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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: John Gatins

Gods and Monsters (1998)

Next time you dress up as Frankenstein this Halloween, think about where the creation came from.

James Whale (Ian McKellen) is one of the most regarded directors of all-time. With such classics under his belt like Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein, Whale had all of the fame and fortune that any man could ever afford to settle down and spend their last couple of years in utter and total harmony. However, Whale still pains from what his career could have and should have been, had he not been openly-gay and criticized for it his whole career, and it’s beginning to take more of a toll on him as the days continue to go by and his hair gets whiter. Then walks in his newly-appointed gardener (Brendan Fraser), and all of a sudden, Whale has found a new bit of inspiration in his life, whether or not it may just be sex or art. Either way, the man is happy and spirited again but his long-loving care-taker, Hanna (Lynn Redgrave), doesn’t see it as being so happy or spirited. She senses trouble brewing in the air and she may be right, but James doesn’t care nor take notice to it. He’s just happy being him.

He likes what he sees.

It’s interesting to watch Gods and Monsters because, at first, you have a general idea of just where the story is going. You’d automatically assume that Whale, in his last gasp for life, starts something of a relationship with this hunky groundskeeper, reliving all of the lovely and enjoyable times of his past, while also realizing that life is beautiful, wonderful, and grand, and deserves to be lived, rather than not, only to then pass away right as soon as the going gets good. In a way, that sort of happens, but it sort of doesn’t, and it’s why Gods and Monsters remains a solid look at the life of someone that time may have forgotten about, but the movies he’s made, will continue to stand the test of time.

Which is neat, because after watching Gods and Monsters, you’ll soon realize that a lot of the issues prevalent in Whale’s own life, basically shined through his most famous works. Whale had a love and an affinity for showing the weirdo’s, or better yet, the outcasts, of society to the rest of the world. The movie’s many hints at this can tend to get a bit annoying, but that doesn’t make them any less true; making movies for Whale was less about making millions and millions of dollars, gaining respect, and getting the chance to hob-knob with some of Hollywood’s finest, as much as it was about expressing his true, inner-feelings of loneliness that haunted him his whole life.

Does that mean he didn’t have some fun while doing it all? Of course not, but still, we’re shown and told that there was something more here than just a bunch of fun-to-watch monster flicks. There was a heart, a soul, and an absolutely sad being behind it all.

But the movie doesn’t just harp on this one fact and drive it into the ground, as it’s actually more about this made-up guy known as Clay, as played by Brendan Fraser, and the type of relationship he builds over time with Whale. Like I’ve said before, this aspect of the movie could have easily been the most obvious and conventional one seen coming – man and man fall in love, realize something new about one another, etc. – but it doesn’t quite go that way. In fact, Clay doesn’t even know Whale is gay at first, and even when he does find out, he doesn’t quite care; personally, he just likes to hear the stories this guy has to tell.

Can you blame him?

It’s an interesting dynamic these two create and to watch as their relationship builds to something sweet, is quite nice. It also helps that Fraser and McKellen have great chemistry, seeming as if they truly are getting to know one another and getting along while doing it. Fraser has always gotten a bad-rap for being a bad actor, something that hasn’t always been true; just one look at his performance in Gods and Monsters, you’ll notice that he’s holding his own against McKellen, while also showing some signs of immaturity and growth needed. Basically, it’s what his character was going for and Fraser shows it, proving that when given the right material, he’s actually quite good.

McKellen, on the other hand, well, what can be said that hasn’t already been said before about him?

McKellen is an old pro who knows what he’s doing, which is why watching his performance as Whale can sometimes be a joyous experience, even if it does revolve around a great deal of sadness. McKellen shows us that there’s some true light, happiness and inspiration in Whale that somehow reignites once he meets Clay, but also doesn’t forget to remind us that there’s something truly heartbreaking about this character. We get the flashbacks, the dream-sequences, and of course, the stories, but where we really get the idea of something truly unsettling, is through McKellen himself. He plays Whale as an old man, getting older and more broken down as the days go by, proving to himself, that life can end.

But it’s the movies and the creations you release to the whole world, that really make it all meaningful.

Consensus: With two very solid performances from Fraser and McKellen, Gods and Monsters works as a smart, moving and rather sweet take on life, memories, and an aspect of Hollywood classics that most of us tend to look away from.

8 / 10

Best friends forever.

Photos Courtesy of: Cinema Queer

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The Nines (2007)

Should have just stayed in the box, Ryan.

Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy and Hope Davis appear in multiple roles which combine into three intertwining stories: A popular TV actor is under house arrest in “The Prisoner”; a TV producer struggles to launch a new series in “Reality Television”; and a video-game designer seeks help for his stranded family in “Knowing.”

I never really knew much about this flick other than that it’s been sitting on my Netflix queue for quite some time and that it wasn’t half bad since it had a 3 1/2 star rating. Thankfully, Netflix didn’t let me down. Or, well, not that I think just yet. Still questioning whether or not this thing really had me all ecstatic in the first-place.

Writer/director John August definitely started this flick off on the right foot with his first part, called “The Prisoner”. What I liked about this was that it was pretty funny, a little goofy, but also very strange how there was some weird ghost-like vision going on throughout this whole part and it made me wonder what I got myself into. There was a lot of questions that I kept on asking myself but then as soon as I thought the answer was coming up, Part 2 and 3 came around, then I got totally confused out of my ass.

It seemed like August definitely had a vision and clear-cut idea of what he wanted to do with all of these three intertwining stories, but for some odd reason, they seemed like they were all lost half-way through the second part. There are so many ideas being brought up, so many questions being asked, and so many different subplots coming from out of nowhere, that after awhile it became tiresome for me to handle it all in and try to understand just what August was throwing at me. The dude definitely had some bright ideas here but they all seemed to get jumbled up with whatever else came to his mind at the time of his filming.

And as confusing as the flick got, the ending left me with barely anything to feel. The last 10 minutes start to get very sappy and almost too serious because the whole film had this serio-comedy thing going on for the first two parts, then it suddenly just drops it for dramatic sake and it was a real let-down since August was doing pretty damn well with the comedy aspects here. It also bothered me that the everything was explained at the end, but I never really understood that either. The number 9’s significance to this story is explained but it seemed somewhat random and a lame excuse just to have some significance to the story. And the whole main twist at the end just seemed like a good idea on paper, but once it was played out on the big-screen, it comes off as way too pretentious and artsy for my liking. I didn’t really know what August was trying to do with these twists and the explanations to this story, but I definitely didn’t feel moved or inspired in any way shape or form.

However, with all of that said about the confusing twists and dumb-ass explanations, I still was very intrigued and entertained by this flick mainly because of August’s structure. The first two stories were very well-done and I mostly liked the second one because it put a cool spin on the whole “reality TV show” look and showed just how ugly and mean the entertainment business can be. Yeah, does it seem a little too random for something like this? Of course, but August’s writing kept me intrigued in wondering what was happening next. Also, sometimes if you pay close attention, you can sometimes catch little hints here and there about what’s really going on as other characters start to utter certain types of dialogue that has already been used in the film before and it was pretty cool to pick that up and see what August could do with this story. Shame that it ended up where it did, but it still had me entertained and that’s all that really matters.

One of the major hypes around this film was about whether or not Ryan Reynolds could carry a whole film all by his lonesome-self. Thankfully, he does just that. Reynolds is so damn good with all three of his roles he has in this flick and shows his range that goes almost all-over-the-place in terms of emotions. Still, I always bought what character Reynolds was playing and it made me realize that he does have some real talent, he just needs to get the right type of roles. Hope Davis was also very good in her roles and I don’t ever really remember her being as sexy before, as she is in this flick, and Melissa McCarthy (aka big chick from Bridesmaids) is also great here and brings a lot of humor and heart to each one of her characters, one of which, is actually herself. All three are great and play each of their roles very well, but in the end, it’s more about August’s style and what he can do with this wacky and wild story and it gets in the way of some rich performances from a pretty narrow, but interesting cast. Oh well, at least McCarthy’s been nominated for an Oscar already. I guess she’s beat these two to the punch.

Consensus: The Nines shows that Ryan Reynolds is definitely able to carry a film on his own, and definitely had me more interested in it’s crazy story than I originally thought I was going to be, but it gets way too confusing in a way that seems almost intentional from writer/director John August. However, I was never bored and maybe that’s a positive.

6/10=Rental!!