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The Good Shepherd (2006)
"Friends can be enemies, and enemies friends"
Friend or foe, the O.S.S. will know. This is a brilliant depiction of the early days of the Central Intelligence Agency, through the eyes of a sinister and yet highly astute man, Edward Wilson played by the very intelligent Matt Damon. Damon's Harvard Ivy League education certainly didn't dampen his ability to play a Yale - Skull and Bones Society member recruited by an even more powerful agency in its inception.
This is not a film for the impatient or weak and it's not a film for anyone lacking the historical knowledge of the era. There's nothing funny about it, it's deep, multi-layered and complex. It's morally challenging and through the eyes of Wilson you'll find yourself living through a dark period of deceit and espionage, you may have to watch this one twice.
With an amalgamated A-list cast every performance is superb. There's a haunting feel to the film, an eerie and elusive plot that makes the viewer work hard to comprehend and appreciate it.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
A haunting thriller with poetic Texas grit
Rural Texas can be hard on anyone, even a rugged and tough Sheriff with a lifetime of exposure to it. No Country for Old Men exemplifies the grit of deep Texas and there's nothing better than a good chase. Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell balances his dangerous chase for a monster assassin with the equally dangerous chase for a good ole' cowboy that comes down hard on the bad side of some very bad people.
Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss finds himself in a dangerous dilemma when he brushes up against a bloodbath of a drug deal gone terribly bad and a satchel with 2 million dollars inside. The man looking for that money is a dispassionate and inexpressive villain, Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem. The rest ensues as a thrilling triple narrative, from a determined man with 2 million dollars on the run, only hoping to escape the mess that he stumbled upon, an old man sheriff facing an evil like none he's ever seen, and a psychopathic killer, an unstoppable evil with no remorse and a extraordinary determination to find what is his.
With its blood-soaked scenes, grimy West Texas setting and haunting terror filled moments between characters, No Country for Old Men is both riveting and beautiful. The dialogue is flawlessly delivered and the performances are award worthy. With almost no music in the entire film you're left immersed and focused on how the Coens utilize sounds and silence to score the film. From wind gusts and boot steps on wood floors and concrete, to deafening silence within the dialogue, it's a score that's frightening and precise.
Fight Club (1999)
"I am Jack's complete lack of surprise."
This movie is simply a masterpiece in every aspect. The first novel written by Chuck Palahniuk, this script was snatched up by 20th Century Fox and green-lit to perfection. There is a brilliance in the writing, especially the narration of one unnamed protagonist portrayed by Edward Norton. A depressed insomniac on the brink of insanity, working a miserable white- collar, office job, and obsessed with his worldly possessions, he unknowingly develops an alter ego. (Brad Pitt) His counterpart explains himself as saying, "All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I f**k like you wanna f**k, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not." This is Tyler Durden.
The two men build an exclusive, global Fight Club, dedicated to loyalty and secrecy, which soon spawns into something much bigger than originally intended, Project Mayhem.
The direction is led by David Fincher and is widely considered one of his best films, and that's saying a lot considering his resume. This movie will leave you baffled at its magnificence. The editing and sound is constructed beautifully, the set direction is grimy, yet magnificent. The performances are equally explosive with a strong lead role from Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer, the love interest of the narrator. Supporting roles include Jared Leto, Zach Grenier, and Meat Loaf.
Fight Club will always be considered a "guy's movie." Plenty of punching, kicking, blood, sex, and rock & roll to match the kick-ass dialog that's delivered throughout. This is a movie that you will watch countless times, the lines and quotes will undoubtedly become second nature. "And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Fight Club, then you have to fight."
-Eric Douglas Statzer
True Romance (1993)
Go on take the money and run!
Or shall I say contraband? Either way this high-voltage thriller will have you on the edge of your seat for 120 minutes. This script was anything but beginner's luck, Knoxville born Quentin Tarantino's first script geared for a major motion picture was in fact originally intended to be written and directed by Tarantino himself but due to the "business of Hollywood" he sold it and the direction went to the already veteran director Tony Scott. Nonetheless True Romance exemplifies the epitome of what 1990's action movies were all about, Adrenaline.
With an all star cast and a lineup of amazing scenes this movie is packed with excitement from the very start. The monologues are captivating, the violence is bombarding, and the story itself is surprisingly charming. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette deliver a dynamic lead portraying a love-struck fantasy for any couple wishing to keep their relationship on the outer realm of exciting, to say the least.
The supporting cast is superb, consisting of many big names and faces that have rocked the silver screen for decades. The talent and delivery from this supporting crew can only be believed when experienced. From mobsters and police, hookers, and tough guys, movie producers and gangsters, stoners and pimps, even the humble voice of a musical legend, this eclectic mix of characters unravel the 1990's and opens the door to a wide array of critics leaving only one opinion that is truly relevant, yours.
-Eric Douglas Statzer