Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Craig Bierko

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

Advertisements

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Now you probably wonder what your parents must have really been like before you came around.

Eight years ago, Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) was diagnosed with amnesia, not having any clue of where she was, how she got to where she was, who the father of her baby was, and/or just what her previous life had been life. Therefore, she chose to live on in the arms and comfort of a man, raise her child, become a suburban house-wife, and practically be all nice, kind, civilized and as pleasant as you maternally can get. However, the past that she originally knew nothing about, begins to resurface when she gets into an accident and, yet again, hits her head on the ground. This is when Samantha begins to gain flash-backs to old memories she had, as well as old tricks that she used to know begin to pop-up in everyday, normal activities that she’s been so accustomed to as of late. But now, her past has come back to get her and somehow, she finds herself stuck with a sad-sack detective named Mitch (Samuel L. Jackson) on a run for their lives. Where are they going? It’s not quite known yet, but throughout this trip, Samantha’s act begins to wear thin and sooner than later, her old persona begins to come back up in surprising, sometimes even ugly ways; that “old persona” of hers is named Charly, and she’s one bad beotch.

Once the hair-color changes, ya'll best get the hell away.

Once the hair-color changes, ya’ll best get the hell away.

The whole joke surrounding this premise is that Geena Davis’ is an amnesiac that is learning things for the first time, just as we are, and it’s a joke that writer Shane Black runs rampant with. Sometimes more so than he should, but it’s always funny to watch and see how he brings out more about this character with her present, her past and why she’s the type of character we should watch and pay attention to. Black definitely doesn’t try to take this material too seriously, and for that matter, neither should we; both Charly and Samantha are such complete, total opposites, that it’s practically a joke in and of itself that they just so happen to be two personalities that one woman juggles around with.

But it’s a joke that never gets old and for that matter, neither does the movie itself. It’s always fun to watch one of these old-school, action-comedies that try to be all hip, cool and funny, just like as if they were another Lethal Weapon or Tarantino movie. However, while most of them did fail, this movie isn’t one of them as it definitely does play-around with the idea of an ridiculous amnesiac in the middle of all this corporate espionage, car crashes, murders, crime, twists, turns and so on and so forth. In some ways, the movie may actually throw a couple of shocks your way in terms of where the plot goes, but if you’re like me, you’ll lost interest in that part of the film real quick.

Rather instead, you’ll just pay attention to the action and the winning-humor Black throws has on-display here, considering that he’s one of the very few writers out that can turn a totally violent situation, filled with all sorts of death, blood, violence, gore and fear, and somehow find a way to make us chuckle at it, and look at it in a different light, all just by throwing in a wise-crack on the side. He also has that ability to over-do that style of his sometimes, as well, but I never found that to be the case here. In fact, I’d say that when the final-act was going on, I noticed that the laughs began to go away, just as soon as the plot itself began to get uber serious and the threat of death became more and more evident. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering that there are some very close-calls with this movie in which a character could bite the dust at any given second, but there was the rare occasion in which I just hoped that Black would throw in a little joke or remark here or there, just to lighten things up a bit.

I mean, hell, it’s a movie for god sakes! We want fun; we want action; we want heart; and most of all, we want some humor! Anything wrong with that!?!?

But like I was saying up-top earlier, the fact that Samantha is your quintessential, boring, settled-for-nothing and peaceful suburban mother, and Charly is tough, rugged, lean and mean, ass-kicking machine, is a total joke that shouldn’t be taken seriously, or even work. However though, not only does it work through Black’s script, but it also works through the way in which Geena Davis channels-on both personalities in some very unexpected, but entertaining ways. Davis has always been a radiant screen-presence on screen, so the fact that she’s this mother and wife, living in the winter-y suburbs of PA (woo-hoo) and is absolutely lovable and pleasant, is no surprise whatsoever. We’ve seen her do that act a million times and quite frankly, she owns it. If she continued to spend the rest of her career doing that, I don’t think anybody would cause a ruckus or even object to that.

Not smart, dude.

Not smart, dude.

But when the change comes around for Davis to start shaking things up a little bit, getting nasty and violent, it’s kind of shocking really. Sure, we’ve seen Davis play a bit of a meanie-wad before in movies, but here, she really goes for full-throttle with this role. She yells, curses, smokes, drinks, screws anybody she wants, lies, cheats, steals and will kill anybody if she so damn well pleases. If it weren’t for all of the cursing and smoking, you would have maybe been able to call her “the female Bond”, but nope, this is Charly, and she’s one gal you do not want to be on the opposite-end of a battle with. Which is strange considering that this is Geena Davis I’m still talking about here, the wholesome, loving and kind woman we always love to see show up in movies; but here, she’s a pretty bad-ass chick that can do anything she wants, no questions asked and it’s fun to watch Davis do this kind of role. It’s sort of a shame we don’t get to see her do much nowadays at all, but seeing her branch-out a bit and show her nasty side, really made you think about the type of leading-lady she actually was, and one that I wish showed her face around more.

Come back, Geena! Please! If not for me, then for all us Thelma & Louise fans out there!

As much fun as Davis may be to watch her play-around with the image we usually see her get stuck with, Samuel L. Jackson ain’t no slouch either. In fact, he actually has some wonderful moments too, playing the type of character we don’t usually see him try-out; the scared, rather wimp-ish type-of-guy that would more than likely give away his wallet and keep his trap shut during a robbery. And yes, that was a Pulp Fiction reference! Anyway, it was fun to watch Jackson here as he gives us a character that’s a bit of a coward when it comes to getting his hands dirty and taking chances, but when he actually does step-up to the plate and risk life-for-limb, you kind of have to give it to him. That, and also the fact that Jackson’s pretty dumb funny with him, giving some of the movie’s best lines, most of which can be found whenever he and Davis are on-screen together, working off of the other. Strange how you wouldn’t think, not even in a million years that these two would work wonders together, but somehow, they do and it’s what makes this movie just a tad bit better and easier to consume.

Consensus: Won’t be the most memorable action-comedy you’ve ever seen, but for nearly two-hours, The Long Kiss Goodnight will be well-worth your time with a funny script, a playful-feel from both Shane Black and Renny Harlin and two likable performances from both Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson, who are trying out new things you may not have seen them do yet before, yet they totally succeed at.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Bitch! You best watch where you pointing that thing!!!"

“Bitch! You best watch where you pointing that thing!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

The Three Stooges (2012)

Look what you missed out on Jim Carrey, Sean Penn, and Benicio Del Toro.

While trying to save their childhood orphanage, Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes), and Curly (Will Sasso) inadvertently stumble into a murder plot and wind up starring in a reality TV show.

This has been considered The Farrelly Brother‘s passion project ever since they first broke-out onto the comedy scene with ‘Dumb and Dumber’. And as much as I want to stick up for these guys here as I’ve done in the past, I have to say that I think it’s time for them to choose another hobby if this is their passion.

I’m just going to say it now, I loved The Stooges growing up. I always would sit down on the couch late at night, turn on TV Land or whatever station was playing them and just sit back and laugh my ass off. That said, I was not a huge fan of this movie. Where I think this film hit its problems with even before it was made, was that the film sets these guys in the 21st century, when all of their material was made around the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. This means a lot of the comedy that was so fresh, hilarious, and ground-breaking back in those days, may come off as a bit dated and too slap-sticky for some people’s tastes, which is exactly what happens. The Three Stooges have had their own time in comedy history where you can watch any episode of theirs, and you can find something new to laugh at even if it just Moe hitting Larry over the head with a hammer. However, placing them in a time where stuff like this is usually a lame way of getting laughs, definitely makes it a big stretch.

You would also think that since this project has been in development for so damn long that everybody involved would actually come up with some new stuff that would still be loyal to The Stooges but also make us laugh, right? However, that’s not the case and instead we get a bunch of material we have seen used from them time and time before such as these guys hitting each other in the head, somehow tied together by a plot of saving an orphanage and having these guys realize that they all love each other. It’s definitely weak in plot terms, but I wasn’t going to see this movie for an Oscar-winning plot, I just wanted to see some funny stuff happen and I barely got that.

I’m over here trashing this film like no other but I honestly can’t say that I didn’t laugh at this because believe it or not, there were a couple of real chuckles that come out of me during this one. I knew what to expect from The Stooges right beforehand so all of the hitting and biting was a little annoying for me, but the moments when Larry is dropping puns out the wah-zoo all had me laughing and even a couple of other wise-cracks throughout the film had me cracking up too. Probably my favorite part of this whole movie that may be worth the price of admission (that is, if you go to see this) is when Moe gets to go on “Jersey Shore” and he practically beats the crap out of every cast member, Stooges style. It was very funny to see not only because I would love to see these bastards actually get beat up like this in real-life, but because it showed a pop-culture reference that actually worked here even though having the cast on is pretty much a pop-culture reference in and of itself.

As much as people may be bitching and complaining about how two comedic legends like Del Toro, Penn, and grand thespian Carrey didn’t get into this after all, you can’t really complain with the actual cast of guys they have playing the famous Stooges. Sean Hayes does a great job as Larry with a pitch-perfect Philly accent (trust me, I should know); Will Sasso does a very tolerable job as Curly and not only looks, but sounds exactly like him the whole time; and Chris Diamantopoulos may not be as impressive here as Moe, but he still has plenty of moments where he gets to strut his comedic stuff as well. All three guys do great impersonations of The Stooges and even though I won’t go so far as to say that they evolve into these roles, they do nice jobs of not ruining their legacies either.

The supporting cast is kind of lame but I think that’s why The Stooges were basically front and center just about the whole time. Jane Lynch does absolutely nothing funny here as Mother Superior, and I don’t know if that was on purpose or that she just didn’t feel like being funny; Larry David started to get really annoying with his raspy/transgender-like voice as the appropriately named Sister Mary-Mengele; Jennifer Hudson is only here to stretch some of her vocal chords for one scene where she breaks out into song and that’s pretty much it; and Sofía Vergara is definitely a great sight to look at and also knows how to make herself look like a goof, but maybe it’s time I saw something new from her. Lame supporting cast but that’s basically why it’s called ‘The Three Stooges’ in the first place.

Consensus:  The Three Stooges is not as bad as I (along with plenty, plenty others) was expecting it to be, but it still features tired jokes and a supporting cast that isn’t very funny either. However, if you loved The Three Stooges, and grew up watching them, then this is the film for you because anything that you could ever want from a Three Stooges movie is here, with the extra hit to the head with Moe’s hammer. Even though I did used to watch them and love them, the film is a little stretched out a bit too far.

3/10=Garbage!!