failed school and has nothing going for her in her life. Her father constantly puts her and her siblings down for being lazy and no good. Muriel’s mother is constantly day dreaming. Muriel daydreams as well. She listens to ABBA alone in her room all day wishing her life could be like their cherry songs and dreams of getting married.
            At a wedding Muriel catches the flowers. The girls whom she thought were her friends are yuppy bitches and are furious with her for catching the bouquet because she does not even have a boyfriend. A few minutes later Muriel is arrested for having shoplifted the dress she is wearing. She tells the cops her mother bought the dress for her but does not say that when she arrives home. Her father is town councilman and talks the cops out of pressing charges against Muriel.
            Muriel is eventually dumped by her fake yuppy friends. They do not want her coming with them on vacation because she will cramp their style. Her father gets her a job selling cosmetics and her mother gives her a blank check to go out shopping for new clothes. Instead of buying clothes Muriel uses it to go on vacation to the island the other girls are going to. Of course the girls are furious when they see her and one of them even throws a drink in her face. Fortunately, things do get better for Muriel on the trip. She meets a girl named Rhonda who actually went to her high school. Rhonda defends Muriel against the mean girls and even outs one of their husbands who slept with one of the girls. One night Muriel and Rhonda dress up like the two women from ABBA and reenact the music video to “Waterloo.”
            When Muriel comes home, her father is furious and almost has her arrested. She decides to leave and go live in Sydney with Rhonda. For a while life is what she has dreamed. She is away from her family and answers an ad in the paper to marry someone so the person can become a citizen. But of course, there are lessons to be learned and not everything goes the way Muriel would have liked.

            Muriel’s Wedding was good but it was not what I had been expecting. I think I had been expecting something light and the story actually turned out to be a bit heavy.  I felt terrible for Muriel living in a family where there was zero encouragement and no one tried to do anything with themselves. All Muriel wanted was to be on her own and get married. She definitely needed to get away from her toxic family. I was not crazy about how she desperately wanted to get married. I guess I did not like it because I am not like that at all. I have more concrete things to worry about in my life then what my place settings will be or the kind of dress I want. That stuff bores me to tears actually. Anyway, Muriel’s Wedding was good but it is not a movie that needs to be seen. Watch the movie if you like 90s chick flick movies. Oh, and also if you love ABBA songs. ABBA songs can make anyone's day brighter.