Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: 1991

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)

It’s like they say, “Your best movies, are the ones that come close to killing you.” Even though, yeah, they don’t.

After making not just the Godfather Part I, but Part II in the span of a nearly two years, Francis Ford Coppola could basically do whatever the hell it is that he wanted, with as much money, with whomever, and wherever. That’s when he decides to take up adapting Heart of Darkness, the novella that had been a long passion-project of Coppola’s, but needed some extra push to get off the ground. Eventually, he got it, but in this case, it wasn’t what he, or anyone else was expecting. Needless to say, without saying too much, one lead actor gets a heart-attack, another gets recast about halfway through, one is filmed in a drunken-stooper, one lies about his age to get in the movie. But then, if you go past the usual actor stuff, you’ve also got the fact that the budget is running up the bill way more than it was supposed to, the Vietnam locals are getting pissed, the weather was absolutely awful and practically unlivable, and oh yeah, Coppola himself literally lost his mind.

Was it “method”?

The biggest joke about Hearts of Darkness would be that the resulting film of all this mayhem and madness, Apocalypse Now, turned out to be a bunch of crap that people put way too much of an effort into, for no other reason because they had to, or they thought what was right. But that’s what’s funny, because the movie turned out, dare I say it, almost perfect. All of the years spent filming, editing, and putting money into it, guess what?

At the end of the day, everyone went home happy.

But Hearts of Darkness isn’t a movie about what the final product ended up becoming, nor is it really about what everyone else thought about the movie, it’s mostly about the behind-the-scenes of everything that happened on, as well as off the set, and yeah, it’s just about as candid and as eye-opening as you can get with a documentary about so many big names and faces in Hollywood. With the assistance from Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper, believe it or not, Eleanor Coppola, Francis’ wife, is actually the perfect one to bring this table of absolute craziness to the big screen; she was, after all, there for it all, and her insight, while sometimes silly, focuses on things that probably mattered the most. While Francis was off worrying about how much fire was burning the trees down, Eleanor was worried that her husband was going to have a stroke and possibly die from all of the tension and turmoil in his life.

It’s not like she wants us to feel bad for her husband, but at the same time, she also wants to see it from more of a film-nerd’s perspective, where the control-freak director is always right for themselves, the movie, and everyone else around them. But still, just watching what happens behind-the-scenes here, and the things that we only hear small instances of, are truly insane, but draw you in even closer to the mind of Coppola, how he worked, and why he slaved away for so long to get this picture of his made and up on the big screen, for all the world to see and hopefully feast their eyes on.

It was the 70’s and it was hot, so maybe he wasn’t totally crazy.

And really, it all comes back to Coppola, someone who has become a pretty infamous figure in movie-making, only because it appears like his career has taken a huge turn downwards after he was put into debt for this project, as well as the many others to follow. For one, it’s interesting to see Coppola talk about this project, but also not think of him as a total ass; sure, he loves himself and his work, but can you blame him? The man has literally just made two of the greatest movies of all-time and was onto making another, so maybe he’s allowed to kiss his own ass, eh?

If so, it still brings up the question: How much is too much?

Eleanor and the movie as a whole, brings this point up many times and makes us think, whether we’re on his side for going so far as he did, to make sure that this movie was complete and actually worked to his vision, or, if he was just way too artistically-driven in the first place? See, it would be a problem if the movie didn’t turn out to be such a classic, but it somehow did and it makes us not just think, but wonder: Where has that same artistic integrity gone? And hell, when is it coming back?

Consensus: Eye-opening and thrilling to watch, especially if you’re a film-nerd, Hearts of Darkness will surely show you everything you need to see, hear, and understand about all of the craziness that went into making sure the final product turned into what it is seen as today.

8.5 / 10

Pictured: Cast and crew getting the hell out of Coppola’s rage.

Photos Courtesy of: Jonathan Rosenbaum


The Indian Runner (1991)

If you’re based off of a Springsteen track, chances are, you may be a little depressing.

Frank and Joe Roberts (Viggo Mortensen and David Morse) have been loving and dedicated brothers to one another, even if they couldn’t be anymore different. Frank’s a bit of a wild child, always getting into some sort of trouble, and never staying in one place for very long, whereas Joe, likes to abide by the law as a cop, keep his family together, and yeah, not cause many problems. The two do have some issues with each other, but they’re just like any brother-combo, in that they love one another, no matter what. Which is why when Frank starts messing up big time, what with a pregnant girlfriend (Patricia Arquette), and a slowly-going mad mind, Joe feels as if it is up to him to step up and try to save his brother from totally losing his marbles and possibly doing something he will soon one day forget.

It’s been noted that the Indian Runner, Sean Penn’s debut behind the camera, was inspired by Springsteen’s “Highway Patrolman“. It’s a solid song and it’s easy to see where a lot of the inspiration Penn drew from here; he loves these small, subtle tales about normal, everyday, hard-working, blue-collar Americans like you or I, who are trying to make ends meet, but always run into some sort of hardships and have to get over grief. Essentially, the Indian Runner is a two-hour-long Springsteen song, but for some reason, the heart and soul was left in the stereo.

Uh oh. Viggo’s drinking again.

Does anyone even know what a “stereo” is anymore?

Regardless, Penn gets by on keeping his narrative focused and not really trying to complicate things. We get sad people, living in a sad town, not really doing much with their lives other than, of course, being sad. In a way, the Indian Runner works well as a mood-piece that allows for Penn to show us the different layers of this depression and how it can hit each and every character here, but that’s about as far it goes.

See, after awhile, mood-pieces can get to be a bit of a bore, especially once it becomes clear that you don’t really have a story to work with. And with the Indian Runner, that’s exactly the case, with the movie moving along at such a slow pace, you wonder when it’s ever going to get moving, or better yet, what it’s actually going to try to do. It’s interesting that Penn doesn’t really give us much of a plot, filled with an easy conflict seen from a mile away, but he also doesn’t give us much else in place of that. It’s as if he had a whole bunch of ideas about how to build these characters and their relationships with one another, and just thought that somehow, some way, a plot would materialize.

It doesn’t and that’s why the movie suffers.

And normally, this wouldn’t be much of a problem; one of the main reasons why all of those insufferable and nauseating mumblecore movies work well enough is because they can sometimes be so short, you hardly have enough time to be mad. With the Indian Runner, at a little over two hours, it’s easy to get mad, annoyed, and downright frustrated, because you never quite know when anything is going to happen, or even if there will be anything to happen. The general idea is that we’re just going to sit around and watch a bunch of people do things that we probably don’t care about, because well, there’s nothing driving any of them.

What a man.

Which isn’t to say that there isn’t character-development to be had here, but it’s a bit thin, at times, bordering on conventional. For instance, take Mortensen’s Frank who is a little crazy, unpredictable and violent – something that Mortensen can play in his sleep. And yeah, he’s good in the role, but there’s never much else to the character other than this, and even the craziness is never fully explained – we assume that some of it may have to do with a childhood trauma, but we’re never quite clear on what that actually is.

Same goes for Morse’s Joe, who seems like he’s just another ordinary, good guy who has to make some tough decisions, but ultimately, gets by in life. Morse is good, as usual, but there’s just not much to this character that makes him all that compelling to watch. Even incredibly brief appearances by the likes of Charles Bronson, Dennis Hopper, Valeria Golino, and Sandy Dennis don’t do much but make us wonder why Penn didn’t put more time and effort into giving these talents more to play around with. The only one who seems to get by well enough here is Arquette, who remains lovely and cheerful in a very depressed movie, but that’s about it.

But hey, at least Penn got better behind the camera.

Consensus: Sean Penn makes his directorial debut with the Indian Runner, and shows that he’s got a lot of promise to work on, but also needs to know how to come up with better writing.

5.5 / 10

They don’t look alike, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Photos Courtesy of: Radiator Heaven

Cape Fear (1991)

Criminals never forget.

When attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) knowingly withholds evidence that would acquit violent sex offender Max Cady (Robert De Niro) of rape charges, Max spends the next 14 years of his life in prison. And of course, while in the clink, Max has been thinking about that decision each and every day of his sentence, while on the other side of the bars, Sam has been living life with his wife (Jessica Lange) and young daughter (Juliette Lewis), who seems to be getting more and more rebellious as the years go by. But now that the 14 years are up, Max is ready to extract some revenge right from the get-go. However, rather than just beating the hell out of, or better yet, killing Sam, what Max does is spend every waking moment of his life and dedicating it all to stalking Sam, his family, and especially his friends. To Max, no one is safe and after awhile, Sam starts to realize that he’s going to have to come to some pretty drastic decisions if he’s going to protect the lives of those that he loves and wants to keep alive.

Bad lawyer.

Bad lawyer.

There’s nothing like watching an insanely talented director have the absolute time of their lives. It’s like watching a little kid in a Toys R Us, but rather that kid being limited to only buying a few items, the kid’s allowed to have the whole store. They can do whatever they want, however they want, and with all of these wonderful, fabulous and great toys.

That’s what it’s like watching Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear; the kind of movie where a master of his craft knows exactly what it is that he’s doing, having a lovely time with it all, and is barely ever going to let-up. And honestly, when you’re doing a remake on an already-great movie, that’s sort of the way you’ve got to go – you can’t follow the same, beat-for-beat, note-for-note, track-for-track, but instead, amp things up a bit differently. You can focus on a different plot-point altogether, bring out more interesting ideas of the story that may not have been discovered originally, and basically do whatever else you want with the story, so long as you stay true to heart and soul of the original. So few remakes actually abide by this rule, but despite the changes in story and style that Scorsese goes through here, he still sticks true to the original with an eerie tone humming all throughout.

But what’s interesting is that it’s different this time around.

Scorsese approaches the material as if it was an over-the-top, wild, wacky, crazy and unpredictable adventure into one man’s psychotic psyche – someone who doesn’t seem to have a moral compass anywhere to be found and because of that, is taking out the nice, somewhat innocent people. The original touched on this idea, obviously, but Scorsese really hammers it in, allowing for the character of Max to be as depraved and as sickening as humanly imaginable. Sure, it’s campy, it’s wildly insane, and it’s really schlocky, but you know what? It actually kind of works.

A good portion of that has to do with Scorsese’s quick pace, but another portion of that definitely has to do with De Niro’s committed-as-ever performance. Of course, working with Scorsese brings out the best in De Niro, but here, it’s unlike how we’ve ever seen him before – he’s definitely flirted with the idea of being a villain in other flicks before and after this, but never to the supreme extent that he goes with Max. The movie does try some avenues to have us, in the very least, sympathize with him and his stance, but for the most part, the movie knows that he is a monster, and so does De Niro, which makes every scene in which he’s just acting like the creepiest, most erratic person around, so damn entertaining.

It almost makes you wonder where all of the inspiration’s gone in the past few or so years.

Bad housewife.

Bad housewife.

Regardless, Scorsese doesn’t shy away from letting the rest of the cast have their moments, too, especially since they also get to have some development and not just become a typical white, suburban, upper-class family who plays golf and tennis. Nolte’s Sam has got some dark issues to work with, Lange’s Leigh seems to be struggling in her own ways, Lewis’ Danielle, while most definitely a teen, is also a little bit smarter than we’re used to seeing with this kind of character, making her one key scene with De Niro all the more creepy, and Illeana Douglas, in a couple or so scenes, shows true fun and spirit for a movie that seems to enjoy her presence, yet, at the same time, remind us that there’s something dark and grueling really behind all of this fun we’re having.

In fact, where Cape Fear works less is probably in the last-half, when Scorsese really loses his cool here. In a way, Scorsese wants us to see Max as a sort of Christ-like figure which, for a short while, is fine and all, but by the end, becomes such a major plot-point, that it’s almost unbearable to sit and listen through. We get the point as soon as it’s mentioned, yet being that this is a Scorsese movie, faith must be driven into the ground and because of that, the final-act of Cape Fear feels more like wild and over-the-top symbolism, on top of symbolism, and less of a thrilling, compelling and wholly satisfying to a wild ride of thrills, shrills, and shocks.

Still though, it’s one of the rare remakes that rivals the original and how many times can you say that?

Consensus: Wild, a little insane, well-acted, and always exciting, Cape Fear is the rare remake that works just as much as its legendary original does, especially what with Scorsese seeming to have the time of his life behind the camera.

8 / 10

Bad criminal. Or is that sort of obvious?

Bad criminal. Or is that sort of obvious?

Photos Courtesy of: the ace black blog

The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Throw a football, solve a major scandal. Makes sense.

Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) used to be a first-rate Secret Service agent who, for one reason or another, got kicked off the squad. Nowadays, Joe spends his time as a work-for-hire private dick, who smokes a lot, drinks, sleeps in his car, has a kid that doesn’t respect him, and even worse, has a wife who is sleeping around. Basically, Joe’s life ain’t all that grand, but when a friend of his dies (Halle Berry), he can’t but feel inspired to figure out who did this to her and why. Another person who wants to find out the same thing is Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans), an ex-football star who has a tad bit of a gambling problem. Though the two don’t necessarily get along, they both feel the need to figure out just what happened and get the sons of a bitches who caused their friend’s death. However, what they soon find out behind the scenes, leads them to the shady people dealing with the professional football league, as well as the President of the United States.

That's Brucie for ya. Always protecting the kids!

That’s Brucie for ya. Always protecting the kids!

Shane Black can write scripts like this in his sleep. While the Last Boy Scout may not feature cops in the lead roles, it still features two people who are, in a way, supposed to be “buddies” in the buddy-cop genre. Black loves these kinds of stories and always adds a certain flair of panache and fun to them that even when they don’t fully deliver, they still like fun pieces of action-comedy, rather than just another waste of time. After all, a movie written by Shane Black is at least a few more times better than most of the action flicks we get out there, right?

And also, having Tony Scott in the mix as director helps out, but not as you’d expect it to. Sure, when the action is happening, it’s as frenetic and crazy as you’d expect a Tony Scott movie to be, but it’s the smaller, more quieter moments between the characters that actually work best. Obviously, this is definitely attributed to Black and his interesting way of writing likable characters, but it’s also a compliment to Scott for taking a step back and let the script do the work itself. Scott hasn’t always been known as the best director for drama or anything of that nature, however, here, he decided to take it easy and it pays off.

Which is great, because Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis are so good in their roles, as well as together, that it almost doesn’t matter how many scenes we get of them just hanging around and talking to one another, rather than just shooting stuff and killing people.

At first, it appears that Wayans isn’t going to handle Black’s dialogue so well, but after a short while, he gets the hang of it and needless to say, we get the hang of him. His lines actually turn out to be funny and even though he’s playing against-type here, Wayans still finds a way to break in that nice charm every so often. Sure, you could chalk that up to Black’s great screenplay, but you can also give some credit to Wayans for knowing just the perfect moment to remind the audience that he’s still Damon Wayans, and he’s a pretty charming fella.

However, Wayans is nothing compared to how great Bruce Willis is here.

For one, Willis seems perfectly tailor-made for this kind of role. He’s not just an everyman who has a certain set of killing skills, but he’s also just an ordinary guy who we’re getting to learn and know more about the flick goes on. Willis handles this dialogue oh so well to where, yes, he nails all of the humor that this character has, but he also gets the smaller, more emotional moments, too. He doesn’t overplay them, though, just as the script doesn’t; he keeps them short and subtle enough for a movie where there’s so many explosions and gun-shots that it doesn’t matter if characters exist in it or not. Why Willis didn’t work with Black on more projects, is totally beyond me.

If I had their recent track-record, I'd be slammin' the bottle pretty hard, too.

If I had their recent track-record, I’d be slammin’ the bottle pretty hard, too.

In fact, I’m pretty sure Bruce could use that now.

But if there is an issue to be had with the Last Boy Scout, as there is to be with most of Black’s screenplays, is that they don’t always know how to end well, or at all. In a way, it almost feels like Black starts off with something simple and understandable, but ultimately, gets bored and just wants to everything and anything come into play, regardless of if any of it makes any actual sense. While this is fine to have in an action movie, where no one really cares about believability or anything like that, after awhile, it sort of seems like Black’s either making stuff up, or just throwing whatever he can at the wall and letting stuff stick as they please.

Sometimes, it works, other times, it doesn’t.

However, at the end of the day, the Last Boy Scout is really just a fun action-comedy. Take it or leave it, I guess.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t always work, especially in the end, the Last Boy Scout is still a nice combo of Black’s hilarious script, with Scott’s wild direction, culminating in a fun movie, if nothing else.

7 / 10

"Hey, agent? Yeah, get me more movies like this. You know, the ones where I actually give a hoot."

“Hey, agent? Yeah, get me more movies like this. You know, the ones where I actually give a hoot.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, All Movies I Like

Frankie and Johnny (1991)

It’s always those ex-cons who will steal your heart away. Literally.

After Johnny (Al Pacino) gets released from prison following a small, but still effective forgery charge, he quickly lands a job as a short-order cook at a New York diner, where he hopes to not just get his feet back on the ground, but go back to living the kind of fun and exciting life that he was living before he was sent to the clink. And he finds that with waitress Cora (Kate Nelligan), who he actually has something of a brief fling with; while she wants it and expects it to be more, little does Cora know that Johnny wants Cora’s friend and fellow waitress Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer). Due to a long, checkered history with men, love and relationships, Frankie’s not all that interested in any of the advances Johnny makes towards her. While she finds him charming and handsome, she mostly wants to focus on herself now at this stage in her life, and not worry about somebody else tying her down. But eventually, Frankie gives in and decides to give Johnny a chance after all, which is when the sparks begin to fly and, all of a sudden, Frankie finds herself in something that she may not be able to get herself out of.

Oh, Al. So weird.

Oh, Al. So weird.

You wouldn’t know it or expect it, but Frankie and Johnny will sneak up on ya. While Garry Marshall has never been considered the most subtle director out there, he does something neat and interesting here with Frankie and Johnny in that he just allows for the story to tell itself out, piece by piece, little by little, so that by the end, we not only feel like we got the full story of these people, but also had a nice little slice of life that we may not have been able to get anywhere else. There’s a certain sense that Marshall enjoys these characters just as much as we do, so instead of rushing the plot and making everything seem like it has to go somewhere, Marshall takes a step back, relaxes and allows for everything to just speak for itself.

And also, for Al Pacino to ad-lib his rump off.

But hey, who’s better at ad-libbing and making stuff up on the fly than Al Pacino? Nobody, that’s who! While watching Pacino play around with this character of Johnny, you get the idea that he saw the script, saw it as another romantic-dramedy that women and their mothers will all go out to see, but also saw a sweet paycheck involved, so instead of passing on it, he decided to just have some fun. After all, when you’re as wildly talented as Al Pacino, who is going to tell you what you can and cannot do when it comes to how you approach a role?

Maybe Marshall had an issue with Pacino seeming as if he’s making everything up on the fly here, or maybe he didn’t, but either way, it kind of works. It not only adds a certain level of excitement and personality to this character, but makes him seem a lot odder than the script may have originally made him out to be. So rarely do we see rom-coms, or better yet, movies where one of the leads may not be perfectly sane; while they’re not clinically insane, or tearing at the walls, they’re still a bit loopy and seem as if they’re somewhere else completely. As Johnny, whether intentional or not, Pacino is able to make this seemingly ordinary character have a little bit of a personality that has him go far and beyond just another dude. He’s a bit off, he’s a bit cooky, but because he’s Al Pacino’s, he’s pretty damn fun and sincere, too.

That’s why, whenever he’s together with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Frankie, magic definitely occurs. Pfeiffer is a great actress and saying so isn’t all that ground-breaking, but it truly is great to see her take on a role that could have been so boring and uninteresting, if not given the right amount of tender love and care. Pfeiffer connects with some raw energy within Frankie, where we initially seem a quiet, reserved and seemingly tough girl who doesn’t care about those around her all that much, and doesn’t have any need for a man or love in her life. But as the movie rolls on, we get to know and see more of this character than ever before, and it’s these moments of sweet human emotion that really make Pfeiffer’s performance something great.

I'd take Hector as my boss any day of the week. Except for Fridays.

I’d take Hector as my boss any day of the week. Except for Fridays.

And together, yes, Pacino and Pfeiffer are quite solid.

I know I’m putting an awful lot of emphasis on the relationship and the performances between these two stars, but really, that’s all that Frankie and Johnny is – an opportunity to see a romantic-dramedy in which Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer act alongside one another. It’s enjoyable because they’re both great actors and it works as a romance because Marshall pays more attention to the smaller details of these character’s lives and makes us actually feel like we know them, as well as those around them. Even a few brief scenes with the wonderful likes of Nathan Lane and Hector Elizondo, while small in hindsight, do so much in making us feel like we are one step closer to these characters and the world that they’ve created for themselves. Everyone is just a normal, everyday person and it’s believable, as well as charming and breezy.

Sure, the movie gets darker and a lot sadder by the end, but it still works because it goes to show you that you don’t need to force the central romance down our throats to make it work. Sometimes, all you need is a good cast, solid attention to detail, and a believable bit of chemistry that can make it all come together.

Take notes, present-day Garry Marshall.

Consensus: With two great performances from Pfeiffer and Pacino, Frankie and Johnny rises above the usual romantic-dramedy threshold and is a lot funnier, sweeter and emotional.

7.5 / 10

It's love. Without cocaine. Or gangs. Or Tony Montana.

It’s love. Without cocaine. Or gangs. Or Tony Montana.

Photos Courtesy of: Gareth Rhodes Film Reviews, Fanpop, Living Cinema

Bugsy (1991)

BugsyposterBig-time gangsters need a little lovin’ too, people!

Benjamin “Don’t-Call-Me-Bugsy” Siegel was notorious for being one of the more profitable and powerful gangsters of his time. However, no matter how shady dealings he got involved with, no matter how many women he slept with, no matter how many people he killed, and no matter how much money he was able to gain, he still wanted to settle for a normal life, where he’d be able to come home to a loving, relaxing home where his kids, his wife, and their many nannies would be around, all having a great time. But it was a lot easier said then done, because of who Bugsy got in bed with – both literally and figuratively. On one hand, Bugsy was in business with the likes of Mickey Cohen (Harvey Keitel) and Meyer Lansky (Ben Kingsley), two notorious figures in the mob world, and on the other hand, had a lady that he could not stop falling head-over-heels for in Virginia (Annette Bening). Eventually though, Bugsy decides that he wants to open up a casino in Las Vegas, but because of the mess that is his personal life, it starts to leak into his professional one, which ends up impacting his life and putting his name in the history books.

"I ain't cryin'!"

“I ain’t cryin’!”

Ever since Goodfellas came around and hit the big screens, the gangster film sub genre shook up quite a bit. No longer did we have these slow-burning, dramatic stories about gangsters’ plight and emotional problems that they constantly have to get through. Now, the stories were quick-as-a-button, fast, and always compelling, even if the characters themselves weren’t the most morally responsible people around. That’s not to say that in the time from the Godfather, to 1990, that there weren’t any solid gangster flicks being produced – it’s just that most of them seemed to be rolling the same way, without any one’s in particular identity being singled-out from the rest of the group.

Bugsy is, despite coming out nearly a year after Goodfellas, feels like that same step back.

Which, I guess, is sort of the point. Director Barry Levinson and writer James Toback seem to want to adapt Bugsy Siegel’s story in the same vein as a film would have been made back in the 1920’s. That is to say, everything looks great, sounds great, and feels great, but really, at the center of it all, isn’t all that much to really get involved with. It’s as if Levinson and Toback set out to make a party-of-a-flick and just like an actual party, when the alcohol dries up, the band ceases, and everybody leaves to get on with their real lives, there’s nothing really worth holding onto other than the good time everyone just had.

Bugsy, the movie, feels like the party ended awhile back and now we have some dude moping around and whining about he doesn’t get the respect he deserves because, well, he’s a gangster. However, he’s not just any gangster; he’s the violent one who goes around, shooting and killing people for supposedly robbing him, in front of dozens of others. And this isn’t a problem; that Bugsy is a bad guy who goes around, making shady dealings with all the more shady people, killing whoever he needs to kill, screwing whatever dames he sees fit, and earning as much money as humanly possible, makes the film something of an enjoyable watch.

But the fact that the movie tries to make Bugsy out as some sort of sympathetic figure, doesn’t really work. Not because it’s a disservice to this character in the first place, but because it never feels right or genuine. It’s as if Levinson and Toback were so entranced with the legend of Busgy, that they forgot that maybe all of those people he killed, probably didn’t always deserve it. Still though, we hardly ever see the movie trying to make an actual flawed human being out of Bugsy – he’s still just a dude who makes a lot of money, cheats on his wife, and kills whoever gets in his way of more money.

You know, what we always want with our nice guys.

This is all to say that because Bugsy himself is so unlikable and morally reprehensible, no matter how hard he tries to go “legit”, makes the movie feel like a bit of a slog. We get countless scenes where Bugsy seems to be doing certain things that only benefit himself and honestly, it’s hard to ever care; though we know how the story ends, there’s still no tension or anticipation in how he makes these deals come to fruition. We’re just sitting around in our underwear and Cheetos-covered t-shirts, watching as some handsome ladies-man make more money than we can ever dream of.

Just pull the trigger already! Make things interesting!

Just pull the trigger already! Make things interesting!

Is it ever fun to watch? No.

Should it be? Well, as Scorsese showed us, it sure as hell can be.

And even despite the cast’s many attempts, Bugsy never materializes to being much other than just a biopic with limited heart and humanity. Warren Beatty fits perfectly as Bugsy, but also seems like he’s doing the same kind of role he’s inhabited before, except this time, just as a notorious figure in mob history. Annette Bening seems to be having fun as Virginia, Bugsy’s lover, and actually steals a few scenes away from the rest of the dudes around her. It’s probably no surprise that Beatty and Bening share wonderful chemistry here, but really, they’re what saves this movie; you believe every second that they have together. Whether it’s fighting, banging, loving, and/or talking, you believe that these two would fine one another, fall in love and try to make ends meet for the rest of their days together.

Though I think Bening and Beatty’s real life love story will have a better ending than it does here.

Consensus: Despite it looking, sounding and featuring pretty people, Bugsy never makes a strong enough case for giving its subject a two-hour-long biopic with the heart and compassion of a rock.

5.5 / 10

Nice car. Nice guy. Nice, aw who cares.

Nice car. Nice guy. Nice, aw who cares.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

The Fisher King (1991)

Have to look out for them homeless. They can improv with the best of ’em.

Shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) is at the top of his game; rich, famous, loved by almost everyone, has a few possible TV-deals in the pipeline and does whatever he wants, because he, quite frankly, thinks he’s the man. However, after he incidentally spurs on a caller to commit a killing spree, Jack is absolutely shocked and retreats from the spotlight. Three years later, he isn’t doing so well and is spending most of his time drinking, working in some low-rent, rental video store (it’s the 90’s), and, occasionally, pleases his loving, yet annoyed girlfriend Anne (Mercedes Ruehl). That all changes when, late one night in a drunken stooper, Jack is almost killed by a bunch of punk kids who have nothing better to do than pick on homeless people. That is, until he’s saved by a lively, eccentric homeless man with a big imagination who goes by the name Parry (Robin Williams). Though Jack initially doesn’t want anything to do with Parry, he soon realizes that the two may be connected moreso than he could have ever originally imagined and Jack decides to stick with Parry and see if he can turn both of their lives around.

I must say one thing off the bat: This isn’t my first time seeing the Fisher King. It may be the first time seeing it and actually liking it, but overall, it’s maybe my second or third, and from what I can recollect, this movie and I don’t have the best relationship. However though, due to the recent tragic news of the passing of Robin Williams I decided, “What the heck?!? It’s on Netflix for Chrissakes!”

And while I’m not the least bit happy Williams is gone from our screens, as well as our lives, I am happy to see a film of his that reminds us all why he was such a lovable presence to watch in the first place.

"You don't know who I am? I'm the, aw, forget it, man!"

“You don’t know who I am? I’m the, aw, forget it, man!”

That said, Williams isn’t the only good thing here; he’s only one piece to a very large, very strange, and very manic puzzle. The one putting all of those pieces together? Director Terry Gilliam who, if you don’t know already, is a guy who has a rather strange style. Mostly all of his movies, in one way or another, take place in some sort of fantasy-world, however, it’s how he spins those stories to make them not only touch your everyday movie-goer, but even those who don’t really care for his fantasy films, or fantasy films as a whole in general.

That sad-sack person would normally be me, but somehow, that all changed here. Gilliam’s style didn’t bother me here, mostly due to the fact that I was happy to see him take an honest, down-to-Earth story about two people helping one another out, and only using the fantasy-sequences to express what it is that’s going on in one of those particular character’s minds. Therefore, they feel less showwy, as if Gilliam himself can’t wait to show you what a big, brave and creative mind he has in that big ol’ head of his, and more in-tune to what it is that this story is trying to get at here – which is how everybody blocks certain things out of their heads, just so that they can make more room for the happy, pleasing stuff that we don’t harp on as much as we should.

Sounds quite sappy and movie-of-the-week-ish, but taken in the context of this movie and the way Gilliam allows his character’s to speak for themselves, it feels as honest and as raw as any drama out there. Of course, this isn’t just a “drama” through and through; there are plenty of elements of comedy, fantasy, and a psychological thriller tricking on through and while it doesn’t always work, it’s at least a bold move on Gilliam’s part to at least try with it and come out on top, more times than not. Gilliam’s full of plenty of bold moves here, but where he really nails it is in just giving us a simple tale of two people trying to help one another out, and by doing so, helping those out around them as well.

Some Gilliam die-hards may consider this “too weak” or “ordinary”, even by his standards, but I feel like it’s the kind of movie he had to make, just to show us that yes, he has an ounce of humanity inside of his soul and yes, he does know what it’s like to just pay attention to his characters. Sure, the moments where we see mystical creatures roaming the streets of Manhattan may be a tad cool to look at, but they don’t add to much; what does add up to a whole lot are the characters and how we see each and everyone of them grow and continue to do so over the time we spend with them. Time which, mind you, is two-hours-and-20-minutes, yet, breezes by so quickly, you’ll hardly ever notice.

Jeff Bridges has been one of those actors who, it doesn’t seem to matter how many great movies a year he does, he just never gets the love, adoration and notice he wholeheartedly deserves. Sure, he won the Oscar for Crazy Heart some odd years back, but that isn’t anything compared to the kind of work he was putting in some, odd ten/twenty years before. And one of those great performances of his is here as Jack Lucas; a shock jock made in the same vein of Howard Stern, yet, has some level of a conscience that makes him worth being invested in. Because lord knows, if we didn’t at least feel like this Lucas guy had some level of sympathy located in the pit of his stomach, then there’d be no reason for us to really care about his character, his plight, or even what he aspires to do.

It would have just been watching a dick head, try not to be a dick head, even though we know whole well that he’s just that: A dick head.

The perfect date, in the eyes of one Terry Gilliam.

The perfect double-date, in the eyes of one Terry Gilliam.

And even if that is the case, Bridges plays him so well that we do begin to see little shades of who he really is start to come out and it’s hardly ever tacked-on or unbelievable. There’s a belief in the way Lucas really wants to help out those around him who deserve it the most, which makes it all the more sad to see what happens to him when he realizes that, sometimes, you just have to give up and let others do their own thing and live their own lives. You can go your whole entire existence, trying your near and dear hardest to make those around you feel better as good about themselves as you do about you, but in reality, not everybody wants that. Sometimes, they just want to be left alone to do their own thing and live their own lives, without having to swat a helping hand every second, of everyday.

Which is why, at first, Williams’ Parry seems a whole lot like a bunch of crap that a screenwriter would just cobble up together to make some of us love him automatically, but as time goes on and we start to see and understand more about Parry, who he is, who he was, and why he’s in the state that he’s in now, there’s a certain connection we build with this guy. He’s happy just being him and even though that does mean he constantly smells like garbage and having change thrown at him and his little coffee cup, he doesn’t care. He’s just a guy who wants to keep on living the life and being happy about all of it.

He’s the perfect character for Robin Williams to play and it’s no shock to anyone to find out that he’s great in the role. Say what you will about his whole, joke-a-second-act, when the man was on fire, there was nobody better. Here, as Parry, he gets a chance to not only be his own, manic-self, but even reveal more beneath the facade as well that, believe it or not, does resemble something of a human being. By now, we all know that Williams was capable of acting like a real person, and much less of a wacky and wild wildebeest who could never switch the “off” button, well, on, but to get a chance to see him juggle both aspects of his acting is a testament to the kind of performer he truly was.

And that’s not to discredit anybody else in this film; especially not the ladies of the cast. Amanda Plummer is suitably weird and quirky as the object of Parry’s affection, and Mercedes Ruehl absolutely deserved the Oscar she got for her work here as Anne, Jack’s no-nonsense, yet, incredibly lovely girlfriend – but it’s Williams and the show he’s able to give us that ends up striking the final note, making it the hardest and most felt one.

Exactly how he would have wanted it, too.

Consensus: Gilliam’s direction doesn’t always work, but when he’s paying attention to the cast and the humane story in the middle of the Fisher King, it’s an emotionally satisfying piece.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Go get 'em, tiger."

“Go get ’em, tiger.”

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Barton Fink (1991)

Started the whole, “What’s in the box?” idea, way before “What’s in the box?” became a pop-culture sensation.

Barton Fink (John Turturro), an acclaimed playwright, is asked to come out all the way to Hollywood, despite his own, as well as his agent’s reservations toward that line of business. When Barton does get to Hollywood, not only does he go through an incredibly terrible case of writer’s block, but everything else around him seems to be falling apart and not making a single-lick of sense, either. But that’s why he has a good buddy, in fellow neighbor Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) to keep him company and most of all, keep him sane. Eventually though, Charlie’s word begins to crumble down, piece by piece, as well,  and Barton starts to realize that maybe Charlie isn’t exactly who he seems to be at all. Hell, he may not even be real.

People, people, people! It’s time for me to reveal to you all a deep and dark secret: I still don’t get this movie. I know, it’s been three years since the last time I actually sat-down and watched this movie, didn’t know what to make of it the first time, wrote a crappy review of it, posted it, advertised it and forgot all about it. However, three years later, something hit me in the head and made me realize that maybe now that I pay attention to movies a lot better and understand more, maybe, just maybe, this movie will have as huge of an effect on me as it seems to be having on every single-person who has ever watched?!!??! Ehh, then again, maybe not. But at least it tried and made me like it a lot more than last time.

Exactly how I feel when watching a Coen Brothers movie: Scared, worried, interested, but also left in the dark.

Exactly how I feel when watching a Coen Brothers movie: Scared, worried, interested, but also left in the dark.

The Coen Brothers have never really made it “their thing” to go out there, write movies and absolutely confuse the hell out of people with under-lining themes and symbolism. A lot of their material has twists and turns you don’t expect, and sometimes, feature shifts between genres, but they never have really pulled anything where it made me scratch my head. They are sort of straight-forward directors that tell straight-forward stories, yet, are very complex in their own right. This one is by far their most complex and I think that’s with good reason because the Coens have something to talk about and finally have the chance to be taken seriously.

And for the most part, being taken seriously is something they didn’t have to worry about being absent from their future because this movie definitely shows that these guys got something “going on” in terms of originality. The story starts off pretty simple, and then gets a bit weird, then weirder, and weirder, and weirder, until you have no idea what the hell is happening. But through it all, you can tell there are buckets of inspiration streaming out from the pores of the Coens, that just comes with them working their rumps off. You never know where this story is going to go with itself, or why, but that’s sort of a good thing because it added to the unpredictability of it all and made the ride through this guy’s wacky brain all the more entertaining and intriguing to be apart of. Never have nervous-breakdowns been so much fun to watch.

Now, aside from what the Coens do with this flick, I do have to say that there is some stuff here that I still don’t get, but also still don’t feel like I have to. It’s late right now as I’m typing this review and in all honesty, I’m probably going to go to bed after this, which really means I’m not going to get to read, each and every single line and detail of this movie on it’s Wikipedia page. I kid you not, you go on over to that link right there and just gaze at how freakin’ long that page is! Seriously, I mean, I thought I thought about this movie a bit too much, but hell, it seems like I didn’t think of enough because everybody else in the world was going bonkers over what the meaning was behind that mysterious mosquito.

I like films that make me think more than I’m expected to, I do, but this film seems like it has a bit too much going on with itself to the point of where not only did it lose me, but loses itself a tad as well. Let me get something straight, critics freakin’ love this movie and hail it as a masterpiece and I know exactly why: Filled with allusions to other works, symbolism out the wazoo, makes fun of Hollywood, all while focusing on about 3,000 different themes of the human-condition and themes of that era. That’s the sort of stuff that critics “get” and absolutely love (no offense to my fellow homeboys out there), and it’s no surprise that most of this film flew over my head, as well as most of the regular-viewing audience that was probably expecting the Coens to comeback with guns, twists, turns and a bit of bloodshed. Some of that does eventually happen, but in a more “intellectually sound” way, to be exact.

But being a “critical-darling” isn’t the best thing in the world to have, and that’s where it hit me that this film may have thrown out more than it could have held. The Coens definitely have a sharp-ear for dialogue that interests the hell out of you and visual-tricks that catch you off-guard, but this story and what it’s trying to say really takes away from all of the beauty here. I get that Hollywood blows and it’s very hard to get a script financed there because how everybody’s so tight and strict up there. Don’t worry, I got that part, more than a few times. However, right when I thought I wanted a new theme/idea for the Coens to bring up, I wanted to go back to the whole Hollywood-angle, mainly because the Coens started throwing all of these other ideas at the screen, seeing what would stick and what would fall without anybody noticing, since because they are, you know, THE Coen Brothers. Some characters will bring up the war, some will bring up homosexuality, some will bring up the common-man and others will just bring up drinking and having a good time and all seem like meaningless, small-talk, written by guys who know how to do it compellingly, but it just becomes a total cluster-fuck of ideas that are never drawn-out well-enough to fully have everybody’s attention and have us understanding everything, either. Then again, it’s always a refresher to get a movie that doesn’t always spell-out everything for ya and at least allows you to do some of the brain-work on your own time.

Usually, the sight of John Goodman walking towards me would make me smile with glee, but with the flames in the background: Eh, not so much. I'd just run.

Usually, the sight of John Goodman walking towards me would make me smile with glee, but with the flames in the background: Eh, not so much. I’d just run.

I just wish my brain didn’t hurt so much right now as we speak and while I type this. Ouch!

Even though he’s the guy that gets caught up in all of this craziness and rubble, John Turturro still comes out unscathed and does a magnificent job as Barton Fink, if not giving one of his best performances ever here. What makes Fink such an interesting character from the start, is that the guy is a bit of a weirdo, but he’s just like you or me: He’s talented at something so much, that he’s going to venture out and see if he can make a living in the big-leagues. I know everybody wants to do this and that’s what makes it so cool how Fink is just ready to get started right away as soon as he gets the call. Then, we start to sympathize with Fink as time goes on and things start to get weirder and weirder for him, but Turturro never loses that edge that makes us like the guy so much in the first place. Turturro is great here because he keeps this character worth watching, even when Fink himself may not make the best decisions. However, it’s just what makes him a person. Loved watching Turturro in this because the guy just continued to get crazier and crazier, but as he was, he was also getting more believable and sane, if you can believe that or not.

John Goodman plays the friendly-as-heaven neighbor of his, Charlie, and is just a ball to watch on-screen as you couldn’t have asked for a more lovable guy to play a lovable character. Goodman has this look and feel to him that just makes you feel at home whenever he shows up here, automatically making the flick better and liven things up with this story, as well as Barton himself. He and Barton have a nice friendship that starts off well and believable, and never loses that aspect as  the movie continues on. The way they talk, interact and make each other feel (not Brokeback Mountain-feeling, neither), without having to worry about all of their troubles out there in the real world, it all just felt real, despite all of the nuttiness surrounding it. They are just two dudes, who met one another and are now just hanging out whenever they can. It’s so fun to watch and it’s also definitely one of Goodman’s best performances, as well.

However, as much as Turturro and Goodman may be the two main stars here, they don’t steal the show. The real one who steals the show the most in this flick is Michael Lerner as Jack Lipnick, the head-honcho at Capitol Pictures. Lerner has three scenes that probably each last about five-minutes each, but he makes every single second count and is just so much fun to watch as he brings energy, bombast and creativity to a role that could have easily just been a bunch of “Hollywood sucks” cliches thrown right at the screen. Obviously Lerner left a big enough impression because the guy was nominated for an Oscar, but still, that doesn’t matter; because without him, this probably wouldn’t have been as smart or entertaining of a take on Hollywood than it already was. But, once again, trust me, it’s not Hollywood they just talk about here. Just check that Wikipedia page again if you’re at all interested and want to stop reading my rants and raves.

Consensus: No doubt about it, people will forever be scratching their heads and wondering just what the hell is up with Barton Fink, but you still can’t deny that it’s entertaining, interesting, original and a very well-acted piece of work that keeps your brain working the whole time, even if you do end on a bit of a question mark.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

If only Jersey beaches were this calm, peaceful and poetic.

If only Jersey beaches were this calm, peaceful and poetic. Damn you, Wildwood!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Father of the Bride (1991)

Now I definitely know how crazy my old man will get during my sister’s wedding, if she ever has one.

Steve Martin plays George Banks, the befuddled father who has a hard time letting go of his daughter (Kimberly Williams) when she unexpectedly announces her plans to wed.

It seems like when it comes right down to it, weddings are basically a pain in the ass and if you have one, it’s going to cost you a shit-load of moolah. Just ask Steve Martin.

The plot here has that fluffy and really cheesy themes of growing up and being happy with your loved ones that are about as true as the letters on a $2 Hallmark card. The film tries really too hard in getting us to have us touched by everything that’s going on and quite frankly, I just couldn’t help but laugh at all of the cheese I was hearing from this script.

Since this essentially a remake on an old classic that I still haven’t seen, there are a lot of references and homages done here to the screwball comedies of the past. You have a “Bringing Up Baby” as a total clue, and the use of old school poppy songs (“The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” “My Girl,” etc.) all are there but seem totally forced to give you this feeling of just being laid-back and having a grin on the whole entire time, when in reality, I just wanted the schmaltz to end.

However, the film does actually have some funny moments and moments that are actually somehow touching. It’s great to see the image that George Banks has of his kid as she was once all young and little, going from braces to push-up bras, and little scooters to a Cadillac, and now she’s finally going to live on her own and be a grown-up just like him. This was brought up a lot, almost too much at some points but I think that this film shows a touching look on what the relationship between a father and daughter is and how it’s a happy but also kind of sad moment to see someone who seemed so little, be a biggy kid now.

The film also would be nothing if it wasn’t for Steve Martin in top-form as George Banks. Martin has a lot of those great slap-sticky moments that he always does so very well but it’s also the looks and emotions on his face throughout the whole film that really keeps you laughing. You can always tell just what Banks is feeling at every moment throughout the whole film and it’s really great to see Martin be able to milk up this material the whole time even though it does get terribly cheesy by the end.

Diane Keaton isn’t really given much as his wife, Nina, but it’s still great to see her around as well; Kimberly Williams is good as the daughter, Annie, and has a lot of good emotional moments as a girl who’s basically coming to cope with the fact that she’s not a little kiddy anymore; it was also great to see Martin Short in an extended cameo role as Franck, the wedding planner, and has some goofy accent the whole time but still very very funny in his own way. Such a shame that he and Martin are kind of stuck to doing nothing now.

Consensus: The comedy and touching moments are there enough to put a grin on your face, but Father of the Bride has so much schmaltz, cheesy lines, and forced moments of emotion that it sort of takes away from all the pleasant moments this film has. However, Steve Martin among others is still game and pull it off very well.


Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Poster to the right: just another sign of how awesome this film is.

A bigger, better Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is gunning for a shape-shifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick) who’s out to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong), the son of Sarah (Linda Hamilton), the original Terminator’s nemesis.

After watching T1 and realizing that it’s still one bangin’ sci-fi action film, I realized that this one is not only bangin’ as well, but one of the best sequels of all-time.

The story is the same thing again but the catch here is that Arnold is the good bot this time around and the villain is a dude, who’s body is made liquid metal which practically makes him invincible. This is what leads into plenty of robot vs. robot action sequences, which are just freakin’ awesome,

Writer, producer, and director James Cameron makes everything work amazingly well here because he just has that perfect sense of style and taste to make almost every single piece of his film work. Each action sequence is about 25 to 30 minutes long but each one is better than the last one that came before it and as the bullets get blown, death rates go up, and cars go BOOOOOOOOM it never feels dumb. This is just action that is meant to be here in this film and that’s what makes it really awesome.

The special effects that were ground-breaking at its time, still actually look a lot better than some of the big-budget, 3-D piles of junk that we have come out nowadays. The morphing sequences that the metal dude does is totally cool to see and I wonder how cool it would have been to just have seen all these special effects happening at once. A very good movie to look at I must say, which is something not said much about action films.

There’s also some very good moments of humanity within this film that actually work when they do pop-up but my problem with this film was that there wasn’t enough of that which may seem a bit odd and strange to say about a film about two robots beating the shit out of each other. There is a powerful message about life and humanity in the end but it’s not actually brought up that much throughout the whole film to actually have a huge effect on you when it’s over. This may seem like a dumb complaint but I think with just a bit more human scenes, T2 could have actually been one more step above your ordinary action flick.

To say the least, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the freakin’ man in this film as the good Terminator now. Although he may not be able to keep it in his pants in today’s world, Arnie at one time owned just about every single action film he showed up in because he has that muscular body that fits so well, that blank stare that just scares the shit out of you as soon as you see it, and that same tone he uses for almost every scene and made me totally believe him as a robot. It’s crazy to think that we’re talking about the same dude who’s “The Governator of Kellyfornia” but he is just the freakin’ man no matter what and this film is the perfect example as to why.

It’s a shame that the rest of the cast didn’t actually do much after this, and right here may have been their only real shining moments. Linda Hamilton does a total 180 from this perm-wearing, cutsie bootsie 80’s gal to this totally spiked-out, G.I. Jane looking figure and she does a great job with it too but she’s rarely ever seen in today’s world of Hollywood. Edward Furlong is good as lil’ John Connor and got arrested awhile back for releasing lobsters from a seafood restaurant but he was in American History X so that kind of makes up for it all. And Robert Patrick, as the bad Terminator, is good here but shows up here and there but most famously in that train-wreck they call, The Marine. Basically, John Cena sucks.

Consensus: Terminator 2: Judgment Day may have needed more human moments to convey that emotional depth it wanted to, but the action is amazing, the visual effects will have your eyes pop-out even today, and the stylized direction from James Cameron make this one of the best sequels of all-time.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Jungle Fever (1991)

At least Spike Lee doesn’t totally hate white people.

Flipper (Wesley Snipes) is a successful, married architect. Angie (Annabella Sciorra) is a temporary office worker. When they meet, it’s Jungle Fever. Also, Flipper’s crack-addicted brother (Samuel L. Jackson) causes many problems as well.

Writer and director Spike Lee is a man who is most known for being very controversial with the things he has to say, and here he really talked about something that was actually kind of taboo way back when.

The one thing that Lee does so well here is create a script that shows two different races view points on the same subject of interracial dating and how everything all these people say only pops up when the actual idea of having this kind of dating is heard of. Lee brings up points that most just use it out of curiosity, and while both races don’t hate one another, blacks and whites still have problems when it comes to sex and how we don’t know how to be sexually intimate with each other.

It’s great to see and hear Lee hit this film with such honesty because we see both sides basically talk and there’s no real right or wrong side here, this is just basically two sides voicing their opinions on what they feel is the truth about interracial dating and the races. Lee is masterful here at bringing up these points as well as never fully telling us what we should and should not know about each race. I guess that’s something we have to do when it comes to being sexually attracted to another race.

Lee has a great script here but his problem’s lie within his direction because even though he shies away from the constant cliche romantic scenes once this couple gets together, Lee shows how both races feel which worked in it’s advantage for the most part. However, the problem is that we never actually see these two together too much and when we do the chemistry is just sort of piss-poor. It would have been a lot better if we saw how two actually felt for each other while all this craziness from everyone around them was going on.

Another problem here is that the film has way too many random sub-plots that by the end of the film kind of give it that cluttered feeling to the point of where the ending is actually a lot weaker than it could have been. The film also goes from character to character with no real idea as to who it wants to focus on the most and rather more about just being able to voice all of these other people’s opinions on the subject of interracial dating which made it seem more about the countless other characters that supported this story, and totally getting rid of the relationship that practically is the reason for this film.

Wesley Snipes is good as Fluffy Purify, but the problem with this character is that he is either incomplete as a character or just a total jerk that deserved all this bad crap to happen to him after this relationship starts. I don’t know what Lee was trying to show here but despite how much Snipes tries, this character just wasn’t that likable and a bit naive actually. Annabella Sciorra is also good as the smart-talking, and charming Angie Tucci who brings a great sense of likability to her character even though she is almost an unknown by the end of the film by how much they barely don’t focus on her. There’s also some very good performances from the likes of Spike Lee himself, Anthony Quinn, John Turturro, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Lonette McKee.

However, everybody in this film is actually over-shadowed from the amazing presence of Samuel L. Jackson as Flipper’s crack-addicted brother, Gator. Every time this guy is in the film he just totally lights up the screen (pun intended) and it’s just Jackson’s approach to the role is what makes it incredibly likable, a little funny, and kind of sad by just how messed up this guy really is. If you think about it, there’s actually no real purpose for Gator to be in this film but Jackson makes him incredibly watchable and is just a great performance all-around.

Consensus: Much more could have been focused on the actual couple as opposed to the numerous side characters and subplots the film also showed, but Jungle Fever shows Lee swinging for the fences and giving some frank and brutally honest talk about sex, race, and just how do we separate love and sex. A flawed film but still very well-made.


Point Break (1991)

Surfers that rob banks.

To nab the culprits behind a string of bank heists, brash young G-man Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) poses as a wave rider to infiltrate a group of surfers who may have pulled off the robberies in this high-speed cult favorite. But after gaining the trust of the gang’s charismatic leader (Patrick Swayze), Utah gets swept up in their heady lifestyle — and is soon forced to decide where his loyalties lie. Gary Busey plays Utah’s testy partner.

That premise right there makes this film seem like a parody of itself and one that isn’t to be taken too seriously at all. But after two viewings already, this guilty pleasure never stops to entertain.

I might just have to point it out right now because in case you couldn’t tell already but this film is pretty cheesy. The dialogue here is all that macho, hammy bullshit that we hear in plenty of film’s that just drip with cheese and a lot of the time you’ll actually find yourself laughing at parts you really aren’t supposed to.

I mean for a second let’s think about this for a second, there’s this cop named Johnny Utah who basically learns how to surf, within a day. I don’t understand that one and neither do I understand the idea of the masks for the bank robberies considering you probably can’t see too well with them on anyway. I don’t know little stuff like that was pretty dumb but I think after you read the premise you’ll come to expect that already.

However, if you can get past all of that, this is a bangin’ film for many reasons, but the main one being director Kathryn Bigelow, who is yes, a chick. Bigelow knows how to film action the right way because she gives a lot of great scenes that are full of tension, style, and just overall bad-assness. I still don’t know what to call this; either a heist film, action movie, or a thriller, but if you look at it, you can also call it the first “extreme sports” movie that was ever made really.

There’s a couple of cool action sequences such as a chase scene through the under-belly of L.A. which was pretty cool, two awesome skydiving sequences, and a shoot-out scene that really has nothing to do with the plot, but still awesome. The action here is all-over-the-place but at the same time totally awesome because even though the dialogue and script may be terrible, the action will hold you over by how intense and stylish it looks.

Now when it comes to the acting it’s pretty good because the two lead actors they have here are just so cheesy, that it’s actually awesome. Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah (seriously?) and does his usual act where he says all of his lines with that “I don’t really know how to read my lines” voice, and that total over-play of some pretty bad jokes. However, I don’t really think Keanu is a bad actor because the one thing I will say about him is that even though he isn’t good by any real means, he still hasn’t gone around saying how good he is, or how he deserves an Oscar so badly. So for the most part, Keanu isn’t that bad here and he’s not really bad overall, just lame.

Patrick Swayze is always amazing in everything he does and he plays the surfer guru named Bodhi. Swayze just dreaps with coolness and honestly it may seem like I’m totally over-exaggerating a role about a surfer dude but Swayze plays him so well and has us love him but at the same time not know if we can actually trust him. As always, Swayze never stops to impress. Let’s also not forget that we have Gary Busey trying to play the steady FBI agent to Reeves’ wild-cat persona. It’s not that believable but Busey just fun to watch here and really made me laugh at times I didn’t expect to.

Consensus: The script is pretty horrendous and has it’s fair share of cheap, dumb lines, but the action is awesome, the story gets more fresh as it goes along, and the acting is actually pretty good for what it’s worth eventually adding up to a great guy’s movie directed by a woman.


Thelma & Louise (1991)

A message to men everywhere: treat your women well, otherwise, they’ll go on a crime spree.

Fed up with her boyfriend, live-wire Arkansas waitress Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) persuades her friend Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis), a naïve housewife burdened with a negligent, sexist husband, to hit the road with her for a simple weekend of freedom. But after accidentally killing a man, the two friends wind up outlaws blazing a cathartic trail across America.

It’s funny to see that the director of macho-dude hits such as Gladiator, Black Hawk down, and American Gangster, Ridley Scott, can make a film about two chicks on the run and it still be pretty cool.

The best thing that Scott does here with this direction is bring a lot of fun energy here. The plot is contrived, but the things that actually happen on this trip are pretty fun, and at times unbelievable but somehow Scott makes it all work with his heavy-hand of style. Scott keeps the action going at a nice pace and still allows time for these two characters to talk and actually be developed which is the least we could say for many other road movies.

The writing is also pretty good too with a lot of funny little moments of wit but also a great deal of reality that this film shows too. You may think it will hit the conventions of your ordinary road movie right off the bat, but it stays different and fresh somehow mainly because it’s script knows how to even out both comedy, drama, and some really fun action. Instead of these two ladies just roaming around the place, going crazy, and shooting people, we actually get some real poignant moments where these two just need an escape from their real shit-hole lives, and are just so happy to branch out of there boring days of just doing work, making dinner, and practically doing nothing new all day. This film showed that it wasn’t just the guys who could have all the crazy action fun, the girls could play just as harder also, which is also something very revolutionary about this film as well.

However, as inspirational and fun as it may be, some of it still feels a bit dated. There were moments where I listened to what these chicks said, and just thought to myself: “why are they saying that?”. Then, I actually realized that this film just wanted these two girls to say something naughty, or rough to be cool. Also, not every guy in the world just pops an automatic boner as soon as they see two women. I mean I understand that there are freaks out there, but this film really showed that almost every guy is a sex-freak that wants anything they can get right away.

My other problem with this film is probably the last 15 to 20 minutes, which would also include the ending. The whole time this film sort of fought against the convention of your ordinary action/road movie, but then somehow all the crazy car chases, and guns blowing up came out of nowhere, and thus, we had ourselves the same old action/road movie.

The ending was also very controversial at the time, but for me, I liked it. I thought it summed the whole 128 minutes I just watched pretty well, but the problem with the ending is the final shot. The final shot which many know, but I still won’t give away, should have been left on the screen longer than it was on. Scott faded to the happy-go-lucky montage/end credits way too quick for the audience to actually sink in what we just saw and then it’s impact is almost forgotten and lost. I know this may seem crazy to be pissed off about, but when I saw that ending I noticed some real problem with that.

These two gals also probably give their best performances to date. Susan Sarandon is awesome as the tough-as-nails, but also determined, Louise Sawyer and shows that she has that look that will make any man shriek once they see it. Geena Davis is also very good as the ditzy, but also very kind-hearted, Thelma Dickinson. Both of these great actresses work so well together and their chemistry builds up even more and more as the film goes on to the point of where you believe these two as friends. Not a moment with these two felt false and that’s what these two greats bring to the screen.

Let’s not also forget this was the first introduction into the hunk that they call, Brad Pitt as the sly and mysterious drifter, J.D. He has great scenes here as well and shows that he really was bound for greatness after all. The only thing he would have to do was take his shirt off, and he had no problem with that here.

Consensus: Thelma & Louise is guided by a great direction from Ridley Scott who has an even better script that knows how to balance out comedy, drama, and action very well with two great performances from David and Sarandon. However, by the end, the film starts to fall into convention and the last shot of the film feels too rushed off the screen, and therefore loses the whole impact that I felt I was going to have from this film.


Rush (1991)

Should have just watched Cops instead.

Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh star as undercover narcotics agents who become lovers when they partner up to infiltrate the Texas drug scene and bring down a suspected drug lord (Gregg Allman). But as their relationship intensifies and they become increasingly dependent on each other, they have difficulty resisting the temptations of the world they’re trying to subvert … and soon, their drug use becomes more than just a cover.

I wanted to like this, but the writer and director seem more intent on showing drug use and depicting the characters strung out in scene after scene than to tell the actual story: NARCs getting caught up in what they’re trying to stop. I don’t know what happened to me during this film but I just didn’t like it at all. This movie at times comes across as an outrageous PSA or an online criminal justice class with a bad teacher. I don’t know what happened to me during this film but I just didn’t like it at all. The main problem with this film is that nothing really happens here, other than a bunch of drug use and people crying over their addiction.

Very little of the film is focused on the actual investigation. They explain what might happen, then skip that scene entirely. The point that’s arrived at in the film is confused at best and stupid at its worst. All of the cops/investigators are weak and ineffectual, while the drug traffickers noble and wise, always one step ahead.

There was also no character development at all here and that’s why watching these characters do nothing but drugs and cry about it, started to really bother me. It’s over two hours so you would think that there would be some compelling material here to hold you over, but there’s not really. Just drugs, drugs, crying, and more drugs. Also, this was advertised as a crime action film, where there is only about 2 scenes of actual guns being fired.

The one thing about this film that made it suitable was the rockin’ soundtrack that featured many great classic rock artists. The score is done by Eric Clapton, and his slide “Texas” style guitar doesn’t fit well with this film and makes it seem more of a melodrama, but I have to say that a lot of the other songs here were awesome.

The performances from these two are good, but their both not really doing much here other than what I mentioned before: drugs and crying. Jason Patric is good as Jim Raynor although we never understand as to why he does all of this stuff that he does to himself. Jennifer Jason Leigh is also good as Kristen Cates and saves the film sometimes from when this film starts to wain on. Gregg Allman is here as the villain Will Gaines, and doesn’t really do much other than be some big hippy in a cool-looking suit. Pretty laughable if you ask me. Sam Elliot is always good and he is a saving grace here.

Consensus: Rush is not what it’s title says it is. It’s slow, boring, melodramatic, and features little or no character development for a story that is all about two characters practically crying and fighting over drugs.


Beauty and the Beast (1991)

No matter how old you get, this movie is always awesome.

In this modern-day Disney animated classic set in 18th-century France, young Belle yearns to escape her ordinary existence — and her village’s boorish suitors — until she becomes imprisoned in the mansion of a hideous, coldhearted beast. Can Belle help the monster revive the man within?

Here’s a movie I thought I’d never watch again, probably because I’m a “Man” now, hence the name of the website, so it’s kind of a surprise this got to me. Somehow, this was on numero uno on my Netflix queue, so when this came to my house unexpectedly I was shocked, but also happy because now I could watch an old animated classic, that I loved as a kid, and still loved as a “Man”.

I think the real heart of this film is the emotional weight within the story that rings so true. As a kid, I understood what the movie was doing, but now as I’m older you really do understand what the film is saying, and it’s all so true. Beauty is within. It’s not all about appearances, or popularity, because sometimes even the craziest of humans can be the sweetest, and sometimes most lovely of people. The message of this story rings true no matter how old, or young you are, but not so much for me, since I’ve always been sexy.

The music here is also a great addition to this film as well. There are certain classics here such as the hilarious “Be Our Guest”, “Gaston”, and of course the enchantingly beautiful, “Beauty and the Beast”. All the musical numbers here are perfect, and add so well to the romantic side, as well as the humor that comes so well in this film. It also will help that these tracks will be stuck in your head long after the film is over, but that isn’t such a bad thing, since it’s all great songs here.

I must also say that I loved the fact that this is your basic animation, from the days of when people actually used to draw these scenes, rather than having the help of those damn computers. It was great to see how beautiful these certain details to setting, and the overall design looked and to know that is was all done by a human being. Still about 20 years later, it still looks utterly beautiful and knocks certain 3-D animation picks in today’s world, right out of the park.

There was one problem with this film that I had, and it was probably the fact that it was very very short. It has probably about a run-time of 90 minutes, which is short and sweet to an extent, but the love between Belle and the Beast almost feels a bit rushed, and could have used a bit more scenes of development. However, this isn’t a huge complaint, and after all, I could just be a nut ball about this.

Who can’t forget the characters to this film as well? Belle is such a nice sweetheart, that she’s easily likable upon the first 5 minutes, and the Beast is pretty cool, once you get to the core of his character. These two create a sweet romance, that really is an iconic message about the extents romance has with certain people. Let’s not also forget other amazing characters such as Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and of course everybody’s favorite villain, Gaston. Not a single bad character here, and I liked how everyone had a nice moment of comedy to them.

Consensus: Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful and true-tale about love, acceptance, and the real person within humans. However, the beautiful animation, and musical numbers still work, and are just about as fresh as they were 20 years ago.

9/10=Full Price!!

The Prince of Tides (1991)

Could Streisand really save your life?

A Southern schoolteacher, Nick Nolte travels to New York City and unloads a lifetime of horrific, repressed memories to a psychiatrist (Barbra Streisand) in order to help save his suicidal sister.

I think this is one of those movies where you’ll either love it, or you will absolutely hate it. But as for me, I was just in the middle of it all.

Seeing that this is directed by Barbra Streisand, your first idea would probably to run, and avoid this film at all costs. However, I was surprised by how she handles this material because it’s actually a good movie. I liked the emotional scenes that this film brought up about a broken childhood, and some of the more touching scenes are handled well. There were real issues in this film that were talked about and handled carefully, but well also. The look of this film was beautiful as well, some sights here will have you totally surprised that out of all people, Babs shot this.

The problem with this film was that I think it relied too much on the romance rather than the story behind it all. I wish there was more scenes pertaining to Nolte’s character’s childhood, because when they were talking about it, or showing scenes of it, I found myself totally attached to the screen as well as the story. Other moments, especially by the end, start to step into glossy soap opera romance that in ways is actually pretty cheesy. The cliches at the end made cringe by how incredibly obvious and cheesy the lines were, but it didn’t bother me as much. I think the reason I wasn’t so pissed off about how the film starts to kind of fall by the last act is because it is directed Barbra Streisand, and I wasn’t expecting something as good as this. It may not be perfect, but for Babs, it’s a damn masterpiece.

Nick Nolte probably gives one of his best performances of his career here, that actually won a Golden Globe over Anthony Hopkin’s famous work in Silence Of The Lambs. Nolte does a great job creating this lovable, goofy guy that has some shadows from the past, as everybody does, but how he goes about his days and time are just so perfect. Nolte makes us laugh, and he almost had me crying at one scene that really does show how good of an actor he really is. Poor guy, he just had to get that mug-shot didn’t he! Barbra Streisand is alright in this film as his lawyer, though I felt like she was trying a bit too hard in the second half of the film. I liked their romance, and I actually did believe it, which really did attribute to this film. There is also a very good supporting performance from Kate Nelligan, who plays Nolte’s mom and does a good job with the limited screen-time she is given. Also, the late, great George Carlin as Nolte’s New York neighbor, who happens to be gay. CLASSIC!

Consensus: The Prince of Tides may dive into some cornball material, and miss the mark as a romance drama, but it shows that Babs can direct a film well, with some emotionally true scenes, and good performances from the cast, especially Nolte.


The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Another Tony Scott film that blows. How am I not surprised?

Bruce Willis stars as Joe Hallenbeck, a down-and-out private detective forced to team up with a disgraced pro football quarterback (Damon Wayans) to uncover a conspiracy engineered by a crooked politician and a corrupt football team owner.

This film cause quite an uproar back in the day, when the script from Shane Black, sold for about $1.75 million. That surprises me because I do not know who would want to pay that money, for this crap.

I will not lie, this film actually did start off pretty well for about the first 20 minutes. There was a lot of humor, fun action, and the plot was some what original. But then something happens out of nowhere. We start to dive into a weird plot, that just gets weirder, and weirder for no reason. The beginning was really lame, and right as you see it, you’ll think the same thing.

Usually when it comes to these action thrillers, I can take them if they are formulaic, as long as the action is good, and the script is alright. The action in this doesn’t save this movie from being the same old crap I’ve seen time and time again. I’ve seen all this action before, and it’s not even cool, just a cheap, and lame excuse to let Tony Scott blow shit up.

The script from Shane Black is somewhat alright. There’s a lot of those corny one-liners you would expect from a 90’s action/comedy, but the best scenes I think are when it’s Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, just talking about everyday things. There performances are good, and in a way, they have that obvious chemistry that these films always build on, and when they talk about family, love, or just problems they have, it all feels real, and somewhat fresh. However, we don’t get enough of this, and therefore the film is brought down a whole lot.

Consensus: Some parts are nice, mainly the average script, but the action doesn’t save this generic, corny, and dumb action/comedy.


Nothing But Trouble (1991)

Yeah this really is some trouble!

Stock market millionaire Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) and investment lawyer Diane Lightson (Demi Moore) are headed to Atlantic City when they take the wrong exit off the New Jersey Turnpike. A local cop (John Candy) stops them for speeding in a curious town, where they’re brought before 106-year-old Judge Alvin Valkenheiser (Dan Aykroyd). But the old man’s punishment turns out to be as bizarre as he is.

The Oxford English dictionary needs to get to work inventing new words to describe how bad this movie was. Honestly, the film was advertised as a comedy, and that scares me cause it shows that the English language is running out of things to say.

The film has so many scenes where all these crazy ass creatures just pop out of nowhere. First-time director Aykroyd honestly rips off every single movie that has a creature or some disgusting thing in it, and puts them in this film which just really ruins that legacy.

Not only is the film very very unfunny but the look is just so depressing as well. Nothing looks bright or happy in the film, it just looks at dark and gllomy where nothing fun happens at all.

I feel bad for the cast who had to actually star in this, but even for anybody that watches this it is just really a chain wreck that shouldn’t be watched by a single person if they want to live a happy life.

0/10=Stay Away!!

Hudson Hawk (1991)

I really wish I didn’t have to take time out of my life and watch this, honestly.

This Bruce Willis vehicle puts its star in the shoes of Hudson Hawk, a skilled cat burglar who times his robberies by singing show tunes. After being released from jail, Hawk wants to do nothing more than hang out in cafés, but criminal financiers Darwin and Minerva Mayflower (Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard) blackmail Hawk into one last job — stealing a Leonardo Da Vinci device that turns lead into gold.

This film tries so so hard to be different. With its little gags, unrealistic happenings, and over-zealous characters, the film tries to act so zany and goofy that you have got to like it. too bad that is not the idea here.

I mean I understand the reason for being over-the-top, but come on, you can’t be this crazy. I mean they have the crooks singing while taking away the painting from Da Vinci. I mean stop singing and get the freakin’ picture, and get on with your lives.

The writing starts off from zero, and barely ever makes that attempt to get themselves out of that slump. There wasn’t one line in this film that I actually found humorous. The people actually watching this film will just feel so distant cause we never really know who these characters are, and why they say the things that they do.

Willis is the man! But cannot do anything to get rid of the bad taste in this film. Everybody in this film seems like their just trying one-up each other and make the other one seem less funny by their own little speech. None of this works and it just ends up turning into complete and utter junk.

Consensus: Willis tries, but Hudson Hawk is horribly and confusingly written, characters that aren’t interesting, and a plot that tries so hard to be different but fails and ends up just being plain stupid.

0/10=Stay Away!!!!!!

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

I feel like I’ve been watching a bit too much Van Sant.

Gus Van Sant’s indie hit hones in on the friendship between Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves), two hustlers living on the streets of gritty Portland, whose relationship stumbles when they hit the road to find Mike’s mother, and Scott falls for a woman. Scott’s lifestyle is his way of embarrassing his rich, oppressive father, while Mike is a narcoleptic who’s in love with Scott but maintains he’s straight.

Gus Van Sant is known for making great portrait at how the human emotions all work. However, with this one he really digs into just the emotions of these two and how they feel, even when one is narcoleptic.

The gritty look is what makes this film legit. These are two hustlers living on the streets, and getting money from clients that are even dirtier. I found myself memorized by how this gritty look wasn’t just realistic, but actually made me feel like I was with them when filming was going on.

My Own Private Idaho is a lot of things, and one of them is a comedy. Van Sant has a sly off-beat sense of humor. They use this ability with its timing, in order to frame a dramatic scene so that its not only seen as serious but sometimes strangely funny and odd. There are little elements of dark humor, as with Phoenix’s’ character is always falling asleep throughout the whole film.

This film is also a lot more complicating than others of this nature. It moves at a very slow pace, and never really picks up steam with its character flow. They talk constantly, and also River whenever he does it is only for a short amount of time, cause then he falls right back asleep. I also felt like these characters needed more explanation as well as the decisions. I wanted to know these characters more and more, but was never really given that opportunity since we just find out that they are only hustlers.

The characters also have a willingness to live and be free with themselves. We can feel that not just every scene is divided into the points that had to be made, instead they are made as in a way that they feel like their living, and basically doing nothing. Most scenes went on longer than we expected, and I liked that cause really that’s what happens in life.

River Phoenix gives the greatest performance of his sad and short career. He plays this character with such more depth than what he was given and there are just a countless number of scenes that make me so upset knowing that he had such great talent, and sadly that is all thrown away. Keanu Reeves probably gives one of his greatest performances of all-time too, and builds that beautiful chemistry he and Phoenix build together on film so beautifully.

Consensus: Though it may be very challenging for some, My Own Private Idaho is well-directed, superbly acted, and gives us a realistic and look into the mind, body, and soul of these two characters.