Film Review : Chef (2014)

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IMDB Score – 7.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 87%

Directed By – Jon Favreau
Starring – Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Roberrt Downey Jr, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Russell Peters, and Emjay Anthony

A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

It has been a fucking long time since I was last in a theater; a month I believe. That’s not good when you’re supposed to be a film blogger but what am I going to say? I’ve been busy with my real person job and I honestly just haven’t been pulled out to the theater in the last month by anything. Like always, I’m waiting to see the bigger films like Godzilla/X-Men until the crowds die down because I get anxiety from assholes talking during the movie I paid for. This doesn’t necessary mean I wait for everything as I’m going out tomorrow to see “The Double” and I’m also writing this review right now on Jon Favreau’s latest film, “Chef”.

First let me say that I was in the theater with mostly old people who proceeded to talk during the whole movie. The thing is, it was okay! I actually didn’t mind because of how the film was and I’ll get into that in a minute. I’ll also say that old men don’t give a shit who they sit next to. I was sitting three seats from the left in a row and to my right were four open seats. Older couple walks in, sits down, to my left. They didn’t give a shit if they could of had empty seats next to me. They wanted to sit near the isle and I was going to have to sit next to the old man. I didn’t mind one bit. Who the hell cares? First off, I was there first and I’ll be damned if I’m going to move my seat just because somebody else sat next to me for no reason but why would I have to? The guy wasn’t wheezing like the penguin from “Toy Story”. He didn’t smell like death and I felt no fear that he was going to hold me hostage before Mr. Death came by and took him away. I don’t understand the heebie jeebies with sitting next to people in a theater unless they’re Paul Reubens. They’re just people.

I digress.

Chef! I had the choice to either see Chef or the Spiderman sequel and you know what? FUCK SPIDERMAN! I’ll take an original film over that cash cow any day. I believe I was first introduced to Mr. Favreau while watching the film “Swingers”, which while not being directed by him, both starred and was written by the man. Jon has gotten a little bigger in the wallet and waistline since then but he’s a talented writer/directer and this seemed like a return to form for him. It was. I ended up really enjoying the film.

The film centers around Carl, played by Favreau himself, who gets fired from his job running a restaurant for telling a food critic to shove it. He then grabs his partner and ten year old son and embarks on a journey to create the ultimate food truck.

I should not have gone into this hungry. This is what most of the people in the theater were talking about, the food. The food was gorgeous and goddamn mouth watering. It was like watching an episode of “Chopped” instead all the food looked somewhat normal and tasty. There’s a Cuban place near me that does authentic Cuban food while blasting Cubano music from 100 speakers. I’ll be visiting them soon because I have a hankering for a Cuban sandwich now. I wanted to tell everybody to shut up but I would have been kicked out by an angry mob of starving lunatics. It was acceptable and I went along with it. The music in the film is also fantastic. They used a very horn heavy selection of songs mixed in with a little up tempo blues. One of my favorite blues musicians, Gary Clark Jr, actually makes a cameo. Speaking of cameos with a guy who has a Jr. at the end of his name, if you’re going to see this film because of RDJ, don’t. He’s in it for five minutes. He isn’t funny. I suppose he’s just doing his old buddy Jon a favor cause the film was fine without him. Same goes for Scarlett Johansson. She was in the film to add weight to the main characters downfall and once she did she was gone. The stars who line the top of the billing were merely expensive decorations. The real meat and guts lie with Favreau and his on screen son played by Emjay Anthony, who was delightful. It’s their story and somehow it came to a heartwarming end when I thought it was going to be cheesier than the guys fantastic looking grilled cheese.

The film did have some pacing problems though. There was a scene with Russell Peters, who played a cop, that was just very strange and distracting from the film. It should have been left on the floor like most of the final third of the film. The two hour run length really should have been cut down to about an hour and a half but it’s a small complaint on an overall good film that does nothing besides make you hungry and make you feel good. It’s a refreshing film in the midst of all the superheros and monsters that are going to be filling our screens in the next couple of months. It’s also a great return of a promising and humble filmmaker.

I’m going to go make a sandwich now.


Suggested Viewing : Big Night, The Station Agent, Anthony Bourdain shows, Ratatouille

Film Review : Return of the Dragon (1972)

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IMDB Score – 7.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 100%
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Bruce Lee
Starring – Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao, Ping Ou Wei, Chung-Hsin Huang, Tony Liu, and Jon T. Benn

A man visits his relatives at their restaurant in Italy and has to help them defend against brutal gangsters harassing them.

Okay, I’m going to have to admit something here. This is the first time, in my life, that I watched a Bruce Lee film from start to finish. You can now take the time to yell at me through your screen because I most certainly deserve it. The thing is, I haven’t really been into film my entire life. I first started getting into movies in high school and by then the television was so flooded by MTV crap that reruns of old Kung Fu movies just wasn’t readily available. I’ve known about the story behind the man and the events surrounding his death, as well as his sons death, but just haven’t been able to sit in front of the tube and watch his films. Hopefully now that most of them are available on Netflix, I’ll be able to view most of them. However, I must say, this movie was really bad.

Hear me out.

Did I enjoy the film? Hell yeah. Was it horribly dubbed, acted, written, and shot? Hell fucking yes it was. Oh my god was it bad. I didn’t expect Scorcese but my god it was like ever single film that ever parodied any Kung Fu movie. I guess that’s why the parodies exist. I just didn’t expect them to be so spot on. The dub over was so comically bad that I had trouble holding in my laughter throughout the course of the film. Have you ever seen “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist”? That’s one of my childhood movies that I know every line to. I remember thinking that they must have found the worst Kung Fu movie to parody cause there is no way films like that actually existed but I think this may be worse. Every line from any character was dubbed over like they were trying to make it sound horrible


Seriously. It was like a bad bad movie mixed with amazing Kung Fu from the legend himself. I wish I had gotten drunk while watching it because it would have made it that much better. By the way, watching a whole film amazed me more than watching a few youtube clips of Bruce Lee. The man was just a lightning bolt and seemed to have super human physical ability. The nun chuck scene and the final fight with actual Chuck, Chuck Norris, were both amazing and it was great to see them in the actual film rather than on the internet. I could have watched those two fight all day and the way Bruce Lee kicked the living shit out of the most inept henchmen every assembled left me in stitches. It was a blast.

This is going to be hard to rate because the movie from a film nerds point of view was a piece of shit, but from an entertainments point of view was amazing. Just watch it if you haven’t already because it’s a lot of fun.

1/5 Film rating
5/5 Fun rating

Film Review : Backdraft (1991)

IMDB Score – 6.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 73%
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Ron Howard
Starring – Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert Deniro, Scott Glenn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, JT Walsh, and Rebecca De Mornay

Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along have to work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.

Before I talk about this movie, let me preface this by saying that I grew up in a fire house. My father and brother are firefighters and ever since I was born I have been around the men and women who dedicate their lives to this profession. I just wanted to state that to give my comments context.

This movie kind of sucked. However, this was not due to anything fire related.

First the good. There aren’t many firefighter films but this may be the most accurate in depicting what the job is like. Sure every example on screen is an extreme one, but those events do happen and I’ve seen it myself. The gigantic buildings covered in flames were a real representation of what it’s like when a fire starts eating everything in its path. Why am I explaining fire to you? Have you seen “Ladder 41”? Holy shit, it was like they wanted to make ever single fire look as crazy as humanly possible. Now, did Backdraft do this? To some degree yes it did, but the scenes of the aftermath including the charred remains and the effect fire has on the surrounding buildings…that shit was real. I was impressed with the way Ron Howard did his homework. They also captured the lingo, attitudes, looks, and environment that surrounds living/working in a fire department. None of the characters were really likable and that describes what a family is. A bunch of people who hate each other but will die for one another within a moments notice.

The actual story behind the film, give me a break. I understand this was the 90s, and a little cheese was needed but my god did the script suck. It was cliche after cliche after cliche. There was no originality in the story whatsoever and there were more plot holes than I could count. The last half hour of the film, while stunning in how it was shot, was completely stupid and rushed. The person we have been chasing the entire film for starting these fires had no real reason to do so and didn’t have an actual chance to explain until he was gone. We were told who did it, let it sink in for 27 seconds, and then BOOM, action set piece to end the film that was only used in the film for emotional impact, and there was none, cause none of the characters were likable in any way. I didn’t care. It was a horrible script.

Where did that Baldwin go by the way? Alec is off getting arrested for boozing while still turning in good work on TV. Stephen’s best work was in “The Usual Suspects” but that is compared to his work in “Biodome”. Daniel is a boozer without turning in good work on anything. What happened to William? It’s just kind of weird. Also, Robert Deniro, as high profile an actor as he is, did not get enough screen time. It’s a crime to use him as much as they did. As for Russell, I only like him when Aliens or eye patches are involved.

Don’t watch the film if you’re looking for a gripping thriller. Watch the film if you want to know how fire fighters live their lives when the shit hits the fan. Ron Howard certainly has better films, but as far as pure action goes, this may be his best pure action film. That isn’t saying much though.


Film Review : Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

IMDB Score – 5.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 56%

Directed By – Randy Moore
Starring – Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Jack Dalton, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady, and Alison Lees-Taylor

In a world of fake castles and anthropomorphic rodents, an epic battle begins when an unemployed father’s sanity is challenged by a chance encounter with two underage girls on holiday.

Oh man. I didn’t see this coming whatsoever. I remember I posted the trailer for this last year and was excited as all hell to see it. Like what usually happens with me, I couldn’t make it out to the cinema to see it. I would have had to make the trip into NYC, but contemplated it a couple times before ultimately deciding I’d wait to see it on DVD. I’m so glad I did. I hated this movie.

Here’s the gimmick, and it is really only a gimmick. Director Randy Moore and his crew filmed most of this film in Disney World and Disneyland without the permission from either parks. I was the first to admit that is pretty awesome. That excitement faded five minutes into the film. I never really got the feeling that what I was watching was actually shot guerrilla style. It may have been, but the result was less than spectacular. I’ve never been to either parks as my parents decided they didn’t like wonder and fantasy so maybe the film would have affected me more if I had actually recognized the areas that they were filming in. It wasn’t the case. The gimmick that is the only thing holding this film up for me fell flat on its face. If the fact that this was filmed without Disney’s permission didn’t exist, nobody would have seen this movie, because nobody would have distributed it. It is a perfect example of a film school project that got wide audience due to unique circumstances.

Let’s try to break down this plot that doesn’t actually exist in the film. A family of four, highlighted by two of the most annoying parents you’ll ever see, spend a couple days at Disney World. The father gets a phone call saying he’s been fired from his job and then tries to have some fun at the park before he probably kills himself. During the fun time he is having, he is badgered by his horrid wife, hallucinates in “It’s a Small World”, and chases two 14 year old french girls like he’s trying to rape them eventually. None of that is a joke. That is the bulk of the film. There was no character development unless we were supposed to develop anger towards the actors playing these horrible people. There was no identifiable plot and if there was one I missed it because the film was all over the place. I appreciated that they decided to film the movie in black and white but I felt like I was watching the midterm film of student throughout most of the film. It was badly filmed, badly acted, and badly written. It was bad.

Is it a one of a kind film? Yes, it is. They really did film this at Disney without their permission. They really did have a hard time getting their shots due to the fact that they weren’t supposed to be doing what they were doing. All of that showed though. It was a rushed piece of garbage held up by one unique gimmick. Hopefully they made some money with this film for the work they put into it but the finished product was just crap. This film comes out on Netflix at the end of the month so you’ll have a chance to see for yourself but don’t expect anything other than a B-Film without any heart or creativity.


Suggested Viewing – I really don’t have any for this one…

^That is a child Jim. A CHILD!

Film Review : A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

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IMDB Score – 6.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 77%
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Julian Gilbey
Starring – Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Alec Newman, Karel Roden, Kate Magowan, Garry Sweeney, Sean Harris, Stephen McCole, and Holly Boyd

A group of mountaineers in the Scottish Highlands discover a kidnapped girl and are pursued by her captors.

Being an adult is hard. I’ve been so busy lately that I’m starting to unintentionally neglect my hobbies which includes things like reading, writing, film, and music. Luckily for me, The week is going to be rainy and my workload had been light. I started off my lazy hobby life again by getting back to the service that I shell out twelve dollars a month for, Netflix. I’m somewhat of a movie hoarder. I always have the maximum amount of films on my Netflix queue and while it helps me keep unknown films in mind, it also gives me the horrible dilemma of choosing what to watch. I ultimately went for a shorter film towards the front of my queue and we landed on this, a thriller about mountain climbing and the perils of such an activity that includes murder and kidnapping. I never knew these fun activities were associated with each other but now I do. Thanks movies, now I’ll never go to Scotland.

The movie starts out pretty tame but soon accelerates into full on thrill ride. I’ve always enjoyed films that depict crazy events happening out in the middle of nowhere. This is where you get to see some creative story telling because James Bond can’t just pull a pen out of his ass and have it turn into a helicopter. This group of mountain climbers, led by Aussie actress Melissa George, stumble upon a girl who has obviously been kidnapped due to the fact that she was found in a hole with nothing but a breathing tube. The climbers are then tasked with outrunning the kidnappers while carrying along this little girl who while I understand is pretty exhausted, couldn’t be more of a pain in the ass.

I ended up liking the film. The middle act ended up being a pretty balls to the wall thriller that rarely let up. I’ve always been into those kind of films. The fact that it took place in the beautiful Scottish highlands also was an added plus because goddamn is it gorgeous out there. The cast did their jobs well and while the film certainly fell apart near the end I can’t really complain too much given the nature of the story. It could have been worse, but the end just seemed cliche and countered the uniqueness of the first two thirds. The film also happens to fall victim to having the badass evil villains be way to badass for their own accents. You know how Clint Eastwood stares down the people he is talking to and speaks in a tone of voice that screams how he doesn’t give a shit if you can understand him or not? Well, Clint is an American. The villains in this film have that hard and cold way of speaking, but since their Scottish I can’t understand a damn word of what they were saying. I had to turn the subtitles on and I hate having to do that when the language I’m listening to is English.

It was a completely serviceable movie though, with some great actions scenes including a couple falls where they either actually threw somebody off a cliff or they had a really awesome stunt dummy because it shocked me how real it looked. Certainly worth a watch on Netflix.


Suggested Viewing – Frozen (2010, not the animated one, the one with the ski lift), Touching the Void, The Loneliest Planet, Vertical Limit, Cliffhanger