Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Richard Pryor

Lost Highway (1997)

Sometimes, you’ve just got to get off the road. Like, way off the road.

Cool and happenin’ jazz musician Fred (Bill Pullman) lives a pretty fine life with his lovely wife (Patricia Arquette). But for some reason, he constantly keeps on thinking that she’s having an affair, driving him to go a little bit nuts in the head. However, he is shocked when he discovers that she’s dead and is being framed for it all, without he himself knowing whether or not he actually did it. Meanwhile, I think, there’s a young mechanic named Pete (Balthazar Getty) who is suddenly drawn into a web of deceit by a temptress (Patricia Arquette) who is cheating on her gangster boyfriend (Robert Loggia). Are these two tales linked? And if so, by what?

Uh. I’ll take my chances at a Motel 6.

Lost Highway is, no surprise, another one of David Lynch’s mind-benders that probably takes more time to watch and decipher it, again and again, than is probably necessary. However, there’s also some fun to be had in that, what with the movie not forgetting to constantly throw small hints, clues and little bits and pieces at us that may or may not tell us the whole story, or may just lead us down a path towards more darkness and confusion than ever before. Then again, there’s some fun to be had in that, especially when Lynch himself seems to know of the maze he’s taking us on, rather making stuff as he goes along, as he can often sometimes seem to do.

And in Lost Highway, there’s some fun to be had, but also some annoyance, too. In a way, it’s hard to really pin-point what it is about this movie works and what doesn’t, as much as it’s easy to say what’s hitting its mark the way it’s intended to, and what isn’t. For Lynch here, it seems like he’s got the mood down perfectly; there’s a creepy air of neo-noir mystery, coldness, and darkness that actually makes it more interesting to watch, despite the slow pace and sometimes meandering story. But Lynch clearly put a lot of effort into the way the movie look, felt and sounded, with all aspects being top-notch and creating a very paranoid, sometimes eerie aura of danger lurking somewhere underneath, and it pays off.

Then, you get to the story and well, there’s a lot to be desired.

It’s not that Lynch made a mistake in telling these two different stories and demanding that we make the connection in our times, by ourselves, it’s just that they aren’t all that interesting to watch. Bill Pullman’s story has some interest-factor because of it seeming like an attack on the male-psyche, whereas Balthazar Getty’s seems to sort of go nowhere. It’s as if Lynch was so enchanted with Arquette in the first place, that he didn’t really care how much mileage he could get out of her – so long as she was willing to act in two, somewhat different roles, then so be it.

Like, is she even real?

And well, there’s not a problem with that, either, because Arquette is quite good in both roles, playing up her beauty and sweetness, as well as her possible viciousness and danger, too. Arquette’s dual roles, while showing her off as being both sleek and sexy, also give her a chance to fool around with the audience, not allowing us to know whether or not she’s a good person, a bad one, or even a person at all. After all, she could just be a figment of these two guys’ imaginations, as well as our owns. The movie doesn’t always make that clear and while it’s a solid job on Lynch’s part for keeping that guess up and about, it’s also a solid job on Arquette’s too for never losing our attention.

But it does deserve to be noted that Lost Highway, by a certain point, at least, does seem to have painted itself into a corner that it can’t get out of and when it’s all done, there’s a big question-mark left. While you can say that about practically every other Lynch flick, it feels more frustrating here, where it’s as if Lynch himself didn’t have the answers or conclusions, but instead, just wanted to take his good old time, going wherever he oh so pleased. Sure, that’s fine, mostly because it’s an entertaining and compelling watch, but sometimes, a little help here and there could definitely help.

Actually, I know they do. But hey, that’s why I am me and David Lynch is, thank heavens, David Lynch.

Consensus: Odd, creepy and downright freaky, Lost Highway highlights Lynch at his most subversive, but also shows that his knack for storytelling doesn’t always pan-out as well as he may intend.

7 / 10

Yeah, don’t ask.

Photos Courtesy of: Jay’s Analysis


A Haunted House (2013)

Please let the ghost prevail in the end. Please.

A young couple, Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Keisha (Essence Atkins), have recently settled into what they believe is their dream house but all of a sudden figure out that there is a ghostly/paranormal presence around and they try and figure out what to do next with it. Hi-jinx and shenanigans ensue, as you could assume.

I don’t think the plot-synopsis up above even deserves to be there as I could probably describe this movie to you in three words and you’ll most likely make up your mind as to whether or not you want to see it; fart, sex, race. If that is your type of lowbrow humor, then hey, this is your bag, baby, but if it’s not and you like a little more jazz for your material, then you may not want to even bother checking out this bag, baby. Seriously, baby, just don’t!

To be honest, I’m no square when it comes to my comedy. I don’t mind if they’re stupid and just like to throw the dirty jokes at the wall, and see what sticks, just as long as it’s funny. This movie has those same, exact elements but yet, just isn’t funny. I will admit, there were probably five times (that’s one hand) that I actually chuckled during this movie, but other than those times, the rest of the hour-and-thirty-six-minute movie just felt like pure torture while everybody else around me laughed, heckled, and practically pissed their pants. Hey, I guess that’s just the life of a movie critic. It’s the road I chose and it’s the road I have to deal with, and that’s why watching movies like these definitely make me re-think that road, sometimes.

Actually, I wouldn’t even go that far but I will say that this movie is just not funny. Any time it seems like Marlon Wayans has a chance to be smart or witty with his jokes about how generic the horror-genre can get, he drops the ball and replaces those jokes with another fart-noise or scene of somebody having intense, crazy sex. The horror genre definitely got a nice refresher last year with Cabin in the Woods, and it would have been nice to see another hit at that same genre, from a guy who was one of the first to really hit it hard (Scary Movie), but Wayans and director Michael Tiddes aren’t too concerned with that. They just want to be lowbrow, for the sake of being lowbrow and not realizing that if a joke doesn’t work the first time, then by God all means, it most likely won’t work for the seventh or eighth time.

I don't think anybody told him that getting in bed with a Wayan, won't and hasn't been able to help your career out since 2000. And that's pushing it.

I don’t think anybody told him that getting in bed with a Wayan, won’t and hasn’t been able to help your career out since 2000. And that’s pushing it.

Take this for instance, the other characters in this movie that just show-up, act and make total asses of themselves, and leave. Nick Swardson is a guy I always find funny in all things that he does (Bucky Larson doesn’t count, Bucky Larson should never count) and here, it seems like he would have a scene-stealing role as the gay psychic who constantly hits on Wayans and tries to get him to turn to the gay-side. However, as soon as the guy shows up on-screen and continues to ask him if he’s ever been with another man, it just continues on and on and on, almost until the movie never feels like it’s going to end with the non-stop gay jokes. I like a good gay joke as much as the next, straight man that just so happens to be watching, but when you do it time after time, and make it the same joke, then it’s just annoying and seems like you may need a bit of help when it comes to being fresh or original. Whether you choose one or the other, this flick is neither.

The same thing you say about Swardson, could be said about everybody else in this freakin’ flick, especially Cedric the Entertainer, who really seems like he needs a stand-up comedy gig, and soon as well. Actually, everybody who shows up, at least tries and barely (I do repeat, BARELY) got a few chuckles out of me, but they are basically the whole backbone to this movie and are simply there to save it. However, saving this movie, is just something they cannot do when they are given this terrible of a script. It’s a shame too, because you have a lot of talented people here that seem like they were once at the top of their game and in ways, still are, but just don’t have any clue what to do here when it comes to being caricatures. And even if they have been caricatures before, then let me just say that these are not good caricatures that you can laugh at. You more or less want them to just go away and not come back to the flick and yet, they continue to show-up. I guess Wayans just didn’t know when to stop, in terms of script and the characters.

Oh, sweet, sweet memories of Pulp Fiction. And even worse, they fucking reference that movie in this!! What the fuck?!?!?

Oh, sweet, sweet memories of Pulp Fiction. And even worse, they fucking reference that movie in this!! What the fuck?!?!?

Even Wayans himself is oddly annoying and throughout the whole movie I just kept thinking to myself, “Wasn’t this guy freakin’ amazing as the druggie from Requiem for a Dream?!? Holy Shit! He was!!”. Now, obviously some people would probably argue with me and say otherwise, but you can’t lie, he was good in that movie and he was pretty good at comedy back in his hey-day, but now, he just seems like the old guy that can’t get rid of the same punch-lines he’s used before. He’s like that old cook who’s going through Alzheimer’s and doesn’t realize that everybody’s giving him pity laughs, when he tells a joke, because it’s the same one he’s been using for the past 10 years. Now Wayans is only 40, but it still seems like he is way far back in his head and in the game to be making jokes, let alone to be acting like a little teenager again, as if he just snuck-out with mommies car. It may be a tad weird saying this, but; I think Wayans is way past his prime and should just hang-up the mic before he gets way, way into over his head. Sort of like Eddie Murphy before him. Heck, wasn’t this guy supposed to play Richard Pryor!??! Hell to the no on that shizz-nit!

Consensus: A Haunted House will probably have any bored and sexually-frustrated thirteen-year-old, crapping his pants at what’s on-display, but if you’re a person who wants more than just fart, poop, ball, dick, sex, gay, and racist jokes, then you may shit out of luck here and don’t worry, Scary Movie 5 is on it’s way soon! Woo-hoo!

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

I guess they got a chance to see the final-product.

I guess they got a chance to see the final-product.

Richard Pryor – Live on Sunset Strip (1982)

I remember one day, I was looking up reviews on Eminem’s new album, and one critic compared it to this movie, Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip. Since I had yet to see this movie, I decided to go out and find it.

No subject is safe from barrier-breaking comedian Richard Pryor — not even Richard Pryor himself. Proving his main passion is to make us laugh, the unflinching Pryor cracks jokes about his near-fatal drug-related accident and the fallout in his personal life.

Now I have always heard about Richard Pryor from movie critics, and other fellow comedians, that he was one of the greatest. And to be honest, I never saw any of his stand-up acts, and I’m pretty mad at myself for that now.

The film has tons of laughs and the one best thing about this film is that Pryor does not shy away once from touching on any subject. He makes fun of his own race, which is hilarious but in the same way, also very brave and true.

This gig was actually Richard Pryor’s first since he accidentally set himself on fire while freebasing on cocaine. He talks about anything and everything here: Nazis, marriage, sex, lawyers, Africa, the mafia, the list goes on. While the jokes here are suitably edgy, there are some touching personal moments as well.

However, watch this film closely and you’ll notice the laugh track and the mismatched visuals, as a good portion of it was shot on the Columbia lot and not in front of a live audience. The editing team does their best to give the impression of a single seamless performance, but the fact that it is a combination of three separate dates at two wholly different locations is glaringly obvious.

Pryor shows that he is one and always will be one of the best with his whole act here. He is basically one of the main reasons why comedians have jokes today, and without him all jokes would be knock-knock and racist jokes. He is hilarious as usual and gives probably one of the best delivered stand-up performances I have ever seen.

Consensus: Pryor is on top of his game, with the constant jokes that touch on every controversial subject, while providing enough humor and enough insight from one of the truly greats of comedy.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!