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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Henry Jones

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The Western that even made Clint chuckle. Just a little bit, though. He still found a way to be as bad-ass as ever

Here lies the story of the Wild West outlaws known as Robert LeRoy Parker, known to history as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the “Sundance Kid” (Robert Redford). Together, they pulled-off many wacky and wild heists back in their day but here, we watch specifically as they migrate to Bolivia while on the run from the law in search of a more successful criminal career. It works for a little while, that is until the boys rely who they really are and know that they can’t settle down, be calm, and cool. They got to rob, even if their lives depend on it.

For the past two months, something has come over me. I keep on finding myself, sitting down once a week, and poppin’ in a DVD of a Western movie. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather, because I’m bored, or just because I enjoy a nice little shoot ‘em up action that take place in deserts, but I’ve just been watching them a lot lately. However, seeing all of these Westerns so much, I think I’ve come to terms with what’s usually seen and accepted with them, which makes it all the better to see one that isn’t your typical Western, no matter how much it gets regarded as one.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

What separates this Western, from so many others out there in the world is that director George Roy Hill takes an approach to this material that is more light-hearted, then it is grim, which is something very different for a Western, especially for one back in that day. When you get the usual Eastwood/Leone Spaghetti-Westerns, you get sinister, dark stares into the sky; guys killing each other in cold blood; innocents going down like flies, and a whole bunch of other gritty shit that is willing to make anybody feel depressed. That’s where this film is very different with that idea that everything has to be dark and grim, in order to make a good Western. All you really need is a bunch of laughs, shootings, and bank robberies, to have a good old-fashioned time, and that is exactly what Hill and co. allow for us to have.

In fact, that’s what really kept me going with this film even when it started to hit some slow spots, here and there. Everybody involved with this flick seems like they’re having so much fun and it’s almost contagious because whenever you see these guys rob a bank or beat the shit out of some gringos, you don’t feel mad at them or feel like these are the two most despicable pieces of human-beings that you have ever seen put on-screen. Instead, you love it and you can’t wait till they start to do some more of that, along with knocking out some pretty funny one-liners along the way to really get you laughing. It’s not all about being an evil son-of-a-bitch here, it’s about being on the bad-side of the law and still having a fun-ass time regardless of wondering who is following you and when they are going to eventually catch your asses. Very different approach to the usual Western people in those days were used to, and I’d say it’s a good thing that it changed the genre up because without this flick, that genre probably would have started to fall off the face of the Earth and become a bore to every person who even bothered with it.

Then again, it’s a genre that’s still growing strong all of these years later, so I think it’s safe to say that the times may have changed, yet the game remains the same.

But people, let’s be honest, this movie would not be as entertaining and fun if it wasn’t for the two leading men, playing in these iconic roles: Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both of these actors, in their own right, are amazing actors that will forever be remembered in pop-culture just for giving out some great performances for basically every film they have done, but they’re pairing here is definitely some of the most fun either of them have had in any film prior to this. Whether they are together or not, both seem to be having a ball with themselves, as well as the material and it’s almost infectious, especially when you get to watching these two vets just work their hardest to make their fun time, not just their fun time, but ours as well. Thankfully, it works.

Newman just oozes cool no matter what it is that he does and plays the brains-side of this duo very well as Butch Cassidy, and Robert Redford plays his charm up perfectly, as one of the most intimidating dudes with a ‘stache ever, The Sundance Kid. Both of them have very different sets of skills, but they both complement each other in a way where the one would totally have the others back no matter what it was that they have gotten themselves into.

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Watching these guys together on-screen is like a work of magic because every scene they have together, just makes them feel more and more like they were actual buds, who just got done having a few pints at the bar before they walked onto the set and started filming. They both play off of each other perfectly and use their hilarious comedic-timing to their advantage every which way of this flick and it definitely helped me stay on-board with this flick, even when it seemed like the film was starting to lose my attention at points. You never stop liking these guys, no matter what bad acts they commit, and I think that’s much ado to the pure likability that lie within these guys’ acting. The chemistry between them is THAT good, and it’s no wonder why they teamed up again for The Sting, and kicked ass there as well.

Perhaps if I was to choose a problem with this flick, it would be that it’s not all that exciting as I would have liked to have expected. The story starts off perfectly with just the right amount of energy and fun that’s needed, but as soon as the film starts to focus on the unneeded “love triangle” between Butch, Sundance, and Sundance’s girl, Etta, I felt like the film cooled down it’s brakes and was really wasting valuable time that could have been dedicated more to these guys just having a fun time, regardless of whether it was all true or not. Thankfully, that last shoot-out where they face-off against all of Bolivia is by far one of the most iconic endings in film-history, and with good reason: it’s full of just the right amount of suspense and emotion, all to solidifie the legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And what legends they truly were, to all bandits all over the world. Even the wet ones.

Consensus: Though it cools itself down in bits and pieces, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is still a very fun, light, and humorous-take on the Western genre that is so much more legit, due to the fact of Newman and Redford’s chemistry being some of the best anyone has ever seen between two buddies in a buddy film, on and off the screen.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even when caught off-guard, they still look cool as fuck.

Even when caught off-guard, they still look fly as fuck.

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The Grifters (1990)

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.

"Hayyyyy, aren't you that gal from the Addams Family? Where'd your black hair go?"

“Hayyyyy, aren’t you that gal from the Addams Family? Where’d your black hair go?”

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?

"Nope, Warren's still bigger."

“Nope, Warren’s still bigger.”

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.

80's, teen heart-throb he is no more.

80’s teen heart-throb he is no more.

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.

7/10=Rental!!

Possibly the gayest look John Cusack has ever given another man caught-on-film. Ever.

Possibly the gayest look John Cusack has ever given another man caught-on-film. Ever.

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