15th Nov2013

Don Jon – Film

by timbaros

don-jon-fathers-day-clip-061613Don Juan is the universal term for describing someone who is a womanizer. Don Jon is a new film about a New Jersey man named Jon who is addicted to sex, and who can’t get enough of it, either from various women, or especially from the internet.

Jon is Jon Martello, a modern day Don Juan. He is very goodlooking, with a great body to match, and a smile that melts hearts. He is also addicted to internet porn. Jon (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote and directed) has a very active sex life, always picking up the prettiest and sexiest woman in the clubs (much to the jealousy of his friends, who call him Don Jon because of this). But Jon is not sexually satisfied until he watches internet porn (which he considers as sex). He does this sometimes even after having sex with a woman. One night at a club, he meets Barbara, a drop dead gorgeous hot Catholic girl (Scarlett Johansson, in an especially sexy and almost unrecognizable role), and he instantly, he tells her, falls in love with her. She is very skeptical of him due to what she has heard around town about his reputation. It takes a few dates for her to come around, and soon enough, Jon and Barbara are boyfriend and girlfriend. She urges Jon to better himself and to go to night school. And they meet each others’s family’s, with Jon’s family immediately liking her (especially his father, played by a very good Tony Danza). However, Barbara, no matter how sexy and hot she is, still does not satisfy Jon. He still watches internet porn. He is truly addicted to it. And Barbara catches him watching it, twice.
Meanwhile, at night school, Jon is caught watching porn on his phone by mature student Esther (Julianne Moore). Jon, at first, brushes her off, but he slowly gets to know her, and he discovers that she had lost her husband and son 14 months before. Getting tired of Barbara’s control over him, and his having to hide his internet porn addiction from her, he becomes more and more interested in Esther, as she is able to teach him a lot about sex and the emotions that come with it. Barbara and Jon eventually break up.
Don Jon is Gordon-Levitt’s big screen directing and writing debut, and what a debut it is. Funny, witty, and very sexy, Don Jon reminded me of Boogie Nights, the 1997 film where Mark Wahlberg plays a porn star. And Gordon-Levitt is spectacular, smartly casting himself in the lead role. Gordon-Levitt has displayed his acting chops in previous films such as 500 Days of Summer, and by playing a cancer survivor in 50/50. But in Don Jon, he shows his comedic side (which he probably picked up from his days in television’s Third Rock From the Sun, in the 1990’s). And as a writer and director, he successfully creates a story that is basically a romantic comedy about a relationship between a guy and his computer, and with a girl who watches too many romantic movies. Johansson is wonderful as Barbara, the bombshell who can’t quite satisfy Jon’s needs. She deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance. Don Jon would be a perfect film if it were not for the relationship he has with Esther. It is not quite believable as it happens too quickly, and Barbara, being the 40-something woman with baggage, is not really the usual type Jon goes for. And Moore gives a very subdued and almost unsexy performance. But this is a minor quibble for a film that is very funny, very smart, very sexy and very enjoyable. And watch out for the brief cameo by both Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum – pure genius!
15th Nov2013

The Counsellor – Film

by timbaros
images-23Michael Fassbender. Penelope Cruz. Cameron Diaz. Javier Bardem. Brad Pitt. These are the stars of the new film The Counsellor, a film that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
The Counsellor, I think, was about a man (Fassbender) who happens to be, and known only as The Counsellor (lawyer), who gets involved in some sort of drug operation. Cruz plays his wife, Lara, a very beautiful but naive woman. They have just gotten engaged after the Counsellor goes to Amsterdam to buy Lara a very expensive engagement ring. Is this why he gets involved in the drug world? To pay for the ring? It is not clear. Then we have power couple and Nightclub owner Reiner (Bardem) and his girlfriend Malkina (Diaz), who appear to be the ring leaders of the drug operation that the Counsellor gets involved in. This happens when The Counsellor meets Reiner at a party who tells him about an investment where he could make a lot of money. It is a few minutes after that we realize the investment involves a huge shipment of cocaine. The Counsellor is seduced by this proposal and soon enough gets involved. Meanwhile, one his clients, Ruth (a very good Rosie Perez), who is trial for murder, has some sort of connection to the drug underworld, but it is not clear how and to what extent. Ruth has a son, who goes by the name ‘The Green Hornet’, and he is also connected somehow to the shipment of cocaine, but we are not told how he is connected.
Anyway, as the movie confusingly continues, a man with no name suddenly appears to attempt to steal the cocaine. He stretches a wire across a road to enable him to kill the person who will be driving by on a motorcycle. How he knows that the next vehicle coming down the road is the person he wants to kill is not made clear. The motorcycle rider, who we can assume is ‘The Green Hornet,’ rides right into the wire, which beheads him, and the man removes the helmut from the dismembered head, and takes something from it. What does he take? No idea.
All of a sudden a character by the name of Westray (Pitt) shows up. Him and The Counsellor appear to know each other, but we are not told how they know each other. The scenes between Westray and The Counsellor are tense, but again, it is not very clear how Westray fits into the movie, only perhaps to warn The Counsellor about the deal. There is absolutely no reason why this character is needed in the film, as Pitt has no other scenes in the film.
The Counsellor continues with Reiner advising The Counsellor that there has been a problem with the shipment of cocaine and that he needs to watch his back. The Counsellor, concerned about Lara’s fate, tells her to get out of town. They agree to meet in Boise, Idaho, however, she never makes it. She is kidnapped by a gang, but who does the gang work for? We are not told. The Counsellor waits for her in Boise, she never turns up…he is extremely distraught and anxiously searches for her, until he contacts one of the drug lords who tells him that he has to live with the choices he has made. Huh? Back in Mexico, still searching for Lara, a package is slipped under his hotel room door. In it is a DVD with the word ‘Hola’ written on it. What is on the DVD? And why does the Counsellor break down at that point? Don’t know as whatever was on the DVD was not shown.
Am I giving too much away by saying that Reiner is murdered in cold blood, but by whom? and why?
This leaves Malkina as pretty much the last man (or in her case woman) standing. Did she mastermind some kind of drug theft right under the nose of her boyfriend Reiner? Did she have something to do with Lara’s disappearance? What is her connection to Westray? The Counsellor ends with her in a restaurant, speaking to what appears to be her banker, and they discuss what to do with the money. She also tells him that he too is expendable (huh?). End of film.
If the above description of the plot sounds confusing, it’s because The Counsellor is confusing. Ridley Scott directed, and his directing is all over the place. It doesn’t allow the movie to flow. The script was written by Cormac McCarthy (The Road), the first film script that he has written, and it shows. Some of the scenes don’t quite have any connection to other scenes, and the dialogue makes it hard to understand who is working with who and who is doublecrossing who. While some of the imagery is beautiful (two lions coming out of the backseat of Reiner’s car right after he’s been killed, beautiful scenes and imagery of the American southwest), The Counsellor as a movie just doesn’t work, with a star-studded cast but a less than stellar plot. Take my advice and go see Gravity, again.