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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Ron Silver

Blue Steel (1990)

Chicks can be cops? Yeah right!

Newly badged-up policewoman Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis) gets her first shift on the job and already has caused enough pandemonium amongst the force to get her side-lined pencil-pushing for the next couple of months. What happened is that during a hold-up in a convenience store, Megan got all tense and caught up in her emotions, and she ended up blowing the guy away, just as soon as he pulled out his gun. It seemed like the right thing for Maggie to do to save her life, as well as many others, but in the faces and minds of the NYPD: It wasn’t and what makes it even worse is that nobody can actually find the gun that the robber pulled-out. Well, that’s because it’s stuck in the hands of sales manager, Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver), a guy who’s outside appearance has him come off as charming, cunning, and slick with his words, but on the inside, there’s some sick, twisted stuff going on there.

If you want to look at this film through a study of femininity at its finest, then you can definitely find a whole bunch of material to chew on. Megan is the type of character that is easy to reel for, even when she seems to be in a bit over her head. She’s easily conflicted, brave, but also a little headstrong, which also helps to make her believable.

Who ya shootin’?

And yes, Jamie Lee Curtis is the one leading the pack as Megan Turner and is good at showing us a real woman, with real feelings, and real emotional problems that we all go through as people, regardless of our gender. Curtis has never really done anything on the big-screen that’s really wiped-out everybody else in the movies that she’s been in, but she’s still very good here and shows that she’s able to be likable, but also quite stiff as well, which may have

That’s why to have a movie focusing on her and all of her troubles to get through this crossroads in her life is more compelling than anything else going on. We rarely ever see a change in where the shoe is on the other foot, especially with cop movies, and it’s pretty interesting because Bigelow presents us with some understandable ideas and thoughts, but never gets to the point of answering them. And to be honest I don’t think they need to. The gender battle between male and female will continue on until one gender is extinct, which wholly means that Megan’s battle will continue along as well. It’s not as sad or depressing as I may make it sound, I promise, but it’s more realistic in the way that not everything in this world is going to change because you can pick up a gun, shoot it, and show how cool and deadly you are.

However, the problem with this movie is that it’s not all about Megan’s pursuits in staying true to herself and her job, but actually about how they need to find this guy who’s going around, killing people, and doing all sorts of other weird stuff along the way. This part of the movie should have been the most interesting and entertaining, hell, even the best part of it all, but it instead showed promise, only to have it continue to falter further and further away from being anything more than just Bigelow throwing a piece of ham in our face as we run on a treadmill.

Every single damn time that we think that Megan’s going to get the bad guy, he somehow finds another way to get out from underneath her grip, and cause even more trouble, pain, and anger for Megan and his victims. It’s tense at times, but after awhile, it feels like Bigelow needs to find someway to prolong this story even further, as if the idea of having Megan be a female cop in a rather masculine police-force wasn’t enough promise for meaty-material. Then again, I’m not the director so I can see why she would want to keep us entertained and compelled as to what’s going to happen next, which sort of did work and sort of didn’t.

Oh, never mind. I see.

As I’ve said before, less style, more story. That’s what I always say.

Okay, maybe I don’t, but in this case, I do.

And playing the psycho here is Ron Silver who is actually pretty creepy, even if his character’s development doesn’t help him out too much. It isn’t that we can’t understand how this guy’s a cook, it’s pretty obvious right from the start; but what we don’t understand is why, why, why! All people are a little sick and twisted in the head once you get to know them, but with this character, it never seems to make much sense, other than for him to serve the purpose of the story. He rambles on about random junk, tells people to do weird things, and sometimes gets into screaming-bouts with himself, just out of the blue. We never find out why he’s a nut, why he continues to kill people, and why he’s so damn determined to get Megan to hold her gun in a demanding, enforcing way. Silver is a talent that we will never miss, but his character can only go on for so long.

The rest of the cast is filled to the total core with character actors of the past and present, some of which, may surprise you by how good they are. Clancy Brown, Kevin Dunn, Richard Jenkins, and Louise Fletcher show up here and bring a little something to the movie. After all, it’s a cop-thriller, but it’s got a tad bit more going on than what we’re used to.

Sort of.

Consensus: Blue Steel succeeds as a close, intimate look on how gender-clashes will always be around no matter where a woman lands herself in, but when it gets to the other points of the story like the mystery, the suspense, and the twists, nothing seems to be clicking like it should.

6 / 10

“I do solemnly swear to put up with sexist assholes.”

Photos Courtesy of: Rotten TomatoesCinéphile

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Ali (2001)

Float like a butterfly and sting like a, uhm, something. I forget.

Meet Cassius Clay, Jr. (Will Smith), a twenty-something boxer who is fresh, young and chock full of fight. He’s also got a bit of a mouth on him that doesn’t make him the most popular boxer among his fellow confidantes, but definitely makes him popular in the eyes of the media that wants to hear/see everything he says/does. But like it is with most celebrities in the public limelight, there usually comes controversy and Clay’s was filled with plenty of it. First came his name change; then, his alliance with Malcolm X (Mario Van Peebles); his numerous marriages and affairs; his defiance against joining the U.S. Army due to “religious reasons”; his relationship with known sports-commentator Howard Cosell (Jon Voight); and plenty more where that came from. All of this eventually leads up to the infamous fight he had with a boxer by the name of George Foreman, in which most people dubbed, “the Rumble in the Jungle”.

Some of you die hards out there may already take notice to the fact that I’ve reviewed this one before, but honestly, that was so far back when, I can hardly remember what I gave it. All I do remember is that I watched it, wrote a terrible review on it and hardly remembered anything after seeing it. That’s what happened to me with most movies back in those early, immature days of my life, but nowadays, when I see something, I give it my full, undivided attention.

So yeah, I decided to give this a re-watch because I knew there was something about I needed to see once again and decide what about it drew me back to it. And after having seen it, for a second time mind you, I can’t really come up with an answer. That’s not because I didn’t pay attention again this time; in fact, it was quite the opposite. I fueled up on so much coffee, I was about to jump right out of the window before seeing this. Meaning, that I was so ready to see this and be able to give it the response it’s worth and not something I put out those many years ago.

"West Philadelphia, born and raised, beyatch!"

“West Philadelphia, born and raised, beyatch!”

But nope. Somehow, nothing seemed to change. Sure, I remembered the movie a lot better now than I did before, but there’s just something odd about this movie and I think that all comes down to Michael Mann himself being the director. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Michael Mann as a director; in fact, I think he’s one of the better ones out there nowadays and I can’t wait to see what he’s got cooking next with this new film starring Chris Hemsworth. However, the problem with him is that when he’s feeling extra “artsy”, it gets in the way of his story – or, in this movie’s case, the lack thereof.

Which, for a biopic about one of sport’s most influential icons ever, means something. Not only do you get in the way of actually connecting to a character that some can deem “misunderstood”, but you don’t really allow there to be anything remotely interesting driving this character, or their story along for us to say. Throw on a two-and-a-half-hour run-time and you’re asking way too much of an audience, especially when you’re not giving them anything to really hold onto.

And that’s not to say everything Mann does here is bad – the look, sound and overall feel of this movie is, predictably, wonderful. You can tell that Mann didn’t take this as some sort of “paycheck gig” and throw in the towel (excuse the pun); he actually puts a spin on the look of this movie when re-creating the environment the United States in the 60’s. Even the boxing sequences themselves are pretty neat, but not in the way you’d expect them to be; rather than having the boxing bouts be full of hooks, jabs, punches, punches and hugs every single second, Mann focuses on what most boxing matches can be: Boring. Now, I’m not saying that boxing in and of itself is boring, but there can be the occasional lull in the action and Mann focuses on that quite well, almost to the point of where it’s too realistic.

Still though, I’ll take realism over any goofy, over-the-top boxing match (which is pretty much what the Rocky films ended up being).

But, like I said before, those bold moves don’t really work unless you can find a way to make the story work as well and that’s just what the problem is here. Mann literally places us right slap dab in the middle of Ali’s life without much rhyme, reason, or even a background on who this person is, why he is the way he is, and exactly who/what made him this way. A part of me feels like Mann was just assuming that all of us know this, or simply don’t care, which isn’t true; getting to know somebody famous and iconic from where they came from is probably the most compelling aspect behind getting a full picture of a person really is and why they’re so worth studying in the first place.

Here though, we just get Ali, who talks a lot, bangs a lot, fights a lot, and changes his mind about whatever it is that he believes in with the drop of a hat. Which, yet again, is another interesting spin Mann takes on this story, but it hardly ever goes anywhere. Instead, we just see Ali act this way and hardly ever get anymore development on it. And that’s pretty much how the rest of this movie plays out: Stuff happens, you never really get a reasoning behind it and it’s off to the next sequence of stuff happening. But while for most movies, from some directors out there (namely Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, etc.), this would work because of how exciting and compelling this stuff is, Mann goes at such a slow-pace, it’s downright dreadful to sit through at times.

For instance, did we really need a seven-minute concert performance by Sam Cooke to start the movie off? Better yet, did we need to see a whole, nearly ten-minute sequence in which Ali jogs through the streets of Africa? Sure, all of it looks and sounds pretty, but when it doesn’t really add much to the final product, what’s the point? By then, you’re just taking up space and precious time, so don’t bother with it!

The make-up department was just having a field day with this one I'm sure.

The make-up department was just having a field day with this one I’m sure.

Another problem that most seem to have with this movie that I can somewhat attest to is how Will Smith is doing more of a full-fledged impersonation of Ali, rather than an actual performance in and of itself. And while I don’t necessarily think Will Smith does a bad job in the role (he tries so very hard, it’s almost uncomfortable to watch at times because you never know if he’s going to sprain an acting-muscle), I can’t say that I think this performance is “Oscar-worthy” or even the best he’s given, ever. Regardless of what some may say, Will Smith is a very good actor when he wants to be and when he’s given the right material, and here, he just doesn’t have it. He’s supposed to sound, look, and act like Ali and he does a fine job at that, but really getting to the core of somebody the media usually portrays as a “misunderstood, yet incredibly influential icon”, is just not something he’s able to do.

Once again, most of that blame is put onto those who gave him this thin-material to work with, as well as Mann for not really pushing Smith harder than he’d ever been pushed before.

The same can sort of be said for the supporting cast as well, which has plenty of recognizable names and faces, yet, aren’t given much to do except just act like other famous people. Jon Voight, for no other reason than that he’s Jon Voight, was nominated for an Oscar here as Howard Cosell which, like in the case of Smith’s Ali, is nothing more than an impersonation aided by very well-done hair and make-up; Giancarlo Esposito shows up as Ali’s daddy and gets a few scenes to work, but seems like a lot of his stuff was cut-out; Mario Van Peebles has some impressive scenes as Malcolm X, but, yet again, is just doing an impersonation; and Mykelti Williamson, despite being quite hilarious as Don King, feels more like a caricature than an actual boxing promoter (much like the real Don King, I guess, but that’s not the point). The only one who really steps away unscathed is Jamie Foxx who, before this movie, was mostly known for his comedy, but at least shows that he had some dramatic-chops in his system as one of Ali’s trainers.

Makes total sense now why Mann would later cast Foxx in the much-better Collateral, but that’s another review, for another day, folks.

Consensus: While it’s clear that mostly everybody involved tries, Ali comes off more like an uninvolved highlight-reel of the famous boxer’s most famous and controversial moments, that would probably be more compelling to actually read in a biography, than everything here.

4.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"You best watch what you say about Jaden! That kid's an intellectual!:

“You best watch what you say about Jaden! That kid’s an intellectual!:

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Find Me Guilty (2006)

Whoever thought that Dominic Toretto could actually act.

Training his lens on infamous mobster “Fat” Jack DiNorscio (Vin Diesel) — a man who decided to defend himself in court rather than rat out his cohorts –director Sidney Lumet recounts the longest Mafia trial in U.S. history.

The one thing about this courtroom film that separates it from plenty others, is the fact that draws its dialogue from actual courtroom transcripts that happened. This was really cool because we never felt that biased, misunderstanding of the law when this case is all said and done. I also liked how well the script was written because there are many comedic moments, but then there are actual deeply strong, emotional moments that happen as well but it never feels too cheesy. Sidney Lumet knows how to tell a story, and make it entertaining, despite the story not all being that thrilling.

However, the problem with this film is that it does run on too long. This film is about 2 hours long, and they cram the whole court case into that time limit, which was kind of a long stretch considering that sometimes this film can show a lot of problems within the American judicial system.

The film also does have us rooting for these actual criminals in the end, and this to me all seemed weird. These guys all committed crimes, killed people, dealt drugs, and have basically gotten caught doing it all, but now, we are supposed to root for them in a case that shows these criminals for what they are. There is a lot of evidence in this film that will have you kind of shake your head at the American judicial system, but this is all real stuff here, so I can’t really hold that much against this film.

Vin Diesel proves that he actually can act here as Jack DiNorscio, and knocks his performance out-of-the-park. Diesel has the incredible likability, to match his huge muscles, that makes us love Jackie and root for him as this film goes on. Although this is a bad guy, who has done many bad things, we kind of see him as a human being, that wants nothing more than for his friends to be free and safe, and not rat them out at all. Peter Dinklage is also awesome in his role as Ben Klandis, Linus Roache is pretty good as the evil lawyer Sean Kierney, Ron Silver does what he does as Judge Finestein, and Annabella Sciorra shows up randomly but owns her scene. Let’s not also forget Alex Rocco here as Nick Calabrese, who everybody probably remembers as Moe Greene.

Consensus: Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty won’t have you thrilled, or inspired at all by the American judicial system, but with impressive performances from the cast, mainly Diesel, and a nice pace, you won’t be bored.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Reversal of Fortune (1990)

Those damn Germans, always causing trouble.

The enigmatic Claus von Bülow (Jeremy Irons) stands accused of putting his wife, Sunny (Glenn Close), into a perpetual coma with an insulin overdose. Claus hires hard-charging attorney Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver), who scrambles to defend his client — with help from some impassioned Harvard law students — while Sunny narrates flashbacks that shed light on the events that lead to her condition.

The whole film has a plot line that seems it should almost be a tragic drama. However, it combines that weird element of satire and docudrama. I mean its a weird combination, that at some points doesn’t quite work out the best in ways, but still is entertaining.

The praise of this film goes to Director Barbet Schroeder who makes this film a lot of different things, but mostly all just effective. He has this story told with so many flashbacks, and doesn’t leave out a detail that we feel as most that we are the lawyers in this film as well. The movie remains all ambiguous about what actually happened to Sunny, but we still get this feeling as to nothing is right.

I also enjoyed how many courtroom dramas that we know, like A Time To Kill and Primal Fear, all end up in the big courtroom scene, where as this is more about what goes on outside of the courtroom. We see all of the prepping, investigating, and questioning that goes into these cases, and it actually surprises me onto how much the lawyers themselves create so many stories, just to find out the truth.

However, I did have many multiple problems with this film. These “cutesy” students with their quips and their basketball and their sitting crossed-legged on coffee tables were annoying. Even Silver/Dershowitz was irritating with his persistent agonizing and flittering. Also, throughout this film the speed actually sped up, and I was more taken into this film. Then surprisingly, it got slower, and slower, without any real pace at all.

I have to give the most praise to Jeremy Irons, who actually did deserve that Oscar he was given. Although, I think Costner still gave almost a better performance with his material, Irons plays this character with such simplicity and realism, that its actually hard to tell on whether or not he actually did it. You want to hate this guy, cause of the way of his lifestyle, but yet he is so charming and cool that you actually want to be like him in a way. I think a nomination for Best Supporting Actress should have been given to Close, cause with the very few scenes she gets she actually brings out a lot of emotion, that actually has us caring for her character.

Consensus: Though its pace is all over the place and story is bit off setting, this strange film does well with its direction from Schroeder, wonderful writing, and most of all powerful performances from Irons and Close.

8/10=Matinee!!!