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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Beau Bridges

The Mountain Between Us (2017)

At least they have a dog.

Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) are two people who desperately need to board their planes. He’s about to save somebody’s life in a very critical surgery, whereas she has a wedding to get to. However, their flight gets cancelled when, due to stormy weather, the skies just aren’t totally safe to go through. But Alex has a plan and that’s to board a charter plane, between her and Ben, and a pilot (Beau Bridges) that she entrusts to get them where they both need to get to, safely and without any issue of hitting the storm. However, halfway through the flight, the pilot suffers a stroke and they crash somewhere out in the middle of the wilderness, without any signs of life anywhere to be found. Both survive and although Alex has an injury, it’s nothing too serious that Ben can’t help out. Now, it’s just up to the two to survive and do what they can to make it through this awful predicament they are in, even if they aren’t wholly sure if they’ll ever get out of this alive, or even sane.

Is this considered the “meet-cute”?

The Mountain Between Us is the kind of melodramatic, sappy, and cheesy piece of fluff that Hollywood so rarely makes anymore, in that it’s actually not awful. Think a Nicholas Sparks movie, but instead of having subplots about cancer-striken parents or abusive husbands, you have two people who are, for the sake of the matter, just trying their best to survive. Oh, and a cute little dog, too.

Can’t go wrong with the dog.

Which is to say that the Mountain Between Us is just another case of big Hollywood having enough time and money on their hands to make something that’s corny and a little silly, but in a way, that’s fine. The movie isn’t trying to be high-art in the slightest, nor is it really trying to pass itself off as a Oscar-winner. It’s just a simple, sometimes stupid, but always enjoyable romance, laced with a little bit of survival. Coming from director Hany Abu-Assad, who has made two great flicks in Paradise Now and Omar, it can seem like a step-down, but considering how many prized foreign-film makers screw up their English-language, American debut, it’s a moderate side-step.

It’s not perfect, of course, but that hardly matters because when your movie is almost two hours of just Kate Winslet and Idris Elba on the screen, does anything else matter? You can say that this movie does try very hard to force all of the weight on the back of these two stars, their good-looks, and their inevitable chemistry, but what’s wrong with that? Stars like Winslet and Elba were made for movies like this, where plot and the script sort of come second to their good-looks and their great acting-ability, so that even if a film wasn’t to care all that much about other stuff, like plot, or making sense, it’s not a total crime.

Trust me, she’ll be in safe hands with a man like that. Rawr.

The fact is that they’re still here, doing their absolute best and in this case, that’s enough.

The rest of the movie is, as I’ve said, silly and if you think long and hard about this even in the slightest, yeah, it doesn’t hold-up. It’s the kind of movie that looks pretty because it was shot on-location, but once you actually get to thinking the geography of where these two are, how they have to survive, and where they have to go to stay alive, yeah, it doesn’t quite make sense. It’s as if the film-makers thought that the audience wouldn’t care too much because we’d all be too busy sinking into the beautiful eyes and faces of Elba and Winslet and didn’t care about too much else. Of course, they aren’t wrong about that, but maybe for some others out there, like me, a little bit more comprehension and plot can go a longer way.

But hey, it’s Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, looking hot, sexy, and beautiful, while falling in love and trying their best to survive in harsh winters.

Oh, and a little dog, too.

Consensus: Not to be confused for high-art, the Mountain Between Us mostly relies on the charms of Winslet and Elba to get by, even when its script is clearly lacking in certain aspects.

6 / 10

Come on, Kate! Don’t just hold onto the man! You don’t need him!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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The Good German (2006)

Who needs Nazis when we can just face ourselves?

Jake Geismar (George Clooney), an Army correspondent, helps his former lover, Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett), comb post-World War II Berlin for her missing husband, who is wanted by not just the American forces, but the Russian ones as well. However, the plan to find him gets a bit out-of-whack when Jake’s driver, Tully (Tobey Maguire), a soldier with all sorts of connections to the black market decides that he wants to get involved with finding this guy, while also getting some of his own issues solved in the meantime. Still, Jake and Lena want to find their man, so they trust Tully as much as they can, until it becomes an all-out, drag-out battle between good, evil, Nazis, Americans, and Russians. Basically, it’s a good old-fashioned war and it’s up to all the players involved to get out of it, alive and well.

Did men really look that handsome? Probably.

There is no denying that with the Good German, Steven Soderbergh is paying an homage to the noirs of yesteryear. The look, the feel, the sound, hell, even aspect-ratio, feels as if it was transported from the 40’s and brought right to our screens again. It’s a seamless production that obviously cost a lot and it shows – there’s not a single flaw to be found in the way everything looks and just goes to show that Soderbergh, despite how much flack he may receive for it, truly is a neat-freak. He knows what he wants and he gets it.

Shame he just didn’t get his way in the story.

Cause once you get past the glossiness of the production, the Good German just doesn’t work. It’s style works and is neat, but the story, the characters, the conflicts, the twists, the turns, the revelations, the possibility of anything ever making sense, just never fully come together. It feels as if the production itself was rushed, either to get the movie done in time for awards season, or that the production was so dedicated to making the flick looking great, that they forgot to really focus on the sort of stuff that matters.

And with a lot of Soderbergh bombs (which there aren’t many), that seems to be the one issue: The script just isn’t there. A good portion of this has to do with him not always writing his scripts and in the case of the Good German, which was written by Paul Attanasio, this is especially the case. It tries to take on so much, with so very little context, and in a run-time that should feel light and almost breezy (105 minutes, mind you), for some reason, it feels longer. Most of this is due to us not really knowing what’s going on with these characters, this mystery, or even what’s at-stake; the fact that the whole movie begins with us looking for some character’s husband, already shows you that there’s a problem.

No! Do something fun!

Then Tobey Maguire shows up and yeah, it’s hard to really figure everything out.

Which isn’t to say that Maguire is a problem for the movie, because in hindsight, he’s probably the best thing for it. His character is so goofy, wild, and unpredictable, that he feels like he deserves his own movie, where the focus is primarily on him, trying his best to navigate throughout this world that just doesn’t know what to do with him. Maguire’s best in these sort of unhinged performances and his performance as Tully, is up there with one of his best.

But once again, he just doesn’t have a movie to fully service him like he deserves. And because he’s so off-the-wall, it’s easy to see that he doesn’t fully fit in with everything else going on around him. For instance, in the context of what the movie’s trying to do, his out-of-control performance doesn’t really connect and feels like something of its own different creation, one that’s obviously more interesting and fun to watch, than whatever the hell the Good German turns into, with Clooney and Blanchett giving, unfortunately, boring performances. They, like everyone else here, try, but the script’s just not there and when that happens, what’s the point?

Oh wait. That’s right. A paycheck. Never mind.

Consensus: Even with the style down perfectly, the Good German can’t quite get past the “homage” phase, and into becoming something of its own that’s compelling, interesting, and worth watching.

3 / 10

“We huntin’ Nazis.”

Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures

Hit & Run (2012)

I’d run away from Dax Shepard the first chance I’d get.

Former getaway driver Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) get to Los Angeles. The feds and Charlie’s former gang (led by Bradley Cooper) chase them on the road.

Anytime, within the past month or so that I’ve wanted to watch a video on YouTube, I couldn’t help but just get pissed off by seeing an ad for this movie come out right before it. Worst part was that you couldn’t even click away to skip the ad, you had to watch it, in it’s 15 second entirety, which isn’t a huge problem if it wasn’t the same damn clips.

However, being pissed at this movie going in just wasn’t the right way to feel as I couldn’t help but be surprised in the death days of Summer. That’s right people, August is almost over which means all kids go back to school and nobody goes to the movies anymore because they spent too much on The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I went into a huge rant that nobody wanted to read so I’m just going to dive into what I really wanted to say. For the first 30 minutes or so, nothing was really catching my eye and getting me involved as much as I would have liked. They start off with an ultra-sappy and contrived emotional scene where Shepard is telling his gal-pal to “close her eyes and think about the moment, nothing else”. Then after that, they suddenly go right into a scene with Tom Arnold chasing after his minivan and blowing holes everywhere, while screaming “fuck” at the top of his lungs. And to top that off, it just wasn’t funny no matter how hard they were trying and trust me, they were trying. It seemed like this was going to be one of those flicks that just wanted to be so wacky and funny, but also have an emotional story in the middle to even it all out but it wasn’t working and really got me worried of what I got myself into. Thankfully, it was only for those 30 minutes where I nearly lost my mind.

After the first 30 minutes or so, the film all of a sudden kicks its story into high gear and becomes a fun ride that delivers on the cool look, the cool thrills, and the funny laughs that sometimes came out of nowhere. It’s obvious that Dax Shepard (who just so happened to also co-write and direct this, and do his own stunts) loved Smokey and the Bandit as a kid growing up, because that’s the same exact kind of style and feel he gives this movie that automatically makes it a wild ride that doesn’t have to try too hard to charm us. So, if there is any credit going to towards this film and making it fun, it’s Shepard who deserves the most because he was able to somehow get this filmed in only 10 weeks, and used a very low-budget that will probably make a lot of the other big-budget action picks a whole lot more jealous by how polished the action scenes look here.

As you could probably tell by now, this film was pretty exciting when the action scenes came up and even if there is only about 3 in whole movie, you still get a great feel of energy and adrenaline every time they pop-up. But what really works with this film is that it hits its funny-marks very consistently in the last hour, which surprised me because they seem to be going all-over-the-place with its comedy. Sometimes it was trying to go for the wacky, rom-com aspect, others it was going for edgy and raunchy (that one scene with the naked old people will really shock some people), and other times it was your typical, conversational humor that can either make, or break a film depending on how well they use that aspect of comedy. Well, to say the least, the film’s comedy works and you’ll find a couple of gags that continue to show up every now and then that really catch you by surprise.

What really makes this film work out in the end is the cast that Shepard was able to assemble, obviously by just calling up a couple of pals for a little favor, which all work to his advantage. As for Sheperd in the lead role, he’s actually very charming and has the everyday likability to him that makes us forget about any dumb-ass role he has chosen in the past decade or so. The guy has a great comedic timing and can be sweet and enduring when he wants to be. If this guy can get his ass in the right rom-com and role, he may be destined for leading man material, which he sort of is here, but I mean on his own when he isn’t the co-writer/director. Tom Arnold plays his federal marshal buddy that just never seems to be able to do anything, without effin’ it up one way or another and the scenes where it’s just him being a goof-ball, sometimes left me in stitches. It’s been awhile since I last saw Tom Arnold in a big-budget, Hollywood movie like this (if you want to call it that) and it’s great to see that he can still deliver on being wacky and funny.

Perhaps the easiest favor that Shepard had to call up from anyone in this entire cast was in fact, his girlfriend in this movie and in real-life, Kristen Bell. I bet you are all pretty surprised to see that this gorgeous woman has been going out with this weirdo for the past 5 years, and you honestly have to be thinking to yourself, “Why?”. Well, after seeing this movie I have to say, “Ohhh, now I see why!”. It’s pretty obvious that these two have a genuine chemistry and love in real-life, because it spills out so well in this film whenever they are together just being themselves, or discussing what it takes to be in a relationship with another person which may seem really strange since it’s in a movie like this, but still works because these two have an emotional honesty between that feels real, as if you’re almost watching a real-life couple right in front of your eyes. In a way, you are, but this film offers them a lot more challenges in their respective acting departments that anybody has ever seen from either of them. As for Bell herself, she’s lovely as usual and it makes it better that she seems to be having a whole lot of fun playing chase with her boyfriend and pals.

The one that really steals the show in this whole cast is probably Bradley Cooper who seems to really lovin’ life playing an against-type role as the murderous thug, with really bad dreadlocks that makes him look more like the wrestler Raven from his WWF days, than actually intimidating. We’ve all seen Cooper do the villainous act before, but never quite like this to where the guy seems to really be having a ball just being mean, brutal, and a little weird as well. Cooper always has some great comedic timing with everything he does but I think his best showing of that is his one scene where he admits to why he’s come after Shepard after all of this time. To top it all off, he’s a fellow Philadelphian and that makes me feel a whole lot prouder to show him my love and support. Go Bradley!

Consensus: Definitely does not start off on the right foot and can be a bit uneven throughout, but when Hit & Run does gets itself moving, it’s a wild, cool, funny, and entertaining ride that seems like everybody had a ball making regardless of how much money they spent, and/or thought that they were going to make back. They’re simply making movies, to make movies. What’s so wrong with that?!?

7/10=Rental!!

The Descendants (2011)

Who would ever want to cheat on Clooney?

Matt King (George Clooney), the trustee of his family’s ancestral land in Hawaii, tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a serious boating accident and falls into a coma.Under pressure from different factions to sell the land, he belatedly learns a disturbing secret about his wife.

Director and writer Alexander Payne hasn’t been around since 2004 with ‘Sideways’ and it took him awhile to see what he was going to choose next. Thankfully it was this one.

This film reminded me of Payne’s earlier film, ‘About Schmidt‘ because it had some very funny times where I laughed that were also under-lined with real heart-wrenching moments as well. The humor here is a lot more dry and sarcastic, rather than being straight-up in-your-face about it, but either way worked because it had me laughing just about every time without ever feeling forced.

Where the film really works is where it gets emotional and shows real heart in how it handles each and every situation this film goes through. Moments and situations that you think are going to go one way, end up happening a completely different way then you imagined and the way Payne makes us feel something not only for these characters, but this story as well is where the film really worked.

Life is very unpredictable and it can sometimes be very messy, but for this Matt King guy, it seems like his life is really at a loss. However, the plot itself doesn’t feel like a major let-down and instead of hammering us over the head with constant mushy moments that would seem forced in many other films, it goes for the subtle realism that comes in anybody’s life and Payne always reminds us that it’s not just how we act about ourselves, but also with each other. It’s better to be there for one another, rather than not being there at all and I think that’s what this film really did a good job with trying to convey.

My main problem with this film is that I feel like the whole angle where Matt is stuck in this huge-ass sale of his ancestor’s land was just annoying, and kind of got in the way of the actual dilemma at hand. With this sub-plot, the film was trying to show us how Matt is in a more conflicting moment in his life and how he has all of this pressure on his back of basically getting rid of his whole family history, which to me seemed way to obvious and unneeded considering Matt is already finding himself with his family. I think without this sub-plot the film would have been a lot more easier to feel emotion for but instead it just adds on another idea that was not needed.

I also had a problem with the pacing because I really did feel as if it was a little bit too much of a languid pace for me. There were moments where this film really seemed like it was picking up some steam, and then there were times where it just dragged on to show us something about this character that I didn’t feel was needed and more of Payne just giving us moments of silence rather than characters actually talking.

George Clooney gives a great performance as Matt King, and it’s almost to a point where it’s too hard to tell a good Clooney performance from a bad Clooney performance. Here as King, he down-plays his natural charisma but he still has moments where he show that charm that makes him so damn likable in the first place, which makes the comedy work even more when he’s being a tad goofy. There are also many emotional scenes where Clooney is supposed to show his grief and pain through his facial expressions and I think it really works well and I think Clooney was a very good choice for this role.

As with ‘Up in the Air’, Clooney is given another young-actress to accompany him throughout the whole film and almost up-stage him here with Shailene Woodley in a great role as the rebellious daughter, Alexandra. She is mean, angry, and a little bothered by her dad but still has enough love and sympathy for him where she can ease up and realize that their whole family is going through a hard time. Nick Krause plays her boyfriend, Sid, who reminds me of a younger Keanu Reeves but in a good way; Beau Bridges is funny and really cool as cousin Hugh; Robert Forster plays the King’s father-in-law and boy did he get old, but he’s still good; and Judy Greer is awesome here as King’s wife’s boyfriend’s wife. I know that was a pretty long one but hey, I tried to make sense.

Speaking of King’s wife’s boyfriend, he is played a face that nobody has seen in quite a long time, a guy by the name of Matthew Lillard. Yes, Shaggy from Scooby-Doo is a person that some chick would rather bone than George Clooney. I think this casting was awesome because Lillard is actually very good and shows a lot of range as a dramatic actor and it’s just such a surprise to see how old this guy looks now as well. His character is also fleshed-out very well as is every other character in this film and I think that’s why this film really works in the end, because nobody is a caricature. They are all real people and all have real feelings, even if they may be a little bit messed up.

Consensus: The Descendants has problems with it’s languid pacing but is very sweet, emotional, and rich in character development where it shows how people deal with grief and the unpredictability of life. Not my favorite film of the year but a very good one that I’m glad to see that Alexander Payne wrote and directed.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Max Payne (2008)

I actually thought this was OK. Bring on the hate mail….

Mark Wahlberg stars as title character Max Payne in this gritty noir crime thriller that centers on an undercover New York City DEA agent (Mila Kunis) who teams up with a female assassin to avenge the murder of her family.

I have always loved Max Payne the video games. In all honesty, they are probably my two favorite games, because it’s one of the first games to keep me playing, with a compelling story, suspense, and plenty, and I do mean, plenty of action. And as much as this film gets a lot of crap, for being crappy as anything, I will say it is entertaining, and for a true fan, like myself, I at least enjoyed it.

The main reason this film does disappoint is because, it has many differences from the video game itself. Although, they got the main jiff of the story down, which isn’t too hard to do in the first place, but there are other elements to the story that this film seems like it’s forgetting. People, who are not familiar with the game, will not understand that his family is killed, mainly because it is shown in the middle of the film, rather than in the beginning, and people are killed off, earlier than in the game.

Also, I got really annoyed by how the film at first was about this guy trying to find out who his family’s killer was, but then it suddenly turns into a film about these crazy drugs, that make people go mad, and see weird demon shit. Speaking of that weird demon shit, they really got on my nerves. In the game, they are mentioned a lot, but you never see them, and they don’t get involved with the story. However, with this film, they couldn’t get enough of these bastards in this film, and that is the main thing that annoyed me.

The film is also not as action-packed as one might expect from playing the game, or from seeing the trailers, but when their is action, it’s exciting, just like the game. Of course, there’s also the very famous “bullet time” sequence, and although it is a bit crappy, I must say, I still liked how they put it in there, and made it reasonable. This film also held my attention, because of it’s really great-to-look-at visuals. The snow, rain, constant colors hitting the screen, all look great and add more to the film, even when it is totally bland.

Mark Wahlberg tries his best with this film. He plays Max Payne well, mainly because Max originally didn’t have many emotions, so Wahlberg plays him, with not too many emotions, but isn’t terribly bland. Mila Kunis was laughable as an assassin, so she was basically not believable at all. Beau Bridges does a good job with the material he’s given, so its a good performance by him. Chris O’Donnell, Ludacris, and Donal Logue show up in this film too, and well their just whatever with this film.

I will say that I was excited to see this film when it first came out, back in 2008. And I did see it then, I thought it was OK, but that was before my time of movie reviewing days, now that I know what I like in movies, I never thought I’d still like this. I think that this film will, hopefully be re-done by somebody new, with a whole new everything hopefully, cause in all honesty, this could make a great movie one of these days. And I will be the first one to see that happen, or I can only hope.

Consensus: It may not be a great film by any stretch, with plenty of differences from it’s original source material, but Max Payne is entertaining enough to satisfy a loyal Max Payne video game lover, as well as anybody looking for stylized action.

5/10=Rental!!