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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Alicia Silverstone

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

All family’s are screwed-up.

Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon living in Cincinatti and not having to worry about too much. He loves his wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman), and their two children, Bob (Sunny Suljic) and Kim (Raffey Cassidy). Both of whom are getting a little bit older so they are starting to show some signs of rebellion, but nothing too much. When he isn’t performing surgeries, however, Dr. Murphy normally spends his time with Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor’s life in many ways. At first, it’s just casual hang-outs that no one feels weird about, but then, it begins to change and Steven has to soon try and cut the chord between him and Martin. However, this decision results in some awful things happening to his family and it’s now up to him, to not just make a choice, but think of the rest of his life, in retrospect.

Ascent into darkness. That works, right?

The Killing of a Sacred Deer proves, once again, that when it comes to building and creating worlds/universes full of our weirdest imaginations, co-writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos really can’t be stopped. Mostly all of his movies, while obviously taking place on planet Earth, all seem to live in these sort of odd realities, where people act, speak, and get by in randomly weird ways. Whereas the Lobster was literally about a whole world being changed, the Killing of a Sacred Deer still takes place in our day-to-day world, where single people aren’t being turned into animals, but instead, people say and do weird stuff.

And unlike the Lobster, the Killing of a Sacred Deer is a pretty downtrodden and dark movie. Whereas the former was much more comical in its darker-efforts, the later is an out-and-out horror flick that feels a little smarter and interesting than that genre usually represents. Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou don’t really seem to be making fun of anyone, or any one thing in particular, but instead, showing us how humans act, when their backs are up against the wall and have to think quickly, and in ways, correctly.

As you can tell, I’m being very cagey about what this film’s actually about and what it’s premise eventually turns into, but that’s for a good reason: It’s best to see this wide eyes and ears.

But that’s also one of the main issues that seems to be holding the Killing of a Sacred Deer back: That it’s almost too much plot. After the first hour or so, once Lanthimos has built-up his characters, the conflicts, and the world in which they live, he sort of just sits there and lets it all play-out, rather than just going from one plot-point, to another. In a way, the Killing of a Sacred Deer ultimately comes down to being about one situation, but stretched-out to a whole hour and you can start to feel it; it’s still compelling and interesting to see just where it all goes, but mostly, it also feels like it’s just another case of Lanthimos loving his creation too much, he never wants to leave it.

Instead, he lets it settle, which can sometimes make the movie feel like a slog, especially when it shouldn’t.

But still, Lanthimos gets by on never letting loose of the tension that it’s in the air and because of that, the movie is always worth watching. You never quite have an idea of where it’s going to go, how dark it’s going to get, or even who’s going to be alive by the end of it, and that makes Lanthimos one of the far more dangerous directors out there. It’s something that we don’t too often see in modern-day cinema and it’s why it’s nice to see Lanthimos get some mainstream exposure, so that he can continue on his awfully deprived and sickening ways.

How envious I am of that perfectly bushy beard.

It’s also nice to see Lanthimos play with the big-leagues because he also gets the chance to work with an incredibly talented ensemble. Colin Farrell, returning for another outing with Lanthimos, works very well as the tight, straight-laced everyday man, Dr. Murphy. Farrell’s Irish, in case you didn’t know, but he’s always had to hide it in American-accents – but as Dr. Murphy, he’s Irish full-and-through and it’s kind of jarring. But hey, it also kind of works. We’re never explained too much about his backstory, or why an Irish doctor is over in the states, with a wife, kids, nice house, and seemingly never lost his accent, but that sort of stuff doesn’t matter because when it comes to playing slow-burning nuts, Farrell’s one of the best. He’s so devoid of any personality, that it’s almost funny and it’s why Farrell works so well here.

Same goes for Nicole Kidman who, once again, seems to be playing another suburban mommy with darker-edges surrounding her. But really, it’s Barry Keoghan as Martin who steals the show, seeming as if he’s just another sweet, rather innocent kid, who may also be something of an evil, despicable psychopath. There’s always questions surrounding him and his relationship to this family, which also works in favor of Martin who never seems to tell us exactly what’s on his mind, or what his next bit of action is going to be, but man, it’s so hard to look away from him.

Sort of like all teens out there, am I right?

Consensus: Less comedic than Lanthimos’ previous-ventures, the Killing of a Sacred Deer is also a tense, upsetting, and incredibly well-acted look at family-life and the decisions we all have to make. I think.

8 / 10

Just make-out already and be hot! Please! We need it here the most!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Catfight (2017)

Sometimes, you just need to duke it out with former besties.

Ashley (Anne Heche) is an artist who doesn’t quite have the recognition, nor fortune that she wants. She makes weird, outsider-like paintings that some people enjoy, but others don’t, and nine times out of ten, those happen to be the people who actually buy paintings in the first place. She’s trying to have a baby with her girlfriend (Alicia Silverstone), but of course, the process is a lot more difficult than she’d expect. So, to make ends meet, she works as a caterer and one night, meets an old friend of hers, Veronica (Sandra Oh). Veronica’s got a bit of a messy life, too; her husband resents her, her son doesn’t think she’s cool, and yeah, she drinks way too much. Both of them immediately strike up a conversation at this party, but also realize that they probably don’t like each other much, either. So, as one does, they brawl it out, leading to disastrous consequences for both of them, that will alter the course of their lives.

Somewhere, deep down inside the black hole of Catfight, there’s a joke, but for the life of me, I just can’t seem to figure it out. Is it that all friends hate each other? Is it that comas are funny? Is it that violence is funny? Is it that homophobia is funny? Is it that death is funny? Or art critics? Or artists themselves? Or, I don’t know, just life kind of funny?

Anne’s ready.

Honestly, I still don’t know and that’s sort of the problem with Catfight – it’s the kind of movie that thinks it’s way funnier and clever than it actually is, but never really makes sense of its own hilarity, or cleverness. It sort of presents a few jokes and expects us to take different meanings away from said jokes, when in reality, there’s not much to them. Writer/director Onur Turkel seems to have an interesting mind in how he’s able to craft and balance certain different genres, tones, and moods here, but he doesn’t know how to make sense of them; to go from a dark comedy, to a serious, sad and depressing drama takes a lot of guts and skill to pull-off effectively.

And unfortunately, Turkel seems to only have the guts. The skill may have to come later.

Sandra’s ready.

Regardless, Catfight does have some interesting bits and pieces scattered throughout, but that’s just the problem – they’re too scattered. Originally, it seems like Turkel wants to explore how these two women, while definitely different, are also alike in many other ways, too, showing that they’re both sad, miserable and stuck in ruts that they don’t know if they can get out of. That aspect of the story is a compelling one and it helps that both of the leading-ladies are quite good in the roles, too (more on them in a bit). But then, out of nowhere, the movie decides to shoot for being something sillier, more violent, and above all else, just stranger.

In fact, yes, Catfight can definitely be classified as “strange” – it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be, but tries its hand at so many different things that eventually, it’s just gone way too off-track. The only thing guiding the ship along are Heche and Oh, both of whom have always been, and are here, great. It’s actually kind of great to see them two here, because while time and Hollywood may have forgotten about them, us film-lovers haven’t and it’s nice to see them get two starring-roles once again, because they’ve always been incredibly talented. It does help that they get meaty roles to work with and show off their range, but it also helps that they remind us why they deserve to be in more stuff, regardless of “Who’s Hot”, and “Who’s Not”.

So to speak.

But like I said before, their performances, as good as they are, seem to be stuck in a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be, what it’s about, or what it’s even trying to say. Attempting to figure this all out on your own, honestly, may be the real entertainment of the movie, but it also makes you wonder what could have happened, had the movie been sharper, more defined, and just clearer with us, and itself. It’s not all that hard to ask of a movie and it should always happen, regardless of how wacky or wild you want your material to be.

Consensus: Even with two solid performances from the always reliable Sandra Oh and Anne Heche, Catfight doesn’t know what kind of a movie it wants to be and ends up taking both of them on a ride that they, or us, probably didn’t ask for.

6 / 10

But oh wait, now Alicia’s ready! Ding-ding!

Photos Courtesy of: The Dullwood ExperimentLongroom

Butter (2012)

Hey, that’s one way to stop obesity in our country. Make butter sculptures!

A young orphan named Destiny (Yara Shahidi) who, after being adopted by a Midwestern family (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone), discovers she has an uncanny talent for butter-carving. She eventually finds herself up against the ambitious wife of the retired reigning champion named Laura (Jennifer Garner) in a town’s annual butter-sculpting contest.

Director Jim Field Smith surprised the hell out of me two years back when he showed-up with what was yet, another typical rom-com in the name of She’s Out of My League. What surprised me about this flick was not just how it was actually funny, it had some nice insight to relationships and the way dudes and girls are looked at when they’re both together. It surprised the hell out of me, even if the formula didn’t. However, Smith is right back to formula this time around and this time, it’s not so commendable.

The problem with Smith’s direction here is that he never seems to get as dirty or nasty as he wants to get. The satire is so freakin’ obvious it’s not even funny (seriously, it isn’t). Basically, by showing us this butter-sculpting competition, Smith is poking fun at corporate America and how they look at the world in their own eyes. Is it a smart idea? Of course. Is it executed well at all? Nope, not at all and I think the main problem with that is because Smith plays it a bit too safe with a story that could go anywhere (and sometimes does), but ends up going along the lame-o types and formulas we have come to expect from movies of this same nature.

Playing it safe is what bothered me about this film, but the other element that seemed to annoy me was how the story never followed a pattern. For instance, it’s comedy would seem to come out of nowhere and be that raunchy, dirty-type of comedy that pleases Apatow fans only, but then suddenly changes itself into a sappy, corny story about a young girl who’s trying to make sense of the world. At some points, it’s edgy, and at others, it’s plain and soft to the point of where you almost feel like they want to give you a hug. This comes in the way of all of these stories that never really seem to have any meaning, other than to just be there and make use of their big-names on the posters. Olivia Wilde’s character, as amazing as she may be here, still did not need to even be in the movie except for about the first 5 minutes were with her, so every other time she shows up, it seems like over-kill and Smith’s only way to get comedy out of a tired-plot.

That’s not to say that this film isn’t entertaining, because it really is and with the laughs that work, they really do work. The first 45 minutes or so work because it gets us ready and prepped-up for the whole butter competition, shows us the goofy characters, and gives them enough characterization to make us feel like we’re in for a big and wild surprise. Sadly, that only stays with us for about 20 minutes or so, but for those 20 minutes, I was laughing and had a good time.

The main reason why I laughed a good amount of times was mainly because of the cast and what they’re able to do with some caricatures. One of the biggest surprises of this whole cast was Rob Corddry who really dials it down here as Destiny’s adoptive father. What I liked so much about Corddry here is that there is a nice feeling of warmth and support in his character, that comes through in every frame. Corddry is usually that one guy in raunchy comedies that seems way too over-the-top to even be considered entertaining or funny, but here, he shows that it sort of just comes naturally to him and it makes me wonder what else this guy can do with his career. Maybe he can pull-off a drama in the near-future, or maybe he’s just going to stick to R-rated comedies that barely get him noticed as anything else but that crazy, loud bald guy that seems like he’s high all of the time. Maybe that is the case, but hey, I’m not judging.

The one star in this film that did not work-out as well as Corddry did for me, was Jennifer Garner as Laura. Here’s my thing with Garner, the girl is good when it’s her in drama, but when she tries to step her foot into comedy, she falls flat on her face and never seems to get up. That is exactly the same case we have here with her character, Laura, as she’s just another one of those self-righteous bitches, that nobody likes, nobody wants to see, and 9 times out of 10, doesn’t even laugh at because she’s so freakin’ evil. Laura isn’t as evil as the film may want you think, since the only real bad thing her character even does is lie, but Garner tries so damn hard to push her character to those bitch-levels, that it seems forced and never like Garner really has what it takes to make an entertaining bitch. She’s insufferable to watch and I think that Hollywood just needs to stop throwing this girl’s comedic-skills (or lack thereof) down our throats and just realize one, simple damn thing: Jennifer Garner, aka Mrs. Ben Affleck, is not funny! Never has been, and never will be so stop giving her big comedic roles where we need to laugh at her to enjoy ourselves. It just doesn’t work.

Consensus: Butter has some delightful moments and features a fine cast, except for Jennifer Garner who is annoying to watch and listen to, but never goes down to those deep deaths of hell that they call satire and decides to play it safe with it’ story and what it is essentially poking jokes at.

5/10=Rental!!