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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Tom Skerritt

Lucky (2017)

Realism truly is “a thing”.

Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton) is 90 years old and believe it or not, feels fine. He can’t move his body like he used to and sure, it’s a little creaky every so often, but for the most part, he’s getting by just fine. He spends most of his days doing the same things, like waking up and getting a coffee. Then, he watches game shows on TV and tests his knowledge. And then, lastly, he ends up at the local bar, where he wants to smoke, but doesn’t. Instead, he sits around and waits for someone to have a stimulating conversation with him, whatever it may be, or about whatever.

Lucky doesn’t have much of a plot and that’s actually fine. All it really needs is a solid bit of characters, good performances, and a sweet sense of time and place and it gets by just fine. Making his directorial debut, legendary character actor John Carroll Lynch seems to know how to let a story like this play itself out; he takes his time enough to where some could say it’s “boring” and “slow”, but really, it’s just languid and it fits with everyone and everything else here.

“Coop?”

Especially the one, the only and the late Harry Dean Stanton himself.

And yes, it’s pretty crazy to watch this movie and realize that this would end up becoming Stanton’s swan song, but it feels so incredibly fitting. Stanton himself has never really gotten the chance to have a movie all to himself and it seems like, even at age 90, he was due; the role doesn’t really challenge him, or stretch the talents we know him for, but it doesn’t necessarily have to, either. All it has to do is offer us another great glimpse of the never-ending and charming talents of Stanton, why he was great, why it was always nice to have him around, and why, above all else, he will be missed.

And yes, like I said, Stanton’s pretty great here. He’s charming, wise, and seems like he’s years above everyone else that he meets. But the movie is smart in that it isn’t just about Lucky and his life, as it’s also about the people he runs into on a daily-basis, most of whom put up with him and have been doing so for quite some time. Some will be happy to see David Lynch show up in a cooky-role as a guy looking for his tortoise, others will be happy to see Ron Livingston show up as a life-insurer with a huge mustache, and others, like myself, will be happy to see a nice little Alien reunion between Stanton and Tom Skerritt, in one of the movie’s sweeter scenes.

Seriously, why’s that ‘stache so huge?

But the movie isn’t just about one character over the rest – it’s about all of them and it’s why it’s so sweet.

Carroll Lynch and co-writers Drago Sumonja and Logan Sparks seem to understand how to get the heart of this tale, but never playing their hand too much. Some may not see this as having much of a point, or better yet, not really being about much other than just a bunch of old people talking and yammering on about things that can kind of seem random, but it really isn’t. It’s about watching life pass you by, understanding that reality, moving on, and doing whatever the hell you can to make the best of it while you have it. It sounds cheesy, in retrospect, but Lucky, the movie, as well as the character, aren’t and it’s why it’s a small joy of a movie.

And it’s why we’ll forever miss the talents of Harry Dean Stanton.

Consensus: Sweet and sultry, Lucky is the kind of small and oddly charming movie that works best because of its time, attention, care, and solid performances, especially from the late, great Harry Dean Stanton.

7.5 / 10

Goodbye legend. You will surely be missed.

Photos Courtesy of: Magnolia Pictures

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A Hologram for the King (2016)

Mid-life crisis aren’t always so bad. Sometimes, you just need to go to Saudi Arabia.

Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) is going through a bit of a problem in his life right now. He’s middle-aged, reeling over a divorce, having issues with connecting with his teenage daughter, has some weird hump growing in his back, and is now stationed in Saudi Arabia to sell a holographic teleconferencing system to the Saudi government. But the biggest problem for Alan seems to be that he just can’t connect with the world around him; he’s going through a great deal of culture-shock, but aside from a taxi-cab driver who shows him the land around him (Alexander Black), and a member of the Danish embassy (Sidse Babett Knudsen), he doesn’t really have anyone to hang out with, or better yet, talk to. And if that wasn’t bad already, the people in power that he’s supposed to be chatting with so that he can do his job, don’t ever seem to be around or ready to meet with him. However, it all changes one day when a doctor (Sarita Choudhury) helps him and begins to take a liking to him, showing him not just the beauty of Saudi Arabia, but the beauty of life, as a whole.

I think.

"Don't worry, Tom. You'll probably get another Oscar some time soon."

“Don’t worry, Tom. You’ll probably get another Oscar some time soon.”

A Hologram for the King is the perfect movie for your dad, if your dad is going through a really confusing time in his life. Say, for instance, he’s retired and doesn’t know how to take up any of his time now, has a new void to fill, and doesn’t know how to go about doing anything, let alone that, then yeah, A Hologram for the King is the kind of movie made strictly for your dad. It may get him out of his slump, it may not, but what it will do is offer a sometimes interesting view on the mid-life crisis.

But for others, it may not do anything else.

However, that’s less of a problem with age and more of a problem with the movie itself, as A Hologram for the King, despite having a lot to do, doesn’t have much to say about anyone or anything in it. This is surprising because, even in his lowest of lows, director Tom Twyker has always tried to make his material the least bit interesting, giving enough character details to go along with his spectacle. But in A Hologram for the King, it seems like he gets to swept-away with his location, his actors and his message, and forgets about how to make, well, a movie.

For example, there’s not really a plot to A Hologram for the King, except for a bunch of things that do, or better yet, don’t happen. While the movie likes to make a joke of the fact that this Alan Clay protagonist hardly ever gets to talk to the people he’s supposed to meet and talk to, after awhile, it gets to be a bit bothersome; it’s as if the movie itself doesn’t want to really do much of anything, or move along, so instead, it just constantly pushes back the expected. Maybe it’s unnecessary, but really, it made me feel as if the movie had no real plot and just wanted to show Tom Hanks being his lovable-self.

"Look! It's sand!"

“Look! It’s sand!”

And yes, Tom Hanks is doing just that and he’s perfect at it. Alan Clay is a pretty dull character, but Hanks is great at showing that there’s more to him that’s not just interesting, but pretty fun – even a random trip to the Mosque shows that Clay may have more to him than on the surface. But of course, the movie just sort of relies on Hanks so much, not really ever giving him a chance to actually work with a solid script, that it feels like he’s stretching at times. We get flashbacks and mentions of this character’s life before the flick and why he’s so sad, but really, none of it seems to register – Hanks tries to get that to happen, but the rest of the movie is so concerned with doing nothing, that it doesn’t matter.

But then again, there is a pleasant, almost easygoing feel to it that’s not terrible and can be entertaining. The self-discovery journey takes the movie in some crazy and odd places, but they’re not all that bad, or uninteresting – they do help make us see more of this character through the situations he gets into and how he acts in them. But really, the movie just wants to take its time, let Hanks do his thing, and that’s about it. There may be an important, almost life-changing message about growing older and accepting it for what it is, but I could never find it.

Maybe the message was that “going off to a foreign country, taking some pictures, seeing the sights, hanging with the natives, and drinking a lot will cure any sadness”, was it?

If so, this movie’s way better than I give it credit for.

Consensus: Despite a pleasant look, feel and pace courtesy of Twyker, A Hologram for the King never gets off the ground, due to its lack of a plot, or any actual emotions registering.

5 / 10

Hey, sometimes happiness is a simple drink in the middle of the day. Or so my old man tells me.

Hey, sometimes happiness is a simple drink in the middle of the day. Or so my old man tells me.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Alien (1979)

Now people understand why we don’t send more humans into outer-space.

In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. After landing on a barren planet, Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) works to decipher the transmission and discovers that the signal is actually a warning, not an SOS. But it is too late to turn back as three members of the crew have already left to investigate the derelict ship.

Movies like this are hard as hell to review because they are just loved by so many people, that it’s almost like a death sentence if you say one bad thing about it. So by the time this review is over, I’ll have to be looking over my shoulder at every corner now.

All of the credit for how awesome this film is, probably has to go to director Ridley Scott. First off, the film starts with all of these slow-moving shots of the space shuttle, where there’s nothing really going on except for there being an eerie feeling the whole way through. This was a great way to start off this flick in my opinion as it showed that the horror film that I was about to see, wasn’t just your ordinary, jump-scare horror flick, it was actually going to be more of a slow-burner that would take its time to build up its scares. Scott uses a lot of slow pans here to fully capture the set designs and spooky atmosphere but also depends on a lot of sounds (or lack thereof) to gain some spookiness too. So many horror films nowadays, feel the need to bring in this huge, grandiose score that makes you feel like you should be scared but somehow doesn’t. Here, Scott depends on a lot of moments of silence in certain scenes where we don’t have some soundtrack telling us what to feel at a certain moment and the noises that Scott usually replaces them with (the computer sounds still give me a chill till this day), actually take you more into this atmosphere than you expected.

Scott also did a pretty awesome job at making this spaceship, and just space itself, look absolutely beautiful with it’s amazing production that is still some of the most inventive in sci-fi movie history. The inside of that spaceship, is pretty freakin’ scary because you never know how big it truly is, what places are safe and what aren’t, and also, top all of that with a whole bunch of darkness that Scott adds in to truly mess with your heads. Hell, even the way those ventilation shaft doors shut gave me the chills! The film also ventures out to an unknown planet that also looks very beautiful, with it’s long, sweeping terrain to give the Alien egg farm some more creepiness to it than it already needed. I don’t know if I’m doing this flick any justice by the way I’m talking about it, but I can say that Scott did a perfect job of filming it all and gave it a very stylized look, even though it mostly takes inside a spaceship.

But it wasn’t just his art direction that kept me involved with this flick, it was mostly the fact that I knew some crazy shit was going to go down and Scott continued to build that idea up and up and up until, the whole film starts to go crazy (along with everybody on the ship). There’s always a sense of eerie dread in the air, something that Scott builds on and lets it get inside of our head the whole way through. You never know what’s going to happen next, but you know it’s not going to be good and whenever something bad does happen, it’s injected with so much frenetic energy, that almost don’t realize that they only last for a couple of seconds. We also never get to see the Alien quite as much you would think (the movie is named Alien for Christ’s sakes!) but every time it did show-up, wooooooo-weeee, did it create a lot of tension!!

The one problem that I did keep on finding myself running into was probably one of the dumbest details, but it was also one of the biggest of the whole movie: the cat. I had no idea what this cat was even doing here in the first place, which was fine with me, but the film started to bring it into some key moments like where a person would have to go look for it, only to get killed off the next second, or to have people at the end of the movie trying to save it, while the Alien is ready to kill and all-over-the-place. This just seemed like a cheat to have some characters die and give the characters a reason to go back on the ship, even though it’s about to self-destruct and strapped with a killer Alien on-board. Seemed really dumb, for a movie that was doing so many smart things with itself.

What I loved the most about this film, was how each and every character in this flick got the same amount of screen-time, which also meant that you cared for them a lot more rather than just being a bunch of walking cliches you would normally expect from a horror movie about a crew entrapped on a spaceship with large monster. Tom Skerritt is pretty manly and tough as Dallas, and it’s pretty easy to see why this dude was the head-honcho of the crew. Sigourney Weaver, as we all know, is pretty bad-ass as Ripley and gives her this smart and sassy edge, that really comes out of her by the end when it comes down to nut-up or shut-up time with the big Alien. Don’t know why she had to get half-naked at the end, but hey, she looks pretty good, don’t she?? Veronica Cartwright is a cutie-patootie but isn’t given much to do here, and even when she does do something, it seems like she’s just yelling, screaming, and worried about whether or not she’s going to die. Probably the lamest character out of the bunch, which is saying much. Harry Dean Stanton was a lot of fun as Brett, who brought a lot of humor with his usual, dead-pan delivery. Still can’t believe that dude is 85 now! Sheeesh! John Hurt is good as Kane but I do wish we could have seen more of him because we all do know what eventually happens to that dude. Ian Holm is creepy as balls, playing the freaky scientist, Ash, and just plays up that whole weird, off-kilter dude perfectly. Oh, and Yaphet Kotto is a lot of fun as the token black guy you always need to have in a sci-fi/horror movie. Not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just something you usually need to have to round it all out.

Consensus: Alien is definitely a sci-fi movie amongst sci-fi movies because it features a highly-stylized direction from one of the greats, Ridley Scott, who gives this film a very tense, dreary, and gloomy feeling the whole way through, and also keeps you guessing until the very end with scenes that are so iconic, I don’t even need to mention here. Just get out and go see it before you see Prometheus, because something tells me you’re going to have to do your homework for this one.

9/10=Full Price!!

A River Runs Through It (1992)

How exciting is fly-fishing after all?

Two fly-fishing brothers, straitlaced scholar Norman (Craig Sheffer) and trouble-finding gambler Paul (Brad Pitt), struggle to mollify their Presbyterian preacher father’s (Tom Skerritt) lofty moral — and fishing — standards. Director Robert Redford’s nostalgic meditation about the fierce bonds that unite and divide families is set in Montana in the early 1900s.

A River Runs Through It is one of those great books that is just so hard to make a film of. One reason because how can you make a film about how fly-fishing is the moral theme for this family over the decades.

But mostly for the effort I have to give the props to Redford as director, because mostly he makes this film have a lot of heart in places that you wouldn’t expect. He captures the heart and nature of the relationship that these two brothers have from childhood up to their adult years and it truly is something to see. The way he shoots the film is really beautiful and keeps you astonished by the images in this film.

The major problem I had with this film is that it was extremley slow and uninteresting at times. With a couple of exceptions, the film never really held my attention for a long period of time mostly cause nothing much really happens except for them talking and fly-fishing which after the 1 hour mark kind of gets annoying.

I liked the screenplay because it was written very poeticaly, but to say the least i kind of knew the whole time where it was going. I think by the end of the film it started to dive into areas that were abandoning its earlier themes, which were mostly all about being a  parent and raising a nice family.

The one better thing about this film is its performances from its two young leads. Sheffer and Pitt both seem like brothers that have grown old together and in every scene capture an essence of growing up and struggling with adulthood. Mostly, Pitt makes his charcater a lot more likable with his signature energy and makes his character the most watched.

Consensus: A River Runs Thrugh It is written and shot inteligently by Redford, but doesn’t have enough going on to fully keep your interest, but still a nice film.

5/10=Rental!!!