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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Julia Jones

Wind River (2017)

Those poor white people. Right?

US Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is sent to the Wind River Indian Reservation, where he will hopefully be able to track, find, and kill a bunch of mountain lions who have been killing all of the livestock. While searching for them, he stumbles upon the body of a woman, who, from what it seems like, was raped, possibly murdered, and left to freeze in the below-zero snow. After catching wind of this, the FBI sends in rookie agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), who seems like she’s not just unprepared for the harsh winter of Wyoming, but for this case in general. Because she doesn’t really know the area that well, how to navigate through it all, and/or whether what the rules are, she depends a lot on Cory, who is also now taking an extra interest in this case, for personal reasons. The two begin to stumble upon a rather dark and vicious secret lying within the mountains and makes them not just question their own humanity, but the United States’ history, altogether.

FBI? Really?

Wind River is the directorial debut of writer/director Taylor Sheridan who, both with Sicario and Hell or High Water, seems to have found his niche. He loves these tales of crime, violence, and darkness that start off slow and melodic, only to then burst into full-fledged blood, guts, bullets, octane, and guns. And it’s interesting because while Wind River feels a lot like those two other movies, something is oddly missing.

Still don’t know what it is, but you can feel it.

Either way, as a director Sheridan is fine; he captures the deadly cold of this winter-y landscape and shows it as a solid backdrop for even more viciousness and deadliness that we eventually start to see. He gets a bit out-of-hand with all of the visual symbolism and expository dialogue, but as a whole, he knows when to shut up, give us action, characters, and a plot that’s interesting to follow along with. And I know that sounds like film-making 101, but you’d be surprised how many movies screw things up for themselves, just by getting a little distracted by other stuff that doesn’t matter.

Wind River, as a whole, is a pretty straightforward tale of humans acting at their worst, but also at their best, and because of that Sheridan does a lot with very little. He’s able to draw us into this setting, understand its history, the characters, and why these characters matter. Renner’s Cory, while feeling like he may have initially been a Native American in the first few drafts, still works as a white guy because he has a certain connection this land, to these people, and to what they represent; it also helps that the movie does sort of call him out for trying to be a white savior, making it seem fine that he’s a white guy, trying to save the day. Sheridan’s writing isn’t very stylish, but he’s got a certain noir-aspect about him that works in making us know everything we need to know about these characters, without getting too carried away.

Eh. Doesn’t look so bad.

It’s constantly moving and that’s why Wind River works.

And as Cory, Renner is quite good; he’s his usual charming-self, although he doesn’t overplay that too much. He’s still a screwed-up guy who has had to deal with a lot in his life and doesn’t allow us to forget about it. His chemistry with Elizabeth Olsen is also pretty good, in that the movie never allows it to get too romanticized or cloying. They’re just both trying to figure out this case, who the baddies are, and do their jobs, like normal, everyday human beings who want to make the world a better place.

Olsen is also very good in this role, despite being very young and seeming in-over-her-head. But then again, that’s sort of the point, so it works out well; Gil Birmingham, who shined last year in Hell or High Water, has a nice few emotional scenes that work well; Graham Greene, as usual, is great, giving us a lot of comedy to go along with a lot of the seriousness; and Jon Bernthal, in a few scenes or so, does a great job, too. However, it’s his role and a few others that I have a problem going on further about because, well, the movie sort of surprises us with these characters randomly by the end.

But hey, just see it and you’ll know what I’m speaking of.

Consensus: Cold, dark and pretty brutal, Wind River may not measure up to Sheridan’s past two movies, but still fits in well with them, providing plenty of solid thrills, to go along with the chills.

7 / 10

Always depend on the whites to come in and save the day.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Jonah Hex (2010)

Some gun-slingers are better left dead.

Having cheated death, gunslinger and bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) has come back from the dead to get revenge on those who wronged him when he was alive and well as a normal, everyday human being. Now, Jonah has certain supernatural powers and skills that allow for him to contact the dead, as well as find out where anybody is in the world. Why? Or better yet, how? Well these are questions that may never, ever get explained. However, while Jonah wants to set out on an adventure of sorts, he’s still considered a traitor by his army, and now, has to make a deal: Stop and kill Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) from releasing these super powerful and disastrous explosives on the White House. Obviously because Turnbull killed his wife and son while he was alive, Hex has no problem with this, but he also knows that he’s going to have to get in contact with the dead an awful lot to ensure that he completes his mission, and doesn’t end up hanging out with some of those that he himself has killed.

"Malkovich?!? Malkovich?!?"

“Malkovich?!? Malkovich?!?”

There are two parts of me sitting here thinking about Jonah Hex. The one part of me wants to be a very smart, thought-provoking and serious movie critic who looks at Jonah Hex as a pile of messy, over-edited and jumbled-up drivel that the studio had absolutely no faith in, so therefore, they just dumped it out to see what could happen. That’s very obvious from the very beginning, to the fact that the movie itself is barely even 81 minutes (end credits included). Someone had the bright idea to make Jonah Hex, but the studio themselves soon regretted that decision and were left with a huge mess on their hands, so, they did what they could, given the tornado they were working with.

Then, there’s the other part of me that enjoys a good movie, even when it’s awfully bad.

And yes, Jonah Hex is that kind of movie.

I think what surprised me the most about Jonah Hex, other than how it got green-lit and was a viable enough option for some of these talented, respectable actors to actually sign up for it, was just how weird and off-putting it is, even for something that was released to over 2,000 theaters in the dead heat of the summer season. It’s not a particularly pretty movie, nor is it a very depressing one, either. There’s jokes and odd sight-gags galore, but when you really look deep and down inside of the story, you’ll realize that it’s pretty damn dirty and disgusting.

Then again, maybe it needed to be. After all, the actual stories of Jonah Hex, from the graphic novels and whatnot, aren’t particularly lovely stories of inspiration and human wisdom, either; they mostly all just feature Hex himself, going out there in the wild West, taking down some evil-doer, drinking booze, saying some witty things, contacting the dead, and that’s basically it. They’re not ground-breaking, or even life-changing stories; they’re just perfect little pieces of pleasure to sit by and read for a little bit of time.

That’s why the movie of Jonah Hex, despite it not being the greatest thing ever made, matches what the comic books actually set out to do: Give us a sense of who this character is and the world in which he exists in. And the world in which he lives in, despite also being placed in some sort of odd reality, is a pretty screwy and weird one – the likes I’ve hardly ever seen of a big-budgeted, mainstream picture, but more of a low-budget, indie Acid western.

If I had to wake up to that every morning, uh, yeah, I'd be pretty fine.

If I had to wake up to that every morning, uh, yeah, I’d be pretty fine.

But then again, yes, the movie isn’t really “good”, by any stretch of the imagination.

Director Jimmy Hayward and writers Neveldine/Taylor may have been fine choices for this material in the first place, if they were working on it separately, without the other’s influence anywhere to be found, but together, it’s an absolute cluster f**k of something I’m still trying to make sense of. Hayward is a competent enough director to where he allows for action-sequences to play out in an understandable manner, but Neveldine/Taylor can’t stop allowing themselves to take all of the havoc one step further, and Neveldine/Taylor are good at creating crazy situations and letting them all play out, but Hayward himself still wants to keep some of the material grounded in at least some sense of reality. Apart from one another, they’re probably great for this kind of material, but together, they overstep one another too much to where you wonder just whether or not these two actually did beat the heck out of one another backstage.

That said, it’s very hard to be bored from Jonah Hex, if you’re looking at it from a strictly film-goer’s point-of-view. The movie does try to take itself seriously, but then a scene later, will decided not to and try to pick up its pieces; the performances are so over-the-map to where you’ll get a brooding, almost subdued Josh Brolin, to having a wildly violent, overly insane villain like Michael Fassbender’s, who even loves the taste of his own blood; the action-sequences themselves are so wild, that it’s hard to figure out who is who, and where; and if that wasn’t odd enough, the whole movie is scored to some sort of mix metal rock opera that makes you think Led Zeppelin got together with the National Youth Orchestra.

Overall, it’s a very odd duckling of a movie, but it was hard for me not to have fun by how ridiculous it can be. It’s not good by any means, but sometimes, you have to rip-off your critic hat and just let some crazy things work their magic.

Even if they’re magic is hard-to-define.

Consensus: Jonah Hex is over-the-top, uneven, messy and just plain weird, but there’s some charm to be found in that, especially when it’s just accepting itself for what it is, which is a crazy acid western that was somehow made for a lot of money and caught big names to it. Heh. No wonder it bombed.

5 / 10

Uh oh. You've gone and done it now.

Uh oh. You’ve gone and done it now.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Ridiculous 6 (2015)

RidiculousposterAt least Tarantino has a Western coming out.

In the old West, a man by the name of Tommy Stockburn (Adam Sandler) is raised by Native Americans, where everyone calls him “White Knife”. While he doesn’t know who his real father is, he still hopes to meet him one eventual day. After getting kidnapped by a bunch of bad, evil bandits, Stockburn finally understands who his father is (Nick Nolte), which leads him on a trip. Along the way, he ends up meeting 5 other men who, believe it or not, also happen to be his brothers and looking for their father as well. There’s Chico (Terry Crews), a black man who doesn’t know that he’s black; there’s Herm (Jorge Garcia), who can’t speak a single discernible line of dialogue; there’s the slow and obviously mentally challenged Lil’ Pete (Taylor Lautner); there’s the slippery Hispanic named Ramon (Rob Schneider); and last, but not least, there’s the cool and suave Danny (Luke Wilson). Together, they will search far and wide for their father, while at the same time, also stopping any wrong-doings they encounter along the way.

PT, where are you?

PT, where are you?

Why is Netflix making an Adam Sandler movie? Better yet, why are they making not one, not two, and hell, not three, but actually four Adam Sandler movies? Well, folks, in the biz, that’s what we like to call “profit”. Apparently a lot of Sandler’s movies are exceptionally popular on Netflix and it brings into question just in what capacity people want to actually watch his movies.

Do they either want to get in their cars, drive a half-hour, spend nearly $20 on tickets and concessions, watch and spend a few good hours of their lives watching as Sandler and all of his pals get paid vacations? Or do they want to just sit at home, think of something to do, and when push comes to shove, just watch them? Because, if you think about it, it doesn’t really cost much to begin with, so what’s the big deal?

But no matter which way you put it, you should not see the Ridiculous 6. Even though it’s not getting the same treatment as Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation and not playing in any actual movie theaters, it still doesn’t matter. You should not see this movie so therefore, just don’t even bother getting into your Netflix account, either.

Just stay away and spend time with your friends, families, or whoever else, cause anything would be better.

And yes, I know I sound incredibly dramatic right now, but seriously, it’s the truth. Not only is the Ridiculous 6 nearly two-hours long, but it has hardly a laugh to be found. There was maybe one chuckle or two to be found, but other than that? Nope. For the most part, it’s the same as it is with just about every other Sandler movie: The jokes are lazy, tired, and most of the times, offensive to just about every demographic out there in society.

This is something obvious to expect from a Happy Madison production, but what surprises me so much is how this movie, at times, seems to be trying to parody other Westerns. The Magnificent Seven is the clear genre example they use to poke fun at, but honestly, you’d never notice unless you actually saw that movie to begin with; there’s no real actual jokes made at the expense at the genre, or any attempt to be satirical. Everything is, as it appears to be, just made for the sake of being jokes and having people laugh, which surprisingly enough, doesn’t actually seem to happen.

Which is all the more depressing because you take a look at the cast and realize that most of these people involved don’t need this movie to help them out, either financially or professionally speaking.

A lot of Sandler’s buddies like Nick Swardson, David Spade, Dan Patrick, Rob Schneider, and Jon Lovitz all show up and it’s no surprise that they’re here, so it’s not all that upsetting when they show their faces here. However, it’s the likes of people like Luke Wilson, Nick Nolte, Will Forte, Steve Zahn, Danny Trejo, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, and well, yes, even Taylor Lautner, who actually make me sad because you know they don’t really need the help at all. They’ve all got fine careers to begin with and are probably making as much money as Hollywood stars in their positions should be, so why are they even bothering with this? Is it just a favor to Sandler? Or is it just because they’re bored, the paycheck looked that nice, and well, they didn’t really give a hoot?

Keep on looking, boys, you're not going to find a good movie anywhere.

Keep on looking, boys, you’re not going to find a good movie anywhere.

Whatever the reasons were, it’s just a shame to see them all here trying to do what they can with an awful script, a misguided direction from, yet again, another one of Sandler’s buddies, Frank Coraci, and jokes that nobody in their right mind would try to deliver. That none of the jokes actually land, also call into question just what Sandler actually considers “humor” nowadays. Because Sandler co-wrote the script here, my mind automatically shoots to assuming that he did it because he had a contract obligation and decided to piece together a bunch of non-sequiturs and lame gags, regardless of if he actually found them funny.

Because yes people, Adam Sandler actually is funny.

However, here, as with the countless other flicks in his long career, he’s hardly shown it. As an actor, he seems awfully tired and bored here, which already makes me wish that somebody who is actually an innovative, intelligent director would pick him back up and give him something to do. This is something I state in just about every review of an Adam Sandler movie, but it’s the truth: Now, after all of these stinkers, it’s become more and more clear that he doesn’t care, is just collecting the money that flows in, and is going to continue to keep on making hack-jobs such as this. When it will end, nobody knows. All I do know is that Adam Sandler has clearly given up and you know what?

We’ve got three more of these movies.

Enjoy, folks.

Consensus: As expected, the Ridiculous 6 is another one of Adam Sandler’s hack-fests where jokes fly, yet, never land, everybody looks embarrassed, and everyone feels as if they’ve just lost hours of their lives they can’t get back. Except, in this case, it’s two hours.

1 / 10

Yes. I feel bad for this guy.

Yes. I feel bad for this guy.

Photos Courtesy of: Joblo, Hollywood Life