Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Movies 2013, Crime, pt4

Pain and Gain, or "Did Michael Bay just do something kind of awesome?"
Overall: 7/10
This was the first poster and nobody knew what the hell this movie was going to be about.
Fitness?  Body Building competitions?  You don't look at this and think Dark Comedy Crime Drama.
            I think Michael Bay has been unfairly demonized by an ungrateful movie audience.  He has a distinct visual style, knows what to imitate from other directors, and tends to have really strong casts for the movies he is making.  I find people bitching about "Transformers" to mostly be simpletons.  "Transformers" was always garbage, and I say that as a huge fan on the original series, and I would go so far as to say "Beast Wars" is one of my favorite cartoons ever in spite of the aged computer animation from the 90's.  Michael Bay took a toy commercial, and made a schlocky, immature, alien invasion disaster movie and it became one of the most commercially successful franchises of all time.  That being said the man has the sense of humor of a 6 year old who just discovered adults laugh when he says the word, "Poop."  He is not really an artist, he makes movies that are 'effective,' easy to market, easy to consume, he is the $200 Million McDonald's trip for 100 Million people.  Very tasty garbage.
            "Pain and Gain" is exactly the kind of movie Bay should be making, it is about psychopathic emotionally retarded meat heads committing violent crimes.  It in no way glorifies what they are doing, but you definitely understand their motivations.  It moves at a good clip.  It is funny.  It has a lot of color and action that keeps each scene visually interesting.  In different hands this movie could have been totally different, I can easily imagine the Coen Bros doing this sort of thing in the style of "Fargo" or "Burn After Reading".  It also has stuff taken right from the "Inglourious Basterds" style guide, as quick asides through the story inform you of what is happening and why, or text appears on the screen to clarify something.  The best moment of the film happens when the most outrageous aspects of this whole criminal enterprise have hit new levels and text pops up reminding the audience, "This actually happened".
            Dwayne Johnson is a head case that is slow to violence and needs to be pushed the whole way, which considering he looks like a gorilla covered in tattoos adds a level to his character.  Marky Mark is surprisingly good in this, far better than his turn in "2 Guns" using his charisma to nefarious (or as nefarious as a thug can be) ends, rather than being the character getting taken for a ride for nearly the whole movie.  Not as many tits as I would have expected.  Especially compared to "The Wolf of Wall Street", but I am guessing that Scorsese has a lot more clout to get such things put on screen without an NC-17 rating getting slapped on, Bay would probably get burned at the stake by the MPAA.
            This movie is definitely worth seeing.  It is retarded fun.

The Wolf of Wall Street, or "I think they went a little far in some places."
Overall: 8/10
Lot of microphone felatio in this movie too.
            This movie and "Pain and Gain" have a lot in common.  Based on actual events, happens in roughly the same era (the early 90's), and the protagonists are drug addled psychos.  The difference here being these monsters are not low class violent thugs taking what they want through force, instead they are slick conmen getting rich to the point of godhood via exploiting the painfully broken game that is the American financial sector.
            Let me be clear, if I were a murderer, these are the people I would kill.  I had, unironically, a serious conversation 4 months ago about how capitalism is great at producing TV, media, and lots and lots of cultural flotsam, but is plagued by middlemen and money managers that do not in anyway produce, build, or create anything but have huge sums of money from moving columns of hypothetical numbers.  This movie starts with the flipside of that conversation, with the mentor of evil telling the main character that stock brokers get rich and contribute nothing.  The movie explicitly tells you these people are evil.
            Leonardo DiCaprio continues to be my favorite actor, able to yell, laugh, narrate, and be on drugs convincingly.  And Jonah Hill, while getting way too much time to adlib, is really good in his role.  The supporting cast all gets good scenes, and there are too many very quotable lines to mention, though my favorite is, "I AM NOT GOING TO DIE SOBER!"
            Actually this movie could have been a 10/10 but there are a lot of scenes that had me going, "cut... cut... CUT".  There are scenes with powerful speeches that go on past the point of them being powerful.  Scenes of slapstick that are hilarious, but could have been cut in half.  There is one Jonah Hill scene in particular that I could tell was a metric shit ton of improv and needed to be cut down, it went on and on with increasingly annoying bullshit... Like an Aristocrats joke.  The movie is really long and scenes that are too long make you feel the length of the movie.  Should also make note of the truly herculean amounts of nudity in this film, full frontal of multiple women, the most notable of which is Margot Robbie... Maybe the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in a movie (she is also 5 years younger than me, so I feel incredibly old).

            Also totally worth seeing.  Might have worked better if I had watched it in two parts, or if it had been an HBO series, like an amped up "Mad Men".

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