Reign Over Me: So Adam Sandler Can Actually Act

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Let me just say this. I a not an Adam Sandler fan. I thought Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were funny, but by the time he got to Big Daddy, his career started going downhill. The movies became redundant and subpar. After Jack and Jill, he shouldn’t have a career at all. However, after seeing Reign Over Me, I can assert with great confidence that Adam Sandler’s problems as a movie maker has nothing to do with his acting ability.

Reign Over Me, named after the lyrics of The Who’s famous song, was released in 2007. Director Mike Binder created a drama about the loss caused by 9/11. Don Cheadle co-stars as Dr. Allen Johnson, an unhappy dentist whose college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) comes back into his life. Allen soon discovers that Charlie has had severe post traumatic stress disorder ever since his family died in 9/11. Allen tests the boundaries of friendship to get him some help, and ends up improving his own life as well.

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I really enjoyed this movie. It was extremely powerful, mainly because of Sandler’s mesmerizing performance. I was actually very surprised, because usually he’s in such, well, less demanding roles in most of his movies. But there are quite a few actors who are mainly in comedies but are very capable of dramatic performances. Take Will Farrell. Even I can enjoy Anchorman, but most of his movies make me feel like my IQ is lowering. However, Stranger Than Fiction, featuring him in a much more serious role, is one of my favorite movies. Jim Carey is also a great example. He’s known for commedies such as Liar Liar, Yes Man, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And yet he does awesome dramatic performances in the Truman Show, The Majestic (yeah, it was a flop, but I love it) and most of all, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of the best movies ever made in my book.

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Another thing I really liked about this movie was that it didn’t pay that much attention to 9/11. Yes, the audience knows that was how Charlie’s family died, but no footage of it is shown, or anything  It wasn’t another World Trade Center. I’m personally really glad Nicholas Cage could not touch this movie. I think not focusing on 9/11 was a very good choice because by not dealing with 9/11 directly, but exploring the effects of it through Charlie’s story, the idea of loss and grief becomes more powerful. If someone asks “What did 9/11 do?” it’s not good enough just to show them a number. You show them a devastated husband and father whose life will never be the same.

But another thing needs to be mentioned about this film. It is more than just a tear jerker. Adam Sandler would probably never be in a movie without at least some laughs involved. There are some funny moments, not gut-busting humor, obviously, or the kind of humor that undermines the true message, but enough that provides some relief at the perfect moments. I believe that it is extremely difficult toe that line, to be able to create a powerful and poignant story and still have some laughs along the way. Reign Over Me made it seem effortless.

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Anyone who doubts Sandler’s skills (like I did), or any Sandler fans should see this. It is a great film. I give it an 8 out of 10. But I’m still not going to be seeig That’s My Boy.

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Seven Pounds

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I knew this was going to come up eventually in this blog. I am a movie crier. When I say a movie crier, I don’t just mean ethereal silent tears. If the movie is sad or moving enough, I will be balling so loudly that my family runs into the room to make sure I haven’t sliced open an artery.

I bring this up because Seven Pounds totally had this effect on me. Seven Pounds, directed by Gabriele Muccino, was released in 2008. After causing his wife’s death, Tim Thomas (Will Smith) poses as an IRS agent to significantly change seven peoples’ lives in true Pay it Forward style, and then plans to commit suicide. However, he unexpectedly falls in love with one of the people he’s trying to help.

According to Wikipedia, most critics didn’t like this movie. Usually, me and critics are on the same page because of my extremely high standards for movies, but not in this case. I loved Seven Pounds. I basically love any movie that can make me whale l like a baby because that proves that it created a very strong emotional connection with me. Either that or I am just way too emotional.

What I liked most about this movie was that the audience doesn’t learn everything at once because it is not a consecutive story. You see glimpses of the past throughout the present, which really keeps you engaged because you are constantly wondering about Tim’s motives. The second you figure it out, it’s heart breaking.

And I think this was Will Smith’s greatest performance, even better than his role in The Pursuit of Happiness. Now I feel I should stay away from Men in Black 3 because I don’t want to ruin my image of Will Smith.

For a beautiful story, great acting, and making me sob, I give this movie a 9. If you like cathartic crying, this movie is great. Hate sad movies, stay away.

 

In the Bedroom: a Film Not in the Bedroom

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I’ve wanted to watch In The Bedroom for months simply because I am a huge Tom Wilkinson fan, and strangely I am both glad and depressed that I finally watched it. This is anything but a happy movie. There is no uplifting resolution that reaffirms cliché ideas that good will always triumph over evil, or true love will always triumph. So if you are looking for a happy ending, do not see this movie. Not to say it is a bad film. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. No matter how depressing this movie is, it is quite an innovative film.

Don’t let the title fool you. In the Bedroom is not a movie about nymphomania. In the Bedroom, released in 2001 and directed by Tom Fields begins with a young man, Frank (Nick Stahl) dating an older woman (Marisa Tomer) with two children and a disgruntled ex-husband named Richard (William Mapother). Richard confronts Frank and shoots him. Frank’s distraught parents, Matt (Tom Wilkinson) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek) Fowler have to cope with both the death of their son and his murderer being set free on bail when not enough evidence is found, and the possibility that he will only be charged with manslaughter. Sure does sound like a fun Saturday night, right?

But as I stated, this is an innovative movie. One thing I noticed is that right after the death of Frank, there are some very quick shots of Matt and Ruth, each only just a few seconds before the screen cuts to black and moves onto another. Flashes of Ruth watching TV and Matt mowing the lawn. It seems to be expressing that after Frank’s death, Matt and Ruth only have ephemeral glimpses of the life they once had. Also, there is almost no music after Frank dies, except for when Ruth is working, since she’s a choir teacher. Frank’s death has taken out the real music in her life. On top of that, the acting is really good. Tom Wilkinson lived up to my high opinion of him, though I must express I prefer him with a British accent (but that’s just the small Anglophile in me speaking). And though she is only preset in the film mainly in the beginning, I thought Marisa Tomer did a masterful job.

However, this movie has one flaw. That might sound good, a movie only having one flaw, but it’s a big flaw. Richard gets to post bail and is probably only going to be charged with manslaughter because no one witnesses the crime. I know my only knowledge of this comes from watching Law and Order, but people are convicted all the time when no witnesses are present. The police can prove what gun the bullet came from, and usually whether or not the suspect was the one to fire it or not. It is true that in the middle of the movie, the Fowler’s attorney says it’s more than that though, that Richard is claiming that there was a struggle. This case is a little better, but the problem is still present. According to the attorney, evidence proving a struggle or lack thereof can’t be attained because of the old state of the building where the crime occurred. However, if a struggle happens, you can tell. The people involved will have bruises, scratches, skin and/or blood under their fingernails (and this I know from my thorough experience fighting people to the death). So, yeah, the building might be old, but just check Richard’s body. For me, this aspect of the story is not convincing, and considering it’s one of the central conflicts in the movie, it’s too big of a plot hole to ignore.

Though the film has a subtle nuance that I love, the huge plot hole knocks the score down to a 6 out of 10. But I still love you Tom Wilkinson.