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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Lucinda Jenney

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Just watch the X-Files.

John Klein (Richard Gere), a respected journalist, loses his wife (Debra Messing) one night, after she takes the wheel of their car and sees a strange figure attack her. Cut to two years later and John has found himself in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where there has apparently been many sightings/clues of a secret ghost out there, and John thinks he has the answers to all of the clues.

Saying that your movie’s story, no matter how creepy or strange it may be, is a “true story” or “based on a true story”, makes it seem like such a manipulative-way for the filmmakers to have us take the material more seriously. I mean, it did somehow work with movies like the Blair Witch Project and Cannibal Holocaust, but that was all because it looked and felt real, and also, nobody really had any idea whether to prove it false or not. However, stories like these where everything dark in the world seems to come up, doesn’t make it more freaky because it’s “based on a true story,” but instead, how about this, just makes it more dull.

However, don’t go up to director Mark Pellington and tell him that this material is, in fact, “dull”, because he’ll try his hardest to prove you wrong with any trick he can pull out of his director’s hat. Every chance that Pellington gets to make us forget what type of lame story we’re seeing, he capitalizes on it and gives us something to treat our eyes and for the most part, yeah, it actually works. The constant barrage of tricks and effects that Pellington pulls off aren’t all stuff we haven’t seen done before, but at least he makes a conscientious effort to really pull us into this state of paranoia and fear. You can tell that Pellington comes from a long line of directing music-videos, and it works for the overall atmosphere and tone of the movie.

The color blue is always a sign that something bad is 'a brewin'.

The color blue is always a sign that something bad is ‘a brewin’.

But just like most directors who have a music-video background, they just can’t quite get the narrative.

See, with Pellington’s direction,  no matter how hard he tries to keep our minds off of it, he still can’t get past the fact that this story is relatively boring. The pace is always off, with the plot constantly starting-and-stopping, and then never knowing how to pick itself back up again. Pellington knows how to freak us out, but to keep our interest is a whole other issue right then and there, and it’s hard to keep total invested interest.

As for the story, it isn’t terrible; there’s an idea of an mystery and having no idea what’s going to happen next, but it happens in such short spurts that it hardly almost matters. We get way too many scenes where it’s just Gere talking to some weird thing on the phone and says something disastrous is going to happen, it does end-up happening, and Gere runs around looking for an explanation by talking to random people as well as that weird thing. You can only watch Richard Gere run around, looking like a bewildered-fool so many times, and by the 45-minute mark of already seeing this 20 times, it’s hard not to be done here.

And oh yeah, Gere is terribly bland as John Klein and even though it seems like the dude should have more emotions and ideas in his because he for one, went through a terrible life-crisis like losing his lovely wife, somehow doesn’t. Instead, you don’t care about him, the paranoia he’s going through, the sadness he went through with his lost wife, and worst of all, you just don’t feel like the guy’s actually scared. Yeah, Gere puts on that scared-expression plenty of times, but it came to a point of where it seemed like the only skill the guy could pull out of his one-note bag of expressions and it made me realize why I have never cared for Gere in the first place.

Something I sure he’s really broken up about.

Generic Richard Gere look #2

Generic Richard Gere look #2

Laura Linney is pretty dull here, too, as the country bumpkin police officer that made me want to give Frances McDormand a call. Linney’s does what she can, but all she really does is put the same expression on as Gere has, try to look scared the whole time, and in the end, somehow act like she’s the one after his heart and can save him from all of this pain and fear he’s had to deal with throughout the past two years of his life. I’d be able to believe that these two would have some sort of a romance between one another, if the film ever alluded to it throughout the whole two hours, but it rarely ever does and when it seems like Linney goes all goo-goo eyes over Gere at the end, it was just dumb and a contrived way for the movie to bring these two together at the end. An end that was, yes, pretty cool to look at, but also, an end that signified that this long movie was finally over and I could get on with my life, forget about Gere, forget about Linney, and hopefully, watch a better movie before the day was up.

Consensus: Mark Pellington is a fine director that does all that he can to keep us awake throughout the Mothman Prophecies, but the script and story think otherwise, and sort of carry everything down with a dead-weight of total and complete dullness.

3 / 10

What I should have done from this movie.

What I should have done from this movie.

Photos Courtesy of: Thecia.Com.Au

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Thirteen Days (2000)

Next time, let’s just take all of the nuclear devices away from possible enemies.

For thirteen very long, very crucial, and very tense days in October of 1962, the world stood on the brink of an unthinkable catastrophe. While there were plenty of questions in the air, almost nobody had a single answer, which is what kept the world, or most especially, the United States, on the edge of their toes, taking each and every precaution there was. Of course,I’m speaking of the apocalyptic nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union, which would turn out to be the “Cuban Missile Crisis”, and it was an issue that was fought long and hard, from just about every person in the White House at that time. There was, obviously, President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) who, when he wasn’t facing controversies surrounding his risque personal life, also had a lot to handle with being the positive face of the country. However, there were more powers at-work than just JFK when it came to this crisis of sorts. There was the Special Assistant to the President, Kenneth O’Donnell (Kevin Costner), who was also dealing with some troubles at home, as well as Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (Steven Culp), who was clearly in the shadow of his brother, but also was trying to find a way to solve each and every issue in his own way, while maintaining a level head.

Who can out Boston-accent the other?!?

Who can out Bawhstan the other?!?

Thirteen Days is, essentially, a two-and-a-half-hour long movie in which a bunch of middle-aged men sit around, smoke cigars, have the occasional shot of Scotch or two, yell, and have discussions with one another about Cuba. That’s basically it. While I’m most positively sure that won’t work or sound at all appealing to younger, more explosion-driven audiences, for someone like me, believe it or not, who values a well-told story with emotional fireworks, as opposed to the actual physical ones, then yeah, it actually works/appeals to me.

Won’t for everybody, but hey, screw everybody!

What director Roger Donaldson does best is that he allows for us to feel suspense and intensity, even while we clearly know what’s to come of this story, how it’s going to end, who is going to live, who is going to perish, and most importantly, what life lessons will be learned when all is said and done. Certain movies like Titanic, or Apollo 13, or a more similar one like JFK, all toy with the perception and idea of reality, what we know of history, and uses it as a springboard to actually get us involved and invested with the story. Somehow, even though we know a good portion of history and had to, sadly, go through all of those years in the backs of classes, wondering who the 15th President was and never remembering, there’s still that feeling that not everything will go exactly as according to plan. Donaldson won’t take any huge risks like re-writing history, but the simple idea that he actually could, makes Thirteen Days all the more exciting.

Even though, yes, it is just a bunch of dudes talking to one another.

And yes, even at two-and-a-half-hours, maybe the movie’s a tad too long. There’s certain facts about the Cuban Missile Crisis that were apparently unearthed for the first time in this movie and because of that, the movie goes on beyond just being a re-enactment. But at the same time, it’s still doing a lot of re-telling, without ever putting its own narrative-spin. In a way, it almost feels like Thirteen Days works as something that would work best on the History channel, as opposed to a full-length, big-budget (although you wouldn’t always know it), feature flick. We never really get an investigative eye into what happened and what we still perceive to be as history, but mostly, just a “Hey guys, this is probably what happened when you were all duck and covering under your desks.”

Then again, maybe Thirteen Days doesn’t need to be anything more than a slightly glamorized re-telling of what may or may have happened. There’s just a certain feeling I can’t help but embrace where I wonder, being in the 21st Century and all, whether or not we should ask more questions about our history, where we come from, and what made us the country that we are today. Granted, maybe these are the types of questions that only I would like to hear answered, or possibly explored, but for some reason, watching a movie paint a nearly God-like portrait of Bobby and John Kennedy, still feels like a missed-opportunity. We should be able to paint a little closer and hold-up the lense to what we see as our nation’s history.

"Marilyn or Jackie tonight?"

“Marilyn or Jackie tonight? Hmmmmmm.”

If we can’t do that, then what’s the point of re-telling stories like this all over again?

Inform the public? Re-live the golden days when time was a lot simpler and somewhat more paranoid? Make a quick buck?

I don’t know, really. This isn’t to say that a movie like Thirteen Days, one that’s well-acted, exciting and believe it or not, fun, without ever trying to showcase a car-crash or actual action-sequence, doesn’t deserve to exist, but hey, push a little harder or further next time. I’m not saying put RFK or JFK on a stake and make them apologize for their ways, but an extra discussion or two about what was the right move, what wasn’t, and what deserves to be talked about to this day.

After all, if schools cease to exist, and all we have to rely on is movie’s for education, then why not dig a bit deeper?

Consensus: Without ever trying to be manipulative, Thirteen Days still works as a sometimes tense, almost exciting re-telling of an infamous time in our nation’s history that maybe, just maybe, there should be more of a discussion about.

7 / 10

Cuba best recognize that this is who they're messing with.

Cuba best recognize that this is who they’re messing with.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins