Tag Archive: emile hirsch


Killer Joe (2011) Review

McConaisance: when an actor famous for being the butt of many a jokes due to the nature of his films decides, for some unbeknownst reason, to season his career with incredibly serious roles…and actually does it well. Back in 2011, this is exactly what Matthew McConaughey did: along with The Lincoln Lawyer, Killer Joe helped transform McConaughey’s career in a matter of months and left audiences completely bewildered at the ‘new’ actor.

“If you insult me again, I will cut your face off and wear it over my own. Do you understand?”

When Chris (Emile Hirsch) has his stash of drugs stolen by his own mother, he concocts a plan with his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden church) and inconsequently his younger sister, Dottie (Juno Temple) to kill his own mother and cash in on her $50,000 life insurance. To do so, Chris gets in contact with ‘Killer’ Joe Cooper (McConaughey), a detective who moonlights as a contract killer. The agreement turns complicated when unexpected events occur and Joe takes a shine to Chris’ younger sister as collateral.

Right from the off, Killer Joe sets itself apart from any other film, introducing quite possibly the most dysfunctional family in the world as Chris is kicked out of his mother’s house and forced to stop with his father and step-mother (Gina Gershon) after, we suspect, beating up his mum. The rain batters down on the ground and sets the mood for the rest of the film. We are quickly rushed into a strip club for a conversation that should probably be happening not in a public place, but this is the second clue that Killer Joe is going to be exciting, different and anything but what you expect.

“This is going to get done, one way or another.”

McConaughey is soon introduced and as soon as he appears he steals the show completely. Long gone is the man who made his career by taking his top off (although he does have a couple of scenes with his torso on show) and making dodgy romantic comedies. He carries the film with so much intensity; no longer a joke but now someone who can genuinely scare you. The character of Joe Cooper is an interesting and complex one and McConaughey brings him to life perfectly, you won’t want to take your eyes off him for a second, even if you don’t agree with everything that he does.

McConaughey is supported by a really fantastic cast who all more than hold their own. Emile Hirsch as a kid with a lot of front but no real guts is great, Thomas Haden Church does a really understated job but Juno Temple is the other star of Killer Joe. As the annoyingly cute and naive Dottie, you really warm to her character as she seems like the innocent victim here when Joe decides that until he gets paid he’s going to be keeping Dottie’s bed warm.

“Why don’t you do us all a big favor and just go kill yourself?”

There are real horrific moments in Killer Joe: it’s an incredibly brutal, morally questionable story but handled so well by director William Friedkin. Some of the scenes are particularly hard to watch from a moral standpoint but the film does a wonderful job of pulling you in that you are willing to be shocked and willing to be, at times, disgusted. At the same time there are jokes planted throughout the script that bring a darkly comic feel to the tone and make you feel guilty for even considering laughing due to the nature of the film.

Killer Joe is adapted from a play and that comes across. There’s a small cast which is often confined to houses and shacks to really constrain the story. All of this is handled with so much intensity, every thing that happens will have your heart pounding. The dialogue is delivered (once again by McConaughey in particular) in a manner that is just so addictive, characters are so interesting that you have no choice once you start watching but to get to the end. And the end is one hell of an ending that will leave you thinking for hours to come.

“Your eyes hurt.”

One of the best films I have ever seen.

My Rating: 10/10.

Advertisements

I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and in the past couple of weeks critics and fans alike have been compiling their lists of the ten best films of 2012 or twenty best or whatever you like, but I have decided to take a different approach to compiling my list and I will be looking at, month by month, what were the best releases. I’ll be using the UK release dates for films and, in doing it month by month there will be some big omissions and some surprise inclusions.

Will any of these films feature on the list?

 

January – The Grey

To be honest, if you look at what was released in January it doesn’t really fill you with enthusiasm for the rest of the year as there weren’t really many films worth noting released this month. I think that people were still more bothered about seeing the previous year’s Christmas releases (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) however there were a few films that stood out. You might think that We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame or War Horse might win this month but I decided to go for Liam Neeson’s The Grey. Neeson continued his rebirth as an action hero in 2012 and it was largely down to his enounter with wolves in the partially surprising hit: The Grey.

 

February – Chronicle

February brought a lot of very disappointing ventures to the cinema. Safe House was a blockbuster than lacked a punch, Man on a Ledge was a very boring ‘thriller’ and One For the Money is one of the most boring films I have ever seen! However, saying that I was really impressed by Woman in Black which seemed to reinstate Hammer Films at the forefront of the horror scene but for the best film of the month it fell short and I went for Chronicle. Chronicle was seen by many to be very refreshing to an overcrowded superhero genre. The characters that appear in this found footage film are not from the pages of comic books and, like The Grey, Chronicle was another surprise hit but worth of all it’s critical acclaim.

March – 21 Jump Street

If you think that 21 Jump Street is a strange and ridiculous choice to be on this list then I really do encourage you to look at films that were released in the UK in March this year. March saw releases from some very highly anticipated films that were subsequently big disappointments, none bigger than John Carter. Of course, March also brought us the beginning of a huge new franchise with the Jennifer Lawrence led The Hunger Games, however I enjoyed 21 Jump Street a lot more. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in the cinema, 21 Jump Street was a welcome injection of humour to an otherwise dull month.

 

April – Avengers Assemble

There was a clear winner for this month. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble became the third highest grossing film of all time, breaking no end of records on its way to this achievement. This was the event that film fans had been waiting for for 4 years and it did not disappoint, The Avengers (as it was known sensibly in other countries) provided big entertainment, big action, big characters and big laughs. The only real competition in this month came from another film with Joss Whedon’s name attached: Cabin in the Woods, which was seen to redefine the horror genre but really, nothing could top Avengers Assemble.

 

May – The Raid: Redemption

May saw a lack of big releases as the prospect of going up against Marvel’s box office Goliath seemed a little bit daunting for many studios. And of course there is a bit of a lull in the cinema calender before the big summer smashes get released. The Raid was something that we don’t see nearly enough on this side of the Atlantic, a foreign release… and a successful one at that! The Raid is a brilliant, action packed, adrenaline fueled Indonesian martial arts film and it should come as no surprise that there are plans in America to do an English language remake.

 

June – Killer Joe

Now, June saw the second big release of the year: Prometheus. And don’t get me started on how over rated that was and what a bore fest it unfortunately turned out to be. Rock of Ages was a very very dull adaptation of the successful stage musical and The Five Year Engagement was about five years too long. Killer Joe proved that Matthew McConaughey could really act and it turned out to be a very gritty, gothic crime drama that also featured Emile Hirsch who is quietly going about proving what a good actor he is too.

 

July – The Dark Knight Rises

At the beginning of July The Amazing Spider-Man was released and was a very good attempt at reshaping Spider-Man’s origins; then on the 20th of July Christopher Nolan turned up to show everyone how it was done. Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with one of the greatest films of the year. Full stop. He brought an all star cast here and cranked up the tension, cranked up the stakes and people flocked to the cinema to see how the greatest superhero trilogy ever made would end. And it did not disappoint. Sure, it never quite reached the heights of The Dark Knight which preceded it but I thought that the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was one of the greatest and most satisfying endings I have ever seen.

 

August – Ted

Fans of controversial humour, outrageous humour and toilet humour were delivered an early Christmas present back in August when Seth MacFarlane made his feature film directorial debut in this story of a child’s teddy bear coming to life to become a sex-craved, pot smoking best friend (voiced by MacFarlane himself). I think Ted may suffer from a lack of rewatchability but all in all it was a very funny film with some great cameos and hilarious scenes. The “white trash girls names” scene is one of the best scenes of the year in itself!

 

September – Looper

There were some very popular films released in September: Anna Karenina, Dredd, The Sweeney and House at the End of the Street to name a few. Lawless, featuring wonderful performances from Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce among others was an incredible film and gives Looper a run for its money but when I saw Looper I knew I was watching something special. Looper is one of the best films that I have ever seen and has fast become one of my favourites. The time travel plot device that has long been a staple in the science fiction genre and Looper gave an alternate look while skirting around the edges of Rian Johnson’s own laws of time travel. Looper was incredible! My best film of the year.

 

October – Skyfall

2012 saw the return of James Bond to the big screen in Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. After a disappointing Quantum of Solace Bond returned in a flood of critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide in the critically lauded Skyfall. Skyfall delivered a more personal look at the characters in Bond’s world, including a small trip into Bond’s background, a more in-depth look at M and revealed a few dark secrets of MI6. Skyfall also brought back some famous characters in a new style, Q and Moneypenny. Skyfall was simply fantastic and should be an outside bet for a couple of Oscar nominations.

 

November – Argo

My heart longs to say that Rise of the Guardians was the best film released in November but my head says otherwise. November saw End of Watch and Silver Linings Playbook released as well but I think that Argo was a really really incredible achievement for Ben Affleck. Argo was crammed full of suspense and tension and had audiences chewing on their nails whilst sitting on the edge of their seats. A true story of a rescue attempt using the undercover story of being a film crew for a science fiction film seems almost unbelievable but Argo brings it to the screen with such perfect realism.

 

December – Life of Pi

Life of Pi was very hotly anticipated as soon as it was announced. Being a best-selling book Life of Pi already had a huge audience waiting to see how the adaptation would turn out. The story is of 16 year old Pi who suffers a ship wreck which kills his family and leaves Pi stranded with just a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It is a truly touching and emotional story and is already reaping the rewards of their hard work with Golden Globe nominations for Best Score, Best Drama and Best Director.

Obviously, I mean the film… I am not about to randomly profess my love on the internet for some girl who lives on my street, that would be stupid. But The Girl Next Door is one of my favourite films and has been ever since the first time I saw it back in 2004. The Girl Next Door is a romantic comedy aimed at a male teenage audience and that genre of film doesn’t usually go down well with the target audience so it has to be something that will make them watch it so what’s the plot? Pretty much every stereotypical teenage boy’s fantasy: a high school boy starts dating a girl only to find out that she is, in fact, a porn star. Brilliant!

All the characters are really well thought out (if not a little stereotypical) but all of them seem to have layers and layers of character if you look for it in the right place. The casting really does go a long way in this film as well because you can’t imagine anyone else in any of the roles. Let’s start with the three high school friends: Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch), Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz ‘with a k’ (Paul Dano). These three characters encapsulate different three different parts of a teenage boy’s personality. Matthew is the one who is awkwardly and hopelessly romantic who falls in love, but he is also lost in his life and feels that he needs to really find out who he is; Eli is the one who just seems incredibly horny every second of every day and is obsessed with women and pornography; Klitz is the shy, reserved, quiet one who just sort of goes along with the ride rather begrudgingly and together their friendship is absolutely fantastic!

Elisha Cuthbert is Danielle the pornstar and as well as being really attractive Cuthbert really plays on the innocence of her character and her longing to be something more, whilst Timothy Olyphant as Kelly is probably one of my favourite movie villains of all time, he is hilarious! I like the fact his character’s name is Kelly; Kelly’s a girl’s name!

The Girl Next Door is one of the funniest films I have ever seen and I have watched it plenty of times (maybe more than any other film now that I think about it) but it still manages to make me laugh with every joke. There is great verbal humour and physical and Timothy Olyphant’s aggressiveness to the jocks is really funny. There are some absolutely fantastic lines, mainly from Eli, including “take her to a motel and bang her like a beast!”, “I just wanna bang hot chicks!” and the outrageous “I just gotta f**k something!”.  Eli’s phone conversation with Matthew whilst Matthew (rather really pervertedly) watches Danielle get undressed is top comedy too, as well as Matthew’s reaction.

The romantic element to the story holds it’s own against the comedy and it is really wonderful to watch the relationship grown between Matthew and Danielle. They are so perfect for each other; Danielle will push Matthew to be the person he wants to be and Matthew is her escape to the real world and a better life, keeping her on the right track. You can really feel for their relationship as they go through the ups and the downs together.

The end is particularly satisfying. I am a big fan of character development and I think that the majority of characters have completed a full arc in the entirety of the film: Matthew goes off to DC, taking Danielle with him, Eli has become a famous director thanks to the sex education video the group made, Klitz is pretty much the biggest thing in town (that’s a little pun you’ll get if you remember the end of the film) and I really like Kelly’s ending. Kelly on set making the porn movies he loves to receive a box of cigars from Matthew with the famous quote from the film “the juice was worth the squeeze”.

I love The Girl Next Door and everybody else should too!

UK Release Date: 28th September 2012.

From acclaimed director Oliver Stone comes Savages, the story of two young marijuana growers Ben and Chon who face off against a Mexican cartel who have kidnapped their shared girlfriend.

The cast is a stellar one indeed featuring star after star. Taylor Kitsch headlines the film and despite his recent flops this one could buck the trend. Before, with John Carter and Battleship you could tell that they were never going to do that well, there was just something about them, whereas I think Savages looks a lot better than the both of them. Aaron Johnson looks almost unrecognisable as Ben, a marijuana growing graduate of the University of California. The rest of the cast has more stars in it than a pack of Milky Way Magic Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, Benecio Del Toro, Blake Lively and Emile Hirsch, a fine cast indeed.

Savages is a crime thriller and audiences never get bored of the crime genre and everyone loves an exciting thriller and it looks as though Oliver Stone has captured the essence of the genres brilliant, although just a sneak peak the trailer provides great excitement and gives fans something to really look forward to.

The trailer itself introduces us to the three main characters and their unusual relationship in which the two men share Blake Lively’s character as she is the girlfriend to both of them. It is her narration that informs us who the characters are and tell us that even though she is narrating, it doesn’t mean she makes it out of the story alive (a good bit of dialogue delivered badly in the trailer, if it’s in the movie it better be more dramatic) but this provides an interesting story either way and Savages could be Stone’s next big hit!