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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Aidan Gillen

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Where’s those Knights of the Round Table?

After the murder of his father (Eric Bana), young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is sent off, via boat, to an island where whores and crime run wild. However, Arthur gets going with it all pretty quick and soon, he becomes the smartest, craftiest, and trusted people on the island that, practically, everyone is asking him for their help, in any way that they can. But there’s a reason for why Arthur is the way he is – he comes from royalty, yet, doesn’t know what it is, what it feels like, nor does he actually want it. He’s actually pretty pleased with his life and doesn’t feel the need to up-end it, only until he discovers that his power-hungry uncle Vortigern (Jude Law), who also killed his father, is looking for him and needs him to pull the Excalibur sword from stone. Arthur eventually does and leads to all sorts of action and violence that both sides will compete in until their deaths, but also know that there’s more to being a king, than just having power and fine jewelry. There’s also this thing called respect and honor, and stuff like that.

Just look at that get-up! Clearly the baddie!

King Arthur is a movie that a lot of people will, and already have started to, hate. This isn’t to say that those who don’t like it, aren’t wrong, because in fact, they’re probably; the movie is loud, dark, brash, stupid, random, nonsensical, and downright weird. But sometimes, can’t there be fun had in all of that?

See, Guy Ritchie is the kind of director who seems to take on anything he wants, so long as he can put his own little cool, suave stamp on it. It’s why his early movies, the Sherlock Holmes‘, and even Man From U.N.C.L.E. have worked so well for him, because he was able to do something neat and different with these pieces of work, and make them entirely his own. And yes, it also helps that Ritchie’s style, while definitely show-offy, is still fun to watch and brings a certain amount of energy.

Then again, maybe that’s just for me.

See, the first ten minutes of King Arthur are just so odd, slow and boring, that it made me want to check out very early on. But then, out of nowhere, Ritchie’s style kicks in, where everything’s quick, a little dumb, loud, and random, making it feel like we were watching Clash of the Titans, only to then change to channel to 90’s MTV. It’s silly, of course, but it works in moving this flick forward when in all honesty, other films just like it would have kept a slow, leisurely pace for no reason.

Does it totally work? Not really, but it does help keep the movie fun at times when it shouldn’t be. For instance, Ritchie makes Arthur and his cronies as just another group of his usual rag-tag bunch of gangsters, stealing, lying and killing, for their own gain. Granted, Arthur’s supposed to be the hero here, but listening to him and his pals telling a story, or better yet, a bunch of stories all at once, is quite entertaining.

Once again, this may all just be me, but for some reason, King Arthur was a little bit of fun for me.

The issues the movie seems to have is in making sense of its story, which is why, for two hours, the movie can be a bit long. There are times when it seems like even Ritchie himself can’t make sense of the story and why Arthur matters in the grander scheme of things; certain supernatural elements with witches, eagles, and bugs, all randomly pop-up and are supposed to mean something, but they really don’t. The movie hasn’t really told us much about it, other than, “Oi, yeah, this kind of stuff can happen.”

Poor Eric Bana. The man can just never catch a break.

Can it, though? I guess, and it’s why King Arthur, while clearly not a perfect movie, also seemed to need some more help on the story, even though it took three writers to apparently bring it around.

Still, King Arthur provides enough entertainment when it’s needed and it’s also nice to see the ensemble here having some fun, too. After the Lost City of Z, I began thinking of whether or not Charlie Hunnam was actually a good actor, or if he was just another good-looking guy, who also happened to be able to read lines. Here, I think he fits Arthur quite well; he gets to cool, calm, sophisticated, and a little arrogant, which, if you’re someone who looks like Hunnam, it probably works, and it does here.

Even Jude Law gets to have some fun as Vortigern, although he never quite gets the chance to go full “villain”. Sure, he kills innocents, gives people the bad eye, and yes, even scowls, but there’s never any key moment where it feels like the man is as despicable and as evil as he probably should have been. He’s basically just the Young Pope, but instead of preaching and having weird sexual feelings for nannies, he’s actually killing people.

So shouldn’t that make him more evil? I don’t know, either way, Law deserves to be meaner and badder.

Consensus: While it is no doubt a flawed, odd and at times, random piece, King Arthur also proves that Guy Ritchie’s hip and cool style can still work, so long as it isn’t being depended on to help out with the story, or other things that matter to making a good movie.

5.5 / 10

He’s still deciding on what accent to use, or if to even have one at all.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Sing Street (2016)

Start a band. Score chicks. Live your life. Be cool forever.

Growing up in Dublin during the 80’s can be a pretty rough time, especially if you’re Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Conor doesn’t look as tough, or nearly as masculine as the other boys, so he’s constantly teased and messed with for that reason; his parents are on the brink of divorce; and his older brother (Jack Reynor), when he isn’t spouting witticisms about rock ‘n roll, sits around the house, smoking. Conor doesn’t really know what he wants to do with his life, until he meets the vivacious and lovely Raphina (Lucy Boynton), an older, but totally cool chick. While Conor doesn’t know if he has a chance or not, he decides to find some buddies, start a band, and start making music videos, considering that it’s the thing to do around that time when people like Phil Collins and Duran Duran were owning the airwaves with these pieces of art to accompany their music. Of course, he wants Raphina to be in the video, which she’s more than happy with, but also doesn’t want to lead Conor, because after all, she has a boyfriend and he’s very confused about what he wants in life. However, it’s the music that gives him an idea and help him through even the roughest and toughest times in his teen life.

That's how the magic starts. Two dudes, a guitar and some cheesy lyrics about love and heartbreak.

That’s how the magic starts. Two dudes, a guitar and some cheesy lyrics about love and heartbreak.

With Once, it was interesting to see how writer/director John Carney was able to carve-out a musical, out of realistic situations. Budding musicians would meet on the streets, or in stores, sing songs about heartbreak, love, life and all that good stuff, and because the music was so strong, the singers were so good, and the lyrics were so heartfelt, it didn’t matter how cheesy it would be. In the world that Carney makes, you believe it because it is at least based in some form of reality that, yeah, even if people do walk around, singing to one another, it’s still at least somewhat believable, and, believe it or not, lovely to listen to.

With Begin Again, Carney sort of lost himself a bit. While the cast and the music was strong, the movie itself was so sentimental and sappy at times, that I wondered if I was watching a Spielberg flick. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fine movie that I much enjoyed listening to afterwards (Adam Levine’s songs were pretty great), but it was placed in such a fictional and almost incredibly unrealistic world that it was sometimes too hard for me to take seriously. The gritty, raw and heartfelt position he took with Once, was somehow lost in the wind, only to have cheesy Hollywood sentimentality take over.

However, with Sing Street, Carney somehow bounces back to the world he once knew and worked with, even if, yes, some things are a tad cheesy and unbelievable.

Most importantly though, you can tell that this is a story that’s close to Carney’s heart and soul. While it’s not known how much of this is autobiographical, you still get the sense that Carney is writing and portraying a time of his life that he looks back on with pleasantness, as well as some sadness. He misses feeling like a young teen who was absolutely willing and capable of taking on the whole world around him, regardless of if anybody wanted to listen to him in the first place.

Also, you get a sense that, through the songs, Carney is really working through all of the genres and styles that showed up and were the bee’s knees during the mid-to-late-80’s. Through Conor, we see him take on new wave, and punk, and soul, and even pop, to where he’s writing awfully catchy songs and coming up with even more inventive and neat music videos, some of which are so funny, entertaining and kitschy, that you can’t believe anybody would be able to make it all up, let alone a bunch of angsty teens.

But still, in the world of John Carney, it somehow works.

But it's okay, 'cause you'll get all the cool girls.

But it’s okay, ’cause you’ll get all the cool babes.

Not only do the songs work and are more than likely to get in your head, they also tell us more and more about this character that go past and beyond just him being sad, or mad, or lonely, or happy. We get a few dream-sequences in which Conor thinks about the life he wishes he had, especially when it comes to music, where everyone loves him, wants to be him, and most importantly, his family is all happy and back together again. However, at the same time, the sad realization of the real world kicks in and it’s sometimes heartbreaking to see his tender soul hurt and ruined, even if you get the general idea that’ll get better for a good-looking, incredibly talented 15-year-old such as himself.

After all, if he continues to write as good as songs as he’s been writing, he’ll be able to do anything he wants.

That’s why, as Conor, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo does a pretty solid job giving us a real, understandable teen who doesn’t always do or say the right things, and yes, may be definitely confused about what he wants with his life, but who isn’t at that age? When you’re 15, the only thing you want is to be heard, understood and respected amongst your peers and taken in as a adult, even if, you know full well that won’t happen. Conor’s the kind of protagonist in a story like this that we can all relate to and enjoy, even when it seems like he doesn’t have the full picture in his head. But that’s okay, because you know what? He’s 15-years-old and he’ll have plenty of time to make up his mind.

As for everybody else, they’re all pretty charming and lovely, too, even in Carney’s world of cuteness. Lucy Boynton is gorgeous, but also kind of sweet as the tortured and sad Raphina; Aidan Gillen plays Conor’s dad who may or may not be a dick, but always says what’s on his mind; and Jack Reynor, in an absolutely scene-stealing role as Conor’s older brother, gives us the kind of heart and soul a movie like this needed. Reynor comes in every so often, smoking weed or tobacco, says whatever’s on his mind and, occasionally, teaching Conor a life lesson that he can learn to live by and make better decisions with. However, the movie doesn’t overdo this character and it’s why, if anything in this movie does feel real, it’s him. He helps Conor become more of a man than anyone, or anything else in this movie, and he’s the kind of character that you could meet in real life, love and want to hang out with, time and time again.

Even if it is Jack Reynor and the dude is probably very busy and doesn’t have time to spend with you.

Consensus: Even if its set in a world of unrealistic proportions, Sing Street is still sweet, earnest, and heartfelt enough that it works as a lively, if immensely entertaining coming-of-ager, with great songs to back it all up.

8 / 10

"Hey, teachers! Leave those kids alone!"

“Hey, teachers! Leave those kids alone!”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Calvary (2014)

Catholicism is still “a thing”? Could have swore Kabbalah was going to take the world by storm.

Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is the priest of a small town in Ireland. He’s a stand-up guy who gets a joke quickly, has a daughter (Kelly Reilly) that he loves and cares for so very much, has a past that’s none too pretty, and is always there to try and make those around him happy. So when he hears somebody utter in confession that they’re going to give him a week, until they take him out to the beach and kill him, it’s a bit of a shock. However, that’s sort of the point as the killer states that they want to kill a “good priest”, rather than a bad one who did bad stuff like rape, or any sort of sexual abuse. Though Father knows who this person is, he doesn’t spill the beans and instead, lives this whole next week of his life, as if it was his last. Because, hell, it might as very well be.

And if you want to have some fun with that plot-synopsis up above, you can include the term “drinking beer”, at the end of every sentence because it totally fits. It’s a movie that takes place in Ireland, a very poor part of Ireland to be exact, and well, features a whole lot of drinking, smoking and dancing, like all Irish men and women are known to be doing. Take it from one, will ya?

"Say your forgiveness, one more time."

“Say your forgiveness, one more time.”

Anyway, what’s so interesting about this movie isn’t the premise (although it comes pretty close), it’s more in watching how each and everyone of these characters in this small town, interact with one another; particularly Father Lavelle. And because he is our center-of-command for the movie, we spend time with him and see everything he sees, encounter who he encounters, and goes through whatever he is going through at that particular time. It’s a necessary move writer/director John Michael McDonagh needed to pull off, because in order to get where this character is coming from, we’d need to see what it is about him that makes him such a likable guy.

Well, for starters, it’s the fact that it’s Brendan Gleeson playing him. I don’t know if any of you know this by now, but Brendan Gleeson is a big, lovely guy, no matter what the movie it is that he shows up in. Here, as Father, he gets to show that warm charm we all know and love him for, although, this time, it may be a bit darker. This character is a very broken and troubled guy, but what he does best is that he never throws his problems onto those around him. He’s the one there for the listening, so he’s going to keep on doing that, no matter how many church-goers it has him lose.

So yeah, Gleeson’s great as Father Levelle, but it’s also the rest of the cast that’s pretty phenomenal as well; which mostly has to do with the fact that, in the way they are written, they have a sort of one-note personality, but use it so well that it hardly ever seems to be poorly-written or lazy. Most of them just seem like real people you’d meet in a small, Irish town like this. Presumably getting absolutely wasted at the local bar, but hey, that’s what one expects in Ireland, right?

Playing Father’s confused, near-suicidal daughter is Kelly Reilly and she’s a lovely little gal, showing that there’s more to her than just a possible basket case; Chris O’Dowd plays a joking-butcher whose wife sleeps around on him; Isaach de Bankolé plays the man who she’s sleeping with; M. Emmet Walsh plays a very old, nearly-senile old man; and Aidan Gillen plays a doctor that doesn’t believe in God, and even if he does, he doesn’t think he’s not all as nice as he’s been made out to be in other pieces. The whole supporting cast is great and show up every so often, work with this script, make it funny and liven the tone up, because once it gets down and out, there’s hardly ever a moment for it to come back up and alive, and waiting for us to smile and jump for joy because of it.

Which is to say that it’s bleakness is what actually bothered me. And I’m not saying that in the way that it made me want to stopped being so depressed, but I’m saying that because, after awhile, the movie only seems to go one way. Early on, there was a nice juggle between comedy and drama, but later on in the movie, the drama took over and it got darker and darker with each and every second.

"No more killing, son."

“No more killing, son.”

But I didn’t know why? I understand that John Michael McDonagh wanted to present a portrait of a better, more friendlier-version of the Church and the fathers who work their butts off everyday just to make sure we’re happy with who won American Idol. And he keeps at this for quite awhile, but eventually, it makes you wonder, why so bleak to begin with? Better yet, why did the ending have to be such a drag to where it felt like it deserved the constant clock-checking. Not to say the later portions of this movie are even bad, it’s just that when this movie has a clear idea on its head, it goes for it and doesn’t really change things up.

Which is a bit of a shame, because the first-thirds of this movie is pretty funny. Even if the situations they were thrown into, or talk about, that may have seem dark, the movie still found a way to rub its comedic-bone off of all of us. It’s what you’d expect from a movie by the brother of the writer/director of In Bruges, but it’s something I’d also totally expect from a group of Irishmen.

By the way, the drinks are on me.

Consensus: As it gets deeper and deeper into its own mystery, Calvary loses its meaning, but for the most part, because of the well-written characters and wonderful performances from the ensemble, it mostly works.

 7 / 10 = Rental!!

The redder the hair, the more related they have got to be.

The redder the hair, the more related they have got to be.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Shadow Dancer (2013)

The Irish don’t just get drunk and start bare-knuckle boxing, they actually plant bombs under cars too.

Single mother Collette McVeigh (Andrea Risenborough), lives with her mother and IRA brothers in Belfast during the 90’s, when politics and the rest of the economy clashed. After a failed-attempt at blowing up a train station, Collette is taken in by a MI5 Officer named Mac (Clive Owen) who gives her two choices: either fight the defense, go to jail for 25 years, and lose sole-custody of her son, or, work with the officer in finding the main culprit in these bombings and attacks. Collette decides to go with the latter, but it does come with its perks.

Thrillers like these are usually my favorite cups of tea, because they never really dleve into what makes thrillers so popular. Rather than just giving us all of the action on a silver-platter filled with guns, girls, car-chases, blood, and violence, we get plenty of chatting, exposition, coffee dates, and secret meetings that are usually handled with an exchange of papers with a stamp that says “CONFIDENTIAL”. That’s how I like my thrillers, but rarely do you ever get to see them because let’s face it: the average, movie-going audience isn’t too concerned with a bunch of people staring and talking, they want to see explosions!! And those types of people aren’t wrong to want that, but for some of us, we prefer it when a movie takes it’s near and dear time with it’s story and doesn’t get right into all of the action the most-conventional way possible. However, in some cases, it sometimes helps.

This is one of those cases where it definitely would have.

Same look throughout the whole movie. Ruffled-up tie and everything.

Same look throughout the whole movie. Ruffled-up tie and everything.

Director James Marsh seems to take all of his documentary-chops, and bring them to an actual narrative-flick very well, where we follow this story from point-A, to point-B, with just about enough information and details laid-out for us on the ground, so that we can make up our minds on and see what we can get through. However, not everything you need to know about this story is told to you at first, or even, hell, the whole movie. Sometimes, there are elements to this story that are only alluded to and briefly hinted at, but overall, left to make up for our own minds which I actually liked.

I like it when a movie doesn’t talk down to me and at least respects the viewer for who they are, and what they are able to comprehend. If you think about it, the audience that is going to go out and see this movie, is seeing it for a reason, so treat them like they deserve to be treated. Let them make up their own minds, build up their own ideas, and then, get ready to shock them as you tell them what’s really going on. For the most part, that is the idea of film making that Marsh seems to be having the most fun with, and absolutely revels in the idea of building and toying with suspense, and the format it usually comes in with films like these. Plenty of times, I wondered to myself just what was going to go down next, how it was going to happen, and why, but it never really got to that breaking point, and that’s where I feel like this movie loses some of it’s ground.

There is such a thing as to when a film is almost “too subtle for it’s own good.” This is one of those glaring-examples. Like I mentioned before, everything that you are supposed to know about this story is told to you to right away, but not all of it. That allows for you wait for some mysteries, some tension, and a whole lot of guessing to go down, but it also makes you feel as if you are missing out on a big chunk of this story that should have really made this more than just some story about a chick who rats on her boys.

The idea of there being some sort of “attraction” between Mac and Collette is mentioned, oh so briefly in the movie that when I first heard it, I didn’t really think much of it nor did I care. However, later on in the movie once things got a bit heated, then it comes up again, but this time, it’s more obvious and front-and-center. It was strange to see because the movie never really made much of an effort to go that way with it’s story, nor did it really seem to do anything for the movie either. It just sort of happened, as if Marsh needed to add some more dramatic-heft to the proceedings, because the idea of having this chick constantly not know when she’s going to be caught for being an informant wasn’t enough.

In that essence, the movie struggled for me and once the final twist was brought to my attention, I somehow lost all feeling for these characters, this story, and what was really going. That’s not to say that this movie isn’t good in the least bit, but at the end of the day, you do still feel as if you’ve been a bit cheated out of something that was so damn promising and so damn tense in the first place. Why they had to screw with it all in the beginning, I’ll never, ever know.

"No, no, no! I will not fall for you devil-ish, British charms!"

“No, no, no! I will not fall for you devil-ish, British charms!”

But what I do know is that this cast does all that they can to not only keep this material alive and breathing, but very interesting as well. After showing up in the big-budget, sci-fi fest Oblivion, Andrea Risenborough seems to really want to make a name for herself, and I think she should because what we have here is a girl that has that distinctive look and feel to her, that seems very naturally-gripping, right as soon as you see her. In this movie’s case, we first see Risenborough walk through a subway as she contemplates where to put a bomb of hers and how to get away with it. The scene itself isn’t just tense because we don’t know what’s going to happen next, but because of the sure-look of desperation and worry on her face. The ladies got plenty of skills to make any character she plays work, but also give us the chance to do what we can to reach out to her and see if she’ll return the favor. She sort of does, however, that’s more of because of Risenborough and her ability as an actress, and less of how the character was written.

Clive Owen is also another one that’s willing to give us that look of a dude who’s always tense and determined, no matter what it is the hell that he’s going through. Granted, his own story of being lied to by his boss is a bit annoying as it constantly intercepts all of the mystery that’s surrounding Collette’s story, but I will say that Owen always makes it a tense and fulfilling watch because the dude knows exactly how to make a character work, even if he doesn’t give him much of a personality. What you do know about him is that he’s a dude that does his job, and will protect this girl at any costs. Sounds like a nice guy to me, doesn’t it?

Also, we need more of Gillian Anderson! Seriously, ever since the last X-Files movie, this chick has been M.I.A. Come on back to the real world, Scully!

Consensus: There is a great sense of palpable tension and intrigue in Shadow Dancer, but most of it is undermined by the fact that there isn’t much else really going on here, and if there is, the movie doesn’t seem too concerned with telling us at all. Just wants to keep us in the dark, for the sake of doing so.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"So, anybody catch the game?"

“So, anybody catch the game?”