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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Chris Penn

Rush Hour (1998)

Oh, odd couples.

When a Chinese diplomat’s daughter is kidnapped in Los Angeles, Hong Kong Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and his ass-kicking ways are called to the scene to help and assist the FBI with the case. However, seeing as how they’re incredibly stubborn and self-righteous, the FBI doesn’t want anything to do with Lee. As a result, they dump Lee off on the LAPD, who assign wisecracking Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) to watch over him. Carter is already in the doghouse of sorts for botching a case where explosives went off, people were hurt, and his career was in jeopardy. But Carter doesn’t know that he’s the laughing stock, so he takes this babysitting job of Lee as serious as a heart-attack, having no clue just who Lee is, or what he’s actually capable of doing. And even though they can’t stand one another, they choose to work together to solve the case on their own when they put two-and-two together and find out that the case is a whole lot shadier than they had expected.

The guys that fight crime together, sing Edwin Starr together.

The guys that fight crime together, sing Edwin Starr together.

Rush Hour, in no way, shape or form, tries to reinvent the buddy-cop genre. If anything, the movie’s pretty generic by those genre’s standards. Two incredibly different people, both cops, come together on a ridiculous case and bring their two, very different backgrounds to help one another out, solve the case, and even possibly, grow closer as human beings and friends. We’ve seen this formula time and time again, however, what makes Rush Hour so damn charming about it all is that Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker really do, surprisingly, make a great team.

Not only does it seem like they get a long great in real life, but it works out well for the movie. The twist here is that while Tucker’s Carter starts out as being awfully racist and thinking hardly nothing of Chan’s Lee, he soon grows to learn to appreciate Lee for not just being a human being, but also being one that kick some ass and just wants to solve crimes like him. Sure, you could say that it’s awfully corny and generic, but this at least somewhat makes up for the fact that most of the jokes aimed at Chan are racist and a tad offensive. Then again, this is the brand of comedy to expect from Tucker, and it’s pretty hard to sneer at when it’s actually pretty funny,

That’s why a movie as conventional, uneventful, and simple as Rush Hour, despite being awfully stupid when it comes to its plot and its jokes, still works.

It’s obvious that the studio here was trying their hardest to try and make Jackie Chan a big hit in the United States by partnering him with someone like Tucker, in a buddy-cop comedy no less. But as manipulative as this may be, it still works because, from what it seems, Tucker and Chan really do have great chemistry that shows both stars working well off of one another and adding a nice dose of heart to the proceedings as well. One scene in particular features Chan unknowingly calling a bunch of black characters the infamous “n-word”, where he then starts to battle and brawl each one, unbeknownst to Tucker who is elsewhere. While this scene may have all the social commentary of a rock, watching Jackie Chan lay the smack down on a bunch of black dudes for calling them an offensive word, somehow works.

After all, this is a movie directed by Brett Ratner, so you get what you come for.

That said, Ratner doesn’t get too much in the way of this material here. All he really has to do is set the camera down so that stars like Tucker and Chan can do their things, be fun, be exciting, be charming, be funny, and leave it all that. With that all taken into consideration, yeah, Ratner does a fine job. He doesn’t need to add his own directorial-spin onto the sometimes silly material, but instead, just allow enough time and space for Tucker and Chan to do what they do best.

"Daaaaaaamn."

“Daaaaaaamn.”

And because of this, the action scenes do tend to work. While they mostly rely on having Jackie Chan fly around like a wild goose with its head cut-off, it’s still awfully exciting to watch, and see how it incorporates itself into the story. There’s one sequence in which Chan has to fight a bunch of guys, but meanwhile, also ensure that a bunch of priceless, almost rare Chinese artifacts don’t break. It’s a nice spin on the typical kind of action-sequences we’re so used to seeing with movies like these, but made only better by the fact that it’s Chan himself doing all of his own stunts and seeming to put himself into harm’s way, every chance he gets.

Of course, Tucker gets to work his shine, too. However, as is mostly the case with Tucker, the enjoyment of the humor here will mostly rely on whether or not you’re a fan of Tucker in the first place. For me, I love the guy and feel like he’s a comedic genius, so yeah, obviously I was hooked here from the very beginning. But yeah, he’s definitely of an acquired taste and it makes sense why some people who don’t like Tucker’s brand of humor, may not like Rush Hour.

But it’s also pretty hard to hate Rush Hour when it’s just trying to be a fun movie that entertains you, makes you laugh, and offer you up an odd pairing of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.

The kind of pair that nobody ever thought would see the light of day, let alone, actually work.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel by any means, what Rush Hour does best is that it offers up a fine blend of humor, action, and fun, also made better by the wonderful chemistry between Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.

8 / 10

Look out, Hollywood. Jackie's taking over!

Look out, Hollywood. Jackie’s taking over!

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

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Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Wait, what’s “Like a Virgin” actually about?

A group of small-time criminals gang together to perform, what appears to be, a pretty easy and simple jewel heist. However, the situation goes awry for many reasons, leaving the plan to go to crap, some men dead, and suspicions to rise through the roof. One of the main suspicions is that one of the guys involved with the crew, as well as with the heist, is a cop; while Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) disputes this fact, even he too is feeling a bit odd about what had just transpired and where to go from here. This is when the rest of the crew comes into the picture, where everybody’s getting over just what the hell had happened at the heist and who is to be blamed for it – some react more eccentrically than others, of course. Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) wants to get right down to the bottom of who caused this whole mess; Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) just wants to sit around and hurt people for the heck of it; “Nice Guy” Eddie (Chris Penn) wants to know who screwed-up his daddy’s plan; and while this is all happening, Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is coming closer and closer to death, as each and every second goes by, what with his gunshot wound and all.

Who does Quentin like more?

Who does Quentin like more?

So yeah, Reservoir Dogs is the sole film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map and for that reason alone, it deserves to be preserved, praise and adored for many years to come. It’s not just that since this was his debut and all that makes it worth talking about 20+ years later, but the fact that it’s still a great movie that deserves to stand alongside the rest of his other creations he’s made in the years since – which is obviously saying a whole lot. But what always keeps me coming back to Reservoir Dogs is the fact that no matter how many times I see it, it never gets old, boring, or annoying.

In fact, it just gets better and better, as mostly everyone of Tarantino’s films do.

However, having now seen this for what appears to be the umpteenth time, I will say if there was one qualm I had with the movie, it’s that it seems like Mr. Orange’s backstory runs on too long. It’s fine to see where he came from and why he matters to the story, but the whole segment concerning him, the story he has to tell to get these violent heavies to like him, and the whole visualization of said story, just feels over-done. It’s like when people complain about Tarantino’s movies nowadays being “too excessive”, as well as “overly-stylized” (both are reservations I understand, but never actually said), I totally understand; it just adds more filler-time to a movie that, quite frankly, doesn’t need it.

Because, for as short as it runs (just under 100 minutes), Reservoir Dogs is a pretty spectacular movie. What Tarantino does best with just about everything he touches, is that he gives his characters their own distinct personalities that matter when you hear them talk to one another, how they relate, and just what it is that they do when handling a heavy situation such as this. Even from the very beginning in the diner, Tarantino lays out all of the cards of which person has what kind of personality, and why they’re worth paying attention to; obviously, once everything gets heated and tense, the movie starts to show more shades of these characters, but it’s always believable and fun, if only because Tarantino sets everything up so perfectly.

And yeah, playing these characters, each and every person is great, showing that they’re clearly capable of handling the “Tarantino speak“, which is probably why most of them have appeared in his films since this.

As an actor himself, Tarantino isn’t anything special, but he’s less in-your-face this time around, so it works when we see him just delivering dialogue that, yes, he wrote, but clearly seems to be fine with letting others deliver as well. Even though it’s not hard to imagine that practically every member of this cast had no idea what they were reading when they picked this script up, it still does not show a single bit, as each member seems ready-to-go and accepting of where this movie takes them. Which is saying something because, for those who have seen Reservoir Dogs, it goes into some pretty crazy and wild places – all of which work and are just as exciting as the last maneuver Tarantino made.

Behind the camera is fine too, Quentin.

Behind the camera is fine too, Quentin.

But plot mechanics aside, it’s always about the characterizations with Tarantino that works best and it shows especially so with Steve Buscemi’s Mr. Pink. Of course, it’s no surprise to anyone that Buscemi’s a great actor who can appear in anything and still work, but here, he gets a chance to really show his true colors as a character who, for the most part, seems to be the voice of reason. While everyone else is on one side of the room, screaming, yelling and emoting loud enough for aliens on Mars to hear, Mr. Pink is just wondering to himself how the hell he’s going to get out of this situation and who is to blame. In that aspect, Mr. Pink is probably the funniest character of the bunch, which isn’t because he says anything funny, really – it’s just because Buscemi is so great at this kind of high-strung, take-no-crap character, that it’s just a joy to watch.

This isn’t to take away from everyone else here, obviously, but yeah, Buscemi’s the one I continue to think about after seeing this.

Keitel’s White is the more seasoned pro of the cast and clearly seems to be the heart and soul of the story, even when you start to feel even worse for him as the situation continues to loosen-up and get more screwy; Michael Madsen has that cool charm about him that even despite the fact that he’s playing a total and complete psychopath, you still kind of like him; Roth does a lot of yelling and crying, but is good at it enough that, in a way, it’s more fun to listen to than actually poke fun at; Lawrence Tierney’s Joe is always grumpy, but it’s hard not to like; and Chris Penn, playing Joe’s son, makes you feel like he’s a lot more of an a-hole, just because, yeah, Penn’s playing him.

Gosh. Wish that guy was still around.

Consensus: Over twenty years later, Reservoir Dogs reminds us all that Tarantino can write wonderful characters, a punchy script, and keep the violent tension running throughout.

9 / 10

Every group of dudes think they look like this. They're never right.

Every group of dudes think they look like this. They’re never right.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Probably the tamest movie I’ve ever seen that says “coke” about 15 times. And I’m not referring to the soda, although if it were the late 1800’s, I would be referring to both I guess, right?

Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is all about following the rules, getting the job, and having the law come out on-top, at any means necessary; Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is far different in the way that he’s so cool, calm, relaxed, and mellowed-out, that he doesn’t really care if he gets the job done or not, he just wants to look cool and smokin’. They’re polar-opposites, but they get strung together somehow and have to solve a drug-ring of coke on the streets, lead by millionaire Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). Together, they have their fair-share of problems, but together, through the insistence on getting along and the help of their ears and eyes of the street, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), they finally realize that the law always prevails. Or something of that nature.

It’s strange to think that a man who has been known for his fair share of R-rated, raunch-fests, Todd Phillips, would ever stoop so low as to go for a PG-13. But somehow, with this, he did and his struggle with actually trying to keep to that rating without over-stepping it at all. As I said up-top, there’s plenty uses of the word “coke” and nothing but; girls make-out with other girls; the F-bomb is dropped once (and randomly); partial-nudity is seen (sort of); and the word “shit” gets dropped about 5 or 6 times. It’s just strange because we know that when Phillips turns on the dirty-jets, he has a fun time and lets loose like no other, but what we mostly know is that when he does get down and dirty: he’s a lot funnier as well.

Whatta fun time!

Whatta fun time!

And trust me, it’s not that this flick isn’t funny, because it sure as hell does have it’s moments of comedic-inspiration that are more than likely going to win you over; it’s just that the tone itself is a bit uneven. What I mean by that is that the flick tries to go for a satire of an episode of the original Starsky & Hutch, and at other times, seems like it’s trying to be a straight-forward comedy that makes up it’s own jokes, is in it’s own little universe, and doesn’t even know about the other show. Hell, it even plays out like a failed-pilot of the original, except with more knowing-humor and a switch-up of the lead characters.

Since the movie never seems like it knows what it wants to be, or how for that matter, some comedy hits and some of it misses. More of it hits than actually misses, but knowing what Stiller, Wilson, Vaughn, Ferrell, and even Phillips are capable of, it comes as a bit of a disappointment. The jokes they use get a bit stale after awhile, especially the part where Starsky is high on cocaine and gets into a dance-battle, even though he doesn’t know he’s high, and become the same old, “70’s-fashion-was-so-corny”-type of humor. Nothing as witty or as smart as Zoolander or even Old School here, just a bunch of repetitive jokes made towards the decade it’s apparently supposed to take place in, even if it feels like we’re just watching a bunch of current-Hollywood stars play dress-up and act like their in the 70’s. I don’t know if being a tad bit anachronistic was the movie’s point or not, but if it was; it probably would have been a lot smarter and funnier in that case.

But in all honesty, I can’t discredit this movie too much cause the cast seems to be having fun and is mostly the reasons why we find ourselves laughing at times, despite it seeming a bit desperate at times. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are seemingly playing Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. They both seem to be enjoying themselves, not having to stretch their acting-muscles all that much, and getting a chance to dress in some fine, sexy 70’s digs. Together, they’re a bunch of fun and keep this movie cracking, but after awhile, you start to think how much of this movie was made because they really wanted to make a Starsky & Hutch movie, or how much of it was made as an excuse for the two to pal-around with one another? One has to wonder, and sometimes, it feels like the latter-aspect. It’s fun to watch them, but it feels like their having a bit more fun than we are and that poses a problem, especially when they’re trying to steal the laughs out of you.

Come on! Gimme more!

Come on! Gimme more!

On paper, having Vince Vaughn do his spastic, fast-speech act and Jason Bateman do his dead-pan act, team together, and play the smart, but slightly off-kilter baddies in a movie would seem like comedic-brilliance, but it never musters up any of the courage to really keep them funny or relevant all that much. Vaughn seems like he’s bored being serious and conning, whereas Bateman actually seems like he’s bored, and isn’t just using that to his and his character’s advantage. He actually seems like he’s bored and wants to get his check, so he could get the hell home and get ready to film another season of Arrested Development. Also, any movie that has thew chance to showcase Juliette Lewis and her comedic-talents as the dumb, trashy-chick in the movie, but squander that potential, has seemingly all but lost points from yours truly. The girl is not only a foxy mama, but she’s pretty damn funny, especially when she’s given the chance to be.

Others in this cast that show up do what they can like Snoop Dogg, who actually has some of the funnier-moments in the whole flick of funny people; Carmen Electra and Amy Smart show up to only make-out and provide some sex-appeal for a movie that didn’t need any, and when it finally got it’s chance to showcase it, made it seem more misogynistic than titillating; and actual cameos from the original guys, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, who made it funny just being there, but once I got to thinking about it, made it almost seem like the film was making fun of them and how hell-bent-out-of-shape they seem to have gotten. Poor guys. Oh well, they probably got a nice, healthy paycheck from this. Just like Bateman. Although, needless to say, he probably made that paycheck last.

Consensus: Bits and pieces of Starsky & Hutch seem inspired enough to transpire plenty of inspired moments of comedy, but not too many as the flick struggles to make up it’s mind of what type of comedy it wants to be, or even make us laugh at all.

6 / 10

"1, 2, 3 and to tha 4, Huggy Bear is at tha doe."

“One, two, three and to tha foe, Huggy Bear is at tha doe.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Footloose (2011)

Kevin Bacon can still dance. Don’t be fooled.

Slick and cool kid from Boston, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to a small town where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. However, Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) won’t stand for it and he lets Ren know about it, every step of the way.

For all of you loyal readers and followers of DTMMR, you all may be a bit shocked to find out that I have never seen the original, Kevin Bacon headliner in it’s entirety. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, including the awesome dancing-sequences that had me inspired for a day or so, but nothing more than just that really. However, apparently director Craig Brewer has seen it all, and loved it so much that it was the one movie to inspire him to make movies. That’s right: not Casablanca, not Citizen Kane, not even The Godfather, Footloose is the one movie that made this man inspired to make such flicks like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, and now, this remake of his old-school passion. It’s weird, I know, but hey, if you’re going to have a guy do a remake of a classic, have a guy that loves the hell out of the movie in the first-place do it. Then maybe, most remakes won’t suck nowadays.

The idea of featuring a town that actually “bans public dancing” seems a bit too 1984 the dog days of the 21st Century, but somehow Brewer has it make sense and seem a bit believable. This is a small, earnest town that all know each other, know whats going on, and have an idea of what’s best for the whole community. They aren’t some sort of small-commune that’s sheltered-off from the rest of the world because of their hard-earned beliefs of God, faith, and religion, even if those themes do hit-hard in where this story is coming from. Still, the idea of keeping the original premise in this updated remake isn’t as goofy, as well as a couple of other ideas as well, mainly because Brewer knows what does and does not work in today’s day and age.

Brewer, like his last two flicks before this, definitely knows how to work in a great deal of Southern-grit to his stories, no matter how wholesome or sweet they may be. For instance, the opening title-sequence where we see everybody’s shoes moving around, is a trick that was pulled-off in the original but updated in a more standard, gritty way that would be expected by kids of today’s generation, due to there being a crap-load of dirty, kegs, and beer being thrown-around as if somebody was throwing an old-school banger in the middle of the corn-fields. Oh, those were the golden days. Anywho, that’s not the only aspect of this flick that Brewer updates with his gritty look-and-feel, there’s a couple of other cool instances where we see how the world around us has changed to where these kids could easily want to rebel by dancing and sticking-up for themselves, but in the end, Footloose is about one thing and one thing only: cuttin’ loose and gettin’ foot loose.

No matter how much it may seem like Brewer is putting his own, personal stamp on this story, he still never forgets to remind us that this is a dancing-movie at it’s heart and core, and that’s all that mattered to me. Nowadays, dancing movies are usually recognized by two words: Step Up. But thankfully, Brewer shoves a little bit of his fist in the way of those movies and give us a great deal of fun and entertainment to watch, as all of these kids just shake their asses off like no other. The stunts, moves, and choreography are off-the-charts and as goofy as it may be to see a bunch of 18-year-old kids, dancing like Michael Jackson on crack at their high-school prom, you still can get past it and have a great-old time no matter what.

Also, to make matters even better, the soundtrack is awesome and definitely worth a listen. They start-off things so perfectly by keeping the old-school, Kenny Loggins track in the movie, and then start to dive-away from that and giving us a rawer, southern-bound edge to music, filled with the eclectic likes of David Banner, Quiet Riot, Zac Brown Band, and most surprising of all, and probably used the best: The White Stripes. Yeah, his days of giving Terrence Howard some key rap-tracks haven’t gone away in the slightest-bit, but Brewer still shows that he’s got a knack for putting in some cool-tracks, into scenes that you would not expect to gel so well with. Basically, when you put the combination of awesome music and awesome dancing together, you are bound to get some fun and entertainment, and if you do not for one second tap your toes to at least one second of this movie, you have no soul and need to get this soundtrack, ASAP.

As fun as this movie may be, there are a lot of goofy moments in this flick that seem so damn earnest and self-important with itself, that it’s just really hard to swing-by (see what I did there?). There are so many instances in this movie where I just had to roll my eyes by how silly things were, such as when Ariel, or lead-gal, feels the need to play chicken in front of train to show how much of a lost soul she truly is. That’s stupid, as well as all of the scenes with her deuchebag boyfriend named Chuck, who comes into disrupt things between Ren and Ariel’s hormones, and does exactly that, but yet, it’s annoying as hell. Whenever the guy shows-up, he’s just hammy, obvious, and way too violent for his own-good, almost to the point of where I felt like the guy made the story a bit too dark by some standards. Anytime he shows up, and this movie tries to get all serious and dramatic with me, I rolled my eyes, scoffed at it all, and pretty much didn’t care. But as soon as the dancing started-up and the music began to blast, then I just forgot about it all and had a fun-time. Isn’t that what dancing’s all about?

Casting this movie must have been a total bitch for Brewer, considering the guy has to fill in the shoes for so many iconic stars like Bacon, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and even Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others, but he does a nice-job in picking just the right names, for the right people, no matter how well-known or unknown they are. Kenny Wormald is a nice-fit for the rebellious and cool kid known as Ren McCormack and handles a lot of the dramatic-stuff, just about as good as his amazing dancing. His infamous infamous “freak out” dance scene seems a bit like parody at-first, but it just goes to show you just how talented this kid is at shaking his rump, and hey, I gotta give him credit for that because lord knows I’d never be able to achieve that. I just hope that Matt Damon or Ben Affleck didn’t catch a glimpse of this movie, or else they’d have a thing or two to teach Wormald about doing an official, Bawhstan accent.

As good as Wormald may be as Ren, the one who really impressed the hell out of me was Julianna Hough as Ariel, the preacher’s daughter. Her character is the most obvious and predictable out of everybody here, but the gal’s still very, very talented when it comes to dancing and being sexy, but she’s also very good in the dramatic scenes as well that makes a lot of her pain and anguish seem real and reasonable. Sadly, I don’t think the girl’s going to get many dramatically-acting offers any time soon, but it’s always good to know that there’s more to her than just a pretty face, a nice body, and a couple of sweet-ass dance moves.

Playing her old daddy O, is non-other than Dennis Quaid who is terrific as the preacher of the little town of Bomont, that not only wants what’s best for his little town, but for his daughter as well. Quaid is good in this role because as much as he may seem like a bit of a stiff that doesn’t budge on anything that concerns going against the sacred book of God, you can start to see a change in him by the end that’s as believable or moving as anything the guy’s done in the past couple of years. Seriously Dennis, you need to get back-out there, man, and show the world what they’re missing-out on. Everybody else is in this movie is interesting, entertaining, and likable, but the only one that really seemed to struggle is Andie MacDowell as Shaw’s wifey. To most of you, this may come as to no surprise whatsoever, but it’s a bit of a surprise to me considering that this chick has been acting for over 30 years by this point, and still has yet to churn-out a good performance. What the fuck, Andie?!?!?

Consensus: Some moments seem obvious, tacky, self-important, and earnest, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter all that much since Footloose is a fun and entertaining movie that shows some nice/believable character-development, as well as a love and passion for the original source material, courtesy of Craig Brewer.

6.5/10=Rental!!

True Romance (1993)

Don’t eff with the comic book nerds.

The film tells the story of a novice prostitute Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) and the adventure with her lover, comic book store clerk Clarence Worley (Christian Slater). When Clarence kills Alabama’s pimp (Gary Oldman), the newlyweds ride off into the sunset — with $5 million worth of cocaine in a suitcase and the police and the mob on their trail.

Since director Tony Scott is in such a slump nowadays, I honestly think he should just go back to having Tarantino write his scripts because he gave him two of the best films of his career. Aside from ‘Crimson Tide’, this is the other one.

The real selling point of this flick is that it’s written by Tarantino himself, and as everybody already knows, this guy is a freakin’ original genius. Tarantino is able to take any situation and make it go from normal to completley insane in about a matter of 5 seconds and it will give you this bad-ass feeling that you could not expect. The story is a pretty familiar but there are people getting killed at every second that you wouldn’t expect, twists and turns, random pop-culture references that somehow fit into the story, and just a whole bunch of other cool moments in this flick that make it ten times more the awesome thrill ride that it is known as today.

My complaint with this script is that even though it is by Tarantino, this is definitely not his best work by any means. Yes, he does get to use all of his trade-marks like funny one-liners, pop-culture references, and tense stand-offs but for some reason it’s not as edgy as you would expect. There was just something that felt like it should have really hit me harder and stuck with me more but instead it just ended up entertaining me and left me with a pretty happy mood. I don’t think Tarantino had full control over his story and that’s why the story may come off as a little more lame than his usual stuff, but it still at least works in a rather medium way.

Director Tony Scott also adds a bunch of fun to this flick by giving it this straight-forward, energetic thrill ride that isn’t filmed with that annoying shaky-came he can’t ever seem to get his hands off of nowadays. Scott is a good director when he’s got good source material, which he definitely has here, and even though it’s not drenched in style like you would expect from him, it still has a fast-paced to it that keeps the story going and the bullets flying.

However, what really had me going for this flick was its whole ensemble cast that is filled with just about every star from the early 90’s. Christian Slater is pretty good as Clarence, a guy that may seem a little strange but after awhile you start to believe and actually hope he comes out of all of this shit alive. Patricia Arquette is also a lot of fun to watch as Alabama, and you can totally feel like this one girl could actually fall in love with this type of dude. Their romance is something you actually care about because we spend enough time to see them together, and to see them be happy with one another so that when they go on this road trip and their lives are in danger, we care not only about them but their relationship as well. Sounds pretty sappy, I know, but it’s something that surprisingly worked here.

The rest of the cast is freakin’ great too, considering that just about every big star this flick had to show is in here for about 5-10 minutes each but totally kick-ass for the time they have. Dennis Hopper is great here as Clarence’s dad, in a non-psychotic role; Val Kilmer is here as “The King” but is still funny and cool, considering we barely see him; Gary Oldman is hilarious and menacing as Drexl, the white boy pimp with dreadlocks; Brad Pitt is also here as our pot-smoking friend, Floyd, and probably one of the best performances of his career, and I am willing to go toe-to-toe with whoever thinks otherwise; and Christopher Walken shows up for about 7 minutes but gives the film’s best scene where its just him and Hopper talking shit to one another and once again, it’s always Walken who steals the show at the end of the day and I can’t say that I expected anything else. Aside from these peeps I already mentioned there are plenty of other familiar faces here such as Samuel L. Jackson, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, and Bronson Pinchot among others. Basically, it’s one of the better casts for a flick that I’ve seen and they all do excellent jobs with what they are given.

Consensus: It may not be Tarantino’s best script ever written, but it still has a great energy to it, with crazy performances from the ensemble cast, and some really kick-ass moments that make this film a fun watch if not as good as you would expect from these Scott and Tarantino working together.

8/10=Matinee!!

At Close Range (1986)

How mad at Daddy can you get to the point of where you want to kill him?

Reunited with his career criminal father (Christopher Walken) for the first time in years, tough teen Brad Whitewood Jr. (Sean Penn) thinks he’s found his ticket to an exciting life of crime, only to learn that his amoral father is more vicious than young Brad ever imagined.

The film started off as if it were adapted from one of those “young-adult” novels that shows alienated youth doing all of the things they think are cool and rebellious, which really had me feeling as if I was in store for something that would really annoy the hell out of me. Things don’t start to pick-up until Walken comes into play, then the film is all balls-to-the-walls.

Director James Foley does a great job with this real-life story that took place in my state of Pennsylvania (woot-woot!) and give a real beauty to it. There are some real magnificent shots here with the corn-rows looking so detailed that it actually made me hungry, the night shots feel like the moon is right over them, and almost lake, stream, or river reflects some sort of sun-light which gives this gorgeousness in how the film looks which preps us for all of the dirty crap that goes down in the last two acts of the film.

There is a lot of violence that goes down and a lot of disturbing things that happen, especially a rape scene that really had me cringing but none of it ever felt forced. I mean this is a true story so they have to get all of the facts right but all of the shootings, the killings, and non-stop murders felt realistic and needed to show the pure harshness that lied within this film’s subject matter. This was very controversial back in 1986, but the times have changed and there has been a lot worse we’ve seen but this film really packs on the violence and it works.

The film also has a nice central-story that develops as time goes on. The story is all about how this one kid, Brad, will stop at nothing to just be loved and gain the respect from his father, so by doing all of these criminal-like jobs he think that he will easily become daddy’s little boy. However, the dad never allows this and it shows the real sadness that Brad goes through not being able to fully live up to his father and even yet, still knows what’s right and what’s wrong. This story may seem a little bit sad and very depressing but Brad is a good character to begin with and I think as time goes on his story starts to become richer and richer.

The problem that lies within this story is where Foley is trying to take this story’s central theme. In the beginning of the flick, all of the kids are all about violence, guns, and crime but then they soon find out the hard way that it’s all fun and games until someone loses their head. The film itself basically strikes down against the use of guns/violence in society but then by the end when everything starts to get ultra violent and criminal, apparently the film is all about using guns for the murder of another person. I didn’t understand where this film was trying to go with it’s theme but to be brutally honest, it kind of lost me.

Another problem with this flick is the ending itself which seems to be totally and utterly ridiculous that somehow somewhere, it made me actually believe it could happen. *SPOILER ALERT* In the end of the flick, Brad and his girl Terry get shot up by these two gun-men and while Terry is basically dead right on impact,Terry is somehow still left alive, walking, and have enough energy to go in the shower and rinse off a bit. This seemed so idiotic to me that I could actually believe that something like this could actually happen, but when the film was over I was sort of left just knowing that it’s just a film, that is based on true events.

The real reason to see this film is the performances by these two power-houses. Sean Penn is great as Brad because he shows him the scary side to his character but also the morally-intact side that allows us to stand behind and root him on as he goes through all of these problems with his father and just life in general. Penn never lets loose of Brad once and plays all of the sadness and vulnerability so well that he seems like a real-life human being.

Christopher Walken is absolutely brilliant as Brad Sr., the cocky and evil criminal father. Walken takes over just about every scene he’s in, giving us this intimidating and restless figure of a person that you do not want to eff with. Walken is so good at playing likable that you don’t know whether or not to love this guy, or hate the very near-sight of him. Obviously Brad Sr.’s actions show how we should feel but its really Walken who shines through with this villain that just bleeds mean.

Consensus: The point of At Close Range may get lost in the very end of the film, but the story is engaging, the sights and shots look stunning, and the performances from Walken and Penn are what make worth your while, even though it can get extremely violent at times.

7/10=Rental!!

Short Cuts (1993)

A 3 hour and 9 minute film, that still needed more.

Robert Altman’s mosaic masterpiece, based on Raymond Carver’s short stories, presents several different characters — including a baker, a chauffeur, a helicopter pilot, a phone-sex provider, a pool cleaner and a jazz singer — whose stale lives intersect and are forever altered through simple twists of fate. This moving tale’s all-star cast includes Tim Robbins, Madeleine Stowe, Bruce Davison, Andie MacDowell, Jack Lemmon and Anne Archer.

The movie traces the actions of twenty-two principal characters, both in parallel and at occasional loose points of connection. The role of chance and luck is central to the film, and many of the stories concern death and infidelity.

Much of the stories are told about people who just have very strange but overall upsetting lives, and barely get through it day to day. A lot of these stories blend a great deal of humor and mix it with the depressing tone, but keep you interested due to this sharp skills.

Most of the credit of this film has to go to the amazing director Robert Altman, who really does show he can make some great film’s. He takes this three hour long story and still make it fresh and barely ever drag on. Altman really does have a love for many of these stories, and a lot of these strange characters and that comes out from his very impressive direction. He goes through each story like a 3 hour soap opera but never misses a beat in combining some strange moments and add a little flavor of realism.

As great as this film can be it did have a lot of problems that could’ve saved this film. With so many stories and a very long run time like this, you would think this movie would be a central message for some sort of idea. No, and if there was I didn’t catch it. I found the film’s stories to be powerful and mostly engaging but by the end of the film we don’t really see much resolved, and we don’t see what the main purpose of this film was, other than just a bunch of stories that end suddenly.

Many stories in this film are actually more interesting than others, and although I stated before didn’t drag too much, the less interesting ones were given the most attention. I think that Altman goes from one story to another but not a very notable way, because sometimes the stories are barely or at all connected.

The huge ensemble-cast is just simply amazing. There are a lot of big names in this film that show up, but actually do add something to this film, that is deserved. I can’t name notable one other than two that stand out in my mind. Tim Robbins plays a cop in this film an creates one of the most hated, self-conscience characters I have ever seen on film, and creates a perfect character. Also Julianne Moore has some good scenes although she is barely on and by the end of the film you soon start to know that she is destined for greatness.

Consensus: Some stories are more interesting than others, Short Cuts features some impressive directing, amazingly-acted ensemble, and some great stories to be told. The only problem is that an engaging film needs to have an engaging message, which this does not have.

8/10=Matinee!!