December 31, 2013.

This blog is now closed. After three years and 311 posts, I have decided to end this blog. I have enjoyed watching the films, reviewing them, and interacting with global readers.

If you are interested in contacting me, you can do so by commenting on any of the posts. The blog will remain live on the web.
Thank you to all the readers for your comments, ideas, and thoughts. They were helpful, stimulating, and enriching. This is Alene, signing off.

October 6, 2012

Savages (2012)

When it's over, it's everything I would expect from Oliver Stone - sex, violence, drugs, and peculiar characters.  The first thing that intrigued me about the film was the title.  As silly as that sounds, it made me look twice. The story was straightforward and included plenty of recycled cliches, but that didn't stop me from seeing the film. In fact, it only piqued my curiosity further.  After all, it's an Oliver Stone film, and I wanted to see how Stone would incorporate the title with the contents of his film.  For me, the title, Savages, was really a metaphor of how we see others, and ironically, there's a bit of savagery in all of us, in all the characters, coming out in varying ways. Despite all the bashing this film received, I liked it.  I liked the characterization of the male leads.  The men shared the same lifestyle, but held opposite views on life's philosophy.  Again, showing that opposites do attract, and the underlying conflict between the men played off well.  I liked the idea of having a woman as head of a Mexican cartel.  It can't be easy to pull off ruthlessness and motherly love in one breath and Salma Hayek did it so well.  After a break from the silver screen, Benicio Del Toro returned with a vengence.  His portrayal of a greasy Mexican cartel henchman showed that he still had the acting chops that made him so memorable in Traffic (2000).  Ben and Chon (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) are best friends.  They share the same girlfriend, O (Blake Lively), and a successful business selling marijuana.  When the Mexican Cartel wants in, but the boys want out, the head of the cartel (Hayek) takes O hostage, forcing the boys to extreme measures in order to get their girl back.  The film felt like a Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino joint venture, but the only two things this film had in common with the two directors were the cast - John Travolta and Hayek - and the style. Instead of reserving an alternate ending for DVD release, Stone incorporated two endings back to back in the film.  I would have preferred the first ending before Stone did a Tarantino 360.  I thought the first ending was a justified ending and suited the characters and circumstances.  The second ending was too soft, too unsatisfying after the long rough ride.  I thought the characters were well casted, and the performances were all solid.  However, Lively was an exception.  She certainly looked the part, but didn't make a lasting impression.  Either her character was badly written or Lively couldn't deliver in the tough girl category .  O came off as a needy female character who relied on the men in her life for fulfillment.   Next to Hayek's tigress performance, Lively was a kitten.

My rating: 4 out of 5

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