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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Patricia Belcher

I’ll See You In My Dreams (2015)

There is such a thing as “being too alone”.

Even though her husband’s been dead for nearly 20 years, Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner) hasn’t ever really tried to find a replacement of any sorts. Though she has her dog, Carol’s been quite happy to be by herself and not have to worry about another person in her life that may, or may not, stick around any longer. One day, however, Carol’s dog tragically passes-away, which leaves her all alone, once again. This time, however, Carol feels as though it’s time to make a change and actually start hanging around people. There’s the pool-boy (Martin Starr), who comes around not to just check-up on the pool, but to also hang with Carol because he can’t get past the fact that she was, at one point in her life, this awesome songstress. And then, there’s Bill (Sam Elliott), a fellow older-person who is instantly attracted to Carol and wants everything to do with her. Though he comes on a bit strong, Carol believes that he’s the one that she can spend the rest of her life with. But Carol’s personal issues come into play and it isn’t before long that she soon realizes that maybe she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, even though she’s already lived plenty of it so far.

Martin Starr?

Martin Starr?

I’ll See You In My Dreams is the kind of teeny, tiny indie that I love to see. It’s one that I assume is going to be a good watch because of how many people say it is, but when I actually get down to watching it, I’m totally surprised. What seems like a movie made for older-people to laugh, cry and relate to, actually works for anybody who decides to view it; loss is a universal feeling that anyone can feel, no matter who or what may be lost. That’s why it was all the more shocking when I realized that I’ll See You In My Dreams doesn’t seem to fall for any of the annoying conventions and cliches that we normally expect these kinds of movies to fall in.

For instance, Martin Starr’s character seems like he’s written just so that he can play the younger-apple-of-the-much-older-protagonist’s eye, which, in a way, he sort of is, but co-writer/director Brett Haley and writer Marc Basch are a lot smarter than that. Instead, they make this character seem a little more aimless and sad than you’d expect, therefore, it makes sense as to why he would want to hang around someone who is almost four decades older than him. Maybe he wants to have something of a romantic relationship with her, maybe he doesn’t, but either way, it’s interesting to see how each and every one of their scenes play out, especially since they don’t always go to, or end up places you’d expect them to originally.

And that’s the magic of life; things don’t always go down quite the way you want, or expect them to. Curve-balls can get thrown into your way and it’s up to how you, yourself can get past them and move on to make yourself better.

Which is why it’s really interesting to see how the character of Carol handles loneliness in a way that most movies don’t like to portray: Which is, “hey, I’m doing just fine.” Most movies in this same vein would show Carol as being a miserable, lifeless and angry old lady who wants a man in her life, but at the same time, can’t seem to get along with one well enough to where she could fulfill that need. Instead, here, Carol’s shown as being a very mild, well-manner and easy-going gal that’s been on her own for quite some time and seems perfectly fine with that. Does that mean she doesn’t want something of a companion in her life? No, she definitely wouldn’t mind one, but at the same time, she isn’t necessarily seeking one to make her life feel more fulfilling and happy.

Although her gal-pals (played perfectly by June Squibb, Rhea Pearlman, and Mary Kay Place) all get on her case for not trying to get a man, she shoos them off and does what she wants. However, when she does start to get a person in her life, romantically, in the form of Bill, the movie doesn’t seem like it’s back-tracking and trying to make itself into more of a conventional rom-com. That Bill himself was the one who actually approached Carol and asked her out in the first place, already shows that the movie isn’t trying to make Carol into some sort of love-sick fool, for some odd reason.

Or Sam Elliott?

Or Sam Elliott?

It should be noted that Sam Elliott does a wonderful job as Bill, because he seems like a genuinely charming, nice guy. However, there is a certain odd flavor to the way his character acts on certain dates with Carol that makes you wonder if he’s already too smitten with Carol, or is just using her as a life achievement of his own personal pleasure. Clearly, he’s a nice guy and doe seem to have feelings for Carol, but how genuine they may be, is constantly up in the air and it’s what keeps their scenes together exciting, as well as compelling to watch and listen to, even in the smallest detail.

And while I’m at it, it should be definitely noted that Blythe Danner, finally getting her own chance to shine in a movie of her own, is perfect here.

Danner is perfect for this role as Carol, because she says so much, without saying anything at all. Because Carol herself doesn’t always say what she wants, or in ways, just refuses to do so, already speaks volumes to Danner’s skill as an actress; we don’t always know what Carol is thinking or feeling at any given time, but we know that there’s definitely something going on in her mind that we want to hear about and see. That’s why Danner, who is always lovely to see in anything, works this character in so many wonderful ways, that we’re able to see all sorts of layers to her than just what’s presented. Sure, you can most definitely chalk a lot of that up to writing, but Danner is most definitely the main reason why Carol’s more interesting to watch, even when it seems like she’s doing nothing at all.

Heck! She’s a lot more interesting than some of the girls my same age that I know!

Consensus: With a rare, but wonderful lead performance from Blythe Danner, I’ll See You In My Dreams is a small, but sweet tale that sees the typical conventions a story like this could fall for, and avoids them at every step.

8.5 / 10 

Oh, Blythe. You play 'em, girl!

Oh, Blythe. You play ’em, girl!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Bad Words (2014)

Still have yet to see any of these spelling bees give the word, “Icup”. You’ll get it.

Spelling bees are usually meant for those kids who study all night and day, learn every word in the dictionary, its meaning, its usage in a sentence, its tense and even its place-of-origin. These kids duke it out in a civilized, calm manner, with hopes in that they’ll get the chance to shine in the spotlight for a bit, get a check and even get a chance to meet some pretty famous people. And hell, they should – they’re kids, they studied long, hard and diligently, so why the ‘eff not? Well, hate to break it to these little kiddies, but 40-year-old Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) thinks differently. Through some loophole he miraculously discovers, Guy is able to forge himself into The Golden Quill Spelling Bee competition where he’s up against fifth and sixth graders, and even allowing his whole story to be told to the mainstream media, in the form of a reporter (Kathryn Hahn). As one could suspect, everybody is downright appalled that somebody this rude, crude and downright evil would actually commit such a reprehensible act, but then again, Guy Trilby is a reprehensible guy, so what do you expect?

Jason Bateman, man. We all know you’re funny and everything, but gosh. How are you still able to surprise us?

Fuck ACME, right?!?!?!

Fuck ACME, right?!?!?!

Well, it’s quite simple: He’s a genuinely-talented guy that knows how to make any piece of comedy work. Even if it does mean that he works in junk like Identity Thief. Yeah, let’s just move on from that one, shall we?

Anyway, what I am trying to say here is that we all know Jason Bateman for being a lovable, heart-of-gold, dead-panning smart-ass. It’s an act he’s been perfecting for quite some time and personally, I don’t feel as if it is ever getting old. However, it’s surprising just how many times Bateman hasn’t really gone out on a limb and gotten really wacky and nutty with himself. Sure, there was the Change-Up, where he had to play some-odd version of Ryan Reynolds, but it seems to be that only myself and a few others actually saw it, or better yet, even liked it.

But also, that’s why it is so cool to see him behind the director’s chair with this one, because not only does he get to show us a new skill he may have never utilized before, but he also gets to show us that the dude can still be a likable guy, even if he is playing an absolute and total dick. And an absolute, total dick is exactly what Guy Trilby is; however, he’s an entertaining and relatively lovable one at that. Most of why Trilby gets by as a character, is because Bateman is so likable to begin with, that it doesn’t matter if he’s using racist-comments towards everyone around him, or the fact that he’s antagonizing sixth graders just trying to get ahead of a 40-year-old, grown-man in a spelling bee competition. What does matter is if we get to see that there’s anything more to the guy than just that.

And with both Bateman’s acting and directing, we get to see Guy Trilby for all of his faults, his positives and just what makes him downright human. Honestly, he’s not a great guy, but there are brief snippets where we get to see that he can be a kind guy, even if that does entailing him taking a ten-year-old boy out to steal lobsters, get drunk, eat fast-food and see a pair of boobs. I didn’t say he was perfect, dammit! All I said that he tries to do what is right for both him, and this little boy named Chaitanya Chopra, played wonderfully by Rohan Chand. Together, the two have a nice bit of chemistry that works well and really gives the movie that extra amount of depth the material needed to be than just a “Spellbound meets Bad Santa“-flick.

I guess you can credit most of that to Bateman’s directing, his acting, or the script from Andrew Dodge that isn’t perfect, but still gets most of the beats right. It’s funny when it needs to be funny, but in a mean-spirited kind of way that makes you think you shouldn’t be laughing, yet, still can’t help yourself but to do otherwise. Especially once you see Guy terrorizing and getting inside the heads of all these poor, desperate kids. Sure, it’s terrible to watch, but in a good way that only a dark, R-rated comedy can do and that’s why it’s definitely worth seeing, especially if you’re in the mood for a good couple of hearty laughs.

Why no "Amy Winehouse hairdo" joke wasn't made is totally beyond me.

Why no “Amy Winehouse hairdo” joke wasn’t made is totally beyond me.

Or, if you just want to hear Michael Bluth make derogatory-comments about Arabs, fat people and girls, among others. Never thought I’d be using that in the same sentence, but like I said before: Jason Bateman can still surprise me, even if it is quite late in his career. True comedian right there, people.

By the end, the movie does begin to get a tad repetitive and obvious, as several plot-twists come to the forefront in a heavy, not-so-subtle way. It’s nice to see people like Philip Baker Hall, Ben Falcone and Allison Janney show up in stuff no matter what the occasion may be, but here, the material doesn’t suit them all that well to begin with, or give them much to do. More so Hall than anybody else, as it seems like Bateman really wanted to draw some drama out of just having him around, however, takes the movie down a whole notch along with him. The only one who can bring it back up, other than him and Chand of course, is Kathryn Hahn who, once again, shows us that she can balance-out humor and heart, without making the constant switches and twitches seem all that jarring. Still see a bright future ahead of this gal, even if she is pushing 40 and late in her career. Then again though, could say the same about Bateman and look where he’s going. Oh, Hollywood and all of your talented, over-40 people!

Consensus: May get too dramatic by the end, but with an assured-direction and lead performance from the always-hilarious Jason Bateman, Bad Words works by balancing out its side-splitting, crude humor, with plenty of heartwarming moments to make you think differently about the material you’re watching, as predictable as it may be.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Whatta douche.

Whatta douche.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

What has this Ryan dude got himself into now??!?!?

After saving his family and the Prime Minister of England from a slew of crazy Irishmen, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is now an assistant to the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence when all of a sudden, his longtime friend Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) is diagnosed with cancer. This is tragic news for both Greer and Ryan, but both know that a job has to be done, so that’s when Ryan decides to take over the job as the Deputy Director of Intelligence, where he is assigned his first assignment: Recover $650 million from the Colombian drug cartels that was left over there by one of the President’s good buddies. Ryan is more than willing to complete the task, but he finds out that there is more brewing beneath the surface than just some money being needed. Apparently, some of the President’s closest advisers are involved with these same said drug cartels and want to keep on continuing to make more money, while also getting rid of Ryan and his boy scout-ways. However, as we found out before, Ryan doesn’t go down easy and won’t back down from a challenge, no mater whom it may be coming from.

Patriot Games was no beauty, but it was at least a relatively small, inspired and taut thriller that worked well when it was showing off the mechanics of the technology that surrounds Ryan and his skills, rather than the fists he uses in fights. And compared to this movie, it was a hell of a lot shorter, clocking in at less than two-hours which, still felt long, but nowhere near as long as a near-two-and-a-half-hour movie like the one we have here, which makes this one feel like any other sequel out there: Overlong, over-exposed, over-stuffed, and worst of all, over-directed.

I wouldn't advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that's just me.

I wouldn’t advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that’s just me.

But while I do feel like director Phillip Noyce got his vision better this time with the action, there’s still a weird feeling with the story that didn’t quite keep me as interested here as it did with the last movie. For instance, the novelty of the first movie where it was just this one situation, with these handful of characters, felt like it was a smaller, more-intimate thriller, for lack of a better term. It made you feel as if you were right there in the moment, with these characters, figuring out what was going on, how they were going to solve it and whether or not they were all going to make it out alive. Problem is, that was when Jack Ryan was just a small-timer in the CIA, but now, he’s taking orders directly from the Big Man himself, which already means that the issues are going to be expanded and a whole lot more jumbled.

That’s why I can’t get too pissed at this movie for giving me a story that covers a larger map of where it goes and how, but I can be pissed off at the fact that it was just so damn convoluted. It seems like with any movie that concerns politics, there’s always got to be a slew of lies, deceptions and back-stabbings, which is exactly what we get here, however, there’s just so many that you lose count of who is screwing who over, and why. In fact, half of the people whose names were said, I couldn’t really match the faces with, all because the movie would focus on this one character for a couple minutes, have them leave and then, all of a sudden, let us know that that character was an important player in the rest of the proceedings we were about to be a witness of.

Think Miller’s Crossing’s Mink, but instead of one character played by Steve Buscemi, you have ten different ones, all played by people less charming and lovable as creepy blue eyes.

So, in essence, when the movie does begin to get closer and closer to its climax, it became to be such a chore for me to keep up with who was who, what they were doing, for what reasons and what the major ramifications of them were. That’s why I just gave up and decided to enjoy the action. Which, no surprise whatsoever, was a smart decision on my part because Noyce definitely got that part of the movie down perfectly. Not only does the action come at you at a full 100 mph, but it also feels very tense, as if the whole movie leading up to it was meant for just this one moment. They aren’t action scenes just thrown in there because they were needed, they feel like they enhance the story and keep it moving at a nice pace. That’s what I wish I saw more in my action movies, but I highly doubt I’ll get. So be it.

Tuco?

Tuco?

And, like usual, it’s always a joy to see Harrison Ford acting in a actioner, regardless of who he’s playing, and his second outing as Jack Ryan, shows that he never gets old as the character, even if he is getting a bit old himself. Once again, Ryan’s less of a bad-ass, and more of a smarty pants who knows what to do at any situation and, if he has to, will get his hands dirty. Ford definitely shows no signs of slowing down with this character, which is why I feel like he could have gone on and did ten more of these movies, and we’d still have a great time with him. However, like what seems to be the case for many major motion-picture franchises nowadays, Ben Affleck came, he saw, and he conquered. That Boston bastard.

The most disappointing aspect behind this flick is even while it does put all of this focus on all of these numerous subplots, characters and emotions, we never really get to see much of Anne Archer or Thora Birch as Ryan’s wife and daughter respectively. Makes sense since this movie is more about the government and its non-stop clusterfucks, and less about the family-dynamic inside the Ryan household, but still, a little bit more development would have been perfect. Especially since Archer, even with her shortened screen-time, shows that she’s still a cool wife that’s willing to take the fact that her hubby could die at any second, and she’d be the one to take over the fam-squad. God, that woman sure is a breath of fresh air that I so desperately need in my life. Tired of all these young bimbos. They don’t know shit about the 70’s like my girl Anne does.

Consensus: Like most mainstream sequels usually are, Clear and Present Danger is quite overblown, loud and excessive to the point of where it’s numbing, but still does feature some fun and exciting moments amongst all of the numerous subplots that are hard to keep track of, characters that we don’t care about and less-focus on the ones we do care about, meaning the rest of Ryan’s family, including the new baby boy!

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Jack's still got it. Oh, and so does Harry.

“Knew I should have taken the keys out.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB