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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Katharine Ross

The Hero (2017)

Don’t let Hollywood forget about you. Even if everyone else you knew already has.

Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) is an aging Western icon with a golden voice, but in all honesty, his time in the spotlight seems to mostly be behind him. Nowadays, when he isn’t making money in voice-over roles for silly animated flicks, or for lame-o commercials, He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman). But he soon finds out that he’s got cancer and it’s not looking too pretty, so it comes time for him to put his life into order, think long and hard about the people he’s hurt, and those that he wants to continue on and love. So of course, around this time, he gets a new lease on life when he meets stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), who, despite the obvious age-gap, decides to take him on as something of a mate and try hard to navigate through each of each other’s difficult lives. Meanwhile, Lee tries to connect with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Krysten Ritter), all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy.

“What sort of device is this?” (Okay, he’s not that old, but still)

Co-writer/director Brett Haley’s last movie (I’ll See You in My Dreams) was a surprise-winner for me. It not only gave the ridiculously underrated Blythe Danner the starring-role she was quite deserving of, but also offered something of a smart, low-key, humorous, and heartfelt look at aging, finding love again, and oh yeah, death. It wasn’t too deep that it was depressing, nor was it too funny and light that it could be cheesy – it was just somewhere in the middle and yeah, it worked wonders.

But for some reason, the Hero doesn’t quite work as well. It tries to discuss the same themes and ideas about aging, finding love again, and yes, death, but it sort of fumbles them all in a mess of a movie that doesn’t know where to go, what it wants to be about, or hell, how long it wants to go on for. Because even at just a little over an-hour-and-a-half, it still feels way too long, as if the script wrote just enough material for an hour, but the budget asked for a much longer movie, so of course, everything had to get more and more padded-out.

And also, yeah, Haley seems to have lost a bit of inspiration in the writing-department this time around, too.

But it’s not like the Hero doesn’t play around with some complex thoughts; the idea of aging in a business that has long forgotten about you, is still an interesting to watch, because it’s something that so clearly happens, whether it’s in Hollywood, or elsewhere. But the Hero seems to barely touch on this and instead, just be more about this old dude’s relationship with a ridiculously unrealistic character who could most definitely be classified as nothing more than “a type”. Not that Laura Prepon isn’t good in the role, or at least, doesn’t try, it’s just that she’s so obviously a conceit that writers make up on-the-fly, that listening to her recite poetry, literally, makes me gag.

A May-December romance in Hollywood? You don’t say!?!?

And honestly, she’s not the only type here, either.

Even in the lead role, Sam Elliott is most definitely playing himself, once again. Obviously though, this time, he’s got more to work with and yeah, he makes it worth the movie’s time and effort. He’s honest and sad when the movie asks for it and while he gave a better performance in a much smaller-role in Haley’s last movie, it’s still nice to see him get a leading-role, when there’s very few of them in his long, storied career.

But like I said, he’s still a type. Nick Offerman’s stoner-buddy, while heartfelt, is still used as the obviously straining comedic-sidekick who smokes pot and makes jokes about the old days; Krysten Ritter is the estranged daughter who hates her dad no matter what and reminded me far too much of Evan Rachel Wood’s ridiculously similar character in the Wrestler; and Elliot’s real-life wife, Katharine Ross, shows up as his character’s ex-wife and they have a few nice scenes together, but that’s it. There’s nothing more to them, or their relationship. What you see, is what you get, so don’t expect anything more.

Sort of like, ahem, this movie.

Consensus: Even with a solid performance from Elliott in a rare leading role, the Hero still feels like it’s scratching the surface of a very interesting premise that doesn’t get the opportunity to go further and deeper than what seems to be promised.

5 / 10

Long live Sam Elliott. Just not in this movie.

Photos Courtesy of: NPRDeadlineJunk Host

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The Western that even made Clint chuckle. Just a little bit, though. He still found a way to be as bad-ass as ever

Here lies the story of the Wild West outlaws known as Robert LeRoy Parker, known to history as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the “Sundance Kid” (Robert Redford). Together, they pulled-off many wacky and wild heists back in their day but here, we watch specifically as they migrate to Bolivia while on the run from the law in search of a more successful criminal career. It works for a little while, that is until the boys rely who they really are and know that they can’t settle down, be calm, and cool. They got to rob, even if their lives depend on it.

For the past two months, something has come over me. I keep on finding myself, sitting down once a week, and poppin’ in a DVD of a Western movie. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather, because I’m bored, or just because I enjoy a nice little shoot ’em up action that take place in deserts, but I’ve just been watching them a lot lately. However, seeing all of these Westerns so much, I think I’ve come to terms with what’s usually seen and accepted with them, which makes it all the better to see one that isn’t your typical Western, no matter how much it gets regarded as one.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

What separates this Western, from so many others out there in the world is that director George Roy Hill takes an approach to this material that is more light-hearted, then it is grim, which is something very different for a Western, especially for one back in that day. When you get the usual Eastwood/Leone Spaghetti-Westerns, you get sinister, dark stares into the sky; guys killing each other in cold blood; innocents going down like flies, and a whole bunch of other gritty shit that is willing to make anybody feel depressed. That’s where this film is very different with that idea that everything has to be dark and grim, in order to make a good Western. All you really need is a bunch of laughs, shootings, and bank robberies, to have a good old-fashioned time, and that is exactly what Hill and co. allow for us to have.

In fact, that’s what really kept me going with this film even when it started to hit some slow spots, here and there. Everybody involved with this flick seems like they’re having so much fun and it’s almost contagious because whenever you see these guys rob a bank or beat the shit out of some gringos, you don’t feel mad at them or feel like these are the two most despicable pieces of human-beings that you have ever seen put on-screen. Instead, you love it and you can’t wait till they start to do some more of that, along with knocking out some pretty funny one-liners along the way to really get you laughing. It’s not all about being an evil son-of-a-bitch here, it’s about being on the bad-side of the law and still having a fun-ass time regardless of wondering who is following you and when they are going to eventually catch your asses. Very different approach to the usual Western people in those days were used to, and I’d say it’s a good thing that it changed the genre up because without this flick, that genre probably would have started to fall off the face of the Earth and become a bore to every person who even bothered with it.

Then again, it’s a genre that’s still growing strong all of these years later, so I think it’s safe to say that the times may have changed, yet the game remains the same.

But people, let’s be honest, this movie would not be as entertaining and fun if it wasn’t for the two leading men, playing in these iconic roles: Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both of these actors, in their own right, are amazing actors that will forever be remembered in pop-culture just for giving out some great performances for basically every film they have done, but they’re pairing here is definitely some of the most fun either of them have had in any film prior to this. Whether they are together or not, both seem to be having a ball with themselves, as well as the material and it’s almost infectious, especially when you get to watching these two vets just work their hardest to make their fun time, not just their fun time, but ours as well. Thankfully, it works.

Newman just oozes cool no matter what it is that he does and plays the brains-side of this duo very well as Butch Cassidy, and Robert Redford plays his charm up perfectly, as one of the most intimidating dudes with a ‘stache ever, The Sundance Kid. Both of them have very different sets of skills, but they both complement each other in a way where the one would totally have the others back no matter what it was that they have gotten themselves into.

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Watching these guys together on-screen is like a work of magic because every scene they have together, just makes them feel more and more like they were actual buds, who just got done having a few pints at the bar before they walked onto the set and started filming. They both play off of each other perfectly and use their hilarious comedic-timing to their advantage every which way of this flick and it definitely helped me stay on-board with this flick, even when it seemed like the film was starting to lose my attention at points. You never stop liking these guys, no matter what bad acts they commit, and I think that’s much ado to the pure likability that lie within these guys’ acting. The chemistry between them is THAT good, and it’s no wonder why they teamed up again for The Sting, and kicked ass there as well.

Perhaps if I was to choose a problem with this flick, it would be that it’s not all that exciting as I would have liked to have expected. The story starts off perfectly with just the right amount of energy and fun that’s needed, but as soon as the film starts to focus on the unneeded “love triangle” between Butch, Sundance, and Sundance’s girl, Etta, I felt like the film cooled down it’s brakes and was really wasting valuable time that could have been dedicated more to these guys just having a fun time, regardless of whether it was all true or not. Thankfully, that last shoot-out where they face-off against all of Bolivia is by far one of the most iconic endings in film-history, and with good reason: it’s full of just the right amount of suspense and emotion, all to solidifie the legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And what legends they truly were, to all bandits all over the world. Even the wet ones.

Consensus: Though it cools itself down in bits and pieces, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is still a very fun, light, and humorous-take on the Western genre that is so much more legit, due to the fact of Newman and Redford’s chemistry being some of the best anyone has ever seen between two buddies in a buddy film, on and off the screen.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even when caught off-guard, they still look cool as fuck.

Even when caught off-guard, they still look fly as fuck.

Donnie Darko (2001)

Your head will probably hurt by the end of this one.

A troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.

Donnie Darko is one of those cult films that is “the crazy film” that all the hip, cool teenagers all talk about. Some say it’s amazing, some say it makes no sense, and as for me I’m sort of in between which is all good.

Writer/Director Richard Kelly is amazing here in his debut flick with a lot of things to do, but makes it all so perfectly laid out for us to easily follow. There are a lot of perfect scenes where it’s just a cheesy 80’s song played over all this movement around one area, and it really is perfect how he captures how humans inter-act. My favorite scenes are the ones he uses with the school, because he captures all of the cliches of your typical high-school, but makes them look so real. He also has a lot of mind-bending scenes where he does a play-back, speed-up, and some cool special effects that all look great and add a lot to the overall feeling of this film.

My favorite element of this film probably has to be the amazing script this has. It touches on so many subjects with such wit, bravery, poignancy that it all works here. There is a lot of confusing things that happens, but to back it all up you have these pitch-perfect conversations that these characters have that almost feel like real-life. There is plenty of talk about how the 80’s American dream was viewed as, and how the suburban family really was, and the way Kelly satirizes it, just works so well. Despite all the normal, every day talk that this film brings up, there are also questions about life that make you think. Is the life we live, exactly how we imagine it? And if so, can we change our out-comes or are we all just destined for our fate with no way of changing it at all? These as well as many other questions are brought up and we never quite figure out what exactly this film is talking about sometimes, but it’s almost too hard not to be confused.

However, I think that Kelly’s best part with this film was the human parts of this film. I loved the scenes where Donnie is sitting at dinner with his family, or is in school, or just talking to his friends. All of those scenes were perfect of how they captured human emotions, and reactions, but I almost wish there was more of that. The film tends to lose it’s head in all the craziness that ensues so a lot of the poignant and honest human parts are lost.

Jake Gyllenhaal is the perfect choice for social out-cast Donnie Darko. Donnie is one of those kids in school that didn’t really talk to anybody because he didn’t care, was a little strange, and didn’t want to be a conformist, and Gyllenhaal plays that part so well. He’s such a smart kid that almost everything he says is like poetry, and the teenage angst he has is just so perfectly played. Donnie Darko may be one of the best teenage character’s of all-time, and one of Gyllenhaal’s best performances of all-time.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too each getting their own screen-time. Jena Malone is great here as the main love interest, Gretchen. Her character is so sweet, and cute that the scenes that her and Donnie have are my favorite. Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, which in case you couldn’t tell is Jake’s real-life sister, they all play members of the Darko family and do a great job as well. Others in the cast that do good jobs as well are Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, a really young Seth Rogen, Beth Grant, and the always reliable Patrick Swayze doing everything right.

Also, may I add that the ending is epic. The film perfectly builds up to the last 15 minutes, and you won’t forget about it when it’s over.

Consensus: Writer/Director Richard’s Kelly debut feature may lose it’s head with the mind-bending elements, but it has a perfect script, great performances, and a story that goes places you won’t be expecting, and won’t be disappointed in seeing anyway.

9/10=Full Price!!

The Graduate (1967)

A film for all cougars saying it’s alright.

Dustin Hoffman (in his first major film role) turns in a landmark performance as a naïve college graduate who is seduced by a middle-aged neighbor (Anne Bancroft) but ends up falling in love with her beautiful, young daughter (Katharine Ross).

I have heard and seen many great things about this movie and how great it truly is, and to be honest I can’t quite say I will go against that but I won’t call it the greatest.

The film starts out as a great and wonderful comedy that is all about being awkward and very situational. The writing here is top-notch with a lot of funny little quirks to go along with a lot of ironic humor. But the best thing about the screenplay that it also speaks a lot about actually staying committed to one person for the rest of your life, which I found to be the most brutally honest aspect of the film.

I feel like the problem here is that the genration gap is the big problem. This film was back in the 60’s where everything was goody goody and of course this movie was hilarious back then. But now looking at it the satirical look at these characters doesn’t quite hold up since it does seem a bit dated now in the 21st century. Also, the score from Simon & Garfunkel had its moment, but the same song was played about 4 times in this movie and I found it to be a bit annoying to say the least.

Director Mike Nichols does give out a great job here at the directing chair and shows that he knows how to direct. The way he positions the camera in some scenes, it was very different at the time and can still be viewed as different nowadays but the way he uses these camera angles to convey a sort of emotion works so well. The way the film changes at the end with the drama and sort of romantic comedy way did push me back a little bit but not too much to where I was totally appalled.

Hoffman is very good here in his first big role. He plays this character Ben with such awkwardness, that you can’t really at all hate this character cause he is just way too nerdy but at the same time funny. In my opinion I found Anne Bancroft to be actually very better-looking than her daughter and she plays this role with such sexiness and deviously, that she is probably one of the better female performances I have seen in awhile.

Consensus: The Graduate doesn’t quite hold up today as it did back then, but still has gret writing, inspired direction, and wonderful performances from Hoffman and Bancroft.

9/10=Full Price!!