High School

Cast: Matt Bush, Sean Marquette, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, Michael Chiklis, Adhir Kalyan, Luis Chavez, Max Van Ville, Mykelti Williamson, Andrew Wilson, Yeardley Smith, Erica Vittina Phillips, Curtis Armstrong…

Written by: Erik Linthorst, John Stalberg Jr., Stephen Susco

Directed by: John Stalberg Jr.

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Released: January 24, 2010 (Sundance), wide release in June

MPAA Rating: R

Sidenote:

Today being April 20, aka “4/20,” it seemed like the perfect day to rewatch, and write about, a stoner comedy. It just so happened to be the next movie up chronologically, as well, so… here we are.

Summary

Henry Burke (Bush) is a prodigy of sorts, with a 4.0+ grade point average, and a full ride MTI scholarship waiting in the wings. He is also quite serious. Travis Breaux (Marquette), on the other hand, a childhood friend of Henry’s, is a hero among his fellow “stoners,” and doesn’t take anything seriously. 

So, Henry smokes his first joint (with Travis in their childhood treehouse), at the worst possible time. The day before campus-wide drug testing is announced. Henry panics, because if he fails the drug test, he will be expelled, his scholarship will fall through, and basically his entire future is blown.

Travis comes up with a plan to make sure everyone fails the drug test. They’ll steal kief (essentially concentrated THC) from a local infamous dealer (Brody), mix it into brownie mix, and dose everyone. If everyone tests positive, no one will be singled out (and the results would likely be questioned). Oh, it also happens to be the day of the annual school bake sale. Convenient, right?

So, that’s basically the plot. It sounds like it would be a bad movie, I know, but it’s actually pretty decent, mostly due to the great performances.

Adrien’s Role: Edward “Psycho Ed” Highbaugh, Esq.

A quick backstory on Ed tells us he graduated high school at age 15, and became a lawyer “before he could drink.” Then, he went on a trip to Mexico, smoked pot laced with PCP, and damaged some part of his brain. He came back home, revolutionized cannabis growing with his smarts, and became a local legend.

This is easily one of Adrien Brody’s best performances. Yes, I am completely serious. “Psycho Ed” is a perfect blend of genius, mad man, villain, and hero, and he brings the quality of the movie up several notches. I realize I’m biased, since he’s my favorite actor and all, but Ed really is the best part of this movie.

Yes, he’s doing somewhat shady stuff. Yes, he’s considered ‘crazy.’ Yes, he looks like the love child of Hugh Jackman and Snoop Dogg (actually, put that one in the plus column). But darn it, there’s an intelligence and depth to him, too…. His approach to growing, security and the like are all very innovative. This is a brilliant man.

Me, from something I wrote some years back

In Closing

There is a lot of good acting going on in High School, which I think is somewhat unique for the “stoner comedy” subgenre. Brody, as I mentioned, is brilliant, but he’s not the only one.

The leads are both excellent. Colin Hanks is fantastic in a “straight man” role, but he does get his turn at being hilarious, as well. Yeardley Smith has a small, but definitely memorable, role. Mykelti Williamson (of Forrest Gump fame) and Andrew Wilson (brother of Owen and Luke) are both solid as friends (and roommates?) of Psycho Ed’s.

Michael Chiklis is almost unrecognizable as the school principal, and his performance is genius. He and his band do a song during the end credits that’s impressive, as well. Sort of a 1970s-styled rock song called “Get Me High.” Because, of course.

If you’re someone who wants to see a variety of Brody’s performances, you don’t want to miss High School. It’s a side of him not seen in any other film.

Scores

Movie Overall: 6/10
Brody Performance: 9/10

Trailer

 

Health Update

An Update 

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t been around much recently. 

Well, I’ll tell you… 

I’m having some health concerns that are currently being checked out. I’ll have official word soon, but it’s looking more and more like a hysterectomy is in my (hopefully not too distant) future. 

There is a lot of fatigue, pain, and general discomfort, so I’m spending most of my time in bed these days. 

I’ll be back when I can. 
Thank you all. 

(cross-posted all over)

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Voice Cast: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Eric Anderson, Juman Malouf, Michael Gambon, Robin Hurlstone, Hugo Guinness, Willem Dafoe, Wallace Wolodarsky, Jarvis Cocker, Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson, Karen Duffy, Brian Cox, Adrien Brody, Mario Batali …

Written by: Roald Dahl (book); Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach (screenplay)

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Genre: Wes Anderson is his own genre, as is Dahl. IMDb says “Animation/Adventure/Comedy”

Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Released: October 14, 2009

MPAA Rating: PG

Side note

One of my favorites. I love Wes Anderson, and, as you know, I love Adrien Brody. When they work together, it’s like Heaven on Earth for me. Adrien had a simple voice cameo in this one, but I wanted to include it anyway.

Continue reading “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Splice

Cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlett, and Abigail Chu

Written by: Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, Doug Taylor

Directed by: Vincenzo Natali

Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror, Drama

Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Released: October 6, 2009

MPAA Rating: R

Side note:

Splice has gotten a lot of attention lately, after it was added to Netflix’s streaming service in the U.S. (in July, I believe). If you have noticed reviews popping up all over, that’s why. The reason I’m doing one now, is… well, it happened to come up next chronologically, and that’s how we roll here.

Summary

Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polley) are geneticists [and a couple], working with a pharmaceutical company to engineer new medications. Their goal is to blend various traits from different species, until a certain protein can be synthesized. So, they splice (hence the title) various genes in an attempt to achieve this.

The couple successfully make Ginger and Fred, a pair of creatures who… well… honestly look like deformed penises. Things start out promising for the pair and their company, N.E.R.D. Then, Elsa gets the idea to engineer more creatures, with human DNA added in this time.

After some small successes, things go a little sideways. Hopefully, I’ve avoided spoilers in this summation. If you feel otherwise, I apologize.

Continue reading “Splice”

The Tehuacan Project

By this DVD’s placement on my shelf, I thought this was where it fell chronologically. Apparently, it actually came out in 2007.  So, I’m a little late, here. My apologies. 

Cast: Children of Casa del Niño Sordo and their families, narration by Adrien Brody (English), and Esai Morales (Spanish).

Writer: Andy Lauer

Director: Andy Lauer

Executive Producer: Brad Pitt

Genre: Documentary, short form

Running Time: 14 minutes

Release: March 20, 2007

MPAA Rating: not rated

This will be a short review, because it’s a short film.

Director Andy Lauer, and his former roommate, Adrien.

Synopsis

Casa del Niño Sordo (“Deaf child house”), is a school, and clinic for Deaf children in Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico. The majority of children there lost their hearing (whether partially, or completely) due to diseases easily prevented by vaccines. Vaccines they weren’t able to get.

The organization known as The Tehuacan Project was formed in order to provide these children with hearing aids, and specialized education to help them adjust afterward. They also offer counseling to parents during the entire process.

Continue reading “The Tehuacan Project”

Giallo

I put this one off for as long as I could. It’s time to face the music and get it done. I really didn’t want to re-watch this one, but I finally bit the bullet. Horror isn’t really my genre (other than maybe the Halloween movies).

To be honest, Giallo wasn’t quite as bad as I remember, but it sure isn’t good.

Here we go…

Continue reading “Giallo”

Cadillac Records

Cast: Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Eamonn Walker, Beyonce Knowles, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union, Mos Def, and Norman Reedus

Written by: Darnell Martin

Directed by: Darnell Martin

Genre: Biography, Drama, Music

Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Released: November 24, 2008 (U.S.)

MPAA Rating: R

Adrien’s Role: Len Chess

Adrien plays a slightly sanitized version of Leonard Chess, founder of Chess Records, a pioneering blues and rock n’ roll label. Adrien’s version of Len Chess is mainly concerned with getting black artists heard. The real Chess was more concerned with making money, and not giving the artists much of it. Continue reading “Cadillac Records”

The Brothers Bloom

Hi there, I’m back!

Cast: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kikuchi, Robbie Coltrane, and Maximillian Schell 

Written by: Rian Johnson

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Genre: Comedy, Adventure/Caper, a bit of Romance

Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Released: September 9, 2008 (Toronto International Film Festival)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Side Note

As some of you know, I also write for a movie blog called MovieBabble. I recently did a piece about The Brothers Bloom over there. *Note: that piece contains some minor spoilers, as it’s a retrospective for the 10th anniversary, not a review. If you’d like to read it, you can find it right here.

Adrien’s Role

Adrien plays “Bloom” (no first name is ever given), a semi-willing partner in con to his brother, Stephen (Ruffalo). The two have run scams for years, with Bloom usually playing the charming one who approaches the mark. Bloom wonders who he really is, after a lifetime of his brother writing roles for him. And he wants out.

Continue reading “The Brothers Bloom”

A Matador’s Mistress

Side Note

This movie is also known as Manolete, The Passion Within, or Blood and Passion.

manolete1
When Manolo met Lupe

Cast: Adrien Brody, Penelope Cruz, Santiago Segura, Josep Linuesa, Nacho Aldeguer

Written by: Menno Meyjes

Directed by: Menno Meyjes

Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance

Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Released: September 6, 2008 (Toronto Film Festival)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated (I would say PG-13, leaning toward R)

Background

Adrien trained with a dialect coach for this film, but ended up using his own voice/accent, with a few random words pronounced accurately. Sort of like an American newscaster (you know what I’m talking about).

I’m not sure why this happened, given the character he played was a real person born and raised in Spain. Perhaps trying the accent was distracting him too much from the emotional parts, so they scrapped it. Whatever the reason, it’s distracting to have the lead sound American, when everyone else sounds Spanish.

Continue reading “A Matador’s Mistress”

The Darjeeling Limited

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image via kissthemgoodbye.net

Cast: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Wallace Wolodarsky, Waris Ahluwalia, Irrfan Kahn, Anjelica Houston… (and a Bill Murray cameo)

Written by: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Adventure… really, the genre is Wes Anderson 😉

Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Released: September 28, 2007 (New York Film Festival)

Disclaimer, of sorts:

I am rating this objectively, like a “real” film critic would. However, this is one of my favorite movies, so if it was based strictly on my enjoyment as a fan, it would be about a nine.

Also, I have a lot to say about this one. My apologies.

A word of thanks: The screen captures used in this article (save for the photo in the header) are from KissThemGoodbye.net. Thank you for your beautiful images (and for saving me a lot of time and work).

Background/Synopsis

The Darjeeling Limited was Adrien Brody’s first collaboration with writer/director Wes Anderson. The story centers around three estranged brothers (Brody, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman) who come together for a trip through India, a year after their father’s death. In true Wes Anderson style, there is dysfunctional family-based humor, and the tragic moments are still beautifully executed.

Continue reading “The Darjeeling Limited”