2 In 1: Jesse James and King of Kong.

Every now and then I buy a couple movies on DVD and, because of the randomly silly rule I set for myself with this review blog (only give formal reviews to movies in theater, everything else gets discussed in some kind of article), I find it increasingly difficult to actually do just that. However, it’s always fun trying to find loopholes to my rule (because I’m too stubborn to break it). Therefore, I’ve come up with this idea to do an article where I just review two movies on DVD or whatnot together, but in a shorter fashion. So here I go.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

First I’ll start with the good. The acting was great, and I’m stumped as to how Casey Affleck received an Oscar nod but Brad Pitt did not. Both were great, but Brad Pitt was just purely fantastic. The whole time watching, I never thought “hey, that’s Brad Pitt.” But anyway, as I said, the acting rocked. Another great thing, which is a vast understatement, is the cinematography. This was really one of the most beautifully shot films I have seen in a long time. Every frame of this movie felt like a piece of art. Finally, the movie’s musical score was awesome, as well, especially the song played during the initial train robbery and at the end after Jesse James gets shot (if you call me on a spoiler for that, you need to be slapped). I loved that theme.

If this movie had any downfall, it was the actual story. Or the lack of one, really. There were quite a few times in this movie where I had no idea what the hell was going on (moreso in the first hour and a half or so than the second half of the movie). But really, there is no over-arching plot. It’s seemingly just a bunch of random occurrences strung together, like somebody opened up a biography of Jesse James, pointed out some key chapters, and filmed it. And, like the title, the movie was a tad too long. Without the ending credits, it’s about 2.5 hours long, with half of that time frame being scenes mostly unimportant to the little story there was. It just seemed to jump from one character to the next and back again with nothing in between, and the voice-over narration didn’t do much, as it was basically reading from the aforementioned biography book detailing what will happen to characters after the timeframe of the movie. I’m a very visual learner, so following along with a history lecture in an auditory fashion was very difficult for me.

However, that doesn’t make this a bad movie. I really think the great acting and the beautifully stunning cinematography keep it pinned to a high rating. And if this movie doesn’t win the Best Cinematography Oscar, I’ll be upset. It better. Anywho, my rating is…

A Keanu 'Whoa'

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.

Now THIS is a great movie. I can’t comment on the acting, because there wasn’t any. It’s a documentary, so these are just real people doing their thing. I can’t really comment on cinematography, because, as I said, it’s a documentary, and those aren’t known for breath-taking camera angles and wide-lens masters. But what I can discuss is entertainment value. This documentary really feels like it’s a scripted movie, though it isn’t. You have your villain and overall hypocritical jackass, Billy Mitchell. You also have your down-on-his-luck, family man, school-teacher, and overall underdog, Steve Wiebe (pronounced Wee-Bee). You have your villain’s henchman, Brian Kuh. And you have the nice, old middleman, Walter Day.

For those that don’t know, this movie is about the ultra-competitive sport that is arcade games, specifically Donkey Kong. Billy Mitchell took the all-time high score back in 1982 and kept his title. However, after being laid off from work, Steve Wiebe takes up Donkey Kong to pass some time and thinks it might be fun to try and beat the high score. What he didn’t realize is the hardcore world he was getting him and his family into. And after he beats Billy’s score (by a lot) and submits it for the records, it’s refused by a really depressing series of events. So this leads Steve to go to any competition around the U.S. to try and publicly beat Billy’s score.

I didn’t know what to expect when going into this. I had heard nothing but good things, so my expectations were rather high. And, needless to say, they stayed that way. It starts off a bit slow, but once it really gets into it, it’s addictingly entertaining, much like video games themselves. It was a lot like watching Survivor, I think, because you grow attached to some people (Steve and Walter), annoyed by others (Brian), and just plain hate some (Billy). Seriously, Brian Kuh reminded me of like a cartoon sidekick, willing to hump his master’s leg and do any evil deed that was wished, while Billy often made me think back to characters like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. He never showed his face, but he was always in the background doing dastardly deeds.

Anyway, this movie was great, entertaining, and funny. By the end, I was gripping my bed sheets in suspense, just praying that Steve would beat Billy’s high score. So I suppose this one will get…

Royale With Cheese

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