Come on Indy! Don’t get caught with your Willy!
Presumed Innocent is about anti-heroic lawyer Rozat “Rusty” Sabich (Harrison Ford), a Kindle County prosecutor and presumptive heir to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office currently occupied by Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy). When Rusty’s attractive colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi) turns up murdered, the evidence points to Rusty, despite his being married with children and the type of dude that would never, ever pull a deadly-stunt like that off. However, is there more going on than he thinks that may point fingers to others out there. Even the people he loves and works with? Only time will tell until everything is revealed.
Old-school mystery thrillers are always my favorite to watch, and for some odd reason, I always get the urge to watch them during the summer time. Don’t know why that’s always been a thing for me. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that every movie in the summer that’s released or viewed, are usually dumb as hell and require barely any thought, or maybe it’s just a thing I do. I don’t know, maybe it’s as simple as that. No further thinking required.
All of the credit for this film has to go to director Alan J. Pakula for bringing a very moody and tense atmosphere to this flick because it honestly gave me a feeling that I couldn’t trust anybody in this story. It’s a very interesting “whodunit” that keeps you guessing the whole time, even when you think you got it all under control. Usually when courtroom scenes show up, they usually spell-out more hints and clues that make the wider-picture seem so much more obvious, but here, Pakula really seemed to be pulling out the rug right from underneath us, and best of all: he seemed to be enjoying it. That’s what I like in my old-school, mystery-thrillers and watching this one was nowhere near being different.
But the most important aspect of this story that made it work was the courtroom scenes themselves, some of which; are very smart and well-written. There are plenty of courtroom drama’s out there like A Few Good Men and A Time to Kill that have great and snappy dialogue to get you riled up and excited, but it’s also dialogue that feels very “staged”, which, I guess is the point considering they’re movies and all but it gives you this feel that maybe these certain types of people wouldn’t talk like this, had they actually been put into situations like this. Here, a lot of the courtroom dialogue feels very realistic and everybody that either defends their own case, questioning someone, or objects, all seem like real people actually talking. I know this is a weird compliment to give this flick but it’s just a very rare thing to see a courtroom flick just shoot it straight, without trying to throw out any lines like “You can’t handle the truth!”. Even though, I do have to say that 20 years later, that whole scene/line is still pretty epic.
Problem is, after all of this build-up, all of this suspense, and all of this smart-ass questioning going on in the courtroom, the film still disappoints. BIG TIME. I don’t want to give anything away as to what happens in the end, or even what the end is all about but it features a huge twist on the story and not only makes you think differently about what you just saw but also, all of the characters themselves. This all sounds cool and nifty, but it’s very weird how they approach this ending by having an explanation told in a way that would remind you of a psychotic horror movie character. I knew by the way this story was, there was going to be a big twist in the end, but I didn’t know it was going to be handled in such a lame and anticlimactic way. I’m tempted to throw my whole life away and spill the beans, but I still want to keep my credibility. It’s stupid though. Enough said.
Even though Harrison Ford hasn’t had the best track-record in recent years (even though he was awesome in 42), you still got to give it to the guy because he’s able to pull off the action roles like Indiana Jones or Han Solo, but also able to breakaway from them and pull off some dramatic, regular-guy roles as well. Ford is great here as Rusty showing a lot of emotional strain just in the way he looks and way he sounds, but also distances himself away from the audience and makes you think twice about his character as to whether or not he’s involved with the murder he’s investigating. Actually, this was a pretty cool feature but there comes a point in the film where Rusty eventually does get accused of murdering this gal, and shows barely little or no emotions about it. I get it, the film is trying to make us question whether or not he’s involved with the actual murder, but it just didn’t come off as real considering the guys normal and somewhat happy life is in danger. Still, Ford can rock these roles out very well and he’s no different here.
The rest of the cast is full of a bunch of familiar faces that are sure to make you happy when they pop-up on screen. Raul Julia is a lot of fun to watch as Rusty’s lawyer, who always seems to have a trick up his sleeve and brings a lot of humor and charm to the courtroom scenes, even when they seem to get uber serious; Brian Dennehy is playing one of his usual nasty and corrupt characters here as Rusty’s morally compromised boss; and Greta Scacchi has a couple of good scenes as our murdered lady-friend, Carolyn Polhemus, and it’s pretty easy to see why so many dudes would fall for her, especially a guy like Ford. There’s also plenty of other people to see here too, but I won’t spoil them for you. Just check it out yourself and see how many faces you can make to names. Movies like this are fun like that. Most of the time at least.
Consensus: The tension, the mystery, the mood, the atmosphere, and the acting seemed to all come together for Presumed Innocent by one point to where it was really kicking ass in a way I wasn’t expecting, but because of it’s out-of-nowhere, nutty-twist at the end, major points had to be taken away. But the build-up is still awesome, so expect that.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Do con-men and women really look this dashing? If so, I’m not cut-out for the job.
Lilly Dillon (Huston) is a veteran con artist who begins to rethink her life when her son Roy (Cusack), a small-time grifter, suffers an almost-fatal injury when hit with a thrust from the blunt end of a baseball bat, right after a failed scam. However, she doesn’t realize that her boy has fixed himself up with a dame (Annette Bening) that may not seem to be all that she appears to be.
Calling this movie a “thriller” would not be doing it any justice, and I’m still contemplating on whether or not it’s the good type of justice, or the bad. Good, mainly because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool, but at the same time, bad, because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool. See, it’s not the type of film about cons that you’d expect. It’s not filled with a big-heist, it’s not filled with thrilling suspense and action to hold you over, and it’s not even really filled with that many twists or turns. Instead, it’s sort of like the day-time soap opera version of a movie about cons and that’s both good, and bad. It’s very love-hate with me here, and I think you’re about to find that out.
The problem I ran into with this flick was that I feel like it would be going-on in such a slow, tedious-pace that it almost felt deliberate. Most movies that have this slow pace, usually do it for the same reasons that this flick did it, but it works a lot better for them since it’s exactly how the story should be told and judges how effective it will be to the viewer. However, with a story/movie like this, the slower-pace doesn’t quite work as well as it might think and continued to piss me off, because every time the film felt like it was really getting somewhere and picking-up itself and all of the pieces it was leaving on the ground, it would just stop, take a moment to pause, and jog it’s way through.
It was like me in a 5k mile run. I start off so perfectly, then I realize I put too much energy into the first 5 minutes, then I decide to slow things down, almost to the point of where I begin to walk, then, I get some inspiration and energy in my step and begin to run again, and then so-on, and so-forth, all up-until I get to the finish-line and everybody treats me like I just cured cancer, even despite me coming in 2nd to last place. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes with me (I obviously always win those runs, obviously…), but that’s how I felt with this flick and I feel like director Stephen Frears was just toying with me on-purpose. In some ways that works and makes the flick seem less predictable as it strings along, but in other ways, it just feels cheap and sort of like the director wants to be like the characters and play a sick, cat-and-mouse game that some people may not be too happy with in the end when they find out what’s to come of it all.
However, I can’t hate on Frears too much because no matter how slow and languid the pace got, I was always interested in seeing what was going to happen next. The story definitely takes it’s fair-share of detours into the past and they are definitely what feature the most energy and fun of the whole flick, but whenever it focuses on these characters, what they’re doing now, how they’re getting their money, and who’s playing who, the film still stays fun, if not all that energetic as the flashback sequences. Seeing cons do their thing like no other is always a blast to see on-screen and rather than just having it be a flick that exposes trick-after-trick, we get more of a balanced look at how broken and dull some of these cons lives are, and how money cannot buy them happiness and instead, only buys them more trouble. You actually care for these characters and that’s only what raises the stakes even more when the unpredictable-factor of this story comes into play, and you feel like you have no idea where it’s going to go or how, you just know that somebody is playing somebody. Then again, when you think about life and all that is: aren’t we all?
Okay, away from the philosophical ramblings of a 19-year-old film critic, back to the movie at-hand here. Yeah, the Grifters. I think without this trio of leads that the flick features, it probably would have folded underneath it’s own weight but thankfully, this trio of leads are here and are here to give some magnificent performances that stick with you, long after the flick is over. Before ’90, John Cusack was mainly known for racing randomly in the streets and always knowing the right Peter Gabriel track to have the ladies swooning, but once the year 1990 actually hit and this flick came-around, people began to look at him differently and realize something about him: this guy’s all grown-up. Cusack never really got a chance to stretch his acting-skills back in those days, mainly because everybody thought he was made for just hooking-up with high-school girls and in a way, they may have been right, but Cusack proved them all wrong and showed that the guy could play a sly, evil son-of-a-bitch that was as slick as they come and didn’t know when to stop pulling-in jobs and ranking-up the dough. Cusack always seems like a believable character and that’s all because the guy never over-does his whole cool essence and look to his act and always seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody else in the flick, as well as the audience themselves, yet, we always like him and cheer for him as things begin to go South for his hormones and his job. I guess being a con is considered a job and if so, he definitely must have had to won “Employee of the Month”, at least once.
Anjelica Huston plays his mommy, who just so happens to be 14-years-older than him and shows you that the gal can, as usual, play a strong-willed and big-brained, female-lead like no other and as much as this may seem like a convention of hers by now, I still can’t hold that against her. Huston’s great with this role and you always wonder whether or not she is Roy’s mom, his lover, a past-fling, or simply, just some chick who’s trying to play a con on him and get his stash of cash. Like the rest of the characters in this trio, you never know what’s up with her and what her next move is going to be, but like typical, Huston-fashion, she always keeps you guessing and interested. Still, I was just waiting for that wig to come off. I could not believe how legitimate it truly was in terms of the story and setting.
The best out of this trio, and the one who really stands-out among the rest is probably Annette Bening as Myra, the fellow-squeeze of Roy. Bening, no offense to her or her looks, has never really been the type of actress that I could really declare “sexy”, “hot”, or even one that I would just have to take to bed, if I saw her in real-life (because they all would go to be with me, let’s face it), but here, she totally had me re-think that. Bening uses her flair for sexuality and nudity to her advantage and has her character come-off as a bit of a tramp, but a smart tramp at best, and a tramp that knows exactly what she’s doing, even if the others may not be able to catch onto it right just yet. Out of of the three, you’ll be wondering the most what side Bening’s is on and when you finally get your answer, you may be shocked, you may not be, but what you will be, is surprised by how much Bening uses the look and feel of sex-appeal to make a character that’s full of it, really, really work.
Consensus: Stephen Frears’ direction definitely makes you feel as if he is just playing with you, just in-order to be more like his subjects, but that’s why The Grifters does, and does not work in it’s own right. However, you can’t deny the charm and power that is within these three performances and it’s just wonderful to see them act each-and-every-single-one of their asses off, even if the pace seems to not be serving them the full-plate that they so rightfully deserves.
Hey, at least we got the three-boobed hooker.
Colin Farrell stars as Doug Quaid, a factory worker who decides to turn to undergo a procedure to turn his dream of being a super-spy into real memories to escape his frustrating life. But when the operation goes terribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man and the line between fantasy and reality gets blurred.
The original 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Paul Verhoven sci-fi classic Total Recall, was a great movie but it was never screaming “Remake!”. Actually, it holds up pretty well on its own terms but I was able to give this film a try all because of the cool look, awes0me special effects, and two sexy leading ladies involved. The latter one never comes into play unless its with unnecessary remakes like this.
This remake is directed by Len Wiseman and his visual direction, is spectacular. This whole film is one big CGI-trip right from this dude Wiseman’s mind but it looks superb, almost like you’re in this futuristic Earth with these characters. Some people will be bothered by the CGI and special effects and say that it’s there too much, but it never looks goofy and it always makes everything look a whole lot cooler than I expected. Something exactly this film needed in the first place, and thankfully, had.
Other than looking pretty, Wiseman also makes this remake a whole lot of fun that just would not quit it with the action scenes. There’s a lot of mono-e-mono fights that happen here, plenty of shoot-outs, a cool car-chase, and even a chase through an elevator shaft that seems to never end, and they all add a whole bunch of excitement to this film and it never seems boring because of this. Wiseman brings an element of fun to these action set pieces, and because of that, my attention never fully left the screen. Sometimes here and there, it felt like Wiseman was just adding another random scene of action in here just to keep things alive and well, but I can’t really get on his case too much for that since it did so well with what it had and there’s never, ever a problem with just trying to have some fun every once and awhile. It’s not your typical, old Arnie fun, but it’s fun none the less.
Problem is, as fun and exciting as this action may be, there’s always one element that makes it all feel somewhat empty: tension. Seeing the original, knowing everything that happens, and why it does in that movie, I went into this flick expecting no surprises either, which is exactly what I got. There’s only a couple of things that are different from this movie and that movie (no Mars, the explanation of what happens to this guy Quaid and why, etc.) but never was there some sort of twist/turn in the story that I wasn’t already expecting. There was probably only one scene where I actually felt some type of tension in this story as I didn’t really quite know was going to happen next in this situation these characters got caught up in, but sadly, it ended predictably, as this film did. Everything just happened and went by the same exact-formula the original went by and even though not all remakes can just totally change all of their source material just because they want to be different, there still has to be a level of unpredictability to what’s going to happen next and how. But if you don’t have that, then just feast your eyes on plenty, and I do repeat, plenty of eye candy.
It’s also weird that this film is almost exactly like the original, because everybody involved with this film has gone on the record to say that they aren’t going to make this like Arnie’s classic film at all, which is obviously bullshit. The only times that this film actually tries to connect with the original, is when they randomly have the three-boobed hooker show up even though it makes no sense in this story because there are no mutants in this world. Just some very sad and poor people. But what that scene brought, was a certain level of humor to it, the rest of this film has barely any or none of that. It’s a shame too, because as cheesy as some of the humor in the original may be, they still has some classic Arnie lines that are worth reiterating almost 22 years later, but that’s what this film never brings to the table. There’s never any of that wry humor that livens things up quite as well as those classic lines did in the original, and I get it, it would have totally seemed misplaced in a film like this but there could have been something a little light that could have shown up.
I can’t remember the last time that Colin Farrell has ever been the main actor in a mainstream flick, but I can say that I have at least missed him in these types of roles since he’s good here as Douglas Quaid. Let’s face it, Farrell is not as colorful or wild as Arnie, but for what it’s worth, Farrell does a good job at making us like this guy by what he can do with his fists and also at least care for him just a teentsie-tiny bit when the shit starts to hit the fan for him. His character was maybe a little more dull than the original, but then again, I wasn’t expecting to just fall in love with this guy and almost tear up whenever danger came his way. Maybe that’s a little too drastic for a film like this, but you get what I mean.
Jessica Biel cooked some behinds as Melina and may not be as bad ass as I would have liked for her to have been, she still at least had some sympathy to her that made me care for her character and understand why she would do everything in her power to protect this Quaid guy; Bryan Cranston appears in his 200th film this year here with his performance as the evil mofo, Cohaagen, and it’s sad to say that we don’t get enough of him but with what we do get from him, it’s pretty good; and Bill Nighy shows up for about a scene and is good, but just like Cranston, not enough of him either. Still pissed to hear that Ethan Hawke got his cameo cut but hopefully he’ll all show them when it comes time for him and his movie Sinister.
The one high-spot of this whole cast would probably be Kate Beckinsale who plays Quaid’s wife/hunter, Lori. Beckinsale is a chick that I’ve never been too fond of when it comes to her acting, but she’s able to do something great here and that’s play a villain that you can never trust. Beckinsale actually seems like she’s having a ball with this role as the baddy and gets to use a lot of her bad ass fighting skills to show it off and also have that sexy little change in her accent from American to British that always works when it comes to villains. I would like to say that I look forward to seeing Beckinsale in the future, but the fact is, I don’t really care all that much because as good as she may be here, she’s still going to churn out another crappy Underworld movie within the next year or so and I’m going to be sitting there wondering what all of this fascination about her is. Oh wait, she’s really, super-duper hot. Never mind!
Consensus: With plenty of fun action to keep your mind wired and wonderful special effects to keep your eyes glued onto the screen, Total Recall does it’s job in being an entertaining piece of Summer action, but what it does suffer from is barely little or no surprises whatsoever in the story, and just sort of pales in comparison to the original Arnie classic that is still fresh in peoples minds, believe it or not. It’s like re-booting Spider-Man, oh wait….
Maybe having so much money and being so snobby isn’t that bad after all.
Proletarian Fourierist Tom (Edward Clements) is immersed by chance in Manhattan’s upper-crust deb world. At first, he is against all of these late-night parties but soon starts to enjoy them as well as the people the surround him.
Writer/director Whit Stillman is a dude that I always hear about, but never actually get myself to see. I thought of him as more of a “Woody Allen, if Woody made teen movies”. Now I kind of feel like a dick for saying that in the first place.
What I liked most about Stillman’s script was just how damn entertaining it was to hear these people speak and talk about certain subjects I had no idea about. Subjects like Jane Austen, Luis Buñuel, public transportation, and the work that they do in school are all foreign subjects to me that have no meaning but the way Stillman puts in his own dry wit and sarcasm makes it all the more entertaining. That’s why I have to say that this is a very funny flick that doesn’t rely on some big punch-line to get you laughing. You have to pretty much listen in to what these people are talking about to eventually get the joke at hand. Sounds a little too complicated for a comedy about a bunch of rich people, hanging around, getting drunk, and spittin’ out their knowledge of suits, but it’s still something to listen to and I can totally see why this script got nominated for an Oscar after all.
Most of the comedy from this film comes from the way we see these rich yuppies hang around, and how pompous they can be but Stillman surprisingly takes a sympathetic look at them. Of course Stillman shows us that these people can be assholes who think they’re better than everybody because their daddies make more money in an hour than you do in a year, but it’s more about how these kids, no matter how rich, are just like us in many ways. There are plenty of scenes where these kids are drinkin’ and shootin’ the shit on God knows what, but there are also plenty of other scenes where these kids actually do things that normal teenagers would do such as playing strip poker, burning a piece of toilet paper with a lit cigarette for a dime to fall in, and telling fake and phony stories about another person just to ruin his/her reputation. Let’s not also forget to mention that these kids have a lot of wonders in their lives that they don’t have the answers for just yet and it’s that real insightful speak that Stillman gives us that is meaningful.
These kids may be rich, dress fancy, and get any kind of car they want come their birthday, but they also have dreams, questions about the world, and to still have the need to want to have a good old time, even if that does mean arguing about French socialism a lot more. This may not make you look at these yuppies types any differently than half of you reading this do now, but Stillman’s script still makes you realize that these teenagers are just like you and me, with heftier wallets.
My problem with this flick was that since the film was so low-budget, there will a couple of problems when it came to editing. Certain scenes seem to run on too long and give it this awkward silence and then the scene suddenly ends out of nowhere. It’s really strange and it happens a couple of times and almost made me laugh a couple of times unintentionally. I think some of that also has to go along with the fact that some of these actors aren’t that good and they seem to over-sell a lot of what they’re trying to say. Sounds like a weird complaint but I still can’t get past the fact that maybe Stillman had to check out the final product a bit more.
I think the main reason why his script worked so well too, was because he had a good, young cast to deliver it. Edward Clements is very good in the central role as Tom, and creates a sincere and very real character that is the perfect dude for us to see connect with this group because with anybody else, it would have surely been a bit more stranger. Carolyn Farina plays melancholy, shy type as Audrey, and gives a very cute performance that feels like a real girl who just wants to be liked by somebody even if she can never find that one special dude. The one performance that really had me laughing though was the one given by Christopher Eigeman, who plays the totally snarky and cocky Nick. Eigeman is great in this role because he has a lot of funny moments that are just dedicated to him being an ass. At first, he’s terribly unlikable but he ends up being the most memorable and likable character of the whole bunch when it’s all said and done. Like everybody else in this flick, I wonder where they have all went because I don’t notice these faces and it’s a surprise that this flick didn’t put them all on the map.
Consensus: Metropolitan pokes some fun at the rich and pompous yuppies we usually see in these kinds of social satires, but Whit Stillman is more about showing these characters as your normal, everyday teen that may have more money, but still thinks the same as your or I. Also, his script is great and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination that it got.
Imagine almost every patient from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest couldn’t talk, and you got this movie.
Based on the true story, medical researcher Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) attempts to treat a group of patients who’ve laid comatose in a Bronx hospital for 30 years. Sayer prescribes an experimental drug, and it works. Robert De Niro co-stars as a patient unconscious since adolescence who must come to terms with life as an adult.
The story is your typical inspiring story, that somehow works, even though you don’t know how.
I had a problem with this film and it was that it was way too slow, especially in the beginning. The whole beginning is basically about Williams becoming this doctor in this psych-ward, but it never held my interest for as long as the 30 minutes had it. It starts slow and never really picks up the pace, except a couple of times.
Although I will say one thing about this movie, and that is that it is quite moving. Its a great and timeless story of this catatonic person who is finally being awakened after 20 years so of course its going to pull some heart strings. By the end of the film, there are some powerful scenes that make you think twice about these people, and the potential they have rather than just what they look like.
It just never got too touching and moving for me. Call me cold-hearted, call me what you will, but I just didn’t think the story of these handicapped people effected me as much as it could have, mostly cause it focuses on how crazy they actually are.
The one thing that brought me into this film was the two great performances from Williams and De Niro. Robin Williams is all laid back and at times I couldn’t but it, but then by the end of the film he started to win me over with his powerful performance. The one who surely knocks it out of the park is De Niro, who gives all these slight tics as this handicapped person, and it doesn’t feel put-on or a gimmick, it actually looks and feels real. I was more moved by the relationship these two had with each other cause every time they were on-screen together, their friendship felt genuine, and it worked the most.
Consensus: Awakenings has a similar story that is like plenty of other dramas of this nature, and does get a bit slow, but features two great performances that convey great deal of emotions that work in the films favor.
Those damn Germans, always causing trouble.
The enigmatic Claus von Bülow (Jeremy Irons) stands accused of putting his wife, Sunny (Glenn Close), into a perpetual coma with an insulin overdose. Claus hires hard-charging attorney Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver), who scrambles to defend his client — with help from some impassioned Harvard law students — while Sunny narrates flashbacks that shed light on the events that lead to her condition.
The whole film has a plot line that seems it should almost be a tragic drama. However, it combines that weird element of satire and docudrama. I mean its a weird combination, that at some points doesn’t quite work out the best in ways, but still is entertaining.
The praise of this film goes to Director Barbet Schroeder who makes this film a lot of different things, but mostly all just effective. He has this story told with so many flashbacks, and doesn’t leave out a detail that we feel as most that we are the lawyers in this film as well. The movie remains all ambiguous about what actually happened to Sunny, but we still get this feeling as to nothing is right.
I also enjoyed how many courtroom dramas that we know, like A Time To Kill and Primal Fear, all end up in the big courtroom scene, where as this is more about what goes on outside of the courtroom. We see all of the prepping, investigating, and questioning that goes into these cases, and it actually surprises me onto how much the lawyers themselves create so many stories, just to find out the truth.
However, I did have many multiple problems with this film. These “cutesy” students with their quips and their basketball and their sitting crossed-legged on coffee tables were annoying. Even Silver/Dershowitz was irritating with his persistent agonizing and flittering. Also, throughout this film the speed actually sped up, and I was more taken into this film. Then surprisingly, it got slower, and slower, without any real pace at all.
I have to give the most praise to Jeremy Irons, who actually did deserve that Oscar he was given. Although, I think Costner still gave almost a better performance with his material, Irons plays this character with such simplicity and realism, that its actually hard to tell on whether or not he actually did it. You want to hate this guy, cause of the way of his lifestyle, but yet he is so charming and cool that you actually want to be like him in a way. I think a nomination for Best Supporting Actress should have been given to Close, cause with the very few scenes she gets she actually brings out a lot of emotion, that actually has us caring for her character.
Consensus: Though its pace is all over the place and story is bit off setting, this strange film does well with its direction from Schroeder, wonderful writing, and most of all powerful performances from Irons and Close.
They usually call me this on Saturday nights, but you didn’t hear that from me.
Wounded Civil War soldier John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) tries to commit suicide — and becomes a hero instead. As a reward, he’s assigned to his dream post, a remote junction on the Western frontier, and soon makes unlikely friends with the local Sioux tribe.
Basically this film has always been on mind, and for the reason because it beat out Goodfellas for the 1990 Best picture Oscar. However, I can’t say that it wasn’t a close fight.
While watching this film I found myself entranced with emotions I always feel when watching movies, utter beauty and emotional. The film is not just an Epic Western of this mans survival and communication with the Natives, but also has a great message about the relation between two different cultures, as in the white man and the Native.
The film is not only starring Costner but it is his directorial debut, and what a debut it is. Costner knows exactly how to film this movie with all his knowledge of this tribe the film is less and less stereotypical. In films we usually see the Natives talking like “how” and thats all they say, but Costner basically makes half of the film is in the Lakota language, and is all subtitled. He take a lot of drastic and daring steps here to make this film amazing and I can say that he succeeds. The film treats its subject with generosity and makes these Indians seem more than what we see from any other movie of this subject.
The film also has some of the best looking territory ever as well. There are images and sights in this film that are just great. This setting of 1860s rural South is just beautiful because of the way its filmed, and the most simplist of scenes, look even better cause of the setting. Also, the little things such as the score is just so enchanting that the emotions that come out of this music makes you feel it even more.
The film does have its problems though, that can be pointed out. It is a Western but doesn’t add anything new to the genre other than the fact it is just features less action and gun fights. Also, the film categorizes the broadly villainous Union soldier characters, which in my mind wasn’t very original. And in a film that seemed so touching about who’s right and who’s wrong.
The acting here is what makes this film utterly phenomenal. Costner anchors this film, and when for the most part its only him on-screen he is so believable and so great to watch that I couldn’t see anybody else playing this role. Almost everybody in this film gives a great performance but the side performances from two special ones are the best and anchor the film. Mary McDonnell plays the only other white person in the tribe, and hasn’t spoken English in about 15 years, and is forced to speak it again. She handles it like reality, because she doesn’t get right back in the mode to speaking it, and still stutters, and doesn’t understand the language fully, and has some great touching scenes with Costner. Graham Greene who plays the Sioux chief is even better and has some great scenes with him and Costner, where he is actually highlighting the screen every time hes on it.
I feel bad for Dances with Wolves because honestly now that I look at it, it doesn’t get its rep. it should. Yeah, it beat out Goodfellas but you have to look at it, they are two completely different movies and this one in all honesty, had a lot more of an emotional connection to it. Also, two other films that I have reviewed (Avatar, The Last Samurai), all have basically stolen this idea of guy changes cultures and becomes entranced with it. Honestly, they were good films but now that I see, the story really doesn’t relie on originality, mostly on who can do a better similar story to Dances with Wolves without being too close.
Consensus: Dances with Wolves has its fair faults, but ultimately is anchored by the great performances, inspired and authentic directing debut from Costner, and featuring themes that add on to a story of how beautiful and touching two different cultures can be.
Random hostages don’t always work in the best way.
Director Michael Cimino’s thriller centers on a separated couple, Tim (Anthony Hopkins) and Nora (Mimi Rogers), who wind up housing and trying to trap escaped psychotic killer Michael Bosworth (Mickey Rourke). Until Bosworth’s accomplice (Kelly Lynch) shows up to take him to Mexico, he attempts to elude FBI agent Brenda Chandler (Lindsay Crouse). Meanwhile, Tim and Nora broach their marital troubles in the face of terror and desperation.
The film is your basic home invasion film. Director Cimino (The Deer Hunter) tries to put a whole new different meaning to this film, and try to make it something other than a home invasion movie, where basically all of is staying in the house and being treated poorly.
I never understood why Rourke felt the need why this one house break-in was so desperate and needed. It almost came to me as random, why would he just choose this one house to basically invade and torture?
The thing that got me going with this film was a lot of the way it was actually based around, and that was suspense. It actually has a lot of genuine moments where you are on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next to this family, and these criminals, who you really despise.
The writing isn’t so top-notch and at times is a bit cliched. I feel like the film could have been a lot more dramatic by adding a lot of flavor and freshness to its writing so it could have been a lot more effective. Also, that annoying, and almost at times comical music score just annoyed the crap out of me. It felt like I was watching a film in 1990 with the old 1922 score.
The thing that saves this film is that its performances from the two leads are actually very very good. Hopkins gives his usual bad-ass character, that keeps his strength through the whole film and never loses a sense of pride. The best here is Rourke who proves to be so unlikable, and just so hateful, that his charm at times almost makes you forget he’s a total dick head.
Consensus: Desperate Hours doesn’t have the best writing and features some plot holes, but is all about suspense, and delivers on that level as well as the performances from Rourke and Hopkins.
Irish vs. Italians, nothing like it better.
Terry Noonan (Sean Penn), an Irish-American undercover cop working the Hell’s Kitchen beat, returns to his old neighborhood under the guise of reconnecting with friends Frankie and Jackie Flannery (Ed Harris and Gary Oldman), now leaders of an Irish mob family. Noonan’s actually been assigned to infiltrate the family and take them down — a task made all the harder when he renews his childhood romance with Kathleen Flannery (Robin Wright).
State Of Grace is a mobster flick that came out in 1990, along with other big-time Gangster flicks Godfather: Part III, Goodfellas, and Miller’ Crossing. This film never really stepped out in the light because of these others, but it is probably what makes it the most underrated.
The films look and appeal is just what makes it great. This look of Hell’s Kitchen in 1990, is just perfect, and it feels like a character itself, with all these thugs and bad guys inhabiting it.
The story is what is really rich however. You have Penn who grew up with all these guys, and he has so much loyalty to all of them, but he has to take them down but is torn between the loyalty of family, and his old lover. The film does show this and how at times Penn can’t even stand seeing all his friends go down, and him being put up to blame for it.
The writing is a bit of a bummer though. It isn’t as catchy, and as realistic as plenty of other mob films, and I felt like they were just saying this stuff to sound like mobsters. The difference between this film and Goodfellas, is that Goodfellas takes a straight-forward look at the life of gangsters with its very realistic dialogue, and this takes a sort of romantic look at the life of gangsters and just wants to sound like one.
In the end of the film, something really got me confused. I can’t really say anything to give too much away, but there is a huge shoot-out, in the number of gunshots that conveniently miss people, especially since these are all supposed to be tough, gun-savvy mobsters.
This acting here from the cast is very top-notched. Penn delivers another young, and strong performance as a man torn apart. But the best here is Gary Oldman, as Jackie. At first his look with the wrinkled down hair, I was expecting another one of those cheesy, gritty performances, when really what I got was one of the most heart-felt performances from anyone in the entire film. You really do understand this character for what he is, and not something he just looks to be like I did in the beginning. Ed Harris does that big bad guy look way too much in this film, and I really didn’t feel his anger come out in the performance.
Consensus: State Of Grace is a superbly acted mobster film with some great shots of New York, and an interesting story, just a lot more flawed than one of the best of 1990, Goodfellas.
Liam Neeson is not a scientist, that’s how you know that this film is messed up.
In director Sam Raimi’s moody, intense thriller, brilliant scientist Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is almost killed by gangsters in a massive explosion. Unstable and disfigured, Peyton becomes Darkman, an impossibly strong, tormented antihero. Able to spend only moments in the sunlight, Darkman begins a quest to rekindle his love with his girlfriend (Frances McDormand), who he’s held at a distance, and to take vengeance on his enemies.
The funny thing about Darkman is that it looks like a comic book movie (Batman, Dick Tracy), though it features an original screenplay. It has all the elements of one of those origin episodes that the comic book fans love to collect, and how they discover how that superhero turned out to be that way and why.
One thing that you soon may notice about Darkman that it acts and looks like a horror film, when really its a natural tale based on revenge. A lot of elements are thrown together to make this wild fest filled with blend of comic book action, sets, and characters, pitch black humor, and sci-fi/horror violence. I wasn’t expecting anything different from a Raimi film, but what this is still a nice and well-worked blend.
There are a lot of original things that go on in this film. Sometimes the action is really cool to look at, and there are a lot of other scenes where Darkman uses some of his smart tricks to fool others thinking he is still dead.
The one problem I had with this film was that Darkman the character was not very compelling. He obviously has a reason for killing all these people, but compared to other super heroes such as Batman and Superman, he doesn’t have much of a personality and we can’t really connect to him as an audience.
Occasionally the film does get a bit silly with its very cheap one-liners, and cliche script. But the villains didn’t seem so bad either. They just seemed like people that were part of the mob nothing really different, and I think anybody, super powers or no super powers could have easily killed them.
Liam Neeson does try his hardest with the character but isn’t given much to play with. He does have little scenes where he goes into rage and it seems believable just not memorable, and falls by the waist side of this character.
Consensus: Darkman is well-directed, and at times a very fun picture, but isn’t too memorable, that features an uninteresting superhero, and gang of villains.
What was I getting myself into when I was watching this piece of work!!!
Serial killer Henry (Michael Rooker) serves as mentor to dim-witted fellow killer Otis and as the object of his sister’s affections. Trouble is, Henry’s heart is too hard for friendship to penetrate.
This film was made in 1986, but couldn’t get an R rating from the MPAA ratings board. Finally, in 1990 it went into limited nationwide release, and to be truly honest I can see why it took so long for many people to be so shocked and disturbed.
There are plenty of scenes within this film that are absolutely hard to take. There is one scene that sticks into my mind the most, and that’s when they videotape a murder that they did. That scene disturbed me the most and really did sell the whole disturbing level for me.
I liked especially how the film showed us a passionate and also great look at Henry, the serial killer. There are people out there who do stuff like this just for simple fun, and its time for us to understand that they are people just like you and me. The films murders and the whole element of the film was more serious than just making a joy-ride of these slashing murders.
The only reason I give this profoundly upsetting film only a mild rating, is because it has lost some punch over the years, with the subsequent release of so many even grislier pictures. Even this is upsetting, since it just adds to the film’s overall questioning tone. What kind of world is it, that can make acts like these, and people like Henry and Otis, seem almost normal, hideous acts of pointless murder merely boring and annoying, and the callous actions of these men almost justifiable in the face of the harshness and futility of life as they know it? The camera offers no suggestions or comment, instead just rolling on the action mechanically, like Otis’s camcorder, and offering no view of any better world, one that must exist somewhere outside the half life of ignorance and violence that they take for granted.
Rooker as Henry is great here. He gives us the unsympathetic and at the same token very well-mannered person. Every scene he has is just creepy, and overall disturbing. Rooker never loses his touch in any of the scenes and I just found myself to be fully memorized by the way he handled this character.
Consensus: Though it’s not for everyone, Henry is disturbing, violent, harsh, and ultimately smart. It features a great look at a serial killer that has no remorse, and shows us how these people are just like you and me.
For all this week leading up to Halloween I will be doing 5 movie reviews on horror films startiing with this one first.
Hick handymen Val McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) can barely eke out a living in the Nevada hamlet of Perfection, so they decide to leave town — despite am admonition from a shapely seismology coed (Finn Carter) who’s picking up odd readings on her equipment. Before long, Val and Earl discover what’s responsible for those readings: 30-foot-long carnivorous worms with a proclivity for sucking their prey underground.
Tremors is sort of a present-day Western, with some really insane scinece fiction elements. The Tremors in the titles, refers to the shock effects caused by these worms tunneling underground.
I can really see why Tremors found a lot of really good exposure after it’s disasterous box office debut. It has some good elements that weren’t really caught by the genre at the time. What makes it most different is that it really does start off like a normal comedy, with some mildly funny jokes mixed in with little heartfelt moments. Then halfway through the film it turns itself sideways and becomes a totally different film with plenty of horror B-movie elements.
There are many elements that really do make this film a bag load of fun. Even just the fact that there is a bunch of giant worms as credible villains makes it worth while, but it really can’t sustain itself for too long.
There we’re an awful lot of satrcial takes on many reoccuring characters throughout this movie that were based on the conventional characters from horror movies. However, after awhile I found these little parodies to be lame and the jokes to be even more of somewhat overrun.
I also didn’t like the addition to the over-excessive use of the modernized blood and gore. I thought this movie would’ve really refrained from it, and keep to it’s natural roots but really just does this too much after a long time and becomes a little disgusting.
The whole nature of this film is really what makes this film the more enjoyable, is that it really doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are a lot of funny staged reactions, and the tenseful scenes mixed with some of the most obvious score music really do make this film all the while funny and joyful.
Tremors has a diverse cast that really does hit the button with many of their scenes. Kevin Bacon was really good and I thought it was nice to see that he could carry a movie so early in his career, but it’s mostly the side performers that make this a worth while. Fred Ward, really does an excellent job playing the witty but also more intelligent buisness partner of Bacon, and males this film a much funnier trip.
Consensus: Tremors is a different horror film with some good comedy, and a well-acted diverse cast. But, doesn’t quite stick with me as I thought it should’ve.
Sean Connery trying to be a Russian, nothing else is better than that.
When a Soviet nuclear sub headed toward American waters drops off U.S.scanners, the Yanks scramble to take defensive steps. But CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) convinces the brass that the sub’s commander (Sean Connery) has something other than a first strike in mind.
Now getting ready to watch this movie I was all hyped up. I love Sean Connery in any movie, and it actually looked like a reasonably slick thriller with little tweaks of action. Too bad that wasn’t what happened at all.
The film I guess you could call it a thriller, that’s if what your definition of thriller is. If your definition is a movie that has little or no action in the middle and suddenly picks up speed bu the end, with the other 95% of the film all just useless talking, then yeah this is a thriller.
Other than the talking about God knows what with these characters nothing really happens. I felt myself zoning out plenty of times and just bored all together. I mean I know sound pretty stingy but this film just didn’t hold my attention. They play this score music that tries to get you all in suspense when really there was no suspense to begin with, and its just put at random times of the movie.
The acting in this movie is actually the one thing that makes it watchable. Sean Connery as usual does a great job in this film and it seems like he really does try his hardest with this film and actually make a run with it. Alec Baldwin does a good job to and has more effective scenes than Connery which kind of threw me off, but they were still good nonetheless.
By the end of the film there is some CGI that comes into play and I could not help but just laugh at how pitiful it really looked. I thought I was playing a video game or something when that crap came up.
Consensus: Though it has good performances, The Hunt For Red October doesn’t really have much going on and tries to act like a suspenseful thriller when it’s neither.
The place where it all goes down, in the forest.
Trusted adviser to 1920s Irish crime boss Lee O’Bannon, Tom Reagan’s loyalty is tested when he takes up with O’Bannon’s gal pal, Verna Bernbaum. Meanwhile,rivals Johnny Caspar and Eddie Dane threaten O’Bannon’s racket.
Miller’s Crossing is directed by the highly original Joel Cohen, and it’s pretty easy to tell, as there are many numerous look a likes in this film to countless others of The Coen Brothers.
In this film, there are many very good scenes that are just about being visually and emotionally captivating. Coen makes this film touch you but not with words or actions, but by the look of the film, and how you feel you’re in this torn-down 1920′s era of where gangsters and crime rule the town, and where everything is deceptive.
If you’re looking fora good mafia film then look no farther. Many stereotypes in mobster films don’t quite happen in here. We have always seen these tommy-guns blazing, but not with the kind of style this film gives us. The script is not like many other mafia films, as it is very realistic but also very challenging and complicated.
The reason it’s very complicating is because it starts off on the wrong foot talking about characters we do not know, and have no clue about. Probably about 45 minutes into the actual film is when we finally find out who all the players are. Many events in this film also happen, without us even knowing ourselves. I liked the little John Tuturro scene at first and felt that was good, but then it starts to over-play itself and just turned out to be a little too annoying.
The movie does have some pretty interesting scenes with some great violence and great visuals, but moves at a snail’s pace. There were way too many scenes that just featured these people talking, drinking, smoking, or anything else about gangsters. I felt like this film at points got boring, and does not do very well trying to pull it’s viewers in.
Miller’s Crossing features a lot of big names that are recognizable, but aren’t in this film as much as you would think. Gabriel Byrne does a very good job at playing this lead and doesn’t act tough throughout the whole movie, and actually does show some weaknesses within. Albert Finney, John Tuturro, and Marcia Gay Harden all are in this film and show up but are not used as well, and don?t seem to powerful for a film that bases it all on the power of a look and feel.
Consensus: Though not one of Coen’s best, Miller’s Crossing is a small mobster gem that is visually spectacular and features a real-life look at the world of the Mafia.
Arnold is at it again but this time he fights in the future.
When construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) discovers a memory chip in his brain during a virtual-reality trip, he also discovers that his past has been invented to conceal a plot of planetary domination. Soon, he’s off to Mars to find out who he is and who planted the chip..
Don’t take this as one of your ordinary same old action thriller, it’s more intriguing than that and surely does add a lot more to thrillers than people think. The film takes place as if Arnold is in some illusion dream that has gone out of sync and has turned into a nightmare, and we have seen this film before. But this one is more different and doesn’t get too confusing.
The most intriguing thing about this film is that it may all just be a dream. So we decide on whats real or what are just delusions, and more of like with Arnold’s character is that is he just a construction worker or a secret agent.
The special effects in the first hour of the picture are really spectacular and look really good but then after that it starts to just repeat itself and look cheesy. It looks a lot like a bad rip-off of an old Star Wars flick and doesn’t look spectacular after all.
Total Recall’s resolution also has me on the balls of my feet too of just what is really going on. We don’t understand by the end of the movie what is fact and what is fiction and leads us to just come up with it ourselves. Which really doesn’t make the payoff real well if all’s we have to do is think what’s real, and not.
Aside from that much of the rest of the film is surely to entertain anyone. This movie is a lot like other Arnold action films it’s that its bloody, violent, energetic, and a little humorous but this time with a twist of sc-fi. The film doesn’t shine away that it’s from the future but also doesn’t exploit by using guns that are noticeable today and not really focusing on spacships like I thought it would’ve.
Much of Arnold’s performance is the reason for this films success. He is not just playing a normal old superman, aside from the fighting, he is a very confused man who has to fight his way through of finally discovering the truth. Although some of his lines can be very cheesy, as usual, I still think this is one of his most adaptive performances yet, and makes this film different from his others.
Consensus: Total Recall has a great boost of action, goore, and a touch of humor that will keep you entertained until the payoff, which really doesn’t payoff.
Do not watch this movie on an empty stomach. I assure you, you will be very hungry.
Drama of a half-Irish, half-Sicilian Brooklyn boy initiated into a neighborhood mob in his youth, and the struggles he encounters with the gang through the next 25 years.
I first saw this movie about 2 years ago and didn’t think much about it, until now I have just been amazed by this film.
This is surely one of the great films from the gangster film genre. Director Matin Scorsese fully shows this unromantic view on the gangsters lifestyle. He shows what the gangsters do is steal, kill, and don’t associate with many others outside of the circle, which in all shows how these character interact with one-another. The best thing about Scorsese is that he takes these theatrics looks and make moral stands. What Scorsese is mostly showing and telling that these people are scum, and this is so crushing in a beautiful and artful way.
The little things in this film are great as well. Such as the ending parts where Liotta’s character soon becomes high on drugs and its filmed in a completely different way and style than earlier before. More great things about this film is also the scenes where its just that single camera shot and you follow all around a party that these mob characters have and you meet all the people and you look at all the colorful personality’s but you soon realize their all the same. The narration from Liotta is great and I like how it shows how he is sort of an outsider and it shows his insight on the world that he lives in with these gangsters. Another cool feature is how through this film we see how they evolve over the years and how different they look.
The best part of this film are the performances by all. To be truly honest there isn’t one single bad performance in this film. Joe Pesci totally steals the show with his energetic and lovable personality, but shows that the easiest things can tick him off. The most under looked performance is from Lorraine Braco who plays the wife of Liotta who is very important and shows how even wives who stay at home and spend the money from the husbands are still effected of the mob life as well. Probably one of the first mob movies with a female being a part of the mafia and is not just a supporting act.
This movie did cause a couple of problems for me. I wish there was more of De Niro’s character cause he proved he can act but he wasn’t such a big name character in this movie and I would’ve liked to see more of him. Also, Paul Sorvino’s character should’ve been shown more and shown in a way that would’ve been more effective way and show his relationship with Liotta and the rest but we only get little snippets of him and it would been more effective to show him. Also though this movie through and through is great it still does not have a very effective ending at all. I think in a film like this with so many twist and turns that a better ending would’ve showed up in this movie but it didn’t.
Everything about this movie is just fantastic:acting, music, dialouge, camera work, and especially the directing. Though with a little bit of character involvement errors and a not so fantastic ending, I still believe this movie is a great American classic for all to see.